Archive for Living

like coffee? you will love coffee grounds!!!

A lot of people already know coffee grounds are great for enriching soil with nitrogen, but if your gardens just can’t keep up with your coffee habit there are a ton of other great ways to put those grounds to use.

Kitty Be Gone
Keep the neighborhood felines out of your garden by sprinkling a mixture of coffee grounds and orange peels around the edges of plant beds. It’s not only beneficial for you and your garden—there are lots of plants that are harmful to cats.

Ant Control
It’s that time of year: Ant season. If you have an ant problem, sprinkle coffee grounds near doorways. How does it work? The nitrogen burns the ants’ legs so they won’t walk cross it. Some people cover ant holes with grounds, but I’m a little too softhearted for that.

Sow Seeds
If you want to grow lots of carrots or radishes, you can make your seeds go further by adding in coffee grounds. Let the grounds dry and then mix them with seeds. Plant the grounds with the seeds and your plants will actually grow in thicker.

Get Shiny Hair
Coffee grounds can add shine to your hair and condition it naturally. Work the grounds into clean, wet hair and massage for a few minutes, then rinse. You may want to do this outdoors in warm weather to keep your drains from becoming clogged. (And brunettes—you’ll get the added benefit of lovely highlights.)

Eliminate Odors
Coffee absorbs scents from its environment, which makes it a fantastic natural deodorizer. Let the grounds dry, then pour them into a cup you can sit in your fridge or freezer. If you’ve been cooking with onion, garlic or other pungent foods, rub your hands in dry coffee grounds to remove smells.


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How to stop getting junk mails?

I went to a green festival last weekend and got some really good information that I wanted to pass on to people.  As you know, going green also means making a strong attempt to conserve and create less junk paper.  Well, we receive tons of junk mail everyday, here is how we can stop it!!!!

Go to the following places and request your name be taken off their lists:

1. Direct Mail: direct marketing association charges $1 to be taken off their list (I know, it’s ridiculous).  DMA is the single largest provider of direct mail lists.  For your sanity and for the world, just do it…

Write a letter and send it to:  DMA Mail Preference Service, PO Box 282, Carmel, NY 10512 or online at (www.dmaconsumers.org)

2. Sweepstakes (Publishers Clearinghouse is the biggest, call them at 800 645 9242and ask to be taken off.

3. Shopping Flyers: Valpack coupons: 1-800-237-6266

4. Junk Faxes:  The best way to stop junk fax is to contact the sender of the fax.  If they won’t stop, file a complaint to consumer information bureau at 888-225-5322 (fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/unwantedfaxes.html

5. Catalogues:  Contact the catalogue and tell them you want to be taken off their list.  You can also write them letters.  You can download a copy of a sample letter at www.stopjunkmail.org

6. Make sure when you buy stuff on line or phone that you tell them you DO NOT WANT them to sell your contact.  You also tell them you do not want promotional materials…

7. Cal your service providers like insurance, banks, etc. and ask them not to send you promotional materials…

I hope this gives you a good place to start getting less junk mail and helping to save our planet…

 

 

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How are energy prices impacting real estate values…

Here is a post that I thought was important so I decided to share it.  It’s actually something posted by Lisa Michelle Galley & Our Green Journey…

So I was at the Annual Fisher Center Real Estate Conference today, where the focus was “the state of real estate” from both an academic and practitioner point of view. The slant was residential, with high quality data and insights. A good bit of the perspectives  highlighted themes that are spurring the rise of interest in green development.

Robert Edelstein, Co-Chair of the Fisher Center, moderated a panel this morning on the state of the housing market. The panelists were James Saccacio of RealtyTrac, Bill Sumski of Paladin Pacific and Scott Ouellette of LandCap Partners. This question from the audience caught my attention:

“Do you think energy prices are impacting real estate values?”

Here’s a composite of the panelists’ responses:

Yes, energy price risk has been already been affecting consumers in significant ways. In the current wave of foreclosures, rising interest rates were the main reason that homeowners lost their homes.  Many people do not know the second reason – that the rising cost of gasoline and home energy also made the cost of homeownership too expensive, forcing people to give up their homes.

Energy prices are also forcing homeowners to reexamine the cost of their auto commutes. A panelist stated that he felt that homeowners are already starting to think that the tradeoff for a longer commute to be way less compelling.

Ken Rosen, of Rosen Consulting, provided his usual in depth economic analysis of U.S. real estate. Some of his comments also drew a thick black connector line between energy price increases and the threat to consumer and business viability. Highlights of his comments:

“Oil price increases are like tax increases. With oil prices at $122/barrel today, this is a huge tax increase on the consumer.”

“A year ago (April 2007), oil was $62/barrel, so its cost to the consumer has basically doubled in the past 12 months. At the same time in 2002, it was $20/barrel, a little over 1/6th of today’s price.”

“Official ‘core’ U.S. inflation is being reported at just below 2% currently. However, U.S. consumers, via buying so many products from abroad, are ‘importing’ a real inflation rate of 4%-4-1/2% p.a.. Part of that rate includes energy price increases. So the actual impact of energy price increases on the U.S. consumer and businesses is far greater than what is being measured and reported via the “official” data sources.”

But wait, (sadly) there’s more:

“For low income individuals, the real inflation rate is 7%-10% p.a. due to their greater exposure to food and energy price increases combined.”

So yes, the opinions were that real estate, including its value, is being directly and indirectly affected by consumers and businesses paying more for energy. This whole discussion did not even touch upon the increased cost of energy consumption of the buildings themselves.

A central thesis behind high-performance building is that the way a building gets built and is operated can lower its risk and preserve its value. Today I heard energy price increases  being called a direct tax on consumers and businesses. So to the extent real estate investors are tolerating energy inefficiency within their control, then they are also accepting a tax on their own return and forcing it on their tenants and shareholders. And this type of cost has a direct impact on a building’s ability to maintain or grow in value.

A green building may not totally eliminate the “energy tax”, but the methodology goes a long way in helping owners and tenants get smarter about operating and managing their real estate in a way to minimize negative impacts on their cash flows and property value.

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Building green 101 for “Non-Building” people!

Lately I have been asked by a few home owners that have a strong desire to make their homes “GREENER”, but are lost about where to start.  Much of the information out there about designing and building green homes, but for people, while it’s nice to admire these beautifully designed green buildings, we are bounded by our existing homes and have only so much to work with; and while the idea of creating more natural light is great, it’s rather costly and difficult (not to mention the process it takes to get permits, etc) for most people to do that with where they live.

So I’ve decided to provide a list of simple things we can do as people who care about being green…

  • Buy Energy Star* appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and dryer, etc)
  • Replace single pane with high performance windows
  • Upgrade to high efficiency water heater
  • Upgrade to energy efficient lighting
  • Install low mercury florescent lighting
  • Use building materials from companies that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council  (http://www.fscus.org/certified_companies/)
  • Use low to non-VOC paint for your interior and exterior walls (volatile organic compound)

For those of you that want to know more about green remodeling, I highly suggest you to go through the 2007 Remodeling Guidelines put together by http://www.builditgreen.org.

http://www.builditgreen.org/greenpoint-rated/guidelines

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Who lives in San Francisco and how can people afford properties in SF?

In the process of understanding the demographics of people in SF, I came across some data that I thought people might be interested.  This data was recently compiled by Info USA, a company that provides consumer databases.  Here is a breakdown in terms of age groups…  Not to my surprise, there are very little seniors living in the city and with the cost of living, it’s probably also more difficult for people under 25 to live here.  However, with all these people, there are over 260,000 people that make less than 60k, 86,000 people that make between 60k to 100k, and only 108,000 people make over 100k a year.  With more than 40% of homes costing more than 500K and how strong the real estate market is in San Francisco, I wonder if the single people out there would try to obtain home ownership by partnering up with friends.  It might be a good strategy for some people so that they can start the process of wealth accumulation.  Thoughts?

Age Group No. of People Percentage
under 25 13915 4%
25-39 118779 30%
40-49 111251 28%
50-64 102275 26%
64+ 45368 12%

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Amazing Staircase designs…

I came across a few interesting designs for staircases. As you know, the city is filled with condos and flats with many staircases. Most of you also know that space is an expensive commodity in the city, hence if we can make use of any space we have, we should…

staircase storage

Since we’re on the topic of stairs, here are some interesting designs…

Multi-millionnaire Scott Jones decided to splash his cash on a spiral staircase-slide and instantly made a lot of people jealous. Local craftsman Rodney Miller was called upon to create this 17 ft mahogany toy, a job which took a whopping 15 months to finish. The slide also includes fiber-optic lights which can change to 8 different colors.

stair SLIDES

Nice Stairs… London-based designer Thomas Heatherwick created this amazing 55 ton steel staircase for the opening of the new Longchamps store in NY last year and has since received praise from all angles. The construction of the staircase was apparently a logistical nightmare, each of the 17 seperate units having to be installed precisely, stretching up to the ceiling.

fancy stairs…

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Sustainable Living… A true green home built by a family, lived by a family

I found this website about a family that built a eco-friendly home. It’s not one of those modern architecture buildings with solar panels. What I am talking about is a truly organic home that will leave very little eco-footprint in the world.Front of House

The short story goes like this. A financially constrained family that are committed to being full-time parents to their 2 children, with deep concerns and convictions about the earth, had an offer from a landlord to move to his woodland in west Wales to build an eco-house. There was no security deposit collected or long term ownership, but £2000 was available for materials. The family went on their way to design and build their organic home, and here are some pictures… Inside

I’m very touched by the voice of this family. What they stand for, and the choices they are making.  Needless to say, this looks like a beautiful, beautiful home.

wide.jpg

Take a look at the website and the interview by a student to this family.

http://simondale.net/house/

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