Footnote Frivolity***, Gen DIY-er, Going Green

Going batty: what do you do with one too many insulation batts?

It’s been 2 months since the last post and we’re warming up into spring. Cheap Geek still has not finalised the last bit of roof insulation, though I’m pretty sure we’ve got too many Green Stuf batts. Cheap Geek plans on stowing these above the original layer of insulation, but one batt already has the privilege of being stuffed up our chimney.

According to, ‘heat energy goes up the chimney and large volumes of cold air are drawn into the room to replace it, creating cold draughts or removing heated air from nearby spaces.’ And with chimneys, not only does heated air get replaced by cold air, the resulting draught also makes you feel colder than it actually is.

Hence the need to put a bat(t) up the chimney:

Big Brown Bat perched on chimney by Cotinis
Image courtesy of Cotinis (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Cheap Geek measured up the chimney interior and trimmed the batt to size so that it would fit snugly without being squished*.  Once inserted, it blocked out most (if not all) draughts.

Before putting insulation in your chimney, make sure that it is hypoallergenic. Glass-wool batts, for instance, are not a good idea: they can shed irritant particles. Fires are also not a good idea whilst the insulation is in place.

There are purpose-designed products such as Chimney Sheep or Chimney Balloons that will keep the draughts out and the heat in but they’re nowhere near as fun as roping water bottles together whilst stylin’ in a beat up leather jacket and 80’s hairdo.

Image courtesy of

*Condensing an entire batt will compromise its ability to insulate.

Footnote Frivolity***, Gen DIY-er, Going Green

Winter has come: bring on the insulation

On Sunday, Melbournians woke up to the coldest morning in 18 years. Thanks to central heating, our Mustbethrifty House was toasty warm throughout the night.

However, if it weren’t for roof insulation, we would have shivered regardless of heating. I know this from our experience a couple of months back when Cheap Geek removed the loose fill insulation from our roof, after he suspected it of triggering off my allergies. It was autumn and the weather was still mild; we had the heating turned up and were huddled together on the couch, wrapped up in blankets.

Installing Green Stuf batts in the roofCheap Geek started laying down Green Stuf, a hypoallergenic* polyester batt. He installed insulation for half of the house**, then took a break for a couple of weeks before finishing off the rest. During those weeks, we noticed the change when moving from one part of the house to the other and the thermometer recorded differences of 0.5 to 1 degrees C.

Like most DIY jobs, the insulation is not 100% installed yet, but it’s enough to keep our heating in.

*While the Green Stuf is hypoallergenic and does not require protective equipment, Cheap Geek developed dermatitis on his arms and hands from coming into contact with residual loose fill. It’s best to wear a mask, gloves and a long-sleeved top when installing batts in the roof.

**No super special tools required: scissors, a couple of good camping lamps/torches and a trusty ladder…

Clever Cooks, Gen DIY-er

The best cookbook I’ll ever own

Who doesn’t love a good cookbook? Big and bold with page after page of beautifully plated food, they’re a feast for the eyes of the food-obsessed.

Last time I checked, however, ‘oohing and aahing’ over a photograph of Gelato Messina’s rum baba gelato or Annabel Langbein’s slow-roast lamb with herb crust does not constitute as cooking, and a cookbook that doesn’t inspire a meal belongs on a coffee table, not the kitchen bench.

Most titles I own have a handful of bookmarked recipes. Continue reading

Gardening on a Budget, Gen DIY-er, Going Green, Reviews, Second-hand Scavengers

Localism’s the new black: Millie Ross’ The Thrifty Gardener

Millie Ross' The Thrifty GardenerGardening books are either aspirational or educational. With its brightly coloured pages and photos, Millie Ross’ The Thrifty Gardener comes across as aspirational but unlike other aspirational gardening books, striking architectural plants and stunning aspects do not feature. Instead, The Thrifty Gardener’s aesthetics lean towards the ‘nanna-chic garden’: there’s fruit and vegetables amongst the flowers and the structural elements of the garden such as walls, paths and water features are DIY-ed from salvaged items.

Aimed at the beginner to intermediate gardener, the book starts with planning and design, before moving into specific tutorials that range from propagation to small and large projects such as newspaper pots and clay fire pits. Continue reading

Gen DIY-er

Upcycling framed pictures

Instead of chucking out an old water-damaged print, I’ve upcycled it into one of these:

DIY blackboard
Yep, a DIY blackboard. They’re really easy to make. Just wipe the glass clean, protect the frame with some masking tape and some newspaper and apply blackboard paint. Blackboard paint is available at Typo, Bunnings and craft stores. If you’re feeling particularly thrifty, you can probably source your blackboard paint from Freecycle or you can make your own.

I used the spray can variety as it creates an even coat and there’s no washing up afterwards. Spray paint can stray a little, however, so keep methylated spirits and or sandpaper on hand to remove any mistakes. It also performs poorly in hot or cold weather; don’t try doing this s*&^ in the height of winter/summer. And always apply spray paint in a well-ventilated area.

Once the paint is dry, sandpaper any rough bits, brush the dust off and seal your new chalkboard with a liberal layer of chalk. Wipe the chalk off with a damp rag. Your new chalkboard is ready to be used.

Gen DIY-er, Thriftster weddings

Cheap and cheerful wedding favours

Favours, also known as bonbonniere, are another ‘wedding tradition’ foisted upon couples by the bridal industry. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of trawling through the interwebs looking for favours, you’ll know that there some pretty ugly and expensive ones out there. I found some heart-shaped salt and pepper shakers that look very much like the derrières of classical Greek statues.

While said salt and pepper shakers range around $5-6 per set, there are cheaper gift alternatives. Australian Favours sports a thong-shaped luggage tag for $2.50 each. Heh, I’d rather spend my money on something that better reflects us as a couple. Continue reading

Dress to Impress (for Less), Gen DIY-er, Money Matters, Thriftster weddings

DIY = not always thrifty

The other week, an Offbeat Bride reader asked ‘Does wedding DIY save you money or cost more?’ (via Offbeat Bride)

I’m all for DIY. It’s creative, personal, and (hopefully) rewarding. Contrary to popular belief, however, it does not always save money. DIY projects that require training, the purchase of expensive equipment and or supplies may end up costing more than the ready-made/professional version. Continue reading