Condo Blues

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Do You Do with St Patrick’s Day Plastic Beads?

For St. Patrick’s Day Husband surprised me with a six pack of a traditional Irish drink – Guinness. Husband knows I like a beer that drinks like a meal.


There was a little green doodad in the six pack carton. It was a green Mardi Gras bead necklace Guinness put in as a St. Patrick’s Day gift with purchase.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

His and His Embroidered Towels

One of our best couple friends bought a house. We have so much in common, love of good food, wine, travel, and Blitzkrieg. In fact, The Boys often invite Blitzkrieg over to their house for dinner. Sometimes they let Husband and I drive Blitzkrieg over to their house, because they are kind.

I wanted to give them something uniquely us as a housewarming gift

Think, think, thinkity, think.

I got it!

I purchased a set of plushy towels, grabbed a needle and embroidery floss and went to work.


I made them His and His towels!

They were the hit of the party.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

A New Way to Save on Name Brand Green Cleaners

How do you get around the budget vs. green clash?

One way is to use what I call the Sliding Budget. I buy an inexpensive green cleaner that I can use for a lot of cleaning chores like vinegar and put the difference towards buying another green cleaner that I can’t make, doesn’t go on sale, or offers a coupon.


However, it would be nice to use a coupon or discount on those green products I like when I like. Seventh Generation is good about having printable coupons on their website. Sometimes Method does too but I’m not very good about remembering to look for printable coupons before I shop for cleaners, my bad.

I found another way to save on name brand cleaners that works for me. One day husband and I were in Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy a steam floor cleaner. I dutifully grabbed a couple of the BB and B coupons I got in the mail to use for the purchase. I love their couponing frequency because Bed, Bath, and Beyond  sends out $5 and 20% off coupons so often it’s like feeding stray cats.

We get to the store and see that the steam cleaner I picked out on line wasn’t available in the store. We decide to browse around for the sake of browsing around. I notice that Bed,  Bath, and Beyond sells laundry detergent, and other household cleaners. We were almost out of the Vaska liquid nonchlorine bleach I ordered from Alice and I took a look to see what BB and B had.

Well lookie here! My Bed,Bath, and Beyond carries products from Method, Seventh Generation, and Mrs. Meyers among others. I only thought the big BB andB store in New York did that. Granted my store’s selection is much smaller, but there were green products sharing the same shelf space as the conventional cleaning products but I bypassed a thousand times before.

Duh moment.

I like and use products from Method and Seventh Generation. I’ve heard good things about Mrs. Meyers but when I compare the price to the other green cleaners on the store shelf, my internal Cheapo Meter goes off, and I end up buying a less expensive green cleaner or detergent, which more often than not isn’t all that less expensive.

In this case, I grabbed a bottle of Seventh Generation liquid nonchlorine bleach. I like how the liquid nonchlorine bleach works just as well with my homemade HE laundry detergent  as powdered oxygen bleach. However, the liquid gives me the option of using liquid HE laundry detergent in my machine if I want because I have to put the detergent and bleach in the same dispensing compartment.

Now I use that endless stream of Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons to buy my green cleaning products. A small bottle of a green cleaning product that normally sells for $14.99 isn’t so much of a financial hit when I buy it with a $5.00 or 20% off coupon. Plus I can be as brand loyal or try out something new or discounted was much as I want.

Do you have any tips on how to buy the green products you love and save money doing it? Share you secrets!

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FTC pain in the rear disclosure notice: The companies in this post didn’t pay me to blog about them. However, they did cheerfully accept my money when I wanted to shop in at store or buy their products because they are businesses that like to sell things to the public.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are Low VOC Paints Long Lasting?

My builder used the cheapest paint possible to paint the interior of my house. Based on the touch up paint they left for us, they most likely watered it down too. Whenever I try to clean a mark from the wall with nothing put a damp sponge paint and sometimes drywall end up on my sponge.


Not all of my touch up paint is thin and runny. Some of it is so thick it looks like cottage cheese and broke the stir stick.

I have several rooms that desperately need priming and painting.

Now that low and no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints are more readily available I did some research.

“VOCs are solvents that get released into the air as the paint dries. (Other products emit solvents, including adhesives, cleaning supplies, and even some home furnishings.) VOCs can cause acute symptoms, including headaches and dizziness. The long-term effects are less certain, but according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some VOCs are suspected carcinogens.”
In my experience, VOCs are also what make things like paint or wood glue stink.


Since I get migraine headaches from time to time, using a low VOC paint may be in my best interest.

Several years ago I read an article in the New York Times Home and Garden section that reports that while most paint and home design professionals like that manufacturers are developing low VOC paints, in their experience, a low VOC paint job doesn’t last as long and their clients often demand a new paint job within a year or two because of signs of wear and tear.

Have you used low VOC paint? Is this true?

While I’m willing to invest more money in a quality paint that may not harm my friends and family who visit, I really don’t want to be in the same situation I’m currently in after spending up to $45 a gallon for low VOC paint to repaint my guest room, living room, kitchen, and hallway a year or two later.

If low VOC paint doesn’t live up to normal wear and tear, it doesn’t seem sustainable to me. I’d consider it expensive and wasteful since I’d have to buy new paint and supplies every couple of years.

Not to mention I don’t like to paint. Yes, I know it's the easiest and cheapest way to transform a room but that doesn't make the task any more likable. I’d like to do this job once and keep that way for several years to come. And by several, I mean more than two.

However, this article was written two years ago. With time comes change in techniques and technology. There are many more brands and types of low VOC paint to choose from now than when this article was written. Lack of durability might be a moot point by now.

Do you know? Have you ever used low VOC paint? Did you like it? More importantly, did your paint job last?

And if you are happy with the performance of low VOC paint, what brand was it?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Five Unusual Ways to Keep Warm in a Cold House

Welcome Weather Channel viewers! This morning I did another 58 Degree Challenge interview on The Weather Channel. I talked about how my family stays toasty warm in snowy Ohio with our daytime thermostat set at 58 degrees (F). Here are five ways we stay warm in a cold house.

1. Dress in layers. Sweaters are good but fleece layered over another long sleeved shirt is my favorite. I must have ice water running through my veins because I get cold more easily than Husband. I sometimes wear long underwear under my clothes too. Not only at home but sometimes in cold office buildings. Because like I said before, I get cold easily.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Frame a Tin Ceiling Tile the Easy Way

I framed two tin ceiling tiles from the 200 year old church where Husband and I were married. I gave them to Husband as a token of my love.

The frame ceiling tiles hang above the banister in our living room

The tiles were removed to repair a leak in the ceiling in the church parlor. Do you believe that a man on the repair crew wanted to throw these gems away?! Fortunately there was an antiquer among the volunteers working on the project who knew how valuable these sweet babies are and convinced them to not to toss them aside – whew!

I’ll take two please. Thank you.

I cleaned the tiles with a mild soap and water solution and removed the chips of paint before it had a chance to flake all over the carpet. I didn’t want to take any chances of Blitzkrieg sniffing out and possibly eating paint flakes. Bad, bad, bad.

Building the frame was simple. I went to an art supply store and bought canvas stretcher bars in the dimensions of the tin tiles. I assembled the frame, glued it together with wood glue instead of the stapling it together as you would if you stretched canvas over the bars in order to paint a picture. I filled the corner channels with wood filler for an even finish.

Once it was dry, I painted the frames red to play off of the red and white curtains that hang in the living room and in front of the kitchen patio door.

Some people buy t-shirts as souvenirs when they go on vacation. Husband and I buy curtains at Ikea.

I bent the rough edges of the tiles back on themselves with a pair of needle nose pliers. I drilled pilot holes in the tiles and screwed them to the wooden frame with leftover screws from my toolbox.


I screwed in two large eyes into the top of each frame so I could hang the tiles back to back in from hooks I screwed into a ceiling joist.

A discreet loop of wire keeps the tiles standing back to back standing at attention over the stairwell banister.


Husband loved his gift! It has extra special meaning because his parents were married in the same church. Awwww….

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