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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Home improvement’ Category

Claire Wolfe

Anybody have any idea …?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

… what these are? Or more pertinently, how they were originally used?

They’re tin and appear to be of a kind and vintage with old stamped metal ceilings. I picked up a baggie full of them at a thrift store yesterday for $1.50 and despite what I said about using only items already on hand, I think they’ll have a place in my funky table project. I see gold spray paint in their future.

But I’m curious about their history and purpose.



Claire Wolfe

Catching up (and some ranting)

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

It has been so freakin’ BUSY! I’m sorry for the “lite” posting, but when I do have some time, summer tempts me to spend it elsewhere than the computer.

While articles are being written, doors are also being painted, junk heaps reduced, and projects planned.


I even (I blush to admit) spent time last week prepping artwork to submit to the county fair.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

A new look at Earthineer

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

If you haven’t visited Earthineer in a while, you might want to take a new look.

Dan Adams has recently added the long-awaited marketplace and barter sections where members can trade with each other. Though they’re still new and smallish, he’s got something quite promising there both for “rural engineers” and for foodies. Earthineer is a labor of love for Dan and it shows in the quality of the presentation.

Among other things, he’s planning to build privacy into the trades, so only the parties involved will have long-term records of their transactions.

Also, Dave Duffy has assigned me an article on Earthineer and I’d love to hear some opinions and questions other than my own.

Claire Wolfe

Hoarding building materials?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Carl-Bear observes what he thinks may be a new trend: stockpiling building materials. He’s not sure whether this is a real thing (your opinions requested). But if it is, he’s pretty sure it’s an ominous one.

I was just about to write one of my long, rambly posts about having too much freaking stuff! Among other things, I’m tripping over the boxes of flooring sitting next to the kitchen table. And there’s an old door rescued from a Craftsman house lying smack across the center of the storeroom. The shed in my yard does contain several rolls of tarpaper. Not hoarding, though. I have Actual Uses for these things as soon as I can pull together the time and money. I expect others hereabouts could say the same

But if others are stocking up on 2x4s, insulation, and nails with no near-future plans for such, what do you think’s going on?

Claire Wolfe

Floor Score!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

I scored surplus hardwood plank flooring from an out-of-work contractor.


This is real, 3/4-inch tongue-and-groove hardwood flooring. Not laminate. Not “engineered” hardwood, but the real deal. Ain’t it pretty?

I’ve just laid pieces down on the floor to get an idea of what I might do, so don’t get all bothered yet about things like “wrong” lengths or placement.

I’ve got 2.5 boxes of 2-1/4″ width oak, two boxes of 3-1/4″ width oak and just under two boxes of 4″ Lyptus (a hybrid eucalyptus, plantation-grown in Brazil; sustainable and all that). So I have to get a little creative about how I put it all together. I’ve been messing around with possible layouts.


The two widths of oak work perfectly together. They’re the same brand. I just have to make sure my design doesn’t run me out of one plank width before the other. The Lyptus is more problematic. It’s a different brand and while the oak tongues fit fine into the Lyptus grooves, the Lyptus tongues don’t quiiiiiiiite fit into the oak’s groves. So most likely I’ll end up with a simple Lyptus border and an oak middle to minimize tongue trimming and cussing over fit problems.

This is for an entryway, only 85 square feet. I have about 120 square feet o’ stuff, so should have plenty of flexibility in working out the puzzle.

I had to “cheat” a bit and buy one box of the oak at full retail at a floor store to have enough of both widths. Even so, we’re talking less than $1.70 a square foot overall. Normal is $6-$10 a foot for these materials. Of course the installed cost, figuring wastage, nails, etc. will be closer to $2.50 per square foot, but I won’t complain about that!

Now I have to figure out how to do blind nailing. (And yes, I know there are special gadgets for that, but this is such a small space I doubt it would be worth making two trips to the Big City to rent and return one.)

Anyhow, cool, eh?

Claire Wolfe

I’m not really mechanically inclined …

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

… but sometimes being stubborn and a tad OCD makes up for that.

My “genuine” Amish electric fireplace (and I’m hardly the first to notice how ridiculous that claim is) heats just fine and looks pretty with its red glow and nice oak cabinet. But something is missing; “genuine” faux flame effects.


« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Meet the Clampetts

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

This weekend was the one moment of the year when a certain island full of millionaires “allows” garage sales. Once “allowed,” they do it up right.

If I were a millionaire I think I’d just give all my excess stuff to Goodwill rather than sit out in the hot sun (or rain; but this weekend it was sun) and peddle stuff for a few bux. Nevertheless, 147 households held “official” sales (there’s a map and everything, not to mention an entry fee just to get on the island) and dozens set up unofficial ones.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Evidence that the small-house movement has gotten just too, too trendy

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Five tiny houses currently for sale. Starting at a “mere” $145k and ending at a tres reasonable $1 million. Get ‘em while you can. ;-)

Claire Wolfe

Good people, good things, sad news

Sunday, May 25th, 2014


That there in the foreground is “Saintly Syrup,” pure maple syrup made (so I gather) as a fundraiser for a church in the upper midwest. It arrived last week in a Big Box O’ Stuff, including the unsaintly (but equally welcome, and equally midwestern) Bloody Mary Mix you see behind.

So cool! I knew my correspondent had been spending his snowy spring weekends maple sugaring — but I had no idea he was doing it for a charitable cause. And though he’d hinted I might see a little of the bounty, I was never expecting a precious quart. That’s a lot of maple syrup — especially now that I know how much of my friend’s work went into producing it.

Thank you, Friend-Who-Prefers-Not-to-Be-Named!


Thursday was hectic. I’ve got a big house project looming — the kind where it’s way, way, way too much for me to do myself, and in fact so complicated that a teardown may be wiser than a rebuild. I’m in the process of finding out.

I’ve been having weeks of trouble trying to get contractors out here. Of course, they’re crazy-busy this time of year. Three weeks — not much of nothin’. Then, between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. I suddenly had more phone calls than I usually get in a month plus a multitude of contractors and potential sub-contractors showed up — sometimes unannounced and sometimes repeatedly. Plus a couple of delivery men and a neighbor. This hermit is feeling like she’s taken up residence in Grand Central Station.

In the midst of all this, the guy who mows my lawn pulls into the driveway even though it’s not that time yet. “What now?” I’m grumbling.

Then he comes to the door and says, “I was mowing a lawn down the way and a cop I know stopped to warm me that there’s a thief on the loose. The guy was last seen coming up your street.” He described the thief in detail (having himself encountered the guy earlier in the week). “His MO is to come up to you and be really friendly while he’s actually scoping out your property. I thought I should warn you.”

I never did encounter the thief. If he came near here I’d hope the noisy dogs (at every house) would deter him (not to mention the “Forget the dog; beware of owner” sign in my window). Still, it was a wonderfully neighborly thought.


Fred, the wonderful man who decided to spend the last months of his life doing good deeds, died a week ago today.

His wife asked me, for privacy’s sake, not to reprint his obituary or link to it here, but it’s wonderful. It made me wish more than ever that I’d known Fred in person. Fred was many things that freedomistas aspire to be, and above all, he was a great soul.

In lieu of flowers or contributions, he requests that all who remember him perpetrate “random acts of kindness” to celebrate his life.

Claire Wolfe


Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

And while we’re at the cool little houses, how about some funky treehouses? Including a few you can rent for the night?

(Tip o hat to ML for the creativity and the smiles.)

Claire Wolfe

$20,000 houses

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

From the Rural Studio at Auburn University.

Claire Wolfe

Brink of Freedom

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Lovely subject line, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t describe where the political world stands (no surprise). But it does describe a cool new website and a beautifully laid-out and informative digital magazine.

Brink of Freedom is a great place. It combines a freedomista attitude, high energy, and useful self-sufficiency how-tos.

Michael W. Dean of Freedom Feens turned me on to the site and introduced me to its founder, Josiah Wallingford. (Don’t you love that name?)

Go check it out for yourself. It’s the kind of place you could spend hours. But while you’re here, here’s a little background Q&A with Josiah, as well as links to pdfs of BoF’s January and February editions:

« Read the rest of this entry »



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