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55: Keep Your Eyes on the Thermometer

I know for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s still summer (for my readers fro the Southern Hemi- file this away) and it’s rather difficult, especially given the temperatures experienced this summer, to think about winter, but it’s out there. And for those of us for whom winter has, ahem, a ‘special meaning’ (as in it can get so cold that you’ll freeze the insides of your nose), soaking up the warmth is really nice.

But it is coming – get over it. (more…)

On Vinegar

(Ha – you thought I was going to go with a photo of bottles of vinegar or something, right? Fooled you. Photo courtesy of Casch52)
Vinegar comes from the Old French, “vin aigre”, meaning ‘sour wine’. Vinegar has the taste and the pH that it does because of the action of acetal bacteria which turns whatever carbohydrate there is in the liquid (and you can make vinegar out of the most amazing stuff out there – the list is almost endless and includes coconut milk and water, malt, any fruit known, and so on)in acetic acid. In the US, household vinegars are sold at 5% strength. This discussion is not about vinegar as a cooking ingredient. (more…)

Snow Bound

Aunt Toby realizes that there are a whole lot of people in what is referred to as the Mid-Atlantic Region who are (if they are clever and good at following directions) hunkered down, looking out their windows at snow and wind and general ‘snowmageddan’. And many of them are in areas (cough, DC, cough) where the whole concept of snow plowing and road cleaning is really more in the theory rather than the practice. From my quick and dirty search, it looks as if there are several hundred thousand homes without power in Maryland and Northern Virginia. (more…)

Personal Warmth Systems

bxtai0284aIt never ceases to amaze your dear Aunty that there are people in the world who believe that cotton is an appropriate fiber to put into a long sleeved sweater. And if you are in the business of doing so…and your entire market resides between Southern California and Florida (and points between), then I suppose this makes some sort of sense. But if it’s cold enough to require long sleeves, it’s cold enough to require something that will actually keep you warm, even in a place such as Southern California.

I recall once doing a trade show in January in Anaheim, California. It rained for several days and hovered in the high 30s. We were all extremely miserable (and I thanked myself numerous times for hauling around my wool-lined raincoat). A cotton sweater at that time and in that place would have been useless. (more…)

Stucco Repair With Caulk

Sometimes, you’ve got to just get creative.

One of the things that we found very unique and intriguing when we bought Chez Siberia, lo these many years ago, was the stucco treatment on the house. It was…sparkly. We found out later that the way this was done was that after the final surface coat of the stucco was put on, the plasterers would take scoops of broken up shells, dishware, glass, etc. and throw it into the surface. It would stick there and provide surface interest, a little color and yes, it was sparkly. It was a popular stucco treatment in our area for about 10 years, from the mid-30s on and it disappeared – it was too labor intensive. But it made the house unique. (more…)

To Do List: Caulk. Now.

I know there are people who are going to argue with me on this, but if you have a limited budget in terms of improving the energy efficiency in your living unit, your Aunt Toby is going to advise using it to buy caulk. And a caulking gun if you can’t borrow one from someone.

Why not insulation? I just checked the price on that – one roll of R19, 15” wide, is $15.67.

We just did a little project as a final little ‘zip up’ for winter, and it hit me when I went to the ‘large chain building supply place because we don’t have a local hardware any more’ how cheap caulk was in terms of what we were getting versus how much insulation was going to cost if someone were going to try to insulate an attic, for example. (more…)

Update on the House Rehab

In our last episode of “The House Rehab that Wouldn’t Die”, the DH and I wrecked out the last room in the house, a little 10’x14′ room that has been used variously as a diningroom, a glory hole, home office, and a kitchen while we were wrecking out the real kitchen and having that redone two years ago(jeeze – did this take THAT long?). House Rehab

And this week, basically everything was completely finished. (more…)

Information: The Tool You Have In Your Hands to Help Others in this Economy

One of the reasons that I started this blog is that last year, I started to see that the economy was going into the tank and was very concerned that for a lot of people, certain basic ‘activities of living’ were going to become harder and harder to accomplish.

And that has not changed.

I don’t care what the economics pundits and MSNBC bozos wave around. “It’s over.” “It’s NOT over.” “Green shoots” “Turned a corner.”

I could not care less what some of these know-nothing self-interested gasbags say, actually, because I know that there are a lot of people in a world of hurt right now and a lot of them have been that way, frankly, for years. (more…)

DIY: Sometimes Saving $$ Means Doing What You Are Good At – Not Trying to Do What You Are NOT Good At

I truly, madly deeply love the DH. But I am not delusional. All marriages have their flash points; for some people it’s money. For other people it is sex. For still others it’s politics. For us…it’s 30 odd years of unfinished DIY house projects.

I finally came to the conclusion that no matter how much the DH truly WANTED to do rehab in the house (which needed it desperately – actually more desperately than even WE appreciated), he had ‘fear of screwing up’. So, he was great at starting…and abysmal at…continuing. Finishing was about as within his grasp as performing cold fusion on the kitchen table. The amount of money wasted on started projects was really bad. (more…)

Too Darned Hot.

This little guy has the correct idea – when it’s hot, sinking yourself into a tub of cool water is one way to “weather” the heat.

For the past few days, as anyone on the East Coast knows, it has been hot. Really hot. Hot like you wrote the word ‘hot’ on every grain of sand in Death Valley. And it’s April, so as per usual, a lot of people are just not prepared to deal with it.

And Aunt Toby is here to say, “Go with that feeling…” (more…)

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