home life, money, natural living

Living Without Air Conditioning

I’m not.

Living without air conditioning, that is. So I guess this title is clickbait, sorry!

I tried to live without air conditioning. My yard gets nice sun and my windows let in a nice amount of natural light, but overall my house stays pretty cool. I had a new heating and cooling system put in about two years ago – a major investment, but worth it because there has been a noticeable drop in my utility bills, while my house still stays at an enjoyable temperature.

This spring I had two ceiling fans added into the house. The 2 bedrooms and back playroom already had fans with light fixtures. The living room didn’t have anything – we used two wall mounted lamps and a floor lamp in the corner for meager light. My “office” had a chandelier, because it was technically a dining room. Slight digression for the glorious Mitch Hedberg:

I just bought a 2-bedroom house, but I think I get to decide how many bedrooms there are, don’t you? “F*(% you, real estate lady! This bedroom has an oven in it! This bedroom’s got a lot of people sitting around watching TV. This bedroom’s over in that guy’s house! Sir, you have one of my bedrooms, are you aware? Don’t decorate it!”

I hated the chandelier, and wanted to get a cool light fixture to spruce up my office, but then I figured since I was switching out the fixture already, why not get a practical fan?

So I did. I bought the most basic white builder’s fan for my office, and a slightly more stylish white fan for the living room. The living room didn’t have anything on the ceiling other than that lovely popcorn finish, so I had to hire electricians. They went up in the attic and drilled and cut and wired and did their thing very quickly and efficiently, and switched out my office chandelier, and voila! I had a fan in every room but the kitchen.

Having ceiling fans everywhere, and a window in every room that could open, made me think I could live without air conditioning until June 1st. That was my goal. Think of the low, low utility bill! Think of how empowered I would feel, beating the system, living life au natural!

Cue getting ready for bed, slightly sweaty, looking at the thermostat – 78 degrees! Oh my god, I’m not going to last! What day is it? It was May 2nd. I kept thinking I wasn’t going to make it…

 

donating, fun, home life

Let the Music Do the Talking

I used to have a HUGE music collection. As a teenager, there was nothing I loved more than spending my money on CDs. This was that weird period where CD and cassette singles were being phased out, but iTunes wasn’t up and running to buy whatever individual songs you wanted. There was Napster, sure (wow am I dating myself…), but you ran the risk of downloading something that was 3 minutes of static instead of the song, or even worse, a virus that could kill your computer. What a time to be alive!

Instead, I’d go to Best Buy (I can’t stand them now because of all the time I spent there as a teen) and buy an $18 CD. I always made myself listen to the whole album… kinda. I would start it and listen to all the songs before the radio single (which always seems to be track 3 or 4). Then I’d usually be hooked on those songs and keep going back to re-listen. Which was actually ok, because then I had “new” music to listen to later, when I finally listened to the last half of the album!

Cut to present day. I decided to upload all of my music onto my computer and give away most of my CDs. I kept all of my favorite bands’ albums, and some bootlegs and rare stuff. Even some CD singles, believe it or not! (I still have a few cassettes in my car from when my tape player worked – RIP.)

I still buy music, but through iTunes. No liner notes to read over as the album plays – so sad! Did anyone else love doing that? If I buy a record from a favorite artist, it will come with a digital download code, so I download and import into iTunes.

My laptop died about a year ago; I was sad, but thought “oh well.” I logged into iTunes on my desktop and voila – over half my music was gone! Apple support told me that those albums had been downloaded onto my hard drive, not into iTunes – even though I imported all of the music into iTunes.

Is this common knowledge? If not, I’m an idiot and missed it somehow. But I feel like this is not really advertised. Of course, there is the whole issue of you not really “owning” the music you buy through iTunes like you would “own” a CD, so I’m pretty confused about all of that. But I digress.

Luckily I backed up my computers regularly, including my iTunes folders, so I still have most or all of the albums as digital files on my external hard drive. But if I hadn’t done that, just thinking “Since they’re in my iTunes account, they’ll link up anywhere!”, then I would be out a WHOLE lot of music.

In the long run, it wouldn’t REALLY matter, because I don’t know what albums I’m missing. I could go through it all and check, but that won’t happen. What usually happens is I’m dying to hear a certain song, scroll around, and realize it’s not on my iPod. (Yes I still have an iPod.) Then I get sad, but I usually just find it on YouTube or look for it on my external drive if I remember by the time I get home.

I got rid of a lot of CDs and am very proud of that – compare my collections! This was my collection in high school/college – sorry for the blurriness, but you can get a good idea of how many CDs I owned!

cdsold

I think my mom gave me this card catalog when I moved into my first apartment. All of those drawers used to be filled with CDs, with others stacked on top. I have more CDs than shown here – each drawer holds about 18 – which is a LOT! And I don’t even have a CD player, besides my computer. But they hold memories and I can’t let go yet, so at least they are nicely organized and out of the way.

cdsnow

Next up: getting rid of records!

 

 

home life, money, natural living, shopping, year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally

The A to Z Challenge brought me into contact with a lot of amazing people and interesting blogs. One of my favorites is Martha Reynolds Writes. I love reading about people changing their lives, and I loved interacting with her about different ideas relating to going green and minimalizing your life.

I was inspired by her project “The Year of Living Minimally” – so much that I’m doing it, too.

I’ve described my history in a nutshell, and have been documenting my actions of the past several months. I have been getting rid of a lot of unnecessary belongings. I have been trying to save money however I can. I have been trying to be more green with my purchases and my actions. I am changing my home life and my view of consumerism.

This project won’t go for just a year, especially considering it’s already started and I plan to live this way for the rest of my life. I just want to hold myself accountable and actually document the changes I’ve made. I only wish I had pictures of how cluttered my house used to be… But this is still a great starting point.

I’ll check in every Monday summarizing what happened the week before!

home life, natural living, school, working

Zero Waste

I mentioned the Zero Waste Home on my Inspiration link up, but only wrote a blip about the site. When I discovered it back in 2010, it really affected my thinking and my lifestyle. I was really into blogs back then, following friends and personal blogs and lifestyle blogs, and I even followed some fashion bloggers, believe it or not! These were more alternative bloggers who bought from thrift stores or had capsule wardrobes or did 30 day challenges… Attainable fashion, basically. Even those sold out, though some have come back pretty level-headed. But I digress.

The Zero Waste Home made me conscious of what I used and how I disposed of it. Since then, I have noticed how much trash I bring home from the grocery store in terms of packaging. And how much paper schools waste with busy work or “art” just to have something to show, to keep the kids busy, or to hit numbers and create “meaningful” data. It’s all pretty disgusting, but it’s hard to keep it away.

I wrote about Valentine’s cards and how I thought they were wasteful, but what can you do? Everything about consumerism and waste is so mainstream, so ingrained in everything, that it’s hard to break free. I sometimes still feel societal pressure about things as an adult, so I certainly don’t want my son to feel uncomfortable or mocked because his mom hates recycling the art papers that are sent home with him, or anything along those lines.

Going Zero Waste within the home is easy enough – we are keeping track of our trash vs our recycling and seeing how much we get rid of each week. We are trying to cut down on what we bring in in the first place. And I think it’s important to speak up and tell others we don’t want what they are offering us, like a free plastic toothbrush at the dentist when we buy our own compostable toothbrushes. But in a setting like school, or the workplace, things get a bit harder.

Do you have this problem with your workplace or at your kids’ school? How do you work around it? Are you vocal and just hope your kids go with it? Do you consider working at home and/or homeschooling your kids as an alternative?

Let’s get deep on the last letter of the alphabet, hm?

food, home life, natural living

Yeast

Both of my grandmothers used to make sourdough bread every week. One would make crusty loaves, and one made tray after tray of rolls to take to all of her social functions. My mom would occasionally borrow a cup of the starter to make loaves and rolls for our family. Sometimes she even made homemade cinnamon rolls – yum!

When I was in my 20s, soon after I bought my house, I decided I wanted to make bread, too. It seemed so domestic, but also I loved the taste of the bread so I wanted to have the power of making it for myself! I made the starter based on my grandmother’s instructions, and fed it every week, and made bread every week. At the time I had a great job and my coworkers were all like family, so I would make bread for myself, then take all the rest to them. They loved the rolls and would often ask when I would be making the next batch.

I stopped not long after I met my husband, because it was a lot to keep up with, and I wasn’t eating the bread anymore. I love making bread for others and making them happy through food, but it was too much effort. Not long after that I had a tough pregnancy and then had a kid, so making bread hasn’t really happened since then.

My husband found a recipe for ice cream bread and made that once, but it was too dense and dry for me. Lately I’ve found myself craving the fluffy, moist, crusty sourdough I used to make. I want the habit of feeding and making bread again, too, but I also know I can’t really take on a new “chore” with everything going on right now. I might have to find a different recipe, a bread I can make once a month instead of having to maintain weekly.

Do you have a favorite bread recipe?

home life, natural living

X

X… is this always the hardest letter? I know there are words that start with X that you can pull out in Scrabble or toss into an academic paper to blow your professor away (or convince them that you are using a thesaurus…), but X words to base a blog post around?

All I can think of is X marks the spot. Buried treasure? Maybe. Someday. Eventually. Right now, it’s just an X over the round little area where we planted our first garden.

ximage

 

home life, natural living

Vinegar

My grandmother had The Vinegar Book, actually a booklet, for as long as I can remember. It’s now mine, and I love remembering her as I thumb through the pages.

Seven years ago I went “no poo”, meaning I used baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair. That works when it’s long, but with my short haircut I found it didn’t work as well. I’m growing my hair out now, so I’m eager to try again. It cuts down on expenses a lot – not that shampoo is too expensive, but it can be if your hair is long! Also, I always have baking soda and vinegar around, so I’m never in danger of running out of shampoo.

I use vinegar to clean pretty much everything. It’s great to clean off kitchen counters without using harsh bleach-based cleaners. I soak my menstrual cup in vinegar to clean it between uses. I add a few drops of essential oil to vinegar and water and use it as the “wet” solution for my Swiffer mop. My mom crocheted a reusable pad that I dip in the cleaning mixture before mopping my kitchen floors. Then just rinse it out and throw it in with your next load of laundry.

I used to drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water every morning. You can drink it cold or mix it with warm water and honey and sip it like a tea. I’ve tried both and they both seemed to help me feel better in the mornings; I felt more alert and my joints moved more smoothly. I tried the capsules for awhile because it was easier to pop a pill than sip a drink, but I never reordered when I ran out. I should probably go back to drinking it – I always felt the benefits immediately.

There are plenty of other uses and benefits of vinegar in my grandmother’s booklet; I need to look over them all and see how I can incorporate them into my daily life to go more natural. How do you use vinegar?