Friday, November 10, 2006

It's the little things...

First things first, no mice this morning. Although this means I'll have to spend another 30 minutes trying to get the bloody tray to balance on the skewer before I can haul my sleep-deprived bum to bed tonight, am secretly quite relieved - the hubby refused point blank to do any rodent relocation and I wasn't looking forward to doing it myself.

The good news: it's only 9.30 but already Dot and I have been hard at work saving the planet (Dot does her bit by napping so I can get on with things). We've closed the doors on the log-burning stove (according to this top tip page, Jesse's Journal, keeping them open is like having a window wide open). We've turned the fridge temperature up a couple of notches after Tomo noticed the porridge he had in there was practically frozen. It immediately stopped its furious whirring (the fridge, not the porridge); could this be the culprit in the mystery of why our eleccy bills have been so enormous despite previously being here only at weekends? I've closed all the storm windows (for those in the UK these are the equivalent of double glazing; according to my mate Jesse, storm windows can reduce heat loss through by 25% to 50%). If we add to our mental tally not living in that NYC apartment with six huge draughty non-insulated windows any more, we're doing well on the window front.
In fact, the more I read of Jesse's page, the better I felt. "Decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight" - check, we're almost all white. "Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it" - check too (ah, the joys of an old house that never had overhead lights fitted). And I've started looking for a couple of gorgeous vintage charcoal grey welsh blankets (like this one - hey, no counter-bids!) on eBay to draught-proof the kitchen doors. Nothing like a spot of guilt-free shopping to cheer a girl up.
And I needed cheering because I'd been growing increasingly despondent about my eco-naughtiness as I followed Ideal Bite's home improvement week tips this week. (In case you don't know Ideal Bite, it's like Daily Candy but all the tips are eco-friendly. Sign up now!) We've just done some lovely renovations on our bathroom and kitchen and have singularly failed to do the right thing, i.e. we didn't use wood from renewable sources or low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint (there's one that's made from 99% edible ingredients, would you believe, and another from powdered curdled milk. Hm, maybe not...) Still, we have plenty more renovations still to do, so once we find the cash, we can do the right thing. See, as my Dad likes to say, everything happens for a reason. By this logic the reason we're skint is so I could find all this out and do a greener job. Brilliant!
Anyway, we might disapprove of the renovations but they are starting to look rather lovely. Take the kitchen:

Our great carpenter John made this kitchen unit - not eco-friendly but beautiful. The sink is vintage - gold star. If you could see the 'before' pics you'd be even more impressed. Might post them tomorrow just for a laugh.

This bathroom used to be half a bedroom. Note pale colors and reclaimed bath and basin; ignore non-eco-friendly paint and tongue and groove...

Spare room expertly papered by my dad with Eley Kishimoto for Habitat wallpaper (ungreen but gorgeous Xmas pressie from the hub). John uncovered the original beams for us. Er, do we get points for 'task lighting' at least?

Outside. Clearly no renovations done here yet but thought you might like to get a feel for where we are. Don't look at this as a knackered old house with a pile of very un-eco-friendly wood out the front; see a porch ready to be renovated with renewable wood, walls to be filled with energy-saving insulation and siding crying out to be painted with edible sour milk paint...


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