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We have a couple of upgrades on deck for our exterior this year. We need a new roof, a fresh paint job, a repair to where the plumber cut away part of the house(!!!) to repair a faulty drain pipe. We also need to fix the broken gate and to dethatch the grass in the backyard (yeah, I’d never heard of it either, but we’ve got weirdly thick grass back there). This past weekend the weather was warm after a rainy week and we decided to knock out an easy task that we’d been tossing around for a long time. We live in an historic neighborhood where the houses are tightly packed and driveways were an afterthought. Ours is this narrow space between our home (on the right) and our neighbors’. And it’s getting kind of muddy. After any big rain I have to tiptoe to and fro and that area near the trashcans forms a giant puddle.

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Some friends told us about a local stone yard that has good prices (Jim Stone on Florida Blvd if you’re local), so Nick brought a truck home from work and first thing Saturday morning we drove out there and bought a cubic yard of pea gravel for $35. We paid for it, they dumped it into the the bed of the truck with a bucket loader, and we were on our way home. Easy peasy! Back at the house we backed the truck up into the driveway and Nick shoveled it out, moving the truck gradually back toward the street every few minutes so he could distribute the gravel evenly. I came behind him and raked it a bit to even it out but didn’t stress over perfection. It took under an hour. Bonus: Jack thought it was a blast.

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It’d probably be prettier if we’d leveled the ground beneath first so that the grass didn’t show through high spots, but whatever. It’s not muddy, it’s not so deep that you sink in and get rocks in your shoes (hate that!) and Jack thinks it is seriously so much fun to pile rocks in a bucket and carry them around, dump them back out, etc. I’ve always felt bad that we didn’t have a big, flat, paved driveway for him to play with ride-on toys but the rocks are pretty fun.

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It’s rainy and cold again this week but I don’t have to worry about getting my shoes all muddy on my way to the car. It’s the little luxuries in life, I tell ya.

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Not to mention how much Jack enjoys it.

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So if you’ve been thinking of filling in your driveway or a low spot on your property, or even wondered about making a rock box for your kid, check out your local stone yard! It was really cheap and easy and makes me happy every time I come home.

So, remember how my washing machine broke on New Years’ and a few weeks later I got a great deal on a “new” (to me) pair of high efficiency machines? And then the new washer didn’t work? Well then we waited like a month for the part to come in, then another week to get it installed, only to learn that we didn’t even need that part but the good news is that WE NOW HAVE A WORKING WASHER! After two full months of living a washer-less existence the simple luxury of an appliance that washes clothes in my own home is not lost on me.

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We definitely had a lot of help getting through this little bump in the road. Our friends Emily and Gina both helped us get a great deal on the machines and get the washer repaired at very little cost to us. This would have been an absolute nightmare if we’d bought these same machines on craigslist, but since Emily got them through her job we were able to get discounted parts and service. And our friends Cassie and Nic let us do laundry at their house for the past two months. Seriously, Cassie gave me permission to come wash clothes anytime. Their washer and dryer are on their enclosed back porch so I’d often stop by to toss a load in the washer while they were at work or still sleeping on weekends without them even knowing I was there. It was such a generous gesture that was so immensely helpful. So anyway, I wanted to do something to thank both families for helping us out while we were washer-less (did I mention that it was two months? That’s a long time to go without an appliance you’ve become accustomed to!).

laundry thank you gift

I gathered together a framed print I already had (from this artist), some lavender dryer bags and hand soap, some pretty kitchen towels, and a mesh laundry bag to wrap it all up in. Total cost: about $15 each. I piled everything neatly in the bag and then tied it up with some twine.

laundry themed gift bag

 

I am not that great with gifts and don’t do things like this nearly as often as I should but these friends went out of their way to do us huge favors and I really wanted to thank them. I’m actually kind of wishing I’d bought a third set of everything for myself! I love lavender and those towels would look so cute in my kitchen.

Oh, and happy Mardi Gras! We are staying close to home today but rest assured that the carnival spirit is alive in my heart.

When I first started talking about updating my kitchen one of the things I mentioned was that the two drawers next to the stove, especially the one on the left where we keep our silverware, had seen better days. If this set of cabinets is not original to the house they’re at least really, really old and this drawer in particular left a smattering of sawdust in the cabinet underneath every time it was opened or closed. You can see it circled in this old photo.

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I figured that I’d need to replace the drawers altogether, but a reader commented on that post suggesting some sort of nylon tape that solved a similar problem in her kitchen. A few weeks later I got around to looking and found a similar product on Amazon** (I have a Prime membership so I try to stick to items that are eligible for free two day shipping and the one she linked to wasn’t). It arrived with absolutely no instructions, but we figured it out through deductive reasoning and common sense.

Polyethylene drawer tape

We just emptied and removed each drawer, then peeled the paper backing from the tape and applied it to the underside of the drawer where it made contact with the slides. The tape is clear but if you look closely you can see it in the photo below.

make old drawers slide smoothly

And over a week later: no sawdust!

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I’m so glad I was able to solve this problem without having to replace the drawers! Thank you so much, Mary, for suggesting it as I’d never heard of such a product. The only catch is that I had to buy 18 yards of it and I only used maybe two and a half. What should I do with the other 15 yards? Preemptively tape every drawer in the house? If you’ve got some drawers that could use a little rehab contact me and I’ll send you some. I’m 100% serious–you just pay shipping. I don’t want to throw the stuff out but I really don’t want to hang onto it for years hoping I’ll use it someday either.

**Amazon affiliate link. If you click on that link and make a purchase I will receive a small portion of the proceeds at no additional cost to you.

One of the dumbest things about our pantry is the large open area at the bottom. Jack liked to climb inside and shut the door, but in general it was just wasted space that invited chaos. See below.

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I mentioned yesterday that I bought a sheet of 3/4″ plywood with three projects in mind, and one of those projects was a new shelf for this lower area. I had Nick cut a piece to 22″ by 28″ inches for me and then I primed and painted it and a couple of pieces of scrap wood white. Then we just attached the scrap pieces to the pantry walls with some screws and set the shelf on top. I’m realizing looking at this photo that I probably should screw it down in at least one place because Jack is really into climbing lately and it could possibly tip forward. If you look closely you can see him trying to climb onto my back in the reflection of the large pot.

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I left the shelf empty for now because once I get the new doors put on I want to try putting the microwave there. I figure we’ll try it with an extension cord first to see how we like it and if it works then we can consider having an electrician install an outlet. If that doesn’t work out then it’s the perfect height to put baskets with sippy cups and toddler-approved plates and bowls and snacks.

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I also touched up the rest of the shelves and the frame of the pantry while I had the paint out. It looks so much better and already feels much more spacious without those bifold doors cramping the opening.

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I can definitely add this shelf to the list of projects that I can’t believe I waited so long to do. It was so easy and practically free since I needed the plywood for another project anyway.¬†What do y’all think about the idea of putting the microwave in the pantry? I really want to get it off the counter but Nick is hesitant.