Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kitchen countertop update

Today Patrick added the wood trim to all the countertops--and it was a real chore in the master bathroom, where he had to work around a vintage pedestal sink.  He grouted (linen) the granite tiles and caulked the kitchen sink (fiberglass; this is our first fiberglass kitchen sink), which he installed and discovered that the water lines that came with the faucets aren't long enough to reach our valves, which are low.  So, he'll have to get those tomorrow and do more caulking and buffing of the tiles.  Our faucets are Delta and look really modern; the faucet is so high, however, that when we wash our hands, there will be lots of water splashing, which has always been a problem.  We learned that not all faucets come with water lines; Kohler, for instance, doesn't.  (We looked at a Kohler faucet, but decided to go with the Delta.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kitchen countertop update

Yesterday, Patrick, the contractor, finished laying and setting the granite tiles on the countertops.  Today he came and checked the tiles for adhesion and shifting and was satisfied, so he cut and set the granite tile backsplash under the windows over the sink (no sink yet) and made it the same height along all the countertops, which looks better.  (He did lots of cutting to make everything fit.)  He also updated an electrical outlet that he had to remove to work around.  And he put granite tiles on the bathroom countertop in the master bath.  (We had some left over.)  Tomorrow we'll get the sink installed and the tiles grouted.  I'm really looking forward to that.  Oh, and probably he'll add the wood edging then.  I forgot to ask.  And put the phone back.  We won't be able to use the kitchen for a few more days; we've been using the sink and countertop in the utility room which is just off the kitchen and pantry.  And we won't put up the curtains for about a week to be sure everything's nice and tight. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New kitchen countertops

We've been wanting to replace our laminate countertops for a long time, and now--nine years after the house was built--we're doing it.  The contractor dropped the granite squares off last week, and today he started demolition and went on to dry laying and cutting.  Boy, that looks good!  As so often happens, we got carried away and bought a new wastebasket, curtains, and refrigerator--stainless steel (in the front anyway).  I wanted the new silver look, but I learned that that's just paint, which will rust out eventually.  (Make the coats thicker!)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Oasis 20 (literary SF con) report preview

The Oasis convention is held on Memorial Day weekend in Orlando, Florida.  As usual, I went Friday afternoon and came home Sunday afternoon and had lots of fun.  Now I have to write a con report.  I bought a number of Liaden universe chapbooks and an omnibus volume by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  I've read all the books--some of them are chapbooks and one's a collection of chapbooks--that I hadn't read.  I'll look at the omnibus of novels that I've already read before shelving it.  I picked up some comics--Robert Asprin's Myth Adventure series--on the freebies table and bought Mike Conrad's Peter Parsec, Space Cadet: Raiders of the Lost Dark (funny with lots of word play) comic in the dealers room.  Check it out at  Comics   I also got a nifty tee shirt there from Batoka Station, a city on Mars (created by Monk Studios).  Check out their stuff at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Building and immigration laws (link)


While noting that the nation's home builders have championed comprehensive immigration reform, NAHB Executive Vice President and CEO Jerry Howard said that the problems with the Senate overhaul bill "are so grave and extensive that we believe this legislation cannot be fixed without making major revisions."

If the bill were to be enacted in its current form, Howard said, it "would do irreparable harm to America's small businesses,


Of particular concern for NAHB members are employment verification provisions in the Senate bill that would give the government latitude to prosecute an employer who hires an illegal alien without knowledge that the person is unauthorized to work, and inadequate safe harbor protections that require complete adherence to all immigration regulations no matter how obscure.

In addition, legislative language would give the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security a wide berth to enact rules that would make general contractors responsible for the legal status of all of their subcontractors' employees.     ...

For more: News : Legislation : Builders Call for Major Overhaul of Immigration Bill :

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Publication news

Preditors & Editors poll (2006)

Standings for category: Non-fiction

3. Selling a Cool Book ABOUT THE HOUSE THAT JOY BUILT, Joy V. Smith, The Electronic Write Stuff (Oct. 2006),  [Look under archived Write Stuff, 2006: October.]

Note: The 2006 P&E poll is labeled as 2002, and I see that the graphic is 2001.  Apparently they weren't able to fix it, but the article was published in 2006.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Home and decorating ideas

Olive wood cheese boards are a European tradition, according to House & Garden (May 2007 issue--a product listing).
Giorgio Armani is now a kitchen designer.  His home line has "A complete kitchen as tailored and elegant as one of his suits."  (I do like the bronze surface.)  He says, "I wanted an opulent surface slightly reminiscent of textiles but functional and hard-wearing.  We came up with this special surface ..."   (See Design Mind in the May issue of House & Garden.)
The Sonoma Cast Stone's P-series wave sink [in 24 colors; I do like that pale green] is interesting; I think it's for a bathroom.  You can see it in Elements of a Room in the same issue; there's also a wooden bathtub, which I've seen elsewhere.  It just doesn't seem practical.  The pond bathtub (fiberglass) is more impressive--different anyway. 
Then there's Kohler's Ipanema lavatory and countertop of vitreous china--very colorful--with metal legs.  I liked a faucet, Show House from Moen; it's simple but elegant.  (Advertisement.)  For the kitchen (Trade Secrets section), there's a combination microwave and toaster that gives you more counter space.  (I wonder how you clean it?)
For those interested in our planet, be sure to read One Gardener's Almanac (May issue also), which looks at trees and plants in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston and how they and other trees in the northeast are doing in a warmer climate with more pests.  [The lovebugs are swarming here, btw.]  There's a sidebar with a list of adaptable trees.
Btw, I've read that lavendar is the new neutral; it comes in various shades.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Color and tile trends (discussion link)

Kitchen & Bath Show Big on Color

"I spent last week in Las Vegas at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. ...  I noticed two big trends on the show floor: larger tile and more color.

Those beautiful glass mosaic tiles that were everywhere (wasn't that just last year???) seem to have given way to standard sizes in ceramic; those larger tiles in turn are often set to create mural-sized, three-dimensional patterns ...

Speaking of color, it was everywhere! Aqua baths, cobalt-blue ranges, color-coordinated kitchen appliances ..."

For more from

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bathroom ideas

The April 2007 issue of Cottage Living has some interesting ideas for remodeling and decorating your bathroom, including two pedastal sinks separated by a little wall.  The floor of this bathroom is wood so they've put tile "rugs" under the sinks.  They painted the outside of the old claw-foot tub blue to match the walls.  I think they should have put tile under the tub or else a big rug in front of it.  And don't forget to hang those rugs up to dry!  (I painted an old claw-foot tub pink some years back.  It really brightened up the bathroom.)
In another bathroom in that issue, they used decoupaged maps as wallpaper (glued and sealed).  And the ceiling was painted blue which makes the bathwater look blue.  I love that!
My own bathroom is blue with a white ceiling; the walls are stencilled with gingko leaves in a darker blue in each corner-- below the ceiling.  The towels, washcloths, shower curtain, and rugs are various shades of blue; and for decoration I have a collection of Meeko figurines (from Pocohontas).  A canoe with Pocohontas and Meeko floats on the toilet tank.  I have to confess that some people who've visited the house think it's a children's bathroom.  (It's a good thing I got rid of most of my Stellaluna collection.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Building a Cool House...

My book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is #6 in this Barnes & Noble category: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

The book covers the building process and what’s involved in building your home; it includes diary excerpts, photos, and advice from planning to punch list and beyond. 

It  was on the Reviewer's Choice list in the February issue of "Small Press Bookwatch":  MBR: Small Press Bookwatch, February 2005

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Building and remodeling

The July 2007 issue of Log Homes has some good articles on remodeling, including a bathroom makeover and a seamless addition.  Plan your designs and decorating choices early.  An article on utility rooms mentions that they're changing; they're larger and have more cabinets, among other things.  There are modular log homes now, btw, though there are usually fewer choices in floor plans then.  An article on construction points out the importance of orientation, overhangs, insulation, and placement of doors and windows.  "Most homes today are built with minimal overhangs to simplify construction."
Well, that explains those homes that look like the roofs were chopped off.  I want more protection from the sun and rain; I'm planning on a two or three foot overhang.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vendors Increase Options for Builders (link)

"... , some companies are not only selling the products, but also delivering and installing them," says Dana B. Bres, a research engineer at the Partnership for Advanced Technology in Housing (PATH ). "This can improve scheduling and minimize construction site theft, which continues to be a vexing problem."

For more information: News : Trends : Vendors Increase Options for Builders :

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Andrea: First named storm of the season



It's still not doing much.  We hope to get some rain from it when it drifts over the state (Florida).

(Thanks, Lloyd, for the bulletin.)

Update: Subtropical Depression Andrea has weakened and is drifting south.  It did give us a little rain.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Kitchen remodeling

We've been thinking about replacing our kitchen countertops for a long time.  Earlier we were thinking of using Corian, but that's not as popular now as it was earlier.  Granite is one of the current trends, but it's expensive, and our contractor suggested granite squares which are grouted.  The photos I've seen look fantastic; so we're going with that.  We're replacing the kitchen sink also, and the vote was unanimous: No more stainless steel for that!  We're looking at the same style (double sinks of equal size), but made of enamel over cast iron, I think.  I need to do more research on that.  I believe it's porcelain that's more liable to chip, and no one liked the acrylic sink we saw at Lowe's.  We'll probably replace the faucet too.  I think we'll keep the same style with no cutouts or inserts.  Looking at those brand catalogs, which we did at Lowe's, is confusing--so many choices!  I'd like to see something I can touch...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Converting a building into a home

I enjoy those TV home shows that show how people have changed stores, garages, churches, and schools into homes.  I think those are fantastic opportunities, and in the May 2007 issue of Saveur is an article about a woman who converted a Carnegie library in Burwell, Nebraska into a home.  Now that is a wonderful opportunity!  She was the lone bidder at the auction.  (The library had moved and left the building empty two years before.)  The new owner has a 2,800 square foot brick home with Garfield County Library still over the front door, and she was able to buy big pieces of furniture that wouldn't fit into a smaller home.  This woman has a creative imagination.  Keep your eyes open for opportunities like this one or ones that other people can't even see.  

Friday, May 4, 2007

Save the trees! (discussion link)

Saving Trees, Saving Money
(From Marjie's Blog) One of my pet peeves: developers and builders who bulldoze every tree on the lot(s) before starting construction....

I was fortunate that we built in a horse pasture that had some beautiful old oaks--the former owner called the big one that's behind our house now the cathedral oak--and pines.  We lost most of the pines to drought and beetles, btw.  Remember that it's important not to try to save trees that are damaged, dying, or too close to the house!  It'll probably be cheaper to remove them as part of the building process, than to have to do it later.  And we were fortunate to have our pines removed before all the hurricane damage when some tree removers charged big bucks.  None of our trees were or are too close to the house, which was especially appreciated when the top of one of the dead pines came down.  (Some pines were riddled with beetle holes, but not dead yet, but we took them all down after that.)  We still have pines on the property, but now none of them are where they can drop pinecones on the lawn, which I really appreciate.