Friday, August 28, 2009

How This Blog Came To Be

Last Saturday I travelled in to Manhattan from Long Island City to have brunch with 5 wonderful friends. All 5 have turned a crossroads, a challenge or adversity into a business, driven by true passion. Among the 5 businesses are a life coaching consultancy, 2 health-related non profits and one jewelry/apparel company that even it its nascent stages, donates a portion of revenue to a featured charity every month. Our little group is a microcosm. We're all in our 40's. Some are married, some have kids, one is single, and some are divorced (amicably and not so amicably.)

As I wonder what lies beyond the corporate cubicle for me (my "one day" dream) I was encouraged to start this blog to share some of my self-directed skills and foibles, and the weird and silly things that happen as I make my way. I'm divorced with no children, and I am by turns daunted by unknowns and damn proud of my successes and the path I've carved out for myself.

So, here we are...I'm writing, you're reading, and I look forward to your comments!

After brunch, I took a hot and humid walk to Bed Bath & Beyond at 59th St in Manhattan. I reasoned that I was sweating off the molten chocolate cake. I had a boring and short list of things I needed: a butane refill for the creme brulee torch that my mom gave me for my birthday, a kitchen drawer organizer, a pyrex loaf pan and vacuum 'space bags' to shrink extra pillows and bedding down to nothing, for storage.

Ahhhh---the air conditioning was heavenly!! Bright lights! Tempting products on every wall, spilling out over tables and bins. Beckoning. I swore I'd stick to my list, but somehow I was drawn to the big shopping cart, rather than the small basket.


I passed on the ShamWow (are they really made in GERMANY? are the street fair knock offs any good?), the fabric shavers for sweater pills (hello...pick them off, or use scissors), Kinoki Cleansing Detox Foot Pads ( stuff coming out of your feet ???), and the 2 foot tall "Really Big Universal Remote" that is touted as "Great for TV!"  I kinda like that one, actually. I wonder if it works.

I got the things I needed and when I passed by the wall of basic hardware, I was reminded that one of my brunch buddies had asked her husband what tools she'd need to keep, once he moves out. Clearly, she's the one who's amicably divorcing.


Since we are all past the stage of filling picture hook holes with toothpaste (we are, aren't we?) is my list for a good array of tools. Set aside space on some shelves or dedicate a closet so everything is where it should be when you need it.

If you are lucky enough to have a garage (!) then the possibilities become endless...but let's assume that this starter kit is for general household jobs, and will all fit in a small space.

1. Buy a tool box (good for an apartment)or a tool chest (if you have the room and more fixes to face.) Either one should have a removeable tray.

2. If you're like me and like things to match as well as to work can go with certain manufacturers like Ryobi (blue), Stanley (yellow and black), Milwaukee (red), Black & Decker (black and orange), etc...and keep it all in one family.

Note: Don't be tempted to buy cheep tools at the Dollar Store--invest a bit in the name brands at a reputable store and you're less likely to snap a screwdriver in half, or break a paint roller handle in the middle of a job.

3. As you shop, think about each room and what you might need to fix or adjust.

Some people get along just fine with a hammer and a use this list as a general guide, and get some, none or all if you want to have the right tools at hand, when the needs arise.
  • Claw Hammer -- to put in and remove nails
  • Pliers --"Slip Joint" and "Long" or "Needle Nose"
  • Box Cutter or Exacto Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Safety Goggles
  • Screwdrivers--Philips Head and Flat Head (so you don't break your silverware...)
  • Screw starter (it has a threaded pointy head, and starts the hole for you as you turn it)
  • Nail Set (this handy tool countersinks nails, so you don't dent wood with your hammer)
  • Tin Snips (better for cutting wire and tin than your Wustof kitchen scissors!)
  • Flashlight
  • Plumber's Putty (a good, temporary, fast-drying fix)
  • Duct Tape
  • Masking Tape
  • Packing Tape
  • Blue Painter's Tape
  • Some Rags
  • Suede or Canvas Gloves--sized for a woman, so you keep your grip!
  • Picture Hanging Kit
  • A Small Hand Saw--one for wood and one for metal
  • Hardware---a starter box with various sizes of screws, nails and plastic wall anchors
  • Straight Edge Razor Blades
  • Batteries (9v for smoke detectors, and the range of AAA, AA, C, D, etc...)
  • Rechargeable Drill (6 volts are 'ok' but 12 volts are better!)
  • Caulk (white/paintable for molding/walls, or silicone for bathroom. Clear silicone for use around faucets on a stainless steel sink or a dark vanity.) You do not have to get a large tube and a caulking gun!! For smaller jobs I recommend "Dap Alex Plus Easy Caulk." It comes in a can with a bendable nozzle (like the old Cheez Whiz can) and it's very easy to work with! Don't cut too big a piece off the nozzle, or you'll have a globby job on your hands, literally!
  • Sandpaper (get a variety pack and that'll hold you)
  • Quick Drying Spackle, 1 pint
  • Putty Knife (one wide and one narrow)
  • Wood filler
  • Wood Glue, White Glue and Gorilla Glue
  • Extension Cords
  • 1 pint of paint in whatever colors could need touching up + extra stirrers, and a paint tray
  • Paint roller handle (one regular, and one small, with spare rollers)
  • Paintbrushes (a variety pack is fine, but make sure the bristles don't come out when you pull on them!)
  • Paint thinner in case you have used oil based paint. Otherwise, water based latex cleans up with water
  • Sharpie pens
  • Drop cloth--plastic is fine and can be saved or tossed, no need to get a canvas one
Of course there is a home improvement stores-worth of other tools and gadgets that you can buy. I think this list will get you started, and will cover all the basic jobs and fixes that come up.

I will be blogging for a while, so in later posts we can talk about grout floats and hammer drills...Yeah, baby!


  1. Dale, you are my hero! Thank you for the shopping list. I just copied it and will be taking it to the hardware store. LOVE THIS BLOG. Can't wait to read more.

  2. I'm not worthy. ; ) But will keep reading...

  3. Mimi--You ARE worthy!! You helped me put together the garden shed, in high heat and while expecting. Remember our "high five" when the frame was level? So, yeah, you're way worthy!

  4. What a hoot - I, the single homeowner gal in her 40's, have accumulated just about everything on your list. Although I must admit that I did cheat and buy (and live to regret doing so) a few dollar store tools! I'm missing tin snips and paint thinner...maybe you'll lend them to me? :-)