Condo Blues: February 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where are the Environmentally Friendly Carpet Cleaners?

Last weekend I woke up with a scratchy sore throat. Since it didn’t get any worse or better throughout the day, I knew that my allergies were the culprit. Doing a deep Spring cleaning of our bedroom usually clears up whatever dust or dander is bothering me. When Husband got home from his 15 mile run (yes 15 miles – the man is a machine! Oh, and he runs too.) I asked him to be careful because the carpets might still be wet because I steam cleaned them with the carpet shampooer while he was out.

“Yeah, I know”, he said and wrinkled his nose; “I can smell chemicals.”

We haven’t had that conversation since I started cleaning the kitchen floor with food for Blitzkrieg’s sake.


I grabbed the bottle of carpet shampoo and did a little research on what might be in my carpet cleaner. It wasn’t very easy because in the law doesn’t require US companies to list the ingredients of their cleaning products on their labels.

My bottle of carpet cleaner was a store brand, so it wasn't in the Household Products Database but I found a few comparable brands. I found two iffy chemicals that may be in my carpet shampoo, Propane and Isobutane. The database reports that with liquid forms of both chemicals can cause chemical burns. Now the levels they are talking about are a pure form of the liquid chemical and not watered down or mixed in a solution as in my carpet cleaner. But since 12 pound Blitzkrieg pads around on my freshly cleaned and damp carpets (despite my best efforts to keep him from doing so) I don’t want to take any chances of those nasty chemicals getting on his paws and then inside him when he grooms himself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crochet Your Own Doctor Who Dolls

Geek alert! I have a confession, “Hi, my name’s Lisa and I am a Doctor Who fan.”
“Hi Lisa!” you say.

I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I found old episodes of the show running on PBS in the 90’s. Naturally, I’m watching the new Doctor Who series. Husband and I make it appointment television.

Husband even bought me my own Doctor Who sonic screwdriver toy (and pen!) for Christmas one year. It sits on my desk in front of my computer at all times just in case I need to write a note, put up a lot of cupboards, or confuse a Dalek – your choice.

So imagine my interest when I checked out snuffykin's journal and saw that she crocheted an amigurumi style Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) doll. So cute!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

10 Ways to Use Orange Peels

I remember standing in my Grandmother’s Florida kitchen and as we chatted, she was squeezing lemons. She said that a neighbor gave her a bunch of lemons from her lemon tree and since they were getting soft she was going to squeeze the juice out of them, freeze it in one-cup containers to use whenever she needed a cup of lemon juice for cooking. That little instance was one of many, “We didn’t get where we are in this life by wasting things” lessons she taught me.
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I don’t have a lemon tree in my yard, but I did have a bunch of oranges in my refrigerator. After enjoying the oranges, I looked at the peels and thought about that long ago conversation with my Grandmother. I can’t compost orange peels but I figured that they had to be useful. I put the orange peels in a container the freezer and did some research. Here are 10 ways I found that you can put those old orange peels to good reuse.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I’m Going to BlogHer ’09!

Going to BlogHer
Wrangling mics, greening conferences
Will I see you there?

That’s right kids, this July I’m packing up my bags and going to BlogHer ‘09. But me being me, I can’t just attend a conference. Oh no. I have to get involved in some way. So, I volunteered to use my mad podcasting skillz and will be a Mic Wrangler during the conference. What does that mean? Well, it means that if you want to ask a question or make a comment during one of conference sessions some woman who is fleet of foot is going to sidle up to you and thrust a microphone into your face so you can make your voice heard during the conference and be recorded for the conference sessions’ podcasts. And one of those fleet of foot women might just be me! So make sure you say a big “Hi Lisa!” or “Hi Condo!” to me during the conference!

I'm Going to BlogHer '09

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to Make a Gas Fireplace Chimney Balloon/Chimney Pillow

Even after caulking the windows and adding draft strips to the outside doors of The Condo the living room was chilly during the winter. No matter how high I set the thermostat, there was a mighty draft coming from somewhere in my living room. I set out to find it. I didn’t have to go very far, because according to the US Department of Energy 15% of the heat loss in a home is through an open fireplace damper when the fireplace is not in use.

I put a hand in front of the gas fireplace grill and felt a cold breeze. Caught ya you little energy napper!

You can easily solve this problem if you have a wood burning fireplace by just closing the damper. Boom. Problem solved. Unfortunately, I have a gas burning fireplace and the dampers on a gas burning fireplace are permanently kept open.

Since we only use the fireplace during power outages and for entertaining, I wondered if there was a way that I could close the damper when it wasn’t in use to keep the heated air from escaping up the chimney, and save money on my utility bills, and reduce my natural gas usage.

Fortunately, you can stop drafts in a gas fireplace with a Chimney Balloon, or Chimney Pillow . It looks like a Mylar balloon that that you stuff up your chimney when it’s not in use. You can buy one of those or make your own version.

Do I have to even have to tell you that I made my own DIY version? Of course not.

Keep Heat and Utility Bills from Going Up the Chimney

Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Hang a Yellow Ribbon

I have a family member who is in the military and deployed to Iraq. I dug out the yellow ribbon from the box of front porch decorations and hung it on the small tree in my front yard.

Traditionally people hang yellow ribbons to symbolize that they are waiting for the safe return of a loved one or of military troops who are unable to come home due to an overseas assignment.

Since my tree is small, I chained two cable ties together and used those to attach it to my tree. Yes, the whole thing is plastic, but I wanted something that wouldn’t fade, was reusable, and could survive the crazy Ohio weather since it’s going to be up for at least a year.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Keep a Shower Curtain Rod from Falling

Scene: Night. The Condo residents are nestled all snug in their beds.

SFX:Silence except for Blitzkrieg, the 12 pound Pekingese who is snoring louder than a 300 pound man in desperate need of adenoid surgery.


Thumpa! Thumpa!”

Bow-rowr- -rowr- -rowr- -rowr- -rowr- -rowr-!”

"Plink! Plink! Plink!”

Groggily I shuffle to the bathroom. The supposed stay up spring loaded shower curtain rod fell down. I raise my hands to the heavens and wonder how I pissed off the home improvement gods this time? Why must these things always happen in the middle of the night? Why can’t I get a good night’s sleep?

I though I took care of this problem months ago. Once I realized that the el cheapo nontension plastic shower curtain rod that came with the house was held up with nothing more than good intentions, I replaced it with a this exact metal tension shower curtain rod like this one with grippy rubber tips that are supposed to stay in place no matter what. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience. )

Apparently I was wrong about the long term stay uppidness. Time to break out the power tools.

how to keep a bathroom shower curtain rod from falling
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How I Made a Sturdy Stay Up Shower Curtain Rod

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fabkins – Cute Cloth Napkins for Kids!

While I don’t have kids full time, I am lucky enough to have a whole host of nieces and nephews of various ages to
run experiments on 
help me test children’s products. One of these products was Fabkins children’s napkins. Fabkins are cotton cloth napkins that are a little smaller than a full size dinner napkin and made to fit on kid’s laps and in kid’s lunchboxes.

Fabkins founders Joyce Raffo and Paige Rodgers wanted to pack waste free school lunches for their children. The moms had a hard time finding reusable cloth napkins that weren’t too big for a lunch box and that were, well, fun. They decided to make their own and Fabkins was born.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Filing Cabinet Handle Revamp

I got a filing cabinet has a gift to hold all of the papers and whatnots that goes with being a responsible adult. It’s made of flimsy thin metal. I’m sure it was a Wally World (ugh!) special because shortly after we got it the plastic drawer pull snapped off in my hand when I tried to use it to open the drawer.

I looked for a replacement handles at Lowes but I couldn’t find anything that would fit the screw holes that were already drilled in the cabinet drawer front. Husband and I both remarked that we should just go to Staples and get a more substantial filing cabinet and send the cheap-o cabinet to that great metal recycling bin in the sky. OK, not really a recycling bin in the sky, more like the recycling dumpster outside of the fire station around the corner but you get my drift. I was trying to be poetic about refuse.

I was poking around the Habitat Restore and found some hideous brass 1970’s drawer pulls. The only redeeming quality was that these drawer pulls had a back plate that would cover the old screw holes in the drawer front if I needed to drill new ones to install the new handle. Oh, that and the handles were cheap. At fifty cents for the pair I figured that I could do something with them to deuglyfy them and have a more useful filing cabinet once again.

I painted the drawer pulls and back plate with some leftover silver spray paint. Once the silver paint was dry, I painted the interior of the back plate with black paint for interest and to de-70’s the look at bit.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Make a No Slip Stay Put Door Draft Dodger

I installed metal draft blockers on the front and back doors of The Condo. Then I noticed that some areas of The Condo were still cold and a bit drafty – around the doors to my coat closet and pantry, which are both on outside walls. These drafts meant that my heater needs to work a little harder to keep the Condo warm in winter and the air conditioning needs to work a little harder to keep the Condo cool during the summer.

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 These drafts were wasting energy and costing me money – something I try to avoid. I like to save energy and save money on my heating and cooling bills.

What to do? I needed something to block the drafts on those interior doors. I didn’t think a metal draft plate would work on my wooden hollow core doors. I didn’t like how traditional fabric door draft dodger/door draft blocker/door draft stopper/door draft snake won’t stay in place. So I made a no slip stay put door draft dodger. Here’s how I did it.

Not only is making this no slip door draft blocker quick and easy project, but it is also a great stash buster!

Sew a No Slip Stay Put Door Draft Blocker 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why Solar Panels Won’t Work Year Round in Central Ohio

Recently I was discussing how to reduce city energy costs on an online forum. A user offered the opinion that once everyone had converted to producing electricity using only solar and wind energy that we would end our dependency on fossil fuels forever. Many others chimed in, everyone agreed solar, and wind for everyone is the way to go.

Great idea until I looked out my window and saw this.

The branches and what's left of leaves on the tree in my front yard are encased in ice from an ice storm

I noticed that the person who offered this opinion was from Costa Rica, where they have sun in abundance.