Monday, September 30, 2013

Toilets, The history of

The October issue of Old House Journal has an interesting article on the history of toilets, and no, Thomas Crapper did not invent the first flush toilet. "It was actually in the 1590s that Sir John Harington [did] ... [He] proved that a toilet withut a sewer is just a gigantic chamber pot, ..." There's also a timeline of toilet progress from 1596 to 1932; and from 1900-1932, there were 350 toilet patents. And I appreciated the bathroom design possibilities shown, along with the illustrated toilet designs and available products. I especially liked the jadeite porcelain and chrome toilet roll holder.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Home design

There are some lovely home ideas in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of New Old House. A Savvy Home (Architect's Principles article) tells the story of a family that was all set to build a home of more than 5,000 square feet, but in September 2008 it had to be postponed... Four years later, his clients called him; they were ready to go ahead, but they had decided to make it smaller (3,000 square feet). They didn't need the home they'd imagined, and they'd be downsizing eventually so this would be more practical. The architect, Russell Versaci, goes on to say that those pretentious McMansions will become dated and even white elephants in the future. Instead of trendy, go for classic.

Btw, locally--possibly Tampa--a wealthy man just bulldozed his big million dollar home so he could build a bigger one. He didn't even recycle the expensive building materials--or the curtains--the waste! (I got to see it happen on the news.)

Note: I recently called Restore (the Habitat for Humanity store) to pick up the leftovers from our modest remodeling projects.

Have you seen those huge cut out openings--no trim work--between rooms on the home shows? Apparently another recent trend; they look like someone cut them out with a butcher knife. There's a home in this issue where they framed the opening with classical pilasters. Beautiful! I also liked the colonnades with leaded glass doors (it looks like) in another home.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Snackies board (link)

I'm not known for my cooking 'cause I don't, so I decided to add a snacks board to my Pinterest collection, and I'm having fun with that.  You'll notice that I included healthy snacks from Kashi--and I didn't include those fancy popcorn snacks...  (They come in all flavors and colors.)


Note: I got the Kashi hummus crisps free because I'm a BzzAgent, and I get to try all kinds of fun stuff.  Yes, snacks are among my favorite food products to taste test, and I--and my family--enjoyed Kashi's Sea Salt and Olive Oil hummus crisps, which are flavorful and very crispy, but I'm looking forward even more to the Carmelized Onion flavor.  And yes, I plan to track down potato chips to add to my snackies board.

Home decorating and Halloween ideas

The October issue of Southern Living has The Fall Fun Guide (recipes, party ideas, etc.), which includes dining on the porch--or in the barn--and a fall menu. The breads article includes hot breakfast fritters. I also enjoyed the article about the home owners who redecorated a house full of neutral colors into a more interesting and colorful home. (However, I've never liked those boring white subway tiles.)

Birds and Blooms (October/November issue) suggests painting pumpkins with acrylic glitter paint. I like the look! Or paint small pumpkins in colors that match your house.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Joy V. Smith's ebooks update

Detour Trail is now available on Kindle:

My story (SF and fantasy) collection, The Doorway and Other Stories, is also available on Kindle:

Hidebound (SF) is available on:

After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.

Pretty Pink Planet (SF) is available free on

Lori, an agent of SOESFOL, visits Prism to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens.

Hot Yellow Planet is available on:

In this Pretty Pink Planet sequel, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures.

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure (non-fiction) is available on: and

How one woman bought and remodeled a foreclosure; it didn’t even have a kitchen sink!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back door project finished

The back door was installed yesterday, but was fine-tuned today with trim, hinges, and hardware secured. Since it was a remodeling, there were issues to be addressed because the door frame wasn't exactly straight and the hinges had to be moved, plus a new one installed. (I do feel more secure with three hinges.) It took three days, and yesterday the doorway was covered with plastic and taped and weighted down to keep the heat out. (We're still in the low 90s here.) The contractor had to walk back and forth around back and through the garage to get to the door (painting, drilling, etc.). And we had to take the dogs out through the garage and walk them out front (easier than going up the ramp and through the gate).

The new door is beautiful, and we noticed a difference in the noise level.  It's much quieter, and we have tempered safety glass, which is 3-5 times stronger than annealed glass.  It's also Low-E (a high performance glass coating that blocks heat flow) and Energy Star compliant.  And instead of a vertical picture window in the door, we have grilles and blinds between the glass.  The old door frame was black; the new door is all white except for the clear glass; it looks better, and the dining room looks bigger.  Interesting effect.   I hope to get pictures.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hurricane Humberto

Humberto, the first hurricane of the season, is expected to stay in the Atlantic.

Update (9-12-13): Humberto is still a category 1 and is heading west but should turn north--maybe...

Update (9-15-13): No longer a hurricane or anything...

Update (9-26-13): Yes, I missed posting about Humberto's peregrinations--and Ingrid!  I don't think there's been a Jerry yet... (I've been busy!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Home and Halloween ideas

There's a fun cover on the Ocotober issue of Country Living; that cake would make a great centerpiece with its spider webbing--and spiders--all over the cake! The webbing is made from gooey, melted marshmallows; the spiders are made with black fondant, though possibly black licorice or Twizzlers might work as well. For a fall decorating idea, you can decoupage pressed leaves on white gourds.  Check out this issue for more home and Halloween decorating ideas.

Collectibles include old school microscopes, which I think kids could have fun with too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dining room light replacement

At last the dining room overhead light--and its annoying dimmer--has been replaced with a ceiling fan, light, and new switch. We no longer have to turn on the light and then push the dimmer switch up--over and over. And the light is brighter, though we learned that one of the three bulbs was burned out. You can't tell inside that kind of shade.

While the electrician worked on the ceiling light--stopping to ask us which side of the blades we wanted to be facing down; we opted for the lighter wood since we didn't get the white blades we had planned on. (Don't ask.) And then when he called us in to check it out--uh, I think the shade is a trifle crooked--I looked at the the two pulls (which we have changed at least twice since then as we have mutliple fancy pull chains on hand) and realized that we hadn't asked him to use the second switch next to the light switch, which we had always wondered about. Why would they add a switch for a ceiling fan when they didn't have a ceiling fan?!
So, he started over. He had to take the whole fixture down! He sighed a lot, btw, but was very polite, and at last he called me into the dining room and asked me if there was an outlet behind the book cases lining the wall that the switches were on. Probably, I said, 'cause they're everywhere. You've never seen so many light switches, outlets, and jacks--and those other things... as are in this house. Well, he said calmly, this switch is probably for the outlet. Great Scott! You are probably right. The living room is wired that way--two switches for two outlets for floor lamps because they didn't have overhead lighting in the living room. (We rectified that, btw, by adding a ceiling light and fan and a foyer light.) But the dining room had an overhead light--pathetic though it was. Who'd have thought it?!

So we paid the man and he headed for home--still acclerating last we saw of him. And the bill was very reasonable. Thank you, sir! Now we sometimes put the dining room light on just to admire it and the light switch. The room is so much brighter, The perimeter of the room used to be in shadow.  We are delighted to have the third of the four remodeling projects that we'd put off, done this year.  Next is hanging the door, which is in the garage drying until sometime this coming week.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Grab bars

We added three grab bars during our remodel when we first moved in, but we've just added four more--two in each bathroom. The first two big grab bars (first remodel) were installed in the shower in the small bathroom--the longest on the long window wall and the shortest on the short wall (the end wall opposite the shower head). These are both horizontal.

The long grab bar in the bathtub/shower in the hall bathroom is angled (my preference); I had that done in my bathtub/shower at the old house that we built. That gives you a better choice for grabbing.

The new grab bars were added at the advice of a nurse for a family member--except for the one in the tub/shower which had been thought about for some time; it's just inside the corner to use getting in and out. Now there are two short vertical grab bars in front of the toilet in the small bathroom. They're under the towel bar and above the toilet paper holder. They fit nicely and aren't too obtrusive.

A longer grab bar--also vertical--is next to (actually in front of) the toilet in the hall (bigger) bathroom--in case that bathroom is needed in the future... The long grab bar is 18" and brushed stainless steel. The three short grab bars are each 9" and satin nickel--much more elegant than the long ones, which actually look pretty good too. They work together, and we're grateful to have that project done now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bathroom remodeling project

The new bathroom vanity has been installed, and my feet have finally adjusted to the fact that there's less room on the floor than there was with the pedestal sink. The pedestal sink was a good sink (Kohler), but it had been badly damaged by a previous owner, and the cracks covered a good portion of the basin, though it wasn't leaking. However, the cracks and crazing seemed to be spreading, and mold and mildew loved those cracks. (More bleach!) So, we're enjoying the new addition and there's plenty of space for the toothbrush holder, soap dish, etc. We splurged on a new faucet too. The plumber showed us the old plumbing; it would probably have been good for two or three or more years yet, but the rust was spreading. We're happy to be done with that project and not have to deal with that plumbing problem in the future.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tropical Storm Gabrielle

TS Gabrielle is heading NW towards Puerto Rico, but should--according to most of the spaghetti models--turn NE and out into the ocean. 

A weatherman said that if we make it to September 12 without a hurricane, that will be the longest stretch without one since satellite coverage began in 1966.

Update (9-5-13): Gabrielle is now a tropical depression and not expected to strengthen.

Update (9-11-13): Gabrielle did strengthen and became a tropical storm again, but now it's back to being a depression.  (I don't pay a lot of attention to the weather unless I'm expecting rain.)

Update (9-12-13): She's a tropical storm again!

Update (9-15-13): The remnants are heading for Canada.