Monday, December 30, 2013

What It Means To Drive a Prius

Back in October, my family purchased a used Prius.  Why, you ask?  Because I knew I was taking a job as a consultant and could possibly be sent all over the metro area to various clients.  I love our Jeep, but we needed something with better mileage.  So we traded in the minivan, kept the Jeep for its off-roading capabilities, and bought the Prius. 

Our first tank garnered 45 miles to the gallon!  We cut the crap!

So for us, purchasing this car was more of a budgetary and economic move.  Sure, we’re saving gas and sort of helping the planet, but really, unless EVERYONE drove a hybrid or electric car, our worldwide dependence on fossil fuels really isn’t going away any time soon.  That’s just the way the powers that be want it, too, but that’s fodder for another post. 

In any case, we’re doing our part, and driving the Prius sort of offsets the carbon footprint of our Jeep.  Hahaha! All should be right with the world, yes? 

Well, sort of.

We got a lot of teasing from our friends and family.  They’re like us.  They like American-made, powerful, go-anywhere-in-the-snow kind of vehicles.  While they understand the reasons we bought the Prius and actually applaud us, they affectionately call our car The Granolamobile.  So that brings me to what it means to drive a Prius: a general misconception that most people who drive Priuses are hippies .  I even had a friend tell me that very thing recently (in a cajoling, joking sort of way).  I don't mind this kind of joking and teasing.  It's among friends and family, and that's cool in my book.  

I see a lot of Prius-bashing on Facebook, too.  This is usually (but not always) perpetrated by people with staunch conservative views, and while I share many of those conservative views, I’d wager that many of these people have never set foot inside a Prius, let alone DRIVE one.  These naysayers stereotype anyone driving a Prius.  They call Prius drivers hippy leftists, libtards, idiots, granola munchers, pro-gun control freaks, and the list goes on and on.  I detest name-calling, BTW.  It's inexcusable on both sides of the fence.  What most people don't realize is that my Prius is a pretty peppy little car.  I can shoot off the line faster than in my Jeep, believe it or not, and I have no problem keeping up with traffic... or passing it, if the need arises.  I'm not drag racing or anything, but my little car holds its own in day-to-day traffic.  

All of this trash-talking while not driving is NOTHING, however, compared to the attitudes I’ve encountered while DRIVING.  People really have a problem with a Prius doing 80mph on the interstate.  I'm not kidding.  It's like some frontal assault to the egos of drivers everywhere if a Prius shows some gumption.  I get on the interstate/freeway/whatever, get up to the speed of traffic, and set cruise control.  I’m not going slower or faster than everyone else, but I am driving a PRIUS.  So that means someone somewhere can’t  bear the thought of being passed by my car.  They give me dirty looks.  They sometimes honk.  They sometimes share choice expletives (I’m actually getting really good at reading lips).  And invariably they stomp on the gas to pass me.  All that honking, cussing, dirty-look-giving happens again when they whip around me at break-neck speeds.

I don’t care.  I’m laughing all the way to the bank. 

I guess this judging-a-person-by-the-car-he/she-drives dates back to the beginning of history when “status” was determined by your mode of transportation.  We still do it.  If you drive a Ferrari, then you must have more money than God.  If you ride a rice rocket, then you must have more balls than brains.  The list goes on and on, and I’m guilty of playing into it just as much as you are, Dear Reader.  But after driving the Prius and getting teased a lot, I’ve learned my lesson;  I hereby cease and desist all playing of the stereotype game.

But just to rub it in, I got 54mpg on my last tank.  I've also never paid more than $30 to fill up.  Just sayin'.  And I still have my 16mpg Jeep that I love to death.  So THERE.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Back In The Saddle

I apologize for the two-month delay in writing a post.  I was going gang busters until AdSense rejected my application so I sort of lost steam.  I think I’m going to reapply, though, and see how that goes. 

In the meantime, I found a new job.  Yes, I had only been at my last job for a short while (9 months to be exact).  I won’t go into the details of that, since they are pretty nasty.  Suffice it to say I got out of there just in time.   So today I’m going to talk about cutting the crap and not feeling bad about it.

That’s right.  I walked away from what I thought was as close to perfect as I could get in a job.  You know why I walked?  Because I wanted to leave on my own terms.  I don’t feel bad about that.  At all.  I did at first, but I got over it.  When you hit one of those roadblocks  - you know the kind I mean – that make you stop and wonder what the heck you did wrong, then it’s time to stop and evaluate what you want.  Don’t feel bad about that.  Just evaluate.  Decide what you want.  Don’t feel bad about saying to yourself that you deserve to be treated better.  Don’t feel bad about looking for something else.  Cut that crap out.  Do what is best for you and your family and move on. 

You know what else you shouldn’t do?  Don’t feel like you wasted your time at that particular job (or whatever it may be).  You know why?  Because that time wasn't wasted.   It never is.  You always learn something from each experience, no matter how horrible it that experience may have been.   

So that’s it for today’s post.  I had to get back in the blog saddle.  I think I’ll write more later about the job hunting process and how to cut the crap out of that.  Boy, did I learn a lot this time around…

Monday, August 12, 2013

Maybe THIS is how we drastically cut dependence on fossil fuels?

Is Solar Suburbia the Way to Power Modern Cities?

I saw this article on Scientific American's website and found it most interesting.  The author cites a few studies that say putting solar panels on suburban houses and installing charging stations for electric cars would create enough energy to not only power said houses but charge their electric vehicles.  WITH SURPLUS to put back into the grid. The point of the article is that if we support urban sprawl rather than curb it (by designing tighter city centers to cut down on fossil fuel consumption) then we can power metropolitan centers with energy from suburban neighborhoods.  Read it for yourself, and make sure you take a look at the comments as well. 

This isn't the first time I've heard this notion.  I read somewhere that if we put a solar panel on every roof in America, then our energy problems would be over.  (I wish I could find that article again, but I can't. I want to say Robert Redford said it some years ago. Sorry.)  I think this idea warrants some consideration.  If we can then have plug-in stations in every parking spot/garage, then we've effectively eliminated the vast majority of dependence on fossil fuels.  

We could also get rid of our electric bills.  Wouldn't that be nice? I understand that we'd still need someone to facilitate the grid, but that grid would depend on property owners.  It wouldn't be the other way around.

I know this is pie-in-the-sky kind of thinking.  Money makes the world go 'round... not common sense.  The wealthiest people in the world have vested interests in oil and energy.  I bet they are actively working to keep ideas like this squashed.  

Getting rid of dependence on fossil fuels... now THAT'S cutting the crap.      

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Agave Nectar: It’s sweeter than you think! (and not in a good way!)

I read this article earlier today, and it got my wheels turning.  As parents, my husband and I are constantly looking for ways to cut sugar and CRAP out of our family’s diet.  I was actually thinking that agave nectar might be a better alternative to sugar.  Now I’m convinced it’s just more hype.  WebMD has a similar article here, and Jonny Bowden doesn't buy into the hype, either (I noticed some info from his article cut and pasted into the first article I cited.).   

Turns out, agave nectar is just like high fructose corn syrup, and in some cases it can even be worse.  The article I cited above (while a bit disorganized) offered quite a bit of explanation around sucrose, fructose, and glucose.  Sucrose is more of the natural state of sugar… pure cane sugar, if you will, and it’s better for you than fructose.  Fructose occurs naturally in fruit and is fine in moderation (about 25 grams a day), but in higher amounts, it is processed through the liver and whatever isn't absorbed (which is most of it), is turned into fat.  Glucose is good.  Our body uses it for everything.  I found these little tidbits of information to be quite enlightening.  It also reconfirmed some points I made in another blog post citing blood vessel inflammation as the leading cause of heart disease (not cholesterol).  I love it when I can connect the dots.
Let me be clear.  Agave itself is not the problem.  It’s how it’s processed. 

ANYTHING processed needs to be axed from our diet.  I've known this for a long time, and while we've done a lot to get most of the processed foods out of our cupboards and our fridge, we still have a long way to go.  I think an overhaul is in order, and I need to take that overhaul with me everywhere I go. 

At work, I try to use raw sugar in my tea every morning, and I have an occasional Coke.  I succumb to sugary treats at work far more often than I’d like to admit.  However, it is obvious now that my love of sugar has translated into that flat tire that encircles my waist. 

I need to cut the crap and just live with it.  This needs to be done for me… and for my family.    

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Put the Sponge in the Dishwasher? REALLY?

Yes!  You can put sponges in the dishwasher!  Thanks, Frugal Girls, for this awesome tip!  This cuts the crap out of germs in kitchen sponges!

According to WebMD, the kitchen is the germiest room in the house.  An article in The Daily Mail declared, "The kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat - and could even lead to PARALYSIS"... so YES.  We should either toss those germ factories into the trash or clean them somehow.  In the past, I simply sprayed them with a bleach solution, but that tended to break down the sponge pretty quickly.  Recently, I resorted to spraying my kitchen sponges with Sol-u-mel from Melaleuca.  It's organic and is proven to kill even e coli.  

I have to say, I really like the idea of just tossing sponges in the dishwasher, though.  The combination of heat and cleaner should be GREAT to get rid of the nastiness!  I'm going to try this!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Father's Day Gift! I cut the crap!

I know it’s a little late for a post about Father’s Day, but since I made my husband's gift THE DAY BEFORE Father’s Day, it’s not like I had time to post about it ahead of time.  But in any case, I cut the crap by re-purposing an old t-shirt into something new and useful – even if it’s only useful in a decorative sort of way. 

Rob really loved this t-shirt.  At some point, he splattered battery acid on it and created multiple tiny holes.  After wearing and washing several times, these holes got bigger.  SOOO…  The t-shirt went to the back of the closet and was forgotten until recently.  He cleaned out things and put this t-shirt in the rag pile.  I know he was a bit sad about this, so my brain immediately started to run through ways I could save that shirt.  What did I come up with, you ask?  A pillow.  It can sit on our bed and remind him that our kids think he’s the Dad of Dads.  J

How did I do this?  I cut out as much of the decal and the surrounding non-damaged t-shirt as possible.  Front and back.  Then I sewed it, stuffed it, and closed it up.  This isn’t a sewing blog, so I’m not going to give you step-by-step instructions.  There are plenty of tutorials out there; just google it.  In fact, here’s one.

You can do this with any old t-shirt, really.  In fact, I have a few concert t-shirts that are pretty much worn out.  I think I’m going to give them a second chance by turning them into pillows.  Why not?  You can always cut them into rags, because let’s face it: t-shirts are nice and soft and work great to wipe down a window or counter.  Whatever you do, think twice before throwing them in the trash, though.  I’m sure that eventually they’ll wear out.  No matter what.  But make sure you’ve gotten all your use out of them before tossing them away.     Here are some additional ideas. Just google "tshirt pillow" to get how-to instructions and pictures! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cut The Crap! Shop at Thrift Stores!

So, in my quest to cut the crap, I’m not sure I’m actually cutting the crap in my house.  I did do something cool recently, though, to keep crap out of the landfill.  I propagated some plants and re-potted them in pots I bought from thrift store.  I also bought some used children’s books and a few home décor items… all from the thrift store.  Not only did I get some great items for a fraction of the cost, but these items are getting a second (or maybe third?) life at my house.  It’s a win win. 

Let me start with my plants.  I have a huge spider plant that I affectionately call Big Mama.  This plant has survived several “murder” attempts, and we’ve given countless of her “babies” to friends and family.  She continues to make babies, though, and I have to do SOMETHING with them. 

I went to Walmart to look at cheap pots.  All of the “cheap” pots  were just that.  Cheap.  The inexpensive ones were plastic or terrible plaster things.  The nicer pots were obviously more pricey.  This was the case everywhere I went: Home Depot, Lowes, Target, etc.  I found a few cute pots, but really didn’t want to spend a lot since I had about 10 (you read that right. 10.) baby plants to transplant.  So I went to my favorite thrift store and found these. 

I repotted them this weekend and so far everything is looking great!  I’ll post more pictures of the happy little plants soon… and THEN I’ll have to go buy some additional pots because Big Mama has even MORE babies coming!  Does anyone want a plant?  Hahaha!

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know I love books.  My entire family loves books.  So when I saw these, I jumped at the chance to buy them.  Who can resist when they are less than $2?  My daughter had so much fun picking books that from now on I’m going to bring her with me to the thrift store.  She can pick up as many books as $10 will buy!  Why not?  We should always encourage reading!  AND when we’re done with these gently used books, they’ll go right back to the thrift store so another child can enjoy them. 

That brings me to the home décor… I bought a tray and a jewelry box.  I thought the tray would be perfect for Christmas cookies during holiday get-togethers, AND it only cost $4!  Can’t beat that!  It’s in perfect condition, too. 

Here’s the jewelry box.  It’s beaded and has a small mirror and tray inside.  This, too, was only $4!  It looks great with the colors in my bedroom, and I needed an extra place to stash my growing jewelry collection.  LOVE IT.

I’m sold on the merits of thrift-store shopping.  J  You can find unique items at low prices and keep said items out of the trash heap.  Why buy everything new when you don’t have to?