Want the newest Turn Right At Lake Michigan posts delivered straight to your inbox? Then enter your email below:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever.

So, literally, over a year ago I posted about how the overhead kitchen light went out.

And I think what was most shameful about all that, is that we then learned to operate that way, with an uplight we moved around the kitchen as needed. FOR A YEAR.

Divorce is hard. You let things go. Except I never really let things go, I just continue to be irritated by their lack of progress and feeling like my hands are tied and my frustration mounts until one day, after watching This Old House with my kids and then heading to ballet class, I decide I've had enough and I have a Home Depot credit card with my name on it so I'm going to go buy a mother effing light for the kitchen and install it because THIS IS NOT A WAY TO LIVE.

And then I did.

The kids were excited to go back to Home Depot -- I'd forgotten how familiar that place had become for them, for a minute. Kiedis was running around pretending to interview me as if we were on This Old House and asking me spot-on questions about what I was looking at and putting in the cart, that sort of thing. Tova was just happy to be in the behemoth cart with the two little seat areas for kids. She loves that thing and I hate pushing it but you know what, it beats lifting her in and out of a traditional cart any day, so I deal.

Sidebar: I just tried to find a picture of the kind of cart I'm talking about and I just discovered that apparently every damn Home Depot in America except mine has car-shaped kid carts? What the hell? Why don't we have those? My kids would be so freaking excited. I hate the tank-carts with the giant attachment on the back with the weird diagonal seats and the flimsy belts. We need car carts! Do you hear me, cart gods? Send the Home Depot in Beavercreek/Fairborn, OH some damn orange car-carts!


So we three trekked to Home Depot and I bought a light for the kitchen that was inexpensive and unoffensive and kind of maybe something I'd think about getting if I were able to actually do the kitchen reno we were supposed to before everything fell apart.

*deep sigh*

It may also be track lighting. Don't judge me.

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever. via turnrightatlakemichigan.com

Ignore those giant holes. They're from the old fixture and I was running out of daylight so I didn't bother to patch them.

It was kind of cool that the kids stood at the bottom of the ladder and handed things up to me and put things away for me -- so I can't say that I did this solely on my own, but this was my first attempt at hanging a light without another adult around. Score one, me. And I loved that they were so excited to help -- they've grown up around renovations, for the most part, but I'm glad to see them take interest in improving their surroundings. Like maybe somewhere in there, I did something right.

But of course, this small project was not without minor complications.

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever. via turnrightatlakemichigan.com

Like that the old fixture hid the fact that *if* there's a mounting box for a light, it's behind the drywall. So that made hanging the mounting bracket kind of ... fun.

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever. via turnrightatlakemichigan.com

But, with a little determination and, you know, faith, I got the little bugger securely up there.

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever. via turnrightatlakemichigan.com

And it's kind of pretty, if you ask me. Of course, I've been futzing with the direction of the lights a bit, but I have to be careful because the whole thing is metal and does get hot to the touch after bring on for a minute.

Also, sidebar: I didn't understand why, when I opened the box, there was a singular suction cup in with the screws and nuts. Ten minutes of trying to get the tiny halogen lightbulbs in (with much swearing) was enough to make a tiny lightbulb within my noggin go off.

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever. via turnrightatlakemichigan.com

Now I just have to try and not lose that thing. Lord help me.

I had been afraid when buying the light that it wouldn't be bright enough for the kitchen. I needn't have worried.

The Tiniest Bit Of Kitchen Progress Ever. via turnrightatlakemichigan.com

It's taken some getting used to, walking in to the kitchen, to have a brightness coming from above. Of course, as you can see a little, that there were still some dark spots lurking because the difference between a giant fluorescent light and three halogen spots is, you know, marked.

Good thing I planned for that.

But we'll get there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Snug.

So this is kind of a big announcement.

I am honored to say that I am a Blogger Guest Editor at The Snug, a new online DIY community geared towards Millennials (haaaaaaayyyyy) curated by the editors at Time, Inc (you know, the people behind This Old House).

visit thesnug.com

It's like people my age are finally being taken seriously in the DIY and home improvement realm because we're actually adults now, kthnx. That, and in some circles we're being called the Maker Generation and I am here for all of that.

Sorry, excuse me while I get my sociology nerdery on.

ANYWAY, my first post is up over there and you should totally hop on over and check out all of the great stuff they've got going on and do all of the social media following and what have you.

I'm really excited to be a part of this new site -- I promise you it's different than Pinterest or Hometalk, think more Buzzfeed for a younger DIY crowd -- and I hope you all decide to come over and Snug with me on the regular. :)

(And yes, kiddies, this means you should see a wee more of me around these parts as well. Thanks for talking me out of quitting a few months back.)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Dark Side of Late Night Single Mom Home Ownership.

There are just some things that you don't ever anticipate having to DIY, especially not at 2:30 some random Sunday evening/Monday morning while being circled by most of your seven pets and you try not to cry.

But let's back up a wee bit.

When we first moved into the house, I remember our old elderly neighbor mumbling something about it was a good thing we had cats (at the time, it was just two) because our part of the greater area apparently had a problem with mice.

I remember feeling uneasy, but assuming that we would never have a problem because ... why would we?

I thought about a time when I lived with my mom in college, when one night I heard a scratching in the wall next to my bed in her condo. I yelled at the cats to cut it out (there were three that lived with us there) but then two of them jumped up on my bed and began to stare at the wall where the scratching noise was coming from. They were not the ones making it. Something inside the wall was.

This went on for WEEKS.

I told my mom about it, because I was losing sleep over the scratching and the cats yowling at the wall. My mom kept telling me it was nothing, or that I was hearing things. I even crawled up into the attic to look around to see if there was some kind of critter trapped somewhere ... and found nothing. My brother came to visit and I tearfully told him I hear this scratching that never lets me sleep and Mom thinks I'm crazy but the cats hear it too so I know I'm not except for the fact that I'm not sleeping at all ever and I have no idea how to make it stop and right then he told me to shush.

Because, at that moment, he heard it too.

And I wept with joy.

He talked to my mom and she was really irritated, like maybe she thought he was just placating me so I'd calm down, but she begrudgingly admitted that maybe it was possible something was in the walls.

I get it. No one wants to think about living creatures in the walls of their homes. But her condo butted up against what was, then, a still pretty rural area right by some wetlands. I once came back late at night and found a deer standing in front of the garage and refuse to move so I could park my car. It was too late to honk my horn, plus then my mom probably would have opened the garage door and chaos would surely have ensued, so I just sat there for about twenty minutes until the deer decided to move along. So some small critter sneaking into the attic or something? Totally believable.

Anyway, so maybe a week after my brother validated that I was being gaslit by some wayward woodland creature, my mom woke up in the middle of the night because one of the cats was going crazy over a toy in her room. She didn't turn on a light, as she planned to go back to bed fairly immediately, so she just groped around the floor to find the toy and throw it out in the hallway.

Except it wasn't a toy. It was a dead mouse.

I never heard the scratching again after that.


Fast forward to about three years ago, and my feline brood is going insane in the kitchen by the pantry. I go in to see what's going on, make sure they haven't decided to go all Hunger Games/Battle Royale on each other and I see Nubs and Antonia lingering by the cat box. I ask Nubs what's going on (because yes I talk to the cats like they're sentient creatures) and he turns around all casually ... with a live mouse hanging out of his mouth, and Antonia's just all big eyed and timid looking like she always is and I'm screaming inside but frozen on the outside because WHAT IF I SCARE THE CAT AND HE DROPS IT.

I try to calmly yell for Kyle, and between the two of us we catch the terrified thing and after realizing neither of us can kill it, I let it go outside.

The old neighbor kid watched me do that, he was about 8 then, and he tells me that it just ran right back towards my house. Awesome.

But we didn't see a mouse again, so ...

That is, until Sunday, when a full-size adult mouse ran across my living room floor at 10:30 at night.

And now that I am the only adult that lives here, and it was way past bedtime on a school night for my kids, I had the dark realization that it would be my duty and mine alone, to trap the thing and dispose of it.

*big gulp*

So for three or so hours, I stalk this thing and almost catch it while my cats look on from a distance like "Hey Mom, you should really catch that; it's freaking me out."


But finally, as I'm about to give up and go to bed, I notice that Nubs and Antonia are hovering by the big water bowl in the kitchen, the one that kind of resembles a bundt pan with little cut-outs on the sides to use as handles. They are stationed, one each, at each handle. They don't move as I approach, which is weird, but then I see it.

The mouse's tail is peeking out of the underside of the bowl, in the tiniest space between the bowl edge and the floor.

Knowledge gained: these two are the mousers. Max was kind of watching in a supervisory way, but he gets no points for that.

So I grab the closest GladWare container within reach and I trap the bugger, putting the lid on and then ...

It looks at me. Straight in the eye. And it's shaking.
cornered mouse - face - _MG_2995

And I realize I can't kill it.

But I can't let it go, either, because it will just come right back.

So I did what any overtired single mother would do at 1:30 AM.

I prayed to the Google Gods to send me direction.

And after reading many (MANY) things about how to quickly bash it's head in or drown it and being horrified while watching Antonia playfully push the GladWare container and its prisoner back and forth the entire length of the kitchen, I finally found an answer.

There's a way, approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, to euthanize small (under 2 lbs.) animals with household supplies. Namely, some sort of air tight container or bag, baking soda, and white vinegar.

It's all detailed right here.

But the crux of it is that combining the baking soda and vinegar in a certain equation creates CO₂, which functions for rodents like carbon monoxide for humans. It painlessly puts the animal to sleep and then they die. It's suggested for pet rodents, but also for rodents to be used for food for pet snakes or birds. It was the best option I had as everything I would need I had on hand (because I wasn't waking up the kids to go get poison or mousetraps or anything and I couldn't leave the bugger because the cats would terrorize it and probably accidentally let it go, unless I left it outside, where it would have slowly frozen to death) and because as someone who's now stayed in the room to hold an 18 year old porch cat as he was put down due to aggressive liver cancer (RIP Sylvester, I miss you), it seemed the kindest, gentlest option given the circumstances.

So at 2:30 in the morning I choked back tears as I poked holes in the GladWare container and placed it inside a garbage bag, followed the instructions, and then duct taped the bag shut as it filled with gas. My trash bags are white, so after the allotted time I was able to hold it up to a light to pretty clearly see the outline of the mouse in the GladWare container and confirm it was no longer alive. I then placed the whole kit and caboodle into another trash bag and took it outside into the freezing night.

It was the most morbid science experiment I've ever conducted. And yes, I cried a little. Because it wasn't the mouse's fault, it just made a bad choice, most likely out of a survival instinct.

But I also didn't want to be picking up pieces of mouse carcass throughout my house or worse, have the kids find a dead mouse (or part of a dead mouse, eek) and have to have THAT talk on top of all the other sad talks we've been having around here.

So. Not every DIY solution is glamorous or pinnable on Pinterest, even when it's a success.

And that concludes this week's lesson on The Dark Side of Late Night Single Mom Home Ownership.

Review your notes and expect a quiz next week.