DIY Solar Heating with the Heat Grabber 

Build this DIY solar heating collector, the Heat Grabber is a “window box” solar collector you can fabricate in under an hour.

This is an interesting project, and one that I wonder about. Perhaps it could be used to heat the area under Florence?

(The image is really grainy, because it’s a really old image from a really old article, but apparently, this works!)

Read the entire article and see plans at: DIY Solar Heating with the Heat Grabber – DIY – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Curtains!

My Airstream Bambi came with some stock white curtains that are sufficient but a little institutional. Shortly after buying and cleaning out Florence, I resolved to make new curtains. 

That was two years ago!

About a year ago, I purchased some great white fabric and all the hardware to make new curtains. I made one panel and just didn’t love it. The fabric was too stiff and didn’t hang right. 

Then, while I was traveling in Europe this summer, I found a source for this beautiful grey Irish linen fabric. It has a fabulous “hand” and seems durable. Best of all the color is neutral but not boring. Sort of a warm grey. Best of all, it’s the same fabric that my new duvet is made from!

So last week, I got to work cutting panels and outfitting hardware. Last week, I did a test fitting, this week I made one more panel and put on the final touches and… voila! New drapes. I made some Velcro tie-backs for the curtains during the day which is an upgrade from the original set. They look really great and much less harsh than the white curtains. 

Definitely worth the wait. 

A New Patio!

Phew. What a day! Today, Florence earned a stylish new patio!

Last year, I put in some pavers, but had some difficulty because at some point, there was a driveway (or blacktop) put down but grass had grown well over it, probably for years.

To do the job correctly, it was necessary to bust up the blacktop and set the pavers properly. Thanks to my contractor, Terrence, we were able to do that today!

The plan was to augment the pavers I bought last year with more gray pavers. I called Lowe’s to make sure they were in stock and made the long trek to pick them up. When I arrived at the store they didn’t have a single gray paver in stock. So, the red pavers were the only option… and the unintended retro checkerboard turned out to be a perfect throwback fit for Florence. I think it looks great and is a BIG improvement. Some lillies of the valley from my parents garden set the patio off from the grass.

Here it is in progress:

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And complete:

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More about the water heater repair later this week.

Florence Gets a Birth Certificate!

Airstream official name registryWow. Airstream really is a cool company.

As many of you know, when I adopted, er, bought my Airstream, I named her Florence in honor of my great aunt who had passed away only a few weeks before.  Aunt Florence had a great spirit and was always smiling and kind. She was unfailingly polite and always made me smile. She passed away just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. So, when the Airstream came along, it seemed fitting to name it in her honor.

That’s why, when you read posts about my Airstream, you will see me refer to it as Florence.

In any case, I am apparently not the only person to christen their Airstream. From the Airstream site:

You know how it goes. You fall in love. Get close. Give your significant other a pet name. It happens that way for a lot of Airstream owners. We totally get it – here’s your chance to share your Airstream’s name, swap stories and photos with your fellow Airstream enthusiasts. If you believe your Airstream is a star, you’ve come to the right place. Time to let your baby shine!

So now Airstream is allowing Airstream owners to register names for their Airstreams (think: Cabbage Patch Kids), and with it, the owners get a web page, a certificate (with the Airstream name), and other perks. Definitely a worthwhile effort in my opinion!

So, all you Airstreamers… get clicking! You can sign up at http://nickname.airstream.com.

A new skirt for Flo.

Though I am supremely hoping that el niño keeps the frigid winter temperatures at bay, the fact of the matter is that any temperatures below freezing can be unhealthy for Flo. Though she works to keep me warm, the extreme temperatures can’t be good for her underbelly or skin.

Last year, I used hay bales to create a buffer and to keep Flo’s underside warm. They worked great. Flo was snuggly warm all winter.

And then spring came, and I found myself hauling 20 water-logged, 200lb hay bales to the dump one at a time. It was like moving 20 dead bodies… or what I would imagine it to be like. Plus, it was messy and disgusting. The hay also seemed to attract mice.

So this year, I decided firmly: no hay. I had every good intention to build a styrofoam skirt and then… well, it never happened. I asked around at work and one of my colleagues (god bless him), Tim, offered to build Flo a skirt. Which is a million, billion, times better than anything I could ever design or make. It is really sturdy and fits like a glove (or a really perfectly tailored skirt!)

Here’s the skirt in its finished state. It’s perfect, and cuts down a lot on drafts and cold!

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A million thanks to Tim for his patience, help, and ingenuity! And here’s to an unseasonably warm winter!

 

At home with Sr. Corina Kent

I am a huge fan of Sr. Corina Kent.

If you don’t know Sr. Corina, you should. She was an amazing artist and a fascinating individual. Sr. Corina became a sister in the order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1936 and later took art classes at what is not Otis College of Art and Design and the University of Southern California. For nearly thirty years, Sr. Corina created art while living in community with the Immaculate Heart sisters. She taught in the Immaculate Heart College and was the chair of its art department.  Later, Sr. Corina moved to Boston and interacted with Andy Warhol and further piqued his interest in appropriating commercial icons in the service of art.

Like Warhol, Sr. Corita used popular culture as raw material for her work. Her brightly color-blocked screen prints often incorporated the archetypical product of brands of American consumerism alongside thought-provoking spiritual texts. Her design process involved appropriating an original advertising graphic to suit her idea; for example, she would tear, rip, or crumble the image, then re-photograph it. She often used grocery store signage, texts from scripture, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, and writings from literary greats such as Gertrude Stein, E. E. Cummings, and Albert Camus as the textual focal point of her work.

Sr. Corita died of cancer in 1986 only six months before Andy Warhol passed away.

A few weeks ago, I decided to splurge on an authentic signed print by Sr. Corita Kent, because she is one of my favorite artists of all time! I framed the print in a frame that I picked up at Target for $15.00 and hung it in my “bedroom” in place of one of the magazine holders that I never used (except to collect junk).

I think it’s a nice improvement and makes the stock Airstream interior a bit more personal.

A Little Bit of Eames

One of my Eames chairs has found a new home!

I removed the built in banquette seating and installed a few fedora grey carpet tiles to finish the corner. In went a comfy Eames chair. The change was simple but the impact was significant. The change about doubles the available floor space. I especially like that I can open the bathroom door without having to do acrobatics. 

   

   
 In progress and a mess…

 

New Patio in Progress!

I have been wanting to build a little patio for Florence, and I have been toying with building a wooden deck or a concrete pad. I tried some Finnish wood tiles, and they looked great, but the grass just grew right through them!

So, I finally bit the bullet and set some concrete pavers. It wasn’t as complicated as I thought it might be. The most difficult part was loading them all in my car! After I installed the first row, I realized that I had to be a bit more precise and I grabbed a level that made the whole process a lot easier and the outcome didn’t look too shabby.

After I finished laying the pavers, I wished I had added two more rows to make it more a rectangle than a square… so I will probably add in a few more over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

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I did it!

Well, my most significant reservation when I was considering the Airstream was whether or not I could weather the winter. And … this winter (as I’ve already written) was no lamb. This was a brutal, record-setting (record breaking, actually) winter with sustained sub-zero days (in fact, the entire month of February was below freezing.)

Despite that, I made it.

In the coming weeks, my plan is to spring-ize (re-caulk, and tidy up some little maintenance issues) and then summer-ize (landscape, build a deck) and then to enjoy!

Stay tuned. More to come!

🙂

Nightstand/Shelf

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For the most part, I sleep like a baby in Florence. Smartly, I insulted the storage space under the bed back in September (I literally packed it full of as much fiberglass insulation as I could fit in there… and frankly, I don’t miss the storage space.) The mattress is comfy and with the “electric bed” mattress warmer, I have no problems with heat or comfort.

Oddly though, there’s nowhere in the bed area to set little things like glasses, or to put an alarm clock or anything like that. The Airstream came equipped with lots of areas for stashing reading materials, and mine came equipped with a drop-down TV shelf (that hasn’t hosted a TV since I have owned it, because I swapped out for a great 9-inch LCD DVD combo.) But the drop-down shelf just takes up too much space to have open all the time. And because there is nowhere for a little table, I was really at a loss.

About a month ago, I started thinking of building a “little shelf” to hold miscellaneous stuff… but I couldn’t find anything at all.

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Until I ran into RIBBA at IKEA this past weekend! RIBBA comes in Black and White and is actually a picture rail rather than a shelf… but it works PERFECTLY as a side table in the bed area. RIBBA installs with two screws and fits the decor perfectly. All for only $9!