A refrigerator thermometer is an inexpensive gadget that more than pays for itself with increased peace of mind and possible energy savings. Keeping the refrigerator and freezer at the proper temperature is critical for safe food storage. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, your family’s safety depends on food being stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the refrigerator, and 0 degrees in the freezer. Installing a thermometer in the refrigerator and another one in the freeze will help you make sure food is being properly chilled.
Keeping a refrigerator just cold enough will also help with energy usage. A refrigerator uses more energy than most other appliances in the kitchen, and it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Using electricity to keep it too cold is a waste of energy – the key is to keep it just cold enough for safety.
The FDA has provided these refrigeration guidelines:
• Refrigerate cooked foods and leftovers within two hours of preparation.
• Use perishable foods as soon as possible. This includes meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, fruits and vegetables.
• Marinate meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not at room temperature.
• Don’t pack your refrigerator too full. It’s best to leave room for cold air to circulate.
Priced between $7 and $30, refrigerator thermometers are a bargain. Once you’ve purchased and installed a thermometer, be sure to check it frequently and adjust your fridge’s thermostat if necessary. And remember, saving energy means saving money.
Given today’s economy it seems like everyone is trying to find ways to save money. I know that my husband and I have made a lot of changes because we are trying to get all our debt paid off so we can build our dream house in a couple years.
Here are some of the ways we are saving:
1. Make your own cleaners, I make my own laundry soap, made dish washer soap before my dish washer kicked the bucket and use baking soda for a lot of different cleaning. Not only will this save you money but using cleaners without harsh chemicals is better for your home and health.
2. Use your clothes line, the sun is great for stain removal and best of all a free way to dry your clothes. Any time my diapers start to get stained I put them on the clothes line for an afternoon and soon they are stain free once more.
3. When you do use a dryer, use dryer balls and do not over dry your clothes. I have eight wool dryer balls that I made and they have cut the drying time on my diapers in about half. A lot of the time people just throw the clothes in the dryer and walk away, check on your clothes about half way through the cycle and adjust your time as needed.
4. Stop using paper towels, they are a major waste of money. I have switched to un papered towels, they are great and it is so nice to be able to throw them into the washer!
5. Turn your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer, even a couple degrees can save you a lot of money in the long run.
6. Call your insurance agency and make sure you are taking advantage of all the discounts you can get on insurance for your home and your car.
7. If you have credit card debt call your company and ask to speak to a manager. My husband called in and after speaking to the manager and asking him to lower our interest rate they cut it by 4%!
*** unpapered towels are from http://hyenacart.com/FortheLove/
Dyeing wool yarn is an easy and rewarding hobby. I first started dyeing yarn by using the kettle dye method, and that is what I will describe here. Before you know it you will be hooked on dyeing your own yarn!
Cups and spoons
Acid (citric or vinegar)
A word on dyes. You can use food coloring to dye wool, however I don’t recommend it. The results will not be predictable, and the colors will not be bright, so for best results I recommend buying dyes. I started with a starter kit from here: http://www.prochemicalanddye.com/store/home.php?cat=403 They are not very expensive, and the dye goes a long way. You can also buy yarn and dyes from Dharmatrading.com. Often I get asked if you can use procion (cotton) dyes on wool. Yes, you can! A word of caution, though. Many procion dyes will “shift” on wool and silk, that is, the dye will either be a completely different color, or will separate on the yarn/fabric so you will not have an even result. It is important to do a test dye if you are going to use procion dyes on wool or silk.
Preparing Wool Sock Yarn for Dye
The first step is to soak your yarn until thoroughly wet in a large bowl with tepid water, a cup of vinegar (or one tsp of citric acid), and a small squirt of dishwashing liquid. While it is soaking, mix your dyes. I put about a ½ tsp of dye in a cup and pour boiling water (mixed with 1 tsp citric acid per gallon, and one tbls salt) over it. Then I stir until it is completely mixed.
Amount of acid dye I use - it's not rocket science, just chemistry!
I place plastic wrap on my counter, I use 2 sheets, making sure they are overlapping by 2 inches (to prevent leaks). On top of that I lay my yarn, and spread the threads out a bit. I use a plastic spoon, and slowly spoon the dye over the yarn in sections, until the fiber is completely saturated, but not laying in a puddle of dye. You want the dye to completely soak in to the fiber to prevent puddling and unwanted mixing of colors.
Adding dye to the prepared yarn
Once you have finished putting your dye on the fiber, wrap the yarn up in the plastic wrap, kind of like a burrito. I wrap the long sides in first, then the bottom, and then I fold it over until it fits on a plate. Then I place it in the microwave and heat it one minute at a time until it is very hot, and the dye exhausts (there will not be colored liquid on the plastic wrap). Let cool, then rinse and dry. Once it is dry, it is ready to knit and enjoy!
Yarn ready to be heat set
When a stranger hears that I use cloth diapers, she automatically assumes that I’m a tree-hugging-animal-rights-go-green-or-bust activist that’s only living this way because I care more about the Earth than people. The truth, though, is that my semi-crunchy lifestyle isn’t because I am worried about global warming or eating an animal. My reasons are much simpler: health, money, and time.
Being “green” isn’t so much about saving the Earth as it is about being a good steward. Choosing to not use harsh and synthetic chemicals or plastics that leach toxins into our bodies, and eating as natural and unprocessed as possible is an important way to take care of our physical selves. Choosing to reuse, upcycle, and recycle an object not only reduces garbage buried in a landfill, but it frees up your pocket book so you can spend money where and when you need it. The time factor of practicing an eco-conscious lifestyle is where many people hang up the towel. For some reason, many people think that it must take more time to use cloth diapers, turn off unused lights, and recycle a bottle. I argue, though, that being “green” actually saves you time. Here’s four ways that I do it:
1. Cloth Diapers. We already know that using cloth is definitely better for the environment, my wallet, and my baby…but it really does save me time, too! It certainly doesn’t take any more time to throw a diaper into a pail rather than a garbage can, but it does take me a lot longer to make an emergency diaper run to a store than it does to throw a load of laundry in the wash.
a. Running to the local store 1x month just for diapers (30 minutes)+ 4 minutes every other week during a regular grocery trip + extra bag of garbage a month (12 minutes since it would require several trips during the week to empty the now full bathroom can into the kitchen, etc.) = 50 minutes/month
b. Transporting and throwing diapers into the washer/dryer (5 minutes/2x/week) + rinsing dirty diapers (10 minutes/month—diaper sprayer!) = 50 minutes/month
Wait—that’s equal, right? Not quite. Consider for a moment the average savings of $2,900 for cloth diapers over disposables if you have two children (breakdown: if you have two children who are out of disposables by age two, you’d spend $3,200 total as opposed to $300 for prefolds and covers that you reuse for the second child; savings will fluctuate depending on the diapers you use, how many kids they service over time, and if you resell them when you’re done). Even if I don’t have more than two kids, and don’t resell my diapers when I’m done, I’m saving myself from having to work 290 hours over two years at my job to afford the difference in disposable diapers (net pay $10/hr). That’s over 12 hours a month that I’m saving! So in the long run, I may save almost 13 hours of time a month by using cloth diapers over disposable diapers.
(note: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php used to calculate monetary savings)
2. Showering. My 16-month-old daughter gets a bath once or twice a week instead of every day. Most often, I just pop her in the shower with me, wash her up, and hand her off to her dad instead of giving her a real bath in our tub. From undressing her to re-dressing her, this takes about 15 minutes. If she got a bath every day in our tub instead of in the shower with me once a week, things would be different. The whole process would waste a LOT of water, soap, heat, and time. To be exact, it takes us around 30 minutes to do a bath for her. If she gets in the shower with me 2x/week instead of her own bath every day, we save 3 hours of time a week not including any monetary savings!
3. Freezing Meals. When I cook, I make double batches and freeze one. It’s usually healthier to eat at home, we all know, but with this method, it’s a lot easier, too. Only one set of dishes to clean (great for saving on energy, soap, and water), and half the time spent cooking. We eat the leftovers for lunch, so that takes care of lunches, too (I won’t calculate that time, though). If I only spent 40 minutes preparing, cooking, and cleaning up after each meal (yeah, right) and spend 5 extra minutes per meal to double and freeze it, I will save over 2 hours of time per week by only having to cook half the number of times. At least 2 hours.
4. Mama’s Milk. Whether you’re a nurser or a pumper (or both if you happen work outside the home), breast milk is best. Not only are the health and monetary benefits amazing, but the time you save yourself beats all (unless you’re an exclusive pumper which makes the time thing pretty much equal to formula feeding)! Let’s just take a look at how night time nursing saves you time versus formula bottle feeding during the night:
- no shopping for it
- no cleaning off diapers if you are exclusively breast feeding (as the solids are okay to put right into the washer)
- no prepping bottles
- no getting up during the night (breastfeeding allows you the beautiful option of bed sharing)
For the LONGEST time, my daughter nursed three times a night. By breastfeeding her at night and thus cosleeping with her, I usually only had to wake up long enough to pull her over to me and make sure the blankets and such allow for a safe nursing time. Each nursing sessions took about 15 minutes for a total of 45 minutes per night. Comparing this to having to prepare, feed, and clean a bottle, I’m guessing that I saved over 10 minutes per session that I was able to spend sleeping instead…that’s 70 minutes a week without even including the cost and time savings of not having to shop for and purchase a can of formula!
Just with these four things, a person could get back 40 hours of her time per month. That in itself is enough incentive for me to practice green living. After all, what’s more important than spending time with my family or on things I need to do or enjoy?
How do you save time in your life by “going green”?
Have you ever noticed that when most people and articles talk about pain management during birthing, they’re only referring to pain elimination via drugs? It’s documented that over 80% of women in the U.S. receive some sort of drug to relieve pain while giving birth despite the unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects of having such medication (Sharma & Leveno, 2003). The epidural route (delivered through a catheter placed into the lower spinal cavity) is currently the most common method like this of controlling pain and comes with at the risk of weakening uterine contractions leading to a prolonged labor, increased urinary tract infections due to a urinary catheter often used in conjunction with an epidural, and spinal fluid leakage in the mothers.
The infants are also affected as the anesthetics cross the placental barrier, potentially causing lower Apgar scores, poor sucking abilities, irritability, and less alertness (Caton, et al., 2002; Eltzschig, Lieberman, & Camann, 2003; Emory, Schlackman, & Fiano, 1996). With all of this knowledge, why is this still the only thing that many people think of when confronted with “pain management” options during labor and delivery?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was fortunate enough to come across the idea of using self-hypnosis as a way of pain management during birthing. At first, I was quite skeptical even though I have a B.S. degree in Psychology. I misunderstood hypnosis and didn’t realize that I would be fully aware and in control of what happened–and also that I would be able to relax to a very deep state, and if practiced enough, numb my own body at will. The two major childbirth-hypnosis education methods that I’m aware of is HypnoBabies and HypnoBirthing. The HypnoBirthing website (http://www.HypnoBirthing.com) describes their method like this:
“Unlike other childbirth methods that teach you how to cope with and manage pain, HypnoBirthing is based on the premise that childbirth does not necessarily need to be painful…When women understand that pain is caused by constrictor hormones, created by fear, they learn, instead, to release fear thus creating endorphins; the feel good hormones. They are then able to change their expectations of long, painful labor and are able to replace them with expectations of a more comfortable birthing…HypnoBirthing parents learn deep abdominal breathing and total relaxation, enabling the laboring mother to work in harmony with her body and her baby. This allows her to achieve a shorter and more comfortable labor for herself and baby.”
After doing a lot of research on using self-hypnosis during childbirth and also experiencing it first hand, I think that it’s a valid method to also be included when talking about approaches to childbirth and pain management. It’s tremendously healthier than using pharmaceuticals, and thus provides better outcomes for both mother and baby…not to mention it doesn’t involve needles and lets the mother be in control while remaining relaxed! Though every woman’s birthing experience is different, I found that being fear-free and naturally having limited pain during labor and delivery through hypnosis allowed for me to have a beautiful and gentle experience that I can remember with joy.
Which method of pain management would you use or have you used for childbirth (given that you didn’t have to have drugs for a pregnancy complication or something)?
Caton, D., Corry, M.P., Frigoletto, F.D., Hokins, D.Pl, Liberman, E., & Mayberry, L. (2002). The nature and management of labor pain: Executive summary. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 186, S1-S15.
Emory, E. K., Schlackman, L. J., & Fiano, K. (1996). Drug-hormone interactions on neurobehavioral responses in human neonates. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 213-220.
Sharma, S. K., & Leveno, K. J. (2003). Regional analgesia and progress of labor. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 46, 633-645.