Thinking Woman’s Weblog

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Natural Conrol for Fleas, Again June 10, 2009

Filed under: environment,health — Thinking Woman @ 2:06 am

Last year, I wrote up all the information I had learned about natural control of fleas. I thought I knew a thing or two. Some of what we did worked a bit, some didn’t do anything at all

Unfortunately, this spring, the fleas came back with a vengeance. They laughed at everything we tried, and I tried much harder than last year. I spent hours working diatamaceous earth into the carpets with a broom. Do not do this; it jammed up my vacuum cleaner, which I’ll be picking up from the repair shop Thursday, and caused us all to walk around with dusty feet, but it didn’t do a darned thing for the fleas. I did that right before we went away for a week and really expected to come home to a flea free zone. Wrong! They were worse than I’ve ever seen them. It is difficult to believe we have indoor cats!

Okay, so what worked? I just started, out of desperation, spraying the (freshly vacuumed and teeming with fleas) carpets with a spray that has something from orange peels. It is called Orange Guard Water Based Indoor/Outdoor Home Pest Control and I just ordered the gallon size to refill out container. I spray the couches too and this stuff really does the trick!

We still have lights with low soapy water and those do help. Many fleas volunteer themselves.

The cats still have fleas. We bought these cloth flea collars that you put a drop of an oil mix on daily. I am sure cats hate them and not at all sure they are helping. Poor cats. We were combing daily and that helps. We even resorted to bathing them, which affords them about 20 minutes of relief before the fleas all jump back aboard.

I am having trouble seeing the purpose of fleas in the greater scheme of things.


We got Chickens!!!! March 11, 2009

Filed under: environment,health,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 5:11 pm

I forgot to tell you! We got chickens a few weeks ago. Well, chicks, to be more precise.

I never really saw the point of having chickens before it was an option so I tuned it out when other people went on about it, thinking them a bit eccentric. Now I’ve joined the ranks!

My mom, who has lived in the city, asked why on earth anyone would want chickens? Like I’d gone nuts on her. I had to laugh; how insulting and we normally get each other on issues of health and environment.

There are so many reasons to get chickens! Here’s my list:

  • we will have access to organic eggs (more on this later)
  • they are inexpensive
  • they will help with the garden (by producing compost)
  • they are inexpensive
  • they are entertaining
  • they don’t take up much room
  • they are a great beginner “farm animal”
  • the girls love them and it’s a great experience for them
  • I needed to overcome a life-long fear of birds
  • they will reduce pests
  • they will scratch up the whole front yard so there will be no need to fuss with mowing
  • we already have a fenced in front yard

So, are the eggs organic? I have been supporting local egg suppliers because their chickens free range, which is awesome. But it turns out, most people are feeding their chickens some kind of dried pellets from the local feed and seed plus any kind of table scraps, perhaps even including chickens and lots of cooked meat, and giving them free access to bugs and plants. The latter part is cool with me, but I just don’t agree with whatever is in that bag from the feed and seed nor feeding cooked meat to any animal and especially I am weirded out about chickens eating chickens. I am sure they probably are meant to as they are not the brightest animal, but it should be raw, and well, raw poultry is a no-no so it’s just off the list for us.

I will be ordering organic feed once mine are off the chick food.

So far, the girls have been very easy. There was all this fuss about keeping them at such a high temperature when they were tiny but to be honest, they were not actually kept that warm and they are just fine. I put them in the coop way too early but they were just too big for the plastic bin and it was time to get them out of the house. They seem to like their coop and are starting to understand to go back in there for food and water, which makes it easier to lock them back up. For now, we only let them out if we are around as they draw hawks and we even saw a barred owl lurking about right in the middle of the day! This was when they were still in the house! The owl must have been seeing them through the window!


Bidet adjustments February 23, 2009

Filed under: environment,health — Thinking Woman @ 4:25 pm

I bought an inexpensive bidet on Ebay a few months ago and my husband finally got around to installing it a few weeks ago. It only does cold water, which takes getting used to, but not as much as you’d think.

The problem right now is it’s not entirely accurate. I just asked him about this and he thinks he can tweak the aim a bit. Just now it’s mostly shooting up my back. Nice.

He’s going to pull the nozzle forward a bit or move the whole contraption and here’s hoping it’s on target!

It did not solve the issue of needing toilet paper as it is such a directed spray as to only be useful for cleaning the tush. Oh well. I had hoped it would have more coverage and perhaps a pat dry with a wash cloth would do the trick. I guess I could still switch to using wash cloths once we’ve got it aiming correctly. We shall see! At least this is way more sanitary than just smearing! Ick!


Zero Waste January 22, 2009

Filed under: environment — Thinking Woman @ 6:13 pm

No, we are not achieving Zero Waste, nor are we even close. But we are inspired and making changes.

When we moved into our house a year ago, my husband signed us up for trash collection services. They asked our family size and supplied us with a large bin. At first, we overflowed the bin (much to my chagrin). I made daily trips to the local  hardware store for necessities and these items came with a ridiculous amount of packaging. I don’t know that I had any alternatives and some of them I was not willing to hunt around for and do without while setting up house.

Once we got settled in, my husband  noticed we were no longer filling the bin. He called the city and asked to downsize. They refused as we were still a family of four. He managed to convince them to go down one size. After a few weeks, he saw that we were still not filling the bin and he got back on the horn to see about getting a smaller bin. Reluctantly, they agreed to give us the smallest bin they offer. They were seriously annoyed because they were certain that we would come crawling back asking to go to the largest size again.

We have not. We have been many, many months at the single person bin and we don’t fill it. We still have a glut of those stupid plastic bags that they insist upon giving you if you are not careful (or if you are my husband who doesn’t think to refuse the bag). We put out about two bags a week. We put our junk mail in the recycling bin and recycle glass, plastic and metal in the other bin. I compost what I can and do need to compost more; much of what we are throwing out is paper toilet paper wrappers and the cardboard inners. I have got to get  my husband to install the bidet I bought and then I will be switching over to dabbing dry with a wash cloth. Hopefully, the girls will do the same and that will be about half our trash eliminated!

I am not at all sure what to do about our vegetables. We have those delivered and they come in plastic bags. I reuse them whenever they look fine but I do need to ask if they are biodegradable or if perhaps I could supply my own ones – the reusable green ones that are supposed to make greens last longer. I look forward to growing all my own greens but I will still be needing deliveries of fruit and veggies. When I go to farmer’s markets, I shop with my own cloth bags and have them weigh up what I get before I pop it right into my bag loose (which never ceases to shock them – all those intermingling fruit and veggies!)

Other than food, we don’t buy a whole lot of anything any more, really! That is our single largest expenditure, and it is a large expense as I insist on organic as much as possible.

I just did a huge bulk order of meat at discount prices. I don’t know where to put my focus. This meat is all what I’m looking for; the beef is grass fed, the chickens are free range organic, it’s all local. My needs for being a locavore and saving money were satisfied but not zero waste. I needed it individually wrapped for long term freezing. How else to do that but with the plastic in which it came? Not very nice plastic though; I highly doubt that can be recycled. (Don’t know for sure, though.)


Yum! Using Thanksgiving leftovers November 29, 2008

Filed under: environment,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 7:37 pm
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I tried. I really did try not to make a ton of extra food for Thanksgiving. We were blessed with friends this year – my ideal way to celebrate this very special day. It is a fine art (and one I haven’t mastered) having enough food so everyone gets plenty of what they love and there isn’t any waste.

I didn’t do all that badly. Yesterday, we reheated the leftovers and pretty much polished them off. I don’t use most things after 24-48 hours, so the last little bits went into the compost bin. I also froze some things that I had made way too much of including some delicious cranberry sauce. Also, I am not sure what I was thinking because I have even more cranberries as yet uncooked.

What to do with all these cranberries?

I’ve been loving this cherry yogurt imported from Greece, but it does seem fairly outrageous to have on a regular basis. Just now, I tried some of the cranberry stuff I made (simmered with orange & lemon juice and zest plus some pecans) with the yogurt plus some Stevia. Yum! Really quite as good as the Greek yogurt and from local foods! Now I know what I’ll be doing with the extra cranberries! It feels great to use something in season. I imagine I’ll get a bit tired of having it daily. But then, the cranberries will be all gone and it’ll be a whole year before I can enjoy that again.


Please Help Me Reduce Junk Mail!

Filed under: environment,unplugging — Thinking Woman @ 7:29 pm

Help! I am in the USA. I moved 9 months ago and those suckers have found me again! I have tried so many reduction plans over the years including sending letters as described on websites – most of those letters came back to me as undeliverable. I have popped the trash magazines into the mail. I have called places and sat on hold for long periods of time.

I am only human! When a lovely Pottery Barn magazine shows up, it is possible that as I rip off my name/address for shredding, I might happen to catch a peek at something and start flipping through and wanting stuff I never even knew existed but now must have. No need for all this in the first place!

Make it stop! Help! Send me legitimate information on how to get this to stop! Things you have personally seen work, not just links to websites. Thank you in advance!


Inspired to Clean the Fridge November 20, 2008

Filed under: environment — Thinking Woman @ 6:07 pm
Newly cleaned and organized fridge

I have been noticing for some time how much food I wind up not using before it goes bad. Mostly, it’s fruits and vegetables, and also some dairy. It usually has to do with good intentions of my higher self that my so-called CBA (can’t be arsed) self didn’t follow through on. In other words, I put all kinds of healthy goodies into my shopping basket which all required preparation and then wound up either eating out or just not getting to the wholesome foods.

A few weeks ago, Mrs. Green posted about her newly clean fridge. We bought our nice new refrigerator in February. It’s now November. The last time I cleaned it was, now, let me see….hmmm….Oh. Yeah, right. Never. That’s right, I’ve never cleaned it. And what’s worse, I have not really delved into the depths and removed all old scary items.

Mrs. Green’s post was weighing heavily on my conscience. The other day, a friend was over and peeked into my compost bin. She gave me a slap of reality. There was, for example, an entire bunch of celery in there. She commented that she’d have used some of the things I chose to ditch. Well, I mumbled, it had frozen. Well, she retorted, why not use it for soup? Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. I pretty much only use celery in tuna salad, which we don’t have all that often, so if it freezes before I get to it, I wouldn’t want to use it. (Yeah, of course it should not be freezing, but no refrigerator is perfect, even my amazing double door one with 22sf capacity and totally removable shelves that goes 0-60 in 7 seconds flat. I’ll twiddle the setting and see if I can get it to stop freezing my celery.)

My Gorgeous Huge Fridge

My Gorgeous Huge Fridge

The combined effect of being called out for so much waste and Mrs. Green’s photo of her shiny new fridge inspired me to roll up my sleeves. It took a good 90 minutes to get all the food unloaded, shelves washed and rearranged to better suit my needs and food reloaded. It looks very spiffy in there now. I am a bit confused; we are a family of four and Mrs. Green is a family of three and their fridge has almost nothing in it. Ours is not exactly bursting, but it’s pretty darned full.

I wonder if the difference can be chalked up to cultural differences? I, for example, get most fruits and veggies plus raw milk, local eggs and cheese delivered weekly. And unfortunately, the farmer’s market, where I can buy locally grown organic produce and free range eggs and chicken is on exactly the same day. Seeing as that was yesterday, I am pretty well stocked. (And it didn’t help that I forgot what I’d ordered and doubled up on a number of things.) The health food store I go to has a 10% off sale on the following day, so I tend to pile on even more must-haves into an already bursting refrigerator (although this week I am going to try to skip it seeing as how next week is Thanksgiving and will be costly with the obligatory feast.) I guess that since Mrs. Green is in the UK, she probably shops a few times a week at a conveniently local store that she can walk to. And that is why her refrigerator looks like it could only feed everyone for that same day. Well, that’s my guess, anyway. And like I said, my fridge doesn’t always look so stuffed.

I do hope this exercise helps me better see what I’ve got in there so I can use it up in the proper order!