Brita® Back to College Giveaway!
Do you want to send your kiddo off to college with a good Brita® water habit while Back to College shopping? Yes? Good! I am giving away a $25 gift certificate. Click here to enter! The Brita® Back to College Giveaway runs from August 21 to August 29, 2014.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Here are four of my favorite natural sugar scrub recipes. They make great gifts too!
1.Basic Sugar Scrub Recipe
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
It’s my mother in law. And yes, she just invited the dog to her house with the implied invitation that Husband and I would chauffeur the dog to his dinner date. That’s what happens when your dog is more popular with your friends and family than you are I suppose. (Although it is heartwarming that the in-laws have realized that Blitzkrieg is as close as they are going to get to an actual grandchild from us for awhile. Don’t feel too bad for them. They have five grandkids from Husband’s other sibs, so the in-laws aren’t exactly hurting in the grandchildren department.)
We drive to the little farmhouse. Surprisingly we find it in disarray. Big chunks of drywall are missing from most of the walls. “Hey! You’re just in time! Mom says. “We’re celebrating a bit tonight. We just got the water back on.”
Turns out that when the renters moved out of the house in January, instead of turning the heat down to 55 degrees like you should in a soon-to-be unoccupied house during a snowy winter, they turned the heat OFF COMPLETELY. They didn’t bleed the water lines dry so let’s do the math, shall we?
Below zero temperatures + standing water in copper pipes =
One might think that the previous tenants did this out of ignorance. Chances are no. The renters were asked to leave after not paying rent for oh, say, the last 6 months of their stay. Hmmmmm...vindictive much? Consider yourselves formally crossed off our Christmas card list.
Once the big pool of standing water was removed from the floor, the burst pipes needed to be found from behind drywall all over the lower level of the house and replaced. Even though my father-in -law has much more experience in a whole lot more DIY areas than me, this job was much more than evn our DIY skills combined could handle. It was time to call in a pro.
Fortunately the man who lives next to the little gray farmhouse is a plumber. The job kept him quite busy for several months. At $22.00 an hour, the plumber’s family isn’t going to have to worry about being able to pay their rent anytime soon.
As the dinner party progressed and Mom and Dad entertained us with the trials and tribulations of fixing up the house yet again and I think - blog fodder! I started snapping photos of the broken pipes. Suddenly Husband appeared over my shoulder.
Husband: What are you going to make out of those?
Me: Money? Scrap copper prices are pretty good right now.
Husband: Yeah, but knowing you, you’re going to do something cool with the remains, right?
Me: No. I’m going to blog about the broken pipes.
Husband: Oh. That’s disappointing. I expected something cool.
Looks like I’ve trained him a little too well in creative reuse department.
What do you think? Is there anything I can make from burst water pipes?
Monday, April 27, 2009
I get questions about saving electricity a lot because I now have quite the reputation among by friends and family as an Energy Savings Maven (hey, there could be worse things, right?) I wondered if there really was such a thing as an energy efficient hot tub. I asked J Williams of Hot Tub Works that same question and one of his staffers offered to write a guest post on the topic for me.
Here you go my friends, this post’s especially for you!
Sink Yourself into an Energy-Efficient Hot Tub
By Jayne Hawkins
With the cost of electricity skyrocketing, it’s no wonder that we are constantly looking for ways to cut our utility budget. Saving money does not have to be difficult, and often requires just a few small changes within our homes. Even if you are new to the latest techniques, it’s never too late to make changes to keep your hard-earned wages in your wallet. Unfortunately, cutbacks and downsizing are causing many of us to reconsider our dreams and goals for the future. For many, this means saying no to a remodelled kitchen, summer patio, or relaxing hot tub.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Mother’s Day is several weeks away and after looking at this dirt patch for the last 6 months or so, I’ve been jonesing for some flowers.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Those plans changed the blink of a raccoon’s eye.
Husband (calling me from his cell phone): Lisa, I’m going to be late coming home from my run.
Husband: …you see there’s this raccoon in front of me on the running trail….
And I’m thinking “...and he’s foaming at the mouth…”!
Husband: …and he has a fishing lure stuck in his leg. He limped out into the middle of the trail from the woods. He’s just sitting there like he knows a human will eventually come along and help him. I can’t just leave him.
Not the raccoon in question but a realistic representation of an actual raccoon.
It took forever to get hold of the right people and then convince them to send someone out here. When I finally get hold of Wildlife Control, the lady, well, more like girl – actually, more like intern on her first day with preprinted answers on a sheet of paper in front of her asks me if I can bring the raccoon in to them.
She says, “Well, first you need a sheet… and get a broom or whatever and try to scoop it up into a box or something…”
…and all I’m thinking is Lady I’m a runner on a park path. The only thing I have with me is a cell phone! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember from school field trips involving park rangers that I’m not supposed to touch or move an injured wild animal because it might get scared and bite my face off. So after years and years and years of being told not to approach an injured animal and to call a wildlife professional, I now have a wildlife professional telling me, “Aw nah. It’s cool, just pick it on up and bring it on in! Biting? Rabies? Pea-Shaw! Stop overacting! You’ll be fine. (Budget cuts you know.)”
It took me awhile to convince Park Intern Girl to send someone here who can help Rocky Raccoon.
Me: Rocky Raccoon?
Husband: In between transfers some ladies walked past me on the trail and said “Oh yeah, we saw that raccoon with a lure in his leg here yesterday.” Which made me mad because I thought,” It was so nice yesterday that the park had to be full of people who noticed this injured raccoon and no one tried to call for help?! No wonder he’s limping around half dazed out of his skull. He must have lost a lot of blood.” I was determined to stay on the phone and get the poor little guy some help.
So after talking to 4 or 5 different places and people before I got to Park Intern Girl it was a lot easier to start calling him Rocky Raccoon than Raccoon-With-a-Fishing-Lure-Stuck-in-His- Leg-for-Over-24-Hours-While-Stupid-Humans-Saw-Him-and-Did-Absolutely-Nothing-to-Help-Him. I would have called him Ranger Rick but I figure the National Wildlife Federation had that one trademarked.
Me: Good Call. So what happened?
Husband: Eventually they told me that they’d send an Ohio Wildlife Service ranger out with a truck and a proper cage. Right now Rocky Raccoon/Not-Trademarked-Ranger-Rick decided move and is hanging out under a tree. I have to stay here to show the ranger where the Rocky is before I can even start my run, OK?
What kind of person would I be if I said no? That’s right a big, mean, rotten person that’s what.
Me: Of course. Do whatever you need to do. Take as long as you need.
That’s how we ended up skipping the big Earth Day festival and celebrated on a much smaller level.
PS: I called the Ohio Wildlife Service Monday to check on Rocky. He’s fine and will be released after his leg heals. He also said he prefers to be called Bubba because there are too many raccoons named Rocky in his part of the forest.
This post is part of the Green Mom's Carnival where our carnival topic is fittingly - Earth Day.
Monday, April 20, 2009
What’s a gal to do? Stink?
I don’t think so.
Luckily Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a certified Fair Trade and USDA organic soap that doesn’t use synthetic foaming agents or preservatives and was once only found in health food stores is now being sold at Target an at Dr. Bronner’s. Whoopee!
Dr. Bronner’s has added new scents to their classic castile soap. I got a chance to try the Rose and Citrus soaps. I liked both. They lathered well and even a small bottle lasts a long time. Surprising since it’s not a thick liquid soap. So yes, I’d definitely buy both, especially the Rose because it smells pretty and not like an old granny’s apartment.
Dr. Bronner’s also sent several products from their new Shikakai (Shee-kah-kye) line of personal care products. Both Husband and I liked the Lemongrass Lime Shikakai soap. The only thing I don’t like about the Shikakai soaps is now Husband periodically runs around the house yelling “SHIKAKAI!” and changes song lyrics to include the word “SHIKAKAI!” during home Karaoke nights. (Although I have to admit, it is a fun word to say.) But this probably won’t happen to you unless you’re married to
I tried washing my hair with both the Castile and Shikakai soaps. My hair was clean, but it felt a little like straw afterwards. I think the Dr. Bronner’s people must have anticipated this because they also sent me their Citrus Shikakai Conditional Hair Rinse and a bottle of their Lavender Leave In Conditioning and Light Styling Hair Crème. After using both types of conditioners my long thick hair no longer felt straw like and both products had a pleasant scent.
I was particularly surprised that Citrus Conditioning Hair Rinse smelled so nice because undiluted it looks like miso paste. I found that it was easier to mix if I shook up a couple of capfuls of water with a capful of Conditioning Hair Rinse in a small jar to dilute it before I got in the shower rather than during it just to keep shower time a little shorter. Gotta save that water, you know.
Win Some Soap! *Closed*
I am giving away one 8 oz bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Rose Castile Soap in honor of Earth Day. To enter to win this sweet smelling soap leave a comment telling me what is one environmentally friendly change you’re having a problem with implementing in your home. Who knows, in addition to winning a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s we might be able to brainstorm together and find a workable solution that I’ll write about it in a later post!
You can earn extra chances to win by doing any of the following after you’ve made your initial comment on my blog:
1. Write a post about my contest on your blog with a link back to Condo Blues.
2. Subscribe to the Condo Blues RSS feed.
3. Follow Condo Blues on Twitter.
4. Tweet about the contest on Twitter.
5. Put the Condo Blues button on the sidebar of your blog.
You must leave a separate comment for each method you used to enter the contest. If you choose to use every method of entry, you have up to six chances to win!
Please make sure that you leave a separate comment on my blog for each method of entry because I will use a random generator to select the winner. The contest will run from April 20 – May 3, 2009. This contest is open to US residents only. I will not share your email address with any third parties because I hate spam as much as you do. Although it’s not too bad served with eggs and a side of crunchy toast.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
It’s not that we were sick of environmentally friendly living, quite the contrary; we’ve been doing a lot of this stuff before it was cool or called green because it suited our lifestyle and values (OH MY GOD. Stop the presses! I just admitted that I had values.)
It was and sometimes still is, a little nuts because Every. Where. We. Turned.:
- Someone was spewing a scary sounding factoid, “Did you know that Americans use X of Y each year?” without quantifying if it was too much, or a just right amount for the person’s demographic. I mean, a family of 2 who uses 20 KWH hours of electricity a day may be overdoing it a bit but if a family of 8 were using 20KWH of electricity a day they may not.
- Some Greenzilla was spewing an it’s my way or the highway green practice. “If you don’t do X just like I do polar bears will die and it’s all your fault!” Realistically there are few 100% green compliant practices, or products around. And there are many levels and ways to green the same item or practice. Sometimes the choice comes down deciding to choose the least bad practice or item for you which may not be the best choice for me. Can’t we recognize that sometimes both of us are right?
- Celebrities whose hearts may in the right place were promoting some very not-living-in-the-real-world suggestions like I should try this New Green Thing called “eating leftovers!” (No lie. I actually heard this one over and over from a celebrity last year. What planet do you live on that you can regularly throw out perfectly good food before it spoils?) And then follow it up with the suggestion that everyone should go out and buy this $2000 reusable shopping bag that is so much better for the environment than the armloads of less expensive reusable shopping totes that we real people use because 50 cents from each expensive bag sold goes toward supporting a charity of disadvantaged people who go out and hug a full grown tree in the rainforest on their way to work in a sweatshop that makes flip flops from fallen banana leaves or something.
If you want to motivate me don’t give me guilt or absolutes, give me options so I can choose one that will work for me and my family and will allow us to all achieve the same goal!
Pretty please with organic sugar on top?
This year I decided that things are going to be different. I am not going to give in to Green Guilt which leds to Green Fatigue.
That’s not to say I’m the perfect environmentally friendly chiquita, I’m not. That’s also not to say that I’m going to thumb my nose at the whole thing and litter my yard with plastic drink bottles. I’m not going to do that either. Besides, we don’t drink a lot of soda. Now if you’re thinking glass beer or wine bottles, um, well yeah that’s different. We drink that stuff from time to time…
What I’m doing to fight green fatigue and now green cynicism (my, we humans are a fickle lot) is to choose one.
That’s entirely up to you.
Choose one broad area of your life/home/whatever to focus on greening for a specific period of time (say 6 months to a year. Again it may depend upon your situation.) Some of these areas may not apply to you. If you don’t like to do something, like gardening, you don’t have to do it. That’s OK because that’s the point. Here are a few suggestions:
- Utilities -reduce/use more efficiently electricity, natural gas, propane, water
- Reduce Rubbish/Waste - by recycling, reusing, purchasing items with less packaging or second hand (if applicable) The Rubbish Diet is an excellent source for tips on this.
- Reuse it - ditch the disposables and find a reusable equivalent. Before getting rid of something, can you find a creative reuse for it? Condo Blues is a excellent source for tips on this if I do say so myself :). Have you considered subscribing to my RSS feed?
- Food - try to focus on one, some, or all of these practices as your situation permits: eat seasonal produce, fresh conventionally grown produce/food with less packaging, cook from scratch more, eat/make meals from leftovers, eat/buy less processed food, try organic, or locally grown food (if/when available)
- Gardening - try growing some food if you like/can, or possibly a pot of herbs if you don’t have the room/desire/talent for a big veggie garden. If you don’t want to do a food garden, organic flower gardening is OK too.
- Transportation try walking/biking/public transportation/car pooling if your situation permits. Maintaing your current car is a good goal too.
- Clean green -there are many environmentally friendly cleaners you can buy or you can even make your own
- Fix or Repair it - This can be as small as hemming a pair of pants or as big as fixing a broken filing cabinet. If you don’t know how to fix something it’s OK to get a pro to do the job for you.
- Healthy and Beauty or clothing - maybe it's trying a new shampoo or bar of homemade soap, trying to shop at consignment stores, or making an effort to donate old clothes insted of throwing them away.
- Local issues - sometimes being active about changing a local issue might take precedence over finding the perfect compost bin for the time being.
- It keeps you from becoming overwhelmed. There’s a lot to learn. Unfortunately there's at lot of information on the same subjects that conflicts because some of these things are only now being studied and there are LOTS of opinions on the best way to do it. Take some time to figure what works best for you. Once you have something down, choose another item from your list and focus on that.
- It saves money. In many cases a broad green goal such as reducing waste means that say, in the case of cleaners, I wait until I’ve used the conventional product up before buying it’s green equivalent. If I concentrate on reuseable items or repurposing things I'll save money if I try using old dishtowels to use wipe up spills instead of constantly buying rolls of paper towels. If I concentrate on fixing things I'll still save money if I call a repairperson to fix my dishwasher instead of buying a new one.
- It keeps you from giving up easily or claiming it’s too hard. If you jump into the deep end of the pool and get rid of all of your conventual’s stuff and replace it with the environmentally friendly stuff at once it can be a big expensive shock and like binge dieting – it’s easy to fall off and stay off of the wagon.Bonus points to you if you know what video game this is from!
This post is part of Thrifty Green Thursday.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Gallery Hop is a great excuse to go out for the evening, do date night, and recharge the creative batteries by looking at some art, and stuff for sale in the funky shops along High Street. It's a pretty cheap night out too.
Lucky for you, I brought my camera with me so I can share some of the sights.
Husband and I popped into the Mahan Gallery and got a big surprise. Their current exhibition is by Ric Ocasek, yes that Ric Ocasek. Turns out that in addition to fronting The Cars and producing music for No Doubt and Black 47 (I knew I liked this guy!), Ric’s been creating art since the 1980’s. Noise Colored Party is his first art exhibition. I snuck a few photos of his work.
Most of shops in the Short North feature some sort of art exhibit too. These paintings are from a local artist and were on display at Luxury Fashion & Art, a new women’s clothing store.
Lookie what was in the window of one of the galleries. My greatest fear come to life – a Sock Monkey Chair!
Sock Monkeys CREEP. ME. OUT.
There are a lot of restaurants and bars in the Short North. We play that by ear. Sometimes we go out for a drink, a meal, or sometimes we just get a coffee so we can sip and stroll while taking in the sights.
This evening it was coffee. Don't worry about the waste, we grabbed coffee and a blondie (NOM!) at Cup o’ Joe, a local coffee shop that features biodegradable to go coffee cups.
Although the caveat here is that you have to toss the corn based plastic lid in Cup O’ Joe’s bin so it will be composted, otherwise the lid goes off to Landfill Hell. No big, we had to pass the coffee shop on the way back to the car.
I’m sure that some of you are wigging out and will tell me what an awful person I am for not bringing my own coffee mug from home. I don’t bring my to go mug to Gallery Hop because I like to travel light (small purse/no purse) and live on the edge (um, yeah, right) because that should we go to a bar or coffeehouse decision is made on the spur of the moment baby. Some nights we get wacky and don't get anything to eat or drink.
Craziness I know.
Besides if we decide that we want to pop into a bar for a drink instead of getting a coffee I doubt that a bar will let me bring/use my own coffee mug. (Will they?) Honestly I don’t think I really want to either. I mean, who drinks a martini from a travel coffee mug? (Unless you’re a Desperate Housewife trying to cover up the fact that you’re drinking a 24 oz travel mug full of martinis during the day or at work or something. That’s not really eco-savvy that’s “Lady, YOU NEED AN INTERVENTION!”) Please send your hate mail to condoblues [at] gmail [dot] com. Or you can just yell at me in the comments below. :)
Any thoughts? On the art? On Ric? On the freakiness of the Sock Monkey Chair? Or even on my coffee cup?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
So what to do with all of those left over Easter Peeps if you don’t like them either?
I suppose you could use them to make s’mores.
Of course when I make s’mores I’m more about lighting the marshmallow on fire to please my inner pyromaniac than actually making and eating the confection. A charred marshmallow bunny face peeping out from underneath the graham crackers could lead to some sort of psychosis or inner trauma. Like I don't have enough of that in my life already.
No, my friends, I say when life gives you marshmallow Peeps, pick up a glue gun and get crafty!
You can reenact Great Scenes in Rock and Roll History.
Or reenact scenes from your favorite movies, like Mommie Peepsest,
OK folks. Spill. Marshmallow Peeps. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Cabin fever, a discount coupon, and the fact that we could take Blitzkrieg with us, had us visiting the Columbus Pet Expo in order to
Husband got a free cloth baseball cap to wear and get sweaty when running. He promptly broke it in after we got home. Side note: I washed his hat in our washing machine and it survived! Neither of us expected that to happen. I didn’t stick it the dryer though. I let it dry on its own.
I got a freebie tote bag. I didn’t realize until I got it home that it has a side pocket for a water bottle. I stuck my Earthlust bottle in the pocket so you can see it. Lo and behold once I cover up the logo, I think I found the new Dog Mommy Bag!
I try to get a freebie swag tote bag at events I attend because I use them as reusable shopping tote bags. I also find that the freebie nylon backpacks are great for trips to the dog park, or for Husband to carry stuff in (keys, wallet, etc.) when he runs, and they’re very useful if you suddenly find yourself on crutches and you need to carry something around the house – guess how I found that one out?
If I don’t feel like being a walking ad for the sponsor, I just turn the backpack around so the logo faces my back. Or I cover up the logo with something .
Personally I don’t mind if my reusable shopping bag has a logo that is different from the store I’m shopping at but I know some people do. My favorite tote bags are two canvas bags I bought from Kroger an eon ago. They are the first bags I fill from the stash. I figure if Meijer hates the fact that I bring my sturdy Kroger bag into their store then they can give me a Meijer branded tote bag for my groceries – at no charge. Funny, that never happens; they just pack up my purchases and send me on my merry way.
Plus using a free swag bag tote bag is an easy way to find out if you can make the reusable shopping tote bag thing work for you without laying out any cash. You can always upgrade your bags to something sturdier if you decide that you like it.
How do you feel about logoed tote bags? Love them? Hate them? Do you reuse them, revamp them, or toss them aside?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
That’s why when SC Johnson presented me with the opportunity to try and review their Nature’s Source Natural Cleaners I said yes. I hoped that if a greener cleaner found in a typical grocery store worked well and if it is as natural as the company claims then it might be an option for my fabulous readers who don’t have access to specialty stores that sell green cleaners.
I tried all four cleaners in the Nature’s Source line the Natural All-Purpose Cleaner, Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner, Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner, and Natural Bathroom Cleaner. All smelled good but weren’t overly scented, which now that I switched over to more natural cleaning products bugs me even more that it used to (and it did quite a bit.) The Natural All-Purpose Cleaner and Natural Glass and Surface Cleaner both worked well. They do not contain ammonia, bleach, or phosphorus. I think that either or both of these cleaners would be a good option for those of you who don’t like cleaning with vinegar because of the smell. In fact, all of the cleaners in the Nature’s Source line had a nice herbaly (is that a real word?) scent.
My only complaint is that the design of the Natural All-Purpose Cleaner and the Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner bottles and the labels look too much alike. I’d frequently grab the Glass & Surface Cleaner out from under the sink when I thought I had the All-purpose Cleaner and vice versa.
But what I really liked were the both bathroom cleaners. We eat lots of veggies and grains in The Condo and um, well, there is frequent need for the cleaning of toilets. I generally use vinegar and baking soda as a foaming toilet cleaner. It works OK but requires extra scrubbing with the toilet brush (I can’t bring myself to clean the inside of a toilet bowl with a rag or sponge – EWWWW!) Cleaning the toilet was like night and day when I used the Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner. No extra scrubbing with the toilet brush, only a minimal swooshing and the bowl was clean. So much easier than the borax soaking in the toilet method too. I like.
I also liked the Natural Bathroom Cleaner which cleaned the shower and tub – always high on my dreaded cleaning task list – nicely. And even though the Natural Bathroom Cleaner and the Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner both sport the Scrubbing Bubbles logo on their labels, they do not contain its harmful chemicals. All of the Nature’s Source cleaners are made with plant based ingredients. In fact, SC Johnson discloses what the ingredients are in all of their cleaners on What’s Inside SC Johnson. I really appreciate this and wish more companies would do the same.
It’s also good to know that the bottles are recyclable and that the triggers, while not recyclable, are made in a factory that uses renewable energy. Nice touch.
There may be some of you out that won’t try the Nature’s Source products just on principle. SC Johnson makes other products with not so environmentally friendly chemicals. It’s true. But the Nature’s Source products are what the company says they are – all are plant based cleaners. And in this world of supply and demand, if you want a large company to change their ways, then encourage them to make the environmentally friendly products by buying them and making it a profitable product line.
All and all, I like the Nature’s Source products. Not any more expensive than a conventional chemical laden cleaner and definitely a greener cleaning choice for those of you who live in areas that don’t have a wide variety of green shopping options.
Disclosure: I recieved free Nature's Source products so I could conduct this review - how else will I know what they clean like? I didn't get paid to conduct this review. This post contains affiliate links but I didn't give the products a positive review just so you would buy them via my affliate link. As much as I hate to admit, the products are as green as they say they are and clean very well. If you make a purchase using the link in this post, I earn a small commission (really small) which will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog at no additional cost to you.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
How to Dye Easter Eggs With Spices
I’ve read that several sources have tried to use spices to dye Easter eggs. Most of the things they tried like beet juice didn’t work too well but one did – turmeric.
It’s odd but we have a very large international population in Columbus. There are a ton of independent grocery stores for just about every ethnic population here - Middle Eastern, Asian, Hispanic/Mexican, and Hippie – those are our health food stores. I can get spices on the cheap and sometimes in bulk if I buy them from the ethnic/health food stores. However, your mileage may vary.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Even better was that Husband used our baking stone to make the scones. A seasoned baking stone is a wonderful alternative to using a Teflon baking pan which can leach questionable substances into your food while you cook it. It also saves me a little bit of money because I don’t have to use cooking oils, butter, spray with a seasoned baking stone.