Sunday, January 31, 2010

9 New Habits to Keep You Warm During Winter

Welcome Weather Channel Viewers!

Today Weekend Vew on The Weather Channel interviewed me about how we keep warm when we have our thermostat set at 58 degrees (F) for their 58 Degree Challenge segment.




I find that the best way to stay warm when the temperatures dips is to find and fix air leaks and drafts in your home. This also goes for renters and apartment dwellers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tooltalk: Let’s Compare Screwdrivers!

Here’s a treat for you - a guest post by none other than my Dad! The man who can fix anything that’s broken, explained even the most complicated technical thing in a way I understood to my former little girl self, and encouraged me that I can do anything I put my mind to and if I can’t do it like everyone else – find another way to do it. Take it away Dad!

OK! Here's a tip for you. I know that you don't like wimpy power tools, but sometimes wimpy is good.

Let's say that you are going to replace that pesky light switch in the hallway that keep blinking on and off. You grab your trusty screwdriver and remove the switch cover. No biggy here. Next to start to remove the screws holding the switch in place. These suckers are 1½ inches long. Looks like carpal tunnel in the making! After removing the wires from the old switch and placing them onto the new one, it's installation time. Wow! The new switch has those pesky 1½ long screw too! There goes the other wrist!

You could use your trusty MEGA TORQUE cordless screw gun from Dewalt, Black & Decker, Ryobi or the likes, but with its gut wrenching torque it would either rip the switch box out of the wall or spin you around like a off center ferris wheel. Not fun!!!

Maybe Dad is referring to my super duper mega drill and screw gun nicknamed Mommy’s Little Helper? - Lisa.

Why not do what I do? Latch onto one of these small, I carry it in my pocket most of the time, screwdrivers. I like the Bosch SPS10-2 because it turns faster, alway like more speed, and comes with 2 batteries and a charger. Charge one while using the other. The downside of this tool is that it does not come with the screwdriver tips, but has a nice tool bag.
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At $10 less there is the Ryobi HP41LK. Good tool with a torque limiting clutch for the trigger happy. It comes with a tool bag and bit set. No inter-changeable battery. When its dead it's Miller Time.

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Last on the list is the Black and Decker L4000. It comes with bits and a wall hanging kit. It also has a cute little screw holder that extends out from the front for the all thumbs crowd. No tool bag or changeable battery. Maybe Miller is going for a monopoly?

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These tools are great for those little jobs, like light switches, cabinet knobs, shelves mounted on drywall and the like. They are light weight, easy to handle and fit into the flashlight holder of most tool belts.

Check them out!


Hey FTC this one’s for you: All opinions in this post are purely my father’s at the time of this writing. He nor I got any compensation or product from the companies mentioned in this post.

Further disclosure: Yes, this post was really written by my father. As you can see, we share the same sense of humor because, duh, we are related.

Even further disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using the Amazon 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. As for me, I'm going to borrow these tools for free from my Dad.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Keep in the Heat: How to Easily Insulate Outlets and Light Switches

In my effort to keep my natural gas use and heating bills low I sealed all the gaps and air leaks around my windows and I put door sweeps on the outside doors. In certain areas of the house I felt a little chill. I found the culprit when I put my hand up to an outlet on an outside wall and it was cold – another air leak.



Looks like I’m not the only who has air leaking into their home from outlets and switches on outside walls. Val, Mike and Brax asked me:

“We noticed the other day there was actually frost forming on one of our electrical outlets, accompanied by a very heavy freezing cold breeze blowing out of the outlet holes! My first concern is that condensation/moisture and electricity don't typically go well together, besides the fact that it was like an AC blowing in our house. This outlet is on an exterior wall, of course. How do you fix this? Right now we just have those child proof plugs in the outlet holes!”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

13 Ways to Lower Your Electricity and Natural Gas Bills

Welcome 10 TV viewers!
Today 10 TV News interviewed me and did a little house tour about how I slashed my home energy bills by 32%. My 1500 sq. ft. house now uses an average of 15 Kwh of electricity a day.




My interview was just one more way to show how real people with real budgets can save energy with some new habits, a few basic home improvements, and a little touch of humor.

If you’re visiting Condo Blues for the first time and like more information about how I keep my gas and electric use and bills low, please check out the following posts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wood Crate Craft Storage

I wanted my spare bedroom to be a sewing/craft/guest room when we moved in. Unfortunately it quickly turned into a place where old furniture came to die.

Fortunately I used that to my advantage. Free and repurposed craft storage? Yes please!

My craft table is an antique enamel top table. It was the kitchen table my mom used to eat at when she was a little girl. It is a dream to cut fabric on because it’s slippy when I need it to be. Slap a bath towel on it and it makes a good impromptu ironing board for small projects.

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Now to store all of those bits and bobs and stash waiting for creative reuse. Using the old “if you can’t build out build up” and a bunch of wood fruit crates a former tenant abandoned in the basement of our old rental (clearly they were insane to leave these gems behind) I stacked them on the table to use as shelving.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Could Blitzkrieg Be Bissell’s Most Valuable Pet?

I’m entering Blitzkrieg in the Bissell Most Valuable Pet (MVP) contest . Blitzkrieg LOVES to have his picture taken. When I’m taking photos for Condo Blues, Blitzkrieg runs over and barks at me until I snap a few photos of him.

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No one really cares about Lisa’s totebag.
You’d rather see my innocent come hither look wouldn’t you?

Movies? Oh yes, Blitzkrieg's an actor too. We wrote a little part for him when we competed in the 48 Hour Film Project. Here he is during his big high five scene.

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Blitzkrieg nailed it. Every. Single. Take.
Which was a lot better I did. I’m in the silver dress.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ditching the Disposables – Furnace Filters

When we talk of ditching disposables the most people talk about ditching plastic and paper shopping bags, take out coffee cups, and replacing tissues with handkerchiefs. Have you considered ditching your disposable furnace filter for a reusable electrostatic furnace filter?

This reusable furnace filter is similar to the filter we purchased.
You can learn about it here.

This choice and purchase was Husband’s idea and it was a good one. The reusable electrostatic filters are easy to clean by vacuuming them with the hose attachment of our upright vacuum cleaner. You can rinse them off with water but ours take about a day to dry. Since our furnace won't work without a filter and it's winter and I'd rather not chip ice off of the dog after a day with no heat we don't use the water method often.

Ditching my disposable furnace filter for a reusable filter means that I’m much more likely to change/clean the furnace filter each month and keep my furnace running at maximum efficiency in order to keep our energy bills - and use - as low as I can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Make Microwave Hand Warming Gloves

As soon as it gets cold outside, Blitzkrieg decides that no matter how badly he needs to go, it’s going to take three times as long to find the perfect potty spot to do it. Why does this happen? Especially on those snowy nights when Blitzkrieg forgets that I’m not a double coated Pekingese and I’m freezing my fingers and toes off ifyaknowwhatImean.

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Snow is fun - suck it up!

I’ve seen hand warming packs for hunters, et al. but they are disposable, which really isn’t my style. I try to stay away from disables as much as humanly possible. I like reusables. And then there’s the question of what’s in that stuff that makes the hot packs hot on demand. That’s not something I want Mr. Fluffypants find and use as a chew toy either.

But having a nice warm pack in my gloves would be a pleasant way to keep the cold from eating through my gloves and making my fingers go numb when walking the dog on a winter’s day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

5 DIY Sleds

The recent worldwide winter snows have created a crisis of epic proportion in Germany.

Worse than the hole in the ozone layer (or is it passé to worry about that any more?)

Worse than hording Eggos during the current frozen waffle shortage (You realize you can make your own waffles and freeze them for later don’t you? Or is that something going on with waffles that taste worse than the cardboard package that I don’t know about?)

Europe is running out of sleds!

Yes, as in slide down the hill and go “whee!” type of sleds.

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Who needs a sled you have feet?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Save Money! Find and Fix Air Leaks and Drafts

It’s a sad fact of life that every home has air leaks in its  walls, windows, foundation, and attic. Even a newly built home like mine. Of course, how much a home leaks air will vary depending upon the design and construction of the home, and practices of its occupants.



Its important to find and seal the air leaks and drafts you find in your home because if you don't, it will cost you money. Big money. Air leaks make your heating and cooling system use more energy and work harder to do the job you want it to do. In fact, experts say that if you don't seal all of the little air leaks in your home, you might as well keep a window open during the winter.

How to Find Air Leaks and Drafts Outside the House

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bottle Cap Magnets

I’m an advertising geek. I appreciate a clever ad, tag line, or product design as much as I do artwork displayed in a museum. That’s why after enjoying a couple of craft beers at home I had to make magnets out of these bottle caps because of the cheeky saying printed on the top of the cap.


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The caps say, “Great minds drink alike.”

A little glue and a round magnet from the craft store is all you need. Easy!

They are a hit with our friends, drinkers and non drinkers alike. I gave them out as a little I-was-thinking-of-you gifts

Sad thing is, I don’t remember what brand of craft beer uses these caps. Do you? Maybe some more research is in order...

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