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Energy

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…)

Magic Marmots or, It’s Still Winter

Enough with the dueling ground hogs. And wishful thinking as well.

It’s still winter. It’s the beginning of February and climate change notwithstanding, in Upstate New York, it’s still in the ‘damn cold’ range. Versus last weekend, when it was in the single digits during the day (without wind chill factor) and in the minus numbers at night and was in the ‘miserably cold’ range. We still have at least 6 weeks of cold weather to get through before it even starts to approach the ‘getting warmer’ stage. (more…)

Coat Test

Yesterday, the DH, The Boy and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view this exhibit Art of the Samurai
and cram in whatever else we could from the museum at the time (which was not much – one of these days, we’re going to take a weekday off and go – my claustrophobia was on high alert). We also had some errands to run (me down in the Garment District, the DH in a couple of other places. I had a shopping list and knew that the places I was going had what I wanted; he came home empty handed. Research helps). So, even with the subways, we had a lot of walking to do.
The temperature in New York was hovering in the 20s and the wind was fierce with occasional snow flurries. I don’t have the official statistics, but it was in the ‘OMG, my face is being flayed off’ range. Today, it’s 18 degrees with a wind chill of 2 degrees, which I actually think is worse than what we got yesterday.

BUT – the coat came through like a trooper. Even with the high winds and cold, I was toasty warm outside on the sections where we had to walk for blocks and blocks (and there were several of those) – I was wearing a cotton knit turtleneck and a lightweight long sleeved wool sweater, heavy tights and slacks. I could not wear that coat inside of course (and the coat check room at the museum was overflowing out the hall) and had to carry it around (which made things sort of onerous because that coat weighs a LOT). So, I feel thoroughly justified in 1) making the coat longer than knee length, 2) interlining it with the shrunken wool flannel and 3) using the heavy-duty flannelized coat lining.
(image at the top courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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…)

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…)

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