Apr 29, 2009


by Marielle Carlisle

Since moving into our new home 5 years ago, I have attempted odd jobs around the house; Jobs that people pay other people to do. Some projects went well; the others, well, they were good learning experiences. I figure “hey, I’ll be learning new skills AND saving money!” Here's to good intentions.

Success Stories:

1. Homemade baby food puree is easy peasy and much cheaper then canned baby food. I’ve made butternut squash, pear, peach, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, apple, and carrot.

2. I asked my co-workers for a good home wax kit recommendation, and now I wax my mustache and, ahem, other body areas in the comfort of my own home. It will take some practice, but I’m getting better. So long outrageous salon waxing prices!

3. If our auto mechanic tells us we need a new car battery or new windshield wipers, we say “thanks for the tip,” and then replace them ourselves. Piece of cake.

4. Last summer I made strawberry jam, and it was scrumptious. When we ran out during the winter, we were forced to eat jam that came FROM THE STORE. Never again.

5. Our new home here in Stepford did not come with window covers or ceiling fans. So being the ambitious new homeowners we were, we installed them ourselves, all 13 windows and 6 fans. Plus we painted each room throughout the next couple years and put in curtains and curtain rods. The blinds were the hardest by far. Looking back, I’m glad we did it, because we certainly learned how to handle a drill and paintbrush. But my husband and I have made a pact to never do it again.

6. Cleaning out the clogged drains in the sinks and tubs has got to be the grossest, nastiest, stinkiest job. It always makes me gag. Every time. But there's something so satisfying about watching the water flow straight down the drain without any congregating.

7. Doing yard work is where I have grown the most. I have learned to wield the lawnmower, hedge trimmer and blower with ease, and find trimming the trees to be very fulfilling. I put in trellises for the 9 bougainvilleas in the backyard and one winter I even overseeded the lawn. It worked … sort of.

8. My biggest success story is fixing leaks in the irrigation system. When I was putting in the trellises, I accidentally stabbed the main irrigation line with a stake, and discovered my error the next morning when the yard had turned into a lake. Instead of calling Mr. Irrigation Guy for help, I figured out the problem, drove to ACE, bought the $.50 piece of plastic tubing and fixed it. Presto.

This last week I noticed that one of the sprinkler heads was broken. The last time we had a broken sprinkler head, Mr. Irrigation Guy came and fixed it in 2 minutes and charged us 50 bucks. I swore I would fix the next one. And I did. I had a devil of time getting it out of the ground, but I showed that sprinkler head who’s boss.

Not-so-successful stories

1. One night I waxed my legs with my new wax kit, and I will never do it again. It is so not worth it. Pay someone to do it. Trust me.

2. Years ago when I was bored (this is before kids, obviously), I thought “I’ll drain the water heater!” I must’ve been incredibly bored. I researched my owner’s manual, and felt extremely confident in myself. After turning off the pilot light and closing all the necessary valves, I opened the spigot … and nothing. Not a drop. I jiggled with the valves and what not … nothing. I spent the next ½ hour trying to get water out with no results. Dejected, I went to turn the pilot light on … nothing. Now I’m freaking out. My husband would be home soon and would need to take a shower (hot, I assumed). Luckily (thankfully), our water heater was still on warranty, so a plumber came out, drained it and replaced the pilot light. For free. I guess this could be considered a success story.

3. Homemade pinto bean baby puree is nasty. It looks like throw up and it tastes like it as well. Take my word for it.

It's promising that I have more successes then failures. As for my next project, I have multiple ideas swimming around in my head. I'd like to get rid of the pigeons camped up under the eave of our roof, but I think that is above and beyond my abilities. I've always been interested in making more of our clothes, but that's a bigger time commitment then I have right now. I'm always up for fixing another irrigation disaster, but those are hard to plan. So, drumroll please ...

I'll start a garden! What better way to show myself that I know absolutely nothing about taking care of edible plants? Wish me luck.


  1. Good luck Marielle. I have found I am a whiz at weeding and have a brown thumb. Not a success story.

  2. Love it Marielle! You are awesome! and as foar as the gardening goes...talk to me. I have had enough failures to serve as a horrible warning...and a couple of successes that make a great example. I harvested lettuce and spinach today...and I didn't have to fight the birds for it. Dont ask how much I spent on the fancy het covering and the self-watering grow box. Lol...let'
    s just say that I will have to grow something in it for about 4 years to make it pay...unless you count the hours I don't have to spend weeding...then it's priceless...you'll have to come out and see it next meeting.

  3. I loved your blog! I too am trying to be self-suffient. My daughter is being married in the Mesa Temple May 8, and I am decorating our back yard for the reception. One thousand people have been invited. I am also catering it. I am finishing up the 17 corsages and 18 boutonniers tonight.(If i didn't spell that right, please pardon my French.) I have all the table decorations on display in my formal front room, and if I can't find any battery operated tea lights for each table, I am going to make them out of batteries, a small lightbulb and copper wire. Tomorrow I am glueing fish line on 22 glass globes then tying a rock at the end of four to ten foot lines to float candles in the pool. I am saving $7,500 by doing this all myself, and with the economy the way it is, we will be able to eat for another month. I am going to climb into bed after the wedding for a week and do nothing but eat chocolate and sleep.


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