Sunday, April 26, 2009

New clothes!

I bought some clothes last weekend. This was very exciting because:
  1. I hadn't intended to (don't you always find the best clothes when you aren't really looking?) and

  2. Because I actually can't remember the last time I bought clothes. I bought those shoes last November but clothes? Dang, I think it's been at least a year and a half.
To be fair, I have recieved some second hand clothes as gifts during that time, but it's been a long time, since I went shopping, tried some stuff on and actually came home with clothes!

Look at the totally cute stuff I got:

I got these dresses:

The black and white one is for the weddings that I get to go to this summer (needs taking in a bit but otherwise looks great). The other one is just for fun.

Then I got these two tops:

Cute huh? The mauve coloured one is cuter on than it is on the hanger.

So I bet you are all wondering if I totally blew my consumer goods allowance right? (If I'm sticking to the Riot for Austerity, I should only be spending $104.16 a month on consumer goods).

Well the answer is not even close! I got all these gorgeous clothes for only $35. That's right. The total cost for all those (plus some super cute fabric and a long tunic) was only $35. Folks, the Salvation Army is where it is at! You can't believe the great stuff they have there!

Since we are talking about consumer goods, I thought it might be a good time to do a bit of a tally of where we are at. So here goes.

As of Feb. 21, we had spent $111.78. Since then we have spent:

1. Soap - $6
2. Toothpaste x2 - $12
3. Mascara - $30 (I lost all my makeup over the Christmas holidays in transit. Was hoping it would turn up but it hasn't. So I treated myself to some Dr. Hauschka mascara)
4. Dish soap and TP - $8 (Nature Clean dish soap in bulk and tp from Cascades wrapped in paper, no plastic. Both from Arbour Environmental Shoppe)
5. Clothes - $35
6. Rona - $71.18 (misc house stuff bought by hubby)

That comes to a grand total of: $162.18. But according to the Riot rules, I don't have to count the salvation army clothes, so that means the total is more like: $127.18

Add this to the total from last time (111.78) and that give a grand total of $238.96! That's for almost 4 months! Woot! So we are still hovering at 6% of the Canadian average. You'll notice we haven't bought our water filter yet. But we are still going to so that will affect the next numbers.

If you are in the Ottawa area, there are so many great thrift shops worth checking out.

Here is a short list:
What's your favourite thrift store?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Great Ottawa event tonight

Thomas Homer-Dixon and William Marsden will be talking about climate change, peak oil and how these two are defining our future. It's one of the great talks happening at the Ottawa Writers Fest. Someone please go and tell me about it - I'm sick and hubby is making me stay in bed (had to sneak out to write this!!). :-)

with Thomas Homer-Dixon and William Marsden

Tickets: $15 / $10 Student or Senior
Free for Festival Members and Carleton Students

The twin crises of climate change and peaking oil production are converging on us. If they are not to cook the planet and topple our civilization, we will need informed and decisive policies, clear-sighted innovation, and a lucid understanding of what is at stake. We depend on carbon energy to fuel our complex economies and societies, and at the same time this very carbon is fatally contaminating our atmosphere. We still have a chance to tackle two monumental challenges with one innovative solution: clean, low-carbon energy. Join editor Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Ingenuity Gap and The Upside of Down, and contributor William Marsden, author of Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care) for a conversation on their new book Carbon Shift: How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reduced consumption=savings

We got our taxes done over the weekend (big thanks to my fab sister-in-law who gave us a hand).

Since we rent out the apartment on the main floor, we get to include half of the shared expenses on our taxes. This includes among other things, water and heat.
Photo by ArtemFinland
Because I'm soooooo organized (ha!), I have a spreadsheet that I update once a year with the monthly and yearly totals for these expenses.

Hubby and I were both surprised and pleased to see that when compared with last year, we saved $728 on the cost of water and heat alone!

Total cost of natural gas in 2007 = $2,395
Total cost of water in 2007 = $748
Grand total for water and natural gas in 2007 = $3,143

Total cost of natural gas in 2008 = $2,022
Total cost of water in 2008 = $393
Grand total for water and natural gas in 2008 = $2,415

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We are officially fridge-free

On Saturday the folks at The Great Refrigerator Roundup, took away our (estimated) 20 year old fridge to be recycled.

As it had been a year and a half since we last had that old clunker plugged in we thought it was pretty safe to send it off to be with the great refrigerator in the sky.

Now we are wondering what to do with this space. Especially since as you'll notice, part of the floor under the fridge is duct-taped down particle board. Classy.

We are toying with the idea of bringing the freezer upstairs. Would be slightly less efficient as our kitchen is not as cool as the basement, but man, would it ever be more convenient. We live on the second and third floor of an up and down duplex and so getting anything out of the freezer means: getting shoes on, going out the back door, down the stairs, through the garden, down some more stairs, unlocking the door to the basement, crouching down a bit (our basement is not at full height), and making my way over to the freezer being careful not to bang my head on any pipes/beams etc.. It's a bit of a pain in the butt. If we had the freezer upstairs I'd eat so much better. Now it's like, ooooh, I could make a smoothie with the raspberries, strawberries and blueberries I have in the freezer. Or, I could eat this cookie. Hmmmm, the cookie is right here....fruit is in the basement...cookie it is!

Thoughts? Anyone feel like helping me rationalize this? :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Garbage check-in. Sortof.

Well it's no surprise but I've been a bit lazy about keeping track of our garbage. It's not that we are producing a lot, its that it's such a pain in the ass to weigh everything each week.

But I decided to do it this week because it's been 9 weeks (!) since we last took out our blue box (plastic and aluminum recycling). And while it is quite full, it isn't even that heavy - only 9lbs.

In order to get to 9 weeks, I started crushing everything that I put in the box - milk cartons, pop cans etc. It's amazing how much space that frees up. Imagine if everyone did that. Even without anyone changing their buying habits, I bet that alone would mean that the blue bin would only need to be collected once a month instead of once every two weeks. Think how much carbon would be saved from the garbage trucks being off the road.

Making do

A friend gave me a recipe for cinnamon cake which I wanted to make today. So I strolled over to the grocery store all set to buy some cinnamon. I normally get my spices from Herb and Spice because they sell spices in bulk but I didn't have time to walk all the way over there so I decided to get some at the store around the corner instead. But when I got there and saw all the spices in their plastic bags and bottles, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Then I remembered that I had cinnamon sticks at home. I wondered if I could grind them up myself, decided to give it a try and turned around and walked back home.

I tried two ways of grinding:
1. with a zester/rasp
2. with a mortar and pestle

The rasp produced a very fine powder just like you'd buy at the store. But I have to admit that with every grate I felt like I was dulling or worse about to completely break my rasp. For the record, cinnamon sticks are hard as rocks! After making only about 1/4tsp of powder, I switched to the mortar and pestle.

The mortar and pestle produced a coarser powder and didn't take too much effort (only a few minutes of work). Because it was so easy, and because I wanted my rasp to live to see another day, I used the mortar and pestle for the rest of the 2tsp of cinnamon I needed.

I would definitely do this again. I love using up stuff I already have before buying something new, and also, freshly ground cinnamon smells amazing! Way better than the pre-ground stuff.

Here's what the finished cake looks like. I decided to throw some apples on top with the cinnamon sugar because I had some in the cooler. I just ate a piece and am v. happy with how it turned out. P'haps I need another piece just to be sure though.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Source of the Canadian stats I use

I got a comment from Stephen the other day asking about the Canadian stats in the right nav. Stephen mentioned that he'd been looking around and found some stats but was not able to find one definitive source for all these stats (in one place).

I encountered the same thing when I was doing my research. I was not able to find one source for all the Riot for Austerity stats. But I did find some cool sites which have an awful lot of information on environmental statistics.
Photo by ArtemFinland

One of these is Earthtrends the other is Statistics Canada. Earthtrends is an online database of worldwide environmental information. The Stats Canada website contains Canadian statistics on just about anything - economy, environment, demographics etc.

While those two sources are good, I did have to bounce around to a few other sites to get stats on all the Riot for Austerity categories, so below are the links to all the sources I found for each of the categories (except food).

I am using the Earthtrends info on gasoline consumption per capita.

Electricity: I found two sources for this: Earthtrends and also this source that had Ontario averages. Since the Earthtrends avg for Canada seemed so much higher than the US average (used by most of the Rioters), I used the average for Ontario instead.

Heating/cooking: I haven't been able to find a stat for this so I am just using the US stat from the Riot for Austerity which I converted from therms to cubic metres. If anyone can find a Canadian average I'd be very happy! Recently I read somewhere that the average for Ontario is something like 4,000 cubic metres per household per year, but I couldn't find the source for that number.

I'm using this information from Stats Canada on waste production per capita.

Water: I had a hard time finding stats on water use but eventually I found this from Environment Canada on municipal water use.

Consumer Goods:
It's back to Stats Canada for the Average household expenditures by province.

Monday, April 6, 2009

No more disposable utensils!

After making a utensil carrying case for my friend Unstuffed in trade for some yoga instruction, I decided to make one for myself. I designed it to fit these funny forkknifespoon combo thingys I was given a few years ago. They're a little awkward but they are lightweight which is a bonus because my purse is heavy enough! I also wanted to make sure there was enough room for my cloth napkin and some chopsticks.

I left one slot free in case I find anything else I'd like to carry around (the glass straws that Fake Plastic Fish uses come to mind).

If anyone wants to make their own case, I made it the same way as the crochet case I made a while ago just with slightly larger pieces of fabric (approx. 15"x11" for the large pieces and 6"x11" for the small pieces).

Like the crochet case, this utensil case is made with all second hand materials.

But enough about that, can we talk about this button? I totally love this button! It was in a bag of buttons that my sister-friend (known each other since we were babies so we are like sisters) bought for me on Ebay for Christmas. Thank you C! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


We had a great time today at the annual family day at our local sugar shack.

First we ate a delicious breakfast smothered in syrup. The guy handing out the styrofoam plates said "thanks!" when he saw I had my own plate. :)

After eating, we wandered around looking at the sled dogs. I SO wanted to take the one home that cried every time someone stopped petting him. Then we checked out the lumberjack competition. FINALLY we made our way over to the maple taffy stand (also known as THE reason for going to the sugar shack).

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure, they make the taffy by boiling the syrup until it is thick and then pour it over snow or crushed ice and then they roll the taffy onto a stick. Mmmmmmm sweet maple goodness.

I love this sugar shack because it's the only one inside the city, it's in our neighbourhood (local maple syrup within walking distance!), and they collect the syrup the old school way with buckets.