Friday, January 30, 2009

My Nanna's watch

My Nanna's watch has been sitting unloved at the bottom of my jewelry box for about 10 years.

It was scratched, and a bit ugly - didn't have a strap and was instead on a piece of black elastic (on account of my Nanna's arthritis). It also didn't work.

But last weekend I decided to dig it up. After going watch free for almost 8 years and cellphone free for the last year, I decided it was time for me to know the time. :)

So I dropped it off at my neighbourhood watch repair and the owner was SO great. He told me that it was a very good quality watch and just needed a good cleaning and a new winder (its a wind-up watch - no battery), he even said he would buff the scratches out of the crystal face.

I picked up the watch today and he was true to his word. I wish I had taken a before picture to really show the transformation. He did an amazing job and it works like a charm. Apparently it will keep working for another 50 years or so if I take care of it.

I'm so pleased that I was able to get an existing watch repaired and not buy a new one. But more importantly I'm happy to be wearing a watch with special meaning to me.

For those from Ottawa who have watches or clocks they'd like repaired, here are some places to check out:
  • Kayas Watch and Clock Shop (2121 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON)

  • L'horlage de l'outaouais (4 rue Farmer - Gatineau, QC)

  • Time Sharpening (15 Beechwood Ave, Ottawa, ON)

  • The Time Shop Inc (2660 Southvale Crescent, Ottawa, ON)

  • Watch Clinic (431 Bank St, Ottawa, ON)

Most jewelry stores will also repair watches.

Oh and for anyone keeping track of my January expenditures on consumer goods, this puts me just over my 10% of average for the month.

I had thought about crocheting a watch strap but in the end decided that this watch was too precious to me to risk losing so I bought a new strap. Total cost= $14.50.

I was at $90.28 for the month so far. With the watch strap I'm now at: $104.78. Not bad but still not great. Especially as I know I have some big expenses coming up!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cool event at the Wild Oat - Ottawa

Ended up at the Wild Oat tonight. Love that place. I think it's what hubby and I miss the most now that we no longer live in the Glebe.

Turns out it was fortuitous for us to stumble in there tonight as it meant we learned about an event series that we might not have otherwise.

It's called Science Cafe and it happens every second Wednesday from 6:30-7:30 at the Wild Oat. It's hosted by the faculty of Science at Carleton University.

Some upcoming talks of note include:

Feb. 11 - Green Biotechnology: Harnessing plant biomass for biofuels and biomaterials
Feb. 25 - Water blues: Bottled water vs. tap water
June 3 - The trade-off between housing density and sprawl area: Minimizing impacts to forest biodiversity

And if you can't get to discussions you want to because, oh I don't know, a 50 DAY bus strike, or if you are not from Ottawa, there are podcasts available.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to make a crochet hook case

The cool thing about trying to keep my consumption of consumer goods to a minimum is that I get to avoid spending hours in shops looking for the perfect thing, likely not finding it and having to make do with a lesser option. Instead, I get to make exactly what I want to my own specifications.

This crochet hook case is a good example. I made it over the last two nights with second hand cotton, my grandmother's thread and button, and my super fabulous second hand sewing machine.

Here are more pics of the finished product:

Here's how to make your own:
  • 2 pieces of fabric that are 16"x10" (in my case one green and one blue)

  • 2 pieces of fabric that are 16"x6" (one green and one blue)

  • 1 piece of fabric that is 23"x1" (I left mine with a rough edge but if you want to finish it you'll likely need it to be 23"x2"

  • thread

  • a button

  • pins

  1. put the 2 16x6 pieces of fabric right sides together and sew along one of the long edges 0.5" from the edge

  2. turn right side out and iron the seam flat

  3. position this piece along the lower edge of the 16x10 piece that will become the lining of the case (in my case this was the blue piece). Pin the two pieces together (in my case this meant the right side of the 16x10 piece was facing up as was the green side of 16x6 fabric piece.

  4. mark where you want the crochet hook slots to go - I had to do this with pins as I don't have any fabric chalk

  5. sew where you have marked with the pins. You can go all the way to the top or not. I decided to leave about 1 inch from the top.

  6. put this piece right sides together with the remaining 16x10 piece (in my case the green piece) and sew along all the edges leaving about 6" on the top long side (in order to turn the piece inside out)

  7. turn inside out and sew up the hole with an invisible slip stitch

  8. roll up the case and tie with the 23x1 piece.

  9. mark where you'd like the button to go

  10. sew the button on to the case attaching the strap to the case

Pics to go with these instructions can be found on flickr.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekly garbage tally

6lbs garbage
3lbs compost
14lbs recycling (paper)

So that's 20lbs total (not counting compost). Yikes. We didn't do so great this week. In my defense we did decide to clean out the filing cabinet. Still I've always known we have too much paper recycling. Now I'm really motivated to do something about it.

As far as the Riot goes, this week we are at 62% of average

16.1x2=32.2 (for 2 people)
20/32.2=62% of average

(28% (last week)+ 62% (this week) ) / 2 = 45% of average over two weeks

The good news is that we produced 1 lb less compost so we are doing well for Crunchy's Food Waste Reduction Challenge

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our love affair is over rubber gloves

Isn't if funny how sometimes the obvious things are the hardest to see?

I've always used rubber gloves to do the dishes. Always.

Never even questioned it.

Even though I regularly punctured the right glove within a few weeks. Even when the pile of still intact but useless left gloves piled up. Even when I threw the torn/punctured gloves in the garbage. I continued to buy more gloves.

But no more. Rubber gloves, you and I have had our last dance.

You are plastic. You are disposible. You and I are through.

Photo by How can I recycle this

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


"And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. "

-US President Obama's inaugural address

Monday, January 19, 2009

End the Ottawa bus strike petition

My armchair activism tonight consisted of signing Ecology Ottawa's petition to end the 40 day old Ottawa public transit strike.

For those not from Ottawa, yep, that's right, the cosmopolitan centre that is Ottawa has been without public transit for 40 days.

This article estimates that nearly 200,000 transit commuters are now driving to work. They then go on to estimate what the bus strike has cost commuters in terms of dollars. But let's take a sec to figure out what the strike has cost in terms of carbon footprint.

According to the article, because of the bus strike there are 97,000 extra cars on the road. The article further estimates that each car is traveling 40km a day.

By my calculations (see below). That means that 9,564,200L of gasoline is used by these extra cars.

Subtracting the approximate litres of gasoline that would have been used by public transit (calculations below): 5,456,978 .....

means that a grand total of 4,107,222 extra litres of gasoline has been used during the 40 days of the strike. That's equivalent to the ANNUAL gasoline consumption of 3,411 people. In 40 days.

p.s. my math skills suck so feel free to double check my calculations. Hubby that means you.

Gasoline usage of extra cars:
Assuming there have been 29 working days since the strike started (I'm counting the holidays but I'm not factoring in for folks who work on the weekends so I figure it balances. Ish).

So 97,000x40=3,880,000km extra travelled per day per car
x29 days=112,520,000km extra travelled by car for the whole strike so far.

Let's say the average fuel consumption is 8.5L per 100km (that's somewhere between a Toyota Yaris and a Rav4).

That means:
8.5x(112,520,000/100)=9,564,200L of gasoline

Is anyone bored yet of math?

Gasoline that would have been used by public transit:

According to the article, nearly 200,000 folks are no longer taking the bus. And these folks are travelling 40km each day for 29 days (using the above numbers).

If each of these people were doing the Riot for Austerity, they would have to count that travel at 100mpg.
232,000,000km=144,158,117 miles

144,158,117/100=1,441,581 gallons=5,456,978 litres

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Garbage weigh-in

According to my fab remodeled bathroom scale, between the two of us, we made the following waste this week:

Garbage: 5lbs
Compost: 4lbs
Recycling: 4lbs (this week is plastic and glass)

That means we made a total of 9 lbs garbage which puts us at 28% of average.
Photo by Editor B

While we aren't counting our compost waste, we are going to try to reduce that as well and have signed up for Crunchy Chicken's latest challenge - the "Food Waste Reduction Challenge".

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Like unstuffed, I have sinned and purchased something new. But in my case it is somethings (heavy on the s) new, and they are much more frivolous than unstuffed's transgression.

Here's the tally of all the things I've bought so far this year (that I think fall into the consumer goods category of the Riot):

Used (from the Salvation Army):
  1. Lamp base (love this lamp - its in the pic above. You can't really tell from the pic but it's a gorgeous blue) $1.99

  2. 5 crochet hooks: $0.99

  3. Book (will be a gift): $1.99 (was priced at 3.99 but I got $2 off at the register - score!)
Total used: $4.97

  1. Lamp shade for above lamp (from Ikea): $14

  2. New hanging lamp for the living room (also Ikea. Replaced the nasty floor lamp I bought in my first year of university. Only bought it because it was the cheapest lamp I could find and I was poor): $17.99

  3. Essential oils (basil, vetiver and bitter orange): $5.95, $7.95, and $4.95 respectively

  4. Shampoo: $8.50 (yes I know that's a lot but its organic and doesn't have any nasty stuff in it. I'm not ready to go the no 'poo method just yet.)

  5. 1 Urban Forest soap: $5

  6. 4 beeswax tealights: $5.99 (what the? Why did I buy the most expensive tealights in the city?)

  7. glass spritzer bottle (for making aromatherapy facial/room spritzer): $1.99

  8. clf lightbulbs: $17.96
Total new: $90.28

Wow. That's more than I thought I'd spent. Luckily I don't have to count donated items (e.g. from the Salvation army, rummage sales etc.) according to the Riot Rules. But I certainly have to count all that new stuff. Hmmm. If I have my calculations correct, 10% of average on a monthly basis would be $104.16. I'm almost there already and the month isn't over yet!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cabin fever

So I'm well into my second week of sick leave. And I'm bored.

I can't sleep anymore. I just can't. And I've watched more tv in the last few weeks than I think I did all last year. The only upside from that is that I got to watch the entire series of Freaks and Geeks. Do yourself a favour and watch this show. But I digress....

In order to deal with the absolute boredom that is sick leave I started a project.

About a month ago a good friend of mine freecycled to me this old scale.

I instantly fell in love. I mean come on! It's PINK! (not that I necessarily love pink but there is just something so gorgeously retro about pink enamel).

But it was kind of grotty. It had been well loved and used over the years and the pink carpet top was a bit worse for wear and the dust on the inside was so thick that it was hard to see the numbers on the dial. So I decided to give the scale a makeover.

First I scraped the paint splatter from the top of the scale.

Then I took it apart to deal with the dust.

This is what the inside looked like:
And this is what the inside looked like all cleaned up:
And this is what it looked like all put back together: Hello beautiful!

Putting it back together was not as easy as I thought it would be. Basically if you are doing this you need to make sure the 4 arms inside the scale come together (and connect) in the middle. This will ensure that no matter where you step on the scale you will get the same reading. I did not do this the first time. This resource was helpful when I was trying to figure it out.

Once I got that sorted, I got to fixing the top. I pulled off the carpet and then made a new top out of an old shirt I had (that had a rip in it I couldn't fix), the stuffing from an old pillow and some cardboard.

Here's a montage of how that went:

And here's the finished product:

I'm not entirely satisfied with it though and I'm not sure why. Perhaps the top is too puffy? OR maybe its that too much of the pink enamel is covered up? Or maybe it's the fabric? If I was buying new fabric I'd have bought something white with big pink and maybe turquoise polka dots. But anyway, it will certainly do for now.

Most important is the reason I got it in the first place. To weigh my garbage. Yep, that's right, a full year into the Riot and I'm only now getting around to weighing my garbage. Don't worry, I'm not going to put the garbage on my pretty scale. I'm going to put me on the scale while I'm holding the garbage. First official garbage weigh in will be this Sunday.