Thursday, December 30, 2010

How I Renvented Myself with Power Tools!

Many of you have asked how or why I got into DIY. Well, partially because I'm picky. I can't always find exactly what I like for sale in a store. And a little bit because I'm too cheap have something made custom when I can figure out how to do it myself.

The thing I didn't realize at the time is how empowering doing even a small project like changing a door knob can be. At the time, I just needed a new door knob installed on my house and Husband was too busy working on his own project to do mine.

Here's a little interview I did with Yahoo Shine at Blogher explaining how I reinvented myself with power tools to become the Green DIY Diva my family comes to know and tolerate (when I have the  house torn up in mid project.)

I love that she calls me a "girly girl" because I still am. I think there is room in your life for nail polish and playing with jackhammers.

How will you reinvent yourself in the new year?

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Small Green Change 2010 Wrap Up

Last year in addition to my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010, I participated in Hip Mountain Mama’s One Small Green Change Challenge. I made one small green change a month and blogged about it. Here’s my list and results.

January Ditching the Disposables – Furnace Filters The new reusable furnace filter works great, saves us money, and we never run out of filters - Keep

February Eat Healthy and Save Money: Make Granola Cereal  Another money saver and I get a low calorie baking fix. I usually whip up a batch of granola on Saturday mornings and eat it warm for Breakfast – Keep.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Thank you so much for stopping by Condo Blues throughout the year. I truly appreciate each and every one of you in BlogLand. Your visits, comments, and emails are the highlight of my day.

Have the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years!

- Lisa

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. 


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.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Three Great Video Game Gifts for Boys, Teens, and Tweens

When it comes to buying Christmas gifts for the tweens, teens, and boys on my gift-giving list, I’m more likely to give them a video game than something green because I want their gift to be meaningful to them. It's hard to find a green gift for older kids that they'd actually like and use beyond a t-shirt, which they already have tons of.

Being influenced by their Dad, two uncles, and World’s Most Fabulous Aunt (that’s me) who all work in IT, I know that the boys will actually use and enjoy a video game. I can almost guarantee that if I give them something green just for greenness sake, like hemp gym towels, those towels will never make into their gym bags. (Although I would enjoy a set of hemp bath towels if you’re listening Santa.)

I stick with giving Wii games because at least with a Wii you have to jump around and move to play the game. Depending upon the game, you might get a bit of exercise and drain a bit of hyper boy energy in the process.

For the sake of the children (heh), Husband and I have been buying and testing Wii games for Christmas. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Raving Rabbids Travel in TimeRaving Rabbids Travel in Time by Ubisoft  Rated E (for Everyone)– Husband and I love playing Raving Rabbids TV Party. I couldn’t wait for the new release Raving Rabbids Travel in Time. I gave a happy Rabbid like, “BwwwAAAAAAAAAAAH!” when a sample showed up at my door (now the Fed Ex guys runs away quickly after dropping off  all deliveries.) The Rabbids (as in insane little guys) don’t say bad words and generally yell Bwwwaah! Gwwaah! Daaaah!, etc. because they are either falling, causing trouble, about to fall because they are already in trouble.

In this game, the Rabbids time travel in a washing machine. They break things, like the nose off of the Spinx in ancient Eygpt and generally and mess up history. You have to play the games with the controller and numchuck to (hopefully) put things back to rights. There are the similar types of flying games, bouncing games, dance games, and shooting games as in the other Rabbid titles that we’ve know and come to love. One thing about the shooting games, the Rabbids weapon of choice is a toilet plunger gun. Things shot don’t die horribly like in other games. More often than not the injured party walks around with plungers stuck on them like some sort of demented porcupine and then disappears.

The thing Husband and I like most about Raving Rabbids Travel in Time is the party mode. It’s appropriate to bring with us to play on extended family get togethers and we all enjoy it because it’s so silly. Which is saying something because I have nine nieces and nephews from 5 months to 17 years.  You can play with up to four players and the games are short enough that it doesn’t take all night to play. Travel in Time is fun to play alone but even better if you play it in a group.

  • SwordsSwords by Mesjesco Entertainment rated T (for Teens) – I took a fencing class in college and later did stage combat with a sword. The review copy of Swords appeals to me because I’m terrible at games that shoot things or use with a traditional controller. In Swords, you are being trained by Sensei Musashi to eventually fight various opponents (Lanelot, a Viking, a futuristic robot) who use a variety of fighting styles and swords. 

This game is a workout! Just like in real life, I’d rather get my exercise dancing or playing a game or  fencing. Swords is definitely for older teens and adults because you have to fight opponents and zombies and it is violent. The game works with the Wii motion plus controllers which adds a little extra to the game when you play. Swords has a two player mode which can be tough if you have a small living room to play in.  I think this game is fine for adults and teens (depending upon your teen) but it stays out of view at my house when the younger kids come over.

  • Mario Kart Wii with Wii WheelMario Kart Wii by Ninetendo  rated  (for Everyone) – After playing endless games of Mario Kart Wii with Mr. H over Thanksgiving, Husband went right out and bought Mario Kart Wii as soon as we got home. This is something Husband doesn’t normally do; he’d wait and ask for it for Christmas, which means this game is something special. 

We bought the steering wheel version which is a little easier than the nonsteering wheel version Mr. H has, but both versions are playable and enjoyable. Well, as enjoyable as it came be being trounced by a 9 year old during every. single. race. 

You can play Mario Kart Wii in single player or multi player mode. You play as almost any character in the Mario universe and select your vehicle. The race courses are twisty and with road hazards that you’d only find in the Mario universe like driving over a series of toadstools which is really hard to do without crashing! The thing that made us adults go back to Mario Kart Wii from a NASCAR driving game after Mr. H went to bed, is the power ups and the ability to leave a trail of banana peals and other sabotages for your appointments. Husband and I both agree after playing the game that we’d actually enjoy NASCAR if it was more like Mario Kart Wii.

What are your favorite Wii games? I need some ideas since Husband already bought himself the game I wanted to give him for Christmas!

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

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. If you chose to make a purchase through them I get a very small commission which will go into the Blitzkrieg Surgery Fund. It's a win win.

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

White Cloud Holiday Twitter Party

Twitter parties are my favorite type of party to attend because I can wear yoga pants and go without makeup and no one is the wiser!

Well, except now I suppose.

But seriously, Twitter parties are a great way to interact with and meet new people on Twitter. In fact, after realizing that I had more I wanted to say about food than 140 characters would allow during Twitter food parties, I started my food blog Lazy Budget Chef.

I've found a lot of very interesting people outside of my green blogging niche through Twitter parties too.

White Cloud is hosting a Holiday Twitter Party on Tuesday, December 14th from 7 - 8pm CST (8-9pm EST, 6-7pm MST, 5-6pm PST) and you’re invited! White Cloud will be discussing tips, tricks, and creative ways to celebrate the holiday season.

White Cloud will also be giving $50 Walmart gift cards away every 10 minutes during the Twitter party to random participants.

To participate, log on to Twitter and follow @WhiteCloudMom and the hashtag #WhiteCloudMom to see all of the tweets. You don’t have to be a mom to participate. I’m not a Mom and I’m going to be there. Will you?

If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @CondoBlues.

You don’t even have to use White Cloud products either! However, after a blind tushie test, we switched to White Cloud Green Earth 100% recycled content toilet tissue. I like their products so much that I became a White Cloud Brand Ambassador.

Now, since I'm completely honest with you, I'm going to let you know that White Cloud is paying me to promote this Twitter party but all opinions about them and their product are my own. The money I receive from promoting the White Cloud Holiday Twitter Party will go directly into the Blitzkrieg Surgery Fund. Yeah, it looks like my little boy will need surgery, more on that later.

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

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.”


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.

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

How I Rediscovered My Christmas Spirit

As a green blogger I get defensive about Christmas. I love Christmas! While others see over consumption and waste, I choose to focus on my love of the music, the spiritual aspects of the holiday, the decorations, and the giving of meaningful gifts.

I wasn’t always this way. For many years the build up and anticipation of Christmas day quickly faded into a ho uum, it’s just another family gathering, let’s eat kind of day. That’s not to say that I forgot the true meaning of Christmas nor that I wasn’t greatful for the gifts I received (which I have always been taught that it is a privilege to receive and not a right.)

It’s just that it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of preparing for the holiday and the notion that all of our family foibles will magically disappear on Christmas day and it will all turn into a Norma Rockwell painting.

Fortunately, Christmas shopping for ideas and items all year round has paid off in an unexpected way. My holiday stress isn’t as great because as much I try not to focus on Christmas being about gifts, the reality is that I still have to make or buy gifts for Husband’s and my immediate family which is quite large. If I waited until December, I’d be stressing and making some not so great gift choices just to be done in time.

I also lowered my holiday expectations a bit. Because well, having a magazine perfect holiday is not realistic. If you’ve ever wondered why all of the Christmas magazines and TV shows and commercials feature artificial Christmas trees, it’s because they shoot them in July!

Another thing we forget is that unlike they rest of us, those media outlets have a small army people who to make every decoration, buffet, gift, cookie, and card idea featured while the rest of us try like mad (and get mad) to replicate the whole thing on our own in the few shorts weeks before Christmas.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

And that’s OK.

I learned to prioritize what makes a holiday special for me and mine from one year to the next. Some things are must haves, some things are nice to do if there’s time, and still others are we’re a bit tired of that, let’s give it rest this year kind of thing.

I found my Christmas joy by doing what’s important to my family, realizing that there are some things I can’t change about people or situations, and opting out of those things that everyone says you should do but cause us stress or we just don’t enjoy very much – like fruitcake. Sorry I’ve never met a fruitcake I’ve ever liked. Now, frosted sugar cookies on the other hand …you get the idea.

Each year’s Christmas holiday is different from the last and that’s just the way I like it.

How do combat Christmas stress and find your joy?

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

This post is part of the December Green Moms Carnival hosted by Citizen Green December 10, 2011.

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?

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 D├ęcor and Green and Clean Mom.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trudeau Stainless Steel Travel Mug Giveaway

When it comes to travel coffee mugs I have a drinking problem. Well, it’s more of a spillage problem. Once I found a travel mug that had a flap that sealed properly over the drinking hole, which allowed me to carry it around and drink from it without a potential coffee bath, I used that mug and only that mug. I donated the rest our travel coffee mugs to a thrift store.  

Several years later the plastic handle snapped off my travel mug.

Apparently, I’m not allowed to have nice things.

I still use the mug because I can drink from it like a tumbler but the sides get hot when there’s coffee in it. So now I’m doing the travel coffee mug dance thing again. I'm ready to lay out some serious cash for a mug that won't leak when walking or drinking or otherwise break.

The Soft Landing now has BPA, lead, and PVC free items for adults as well as children. They sent me a stainless steel Trudeau Board Room Travel Mug to try. I got the mug the day before Husband and I jumped on a plane to visit his sister in Texas. It was the perfect testing ground for my new travel mug.

I got positive comments on how cool the pleather wrap on the handle and mug looked when I presented it to every coffee shop I visited during our trip, which were several because for some insane reason my sister in law makes decaf coffee.

The handle as well as the mug is stainless steel, which makes the possibility of snapping the handle off remote. The wraps keep me from burning my fingers when using the handle and when gripping the mug like tumbler, a welcome change from my old mug.

The double walled stainless steel construction kept my coffee and lattes hot for hours after visiting the shop. The thing that made this little mug worth all of the tea in China (or Kona coffee in Hawaii) is the no spill locking lid. When I first twisted the lid on, a few drops of coffee seeped from the seam. However, it was nothing like the deluge of coffee mugs past. After tightening the lid and making sure that I had it screwed on properly for every use after, the seepage problem disappeared. Once I locked the lid closed, it stayed closed. Even after twisting the lid open and closed several times in row. And for the first time ever, nothing spilled out of my mug when I locked the lid and turned the mug upside down. I’ll let you decide if I was conducting a through mug test or just trying to entertain myself during layovers.

I felt so confident that the lid would stay closed and not leak that I tossed a full mug into my tote bag when I had to board the plane. No leaks!  This meant I had a peppermint mocha latte to drink on my flight home while the rest of the plane suffered with nasty airplane coffee.

The only downside to this mug is that it’s hand wash only. Some say the locking top is difficult to clean.  I gave the lid an extra soak in water and dish washing detergent the sink if I drake a latte. Problem solved.

Win a Trudeau Board Room Travel Mug *Closed*

The Soft Landing is sponsoring a giveaway of a fabulous Trudeau Board Room Travel Mug!  This mug would make a great holiday gift for yourself or for someone you love.

To enter: Leave a comment on Condo Blues telling me your favorite beverage to drink out of a travel mug.

You must leave your email address so I can contact you if you win or your entry will be disqualified. If your email address is available via your Blogger profile that counts. I am not going to do anything mischievous with your email address. I just want to contact you about sending your prize to you if you win because not being able to contact giveaway winners makes me sad.

You can earn extra chances to win by doing any of the following after you’ve made your initial comment on my blog:
  1. Blog about my contest with a link back to Condo Blues. Please leave the URL of your blog post so I can verify it.
  2. Subscribe to Condo Blues by Email.
  3. Subscribe to the Condo Blues RSS feed
  4. Follow Condo Blues on Twitter AND tweet about the contest. Please leave your user name and the URL of your tweet in your comment so I can verify it. 
  5. Become a fan of the Condo Blues Facebook page.

You must leave a separate comment for each method you used to enter the contest. If you choose to use every method of entry, you have up to six chances to win! I will use a random generator to select the winner.

 The Trudeau Board Room Travel Mug Giveaway runs from December 7, 2010 – December 19, 2010 12 midnight EST. Good Luck!

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
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.

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Four Great Green Rugs

Area rugs can add a nice pop of color and texture to a room, especially if the rug is made with natural materials.

The Euphrates from The Jute Rug Shop is what you typically think of when the words jute rug comes to mind. Jute doesn’t needs pesticides or fertilizers to grow and is a rain fed crop.

The Kilimanjaro Deluxe Hand Braided jute rug has a little more texture and is actually quite soft on the feet.  

If you’re concerned about your cats using a jute rug as a scratching post, try bamboo. The bamboo rugs from Bamboo Rugs and Mats even come in colors!

I love this red bamboo rug.

The traditional bamboo color is nice too. This bamboo chair mat would be perfect for my computer room. I bet it would last longer than the plastic one I have now.

What do you think about jute and bamboo rugs. Yea or nay?

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

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.


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, December 1, 2010

One Small Green Change: Grow a Christmas Tree

For my first Christmas, my parent bought a live Christmas tree. My dad sawed off two branches from the back of the tree and wired them to the front to fill a big gap in between the branches. All of the needles fell off the Christmas tree and my mom spent the rest of the year vacuuming them up from the carpet long after Christmas.

The following year they bought a fake tree and used it every Christmas thereafter. I bet that fake Christmas tree is carbon neutral by now.

Since I haven’t had a real Christmas tree for as long as I can remember, I thought I’d do something a little different for December’s One Small Green Change. I won a pine tree sapling in an Earth Day contest two years ago. I stuck it in a pot on my patio, watered it and hoped for the best.

It grew a little and didn’t die. Yay me!

Now what to do with it? My little evergreen will eventually outgrow its pot. My Homeowner’s Association won’t let me plant the tree in my yard. However, I am allowed to plant it in my front flower bed as long as the tree doesn’t out grow the flower bed.