Monday, November 30, 2009

How Bazaar

The word bartering conjures up images of an open market, goods and produce being swapped for services or assets, people haggling, making deals and trading. It doesn't strike me as something that has a place in today's society, though Wikipedia tells me that it is and that there are internet sites set up specifically for this purpose.

The idea has always intrigued me and my first experience with it was this past summer when we ran into a Swiss baker at the Salem Farmer's market that Joe was acquainted with. We were buying some organic bread when Joe learned that Armand loves hand made soap and suggested a trade. Armand was more than happy, as were we, in that we got 2 delicious loaves of organic, artisanal bread for just 2 bars of soap. What a deal!

Last evening, at the "Don't Look a Gift Pig in the Eye" Holiday fair, the woman at the table next to me was a jewelry designer that I had met last summer at the Jazz and Soul Festival. She had purchased some soaps then and said she was going to buy some more last night. I told her I'd love to trade some soap for a piece of her jewelry, and she was enthusiastic. Sure enough, at the end of the night she came and picked out 4 bars of soap and I found a gorgeous pair of dangly blue earrings and a Tibetan jade key ring. This is fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three Percent

There's a commercial that has been on TV recently which talks about cutting down on our electrical usage by 3% a year for the next 10 years. A good way to cut down on carbon emissions, consumption and our electrical bills. What a great idea! Three percent isn't all that much and who doesn't love a challenge?

Our average electrical bill is about $80/month. To save 3% would be about $2.50 each month. Not so much, but over the course of a year and increased by 3% each following year, it would make a difference. A few years ago we switched out all our light bulbs (much to Joe's dismay!) to CFLs, even the outdoor ones. Sure, they take a bit of time to reach max brightness, needing a few minutes to warm up, but the decrease in our electrical bill was noticeable. We keep our automatic thermostat at 63 during the day and 58 at night. We don't heat the upstairs. We've switched out (again, to Joe's dismay) our shower heads to low-flow ones. Some things are a bigger sacrifice than others, no doubt about it.

So other than turning off lights when we leave the room, walking to shops when possible, using rain barrels for watering the gardens and replacing our old appliances with energy star approved models as they wear out, I'm wondering what else we can do to save electricity and resources? Suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Before the Fall

Each year around this time I try to remember to get a photo of the Japanese Maple in front of our house, and each year the leaves have fallen before I get around to it. But not this year, this year is different; yesterday I grabbed the camera after a woman walking by with her dog commented on the great color and I was able to catch the image before the first fiery red leaf fell off.

In the spring the tree produces lovely reddish-maroon leaves, they're pretty but not stunning. During the last week of October, on cue, the leaves go from "nice" to an amazing fiery red before the leaves curl up and fall off.

We also have our outdoor lights up and functioning after 8 weeks of no lighting-- just in time for Halloween and the trick-or-treaters. I'm so happy with how the house looks and the Japanese Maple is the icing on the cake.