Sharpener

Our very old knives recently became very dull. It happens. So, I went to Facebook to ask for recommendations for a new set of knives. My smart friend Stephanie suggested I get them sharpened. Of course! That’s the “reduce” thing to do. So, we packed up the knife set and brought it to the Highland Square Farmer’s Market on Thursday to get them sharpened. Turns out, we have a vintage set of good quality knives that just needed a little help.

It only cost $38 for all  5 knives, and they were done by the time we finished wandering around Highland Square (20 minutes). That’s much better for us and the environment than getting a new set.

Kevin Noon of Noon Sharpening and Wood Working (“the environmentally friendly sharpener”) did great work for us on his old foot-pedal sharpener.

farmer's market

P.S. When I got them home and made dinner, I didn’t cut myself, but I did pour boiling water on my arm. Ouch! (I’m ok, just very clutzy.)

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New (to me) dishes

Mr’s mom gave us a set of dishes for our wedding, 8 years ago. Sadly, they only lasted about 7 years. Various breakings, cracks, and stains ruined them, so we’ve been looking for a new set of dishes for a few months. We looked diligently at the Goodwill, spent an afternoon at antique shops, and scanned yard sales. Finally, a few weeks ago, we found this fantastic set at a yard sale just a few streets away. The lady who sold it to us said they had been in her family for years. They’re such a bright white with sunny yellow flowers and accents.

dishes

It’s funny to see how dishes have changed over time. We couldn’t find any bowls at the antique store. None! What’s with that? And the dishes I saw at yard sales, the ones made in the 70s and 80s, have much smaller plates and bowls. Food portions must have been much smaller back then. That’s ok with us. I eat about 5 small meals a day, so it’s really no problem.

dishes

What treasures have you found at yard sales?

Crafty Mart

Hippo plantShopping at craft fairs is a great way to support local art and find cool gifts for others or a few treasures for ourselves. Crafty Mart is one of Akron’s finest and, fortunately for me, it’s held twice a year. I’m so inspired by our local artists. This year, I got a fun hippopotamus planter to keep at work, and a few catnip wantons for the kiddos. They love ’em!

Keep up with Crafty Mart by joining their Facebook page.


999 bottles

We all know how bad bottled water is, right? Here’s a little reminder

  • In 2006 the global consumption of bottled water was 177 BILLION liters.
  • At 42 billion liters, the U.S. accounted for about 23% of that.
  • It takes two to three liters of water to produce and distribute one liter of bottled water
  • For most of us, bottled water is of no better quality than our tap water (which is more highly regulated and monitored).
  • In the U.S. alone we use more than 17 million barrels of oil to create those disposable bottles (this does not account for the fuel used to ship bottled water across the globe)

I’m sure you “recycle” your water bottle, but look at how wasteful it is to simply produce that bottle… 2-3 liters of water is used to make 1 liter for you to drink, and 17 million barrels of oil is used to create the bottle. (That means you’re drinking out of a container made from oil. Yuck!)

Why not choose a reusable bottle instead? 999Bottles is a cool project that helps you track how many resources you’re saving each time you refill the reusable stainless steel bottle. You advance the counter each time you refill, and you can use an app or the website to find out how much you’ve saved. If you refill just 8 times, you’ve paid for the bottle; 15 refills is a stack as tall as a giraffe. “At 147, the bottles you non-consumed have saved you $326 and 7 gallons of oil.”

The 999Bottles is currently a Kickstarter project so you can’t buy the bottle in stores yet. They need to raise about $47,000 in order to start production. You can follow 999Bottles on Facebook or contribute to their Kickstarter goal.

– Artefact

 

Easy iced tea

DSCN2560I’ve been making the easiest iced tea lately. The instructions on the box of tea says to use 2 tea bags, boiling water and ice. But then I use up all my tea in twice the time. I don’t like that.

Instead, I just take 1 tea bag, add about 3 cups of water, and store it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. It will steep while you’re at work or overnight, and you’ll have tasty tea whenever you want it. Add a squeeze of agave nectar (about 1 TBSP) to sweeten.

I like to have a little green tea in the afternoons, just to wake up a bit. Or some lemon-ginger lemonade. (Aren’t those the cutest tea boxes you’ve ever seen? I got them from Marks & Spencer in Prague.) Wild Berry Zinger is like cool-aid for grown ups. Today I’m trying Nettle tea, to help ward off the allergies.

I got that fabulous jar at a tag sale last year. Love it!

Lifehacker inspired this tea.

New (to me) sink

For at least 5 years, the hot water in my bathroom has leaked. So, I just turned it off to save water. But that means I haven’t had hot water for washing my hands and face for 5 years! That’s a long time. I’ve replaced gaskets, seals, and rings, and cleaned every piece of the faucet. Nothing helped.

A few months ago, I decided to end this self-inflicted torture and install a new faucet. I got a cute little faucet from a big box store, which I am no longer patronizing (they know what they did). The faucet reminds me of a bird. It’s so cute. Anyway, the previous homeowner did things his own way, so nothing is standard and I couldn’t replace the faucet myself. Around this same time, I realized that sinks and pedestals are not that expensive. Our sink was gargantuan and our bathroom is tiny. It just didn’t work. So, I decided that I needed a new sink. Hey, it’ll go with the faucet and make the bathroom look normal.

New sinkDetermined not to buy a sink from a big box store, we started looking at the local retailers. Trumbull Supply had a beautiful sink that I really loved, but it was more than $150 and I wasn’t confident that I could install it myself. I kept looking, and finally found one at West Hill Hardware. It’s a used sink, but basically, the homeowner had it installed and decided they didn’t like it, so they sold it to West Hill Hardware. It’s an American Standard sink and it cost me only $60. Woohoo! It really pays to be green, and to reduce/reuse.

Our favorite plumbers, Walter Plumbing, installed the sink and faucet for us. It wasn’t cheap, but they’ve helped us in the past, and the owner is an active member of Plumbers without Borders, so we like to give them our business.

So, my new (to me) sink project was pretty successful. We now have hot water, a reused sink, and we supported local businesses.

Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time of year! It really is quite funny how excited I am about cleaning my house but this year, besides getting everything sparkling clean, I had a new mission in mind. To actually do it all… and do it naturally!

Before I set out on this journey, I did some research for the best “recipes” for homemade cleaning products. I found two really great cleaning sprays, a furniture dusting spray and a multi-purpose cleaner.

Multi-purpose Cleaner

  • Mix equal parts water and vinegar
  • a few drops of essential oil

Since I try not to be wasteful, I reused my spray bottle from my Green Works cleaning spray that recently ran out and 4 cups water and 4 cups vinegar nearly filled it up. I also added some lemon essential oil to help cover up the vinegar smell. In the future I may add more seeing as my grandpa asked me later in the day what I had been doing with vinegar.

Furniture Dusting Spray

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essential oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup water

I bought a spray bottle for this since I did not have one on hand. Overall, this new experiment cost me so much less than going out and buying harmful cleaning products. For an idea of the cost let me share this with you…

  • Vinegar- $3 for a gallon bottle
  • Lemon Essential Oil- $4.99 from a local store or you can find oils on Amazon ( and you only use a couple drops for an entire bottle so it will last for years)
  • Olive Oil- already had on hand for cooking
  • Extra Spray Bottle- $1

Will I be doing this again? You betcha!!! Everything looks so amazing and clean. I think it is important to also note that the vinegar smell doesn’t linger (well maybe on your hands a little). Best part? It is completely non-toxic and my little children (aka pets) are safe too!

See doesn’t she seem happy about it?

Now let’s see…. what other cleaners can I make myself…

Plastic bottle light bulbs

When people build shantytowns and impromptu housing (as millions do around the world), it’s hard to get sufficient light inside because of lack of electricity. So, people live in the dark or have to go outside to see anything. Solution: plastic bottle light bulbs.

Liter of Light takes empty pop bottles, fills them with water and a little bleach (to prevent mold), and installs them in the roofs. The result is similar to solar light tubes and it allows people to have light in their homes throughout the day, without electricity.

Good.is explains how it works: “plastic bottles refract the sun’s rays, scattering about 55 watts of light across a would-be pitch black room.”

(The video on Liter of Light is even better!)

Reuse dehumidifier water

Lily

If you’re like me, you’ve been running at least one dehumidifier in your house for months. And, like me, you’ve been pouring the water down the drain. Clean, fresh water. Down the drain. There’s got to be a better way.

Idea of the day: instead of dumping the dehumidifier water down the drain, use it in the garden! Water saved, plants nourished. Pour it straight onto the grass, into pots, or store it in your watering can for the days when we don’t see 5 inches overnight.

You probably thought of this years ago.

New Salvation Army

A new Salvation Army store will open on July 30 in Montrose. It’s moving into the old carpet and tile store near the Toys R Us on Rothrock Road. The hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday.

You can take donations there now and after the store opens. This store will sell electronics, appliances, bedding, drapes and towels, clothes and more.

Akron area Salvation Army stores fund the Adult Recovery Center, a facility for men who struggle with substance abuse, chronic homelessness, unemployment, etc.

See the Beacon Journal for the full story.