New Year! New Variety Pack!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hey!  Happy New Year everybody!  I hope your holiday season was stellar!

Whooie, a whirlwind, amiright?  Yeah I'm pooped too.

But, nevertheless, no rest for the weary!

Let's start the year with a Variety Pack, shall we?  Considering the clean up and the catching up and work and the life stuff, sadly this is meagerly all I have to present to you.

But I promise there's some good stuff speckled in here that you can apply to your own home.  For reals!

It's January, right?  For me, as always, like clockwork, I dunno what it is, the raging urge to purge and clean crap out kicks in.  Tidy up, toss it, make some space, git it outta here, *clap clap,* let's do this!

So that's how we begin, with a USB outlet.  Huh, how does...., you may be pondering.

Ok, actually I think it began with the wine glass storage* because I broke a glass.  Slick move, butterfingers, I know.  All right, aaaaannnyyyyyway.

Ok ok ok, I finally changed the bad lighting.  Um, after this photo was taken.  I know, I'm sorry.  But what a cacophony.
The glasses get bumped often where they are (and broken....hey, a trip to Ikea for more, yesss), not just by me ahem plus the visual clutter in this one little nook of the kitchen is bogging my brain down.  Fire lit.

Into the pantry the rack went, easy peasy.

Well sorta.  First I had to get a few more shelf brackets as I cannot remember why I installed the shelves on this wall so oddly with no support on the ends.

Droopy sad shelf ends.  Doh.  What was I thinking?
And then since I was here and it's been a "hey, you should do this someday" thing, I moved the hooks further up the wall for the floor cleaning tools.  Which ya know, me, it all took longer than it should have because Mercury Retrograde was still in effect.  Sure, blame that, why not.

Shelves and floor thingies all happy now.
Once I got the wine rack attached, I grabbed some large binder clips* and snapped them on the ends.  This wall rattles when Mike shuts the the back door so the clips will keep the glasses from shifting off onto the floor.

Woo hoo, no more broken glasses!  Although uh yeah, better get more reds.

Ok so then next was the USB outlet.*

Our trouble:  a plug is always filled with a device charger, the other Mike's coffee grinder.  We're always plugging and unplugging and replugging and shifting.  Plus wires are everywhere.  Well, I guess the new outlet doesn't solve the nagging wire issue.

Beeefore. Still lovin' that backsplash.  Still hatin' them counters, ugh.
Mmk, the first outlet I picked up, I could not get the wires into.  The screws would unravel only so far and the area around them, too tight.

As I had purposefully run out solely to pick this up specifically which is atypical for planner-me, I was less than excited to run back over to Menards for a different one.

But, I did as I did not want to put the old outlet back in.  I will not be defeated, rawr har har har!

It literally took me eight tries to find the right breaker switch.  Eight flights of stairs.  Who needs a stair machine, seriously.  The photo of the existing wiring here is bizarre -- no the black is not tied to the white, merely an odd angle.
Turns out the screws on the new one were all loosey-goosey flop all around, I was struggling yet again.  Thankfully my cool woodworking pal Scott texted, perfect timing, so I asked him omg, help me with this thing pleeeasssee.

Turns out there are stab in outlets on this twice the price one, sigh, so problem solved.

All the wiring.  Yes I'm a taper.  I like to tape.*  Added security, ya know?  The back of the outlet is so nicely labeled, you can't screw up which wire goes where.  Nice.**
And yes I was annoyed with myself for forgetting that stab in option, and then annoyed with myself if the previous one maybe had them (it does) as that one had an included face plate.  And I wouldn't have had to run out again.  Use the knowledge or lose it, right?  Heh.

Outlet is in after some uh, rotary tool carving* of the tile on the upper right.  Foam gasket back on, yep.  And bam, ta da!
Anyway, it's in.

Mike came home from work and was confused.  "Hey, this new?  What....oh.  Oh.  Oh that's cool!" And off we go with two plugs and two USB outlets.  Super handy, right?!

Best part?  It works!!  Woo the freakin' hoo!
After that, back to the pantry where it was time to be more storage efficient with some cup hooks.  Generally these* in fact.  I figured the vinyl coating will keep movement and slippage to a minimum.

Oh yeah.  Cup hooks baby.
We have so many mugs.  So many.  For two people.  And only one of them drinks coffee.  So until we start paring down that there mug collection, I moved a slew into the pantry.

See, when you run out of storage space, use your walls, go vertical.  So when you have shelves and there's ample space between two, make use of that open area.

Neither of us drink Stella either.  Hm.
Sure, it's extra super cluttery looking now but I don't tend to glance this way often.  What this did do is save mugs from being displayed dust collectors scattered about plus freed up cabinet space.  Win win.

Holy mug collection, jeez louise.
Note:  for mugs you need larger hooks, at minimum 1 1/4".  Trust me, I made that mistake for you.

Next, I picked up some itty bitty plants as two of the three plants in the window decided to crap out on us and hang there ugly-like for weeks.  Months?

Tough spot for a photo I tell ya.
They're not trailing but hopefully they'll be pretty.  Sometimes it's the little accomplishments that feel so big and good.

Love the yellow.  Of course.  A few leftover sprigs of the previous plant that seemed fine remained.
The other day that back door awning decided, eh, my work here is done.  Snow had been glued to it as we atypically suffered though three straight weeks of unforgiving single digit cold weather.  Yes, I hid.

Well we finally had a day where the snow loosened its death grip on the awning that hasn't even been up for a year when it just went kaput.  Blurp.  Fell apart.  Nice.  Sixty bucks wasted.

Thanks for nothin' you hunk of useless plastic.
Ok, but hopefully there's a silver lining.

One of which will be that I can maybe DIY a different awning that doesn't look like poop.  The other is this breakage may be fortuitous for me to change the light bulb in the fixture above it.

Which leads me to the dusk to dawn bulb* fun fun times.  Heh.

The one I put up out front blew out last month which was a complete surprise.  LED and it only comes on after dark lasting only a year?  Hm.  Weird.

I brought it to my pal Korey in the electrical department (she's so awesome) who found it hard to believe too so she generously replaced it.

Turns out it was the same color temperature as the previous one, too blue for Mike's delicate lighting sensibilities apparently.  Who knew.

Anyway, instead I tried a screw in dusk to dawn socket* with a regular bulb.  Nope.  Blinking light.

Tried a regular bulb, switching it on and off manually.  If I remembered.  So nope.

Discovered that Feit now also makes a warmer color so bam, done.

Ahhh better color.
Problem is I have to re-figure out how to get the sensor to land in front again, the magic start point screwing it in so it lands in the proper spot.  And hope this one lasts longer than a year.

As you can see, still on in the "daylight."  Gray gray Chicago January.  The little black dot sensor is facing south west.  Gotta fix that.
My neighbors are probably all, man, what the hell with her and that light?!  Why is she out there like every damn day with that thing?

The aesthetics of this fixture I find unappealing too so heh, maybe I'll continue to make them scratch their heads by replacing it.


Loooong story short, I'm gonna try putting the bulb Korey gave me in the back door fixture, see if it'll work, now that I can reach it.  That back door has never ever seen the sun; the closest sun gets is the edge of the patio.  Aw, my little pea, sigh.

Updates forthwith as I'll be surprised it if works properly given the fixture and the lack of sun.

By the wayyyyy, in my holiday writings to you I mentioned not sharing my Mom's butter cookie recipe unless my extraordinary friend Jenny and I finally start that baking blog we've wistfully jabbered on about for years.

Well guess what.  We've had enough of this idle chatter.  It is on, people.  Yep, there will be a baking blog coming in February to a screen near you!

Holy cats and dogs, right?!  Will that mean no occasional recipes here?  Noooo, I'll still share some here too.  But most baking related ones will be over on the new digs.

Wait 'til you get a load of her amazing awesomeness, oh my gosh.  She's gonna out-bake me and run circles of flour and sugar around my agog spinning head with her prowess.  Have no fear, I will share more info when we're up.  Exciting stuff, my friends!

Since it is a Variety Pack post today, I will recipe you up with some monster hits in this household:  Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup which I served with, better sit down for this, Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese.

Mike's jaw was a wee agape that I had done all that.  From scratch.  And that I didn't screw it up.

The soup above is super close to the recipe I have that I dumbly did not save the source for, as in the last two ingredients nor the oregano are in my recipe.  But try that combo on a cold winter night.  Yeah......

Next week I'm off to Hometalk's NYC headquarters for a day.  Whaaaaaaatt?!  Right?!  Indeed, they invited me and several other bloggers to come meet about a spiffy new upcoming project of theirs.  Awesome, right?  Let you know when that's up too.

Furthering the lucky Hometalk love?  I was their Blogger Spotlight for the week!  They're so great.

So far, banner year!  Let's keep it going!

Anywhoooo.....Back soon!

*The under shelf wine glass storage, large binder clips, USB outlets, electrical tape, rotary tool tile bits, vinyl coated cup hooks, dusk to dawn bulbs, and dusk to dawn sockets are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

**Disclaimer:  Electricity is dangerous.  It can hurt you.  It can kill you.  Bad wiring can destroy your home.  It's best to hire a qualified, licensed electrician if you don't know how to wire things.  But, if you are determined to learn, more power to you (ah, pun!).  There are lots of books and videos that will help you.  Start small with a lamp kit.  Do not blow your house up.  Mostly, absolutely do not do what I do; what you've seen here is for entertainment purposes only, mmk my friends?


  1. *gasp* USB outlets?!? I didn't even know that was a thing! You are so full of awesome, Bec, and I am reminded of that with every single post you make. <3


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