I'm not gargling. I'm drinking.

You know what irritates me? I try to be health-concious. I try to save money where possible. And what does that get me? A 4-inch tall cup and about a dozen trips to the soda fountain.

This picture was taken at a little non-chain place in Murfreesboro. The food was excellent. But I ordered water instead of soda or tea, and what happens?

"Oh, no. Not again," I think as the cashier pulls out the equivalent of a Dixie cup from behind the register. Is that a smirk she's hiding? On one occasion, I've actually asked a guy, "...Seriously?"

So, as you can see, Alex has a big nice (even reusable --props!) cup, whereas I have a much smaller excuse for a drink holder.

I'm making a change. No, I'm not settling for diet soda. Rather, I've decided to carry a reusable cup or mug into quick food resaurants like this one too. I already carry them everywhere else. Then, when the smirking cashier pulls out a pint-size version, I'll smile and sweetly say, "No thanks. I brought my own."


Time's running out for fall planting

Fall is the best time to plant many trees, especially shade trees, and shrubs. All their energy will go into the root formation that will help them thrive for years to come, rather than into making new leaves.

In the fall, many trees enter a phase called dormancy. During dormancy, no growth occurs in the upper branches and attention is given to growing a stronger root system. This stronger root system will better support foliage growth in the spring.

During the period from mid-August to mid-October, moderate and relatively stable air temperatures prevail, and soil temperatures and moisture levels are usually in a range that promote rapid root development. Watering new trees properly in the fall is just as important as any season—new trees need to get enough water before the ground freezes.

Notable tree species that can be successfully planted in the fall include:
  • maple
  • buckeye or horsechestnut
  • catalpa
  • hackberry
  • hawthorn
  • ash
  • honeylocust
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • crabapple
  • Amur corktree
  • spruce
  • pine
  • sycamore
  • linden
Most deciduous shrubs are also easily planted in fall.

Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. If healthy, vigorous plants are chosen, proper post-planting care is given and slow-to-establish species are avoided, fall planting of trees and shrubs can be as successful as spring planting.

Plant away, friends!

photo by friggy_30 flickr creative commons


Chill out ... Fall is here

As the weather is getting cooler, I wanted to share some of the tips I've learned about saving energy during the colder months.
  1. Moving your thermostat down 2 degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer saves 2,000 pounds of CO2, not to mention money on your heating and air conditioning bill. A good rule of thumb: set your thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.

  2. Also, you can manually turn down your thermostat even farther in the winter when you leave the house for work, and turn it back up when you get home. A programmable thermostat might be a good investment if you think you'll forget each day.

  3. Evaluate how tightly your windows and doors shut, and use weatherstripping in your home to seal air leaks. Here is a video to help you do it yourself. Caulking and weatherstripping any gaps will pay for itself within one year in energy savings.

  4. Wait on hot water. When you turn on the hot water to wash your hands, do you ever finish before the water even gets hot? Your hot water heater is using energy to heat the water, but then it just sits in the pipes and gets cold again. If you're not going to wait, just turn on the cold.
Hope some of these tips help. Alex and I turn the heat way down in the winter and pile on the blankets! Just another reason to snuggle!

picture by Est Bleu2007 on Flikr Creative Commons