Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hurricane news

I read in today's paper that Polk county set a meteorological record for a county being hit three times in a season.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hurricane damage at Cypress Gardens

Charlie Reynolds, local garden columnist, reports that an ancient and massive bald cypress, "The Chairman of the Board," went down in Hurricane Charley.  Their famous banyan tree lost one trunk and most of its foliage, but is recovering;and their sausage tree was knocked over by Charley, but was righted and cabled in place and survived Frances and Jeanne.  The Gardens lost much of its canopy, but a lot of overgrown vegetation was ripped apart to reveal exotic fruit trees. 

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hurricane Otto possibility--again

Well, I wouldn't think it'd become a hurricane, and it probably won't come anywhere near us, but listening to the weather report talking about the possibility of an Otto in the Atlantic--again, does take you back...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Room planner

REARRANGE YOUR ROOMS WITH EASE   Rearranging rooms is as easy as clicking a mouse with our online Room Planner. Room options include living room, kitchen and bathroom. Adjust the size of the room and choose from a list of fixtures and furniture for each room.   Try the Room Planner http://www.hgtvnewsletters.com/hgtv/hg/v105_041125_t/Room.htm   (From HGTV e-mail newsletter)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

More about house plans

There are stock plans (you can adapt them) and developers' plans (you can walk through them).  There are lots of plans in magazines and books; they often come in categories, or you can design your own from scratch.  You can work with your builder, a draftsman, an architect, ...  Make changes on paper!  If you make a lot of changes, you may have to get a higher mortgage.  Upgrades mount up and can be the ultimate sticker shock.

Make choices about appliance, windows, doors, sink, etc. placement.  Look at your current home; where would you put everything in your new home?  We made most of our changes on paper.  There's always a chance that your changes won't make it to the contractor's plans.  Keep an eye on things...

Remember blueprints are copyrighted.  Be sure to get as many as you need--maybe 8 to 10 sets.  They also come in vellum, which are better for making changes.  And I believe you can only use a set of blueprints once.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

House book news update

My book will be in the local paper's book section December 3, and I'm still on the Barnes & Noble new house book best sellers list, and here's the link for buying the book and keeping me there: Barnes & Noble.com - Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook

Saturday, November 20, 2004

House at Night

Hurricane cleanup

I was pruning weed vines under the side oak today, and I discovered that a number of big branches--and a heck of a lot of little ones--had come down.  One of the big branches crashed on top of the Australian tree fern and smashed it, so I pulled it off and pruned the broken and dying fronds.  There are green fronds at the top, so I think it's all right.  Hopefully it won't be more vulnerable to freezes this winter.  Later I visited a friend's home; there are tree trunk sections lining most of the driveway, and two big root balls and trunks in the front yard.  The consensus was leave them as they are and work on them ...  Getting a back hoe and hauling them out would be too expensive. 

Friday, November 19, 2004

House plans

Someone asked if the architect shouldn't come first.  Not necessarily.  It depends on your lot size and shape, ... 

Planning involves house plans, builder, building site, and mortgage.  You want to be preapproved for a mortgage so you can grab that lot when you find it, BUT a mortgage depends on the house. 

In my case, first we got a builder and got the architect through him.  We worked with the builder and architect before we bought the land.

Stock plans can save you money, and you can change them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

House value

The National Association of Realtors recently released a report on the "Value of Housing Characteristics." The study measured how certain property characteristics add or subtract value. Here are some of the findings:

* Each additional 1,000 square feet of living space increases selling price only about 3.3%. Each additional bedroom adds about 4% to the price, while an additional bath can add 24%.

* Houses advertised as "fixers" usually sell for 24% less than other houses.

* A garage typically adds about 13% to the price.

* Central air conditioning adds about 12% to price.

* A basement increases a home's value an average of nine percent.

* A sitting area in the master bedroom increases the price about eight percent.

* Internal features that add the most value are a family room, a dining room, a whirlpool and a security system.

This information is useful to determine the return you can expect to see on your remodeling investment. It also helps you compare property values for homes with and without such amenities.

Hurricane cleanup

I picked up a couple pailfulls of mulch this morning.  It was swept out of our tree beds during the hurricane flooding and across the road.  It's a start on replenishing the beds.  We've used up almost all the mulch we had on hand from the tree trimmer (pre-hurricane tree removal).

House book mention

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is mentioned in this month's Writer's Digest Book Club newsletter.

HGTV dream home video link

WHAT'S NEW THIS WEEK IN HGTV IDEAS   VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DEVELOPING A DREAM HOME http://www.hgtvnewsletters.com/hgtv/hg/v103_041111_t/vow_dhc.htm

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Hurricane cleanup

Today was another historical society workday.  There was a good turnout and lots of sawing and hauling, but there are still a number of leaning trees that have to come down. 

Helpful house website links

Log Home Authority     BuildingGreen.com - Home  

House Plans, New Home Floor, Blueprints, Small, Luxury, Vacation, Unique

Sears PRS-Ultimate Home Quiz

Friday, November 12, 2004

Helping the planet

For those who wonder what exactly I do to help the planet, I compost, use native plants, maintain brush piles for wildlife, etc.; we live on a certified wildlife habitat (certified by the National Wildlife Federation, the state, and the county).  Here's the link to our wildlife habitat: Backyard Wildlife Habitat

Thursday, November 11, 2004

So, you've finally decided to buy my book!

You can purchase it at PublishAmerica: Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts  or  Barnes & Noble.com - Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook , ...

House photo

AOL Home Life chat

Thanks to all the great chatters on the Home Life chat on AOL tonight.  It was fun; lots of people are busy fixing up and decorating their homes.  So many good ideas and tips..., and I really enjoyed the pictures some of the chatters shared. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Barnes & Noble's top ten list for house books

I just discovered that my house book is on Barnes & Noble's house book best seller list: Barnes & Noble.com: Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Coming Soon/New Releases / All New Release..   (I'm #9.)

Designing a Space Ship

I have a little piece, Designing a Space Ship, in the November SF and Fantasy Workshop newsletter.  You can download this month's issue free, and you can subscribe via e-mail: Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Blogging tidbits

There is an AOL journal for blogging and computer stuff called CompuTips: http://journals.aol.com/shooser1/CompuTips

I read blogs through Bloglines which is an aggregator and there's also Bloglet which sends emails of all the new entries in subscribed to blogs.

(Thanks to Shelly)


Thursday, November 4, 2004


Today I met the cutest Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy when a friend brought her to visit.  Her call name is Stormy because she was born on August 13, 2004.  That was the day Hurricane Charley came through.  She's a sable with a mask and beautiful white markings, and she's a bundle of energy.  I'm told that at home she really runs Dancer and CoCo ragged...

Magistria comments excerpt

"I have read the stories so far and am very impressed with the quality
of the writing. ...

I liked the way the Plant Mages were visualized in SEEDLINGS.

THE METAL MAGES: Cool! As close to SF as fantasy can get.

BENEATH THE BLACK ICE: Classic S&S but with a high octane style.

(Thanks, Jack)

Monday, November 1, 2004


"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do little."

Edmund Burke