Tomorrow the Designated Hitter rule was adopted by the American League (1973), The Surgeon General declared cigarettes are hazardous (1964) and it is Morocco’s Independence Day (1956).  Birth anniversaries include American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755), Roman emperor Theodosius I (347) and the man many consider the father of wildlife ecology Aldo Leopold (1887).

The 23rd annual Ligonier Ice Fest is coming up in a couple of weeks (January 25 & 26).  Watch the ice carving artists create more than 50 ice sculptures spread around their downtown shopping and dining district.  Saturday the carving starts at 10 am and Sunday at Noon.  At 2 pm on Sunday, they have the speed carving contest.

The joint venture between Braddock’s mayor John Fetterman and celebrated chef Kevin Sousa crossed it’s first and most significant hurdle.  Money.  Unable to find a bank willing to lend$250,000 to turn the vacant Superior Motors car dealership building into Superior Motors restaurant in the poverty racked city, John and Kevin went to Kickstarter.  It was looking pretty grim Saturday with only $150,000 raised and a Monday deadline looming.  (With Kickstarter, you have to raise the entire amount by the imposed deadline, 0r you don’t get anything.)  They ended up raising just over $300,000 and then became eligible  $40,000 grant from the Heinz Foundation for job training in this city desperate for new job opportunities.  Kevin who created the wildly popular Salt of Earth in East Liberty as well as Union Pig & Chicken as well as Station Street Food is taking his culinary skills to a new level.  He intends to offer culinary training to locals at no cost and they can stay with him, or move on and let someone else in to gain culinary skills.  John, who owns the Superior Motors building is letting Kevin use the space with no rent.  Kevin plans to grow most of his food in a 2 acre urban farm one block from Superior Motors and plans on adding a green house on the roof of Superior as well as another open garden.  Superior Motors restaurant plans on giving special pricing to Braddock residents.  John’s been a hero of mine for years, looks like Kevin’s moving in as well.  🙂

The May 12, 2008 Nor’ easter that hit the East Coast was the root cause of Jayme Bella to co-found Greener Days with her parents Alan & Sharon Beiburg.  After searching all over for a human safe bug spray and coming up with nothing, she decided to create her own.  They currently just have two products, a surface sanitizer and a bug spray made of just citronella, lemon grass and cedar oils.  In development is what they believe will be the first certified-organic baby wipe.  They already have products on the shelves in Australia, Japan and China.  Pretty impressive for a mom and pop (literally) 🙂 in just a few years.

For 51 years, Old Economy has sponsored shovel riding contests.  Admission is free and children under 13 need a parent.  Events/Categories include boys and girls under 10 years old, 17 and under years old, 18 and older and a seniors contest for those over 55.  Winners get  a trophy and winter gear (scarf, mittens, etc).  It was rescheduled from January 11 because of warm weather and no snow, if that’s the issue again on  January 18, they will again reschedule.  Practice at 9 am, registration at 11 am and races start 12:30 pm.  Free registration, free hot dogs, free bagels, free coffee, free music by a DJ.  You don’t get much freer than that.  🙂  More info at the Beaver County Visitors and Convention Center‘s website or by calling 724-770-2060.

Need an old school desk?  How about a maintenance truck?  North Hills School district will have an on line auction to rid excess equipment from storage all over the place.  They’ve closed a number of schools and lots of stuff just started accumulating.  The auction runs from January 23 to January 26 through Hostetter Auctioneers.

It’s that time of year again for Just Harvest to host their annual Empty Bowls Dinner on March 2.  It’s a fund raiser for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.  In conjunction with this event, Sweetwater Center for the Arts at 200 Broad Street, Sewickley will have a “make your own bowl” from 10:30 am till 12:30 pm and then 2 till 4 pm this coming Saturday.  For just $5 ($3 for members), you get three balls of clay and can design the shape and size of the bowl (not the color).  You learn how to “throw” clay on a wheel to make the bowl being guided by pottery artisans, their apprentices and local volunteers.  The bowls are later fired and donated to the cause.  A fun and inexpensive way to help out.  More info at their websites or by calling 412-741-4405.

The latest grass roots park in the area is Aspinwall Riverfront Park is opening an ice skating rink in the next several weeks.  This 108′ x 88′ rink was made possible by a $10,000 donation by Ginny Merchant and a lot of volunteer work spearheaded by Fox Chapel hockey head coach Rick Villani and his young hockey players.  When the rink opens, they plan on having a fire pit and benches to rest and warm up as well as a concession stand.  There already is lighting in the area.  They are looking for volunteers to man (or woman) 🙂 the concession stand and are mainly looking for old ice skates.  You know, those things that have been sitting in your basement or attic for the last few years.  They want to letting people try ice skating for free before taking the plunge of buying their own skates.  When the rink is open, they are planning hours of 9 am until 8 pm and will have a sign indicating that the rink is open right on Freeport road in front of the park.  If you’d like to donate skates, you can drop them off at the rink once it opens or at Aspinwall’s borough building  during normal business hours.

Do they ever let up?  A friend and myself set up an e-mail box for Jeff back in maybe September and didn’t think to password protect it.  I tried to pull my e-mails the other day and couldn’t access my e-mail from my lap top.  Thinking it may be a problem with Comcast that brings my high speed into the Inn, I pulled out my iPhone and tried to get my e-mail, that also failed.  So I tried to access my website, which is where my e-mails come from and couldn’t open my website.  So I called David that hosts my site and he said they had to shut it down.  They already had 50,000 spams pass through my site and it was drowning his equipment.  He said he’d call me back when he had it figured out.  An hour later, and the spam was up to 80,000, he said someone from east Europe had found the unprotected e-mail account and hacked my site from it.  So we password protected it and made the password for my e-mail.  I get over 200 spam, unsolicited solicitations and other nuisance e-mails EACH day.

My contractor’s started the two bathroom projects.  I just cleaned and spruced up the bathroom in Ruellia in the Carriage House when I bought The Parador.  Just a shower, no tub and overall pretty shabby.  Mike totally gutted the room and is now making everything square, level and plumb.  We’re rearranging the fixtures so it’s more functional and freeing up space.  The tub/shower will go on the south wall where the toilet was and the toilet’s going where the shower used to be.  It really saves a lot of space and opens up light from the window.  The new pedestal sink (actually vintage from Construction Junction) goes where the last sink was with a new plate glass mirror over it.  Separating the fan from the other lighting and we’re going to add an open closet at the end wall of the shower/tub enclosure.  Hopefully it will be large enough for rolled bath linen.  White hexagon floor tile and white subway tile will help give the bathroom a more vintage look and make it much brighter.  Instead of using the normal bull nose for the edging, I’m doing the same as in the bathrooms in both the Loft and Bromeliad:


As of this afternoon, the demolition in both rooms is finished and Mike’s leveled Ruellia’s floor.  Mike’s plumber is stopping by tonight to make a list of what he needs and will rough both rooms in over the weekend.  Another thing Mike’s doing is studding the walls out in Ruellia because they are in such bad shape as far as square, plumb and level.  This will give us the opportunity to insulate the walls.  I just got a $1,300 gas bill for last month, anything I can do to save heating and cooling costs makes me smile.

The other project we’re doing is Lady Palm’s bathroom.  As much as I hated to do it, we pulled that courageous pedestal tub out and replacing it with a new tub and shower.  No matter how clear I tried to be explaining the age of the tub and that you can’t fill it to the top for a bath, people still did it.  The gravity stopper was not strong enough for the weight of all that water and when the tub would start to overflow, the guests would panic and for some bizarre reason, turn the handles to full instead of shutting them off.  (I know this for a fact because each time it over flowed, I would run to the bathroom and immediately turn the faucets in the opposite direction and stop the flow of water.)  Lady Palm was the worst room for this, and it’s on the third floor.  I would get water flowing all the way down to the basement.  It’s over flowed so much that one of the times it brought the ceiling down in Bird of Paradise’s bathroom which sits directly under Lady Palm’s bathroom.  So for headroom, we’re swapping the location of the toilet and the tub/shower.  I think it’s going to work pretty well.

The pedestal tub had to weigh 500 pounds.  You should have seen us (I really wasn’t much help) getting it from the third floor to the first.  We immediately loaded it on the back of my truck and the next day I headed off to Construction Junction with it and other building materials I figured they could use.  Dave, the guy out there in charge of donations, was his normal unfriendly self.  He’s not miserable, but just totally unfriendly.  A couple of years ago when I replaced the Veranda composite flooring with exposed aggregate concrete, I tried donating that to them.  I couldn’t transport all of it out to them and they offer free pick up, so I called their main number and they patched me through to Dave’s line.  Of course he didn’t answer the phone and his message actually said basically “Leave a message, I probably won’t return your call, you may want to try again later”.  So I put it on Craig’s List at 5:30 the next morning and had to take the ad down by 8 because I got so many calls.  I accepted the first one and insisted that the composite had to be picked up that day, or I would give it to the next person.  I took three backups, but he did show up later that afternoon and loaded it all up.  Anyway, when I got to Construction Junction, Dave in his normal unfriendly manner instructed me to move my truck to where they could pick the tub up with a fork lift, which I did.  They unloaded it and when they put it on another skid right side up, I saw Dave go out to the main section of the store and by the time I got my dolly and straps together from transporting the tub, there were about five Construction Junction persons that carried the air of being bosses ohhing and awwwing around the tub.  If you want it, you better hurry.  I don’t think it’s going to be out there long.

Well, that’s it for today.  Have a great weekend all,


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