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Monday, September 21, 2009

Creepy Crawlers!

There are few things I like less about home improvement than slithering around on my stomach in a dusty, spider ridden crawl space.


Truth be told, there is a bit of satisfaction to be had when you emerge from the darkness, headlamp covered in spider webs, a soot mark extending from your forehead to your chin and clothes so dirty you hesitate to sit on furniture for fear of ruining it! At least that's what I feel. It also gives you a sense of legitimacy...I'm dirty, so I must be getting work done, must know what I'm doing! The thought that spiders may be in my hair is a little unsettling, I will admit.

This weekend I had my fair share of fun in the dark spaces underneath my house. While doing some work, I also found some neat objects! Of course the typical animal bones and the discarded wood, but I also found a small wheel, an old (rotted) wine barrel, and some object that is made of wood, has two handles, and looks like a buoy, but weighs over 100 lbs (I will post a photo when I go back and take one in November)! Wonder where it's going...inside? Or in the sculpture garden in the backyard?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saving on Security

If your basement is anything like mine, installing glass block windows offers a bit of light for a dark and dreary basement...not to mention a bit of security as well! Last Friday I worked on installing the final glass block window in my basement. Two workshops have been taught on their construction and installation and a worksheet was distributed, so if you're interested in learning how you can do-it-yourself, please contact me to get a pdf version.

I was thinking of the savings, and considering a professional company might charge $100-$200 per window installation, I saved quite a bit! Look at the pricing below (estimation):

Silicon Caulk: $3
Use pre-constructed window: $48
DIY using individual blocks: $30
Mortar mix (80 lb): $7

Total: $40-$60

Of course you have to spend the time doing it, but if you're strapped for money, isn't doing it yourself the obvious choice?? A couple things I have discovered in doing this...
  • Measure, measure, measure so you get the right size blocks!
  • Always allot ample time to prep the sill the window is being placed on; sometimes the sill needs to be repoured.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jacquie Walker Scholarship

Last night, I was at the AAUW potluck dinner and meeting. The American Association of University Women (Buffalo Branch) awarded me a tremendous honor, the Jacquie Walker Scholarship, thanking me for my commitment to community service. I was thinking about this, and while I by no means do what I do to get awards and instead I think everyday about how much I'm learning and how much fun it is, it's always nice to get such a recognition from such amazing women. I was blown away yesterday by the group's collective strength and intelligence. I can only hope to be like them some day!

After the awards ceremony I hopped back on the overnight bus, headed back to school in NYC. Got here at 7 this morning only to find an email from my mother with the link to the TV clip shown last night. As I type I'm blushing, knowing in typical motherly fashion, she has probably emailed everyone and anyone she possibly has ever met, telling them the good news--but that's what mothers are great at! If you get a chance, take a look at the clip...

What a weekend. To Buffalo and back again in 48 hours. And back again in a few days for a wedding! If you're around on Friday, come on over to the house because we plan on getting a lot done. As always, lots to do, lots to learn...lots of fun to be had!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trash to Treasure Building

While I'm here in NYC, finishing up my last year of undergrad before I'm out in the real world (stirring up the pot!) I have a lot more time to read. To read, to discover new green ideas, to experiment with "left field" ideas! While reading up on natural building I discovered this article, published in yesterday's NY Times.

A man who does exactly what I want to do. Turn trash into treasure. Functional treasure. I don't like the idea of converting trash into art because after the gallery show and if no one wants it, it may once again end up in a dump. Making functional, user friendly objects (not to mention HOUSES) out of discarded scraps re-purposes objects and gives them longer lives away from the waste stream.

Meanwhile, at the house...Matt is on his second week of baking! Last week: multigrain boule. This week: a surprise! Wouldn't want to ruin it for any members who would be reading this!
My grandmother called me yesterday to say that she had eaten ALL of my mother's share of bread, it was
that good. Too bad the shares are sold out for this run...if anyone wants to sign up for the next round...stay tuned! Sign ups will be coming up in a few months (make sure you email fancyanddelicious@gmail.com and ask for a reminder email)

I hear the tomatoes are out of control and the eggplants are booming. There is too much food even for Matt, so if you're in the area PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE feel free to stop by and pick some up! Work continues on the bottom half of the house...it's a mad rush before winter sets in. Finishing the kitchen so it's up to baking status, re-tiling the shower, putting in light fixtures, installing the permanent cabinets (out of recycled windows and wood, or maybe some other odd material...). There's lots to do and to learn so if you want to help, email me or call me and we can set up a date!