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Saving the Least Worst – Blue Jeans, That Is

Around here, there are ‘nice’ blue jeans and ‘work pants’, which actually many times started out as ‘nice’ but through ‘life as it is lived’ here, achieve ‘work pants’ status. Once they’ve ‘arrived’ as work pants, it’s every man for himself, pants-wise (for my readers from the UK, I realize that ‘pants’ in your world refer to what we consider underwear, but just go with me here), and they accumulate stains, paint, worn spots and rips. As every mother of 7 year old boys knows, rips can appear in brand new jeans (especially if you live where there are fences, barbed wire, ends of nails and staples sticking out of walls, etc. ) but most of the time, they get worn in certain places (and actually in places that you’d never expect, too) and then it’s only a matter of time before the weak places separate and rip and there you are. (more…)

Relining a coat – Part 3

coatlining3I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to this but several readers have reminded me that I owe everyone the completion on this. So, back to basics.
1) You’ve got lining, scissors, pins, a measuring tape and something long with a straight edge – yard stick, that sort of thing.
2) You’ve measured the length of the coat and the width of the coat. Lay the coat down on the floor or a big table. (more…)

No chix-sicles at Chez Siberia

barnAnd in our last chicken-y episode, the hens had started to do their egg-thing and life seemed to be going along beautifully. We get more eggs now on a daily basis and they are bigger eggs too, though every once in a while, we get a ‘peewee’ one.

But, we always knew, the DH and I, that at some point this fall, we were going to have to bring the chickens inside..someplace. The climate at Chez Siberia (Zone 4 on a good day) gets into the ‘oh, crap it cold out there’ state pretty quickly.

Too quickly. It snowed – twice this week. A freak October storm for sure and we lucked out in only getting 2 inches of snow. It was not that cold – in the 30s – but it was a rather sharp reminder that winter is coming. The DH and The Boy had started the work on the barn last week to make a winter space for the chickens but we were certainly not in a position to move them yet. The barn is actually the original brooder house (which was heated by a series of coal stoves actually) for the chicken farm that Chez Siberia was in the 1930s and 1940s. It is long and low, with windows (or actually the remains of windows – the former owner used to keep his horses in there and they ‘removed’ the windows in short order) all along the south side. A couple of years ago, we came up with hinged shutters to close off the openings, but we did not get out to the end of the barn because we did not use that end of the building.

Well, now we need to use that end of the building, so we needed to clean it out (which we did). new wallsWe also put in a wall to make the space that we will be using for the chickens smaller (so that they are not trying to heat up the entire back of the barn with their body heat – they will stay warmer this way). These chickens are Light Brahmas Light Brahmas and are extremely large and fluffy birds with teeny ‘pea combs’ so as long as we keep them out of the wind and give them a space that is not too big, with the South-facing windows, they should be able to keep themselves warm through this winter.

shutterOrdinarily, we’d just put on the shutters, but we saw some interesting pictures of chickens in the snow and it gave us the idea that perhaps the birds would, on nice sunny days (and we get those starting in January), like to ‘take the air’ as they used to say. We plan to use some scrap lumber and old windows to make a 3-sided ‘sunporch’. We’ll open the shutter (it’s hinged at the top), snuggle the ‘sunporch’ up against the outside wall of the barn, put the shutter down across the top and hook it down to the outside of the ‘sunporch’. But, let’s say that we just want to give them some fresh air? The DH came up with some screens that just fit into the window openings. If all we want is fresh air, then we can open up the shutters. If we want to use the ‘sunporch’ then, we’ll take out the screens from the inside of the windows and shoo the chickens out into the sun.

screensWe’ll be able to do a bit of cleaning in their living space (always a job done much better and more ‘pleasantly’ in the winter rather than in the spring when the weather – and the manure – warms up) and get them some fresh air and sun at the same time. Win-win.

In the meantime, the chickens do not seem to have been fazed at all by the snow. And when I’ve gone out in the morning, I’ve had to knock the ice out of the waterers, so we’ve started taking hot water up for them and we are feeding scraps along with everything else to make sure they get plenty of calories. But soon..very soon, they will be coming into the barn for the winter.

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…)

It’s Curtains For You, Bub..

The little den is coming together now, with some little bits and pieces to pull all the disparate colors together. The original color of the den, when Elder Daughter used it as a bedroom, was an aqua color and she got some cotton hopsacking tab top curtains to match. Pretty, a little girly perhaps but not bad. Well, of course, all that aqua paint went out the window (literally) when the DH and I wrecked out the walls to rehab the space. And when we painted the new walls, we painted them the same color as the rest of the downstairs (another hint in terms of saving money on redecorating: Find a color that you can stick with across an entire floor). So, we had ‘pecan’ walls (a nice warm beige), a futon that needed a new cover, and some aqua colored curtains that were still good and that I was loath to give or throw away. (more…)

Basic Entrepreneurial Rules Still Apply: Find a Need and Fill It

“Demetri Leontaris sometimes calls himself the “iPod Doctor” and the license plate on his van that says exactly that. But the first thing you notice is how many people come up to his van and ask him for a business card. Leontaris repairs cell phones, laptops and digital music players, and he says his business got started by chance. He loved the iPod when it came out; he bought a broken one, but he found Apple’s repair prices too steep. So he bought another broken iPod for the parts, took them both apart, and fixed one of them. Before he knew it, he “kept on finding people with broken iPods, who wanted to get them fixed.” In fact he says that most people are amazed. They had no idea they could get their Blackberries, or iPods fixed.”

Mobile Electronics Repair

The DH heard this story on NPR this week and told me about it – he was fascinated by the major aspect of the story: A guy turning a personal need into a business that is growing like crazy – a mobile ‘small personal electronics repair’ business. (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…)

Replacing the Lining in Your Coat – Step 1

coat lining 1One of the things that I really hate in terms of manufactured clothing, esp the stuff that you absolutely have to buy and that usually costs the earth, relatively speaking, is that the inputs are usually so cheap. I don’t necessarily mean “cheap” as in “doesn’t cost very much,” though that is usually the case. I mean “cheap” as in “poorly made and won’t last a very long time.”

My biggest bugaboo on this is: the linings in coats. I hate the quality of these, which ranges from “poor” (and are usually made out of polyester satin) to “falls apart when you get it out of the store” (which is usually made of this sleazy acetate and might be satin faced…or not). (more…)

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