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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Do You Plan Landscaping When You Suck At Gardening?

After watching our “easy to care for landscaping” die a little less than two years after buying The Condo I replanted those seven little solders all standing in a row…


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…with my first attempt at grub resistant gardening. This is what my front flower beds looked like early last summer.

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Mother Nature pulled a nice big April Fools Day prank on me (clever how I worked April Fool’s Day into today's post, huh?) Japanese Beetles took out my replanted bushes and white leaf mold took out the rest of the plants in the beds. Now I’m stuck with this:


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Last fall I took all of the plants out of the flower bed, treated it with Milky Spore, and let the whole thing go dormant. Oh yeah, I put in a garden border with reclaimed bricks while I was at it, but that’s another post.

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Apparently Blitzkrieg has a little rule that I can’t take photos for the blog unless he’s in them. What can I say? My dog loves the camera.


Now it’s time for planning the landscaping for those flower beds. The problem is I suck at landscaping. I have no idea what plant or how to decide.
I know that The Condo is in Zone 5, the front yard gets partial morning sun. The soil is clay and we are going to spend a bucket load of our budget on soil amendments. I know I don’t want to plant plants that attract Japanese Beetles (I know I'll never fully rid my yard of Japanese Beetles. I just want to encourage them to fly by my yard and eat at the neighbors) but other than that I don’t know what I want to plant other than some more lavender (it grows well in my crappy soil), perennials that that look pretty and are food/pest deterrent, and possibly a tea bush (Camellia Sinensis) but I don’t know if that will grow in my area. Will it?

How do you decide what to plant and where to put it in your landscaping? What resources do you use? Once you decide what you want to plant where do you get your plants? At the nursery or mail order? Any help or resources where you can point me to would be greatly appreciated.


This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday.

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In other Blog Business:
Are you going to BlogHer this year? If so, could you please login to BlogHer and vote for two Rooms of Our Own that I’m involved in and that aren’t getting a lot of votes? The Rooms of Our Own are causal meet up/networking opportunities held during lunch and are different than the panel discussions.

You don’t have to attend the sessions if you vote for them, but you’re welcome to!

Green Bloggers Room of Our Own (this is separate from the Green Blogger panel.)

When Your Family is Your Blogstalker/Troll Room of Our Own (fortunately I don’t have this issue, I’m promoting it for a blogger who obviously can’t mention it on her own blog.)

Thanks!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Shopping Cart Made Into a CHAIR?

Now this is a creative reuse project that I love and totally want – a chair made out of an old discarded shopping cart!

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I think one of the reasons I like reestore’s Annie chair is that it reminds me of a Bertoia chair. Again, which is something I want but don’t know where to put in my small living room so it stays at the store where I visit it often.


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I wouldn’t mind having this once-was-a-washing-machine-drum-now-is-a-coffee- table either. Why didn’t I think of this before we had our old broken washing machine hauled off to be sold for scrap metal?


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What I love about both of these reestore projects is that you don’t automatically realize what they are made out of just by looking at them. Especially the washing machine drum table. When I first looked at it I though it was a nice arty modern side table, something like the Bowhaus dog crate/coffee table combo.


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It’s only until I read the description that says the Silvana is remade from a washing machine drum that I looked at it and said, “OH yeah, it does look like a washing machine drum.” Genuis!

Makes me want to check out a junkyard just to see what’s out there to remake.

What do you think? Would you consider buying either of these and putting them in your house? Yes? No? Maybe so?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are ecostore Plant Based Cleaners Grease Fighters?

I make some of my household cleaners but I’m always looking for other options. I don’t always have the time to whip up a batch of new cleaner and there are some cleaners that I just can’t make. I want those cleaning options to be safe to use around Blitzkrieg and my family. Fortunately finding some more environmentally friendly cleaning options just got a little easier because Meijer has teamed up with ecostore and has started carrying their line of environmentally friendly, plant-based cleaning products.


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ecostore is an established company that’s been making environmentally friendly cleaners, bar soaps, shampoo, baby products, and pet shampoos in New Zealand long before it became trendy. They list the ingredients and have the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available for all of their products on ecostoreUSA which I really appreciate because they aren’t required by US law to do so.

ecostore sent me three of their products to try: ecostore Citrus Spray Cleaner, Dishwash Liquid, and Cream Cleanser. To be honest, I like the idea of using plant based cleaners but sometimes the performance is lacking. I have to say that I was happily surprised by the performance of all three ecostore plant based products.

Cream Cleanser: I squirted it all over my stainless steel sink and prepared to scrub hard like I normally do with my homemade cleanser. Well, that wasn’t the case. The Cream Cleanser easily cut through the crud on my sink with minimal effort on my part. That’s great for me because I don’t have a lot of strength in my hands and wrists for heavy scrubbing due to spending way too much time typing on a computer. The Cream Cleanser is concentrated and I found that a dime sized splotch on each side of my stainless steel sink was more than enough to get the job done. It also works in the bathroom. It’s a keeper.

Citrus Spray Cleaner: I’ve mentioned before how citrus oils are excellent natural cleaners . The Citrus Spray Cleaner doesn’t have a huge overpowering scent, which my sensitive nose likes but it takes some getting used to because we’re trained to think that something has to have a strong smell to be an effective cleaner. That’s not the case here. The Citrus Spray Cleaner is an all purpose cleaner so I used it to clean both the kitchen and the bathrooms with good results. But the thing I really like about it is that once you buy your first spray bottle with the nozzle, you have the option of just buying a refill bottle of Citrus Spray Cleaner the next time you need cleaner which cuts down on waste!

Dishwash Liquid: This one surprised me the most. The Dishwash Liquid is concentrated and really bubbles up – much more than my store brand dish washing liquid. I was surprised how well the Dishwash Liquid cleaned the ring of dried bean yuck from the crock pot (always a difficult cleaning job) and turkey burger remains from the frying pan, again with minimal scrubbing on my part. But does the Dishwash Liquid really cut through grease? Husband declared the easy clean up job the Dishwash Liquid made on the turkey burger pan, “too easy” and like all good IT programmers once Husband finds out how well that something works, he wants to see if he can make it fail (occupational hazard or too much time watching Mythbusters?) Husband employed a little bit of the scientific method and grabbed various cooking oils from the pantry, poured them into small bowls, and then added the Dishwash Liquid. The Dishwash Liquid cut through the oil in the bowls and didn’t leave any oily residue behind. Husband gave its performance a thumbs up which is something because he’s more skeptical about the performance of natural based cleaners than I am! I think we just found ourselves a new dish washing liquid.

If you don’t live near a Meijer and want to try ecostore cleaners you can order them directly from the ecostore website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Make a Kicky Sunglasses Case

Husband surprised me with a gift from a vintage shop in the Short North – our arts district. I unwrapped the package and exclaimed,”I love them! These sunglasses are SO me! How did you know?!"

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“Because you picked them out the last time we were at Gallery Hop,” he said. “I went back to the store the following day and bought them for you. Don’t you remember saying that you’d buy them if you didn’t already have the pair of black cat eye glasses you bought on eBay?”

I don’t remember that conversation at all. I don’t even remember looking at the pair of sunglasses I now had in my procession. But I did know one thing.

Husband gives VERY good gift.

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I should keep him.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Talking Hybrids with Ford at the Columbus Auto Show

Is it wrong for a green leaning gal to like cars? I grew up on Ohio’s great north coast – Lake Erie. Right in The Rust Belt. So liking cars or at least appreciating the style and specs of cars kind of creeps into you by osmosis. I haven’t been to a car show since I was a kid when we'd make it a family day out.

Last week I got a chance to go to the Columbus Auto Show when Ford invited seven local bloggers/Twitterati to the show and showed us their new hybrid cars for 2010. David Finnegan (Hybrid Vehicle Manager) and Megan MacRae (PR for Ford) give us the lowdown on the hybrids and some of the more environmentally friendly features they are building into Ford’s nonhybrid lines. I’m not currently in the market for a new car, but I have to say that I was impressed that Ford is going in this direction and that I have an American hybrid car to add to my short list when it does come time to start doing the research on a replacement car (which for us, is basically when stuff starts falling off of the vehicle and it dies beyond repair.)

The first car David showed us was the Ford Fusion Hybrid . This car got my motor running because Ford finally has a hybrid sedan that I could consider owning. Husband and I like to drive small cars. They are more fuel efficient and fit our small family nicely.

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I was impressed by that the Fusion Hybrid gets killer gas mileage (39 mpg city fuel economy) and that the car’s battery bank is long lasting. David assured me that if you need to the replace any of batteries in the Fusion’s battery bank that you have to take it to a Ford certified shop for a replacement and so that Ford can make sure that the dead batteries are dealt with responsibly. Hurray!

Then I asked him the big question, “Does the Fusion Hybrid come with Sync ?” Sync allows you to plug your cell phone and mp3 player into the radio and activate them by voice commands like James Bond. I first learned about it when I saw the Ford display at The Ohio State Fair and at that time Sync was only available on one model. Turns out, that yes, it does, in fact Sync’s now standard on all Ford cars.

We also got to take a look at the Escape Hybrid , which is Ford’s first hybrid vehicle. While I’m personally not a fan of SUVs because I’m short and driving a SUV feels more like piloting a barge than driving a car to me, I was very impressed that the Escape Hybrid’s 31 mpg highway fuel economy was a tic better than my Ford Escort ZX2’s* fuel economy of 30 mpg highway. So if you have a large family or a job that requires you to haul a lot of stuff around for work, you could get a hybrid SUV that gets better gas mileage and is a little gentler on the Earth than my current 4 cylinder car. Nice.


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Sadly I can’t report how driving either of these hybrid vehicles differs from driving a car with a conventional combustion engine because test drives weren’t available to us.

So What If You Don’t Want a Hybrid?

Ford has added some more environmentally friendly features to their nonhybrid vehicles too. The Ford Taurus, Flex , and Lincoln MKS engines are redesigned for better fuel efficiency and performance, which they call Ecoboost. Yes, I rolled my eyes at the term too, because it seems like I get a lot of email about environmentally friendly products that sport “eco” somewhere in the name, but right now but I’m not sure what else they could call it that would make non-enviro people sit up and take notice.

Ecoboost is an engine design which allows an engine to perform like a V-8 engine but has the fuel economy of a smaller V-6 engine. They also have an Ecoboost engine that performs like a V-6 engine but has the fuel economy of a smaller 4 cylinder engine. I’m trying not to bombard you with a lot of technical details (because I could, but this isn’t Top Gear so I won’t) or sound too much like a commercial, but from an engineering standpoint, it’s pretty cool. Told you I grew up with a car loving Dad.

I also learned that seats made of soy foam, compostable seat fabric made from corn, and seat clips made from recycled water bottles are standard on Ford cars, even on the new Mustang !

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OK, I know, the Mustang isn’t a hybrid and it doesn’t have an Ecoboost engine either but I still drooled over it because my Daddy raised me right.

After touring the cars Ford treated us to lunch and I got to learn a little about my fellow bloggers and their sites. Give them a visit, won't you?

Lunch was tasty and I was happy to see that the restaurant used real silverware and napkins. It took only one little thing on my part to make it a zero waste meal – drink my ice tea without the disposable plastic drinking straw.

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Because my Daddy raised me right.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What are Your Favorite Essential Oils?

I first got into essential oils back when I started performing at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. Many of the booths there sold (and still sell) essential oils straight up and in blends for any and all uses you can think of depending upon the vendor or the type of essential oil.

One of my favorite oils is lavender because it smells pretty and is very calming when I'm in Type A Stress Puppy mode. It's antibacterial, and it's also a natural pest deterrent, which is another reason I planted it in my garden. That makes it very easy to dry lavender and bring it into The Condo for all of my lavender needs.

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But I'm getting a little tired of the lavender because I have a lot of stuff that's scented with it. My reed diffuser is out of essential oil and I need a change from the lavender. Give me some suggestions. What are your favorite essential oil scents?


Yes I realise that the lavender bucket photo is recycled from an earlier post. I could explain it away by saying that I'm all about recycling because well, I am. In reality, I built a new computer and I'm still working on loading software and files from the old build to my new build. Using photos I already have on my blog's server makes doing today's post a little bit easier while I'm in computer limbo. Thanks for understanding!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I’m on MSN Smart Money!

Thursday was a very, very good day. First off I spent the afternoon at the Columbus Auto Show courtesy of Ford. They invited seven local bloggers to the car show and showed us their new hybrid cars (I’ll blog about this later.) Oh and they took us out to lunch. Free lunch and car talk – cool. Included the local bloggerti – AWESOME! (Which only happened because I know Christina of A Mommy Story and she wrangled me an invite. She’s the big name local bloggerti. I just ride on her coattails.)

So I get home, thinking that’s a nice little perk and am feeling pretty happy. Then I open my email and find a message from MSN. They wanted to check some facts about my 20% Energy Savings Reduction Challenge because MSN Smart Money wrote an article about how I reduced my electricity use by 32% last year!


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You, know it’s a good thing that I sit down when I use the computer because I think I would have fallen down otherwise.

This article couldn’t come at a better time. It’s a big reminder to keep up with the energy saving habits because American Electric Power (AEP) will be raising our electricity rates 8% in 2009, decreasing them to 7% in 2010 (how kind), and then jacking them back up to 8% in 2011.

Ouch!

Since it’s the first day of Spring – hurray! – it’s time to switch over from winter energy saving habits to summer energy saving habits. I’ve blogged about mine. Tell me, what are your energy saving habits?
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) asked me to help spread the word about Earth Hour and to ask you if you’d like to participate. What and when is Earth Hour? Earth Hour starts at 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 28th . The WWF asks that you turn off the lights in your home for an hour as a symbolic show of support against global warming and climate change.

I had a lot of questions about the why and hows of celebrating Earth Hour. The WWF answered them best, so I’m going to use their words to give you the 411 on how to participate:

    • Earth Hour 2009 takes place on March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm—local time.


    • The date was set in March because it is close to the Spring Equinox, a period when
      the most number of countries around the world will experience darkness in the 8
      o’clock hour.


    • Earth Hour isn’t about how much energy is saved during one hour. The idea behind Earth Hour is that by working together, each one of us can make a difference on the issue of climate change. By doing something as simple as turning off the lights, we send a visual symbol to the world’s leaders that we are counting on them to work together to find solutions to climate change.


    • Earth Hour turns off non-essential lighting only. Lights necessary for public safety will not go out. Earth Hour has been conducted safely and without incident in more than 100 cities around the world.


    • Earth Hour is an inclusive event and everyone is invited to participate. WWF will provide tools online to enable any town, community, school, individual or organization to be part of the event.”
Some of the activities they suggest you can do while you are participating in Earth Hour is to have a candlelit dinner or do a family game night by candle or lantern light. If you live in a warmer climate you could invite some friends over to enjoy a fire in an outdoor fire pit or play a rousing game of flashlight tag.

Me? Well, I’m pretty literal when it comes to things like this so I’m considering turning off every single light in The Condo and having an hour long make out session with Husband in the dark on the living room sofa. You know – for the planet.

How are you going to celebrate Earth Hour?



This post is part of Thrifty Green Thursday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

10 Green Decorating and Craft Projects

I’m searching around the Condo and the Internet for ideas on what to write about for St. Patrick’s Day. I have the Scotch-Irish bloomers that I made for a show. Not historically accurate by any means, but still fun way to hide my unmentionables in case my skirt flew up during a fast and vigorous Scottish Country Dance turn during the show.


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I can’t believe I just showed my underwear to you people!

(Granted it’s underwear that goes over my underwear but it’s still underwear.)

But as the subject of a whole blog post - meh.

I think I’ll take it another way and
be lazy
do a recap of some the green (literal) and green (figurative) things we have around The Condo because I like to decorate with both types of green.

1. I made chew toys for Blitzkrieg’s dog cousin Chopper from scrap fabric. I’m also responsible for his festive t-shirt.


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2. Blitzkrieg has he own green blanket I made from a cast off baby blanket and paw print scarves.



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3. My first attempt at organic gardening! Sadly it doesn’t look this nice anymore. I replanted a couple of diseased plants and they spread pestilence throughout the garden bed . However, on the bright side, this year I get to completely redo the flower beds and make them 100% organic.



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4. A green/green project. I repainted and recovered these old doctor’s office chairs that Husband had in his bachelor apartment. The chairs now sit on our front porch.



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5. Organic gardening gone right. Once I figured out the nuances, I got a bunch of tomatoes from the plants growing in my upside down tomato planter .



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6. Another double green project. The light fixture in my craft room I made from old stemware!



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7. Don’t forget my green/green burlap rice bag turned shopping tote bag . I was so happy to find a good reuse for those old faded green curtains.



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8. Something I see everyday – the green tissue paper wallpaper behind my desk in my computer room!



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9. A row of green halogen desk lights on top of these bookshelves works as energy efficient overhead lighting in my computer room. Our builder didn’t install junction boxes in the ceiling of this room. This was a much easier fix. Cheaper too because I scored these sweet lights on sale at Target.



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10. Lastly, Husband’s childhood Mego Hulk stands guard over the washer and dryer in the laundry room. He’s green/green too because I decorated the laundry room with what I already had. Yes, it looks like a dorm room but fun for visiting kids.



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Now if only I could convince those visiting kids to do a load a laundry while they’re at it….


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

UNCUT Felt Slippers – Craft or Crap?

I read about these UNCUT felt slippers on Treehugger and then again on Craft. I suppose it’s an easy craft project for the noncrafty, and it’s environmentally friendly because the slippers are made from100% natural felt, but….

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I don't think I could bring myself to actually wear them.

That is unless one of my nieces or nephews made them for me. Then I'd have to do it or else risk losing my Most Fabulous Aunt on the Planet status.

Personally, I think I’ll just stick to my not so environmentally friendly, but fun, Freudian Slippers until they wear out.

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What do you think of the UNCUT felt slippers? Craft or Crap? Discuss.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to Make Powdered High Efficiency Laundry Detergent

My old washing machine died beyond repair. I replaced it with a High Efficiency (HE) washing machine. HE washing machines use less water than conventional washing machines (and save more electricity and water in the process.) You have to use a low sudsing laundry detergent. If you don’t, the washing machine could overflow. I thought that since every green source is pimping HE washers (including myself I suppose), I thought that finding low sudsing powdered detergent would be easy. Not so much. After a long search I found only two and hated both.

  • HE Option #1 - Tide HE made me itch. Not surprising because according to family lore my mother used Tide to wash my cloth diapers when I was a baby. Tide gave baby me diaper rash so bad that the skin on my butt chapped and bled. Even thought I ‘m an adult, my mom says she still feels bad about it. Which just goes to show you Mom Guilt NEVER goes away (sorry Mommies.)
  • HE Option #2 - Trader Joes was a huge disappointment. It is a plant based laundry detergent– yay! It didn’t clean our clothes very well. Especially Husband’s muddy and sometimes toxically sweaty running clothes. Be thankful computers don't have Smellorama.
I tried using a smaller amount than usual of a regular liquid detergent. It cleaned our cloths but stank up the washing machine after every load - BAD.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Easier Way to Clean with Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar converts know that a 5% acidity solution of white vinegar will clean and disinfect a countertop (although you don’t want to use it to clean a marble countertop – trust me on this one), deter a kitchen ant invasion, and kill mold and mildew in the bathroom.

Once I had the big Ah ha! Moment, I filled up an old spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water and got to cleaning. The Condo was clean but I wondered why it seemed that I needed to use twice as much of my vinegar and water solution to clean tough stuff like soap scum on my shower doors – my nemesis - than when I used other environmentally friendly cleaners.

The answer was right on the vinegar bottle. A regular bottle of white vinegar is already a 5% acidity solution.

Oh.

By adding water to the vinegar, I was reducing how effective it was as a cleaner and disinfectant. That’s why I needed to use twice as much vinegar to get the job done.

D'oh!

I solved the problem by screwing the spray nozzle of my old cleaning bottle directly onto the bottle of white vinegar. Now I’m cleaning more effectively with my 5% white vinegar solution (of course I but the empty bottle in my recycling bin.)


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And before you ask, no, The Condo doesn’t smell like pickles either.



Monday, March 9, 2009

Can You Wash a Plastic Bath Poof?

Not to be too TMI about it but normally I like to use a loofah in the shower/bath for all of my exfoliating needs.
Side note: Did you know that loofah is a type of squash that grows on a vine and not a sea sponge? Really! Well, you smart people out there probably already knew that but I didn’t until a few years ago when one of Husband’s uncles grew loofah and gave them out as parting gifts at a family reunion.

I now return you back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

I got a plastic bath poof with an unsolicited free sample in the mail. Not being one to waste things, I figured I’d use the plastic poof until it got yucky and then I’d switch back to my loofah stash.

Eventually the bath poof got yucky. I wondered if I could extend its life by washing it in a lingerie bag in the washing machine.

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Nope.

Landfill = 1, Creative Reuse = 0

Friday, March 6, 2009

How Do You Combat Cabin Fever?

“Don’t like the weather? Wait a few minutes and it will change.” That’s what we like to say in Central Ohio because it’s true. Hey, at least it gives the local TV weather people something to do. Unlike when I lived in Florida, where the daily weather forecasts went something like this,” It’s going to be hot as the devil’s anvil today, around 3:00 we’ll get a massive 15 minute thunderstorm, followed by more sweltering heat!”

Come March, I’d give almost anything to be stuck in one of those 15 minute can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face Florida thunderstorms because almost immediately afterwards the sun shines brightly and you can go play outside. That is, if you enjoy frolicking in 90+ degree weather. Months of grey winter days make the indoor-outdoor sweatbox and perpetual-armpit-sweat-stains-on-your-shirts that is Florida living seem almost romantic.

Normally to combat a case of When the is Warm Weather Getting its Who- Haa Back to My Part of the World?! (AKA February, March, and April) I start a project. Preferably something that involves power tools or smacking something with a hammer or at least a largish craft project like a t-shirt quilt.

Unfortunately the projects on this year’s DIY agenda are things I can’t plan, start, or do until it gets warmer outside like plan and replant the flowerbeds that were destroyed by bugs and pestilence (yes, I’m still bitter about it) or paint/do little updates on the kitchen. It’s still a little too cold to paint for the kitchen project and putting it on the back burner also has to do with the fact that the kitchen is Husband’s Domain. (He’s the main cook so he can call it whatever the hell he wants as long as he makes my dinner.) See, you can tell I’m cranky because I just used H-E- Double-Hockey-Sticks in a post. Bad me. Grumpy me. Stick of belchy weather me.

Husband’s in the middle of a big data migration project at work and the thought of coming home exhausted to a wonky kitchen right now is understandably very low on his “dealing with all of the inconveniences that come with a living in a long term DIY project” threshold right now.

Still I yearn for less of this…



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…and more of this.



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What do you do to combat Cabin Fever when there’s three more months of iffy grey weather?

I thought that checking around the blogsphere might provide a cheap warm weather escape. No dice. Most warm weather bloggers are planning and planting gardens - I’m insanely jealous.

I suppose I could start by writing a haiku:



Haiku Friday

Look forward to summer
Goodbye grey weather kvetchin’
Until the heat comes


Got any survival tips for me? How about a joke or funny story to make me laugh?

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Be sure to enter my Clean Well giveaway before it ends March 9, 2009!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How I Slashed my Electric Bills without Moving into a Yurt

Last March I started my own personal 20% Energy Reduction Challenge . My goal was to reduce the amount of electricity in my 1500 square foot free standing Condo used for the year by 20%.

Everything in The Condo runs on electricity except for the natural gas hot water, fireplace, and furnace.



I didn’t want to add solar panels or wind turbines to my home because they are a poor return on investment where I live. I also wanted keep all of my current non-Energy Star appliances. Everything I had still worked and it would be too costly and wasteful to replace. But most of all I wanted to see if I could meet my goals this way because a slew of Greenzillas insisted that I couldn’t do it without alternative energy and installing new energy efficient everything. I thought I could.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using Cloth Handkerchiefs – a Good Thing or Just Gross?

Ah-ah-ah-choo! Even though the weather is cold and the ground is still frozen, my seasonal allergies have kicked in lately. I’m sneezing and my face is leaking like it’s the middle of July or something – but it’s still only March!

After two weeks of sniffling and blowing my nose, it should be red and tender. Not this time – I switched to using reusable cloth handkerchiefs and boy does my nose thank me. So does my wallet. And maybe the planet does too.

To be honest, I grew up using disposable tissues. As a kid the only hankies in my possession were from my Grandmother and they became elaborately draped dresses for my Barbie dolls (a skill that came in handy when I went to an actual toga party in college) or worn on my head because they were bandanas.

As I was going through my old renaissance festival performer prop boxes I came across some of those old handkerchiefs. I used to carry them with me because obviously they were a lot more period to use then a 21st century paper tissue. Since those performance days are long gone, I figured why not try using those hankies now? If I didn’t like them or found it kinda gross, I always have the backup box of disposable tissues in the bathroom.

Turns out I actually like using the hankies better. They are softer on my nose. Using a handkerchief once and putting it in my pocket or purse for another future use was just like doing the same with a paper tissue so didn’t find it disgusting. And if I did, I just tossed the handkerchief into the laundry hamper and grabbed a fresh one.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Clean Well All-Natural Hand Sanitizer Review and Giveaway

I have the worst luck when it comes to using public restrooms, porta potties and the like – I always seem to use them right before they are scheduled to be cleaned, which means more often than not, they’ve run out of soap, water, paper towels, etc. To combat this I usually stash a bottle of hand sanitizer in the glove compartment of my car during car trips and in my bag when I go to an outdoor event or just in case I have a little mishap when cleaning up after Blitzkrieg at the dog park.

Unfortunately, the alcohol in my gel hand sanitizer dries my hands out horribly. Not to mention I found that many anti bacterial products contain triclosan , something that I’m now wary of. I started looking for options to those times when I need to wash my hands but am not able to use good old soap and water and don’t want to do it using iffy anti-bacterial chemicals. That’s when I found out about Clean Well All-Natural Hand Sanitizer.

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Clean Well makes alcohol and triclosan free anti bacterial hand sanitizers and foaming hand soaps that are made to kill germs using a blend of natural essential oils including thyme – an herb that has anti-bacterial properties. The Hand Sanitizers come in four scents Citrus Herb, Orange Vanilla, Spearmint Lime, and Lavender. I tried all four scents and I really like them. Husband liked them too because the scents weren’t overpowering and they didn’t dry his hands out either.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How to Repop Popcorn Kernels

One of my favorite go to snacks is popcorn. I like to make my popcorn old school – in a pot on the stove. It’s less wasteful than microwave popcorn, inexpensive, and if you don’t slather it in butter (real or fake), it’s pretty darn healthy.

After enjoying a bowl of popcorn during a pay per view movie on cable (no, not that kind of pay per view movie - get your mind out of the gutter – we watched Momma Mia! ) there were quite a few unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl. Normally I’d chuck them in the trash bin because I don’t think the kernels would break down in the composter and the last thing I need is for The Condo to look like Green Acres with corn accidently growing all over my front flowerbeds!

I looked at the unpopped popcorn kernels and thought about Crunchy Chicken’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge. I’d actually have something to report if I them threw away unless…I repopped those unpopcorn kernels and ate them.


I remember my mom telling me that her Grandmother would repop popcorn kernels but my mom said that it never worked for her. I figured what the hey? The worse that could happen is that I burn the kernels and throw them out which I was about to do anyway. I tried it and guess what – it worked!

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove