DIY

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Do It Yourself

$25 Thermostat vs. $250 Thermostat

$25 Programmable Thermostat - installed

Would you rather pay $25 or $250 for an electronic thermostat? What if the $250 thermostat is incredibly sleek, artificially intelligent, and Wi-Fi networked? Would that be enough to sway you? Fortunately, the $250 thermostat was completely sold out which made my choice easy. That and I'm way too cheap to blow 10 times more money for furnace bling.

Pedal On

Mountain Bike donated to the Chainbreaker Collective

I just gave away a part of my history and I feel great. Often, I hang onto little things that remind me of my past. This was the first mountain bike I bought for myself and it's seen many miles and several crashes. Strangely enough, I didn't mind letting it go. Mostly because I know that it will live on in one or more 'new' bikes.

Looks Terrible, Tastes Great

Gumbo z'Herbes with Rice

There has been so much great produce that I’ve been cooking up a storm. For example, this looks terrible, tastes great Gumbo z’Herbes. It is apparently a spring tradition to serve this type of gumbo that goes nuts with the greens. It just so happened that half of the refrigerator was occupied by bags of greens: kale, spinach, mixed cooking greens. This recipe took care of them all and more: the Andouille hiding in the freezer, small bundles of scallions and parsley, that cup or so of vegetable broth, and the last few squares of blue cornbread on the side.

Hot Flushes, Draincocks and Sacrificial Rods

Tank Water Heater diagram

There are few things I find more refreshing than a hot shower. Because I set the shower water temp cooler in the summer I didn't notice that the hot water wasn't quite as hot anymore. With crisp fall temperatures suddenly the warmish shower was obvious. I took advantage of a warm, clear day (after everyone had their bath or shower) to flush the sediment out of the water heater and return it to full heat.

If you've never flushed a water heater, don't worry, this is actually a simple DIY task. Here are the basics of flushing a tank-style water heater:

From Grey Water to Green Plants

Grey Water Drain Pipe with Cleanout

Have you heard of La Niña? Despite the name, La Niña isn't a person 'she's' a thing - specifically a weather pattern. The important thing to know about La Niña is she tends to bring dry winters to the Southwestern US and that means drought. In my efforts to use water more efficiently I've added a grey-water system from our washing machine to irrigate a planting bed.

Plant a Garden, Harvest a Community

Plant in Hands sketch

What: Santa Fe Community Garden Tour
When: Saturday, September 17, 2011 from 1-4pm
Where: 7 Gardens across Santa Fe, NM
Price: FREE!

Tiny House vs. McMansion

I clearly remember wanting a room of my own as a teenager. I settled for a room in the finished basement of our family home. Austin Hay of Santa Rosa, CA has gone well beyond my teenage aspirations and is building his own Tiny House. As Austin tours his 130 sq. foot home built on a double axle trailer he notes that it is less space to clean and will have a small carbon footprint. Austin's Tiny House brings up a question, 'How big a home does a person need?'

LED Vs. Halogen at Sundown

LED (left) & Halogen (right) floodlights

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, 'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and rising electricity rates.' Mr. Franklin didn't have an electricity bill to pay, but he was definitely a frugal man. In my quest for lower electrical bills and fewer burnt-out bulbs I found a replacement for outdoor halogen flood lights.

Embrace the Sweat

Riding in the heat of summer sometimes means 'embracing the sweat'. But, there are ways to reduce your exposure to record-breaking heat. Cycling early or later in the day, stay well hydrated, and slowing your pace will help you keep cooler. Wear well-ventilated, wicking clothes in light colors, and bring a change of clothes when bike commuting. Acclimatizing to heat will also help your comfort and performance as you bike through the summer.

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