Monday, July 20, 2009

Wind Power...You Mean It Could Be Cheaper?

I just signed up for a program that will supply 500 kWh per month of wind power for our home. It feels GREAT to actually put my money where my mouth is when it comes to renewable energy!

I just discovered today (per a tip from a friend) that we're eligible to purchase the option of either 100% wind power, or purchase 100 kWh blocks of wind power per month. We used 1040 kWh in July 2009, thus we'll buy about 1/2 of that in wind power.

The catch - you have to stay with the program for at least a year. And it could cost a little more than what you are paying now (but not much). From our energy provider's site:

The cost of all the Windsource energy you purchase, whether you chose to purchase blocks or 100% Windsource, will be based on your actual metered electricity usage. For 2008, the average net Windsource charge was $0.70 per 100 kWh block. Based on this rate history, an average residential customer using 675 kWh per month and signing up for 100 percent Windsource should expect an average increase of less than $10 to their monthly bill.

Increase in my bill? Don't hang up yet! Here's an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune - Wind Power was CHEAPER in July of 2008. Headline: Xcel wind power proved to be a July bargain

Start up time is about 1 month. I'll report the results as they come in.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hair Donation Update

I'm still working on that hair donation from back in November 2008. When I went to get my ends trimmed the other day the stylist suggested I have about another 16 months to go. (Say WHAT?!)

I'm not so sure - I think it might be growing at a faster rate than her guestimate, but since I am so terrible at math and measurement, I'll just keep growing it and not bother doing the calculations. I'll cut it for donation when it's time.

Did you know that it takes 6 pony tail donations to make a wig? Here's a link to learn more about the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program if you're interested. And I'm not just talking to you ladies...guys - you can do it too!

It's kind of bizarre having hair this long. I'm pretty sure I haven't had hair this long since high school...ACK!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Veggie Challenge Summer '09: Weeks 3 & 4 & Grocery Budget

Here are the results from our veggie challenge these past two weeks:

I'm happy to report we have eaten almost all vegetables and not thrown anything away. That being said, I'd better check up on the kohlrabi, kale, and Swiss chard that are still in the fridge!

Week 3 included:

- Beets: actually, I had to throw this one away. I tried cooking in the microwave and burned it. My husband said several times that the kitchen smelled like a "smelly old sweat sock"....? I'm not sure who's sweat socks he's referring to. A beet farmer's, perhaps?

- Kohlrabi: Have you every had kohlrabi? I've seen it in the grocery store, but never bought it. I would liken it to spicy cabbage. I've been eating it raw, just chopping it up in a salad. That's why I like belonging to a CSA. I'm willing try practically any vegetable ESPECIALLY since I already paid for it.

- Sugar snap peas: kids liked them with coaxing

- Spring lettuces: So fresh & much better than store bought - I'm going to miss it when it's gone (*sniff*)

- Parsley and dill: I used some fresh, but it was wilting so I decided to dry the rest (hang upside down by a string until dry)

- Cucumbers, brocolli and strawberrries: everyone likes these


Week 4 included:

- Zucchini: sliced in a sandwich is good

- Potatoes: I don't normally like potatoes (wierd, I know) but farm fresh potatoes are so much better tasting.

- Cucumbers: A family favorite

- Swiss chard & kale: better hurry up and sautee

- Spring lettuce: *love*

- Basil: too much! I'll have to make pesto

- Brocolli: another family favorite

- Sugar snap peas: the kids were puzzled: "why are we having this AGAIN?"

Grocery budget update:

I originally thought we spend about $600/month on groceries for a family of 4. But in June, I discovered that we actually spent $774.22 on groceries alone.
Here's how June 2009 it broke down:
  • 11 grocery transactions (doesn't that sound like a lot? I was suprised.)
  • $315.68 at Super Target (we live really close to one)
  • $250.07 at our Co-op
  • $102.76 at a local grocery store
  • $42.72 for the organic vegetable CSA delivery
  • $36.78 at a bread outlet (I rediscovered these last month - I really need to start using my bread machine again)
  • $26.21 at the fancy expensive grocery store (I don't remember why we went there...)

How do I know all of this? We've been using mint.com to keep track of our electronic transactions. It's really helped us keep track of where the money's going.

Here's what I've learned so far:

  • We spend way more money on groceries than I thought
  • We run grocery errands more often than I thought
  • We spend more money on groceries at Super Target than I thought

It's good to have a baseline.

And the Winner Is...

...Khristin Sutton! Khristin, you've won the drawing for a pack of "Natural Value" Unbleached Natural Waxed Paper bags.

Khristin said:

The Sutton's decided earlier in the year to stop buying bottled water. We were up to two 24 packs everytime we went shopping. We bought ourselves several aluminum water bottles and try to use them whenever we can. We did have to buy bottled water for our big Fourth of July party (and a couple of times when we've been out unprepared) but we are doing what we can when we can.

Thanks everyone for commenting!

Monday, July 6, 2009

First Blogiversary! Let's Celebrate with a Prize Drawing!

It's Striving Green's first Blogiversary! I cannot believe I've actually stuck with something for 1 full year.

I started this blog waaayyy back on 07/03/08. Thanks so much for reading and going along for the ride! Here's a little recap of the blog's intent:

Welcome to "Striving Green", the blog that focuses on one family's attempt to become more environmentally friendly by the standbys - eating organically, keeping it local, reusing, reducing, and recycling. I call this blog "Striving Green", with an emphasis on the "striving". We're not perfect; we're learning as we go along...

Yes, we are definitely NOT perfect. Nobody knows that better than we do. But chronicling our mistakes as well as our successes hopefully keeps us honest and encourages us when we see how far we've come. Also, I love it when you leave comments letting us know how you do what you do. We always welcome much needed advice. So Thank You again!

Let's celebrate - how about a prize drawing to celebrate Striving Green's 1st Blogiversary? (And I'll celebrate the fact that I've followed through on something!)

If you win the prize drawing, I'll send you a pack of "Natural Value" Unbleached Natural Waxed Paper bags.
Just post a comment on this blog about 1 "green" goal you have for 2009 & tell us all how you're doing so far. Warts and all. It's OK. I understand.

I'll leave the drawing open through end of day Thursday 07/09/09. I'll use random.org to generate the number of the winner. I'll count the number of comments. If you're the 3rd commenter and the random.org number is 3, you win...I'm sure you get the idea! One entry per person (that sounds so official).

It's my first prize drawing. I'll try not to screw up.

Good Luck!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Garden updates

I've been very veggie-centric these past few posts. And today is no different -here's what's been happening in our garden lately.

I'll start with the good news:


- We had a nice raspberry harvest 2 days ago.
- We have little green tomatoes & the beginnings of cucumbers.
- The basil, parsley, & oregano are looking good.
- 3 out of 4 cauliflower look like they're doing well.





Here's the lesser good news:
- Sweet peas have been lost to weeds (my fault). Like I've said before, every year I learn something. I think I need to move them and buy a trellis instead of relying on the chain link fence.
- Bell peppers might be lost...they were from seedlings and didn't do so well.

I'll keep hoping & tending!