Andersen Windows – Pretty Good but Not Amazing.

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(They look nice, don’t they?)

Well, looks aren’t everything.  If you’re going to buy new construction windows and are looking at Andersen Woodwright 400’s, don’t even bother with the unfinished clear pine.  That wood is garbage.  Expect to pay an additional $100 or so for the oak or maple.

The response I got from both the company itself and the authorized dealer was, “Well, it’s pine.  It’s a softer wood.”  But really, it’s practically balsa wood, and in some sections it’s just a very thin veneer.  It’s soft, splintery garbage that comes out incredibly blotchy if you don’t use the correct pre-stain conditioner.  Also, I highly recommend using Charles Neil’s Pre-Color Conditioner.  His video made me smile.

http://www.cn-woodworking.com/cn-pre-color-conditioner/

charls neil

(I am not affiliated nor do I get any compensation from his company)

I first tried the Minwax pre-stain conditioner but the wood was a shitty, blotchy mess and I had to strip it back down and redo the whole thing.  With the CN product, the stain won’t come out nearly as dark as it is supposed to, but that’s because the conditioner has to block some of the stain to prevent blotching, so just know that before you choose the color.

Further, the overall quality and feel of the Andersen window is pretty cheap (though the price is not).  I really doubt that these new construction double hungs will last anywhere near as long as my original wood double hungs I bought them to match.  Sigh.  Hopefully when I’m ready to replace them, I can afford to get old-school true divided light all wood DH’s custom made.  A girl can dream.

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Holiday gift ideas – In Praise of Hanro

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As many of you might be, I am working hard to finish my holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.  It not only gives me a sense of accomplishment, but I truly love getting people presents.  I love the research involved to find the things that they either a) mentioned in passing during the year that they would love to have or b) find something so perfectly suited it was the thing that they didn’t even know they wanted/needed and now can’t live without.  I don’t limit myself to tangibles either, as I am a big fan of experiential gifts (tickets to shows/musical performances, tours, movie passes, meals out, spa days, etc.)  These are things that people like but many won’t treat themselves to.

To kick off the holidays, I was inspired to also blog about some of the items I am looking at for friends and family.  I know I’m always looking for inspiration and thought I’d share some of my ideas for practical and special gifts. hanro

For those of y’all out there who’ve not heard of the brand, Hanro is a Swiss company that manufactures some of the most amazing undergarments and loungewear I have ever experienced.  They’ve been around since the late 1800’s so they must be doing something right.

My first pieces were three camisoles-two white and one black (the black, sadly, was lost over the years through one move or another).  I didn’t actually purchase them but permanently borrowed them from my mother because these are super expensive and I was a broke highschool kid.  Needless to say, they were far from new when I acquired them.  These smooth, seamless pieces are now well over 20 years old and only recently has one of them started to develop a little hole and a run.  I can only assume they are made of the same 100% cotton as the current spaghetti V-neck camisoles because there were never any tags sewn into the pieces (another bonus for those with sensitive skin).

Since then I have acquired some of their other camisoles and pajamas.  I even launder and dry them regularly and they haven’t pilled, stretched or faded.  These are not cheap pieces but I look at them as investments–these are not going to wear out for many years to come.

P.S. – They make items for men as well, so you can find something for everyone on your list.  Happy shopping.

The Expensive and Painful Quest for Eternal Youth

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Reading April’s issue of Allure magazine, the EIC speaks of the need for self-tolerance and kindness regarding our imperfections and the natural changes that come with aging.  She talks about a self-image that adapts so that we don’t get hung up on achieving a look that froze in the time of our early twenties.  As soon as that one-page preface is through, we are bombarded with articles and advertisements dedicated to “anti-aging,” “anti-wrinkles,” “anti-sagging,” and one depressing description after another (couched in product placement) of all the unappealing things that will happen to our skin, hair, and body in general as time ticks past.

This is not to say that I am above the desire to maintain a youthful look.  Nevertheless, publications like this say one thing-briefly- (love and accept yourself) while spending the lion’s share of their time promoting the very opposite in the most aggressive fashion possible.  This has made me take a hard look at my own forays into the “anti-aging” game.  I purchase broad spectrum sunscreen.  Okay, this is a good thing which will also prevent melanoma.  I use expensive moisturizers.  Well, they have natural ingredients which is better for my health, the planet, and they aren’t animal tested.  All good things.  But the one thing I have no other justification for is my micro-needling treatments.  I feel guilty about it yet I am happy with the subtle improvements already.   a process which has been referred to as “poor man’s fraxel” to reduce lines, plump the skin, and cause a resurgence of collagen growth.

I spent an amount of money I’m ashamed to admit and I allow my doctor to poke thousands of tiny holes in my face with a 15 micron needle roller, after which I apply creams religiously.   When the process is complete, I will let ya’ll know if it was, in fact, worth the time, pain and expense.