Wednesday, September 29, 2010

quick update

We did accomplish something....we sealed the wood in the master bathroom, and started building the wall to separate the arctic entry from the green house. We are also slowly getting more and more things put away and organized.

Everything takes longer then you expect. Some "miracle workers" multiplied all his expectations by 3. I can see why.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

kissing energy assistance good bye

It felt nice to throw away the application for energy assistance today.

For 2 years that program saved our butts but helping us pay our whopping heating bills. Last year I got the application in early and received almost $2000 in aid. This of course did nothing to help us long term but just was a "bandaid" help. But bandaids are useful.

However, this year I happily threw it away. My house should no longer require high heating bills.
That is because we have the new house with 12" of insulation on each wall and every window is doubled windowed. We also have ground water in floor heating instead of propane forced air.

So we haven't even tried to heat this place. It has been on the 40s at night and we just close a few windows a little farther (most are still opened a crack). And by morning the house is toasty enough that you don't mind crawling out of bed. Body heat of 8 of us really does a sufficient job so far. If we start to get chilled I can bake something. That would heat us up too. (which is why I avoid baking in the summer).

Thank you energy assistance for all your help, but I am now free of fossil fuels in my house (if I pay for all wind electricity). Go help the cold heart-ed oil companies further by helping other cold people stay warm in under insulated houses.

Everyone should have an ARC.
ps- Paul, you need to use links about arcs on your site.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

excuses, excuses

I am attempting to get the energy to move and do useful things each day besides that laundry. I have the laundry down to a science that it will run day and night with out stop even with out much energy input from me. This is useful because even on the days when all we eat around here are PB sandwhiches, at least we have clean clothes to eat them in.

I always have plans of what I want to do next. I want to seal the wood work in the master bathroom and organize the playground sandbox construction and organize all the clothes in Shannon's room (and Mike's too), but so far all I have been able to accomplish this week is to get the kids on the bus in the morning and organize my personal clothes. That is a start, half of my bedroom looks a lot better now.

I guess as far as excuses go, I have several. First of all I am pregnant, and growing babies take lots of work. Have you ever grown a human being? This baby is taking a little more energy then I remember the other ones doing, because ether my memory is getting faulty or I am getting older and should leave the baby having to the 20 something year olds.

And secondly, I have allergies this fall. Which is utterly bizarre, being that the only allergies I have ever had were in Utah, and when you are breathing for two and can't use your nose, it gets a lot tougher.

And thirdly my beautiful toddler has taken on allergies or a cold of her own and hasn't slept for nights. She is finally now asleep (thanks to a Tylenol and a benadryl)- so I should take this opportunity and try to catch up on mine.

On the positive side my husband finishes his semester this week and will have 3 weeks off of school before the next semster starts. I think I can talk him into building me a wall for my arctic entry and even a few shelves or two. I think the arctic entry is a very good priority for September. Because the next time he will have time to build something major it will be Christmas vacation. (and it could be cold by then)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mission near impossible

In otherwords: we finished putting our playset together today.

Like any good job it took a trip to a hardware store and twice as long as we had origionally planned.

The sand box isn't made yet. That will take some more big truck work to move logs and bring in play sand.

Eventhough we have our playset and more then a dozen new shrubbery, the most important thing I did this week to add value to our house was to get the kids off to school this week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

need for pics

Pictures really help me tell a story, but I have yet to play with my computer enough to get picture capabilities on here... it is coming, as I may actually have a chance to deal with my computer now that the kids finally went back to school.

Anyways, to tell a story without pictures, last night we had the young men and young women (youth group) from our church come out and join us for an evening of work. The young men helped Mike put together the swing set. (not quite done yet, but much closer) and the young women planted a retaining wall full of shrubbery, lilacs and roses.

It is a amazing how much a swing set helps get kids outside. They begin to almost believe that there is something besides computer games that were designed to keep them entertained.

The swing set went in the front yard where all of our attempts to grow grass has failed this summer. It could be a very natural place for a sandbox. I am debated weather or not it is useful to put down a weed barrier where there has been no chance of growing anything yet.

The pictures are on facebook.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Austerity Measures

Many world goverments have now seen the need for austerity measures for their financial sakes, but I see a need for austerity measures for the earth's sake. If we all cut back, we can not just live better, but we will be able to breathe better, eat better, and work with the earth better.

The folks at Riot 4 Austerity know this and set up a pretty awesome website that can help you calculate your resource usage and help you set goals for your austerity measures. The main goal is to cut our usage down to 10% of the average American's.

For my family that means:

Using about 60 gallons of gas per month. This is about 1/3rd of what we are currently using.
How to do this? Well, biking and walking locally will be a big part of this goal, which is why we moved to town. On average we already save ourselves 20 miles per day of driving just by being in town. (that is about 40 gallons per month already cut).

Electricity usage goal is 500 kwts per month of solar/wind. Since we moved this spring, I haven't had a good look at our electic bill, but if I remember right we run about 1250 per month at our old house, and that is about a 25% cut of what we were doing. How can we do that? Well, I work hard on watching the lights and TV (we have it on a power strip to turn off and save lots of money on the prewarmed screen issues), I hang out clothes to dry when ever it is not raining and have considered living without a fridge, but not seriously yet.

Heating and cooking fuels: we currently use none. It is hard to reduce this number any further, but by the shear act of moving into a house that uses groundwater heat and is well insulated we save 300 gallons a month (on average) of heating fuel. I love that! Those heating costs now come in the form of electricity, but we have yet to test a winter here.

The garbage goal is less then 3 pounds per day for the house. That will be much easier when we get our compost bins running. The rest of the garbage is mostly packaging for stuff and Ian's pull ups (he has medical issues, and I bet those pull ups can weight 3 pounds each. I wonder what ecological alternative I can use instead? Any ideas?)

I will not be watching water usage- because we use local ground water and have no lack of water around here.... this year I see no value in that challenge for us. That being said, I still watch for drips and any water wastage. We still pay to pump it :)

Stuff purchasing: our goal is to spend less then $50/week on stuff for the family. This includes about $25 in new and $25 in used merchandise. For the month it is about $200 for stuff. Becasue of budget restraints this sounds almost generous... however in reality we probably spend about $400 per month on stuff. Most of this is clothes and toys, and a nice majority is second hand (I love garage sale season). That means we will try to reduce that by 50%

Food stuffs: the goals here is to source about 70% of our foods local and sustainable foods. To me this is anything grown local, or organic in my book. Currently we do about 30-40% of our food local and sustainable... in the summer this jumps to 50-60%. As I get our gardens and orchards going, this will increase.

As you can see, we have our goals cut out for us, but immagine the fun.

We have fun canning pickles as a family, and peaches, and tomatoes. We also have fun hanging out laundry in the sun, and talking walks and playing board games rather then watching TV.

Austerity doesn't have to be bad. It is probably hard on a consumer based economy, but generally very good on health and family life. Give it a try and see if you can be happier and healthier by reducing your usages.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

a good night

Well, I thought that if I waited until my kids were alseep, and my other chores were done then I might be able to sit down and write a thoughtful post. Perhaps one on what my husband is researching regarding food and depression, or on the value of physical labor in a computer potato society.

Sure enough, though, the kids didn't all sleep... they are watching the movie my hubby put in for us to watch, while he snores and I type.

and after picking up and sweeping the house, pottying Ian and changing laundry, making beds, then I had to feed the baby.... and when my belly was full my brain begun to fuzz out with thoughts of warm covers on cool nights.

Physical labor in a cool breeze is good for getting to sleep at night. The boys I had out there today with rakes and shovels are asleep- the rest are not. May you be blessed to sweat and sleep.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"There will always be plenty of work, most of it unpaid, but there may not be too many jobs left." Dimitry Orlov