What rooms do we really use?

lavender_lassJuly 11, 2011

This was on another post and I thought it was an excellent question. What rooms do we really use? How many spaces do we wish were larger? Are there some areas you don't use at all...or wish you could combine?

For me, I'd like to have a big kitchen, with an eating area and a small seating area, next to a wood stove. A big living room, with a fireplace and lots of comfy seating and a fun place to converse, watch TV or just read a book. I don't need a big master suite, just a cozy bedroom and (hopefully) a claw foot tub in the bathroom. We don't have a master bath now and it's worked out just fine.

Oh, and let's not forget storage! Large, walk in pantry, a broom closet, a mudroom and lots of closets. I don't have a tons of clothes, so a smaller bedroom closet is okay, but I'd love to have a big linen cabinet...and a place to sew, with storage for all the sewing items that needs to be close by.

So, what about you? If you were designing a home today, what rooms would you want to include? If you were redesigning your home, how would you redo the space? There's no wrong answer, just your answer :)

Here's a few of my favorite kitchen ideas...love the blue and white!

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I agree with you about the kitchen and seating area. Lately, I've been thinking a room for some exercise equipment would be nice. I don't know if I'd really use it, but I miss walking and it's just too hot to do it right now.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 11:20PM
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I think if I had had the option here I would have liked the sewing /guest room to be larger. We did add 16 inches to the length of the room. I would have liked it to have been wider. BUT it is what it is and I am really happy to be privileged to not only have my own studio BUT a sewing room too.

WE have a smallish 4 by 4 walk in pantry with one corner off of it for the doorway. We have a 5 by 6 walk in closet. I like that and use it for more than just clothes. Tall book shelf is in there and storage for extra bedding and rugs and curtains as I like to change my curtains for a fresh look now and then.

I love our little sitting space in what is supposed to be the dinning room. I am especially loving the little drop leaf table and find myself using it often. Sitting at it right now.

I am not a fan of wood stoves. I had my fill of them and even the slight bit of smoke that escapes from them bother me. I cough and get headaches from it. I do enjoy our little ventless gas heater and the view of the flame. And for some reason it does not bother me at all.

I was lucky to kind of pick and choose with this house since it is a manufactured home. So I pretty much got all I wanted in a house. I really do use every bit of it too on a daily basis. I do like our large master bedroom. It is 12 1/2 by 14 1/2 and to me that feels very large. I like to wake up to the sun on the bed and just lay there for a few minutes to welcome the day. I sit in there on the phone if Joe is in the living room watching TV.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 2:48AM
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We pretty much live in the kitchen, living room & bedroom. No extra space for much else.

I'm like you shades - We got rid of our wood stove after using it to heat our home for years. Loved having a fire to back up to, but was so messy & I had a constant headache & clogged up head from the dust & ashes. Wish I had a basement to put one in - just not in the day-to day main living area. We too built in a ventless gas fireplace & attached an antique mantle around the firebox. Came with a remote control!! One of my very favorite things in the winter.

I don't have a pantry & that is one thing I'd do differently if building again, and I do long for a sewing room too. My 2 spare bedrooms are used frequently by visiting children & grandchildren which is much more important to me right now than a sewing room!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 9:39AM
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storage - I think most homes need more storage. yrs ago a friend of mine bought a house that had a walk in storage room. It stepped up as you walked into it... that made it easier to reach higher up things. She stored tons and tons of stuff in it.

I'm using one of my bdrms for crafts (and sewing if I ever do that again) - and a counter top area for working and wrapping presents. I have 2 tall cabinets for it to store all the 'stuff' for those crafts and wrapping. it also has a 6' or so long closet. That's getting mostly shelves in it. I'm leaving 1 small section (maybe a foot) where something could be hung up. If a guest would have something that needs hung - or if I'd be ironing curtains or a table cloth (ok, don't count on that anymore!) Still I thought I should allow a bit of room for that.
my exerciser will be in there also.

the other end bedroom will be storage in the closet - it has a deeper closet than the other room. I'll probably put my file cabinet in there and then shelves. The room will be for my desk, bookcases and maybe a chair. It'll be weird tho as I have the dresser and dressing table that belonged to my X's maternal gma for in there also. I'll use the dresser to store out of season clothes. that isn't much out here. I know I won't be wearing sweats in the summer but there isn't too much I can't wear in the winter (at least with a sweater or jacket).

i'll be glad to have a decent sized mstr bdrm again - that doesn't need to 'house' everything that can't get super hot in the summer (like the computer). It also has 2 closets. I think they're 5 x 4.5. i don't have much in the line of clothes that need hung up so only one will be used for that- and will have a chest / cab for my sweats, t-shirts etc. the other closet will be storage - and linen storage and extra bathroom storage. my bathroom doesn't have space for a towel storage cabinet.

I think I'll use at least 3 rooms daily and 2 to be 'walked thru'. Mostly I'll use my bdrm, the kitchen and the tv/computer room (off the kitchen).

Having that room to put craft stuff/wrapping things will be the best! A place to put things I buy thru out the yr for gifts all in one place... so I can find them again. There's so much stuff like that in a household - that misc stuff!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 9:46AM
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We use one bedroom, the kitchen, the dining room, and the bathroom. Really, that's all. I'd like to say we use the master bedroom, but we sleep in the guest room. Haha!

I think the reason we don't use the living room is twofold. First, we don't have cable or an antenna. Second, DH works nonstop when he gets home from work. So, we don't really have "down time" for sitting around the living room. The dining room doubles as his office space.

I would love to repurpose the space dedicated to a breakfast area. We used it so infrequently that I gave my mother and father the table and chairs we used to have in there. It's now empty. We have two rooms that are currently "dumping grounds." One is full of boxes for our upcoming yardsale. The other is housing the tools for our upcoming construction project.

If I could add space (and storage, of course!!!), I'd add a large project room to house laundry/mud/sewing/flower arranging/starting seeds. I'd want to do something pretty so I wouldn't have to close it off.

The laundry room in this house has always been a dream of mine.

That would free up valuable space in the kitchen that's currently lost to the laundry closet.

The other space I would add is a functional work space for us. DH and I both work largely on the computer, and we have a lot of resource books. A library style office would be fabulous.

I think that when our house is more than just the two of us, we'll use every inch and then some! We have 1740 sqft with almost no closet space, so it will fill up fast if we have children.

Can I add on a screened porch? :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:50PM
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Wow, Shades and Krayers, you make a really good point about the wood stove. I hadn't thought about that, but if the smoke does leak out a bit...that would bother me, too. The fireplace seems okay and we'll be putting heavy duty glass doors on it, but the wood stove is another thing...and I've been a little concerned about the kitties jumping on it, too. Maybe I should try moving things around a bit :)

Marti- An exercise area is a good idea. We have the same problem, but in winter, when it's too cold and snowy to get outside and walk.

Steph- Your craft room and wrapping paper/present area sound wonderful! I'd love to have an area to store sewing stuff and wrapping stuff, where I'm not always climbing in the back of the closet, trying to find a bit of paper or a bow! LOL

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:54PM
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If you were designing a home today, what rooms would you want to include? If you were redesigning your home, how would you redo the space?

I've thought about this before. For my husband and me, we each use only a tiny percentage of even our small house. I spend most of my time between my desk and the kitchen. He spends the majority of his time in front of the TV, but in the bedroom, not in the LR. The living room for us is just a walk-through space...we don't actually use it.

If I were to redesign our little house, I'd give more room to my desk space and less room to the LR.

I'd also take a little room from the upstairs bathroom and give it to the bedroom closet.

I'd never give up my wood stove. If smoke leaks out, it's likely that the gaskets need to be replaced or even the chimney needs to be cleaned.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Young-gardener...I love the picture! That's the type of thing I'd like to do, too. A large, pretty laundry room would be wonderful :)

Oldgardener- Good to know about the wood stove, if it does leak smoke.

It's interesting how many people would like more kitchen space, craft space and storage. Maybe new homes could have less living room/family room space and more storage and craft space.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 2:55PM
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Old Gardener why don't you change your living room to your office. If you use your office more and not your living room it really is ok to make your house work for you. Just because the living room is titled a living room does not mean the decorating police will come get you if you make it into a really nice office space.

I did this at one house we had and it was wonderful. I could be working and still enjoy visiting with my husband.

I think one reason we use so much of our house is one third or more of it is all open. Kitchen dinning room and living room are all open to each other.

I will say my husband uses the living room master bedroom and both bathrooms the most in this house. He rarely goes into my sewing/guest room. And only into my studio to get tools when needed. I use the whole house. I would love a larger laundry room but this one works fine. I just got spoiled with two large laundry rooms at other houses.

At some point I might consider putting door between kitchen and laundry room. Then the pass through bath could share the laundry room for a feeling of more space and light.

A big wish is a better place for the kitty litter box.Of course I am sure we all want to plan our houses around that!!! LOL

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 3:58PM
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Shades- I do! LOL Seriously, the 'desk' area in my laundry room (next to the freezer) is really my kitty box(es) space :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 4:35PM
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I'm so tired of not knowing where anything is, things in boxes and not in any logical space. Tools are (usually) in the bathroom here. as is dirty laundry since I don't have a laundry room - or a w/d. It also has a chest in it for my clothes. and household 'chemicals' (not many). my plant/root starter, a can of raid and ant powder. I do have a laundry room in the new place and room for a cabinet that stands on the floor - and room for 2 overhead cabs (just have to find the right sizes - cheap. they can wait). so tools, plant food stuff, dog brush etc will go in the large cabinet out there (I have that cab).

the hall bath (extra) linen closet will house (other than a few towels, wash clothes, normal stuff) - the dog stuff - shampoo, towels, etc. There's room in there for a number of things I have no where to put in here.

If I could change things (and $ no object) I'd take out the tub in mstr bath and put in a linen closet there. and a foot salon spa tub. would looooove one of those.

I like the layout in the new place fine - I'd want to add a foot in width to a few rooms and have a larger kitchen window.

lavender - how about an electric FP? or a gel one? or gas?
probably not the same 'feel' to it? I have a gas one in the new place (won't use - it's propane canisters or something). I can't be trusted with real fire - lol! dbf bought me a movable electric one this past Christmas - I will use that one - it'll be a lot safer. I used it a bit in Jan/Feb and it doesn't get hot on the outside of it so no worries for pets or kids.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 6:06PM
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Steph- There are a lot alternatives to wood burning fireplace/wood stoves now...I just need a real one to cook on and provide heat, when the power goes out.

This is such an interesting thread and it's given me some great ideas! Thank you all so much for responding and please add anything else you think is relevant :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 12:16PM
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LL I LOVED the wood stoves years ago. They just bother me now as I am older. I used to smoke myself and since I quit almost 11 years ago any smoke bothers me.I am not one to whine about it to smokers though. I just move away from it.

I am really happy to have out propane stove on the porch. It is NOT a stove to use in the house. It is a cooking stove. If we ever do close in the porch we will have to leave part of it open for the stove.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 1:55PM
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I agree with all the others in saying make the house work for you. I'm in the process of freeing my mind up from expectations of others in what a house "should" have.

My hsuband thinks I should make the "living room" one big open sewing area. It has a beautiful view of our property and is next to the kitchen. However, I still want a couch and a table or two to set drinks down on and a lamp. We sit on the couch together in the evening and read. We don't watch T.V. any more. But that's the only time we ever need a so called "living room". I beginning to get the mindset that any visitors should be there to see us and not what we have set up "for show".

I think you can make your house just as pretty, if not more so, by following your heart. Now I need to start taking my own advice:)

Hearing others who have changed things to suit them gives me courage to shed the old expectations that society has put on us.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 10:32AM
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I'm going to join in with the group that doesn't use the living room. Our den is huge (at least to me) and it is really nice the few times we have had a lot of people here, and that would be like 4 times in the last 10 years. So not really worth the use of the space. I bet I have sat on the love seat or sofa 20 times in the last 8 years too, so they are really just for company.

Dh sits in his recliner with his computer and I sit at the game table with mine. Mine gets really hot and I can't have it on my lap.

I keep turning around things that we could do to make this house more functional. If we do open the kitchen to the living room, I'm thinking of doing away with all the uppers on one side of the kitchen. I'd have to put my stacked ovens side by side on the bottom cabinets but I think it would work and I could reach everything. So many of my uppers are just wasted because I can't easily reach stuff. And stopping what I'm doing to go get a step stool is inconvenient.

I like this thread. It's making me think of how to make the house work for us and not just take up space.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 12:32PM
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I know I have brought this up before.Will add it here as a use of space for different then intended. Our official dinning room is set up as a sitting room and until just recently did not even have a table.The little drop leaf my neighbor gave me is perfect in the space and I have used it quite a bit since adding it to the room.

We just had company for almost a week and in that time I found myself using the love seat in the dinning room and my new little table a lot while my husband and his company sat in the living room. We never ate at the table or the boys did not. I did as I do not have a third lap tray. LOL Even so I think I would have used the table rather than try to balance dinner on tray with drink on the couch. I have a table beside my chair for drinks.Since it is all open to living room it was not like I was stuck off eating alone.

The dinning room also serves as house main entry.

At another house I had the laundry room set up as my computer space along with the laundry things. Was perfect arrangement.

At another house I had the official mud room set up as a sun room. Was small but had nice bench to sit on and plants and a small entry table for keys etc. We used that back entrance more then the front. Also had coat rack.

Another house we did not really have enough room in the kitchen for a table with out totally cramming up the room. We had a large living room at 16 by 20, and this was the 800 SQ FT house, so I put the dinning room table into the living room corner and kind of created a dinning room that way. Was perfect for us. Next people crammed the table back into the kitchen and complained about it. They could not think out of the box and made their lives miserable in that tiny house. We lived there very comfortably.

There are always ways to make a space attractive. Even a computer desk or sewing corner.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 2:18PM
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Okay, how is it I did not see this thread until now? Strange, because it is a hot one.

First, we enclosed the screened porch, turning it into a Lexan walled sun porch. Has exposure on all sides except north. It was intended to be for my parrots and their cages, but DH decided he loved the space for his swivel reading chair, so he could turn and see out any side, and he did not like having the parrots so close. Big problem for me, because parrots drop stuff and I did not want to be cleaning the floors all the time. I also used the sunporch in winter for my container plants, looked like a jungle last winter. But now, they will go in the newly enclosed derelict garage, our new TEAHOUSE and my studio/study, which is also they place I will move the parrots. My African grey can fly, and he will be able to enjoy the total 20 x 25 x 16' high space. I will have my sewing and painting out there also. Plus storage for items related to those things. Maybe my laptop can work out there too, if the wireless router signal can get through all that cement.

We never used the back bedroom before, it was a storage area. Then I turned two closets into a tiny bathroom and that meant we had two baths after we bumped out the wall of that back bedroom to turn it into a master suite with a neat walk in closet and the largest bathroom I've ever had...and the clawfoot tub is a dream come true. I really use that bath for a long soak in the tub, and I have a Toto washlet seat on the john which is a fantastic luxury purchase at a bargain price. Highly recommend it.

The only room I simply walk through to get somewhere else, is the current dining room. When DH is in residence, we eat dinner at the table there. But when he is gone, I eat on a pullup table in the living room in front of the TV. The dining room is wasted space in my book, so that is why I plan to put in a window seat flanked by two floor/ceiling storage cabs. I also plan to knock out the wall between the dining and kitchen. Blur the dimensions a bit, so I can have a 2 seater dining bar on one side which will block the view of the new gas range (whenever I get it), and then lets more light in from the kitchen to brighten the interior of the house.

Also, I will knock out the BACK wall of the kitchen, so that the 7 x 14 foot back porch can be integrated into the kitchen. I use the kitchen every day, but have no stove in it presently. I must walk around that back wall of the kitchen to get to the fridge and the two microwave ovens.
I hate the overhead cabinets because I cannot reach anything in them. Overhead cabs in a small kitchen is very confining, and by experience I know I can have more access to my STUFF with open shelves and bars with hanging hooks. I like to SEE my stuff in the kitchen. It inspires me.

I use the back porch/kitchen a lot. It is temporarily enclosed with Lexan up high on 3 walls too, and we have a glass door to give a full view of the back deck and back garden. It is where my stacking laundry center is, and I like it in that area. I need no special laundry. BUT, I want to move it when we remodel, so it is not visible from the kitchen. A counter top beside the laundry will also serve as space for kitchen counter top by the stove.

Now I am thinking the living room is the largest space in our house, and we just sit there to watch TV a couple of times a day. Especially since I moved the book cases into the front bedroom (our new study), that is the only function of the room. So now I do not see why it cannot be the home for our parrot cages while they are inside the house. More space there without feeling confined, and they can feel part of the family flock. I have rolling stands to take them for short visits elsewhere. The way I look at it, they were here a long time before my DH arrived, so DH has to accommodate them, not the other way around.

We did have two cats, who were in and out cats. But I could not feed the wild birds and in good conscience lure them to their death by cat. My best cat died this last winter, and the other one disappeared under mysterious circumstances (after putting paw prints on the hood of the neighbor's car), and so we are choosing not to replace the cats. At any rate, we won't get another cat as long as we are going back and forth from Alabama to Massachusetts, since cats--even SEDATED cats--are the worst travelers I ever knew. But providing for the animals counts as a use of the interior spaces of our homes. Two cats raised together will share a litter box, but otherwise you'd have to allow for a litter box for each cat. A real bummer.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 11:46AM
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"I just need a real one to cook on and provide heat, when the power goes out."

I'm hearing more and more about having the alternative for when electricity goes out.

my FP in new place is propane but I don't think I could ever use it. I'd be too afraid to use propane - and the chimney isn't to steady on the roof. I know I'd burn the place down.

I am considering checking out solar tho - that could run at least a few things like the fridge and a/c. I worry more about being w/o a/c in the summer than heat in the winter out here.

sandy - I think you should use the LR for your sewing. you could put in a flr to ceiling cab for misc stuff needed and just have a box to put over the machine when not in use. you could do up a nice one to fit it with the colors / decor with a handle on top. you lift it off and set under it and when company is coming or won't be in use for some time just pop that topper back up there to protect it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 3:30AM
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Steph, is your a/c evaporative? If not, it will take a big system to run it with solar. We bought a genearator for the times our electric goes out. I thought we might lose power yesterday but the lights only dimmed a couple of times and then came back.

I'm with you, loss of a/c is much worse than loss of heat.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 3:39PM
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Marti- You all live in the South, right? Loss of heat, when it's -16 degrees...can be just as bad as loss of A/C, when it's 100 degrees. Unless someone lives in a very mild, temperate zone, they're pretty dependent on heat or A/C. Maybe we should all consider more temperate zones? :)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 4:09PM
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Yep, Lav, where you live it is topsy turvy. Heat is more important to you. The first time I was up in Massachusetts for the summer, with no a/c, I was really suffering. My DH finally agreed to get a portable heat pump which only provided a/c, not heat, because he had a brand new heating system installed the year before. Well, by the time he got it home and in the window, the hot season up there was just about over, and it was cooling down again. I could not believe it, because here in south Alabama our hot season runs until the first of November, and sometimes longer. Just think of when hurricane season is, and that is our hot weather times. If you look at the ocean temperatures around the world, just off the Alabama coastline the Gulf of Mexico is already 87 degrees F, and is the hottest temp shown anywhere on that map provided by The Weather Channel. It looks bad for the home team, because hot water sucks in the tropical storms. So, yes, the AC is the most needed of all.

However, if we built houses like they did back in the 1800s, we could have cross ventilation, raised foundations for air flow, deep overhangs for porches on every side except north, working shutters inside and outside too, that had adjustable louvers, tall ceilings. And the builders did not bulldoze the big trees either.

Lavender, we can all live in the places we prefer if we learn from the old timers how to build our homes, and how to ORIENT THEM PROPERLY for heating and cooling optimization. I'm a great fan of passive solar heating, it should work here, with lots left over to charge up a whole bank of storage batteries. Friends of mine in Iowa who run the Iowa Parrot Rescue bought a huge old house and found in the basement beaucoup old storage batteries which it turns out the original owner had used to power his lights and maybe a few other things. The house was oriented just right for winter sunshine in the major rooms, but believe me, it gets COLD in Iowa, just like where you live. To reduce their heating bill, they are using a corn pellet stove in the house itself, and then they built a big bird shelter covered by a couple of feet (at least) of earthen berm, and the window wall is a southern exposure. The berm is planted with wildflowers, and looks so natural.

I remember visiting in Minnesotta and seeing the UM student union building underground mostly, where the normal temp year round is about 50-ish, so they only have to heat that up to 65 or 70, which is a lot less costly than raising it from the minus temps. Early man found caves better than living out in the open, and looked for them facing south too.

Isn't the way we adapt to our environment an interesting topic? No one perfect way. Same is true of the way we cook, depends on the kind of fuel we have available.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 5:27PM
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Yes, I'm in the South too. Let's all move to that area of Washington state where the low is never below 40 and the high never above 80. I could stand gray skies and rain if I could escape this heat and not have to worry about a long, frozen winter.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:45AM
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Marti- That would be on the other side of the state, about 300 miles from me, but I could come visit :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Hey now, I thought we were all moving together. The problem here (and I'm sure where ML is) is that summer lasts waaaaay too long. And you probably think winters are too long. If there was just a month of scorched earth and a month of freezer locker, and the rest is temperate, I'd be much happier. My sweatometer has been working overtime lately and I'd like to give it a break.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 2:51PM
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A balmy 78 degrees here today. Gentle breeze. Loving it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 4:30PM
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I wondered at what temperature people up north actually feel hot. I don't think we even got to 100 here today, or if we did, it wasn't very long. I went to Lowe's about 4pm and I saw 1) a car with snow skis mounted on top, 2) a man with a long sleeve hoodie sweatshirt riding a bike (my car registered 100 at that time), and a man with a long sleeve black western shirt, a black Cordobes hat - and black shorts. Heat delirium?

I know I feel cold when the temperature drops below 68.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 7:04PM
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Marti, I keep the house a/c around 85 now, because we had a gi-normous power bill last month. Just keep the ceiling fans on and the shutters closed on the sunny side of the house. If I start feeling hot, I go outside for a few minutes, and then when my skin has a sweaty sheen on it, I come back inside. It works like a charm, I'm appreciating the temperature inside again.

It rained a couple of days last week, and the wind blew a little, and a neighbor's tree fell across their fence and into our lot on the river here in Mobile. The insurance company tells me it is their responsibility, not ours, but I'd like them to get it out of the way of yard work. It took out the top of one of my pines, but I'm leaving that tree as a nest site for osprey. They like tall snags. As long as it does not fall, our liability is minimal.

My DH's daughter went jogging up in MA today, and almost had a heat stroke. It is unreal that that area is close to 100, hotter than we are here in south AL. Of course, the Gulf of Mexico is 87 degrees just by Mobile Bay, and that kind of heat will suck in any hurricanes. As far as I can tell, that temp is the hottest for any ocean on this side of the world....maybe anywhere. Not good.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:01PM
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That is hot for MA, especially for people without a/c.

I do like you, and I also have one of those neck scarves with the beads that swell up when they are soaked in water. Just having something cool against my neck and the air from the ceiling fan hitting it, makes me cooler.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:06PM
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