Me going green … and dragging my family with me, kicking and screaming!

Baby steps toward self sufficience and greenocity

If I can give one piece of advice on home buying … February 20, 2009

Filed under: 1 — razberiswrl @ 10:46 am
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City water and sewer people … don’t screw around with septic and wells if you can help it. TRUST ME. I don’t know the environmental impact of either, nor if one is better than the other for it. You know what?? I. DON’T. CARE.

CITY WATER AND SEWER IS THE WAY TO GO.

Take it from me.

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Whoa, compost? February 17, 2009

Filed under: gardening,green living,recycling — razberiswrl @ 10:58 pm

So, I posted the pics of my DIY bin the other day, right?  Well, as I was snipping asparagus and peeling cucumber this afternoon, I thought to myself  “Self?  It’s not too terribly cold today.  I should go check out that garbage and maybe add these scraps to it.  Yeah.  I think I’ll do that.”

And I did.

To refresh your memory, here’s what it looked like when I first started:

Here’s what I found (and keep in mind that I broke my damn camera screen while snow tubing the other day, so my pics are crappy caz I can’t see them till I download them.  UGH!):

It’s REALLY dark, and really wet/muddy looking, and a little bit stinky.  The wet part may come from water getting trapped in the can.  I realized recently that I probably should have put a couple drainage holes in the bottom … I’ll make A take care of that this weekend maybe.   The stinky part kind of smells like coffee, and I DID start the bin with between 5 and 10 lbs of coffee grounds that Starbucks gave me for free (psst:  Just go into any Starbucks and ask if they have used grounds, they will give them to you for your garden or whatever.  Pretty frikkin sweet, eh?), so, I guess that’s it.  And the fact that it’s pretty wet … probably pretty yucky.  Oh, and the egg shells don’t look to have broken down at all, they are the couple of really light brown spots on the right side of the bin.

So, I added some more lawn debris and the veggie scraps from my lunch, kicked it over for a little spin, and will keep adding to it until spring time.  We’ll see what happens!  I’m not sure I actually want to touch this stuff in the end though … ick.  Am I supposed to mix some dirt in too??

 

Form and function: Magazine holders made from cereal boxes February 15, 2009

Filed under: frugal living,green living,recycling — razberiswrl @ 3:10 pm
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I have a bit of a habit … it’s called Bon Appetit magazine.  I have every issue from the last 3 years (which is when I first subscribed).  Storage was becoming a problem though, and I consulted my friend, the organization WIZARD, to help me find a solution (you can find her under my blog roll: Modern-Simplicity).  She linked me to an article on about.com or somewhere like that to make magazine holders out of cereal boxes and construction paper or gift wrap.  I took it a step further and used scrap booking paper.

Materials:

empty cereal boxes

scissors

good glue that will bond paper to cardboard (I have some Aileen’s spray glue)

scrap booking paper, standard weight, not the thick stuff  (2 sheets per box, I used 12×12 size, I don’t think 8×10 would be big enough)

newspapers to protect your workspace (the spray glue goes EVERYWHERE)

So, just cut the top of the cereal box off to resemble commercial holders (sides slanted toward the front), then glue the  paper to the box, lining the edge of the paper up with the bottom edge of the box  (I do the front first, then the back that way the overlapped edge of the paper doesn’t catch when sliding the holder back into place), trim to leave about 1 inch at the top.  Cut notches in the overhanging paper at the corners so that paper can be folded over to make a smooth seam at the top of the box.  And that’s it!  Hmm.  I should take pictures of the steps the next time I make one … these instructions sound really confusing even though it’s totally not.  They seriously take under 5 minutes each from start to finish.

Finished product:

Beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and you can see that I’m no perfectionist (but I DO want to redo that ONE, lol), so be as precise or as ‘eh, it’s good enough’ as you want.  Either way, your magazines will look so much nicer on your shelf, and easier to organize to boot!  AND, these are so easy to make that it’s no problem to whip another one up when you need it.  If you find yourself enamored with a particular paper design, it may be a good idea stock up in case the pattern is discontinued by the time you want to make your next holder.

The real beauty in this DIY project is that the savings are TREMENDOUS!  I don’t know if you’ve ever priced these things, but they run from about $5 and up at retail establishments.  The cost of this project is quite minimal.  If you do not already have the glue, that’s the greatest cost.  However, once you have it, it will last for many holders and can be used for lots of other projects too.  A little tip for buying the glue is to get the Michael’s, AC Moore or Joanne’s ad from the Sunday paper.  Typically there is a 40% off one regular priced item, and at least at Michael’s, the glue is rarely on sale, so a 4.99 item (about what the glue costs) becomes 2.99.  SCORE!  Also, scrapbooking paper frequently goes on sale at the same stores for 4 for $1.  So, the bottom line is that if you have the glue, this project can cost as little as 50 cents!  Even if you don’t have the glue already, the total project price is far cheaper than retail.  It’s a win-win really.

 

The best of both worlds February 10, 2009

Filed under: cleaning,cooking,frugal living,green living,laundry — razberiswrl @ 2:06 pm
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Do something a little more earth friendly, AND save some cash!  WOW!  I feel like Hannah Montana!!

I’m a shameless bargain hunter.  When I go to a store, the first thing I do is surf the clearance sections to see if there are any really great prices on things I probably don’t need and didn’t know I wanted until I saw them … but I digress.

Kohl’s has cloth napkins on clearance right now.  Fiesta brand are $1.59 for a 2pk.  CHEAP.  Cute too, and I’m hoping high quality based on the brand name … My store had peacock blue, yellow, red and multicolor.  They has some other styles too, but they were polyester blends or more expensive or whatever, so, the Fiesta were the best deal.  Target has some on clearance too, but I didn’t concentrate on them too much.  I DID score some new kitchen towels for $1.99 for a 2pk there though.  Cute prints, and you can never have too many.  If you have a nice stock of linens, you’re less likely to turn to paper towels to clean spills or dry freshly washed hands.  You know, I was reflecting the other day on how I used to use paper products.  I would use a couple paper towels EVERY TIME I washed my hands!  We went through a roll a week!  Now, a roll can last several weeks.

I wish I could make toilet paper last that long, but you know what??  I’m not even GOING there …  😉

 

I promised pics of my homemade composter nearly a year ago … February 9, 2009

Filed under: frugal living,gardening,green living,recycling — razberiswrl @ 12:13 pm
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I’m SO embarrassed.  Here you go:

Materials:

outdoor trashcan w/lid (under 10 bucks)

small bungee cords, 3 or 4 (2 or 3 bucks)

drill with that attachment thingy that boors holes (about 1 inch)

food scraps, leaves, etc

Just drill some holes in the trashcan sides and make sure 3 or 4 holes line up on the can and lid so you can thread the bungee cords through to keep the lid on nice and tight.  To use, just throw kitchen and yard scraps in, make sure the lid is on good and tight, then just kick that bad bear over and roll it around on the ground!  How easy is that??  You don’t have to touch a thing!!!

Just kick it over and roll baby roll!

Not too much comes out of the holes … just a few coffee grinds:

All full of pretty garbage!

I wonder what it all looks like now …  I haven’t tended it since late summer.  It’s too cold now to look though.   Stay tuned.

 

To dry, or not to dry … THAT is the question.

Filed under: energy conservation,frugal living — razberiswrl @ 11:07 am
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Well, not really.  The question is not whether or not to get a new dryer, it’s actually “OMG, WHICH ONE?!?!”

I’m one of those people who has trouble with choices.  There are so many!  It’s so overwhelming.  And I have lots of things to consider … I want whichever one I choose to be both economical and relatively earth friendly.  Since our dryer hook-up is gas, I don’t think there are any energystar type designations.  That makes it difficult to know if one uses less gas than the other or whatever.  I have NO idea.  And there isn’t really much information on the web … at least none that I’ve seen that specifically says “It’s ok … as far as natural gas consumption, they’re all about the same.”  And that’s what I need.

Anyway, my other instinct is price.  I’m CHEAP.  Well, by necessity, not by choice I guess.  I’d love that set that turns Kelly Ripa into a genie on that commercial, Electrolux I think?  But alas, mere paupers cannot have such luxuries.  😦  (and here is the world’s smallest violin … playing a sad, sad song *just* for me!  YAY!)  So I need to stay under $500.

And then, there are the needs.  It NEEDS to have 4 temp settings; high, med, low, and air fluff.  I guess that’s pretty much it … LOL.

I think I’m just going to tell A to go and pick one this weekend.  That way, if I don’t like it, I can just blame him.  ;D

 

OOOH!!! I thought of one! February 8, 2009

Filed under: 1 — razberiswrl @ 11:56 pm
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So, I was having trouble remembering to take the damn recyclables a) out to the bigger can outside and b) getting that can out to the curb every Thursday, so we were just tossing all the plastic, glass and aluminum more often than not. Not good, especially in a city that provides pick up. Then the boys (they are 8 and 7, but will very soon be 9 and 8 ) started whispering about allowances and saving money for particular video games and whatnot. Sometimes my brilliance amazes me. *THEY* are now responsible for not only the recyclables, but ALL trash! WOOT!! They have to do some other things too, but for $6 a week (3 each), I think that’s a STEAL! Especially since it keeps me from having to nag A about it … and even more so because no matter how I nag, he still never does anything …

Kid power. It RAWKS.