Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Green By Reducing Junk Mail

Today is Earth Day 2015.  I have written several blogs about saving the earth, so today I am taking a different approach.  We all get tons of junk mail which definitely isn't earth friendly.  All this extra paper depletes our resources and clogs up the landfills.  Unless you deal with excess mail everyday, it has a tendency to accumulate.  We do recycle everything we can.  I also shred some of it and either compost it or feed it to my worms, but the best thing would be to not receive it at all.

Recently I discovered an app called Paper Karma.

It is a Free smartphone app.  I know a lot of my friends don't have smartphones and don't feel the need to have one, but these phones have so many more uses than just talking on the phone.  Having a camera available at all times is a great reason.   The paper karma app uses the phones camera to take a picture of the junk mail address.   Once you submit the photo of the name and address of the company you consider junk, they contact the company to have your name taken off the distribution list.  Just like the no call list, some companies are either too small or don't qualify for some reason.  I figure eliminating a few is better than nothing.

There are probably many ways to do this without the app, but the phone application makes it so easy.  I admit I haven't had it long enough to see if the junk mail is actually reduced, but hopefully it works.  I am really tired of getting credit card offers.  After the picture is submitted and accepted, the app will confirm "success" with this message....

VoilĂ ! We've sent your request successfully!

It may take a few weeks for the company to process your request.
We'll check back in 12 days to make sure they honored it.

I have no monetary interest in this app, and there may be many others that do the same thing.  I just hope it works.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Make Microwave Popcorn in a Paper Lunch Bag

It's recipe Tuesday again, but instead of making a main dish today I am posting a Facebook recipe that is making the rounds.  Many of you may already do this.  It is making popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag.  I noticed the price of microwave popcorn has increased and this recipe can be made for much less.  I found popcorn for sale in bulk for $.70 a pound.  There is about two cups of popcorn kernels in one pound which equals about 12 cents worth of popcorn per batch.  It also uses olive oil which is a much healthier fat.

Brown Bag Popcorn

1/3 cup popcorn
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 t. salt

Put the dry popcorn in the paper bag.  Put the salt and oil in the bag.  Give the bag a little shake and fold over top of the bag a couple times.  Put the bag in the microwave for about 2 minutes 30 seconds.  If you hear the popping stop before this amount of time, you may have to stop the microwave early.

If you like kettle corn, just put a Tablespoon of sugar in the bag with the oil and salt.

WARNING:  The first time I tried this, I mixed the salt, oil and sugar together and poured in on the popcorn.  Don't do that, the bag almost caught on fire.
Label from microwave popcorn.  

The brown bag popcorn uses olive oil and doesn't have any added preservatives, and no artificial flavor or color.   It makes a perfect snack.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quick Inexpensive Fix For A Fitbit Clasp

Everywhere you look these days, you can see people with a Fitbit or something like it.  A Fitbit is a small activity tracking device that can keep track of the number of steps you take, the distance, calories burned, how many floors you climb and it can even track your sleep patterns.  The purpose of it is to make a person more aware of their activity or lack of.  It will show you how many times you were awake at night, but it doesn't tell you how to remedy that situation.  My husband and I received the Fitbit Force for Christmas in 2013.  The Force model has a watch and is worn on the wrist.

The Force had a recall because some people got a slight rash from it.  I was one of those people, but it wasn't bad enough to give it up.  We love it except for one thing.  The clasp is really hard to connect.  As a result it doesn't always get secured and can fall off easily.  I know a few people who have lost theirs.

The two little knobs have to fit in two slots.

There are many different styles of Fitbits.  Some of them clip on your clothing, some are carried in a pocket and some are worn like a watch. The company is constantly improving the product and adding more styles.  This Fitbit Force goes on the wrist like a watch, but to connect it the two knobs have to fit into the slots.  It is hard to do one handed so it has to be loose enough to place your finger between your skin and fitbit and pressing down with your thumb.  You have to firmly press it together.  If it doesn't pop in all the way, or you catch the edge of the band then the Fitbit may fall off.  To remedy this situation I bought a little silicone band called a Bitbelt.  It slides over the clasp so if it comes loose, the Bitbelt holds it on.  I bought two black ones plus they sent this purple one free.  I'm glad they did because the black one has worn out.

I spent $10 for three of these little tiny Bitbelts.   Rather than buy more, we came up with a better much less expensive solution.  We went to the hardware store and purchased two 3/4 inch rubber O rings.  The O ring cost less than $1.00.

The ring slides onto the Fitbit band and holds the clasp in place just as well as the Bitbelt.  When it wears out, just replace it with another O ring.  No more worries about losing the Fitbit. 

The only problem I have is getting the recommended 10,000 steps.  The Fitbit comes with a small device that fits in your computer USB port.  It records all the information collected on the Fitbit and transfers it to the Fitbit website.  Anytime you want to see your statistics, just sync it to the website.

Walgreens also has a program you can sign up for.  It allows Walgreens to record your activity and give points on their Rewards card for your activity.  I have $10 in credit just by walking.  If you are really competitive, you can get Fitbit friends similar to Facebook friends.  Every week you get to see how active your friends are and how many steps that had for the week.  I am always in last place, but that's ok.  It is motivation to be a little bit more active.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Busy Day Replenishing The Woodpile

Yesterday was Saturday April 18th, 2015.  It was so busy we forgot to send my brother in law birthday greetings.  The day before would have been my mom's 91st birthday, so I knew the next day was David's birthday.  We even talked about it.  Then I proceeded to forget until today.  I guess it's better late than never.  Happy Birthday David!

One of the reasons we were busy was that our son in laws' parents were coming over to help drag some trees up the hill from the marsh area.  In years past, we have had a few trees topple over in wind storms.  During our St. Patrick's Day dinner the guys talked about a way to bring the trees up before they rotted and were of no use.  Yesterday was the perfect day to do the job.  It was dry and the foliage hasn't completely sprouted.

They attached a chain to the back of our pickup truck.

Then they put the chain around the logs.

Slowly pulling the truck forward brought the tree up the hill.

Then it was just a matter of cutting it to size.

From this point it was a process of loading the chunks of wood onto the truck, taking them to our driveway, unloading them, splitting into pieces, loading them into the wheelbarrow and stacking on the woodpile.  It was a three Ibuprofen kind of day for both the guys.

Some of this wood was stacked earlier but the third section was yesterday.

After the smaller, lighter pieces were split and stacked, the larger, heavier sections had to be dealt with.  These needed to be split by hand into a manageable size.

While my husband was doing this he noticed some grubs in the rotted portion of the log.  I went out to look and laying in the decayed wood were these large white grubs.  If you are grossed out easily and squeamish, then stop reading this blog post right now.

Here you can see one of the grubs in the decayed wood.

I decided to collect them to feed to the birds.  I buy dried mealworms anyway and these could provide some very nice fresh protein.  As I went in to get a container, I noticed that several birds were digging around in that dirt so I knew they would enjoy them.  As my husband split the wood, I gathered the grubs in a plastic bag.

Before night fall I put one out near the bluebird house.  I wasn't able to watch but by dark the grub was gone.  I put out another this morning with the mealworms.  I saw the bluebird eying it up and pretty soon he grabbed it and flew off.

I will be saving the rest to feed one or two everyday.  They are so big, they are more than a meal for a bird.

My husband finished up the logs today.  He found more grubs and a round looking nut type item.  We looked carefully and saw something white inside.

We thought this shell was either a chrysalis or a nut.

It began moving so I took a little video of the process.  It was very interesting, at least to me.  I will have to research this a little more.  It appears to be the larvae stage of the May Beetle or June Bug. They can do extensive damage to the roots of plants and grass.  I won't feel bad about feeding them to the birds.