OK ladies, here goes….
Jenny – I updated my daily schedule in the sidebar. I was giving it a trial run before posting it, to iron out any bugs. I’m happy to say that it’s working very well for us so far. Also, I posted my chocolate chip waffle recipe on my recipe blog, Economical Eats. Here’s the link:
Heather – My husband is a real estate broker and appraiser, so I asked him to answer your question:
“I read the description of your townhouse on your blog, and my suggestion is to first ask yourself if your home is already in average condition or better, as compared to others like it in your neighborhood. If the answer is yes, be careful about spending too much money on it. You want to attract the average buyer, because they have the greatest market share. If your townhouse is in below average condition, determine what it would take to bring it up to average. Floor covering replacement or other major investments may be necessary. Try to avoid remodeling. If cabinets are dark and dingy, consider painting rather than replacing. The biggest mistake people make is spending too much, only to find out that they can’t get their money back at resale.
Thorough cleaning, decluttering, and painting in neutral colors are some of the easiest and least expensive ways to make your home appealing to the average buyer. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms, because these rooms are typically very important to home buyers. Also, anything you can do to give your home a clean, pleasant, welcoming smell will pay off. Smoking and pet odors are particular turn-offs for most people.”
Lizardcat – After the 2-week, marathon basement clean-up, I too was fed up! First, I weeded out an entire, giant laundry basket of toys that the kids rarely played with anymore. Some will be sold on eBay, but most will go to our local consignment store, or Goodwill. Then, I instituted some new house rules. The kids used to just destroy the basement and never clean it up, but now they’re required to tidy it up each night before bed. This goes for their bedrooms too, because they do keep some toys in their rooms. 7:00 to 7:30 PM is officially clean-up time. Right now, Bee cleans up her mess, and we clean up Cakesie’s mess, because we don’t want Bee to feel like she’s being unfairly burdened. This is a much better system, because the mess never gets so unmanageable that Bee doesn’t even know how to begin cleaning it up. It usually only takes 10-15 minutes and she’s done. Just as a matter of interest, our house rules, as now posted on the fridge, are as follows:
1) MOMMY does NOT equal MAID!
2) Everyone cleans up their own messes.
3) Bedrooms, playroom, and any toys in the living room must be tidied up before bed. Anything not put where it belongs becomes the permanent property of Mommy.
4) Everyone takes their own dishes to the sink after meals.
5) Dirty clothes go IN THE HAMPER!
6) Wet towels must be hung up after bath.
7) No clothing changes during the day. (Bee likes to change clothes 25 times a day, which results in a giant laundry mountain).
No jumping on the furniture.
9) Library books go in the library bag, not on the bookshelf.
10) Food and drink stay in the kitchen.
Suzie – I’m 34 and my husband is 50. We began dating when I was 26 and he was 42. I have two adult stepsons from my husband’s first marriage. Shocked you now, didn’t I?
Nancy M – You can read more about how we achieved debt freedom in these three posts:
For us, getting out of debt involved liquidating a lot of assets, and pinching pennies in every way possible. There are links to my most popular “Saving Money” posts in the sidebar, if you’re interested in learning more.
Janel – here’s the link to my homemade chicken and noodles recipe:
We followed these steps to paint our kitchen cabinets:
1) Remove all doors, drawer fronts and hardware.
2) Clean all cabinet frames with TSP (tri-sodium phosphate-you can get this at Home Depot).
3) Scuff frames with steel wool until finish is dull.
4) With a small trim roller, apply a coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 water based sealer.
5) With the same roller, apply two coats of high quality, high-gloss paint. We used High Hiding White from Ace Hardware, and it’s very good quality. I can really scrub it, and the finish doesn’t budge.
6) Clean drawers and door fronts with lacquer thinner, to remove wax, grease, and gummy old varnish.
7) Hand sand them with a sanding block and 80-grit sandpaper, to remove the remaining varnish. Fill any deep dents and gouges with automotive body filler, available at most auto parts or hardware stores.
Gradually refine block sanding from 120-grit to 320-grit, to eliminate the heavy sanding scratches.
9) Apply 3 light coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 water based sealer with an automotive-type spray gun. If you don’t have access to this type of spray gun, which requires an air compressor, you might try your hand at a high-quality airless sprayer, which can be purchased or rented. A paint roller can also be used, however the finish will have more of an orange-peel effect, instead of a smooth, glassy finish.
10) Finish by spraying with two coats of the same high-quality, high-gloss paint used on the frames.
11) Allow doors and frames to dry thoroughly before reinstalling (we allowed a full week).
12) If your old hinges, handles and knobs are in good shape, and are all metal, they can be stripped of old varnish and paint by soaking in paint thinner, and cleaning with an old toothbrush. We cleaned our hinges this way, but we chose to replace our old knobs and handles with inexpensive brass and ceramic hardware that we found on clearance.
13) To nicely finish off the job, paint the undersides of the upper cabinets, and the toe-kick board on the lower cabinets.
14) We also installed crown molding and corner moldings on the soffit above the cabinets, to give them a more elegant, finished look.
This project wasn’t hard, but it was very time-consuming. We worked on it over the course of about two months, during the winter before I got pregnant with Cakes. I consider it time well-spent, because the results are amazing. A major improvement.
Autumn – I stand Tupperware lids upright in a large, square shoebox (such as one for men’s workboots), and nest containers inside each other. It’s not very scientific or profound, but it works for me.
Renata – My vegetable garden, sadly, is a bust. For some reason, nothing came up except squash, and a few carrots and green beans, which were immediately eaten by rabbits. I don’t know if it’s because we planted so late, or if my seeds were bad for some reason, but either way, it’s very depressing. Right now I have some very tall, hardy-looking weeds in it though
Carla – I’m planning to add sections to my HMG for memberships and subscription information (IE: my consignment store account, our AAA membership, etc), and also for the cat, to keep track of his shots and all. He’s practically another child. If anyone is unfamiliar with the HMG, you can read step-by-step instructions for making one here.
In regard to discipline, Cakesie is a real challenge. Bee rarely requires discipline at all. She’s just a very adaptable, obedient child, and all you have to do is give her a stern look, and she straightens up right away. The only thing that works with Cakes is the “naughty chair.” When I catch her being naughty, I haul her over to our designated chair, and make her sit for 2 minutes. I set the kitchen timer, and tell her that she cannot get up until it goes off, because she was naughty for…..(insert reason of choice here – smacking Pumpkin, throwing Mommy’s watch in the toilet, “shampooing” her hair with milk from her sippee cup, unraveling an entire roll of paper towels, writing on the coffee table with sidewalk chalk, etc. etc.) This seems to work with her, because she hates restrictions. Now, I find that all I have to do is say, “Does Mommy have to put you in the naughty chair?” and she stops her crazy antics post haste.
So far, I haven’t changed the way I cook, except that I rarely bake sweets anymore. Measuring my portions and cutting out desserts has made a big difference for me. I pretty much cook just as I always did, except I try to make the recipes healthier. I eliminate some of the fat by sauteeing in vegetable or chicken broth instead of oil or margarine. When meat is called for, I cut the amount in half, and double up on whole grains and veggies instead. It seems to work pretty well for me (though my weight loss is at a standstill this week – aargghhh!), and is cheaper too!
WHEW! That was a long one. I don’t know how Dear Abby does it all!