Sunday, May 3, 2009

Blueberry Bushes

Sitting in my garage are six blueberry bushes. We purchased them at our local gardening supply store. I am excited to plant them on my next day off. But, I discovered that I will have to display years of patience in order to sample the sweet fruit pictured on the tags. Apparently, once blueberry bushes are planted you are not suppose to allow them to bear fruit for 3 years!

Check back later this week. I plan to post complete with pictures when the project is complete.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seed to Seed Challenge

For me, change is a process. I tend to think about something for a long time before I actually try it.

This has been the case with planting my own garden. For over a year now I have thought about, talked about it and even coveted others gardens...but no more. It is time to move on with planning and doing. I have decided that this is the year!

Since this is my first garden, I don't have seeds of my own to start with. So, when my niece showed up selling the local farmer's market seeds via a fund-raiser flyer, I jumped at the opportunity purchase herb and vegetable seed packets. Thanks to Cassidy, I am not only one step closer to harvesting my own vegetables but I have also supported two great causes...with just one transaction.

As the planting and growing season progresses I plan to post about it here. Will you follow along?

Care to check out the Seed to Seed Challenge? Here is the link:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

MIA - Pellet Stove, Computer

First my computer went kaput. Then the pellet stove stopped working (right after we purchased additional pellets...of course). Needless to say I have missed both. Especially the pellet stove. The house is not as comfortable as it has been all winter. And too, the furnace runs a lot more now (even though it is warmer outside now than it was during the winter months). The pellet stove makes more of a difference than even I had given it credit for.

Apparently the kind of pellet stove we installed has had a couple of issues. Fortunately, we have only had trouble with the igniter. We have ordered a new part but with no guarantee of when it will come in. When we placed the order for a replacement igniter the salesman informed us that the manufacturer has discontinued our stove. So we will be ordering additional parts to have on hand.

On the flip side, though, the solar system is working quiet well. In fact, with the bright sunny days we have had of late, the system warmed to maximum capacity (and it's only March)! This morning we discovered the delay setting on our dishwasher, which means we can load it up and set the timer to take advantage of the solar heated water later in the day, even if we are not home. Cool, huh?

The electric bill came in yesterday...and our usage continues to shrink. In March of 2008 we utilized 522 kilowatts. And in March 2009 we utilized 437 kilowatts. I am still anxious to see what June brings. I will keep you posted!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Step One - Green Inside Challenge

Yikes! Sometimes you turn over a rock and wish you had not. But, alas, ignorance will not help the health of my family or the Earth.

So I started the Green Inside challenge tonight by reading more into the blog postings. I found this link which offers information about personal care and household products which are less toxic. Careful though, some of the information is scary!

The good news is that there are some readily available substitutes. So, I will soon be looking into my cabinets and reporting back here to let you know what I will be weeding out and replacing.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm Green Inside Challenge

A friend once challenged my lame excuses for not recycling. I wanted to recycle, I had done so in the past, but I had failed to do it.

What were my perceived barriers?
1. I had a compact car.
2. I had a child who required carrying around.
3. My city no longer offered curb-side pick up.
4. I had never seen the recycling center itself; I was unsure what to expect. (I just couldn't imagine how would I lug her on one hip and manage the bins all at the same time?)

After examining my perceived barriers, I outlined a plan. I shopped and purchased bins which would fit in the trunk of our car. Then I did a drive by of the recycling center. Much to my relief, I noted that I could park in front of the recycling bins. This meant I could leave my daughter in her car seat and recycle with ease. This small success led to a desire to do more for the environment.

I set up a compost bin. It was amazing how little trash we produced with the combination of recycling and composting. We went from two trash containers each week to 1 small bag instead. It felt good to throw away less. Of note: At Crunchy Chicken's blog there is an interesting post about food waste contributing to 50% of the land fill and its contribution to global warming.

Then I purchased the "green" household cleaners. They were expensive, but it felt like the right thing to do. Then the cost of food and fuel skyrocketed. As the aforementioned friend said to me "I am all for taking care of the Earth, but I need to take care of my household (budget) first". And I had to agree at the time; feeding my family healthy food and paying the bills meant more to me too.

Tonight while perusing my favorite blogs, I found the above "I'm Green Inside" challenge. And I got to thinking, maybe it is time to revisit the work I started before. I plan to utilize this blog to document my progress. Perhaps you will follow along?

Curious about this challenge? Visit:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Paying Attention

I am ashamed to say...up until recently, my mindset has been to look at my pay stub in terms of the "government's portion" (taxes) and "my portion" (what's left over). And since I am so busy just managing the "left over", I don't spend a lot of time analyzing where the "government's portion" goes. Well, that is not entirely true...I guess I did have thoughts like "Social Security and Medicare tax...okay, well...I'll never see that money again, so guess I better start a 403(b) for my own retirement...and more recently,...oops, there goes my retirement fund, guess I better start stuffing cash under the mattress.... Hmmm...anyone else see a pattern here?

AND since our Nation is borrowing trillions of dollars to fund bank, insurance and auto industry bailouts, not to mention huge stimulus packages...I guess it is past time to pay attention...but better late than never.

President Obama has promised transparency in government spending. If you are interested in where your tax dollars (both present and future) will be spent...check it out: also provides a link (look for the map of the U.S.) to each state's website where you can track how recovery funds are being spent in your own state.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Compact Florescent Light Bulbs

I realize that it is probably (okay, definitely) odd that someone would be excited about their electric bill, but I am. Here is why.

Over the summer we decided to install ceiling fans (to reduce cooling and heating costs). We also decided to change out all of the light bulbs in the house to compact florescent light bulbs (CFL bulbs). The CFL bulb costs were offset due to rebate offers, which made them an ever better investment.

Last year at this time we were running a furnace to heat our home to a mere 64 degrees (okay, 68 when the "heat miser" was at work) and our hot water. We also periodically ran some small ceramic space heaters to warm our family room. Total kilowatt hours: 822.

This year we are running a pellet stove (75 degrees daytime and 83 degrees overnight), ceiling fans, CFL bulbs and the solar system pump and no ceramic space heaters. Total kilowatt hours: 492.

I am just floored! I cannot wait to see what the kilowatt usage in April will be as that was our pre-solar and CFL bulbs period and lowest kilowatts usage at 365.