Picket Fence Weblog

High Gas Prices Got You Down?
February 29, 2008, 9:36 am
Filed under: Links

The latest big story around here has been the addition of 2 new Ethanol 85 gas pumps. E-85 gas is much cheaper than regular gas, but not every car can run on it. If your car, like mine, is one that does not accept this type of gasoline, there are other things you can do to improve mileage such as making sure your tire pressure is correct. These tire minders make it easy to check. For other car accessories, click HERE.


Until next time… Ann 🙂

“Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?”
– Robin Williams


Solar Not Enough? Welcome to New Urbanism
February 26, 2008, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Links, solar power | Tags:

You may not have ever heard of Andres Duany, but he’s probably studied your neighborhood. If you live in any major metropolitan area, a suburb of that area, or in an up and coming city around the coast line, then chances are Andres Duany knows more about your community than you. I heard about Mr. Duany from Time Magazine staff writer Bryan Walsh who wrote an amazing article called “How Green is Your Neighborhood?

Mr. Duany is one of the leaders of Architectural New Urbanism. In these designs communities are being built, or re-built, with locality being a key concept. In these areas, a car would become a thing of the past. New Urbanism leaders hope for grocery stores, schools, jobs, and other staples to all be in walking distance. People may still own a car, but would not have to drive it everyday. According to recent facts, the average American makes about 14 car trips per day. With the number of SUV’s on the market on the rise (and no signs of slowing sales), and miles per gallon being no better than an average of 25 on the highway, its no wonder we see so many environmental problems.

There are over 3.5 million people in America alone who drive 90 miles one way to get to work. They are most likely driving into a city for their job, from their suburban home. The average size of suburban households has gone up about 1,000 square feet in the last 30 years, while the average family size has decreased.  These are a few scary facts that really show how energy wasteful we have become over the past 30 years.  Americans have become completely reliant on their vehicles and it is apparent that the major oil companies have recognized this trend, and capitalized off it.

We continually think that technology is going to save us.  Technology got us into this mess, so the answer must be more technology. This is where Andres Duany comes in.  His resolve is in fact, not so technological.  With New Urbanism, there would not be the need for cars.  This would drastically reduce carbon emissions therefore increasing our air quality.  He, and the other New Urbanism leaders, believe that the middle class, who make up the majority of suburbia, are not helping in the cause.  Keep a look out for New Urbanism as it makes its climb to better awareness.

Would you like to take the first small step?  Visit shoppicketfence.com for a selection of solar powered devices and lighting.  The first step is the most important.

As always,  Art.

What a good idea!
February 20, 2008, 10:14 am
Filed under: Links, solar power

Solar lights are great for the outdoors, but there is another use you may not have thought about. Now, I can’t take credit for this one – I read about it in a woman’s magazine. But, it is such a clever solution that I had to share. So, here is is –

If your power goes out, bring in one of your solar lights from outside. They are safer than candles and give off just the amount of light you need til the power comes back on. Plus, unlike flashlights that seem to quickly drain their batteries, solar lights will illuminate dusk to dawn.

For a complete selection of solar power, click HERE.


Until next time… Ann 🙂

Solar Panels Heat Up; It’s Going Global
February 18, 2008, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Links, solar power | Tags: , , , , ,

The last blog I wrote ended with an address to another blog that talked about celebrities Will Ferrell and Ed Norton getting on the solar band wagon.  Their homes are now being run by solar power.  It seems as if California and their inhabitants  are starting to truly take charge of the  solar scene.   A law, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has helped solar powered homes get $1,500 rebates for installing the system.  This has helped many residents pay back the costs in a faster time period, recovering the $4,000 to $6,000 dollars it takes to have a “green” home.  Many are calling for our National Government to allow federal returns to promote a cleaner America.  You can read more about that by clicking here.

I also read today that Solar Aid’s efforts have included Hollywood star Cate Blanchett.  She has joined Solar Aid’s efforts by donating her efforts to bring 3rd world nations the benefits of solar power.  She is listed as a Patron on Solar Aid’s website.  Solar Aid is trying to provide solar education and it’s energies to improve the lifestyle of those who are truly in need.  You can check out their home page by clicking here.

Last but not least in the world of solar power, is a a great picture and debate on Mr. Barlow’s Weblog.  There is a picture of solar panels that stretch out over 100 hectares, making it look like a lake more than a solar farm.  You can view that by clicking here.

Don’t forget about Shoppicketfence.com and the new Solar Category.  Get involved and go solar.

As always, Art.

Singleton Solar Farm

This is a shot from Singleton Solar Power Station in Australia.

Solar Power is Star Power; A Brand New Category
February 13, 2008, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Home improvement, solar power, yard fun | Tags: , , , , ,

For accent lighting and general accessory lighting it seems to be a waste of time to set up complicated wiring patterns . I know of a few people who have wanted to set up some lighting on their walkways to showcase what they are growing and the path to the front door, called in an electrician to bury the wires properly, only to have problems with it later that same season. It’s not impossible to set it up yourself, but there is a much easier way to do it, without breaking your bank and without having to bury wires and set up fixtures. By putting in solar accent lighting, you will save yourself money and time. Technology has made it much easier for us to accomplish those little things. Solar power is so useful and its there for the taking.

I have been writing about solar power a lot lately . I am a huge fan of perpetual resources. This includes wind, tide, and solar power. It’s not just about going green, its about making advances toward the future, for better, more efficient ways of electricity. It’s not an easy task and it’s some what of an uncharted territory for many of us. But there are plenty of small ways to do your part to help, such as my example at the opening of this blog.

Shoppicketfence.com is introducing a new category on the website. This category showcases some of the best solar products available on the market today. It’s a cutting edge way to accent your home and become the first on the block to do it without raising your electric bill.

New Solar Category at Shoppicketfence.com

Gather up the sun and get it done!

As always, Art.

P.S. Solar Power is making some headlines in Hollywood with big stars like Ed Norton and Will Ferrel. Click here to check it out.

Time To Go Green
February 12, 2008, 11:02 am
Filed under: Home improvement, Lawn, Links | Tags: , , , , , , ,

It certainly is a hot button issue.  Every where you go you see companies boasting that they have gone green.  You hear it on the news, at work, in department stores, coffee shops, and all over the radio.  There are plenty of ways to go green, even if you’re not a multi-million dollar corporation.  Everything helps too.  From the light bulbs you use in your living room, to the small solar powered devices you buy for your yard. 

You could also save other resources besides energy.  Try to have a nice lush green lawn, one in which has strong roots and will not dry out to quick.  In a past blog, Ann talked about a neighbor who had a perfect lawn by using an underground sprinkler system.  That could be considered a waste of energy as well as water.  There are plenty of natural lawn care products that won’t fill your lawn full of chemicals, and having a strong lawn will help keep bare spots to a minimum, and keep you from wasting water trying to bring back a patch of dirt.  Try Velocity Lawn Patch Plus and/or Canada Green for the spring, to get your lawn back and help save a bit of energy.  Don’t forget about Solar Power Products too.  Every little bit counts.

As always, Art.

Wainscot, An Inside Wallpaper Project
February 7, 2008, 11:48 am
Filed under: Home improvement, Links | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I have had my share of problems as of late, trying to get a pond started. I really should have waited until spring. When the weather is nice though, sometimes you forget what season it is, especially if you have been couped up for a few months already. It’s time to turn the focus back indoors, mostly since it’s been snowing for a few days in a row here in Rochester, New York, but also because I have thought of an awesome indoor project. I’m going to put wainscoting up in the living room, but I have an easier way than buying expensive materials and starting from scratch. With wainscot, you can turn a room into something a bit more luxurious than with just another coat of paint.

At shoppicketfence.com there is a wainscot wallpaper. I checked it out and it isn’t necessarily wallpaper, it isn’t paper at all really, its much thicker and very heavy duty. You get quite a bit for the price, too. I’m going to need two rolls, but it is still much cheaper than buying a whole wainscot set or building everything myself from scratch. This wainscot wallpaper, goes on much like regular wallpaper, and dries just the same. It is can be painted or left it’s natural color of white.

I’m going to put up the wainscot wallpaper and then buy a board to put up as a chair rail. I’m going to stain the chair rail, and paint the wainscot a dark blue. The mop boards are also going to be replaced to match the chair rail, and stained, this will create a “boxed in blue” look. Then, I’m going to put more boards in, over every stud, creating a panel inside a panel look. Click here to see something kind of like what I’m talking about, except the green in these pictures will be painted blue, and also would have the wainscot look.

There are always different ways to get incredibly expensive looks very inexpensively. It’s a matter of researching tools and materials, and then asking around too. There are some excellent ideas out there from some awesome DIYers. I had some help with this idea after reading a few posts by Greg Salata at Lumberjocks.com.

As always, Art.

Wainscot wallpaper