An adventure in home improvement

I think I have a curse when it comes to tackling home improvement projects.

It never seems to fail: I get a great idea, I get the gumption to tackle the project, and then something goes horribly, horribly wrong. I don’t have the right tools, sometimes. Or, more often, I do not have the brain needed to know what in the hell I am doing.

My husband and I decided to refloor my breezeway area – which for the entire time I’ve lived here has been an ugly brown indoor/outdoor carpet. However, it was durable and stood up to the muck and grime that inevitably got dragged into that area day after day, so I kept it.

We had recently made an effort to turn that area into more usable space. We purchased a small square table from a local furniture store and put it in there. However, the area was also inhabited by my husband’s numerous drum cases. He’s a drummer, hence the cases. And when he plays gigs as often as he does, it is preferable to have the cases in a location where you can just grab and go. Some of that stuff is darn heavy. The breezeway seemed like a great place to put that stuff.

But now we have tired of the brown “turf” carpeting and we wanted something that made the breezeway a place to hang out, if one desired. We went to Menards and picked out some Mohawk laminate plank flooring (Lexington Pine) and loaded up our cart with everything we needed, and we picked a day to get the project started.

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Antique store scores!

Yesterday my husband and I ventured out to Okoboji, Iowa, which is about 1.5 hours away from where we live. We had visited an antique store there a couple weeks ago, but because we had gotten there so late in the day, we did not get to visit all the antique stores that we saw. There is one store in particular that my husband fell in love with because of one simple reason: vinyl. Lots of vinyl. Even better, there was lots of mint-condition vinyl.

Actually, we both discovered stores that fed our little addictions because I discovered a honeypot of tablecloths in one of the stores. Even better, they were fairly priced. I had about 30 of them to look through, and I made off with 5 of them, including a Wilendur. It is has some faint yellow stains, but I am determined to get this baby looking like new by soaking and scrubbing until it gleams again. Once I saw the tag on this beauty (plus it was 50% off), I knew I had to have it.

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Let him fly . . .

I am in the inexplicable position of having to watch my oldest child go off and be an adult. I say “inexplicable” because there is no possible way that 18 years has flown by so quickly. I know it’s a cliche to sit here in stupified silence, reminiscing that an oldest child is “of age,” but here I am.

My oldest is a “textbook” oldest. He is the most stubborn person on the planet. He likes to control the show, not be a spectator. From the time he was a toddler, I knew I was in trouble. Looking back on home videos from his toddler days, there were many times when I would be telling him “NO” when he’d reach for something and he would just turn and look at me with that sparkle in his eye, seemingly saying, “Oh, yeah? Try me.” My bookshelf began to get overtaken with self-help books about parenting a strong-willed child.

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Yum! Tastes like Summer!

I suppose I am not unlike most people that I find myself making certain foods during a particular season, and it doesn’t feel like that season until I make that food item. For example, when I make apple pie in the fall, then it truly FEELS like fall. I have found that summer isn’t truly summer until I decide to make a couple of different food items. Last summer I was traveling a lot, and I was really too busy to cook a whole lot, so I never made my traditional “summer” items. So, really guys, I am still waiting for LAST summer to happen. Does that mean I can opt out of this 2020 one? Because if I’m being honest, it kind of sucks so far. Anyway, let’s talk about food that will herald that arrival of summah. (Not a typo – just introducing a different accent into my written words, which is totally normal. Right? RIGHT?)

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Going on a bender – with tablecloths

I started collecting tablecloths about ten years ago after I decided to sell some that were just sitting in storage; they were not the right size for my table and were colors that I really didn’t like. I know now that I sold them way too cheaply, but I had no idea then that tablecloths were as collectible as they were. The swift sale of those cloths intrigued me, and I began looking for them when I went to antique stores and hunting for them online. I learned the good brands, what made a tablecloth particularly collectible, and how to remove stains.

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A Night with Night Ranger

A friend of mine recently started a blog and one of his recent posts reminded me of a story from years ago. I have not met many celebrities over the course of my life and tend to clam up around anyone who has made a name for themselves, so my stories are few and far between. But this one time, many years ago, I lived an ’80s dream.

Born in the ’70s, growing up in the ’80s, I was a child of ’80s music. Sometimes a song will come over the radio that catapults me back into the days of wearing Madonna-esque clothing (although I was a tomboy and really just wore the same jeans and T-shirts until middle school). Night Ranger songs tend to have this effect. Isn’t it strange how a song can help you remember things that you thought had faded from memory? Smells have that same effect; I keep a perfume that I used to wear in high school simply so every once in a while I can take a whiff and remember how it felt to be 16 with no mortgage to pay and a back that didn’t hurt all the time. It’s a strange effect, really. I can no longer wear most “real” perfumes because they give me an instant headache. However, I do like the nostalgia they evoke. Anyway, back to Night Ranger.

It was the summer of 1996. I was newly graduated from college and living with my sister in a very small town (think a couple hundred people) in southwest Minnesota. The town had one bar, but the place seemed to draw some pretty big names due to some fantastic networking by the bar’s owner. That summer, we found out that he had somehow convinced Night Ranger to play at the bar, and that is where the adventure begins.

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Um, toads? Don’t you know about the “new normal”?

I’ll admit that I am more than a little weary of the new talking points of this time period, including the one I used in the title of this post. New normal, social distancing, and whatever adjective ad execs and politicians want to use in front of the word “times” – challenging times, unprecedented times, difficult times, extraordinary times, uncertain, etc. I am mildly annoyed that I have to sit through commercials that now talk about COVID and social distancing. Good lord, enough already.

At my house, however, nature knows no social distancing rules. The toads have invaded my pond and they are NOT 6-feet apart.

I know my pond has been the subject of this blog before, but for those who may not be familiar with the backstory, let me digress for a moment.

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The Power of an Idea

Last week, my husband and I were sitting on the back patio by the pond. We had just spent the past two days going around buying flowers at different greenhouses – mostly perennials, as I am trying to make landscaping as maintenance-free as possible. The area that was just to the left of the pond is full of colorful perennials, and I love going to the backyard when everything is in full bloom and just marveling at the beauty of it all. My backyard is my little haven, but it needs a couple of things: some privacy (I have two houses that angle toward my backyard and nothing to shield them) and even more color.

I turned to my husband and said, “What if we put yet another perrennial garden to the right of the pond, leaving a little walkway in between? Then in the middle of summer this whole area would be full of flowers.

In typical “me” fashion, I grabbed a can of spraypaint right then (leaving my coffee to get cold) and outlined what I had in mind. My husband liked the idea, so we changed into work clothes and started digging out the grass.

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The paranoia is thick!

So, the quarantine days drag on. I think if I lived in a larger town, the stifling feeling of all of this wouldn’t be so bad, but as it is, we have few options for shopping. We have a grocery store. We have a Dollar General. Truthfully, that’s about it. We had one of the last K Marts in the country, but that closed down this past winter. It’s just four people in a too-small house in a too-small town.

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