Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Bio-mass variety, premium grade pellets, battery back-up, ash removal systems, viewing area, efficiency, aesthetics (for Rob)—sheesh! Who knew there was so much to consider when it came to pellet stoves?? 

Well, several people, it turns out. Most notably, for this space anyway, is our friend Mike Cronomiz of Re: Vision Architecture. Mike helped me to sort out some of the questions I had in trying to find the right stove for our House of Bamboo

I've narrowed it down to a few models: The Harman Advance, the Quadrafire Classic Bay 1200, the Bosca 1500. These are all good stoves in their own ways. I can't wait to get one of these puppies fired up in the living room. The garage has been cleared for pellet storage. Hopefully we won't run into a pellet shortage. I've heard that there could be one since the new home industry is experiencing a slump (like everything else). Less new construction means less sawdust and other wood product waste. Of course this also means fewer trees cut. Quite the dilemma. Who knows. Maybe some time in the near future we'll figure out how to create fuel from our bamboo grove.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Deadlines and Options and Pellets, Oh My!

Nothing like a deadline to get your a** in motion!

Now that we have a date for Renovation Nation, we can no longer take our own sweet time to get the next project going. 

I'm now in high gear looking at pellet stoves and solar arrays. A pellet stove installation seems like the most pragmatic way to go: One item to install; fewer people needed; can be done in a day or two. Installing a solar array is way more complex, particularly with this kind of timeframe. Oh yeah, and we would also need to put up a new roof first.

My focus right now is comparing the many types of stoves available. We're definitely leaning more towards a wood pellet burning stove. It would be terrific if I could find one that also burns other types of fuel (corn, olive pits, etc.). Since the housing market slump began, it is been bandied about that the sawdust needed to make pellets will become scarce. The other option for a stove is a straight wood burning one. 

The downside to this option is that wood can be much more harmful to the air quality than pellets. The upside is that we could alway burn our furniture if we had to. So many things to consider. Nothing is ever just this way or that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rob Fleming and Chris Pastore on Internet Radio

Well, I finally made it to the radio. Imagine a weekly radio show dedicated to sustainability. Nica thought it was pretty good and pretty funny. The podcasts can be downloaded at

Renovation Nation

Renovation Nation. That's where we've been living for some time. Now we'll have company. With a camera crew.

Renovation Nation is also the name of the green home renovating program on the Planet Green Network. The program is hosted by Steve Thomas, formerly of This Old House.

What company will we have, you ask (or maybe you don't)? 
Besides being a huge fan of home renovation shows—this one in particular—we've been selected to be a part of  an episode in the near future. You have no idea how hard I'm trying right now not to let my total geek-out excitement come through on this post. I like to think I come across as calm and level-headed in public so I save the geeking out for my immediate family. 

When I told my nine-year-old about appearing on the show she gave me this knowing look, then said, "this is like a dream for you, isn't it?"

Why, yes dear, yes it is.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cosmetic Progress!

Finally, the holidays are over, and I have a minute to post new pictures before the new school semester begins in 13 hours.

Remember the truly grody kitchen? I'm pleased to say that the current state is much more enjoyable and doesn't make me gag. Not exactly mid-century modern, but sustainable products were used.

The floors are bamboo. If we could've only used the grove in our yard—that would have been super sustainable! Alas, we purchased these planks made from plants harvested after eight years of growth.

We went back and forth with counter material (I wanted Quartz, he wanted laminate). I read somewhere that it has been discovered that granite counters can off gas. Good thing we couldn't afford them! I found a manufacturer of bamboo countertops (Totally Bamboo), so that's what we went with. They're very nice. Warm. Very much like butcher block.

I decided not to use a toxic sealer, so every few months I spread pure tung oil on them. Try asking for tung oil at your local Home Despot (yes, I said Despot) and check out the puzzled looks you get.

The living and dining rooms are taking shape as well. So much has happened that sometimes I forget that we've only been here for six months. 

Below are some photos of the rest of the main level.

View from kitchen to dining/living area

View of entry way

Next month we'll be tackling a new roof in preparation for the solar array!