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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What if.....

What if you had to cut down every tree you need to build your house...
Would you build a 3000 SQ FT house plus a bonus and great room?

What if you had to carry all the water you needed in buckets...
Would you take a 30 minute shower?

What if you had to grow all your own food, every single morsel....
Would you throw any of it out?

What if you had to dig for every single drop of oil then refine it....
Would you drive 100 feet to the store 10 times a day?

What if you had to sew everything you wore....
Would you still need all the clothes you have?

What if an animal had to give up it's life...
And what if you had to kill that animal....

Would you still need 20 pairs of shoes and handbags to match?
Would you only eat the choice cuts of meat?

What if we all consumed as if we had to procure and manufacture everything we need ourselves?
Would you consume, use and throw out less?

I don't want to go back in time. I believe in progress but....not at the expense of my fellow humans, future humans and the planet.

Every time you get in your car or buy something or throw something out think about it. Can you do without it? Can you recycle it? Can you make it yourself?
*This was a post by Margaret at the blog Thistle Garden. It rang so true for me, I wanted to have these words on my blog to remind me each time I consume something to think about the sacrifices made on my behalf and the footprint I will be leaving behind.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Fire

 Fire, constructively destructive
Fire, destructively constructive

Fire has always had the power to hold me enthralled. Whether it's a raging out- of- control inferno or the flickering of soft candlelight, I could watch it for hours. Fire serves so many purposes: keeping us warm, safe against the night, lighting our way in the dark, creating atmosphere or serving as a reminder of spirit in troubled times. Living on the water pretty much makes it mandatory to use fire as a heat source. There are other methods but electricity can be sketchy in rough weather, propane has its own issues ( condensation, cost, dangerous explosive gases, running out in the middle of the night etc.), so having a woodstove is your hedge against the cold and damp. Today I wanted to share with you some unique fireplaces that amuse or inspire me and some knowledge about fire. ( I used to be a chimney sweep, so do have some expertise in the matter)

How to Start a Fire with Ice

Things You'll Need:

•Large piece of ice


•Tinder ( small pieces of very flammable material)

Step 1
Cut a small block of ice, and use the knife to trim the ice into a circular shape. You can also use a rough stone or a piece of cement to grind the edge of the ice. The glass should be in a lens shape, with the middle of the glass thicker than the edges.

Step 2
Use the warmth of your hands or a damp cloth to finish shaping the ice, and to melt and smooth the surface.

Step 3
Make a small pile of dry tinder where you want your fire to be located.

Step 4
Hold the ice in a perpendicular direction to the sun, and adjust it to direct a bright ray of light directly onto the tinder, but be careful not to let water drip on the tinder. The tinder will eventually begin to smoke, and then ignite. Add more tinder, if necessary, followed by small kindling.

Now that you have your fire started, lets look at some cool places to put it!

This one is just so decadently lucious, must be Cinderellas bedroom!

I like how this one evokes a sense of sitting around a bonfire

Floating fire
I like these ones, I might try to make something similar using a propane firepit
How about fire as wall art?

or a scary monster?

How to recycle that old car of yours!!
Safe fire contained in a tube
Not for me this one, kinda creeps me out but definately original if you like that industrial look

I'm liking these ones with the super clean look, just the flame on display
Serious wow factor here, fire spinning like a tornado in columns flanking the bar.
This one is so peaceful to look at
I had an idea like this that I wanted to do for my patio, a table to sit around with a firepit in the center
Nice style element
Rubbing two sticks together?? What would our ancestors think of this?
Making use of the dead space under the stairs
Liking this idea alot, good chance I will incorporate this into my main bath

I have a firepit quite similar to this one for the patio

But thinks I would rather have this one!!! I think I'd find a way to live outside if this was my patio!

How to prevent creasote buildup in your chimney

Creasote is your worst enemy if you use a chimney. As smoke travels upwards and hits a cold chimney it condenses onto the walls of the chimney and looks like black paint. It most commonly occurs when people start fires and damp them down almost immediately without heating the chimney. Over time the creasote builds up a thick layer that is extremely combustable. One day you will burn a bunch of paper or do like I did and leave the door ajar and go answer the phone and the extra heat from a hot fire will cause the creasote to catch on fire. You never want that to happen. It sounds like a jet engine taking off in your house, it burns so hot it can separate the bricks from the morter and send flames into the walls and roof of  your house. Once it starts to burn, it swells up thousands of times it size until the chimney becomes blocked with it and smoke pours into your house. These fires are very hard to put out and structural damage to your home is bound to happen if not completely being burned to the ground. So if you use a chimney, get it cleaned at least once every year(whether you used it or not, animals have a tendency to nest in them). If you use it daily as your main heat source, get it cleaned at least twice a year. Here are some tips on how to prevent creasote buildup.

Step 1
Hire a chimney cleaner to come out every year and give your chimney a good cleaning. For a few hundred dollars you save the life of your chimney and keep a good air flow through the chimney. You would be surprised at how much buildup there can be within just a year, and any creosote given off by green or wet wood will stick right to it. He will also tell you if your chimney flue is the right size for the wood stove.
Step 2
Light a fast hot fire every morning to warm up your chimney so that any moisture in the smoke does not condense on the surfaces of the chimney flue. Use plenty of paper and dry kindling so that the fire warms the chimney quickly to over 220 degrees so that any water will stay a gas in the form of steam until it gets out of the chimney.
Step 3
Burn dry wood. Even if wood has been cut for some time, it won't completely dry until it has been split, and then it takes about three months to dry. The kind of wood is not so critical as the water content of the wood. Many people claim pine is bad to burn but that is only because the sap has a high water content. Once the water is removed, it will burn hot and fast without a problem of creosote buildup.
Step 4
Keep your ash level under control. A nice bed of ash is good to insulate the coals, but too much will hinder the air flow for the firebox in your wood stove. Air flow is critical for providing oxygen for the burning process. An efficient fire should have very little smoke emanating from the chimney, so keep the ashes 2-to-3 inches deep.
Step 5
Keep your chimney flue open wide while you are burning in your wood stove. Remember, the point is to keep the chimney hot while the fire is burning. Control the air flow with the controls in the front of the fire to slow down the rate of burning. If you see yellowish tinged smoke coming out of your chimney, you know the fire is not hot enough, and a lot of nasty emissions are being dumped into the air.

Here is my post called the Woodburners Guide for information on what kind of wood burns best.
You grab the hotdogs, I'll grab the marshmallows and I'll meet you at the firepit!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to build a House for Free

Lucky 7

Three years ago, I came into the possesion of a wonderful old boat called the Lucky 7. Everything important to do with her seem to happen on the 14th.(7x2=14) I lived on that boat for over a year and loved the experience. Unfortunately, there was too much rot in the wood for me to repair her back to her former glory and in the end she was demolished for scrap. I was heartbroken as she was my first home of my own and I had finally been able to experience my dream of living on the water.

As much as I loved that boat ( and she was seriously cute), I had always lamented the lack of space. I am fairly good at living in small spaces but was really missing having appliances like a washer/dryer, a full size fridge and a room for all my tools and craft supplies. Ideally I would have preferred to live in a floathome and had the boat for excursions and holidays.

Well today (being the 14th day of the 7th month) my dreams are about to become a reality! I have been sitting on this news since June 21st, as I didn't want to jinx anything and I am about to explode with excitement. I am finally getting my dream home..... a beautiful huge floating building that has enough room for all of my needs.

 It has been a month frought with anxiety and stress as I tried to pull things together to make this happen. The house ( well really its a huge workshop that I will be converting into a house) is 60 km away in a town called Mission. I have to arrange for a tugboat to bring her down to Vancouver where she will be moored for the time being. This is not the ideal time of year to be doing this as the freshet is running strong right now( freshet is the runoff from melting snow in the mountains, this increases the flow of the river dramatically and makes things much harder to control).

 Of course the tides have not been cooperating at all lately. The marina I will be moored at, needs to do alot of rearranging of docks and vessels to make room for me and high tide is needed to accomplish this. Unfortunately all the high tides have been at 2 am or some such thing and during the daytime the tides are staying very low. This has slowed things down alot. The tugboat also needed some work done to the prop before going out and they couldn't get space to work on it until today. Once the prop has been repaired, they will be going back to the marina to move a few vessels around and then tonight or tomorrow morning, they will be going up river to pick up the" Arc" as it is affectionatly known. My stomach has been in knots for the last month and I can't wait until she is home and in her berth safe and sound.

Seven years ago, one of my teachers had us do an exercise where we were to draw a picture of anything we wanted that exemplified our hopes and dreams for the future. My drawing was of me and my cat on a houseboat with an attached float that carried a greenhouse. Now my dream is finally manifesting itself. I never lost sight of my goal, I hoped and prayed for it constantly. I wanted a place big enough to work out of, entertain in and be creative in. My ultimate goal is to make the place completely off the grid by producing my own power, having a water desalinator and installing composting toilets. I will eventually get a floating greenhouse together so I can produce some food for myself.

The most amazing thing is, I am creating a home for free in the most expensive city in Canada. How is that possible you ask? Well we live in such an affluent society, that people are throwing away/giving away everything and anything, including homes. Seriously, in the last year I have seen several homes for free on craigslist. You just need to pay for moving them. This was a free floating building that a friend had acquired. They weren't able to make the payments on their moorage, so I paid off their debt in exchange for the house. ( A HUGE thanks and hugs to my Dad and friend Daryl who lent me the money to do this)

 I had a vision of what I wanted in my dream home and while holding that vision, I have been scouring the free section on craigslist everyday for the last year searching for the things I wanted. I am lucky foresighted enough to own a cargo van, I rented a 40 foot container for a storage locker and have been filling it full with all my finds. I had found pretty much everything I needed to create a home except for the material for the actual structure itself. Now that I have that, I am good to go. I have all the appliances, fixtures, flooring,cupboards,windows, doors, etc, etc that I need to finish it to suit me and my needs.

The building is big enough, that I can build a separate suite to rent out, or make space to have a B&B. That income would be enough to pay my bills and give me a free roof over my head. I can't tell you what a relief this is for me. My biggest fear in life is being homeless. I have lived a reckless life full of fun and adventure but short on foresight. Maybe I thought I wouldn't live this long, or that I would be happily married to some guy who would provide me with shelter. I don't know, but here I am and still single to boot, so having my own home with nothing owing on it and capable of generating income to cover costs is precious beyond belief.

So Wyldestone Cottage will finally become a reality! I will have many years of stuff to blog about as I go about doing all my renovations and finally getting my life out of storage so I can show you all my treasures. If you don't hear much from me in the next few weeks, it's because I will be busy moving and starting some renos so I have the basics in place, like somewhere to cook, sleep and wash up. Stay tuned for Wyldestone Cottage in living colour!!!

(PS. I saved everything I could from the boat demolition so there will be many aspects of the Lucky 7 incorporated into the house)


So focus on your dreams, let the universe know exactly and specifically what you need/want, don't get too attached to what that looks like, and act like it is already your reality,because dreams CAN come true! I'm a dreamer and look what I manifested!

**UPDATE**  I write another blog that is more of a diary and have a post there showing the house move and pictures of the interior. The Cyberangel Chronicles presents: "Home Sweet Home"

I am linking to these wonderful parties, come check out what everyone is up to.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How to Make the Most of Your Fan and Beat the Heat

I realized the last post about firewood might not seem timely in this heatwave we have been having.( I only posted it for people like me that have long memories about the discomfort of winter and want to be prepared). I found this article today about the best way to use your fan to cool your house down. I learned some good tricks, so wanted to pass it on.

How to make the most of your fan and beat the heat

                                                          By Emily Hsieh, Shine staff

If you don’t have an air conditioner, or even if you do but are looking to cut back on your electricity bills, consider a good old fashioned fan for keeping yourself cool in the summer heat. They don’t cost much to buy or use, and are a more eco-friendly alternative to boot. Here’s how to make sure you’re using yours right.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually best to position your fan in a window, facing out. This helps air flow through the room—which keeps it cool in the process. Since hot air rises, you want to put the fan as high as possible (preferably in the top of the window). Close the window around the fan (it helps to invest in a rectangular window-specific fan for this reason) to avoid reverse air circulation (which is what happens when the air sucked through the fan goes back around the fan and is sucked back in). You can use paper or cardboard, or even drapes or slats of wood to cover any gaps between the windowsill and the device.

To maximize air flow, if you’ve got two windows that face each other in a room, place one fan facing out (pick the side of the room that’s warmer or sunnier, and position the fan as high up as possible), and the other fan facing inward (on the cooler or shadier side, and placed as low as you can). You can
also place the low fan on the ground in a doorway for a similar effect.

You’ll keep your home coolest if you run the fans during the coolest part of the day, as well as at night, and close the blinds during the sun’s peak hours.
A personal note:

A trick I used to use, was to place a bowl of ice in front of a fan so that it has some cooler air to push around. One of the things I miss about Germany, was their window shutters.

 Originally, they had been designed to block out every chink of light emanating from the house so that bombers flying over head couldn't get a visual target. Their other advantage was that they also kept the sunlight from coming in and over heating the house. You could raise the blinds slightly and the gaps between each horizontal slat was an inner slat with perforated holes which would allow for air flow while blocking the majority of the light. They were also a good safety feature as they made a solid barricade in each window which prevented break-ins and would provide alot of protection to the glass in the case of violent windstorms etc. I never understood why they didn't become popular everywhere? I know they aren't the most attractive to look at , but you could always put nice wood shutters on the outside of the house for architechtural detail.

Here is a link to a site that manufactures similar shutters in case your interested.

A Woodburner's Guide

There is nothing like wood heat to really warm your bones. I found this interesting little poem the other day and thought I would share it with you. I never knew much about the burning  properties of various types of wood and so had sporadic luck with getting a good fire going in my stove. I will keep this information in mind as I look for wood to stockpile for the next winter.


Beechwood fires are bright and clear

If the logs are kept a year.

Chestnut's only good, they say,

If for long it's laid away.

Birch and fir logs burn too fast,

Blaze up bright and do not last.

It is by the Irish said,

Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.

Elm wood burns like a churchyard mold,

E ' en the very flames are cold.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,

Fills your eyes and makes you choke.

Apple wood will scent your room

With an incense like perfume.

Oak and maple, if dry and old,

Keep away the winter cold.

But Ash wood wet or Ash wood dry,

A king shall warm his slippers by.

Note: birch bark is extremely flamable even when wet, it makes an excellent fire starter if you have lots laying around.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Inspiring Makeover

Some houses are so cute, it's not hard to see how your furniture will fit and how to decorate the space. Then there are those so ugly, you can't ever imagine living in them or making them homey. This woman knocked my socks off with her reno's. She took a house I would have walked right past without a second look( unless it was in horror, the way you can't stop looking at a car accident) and turned it into a place I would love to live in. Take a minute to go check out her before and after shots of the reno's, I promise you will be impressed and inspired.