Spring / Summer Projects

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Me too please Ric, please count me in on the mosaic. And WOW that bench turned out beautiful!!!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Ric- ((applause!))

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

WOW! I've been looking to buy a bench for the backyard but only all-metal ones. I knew wooden benches eventually need some sort of upkeep, but there's no way I could do what you do, Ric. :)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

That bench is beautiful, Ric--what a nice job!

Please count me in on the mosaic--sounds like fun!

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Great job on that bench Ric.

Count me in on the mosaic too.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh a definite yes on the mosaic!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I'll make 20-25 "stones", that should be enough. If anyone wants to design their own mosaic to bring along feel free to do so.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I am tempted to sign up too, Ric...

Would love to have that stepping stone by my Bird bath.

Do we bring our own decorating items? What? All I have is some of the flat marbles.
What are easy ways/things to decorate with? I will be stepping on mine a lot..

Is it overly messy? Like--we should bring work-clothes? Gloves?

Thanks, Gita

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I'll put together a thread on the stepping stones when I do the other threads for the swap. I'll put that up in the middle of the month so you will have 2 months of swap chat. LOL

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Holly...Happy 4th!
G.

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

Holly, when is the date again? I'm hoping we can try and come

I worked on my mosaic watering can project yesterday. It's coming along. I ended up using a grinder to round the edges on some random cut white and lavender glass to make flower "petals" that I adhered around circular glass beads. That made all the difference. Glass is easy to score and cut in straight lines, but curves need the help of a grinder, which I had from my stained glass days

this is before the petals were added

once all the pieces get adhered. i plan on grouting it with tinted grout - I'm thinking pink

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Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

forgot to mention how nice the bench came out to Ric

wow!! it looks like a brand new bench Ric

amazing job

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Wind, nice watering can project!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Wind Sept 13th really hope you can make it.
That watering can is going to look great. Such a cute idea.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I like the watering can Wind--very cute!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh I LOVE your watering can Wind!! Is it metal? I have a semi-old pink one that I'd probably use more often if it looked as good as yours. Could you teach me how you did that, please?

OK, we (DH and I) had a non-gardening project, 1/3 of which we completed yesterday: buying new recliner chairs for the living room. Yeah, I know, doesn't seem like much of a project, but when you consider his 6'8" height, and my 5'1" NON-height, it turns out to be more of a 'project' than it would at first glance. We finally had luck at La-Z-Boy; got one long/tall enough for his knees to NOT be up around his ears when he sits, and one small/short enough for my feet to actually touch the ground when I sit all the way back in it! :)

Gonna do a test here, to see if the pics that I saved will actually show up here.
BOY, am I relieved this is done; that couch is just not tolerable anymore!! 6-8 weeks and they'll be delivered, Whee!!

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Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Nice chairs, Speedie--what a great project!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Nice Speedie, I'd like new furniture to go with all the home improvement we are doing but I think that will wait till next year.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I hear you, Holly! Our couch in the basement needs either some major work or full replacement but I don't know when I'll get to it!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Yep, one thing at a time. We're replacing the heat/AC system this year; motor failed on the fan, so they replaced that and will give us credit for its cost when they put in the new system. Easier for everybody if they install it in September (you know they're busy now!), so Jim is working that out with a contract to make sure we get the same price they offered a couple weeks ago.

A very interesting thing we found out about is a relatively new system to seal up ductwork for improved efficiency. Our HVAC company has only been using it for a year or two; president and a couple of the guys we've met have had it done and noticed a difference in both $ and more even temps. Our ducts were pretty much slapped together -- and those are just the ones we can see -- so it's a good bet we lose a lot of HVAC into the walls etc. We have their guy coming out tomorrow to do some sort of assessment to be sure it's do-able here (I think they also generate leakage numbers), and then we'll get on their schedule. see http://www.aeroseal.com/what-we-do/aeroseal-process.php

The other interesting thing we have going on is with a solar power company called Vivent. They offer what we think is a great alternative to buying & maintaining your own solar panels... they install their solar panels on your house and maintain them, basically selling the electricity to you at a rate lower than the power company charges. If (as is likely) you use more power during the year than your panels generate, you buy the remainder at regular prices. It's win-win as far as I can tell. We'll save money, at least a couple cents per KW-hr and probably more if coal-fired electric prices rise. Vivent makes a good process selling the solar energy back to us, since production cost is relatively low. And the local power company satisfies mandates for "green" power sources as well as having energy dumped back into the grid during peak use situations -- the hot summer days when everybody is running their AC's are exactly the times when solar users are generating excess power.

It's a 20 year contract situation (a new owner could opt out or choose to continue), so we've looked at it pretty closely. One neighbor chose Vivent after researching a bunch of options over the last couple of years, and it looks like we may have 4 or more houses on the street putting in the system. The first panels went in this week down the street, and everything seemed to go just fine.

If anybody wants to know more, their website is here: http://www.vivintsolar.com/en/

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Holly, that aeorseal system/technology looks really cool, I think that is definitely something that DH and I will want to check into for our home, thank you for sharing this! After putting in new windows and front door last Winter, we've noticed a marked improvement in our electricity bills, but I bet this would make them better yet.

We're both really excited about the chairs, especially the fact that we each found something to fit us perfectly. Gonna look like "Pappa bear chair" and "Baby bear chair" though, HA! The cool part is that they're semi-custom, so we got matching fabric... to make 'em look a bit more like a matching pair... but I had to opt out of all the extras (like rocking/gliding, or memory foam on the seat) 'cause that makes the seat too tall and my feet wouldn't be able to reach the floor. =/ DH, on the other hand, got ALL the extras, giving him that much-appreciated added height. Win-win!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Speedie, That was Critter. LOL

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Critter--HVAC replacement's a big project, that's for sure! Good that you're researching everything so carefully to make the system more efficient. My HVAC motor failed last fall, but the Home Warranty I had replaced only the failed part, when really what we need is a new system. However, the new motor was free and it works, so guess I can't complain...

Speedie, I definitely hear you on the feet touching the floor thing! Sounds like we are about the same height--chairs never fit me, particularly the newer office chairs they have at work, which seem designed for someone around 5'6". My feet never touch the floor--very annoying. I basically use footstools constantly--so I would have gotten the memory foam, rock/glide, and all the other bells & whistles, *plus* a footstool, and been totally comfy reclining Roman-style! :-D

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

LAzboys are very nice chairs! We wore one out with three kids being nursed and rocked...now we have a La-zboy brand standard sofa.

Sure does seem like all the roofs have a huge potential for solar energy gains.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh my gosh, yes Holly... sorry Critter!! < =/ (apparently I'd not yet had enough coffee when I typed that, heehee)

Catmint, I hadn't really thought about adding a foot stool... but then again, knowing me, I'd trip over it constantly, HA!! That "feet-don't-touch-the-floor" thing is rather pesky, and bad for the lower back, too.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

My GM had her chair too. She was vertically challenged, had advanced arthritis, and I think a bit of scoliosis. Her chair looked like baby bear's. It was somewhat soft, for the time, rocked and swiveled.It would have been at home in the room of a child that reads. I remember all her furniture had custom fitted slip covers, she had made. The material she used was upholstery quality, so I never saw what some of the original material looked like. After redoing their house w/ an apartment she changed her formal dinning room to a den and she actually uncovered the LR furniture. But no one ever sat on it. LOL Her kitchen must have been 16x16', so I never remember using the dinning room either. It was there to store and display the china, crystal, and silver she had earned in over 50 years of marriage.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Ric, your grandmother's chair sounds a lot like the 2 chairs my GM had in her living room! I remember it was a bright flowery upholstery--and the rocking and swiveling was a super cool feature for back then. Your grandmother's kitchen and dining room sounds a lot like my grandmother's as well--LOL! :-)

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

YAY for Baby Bear Chairs!! =) My ex-in-laws have one of those living rooms that you don't sit in, just look at and go "Oh, nice!" as you walk by. I never did understand that... DON'T SIT IN THE CHAIR!!!! Huh?? Isn't that what chairs are for? ? =/

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Chairs are definitely for sitting in, but not every chair will accommodate every body. My folks have a couple of probably quite valuable cane-bottomed chairs with spindly little legs... because some folks were apparently raised in barns and don't get that if they weigh 280 pounds they should probably sit on the couch instead, she finally hit upon the idea of hanging them on the wall, meeting-house style. If we had a big crowd over, we'd pull them down and assign them to older kids or teens. Since they don't entertain much now, they're tucked under either end of a pretty little table.





Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Sorry, didn't mean to bring the discussion to a screeching halt; my apologies if I offended. I avoid spindly little chairs, myself, for obvious reasons... but we had a neighbor who, although 6'4 and probably approaching 300 pounds, would inevitably aim for one of the tiny cane-bottomed chairs. I think he probably meant to be kind, "saving" the comfy chairs for one of the older folks or ladies, but you'd think an engineer would have more sense, LOL.

Jim & I will have to go out chair or couch shopping again soon, as our last purchases aren't holding up well. We have exactly the same difficulties finding seats that suit us both... He's 6'2" and I'm 5'6", and all our height difference is torso -- our legs are exactly the same length! I think your "his & her" chairs are a good solution to that, Speedie!

If anybody else is looking at HVAC, they've definitely made gains in efficiency over just the last decade. We looked at geothermal and at the new "hybrid" (heat pump plus gas) systems, but decided the savings just didn't offset the cost for our situation. Even just "replacing what we have" would give us a system better than what we have now. Our new system will be some sort of "two stage" thing, a little more $ for a really big improvement in efficiency rating for both A/C and heat.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Ric and I are putting in a new heat/AC unit for the house. Our house is passive solar with electric baseboard heaters as a back up (very expensive to run). The coal/wood stove is really the main source of our heat. After moving 4 tons of coal last year while Ric was laid up. I said "Uncle" and we are putting in one of those ductless outside heat pump systems. Josh will install it sometime in August. Painting, floor, heating system and kitchen. Big changes going on here.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I didn't realize your place was passive solar, Holly. How cool that you're getting a ductless heat pump. Aren't they the newest thing on the block? I remember seeing a lot of ductless ACs while traveling in Asia.

Critter, did you decide to wait on the solar panels? I'm very interested -- we certainly get enough sun on our roof! But we're waiting for the technology to improve just a bit more.

Those of you who came over for the glad sort might remember how muddy and rocky that side pathway was. I had ajuga growing there until almost all of them died from phytophthora last year. Now the soil is pretty much dead and even crabgrass won't grow there. The temporary solution (pavers not set in sand or concrete) wasn't working out, so I finally decided to get a paver pathway put in.

I actually called 5 different places for an estimate, and the only company to actually *call me back* was Meadows Farms. I guess they're getting my business! Why is it so hard to give money away?!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

that's surprising ssg. Maybe they all have plenty of jobs booked 'for now' and don't care to look ahead.

Jill, I think that's it- the guy probably left padded seats for those who need them more, and thought. "Well, this is a chair, chairs are made for people to sit on, I'm a people, therefore I sit." At least, it would be my logic.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

The ductless systems are getting more popular lately but I have a friend that has had one for maybe 10 years now. All those sliding glass doors and the 4ft window panel in the living room make up 18ft of floor to ceiling glass that heats up an insulated concrete slab. (where all the plants sit). The longer roof overhang keeps the sun out in the summer. We will keep the stove for emergencies like when the power goes out.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Sounds like a good plan, Holly.

We're going ahead with the solar panels. Just waiting for paperwork & scheduling. It'll provide us with cheaper electricity. We've been watching the technology pretty closely, and I think solar cells are probably about as efficient as they'll get for a while.. the big push now is on making the panels cheaper to manufacture.

Does that mean that in 5 years we might be able to sign up for a less expensive rate by doing solar? Maybe, but I don't think their rate is actually being driven by their cost... rather, their contract offer is 2-3 cents lower than what the regular electric company currently charges. They're offering 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour here, and I think we're paying 10 cents now. In Montgomery Co., I think PE charges more like 15 cents per kw-hr, and Vivent's offer is 12 cents -- doesn't cost Vivent more there; they're just making more profit.

One reason to sign on for solar as an adjunct source of electricity sooner rather than later is that there's a limit (for now at least) on how many homes can have solar systems. Frederick County is nowhere near the % limit yet, but I seem to recall that Montgomery Co. is getting pretty close. Something to check on, anyway, if you've been considering it. Of course, if you're thinking of buying your own system, that's a different thing.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

It doesn't take 4 tons of coal to heat our house. LOL Holly moved 2 tons twice, once to the box and once to the stove. The cost of 2 tons of coal is about the cost of 1-2 months electric heat in the winter. Shortly after coming here, I about had a fit when I saw an electric bill. I bought the stove (then), and built the chimney for about 2 months electric bill. The electric co. came to check if everything was Okay, (we were not cheating). During the end of the Carter Admin. we installed a solar hot H2O system. There were 3 adults and 5 kids running around. The electric co. checked again to see if everything was Okay. They are very touchy about their profit base (us).
I've looked at a lot of different HVAC systems. The heat pump we are considering is one of the best around. I would have liked a system using a gas fired back-up but they aren't fully developed and can be very costly. I'd like to repurpose the solar H2O system to heating the GH.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

WOW, the Elec. Co. actually came to scope you out to make sure you weren't cheating!? That is the first time I have ever heard of that happening.

Sally, your line of reasoning made me giggle "Well, this is a chair, chairs are made for people to sit on, I'm a people, therefore I sit." Heeheeheee, "I'm a people". =)

Ssg, Ooooh, isn't that just the craziest thing, contractors NOT calling you back for business!?!? We have had that happen several times, and even during non-peak times, for stuff to get done... it's like "What, you DON'T want my money!? Really??" I'd made calls to EIGHT different contractors for new windows in the whole house and the new front door in mid-November (year before last, I think it was).. only TWO actually bothered to contact me back.

The new project at work ('cause I have no new projects at home), was this cute little idea that Bossman found online. Took a total of about 6 hours, including the digging, CR6, tamping, sand, more tamping, building, gluing etc...

1: Before - this is the "build site". (Bossman on the left, Mackey on the right)

2: During. Can you tell yet what it's gonna be? ;)

3: Final product, with a proud Bossman sitting on it. :)

4: Close-up of one of the little "bird's nest" planters, planted with Hen and Chicks.

This thing is gonna be so much fun to play with during all the seasons! Scarecrows on it, surrounded by hay bales and punkin's during Halloween; Snowmen and reindeer in the winter... planted up with Spring bulbs in.. well.. Spring. ;) It's gonna be FUN!! =)

Today's project: Try to get out of work a bit early so I can stop off at the grocery store to get a peanut butter ice cream cake, and prep for a nice steak dinner tonight for DH's birthday today! < =D


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Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Speedie, I just love it. How cute. You are so right about it being fun to decorate.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

That is adorable, Speedie! Yes, so much creative potential there!

Happy birthday to DH!! :-)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

NeatO. speedie

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