NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds — on and off the page.”

I used to be pretty good at writing regularly.

Then I got this crazy idea to work on a PhD and my “for fun” writing went out the window. I got to the point where I despised having to write. I never finished my dissertation. Yep, I am ABD (all but dissertation). One of the few things I put my mind to but failed. All was not lost. In the process I learned how to research and GREATLY improved my writing skills.

I have so many ideas in my head that I want to write about, but have struggled to get started.

I am probably not going to write a novel this month…

But my goal is to write a blog post every day in November. Hopefully that will kick-start me back into writing regularly. Although I am not using NaNoWriMo to do the writing, I love the organization and spirit behind it!

Go check them out…maybe you can write a novel this month!


Contracted Datana

I went out to the front one evening to look at the clouds as a storm as blowing in.  As I was walking back up the path to front door, I could hear this weird crunching noise, like something chewing.  I walked over to one of our two trees in the yard and noticed that 2 big branches were just skeletons!  The leaves were all gone!

I ran in and got Wade so he could take a look and grabbed my iPad to look up what they were. They are Contracted Datana and apparently they just eat until they are finished and then move on to another tree. There was no suggestion on what to do, so Wade cut the branches that contained the worms (they were in giant clusters!), and we put them in a bucket of scalding water with a drop of dish soap (to remove the surface tension). They all drowned.

A month later and they still have not returned.


About 2 years ago we decided to do away with AT&T Uverse (and just kept the internet). We replaced our land line with Vonage, which is VoIP. Having a newer house, all of the phone lines are actually cat 5 cabling. (Funny thing when we moved in…I complained that we did not have any traditional phone wiring. Duh.)

Since Vonage is done through the mail, I hooked it up like it said in the directions. I just plugged it into my router. Well…that limits the phone to 1 line. We have those expandable phones where only the base has to be plugged in, but we only have 3 additional ones and we have more placed we like to have a phone.

Not sure why now that I am typing this because in all reality, we use our cell phones for everything. But anyway…

About a year ago we had to have AT&T out for something and the guy was REALLY nice and told me how to hook up the Vonage box so i worked throughout the whole house. Another duh moment for me. I could have figured it out had I thought about it.

Basically you take the Vonage box, and hook it directly into the cable box for the house. After 2 years, I know have a working phone next to my bed again. 🙂

The BEST Shower Cleaner in the WORLD!

Yes, I am that excited about this, that I used caps!

I hate cleaning the shower.  I always have.  We went with a solid marble shower when we built the house in hopes that would be easier to clean.  It is.  But I still hate doing it!  My cleaning routine is as follows:

  • Mold builds up in the caulk lines
  • The floor turns a weird orange color
  • Time to clean
  • Spray the caulk with the strongest mold and mildew cleaner
  • Sprinkle with Comet, let it sit for an hour
  • Scrub off the chunks (or until my elbows fall off)
  • Forget the soap scum on the walls, it is white like the marble

I know…it is gross.  Just keeping it real.

Pinterest is FILLED with cleaning “miracles” most of which I am skeptical about.  I made the laundry detergent which I have been really happy with.  The few other things I have tried…not so happy with.  When I stumbled across this shower cleaner and people swore up and down that it worked, well I had to try it out myself.

The main ingredients are extra strength vinegar (pickling vinegar), dawn dish soap and a spray bottle.  The vinegar is what does the trick.  The dish soap just adds thickness to it.  Some suggested using cornstarch or flour to thicken it up…I tried it and it does not work as well.  Stick with the Dawn.

Heat up the vinegar until it is almost boiling (about 4 minutes in my microwave for 3 cups). CAUTION: The smell is STRONG! Don’t inhale it or you will burn your nose/lungs! Mix in about 2T of dawn, or just enough to thicken it up. Put it in the spray bottle and spray on the shower. I let it sit for about 15 minutes.


It worked!

The 1 inch thick layer of soap scum wiped off fairly easily! I was so giddy with excitement, I got out the scrub brush and with a few strokes, the shower was clean! This picture does not do it justice. (And since I did not believe it would really work I did not take a before picture.)  You can see the window reflection on the wall and the water drops.  That WAS a layer of soap scum!

*This will not do anything about the mold and mildew though.  I guess I will have to keep bleach on hand for that.

The Shoe Basket

Since my family is from the north, I grew up taking off my shoes when I entered the house.  You wouldn’t want to track in snow and mud!  But I have lived in Texas my WHOLE life, so the snow is not really an issue.  Taking off your shoes when you enter the house is just a habit (unless you are Wade and then you don’t understand the point).  Either way, taking off your shoes helps keep the floors clean.

We have always had 2 wicker baskets behind the couch right by the door.  The get filled with dirt, sand and dog hair, not to mention we usually have a pile of shoes outside of the baskets.  In an effort to make it look at tad bit nicer, I cut pieces for a shoe cabinet at the same time as the laundry room cabinets.  These I decided needed a door though to hide the innards.

I had some scrap beadboard (wainscoting) left over from the girls desks that I decided to use on the inset of the door. I have never built frames or cabinets before so this was an experiment for me. I set up the table saw and made a small 1″ line through the frame pieces to insert the beadboard.

I had to make 2 passes to get the track wide enough to fit the beadboard. Then I assembled the frame around it. Not too bad for my first time!

For this project I opted to paint it before assembling it (since I did already have the pieces cut).  I used a metallic oil based paint that I just love!  I could have added 3 tracks and put in another basket…but that would mean more shoes would get put in here instead of the closets.

We now have a nice place to hide our shoes!  (These are iPhone pics, so they are a bit grainy…just trying to get caught up on blog posts.)