Archive for the ‘Around the House’ category

A new passion: crochet

March 6, 2010


My favorite baby in her crocheted sweater


My good friend CJ showed up at the office one day, telling us how she found some supplies, taught herself how and crocheted a scarf that past weekend. She gave me a short tutorial, and I thought… I can do this!

Well, it’s about 6 weeks later, and I am really enjoying my new hobby.

Some goofball in a hat


I wanted to share some tools I have found useful. Lion Brand Yarn has a website that is wonderful. They have a database of free patterns that you can save to your profile. Then when you are ready to start your project, all the info is right there. Bonus: they have a mobile version of the website, so you can sit and crochet on the couch, without bothering to print out the instructions or pattern. That, paired with the user reviews has been very helpful. Some of the photos seem kind of dated, but you just have to imagine your creation in your choice of yarn and individual flare.

My friend applefritter sent me a link to the site CraftBits. They have all kinds of instructions for all types of crafts, but their crochet section is full of different ideas. I incorporated a poppy on this hat I made for my mother-in-law.

I will keep you posted on any other new projects I complete.


The Complete Mac vs. PC Campaign

January 21, 2010

First, I was wowed that there are 66 commercials in this campaign. Then, I couldn’t believe they’d already had a four-year run. (Well, I could believe the long-running success of the campaign. I just didn’t realize four years of my life had gone by that fast. I mean, really! It seems like just yesterday I giggled at my first Mac vs. PC commercial.) And finally, I was amazed that one of my favorite commercial campaigns is very likely coming to an end. I mean, I guess it was time. But I’ll still miss them.

And that is why this compilation by AdFreak is so freaking awesome! You can visit Mac and PC anytime and see any of the commercials you may  have missed. Bliss!

And, as you guys know, I’m a PC by day and a Mac by night. Does that make me ambidextrous?

Fall Has Always Grown on Me

September 30, 2009

Where does the time go? I’m thrilled that summer’s out of here and fall has finally arrived. But I’m also thrilled with the progress my ready-made garden has made throughout the season. My post from May showed the beginning stages of the project, but here’s some pics of where we’ve ended up so far. Yes, most of those plants were only a few inches tall when we started, but they’re out of control now.

For me, this is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m really looking forward to spending these cool fall evenings on the porch with a good book enjoying all the colors of fall.

The Wengers’ Creative Challenge at The Home Depot

September 2, 2009


adam-shopping1 NEW

Adam and I both really enjoy making things with our hands and, on occasion, we embark on joint creative projects. Adam’s been itching to make something involving power tools lately, and that gave me an idea. As I’ve mentioned before, I love, love, love shows that give you a creative challenge: “Project Runway,” “Top Chef,” “Food Network Challenge.” But Adam hates them. So, we concocted a Creative Challenge for ourselves: Make a sculpture in one week using half of a 2×4 and $20 worth of materials from one of Adam’s favorite stores, The Home Depot. We had a lot of fun, and even though we were mostly working on individual pieces, we collaborated on some things. (Read “Cassie had to ask Adam for help cutting up her wood.” The kind people at The Home Depot cut the 2×4 in half for us, but I wanted much smaller pieces that we would have to do ourselves. I was looking forward to using the drill, but there was the delicate matter of possibly splitting the wood and ruining the piece, so I let the expert do it while I just gave directions.) Anywho, I put our experience together in a photo essay using Whrrl. Check out Cassie and Adam Wenger’s Home Depot Challenge to see the results.

It was quite a learning experience. One thing I really noticed is that Adam likes clean lines and flush corners; whereas I prefer jagged edges and happy accidents. Adam is much more of a planner; I’m very reactionary.  He had his whole idea planned out before we left the store. I had a loose idea, selected items that caught my eye and knew it would all work itself out.

We allowed ourselves to use tools and items already in our possession. Adam’s preferred tools: table saw, hammer and drill. Mine: hot glue gun.My extra materials included small washers and screws for the eyes, a dowel rod, paint and dirt. Adam used finishing nails, screws, scrap pieces of white plexiglass, a dowel rod and a carriage bolt.

Lastly, I learned that it is quite an experience to chronicle your creative process. But it made me think more about why I was doing certain things and how I would explain it. And I would definitely love to do it again. Any suggestions for our next Creative Challenge?

The Portsmouth Project Post #3

August 14, 2009


Summer cleaning helps get you ahead of the games this fall.

We all know Spring cleaning has been popular for a long time. It just makes sense. Winter’s harsh elements take their toll on our yards and home and we need to give everything a fresh start. Come August, prepping for Winter is still a couple months away, so right now is the perfect time to get a jump on some outdoor cleaning.

Over the years, I’ve honed my yearly home/yard maintenance schedule and cleaning techniques to maximize beauty, time, efficiency and money. Several factors have weighed into my summer cleaning routing such as school quickly approaching, football season practically being here, taking advantage of great weather and kids sports activities that typically pick up in August.

I’ve come up with a checklist of my seven key cleaning tasks outside your home that will be sure to give your family more time heading into the fall. In some cases these tips will save you money in the short term with most helping save money and resources over the long term. I’ve also called out environmentally friendly practices associated with these tasks and finished with an earth friendly cleaning solution personally endorsed by me. Let’s get to work…

1. Gutters – I know, I hate to clean them too, but it could be one of the best uses of your time since clogged gutters can lead directly to home damage and end up costing you thousands of dollars and future headaches. Start by removing all the debris you can by hand. There are a variety of tools out there to help make the process a little easier. I’ve found a cool scoop that fits very well into the gutter. It came with a long pole with an end piece that fits the various nooks and crannies of the gutter. Be sure to remove all shingle grit and dirt and don’t forget about cleaning the downspouts. Finish by hosing the gutters down until they are completely clean and water flows with no obstructions. Clogged gutters lead directly to water and ice backing up under the shingles and causing major damage.


2. Dead Trees, Branches and Sticks – This is one of my favorite chores. Living in Bella Vista on a heavily treed lot, we produce wood like it’s growing on trees. Ice storm damage falls prey to strong Summer storms and branches and sticks start to litter yards. Dead trees pose a problem for heavy ice and snow in the upcoming winter so it is a good idea to get them down as well. I approach wood like an American Indian and utilize everything my yard produces. Small sticks and branches are harvested for kindling and large branches and logs are burned for warmth in the fireplace. Wood that is not good for fireplace burning is usually reserved for camping firewood, saving additional money and unnecessary stripping of campsites.

3. Tools – One time my wife made fun of me when she saw me washing off the lawn mower when I was through mowing the yard. She has since changed her mind after realizing how much we have saved by taking care of the things we already have. Mowers, weed wackers, shovels, pruners, etc. all need to be washed clean of dirt and dried before storing. Some tools like sheers and pruners should also be periodically lubricated to keep them in good working order. Clean tools last longer and make the work easier and safer.


4. Deck and Fence – Timing is the main driver here. The summer months are dry and warm enough for deck and fence stains to be applied without having to look over your shoulder for storms or pollen. Decks and fences should be checked for loose screws and nails. Drive these back in to avoid accidents. This is also a good opportunity to check the voids for wasps and their nests. By this time they have reproduced so you can take out the whole nest and feel satisfied that your upcoming Labor day festivities will be pest free.

5. Lawn and Planting Beds – You’ve already cleaned up limbs and sticks, but there is still plenty to do. Take care of late summer weeds that have started to invade the yard. Remove grass that has started to grow into planting beds. Run through the planting beds  and remove all weeds and any dead foliage. It’s also a good time to refresh mulch. If there has been no rain for a while, a good deep watering followed by some periodic waterings will help keep the yard and plants looking great to finish out the summer.


6. Air Conditioning Unit – One easy and very important cleaning tip to keep your air conditioner running strong in the summer is to clean the outside unit. The evaporator coils collect dust and dirt and can’t effectively radiate heat, thus the air conditioner struggles. Air conditioner plus struggles equals less money in your pocket. To clean the coils, spray them down with water from the hose. The coils are very delicate and care must be taken when performing this task. To much pressure can damage the coil fins. Clean dirt and debris away from under the unit and trim back any plantings at least two feet.

7. Grill – Now this final one is a touchy subject with me. I very rarely clean my grill. I’m a trained, professional, Texas born and bred grill master and will not be questioned on my tactics. Seriously though, a clean grill cooks more efficiently and is “suppose” to make the food taste better. Be sure to clean grates with warm soapy water, clean out ash and brush away all residue. For easier regular cleaning lightly coat the grates with oil before each grilling session and simply clean the grill more often.

And that’s it. Not only will you not have plenty of time to watch football, you’ll immediately reap the rewards as family and neighbors have surely noticed your haste and just might send some compliments your way. Think of it as a mini-makeover for the yard. I wanted to finish this post with a recipe for an environmentally friendly cleaning solution that I use outside. As you go down your checklist of chores you’ll encounter a patio chair, grill cover or toy that needs a little more attention than a stream of water. A solution of 1 cup of baking soda to 1 gallon of warm water mixed with some good old fashioned elbow grease should do the trick. Go Hogs!

A Recipe for Retro

August 5, 2009

So, I’ve been working on recipe organization lately. After years and years of collecting, it was time to conquer the mammoth task. As I filled recipe box after recipe box, I thought they needed a little something extra to jazz them up. The plain, solid colors of the photo storage boxes just weren’t doing it for me anymore. For some reason, I thought decoupage was the answer.

Being that I’m a retro kind of gal, I started searching for 1950s food ads and images. In the process, I came across some real winners. Did you know that ice cream is a “nutritious dairy food” and that they’ll sing for a casserole with lima bean and tomato sauce? Can you believe that there was actually a recipe for Spam Fiesta Peach Cups? And the ad for Swanson TV Dinners shows a family sitting around a dinner table with no TV in sight. Overall, I think my favorite is the one from the Soda Pop Board of America. It actually claims “babies who start drinking soda during the early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and ‘fitting in’ during those awkward pre-teen and teen years.”

Since I couldn’t pick a favorite, I used them all. This was my first decoupage adventure, and it was easy and fun and gave me a reason to purchase Mod Podge. (That just sounds hip, now doesn’t it?) Here’s what my finished products looked like.

The Portsmouth Project Post #2

June 4, 2009

So, I blew out yet another pair of Well’s Lamont Leather Work Gloves yesterday.  I love them and go through a few pair every year.  I have probably thrown away about 20-30 pairs so far over the years.  I got to thinkinh how could I recycle these.  A wall of these overlapped could look really cool and take on an organic texture.  I just happened to do a totally unrelated Google search today and this is what I found…

























Coincidence?…I think NOT!