Ward House


I am posting over at Homemakers Who Work and touched, briefly, on repurposing clothing.  This inspired me to check out more repurposing and you’ll get to see more of that soon!

Stay well.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Homemakers Who Work, Recycling | Leave a comment

DNT update and other nonsense

Not saying that the DNT is nonsense. This picture of my mug falls under the nonsense category. Kathie had posted about moments she is enjoying and I included vanilla biscotti coffee from my new ‘recycled’ starbucks mug. As that phrase sounds kind of icky, a picture is definately worth a thousand words. This is a new mug that is made from 28% post consumer plastic.

Now that the mug is cleared up, on to the DNT challenge. Not as much as been accomplished. *sighs heavily*

  1. Not walking to work yet. Went home sick Monday, had an appt. in Staunton Tuesday so that just left today. Tomorrow I am on call for the restaurant and work there Fri. & Sat. night. Good thing about the hours is that I can hopefully get some medical bills paid for and be in a better position financially.
  2. Waiting and watching for windows – watching Craigs List.
  3. Ronnie knows someone, who knows someone, who services machines for The Bacova Guild. Waiting to hear if this guy can look at my machine. In the meantime I did buy a Brother sewing machine. Has more bells and whistles than I currently use; however, this Brother will take me into more projects.
  4. Tallow is still in the freezer. Ronnie and I did talk (yes, talk is cheap) about making soap. I explained, briefly, how lye is made from ashes and how a ‘simple’ barrell can be used to filter water through ashes to make lye. Remember we have a wood furnace and wood cook stove – Lots of ashes. In the meantime, my next trip to Walmart will include a lye purchase, unless the local mart has it – I will be floored if they do!
  5. Complete. I purchased the banner, completed policies, listed and have even paid on my first invoice! Whoo hoo.

Wow. Now, before I forget, Sharon has some great info here about saving/preserving/using herbs. Enjoy today and I’ll be back.

June 3, 2009 Posted by | Doing not thinking, economy, family, Recycling, sewing, wood cook stove | 2 Comments

Doing Not Thinking (DNT)

A few weeks back Kathie at Two Frog Home started the Doing Not Thinking (DNT) challenge again. So much more can be accomplished when one has the support and reporting requirements of and to a group.

After joining the group I realized that I had not really thought through what I wanted to accomplish with this challenge. Well, now I have it:

  1. Walk to work at least three days out of the week. Now, keep in mind that I live 2 miles from work so this will be no big deal. The challenge here is making sure I get up in time and leave the house when the bus picks up the girls (8:00 am). I’ve timed it and can walk 2 miles in 30 minutes. Reading this post by Sharon prompted me to get off my arse and start doing something to help fix the problem. Yes, I am but one; however, my one plus another plus another eventually adds up to many. My generation will only see the tip of the climate change iceburg. My children and grands will have to live that horror. If I can save just a little bit of that pain then I will do what I can NOW.
  2. Begin collecting what we need to build a greenhouse. The major challenge on this will be locating the windows. I’d like to repurpose old glass from a building being torn down or old windows being replaced.
  3. Find out what is up with my sewing machine. Straight stitches work just fine. A surging type stitch (zig zag) is too loose to be much good. My Singer machine is older and yes, I still have the original manual. Now, pick yourself off the floor. =) Even using the instructions, these stitches are still too loose.
  4. Make homemade soup using some tallow that we saved from a side of beef. Now Rhonda Jean, over at down–to–earth, has a great soap making tutorial and a current entry about making cold pressed soap. She also includes a soap calculator, though I am not sure I know how to use it. If the tallow does not work, I will make our soap using Rhonda’s process.
  5. Get serious about my home business so I can quit waiting tables (still have my day job). I have started creating an Esty store (the name is subject to change) and while this appeals to my creative nature, I am not sure if this is the way to go. If you needed to buy towels, wash cloths for the home, and cannot make your own, where do you go to get them? Walmart or do you try to buy homemade? If you go the homemade route, do you shop online? What types of online stores do you like? Do you flea market? etc.

This seems like a short list yet is packed with some intense (for me) items. *whew* Now to get started.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Crafting, Doing not thinking, greenhouse, Recycling, self sufficiency, sewing | 1 Comment

As promised

As promised in this post, here are the pictures of my ‘greenhouse. LOL Not as glamorous as some; however it does the trick.
This past weekend was busy: we picked up eggs from a friend and got to see her new additions! We want some piggies of our own. =) We also brought in more wood, hopefully enough to last the rest of the spring and start off the fall, and completed other tasks.
I also used Kathie’s recipe to make crackers. They turned out really well; however, the family would like something a bit more salty. I posted a picture of her recipe as I cannot seem to find it on her blog.
The cold frame is working very well and we have little lettuces beginning to come up (whoo hoo!). Along those lines, I need to remember this post about row covers.

When one has a wood furnace or wood cook stove, lots of wood is burned thus producing a pile of ashes. What to do with all this new material? Numerous websites recommend it as an excellent lime replacement with a note of caution to not use too much of it or the akaline in the soil will increase. This is fine if the plants there are low acidity. I continued the search and found more excellent uses here:

Use wood ashes to:

1. De-skunk pets. A handful rubbed on Fido’s coat neutralizes the lingering odor.

2. Hide stains on paving. This Old House technical editor Mark Powers absorbs wet paint spatters on cement by sprinkling ash directly on the spot; it blends in with a scuff of his boot,

3. Enrich compost. Before the organic compound get applied to soil, enhance its nutrients by sprinkling in a few ashes, says the host of radio’s You Bet Your Garden, Mike McGrath. Adding too much, though, ruins the mix.

4. Block garden pests. Spread evenly around garden beds, ash repels slugs and snails.

5. Melt ice. TOH building editor Tom Baker finds it adds traction and de-ices without hurting soil or concrete underneath.

6. Control pond algae. One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassiumm to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth,

7. Pump up tomatoes. For the calcium-loving plants, McGrath places 1/4 cup right in the hole when planting,

8. Clean glass fireplace doors. A damp sponge dipped in the dust scrubs away sooty residue.

9. Make soap. Soaking ashes in water makes lye, which can be mixed with animal fat and then boiled to produce soap. Salt makes it harden as it cools.

10. Shine silver. A paste of ash and water makes a dandy nontoxic metal polisher.

On the same lines, a cool article from Mother Earth news about Soap Making In The Bush including a diagram for making your very own leaching barrel.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Gardening, recipes, Recycling | Leave a comment

Altoid left overs

Katelyn uses Altoids to keep her tummy settled when when she is under stress so now we have several empty yet cool looking tins. What to do! Now these can be recycled; however, why not make something fun, pretty, and with unique-gift qualities? For me, easier said than done. I did find some great ideas at these links:

As long as I am ‘talking’ crafting, this site has some cool, visually appealing gifts/crafts made from simple stuff. If one were to Google “Altoid tins” there will be a slew of ideas on numerous websites: USB chargers to pin hole cameras, flash lights to my list above. For me, it is all a question of time, money for supplies, and making sure I finish one project before I get excited and start on another.

Now I just need to be able to store my ‘stash’ out of the way so BF doesn’t ask me to pitch them. =)

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Crafting, Recycling | Leave a comment

Lime smoothie and fresh winter veggies

     Ashley’s room is complete!  She thought for a long time and decided on this color – lime smoothie.  Now I realize that to see it on the wall, with not much else in the room, it can be kind of scary; however, now that it is decorated, her room is amazing.  She has two recessed lights above her bed that are on a dimmer Lime Smoothieswitch.  She often studies while lying on her bed and these two lights are wonderful for that type of work.  For those who have seen this room before, behind the bookshelf is the old chimney flu. 

In another bedroom upstairs, the brick flu will be exposed – a bookcase will still be over the front, with brick showing yellow front roombehind.  Ronnie decided he was going to through the larger debris out the window and into the back of his truck.  Sounds good, right?  No mess through the house, no Odi trying to each plaster peices or chewing on the wood and paw prints down the hall.  Hmmm.  It all went well until a peice of wood bounced out of the back of the truck and shattered the truck’s rear window!  Tempered glass EVERYWHERE in the cab (glad his windows were up).  I felt so bad for him and while he replaced shattered tempered glass with plexiglass, I snagged the shop vac and started vaccuuming up little brown glass nuggets.  Poor guy.  He has had the worst luck. 

     As you are aware, Ronnie and I are working towards a more simple lifestyle.  Consume less (reduce), reuse what we do have or recycle.  We look at what we need and then see where we might reuse something to fill that need.  We are currently looking at rebuilding the grape arbor for this spring and planning our garden for the spring and next fall/winter!  It just amazes me that greens can survive in the winter.  We do not get as cold here as in some areas and I wonder if winter gardening will work.  Check out this post about fresh winter veggies. I picked up the book Four Season Harvest and will post once I get into the book more.  I am also trying to finish up The Expected One and picked up In Defense of Food.  Talk about taking on alot to read!  Where am I going to fit this in???   =P

 Enough rambling for the moment.  I also found these – Yummy!

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening, Recycling | , , , | 2 Comments

1st newsletter

Our first newsletter!  My article is titled “Electricity.  Something we all take for granted”.


November 10, 2008 Posted by | Recycling | | Leave a comment

It’s electric!

Not the slide, though I still love that 80’s classic.  What is cool is that my girls love to do the slide and don’t think it is weird when I jump in with them.  =)  Today, I believe, Sally unveals our first Recycling (sustainability) newsletter.  As soon as I have an official copy, I’ll post.

DNTC update:  Recycling at the Preserve is going well, even as an infant.  In Bath County, we do not have trash pickup as you would in cities.  I take my trash to the recycling center (and dump if it cannot be recycled at the center or my compost pile) and then we have Jacks Trash service who will pick up your stuff for a fee.  The Preserve contracts through him for our regular trash as well as recycling.  He called me the other day to say that he still notices alot of mixed paper in our regular trash.  I went ‘dumpster diving’ (we dont really have dumpters, just very large cans) to find the building’s tennant (First National Bank) is not part of the program and then individuals from one of our other buildings are also not recycling – makes it easy to identify individuals when their names are still on the paperwork!

Anyway, for the next newletter in December, my article is about where our electricity comes from (in Virginia we import the same amount we create by burning coal) include copies of the three building electric bills and set a challenge – like no space heaters for a week and see how it impacts the bill.  Our local electric coop can give me the usage for the week we choose for the challenge and then the usage from that same week last year to use as a comparison.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Doing not thinking, Recycling | , | Leave a comment

Recycling fashion

Ronnie and I rode the Yamaha into Marlington WV on Saturday and stopped at the farmers market. While there I found this amazing bag –> It is made with plastic grocery bags! I used mine Sunday to carry 16 ears of corn with room for more. This lady shows how to create dishcloths with this same plarn (how one converts plastic bags into ‘yarn’) as a crochet’d in scrubbie. This lady has some amazing creations. I have started my own bag using Walmart bags and will post when it is complete. For the record, I use cloth bags now when I shop. The Walmart bags I have are left over from the past – I save them for other uses.

We ordered our wood stove today and should have it within the next two weeks. During this period we are borrowing a backho (spelling?) from a friend to dig the concrete pad. Next is to have wood delivered and purchase a Stihl

This rest of this week is going to be a bit tricky as my office is moving from Warm Springs to Hot Springs – just a matter of an 8 minute drive; however, Clarkson & Wallace has been in the Warm Springs office for over 60 years and although my area is fairly clutter free, other parts of the office are not. Today we pack for tomorrow the movers arrive! I have posted two items from my new work office; both items strike a cord in me somewhere. I read this and then wonder how the powers that be do not recycle. Apparantly they want a guarantee that the items we put in the bin will actually be recycled and not placed in the landfill. Well, if I remember correctly, there is only one guarantee and that is death. Some things need to done because it is right, not because of any guarantees. I hope these pictures will open so you can read the inscription. Could not get rid of the glare. =(
Oh, and I have a new front door color! =)

August 20, 2008 Posted by | heating, Recycling | 1 Comment

Outside Wood Furnace Update & Other News

Approval for the equity line was a sweet feeling. My first loan, just me, no cosigners. It feels good to bask in that bit of sunshine. =) I close this Friday and will be able to purchase the wood stove after Wednesday (8/20). I have been speaking with a company in Danville about a Shaver wood furnace and as it turns out, my local furnace guy sells Hardy wood furnaces – I have heard nothing but good about Hardy’s. These furnaces are difficult at best to find on the web and were my first choice with Shaver a close second. The Shaver people are on vacation until the week after next (8/25) and the local furnace guy is on vacation til Tuesday (8/19). Looks like the fates have intervened to provide an efficient furnace, close to home that will allow me to ‘buy local’. =)

Oh, I need to amend an earlier post when I listed the price of the outside wood furnace as between $10-$15k. The Shaver woodstove will run about $6k with Ronnie providing the installation. We have already begun to clear out a huge forsythia that has taken over a fence line and into the side yard. It is a slow go since Ronnie and I have after day jobs.

The meeting with Sally happened today and I feel optimistic about the Preserve’s increasing awareness of recycling and being true stewards of the land (which is a phrase they use in marketing). My goals for this are to scope out places for recycling cans at our new office (we are moving to the main office), which we move into on 8/21 and 8/22. I will then follow up to make sure my new coworkers understand how to recycle. =) Will increase my eccentricity factor! I am excited about the possibilities. I cannot expect the County to make a change if my own company cannot get the hang of recycling. This will also help my endeavors within the comunity – helping other businesses set up recycling.

Odds and Ends: Started my first dishcloth last night, inspired by several ladies that I read, the first that comes to mind is down–to–earth.

Also, anyone know what is the name of this plant?

August 14, 2008 Posted by | heating, Recycling | 8 Comments