Heard It From a Pro tip #5: A/C Filters

You’re going to be so surprised and delighted by this tip:

Replace your A/C home filter with the cheapest $1.25-$2.00 filter you can find monthly. If your unit requires a 1″ thick filter, the best thing you can do for your unit (believe it) is to replace it more often with a basic filter sold in packet of 1,3,12 or 24.

I’m going too far! That’s too cheap, your thinking. The last AC repair guy came by two years ago and provided us with a wonderful secret and we haven’t seen him since. Before the secret, we had repair work every late Fall and Spring after we clicked on the A/C.

This is what he told us. Your unit works less if doesn’t have to suck the air through thick sheets of the ultimate filters you find at the store. (They sell for between $12 and $100, to be replaced every 3 months) They’re so thick that it’s like sucking a stiff milkshake through a coffee straw. Ideally you want your unit to feel like it’s sucking lemonade through a regular straw. BUT, you need to replace them monthly, rather than every three months. We replace them when our mortgage it due. Since making this change, I’ve noticed other positive effects, besides the convenience and savings:

  • The vents don’t collect dust
  • our ceiling fans don’t need to be cleaned as often
  • our A/C unit seems to cool and heat more quickly and effectively

There are washable filters….I don’t know about the comparison with regard to them, they may also be effective and more sustainable. And for those who use special filters to control serious allergies, this may not be the best route. But with our own round of seasonal allergies, we haven’t noticed any difference.

I heart My Cleaner

Today I found the most wonderful recipe for a houheart_311449sehold cleaner: better than your best Myer’s, Dr. Bronners, Mean Green, Mr. Clean  or anything by Clorox. Short story, I’m preparing my home to rent. Time to clean the windows (uhg!), the doors and baseboards (really!?), and even under the fridge and stove (Pooey!). What will cut thro
ugh the mineralized windows, the gravy under the stove, the stickers, finger prints, unreasonable dark smudges on the garage door?  Well, I found it. I feel like your best friend. Isn’t this fun?

This is it:

  1. 10oz (1 1/8th cup) ammonia (yes that smelly gaseous cheap cleaner at every store), mixed with
  2. 16 oz (2 cups) H2O topped off with
  3. A little dab of Dawn (it’s blue) dish soap.

In a sturdy, clean spray bottle combine ammonia first, then water and top with Dawn, swish with nozzle straw. Voila, perfect cleaner for every surface (except inside your oven).

Smelly, so what! It will leave your space smelling clean and glistening.

Want more information like this, CLICK here!     The only 5 cleaning supplies you need…

I was looking for a solid cleaner and found a lot of good advice on this website (by the way this is NOT an advertisement, in fact this site also gets thumbs up because they didn’t bombard me with advertisements.)

Blank White Paper

(Warning: I just woke up and and reread this posting and it actually may really act like a self indulgent journal entry)

Yesterday I listened to a thief open the heavy squeaky wooden parents drawer of the family desk, removed what sounded like many sheets of

IMG_7258

artist: Jeff B. Davis

copy paper, and return to her bedroom, locking the door behind her. Shortly thereafter I heard the crunch of the stapler. She’d returned to get it too. Then with a few quick bouncy steps I heard a leap land and a slam of the door, too loud for such a sneaky thief. Clearing my throat I went to retrieve the last of the copy paper, it’s tax time in our house.

“You cannot take the last of the paper”…I began. “No. No! No!!” She said scowling at me while stuffing the papers into her rumpled bed. The stapler was trapped out of sight. “Give me those papers NOW please.” This continued until I agreed to let her have five sheets, because she’s five years old I reasoned to her. She agreed to return the last of the crumpled paper and the stapler even though she was certain five sheets was not enough for the book she was making, but it will have to do today. Geez lousie…

Call me a scrimper, but she does have her own wealth of property. Her alotted desk drawer is  deeper than mine and heavy with enticing colorful treasures: fairy princess coloring books, origami paper, construction paper, paper dolls, sticker pads, the pretty stationary she’d received from her aunt. I know this because she and I cleaned it out last month and she hugged every wonderful thing in her drawer. We cleaned and stacked  all the coloring books from largest to smallest, high-fived, shut the drawer, and she never opened it again because, I suppose, it doesn’t have any blank white paper.

We people, who have children we love, try to provide everything we can to help them grow healthy, happy, and to discover their potential.  So after this scenario I had to ask myself, am I distracting my child’s self motivation with my own collection of paper doll experiences, princess advertisements and cultural messages? My daughter prefers to draw her own lines and make up her own story lines rather than color inside someone else’s.  It’s just her way. I love this about her, though wonder why I keep adding items to a drawer that remains closed. What IS my motivation?  But really, what child would prefer a ream of copy paper for their birthday instead of one of those stunning coloring books and special painting markers?

On the other side of this thought is knowing that children must learn to color within the lines. It’s an important acknowledgement that we have to defer to our teachers (all types of them) and set aside our own own ideas in order to learn, grow, and (yes, let’s admit it) fit in. And the counter balance to that is providing them with a time to be open. So recently, I’ve agreed that when my children return home, there will be a time and space where they can go their own way. In our home I’ve found that this occurs best when the screens are turned off followed by a brief episode of wining and admitting “I’m bored…”. I give it 10 minutes, and the ideas sprout and grow rapidly. For my son and his three buddies, the backyard becomes a space battleship developed from sticks and a few foam noodles.

Children don’t need much to be happy. I know you’ve heard that so many times before. It’s plastered everywhere. But do we give too much to the point that it’s wasteful and distracting? Are we…am I, nurturing a need for immediate gratification when I pile the drawers with coloring books and markers and crayons of every color?

A child has shown me again that less is more, and that kids are often capable of greater things than we ourselves can imagine. So, this birthday:

  1. Ream of blank white paper
  2. Flintline stapler.
  3. Markers (maybe the glittery kind…maybe not)

Done. She’ll love it.

11 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

11 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

All we need is another self-help list, right? Well I know you, sons and daughters of self-helpers deplore these types of things, lists and self help and all that. By God were doing the best we can. Do we really need one more finger wagging over our heads!

Fortunately, I was not born to self helpers. As long as you had a fresh breath, brushed hair, and a relentless motivation to do, do, do, everything would work out in the end. So that’s why I was surprised to find this list on my fathers Facebook page. Of course my curiosity got the best of me, that and the fact that I happen to love lists. So I read it and thought I’d pass it on to anyone out there not raised by self helpers, who still find parts of themselves to help.

Please click on the underlined link below to be redirected.

Pretend Poverty

There’s a lot of talk these days about the increasing gap in the “top 1%” and those in poverty. And while I can’t stand it when someone’s trying to teach me about something I already know, I did begin to feel rather than know what this gap means through an experiment my husband and I tried with our family of four. Two little ones included. We increased our biweekly contribution to our investments and decided to live beneath our means. We now, are poor, sort of.  Some would balk at my saying that because we have two cars, a house, clean clothing and a dog and a cat, luxuries. Me for instance, I balk at myself. I’ve seen third world poverty. I’ve smelled it. But always from behind a veil.

Poverty expert Dr. Donna Beegle gave the second keynote address at the 2012 Oregon NAME (National Association for Multicultural Education) Conference

Poverty expert Dr. Donna Beegle gave the second keynote address at the 2012 Oregon NAME (National Association for Multicultural Education) Conference

Most outwardly recognizable, I’ve gained 5 pounds since the experiment began January 1st, a month ago. But how could that be when our daily grocery budget went from $6 per person, per day, to $4? That’s a 40% decrease in food! That fabulous 40 allowed us to supplement our groceries with local produce,  2 gallons of BGH & antibiotic free milk, 18 eggs from my neighbor and local meats. We enjoyed healthy fresh nutrient rich food. A gift to ourselves and our kids. Today though, we’re stocked with Ramen, pasta, cereal and recipes which are low in cost and higher in fat and carbs.  I clipped coupons the way my mom did at the breakfast table every Sunday. But even coupons are mostly pantry stock, rather than fresh foods. I see this and am trying to remain mindful. So I buy more frozen veggies. My children prefer crunchy colorful vegetables, so they’re eating less fresh. Bags of apples and oranges disappear in two days from our pale galley, leaving us feeling anemic and thirsty for orange juice.  I can see how, when flavorful food is scarce at home the $1 fast food menus are so enticing.  We’ve quite buying juice for the kids. Too much sugar. Too pricey. But they have soda sometimes. Guilt treats. We give ourselves guilt treats too. I heard once the best investment you can make during an economic Depression is in candy bars because it’s the one thing everybody can afford.

But, even free things began to disappear in our home. We lost a book from the library. My daughter left it under the deck and the rain took it. Thus the library suspended our card until we could pay $30.  A wonderful resource now inaccessible. And do we really want to take the kids to the free festivals, if they can’t ride the rides?  Other things are sacrificed too. For you, it could be limiting your subway pass. We’ve limited our gas to half a tank a week per car.  That’s enough to and from work but not enough to and from the park. Not enough to visit grandma who lives in a nearby town or to attend the birthday party 20 minutes away. Besides, birthday parties require a gift… a day of food or a birthday gift? That’s a simple choice.

Underprivileged people may have a hard time getting to and from work or school or to visit family or to afford a phone call. American’s live in expansive large communities which consume a lot of energy to cross. People without money may seem to neglect friends and family, when really they simply can’t afford to maintain them. Hence, they become isolated. And isolation is a perfect container for abuse as well.

When people are no longer capable of providing for their family in a healthy way, and are no longer able to pay their bills on time, their self-respect goes away with those things. This morning my husband and I drank our last cups of coffee for a week. We’re not big coffee drinkers really, but it’s an enjoyable daily habit. And after we finished and began our day there was a cool irritation that consumed us. We’re at home. It’s cold and rainy. We usually love the rain, but we have no more coffee. We have no gas. Our children are laying on the couch in front of the TV whining to go somewhere. We’re whining too, and we’re feeling the sense of despair that comes when you have too little.

While the children take their restless afternoon naps, I’ll go out to the car and turn the key and nothing will happen. No engine will turn, no flicker of dashboard lights, not even the ding ding dinging of an ajar door will ring. The damn car is dead.  And the mild cold I have will become full of choking coughs. And that will be that. Experiment over.

Even if it weren’t over, we’d still have health insurance, a large back yard, a safe town full of trails to hike and bike, fresh air and good schools. We’d also have a future before us, a way out, and our healthy, educated, middle class upbringing full of roots and wings.

And although we feel the ache of having too little, it remains, that we still have enough.

If you haven’t taken enough of  beating, here’s Paul Piff’s Ted Talk,” Does money make you mean?”  I just listened to it last week while I made a box of macaroni and cheese and thought it was appropriate to the article.

Paul Piff: Does Money make you mean?

UPDATE: The day after writing this, I found this woman’s story on Huffington Post, Linda Tirado, This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense. Check it out! Click on the ling below:

This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

Hey I just started a new blog of family essays.

Yeah, gets hectic around here sometimes and while yoga and meditation just left me feeling like I wanted to meditate my way into the a warm bath with a cold glass of Pinot Gris every couple of hours, I did find that writing down some of our stories could be a more productive way to relieve the pressure. And some day me and the kids will get to look back on these stories and have a good old fashioned laugh about them.Image

check it out at: http://vanessajackydavis.wordpress.com/