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Heather says

Does anyone remember the movie The Money Pit? I now watch this with a knowing chuckle.

Many of you know that I moved into what I refer to as the “fixer-upper” back in October. As there are some truly awful people out on the interwebz I was not very open about the exact state of the house that I moved into, other than the sharing the fact that it was pretty rough. Some of you out there know what home renovations are like and still others know what it’s like to live in a home being renovated. The word frustrating and disheartening comes to mind.

The bathroom floor had water damage that had caused the flooring to badly warp and there was a hole into the crawlspace. On the advice of my exterminator -if you are local I will share his name- I made a temporary, amateur repair to the main bathroom floor. Let’s call it effective, but hideous. It looked like I had a tumour of expanding foam growing where the tub met the floor. Nothing was coming in or out, nothing, but still I had nightmares that I would step out of the shower and fall into the crawlspace.

But it was all okay, it would just be a month or two and I would be able to repair it, no big deal?

I knew that a roof would be needed within five years and I had factored that into my decision to go ahead with the move.  For a reason neither I nor the company I hired to do the work understands, my insurance company decided the roof needed to be replaced before I could insure the place. (The contractor was more than happy to install the new roof, but it was not the critical need the insurance said.) The bathroom remodel was delayed.

Significantly.

Time moves slowly in the interim between hiring a contractor and the day he shows up. I had been spoiled by the roofing experience, I got the estimate and work started the next week.

I am currently in the middle of heavy travel season with my day job, so of course the contractor was only able to begin work while I was on the road.

I have a garage freezer that I have slowly been stocking  with meat as it goes on sale and vegetables. I have fallen in love with the frozen bags of onions and bell peppers, they make my life easier, yes the foreshadowing is a bit heavy handed.  You see where this is going. . .

The workmen tripped a breaker on a little used outlet.

The one the freezer is on.

Home Ec 101 to the rescue.

I wrote a post about this years ago: The Freezer Was Left Open, Now What

I spent Saturday minimizing damage and thankfully, most of the  meat in the bottom of the upright freezer was still frozen solid. If you ever have to freeze a lot of food, this tutorial may come in handy.

And despite all of the frustration, today I have five gallons of chicken gumbo in my freezer and more importantly, by close of business today, I will have a fully functional bathroom. I still have to paint, but I don’t think anything will be more satisfying than the jig I did to test the solidity of the floor.

Has Home Ec 101 ever saved your day?

Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day

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Dear Home Ec 101,

I have an 8 am Philosphy class, but I find that a cup of coffee and the crust from last night’s pizza is never enough to power me through my demanding 12 credit minimum. Do you have any no-effort suggestions, Taster’s Choice is pretty taxing already.

Signed,

Anemic in Akron

Heather says:

Scientists agree skipping breakfast is the fast-track to bad health, but who has that kind of time?

Well, you’re in luck the fine folks at Hot Pockets® have solved your breakfasty dilemma. Here’s a handy tutorial, just for busy people like you.

Read the box and note, it must be nutritious, it has real cheese.

Open BoxOpen the box.

Remove the wrapped breakfast pastry.

Open and remove the protective barrier

Place the pastry in the handy cooking sleeve / carrying case.

Microwave for two minutes on high.

Admire your handiwork.

Serve with appropriate garnish and sides.

Enjoy the rest of your April Fool’s Day.

Friday Free-for-All

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Heather says

I had a couple of questions come in this week that I didn’t post.

1. I have a loveseat that got wet how do I fix it?

I wrote back and found out that it isn’t leather, it’s sort of cloth, but I never got a definitive answer on how wet. Without being able to give her a full answer on her question, I don’t feel right dedicating a whole post to it.

If a piece of upholstered furniture has been damaged in a flood, it’s almost certainly a total loss, unless the water has been extracted exceptionally quickly. Even then the furniture would need to be completely disassembled and dried in pieces. It’s not really a DIY project I recommend a furniture repair service may be able to tell you if it’s worth saving the piece or calling it a loss.

If it was just barely damp, steam cleaning is probably a good idea, if the fabric can tolerate it and keep it in a room where there is a lot of ventilation. Mold and mildew like damp, still places to spread their spores. I’m not guaranteeing the piece will be okay, but if it can dry out quickly there’s a chance to save it before mold sets in.

2. I got paint on the counter, how do I get it off?

I responded what kind of paint and what kind of counter top? No response.

If it is acrylic or latex paint on a laminate counter, scrape off what you can and then use Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Any other combination is probably going to need a case specific answer. I’ll eventually write up a thorough run down, but this week is not that week.

What else?

I’m headed to Atlanta today, where I’ll be giving a talk at WordCamp on List Building Plugins. If you aren’t running a website on WordPress, just know it’s geeky stuff. I’m excited as this is the first time I’ll be talking speaking about something not Laura related. I do plan on speaking about domestic violence in the future, but I’m just not in a place where I can.

If you’re on Instagram, you’ll see too many food pics and lego minifig adventures.

Silliness indeed.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been working on revamping the archives with some help from Heather (Clift, I am not referring to myself in 3rd person) and Jendi.

I’m excited about this page -still a work in progress as there are many more budget-friendly recipes on this site to dig out and add, but we’re at 30 and that is a good start.

Budget recipes

 

And don’t worry it’s not just beans and rice.

Random

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to reach people who feel they are hopeless in the kitchen. I didn’t learn to cook at home. In fact, when I was 17 I was a nanny for a lovely couple with a newborn. I remember they asked me to make dinner just once. Why? Because I had no clue what I was doing and it was terrible. They were both working full time and realized it would be an uphill journey for everyone. I was so naive I didn’t even realize I should be embarrassed.

So don’t worry, if you’re embarrassing yourself in the kitchen, there’s hope. I promise.

Have a great weekend.

Menu Monday 29

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Menu Plan Monday

Heather says

Ah, Spring  when a young man’s fancy when Heather’s schedule explodes and she wonders if cloning technology could please step things up a bit.

This week I’ll be headed to Atlanta, I’m speaking at WordCamp and I’ll be helping out in the Happiness Bar (think Apple Store version  not martini) at least for the hour(s) I’m assigned and more likely as long as they’ll let me be useful. It’s my time speaking on a topic not grief related since everything fell apart and I’m so glad to feel like I’m hitting my stride once again.

That said over the next few weeks expect a few gaps in the menu plans.

How did last week work out? Did you stick to your plan or fall off the wagon. I didn’t stick to the plan, but we didn’t resort to the drive through, so I’ll call it a sorta success.

What are you looking forward to making? Are you trying anything new?

Monday – L/O Chicken Gumbo over rice 

Easily Make Gluten-FrAee Chicken Gumbo

Tuesday – Buffalo Chicken Tacos and Salads

Wednesday – Meatloaf,  Macaroni, Collard Greens

Easy Recipe and Technique for Making Meatloaf

 

Macaroni and Cheese - Stove Top

 

Thursday – CORN – Clean Out Refrigerator Night

This probably means I’ll be making breakfast skillets or maybe Mustgo Soup, either way, if it’s leftover it needs to get used up so it won’t need to get thrown out when I get back on Monday.

Those of you who read this far? I have a little treat for you.

A meal planning printable / shopping list creator. I find it easier to create the shopping list as I plan. Let me know what you think.

There’s A[n Unwelcome] Party In My Plants

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

I have a dilemma in that I looked up the tiny flies that are strolling around my plant soil. I found that they are called fungus flies and live on the decaying soil matter. I’ve sprayed the soil with Home Defense both bug spray and soapy water (nope), put a dish of apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish washing liquid in it to bait them (nope), and most recently, put coarse sand on top of the soil so the “babies that hatch” can’t crawl up and out and die (yech). Needless to say, they are no longer visible on that plant but the fliers have moved on to my other plants. I will never buy that type of soil again (with small wood chips or something) because I’ve never seen this before.

Is there any other way to rid myself of these without buying enough sand to put on all of my plants? They don’t damage the plants (I’m told), but I can’t stand bugs.

Signed,
There’s a Party in My Plants and They Won’t Go Home

Heather says

Fungus gnats, fruit flies, and drain flies are all pretty annoying, but mostly harmless pests. I say mostly because they are aggravating as all get out.

ThanksbutnothanksCider traps don’t work for fungus gnats like they do for fruit flies because fungus gnats don’t eat rotting plant material, they eat what grows on the material. Fungus gnats smell cider and say, “Sorry, I’m just not that into you.” Okay, maybe not literally, but close enough for our purposes.

The solution for getting rid of the fungus gnats has three parts; the most important being perseverance. Due to the life cycle of the flies, it’s going to take weeks to get rid of the little  buggers (ha ha) once and for all.

How to get rid of fungus flies naturally

Dry out the fungus the gnats feed on.

First, you’ll need to ensure that the top two inches of soil are as dry as your plants can tolerate.  Those two inches will need to stay dry for as long as they will tolerate. If possible, practice what is called bottom watering.

To start bottom watering, you’ll need to set the plant’s pot in a container of water. Ensure that the water level in the container does not rise above the top two inches of soil. Let your plant hang out in the container until you begin to feel moisture along the wall of the container in the top two inches.  You’ll want to avoid setting the wet pot on a surface that can be damaged by water until the container itself is dry.

Allowing the top two inches of the soil to dry will reduce the amount of food supply the larva have available.

Capture the breeding adults.

Gnat StixUnlike immature humans, fungus flies can’t breed until they are fully grown. This handy evolutionary trait allows you to implement step two – hopefully before the procreation happens.

Find sticky traps like these Gnat Stix. You should be able to find them in the garden section of most big box stores or your local nursery. You may want to give them a call first to make sure, though. You’ll want to place at least one sticky trap in each of your plant’s container. Replace the traps when the stickiness wears out or you can’t stand looking at the little carcasses any longer.

Keep at it.

Here’s where the perseverance part comes into play. You’ll need to keep using both of these techniques for a few weeks after the fungus gnats first appear to be gone.

Why?

The next batch of eggs and larva are hanging out in the soil and are just waiting for you to water your plant from the top and ring the bell signaling dinner is ready at the fungal buffet.

Another option is to get a medium the gnats don’t want to hang out in and cover the soil in each plant, this is similar to the sand technique you mentioned but with a different material. I haven’t tried this technique so I can’t vouch for the effectiveness.

I hope this helps.  Thank you for writing in.

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Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com