Stuff I Learned This Week

Silver linings, beautiful life lessons, deep thoughts, and discovering John Lennon did not coin the quote below makes up the stuff I learned this week.

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

—Allen Saunders


American writer, journalist and cartoonist Allen Saunders is the author of the line “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

This gem first appeared in a 1957 issue of the Reader’s Digest, and is mistakenly attributed to John Lennon who included the line in the lyrics of “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).”

Heat and humidity go with life in Louisiana like gumbo and filé- thick and hot.

In the dead of a Louisiana summer you tend to run the central HVAC system in overtime.

Junk, funk and general debris can get into the evaporator coil inside the indoor unit causing the drain line to clog up.

If the water can’t drain properly, it can’t drain properly which means it puddles, flows, and drenches the carpet and padding.


You would know ours did just that late this past Friday night.

Dave the Builder/HVAC specialist is presently recuperating from a surgical procedure, leaving him unable to perform his unclog the drain HVAC magic.

My determination to DIY the issue while avoiding the dreaded double time charge for a weekend emergency plumbing/HVAC call left me defeated in deep water until Monday afternoon when the plumbers showed up and fixed the problem in less than fifteen minutes.

On a side note, the plumbers did observe Covid-19 guidelines by wearing masks and gloves.


I’ve extracted water, cleaned carpet, sprayed a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and 2 cups water over the soaked areas to prevent mildew growth, plugged in and unplugged the 3 speed portable blower (love, love, love this little godsend of a tool), and cursed enough to send my soul to hell several times over.


To say it’s been a witch of a mess is an understatement, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.


In between waiting on carpet to dry and paying close attention to the local, state, and world news of late (speaking of a mess), I treated myself to a glass of peach iced tea and a movie.


The Enchanted Cottage starring Dorothy McGuire and Robert Young is a  love story set within a beautiful life lesson where a house (in this case a cottage) is central to the story.

TCM has the film available on their Watch Now option – link here.

A synopsis:

Filmed in black and white, the story revolves around a a cottage born out of the ruins of the main house of a countryside estate razed by a fire. Legend goes the original owner remodeled the wing to rent out as a honeymoon hideaway.

Current owner widow Abigail Minnett seeks a housekeeper for the cottage, and this is where Laura Pennington enters the picture.

Homely in appearance and in her world all alone, Laura is searching to belong and falls under the spell the cottage cast.

To this day Mrs. Minnett remains deeply saddened and affected by the death of her husband during World War I.


Feeling an instant kinship with Laura, she hires her, informing her she will work in the capacity of housekeeper for the engaged couple who have rented the cottage for a three month honeymoon stay.

Soon the couple, Oliver Bradford and fiancée Beatrice Alexander, arrive where Beatrice’s disappointed with the cottage’s simplicity.

Where Oliver sees quaint and cozy and Beatrice sees simplicity, Laura sees the beauty and the allure in the enchanted cottage, voicing her enthusiastic infatuation with the surroundings.

War, duty, and a severe injury to his face and arm stands between Oliver and Beatrice’s nuptials.  One year later after the accident, a telegram from a dejected Oliver arrives stating his intention to rent the cottage for an indefinite period of time.

He does not mention the accident, injuries, or even that the wedding has been called off.  Mrs. Minnett and Laura prepare the cottage expecting to greet the newlyweds, and quite shocked when Oliver arrives alone to the cottage, his face horribly disfigured and his arm disabled from an airplane crash.

Olive has grown angry, bitter, and consumed by self-pity however, he does favorably respond to Laura’s compassion and common sense.

Through the example and words of blind pianist John Hillgrove, the brother of the town’s doctor who lives next door to the estate, Oliver accepts his physical disabilities.


Growing closer to Laura with a renewed sense of life finds Oliver and Laura in a period of happiness.  Three weeks later, Oliver receives in a letter an ultimatum from his rather overbearing mother: move home or she will move in with him.

Wanting nothing to do with either option, Oliver hastily proposes to Laura and she says yes.

Soon after their wedding, Oliver and Laura invite John  Hillgrove to the cottage where they share with him they have experienced a physical transformation.


Laura reveals both she and Oliver believed their marriage a farce until a development on their wedding night.

As she began to voice her devotion to Oliver, the room suddenly filled with enchanted music and she saw Oliver as he was before the accident.


Oliver comes to quickly realize he is truly in love with Laura, seeing his new wife now as a beautiful woman.

Their mutual illusion is soon destroyed by the arrival of Oliver’s mother and stepfather.  Insensitive and clueless in nature, Oliver’s mother and stepfather see only the imperfections in Laura’s and Oliver’s physical appearances, strongly voicing their feelings shattering the love is blind illusion.

Mrs. Minnett speaks up to console the newlyweds by stating the obvious- their true and unblemished love sees past flaws and imperfections, and in doing so gives them a beauty restored by love and a gift of sight unlike any other.

Loves conquers all, folks.


Sadly, our beloved neighbor passed away last week from Covid-19.

The entire family, fully vaccinated, contracted breakthrough Covid-19 with two recovering and Mr. Don sadly falling victim to this horrific virus.

Keeping the tradition of bringing-sending food when someone dies is rooted in comfort, love, caring, and the purpose of trying to make life somewhat easier in the face of extremely uneasy periods.

This treasured note of thanks and written in neighborly love makes me both sad and happy.

stuff I learned this week


Thank you, friends, for allowing me to share, show and tell you about the stuff I learned this week.

love signature



After A Flood: Tips For Cleaning Carpets, Floors, Kitchenwares and Furniture

Our Southern neighbors will experience devastating flooding due to Hurricane Florence.

Louisianians know a thing or two about weathering tropical storms and hurricanes, and yes, even flooding.

Please heed the warnings and practice extreme caution.

red cross flood advice

When the floodwaters begin to recede and the affected areas are safe to go back into, flood victims will be faced with the overwhelming task of cleaning up.

Insult, meet injury.

This information and tips on food safety, cleaning carpets, floors, kitchenwares and furniture after a flood offer useful information to those soon to be in clean up mode.

Homeowners will need to document damage for a FEMA claim.

It is imperative to exercise extreme caution when re-entering your home or business when the time is right to so.

Turn off the power to the home or building at the main electrical box.

You will need to take pictures of each room before removing contents.

Once removed to the outdoors and placed into small piles, take pictures of the debris piles.

I am sharing the link to the where tips for separating your debris into categories and other valuable information such as closings, medication refill information and donation sites is provided.

Caution: Remove or secure shut with straps the door(s) of a discarded refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, dryer or stove oven to prevent the risk of a child or person climbing into the appliance, the door locking, and the child or person becoming trapped and suffocating.   

Register your claim with FEMA by calling  1-800-621-3362 or by going online to

FEMA cannot duplicate insurance coverage, but the agency can help with immediate needs like housing and medication.


Beware of Fraud and Scams After a Flood

As government agencies and charitable groups began providing disaster assistance, scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors.

The most common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations and fake offers of state or federal aid.

Survivors also should keep in mind that federal and state workers never ask for or accept money and always carry identification badges.

There is no fee required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration or the state.

Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, text or in person.

Residents are asked to remain alert, ask questions and require photo identification when someone claims to represent a government agency.

How To Report Suspicious Activity Or Fraud

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG)
    • Phone: 1-800-323-8603, TTY 1-844-889-4357.
    • Web:
    • Fax: 202-254-4297
    • Mail: DHS Office of Inspector General: Mail Stop 0305, Department of Homeland Security, 245 Murray Drive SW, Washington, DC 20528-0305.
  • FEMA’s Office of the Chief Security Officer (OCSO) Tip line
  • National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline
  • Federal Trade Commission (If survivors discover that someone is misusing their information they should file a complaint)

Beginning the Cleanup

Calling in a professional cleaning service is the best way to go, but in the aftermath of storms and floods these companies can be swamped.

No pun intended.

Also, and this is a big also, the out-of-pocket costs can be expensive and standard homeowners insurance does not cover any type of flood damage.

Homeowners face the important task of damage removal and clean-up.

Take a practical approach to what to keep and what not to keep.

Mattresses should go.

Floodwaters can be contaminated with chemicals, biohazards, sewage, fuel- you get the idea.

A mattress that has been in a flood is a breeding ground for mold.

It’s got to go.


The immediate job of debris removal and cleaning carpets, rugs and floor will help to reduce the growth of molds, algae and bacteria- a proven health risk.

Open windows and doors to expose saturated items to as much air as possible.

Protect yourself from contamination and exposure by wearing gloves and covering your mouth, legs, arms, feet.

Wearing a protective mask and goggles to prevent breathing mold spores and eye exposure is the prudent thing to do.


Clean and dry carpet(s) as soon as possible.

Throw out any and all flooring and carpet that has been submerged for 24 hours or more and or covered in sewage tainted floodwater.

Pull up all saturated carpet(s) and rug(s) and remove from the house, apartment, building, etc…  placing outdoors to begin the drying process. Sunlight works a natural disinfectant.

Cut your loses: Pull up carpet padding and throw it out.

The soaked material is a breeding ground for mold, mildew and stench.

If removal of carpet(s) is impossible, use a wet-dry vacuum and dehumidifier to dry the carpet as quickly as possible.

A fan can be used to aid in the drying process.

Lift up the carpet to allow the circulated air to reach the underside.


Use a garden hose and nozzle that promotes good water pressure to remove mud.

Apply a disinfectant carpet-cleaning product to heavily soiled spot(s), using a hard-bristled brush or broom to work into spot(s).

To combat mildew and odors, rinse the backing of the carpet(s) and rug(s) with a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach to 1 gallon of water.

This solution is not to be used on wool carpets.

Also disinfect the slab or subfloor.



Clean and dry floor(s) as soon as possible.

Allow floors to dry thoroughly before attempting repairs.

Throw out any and all flooring and carpet that has been submerged for 24 hours or more and/or covered in sewage tainted floodwater.

Begin the clean-up by disinfecting flooring surfaces with a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach in 1 gallon water.

With vinyl, tile and linoleum flooring: it is vital to remove vinyl, tile or linoleum to allow subflooring to dry.

Drying can take several months to complete.

With regards to wood flooring:  Gradual drying of wooden floors can prevent cracking or splitting of the wood.

Removal of hardwood floor boards helps to prevent buckling.

Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling.


Cleaning Carpets, Floors, Kitchenwares and Furniture

Bleach, bleach, bleach!

Mix up a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water.

Soak glassware and dinnerware for 10 minutes.

Remove items and allow to air-dry.

Thoroughly wipe down countertops and cabinets with disinfecting solution.  See recipe above.

Never mix bleach with ammonia. The fumes produced are TOXIC.

Place silverware, metal utensils, pots and pans in boiling in water for 10 minutes to disinfect.

Do not use chlorine bleach due to the reaction between bleach and metals.



Remove furniture and place outside to dry.  Sunlight works a natural disinfectant.

Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.

Unless sentimental value is attached, the cost to repair wood veneered furniture falls into the not worth it category.

Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless damage is severe.

Cleaning carpets, floors, kitchenwares and furniture after a flood is a difficult but necessary task.

The sooner you tackle the removal and cleaning process the sooner the mud, gunk, bayou-lake-river residue, sewage and mildew that exacerbates the problem will soon be on the way to becoming a distant and nasty memory.

Tips for Photos, Papers and Books

One tip that I’m sure will be helpful is how to protect documents, papers and photos from mildew.

Gently wash the mud off a photos, books and documents/papers and place in a frost-free freezer.

Freeze meaningful papers and photos.

Wash the mud off important papers, photographs and books and place them in a frost-free freezer.

The temporary freezing combats mildew from setting in until they can be thawed out and/or taken to a professional restorer.

Air Conditioning: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Air conditioning is the gift that keeps on giving in the oppressive summertime.  It’s no wonder we issued a Louisiana state of humidity emergency when the original air conditioning system in our fifty-year-old ranch-style house finally bit the dust last week.

P-AmericanHouses_FPOPop Chart Lab  

Since the dawn of home owning and renting time, American houses have come to know the weekend project(s).

Regardless of the style of house or year of construction, at some point something will be in need of repair, replacement, renovation or remodel.

air-conditioning-unitSometimes you have to go through the ugly to get to the beauty of the sweet, sweet cold air on the other end of the air conditioning project.


If I had a nickel for every “we did just fine without air conditioning back in the good old days” comment my mother made during the central air install project this past weekend I’d be paying cash in all nickels for a new Nest smart thermostat.


Air conditioning plays a huge role in our lives, both at work and at home.


“We’ll make that into a sitting room where
we can sit and talk… and the breeze can get at us.”

That line from the movie Giant makes me wonder how people lived without air conditioning? 

Dust storms, tumbleweeds and brutal heat set the story of life on a Texas ranch in the 1920s. I would need a don’t talk to me, I’m dying from this heat sitting room.

Whenever I watch Giant and other classic films and television shows that show life and homes without air conditioning I thank the conditioned air gods for Willis Carrier, the inventor of the first modern air-conditioning system.


Bless the heart of this brilliant, brilliant man!

Before Mr. Carrier’s invention the masses depended upon commercial and residential design features of the times to promote airflow and cross ventilation.

Large porches

Screened sleeping porches, winding wraparound porches and deep eaves and awnings accommodated shade seekers, porch sitters and night sleepers from the harsh direct sunlight and heat of the day and gave protection from mosquitoes at night.


Better Homes & Gardens – Photography by Richard Leo Johnson

Porch sitting and sippin’ in the late afternoon and after dinner (supper) was as much about letting the breeze get at you as it was an exercise in proper digestion.

Transom Windows

Transom windows prove crucial to upper air flow.

old-transom-window-opening (1)

Old Town Home

Found above doors, a transom moved the warm air hovering at ceiling level to the higher floors or large open windows.


Wyatt Designs

Opening windows and doors at opposite ends of center halls allowed air to flow between areas of the house.

transom-window-above-doorBetter Homes and Gardens

My brother removed all the working transoms and hardware from above the doors throughout his house during the initial renovation and restoration of his 1903 Victorian home.

Little Bayou Victorian

Point of relevance in this explanation and pictorial example is to illustrate the architectural measures taken in the construction of homes and the thought to comfort given to air flow routes in the days devoid of air conditioning.


Louisiana long hot summers involve quite a few days and nights of no relief in sight heat and humidity.

Remind me of this post if I dare complain about the cold of winter.



On The Market: Tips For Showing Your Home

You know what they say about first impressions. Never is a first impression more important than when selling a home.  From curb to master bedroom, potential buyers closely examine every nut and bolt of architecture, aesthetic, design, and flow.  Let me share with you tips for showing your home.

Tips for showing your home

The question of numbers is always important in the home game.  Most home buyers have a set checklist saved to memory of the selling points that will speak to their needs. What information to furnish is as easy as recalling the questions you had before purchasing the property. This applies to self listed or Realtor showings. Based strictly upon our experiences as both, the general FAQ sheet provided to potential buyers at showings and open houses supplied information and hit the home buying high notes:

FAQ Sheet Suggestions:

Homeowner warranty

Sellers possible participation in closing fees

Age of property

Builder/architect name if available

Average utility bill amount

School district and zonings

Alarm system information (homeowners insurance discount)

Neighborhood Fire Department location (homeowners insurance information)

Age of roof

Age of HVAC unit

Energy efficient features

Clearly convey to your realtor what, if any, items are not included with the sale of the home (reserved).  Include this information on the information sheet.


guest table

Holding an open house is a great way to showcase the property. A welcome table should greet potential buyers with important home information, a FAQ sheet, and refreshment.  My refreshment of choice is ice water with lemon slices.  In case of a spill, water is easy to clean up without muss, fuss, or stain.  Provide sharpened pencils and notepads for potential buyers to use for taking notes.  If they’re writing it’s a good sign they’re interested.

lemon water

Encourage open house attendees to take a FAQ sheet with them as they view the property.  Potential buyers often hesitate asking questions. Viewing real estate can be an overwhelming process- leaving potential buyers easily distracted in the moment.  Being a proactive seller and information provider puts potential buyers in the know and you ahead of the game.


Another thing to offer potential buyers when viewing the home- benign neglect.  Buyers want the freedom to move about the home and make comments- good or bad.  If your home is listed with a realtor, by all means leave the showing to the agent.  If self selling, allow the potential buyers to look and inspect on their own.  Before showings or open houses, perform seller due diligence.  Secure valuables, removing items from stairs, and make arrangements for the pets to be absent from the home during this time.  It is just the prudent, liability safe and responsible thing to do.

lawn boy lawn mower


Now to the package that will sell the product- exterior and interior home appeal.  Maintain and manicure the lawn, hedges, and flowerbeds. Pressure wash away any signs of mold or mildew on walkways, decks, siding, soffit and fascia.  Remove chipping paint from soffit, fascia, exterior doors, windows, etc… and coat it up fresh.  Wash windows and porches.  What you may have turned a blind eye to will be the one thing potential buyers zero in on.  Trust me on this one!


Paint weighs in again as a solution for affordable updating.  Glue down any wallpaper edges that have curled up.  A couple of drops of Elmer’s School Glue will do the trick.  Declutter kitchen and bathroom countertops.  Utilize decorative storage options such as baskets to less the mess.  Consider new cabinet and drawer hardware for a quick and affordable update.


Size and space matters! Pay close attention to closets and cabinets.  Edit clutter from all closets.  A small closet will appear bigger if it is well organized.

It’s all in the presentation!

Select a cabinet and a drawer in the kitchen and bathrooms to organize and leave open.  Most interested buyers will open them anyway, so why not have them organized, opened and ready for inspection.

slettvoll Slettvoll

Promote an inviting and comfortable effect by turning on the lights.  Turn on the lights in each room including table and/or floor lamp(s).

Open window blinds/raise window shades.

Make sure to set the thermostat to a comfortable company’s coming setting.  It’s hard to focus on the business at hand when the temperature in the house is either too hot or too cold.  

Empty all trash cans.

Make the entire house smell so good with the inviting and delicious scent of vanilla.  Pure vanilla extract is not an overpowering scent, and makes the house smell so nice.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Pour ½ cup of vanilla extract into an oven proof baking dish and place in oven for 30 minutes.  

pure vanillaPure Vanilla Extract from King Arthur Flour

These tips for showing your home offer sound and selling advice. Take the time to set the stage and offer potential buyers a visual of style.  Minimal effort and money on this side of the listing can make a huge difference on the other side of sold.