Condo Blues: December 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm Apartment Therapy's Best of Creative Reuse!

Look at what I found waiting for me in my feed reader after the Christmas holiday. Apartment Therapy’s green blog Re-Nest choose my picture frame dog feeder as one of Re-Nest's Best Creative Reuse of 2008 projects!


This is an amazing way to close out my first blogging year. As you may recall, Apartment Therapy’s Re-Nest featured two of my Condo Blues creative reuse projects on their blog in October, Blitzkrieg’s raised dog feeder, and my wine glass chandelier.

So, let’s see, that’s a big THREE stories featuring yours truly on Apartment Therapy this year. I blog I love and read even before I started blogging. Next goal – write an article or have a project featured in Readymade – another of my all time favorite magazines.

What a great way to end 2008! Have you had any unexpected good things come your way this year?

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Monday, December 22, 2008

A Quick and Easy Modern Christmas Decoration

As I was decorating The Condo for Christmas, I had a little problem. I needed an extra holiday something on one of my side tables. Something not so rustic folksy. Something more long the lines of the Retro Modern Bauhaus Contemporary Found and Funkified Da Da-Danish decorating style I’m striving for in The Condo.

I didn’t want to jump into the car and go to the store and buy something because honestly, I knew I wanted something on that side table, but I had no idea what. In other words, going to the store and trying find and buy the perfect holiday something was a kin to a multistore and multiday vision quest. And while fun, I just didn’t have time for that. Not that day.

So I scrounged around and came across my decorating standby – the giant martini glass. You may remember that I filled it with seedpods from a neighborhood park during the Fall.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Woven Danish Hearts and Junk Mail Snowflake Window Decor

Some of my neighbors hang wreaths or swags on their second floor windows. I really like this look, on the freestanding Cape Cod style condominiums in my neighborhood. I thought I’d do the same this year. It should be easy enough, I thought because I could hang the wreath by opening the windows and hanging the greenery from the inside. In theory, this would have worked well. However, in the alternative decorating universe that we call The Condo, I forgot that I sealed the inside of the windows in October for winter.

In order to hang the greens, I would either have to remove all of the rope caulk from the inside of the windows or get out a ladder and climb up on the roof of the porch and possibly fall off of the roof because I am. That. Talented. Neither of these tasks was very onerous but both lacked appeal since I wanted to do the outdoor decorating job quickly and immediately – it was cold outside!

Oh, and I had one other small problem.

I didn’t buy greenery for the windows.

A shopping trip changed all of that. No, I didn’t buy wreaths or boughs of holly. That would be too easy. I walked by Anthropology’s holiday windows and found them covered in paper snowflakes.

I got inspired.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Use and Make Cloth Napkins

PhotobucketI’m a recent cloth napkin convert. It’s not that I didn’t already have cloth napkins, quite the contrary. I already had two sets of cloth napkins that coordinated with my everyday tablecloths stashed in the back of a kitchen drawer. However, I rarely the casual cloth napkins because, using cloth napkins every day seems like a pain (as in the I’d always be doing laundry because we ran out of cloth napkins) and honestly, I could purchase a giagundo pack of paper napkins for a $1.00 at the store if I played my cards right.

Sure, we’d quickly tear through that huge pack of paper napkins because He Who Cooks My Dinner used to use them to clean the kitchen instead of the small army of wipes, towels, cleaners, and sponges that we store under the kitchen sink (Harrumph!) Annoying, but still cheap.

However on one snowy, icey, and all around cruddy December day we ran out of paper napkins. I didn’t want to slog through all of that yuck to drive to the store and buy just one pack of paper napkins. I pulled the cloth napkins out of the drawer. I figured I’d try using the cloth napkins for daily dinners until my next grocery shopping trip. Well, my laziness paid off. I found that the cloth napkins were easier, cheaper, and a whole lot classier to use than the paper napkins. Not quite the pain in the hoo-ha I originally imagined. And, yes, the cloth napkins are more environmentally friendly too. This goes double for me, because I already had them in that the-greenest-thing-you-can-do-is-use-the-stuff-you-already-have way. Bonus.

Monday, December 15, 2008

20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge: November Update & Tips

My goal is to lower my home’s natural gas and electricity use by 20% in 2008. I also want to 
reduce my utilities as inexpensively as possible. Our main focus is on changing habits instead of replacing all of our fairly new and still working appliances and items with Energy Star equivalents. If our stuff wears out beyond fixability then of course, we’ll consider Energy Star items as replacements if applicable. Now that it’s getting colder in Central Ohio, we’ve turned on our natural gas furnace and unfortunately, it’s supposed to be a colder than normal winter. Winter is when our natural gas usage is at its highest, so let’s see how we did for November 2008.

November Natural Gas Usage

We use natural gas for heat, hot water, and a natural gas fireplace in our living room. Once the outside temperature dips to 40 degrees (F), we turn on the heat and switchover to some winter heat saving habits. Our habits and minor home improvements are paying off because in November 2008 we only used 28 CCF of natural gas dowm from the 37 CCF of natural gas we used in November of 20o7, that's a 9 CCF difference folks!

How I Lowered My Natural Gas Bill in November

Friday, December 12, 2008

3 Handmade Holiday Ornaments

I really enjoy Christmas tree ornaments. I’ve been collecting them since I was a teenager. Some were made for me as Christmas gifts from the crafty ladies in my family, some are store bought, and some I made myself. Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite handmade Christmas tree ornaments.

I still have my 12 inch bachelorette Christmas tree**. I put it up on the second floor landing of The Condo. This tree is now our Rennie Tree. It has some of the ornaments that Husband and I collected and displayed when we performed at renaissance festivals. Back in the day, our large tree was The Rennie Tree decked out in purple lights, gold ribbon, and Elizabethan animal ornaments. To fill in the holes in the that large tree, I bought some frame ornaments from Restoration Hardware and put photos of Husband and I in our many characters on the tree. For more filler, I string a few jingle bells on ribbon from my sewing stash. After all these years, they still look good. These ornaments sum up my personal decorating style -pair and pull off a combinaton of the expensive with the clever but very inexpensive.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

15 Habits That Lower Winter Utility Bills

During my 20% home energy reduction challenge, I quickly found that one of the best ways to lower my utility bills was to change my household habits according to the seasons. Seriously, folks, all of the energy efficient light bulbs and sealing of air leaks in the world won’t do much to p reduce your home’s electric and natural gas use if you keep every light in the house blazing and set the furnace to the highest temperature all day every day.

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Here are some of the things I do that help me lower my winter electricity and natural gas usage and hopefully the bill (unless they raise my rates.) These habits will work also work for apartment dwellers and renters too.

15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Winter Heating Bill

Monday, December 8, 2008

10 Green Gifts That Suck

There are some great environmentally friendly gifts and some that are not. I suspect that these are the items that a Greenzilla would give. (You know, the zealot who raises the green living bar so high that pretty much every person who honestly tries to do their part still fails in the eyes of the Greenzilla because you haven’t met the Greenzilla’s specific expectations?)

On the other hand, if you’ve decided this holiday season not to give gifts not as a token of love and appreciation but as a way to force your recipients to live the green life by doing everything exactly like you doNO EXCEPTIONS then these sucky enviro-gifts may be for you. (Personally, I’m not into the Greenzilla line of thinking because I think that there’s always more than one way to do something and achieve the same goal, which in this case, is a living a more sustainable life.)

10 Green Gift No Nos

Friday, December 5, 2008

How to Make a Personalized Appliqué Fleece Dog Blanket

Last year, Blitzkrieg and I participated in a small dog sport gift exchange. Well, technically the dogs were the gift givers and recipients but their humans did all of the shopping, wrapping, and shipping of gifts. In other words, the dogs got the goods and the humans did all of the work. Seems only fair because in our sport of agility Blitzkrieg does all of the work of running up over and through the obstacles on the course while I just run beside him and point to what he has to do next. OK, dog sport people know that there’s more to it on the human side, but that’s not the point of this post.

Anywayz, my New Year’s resolution that year was to try to use up some of the stuff in craft stash that in some cases had been sitting around for more years than I like to admit. Some of the items languishing in my craft stash were pieces of fleece that were too big to throw away but not large enough to make anything out of. That is, until this gift exchange. Turns out the fleece squares I had were just the right size to turn into small dog blankets. This project was the perfect time to try my hand at a little hand appliqué as well.

Dog Blankets
My applogies for the poor photo quality. 
I had to use my PDA to take the photos.

How to make a personalized appliqué fleece dog blanket

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

10 Meaningful Holiday Gift Ideas

As my extended family gathered and opened presents one holiday eve, the Dad looked over at the gift his son just opened and said, “Hey, that’s cool! Who’s it from? I bet it’s a Lisa gift!” Then the mom got excited, “a Lisa gift! What is it? Let me see! Let me see!”

Me? I’m sitting there thinking,”Uh oh. I’ve totally done it again. The family I love but that has more Nos than Yeses when it comes to what’s allowed for their kids, is going to make my gift disappear because I screwed up their only-known-until-you-break-it kid gift rules. Oh no!”

Quite the contrary, the Dad told me. In their house, a Lisa Gift is something unusual, awesome, and something the giver didn’t know that they wanted or needed until they got the gift and used it – a lot.