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THE 50 SHADES OF GRAY FOR A HOME’S EXTERIOR

“You can make all the excuses you want, but if you are not mentally tough, and you’re not prepared to play every night, you’re not going to win. “ ~ Larry Bird

 

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CHRISTMAS AT OUR DAUGHTER’S HOME

CHRISTMAS AT OUR DAUGHTER’S HOME

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

I’ve been waiting to post this.  Two people were supposed to send me pictures taken with a much better camera then I presently have – I haven’t received them yet. If I wait much longer, it will be Valentine’s day – so I’ll just post this with the pictures I took.

Update – I received the pictures and have added them to the slide show.

About one month before Christmas, right around Thanksgiving, my grownup daughter, who was visiting asked us to spend Christmas at her home.  Now I have never relied on my daughter for much of anything because after all she is my daughter and I’m the mommy. Added to this was my angst about leaving our home on such a holiday for just a few hours, because we were burglarized two years ago and the aftermath is still vivid in my mind.  Now to add to my fear was the fact that my daughter wanted us to stay overnight.  In past years we always had a reason to stay home – there was our stallion Max, 4 outdoor cats and 4 poodles, all who needed to be fed.  Granted we could go for the day and bring the poodles, but it was like packing for 4 children.  Anytime we went anywhere, all 4 dogs had to have a bath and a hair cut by none other than me.  Then their little beds had to be pack along with wee wee pads just in case the older ones had an accident.  There were bowls for food and bowls for water that needed to be packed along with the rubber mats the bowls and their font paws rested on when they ate.  The rubber mats prevent the bowls along with the paws from sliding around during the all important event of eating. And most important was to remember to pack the food. Then, when they were loaded into the car, there were the throws placed on the rear seat to protect the seats from nails and dirt, harnesses to attach to the dog and the seat belts and a carry case between the two larger dogs had to be strapped in for the two little older dogs.  Let me tell you, it was quite an ordeal to prepare to go visiting for a day.

So this time, when my daughter asked us to come to her home for Christmas, most of our reasons were no longer valid. This year alone, we lost 3 cats, 3 dogs and a horse.  I only had to bathe and groom one poodle, and put food out for one cat.  There was still the matter of the burglary, but they got all our good stuff – not yet replaced, and now the property has a locked gate and video cameras – I guess we could take the chance.  So after much thought, and a week or so, we decided to go to our daughters’ for Christmas.

As Christmas drew near, I asked Rob what time did he want to leave on Saturday?  SATURDAY he said, I thought we were just going after church on Sunday.  Now our daughter lives in Tampa, a good two-hour drive away. The last thing I wanted to do was drive for four hours (two each way) on Christmas day.  I calmly tried to remind him that he was the one who convinced me we could go this year since there were no animals to feed. Well, let me tell you, he tried every trick in the book.  First he tried the guilt trip – how he was looking forward to time off to relax and putz around.  If it were a three-day weekend that would be one thing, he said.  I looked at him and said, “It is a three-day weekend – next reason!  Then he tried the old – “you two hoodwinked me, somehow I got tricked into this by you and Veronica”. I told him that wasn’t going to work since it was he who had to convince me to go overnight in the first place. It took him a day, but he came up with another one.  At dinner the next evening he told me he heard on the radio that this weekend would be the highest weekend for burglaries.  I reminded him of the locked gate and camera. The next day he tried the “I’m going to be bored routine”…What am I going to do when you and Veronica are out shopping on Saturday?  What am I going to do in the morning? You know I’ll be up before everyone else … I hope there’s coffee blah, blah, blah!!  You would have thought we were going to a deserted island or something.  I told him he could go shopping with us, or he could look at TV – you know, the box attached to the cable with 100’s of channels.  Veronica has a coffee pot so you can make coffee and sit at the table and turn on the computer and surf the net.  The next day he took another approach, he came at me with this question “Do you think people will think we are away when they see the locked gate and come up anyway, or do you think the locked gate is a deterrent?”  By now I was exasperated and just looked at him and said “We’re going, we’re leaving on Saturday and we’ll be back on Sunday night end of discussion!!!

So Saturday came and we left for our daughter’s home.  I wasn’t quite sure what the day, and evening would be like but I knew it would be fun. We went to an early Mass, and after Mass we went out to eat at a Chinese buffet.  It was delicious and filling and when we were done, we took a stroll at the outdoor mall.  The stores, streets and courtyard were all decked out with Christmas lights. People were walking about even though the stores were closed and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, the Chinese food made its’ was through my body quickly, and we went back to our daughter’s home sooner than I would have wanted. After getting rid of the food, my daughter and I went back out to pick up a few odds and ends and finished the evening watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” – a great Christmas classic.

The next day was quite impressive.  Rob and Veronica were up first and began making the sauce for the lasagna. Once the sauce was well under way Veronica began fixing greens – something that is not on my top ten list of favorites. Next the turkey was washed and prepared, and I showed Veronica the secret to my famous turkey stuffing. Meanwhile, grandma and grandpa – Rob’s parents – arrived and grandma helped with the meal as well. Regular and sweet potatoes were peeled, the green bean casserole was put together and the ham was readied for the oven.  Then, the noodles were par boiled and the lasagna put together while the turkey cooked in the oven. Of course while we were cooking, there was eggnog to drink, or sodas – I opted for the eggnog with some B & B in it. I was really impressed, I didn’t think our daughter had it in her, but after all she grew up on home-made meals and large gatherings where there was lots of food – why should she be any different. Finally the ham and lasagna were put in the oven, along with the sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and greens while the regular potatoes cooked on the stove top.  Finally, the turkey gravy was made, the ham was glazed and the potatoes mashed.  All was ready. Everything was laid out buffet style and we filled our plates and took a seat at the table. The food was delicious and there was nothing wrong with anything! Desert was equally plentiful and tasty – there was pumpkin and apple pie, and cheese cake too.

ABOUT THE PICTURES

  • The first picture is of the room our daughter prepared for us to stay in.
  • The next is of Rob with his new NOOK
  • The third and fourth are of our granddaughter Ali showing us the book she made for her mom.
  • The next is of Rob discussing the nook with our granddaughter while watching the nook charge up.
  • Then there is great grandma having a pretzel after we all opened up our presents.
  • Who could forget the dogs; – the next two are of Louie our poodle and Diva our daughter’s dog.
  • Then Veronica and great grandma are preparing food.
  • The proof is in the oven for all non-believers —-Veronica can cook!!!
  • The feast is laid out
  • Come and get it
  • the company seated for a great meal
  • relaxing after dinner
  • The children have some cotton candy for desert.

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MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY DAY

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is our Creator’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day. So from now on, on your way to school, work or anywhere, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the “stuff” of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted.
Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot, walk on the beach at sunset, or stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone.  For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn’t do.

ARE YOUR UTILITY BILLS SKY HIGH? CHECK YOUR R-VALUES

ARE YOUR UTILITY BILLS SKY HIGH? CHECK YOUR R-VALUES
“A man’s life is what his thoughts make it.”  – Marcus Aurelius
I recently overheard a couple at a hardware store exchange words as they peered down over a massive pile of insulation marked with various R-factors. “Just what IS an R-factor?, queried the woman. “Well, it has to do with how well the insulation does its job—so I guess an R-factor is kind of like the home’s “utility I.Q.”

It’s an interesting analogy since insulation does make your home smarter where utility bills are concerned. But unfortunately, many people don’t properly upgrade the insulation in their home when and where they should. And, in warmer climates, home owners often sidestep the importance of proper insulation all together. How can you gauge if your home is properly insulated and how can it potentially cut hundreds of dollars annually off your utility bills?

The R-factor, simply put, is the measurement of how well insulation resists (thus, the “R”) heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulating power. Heat (which is a form of energy) tends to gravitate towards cooler areas in the home (ie. the attic, the walls, the crawl spaces.) That’s why it makes the most sense to have these areas with ample, high-efficiency insulation.

But insulation isn’t just for controlling heat. Resistance works in reverse where cool air is concerned, keeping the warm air from flowing into spaces you’re trying to keep cool. That’s why home owners in warm climates need to know their home’s R-factors in order to keep a lid on their air conditioning bills.
What R-values are considered standard and how do they vary from climate to climate? Manufacturers clearly mark the R-value on the types of insulation they produce. Home owners can often use various types of insulation together to obtain a high R-value. (An example of this is hard-to-access exterior walls where insulation is blown in on top of existing insulation.) Standard R-values differ based on what part of the home you’re trying to insulate. For example, since the attic is the biggest area for energy loss, colder climates require values ranging from R-38 to R-49. But in the South, R-19 in the attic should be ample.

Most local building codes require an R-value of R-19 for exterior walls. But if a home is built using 2 x 6 studs, there’s enough space in the wall cavity to insulate up to a value of R-21.

A frequent cold air leak can be where the house meets the foundation. In fact, you can lose up to 20% of your home’s heating/cooling energy from the foundation area in an non-insulated or poorly insulated home. That’s why it’s important to insulate around the area where the house meets the foundation, not just in the basement walls.

Just because insulation is thick doesn’t mean it has a high R-value. Many manufacturers are now producing higher R-value in fiber glass products by merely increasing the density while keeping the thickness the same. Today you might see R-15 insulation in a wall where R-13 was previously the max due to physical constraints. The efficiency has changed while the physical size of the insulation remains the same.

The bottom line is that if your utility bills are calling “Uncle”, it’s high time you review the R-values in your home. Like the man at the hardware store said, they’re your home’s “utility I.Q.”

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