Archive | August, 2008

Up Pop the Yard Signs

August 25, 2008

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Now that hot and steamy July and August are gone, people are once again breaking out the boxes of stuff for yard sales, and putting their homes up for sale. I used to do flea markets with my step-dad when I was a kid. We traveled all around the county, selling goods (he was a trader in the 70s, before the rise of WalMart and Jamesway). After he got a little too old to travel, we held the “yard sale” on our front lawn. It was quite the experience for me! I am a a terrific haggler now, and I handle all the bargaining in the family. hehe. Do you know what the best thing you can do to get people to visit and buy your stuff at your yard sale? Make quality, professional-looking yard signs, and have everything organized on nice, neat tables. Believe me, it works!

However, the cost of printing up paper yard signs at your local print shop can quickly overshadow any profit you’d make. So I suggest you check out VistaPrint for your printing needs. I have used VistaPrint and can account for their speedy service, excellent quality, and great prices! And I have a goodie for you– a promo code you can use to get 25% off your customized yard sign! Use the code: YardSigns25. These sign are also great if you are selling your own home, have a business, support a candidate or a cause, or just feel like telling your neighbors to have a nice day! šŸ™‚ Signs start at $11.99, which is very affordable. I love VistaPrint! I know you will love them, too!

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Just Stop the Stuff!

August 24, 2008

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“Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of like, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.” Victor Lebow, 20th century economist, about the American consumerist capitalism created in the 1950s.

Hat tip to Strawbale House for directing me to a terrific video called The Story of Stuff. This video is a MUST SEE! When I went to the site and saw that it was 20 minutes, my heart sank a little. But it is very much worth it, and the video is so well done that 20 minutes seemed like 5 minutes! Really, this is a must-see. In the video, Annie Leonard shows how our consumerist economy is wrecking countries, families, communities, and individuals. She makes the clear case about corporate butt-kissing by our government. It’s a very impressive story, and an eye-opener. And she also explains the conspiracy behind our goods– why we have to buy a new vacuum cleaner every 6-8 months, why we have to buy new shoes and new computers and new cell phones: planned obsolesence. And we cannot sustain such rampant consumerism for a long period of time.

This video details exactly what has been on my mind– and what I have been blogging about for a year now: that the materialistic consumerism is a direct agenda by government and business linked together; is unsustainable; and is fatal for the “serfs” (that’s us). This system is creating a serfdom where consumers, while thinking they have “liberty,” are actually slaves to a system that is eliminating their worth in the system when the resources have expired. We MUST return to community-based, sustainable living and local economies.

Really– give your children and grandchildren the gift of watching this video. I found a few teaser trailers to give you a taste of what the video is about.

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NY Passes Spending Cuts!

August 20, 2008

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I don’t know what it is with me, lol. I’ve been on a “political and economic” rag for a while. Honestly, the economy STINKS, people! Stupid government policies and manipulations (and corporate welfare and corporate tax breaks) are really hurting the average home owner. Here in New York, it’s hit us hard. So I flipped when I saw this headline at my local online newspaper:

State Legislature Passes $1B in Cuts

Wooohoo! Now, $1 billion is a lot of money to us, but not to New York State, which has a budget of $122 billion this year. Nonetheless, I think it is the first time in a very long time (what is it, 100 years now?!) that New York has passed spending cuts! Of course, they are going to cut “services” and “programs,” but not necessarily salaries. Oh well. At least it’s a start. Now, if they’d only lower the stinking taxes…

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Installing a French Drain

August 20, 2008

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Old houses often have water problems. Mine sure does. Last year, the kids and I worked all summer on building a huge drywell area, to lead rainwater runoff from the roof away from the foundation of the house. You can read more about it here and here and here.

Filling with Rocks 1

Filling with Dirt 2

It has helped our water situation, somewhat, although we so still get backup water from the sump well. I think the reason for that is the undergorund water table is very high around here, and there is only so much we can do to deal with that. Nonetheless, I’ve been mulling over more of my options. I cannot really prevent the water from coming up and into my property, but I can divert it. So we are going to build French drains around the perimeter of the house, one side at a time. (we are doing the digging ourselves, with shovels).

Perhaps the best article I’ve read on building a French drain, and understanding water flow, is here at Ask the Builder. I’m not quite sure where to have the drainage area, because there is the chance of exacerbating the water problems if I don’t extend the French drain system far enough away from the house; I’ll just be creating a pond from all that runoff!

So… I’m doing more research and thinking. I may have to tear up a section of the asphalt driveway to do this. The driveway is very old, and was installed much too close to the house anyway (it’s only two feet away from the house walls!) I have some tough decisions to make. But I think this will be our autumn project before school begins for the kids. And we have to go camping sometime soon before then, too!

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U.O. Me, U.S.A

August 20, 2008

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This is interesting: a documentary is coming out– tomorrow!– with a limited release, about our present economy, recession woes, and the national debt. It’s titled I.O.U.S.A.. Bigwigs like Warren Buffet, William Niskanen of the Cato Institute; Bill Novelli of AARP; Pete Peterson of The Blackstone Group; and Dave Walker former U.S. Comptroller General are among the talking heads in the documentary. The movie is produced by Fathom and Roadside Attractions. Looks amazing! The nearest theatre location for me is in Syracuse, so I may have to miss it– but how I wish I could go! I’d love to know more about the national debt and the housing market crisis. Truly, I’d like to know why the government is grossly MISHANDLING our economy, our industries, and our nation’s financial system.

It’s a one-night special showing, scheduled for Thursday, August 21, 8pm Eastern Standard Time. Tickets are reasonable, between $11.50 and $20, depending on your location (of course New York State will be the most expensive). Yet I’m very sorry I’m going to miss it, but maybe they’ll have another release sometime, I hope! If you can make it, I recommend it– looks outstanding! Check for available theatres in the United States. There’s also a way to search by zip code for a location nearest you.

I’d love to see what the “financial experts” have to say about what’s going on in this country. Will it be an Alex-Jones-ish, Michael Moorie-ish expose of deception, pocket padding, and global fascism? That’s what I’d really like to know! If YOU see it, be sure to send me a note and tell me how it was!

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My Secret Garden Walkway

August 20, 2008

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I have a narrow plot of land on one side of the house– it’s only about 20 feet wide, and it is the only thing between the house and the parking lot next door. So I’ve been developing this area for the past few years. I call it my Secret Garden because I have planted tall flowering shrubs that will eventually grow up and over the arbor I set there, making a hallway from the front yard to the back yard; it will look like a tunnel of flowering foliage. Right now, everything is still rather low, but it’s made great progress.

Garden Walkway 1

Because it is a narrow area, and because the children love to run around the house and chase each other in circles, I’ve been building a concrete walkway through this little garden. Last year I blogged about how the children gave me a Quikrete concrete form and some bags of concrete for my birthday. My husband and I installed about 5′ of the walkway. The children and I finished the walkway course up to the arbor. (We intend to extend the garden, and the walkway, beyond the arbor, in the future). It was the first time that the kids got to work with concrete, and they did a terrific job! I’m also very impressed with the ease and durability of the Quikrete walkway form. Although the walkway has shifted a little from last winter’s frost heave, the walkway remains in place and is still in perfect condition. I think we will continue using the Quikrete form method elsewhere in the yard. I love it!

We bought the regular concrete mix, but I added a third of a bag of mortar mix to the concrete mix, to make the mix more sticky.

Concrete & Mortar Mix

The most laborious part of the entire project is making sure your concrete is thoroughly mixed well– no dry spots. We made sure the concrete has the consistency of mud pies. When you chop the wet mix with your hoe, it should leave “hills” that do not blop from too much moisture, or look too crusty and dry.

Mixing Concrete

You set the walkway form on the ground and fill it up. It is best to chop the concrete into the sides and edges of each unit, to make sure there are no gaps or air bubbles.

Filling Form

We smooth it out with a trowel.

Filling Form 4

And carefully lift up the form.

Lifting Form 1

Lifting Form 2

Here we are, making progress. we used 5 bags of 80 pound concrete mix, with one full bag of mortar mix between them. This got us about 12 feet of walkway.

Making Walkway

The crowning moment is signing your handiwork. And we pressed a few flowers into the concrete, too.

Initials in Concrete

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will lay some large field stones from the property along the pathway, to give the walkway added stability. Then I will sprinkle sand mix between the walkway cracks and wet the mix. This will fill the areas between the “stones” and stabilize them. This part of the yard will be completely done! Woooo!

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The Celebrity ā€“ Advertising team up

August 20, 2008

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I feel that companies who utilise the talents of celebrities they feel to be known to a minority only is quite cutting edge, they are daring to be different and it works for them. They feel they are using subtle marketing but as a general rule that may not be the case. Take for example Ray Mears and Bear Grylls, I went in to work today and asked my colleagues if they had ever heard of them, not one person in the whole room said yes. Then again, neither had I until recently, I was introduced to these delectable characters by a partner who is obsessed with the outdoors and outdoor survival tactics.

Nightly viewings on Sky have made them both a household name in this dwelling, and if we miss them the dear man records them for later viewing! I could now trap a squirrel with a piece of cotton, and cook a hock of deer in an underground barbecue made of stone and mud thanks to these guys, whose names certainly do not roll off the tongue of the majority!

Ray Mears endorses a Viggy Vig Vig tent, do I own one? No, but it would certainly be one I would consider for our next purchase, only because he clearly knows what outdoor life is all about and has an authentic and “knowing” presence in an advert.

Advertisers globally are taking on emerging celebrities as they are offering a fresh take on things, a sort of novelty so to speak, who are benefiting both the company and the artist themselves. Take Pepsi for example, for the last few years it has employed a changing cast of obscure comedians, not world renowned celebrities such as Michael Jackson or Britney Spears for their commercials as they did previously.

For some companies, household names are not the priority when casting, today’s audiences are highly influential, taking cues from exciting new discoveries, rather than “old hats”. Audience chemistry now plays a big factor, do I want Peter Andre to tell me how good a tent is, he may have a six pack and a lovely tanned, toned body, but is he a really sincere about the product he is advertising, and is best person for the job when showing me mountain equipment? Bear Grylls on the other hand would make be believe the tent he was using was the best invention since sliced bread!

I think obscure and little known celebrities really do benefit a company, as they are casting people for individual talents, rather than international recognition. Consumers today are fully aware that top celebrities are not necessarily using the products they promote, and that it is just a facade (personally I can’t see Lenny Henry washing his crockery with Fairy!). I think being innovative with their choice of celebrities works in their favour and makes the product more believable.

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Thinking of French Drains

August 19, 2008

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The water problems are better here, but I’m seriously thinking of installing a French drain around the perimeter of the house. I have a strapping young son who loves to dig, lol.

By the way, a French drain is not named for the European French– it’s named after the guy who invented the idea. My house does not have gutters, nor can it have them, due to the structure of the eaves. So I think a French drain to divert all the rainwater from the roof is a great idea. I’ll have more on it soon. I also hope to have a few videos up about it, too, so we can all learn from the experience! LOL!

More on the way…

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Take Agri-Cover!

August 19, 2008

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Upstate New York is rural. A lot of people, for some odd reason that I can’t understand, seem to think that “New York” equals “New York City.” Ah, the two are extremely different, and here in Upstate, we are rural. Much of New York is dairy farmland, but we also have wheat, corn, barley fields, vineyards, and apple orchards. The pickup truck and the tractor are very common sights up here, even in town.

Lots of farmers are always looking for good deals on quality products, like Agri-Cover equipment for pickups and agricultural machines. Agri-Cover offers exceptional quality and durability for their products, like tonneau covers for trucks, snow plows, ag tarps, other truck bed covers, and more. Best thing is, Agri-Cover products are built and tested in the USA! Check them out! And if you see a farmer today, give a hello– the farmer deserves our support!

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Ha! So True!

August 19, 2008

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I saw this and had to post it. Made me crack up! This is soooo true, lol. I am looking forward to when the elections are finally OVER. What a charade it’s been this year. :-p

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