Friday, December 19, 2008

A Few More "Decorations"... and a Nature Video

(Warning: some post contents may be offensive to vegetarians (except me), PETA, tool lovers, and those who have no sense of humor).

A few years ago, my in-laws decorated their house for Christmas.
The Christmas Ladder!

Doug Deer!
Complete with red shiny nose.

And the rarely seen act of nature never before caught on video... the mating of the mechanical deer:

These were not allowed into the front yard, sadly, but have made appearances at several Christmas Parties.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Look Back at Old Resolutions 2008

Last January, I posted my goals for the year. How have I done this year? There have been some sidetracks, some delayed projects, and some re-prioritizing. Discovering the brick under the siding was unexpected, and sucked up much of our remodeling money this year, putting other projects on the back burner. We've still accomplished quite a bit on our list, though!

1) Finish Bathroom- Not Yet!
Well... we've installed a light, hung the door, and scraped part of the wall (leading visitors to query us over our "interesting" wall covering). I'm not sure I like the light... but it's there for now!

2) Replace Front and Back Door- 1/2 Done
We've replaced the back door, and have stripped the new front door and bought a new storm. I really wanted to get it in before this winter, but it's too cold to paint outside now.

3) Finish Landscaping Backyard (and Plant) NO!
All we did in the back yard this summer was finish the firepit and build a hammock stand.

4) Finish Master Bedroom- Um... NO!
Didn't do a single thing except create a myriad of plans and dream of including a bathroom!

5) Finish Laundry Room- No
We did hang the kitchen cabinets... but that is all!

6) Wood Flooring No
We didn't lay the flooring we have... but I did discover tongue and groove flooring under our carpet.

7) Replace Trim No
We've looked at trim styles and talked about what we want... is that close?

8) Research and Plan Exterior Paint/Stucco/Re-Siding DONE!
We sure "resided" the house! No more asbestos siding for us... and it's DONE!

9) Dog Door No
Somehow this just didn't seem that important... and without a deck in the back yard, it didn't seem that possible yet.

10) Compost Piles Done!
Here's our compost piles!

As we face the next year, we will make a new list... some things left unaccomplished will remain, but new priorities have been made. And, of course, we will expect the unexpected!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BRRRR! (And Our Programmable Thermostat)

It is SO COLD here! BRRRRR! In honor of the cold, I'm reposting a very old post (that nobody probably saw before!). I've seen some discussion over whether lowering your heat really helps save money... these numbers prove it does (on a forced air heating system, at least).

One of the first things we did to our house was install a programmable thermostat. We chose this Honeywell 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat. $30 later...

This is what we set the thermostat to:
Year 1: 62º (No programmable thermostat)
Year 2: 62º During the Day, 54º at Night and While Gone

Table 1, Monthly Therm Usage

Year 1, Year 2
October: 47 Therms, 30 Therms
November: 24 Therms, 19 Therms
December: 96 Therms, 75 Therms
January: 113 Therms, 63 Therms
February: 69 Therms, 71 Therms
March: 72 Therms, 50 Therms

Average: 70.16, 51.33
Total: 421 Therms, 308 Therms

Table 2, Monthly Outside Temperature

Year 1, Year 2
October: 53º, 56º
November: 44º, 46º
December: 32º, 29º
January: 29º, 38º
February: 37º, 29º
March: 39º, 36º

Average: 39º, 39º

We saved 19 therms a month, simply by installing a programmable thermostat! Installing the thermostat took about 20 minutes of our lives. WELL worth it! We have definitely saved our $30 many times over. Now that we have made the house more efficient in other ways, I'm looking for even more savings this year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I've Been Making Gifts...

and I'm not telling! You don't get to see, because certain someones read my blog and I hate ruining Christmas surprises. I've been spending the last week hard at work on Christmas presents for family, friends, and co-workers... so there are no house updates. I'll post the present ideas in January... they would be good for birthdays and such, or for filing for next year.

I'd encourage everyone to make something for a present this year. Putting a bit of yourself in a present makes it that much more special, and you can be sure it's exactly what you want to give. It can be as simple as homemade candy or as complex as a hand knitted scarf. Perhaps framed pictures of a loved one's favorite things. Use your imagination!

For those that don't have the time to create something by hand, be sure to check out Etsy. If you order in the next few days, it will still get here by Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Door Swap

We realized last winter that our back door was a hollow core door masquerading as a back door. Not good for heat loss or efficiency! I took a trip to the Habitat ReStore and bought the cheapest solid door I could find as a replacement, as we intend on removing the doorway in the remodel (if it ever gets done).


It's not a bad little door... $30, and solid wood. Looks a lot better than the flat paneled hollow core door!

To match the hinges up, I stacked the doors on my "workbench" (picnic table). This allowed me to match the positioning exactly.
I reused the existing hinges, though they may not be beefy enough for this door (which is very heavy). The door is installed... and it does feel a little warmer in the laundry room now.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas is Coming...

and the decorations are up!

On Saturday, we bought a 5 foot Noble Fir, made steaming mugs of hot cocoa (and Kahlua), and set to decorating the tree with our box of ornaments:
We had just enough tree for the ornaments!

I created a wreath out of a few extra branches, a hunting horn, and some small glass balls:
The wreath looks especially nice on our brick house!

Our stockings...
... hung by the furnace with care.

Here's looking forward to a wonderful Christmas season, filled with love and care!