Condo Blues: October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Make a (Cute) No Solicitors Sign

One of the drawbacks of living in a condo community with nicely planned blocks of houses with sidewalks is that we are ripe for the picking when it comes to door to door salespeople. Now that it’s election season, it’s becoming downright unbearable! I’ve had more than one person come to the door pimping the same issue despite asking them to please take them off our visitation list. It's not that I'm politically unaware, I am more than you know. It's just that I don't want my Saturday HGTV and DIY Network coffee + snuggling doggie + dream time interrupted three times in one day with a parade of people knocking on my door about the same thing. The worst offenders are the fake water testing companies trying to tell us our water will kill us unless  we buy their product allow them to test our water.

I decided to make a No Solicitors sign.

I bought a frame at Goodwill and sanded it.
 It doesn't look like much but this frame is an achievement. I went to Goodwill looking for picture frames and came out of Goodwill with picture frames instead of picture frames plus the dozen other things that tempted me. Yay me!

I used leftover outdoor paint from my porch chair revamp project to paint my picture frame since it will live outside.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five Toilet Paper Roll Crafts and a Contest!

Toilet paper and paper towel roll crafts are an elementary school staple. Lately, adults are dipping into their recycling bins, making toilet paper and paper towel roll crafts that are more artistic than kiddie craft.

Who hasn’t seen the toilet paper roll leaves wall art and not been inspired?

Photo courtesy of Design Sponge

I am! The Design Sponge wall art inspired me to decorate my telephone book wreath with toilet paper roll flowers.

I made this!

I think Paint Cut Paste’s Toilet Roll Pumpkin Garland  is so clever! I want to try something like it with Danish Christmas hearts.

Photo courtesy Paint Cut Paste

This cartoon wall art looks like it uses both whole toilet paper and paper towel rolls. It reminds me of old eight bit computer game graphics. The computer geek in me digs it.

Photo courtesy of Toilet Paper World Blog

How to Gal’s turquoise toilet roll wall art is nothing short of genius! It looks like an expensive wrought iron wall hanging. Love! Love! Love!

Photo courtesy of How To Gal

What have you made with toilet paper rolls?

Imagination Unrolled Contest!

Put those toilet and paper towel crafting skills to the test. White Cloud is holding the Imagination Unrolled Contest. Take a photo of something you’ve made with empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes and upload the photo. If your entry gets the most votes you win the $1,000 Grand prize! Two runners up will win $500. Voting begins November 11th, so you a some time to create the perfect craft. Or gather your materials. If you need more, there are coupons available at White Cloud.

Imagination Unrolled Twitter Party!

To get everyone in the mood, White Cloud is hosting a Twitter party Thursday, October 21st 3pm - 4pm CST (1pm pacific, 2pm mountain, 3pm central, 4pm eastern.) The theme is Imagination Unrolled. They will be discussing how to 'Unroll Your Imagination' throughout the house. I think it would be the perfect opportunity for us crafty and green folks to jump in because repurposing and reimagining our old stuff into new stuff is something in which we excel.

Oh, and White Cloud will be giving away a $50 gift card every 10 minutes to a random Twitter party participant as an added incentive. The holidays are coming and who couldn’t use a little extra money to buy life’s necessities?

How to Participate in a Twitter Party

Log in to Twitter at the appropriate time in your time zone and follow the party host @WhiteCloudMom. Search and follow the hashtag #WhiteCloudMom. When you post make sure you use the #WhiteCloudMom hashtag in your post so everyone following the Twitter party can read what you have to say whether they personally follow you or not.

I like to use Tweetgrid to follow along in Twitter parties because it gives you different columns for the host’s tweets, your tweets and @’s and a third column for the party’s tweets. It also automatically ads the hash tag to the end of your tweet so everyone at the party can see it.

Twitter parties are a fun way to share ideas and meet like minded people you wouldn’t normally know to follow on Twitter. I always find new and cool people to follow after a Twitter party, every once and a while I win a prize. A nice bonus indeed!

Are you going to be at the Twitter party? Are you going to enter the Imagination Unrolled contest? Let us know if you enter the contest so we can all vote for you! I’m not entering because I’m not eligible. Why?

I’m a White Cloud (Mom) Blogger

White Cloud asked me to join their White Cloud Blogger’s group. What does that mean exactly? Well, first off I will be promoting crafting with toilet paper and paper towel rolls, which is something I do anyway because:
  • It’s green
  • It’s clever
  • And it’s cheap :)
Apparently, I will eventually be asked to put my family’s hiney on the line with some blind tushie testing of recycled content White Cloud paper projects. This one should be interesting.  I just opened the last box of that sand paper like one ply recycled content TP I bought on Earth Day mega sale for my April One Small Change. It will be banned from our house forever once we’ve finished the box. We love it that much. Will the White Cloud Green Earth be any better or more of the same?

Why am I doing it? Well, because White Cloud is something that is available all over the place. I have family that live in itty bitty cities that don’t have access to all of the shopping places I do. I suspect that many of you live in areas like that too. I don’t think green living or products should only be for those of us who have deep pockets or live in large cities.

Most importantly, White Cloud agreed to play by my rules. I get to be me in all of my blunt and wacky self. I still get to say things like “I’m putting my hiney on the line for you and the environment” and “tushie” because you I’m still a professional jester at heart.

I also get to give you my absolute honest opinion about everything I do and my absolute honest opinion about their products. They are convinced I’m going to love their recycled content products. Husband and I are holding our collective breath, hanging onto our seats with a slightly skeptical “Prove it!” because we do not love the better for the environment but port potty like recycled content TP we are using now.

Who knows? I’ve been proven wrong about a product more than once (or like a zillion times.) It would be nice if this works out. We shall see…

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I am submitting this post to the following link parties.

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.

Friday, October 15, 2010

9 Green Big Lots Finds

Shopping thrift stores, consignment shops, eBay, etc. are all ways to shop green. However, sometimes when I’m looking for something specific, or I don’t see it in those stores, or I don’t have time to wait for it to show up in those places because I need/want it NOW, I buy it new.

This is probably doesn’t happen to you because you are all more awesome and more patient that I am.

Well, as I was looking, OK, obsessed, with finding silicone skull ice cube trays for Blitzkrieg I walked into a nearby Big/Odd Lots. Well, guess what? I hit the mother load of inexpensive green items! I had my camera with me and snuck a few photos of my finds for you.

Let’s take a look.

Glass bakeware. Some have lids!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Little Edie Grey Gardens Costume

 After I saw the Gray Gardens HBO movie, I knew I wanted to be Edith Bouvier Beale or “Little Edie” (she was named after her mother who everyone called “Big Edie”) for Halloween. This year husband and I are going to a Halloween party in the Short North, our arts district. If anyone should know who Little Edie was or about Grey Gardens, it would be this crowd.

Little Edith Bouvier Beale was known for wearing scarves to cover her alopecia. When their fortune ran out and Gray Gardens disintegrated into a filthy mess that violated every health and housing code on the books, she obviously did not have money to update her wardrobe. Instead, she wore what she had in odd combinations. Tablecloths became skirts, wildly patterned hose, sweaters became head coverings to create what she called “bohemian” or “revolutionary" costumes.

I took my cue from this clip of Little Edie describing her “best costume for the day” in the 1975 Grey Gardens documentary.

Drew Barrymore recreates this scene in the HBO Grey Gardens movie.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Fix a Running Toilet

The water in my toilet tank ran after each flush. I did a temporary leaking toilet fix by turning off the water to the toilet by turning the knob at the base of the toilet.

The toilet sat with the water turned off for at least 3 months.

The running toilet is in the guest bathroom so it wasn’t a hardship on the family. I just never got around to fixing my leaking toilet until I saw Fix a Leaking Faucet on Green U as part of Cisco’s One Million Acts of Green and Three to Green Contest. It was the kick in the seat I needed to fix that running toilet.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

I took the lid off the toilet tank and quickly saw what was causing my toilet to run. The flapper was all whopperjawed because I used to put those bowl cleaning tablets in the toilet tank in between bathroom cleanings. I don't use those tablets anymore.

1. Turn the water was turn off at the bottom of the toilet.

2. Flush the water out of the toilet tank.
Notice how the warped sides of the flapper do not seal properly. This causes the toilet to run.

3. Remove the damaged flapper.

4. Cut the replacement flapper valve to fit in the your type of flapper bracket.fitting according to the directions on the packaging or to the type of of my toilet flusher assembly thingy (are these terms getting too technical for you?)
    It is just me or does the new toilet flapper kinda look like a little spaceship?

    5. Slip the flapper into the flapper bracket.

    This bracket has two knobs that slits on the side of the flapper fit onto.

    6. Attach the flapper chain to the flusher arm.
      My chain has a clip on the end that attaches to flusher arm.
      7. Turn the water on to the toilet and let the tank fill up.
      8. Do a test flush. Make the flapper chain shorter or longer if needed.
      The new toilet flapper 
      9.You’re done!
        This $5.00 fix took about as much time to complete as an Ace of Cakes commercial break and saved me a $50 plumber fee. If I had let the toilet run, I could have wasted over 22,000 gallons of water in one year! Not bad for a quick five dollar fix.

        Best of all I was able to mark Fix a Leaking Faucet off my Green U list which was the third act of green I needed to receive one entry in Cisco’s Three to Green Contest. The winner gets a $5,000 shopping spree to Do you realized how many sets of bamboo sheets that will buy?!

        You can participate too. All you have to do is register for the contest on One Million Acts of Green  or by connect via Facebook and pledge and complete those acts of green.You get one entry in the contest for every three acts of green you complete until October 31, 2010.

        What little green tasks have you been putting off until tomorrow?

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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 D├ęcor and Green and Clean Mom.

        Friday, October 8, 2010

        Do You Strip Screws? Try an Impact Driver

        I am the undisputed Queen of Stripped Screws. I strip screws with a manual screwdriver because I don’t have a lot of strength in my hands. I bought Mommy’s Little Helper, my mega torque electric drill, hoping the extra torque would solve the problem.

        I still strip screws from time to time but now with turbo!

        After some research, I realized that electric drills commonly strip screws. What I should have been using all along is an impact driver. Unlike an electric drill, an impact driver is made to do one thing and it does it very well: drive screws and hex nuts. It is less likely to strip screws. I say less likely because if you are the Queen of Stripped Screws, you will find a way to strip one when normal people will not. I consider it my gift, my curse.

        What is an Impact Driver?

        Unlike an electric drill, an impact driver drives the screw by both rotating the drill bit and using concussive blows. Moreover, if you are the Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver you can do it tight little spaces.

         This is a right angle impact driver.  
        The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver to exact.

        I found it to be the perfect tool for installing the screws for my curved curtain bracket because my electric drill won’t reach. I’ve tried using a long manual screwdriver but it is impossible to keep on the screw head for more than a few turns at a time and I don’t have the strength in my hands to drive one of those screws into a wall stud.

        What the Craftsman Impact Driver Is Not

        The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is related to the Craftsman Hammerhead Auto Hammer I reviewed. Like the Auto Hammer there may be some confusion about what this powerful and lightweight little tool is designed to do.

        • Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is not an impact wrench (also known as an impactor, air wrench, air gun, rattle gun, or torque gun) which is commonly used in auto shops to loosen and tighten lug nuts as well as drive screws. Impact wrenches generally need to be connected to an air compressor to work. The Craftsman Right Angle Impact Driver does not. It runs off a 12 volt rechargeable battery.
        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is also not a hammer drill (also known as a rotary hammer, roto-hammer or impact drill.) Hammer drills are used to drive into material like stone or to break through concrete.
        Me using the mother of all hammer drills to break up concrete in my flower bed. 
        Generally, we refer to this size as a jackhammer. It was crazy fun to use!

        Craftsman Impact Driver Review


        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver will drive hex nuts as well as screws.
        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is the most powerful and lightest weight right angel impact driver when I compared it to the store display of a Hitchati and a Ridgid right angle impact driver. The Craftsman and the Hitchati were approximately the same weight. However, this short woman appreciates that the Craftsman impact driver isn’t as monster heavy as the Ridgid. The Ridgid is the heaviest of the three.
        • The Craftsman is also the most powerful of the three right right angle impact drivers. The Craftsman has 700 pounds of torque, followed by the both the Hitachi and the Ridgid which both have 650 pounds of torque.
        • The NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver is great for tight spaces. I can see using it for future bicycle maintenance especially.


        • The Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver came with several size heads for hex nuts but only one screwdriver bit, which is what I’d use it for the most. Regular Craftsman screwdriver heads should not be used in the Impact driver because they aren’t made to withstand the concussive force of an impact driver. However, Craftsman told me they will have sets of impact driver screw heads for sale in November. But for the $99.99 price tag, I think they should be included.
        • It comes with only one rechargeable battery. The battery charges quickly and holds its charge for longer than my initial test period. You can buy extra batteries from Craftsman.

        Would I Buy a Craftsman Impact Driver?

        I’m not afraid to give a tool or anything I review for that matter a thumbs down if it doesn’t work for me. I wondered if the Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver would just be a nifty toy to have instead of something I would use for jobs other than curtain rod brackets since I already have an electric screwdriver, which kinda stinks so I don’t use it. 

        Given that the Craftsman Impact Driver is designed so stripping screws is less likely than an electric drill, that it is also less likely the slip off the screwhead and make accidentally countersinking your thumb less likely (trust me that’s a good thing.) I’d buy the Craftsman NEXTEC EXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver for the handywoman who doesn't have the strength in her hands (or desire) to drive screws with a manual screwdriver, the older handyman who's losing strength in his hands, or anyone who wants to drive screws the easy way.

        Disclosure: Craftsman supplied me with NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver to facilitate this review. I went to a home improvement store on my own to compare it to other tools. All opinions are my own and longtime readers know I am very opinionated.

        Wednesday, October 6, 2010

        One Small Green Change: Silicone Ice Cube Trays

        This month’s One Small Green Change is to switch from plastic ice cube trays to silicone ice cube trays.

        Silicone is synthetic but it is considered safe because it does not contain BPA or phthalates. While the cold in my freezer makes the transfer of possible (and probable) BPA in my old plastic ice cube trays very low the silicone ice cube trays make it zero.

        After seeing Dollar Store Crafts posted some killer silicone ice cube trays to use as sugar molds; I figured it was high time I made the switch to something I knew that was safer. I stalked my Dollar Tree for three weeks to get Blitzkrieg silicone skull ice cube trays because when you have a one eyed pirate dog like Blitzkrieg every day is Talk Like a Pirate Day! (It’s more of a lifestyle choice for us, really.)

        Sunday, October 3, 2010

        10 Halloween Costumes for Dogs Who Hate Costumes

        I love dressing up for Halloween. Now that I have a dog I want him to love dressing up for Halloween too.

        But he doesn’t.

        You wear a double coat of fur all the time. You won’t want to
        put on extra clothes, either.

        We like to go to dog charity events to support the rescue organizations that have helped us rehabilitate Blitzkrieg and tell his story. Some of these events are Halloween events.

        Blitzkrieg quickly learned the cuter the costume, the more treats humans give you. Blitzkrieg learned to tolerate several types of sorta dog costumes in order to swindle as many treats as possible celebrate Halloween.