Monday, March 30, 2009

Bathroom Diaries: The return of the plumbers

LOOKIT! A toilet!!!
And it works! Although, I can't figure out why it's so far from the wall? it's just about two inches from the wall - and the rough out was supposed to be 14", but was it maybe actually supposed to be 12"? Hmmmm, that's one phone call tomorrow.

The sink is also now, permanently attached. Voilá!
And I grouted behind the sink. I'm so glad I did that before the sink was permanent. But of course since nothing can just go smoothly I had to do that twice. I bought premixed grout - not knowing you could have premixed with sand only. The beautiful smooth white kind - well, ya gotta mix that yourself. So yesterday morning I started grouting and it looked terrible. So, while the house guests were snoozing away on West Coast time I up and went to Home Depot and got me a bag of the right grout.
Started on the shower too - will finish that up this weekend hopefully.
Not sure if the plumbers will be back, I'm assuming yes because there are some parts lying on the floor that I'm pretty sure shouldn't be. Can't wait to break in that bathtub - I tell ya!
and Lee the Electrician is supposed to come tomorrow as well. He will finish up all of the electrical work in the bathroom and put the sconces on the third floor to that hopefully we get some decent light up there.
Meanwhile, one of the house guests seems to have gotten the flue - he's upstairs moaning. Poor guy. I was downstairs finishing up my edible book for our edible book party tomorrow.
This is "Clockwork Orange". The clock really works. I put a functioning clock with a battery in plastic and stuck it in the back of the cake. Not bad, eh?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Visitors! and gardening

Rachael and Ben are here!I've known Rachael since undergrad - and I did the math - that's 15 years now. How did that happen?
Here she is with her wonderful fiancé.
Beet, beet greens, pine nuts and pasta. The recipe calls for golden beats but I didn't have them last time so I just used the red that I did. The result is a very Christmas looking dish - but it tastes just as good. This is a super yummy dish - I highly recommend it. I also recommend more garlic - but that's just me.

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches 2-inch-diameter golden beets with fresh healthy greens; beets peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, greens cut into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 12 ounces farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and onions to same skillet and sauté until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until onions are tender and browned, about 30 minutes longer. Add garlic and stir 2 minutes. Scatter beet greens over onions. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over; cover and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook beets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beets to medium bowl. Return water to boil. Add pasta to beet cooking liquid and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Stir onion-greens mixture and beets into pasta. Add pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten. Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve, passing additional cheese.

* * *

Yesterday I finally set all my responsibilities aside and went out into the yard. It felt so good to be out there in the dirt. It was relatively warm - 60° - and the rain had stopped. I yanked out all of the old crud underneath my porch and turned the soil a bit. There are tons of earthworms in there! I planted four raspberry bushes next to the porch. They will get full sun there and climb on the porch. And well, if I have to get rid of them when the porch gets redone - I guess that will be that. In the mean time they've already started sprouting and so I'm hoping for something yummy this summer!
I yanked a lot more grass out of the bed as well and put nasturtium seeds in and some wildflower seeds. If they don't take I can always plant petunias like last year. I'm also going to start some Sunflowers and plant them later.
Jacques was very helpful. He sat behind the trellis that block off the area beneath the porch and the rest of the world. When I would yank out a particularly wispy plant he would stick his paw through and take a few whacks at it. And when I would pull out a deep clump of earth, he would make it deep by furiously digging in it. I also spied my cardinals again. Such beautiful birds.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bathroom Diaries: Wow.

There it is. The sink console complete. Need to stain the legs, baseboard and the molding around the back splash. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bathroom Diaries Day: The return of the Vanity

Look it's back!Look what Jeff did! He kept the drawer working inside! What a genious. Now I can still store stuff in the drawer, but it functions around the plumbing. By the way, this is all you will see of Jeff or Bo - they are both camera shy.
However, after that - Jeff spent the day cursing the cabinet. It's not tall enough, and the legs we picked can't screw into the existing legs because there isn't enough wood. So he made a sturcture of some kind he wasn't happy with (and neither was I) and nixed it. He wasn't pleased when he left today. :(
As soon as they left, Jacques came in to inspect.

For dinner I made some very colorful food. Roasted beets and yams with thyme, bay leaves and roasted garlic. Boy that roasted garlic can make anything good.
I'm still recovering from yesterday. I'm absolutely exhausted. I still need to make a mock up for my students for tomorrow. Let's see how far I get before I give up. Grouting is definitely not happening tonight.

Bathroom Diaries Day: Shower Tiling

And we're off!At the workshop I decided to use 12x12 inch sheets of 2x2 tile. I think I made the right choice. It made certain things easier. I still had plenty of sawing to do, but I think it turned out okay. And because I must be a masochist - I also took a picture after setting every tile so that I can make a flip book out of the project.
Back wall complete.
It's a good thing Jeff wasn't "on call" or I probably would have called him about a million times. In the end it's all worked out. He walked in this morning and gave it his seal of approval.
The front wall was a little nerve wracking:
And it's where I made my big mistakes. But I can't beat myself up about it too much, it looks fine, but the tile in the corner doesn't quite line up - and there's a slight bulge where I let some adhesive dry and didn't scrape it off before putting new adhesive on. That was just plain dumb. In my defense, I was really really hungry and not thinking straight.
Half way through the front wall the inspector showed up.
He didn't approve. I don't think it was the job I was doing, it was more the fact that I was doing the job and not sitting with him in a chair.
Started the back wall at 10pm.
Finished at 11:30. I'm sure the neighbors were thrilled.
Cleaned until 1am.
I also put in a little tray for shampoo at the back, but will have to post those images another time. I was too tired to take more.
This morning, I am so sore. Everything hurts. But Jeff was going to charge me $3000. to do this. I think I'm in the wrong business. - Well actually, I knew that already.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bathroom Diaries Day: Plumb Tuckered Out

Ai Dios Mio - what a day. I took a workshop this morning at Home Depot for setting tile. It was fantastic. There were only two of us, the workshop was free, and we set tile all by ourselves! We were walked through the whole thing, where everything was (that we needed to buy), what kinds of screws to put the board down with, the kind of adhesive - there's a two in one, adhesive and grout - how cool is that? Too bad it won't work for me. We also learned out to cut tile - totally cool. I feel so much more confident about putting the tile in the shower up.
But I must say, it is a TON of work. I didn't leave Home Depot until 2pm because they suckered me into getting a Home Depot credit card and saving 10%. At $400 that's not bad. That makes the tile saw I bought only $44 - instead of $88. I didn't really want to buy one, but to rent one by the day was $68. I would need it for at least two days so I'm actually saving money - right?
I ran a few other errands, got home around 3pm, ate lunch and got to work.
Here's the shower before: On Friday I received precise instruction from Jeff about how to do this. I really wish he'd be on call this weekend, because of course so many other things have come up in the mean time. I bought the stuff he said, Thin-set, but it's really sandy and grainy? And then he kept emphasizing that it need to be flat - flat flat flat - totally smooth. I really hope I did it right.
So I seemed all of the corners, and other seams:
Added the fiberglass tape:
And put another layer over the top of that: Flat Flat Flat - or as near as I could make it.
It looks flat to me, but its awful sandy. I tried sanding some of it that I know is beyond the bull nose tile line - it didn't come off very well. I may have to put the tile up and then spackle so that the wall is smooth. sigh.
I sanded the walls down one more time, spackled a few things, and set to priming.
First layer priming done. It doesn't look great - yet.
This is the hard part of the project. Where you've done all this work, but there's still so much more work to be done, that the payoff hasn't started yet. It will tomorrow. It will be a long day. I've got to put a second layer of primer on, set the tiles, paint my purple ceiling, paint the walls and grout. No problem (she said with clenched teeth).
In good news, my dad called Friday night and said he and Ann were thinking of coming to visit in May. Yeah! I also picked up a great book at the Free Library - My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish author. I'm listening to it. It's all about book illuminations in 16th Century Istanbul - it's fascinating from a book arts point of view, the plot is part murder mystery part love story. I'm going to google the author and go to bed. 'Night.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bathroom Diaries Day: final floor - with grout

oOo - now we're talkin' -
Look at it now! Jeff and Bo were here twice today working on the floor, putting the grout in. It looks so good now especially with the white grout! As Jeff would say, it looks "sharp."
So now I have to sand the hole we poked behind the toilet, paint, take a tile setting class at Home Depot tomorrow, set the tile in the shower. That otta be interesting. Stay tuned.

Bathroom Diaries Day: final floor

Jeff set the tiles for the floor today. Wow.
He called this afternoon to ask if I had grout. Nope. No one told me I needed to have grout! So I asked what I needed to get, he asked, "What color?" I said, "Well, white!" (du-uh!) He said, "Well, I figured with all of your colors you'd want something, .. . you know. . ." I said, "No, just white." He said, "well there's about 22 shades of white." I said, "I trust you" and then he said, "Well, you're so fussy about the colors". Fussy! Can you believe it! He called me fussy! I just want it the way I want it. That's not so much to ask, is it?
When I asked him how the floor looked, he said, "Well, it's green."
Sure is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bathroom Diaries Day: ? maybe a bad sign

Someone was in my house today - who, I cannot tell. The second door was unlocked when I came home - so it was probably Lee. But then I found: (the tile)Is this a bad sign? Does this mean Jeff put the tiles down and couldn't face it all? We'll find out. He said he would be here Friday to show me something important I had to do to tile the shower part of the bathroom. I have to do this myself because I don't have an extra $3000. lying around to pay him for that, and my money tree hasn't blossomed yet.
I did have some money to go to IKEA today. It was so empty that I just started wandering aimlessly. I want a hammock, and garden chairs, and tiny lanterns to string up. I want pots and pans, I want a roasting pan, I want the orange potholders, I want new water glasses, I want an umbrella for the garden. I might want some of the bookshelves for the studio, and I want the napkins with the ladybugs on them. I want some of the cute pet pillows for Jacques, and I really want the wicker tree for him. But want and need are two entirely different things, so I controlled myself. I do need towels for the new bathroom:
They didn't have purple, or that's what it would have been. But that can be the winter colors I think. In the meantime I bought this beautiful tangerine, and luscious fuchsia. I already have one fuchsia towel, but the tangerine - oooo.
I stopped at Home Depot to look at fridges again; it's not looking good for me. There is one that would fit, but it's quite pricey. So I think the question, once again is: want vs. need. I have a fridge, it works fine, maybe I should just wait until this one kicks the bucket? Maybe by then the manufacturers have come to their senses. But I won't hold my breath. To console myself I bought seed packets. I want to garden this weekend. I found poppies, herbs, (basil, Italian parsley, mint, cilantro) lavender, nasturtiums, and johnny jump-ups. But no Cosmos. Do they not grow out here? I love those happy purple flowers, and then there are the chocolate ones. I'll keep looking around to see what I get.
In the mean time, I don't think I need to plant too many vegetables. My friend Mike and I are going to split half a share from a farm share. It's this fantastic thing. From the first week in June to the last week in November you get granola, eggs, some meat, cheese, and a 1/4 bushel of fruits and vegetables. Every week. You just have to go pick it up. One of my interns has been doing this and she says it's great and it's more than enough for two people. So Mike and I are going to split this - and guess how much it costs? $300. !!! That's $150 each, for what, 18 weeks of food? How can you beat that? AND it's local AND its organic AND the meat is hormone and anti biotic free ( I think) How amazing is that? I've got to send the application in tomorrow. I'm pretty excited about it. I think it is a good way to get me to eat what I have in the house, and to spend less on food. Last week Jessica got honey in her share. Yum. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bathroom Diaries: continued

Jeff called this morning to ask if the tiles were maybe actually wall tiles? and not floor tiles. The lady that sold them to me told me she called the factory and that said that the tiles could be used for the floor in residences. Let's hope she was right and telling the truth 'cause Jeff's gonna put them down.
He came back today to put a second layer of whatever on over the floor heaters. Apparently they need to be super level. I told him to block off the door so Jacques wouldn't disturb his handywork, but Jeff said that the footprints added something to it. So Jacques obliged with lots of little prints this time - inspecting I'm guessing.
Apparently Lee was here too because there are all kinds of new wires sticking out of the wall.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bathroom Diaries Day: Who knows anymore?

I have crocuses in my yard.
They haven't quite opened yet, and these little purple ones were a surprise. They are under the pine tree (good to know) and I planted a bunch next to the back porch steps. In fact, I planted a whole ton of bulbs. The tulips are showing themselves now, but I don't think I will have very many daffodils. I'm sure the squirrels got most of those. I also bought four raspberry vines. They've already started growing so I should put them in the ground this weekend. I also got some peonies, let's hope they grow well in pots - because you know I've got to hide those from the street. Otherwise the entire neighborhood will be trooping through my yard helping themselves to the pretty flowers.
When Jeff came on Friday he asked me how I wanted the tiles layed out. I said, "Diagonal." His shoulders slumped, "Really?" Yes. Then he came to his senses, "Of course you do. Couldn't just be easy and straight forward. Do you know how much extra cutting that is?" Well, no but that's how I want it. :) So he told me to lay them out how I want them - so I did, diagonal. Poor guy. But it looks so much better that way.
And by the way this is just terrible color of my tiles. sigh. Someday I'll get a really good shot of them. They are quite something.
Jeff came today and put in the heating units? I think? (Lee furnished me with floor heating thingies.) There is some sort of compound over the whole floor now and it was still drying when I came home.
Jacques, of course, had already done his inspection.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Summing Up

I can't believe I could not get my act together this weekend to blog. I must have been really lazy.
I was going to blog on Friday - fer sure! - because I was getting my new fridge! A super cool Kenmore bottom freezer. Yippee - but before that happened I got an unexpected phone call from - Jeff!!! He's coming on Monday to start finishing up the bathroom! Whoop-dee-doo-ski-doo! I'm pretty excited about that. Then Sears showed up. I swear I measured everything - all the doorways. It woulda fit too if it hadn't been for the darn banister. Even when I pulled on it, it only gave me 27 inches. The fridge with the doors off is 28. Daddblast it all. My spiffy fridge never even made it off the truck. :(
That put a damper on that day. I had ten thousand errands to run, including getting the car washed, and had to take it back to the mechanic because it turned out they broke the latch to the hood when they fixed my timing belt last week. Now I can't open the hood. They are ordering the part and then I get to take my car back. Great - because I need more to do in my life. I finally made it to Sears, and I don't know - but the guy just didn't really want to sell me a fridge. I don't want to get into it - it was just really irritating. I'm going to have to go back to Home Depot and see what they can do for me.
Saturday - I drove to New Jersey for my taxes. That was loads of fun. I still have to get a few things together for that. Back home to finish prepping for a workshop I taught a Moore for the Alumnae - for their fun weekend. It was a great workshop, loads of fun and went really well. Japanese binding. I'll try to post an image tomorrow. And then I went to the ballet with Adrienne, saw Cinderella. Oh it's so much fun to watch those old traditional ballets. Only one tutu though, I prefer those to the nightgowns that are more popular now.
This morning I got up bright and early:
Trader Joe's
Baker St (best bread in Philadelphia - Chestnut Hill)
I decided to treat myself to watching a whole movie in one sitting. I watched the Visitor from netflix. It's good - sad and wonderful at the same time. Directed by the guy who did The Station Agent. I started knitting a sleeve for my silver sweater while I watched.
Cleaned, did more receipts
Went to studio to work of the commission from UPenn. This is a project that's been four years in the making. I started on the technical stuff. There is one image that will not link up properly. I got it to work once with no pixelation - but now, havin' trouble. So I gave up.
Cooked, nothing special
cleaned some more - especially the mess Lee and Rob left me
layed out the tile for Jeff, how I want it. Diagonal. He's not going to be happy about that.
did more paper work
paid bills
now I think - bed.
Good night.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Rob and Lee were here again today to try to get a handle of all of my electrical madness. And because they are good sports and Lee has actually read my blog and knows all about it - they posed for the camera.
They left my house looking like Swiss cheese though:
Two more new holes in the ceiling of my bedroom that I've got to fix sooner rather than later. I don't want anymore squirrels in here. The results of the holes are good though. I have another circuit on the third floor, an outlet in the bathroom (which didn't have one before) and enough wire and stuff to get better lighting in there. I've just got to get to Home Depot and get some wall sconces, Lee will put 'em in and voila - bathroom finished. Then I paint in there. :)
But Lee did leave me something very curious - where did these bricks come from? Did he take them out of my walls???
I'm going to have to ask when I talk to him later this week.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Much ado about nothing

I feel so half-assed about these posts lately - like I'm trying desperately to post something for your enjoyment, anything! I got the guilt trip from my dad last time we talked, "It's such a disappointment when there's nothing new on the blog." :) I'm sorry I've been slacking lately. The truth is I've kind of run out of steam. Getting the second floor the way I wanted it was a big priority. And I worked my tush off to get it there and I'm so relieved to be done with that I'm trying to rally to either finish up the few little projects, or start on the big one. The BIG one is to get the house insulated and rented - which is really boring! But I suppose there are other things of interest.
Leah helped me move my kitchen table from storage into the second floor last weekend. It squeaked in after we took the doors off of the hinges. We. are. good.
After living with it for a week, I decided it needed to be sanded and polyurethaned. Ken made this table for my mom, so many years ago now. I think it must be at least 20? How is that possible? But it must be - we got the table when I was in high school. Well, it is time for a sprucing-up, so after consulting Toni and Ken, I sanded most of the bad scratches and the pink marker stains off, and gave it a fresh coat. This evening I gave it the second coat - and we'll see if it needs a third in the morning. I'm kind of hoping not, because I don't really want it super shiny, just shiny.
In another on-going project, I've finally finished with the first half of the sweater I'm knitting. I started on the beginning of the sleeve this morning. It's going so much faster than the body, I can't believe it. I was so hoping to be able to wear it this year, but I'm having my doubts. The sleeves will only be fast until it's time to attach them to the rest of the sweater - then it's back to 20 minutes for one row.
Just FYI - the orange cake was a hit - so I'll be making that again. The recipe is from the Feb 2009 Gourmet magazine - it should be on fairly soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Teaser

It was a balmy 70° in Philadelphia today. It was so warm, I opened all the windows to warm up the house. Ha ha! The sun shone only through noon unfortunately, and then it became very overcast. But at least it didn't rain and it stayed warm until the evening. I was so desperate to do some kind of laundry - to hang things up outside - I grabbed all of the kitchen towels. Nothing is better than outside-air-dried things.
This morning I worked on preparing for the workshop I'm giving next Saturday at Moore for the Alumna. This afternoon I baked. This is an Orange Polenta Cake from Gourmet magazine. I guess that means the recipe should be on Nope. I just looked. I'm too lazy to get up and get the recipe - but I'll post it if any one's interested. It's basically a caramel base with orange slices on top, then an almond/polenta/orange flower water batter on top. Tomorrow it gets a glaze. The recipe says to use orange marmalade but when I (ahem) sampled the bottom with some this afternoon - it was too sweet. So I think I will use some of my lime marmalade. Should lend the right tartness to it. The BADass (Book Arts Discussion) Group is meeting tomorrow and I asked if they would mind being guinea pigs for this recipe. If it's a hit, this will be the basis for my edible book for the Edible Book party coming up at the end of the month.
I did some more colorful cooking yesterday. I made Rotkohl (Red Cabbage) following a couple of different recipes and from what I remember of how my mom used to make it. It turned out darn good. :) Plus its extra pretty when you put it in the lime green pot Jessica gave me a few years ago. This is what I'm thinking for the color combo in my bathroom. . . don'tcha think it could work?
Red Cabbage: (must be made one day before)
1 red cabbage cut in half, sliced crosswise very fine.
1 large onion, chopped
olive oil
1 tart apple, cored, cut in quarters
3 whole cloves
3 whole allspice
1/2c red wine vinegar
1/2c water
1 T brown sugar
In a large pot put one or two table spoons olive oil, heat and add the chopped onion. Cook until soft. Add the red cabbage and lightly saute ( i was thinking of how I make collard greens - but the red cabbage doesn't really wilt the same way. . . so . . .sorry no advice there). With heat on medium, add the apple, spices, vinegar and water and stir a bit more. Cover. When the cloves become aromatic sprinkle sugar on top. Allow to simmer on low for an hour, stirring every once in a while. Turn heat off, keep covered and let sit over night. My mother always left the pot on the stove and nobody died, so that's what I did. I also don't ever remember eating the apple. That was discarded - and for heaven's sake - watch that you don't chomp into a clove or allspice - that will definitely put a damper on the experience. This is also called sweet and sour cabbage. It's not every one's taste, as kids we hated it, but, wow, today it tasted so good. :)
I also finally managed to get some larger window sills installed. Now I have some place to put plants in the kitchen.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March comes in like a Lion

Woke up Sunday morning to a light dusting of snow. It was such a nice surprise and so beautiful. That pure white layer over everything is just gorgeous. I knew it wouldn't last, so I just enjoyed it for the morning. It made my new 2nd floor so much cozier.
I worked my tush off trying to get everything organized. I had a list a mile long and only managed to get a few things crossed off. Went to bed wishing I had one more day for my weekend.
Wish granted.
Woke this morning to find about 5 inches of snow on everything and the radio blasting: Philadelphia Schools are closed! Yipee! Snow day for me! Lovely - lovely - a reprieve - another chance to get more done.
I spent most of Sunday trying to move all of my junk back into the living space. It is so beautiful in here now. Cozy rugs on everything, fantastic floors, space to move and mostly everything back where it belongs. It makes me smile just to walk through the door. I have decided to put the molding on hold for the time being and tackle some of the other things needing tackling.
Paper work for one thing:
I started weeding out my files last night, and mostly finished up this morning. In the process I finally demolished the shredder my dad gave my sister an me a few years ago. We scoffed at it at first - and then I got a ticket for my trash in Philadelphia. Hmph. So I brought it back with me and abused it for about 3 years straight putting everything through it. Time for a new one. Unfortunately I still had about 4 inches of stuff that needed to be shredded.
I took some time today, went outside and put it all in the bar-b-que.
Jacques came out to watch the proceedings - I think mainly because I was outside. He came out this morning when I was shoveling the sidewalk and was happy to come in once I was done. About half way through the day he made it clear he wanted to go out again. But once he was out on the stoop - he wasn't so thrilled. He had to think about it though, so I finally shut the door on him. He turned immediately with those shocked eyes pleading me to let him back in. I opened the door and he came running. Snow really isn't his cup of tea.
So what did Joe say?
Joe Revlock came on Friday to finish the environmental audit of my house. (He's associated with a website I haven't looked at yet, but will and then will probably post it on the blog.) And while I'm thrilled he came, it left me a bit depressed. :( There is so much to do. He was here for almost 7 hours straight and the man is full of information. So what it boils down to is:
My house is very very leaky. Cold air is coming in everywhere and therefor warm air is escaping everywhere; visualize Swiss cheese. What I have before me in terms of work is a giant cascading domino pattern. The third floor needs to be insulated and the basement needs to be insulated and foamed. The third floor cannot be insulated until I get the squirrels out, and the entire roof tightened up. The basement can't be foamed until Lee (the electrician) has come and put electricity everywhere I want it, because the foam needs to go between the where the floor and the walls meet. Electric wires should be in place before any foaming takes place.
*And you know? this foam stuff? - this can't be good for you. I know, I know, it needs to be done, but it's some synthetic stuff that magically expands??? I'm putting good money down, that this stuff is going to be lethal in 50 years. (sigh) But what am I supposed to do?
After the roof is tightened, I can blow insulation into the crawl space of the roof (12") and in the walls of the third floor. I'm pretty sure I can do this myself. You can buy the blow-in insulation at Home Depot and if you buy enough of this stuff they'll throw in the blower rental for free. Once the third floor insulation is done, I can patch the holes, paint and at the very end of the tunnel? . . . I can finally rent it out!!! This would be very good because at the end of the day when Joe was leaving, what showed up in the mail? My heating bill for February. ugh. Yeah, it was for $732. and change. I saved a whoppin' $50. - big deal. That doesn't even cover the insulation in the basement. :(
So in my baby-step fashion, I talked to Mr. El this morning and told him I needed the roof done this month. He's been saying since October he'd do it for me. So - if he doesn't, I need to find someone else. I have mixed feelings about all this. I'd like to work with him since he's my neighbor. But I'm not exactly impressed with the work he's done so far. He is working on his house at the moment, and inside it looks great - but things don't actually get 100% done. On the other hand, I really don't want to piss off my neighbor. sigh - Talk about the rock and hard place.
I also talked to Lee today. He stopped by at the end of the day and took a look at what still needed to be done. I really wanted to put all of the last of the electric stuff off a year, but you know, the insulating and lower heat payments need to happen now - so that takes care of that plan. Lee said he would be in this week to start on the last of it, but that I also need to map out the circuitry of my house. Ugh - one more thing I have to do that's not so much fun.
But back to Joe . . . he has so many great suggestions. He's been living with sustainable energy for years. Apparently he used to have a radio show on the local NPR radio station all about how to be energy efficient in one's home. I'm telling you, they need to hire him back. Especially in this political climate. That show would get major ratings. This is a guy who speaks in full paragraphs. Not in an annoying way either, but just that full of information. One of the major problems I'm having with my forced air heater, is that the humidity in the house is really really low. (I know - I can't catch a break - low humidity in winter - way to high in summer). But really, my hands were suffering in January. They were paper thin dry and very painful. I could lather them in Nivea cream and the cream would soak in in a matter of minutes as though it had never been there. Joe's solution?: Keep well watered plants in rooms, or set up a rock garden in a cookie sheet or something and keep water in it. This will evaporate in the heat - and doesn't cost energy like a humidifier. (and it's quiet too). Don't want to put plastic in the windows? Get high density insulation, cut slightly smaller than the size of the window. Wrap an inch thick of the soft squishy upholstery about the outside edge, cover the entire thing with nice fabric. When you are not in the room, just pop the insulation in the window. When in the room, or when sunlight is coming through to warm the room, take the thing out of the window. Easy to store in the summer. And his advice went on and on. He has also already researched tankless water heaters. Yeah - that's the next big upgrade in this house. My grandmother used to have a boiler in the bathroom that would instantly heat the water. Not only did it save energy because it only heated water from the boiler to the tub (a mere two feet) but you could have an entire tub full of hot water. Ah - such luxury!
Well, I think that's further down on the list. At least now it's above getting Thermopane windows. I have these visions of going to Germany to visit my Great Aunt and while I'm there, ordering some of these fabulous windows. . .

In the mean time - I have my beautiful kitchen. Someone told me that blue is the color of creativity. I think they are right - either that or I'm just so thrilled by how beautiful my kitchen is that I love to cook in it now. Here's what I made last night: (adapted from an recipe)
1 onion chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 chicken breast cubed
1 t. cumin
1 t. thyme
1 T olive oil
2 yams cubed
1/2c. dried cherries
3 whole cloves
1/2 t. cardamom (but I think 3 whole cardamom pods would have been better)
1 can tomato sauce.
salt and pepper to taste
Mix cumin and thyme in a bowl. Add chicken and coat with herbs. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add chicken, just browning the outsides. Add yams, cherries, spices, and tomato. Turn heat to low and simmer 30 min. I served over rice, but think it would be good with more veggies and no rice. Super super yummy.

In other news:
My support of the economy has finally paid off. I have enough bonus miles to make it to Australia. I've been invited to have a show there at a gallery near Melbourne. :) Yippee! Stay tuned for more on that!

I made a ton of phone calls today to various utilities companies - and one especially to the gas company. Turns out - they have a plan to help budget for those enormous winter bills. They average your bill out for four months, and then you pay less per month. So instead of paying that $732.- bill this month, I only owe $318. :) That's much less painful on my bank account.

These are my new coat hangers. I bought them at Cost Plus (World Market) when I was in Calif. for Christmas. Now I just need to figure out where to put them . . . and this post is mostly just for Toni.