Friday, May 29, 2009

Blog watcher, not a blog poster...

To anyone finding this defunct blog via a comment I left on your blog, I apologize! I experimented with blogging but failed miserably, but chose not to delete the blog because I didn't want to lose the information about our decking project. If you would like to contact me, please feel free to email me at liz dot groleau at gmail dot com. I have enjoyed visiting all of your blogs, and perhaps I've been inspired to post once in a while on mine!

I upload my flickr constantly:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Product Review: My First UNO (Works for Me Wednesday)

RocksinMyDryer has set a theme for Works-for-Me Wednesday---Toys Worth Buying.

I don't have kids, so I'm not an expert at all. Up until recently, however, I was spending a couple of hours each afternoon with the daughter of a close friend. E is 4 1/2 years old and probably a teensy bit delayed (her older brother is superbright, so he probably stole all the smart molecules. Don't mean any offense by this, just trying to describe accurately). I picked her up after Montessori school (an option her mother chose instead of preschool which has been great) and we spent two hours of "fun time" which I tried to make as educational as possible. We went for walks and looked for things that started with certain sounds, I made her picture + words shopping lists to help me get groceries, etc.

Ok back on topic. My mother bought a card game that she thought we'd enjoy, and it turned out to be E's absolute favorite thing. It was My First UNO, with Angelina Ballerina characters on the cards. It is an UNO game for kids 3+.
When we first started playing it E would get confused sometimes, and would maybe play two or three games before wanting to do something else. After about a week of this, she had the game figured out to where she could explain the rules to a new player, and on at least one occasion we played for over an hour straight, game after game after game! It has helped her work on matching and numbers, and especially to focus herself on one activity (instead of A-D-D-ing around the house for two hours.)
If you are looking for a "toy" that involves your participation (or for more than one child), I highly recommend this game. An amazon search shows that it comes in lots of different themes/characters so you can match the style with your child's personality.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

There was a little thrill when I filled in the circle next to my candidates of choice. I don't even have to share my choices; no matter what happens this year, it will be historic, and regardless of how you feel about either set of candidates, there's something thrilling in being part of a history.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Product Review: FreshAire Interior Paint

I painted my living room this weekend. The room was yellow, which I hated. I have nothing against yellow personally, but I don't like living in a yellow room. It is the most difficult color for your eye to see, did you know that? So you should put it in a room where you want to be awakened and energized. I want to relax in my living room.

I remember reading about VOCs some time ago, and although I'm sure what I read was sensationalized to a certain degree, there can't be any harm in applying paint to my walls that has less airborne contaminants, so I checked it out. Home Depot carries Freshaire Paint, a No-VOC option. Its display was separate from all the other paints at my local store, so if you don't see it at first, look around, it's there somewhere.

After much consideration and many paint chips stuck to the wall, I decided to go ahead with the Freshaire Paint (over the paints I've used previously, from Glidden and Behr). Here are my thoughts:

--There was definitely a lack of paint odor when painting. The only time I could smell paint was when I was brushing on paint or holding the can right in front of me while painting. With eyes closed, I don't think the average person would know that I was painting in my house, or even the room itself.
--Purported health benefits. VOCs are not just emitted into the air while paint is wet; the paint continues to emit VOCs for some time (likely many years.) If you are concerned about the indoor air quality of your home, then you will see the logic of reducing VOCs in any way you can. Here is an interesting wikipedia article about the importance of indoor air quality.
--"Green" factor. Most of the packaging (including paint chips) is made from recycled materials and can be recycled. There are no VOCs in the paint OR the dye (some no- or low-VOC options do not use VOC-free tints.)

--Lack of color options. There are currently only 65 colors available, compared with 6 million colors plus color matching available with other products. In the end, I felt like I "settled" for the color I chose. It is also only available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss finishes.
--Cost. A gallon of Freshaire was almost $40, compared with about $20-30 for standard options.
--Lack of measurable benefits. If you are an "instant results" sort of person, you might not feel positive about using No-VOC paint. You have to believe that you are improving your air quality.

Coverage and cleanup seemed the same as other paints I have used.

It says on the container to let the paint dry several days before attempting to clean it (so don't let your three year old draw on the wall before then!) I will wait a while and splash something in the corner and let it dry, just so I can see how it cleans up.

Final Thoughts:
I am glad I chose the FreshAire paint, but if I ever want to be more picky about a color I might be convinced to choose a more standard option. It seems silly to choose style over health, but I believe strongly in mental health and its relationship to physical health. If the color of the room I am makes me unhappy, I am doing as much damage to myself as the paint would. Maybe.

Kick the Habit Report

So I've been attempting to kick my bad sleep habit for about a week. And what a week it's been.

Monday night I went to bed at about 11:30; hubby was leaving the next morning for some work related travel, and was stressing about whether he had everything he needed all packed up. We went through the list of things that I usually forget (pyjamas!) and can't easily be bought if forgotten (the head to his electric toothbrush).
Tuesday--got up with hubby at 3:45 am. !! Saw him off at half past four and just couldn't get back to sleep, so I stayed up. Not even sure I got much more done than usual that day. Dad is back home from overseas and his apartment is not quite ready for living in, so he is staying with me for the week. I think I went to bed by about 9:30.
Wednesday--up at about 7:30, to bed at about 10:30.
Thursday--same, not too bad.
Friday--bolted out of bed at 6:59 to the sound of the doorbell. Dad's friend Robert Sezak (D) is running to represent Fairfield/Skowhegan/etc. in the Maine Senate. They were going up to Jackman to campaign to all 6 people who live up there (one guy said he'd vote for him just for going up there, and another couple threatened to shoot him...) Got dad settled in his apartment so it was my first night home alone finally--so what did I do? Stayed up until 2:30 am sewing. I am a night owl at heart, I guess.
Saturday--slept till about 9:30, and was having my cup of tea when the doorbell rang. One of J-sun's coworkers had left his van in front of our house a week before when it broke down. He was coming to pick it up, but didn't realize J-sun wasn't home yet. So I threw on some clothes and followed him home, driving his nearly broken down van, then he gave me a ride home. Wasted a good hour and a half of my morning, but at least the van is gone, and I got to play with his foster kids a few minutes, plus his wife couldn't remember my name which made me feel infinitely better about never remembering her name. (Also, I've been having ethical arguments with myself about only doing the "minimum", and this was an opportunity to do more than the minimum. I'm sure I'll post about this soon.) Finally decided on a paint color for the living room and spent much of the day painting. I waited up for J-sun; he got home about 11:00 and I wasn't up much later than that.
Sunday--slept in, of course, until 9:30 again, and spent day finishing up paint in living room. In bed at 10.
Today-up at 7:15.

Weekly Assessment: Partially meets standard. Bed time is moving toward acceptable; major work needed on getting up in the morning!

Hopefully today I will have time to post a product review. I used FreshAire paint from HomeDepot and once I've finished the cleanup process I want to share my experience with this relatively new product.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Don't underestimate your dishwasher, save a few pennies.

It's Works for Me Wednesday at RocksInMyDryer and I am making my first "works for me" post (though I missed her link deadline.)

My dishwasher has four possible cycles: Quick Rinse, Light Wash, Normal Wash, and Pots & Pans. There are additional options for Heated Dry and High-Temp Wash. For the longest time, my husband and I set the dishwasher on Normal Wash with the High Temperature option (since I almost always run the dishwasher at night, giving them time to dry, I have never used the Heated Dry option). We selected the high temp wash because our hot water heater is on a timer and there's usually no hot water left late in the day (so the dishwasher heats the water up itself.)
At some point in my long history of doing things wrong, I sent the dishes through on the Light Wash cycle. They came out clean.
I did it again. They came out clean.
Now granted, our dirtiest dishes (pans used to cook hamburg, etc.) usually sit for a soak in the sink before going in the dishwasher (or being washed by hand), so the worst caked on things were dried raisin bran residue in cereal bowls. And NOTHING gets that out but frickin' steel wool, I swear! (Numbnuts: I was just being facetious. Soak the dish in water for a little while and those bran bits will come off fine!) Both times the hot water heater had been on, so there was at least a reasonable amount of hot water left.
These days, I always run the Light Wash cycle, and if one or two dishes need a quick scrub in the sink to get off a tough bit, it still saved me electricity and water. If your hot water is always on, or there is likely to be hot water when you normally run your dishwasher, consider trying out a "lesser" cycle on your dishwasher. You might be surprised!

EDIT: The fact that I have posted this comment at around 10:35 pm is evidence that I have not yet kicked the habit of my bad sleep schedule. My husband had to fly across the country for work, and I got up with him at 3:45 am yesterday, and didn't go back to sleep, so my days have been way off. Will get back on schedule soon!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Housewifery Strategy: A Morning Routine

(Kick the Habit update: I was in bed at 10:20 last night and up at 7: 25. Not perfect, but not a bad start!)

As I mentioned, I don't like the idea of "steps" toward an organized home, healthy living, etc, because most projects like that really are never ending. Instead, I like to "implement strategies" (in teacher speak this means "do stuff"). Here is my first strategy, which I have adapted from FlyLady.

Housewifery Strategy: A Morning Routine.
(Note: As with any of the strategies I might discuss, this may or may not work for everyone, because everyone has a different schedule and lifestyle.) I am not a morning person. I simply cannot just get up and go in the morning; I need time to wake up, drink a cup of tea and eat some breakfast, probably read a little or get on the computer. My husband gets up and is out of the house in 20 minutes, give or take; I need at least an hour from the time I get up to the time I leave the house.
To best use this time, I developed a morning routine. After washing my face (can't start the day without washing my face!), I head to the kitchen. I put the tea kettle on the boil, and plunge right in to the kitchen clutter. If I'm lucky, all the dirty dishes are in the kitchen from the night before, but sometimes I have to go around collecting dirty dishes from the rest of the house. That's ok; that's part of the routine.
Here are the things I did today in the time it takes for the tea kettle to boil and my tea to brew/frozen waffles to toast:

1. Put away clean dishes
2. Put a bunch of dishes in the dishwasher
3. Run downstairs to the freezer to put away the ice cream maker bowl and bring up package of frozen beef for tonight's dinner
4. Wash a few dishes and put a few more in the sink to soak
5. Grab a paper towel and wipe up the splashes of water around the sink, then use the dampened paper towel to wipe down the rest of the counter

Then it was time to sit down and eat breakfast. It isn't a lot, but it's something I don't have to stop and do in the middle of my day, or look forward to dealing with when I get home. It means that when I start cooking dinner tonight, I don't have to clear off the counters first.
FlyLady (check out her site or pick up one of her books if you're not familiar) suggests setting a timer for your morning routine and other activities; I like this, but in most cases I let something else be my timer (ie, the tea kettle, the commercial break, the 4-year-old I babysit trying to shuffle and deal out cards...) There are -tons- of things we do during the day that could be timers, and we could be doing something else.

The morning routine is one of the few strategies that I keep almost every single day. Exceptions occur only when there is an exception to my schedule; needing to leave the house quicker than usual, not wanting to wake my sister sleeping in the living room, or the pleasantly common weekend occurence of my husband getting up before me and making breakfast, thus eliminating my timer. Otherwise, I find myself going about my morning routine no matter what time I get up, and if the kitchen is clean I find another task.

Give it a shot!

Related Bonus Strategy: If it works out right, run your dishwasher at night (start it up right before you go to bed.) This way no one has to listen to it and you will have something to do during your morning routine. It also means no one will take clean dishes out of the dishwasher to use, which inevitably leads to someone mistakenly putting their dirty dishes in with the clean.