DIY: Lighthouse

In place by the pond

reason for the lighthouse

For some time I have been wanting one of those cute light houses in my yard, and I really thought it would be perfect beside the pond. Well, I have looked at them in the store over and over and I was not about to spend that sort of money even though it really is not all that much. I began to look around the yard and decide what might work to make one, and make one I did. I wanted it mainly to cover the cords that belong to the lights and the pump inside the pond. See the mess off to the right side.

washed pots


I began by looking for four pots that would stack from largest to smallest. I even had to repot two plants to free up the pots I needed. When that was finished I took them inside and washed them up, then I took the small black one to the shop and spray painted it white. I may need to take the thing apart later and paint the tan pot to make it white so it all matches better. As for this box, it might be large and sort of a pain in the shop, but it sure saves on the clothing and surrounding areas to be able to place the object to be sprayed in the box rather than out in the open.


Light on!

Later I assembled all the pots by putting them on top of each other and jamming them pretty hard. The top is a light that we bought last summer. It runs on batteries and really is a mosquito repellent. I ended up wiring it to that pot that was painted white. I am not sure at this time if it will withstand a strong wind, but I will deal with that if and when the time comes. I am sort of wondering if maybe I should be doing a bit of hot glue on it or at the best perhaps a couple of lengths of rebar. I will have to think on that a little. At any rate, it was quite interesting last night after sunset when we turned it on. And, perhaps we should paint the green pots red, James doesn’t think it will work, but I sort of think it will. Any thoughts??

Work not on the list

Cabinet and open area where washer was.

Left over carpet as the counter top.

Today I need to get my message ready for tomorrow, but I am not ready to sit down to all of that, so in the meantime, it was off to work in another corner of the house. So after a little consultation we decided to take a stab at the garage in the northeast corner and deal with the counter top and the area where the garden items are. Mostly the picture to the left shows the east wall of the garage. The space where the washer was in now filled with boxes that hopefully we can fill and send out of the house as the summer goes along. The cabinet has no counter on this picture. We cleared it them took off the board that acts as the counter top so James could sort through the drawers without a hindrance. We also took off the cloth that we cover it with and washed it. Instead of putting the cloth back, we decided to try a carpet remnant that has been rolled up in a corner for a couple of years. Now to buy some staples to hold it in place. As we were working on it, we did a few other things that I am hoping to post soon, but have to wait for the sun to set to get the last picture in the project.

Washer on the pick up

Bye-bye old Maytag!!

The issue for today was to remove some items that are no longer of any use and to open up a little space in the area. We also wanted to clear the counter so that we can use it to do things rather than have to work on the little yellow cart or the freezer. It seems that every counter in the house or garage is so full of junk that we can’t ever work on it. The biggest deal of the day was my agreement to toss out the old Maytag washer. It was a gift from Albertus and MaryAnn (James’ parents) for our wedding which was 35 years ago this August. It worked up until last spring. When we tried to have it repaired we were told the drum was out and because it was so old there was no way to get parts for it. Quite sad.

Rearranged inside the porch

Blinds are down. Flag shows no wind today.

I also rearranged and sorted out my planting pots. By the time I was finished I decided to repot a few plants and moved some larger and some smaller and ended up opening up one of my big coffee cups so it could house a spider plant. Next James found one of our shades in the big shop. Somehow it was taken down last year because he thought it was broken. We made a few adjustments to how it was arranged, and yes it was partially broken, but we repaired it and hung it then expanded both it and the one beside to block some of the west sun. Sure makes the porch cooler and in turn the living room. Nice. So none of this was on the list from this week, but it was on the “all-time clean-out everything” list, and this was a nice start. My goal for the rest of the summer and fall is to toss out at least one bag, hopefully two and repurpose at least one other bag of something each day. I would say with the half a bag of garbage in the container and the removal of the washer we hit the garbage goal today. By rearranging and restacking the plant pots, I am hoping I can count another bag of repurposing. Now for a shower and get to that message for the morning. I am pretty sure there won’t be a power point this week, but maybe by the week after Father’s Day.

Jan. 14: Sorting some Christmas items

James and I finally put away the Christmas tree. If you read any of my previous posts, you have seen our little white tree. I posted a picture of this year’s version on both Dec. 25, 2016 and Dec. 29, 2016. We bought it a few years back for several reasons the number one being that there really isn’t any room in this house for a large tree. I also really dislike putting lights on the tree. Each year it was getting more annoying to do that, and when we saw this little table top tree with the lights already in place, it was a no brainer. After we got it home we decided to pick a different color theme each year and decorate accordingly. The first year it was read (picture found on Nov. 29, 2014 post), and candy canes were all over that tree. I think I even replaced them once. Last year the color was blue (picture of this found on Nov. 27, 2015 on my old lucindagardens site) and that was really pretty.

All the old ornaments boxed for storage.

This year we did gold, and I like that one too. So now rather than have to dig through the big box of ornaments and try to remember where the garland and string beads are located in the storage area, we boxed up the items by color and marked the outside of the box. I think next year we will start all over with green. I know we have a few bulbs, and if we are willing to use the old wooden ornaments that are mostly green, I think it will work. Pretty soon we can just pull out the box with the label and leave the rest in place under the steps. Yipee!!! We also did some rearranging in the boxes that we were using for storage, and found that we could get by with smaller containers. Sometimes sorting isn’t necessarily tossing anything out, it is just organizing more efficiently. That was our main focus today. We also fixed items that were damaged for example James glued the head back on a wooden soldier.

Blue decorations

Blue decorations

Red decorations

Red decorations

One of the things that makes our basement look way more cluttered than it needs to is all the cardboard boxes that I save. I keep telling myself that I need them for days like today (and I did find just the ones I needed) so I can find something better to relocate and repack items to keep. It is cheaper than purchasing fancy plastic tubs or baskets. It is also better for the environment than the plastic storage items. However, as a bit of advice to the young people out there, the best thing would be not to accumulate and especially not to purchase so much junk in the first place, and then you don’t need the storage containers or the space.  And think of all the money you save from: #1 not purchasing the stuff and #2 not purchasing the storage container and #3 not needing to spend money at the clinic or hospital on a sprained ankle from tripping over all the junk or worse yet a counselor or psychiatrist to get over your hording addiction. OK, so maybe #3 didn’t come out quite as funny as it was intended.

The bottom line on all of this refers to the third part of my philosophy of frugal/organized living, where I list that thing about ask yourself if you really need this. Most of these Christmas items I ended up getting at various auction sales. Almost nothing other than that little white tree were purchased at full retail price. This is where I get myself into the most trouble. I always think that if I am getting a bargain then of course it is fine to buy it. I have to stay away from auction sales because bidding becomes a high in itself, and if an auctioneer ignores me for a couple of items that I might think are ok, and I might actually use, then I get carried away on junk things and bid just for the fun of bidding. You might see why I never step foot inside a gambling casino. I am too afraid of participating in that form of recreation. Now if only I could get myself to find the high in exercising or cleaning, that might be a good thing.

Homemade ornaments!

Homemade ornaments!

Plastic canvass and crocheted items.

Plastic canvass and crocheted items.

So enough of my true confessions. During our sorting today, I also pulled out all of the little handmade ornaments from many years past. I now have them in a small container in my sewing area. I see that some of them are little felt items and others are made with the plastic canvass that was so popular years ago. I have a stash of each, and figured these would be great small projects that I can work on during long nights of watching television. They can then be used as gifts for the grandchildren later on down the road. Oh and those crocheted snowflakes, I have to figure out how to make those to give each of my girls some of their very own. These were a gift from my Aunt Sylvia the first year we were married. I have treasured them each year that I put them on the tree.

We also found a few items with Paulina’s name on the back, and they have been added to her box of Christmas ornaments that hopefully will disappear to her home when she graduates and gets out on her own. Someday…. Well enough for now. What have you organized at your place lately???

Frugal project: covered hangers


Samples from Irene

Today I decided to dig into a project I have been thinking of for over a year. It is a crochet covered wire hanger. I have several of them in my closet and have given others away in the past. I purchased them at the local thrift store and at an auction sale of one of our parishioners. Irene made many of them and I bought them in her honor. I have wanted to make them to honor her more. I have an entire laundry soap pail of wire hangers that could be used for this project, so no shortage of working on these. I took a few pictures, but not enough to explain the exact how to’s. I found a couple of places with good explanations and have posted them here: and the other one, which is a video is found at this site, but I don’t understand why it doesn’t show up in blue. by Sandy Shockley

img_8872I considered using the idea to tape the wires together and start at the hook, but then was too lazy to go down the steps for the tape, and convinced myself that if I ever wanted to wash them, I wouldn’t want the tape in it. So, I started by winding the yarn around the top of the hook tightly a few times then making a loop and beginning to crochet in a single crochet stitch taking the first loop under the wire and the second over and then pulling both through the loop on the hook. I won’t try to make this sound like a wonderful easy craft. The hangers are awkward to hold and the stitch is tough at best. The only redeeming factor is that even though it isn’t easy, it doesn’t take long to complete and it would be a great way to use up scraps of yarn.

Chosen wires

Chosen wires

Final project!!

Final project!!

Before I began, I spent some time choosing a couple of hangers that matched. I ended up grabbing a pliers and doing a bit of bending to get the little hook on the neck tight to the neck wire. They were not a perfect match, but as close as I could find. I think that might be part of the difficulty, finding two hangers that match. I do recommend using two hangers rather than just one for this project. One of the sample instructions that I shared suggests using two strands of yarn, and I feel that might be hard to manipulate, though maybe it was that I was using too small of a hook. I used a size G.

Roger about to nap!

Roger about to nap!

In terms of frugal living, this is a perfect project. It saves wire hangers from being tossed in the garbage and turns them into very useful hangers. I like these much better than plastic because there are no sharp edges that can snag a delicate garment. Also the yarn holds your garment in place and prevents it from falling off the hanger. Besides that it is a good way to use up extra yarn. These are tough to make, but actually a fairly quick craft and a nice extra little gift to throw into a gift basket at Christmas or birthday or some other time. I did have a little help while crocheting. Roger sat tight against me and held the yarn until she fell asleep. I guess she needed attention.

Hope you enjoyed the frugal project idea. I guess it could also count in de-cluttering because it gives you a place for all those wire hangers you want to toss out.

Jan. 11: Sorting clothing

I do not have any pictures of my work yesterday, you will just have to believe me. I really, really want to take my closet apart and start over, but at this point I do not have a place to put everything or the time to do it, so I am starting small and working my way up. Yesterday I went through the hanging items and took out everything that is a summer garment. At this point with anticipated wind chills of -32, I am fairly sure that I have no need for any sleeveless tops or cropped pants. They all were folded neatly and placed into a tub until summer, well except for the one that needs washing. In my next round I will sort out all the items that are old and worn and should not be seen on anyone in public. Those will go in the rag container or the drawer of t-shirts to wear in the garden whichever seems most appropriate.

The other clothing items that I dealt with were my drawers of socks and unmentionables. I now have a box of socks and a few other items to sort into what I am not sure. There were three items that went into the actual trash right from the drawers, so that was a very positive thing. I also set aside one top from my closet to the sewing pile to take a chance on repurposing it. I am hoping for positive result with it as it is a fairly unused top, but I never liked how it fit, and maybe if I try chopping it up and sewing it into something else, it might be of use, and if it doesn’t work, nothing really lost.

Finally the last area that I cleaned out was the towel area. This cupboard drives me crazy because it is way too deep. If I put my towels all the way to the back of those shelves I would never be able to reach them. It originally was a horrible closet. The carpenter who did our house showed the space to the cabinet maker, but they never discussed how to do it. The carpenter but in three shelves, but the cabinet maker made a front for it with two doors. For at least three years, I nearly lost my mind every time I tried to get something out of it. I finally took out the shelves then crawled into it and repositioned the little ledges and put in one shelf at the same level that the cabinet door opens. It still is not the best, but I now use the back of the shelf area to store some of my Christmas collections. So, the sorting included arranging a few boxes of Christmas items in the back, taking out the old worn out towels and sending them to the other bathroom for storage until I can deal with deciding to toss or cut for rags, restacking the good towels into piles of bath, hair and hand towels. I also left some storage for the extra TP so it doesn’t have to go into the area below the sink and risk getting wet if the sink leaks. Hurrah!! Now if I only had a master list, I could cross off 5 things!!

Roger by her heater vent.

Roger by her heater vent.

Sophia sleeping by the window

Sophia sleeping by the window

I do have a couple of pictures to share. In the morning before I got started Sophia and Roger were in the kitchen with me and as I was having breakfast they were taking a break. Sophia was sleeping on the blanket that Paulina left for her on the dining room table looking to the north. She is quite happy that I finally put that Advent tree away and packed up the toy trains. Roger on the other hand was sitting tight against the heater vent under the sink. It is one of her favorite places to sit. After I took that picture I noticed how dirty the floor was so I ended up sweeping the kitchen a couple of times. Yikes, embarrassing to see that in a photo. It seems that the more we bake and cook around here the worse it gets. So, what have you sorted lately??

Jan. 9 Working on the clutter/organizing

It feels like I did nothing today, and yet I picked songs for Sunday and organized my brain which took the major part of the day. Ha! What I really did was fill in my calendar in terms of when I have to lead the worship at the Health Care Center and write the articles for the local newspaper this year. I also sorted through my binder of what needs to be completed this year. That was the organizing my brain part.

Messy counter

Messy counter

Clean counter

Clean counter

What I accomplished that you can see is cleaning off the kitchen counter, sorting and organizing the empty jars and removing several items from the freezer so that the pizza order fits in. We made it with that just barely. I had to drag three of the larger ones into the freezer above the fridge. I guess I know what we will be eating this week. Not really, pizza is usually set aside for Friday nights.

Tonight is a clean out the fridge sort of night with some hamburgers and hash browns made from the potatoes we boiled up on Thursday night when Paulina was here. So the cleaned off counter is sort of a joke. I still have to sort through those onions and probably slice them up for dehydrating tomorrow. I will be sure to put on some really sad music since the aroma with have my eyes in tears anyway. I put the other items where they belonged and the biggest issue was I finally fit those blue mugs into the cupboard. Hurrah. I love using them, but I just always overlook them where they are. They were a gift from my sister-in-law a few years ago. Notice the two trays hanging up on the wall. It is my version of no backsplash. I know that my cupboards are not considered real modern, but this house was built in 1917 and the intent when we took it was more of a semi-restore than a full out remodel. White cupboards and marble countertops were not really the fad in those days. Everything was wood on wood and that is where we are.

That propane tank was cleared off a bit on Friday, now look at it.

That propane tank was cleared off a bit on Friday, now look at it.

Well enough for now really. What have you decluttered today? What have you organized?? I am still thinking that the bathroom upstairs is calling my name. I am thinking that might happen tonight. Last night I went through the church email via the webmail and got it from over 500 to a little more than 250. If I throw out what I sent, I should have it wiped out. Hurrah!! Digital clutter counts as clutter, no need to keep what you won’t ever use. Enough and stay warm, we had more snow this morning, just glad it quite by afternoon. Hope the storms mentioned for early this week do not develop.

Making lasagna with Jessica!!

So, a bit more on that making things for yourself. This time the concentration is food. I am sure many of you have made a pan of lasagna or two, but in case this is something new for you, here is an idea of how we make it as much from scratch as possible for now. I have a pasta maker and really should be using that to a degree, but just didn’t get into that the way I thought that I would.

Pan of lasagna!

Pan of lasagna made by Jessica at her place!

Jessica loves lasagna and since she is carrying twins, we have been nagging her to eat more protein, consume more dairy and on and on. As if she wouldn’t have a clue how to take care of herself. This is the daughter who as a freshman in college having never flown before gets on a plane on her own and travels to the national college newspaper convention connecting through Chicago O’Hare Airport. I nearly freaked out when I found out, but of course by that time she was safely back in her dorm room. The following year she went to the convention, it was in Kansas City the same year that they won the World Series. Thankfully she wasn’t yet 21 so there was no worry about her trying to party with everyone there celebrating the win. And at age 26, she won a seat in the state house of representatives, thankfully she is out of that dumpster fire for this session and next, but I am getting off track. This is a post about how we in our non-Italian family make lasagna. Let’s call this the German version.

Layering the cottage cheese.

Layering the cottage cheese.

Putting on the shredded cheese

Putting on the shredded cheese

Start by placing uncooked (no boil) lasagna noodles along the bottom of a cake pan or lasagna pan. Cover the noodles with a layer of cottage cheese. Add a layer of ground hamburger then pour on half a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce and sprinkle generously with shredded cheese. We used mozzarella. Oh yes, throw on some basil and oregano, or a mix of Italian seasoning after the sauce. Repeat the whole process but before you put on the final layer of cheese add one more layer of noodles. At this point I press the noodles firmly down until the juice of the sauce covers the last layer of noodles then sprinkle with one more layer of cheese and cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake 35-45 minutes on 350. I usually check on it at about the 30 minute mark and if it seems to be absorbing the liquid and the noodles are softening, pull off the foil and let the cheese brown a bit. Take out, let set up a bit (5 min.) then cut and enjoy. This is good served with toasted garlic bread or whatever you desire.



So how does this fit with my frugal philosophy? For me this is a great way to use up cottage cheese that isn’t quite as fresh as the type I would serve with a salad or eat as a side dish. I also find that one quart of spaghetti sauce is not always enough and this is also a way to use that last cup of tomato juice or even a partial jar of salsa (if you enjoy a little spice in your food—doesn’t make it in our house!!) Perhaps that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but when you are trying to get ahead of expiration dates and are not sure what to cook up, this is a great way to use those particular foods.

Hope this has made sense to you. Is there any special dish that you throw together when you are trying to clean out the fridge or the pantry??? Please share. No judging here.

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