January 31, 2010

Oh Dear. It Appears I Have The Collecting Bug.

Both my parents are avid scary crazy dedicated antique collectors. While other dads enthusiastically came home with dead deer tied to the top of the car, my parents pulled into our driveway hollering about the late 19th century bonnet chests secured to the top of their Subaru wagon that they bought for a STEAL.  My parents told my sister and I - at the time - they were collecting these pieces for US, for when we started our OWN homes and families. But years later, when we tried to collect on that promise, it was like prying a rope-toy out the the jaws of a pitbull: a little scary.

I grew up in a house full of A LOT of antiques. The house was VERY ANTIQUE-Y. Imagine lots of chests of drawers, lots of inkwells, Longwy, sterling silver pen knives (sterling silver ANYTHING, really), relief molded jugs, oriental carpets, well-porportioned side tables, cranberry glass, and hopefully you get the picture.

In a classic example of the apple falling not that far from the tree, sprouting feet, and RUNNING AWAY, I have always kept a spare home. I DIDN'T WANT STUFF. I didn't used to. But now I do. I may have a mid-century modern version of the collecting bug. I am in love - quite by accident? With Catherine Holm enamel dish ware.  Particularly the platters and bowls.

Image via Library Fashionista, All Rights Reserved

Image below from Emilylohooo, All Rights Reserved

Oh dear.

January 23, 2010

Reduce! Reuse! Buy me a Table!

In our last installment of Holyoke Home's week of local talent, I'm featuring a guy whose furniture is DROOL worthy. And also very swarthy.  It's swarthy AND drool worthy.  So basically, it's furniture that's kind of like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Julian Halpern is a local metal artist and artisan who makes AMAZING furniture:

You can see his other work on his company's website: Steelhead Studios.

All images copyright Steelhead Studios.  All rights reserved.

January 22, 2010

A Week of Local Love!

I am constantly impressed with the local talent here in Holyoke, so I'm featuring a few of my favorites this week.  This is Bugink.  She's an artist.  This is the Bugink Website.  I love her eclectic subject matter and exuberant use of color.  I think her work would fit right in here at Holyoke Home.  The 'close' label on the two last images is my fault, and is not part of the original art work.

All Images copyright by Bugink.  All rights reserved.

January 20, 2010

Local Love

Continuing Holyoke Home's week of Local Love!  I have a thing for handbags and shoes.  Show me a woman who doesn't and I'll show you.....well......a very unusual woman.  Probably unusual in a good way though.   Who needs all these handbags and shoes?! If you're someone who doesn't pine for them, then GOOD FOR YOU! You are clearly a much more evolved person that I am because, hello gorgeous:

These bags are made by a local artisan, El Diablo Shoes, and available for RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICES (Seriously El Diablo? $90 for an all leather bag handmade by you within 1 mile of my house?  You okay over there?) on her etsy shop.

January 18, 2010

Holyoke Local Love - A Week of Local Artists and Artisans

My local friends are amazing and lovely and smart and funny and I would probably have slit my wrists or drowned in a vat of chocolate pudding a LONG time ago without them.  In addition to all their great 'friend-y' qualities, they also have mad professional skills.  I'm going to feature some Local Love this week.  Case in point? Marjidoll.  Check out these incredible collages! I just had to share.

All images copyright Marjidoll.com.  All rights reserved.

January 16, 2010

Another Vintage Find

Remember that AWESOME mid-century enamel bowl I found at Goodwill?  The only reason I noticed its shiny goodness was because I had this sitting on the top shelf of our built-in cupboard, way in the back:

This belonged to Mr. Man's mom way back when.  And it's in EXCELLENT shape.  I fell in love with it when we were packing her up for a move and saved it from spending the next few years in a cardboard box.

January 12, 2010

Vitamin D for Dogs

Apologies for the shaky image.  I had to fuss with the aperture settings on my Nikon D40 to even get this image.

Morgan, our Boston Terrier, follows the sun through the row house all morning until it disappears behind the multi-family building next door.  His routine begins in the library, where he was  - for a BRIEF WHILE - sleeping in a sunny chair (Morgans are not allowed on the furniture. But don't feel sorry for him because he has a more luxurious bed than the humans in the row house. He sleeps on cashmere.)  From the library, he follows the sun to the dining room, and then finally, to the kitchen -  as in the image above - where the sun lingers for a few more precious minutes of Vitamin D intake.

January 8, 2010

I Didn't Know Etsy has EVERYTHING

So I am a little obsessed with the lighting in our historic row house because our taste is very much modern and the house is very much......not that.  So, how to incorporate lighting that  - like Taylor Swift - straddles two aesthetic categories.

Then a friend (Hello Holyoke!) turned me on to this Etsy page.  Drool: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LampGoods

Hello gorgeous!

(image courtesy of LampGoods)

January 4, 2010

Air Sealing The Attic - Post Three, in which we share our Attic Spelunking Adventure

So.  When someone you love is on his belly in the 18-inch high attic crawl space?  And there is a hole in the chimney that empties into the crawl space? Perhaps it is best not to turn on the forced-air furnace? Because maybe the person you love in the attic will - at the same time you send carbon monoxide laden fumes into said contained space - drop his flashlight and start to feel a little...claustrophobic. OR.  Perhaps the person in the attic should let someone know he's in the attic in the first place. BECAUSE HELLO I LOVE YOU. 

No apparent brain damage. Just a few tears shed (by me) at the thought of what could have happened.

Here are some illustrated photos of our row house attic.  In sum, it's in pretty good shape, but some air sealing is definitely in order.

January 1, 2010

Row House Insulation - Post Two

Because we care about the planet AND the size of our heating bill, we plan to insulate our attic. Because at night? When we pad upstairs in our slippers and jammies? Brrrrrrrr! I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder after Ma has put out the hearth fire - I should have a candle in my hand, a night cap on my head, a blind sister named Mary, and a Pa downstairs playing the fiddle. Or whatever. It's cold. Really cold.

A few years ago, the Philadelphia City Planning department wisely funded the creation of this Row House Manual.

We started digging more deeply for information on attic insulation. We spoke to National Fiber (a cellulose insulation manufacturer in Massachusetts!) and dug up a manual on attic insulation based on testing that was done for Philadelphia Row Houses several years ago. Our Holyoke row house attic is a typical of row house attic: it's a long narrow crawl space that's higher in the front than in the back.

Based on our research, the consensus seems to be:
  • We should dense pack cellulose insulation where access for air sealing is not possible. 
  • We should perform air sealing and dense pack cellulose in all other areas (loose cellulose to R-60 is fine, though it has been suggested based on the heights that filling it up would not add much in terms of cost.) 
  • We should make sure the upstairs bathroom has an exhaust fan (none currently.) 
We contacted local insulation contractors (recommended by National Fiber) for bids, and the first bid came in RIDICULOUS. The contractor wanted to build an expensive access hatch in the front bedroom closet, even though we explained it was empirically possible to squeeze in the sky light area. The back of the attic can be accessed by ceiling openings cut in the back bedroom closet and then patched up with sheetrock.

Our municipal utility, Holyoke Gas and Electricity, offers a 0% loan program for up to $5,000 in energy efficiency improvements. We plan to use the program if our application is approved.