Posts Tagged ‘Creative Solutions’
I guess I will have more time to do maternity photos and set up Zippy’s nursery after all. Our midwife was still reluctant to guess when Baby was going to make her appearance, but doesn’t think Zippy will be early. In fact, our next appointment is in two weeks, on her due date!
I realized I never update about the crib. There were more cosmetic defects to the crib than we originally noticed, but I’m trying not to let that bother me. (It’s hard, I’m a perfectionist.) It looks really nice overall, and is sturdy. It’s safe and that’s the most important thing. It took us five hours – spread out over the weekend – to get it together. I just didn’t have much energy, and moving around to get to all the screws wore me out. Putting together a crib at over 37 weeks pregnant was probably not the smartest idea I’ve ever had!
After we finished the assembly, I decided we needed to buy outlet covers before Zippy arrives. Sounds crazy, I know, but the crib is right near the back wall and the mattress will literally be 2 inches for a 6 plug outlet, even at the highest setting! Not good. While Zippy isn’t going to have the manual dexterity to roll over and stick her little hand through the bars yet, I don’t want to wake up one morning and learn she’s discovered a new trick. Baby could learn to roll over by four months, and flailing arms and fingers could reach the outlet. Since we don’t have the mattress yet, I have easy access to the outlet anyway. I’m also thinking about it now, whereas in six months I could forget the outlet’s there. I decided to just cover it and easy my mind.
See how close it is?! Crazy! I think the previous owner had the outlet installed so high (and with so many plugs) so the room could be a media center of some sort. There’s also a cable and Ethernet port near by, and a bookshelf/DVD shelf installed in the closet. Right now we have a lamp plugged into the outlet, which we’ll move, so we can finish covering all the plugs.
By the way, need a place to store extra outlet covers? Try a travel soap case!
What we didn’t end up doing last weekend was purchasing was the crib mattress. I need to check my coupons more often, because my 20% off coupon isn’t valid until tomorrow! Given the price of mattresses, that’s a pretty substantial savings. So now it’s on the agenda for this weekend. Apparently we still have lots of time.
I consider myself pretty handy, but we’re not always the fastest when it comes to home repairs. I have a list of things I’d like to tweak around the house, but finding the time to get around to them is always hard. We had two leaks (that we know about) that we’ve been avoiding for over a year: the master bathroom sink, and the master bathroom toilet. I know what you’re thinking, that’s so bad for the environment. Actually, the leaks were both very slow. Our water bill shows our usage compared to households of similar size and we use significantly less water, leaks and all. So I never sweated it.
A few days ago I noticed the small leak in the toilet had turned into a constant flow. Not good! It was time to finally fix the problem. Trouble was we couldn’t figure out the location of the leak. Everything seemed fine. The tank filled, the water in the bowl looked undisturbed, there were no puddles. The most likely suspect was the flapper, but there were none of the typical signs of flapper leaks. No air bubbles rising up from the flapper, or water dripping down into the bowl. If I couldn’t hear the water running, I wouldn’t believe the leak existed. Since we couldn’t figure out what the problem was, we were left with no other choice but to turn shut the water off and call a plumber. Or so we thought.
That’s when my dad suggested food coloring. A couple drops in the tank and we could see where the water was flowing. It certainly looked like the dye was pooling around the flapper. That’s when I noticed the green dye wasn’t running down the sides of the bowel, but coming out the siphon jet! Yes, the toilet was leaking at the bottom of the bowl! No air was being displaced, hence no air bubbles. No water was running down the sides of the bowl, so no water displacement in the bowl. What a sneaky flapper leak.
Domingo went to the hardware store and picked up a $5 flapper. He installed it, but now we had a new problem – the chain was too long for the toilet to flush. No problem, I got out my jewelry tools and shortened about 8 links.
So there you have it, jeweler’s pliers, food coloring and a $5 flapper saved us a call to a plumber.
I usually go over our budget every couple of months to see how we’re doing, but I’ve been particularly attentive to it lately. Adding a new person to the family will bring a set of costs, especially since we’ll need day care even though I’m not ‘employed’.
The easiest thing to cut is the entertainment section of the budget. It may be tempting to cut it down to zero, but I don’t think that works very well. Going on a crash budget is a lot like going on a crash diet. Sure you can do it for short periods of time, but could you live without any sweets for the rest of your life? If you’re like most people, eventually you fall of the wagon and binge. And bingeing can be far worse for you than little indulgences here and there. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do for free (or near free) to satisfy your entertainment sweet tooth.
There is a semi recent survey on experiences making us happier than possessions. The happiness of experiences comes in preparing for and planning the experience, the actual event, and reminiscing afterwards. Happiness in terms of possessions is usually tied to the act acquiring Over time possessions tend to lose their appeal. What was once shinny and new loses a little bit of its luster when seen every day. So rather than splurge on a shopping trip, save up for a fun activity. It’s all about creating memories. Planning a trip to the zoo, museum, or hiking can be relatively inexpensive, and when it’s with someone you love, all the better! Make sure to bring your student ID for possible entry discounts.
You can extend the fun of activities by keep mementos, photographs or scrap booking. I love going back over old photos. I often make flash slide shows out of our vacations and enjoy watching them over and over. (Flash builder is free for students). Scrap booking can be expensive if you’re into all the page embellishments, but you can also use graphic software to organize photo layouts on a page and print sans add-ons. (Edited 5/14 to add: I recently discovered Windows distributes a free program called Movie Maker, which you can use to turn your photos into slide show movies! It’s much easier than flash if you’re not computer savvy, and best of all – free!)
We also started picking up redbox movies on the weekend. For just a dollar (+tax) we have an inexpensive date night at home, whereas our local movie theater is $12.50 for a non matinee, non 3-D adult ticket. There are a few movies that I was happy to watch at $1.30 and would have been disappointed had I spent $25 on. Still, I don’t think redbox will completely replace going to the movie theaters for us – some movies you just want to experience on the big screen in surround sound – but it is a nice alternative.
Once the baby comes, we might switch to Amazon Instant Video or Netflix Streaming, so we have the convenience of not driving to our local red box location. The drawback to both these services, however, is we don’t have a device capable of playing the movies on the TV, so there would be a startup cost in addition to the higher per movie cost. We also still have our old fashioned rear projection TV, and the more we watch at home the more we’ll feel the pressure to upgrade it.
For anyone who enjoys photography on the go, the “go bag” is essential.
Okay, so this bag isn’t actually designed for photography. It’s a small knit purse. Don’t let that fool you. By bringing this bag with me I have a spare lens easily at my finger tips. The purse fits my largest lens (55-200mm kit lens), if but just barely, a spare battery, memory card and a shower cap. It’s small enough that I can bring it into most museums and sporting events without anyone fusing over it and light enough that it’s not bothersome for long hikes.
The “go bag” also folds up small, and fits inside my full-sized camera bag. Now when we go on travel, I bring my regular camera bag with all my favorite lenses. I then pick what lenses I want for the day, pack up my “go bag” and leave the camera bag locked up in the hotel room safe.
Oh sure, it would be nice to have all my lenses with me at all time. Large camera bags can be heavy. And be honest, how often do you need more than a few lenses, anyway? I mean really need them.
I got this idea while we were honeymooning in Greece. We were visiting Olympia during a tour of the Peloponnese. The historical site had recently had some vandalism, so they were no longer allowing large purses or camera bags. Like most DSLR users, my camera bag is large. Our tour guide warned us that I would not be able to bring it in to the stadium, and there was a short supply of lockers. They had a designated space for oversized bags when the lockers were full, but it was out in the sun and exposed. I was worried about my equipment.
The night before we were to go to Olympia, Domingo and I went looking for a smaller bag that could hold a minimalist set of camera equipment and wouldn’t upset security. The “go bag” worked out so perfectly, I used it for the rest of our tour. The rest, as they say, is history.
We’ve all been there. We’re out with our camera, enjoying the day, and it starts to drizzle. What to do? You don’t want to ruin your camera, but you’re also not done yet, and it’s only a drizzle. You could invest in an expensive waterproof casing for your camera, but that adds one more bulky item you need to carry around. Enter the shower cap.
It’s a great camera protector in a pinch. Just wrap it around the top of the camera, and use a rubber band to hold it on the lens. Most hotel rooms offer them complementary, in nice wrapped packages that fit nicely into camera bags. I take two with me when I go out, one for my camera bag to protect the equipment inside and one for my camera.
Don’t rely on the shower cap in a downpour. After-all, it’s not providing 360 degrees of protection, or creating a water tight seal. Rain can still get in from underneath in heavy winds, or if you’re not pinching the sides tightly. But if it’s a light rain, or just a drizzle, the shower cap should do the trick.
I used it when we were in Hawaii. We were out whale watching when it started to drizzle. The other tourists sought shelter, but I stayed out and captured this.
(I can’t take credit for this idea. Someone told it to me, who learned it from a professional photographer.)