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Monday, December 13, 2021

Santa Came Early

Santa came early, with a little bit of help from us.

Steve and I have gotten to the point where we really don't need any personal items to buy for each other for Christmas. We kind of run out of ideas after all of these years together. We have each other, what more do we need?  LOL

So rather than a gift certificate or another box of stuff or something we don't really need... so we decided that we would pick one item together that we wanted to do for the house as an update or upgrade that we really didn't necessarily need. But it had to be something that we would want... and enjoy.  One year we did a set of big fluffy bath towels. Another year some fancy new cookware.

We had discussed for some time about replacing the electric hot water heater that was here when we bought the house. Although it's pretty new, from 2015, it is rather pricey to operate. We know just by putting it on a Wi-Fi timer, we knocked the bill down an extra 20 bucks a month by just having it operate at certain times of the day and not round the clock for 24 hours. 

It also takes quite a while for it to recover... such as if Steve takes a shower or we run the dishwasher, it takes quite a bit of time for it to recover to either run a load of laundry or for me to take a bath. So we have to kind of stagger our use and schedule ourselves for what we want to do in the evening as it pertains to hot water usage.

We have decided we wanted to switch over to a natural gas water heater. The only problem is with the chimney closed off, we can not put in a normal one that is vented.  We would have to get what's called a power vent model. With the shortened ceiling height in the basement, our choices were limited of what type of power vent models,  because they are quite tall and they vent horizontally out the side of a house through the foundation. The only two that we could find the right height and of any quality with the power vent option were rather pricey in the $800 to $1,000 range.

Well, if we were going to do that, we might as well just get the new tankless on demand variety for about the same money. They are also vented out the side wall,  but smaller and more compact. 

We have been doing some research on the tankless on demand systems. Plus, you're not paying to keep your water hot 24 hours around the clock. It only heats the water just as you're using it at any of the faucets. This made sense to us.

Also, with the recirculating pump feature, with a return line, we can keep hot water up to the faucets where you want it,  not wasting any cold water running down the drain, waiting for the warm water to reach the faucet. Especially in our bathroom, which is the furthest from the water heater location. Right now we waste a LOT of running water waiting for the hot to reach the shower, tub or sink. 

We had done some research a couple months ago. It kind of put it on the back burner. We had other things to do.

But now that the holidays were coming, we sat down in November and decided that maybe this would be a good Christmas present to each other. It's something we both would enjoy and appreciate. 

We did our research and figured which model would be best for us according to our usage and also for the temperature of the cold water coming in. Northern states have cold ground where the piped city water comes into the house. It needs more energy to heat it up to the 120 degrees at the faucet. So we factored in with all the charts and graphs and figured everything out for the correct model of BTUs and flow of gallons per minute.  The one we wanted wasn't in stock, so it had to be ordered. We placed our order in early November. They said it would arrive by December 12th.

Of course, our shipping date of December 12th came and went ---- and we got a notice that will be another three and a half weeks due to vendor shipping complications. Well well well, of course who wouldn't be surprised at that? And even then, there is no guarantee that we will get that particular model. 

So we went back to Menards today with our ordered paid receipt, we were able to cancel that order and get a full refund. Then we took the next model higher that was already IN stock in the store. It just happened to go on sale today and at an additional $250 off. (we knew that because we saw the ad on Sunday) which brings it down to almost the same price, as the one we had perviously ordered and cancelled. So lucky us! It had more BTUs and a higher GPM flow rate while maintaining the same temp setting with multiple faucets running at the same time. 

Steve was soooo happy! We hoisted the box in the Saturn along with all of Steve's extra materials and supplies for installation. 

We got it home and he had to right away roll it into the house and get it unboxed so he could look it all over.

It weighs 90 lbs, so we used this little furniture dolly cart to get it into the house. 

Later on we will beg one of our sons-in-laws to help carry it down through the bulkhead entrance to the basement, over the secret passageway wall from the new basement to the old basement area and over in to place where he can mount it on the wall and do all of the hookups.

Weeks ago, Steve had me print off the installation booklets from the PDF files on the website, so he knew exactly all the features and details and what he needed to do.

He sure looked like a little boy on Christmas morning, spread out on the floor in front of the Christmas tree with our new Christmas present. Kind of like a little kid setting up his toy train?

I get such a kick out of him. He opened up each box and each piece and each accessory, checking things over once and twice. He had to make sure everything was there and everything operated correctly. Nothing can be worse than to be setting something up and find out there's a manufacturing defect in a valve or some fitting is missing or it's the wrong size. He's pretty smart when it comes to putting together things like this. It's his good form of entertainment, just like some people like doing crosswords or jigsaw puzzles.

Here are all of his extra accessories he bought. He already has the vent termination kit mounted in the wall weeks ago when the weather was nice. Having to bust our way through two feet of heavy fieldstone is crazy. Instead he found the perfect location for the heater right by an old hole that had been chiseled through for a dryer vent from many years ago. It was the perfect location and it suited our needs for the concentric (2 layer) horizontal exhaust vent.  

He also picked up pipe insulation,  extra valves and fittings and pieces and supplies.  It's always better to buy more than you need, and return the rest,  than to be short in the middle of the installation. 

So that is our "Merry Christmas" to us, our HO HO HO extravagant present. 

We really didn't need a new water heater, but also having the convenience of on demand as well as lower energy bills is an added plus. 

We read that electric water heaters really only last six to nine years, and we are already on the sixth year of this one here. We can maybe sell it to someone who wants it for a hunting cabin somewhere or a little cottage or maybe a rental unit. It has life left in it, and I would like to see it used again rather than just going to a landfill. 


We were very fortunate last week to be invited to FOUR different Christmas concerts for our grandchildren! We are blessed to be able to live this close to attend them throughout the day. 

They were scheduled at different times with an hour and a half to two hours in between each concert. That way each of the grades group together for each audience size that could fill the gymnasium comfortably, instead of trying to pack in all of the parents for all of the elementary grade levels. That just wouldn't work.

At 9 a.m. was the 4K and kindergarten concert. Littlest granddaughter Claire was on the risers, searching eagerly to spot her parents and grandparents in the audience. Her face brightened up and she gave me a big wave when she saw us. It was delightful. They sang their 3 little songs and we applauded and praised her for doing a good job.

Then we had about an hour left in between until it was time for the first and second graders. Now it was Whitney's turn to come out and sing her songs! We took Claire along with us so she could see her cousin. We joined up with our daughter Heather and watched the wonderful show from the first and second graders. Whitney also scanned the audience until she saw our faces and brightened right up, secure in knowing that we were there for her.

In between the first and second grade concert and later the third and fourth grade concert, we were able to meet up with Whitney by the lunch room and get in a nice big hug!

At 1:30 p.m. that was time for the 3rd and 4th graders. Clayton, in the blue Christmas sweater, was searching the audience row by row until he saw us. Then he brightened up and gave a little indiscreet wave with the flick of his hand and a little twiddle of the fingers. He had to be "cool", you know, and not wave frantically like some of the other children were doing. They sang a really pretty song that I hadn't heard before. It was a Celtic tune called The Masters In This Hall.

The daytime concerts were done at the elementary school. We were able to go home, take a break, make up some supper and rest for a while. Especially to rest our sore butts. Sitting on those metal folding chairs with our old people butts for a couple hours on end today. We were kind of sore. After supper, it was time to head over to the middle school now for our last concert of the day. Our sixth-grader granddaughter Chelsea plays the clarinet in the Middle School band. We found our seats along with her parents and brother and sister in the gymnasium at the middle school. We waved and we shouted her name but she had to act "so cool" and pretend that she didn't see us at all. They played their beautiful songs, with their abilities of only a few months worth of instrument practice. They did quite well. On the way out, I snapped this pic of Chelsea with her clarinet, (AKA licorice stick). Just like her grandmother, yes me, I played the clarinet in the band too. Chip off the old block. Her mother had also played the alto clarinet. Runs in the family!!


After the concerts on Thursday, we all made it home safe and sound but there was a big storm a-brewing. The weather man's dire predictions of terrible freezing rain, sleet, wind, and then heavy wet snow were pretty ominous.

It started up on Friday and ended up with quite an amazing view by Saturday morning! Yep, we got dumped with between 9 to 10 in of this beautiful white heavy wet snow!!

Everything was like a winter wonderland outside, but poor little Binney couldn't even walk in it to go to the bathroom. She would just get stuck. Steve quick grabbed the shovel and dug out a a little area just in her potty yard so she could do her business.

As soon as she was done, she was plaintively looking through the French door to get right back in the house. AWWWWWW

Steve shoveled his way across the pergola to the garage door. Look how beautiful the snow mounded up as it blew from the sides against the latticework and ivy of the pergola.

Everything was clinging heavy with snow. This is the lilac bush along side of the house. It was so dainty and lacy. Like a beautiful winter snowflake plopped in the ground. 

I just couldn't believe how much the wind had blown between the house and the garage... hard enough to plaster the snow so tight against the lattice--- it sure made a beautiful decoration.

The backyard was absolutely amazing, looking out over the white snow as the wind was blowing. We were very fortunate not to have any power outages. North of us, south of us, and just over on the edge of the bay, people have lost power for hours or even the next day into Sunday afternoon. We were lucky. 

But even if the power we did go out, we do have two natural gas fireplaces that do not require electricity to run, so at least we wouldn't freeze. If we really needed to we can cook things or warm up the motor home or run the generator from the motorhome and run a cord back to the house if we really needed something. Fortunately, we did not have to employ any power outage procedures.

In the afternoon it finally stopped snowing so Steve decided to get out the snow blower and start taking care of moving some of it out of the way. It was very wet and heavy so he had to do a half-swatch at a time so he didn't plug up the snowblower.

And amazingly, they are forecasting weather here up into the high 50s on Thursday, maybe even record-breaking hitting 60°? So a lot of this may melt.

Things are beginning to look very Christmassy around here. To continue on from my last blog post, we did decide to put the tree up in the She Shed. Once we got it up into place, Steve helped with all of the lights and decorations. We had a very nice time decorating the tree together during the snowstorm. With Christmas music playing and mugs of mulled apple cider, it was really getting into the holiday season around here.

I set up the little Christmas Village in the china hutch, with all of my little houses and people and bridges and choo choo train. This is a great place to put it where it's out of the way but yet it can be admired through the glass and not susceptible to Little Fingers playing with all the people.

I do let the kids play with these decorations.  They are vintage looking wooden jumping jack toys.  I hang them on the little magnetic clips on the side of the refrigerator so they can be played with and put back in a row and be part of the decor.

Yup, they found em! 

Steve enhanced our holiday decorating by mounting our Merry Christmas sign up in the space over in the transom area above the French doors we just installed last month. Next month, after all the holiday events are done, I'm going to work on some stained glass that's going to fill the space. But for now, it was perfect to mount that Christmas sign in there. Great idea, Steve.

I got a little whimsical and silly too. My Wee Peggy Spinning Wheel needed to get decorated for the season. Hohoho!

You've heard of Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly? 

Well I decided to Deck the LOOM with Boughs of Holly!

My friend Rosie in Bethel Missouri, has strung Christmas lights all over her beautiful Glimakra loom. I admired them when I was visiting her, and she said she leaves them up year-round. Every now and then she plugs them in just for a little whimsical smile. So in honor of Rosie and her loom decorating, I decided to doll up my Kangas Loom with some hanging boughs of holly and berries, a clump of poinsettia plants and Christmas flowers along with some colorful lights. I put it on a timer so it will go on each evening to fill the She Shed with holiday spirit.

We did a few other things around the house since my last blog post. We hung all of these cute little dainty snowflakes over all of the doorways. Steve painstakingly stood on a ladder, using a ruler and measuring every 8 inches apart, to tack into place with little push pins. The Christmas Decorating Spirit is running really high in my Elf Steve.

The reindeer games started in our backyard. Each evening about dusk, we get this little gathering that seem to think that there must be something good underneath our bird feeder. There's just a little bit of seeds scattered here and there, and I know the birds really picked through it. Especially the mourning doves. I can't imagine there being a lot left over for them to eat. But they congregate here anyhow and play their reindeer games.

Now you know why we had to protect all of our new trees that we planted this summer. Every tree is surrounded with six foot high fencing and sturdy steel posts. Let's hope it keeps these hungry little buggers away from our tender tree branches of our new apple, cherry, willow, and maple trees. And especially our new burr oak tree that was planted in memory of my Mom.

Speaking of mom, December 11th was her birthday. Getting through all of those "first" holidays without a certain loved one after they've passed away is extremely hard.

I'm doing the best that I can.


  1. Your very Christmassy house & She Shed look wonderful - good job! Also smart idea in the gift exchange idea with Steve, we might have to adopt that strategy. The littles must be so much fun to have around. Merry Christmas.

    1. We are having so much fun being closer to the kids now that we retired. The grandkids have added so much to our lives. We have to enjoy it now while they are a little. Soon they will be teenagers and off on their own as young adults come over.

  2. All the Christmas decor is lovely! The idea of a tankless water heater as a gift to each other is a good one. It's something you'll enjoy for many years to come.

    My mom passed away on December 16, 2003 and her birthday was Christmas Day. I understand your grief, those first few years were very hard. Now, as we did then, we take some time at our Christmas dinner to talk about favorite memories. She may not be here in person but she is in spirit.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. You know what I'm talking about. I did do something to try and help with her memory for the holiday season but I can't post it on here yet. It's a secret for the rest of the family until they get something in the mail from us.

  3. Your Christmas decorations are lovely! I like the idea of a tankless water heater but convincing my Cowboy to pay for one would be a stretch. How are you liking your stainless steel sink--any helpful hints on keeping it clean of water spots?

    1. I love love love my sink! I don't notice many water spots, perhaps it's actually your type of water and mineral content that you have there? I do clean the sink with a stainless steel cleaner made by CLR. It's specifically for stainless steel and comes in a tall silver aerosol can. It's kind of a foamy spray and wipe it down. I use it on our stainless steel fridge, dishwasher, and stove and hood vent to. It just seems to clean well and almost leaves a coating that's protecting the stainless steel.

    2. Our water is very hard and I'm sure that's the problem. I will try the stainless steel cleaner--I have some on hand even! Thanks for the help!


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