Hubs vs Squirrel – A Handyman Story

“You only need two tools in life; WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, use Duct Tape.” Unknown

“And a hammer. You can fix anything with a hammer.” Hubs

Sunday mornings are usually a peaceful time in my house. No alarm clocks, unless you count Lucy! She sleeps in a crate in our room and Hubs and I take turns taking care of her when she inevitably starts barking not long after the sun comes up. This particular Sunday it was my turn, so I got up, took her to do her business, fed her, and got ready to settle in with my breakfast and some iPad reading. No TV or music-just quiet time with my coffee. I’m glad it was quiet, otherwise I might not have heard the noise. At first I thought it was Lucy but she was not in the room. Scratching. It was coming from over my head and, since we live in a ranch-style house, it could only be coming from the attic. Ruh-roh! There’s some kind of wildlife in my attic!

I went and got Hubs out of bed so he could come listen to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Nope-there was definitely something up there. Hubs went back to the bedroom and I sat down to finish my coffee and plot our next move. I thought for sure Hubs was getting ready to help me figure out what we were going to do next but when more than a few minutes passed with no shower noise I went to investigate. He’d gone back to bed!! When he looked at me and realized going to sleep was clearly NOT happening, he got up & took his shower. He also asked me to do a search and see where we could find a humane animal trap. “Oh, GOOD!!” I thought. He’s gonna try to catch it himself instead of calling someone out on a Sunday for a ridiculous amount of money. I found where we could find a trap so we hopped in the Jeep and went to our local DIY hardware store.

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Found the trap-easy peasy!

The search I did had the exact location of the trap in the store and it took us no time to find it. We also looked at some pole saws since some branches that were overhanging the roof were the clear point of access for our unknown critter. Hubs thought he could get a better deal on a saw at another store so we went home, baited & set the trap, and went our separate ways-me to my weekly weigh-in meeting and Hubs & Sonny to the other hardware store for a pole saw.

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Handyman extraordinaire and his trusty assistant!

By the time I arrived home the guys were in the backyard hard at work clearing the branches away from the house. It was at this point Hubs realized he may have tried a bit too hard to save some money at the expense of getting the job done, as the saw he bought was too short for the job. He hadn’t gone out to look at how high the branches were in relation to where they originated on the tree, and the 10′ saw he bought was WAY too short, even with a 10′ ladder. So, back to the hardware store we went to get the correct sized saw. The shorter saw is going in the fall yard sale…

I have to digress a bit here. We shopped at Lowe’s for the trap and that’s where we returned for the longer pole saw. I didn’t notice this on the first trip, but when we returned I saw this sign in their parking lot. Service members hold a special place in my heart, especially since I’m married to a retired service member, and this sign melted me. Well done, Lowe’s!

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Thank you, Lowe’s!

So we got the correct size saw and Hubs was back on the ladder in no time clearing the rest of the branches away from the house. The 14′ saw worked like a charm and, while there are still a good number of branches that probably need to be cleared, the Squirrel Express access to the Penthouse suite has been permanently closed.

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Sorry, Mr. Squirrel-the Penthouse suite is closed! 

The craziest part of this whole story is that we never trapped anything! Hubs put the trap in the attic and has been checking it a couple of times a day. It’s been empty every time he’s checked it. I swear I was NOT imagining the sounds I heard, as Hubs heard them, too. I’m glad we didn’t need to spend the money for a pest control guy to come out on a Sunday, as that would’ve been ridiculously expensive and completely unnecessary. Hubs had a handle on this and I’m grateful he’s not afraid to tackle a job he’s certain he can do. Sonny did his part, as well. All’s well that ends well, and if we ever do catch that squirrel, or whatever it was, I’ll be sure to let you know!

I’d love to hear about some of your crazy adventures with wildlife in your house. Ever had a bat or a bird fly in? Or worse? Leave a comment and let me know!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Letting Go

“The cold never bothered me anyway…” Idina Menzel-“Let it Go” from the movie Frozen

This blogging adventure has taken me places I never thought I’d go, all without leaving the relative comfort of my desk or my couch. Some of the locations have been physical, while others have been inside my own mind. Today I came across a blog post that caused me to look inside and see how far I’ve come. Fellow blogger Michele shared a blog about conquering criticism and it brought back a rather unpleasant memory, but it also showed me how I’ve finally managed to pack up the unpleasantness and move on to bigger and better things…

I’m in my 3rd grade classroom, circa 1971. The desks are all lined up-4 or 5 rows and probably 5 desks per row. The class was full and the teacher was in front of the class asking questions about whatever subject was at hand-I think it was geography. I thought I knew the answer to one of her questions so I raised my hand. The teacher did not hear my answer clearly so she repeated what she thought I said, out loud, for the whole class to hear. It was NOT what I said, but by that time the damage had been done and the whole class was in stitches. I don’t think the class ever heard my actual answer because the laughter was so loud. You can be sure it was a VERY long time before my 3rd grade self raised my hand in that classroom again.

Third grade was a lifetime ago and it amazes me how vivid this memory still is in my mind’s eye. While I don’t remember the exact subject matter, I can still hear the almost mocking tone of the teacher’s voice when she said what she said, and I’m sure she had no idea at the time what affect her words would have on me. For the longest time I was afraid of revealing too much of myself publicly because I was deathly afraid of ridicule. I can still remember how it felt to hear that laughter knowing without a doubt it was directed squarely at me.

I still hold my cards pretty close to the chest in a lot of instances but it has taken a HUGE leap of faith for me to share my experiences with the world. I do so in the sincere hope that I might just inspire someone to take their own leap, follow their heart, or possibly to keep someone from making the same mistakes I’ve made. I’ll probably never know if I’ve succeeded in any of these things, but in all honesty I don’t need to know. What I do know is that I’ve been true to myself and I’ve “let go” of the fear and dread of the past. Look out world…

Have you had a similar experience? Please share in the comments-I’d love to hear from you! Thank you.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

A Funny Thing Happened at Bookstore Checkout

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” George Bernard Shaw

I sometimes joke about getting older. I tell people frequently that getting older is NOT for the timid. I have to say, though, with utmost humility, that I don’t look my age. At least I don’t think I do! Miss Clairol or her salon equivalent has a good bit to do with that, as I am starting to develop what my sister and I not-so-affectionately call Bride of Frankenstein hair, but on most days I neither look nor feel my age. Apparently I’m a bit delusional about this, as was made abundantly clear to me recently at my local bookseller…

As part of my ongoing quest to begin making a living at this blogging thing, the Hubs and I made a MAJOR purchase this week. I’ve crossed over to the dark side, given up the world of PCs, and bought a MacBook Pro. The Hubs found a REALLY great deal on eBay, so we went ahead and got it as our anniversary gift to each other. He fully acknowledges that he probably won’t be using it much, but I also keep track of our household expenses on a spreadsheet so he’ll at least reap the benefit of that. My story… Anyhow, if you’ve bought a computer or anything electronic in the last 5 years or so, you know that user manuals are, for all intents and purposes, extinct. Call me old-fashioned, but nothing beats a good old paper user manual. So after dinner Hubs, Sonny & I piled into the Jeep and made our way to the bookstore to find a user manual. I really love the “[Fill in the blank] for Dummies” series of books since they’re written in plain English without a lot of jargon to bog me down. I found one for the MacBook so I picked it up and took it to the checkout. The clerk was probably in her late teens or early twenties, pleasant enough, until she made a comment that, once I got over the shock of it, made me feel like I was 100 years old. “MacBook for Dummies”, huh? Yeah, people your age probably need books like this. Um…excuse me?? I’m not exactly sure where the heck that came from but you can be sure I didn’t see it coming! I’m not old!! Admittedly she was probably closer in age to my youngest niece (17) than she is even to my Sonny, but that still doesn’t make me old! After my wounded pride got over it a bit the Hubs and I had a very good laugh over the whole thing. It reminds me now of one of the absolute BEST movie lines of all time-Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes…”I’m older and I have more insurance.” HA! Don’t mess with Kathy Bates in the Winn Dixie parking lot! And don’t mess with the Older Wiser Money Miser at the bookstore check out counter! 🙂

So have any of my, shall we say, readers of a certain age ever experienced this? Please leave a comment and share!!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

My Top 5 Money Saving Tips

“A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.” Joe Moore

How true this is! Pretty obvious when you stop to think about it, but sometimes wisdom comes from being smacked in the head by the reality of a situation rather than the obvious. Which brings me to today’s subject. I’d like to share with you my top 5 favorite ways to save money. Here we go…

1-Sell Some Stuff. If you’re anything like me, you have a house full of stuff you don’t use taking up space that would be better used if so much stuff wasn’t there! As I told you in my post about F.O.M.O., the fall yard sale is on the schedule. Gather up the stuff you’re no longer using and sell it. It gets the clutter out of your house and you’ll have a bit of pocket change to show for your trouble.

2-Pay yourself first. Put a line item in your budget to pay yourself. I love this idea because it’s just so simple. Budget for your emergency fund, put the money aside, and leave it. It’ll be there right when you need it most. Hubs has a job that offers a retirement plan he can contribute to, and it comes directly out of his paycheck, but mine does not. I’m still saving for retirement, though, by having a Roth IRA that is funded monthly. There’s a line item in the budget for that, too. Put that money aside and let it grow!

3-Look for recurring charges. Review your expenses for recurring charges for items you’re no longer using. Stopped going to the gym? Stop paying for it! Have subscriptions for magazines you’re no longer reading? Cancel them! I had a spa membership that was ridiculously expensive and, odd as this sounds, was starting to turn into a chore to keep up. It’s gone and I don’t miss it. Don’t pay for things you’re not using. You’ll be surprised to see how much extra money you’ll have. Just don’t spend it buying more STUFF!

4-Make and stick to a list. When grocery shopping, make a list. More importantly, STICK TO YOUR LIST!! Grocery stores are the BEST at marketing to people as they stroll the aisles. “Off the list here”, and “off the list there” adds up very quickly. Stick to your list and you’ll be fine. Another sure fire way to not impulse buy is to use a grocery pick up service if your store offers it. Shop online and pick up your order at the store. They bring it to your car so you never have to go into the store. What a WONDERFUL thing for parents with small children!! Sonny loves going to the store so I haven’t tried one of these services yet. I will be soon (much to his chagrin!) and I’ll report back when I do. Oh, one more thing…if you do go into the store, DON’T SHOP HUNGRY!!

5-Eat at home. When I was a child, eating out was a rare treat reserved for special occasions. The restaurant world has changed a bunch since those days, as have people’s eating habits. Some eat out daily for at least 1 meal. This was a HUGE one in my family-I’d get home after a long day and it was so much easier to fire up the iPad and order a pizza instead of fixing a meal. I had plenty of food in the house, but I just didn’t want to deal with cooking. I’m happy to say this is a bad habit I’ve managed to smash to bits. I’m sure the pizza guy misses us terribly but I cannot remember the last time I had a fully cooked meal delivered to my house. Aside from being better for your wallet, food you fix yourself is usually MUCH healthier, as you have full control over what goes in it. This includes lunch, too-pack a lunch instead of eating out and your budget,  and probably your waistline, will thank you!

I’ve shared my Top 5 money saving tips, what are some of yours? Please leave a comment and share your best money saving ideas.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Low Cost Pet Vaccinations

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

These are my 3 furbabies-Bear is the all white blue-eyed Husky. He’s Sonny’s dog-12 years old and thinks he’s still a puppy. Such a sweet boy! Emily is the brown Husky/German Shepherd mix. She’s 8 years old and she’s the sweetest baby ever. Then there’s Lucy-my 4 year old Bull Terrier. Suffice it to say she lives up to her breed name! She’s a real spitfire!! I never thought I’d have as many dogs as we do people in our house but here we are! As you can imagine, the vet bills can get pretty expensive if we rely on our vet to give them all their vaccinations. The Hubs and I recently spent a Sunday afternoon standing in line at our local animal control office for a vaccine clinic. It was quite an adventure…

The day of the clinic started VERY early, since I had a half marathon scheduled for that morning. Hubs was at the finish line passing out water to the runners (and slow poke walkers like me!) and it was a welcome sight to see him there! Since I was close to the last finisher Hubs was finished with his volunteer work shortly after I finished. My usual routine after a race is to have some lunch, take a shower, and take a WELL DESERVED NAP (well deserved in my mind, anyhow!). Well, Hubs caught wind of the upcoming shot clinic and he said I could sleep for an hour and then we had to get to animal control. Yeah, OK, whatEVER!!

I woke up from the nap, cranky as the day is long, and told Hubs I was ready to go. One of the animal dynamics in our house is that Lucy cannot be in the same room with the other 2 unless she’s in her crate. Sadly, our “children” do not get along very well and the fights have been messy, so we’ve found it easier to just keep them separated. Anyhow, it was time to take Bear & Emily to the shot clinic so we piled into the Jeep and drove to animal control. It was a HOT day and the line for the clinic was already well outside the door by the time we got there. In my sleep deprived cranky state I looked at the line, rolled my eyes, and briefly considered going back home. Nope-the dogs needed their shots so we got in line. It actually moved a lot quicker than I thought and in about 30 minutes I was filling out the paperwork and taking Bear & Emily to the vet who was volunteering his time to administer the vaccines. Each dog needed 3 vaccines and they cost $10 per vaccine. I would have easily paid double or triple that amount if I had taken them to their regular vet so, cranky as I was, it was time well spent.

Once we were done and got the 2 older furkids home, I looked at the clock and decided we still had time to load Lucy into the car and get her shots, too. We JUST barely made it back to animal control in time-Lucy was the last dog seen that day. The folks at animal control decided to move the line into the building so second time around it was MUCH cooler. Hubs stayed outside with Lucy since she doesn’t get along well with other dogs (not just ours!). I wondered how they would handle her since we made it clear she needed to be away from the other dogs. They closed her into the room by herself and were the same with her as they were with my other 2. I was so grateful, since I’m never sure how people are going to react to her when we warn them about her reactions to other dogs. Lucy got her shots and we were done.

I’m still amazed at how much money we saved by taking them to this shot clinic instead of to our regular vet. Looking back on my payment records, last year when we took them all to the vet for their shots the cost was close to $350 per dog. This year we paid $90 TOTAL for all 3 dogs. If you’re a pet owner, it would be well worth your while to find a low cost pet vaccine clinic in your area. Many animal shelters and pet charities offer these services at a greatly reduced cost, and some will even do a full exam including heartworm testing. Check to make sure the vaccines are being administered by a licensed veterinarian-in my state it’s the law but it might be different where you live. Doing a little homework to find an inexpensive alternative for your pet’s vaccines is time well spent!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Sources:

Planned Pethood of Georgia

The Rainy Day is Coming-are you ready?

“If saving money is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” William Shatner

Do you have an emergency fund? According to a report from the Federal Reserve, 40% of adults could not come up with $400 in cash if they needed it in an emergency. They could whip out a credit card to cover it, but then when the bill comes they don’t have the cash to cover that, either. The economy has picked up since the recession and employment is off the charts up, so why can’t more people cover this seemingly small expense if they needed to? It’s all a matter of priorities.

Amazon Prime Day was held recently. Many of the social media groups I belong to (mostly crafting groups) had questions, pictures, and such from people asking, what did you buy? What kind of bargains did you get? How many times has the UPS/USPS guy been to YOUR house today? I’m left wondering how many of these same people would go into an absolute PANIC if suddenly their water heater started leaking, or if one of their home appliances suddenly quit working, or if their car broke down. What then? I’m happy to say I didn’t buy a single thing during Amazon Prime Day. I’ll admit to being tempted by a couple of things, but I just couldn’t see the point of spending money on something just because it was ON SALE. The one item I had my eye on was not discounted, so it’s still sitting on my Wish List waiting for a sale or a good discount code. There once was a time where I would’ve shopped with abandon and probably TOTALLY regretted it later. I’m glad that time has passed.

Two of my financial “mentors”, Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard, both emphasize the importance of saving an emergency fund for situations such as a job loss or some other sudden occurrence that involves an unplanned expense. Paying down debt is also a priority both of them stress in their writing and their media appearances. The less debt you carry, the more cash you’ll have on hand to cover any emergency that might crop up. Saving money is not easy, especially if you don’t make a lot, but as I said earlier, it’s a matter of priorities. It CAN be done. The links above offer some strategies for saving an emergency fund. For your financial well being, don’t put it off!

I hope I haven’t been too harsh, but I can’t stress enough the importance of having a rainy day fund. If you have one, feel secure that you’re covered in case of a sudden expense. If you don’t, it’s time to get busy!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

A Family that Dives Together…

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Hector Urquhart

I married a dumpster diver. There-I said it. I’ve been telling The Hubs this for years but this is the first time I’ve ever made this proclamation publicly. When he still had his pick-up truck I never knew what he was going to come home with. Once he found an old guitar in someone’s trash. He couldn’t leave it there to be crushed by the trash truck so he picked it out and brought it home. We still have it. It only has 3 strings and no one in the house plays but that doesn’t matter. This guitar just HAD to have a new home so now it lives in mine.

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The true reason I’m making this public now is that, after almost 35 years of marriage, he’s turned ME into a dumpster diver. While I’m not going to dig through anyone’s trash cans I’m not opposed to bringing something useful home that someone else has left at the curb to be disposed of. Case in point: last week I was on an early evening walk. These walks happen more frequently these days as it’s a wee bit cooler here in North GA at 7pm than it is at 5pm, which is when I usually walk right after work. In the interest of getting it done more quickly, I’ll usually walk in a neighboring subdivision rather than get in the car and drive to one of our nearby AWESOME parks, as the drive takes a little bit of time. Anyhow, during last week’s walk I came upon a home with a “For Sale” sign out front. Also out front was a kettle grill that appeared to be in pretty good shape. It also had a hand written sign attached that said, “FREE!” I called The Hubs to tell him about it, but, alas, got voice mail. I was afraid it wouldn’t still be there by the time I got home walking at my somewhat leisurely pace so I stepped it up a bit and high-tailed it home. As it turns out The Hubs was in the basement when my call came and he didn’t hear the phone (note to self-time to put a phone in the basement!). He couldn’t imagine why I would want someone’s old kettle grill since we already have a gas grill AND a Big Green Egg. I don’t want it to USE, I want it to SELL!! We no longer have a truck and it wouldn’t fit in the Jeep, so he wondered how we were going to get it home. “In the back of my car,” I said. Once he got over the shock of me putting something dirty and dusty in my car, he agreed to go with me to see if it was still there. It WAS! We brought a giant trash bag to put any trash in (turns out there was still a good bit of unburned charcoal in it) and a tarp to put it on. We put the seats down in my car, loaded it up, and brought it home. On closer inspection we found that the mechanism that allows for air flow adjustment is rusted stuck but a little penetrating oil should do the trick in getting it working again. Next yard sale this lovely will be front and center to be sold. Cha-CHING!!

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Now, before you think I’ve completely lost my mind, I’m not getting into the habit of going through people’s trash to find things to use or to sell. However, if something looks to be in pretty good shape and someone is just throwing it away, I’m not opposed to bringing it home to either use if I have a use for it, or to sell to make a little bit of pocket money. The Hubs thinks he’s created a monster-he might be right!

So tell me-have you ever taken something someone has left at the curb home with you? Be honest!! Leave a comment and we can celebrate our thriftiness together!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…