Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life 360 Emergency IDs are Good for Kids, Better for Adults

Life360 approached me about reviewing their Emergency IDs as a way to keep track of your children. They come in a variety of styles and it is more secure than a sticker on your kid’s shirt listing your name, address, and phone number. In the event of an emergency,  and you or your child cannot tell a medical professional about a medical condition or allergy, the person calls the Life 360 telephone number (staffed 24 hours), gives the Family ID number and PIN from your Life 360 Emergency ID and the Life 360 center contacts you, your doctor, or anyone you designate without giving out that sensitive information to the Good Samaritan trying to help you out.

If your child ever gets lost, or goes missing, the Emergency ID can give authorities access to your child's profile to file an Amber Alert.

They also offer the following products and services:

Offender Monitoring

Family GPS Tracking It tracks your family using their phones like the Weasley clock in Harry Potter. This is  handy because Miss R is driving. It is a way to check and make sure she is really where she says she is while giving her a bit of space and the independence that all teenagers crave.

Emergency Messenger You call the Life 360 telephone number and they contact your family during emergencies like multi day blackouts to tell them you are OK when phone service is down, overloaded, or iffy.

Life360 Mobile An app for Android, iPhone, Blackberry & Windows Mobile phones.

Family Identity Protection

Lost Item Recovery

My greatest fear when taking any of my nine nieces and nephews somewhere is losing them. Not because of the wrath I would incur from their parents, or the guilt I would feel from losing a perfectly good child, but when child is found safe (as they usually are) I will have to jump through hoops to prove that for the afternoon, that kid is mine.

With Life360 the parent can update the contact information online that for that time period I am person who is responsible for that child.

The Emergency IDs come in a variety of styles and you can order more than one type for each member of your family. I got the Velcro bracelet to wear when biking. Husband got the shoe tag to wear when running. We often do both activities on running trails away from our cars and the Life360 ID cards in our wallets that are locked securely in the car trunk.

It makes me feel a little safer riding my bike in a city where cars hate sharing the road with bikes, even though they are legally obligated to do so (and there is no other place to ride if I want to bike to most places.) One of my friends broke his arm when a car turned into his bike. I have had run ins with a crazy women who likes wave and yell at me through her car windows. The wave is not is not a thumbs up, way to go green thing. It is an entirely different finger.

It got even scarier a few weeks ago when she pulled her car off the side of the road so she could yell a blue streak at me or worse. I do not know what her intensions were because I thought it was safer not stop my bike to have an extensional debate as to why I was "here." I mean really. Does any one of us know why were are here?

The nearby bike trail under construction cannot come soon enough. In the meantime, I feel much safer wearing my Life 360 Emergency ID bracelet.

I think that that Life 360 is good for families with kids but even better for those of us without.

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Life 360 provided me with free IDs and service to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Zero Waste Fashion – It’s About Time!

My mom taught to lay out a sewing pattern on fabric so I didn’t waste as much fabric as I would if I followed the pattern’s layout instructions. That way I’d have more fabric leftover from the project to us for something else.

Looks like the green fashion industry is taking a page from my mom’s sewing playbook and designing zero waste clothing. It’s about time!

With the exception of fabric rationing during the two World Wars, where hems, seams, and even the amount of fabric used in a garment were restricted, designing and creating clothing leaves a lot of cloth scrap behind. Some of it like scrap denim is turned into insulation for houses. For the most part the scraps are tossed in the landfill because it’s cheaper to chuck it than find a way to reuse it.

I bet you quilters are going nuts about that.

According to the New York Times Fashion Tries on Zero Waste Design:

“Zero-waste design strives to create clothing patterns that leave not so much as a scrap of fabric on the cutting room floor. This is not some wacky avant-garde exercise; it’s a way to eliminate millions of tons of garbage a year. Apparel industry professionals say that about 15 to 20 percent of the fabric used to produce clothing winds up in the nation’s landfills because it’s cheaper to dump the scraps than to recycle them.”

“The goal? To create jeans that are as close to zero waste as possible but that are also good looking — no easy task.”

I’m not so sure about that. Because of the layout tricks my mom developed and taught me, I matched the pattern in the fabric for this Elizabethan dress and had enough fabric left over to make a King size duvet cover for my bed.

Husband and I performing at the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

Looks like New York fashion designers could learn a lot from a small town home sewer in what they consider flyover country.

Go Mom!

Do you think the fashion industry is making it low and zero waste harder than it is because they've always done it the high waste way?

What do you think?

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This post is part of the Green Mom's Carnival where our topic is clothing. Check out the host, The Big Green Purse September, 24, 2010.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Air Conditioning - What Energy Efficient Temperature do You Use? How Low do You Go?

The one thing I struggled with during my 20% Home Energy Reduction Challenge was to find the most energy efficient temperature to use for my central air conditioner. I’m still having a hard time trying to find a recommended setting. There are tons of Websites and articles recommending which temperature to use for your furnace. Why not your air conditioner?

You’d think with a programmable thermostat that the energy efficient air conditioning settings would be preset like my furnace settings. Nope. The programmable thermostat has presets for heating (which I use) and nothing for cooling.

I'm used to not having the luxury of air conditioning. In our old rental there was a whole house fan. Between that and the ugly ceiling fan downstairs and an extra portable fan upstairs in the bedroom, we didn’t suffer until the temperature rose to 90 or the humidity got nasty.

I’ll admit, I can go without air conditioning but I don’t want to do it. If I’m either too hot or too cold I just can’t sleep at night. Besides, I've gone without AC for years which made humid allergy season miserable for me. I think I'm due for a little comfort.

This is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Blitzkrieg is another reason why we run the air conditioning sooner during the summer than later.


You walk around wearing two coats during the summer without air conditioning. I dare you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One Small Green Change: Buy a CSA Share!

My Small Green Change for August is to buy a CSA (Community Sustainable Agriculture) share of vegetables for the summer. The way a CSA works is that you buy a share of a farmer’s food crops for the summer. Every week you get a selection of that week’s harvest.

My CSA is extra special because it’s the only one in the city that delivers. Every week Blitzkrieg turns inside out with excitement when our delivery comes to the door. Here his is with our first delivery. Being such a good dog, he excitedly sniffed around the crate but didn’t attempt to help himself to a few samples. Blitzkrieg was rewarded handsomely for his good behavior.

It’s like Christmas every week!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Remake Your Swag Challenge Link Party

Where some see trash in those free promotional items you get at a street fair, summer festival, or convention, called swag in the PR buiz for Stuff We All Get, I see it as something to remake into treasure.

Now that the summer is almost over - sob! - I have several free stainless steel water bottles I got from various events. I like that the metal bottles keep water colder longer than my BPA free plastic water bottles. However free doesn't always come with cute,  like this water bottle I got from Crystal Light at Blogher.

Free and functional.

A little Modge Podge, scrapbook paper, paper punches, laser printer, and smarty pants attitude later I remade that water bottle into something I want to show off around town.

It says My other water bottle is 10,000 Styrofoam cups.


Do you think people will laugh with me or beat me with a stick when I take my new water bottle to my next green event?

Let’s see what you came up with! The rules are simple. Use the Linky below to submit your reuse/revamp/remade or swag thing you find useful blog post to Condo Blues. Please put a link at the bottom of your post back to Condo Blues so everyone will know that you are participating in my Remake Your Swag Link Party.

I made a button if you want to use it to make it easy for you!

Condo Blues Remake Your Swag Challenge

Reminder: You can still enter my 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse Book Giveaway until midnight tonight!

I can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with!

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Visit thecsiproject.com


Thursday, August 19, 2010

11 PVC Plastic Free Shoes for Back to School

When I buy a plastic item, I check for the recycling number 3 which stands for PVC (polyvinyl chloride.) If the item is made from PVC, I don’t buy it.

I thought I was very much on the no PVC plastic bandwagon until I looked in my closet. Shoes are on The Center for Health, Environment, & Justice’s Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies List.

It is unlikely that I will lick my shoes and inject PVC. If I do I think my problems are bigger than ingesting PVC plastic! However, I might if I handle those PVC shoes by putting them in the closet and then inadvertently put my finger in my mouth or eat an apple or something. Then I’m transfer PVC particles from the shoe to my hands to that apple and right into me.

It’s just easier to avoid buying shoes made with PVC. Fortunately, many companies make PVC free shoes. I was happy to find that many of these shoes are already in my closet including Husband's favorite brand of running shoe!

1. Adidas Their sandals the have EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), rubber outsoles; their sneakers have molded EVA insoles and midsoles

2. Asics All Asics products are PVC-free. They contain bamboo, canvas, EVA, leather, or rubber.

3. Birkenstocks The uppers made from  Birko-Flor material (acrylic and PA (polyamides)  leather, or wool. The Footbed is made from cork, leather, or jute. The soles are made from EVA or PU (polyurethane.)

4. Crocs Crocs made from Croslite resins contain EVA. Some Crocs have a rubber sole. Be careful because some Croc knockoffs are made out of PVC. Many of the charms sold to decorate Crocs are also made with PVC.

5. Ecolution  The shoes are made from hemp, plant-based dyes, and recycled tires.

6. L.L. Bean  All L.L. Bean shoes are PVC-free.

7. Nike  Nike products are PVC-free.

8. Rawganique  The shoes are made from hemp and recycled tires.

9. Simple Shoes All Simple Shoes are PVC-free. They are made from bamboo, cotton, hemp, and recycled rubber.

10. Puma The uppers are canvas, mesh, PU, or suede. The outsoles are EVA or rubber.

I want to add one more of my own to the PVC plastic free shoe list.

11. Feelgoodz– All Feelgoodz are 100% natural latex rubber. I’ve been wearing Feelgoodz constantly for two summers and still love them. They are a great little company that got hurt by the Gulf oil spill. If you know you and yours will need some new flops for next summer, it would be awesome if you buy them now and keep them for next year to help a little company that is the type of socially responsible business I like to stay in business. They are not asking me to say this, I’m doing it on my own because I really like what Feelgoodz does and how they do it.

How do you avoid PVC plastic? Have you been surprised to find PVC plastic in any items around you? Do you have a PVC free shoe to add to the list?

This post is part of the August 23rd Back to School Green Moms Carnival hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma.

Disclaimer. None of the companies or organizations mentioned in this post paid me or asked me to write about them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse Book Giveaway!

Creative reuse is a big green tent pole here at Condo Blues. When I go to a street fair or conference where some see trash in the promotional items they give out. I see something to reinvent into treasure. That’s why I’m holding the Recycle Your Swag Link Party on August 22nd.

Condo Blues Remake Your Swag Challenge

Stefanie at Craftside is crafter and recycler of my own heart. She saw my Remake Your Swag Challenge and upcycled a freebie USB drive – super cute.

To celebrate my up coming Recycle Your Swag Link Party we’re banding together and having a giveaway! Whoo!

Craftside and Condo Blues are giving away one copy each of the BEST book about recycling and up-cycling Recycle Swag Contest and Win a Copy of 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew By Garth Johnson.

To enter the giveaway, leave a link or description in the comments section on Condo Bues or Craftside by Midnight EST Sunday August 22nd, 2010! Each of us will select a winner. If you leave a comment on each of our blogs you have two chances to win. Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to run this giveaway.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Make a Woven Ribbon and Washer Bracelet

I open the email and sat there, stunned. Martha Stewart Omnimedia invited me to their Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Bloggers' Night Out! party to meet the Martha Stewart creative team!


Mindful Momma said we should make something to wear to the party.

Dare I?

Inspired by the belt on my new dress, I grabbed some washers left over from the cornhole game boards I built in the garage, a bit of ribbon from my sewing stash, and made a woven washer bracelet using A Steno Pad for My Thoughts woven washer necklace tutorial.

Another project that perfectly illustrates my tool girl side and my girly girl crafty side.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Found My Voice at Blogher 10

I was quickly overwhelmed.

I did not feel that I networked as much as I liked although I gave out over 200 business cards and met many new bloggers this year. It was very difficult to connect with the people I wanted to meet due to the shear number of bodies and logistics of the venue. There were 2,400 people at Blogher this year!

Where BlogHer succeeded for me was in the quite moments that when I got my head out of my stats and really paid attention to who I was with and what I was experiencing. One of the best moments of the conference was the night that Beth from Fake Plastic Fish, The Green Samaritan, and @csamuels  and I found a corner and had a great conversation that bounced from corporate responsibility to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Twilight.

@condoblues, @greentalk, @mindfulmomma, @greenmom, @crunchygoddess, @fakeplasticfish
Lisa from Condo Blues, Anna from GreenTalk, Miceala from Mindful Momma, Sommer from Green and Clean Mom, Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and Beth of Fake Plastic Fish.
Photo courtesy of Crunchy Domestic Godddess.

  • I had a couple of experiences that proved that I should be a food blogger. I wrote about it on Lazy Budget Chef. Spoilers – it includes Martha Stewart!

  • I made it my mission as a member of the Green Team to make sure that there was signage! signage! signage! directing people to Swag Recycling Suite since I could not find it myself last year.

I dropped off several items at the swag-recycling suite.
Blogher will donate all of the items to The Salvation Army.

  • There was some silly green fun like replacing disposable paper cups with reusable water bottles in the meeting rooms.

I geeked out over the lack of trash. I gotta be me.

  • There was also some silly not so green fun. I met the Raving Rabbits! They stole my heart even before I bought a Wii with crazy games involving toilet plunger guns, time traveling washing machines, and controlling the game with your butt (you have to sit and shift on the balance board.) Yeah, it was as if we were made for each other.

Aaaah! Rabbits!

  • Stewart + Brown taught me that organic cotton clothing is more than t-shirts and yoga pants. I got many compliments on the lovely organic cotton top they gave me to wear at the conference.

This organic cotton top is so soft, it doesn’t wrinkle,
and travels like a dream. Thank you Stewart + Brown!

I liked that the emphasis during the Blogher this year was about what we can we do with our collective voices in our blogs instead of focusing on sessions that cater to specific blog niches. Big blog or small we all have a voice. It’s up to each of us to use it as we see fit.

I spent a big chunk of time with these lovely and like-minded women. And you know what? Not a one of them asked me for my stats before asking me to join them in this picture.

@phdinparenting, @condoblues, @thesoftlanding @thesmartmama
Photo Courtesy of Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

Just like in real life, it doesn’t matter how many friends (or readers) you have because 10 wonderful loyal quality readers like you are better than having ten thousand causal readers or drive by trolls. You taught me that with all of your support during the Salada Tea Spokesperson contest. I didn’t get the job, but I still feel like a winner because of all your support.

The metaphor for the trip happened early in weekend after the Martha Stewart party. As we were loading our gift bags into the trunk, someone tried to poach our cab. A loud, forceful, booming voice shot out from the darkness that was only a couple of F bombs and Brooklyn accent short of sounding like a full blown native New Yorker,

“HEY! YOU! Step off! THAT’S OUR CAB!”

That big forceful voice came from short little me.

I learned that while I think my blog voice is small in this ocean of women, I still can use it to do good, to entertain, to teach, or to be mama bear if I need to be. The only thing holding me back from doing what I want to do with this blog in many ways is me.

BlogHer10 was as overwhelming as a roller coaster. A mad crush of bodies, stimuli from all directions but as soon as the ride is over I am ready to rush back in  line and ride again – hands up in the air this time! Who’s with me?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Condo Blues Remake Your Swag Challenge!

I am having a crafty creative reuse link party and you are invited! Have you gotten a free or swag (known in the PR buiz as Stuff We All Get) item that you remade into something else because you did not want to be a walking advertisement? For example, I added pockets to this free tote bag I got at a pet expo and now carry it around town as my dog mommy bag.

Blitzkrieg figured out my Dog Mommy Bag holds treats.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good Green Fun at the Ohio State Fair

Husband and I spent a day at the Ohio State Fair. When we were not eating local food – which is crazy easy to do at the State Fair, we were checking out the sites and acting silly.

There were things to do for kids of all ages. Even goat kids! I thought of Nanny Goats in Panties and snapped a photo of the goat playground for Margaret.

The goats weren’t feeling playful because it was early
 in the morning when we visited them.

The animal, food, and craft judging were all in full swing. We saw and were allowed to pet many animals. Our favorite was the Highland cows. Husband and I call them McMoos because we are convinced that they moo with a Scottish accent. Mac-moooooo.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

6 Thrift and Shopping Scores!

I finished my Saturday errands and found myself less than a block from the Ohio Thrift Store. I had to go in. Ohio Thrift is one of the better thrift stores in the city because in addition to the regular thrift store finds they also accept donations of new closeout items that do not sell from major retailers. I purchased a couple of new tank tops there for a couple of dollars that were originally from a major retailer that goes by the nickname Vickie who is very Secretive about things. Thrift store score!

The Thrifting and Shopping Bargain Fairies were good to me. I think they were being kind after that depressing and horrible bathing suit shopping trip earlier this summer. Everything in every store I went to was either dental floss or granny and all looked awful on me. It still gives me nightmares just thinking about it.

Let’s look at the spoils of war!

I bought this cute sundress for $3.99.

Festive, fun, and flirty.

I didn’t realize it was a reversible sundress until I got it home.

This dress is perfect for traveling!

The Big Game Bargain Huntress kill came with this purse. Like the sundress, the condition was excellent; it was $20, which is high for a thrift purse. Then I saw it was a Kate Spade purse! I love Kate Spade!

It's a little tacky to keep the price tag on
 but wanted to prove I wasn't just dreaming.

Green? Yes. Cheap? Yes. Cute and in style? Yes and yes! Mine? – You betcha!

A week later, I was floored with an invitation to a very nice special event during BlogHer this weekend. I wanted a new dress to wear while I networked my face off at a place I consider Mecca. I thought my best bet would be at a consignment store. I always find something that fits and that I like at Clothes Mentor when stores selling new clothes let me down, which is often.

Consignment store prices are higher than a thrift store but I think it is worth it because Clothes Mentor has dressing rooms (unlike Ohio Thrift), everything they sell is in fashion (no revamps needed other than hemming), is in excellent condition, and they sell designer clothes at the fraction of the price. I feel a lot better cutting off six inches of designer consignment store pants to hem them than new designer pants.

As a green blogger, I know I should not be so concerned with name brands but I guess I am that shallow. I like how certain designers fit and their clothes look better on me than others do. I tend to mix and match thrift, consignment, and sale items in the same outfit because I like to live big and look nice on a little budget. Going to a high school that was straight out of the movie Heathers  makes me think more about my appearance a little more than I should I suppose.

I decided to check out TJ Maxx first because I have to pass TJ's on my way to Clothes Mentor so TJ's is more convenient.  Shopping at a closeout store is less green than shopping at a consignment store depending upon what you buy at the closeout store of course. It also means I'll spend more money. Based on the bathing suit fiasco I didn't expect to find something I liked at TJ's either.  I just wanted to rule them out because Husband went shopping with me. He isn't a big fan of shopping from store to store to store like most women I know like to do.I wanted to make it a little easier on him by trying a store close to home on the off chance I'd find something on the first try.

Boy I am I glad I went! TJ’s had a summer clearance sale and they had clothes that fit me that weren't hoochie short or granny moo-moos. Yay! 

I bought this kicky sundress for $25.00.

I needed new shoes to go with the dress. Famous Footwear was also having a super duper clearance sale. I got the sassy pink vegan cha cha  heels for $20 and the pink silk flats for walking to the event for $15.Since New York is a walking city most ladies wear flats to ride the subway/walk and then change into heels right before they step into a party.

The heels fit nicely in the Kate Spade purse.

Both pairs were regularly $50 – bargain! Not shopping in the children’s department for shoes this summer ? Priceless!

However the Big Game Bargain Huntress Score of the Day came with this top I grabbed on a whim on my way to the dressing room back at TJ Maxx. The blouse had the original store tag on it with a price of $168.00.

How lucky is that? Pinch me! I'm dreaming!

TJ Maxx had it marked down on clearance for $15.00! I said it was a serious shopping score. Husband corrected me and said it was a steal.

Thank you Universe for making these two shopping trips much more fun than buying my bathing suit! 

Do you have any favorite shopping places where you know you’ll get a bargain? What was your best Bargain Shopper Score?

Hey FTC: I paid for everything I purchased at these stores with my own money.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thank You for Your Support!

The Salada Tea Spokesperson voting ended August 1st. I am humbled by all of the online and off line  support, tweets, Facebook status ,emails, and good old fashioned talking to people in real life (IRL) who told me they were voting for me and encouraging others to vote for me too. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If I see in you at BlogHer this weekend prepared for an extra big hug!

For the rest of you, this will have to do.

I want to especially thank the following people who helped spread the word about voting for me for the Salada Tea Spokesperson contest.

Husband and Blitzkrieg.

@OshawaOgre - This guy tweeted and voted his fingers off. If you like BBQ and Canada, give him a follow on Twiter, won't you?

@ArveyColumbus - She also tweeted and voted her fingers off. Give her follow, because Avery is awesome makes one of my favorite household organizational products in the world - labels. I'm kind of a freak when it comes to labeling things...


@Greenmoms Carnival

@The Smart Mama

@Greentalk - A big thanks to Anna for using her blog to help promote voting for me too!


@Organic Mania








@ angiewith3


All of my Facebook friends

My IRL family and friends


I don’t know when Salada Tea will select or announce the winner. Now comes the hardest part – waiting. I plan to do it with a cup of iced green tea in my hand – business as usual for me.