Browsing Tag: our house


    Goodbye, Paper Towels

    July 24, 2022

    We did a little thing here at Casa McGee that I think and hope is both good for our wallet and good for the environment.

    For years, we’ve gone through paper towels at an alarming rate. We’ve used paper towels for pretty much anything and everything. We’ve used them to clean up spills, of course. We’ve also used them in place of napkins and hand towels. We use them to cover foods that needed a cover in the microwave.

    I mean, we used them for just about everything.

    When you buy Bounty or Kirkland paper towels at Costco, you get 12 rolls, and we’d go through a case about every six weeks. The cost would usually be $20 (for Kirkland) to $30 (for Bounty) per case, so let’s call it $25 per case. So $25 per case, and a case every six weeks … if my math is right, that’s a little more than $200/year on paper towels.

    Well, earlier this summer we made a little change. There was an article in Consumer Reports where one of the magazine’s writers confessed that he, too, was a serial paper towel user. But he bought a couple dozen white washcloths and started using them in just about every instance where he’d normally use a paper towel.

    So we decided to give it a try. We now have this little two-shelf rack right next to the sink — same place the paper towels used to be — with 25 white washcloths. Total cost at Target was something like $16.

    We use the washcloths as napkins. We use them to wipe and dry countertops and dishes that don’t go through the dishwasher. And then we wash and reuse them.

    We still use paper towels for things that involve, say, chicken — don’t want raw chicken to touch a washcloth, don’t want raw chicken juices to soak around the washing machine as we clean the washcloths, etc.

    So far, we’re now using one roll of paper towels every two weeks … or three every six weeks. Quite a change from 12 every six weeks. So we’ll end up spending about 75% less on paper towels every year, and we’ll be putting a lot less paper towels into the trash, too.

    Maybe not a huge deal, but it still feels like the right thing to do.

    Featured, Miscellany

    “Plant Yourself Here”

    November 27, 2011

    You may already know that Cari and I are building a new home and expect to move in early next year; late February/early March is the plan. (It should be noted that the builders are torturing me — they haven’t begun yet! Ack!)

    We’ll be putting our current home on the market right after the new year, and we’ll want/need to sell it as quickly as possible to get the timing right with the new home being finished and ready for move-in.

    Since I’m not a real estate agent, and since I’m married to one, we’ve already agreed that Cari is in charge of the selling process for this house. She knows home staging better than me. She knows what buyers are looking for better than me. And so on, etc., etc., etc.

    However, I made one small contribution to the effort this weekend.

    I was doing yardwork and needed to clean up the little tomato garden in the back yard. It died a couple weeks ago when the temperatures went down into the teens/20s.

    So, as I was pulling out the dead plants and throwing out all of the unripe tomatoes that had fallen to the ground, I had a thought: Don’t dismantle the garden space itself. Leave the little fence up and keep the tomato plant cages in there — like this:


    My logic? The buyers will come to the house and when they inspect the backyard and see the garden like this, they’ll think things like…

    springtime … new beginnings … growth … planting … plant ourselves here!

    And so maybe this little subconscious thing will help encourage them to buy our house. That’s what I’m thinking will happen. Cari doesn’t really see it the same way I do, though. But that’s okay. I don’t need any credit for outside-the-box ideas like this.


    Homegrown Tomatoes FTW

    August 19, 2011

    It sure as heck took long enough, but was it ever worth it. We planted tomatoes way back on May 29th, and last night I was finally able to slice into the first one that we picked.

    How delicious does this look???


    It tasted every bit as good as it looks, too — the perfect topping for a big, juicy hamburger.

    And I don’t think I ever mentioned my garden growing gizmo that I “installed” a couple weekends ago, did I?

    See, tomato plants grow way out of control — tall and wide. And one of our tomato plants started growing out so far that it was going over the little gate/barrier and out above the main yard. That’s where Sparky could reach it, and where it would get in the way as Sean cuts the lawn, etc.

    I wanted to make sure the plants grew taller than they grew wide. So I built this little contraption:


    I put a 10-foot-long 2×4 across the top of the garden space and hammered it into the fencetop on both sides. Then I drilled a little hole in the bottom of the 2×4 so that a small hook could fit in there. Down on the tomato plant, I put a cable tie around the “offending” branch. Then I connected the cable tie and the hook with some string, making it short enough to lift the branch up so it would grow up and not out.

    I’m not much of a green thumb or a handyman, so this was quite a project and accomplishment for me.

    Thanks in advance for your recognition of my gardening awesomeness. Come visit in a month or so and I’ll say “thanks” by giving you a delicious tomato.


    We have tomatoes!

    July 10, 2011

    tomatoesIt’s been about six weeks since I planted a small tomato garden in the backyard, and I’m thrilled to report that we have our first two little tomatoes! (see one at the top and another at the bottom of the photo)

    Spotted these two yesterday on the front plant, which is growing like gangbusters. The plant behind it got off to a better start, but it’s not nearly as big right now. Don’t know if it needs more water, less water, or who knows what.

    All I know is that we’re about a month away from having our own tomatoes, which is even cooler than normal considering this article that Cari shared with me:

    The Troubled History Of The Supermarket Tomato

    Don’t say you never learn anything here on, that’s all I’m saying!


    Tomato Garden, Take 2

    May 29, 2011

    After the rousing success of last summer’s tomato-growing adventure, we’re back at it again this summer.

    Something came over me yesterday. After finishing up some work in the front yard, I went around back and dug up a 5×5 section of the lawn in the far corner. (By the way, earth is really heavy when you’re trying to move it across the yard.) Broke out the hoe and rake to get the dirt ready, cleaned out a bunch of rocks and pebbles, aligned the sprinkler head right next to it, then went to the store to buy two tomato plants and some barriers to keep Sparky out.

    The final result? A mini-tomato garden like this:


    I’ll tell my folks about this next time we’re on the phone, but they may pass out. I’m the least “green thumb” person around. So, to not only grow our own tomatoes two summers in a row, but to also build my own little mini-garden from scratch in the backyard? They’ll wonder who took their real son away.

    On the other hand, they know how much I love tomatoes so maybe it won’t be such a surprise.


    Best Buy = Clueless, But My Office Upgrade Survived

    December 28, 2010

    Three weeks ago today, on December 7th, I bought a new TV at Best Buy for my office. The one I bought is an LG brand, 32LE5400. It had all the things I wanted:

    • 1080p
    • 120 hz refresh rate
    • built-in Internet connectability
    • right size for my office
    • right brand — either Samsung or LG

    It was also

    • the top-rated 32-inch TV in the most recent issue of Consumer Reports
    • regularly $900, but on sale for $600 — about $200-$400 less than comparable models, and since I had $240 in Best Buy gift cards, my out-of-pocket cost was $360
    • the max resolution that my Mac Mini can support, allowing me to use it as a computer monitor, too

    The one thing it wasn’t was in stock. I didn’t want the shelf display model, so I placed a special order and Best Buy said a new one wouldn’t be in until December 27th. And that’s where the story gets interesting…. Continue Reading…