I need a new handheld cordless drill. My last one was a gift I got over 20 years ago – a Chanukkah present from my Dad. A blue 9v Makita that was part of a kit that included a drill, a flashlight, a saw, a charger, and 2 batteries in a nice carrying case. Of course I don’t have any photos because it was long before digital cameras, and way before this blog started.
That drill served me well, through our first apartment in Menlo Park, to our move to Austin, and eventually into our first house. I’ve used it to replace electrical outlets, create furniture from scratch, assemble IKEA bookshelves and cabinets, and so much more. I reach for that tool more than any other. It has been reliable, and hard working. Never letting me down. Until now.
I’ve been slow to admit it, but – I’ve known that the drill has been dying. The battery isn’t holding a charge as long as it used to, and the drill itself just doesn’t have the same power as it once used to. But for sentimental reasons, I haven’t done anything. Once I thought about just replacing the battery. That way I’d keep the drill, with all it’s memories. But , it’s only 9.6v though, and at 20 years old the technology isn’t really cutting edge anymore. Plus, new batteries are going for as much as $72 on Amazon, so for just a bit more I can get a new drill, that should last me another 20 years.
But which one should I get?
It seems like every house blogger has a different favorite:
John and Sherry seem to like a Black and Decker model that’s no longer available.
With so many choices, what is a DIY guy on a budget to choose? I shop like a man. I do minimal research on-line and then just walk into a store (or hit the one-click-order button) and be done. I want to know that I’m getting not only a hard working handleld drill, but also a good deal. Something at least as good as the last cordless drill.
After a quick internet search, I’ve narrowed down the choices to the following 6. I’ve got a short list of features I want. For this drill I’m not really looking for a system. Just a hard working tool that won’t crap out on me in 6 months.
Long battery life
Drill & screw mode
Rugged and Tough
So I’ve narrowed down my choices to these that all cost around $100 bucks. (links to Amazon products)
Which one should I go with? Do you have a favorite? What features do you find most important? HELP!
When I was a kid, I remember this one bathroom stall at a summer camp I used to go to. It had white tile, with white grout, and someone had made interesting grafitti in it. Not the usual crude stuff with a sharpie or spray paint. No. This person had used a mechanical pencil to write the Grout wall of China. A significant amount of time had been spent writing tiny sayings, quotes and jokes inside the grout between the tiles. If you didn’t look carefully it was so easy to miss. But once you saw it, you just couldn’t stop reading.
Instead of trying to recreate that in our guest bathroom, I decided it was simplier and easier to hang two of my favorite pictures (that I have taken) of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The first was inspired by a photo I saw in a Rick Steves Paris Guide Book, and the 2nd was shot later that day.
I’ve got each printed as 9×14 and mounted in the Ikea Ribba frame. Each hangs in portrait above the commode at eye level and centered in the middle.
How do you decorate your bathroom? What art do you put there?
Right now, I will show you how to easily and quickly start a WordPress blog, so yo can start blogging about your house, life, or whatever else you want!
I’ve been blogging for years, and it has changed my life! Not only do I make money with my blog, but I have made new friends, and even gotten clients to work with me, all because I started this website and doing something that I love. You too, can start a money-making blog for less than $2 a week. I’ll give you a discount/promo code for Dreamhost (my hosting company), that I’ve negotiated with them which gives you the best deal possible. You will get to pick your blogs name, and even receive a free 1-click install of WordPress, the easiest to use, and most popular blogging platform in the workd.
If you are looking to start a WordPress blog, want to make sure you have lots of free support, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, then choosing Dreamhost for your hosting needs is your answer. Dreamhost is a great webhost, and I’ve been using them for over 12 years (which is forever in internet time).
Blogging is so much fun! You get to meet new people on-line, share your ideas, and learn new ones, and even have the opportunity to make money. I personally know of several bloggers who have made ofer $100,000 a month from blogging and blogging related services. This may seem like a crazy number, but if you consider paid posts, affiliate links, and advertising, it isn’t that hard to imagine.
Because of blogging, I am able to work from home when I want, I can take my family on vacations or travelling whenever I want, and I have a 100% flexible schedule. I love my life, and can’t believe how much it has changed for the good, all because I started blogging on a regular basis.
You don’t need special skills. Anyone can make money with a WordPress blog. I was able to make the money back that I paid for hosting very quickly, once I installed adsense on my site, and I’m sure you will be able to make your money back quickly as well using the same techniques.
Dreamhost is consistently one of the TOP rated web hosting companies year after year, and you can start your own blog with them from as little as $7.95 per month (using my special link only!). Plus if you sign up with my link and purchase a 12 month or longer hosting plan you can save even more. I hightly reccomend signing up for the year plan through Dreamhost. It’s affordable and can save you a lot of money in the long run. If you want to save even more, and get a better deal, the 36-month plan gives you the absolute best possible rate.
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Don’t make the mistake of starting a blog on Blogger just to save a little bit of money. There are many limitations when you have a free blog, including not being able to have any advertisiers or make any money from it. Using one of the free services is a really bad idea, and it is super hard to change over once you have started with a different company.
If you have any interest in making money from blogging, turning it into a business, or becoming a freelancer, use Dreamhost to host your blog. It’s cheaper in the long run, and you get world class support plus 100% guaranteed uptime (this is important so when someone comes to your site, they know it will be there). When you use Dreamhost, you can run any of your own affiliate links, direct advertisements, and even sponsored posts. Most of these are not allowed with the free blogging services. Using WordPress on Dreamhost is professional, easy, and the industry standard.
Why do I use Dreamhost? I’ve got lots of reasons, here are some just a few:
Super easy to use. Even YOU can quickly and easily create a WordPress blog with just one click using my tutorial below. DreamHost makes it super easy so create a WordPress blog.
The BEST technical support in the business
100% guaranteed uptime
VERY affordable – You can have a blog of your own for just $2 a week (less than a Starbucks).
You can pick any name you want for your Blog.
Dreamhost offers dozens of free templates for you to use for your WordPress Blog
Jetpack is included – get stats, security, and contact features for free!
WordPress offers a money back guarantee!
You can monetize your blog – get advertisers, affiliates, and sponsored posts!
Be OFFICIAL – look professional, and make this business a success!
To get stated, head on over to DreamHost to begin. There are tons of different web hosting comapnies, but Dreamhost is always rated one of the best. This is the reason so many bloggers use DreamHost.
After you have signed up for hosting, I’ve got all the steps you need to do to start a blog on WordPress. The simple steps are listed below. If, at any time, you have any questions about the process, you can always send me an email and I can help you out. That’s the best part about bloggers, we have a community and all love to help each other succeed!
I don’s know about you, but in addition to having my house look nice, I like for everything to work. Sadly that isn’t always the case. AmIright?
The house is never perfect, and there are always 101 things on my honey-do list that need constant attention. Plus, I’m sure you will agree, everyone and everything wants our attention. I’m 2 for 2 aren’t I?
For the last few weeks (ahem – months), the switch for the garbage disposal next to the sink has been on the fritz. It would work, sometimes, but only if you jiggled it, or sort of leaned on in in a certain direction when you toggled it on.
Just so you know it’s the switch on the right – closest to the solar hula girl we got when we were in Hawaii last time. The other switch is for our dishwasher. Yep, we have a separate switch that can turn on, and off the dishwashwer independent of any controls on the actual machine. But that’s a different story.
These kinds of things drive me crazy. You expect them to work, and they just don’t. I’ve got a few of these things around the house – stuff like the front porch light that only seems to work when it’s cold outside. Or the little piece of baseboard that always seems to fall down because it wasn’t nailed in 100%
There’s no need to get into all the details about how to change an electrical switch – there are hundreds of useful YouTube videos for that. I’ll just share some sexy photos from the process – starting with the new flush mount switches and new cover plate.
The whole process took about an hour – it would have been faster had each switch not been on it’s own circuit. And the overall TOTAL cost was about $6. Each switch was $2, and the cover plate was a buck and a half, and now they also match the rest of the switches in our house.
I didn’t opt for the heavy duty switches which are reccomended for this area – because soon we will be remodeling our kitchen. Obviously, as you can see from the oudtated 4×4 white tiles, and original laminate countertops.
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Let me just say right now that I’m not talking all my stuff and putting it in a big pile in the middle of the room. That’s. Just. Not. Going. To. Happen.
But I have to ask myself – will the Konmari Method work for a 46 year old father?
You see, here’s my problem. It’s one I’ve had since I was about 13. I can’t focus on any work unless the space I’m in is perfect. Of course what is perfect to me is 100% nuts to everybody else. Isn’t that always the case?
Let me give you an example: Writing this blog. I’ve started and abandoned blogging for as long as the internet has been around. My problem isn’t that I don’t stick to it, it’s that I get distracted. Here are just a few things that I had to take care of TODAY before I could write this post:
Do the dishes
Fold the Clothes
Mow the Lawn
Take the garbage cans out
Bring the garbage cans in (as soon as the truck went by)
go over the floors quickly with the Dyson
And about 100 other things. All these chores had to be done before I could focus. Now, I’m sure there is some great medicine for people like me, but I still manage to get along in life just fine. I was able to write this post, obviously, but as I click publish, it’s 4:30 IN THE AFTERNOON.
What I am hoping for is a system I can adopt that will keep my life in order so I can focus on the things that are important to me. Is that too much to ask?
PS – If you are wondering what I’m talking about it’s all in this book.
I love our big old oak tree in the backyard. I’ts got the perfect placement, so a large majority of our yard is grass for the kiddo and pups to play on, but when the grown ups want to hang out on the deck and just chill in the late afternoon when the Texas sun hits the backyard , we are made in the shade. (more…)
Nineteen years with the same person (plus another 6 or so before I popped the question).
“Ad astra per alia porci” ~ to the stars on the wings of a pig.
There isn’t much we don’t know about each other after this much time. Pretty much we have been through it all. The ups and the down, and even some unexpected sideways curve balls through the years. We know the ins and outs of our monthly budget, so when I want something (or she does) we just buy it for ourselves. Except for the really big ticket items – those we still run by each other first.
As you can imaginge, it’s hard to shop for her. Not only does she have everything she needs, but I’ve been getting anniversary presents for her for nearly 20 years, and am just about tapped out.
That was until the other day when I was touring a house and saw this ceramic flying pig. Both my wife and I love the Pigasus, as we grew up in Salinas and are big fans of John Steinbeck. The flying pig was used by Steinbeck as his personal stamp, along with the motto “Ad astra per alia porci” ~ to the stars on the wings of a pig.
I had to find one for her! Turning to her favorite on-line shop, and a quick search, I found the perfect item. When I noticed that it would be handmade and shipped from Poland, I quickly ordered it.
For the last 5 years, I’ve been an agent with JB Goodwin. Five wonderful years.
I began my career here, fresh out of real estate school, having just passed the Texas Real Estate Test, I was looking for a brokerage that would help me launch my new life as a Realtor.
My decision couldn’t have been a better one.
Often people underestimate the benefits that a great brokerage plays in a new agent’s life. Not only do you need help learning all the ins and outs of the buisiess, but also you want to find a broker that doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg for trainings, or take a huge cut of your commission check.
However, over time, my needs changed. What was once an important factor, didn’t seem so significant anymore. And so it was time for a change.
I’m not ashamed to say that there was a little tear when I wrote my resignation letter.
Come back in a few days to learn where I now hang my license, and why I chose them.
Have you ever needed a change? Share it with me in the comments below.
Whenever new statistics about the Austin housing market come out, I like to dig deep into them, and find out what is really going on.
You see, this last summer, a lot of agents have told me that it feels slower than usual for them. Others have had a great summer. I can understand both of the situations. When you look carefully at the numbers, it is really very clear.
Here in Austin, there are really 3 different real estate markets:
The bottom of the market
The mid range
The luxury homes
Let’s start by talking about the bottom of the market. These are average priced homes that cost $300,ooo or less. This is a HOT market. Homes are frequently on the market for just days (sometimes only hours), and get multiple offers. Frequently they are bought for all cash with a fast close and no inspection, buy flippers or corporate investors. This is the majoirty of the first time homebuyer market, and it is very competitive. Things move fast, and you can’t be picky.
The middle of the market are homes from $3000,000 – $750,000 or so. Move up homes. People who are buying their 2nd or even 3rd property (after selling their first). This part of the market also sees a lot of people moving to Austin from other parts of the country. After analyzing the numbers, this is almost a balanced market. Houses tend to stay for sale longer, there are more places to choose from, and there is more negotiating on price. It’s what you would expect to see in an average area where buyers have more homes to choose from, but can’t really dilly-dally because they will sell fast, just not overnight.
Finally we have the top end, the luxury homes. Here in Austin, that’s defined as houses costing 3/4 of a Million dollars or more. This encompasses a lot of the downtown condo market, as well as many homes in Westlake, Hill Country, and even parts of central Austin. In this section of the market, there are more homes than buyers, and people are a lot more picky. I’d be picky too if I was spending that much on a house. These homes take much longer to sell, and buyers have a much larger selection to choose from.
So, while the numbers put out by the board show a slowing in some cases, it is easy to see why, when you look at market data segmented by price.
There is this one spot in my kitchen that’s just perfect for making coffee. Trouble is, I don’t have it set up that way.
Most days, I’m an early riser. I always have been. Never needed to set an alarm clock a day in my life.
I wake up, rub my eyes a few time, thankful that I’ve made it through another night successfully, and mosey into the kitchen. To simply make a cup of coffee.
Heading over to the drip coffee maker, I take out the carafe, which I usually have to rinse out before I even get started. Thankfully I’ve got the coffee maker near the sink. So there’s that.
While I’m cleaning it, I fill it up with water, and dump it into the reservoir. So far so good.
Then I have to dump out the used filter and ground in the garbage can – this is on the other side of the kitchen, in the pantry. Generally the grounds have dried out a little bit so they don’t drip on the floor, but sometimes they do. Now I’ve got a mess to clean up.
Heading back to the coffee maker, I reach into a cabinet and fish out a new clean filter and assemble the whole thing.
Next back across the kitchen to the fridge where I grab my pre-ground Peets Major Dickason, and then take a little side trip to the silverware drawer to grab a tablespoon to scoop out the magic crystals.
Back to the drip machine, grounds, and measuring spoon in hand, where I carefully scoop and dump the required amount for the volume of coffee I am preparing. Shut the lid, hit the little green button to turn it on, and wait.
Soon the house is filled with the delicious, and familiar morning smell of freshly brewed coffee.
There has to be an easier way.
So many steps, so many trips around the kitchen. So much work!
I’ve been noticing a trend at some of the houses I visit. No, not the houses I am previewing for clients, or touring with buyers. These are actual homes that people live in.
When I take my 5-year old kiddo over to a friend’s house for a play date, the other parents invariably offer me a cup of coffee. I do the same when the situation is reversed. But I’ve noticed something different at these other houses. All their coffee supplies are in one place. Neat. Tidy. Efficient.
These folks weren’t running all over their kitchens gathering the supplies needed to make a simple cup of Joe. Why hadn’t I thought of this?
So now I’m on a mission.
There is this perfect section of counter in my kitchen that would be ideal for a Coffee area.
Right now it has an oversized, under-cleaned toaster oven, a 5 gallon jug of homemade wine, and the rest of the space collects empty bottles and boxes for recycling. – now that I think of it, this may lead to a recycling station as another upcoming project. Stay on topic, now Eric.
Of course the first step in any project is to turn to Pinterest and the web to get inspiration.
What are some of the essentials you have in your coffee station. Do you prefer a more industrial look, or something a bit more country? How have you streamlined your morning ritual? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below and I’ll incorporate them into my area as I’m re-doing it.
It’s not that we didn’t have grass, only that my parents always had someone come and service the yards when I was a kid. That’s why I was so excited to move into this house. I finally had a front and back yard to mow!
One of the very first tools I purchased was a $100 push mower.
Before I even moved our furniture in, I had pushed that thing back and forth across the yard, slicing each blade of grass literally by hand. Even in March in Austin, I worked up a healthy sweat.
This is great exercise, I thought. If I can keep this up for 6-weeks, I’ll be in great shape, and my yard will look like a putting green – (isn’t that the dream of every home-owner?)
As you can guess, after just a handful of cuts, things began to change.
My enthusiasm began to wane. The reel mower, as eco friendly wasn’t powerful enough to slice through the thick St. Augustine grass in my front yard and I began to neglect the turf. Finally I gave up and did what my dad did as I was growing up, and hired a guy to cut the grass for me every few weeks.
Over time my lawn began to look less healthy, and last year, when a neighborhood kid came by and offered to cut my grass for$20 (and then scalped it nearly to the dirt), I had to re-take control and reevaluate my lawn.
First I turned to the internet, and then I found the Lawn Care Nut on YouTube. This guy makes taking care of your lawn easy, and even fun! You should absolutely check out his chanel after you read my blog.
Then it was time for me to buy some tools. Manly tools. The kind that are gas-powered, and heavy, and noisy!
I don’t just whip out my American Express and purchase the very first one I see – no sir! It takes some research, spreadsheets, and interneting.
Must Have Features that are important to me in a new lawn mower (in no particular order):
Easy to start
Easy to clean
Ability to mulch or bag
Not too loud
Handles sticks and leaves
User replaceable parts (in case something breaks)
This is quite a wish list, I know. Most likely I won’t be able to get all these, but hopefully, I can get enough to make cutting the grass more fun, and less of a chore.
With my initial research done, I headed over to Home Depot – and got to work.
Let me tell you – even with all the research it is still super hard to decide. Over 15 choices framing in price from $100 to over $1000. There were some features on my must have list like self-propelled , mulching, and easy to start that were non-negotiable. At the same time I also didn’t want to break the bank. Ultimately I went with reviews. Using my iPhone n the store I went to Home Depot.com and began to look at reviews right in the aisle. First I looked at the top of the price range for me Toro brand and I kept seeing recent 1 star reviews with all sorts of different problems. That pretty much elimitated that choice.
Then I decided to check out the reviews for my #2 – it was less expensive, but had all the features I wanted, and tons of 4 and 5 star reviews, both recent and old.
I had to make a few sacrifices – Ultimately I wanted a metal deck for longevity but overall the price and other features won out.
Once home, I unloaded the nearly 100 pound box (all by myself) and began the unboxing process. I was a bit concerned because the cardboard box was damaged, and had some crushed edges, but inside the Yard Machines lawn mower was in great shape, and undamaged.
Included in the box was a plastic bag with some instructionmanuals, warranty cards, and enough oil for me to get started without having to take a 2nd trip back to Home Depot. Of course it wouldn’t be unusual, as I forget some little doo-dad all the time, but it was nice this time to be able to get home and stay home.
Assembly was SUPER easy.
This thing came completely assembled right from the box. All I had to do was attach the collection bag to the metal frame. Everything else was all put together.
Additionally, I had to unfold the all metal handle and extend it like the instructions called for. Sadly and Thankfully no tools were needed. Of course I love using my tools, but this mower came with big easy to grip plastic handles that easily unscrewed to extend the handle and put it at just the right height for my six-foot tall frame. The whole process took like 3 minutes.
Next I had to add oil and gas to the engine. There are two clearly labeled screw caps which maked identifying the proper reservoir easy. The oil was easy to fill one handed so I grabbed a quick photo, but the gas took 2 hands so no picture of that for you. Just close your eyes for a moment, and imagine me using my red jerry can to fill the gas tank.
Scroll down and read how it went for me after the photos.
Third I had to add the motor oil, which thankfully was included – I really appreciate that, as I’d have to take another trip back to Home Depot if it wasn’t.
For the first time in my 46 years on this earth I used a gas powered mower to cut my own lawn.
It was so easy!
First I primed the engine by pressing the red bulb about a dozen times. I could feel the pressure inside the carb change when it was full. That’s how I knew it was ready.
Then I held down the blade control lever, grabbed the pull handle, and gave the thing a good yank just like you see in the movies.
Guess what? It started right up on the first pull! There was a little bit of a stutter as the engine slowly came to life. Imagine my surprise! I expected to yank on that rope for a good 20 minutes and then have to call customer service or something, but NO! It worked right out the gate.
Mowing the lawn was easy.
I adjusted the height of the wheels to the middle setting pulled the self-propel lever and in literally no time was able to cut the extra thick and tall grass in my front yard!
It looked amazing!
And I got to experience that summer smell of cut grass all day long.
Are you thinking of buying a new mower? What features are important to you? Share your story below in the comments about the first time you mowed a lawn – I can’t wait to read them!