How to Take Care of Your Car

car maintenance

Listen, I am not a car person by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time, my car looks like I live in it. My son completely runs the back seat, which means it’s covered in Lego guys, books, and peanut butter. The front seat – my domain – is usually littered with junk mail and large drink cups from Steak ‘n Shake that were once filled with delicious Coke Zero. The trunk is a permanent home for camping chairs and all of the sweatshirts I think I’ll need because I’ll be too cold at the movie theater, but then forget to take in.

The outside isn’t much better. Last weekend, I backed out of my brother’s driveway right into his truck (black), which was parked on the street (dark). I also bump the passenger-side mirror almost every time I pull up to open my mailbox.

So, essentially, I suck at taking care of my car, but you know, IT WORKS.

And then a few weeks ago, I was leaving a restaurant after hanging out with some friends when one of them noticed that my tire was almost completely flat. Full disclosure: I knew I had a  leak because my tire pressure light had come on, but when I stopped at a gas station to check it, they all looked fine, so I forgot about it.

Suck, suck, suck.

My friend drove me home, and then Josie and I went back to the restaurant to change the tire. We’ve had to change a tire in the freezing snow before with lug nuts that would. not. move., so we figured it would be a breeze this time!

It wasn’t.

We got the lug nuts off in no time, but the tire itself would NOT come off the car! Josie thinks I might have bent the rim or something by driving on it (probably) and that’s why it’s stuck. Regardless, we worked on it for over an hour and it wouldn’t budge. We ran to AutoZone to get a bit for our air compressor so we could just pump up the tire and bring it back home to work on, but when Josie came out, she had something else:

tire inflator

Available here.

A portable tire inflator that you plug into your phone jack? That has a flashlight and a pressure gauge?! I didn’t know such a thing existed! And it was only fifteen bucks! I wasn’t able to take my car in right away to get the tire repaired, but in the mean time, I just used this bad boy to get me back to full pressure before I did my running around for the day.

After that incident, I realized how woeful my level of car care really was, and have since decided that I need to be a better car owner if only for the simple fact that I’ve spent thousands of dollars on it, and would like to not have to do that again anytime soon.

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR CAR AND NOT WAIT UNTIL IT TOTALLY DIES ON YOU AND YOU’RE STRANDED AND THEN MURDERED BY AN ESCAPED SERIAL KILLER

LEARN HOW TO CHANGE A TIRE. Yes, there are many services you have at your beck and call that will help you out if you’re ever in a flat/exploded-tire situation. Maybe you have friends/parents/a significant other that will come to your rescue. But in case of emergency, it sure doesn’t hurt to know how to do it yourself.

Changing a tire is unbelievably simple, and as long as your lug nuts aren’t rusted and the rim of your tire isn’t bent (ahem), it should only take you about 20 minutes or so from start to finish.

Here’s a quick how to:

A couple of tips:

  1. I personally hate the scissor jacks that come with most cars because they take forever. They certainly work, but I prefer a floor jack like this one.  It’s obviously not necessary, since your car comes with a jack, but they’re so much easier and faster to use.
  2. After having trouble removing extremely tight lug nuts, I realized I needed more leverage when I’m changing a tire – especially if I’m by myself. This universal lug wrench makes lug nut removal a much easier process.
  3. That tire inflator I mentioned above is GREAT. I’m definitely glad I have that around in case of a puncture or slow leak. If my tire is ever low again, I don’t have to worry about finding a gas station (or a quarter!) to air it up.

LEARN HOW TO JUMP START YOUR CAR. This is something that I’ve never attempted because it intimidates the crap out of me, but it’s really not hard if you have a guide. I’m a visual girl and find the one below pretty easy to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just don’t depend on a friendly motorist to have jumper cables – buy some of your own and keep them in the trunk.

TAKE IT IN FOR REGULAR MAINTENANCE. Obviously, the best tactic for keeping your car running is to take it in for regular maintenance so problems can be detected before they get out of control.

Even taking your car in for an oil change can make a difference. The employees will check belts and fluid levels and let you know if they see a problem developing.

However, it’s really in your best interest to know how often these types of things really need checked and/or replaced. Understanding how your car works can go a long way in preventing unnecessary purchases.

Below is a helpful checklist you can refer to for regular maintenance.

Source: Angie’s List

TAKE CARE OF THE INTERIOR. HA! I almost can’t even take myself seriously with this one, but let’s pretend I’ll actually do some of these things one day.

I’m on Pinterest a lot because I live in a dream world, and sometimes I see pins about car organization that make me really yearn for the cleanliness my car deserves. Poor, neglected thing.

I love this caddy for organizing all of the aforementioned tools and fluids. Right now they’re just strung all over my trunk, wrinkling my unworn movie hoodies.

And maybe Max’s crap wouldn’t take over the backseat if he had this fun backpack thing to keep it in? Hahahahahaha! A girl can dream!

Seriously, though. I think that thing is rad!

I have a garbage can in my car right now, but it’s open, and I hate how messy it makes everything look when it’s full. Maybe this one with a flip lid would keep things tidier?

And of course, CLEANING your car goes a long way. Not that I would know, but I’m sure it’s very nice and makes everything smell lovely instead of like old french fries and well-worn roller skates.

There are a million and one guides to deep cleaning your car, but this one had the best tips and tricks I could find. I think I actually WILL try some of these!

My upholstery is a mess, but I never know how to clean it, so I’m excited to try it out!

When it comes down to it, I try and fail repeatedly to take care of my car, but I’d like to be better! Maybe you guys could help me out, too – what do you do to take care of your vehicle?

How to Have More Fun in Life

talk like a pirate

Did you guys know that today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Yep, it’s really a thing. And since its inception in 2002, I have been celebrating by not only talking like a pirate, but also dressing like one.

Witness the ridiculousness:

talk like a pirate
2007
2012
2012
talk like a pirate
2016

This year I got to read a story to all of the kids at my son’s school during their lunch period. That’s him up there sporting the same exact face as me. Face twins!

I used my biggest, graveliest, piratey-est voice to read the book (twice), and it was as hilarious and awesome as I thought it would be. The kids loved the book, but I think it was the voice that really got them going.

talk like a pirate day
Oh, the stomping.

As I was reading, I saw several adults out of the corner of my eye as they walked past the lunch room. All of them smiled, some of them laughed, and a few of them shook their heads.

I know that head shake. It’s the same head shake I get when I sign up to sing at karaoke. It’s the same head shake I got when I played roller derby. That head shake has been a routine presence in my life, and is usually followed up by one of the following comments:

  • “You’re crazy.”
  • “I could never do or wear or say whatever you are doing or wearing or saying.”
  • “Yeah, I’m too old for that.”
  • “You’re crazy.”

Sure, I’m an extrovert, but it’s still hard for me to hear people say those things. There are only so many eye rolls you can witness before you really start to wonder if you’re as immature as people think you are. So, as I was stomping and bellowing and growling, and seeing adults walk by who would never!, I admit, it gave me a moment’s pause. I felt the insecurity that people like me (goofballs) sometimes feel when they are being watched.

And it got me thinking about how we become adults and “fun” takes on this whole new meaning: parties, drinking, sex – you know, FUN stuff that adults get to do! But, sadly, it seems like the further we get into adulthood, the less fun we have. Especially parents. Most of us have kids and then spend the next 18 years watching THEM have fun.

But don’t you miss the type of fun you had as a kid? The genuine, belly-ache-laughing kind of fun that comes with being an absolute doofus? And just doing whatever you want and not caring what people think because you’re having the time of your life over here?!

Having fun is FUN! So, because I am a perpetual 13-year-old stuck in a 37-year-old body, I am going to help you figure out how to inject more silliness and mirth into your life.

HOW TO HAVE MORE FUN AND NOT BE A FUNSUCKER WHO HATES LIFE

LAUGH MORE. It seems painfully obvious, I know, but one of the easiest things you can do to have more fun is to laugh as much as humanly possible. 

So, watch a favorite show that cracks you up, look up funny videos on YouTube (Corgis twerking?! I’m in!), or seriously just go to Pinterest and type funny in the search box. You will not be disappointed.If you like your hilarity to be more spontaneous, like a funny page on Facebook (I like Humans of Tumblr), find a humourous Tweeter, or find a funny celebrity to follow on Snapchat (Josh Peck of Drake and Josh fame is quite entertaining. Username: joshuapeck).

PLAY. When I say play, I’m talking about something interactive. So, while I absolutely LOVE playing Sudoku on my phone for two hours a day (yes, really), that’s not the kind of play I have in mind. I played roller derby for four years, and it was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. I loved that game with my whole heart. And because it’s a group sport, I met a lot of really amazing people that became my lifelong friends.

roller derby
Me as Fifi Fo Fum playing as a PolkaBot

Obviously, you don’t have to play roller derby. But remember that playing is why we had so much fun as kids, so try to find a way to recapture that if you can. Join a kickball league, play softball, have a tea party with your kids, kick around a soccer ball in the yard, play fetch with your dog, join a knitting circle or a book club or a gang…no. Wait. No gangs! It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive or cult-ish (because roller derby is definitely a “drink the koolaid” kind of sport). Just PLAY!

tennis
Tennis lessons with some of my very best friends

DO SOMETHING SILLY. I know. You’re a grown up. You have a very adult job. You have bills to pay, and dinner to make, and retirement planning to take care of. You like to binge watch entire series on Netflix and drink wine while you complain about your boss. It’s all very mature.

And that’s not me judging at all, because that is also MY life 90% of the time. But the other 10% of the time (maybe more!) is pure silliness. Sometimes you just have to dress like a pirate.

Or Mario and Luigi
mario and luigi

Or Freddy Kruger at Christmas
12234917_10153762158596639_1168717518960305148_n

Or throw on a lei.1475907_10152337760981639_1784012345_n

Or dress yourself up in Photoshop.
558193_10151141435286639_558859376_n

250233_10150324120331639_5450739_n

Or dance around in your underwear, or make up a stupid voice for
your dog, or draw eyebrows on a baby, or ask the lady at the McDonald’s drive through for a buttload of ketchup. Whatever silliness comes to mind, just go for it. You will thank yourself for letting go.

Being an adult is ROUGH. Sometimes I feel like I’m literally slogging through each day. I can get so stuck in my everyday life, and it hurts my soul when that happens. There are seriously times when I could cry because I have to blow dry my hair AGAIN?! Ugh.

But laughing, playing, being silly…I mean, what are we wading through all the crap for if we don’t get to have a little fun now and then? Find ways to enjoy yourself, friends! You deserve it!

Talk to me – what do you do for fun? I need some new ideas!

 

 

 

Organizing Your Fridge

Organize Your Fridge!
Disclaimer: This is not my fridge.

Do you ever open your refrigerator to look for a snack and then pretty much close it instantly because there’s nothing to eat? And then a couple of weeks later, something starts smelling, and you open the vegetable crisper to find the cilantro you bought to make guacamole has liquefied?

LIQUEFIED?! I’m a disgusting person. Click away now and leave me to wallow in the filth that is my fridge.

JK, y’all. I wouldn’t even be talking about this if I hadn’t already cleaned up my act!

Now, I am not what I would call an organized person. There are little piles of things all over my house that need to be put away. Back in my teaching days, I would drive my co-teacher bonkers with the number of water bottles that were on my desk every day. I’m sure she would be comforted/horrified to know they’re all on my nightstand now.

But eventually, the mess gets to me, and I decide something must be done! Then I organize the crap out of it, and everything is peachy until the next disaster area demands attention.

My fridge was awful (see: liquefied cilantro), and it seemed like I was throwing food away unused every week. Our family has a pretty tight budget these days, so I had to find a way to MAKE myself use the food we had instead of looking in the fridge for twenty seconds and declaring it a pizza night. Again.

But I also needed the solution to be easy, because if it’s not easy, I’m not going to do it. #LAZYLADY

3 EASY STEPS TO MAGICAL FRIDGE ORGANIZATION THAT WILL SAVE YOUR SOUL AND ALSO FOOD AND MONEY

Step 1: Scrub-a-dub-dub

The first thing I did was gut my fridge. I don’t have a before picture, but it was gross. Let me ask you something. How on Earth does cat hair get into a refrigerator? He never goes into the kitchen, and all I put in stupid thing is packaged food. HOW? I took everything out, pitched what was expired, and wiped the whole dealio down.

I also like to take out the drawers and shelves every once in a while and wash them with soapy water. Definitely not something you have to do routinely, but maybe a couple times a year.

Step 2: Look without looking

One of my biggest problems is the fact that I never remember the date that I bought something or pay too much attention to the expiration date. I have thrown away a LOT of rancid chicken breasts because I didn’t open the damn meat drawer to look at the “use or freeze by” date. That was my first hurdle to overcome: knowing when the food would go bad.

Since I apparently refuse to look at dates on things, I decided that I needed a list on the outside of my fridge. No, I don’t have a smart fridge that I can look into with my phone like Kristen and Dax because I’m not cool or famous. I have a tiny, crappy fridge, so I had to improvise. Enter the versatile whiteboard:

She said pork butt. Heh heh heh.

I picked this one up at Walmart, but here’s a link to the same one on Amazon if you’d like to avoid that evil empire (that is practically my second home).

Seriously, this has been a total meal saver for us. I had no idea what a huge impact this 14×14 inch board would have on me, but it has been awesome. If there was no expiration date on the item, I wrote down the purchase date instead. After we use something, we just erase it so we always know exactly which perishables are in the fridge.

This list was made right after I went shopping, but as we made dishes with those ingredients and had leftovers, we added them to the board so we knew what was available for lunches.

SO EASY, yet so transformative.

Step 3: Be prepaaaaaared!

Hands up if that was your favorite Lion King song! I still know all the words. Scar was so misunderstood, don’t you think?

So, the big buzz in the fitness world these days is food prep. I do not reside in the fitness world, friends, but I will tell you this: prepping some of my vegetables right when I get home from the store has made it 100% more likely that I will eat them before they go bad.

The funny thing is, I initially wanted to organize the fridge for my son. When I have food prepackaged for his lunches, it’s easy for him to help me put it together in the morning. That way he knows exactly what’s in his lunchbox, and he takes ownership of it. But, lo and behold, it worked for me, too. Now when I’m looking for a snack, I’m (slightly) more likely to grab a bag of carrots or green peppers and hummus instead of the bag of Wavy Lays that’s sitting next to me on the couch right now. Hey, I said slightly.

Organized fridge!
Cue sigh of contentment.

There’s nothing fancy going on here. Yes, I drink bottled water because our tap water sucks, and because I never remember to fill up the filtered pitcher thing. And yes, I use “disposable” Rubbermaid containers because they’re cheap and easy. And I’m sorry, Earth, but my son does take vegetables to school in a plastic baggy. He does. I make myself sick, OK?

Please understand the trust a person has in you if they let you look into their fridge. It’s an honor and a privilege. No judging. Or do, but just talk about me behind my back like a normal person, m’kay?

Anyway, I put carrots, mushrooms, green peppers and broccoli in snack-sized baggies for easy lunch sides/snacking. I did NOT prep the romaine lettuce I bought, and guess where it ended up. Not in the salads I should have been eating, that’s for sure.

The only hard part of this is the time it takes. Honestly, that’s it. If I give myself an extra half hour or so when I get home from the store, I get it all done in one fell swoop and I’m good to go.

Now, ideally, my fridge organization would be pretty because pretty things make me happy, but I haven’t jumped on board that train quite yet. However, if you’re in the market to make your fridge beautiful (yes, it’s a thing!), here is some eye candy:

When it comes down to it, all you need is a simple system that works for you. I wanted to use the food that I bought, and I am, so I’m happy. Do you think fridge organization is something that could help you? What have you done to cut down on food waste? Let me know! I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!