Tag Archives: House and Garden

Miscellaneous Stuff, I Guess.

Miscellaneous Stuff, I Guess.

I really wish I were better at long-term planning. A lot of the yard work I have to do could have been done in the fall or in Spring, instead of staring me in the face now shouting the accusation, “You have the sloppiest yard in the neighborhood! Everyone with nice yards hates what you’re doing to property values!!!” No matter how long I’ve worked at silencing the inner guilt-inspiring voices, some of them still come back to haunt me!

The fish pond is low on water, so it’s the perfect time to vacuum it out and cull some of the brown shubunkins and retrieve things that fell to the bottom before refilling it – and this should be done before the marginal plants die of thirst, too.

My duct tape double is mostly stuffed, and it wouldn’t take more than a few hours to finish it, secure all the tape ends, and make a cover so I can start sewing clothes for myself that fit right. I have a pile of t-shirts that are all ready to remake creatively, but since I haven’t had the time, I hit Target and restocked on new ones.

I’ll need to run the vacuum around the house before the Smart Carpet salesman comes tomorrow, too. We’re going with the least hassle option – carpet – because it’s the thing they’re least likely to mess up installing. They said that they wouldn’t charge for new installation, but we’d have to pay for an upgrade. The thought of these guys fouling up on the installation of an even more expensive floor was too much to bear. Nobody seems to want to tell us if we’ll get any kind of credit for a less expensive floor (since carpet is generally less than laminate) but if they say no, we’re going to get the best carpet and pad they’ve got. I’ve been researching, and I’d like to get PET or PTT polyester. They’re not as plush or long-wearing as nylon brands like Stainmaster, according to the experts. However, I’ve had Stainmaster, and not only was I not terribly impressed by how well it stood up to wear, I also had a terrible problem cleaning it. Yes, the stains come out, but so does the dye. One of the reasons it’s popular is the variety of colors it comes in, but because it’s easy to dye, it’s also easy for the dye to be sucked out. I can get almost any stain out eventually, but I’m not interested in making up a matching dye so it’s handy to re-color the stupid spots. The PET and PTT polyesters are also made from recycled plastics, so I like that, too. So we shall see tomorrow.

I’ve also really been wanting to finish up my polymer clay color samples and refine my clay/fabric decoupage technique, but the art studio has been acting like a garage lately. Not only do we have the stuff that needs to be kept until we sort it and arrange it logically after we finish the walls and wiring, but we had to put litter boxes in because of Spencer’s poor hygiene habits, and all the stuff from the living room/office and bedroom had to go somewhere while the floor guys were futzing around.

I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing, though. (Well, I do, but mostly after I’m tired from NOT sitting around doing nothing all day long!) Audrey and I rode to the bike store and got baskets put on our bikes, and rode to the supermarket for a two-bike-basket-size trip. I’ve been back and forth to the pool store trying to get the sludge out of the water (I love what happens when the water pipes get cleaned in this town!) I created more yard waste by trimming a big tree out front and pulling up the junk from underneath, and have been planting and moving things. I’ve been in the car to visit a friend for a day, take the kids to the dentist up north, take them to art classes in Red Bank at Colorest, then back to drop off the art I forgot to bring for the show, then up again for the show itself, to Monmouth Feed for pond supplies, doing laundry and hanging it to dry, teaching Audrey how to do applique on one of the items we picked up when we went thrift-store shopping. . .and I did clean up a lot in the garage so I could get to my clay (that took an entire day, in between hanging up laundry!)

I think that we’re going to haul one vanload of brush over to the recycling center, then I’ll take care of the fish, and then I’ll spend the day being an artist. I see a couple of cool showers in my future. . .

Smart Carpet on Notice. . .

Smart Carpet on Notice. . .

Not quite 10 months ago, I was so excited to have new floors. It was about January I started to notice the dark lines between the flooring panels. I went to a local floor place to see whether there was a product that would safely fill the gaps in my laminate floor, and was given more of an education in flooring than Smart Carpet had offered. Apparently, those gaps shouldn’t exist at all. Nor should I hear cracking noises as I walked across it. Plus, I should have been given a whole lot more paperwork with warranties and instructions, like at least more than the absolutely none at all that were provided by Smart Carpet.

The store owner suggested that I should contact Smart Carpet directly, since this was clearly not the way the floor was supposed to look or act, in his experience. So I did, and this has led to several months of appointments and visits and reports. We went from being told that this was normal when a floor was installed on concrete, that it would be fine again when the weather warmed up (Somehow warmth expels dirt from cracks?) to Smart Carpet saying it was a manufacturing defect, to the manufacturer saying it was an installation defect, and finally to Smart Carpet saying that they would come in, pull up the floor, clean up the edges, and reinstall the floor – correcting the gaps as they went.

I kind of knew something bad was coming when the replacement flooring was dropped off on Monday (to acclimate it to the environment in the house) and there were only 6 boxes and one small roll of underlayment. I knew for darn sure that there was too much wrong with the floor for this to be the solution, and sure enough, when the installers started working, I could see that I was supposed to be placated by a token gesture.

There was quite a bit of animated conversation going on in Portuguese. Nice way to make sure you can talk freely in front of the customer. They showed me how much tighter the joints were on the new planks, which was certainly not helpful because there weren’t enough of them. I pointed out that the edges on the new planks were jagged and still had gaps that would undoubtedly widen from friction as the floor was walked on. One of them left the house, made a call (in Portuguese) and then told me his supervisor would be calling. We waited for a while. He called again, then spoke to his partner, and they began reinstalling the old planks. I asked him what was going on, and he said his supervisor would call me in an hour. Then they left.

I wasn’t keeping track of the time, but the man who called me was not the one I knew as their supervisor. He had it all figured out.

I had ruined the floor myself by exposing it to moisture.


He cited the fact that a couple of spots were noted on one report as moisture damage. I told him that those were specific spots where I had told the various inspectors that I had spilled water, which was then immediately wiped up but still caused damage. He said that I had used a swiffer to clean the floor, so that must have done it. I asked him why, then, was the floor just as damaged in the areas that were covered with carpet and furniture? He just reiterated that I should have used an approved laminate cleaner, so I asked him how that would be applied? Well, a spray bottle, for spot cleaning only, with an approved solution, which I should then wipe up with a dry cloth. I asked him how this liquid would not get into the cracks, but wetjet laminate floor solution wouldn’t. I asked him why, if the salesman had told me this was an easy-care floor, I should be on my hands and knees with a spray bottle and a cloth to clean it. This went on – he continued to insist that I had damaged my entire floor, in two rooms, in a matter of months, by saturating it from above. Forget that the joints were gapped and uneven with no evidence of moisture damage, forget that the salesman said it would lock tight and could be washed with the swiffer, forget that the floor makes cracking noise when you walk on it, forget that you can see tiny chips on many of the edges of the laminate, forget that there’s glue gobs all over the transition pieces. Forget all that. The floor would have stayed pristine forever if only I’d never sprayed it down with the garden hose – I told him that in order for the floor to have the conditions he was describing, that’s what I would have had to do.

So now he has “tried” to get in contact with “someone” who can “address” this “problem”, but he’s “been in meetings all day.” That’s OK, I’m trying to get in contact with someone who can address the problem, too. Like, a lawyer. We’ll see who can address the problem faster.



OK, I’ve been really busy lately, not so interested in posting after I’m done with this – just reading and responding to other blogs, wouldn’t ya know. . . but I’m going to show you a couple of things I’ve been using that I think are marvelous.

I’ve been doing some sewing, but my sewing room is also for mending and such, so sometimes I end up not interested in sewing by the time I’ve made room for it. One of the time-consuming things is a few of hubby’s shirts. (BTW, when they tell you a high cotton count shirt is “wrinkle free”, they’re lying.) I don’t mind doing them, I put on the TV and zone out, but it just takes hours to do all of them – and I forget to iron until I have all of them. So when I got an e-mail from Atlanta Thread with a discount coupon, I splurged on a couple of things.


This is a Reliable Home Ironing Board. It’s heavy and sturdy, doesn’t rock around like your average board, AND it has a heating element and a fan that will blow upwards or downwards to help move steam and heat through the fabric. The foot pedal turns the fan on and controls the speed, and not only does it help in getting the wrinkles out (and not putting new ones in) but it also keeps things in place that might otherwise slip off the board. Only bad thing is that it’s way more powerful than my Iron now, so I might have to upgrade that, too. Heh.


I also got this massive sleeve/pants board. I can finally do the cuffs and the pleats above the cuffs. I do sleeves first, then the rest of the shirt, because the shirt gets kind of twisty while I’m ironing the sleeves.


Now, normally I’m not a big fan of Sylvania lightbulbs, but this one is great. It’s a full-spectrum halogen for sewing and crafting that fits in a regular fixture. Is it as good as an Ott Light? No, but it’s darn close and a heck of a lot cheaper. I have my Ott bulb on the right and this on the left, and I can see everything as I sew.

I haven’t spent all my time indoors, though. We had a lovely weekend, and I got started cleaning up. I prefer to take care of the leaves in the Spring. In Fall, they’re everywhere, and they keep dropping after you think they’re done (or blowing in from other places), and you always feel the pressure to drop everything and work if it’s nice, because it won’t stay nice out for long. The heck with that. Before Winter, all the leaves have blown off into piles, and I can bag the ones that might damage plants by staying there and leave the rest as protective mulch. In Spring, they get blown into even more compact piles, and each nice day will be followed by more nice days, so the pressure’s off. Since I started the Spring Leaf Cleanup this weekend, I became reacquainted with a couple of my favorite tools:


This is one of those rakes that can be made wider or narrower by sliding a rod attached to the tines. (It has a telescoping handle, too, so it takes up less storage space.) It’s great for getting under and in between and behind – less time crawling around on my knees to clean out tight spots! This is one of the cheap ones from Rite Aid or Cost Cutters or wherever I got it, and I’ve been using it for several years without trouble.


This was here when we moved in. We had no idea what it was, but for some reason, we didn’t throw it away. Now I’m glad we kept it:


We’ve tried all kinds of leaf bag holders – wire frames, boxes, tape holding them to fences, the daughters, but none of them has worked as well as this. I dump in rakefuls of stuff, I can smash it down to fit more, and nothing pierces the bag. When it’s full, I grab it by the little handle cutouts and slide it right out. Yowza! Oh, and I’m not being all irresponsible with these bags – the handles are tied in bows so I can take them to the town recycling center, untie and dump them, and then use them again. They’ll collect them at the curb, but it’s so stupid. They don’t want them in paper bags, which would speed up collection and would decompose in the giant town mulch pile, oh, no. They want them in plastic – and when they collect, the guys rip the bags open, dump the leaves in the truck, and leave the empty, torn plastic bags on the street. It’s a pain to take them in myself, but less so than cleaning up the mess the leaf pickup leaves behind.

So there you go. Merchandise that gets my seal of approval. Buy with confidence. Heh.