Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dirty electricity and CFLs

I was at the podiatrist's office yesterday, getting casted for some new orthotics for my stupid foot, and we were chit-chatting about my book on environmental toxins. My doctor brought up the fact that he's always been concerned about electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) such as radio frequency and the effect on the human body.

Having an engineering degree, in addition to a medical degree, made him a little more educated on the matter than the average person. However, when I mentioned to him some studies about the effect of dirty electricity (from a variety of sources including compact fluorescent light bulbs) on blood glucose levels in diabetics, he was unaware of the impact. Which isn't too surprising since the research done is relatively little and most likely something not in the purview of a foot doctor.

According to one study done, in an environment free of EMFs, Type 1 diabetics needed less insulin and Type 2s had lower blood glucose levels. The researchers also noted that diabetes testing done in a high EMF environment can lead to false positives. While the research so far done on diabetics is somewhat dubious, I'd like to see some more work done to either confirm or dispel this theory.

Most people are unaware of the unseen and (mostly) unheard bombardment of low and high levels frequencies being generated all around us from our microwaves to our cordless and cell phones to the computer monitor you are currently staring at. More recently is the concern of the type of electricity generated from CFL bulbs. Not all CFL bulbs generate the same level of dirty electricity, but it is something to be aware of.

The big deal is that high-frequency voltage transients, aka "dirty electricity", is a by-product of modern energy efficient electronics and appliances which reduce the amount of electricity they use. By tamping down the current, these electronics create a wildly fluctuating electromagnetic field that not only radiates into the immediate environment but also can back up along your home or office wiring all the way back to the utility, affecting every energy customer in between. So, even if you unplug all your electronics and are "going Amish" at home, your next door neighbor could be impacting you from afar, unless you've unplugged yourself from the grid.

Dr. Olle Johansson, a Swedish neuroscientist claims that:
"The human body, whose cells, nerves and organs function with electrical impulse, have difficulty adapting to 60-Hertz cycles, let alone transient high frequencies that last milliseconds. We are dealing with amplitude-modulated or pulsed microwaves in the 2.45 Ghz range (or nearby), in a form that has only been around to any extent for the last 10-15 years.

Compared to the natural background fields, in which living cells have developed during the last 3.8 billion years, these electromagnetic fields are actually very, very strong. It is thus wrong to believe that evolution has furnished us with a safety protection shielding layer against such WLAN (wireless local area network) signals. It has not."

Whether or not you think dirty electricity is a problem (and, for the record, the CDC and the WHO are following research done on this), some suggestions for reducing exposure include limiting wireless Internet, avoiding dimmer switches, limiting CFLs and using LEDs instead, using a landline phone rather than a cordless phone, avoiding Bluetooth headsets, avoiding cell phones when the signal is low, charging your laptop when it's not on your lap and unplugging everything when you aren't using it (which we should all be doing anyway). If you do think your home has high EMFs, you can get an EMF capacitor filter that you plug into the electrical outlet to help reduce it.

I know this sounds all conspiracy theory, but what do you think about EMFs? Do you think it's something to worry about or that it's not a big deal? Has the issue of dirty electricity stopped you from buying CFLs?

More reading (caveat emptor - I am in no way endorsing the content of these):
Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization
Is Dirty Electricity Making You Sick?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cold weather and frozen chickens

This fall started out quite warm with sunny, balmy temperatures stretching into mid-November. However, since this is a La Niña year, we've been having predictions of an extremely cold winter and we saw some of it this last week.

The Monday before Thanksgiving we got enough snow to put the city of Seattle into a tailspin. My husband was fortunate enough to get out of downtown on a less travelled bus route extending his commute only by a half hour or so. Others weren't so lucky - it took his oncologist 7 hours to get home that night. The rest of the week we saw temperatures down into the teens with highs in the mid-twenties, which is very unusual around these parts.

Since our chicken coop is fairly well closed up, with plexiglass on the biggest of the "windows", I wasn't too worried about the chickens. I could always cover up the other windows and pull up the ramp to really seal them in. They've been putting on a lot of feathers over the last few weeks, and I was really only concerned about the smallest one, Chloe, who isn't packing as much fluff as the other girls. I made sure there was extra bedding in the coop to snuggle up in if she wanted to, but I think they really just huddled together on the roost at night.

The biggest issue, however, was keeping their water supply liquid. Since I didn't have a solution at hand, I ended up replacing their water several times a day. Their main water tank froze up into a solid tube of ice, so they relied on the water bowl I supplied them. Now that the temperatures are back up into the normal range, it's business as usual, but I will be getting a heated dog bowl to use for the next time it's that cold, just to make sure they have ample water.

In spite of all the cold, snow and craziness, Chloe managed to start laying. She really likes hanging out in the nesting box and Roxy has been indulging her own broodiness by sitting on both their eggs. Alas, Sarah, the big white hen, spends more time eating and less time laying. She hasn't laid an egg since we first got her back in mid-September.

All in all, the chickens did fine. They didn't spend much time down in the run when the wind blew a bunch of snow down there. But, once I cleaned out the snow, they were back down in the run, digging and bagawking and searching for snacks of the buggy kind. I froze my tail off with all the oversight, but I'll be prepared for the next cold snap.

Do you have chickens? If so, how do they fare during cold weather? Do you have a heat lamp or other set up to keep them comfy?

For a tour of my chicken coop and an introduction to the girls, you can check out this video here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Circumcision ban

Here's something to discuss over Thanksgiving dinner...

San Francisco residents may vote on a measure on the ballot next year to ban circumcision, according to the Huffington Post. The initiative would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the genitals of all minors, and would not make exceptions for religious reasons.

A CDC researcher reported this year that only 32.5% of boys were circumcised in 2009 versus 56% in 2006.

What do you think? Is this a dying practice? If you have boys, did you have them circumcised and why?

Either way, should circumcision be illegal?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Organics and leaving the sanctuary

As part of my book project on environmental toxins, I've been cutting all sources of pesticides and toxins from my diet. That means that anything conventionally grown or containing artificial colors and flavors are out. This also means that I have to be very careful not to slip into old habits and absent-mindedly eat something that doesn't fit these parameters.

One of the biggest issues has been eating out or grabbing something on the go. We rarely eat out as it is, but the problem is that there are generally few restaurants, even in Seattle, that serve an all-organic menu. Even if there are organic items on the menu, that doesn't mean that the whole meal is organic. It's the same story with coffee shops. Even if the coffee beans are organic, they don't always offer organic milk and, if you want to eat something there, inevitably you are more likely to find vegan options over organic ones.

The other big issue when going out is going to the bathroom. It sounds strange, but I've started carrying my own liquid hand soap in a little reusable container. Why? Because most public bathrooms don't stock non-toxic soap.

Instead, these soaps are heavily perfumed (in other words, contain endocrine disrupting phthalates), are chock full of the anti-bacterial triclosan and contain various estrogenic preservatives known as parabens. And, don't get me started on air fresheners in these bathrooms - that cloying stench of artificial fragrances that invite another dollop of phthalates into my bloodstream.

Old habits and exposures are hard to avoid but, over time, I'm learning to change my behavior to avoid them. It's been hard and I'm trying not to go a little too bonkers with it. But, if you see me in the bathroom just rinsing my hands, holding my breath and turning a shade of purple, don't be surprised.

Do you pay attention to food ingredients when you go out to eat or just throw caution to the wind? What about something so simple as soap and air fresheners in public or restaurant bathrooms?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Freeze Yer Buns airs on King 5

This morning, King 5, our local NBC channel aired a few different clips about my Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, the challenge where you pledge to lower your thermostat to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

If you want to check out the accompanying article, you can do so here, Seattle blogger issues a 'chilly' challenge as temperatures drop.

They managed to post online the only clip where I, in true Sarah Palin fashion, am making up new English words.


And, if you haven't yet signed up for the challenge, it's not too late to join in on the freezing fun!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LED Christmas lights

Last night our neighbor put up their outdoor Christmas lights. I felt like they had broken some unwritten rule. Around these parts you just don't put them up until after Thanksgiving. Even then, I think that's too early, but I've gotten used to it.

When do you think it's "okay" to start decorating for Christmas?

And, speaking of lights, if you do decorate for the holidays, are you still using ye olde incandescent bulbs or have you switched out to LED holiday lights yet?

I've noticed that there are a lot more LED options now. We switched over a few years ago, back when the selection was grim. I'm getting a few more strands of LED lights since we are doing things a little bit different for our lighting display this year, which I'm very excited about.

Even then, for these specialty lights, I could only find one place online that sells an LED version of them and they are twice as expensive. I can justify the expense because I know we'll save on electricity in the long run and over the years, but still it's hard to swallow going in.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've got a mole in my hole

The following is an excerpt (edited for this blog) from my book on toxins in the environment that will be coming out in Fall 2011 from New Society Publishers:

Our front yard, for the past week or so, has slowly been turning into molehill central. It started last weekend with two dirt lumps popping up near the fig tree. When I went for a walk later that Sunday, I was at least pleased to see that we weren't the only ones sporting dirty lumps in our lawn. The neighbors on either side of us were each inflicted with their own pair of molehills. Over the next few days, I woke up to another molehill and then another. It got to the point that every morning we were greeted by an additional molehill, all in a linear path heading out to the street. Over the last week, we have acquired nine dirt piles in our lawn.

I looked into what could be making these mounds. I didn't think we had many burrowing animals in our area and narrowed it down to the rather populous (at least in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest) Townsend Mole, aka Scapanus townsendii. The evidence left behind seemed to fit the crime. It could also have been a gopher, but they are relatively rare around Seattle. A Townsend mole, which is about 8 to 9 inches long and black in color, has a general population density where the typical city lot has one or two moles. Why we've never had them before is surprising although I've seen plenty of neighbor's lawns exhibiting some inhabitants.

According to Sunrise Pest Management, Townsend moles feed primarily on insect larvae, earthworms, slugs, centipedes, roots and seeds. We certainly have an abundance of those in our front lawn. When I was searching for solutions to our mole issues, I ran across a laundry list of things people do to try to deter them ranging from using poison, insecticides, smoke bombs or even burying razor blades. I don't want to kill-trap the mole and I certainly don't want to poison the little fella, even if he is making a mess of my yard. Any chemical agent or poison surely would affect the environment and wildlife from both land and sea, as the run-off from our yard goes directly out to Puget Sound and I can't imagine what mole bait and poison would do to the local fish populations.

Sunrise Pest Management does do an environmentally (and critter friendly) treatment that entails a natural treatment that makes the mole's food source taste bitter. Since the moles don't like sour patch worms, they leave in search of other food. Better still, the worms and other insects are unharmed. I sent them an email to get a quote and see if it was worth the cost to have them come out and do an initial treatment. If it is going to be expensive, I figure I'll just rake over the mounds, stamp down the tunnels and hope for the best. It's not like our pesticide free lawn was immaculate in the first place. Since we've never used synthetic chemicals, herbicides or pesticides on our yard, let alone water it, the lawn is already pretty lumpy. So, what's wrong with a few extra bumps?

Another option is a castor oil based treatment that I found on the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife website. I could save myself the money if the mole doesn't cease and desist and go with this completely non-toxic, cheap treatment instead:
Homemade Mole Control

Commercially available castor oil–based repellents have been scientifically tested on moles in the Eastern United States with some success. In theory, the repellent coats earthworms and other prey with castor oil. This renders the prey distasteful and, if eaten, gives the moles diarrhea. The moles supposedly then leave the treated area in search of a new food source.

The formula for the castor-oil repellent can be made by using a blender to combine 1/4 cup of unrefined castor oil (can be purchased at most pharmacies) and 2 tablespoons of a dishwashing liquid. Blend the two together, add 6 tablespoons water, and blend again. Combine the concentrated mixture with water at a rate of 2 tablespoons of solution to 1 gallon of water. Use a watering can or sprayer to liberally apply the solution to areas where moles are active. The above mixture will cover approximately 300 square feet.

The repellent will be most effective where it can be watered into the moist soil surrounding surface tunnels made by moles. Areas that receive extensive irrigation will quickly loose the repellent to leaching. For best results, spray the entire area needing protection; moles will burrow under a perimeter treatment.

The repellent may need to be reapplied before moles depart. Once moles move elsewhere, the solution usually remains effective for 30 to 60 days.

I'm not sure if I want to give my mole a bad case of the squirts, so I'll see if he decides to move on to someone else's property. But, if he continues as he has, he'll be leaving Le Château Duke on the Poop Express.

Photos courtesy of Sunrise Pest Management

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home Depot LED winners

Based on the responses from the giveaway entries filled out over the last week regarding your experiences with compact fluorescent light bulbs, it seems like there is a lot of satisfaction with these bulbs, mixed with worry over the mercury in them. There was also a lot of dissatisfaction based on how long they lasted, how long it took for them to "light" up and what kind of light they put out.

So, I'm excited to announce the winners of the LED light bulb giveaway sponsored by Home Depot because it's great to share some new technology that many of you may otherwise not try.

And, without further ado...

The three winners of 1 EcoSmart LED A19 40 Watt Equivalent light bulb are:
The grand prize winner of a $200 Home Depot gift card to re-fit their home with LED EcoSmart bulbs is:
All right all you fantabulous winners! You can thank the random integer generator gods. Send your contact info to and I'll have Home Depot send your spoils your way. Congratulations!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Urban chicken video action

If you are, like me, hanging around on Veteran's Day and looking for a little diversion, you can check out the 10 minutes or so of video I made this week explaining our chicken coop setup, the run and the stars of the episode themselves, the chickens!


If you are having problems viewing this you can go directly to my channel on the YouTubes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do it Yourself Home Energy Audit book review

A few months ago, I was asked to be a part of the 2010 Green Books Campaign sponsored by Eco-Libris. This campaign is aiming to promote "green" books by reviewing 200 books printed on recycled paper or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using environmental paper, we want to raise the awareness of book buyers to this issue and encourage them to take it into consideration when purchasing books.

For this campaign, I chose to review the book Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits: 140 Simple Solutions to Lower Energy Costs, Increase Your Home's Efficiency, and Save the Environment. I figured it fit in well with this year's Freeze Yer Buns Challenge as well as the home energy audit contest I will be hosting at the end of the month as part of the challenge.

The Review
This book shows you how to increase your home's energy efficiency by offering 140 energy saving solutions, most of which require little in the way of financial investment. The suggestions to improving your home energy efficiency are relatively easy to do and the vast majority of the suggestions were surprisingly cheap. And, all of them will save you money over the long term.

This book shows you how to:
  • Implement immediate no and low cost improvements for lighting, heating, electricity, insulation, water use, and more
  • Identify and modify the most costly appliances in your home
  • Reduce carbon emissions
  • Develop a personal energy plan
  • Determine how and when to contract your green renovation
  • Understand ratings, standards, and conversions
  • Fund your green home improvement projects and take advantage of grants, rebates, and tax incentives
It is written in a very conversational tone, which makes reading it straight through or a section at a time enjoyable. The author, an energy expert, comes across as a friend giving you advice, rather than a know-it-all telling you what to do. I found it to be an easy read and picked up some great advice, much of which I'll be trying to implement this winter. You can look forward to me sharing some of the things I learned from this book.

Have you ever had a professional energy audit done on your house? Would you want one done? Or do you just try to learn as much as you can and do it yourself?

If you want to participate in the Green Books campaign, make sure you check out the reviews of books on the campaign's list that look interesting to you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LED giveaway from Home Depot

We've been talking a lot about energy savings with the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge by way of saving money from home heating costs, either from electricity, oil or natural gas. Well, another way to reduce your energy costs is by switching from standard incandescent bulbs for home lighting to an alternative.

Over the last five or so years, the most accessible alternative has been compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). However, LED options are becoming more and more available. Currently, they are more expensive than CFLs, much like CFLs are more expensive than incandescent lighting. However, the cost savings in the long run (assuming they last as long as they purportedly are supposed to) more than makes up for the initial investment.

I'm sure a lot of you have eyeballed LED light bulbs at the store, but didn't want to spring for the $20 or so to pick up a light or two. I know I have. So, I jumped at the chance when the Home Depot offered to send me a selection of LED lights to try out and review. I also managed to convince them to help spread the love to some lucky readers.

Most of the Home Depot's LED options are still fairly limited and I'm hoping that a larger selection is on the way in the near future. Of the LED bulbs that I received, the most comparable one was the 40 watt LED standard sized light bulb. It seemed like it put out as much light, as advertised, but without the warm glow of an incandescent, so really not that much different than a CFL.

What the heck is an LED light?
What's the big difference? Longevity. An LED bulb will last years (15 years!), longer than any comparable CFL bulb and you don't have the issue of mercury disposal when you do need to replace them.

If you are not familiar with LED bulbs, here are a few stats from the Home Depot website.
  • An LED is a light emitting diode capable of illuminating any space in your home.
  • LEDs generate a high level of brightness using less power than incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, 100 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
  • Using LEDs can dramatically reduce maintenance and replacement costs.
  • LEDs are reliable, safe and durable, solid state devices with no moving parts.
  • LEDs do not contain glass, filaments, UV light, or mercury.
  • Longer life makes LED light bulbs less likely to create environmental waste.
  • The size and digital nature of the bulb offers innovative technology.
  • LED lights have an instant re-strike and are fully dimmable with no humming or buzzing

In honor of turning our clocks back an hour this morning, I'm hosting an LED light bulb giveaway sponsored by Home Depot and their selection of LED light bulbs. I don't know about you but, where I live, Daylight Savings Time means that I have to turn the lights on about 4:00pm if I want to see my hand in front of my face. Using energy saving light bulbs saves me a ton of money.

Here's the meat of the giveaway:

Three (3) random winners will receive 1 EcoSmart LED A19 40 Watt Equivalent light bulb

One (1) grand prize winner will receive a $200 Home Depot gift card to re-fit their home with LED EcoSmart bulbs

How to enter
If you are interested in entering the random drawing, please add your name to the comments of this post and tell me what you think about your lighting. Do you love incandescents and refuse to give them up and hate CFLs or are you happy with the energy saving alternatives. You have until midnight PST this Friday, November 12th to enter. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Biggest issue with turning down the heat

One of the questions that Teresa Yuan from King 5 television asked me yesterday morning when she came to interview me about this year's Freeze Yer Buns Challenge was what is the biggest issue that people have with turning down their thermostat? That question, coupled with what questions do most people have about lowering the temperature, got me wondering what you think.

For most of the general public, the issue is really just wanting to live at a comfortable 70+ degrees. But, a lot of you in the past have said it was trying to convince others that live in your house to turn the heat down. Then there are issues of moisture and mold if it's too cold and concerns of freezing pipes and freezing babies, toddlers and sensitive pets.

So, what's your biggest concern with turning down the heat? I know it's not saving too much money.

If you still haven't signed up yet for this year's Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, git to it!

And make sure you check back this Sunday, I'm doing a huge energy saving giveaway courtesy of The Home Depot! I know, I know, but this one is worth it...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hades on Earth

Christine over at Peak Oil Hausfrau wrote a brilliantly funny account of how, due to global warming, denizens of the underworld are planning on colonizing Earth. If you have even the remotest interest in global climate change, transition towns and peak oil, go check it out!

Here's a snippet:
December 12, 2011 -- Ninth Level of Hell, Expansion Division

Hell today announced a new Pilot Colonization Program to relocate demons, devils, incubi, succubi, and Damned Souls to the surface of the Earth, starting as early as 2012. Lucifer Jr., Senior Executive Vice-President of Hades, explained the rationale behind the new program: "From our perspective, warming Earth temperatures offers an infernally perfect solution for the overcrowding we've been experiencing in Hell for the last 66 years. As the planet heats up, Earth will present a terrific opportunity for Hell's growth and expansion."


However, legal experts say that Hell's colonization of land owned by various Satanic holding companies is all perfectly legal. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, an avid property-rights advocate, observed, "Some people say that Demons belong in Hell. I tend to agree, but Satan has purchased this real estate through legitimate and proper channels. What would happen if we tried to just nullify all the contracts that we didn't like? Chaos, that's what!"

You can read the rest here.

Thanks, Christine, for brightening, er, darkening my day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just call me pine mouth

We got a huge wad of kale in our sailboat CSA on Sunday morning so I decided to whip up a batch for lunch. I've been doing this thing where I'll sautee kale (or chard) in olive oil with shredded carrots, adding water as it cooks. I also throw in onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper and whatever else I feel like adding. It makes for an extremely tasty alternative to the higher fat version that I make, which entails heavy whipping cream and Parmesan cheese, which is slightly not as good for you.

Monday evening I started eating dinner and from the first bite, things tasted weird. I asked my husband if his vegetables (not kale) tasted okay and he said it was fine. I noticed everything had an odd bitter, metallic taste to it and just assumed I had eaten something that had thrown my taste buds off.

By Tuesday, I was still experiencing a problem. I didn't notice it in the morning, but by afternoon my apple tasted weird and, again, my dinner was even more bitter and metallic. I thought maybe it had to do with some new supplements I started taking and was a little concerned that it might be something more physical.

I know some nutritional deficiencies or a little too much of something can throw off your sense of taste. Since I had spent a good part of the afternoon trying to decipher a bunch of wonky lab results for my toxin body burden testing for my book (hello tungsten and molybdenum, why are you so high?), I figured anything was game.

So, I went to my trusty Google to see what I could find. I ran into a number of people claiming they had the same problem after eating pine nuts. Pine nuts! I had loaded up my kale on Sunday with pine nuts to make it a more substantial meal. According to wikipedia:

A small minority of pine nuts can cause taste disturbances, developing 1–3 days after consumption and lasting for days or weeks. A bitter, metallic taste is described. Though very unpleasant, there are no lasting effects... Some publications have made reference to this phenomenon as "pine mouth". This is a relatively newly noticed phenomenon.

The Nestle Research Centre has hypothesized that a particular species of Chinese pine nuts is the cause of the problem. The suspect species of pine nuts are smaller, duller, and more rounded than typical pine nuts. This agrees with the findings of ødevarestyrelsen (Danish food ministry), which ties the symptoms to "illegitimate" nuts from Pinus armandii (Chinese white pine) and Pinus massoniana (Chinese red pine), which have a different fatty acid than "genuine" pine nuts, being mixed with "genuine" pine nuts in China to meet export demands.

Metallic taste disturbance, known as metallogeusia, is reported 1–3 days after ingestion, being worse on day 2 and lasting for up to 2 weeks. Cases are self-limited and resolve without treatment.

This does bring up the issue of food safety. This isn't the first time we've seen Chinese products "padded" with filler foods. When we buy nuts, we always buy in bulk and choose organic, but we don't have that option at the store we frequent for pine nuts. I suspect that we got a batch of pseudo-pine nuts because I've never had this happen before.

This apparently has become an emerging problem over the last few years with it peaking this last summer. In the UK, the Food Standards Agency is looking into the issue. As to be expected, in spite of complaints, the FDA is sitting on its hands.

The pine nuts I ate are relatively fresh, so I know that rancidity (which is an issue with these high fat tasty little nuts) isn't the problem. In any case, I thought I'd share my experience with you in case you buy pine nuts for the pesto I'm sure you make from all that basil you grow in the summer. I tell you, though, I'm going to be leary about the pine nuts I buy in the future. Several weeks of pine mouth is really unpleasant. Although it could be the next popular diet aid since it makes everything taste nasty.

Have you ever experienced pine mouth? Or even heard of it?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SodaStream Penguin winner

I'm so excited for the winner of this contest, I can barely stand it. Not only is it a super cool gadget (and expensive at that), but it will help reduce her plastic and/or glass usage tremendously.

So, without further ado...

The winner of the SodaStream Penguin Starter Kit that includes the:
  • Penguin Sparkling Water & Soda Machine
  • 2 Penguin Glass Carafes
  • 2 60 Liter Carbonators
  • Sparkling Naturals - Pink Grapefruit concentrate 750 ml
  • Sparkling Naturals - Orange Pineapple concentrate 750 ml
  • MyWater Flavor Essence - Variety pack

Courtney Cable from the blog A Life Sustained, who wrote:
Holy cow, this is awesome! I've been coveting one of these for the longest time. My husband drinks lime Mendota Springs like it's goin' out of style and I would love the chance to switch us over to a homemade option. When I was a kid, we had a Soda Stream machine and got our canisters and syrups from the Schwann's man. Many, many happy childhood memories.

Congratulations, Courtney!!!! Please email your contact information to

Monday, November 1, 2010

Freeze Yer Buns 2010 kick-off

Welcome to the first day of the fourth annual Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. It's the start of five months of keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature than you normally keep it, not just for saving a boat load of money, but also for reducing your carbon footprint as well.

Saving a ton of money
Last year, when I called our oil company to get some information, I got some stats about our energy usage and how it's changed. Before we started doing this challenge, we used 500 gallons of heating oil a year. The average for our area (Seattle) is 600 gallons. Last year, we used only 250 gallons of heating oil. All in all, we save about $750 a year by lowering our thermostat and occasionally using electric space heaters to heat the rooms we are in.

This year I'm expecting our savings to be even higher because we are keeping the temperatures even lower than last year. It's going to be three degrees cooler during the day and three degrees cooler at night (62 day and 55 night). Since I work from home now, I'll be cuddling under a down throw while I'm writing and so far it's been manageable. If it's gets any warmer in here, I find it to be too warm. Anything above 65 is too hot.

Reducing our carbon footprint by the ton
The average Seattle household emits 3.75 metric tons of CO2 per year due to home heating. Since we started this challenge, we've dropped our thermostat by 10 degrees. For every 3 degrees lowered, we save 1/2 ton of CO2. That means we've dropped our CO2 emissions due to home heating by about 1.7 tons of CO2 per year.

Want to see some big savings yourselves? Well, come join in on the fun! It doesn't need to be uncomfortable or cold. I'll be sharing tips on how to keep the heat you generate in your house and stay warm with the heat you do have.

Kick your carbon footprint in the balls
If you haven't yet signed up for this year's Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, go on over and sign up! This year's participants will be eligible for some fun and exciting giveaways like a home energy audit and a few other surprises.