Condo Blues: Worlds Most Fabulous Aunt

Showing posts with label Worlds Most Fabulous Aunt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worlds Most Fabulous Aunt. Show all posts

Thursday, July 16, 2009

6 Bottled Water Alternatives

Bottled water is a greenies worst nightmare. The plastic bottles take a lot of energy and resources to make and the bottles aren't always recycled. Especially in areas that don’t have municipal recycling programs.

That goes double for soda, which can contain artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.

If you buy water that’s packaged in an aluminum can or glass bottle or are diligent about recycling or find a creative reuse for that plastic bottle you’re good, right? Well, maybe not because the problems don’t stop with the packaging.

A recent government report found that the Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) rules for bottled water are less strict than the Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) strict rules for municipal water (tap water.) Bottle water companies aren’t required to disclose to the public what is in the water they are selling or where they get it, which more often than not is the bottling plant's local tap water. That gives me cause for concern.

Fortunately there are alternatives to bottled water (or should I call it much more expensive tap water?) These methods will save you money too.

1. Water glass – This one’s simple and cheap, yet, nobody mentions it as an option. Grab a glass from the cupboard and fill it up with water. I often bring a glass from home for the office and use that to drink water at my desk. When the glass gets dirty, I wash it out in the sink at work or at home.

2. Pitcher of refrigerator water – Prefer your water ice cold? I do. I fill up a container with tap water and put it in the refrigerator. Here’s an example of the containers I use.


A #5 Rubbermaid drink container (plastic number #2 and #5 are the safer plastics that don’t leach into your food), a glass Williams Sonoma pitcher, and a Brita water pitcher (which I use without the filter because I got lazy about changing it.)

3. Filter it yourself – I’ll admit that there are places where city water may be tested and deemed safe to drink but tastes a little odd, has scale, or gives you uh, gastric distress (hi well water my tummy’s talking to you.) If thats the case, filter it yourself. On the lower end of the coast scale (or if you rent) there are pitchers and water bottles with built in water filters (like my Brita pitcher.) At the upper end of the cost scale is installing a whole house water purification system. Personally my city water tastes fine without filtering, (as always, your mileage may vary) so I don’t have much personal experience with choosing which water filter works best for which situation, but this water filter comparison chart is a pretty good place to start.

4. Reusable water bottles – I’ll admit that bottled water is convenient. Especially when I’m out and about or have a couple of thirsty kids around who tend to knock over or drop glasses full water. When I have kid visitors I fill up a bunch of water bottles and put them in the refrigerator. Then the kiddoes can easily grab a cold one when they want it. I’m getting better about bringing my own water bottle to outdoor events thanks to the economy. I find that if I don’t have to buy a beverage; I have a few extra dollars in my pocket to squander on the BIG funnel cake! As you can see in the photo, we have quite a collection of water bottles – even Blitzkrieg has his own water bottle with a dog dish attached!


Like most things Condo, some of our bottles are a little pricey like the BPA-free KOR one (I reviewed the KOR one here ) and stainless steel Earthlust bottle (I reviewed Earthlust here.) Some are not, like the white freebie #2 plastic water bottle Husband got in a race pack. We keep it because it’s #2 plastic and it’s much more practical to use in the water bottle carrier on our bikes.

Don’t think that all swanky stainless steel/BPA-free reusable water bottles are out of your price range. Market demand means the prices are coming down. I recently saw stainless steel reusable water bottle for sale at CVS for $3.99.

5. Big water jug/cooler for groups – When Husband and I are picnicking, traveling, or with a group we use this large water jug made of #5 plastic.


This works well for our family of 3. Bigger families may want to consider the large drink coolers with the spout on the bottom. There are glass and metal options available if you look around a bit. Sure, the large coolers aren’t cheap (OK, mine was fairly cheap. It was an Big Lots special because Rubbermaid discontinued it) but once you make the one time purchase, it will pay for itself in the amount of money you save because you don’t have to keep buying expensive bottled drinks for events.

6. Make your own sparkling water - Husband likes fizzy water. It’s one of the main ingredients of his homemade Orangina. We’ve given it up because of the bottle waste (sad, I know.) Apparently there are ways that you can make your own carbonated water from tap water with gadgets like the Soda Stream system. I haven’t personally tried one, but it interests me and it’s something that’s on my To Investigate Further list. The Soda Stream might solve our fizzy bottled water problem. It might also help us to reduce soda bottle waste and cost when we have guests because it allows you to make your soda too. If anyone’s tried one please me know your thoughts!

I’d be a total hypocrite if I said that I never drink bottled water because, on occasion, I have. On those rare occasions when I can’t bring or refill my own reusable water bottle from home and don’t want to drink soda (pretty much annually after doing Race for the Cure.) That makes the fact that the FDA doesn't require full disclosure of bottled water even more disturbing. However, by using the 6 methods above I’m able to make plastic bottle drinks a rare occasion.

However, I’m also proud to say, that 99% of the time, I’m a tap water gal. What about you?

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Friday, May 15, 2009

What are Your Favorite Power Tools for Women?

I like to do DIY jobs. I hate nagging Husband to do my projects – I think that’s mean (no nagging also helps preserve marital harmony.) I don’t believe in a Honey Do List. In my world it’s a Do It Yourself Honey! List.

One of my long term goals is to set up a little workshop in my garage. Operative word Lisa’s Workshop. Where I have a space to fix things or more accurately, an out of the way place to stick stuff that I need to fix or want to build until I find the time to get around to it. Just like my father and his father before me.

I’m in the market for tools. Unfortunately most tools made for women or a woman’s workshop are along these lines.


The biggest problem I find with power tools that are designed for women is that that just plain suck.

Why is it that most tool companies think that all women want are tiny tools in pretty colors? Sure, those cutesy tools may sell but what the tool companies don’t realize is that when those itty bitty cheap pink tools eventually break, and they will, the woman is going to march into the store and replace them with a real grown up version of the tool in question – the type of tool the industry typically thinks of as a “guy” tool like this.


This isn’t a super duper powerful hammer drill that will drill through concrete (unless that’s your need - then have a ball), but it’s more than adequate for the typical handy guy or handy gal who needs a good screw gun or to build something simple like a toy box for their kid. Think a mom (or awesome Aunt) could use that lavender “woman’s drill” to build a simple wooden toy box or turn a trash can into a compost bin? Me neither.

I wish tool companies had opportunities for women DIYers and bloggers to be consultants just like household and appliance companies do because I’d love to test and try out tools and tell them (and you my fabulous readers men and women alike) what really works and what doesn’t. *sigh* but a girl can dream…

Since that’s not reality, I’m going to spill my guts here. Hey tool companies listen up!

Here’s What Real Women Want in Power Tools:

Quality – I want a tool that will last. More often than not the cheaply made, lightweight women’s tools break too easily during routine tasks. That’s dangerous. I snapped the head off of a diminutive “girl” claw hammer when I tried to use the claw end to remove a nail from a wall and rehang a picture - a simple and straightforward task. The force of the hammerhead breaking knocked me on my butt. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t on a stepstool at the time because I could have been injured. I grabbed a grown up “boy” hammer from the toolbox and I was able to remove the nail without breaking the claw or snapping the head off of the hammer.

Weight – I’m 4’11 and I’d like to use a tool that’s physically light enough for me to handle without forsaking the power needed to do the job. Sure I’ll suck it up and heft a heavy tool if the jobs requires. I’ve done it. But if you can design a tool that allows me to work just as effectively as or more so than my current heavy tools not only will I buy it but I’ll shout about it from rooftops! I’ll also buy one for every guy I know.

Scale and Grip - Not every DIYer is a big burly dude with massive man hands. Husband is a lean long distance runner and is also on the short side. A tool that’s scaled for to a shorter person will work for both of us as long as you don’t skimp on the quality. Something that allows me to set the grip of the tool for my small hands but would also allow me to switch the grip so that a person like my Dad with his bigger guy hands could also use the same tool when we work on a project together would be awesome.

Better Ergonomics – This is what I think of when I say “tools made for women.” Tool companies I know you put a lot of research and development dollars into studying the body mechanics and how to redesign tools so that customers can use more efficiently. A good example of this are the hammers with the slightly curvy handle that allow you to drive a nail into a board better but without needing an extra “oomph” of power to drive a nail into a board. Typically those studies are being conducted and the resulting products are being aimed at older male DIYers who have more time to DIY during their retirement years but may not have the same physical strength as they once had during their younger years. Tool companies – these studies also apply to women! If you market to us we will buy these products! Or maybe the men in our lives will buy them for us (hint, hint.)

Color –In all honesty, if I see a pink tool for sale, I’m not going to buy it. Experience has taught me that pink tools are crap. Sorry toolmakers but you taught me that all you care about is making a woman’s tool pink and pretty not about quality or performance. By the way, my Husband and I share tools just like we share kitchen appliances. We have one refrigerator not a pink one for me and a blue one for him. That means I could care even less about tool color.

Tool companies, this is something the guys won’t tell you – as a women I get an extra boost of confidence and self-esteem when I complete even a minor job with a tool that looks like the real deal and not like I need to store it in Barbie’s dream house after I’m done using it. If you can design a tool that meets my performance needs, makes me feel confident when using it, and might even make the men in my life a bit little jealous because it looks like a kick ass tool that they’d want to own - mission accomplished – you’d have yourself a customer for life.

Real World Example: Tool Purchase Based on a Woman’s Needs

Recently, Husband and I needed to buy a mini sledge hammer to break up some concrete in our front flower beds. Here’s how our purchase stacked up to the needs and wants I have on my tool wish list.

Quality: We made our purchase at a home improvement store not a cheap closeout or discount store.

Weight: A four pound mini sledge (a little bigger than a traditional hammer) would do the job quite nicely. Husband could use the four pounder but it was a little too heavy for me. I could only comfortably use the two pound mini sledges on display.

Scale and Grip: We wanted a tool that both of us could use because chances were that we’d be switching on and off until the job was complete.

Ergonomics: We ended up buying a much more expensive three pound mini sledge hammer because the handle and grip were designed so that it was physically lighter to swing (so a small person like me could use it) but delivered the “whoomp!” of a 4-5 pound mini sledge hammer (something that a bigger person like Husband could use.)

Color: By the way the hammer was blue. Who cares? The tool worked and now it’s the color of the dirt in my yard.

That’s my wish list for women’s power tools. What are yours? What do you think about pink power tools? Love 'em? Hate 'em? What power tools would you recommend for women?

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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

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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Seadog Cemetery Decor

One of the great things about buying our Condo is that Husband and I finally have a porch and yard of our very own to decorate for the holidays. The first year we decided to decorate for Halloween, we opened a bottle of wine and after a glass or so, decided “Hey - let’s put out the Halloween decorations!” This is what we came up with. A Seadog Cemetery. Granted it's a small cemetary. We confined it to our flower beds so we wouldn't have to deal with the HOA's lawn service mowing over our holiday decorations.

This is Captain Twiggy. He’s the guy that started it all. For about 8 years, Captain Twiggy was our lone Halloween decoration because Husband and I were performing at the Ohio Renaissance Festival every weekend in October and honestly between the weekend acting job and our weekday professional jobs, a pirate skeleton on the door was about as much holiday d├ęcor that we could handle at the time. Now Captain Twiggy hangs out in our sea dog cemetery drinking his favorite brew – Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hippies, Festivals, and Dogs, Oh My!

The last weekend I went to Comfest, a huge three-day local music, art, and food blowout. A lot of people refer to Comfest as a big hippie festival because for three days Goodale Park looks a little like Height Ashbury in the 60’s with lots of people hanging out and listening to the bands, getting carpel tunnel from signing political petitions, and smelling patchouli in the air. At least I hope that was patchouli I smelled…

Oh and there’s tie-dye. Lots of people wear tie dye. And dogs. People like to bring dogs to Comfest. Sometimes the dogs wear tie dye too.
Not my dog. Blitzkrieg wisely opted to stay home and wear the air conditioner during warm Comfest weekend.