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Heeeeyyyyyy Hey Hey Hey Hey, Concrete Is Sealed

This weekend HandsomeHusband will again brave the elements and lonesome trail to the land to seal the concrete. Hopefully, we will be singing praise for his success when he returns from his journey!

As he so fascinatingly puts it:
"Great. Drive out, roll on sealer, go to shed, sort the VMI basketball floor boards for eight hours, put on second coat of sealer, then drive home by myself. Good times!"

But look on the bright side!
We'll be singing, Heeeeeyyyyyyyy Hey Hey Hey Hey, Concrete Is Sealed...

Earlier this week I spoke with Ron, our handsome contractor who is in Florida loving on his grandbabies, about the concrete sealant application, and here is what he said:
"I went to Lowe's- there is a product by Qwikrete I bought. It says it serves 800ish sf but buy two and expect to take one back, it went further than I expected. Don’t get a plastic paint pan- check because I don’t think you can put it in a plastic pan, so you might need to get metal.

The paint roller- I liked the ½ inch nub – don’t get the regular paint-your-walls thickness. If you use that with a broom handle it works well for covering the floor.

When it rolls on, know that it’s milky but will dry clear. Also don’t roll it on too thick- I would say it’s better to do two thin coats than one thick coat because if it’s too thick it will start to pull up as you roller it.

It says to stay off of it for 8 hours to dry so you will want to think about what y’all will be doing with the children and dogs that day…"
Instead of Qwickrete we decided to use Eco Tuff:
"Eco-Tuff tm Industrial Floor Coating is the world's leading environmentally compliant safety coating that outperforms all other floor coating products. The advanced formulation of cross-linking modified acrylics, urethanes, and co-polymers delivers a Green Building compliant safety coating with superior durability, flexibility and safety. Available in 17 standard colors.

Eco-Tuff is a single component, zero VOC, ultra tough waterproof coating material. There are no hazardous ingredients, is non-flammable and virtually odorless. It is engineered for the most extreme environments from freezing cold temperatures to the hottest climates around the world. It is capable of withstanding abrasion, UV, chemicals, hot tire pick-up, and submersible applications."
I also had a discussion on SIPs and concrete with the SIPs manufacturer, and he had some good advice for determining when the concrete was cured enough / dry enough to seal. Here are his words:
"When you have a poured concrete slab foundation, moisture is coming out for the first 30 days (at least- especially when you poured when you did and now have the saturated ground emanating moisture).

I recommend taking about a 1 sf piece of plastic and let it sit on the concrete for about two days. If, when you lift up that plastic, you are still getting a lot of moisture, then you should let the concrete dry out a little more before sealing."
Great advice! Hope that helps someone out there!

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House Kit Update: MUD

I would like to present a Medal of Valor to HandsomeHusband, who, when the family came down with fever and colds all weekend, braved the elements and viruses and went to the land to clean the mud off of the house kit's concrete floor.

If any of you are thinking "Oh it's no big deal, we'll just clean it all later..." when constructing our house kit with an unsealed concrete floor, I have one word for you: Don't. Clean it asap, seal it, and then you won't have to spend EIGHT hours alone scraping and wiping and mopping mud off of your floor.
Just ask HandsomeHusband.

And remember: This zero energy house is off grid, and the systems aren't hooked up yet, so HandsomeHusband had no running water, much less faucets, to tap into. He just had the water he had brought, and the creek.

So let's all take a moment to commend him, and... feel his pain. : )

(P.s. For those of you with sharp, sharp eyes: That's also why I haven't washed the mud that is on one of the south top cladding panels off yet- I will get to it in the next week or so...)

We were also excited this week to be featured on PrefabCosm - a directory of prefab homes.

Oh, when HandsomeHusband mentions potato chips, it is because some crumbs fell from the table last week and we were amazed that the fat from the potato chips was sucked into the concrete, making a stain that was obviously difficult to remove.

So make sure to seal your house kit concrete quickly! : ) Lesson learned.

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Green Building Is Dead

I just read a post by Paul Eldrencamp entitled, "Green Building Is Dead."

When I first skimmed it, I indignantly thought, "Well maybe he should try making buildings that work." Then I read it again, and again... and stewed on his credentials... and I have to say I agree, and am very much looking forward to reading his posts on this subject.

As a longterm fan of, and volunteer for, historic preservation groups and history nonprofits, I value historic preservation and how it can benefit a locale's charm and become a resource, promoting character vs. another bland "could be anywhere" cityscape for the community.

I am also a fan of what has been recently termed "Refab." Lloyd Alter's take on Refab Philosophy is practical and right on the (frugal waste-ye-not) money. (You may have noticed that I'm BIG on practical livin'...) ; )

I sell buildings.
I sell buildings that are passive solar design, that are supposed to function, to work.
How do I reconcile this with my preservation / non-waste philosophy?

Maybe we should look at crop tree release.

If we approach construction as we do crop tree release, we might be able to help our industry flourish by removing the ineffective, non-functional "weed" buildings, while preserving the ones that are of value. In crop tree release,
"...woodland owners have many different reasons for owning and managing their woodlands. Some desire woodlands that provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Others want a woodland that supports particular types of recreation such as hiking, hunting, and bird watching. Still others want to harvest timber and non-timber products from their woods for home and farm use or to provide periodic income. Most aspire to maintain or improve the health, vigor, and attractiveness of their forest. For many private woodland owners, the ability of their woodlands to provide these and many other values can be enhanced through crop tree management. " (from
Now I'm no timber-er. But using crop tree release I will better the woods and land, benefiting the wildlife and strenthening the ecosystem.

Maybe we should look at construction business models:
  • Does your business sell to people who come to you with an existing need, where you provide a product that will work for generations or
  • Do you develop blocks of buildings people might not need or want that do not take smart-growth or passive solar design into consideration?
  • Are you building to just sell or fufilling a specific asked-for need?
  • Does your business mass grade soil on land parcels?
  • What does your business do to reduce waste?
  • Do your architects design for the product (i.e. the width of a SIPs panel) utilized vs. cutting, creating waste?
  • Do you encourage reuse and recycled materials when possible?
These are my first thoughts, and I look forward to musing over Mr. Eldrencamp's writing more. What do YOU think?

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Passive Solar House Kit - In it, we camped!

Still no interior walls (Ron is off building his pastor's house who needs to move in by Easter), but that did not deter us from camping in the house kit.

After four years of camping in the tiny-but-fantastic 1960s aluminum Scotty camper, I have to admit it was nice to lug a bunch o' the camping equipment from the Scotty to reuse in the open, spacious off grid modern house. As I pulled the practical, necessary camping equipment we had relied on for years from our beloved camper, I looked at it anew and realized that a lot of camping equipment is not eco-friendly! When we bought the necessary equipment years ago, it was because the folding chairs, storage tubs, cutting boards, machete knife cases, blaze orange hunting hats/gear were IMPERATIVE to have in an isolated place when camping through all seasons.

Now, in the comfort of the house kit, I'm looking at all this and thinking, "Man. If someone made environmentally friendly affordable camping gear they would make a FORTUNE!"

(Hmmmm. HMMMMM...
Nah, I already have too many jobs. But YOU do it!)

I was gone all Saturday at a social media conference nearby, so when I returned the mattresses had been blown up, the sheets and blankets were on, the "solar soldiers" (as we call the solar exterior lights) charged from a day in the sun, and two happy pipsqueaks were jumping and playing in their new passive solar living space.

Just seeing the queen-sized air mattresses in the still-not-framed-in bedrooms gave me a better idea of the room dimensions. Setting out the beds, the card table, chairs along the east side, really gives us a sense of the future finished space. It's perfect. It's open, filled with natural light, yet warm, cozy, interactive without being cramped. I can't wait to see it more furnished. It's getting very hard not to jump ahead and move in.

It had snowed over ten inches earlier this week...
The ground was wet and there was mud.
Oh, was there MUD.
A LOTTA mud.

I swept muddy dog tracks, children tracks, my tracks, his tracks.
(This is starting to read like a Dr. Seuss book, no? Say it ten times quickly.)
Aaaaaand was grateful we had chosen the smooth take-it-all concrete instead of frou-frou bamboo.
(I would have spent the rest of my life trying to protect that floor. It would have been awful. I would have been miserable.)

Yet, just days after a major snowfall, it was so warm this weekend we opened wide the doors wide and WOW could you feel the cross breeze- I can not wait to spend time here in spring! The dogs naturally gravitate to the passive solar sunbeams in the concrete thermal mass- and love surveying their kingdom from the open doorways while listing against the frame, half awake, in the sun.

I went for a nice long (muddy) walk with the 4 year old, watching while she measured creeks with her stick, surveyed the breached pond, and climbed hills with the dogs. A lot of trees had been downed from the heavy snow, so we had to cut some. Don't worry, the ones that fell were scrappy young ones that weren't part of the crop tree release strategy we have. We will never timber; but are trying to help prune and encourage healthy growth of the woods through selection so they can grow strong vs. competing for resources with weed trees.

It was good to hear the frogs.
They, and the bees, have had a rough few years. So to hear them peeping so exhuberantly in March was glorious. (Listen to video, below...)
I remember a few years ago on my family farm noticing that the pond was quiet, the 35' deep pond where I grew up fishing and canoeing and swimming and... listening to peepers. It was so strange to hear the blowing of the wind, the water, and, on that day, no frogs.

Frogs are loud. My entire life had, until then, been filled with the cacophony of peepers and bullfrogs. So to hear the frogs so loudly happy on "the land" gives me hope.

On Sunday, I spent a good bit of time curled up in a chair, reading fifteen year old issues of Countryside Magazine given to us by Ron & Judy while the children and dogs played.

Now HandsomeHusband, I will remind you, is from a large European city. He delighted in the scouting camera he had erected on a nearby tree and what it revealed: two deer stopping by to check out the off grid house kit! I'm including some of that here too.
: )

Here are more pictures, below, than you would EVER want to see of our fun weekend camping in the off grid zero energy modern house kit!
Just click on 'em to get the large version and captions!
(And some videos o' frogs and passive solar musings, below.
Hey, it was a fun, muddy weekend. : )

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Letter To The Editor

Dear House Kit People,
Despite the biggest March snowstorm that has kept my children out of school for three days, the weather forecast predicts temperatures in the 70s this weekend! So we plan to camp in the house kit, still without interior walls or systems installed.

Expect many more photographs and inside shots this coming week...
: )
In the meantime, I was excited to see my Letter To The Editor was published in today's Richmond Times - Dispatch!

So, thought I'd share:
Keeping Chickens Would Help The Family Budget
Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I enjoyed the recent article on the sustainable elements in the MAC Events Hme Show / Maymont Garden Show, especially the Victory Egg Garden by Days of Old Herb Farm. However, readers should know that unlike Seattle, Brooklyn, Atlanta and even Los Angeles, Richmond and counties like Henrico do not allow laying hens in our average backyards.

With the Food Bank empty and many families out of work, we should have the right to responsibly have a few laying hens in our gardens to provide our families with fresh eggs, and one or two mini-goats (about 50 pounds) for milk. In Henrico, I can legally have three 200-pound mastiffs in the same back yard, yet I can't have a few hens. I encourage everyone to contact his or her city council or board of supervisors to ask why they are denying constiuents the right to sustainability.

Copeland Casati

I am feeling very civic minded today! Hope you enjoyed. : )




Last Vintage Hat Friday!

Yes (tolling bells slowly across the land)...
It is the last
Vintage Hat Friday.

Vintage Hat Friday helped us to bear those dark winter days in the workplace, an excuse to celebrate second-use clothes and show that you can be stylish and reused savvy in the workplace!

But now our work breaks turn towards spring- where you will find us crouched over cold frames eagerly tending the first crop of the season.

So, in the spirit of Vintage Hat Friday, we thought we'd end with a twist:
For all you loyalists, we decided to SWITCH OUTFITS of previously shown vintage duds!
So thaz right, peeps- Amy is wearing one of MY outfits, and I am wearing one of HERS!

So who ya gonna vote for NOW?
(Vote For Meeeee! ; ) )

Amy: Ode To Scrap Bar, NYC!

So this is it folks, the last 08-09 Vintage Hat Friday, and I’m trying very hard to look disenchanted with the establishment. I have to admit, I thought that cutting up shirts was something people in the 80’s did because they wanted to look tough, or perhaps just show cotton who’s boss, but frankly, it’s darned comfy. About 5 minutes after getting into this getup I started cataloging the shirts I have that could stand a little scissor action.

So, why should you vote for me? Well, I’ve managed to not only squeeze my size 8.5 feet into Copeland’s ladylike size 7 platform Converse sneakers, but I have done so with an injured toe! (Hey, she’s gonna play the “woe is my I skinned my knee!” card, so I’ve got to employ countermeasures where I can!) And then managed to climb on top of the vintage Lane chest without falling off! Since I’m more accident prone than a dizzy knife juggling clown that is quite the accomplishment.

I have never attempted to ‘stick it to the man’ before, but I seem to be managing pretty well J Look, I even put on extra eyeliner for you today! I’m going to miss our time together on Fridays, but hopefully we’ll see you again next fall for… Vintage Hat Friday! (Vote for Me!)

Copeland: “Social Net-Working?”
This hat gives new meaning to networking. I love the details, and the way it shows so nicely against the pink hair.

Now on Amy, this outfit looked rather prim and '50s.
But I am TOTALLY feeling the New Wave 80s vibe when I put these digs on!

I feel elegant in a "I'm off to The Ritz to see the Flock of Seagulls" kinda way.

So, Don't.
Don't You Want Me...

The skinned knee? (Flutters eyelashes) I wasn't going to mention it, but SINCE Amy did, yes, I had an office mishap earlier this week.
It was a rather spectacular wipe out...
I wish we had filmed it!

So vote for me, Miz Wounded Knee Social Networking New Wave Princess Gal!




Forgive me.

This has to be the (ok fine *one of the...*) weirdest post ever.
But, two things happened:
The venerable Jetson Green featured us on the home page of their site...
on twitter, the subject of crock pots came up, discussing the fact that they are SO energy efficient they only take about the energy of a light bulb to cook.

I'm gonna combine these subjects, and throw in a few more twists.
: )

Even before I was an ardent solar cooker, I loved to cook.
Now I was a late-blooming chef...
In my 20's a bunch o' boyz from Italy (as in, really from Italy) finally cried "sacrilege" and forced me to learn a basic marinara sauce when they, in my East Village New Yawk apartment, could no longer stand to see this Southern Gal, hungry and in mid-sentence, absentmindedly open a can of condensed cream-o-mushroom soup and eat it, lukewarm, with a spoon.
Their mommas sent in recipes, with a little about their family history in each one. I learned to cook.

I've embraced food since then.
And I have the Italian Moms' handwritten recipes carefully bound, so the old ways will, even if they have to be passed through some skanky Virginia Southern Girl way, survive.

Now this whole crock pot topic on twitter reminded me of some fantastic resources. My favorite is collecting vintage cookbooks, picking them up at yard sales and thrift stores. I have shelves full of great, down-home recipes from the days before microwaves where budget-minded farmers passed on thrifty, delicious culinary secrets. I cherish the old "foreign food" cookbooks- their recipes are true to the cultures, and you quickly recognize the use of how local, seasonal ingredients are critical to defining their culture.

In the 90s, trollin' around the internet, I discovered some fantastic online resources.
So, twitter people, here are some great sources for recipes from my old school internet days.

Please remember that I never follow directions. I'm a bandit, y'know...
A smidgen here, a dash o' something there...
But these are some great crock pot sources/recipes I've tried, and you can then search the base domain to find others if you're vegan, etc.:
  • The SOAR database has been compiling great recipes from many cultures and communites for ages. Check 'em out.
    • Fave crock pot recipes include: (You'll have to look 'em up on title as they've switched links since I, long ago, printed 'em out:)
      • Chicken & Wine / Dumplings, Martha Sheppard, Oct 1996
      • Brunch Casserole, Nancy Miller
      • Braised Beef In Crock Pot, AWilson
      • Cauliflower and Potato Curry (Vegan)
      • (Basically you're getting good stuff at SOAR- I tried many recipes & loved 'em! Full of cultures and communities!!!)

  • Red Wine Mushroom Ragout: My handwritten notes say, "I added potatoes, did in crock pot the night before (minus tomatoes) then cooked with tomatoes the next day in crock pot."
  • This one's for Leah, my sistah who is a naturopath in Portland and dared me to bring up aspic: Oh yes, aspic: Ham Mousse In Sherry Aspic: (popular in the '60s I hear...and still doin' QUITE WELL in the south thank-you-very-much...)
Now, there was this super site, World Wide Recipe Chef, to whom I subscribed.
It was twitter/blogs for food before there was twitter.
Or blogs. Blogs didn't exist.

World Wide Recipe Chef was sent out via email. This guy (and all the people that contributed to it from all around the world) stands in my heart. What he did was combine recipes with people's oral history: people wrote down their stories and memories to submit with their food.

Each month The Recipe Chef would have a theme, and would also open it up to readers for their contributions and stories. If you enjoy reading, cookin' and learnin'... I highly recommend The Recipe Chef. It's been a long time, but I suspect he's still going strong. : ) Try him out!!!! If you enjoy learning about other people and their cultures and traditions, all in stories with a recipe to match, this guy's for you. : )

I can't begin to tell you all the contributions and stories the readers sent in with fantastic recipes from all over the world *with their stories* So what are ya waitin' fer? If you enjoy people, cooking, and local history passed on to others, then this is a good site for you!

One theme led to the following contribution, which I have carried with me... awhile.
Please listen.

A Recipe For Om Fried Rice:
Please direct any questions about this recipe to the author.
From: Ted Parker

Biographical Note: Ted Parker, male, 52. Bichon Friese, Collie, one old cat. Doing my second twenty years as a weapon system analyst (specializing in command and control communications systems), presently working the Patriot missile system contract. First twenty years was as an Army officer (military intelligence and staff type assignments). Oregon State University, 1969, History and Naval Science. Pretty much grew up at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. This recipe comes from an earlier period in my life:

Om Fried Rice (Korean)

In an earlier incarnation, I once spent a very long year in Korea. Up near the Demilitarized Zone, just outside a little village named Tongduchon. I was in the Army, then, a brand-new First Lieutenant assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division;

Second to none,
First to run,
We won't fight,
And you can't make us.

Korea was not a good place to be, then. Vietnam was just winding down. We had an Army almost as divided as the country was at that time. A lot of racial tension. A lot of rancor between the officers and the enlisted men - although neither of us wanted to be there. I think we all felt that we had somehow stepped off the face of the earth. That we were forgotten.

I lived in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters. Cinderblock building, tin roof. Needing paint and repair. Eight by ten foot room. A small cot, a small desk, a couple of steel lockers. Very BIG speakers and a nice stereo receiver. Turntable. Huge Teac reel-to-reel tape deck. Showers (and, during the day, laundry room) down the hall. I paid a houseboy eight dollars a month to clean my room, wash my clothes and shine my boots every day.

Right across the small street was the Officer's Club. Home away from home... Bar/Lounge. Mailroom. Barbershop. Theater. Officers Open Mess (where you ate when you had to). And the little snack bar, tucked into a corner (where you ate when you could afford it). Nearly everything in our small lives, under one small roof.

Mr. Ho ran the snack bar. Little old Korean guy, spoke maybe ten words of English. Made incredible Om Fried Rice:

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/3 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 small onion, diced
1/3 cup diced ham
1/4 cup peanut oil
hot pepper oil to taste
very coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice in as little water as possible. Drain and let stand for a couple of hours.

To a large frying pan or griddle, add a generous splash of oil. Saute carrots briefly, dousing liberally with hot pepper oil - this dish should make you sweat a bit. Add onions and saute until translucent (still just slightly crunchy). Add ham and heat through. Add rice and toss thoroughly to mix. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer fried rice to a plate; keeping warm. Lightly beat egg and season with salt and coarse ground pepper to taste. Add oil to pan if needed. Pour in the beaten egg and swirl in the pan, making a large and very thin disk. When the top glazes, carefully fold (like a pie crust) and remove from pan. Carefully unfold the fried egg over the rice on the plate, like a tent. Serve immediately. Serves 1 (appropriately).

When you have eaten your Om Fried Rice, go out into the garage.
Listen to some bad music on a radio station that just barely comes in.
Watch a rerun of an old movie (must be black and white) on a small-screen television. Turn the power off about halfway through your movie. Drink at least half a bottle of cheap booze, then crawl out to the storage shed in the back yard. Go to sleep, knowing that the Om Fried Rice was probably the best thing to happen to you all week.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Mr. Parker, I will drink lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon in your honor this weekend.
Thank you for sharing a moment in your life that, for me, captured an era in history.
In the end, it's about the people.
Isn't that what the internet is about, any-hoo?
And thank you, Jetson Green, for following our story.

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Passive Solar Modern House - Energy Efficient House Kit Update

It was in the low- to mid- forties when we arrived on the land and incredibly windy... but inside the modern passive house kit it was a cozy mid-sixty-ish.

Now don't forget that while we may have the exterior weather-tight, we have not yet hooked up systems. So that nice warmth was generated purely by the passive solar design.

This was the first day I have been able to take pictures of the finished structural insulated panels house kit exterior, so I went a little overboard- any of you whom have wondered what the completed outside looks like, well, you have more pictures than you could ever want to satisfy your curiosity. : )

I hope you enjoy 'em as much as I do!

I also apologize for some of the blurred photos- I will take better pictures and buy another 'cheap land camera I can get muddy and not cry about when the 6 year old drops it *again*'- it is clear it has been dropped one too many times.

As I mentioned, it was a very windy, brisk, February day; but inside the modern house it was calm, peaceful. Natural sunlight filtered in and filled the space in a wonderful way.

Really, there's no need for lighting except in the evening in my opinion.

Even without interior walls, the family naturally groups itself in areas of that main common space- we have thrown a fold up table and chairs on the west side where our dining area will eventually be, and some chairs and blankets for sleepy children on the east side where they naturally snuggle down and cuddle with the light falling on them, keeping them warm and secure feeling, as they rest.

I loved how I could (finally!) sit down at the card table and skim a homesteading magazine *while* having a nice view of the children and dogs playing in the dirt, see them, hear them, yet while they ran wild, everything was so calm and cozy where I sat...

Next we paint the west door black, and finish insulating around the foundation by putting foam all around the foundation that is currently exposed in these pictures.

Once that is done, the massive hill of dirt that my children have much enjoyed (yes I rue the day I tell them this) will be pushed back to infill around the house kit.

We also move on to framing the interior, then installing off grid solar and rainwater systems.

But more on that later, in the meantime, enjoy the beautiful day!

Below you will see a slideshow (click to get the bigger version that also has more detailed captions) plus some fun videos I made...

Oh, and yes, my Handsome Husband *did* run out and get us another camera after all these blurred pictures... : )

Ironically because the light was streaming in so brightly from the windows, the camera overcompensated these interior videos so they show darker than what it was in real life. In fact, I think all the pictures are darker as well. I'll take better videos / pictures next weekend...

My dogs were trying to tell me to let them inside as I made this video of the inside...
Look at that last frame, Khan rounding the corner while Pacha is telling me to Let. Them. In!

Here I talk about our vintage camper that, for four years now, has been our sole shelter here. We camp pretty much from early March until late November/mid December in that unheated camper... but cramming four people in there was getting pretty crazy and it is going to make a world of difference to now be able to be here year round in a house. (This video was made *last* weekend hence my reference to the unseasonably warm day- this weekend, it was your typical February temperatures!)

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Vintage Hat Friday! And lotsa house kit pics this weekend!

Vintage Hat Friday is almost over!
And modern house kit enthusiasts I have good news- the Amish have installed the cladding, the last large doors on the south side, so tomorrow I will be taking LOTS of house kit pictures now that the exterior is finished!!!!

Copeland : Swing On Sally
My friend Leah (who is now a naturopath in Portland) and I were in our teens, shopping at the local thrift store (Fan Thrift) when we spied a PAIR of dresses with matching jackets for two dollars! Back then we thought that was expensive but could not resist getting matching vintage outfits- which, years later, we wore swing dancing, then to cocktail parties...

The hat is another local find, and the gloves were purchased at an estate sale.
The cocktail shaker is a family item from the 1920s, I mean, hey, it's Friday and five o'clock
somewhere, right?

So c'mon out and Vote Fer Me, Swing On Sally!

Amy: Navy Nightingale

This hat was purchased on the very last day of an estate sale, haggled for and acquired in a moment of “well, it’s a hat. I’m sure I can use it…for Vintage Hat Friday!” It came with a lovely rhinestone brooch attached, and while I thought in the dim interior lighting it was black, it turned out to be Navy Blue.

Well now. I have plenty of uses for a black hat, but only one for navy. This dress. It’s a lovely wrap dress I purchased from my hometown CHKD thrift store in high school. It is elegant, slimming, and a disaster on a windy day *ahem* Ah, those wrap dresses. I don’t know how women wore these out of the house and maintained their dignity, but I know I chickened out and brought a suit to wear out the door today so I would not suffer misfortune at the hands of a capricious cross-breeze.




Terms Of Service

In the technology world this week, there has been quite a brouhaha over FaceBooks new Terms of Service.

Usually my web development and green building do not overlap, but I could not help but reflect on it when answering some requests from you, the wonderful people who ask me for more information on Green Modern Kits, Green Cottage Kits, and Green Cabin Kits.

You may wonder why I make you email first instead of a 'call now' phone number.
This is because I will need to keep track of you so I don't let any of your special questions get lost as I follow up with the factory or architects for answers. By keeping an electronic record, I will know you are getting the attention you need.

So, once you email that you would like information, I am able to respond to your requests with a lot of information you might otherwise forget if I just phoned you. This way you have it on record to ponder and hem and haw over as well!

Now here's a little story several of my farming friends have told me:
(Grateful thanks to The A's, The B's and the fabulous and always verbose George G. for this story that resonates in my heart... : ) )
A new neighbor moved into a rural community. He headed to the hardware store, where people gather. The new person sidled up to the counter and said, "So, what are people like 'round here?"

The old man behind the counter scratched his head and slowly replied,
"Well, what were people like where you came from?"
The new neighbor did not hesitate: "Oh they were terrible! The dogs and children ran loose, and they were always asking you do something!"
The hardware store man showed empathy. "Yeah, I know what you mean. They're like that here, too, and the best thing you can do is keep to yourself and ignore them!"
The new neighbor was grateful. "Thanks for letting me know. I don't know if we'll be staying here long, anyway."

The next day, another new neighbor found the hardware store.
"So, what are people like around here?"
The old man asked, "Well, what were your old neighbors like?"
The new neighbor reminisced: "Oh they were great, we still keep in touch! We had lots of potlucks, there were always lots of children playing, we started a community parade and through our spaghetti suppers raised money for a fire station!"
The old man grinned. "Well, I think you'll find the people here just fine."
Here, we have worked very hard to create an amazing team of top notch green building architectural firms and industrial designers, a national, environmentally-friendly SIP manufacturer who is giving big volume discounts for our house kits so we can offer you an affordable price, and many, many people, whom you may never meet, who work hard every day to create something so you can consider us an option in your life choices.

Since our founding, each day I read and respond to every request for information.
I have met the most AMAZING people through this experience.
I have heard about your quests for land, your urban infill lots, your family's place you want to preserve from development...
You are all a joy, and thank you for sharing your stories with me.

Our first emails to each other are the beginning of a relationship.
Unlike the shirt you purchase from XYZ store online, we are not just a press of the button and the sliding of a credit card.
This is a process.
It is the beginning of our story, and journey together.

Today, after all this time, I received my first rude request for information. Rude Person, I appreciate your interest, but I will not expose you to our nice, talented people I have worked so hard to find. Rude Person, if you speak to us that way, how will you treat your contractor? Their subs?

It is in all of our best interests to, with our customers, create a team that communicates well so that your house kit is a pleasant, successful project.

So I am adding a clause to our FAQ / Terms of Service.

(Smiles gently)
'Cause Rude Person, you wouldn't want us any-hoo.