Weekly Blog Roundup: March 26, 2010

As part of the Yakezie Challenge, I’ve come across a whole slew of great new blogs.  Here are three great articles I came across with other members in this group who have taken on the similar challenge of improving their Alexa website rating:

  •  Personal Finance Ninja – 700 Pennies: How To Stay Motivated And Reach Your Goals – It’s always a good lesson to have something that keeps your eye on the bigger picture. As I say at the bottom of each of my posts, “It’s a great day to be alive!” and this sort of ties in with that.
  • PT MoneyThe Ultimate Guide to Saving Money On Coffee – I drink coffee just about every day.  I am not a coffee snob, but that’s mostly because I force myself not to be in order to not get sucked into drinking expensive coffee.  If you’ve already lost that battle, here are a few ways to fight back or at least minimize the damage.
  • Canadian Personal Finance BlogYou Know It’s A Bad Day When…. – This is another reminder to make sure to find a good, reputable financial adviser, and to make sure that he/she stays that way.  Even then, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket!

Another great read by one of my favorite bloggers who isn’t in the challenge:

  • Funny About Money – Sure You Want To Go On That Cruise? – I have never been on a cruise and have no desire to, and this gives me one more reason to know that I’m comfortable with my choice to keep my vacation time on solid ground!

Check them out (but don’t forget to come back!) and enjoy some great reads by other bloggers who have unique perspectives into personal blogging.

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How To Unclog A Sink Using A Plunger

One of the items on my Spring To Do-List was to unclog our bathroom sink, which was draining slow.

mb-201002plungerThis past weekend, I set out to clear it up and was able to do so with the use of just a few items.

What I used:
Small plunger (not one to unclog a toilet, that was too big for the small bathroom sink)
Drano Max Gel Clog Remover
Spray Cleaner

The drain has been running slow for quite some time.  It never got fully clogged but didn’t seem to drain really fast.  Every couple of months, I would use some Drano Max Gel remover, and that would clear things up a bit, but I could tell it never fully did the trick.  Plus, each application seemed to buy less and less time between usage, so I knew it was time to tackle the problem head on.

  1. I used a couple of the rags to plug up the overflow holes at the top of the sink as you want to create a vacuum seal with the plunger.  I wet the rags first before plugging them to give a better seal.
  2. Run the water – I first attempted to use the plunger with a dry sink.  All this did was pull the sink drain closed.  Running water prevented this from happening.
  3. Create a seal with the plunger over the sink drain.  I did not find it necessary to remove the drain stopper (see step above).  I’ve seen other sites recommend putting a little petroleum jelly around your plunger if you can’t get a good seal, but I didn’t need to do this as the small plunger I purchased for $2.50 fit perfectly.
  4. Push up and down on the plunger at least ten or twenty times with strong force.
  5. Prepare to be disgusted!  Some of the stuff that flowed back up into the sink was disgusting.  It was obvious that the grime and stuff lining the pipes had been accumulating for awhile.
  6. At this point, there was so much grime and who knows what else raised that it actually fully clogged the sink.  My guess is that it probably pulled so much grime which then settled in the drain trap that it created a full clog.  Further plunging and rinsing did nothing to reduce the water level or the mess that had now been brought forth into the sink.
  7. I decided to try the Drano Max Gel to see if it could clear things up.  Even though there was water and gunk in the sink, I attempted to pour it lined up with the drain so that it could get down in the drain and start working.  Sure enough, I could see the water level dropping slowly and then suddenly it broke through and drained fast.Note: The bottle of Drano makes it very clear that if the clog doesn’t go away, you are not to use the plunger anymore afterward since this could result in splashback of the Drano product, which could result in burned skin and other bad things.  So, if you get to this step and the Drano does not remove it, STOP!  You will then need to remove your drain trap from underneath the sink.  Here is a link that shows how to do that, but I won’t get into details since I didn’t actually need to do this step.
  8. After the Drano Max Gel did it’s work, I ran hot water down for a couple of minutes to remove all signs of the Drano Max.
  9. I wanted to make sure that everything was cleared, so I went back up to step 2, and re-ran steps 2-6.  There was still some gunk that came loose that I was able to pull loose and rinse down, though it wasn’t enough to clog the sink again.  After a couple of more rounds, the plunger didn’t backwash anything nasty into the sink.
  10. I kept the hot water running to make sure to let everything flow all the way down the line.
  11. I noted that my sink now cleared water at an astonishing rate!
  12. I thoroughly cleaned the sink using the rags I had previously used to stop the overflow drink since it needed a cleaning to make sure all the nasty stuff that had backed into it were gone.  Once all traces were removed, I put everything back to normal!

The whole job took about 15 minutes from start to finish.  I had been afraid that I would need to open the drain trap which could take a lot longer and be a lot more messy, but luckily I was able to avoid that.

A plumber would have probably charged $100 to do the same work, so I felt pretty pleased with my work and my results!

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Recycling Has Paid: Here’s A Breakdown So Far

Our community participates in a unique recycling program where your recycling is weighed during pickup (the scale is on the truck) every week, and you get ‘points’ that you can ‘spend’ on coupons and products at local and online retailers.  When the program was introduced about a year ago, it fell in conjunction with a new city trash collection program that lowered our trash bills about 50% and offered recycling opportunities on many items.

We can now recycle plastics 1-7, glass, all paper, cardboard, and other items.  The city provided all residents new garbage and recycling containers.  They’re both very big, and we’ve found that since the program kicked off, our recycling bucket is full more often than not, where we’ve never even filled up one quarter of our garbage bucket.

I thought I’d take a look back at how we’ve redeemed some of our ‘rewards’ and how, in addition to the 50% lower bills, how recycling has paid off (not that we need an incentive to recycle and be green, but saving green is always an added bonus!)

July 2009

  • Bed Bath & Beyond – $10 off $30 purchase (Qty: 1) – We always get 20% off coupons, but this amounted to a 33% off coupon if you bought an item priced $30.  I’m not sure what we used it for, but I know we kept it as close to $30 as we could.

August 2009

  • Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty: 5) – At the time, the number of points they charged was next to nothing.  The maximum you could get at one time was ten.  I only ‘bought’ five because I actually thought there would be a catch, that it was such a good deal.  We waited until they were on sale for $1 per two-liter bottle, so we got some soda for free just in time for my son’s baptism party!

October 2009

  • More Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty:10) – Now that I knew there was no catch, I loaded up on as many as we could and this batch lasted us through the holidays.
  • Simply Juice – $1 off any size (Qty: 1) – We usually buy juice from concentrate but decided to look for a sale along with this coupon, and got a very cheap, tasty bottle of juice!
  • Kraft Salad Dressing – $2 off (Qty: 1) – We were able to find salad dressing on sale for $2 so we got a free salad dressing!
  • Local Restaurant – $5 off $25 (Qty:1) – One of our favorite places for breakfast offered this coupon.  Their prices are pretty reasonable as it is, and we like supporting local establishments.  We haven’t used this yet only because we would need a couple of extra people to join us to reach a $25 total, but we have it and are excited to use it soon!

January 2010

  • Even More Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty:10) – We just used the coupons on these and got free soda for Baby Beagle’s first birthday party.  Note: They raised the ‘point’ cost on these to double what they had previously been.  Still a pretty good bargain.
  • Huggies – Buy one get one free – We got a free jumbo pack of diapers, and we were able to use a coupon on the pack we paid for.  Ka-ching!
  • Simply Juice – $1 off any size (Qty: 2) – We haven’t redeemed these yet but will make sure to do so before they expire!

February 2010

  • Local Plant & Flower Nursery – $10 off $50 (Qty: 2) – We have purchased our flowers for the past couple of years at a local establishment.  By the time we buy a few flats, a hanging basket, soil, and other various needs, we usually spend around $125.  This will allow us to knock $20 off that!
  • Bed Bath & Beyond – $10 off $30 purchase (Qty: 2) – We were able to buy items off a wedding registry and save some bucks along the way!

I can’t remember what the diapers cost, but I think that the added up savings from all this is just about $100.  That’s not bad for doing something that we were planning on doing anyways, and the items are all items that we were going to buy anyways.  Plus, we still have a ‘balance’ that we can use to purchase coupons that we find may be useful to us.

Overall, I’d say that recycling has really paid off!

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Spring To-Do List

I created a list of things to do around the house that I want to get done sometime in the spring.  Here’s a rundown of each one and where it stands:

  1. Basement Cleaning and Reorganization – Over the winter, I kicked off a project to clean up and organize the basement.  This involved setting up some additional shelving, re-organizing and discarding lots of old computer equipment, books, and other items, many of which were never properly dealt with when we moved into the house in 2007.  I’m proud to say that I worked on this one right off the bat and that this is DONE
  2. Replace backup sump pump battery – We have a sump pump that runs a lot in the springtime and during heavy rains.  There’s a battery driven backup system.  I noted that it no longer works, so I took the battery out and need to purchase, install, and test a new marine battery for the backup system.  IN PROCESS
  3. Repair and repaint bathroom ceiling – Some of the paint was peeling after twelve years of showers and steam (and a not very well located exhaust fan).  In order to avoid potential mold damage or drywall failure, I’m patching areas, re-priming and re-painting the ceiling in the master bath.  I’ve been working through this and expect to be done soon.  IN PROCESS
  4. Repair and repaint damaged bathroom wall – A towel bar was never installed properly and when I attempted to repair it by moving the anchor holes over, it didn’t work and created a hole in the wall instead.  I’m installing a hook on the bathroom door in lieu of the towel rack, and have worked on repairing the hole, and am planning on priming and re-painting at the same time as the ceiling work.  IN PROCESS

  5.  Unclog master bath sink drain – The drain from the sink has been running slow pretty much since we moved in.  Drano helps but only for a little bit of time.  I need to unclog the line or replace the drain.
  6. Clean window blinds – We have fifteen windows with standard horizontal blinds that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned since we moved in and the dustings and quick wipes are no longer cutting it.  I need to take them down and clean them.  Any suggestions on the best way would be appreciated.
  7. Clean inside windows – While the blinds are down, I want to clean the windows with non-streak glass cleaner.  The outsides are professionally done.
  8. Re-paint shutters – I painted the shutters two years ago and I guess I have my answer on how often they should be re-painted.
  9. Re-paint front door / garage entry door – The front door is painted the same color as the shutters and has actually suffered the majority of the fading since it gets lots of afternoon sun so I’ll do this in conjunction with the shutters.
  10. Assemble swing set – My in-laws had a neighbor that was losing her house last year, and had a swing set only a couple of years old that her kids had played with.  She offered it to us via my in-laws, saying all we had to do was disassemble it.  It’s currently in pieces on my in-laws patio, so we want to put it together and paint it so that Baby Beagle has a swing set to play on, which will be nice especially when he gets older.
  11. Clean deck – I want to thoroughly wash our deck to remove some of the grime that has appeared since I painted it last year, as I’ve been advised that washing it will extend the life of the paint job.
  12. Clean garage – I do a re-org and cleanup every spring and fall (at the minimum), so it’ll be time to do that soon!
  13. Clean out dryer line – Good thing to do to prevent dryer fires.
  14. Hang clock – My grandmother had an old antique clock that I’ve always cherished.  I have to mount this on the wall and put a couple of pieces back together….and then remember to wind it regularly!

It’s quite a list, but I’ve already got a head start on some of the bigger items, and some (like the clock and the cleaning of the deck and garage) can be knocked out pretty quickly.  I’ll keep an update of how things are going.

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