Category Archives: Home Repairs

Beating the System: Swiffer Wet Jet Floor Cleaner

There is nothing more annoying than getting the “cleaning bug” only to realize that you have no Swiffer pads and no Swiffer cleaning solution to tackle your hardwood floors.

I haven’t quite figured out how to beat the system with the cleaning pads, other than to purchase them store brand, or sew some confangled thing out of washcloths. Don’t get me wrong, I may not be far from doing that…but we are not there yet (and I’m concerned about the grossness of that).

I did recently stumble across a pin on Pinterst that said you could open the Swiffer floor solution bottle and refill it with any cleaner you want. So when I went to mop and the Swiffer bottle was empty, I decided to give it a go. Basically, you bring enough water to cover the lid with you holding the bottle upside down without it touching the bottom of the pan to a boil. Hold it over the pan for 1.5 minutes and then, using a dish towel, give the lid a good twist. It should come right off. Then, you’ll want to take some nail clippers and clip off the little “fingers” inside the lid that keeps it from turning…this way, you can take the lid on and off without having to boil it each time. When you’re ready to clean, fill the bottle with whatever solution you want. I did a half-and-half mix of our Mr. Clean floor cleaner and water, and it worked just fine.

Not a huge money saver, but a little help nonetheless.

Check out the instructions with pictures here. You’re welcome!


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My Planter Box Brings All The Boys to the Yard

Now that I’ve got eight (sort of ten) of my seedlings growing (two bok choi, two Roma tomatoes, two cucumbers, two leaf lettuce, and two of the four carrots), it’s time to start thinking about where they will live when it’s time to put them in the ground.

As I’ve said before, I was super envious of Kelly’s planter box and set to deciding what kind of planter box we would have and where it would go in our 90-degree sloping yard.

After some discussion, we decided whatever it was would go in the backyard. (My thought was that if/when we decide to show our house, our dog and our garden would make our totally unusable back yard seem useable.) Once we had the location, and I has some greenery growing from my seed starters to ensure we’d be growing more than rocks, we had to figure out what we wanted to put together. Remember, we have to take the sloping back yard into consideration.

I found this plan… on Pinterest and decided that it would work best for us with a little adjustment to account for our slope (read: mountainous, crater-filled cliff).

Hold your horses fans, because I did some algebra to figure out how to put this thing together…effectively blowing my husband’s mind (similarly to when I showed him the incredibly complex, multi-layer excel sheet budget for our wedding). Here is what it looked like…


Essentially, I went outside and determined where on our slope I wanted the box. It actually ended up being placed closer to the side fence and farther from the front fence. But I knew, based on the plan, that one side would be about ten inches tall, so I needed to figure out what height I would need to have on the south side of it so that it would be somewhat level…so I used…wait for it…the Pythagorean Theorem…A squared plus B squared equals C squared, right?

So we came up with this…


The math at the bottom translates to the triangle if space you see at the bottom part of the structure (closest to you if you’re on the deck). You can’t really see it here, but we have an additional two by six on the south side of this (downhill) to help make it more level. That board in the middle is a scrap piece from the yard.

Where the Theorum came in is that I have an extra two by six that needs to be sliced diagonally down the middle to fill in the open triangle you see at the base (because there is another one on the other side). The extra board set at the base is the one that needs to be cut. Once I have those to put in, I will line the bottom of this with newspaper (biodegradable and less expensive than weed/grass blocking paper) then top that with soil. Then we will do “square foot planting” in the 16 square feet with my veggies from my Growums and maybe the banana peppers we started in the herb garden. Anyone want to make that cut for me?!?!? We don’t have an electric saw.

My Bub was great with this…with teamwork we finished it in about a half hour. He’s the best.

For now though, we are basking in the glory of our project…in its first phase (or second phase if you could the seedlings as the first phase) and are about to watch True Blood. My husband just sent this to my email to point out that tonight we are back in our queen bed (last night we were in the king bed at his parent’s house) so I’ll need to be more mindful of my bed bullying. (I’m “your” in this graphic.)

Here’s hoping my sleeping self can be more courteous and that we can find someone to cut this board for us…though the two thoughts are completely unrelated.

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It’s here! It’s here!

It’s finally here! And so it begins….my first sprout from my Growums garden kit.


It felt like cheating to buy a tomato plant with two tomatoes already on it especially after I just planted the herbs and was only tasked with keeping them alive, so, as I’ve mentioned, I was pumped to try a project from scratch. The kiddie website says to give ten days for the plants to start sprouting. I’ve been diligently watering them as instructed. (They are in a self-watering tray and I fill that with water if it gets dry so the plant bulbs take as much or as little water as they need.) I planted them earlier this week…Monday, I think, so we are are halfway through the waiting period where I will need to plant more seeds if nothing else pops up.

Silly, I know, but still exciting!

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So Fresh and So Clean (Clean)

It’s all the rage right now…everything is fresh and clean, organic and all that. Well we’re getting on board.

Last weekend, we started with herbs. We had been talking about it for a bit, but finally bit the bullet. We bought a planter, some soil, some herbs and got to work. Bub hung the planter for me and I filled it. We got four kinds of herbs: Italian parsley, sweet basil, cilantro, sage and a tiny banana pepper plant. They are growing so great…so I kind of have the bug. My friend Kelly is growing an amazing garden in her back yard with boucou veggies and I’m so envious.

Here is a photo of the herb planter:


We thought this would be a good way to venture into gardening. We went this way with these herbs because we buy fresh herbs sometimes for meals and have to buy a big bushel of which only a pinch or two gets used while the rest goes to waste. So we planted our own.

Tonight we put our herbs to use (we did do a pizza last week right after we planted them where I used the basil in my sauce) for the first time. On the menu was garlic studded grouper with sage butter, sautΓ©ed carrots with sage and garlicky roasted potatoes with herbs.


Everything in the meal was fresh! Yukon gold potatoes, baby carrots (even though they came from a bag), even Grouper from The Shrimp Dock (that Bub picked up on the way home from work). The only non-fresh ingredients were salt and pepper, Kroger stick butter and minced garlic (I copped out of that because the minced is just so easy). Everything from the outer rim of the grocery store. It’s a cool feeling.

So my excitement over the herbs and they envy of Kelly’s garden I convinced Bub to let me do a tomato plant and two cucumber plants. I picked those up today. The tomato is a “Big Boy” but it was already planted and growing and blooming with the tomato cage attached to the planter so I just plopped the cucumber plants in on either side. Then, because I really wanted to grow carrots too, I went in search of them and stumbled upon this:


Most of you know plants are due a certain death when in my world…so I got this little kit (made for kids) that you register online and then you watch these adorable little vegetable themed videos that tell you EXACTLY what to do. It even emails you when it’s time to do the next thing. It’s pretty cute. So I planted my carrot, Roma tomato, Romain lettuce and cucumber seeds and will cultivate them inside then move them outside when I get the email from Yuke the Cuke telling me to. πŸ™‚ While I was planting my salad seeds, Bub was making his own granola.

Here is how it turned out…it’s his own recipe and everything. He did some research and combined a few things and made his own recipe. I didn’t help him at all. It turned out delicious and smelled awesome.


It was a fun night planting and cooking and enjoying things that we did together. I’m super excited to see the other vegetables grow. I wish we had a flatter area for gardening because if it works, I’d like to do stuff for the fall (sweet potatoes, potatoes, and more…). I think I could build a planter pretty easily, it’s just a matter of finding where it would have to go. It’s definitely on my fall project list. It’s certainly a learning experience and its fun to do the research to figure out what to do when. While I am super pumped about our new venture into being green and resourceful, (if I’m being totally honest) I can’t help but be a little sad that the person I know who knows the most about creating gardens from the ground up (no pun intended) and what to plant when for each season isn’t around anymore. My dad is great with gardens and grows a ton of stuff each season, but it is what it is…he’s not around and that’s the way it’s gotta be. I’m lucky Bub is my person because we will figure it out together (with the help of the Growums videos and Lowes garden experts). πŸ™‚

Also, today is our 3 year dateiversary so the hubs brought home a beautiful bouquet for me. I put it into the vase that the bouquet he gave me the night we got engaged to celebrate. πŸ™‚


Beside it is the Growums Salad Garden grow kit and the indoor parsley. (That’s the only place Winnie won’t get to so its where all the kitty-unfriendly things go…near the wine. Tee hee hee.)
Thanks for reading! Happy summer everyone!

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New iPad – Wins and Woes

I know it’s been eons since I last posted. I’m basically the worst blogger in the world. I know.

Part of the lack of interesting things posted to this blog in the last many months is due to my schedule. I have been so busy with work that by the time I get home, I don’t even want to look at a computer screen (let alone work out, but that’s s different story). The other part is that my computer crashed. That’s right, as if I hadn’t learned my lesson the two times before this has happened to me, my computer crashed and as of now, I’ve lost everything sans what happened to be backed up on a couple USB drives I own. So, after being told that my computer itself was not salvageable, but that the hard drive might be, I bought an iPad. (Apple lovers, don’t get too excited…my review isn’t glowing…yet.) For those if you less than interested in my not-so-tech-savvy review of the iPad, you might want to skip down about seven paragraphs (the one that starts with, “Anyways…”). πŸ™‚

So here I am, typing this blog on an iPad (which should be super easy, but the keyboard I bought to go with it has a dead battery and no charger came with it…damn Amazon sellers…and though the charger is the same used for the original Blackberry, neither T nor I can find one in the house though be both used to own them). The touch keyboard on the iPad works ok for something like this…typing blogs…but it would be nice to have an actual keyboard. Like I said though, that battery is dead, so as far a I’m concerned, so is the $60 bucks I spent on it until I can get that charged back up.

Also, I had to buy a camera adapter for the iPad…for another $32 bucks…because the iPad doesn’t have USB capabilities. It’s basically just a large iPod. Which is super cool and great for reading my Kindle books and playing on Facebook and Twitter, but not so great for Word (you have to buy and app), Excel (you have to buy an app), or PowerPoint (there is app for that) and Publisher (no app as the iPad is not that great with design features).

Also, it doesn’t really work with Polyvore, a new favorite site of mine…so I basically can’t use that either. I can browse it, but not design on it.

Another annoyance I’m dealing with right now is that all my music is on my iPod Mini and my iPhone, but I can’t get it onto my iPad at the moment because I don’t have a working PC. This is a huge pain as the only way to do it is to use Match which costs $25 a year to get everything on there (then you can sync wirelessly with iCloud). Supposedly there is a way to fix this (a work around of sorts), but my google searching shows no way to do it without first going through a PC…which I don’t have…obviously.

Syncing my pictures does appear to be super easy, but that doesn’t really quell the fact that as of now, I have lost all the pictures stored on my PC since the computer crashed and those weren’t backed up anywhere else. Now that is my own fault, but I don’t think I’m totally to blame. In college, my computer crashed and I lost everything. A few years later and a little smarter, I backed everything up on an external hard drive, but one time I was plugging that into my computer to back everything up (like I did monthly) and the thing shorted out…itself AND my computer…so I lost most everything then too even though some guru was able to fire the computer back up and get back some stuff of that for me. So I was taking a risk without the external hard drive this time, but as far as I’m concerned, you’re pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don’t. A lot of my pictures are on Facebook and some others in Snapfish (wedding photos) but not all of them. I’m still holding out hope they can be found, but I’m trying to be realistic about that.

I’m super annoyed that my iPad is smarter than me even though it’s perfect for travel and basic computer activities, just probably better suited for use when you have an actual PC to go along with it. Fortunately, Computer Depot (just behind Puelos on Cedar Bluff…next to Prestige Cleaners) was able to back up all the stuff on my hard drive–that was in my sister’s computer, which she is letting me keep for now–and are restoring the computer for me so I’ll have a useable laptop too…for $200ish bucks.

Anyway, besides my technological woes, things are going pretty well.

We are so close to our Barbados trip that we can hardly wait. I have even ventured into some dressing rooms to try on swimsuits. Despite my time in the gym, it’s still pretty much the worst thing ever…shopping for swimsuits really just doesn’t do wonders for the self esteem. Haha.

We are staying busy with friends and I am still cooking most nights, some meals better than others…but mostly they are turning out ok.

Here are some photos of meals we’ve had over the past few weeks. (See, I’ve been thinking about blogging…that counts, right?!)


Chicken with White Wine Mushroom Sauce, Arborrio Rice and Zuchinni and Squash Sautee


Stirfry Pork with Rice and Peas (Not such a great photo.)

This had anchovy filets in it, we didn’t care much for it though it was an interesting change of pace.

Stacked Chicken Enchilada with Corn and Baked Kale

Β This was our first attempt at kale. Basically, I tossed it in a mix of olive oil, salt and pepper then spread it on a cookie sheet and baked it. A little strange, but still tasty. Not so great the next day though. This enchilada was amazing and got even better as time went on. I loved having it for lunch!

Portabello Mushroom Burgers with Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Mash and Best Ever Green Salad

Another tasty meal. The portabellos were chopped/diced and mixed in with the ground beef to make them a little more health and less dense. The potatoes were interesting and you could taste both kinds, though T preferred one or the other.

Seasoned Pork Chops with Salad and Applesauce

Simple, but delicious. Applesauce was a nice change of pace and the salad was good. The pork chops were seasoned with a couple different things from the pantry spice rack.

Adobe Chicken with Mac and Cheese and Broccoli

Another simple meal that was tasty. The mac and cheese was from the Mac and Cheese Sloppy Joe Bake from Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet and it was just ok. Everything else was fine, but not outstanding.


Harris Special Breakfast Sandwich

T insisted that his meal make it into the blog. He made the Harris Special Breakfast which is a basically toast with mayo, scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon scrambled in. It was delicious and perfectly prepared with love!

So, as you can see, while I have been the worst blogger, I have been trying very hard to feed my husband and keep him alive (though he can take perfectly good care of himself). πŸ™‚

Also, sorry that there are no links to recipes for these deliciously amazing looking meals. It’s my first time back and who has time for that? Not me, especially since I’m having so much trouble with the iPad and the WordPress enterface. This will just have to do for now! Hopefully, I’ll be back sooner rather than later!


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Happy January 1st!

So far, 2012 is off to a great start.

Slept in (if you can call it that–to 9:30 a.m.). Hubs made breakfast sandwiches (and demanded that his culinary masterpieces make it onto the blog, too). See below. I cleaned out the fridge, pantry and a cooking “stuff” cabinet that had been bothering me for weeks. And it’s only 3:15 p.m.

I could get used to these four day weekends!

For breakfast, TH made a breakfast sandwich he says Mr. H used to make him. Scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese scrambled in served up sandwich style on toast with mayo (or mustard). Pretty yummy!

Harris Breakfast Sandwich

Yesterday I started going through my dress closet to see if I had anything I could get rid of. I got through about half the closet before it was time to start cooking dinner, so I may try to finish that today (or tomorrow).

Here’s a picture of me in the dress (holding the clutch) that TH got me for Christmas. Light isn’t great (and neither is my hair), but you can tell it’s cute, huh? Perfect for Barbados!

A perfect match.

Speaking of Barbados, we booked two of our excursions yesterday…a half-day excursion around the island touring a bunch of major attractions and culminating with a glass bottom boat ride to swim with the sea turtles and a lunch buffet tour of Mount Gay Rum Distillery. Also on our list is to tour Barbados’ Lost Sea (similar to the one we have here in Tennessee, but in Barbados).

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Red Lobster Biscuits,Tortellini Soup and Flat Iron Steak

I won’t call this post a Menu Monday post because we’re slightly overwhelmed about what we’ve got going on this week (and then have to add the pain of dealing with my car). Tomorrow, I have to work late to start decorating Knoxville Center in preparation for Santa’s Arrival on Saturday. Tuesday, I have a meet-and-greet with the new mall manager and the store managers at Knoxville Center (we had one at West Town last Thursday). Wednesday, I have an appointment with my trainer, but the hubs and I will have a nice meal together that night. Thursday, Santa arrives to West Town as the grand finale of a mascot parade. Thankfully, Bubba and I are both off on Friday. I do have to work for a little bit on Saturday morning (when Santa arrives), but I am off Sunday and Monday again. So though we (read: I) have a super busy week to gear up for Santa, we will manage to have a couple delicious meals this week.

Today, we attended an open house for a client of the hubs. It was a beautiful home in town that is currently for sale as the couple is moving back to California, but they wanted to show off their digs before they did. Five and a half bathrooms (complete with steam shower and jacuzzi tub), five bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), a full gym, a three car garage, HUGE kitchen and several other crazy amenities…needless to say, it was amazing. Here is a link to the Trulia listing. I’m not sure if the actual listing is correct, but at least you can see some of the pictures. Also, if you’ve got 14 or 15 minutes, you can watch a YouTube tour of the house with whom I can only assume is the realtor.

We finally were able to make it back to the Gourmet Market for brunch today. It’s been several weeks since we’ve been able to go and we were afraid they’d forget about us! After brunch, we hit the grocery store. Some $100 bucks later, we came out with enough food for dinner (and lunches for me) throughout this hectic week. Anyway, because we knew we’d have to go to my mom’s to pick up my car after we went to this open house, I decided to make dinner before we went so we could just heat it up when we got back.

For dinner tonight, I made a Tomato Tortellini Soup from Taste of Home.

It was pretty easy and I only adapted the recipe a little bit. (We left out the sun-dried tomatoes because they were $4.99 for one jar–which is what the recipe called for–and instead of using TWO cups of half and half, I used one cup and then to account for the other cup I added 14 tablespoons of skim milk–one cup minus two tablespoons–and two tablespoons of melted butter…this was to help cut the calories a bit.) To go with this soup, I made garlic cheddar biscuits from Gina’s Skinny Taste. Her recipe said the dough could make 14 biscuits…I didn’t realize how much they would expand, so I only scooped 10 and they are huge (which means more calories)! So trust her when she says to make 14 or 15 scoops.

Here’s my soup and biscuits.

Β  Tomorrow night, the hubs will have left over soup and probably biscuits or grilled cheese…whatever floats his boat.

Wednesday, he’ll make a flat iron steak. That’s right…Bubba in the kitchen on Wednesday. He’ll be adapting this flank steak recipe from Fitness Magazine.

Spice Rubbed Flank Steak

I seriously can’t wait to eat this. It seems very fall in its spice mix…brown sugar, garlic powder, cumin, salt, thyme and cinnamon…plus a little cayenne pepper. It’s going to be so tasty. We’ll be serving this with mini corn on the cobs and a frozen steamer bag of Brussels sprouts with butter sauce. We both think we’ll like Brussels sprouts, so we’re giving it a try this week. Here’s hoping we do like them because we’ll be eating them even if we don’t.

Thursday, I’ll be working late again so Bubba will probably end up at the Roo having bar food for dinner.

So while the menu isn’t anything to scream about, its a pretty tasty mix and will keep us full all week. It’s also all pretty healthy.

I messed up on the biscuits a bit and each one is about 150 calories, but if you only have half…so romantic…it’s only 75. πŸ™‚ A serving of soup (the recipe serves 10 people), will cost you about 244 calories. Bub and I each had a bowl for dinner tonight then I set some aside for leftovers this week, but I froze half of it for another time when we’re in a busy week bind. If you’re looking for a way to cut a few extra calories, leave the tortellini to your husband and just serve yourself some of the broth. It’s still pretty tasty and filling. Either way, you’re looking at about 319 calories for the soup and biscuit…give or take a few depending on how you eat it.

One serving of the flat iron steak will cost you about 175 calories, the Brussels sprouts another 30 and you can count on about 170 for the mini corn on the cob (if you don’t add butter, if you do, add another 50 cals).

In the future, it’d be nice if I could be serving these meals to the love of my life off a great kitchen table like this

I can’t help but look for great things for the house all the time. A new table and a love seat (to match our couch) are tops on my list right now. Unfortunately, I think the living room gods are working against me as our couch has since been discontinued making it increasingly difficult to find this love seat anywhere!

I have one last website that may have it. I just need to remember to call them! If they don’t, I’m not sure what I’ll do next! The table is just a fantasy as I’m not sure we have the space for it right now…but down the road, something like this is definitely what I’d look for. πŸ™‚

Anyway, not a terrible dinner week to gear up for the holiday season. I’m trying really hard to instill positive eating habits BEFORE the holidays get here so I’m not playing catch up in January…besides, it’s just a few months after Christmas that we’re heading to Barbados and I need my swim suit to be nice to me! πŸ™‚

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