Friday, April 27, 2007

Crafty On Purpose

So last year I took up knitting. I enjoy it a lot but I'm currently only capable of doing the most basic stitches. It takes practice, but honestly, how many scarves (or hats, mittens or potholders) does a family in Florida actually need? The answer is, of course, not many. However, there are plenty of people on our little planet that could use a scarf. Or a hat. Or mittens. Or a blanket. A little googling led me to several resources for knitting for charity that I thought I would share for the crafty amongst us. The projects are very simple—simple enough for children, in fact, which means that I might just be able to handle it too.

Here's one:

And here's another one:

And here's a whole bunch:

You can also call your local shelters and hospitals and see if they accept donations. There are so many small things you can do to help people out and spread a little loving kindness and compassion. Isn't it awesome?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Making Changes

Spring is here, the breezes are blowing, and I don't know about you guys, but I'd rather be anywhere than sitting in an office, even one that has a great big window that opens (causing my office workers to complain bitterly that the temperature has risen above 70 degrees and it's "too hot").

Spring is also that great time when fresh ideas and the desire to do things differently seems to be, well, springing forth at the HandyHouse. Words like "energy," "saving," and "living more with less" seem to be on our minds these days. I sometimes think they should be on everyone's minds more often, but who am I—or anyone, for that matter—to preach without practicing, eh? To that end, Jeff and I have been making some changes. Small steps, to be sure, but steps nonetheless to see what we can do to reduce our impact on this here planet, help reshape the way things work and still live shiny, happy, modern lives. There are so many things we can change about the way we live, the question arises—where to start?

Here's the first spring thing we've done: "replanted" just about every light bulb in our house with compact fluorescent bulbs. At first I was resistant because, ew, office light! But CF bulbs for the home have come a long way in recent years, and having lived with them for a few months now, I can honestly say it doesn't bother me at all. We changed all bulbs except for a few that are on dimmers (haven't found a good, dimmable CF that doesn't buzz) and the bulbs in the bathrooms. I may change those, too, but I wanted to see how I felt about the lights before going whole hog. We discovered that you have to choose your bulbs carefully. We first tried the GE bulbs (got them at Lowe's), but we found their light really unpleasant. I did some research about lumens and other techie things and then we chose the N:Vision bulbs at Home Depot. Love them! And they were fairly inexpensive, to boot. We did the entire house for about $70, and have already seen a drop in our electric bill of about 15% over last year. They will easily pay for themselves in less than a year and then just keep on saving from there. Try it!

Here's another little thing I'm doing, and it seems entirely stupid and obvious, but . . . I'm hanging clothes on our clothesline when I can (right now, it's about 2 out of 3 loads). Gasp! It's ridiculous, isn't it? We live in Florida, the SUNSHINE STATE, for pete's sake, and I am only now taking advantage of all that free energy. The sad thing is I had to make a conscious decision to do it. When did it stop becoming the thing you did automatically? I wonder. Right now, I can't quite buy the idea that it's because dryers are so much more convenient, at least in Florida. It takes, quite literally, 4 minutes to put the clothes up and 4 minutes a few hours later to take them down. I figure that's a savings of about 5 minutes over dealing with the dryer. What am I going to do with 5 minutes, anyway? Watch TV? Write that novel? It's funny how this bright spring weather is making me shift my perceptions about things like "convenience" that I typically never think about. Anyway, you can now see our springtime fresh underthings waving in the wind in the backyard. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Welcome to the HandyHouse!

One of my resolutions for 2007 was to stay in better contact with the family, and here it is coming on May and I realize that I have done a seriously lousy job so far. No good excuses, just the ongoing distractions of generalized busyness that seem to swallow each and every day. So! Here's an attempt to keep everyone somewhat up-to-date on what's happening here at the HandyHouse in St. Pete. I figure a quick thought here and there, a photo or two, some links to places of interest, the occasional joke, and there you go—a 100% improvement over the cone of silence!

So, check in from time to time, comment, tell a joke, hurl an insult, share bits about your own lives. The HandyHouse is always open!