Fixing the small things

Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc


Stuff breaks down. It’s pretty inevitable especially with the way manufacturers aim for shorter shelf life and cheaper products. Whenever possible I try to buy something higher quality and spend a bit more so that it lasts longer. No matter what though electronics will always break since they have more parts. Printers only last a few years usually and computers are considered obsolete after a few years. It’s sad to just throw it out though so I try my best to fix it, and if its long gone then recycle it or donate it to Goodwill.

Even things like soap dispensers can be pretty complicated! I have two automatic soap dispensers for a couple of years now and so far they’ve both malfunctioned. One was just over the warranty period but was replaced because of the company’s excellent customer service. Another one I dismantled and fixed myself. Yay! I fixed it and now I don’t need to buy a new soap dispenser. Oh and by the way, I didn’t buy these two. My husband won them in a contest. I wouldn’t let him buy these at $40 each!

Admittedly my husband is usually the one who goes around fixing things. He’s pretty successful at it too! This time though he couldn’t figure out how to fix it and was ready to buy a new soap dispenser. I wasn’t ready to chuck the $40 dispenser though so I attempted to fix it too. Luckily it works now.

Not everything can be fixed though and it’s sad when I have to toss things. We usually try our best to make sure we buy items that last as long as possible.

Do the research and buy a good brand that’s higher quality
Our go to brand for house items is usually SimpleHuman. Their products are pricey but they are made to last. They also have warranties and make good on those warranties if you are diligent! In fact they even gave us a new soap dispenser even though it was just past the warranty period. They have tons of good reviews on Amazon too. We have a shower caddy, dish rack, two automatic soap dispensers, sink caddy, and two trash cans. It’s stayed with us through 2 moves and is lasting a lot longer than other products we had before.

The first thing we do before buying something is look at reviews about the product. If a product has absolutely no reviews most likely we’re not buying it. Our only exception is if it’s a really good discounted price and the previous model had great reviews.

Treat things like new
While cleaning out my kitchen I found an old George Foreman grill! Even though it was ten years old I kept such good care of it that it was still very clean and worked. I used to move around a lot and I always kept it packed away in the original box to keep it safe. I donated it in the hopes that someone else will have a use for it. For everything I own I try my best to take care of it to keep it as like new as possible. That means cleaning it and running maintenance when needed. The easiest way to throw away money is to not take care of things and let them break because of that.

Don’t toss it unless it’s really broken
I figure that it’s already broken so why not tinker with it a little to see if I can fix it? The worst that can happen is that it can stay broken. Our printer went on the fritz not too long ago and I was able to fix it enough to get it to hang on for a little longer. Lost the fight on that one though and ended up having to buy a new one. It was about 6 years old though so we were able to get more than our money’s worth. If I can actually get something working again it’s a great feeling to know I was able to fix it! There might be cursing involved before I get there but then I also save money in the end.

Toss it in the trash if it’s the last option
Goodwill takes all types of electronics and tries to fix them to sell them in their stores. Even though I couldn’t fix my printer, I donated it there just in case somewhere there can. If they can’t fix it then they make sure it is recycled. For other items I see if its perhaps recyclable.

For a little longer, or perhaps a lot longer, I get to enjoy my automatic soap dispenser. Pretty handy for when both my hands are dirty. It was a pretty easy fix too so if it malfunctions again I know what to do. The best part? I get to keep my mula.

Are you the type of person to try to fix something broken?

Our House in the Middle of Our Street

Photo Credit: merfam via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: merfam via Compfight cc

People have always told us that buying a house is basically like signing up for a never-ending project! Well we’re just starting that project and we keep seeing things we would like to fix or update. Our house renovations are still on going but we’ve made some progress and even done some of the work ourselves! We’ve still got a long way to go before we’re satisfied for now. We want to get it to a point we’re we can stop for a little bit and just enjoy our place and maybe just do some small things or maintenance. During this entire process we’re learning a lot and also seeing our money fly away pretty quickly.

It’s been pretty stressful and a lot of hard work fixing up our place. I’m lucky that my husband has been taking care of dealing with contractors and letting them into the house. We haven’t moved into our house and still live in our apartment. My work place is only a few minutes away from the apartment while his is halfway to the house. It makes a lot more sense for him to drive to the house obviously than for me. He’s definitely going to be very happy once we’re done fixing up the house!

This weekend we actually were able to do some work ourselves! We had asbestos experts come in to take down the not so lovely popcorn ceiling properly and then a handyman to fix up other parts of the house. The ceilings were drywalled, we had some wood paneling taken off and drywalled, and the bathrooms and lights were updated. Hire painters cost a good amount and was one thing we felt we could do ourselves. It felt like we took on almost too much when we got to it though! It took us the entire weekend to prime and paint all the ceilings that were drywalled. The majority of the house other than the kitchen needed it. We’re pretty happy with the end result though and we were able to save a ton of money on it!

We’re learning how to look at renovation and house fixes in a different way to see what’s possible and what we can save money on.

Do what needs to be done first
There are a ton of things that we can do to our house but we’re taking care of major items and essentials first. I wish we had a ton of money and could just update or fix everything possible but of course that’s not going to happen. We’ve had to pick and choose what we get done now before moving and what we can do later on. It’s hard to sometimes decide on what you really want done first but if you look at it in a more practical way it usually works. Anything that is easier to get done before moving we’re trying to do now. Everything else can wait.

Always ask for alternatives
There are always a few ways to fix up or renovate things. One wall of our living room had wood panels that had been painted over white. The wood paneling even extended to the doors in that wall and it was done so that the doors blended into the wall! When it came time to deciding on what to do with the doors with wood paneling we were presented with the option of just replacing the door. Hollow doors cost about $35 each and are simple to install. One door though was an odd size and later on it was decided that it was best to just fill in the wood paneling. We ended up with two doors being entirely replaced and one being filled in. If we had known we could fill in the wood paneling we would’ve just done that instead of replacing the doors.

If possible do it ourselves
Painting the ceiling was extremely hard work and took the entire weekend. By the end we were barely able to lift our arms without grimacing in pain. We took the time and effort to do it though and I’ll have to say the ceilings look great! Might need a bit of touch up in the last room we painted but overall pretty good. There are a ton of other things we’re also hoping to do ourselves. For example adding crown molding to the ceilings and to the doors. Something we’ll need a power tool for but I’m sure we can do it!


We’re progressing slowly but we’ll make it! This week the hardwood is being refinished and stained and that will be the last of contractors for a while! We’re intending to paint the rooms after that so that will be more fun for us. The ceilings are the hardest to paint though so we did get that out of the way already.

What do you want to do for your never-ending project?

Jumping on the DIY bandwagon

Photo Credit: stetted via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: stetted via Compfight cc

Our new house has been taken over by contractors and it’s a real big mess right now. Another few weeks before our house renovations are fully finished and we’re really crossing our fingers that everything will come out looking amazing. It’s hard to tell how the end result will be when you’re inexperienced and everything looks crazy! Well that’s definitely us, inexperienced that is, but we’ll learn as we go along. We peeked into the house this weekend and it’s really hard to imagine how it will look once completed. All the work that’s being done is only halfway finished.

Some people have been asking us if we’re doing the work ourselves but most logically jump to hiring contractors to do the work. A lot of the work being done now is more technical and requires more tools and expertise that we just don’t have. We also of course don’t have time to work on our house every single day as we both have full-time jobs. There are some things that are better off hiring someone else to do. It costs more to hire someone to do the work, but it would end up being worse if we attempted to do too much diy stuff ourselves. I’m certainly excited to start doing some things, but its always good to start small and then go from there. I might not have a knack for diy house renovations like my father does. Talent doesn’t always pass down to the next generation.

There are a few things we’re going to tackle ourselves for sure!

When we first moved in together a few years ago we decided to paint out apartment so that it would really feel like home. It came out decently well and now we have a little bit of painting under our belt. With our house we’ll have a little more know how and expertise to hopefully do the job right! This is one thing we’re willing to do on our own as it’s much more cost effective. We already have most of the tools and some know how and then we need to buy paint. Of course it’ll take a longer time painting it ourselves, but it’s one diy thing that will save money and is something we can do.

Not sure if gardening counts as diy but I’m going to count it! I can easily hire a gardener to take care of the yard but I’m going to try and see how much we can do ourselves! The garden has been neglected for a while and there are plants to prune, dead plants to cut down and toss, and a lot of weeding to take care of. I’ve dabbled here and there with a few potted plants but never to this scale. This weekend I tried weeding a bit and well…it’s going to take some time since the weeds have had the time to grow very nice deep roots. So if anyone has any tips for a beginner gardener please tell me!

Small fixtures
Things like light switch covers, door knobs, towel racks, toilet paper holders, and the shower head are all things that I’m sure we can easily figure out how to replace. These are all things that we don’t need to replace right away but when we have time and a lazy weekend. The details do help make a room look better.


I’m not going to run to the hardware store and buy up a bunch of tools right away. We have a tool set that we use for basic things but of course none of the big power tools stuff. One thing I would love to try doing ourselves is crown molding! My brother-in-law installed it in his house and it looks wonderful! Hopefully that’s something that I can figure out how to do. Plus I can always call him up and ask him for tips. Unfortunately he lives in another state though so I can’t have him come over to show me. I guess I will have to dig up my memories of using these tools in shop class years and years ago!

What kind of diy have you done before? If you haven’t before is there anything you want to do?

DIY Face Masks, Conditioner and More!

 Photo Credit: ebemobile via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ebemobile via Compfight cc

We all could use a little bit of pampering every now and then. Ladies and men included in this. There are tons of stores that sell you facial masks that you can buy for a ton of money, but you can also make them yourself. You’ll know exactly what you’re putting on your face and you’ll save some money too! You can also make your own conditioner and body scrubs! When I think back to how much I’ve spend on scrubs and conditioners and facial masks it adds up to quite a bit.

Here are some DIY recipes you can try out! Some I’ve tried myself and others I haven’t gotten to yet.

Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 cup water. Makes 8 ounces. Massage into hair and scalp for a minute or two then rinse.

Olive Oil Conditioner
Warning that this can make your hair really oily! It really deep conditions your hair though. Do this on a day you don’t have a big date.
-Lather in few tablespoons of oil and let sit one minute before rinsing.

Sugar Body Scrub
-Mix equal parts brown and white sugar. Place in jar, fill with olive oil until it covers sugar and a bit more. Add 1-2 tablespoons vanilla extract if you wish.

Oatmeal Mask
Used for: cleansing without drying, exfoliation, unclogging pores
-Mix 1/4 cup honey with 1 pouch of unsweetened oatmeal. Apply paste to skin, leave for 10 minutes.

Baking Soda Facial
Used for: acne, rids oil, prevents pimples, exfoliates, unclogging pores
-Mix baking soda and water to make a paste. Apply and leave for 15 minutes.
-Variation uses 1 teaspoon baking soda with 2 tablespoons pure clay mud mask

Applesauce Facial
Used for: rich in nutrients, soften and moisturize
-Mix equal parts applesauce with brown sugar. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, rinse off with circular motion.


There are a ton of DIY recipes on the internet that you can look up for your particular needs. These are just a small sampling that mostly use everyday products you most likely have in your home. I especially love using the apple cider vinegar conditioner. It saves me so much money and works really well. While my hair is wet there’s the slight smell of sweet vinegar but it goes away completely when it dries.

What body care products have you tried making on your own?

DIY Car Care

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

If you own a car, you are probably used to taking it to a garage every 6 months or few thousand miles for an oil change. Well, if you do not do this already, you better start! The best way to keep your car running smoothly is by regular maintenance! You will end up keeping your car for much longer than if you neglect your car and run it into the ground.

Many people, like me, do not know much beyond basic car maintenance. I have been learning the last few years a few things I can do on my own to keep my car in top shape. Since I am still living in an apartment complex, I do not have an area where I can perform my own oil changes. There are still a few things I can do myself that do not require a garage though. Check your car manual for DIY instructions as every car is different. Look on YouTube for instructional videos on how to do things yourself. You will keep your car in good shape and save some money!

Checking the oil levels

This is latest DIY car maintenance I am adding to my list. Every single car has a dipstick where you can pull it out to see what the level of your oil is. Wait until your car engine is cold before doing this. Then, pop open your hood and look for the dipstick. It is a long metal rod with a loop at one end. Pull it out, clean off the oil with a rag, then dip it in again. Hold the dipstick horizontally and look at where your oil level is. There should be an indicator of how full it is. If it’s not full you might need to add some oil to keep your engine running smoothly. Since I have not had to add oil to my engine before, I would probably ask someone who has done it before to help me at this point. It is supposed to be as simple as finding the cap for the engine oil and putting a bit of oil in, and then checking and rechecking with the dip stick. It is recommended to check twice a month.

Tire pressure

I have been checking the tire pressure for a few years now. Yeah! One of the first DIY car care items I learned about! It is recommended to do this weekly, but I think I end up doing it every other week. My Corolla uses the general bubble tires and is a light car so pressure holds fairly well. I have not checked the Prius yet. By keeping the tire pressure at their optimal levels, you will get the best gas mpg. Having the tire pressure be higher or lower will lower your gas mpg.

Check your tires only when cold. You will not get an accurate reading if they are warm. Make sure to buy your own tire pressure gauge. These can be as little as a few dollars or over ten for the fancy ones. I have a simple one and it works just fine. I never use the ones at the gas stations because they are so well-used they might not be accurate anymore. Open your driver’s door and check the panel inside for the optimal tire pressure. Then go around to each tire, unscrew the cap, and press the gauge firmly against each tire valve. If done right, the indicator in the tire gauge should pop out. You should not hear too much hissing from air escaping.

If the tire pressure is low, fill it up to the right tire pressure. You can do this at a gas station, or get your own tire inflator. I bought a Slime tire inflator that works off my car battery. It was easier for me to use this than using a gas station since I live in LA. Most gas stations are so small that the air pumps are shoved into an almost inaccessible corner.

Changing the cabin air filter

By changing the cabin air filter myself I save on maintenance fees! I also know exactly what type of filter is going into my car. The cabin air filter filters the air coming into your car from debris and sometimes bad smells. A simple air filter will only filter out dust and debris, a charcoal filter will also filter out smells. The latter is of course more expensive. For high traffic areas, usually a carbon filter is recommended. I currently have a regular air filter in my car, but next time I want to try the carbon version. Filters generally run $15-$25. It is recommended to be changed every 10,000 miles.

Check your car manual for the best directions to change your cabin air filter. For my Corolla, my filter is located behind my glove box. I have to unscrew and pop out the glove box, then I can just pop out the old one and put in the new filter. The used air filter can be pretty disgusting so use gloves if you want. Mine was originally white but had turned a dark gray. There was a dead bug, a pigeon feather, and a few little leaves in there too.

New windshield wipers once a year

Changing your windshield wipers might be a little tricky, but somehow I have managed. There is usually a little latch to pop off the old wipers, and then you have to pop in the new ones. When you buy wipers, usually it comes with instructions. If not, there is always YouTube. It is important to have wipers that work well of course so that you can see when you drive. By changing wipers yourself, you can save some money on maintenance fees. So do not be afraid to get the more expensive option. I have tried various brands, but spending a little more means longer lasting wipers that do not streak.

Be careful to know exactly what you are doing when changing your wipers. Once you take the old wipers off, make sure to put the metal piece down on your windshield. These are spring loaded and if they snap back onto your windshield without the rubber wipers attached, they can really do serious harm.

What kind of DIY car care do you do? Do you have any tips?