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8/27/12

Passive Solar Prefab House Kits Updates, With Rain.

Wow. This week went by fast.

Handsome Husband made a quick trip out to our passive solar prefab home.
It's a mess.

Albeit awaiting septic, we're trying to ready for our return home. There's a *lot* of organizing to be done before we finally are finished with our prefab home construction!

Handsome Husband sent back blurry, disastrously messy photos of what the prefab looks like right now, and no I'm not going to share them!
; )
Ok fine here's a few.

And here's a few of the passive solar prefab house when it was a tad more cleaned up, because I HAVE MY DIGNITY, folks. ; ) What is interesting for me to see are all the exposed SIP (structural insulated panels)- the green on the walls, before we skinned it with plywood! What a difference!

I can't wait to get the prefab house back under control, everything put away and pretty once again (much less those old bedspreads off that are there to protect the furniture!) when I get back...

He also finished installing all the solar evacuated tubes, so that when we arrive we will be fully ready for heating the prefab's slab and hot water through the winter!

Also: Prefab Home In New Mexico Update
The quote from the distributor came in for this passive solar prefab home, and is right on target with our "average quotes" pricing I list on the web site, which greatly pleases me as know that the further west one goes, the more expensive material and labor costs can often be.

Prefab Home Customization
Our prefab passive solar homes (Green Modern Kits, Green Cottage Kits for you traditionalistas, and Green Cabin Kits for ye funky mod cabinistas) can be customized to a certain extent, usually even just with the client's contractor.  I even customized our own prefab house a bit- we flipped the kitchen and dining area, and adjusted the utilities space a tad to accommodate our larger off grid solar and water systems.

This prefab client wants to reconfigure the modern prefab cabin Dogtrot Mod in that instead of having one main living area, and one smaller sleeping area... to instead possibly have one main living area and two smaller sleeping areas.
Dogtrot Mod prefab from Green Cabin Kits-
the separate sleeping area, times two?

I have no idea how they envision placing those two areas, if they do decide to do it. You will have to see for yourself... when and if she starts blogging, I'll post a link!

Back At The Energy INefficient 150 Year Old In-Town Ramshackle...
The French Kid left, but not before, on her last day, she overcame her fear and insisted,
"I Vant To Hold A Chee-kun."
Mission accomplished.

Today we are supposed to be flitting about the Bay with a bunch of people, eating crabs, sipping beer, and frolicking along the sand bar with The Deltaville H's. They have an amazing, historic Chesapeake Bay Deadrise... y'all have seen pictures here, haven't you?
The H's, and their Deadrise.
Well, that's all good and fun except... 
We have a Nor'Easter sittin' right on top o' us.
Thunder cracks! Lightning whacks! The wind blew cold, wet, and sideways.

Discussion turned to moving the party off the water.

I: "C'MON... YOU CALL THIS A STORM???"

We moved the party.
After alllll this incessant summer of heat, glare and 110 degrees, I can't think of a nicer way to spend the day.
Off the water, happily hunkered down at the H's as the storm raged, we sprawled, playing island music and feasting while the children built tent cities and played We Are Wolves within.

The thunder rolled, we feasted...
It was fine, and mellow.


A Dag. Good. Swingin'. Evening.
(Thanks Justin for the tip on this great Billie Holiday video!)

Reading Club:
Caught mah child reading
"Bloom County: Penguin Dreams"
to her chicken.

"If sustainability costs you more, you're doing it wrong" From Forbes.
A business article focusing on companies' supply chains, it also warrants residential / personal study. The more we can talk about the lifestyle changes, the energy input (think: canning your own food) that yes, takes more time, but reaps cost effective organic food for your family over the year... the more we talk about it, the more it can influence others to take steps closer to doing more in their own lives... I found the data on how operating costs were reduced just by interacting with vendors and talking about waste reduction, etc. led to increase in savings and productivity in others. We can apply that in our own lives!

Homeschool:
General
3rd Grade Faves This Week
Along with multiplication facts and place holder practice, we're exploring measurement. Ancient Greece & Rome, China are all old hat now.
4th Grade Faves This Week
  • Virginia region / geography pages on SOL Pass
I feel the chill of fall nipping at my elbows, approaching, quickly, behind me.
No one else seems to feel its chill... I keenly do.
Time to sweep up this mess and head home.

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8/20/12

Preparing To Return To The Passive Solar Prefab Home


I Heard The Geese Again This Morning, And Again, I Looked Up, And Overhead, South They Flew...
Likewise, We're Preparing To Return To Our Passive Solar Prefab Home.

Off Grid Passive Solar Prefab Home:
"Yo, Where's Mah Family? Don't they like construction dust?!?"


The pull to migrate back to the off grid passive solar home is overwhelming... but first we must button up the old In-Town Ramshackle for winter and finish some items on the off grid prefab home.  I thought to myself, looking at the fig with its second crop ripening, "When the old fig bears twice, it's time to head home."

[Back, in the prefab: WHAT A MESS!]
Handsome Husband meets with the septic people regarding renewing the permit and final decisions tomorrow. So he headed out early from the Ramshackle, journeying to the passive solar prefab house, and was able to add the rest of the solar evacuated tubes for our radiant heat in the prefab's slab and hot water, adding all of the array for winter use.


I also handed him a chore: seeding for fall / winter vegetables.
Because, chiles, it's mid-August. Time to get crackin' on the winter garden.


Heading Home
We're not the only ones traversing geography... sadly, the time of the French Exchange Student comes to an end, and she is headed home.  Grosses bisoux, A., tu me manques beaucoup! A bientôt!
Makin' crepes.
It May Be August, But Fall Hurries Towards Us.
Visiting friends are already saying, "I can't wait to visit the prefab in fall, let's cook and cook and make stews and roasts and be cozy."

Like me, they love the energy efficiency even in severe temperatures; and like me, they adore the old happy warm cook stove, and the cooking.


Soon a pot of beans will be simmering, soon hearty healthy stews, soon pans and pans of cornbread...


So let's enjoy these last summer days as they wane: fresh dill, seafood, grapes plucked off the vine, and pool parties for the French and USA teens.
 




Speaking of pool parties, my nephews wanted to come to A.'s party but his band was playing GWAR B-Q.
Yes, GWAR B-Q.
Oh, the childrenz these days...


In Prefab Home News... (Oh wait. Am I actually on topic?)
We have finished the final prefab house quote for the New Mexico prefab house project, and they meet with their contractor this week. They are building a Dogtrot Mod from our sister modern prefab home line, Green Cabin Kits.
A passive solar modern prefab house,
our Dogtrot Mod from Green Cabin Kits
,
in New Mexico.
Details soon.

The great news regarding this prefab house project is that the client is a teacher who is very excited about blogging. I know *you're* thrilled because then you can follow another one of our prefab house kit projects where someone is actually blogging (no one ever wants to blog!) and no longer have to listen to my off topic rambling! Yay for all of you!

Speaking of off topic rambling...
"Aaaaaah! She never stops!"
Reading Club

Homeschool Notes
I am realizing that homeschool is like getting set up for chickens. If you don't have a good foundation and haven't thought it through, it can be a disaster. But if you start with a good set up (most things in place, I still research every day for new information), your stress and loss of opportunity are minimized, and you can actually enjoy it. Uh, when they're not whining...

I find ourselves using much more math throughout the day- even when I went to the pool with Pipsqueak 2 last week, as we walked along the edge I would say, "Hey, it says 3'9". How many inches IS that?" And we would go through the logic, that if there were 12 inches in a foot, then 2 feet would be 24, then 3 feet would be 36, then you add nine...

This week I am actually liking homeschool. We struggle through the mornings, yes I spend way too much time finding information, but then we score SOL rote gold, and, my panic abated, review it, then find even more stuff. I also spend days on 2-3 subjects at a time, but usually every day a little math- like math and science, then math and social studies... Also I've found "time outs" are a great time to plop a worksheet or study text in front of them. It switches their mood from sulking to learning- it actually seriously works well. 

Hope some of it sticks, but here are some useful things we saw this week:
In general: 
"I'm tawkin' TO you, not AT you!"
"Blah, blah, blah...! Talk to the paw..."
Potato Gun Science Project.
Because science and math are
SO much more interesting
when you can shoot it.

3rd Grade:
Ancient Greek And Roman History
Mali: http://teachers.henrico.k12.va.us/itrt/3rdcivil.html
Math: 
Stay with me. We're just
slowly climbing some
ed-u-ma-cation links.

4th Grade:
Math: Changing Fractions Into Decimals
Virginia History

English:
And more off topic RECIPES from this week! Becauase durned it, it's my blog and I can be off topic from prefab green construction if I want to! ; )

Alix's Crepes (30 crepes)
600 grams of flour
1,5 liter of milk
4 spoons of oil
6 eggs
a pinch of salt

Whisk together, pour thinly into a pan, when ready, flip. The crepe may be filled with anything- but you add things only on one side- then start rolling on the opposite side.  We cut them up and quickly serve hungry teens on one plate, for all to grab, as we keep making crepe after crepe... until everyone is done!
 
 
 

Molly's Salsa
Adapted from a topping for chicken on What's Gaby Cooking, except Molly...
- Adds diced onion when she sautees a bunch of different peppers and corn
- Has really chunky fresh tomatoes & avocado

*Delicious* and when you run low, you can always just cut up more tomato & avocado, stir it up and VOILA!

And by the way: The French Kid might leave for now, but we have decided to keep her.
A group of families has decided, with us, to extend another tour to her and her family next year.
More... on that... later.

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8/13/12

Time To Think About Heading Home To The Prefab House

Saw The First Flock Of Geese Migrating...
We heard honking, looked up, and right over our heads, low, they flew.


Time To Think About Migrating Home To The Passive Solar Prefab.

Fortunately there has been progress on finishing the SIP (structural insulated panels) walls on the interior of the prefab modern house.


However, with the storms that blew through in June, local building professionals are overwhelmed. Our electrician has a backlog of 20 generators to install before he can turn his focus to us.  The septic that was supposed to be installed in July? Hasn't happened. It's time for us to return all our focus on this prefab project- fall will be here soon.
At the In-Town Ramshackle?
Summer may be waning, so we make the most of it.


Architecture Notes: 
Transformers
I love murphy beds and furniture that has multiple purposes... and am really liking how we're using the third bedroom in the In-Town Ramshackle. 

To the world, as they enter through the front porch, it appears a parlor; and, as it is within the closed area where air conditioning reaches, we entertain there, often. Just last night friends dropped by on their way home from dinner for an unexpected, delightful evening sitting around the glass and marble table, drinking wine and laughing...

What they don't know is that when they depart I sliiiiiide the simple, sleek couch out, open the discrete wooden doors on one wall, and suddenly my bed is ready, my dressers and closet are exposed, and this parlor becomes, until dawn, my bedroom. I love it!
Ready for guests to spend the evening
with glasses clinking,
talking late into the night.
Ready for bed.
The Doors
In the In-Town Ramshackle, with childrenz, dawgs, feral cats and chickens rushing potential guests at every approach, I have a new tactic. It began when, with the spate o' 110 degree days, we closed off the front door, the interior hall door, and bathroom, thus cooling the top two bedrooms, and, cool air following physics and descending, the third bedroom, beneath.

The rest of the Ramshackle remained Southern Summer heavy, still, with windows gaping, hoping to catch a stray breeze, it smoldered, oven-like, with thick air.

I soon realized this partitioning had a second purpose: Guests could now arrive, unmolested, through the front porch, while the indoor enthusiastic menagerie was contained (in fine furnishing and comfort albeit in the heat) beyond.
Enthusiastic canine welcoming committee,
on the OTHER side o' this door.

But.
To traverse from the parlor to the kitchen, in that second half of the house,  to then return with wine and cheeses, glasses clinking, fluttering linen, and mounds of fruit, carefully displayed on awkward platters, all to welcome guests... This tucked within ten fingers, my elbows, defensive, forward as the procession teetered, navigating skeptically through the complaining beasts, towards the front... The hounds clued in on their containment. They began their attempts to slide past me as I, with one finger carefully balancing the bounty, tried to resolutely turn the old creaky doorknob without dropping the tray.

Then I discovered a back way.

Through the bathroom.

The bathroom entrance, off the secured area, has a normal farmhouse door.
BUT THE SIDE DOOR, once you're in the bathroom, is puzzlingly a venetian sliding wood contraption. Which I now find very useful. Like a good basketball player, I carry the Party Ball O' Food through the kitchen, fake to the right, then careen quickly through the left, down the hallway court and SLAM DUNK my way through the bathroom, sliding that wooden door shut, look around for a split second and go,
"Wow. This is ridiculous. I am standing in my bathroom with a platter and wine and I SWEAR this has to be a Fawlty Towers episode... Somewhere, out there, a Briton is laughing and secretly filming this for BBC..."


I take a deep breath, smile, and grandly step through the farmhouse bathroom door, making my entrance through the hallway to entertain our guests beyond.
Ta.
Da.


Homeschool Happenings
Science this month involves measurements, documentation, hypotheses, graphs...
Each child got to chose their own science experiment, of which to measure, write, and document their findings.
One child is using these science terms to make cookies.
The other? 

A potato gun.
Sounds innocuous enough... probably even eco-friendly.
I mean: POTATOES, folks.

Research, as the child wrote his hypothesis and a list of items to acquire, showed that maybe this Dinky Spud Gun might be a little more powerful than I thought.


I had envisioned measuring distance, velocity... all kinds of educational data in all types o' graphs...
Now my thoughts turned to the end of our quiet lot, and the potential trajectories' end: 
The Federal Goverment's Post Office.
Why yes, that them thar, right beyond the hens
IS The Federal Post Office!
But seriously, how far can this Potato Thing-A-Mah-Jig shoot?

I'm just sitting back, mentally ticking off the potential felonies if this science project goes wrong...

Imagine taking THIS into a school classroom.

The week will be filled with Data Collection of potato guns and cookies, alike.

Homeschool links: In case you were wondering what sites I was using this week:

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8/6/12

Passive Solar Prefab SIP Home Visited By Handsome Husband, As Summer Wanes

Our Energy Efficient Passive Solar Prefab Home,
Continuing Work Covering The Interior Of The
SIP (Structural Insulated Panels).

Handsome Husband Paid A Visit To The Passive Solar Off Grid Prefab Home 


The guys are finally covering the interior structural insulated panels (SIP).
See the green? That's the SIP, still exposed on the
roof panel. Walls have now been covered with plywood.
And, like everyone, the guys are also taking time off for vacation. This last month of summertime beckons us all to wander from the heat.
After His Visit To The Land, Handsome Husband Returned To Us At The In-Town Ramshackle, Where We Wait Out The Finishing Construction On The Passive Solar Prefab Home



I explained to someone today:
"Well, near the end of June I packed up to volunteer for my children's sailing camp- thought I'd arrive a few days early to settle in, stay a few days later so I wouldn't have to deal with weekend beach traffic... packed a few old shorts and bathing suits to wear in the water as I volunteered... Yep, that was June 18th-ish, and I've been here ever since!"

Permaculture Notes:
Old heritage grape vine on the left,
coop on the right,
and chickens in the middle.



Of Flocks And Vines
It made sense to locate the chickens around the large old crepe myrtles and fig bushes.

In years past I had observed how chickens protected our fruit trees in our urban back yard from trespassing squirrels; and the fruit trees and shrubs, in turn, provide protection, shade, and treats for the hens.

Next to the chicken area, on the other side of the fence, is an old, old grape vine. The grape vine thrives- in the open lot, it receives plenty of Deltaville breeze and sun, while, again, the hens run off birds or squirrels- so I am happily picking plenty of grapes from one or two vines, enough for jam, for eating, and to share with any wildlife brave enough to approach the hen gauntlet!
 

No spraying or nets necessary.
Pretty cool, huh?

Note: The heady smell of a large bowl freshly picked Concord grapes is... its own perfume, and no artificial grape additive can ever replicate its delicious potency.
YES that is I, pickin' grapes in mah nightgown.
What.

Reading Club:
For all those enmeshed in preservation and revitalization efforts, I dedicate this song to you, in that you all get a visit from (investor) angels.


Tomorrow begins the First Day Of Official Homeschooling. 
All summer long I have had the children do a little math, reading, and writing for 1-2 hours each day, with science and history and German thrown in.
But tomorrow? Tomorrow begins following the Official SOL Curriculum plus everything else. I'm nervous.
I have carefully bookmarked 50+ sites and resources...
Ready or not, here we go.

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