Monday, January 27, 2014

Why Small Town Post Offices Rock

I need a mailbox. That might not seem like a big deal, but how many times in your life will you get to be the one to have to install a brand new mailbox. I am not talking about replacing your existing mailbox, repairing a damaged one, or adding a pretty decal to your rusted old mailbox. No, I am talking about, "Hey, this is a brand new address and I need to get mail here eventually.

I have my perpetual checklist of things to accomplish for the Shouse. One of the items is deciding which address (I have two parcels of land with separate addresses) I will receive mail at and then I have to choose a mailbox to install.

Who knew there were so many options in mailboxes?

In Phoenix we have what we refer to as "banks of mailboxes." Large units that have thirty or more mailboxes are located just down the street. Each homeowner gets an assigned box and a key. It sucks because it isn't just out front of my house and, often, I don't retrieve my mail regularly and the box fills up with junk mail. At my new place I will have the luxury of a mailbox in front of my house again. Just a short trot down the drive in my nightie and muck boots, and that cable bill is mine.

So I took the time this weekend to research mailboxes and determine just how much it is going to set me back in my budget. Mailboxes for the US Postal Service run between $20 and upwards of $500, depending on quality and size. I want a rural box, which means it is quite a bit larger. Why a rural size mailbox? Because I can receive packages that way and they will be protected from the elements. Other considerations are set-backs, post type (allowing for a snow plow), and making sure the post securely holds the box.

In order to find out the expectations for my mailbox installation, I phoned my new local post office in Oklahoma. Now, I have been very frustrated at times with the US Postal System and its automated phone system. I have spent hours (I am not exaggerating) pressing one and following looping menu items, never able to speak with a human being to resolve mail-related issues. Not this time. Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to speak with a real live human being.

The Sparks, OK post office is a small operation and is only open for one hour on Saturdays to accommodate shipping needs and package pick up. I spoke to the very knowledgeable gal running it at length and she was awesome, spectacular, and, wait for it... actually helpful!

I learned that installing a mailbox is partially decided by the route the delivery person takes. For example, if they head west on my road then the mailbox would be across the street from my house. You have to set your mailbox back or on a special type of pole on streets that get plowed so as to avoid having the plow remove your mailbox along with the latest snowfall. I learned that my postal carrier ultimately gets to influence placement of my new box to make their job easier. I learned that when you are friendly to your local mailperson, they will go out of their way to give you information about a new town you plan to move to.

Tanya, the gal I spoke with, was wonderful! I asked her this question: "Should I buy a locking mailbox? Do ya'll have any problems with mail theft out in my area."

She said, "Hold on. Let me look up your address and see." Silence on the line for a moment before she said, "Oh, no. The worst we have out here is mailbox baseball on the paved road. You won't have that problem out in the country where you are. Most of the kids stick to the paved road for that."

I was so surprised and pleased. First of all the fact that mail theft isn't an issue out in sticks is a good thing. Mail theft in Phoenix is epidemic. Secondly, the town of Sparks has a population of 168, yet my property was referred to as "the country" makes me happy all over! I have finally found exactly what I was looking for!

I was equally pleased when she said, "We have a Walmart too. Just 8 miles up the road. Now that the road is paved and the bridges are fixed it is a quick trip."

Wow, one paved road! Yay!!! I can almost hear the whistling of Andy Griffith. Small town America does still exist!

I spoke with Tanya for quite a bit. She filled me in on where to shop, where the county seat is, and information about churches and community activities. She listed off surrounding towns and the distance to travel to them. She even recommended a well supply company where I can get the well pump at a good price. I hadn't considered where doctors and hospitals are located, but now I know that if there is an emergency on the weekend, the doctor will actually meet you up at his office or make an occasional house call!!!

I am so glad to know that small town rural America still exists. Oh, and the outcome of the mailbox you may ask. The mail carrier is going to check out if there is a box out on my property yet (there was once a mobile home on the land) and then give me a call today. Customer service is alive and well in the US Postal Service!

My faith in humanity has been restored. All is well in the world again.

Mason Insulated Cup Giveaway Winner Is...

Congrats to Jenny Hoang! Your insulated cups will be mailed out on Wednesday. Thank you for entering my very first give-away!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oklahoma Ghost Towns

Can decay be beautiful?

I love to walk through abandoned places, old cemeteries, and the like. I find myself wondering about the people who once lived there. I wonder how a town that once thrived with businesses, schools, hospitals, and all the trappings of human life only to fade away slowly over time. How does that happen?

I was poking around on Youtube and came across a gentleman who travels all around Oklahoma to document some of the 2,000 "Ghost Towns" scattered near and far. Often he will co-mingle photos of buildings and people from the height of the towns occupancy with photos of the decay decades of abandonment and neglect bring upon man-made structures.

In his About section on his Youtube channel, D.W. Taylor describes his collection of ghost town videos:

I've always had a fascination with things abandoned and a love of history. I found it sad that so many of these places were forgotten..
The definition of a ghost town has always been controversial, and people often take offense having their town classified as such. I decided to use the definition of a ghost town as defined by Oklahoma University professor John Wesley Morris in his 1979 book, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma. According to John, a ghost town is defined as:
1) Hamlets, villages, towns, and cities that are no longer in existence, all buildings and indications of existence have been either destroyed or covered by water; 2) where the remains of business and/or residential structures still stand but are largely unused; 3) where the population has decreased at least 80 percent from its maximum.
Based on his definition, Oklahoma contains over 2,000 ghost towns. I decided to start posting short collections of these towns in an effort to preserve a small piece of history.

History is the best reminder of what works and what does not. Detroit is rapidly becoming one of our largest ghost towns in history. Thousands and thousands of houses and buildings that hold memories and secrets of lives gone past are rapidly falling to decay. I picture Detroit the way New York City was portrayed and as Will Smith's character found it in I Am Legend. Nature will eventually take back what man thought would stand forever. Soon a collection of foundations and crumbling walls will be over-run by trees, brush, and plants of every conceivable form. Only whispers of the greatness that once was will remain.

When we get to the end of our lives we are told material goods hold no value. We can't take it with us when we die is the mantra. Experiences and memories are all we really get to take on that final journey. If we don't share those memories and experiences with others, they will be lost with us. 

I adore watching these videos and taking a tour of the lives of proud people from long ago. I love the energy that still remains regardless of the condition of the houses and buildings. I get an amazing feeling when I try to imagine the pride that the homeowner felt upon taking occupancy of a newly built home so long ago. The feeling they must have had, that this home they labored to build would stand the test of time long after they had moved into the great unknown. I think it a good thing in many ways that enough time has passed that those who would have lived and worked in these great small towns would be long gone as well. What would they say if they could see that the foundation of their dream remains, but little else. 

Go check out some of these fascinating videos at Mr. Taylor's Youtube channel:  and take a fascinating glimpse into the land rushes of the 1890's through the Great Depression of the 1930's. Take a virtual tour down the streets of towns calling softly to you to remember that they once existed too. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Old Is New Again

The beauty of the spray paint can. Ahhh, the stink of the fumes. The over-spray. The dust. Painting something using spray paint can be a hassle, but sometimes the hassle is well worth it.

This past weekend I spent some time debating my "vintage", i.e. really old, patio furniture. I really like it because it is comfortable, but it looked terrible. I have been trying to decide if I should just buy new or figure out how to jazz up the old. I found this cute bistro set in red (pictured on the left) but it was $199 for just the three pieces. I have a table with 4 chairs, two rockers, two bouncers and two side tables that match now. It would cost me my first-born and then some to purchase all those new. Ultimately the cost of 9 cans of spray paint prevailed and now I have made old new again.

Yellow/White is Old -
 Brown is New
Halfway finished
I am not well known for having great patience, however I tried my best to go slow, use thin coats, and get all the nooks and crannies. I managed to get all four chairs and a side table done before the wind kicked up and I felt I should stop. Over-spray would not be a good thing on the neighbors car!

I am quite pleased with the results and plan to finish the glass-top table this coming weekend. Hopefully this set will last a long while more. Painting the old set has saved me a substantial amount of cash. It took just over a can of paint per chair/item. I will need to buy more paint, but the cost of even 20 cans of paint is a fraction of replacing the entire set.

Updating the old to be new again. As Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

5 Ways to Use Mason Jars for Valentines Day

Valentines day is rapidly approaching. It is hard to believe that we are already in the third week of January! With Valentines Day in just three weeks, I promised my procrastinating self that I would get things done in advance. Poking around the web, I found some very creative and fun ways to dress up my Valentine's gifts. Perhaps these might inspire some home-spun "Be My Valentine" goodness for you too.

1. Pucker Up: Keri over at Shaken Together Life, fills pint size jars with Lemon Drops and adds an adorable tag reading, "Pucker Up." Simple, yet adorable. I can taste the lemony goodness as I type this.

2. Hearts Wrapped Up: Beth at Beth-A-Palooza used her Cricut machine to make mini Mason tags to mimic the jar, added some shredded paper and valentine fabric to create a unique jar gift. Some candy or a trinket and, ta-da, you have a sweet Valentine gift for sure.

3.You're The Bomb: Mara of Joyful Mara came up with this clever way to blow-up Valentine's Day. Cute!

4. S'More Than You: Teacher's appreciate Valentines just like kids do. Here is a sweet gift for that favorite teacher from Kimberly at A Night Owl Blog. Kimberly even included the printable tags!

5. I Am A Sucker For You: Share and Remember has a great adaptation of the Valentine Card. Using a printable Mason Jar, a lolipop, and some Washi Tape, these cards are quick and easy, but oh so cute. Printed on bright card stock, these are sure to be a hit.

Valentines + Mason Jars = Can't go wrong.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stress Free Moving the Rancho No Dinero Way

Ride along with me on my commute as I explain the Rancho No Dinero method of moving. Guaranteed to reduce stress and a sure-fire way to stay organized, this method is tried and true. Welcome to Rancho No Dinero!

Check out this episode!

Signs for each room (Put these on the doors/entry ways so those moving boxes and furniture in can easily identify each space)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Inspiration Found in Eleanor Roosevelt

"A Woman is like a tea bag - You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."
     --Eleanor Roosevelt

White House Portrait
Contemplating how I deal with being under pressure has made me realize that I fair pretty well, even when things look like they are so bleak and I can't see a way out. Let us consider Eleanor Roosevelt as some inspiration. First of all, Eleanor lost her parents at a very young age. Her mother died from Diptheria and her father from Alchoholism. She spent her youth with her maternal grandmother where she was starved for attention. Eleanor did not consider herself attractive and often suffered from depression. She eventually married her 5th cousin, Franklin Roosevelt, only to discover his mother, her Mother-in-Law, Sara, was a huge pain in the ass. Her husband then had a couple of very torrid and well publicized affairs, including the one with Lucy Mercer. Eleanor knew hot water, that is for certain.

Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly her stands on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband's policies. She launched an experimental community at Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the families of unemployed miners, later widely regarded as a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.
(Source: Wikipedia) 
 After her husband died, Eleanor continued to be active in politics. She encouraged the US to join the UN and was one of the first delegates. She fought for equality of women in both pay and position. She took part in the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1999 she was listed by Gallup as one of the most influential women in America. She was a feminist at heart and a powerful, outspoken American.

Eleanor was the mother to 6 children, wife to a President, and went on to do many, many things to fight racial and sex discrimination, she fought for those less fortunate, and she inspired many women to take up a cause.

A brilliant woman with many great accomplishments, it is clear that Eleanor was a strong cup of tea!

Mason Jar Monday - Mason Jar Quilt Blocks

Living on a homestead, or really in any cold climate, one can never have enough quilts. I am a fan of vintage as well as modern quilts. They come in handy and they reflect the personality of the one who sewed it. My friend, Liz, makes some incredible quilts and she has gotten me excited about creating my own. I am currently working on three quilts. The one I am sharing with you today is a Mason Jar quilt. It will have 12 embroidered blocks and 9 blocks that are pieced, along with fabric that has little jars and fireflies. I am shooting for a queen size blanket so that it will be versatile for both use on the couch, a twin bed, a full bed, or on a queen bed, of course.

I ordered these pre-printed Jack Dempsey Creatures in Jars squares online for $10.50 including shipping. Each square measures 9 x 9 and is printed with an ink that washes away the first time you wash the finished block. When you embroider in this way, you are simply coloring with thread. I am pleased to be on block 4 and will be really excited once I can put the pieces together to form the actual quilt.

It's fun to swim at the Y.M.C.A!
Quilt blocks come in one piece you cut apart.

Hermit Crabs

Happy Mason Jar Monday!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Food Smells and Memory Triggers - A Walk Down Memory Lane

Homemade Pretzels, yum!
Today was a typical Sunday in January. That, in my world, means cool weather, lazy Sundays, and football. I got kinda "snacky" earlier and was craving the staple food familiar to all of those who hail from Philadelphia: The soft pretzel. I wandered out to the kitchen an whipped up a batch of homemade pretzels. And while they were good, they are definitely not Philadelphia soft pretzels.

It is funny how certain smells totally transport me back to my youth and some of the more memorable, yet everyday, events in my life. The smell of bleach and Tide combined with moist earth was the distinct smell of my grandmother's basement. It was such a unique smell that I am only blessed with wisps of it on very rainy or humid days. When I was growing up my parents would take us to football, baseball, and hockey games as well as to the more cultural things of theater and concerts. As we would drive out to south Philly, whenever we would get stopped at a red light, you could count on a guy standing in the median selling soft pretzels. Now I don't know if they do that anymore down by the stadiums, but when I was a kid we lived for those soft pretzels with tangy yellow mustard. We also liked to buy dill pickles out of a barrel at the deli, but those I know are gone. My son and my granddaughter never got the joy of fishing out their own crispy dill pickle to wrap in a piece of paper and snack on all the way home from the deli. Pickles in a jar are just not the same.

Baking these pretzels today took me back in time for sure. It was a bittersweet walk down memory lane. How about you? Do food smells transport you back in time?

Here is the recipe for my pretzels. Keep in mind, this is my recipe, not a chef's and they certainly don't even come close to the ones in Philly, but they will sure do in a pinch!

Rancho No Dinero's Soft Pretzels

  • 2 packets of Yeast 
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (not hot, but warm) water 
  • 5 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Garlic powder 
  • butter (melted)

Using a dough hook on your mixer, add the water and the yeast to the mixing bowl. Give it a stir. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and mix. Let stand 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt to the bowl. Start the hook to give it a stir. Add the rest of the flour. Let the mixer do the work for 3 -5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and put it on a floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes. Cut up into even chunks (I did 12 and used my crinkle fry cutter). Roll each chunk out into a long rope and form into pretzel shape.* Put on a greased or, like I did, lay them on parchment paper. Brush on the melted butter and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.

Bake in an oven at 450 for 8 - 20 min (depending on how thick they are). You want them to turn a golden color, but not be hard as a rock. Sometimes slightly under cooked is better than over cooked.

Serve with mustard or butter, depending on your tastes. Dipping it in cheese sauce is a good way to eat them too.


*if you have baking soda, add half a cup to a saucer of water and bring to a boil. Drop each pretzel into the water for 30 - 45 seconds and then drain before putting on cookie sheet or parchment paper. Then do the butter step.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Small Batch Cooking - Just Enough For One or Two

Click here to purchase through Amazon
I live alone. Well, not exactly alone. I do have a cat and a dog, and occasionally my boyfriend flies in from Seattle, but for the most part, I live alone. One of the biggest complaints I hear from friends, and one that I make as well, is that cooking for one stinks. The main complaint is that if you cook more than you need for a meal or two, you feel compelled to eat it anyway, even if you are full or really shouldn't eat more. I was raised not to waste food. As a result, it sits on my waist. Do you know what I am talking about? Are you guilty of it too? I think I may have found a cookbook that you may want to own as well!

Debby Maugans Nakos has written a pioneering cookbook aptly entitled: Small-Batch Baking. She has taken everyday baked-good's recipes for foods like cookies, cake, pies, tarts, crisps, crumbles, and sweetbreads, and rewritten them to make make, well like the title says, small batches. Such a brilliant concept!

Each recipe is "just enough" for one or two people, with no risk of left-overs. Instead of measuring your ingredients in cups, recipes are measured in tablespoons. Scaled down pans create the beautiful shape of the bunt cake we have all come to love so well, but instead of being 10 servings or more, you get two. There are simple recipes for muffins, but also fancier recipes such as Creme Brulee. The cookbook has 225 fantastic recipes to choose from. Breakfast and desert have never been better!

I found this book on Amazon for $13.95, but actually purchased it on Ebay for less than $5 including shipping! It is published by Workman Publishing, NY, ISBN#0-7611-3035-7. Another great thing about this book is it is sized smaller than a typical cookbook. This will make it convenient to store in my Shouse kitchen.

If you like to cook, enjoy baked goods, and, like me, have little self control, check out this cookbook! I like it so much I gave them as gifts this past holiday season. Oh, I don't want to forget to mention that Debby also has a Gluten-Free version AND a chocolate lovers version. Yum!

4 of 100 Things - Sew Pretty

I find sewing very relaxing and highly cathartic. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Frontier House - A Historical Exercise in Homesteading

I love history. Home sick with a sinus infection and looking to entertain myself, I came across this series where folks were plucked from the 21st Century and transported back in time. I believe it was on PBS in the 90's. The families were selected from a pool of applicants to recreate the American experience of homesteading in the west for 5 months. I was as riveted to this program each week. Later there was a similar program produced named 1900's House.  I would love to be selected to participate in a project like this. I find the inability of some to think wisely and to adapt very frustrating in this program, but I have to remind myself that this was a television program and was edited to show a struggle, just as early Americans would have had to endure. However, you may find the woman who cries over silly things (I can't wear make up, wah wah) as annoying as I do. Here is the entire series for you to enjoy.

Episode 1 The American Dream

Episode 2 Promised Land

Episode 3 Until Death Do Us Part

Episode 4 Survival

Episode 5 A Family Affair

Episode 6 The Reconing

What do you think? Could you have lasted in the wild frontier or would you be one of the many who couldn't last 5 years to keep their claim?

3 of 100 Things - IKEA Ideas

I love the clever and attractive storage options I find at my local IKEA.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

1 of 100 Things - The Most Practical Kitchen Item

Day 2 - 100 Things Challenge -- I love Mason Jars because of their practicality and usefulness. They are definitely something I love.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Seattle, WA October 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Treasures From the Lutheran Thift Shop Sun City, AZ

I love to go thrift shopping. Flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, etc. are great too. I love the idea of donating things I no longer use and how, often, thrift shops are charitable and pay it forward. I have found some great treasures at these types of shops, so I am starting a weekly feature I will be calling Thrifty Thursday. Why? Because if you are not someone who likes the idea of poking through things others have deemed as useless, I hope to help you see thrifting through different eyes.

I live (for now) in Arizona. The city where I live is very close to Sun City, AZ which is a retirement community. A very LARGE retirement community that was built on the site of a former ghost town known as Marrinette. You must be 65+ to live in Sun City and there are no children allowed to reside in the community. Children may visit of course, but the community is exempt from paying school taxes and children may not stay more than 9 consecutive months. As of the year 2000 US Census, there are 38,309 residents in the area. In order to afford to retire in Sun City, you must have a nice nest egg. It is not cheap to buy a house in the community and HOA/Community fees are quite high. According the US Census the average income is around $40,000 a year. These are retired folks, so you know they put by well in order to continue to have an income after retirement.

Why the stats on Sun City? Well they are the source for a large portion of what is donated to thrift shops around here. One scenario is that they are what we affectionately refer to as "snow birds." Snow birds come to Arizona to ride out the winters from places such as Canada, Minnesota, Illinois, etc. and head back to their northern homes once the heat returns (April and May are common months to flee from the inevitable heat). The second scenario is they pass away. Either scenario leaves folks with lots of things that are no longer needed. Many times the elderly have families that live far from Arizona and they simply hire an estate company to come in and run a sale, but if they do come to clean out their deceased parents home, they often only take things of sentimental value and donate the rest to not-for-profit gift shops. One of the largest around here is the Lutheran Thrift Shop.

Yesterday my friends who live on the other side of the valley (about an hour away) drove over to this side to go thrifting at the Lutheran Thrift shop and I tagged along. I just love the mix of the vintage with the brand new or modern. There is everything from fine antiques to newer furniture sets that look brand new and cost a fraction of the showroom cost. I love wandering through and this time I took my camera to take snaps of all the fun, fascinating, and sometimes, very odd stuff. I love the walk down memory lane some of the items take me on. For example, I found a set of dishes I had back when I first got married, 25 years ago. I saw a vintage stroller that looks brand new. I remember those strollers too. I saw hand stitched pillow cases made with love alongside vintage radios families would have huddled around to listen to programs long before television came along. All-in-all, I had a great time and even scored myself a couple of treasures. The Lutheran Thift Shop is a non-profit and it takes up an entire shopping center! There is lots and lots to choose from.

If you are in Arizona, in the greater Phoenix area, you should definitely check out the Lutheran Thrift Shops. They have several locations around the valley in case you don't want to drive to the west valley. If you are moving or have stuff to donate, just give them a jingle on the phone and they will arrange to come pick up all your donated items. Paying it forward while saving some money? Can't beat that!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Welcome to a New Year Rancho No Dinero Episode #8

I released podcast #8 yesterday (yay! It is about time, eh?) and in it I touched on how I am planning to build my kitchen. If you are interested in listening to the latest podcast, just click on the link below. 

Anyway, in this episode I touched on how rather than installing stock cabinets from my local home improvement store and laying out thousands of dollars, I am going to be creating my kitchen by re-purposing items I already have and some items I found at my local IKEA. Total cost? I am estimating, with a stove, under $1000. 

Here is the table I am going to make into a work space after painting with a satin black, adding a butcher-block counter top, and some decorative curtain: 

These are the new knobs and the fabric for the curtain. The current dangling pulls will be removed, the holes filled, and the new larger porcelain knobs installed. The drawers will be lined with cork and have a knife block in one of them. The other will hold other supplies as needed: 

Below are the kitchen components I talked about during the podcast that I plan on purchasing from IKEA. You can click on the link to go to the IKEA site if you like:

Numerar Counter Top 

Sundvik Changing Table (need 3) 

Fintorp Collection

Liatorp Wall Bridge/Shelf

Steinstorp Wall Shelf w/Storage 

More of the Fintorp Collection
As you can see, these combined with the re-purposed table should make a very Country/French Country style kitchen. The table, because it will be on rollers, will be able to be moved to be cleaned behind. The curtains can be washed as needed and the knobs are porcelain so they can be wiped with disinfectant too. They are also large enough to hang towels on. I am really quite excited to see how this turns out, so check back next week. I plan to sew the curtains and paint the table this weekend. I cannot yet get the butcher block counter, but that will be purchased as soon as a) I can afford it and, b) when I have a transport vehicle at my disposal. 

Again, the chest freezer will have a portion of the butcher block top installed on its lid, which will be level with the table and its butcher block top. The stove unit will sit between the table and the chest freezer.

What do you think? Is 14' of counter space (I subtracted some for the sink) enough counter space in a kitchen? 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mason Jar Monday Give Away - Insulated Mason-Look Mugs and Cups

Mason jar cups that hold the charm of glass jars but are durable plastic, double-walled, and safe from breaking if dropped? Ooooh, yes! Look what I found! These Mason Jar-look cups are fantastic and were a bargain at only $1.98 each (they were on after-holiday clearance)! I was lucky enough to have found two of the handle-style mugs with screw on lids and reusable straws. Each included extra tops for hot liquids making them twice as useful. Then I scored three that don't have handles that included just half-moon lids. I tried to buy a color variety so that each would be easily identifiable in a sea of similar cups.

Because these are double-walled (a jar within a jar, so to speak) I can safely hold hot liquids without burning my hands and cold liquids won't sweat all over. These are made of BPA free plastic with silicon seals on the easy to pop in and out lids. I have used them for both hot and cold liquids at this point and am very pleased. Conveniently they are dishwasher safe too!

I am hoping there will be more left, as I would like to have 6 of each style, but I am doubtful at this point as I think lots of folks would love to have these as well. I was successful in hunting them down on Amazon. If worse comes to worse, I can order them that way. You can go here to purchase them at their full retail price (sorry, wish I could find them all for the clearance price). The ones sold on Amazon have a clear lid and straw too in case you would like them for a wedding or baby shower or are just not a fan of the color options.

I look forward to using these out on the deck and patio as well as for enjoying my morning cup of Java on my commute to work. I like that these are safe for my granddaughter since they are not glass. I adore the reusable straws and how a flange on them prevents them from being pulled out of the cup. Lightweight, easy to clean, and a comfortable size, these will be well loved in my home.

Best yet? I have two for a give away!!! Yay!! So, interested in winning two for yourself? Enter here by following the link.

Mason Jar Cup Giveaway

Good luck!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Rewiring an Antique Lamp - Saving an Heirloom

Over the holidays, my bf and I went to visit with his mother. While there she asked me if I would be interested in a lamp she wanted to get rid of. I was shocked when she showed it to me because it is absolutely beautiful and I think it is worth much more than free. I told her so, encouraging her to hold on to it. She insisted she didn't want it any longer adding she had listed it for sale on Craigslist, but had no takers because it didn't work right; Sometimes it turned on and sometimes it didn't. I knew instantly she was having a shorting-out issue and it was a really easy fix. Despite assuring her I could fix it, she said she didn't want it any longer and if I wanted it, I could take it.

My bf picked it up to put it in the car and the lamp revealed it was not very stable. The spider that is responsible for holding up the shade had much too much free movement, which caused the lamp to wobble quite freely. I made a mental note to take a look at the assembly to see if I could tighten it up somewhat.

$5 fix - New Socket
Old Socket Being Removed
Reassembled Properly
Today I took a run to my local DIY store and purchased a new bulb socket. I took out the bulb, pulled out the socket cover, pulled up the old socket, and undid the wiring. I had examined the lamp cord and found no issues with it, so I just figured for under $5 I could confirm my guess it was just the socket portion. After I secured the wires to the new socket I realized that the lamp was assembled improperly. My guess is that someone rewired this lamp way back in the day (based on the cord the late 1940's) and put it back together incorrectly. This accounted for the spinning and wobbliness overall. I took some time to take it apart and reassemble it, tightening each section as I went along. I could tell I was successful once I put the very heavy glass shade back on. The lamp is solid and turns on and off with ease.

Standing back, I cannot help but admire the craftsmanship of the early 1900's. This lamp is beautiful and highly detailed. I noticed there are small holes in each of the leaves, which means there was most likely crystals that hung from it at one time. I bet this was a sight to behold in the window of a store.

Hand-painted Repousse Glass Shade

Detailed Crown

Repousse Glass Section Mimics Glass Shade

Small Holes Where Crystals Likely Hung At One Time
I am thrilled to be the new owner of this extraordinary lamp. I think it will look fantastic in the Shouse. What do you think?