Category Archives: Simple Life

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.

10 Easy Ways to Go Green

Today is Earth Day.

Sometimes we look at environmental issues as being too big for just one person to solve; on the global scale, they are. That doesn’t mean that each of us can’t do our part to improve the environment.

Here is a quick list of 10 easy ways for anyone to start going green.

  1. Change your driving habits
    • Walk
    • Ride a bike
    • Use Public Transport
    • Move closer to work
    • Carpool
  2. Check out used before buying new
    • Garage sales
    • Flea markets
    • Classified ads
    • craigslist
    • Kijiji
  3. Buy or use local
    • Farmer’s Markets
    • Market farms
    • Greenhouses
    • Crafters and artisans
  4. Set back your thermostats
    • Furnace
    • Hot water tank
    • Air conditioner
  5. Recycle
    • Household
    • Compost
    • Office
    • Thift Stores
    • Consignment shops
  6. Conserve water
    • Low-flow shower head
    • Shorter showers
    • Low-flush toilets
    • Give up bottled water
  7. Change your light bulbs
    • Use compact fluorescent
    • Use LED holiday lights
    • Turn off lights as your leave rooms
    • Use lower wattage bulbs, where possible
  8. Use energy efficient appliances
    • Energy star rated
    • Mid or high-efficiency furnace
    • Clothesline
  9. Reduce chemical use
    • Natural pesticides
    • Natural fertilizers
    • Biodegradable household cleaners
    • Phosphate free products
  10. Extend the life of your electronics
    • Don’t upgrade to every new gadget
    • Extend the life of entertainment equipment by one year
    • Buy used instead of new

How to Make Time for Work and Play

Relationships with others, both at work and in your personal life, are an integral part of whether life will seem manageable and enjoyable. Nurturing and fostering interpersonal relationships take time and energy. People who do not achieve a sense of balance may feel fragmented or overwhelmed.

Work and relationships will suffer if you are not managing to meet your needs and responsibilities, in addition to considering the needs of others at your workplace and in your personal life. Of course you cannot do everything! Ask yourself, “Am I doing things that are the most important to me? Am I spending time with those I love? Am I making time for both work and play?”

Having balance in your life will be easier if you:

  • Know your values
  • Identify priorities
  • Reduce unnecessary things
  • Set some goals and make a plan
  • Revisit priorities and goals occasionally

A value is important to the person who holds it. What changes with time and growth is the ranking of values in relation to other values. Values are expressed:

  • Through talk and action; how we use our time and energy
  • Through actions at work and play (leisure)
  • Through choices in the market place

Priorities are activities and relationships that receive first attention because you have ranked them as highly important. When setting priorities, ask yourself:

  • Is this important? To whom? Is this urgent? To whom? Is this necessary at all?

Unnecessary things in your life include some stressors, unresolved conflicts, bad habits, poor planning skills, and unrealistic expectations. For example, do you have unnecessary conflict with a co-worker or have unrealistic expectations by striving for perfection?

Finding balance with your work and personal life, including play, can be accomplished.

  • Select goals and dreams that support values.
  • Do things that will bring you closer to your goals.
  • Take action to do things out of your comfort zone. Be willing to take some risks.
  • Respond to challenges and disappointments positively. “What can I learn from this?”
  • Share your needs with others and seek their support. Be willing to ask for help.

Getting a handle on the stress in your life will help you make time for work and play and feel good about your general well-being.

  • Locate the sources of stress.
  • Physically work off the effects of stress.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Talk with someone you trust about your concerns or problems.
  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Organize what you can, without being a perfectionist and unduly hard on others.
  • Realize that you do not control the emotions or behaviour of others; you influence others.
  • Avoid self-medication and the misuse of alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time for recreation and for having fun.
  • Do something for others.
  • Take one thing at a time.
  • Compromise. You don’t always have to have it done your way. Agree to disagree.
  • Get away from it for a while (this can be done on a tight budget with limited time).

Ask yourself these questions.

  • What things cause me stress (my stressors)? How might I reduce my stress load?
  • What are the most personal things (work, activities, relationships) to me?
  • Is my personal life in balance? Do I feel good about my personal life?
  • Is my work life in balance? Do I feel good about my work life?
  • Am I spending time doing things (work, activities, relationships) most important to me?

Gratitude Journals and Why They Work

Christine Kane shares some thoughts on a powerful tool, the gratitude journal. Most of us who live in the West live with abundance, yet we get bogged down complaining about the things we think we need/want/wish. A gratitude journal can shift that focus in a big hurry. Consider all you can be thankful for.

A gratitude journal is a blank notebook where you write lists of things for which you are grateful. Every night, before you go to bed, you take about three minutes to write down a list of five things. (Or any do-able number.) Some days, you might be feeling particularly abundant, and those five things just fly onto the page. Some days, it might feel like you can’t think of even two things. That’s when you remember how amazing it is that you even have a roof over your head or food to eat. That’s when you remember your cat (again) and the fact that you have hot water for a bath. No matter what you’re feeling, you find time to write down these five things every single night without fail. And they don’t always have to be new and different

Gratitude Journals and Why They Work – Christine Kane

How Live a Contented Life

William Henry Channing was an American clergyman, writer and philosopher who served as the Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives in 1863 and 64.

The best known of his writings is a simple inspirational piece called the Symphony of Contentment.

To live content with small means.

To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion.

To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich.

To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly.

To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart.

To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.

In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious grow up through the common.

This is to be my symphony.