Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Green Home - Searching for the perfect property

My Green Home - Searching for the perfect property
What does your perfect home look like?

In January of last year, we began the search for our perfect place. Before actually going out and looking, however, we sat down and talked about what we wanted in a home.


First and foremost, we decided on a budget. We thought about what we'd be willing to spend on a piece of property and the monthly expenses once we moved in. We considered mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, etc. Our goal was to find a home with minimal living expenses.

To Build Or Not
We were open to building a new home, remodeling an existing home, or living in a home "as is". Each idea has its pros and cons. A new home requires materials. So does remodeling a home. And, living "as is" might mean sacrificing energy efficiency. We decided to keep an open mind on this issue.

Solar Orientation
A home which faces the south tends to be more energy-efficient than homes facing any other direction. During the summer months, when the sun is high in the sky, sunlight doesn't stream through windows and thus temperatures are kept down. During the winter, when the warmth of sunlight is desirable, the low sun shines through.

Property with a southern exposure is great for growing vegetable gardens and maintaining fruit trees.

We have lived in large cities for most of our lives. It's been nice but we realized that whenever we had time off, we drove to natural spaces. So we decided to search out a home away from the city. Rather than having neighbors a few feet away, we wanted a little space.

In thinking about location, it was also important to consider things like the distance to a grocery store, doctor's office, work, etc. We work from home, eliminating the commute issue. Grocery stores, banks, doctors, etc. needed to be reasonably close. Since we don't use any of those services often, reasonably (for us) means within a 30 minute drive, something which we would do once or twice a month.

Property Size
Having enough room for a modest home and a generous vegetable garden was our basic requirement.

The property needed to be equipped with water, sewer or septic, electricity, and Internet service. We also learned that not all cell phone providers have towers outside the city (we don't use a "land line").

The Search

Armed with our plan, we began our search.

To begin, we used the Internet to find properties for sale. This was a great resource as it offered us a lot of information and helped us narrow down the choices before getting in a car to go look.

We also made use of public records. We wanted to see if properties had any restrictions attached to them, what the property lines looked like, and whether there were any easements involved.
  • Restrictions are items, written into the deed, which limit the use of a property. For example, some areas restrict the types of trees that can be planted or dictate the color of buildings.
  • Property lines are important because they give owners a clear definition of usable property.
  • Easements also offer information on usable space. For example, looking at public records for one property showed us that the driveway actually curved into the neighbors land. Since this was not designated on the deed, it could mean problems in the future. Conversely, if a portion of land has been used by a neighbor for ages, there is a possibility that they will be allowed to continue using that area, potentially causing problems for your use of that spot.

Public records also offer the age of a home or structure, how many times a property has been sold and when, purchase amounts, etc. This information is useful in many ways. For example, if a property was bought and sold many times in recent years, one might wonder why. The price might indicate that it was a good investment and climbed in value so savvy investors made use of a quick turn around purchase/sale. On the other hand, perhaps there was something wrong with the property ... something which didn't require a legal declaration but something which made living there uncomfortable (crime, nasty neighbors, etc.).

Having an idea of what we wanted, and searching before leaving home, helped us narrow down the list of potential properties before ever seeing them "in person". In total, we visited three properties. We saved time by knowing what we wanted and we saved gas by searching online.

In the next installment of "My Green Home", I'll tell you about the property we finally decided upon.

Until then ... here's a question for you:

If you've purchased property in the past, what things did you do (or wish you had done) to prepare. If you aren't a home owner, do you plan to purchase property in the future?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - What do you see?

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week we used photos to show the world why we live green. Here are a few of my reasons (all taken on our property):

Why I live green (Change The World Wednesday)
I live green to protect wildlife.

Why I live green (Change The World Wednesday)
I live green to protect beautiful spaces.

Why I live green (Change The World Wednesday)
I live green to protect native plants.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Deborah stopped by and shared this: "Change the World Wednesday has meant a lot to me (and to so many others). It really helps us learn, share, think, assess and ultimately improve! I am so delighted that you will continue the tradition on a monthly basis this year.Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I'm sharing!"

Catarina wrote Why I live green? (or try to) where she shares a photo and a terrific video. Please take a moment to view the video ... it's excellent!

Nancy shared an interesting photo ... it's a bit different but speaks volumes. Rather than show something which needs to be protected, she chose a photo of something which needs to be fixed. Check out Photo Challenge That Illustrates Why I Live Green. Once you've looked at her first photo, continue reading and view her list of actions. It's awesome!

Alicia joined us. Here's what she had to say: "I am running behind on my blog post for the week but will have one up hopefully tomorrow. One of the reasons we live green is that while we were living in California we got educated on how awful the products we use everyday are. We know that we absorb the things we put on our bodies so we need to be aware of the ingredients that are in them. Toxic chemicals are in so many of the products that are found on our grocery shelves. So we decided to work at eliminating as much of the harmful chemicals in our home as we could. We thought that it was going to be really hard to replace the chemical laden cleaning products but found that it was extremely easy! Vinegar. lemon juice, and soda are excellent cleaners. Because of our Eco Natural company we have eliminated all of the chemicals that we use on our bodies. I have seen in the past few years that with a lot of other people doing the same thing companies are taking notice and changing bad ingredients to better ingredients in the products they are producing! Another way we are living greener is by producing quite a bit of our own food, I don't eat any meat or dairy but still eat fish on occasion. My husband eats meat a few times a year but thats all so I feel we are helping produce less greenhouse gases.There are so many reasons we chose to live a greener life and these are just a couple of them."

Lois accepted the challenge with these poignant words: "Why do I care? Growing up I was alone a lot, I spent time outdoors in forests, untouched areas or the beaches. I grew to know the sounds of each of the animals and insects and felt comforted by them. I hate watching and hearing about the loss of these living things. I see deer walking through residential neighborhoods because we have taken their habitat. Then I look at my grandchildren and wonder if they will only see these animals in protected habitats or zoos. I want them to experience what I did."

Our Twitter friend, @WorldChangingMe, joined the conversation and shared this:
Take that buying green drinks challenge to the next level! Check out our Creative Director Morag's comments at #CTWW

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@adam_gainer @beatepdx @biggreenpen
@collegegogreen @debsmikdav1 @dehelen
@freshcleanersaz @ginavalley @groovygreenlivi
@herbgir1972 @itsadomelife @kaitlingarder
@kayelleallen @laalicia @ladyjcmuses
@mamapoolecooks @mamasmoney @mdgblogger
@mimibarbour @nolafusion @rainyofthedark
@rckweddings @realityarts @rulesofgreen
@spafloating @sweatergetter @theworld4realz
@treesgroup @wencdj @wimpyvegetarian

My Final Thoughts:

Taking photos is a great visual reminder of why we've chosen the path of green living. It's not always easy to walk gently on the earth. During the tough times, a photo can bolster our resolve to protect the world.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

January's theme is: Why we do it

I believe that we protect what we love.

If we love the earth, we'll protect her.

Here's your challenge ...

This week, go outside and look for something special ... something to appreciate and love. Perhaps it's the way snow melts off a tree or how early flowers are pushing their way through the earth. Maybe it's the feel of crisp air on your face or the way the sun looks in winter. The idea is to look ... really look ... for something positive and wonderful ... something to love ... and protect.

OR ...

If going outside isn't doable, please stand at a window to complete this exercise. Tell us about what you see ... something worth loving and protecting.

Are you up for this task? I know that you are!

Until next time ...


Monday, January 26, 2015

Review - Toxin Toxout

Toxins are everywhere ... in body care products, foods, clothing, new cars, and even water. They float in the air, settle in the earth, and pollute the environment in countless ways. They also harm us!

Did you know that BPA (used in food packaging) has been linked to heart disease? Triclosan, a common ingredient in anti-bacterial products, is causing increased rates of allergies. C8, the stuff in Teflon, is being linked to all kinds of medical problems including cancer, thyroid disease, and high cholesterol. Those are just a few of the over 80,000 synthetic chemicals in commerce today.

As "greenies" we work hard to avoid them, educating ourselves on harmful ingredients and how they enter our bodies, and diligently reading labels. But the large number of chemicals in our world means that they are hard to avoid. And avoiding them doesn't address the problem of chemicals already in our systems.

So how do we get this "stuff" out of our bodies?

My Review

Review of Toxin Toxout, getting harmful chemicals out of our bodies and our world.
I was invited to read Toxin Toxout by authors Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith.

Using self-experimentation and interviews with experts, Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith take a look at how toxins enter our bodies and then go on to investigate detox programs, including the body's own natural detox mechanisms. They discuss the value of herbal remedies, diets, detox kits, and things like the use of saunas to sweat the toxins out.

Their treatment evaluation table was fascinating. While I don't want to give you all the results, I will say that many of the popular therapies available today have no detox effectiveness and are, basically, a waste of money. It turns out that some of the least expensive methods are actually the most effective.

In a chapter entitled "Clean, Green Economic Machine", the authors talk about what to do with contaminated products. For example, we know that Teflon is bad but what do we do with any pans we already have? If they go into a landfill or incinerator, those toxic chemicals enter the soil and/or air. Further, what needs to happen to ensure that harmful chemicals never enter our environment in the first place. It's an interesting look at the difficulties with adopting a fully holistic approach which covers everything from manufacturing to use to disposal of stuff. And by the way, there doesn't seem to be a good way to dispose of those Teflon pans at this time.

My favorite chapter is the last one, entitled "The Toxin Toxout Top 10". Readers are given a simple "to do" list ... easy actions which each of us can adopt to both eliminate and avoid toxins. Is it a perfect list? Of course not. Governments, corporations, and society in general need to shift their thought processes to completely eliminate toxins from our world. Until that happens (and there is evidence that it is happening), there are many things that we can do to avoid the harm caused by chemicals.

My Thoughts

I believe that this is an important book. It isn't a casual read. Indeed, I found it hard to get through at times. The sheer volume of information takes time to absorb. For those who wish to take some time with it, Toxin Toxout offers useful information.

Would I recommend this book? YES! It not only tells us the problem, it gives us practical solutions and hope for the future.

If you'd like to pick up your own copy of Toxin Toxout, you can buy it HERE.

I received a copy of "Toxin Toxout" in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the material reviewed.