Frugal

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Doing more while spending less money

Flushed With Pride

Dual-flush Toilet Conversion Kit - installed

I've finished many efficiency-oriented, DIY projects around our house. Some projects, like insulation, are nearly invisible and some are quite simple, like weather stripping. But few are as subtle, yet a regular part of our daily lives as this one. I've just installed a dual-flush conversion kit into the most frequently used toilet in our home. It's not something we're likely to show off to the neighbors, but it will help reduce our household water use.

New Tricks with Old Dirt

Compressed Earth Blocks

Adobe bricks are a traditional building material in the Southwest. Made with water, sand, clay and straw, adobe is simple to produce, has good thermal mass and is appropriate for arid climates. Unfortunately, building with adobe is very labor-intensive which has made this dirt-simple material quite expensive to use. Now there is a modern alternative to adobe that retains its earthen qualities at a much lower price - Compressed Earth Block.

A Fruitful Year!

Apricot Ratafia

It's been a fruitful year! This amazing feat requires some magical combination of weather, timing, pollination, and possibly prayer. I've seen apricots all over town and also pears, apples, plums, and cherries. I'm hoping to gather some apples for sauce soon. The kitchen is in high gear in years like this.

The apricots were a bonanza and their beautiful goldenness showed up in many of our kitchen productions. Here's what I made:

Why I Garden #30

Shishito Chile Peppers

As much as I love the herbs and native flowers in our garden I love the food we grow even more. This season we planted four Shishito Chile Pepper starts from a local nursery and they have been bearing quite well so far. We've harvested a few dozen peppers and have several more dozen peppers almost ready to pick. Shishito peppers are quite mild and with a little pan searing and salt make a great appetizer.

More Info:

Wikipedia - Shishito pepper

Just in Time Rain Barrels

Rainbarrel Daisy chain

Just in Time Production is a popular manufacturing strategy with the MBA crowd. It's also a popular strategy for the procrastinators among us. At the Santa Fe Master Gardener's Fair this spring I saw a simple demonstration of how to build an inexpensive (Woo Hoo!) rainbarrel.

Why I Garden #26

Thyme in bloom

One of the first things I did after moving in to our house over 10 years ago was plant a small bed of culinary herbs by the front door. Some of these perennial herbs have thrived, while others didn't. Two thyme plants have survived in this planter and grown bigger after some of their competition was frozen two winters ago. These small and subtle herbs bloomed with small and subtle white flowers this spring.

LED's for Nothing (almost) and Lumens for Free (not really)

AmbientLED bulb in lamp

If you live in New Mexico and are a customer of PNM - here's a deal for you. $10 off (at the register) two different Philips AmbientLED light models at New Mexico Home Depot stores. What's the catch? This discount is only available through July 31, 2012. If you buy the Philips 12-watt AmbientLED (60-watt replacement) soft-white light the price is below $5 per 'bulb' (before tax).

Hitch your Wagon to a Bike

Schwinn Speedster with Bike Trailer

Being an EcoDaddyo, and a cyclist, I bike around our fair city whenever possible. Given the short in-town distances we drive, biking is an easy alternative. Recently, we enrolled our eco-kid in daycare and I'm usually on pick up duty. I was happy to find that this is easy with our new dad-powered, bicycle-pulled kid trailer.

Made the Bread, Bought the Butter, pt.1

Everyday Bread on cutting board

I got my hands upon Jennifer Reese's Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch. This seemed totally up my alley. Here I am trying to live this nouveau home-ec life and here is a kindred spirit in liking to mess around in the kitchen but it rather ended right there. Thankfully, Ms. Reese explained her situation otherwise I would have spent the whole book rolling my eyes at her yummy-mummy lifestyle.

A Thermostat That's Smarter by Half

Albert Einstein

Last fall I installed a 'smarter' thermostat as our old bimetal thermostat had started short-cycling the furnace. A local hardware store had a sale on programmable thermostats for $25, and I installed one that day. Within a day or two I had the thermostat programmed to our preferences and I haven't touched it since. The one question remaining - is the new 'smart' thermostat more energy efficient than the old 'dumb' one?

I can happily say that the new programmable thermostat IS more energy efficient!

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