Category: DIY Time

Leaving It To The Professionals

Last week, part of our ceiling collapsed.

Tub Drain Leak (6)

It’s not as bad as it sounds. It was a drop ceiling in the one room in the house that still has that. A leak sprung from our second floor bathtub’s drain pipe and started water soaking into the big drop ceiling tile. The tile got so saturated with water that it collapsed to the floor. Luckily, we have two bathrooms, so we can just use the other shower while we fix the drain pipe.  No buckets for water collection necessary!

I got up into the drop ceiling to see what was up, felt around pipes and found exactly where the leak was: Where a metal pipe fits into a PVC pipe. So I got out my wrench, gloves, and bottle of Blaster to try and and take apart the pipes.  (It turns out you’re not supposed to use Blaster on PVC anyway, kids!) After stinking up the place with Blaster and rubbing my fingers raw trying to get the pipes apart, I had a flashback…

Tub Drain Leak (2)

The culprit

A few years ago, one of the toilets wouldn’t stop running. The water would keep running through the tank. The seal wasn’t tight anymore. So I attempted to fix it. But this toilet was so old that the style of flushing mechanism (technical term) wasn’t manufactured anymore, so I couldn’t buy a replacement part.  Instead, I had to take the whole thing apart, take out the whole flushing thing-a-majig, and put in a new one.

Each screw was excruciating to take off. The toilet probably hadn’t been taken apart in forty years, when it was made. The screws were rusted in place. I spent weeks trying to slowly get the thing apart. I eventually did it, but was a trying experience.

With this drain pipe in the ceiling, I could suddenly see the same thing happening. I saw myself spraying Blaster up there after work, night after night, and pathetically trying to yank the pipes around in their little enclosed area, then probably having to buy tools that I might or might not ever use again.

So instead, I decided it was time to call the professionals. Marge called a guy the next day, he came over a few houes later, and by 5PM, it was fixed. And our pockets were lighter by $149. Ouch!

Call it a Frugal Failure, but sometimes I think it’s worth it to go to the professionals. We paid up to get the bats permanently out of our house last year. Whenever a job takes specialty knowledge, expensive tools, or is obviously going to take us forever to get done, I consider them.

Other times I look to professionals instead of DIYing it

Certain types of food. I’ve never tried making my own beer or wine. I know people do it. And I imagine it tastes somewhere on the scale from “okay” to “something died in this.” But there are people who spend their lives dedicated to the alchemy of alcoholic drinks. I could try to learn some things and waste my time buying equipment and making my own barely palatable swill. Or, for the few times a year I buy beer or wine, I could just go to the experts who live and breath this stuff and buy something that has been tested and judged to be nummy by all.

Birthday Beers 2016

Birthday Beers 2016

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Cutting The Cord, Part 2: Antenna Madness!

If you remember the first time I introduced you to America’s Least Favorite Corporation and our cable provider, Time Warner Cable, we were trying to figure out how to reduce our entertainment bill while not cutting into our tv viewing options.  For six years, we’ve had a basic cable subscription, plus Netflix and Hulu, and all of the streaming NHK World we can handle with our Roku. I am trying to sever all ties with Time Warner… except as an internet provider.

Since most of what we watch streams over the internet, there was little holding us back from ending our cable bill entirely. Mostly it was due to two shows made for old people: Antiques Roadshow on PBS and Sunday Morning on CBS. Once I realized that PBS has a pretty amazing free streaming channel (seriously, if you like any PBS shows, they are probably there) then the only thing left was Sunday Morning.


You know Sunday Morning. It’s the show previously hosted by Charles Kuralt and is now hosted by Charles Osgood. It’s the perfect Sunday morning news show for people who hate the news. It’s relaxed with a bright outlook and reporters that prefer to tell you about the blueberry pie festival in Podunk, Michigan, or the Barefoot Contessa’s biography rather than whoever ISIS is threatening to behead next. Although they do manage to cram every dark event of the week into a virtual five minute horrorshow at the start, the other hour and 25 minutes are just a breeze, with stories on the arts, food and nature.

So for us, having cable has basically become a very expensive way to watch CBS Sunday Morning every week. This is literally the only show we want to watch that we can only watch over cable. What do most people do who still want to watch network television, but without paying for cable?

Get an Antenna!

As Part 2 in our saga of “cutting the cord” with Time Warner, today I’ll let you know how our antenna adventure went.

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DIY Food Gifts! Apple Butter

We are in the thick of Christmas preparations here at Ridinkulous. I have a large extended family who has, since before I was born, had a Christmas party full of gifts. As a kid, this was great. I got gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so did my cousins. What a sight to walk into my aunt’s house each year and see the gifts in each person’s piles. My two cousins were about the same age as me, so as kids, our gift piles were HUGE. It really was awesome. But I’m older now and I can admit that, although it really was great…


My cousins and I still get gifts, of course, but nothing to the degree of the olden days. There are cousins younger than us now, and even a new generation, and they’re the ones being lavished with gifts.  Marge and I participate a little bit, getting something for the kids, but other than that, in our effort to stay frugal, everyone else gets something cheap, hand-crafted and awesome.

In past years it’s been vanilla extract, pickles, homemade candles (wax + paper cups), snack mixes… This year it’s apple butter.

Into the crock pot

Into the crock pot

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DIY Time! Charging station

The wires, the wires, oh god the wires! They’re everywhere! They wrap around us! They’re consuming us like snakes!! SNAKES! Get the snakes off of me!

“I am become one with the machines!”

No, it’s not a David Cronenberg movie. This is real life! Wires, wires everywhere and not a one that syncs. It’s A Problem!

Far be it from me to tell the electronics industry how to operate, but doesn’t it seem like every phone, ipod, GPS, tablet and camera could use the same standard charger design? Are they really so different? After welcoming Screeny the tablet into our household (more on him later), we have too many different chargers and it’s annoying keeping track of them. I have to plug them in, unplug them, and then I like to go to sleep.

There are charging stations you can buy, but where’s the fun in that? None of them are exactly what you’re looking for anyway. I DIYed one instead.

Top of the station, sides getting glued on.

Top of the station with hole for wires, sides getting glued on.


Right angle clamps
Power drill (with a 1” wood boring bit and little ones for screw countersinking)
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