Do You Have a Set of Spare Keys?

Last year, I locked myself out of the house–with a dead battery in our keypad lock and my cell phone still inside the house.  My two-year-old daughter was inside the house, but because she had her Kindle, she was not at all interested in opening the door for me.  I had a small panic attack before asking the neighbor to call my husband to return home with his key.  More recently, another neighbor locked her two kids and herself out of their house, and she used our phone to call her own husband.  It happens to the best of us, right?  But I would like to be proactive and take steps to avoid being locked out again.


The solution is simple.  I use MinuteKey at Lowe’s, and for as much as $3.00 plus tax per key (less if you are making more than one key), you can easily and quickly make a spare set of keys and place them somewhere in your shed or garage or crawlspace so that you always have a way in if you lock yourself out.  (Alternatively, you can give a set to loved ones, but I would advise keeping track of who has a set of spare keys and also making sure you completely trust the persons you entrust with your keys.)

Clearly I am not going to post where our spare keys are.  But my husband and I both know, and I can nearly guarantee you a burglar would not find them.  Also, we have two spare keys, one for our storm door and one for our actual door, and each is in a different location.  As I have mentioned before, we are all about safety.  If we were to need to tell someone the location of our spare keys–for example, if we were on vacation and someone needed to enter the house for some reason–we would move them to an entirely different location.

One more thing:  When I locked myself out of the house, I started carrying my keys with me when I went outside.  But now I no longer carry my keys around with me since I know I have spare keys where I can reach them.

Do you have spare keys somewhere on your property or left with a loved one just in case you lock yourself out?  Post in the comments!


Review: Shower Curtain Liners at Dollar Tree

Around five years ago, I bought my first fabric shower curtain.  I was naive enough not to use a liner with it, and despite washing it regularly, within a year the bottom quarter of the curtain was covered in mildew.  I tried washing the curtain multiple times–even soaking it in straight bleach–but was unsuccessful at getting rid of all the mildew.  I was pregnant and nesting, so I discarded it and bought a new all-white fabric one.  In an attempt to avoid the same problems with the new curtain, I started buying inexpensive curtain liners from Dollar Tree to use with it.  I have not had to replace another fabric shower curtain since.

Durability is the main issue with these curtain liners; they are quite flimsy.  When my husband was deployed and when my toddler was just a baby, these liners lasted quite a while–one lasted without ripping or tearing for a year!  Now that my family shares a single tub and shower, my husband is home every day, and my baby has become a rambunctious three-year-old, these do not last nearly as long.  On occasion, they have lasted less than a month because of tearing.  Only rarely have I used this shower curtain liner without an actual curtain, and it worked for my use.

I have never tried to clean these curtain liners because, for the price, frankly, I would just replace them.  Regardless, I have not had any issues with mildew or soap scum with these.

Ultimately, these work as liners, and certainly the price is right, but because I am trying to reduce my family’s footprint, I am exploring longer-lasting options.

A final note:  If you prefer white liners as I do, you should stock up when you find them because on occasion, I have been unable to locate any other than beige at any of our local Dollar Tree stores.

The Second Thing You Should Do In Your New Home

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER:  This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click on a product link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission to help support this blog and my family at no extra cost to you.  All of the items linked below have been purchased by me for my household and with household funds.  All opinions are my own.

We bought our first house last year.  And although we absolutely love it, we started with a long list of tasks we wanted to complete.  If you look at the listing pictures, you will probably guess that we looked forward to replacing fans, lights, door hardware, light switchplates, and outlet covers from the day we moved in.

But certain things came first–particularly increased safety measures.


Smoke detectors, for example.  The house had only one, in the hallway leading to the bedrooms.  We bought three others (these First Alert smoke alarms with escape lights) and installed them in two of the bedrooms and the living room, which is near the kitchen.

We also bought a carbon monoxide detector (this Kidde battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm with a digital display) and installed it on a wall adjacent to the garage.

And we checked the house’s fire extinguisher.  It was incredibly old, older than my husband (who isn’t old, but a 30-year-old fire extinguisher is definitely old in human years!).

And it needed to be recharged.

And frankly it was a cheap one to begin with.  So we replaced it.  My mother-in-law is a first responder, and she recommended a 5 lb. fire extinguisher with metal parts.  The one we purchased (this Amerex one) cost us less than $50 at Amazon.  It is covered by a six-year warranty, but will allegedly last for decades.  And it mounts on the wall (in the garage, which is right next to our kitchen) so nicely!  (We took the old one to the hazmat division at the landfill, by the way.)

Safety is paramount, don’t you think?  Before tackling the fun projects in your new home, install proper detectors, alarms, and fire extinguishers.

Before tackling the fun projects in your new home, install proper detectors, alarms, and fire extinguishers.

Did you check and replace your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and alarms and your fire extinguisher when you moved into your home?  Have you checked them recently?  How do you remind yourself each year to check the batteries in your alarms and recharge your fire extinguisher if necessary?  Post your thoughts in the comments!


Review: Ekogrips Silicone BBQ Gloves

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER:  This review contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click on a product link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission to help support this blog and my family at no extra cost to you.  For this particular review, I bought this item at full price with my own household funds.  All opinions are my own.   

My husband and I tried this recipe for cooking steak in the oven.  During the process, we used our cast iron skillet under the broiler. All was going well until my husband accidentally grabbed the handle on the cast iron skillet and burned his hand. Fortunately, my mother-in-law keeps us in stock with some firefighter’s salve. Still, my husband’s hand did not permanently recover for several weeks. So I decided to buy these to try to avoid problems in the future (if my husband remembers to use them, right?)


These gloves work very well. In fact, they are much like the silicone mitts we liked in the past, but these have fingers, making them a far superior product to those mitts. We regularly use these gloves as potholders, but also use them at least weekly to turn over food in our oven and also on our smoker and grill. These are perfect for flipping steaks or for flipping pork tenderloins on the grill and for pulling sweet potatoes out of boiling water. I anticipate using them during this canning season to pick up hot jars. But be advised that the heat protection is not sufficient to keep your hand on food in the broiler or in boiling water for more than a brief period. We have not used them when putting wood into our fire pit, and you should use great caution if you use them for this purpose.

These gloves are made of silicone, so they are dishwasher safe and ultimately stain-resistant. They do not hold smells the way dirty fabric oven mitts sometimes do. While I am not a fan of the orange color, its brightness ensures that I am able to find them no matter where they are lying on the counter and no matter where they may be resting in my sometimes-messy kitchen drawer. My husband and I are both able to wear one size fits most, and we both are able to get them on and off without hassle. (If you have larger hands, you may want to opt for the larger size.) And the company that makes them seems to provide great customer service and stands by the product with a lifetime warranty.

We love these gloves–in fact, we bought my husband’s father a set for his birthday earlier this year. My husband and I both highly recommend these gloves for use in the kitchen and particularly with the grill.

My husband and I both highly recommend these gloves for use in the kitchen and particularly with the grill.

If you are interested in purchasing the Ekogrips gloves for yourself from Amazon, click here.  You can also check out my condensed review of this and other items on Amazon by clicking here.  (I would appreciate your clicking on the “Helpful” button if you see my review and find it helpful.)

What do you use in your kitchen?  An oven mitt?  Gloves?

The First Thing You Should Do After Closing

What is the first thing you should do after closing?

Change your locks.

What is the first thing you should do after closing? Change your locks.

The former owners of our home gave us quite a few keys at closing, but we had no idea how many keys had been made during the sixty years before we purchased this house. Eight months after we moved in, we learned that at least one set of neighbors had a set of old keys.

But they no longer worked because we changed the primary locks on the house the weekend we moved in.  We changed them ourselves, and we started with the front door.  We removed an old brass door knob that had seen better days:



And we replaced it with a new, darker door knob with a lock:


Although it was clearly newer than the other door knobs in the house, we also were not impressed with the door knob and lock to the door leading from the garage into the kitchen:



So replaced it with a better lock, a sturdier silver one to match the kitchen:


We also had a final exterior door that we also changed the door knob and locks on.  The total cost to replace all three door knobs and locks would have been less than $125–had we not already owned the kitchen door lock from a previous abode.

Do you agree that changing the door locks is the first thing you should do after you close on a house?  What types of locks do you have?  Do you have a keypad lock on any of your doors or a Bluetooth controlled lock?  If you use keypad locks or Bluetooth locks, do you feel safe with them, and do the benefits outweigh any problems you have encountered?  Post your thoughts in the comments below!