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Have You Seen The Burning House Project?

Fact about me: Fire is probably the thing I am most afraid of. I can sit near and enjoy a campfire, but I won’t sit too close and I have a healthy respect for the fact that the cheerful crackling blaze toasting my marshmallow could melt my face right off. So I was pretty fascinated by The Burning House Project, a newish blog that made headlines last month and is still making the rounds. The premise? People send in photos along with a list of what they’d grab if their home went up in flames. As it turned out, what I thought would be a stimulating look into what people care about is more like a lookit mah cool stuff fest.

Will you be so hip when you behold the scarring of your skin?

Things people would make a grab for in the event of a fire include: my favorite vinyl (kraftwerk/kruder & dorfmeister/stone roses/dj shadow/pixies/smiths/blumfeld) “Grenson x Albam city brogues (you never know when you’ll want to look sharp, house or no house)” “the one and only dollar left from my first trip to the us twenty years ago” etc.

Really? Here’s my list:

  • La Paloma.

If I felt like conditions were safe, I’d shoo out all the cats, grab my handbag (if it hadn’t been in a convenient place to grab with La Paloma). Even safer? My work laptop. Done. Because every other single thing in my home can be replaced and isn’t worth risking my life for. Even photographs. I still have the memories. Sentiment be damned. I look at the lists of things people claim they would try to rescue and I balk, but maybe that’s because I find fire so terrifying and I have a child. And yet, I’m still enjoying The Burning House Project. What redeemed the site for me? This entry in particular, written by someone who actually was in a fire, which ends thusly:

Word to all the folks with big piles of stuff: You have way less time than you think.

What would you REALLY risk your life for if your life was indeed on the line?

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The $3 Hall Tree? Yup!

For some reason, really cool, really cheap DIY projects using scavenged materials keep showing up in my inbox. Okay, the reason is you perfectly wonderful people! This find came to me via the lovely Leane:

Looks good, no? The handy folks at The Corner Lot put together an entire hall tree or entryway bench or whatever you want to call it using old door jambs and real beadboard. Stuff from their basement, too. What cost $3? The wood dowels that make a perfect drying rack for wet mittens and socks.

All that’s left to do is finish it, and I hope that there’s a new post on The Corner Lot when they do. Don’t leave us hanging!

What have you done on the cheap lately?

This Old House Beautiful?

Today’s post is a shorty because my grandparents just rolled into town. Just about the only house and home topic on my mind today is how when I glanced at the cover of my latest This Old House magazine, I thought I was looking at House Beautiful.

living room

Did I miss an editorial change? I’m used to seeing hardcore manly power tool reviews and full on tutorials teaching things like how to install a deck or water heater. This past issue, however, was full of cozy storage solutions and cutesy upgrades that involved decorating rather than building (or, my favorite, demolition). Not that I’m complaining, mind. It was just… weird.

The $243.40 Toaster

A wonderful post over at Carpe Diem illustrates just how far we’ve progressed when it comes to the price of consumer goods. Of course, when I say progressed, I only mean that we can get just about any tool or accessory for the home (be it curtains, couches, or the old fashioned toaster) for much less than our grandparents would have paid. Relatively, that is. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is for the economists to decide. Being that one can buy a toaster for a mere $12, I’m just fascinated by the overall difference in price.

Toaster

Observe… The cost of Sears Toaster in 1949 was $16.95, which doesn’t sound like much but adds up to a whopping 13.5 hours of work at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $1.26. Whereas the cost of a Sears toaster in 2009 is $19.99, or 1.1 hours of work at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $18.03. That explains a lot about why my grandfather will repair a toaster that’s on the fritz while my father will just toss the old one and go and buy a new one at Wal*Mart. Me? I don’t have a toaster; I just use the oven.

What? No One Told Me I’d Have to Read!

While actually buying a home is exciting, the whole looking-researching-looking-financing-looking-offering cycle can be a real drag. Add to that the document gathering and the meetings with people like mortgage financiers, and there’s nothing LESS exciting than buying a home. I can’t say that reading up to acquaint yourself with the ins and outs of the home buying process will make it less of a drag, but does make the whole to-do a lot less stressful! Here are the five books The Beard and I found truly helpful:

Home Buying For Dummies

I used to hate the ‘Dummies’ book because of the implication, but Home Buying For Dummies turned out to be really useful. The fact is that the world of real estate can be overwhelming, and this book breaks it all down into easy-to-swallow chunks.

Home Buyer's Checklist

The Beard preferred the Home Buyer’s Checklist, which was fine by me. One of us had to have a list of questions to ask sellers and their reps, after all, and I was more concerned with the financial end of things.

100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyers Should Ask

Ditto on 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask. There’s also a corresponding book for sellers by the same author…tricky!

10 Steps to Home Ownership

At my very core, I’m lazy, which is why I love any complicated how-to manual that comes with simple fill-in-the-blanks worksheets. 10 Steps to Home Ownership is more of a pre-buying book, but knowing if you’re ready to buy is an important part of buying.

The  106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make

I didn’t agree with everything in The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make, but I liked the commonsense, easy-to-understand way the author describes what worked for him. Fair warning: He’s a house flipper, so his advice doesn’t always apply to people who are buying a home in which to live.

If you bought or built a house and had a favorite book you relied on for guidance, tell us about it in the comments!

Read it and weep…

…and by weep, I mean release your envy in the form of tears as you peruse Born Rich. I’m a confirmed re-user, recycler, thrifter, and simple living advocate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live it up vicariously through people who have adopted a wholly different approach to life. Sure, I go on a little buying bender every now and again, but the stuff I buy is usually stuff I need.

But when I decide to do a little virtual window shopping, there’s no way I’m going to be satisfied with a trip to Bernie & Phyl’s. I prefer to dream big when I’m dreaming about things I wouldn’t buy even if I had the money no matter how uber-fantastic they are! I can admit that stuff can be fun, useful, and awesome to look at even if I’m trying to keep my own stuff level to a minimum…right?

My pets are SO not that pampered

For example, I’m sure that riding in the car would be a lot less traumatic for my kitties if they were traveling in a “hand-made Global Gallivanter trunk is crafted in espresso Napa leather with reinforced corners and two thick leather straps with brass buckles.” Provided, that is, I got it for free. It’s always like that — the cats love the stupid cat spa because I paid zero bucks for it and hate the cat bed we bought at the vet’s office.

Then there are real gold floors, mother of pearl encrusted XBOXs, giant pirate ship beds, and underwater treadmills. A lot of the stuff on Born Rich is utterly ridiculous…only some of it is stuff I’d consider coveting…but almost all of it is fun to look at. Enjoy!