Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tips to go "green"

A few weeks ago, while we were in Florida, I was standing in line in a coffee shop when I overheard the people behind me discussing the "green" movement.  They seemed interesting in being "green" but complained that it was only for those with "lots of money and too much time".  I resisted the urge to jump in and tell them that was not true at all since I was eavesdropping on their conversation but it has stuck with me since then.  Being "green" and eco-conscience can actually be very easy and save you lots of money!  Yes, there are some things that do take a lot more time to make them environmentally friendly and there are definitely many ways to spend lots (and lots and lots) of money purchasing "green" products but there are a whole host of ways to be conscience of our environment that will help you out in the long run. 

Here is my list of some of the easiest ways to go "green" that will also save you money!

1. Turn out lights and turn off appliances when not in use.  Using less power is good for the environment and it'll make your power bill go down. 
2. Use less water.  Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they have full loads in them, turn off the water while you brush your teeth, and shorten your shower by 2-3 minutes.  Using less water is better for the environment and will save you money on your water bill.
3. Wash your hair less often.  Sounds weird but it's good for the environment and for the health of your hair!  Washing your hair every day actually causes your scalp to produce more oil since your hair ends up being too dry from such frequent washing.  So, washing less often (I do it every other day) will be better for the health of your hair, allow you to spend less on shampoo, and be good for the environment since fewer shampoo bottles will be thrown away and less soap residue will be washed down the drain.
4. Switch to bar soap.  Bar soap (in most cases) is cheaper than the liquid hand soaps and liquid body soaps that most people use and (again, in most cases) have fewer ingredients that are harmful and potentially toxic for you and the environment.  Personally, I really like Burt's Bee's and Dr. Bronner's bar soaps (both of which are also very "green" products and contain organic ingredients, no phthalates, and no petro-chemicals) and they are easily available at Target.
5. Drive less often.  This one is the hardest for most people since we really live our lives around our cars in this country.  Driving less will save you money on gas and less gas used is definitely better for the planet.  Try to carpool whenever you can and plan your errands so that you can stop once and walk to your various stops (I use the dry cleaner that is a block from the grocery store since I can walk to it when I am already stopping at the grocery store).
6. Use fewer pre-packaged foods.  Most pre-packaged foods are more expensive than buying the individual ingredients and making something for yourself.  Saving money is always good but it's also healthier for you since you can use less salt and sugar in your recipes.  And, it's "green" since you throw away less packaging. 
7. Wash your clothes in cold water.  Most of the energy used by your washing machine is used to heat up the water to clean your clothing.  But, hot water isn't necessary for clean clothing - cold water will do just as good a job since today's washing machines are designed to be very efficient at cleaning our clothes.  Again, less power used means a lower power bill.
8. Skip the bottled water!  Not only is bottled water expensive but it's usually from a tap.  Save yourself a lot of money and get a reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water at home.
9.  Recycle!  Recycling maybe won't save you money but it's great for the environment and super easy to do!
10. Get a library card!  Public libraries are free (unless of course you don't return your books and end up with overdue fines)!  Why purchase a book when you can get it for free at the local library!
11. Use baking soda instead of scrubbing powder as a cleaner in your house.  Baking soda is super cheap, super environmentally friendly, and works just as well as all the expensive scrubbing powders.  What do you think they used before we had so many choices for cleaning products?
12. Change the settings on your thermostat to 1-2 degrees lower in the winter and 1-2 degrees higher in the summer.  This 1-2 degree difference isn't really enough that you would notice it but it lowers your daily power (or gas) usage which means you save money on your monthly bill!

It's a short list and I do have many other tips if you are interested but this is enough to get most people started on the "green" movement and help them save some money in the process.  Good luck!  =)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stars

Things have been a bit miserable around here over the past two weeks and so little has been done in the sewing world for me.  We have been pretty sick with a head cold and have pretty much spent the last two weeks laying around and not doing very much at all other than watching lots of Christmas movies and about 500 episodes of Blue's Clues (Dominic is in love with it!).  It's hard enough to have a sick toddler on your hands but adding a sick husband and being sick yourself and everything falls apart.  We are all on the mend now and are just experiencing the normal residual runny nose that always seems to follow a head cold and I'm just starting to catch up on housework and laundry.  =)  Christmas was very relaxing with just the three of us at home with the cats which helped a lot in our recuperation.  :-)

My epp stars has grown a bit but not by much.  Here is what I was able to accomplish on our trip to Florida at the beginning of the month.



I have a huge pile of finished stars to add to it that I'll be starting on this afternoon.  =)  I'm having some issues with the bulk at the center of the stars - do any of you out there trim them up?  Or is it better to leave it be and smooth it out with an iron after I take out the templates?  It seems like this might be an issue once I do the actual quilting on the finished top.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice

Tomorrow, December 21st, is the Winter Solstice.  Normally, I'd post a happy Solstice message on the day of but I'm doing it a day early this year since we are in for a special treat - a total eclipse that is fully visible from all of the USA.  I'm very excited - it's been a while since I've been in the right location for a full eclipse (sometime in middle or elementary school).  It starts here on the Pacific coast around 10:30pm and continues to 2am (Monday evening to Tuesday morning) with the fullest eclipse view at 12:17am.  I'll be up celebrating our Solstice by watching this special event - for those of you across the USA you can visit this site to see what time it will be visible in your time zone.  That same site, Shadow and Substance, also has a great animation of the event so you know what to expect if you've never seen an eclipse before.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas is a week away

Christmas is in one week - how did that happen?  It seems like time is getting away from me faster and faster of late.  I think it must be that it's a time of year with so many things going on that I lose track of the days and what's coming up.  One of those things this year was my blog - I had so many posts that I had planned since I've been doing some neat craft and sewing things but the time write them out was lost along the way somewhere.  The other issue is that I am lacking good pictures.  My camera has finally died and it only works once in a while now but since it's been my faithful friend since 2001 I'm not too sad.  It had a long and useful life for a digital camera.  =) 

I was planning on getting a new camera but then I discovered that my phone has an amazing camera built right in - with a higher resolution and better picture capabilities than my old camera had!  The only real issue is that it's a new phone since my old phone had finally died too (a Window's 7 phone - thanks Will, it's very cool) and I'm still trying to figure it out.  Most of the time I can get a decent picture but I have to re-learn how to take pictures since it's sooo much faster than my old digital.  Hopefully, soon I can get it all figured out and upload some stuff to share.  =)

I've been thinking lately about the holiday traditions that I want to pass on to my children that were important to my family growing up.  We always received one new Christmas ornament every year that we opened on Christmas eve - I have most of mine from when I was little and they are special to me.  I always made candy every year with my Grandmother - almond toffee bark and fudge were two we did every year!  And, a tradition that I started with Dominic, is to decorate a Gingerbread house every year.  Christmas time is always special and fully of wonderful memories to cherish in the years to come - what holiday traditions do you celebrate in your family?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Congratulations!


Happy wedding day Christine and Christian!