GingerDEAD House

Last night our daughters worked together decorating a Gingerbread house. It was great to see them work together so well. It was entertaining as well because they wanted to make it a part of their “Creepy Santa” escapades.

Of course they made a “GingerDEAD House” full of blood icing. I enjoyed listening to them tell stories of how the Gingerbread people died. I like that they created their own style of house instead of making it look like a perfect match from the box.

Creepy Santa is proud as well. I’m sure he’ll bring them something nice this year. You can follow him on Instagram. Hohoho Horror.

Cozy Music

I’m glad to have a couple of days off- I can now enjoy our home. It’s become very cozy for the holidays. Besides just the decorations.

Even our oldest has decided to lay down by the fire and listen to music. She has discovered that she has full control of the music that plays in the house. All from her iPhone. I let her download an app the controls our music.

At the moment, we get to enjoy a variety of Christmas music played from the Radio Addon on our Kodi Box. It’s been the best part of our home theater setup. Access to the internet and a variety of commercial free music of almost any genre!

A few years ago I installed small speakers all around our downstairs. This allows for a Disneyland like feel. As you walk through our downstairs, the left and right speakers slowly melt from room to room.

Playing Christmas music really makes the home feel inviting. Add a fire, a comfortable blanket and some warm tea- you may not want to leave.

Indoor Footwear

When I come home I take off my shoes. Only to put on slippers. Indoor footwear? Why? I guess to keep my feet warm. I don’t really mind walking around in socks or barefooted. But slippers are just a way of life. And we go through them rather quickly. About every three or four months, we need to get new ones.

I like owning slippers. My slippers wait for me at the side of my bed. The fuzzy comfort for my feet as I roll out of my nice warm bed. I always get at least one pair of slippers at Christmas. One year, my daughter gave me three pairs. She figured that way I wouldn’t run out before the next Christmas.

My wife has slippers that my children often steal. Even though they each have their own, they find it fun to take their mother’s slippers and walk around in them.

Recently, I picked up some “back up” slippers. They are hung under our stairs near the front door just in case someone in our family forgets their slippers upstairs. I also bought them because they reminded me of our trip to Tokyo.

Our hotel gave us each a pair of slippers that we were told we could keep. We received new ones Every Single Day. So we ended up with a pretty good stockpile of white slippers. My wife and I plan on giving them out when guests come over. Even just for dinner. We are going to offer slippers to make our home feel like a comfortable place they our guests can feel like it’s their home.

I’m looking forward to getting a new pair of slippers for Christmas. I should probably go out and buy a pair for my wife also. The kids are slowly killing hers.

Handmade Decorations

Christmas decorations have taken over our home. I love to decorate for the season. I even love piecing together decorations from the craft stores and dollar stores. Here are some of the house decorations we have that I’ve made over the years:

I love our garlands. The red, green and gold baubles are simple and elegant. (Even if the items are from the dollar store.) Here is this year’s Dollar Store decoration:

It’s our Nightmare Before Christmas themed wreath. This was easy to make. A few years ago I made some snowflakes that took me hours to cut out with an exacto knife:

Over the years, we also pick up items from craft fairs. I have a friend who makes awesome cards. Another couple who knit. One friend who makes winter houses. A friend of ours makes these neat flowers from sheet music, (we tend to leave it out all year because it’s awesome.)

My kids discovered some other crafts that they’d like to try. One includes molding old records, and we have quite a few of those around. So our kids want to make bowls as gifts:

There’s always more ideas floating around. More crafts to make and buy. More decorations to create. I’m worried that one day our home will turn into a Christmas house 365 days of the year at this rate.

What do you make at Christmas? Do you support local craft fairs as well? Let me know.

Freezer Food

I really don’t like having a freezer in our kitchen fridge. It becomes this frozen wasteland of food left to die a miserable death. The worst food that ends up in there?

Freezer Bananas.

Our plantation of uneaten brown bananas are being “saved” in order to make banana bread at a “later date”. When is that day you may ask? Later. Time to pack them back up, this time not just shoved into the freezer.

I pulled all of the food product items out and gave our freezer a wipe down. We had about a dozen unlabeled containers of soups, sauces, fruit(I think it’s fruit…), and freezer burnt meats. Time to figure out what to keep.

Ice Cubes- Zero

Ice crystals surrounding meat- at least a pound.

I found some chicken patties and an orange sliced in half squished at the back of the freezer. I don’t remember the last time we bought either of those items. Off to the food waste bin they go.

I re-organized the freezer with foods that we will use before Christmas. This should help over the next month or so. I still need to make ice cubes though. Or not. I don’t have any room for the trays at the moment.

But at least the bananas won’t fall and hit my toes like a brick any more.

Kitchen Aid Quality

Back in January, I mentioned that My Place Is In The Kitchen. I even spoke of my favorite appliance- The Kitchen Aid Mixer. Here’s the thing about my mixer:

It was a Christmas gift to my father back in 1985. It cost $299. After he passed away in the year 2000, I inherited the mixer.

It is the Kitchen Aid Ultra model. We still use it on a regular weekly basis and it has never failed us. It is by far the best appliance that I have ever seen. It is sturdy and durable. For a 33 year old appliance- it has earned its keep in our home many times over. It is still going strong.

Today my wife and I got sort of sucked into Black Friday deals. One in particular was for a new Kitchen Aid Mixer. I know we don’t need one. But this new model has a larger capacity for our baking needs. It was regular $725 on sale for $399 with a $100 Mail in rebate. Essentially it ends up being $299. The same price as my father’s Kitchen Aid mixer was back in 1985.

What I find awesome is that our old attachments can connect to this one as well. However, there is quite the size difference between the two mixers. Unfortunately the new one is just a bit too tall to slide nicely under our cabinets at the moment. So we will have it on display on our island for the Christmas season. Which won’t be an issue, since we will put it to good use this holiday season!

Come by and enjoy seeing our mixer this holiday season! I mean, come by and enjoy some of our baking! We’d love to have ya.

Tanks A Lot

Yesterday I mentioned how on Facebook it reminds me of my Yearly Bad Day in the memories section. It seems that the universe likes to throw curve balls at me every year around this time. Only this year was off by a day. Must’ve been a leap year of evil or something.

Last week I blogged about my Budget Friendly Kitchen Reno. Today I planned on finishing it up in order to clean the downstairs. In between coats of paint I decided to check on a slow leak we had coming from our pressure tank that helps pump the water into our home from the well. We had a plumber come out to fix it about two weeks ago. Only there was more than one leak- as I had discovered after he left. So I went behind the tank and checked the leak.

I figured out that I could fix it on my own. So I sent my wife to Home Depot for a part. While she was out, I turned off the pump and drained the water from the house. I proceeded to cut the pipe. Only I didn’t quite have all of the pressure out of the system. 40PSI Of water “BOOFED” at me as the knife cut through the pipe.

Soaked with ice cold water I scrambled to get some towels. My wife came home and I replaced the part easy as pie. Turned the water back on and a few minutes later I crouched down to check on my handiwork. Of course, I noticed a small leak still coming out. As I twisted the pipe to try and wedge it in a bit tighter, “BOOF” a different part exploded- this time with the pump on- our laundry room flooded. 20 times more ice cold water covered me.

I lost my shit!

I ran to shut off the pump. And returned to the tank to see what happened. And then a second piece snapped off. Soaked and angry, I had to go to the Home Depot and spend $20 to fix it. I came back home and my kids and wife had cleared out the laundry room giving me some space to repair the pipe again for the third time.

Five minutes later, everything is fixed and working. Now there are no leaks.

Just an angry Joe trying to catch up on his day.

The Yearly Bad Day

Facebook shared with me some of my past memories of this day. None were good.

Nine years ago, we were without running water. Our pump had died because the pipe from the well had collapsed. We were about one week without water.

Eight years ago, our computer died and I backed up photos. Unfortunately, what I backed it onto died two years ago. Now my wife “kindly” reminds me that I destroyed her memories of the kids.

Seven years ago, I ripped out a breakfast nook and worked to stucco our wall followed by installing a new floor. Seems I punish myself by doing renovations before Christmas on a regular basis.

Five years ago I talked about how I was being cranky and mean to my children. This one hurts emotionally.

Three years ago we received and Xbox. I played poorly and ate Halloween candy for dinner because I felt like crap. A realization that I am not a gamer kicked in.

Last year I spent the day in the hospital and got a CT Scan. It was followed by a trip to a pub with terrible service thus ending a frustratingly long day. But my results were positive.

Looking back, I realize that I have overcome a decade of frustrating events. Hopefully tomorrow my memories on Facebook are more pleasant. I can’t wait to see them. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?

Update the Kitchen- Budget Friendly

About a month ago I mentioned that we are thinking of Moving. But the home we are in is still a perfect size for our family at the moment. We’d only be moving for a short time, then have to downsize again later as it is once the kids move out. They do move out, right?

So my wife and I made a list of all the things we want done to finalize our home. That way we can spend the next while enjoying the house before selling. The number one thing was our kitchen. But our budget is really low. Like really, really, really low.

We couldn’t afford a total gut job of $25,000, so I called Home Depot about getting just the cabinet doors replaced. $6500 to start. Ouch. Next option? Paint. That’s more in our budget. And I found a product that does it for a fraction of the cost.

We bought Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit from Home Depot instead (as well as some new hardware for the drawer pulls). A little bit of hard work and preparation is required in order to change our cupboards into some much nicer. Out with the orange oak and into an elegant whitewashed antique style.

The process is time consuming to be honest. We have 20+ doors to redo. First is a deep scrub followed by two coats of white chalk like paint. Then a brown stain is applied and wiped off. Once dry a finishing coat is added. Simple, easy, and I have been truly enjoying it.

Over the course of three days, I have completed about 1/3 of the kitchen. My wife and I are loving the final results. It’s updated the kitchen on a budget spending less than $400 on paint, supplies and hardware. The only downside is the time it is taking me to complete the project. Our kitchen is in some disarray but I’ll get it done in a few more days.

If you’re a DIYer like myself, this product is fantastic. I’ll gladly recommend this to anyone who wants an updated kitchen at a low cost. I can’t wait to show off the final result to our friends at our next dinner party!

Crafting on the Cheap

I went to the dollar store yesterday and walked out with a cheap Christmas wreath.

It is rather ugly on its own, but I had a vision for it. I wanted to make my own Nightmare Before Christmas decoration. Similar to the one found on the Haunted Mansion ride:

Obviously I wasn’t going to make it as large. But with the ugliness of the dollar store wreath, I figured it could look cartoon like when done.

I pulled out some old craft foam we had and my glue gun. Within a few minutes, I had pretty much completed my decoration. I am impressed with myself.

All that’s left is to dig out an old red bow for the bottom and presto- our wreath will be completed. Now to just find a good place to hang it in our home.