Monday, July 27, 2009

Amazing Make-Over

I follow a blog called The Lettered Cottage, Layla Palmer. They are working on their house and have, what I think, is the best before and after project in their kitchen. You know it didn't cost a ton as the big $$$ items are the same, appliances, countertops etc... So its amazing what you can do for little $ that makes a HUGE impact - Check it Out.




Just like they do hotel reviews and how a bad hotel can ruin your vacation...a bad campground can be just as bad or worse because because you aren't as private, you just haven't sunk as much into it as a hotel room.

A group of us went camping this weekend to Calaveras County in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just south of where we live now. Its gorgeous up there and in Alpine County near Lake Alpine. And we really did have a blast, we went to a concert and a hung out at Lake Alpine, plus its always fun to hang near the camp fire with great friends and good drinks!

I have found that the best campsites are in National Forests and Monuments....privately owned sites are terrible. Though we did have a good one in the Eastern Sierra's. This past weekend we stayed at the most squished campsite with barely enough elbow room to swing a cat. It was riddled with bees, the bathrooms weren't cleaned all weekend and we were nickel and dimed the whole way, even paying quarters for the shower!!! These private sites squish so many people into a tiny site to make so much money, its worth it to take the risk and go for a first come and first serve site at a public site and its cheaper.

I guess its a pot luck as to how good the site is and I searched the internet for a good RV review site but to no avail. Oh well, the weekend was still fun, just lesson learned, go early and secure a good site, its worth it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Water, Water, Water

We all know we facing a water shortage, near crisis worldwide and even in the U.S. Unfortunately, until there is no water coming out of the faucet, we all have a hard time comprehending the notion that water is finite and exhaustible. Since we had the issue with the burst pipe and had to empty out the cistern it drew from, the cistern has not replenished itself. Just the mere act of turning on a faucet and nothing comes gives you an image of what it would be like to have  no water, though you know there is water at another faucet, what if there wasn't!!

I know on the East Coast, this is a hard concept to fathom after all the rain you have had, but it is a reality, aquifers are depleting across the country. Groundwater levels are at an all time low in the west and reservoirs are still low nationwide. Check out John Stewart on our Water Shortage and potential conservation and alternative options.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oooh, a new desk

My amazing boyfriend - Kyle, partner in crime, accomplice in wrongdoing and cohort in misconduct - call him what you will. To me, builder extraordinaire!!! In just a few hours on Saturday, he whipped together my new desk and its fabulous.

So here are some more pictures of the office which is coming together. It looks a bit cramped in trailer so I am hoping that once my system is in place in the new house that it will really be a very workable and utilitarian space.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Got two new projects to boast about but forgot my camera today to download the pics so stay tuned. In the meantime - it was a little toasty this weekend, but we still managed to be productive.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

They Fixed the English Button

I posted a blog the other week on a container home (a kickass container house) in Quebec but the link I provided wouldn't let you click through to the English version so for those not fluent in French, you were outta luck.
Well, they fixed the link so here it is Maison Idekit Home™ - so hurry over and check it out, I think this is the best container home I have seen yet.

Paint Brush Tip

So my Grandad was a fabulous painter, mostly oils. He actually painted all the street signs in Filey, Yorkshire, if you ever go see if any are still there. Well he was able to maintain paintbrushes for years, it truly was a gift.

Anyway, we have been oiling some furniture and new posts with Linseed Oil and have been left with a bunch of nasty, hard, crunchy paintbrushes. Even after a good soak in turps or mineral spirits they were still crunchy and useless. So I pulled out a little tiny old fashioned comb, the kind that McFly from Back to the Future would keep in his pocket protector. And I started combing the paintbrushes. I know, you are all thinking she has OFFICIALLY lost her mind combing paintbrushes. BUT IT WORKED. The suckers are good as new, it seperated all the bristles and made them soft and clean and fabulous again. So I salvaged 4 brushes - Now on to the next project.

I finally remembered to take a before pic

Here is the before of a little lamp that I got when Jen was out here at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was $10 and we installed it on the back deck, it looks FABULOUS!!! I can't tell what a difference it does the deck and I was gong to get a second one, but this one kicks out so much light we don't need another...

Self Contained in Texas

Texas might not be everyone's dream location, though West Texas is pretty amazing and a world apart from East Texas. I saw this container home built on 3,000 acres (not too shabby). Thought the design might be odd, not sure I would like to have 5 parts of my house and non-of them be attached to each other, its still cool and if you flick through the slide show, with that view he has, I would live in a tin hut with pigs (wait, I already do).........

Self Contained In Texas

The Slide Show

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sierra Buttes

This past weekend my best friend from since I was 13 came to visit.  We ventured up to Tahoe National Forest, somewhere I had not been yet, on the recommendation from Kyle to check out the Look Out Tower at Sierra Buttes. 

 It was stunning, a gorgeous day, fabulous drive up and incredible hike (if not a tad steep at 8,500 ft).  It was an amazing view at the top with shots of the Lassen, down to Yosemite and the Sierra's in between. A must do again on the list - just amazing.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This is a MUST Have for the House

I saw thi post on AT - this is a for sure must have for the house........

The Cottage

Like we don't have enough projects going on at the moment, I am dreaming of the day when we can get started on the cottage on the property. I say "cottage" loosely as its a tumbling down hay barn right now. BUT - I have BIG dreams for it as it will be great to have an extra cottage on the property, will increase the property's value and I have always wanted to renovate a barn, ever since my parent's nearly bought a 14th century Tythe Barn in the U.K. that still had cow poop in it, unfortunately the sale fell through, but what an amazing project that would have been.

So my plans for the cottage include attaching a container on the side of it that will house the kitchen and bathroom and the main part of the barn will be a big living area with loft bedroom above . I love the idea of the modern container with the old world barn. And then a big wrap around deck. These pics are what I imagine the place to look like when we are done.....hehehehehe.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Big Dig House is Done

Just a link to the update - The Big Dig House is finished and its stunning. $150 sq/ft and used 600,000 lbs of recycled material from the Big Dig - this house ROCKS!!!

Will these box people ever STOP!

Another one has cropped up, this time in Quebec (at this point I would normally give you the link but like any true Quebecers, their site is in French and the English Button is broken - hahahaha).

They may speak funny but they sure can build a container home and on the cheap are the details from JetsonGreen -

Using seven recycled shipping containers, architect Bernard Morin and wife Joyce Labelle built this contemporary residence in St. Adele, Quebec.  The home is the first of many to come for their new company, Maison Idekit, which will help homeowners turn containers into architecturally unique, and inexpensive, homes.  The company has two more residential projects set to break ground in the next couple months using a total of twelve container modules.


IDEKIT's first home is 3,000 square feet with four-bedrooms.  It cost about $175,000 to build and turns container design on its head.  Rather than feature the exposed containers on the exterior, the containers are exposed on the inside -- you can even see serial numbers, dents, and corrugated detail in several places throughout the home.  On the outside, the home has five inches of insulation that is topped by brown wood siding.

Maison a part-entry




Photo credits: Maison IDEKIT.

Post-Twitter recap

So my cohorts in initially rescuing Twitter were great friends Kathy and Katie. Well, Kathy's sister lives in NYC and upon learning of the Twitter story sent this recap that pretty much sums up the whole Twitter story -

" My sister Kathy and her friend Hannah found a newborn baby finch (christened Twitter) who's mom kicked it out of the nest because her was the runt.  They rescued poor little Twitter and actually dug up worms and chopped them into bite-size pieces for him. To get him to eat, they mimicked his mom by making high-pitched chirping noises.  Kathy had to go home, but Hannah continued to feed (actually buying high quality worms from the pet shop and still lovingly chopping them up) and care for little Twitter.  Twitter grew and flourished under Hannah's care and even took to hanging out with the computer mouse on Hannah's desk (see pictures below).  Every once in awhile he would chirp for food and flex his little wings, but he was content to hang with Hannah.

This afternoon, Hannah watched proudly as Twitter took his maiden voyage and soared through the air... where his mom promptly escorted him back to the nest.

WTF? Hannah feeds and raises this poor abandoned bird as she would her own child (actually making her underlings at work provide daycare services) and the mother reclaims it, with not so much as thanks to Twitter's foster mom?  The welfare system of this country is atrocious! I'm moving to Canada."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Empty Nest

It finally happened and couldn't have had a more perfect ending. The little birdie - Twitter, flew the nest on Friday morning.

I was having trouble getting him to hunt and peck for his own food and I was going to be gone most of Friday so wanted to leave him in his house with some worms so he might figure it out when he became hungry. In the process of getting him into his house before I left he kept flying out and wouldn't stay still. So I took him out on the back deck and put him on the floor, hoping he might see the other birds flying around and get the idea of what he was SUPPOSED to do.

Not a minute after he was on the deck, who should fly up but his mother. I have no doubt in my mind it was his mom, she cam right up to  him by the back of the deck, stayed there for a few minutes and then flew back to the deck railing as if to say "come on, time to go". I made myself scarce at this point not wanting to scare mom away from showing her babe the ropes, the part of birdie raising I can't do.

When I poked my head back on the deck a minute or two later, Twitter was gone. I hung out for a while listening for him but nothing. He had a great start as it was morning and he had all day with him mom with no dangers (no kitties or doggies) and hopefully has figured out the flying thing and the searching for worms.

Good luck Twitter, come back and visit anytime.....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Of Mice and Men

Like we don't have enough to do around here - just when you think you have a plan and are actually ticking things OFF the list, something unplanned  happens that throws it all off and chaos ensues.

Last night we got to it and finally got our household composter built. We have been using a small wire netted area outside but it was a mess, the dogs could get into it, you couldn't turn it and it was drying out.  So we kicked butt (well Kyle did) and got our new one made. Pretty cool, huh. And we can rotate it daily and its got worms etc... just like it says in our fabulous composting book (thanks Mom for snagging that book at the flea market for 25 cents, its awesome).

Well, we had just got this finished and oiled and in place when this little outside faucet that we have, its in the middle of the garden and has had a little trickle of a leak so Kyle put a bird bath underneath it so put the little trickle to good use, though the only one that uses it is Ziggy as his personal drinking fountain.

Well this afternoon the dam broke. It slooged water everywhere and was flooding. So Kyle turned off the water at the go, that wasn't its source. So he went up to the shop, which has its own cistern and turned the water off there, that relieved the pressure but water still flowed. We finally figured that it was attached to the cistern and was now being gravity fed directly from the cistern. So Kyle dug down to the joint and we tried to detach the faucet.

He said twist, so I did, Oooops, it broke off. So now we had a true geyser. So we ran around collecting the water and irrigating everything we could. Every tree, plant and bush got a huge flood of water. Finally the cistern ran down and I was able to dig out around the pipe while Kyle went to the Depot (read Home Depot) to get the parts which is where he is now.

Morning Update - the new faucet is up and installed. We now wait to see how long it will take for the cistern to refill.. a good test for the property as to how much water we have available beneath us and traveling through.

Hmmm, wonder who won this David/Goliath match up......I can tell you the toy is no longer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Little Birdies

On Saturday as we were relaxing out on the deck, we found a little sparrow type baby who has fallen out his nest. We put him back a few times but  he kept falling into the netting we put up for them and then we watched  the nest for a few hours and the mom no longer was feeding him. So out he came and into his own private Condo.

He has been doing well, except for Monday morning as I got to work with NO food for him, I was seriously stressing. I dug for over 4 hours on Sunday and then again around work on Monday, and no worms. Where the heck are all the worms, no wonder our soil stinks!! To the rescue Katie and Danielle as they jetted off to Petco to pick up little containers of worms which birdie LOVES!

Since then he has been doing great, he is getting strong and big and strutting around. This morning his siblings flew their nest, well stumbled out of the nest, half flew, half fell onto the deck and then into the blackberries, where they will be safe till they figure out. Unfortunately, Birdie doesn't seem quite ready to fly away and prefers the safety of the Condo...he is still a tad smaller than his siblings so we will give him an extra day before the Tough Love kicks in and he will have to go it alone.