Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quick Update for May

May has been a crazy month in our house which is why I haven't posted much.  New job, birthdays, anniversary and a death in the family.

Unfortunately we weren't able to get much done but we did take some important steps:

1) Cleaned Out and Decluttered Basement

After attempting to clean our basement I accepted reality; we rented a huge garbage bin and "cleaned house".
A lot of that stuff I hadn't touched in years and some of it had become so dusty that it wasn't worth it to clean it just so it could go back on a shelf.

We wound up bringing about 4 boxes of stuff to the local church second hand store however the rest went to the dumpster.  We actually wound up filling it twice!

It felt like a weight was taken off my chest and now when I go in our basement I'm amazed by how much room we have.

If you've got too much stuff and feel overwhelmed like I did I really recommend getting a dumpster and just getting rid of it all (the bin only cost $40 for the week).

2) Expanded Garden

Making the most of our limited space we installed more planters, this time on our front porch.  Since these are more visible to neighbours I planted a mix of veggies and flowers.  With the hot and humid weather we've been having they started sprouting a week later.

The ones we used are similar to those on the left, but we got them at Canadian Tire for only $5 each.

3) Joined Peaksaver Program

I had heard of the Peaksaver program before but I wasn't comfortable with the idea of the government controlling my thermostat.  Basically how it works is that they install a new programable thermostat which they are able to use to temporarily shut off your air conditioner during peak times in the summer to avoid black-outs.

I've since learned more about how it works and decided to sign up.  What made me reconsider is that these thermostats now allow you to adjust your setting over the internet.  This means that I can turn on my AC from work so the house will be cool by the time I get home.

I'll write more on this when they install the thermostat next month.

4) Looking into Buying Land

Last week we went to the bank to get approval to buy 4 acres of vacant land to build our next home in 5 years.

We're crossing our fingers to that everything goes through. If it does I'd like to plant an orchard and set up some permaculture systems this year so they'll be ready by the time we move in.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do It Yourself Home Improvement: Book Review

I love the books done by DK publishers; their books are always very informative and very visual with nice photos to help explain the topic.

This is why when I was at Costco the other week I had to pick up the book, "Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement: A Step-By-Step Guide".

My wife asked me why I needed another home improvement book but this one was different.

I've read other books in the past but often the authors assume that you have a basic knowledge or tools an terminology.  The DK book explains even the VERY basic; it even shows you how to use a screwdriver, ladder and saw!  Believe it or not a lot of people don't know the proper technique to use these basic tools which includes me!

The pictures are very helpful and explain things step by step.  I wish I had this book years ago; it could have saved me from making a lot of mistakes.

Unlike other books it also was a true Canadian version, instead of an American book with a 2 page addition for Canadians tacked on.

Another great thing is that the book includes many green and energy efficient topics for the home along with excellent photos.  I learned a lot from this book on things like rain catchment and grey water systems which until now I wasn't able to discover much about other than that they existed and were available.

I really recommend this book. It's great for not only the beginner who wants to do a few simple things around the home but also for those doing major renovations or building.
                                                                                                                (Canadian version above with Link)