Category Archives: Simple Life

22 Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

If you’re a coffee drinker, chances are you brew coffee each day. That leaves you with a load of used coffee grounds to dispose of. Here are 22 ways to make use of spent coffee grounds, culled from around the web. I haven’t tested all of these, so YMMV.

  1. Deodorizer: To remove unwanted food smells inside the fridge or freezer, dry the coffee grounds in the oven, on a cookie sheet and then put it in a bowl in your fridge. Fill old pantyhose with the dry grounds and tie off the ends. Hang this in closets and it will absorb odors.
  2. Plant food: Those plants that prefer acidic soil will benefit from coffee grounds sprinkled around the plant. Also, the grounds can add nutrients if you are composting plant waste.
  3. Grow your own mushrooms: One of the most interesting uses for used coffee grounds, as well as a technique you can enjoy indoors year-round. If you are a fan of mushrooms and coffee, you will be surprised at how easy it is to combine them and have your own mushrooms growing within days.
  4. Insect repellant: Coffee grounds are a good ant repellent. Sprinkle coffee grounds around ant hills. Coffee grounds also repel snails and slugs. Sprinkling coffee grounds around your garden eliminates cutworms and ants. To get rid of ants in the lawn, mix 1 pound of used grounds in 1 quart of hot water and pour on ant hills.
  5. Dye: By steeping coffee grounds in hot water, you can make brown dye for fabric, paper and even Easter eggs.
  6. Furniture scratch repair: Make a paste of coffee grounds and a little water and apply to furniture scratches with a Q-tip.
  7. Cleaning: If you have tough grease on dishes, or on floors, coffee grounds act as an abrasive and can be used as a scouring agent. Flush them down your drains to clean the pipes.
  8. Freezer deodorant. Put a bowl full of coffee grounds in the freezer overnight. For a flavored coffee scent, add a couple drops of vanilla to the grounds.
  9. Fireplace clean-up: The next time you go to shovel the ashes from your fireplace sprinkle wet coffee grounds on top of them first. The wet grounds will damp down dust from the ashes and make them easier to scoop up.
  10. Kitty repellent: To keep cats from using the garden as their personal toilet, sprinkle coffee grounds mixed with orange peels around your plants.
  11. Flea dip: Rid your pets of fleas with old coffee grounds. Shampoo your dog or cat as usual and while they are still wet, rub their fur with coffee grounds all the way to their skin. Rinse the coffee grounds away. This will make the pet’s fur soft and clean and fleas will disappear.
  12. Cellulite reducer: Here is the procedure: Mix 1/4 cup warm used coffee grounds and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. While standing over an old towel or newspaper, apply the mixture to your problem areas. Wrap the area with plastic wrap and leave on for several minutes. Unwind the wrap, brush loose grounds off your skin and then shower with warm water.
  13. Skin care: Used grounds make a good skin facial pack like a mud pack. They can be used for skin dermabrasion.
  14. Hair care: Brunettes can benefit from rinsing their hair in coffee. Darker redheads can also use coffee to rejuvenate the color of their hair. Steep used coffee grounds in two cups hot water for 15 minutes or so and then rinse through hair for a darker, more vibrant shine.
  15. Tanning: Here’s a cool way to rejuvenate your summer tan without damaging your skin with the sun’s harmful rays. Add a cup of water to the day’s old coffee grounds and boil. When it is cool to the touch rub it all over your body, you can even put it in a sprayer, get in the shower and soak yourself down that way. Let your skin absorb the coffee for about twenty minutes and then rinse in cool water. The coffee will stain your slightly to give your tan an extended life.
  16. Cooking: For cooking, don’t reach for those used coffee grounds. Instead, opt for your leftover coffee or fresh grounds. Rather than throwing away the leftover coffee in the bottom of the pot, use it as a meat tenderizer; marinate your steak to add a great new flavour. You can also add fresh grounds to chocolate cakes and brownies for a richer flavour.
  17. Trick or Treat: Beards for Halloween costumes can be made with a little honey and coffee grounds. Warm up a little bit of honey in the microwave until it is warm and runny, but not so hot that it burns the skin. Spread the warm honey over the face in the pattern of a mustache and beard. Spread coffee grounds that have been dried out over the honey.
  18. Children’s toy: Coffee grounds are great for making homemade play dough. Mix a bunch of old used coffee grounds with ½ cup of salt, 1 ½ cups of cornmeal and add enough water to moisten it into a dough. You decide how sticky and wet you want your play dough.
  19. Crafts and Hobbies: Make Treasure Stones for a children’s party.
  20. Tats: Fans of homemade tattoos sometimes mix coffee and henna to create a dye for permanent tattoos.
  21. Fireplace fuel: The Java Log fire log is made from used coffee grounds, wax, and molasses.
  22. Keep bait worms alive by mixing coffee grounds into the soil before you add worms

If you don’t have enough used grounds to meet your demands, local coffee shops often package their used grounds, and you can have them for free.

5 Tips to Help Simplify Your Life

  1. Make a list of your five most important goals. You can’t achieve your goals if don’t know what they are. Do you wish you had more time for your family, your friends, or your faith? The act of reflection can create insights and opportunities toward achieving what matters most.
  2. Turn it off. Just because you have a phone, a television, a computer, a PDA, etc., doesn’t mean you need to have them on all the time. Even short breaks from incoming media can shift your perspective. Take a walk, meditate, read, or reflect.
  3. Invest your time. Spending money is easy. Anyone can buy presents on-line, but a phone call, coffee, an evening of board games, or tray of home-made treats will create memories that last longer than any purchase.
  4. Leave work at work. Don’t let your work routine take over your life. Try not to take work home everyday. Take lunch breaks and leave on time. Use all your vacation time: see what type of flex-time arrangements you can make with your employer.
  5. Count Your Blessings. You don’t need to have the newest version of every product on the shelf. Countless millions of people on our planet live on a dollar a day or less. We have more than our grandparents could have even imagined. Don’t take your blessings for granted. Count them and be thankful for what you have.

Personal Objectives for Life Balance

More than ever before, we play many roles in our lives. We are workers, parents, spouses, friends, caregivers, and volunteers in their communities. We also try and make room in our lives to take care of our own well-being. Not surprisingly, achieving balance among all these competing priorities can be difficult. Here in Canada 58% of people report overload associated with their many roles.

While you can’t control all the factors that impact your work/life balance, there are some things you can control. Life is made up of several parts working together to bring the balance needed for optimal wellness:

  • Physical: nutritious food, safe water, healthy air, exercise
  • Mental: intellectual challenges, knowledge, thoughts
  • Emotional: feelings, belonging, security
  • Philosophical: authenticity, spirituality, meaning, attitudes
  • Social: relationships with others, friendships
  • Career: finances, fulfillment
  • Recreational: leisure, fun, sports

Finding the ideal balance between work and life is rare. The nature of that balance is different for every person and can change over time. We shouldn’t try for perfection, but constantly be aware of making choices that will benefit all aspects of our lives. Achieving work/life balance is an investment – it takes time and effort to implement. But it’s worth the effort.

Optimize Your Equipment for an Energy-Smart Office

Computers, printers, photo-copiers, fax machines and scanners are essential equipment in the office and in many cases, the home. They are tools we rely on each day to do our jobs effectively and efficiently and it is difficult to imagine working without them. However, there is a price to be paid for the convenience offered by current office technology, and it’s a price that goes well beyond the purchase cost.

Computers and other types of office equipment represent the fastest-growing use of electricity in commercial buildings and homes in the United States today, and there is no reason to believe that the situation is any different in Canada. Twenty years ago, office equipment accounted for only about 1 percent of the total energy consumed in a typical office. Today it accounts for as much as 20 percent of office energy consumption.

With the cost of electricity on the rise, this increase in energy consumption by office equipment is no small matter. However, it can be a difficult one to pin down. Although business is aware of the purchase price of different types of equipment, ongoing energy costs—the so-called “second price tag”—often remain hidden because they are rolled into one large utility bill at the end of the month. Depending on the type and model of equipment you purchase, your electricity expenses could exceed the purchase price, over the life of the machine.

The good news is, the situation is not hopeless—in fact, it’s well within your control. By understanding how office equipment affects your utility costs and what you can do about it, you can plan today for an energy-smart, environmentally-responsible office that will be just as efficient and productive as it is today—perhaps even more so!

How Office Equipment Increases Your Utility Costs

Each machine in your office increases your electricity bill in three ways:

  1. uses electricity while operating or when sitting idle. Although things are changing for the better, many office machines are not built with energy efficiency in mind, which means they use more energy than is required to complete a task.
  2. adds to the total electricity demand in the office during peak daytime hours, when utilities charge a premium for higher demand.
  3. generates heat, which causes indoor temperatures to rise and increases the demand for air conditioning in the summer months. By some estimates, energy consumption by cooling systems may increase by as much as 40 percent to counteract the heat generated by office equipment.

There are other costs associated with operating office equipment:

  • In older buildings, increases in power density (watts per square meter) caused by an abundance of office machines can lead to expensive upgrades of electrical systems.
  • In new buildings, electrical systems are being installed with higher load capacities, at a higher cost.
  • Taxes and electricity rates may rise if demand reaches the point where new electricity-generating and distribution facilities are needed.
  • The cost of consumables (e.g., paper and toner for copiers and printers) will increase proportionately the more the equipment is used.

Usage Habits Also Affect Energy Consumption

How a piece of equipment is designed and manufactured has a significant impact on its overall energy consumption, but usage habits can be even more important.

The easiest way to save energy and money is to simply turn off equipment when it is not in use. Another is to adjust settings to shut off a computer, monitor, printer, and other equipment after a user-specified period of inactivity. Activating power management for your office equipment can do more than save energy, it can extend operating life.

Another key to an energy-smart office is to manage information rather than paper. Communicating electronically is fast, efficient and uses far less energy than producing text or images on paper. Storing information electronically, rather than on paper, can also save vast amounts of money and space. In short, reducing your office’s use of paper will lower your energy, operating and capital costs and increase your competitiveness, productivity, and profitability.

This may require a “culture change” within your organization. Even though e-mail, networks, and electronic data-storage devices (high-capacity hard drives, diskettes, CD-ROMs and tape backup/restore systems) have been around for years, many people still print documents as a matter of habit. In many cases, this is simply a waste of paper, energy, money, and time. Although paper can be a valuable communications tool in some situations, it is often an overused one.

Addressing the “human factor” can be difficult—old habits are hard to break. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to implement basic policies to minimize energy consumption in the office. Whatever steps you take, explain what is being proposed, why, and, most importantly, show leadership by example.

Office Equipment and the Environment

Climate change is a serious global issue, and we all need to be part of the solution. The production of greenhouse gases and pollutants that cause urban smog can be minimized by reducing our use of electricity and other forms of energy, not only in the office but in factories and institutions, at home and on the road. Also, by controlling demand for electricity, we can help avoid the environmental damage caused during construction of new generating facilities.

There are other links between office equipment and the environment. The production of paper has a direct impact on the environment, both in terms of the energy expended in the production process and in the loss of trees, which provide the fiber needed to make paper. Trees also help address the greenhouse gas problem by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide. When trees are harvested, the carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere.

Despite recycling programs and initiatives, a great deal of used paper goes into landfill sites. Unless you have a recycling program in place, chances are your discarded computers, monitors, printers, and other equipment also end up in a landfill at the end of their useful lives. Attention to detail can help you purchase long-lasting, energy-efficient equipment and recyclable office products.

Tips for Growing a Lawn the Green Way

Despite the bit of May snow falling, lawns are greening and needing care. Lawns are the most resource-intensive form of landscaping. However, there are ways to reduce the environmental impact of lawn maintenance.

If a lawn is a must for you, here are some green tips for a green lawn:

Watering

Watering lawns and gardens accounts for up to 50% of domestic water consumption during the summer. It’s no wonder, during peak summer months, watering restrictions have become almost commonplace. Cutting down on water use isn’t about obeying a municipal ruling. Saving water also decreases the amount of energy used to treat and pump clean water to your home. You’ll also save money on your water bill. It’s simple to keep your lawn green.

  • Water once a week. One long (an hour) watering is better than several short ones. Perhaps a bit more frequently if your grass gets hours of full sun. If it’s been raining, cut back. Consider getting a rain gauge to measure rainfall and act as a guide.
  • Measure the amount of water your sprinkler leaves on the lawn. It’s easy, put out a container such as a measuring cup the next time you water and see how much water accumulates. As a rule, lawns need about one inch of water for each watering.
  • Get a timer. Once you know how long to leave the sprinkler on to give your lawn enough water, use a timer. Most of them fit between the outdoor tap and the garden hose and have a dial with both an on/off setting and a shut-off feature.
  • Install a rain barrel. Your eaves trough downspout must be able to drain directly into the barrel. Rain barrels are inexpensive to purchase and can provide you with free water. The runoff from an average roof will completely fill a 60-gallon rain barrel after only 0.2 inches of rain fall.
  • Keep grass at around 2-3 inches high to promote deeper roots, which reach down further into the earth to find moisture. Cutting the grass shorter will promote shallow roots and dry out the lawn more quickly.

Fertilizers

For a healthy lawn and your own health, don’t use pesticides. Use natural fertilizers instead. Many environmentally friendly products are easy to use and highly effective. They often contain minerals, the natural by-products of partly decayed organic matter. All these ingredients encourage your grass to grow healthy and strong.

Insecticides

Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic, safe insecticide made from fossils of freshwater organisms and marine life. Crushed to a fine powder, it is deadly to any insect but won’t harm humans, animals, fish, fowl or plants. For plants, you can use it in spray form, mixing 1/4 pound per 5 gallons of water, making sure to keep the mixture well agitated. Or you can dust your plants—after you’ve watered or it’s rained (so the earth will stick to the leaves).

Weed Control

Instead of using chemicals, try regular white vinegar. Vinegar can help get rid of such weeds as Canada thistle, broad-leaf plantain and English plantain, but you have to spray them while they’re seedlings. Once they’ve matured, the vinegar will kill the exposed plant, but won’t kill the root. The best natural way of getting rid of dandelions, crab grass and other weeds that show up in lawns is to remove them manually. Soap-based products, in liquid spray form, can also be effective in spot-treating some weeds such as bindweed.

4 Ideas for Writing a Grief Journal

I read the C.S. Lewis book, A Grief Observed (aff) many years ago. I remember wondering how one could write through their grief. It seemed such a foreign concept to me.

I have been fortunate to have suffered little loss thus far in my life. However, I have come to understand how verbalizing grief can help the healing process.

Here is a short list of prompts to help you write when you experience loss:

Keep writing. Writing may uncover emotions surrounding the event that you didn’t think you were feeling. You may find yourself getting angry or crying as you write. This is natural… allow yourself to feel the emotion. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. While it may not make sense, letting go all of those bottled up emotions helps you through the grieving process.

Examine your emotions. Give yourself time and space. Make a list of everything you feel regarding what happened and then write out, at length, how and why you feel each feeling. Don’t be afraid to go in-depth.

Be creative. Draw or collage your grief. When it’s too hard to write or you feel that words don’t convey the exact thoughts you feel, turn to art. Draw out your emotions… scribble out the anger or tears. Cry on the page. Collage images that show how you feel or the best times you had with the one you lost. I found a few images I had of mo and me and I turned them into a digital remembrance collage of him.

Write unsent letters. Write letters that no one else will see, except for you, the page, and the spirit of who you lost. I know many people who have dealt with their grief this way. They say it’s therapeutic and helps them feel connected to who they lost.

Remember the memories. Write down happy events. Keep a record of who you lost and what they looked like. Keep a list of the things they loved (music, books, movies, chew toys, etc.) and allow yourself to remember the love you had for them.