Archive | October, 2009

Really Weird Lamps

October 19, 2009

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Winter’s shorter days will soon be upon us, so I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for more lamps for the house. In my searching, I discovered a website with some really quirky and weird (and some are outright vulgar) lamps. I certainly tend to be a tad more conservative with my lamp styles, but a quirky lamp or two wouldn’t bother me. 😀 Some of these are pretty weird, though, seeming more at home in the dark caverns or New York penthouses. I posted the best ones here for you to enjoy with me. Which one do you like best?

Just right for a doctor’s home (if his wife will let him):

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Find the Kitty Friday 10/16

October 16, 2009

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Hmmm… where could she be this time? LOL.

P.S. She thinks she’s a great big invisible ferocious tiger when she does this.

HidingKitty

OK OK I’m not even going to TRY to apologize for the office. It’s a disaster. I’m pretty fussy about my office neatness, but this past week… forget it!! :-p

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Chinese-Made Drywall Causing Headaches

October 15, 2009

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News is out today that Chinese-made drywall is causing severe headaches for homeowners– physically and financially.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – James and Maria Ivory’s dreams of a relaxing retirement on Florida’s Gulf Coast were put on hold when they discovered their new home had been built with Chinese drywall that emits sulfuric fumes and corrodes pipes. It got worse when they asked their insurer for help – and not only was their claim denied, but they’ve been told their entire policy won’t be renewed.

Thousands of homeowners nationwide who bought new houses constructed from the defective building materials are finding their hopes dashed, their lives in limbo. And experts warn that cases like the Ivorys’, in which insurers drop policies or send notices of non-renewal based on the presence of the Chinese drywall, will become rampant as insurance companies process the hundreds of claims currently in the pipeline.

At least three insurers have already canceled or refused to renew policies after homeowners sought their help replacing the bad wallboard. Because mortgage companies require homeowners to insure their properties, they are then at risk of foreclosure, yet no law prevents the cancellations.

What a disaster! The law requires homeowners insurance, but what do you do if no insurer will step up to the plate? You lose your home, that’s what. Moreover, the sulfuric-emissions coming from the drywall is affecting homeowners’ health and ruining the rest of the house.

During the height of the U.S. housing boom, with building materials in short supply, American construction companies imported millions of pounds of Chinese-made drywall because it was abundant and cheap. An Associated Press analysis of shipping records found that more than 500 million pounds of Chinese gypsum board was imported between 2004 and 2008 – enough to have built tens of thousands of homes. They are heavily concentrated in the Southeast, especially Florida.

The defective materials have since been found by state and federal agencies to emit “volatile sulfur compounds,” and contain traces of strontium sulfide, which can produce a rotten-egg odor, along with organic compounds not found in American-made drywall. Homeowners complain the fumes are corroding copper pipes, destroying TVs and air conditioners, and blackening jewelry and silverware. Some believe the wallboard is also making them ill.

I have to wonder– how the heck does a homeowner know if one’s drywall is from China? Is there a “Made in China” stamped on each sheet? If not, do homeowners now have to call drywall manufacturers, researching exactly where the drywall originates? It’s crazy! The best bet would be to STOP all this importation of CHEAPO Chinese crap! Between the toothpaste, the pet food, the milk products… haven’t we had enough toxicity in our products yet? But that would require that our government to cease their special interest with the Chi-Coms. It’s all just another symptom of how Americans are cattle, to be corralled under the guise of “the economy” but we’re only just servants of the Big Government and their Chinese profiteers. It all makes me SICK.

ABC News has a video about the story, if you want to see it.

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The Furnace Cold Air Return Vents

October 13, 2009

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About this time every year, my blog gets a lot of traffic from people searching for “can I cover my cold air return vents?”

Answer: no.

I want to address this issue again. If you have a forced air furnace, realize that there is an exchange of air going on with it– cold air to hot air. Your furnace needs to take in cold air, heat it up, and blow it out through your heater vents as heated air. If you cover your cold air return vents, you are starving your furnace, creating an air vacuum in your home (leading to an uncomfortable atmosphere), and perhaps filling your home with trace amounts of carbon monoxide.

Do not cover your cold air return vents.

I did a post about this when I renovated my living room, and re-did some of the furnace ducting to the room. I had done some studying and talked with my furnace guy. You can read the post here. You can also read my recent post about changing your furnace filters— it’s an easy chore. Not changing dirty filters can damage your furnace and wind up costing you more money on your heating bills, too.

furnacediagram

Now, my home has cold air return vents, but not enough. Not only do you need vents, you need a proper amount for proper air exchange. My house, at about 1680 square feet, only has two small cold air return vents– for the entire house! That is far too few. My Furnace Guy said that for every heater vent (and size) in a room, there should be a cold air return vent. Bedrooms almost never have them, and this explains why bedrooms are so cold in the winter– there is no full air exchange but rather a vacuum of air. The heated air really has nowhere to go, since there is no air flow; and the room air remains stagnant and chilly. So ideally, every room should have a cold air return vent (or at least larger ones in key areas of the home). I know! This sounds awful, because with duct work, you have to rip out walls and work with metal. It’s NOT fun. However, the next time you have a wall open or if you decide to build an addition to your home, keep these things in mind. Your furnace will appreciate it, and it will show in the heating bills.

And in the meantime, keep all those cold air return vents uncovered!

Photos courtesy of Americanhvacparts and Office of Energy Efficiency of Canada.

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Change Your Furnace Filters Regularly

October 12, 2009

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We had our first big freeze last night. The house is pretty cold this morning, but I am stubbornly being a miserly scrooge frugal by refusing to turn on the furnace yet. Truth is, I’m late this year in getting ready for winter! My furnace needs a tune up and new filters yet, and I need to inspect the ducts to make sure everything is working properly.

One of the nicest things you can do for your furnace is changing the filter regularly. But how often does one change the filters? I’ve done a little research, and the answer is: it depends. Haha! Seriously, it does depend on your furnace, your house, and your lifestyle. If you have a lot of pets and a huge drafty dusty home like I do, you should change your furnace filters every month. If you use your furnace irregularly, have no pets, and have a smaller home, every other month or every three months are fine. Most furnaces come with recommendations in the manual; always check that first.

The main purpose of the furnace filter is to protect your furnace’s delicate moving parts from dust and dirt. And some filters come with extra benefits, such as capturing very small particles of dander, dust, and allergens. I only use those now. You should see how quickly they fill up with gunk!

I read a review at Consumer Reports a while ago, and they did a test on furnace filters. The “cheapo” brands (the ones I always got) were horribly non-effective in filtering dust and allergens from the furnace system. The filter that got the highest grades were those by the manufacturer 3M. Those are the only ones I purchase now; they’re called Allergen Reduction Furnace Filter. They are, obviously, more expensive than the cheapo ones, but at least they do the job! And we change them every month (well, try to). So I am always looking for deals. They come in a pack of 6 and the shipping is very inexpensive. Sometimes you can snag some when there’s a good sale; however, at this time of year, sometimes things are out of stock. Don’t ever wait to order seasonal stuff like this!

It’s important to change your filters regularly. Leaving filthy filters in your furnace can cause the furnace to overheat and shut down; installing insufficient filters can cause dust and dirt to pass into your furnace motor, clogging up the works and reducing the efficiency of the furnace (which means more expensive heating bills). Be sure to change your filters regularly!

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Find the Kitty 10/9

October 8, 2009

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Find the Kitty Friday

I was surprised that folks were stumped with last week’s FTKF. I guess I am so used to Livvy’s hiding places!

This week she wasn’t feeling terribly adventuresome. We did some minor construction and cleaning work in the house this week, and she was peeved about the noise and shifting furniture. So she skulked in one of her “predictable” hiding spots. Can you find the kitty? 😀

Find Kitty 10.9

Here’s an alternate view if you need a hint. LOL!! […]

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Preparing for Winter Power Outages

October 8, 2009

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Power outages in winter in Upstate New York are lousy. I don’t have a fireplace! There is a twinge of uneasiness to be so reliant on the electric grid… we have a nice hefty pile of seasoned wood in the backyard should we ever really need it, and I can always gather all the kids together in the same room and make them do calisthenics to warm things up 😉 …but I like to be prepared. One thing I am in desperate need of is a battery-powered weather radio. I’ve procrastinated all summer long about the thing, so I’m finally checking specs and prices. Eton FR350 Self-Powered radio looks terrific! I think I am going to get it. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of radio:

  • AM/FM and 8 Shortwave bands
  • Numerous power options: 3 AA batteries, or the AC adapter, or a built-in rechargeable Ni-MH that takes charge from a hand-crank or the AC adapter!!
  • It has an emergency siren, a flashlight, built-in LED lights, and a built-in cell-phone charger
  • Also includes kitchen sink

Well, I’m kidding about that last one. 😀 But I suppose it would if it could! It looks superb. The price is right ($30) with Buy.com’s amazing Free Shipping bonus. I think I may get a few- this would make a great gift for my sons!

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Theme Changes

October 7, 2009

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It’s been a long time since I changed the theme for this blog– about two years now! I’ve been ready for a change, and the old theme was taking too long to load. My blog is in limbo right now– the colors clash and not everything is just the way I like it. I will be tinkering with CSS for the next day or so.

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The Last Few Projects

October 7, 2009

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We’re attempting to wrap up a few things around the house and yard before winter’s icy grip. It’s been raining non-stop for a few days, and the garden is a large patch of mud right now. I managed to get out between showers and dig up some potatoes. We still have about 10 hills of potatoes, waiting for us to pull them out.

Potato Harvest

I’m also very happy to say that the living room now has window trim! I pulled it off when I gutted the living room two years ago, and we never installed new trim. My husband did the work. He’s very good with detailed work like this; unlike me, who is a “big picture” person. Doing meticulous stuff like trim work drives me nuts!

Window Trim1

I have to caulk the gaps and paint the trim yet… […]

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Interior Decorating and Planning

October 6, 2009

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We’re entering in on another several months of winter, where we Northeasterners are holed up inside our half-renovated homes (well, I am, anyway), researching and planning for a new renovation season come spring. I used to get most of my ideas and information about home improvement and interior design from magazines, but now I get most of it from the Internet. The Japanese style decoration is hot right now; I like it because of it’s emphasis on natural products and simplicity.

One very cool website I’ve recently spotted is Interior Decorating Homes. Nice! They have articles full of photos and info, like how to clean hardwood floors and simple tips for installing wainscoting to your interior walls. I like it that the site has loads of good photos– interior decorating ideas are very difficult to visualize without photos (I think). Their ideas for creating a Tuscan-style kitchen are fabulous! I love kitchens like that– full of warm colors, clean lines, soft lights. And there’s a good article about home office makeovers, which I am currently looking into. I work at home, in the living room… yeah, amongst all the Legos, the schoolbooks, the ringing phone, the children’s arguments conversations… a home office is looking REALLY good right about now! I need some tips!

So anyway, this site is a nice one for those days of cabin fever, when your hands are itching to pick up the paintbrush and you can’t yet.

Remember, I’m a pro-blogger and I am sometimes compensated with stuff or money to review products! This was one of them. You can read more about my blog policy on my “About Us” page.

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