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Most of the yard has been neglected in the past month, but the mums do look lovely.

Most of the yard has been neglected in the past month, but the mums do look lovely.

Autumn has come here, and the leaves are just starting to turn. It’s soccer season, and with two kids playing and one team to coach, I have less time to spend around the house than I did this summer. Things are starting to go to pot, and the frequent soaking rain storms we’ve had are not helping.

I took a little survey of the yard this morning, and it isn’t pretty. I fell off the 30 minutes a day wagon back at the start of September, and so the weeds have started to move back in, the autumn crop of kale has been reduced to lace thanks to aphids, and the wisteria has gone to war with the climbing roses. I think I’ll try getting back into the groove again starting next week, but switching my outdoor time to the afternoons, when it’s a little warmer and I can coerce the kids into helping me. I’m going to revert to posting daily updates of my activity outside, if only to keep myself from slacking!

Thing 1’s diet plan is going well. She’s dropped 3 pounds, which puts her on the right track to be at the weight the doctor wants to see in November.  She’s actually enjoying it, and it seems that making Sundays into a diet break day for her was a good idea. She now looks forward to her weekly treat, rather than expecting big treats daily. She’s also getting lots of exercise now that soccer season has started, especially since her coach (moi) doesn’t cut her any slack.

Thing 2 has played his first ever soccer game. He’s quick and agile, but he has yet to fully wrap his head around the game. That’s okay, though. He’s only 6! He told me that his coach said he’s not allowed to smile during games, and that he’s supposed to make a mean face to scare the other team. Hopefully the other teams will be frightened by the dopey grin of a little boy having the time of his life, since that’s mainly what he gave them:

Thing 2 is in white. I don't know if you can see his dimples with the photo at this size, but trust me, they're there.

Thing 2 is in white. I don't know if you can see his dimples with the photo at this size, but trust me, they're there.

I’m just at the tail end of a nasty little cold, and when I finally kick it completely, I plan to get my rear in gear and post more frequently. October is usually a big month for us, so there will be a lot to share, including hiking, baking, getting the house ready for Halloween (our favorite secular holiday), soccer games, and home improvements. So bear with me just a few more days as I allow myself to recover fully from this cold, and then we’ll pick up the pace here.

We’re having a bit of an Indian Summer here this week, with temperature in the upper 70s and too much humidity. The mosquitoes have been out in force, driving my family inside where the air is cool and there’s less chance of being bitten. I have come down with a little cold as well, which has kept me a little too grumpy to post, but not too grumpy to poke around the internet.

I found a few things of interest to share this week:

  • Confessions of an Introverted Traveler. This bit sums up nicely how I like to travel. I like to see places and people. I like to eat local and watch the local TV. But I’m not good with people, so I don’t tend to strike up a lot of conversations, and the few that I do remain memorable for their rarity.
  • Blue is the New Black. Maureen Dowd’s column on the trend of women losing their happiness in life as we gain more freedom and independence really struck a chord with me. It’s extremely hard to find balance between career and home, and I don’t think men have the societal pressure to be perfect in both spheres. Women are expected to be the primary caretaker of their children, and yet we are also expected to demonstrate the work-first attitude that men, who expect their wives to be taking care of things at home, generally have. No wonder we’re more stressed out-we’re trying to do it all, and that’s more than anyone can do.
  • Ted Talks: Jonathan Zittrain. The Web Is a Random Act of Kindness. The structure of the internet is based on trust, and it keeps running because volunteers give their time and effort to make it work. I had no idea that the internet was a trust machine, and watching this convinced me that the future is open source.
  • The Yes Men Run a “We’re Screwed” Edition of the New York Post. New Yorkers awoke this week to find that their morning comic book had been replaced with actual factual news…the New York Post, known for it’s snark and nonsense, had an in depth look at climate change and catastrophic implications for the world. Well, the Post didn’t really run an honest issue, but the Yes Men, my favorite activist pranksters, ran a spoof 100% true issue of the Post. Watch the video! Most people interviewed don’t for a second question the truth (climate change is real and dangerous), but they are amazed to see the truth so boldly printed in the Post. The interview with the Post employee is such a characture that, as Hubby put it, you expect him to kick a puppy as he walks away.
The walls look so nice with the new color. The old not-quite-pink shade of white brought nothing to the party.

The walls look so nice with the new color. The old not-quite-pink shade of white brought nothing to the party.

This past weekend at the Homestead, we tackled a Big Project. The living room/dining room has finally been painted! It took us 5 years to find the right color to use, and the room finally looks right.

To paint this intimidating space, we choose to use Bungaloo color liquid in Corinne (which is a mild, warm yellowish hue). Bungaloo color liquid is no voc, which is an important criteria for me, and it is sold in the sort of plastic bottles that laundry detergent comes in. I’m generally pretty good with words, but even I can’t fully explain how awesome buying paint in plastic bottles is. You don’t have to fight them open, and you can twist the cap back on to seal them. They pour into the paint tray with no drips. It’s clean, fast, and oh-so-tidy:

See the small bottle on the left? That's the bottle of paint.

See the small bottle on the left? That's the bottle of paint-the drips happened in transit when UPS treated my package without respect.

The color liquid goes on like a dream. I covered the entire room completely in one coat, in one day. It dried well in a pretty short time, and with the paint in bottles, clean up was a breeze.

If you've ever wondered how Crazy paints, she tackles the biggest room in the house using only a 2" brush and an edger.

If you've ever wondered how Crazy paints, she tackles the biggest room in the house using only a 2" brush and an edger.

Bungaloo is a local-to-me company, located in norther NJ. They do things a lot better than most paint companies I’ve tried. I was able to order small samples of a few colors at $3.95 each to test on the walls (which saved us from painting the whole room in the too orange Brooke, rather than the just right Corinne). Ordering was a breeze, and the paints arrive the next day. The paint kit included a detailed analysis of the paint ingredients, which is something I’ve never seen a company provide. My only issue was that the estimating tool guided me to order more paint then I used, so I have 2 full bottles leftover to gift a friend or paint the basement.

As for the color liquid itself, I think it’s the most perfect paint I have ever used, and I have used a lot! I majored in theater in college and spend most of my time painting sets. I know paint, and this color liquid is good stuff. I’ll be placing another order today for color liquid for the kitchen.

Today is Hubby’s birthday, so Happy Birthday Honey! To honor him today, I’m going to do a little plug here for his new book. Pax Morgana is the first part in a fantasy trilogy that tells the tell of mythic Britannia after the fall of King Arthur. It’s available in paper back ($14.95) or for the kindle ($4.99). If you enjoy reading dark fantasy, then this is a good one to check out. I’ve read the first draft of Pax Arcadia, the second in the series, and that one is also a fun read.

Onto this week’s links. The list is a little light, mainly because I’ve spent most of my free time caressing the new fridge rather than surfing the net!

  • Run Izzard, Run and Run Again. Comedian Eddie Izzard, one of my new personal heroes, runs 43 marathons in 50 days. Some are criticizing Izzard for taking as long as 10 hours for some of the 27 mile runs, but I have to wonder how many more people would be willing to tackle the challenge of a marathon if success wasn’t tied to a difficult time limit? I say good for him, and if he can do it, I bet I could, too.
  • Political Correctness Baffles Dalai Lama. I have been often heard talking about the power of words, and I do believe that our choice of words can have an influence far beyond what is intended. But political correctness is something else–using special words designed to be least offensive. I agree with the Dalai Lama, here. Short is short, tall is tall, and black and white are description of skin color, not a judgement on character.
  • Holy Grail of the Unconscious. I haven’t studied Jung much, but after reading this I plan to. Jung’s Red Book, a diary of his descent into his own unconscious mind, is being scanned and translated for publication. The family has been protecting the book for decades, and only a few people have ever read it. The book, and the story surrounding it, sound fascinating.
  • The Marshmallow Test. A researcher administers the classic marshmallow to test to children, with video of the little ones trying to resist the temptation. The marshmallow test studies delayed gratification-young kids are given a marshmallow and told that if they don’t eat it while the researcher is away, they’ll get a second marshmallow when she returns. They can then choose one marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows in the future. Watching the poor little things trying to hold up their will power is cute, but the test is not all about fun. Children who demonstrate the ability to wait are reported to be better adjusted, more dependable, and score an average 210 more points on scholastic aptitude tests.
I held my breath as they tucked it in place. Another 1/4 inch wider and it wouldn't have fit.

I held my breath as they tucked it in place. Another 1/4 inch wider and it wouldn't have fit.

There’s a tall, cool stranger in my kitchen this morning.

A few weeks ago, the bracket holding up the crisper drawers in our fridge cracked, which caused the shelf to sag onto the drawers, making them hard to open. The part to repair it was available for about $100, but we started thinking that maybe this was the time to finally replace the fridge. The old one was a 10 year old Frigidaire that had been left by the previous owner. It was not Energy Star rated, and it used about 825 kwh of electricity a year, which is high for a modern fridge. It had no water in the door, which meant it was opened 1.3 million times a day by family members raiding the tub of filtered water within. And the door opened the wrong way, opening out towards a walkway rather than being open towards the nearby counter top, which always bugged me. I hate inefficiently designed household systems because they make my lazy self do more work than is really needed.

We decided to upgrade rather than repair, which is costlier in the short term, but more in line with our values in the long run. We have been contemplating the virtues of replacing it for the last two years, and the need for repair moved us to finally take action. The new fridge uses 580 kwh a year, which is a 30% energy savings. It offers filtered ice and water right in the door, which will also be an energy savings, since the fridge no longer needs to be opened just because the kids are thirsty.

My favorite feature is the Tilt-out Fruit Bin inside the fridge door. This three-compartment bin allows me to store fresh, ready-to-eat fruit and veggie snacks right at eye level for the kids. We’ve already stocked it with baby carrots, grapes, and tiny pink lady apples, and it’s been a big hit with the kids and hubby:

Eye-level bin of Mommy-approved snacks.

Eye-level bin of Mommy-approved snacks.

The freezer side is surprisingly empty. Our old fridge was a freezer-on-top model, and the freezer always felt crammed. The side-by-side offers much better organization in the freezer, and it now feels like there’s nothing in there. Hopefully I’ll find some good bargains at the farmer’s market this week, since I now have the room to freeze large quantities of goodies for use later in the year.

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About me

I am on a personal and professional quest to find a happier, healthier, greener and more cost effective way to live life in the suburbs.