Making your home a little greener

Would you like to “green” your living space? Maybe you aren’t sure where to start. A good idea is to start slowly – it may not be a good idea just to pitch out everything “non-green” and then go out and replace it. A good place to start might be a particular room. Here are some easy steps for greening your living space.

1. Turn lights off when you leave a room, but also wait before turning them on. Many times, there is plenty of daylight in a room and we turn lights on out of habit rather than need.

2. Put timers on your home’s lamps. These inexpensive little devices can be purchased at most home improvement stores, and they can help save a bundle by turning lamps off and on at predetermined intervals.

3. Houseplants not only add literal green to your living space; they also help clean the air. Spider plant, English ivy, various palms, and ficus species have reputations as being good air cleaners. There are many more, too.

4. If you have carpeting, see if you can pull it up and use the natural wood floors beneath. If you don’t have wood floors beneath your carpet, you can put down linoleum (a natural flooring option that is not to be confused with synthetic vinyl flooring) or recycled/recyclable floor tiles.

5. When you clean, try using natural or homemade cleaners rather than chemical-based ones. Even if you don’t think the chemical cleaners are potentially harmful, the cleaners themselves are not “green” because they are not biodegradable. They must be disposed of carefully and in a particular way.

Natural cleaners, such as white vinegar, baking soda, and almond oil (for wood surfaces and furniture) do not have hazardous warnings on their containers, and are not considered “harmful or fatal if swallowed.”

6. Invest in a good broom and sweep your floors regularly, saving vacuuming for once a week or so. This saves electricity.

7. If you’re in the market for new furniture, consider buying antiques or other used items. If you want to buy new items, look for furniture made from sustainable woods, such as bamboo or mango.

8. Make sure your insulation is up to date, and that windows and doors are sealed against air leaks in the wintertime.

9. In the summer, try using fans in the night and early morning to draw cool air in; then move the fans out of the windows late in the morning before the temperature heats up.

10. Make use of the winter sunlight in the winter, and shade your windows with curtains and blinds in the summer. Awnings are another option for keeping out the hot summer sun.

Posted in Your beautiful home | 2,529 Comments

Time to colour my hair

Mkay seriously my hair grows so fast it’s crazy!!  I know that’s supposed to be a good thing, and lots of people would love to have this problem but I’m telling you, if you colour your hair and it grows quickly, that means roots… roots that show up fast.  And what does that mean?  That means more money than I’d like is going to getting my hair done.

I thought about going back to having brown hair – I get it coloured blonde now – but I’d still have to colour because of the greys lol!  I can’t win on this one…  And so tomorrow at 9am I’m going to fork over $110 dollars including tip to get “reblonded” as I call it.  And since I have a party to go to tomorrow night, I’ll also splurge on a $7 express manicure :)   Imma feel so pretty after :D

Posted in Happy Mommy Thoughts | 3,322 Comments

Ahhh Holiday Monday… I heart you

Holiday Monday’s are like bonus weekend days.  I know that’s not a profound realization for most but I guess for me it’s like finding a $20 bill in my pocket – cause for celebration ;)  

Occaisonally I’ve found myself sad on a Sunday, knowing that the next day would be Monday; back to my J.O.B. day.  But when Monday is a holiday, I’m suddenly productive and feel like I can get a ton done that day – but reallly it’s still the same day with the same amount of hours I’d have if I had to work the next day like usual. 

Strange… I am strange. ;)

Nevertheless, strange or not, celebrate this bonus day we shall – with board games, a hike and a BBQ dinner – yummy :)

3,947 Comments

The arrival of… shin-splints

My love of running… err jogging… has taken a new turn.  Shin-splints.  I hope I spelled that correctly.  Basically what I’m going to refer (incorrectly) to as the “front of my calf - that bone in the bottom front of my leg”, hurts when I run. 

Darn it.  *makes pouty face*

Three of my friends who run have told me I need to go the Running Room and have my gait assessed.  So I did.  And lo and behold I pronate… or maybe my FEET pronate.  I’m not sure how to word it.  In fact, I’m told they REALLY pronate. Which essentially means that with out the right shoe, and I quote the shoe salesperson “you run like a duck”. 

Well that explains a lot. 

The remedy is a $164 shoe made by Asics (the pronuciation of which seems to be highly subjective so I’ll let you decide).  Sadly upon hearing the cost of said miracle I had to tell the salesman I just can’t swing the cost right now.  I’ll need to save up.

Which is amusing in some ways because running SEEMS to be a no to low cost sport.  Truth is though, as any running-gear marketer will tell you, there’s a lot of money to be made from runners.  Not that that wasn’t already evident in the cost of the shoe ;)

Posted in Crystal's Weight Loss Journey | 1,772 Comments

Columbus day craft ideas

Kids love crafts so let’s have some crafy fun for Columbus day. Below are some craft ideas for various ages.

1. Boats

Boats (or, more accurately, ships) are a natural – both for Columbus Day and craft projects. There are quite a few ways you can make a model sailing ship of the type Columbus sailed; here are ideas for a few.

* Egg cartons are the basis for all kinds of crafts, including mini ships! For several small ships (remember the fleet of three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria), you can cut the egg carton’s segments into individual cups. Put floral foam into each cup. You could also use regular Styrofoam, or anything light that will hold up a toothpick.

Then, use toothpicks and paper to create sails – glue toothpicks to squares of white paper. Stick the toothpick sails into the foam inside the cups. If you are using foam egg cartons, you can float your little ships on water. If you use cardboard cartons, you can still float your ships but they will soften after a while.

Try having a boat race using your homemade sailing ships, a wading pool, and a fan!

* Egg cartons have a lid, too, and that can also be made into a ship. Simply turn it open-side-up and fill it with floral foam (or equivalent). Use popsicle sticks or shish kabob skewers to hold the sails rather than toothpicks. You can race these larger ships, too, and you can add as little or as much detail as you like. If you use cardboard, you can paint them.

You could combine these craft ideas and make the larger ship to be the Santa Maria, and the smaller ones that you made from the carton cups could be the Nina and Pinta. It’s known that the Santa Maria was the biggest of the three actual ships.

2. Maps

Making maps can be fun. Use the brown paper from used paper shopping bags, or some other antique-looking paper. Then create a map showing Columbus’s route from Europe to South America. These can be illustrated elaborately or simply.

Check your local library or the internet for a detailed description of Columbus’s route. Once your maps are finished, you can put them up on the walls or laminate them with clear contact paper and use them for display or as placemats (placemaps?).

3. Queen for a Day

Kids enjoy dressing up, so why not dress up as Queen Isabella? Research the fashions of the era, and find out how the Queen dressed. Use cardboard, glitter, and sequins to make a crown such as 16th-century Queens might have worn. Dowels can be coated with glitter and wound with ribbon to create scepters.

Posted in Fun With The Kids | 3,933 Comments

Where to go for a Columbus day parade

Parades are a traditional way to celebrate Columbus Day, and they are held in cities all over the United States. Where are the best ones? While such an assessment is ultimately subjective, there are a few Columbus Day parades that stand out for the extent of their celebration. Here are a few of the best places to go for a fun Columbus Day parade.

San Francisco, CA

In San Francisco, the Columbus Day parade is usually referred to first as the Italian Heritage parade. This is because it celebrates more than just Columbus’s achievements; it’s a festival that highlights many aspects of Italian history and culture. 

Another inviting aspect of San Francisco’s parade is that admission is free. Their website also points out that there are free, hands-on activities for children available as well.

The parade itself involves handmade floats and individuals who dress up as Columbus and Queen Isabella. Italian musicians, performing artists, and even celebrities participate in San Francisco’s Italian Heritage parade.

St. Louis, MO

St. Louis’s Italian neighborhood – “The Hill” – celebrates Columbus Day with a parade that includes floats, cars, and other fun things to watch. After the parade, which is held at noon, you can enjoy an afternoon of food and music at Berra Park, where the parade ends.

Chicago, IL

In addition to beautiful floats and marching bands, Chicago offers a special Mass for Catholics prior to the parade. The mass is held at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, and is part of the parade’s inclusion of Italian heritage and culture in its celebration. The Chicago parade also features the crowning of a Columbus Day queen.

Public schools are out in Chicago on Columbus Day, so parents like to bring their kids. Therefore, the festivities are geared toward child-friendly activities and events.

New York, NY

New York also celebrates a Columbus Day Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Hundreds of marching bands participate in this significant event, which also has a significant element of Italian heritage celebration. Bands compete, including high school bands, which gives young people a chance to receive recognition for their skill.

It’s worthwhile to check your local events calendar, too – there might be a fun Columbus Day parade in your local area.

Posted in Fun With The Kids | 4,079 Comments

Family fun on Columbus day

Let’s have some family fun with Columbus Day. You can celebrate this historic event with your family. After all, don’t we all love an excuse for a party? Here are some ideas for celebrating the traditional “discovery” of America in 1492.

Eat Italian and Spanish Foods

Columbus was a native of Genoa, Italy; his famous voyage was funded by Queen Isabella of Spain. Some of the most wonderful cuisine in the world originates from this part of the world. And much of it is enjoyed by children and adults alike. Try Spanish rice and chicken, or a traditional paella dish. Lasagna, spaghetti, and other pasta dishes are versatile and widely enjoyed.

Crafts

Why not make miniature versions of Columbus’s ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria? You don’t have to build a delicate ship model with all kinds of intricate parts (but of course, you can if you like!); depending on the age ranges in your family, you can make simple ship models from paper cups, egg carton segments, or the smooth tops of egg cartons. If you use the foam ones, your boats will be waterproof.

Paper, cloth, craft foam, or thin cardboard can be used to make simple sails for the ships, held up by toothpicks. Fill a bowl with water and float your ships; or set down a mirror, blue or clear plate, or blue paper and use your creations on the table as a centerpiece.

If you make waterproof ships using craft foam or foam egg cartons, you can “launch” them across a child’s pool. You could even race them! If your kids like science, you can talk about and demonstrate how wind moves the ships by pushing against the sails. Use a compass, and discuss how Columbus had to navigate his ships using the stars, sun, moon, and wind direction.

Community Events

See if there are any community events taking place in your area. Parades are traditional Columbus Day celebrations; see if your family can attend one, or watch one on TV. There might be a play or re-enactment being put on, too, perhaps presented at your local theater or as an outdoor drama.

Explore and Discover

Since it’s celebrated on the second Monday in October, the weather is often beautiful on Columbus Day. Depending on what part of the country you live in, there may be spectacular fall colors in your area. Or you can take a fall foliage trip with the family. You could take a special hike to look for new and interesting natural formations, locations, or views.

Visit somewhere you’ve never been. Just make sure you have the spirit of exploration and discovery, and your Columbus Day celebration will be right on target!

Posted in Fun With The Kids | 1,563 Comments

What Labour day is really all about

Ever wonder what this holiday is really for? The kids asked me and I no idea, so I maybe this info will help you too ;)

Labor Day is an unusual and interesting holiday. It is not associated with any particular religion, nor is it commemorative of any historical event. It’s a traditional time for barbecues and cookouts, picnics and parades. The Monday following Labor Day used to mark the first day of public school, and swimming pools usually close after Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day signifies the beginning of fall, even though that seasonal change does not actually occur until later in the month of September. And heaven forbid you wear white shoes or sandals after Labor Day.

But are all these traditional celebratory gestures reflective of Labor Day’s real meaning? What is that meaning, anyway? Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

On September 5, 1882, the first Labor Day in the US was officially observed in New York City. This was in deliberate contrast to socialist nations around the world that already celebrated Labor Day in May, and was intended as a conciliatory gesture between workers and management. It took place in the midst of the labor boom of the era, when industrialism was in its heyday.

There is some controversy as to what individual actually founded Labor Day, but we do know that the celebration was planned by the Central Labor Union. A parade marked the celebration of the first Labor Day, and Labor Day parades still take place on this holiday.

So how do people celebrate? Well, Labor Day was established, in part, for the families of workers to take some time off and enjoy the holiday together. Why not follow this model and make Labor Day a family holiday?

Picnics are a great way to spend time together as a family, and they are also a traditional Labor Day event. Pack American fare like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips, and spend the day playing games and enjoying the late summer weather.
Others like to have an outdoor cookout and invite friends as well as family. Regardless of who you invite, a cookout can be a lot of fun. You can decorate the outdoor table with patriotic centerpieces that guests can take home, or play horseshoes and give out prizes. You could even pay a game (with prizes!) where players find how many words can be spelled using the letters in “Labor Day Party” and other appropriate phrases.

However you celebrate, Labor Day is a time for food, fun, family, and relaxation. The working people in the 1800s did not always enjoy time off and regular work hours, so let’s be grateful that they spoke up and called for an eight-hour work day and a little time off.

Posted in Fun With The Kids, Happy Mommy Thoughts | 1,382 Comments

Plants that can clean the air in your home

Many people would like the air in their homes to be cleaner, but air purifiers can be expensive and they take up space. Electric air purifiers also use electricity, and can be noisy. But houseplants don’t make a sound, are relatively affordable, and, while they take up space, they beautify the home in addition to purifying the air.

Just please make sure, before you put any plant in your home, that it’s not a poisonous plant that could hurt your child or pets if they eat it.  We all know how kids love to put things in their mouths!

There have been concerns raised over the years about the effects of inhaling chemical substances that out-gas from various building materials and household cleaners. Other substances, such as paint, ink, and varnish can also out-gas dubious chemicals. In buildings that are tightly sealed, the chemical levels are significantly greater.

In the average home, the winter months are typically when the house is sealed more tightly against the cold and there is less fresh air. During the spring and summer, when windows are often open and fresh air can circulate in the home, the houseplants can benefit from being outside for a while. Then they can be brought inside when they are most needed – during the winter – and help keep your household’s air clean.

Some plants are quite effective at cleaning the air in a home. Here is a list of those plants whose air-cleaning abilities were found to be exceptional in studies done by NASA in the late 1980s.

1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

These prolific, striped plants do well in hanging baskets and pots. According to NASA research, spider plants are particularly effective at removing formaldehyde from indoor air. (Formaldehyde is present in nearly all indoor living spaces due to its prevalence in building materials and cleaning products.)

2. Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

Once again, formaldehyde has been shown to be absorbed by peace lilies. Trichloroethylene, commonly found in inks and varnishes, is also effectively filtered by peace lilies. One of the additional benefits of peace lilies is their ability to tolerate low light.

3. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Benzene and formaldehyde have both been shown to be absorbed by English ivy. Benzene is a solvent that is used in many common products, such as detergents and paint.

4. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)

This humidity lover is another plant that was rated effective at removing formaldehyde from the air. It also filters trichloroethylene.

5. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium’)

Most, if not all, philodendrons help purify indoor air. They prefer moist soil and rather low light.

6. Other Purifying Plants

Other houseplants that are instrumental in cleaning indoor air include:

* Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
* Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
* Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
* Dracaena deremensis – `Janet Craig’ and `Warneckii’ varieties

So there you go.  You can make your home more beautiful and healthier too with the addition of some plants :)

Posted in Keeping your family healthy, Your beautiful home | 2,278 Comments

Choking it down for the greater good

So Friday night I started Slim Fast (I chose vanilla) just like I said I would. And lemme tell you , that stuff is delicious. Like drinking a milk shake delicious. You just add the powder to a glass of 2%, whizz it up in a blender if you’d like (I used my Magic bullet) and enjoy. And enjoy I did. I found them to be fairly filling too.

So, Wednesday when the magic box of shake supplies arrived I was REALLY excited. Though sadly I did not hear angels singing, I was too excited to care. I rushed home and my partner in weight-loss and I ripped open the box, studied the contents and secretly planned out our new wardrobes.

With SlimFast being so inexpensive and these new shakes being so expensive, I have to admit I really thought these would be WAY more yummy and WAY more effective. He insisted, that this would be one of those times when I’d get what I paid for.

The next day I whipped up a shake, took a gulp and…. FORCED myself to swallow the thick, not-so-pleasant almost gell-like liquid. Ummmm… darn. It’s not even close to as yummy as the SlimFast. But, ever the optimist, I’m hoping it will get the weight off FAST. Two days later I’m not sure if it’s working great or not. I think I might be losing weight. I do know that nothing has fallen off of me though. Phew.

I’m hoping it will be like Buckley’s and taste awful but work ;)

Posted in Crystal's Weight Loss Journey, Ideas for looking your best | 3,564 Comments