Monday, June 29, 2009

Your Restored Bungalow Needs Authentic (Looking) Lamps

artsandcrafts.gifI am sitting at home with a cup of hot chocolate and a dog next to me on the floor, looking through websites of lighting fixtures. The whole thing is a bit odd. The lamp part is fine, but drinking hot chocolate in humid, 90 degree weather is not, at least usually. There are many fixtures out there that are great to use if you are restoring a home or at least want to evoke a certain era. Maybe I was drinking the chocolate as I it was all evoking a bit of nostalgia.

There are some lamps and lampshades on that may very well do the trick. There is a great product search tool that really helps you pinpoint exactly what you have been envisioning. A cousin of mine has an arts and crafts style house. I think the light fixture, pictured at left, would really do the trick. It is made by Kichler, and evokes the style without looking SO original that someone is tempted to steal it!

There are also plenty of ceiling light fixtures that would carry the theme throughout the home. I am of the mind that light fixtures do not have to match each other. Of course, if you have a formal arrangement such as sconces or lights on each side of a door, you may want them identical. Let me clarify: I don't think that the kitchen light fixtures such as the one above the sink has to be identical, or from the same collection as the one above the table. You could have floor lamps in the eat in kitchen to create a more formal dining room effect that may be harmonious in era or color palatte but do not match.

Of course, you may not want to buy an elegant and delicate fixture to be in the same room as the big plaster floor lamp in two tone pink and elephant green that you have had since the 1980s. However, I am not one to judge!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being the "Piano Man" Isn"t Our of Reach

I played two musical instruments in school, but the one that I was most interested in eluded me. I have always wanted to learn how to play the piano. I thought I was always a bit ahead of the game because I could handle Sight Reading. However, the price of a piano made my dream be dashed.

Sure, sometimes people get rid of pianos, but buying all the sheet music, or finding something you like adds up. Of course, that is the case, unless you are content playing chopsticks or the chords to "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I was able to find some suitable sheet music to download at There is definitely a better selection to offer that is a bit more exciting, such as boogie woogie piano music, and also selections that fall into the new age category.

I am going to give it a shot, and fumble away on the electronic keyboard that has been languishing in the basement. The keyboard is a comparable size to a standard piano. It should be easy to transition to a piano, once I master it a little bit. I have always pictured myself as the person in old movies that suddenly sits at the piano and gets the whole room to snap out of their doldrums and put on a happier face.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rain Barrels: What is Old is New

Many people have jumped on the bandwagon of doing little things and tweaking their game to do more environmentally friendly things. What people have been doing all along that saves some energy is rain harvesting. Not only is using rain water barrels environmentally friendly, but it is also very budget conscious.

raincatch.jpgYou collect the rain in special rain barrels, then can use the water to take care of your garden. Of course, you can use any old barrel you find, but it is better to use plastic so the barrel doesn't get soft, and you also can clean them much easier if the need arises. Some people use the rain water to fill up the bird fountain as well. I knew one woman who actually washed her hair in the rain water, especially when the power went out. Since her home was on an electric well, she lost water during bad storms as well.

I was surprised how far the design of the typical rain barrel has come. The design, at left, looks like an architectural piece. Obviously, if you tapped it, you would know that it is plastic and not plaster, but it looks very attractive. It is a good alternative for someone who does not want an item that looks like a barrel. It has a removable top planter that adds to the effect. This style is available at


Monday, June 22, 2009

Dust Yourself Off (Literally)

The matters of mold and dust are very important to collectors. Often people ignore it in the thrill of the hunt. They look at an antique book, a 1920 bathing suit, or a creaky old barn and things that would normally alarm them, or incite a Dust Control plan in their own home just don't register. I have seen people get seriously ill.

While I have learned to avoid that, even if it meant leaving a treasure behind, the dust that cannot be avoided by me is dust in the environment. I am not speaking of a little dust on a shelf. There was a new development put in where I used to live. Instead of gradually building as funds and interest allowed, they clearcut forty five acres of land. For months, there was a coating of dust on cars that had been left in driveways within a mile of the destruction. Occasionally, they would wet the soil down, but it proved to be a poor plan for Dust Abatement, as it was a temporary fix that cost the area a substantial water bill.

I wish the homeowner's association had seen the Top-Seal that is available. The dirt roads throughout the new development could have been easily turned into something a bit more solid. Of course, in the future, the developers could have paved roads, but by the track record of the whole area, it was more likely that many back roads would be vacant for years until concurrence dictated. In the meantime, they could have sealed them. That way, the soil was already graded for the future project.

In 1987, a PM10 compliance was put into effect. There is such a thing as "dust emissions," and projects and products that are PM10 compliant control dust with a particulate matter of 10 Microns in diameter or smaller. That may not mean much to most people, but it sure means a lot to our lungs and eyes. Asthma attacks can be substantially reduced as well, if that is a trigger, when you live in an area where dust control is in effect.

The next time you have a dusty road on your hands, there is a way to eliminate the problem.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life Insurance: Available for the Unemployed and Self Employed

I used to work at a job where I received full benefits. I had health insurance, and despite me being a bit puzzled why I even had it, I had 20 year term life insurance. In my early twenties, single, and not even seeing anyone, I really wondered why the heck I needed it. No one depended on me. Perhaps I justified it by the slim price it was. It was just a few dollars a month.

A 20 yr term seemed like a long time to me at the time. In 20 years, it would mature and if needed, I or a beneficiary could receive the full benefit. It is not just for funerals, but there are other cases where you would be able to use it. I think there was something like dismemberment that prevented you form working, or at least to the full price scale that you were accustomed. I know, it sounds pretty gruesome. You just never know what is going to happen, however.

Now that I am a bit older, I think life insurance makes a little more sense. I have seen folks give all of their assets to charity in their will, and then have no family. One animal rescue ended up paying the expenses for a head stone for a benefactor because there was just no one left in the woman's life. That was extremely sad. If she would have had insurance, burial expenses would have been taken care of.

Whatever you decide, at least it is something that you can purchase regardless of having an employer or being self employed.

Don't Know a Classmate? Get the Notes Online

When I was in school, my course load was pretty intense. The classes within my major required many, many hours of out of classroom participation. By the time I arrived at my core classes, such as geology or math, I was pretty wiped out. In my major classes, I pretty much knew everyone, but in the basics, I knew not a soul in the sea of desks. It was really hard to compare notes with folks.

There is actually a site now that has course notes for various classes. They are not just generic classes, but classes specific to the college or university you attend. Say you are in a huge statistics class, you can get STAT Lecture Notes from statistics class right online at The set up of the website is not to provide plagiarized term papers, but to offer notes and outlines to help you study.

If you have been out of class for awhile, you can look up a STAT Homework Solution. It is sort of like when you were in grade school and the answer key was in the back of your book. This is so you could figure out how to arrive at the answers. Of course, the tests were something the teacher compiled and you wouldn't have a cheat sheet for.

If this was available when I was in college, life would have been less stressful. If my lab time ran over and I couldn't quite make it to the next class, I would have had a way to catch up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Look Like an Expert at Trade Shows and Fairs

Planning for summer antique fairs and trade show exhibits are upon us. Some exhibitors use very makeshift set ups. It may work if you are going to set up in your shop, or just around the corner, but often completely home made set ups aren't flexible or are unwieldy to travel with.

I urge you to look beyond what you typically see at antique fairs and think about the examples that trade show exhibits give you. Many elements are built to be knocked down and taken with you. What is more, is that the polished looking trade show exhibit that participants have is what is going to set you apart and make you more money when you transition from the local community center to a national event like Viva Las Vegas.

There are some "roll and go" table top trade show displays that may cost more than purchasing poster board at the office supply store, but it will give you an infinitely more professional look. You will only have to purchase it once to give people an image of yourself as an expert in your field and not just a "dealer" or a "seller." Companies like Gilbert Displays offer complete customization of something just for you. They even offer rentals of equipment and hardware if shows are not something you do as your bread and butter.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Get Paid to Shop

There are a lot of targeted sites on the internet that contain ads or links for different online shopping deals or internet retailers. They usually are not just displaying the links for your convenience or out of the goodness of their heart. Oftentimes, the webmaster is being paid every time you click on those links. What if you were actually paid to shop?

At, you are. You receive cash back rebates from the online shops you buy from. Log in to Extrabux, and then start surfing the various sites and deals. When you make a qualifying purchase, your account is credited. The cash back amount is advertised right on the website. You can still do a fair amount of comparison shopping before you buy just for that very fact.

Obviously, it is never a deal if you don't need the item, but the deals act a lot like coupons. They provide a sweeter deal for something you were going to buy anyways, which helps out your budget. Of course, sometimes you are motivated to take the plunge on something that you were just merely thinking about. There are many participants, such as Macy's, Borders, and Ebay. In other words, there is something for every taste.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Is Article Alley up your Alley?

Some folks are looking for "guest" or Free content for their website or blog, and don't have a large enough network of quality writing friends to get the job done. On the other hand, there are writers that just want to get their name out. Most of the time, they wish to have their articles in wider distribution in hopes of getting more hits on their website.

There is a website called Article Alley that would satisfy both of those needs. If you are a writer, you can Submit Articles to the database. Various interested parties would be able to search for relevant topics and may just choose your article. They are required to link back to the article/site and keep your byline intact. This may just give you a few more people who pass around your work on the internet.

As far as payment, it appears that article writers are writing Free articles in more ways than one. They are free to use and the author receives publicity rather than pay. However, the site also offers a paid service where you can order articles on a specific topic and have them written just for you. It appears that this is done by editorial staff and not by the pool of writers who register for the site.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

And the Award Goes to...

High School graduations are upon us, but I have been invited to more kindergarten graduation than for high school! That certainly wasn't the trend when I was in kindergarten, but it seems now that in both kindergarten, and with the passage to middle school, they have small graduation ceremonies. Kids even get Academic Awards for attendance and such. Is this a good thing, celebrating other positive milestones in a child's life, or does this actually make the actual high school or college graduation ceremony less meaningful? I sure didn't think so. I loved all the trophies with my name on them.

Oddly enough, I received basketball trophies. This was puzzling, as at just shy of five feet tall, I must have been the district's shortest point guard. I must have been really talented. Actually, I wasn't. I received a plaque for being a good sport. I never seemed to let it bother me when I never got to play. In truth, it ate me away on the inside on why I never got to play. After all, I had been chosen to play on the team. Shouldn't they think I was good enough if that was the case? Being given the plaque sort of made me feel good, but I was also the type embarrassed to get up in front of people on the acceptance. Luckily, my coach let me just shake his hand and not say anything on the podium.

There are many other occasions this summer where you might order some form of a trophy. The tournaments are in full swing, and there are plenty of golf trophies, both with little golfers on top and acrylic plaques. Since the school year is about over, soccer trophies have probably been handed out. In fact, has a large selection.

Whatever you decide, make it meaningful. In fact, the most memorable awards have been those that have been a bit tongue in cheek. I have seen people order trophies and desk plates for milestone birthdays, or for awards that sort of poked fun at the recipient. When I graduated, someone got an award for who looked best in jeans, and who was the person who usually tried to borrow everyone else's stuff, as well as the typical "Most Likely to Succeed."

What are some crazy trophies or awards you have received? Do you still have them? Are you thinking about buying a trophy to commemorate something this year? Drop me a line. I would love to hear about it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bigger Equipment Can Save More Time

Did you know that John Deer made it through the Great Depression through a savvy business move? They forgave many debts that would have surely caused many small American farms to close their doors. They made it through the depression and so did we.

I know a few folks who have those original tractors, or have tractors that are slightly newer, but they still have been running for years. Sometimes new jobs crop up. When horses are added, a post hole digger may need to be added to the family, and that can be purchased as an attachment. If you need skid steer attachments, there are those available too.

Not everyone has the need for such industrial equipment. However, buying upgraded garden equipment can get the job done a lot faster with a lot less mayhem to the back and knees. In tight spots, zero turn mowers can really make life easier. They are not merely for acerage, but work well in the city and the suburbs due to irregularly shaped lots. Mowing around architectural and water features can certainly be a challenge.

Whatever you decide, remember that time equals money, so it may be worth the extra investment to buy the right tools.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Heard of Stock Photos? Try Stock FOOTAGE!

Sometimes, when you are making a documentary or video online, or are writing an article, having more than just good pictures are key. Sometimes you want to have a multimedia approach and use video. It is not practical to source all of your own animal stock footage, for example. You would be very limited to the animals wandering around in your yard.

Now, you can obtain stock footage online from All videos are available compatible with QuickTime 7. The rights to many are such that you can use them free of charge. You can watch them online or download them to your desk top.

I seem to recall that cult film maker Ed Wood used a lot of stock footage in his movies. In fact, Plan 9 From Outer Space involved a giant squid just because he happened to find a film of a squid on a rack at the studio. The big explosion at the end of the movie was decided upon because he found an Atom Bomb going off in another can of stock film. Imagine what you could piece together yourself, albeit with slightly better results. At least, that is what I am hoping.

Monday, June 01, 2009

This Week on Satellite

In 1945, Leo McCarey was named "Employee of the Year." He had one of the largest salaries in the United States that year, $1,113,035 to be exact, for directing Going My Way. Tonight on Turner Classic Movies, which is channel 256 on Direct TV, you'll see some of his other works as well.

On the other end of the Directv system, is American Movie Classics, which plays a mix of true classic films and cult classics. Something on the total opposite end of the spectrum from the works of Leo McCarey is Road House.

Road House stars Patrick Swayze, and is one of the darnedest movies to play on DirectTV. It was made into a cult classic because of its impossibly cheesy dialogue and the seriousness to which Swayze tackles his role in such a ridiculous premise. It is on Friday. Catch it on channel on your Direct TV system.

Whichever choice you make for your couch potato moments, you are sure to be entertained. You can either be enriched by a classic, or watch a movie to check it off your list to say you actually did it!