Friday, February 29, 2008

Stress Less In March Challege

Original photo: Pierre Pouliquin.

Our Friend
Chile has a March Challenge for us.

Commit to 30 minutes per day of some kind of mindfulness. It can be yoga, meditation, relaxation, prayer, focused exercise, or whatever works for you. Choose a time block that you will keep from thinking about all the problems in the world and in your life, but don't just fill your mind with distractions (like TV or playing a video game).

Does doing my Yoga tape On the TV count as not using TV a distraction?

I commit to daily Yoga either at home or with a class.

And I will turn the TV off in the afternoons.

As many of you know I am moving into the craziest time of my year. The spring is so busy and stressful.

I would like to focus and be more calm and connected and present. Less scattered and short tempered.

We'll see.

(a post on the success of the February challenge soon)

A Catch Up For An Old Friend

Mags...she's 14 and going strong. Loves to snuggle and get into the trash. A good friend to all, cats, dogs, little kids. Bed hog. Gus...camera shy. I'll work on a better picture. He's part Maine Coon, part hermit. He will observe but never get involved. He needs the water bowl completely full. And has to sleep near my right shoulder and if the pillow is too far to the right...he'll let me know.
Rescue...smartest dog I've ever know. And maybe the most challenging. She's a one human dog and I'm her human. She is about 90% blind. Has some sight left in her right eye. Loves to swim, sit on the porch and will still chase the frisbee even if she can no longer catch it.
Jack...he's a freak but very cute. Scared of everyone and everything. Most people have only seen him in pictures. He is needy and vocal. He has to be where I am and be the center on my world. Unless we have company...then he cannot be found.

And me...this picture was taken by my 5 year old nephew Andrew. It....really looks like me. Single, set in my ways, self centered, busy, lover of nephews and animals, coach of rowers and basketball boys, driver of the big red truck and trying to live my life with less ecological impact.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Concessions

Had lunch with the Petty Girls yesterday. It's a standing Wednesday lunch date with my mother, my aunt, my little sis and two of my cousins. We've been lunching since last spring and it has become a wonderful touchstone for all of us. We've always been connected by our shared experiences but now we feel connected in our present. It's so great.

Mostly.

It also can be the time when our mothers can bug us about stuff (smiling). Or vice versa, really.

Yesterday it was my turn to be bugged.

My cousin's daughter has become my roommate. Sharing my house and the crazy love of all of our crazy animals. She added two nutty cats to my menagerie of two dogs and two cats. (I know, I know...I really am the crazy cat lady...4 cats AND reusing the tinfoil...oye!)

It's going very well...everyone is getting along and Manda and I are managing to keep up with the cat hair and the litter box. Manda's great fun. She's young and darling and cool to be around.

And she's freezing.

She's been a great sport but my mother read me the riot act and told me...in that way that only mothers can...to turn the heat up already!

So I did. Only a little.

And I bought a thermostat and will aim for a temp around 64 degrees.

And Manda can put on a sweater.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Choices Not Sacrifices

I hate organic peanut butter. Hate it. It tastes like glue. I tried it. And then I bought a jar (plastic) of creamy Jiff. But I unplugged my dryer and hang my clothes to dry.

I will make a special (extra) trip every once in a while in my car to get fresh organic produce. But I will ride my bike to work.

I’m not ready to give up scoopable cat litter…especially with my new house guests. But I have replaced all the light bulbs with CFLs.

I will use my air conditioner this summer. But I will continue to recycle.

I will still travel several times a year to Texas to see my family. But I am rewashing ziplock bags and occasionally reusing tinfoil.

We buy meat in Styrofoam packaging at the little grocery near the station because they don’t sell it any other way (and my fire guys need meat, don’t ya know). But I bring dishtowels and cloth napkins for us to use instead of paper towels.

I will run the space heater in the garage (one of those really safe ones plugged into a power strip) for the dogs on really cold nights when I’m at work. But I take my own bags when I go shopping.

I will run the hose while washing my fire truck. But I won’t idle in my car (or my fire truck for that matter).

I’m not giving up Jelly Bellys or Cheezits. But I will freeze my buns off all winter.

I will color my hair. But I will Freecycle instead of throwing away.

This journey into greenness has required a paradigm shift. In the beginning I was very intense, making sacrifices that made me feel...somewhat superior.

That wasn't really working.

Over time I began to realize that I could do the things that fill me. The things that make me, me. I can make choices that are good for me...and good for those whales.

And I can continue to do some of the things that I enjoy.

I don't have to give it all up.

Neither do you.

Just think. If each one of us made our lives 50% greener. Think about how much of a difference we can make.

It's not realistic to think that we can live on this planet with no impact. We WILL over time use up this earth.

But...if we are more mindful of the impact that our lives have we can begin to slow the process. Let's not think about saving the planet for our kids but saving the planet for the kids to come, generations and generations from now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spam A Lot



I'm adding that very annoying word varification to the comments for a bit.





I've been getting some spam commenting...





Sorry.

Winter In Kansas

My good friend the Ronneblogger sent this to me. Maybe she's freezin too!
(I tried to link to the Freezin Challenge but I can't get it to work...the link is in my side bar)

And for those of you not enjoying this KC winter...it's 15 and sleeting.

Good times.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Freeze Update

Still cold.

Today...really, really cold. Just checked, it's 9 degrees outside.

This, of course, is the day that my darling dog found a place in the back fence she could get through. So I had to spend 20 minutes putting in a chainlink patch. Did I mention that it's 9 degrees.

I love her...really. Don't worry about the kicking. (just kidding...maybe)

I made a purchase that I'm going to allow on my spending freeze. A grain bed warmer! Oh...ya gotta get one! 3 minutes in the microwave and my toes were not cold at all.

And I bought a t-shirt for my dad. He was in the hospital last week and he's been on my mind a lot.

And then there was the new pannier bag that was on clearance when I went to get tubes for my bike tires...

Okay so the spending freeze hasn't been a complete sucess.

But...

I haven't been to Target or Walmart or any of those stores that get us all in trouble.

Of course I can justify all of the purchases...a gift for my dad, a bag I needed for my bicycle commuting that will begin....eventually, a foot warmer to keep me from freezing to death in my very cold house.

But I'm trying...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Snow, Snow Go Away!

Remember much we loved the first snow of the winter. Or how much we wanted it to snow at Christmas time. It was beautiful, magical. Now it just sucks.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

And because someone will ask...yes, he was wearing pants.

Unusual...I know.

Jock Straps....Everywhere

Just imagine this nice floor lamp...now imagine it with underware and jock straps hanging on it. Yep, jock straps. And those were the clean ones...

Just a little a glimpse of my day yesterday...oh, it gets even better.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday Thoughts From My Green(er) World


An automatic timer on the coffee maker is essential as it's too freakin cold to stand in the kitchen and make the coffee. A hot cuppa is needed...quick.

Without the dryer ALWAYS check pockets for kleenex. Little bits of white fuzz on everything...please overlook.

CFL's in the cold garage take a long time to warm up. So...getting something out of the cold garage in a hurry...requires a flashlight.

It takes about 36 hours to line dry clothing in the basement. Preplanning is a must.

Weening myself off of plastic bags has been very easy. Not using styrofoam is another story. We get take out at the station when we are busy and so far it always comes in styrofoam. I'm making a list of the places I can't get takeout from. I'll miss I-Hot...and that great little deli over by Kim's office.

I need more practice making bread. But I made my own butter! Very cool!

It will be warm enough next week to ride my bike to work! I think Thursday's the day!!!

Have you made any green changes?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Busted Part 2

It's REALLY hard to pretend you are innocent when you shut yourself in the bathroom while getting into the trash and you have to bark to get someone to let you out!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just A Little Thing We Took Care Of In The Middle Of The Night



It was 6 degrees out...2am...yeah, good times.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Keeping It Honest

Here are my totals for utility and fuel consumption so far:

Auto Fuel
January $214 (estimated 73 gallons)
I am tracking miles driven and actual gallons in February. 73 gallons seems like an awful lot! Need to watch this!

Electricity
December 2007 420 KWH
January 2008 332 KWH
Here I did well. I've dropped my electrical usage by almost 1/4th. I've switched to CFLs for the lights I'm leaving on. I freecycled the deep freeze. Not using the dryer...even though it is a gas dryer it plugs into the wall so it uses some electricity. I need to still deal with rechargeables and things like the VCR, microwave and other items that don't need to be plugged in all the time.

Water
December 2007 3 CCF (2250 Gallons)
January 2008 4 CCF (3000 Gallons)
The January bill says that the January reading is estimated. This may be related to the water main break we had a few weeks ago...We'll see if it changes in Feb.

Natural Gas
December 2007 10.3 MCF
January 2008 11.2 MCF
This one has me puzzled? I guess it was VERY cold in January. And they did replace my meter this month...we'll see if Feb gets better...

It is interesting that this is something I've NEVER even paid attention to before.

video

This darling's resemblance to my Rescue is interesting.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

FireHawks 2007-8

We had our last basketball game today. Kindergarten. Oy ya....they are so cute it's painful. Or maybe it's just painful...could go either way. I thought maybe you'd like to see what it looks like from their coach's perspective.Yep...that's about how much I get, too. (we're in blue...I think)Oh, wait...I might even recognize one of them... See, even when they aren't moving they are still blurry...cute though.



Friday, February 08, 2008

Oh Yeah...The Food...




The food has been VERY interesting...

I have thrown NO food away. Eaten all my leftovers and shopped, really, for nothing.

I've had:


  • Left over Popeyes buscuits, brought to the Saturday gathering and put in the freezer.

  • I just put left over chicken in some packaged (purchased before the greeness) black beans and rice.

  • Made fish tacos with only things I had on hand!

  • Eaten heart healthy oatmeal for breakfast most mornings.

  • Taken a box of stuffing to the station for dinner (with the baked chicken).

  • Had wild rice (in the cupboard) and brocolli (leftover from the cheese fondue) for dinner two nights.

  • Frozen salsa, avocado, pecan chicken, califlower, brocolli and bread to be used later. AND put a list of those things on the freezer so I wouldn't forget.

  • I've eaten my weight in homemade oatmeal cookies.

And here's the craziest thing....I've lost 4 pounds.


And there has been A LOT of laying on the futon.

(and yes...I am now reusing tinfoil. I am slowly becoming my Grandma Erma)

Week One of the Spending Freeze

So all in all not too bad.

Our weekly lunch was cancelled due to too much snow for the Mom's to travel.

I went the grocery for milk and and an unexpected purchase of...well, let's just say...ummm...a 'monthly need'.

There were CFL's on sale, 6 in all cardboard packaging. As I'm leaving some lights on for Rescue I thought replacing the bulbs in a few places made good enviornmental sense...$14 and some change.

Dinner at the station didn't cost me anything as we had the baked chicken that was planned for the day we had the big recycling fire. And the guys paid $4 a piece so I was in the black $8.

I spent $22ish on some hardware to complete the boat racks on the shed. I used all recycled lumber and only purchased some joist hangers and really long deck screws.

I have limped along on 1 tank of gas since last Wednesday. It's really empty so today I will fill up.

I have spent $16 at the chiropracter this week. My right hand is numb every morning and this chronic neck issue needed some attention. It's better now.

I paid $75 for the software to do my taxes but I'll be getting $950 back so I consider that a wash.

Today I'm headed to the grocery for a few things. I'll buy cheese from the deli and have them put it in a container I'll bring along. I'll also be purchasing the things I'll need to make some bread. I'm buying in bulk and using my own bags.
I need some OJ and cat food. And I may buy some fruit...apples and bananas.

Things I would have purchased this week but did not:

  • Hair Color - Grey is 'in' right?
  • Printer Cartridge
  • A hair cut - So it's hanging in my eyes...I'll deal

Thursday, February 07, 2008

15 Minutes Better


My guess is that New Year's resolutions often take on a life of their own.

Now, we have all mumbled at 11:55pm on January 31st "I'm (not)going to...whatever". And then had another drink, yelled Happy New Year, hugged someone and gone about our merry way...and the only thing different, the date you write on your checks.

Sometimes it changes your life. Unexpectedly.

Here were the goals I had for 2008. Posted on this blog for the world (or the 6 of you) to see.
Living a greener life. Decreasing my carbon footprint.
Living healthier. Diet, exercise...yada, yada, yada.
Continuing to improve my financial position and reach my financial goals.
Being more positive with my self and others.
Most of you know that I've unplugged my dryer, bring my own bags, am freezing my buns off, trimmed the fat and turned all the lights off until my lovie got lost in the dark.

What you don't know is how it's changed me. I mean really changed me.

Rhonda Jean at Down To Earth posts about the simple things in life. Taking pride in your home and loving the little things you do to make your home...a true home. I've thought a lot about this as I've hung my clothes in the basement, dried and put away my dishes, cuddled under a blanket with my cats in my cold house, cleaned and uncluttered my home...and my mind.

My mind is clearer and less muddled with 'I wants'. I appreciate the quiet moments when I can hear the dogs breathing. I love the way my house looks when I drive up to it at night. I enjoy a simple dinner cooked in my tiny kitchen.

The Trimming the Fat challenge has rerouted my brain. I am now thinking about time not things.

I'll grow something to eat this year. I'll be putting in a clothes line and sleeping in fresh sunny sheets. I'm going to compost and create my own earth.

I'm obsessed with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) a great movement that connects farnmers and the community. Bringing fresh, locally grown produce into our homes. The local CSA's are full for the year but I'm on a waiting list and will be a regular at the farmer's market and hope to share the bounty grown by my parents in Lawrence.

I remember years saying 'no thank you' to my mother as she tried to give me 14oo yellow squash or 400 apples. 'I live alone!" I'd say. This year I'll take anything she offers. I'll freeze, I'll eat, I'll share, I'll create. Who knows....you might get some.

So...my footprint is smaller. I'm healthier and this will continue as I eat local and (gasp) ride my bike to work. My financial position can only continue to improve as I keep my tush (and my debit card) out of Target. I'm getting to know myself. Having more quiet time.

Today I will put up a dream board. A place to think and plan what my life will be.

And a mailbox near the door to leave my worry and struggles in before I come into my home.
And starting today I will try to find a way to make each day...15 minutes better (thanks
OwlHaven!).

It's good. Really good.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Dave....Are You Out There??

Oh my...I really want one of these!

Okay, it doesn't have to be this one but maybe a recycled barrel I can make into one of these...hmmmm.

Sounds like something I'll need Super Dave to help with (Dave, you do know that's what they call you...and YES, I know you are reading)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sleepy Day

This boy and I were very green today. Conserving energy and sharing heat...napping on the futon

Misc

(I don't know why this layout is so scrambled...I've tried fixing it but...)

This is how I spent the lovely 70 degree day yesterday. All of the lumber is reused but I purchased $20 worth of joist hangers and hardware. Today...4-6 inches of snow...crazy!


Here are some pics of Rescue that I tried to find for the last post.


This is her favorite place in the yard.

I think she was watching the men repair the water main break a few weeks ago. They were making a lot of noise!

This is yesterday. She kept me company all day.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Choices



This is my beautiful girl. She's 13 and full of spunk. And going blind.

Her sight hasn't been great for a couple of years and in the last two weeks she's lost most of it.

I expect that it won't be long until she is completly sightless.

Now, before I get all kinds of questions about vets and treatments...here is my position on pets and their health.

When I take an animal into my home I accept responsibility for that animal. For the duration of their life. I provide nutritional food, clean water, appropriate shelter, preventative medical care, emergent medical care if nececssary, love and attention. (and treats and toys, comfort during scary thunderstorms, trips to the dog park and cuddles on the couch)

If one of my critters has an accident or a medical condition that is treatable, not going to result in a chronic medical issue, can be treated with little or no pain and discomfort to them and they can be 100% after treatment I will do everything in my power to provide for that.

I will not subject an old dog to medical treatments that only prolong an issue or choose chemotherapy for cancer knowing that a cure is relativly impossible.

Rescue has cataracts in both eyes. She's 13. She hates to go to the vet. She will function just fine without her eyesight. Eventually.

I think the transition is going to be hard. For both of us.

I have been walking around in the dark. You know...saving the whales and all.

My girl is having a hard time in very low light. She gets turned around in dark rooms. Won't walk into a room unless it is lit. While I know that soon her whole world will be dark right now she needs some light. It will be the last light she ever sees.

So we'll be leaving the lights on.

I'm sure the whales will understand.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Ain't I Cute


Here I am driving the Big Red truck at the recycling center fire.
Yep...that person you can't really see...that's me.
That crap the bobcat is moving...yeah...that's my junk mail.



Seems like I've signed up for another challenge. Chile over at Chile Chews is challenging us to a spending freeze for the month of February. And since I'm already Freezin' My Buns off it's kind of a theme.

While the basics need to be handled (food, shelter, transportation) I can make cuts in many areas and cut many things out all together. (except chocolate)

The first place I'd like to start is to begin working my way through all the food already in my house. I will need to buy cat and dog food, coffee (can't, don't ask me!), milk, oj and maybe bread. But I have enough rice, canned foods and miscellaneous crap in this house to feed myself for....well, a long time. (yea and the chocolate...won't be givin' up the chocolate)

The next is the obvious one. No shopping. I don't need anything. I have shampoo in the cupboard. I don't like it but I already own it. Tooth paste again, don't like it but I can use it. Enough cleaning and personal care items. I don't need any clothes. Or more crap for my house. (did I mention that I will still be purchasing chocolate...and maybe ingredients for those oatmeal cookies...)

I'm going to be building some boat rack for the back yard and I will scavage the lumber necessary.

I will allow myself $10 per week to eat out. I have lunch with the Petty Girls (Mom, Aunt Sue, Kimmy, Carrie and Janet) once a week and it is essential to my sanity and important for our relationships.

I will have some expenditures for a gathering on Saturday but as it was planned before my decision to join this challenge those expenditures will be grandfathered in.

So....anyone want to join in?

I'll allow all the chocolate and homemade oatmeal cookies you need.