It is supposed to be a dark and stormy day. . .and night. Not my favorite kind of day here at the house. I’ve told everyone before, but for the new folks, trees have a way of falling on our house and cars whenever there is a storm! You have no idea how nervous this weather makes me! I would take the epic cold the east has been suffering over a windstorm any day of the week. My house can be closed against the cold with our fireplace going, blankets wrapped around us, and hot tea being sipped, but a tree on the house tends to lead to all sorts of damage . . . including being too afraid to fall asleep when a gust blasts through. If anyone cares to say a prayer that our family, home and cars be safe today, I’d appreciate it. Seriously, 2 trees on the house and 5 injuries to the cars in 5 years is just too much. With my nerves on edge, I can certainly use something to celebrate today!
Houseplant Appreciation Day – I have always envied people who have a way with plants. My Grandmothers both did, and my Mom does. Me? Not so much. I know I wrote last year about the plight of my plants. . . . poor things. I have a black thumb. No, I won’t go that far. They are still alive . . . barely. I’m one of those people who waits til wilting begins before watering. It prevents death by drowning . . . like the fate of the poor cactus and the poor aloe. Very sad. When the leaves begin to droop, I water them. Presto Chango! It’s a miracle! They perk right up again! incredible. There is one plant that I have that I really want to survive. The rest of them I’d feel a slight amount of guilt over it they went the way of their cacti brothers, but I’d get over it. This one particular plant though, this one is special. Back story . . . Years ago when my children were little, my ex-mother-in-law had this plant. I couldn’t tell you want it was called, still can’t to this day. She swore that it didn’t like to be moved around, and it appeared to be true in the case of this plant. One day I saw little pink, waxy blossoms coming out of the plant pot, and assumed that she’d done what she normally did, and popped some plastic flowers into the pot to make it LOOK like it had bloomed. I got closer and could smell a perfume smell – so sweet it was almost cloying. Wow, she’d really gone all out to fool me! That’s when I realized that there were little droplets of moisture on the blossoms, they were real! These beautiful, delicate little flowers were REAL! I told my Grandma K about the plant and she was really excited about it – wanted to know what it was. In an uncharacteristic moment of selflessness, my ex-mother-in-law cut a piece off of the plant and began to root it out, and eventually it became a lovely little plant all on its own that she put into a pot. We planned a visit to see my Grandma, and she gave her the plant. Fast forward a few years, the plant was growing like crazy and it loved my Grandma – like all of her plants did. She was always sad that it never bloomed though. One day she called me and told me that the plant had sprouted 3 sets of lovely pink blossoms, but I had news of my own. That day my ex-mother-in-law had passed away. A few years after that I had to re-claim Grandma’s plant for myself. She was ill and in hospice care in a nursing facility. I was afraid Grandpa, in his grief, would throw away the plants. On June 25, 2000, on the day my Grandma went to heaven, that plant blossomed again. Three sets of lovely pink, fragrant blossoms. It hasn’t bloomed again since then, and honestly, I’m not a superstitious person, but I’m not sure I want it to. Do you have any special plants that have meaning to you? Celebrate today by feeding and watering your plants. They really do deserve it. I’ll give mine a special treat and give them fertilizer too. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the boost of energy. (After I wrote this section I found a picture of the plant! It was on a site that asks people to identify what a plant is – there wasn’t a name attached to it, and no responses as to what it is! Does anyone know?)
- Turn down the heat! You’ll save money by turning down your thermostat. According to the Department of Energy, the average American spends about $2,000 on annual energy costs with nearly half used for heating purposes.
- Speaking of heat, upgrade to an Energy Star programmable thermostat if you can.
- Weatherproof the house. Adding simple things like caulk and weather-stripping around doors and windows that are not adequately sealed can really make a difference.
- If possible, add more insulation to your home.
- Switch out those old light bulbs and replace them with the energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. (not that we’re given much choice in that now)
- Believe it or not, even if you aren’t using a particular appliance or electronic gadget, they are still using energy. Unplug items you are not using. (I know this works – a friend of mine got her power nearly to nothing one month from unplugging everything as an experiment.)
- Turn off the television, radio and/or computer when not in use.
- Close the window blinds/curtains when it’s very warm or extremely windy/cold.
- When it’s time to purchase a new appliance, make sure it is ENERGY STAR rated. Be sure to check out possible tax credits and rebates too.
- Turning down the fridge and/or water heater will help save money too.
- Wait until the dishwasher or washing machine/dryer is completely full before you start a new load.
- Don’t let the water run when brushing your teeth.
- Install low-flow shower heads to help save water.
- Fix those leaky/dripping faucets and running toilets.
- Landscaping with shade trees can help block wind and the sun and reduce those energy bills.
- Help reduce our dependence on foreign oil by walking or hopping on your bike instead of driving.
- Speaking of cars – when it’s time to purchase a new vehicle, be sure to check out electric/hybrid vehicles or traditional autos that get good mileage. (I won’t ever get a hybrid – the costs financially AND environmentally are too big for words – just research what it takes to dispose of those batteries once they die! Not worth it, in my opinion. A good, economical, fuel efficient vehicle will always be the way I go)
- If you can afford it, more expensive items like solar/tankless water heaters, solar panels, new energy-efficient windows and/or cool roofs are just a few of the big ticket items that can make a big impact on your energy bill. Don’t forget to check out rebates or tax credits on these items as well.
- Check with your local organizations, governments and utility company. Some may offer energy assistance and/or weatherization programs if you qualify.
Just be smart with your energy usage! Leaving lights on all over the house, appliances going when you aren’t using them (I’m horrible about pre-heating the oven to bake something, then getting distracted and leaving it going unnecessarily), turning down the heat a little bit (we have sweaters and blankets folks!), etc. are all practical things that can be done by everyone.
This Day In History –
1863 – The world’s first underground passenger railway system opens in London, England.
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Bittersweet Chocolate Day – Many Europeans found the frothy, bitter chocolate drinks they picked up from Aztecs unappealing. Once they added cane sugar, a worldwide chocolate craze was born. And I think we can all agree that this is one of the best things to have a craze about, right? Mmmmmm . . . . Enjoy at least a bite of chocolate today.
- Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies
- Ed’s Chicago Cocoa Chili
- Basic French Silk Pie
- Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet
- Ultra-Rich Hot Chocolate
- Shotts Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake
- Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes
Well, I have a self-imposed deadline to get a few things done today. I’m already accomplishing things as I type this, like laundry, a stew in the crockpot, etc. With the winds supposed to start rising today I don’t want to take any chances and not have things done that need to be, just in case we lose power. God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!