5 Home Maintenance Tips to Save Money

Save Money

Save Money With Easy Home Maintenance
Save Money With Easy Home Maintenance

If you want to save money around money around the house, it is necessary to NOT overlook regular maintenance on your appliances.  Regular upkeep around the house is essential if you want your appliances and equipment to run efficiently and last longer.

Most of these are simple and undemanding projects that can easily be taken care of by anyone in just a few minutes.   The cost of these tasks is minimal, and far outweighs the consequences of neglecting.

Running Toilet

 

"Just jiggle the handle."
Fix a Running Toilet

“Just jiggle the handle.”  A running toilet can waste several gallons of water a day.  Over the course of a year, a toilet that is continuously filling can add up to several hundreds of dollars wasted on your water bill.

Most Likely it is One of Two Simple Fixes
1. The Chain

The Chain can often become unadjusted leaving it too long and catching under the flapper.  This will allow water to seep under the flapper and be constantly filling. This where jiggling the handle helps to move the chain out of the way and allow it seal properly.

The fix:

The chain is easily adjusted shorter.  There usually a hook type of the and chain with links.  The hook and chain attach the handle to the flapper. Just unhook the chain and make it short enough so it is taught, but still allows the flapper to shut all the way.

Save by replacing the cheap part
Toilet flapper valve
2. The Flapper is Old and Worn

It is also very possible that the flapper is old and worn. The flapper a piece of rubber that plugs the hole allowing water to fill the toilet bowl.  Rubber tends to corrode and/or build of slime and sludge.  This makes for a bad seal and your toilet will run.

The Fix:

Replace the flapper. Almost all hardware stores will stock universal toilet flappers.  These are easily removed and replaced, just a couple of hooks and the chain holding it in place.

HVAC and A/C System

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning is a major system that can eat up money quick.
Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning is a major system that can eat up money quick.

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning is a major system that can eat up money quick.  It is easy and simple to save on energy cost with some regular check-ups.FilterClean Filters

Keep the Filters Clean

Your HVAC system is a breathing machine.  If the system cannot breathe, then then it will have to work harder to do it’s job.  If it has to work harder, then it uses more energy.  Checking of the filters should be a regular routine, at least once a month.  HVAC filters are really cheap, just a few dollars, and easy to replace.

If you don’t change your filters, you’re asking to replace some of the most expensive parts sooner than you would have to.

Outside Condensing Unit

Just like with the filters, the outside unit needs to be checked frequently.  Often they are place in an inconspicuous side of the house that can be easily neglected.  Weeds can grow tall blocking the airflow, or dust and debris can clog the filtration.  Just make sure that the area is clean and the system can breathe.

Have a Monthly Checklist

A checklist is an easy way of making sure everything is checked and maintained on a regular basis.  I love checklists because I so busy sometimes and need a way to make sure things get done.  It also adds a bit of value to what I have done., kind like a sticker or a golds star.  It’s small , but makes a big difference and motivates me to do it again next month.

 

Clean Your Dryer Vent

Just like the HVAC system, the Dryer needs to breathe.  The easier it can breathe, the more efficient it will be.

Just like the HVAC system, the Dryer needs to breathe.  The easier it can breathe, the more efficient it will be.

Just like the HVAC system, the Dryer needs to breathe.  The easier it can breathe, the more efficient it will be. Meaning you save money.  Clean the lint screen before every load, and check the exhaust vent monthly for clogs.

Change the Direction of your Ceiling Fan

The direction of your ceiling fan should be changed depending on the season.
The direction of your ceiling fan should be changed depending on the season.

The direction of your ceiling fan should be changed depending on the season. That’s right, it’s not just for your preference.

Winter (Clockwise):

Setting your fan to turn clockwise, on the low setting, pulls the air up and circulates the warm air so there are no cold spots. A room will feel warmer and be easier to keep warm

Summer (Counter Clockwise):

Setting your fan to turn clockwise in the summer will push the air down and cool your skin as it gently blows on you.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of Our Favorite YouTube Videos

Delilah’s First YouTube Video

Delilah loves this kid and his videos

Ryan Toys review has become as regular as My Little Pony around here.  I am not sure why, but this kid and his videos totally entertaining for both Delilah and Alex.

This page will be updated on a regular basis, so check back frequently.

 

The Crude Brothers

These guys are great entertainment.

A Fun Food for Spring

Delilah helped make fruit spring rolls
Delilah helped make fruit spring rolls
Fruit Spring Rolls
Fruit Spring Rolls

Fruit Spring Rolls

For Easter dinner/lunch I decided on Fruit Spring Rolls.  I wanted to do something different, interesting, and fresh.  I figured that fresh fruit would add to the feel of spring.  It was also a lot fun getting Delilah involved and it was really exciting for her to feel the different texture of the rice paper.

This recipe is great fun for kids, requires a bit of technique, but as long you have a bit of patience it is a enjoyable treat.

Ingredients

1 Package of Rice Paper

1 Package of Rice Noodles

Fruits of your choice

Dipping Sauce

1 lime

1/4 cup of Honey or Agave Nectar

1 Pinch of Salt

Fresh Mint

Directions

Start with preparing your fruit.  Julienne the fruit into thin uniform slices. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be perfect.  Just try to keep the slices thin about the size of matchsticks.  I put all of the different ingredients in separate dishes so I can easily build my wraps, like an assembly line.

Cook the rice noodles.  Boil a pot of water, remove from heat and place noodles into pot for 5 minutes, gently stir.  Strain the noodles and place in a bowl or pot of cold water.  Without the water, they may stick to each other.

Time to assemble.

Fill a large bowl with hot water.  Place one sheet of rice paper into the bowl and wait about 30 seconds, then remove.  Place the rice paper onto a plate or cutting board.  Be careful not to fold it onto itself, they get sticky pretty quick.  Tip: Wet the plate or cutting board beforehand, the rice paper tends to stick.

Now stack your fruits in the center of the rice paper in a nice neat little pile, about the size of a small eggroll. Fold the bottom section of the rice paper over the fruit pile and lightly tuck under.  Next, fold the sides over and roll to complete the wrap.  Set your spring roll onto a platter.

Repeat the process until you have completed all of your spring rolls.  Be careful not to let them touch each other on the platter, they will stick.

Dipping Sauce

Combine in a bowl, zest and juice of 1 lime, honey, chopped mint, and salt.  Stir or whisk to incorporate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pork Wellington

 

Pork Wellington
Pork Wellington
Pork Welling with smashed potatoes, asparagus, and au jus
Pork Welling with smashed potatoes, asparagus, and au jus

An Amazing Pork Wellington Dinner

I love food and am always keeping an eye out for something exciting and different.  I had seen recipes for Beef Wellington and had always wanted to try it, but is a bit more expensive than I was willing to work with.  So, I thought I could possibly make an amazing pork dinner by changing the meat and making pork wellington.

Beef Wellington calls for filet steak (a whole tenderloin cut) and some other expensive ingredients, such foie gras.  The meat is covered with puff pastry and baked.  The pastry keeps the meat moist and adds a nice crispy crust.

Pork loin is way less expensive, but still very tender and juicy. Here is my take on Pork Wellington.  It is basically my version of several recipes that I had seen.

Ingredients:

1 Pork Tenderloin (usually comes vacuum sealed in a marinade, try to find one without the marinade.  It doesn’t need to taste like teriyaki or whatever flavors they infuse with the meat.)

3 to 5oz Prosciutto (enough to wrap the entire tenderloin)

1 Egg

Handful of Spinach

6.5oz Garlic and Herb Allouete Cheese

1 Sheet of Frozen Puff Pastry (thawed)

Handful of Flour

Salt/Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Trim the silverskin (thin skin around the meat, it may come already trimmed) and butterfly (slice the tenderloin lengthwise, but not all the way through so it opens like a book.)

Spread cheese onto the tenderloin as if you were making a sandwich.  Place handful of spinach on top.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold to make a pork, cheese, and spinach hoagie type of thing.

Next is to wrap the tenderloin with the prosciutto.  Set aside.

Whisk egg in a bowl.

Dust clean countertop with flour and roll out puff pastry to about 12 inches square.  Place the tenderloin in the center of the pastry and wrap like burrito.  Fold over the section closest to you.  Brush on some of the whisked egg onto the edges and where the pastry will be touching.  This will act as a sort of glue. Then fold over the sides and roll over to complete the wrapping.

With the seam of your pork burrito on the bottom, make some thin cuts with a knife to create hash marks on the top. Brush the top with the egg wash. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145°F.

When done, remove from oven, cover lightly with foil and let rest for 10 of 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

Saffron Poached Pear with Vanilla IceCream

with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce
Saffron Poached Pear

Saffron Poached Pear

I like to get fancy with my cooking sometimes.  One of my favorite desserts is poached pears.  It’s not too sweet, savory, and delicate, yet bold.  This is quite an easy recipe to make and not very time consuming. It looks impressive, tastes excellent, and is an easy way to make a simple dessert seem sumptuous.  Perfect for a special occasion or when serving guests.

Here’s the Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 Pears, peeled, but leave the stems on Continue reading “Saffron Poached Pear with Vanilla IceCream”

Overwhelmed and Stressed Parent: 10 Tips to Help Cope

Overwhelmed and Stressed

Parenting is a challenge.  Especially if you work a full-time job.  Kids are always needing something, always making a mess, and almost always doing something to get on your nerves.  Not to sound like an ungrateful parent,  I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but it can be frustrating and stressful.  Laundry piling up, screaming kids, dirty dishes in the sink, spouse frustrated and upset because the house is mess.  This stuff snowballs pretty quick, any parent could easily find themselves overwhelmed and stressed.

As a parent, I have found that it is extremely helpful to have a schedule or routine of things to do throughout the day, or when I get home from work.  It is also gratifying to have time for myself in a quiet and clean house.

Here is a list of ten things that I do that make my life, and everyone’s lives a little bit easier:

1. FIND YOURSELF A HOBBY

A hobby is a great way of relieving stress and keeping the mind occupied.  By giving yourself a “me time”, you are connecting with yourself and providing an outlet for your frustration.  Like a form of meditation, this reduces stress and helps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.  Since this time is for you, you are more likely to give yourself a schedule and make sure you adhere to it

2. ALWAY BE PICKING UP AND PUTTING THINGS AWAY

There is no way that you and/or your spouse are going to keep the house in order by just picking up once or twice a day.  It may work if you are single or don’t have kids, but this will NOT work once you do.

A kids job (at least in my experience, is what they truly believe) is to ALWAYS have fun, be loud, and make messes.  Both of my children are very very good at their “jobs”, they could be considered masters.  But I digress, this must be countered by ALWAYS constantly trying to keep up.

I try to pick something up or put something away every time I walk into a room.  To wait until they go to bed or are done playing just does not work.  The messes simply get worse, take longer to clean up, and you will always feel overwhelmed.  Not to mention the stress on yourself or your spouse when he/she comes home to a messy house.

3. Fresh Diaper, Full Stomach

A baby will almost always sleep much better with a fresh diaper and full stomach.  Preferably in that order.  Don’t want to wake the baby to change a diaper, if he/she falls asleep while eating.

This one is pretty much common sense. But if you are a new parent, common sense sometimes goes out the window.  Screaming baby, sleepless nights, about a million new changes to your life.  It can be stressful and difficult to think sometimes.

4. Don’t give your kids a bath

Don’t bathe your kids (at least not every single day). Regardless of what you may think or hear, many sources suggest that a bath everyday may actually be bad for your child (and yourself for that matter).  Bathing removes the body’s natural oils that nourish and protect the skin.  By skipping a bath day, you can have more time to relax, a have fun with your kids, cook a more complicated meal, or just have one less thing to worry about today.

5. Keep the kitchen sink empty

This goes along with picking things up.  I cannot stress enough though. The more often you clean up the little messes, the less stressful everything is at the end of the day.  These things don’t just sit there waiting to get taken care of and you can easily find yourself overwhelmed.  With kids, messes pile up like Tetris.  In my house, there are times where literally there is a new bowl or cup or utensil…or stuffed bear wearing a tutu, every five minutes in the sink.

6. Plan a meal ahead of time

I really love food and like to get fancy sometime, but don’t always have the time.  I try to plan our meals at least one meal ahead.  A lot of our meals require thaw time or lengthy cook times, such as crock pot meals, or just plain take time to cut and prep.

Planning ahead and starting at the previous meal allows for saved time and healthier menu plans. Doesn’t take long to prepare frozen fish sticks, French fries, and Jell-O cups. But how healthy is that? It doesn’t take much extra effort to skin some potatoes and carrots while cleaning up after lunch. Then to throw them in the crock pot with a roast and onion soup mix.  Add some beef stock and get on with your day.

7. Always have snacks Prepared

My kids both eat like teenagers.  They are food freaks.  Just like most kids, they can picky.  Thankfully they don’t complain about eating their fruits and veggies.  Delilah (my 5-year-old) often asks for a snack minutes after she finishes a meal.

I have found that keeping snack foods that are prepared ahead of time is a real time saver.  My kids may have less patience than others, but when they’re hungry…they’re “starving!!”  I am a lot less stressed and a lot less frustrated with them, if I prepare snacks and meals on my time, not theirs.

Furthermore, I always try to keep their diet balanced by keeping “junk” snacks down to a minimum.  It’s much quicker and easier to give your child a handful of potato chips than to get out a cutting board and knife, wash and peel and slice some veggies. And then you have to clean up, ugh.  But if it’s already been prepared ahead of time (like when you are prepping the next meal), then it’s all gravy.

8. Be prepared for the worst

Give a one year old a full cup (not a sippy) of water and you can imagine what might happen.  Not to say you shouldn’t do it, but knowing what to expect and being prepared helps to prevent a lot of needless stress.

By always being prepared for what your child MIGHT do, you may better appreciate what he/she DOES do.  This way you are turning the tables on what I see a lot of other parents do, fear the unexpected and be thankful for the expected.  Instead, thinking this way trains your mind to be more aware of the consequences of what your child is getting into.  You can then be more appreciative of the surprises and more accepting of the already anticipated.

9. Schedule nap/bedtime

Having a set time for naps a bed has been an extremely useful tool to have in my parenting box.  Kids need to be guided.  That is what parenting is about.  A one year old may just fall asleep at 8 or 9 and nap throughout the naturally, but still needs the regular routine.  They will subconsciously know after a while and be more willing to go to sleep.

You can’t just say “it’s bedtime” and expect your child to understand and want to go to bed. Using several subtle hints leading up to bed helps to make things go a lot smoother.  Alex (my one year old) has always had trouble getting to sleep, here is a list of our routine leading up to his 8 o’clock bedtime:

  1. At 7, The lights are dimmed.
  2. At 730, Playtime is over, fresh diaper, and we sit down to relax with a quiet entertaining movie or tv show.
  3. Lights are dimmed a bit more and a warm bottle with blanket and pillow.
  4. Pretty much directly after bottle is time for bed

As long as this done every night, as mush as possible, he is more and more willing to go to sleep at bedtime. He is also learning to associate the dimmed lights and pillow and blanket with bedtime.

Delilah (my five-year old), on the other hand, has a later bedtime and doesn’t get tired.  She just passes out when runs out of gas.  So we also try to keep the routine going for her.  She just gets to stay up later than Alex.  I usually give her warning that our “couch time” is getting near and give her a countdown leading up  to it.

10. Say it and mean it

This one is the most important, and find myself slipping every once in a while to.  Say it and mean it.  Be stern, be strong, be a parent.  You are not your child’s friend, you can be fun and playful, but ultimately you are the parent, the boss, the leader.

You say “one piece of candy” and he/she whines and begs for more.  Do NOT let them win…EVER! The one time you give in and let your child have another piece of candy (or whatever they’re whining about) after you said no, is the time where they’re learning the most.  Your child has now learned “if I cry and keep begging, at some point I will get what I want”

From this moment on, your child will always be  hoping for the same scenario as last time.  The more you let them get away with it, the harder they will try next time.  Giving in and going back on what you already said is a very slippery slope and a very dangerous game.

 

 

 

 

 

Mead

My First Attempt at Making Mead

I love the color of the mead!
Spiced Mead

A Thought Turns into a Fun Hobby

This my not really have anything to with being a father or husband.  It is something I decided to experiment with.  Making mead, and other homebrews, is really turning into a fun hobby.   As a father and a husband, a man needs a hobby.

Last year I started making mead.  For those who don’t know what mead is, it’s essentially a wine made with honey instead of grapes.  My endeavor started out as just sort of a learning experience and experiment for myself.  Through this process, I myself and the whole family have learned a lot about wine, yeast, fermented beverages, and the whole science behind the process.

I started with this whole thing by looking for recipes on making my own root beer from scratch (still haven’t tried it yet). The recipes I had seen called for the use of a “ginger bug”, which I had no clue was.  So I had to look that up.  It’s basically a way of collecting and culturing yeast from the ginger and the air.  This in turn led me to reading about mead and how yeast would be cultured from the air, in a mixture of water and honey to produce a wine.

I had tried making my own ginger bug, for the root beer, and it was extremely easy. So as I read more about mead.  I found how simple it was and knew that this was something I could easily do.  All I needed was 3lbs of honey, water, a gallon wine jug, and my ginger bug. Easy.

 

mead
A variety of my first meads

So I tried it

But I got impatient.  It can take a few months for mead to be ready drink. So in the meantime, I made some other batches using more preferred methods.  I purchased few airlocks and some champagne yeast through Amazon. And researched some more.

I had some dried hibiscus flowers and thought I might use them.  While my first batch was fermenting, I started a hibiscus mead.  While I was waiting for that one to ferment, I decided to make a cyser (mead made with apple cider in place of water).  Since I like to make things from scratch as much as possible, I bought a bunch of apple and made my own cider.  I thought cherry and apple go well together I added cherries.  I also figured that mulling spices would  create a warming effect and nice flavor.

Long story short

Three months later I had a several one gallon jugs of homemade wine ready to taste and bottle.  After months of research and testing other wines out there, learning about what to look for in tasting wines and what makes it good, I was finally ready to taste my own.  And let me tell you, not to toot my own horn, they were simply amazing. I have a bit of a biased opinion, since I did make it myself, but an artist is also his own worst critic.  While trying to grade myself harshly, all but the very first batch came out to be some of best wine I have ever had!!!

mead
Multiple gallon jugs of mead

I was so pleased that I just had to make more!  This has definitely turned into a fun hobby. And my daughter now knows all about fermentation, yeast, carbon dioxide, and “yeast farts”, lol.