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.
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 epicurious.com 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.