Condo Blues: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to Freeze Fresh Tomatoes

I like to eat fresh tomatoes. When my friends and neighbors have an overabundance of tomatoes growing in their gardens and ask me to take some of their extra tomatoes off of their hands the correct answer is always “yes!” because I only have room on my patio for one hanging tomato plant.

Luckily, a generous soul gave me a big ol’ bag of tomatoes this summer. Unluckily, it was two days before I planned an out of town trip. I knew if I left those fresh red beauties in my refrigerator while I was on vacation a week later I’d come back to a bunch of spoiled tomatoes, ready for the compost bin. I don’t have super duper canning skills, equipment, or knowledge. Time was also at a premium. What do to do? I sent those tomatoes to the deep freeze. Yes, it’s true. You can freeze tomatoes.

Here’s how.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How to Make Moth Repelling Lavender Sachets

I love the look and smell of the lavender growing in my front yard. I also love that lavender is a natural moth and pest repellant.


This year, I had a good crop of lavender and decided to make sachets that I could hang up in my closets to keep the moths at bay.

First, I dried the fresh lavender. Once it was dry, I removed the flowers and cut the stalk and leaves into tiny bits.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Save Travel Time and Money with a Zero Waste Road Trip

Husband, Blitzkrieg, and I took off for an 8-hour road trip from Ohio to a tiny mountain town in Northern Georgia. When we travel with our dog, we bring a picnic lunch because we don’t want to leave the dog alone in a hot car for health and safety reasons. I wondered if we could do it as a Zero Waste or Low Waste road trip beause depending up whom you read on the Web or watch on TV (hello Planet Green!), doing something the Green Way is always:

· More expensive
· More time consuming
· More difficult
· but better for the environment

Long story short – we did it! And guess what?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Make a Denim Beaded Cuff Bracelet From a Coffee Cup Sleeve

Here's another idea on what to do with those leftovers when you make a pair of shorts from a pair of pants. Grab a cardboard coffee cup sleeve, some thread, and some beads and create a bejeweled cuff bracelet!

Beads by Lilli uses denim for her bracelet but I think any fun scrap fabric will work for this project. In fact, you could wrap some tin foil around two of those coffee cup sleeves and make yourself a set of Wonder Woman bracelets for Halloween!

Is it too early to think about this year's Halloween costumes?

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to Plan For/Survive an Extended Electrical Blackout

I’ve experienced quite a few short term and long term weather related power outages and blackouts. The worst one was in 2004, when an ice storm took down power lines and left most of my city in darkness for a week. Christmas week. With a big plan for the worst and hope for the best, I give you five things to consider and plan for when the power lines go down and electricity is out for an unknown extended period.

1. Consider Shelter
Staying at Home
· If it’s a summer blackout, it may be too hot to stay inside your house. The easiest thing to do may be to just grab an extra chair or blanket and step outside. Chances are your neighbors are doing the same. This may be a great time to get to know your neighbors a little better and do an impromptu block party, or play a game of Frisbee, baseball, or cards.

· Even if you use natural gas to heat your home, you may not have heat during a winter electrical outage. Some natural gas furnaces use an electrical fan to blow the heat through the ductwork to heat your home. Therefore, even if the heater may still be working, without electricity you’re not going to have the little fan that. And without a working fan, you may have a cold house. (I found out about this one the hard way.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ike Sends Hurricane Force Winds to Central Ohio

Sunday night I just went through my first hurricane and didn’t even know it.

Because I live in Central Ohio.

Yes, Ohio.

In Ohio, we have a saying, “if you don’t like the weather wait a few minutes and it will change.” It should be the state motto because it sums up how often and how wacky weather events in our area can change from good to Bad and from Bad to Worse, and Worse to “Head for the basement! It’s a tornado!” We didn’t get such a warning last Sunday about the windstorm and its Category 1 Hurricane winds (very strange for us because we’re Tornado Country not Hurricane Country) that Hurricane Ike decided to share with the rest of the country after he battered the Gulf Coast. Thanks Ike, but that’s one gift that’s just not as fun to share, as say, a box of chocolates.

Why didn’t I know until much, much later that Hurricane Ike was going to send Ohio 75 MPH winds instead of the usual really freaking bad rain, wind, and thunderstorms that eventually make their way to Ohio after a hurricane hits the southern US? This, in a city where a weather forecast of frost covering the ground in winter will send most of our local weather people into predicting Armageddon? Where the local weather forecasters literally freak out and give out weather warnings, watches, and advisories like it was candy at Halloween when we get a piddly three inches of snow? So why didn’t I find out about the possibility of this high windstorm and what not to do (stand outside with the neighbors and talk about how bad the wind is blowing) until I was in the middle of it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

EcoSmart Organic Insecticide Review

I have a little agreement with nature. As long as ants, spiders, bugs, and the like stay outside of my home, they get to live. Once they come inside The Condo, I will squash them like a bug. End of story.

For the first four years of Condo living this arrangement worked out very well. Until now. Some sugar ants decided to test my theory and infiltrated my kitchen via the threshold of a sliding glass door. Oh, I could squash all I wanted but more came. I tried caulking up the crack under the baseboard where those itty-bitty ants entered The Condo. That worked for about a day until the ants ate through the caulk laughing at me all the way- ha ha HA!

So why didn't I just pull out the bug spray, you say? One small problem. His name is Blitzkrieg. My dog likes to pull sentry duty right in front of that sliding glass door. Any bug spray that I use to kill the ants on the floor by the door will probably get on or in him, since he likes to lick his paws. And while I want to kill bugs I don't want hurt my dog.

Therefore, when EcoSMART Organic Insecticide contacted me about sponsoring a contest on my blog I jumped at the chance to try a free sample. I tried the EcoSMART Ant and Roach killer. It is made from organic plant oils (rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, wintergreen oil, mineral oil, and canola oil) and is supposed to kill bugs naturally. It is safe to use around children and pets.

But does it work?

Friday, September 12, 2008

My New Blogging Gig!

Capessa Blogger
Sustainable Style I write
my new blogging gig

Today is Friday and no one is singing the blues in this Condo Today. For three very wonderful reasons:

Happy Reason 1: Next week, I'm running my very first contest here on Condo Blues. It's sponsored by a great company (no relation whatsoever to the entities I will touch on in Happy Reason Number 3) and I hope that everyone comes back to me September 12-19 to get in on this great giveaway. I hope that this contest is the first of many yet to come.

Happy Reason 2: It's raining! My parched plants are very grateful for today's rain although I hate that it's at the expense of my family, friends, and readers that are in the path of Hurricane Ike. I'm especially concerned for Forced Green whose hurricane survival plans include either lashing herself to a big tree in her yard or moving to the moon because she's so sick and tired of hurricanes and hurricane season. I only hope that if she chooses the tree option that the hurricane (or possible resulting tornado) doesn't blow her and the tree to the Land of Oz. If it does, then I hope she brings us all back sweets from The Lollipop Guild or a pair of swanky new shoes. I hear Oz is a great place for shoe shopping. Just ask Dorothy Gale.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to Make Old Doc Martin Boots into a Hip Flower Pot

Husband and I spent at weekend at the Dublin Irish Festival. We saw the sights, we ate some pretty good haggis (yes, it’s a Scottish food, but we Celts in America sometimes have to have Scottish stuff at our Irish events because we don’t have access to 100% Irish entertainment or food vendors all the time like they do in say, Ireland), listened to great bands such as The Tartan Terrors (friends of ours from our Renaissance Festival days), Gaelic Storm (you might recognize them as the steerage band in that tiny film about a boat that sank), and spent quite a bit of time at the Celtic rock stage listening to The Prodigals, and yes, Bad Haggis.

After that I got the itch to make something creative and yes, a little bit rock and roll. Even, dare I say, a little punk rock? I decided to dig out my very first pair of Doctor Martian boots and make a flower planter out of them.

First I made a self watering planter from a plastic water bottle Husband got after running a road race and a bit of leftover t-shirt material.

Photobucket Image Hosting

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Strappy Leather Drawer Pulls

Sometimes it's the little details that can turn a potentially blah set of drawers into a wow set of drawers. I think these leather drawer pulls from Spinneybeck do just that.

They come in a wide range of Bauhaus-inspired colors (kudos to you if you recognize that I'm taking about the Bauhaus design movement and not the punk rock band) and are designed by Emanuela Fattini.

Yes, these drawer pulls are on the pricey side. I suppose that's what you get for good design and the company earning a Greenguard certifification (meaning that the company is certified that it uses environmentally friendly manufacturing and shipping processes.) However, if you're handy, I'm sure you could come up with an inspired-by design or two made out of strips of leather or rubber (if you don't like the look or use of leather) and some screws.

This type of drawer or cabinet pull would be a great finishing touch to either an industrial or country style kitchen. What do you think?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Low VOC Wood Glue, Who Knew?

Good things come to those who blog, or in my case, those who are lucky enough to win a contest because I won a nifty tool bag and two bottles of environmentally friendly wood glue called EcoGlue Premium Wood Adhesive from The Handyguy’s Podcast. Thank you Brian and Paul, you're the best!


Now I have to admit that not until I got the bottles of low VOC EcoGlue in my hot little hands did I ever think about the ecological or environmental ramifications of glue. It never crossed my mind. So I wanted to know what made EcoGlue so special. Well, it turns out that most wood glues contain Volatile Organic Compounds, which are also know as VOCs. In the case of wood glue, it’s generally formaldehyde.

Um, OK. That made me ask myself, “What actually is a VOC? What does it do? How much exposure to it is bad? And why the heck should I care?”