Babci: Taking the Walker to the Packie.

by Sandy L on September 15, 2014

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while.  Not sure why I didn’t post it sooner.

I have so many pent up stories in my head I don’t know where to begin. As a quick update, Babci is living with us. Her house is for sale, we’ve had one offer on it but it fell through and we’re waiting to get it sold before we move the rest of her stuff in.

She is sleeping upstairs in a spare room until her first floor bedroom is done but that requires major changes like moving stairs to access the “gimp room” as we call it. The gimp room is a windowless storage room you can only access from the garage, but it would make a perfect bedroom if you could access it from the back apartment and put in windows.  Right now, it’s the smelliest room in the house due to lots of things living there and I think the cows lived there at one point too. It has a very barny, musky smell but I digress. A house post may come at some point but I still haven’t figured out how to fix the glitchy issue I’m having with my captions not aligning under my photos.

It’s been a while since I told a Babci story.  With our long winter, she has been going a little stir crazy and doing stupid things.  Back in March, when it was 10 degrees out on a Saturday night, I got a call from one of my neighbors.  She’s like..”Um, I just saw your mom walking down the middle of the road in her walker and it’s dark and I almost hit her. Do you want me to get her?”  “No, I’ll get her.”   So, I figured she wanted to go to the store for something. Why, at 8 at night, she felt the urgent need to go to the corner store, when I had just taken her shopping that day, I don’t know.  I also knew she was getting cabin fever, so that very day, I bought her a dozen baby chicks to keep her occupied.  So, I get in the car and am like..what the hell, and at the same time least if she lived with us, the fire and police station are on the same street.  If she keeled over, someone would be more likely to see her on our new road.

I first stop at the corner store (us New Englanders call corner stores that sell alcohol “the Packie”, short for the Package Store). “Have you seen an old lady with a walker?”  “Yup, but it was like 20 minutes ago.”   The store takes my mom about an hour to walk to, so sometimes she goes to the biker bar across the street from it and calls a cab.  I’ve never had her do this in the winter though…or at night.  I walk into the bar with my ski clothes still on. Even though I was a biker babe 20 years ago, I look grossely out of place.  “Did a little old lady with a walker come in here?”  No.  Everyone’s looking at me, like, what are you doing in our bar, but luckily, the most tattoed patron sitting at the bar said he saw her walking down the street about 10 minutes ago.  I thank him and leave.  I find Babci.  She is moving at a snail’s pace.  She’s got a 6 pack of Heineken in the little basket that hangs off the front of her walker.

What the hell are you doing?  “I needed exercise.”  “At Night, in the Cold, In the middle of the street?”  Get in. She’s mad that she’s been found out.   “I’m fine. Nothing was going to happen.”   And that’s the thing with Babci (and a trait I also inherited).  She still feels invincible even though she has a heart condition.  She never thinks about the worst case, but the best case.   Sure, go for a walk and get some exercise, but do it during the day when people can see you if something happens.  Turns out she started her walk when it was still daylight but it took her a lot longer than anticipated to get there with her shortness of breath.

So..even though we are spending a fortune fixing this 2 family, I’m SO glad she’s living with us now, so her antics will be a little more closely monitored.  There is also lots to do here but that’s a whole other set of posts.

So, with every Babci story, I try to get to the heart of why/how she chooses to do something.  I think I understand why sometimes she fails to see the risks of doing certain things. If she only thought about the worst case scenario all the time, her already dreary life would have been unbearable.  When you grow up in a war torn country, the worst case is death and/or starvation.  You can’t go there mentally or it would destroy you. Hope is what keeps people going in the most dire of circumstances.  She also would have never come to America in her late 30′s.  The hope of a better life by taking a leap of faith was the way she ended up where she is today…and although my dad wasn’t all he was cracked up to be, at least she got me out of it, which probably was worth all the suffering after all.

So that’s a quick Babci Story for the week.


An unsponsored list of my favorite products

by Sandy L on August 22, 2013

I think I’m going to start posting random product observations on my blog as it seems to be increasingly difficult to find unbiased, un-sponsored product reviews for stuff.   As we’ve just bought another fixer and I’m doing a lot of online research on different products,  I feel like it’s getting  increasingly more difficult because most sites with product review info are just hocking some product for personal gain.

So, here are my observations in no particular order.

My Favorite Beauty Products

GLIDE Floss – It’s great for people that don’t have a lot of space between their teeth. It doesn’t shred like regular floss, but whatever you do, don’t buy the mint flavored glide. It is much more brittle than the unflavored glide and it breaks all the time. Unflavored Glide is the only way to go.

Bobby Brown Foundation Stick – This is the most expensive thing in my makeup bag, but it gives great coverage without me looking like a kabuki doll.  It also isn’t pasty or runny like other foundations. On Amazon it says it’s over $50, but I got mine at an Outlet mall in a beauty store for $22. It lasts forever, so I don’t feel guilty buying it. I definitely don’t follow the chuck your makeup after 3 months rule, so I don’t mind spending a little more on this item.

Cover Girl Pressed Powder – It’s cheap, it was the first thing I ever used as a teenager, and I still think it is the best shine control product out there that is also hypoallergenic.  I have super sensitive skin and this stuff doesn’t do a thing to it.

Dove Soap – Pretty much my whole family has sensitive skin.  Dove is one of the few soaps where it’s moisturizing, gentle enough for babies, but I also feel like it’s cleaning me too. Some of those other brands like caress feel like you’re just slathering yourself with lotion and not getting clean.

My Favorite Household Products

Just bought a bunch of these

Kitchen Stuff.  As a materials person, I love stainless. It’s one of the best raw materials to use for kitchen tools. I hate rusty things that don’t hold up in the dishwasher.  Spoons, pots, mixing bowls, yes, even appliances.  It’s easy to clean, easy to sanitize and does not impart odors onto food. I’m actually thinking the island on my next kitchen remodel may have one of those freestanding stainless steel work tables that restaurant kitchens have. Mason Jars are my second most favorite item.  Polycarbonate is still my plastic of choice for food grade storage. Despite all the BPA hysteria which is totally based on wonky science, this material has the best properties for food storage use. Polycarbonate can last decades and doesn’t have that plasticy smell. It doesn’t stain like Polyethylene and it’s completely transparent so you can see the stuff you are storing. I went a little nuts and bought a bunch of the Cambro containers to put all my food in. In a house that’s 200 years old, you can never be too careful to keep the pests out.  Kitchen supply stores still sell polycarbonate food storage containers, but you’re out of luck for small appliances. I had to resort to tag sales to find a food processor made with PC.  The alternatives crack and shrink in the dishwasher. They’re horrible and who’s to say that plastic is any safer?  I digress and I don’t want this to turn into a toxicology post, so off I go to the next item.

Product DetailsBar Keeper’s Friend – I am in love again. When my new stainless steel fridge was delivered, there were these annoying suction cup marks from the factory that I couldn’t get off my door.  When I called the manufacturer, one of the many suggestions they gave me was to make paste of bar keeper’s friend and water and gently rub the stainless to get the marks off.  It worked when stainless cleaner, baking soda paste, WD40 and a whole host of other things did not.

My I-Pad – My kids are always trying to get a turn using it, but I also use this device constantly for work. Although it’s not perfect, I use it Far Far more than I thought I would.  It’s a purchase I don’t regret.

Picture frame hooks – who invented these things? They are brilliant. You can hold 30 pounds on a tiny little triangle thing. It’s really a clever feet of engineering, despite the fact that you can buy a pack of 50 for $3.

Paint and Primer in one – I’ll admit, I was a skeptic, but it really does work.  There are multiple brands out there, but it is my paint of choice for indoor projects. I’m going to experiment and see if they have an outdoor version because my house is white and has some bare spots and sometimes it’s hard to find the primer section that you just painted when the rest of your house is already white.Product Details

Zout – It’s the best stain remover and I’ve tried them all. Shout, oxiclean, and the others don’t even come close. Be careful though because I put it on my dresser once and it ate the varnish off my furniture.  That made me mad and sad, but it still gets blood out and grass stains and almost anything. The only thing it doesn’t seem to remove is armpit stains.

My Favorite Clothes

The Gap Pullover Sweatshirt – If you catch a good sale, you can get them for $14 and they are warm, comfy and last through a million washings.  My kids live in these sweatshirts and won’t wear anything else.  I’ve been personally impressed that they haven’t faded by now and are such a bargain.  Although I prefer fleece, the young ones like cotton.

 CONCRETENylon Pants from REI – It’s been a while since anyone’s seen my pasty white legs, but when it’s hot in the summer, I can still keep them covered and cool at the same time.  Even if my legs looked like Giselle Bunchen’s, I still would wear these in the summer because the mosquitoes are so vicious.  It’s also easier and faster to keep covered than using sunscreen.  I use REI brand because they have the 34″ inseam option and fit me well. Although they aren’t that hip, I live in these things when I’m kicking around the house or out doing something active.  I also stock up on those thin fitted T-shirts from Target. They’re usually about $6-$8 each. They don’t last more than a season because they get all stretched out, but I like the fit and the weight of the target T’s and for $8, I don’t mind buying a few every season.

Land’s End Slender Suits – Well worth the money and very comfortable, although I was annoyed that when the I bought mine, the swimsuits were on sale, however the tall sizes were still full priced. They do stretch out if you swim a lot in chlorine, so I usually take my el cheapo bathing suit to the pool with the kids and save the nice one for the beach/lake.

LLBean Stuff – They are pricey but their stuff lasts forever and you can return things at any time for any reason. I love their supima flannel sheets. Their regular lower end flannel pilled. It didn’t used to but it does now so I returned them and upgraded for the higher end sheets and haven’t been disappointed.  My husband buys this jeans there and my kids love their PJ’s and slippers.  Their snowsuits are amazing. We received one as a gift and it lasted through 3 kids and still look brand new.  Unfortunately, nothing ever fits me right from this store and it makes me sad that  I can’t buy some of my clothing staples here, but they still made my list because the rest of my family uses their stuff.  We don’t buy everything from here as it’s too expensive to furnish you whole wardrobe from this store, but for those things you want to last a long time, it’s definitely a great place to shop.

Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a little thin on the clothes department. I’m still in search of the perfect shoe. If anyone has shoe suggestions, I want to know. I was using Clark’s but they are not lasting like they used to and the fit gets overly loose over time. Plus, they look like granny shoes.  I also hate traditional running shoes. My toes always seem to get numb wearing them.

What are some of your favorite products? I’m always wanting to know what people’s favorite items are. It’s really hard to find stuff you really love vs just a meh type of thing, so do share.


Cheapskate Stories – Housing Sales and Group Dinners

August 7, 2013

Tweet So, we’ve been living in our house about a month now and I continue to get annoyed about the cheapness of the people we bought the house from.  We went into this purchase with eyes wide open knowing that the house is a gut job and needed LOTS of work.  We paid what we […]

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Knucklehead Unplanned Expenses

July 25, 2013

Tweet So, it’s official. We’re moved into our new to us old farmhouse.  I gave a tour to a colleague of mine a week before we moved in and he’s like “Wow..there is no way in hell my wife would ever move into a house in this state.”   He didn’t say it in a mean […]

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Babci’s Dream House

May 2, 2013

Tweet We’re on dumpster 11 in the rehab of our 2 family.  The sad thing is that we haven’t even started gutting the inside yet. That’s just the major exterior repairs like roof  (3 layers) and rotted siding and trash removal.   We found some old tractor tires, rusted milk buckets and barbed wire during our […]

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Babci’s Revenge

April 24, 2013

Tweet This weekend’s tagsaling event did not disappoint. I did get a new Babci story to share with you all. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Babci has been known to have a bit of a vindictive side. For those who have done unusually cruel things to her or her family, she has no issue […]

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Debt/Home Consolidation Here we come

April 20, 2013

Tweet So my life has been so crazy these last few weeks, I couldn’t even write about it. Last week I went to an amazing wedding in Ireland full of interesting and creative entrepreneurs. The bride is a fashion designer and her crowd was so refreshingly inspiring. We were friends of the groom, so had […]

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Growing Up Frugal – The Rag Store

March 24, 2013

Tweet So Single Mom Rich Mom is posting again too..Hurray. She wrote a funny article about the similarities of Chuck Norris to Mr. Money Moustache. The article was pretty funny, but in the comments, it even got more interesting.  You see, MMM is big on living the extreme frugal lifestyle..or at least talking about it […]

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Staying Motivated during Debt Reduction

March 11, 2013

Tweet In my previous post on life lessons learned from debt freedom, rented life asked: When you went all in, (relating to cutting expenses) how did you sustain that? We could cut a few things–our bi-weekly date night (a movie, or a dinner, never both), eating less meat (though that doesn’t appeal to me, as […]

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Life Lessons I Learned from Debt Freedom

February 26, 2013

Tweet This post is dedicated to Mutant Supermodel, who reached out to me and  told me my posts were missed.  Thank you for the inspiration to put pen to paper again. So a lot has happened since my last post a few months ago. Babci was in the hospital a couple of times (she is […]

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