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25 Sep A new sink and faucet

If you follow my blog, you know I like to work with my hands and that I also like a challenge. Installing a bathroom sink and faucet was the most challenging home project I have ever attempted. It was difficult and I’m not going to say you should try it. But I can give you some tips on what to look out for if you want to do it yourself.

Things You Need

You need the right tools for the job. Here is a photo of the tools I used. They are in the top portion of my pink toolbox (ignore the bottom part). The donut shaped object below the safety glasses is Teflon tape. It’s cheap. Buy it.

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

You need safety glasses because you will be laying down on your back in your cabinet under your sink and when you loosen or tighten parts, you will get gunk, dirt, dust, and water on your face so you want to protect your eyes. You might even drop a locknut or worse, your pliers on your face when your hands get tired from loosening and tightening parts. I kept repeating to myself, “Use both hands to hold onto the pliers!”  This worked for me and I didn’t drop anything on my face. In fact, I didn’t have any injuries other than accidentally squeezing my thumb in my pliers! No damage was done fortunately.

You need the patience of Job (In the Bible). You need determination, perseverance, and commitment. You need to laugh at the face of the unknown. I knew nothing about installing a sink or faucet. I knew nothing about water pipes. You need to be fearless when you go to your local Menards or Lowes for help because even if you find a female sales associate, they will inevitably get a male associate to help you. Some male associates feel threatened by a woman who wants to install a sink herself or who has “technical” questions. Ignore their attitude and focus on their answers. If they stump you with a question that you don’t know the answer to or they become stumbly, bumbly themselves, don’t give up! Stall. Ask more questions. Read the label yourself of the item they say you need. If all else fails, ask to speak to another associate. Don’t let them intimidate you. As a last resort, ask to speak to the manager and tell him the problem. Fortunately, I never had to go that far.

You need silicone to keep water out of certain parts and to keep certain parts in place. The instructions that come with your new faucet will show/tell you where to use it. There were no instructions with my sink, but the sales associate at Lowes told me to use it under the sink to anchor it to the top of the cabinet. He said it would hold. He better be right! I bought Silicone Extra. That “extra” better stand for extra strong adhesion! But more about that later.

You need a roll of paper towels. Leaks will happen. I started with a nice thick bath towel but once that got wet, then what? So, I found paper towels to be better. And a small bucket for the bigger leaks.

You need a small fan to help dry out the cabinet from the leaks. It is also helpful to help dry the silicone and WD-40 or anything else you use. It is also important for adequate ventilation when using these chemicals. I opened a window and my patio doors too and turned on the fan vent on the ceiling.

Run a Fan to Dry Space!

Run a Fan to Dry Out the Space!

You need light! It’s dark in that cabinet. I used a small desk lamp and also a large flashlight. It has a 6V super heavy duty battery and is used for the outdoors. I use it indoors when there is a power outage.

You need a digital camera. If/when you get to a part/area that either doesn’t fit or doesn’t work and you’ve tried everything you can think of, take a picture of it and go to your local Menards, Lowes, or wherever and tell the sales associate the problem. If you are having problems explaining it or he or she is not getting it, show them the photo of it on your camera. I had my digital photo ready but I remembered the magic word “flexible” while I was at Lowes, and didn’t need to show my photo. I reasoned that I needed a flexible trap pipe because my sink drain was mysteriously at an angle instead of straight down and I couldn’t figure out why! It is also shorter than my previous drain. If you don’t have a digital camera, draw a diagram.

You need something soft and cushiony to lay on, kneel on, and sit on. You will be doing all three. I used my rubber exercise mat and doubled it. It was a knee saver!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Reserve books about plumbing from your local library. Search the internet to see photos and instructions on installing and removing bathroom sinks and faucets. My old sink had anchors and screws to hold it in place. My new sink came with zilch, nada, nothing. You get what you pay for: $29 at Menards. Cheap, but looks good!

My cabinet is 30” wide so for my cabinet, I needed to be able to squeeze my body into the 16 ½” x 12 ½” door space. At 5’8” and 164 lbs, that was a challenge. Sometimes I had to angle my shoulder in on the diagonal. You need to have the stamina to go in and out of your cabinet many, many times to make adjustments! If this is your first time installing a sink and faucet, make that many, many, many times! Bonus: I lost weight doing this project!

Can you fit into a small space?

You Need to Fit into a Small Space!


I began this project on September 3rd, 2015. Then I got sick with bronchitis and had to leave everything “as is,” code words for the mess from hell. It stayed like that for several weeks until I recovered! It helps to have a second bathroom with a functioning sink. I do have a half bath but the sink doesn’t function so I had to substitute my kitchen sink for brushing my teeth, etc., etc. Actually, all of my sinks need work.

Read over the instructions that come with your faucet and sink. Carefully study the diagrams. I labeled parts in the diagrams myself which helped. But be prepared for instructions that don’t tell you everything! Just when I thought I was all finished and began cleaning things up and putting stuff away, I found a small, black washer in the box that the faucet came in. “What is this? Where does this go?” I re-read the directions for the 5th time. Nothing about a small black washer. I scrutinized the diagrams again. And there it was. It wasn’t even labeled! I could strangle the author! So, I had to undo a pivot nut, pull out the horizontal rod, and slip on the washer. (It had been a place where I was getting a LEAK. No wonder!) It was an easy fix, but it could have been much more difficult. Hey, I couldn’t have ALL bad luck!

Differences of Opinion

My instruction sheet said to use silicone on the underside of the flange. The flange is the shiny round part that you see when you are standing up, looking down at your sink drain. It’s where the water goes down the drain. One of the library books I borrowed said to use Plumber’s Putty on the underside of the flange. I decided to go with Plumber’s Putty but only in that area. Why? Well, I’ve watched many episodes of Ask This Old House on PBS in the past and they always use Plumber’s Putty. Also, the putty is easier to work with and to clean up. Most of all, I believed that if I had to remove the flange for whatever reason, it would be easier to remove after using putty and nearly impossible to remove with the use of silicone. Fortunately, I didn’t have to put that to the test!

Advice vs. Reality

Some of my plumber’s books rated each project from easy to difficult. Most were labeled easy. If you are a plumber, it’s easy. If you are like me, it’s difficult. Don’t believe everything you read. I screwed and unscrewed every locknut, pivot nut, and part at least twice. The instruction sheet showed four areas where you need to look for leaks when you are all done and start to run the water. Don’t believe them. Nearly every connecting part leaked when I ran the water at the end of the project. I’m not exaggerating. This was after I, with all my might and pliers, tightened each part. LEAKS!

Places that leaked

So Many Places to Leak!

So I loosened water tube parts, cleaned them off as roughly as I could to remove any debris and retightened them until I was exhausted! That worked. I already told you about the black washer above. In fact, now that I think of it, the only two parts that DIDN’T leak were two of the four parts the instructions said would leak! Idiots! By the way, if they say not to over tighten, ignore them. Unless you know for sure that you are as strong as a plumber, tighten with all your might. A tornado might be able to move me but it won’t be able to move my sink and faucet. Not now, anyway!


Don’t give up hope! Towards the end of this project I was getting discouraged at all the leaks and wondered if I would need to get a plumber. Yet, after all I went through, I wasn’t fully ready to surrender. I’m beginning to realize where my son gets his stubborn streak.

With all the information you have at your fingertips, sometimes it just isn’t enough. So, you have to use your noodle! Although I hate the expression, “Think Outside the Box,” you may have to think outside the box. For example, I kept having a leak at one of the pipe joints. This was a connection between my old pipes and the new pipe part. The old pipe part had a screw nut to attach to the old pipe trap part. The new pipe trap part came with a similar screw nut. At first I used the new screw nut but it kept leaking at the joint. I counted how many times I could turn the new screw nut. Eight times. I removed it and put on the old screw nut and counted how many times I could turn it. Thirteen times. The old screw nut made more sense to me so I used it instead. No more leaks! Do you understand the logic there? I hope so.

After watching repairmen do their jobs in my house, I am confident that anything they can do, I can do too. Maybe even better. Certainly without breaking something as I’ve seen them do to my property! Some of them are careless and klutzy. I am not, neither will you be because it is YOUR property! One of them broke my newly installed thermostat and didn’t replace it! Another broke off the spigot of my water heater while he was fixing my furnace. I had a flood in my kitchen! Another threw away my faucet filter into the trash without telling me that it could be cleaned out and put back! Aaaargh!


I am not so secure in my work in that when I use my new sink and faucet I won’t be checking for drips and leaks. I will definitely be checking underneath every time I use the sink, at least for the first few weeks. I even put a mini-bucket under the pipe trap where it had leaked during testing. If I find water in it, I will know I have a leak and either need to tighten some more or find some other solution. But folks, really, with all the tightening I did, I’m expecting my sink and faucet to BOING out of my bathroom!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Was it all Worth it?

You bet it was! My new sink and faucet are gleaming! I need sunglasses when I walk into the bathroom! I feel the need to dress up! I find myself wiping up every bit of moisture in the sink and on the faucet after I use it! It’s like having a new car! Better! I have pride of ownership and tremendous pride in the success of my project. I am so happy! If you tackle this project, contact me if you need help. GOOD LUCK!

Job satisfaction is good for your health!



23 Sep New Drain - Old Pipes

 When I bought my house 18 years ago, little did I know that I would become an expert at fixing so many things around the house. My parents never owned a house so I can’t say that I learned from my dad or mom. I learned on my own with help from the Internet and library books.

I don’t like to brag, but I’m going to.


In 18 years, I’ve repaired both my toilets using replacement parts which included having to saw off a corroded part. Picture all 5’8” of me on my stomach sawing off a part that I couldn’t see from my angle on the floor. I didn’t break anything that wasn’t supposed to break and I was successful in repairing leaky, running, and over-flowing toilets. Who needs a plumber?

Wood Doors

I wrote a post about this and if you want to read it, just type in  “doorway” without the quotes in the search field at the top of the page. I fixed my wood accordion doors that enclose my washer and dryer. A screw had stripped so the door was inoperable. I had to take the door down to see what was going on because I had no clue. I created a new screw hole and the door has worked fine since.

Rain Gutters and Spouts

Who likes to clean out rain gutters, raise your hand! It’s such a messy job and I got tired of it. Over the years, I bought two kinds of cheap gutter covers. One was a foam type cover that didn’t fit, or so I thought. The other was a plastic weave roll that you could cut to size. Neither worked well. I decided to get something more expensive this year that would thwart what my maple tree delivers.

Thanks to my maple tree, my gutters were filled with leaves, twigs, whirligigs, stems, and muck. I also had clogged drain spouts. At first I used a crappy pair of ice tongs to remove the debris. That didn’t work very well. I tried using my garden trowel. That didn’t fit in the gutter. Finally, I got the brilliant idea of using my long barbeque tongs. They worked great and they also worked great helping to clear the drain spouts. If you decide to tackle this job yourself, be prepared to get mucky water splashed on your face and clothes, not to mention leaves, twigs, and whatever in your hair. You will be bitten by mosquitoes too not to mention that it doesn’t smell so great either. But hey, if you’ve changed a diaper in your lifetime you’re ready for anything!

My drain spouts had solidified with debris. No garden hose was going to do the trick. At first I used the long wooden end of my hammer to push the stuff down. That only compacted everything more. I tried using the bathroom shower and sink drain wires as seen advertised on TV that I bought at Meijer years ago. They didn’t work either. I finally decided to use a wire coat hanger that I had straightened out and at one time used in my vegetable garden for who knows what. It was rusted by now but who cares! It loosened up the debris as I shoved it down the drain spout and with the help of my barbeque tongs, was able to remove enough debris so that when I inserted the garden hose at full force, the water cleaned out the rest of the spout. Persistence counts! It was probably clogged for years!

As for the more expensive gutter covers? They were $2.18 each at 4’ a piece at Lowes. I needed a total of 33 of them. I did this over the course of three days. I could have completed it in two days but I ran short and had to buy more. I’ve learned one thing in tackling these jobs myself. Nothing is as easy as they say it is in a book. If everything is going well and you think you’re going to be finished ahead of schedule, don’t count on it. The last thing you do will be the thing that takes the longest!

At first I was buying these gutter covers at Menards. They ran out of them. They said they had a back order and wouldn’t get them in until September. (I started this project August 7.) They told me to go to one of their other stores. (A ½ hours drive for me.) I decided to check out Lowes. They had gobs of them and they were about $.50 a piece cheaper! Hah! Luckily I only bought and installed five from Menards.

These gutter covers are a rubberized plastic with round holes the size of a thumbtack but also have a mesh covering on top of that to prevent little, teeny, tiny things from getting caught like the stems of leaves, etc. That is what I wanted! You slide them under your roof shingles and snap the other end of them onto your gutters. After installing the first one, I got the hang of it and the rest were, well, I wouldn’t say easy, but easier to do than the first one!

Funny Story

While standing on line at Menards with my five gutter covers, the man behind me asked me if I was going to install them myself. When I said yes, he laughed and asked me if I would do his too! He asked if I was going to get up on the roof. I said no. I was able to finish the job mostly on the third rung of my ladder. At the back of my house, in some areas, I had to get on the fourth rung which is a little scary at first but I was very careful and didn’t rush anything. One thing I didn’t do was hold on to the gutters! A couple of times I held on to the shingles while climbing down the ladder! Some of the nails in the gutters were protruding so they got a few whacks with a hammer. And that’s another story but not funny.

Gutter Nails

My gutter nails were popping out all over so I decided to start my gutter project with new gutter nails. I looked at what they had a Menards and what they had was a slight improvement of what I already had in the gutters. The groves in the new nails were deeper. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a nail that would screw in. With the help of a nice Italian salesman, we looked at the catalog and I special ordered screw-in gutter nails. They arrived about a week later. Guess what? You can’t screw in these gutter nails with a screw driver. The end of the screw had a small square hole in it and the screws came with a special part that you would insert into the square hole along with your electric power drill. Hey, I’m good but I’m not power drill ready yet! If I ever decide to start making my own furniture or what-have-you, I will buy a power drill! I returned the screw nails to Menards. As for this project, I decided a few good whacks with my hammer and the old nails would have to do. If the nails popped out again, I would buy the better version of the nails that I have. Theoretically, and this is where my college education comes in handy, since the gutters are now cleared and so are the downspouts, there won’t be as much weight in the gutters from all the rain filling them up. Less weight, less pulling on the gutters, less strain on the nails. Theoretically.

Leaky Kitchen Faucet

Fixing a leaky or dripping kitchen faucet is an easy job, so say the books. Sure, as long as your water shut-off valves work! I was able to shut off my hot water supply but the cold water wouldn’t budge. No matter how many whacks with a hammer, no matter how much lubricating oil, no matter how much WD-40…..well, actually I don’t know about the WD-40. I didn’t buy it until AFTER I finished the job. My house main water shut-off valve is behind my washer. So, undaunted, I pulled out my washer. That wasn’t easy! It was the second time I pulled out that washer. The first time was about a month ago when I decided to replace the water hoses since it’s recommended you replace them at 5-years. I did and it was uneventful – one of the few uneventful projects I’ve ever done. But back to my kitchen sink. I shut off the main shut-off valve and checked the kitchen sink. I had removed the handles and could see that the cold water had a small amount of water still coming through. Although it took me much longer with the water constantly coming through, I managed to change the handle, cartridge, spring, and seat of the cold water which had been dripping. No more water drips!

Bathroom Sinks and Faucets

This is my latest project and one that I just finished. Last summer my air conditioning man told me he used to do plumbing work. I told him I wanted to get a new bathroom sink and faucet. He said if I would buy the replacement sink and faucet, he would do the work for $200. At the time I thought I would let him do it. But I’ve come so far on my projects and have gained so much confidence that I decided it was time for me to tackle this project too.

I removed the sink and didn’t bother removing the faucet since it was attached to the sink so I saved myself some effort there. I temporarily carefully dropped in the new sink and faucet. I wasn’t able to attach the pipes to the drain pipe of the sink! The trap didn’t meet the drain; there was a half inch gap!

New Drain - Old Pipes

My New Drain Didn’t Meet Up with My Old Pipes!

Unfortunately I began this project at 4:00 in the afternoon and gave up at 11:30 in the evening when I started to feel sick.  

So, as you might have gathered, I needed to become an expert in pipes – maybe get some new pipe parts. Did I come up with a solution?

More about my bathroom sink and faucet project in an upcoming post!

P.S. What’s good for my pocketbook is good for my health!



Time for Some Levity

26 Nov Poking the Pillsbury dough boy

Please join me in remembering a great icon – the veteran Pillsbury spokesman. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. The gravesite was piled high with flours.


Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch.


His long time friend, Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very “smart” cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he even still, as a crusty old man, was considered a roll model for millions. Toward the end it was thought he would rise again, but alas, he was no Tart.


Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough; two children, Jane and John Dough; plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral will be held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.



I figured since many of us would be baking for Thanksgiving that you would enjoy this. I can’t remember who sent it to me or when, but I’m glad I found it in my files!






How an Inheritance can Fracture Your Family

12 Nov DaVinciS

After seeing how inheritance issues have left my extended family with hurt feelings and relatives not talking to each other anymore, I concluded that adult children should be treated equally when it comes to an inheritance. I came across an article by Jean Chatzky  a best-selling author and an award-winning personal finance journalist and thought I’d share it with you. Below are excerpts from her article. It opened my eyes. She quotes several experts in the field. I’ve added my own rebuttals below each of her 5 steps. I added a 6th step.

  1. Can you communicate openly? According to Detroit area elder law attorney Mark Accettura. “Estate planning is not a democratic process. It’s really the parent’s wishes,” he says. Parents should give kids a basic sense of where they stand financially — always noting that the situation can change if more money needs to be spent on their own medical care — as well as clear instructions about whom to contact and where important papers are kept.


Me: As someone who majored in Communications, I firmly believe it’s a miracle that any of us can understand what anybody says. Seriously. Yes, some of us are better at communicating than others, but you better be prepared for that good old “perspective” not to mention someone’s life experiences to throw you for a loop!

Here’s a test. Picture an apple. In fact, draw an apple and jot down all the details of your apple. Did you do that yet? Good! There are over 400 followers on this blog. Guess how many of you will have the same exact apple details? NOBODY! One of you will have a red apple, one of you will have a green apple, one of you will have a small apple, or a big apple, or a sliced apple, or a baked apple, or applesauce, etc. That test was our communication only about a simple apple.


The Big Apple

Answer this question. How many families have open communication? Aren’t families notorious for having “family secrets”? Don’t get me wrong, open communication is a great idea. If you can accomplish it, you’re way ahead of the game. Also, I might add, do you feel comfortable about telling your children where you stand financially? Sorry, I don’t. I might as well post my assets on my blog. Haven’t we been brought up never to talk about “religion, politics, and money”? Now, nearing our deathbed (or not), we’re supposed to tell our kids about our assets? That’s like telling our kids what sex positions we like. Does my son know my basic financial worth? I think so. Who can remember? A better question is, “Does he give a flying leap?”

  1. Are you treating each child equally? One of the most frequently asked questions by anyone leaving an inheritance is whether they have to treat the kids equally. Experts say it certainly helps.

“If you want to minimize fighting, leave it as equal as you possibly can,” says Accettura. That applies not just to assets but also to responsibilities for settling your affairs. “When parents appoint responsibility they’re making a statement as to who is worthy, capable, who they trust. It’s a final statement and it’s irrevocable, so it’s important to be concerned about people’s feelings.” He suggests that anyone capable should at least have a small role.


Me: Ah, this is such a subtle thing, appointing responsibilities but Accettura really nails it on the head when he talks about “a parent’s statement as to who is worthy, capable, and who they trust.” How many parents take this into consideration? It seems minor, but it’s about as minor as a walk across a minefield.

  1. Did you leave the decision making up to one child? Leanna Hamill, a Boston-area estate planning attorney, has seen parents with, say, a $200,000 life insurance policy name their oldest child beneficiary and trust him (or her) to divvy it up among the siblings. Big mistake.

“If you want all siblings to inherit equally, put them all down as beneficiaries,” she says. If you have jewelry, art or other items to bequeath, leave a list of who gets what, along with a method for dividing up whatever is left so that people can take turns calmly.


Me: Suppose one of your children is a Financial Advisor. You should have that child be the beneficiary and trust him or her to divvy it up. Right? Big Mistake in my opinion! Put them all down as beneficiaries and follow the rest of the advice of Hamill.

  1. Are you distributing unequally based on what you think you know about your children’s assets? There are reasons parents do this — perhaps one child earns significantly more than another, and therefore needs less — but it can lead to resentment, which is why, Hamill says, many people avoid talking to their kids about inheritances in the first place. At the very least, write a note to go with the will, she says. “Leave something that says, ‘I love you all equally. Here is why I am doing the distributions the way I am.'”


Me: This goes back to #1. Communicating AND my two cents about perspective. Does the parent really know the income/savings of each child or are they guestimating? If you distribute unequally, maybe you better get copies of their income tax returns first! You might be surprised! And who’s to say that the child who has more doesn’t lose half of it in the stock market or housing crash, earthquake, flood, or whatever, 10 minutes before you die? All the more reason to distribute equally. The only exception I see to this rule would be if you gave money to one child while you were alive.

  1. A trust might eliminate some uncertainty. If you want to make sure your children use the money wisely, consider putting it in trust with a few strings attached. Many estate planning attorneys recommend distributing the assets in chunks (typically one-third at age 25, one-third at age 30 and one-third at age 35).

The thinking is that with maturity will come better financial decision-making. You can also include a provision that if your child is going through some sort of substance abuse problem at that time, the distribution can be held to a later date.


Me: Wow! They surprised me with the mention of a child having a substance abuse problem. What are the chances that the child will be substance-abuse free by age 35 or 40 or 50! Tough decisions, very tough decisions. Fodder for making the decision to have only one child or none! Or, spending it all on yourself or giving it away to charities! That’s not so far-fetched so I added a Step 6.

  1. Don’t leave your children anything. The singer Sting, formerly of The Police who is worth over $300 million, stated he would not be leaving an inheritance to his children. Other wealthy parents who share this point of view are Bill Gates, Warren Oats, and Nigella Lawson, just to mention a few.

Leaving and/or receiving an inheritance should be good for your mental and physical health, but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. Proceed cautiously.



High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator) Part II

24 Sep

When I had bought my Whirlpool Estate eleven years ago, the instructions said to wash the inside of the fridge before storing the food. My new Frigidaire instructions didn’t say anything about washing it but I did it anyway. I hated to take the time to do it, knowing that all my food was melting, but it was easier to do it then than later! Plus, while wiping it down, I found particles of white plastic in the freezer so I was glad I took the time to do it. The outside of the fridge still had some Styrofoam particles on it so I wiped the outside of the refrigerator too. I can’t tell you how many times I wiped and mopped up the floor which was still sticky in spots for days!


I was lucky in that I had finished the caramel swirl, chocolate chip ice cream the day before my refrigerator went out on me. Wouldn’t that have been a lovely mess! I was also lucky in that I decided to pull the fridge out from the wall for the umpteenth time Wednesday morning to check the drip tray. It was filled to the brim. If I hadn’t checked, the delivery men would have likely spilled it all over. That would have been a nightmare. I got an old towel and a bucket and drained it dry.


The new Frigidaire had tape everywhere! It was worse than a crime scene! The shelves were shrink-wrapped in plastic. What a pain when you’re in a hurry! I was afraid I would break the shelves getting the tape off. Since I was working as fast as I could, I didn’t get every drip off every food item so some things went in the fridge moist. That was a mistake. The next day, I noticed I had water in my crisper drawers. I was hoping the new fridge wasn’t malfunctioning already and thought it might be from the wet items on the shelves so I mopped up the crisper drawers with a paper towel and dried off some of the foods on the shelves. I still had to cook the defrosted meats because I didn’t want to throw them out. Who wants to cook at a time like this?


I had some Coho Salmon that defrosted, previously purchased from the fish counter so it was well-wrapped. I just threw that in a frying pan with some butter and ate it before anything else. It was very good! I also made a bag of previously frozen shelled edamame to go with it – the kind you just put in the microwave and steam. Easy and quick was all I could handle Wednesday night.


On Thursday morning, I was up early because it was going to be the coolest day of the week and I needed to mow the backyard. It was actually pleasant with a mild breeze. We had been having hot, sweltering, muggy, rainy, humid weather in the high 80’s. Even though I had long pants on and a shirt with long sleeves, and enough mosquito repellant on to make me cough, I still got bitten when I mowed! Only one bite this time though; I am like fillet mignon and strawberry shortcake to a mosquito.


Thursday afternoon I made meatballs of the defrosted ground turkey, fish sticks from the cod fish, and chicken nuggets from the chicken breast. I realize I didn’t have to be fancy when trying to save these meats and fish, but I do love to cook and although the flouring, egging, and breading was time-consuming, the end result was worth it and delicious! (I was determined to get something good out of this experience!) I found a great tartar sauce recipe from a Martha Stewart DVD that I got from the library the week before. I ate like a Queen with my newly working refrigerator!


Friday morning I mowed the front yard. It began raining so I had to stop after only doing 1/3 of the yard. I went to the library and then the grocery store and picked up some of my favorite things: spinach dip, blue corn tortilla chips, white flesh nectarines, watermelon, bread and butter pickles, and a bottle of red wine. After the week I had, I deserved it! When I came home from the store, I finished mowing. It was the sloppiest mowing job I’ve ever done but I didn’t care! I just wanted it all over with so I could relax!


Saturday I forced myself to do nothing. It wasn’t easy but I needed the rest. I was exhausted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Today, as I write this, is Sunday the day of rest, but I continued cleaning up and organizing things. The new fridge had caused a chain reaction: items got rearranged in the kitchen, put away, washed and wiped; baseboard trim that had separated from the wall behind the fridge got hammered into place and sealant was squeezed onto spaces between it and the wall and the floor; wall paper that had come away from the walls in the bathroom and the bedroom got re-cemented with wallpaper glue, and so on. It was like I was just moving in! I was stuck in “drive” gear and couldn’t get out! However, now that it’s all done, I feel pleased and I don’t feel exhausted anymore. Who knew a dying refrigerator could be so much work? And it could have been so much worse! All along I kept thinking about people who suffer through flooding disasters. I don’t know how they continue to stay in their home afterwards .


So, in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I learned a few things that could help me if a future catastrophe happens and maybe you could learn from my experience too. None of the food made me sick – I was worried about that. All my yogurt containers were good. Even my homemade meatball calzones that I had in the freezer which defrosted, I ate and they were good! I guess I did a better job with the bags of ice than I realized! I always wondered why some people needed a second fridge in their garage. I’m beginning to see the benefit now! Imagine life without a refrigerator? Do you remember your grandparents having an icebox?


I’m glad I am in good physical condition because it helped me to rebound quickly. It also helped me to move my fridge, pack my food in containers and place a 7 lb bag of ice on each one. All the more reason to work out ladies so you can tackle household emergencies without injuries or mental breakdowns! Fitness rules!


It’s interesting that all of this happened the week before the Labor Day Weekend. Now I know why they call it Labor Day!



High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator).

22 Sep

Good health encompasses stress; some of it good, some of it not so good. You can lessen stressful situations with good planning. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. Exercise can help control stress in most situations, but maybe not this one!


Stress denial: On Tuesday, I noticed that the packaging of my store-bought pastry in my freezer seemed a bit soggy. I ignored it. While dozing off to sleep that night, I noticed my refrigerator often making a clicking sound. Uh-oh I thought, and fell asleep. On Wednesday morning I tried vacuuming the refrigerator coils since I neglected them for several months. No change in the clicking noise. I pulled the plug and then plugged the fridge back in one minute later. No change. I turned off the fridge and pulled the plug. No change. The refrigerator kept clicking. By Thursday morning, I realized that all my frozen food was defrosting in my freezer.


Full blown stress: I decided to buy several bags of ice to help save my food. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because I couldn’t make up my mind if I should buy a new refrigerator or call a repairman. The last time I called a repairman for a refrigerator I learned that he would charge $100 just to come out to look at it! I called the Whirlpool number to get a repairman for my Whirlpool. The gal I spoke with asked me how old my refrigerator was and I told her, eleven years. “Oh!” she said. “If it was me, I would buy a new one.” I asked her how long they usually lasted. She said between 10-13 years. I didn’t have time to do research online to find out if what she said was true and I didn’t have time to research refrigerators to see what would be the best deal for me unless I wanted to let all the food in my fridge go to waste while I did my research. So, I went to H.H. Gregg and asked the saleswoman if the sale coming up included the week before because they were advertising 30% off! Frankly, I didn’t understand her answer but I think I got a good deal anyway!


Stress ebbing away: I wasn’t charged a delivery fee or one to cart away my old fridge. I was able to open up an H.H. Gregg charge account for 5% off the cost. The best news was that they could deliver my new fridge the next day!


After I left H.H. Gregg’s, I went straight to Meijer to buy ice. One 7 lb package was $1.67. They also had 20 lb packages of ice but that would be too unwieldy. So I bought two of the 7 lb packages and put one in my freezer and one in the refrigerated section.


On Thursday evening, I got a call from H.H. Gregg’s telling me the refrigerator would be delivered between 3 – 6 pm on Friday and they would call me 40 minutes before arriving. That was perfect because I would use those 40 minutes to remove everything from the fridge.


I had my Rubbermaid container ready for the refrigerated food, and a clean, cardboard box which I lined with heavy plastic for my freezer food. In hindsight, I needed a bigger box. I also learned from this experience to not put foods in plastic bags. They become sloppy wet. All my cheeses which were wrapped in plastic wrap got wet. All my frozen vegetables and frozen cherries in their original plastic bags were soggy, defrosted and I didn’t feel safe using them. I had to throw them away since the bags were opened. Although I previously thought wrapping a rubber band around the plastic bags after I had opened and used them was fine, it was only good like that if your refrigerator doesn’t die! I will be on the lookout for tightly sealed plastic containers.


Stress comes in all shapes. If you handle it calmly, you can get through it easily enough. I won’t recommend exercising to get rid of refrigerator stress because just moving food from the refrigerator to other containers is a workout in itself! Not to mention that I had to wash the floor three times due to items dripping and the fact that a piece of thawed fish leaked all over everything due to a small hole in the plastic packaging. Hence, the need for plastic containers!


I am enjoying my new refrigerator, a Frigidaire, even though when it runs it sounds like a cross between the boiler room of the Andrea Doria and LaGuardia airport. I don’t care. Sometimes denial is a beautiful thing!




10 Cheeses You Have Never Tasted or Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

19 Sep Cheese-Eating Mouse

This New Food Friday Flash I am writing about cheeses that you most likely have never tasted or even heard of. As demand for new and interesting foods is growing in America, we have seen many new cheeses in the dairy case of our favorite supermarkets. As a cheese lover, and a person who watches her calcium intake daily, I am always on the lookout for a new cheese. The cheeses I mention below however, are not at my grocer yet…maybe in the future. Some have strange names as you will see! Some have interesting pairings. All are popular in their native countries. More cheese please!



Made by Russian dairy workers, this cheese is more of a sour cream and essential as a topping for soups, an accompaniment to blinis and caviar, and mixed hors d’oeuvres called zakuski that are eaten with shots of vodka. (We drink wine with our cheeses, they drink vodka.) Some Smetana are sweeter, some are more sour. Some have a butterfat content of 20%; some 40%. Not surprisingly, the best smetana is artisanal smetana. Skoal!



We never hear much about Icelandic cooking if ever, but this cheese was introduced to Iceland by the Vikings. Icelanders consider skyr a national specialty. Skyr is similar to yogurt but it is not a yogurt. Skyr is a low-fat cheese made from milk that has been curdled using rennet then drained. It has added bacteria to it similar to what is found in yogurt. It is digested more quickly and easily than milk and considered to be a healthy food as it doesn’t contain stabilizers nor skim milk powder often used in the manufacture of yogurts. Icelanders traditionally eat skyr at breakfast or with dessert. Flavored versions are also made in Iceland. Try some on your next trip to Iceland, the country with no army.


Sakura Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I love award-winning cheeses and wines. Sakura is a handmade cheese created by a farmer from a country not known for its cheesemaking: Japan. It is made in Hokkaido, Japan from Swiss Brown cows’ milk and has been winning prizes since 1998, including a gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics. (There’s an Olympics for cheeses? Who knew?) One of the methods of creating this cheese is that it is placed on salted leaves of the Sakura cherry tree and left for eight days to ferment so that the cheese absorbs the fragrance of the leaves. A salted pink cherry blossom flower is placed on top of each cheese before they are packed into boxes. I’ve experimented making my own yogurts but this farmer makes me want to try my hand at making my own cheese!


Stinking Bishop

The story behind the name of this cheese is far more interesting than the cheese itself! Apparently, there was a farmer called Bishop with a bad temper who once shot a kettle containing hot water because it didn’t boil! This cheese was developed in the 1990s. The creator, a conservationist, hails from Gloucestershire and is a collector of the Worcestershire pear trees and the main force behind saving the heritage breed of Gloucester cattle. (At least he put his anger to good use.) As you might imagine, the aroma of the cheese lives up to its name. Closepins anyone?


Serra da Estrela

This cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese from sheep that may well be on the endangered species list. If it wasn’t for making this cheese, they might have already become extinct! The sheep and the cheese come from the highest region of Portugal called Serra da Estrela. The sheep are predominantly black coated and are known as Bordeleira sheep. How sad if they were to become extinct because this cheese is known as the “king of Portuguese cheeses.”  The milk is curdled with rennet from the cardoon thistle. The Portuguese spoon it onto their traditional cornmeal bread called broa. It has a sweet taste with undertones of burnt toffee. Because these sheep are so rare, milk from other species is increasingly used.



Wasn’t there a character named Taleggio in the Godfather? But I digress. This is a cheese from Lombardy, Italy and until 1918 had been known as stracchino (not to be confused with the word stacchino which means toothpick) a dialect word (the last I heard, Italy had 42 dialects) that relates to milk from cattle that were tired after their  seasonal droves from the alpine pastures into the valleys. Taleggio is a full-fat cheese with a powerful aroma for which it is famous. Its ripening process lasts more than a month and its surface is smeared with a brine solution and inoculated with a mold and bacteria. Taleggios from Valtellina, Valsassina, and Valtaleggio (Val meaning valley) have a distinctive taste that can be meaty, beefy, mushroomy, fruity, nutty, and salty, all at once. No wonder it is protected by a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). Call me biased, but the Italians sure know how to eat!



Foods from Ireland are beginning to make a mark in America, witness by the cooking shows from Ireland and their native popular chefs. Andrahan cheese belongs to the family of modern Irish cheeses pioneered during the 1980s. This cheese appeared in a farmhouse in County Cork from the family’s herd of pedigree Friesians. It is a pasteurized, semisoft, washed-rind cheese using vegetarian rennet (as opposed to animal rennet). Bacteria is inoculated into the brine with which they are wiped during early ripening. Low in fat and cholesterol, it is a popular cooking cheese in its native Eire. It is regularly served at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day!


Olomoucke Tvaruzky

If you can pronounce it, you can eat it! OT is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known traditional cheeses. It was first documented in the late fifteenth century, when it was reputed to be a favorite of Czech king Rudolf II and was awarded a prize at the first Austrian Dairy Exhibition held in Vienna in 1872. It even has a museum dedicated to it in the town of Lotice. This cheese is either one of the best tasting cheeses ever or it has one heck of a public relations agent behind it because it was also included in a Czech-Chinese banquet when Olomouc cheese dumplings in ginger sauce were served as a dessert. It is commonly eaten with bread and is a staple ingredient of Czech cuisine. As you might have guessed, it found its way to the bar scene and is a popular bar snack that can also be fried in batter.



Churpi comes from the shaggy-haired yak found in Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, farmers also have made churpi from buffalo or cow’s milk. It is also unusual in the sense that like most cheeses which are cut with a knife, churpi is broken into pieces using a hammer. (Make an appointment with your dentist now!) It is then sucked on or chewed over a long period of time from 10 minutes up to an hour to get the distinctive flavor. For this reason, it is a portable, nutritious, and energy-giving cheese. It is very popular in Nepal where it is chewed like chewing gum. Tibetans fry churpi with young tendrils of a local fiddlehead fern called ningro. You may find this cheese in your dairy case eventually thanks to the Chinese government putting its weight behind yak dairy initiatives.


And last but not least…


Moose Cheese

That’s Moose Cheese, not Mouse Cheese. Two Swedes in the sleepy community of Bjurholm adopted a couple of abandoned moose. Long story short, they now own more than a dozen moose on their dairy farm. Would you believe it is the only moose dairy farm in Europe. I believe it. Maybe somebody should tell Amy Poehler’s brother (Greg) who stars in the new sit-com “Welcome to Sweden.” Funny show. Greg (Bruce Evans) is unemployed and looking for a job. Working on a moose farm would fit just perfectly into that show. But maybe they’ve already thought of it. Stay tuned! Anyway, this story just gets stranger….People travel to the Algens hus (Moose House) to pat the domesticated moose and to try the unique moose cheese. I have seen a moose up close and personal at a drive through zoo many years ago. The one I saw was a male that was ugly, big, and mean looking! The females, on the other hand, while still no beauty contestant winners, produce about a gallon of milk a day which is similar to cow’s milk but higher in protein and fat. The cheese is extremely expensive and is sold in upscale restaurants and a few exclusive outlets in Sweden. There are three different types of moose cheese, one of which is best described as a feta type and stored in rape oil. How do you get people to eat cheese from a moose? You raise the price to an outrageous level.


I don’t know how I’m going to top this in next month’s New Food Friday Flash. I may have to retire while I’m at the top of my game!


Happy traveling and if you get the opportunity to travel to the countries mentioned above and try any of these cheeses, please drop me a line in the comment section! Variety is the spice of life. It keeps life interesting and your mind alert. It’s good for your health!








New Food Friday Flash – Dandelion

16 May dandelion-sxc-hu-theartistg

Wait! Wait, you exclaim! dandelion is a food? You want us to try a new food called dandelion? Yes, fellow foodies. As I have been known to say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”  Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Or, “Variety is the spice of life!”

While I wouldn’t want to see you grazing on your lawn masticating the stuff, you could try the supermarket version of dandelion. It’s nutritious and delicious. Why else would I post it here if it wasn’t?

Naysayers halt your protests because this New Food Friday Flash is about the controversial weed called dandelion.

It’s controversial because we hate seeing it in our lawns but we (some of us anyway) love seeing it on our dinner plates.

Did you know that dandelion is a relative of endive? That doesn’t sound so bad does it? It’s low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. If you want to know more about the dandelion, how it got its name, who gave their child the name, and other amusing and interesting facts about dandelion, click here.

Otherwise, I’ll let the thought about eating dandelion percolate in your brain for a while and when you’re ready, you can click on the above link. Far be it from me to force you to eat something that you perceive as negative. 

More for me I always say!



Book Review – Gone Tomorrow

21 Apr Audiobook Review ( -169419 Rene Cerney Vyolett)

This will be my first post on my blog for a book review. This particular book is an audio book. I have become addicted to them. Depending on the author and the performer, an audio book can be as good as watching a movie! The difference is that you are seeing the “movie” in your mind instead of on your computer screen or TV. It saves fatigue on your eyes!

 You can do other things while listening to an audio book like ironing, sewing hole-y socks, (or hole-y anything) knit, paint a picture, cook dinner, eat a meal, or just about anything that doesn’t involve heavy thinking while you are listening! Some people listen while they are driving. I don’t recommend that. You’ll either miss a turn or worse, or you’ll miss parts of the story and have to go back. Sometimes I miss parts of the story and I’m not doing anything! If you are a passenger in a car and you have a personal CD player, that would be fine. I’ve even thought about bringing it with me when I’m in a doctor or dentist’s waiting room.

Now that summer is just around the corner, you can bring an audio book with you to the beach, or the pool, or the lake. You get the picture! I find that an audio book helps me fall asleep. It’s like listening to a bedtime story. That is my introduction to this new recurring post on my blog for book reviews. I will only publish posts on books and audio-books that I have enjoyed and can recommend. I hope you enjoy these posts and I hope they encourage you to read or listen to my audio book and/or book selections.

Today’s review discusses Gone Tomorrow authored by Lee Child and performed by Dick Hill which is on 12 audio discs (14 hr., 30 min.)

I will also rate these books and audio books on a 1 – 5 star rating. Gone Tomorrow rates 5 Stars

Continue reading here.



End of Support for XP so I’m Canceling my ISP on April 8

24 Mar System Failure ( DGBurns)

Sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest and to assert yourself. It’s good for your health and as we all know, my blog is about good health. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Here’s the story.

Those of you with Windows XP know that Microsoft is ending its support on April 8.  As I have mulled over this event since their announcement, I decided that I did not want to upgrade my desktop computer to Windows 7 or 8 in order to avoid malware and viruses and other clouds of doom. And I resent the fact that it is expected of me.

So, in my way of protest, I have scheduled to cancel my Internet Service as of April 8, the same day Microsoft is ending XP support. What gives? I am so glad you asked.

1. I resent being led around by the nose by the Microsoft conglomerate needing to line their pockets by forcing consumers to buy new software when XP has been doing a good job for us. Better than Vista, better than Windows 8. Nobody liked either one.

2. I scoff at their cavalier throw-away attitude and lack of concern for the environment because rather than upgrade, many people will decide to buy new computers with Windows 8 loaded on it and not load software on their old computer all day long.

3. I’m mad at programmers and software developers for not creating better products that could last longer. Yes, I want computer products to last longer so that we don’t have landfills overflowing with discarded computers that take years and years to break down and then pollute the land and the air while doing so. Read more about computer pollution here.

4. I’m ticked off at AT&T my ISP (Internet Service Provider). I try to avoid calling them because I know that every time I do, it means a long conversation where they try to get you to buy something or add something and you can’t get done what you need to get done until they let out all the stops and wear you down! Other people must have complained about this issue because this time I was asked if I would allow the representative to explain other product options. I told her no. I asked if I decided to get DSL again in the future would I be able to. She said no.  She said she would explain why but since I already told her I did not want her to explain, that she would not be able to tell me. Oh boo-hoo my heart is broken! Then she said, to cover her *ss, you’ve probably gotten notices in the mail about these new products or options or whatever she called them. Yeah, like every week! They never stop coming. And the funny thing is that it is about $15 more than what I’m paying now so why would I want it? But I didn’t say that. I was nice. Speak softly and carry a big stick is my motto.

Then she tried to get me to agree to call waiting and some other service because it would be a package deal. Oh boy, a package deal! Would it save me money this special package deal? Heck no, it costs more than what I’m paying now. Thanks but no thanks.

Then at the end of the conversation she said if I change my mind, they could re-instate my DSL service. Huh? Didn’t she just tell me I couldn’t have DSL anymore if I cancelled it?

So what does this mean for us? For you, me,  my blog and my posts?

I went to my local library branch today and inquired about using their computers. Since I have a library card, I am allowed 1 hour at a time. If I need more time, I can sign up on their computer for another hour. My library is about 2-3 minutes from my house. At 2:30 pm today, all their computers were in use. I’ll have to get there earlier.

At this point I don’t know if using the library computers will work for me. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. As of now, I’m not canceling my New Food Friday posts. If worse comes to worse, I’ll just do them as time permits instead of the 3rd Friday of the month.

The last time I checked, there were still over 400 million XP users out there who hadn’t upgraded to Windows 7 or 8.  For a different point of view about the XP issue, read this.

When I had Window’s ’95 on my old laptop computer, I ended up having to upgrade to Window’s ’98. When I did so, my $200 audio system did not function correctly with it anymore. To this day, I’m still tinkering with it, trying to “fix” it. If I upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, on my desktop computer, my Italian language software programs will not work, nor will my printer and who knows what else. I can probably get an upgraded driver for my printer but it will be difficult if not impossible to do anything about my language CDs. I use them around Christmas time to send letters written in Italian to my relatives in Italy. I refuse to buy new language CDs when I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Upgrading XP boils down to spending a lot of time correcting computer issues, searching for solutions and being chained to my desk a little longer. I’ve already written a post about how sitting at your desk is not good for your health. If you haven’t read it, check it out here.

After all the record snow we had here in Indy this winter, 55″ (and counting) when we usually have between 19″-23″ depending on which news program you follow, I am itching to get out in the sunshine! I don’t want to spend more time on my computer, I want to spend less time!

Well, some of my prayers have been answered. A website,,  that I had written reviews for the last six years, has shut down. Kaput, The End, No More. I typically spent 3 hours writing each review. I’ve written over 400 reviews. To read them, click REVIEWS at the top of the page. While this turn of events frees up my time, it also lightens my pocketbook because I was paid for these reviews. Some of these reviews were of books.

I’ve recently gotten in the habit of listening to audiobooks. I love them! But now I have no outlet to write about them. Unless I do it here.  The way I see it, listening to audiobooks or reading printed books is good for your health because they are entertaining, often educational, can increase your vocabulary, and darn it, I say they’re good for your health! So, while I haven’t decided completely, I’m leaning towards adding book reviews to this blog.

Final words. A few people got rich crying out, “A computer on every desk!” We followed these commands like lambs to the slaughter. Have they (computers) really saved us time? How many times has someone misread your email so that you had to write another email explaining your original email? How many times have you hit the delete key for the Spam you got and then had to go into your Trash folder because you (or  software) accidentally deleted an email that you wanted to keep? How much time have you spent online trying to find a free anti-virus program that didn’t eat up all your resources and slow down your computer to a crawl? How many times have you gotten the “Unresponsive script” warning and it hung up your computer? How many times has malware or a virus screwed up your computer because your anti-virus software didn’t catch it? How many times….fill in the blank with your own time-consuming computer issue. Enough already!

I know. Normally I’m a quiet girl but when I get a bee in my bonnet, look out! The wheels are in motion, my mind is made up. Upgrade be damned! AT&T call yourself and hang up. Power to the people!




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