Cookies; not what you think

I am not technology savvy. My little slide open Samsung cell phone is proof. Our kids keep up to date with the latest phones; to me they are only needed for an emergency line to family members, or if I need someone to stop by the store on their way home. So I stumbled on these opt outs for cookies and have updated my computer settings. If I can limit who is tracking my advertising based online behaviors, then count me in, or out.

These are a couple of good place to start reading and opting out.

And, if you have trouble finding the button to opt out on the front page of a website, scroll down to the bottom and open their “Privacy Policy” link. It may have an opt-out button in there.

http://www.futureplc.com/cookies-policy/how-can-i-manage-or-opt-out-of-cookies/

http://www.allaboutcookies.org/

Building a Backyard Chicken Coop – Homesteading and Livestock – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

I plan to have chickens again soon and we moved our coops with us, but this is just the cutest. It will need some weather protection so it doesn’t all fall apart.

The Reclamation Administration

Building the Chicken Coop

With my partner Christopher’s help they free-form patterned a shell to house the up-cycled parts. The bottom of the original hutch with the double doors became the front of the coop, the shelving became the back, while the night stand became the egg box.

via Building a Backyard Chicken Coop – Homesteading and Livestock – MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

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Electric Deregulation

We are in the middle of having to decide a new retail electric provider (REP); the deadline is mid-April. Today I decided to face it head-on and do my research. Some providers showed up at a recent “meet and greet” sponsored by our current provider who is no longer able to stay our provider due to deregulation. Only a handful showed up, but one handout given to us listed 26 potential providers, with phone numbers and their websites. Whew…

The most helpful websites I found to sort through the options were powertochoose.org and also currentchoice.com. Another helpful site with great tips to choose a provider in Texas is WatchdogNation.com.

Some hints I picked up is to check the complaint scorecard and complaint history that shows up on powertochoose.com. Also, hidden or recurring fees you don’t think about (some providers charge more if you use less than 1000 Kwh per month, which can negate savings you anticipated when signing up). Review each and every one of your past electric bills for monthly Kwh usage to find how many months you were under 1000 Kwh. This is a variable, but should have some consistency (when you are out of town, or the months when the seasons change and temps are more neutral and heating or cooling is rarely used).

Some providers have cancellation of contract fees; read that carefully. The amounts can vary a lot.

On the plus side, some users give a “discount” if you reach 2000 Kwh or more per month.

I also looked over the individual websites. How user friendly they are, and also if they have a sample bill to look at is also helpful. How much usable information is on the bill for you to see? Who to call for power outages, customer service phone, usage history, etc.

The provider I like also has opportunity to signup for a free service that helps you monitor your usage daily and compensate you (i.e., credit back to your bill) for help in lowering energy usage at critical energy events through email updates. Strictly voluntary and at no charge to participate, but a definite benefit to me, the consumer, and the power grid as a whole.

It is also important to periodically (annually is a good time frame) review rates your provider has. You can opt out of your contract with advance notice and there could be fees involved so read and know your contract. It is easy to move from one provider to another without any service interruption.

It is a head-spinning world to navigate. I think we have chosen our new provider and am very comfortable with the choice.

We have trees!

I love trees. They house the wonderful sounds of singing birds and shield the quiet mother in her nest of young ones. The mockingbirds, cardinals, hummingbirds, bluebirds and so many others are a joy to the ears. The roadrunners are there somewhere, I can hear them calling. We get to see them only as they quickly cross the road when we drive by the dense cedar cover. My mockingbirds and hummingbirds are my favorites.

Our new house needs trees around it, not just to cast some shade in the heat, but just to make it look like it “belongs”. This pasture has no trees in it; farmers don’t want trees in pastures that they cut for hay. However, we do have a nice dense tree line along one length of our property which is an abandoned railroad that has been turned into a walking/biking trail (Rails to Trails Conservancy ). It’s still very much a nature trail, just the railroad ties have been removed and someone keeps it somewhat maintained and the grassy surface mowed. The tree line and the high banks shield our view of any traffic on it, but the trees are a great enjoyment. We hope to utilize the path when it gets warmer. The trail season’s Opening day is this Saturday. Right now, this one spans from Farmersville, TX up to Paris, TX.

So, we went tree shopping a few weekends back, and our tree installation scheduled for Wednesday last week. We have used this tree nursery before and were very pleased with the service. They only sell “successful” trees; no unproven trees and nothing that doesn’t like our area of Texas. With an 18 month tree warranty with free replacement, the owner doesn’t want to have to foot that bill very often. He will gladly do so, but he invests only in trees that give him confidence in their reliability. He will change his stock accordingly if certain plants are moving into higher percentages of loss.

The guys arrived before their 9:45 am scheduled time. They got right to work and had 8 trees installed in an hour and a half. The rain we recently had helped them out as the ground was nice and moist and easier to hand dig. They have it down to an art and are a well oiled machine. I only had to provide hoses for watering in the trees when planted.

I will now patiently wait for the October Glory maples and Chinese Pistachio to leaf out and house my birds.

Visit An Incredible Winery Built Out Of Abandoned Boats | Gizmodo Australia

I love interesting architecture, and especially when it involves reusing cast-off materials.

The Reclamation Administration

Visit an Incredible Winery Built Out of Abandoned Boats

The project was designed by Alejandro D’Acosta and Claudia Turrent, a husband & wife architecture team, based locally in Baja, who are known for their inventive approach to reuse, which includes everything from rammed earth to reclaimed trash. At Vena Cava, the duo salvaged a handful of discarded boats from a nearby port and turned them into vaulted ceilings for the winery’s essential functions.

Visit an Incredible Winery Built Out of Abandoned Boats

via Visit An Incredible Winery Built Out Of Abandoned Boats | Gizmodo Australia.

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De-cluttering after moving

Moving into a new house means trying to find a place for all the stuff brought from the previous house and may have been bought for a specific spot in that old house. In the new house, every wall, nook and cranny needs to be evaluated to see which item can be used.

We actually made a spreadsheet of all our furniture with dimensions, décor items, lamps and wall art, and rooms they belonged in. We designed our spaces around many of the pieces we knew we would be keeping so they would definitely fit.

My husband’s grandparents washstand needed floorspace in the master bath.
master bath washstand

The handcarved bench seat needed a wall to sit up against in the dining room, next to the big windows, as a windowseat. I plan to plant a nice perennial garden out there.
carved bench dining

dining carved bench

We also bought a very old Craftsman styled dining buffet, and we made a niche just for it, with a spotlight to highlight it at night. I like it very much; it’s signed on the back but I have not been able to find who made it.
dining floor and stairs lights on

buffet front

buffet side

The elliptical machine has a niche we designed in the laundry room, and we can look out the double patio doors and out to the pasture while exercising, instead of facing a blank wall.
elliptical corner

We even designed a grouping of niches along the back hall that will hold wall art in the upper niche, and bookshelves in the lower half.
hallway niches

It’s all the little collected things that need to find a spot for and look like they belong, without being cluttery. Some things need a shelf and others need a wall to hang on. Slowly I am finding spots, but I think I will be boxing up things to sit in a storage closet and then rotate things every so often to freshen up and revive some displays. It’s hard to think about getting rid of things when we like them all so much for whatever the reason. Our own little memories; no one else really cares.

Habitat for Humanity project makes new furniture out of old wood – Entertainment & Life – The State Journal-Register – Springfield, IL

We shop our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store whenever we are looking for something for a project. Our master bath mirror and the master bath buffet-turned-into-vanity were bought at two different Re-Stores.

The Reclamation Administration

Habitat volunteer Hunter Westbrook uses a miter saw to cut wood planking from a recycled pallet that will be used in the construction of the bench. Fellow volunteer Michael Roberts also works on the bench. Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County is building furniture and other items out of wooden pallets in workshop space provided by South Side Christian Church of Springfield.

David Spencer/The State Journal Register

Habitat volunteer Hunter Westbrook uses a miter saw to cut wood planking from a recycled pallet that will be used in the construction of the bench. Fellow volunteer Michael Roberts also works on the bench. Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County is building furniture and other items out of wooden pallets in workshop space provided by South Side Christian Church of Springfield.

Habitat volunteer Steve Sullivan uses a crowbar to pry apart oak planks.

via Habitat for Humanity project makes new furniture out of old wood – Entertainment & Life – The State Journal-Register – Springfield, IL.

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