Monday, November 29, 2010

Custom Photo Hallmark Holiday Card 30% Coupon Code

I mentioned before that I am bad about sending Christmas cards. I only send Christmas/holiday cards (not everyone I know celebrates Christmas in December) if Husband and I become organized and have a family photo taken with Blitzkrieg during the Capital Area Humane Society Santa Photo fundraiser. Because if I have to get a card with your kid’s face on it and bragging about how many text messages they sent last year (that really happened) then you are equally entitled to a photo of my kid minus the bragging letter of how many times my kid watered the fire hydrant at the dog park this year.

CAHS doesn’t make cards, so I have to have the photo made into a card somewhere else, like Hallmark. Yep, Hallmark has photo Hanukkah cards, New Year’s cards, Christmas cards, and holiday postcards. You can personalize the photos as well as the captions – nice!

I'd totally do this card with Blitzkrieg's head in one of the faces!

Hallmark even sells photo Thank you cards, which actually work better for me. While I’m lousy at sending Christmas cards, I’m very good about sending thank you notes because as soon as I learned to write, my mom had me write thank you notes to relatives who gave me a gifts that I could not thank in person. It's a habit I continue to this day.

Hallmark will even mail and address your cards for you, for a fee of course, but most years that the only way I can get my cards out one time.

If you’re in the same boat, you can get 30% off of your holiday cards on if you use the coupon code BLOGHER30. The offer expires December 31, 2010.

Hallmark isn’t paying me to give you this info but they did send me the funniest Christmas card as an example of their work. Hallmak had a booth at Blogher last summer. They had a prop box full of costumey things and they asked if they could take my photo. Me + silly hats + posing for a photo = you know as well as I do that Hallmark was just asking for trouble.

I’m posing as Santa’s reserve reindeer – Mental. 
You know, the mischievous one who’s solemnly swears she’s up to no good? Yep that’s me!

Somehow I think Mental Red Headed Reindeer is going to be part of our holiday celebration this year.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Condo Blues Named Top 100 Green Blogs for Students

Condo Blues (this blog you happen to be reading right now) is named on The Top 100 Green Blogs for Students. I'm number 65 on the list. I'm in some pretty good company and excited to be listed along with some of my favorite green blogs that are must reads in my feed reader.

Check out the list and give a few new blogs a try, won't you?

And while we're all sharing, what are your favorite blogs, green or otherwise, that you think everyone should add to their reader?

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Give the Gift of Green Insead of Paper Christmas Cards

I am very bad about sending Christmas cards.

It gives my mom fits.

It has nothing to do with saving trees or being green. It has everything to do with sending Christmas cards being the last priority on my holiday To Do list that I never finish in time for Christmas.

The last time I made a serious effort to send cards almost all of them came back from relatives on Husband’s side of the family. They moved and failed to give Husband and I their addresses. GRR!

This year I’m trying something a little different in the holiday card department. I’m using the One Million Acts of Green Facebook application to Give the Gift of Green instead of sending paper Christmas cards to new house addresses I’m supposed know without being told.

The Gifts of Green are cute, a little funny, and a nice reminder of some the green things people ask me about when we visit.

I'm giving this one to Husband because I have shut the lights off on him before - Oopsie!

I haven't done with with socks. Shoes however...

By giving the Gift of Green via Facebook instead of paper Christmas cards, I know I’ll get them out on time,  save a tree, and I don’t have to worry about the cards coming back

Unless they unfriend me on Facebook.

Do you send paper holiday cards?

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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 18, 2010

Clean+Green Pet Stain Cleaner Giveaway!

If you have pets you will have to deal with pet pee. Trying to clean up after a pet piddling on a rug or worse, a hardwood floor isn’t always easy. Many conventional cleaners contain ammonia, which can be harmful to your pets, and worse, the smell of the ammonia in the cleaner encourages them to piddle on the spot you just cleaned up.

Some cleaners I’ve tried either clean the stain and leave the smell or take care of the smell and leave the pet stain. Is it too much to ask for something that will take care of both? Oh, and not kill my dog in the process?

Clean+Green offered to send me samples of their Dog Urine Odor and Stain Remover and Clean + Green - Wood & Tile for Dogs. The cleaners contain cane sugar, botanical extracts, hydrated cellulose, and purified water.

They say their products will remove dog urine stains, dog urine odors, dog smell and dog feces, and vomit.

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!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Have You Recycled Today?

Today is America Recycles Day. While shopping mindfully and reducing your use of disposable single use items is best, it isn’t always practical, desirable, or available. For example, in the tiny town where my in-laws live their city had to cancel their recycling program because it didn’t make enough money to pay for itself.

When that happens, I try to find another reuse for the item instead of tossing it into the trash where it will clutter up a landfill forever. For example, I rip up empty toilet paper rolls and toss them in my compost bin for brown matter because I don’t have access to dried leaves or grass clippings.

The toilet paper rolls as brown matter works like a charm!

Sometimes I get crafty.

I made this!
What do you do?
If you have a craft using toilet paper roll or paper towel tubes, there is still time to enter it into the White Cloud Imagination Unrolled Contest.  Voting opened on November 11, 2010 but you can enter and vote on your favorite project up until the contest ends on December 3, 2010.
The project with the most votes wins $1,000 and the two runner ups win $500 each. Just in time to help out with the holiday shopping!
If you enter a project, let us know in the comments below so we can vote for you! You can vote for more than one entry at a time, but can only vote for each entry once every day.
What have you recycled today?
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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.

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?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are Concrete Countertops Green?

I want an industrial look in my kitchen. I also want to keep it as green as I can. Kitchen Design Plan #25 has me removing the vinyl flooring to expose the concrete slab underneath and building a concrete counter top. Very green, right?

Maybe not.

Before we go any further let’s define concrete and cement:

Concrete I jack hammered out of my flower bed.
Concrete should not be confused with cement because the term cement refers to the material used to bind the aggregate materials of concrete. Concrete is a combination of a cement and aggregate.” 

I’m not sure why concrete is considered a green building material because the rock (generally limestone) has to be mined first and blended with other materials using very high heat before it’s ready to be mixed with water in a cement mixer at your front door to make cement. Often (but not always) to heat these kilns, cement companies use waste materials in addition to burning coal

Is that where concrete gets it’s green street cred? I am not so sure; look at what some (but not all. Local laws and ordinances prohibit the use of some of these materials in some areas but not in others) cement companies use for supplemental fuel:
  • Used tires
  • Hazardous waste (the stuff I drop off at my city’s hazardous waste center or worse? I can’t confirm or deny.)
  • Slaugherhouse waste
  • Plastic waste
  • Sewer sludge
  •  Rice hulls
  • Sugarcane waste
  • Used wood railroad ties
I am all about getting a second reuse out of anything that passes through my hands, but some of the items cause me more concern than others. I know I can’t burn tires as an individual, why can a company? Have you ever seen a tire fire? Tire fires are almost impossible to put out and they give off thick black smoke that cover the sky like the dead of night.

Railroad ties are soaked in creosote and are smoky and nasty to burn. I found this out the hard way when we burned a chunk of railroad tie in a campfire – never again.

I’m doubtful that there are enough scrubbers to line a cement plant smokestack to remove all the potential nastiness they are burning and allowing to billow into the air. In short, I’d hate to live anywhere near a cement plant. Just what is that stuff doing to my lungs and to those around me?

Yet I use this stuff daily. I suspect you do too.

I also don't know of a viable alternative. Do you?

I suppose where the green comes into play is that some companies use waste products from other industries in the cement mix such as slag, fly ash, silica fume, an synthetic gypsum. On the one hand, I wish we had cleaner and more reliable ways to produce goods and materials that didn’t create a need to dispose of their waste products in this way, like the fly ash that eventually lines coal burning smokestacks. On the other hand, I don’t want to give up all of the conveniences that these products offer me either. Remember how much I whined during my last three-day blackout?

Is Concrete a Green Building Material?


  • Concrete lasts forever. There are concrete structures the Romans built that are still around today.
  • Concrete is one of the few materials that can be gathered, ground down, and remade into concrete. This is typically done in commercial applications. On a smaller scale I found it difficult to find someone who would recycle a consumer’s small amount of concrete after a DIY project.
  • According to an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, a Georgia-based company has developed a way to make concrete for less money, that uses half the energy as the current process, and in a way that contains the mercury particles that are released as part of the current cement making process.
  • Concrete is considered green if it is made with a large enough percentage of fly ash. Fly ash comes from burning coal to fuel power plants and ironically the smokestacks from cement plants.
  • A cement building is generally more energy efficient than a wood frame building.
  • In the case of concrete countertops, you can embed other recycled materials in it like glass and use it instead of a slab of mined rock like granite.
  • According to Cnet “Cement is one of the worst materials to work with, from an ecological standpoint. It's massively expensive and the manufacturing plants that produce it are some of the world's worst carbon dioxide producers.”
  • According to a report in Forbes, “The manufacturing process also releases large amounts of mercury, which is hazardous to the people who work in the industry.”
  • I’m not exactly thrilled about some of the waste products some cement plants use to power their kilns but I think the alternative would be wood. I’m not exactly thrilled about chopping down trees for that purpose either.
  • Wood is a renewable resource. Limestone, clay, and the other components used to make concrete are not.
  • In the case of countertops, concrete countertops are porous and must be sealed periodically.
  • Concrete countertops are prone to cracking.

What do you think? Concrete has green attributes but also some very nasty ones as well. Is concrete green? Is there a greener alternative?

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This post is part of the Green Mom’s Carnival where our topic is concrete. Be sure to check out all of the posts on our host Retro Housewife Goes Green on November 15, 2010.

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.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Watch Streaming Video of Fake Plastic Fish at TEDx!

Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish is speaking at TEDx about leading by example and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch today 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. Beth will speak after 1:20pm 

Watch it live here on Condo Blues with me and cheer Beth on. Break a leg girlfriend!

tedxgp2 on Broadcast Live Free

And while you're at it, do something to make your part of the world a better place. Try refusing or replacing one type of single use disposable plastic something in your life. I've given up using plastic drinking straws. I typically refuse them but if I was a dedicated straw user I could consider buying a stainless steel straw or a glass straw and carry it around in my purse so I had it when I ordered a drink in a restaurant.

What disposable plastic have you refused lately?

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!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trying Recycled Toilet Paper, Take Two

For my July One Small Change , I switched from regular toilet paper made from cutting down a living tree to toilet paper made with 100% recycled paper content (from the paper you but in your recycling bin you sillies, not from used toilet paper – ew!)

We hate it.

A lot.

Which is saying something because as a family we’re just not that picky about the softness of our TP. The Evergreen recycled content toilet paper has the softness and cushiness and absorbency of your typical porta potty toilet paper (IF there’s actually paper in the potty, or does that only happen to me?) Once the last box of Evergreen is empty (which I stupidly stocked up on when it went on after Earth Day mega sale) five months into our recycled content toilet paper experiment, we’re ready to throw in the towel, make a formal apology to the polar bears at our local zoo, and go back to our chop down trees softer store brand of toilet paper.