Previously, this was a blog mostly to harass my poor friends and family with the details of my life. Don't worry-- that will continue. However, I'm also going to use this as a terrible forum for dialogue about green tips and eco-revolutions. Hopefully it will be helpful and entertaining...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Save the Waters!

On a more general note, let's talk about water consumption practices!

Some of the best tips I've found are:

In the kitchen:
  • Save water from rinsing vegetables for house plants
  • Use the two sink method of dish washing (one with soap and water and one with clean water for rinsing) -- or use a dish washer, which has generally been proven to be more efficient if it's been made in the last 10 years or so.
  • Keep cold water in fridge, so you don't run it to wait for it to get cold
  • If you have extra ice cubes (like in drinks or that fall on the floor), put them in plants
In the bathroom:
  • Get a water efficient toilet, or put a brick or a bottle of water into the toilet to decrease the amount of water used per flush
  • Get a water efficient shower head
  • Turn off the water in the shower when you're not actually using it. Many times people say to me "oh but that's not that much time"... Really? Try it. I was amazed at how much time in the shower I was sudsing up, shaving, or just putzing... I think about half the time I'm "showering" I'm actually not using the water. I don't ALWAYS do this, but I try to almost all the time. Sometimes I really need some hot water to sooth muscles or after a long day in creeks of doom, but generally I turn of that water when I'm not using it. It makes a pretty amazing difference, and, hey, you can confuse your friends and pets with your constant starting and stopping.
  • I've also heard that "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down" adage. However, I am a semi-germ-a-phobe, and although I know that urine is sterile, I still don't like the idea of it. If you aren't lame like me, though, this is a great way to cut back your water consumption.
In the backyard:
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water for the yard or plants (often local governments have programs to provide cheap ones, so see if yours does)
  • Get plants that are water efficient-- especially for the grass in your lawn, so that you don't have to water it as much. Further, get over your visions of suburban green lawns. They typically cost a TON of chemicals and water (the top water usage in the USA for households is watering lawns-- and most of that water just runs straight off your lawn). Instead, make an AWESOME lawn that has plans that don't need as much water and even think about a rock garden or an edible garden. A truly green lawn is one that doesn't require a ton of chemicals and wasted water (see what I did there? turned that word 'green' right on it's head)
For the auto:
  • Go to a car wash that recycles its water or use an waterless home car cleaning like EcoTouch, which is likely cheaper than whatever you're currently using
If you've paid close attention, these tips provide many good excuses to get some more house plants-- although I would be aware of what's in the water you're putting into any edible house plants: I wouldn't rinse veggies and then dump that water into a pot of basil, for example.

There are even more tips here. Incidentally, there are also many things you shouldn't flush, including tissues, hair, condoms, and floss! Hmm!

Greening my Kitty and your Car!

In honor of... me being a doting Kitty-Mama... I have decided to green my little Annabel. I wrote before about planning to potty-train her-- but I realized that, for now,t his may be somewhat unreasonable. This is primarily because Annabel regularly visits her granddad's house, where other cat's and their litter boxes live-- so I feel like I would have to retrain her multiple times in a year, which would not work very well. Ditto for if I had to board her at a vet or kennel. Thus, for now, I am going to use one of the most environmentally friendly kitty litters: Swheat Scoop, which is made of (unsurprisingly) wheat. It has really low dust and has no clay (which is mined: clearly bad for the environment). Plus, it clumps naturally and is biodegradable. I'd like to flush it, but have been told that flushing it can still be bad for my pipes and eventually cause back ups. I think, however, that this might not be true for wheat based (rather than clay based) litter-- so I'm going to contact the poor folks at Durham's Water Quality Division yet again and see what they think.

If you're a dog owner and not dealing with the joy of cat litter, I hope you are doing your eco-conscious dog owner part. You should ALWAYS pick up your dog's poo (yes, even in your own back yard, Matthew), because pet feces is actually one of the major pollutants in streams. Streams that I'm wading around in. Please keep me poop free by cleaning up dog doo.

In regards to both dog and cat poo, I am still unsure about one aspect: what bags to use. On the one hand, using biodegradable bags is great, because it ... biodegrades. On the other hand, using random plastic bags from packaging means that no production goes into the bags-- and you're going to toss those bags anyways. My main worry is that the plastic will take so long to break down (give or take FOREVER) that the stuff inside won't be able to biodegrade... Any thoughts, people??? For now I'm sticking with use what you have-- that just makes more sense to me. But I'd love to hear why I'm right-- or wrong :)

SO, the point of me discussing the greening of Annabel is that I'm going to start paying for the more expensive, but vastly better for the environment and for my kitty, cat food. Many cat and dog foods contain an ambiguous ingredient known as "meat by-products": dead, dying, diseased, and disabled animals-- including euthanized shelter animals. Because Annabel is not a canna-bel (get it???), I have decided to stop feeding her anything with such euphemistic terms on the bag. I have decided, I think, to go with the expensive but worthwhile Newman's Own brand (shown here in comparison with other organic and green pet foods). The website where that's located, The Green Guide, is an excellent guide for making smarter choices as a consumer. So, poke around there for some eco-good-times.

On another side note, I know that everyone out there in this economic environment are just aching to buy a car... If you are interested in looking at your green options (or just interested in general), check out this informative site about hybrids, diesels, high-mileage, and E-85 (to which I say meh) cars! The cars are, I imagine, often more expensive-- but they will save you gas AND there are currently some tax incentives and such out there... Save both kinds of green, yeah?

Vinegar, like Jesus, is Magic!

The title refers to this humorous and heretical clip of Sarah Silverman. Enjoy, or not, as your morals allow.

Yesterday I woke up to a scene that I lovingly refer to as "Death House". For those faint of heart, stop reading now. My house mate's sweet, but very elderly feline, was apparently a bit constipated in the night. And the poor thing strained so hard that the house... yes, the house, was covered in drops of blood-poop. The poor thing was clearly not a happy kitty, and of course this happened when his mommy (that is, my housemate) was dog sitting and so not home for the night. After moving the poor dear into my house mate's room and giving him some fresh food, I was faced with the prospect of needing to clean the house. And I thought... PERFECT TRIAL FOR MY NEW HOMEMADE GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS!!! I will be putting up the recipes I have some time in the future... Currently they are a secret, for reasons that shall be revealed in a month or so. However, I CAN report that they were "shit-tested and Kayleigh-approved," as Matt said. They worked to easily get up the messes. Further, for areas that had any extra pungency, I just sprayed on some vinegar and kapow! scent begone! After cleaning up all of that, I was in quite a cleaning mood. So, with a glass of wine in hand, I swept the entire house (movin' furniture and everything) AND cleaned the bathroom decently. In the toilet and shower, I also used vinegar! It worked decently. Again, more specifics on eco homemade cleanin' products to come.

I will say, however, that I also tested out some Trader Joe's kitchen cloths... And, hallelujah, they were fantastic. You can basically use them as paper towels. Except you don't have to throw them out. I used them to scrub at the blood-poo on the floors, the toilet, and the shower (different ones-- I plan to somehow mark them so that one is for super icky stuff, another is for the bathroom, and one more is for the kitchen) and they were all totally fine, looking barely used. They are extremely absorbent-- sucked up the counters-full of liquid. Plus, when I rinsed and wrung them out, they dried rapidly. Also, the initial cloths are very large, so I cut them into fourths, which are about the size that I actually require-- about that of an average kitchen sponge. So, if you want to cut back on your paper towel usage (and the cost associated with them), I'd suggest dropping by your local TJ's (if you have one-- which I hope you do) and picking up a two-pack. If you do, let me know how it goes!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Diva Cup-date 2

Just another side, small note about the Diva Cup... This could be specific to me or totally happenstance, BUT: for me, I feel like I generally have two or three heavy days and then a day or two of light, extra ...gunk... I noticed that, with the Diva Cup, I had three days of fairly heavy stuff, and then: NOTHING! Like I said, I don't know if that was happenstance or because the cup collects menstruation at a higher level or what. But, yet another awesome reason to try it out!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Diva Cup-date

Well, it's that time of the month again. And no, Matt, that does not mean I'm extra-grumpy. However, it DOES mean that I had another chance to use my Diva Cup. And, I gotta say, I'm kind of in love with it. Once I got over the icky factor of putting it in (it is quite like a nightmare of a tampon) and taking it out (see above), it is more than worth it. I put it in the first day thinking, well, I'll take it out if it bugs me-- but it didn't. So I figured, well maybe I'll switch to a pad or something when I empty it next. I took it out around 10 hours to empty it (you're supposed to empty it and clean it with hand soap every 6 to 12 hours) and realized I really didn't want to deal with a pad or a tampon. If put in correctly, you can't feel the cup AT ALL and it doesn't leak AT ALL. It pretty much feels like I'm not even on my period, except for when I empty it. I am absolutely loving the lack of diaper-ness, string-ness, and... bloodiness. Plus, no smell! Hoorah. I've also noticed that it is getting easier and easier to get it in and out-- it still takes 5 or 10 minutes to take it out, clean, and put it back in, but it's not nearly as stressful.

So, if you are interested in the Diva Cup, here are a few tips:
  • Wash using Soft Soap with Aloe Vera
  • You're going to want to boil it once a month (I'm going to buy a little saucer specifically for this), just to get rid of any bacteria-- directions are on the Diva Cup website OR in the box
  • It is a little expensive (about $30), but eventually pays for itself (you can use it for 10 years) and is worth the money
  • You do need to be ready for a difficult insertion the first few times. It just takes a little to get used to and, hey, you'll be a lot more comfortable with down there.
  • If you can feel it, it's in wrong.
  • It won't get stuck up there-- if worse comes to worse, it gradually works its way out via yer handy muscles in there.
  • There are two models-- one for those under 30 and who haven't had babies and one for those above 30 or who have had babies: again, more info on their website.
All in all, TRY IT. It's totally worth it, and great for you and the environment!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Concerts Abound!

Well the past 5 days have been music-filled. I was lucky enough to see The Decemberists in Raleigh, Phillie, and Baltimore, with Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 opening for them at two of those shows. Plus Andrew Bird also opened at the Baltimore show AND we saw RH&V3 at a separate show in Annapolis. All in all, the shows were fantastic.

Before the Raleigh show, I finally made peace with tapas and ate at the wonderful Humble Pie. The Napoleon was simply amazing. The chocolate martini was simply not. The Raleigh show was probably the best, because the audience seemed the most in to the show and people were actually dancing around. Blind Pilot, who I really liked but were a wee bit slow, were a great opening band. It was a bit weird seeing the Decemberists at a seated venue, as I normally spend most of a Decemberists show bouncing up and down and singing loudly. In Raleigh, people actually went up front and danced around-- and two awesome peeps got up on stage and guitar-dueled. If you want to see how inspiring it was, check out their cover of Heart's Crazy on You, noting the fantastic vocals of Becky Stark and Shara Worden, honorary Decemberists.

In Phillie, we tried to get up front for the second half of the show-- and Marlie, Jordan, and I spent five of the best minutes of our lives 3 feet from Colin Meloy. And then the security guards remembered that they hate everyone, joy, and puppies, and made us (and a few dozen other people) sit down. It was worth it, especially because Colin loudly said (twice) that it SUCKED that they made us sit down. I really can't wait til the next tour, when I can dance my way through the show and hopefully get up front.

RH&V3 were awesome all three times. I think we scared people with our enthusiasm for them.

I continue to hate Merriweather. It just has such an anti-rock'n'roll feel to it what with the constant checking of tickets and forced hipness... My grudges run deep, even for music venues.

And thus ends my musical extravaganza. For now...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Vinegar to the Rescue! and All Cars Hate Me

We have had some mold problems due to previous flooding and whatnot, and we've been meaning to clean it up and hope for the best for a while. So, with my new found eco-lution, I decided to go after it with vinegar. It was pretty amazing. The mold immediately started running down the wall, and I was able to wipe up a lot of it (which I think you're not supposed to do, but I didn't really think I should just let it all run down and soak at the bottom of the wall) and then respray and let it set. We'll see how it works-- hopefully it will keep it from growing back. And hopefully I haven't inhaled a ton of mold spores to my lungs. That would be unfortunate.

In other news, all cars hate me. Yeah. For real. Yesterday, driving from Durham to Baltimore, I parked at a 7-11 to pick up some brand new Dr. Pepper Cherry (mmm so good) and then had a tight spot to back out of-- there was a car at the gas pump directly behind my car. So, being a good and responsible driver, I slowly backed out. Inching closer and closer to the car, staring out my back window calmly. Just as I got close enough to begin point 2 of my three-point turn, I hear a honk. I assumed someone must be trying to come up somewhere and that my next turn would bring me into their path... No. It's the lady in the car that I'm still a good six inches away from, honking and staring at me with abject terror... I just looked at her, thinking, "Really? Am I not backing up slowly enough?" and then pulled out. Honestly, it pissed me off quite a bit. I can understand someone getting nervous if the other driver is moving quickly or if you're not sure that the other driver sees you, but I was clearly moving VERY slowly (as I myself get nervous in tight spots) and STARING out my back window. So it just seemed absolutely unnecessary.

This morning, as Marlie and I went to Starbucks (evil, but I did use a travel mug), I was backing out of a spot with a car in the drive through directly behind me. I started to tell Marlie the story, and right as I said, "And then she honked!" We hear a honk. I laughed, and continued to slowly and carefully back up my car, staring at the car behind me... And then the honk became sustained. I stopped and looked and the lady in the car was staring angrily at me, waving her hand. Again, all I could think was "Really? I am at least six inches from your car and this is the only way to get out of this spot!" I, in fact, was so annoyed that I rolled down my window and said, "Was I REALLY that close to you???" And the lady, without rolling down her window-- because clearly I am an impolite hoodlum of a rascal that would knife her, said, "YES YOU WERE THAT CLOSE!!!" Too which I just shook my head and drove off. Admittedly, I was shaking with anger. But I came up with a plan for if this situation occurs again: I will park my car and go and see how close I actually was... I am pretty sure that, again, I was at least six inches. But this way I can check and show them that they are, in fact, being friggin' absurd.

After all that, I decided to walk up to Walgreens rather than drive (plus it's a nice walk and hurray for not using a car when it's not needed), and crossed oh-so-legally at the crosswalk. Madame le Left Turn decided she didn't really want to watch for pedestrians-- and stopped about 3 feet from me. Didn't say like, "Oh my bad sorry or any such thing-- just stared at me as if I shouldn't be there.

So, dear cars, and more importantly drivers, please stop hating on me and be nice. Please.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Kayleigh the (energy) Vampire Slayer

Hey my Peeps,

What's that? You wanna save some money AND save the Earth? How about unplugging all those cords hanging from your wall? It actually makes a big difference. Further, you can plug everything into a power strip and just unplug that baby when you're not using stuff (although, of course, when it's turned on you should only have stuff plugged in that you're actually using). Those are the basics, and you can also check out some more tips.

Or, be amused by cute children telling you to get with the green. And then do it.

Savin' double the green. Why wouldn't you do it?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The Jets, as usual, are the best team in the NFL.

Buying Used

Buying used is a cheap way to reduce waste and remove yourself a bit from consumerism. Instead of giving money to big companies, you give money to charities, local businesses, or just local people that are selling their stuff. Plus, if you're like me, you love getting a good deal. In the past few weeks, I've bought:
  • a Samsonite suitcase for $10
  • an awesome steamer trunk for $10
  • a bed desk/tray thingy for $15
  • a pair of jeans, 3 pairs of shorts, and a pair of shoes for about $20
  • a few full dinner sets and silverware and cups, probably all for less than $50
And I love bragging about it.

For those of you out there looking for a good deal, here are some tips:
  • Thrift stores are great! A lot of times, though, there will be a few that are kind of iffy. It takes visiting and asking around to find the good quality ones that have the kind of stuff you're looking for.
  • If you're in a university community, look around for email lists where people sell stuff. Especially international students, because they are often selling everything they don't want to move back with them. It's also a great place to list your own stuff.
  • You can also check your local Freecycle lists, depending on the kind of stuff you're looking for and your patience. Again, this is a great way to get rid of stuff you don't want anymore.
  • Finally, ask friends and family! My housemate regularly offers me clothing that she's going to donate, and I know people are always giving my little sister cloths.
  • You can also get all your friends and family together for a mini-swap-o-rama-rama, where everyone brings cloths (or whatever) they don't want, and everyone can go through each others' stuff and take what they want.
All of these are cheap options that are good for the environment, because you're not supporting the making of a million new things but instead are buying things that are already made.

For other, similar and more crafty ideas, check out the newest series of "Cast-On", a knitting podcast. The new series is called "Make Do and Mend" and focuses on how to... make do with what you have and mend it to improve it. Plus, I adore the host, Brenda Dayne.

A Lovely Weekend

This weekend was filled with two momentous events: my little sister's graduation and my best friend's wedding shower.

My little sister graduated fourth (or something absurd like that) in her class (of about 513). We were very proud of her, but all the pomp and busy-ness was a bit silly. I had an elderly lady yell at me to "PLEASE NOT PUSH IN FRONT": I'm pretty sure I was just standing near her. The graduation, as such things go, was pretty quick, and I was able to craft my way through the whole thing. No one was supposed to cheer after each name (513 students means it takes a while, even reading all the names quickly back-to-back), but of course some people did. I would love to graph the relationship between cheer after name in high school graduation to some level of achievement in life. Which is a snippy way to say, SHUT UP AND BE POLITE. Afterwards, though, we all got ice cream. Then we went home and Marlie played on her new MacBook, and Jor played on his iPod touch, and we all watched an awesome zombie movie, "Dance of the Dead." Seriously, it was wonderful and had a similar tone to "Shaun of the Dead". For those of you with FearNet on Demand, you can (and should) watch it for free.

Viki's Bridal Shower was absolutely gorgeous. The weather was lovely, the food was delicious, and the people were great. We played fun games and just had a lovely little shower. Viki, of course, looked wonderful. She was thoroughly bridal-showered.

I've also been crafting A TON, but they are entirely presents for people... SURPRISE PRESENTS. So, alas, I will have to put off posting pictures and their stories until after they've been given... Marlie, you can take some pics of the awesome presents I got you, as I forgot to do that :)