Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Hyper Cat

My smallest cat, Nola, who's also usually the calmer one, has been on edge this week. She's obsessed with a corner in the living room and has been spending several hours (that's right, hours!) a day staring at it. I even caught her standing on her back legs in order to look into the light socket! She regularly runs away from the corner and over to me, and then back again, like she's trying to tell me something. Hmmm...I hope there isn't something living in the wall! She's also a cat who growls a lot in her sleep. Overactive imagination? If only I spoke Cat.

Friday, November 03, 2006


A quick tip about painting:

The next time you paint a room in your house, don't just save the extra paint in the original cans in your basement or garage. Fill a small jar or similar container with a small amount of the paint. Don't forget to label it! If the wall gets scratched or damaged in some way you can quickly touch it up without having to open large paint cans.

I also find it useful to keep a log of when rooms are painted and the exact shade of paint used to paint them. This can really come in handy in the long run!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cheaper Heating Bill

As the weather gets colder and heaters get turned on, bills suddenly go way up. No matter what form of heat you use, those cold winter months mean shelling out more money. Here are a few things I do to save on heat costs.
  • Turn the heat down at night. An obvious one, I know, but think about how low you're setting the thermostat. If you keep your house between 68 and 70 degrees during the day and turn it down to 65 at night you won't save a whole lot. Try 55. How much heat do you really need at night? That's what warm pajamas and blankets are for.
  • Block vents in underused rooms. If you have a room that's used primarily for storage or as a guest room you don't need to pump heat into it regularly (unless you keep temperature-sensitive materials in it.) Some vents turn off easily, others can be blocked with a piece of cardboard or plywood.
  • Start baking! If you use the oven (which I do frequently in the winter) take that into account when you set the thermostat. If I plan on baking in the morning I often don't turn the thermostat up right away. If I bake during the day I usually turn the thermostat down. Ovens produce a lot of heat. Use it!
  • Check for cold air. If you have windows or doors that could use new weather stripping your heating bill will show it. Even a little fabric can help in those situations.
  • Dress for the weather! Just because you have the option of turning the heat up doesn't mean you should wear t-shirts around the house. A sweater and warm slippers can lower the heat bill, too.
If you're in a colder area, enjoy these wintry evenings!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Firefox Add-ons

If you use a Firefox browser there are plenty of add-ons to customize your web experience. I love how easy they are to install - I often try them, keep them if I like them and delete them if I don't. Here are two of my favorites:

  • Morning Coffee - This is my longstanding favorite. It creates a button in your browser that allows you to open a number of websites at once. You can customize it by day. I have mine set for different blogs on different days, newspapers every day, and bill-paying information once a week. Very handy and I definitely access it throughout the day and not just once each morning!
  • Addictive Typing Lessons - This is my new favorite. Although I have respectable enough typing skills I still find it enjoyable to click on the icon and have a variety of typing activities to challenge myself with. I always thought I was a fast typist, but I've learned that, while I type words and sentences quickly, random series of letters really throw me for a loop!
Let me know if you have any favorites. I'm always looking to try new ones!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quick Cat Training

Having indoor/outdoor cats can sometimes be a hassle, particularly when you need the cats back in the house at night or before you leave on vacation. I don't know about your cats, but mine will look at me from across the yard and show no interest in returning to the house. If I try to bring them in they think I'm playing a game and they run just far enough away to be out of reach, wait for me to catch up, and run some more. I've found that treat bags work wonders. Most cats love the occasional treat and bags like Friskies make a distinct sound when crumpled. If my cats hear the sound they come running and can easily be lured in the house for one measly treat. This is a great alternative to the old opening-a-can trick because you can use the same treat bag again and again!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Natural Toothpaste

Okay, I admit it, toothpaste in a tube really disgusts me. I've never enjoyed squeezing it onto my toothbrush or the feel of the paste in my mouth. That being said, I also prefer more natural methods of keeping my teeth healthy. I tried just using baking soda and water, but the baking soda left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I really didn't look forward to brushing. Then I was introduced to tooth powder. At first I was wary, but I've been using it for over a year and I'm hooked! There are different brands and varieties and I've only tried a few (I really like Eco-Dent), but I love the idea of powder instead of paste. This is also a great tooth cleanser to travel with - if it breaks in your luggage you can sweep it up and nothing gets ruined! Two added bonuses for me are that 1) you need very little to brush with and 2) if you normally share your toothpaste with someone else there's less contact on the actual brush than with a tube.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Grocery Shopping

I have found that the best way to remember everything that I need at the grocery store is to keep an ongoing list in my kitchen. This list isn't just a piece of paper that I write items on. I use a typed and laminated grocery list. I have it divided by category (produce, frozen, condiments, etc) with the items I most commonly buy listed, along with blank spaces for less commonly bought items. Next to each item is a check box. As I run out of any ingredient in my kitchen I immediately put a check next to that item on the grocery list. This is a very effective way of keeping my kitchen stocked. As I do my menu planning I use the list in the same way and check off any ingredients necessary.