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Archive for March, 2010

I'm pooped

March 29th, 2010 at 05:13 pm

Today was another trip to Yale for 2 medical research studies. I spent 2 hours at the first place; they took my blood, which is headed for the National Institute of Health. No rinky dink study here!

Happy to say that my careful MapQuesting of New Haven's many one-way streets helped me get from research study #1 to research study #2 with no problems. Even found a parking spot on the street easily.

Answered a bunch of questions to see if I qualified for the 2nd study (I do) and got $10 for doing so. I'll go back for the actual study where they'll do an EEG (electrodes on my head while i play computer games or something) and will earn another $40 for my trouble.

The key for me is trying to schedule 2 of these studies on the same day to make the 45-minute drive more worthwhile.

I have one more trip to make to return to the first study and after completing that last segment of the study, they'll mail me $206.

Felt very tired when i finally got home around 3:30 pm and after driving in the pouring rain on the interstate. But at least i'm learning my way around the big city.

Treated myself to a meatball grinder at Subway on the way home, and made one last stop at Ikea as well.

March, a great money month for me

March 27th, 2010 at 10:29 am

Personally, i like the new look. The white background somehow adds a lot more air to the screens and makes the site seem more contemporary to me. I agree, though, that I'd like to see room for a longer list of recent blog posts.

I notice, though, that even while I have inserted line breaks between paragraphs, it's all single spaced in the published posts. Nate, if you're reading...

March has turned out to be a great money month for me. In addition to my unemployment, I brought in an extra $1,069, and that wasn't even including the $3,968 from my IRS refund!

I made $815 from freelance work (2 press releases, a blog post and an article), found $1.96, sold something on Craig's List for $15, did some surveys and made a wonderful $200 from a market research focus group (all day) yesterday.

The focus group was very interesting, held at a beautiful hotel that looked more like a retreat. They fed us breakfast and lunch and we got out a little early, plus got paid in cash, so no complaints here!

I can't talk about the particulars, but it involved an actual class action lawsuit. I guess it's big bucks enough that the lawyers for both sides, who each gave us condensed presentations, wanted to see how things would pan out in front of a "mock" jury. In the afternoon our group of 40 was split into 2 separate "juries" to hash things out and i was surprised that only myself and one other person in my group sided with the plaintiffs. Let's just say that I have a big consumer advocacy streak in me, and the other side felt that if a corporation can get away with making more money at the expense of the customer, then that's ok, because Hey! That's the American way. Or so their thinking went.

I'm hoping to drum up a little more freelance work, so am sending out a "15% off, it's no April Fool's joke" flier to 3 key former contacts. Even if i don't get new work now, i was in need of a reason to contact them and remind them I'm still available, so this will accomplish that.

Not doing much this weekend, although I really should go to Staples as my ink cartridge is past done. I found a 15% off coupon for Staples, so that's where i plan to go.

Next week is another very busy week for me:
Monday: 2 different medical research studies. 1 is just the 2nd of 3 planned visits, so won't get paid til the 3rd is done, and the 2nd is a $10 questionnaire to see if I'm eligible for the larger survey. The biggest hassle, i'm guessing, will be finding a parking space in New Haven.

I mapquested everything and will hit Ikea afterwards, as well as the landfill on way home.

Tuesday: My dad is supposed to come up but am guessing we'll have to reschedule due to rain.

Wednesday: Help mom install an art exhibit at library

Thursday: Free day

Friday: A 3rd medical research study, so back to Yale.

The human guinea pig

March 25th, 2010 at 11:05 am

i checked out Craig's list again and sure enough, three more studies I could apply for. They all don't pay as much as the one i already started (stress and overeating, 3 sessions, $200), BUT if I can schedule at least one of the new ones for the same day as my third and final session with the stress and overeating session, then it makes sense.

The one i booked has something to do with visual pictures and food and pays just $25 for one two-hour session. It's another Yale study, so its location is nearby the first study.

I'm waiting to hear back on another study (Anxiety/worry, yes i qualify these days) and pays $40 and another one on eating behaviors that pays $20 for 25 minutes of your time.

My dad's coming up next week to help me bring all the brush and tree branch prunings to the landfill. Tomorrow's the other $200 study, this one a market research study, not medical study, on social issues. The hardest part about this is getting there on time; have to leave the house at 6:30 am.

Last night was a free dinner/lecture on estates and wills. Dinner was Swedish meatballs, noodles, broccoli, salad and cookies for dessert. Yum.

Between these lecture dinners and the research studies, my calendar's looking pretty full. I want to squeeze in as many more as i possibly can before early April, when i hope to get a call from the census bureau about some work which i expect will be full time for a period of weeks, so i'll have to drop everything else when/if i start that.

Here at home, I've been so preoccupied by cutting up big branches into smaller branches that will fit into the trunk of my car that i haven't done a thing to ready my vegetable garden for spring planting. I think the peas could go in NOW. I'd better get tilling.

does anyone live near a Bahama Breeze restaurant?

March 25th, 2010 at 08:03 am

If so, I have $10 gift card I can mail you. PM me. Expires June 2, 2010.

Unconventional ways to make money, decorating the sun room

March 24th, 2010 at 09:22 am

Yesterday I drove into New Haven to participate in a medical research study. It involves three visits, answering a lot of paper questionnaires, 2 blood draws and urine samples. For this I'll earn $200 at a minimum, more if I agree to have my interview with the psychiatrist videotaped or if I win any money in their little gambling games (of the "would you rather have $20 now or $100 next year? variety).

The subject they're researching is the connection between emotions, stress and overeating.

I got a little lost trying to find the place, but this was probably the first time having my cell phone with me really came in handy. As soon as she told me "the big white building," I knew where it was.

Tonight I'm attending a Masonicares talk on estates and wills. I consider it entertainment and it includes a free dinner. It's right here in town.

Friday I'm doing an all-day market research study for which I'll be paid another $200. I tried to get 2 of my friends enrolled in the study, too, but they must've filled up the slots quickly because neither could get in. Unlike the medical study, which pays by check via snail mail several weeks after the fact, the market research study pays in cash before you leave for the day.

Since I opened up the sun room, I started thinking about how to deal with cushioning for the built-in benches. I realized that due to the way they were built, it would not be possible to buy ready-made cushions and it would also be real expensive to get custom-made cushions.



There's a 4-inch piece of wood that separates each window, and that wood extends down and touches the benches. The cushions would have to include a notched section in the middle to accommodate that piece of wood.

So to save money, I decided to buy standard and king-sized pillows for a more casual look, covered in nice shams that look as un-bedroom pillow like as possible.

My first stop was Wal-Mart, where I bought 3 king sized pillows and 2 standards, and on the way home I also stopped at Target, where I ended up buying 5 turquoise shams for those pillows. They have kind of a pebbled quilted look with the opening in the back, not the end, so I thought they'd work well.



When i got them home, i could quickly see that the pillows they were WAY too high and fluffy. I also realized I had 2 extra standard pillows in a closet that were fairly flat, so I decided to return all 5 pillows and not replace the 2 standards.

Then I checked out Target's pillows and decided these were much flatter and better for my needs, though they cost $25 each vs. $17 each at Wal-Mart.

Yesterday, after finishing up with my medical research study session, I stopped at Ikea, which was just around the corner and a place i rarely get to since it's close to an hour's drive. Ikea, I noticed, sold king-sized pillows for $9! Quality doesn't matter so much to me because they're just for sitting on, not for sleeping.

So....you guessed it, this morning I returned the 3 king pillows to Target for the credit and when I return to New Haven for my next session with that medical research study, I'll swing by Ikea and pick up just 2 of the king-sized pillows. (I've decided I don't need every inch of the benches covered in pillows.) It'll save me about $33 on the pillows alone, plus $25 for one returned sham.

I also picked up a set of 3 little white shelves I can put knickknacks on without worrying the cats will knock them over. They look really good.


The 3rd shelf is very small, so it may look better in one of the bathrooms.

Finally, I also ordered a 4 x 6 bamboo rug for $68 and spent $22 on a gallon of Ace paint for the floor (taupe).

It seems like I'm spending a lot, but I've decided to indefinitely defer the ceiling fan (with installation probably $400 range) because I'm concerned the box that would have to be built to hold it to the exposed ceiling wouldn't look good. For now, I can run a floor fan anywhere in there or in the family room, blowing through there.

I got my $4,000 IRS refund, so I've maybe spent $230 total on the sun room. I already transferred $3,000 to my online money market account, where I actually have a bigger balance than before I was laid off 6 months ago.

Oh, the large blue glass jar you saw in one of the photos above? I plan to get some white sand, fill it a third of the way, then put some seashells in it. I hate to pay for sand, so I may have to schedule a trip to the shoreline to take some from a public beach!

Not much else new. I spent a part of every day for the past 5 days or so, when the weather was so great, finishing cutting back my forsythia hedges and then cutting their long branches into 3 foot wide sections that will fit in my trunk. I keep the trunk loaded so that anytime I'm going past the dump, I can unload them. I still have more burning bush branches to drag from the yard to the driveway, which is command central for all my pruning leftovers. There's quite a pile.



The crocuses are in bloom...



...and Waldo is enjoying some catnip.


A tour of wallpapering projects around the house

March 15th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Today's the third and final day of this icky, rainy, damp weather.

I forced myself to tackle the wallpapering again. You know, the downstairs bathroom that's been out of commission for about 2 years now. Considering that even now, not working, I manage to go weeks between wallpapering the bathroom, getting even a few more pieces up there seems like an accomplishment to me. So I got exactly 2 more pieces up there and it took over an hour.

An added incentive is that I know that once the weather warms up, as it will later this week, I'll be hell bent on planting vegetable seeds and expanding my garden bed, or simply finding reasons to spend time outside. Finishing the bathroom wallpapering will be the last thing on my list.

So, here are a few shots of my progress.



Don't look too closely, there are many mistakes.

I spent hours poring over wallpaper designs online, but if I could do it over again, I'd pick the same pattern in a slightly lighter shade. I painted the cabinetry an ivory color that matches, and there's a new window in here (with tinted glass on the lower half for privacy, since it looks out onto my new sunroom). Yeah, it might seem a bit strange to have a window that looks out onto a sunroom (that used to be a screened porch), but it lets natural light in what would otherwise be a very dark bathroom. The fixture in here is also new and replaces some tacky brass sconces that were actually rusting, plus they were placed to the sides of this big mirror and because of the angle always cast a glaring light.



Oh my, look at all the glue i got on the mirror!

I anticipate a lot of trouble trying to cut the wallpaper around the circular base of that light fixture, so i may have to see if i can cut power to the light, disconnect the unit and try to prop it up on some kind of makeshift shelf for it while i wallpaper around it.

Once i finish this project, I shall NEVER wallpaper again. You'd think I'd be pretty good at it, having wallpapered my kitchen about 8 years ago....



This was the only wallpapering job where I had a helper. I love this toile pattern. My kitchen has a black, white and stainless steel color scheme. Here's a photo of it taken 3 years ago when I had it immaculate because I was trying to sell it, before my relationship, and the real estate market, fell apart:



It basically looks the same now except I got a new stainless steel fridge a few years ago.

My second wallpapering project was my upstairs bathroom....



Some visitors have actually thought that was real tile on the wall!


Here's a closeup of the same pattern. That's my mom's artwork.

And my last wallpapering project, before the horrid downstairs bathroom, was my office.





Here's a closeup of the pattern. Pretty, isn't it? I only wallpapered 2 of the walls in the office, but I still haven't gotten around to painting the remaining 2 walls a soft eggshell blue. (I hate white walls.)

The worst thing about wallpapering is that once you wet the paste on the back side, you have only minutes to position it correctly and start scraping out excess glue and bubbles. If you take too long, the paper starts getting tacky dry and can then be really hard to move around, resulting in wrinkles or worse, tears in the paper.

The other pain in the neck about wallpapering is that for it to really look good, you have to watch how often the pattern repeats and make sure you line it up correctly, or you'll see a mismatch from one piece to the next.

I hadn't thought it mattered with my bathroom wallpaper since it's such an abstract design, but yes, you can tell where I started and didn't bother matching up the paper's pattern. Matching the repeating pattern can also mean you'll waste a lot of paper, so that's why I'm already on my 2nd roll of paper for this small bathroom.

"Cooking up a storm"

March 13th, 2010 at 02:37 pm

I just realized I had the perfect headline for this post, because that's exactly what was going on...I cooked, while the storm raged on.

It was a scrumptious day.

I made a big pot of pea soup which is still cooling on the stove. It's a bit on the watery side now, but it always thickens up nicely after sitting overnight in the fridge. I like to add carrots, parsnip, onion and celery/celery leaves to mine, plus this time I added a small amount of nitrite-free ham pieces.

I topped off my bowl of pea soup with the last of my homemade rice pudding with dried apricot. Heavenly. I mean, really good. I'm a pudding fan, and I'd rather have chocolate, rice, Indian, bread or tapioca pudding over cake or even pie!

I was surprised how well this turned out even while 2.5 of the 3 cups of milk called for in the recipe were skim milk. I had a small amount of 2% milk which also went in. I don't know why I don't make this more often. It was really delectable, and a good way to use my expensive $6.99 per bag of Trader Joe's California slab dried apricots, the best money can buy, in my opinion.

Can't say I did much of anything else today except hunker down during this gosh awful rainstorm.

I often bring up my 40 or so bookmarked gardening blogs and read through them, and I've done this already today.

My money karma

March 12th, 2010 at 01:22 pm

My money karma is picking up steam lately after I was feeling so....moneyless.

A client sent a check in yesterday for $285. Today, I received a check for $245 from another client, the one I was afraid wasn't going to pay me. After a routine call to a focus group contact, I landed a seat in an unusual, all-day market research gig which pays $200 cash plus breakfast and lunch, and i've encouraged a friend to sign up to so we can drive down together. And I got my IRS tax refund deposited into my checking account, another $3600 odd dollars.

I'm really trying not to spend money, but i was feeling so restless today sitting home that I went grocery shopping just for a social outlet! I didn't need groceries, but perused all the shelves and still managed to spend $15.

This and that

March 11th, 2010 at 10:46 am

Nothing much on the agenda today, but I happened to call one of two market research places in my area and they said come on down. Not sure it was worth it. (Note to self: Ask how much the survey(s) pay first before trekking down there.) I did 2 brief surveys, one of which involved eating Hershey's chocolate, but was paid just $5. Plus I found a $1 bill right on the floor of the Mall where the survey play is located. It took me a hour round-trip to drive down there and back, so I suppose I netted a few bucks after gas.

I suppressed an urge to buy a soft pretzel. It cost $2.39 and I told myself I could buy a loaf of bread with that money, so I was able to exit the Mall without spending the few dollars I'd just made.

On the way back, I stopped at the dump, having had the foresight to load my trunk up with fallen branches from the yard before leaving; I'd cut them up to fit the trunk the day before, so without having done that I wouldn't have had time to load the trunk up before heading for the survey. I have many more branches to bring to the dump, but would rather wait to bring more til i have a reason to head back in that area, saving myself an extra 6 miles of driving.

I have close to 100 miles on the car, more than I thought I'd have 11 days into the Put It in Park challenge for March. And I don't even have a daily commute!

I have about a half tank of gas left and my goal, perhaps unrealistic, is to make it last the rest of the month, or another 20 days.

I sent a late payment notice to a client who hasn't paid or contacted me since the last revision (and 3rd draft) of their project, despite several efforts on my part. I was steeling myself to have to pursue the matter eventually in small claims court. They responded to the email and said they overlooked it and the check was being mailed today, so that would be a very good thing as I can really use that $245.

As soon as I get that check, I will email her back and inquire as to what went wrong. I don't think they were unhappy with my writing, and I did see disagreement between the husband and wife co-owners as to the thrust of the piece, but you'd think after investing that much time they'd want to finish it. I'd like to retain clients at all times if at all possible, though my first concern right now is getting paid.

As for the CIO of the investment advisory firm who I found on Craig's List, I ended up spending about 6 hours editing his 11-screen Powerpoint presentation. Thus far, my worst fear about this dude seem accurate, ie, as soon as I sent my edits, I've heard nothing further from him. Just silence. He was under no obligation to pay me anything but assured me more than once that if he liked my work he would happily pay me, and there'd be future work. I'll just have to chalk that one up.

My cat just knocked over a partially filled pitcher of water. Thanks, Luther! Good thing I was home to wipe it off my wood floor.

I was the randomly selected winner of a contest on a gardening blog I read and I got the prize FedEx'd to me yesterday, a very nice gardening book.

This past Wednesday my mother and I attended a slide lecture by the artist Michael Whelan. I didn't know him before, but he's apparently a very successful fantasy/sci-fi artist who's done 350 book covers for Stephen King, Isaac Asimov and others. It was interesting, though not my personal style. There's a series of these lectures at the state college (free) and I hope we can see at least one more.

A friend told me about a copywriter job with an agency but when i called them, the job had already been filled. She suggested we get together now even though they don't have current openings. I scheduled a meeting with her for this Tuesday, then later decided to cancel it. I just didn't feel like schlepping down there for the dog and pony show, especially since I've never gotten a perm job thru an agency before and i guess i'd rather wait til there's a specific opening before going to interview with the agency. Do i have a bad attitude? Perhaps. Anyway, they've got my resume.

I rather like the ebb and flow of my non-working lifestyle these days. It's probably the closest thing to what it will be like to be retired, except i hope not to be on such a starvation budget then! What i mean by ebb and flow is that I'm never rushed, never have to get up earlier than I like and never have to just give in to a clockwork-like existence dictated by 9 to 5+ working hours. I like the freedom that comes with not having a schedule. Each day is a little different and each day offers new possibilities. Alas, it can't last, I need a paying job and I hope to find one soon.

Oh, yeah, i called my local census office the other day and asked if they're still hiring cus i haven't gotten a call yet. (I took the exam last year.) She said they will be thru early April but they go totally by scores. The higher scoring people get called first. She said the only way i could improve the chances of getting caled is if i wanted to retake the test. (I got an 89.) I don't think i feel like it.

I rearranged the front parlor

March 8th, 2010 at 01:37 pm

Had a nice, albeit short, birthday lunch for my mom here on Saturday. As it turned out, she couldn't eat the cauliflower/cheddar soup I'd made becus she didn't bring her lactose pills. (I think she made up for it with the chocolate mouse cake.) I sent her home with the soup so she had it later.

I rearranged the front parlor.


The mural was painted by my mother in 2003. The French doors to the right lead to the family room, and from there you can access the sun room. The small rattan backpack on the floor at left was something I bought years on one of my trips to Bar Harbor, Maine. The antique trunk i picked up at an antique show in the area. I had the small table to right of the purple armchair stained to match the colors of the trunk.


This is the other end of the front parlor. The small, red oriental rug is one my mother brought home with her 30 years ago when she went to Morocco. The two wood lamps on the credenza were made by my grandfather, a master woodworker.

See what I mean when I say I don't like clutter? It's maybe a little too spartan and requires a few more items on the credenza with the ship.

I did so to try to accommodate a new upholstered chair I got, but becus the color is more gold than taupe, it doesn't really go well in this room anymore and so it's landed in the family room. Too much trouble to return it. I wrestled it up the basement stairs.

Egg-laying has picked up again and so my mother and i are the lucky recipients of my sister's chicken eggs.



You never know what color will pop out. Maybe someday, I'll get a cobalt blue egg.

Yesterday and today I did just a LITTLE bit of yardwork which mostly consisted of cutting up pine branches that dropped over the winter and dragging them and much lighter branches I pruned from the burning bush to the driveway, where my dad and i will eventually bring them to the dump in his pickup.

But I'm amazed at how sore I am. Either it's age I(I'm 50 now) or umm, I'm really out of shape. Or a little of both.

What's everyone's mileage so far in the "Put it In Park" challenge? I'm pretty sure I'm under 50 miles so far.

It was warm enough today...a high of 55 degrees....that I turned off the heat in the house this afternoon. I opened the front and back doors when the sun was shining on them and let the cats enjoy the view.

I need to get back to wallpapering the bathroom. I PROMISE I'll do it on the next rainy/cloudy day, which looks like it'll be toward Thursday or into the weekend. It's hard to work on it when the weather's nice.

I got my state tax refund a while ago, but am still waiting on my big IRS refund. Where's my refund? feature on IRS website indicates I'll have it by March 31 unless there's a problem. (Let's hope there's no problem.)

Not only are my snowdrops in bloom now, but I see the autumn joy sedums are just breaking the earth's surface, and my daffodils are also popping up, about an inch high now.

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck....

March 6th, 2010 at 06:35 am

Spring is really very nearly here!

Yesterday, I discovered the snowdrops under the big white pine were in bloom. And through the weekend, temps will reach up to close to 50 degrees.

It'll really make me want to get out and do yardwork. I need to drag all the pruned burning bush branches from the middle of the yard to the driveway, where I'm collecting them and counting on my dad to follow up with a visit so we can haul to them to the dump with his pickup soon.

I'm having my mother and sister over for my mom's birthday lunch today. On the menu: cauliflower/cheddar soup garnished with sliced scallions (awesome), some garlic Naan bread, a Trader Joe's appetizer I just pop in the oven and for dessert, a luscious Trader Joe's cake. My sis is bringing a salad.

Yesterday, I responded to a Craig's List job for a contract financial copywriter. I can't tell you how stoked I was when the head of the firm, an investment advisory company that manages portfolios with a minimum $1 million, called me a few hours later.

We (he, mostly) spoke for 5 or 10 minutes and he asked me, as a "test," to edit a draft pitch book he would email me. I said fine. (He's basically looking for a writer who can write the company story in a compelling, passionate way.)

After I got off the phone with him, I perused his website, which didn't look very professional and which was all about him. I didn't see any evidence of other employees and i felt the website, for an investment advisory firm, lacked substance, made claims without backing them up, etc. I then viewed a video he'd made, not on You Tube, but someplace similar. Hate to say it, but he came off as kind of a quack, and again, not much of substance there. RIA firms usually very conservative and seek to provide confidence in their expertise. I can't say he did that for me.

I googled his company and name, and mostly all there was was plenty of yellow pages and similar directory listings, which of course anyone can do. I checked the NYT, WSJ, USA Today and Boston Globe, all papers he said he'd been mentioned in, and not one of them produced his name when I did a search in the paper's archives. Hmmm. It also appeared he's moved around a lot in recent years, from Boston and Maryland to Stamford and New Haven, CT.

To top it off, I haven't received the pitch book he told me he'd email me last night. Perhaps for the best?

When will i catch a break???

Well, it's a beautiful day and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm afraid there will be no wallpapering today.

Gettin' started on home improvements, home maintenance

March 2nd, 2010 at 09:55 am

My "Go to" guy Ralph came over to price out some jobs I want him to do.

Since "discovering" this guy last summer (a friend/co-worker referred me to him) I am SO glad I found him! He does great work at even greater prices!

He's the one who did my sun room. I can't tell you how many guys i've had here over the years who really gouged me on prices. (Like the guy who charged me $1,000 to install a sump pump in the basement. Sigh. Bygones...) I've been mostly ignorant over the years, but I've gotten better about discerning whether it's a fair price or not.

Anyway, first to the maintenance stuff that needs to be done. He priced all this at $300, very reasonable, I thought:

1. Cement in 2 below-grade basement windows. Years back i saw on the outside that the old wood windows were rotting and since i wanted to sell the house at that time, i had those old window frames removed and the hole bricked in, but the guy evidently didn't do a very good job cus i noticed at one point that when i stood in the basement with the lights off, i could see daylight coming from that space! I also felt a lot of cold air coming from a hole in the cement where Ralph said mice could get in too. So all that will be fixed. I just want to have the 2 spaces where basement windows used to be to be uniform cement.

2. Cement in an area of a basement wall that was bricked in and is not at all level. It's on the shared wall between garage and basement. I swear it looks like a car plowed into the wall and it was "repaired" by an amateur.

3. Repair 2 large and long cracks in my front stoop. This is urgent, since letting this go will make it worse.

4. Redirect sump pump outlet from draining out the north side of house to the east side, which is also the front of the house, but the pipe will be largely hidden by all the pachysandra there. The idea is that the water will more readily drain from the front of house where there's a fairly sharp downward slope; the side of the house where it drains now is kind of level and when the sump drains the water out, it tends to pool in an area to the side of the house and only slowly drains away.

I'm not sure why the guy who installed it put it where he did; he probably figured i wouldn't want an ugly pipe visible from front of house. At this point, I'm more concerned about proper drainage and as i said, that pachysandra is really bushy and will easily hide the pipe.

All of these are relatively small repairs of things that always bothered me but i never got around to having them addressed since it can be tough finding someone who will not only do small jobs, but do them well.

Plus, if i ever sell this place, it will mean that many fewer small repairs to do at the last minute. I'd want to have them done becus they're the kind of thing that would give buyers pause and question the integrity of my foundation or something. If and when i sell my house, I'd like to streamline the whole process and do a quick sale, and especially in this market today, you can't expect to do that unless the house is in very good shape to start with.

Plus i take a lot of pride in my house and get so much satisfaction from doing any sort of home improvements. It's quite the expensive hobby.

Ralph's going to get back to me in a few days about the cost of putting stone facade all around my garage, on the ugly concrete part. It's just a 1-car (attached) garage, but it comes to about 170 square feet of stone, which is a lot of material and $$.

It will definitely make the house/garage more attractive as you drive up the driveway. Good for resale value but also for my own enjoyment. So many people who come here say oh, it's like an English country cottage! This will make it even more so, I'm sure. Stone walls galore.

I have no idea what the stone will cost; he said it would be pricey cus it's such a large area to cover. I have some numbers in my head i hope it doesn't go over. His prices have always pleasantly surprised me before, so hopefully, that'll be the case again.

I forgot to ask him, though, and this is a key question since I'm already addressing lots of cracked concrete issues, is how likely the stone wall will develop cracks of it's own over time?

I'd like this to be maintenance-free!

In other news, Patient Saver is headed for a haircut this afternoon. I'll be stopping at Xpect Discounts for some bird suet and also at Trader Joe's.

Suet prices at Xpect increased this year, from .50 a cake to .59. Still the cheapest game in town, though. Most everywhere else will charge you $1 a cake.

I'm having my mother and sister over this weekend for my mother's birthday. My sis is bringing a salad and I'm doing a cauliflower cheddar soup with a crusty bread and some sort of extravagant Trader Joe's frozen dessert which I'll get today.

I have to start cleaning the house pretty soon cus while it's perfectly fine for me, it's not presentable for public viewing! Cat hair clumps in the corners and that sort of thing.

Persistence pays off

March 1st, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Someone expressed interest in the punched tin hanging pendant lamp I posted on Craig's List last week. I sold it for $15 today, driving down to a local Starbucks to meet the buyer in a parking lot.

That makes a total of $305 in Craig's List sales since losing my job. Every little bit helps, and I also love "decluttering" my home of things I don't use or need. It'll make my life easier some day if I move. Plus I helped someone else avoid buying something new and kept my lamp from ending up in a landfill for the next hundred years.

I had nearly given up ever selling this item and had posted it 7 times before. But it only take one buyer, the right buyer.

Each time I make a sale it really motivates me to look around the house for other things I could sell, but I'm not one to accumulate stuff, so I don't think there's much.

Selling stuff also makes me hyper-aware of how easy it can be to convert dollars into "stuff," but how hard it can be to convert "stuff" into dollars again. It makes me a much more careful shopper.

All of my buyers have been men. I've never successfully sold "knickknacks" to anyone; most of my stuff has been either practical stuff, like camera equipment or a mini fridge, or specialty stuff that would appeal to someone with an offbeat hobby, like collecting toy cars (a recent $35 sale) or a large drum ($75).

My rollerblades never did sell, and I ended up giving them to GoodWill just to get rid of them. It's a bruising hobby. My hardly used sleeping bag has generated a lot of interest, but has still yet to be sold. It's one of those items that can be quite expensive when bought new. (Same for that hanging lamp, which cost me close to $100.)

In other news, I'm excited cus my builder called me back today and is coming over tomorrow to price out some jobs I have for him. All 4 jobs involve cement. Three are small maintenance jobs, and need to be done, and one is big, but I'm lusting after having it done: stone facade on my ugly garage walls.