Wednesday, December 22, 2010

11 Green Ways to Clean for the Holidays

One of the last things I do before the holiday gathering starts is clean my house. I suspect you might too. Or at the very least will need to do a through cleaning AFTER the holiday hordes have invaded your home.

You can still have a clean house and keep it a green house. Here are 11 tips for green cleaning from some of the coolest bloggers around. If you look closely at timestamp 0:40, you’ll see little ol’ me!

Monday, December 20, 2010

AEP GridSmart: Electricity Saving Tool or Intrusive?


When it comes to electricity, we all want it. We all need it. We keep creating more and more items that use it to make our lives easier or more fun or more efficient. However, I can’t help but think where is all of that extra electricity we use going to come from?

As it is, there are cities, even whole states, that consistently use more electricity than they can generate on their own. Building new power plants of any type (using alternative or conventional means of making electricity) is difficult because while everyone wants to reap the benefits (including myself) no one wants a new power plant in their backyard because it can mess with property values.

For now, the best course of action may be to collectively use what electricity we have a little more wisely. This is difficult, even for me. I really don’t know how much electricity I’m using until long after I’ve used it - at the end of the month when I get my bill.

One method is for electric companies, like mine, American Electric Power (AEP) to use gridSMART   smart meter and grid technology to reduce electricity consumption and improve system wide delivery and performance. It would mean having a smart meter, a Programmable Communicating Thermostat, and eventually appliances with smart chips in your home. That way, you can check your use in real time on line, be billed for your use at a flexible billing rate, and make adjustments as you see fit.  

 A conventional electric meter next to a digital smart meter

It sounds great! I also like that the gridSMART technology runs on auto pilot much like my current programmable thermostat. The only difference is that unlike my current programmable thermostat (which I learned that most people don’t use because programming them can be a pain) the Programmable Communicating Thermostat is easier to program. The Programmable Communicating Thermostat and smart chip appliances would also send information back to AEP about my use during peak use times such as sweltering summer days and allow AEP to lower my temperatures a notch to prevent a system overload or brown out.

That last part sounded a little Big Brother to Husband. Because as much as we like saving electricity and having a lower than normal electric bill, we hate people telling us what we have to do in our own home. Husband also wondered what prevents someone from reducing the refrigerator’s electrical use to the point it makes ice cream melt because they want to be mean. 

AEP GridSMART


I was invited to a blogger lunch and presentation sponsored by AEP, Mom Central Consulting , and Silver Spring  to discuss AEP’s gridSMART program and get some answers to Husband’s questions.

AEP’s new gridSMART pilot program will install new Smart Meter’s on customer’s homes (sadly not in my area of the city.) Unlike the current mechanical meters, digital Smart Meters have encrypted wireless two way communication between your house and the electric company so no one can mess with or access your information. Besides the flexible billing rates and allowing customers to set up an alert when you move to a higher energy pricing tier, the smart meter will automatically alert AEP when there is a blackout.

Under the current system, at least three homes have to call it in before AEP knows that there is trouble. That last part made me sit up and take notice, because as you all know Mother Nature likes to send me blackouts. They build character.

Opt In, Opt Out GridSMART Programs

All of those services get me excited but in the interest of checking things out thoroughly I had to ask about some of the things that gave Husband a Big Brother like vibe. Mainly:

·        “Offering consumers the option to receive a rebate in return for allowing AEP to send set back signals to a Programmable Communicating Thermostat during peak load conditions.
·        In the future you will be able to control the energy usage of the appliances in your home through chip connected to your home area network. “ AKA: Smart chip appliances.

Fortunately, under AEP’s gridSMART program these options are opt in only. You are given a financial incentive in the form of a rebate to have the AEP Programmable Communicating Thermostat installed but if you don’t want it, you don’t have to have it.

In addition, even if you have it installed and say, you’re having a houseful of relatives over on a crazy hot summer day, you can override the temperature if AEP wants to lower your thermostat a notch or two.  The same goes for the smart chip appliances – because who wants melty ice cream? Not me!

All changes need to be approved through the Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) before AEP rolls them out to their customers. So that lessens the chance that someone will be lowering your electrical use just to be spiteful to Not Going To Happen.

AEP Ohio is one of the first utilities to test this program. They tell me that gridSMART is the trend and something like it will eventually be coming to you. What do you think? Is it a money and energy saving tool or too intrusive?

Disclaimer: I wrote this post after attending an informational luncheon on behalf of Silver Spring Networks and Mom Central Consulting and received a gift bag and gift card as a thank you for taking the time to participate. This had no bearing on my opinions and all thoughts and opinions are my own. As you all well know, I can be highly opinionated.
 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Changed 303,736 Light Bulbs. What Did You Do Today?

Even though I’ve been living a green life for longer than the three years I’ve been blogging about it, I don’t consider myself a dark green blogger or even an expert most days.

Yes, I was on TV last winter but I think that was more of being a crazy freak who keeps her house too cold during winter than being a held up as Big Green Champion. Saving energy is very important to me and I blog about it a lot , but let’s face it, saving energy is not as sexy or unusual as some other areas of green living that get more press.

So I do my daily green thing and try to do my best with what life hands me. If I can make you laugh or make you think or offer you a new tool for your Greening Living Swiss Army Knife, make your home a little prettier or challenge you to personally change 303,736 incandescent light nulbs for CFLs in fourth months then it’s a good day here on Condo Blues. 

“What?! Are you nuts?!” you say, “Do you think I could actually change all of those light bulbs in a such a short amount of time?!”

I sure do. It's easy!

How I Planted 8,209 Trees in Four Months


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Three Great Gift Bag Ideas

Oh gift bags how you make wrapping gifts so speedy! Gift bags are fabulous for wrapping odd shaped gifts like soccer balls and stuffed animals. Gift bags can easily be reused from one year to the next, which makes them an easy and  inexpensive way to go green without being so In Your Face Trying To Send a Message. 

Don’t you just love it when the cheapest and easiest way is the greenest way?

According to an article on Lehman’s blog: “We throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of year.  This amounts to 25 million tons of extra trash.”

Wow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Three Amazing Toilet Paper Tube Crafts

My favorite type of recycled craft projects is the type that completely transforms a seemly simple item into something amazing and unrecognizable. I think all of the people who entered the White Cloud Imagination Unrolled Contest did just that. Look at the winner’s projects!

 First Place Winner is this Garland



 

 The Second Place winner is the Titanic
The third place winner made these cute TP people

I have a hard time deciding if the Titanic is my favorite or the garland. I’m leaning toward the garland because that’s something I could use if I made it.

I had better start saving toilet tissues rolls just in case.



If you’re looking for a great kid or holiday craft, check out the rest of the entries on My White Cloud . 

Disclaimer: I am a White Cloud blogger and they are compensating me for the considerable time I  am spending on this project. However all opinions are my own and are not  influenced by this compensation which is going directly into the Blitzkrieg Surgery Fund.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Basket Laundry Method Saves Time, Money, and Energy

When I first met Husband, he made laundry a one time only task by shoving everything he owned into one load in the washing machine – whites, darks, reds, every thing! Then he ran the washer on the hottest setting possible. What didn’t shrink, faded and all of his white t-shirts were gray

Husband has been banned from doing laundry.

For Husband separating your dirty clothes into whites, darks, and brightly colored loads mystifies him. He thinks that we would be doing several little loads of laundry a week instead of full loads of laundry that not only save time but also save energy.

That’s when I created the Three Laundry Hamper Method. We have three identical laundry hampers in our closet. Each hamper has a label.

  • White Clothes – All dirty white items should be deposited here for washing.
  • Dark and Red Clothes – All dirty dark and red items should be deposited here for washing.
  • Brightly Colored Clothes - All dirty brightly colored items should be deposited here for washing.

Each family member is responsible for putting his or her dirty items in the appropriate hamper. If I had small children, I’d color code the tags or draw pictures of the items so they can identify what goes where.

The three laundry baskets allow me to see when a hamper will make a full load of laundry.  To save even more electricity I wash all of my clothes in cold water. According to Treehugger

“Washing every load on the hot/warm cycle (in a top loading machine and an electric water heater) for a year is equivalent to burning about 182 gallons of gasoline in a car; in an average (19.8 miles per gallon) car, that'll get you around 3595 miles. So, wash in hot/warm, or drive almost 3600 miles -- same difference”

I’ve been washing in cold for years and my clothes get just as clean as they did when I used warm and hot water but without the fading! I credit my whites staying white and my bright colors staying bright because I wash them in cold water and add a bit of oxygen bleach when needed.

If you’re worried about killing dust mites or germs on your clothes, pop them in the dryer. A dryer heats your clothes hotter than washing machine water.

I sent A Gift of Green ecard   to my mom as a little reminder about her laundry situation.


 
You can still pledge and acts of green, which would be helpful since Cisco hasn’t met their goal of one million people completing at least one small act of green. 
 
What is your laundry tip or woe?

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Disclosure:  Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with  Cisco are compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation. See what the other ambassadors have to say about One Million Acts of Green: Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Green Your Décor and Green and Clean Mom.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Make Gift Bows from Magazines Without Staples or Tape

I had the Christmas crafting itch but no time to get involved in a huge project since I was leaving town for Thanksgiving.What’s a creative, crafty girl to do? 

As I was about to put a bunch of travel magazines that a friend had given me into the recycling bin I saw that I was out of gift bows in my gift wrapping supply box. 
I just found my quickie Christmas craft!

I recycled those old magazines to make Christmas gift bows from old magazines. You can also make Christmas gift bows from potato chip bags but I didn’t have any of those at the time.

I used How About Orange’s gift bow tutorial but instead of using glue, staples or tape like she did I used metal paper fasteners, which made the project a lot less messy.

How to Recycle Magazines into Gift Bows

You will need:

1 magazine page or clean empty chip bag
Pair of scissors or exacto knife (I think using the exacto is easier)
1 1-inch metal paper fastener
Ruler
Cutting mat (if you have it and are using the exacto knife)

Make it:

1. Cut three 3/4" wide by 10 ½” tall strips from the magazine or empty chip bag. 

2. Cut three 3/4" wide by 9 ½” tall strips.

3. Cut two 3/4" wide by 7 ½” tall strips.

4. Cut one 3/4" wide by 3 1/2” tall strip.  You should have nine strips total.


5. Twist each end of a 10 ½” tall strip into a figure 8.

6. Push the figure 8 strip onto the paper fastener. I found that making a small hole with a pair of scissors in the center of my figure 8 made it easier to pierce the figure 8 with the 1-inch fastener.


7. Twist the remaining 10 ½” tall strips into figure 8s and add them to the paper fastener.

8. Twist each of the 9 ½” tall strips into figure 8s and add them to the paper fastener.


9. Twist each of the 7½” tall strips into figure 8s and add them to the paper fastener.

10. Make a loop with the 3 1/2” tall strip and add it to the paper fastener.


11. Bend the ends of the paper fastener to hold the loops in place.

12.  Slap that bad boy on a gift and gaze in wonder!

WARNING: Magazine bow making can be addictive!

The first few bows I made were a little wonky. The more I made, the more store bought bow-like they became. You can adjust the overall size of the bow by using longer or shorter strips to make it.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

30 Homemade Gift Ideas for Women, Men, Girls, Boys and Dogs

I Christmas shop year round for items as well as for ideas. That way I have time to make sure my gift is meaningful to the recipient. It spreads the spending out throughout the year so I never have to pay with credit. Sometimes I buy and sometimes I DIY it really depends upon what I think the person will like or need that year.




Jenn of The Green Parent  suggested to those of us in The Green Mom’s Carnival with craftier blogs could write about gifts/decorations that folks could make with the stuff they already have around the house as a way to offer suggestions on how to celebrate the holidays without going overboard.

This year my DIY options are severely limited. I killed my sewing machine last year making Christmas gifts. Seriously. The thing won’t run. At. All.

*whimper*

Since I can't make anything new, I went through some old posts and came up with 30 ideas for homemade holiday gifts for women and girls, men and boys, families, and your little dog too!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Warm a Winter Room with Free Heat!

To save energy and heating costs I don’t turn on my furnace until it’s consistently 40 degrees (F) outside. That makes for some nippy nights when the outdoor temperatures dip down to 40 degrees in the evening. BRRRR!

I put extra blankets on my bed to snuggle under. However, my bedroom has a pitched ceiling. I loved the high ceiling in that room when we bought the house until the first winter - because heat rises.  It is a spendy room to theat and even then it’s still cold.

Reversing the blades on a ceiling fan would do the trick but I don’t have a ceiling fan in that room. Not to worry, I have a free space heater for my bedroom and I bet you do too!



Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Green Bag Lady

I don’t support laws that ban plastic shopping bags because it ends up hurting people that cannot afford to buy reusable shopping bags. I’d rather a store or city offer incentives for using your own bag because I think you get more flies with honey than vinegar. That’s why I had to interview Teresa VanHatten-Granath when I heard about her Green Bag Lady Project.


In an attempt to make her corner of the world greener, Teresa makes and gives away free cloth shopping bags! The project started in her own college classroom. She now has people using her free cloth shopping bags around the world!


Green Bag Lady Bag Number 111170.


How long have you sewn? How did you get started making shopping tote bags?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How Low Does Your Furnace Go?


My friends and family consider me the Energy Saving Maven because I reduced my home’s natural gas and electric use by 32% using cheap home improvements and new habits. So it wasn’t a surprise when a friend of mine asked me to come to his house and help him lower his sky high heating bill last winter.

I trudged through the new fallen snow on his sidewalk and rang the doorbell. He answered it wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

It was easy to find the answer to his high energy use and heating bill.

I don’t expect you to lower your daytime temperatures to my frigid 58 degrees (F), but if you accept Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Your Buns Challenge and lower your heating temperature by only a few degrees it will do a world of good. In the case of my friend, he has rescue birds so he came up with lowering his daytime temperature from 75 to 68 degrees (F.)

This year, I’m using the One Million Acts of Green Give the Gift of Green Facebook app to send my friend a reminder to not to jack his furnace this winter.



You can use the One Million Acts of Green Give the Gift of Green Facebook app this November trough December to send a green act as a “gift” that publishes to their News Feed. If the person isn’t on Facebook, you can send your message to them as an e-card.

How low does your temperature go during the winter?

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Disclosure:  Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with  Cisco are compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation. See what the other ambassadors have to say about One Million Acts of Green: Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Green Your Décor and Green and Clean Mom.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reclaimed Barnwood Floors - Yea or Nay?

I love decorating and doing projects with reclaimed and recycled materials. I also like hardwood floors. Schlabach Woodworks is an Ohio company that combined my two loves and recently used reclaimed wood from an old Ohio barn to create these swoony hardwood floors in a house featured in the 2010 Parade of Homes.

 Look at that character!




You wont' find this in a big box store!

They also make staircases and mantle pieces from old barn wood too. Sadly I can't give you any more information than what I just did because Schlabach Woodworks doesn't have a web site due to their Amish roots.

Very green. Unique, but spendy and much nicer than laminate flooring. Although with a reclaimed barn wood floor like this, you really wouldn’t need to replace it as you eventually would with carpeting. It should last a lifetime!

What do you think? Reclaimed barn wood floors – yea or nay?


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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trying Recycled Content Toilet Paper, Take Three

Monday I talked about how my family is doing a blind tushie test of two brands of recycled content toilet paper. White Cloud sent us two rolls of toilet paper marked A and B. They also said we should “have fun” with the testing.

Husband and I took this as a cue to do scientific experiments like on Mythbusters. That didn’t work out very well because all of our favorite episodes are the ones that involve blowing stuff up. Apparently they don’t sell C4 and blast shields to just anybody, let alone let you use the your local police bomb range to test durability by blowing up rolls of toilet paper. The nerve!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Make a (Cute) No Solicitors Sign

One of the drawbacks of living in a condo community with nicely planned blocks of houses with sidewalks is that we are ripe for the picking when it comes to door to door salespeople. Now that it’s election season, it’s becoming downright unbearable! I’ve had more than one person come to the door pimping the same issue despite asking them to please take them off our visitation list. It's not that I'm politically unaware, I am more than you know. It's just that I don't want my Saturday HGTV and DIY Network coffee + snuggling doggie + dream time interrupted three times in one day with a parade of people knocking on my door about the same thing. The worst offenders are the fake water testing companies trying to tell us our water will kill us unless  we buy their product allow them to test our water.

I decided to make a No Solicitors sign.

I bought a frame at Goodwill and sanded it.
 
 It doesn't look like much but this frame is an achievement. I went to Goodwill looking for picture frames and came out of Goodwill with picture frames instead of picture frames plus the dozen other things that tempted me. Yay me!

I used leftover outdoor paint from my porch chair revamp project to paint my picture frame since it will live outside.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five Toilet Paper Roll Crafts and a Contest!

Toilet paper and paper towel roll crafts are an elementary school staple. Lately, adults are dipping into their recycling bins, making toilet paper and paper towel roll crafts that are more artistic than kiddie craft.

Who hasn’t seen the toilet paper roll leaves wall art and not been inspired?

Photo courtesy of Design Sponge

I am! The Design Sponge wall art inspired me to decorate my telephone book wreath with toilet paper roll flowers.

I made this!

I think Paint Cut Paste’s Toilet Roll Pumpkin Garland  is so clever! I want to try something like it with Danish Christmas hearts.

Photo courtesy Paint Cut Paste


This cartoon wall art looks like it uses both whole toilet paper and paper towel rolls. It reminds me of old eight bit computer game graphics. The computer geek in me digs it.


Photo courtesy of Toilet Paper World Blog

How to Gal’s turquoise toilet roll wall art is nothing short of genius! It looks like an expensive wrought iron wall hanging. Love! Love! Love!

Photo courtesy of How To Gal


What have you made with toilet paper rolls?

Imagination Unrolled Contest!

Put those toilet and paper towel crafting skills to the test. White Cloud is holding the Imagination Unrolled Contest. Take a photo of something you’ve made with empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes and upload the photo. If your entry gets the most votes you win the $1,000 Grand prize! Two runners up will win $500. Voting begins November 11th, so you a some time to create the perfect craft. Or gather your materials. If you need more, there are coupons available at White Cloud.

Imagination Unrolled Twitter Party!

To get everyone in the mood, White Cloud is hosting a Twitter party Thursday, October 21st 3pm - 4pm CST (1pm pacific, 2pm mountain, 3pm central, 4pm eastern.) The theme is Imagination Unrolled. They will be discussing how to 'Unroll Your Imagination' throughout the house. I think it would be the perfect opportunity for us crafty and green folks to jump in because repurposing and reimagining our old stuff into new stuff is something in which we excel.

Oh, and White Cloud will be giving away a $50 gift card every 10 minutes to a random Twitter party participant as an added incentive. The holidays are coming and who couldn’t use a little extra money to buy life’s necessities?

How to Participate in a Twitter Party

Log in to Twitter at the appropriate time in your time zone and follow the party host @WhiteCloudMom. Search and follow the hashtag #WhiteCloudMom. When you post make sure you use the #WhiteCloudMom hashtag in your post so everyone following the Twitter party can read what you have to say whether they personally follow you or not.

I like to use Tweetgrid to follow along in Twitter parties because it gives you different columns for the host’s tweets, your tweets and @’s and a third column for the party’s tweets. It also automatically ads the hash tag to the end of your tweet so everyone at the party can see it.

Twitter parties are a fun way to share ideas and meet like minded people you wouldn’t normally know to follow on Twitter. I always find new and cool people to follow after a Twitter party, every once and a while I win a prize. A nice bonus indeed!

Are you going to be at the Twitter party? Are you going to enter the Imagination Unrolled contest? Let us know if you enter the contest so we can all vote for you! I’m not entering because I’m not eligible. Why?

I’m a White Cloud (Mom) Blogger

White Cloud asked me to join their White Cloud Blogger’s group. What does that mean exactly? Well, first off I will be promoting crafting with toilet paper and paper towel rolls, which is something I do anyway because:
  • It’s green
  • It’s clever
  • And it’s cheap :)
Apparently, I will eventually be asked to put my family’s hiney on the line with some blind tushie testing of recycled content White Cloud paper projects. This one should be interesting.  I just opened the last box of that sand paper like one ply recycled content TP I bought on Earth Day mega sale for my April One Small Change. It will be banned from our house forever once we’ve finished the box. We love it that much. Will the White Cloud Green Earth be any better or more of the same?

Why am I doing it? Well, because White Cloud is something that is available all over the place. I have family that live in itty bitty cities that don’t have access to all of the shopping places I do. I suspect that many of you live in areas like that too. I don’t think green living or products should only be for those of us who have deep pockets or live in large cities.

Most importantly, White Cloud agreed to play by my rules. I get to be me in all of my blunt and wacky self. I still get to say things like “I’m putting my hiney on the line for you and the environment” and “tushie” because you I’m still a professional jester at heart.

I also get to give you my absolute honest opinion about everything I do and my absolute honest opinion about their products. They are convinced I’m going to love their recycled content products. Husband and I are holding our collective breath, hanging onto our seats with a slightly skeptical “Prove it!” because we do not love the better for the environment but port potty like recycled content TP we are using now.

Who knows? I’ve been proven wrong about a product more than once (or like a zillion times.) It would be nice if this works out. We shall see…


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I am submitting this post to the following link parties.

Disclaimer: White Cloud is compensating me for the considerable time I will spend on this project. However all opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation and long time readers know I am highly opinionated.

Friday, October 15, 2010

9 Green Big Lots Finds

Shopping thrift stores, consignment shops, eBay, etc. are all ways to shop green. However, sometimes when I’m looking for something specific, or I don’t see it in those stores, or I don’t have time to wait for it to show up in those places because I need/want it NOW, I buy it new.

This is probably doesn’t happen to you because you are all more awesome and more patient that I am.

Well, as I was looking, OK, obsessed, with finding silicone skull ice cube trays for Blitzkrieg I walked into a nearby Big/Odd Lots. Well, guess what? I hit the mother load of inexpensive green items! I had my camera with me and snuck a few photos of my finds for you.

Let’s take a look.


Glass bakeware. Some have lids!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Little Edie Grey Gardens Costume

 After I saw the Gray Gardens HBO movie, I knew I wanted to be Edith Bouvier Beale or “Little Edie” (she was named after her mother who everyone called “Big Edie”) for Halloween. This year husband and I are going to a Halloween party in the Short North, our arts district. If anyone should know who Little Edie was or about Grey Gardens, it would be this crowd.

Little Edith Bouvier Beale was known for wearing scarves to cover her alopecia. When their fortune ran out and Gray Gardens disintegrated into a filthy mess that violated every health and housing code on the books, she obviously did not have money to update her wardrobe. Instead, she wore what she had in odd combinations. Tablecloths became skirts, wildly patterned hose, sweaters became head coverings to create what she called “bohemian” or “revolutionary" costumes.

I took my cue from this clip of Little Edie describing her “best costume for the day” in the 1975 Grey Gardens documentary.

Drew Barrymore recreates this scene in the HBO Grey Gardens movie.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Fix a Running Toilet

The water in my toilet tank ran after each flush. I did a temporary leaking toilet fix by turning off the water to the toilet by turning the knob at the base of the toilet.

The toilet sat with the water turned off for at least 3 months.

The running toilet is in the guest bathroom so it wasn’t a hardship on the family. I just never got around to fixing my leaking toilet until I saw Fix a Leaking Faucet on Green U as part of Cisco’s One Million Acts of Green and Three to Green Contest. It was the kick in the seat I needed to fix that running toilet.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

I took the lid off the toilet tank and quickly saw what was causing my toilet to run. The flapper was all whopperjawed because I used to put those bowl cleaning tablets in the toilet tank in between bathroom cleanings. I don't use those tablets anymore.

1. Turn the water was turn off at the bottom of the toilet.

2. Flush the water out of the toilet tank.
     
Notice how the warped sides of the flapper do not seal properly. This causes the toilet to run.

3. Remove the damaged flapper.

4. Cut the replacement flapper valve to fit in the your type of flapper bracket.fitting according to the directions on the packaging or to the type of of my toilet flusher assembly thingy (are these terms getting too technical for you?)
    It is just me or does the new toilet flapper kinda look like a little spaceship?


    5. Slip the flapper into the flapper bracket.

    This bracket has two knobs that slits on the side of the flapper fit onto.

    6. Attach the flapper chain to the flusher arm.
      My chain has a clip on the end that attaches to flusher arm.
      7. Turn the water on to the toilet and let the tank fill up.
      8. Do a test flush. Make the flapper chain shorter or longer if needed.
      The new toilet flapper 
      9.You’re done!
        This $5.00 fix took about as much time to complete as an Ace of Cakes commercial break and saved me a $50 plumber fee. If I had let the toilet run, I could have wasted over 22,000 gallons of water in one year! Not bad for a quick five dollar fix.

        Best of all I was able to mark Fix a Leaking Faucet off my Green U list which was the third act of green I needed to receive one entry in Cisco’s Three to Green Contest. The winner gets a $5,000 shopping spree to BuyGreen.com. Do you realized how many sets of bamboo sheets that will buy?!

        You can participate too. All you have to do is register for the contest on One Million Acts of Green  or by connect via Facebook and pledge and complete those acts of green.You get one entry in the contest for every three acts of green you complete until October 31, 2010.

        What little green tasks have you been putting off until tomorrow?


        Did you enjoy this post? Get more like it by subscribing to the Condo Blues RSS Feed  or to Condo Blues by Email.

        Disclosure:  Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with  Cisco are compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation. See what the other ambassadors have to say about One Million Acts of Green: Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Green Your Décor and Green and Clean Mom.

        Friday, October 8, 2010

        Do You Strip Screws? Try an Impact Driver

        I am the undisputed Queen of Stripped Screws. I strip screws with a manual screwdriver because I don’t have a lot of strength in my hands. I bought Mommy’s Little Helper, my mega torque electric drill, hoping the extra torque would solve the problem.

        I still strip screws from time to time but now with turbo!

        After some research, I realized that electric drills commonly strip screws. What I should have been using all along is an impact driver. Unlike an electric drill, an impact driver is made to do one thing and it does it very well: drive screws and hex nuts. It is less likely to strip screws. I say less likely because if you are the Queen of Stripped Screws, you will find a way to strip one when normal people will not. I consider it my gift, my curse.

        What is an Impact Driver?


        Unlike an electric drill, an impact driver drives the screw by both rotating the drill bit and using concussive blows. Moreover, if you are the Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver you can do it tight little spaces.

         This is a right angle impact driver.  
        The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver to exact.

        I found it to be the perfect tool for installing the screws for my curved curtain bracket because my electric drill won’t reach. I’ve tried using a long manual screwdriver but it is impossible to keep on the screw head for more than a few turns at a time and I don’t have the strength in my hands to drive one of those screws into a wall stud.

        What the Craftsman Impact Driver Is Not


        The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is related to the Craftsman Hammerhead Auto Hammer I reviewed. Like the Auto Hammer there may be some confusion about what this powerful and lightweight little tool is designed to do.

        • Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is not an impact wrench (also known as an impactor, air wrench, air gun, rattle gun, or torque gun) which is commonly used in auto shops to loosen and tighten lug nuts as well as drive screws. Impact wrenches generally need to be connected to an air compressor to work. The Craftsman Right Angle Impact Driver does not. It runs off a 12 volt rechargeable battery.
        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is also not a hammer drill (also known as a rotary hammer, roto-hammer or impact drill.) Hammer drills are used to drive into material like stone or to break through concrete.
        Photobucket
        Me using the mother of all hammer drills to break up concrete in my flower bed. 
        Generally, we refer to this size as a jackhammer. It was crazy fun to use!

        Craftsman Impact Driver Review

        Pros

        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver will drive hex nuts as well as screws.
        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is the most powerful and lightest weight right angel impact driver when I compared it to the store display of a Hitchati and a Ridgid right angle impact driver. The Craftsman and the Hitchati were approximately the same weight. However, this short woman appreciates that the Craftsman impact driver isn’t as monster heavy as the Ridgid. The Ridgid is the heaviest of the three.
        • The Craftsman is also the most powerful of the three right right angle impact drivers. The Craftsman has 700 pounds of torque, followed by the both the Hitachi and the Ridgid which both have 650 pounds of torque.
        • The NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is great for tight spaces. I can see using it for future bicycle maintenance especially.

        Cons

        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver came with several size heads for hex nuts but only one screwdriver bit, which is what I’d use it for the most. Regular Craftsman screwdriver heads should not be used in the Impact driver because they aren’t made to withstand the concussive force of an impact driver. However, Craftsman told me they will have sets of impact driver screw heads for sale in November. But for the $99.99 price tag, I think they should be included.
        • It comes with only one rechargeable battery. The battery charges quickly and holds its charge for longer than my initial test period. You can buy extra batteries from Craftsman.

        Would I Buy a Craftsman Impact Driver?

        I’m not afraid to give a tool or anything I review for that matter a thumbs down if it doesn’t work for me. I wondered if the Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver would just be a nifty toy to have instead of something I would use for jobs other than curtain rod brackets since I already have an electric screwdriver, which kinda stinks so I don’t use it. 

        Given that the Craftsman Impact Driver is designed so stripping screws is less likely than an electric drill, that it is also less likely the slip off the screwhead and make accidentally countersinking your thumb less likely (trust me that’s a good thing.) I’d buy the Craftsman NEXTEC EXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver for the handywoman who doesn't have the strength in her hands (or desire) to drive screws with a manual screwdriver, the older handyman who's losing strength in his hands, or anyone who wants to drive screws the easy way.



        Disclosure: Craftsman supplied me with NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver to facilitate this review. I went to a home improvement store on my own to compare it to other tools. All opinions are my own and longtime readers know I am very opinionated.

        Wednesday, October 6, 2010

        One Small Green Change: Silicone Ice Cube Trays

        This month’s One Small Green Change is to switch from plastic ice cube trays to silicone ice cube trays.

        Silicone is synthetic but it is considered safe because it does not contain BPA or phthalates. While the cold in my freezer makes the transfer of possible (and probable) BPA in my old plastic ice cube trays very low the silicone ice cube trays make it zero.


        After seeing Dollar Store Crafts posted some killer silicone ice cube trays to use as sugar molds; I figured it was high time I made the switch to something I knew that was safer. I stalked my Dollar Tree for three weeks to get Blitzkrieg silicone skull ice cube trays because when you have a one eyed pirate dog like Blitzkrieg every day is Talk Like a Pirate Day! (It’s more of a lifestyle choice for us, really.)

        Sunday, October 3, 2010

        10 Halloween Costumes for Dogs Who Hate Costumes

        I love dressing up for Halloween. Now that I have a dog I want him to love dressing up for Halloween too.

        But he doesn’t.

        You wear a double coat of fur all the time. You won’t want to
        put on extra clothes, either.

        We like to go to dog charity events to support the rescue organizations that have helped us rehabilitate Blitzkrieg and tell his story. Some of these events are Halloween events.

        Blitzkrieg quickly learned the cuter the costume, the more treats humans give you. Blitzkrieg learned to tolerate several types of sorta dog costumes in order to swindle as many treats as possible celebrate Halloween.

        Tuesday, September 28, 2010

        What Would You Choose: A Conservatory or a Sunroom?

        I hate that summer is leaving because I will miss drinking coffee on my patio in the morning and enjoying the warmer summer sun. I am really going to miss the fresh herbs growing on my patio during the summer too. A UK friend suggested that I build a conservatory.

        “A sunroom?” I asked.

        “No”, he said, “a conservatory. You have conservatories in America, don’t you?”

        In my mind, a home conservatory is very English and sunroom is more American because most of the people I know have sunrooms instead of conservatories. Although to be fair, a conservatory can be sunroom but not all sunrooms can be conservatories.

        Confused yet?

        I was until I did a little research.

        It turns out that the difference between a sunroom and a conservatory is that a conservatory is a room with glass walls and a glass roof. When I lived in Miami, we called them Florida Rooms.

        This is a conservatory. It has a glass roof.

        A sunroom is a room with glass walls and a solid roof. There are DIY conservatories just as there are DIY sunrooms. You can make both of them into a four-season room with the right insulating windows, which is very important for me because I have winter. I’m told that the conservatory’s glass roof also lets more light into the room than a solid sunroom’s roof during overcast or winter days, a plus in my book as long as the material can withstand an Ohio winter, which I’m sure it can. UK folks, do any of you have any experience with this?

        Since a conservatory has a see through roof, you can use a conservatory as a greenhouse. I remember one house in Florida that had a swimming pool in a conservatory. Very cool.

        With our fascination with multitasking and demanding things do double duty (when was the last time you just made a telephone call on a cell phone?) it seems like there would be more people adding conservatories to their houses as sunrooms and greenhouses instead of a standard one use sunroom. Price wise the DIY options look fairly equal.

        The thought of growing fresh herbs year round and enjoying my coffee on the patio year around makes me a lean toward conservatory over sunroom. And while I’m dreaming I’ll take the style with a little dormer too. What about you?

        Tuesday, September 21, 2010

        Repurposed Dog Bowl Wall Art

        After I painted the kitchen, I started putting artwork back on the walls for my family’s enjoyment. One family member didn’t have anything to look at when he was eating his dinner.

        Photobucket
        What about me? *Sigh*

        I decided to make Blitzkrieg some doggie wall art.

        Sunday, September 19, 2010

        Ceiling Fans with Lights, Energy Efficient Yes. Stylish? Yeah or Nay?

        Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to cool and heat (by running the blades in reverse during the winter) your home. I had a ceiling fan and an attic fan in my old rental and between the two, they kept the place cool during the summer until the temperature climbed into the humid 90’s.

        Too bad that ceiling fan with lights was from 1976 and for as well as it cooled our apartment, it didn’t do it with any sort of style. I can do ceiling fans. I can do lights. I cannot do ceiling fan and light combos. Can. Not. Do. Ick.

        I recently got a very nice email from Del Mar Designs. She wrote:

        “I’ve read how much you loathe ceiling fans with lights. My company Del Mar Designs offers a wide selection of decorative ceiling fans that are also energy efficient.

        I have put together a few of our most popular energy efficient decorative ceiling fans with lights and was wondering if you found them appealing?”
        Well. Gosh, now I feel like a heel because I have a constant reader and I’ve knocked what she does for a living. What’s the harm in taking a look?

        10 Stylish Ceiling Fans with Lights

        The Monte Carlo Vectra Titanium Flush Mount Fan with  Light  is a flush mount which would be great for someone who has low ceilings like me. This one’s not too bad with the light and fan combination but I lean more towards the model without the light.


        The Minka Aire F518-ORB Concept II Bronze Flush Mount with Light is another flush mount in Bronze, which is very hot this year in fixtures. I like the old timey ice cream parlor look.




        Quorum Colton Oiled Bronze Ceiling Fan with Light is a fan I think it would look best on a mid to high ceiling. Again, it reminds me of an old timey ice cream parlor look, which is a plus because my favorite local ice shop has ceiling fans similar to these but without lights.


        The Hunter Fanaway Brushed Chrome Ceiling Fan changed my mind. If I were to choose any fan with a light for my house, it would be this one. I like the retro modern design. I especially like that the fan blade stay hidden until you turn on the fan. The only downside to this fan is that the blades aren’t reversible for winter. However, that wouldn’t be such an issue for me because I’d put this fan in my computer room to cool down the room with the big computers that act like space heaters.


         

        I’ve seen the Hunter Sonic Brushed Nickel Energy Star Ceiling Fan with Light  in real life. A friend had it installed in her living room with the cathedral ceiling of  her condo. It worked with the retro 50’s vibe she had going on in her kitchen and living room.




        I dig the Quorum Bronx Satin Nickel Ceiling Fan with Light. It is similar to the Hunter Sonic but I keep came coming back to it because it’s retro, it’s modern, and the blades remind me of an airplane propeller. Like.


        I had to include this piece of eye candy. The Casablanca Chandelier Oil-Rubbed Bronze Uplight Ceiling Fan with Light is rustic elegance. The candles are actually electric powered flames so there’s no worry of fire hazard or changing the candles. Spendy, but it would look great in a lodge setting or in a room with a pitched ceiling like say, my bedroom.



        I think I’m becoming a convert. Is it me, or is this crow tasting pretty good?

        I wanted to feature the Quorum Jellyfish Chrome Ceiling Fan with Light  because it’s design is nothing like I’ve seen before. I like the blade shape and the cables. I’m not too sure of the light, it’s an odd shape that reminds me of a jellyfish which is cool but also reminds me a bust line because my mind goes to there sometimes. What do you think? (Besides the whole I make inappropriate analogies thing. I know that already.)


        I kept coming back to the Emerson Highpointe Brushed Steel Ceiling Fan with Light too. I like the cable detail although I’m not sure if the blade design is sparse/simple = good or sparse/simple = bland. What are your thoughts?




        The Minka Aire Gauguin Bahama Beige is an Outdoor Ceiling Fan with Light but I’m including it because I like the blade design and the Bahama feel.  If they had an indoor version, I’d consider adding it to a room for a tropical vibe. Come February, I’m usually dying for anything that reminds me of summer, my favorite season. It makes me want to pour a nice tall glass of something and stick a paper umbrella in my drink.



        I begrudgingly admit that ceiling fan with light designs have thankfully come a long way from the traditional white 1976 style fan with lights that was in my last apartment. If you notice, most of the lights I like either fan is subtle or the light is subtle because that is probably what I would go with if I bought a fan with a light for my own home

        What do you think? Are you a ceiling fan person? Do you give ceiling fan with lights the thumbs up or the thumbs down?

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        Disclaimer: I was not paid to mention any of these fan in this post and opinions are my own. I thought you should know that.