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When To Learn How To Do-It-Yourself

It’s been a big week.  I know I said I would have this post up by Wednesday, but I just couldn’t make it happen.

First things first, my sister visited and helped me with a couple of lingering projects.  I may have a couple of things to add to the “When To Ask For Help List”.  She was a rock star, as usual.  We were able to get the fence around the garden started and we hauled a couple of loads of soil/compost from the nursery down the road.

I learned something VERY IMPORTANT this week:  Make sure you discuss the contents of the compost you are buying from landscape and nursery companies.  I bought bulk compost this week and asked them to make it a mixed load of garden mix (which they also market as potting soil) and compost.  Now when I think of compost, I think of twigs, bark, greens, dirt, etc.  When I unloaded the compost into my raised beds I found a blasting cap, cord, painted wood chunks and some plastic.  That is only the stuff I found, who knows what I missed.  When I returned to the nursery the next day to ask about it they told me that they could not qualify what was, or wasn’t, in their compost and that it really should only be used for building up berms and the like.  That would have been useful information at the time of purchase.  I would like to think that if someone was asking you to combine your “certified organic” garden mix with trash-filled compost you might say something.  My opinion, take it for what its worth.

Best Sister Ever

Best Sister Ever

Enough of that.  The second thing I wanted to tell you about was the awesome food I had this week.  When my sister arrived she requested a Coffee Cup Cake.  It is the most wonderful coffee cake in a coffee cup.  I got the recipe off of (  They have a lot of wonderful desert-in-a-cup recipes.  I kindly made her an “original” and got to work making a Paleo version.  I might, just might, be a freakin’ genius.  Like Kanye, but not as creepy and arrogant.  So good.  I am posting a picture so that you can see how amazing it was.  I will be sure to post this recipe when I can recreate it without it overflowing in the microwave.

The Happiest Breakfast Ever!

The Happiest Breakfast Ever!

Other things I ate: Fried (Cauliflower) Rice (recipe to come), Deer Steak Stir-fry, Yummy Chicken-Squash Curry, Sushi, Burgers Grilled to Perfection and Salmon River Steelhead.  I have been in heaven.   Oh, and I also made Paleo Cookies.  Don’t worry, not all of my recipes are going to be Paleo.  I promise I will follow my motto:  “Everything can be made better with butter, bacon and/or cheese.” 

Okay, onto lists:

First up, When To Have Someone Teach You How To Do-It-Yourself.  Many of these list items are here because the damage you can do when you “do” improperly can be expensive or dangerous.  Others are here to save you from heartache and frustration.  However, as I was just so kindly reminded by my amazing roommate, some people just learn better by being taught by another person and others can read a book and be an expert.  Got it.  As I have stated before, this is MY opinion.

When To Have Someone Teach You How To Do-It-Yourself:

  • Operating Power Tools- I say this because power tools are amazing and fantastic if used correctly, but they are equally frustrating and dangerous if you don’t know what the hell you are doing.  Case in point:  I have battery-operated tools.  Just like a cell phone battery, they gradually degrade and before you know it you only get 30 minutes worth of work time out of a full charge.  Tools that are plugged in have limitless life, but a whole butt-load (yes mom, that is a word) of power.  I sprained my wrist the first time I used my corded drill.  I have found that it is best to have someone teach me about the tools before I use them.  You never know, they may actually show you how to adjust the height of your circular saw or how to change the blade on your jigsaw.
  • Cutting Down a Tree- Chainsaws are dangerous!!!  Learn how to use one before you even think about cutting down a tree.  Have someone show you how to fuel it, add bar oil, adjust the chain tension, set the chain brake, safely start it, safely turn it off.  Operating a saw is relatively easy, once you have been taught the proper way to do so.  I have never been so nervous as when I watch people become over confident while operating a chainsaw.  It takes less than one second for a chain to tear through your flesh and leave you bleeding and in need of urgent emergency care.  That being said, learning how to use one properly can keep you safe and also help you avoid fatigue.  Macho men tend to muscle their way through cutting.  Not necessary.  If you can find a female that operates a saw, she can teach you how to use your entire body to maneuver your equipment and avoid fatigue, there by avoiding safety risks.  Bam!  If I can figure out how to put a video onto my blog, this will be one of the first instructional videos I post.
  • Changing Your Oil- Cars are expensive.  You don’t want to screw this one up.
  • Working On Your Bike- Bike shops are great!  I say this because I use to work at one and it was one of the best jobs I ever had.  Bike shops will do anything to get you to spend money at their establishment.  Some shops are even starting to serve beer.  Finally someone is listening to me!!!!!  Many shops will host bike maintenance clinics for free with the intent of selling you tools.  Take advantage of these clinics.  They will usually teach you how to fix a flat (most important skill ever), adjust a brake, adjust a derailleur (shifter thingy), clean and lube a chain and much, much more. GO.  LEARN.  RIDE.
  • Learning A New Sport- It always helps to have someone tell you what they did wrong while learning to ski, mountain bike, climb, kayak, golf (ha! Just joking, we all know that golf is not a sport).  Hopefully, they can help you avoid the frustrations that can cause a person to throw up their hands and say, “f*#% it, I’m going golfing.”  Plus, sports and outdoor activities are always more fun when there is someone there to back-up your story of the epic crash or super sweet 2 inches of air that you caught off a jump.  Plus, as I’ve said before, no one should drink alone.  And any sport that is worth doing is worth following-up with a cold beer!
  • How to Use a Kitchen Knife- I recently cooked for an event in which we prepared food for over 200 people.  I had some wonderful volunteers helping me in the kitchen.  I cannot thank them enough for all of the hard work and time that they put in.  That being said, I spent a lot of time teaching them how to safely and efficiently use a kitchen knife.  I think that steak knives have ruined our ability to chop.  Everyone seems to think that we need to saw through everything.  NO!  If you have a sharp knife and you are chopping veggies or fruit, you are not sawing it.  Find a friend that is an amazing cook or seek out a cooking class.  Also, get those damn things sharpened.  A sharp knife is a safe, and sane, knife.
  • How to Operate An iGadget- Find a class or a 10 year old to teach you how to operate anything with a lowercase “i” at the beginning.  Many phone service providers will have classes for iPhones and iPads.  Our local community education organization is starting to offer classes as well.  Take advantage of it.  Even if it is not free, it will save you the frustration of trying to figuring out how to turn the damn ringer off.
  • How to Knit- Ever tried it?  Yea, have someone teach you.  Also, make friends with someone that is “fluent” in knitting.  You will have questions and you will mess up.  I have a scarf that I have been working on for more than 4 years now, but I never learned how to finish it.  So, it is about 12 feet long with no end in sight.  I should probably take my own advice and seek help.

Wow!  Can I ever ramble?  Well, I think I will stop here for today. I have a fence to finish today and some dirt to haul.  So I better get to it while the sun is shining.  I will give you the “When To Hire A Professional” list next week.

Do you have any additions?  Any questions?  Any corrections?  Let me know.  I am happy to take requests.

Also, Mom I’m sorry I used bad language, but it really helps me get my point across.

Ooh, one more thing:  I will be providing a recipe in the next post.  Hmmmm, what shall it be?????

When To Pull-Up The Under-Roos & Do It Yourself

The first thing that I want to say is that there is a time to complete a task all by yourself; a time to ask for a helping hand; a time to have someone teach you the right way to do it; and a time to hire a professional to do it for you.  For example, everyone should know how to fix a flat/change a tire and be able to do it themselves.  If they can’t, they should not be operating anything with an inflatable tire (i.e. a bike, a car, a wheelbarrow).  If a person does not know how to fix a flat/change a tire they should take the time to learn.  They can either teach themselves through trial and error or they can ask someone to show them how.  There is no excuse for not knowing/learning how to fix a flat tire. NONE.

So, I figured for ease of use and understanding I would make some lists.  Why? Because I love lists.  I make them all of the time.  My lists tell me about all of the things I need to get done, all of the stuff I need to pack, all of the food I want to eat, and all of the really wonderful people I have in my life.  That being said, lets begin:

List #1:  When to do it yourself.

  • Yard Work- raking, mowing, picking-up rocks, pinecones and poo, pulling-up sod (read earlier blog post).

Hauling firewood 1 mile down to the river!

  • Cooking- because homemade food tastes way better than anything you can get at a restaurant.
  • Washing Your Car- This one can also be deferred to your children or an attractive person wearing minimal clothing. (Nuf said)
  • Painting- Inside or outside this is way cheaper than hiring someone.  It is also well worth it.  Just be sure to spend some of that money you saved on drop cloths and tape.  Although many carpets that are sold now days have multiple colors within the weave, you are not suppose to add color to it once it is installed in your abode.
  • Gardening- People do this for relaxation, therefore, enjoy your time playing in the dirt and soak up a little vitamin D while your at it.
  • Changing A Tire or Fixing A Flat- (see above)

List #2: When to ask for a helping hand.

  • Lifting Heavy Objects- There is no reason to hurt yourself.  Ask you significant other, strong friend, handsome construction worker looking man next door, brother, sister…you get the point.
  • Incoming Weather-  The storm is approaching and you only have a couple of hours to rake leaves and get them burned?  Gather-up some friends and neighbors and get-er-done.  This may set you back some cold beers and juicy burgers, but is totally worth it.
  • Burning Yard Debris-  Because nothing is more pathetic than drinking alone.  And, I don’t know about you, but if I am going to light sh*t on fire, I had better have a cold beer in my hand.  Nothing is better than a cold beer while you are burning, but if your anything like me a 6-pack will leave you crawling and just like chips, you can’t drink just one.  Invite someone over to help.  Give them a cool moniker (like Burn Boss), a lawn chair, a pitchfork and a cold beer.
  • Layout-  This sounds like something you should totally be able to do on your own, buuuuuuttttt…  It is always better to have another opinion.  Many times I get hung-up on the perfect image that I have in my head.  I know exactly what my new garden will look like; new dish will taste like; new dress will feel like; new lotion will smell like; new wind chime will sound like (I think I covered all 5 senses there, ha!).  I have found that having a partner in these ventures not only makes me less lonely, but also gives me perspectives on things I may not have thought of.  I may not have realized that I was attempting to put lemon mousse with fresh raspberries when lime would totally be better, or that I was attempting to hang a planter full of yummy, tasty kale within reach of the fat deer in my neighborhood.  Plus, I spend enough time alone having full-blown conversations with myself.  It’s good for me to have the “help” even if it is only emotional.
  • Starting a Blog/Etsy Account-  I learned the hard way on this one.  Blog service providers (I am not sure if that is what they are called, but it sounds official) make starting a blog easy.  Yuppers, starting it is easy, but knowing how to edit it, design it, change it, approve/deny comments on it…VERY CONFUSING.  This is especially true for someone that is more likely to tell you what is wrong with your bread recipe or teach you how to start a chainsaw than to know how to turn on/off their iPhone (still working on that one).  As for the Etsy thing, I cannot take a decent picture to save my life, but I have a friend that is a natural.  Perfect!  She has agreed to take the pictures and I have taken on the task of sewing, building, painting and finding merchandise for the store.  Bam!
  • Image

    If your photos look like mine, ask for help. This is really a picture of Bigfoot and I could have made a gagillion dollars off of it, but, alas, my photo-taking abilities are sub-par.

…so, this post is turning into quite the ramble.  I will leave you with these first two lists for now and post the next two: When to Have Someone Teach You The Right Way, and When to Hire A Professional, very soon, like, Wednesday.

Do you have additions? Subtractions? Questions?  Let me know.  I am happy to hear from anyone, ANYONE, that is reading this blog.

One more little tid-bit: My sister is visiting this week to help me put in the new garden.  I love hanging out with either of my sisters.  We are all exact opposites of eachother.  I’m not really sure how that works out when there are three, but, we are.  She has a good eye for design and is bringing me my moped.  Woot!  Woot!  Time to Rally!  This will definitely lead to an adventure worthy of a post.

I have also been perfecting some Lemon Chiffon Pancakes  (Paleo and Non!).

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