Blog-o! Notes from

Wed, 25 Apr 2012

I need some grown-up shoes. I have sneakers and Docs and Blundstones but I don't have anything medium-nice to wear with skirts or to dress up a pair of pants.

The Walking on a Cloud catalogue came today; these are the shoes I cut out to pin up in my locker:

I might even buy a pair.

[Posted at 22:32 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 28 Nov 2010

Dear Santa,

I know I don't actually believe in you, and no-one buys me Christmas gifts except my mother who doesn't have Internet access, and my husband who refuses to buy me anything I ask for on account of "it wouldn't be a surprise". But I'm putting this up here anyway. Just in case.

  • I've always wanted a name necklace, and I especially like this red acrylic one.
  • Electric pencil sharpener. I know it's not eco. I just want one.
  • Squirrel-proof bird feeder
  • Jo Malone perfume. You choose the fragrance. (Scented lotion would be fine too.)
  • Votive candles. Now that the children are old enough to not do anything stupid, I've rediscovered candles. I like the expensive ones with good quality fragrances.
  • 24-pack ultra-fine tip Sharpies. All those lovely colours.
  • Quality Street chocolate. Always welcome.
  • I'd love a clicky IBM-style keyboard. ThinkGeek has one, although I'd be just as happy with one with labelled keys.

Thanks in advance, Santa. Remember, I'm the house with the cookies and brandy.

Respectfully yours,

[Posted at 16:29 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 17 Nov 2009

No-one is actually going to get me any of this stuff, because we don't do presents for grown-ups, but that hasn't stopped me from accumulating a list of material desires.

Cool skullcandy earphones. I have these lame over-the-head earbud-ish earphones which always fall out of my ears, and I'm pretty sure most of the sound goes somewhere other than into my head. I'm torn between big fat earphones so everyone can tell I'm listening to music (and not to them fighting, say), or little wee earbuds that I can stash in my purse. Only if they come with a little wind-ey holder for the wire, though. I get so tired of unwinding headphone wires.

Freddie Demistache. I love moustaches, I love Freddie. I love jewellery. I think this is brilliant.

Starbucks Takeout Mug, Tall Size. Blake has his giant Venti mug which he brings every time we go to Starbucks, and I feel left out.

Oui by Lancome perfume. I haven't worn perfume since Delphine was born and I miss it.

A waffle iron.

What Not To Wear on DVD. I know, it seems like an odd show to buy, but ever since we cancelled cable I haven't been able to watch it—it's not downloadable anywhere. (The problem with downloading shows is that the less geeky they are, the less likely anyone has uploaded them.) Anyway, I miss Stacy and Clinton and all their advice and ideas.

[Posted at 21:55 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 20 Mar 2009

I looked and looked for some cool gifts for Blake's birthday, and largely failed. (I ended up getting him a couple of books and some chocolate, always welcome around here.) However, I did find a whole heap of stuff I want! (This is the problem with shopping, and why I don't do it as a rule.)

Here is my Lee Valley wish list. Some glue to fix my wobbly chairs; some flashlights in case of a blackout (extras so the girls can lose a couple); some heavy-duty magnets to hold those giant construction paper projects to the fridge; a solar-powered radio (see above re: blackout); a sharpener which may or may not wreck my knives; a completely gratuitous gingerbread house mold I may never use but which represents the kind of Christmas Mom I would like to be; and of course the aforementioned mandoline. Nothing really cool for Blake though.

Then I checked ThinkGeek. They have lots of cool stuff that Blake might like, but we have a small house and stuff has to be really awesome to earn a place in here, and I just wasn't sure he would like any of the stuff enough. But I found some stuff I like: an MP3 player for the girls; an awesome keyboard (with clicky keys!); a gratuitous but cool alarm clock; more fridge magnets; another emergency radio; a clock to help the girls learn how to tell time (whilst also not being criminally ugly!); and a thing to tell us how much power we're wasting with our three computers and my stubborn refusal to light my home with greenish-grey fluorescent lights.

[Posted at 21:42 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 22 Jan 2009

Our house is pretty chilly in winter, and it's quite clear that one of the weak links is the windows. You can tell from the avalanche of freezing cold air that rolls off the windows as soon as you open the blinds*. So this winter we decided to try that plastic wrap stuff that you tape around the windows and then blowdry to tighten it up and make it all smooth. It's kind of ghetto but we can't afford to replace the windows, so it will have to do, and I was determined to do it right -- there is a house nearby with plastic on the windows and they didn't prep it properly so the tape has come off and it's hanging down and it looks really ghetto.

There were two brands at the store, 3M and another brand from Quebec. This whole post would be much more useful if I remembered what the brand of the other stuff was; anyway, it comes in a blue box and it's from Quebec. We bought the two-window kit by 3M and the five-window kit from the other company; both kits were about $35, so you can see that the 3M stuff would have to be much better to be worth the extra money.

Here were the differences between the two products:

  • the 3M stuff had slightly wider double-sided tape, and the tape backing had red text printed on it - that doesn't seem like a big thing but our window frames are white so the white-only backing on the other tape made it a little harder to find the end of the tape. 3M advertise that "the difference is in the tape", and indeed that's one of the things they are known for, but apart from the slight difference in width and the backing, I couldn't perceive a difference in the tape. Maybe the other brand will start peeling off in February or something.
  • the instructions on the other stuff were more thorough. At first Blake interpreted that to mean that the other stuff was harder to install, but installation was identical for the two products, it's just that 3M tried to make it sound easy.
  • the non-3M film was thinner. I suppose that would make it more fragile but I didn't have trouble with it breaking, and it heat-shrunk better. I doubt the width of the film makes much difference to insulation; I expect insulation is mainly furnished by the air between the window and the film.

So this is what you do:

  1. Clean the window frame. I used a solution of water, dish soap and vinegar, and a cloth diaper. (I cleaned the window too because I'm not going to get at it for a few months.) Then I wiped it with rubbing alcohol - that's what the non-3M stuff said to do.
  2. Put the tape on the window frame. After the first couple of pieces I figured out that you need to peel a couple of inches off the backing paper before you put the tape up because it's really hard to start it when it's up on your window.
  3. Cut the plastic film to size. We ended up with lots of extra film, but I'm not sure how much extra they give you. Our windows might just be small. Anyway, give yourself three or four extra inches on each side just to be safe.
  4. Peel the backing paper off the tape. This is kind of fun.
  5. Adhere the film to the tape. You can actually stick it on fairly gently to start with, and then pull it off, stretch it and restick it until you have it as tight and smooth as possible. Then press it firmly onto the tape once you're happy with it.
  6. This is the fun part: use a blow dryer to heat the plastic so it shrinks like a giant shrinkydink and pulls all the remaining wrinkles out.
  7. Trim the excess film. Carefully. I was very conservative and left lots of extra because I didn't want to risk puncturing the film. Your mileage may vary.
  8. Stand back and admire your work. I'm really happy with how ours turned out; you can't see it at all from outside, and it's barely noticable from inside.

It took me about half an hour for each window, and I did it over a week or so. Kind of a big production and pain in the ass. I think it's helping with the cold thing though. Our big problem (apart from the aforementioned avalanche of cold) was condensation, and there's much less of it now, so clearly that cold is being stopped. I'm not sure if it's going to save us $70 in utility bills, though. But we'll probably do it again next year just for the increased comfort.

Anyway, so that's what I learned about insulating window film. Hopefully this is helpful to someone somewhere.

* Incidentally our blinds are awesome. We have honeycomb blinds from Hunter Douglas and they block a heck of a lot of cold. We saved a bunch on natural gas after we installed them, which is good because they were about a million dollars. I expect another brand of the same product would be equally effective, but the Hunter Douglas ones are very well made. I'm happy with them. (I wish we had got the top-down/bottom-up mechanism on all the blinds, though; the only window we didn't get it for was the living room, and sometimes I would like to open just the top of that, like in the morning in summer when I'm not dressed yet.)

[Posted at 22:29 by Amy Brown] link