Monthly Archives: August 2012

Plumber Buts

Living room or plumbing supply warehouse

Living room or plumbing supply warehouse?

The bathrooms are done! This being our third major plumbing project in less than a year, I have a few things to say about our plumbers. Read my column at Angie’s List to learn why each of my plumbers has a big but.

We still have to add a few accessories, and the final electrical inspection is today, but for the most part, DONE. Now that my living room no longer looks like this, it’s time to start thinking about a cushy couch, maybe a relaxing chair and a coordinating rug and then we start saving for college again.

Of course that last line is a joke. What middle class family can afford college these days? We opened accounts for the boys practically at birth and if we’re lucky, those funds could get them through a year of school.

But I digress. My main point is that I hope we can coast for a while and put our time and energy into planning things other than home improvements. What? Oh, hello two cars in the driveway each with more than 100K miles on them.

Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite. We Have New Mattresses!

Serta Pefect Sleeper, Lasalle

The Teen’s new Serta mattress.

So the boys are at sleepaway camp in the Poconos and we get an email. Bedbugs have infiltrated their camp. Okay, not the whole camp. In fact the bugs were not spotted in either of my boys’ cabins (they brought in a drug bedbug-sniffing dog and everything), but still they were found in one or two bunks. With three lovely new Serta mattresses in the house, I needed to prevent a bedbug invasion. Once those little critters get in, it’s near impossible to get them out and I didn’t want my kids to get bitten fabulous new mattresses to get ruined.

I told the boys to leave their pillows at camp. One boy brought his pillow home, and the camp sent us the one that was left behind.

I told my younger son to leave his sleeping bag at camp because it’s a cheap little kid model that was destined for our garage sale pile, anyway. He brought it home. My older boy, the one with the new, adult-size sleeping bag, left his behind. He said this was because on packing day it disappeared from the spot it had been hanging in all session long and by the way, their campout was rained out so he never used it. The camp sent it to us with the pillow.

The camp also sent us, under separate cover, a pair of gym shoes my younger boy left behind. I’m pretty sure my shipping bills exceed the cost of the items.

But back to those bedbugs, the hypothetical ones that might have hitchhiked their way back to Chicago. I was going to protect my new mattresses at almost any cost. I scrapped my idea of wearing a giant plastic bag over my clothes when I greeted my boys at the airport. That seemed a little extreme. Instead, I brought a set of clothes for my boys and had them change in the car.

The clothes they’d been wearing went into a plastic bag in the trunk. I would have gone straight to a laundromat, but the one near our house was already closed for the day. Instead, everything went into our detached garage and as DH settled in the house with the boys, I began unpacking. I created piles of sheets, towels, shorts, undies, t-shirts and socks and bagged up each pile where it sat until I was able to wash it.

We turned up the temperature on our water heater and washed everything, no matter how delicate, on a long, hot cycle. After each load finished the wash, it went into the dryer for another long cycle (55-60 minutes) on hot. The items, even a stuffed animal, all survived the heat, but if there were any bedbugs, they would have been killed.

My younger son packed in a soft-sided duffle, which I put through the wash along with my older guy’s backpack. Both pieces came out fine. My older boy packed in a rolling duffle bag with metal parts that can’t make it through the wash, and has been sitting in a garbage bag in the garage. Assuming a family of chipmunks is not making its home in there, I’m going to try this anti-bed bug technique from Real Simple before I bring it back in the house.

So far, so good.

As a Serta Ambassador I want to tell you a little more about what I’m trying to protect.

My teen has a twin Serta Perfect Sleeper LaSalle with a plush top. (pictured above)It rests atop his already high platform bed and I jokingly refer it to is the “prince and the pea” mattress. I practically need a ladder to climb up on to it, it’s so deep and plush.

Serta icomfort "Prodigy"

His room is big enough for two beds, so he got to keep the old one. Sleepover time!

My tween is resting easy on a twinXL iComfort Prodigy. Unlike my fancy iComfort with the motion perfect base, which you can see here, his bed rests on a standard boxspring. Serta’s “cool action memory foam” is perfect for kids like him who tend to “sleep hot.” The mattress had a bit of “factory” smell, but that dissipated after we allowed it to air out.

The mattresses were delivered shortly before the boys left for various summer programs and camp, so they are just now truly settling in to them. And if we can get the boys to bed with lights out at a reasonable hour, they’ll be refreshed and ready for school each morning. Sweet dreams, indeed.

On a related note, Serta will be hosting a Twitter party (#Serta) on Tuesday, August 28 from 8-9 PM EST to discuss sleep tips, sleep habits and sleep struggles as we start a new school year. Join the conversation next Tuesday, as Serta Blog Ambassadors, @AudreyMcClellan and Vera @VeraSweeney lead the chat.

This post was written as part of my role as a Serta ambassador. I am compensated for my role, but all opinions are my own.


My Lady Garden and the One in Our Yard

lettuce crop

lettuce in the spring

The hot summer and our bathroom renovations dragged on and both depleted my energy and the will to blog about the house. I’ll whine blog about that later. My gardening philosophy is throw a few seeds (or starter plants from the nursery) in the ground, say a prayer and water as needed. The results are usually decent. DH really owns the garden here. It started out as a joint project, but I got pushed out. Or maybe I jumped ship as he was all too serious about it.

I did have a lady garden, though.

At any rate, with our warm spring, he planted early lettuce and it grew like gangbusters. We ate like happy bunnies. The results since then have been, uh, mixed. We were thrilled to pull our first carrot, tiny as it was. I should say that I’m not sure what variety he planted (the baby kind?) and that the soil might have been too packed too allow for optimal growth.


home grown carrot

first carrot

That was back around June. Yesterday, the Ukrainian grandma next door brought us these:

home grown carrots

They looked like normal carrots! What’s her Old World secret? We’ll never know; she doesn’t speak English.

She’s got a bumper crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and pretty much everything else she planted.

We’ve harvested a handful of sunflower seeds, two small red cabbages, 3 cukes and barely any tomatoes. Though we do have some promising Brussels sprouts growing. I’m most disappointed about the tomatoes. I love fresh Romas. DH likes variety: yellow tomatoes, peach tomatoes, purpleish tomatoes- he’s harvesting a few of each. But I don’t want a fuzzy orange tomato that’s sweet like a peach. I want a nice plump Roma. Guess which plant is not producing?

Oh well, it’s our first garden. There’s room to improve next year. Besides, the weather has cooled a bit and the season’s not over yet, so who knows what surprises Mother Nature may have in store for us?