Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to Propagate Roses

I had no idea propagating roses could be so easy! I have a few bushes I love enough to propagate. Now I will!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Self Opening Scissors For Kids II


I ordered some self-opening/spring action scissors for my nearly 5 year-old daughter a few weeks back. For most kids, I don't think these kids of scissors are necessary, but for my daughter, they have made a difference. (My daughter has very loose ligaments/ligament laxity in her hands, to the point where her thumb can come out of the joint when it is extended too far. The the loose ligaments are what allow that hyper-extension. So, learning to use scissors has been difficult and sometimes painful for my daughter.)

I ended up purchasing Koopy Kids Scissors as pictured above. At just $3.47, I wasn't sure what sort of quality to expect. I have been pleasantly surprised. These aren't "baby scissors," but are definitely shaped for a child's hands. Take note, they are sharp with a slightly blunt tip. These scissors are perfect for my daughter. The plastic arrow (good quality plastic, by the way) can be flipped up to enable the self-opening option, or down to use like regular scissors, or to store them in the closed position. Because the scissors self open, I wondered how easy they would be to close. My daughter has hand no problem with closing them. In fact, I have been so happy to see her actually start cutting things without giving up. She's starting to cut on the lines too. It was well worth the $3.47.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The BBB Method For My Hot Tub

I never meant to be a hot tub owner. It just came with the house we bought. Luckily the tub was relatively new and in great condition. I hoped to keep it in great condition, so knowing nothing about hot tubs, I went to a local hot tub dealership and asked about what sort of chemicals I'd need. $50 later, I walked out to my car with bromine and a bunch of other stuff.

And the costs kept adding up... After a year, I'd figured that I spent about $400 dollars on chemicals and filters (keeping the hot tub running all year, even in the winter)...not including the power bill (which, by the way, is about 8 bucks a month in the summer and 12-15 in the winter).

After that first year I learned a few things too. I learned that I didn't like using the hot tub in the winter. WAY too COLD outside for me. I learned that it was a great swimming pool for the kids in the summer. I learned that I hesitated to use the hot tub because I didn't want to have to put more chemicals in it... because that meant I'd soon be having to buy more!

So my quest for a cheaper options was born. I stumbled across the option last year of using Bleach, Baking Soda and Borax (BBB) to maintain hot tub/spa/or swimming pool chemistry. At the time, our hot tub was winterized, but I resolved to give it a try once spring returned. And it's spring! And I tried it! And it works!

Here's what I did: I filled up the tub like usual. I have a 350 gal Jacuzzi J345... so it takes about an hour to fill. Once I got it full, decided to go ahead and put in some Bleach (perfume free). I didn't know how much to put in since I hadn't found any information that detailed online. So, I just put in 3 cups. That was plenty. Next time I refill, I'll start with two cups. I ran the jets awhile and waited for the tub to heat up. I then checked the PH. This is the important part: Get the PH adjusted before adding Borax since it's a buffer that will help the PH from creeping up when you try to adjust alkalinity. Our water's PH is typically high, so I had to add a few tablespoons (3) of PH decreaser (which I had on hand since I have such a plethora of chemicals!). If the PH were too low, I could have added baking soda at about a tablespoon at a time to get it where I needed it. Once the PH was adjusted, I added a couple tablespoons of Borax. I let the jets run a cycle and then went ahead and adjusted the alkalinity using baking soda, adding it at a tablespoon at a time until it was perfect.

It's been a month now of maintaining my hot tub with Bleach, baking soda, and borax. I'm soooo happy with it. Why? Mostly price. I'm not a chemical snob so I don't care that I'm using chlorine in instead of bromine. Every couple of days (or after each use) I have to add about 2 tablespoons of Bleach to keep the choline at the right level. That's it, chemical-wise. The PH and alkalinity have stayed steady. I'm a much happier hot tub owner now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Benefits of Customer Service Via Chats

I've been spending more time than usual with costumer service of various internet/phone companies. I'm in the midst of a switch. The switch being: Dumping my landline, in place of VOIP using Ooma and keeping a standalone DSL connection through my phone company. (I'll write more on my Ooma experience later.)

In the past, when I needed to contact my phone company (not to name any names: Qwest), It meant:

  • Listening to silly touch tone menus
  • Being put on hold for no predetermined amount of time
  • Talking to someone with an accent that sometimes was difficult for me to understand, not to mention what a hard time they have understanding me...
  • Walking around with a phone glued to my ear while I try to get other things done with the background noise of my lovely children
  • Finding it difficult to get a word in before the service representative commenced to tell me how to fix a problem they didn't yet fully understand
I decided to try out the costumer service chat option via my phone company's website. I love that:
  • Although I still have to wait, I can have both hands free and no phone glued to my ear while I wait
  • There's no such thing as awkward silence when chatting. It's okay if I don't respond to the service representative right away... I have time to think and formulate my questions and responses
  • The tone of voice and emotion of both people gets taken out of the communication
  • I feel a bit more brave to demand the service I want
  • While I'm sure that much of the costumer service is still foreign, there is less of a language barrier
  • I can say what I want to say without being cut off
  • Even though they may try to tell me I need to call customer service, I've found that if I hold my ground, they will answer my questions through the chat instead
I'm learning quickly that I prefer online customer service chats. So long as the company I'm dealing with offers this service, and my web connection isn't down, this is the way to go!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PDFs! PDFs! PDFs!

Used to be that you couldn't make a .pdf document without the Adobe. That was a while ago. Now there are quite a few different ways to make a .pdf document. If you have OpenOffice (the free office suite comparable to Microsoft Office), you can use it to make your .pdfs. If you don't, there are a few little .pdf utilities you can download.

I've been using Cute PDF and have been happy enough with it that I haven't bothered trying any other programs.

Now, say you want to convert a .pdf to a word document... and you don't want to have to download a program to do it. Check out www.convertpdftoword.net. Simply upload the .pdf you wish to convert and then click the "convert and download" button. Very simple, very straightforward and quick. I tried this out using a phone bill and I was quite impressed, it kept all the formatting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers Day: Likes and Dislikes

My Mothers Day irises, I picked for myself from my yard on my crinkly vinyl tablecloth. Now, to my husband's credit, he did buy me a pretty periwinkle plant.

Things I like about Mothers Day:
  • It's nice to have a day to recognize mothers/women.
  • It's nice to have a reminder that I'm long over-due for thanking my Mom for all she does.
Things I Don't Like About Mothers Day:
  • Though unintended, it seems to separate women who have children from those who don't.
  • I don't like that some women expect to take the day "off." How can you take the day off from being a Mom? A little extra help is nice, a flower, a card... but, really, is there such thing as a day off?
  • I don't like how I feel that I have to be an extra good mother on the day... which is nigh to impossible when 18 month old pours the juice from breakfast all over the floor and then demands a diaper change while the other 18 month old wants to play in the juice.
Other Thoughts

To me, all women should be celebrated on Mothers day. I can think of many women, old and young that influenced me throughout my life. Some had children, some did not. But they had a mothering influence on me. And I try not to have dorky expectations for myself about being a perfect mother... since I'm aware that the popular idea of perfection is not perfection.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Print First Class Postage With PayPal

If you are like me, most days it's a pain to go to the post office to mail a package. Doing it online is a great solution if you have a scale that can weigh in ounce increments. If you've ever tried to do this through the USPS web site, it works okay. I say just okay because they don't give you all the delivery options that you would have if you were in the post office buying postage. There is no First Class or Media Mail delivery option. These options, while they take the longest, offer the best rates. But, hey, you didn't have to get in your car and go to the post office!... Right?

However, there is another, less-advertised option. If you have a PayPal account, you can use that to print first class or media mail stamps! Here's your link to start online shipping with better prices and more options: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

So, about how much might you save using First Class over Priority? I checked prices on a large envelope weighed 2 ounces for this case study. Cost to ship First Class? $1.58. Cost to ship Priority? $5.05. That's a savings of $3.74.

The final word: If I'm going to ship at home, I'm doing it through PayPal.