Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Green Building

WE were watching The Nature Of Things the other night. We didn't even know it was on but we're so glad we came across it. The show was about green building in Canada.

I learned a lot. I am now interested in rammed earth houses, although it doesn't seem to be very common. It was widely used in years gone by, a good alternative to using precious wood in many areas.

I also learned a bit more about straw bale houses. I didn't realize it was just a layer of concrete on the outside of the houses. It would be hard to get a hold of enough year old straw bales around here. They do everything in those big round white plastic looking things, although if I tried hard enough I'm sure it would be possible.

I also finally learned what geothermal heating was. I've heard of it but never saw it in action.

I think we would like to explore green building options when it comes time to spend our hard earned/saved cash on a house. I'm already pretty sold on wind and solar energy. There are pretty good rebates through the government for people using these. It will be nice when the day comes green is totally mainstream :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

For Better or For Worse

I really enjoyed the letter for June under Jim's section (I just discovered it today). It discusses today's over consumerism and being more green:

I am still in bit of a rut. I'm trying but find it harder. Since we're not using the car, that's a huge savings. We may be getting it fixed if it's not too expensive. We could live without it but it's so much easier having it. We did our shopping yesterday walking and it was hard. In the past we didn't have kids to lug around. At least now we can haul the wagon along to fill up, although the kids would rather be sitting in it. I am very out of shape (which is why the walking is hard for me) but I know I will become more fit if I walk more.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Things happen for a reason

There have been a lot of bad things happening in our house lately. I won't be a whiner about most of them. However I have been finding the blessings behind the trials.

One trial is our fridge died, meaning we lost just about all the food in our fridge and fridge freezer. A lot of waste that really upset me. I hate waste. After we got it fixed, I decided that now that all the waste is out of the way, we would only buy what we need. I would start planning meals around the food we have in the fridge and cupboards and we would save so much. It's working great so far. I think we will save a lot of money in the long run.

The other big trial is our car is falling apart. It is so rusty and things are falling off. Most recent is the muffler and exhaust system (we just got it not even two years ago). It would cost more to get all the problems fixed than it would to get another inexpensive car for it to pass the safety inspection (due this month). We also just got the insurance renewal form.

So we have decided to go car free. We will save tons of money, we will be healthier and we will have to become more creative. I don't know how long this will last, but for the summer at least. If it goes well, we may go long term. Everything (except family, friends, parks, beaches and other destination spots) are in walking distance. There is a park close by the kids like to play at, a ball field, shopping, ect... We should be able to find rides to church, although it would probably only take about half an hour to walk (in my current physical condition).

I must admit, I am kind of sad about it. I am in poor physical shape. Really, really bad shape. Even when I regularly exercise, it's hard to keep up. Having to walk everywhere will force me to get in better condition. Plus it will be a very green thing to do :D. We win in so many ways.

We've gone car free in the past and people haven't thought much of our decision but a car is not always a necessity. In our case, with the amount we drive, it is a luxury, one we can't afford any more.

So we'll be having a close to home kind of summer, which is why I mentioned being creative. We weren't planning on traveling much anyway. I am going to miss the beach and the parks though!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm Back

I took a little break from blogging as DH's grandmother passed away and I didn't feel like writing much. She was very dear to us and we will miss her greatly.

There was a lot of craziness going on so I kind of lapsed in a lot of areas. I need to get back to my earthy roots and do what I can to reduce our impact on the earth.

I got this month's National Geographic and there were some good articles in there about the effects of global warming. It's scary how fast the ice in the arctic is melting. There was a very poignant quote that really hit home. "An Arctic without ice would be like a garden without soil." Of course all that melted ice has to go somewhere.

When we were in the Annapolis valley for the funeral, we went up the "mountain" to visit family. It struck me odd that at the top of the mountain was the ocean. Apparantly the valley is below sea level and the highest parts of the mountain are actually only about 750 feet above sea level, although it seems higher. I also just read a great deal of the valley is already protected from the ocean from a system of dykes. Thus if all the ice in the arctic melts, much of my province may find itself underwater (it's virtually an island with just a small connector to New Brunswick).

Well, that was dreary. I will be back with what I hope to be more uplifting things to discuss. Maybe I should start packing my bags to move somewhere that isn't in danger of finding itself underwater, lol!! (I live right by the ocean)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lots Going On

I just wanted to do a fly-by that a lot has been going on here, which is why I haven't posted much lately. I will be back soon to write more. Hopefully the craziness is over for a bit :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Solar Cooking

I have started looking into solar cooking. I think next week after I have the bulk of the cleaning out of the way, I will make one and see how it goes. They go from very simplistic (a pizza box with tin foil and plastic) to very complex $500 jobs. I'm looking to do this on the cheap so I'll try the pizza box (I have two in the hall closet DH never got around to putting in the compost. I guess I can't complain now!). You can make almost anything in these! I can't wait to try.

My basement has done a miraculous transformation and I'm not even done. I will be putting out a lot of garbage and recyclables this week, plus there is a ton for the spring clean up (May 28th!) and everything we have saved for the yard sale we'll be having, the remnants of which will be given away. I've already sold a rocking chair :). I love simplifying. I wish I could get hard core about it as there's a lot I'm still hanging onto, but eventually I'll let it all go.

We're doing pretty good with not spending money. We have more in savings than I ever could of expected. A few hundred more and we'll be bumped into a higher intrest earning category, woo!!! Plus we'll earn 1000 PC points a month, which is equal to a dollar. I can't wait until those dollars will be buying us our house :D

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Here is a short story I wrote when I was a teenager for a course I was taking. I kind of giggle reading it as it is full of grammatical and spelling errors and I thought it was perfect when I wrote it. I like that it reflects my connection to the earth, even if my spiritual views have changed and matured somewhat. I was going to toss it, but I will post it here first so it will be saved forever.


The noise of technology resounded in her head as her feet led the way down the street. Everywhere, noise, hurry, death. if only they could see their grey auras and if only they could see her white one and realize life was about spirituality and not working oneself to death.

People moved without looking around and realizing happiness is not the green in their pockets. Oh, how she wished to scream out against the lack of awareness around her.

She had to quickly stop thinking so much about others and get on track to her own purpose.

Every footfall took her closer to the park, where she felt best to commune with God. She picked up her pace, reminding her of the busy people. At least she had a destiny worth rushing to.

There were few in the park, mostly regulars who came daily to feed the ducks and birds. She exchanged greetings to the ones who were familiar to her. They knew about the truth inside her and were glad for her.

Over to the alcove of trees she went and positioned herself so she would not lose balance as she went under. A warm breeze swept over her as her eyes closed and her mind went blank.

A few thoughts passed through her mind but these quickly ran their course. And she was left in a bliss unlike any other known to man. In these times, all the answers to the questions were known to her. Often, she truly felt the touch of God. in these times she took comfort in knowing all would work out in the end. In these times, time had no meaning, worries were nonexistent and insecurities had no place.

When she came back to her world, the feeling of peace was so strong. Nothing could knock her down. These people would someday have restitution for their dark days. She had no bearing over the way their lives were led and they none over hers. Only God would know how it would end.

She left the park with an extra big smile on her face. One of the park regulars asked, "Wow, where were you today?"

She answered, "In a secret place where you are cradled in the hands of God and love reigns supreme."

The man smiled back with a twinkle of understanding in his eye.

The End

Monday, May 7, 2007


I am convinced that birthdays (and holidays in general, for that matter) make the earth very unhappy. Oh the waste!! The packaging, unenviromentally friendly toys, wrapping, disposable eatware, ect...

I tried to make our gifts more practical and not very wasteful. Nothing had excess packaging that wasn't recyclable. I wrapped his presents in recyled paper, bags and cloth (or a combination of those).

Everything else...well..... As of now, most of DS's toys are unfindable, with pieces of things all over the house. Most of the toys kept him intrested for about 2 minutes. Our garbage is bulging with waste (I recycled everything that could be). Plus I can't remember who gave him what as the whole unwrapping process was a blur!!

I think for DD's birthday I'm going to say no presents (ok, I know the nannies will break this rule and I plan on getting her a couple things since it is a special day). I know it may be rude, but I may just ask everyone to give a litle money (like $5) towards a new bed or dresser. Heaven knows she needs no more toys or clothes!!! We're also going to have her party at the beach or park so people will generally have fun with out all the birthday trappings, as long as there's food. I am going to start looking for decomposable plates and cups. If I get plastic forks, I plan to take them home to wash and reuse.

It's sad to think how many birthdays happen every day and how much waste this must generate. Of course we are part of two families who love to go overboard with everything!!

(Disclaimer: I am glad we had DS's party and everyone had a blast. These are just my musings of how wasteful things can be. I want to find a balance between simplicity, conservation and fun for future birthday parties :) . Oh and Happy 5th Birthday, DS!! ).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Around The House

I have been meaning to get back to this. I have changed my underarm regimine. The baking soda under the arms was making my skin peel. I was doing a little research and I found that some people use rubbing alcohol. I have found it to be very effective over the past week. I'm sure it will take a little longer to discover if it is effective for the long haul.

Going no shampoo is doing wonders for my hair. I just scrub a bit with baking soda when I shower, rinse well and towel dry. I find my hair is getting thicker and fuller as it is no longer falling out like it used to. I feel like I have a new head of hair!

I have talked to DH about going semi-TV free. We have cut out a LOT of TV watching, but I know we could do better. We're going to put our good TV and VCR/DVD player in our bedroom and probably get rid of the small/older ones. If it's not in our living room, we won't just sit around and watch. Sometimes we'll watch a show, which turns into a TV marathon or just TV in the background. It's something I want to change.

I've been doing a lot of simple things for DS's birthday party tommorow. I scrounged the house for napkins, plates, cups, ect... I wrapped some of his presents in stamped kraft paper and the rest wrapped in cloth tucked in reused gift bags. I made his cake (mom is supposed to bring an ice cream cake, but I have a feeling she'll forget). We're making games out of things around the house and we bought the buns al about 75% (still good; IL's are providing the BBQ food :) ). Im sure we'll have a great time! He's so exited as he's turning 5 this weekend.

LED Lights

I am very excited for the day to come that LED lights are the standard for home lighting. I was checking out how much the bulbs are to replace a standard household light fixure and you can find them online for about $15. I remember not so long ago CFL bulbs were about as expensive. I hope they go down in price to the point it's feasible to replace all our bulbs with them. LED is soooo energy efficient.

There is a lot of talk in Canada of making it mandatory that people must use CFL/energy efficient light bulbs. I am on the fence about that. I realize there are fixtures where they cannot currently be used. Many people worry about the mercury in them. Then there's the cost. I think there should be incentive programs but not force people to use them, or even have 75%. I wouldn't want the police raiding our home checking for outlawed light bulbs. I'm sure they have better things to do with their time ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Great Site

Yesterday I took the kids on a nature trail and it was so nice seeing the signs of spring. Everything was budding and unfurling from their long winter nap. It will be nice to have the world awash in green again.

Here is a great site I found last night that I must share:

" Welcome to Cindy's Porch! Grab yourself a cup of tea and pull up a chair. Are you ready to discover the treasures that are available in your home, your neighborhood, and within your family that cost absolutely nothing? This is where we learn to "DO instead of BUY". Where we "SHOP at home FIRST" and discover that "procrastination" can be our best friend when it comes to BUYing more stuff."

I printed off the sheets for creating an inventory for your food on hand. This is what is hard for me since we have soooo much.

I'm grateful that we don't have any debt. We've always been pay as we go kind of people. We do use our credit cards a lot, but we get hundreds of dollars back each year and we pay the credit cards off either right away or before any intrest is charged. We are planning on buying a house some day but hopefully with as little debt as possible.

I'm going to be busy the rest of the day cleaning, simplifying the kitchen and doing some batch baking. I'm making two lasagnas (one veggie and one southwestern), a few loaves of bread and cookies. If I get everything else on my great big list done, I will make some sweet bread quick mix to have on hand.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A New Month

Hey, isn't this considered to be May Day? For a day that used to be considered the first day of summer, it's pretty cold and yucky out!

On MDC I have decided to participate in the No Spending in May challenge. It will be a challenge as we have a lot of events this month. Most can be worked around and I've already bought almost everything for DS's birthday (I think I just need buns and maybe another thing or two I may be forgetting, but I'm sure it won't make a difference). Most of the birthday's in the family are this month (including mind ;) ) and then there is Mother's Day.

Groceries and bills are exceptions, although I am still trying to cut down. I did some shopping yesterday and spent more than I expected. I bought some meat and it brought the amount way up.

My biggest challenge is DH. He is a worse spender than I am. He works in a grocery store at the mall, which means he is surrounded by spending temptation all day. I'll have to start getting him to leave his wallet/money and cards home. If we really need something, there's no reason why I can't go and get it. I think this will help us really define needs versus wants.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I can't believe it, but I am considering joining Freecycle again. I know lots of people love it and think it's great but it was the worst few months of my life (OK, that's an exaggeration, but I REALLY dreaded checking my email, which was awful). People were SOOOOO ungrateful, they would come pick up their stuff then start asking me for everything they see (hello!! My house is not a store!!), people regularly would ask for the most ridiculous things (like cars. I know, if you don't ask, you won't get but who is going to give a new car in running condition away for free and have to drive it three hours away, no less??) and there were constant debates over the yardsalers (basically, people would sign up and ask for every single item, regardless of what it was for the sale of selling it. That is NOT in the spirit of Freecycle, IMO).

I have been going through my house, going through the decluttering part of simplification and it's staggering how much we have to get rid of. I know the Salvation Army never seemed that impressed when we'd show up with 10 garbage bags of stuff in the past and they're in a smaller location now and they have no parking so we'd have to trudge this stuff all over creation to get it there. Sigh.

The kids toys have been way easier than I thought. I did get the kids involved a bit. They had a garbage bag of playfood. They could not play with it as there was too much stuff. The kids and I went through it and kept a small little bag, literally a 10th of what they had, and a tea party set. Voila! They started playing with it again. I started going through their Little People (of which they had tons). DS actually offered to give up one of his houses! What a sweetheart. I told him we would wait as we're going to move the Little People back to his room where they would have room to play with it again. (We are getting rid of some though)

That's the biggest problem we have; no room! We moved some of the kids toys into a section of the living room but there is no room to play. We have wood in DS's room right now to finish building his bunk bed (we lost the instructions years ago as we have only been using part of it until DS was old enough to use a bunk bed). Clothes are all over his room as that is my sorting area. It's all a big mess. This is why I need to declutter, so we can LIVE again! So the kids can play again. So I can get stuff done again!!

I will go through my items and make a list for freecycle. I will just ignore the people who take away from the spirit of Freecycle and give to those who have a true need. I bagged up nearly 10 bags worth so far plus have a lot of big ticket items to give away too. I find I am seeing things with new eyes. I can see there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It's going to be slow going getting there and will involve learning new habits and a new way of living, but I can see that there will be happiness there.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Small Things DO Make A DIfference

Sometimes with the drudgery of trying to keep things simple and taking extra effort in lots of small ways to save and conserve, you sometimes wonder if it's making a difference in the grand scheme of things. You know since there are so many people who don't care gobbling up the world's resources without a second thought.

With only a couple of simple changes, our power bill from February to April has gone down nearly $30 (new bill: $86 for 2 months). That's $180, which is more than 4 months of electricity use we conserved in two months.

"With weekly use of just one reusable bag at the grocery store, each person can divert approximately 100 plastic bags from ending up in landfill sites each year". Click on that for one of the many bags we use for shopping. Cloth bags are great as they hold so much. They're also easier to lug around, sturdier and it's great knowing one small thing can make such a huge change.

"If every household in Canada replaced 1 roll of virgin toilet paper with 1 roll of recycled toilet paper we could save thousands of trees for more highly valued uses." Even though we use mostly cloth (except DH ;) ), after the toilet paper we do have in our storage is used up, I am going to switch to this. It's generally not any more expensive than the other ones. Now I don't agree with what they say about it may take more energy to use reusable since we wash everything in cold water. I don't care what they say, cold can wash clothes clean without special formulas. Our homemade laundry detergent is super effective, super simple and cheap to make. I'll post the recipe later.

Use compact fluorescent bulbs wherever possible in your home. They use 75% less electricity than traditional bulbs and last years longer. One compact fluorescent bulb can save you three times its cost in electricity. We have been using them for more than 2 years now and it really does make a difference. We have also switched to all LED nightlights. They cost pennies a year to run. The one we have in our family bedroom is sensitive to light so when it's dark, it comes on but at night, it doesn't. I believe the label said it costs less than a dollar a year to leave it plugged in all the time.

Cloth diapers make a huge difference. If you take all the disposable diapers a baby would use in a week, put it all in a bag and leave it in your kitchen, how pleasant would that be? Imagine that, every week your child is in diapers, sitting in a landfill somewhere, not able to decompose in plastic garbage bags buried in the earth, full of human waste, which is technically illegal to put in most landfill sites, multiplied by each person alive, as that's how many diapers there would be if no one used alternatives. Considering some kids don't potty train until they are 3-4 years old (I know, many train earlier), that is a LOT of waste. For some REALLY good facts on the toll disposable diapers have, Check Out This Website: Real Diaper Association. I like that site so much, I will add it to my links here :)

Another is reusable containers. Where I live, it is estimated that anywhere from 25-35% of all garbage on the side of the road are Tim Horton's coffee cups, which are made from non-recyclable, non compostable materials. Walking down any street in town, you can see how bad this situation is. Now, we have three Tims in our tiny little town, and they are always packed to the gills. They actually had to rebuild one so the drive-thru traffic would no longer interfere with one of the main streets in town (it still often does though). So we have hundreds and hundreds of people hourly getting coffee from just one chain in these cups that will never break down. It's almost mind boggling how much waste that would add up to over time. They offer alternatives for reusable containers but few take them up on it. I think there should be greater incentive for that or they should at least switch to compostable cups (other places have done that). Fortunately it's not an issue for me since I don't even go to Tims, I just have to wallow in it's filth. An article from a few years ago (they didn't solve the problem and it's worse now). Here's a blog which gives a great visual impact of the cup problem.

Wow, those are just a few of the many, many things that may be small changes but make a huge difference.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Frenchy Shopping & The Compact

I may mention this here time to time that I/we've gone Frenchy shopping. What this means is we've gone to one of the many second hand stores in our area :). Guy's is the chain, but there are lots of them in thetown where I live.

I have come to realize that I cannot abide by the no spending rule I wanted to uphold. I will do reduced spending, which is more realistic. I will do smarter shopping.

Why am I mentioning all this? Well, mom took the kids and I Frenchy shopping yesterday. I wasn't going to buy anything but it was hard. I bought some scrapbooking supplies, books (a bunch of great ones I've had my eye on), a scarf for me (handpainted silk, lovely!), an interlocking squares mat and Mr. Potatohead for the kids. I didn't touch the clothes knowing how much we had just gotten rid of. I'm not going to feel bad. While mom was doing her retail shopping, I brought the kids to the playground. I really could have done without getting the kids a toy but I thought the compromise of one toy was better than the dozens they were bringing to me while we were there.

I have been reading a lot lately about The Compact. I'm surprised I haven't mentioned it lately as I find it so facinating and it gave me the inspiration to go ahead and simplify my life, even though I don't feel ready to commit yet. I first heard about it on the Mothering message boards.

  • To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
  • To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
  • To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. on our blog).

#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.

I couldn't find the exceptions on the blog but I may not of looked hard enough. I think some of the exeptions would probably include items that fall under the category of health and safety, food, possibly crafts and things needed for livelyhood (example, if you need clothes or footwear for work). I would say some homeschooling items would have to fall in the category of need to buy but some may debate that. I think it is a matter of finding what works for you and doing the best you can to reduce the impact you have on the earth.

100 Mile Diet

I have been facinated by this since hearing about it. I know we could never abide by it since where we live, nothing is produced. Ok, we could live off seafood and berries, maybe a few other things that may be at a local farmer's market are grown locally, but nothing sustainable. We live in an apartment which makes it hard to grow things (although we are trying our hand at a little this year). I applaud anyone who can make it work.

Link: "Official" Site (you can preorder book here)
100 Mile Diet

There is so much more to food than we know about. I have learned a lot from one of my email homeschooling groups about what our food producers can get away with. It's scary but it really gives you food for thought (ha ha!). It reaffirms why I want to get away from all the processed food. Of course the simple ways I seek to hold to requires that I don't waste what I have. What I buy from now on will be more wholesome and closer to what God created for us to eat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A First

For as long as we have been married and had our own place, DH and I have always put out garbage and recyling. This is the first week we never put out a single bag. Yay for us! Our garbage bag was maybe a quarter full, paper was the same and other recyclables was about a third full. I was so pleased. We did, of course, put out compost. We do all week long or there is bit of an, errr, stink problem.

I tried scrubbing the floor with with Dr. Bonners (peppermint) in hot water with a splash of vinegar and a little lemon essential oil. I don't know what I did wrong but it stunk! Even before I added the lemon it smelled bad. I wasn't happy with how it worked at all. I ended up spraying the floor as I scrubbed with my orange lysol/vinegar/water concoction because it didn't work well either. I'll have to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I did end up doing some grocery shopping this week, but spent way, way less than I usually do. I'm going second hand shopping with mom and the kids, but I don't expect to buy much, if anything. We never do anything together so it was hard to say no. I have my cloth bags ready to go just in case :)

A Carload

Here we have a car load of clothes that are being taken away and donated. There are 6 garbage bags! Including the clothes that I have saved to give to people, this means 8 huge garbage bags of clothes have left my house in the past week. Whoo hoo! The decluttering is underway. Now DH and I have to go through our clothes and pare them down. The kids are given a lot of clothes. Poor mommy doesn't even get to buy them clothes anymore. Now less laundry fo me to do, yay!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bathroom BS

Baking soda is marvelous in the bathroom. I have been using it to wash my hair with for the past week and my hair has never been better. As a test, I went 4 days without washing my hair and it did not get greasy at all (a big problem with my hair). It feels thicker (I have thinning hair), it is not falling out by the handfull anymore and is easier to deal with. I'm so excited!

I've also concocted a "pit paste" to use as deodorant. I mix a couple of drops of Burt's Bees baby almond oil (left over from when the kids were babies) with some baking soda, rub into arm pits and it makes a very effective deodorant. It even stands up to working out and hot days with no odor. I love it! The rock deodorant used to crack my sensitive skin so I was wary of using it but I think I am sold on my new pit paste :D

Baking soda can be used for teeth but I am not ready to give up my cinnamon toothpaste. I don't like how baking soda feels in my mouth but I will switch when the toothpaste is gone.

Cloth TP is going great. I have an embarassing confession. I usually go through a roll of regular TP in a day. Two days for a double roll. I go a lot. The good news is our roll of toilet paper has been on the roll for over a week and it is still more than half full. The rest of the family uses it so it's kind of embarassing that I was using so much. I'm so glad I can prevent all that from being flushed down! Now to convert the rest of the family!

Friday, April 20, 2007

New Blog

The last thing I need is another blog, but what can I do :). I decided to keep a blog in cahoots with this one about food and eating. Yes, these are great loves of mine, which would be apparant if you could see me, lol!

Here's the link:

I will post recipes and food tips that are simple, frugal or just very yummy.

Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day, perfect for hanging clothes out to dry. Of course, even when the weather isn't so nice, we still hang up clothes. We have 4 wooden racks, a tall metal rack, the side of the crib we never used propped between the dryer that collects dust and the old change table plus a clothesline strung across the basement. It can get very humid here and take days to dry clothes so that is why we have so many. Plus it's not often the weather is nice enough to hang out as we live by the ocean and are often plagued with fog, rain and very damp days, even if it's not foggy or rainy.

For drying inside, cloth diapers are the worst. When both kids were in diapers 24/7, it seemed we were always doing diaper laundry. Now, thankfully, they just need them at night but I still aim to wash every two days to also launder the cloth TP and my pads.

I love using the dryer, don't get me wrong, but I hate knowing what an energy hog it is. When the power bill goes up, you know that the world's resources are going down.

Lots of people wonder about stiff, crinkly clothes and we don't have much of a problem. I always give the clothes a couple of good shakes before hanging out and that seems to help. On occasion I use a tiny bit of fabric softener (I admit, I love the smell) and some people use vinegar, but I don't find it necessary.

In a nearby city, there are communities which have actually banned being able to hang clothes outside as it was once deemed unsightly and a sign of poverty. I'm guessing this isn't uncommon. NDP MLA Howard Epstein introduced a bill to stop the restrictive rules in subdivisions that ban clotheslines. They actually had him on the news one night hanging up his laundry :). Bravo for stepping up and making people aware that even small changes can have a huge impact! I'm wondering how many houses you could power if everyone in North America stopped using the dryer.

Editorial about this.
Here are some comments people had.

So if it's nice where you live, go hang out some clothes!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let the Fast Begin!

The car was....$716!!! The killer was nearly $100 in tax, so I guess their estimate was close. Ouch ouch ouch..... It's always amazing to me the impulse to go shopping after being hit with a large bill we can't afford. I did stop to a dollar store and get a couple of $1 stamp pads, some craft items & 2 pairs of fake crocs ($3! I've been wearing my fake ones for ages and wanted another pair since they're nice for walking; one's a b-day gift for DS) and at the grocery store I bought 50lbs potatoes, 2 bags of carrots, 2 bags of apples, a big bag of sweet peppers, yogurt for starter (I want to start making my own again), 4 cans of frozen juice concentrate, 3 bulbs of garlic and a loaf of bread. I spent well under $30 total ($15 at one, $10 at the other) and this should keep us going a while.

Let it begin.

304 Bottles and $600 or so

Ok, so the two in the title aren't really related but in a way they are.

We gathered up most of the bottles we had been saving to collect the deposit and there were 304, which meant just over $15 for us. 7 big bags of waste gone out of our basement! I can't say they are all ours as my father often brings us his empty bottles but I think by not buying canned or bottled juice, water or pop anymore, we will save a lot of space, money and health. That said we still have lots of containers about that contain something in them so I'm sure we'll have another trip soon to the enviro depot.

The other issue is what looks to be an approximate $600 car repair bill. People, maintain your vehicles! It pays in the long run. I hope it won't be that much but I am going to assume it will end up being more.

Because of this new huge bill, we are going to do a spending diet. For the next month, we are only going to buy the bare necessities. We will need one tank of gas since we're almost on empty so there's a good $60 right there. I'm going to allot $5 a week for bare necessity produce and eggs (meaning a dozen eggs, a couple pounds of bananas and maybe a marked down veggie). I'm also going to allot $20 to buy the food for DS's birthday party. I'm making his cake and salads, which we'll have stuff for, plus other people are bringing things, so basically hot dogs and buns. We have birthdays to attend but we're going to try to make the gifts (gulp!). Other than this, I'd say emergency medication if someone gets very sick or if something comes up but this is rare for us. We will live off our food storage and seek out things we can do for free or cheap. I have warned the kids but I'm sure we'll have to remind them daily because they love to shop (wonder where they get that from, lol!!!).

Now, the kids are off with their grandmother for the afternoon and I will be alone for supper. I now have the overwhelming urge to eat out. Don't give in!! Don't give in!!!! If the care is done before 5pm, I have some shopping I have to do that was part of our weekly groceries (including a 50lbs pound bag of potatoes for only $3.99 and a big bag of apples for less than $2) and get gas, then I'll be ready to let the non-spending fun begin!

Going Shopping

This is sometimes the first place we can generate the greatest change. We have to evaluate our shopping habits. Every time we pick something up, some of the questions we should ask ourselves are, "Do I NEED this? If I buy this, will I use it? How often will I use it? Will it enrich my life? Will it end up being something I resent for taking up space and wasting valuable resources? Why do I want it? Can I live without it?" and so on. I find with a lot of items, I don't even get past the do I need it. Quite often it is something I can live without.

For example. The kids LOVE shopping at Dollarama, the place where everything costs a dollar. I usually say they can each get a toy. One will usually get a book and the other a piece of junk that barely makes it home. This week I managed to talk the child with the junky toy into getting toy furniture that we could go home, put together then paint. After spending 5 minutes talking him into it and out of the goopy stuff we could make at home (lol, persistent preschoolers!), we moved on. I started grabbing things I thought I needed, you know that lovely impulse shopping bug. Some things not so bad like a big roll of kraft paper for me to make wrapping paper (so much more paper on a roll than wrapping paper and I have the fun of stamping it :) ) and a pedometer, which I want to track my steps since I want to get to 10000 a day (and far exceeded it yesterday, yay!). However the lure of the summer isle was almost too much to bear. I started forgetting I wanted to be simple. That evil impuse attractively dressed in things we want. As we walked to the checkout, I started giving DH things to put away and by the time we paid, we truly had the things we needed. After we left, I told the kids we were not going there any more and if they wanted Dollarama junk, they would have to get their grandmothers to buy it. I probably shouldn't of said that though.

I know my need for stuff comes from being poor as a child. It's not that we didn't have a lot of stuff but I was always scared there wouldn't be more so I would hoard what I had. I don't want my children to think that. I want them to grow up appreciating the simplicity in having little but appreciating what they have. DH and I are both pack rats and it's hard letting go. People are always giving us stuff and it's hard to say no, but we have to start. We are so scared of hurting people's feelings that we end up suffering. Our parents give us bags of stuff almost weekly, mostly clothes for the kids. Our darling children could clothe about 10 children with the excess and do not need more clothing. Our pleas of "No more" fall on deaf ears. I think most will henceforth be donated to people who really need it, or at least something will be in it's place if it's something really nice ;)

I kind of went off track there, but I think there's a lot to be said for really thinking about what you are buying. A little here and there adds up over time. Are you bringing in more than you're putting out? If you are trying to simplify, more should be going out than what you are bringing in.

Right now, I am waiting for the weather to warm so I can have a massive yard sale. However I daily look at all I want to get rid of and wonder....will I last that long? I want this out of the house. The clothes I have no problem giving away but I would like to recoup some of my loss by selling the good stuff. We don't get tax credit here like they do in the states (plus we give our max in charitable donations in other ways so it wouldn't help). After I have sold what I want to, THEN the big purge will begin.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Every Journey Begins With A Single Step

I have been living elements of simple living without really pulling it all together. I guess Simple Living might not be the proper term for what I am doing, but rather what the end result will be. I wish to live a greener life. To tread lightly upon the earth and raise enviromentaly responsible children. I want to lessen our footprints upon the earth and give back some of what we have taken.

This is taken from another blog of mine with the gist of some of my goals:

  • No more using store bags. We will bring cloth bags or totes when we do our shopping.
  • No more buying chemical cleaners. When what we have runs out, we will use natural alternatives (I will be giving away most of the cleaners we have, except the Tide Free we just got and dish detergent, which I will find hard to give up). Vinegar, baking soda and essential oils expected to be mainstays and I'm going to try to find Dr. Bonner's soap somewhere.
  • Moving towards natural body care. I would like to go shampoo free and start using natural soaps. Eventually move towards natural toothpaste or baking soda. We have rock deodorant but I never think to use it.
  • Cloth for bathroom use. TP is a huge expense and I feel bad as I flush so much of it down. When I read how many forests are clear cut in the name of disposable paper products, it makes me sick. We're also going to stop using disposable diapers (we usually don't use them, but DS has been getting rashes with cloth at night. We'll just use liners. The biggest size is getting hard to get around his hips anyway plus DD wants to wear them too so even just 2 a night adds up over time). I also totally use cloth for menstration now.
  • No disposable paper products. We've actually been doing pretty good with this anyway. We always use cloth napkins and I probably go through a small roll of paper towel every couple of months, but it's just as easy to use cloth.
  • Walk more. I need to anyway as it's good for my health. Plus if we walk to shop, we will buy less. I would love to go car free but it would be limiting not to go farther than we can walk with the kids (like parks, beaches, vacations, to visit parents, shop at stores out of town, ect...). Maybe someday :)
  • Buy less. We don't need as much stuff as we have. We need to stop buying things we only use once or twice and end up in the garbage. This is really hard with the kids as they love dollar store junk. Buy quality over quantity. Buy second hand when possible.
  • Replace all lightbulbs with the energy efficient ones. This we have mostly done. I am noticing a few that weren't changed that I will do soon. It really does make a difference.
  • Be more energywise. Shut off lights not being used, unplug things not being used, turn off computer moniters when not in use, make better use of cooking heat, use crockpot more, ect..
  • Hang all clothes to dry. This is way easier than it sounds. We save a ton of money by doing it too. We could probably easily get rid of the dryer, but I hate to.
  • Be more diligent in recycling and cutting down garbage. Right now, we have an elaborate system for our garbage so we have to. Garbage goes in clear bags, paper goes in a blue bag, other recyclables go in another bag and we have a compost bin. I would love to only have to put garbage out every other week or once a month (other than compost).
  • Eat healthier. I am trying to make all our own foods and cut out buying processed junk. Thing is we have a lot of that in the house in our year's supply of storage. I'm trying to find the middle ground. I would eventually like to go vegetarian but the thought scares DH, lol! I would like to go more organic but our budget can't really handle it with the cost of food around here. Eventually!!!
  • Garden. We are attempting to garden. The kids each have a planter they have planted a veggie they like in it and I have prepared an area out front for planting if the weather ever warms up. MIL said we could have a little patch of their garden to put some things in too.
  • Use the library more instead of buying so many books.
  • Reuse items or donate to charity if still in good condition but not needed. Reduce the clutter by at least half....and then some more.
Ok, this is not everything I want to do but it's a start. The hardest thing for me is giving up the books. Since we homeschool and the kids and I are bookworms, we'll have to find some middle ground. I have already started using the library a lot more and buying a lot less. I'm sure we could get rid of a lot of books if we tried.

I guess what I will be doing is blogging about the steps that we are taking and explain in more detail what we are doing and why. In short, I think we can be happier with less. I know I would personally be happier dealing with less mess and clutter, lol!