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Cutting the Cable Cord

September 15, 2009

untitled, originally uploaded by randi bee.

I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I are moving and we are moving ourselves. This is not a fun prospect and the reason for my utter lack of posting lately. The sewing machine and my entire stash has already been boxed up although we won’t move until the 10th of October. Since we are moving ourselves and we both work so much I’ve been slowly packing up our house. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and prevents me from thinking about the fact that we still have to load all this stuff up and then unpack it again…

Besides a new job (which is the driving reason for moving) we are also trying to cut down on our expenses and moving allows us to shave a couple hundred dollars a month off of our rent. We have also decided after much discussion to cancel our cable service. If you know us you will be shocked and probably doubtful that we will see this through. Don’t worry we haven’t been abducted and brain washed. In preparation for cutting the cord we’ve purchased a box to stream Netflix movies instantly to our TV ($180.00), an antenna to catch the HD signals from the local and free stations ($34.00) and a small converter box to use that antenna on our Mac ( $129.00). So far this isn’t saving us much money… the total cost is $343.00. Since cable costs us roughly $80 a month it’s going to take us over four months to break even and five to start seeing a real savings. To offset this we’ve decided to sell our small flat screen TV for $100 (we will be using our Mac in it’s place) and our DVD player for $20 (this is being replaced with the streaming Blue Ray player). If we succeed in selling them for our asking price cutting the cable will only cost us $223…. Looking at it this way is depressing so instead I prefer to think about the fact that in a year we will have saved $737.

Not Your Average Vacation

September 2, 2009

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, originally uploaded by Darvin Atkeson.

Homemade Toothpaste- Salty??

July 4, 2009

It took a while, but we’ve finally finished the last of our commercial toothpaste. We’ve now begun our little experiment with homemade toothpaste.

To begin with, yes… homemade toothpaste works quite well. It cleans teeth well, it whitens teeth as well or better than the average tube, and it leaves ones mouth feeling rather fresh. Sounds good, right? I (J.) think so. In fact, the only real down side is, for me, the taste. It doesn’t taste that bad; just a little salty. Salty, really?!? Yes, salty. I know, it sounds strange, but our toothpaste has actual salt in it.


6 Teaspoons, Baking Soda
4 Teaspoons, Vegetable Glycerin
1/3 teaspoon, Salt
15 drops, Peppermint Extract


Mix all together. Store in an airtight container.

Why? Well, all of these ingredients can be base elements of something else, so it makes sense for us to have these things on hand for use in other items as well.

Where can I get vegetable glycerin? Many traditional drug stores, apothecary shops, and Whole Foods Markets.

We plan to make another batch and/or add additional peppermint extract to our existing batch to kind of play with the taste. Its not a bad enough taste to keep us from using it (it really does work well) but it certainly would make it more pleasant.

Give this a try if you’re looking for an alternative to store-bought toothpaste, and let us know what you think.

Cleaning the Toilet- The Green Way

June 10, 2009

Vinegar and baking soda, originally uploaded by jilldoughtie.

For the past year and a half J. and I have been phasing store bought cleaning products out of our lives. As things run out we switch to something homemade. For some reason we had a lot of bathroom cleaning products between the two of us so we didn’t run out of toilet bowl cleaner until a week ago. The green alternative involves three ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

I poured 1 cup baking soda mixed with 1/4 cup salt into the toilet and then “chased” it with 1 1/2 cups of plain white vinegar. I was warned that if I poured the vinegar in too quickly that the resulting foam might achieve epic proportions but this was a gross exaggeration. I definitely got foam but it never rose more than 1/2 inch from the surface of the water. I let the mixture sit for 10 minutes and scrubbed away with my brush. The result was a squeaky clean toilet requiring no more effort than previous cleaners and it lacked any sort of vinegar smell as an added bonus.

Individual Skills versus Technological Advances

May 18, 2009

IMG_3786, originally uploaded by Shear Delight.

If you follow my flickr account you’ve probably seen quite a few kitten photos lately.


And you’d probably admit these little ones are sooo cute!

This is the second litter of kittens that we have fostered through our local ASPCA (so no we aren’t crazy cat people) and I learned with the first litter that the quality of the photos directly contributed to the speed at which the kittens were adopted. Our first litter suffered through 2 or 3 “photo shoots” but this litter has done at least twice that. I’m not sure why people don’t want them, I’ve photographed them sleepy, playful, sweet and mischievous but I haven’t broken the code yet. So far only one has been adopted 😦


What I do get a lot of is emails from people saying “wow that camera takes great photos, what is it.” The first email didn’t bother me and I took the time to tell her the camera, lense, and flash I use (for the record it’s a Canon Xti, 50mm Canon lense, and Canon 580EXII flash). But after the third and fourth emails I started to get offended. Not one person said you took great photos, what camera do you use or something to that affect. They all seemed to think the camera did all the work. And while I realize that a quality camera can make a huge difference in the quality of the photos it doesn’t take good photos on its own. The photographer determines the composition, the light, the speed, the focus etc. I did all that! But it seemed to me that these people thought if they bought this camera they too would take these types of photos.


Why does our society place so much faith in or emphasis on technology to solve of our problems, to make us better at things. Shouldn’t we have faith in ourselves, try to hone our abilities versus relying on technology to do things for us? Do you think that we place too much emphasis on the ability of things to make up for our weaknesses?

Easy Inexpensive Home Decorating

May 15, 2009

IMG_3839, originally uploaded by Shear Delight.

How cool are these curtains? And what’s even cooler is that I made them myself in about an hour and a half!

I saw this fabric and knew that I had to have it for my home office. I love the natural light in that room but in the summer it can get ridiculously hot without some sort of filter.

I took 2 yards of the print and 2 yards of a solid white fabric to make the curtains. I loosely followed these instructions but folded the top edge over 2 inches to make a tube for my curtain rod. I like that look better than the tabs used in the linked instructions. I also only made one curtain. I was looking for a stream lined look and I think this accomplishes that quite nicely.

The total cost was $35 in fabric and thread and I still have fabric and thread leftover to use on another project. If you are looking for green projects you could use organic fabric to make custom curtains although I just used 100% quilting weight cotton.

Wearing a watch?

April 25, 2009

20 Seconds Of My Life, originally uploaded by Rich1968.

Do you wear a watch?

I used to think having and wearing a watch was a given. I’ve owned a dozen or so already and still own a couple. I’ve always had a nice digital watch for everyday wear, a nice analog watch for special occasions and a couple “fun” watches.

When we started going green I committed to not buying a new watch and I gave away almost all of my watches. I kept a nice dress up watch the J. gave me and a nice digital watch that I “stole” from Jeff. It’s actually a heart monitor watch so if I ever get into exercising again it will come in handy. I started wearing the nice watch everyday since the digital watch is HUGE (it was meant for a man after all) and wasn’t really appropriate for work. But gradually I stopped wearing that on weekends and then it seemed I was leaving it off more and more. Until one day I put it on and noticed that it had stopped working, I assume it’s the battery. I simply put it away in the drawer. I suppose its not very green to have it just sitting there but it was a gift from J. and I do love it. I don’t seem myself giving it away any time soon.

Now I don’t wear a watch and I can’t remember why I felt it so necessary before. I carry a cell phone most of the time and it tells the time as does my computer and TV. In fact we don’t really have any clocks anymore. We have a clock radio that sits unplugged in my office until I use it for the radio and a clock we received as a wedding present in the living room. We both use our cell phones as alarm clocks so we don’t even need one in the bedroom. Occasionally it’s disconcerting, I don’t have an innate sense of time, so I’ll completely lose track if I’m cleaning or cooking but most of the time I like it. I feel more calm whereas before if I had a watch I felt compelled to check the time almost constantly. I think it becomes a habit, you know just glance at your wrist. Whereas, with my cell phone I have to find it, put in the password and then see the time. I think that’s more effort than knowing what time it is is worth.

So it made me curious, do you wear a watch or do you go without?

Neti Pot?

April 22, 2009

Neti Pot, originally uploaded by sarybow.

So do you use one? My mom swears by it but to be completely honest it “icks” me out. The idea of pouring water into one nostril and having it come out the other… I don’t know I think the sensation would freak me out and I would have a hard time sticking with it. On the other hand I’ve had sinus problems since college and I ended up feeling sick at least one or two days a month. The only medicine (and I’ve tried MANY) is 12 hour Sudafed. Now that you have to get it from behind the pharmacy counter here in the US I wonder if I’m going to be flagged as a potential meth maker… But even the Sudafed doesn’t work if I don’t take it as soon as the symptoms start.

And I don’t relish the idea of being dependent on a drug for the rest of my life so in theory the Neti Pot sounds great. If you don’t know what is and what is does let me tell you. It’s a little pot (pictured above) that is used to irrigate your nasal cavity. You use lukewarm slightly salty water to gently cleanse the nasal passage. The idea is that the water washes away pollen, mucus, viruses and bacteria that would cause you to get congested or sick. It’s been used for thousands of years in places like India but has recently grown in use in Europe and the US.

You take your Neti pot filled with the warm water and insert the spout into your nostril. Tip your head so the water pours out your other nostril. You want to choose a Neti pot that has a spout that will plug your inlet nostril to eliminate leaking from that nostril. You must be relaxed and breathing through your mouth for this to work. But if you are then it should gently flow through in a couple of minutes. Then you repeat on the other side. You could use it as needed although most people agree it’s most effective if you use it daily. I imagine daily use would also make you a lot more comfortable with the process.

I still don’t know. Is there anyone using it? What was the first time like?

What’s Been Going On

April 11, 2009


I’ve been pretty busy lately. I’ve really gotten into quilting and after completing a baby quilt I started one for myself. Shortly after that J. decided he really wanted a quilt for his birthday. I only had about a month from start to finish so every spare minute has been spent on it and blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I think it was worth all the effort and J. can’t wait to lounge on the couch with it.

Lush Moss Quilt Front

What do you think?

Homemade Beef Jerky

April 9, 2009


Homemade Beef Jerky, originally uploaded by kertong.


Today we are talking about how we made homemade beef jerky over at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op, head on over and check it out!