Sunday Lowdown #202


Last week I regaled you with the tale of the mice that invaded my car. Though it scared me, I am thankful that Jeanne @ Necromancy Never Pays mentioned how in the past mice chewed the wires in her car. Being both practical and frugal, I went to the store and bought that classic mouse trap, the kind you picture when I say “mouse trap,” and set up four in our garage. There are loads of options that include chemicals or lots of plastic so you don’t have to see the dead rodents. That’s not for me. Wood, metal, cheese. That’s the idea. So far, we’ve captured (what a euphemism for murdered) five mice. We didn’t use cheese; I do believe they like new peanut butter better than old honey. There’s also something thrilling about the fact that the traps go flying through the air when they are tripped. It’s a deadly ballet.

Four mouse traps vs. one rat trap. I am glad I do not have rats.

Speaking of being frugal, I’m rethinking my thermostat. I keep it at 67F. Not 68F, which I prefer and is recommended, but 67F because for every degree lower in the winter, you save money. However. Yesterday I was baking cookies for a party and discovered that though I had left butter on the counter for two days to become “room temperature,” it was still hard. I could not get this stuff to be light and fluffy, even with the hand mixer on high. Just hard pebbles of butter. I apologize to everyone who has ever set foot in my house. Also, I’m not changing the thermostat.

Our first full-size Christmas tree! I found it, and several ornaments, at garage sales this summer.

Now that school is out for winter, I have more free time, meaning I’ve been volunteering several hours with both hospice and the friends of the library book sale. My time with hospice is teaching me much about honoring others and being flexible. Sometimes I’m putting my shoes on to leave and the plan has changed, or a day I thought had nothing to do is now filled with companionship. Do you volunteer?

Something I mentioned casually last week but am announcing this week is that I am transferring to another college. I’m looking forward to joining a new community of learners and teachers and hope to have the guidance, fellowship, and practical experience I’m looking for. After the new year I’ll sign up for ASL 4 and Fundamentals of Interpreting. The first day of class is an unbelievable January 5th!


I’m glad I could interest so many of you in Fat, Pretty, and Soon to Be Old by Kimberly Dark. It’s a great little collection that was recently published, so if you don’t want to buy it, be sure to put in a request for purchase at your local library. While I respect the drive women in their twenties have, sometimes I want to relate to someone around my age, or who is older and has some wisdom to drop — and it sounds like many of you feel the same.


Things get hectic for all of us come Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year, so I’m going to kick back, relax, and bring you Sweet Valley High for the holidays. The premise is simple: Jessica wants to be the Christmas parade queen, and Elizabeth wants to be reunited with her steady boyfriend. But, in an unusual twist, because parents are usually absent in young adult books, the Wakefield parents invite in a strange house guest. Check out my thoughts on 1985’s Special Christmas, a Sweet Valley High Super Edition, this Wednesday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 184
Owned Books on TBR Today: 184 for the third time in a row!

*Special book announcement! I can go on and on about S.M. Reine’s books, which are paranormal and amazing and get me tangled up emotionally. I’ve reviewed several of her series and interviewed her, too. Well, until January 1st, you can get literally every single one of her books for free. Click here to take advantage of the sale!*

Thanks to Lou @ LouLouReads for her recommendation.


  1. Catching mice is such a gruesome business, but it’s got to be done.

    I don’t think 1°F will make that much difference in whether you feel warm or cold, or whether your butter will melt – that is, it’s not a significant difference in that it’s less than 1.5% difference? Which is not to say every degree less doesn’t save money … just that one degree like that isn’t likely to make a “felt” difference?

    I’m sorry I didn’t get to this weeks post … it’s been a full on week. It sounded interesting though so I will try in the next few days.

    Hope it’s not too cold where you are.


    • Every time we catch a mouse, I shout, “Ayyyyy!” for some reason. Perhaps because the ground mole tearing up the yard eluded us all summer.

      As for temperature, I have no clue how much can be felt, but I do know that when I go to someone’s house that’s set slightly higher than my own, I feel like I’m suffocating to death. As for all the wonderful math you worked out, unfortunately, it went right over my head. All I know is the butter was not soft, which is what “room temperature” is supposed to make it.

      I hope you are doing well and that your business is the result of traveling and visiting, and not something like illness or an emergency. Please take care!


    • I bought the tree at a garage sale, and the woman told me her mother had just died, but that she loved that Christmas tree so much she kept it up year round and decorated for whatever holiday rolled around. Now I feel like we’re part of that story.

      Did you ever read the Sweet Valley Twins (I think they’re in 6th grade in this spin off) in which you basically get a Christmas Carol retelling through the lens of Sweet Valley?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you’re catching some of your mice!
    I’m reading the Dark book now.
    I used to volunteer at the humane society shelter in town; since I retired I’ve been through the training to work as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children. So far I’ve had one case; I entered towards the end and it was settled the first time I went to court.


  3. I had to laugh that the parents being present is what makes the story unique!

    Glad you have been able to deal with the mice. We used similar traps when we had trouble with rats (!!!) in our attic and they like peanut butter a lot too.

    Butter is rarely soft in our house this time of year. I have become that parent who, when the kids say they’re cold, tells them to put on a sweater. If I’m organized, I’ll soften the butter up on the stove before baking but usually I just let the stand mixer go at it for a good long while.


    • Oddly, the Wakefield parents are often around, though they tend to be running late for dinner, so the twins argue over who will cook. The father is a lawyer and the mother is an interior designer, two jobs that I felt were BEYOND FANCY when I was originally reading the books.

      The mouse situation has slowed down, so I think some sentinel has warned the others.

      I am also the put on a hoodie, socks, pants, etc. person. I’m not going to kill the planet because Nick wants to wear a t-shirt! Okay, to be fair, he’s been duly trained over the years and now dresses appropriately. Isn’t it funny that’s how winter works? They don’t wear a sweater in summer and as to turn the A/C up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You can microwave butter just a little bit to soften it up- for next time!

    I’ve heard The Conjure Man is good.

    That rat trap…. UGHHHHH! So glad you’re not dealing with that.

    I KNOW I owned that Christmas SVH when I was little. Hope it brings back some memories! 😁


    • I have a thing with butter in the microwave. I always set the microwave to a solid two seconds too long, and the butter explodes. I’m cursed by some ancient witch who worships dairy.

      Lou recommended the Conjure Man, and she reads all sorts of crime novels. That, plus the knowledge I have of conjuring from Zora Neale Hurston’s time in Louisiana researching the anthropology of Black culture, and its gotta be a slam dunk.

      Did you read the Sweet Valley Twins book that was basically a retelling of A Christmas Carol? It’s from the middle school spin-off series.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve had a very cold snap here (consistently around -5C at night and not much above freezing during the day), so suddenly all my colleagues who had been refusing to come back into the office returned so they didn’t have to heat their homes!

    I really hope you enjoy The Conjure Man Dies – looking forward to hearing what you think of it.


    • Such sneaky colleagues is what I want to say, though I know I have taken advantage of the air conditioning of different stores and the library in the summer. Right now my head is killing me because it’s going to rain on Thursday and then freeze over night and turn into a white-out blizzard on Friday, which has changed all of our travel plans.


  6. Heh, we keep our house temperature at 62F during the day so nothin gets soft ever. It takes two days to thaw out a jar of homemade jam from the freezer 🙂

    How did I miss you’re transferring to a different college? Why the change? I hope you like the new community!

    Lovely tree! And glad you’ve had time to volunteer. Up until earlier this year I was involved with my neighborhood’s green committee but it was disbanded when the executive director left and while the board was working on strategic planning. It re-convened last month as the environmental committee but now they meet on Mondays at 5:30 which is an impossible time for me. I asked about changing the time but they said no. So that has made me a little sad and I am trying to figure out what I want to do instead.


    • Who the heck chooses dinner time for a meeting? You’re just going to get a bunch of hangry volunteers. To bad they can’t record the meeting for you to watch later? I’m not sure if that would help.

      Woo, 62 is bravely cold, though I see how it’s warm enough that your pipes don’t freeze. And Minnesota gets wicked cold, Stefanie! I’m half wondering if the chicken coop isn’t warmer! I tease, but are you okay? 👀

      I very quietly started the transfer process as I waited for final grades to be posted, so I haven’t written much about it here. I’m hoping for an experience that better fits my learning expectations.


      • I know, right? Makes me wonder if they are all retired or work from home or something. Recording the meeting really wouldn’t help unfortunately. 😦

        Yes, it does get wicked cold. We are expecting a blizzard Thursday and Friday with windchills in the -30s! Yikes! That’s really cold even for us. The chickens are winter acclimated so they have lots of downy under feathers, but when it gets close to zero we turn on a heat lamp in the coop. It’s been on since Monday. We are currently trying to find the vaseline for the dangerous cold that’s coming so we can put it on their combs to protect from frostbite. They also get extra treats like warm oatmeal 🙂

        It took us a long time to edge our way down to 62. It goes down to 58 at night. I’d set it at 60 during the day if James would let me 🙂 Our philosophy is to heat the person and not the space, but we do need to make sure our pipes don’t freeze. James is much more comfortable with the lower house temperature since he started bike commuting and spending time outdoors in the cold instead of going from heated house to heated car to heated workplace and back so maybe eventually we will be able to creep down to 60.


        • OH! I’ve heard of chicken combs freezing, but never heard of the Vaseline trick. That’s smart. I wonder how their feet fare. Then again, they can just sit on their own feet with their big, feathery bums.

          Our Christmas travel plans got adjusted due to that same storm you mentioned. First we were leaving Friday, then to beat the storm we were going to leave on Thursday, and then, because my father-in-law wouldn’t be able to see us due to the snow if we left early, we are now leaving on Saturday.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I wondered what was special about 68F – and discovered it’s a nice round 20C. I keep my butter in the cupboard. I could tell when Spring started because the butter became spreadable. Right now it’s threatening to become liquid – 34C/93F outside. I do have aircon in the lounge but that’s for 38C/100F.


    • 68 is the recommended temperature for health. A lot of folks keep it hotter than that and have breathing and sleep problems, for instance. Ugh, I hope you aren’t sweating to piece in your truck. Are you currently on the road? Are they giving you a small break for Christmas? You need to eat too much so you can tell us about it.


  8. My house was always kept quite cold as a kid, so we keep ours at about 21 celcius, although it’s currently -30 celcius outside (it’s a cold snap) so trying to keep warm is a full-time job at the moment.

    Love your full-size tree! And I’m excited for you to try that new college, fingers crossed it is wonderful 🙂


  9. Lovely Christmas tree! I hope you and all the other bloggers and commenters over there are doing OK in this scary cold storm. And yes, I volunteer – I ran parkrun yesterday but volunteered on the Christmas Eve run and am volunteering on our New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day runs, too. I also volunteer for my running club, including starting to support our next tranche of Couch to 5k and Beyond new runners (our club run is 4 miles so we take them past the original Couch to 5k plan). I get a lot of out of it and missed it during the lockdowns!


      • The people we get at our sessions have usually never run before, or not run since schooldays. They typically have a sedentary life, though some have started walking or working out at the gym. The programme is a structured one over 13 weeks, using intervals that build up, so they start with a warm up, 1.5 minutes running (whatever running looks like, as gently as they can, making sure they can still speak as they run and having some left in the tank at the end) and 1 minute walking (I call it Active Walking, like the walk you do when someone you fancy or your boss comes round the corner), repeated 5 times, then a warm down. That’s done three times in a week, then it changes up to get more minutes of running in a row, gradually, so you get to 8 mins running, 3 mins walking, 8 mins running about week 9, progressing to 30 minutes continuous running (which we KNOW does not equate to 5k for everyone, certainly not me) and then the Saturday after that we take them to the 5k parkrun for a full 5k. All run alongside volunteers so no one is alone, and at least two Leader in Running Fitness qualified volunteers. People are ALWAYS surprised they can do it, but most people can!


        • My mom just got first place in her age group at her last 5K. I was so excited for her! She’s like a joyful bunny when she runs, so I have no clue where that would fit into the styles of walking/running. I must say, your description of a fancy walk had me in stitches because I had to sit here and imagine what I look like when I see my boss or someone I fancy, LOL!


  10. Those little field mice really like to come into a good garage or barn in the winter. My dad’s old place had a barn, and it was a constant thing. Pretty sure I saw a straight up rat once. Fun fact, ducks will kill mice. When I had two ducks when I was a teen, they would grab the mice and drown them in the pond. Even ground squirrels weren’t safe. Essentially, if you were small and came near their water, you were dead.


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