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Monday, December 20, 2021

Getting Ready for The Holidays - Heaters, Desk, Cookies and Basketball

Ahhhh the Christmas Season is here. The house is decorated, the presents are bought and wrapped, and now we are sitting back and just enjoying our fruits of our labors. We sit almost every evening, with soft Christams carols playing, and admiring the lights and decorations. It feels good to be surrounded by traditions and memories. 

Steve has been working diligently in the basement, a little bit each day.  He got the new tankless water heater all installed. It works perfectly! That is our Christmas present to each other.  We expect our electric bill to go down a lot, after removing the electric tank type unit.  This new natural gas one only operates when a faucet is opened.

The unit is located in the "old portion" of our basement.  The ceilings are low and the walls are old rubblestone.  Tall Man Steve has to stoop over during the entire time he is down there.  I gave him some nice knee and back rubs with Blue Emo cream each evening for all of his efforts. 

Our water heater has a great optional feature, it's an additional recirculation pump. This keeps the water that is sitting in the insulated pipes warm and recirculates that every 30, 60 or 90 minutes or if the temperature drops below 15 degrees lower than the set set water heater temperature. It circulates up the hot lines and then reroutes it back on a dedicated line to the heater to be heated up again. This enables us to have hot water instantly at every tap or faucet or shower or tub.

We measured and realized that in past, we would WASTE about a quart and half of water at the furthest faucet away from the water heater, just waiting for it to warm up. That is a quart and a half of water that is wasted down the drain until we eventually get hot water each time. Especially when washing hands or taking a shower or filling the tub.

By adding the recirculation pump option, it will automatically take care of that for a very small amount of natural gas to heat up just the water in those insulated pipes. We are really going to like this!

We weren't able to get the correct brand recirculation pump until today. It has a computer connection to the heater to enact it anytime it senses it needs to kick in or if the temp drops 15 degrees in the unused water in the hot line.  We had to pick it up at a store 40 miles away, along with the proper fittings and an expansion tank.

He went right to work and is now installing that along with the required pressure tank. He will do the final hookups after supper. Maybe it will be functioning... I think, probably tomorrow. With the return system lines this will enable us to have hot water at every faucet right away rather than waiting and running cold water until the hot comes.


I had a great idea a while back, and I finally am getting around to implementing it.

Last year when we bought our mission style loveseat that matches our two recliner chairs for the She Shed, the seller graciously included two beautiful mission style end tables. They are a little taller and a little wider than the ones we already have. They were included in the sale for FREE so we took them along. 

We thought we could use them for bedside tables in our bedroom but they are a little too wide and a little too long and don't let us access the drawers in the base of our bed. But we hung on to them anyhow and stored them in the garage.  Just in case we wanted to change things around or whatever. But I don't like them just sitting out in the garage in the cold. So I came up with another idea..... 

 (take note: Steve thinks it's a DUMB idea)  

Since redoing the guest bedroom into an office, we are in need of a desk. I would like a nice small desk in this room and I have a perfect antique office chair that I bought at an auction down in Chilton about 10 years ago.  So I set the two tables next to each other, leaving a space for legs if sitting on the chair. It measures 52 inches across by only 25 inches deep. 

All I need is a piece of plywood, cut to size. I will cover it with a piece of leather-looking vinyl.  I will fasten it to the table tops with removable heavy duty Command Velcro strips, so the finish won't get damaged, in case we want to ever use them as end tables again. There are drawers in each table on the other sides near the chair, perfect for pens and paper.  I think it will make a nice little desk!  

Steve still thought it was a dumb idea, but I caught him this morning "using" the space as a desk!  He was sorting through a file box and set it on the imaginary desk, while looking for some information.  LOL  I caught him and snapped this pic.  Then he admitted that yes, a desk would be helpful in that room. 

On our way back from picking up the recirculating pump, we stopped at Joanns Fabrics store. Armed with my 40% off coupon, I found a nice hunk of leather looking vinyl that will work perfectly!  $20 and I think it will look great. Steve said he will cut the plywood top for me tomorrow and help me staple the vinyl evenly onto the board. 

I have a cute little desk lamp and a little brown cloisonné box for stamps, and I will get a little desk blotter or calendar. So with Steve's help, we will have a desk, repurposed from some unused end tables and a bit of creativity.


Saturday was a busy day...  We had the honor to go and sit in the gymnasium for a 4th grade basketball tournament. Our 9 year old grandson Clayton was playing against 2 other teams, one game at 9 am and another at 11 am.  We wore our masks and sat up high in the bleachers to stay away from other fans. 

We watched our little guy, number 41, play his turns out on the court.  The coach rotates them so they all get a chance to play.  It was fun to watch them work out their "secret plans" from their huddles with the coach court side.  

They were having fun, that is what counts.  The lost by a few points, but they all got to get on the court and have their fans cheer for them.  I think this grandma cheered the loudest?

We left after the first game, and headed back to our house to start baking Christmas cut-out cookies. We had Chelsea and Claire over to help. The girls started making the dough, and measured out all of the ingredients. We did a TRIPLE batch of the recipe. Good lesson in math for figuring each item times three. 

After the dough was mixed up, the prize is to be able to lick the beaters. It was such a pleasant Saturday morning to have these silly kids in my kitchen. I cherish these days. 

For some reason, we forgot to put on our aprons during the dough making stage, but we put them on for rolling. Chelsea started rolling out the dough, and cutting the cookies. Chelsea showed little Claire how to use a rolling pin and I started up the oven for baking tray after tray of cut out cookies. 

As soon as his second game was done, Clayton begged to come over and help do the cookies too!  So we saved half of the dough for him to have his turn. The girls had "enough fun" and went off to do their own things, and Claire took a nap.  Now it was Cookie Baker Clayton's turn....   he put on his apron and went right to work.

He caught on quickly and was careful to make the rolled dough the same even thickness throughout for better cookies. Then he started figuring ways to cut out carefully to get the most cookies out of each rolled out piece of dough.  He was using math skills and geometry and physics.  He has such a LONG attention span for a 9 year old boy.  I was even able to leave him to himself while rolling, and I kept the trays going in and out of the oven. 

186 cookies later, we were DONE! 

The rest of the grandkids are coming on Wednesday. That is when I will put the plastic tablecloth on the diningtable and take out the sprinkles and frosting.  It will be our Annual Cookie Decorating Day!  We will maybe make mini pizzas or meatball subs for lunch. That is my most special day of the year, because I get ALL of the grandkids to myself. 100% attention and time with them. Contrasted to the larger family christmas gatherings where there are other relatives, toys, and cousins to play with.  On Cookie Decorating Day, I get a lot of special time listening and talking and sharing and fun together. 


While we were doing the cookies, Steve was working installing more insulation in the garage ceiling. He is about half way across the garage now. He is doing one or two sections at a time, and not over-doing it or straining his back or knees.  We are learning that now we are over 60, we need to slow down a bit to accomplish the same things.   

Once he has all the insulation put up in place, then we will rent the drywall lift and cover the entire ceiling with sheetrock. He hopes to seal up the garage enough to run his propane heater when he wants to work on something out there. I think it's a good idea, as long as he doesn't push himself and do too much in a day. 

That is enough for today, tomorrow I might have pics of a new desktop (hopefully) and he will have the recirculation pump operating.  


  1. Wow, that free table deal was sweet(!), and I think it will make a great petite desk. I used some of that Naugahyde leather-looking fabric to make an everyday cover for my teak dining room table. Used elastic around the corners, works great. Glad you'll have the grands to yourself - I'm sure it will be fun. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Linda

  2. That tankless water heater sounds terrific. I imagine it will pay for itself in no time with the water and electricity savings.

    I like the desk idea. It's a great way to use the tables and it obviously will be a needed item

    Enjoy your cookie day with the grands! I only have one and he makes enough noise and chaos for several. :)


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