Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oh Door Me!

I generally have a weeks’ worth of time off work over the holidays.  This year however we decided that we’d take the time and money we would spend on the trip and invest it into some improvements in the house.  The one that seemed a pretty good match for both was replacing seven hollow core doors with solid wood slab doors.  Sounds simple right?  We thought so.

This wasn’t really an immediate need for the house to function or an efficiency upgrade. This was an issue of having grown up in a home where the doors were all solid wood and the hollow core doors taunting me.  The doors were a symbol of everything I didn’t like about houses built from the 60’s on.  They were cheap, disposable and lacking in character.  We’ll invest in doors we both like better, and feel better about the house.

We started the day after Christmas, borrowing my parents van and the dad that came with it.  Our first stop was a local place called Building Value .  Perusing the aisles, a worker helped us look through if any of the salvaged doors would work for the doors we were filling. He gave us valuable information about checking where hinges were and how the door opened as well a how much space was needed for the latch.  Sadly we didn’t find any doors that worked there, nor did we find any at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.  The end of the day had us at Home depot picking up the doors for the openings that we had, except for one that I needed to pick up the next day.

It took longer to get the items we needed than expected and we were disappointed that we didn’t find ones we could re-use.  We were sure that we could still have the project done by the end of the week at that point.  Unfortunately that was not to be.  We thought we had everything we needed in the first trip but had to go back multiple times for additional hardware pieces, and widgets for cutting and placing the doors.  By the end of the week we had the hinges set and were working on the knob/latches.  Way behind schedule it was taking more than an hour per door, and my husband’s arm was tiring from slowly boring through the wood.  I stepped in to help, and made things worse.   I misjudged a the depth of where I was drilling for the latch, let it get caught and buck out of my hand spraining my wrist, and fracturing one of my fingers. 

Although the doors are up they have yet to be stained or sealed. Nearly two months later the project is not done, as I spent the majority of that time in a cast. Which lead to its own conundrums.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Upcoming home improvement:

Within the next month or so my house will be receiving a very long overdue improvement.  Needless to say I’m rather excited to be updating our windows.  We’ve only been in the house a little over two years and we are working our way through some long needed maintenance/improvements.
You see, the house is part of a planned neighborhood built in the late 1960’s. The past forty years, from what I can tell have added a sun room, a deck (both poorly), replaced the roof and eradicated/warded off possible termites.   This has left several other things original to the house, which for the time frame probably shouldn’t be.
When we moved in we did a small amount of analysis to see what we could update that would give us the biggest improvement for our improvement dollar.  I did not like what the local energy company gave me as a monthly energy use/cost estimate. We replaced, or for all intents and purposes,  added insulation to our attic. Went from an R3 rating to an R60, and believe we cut that in half.  The next step was to update our house-original heater, and the 20 year old air conditioner.  This let us run the house at a more comfortable level in the summer; we enjoyed a slight decrease there.
This left us believing that our High Efficiency HVAC was only more efficiently heating/cooling the outside world than out house. We went for quality over price, with triple pane, and low E Argon gas.   I am not sure the scope of the improvements that will be reaped from the replacement in sheer decrease in monthly gas and electric usage.  Unfortunately these will be going in just post what are traditionally our coldest months. On the other hand, it’ll be nice to have all windows able to be opened and with screens.
I’m sure there will be some improvement – going from aluminum to vinyl in the least should have a positive impact – but I’m still excited that we are taking care of this.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I don't know what I think about this carbon footprint reduction list I mean it seems fine at first glance.  What caught me though was the ditch the microwave.

Wait, I'm supposed to ditch the thing that takes up less energy to re-heat my food than the stove? That I don't have to worry about pre-heating?

So I'll stay on the fence about this one.  For what I'm saying above I don't use my micorwave ennough. Yes for a lot of left overs I'll use it, but if I'm re-creating using left overs (Taking something that is saved and making a new meal out of it as opposed to heating it up as it was) I'll use the stove.

Have you seen things on lists that you don't agree with?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catch 22?

Every year on earth day, or arbor day we are encouraged to plant trees. Green-scaping and green roofs are an innovative and exciting trend that I've seen while stumbling around the internet. 

Something I saw today however may give that pause. This Article seems to believe that trees/vegitation may be  acting as conductors for carbon into the ground, and that the soil is releasing the additional carbon thus making it a recursive cycle.

The main issue I have with the article is that it presents this idea, and then concludes that there are many factors which play into it and scientists still arn't sure how it works, or if this is the case.

My question, are green things acting as filters? or conductors? and even if they are just exacerbating the situation, wouldn't taking more away - since deforestation is seen as a cause for issues- only make matters even worse?

Friday, September 23, 2011


I just picked up, and devoured in one night, the most fantastic book: Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich. This book is about setting up your own little farm, no matter where you live, and offers stories and practical advice on getting started. It even has some lovely recipies I know I'll be trying out! And it made me want my own chickens and angora bunnies- more than I already did.

When I was a kid, I wanted to live on a farm. My mom had lived on a farm during her first marriage, and my grandparents lived in an old farm house on a lot of land. When I'd visit with the grandparents, I'd have a lot of fun pretending I was a farm kid, feeding the dogs, grinding up scraps of soap for detergent, cracking walnuts and making scrambled eggs. Small things, but enough if you're a child and have imagination.

That desire to have a bit of a farm hasn't really died in me. However, I don't really like the idea of raising animals to eat, or waking up at four in the morning to start chores. So how do you compromise? Homesteading, of course! Where even a happy suburbanite can have a little taste of the farm, enough to perhaps inspire a bit more, but not enough that your entire lifeline is ruined if the weather is bad during the growing season. It's Farming Lite.

And I'm really, really excited about all the possibilities and interest in this topic now. Give me a few years, my own yard, then we'll see.

By the way, Woginrich has her own more than just little homestead that she writes about:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I confess, I do something that really, really disgusts my husband. No, it's not leaving my hair in the drain, drooling on the pillow, or discarding trash everywhere I go (those are all his jobs)- it's something I'm doing to be eco-friendly.

Ever since Jackie got her compost bin, I've been storing kitchen waste in plastic bags in the freezer.

This drives my husband -nuts-. It is his firm belief that trash goes in the trash, and doesn't hang around where you store food you're actually going to eat. Never mind that it doesn't smell, and I keep it in the door so it doesn't get in the way. I empty it at Jackie's every week, and usually even remember to bring the baggies back home with me to reuse. He even likes the idea of composting...

...but he hates seeing the waste!

Well, I'll train him to put the stuff in the freezer eventually, or we'll get our own compost bin. We'll see. We'll see. One step/shade at a time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

For the Charitable...

My father donates to a lot of charities. A lot. Because of his generosity, charities like to send him things in order to bribe him (or guilt him) into sending them more money. They send address labels, pennies, notepads, and calendars. The calendar issue is what I'm going to discuss here. Let's face it, we only need a few (three would be excessive) but we get a lot more than a few. What to do with the excess? Clearly it would be best for everyone concerned if they weren't sent in the first place, but since they are, how can they be disposed of?

Recycling would work, yes... and I hope they all end up there eventually, but reduce and reuse are higher on the list than recycle. So the question is- can we reduce or reuse? Reduce, well, only if charities stop sending. So reuse... or repurpose?

I spent some time the other day pulling all the pages out of a stack that we've accumulated. Then, with glue, I sealed the sides up and left a top flap thus creating- an envelope. There are a myriad of links online on how to make your own homemade envelopes, and they look much nicer than store bought. Now I can send all of my letters (for the rest of my life) using cool looking homemade envelopes.

So, I'm saving money on envelopes, paper that would otherwise have made envelopes, finding a use for that huge stack of calendars, using the address labels, helping the postal service stay in business, and making people I love smile when they get a neat looking letter in the mail. There is no down side to this- save the excessive tedium of tearing all those pages out and doing all the folding, etc. (More tedium than even I enjoy!)

In addition, you can use the preview images on the back cover (pretty pictures!) to make homemade magnets. You can easily pick a sheet of sticky backed magnet sheets at the store. Cut, stick and go. After that, not much is making it to the landfill or the recycling plant!