When Good Appliances Go Bad

First There Was the Fridge...

I noticed that there was ice and frost building up in my fridge again. I've already defrosted it manually once to try to get it to keep going and now I'm going to have to do it again. I wrote a post about it here.


And Then There's The Washing Machine

I've kept my poor old washing machine going for years. It had become a "manual automatic." When the automatic dial stopped working, I turned it by hand, watching the time, allowing for each cycle to "finish" before moving the dial to the next cycle.

When it started to leak where the hoses go into the machine, I unhooked them from the back and began filling the washer manually. I'd stick the hoses into the washer, turn the water on and keep my ears open for a click that signalled the washer was filled. Then, I'd turn off the water, pull the hoses out and drop the ends into a bucket to catch stray drips.
It's been a nuisance, but when you can't afford new, you keep the old going as long as you can. My old washing machine had reached the ripe old age of 17 years.

But yesterday, in the middle of washing a load of laundry, the old washing machine finally gave out. I was in another part of the house when I heard a loud noise from the laundry room;  I thought maybe something had fallen off a shelf, but when I came closer, I could hear a metallic banging and clanging and I knew the washer had washed it's last.
I turned it off, pulled out the wet laundry, and finished washing the clothes by hand in the bathroom.
I turned the washer on just long enough for the pump to drain the water out.  

And I thought, "Now what?"

Next...

I finished the laundry and the other chores I had planned for the morning and then put on some coffee. The day had been eventful and I was tired - I needed a caffeine fix.

After a little while, I went to pour myself a cup and there was no coffee in the pot. I thought I'd forgotten to turn the coffeemaker on, or maybe I'd unplugged it when I cleaned the counter....
The coffemaker wasn't working. I checked the outlet to make sure it was okay; it was fine. I flicked the on//off switch several times to try to get it to go. Nope. Nothing. Nada.

I stood there stunned. And then I laughed at the absurdity of it - what are the odds my washing machine and my coffeemaker would both quit working on the same day?!?

And So...

I turned my coffeemaker into a manual - and this morning I made coffee by pouring hot water through coffee grounds. The first cup was warm. My second cup (and third) I had to re-heat in the microwave.

As for the laundry - Now I'll be doing some of the laundry by hand and the rest I'll be taking to the laundry mat.

And I'm hoping that defrosting my frost-free fridge will make it keep going just a while longer....

But The Poor Aren't Poor

I don't have money to replace my appliances. I might be able to afford a new coffeemaker - I once bought one for $10 at a dollar store and it lasted for a couple of years - but a washing machine or a fridge is a huge expense.

My Hubby, a heavy equipment operator, has lost two jobs during this economic downturn; now he is working again, but like many others in construction-related jobs, if it rains, he doesn't work. It's been raining a lot recently.
As for me, I am rapidly heading toward the age that people are starting to call "unemployable."

I've heard some news people in the past few weeks talking about how the poor people in the U.S. aren't really poor because they have things like refrigerators, TVs, and flush toilets. But I have to wonder how many other people in this country have had to turn their washing machine into an "automatic manual," or are having to defrost their frost- free fridge to try to keep it going a while longer? Maybe the poor in this country aren't poor compared to those in other countries, but in this country, when good appliances go bad, and there is no money to fix or replace them - then what?

And I'm wondering if my twenty-year-old TV will outlast the recession....



You might enjoy this post!:

Memorial Day Weekend Staycation

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of Summer!

No money in the budget for a weekend getaway? Try these ideas for a fun "staycation"!

1. Finish what housework and chores you can before the weekend. Just because you can't get away for the weekend doesn't mean you have to carry on as usual! Mix it up - give yourself the weekend off!

2. Pick up some paper plates, plastic utensils, and styrofoam cups at a dollar store to get yourself into vacation mode and save yourself some cleanup time!
Throw a Summery plastic tablecover on your dining room table to give your place a vacation feel!

3. Plan a Barbecue! Barbecue needs like grills, charcoal,  hot dogs, and burger are on sale this week at many stores. Look for coupons, too, and save yourself some money!

4. Visit cool places right on your computer with webcams!  Webcams are the ultimate in arm-chair traveling!
See what's going on in New Orleans this weekend with this webcam!
Enjoy watching boats on a canal in Amsterdam with this webcam!
Want to see, and listen, to what's happening at Myrtle Beach? Check out this cool webcam!
Take a look around http://www.earthcam.com/ to find lots more.

5. Put on some music! Still have 45's and LP's? Old CD's? Enjoy some music from your younger days!  Do you still remember how to do The Hustle? Can you recall the words to "Don't Worry, Be Happy?"

6. Take a nap! It's the weekend, your chores are done - indulge yourself with an afternoon nap!

7. Pitch a tent in the backyard and camp out at home. Have a sing along. Tell ghost stories. Watch the sky for shooting stars so you can make a wish! Eat smores!

8. Watch a movie online. Youtube has a selection of free movies to stream.  Also check out Hulu!
Try a movies you've never seen - how about a campy, old, 1950's B movie?
Don't want to watch online? Some local libraries have cheap movie rentals available.  

9. Still want to get out? Go local! Visit a local museum and learn things about your home town you may never have known. Check out a Farmer's Market - many of them will be open this weekend and the strawberries are wonderful this year! Stroll through town and see if there are new shops to explore.

10. Play a game! Ever played badminton? Horsehoes? Outdoor, active games are fun and great exercise. You might even find these games on sale this week at your local department store!
Or try a board game - Monopoly and Scrabble are always favorites.
On a budget? You can pick up a deck of cards inexpensively at a dollar store and learn to play "rummy".

Whatever you decide to do - have a safe and enjoyable weekend!


Some Resources -

Learn to make smores - http://www.kraftbrands.com/honeymaid/smores/Pages/how-to-make-smores.aspx

Find lots of grilling tips - http://www.kingsford.com/







Want To Try Camping?

Pennsylvania State Parks is offering a First Time Camper Program! If you've never been camping, this is a great way to give it a try.

The cost is just $20 and includes two nights of camping, rental gear, and instruction from expert campers!


Get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors!


For more information - http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/first-time-camper/index.htm

Buttons, Blinkies, and Blankies

The Lessons of a New Blogger

I went googling for information on "buttons" for my blog. I'd noticed them on other blogs; some I knew were links to other blogs and web pages, but some were lovely victorian drawings or pictures with nice statements like "live for today."
One of the first places I found on my blog button search was a site called  The Cutest Blog On The Block. When I looked at the site, I let out a Homer Simpson "doh!" noise because I hadn't known what that site was about; I'd noticed their sites button on quite a few blogs and I thought it was an "award." (So, I'm a new blogger!) I'd even looked at some of those blogs more closely to try to figure out why someone had given them an award for being "cute"!

A New Word

I looked around the site for buttons and then I discovered "blinkies." I'd seen a lot of "blinkies" but hadn't given them much thought. I didn't even realize they had an actual name. Intrigued, I went on an internet blinkie search. There were blinkies with phrases, picture blinkies, cartoon blinkies - blinkies of every kind. I even found sites for blinkie collectors!

Now I just had to have a blinkie for my blog; but maybe something small, and not too annoying. I decided to search for "welcome blinkies." I didn't find exactly what I had in mind - I wanted something happy.
So I searched for "happy blinkies" - a couple of times. But the search engine seemed to want me to search instead for "happy blankies." I'd type in "happy blinkies" and it would ask, "did you mean to search for "happy blankies?"

Eventually, curiousity led me to click on "happy blankies" just to see if there was such a thing - yep. There are indeed "happy blankies" .

The search ends for the day

I ended my search at that point - it was starting to all sound like baby talk. All the blinkies, and blankies and happy blinkies and happy blankies was getting to me - I was beginning to have a tantrum, need a ba-ba, and be overcome with a desire to play with my toes.

If At First You Don't Succeed

Later, I returned to my blinkies discovery mission and found information on how to make them, and even blinkie generators!


Blinkie Text Generator at TextSpace.net

I made the above blinkie at Text Space


A Big Bright Blinkie!

I made the above blinkie at http://www.animated-gifs.eu/animations.htm#blinkies


Other Resources -

Making Blinkies - Animated Sigs and Tags

Tutorial: Make a Blinkie In Photoshop CS

And now I will return to the search for a lovely "welcome" button for my blog....



Update: I found the pretty "welcome" button located at the top right sidebar at Shabby Blogs!






Help Feed The Hungry!

This is wonderful! Just buy participating General Mills products and then enter a code found on the box to help feed hungry families. Check it out -

http://www.outnumberhunger.com/

Webcams and Empty Nest Syndrome

When I saw the two balls of white fluff huddled together in the corner of a wooden box, it was love at first sight - I had discovered the owlets known as "Maggie" and "Boomer." I watched them on Ustream, checking in daily - sometimes several times per day - to see what they were doing. When my insomnia had me up late in the night I'd watch them move around the nest box, and listen as they made little noises while they waited for "Mom" or "Dad" to deliver a tasty treat. I fretted, like a mother hen (!?) over whether or not they were getting enough to eat!  

My addiction to "Maggie" and "Boomer" only increased when I visited the blog about them - there were videos, updates on how many treats they'd received in the night, and still photos of the "babies."

For weeks I've watched the little owlets, and in that time they've gone from wobbly fluff balls, to almost full- grown owls. Just recently, when they were nearing the time when barn owls usually make their first trip outside the nest box, I felt like a distant owl "mom" as I watched late in the night hoping to see their first adventure into the world. At one point little "Maggie" peeked out of the box, bobbing her head around to see what was "out there." I cheered silently, "Come on Maggie! You can do it!"  She almost made it out before she retreated back to the safety of a cozy corner. I stayed awake, watching and waiting, until I couldn't keep my eyes open!

The next morning when I read that later that night both owlets had made it to the outside, I felt like I'd missed baby's first step.

Now, it won't be long before the little owlets leave the nest to make their way in the world. I will miss watching them! I thought briefly that they could just stay in the nest and never leave. It's comfortable and safe in the nest; the parents bring them their food. They could live right there like that forever...
but then they would never achieve their full potential as adult owls.
And at that moment, I understood in a small way, what it must feel like to experience "empty nest syndrome."





Hot Pink Chicken

I've been watching too many episodes of the Food Network show "Chopped". 
It is addictive to watch as the chefs take mystery ingredients and turn them into culinary masterpieces. But at some point, I ceased to be an observer and became an armchair chef. I started thinking, "I could do that. Grab a few ingredients and turn them into something wonderful."

I should've stayed in my armchair.

I'd bought a pack of boneless chicken breasts on sale ($1.99 per pound - great stock up price!);  I'd been craving fruit, and I'd bought a can of pineapple. So, when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner one night I thought, "chicken, pineapple... ha! Sweet and sour chicken!"
But I'd never made homemade sweet and sour chicken and wasn't sure what else the recipe called for, so I went online to find out - there were a lot of recipes!
As usual for me, though, I decided to not follow a particular recipe - I read what the basic ingredients are and then wing it.

With the ingredient ideas in mind, I headed for the kitchen, strutting like a "Chopped Champion," ready to attempt sweet and sour chicken.
After cutting up the chicken and a green pepper, I grabbed a bowl and started on the sauce.
"Pineapple juice...check. Vinegar...check. Sugar....check" and I tasted it. Too sweet.
More vinegar.
Too sour.
More pineapple juice.
Too sweet.
"It needs a little something else."
I added a little bit of diced onion to the chicken and green pepper frying in the skillet.

Some recipes called for soy sauce, some didn't. I added a few shakes and tried it again. The sauce tasted good, but the color was ugly; I was used to a nice red sweet and sour sauce. In some of the recipes people had used ketchup to color their sauce, but after finally getting the mix to taste right, I didn't want to upset it's balance by adding flavorful ketchup. I used the alternative - red food coloring.
Drop, drop into the bowl and stir.
"I wonder how much I should put in?" Drop.
Drop.
"The sauce is usually really red"
Drop.
Drop. Drop. Drop.

I tossed some pineapple into the pan with the chicken and veggies and prepared to finish the sauce.
The last ingredient I needed was cornstarch - which I didn't have. I substituted flour, stirred the mix vigorously, and added it to the pan.
Too much flour! As soon as the cold liquid hit the hot pan, it turned to batter!
Trying not to panic, I stirred in some water to loosen up the concoction. That worked okay, but then I watched in amazement as my lovely, pale chunks of chicken absorbed the red food coloring - and turned a shade of hot pink! 
"Oh, my goodness!" I said aloud as I stirred and stared at my pink chicken.
Then the sauce transformed...into gravy...into a color which I think may have been mauve.

I made some instant rice - I followed the directions on the box exactly - and then served up my odd dish....

Ah, those talented chefs on "Chopped" make it look soooo easy!
But if you ever come to my house for dinner, you may get treated to an unusual meal of hot pink chicken in mauve gravy over wonderful rice.

We could eat it in the living room.

while sitting In the armchairs

and watching "Chopped."



I'm Back - I Hope!

I'm back!

With the Spring cleaning and early Spring yardwork well under control, I am hoping to start posting regularly again!