Thursday, April 14, 2011

Being A Proud, Jane Of All Trades

Easing into our new home hasn't quite come with the luxury one would reap with a new or built in the last decade modern home. Our house is newer than our former home, by 3 years, but both were built about 50 years ago. 50 years isn't very old in comparison to many homes, but if I just stop and reflect upon what the demand was on our electrical system 50 years ago vs. today, I fret. 5 decades is plenty old enough for me!

Owning an older home is where being a Jane-Of-All-Trades comes into play.

I was finally doing the taxes last night when I had the stark realization of how much money I save our family. Now, I will be honest, I do enjoy doing our taxes. Not with a computer program, but rather pencil and paper, calculator in hand, re-reading deduction lines over and over out loud to solidify if I am on the right track. I very much like having a grounded sense of how tax code works and where exactly our money goes. This also in turn influences how to spend our money, knowing if it's a tax write off or not.

You see, I don't think twice about doing our own taxes or fixing the dryer that recently broke. I was born the daughter of a carpenter and I don't think I could count on one hand the number of times a stranger was hired to come fix something in my childhood home (where my parents still reside). It was always my father, one of my brothers, a relative, a neighbor, or a friend that came to help us out. I just believed that's how everyone did things.

I've always taken with me through life that ethic which was instilled in me through out childhood, to fix things on our own, within reason of course.

So I find myself on a sunny day, trimming two truckloads of branches and chopping down small trees that have suckered from the root. Planning in my mind our garden bed and possibly building a new one to go with the one that exists already in our yard. Mowing the grass, when it's time. Building a new pavestone patio and walkway in our backyard.

When our dryer recently went on the fritz, I luckily had a friend to call to help me trouble shoot the problem. I replaced a door switch on my own and was proud when the dryer started working again with just a simple $17 fix. That was short lived for a whole three cycles. There turned out to be a few annoying series of failures with our dryer, ultimately I had to call in an electrician as a last resort. Then I was left with regret when I discovered it was a new dryer plug/receptacle that actually was the problem, not our dryer! It was defective and I wished I was the one that had just fixed that problem at hand. Although electrical issues I am happy to hand over to a professional, especially when it's backed with a work guarantee.

I have a strong sense of how plumbing works, having given a hand replacing three toilets and removed the sink trap a number of times for myself and even friends to retrieve jewelry. Do you know people pay a plumber $60 to do that? I don't balk at replacing a light fixture or putting in a new light switch (very minor electrical fixes). I feel comfortable with a hammer in hand, drilling, painting, and love a good demolition. I know how to fix a flat tire and jump start a car. I do all the tinkering around my blog on my own, which may include tweaking code, something I have no background in whatsoever (yes, I know it may be obvious). I repaint and repurpose furniture. I take out the sewing machine when there is mending to do or a small project to liven up our living space. I love to organize closets, build shelves where needed. I bake and construct cakes for my daughters' birthdays, rather than paying a bakery. I handle the connecting of the electronics and computer peripherals in the house. I have no hesitations when it comes to putting a ladder up to the roof to check on a gutter fix. The majority of small fixes around the house, I love to tackle myself. I am grateful I also have my father and brother that come to visit to handle the major projects on our own. See all of my house and garden posts, documenting the work we've completed or at least a percentage of it.

Sometimes I dream of becoming a professional "Handy Woman" because I enjoy the tinkering a little too much, especially when a challenge is paired with success.

I suppose you could just call me cheap. I hate paying someone top dollar for something I could do on my own. But the bottom line is, all those small projects and efforts are life lessons. They enrich my life and also model for my daughter's that all work is woman's work. So just call me, Jane Of All Trades, I share that title with pride.


  1. This is AWESOME! I am so impressed. I don't have any clue about plumbing or electricity and the like. Not fun being dependent.

  2. Good for you, we are all about DIY too. It's so much cheaper, plus you get to work on your own schedule and not someone elses. I have to admit though we've never done our own taxes, it's way to complicated, so i take my hat off to you there.

  3. impressive! my husband recently told me that he needs to start showing me how to do things around the house (in case something happens to him). when it comes to home repairs, i'm about as handy and june cleaver.

  4. I'm impressed with all you can do!

  5. It feels great to do things on your own. What a great example for the girls.


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