Inexpensive “Open Concept” Concept

For years, I dreamed of buying a four bedroom home with an “Open Concept” kitchen/dining/living room. I drug my husband to house after house. He hates to move and always found something wrong with each house.

After looking at a few houses, I started to appreciate my home because we keep it in good repair. If we get a scratch on the wall we fill it in and paint it with leftover matching paint.

The one thing I hated about our home was the dark windowless kitchen. There is a window over the dining area but the light never reached the sink when I was doing dishes.

We finally decided to cut a window in the wall between the kitchen and the front room. The front room has a large, floor-to-ceiling window that lets in a lot of light. (We did not install a window in the opening.)

I will never forget the moment when the contractor took off the second side of the wall. I was standing by the sink and the light flooded the room. I stood there staring. It was as if someone turned on a flood light.

The window is 42” high, (counter height), and 42” square.  The wall in the front room that we placed the window in is part of a hallway. We like the new arrangement of furniture better because we are no longer walking around furniture when we walk from the kitchen to the back of the house.

We call it the kissing window because I hang a kissing ball in it during Christmas. All year long, if my husband or I lean on the window we will get a kiss. My granddaughter, 1, even likes to get in on it…although one of us has to hold her.

This window made our kitchen and living room an “Open Concept”.

Dress Your Windows

We all know to caulk around the windows inside and out. We can further improve insulation with the window treatments. I put sheer curtains inside my window frames during the winter and the hottest months of the summer. I use spring pressure rods to hang them. You can also use cup hooks for lace curtains. It is just another layer between the glass and the inside air.

I have blinds, drapes and valances that reach nearly to the ceiling on every window. When the temperatures dip below zero I have three full layers of insulation on them. I can open the drapes completely during the nice days to let the sun warm the room. On overcast days, I keep them partly closed.

Another way I improve the insulation around the windows is to sew Velcro (hook and loop) tape on to the outside edges of the curtains or drapes. I use self-stick Velcro dots on the walls. I put the hook side on the walls and sew the loops side on the curtains. I paint the dots the same color as the walls and they are really not noticeable.  The result is drapes that seal along the edges.

Remember when purchasing drapes or curtains to look for insulated drapes with the energy efficiency seal. You can also insulate them yourself by sewing a white sheet to the top and sides.

I insulated these curtains by sewing a white sheet to the inside of them.

Take Responsibility For Yourself

“The thing that shows the man is his willingness to accept responsibility for himself and his actions. Only a tinhorn blames what he is on his folks or the times or something else besides himself. There  have been good men and great men in all periods of history, and they did it themselves….The ones who wind up on top are usually those with the most efficient life style.”  Louis L’Amour

That was the attitude that built the west. You don’t see that attitude today. Everyone is a victim. It is never their fault. They blame their folks, former bosses, the economy and just plain bad luck.

Every action has a consequence. If I overspend on groceries this week, I won’t have enough money to pay the electric bill. When I put something on the credit card I am spending next month’s money. There is no guarantee there will be a check next month.

If I gamble and write a check two days before I deposit my paycheck, I will be charged overdraft fees. I am much better off if I only spend the cash I have in hand now.

I have been unemployed for over four years. I had four weeks severance pay, but because I worked for a nonprofit organization, I did not qualify for unemployment. I worked there for over 24 years, so there was no unemployment from my former job available.

When you are faced with no income and are living on the income of your spouse, you tend to be much more frugal. I have a health issue that requires I stay in a highly protective environment. I won’t be able to go out and look for a job, much less work outside of my home. More money is not an answer available to me.

The answer? Living efficiently. It is up to me to not waste anything. I am constantly looking for tips to stretch my funds even further.

It is my responsibility. The buck stops here.

Are You Dressed for Fall?

Tomorrow is the first day of fall. the temperatures are finally starting to go down. Before you turn on the furnace, make sure you are dressing appropriately for the weather.

Dressing for the Weather in Layers


Over 80 Degrees – Sandals

Sleeveless Shirt & Shorts/Skirt (or)

Sleeveless Dress

70-79 Degrees – Sandals

Short Sleeves & Shorts/Skirt (or)

Short Sleeved Dress

60-69 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes, Light-weight Socks

Short Sleeves & Light-weight Pants (or)

Short Sleeved Dress & Pantyhose (or)

Short Sleeved Shirt, Skirt & Pantyhose

50-59 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes, Light-weight Socks

Long Sleeved Shirt & Light-weight Pants (or)

Long Sleeved Dress & Pantyhose (or)

Short Sleeved Shirt with a Jacket & Pants or Skirt/Pantyhose

Outerwear: Light-weight Jacket

40-49 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes & Medium-weight Socks

Long Sleeved Shirt under Short Sleeved Shirt & Jeans/Warm Pants/Skirt & Tights (or)

Two Long Sleeved Shirts & Jeans/Warm Pants/ Skirt & Tights (or)

Example: Long sleeved crew neck under a long sleeved V-neck shirt or Long sleeved button down shirt under a V-neck shirt.

Long Sleeved Shirt with Jacket & Jeans/Warm Pants/ Skirt & Tights (or)

Long Sleeved Dress with Jacket & Tights

Outerwear: Coat, Hat, Gloves


30-39 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes & Medium-weight Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt & Jeans/Warm Pants/Skirt & Tights (or)

Two Long Sleeved Shirts under a Short Sleeved Shirt & Jeans/Warm Pants/Skirt & Tights

Example: Long sleeved button down shirt over a turtleneck shirt and under a V-Neck Tee Shirt or A Turtleneck under a long sleeved crew neck under a V-Neck tee.

Outerwear: Winter Coat, Hat & Gloves

20-29 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes & Heavy Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt over a Long Sleeved Shirt & Jeans/Warm Pants (or)

Two Long Sleeved Shirts over a Turtleneck & Jeans/Warm Pants

Outerwear: Winter Coat, Hat, Scarf, Gloves, Boots (Carry your shoes)

10-19 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes and Heavy Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt over Turtleneck, Long John Shirt & Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants (or)

Two Long Sleeved Shirts over a Turtleneck and Long John Shirt

& Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants

Outerwear: Winter Coat, Hat, Scarf, Gloves, Boots (Carry Your Shoes)

10 Degrees and Below – Closed Toe Shoes and Heavy Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt over Turtleneck & Long John Shirt  under Jacket

& Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants (or)

Two Long Sleeved Shirts (Crew neck, V-Neck, or Button Down) over a Turtleneck and Long John Shirt under Jacket

& Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants

Outerwear: Winter Coat (Coveralls), Hat (Face Mask), Scarf, Gloves, Boots. (Take Extra socks & Gloves)

(You can always remove a layer if it warms up more than expected.)

Note: Clothes made with breathable polypropylene, (i.e. Under Armour, Dri-Fit, ClimaLite, Drylete, Vapor Dry, Technifine or Cool Max), should only be worn for exercising outdoors, shoveling snow, etc. If you wear it for normal indoor activities it will transfer any sweat to the next layer, which is very unattractive!

Broccoli for Baby Proofing?

My daughter-in-law had surgery and my granddaughter spent a lot more time with me than usual. I had to baby proof the house in a hurry! One of the best tricks was using the rubber band off of my fresh broccoli over the knobs on the doors of my china cabinet.  It is thicker and stronger than a regular rubber band.

Broccoli Rubber Band keeps baby out of cabinet

This Picture Had Three Lives!

I bought this picture for myself several years ago. I hung it in several rooms of my house. The last place I hung it was in my kitchen. A friend of mine, who attends my home group, always commented on how much he loved that picture.

The picture before I painted it the first time.

Three or four years ago, I was debating what to make for Christmas gifts for those who attended my home group. I thought of this picture. By that time, my friend had married, and I decided to paint the frame with their wedding colors. (I painted another frame for the other couple who attend my home group.)

The frame painted in their wedding colors.

They loved it. A few more years passed and they hung wallpaper in their dining room. They asked if I would paint it again to go with their new decor. I said, “Sure.” They picked up the acrylic paint to match the wall paper and we decided to just add black to bring out the design of the frame.

I was able to see it hanging on their dining room wall last month and it looks gorgeous!

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Replacing Elastic Rejuvenates a Garment

My nightgown has history!

I purchased it on clearance for $3.00 because the pants that went with it were missing. I purchased two others at the same time. It languished in my drawer for a couple of years. Then I had a brainstorm…cut the long sleeves down to short sleeves and wear them in the summer.

After I cut down the sleeves, I loved them. The length was perfect and did not tangle in my legs. It has been a few more years that I have worn them and I noticed two of them looked old, while the third one did not.  The only difference was the third one did not have a small strip of elastic in the bodice.

My nightgown before repair.

I ripped out the worn our elastic and sewed on another strip of the same size. It looked new again!

My nightgown after replacing the elastic.

I told my mother that I love to sew. She picked up a blouse at “Good Will” and really liked it…except the elastic was worn out on the sleeves. It had several rows of tiny elastic. I didn’t have any that small on hand. She decided I could use ¼” elastic in the middle. She was right.

She is one clever lady; buying clothes cheaply and having me alter them for her.

The Road Less Traveled….

As I was looking over my vacation pictures, I realized sometimes the best memories are made with unscheduled stops!

My mom was telling my brother about an article she had read about the oldest courthouse in America.

When she described it to my brother, he said, “That is just 3 miles from here. Do you want to go and see it?”

Of course, we said, “Yes!”

We loaded up those who wanted to see it and took off. We took pictures of all of the males in the stocks that were on the porch of the courthouse. My brother told me when he was called up for jury duty several years ago he actually had to report to this building. They are in the process off remodeling it as they built a new courthouse.

The oldest courthouse in America located in King William, VA.

As we were reading the names on a statue of those from King William who died in the civil war, we heard talking. A lady came out and told us there was a museum and she would love to give us a tour. There was a life-sized statue of one of the judges and she knew him when she was much younger.

After taking us through the museum, she took us to the restored courtroom. She let us take pictures sitting in the various seats.  I was surprised how small the courtroom was and the jury deliberating room was the same size as the judge’s chambers!

That’s me, trying to look like a stern judge!

We also went to a restored church that was a few miles away. In the article there were trees growing out of the collapsed roof. It was amazing to see and touch the wood that was hundreds of years old. Even more amazing was that we found the church unlocked!

The inside of the restored church. The trees are gone and a roof is on. I loved the wood on the ceiling.

We were able to tour both of these buildings and the museum for free.  It makes me wonder what things are just a few miles from my house.  What about yours?

Add to Your China Set

I enjoy hosting family dinners. My favorite times are when I use the china I received as a wedding gift from my husband’s grandmother. The only thing is it has 8 place settings and my family is growing.

I went to to see if I could get more. They have you take a photo of a dinner plate, front and back, and describe it including: plate style, background color, rim color, design and colors in the design. If they do not have it in stock, they have buyers who look at estate sales and garage sales for them.

They did not have my china in stock, but I hope to get more settings before my Christmas dinner.

My Apple Blossom china plate.

Banana Split for Breakfast

When I get a craving, like for a banana split, I try to make a healthy alternative. Last week I made a banana split breakfast:

One bowl of cooked Malto meal

One banana, cut up

Yogurt or Whipping Cream

I admit a dollop of yogurt would have been healthier, but I wanted the whipped cream. I use the real thing, not cool whip or dream whip. The whipped cream satisfied my craving for ice cream and the Malto Meal satisfied my chocolate craving.

Malto Meal with banana and whipped cream.