Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another island home

I found a really interesting article in Dwell about a home somewhat like ours. It is on a remote island off the coast of Maine, so it shares many of the the same logistical issues we had in building our own house. It's pretty much the same size, and was built by hand, largely of pine.

The island infrastructure isn't the same, however. This house has to generate and manage its own electricity, as well as capture its own water, as well water isn't available. Obviously a Cinderella is out of the question, so the house uses a composting toilet.

The article and its comments make for a good read, and I recommend it (and Dwell magazine itself) highly.

PS. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fatboy Beanbags

Sooz found these extra-huge beanbags in the UK a year or so ago, and we've seen them in Stockholm as well, where they're charmingly called sittsäcks. They're very well made and are pretty decent pieces of furniture. Fatboys also come in a wide range of colors, and in indoor and outdoor fabrics.

We've thought one would be perfect for the stuga, to scrunch up in indoors, or out on the deck, or even in the woods. The problem is their high quality brings a high price. In Sweden the indoor models are $350, and the outdoor ones $500. That's pretty pricey for a beanbag, no matter how nice it is.

I did a bit of searching here in the USA, and found they sell for about a third less than the Swedish price. My idea was perhaps to buy one here and bring it to the stuga on my next trip, but with such a big item, I wasn't sure if it was checkable as baggage.

Fatboy's US headquarters is very close to my new office, so I called and spoke to a very friendly staff member who invited me over to take a look at a packaged Fatboy. I'll do that in the coming weeks, after our move here is more settled. Who knows, perhaps I'll be carrying one with me to Stockholm on our next trip!

UPDATE: Spending this past week in our house here in Texas, with our furniture consisting only of couple of kitchen chairs, have caused us to rethink. We ordered a new sofa, but that's a month away. So we hit upon the idea of buying our fatboy (the outdoor model in turquoise) now, so we can get good use out of it immediately. We can either keep it, or repack it for taking to Aspö this summer.

UPDATE 2: The Fatboy arrived, in a big box, which I think was too large; I'm sure I can repack it for travel. It is a lovely color and fits two of us (three's a stretch) just fine. Grant's fear about us old folks having trouble getting in and out of it are partially founded. We can negotiate the process well enough, it's just not very elegant.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First home?

We're back in our previous home here in Texas. Sooz and Ollie made the journey from London pretty much none the worse for wear. Being back into our 'real' house has got me thinking about our Swedish house and the relationship between the two.

During our time in London, we lived in rented accommodation, so we didn't spend much energy (or money) on our houses there; but we spent a lot of both on our little stuga. Now that we're back in our house here, we can see it will be requiring our time and money. So what does that mean for our stuga? Will it be out of sight, out of mind? Will I go to Sweden to get away from home projects, instead of looking forward to them?

There's a lot to think about along these lines, and I'll share some thoughts as I develop them (between my evening chores of unpacking boxes).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boxer TV

I had posted previously about our TV set in the stuga. Currently, we can pick up the state broadcaster, SVT, along with two commercial channels. We're pretty well covered with news and other uplifting fare on SVT, along with constant reruns of "Scrubs" and "Two and a Half Men" on the commercial channels.

Like all TV's sold in Europe over the past few years, ours has the capability to receive paid programming through an internal smart card. Each country in the EU has at least one provider of encrypted broadcasts which can be unlocked through the provider's card. Swedish subscription TV is from Boxer, and they have a range of channels which can be unlocked.

I borrowed Camille's Boxer card when we were over at Christmas and tried it on our TV to see if it worked. Sure enough, it did, and I found a wide range of channels we were able to receive.

Boxer sells a product that I suspect is designed for stuga owners. Their prepaid card costs 795kr (about $115) to buy, and then it can be filled up online in monthly increments. We could, in theory, have the card in our TV, and then call ahead to turn it on when we go to the house for a month.

I say "in theory", because I was just barely able to convince Sooz to install a TV for last year's World Cup. She has reservations, and rightly so, about coming out to our peaceful island getaway and spending time watching lots of TV. So, for now at least, my Boxer test was just a technical exercise.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Table Saw

When I was at Jula with Rutger, shopping for post-Christmas fireworks, I found this table saw on sale for only 799 kronor. I had been eying one for some time, and this was a great deal, so I bought it to sit in Rutger's garage until the spring.

I have planned to put a drop ceiling in the over the front deck, and to add a few recessed lights. To do that, I'll need to cut a bunch of boards precisely and my hand-sawing skills (as evidenced by some of my completed projects) are not up to that task.

There are also lots of other projects around the house that would benefit from such a saw, plus it's cool. I did promise Sooz I would ask Janne for instruction before I started using it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Swedish news round-up

  • Just after our freezing Christmas, there's a January thaw right now, causing other sorts of disruption in the country. The 10 day forecast for Stavsnäs is pretty much consistently above freezing. That should help my electric bill!
  • A dog friendly cinema has opened not far from Marcia and Rutger's house. Not sure if Ollie would enjoy, say, a Michael Bay film. He might prefer something more local.
  • And in perhaps the most exciting news (to me, at least), Agneta has recently she's had a change of heart about a reunion with her band-mates.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

We're back in London now, but not for long. Grant and I leave tomorrow for good, and Sooz and Ollie follow about 10 days later.

We had a great time in Sweden, as usual, and again as usual, we're already planning our next trip back.  Sooz is going to attend William and Kate's wedding (not as an invited guest, of course) and I'll meet up with her afterward for both of us to spend the first week of May in Sweden.

Our general plan is for us to return in mid-June; me to stay for 2 weeks and her for a month or so. But we have a lot going on between now and then, so our plans may change.

Since it's going to be 4 months until we're back to our house, and we'll be pretty busy resettling in America, I think blogging will slow down a bit. I do have a number of topics I've saved up, though, so things won't be entirely quiet!