I’m Kimbesa

Kimbesa
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Earth Day, Community Composting, and Memories

CompostReadyGrassClippings

Thursday, Earth Day, was a gorgeous spring day, so I spent part of it outdoors doing some yard work. In the front, a bush died over the winter, and needed to be removed. I started with hand pruners, but quickly realized I needed something with more bite.

Loppers made short work of it, and it wasn’t long before the bush was bagged ready for the city pick-up. My axe will come out later, to grub out the stump.

Lawn work can have a certain meditative quality about it, so I don’t mind doing it. Since it happened to be Earth Day, it got me remembering.

In 1970, I was in school and our National Honor Society chapter did a “teach-in” where we did presentations for younger students. Mine was on water quality and waste water processing. Tertiary septic systems. Now that was a hot topic!

Remember going to the library and using the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature for your research 40 years ago? A long row of books, library bound in green, where you would record the information and ask for the magazine to be pulled from the stacks in back. Or perhaps view it on microfilm.

Some people in the country made compost. We used to burn our leaves on the edge of the street. Cans, bottles, paper, all that went into the regular trash. In my area, we recycle those things, and many more items.

Grass clippings and leaves go to community composting. If you want the results, there are designated places where the finished product is offered for free – first come, first served – to people improving their soil or working on their landscaping.

Perhaps in the future, someone will benefit from mining those old landfills. Meanwhile, 40 years after the first Earth Day, it seems perfectly natural to recycle the grass clippings, leaves and the dead bush, just like in nature.

Practical Slow Cookers: Make Dinner While You Work

slow cooker casserole

Slow cookers are just as popular today as ever.  Everything from a hot breakfast to a hot toddy can be made in a slow cooker. You can almost set it and forget it, as that wonderful aroma of home cooking drifts through your house. Then get the bowls ready to serve.

Use the latest slow cooker models to make savory stews, soups and casseroles. Chili, baked beans and cabbage rolls. These are the foods that make Crock Pots and other slow cookers perennially popular. Many classic comfort foods are also slow cooker classics, easy to make and easy to serve.

Continue reading Practical Slow Cookers: Make Dinner While You Work

Crocs Shoes – Wear With Socks for Foot Comfort

wear socks with Crocs

Having trouble keeping your feet warm, but just cannot give up your favorite Crocs in the winter? Never fear, most Crocs are roomy enough to allow for your foot and a pair of warm socks.

I live in my Crocs all year round. They are easy to slip on and off, and have plenty of holes to help my feet breathe. And I like to be comfortable whether I’m working around the house, out shopping or running errands.

Choosing the right combination of Crocs and socks helps keep my feet happy through any or all of these tasks!

The first winter I had my Crocs Caymans, I discovered socks with Crocs. Wearing socks with crocks works for me in all but the wettest, coldest weather, even in Michigan.

I like socks that are either made of wool or a wool blend, because they will keep your feet warm even if the socks get damp. Wool is wears well and many of the modern blends can go in the washing machine.

When I’m choosing socks to wear with my Caymans:

  • I look for something on the thin side, so I still have lots of room inside the shoes
  • And I like some color that will look good with my navy Caymans
  • I also like wool or a wool blend for winter or summer

Like lots of busy people, my feet can take a beating. My Crocs shoes help them keep up with the work and stay comfy, warm, and mostly dry. Check out my socks and Crocs product gallery here.

Crocs paired with the right pair of socks, can give you lots of practical comfort and style choices.

Hot Air Popcorn – A Super Snack

hot air popcorn popper

In college in the 1970s I had a popcorn popper very similar to this Presto PopLite. IMO, hot air popcorn is better than other types because it is fluffier, has no extra oil and because I control the flavorings if any.

It did not take me long to get used to plain hot air popcorn. Get a good brand of popcorn that’s fresh (buy it in a store where there is product turnover, or online). The oil within the popcorn kernels can go rancid. For this reason, I also keep my popcorn in the refrigerator.

Of course, from time to time, it’s fun to make caramel corn or experiment with flavorings. One step up from plain is popcorn salt. It’s more finely ground than ordinary table salt. This comes in plain and butter flavors, too. But the easiest hot snack is a big bowl of hot air popped popcorn.

The biggest hazard is the resulting need for dental floss, but the snack is so worth it.

Tupperware works great to store any leftover popped popcorn, and you can keep nibbling on a single batch of popcorn for a day or so, until it’s gone. It’s also easy to put into bags for packed lunches or snacks for travel.

No matter how you eat your popcorn, here are some more tips to popping success:

  • Be sure to have an extra large serving bowl ready to catch the popcorn
  • Preheat the popper for a few minutes to help popcorn pop more completely
  • Watch out for the hood and cup after use, because they will get hot
  • Empty out any kernels that remain in the bottom, so your popper will be ready to use the next time (or maybe in the next 5 minutes for another batch!)

If I want butter, I melt it separately from the little cup that’s provided for this purpose and for measuring the popcorn. It’s part of the hood. Or use one of those olive oil sprayers to make the salt stick better. Just another bit of versatility. Must be why these machines are still popular after about 40 years in the marketplace.

And…the smell of popcorn popping. Always a crowd pleaser!

Check out the Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper, a bestseller on Amazon.

Feel Happier with SAD Lamps

Sunlight and SAD Lights daylight lighting

Scientists have been looking into SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, for more than 20 years. One of the treatments is to use lighting that produces a spectrum of wave lengths, similar to what the sun produces naturally. These lights are also called light therapy lights.

Sunlight therapy lamps to alleviate SAD have their fans among people who have felt depressed, moody or listless in the winter months, sometimes for years. Special lights like the NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Therapy Lamp are among the products developed to give people a convenient source of simulated sunlight at home.

Many people report that their mood improves, and their cravings for high-carbohydrate foods dissipate, by using these lights for about 30 minutes a day during the season when they would otherwise get limited exposure to natural sunlight

Natural spectrum lights simulate daylight. Strong lights at 10,000 lux create brilliant lighting.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a mood condition that is related to shorter days and less sunlight that we get in winter. Suffers report lethargy, insomnia, depression and other mood changes.

SAD is related to the hormone melatonin, which helps the body regulate sleep and moods. It is produced during dark hours, so the body makes more of it when we get less sunlight. December, January and February are the months when SAD is most prevalent. Women are four times more likely to feel this condition.

My friends and relatives in the UK really feel it. While Michigan is at 41 to 48 degrees north latitude, Britain is at 51 degrees and higher, comparable to Newfoundland in Canada. The sun goes down around 4 pm in the afternoon near the winter solstice and in London they get less than 8 hours of daylight on Dec. 21.

daylight replacement light bulbsWe get lots of clouds around the Great Lakes, so gloomy winter weather is nothing new. But these much shorter days and longer nights are far more pronounced.

Some people are using the natural light from these SAD lights help get their biorhythms back into balance, to help relieve insomnia, fatigue, loss of energy and carb cravings.

These lamps come in many variations. I have extra lights in my office, and they help me work more efficiently on long winter nights. There are bulbs available that you can put into your existing lamps, including compact fluorescent versions.

 

More Snow? Get Out The Toro

Toro electric snow thrower use at home

Several years ago, I bought my first snow blower, a Toro 1800 electric snow thrower.

It’s been working with me to clear snow ever since.

I got it via Amazon, which some of my friends thought was strange. Usually you buy such things from a brick-and-mortar hardware store.

But I’d done my research online, and I got shipping included with the price of the snow blower (as we know, it’s never really free).

It was delivered the day after Thanksgiving, and I finished minor assembly. It was easy. I’ve been very happy with my Toro ever since.

Before purchase, I had researched different snow throwers, because I had never used one or owned one, and we did not have them at home when I was a kid. We had shovels, which the kids were allowed to use. The lawn tractor with snow blade was Dad’s exclusive territory.

Toro has come out with a more powerful version of the Model 1800, but matching the machine to your needs still applies.

  • A single stage machine was right for me. I have a cement driveway, about 150 feet long and generally one car wide. If it was gravel, I would have considered two-stage snow throwers. Single-stage means there is one spinning rotor that both collects the snow and throws it out through the chute. These machines are less powerful than two-stage snow throwers that have an auger to collect the snow, and an impeller to throw it.
  • Weight was also important. My Toro is light enough that I can lift it, and hang it on the wall for storage.
  • Power was also important. I chose an electric snow thrower because I have grounded outlets in the garage and house that are right next to the driveway, and because I wouldn’t have to deal with gasoline in the cold. When I turn on my Toro, it starts, as long as it’s plugged in.

Toro Snow throwerMy Toro 1800 can handle the type of snow I get most often. Not matching your needs to a product is just a recipe, IMO, to end up unhappy with the item.

My biggest challenges throwing snow was learning how to deal with the prevailing wind. It blows across my driveway, and if I throw with the wind, I fill up the neighbor’s driveway. So I need to be able to throw down the driveway most of the time, while avoiding a bath in snow, covering the neighbor’s driveway, and filling up my own driveway after I just cleared a section.

It has been worth it to learn now to use my Toro 1800 snow thrower. It is a lot faster than using a shovel, and a lot less work.

 

 

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