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Archive for the ‘Pacific Northwest’ Category

Happy 4th!

Cheers to a happy and safe 4th of July!  Time for family, friends, good food, and plenty of fun…and maybe some relaxing squeezed in there somewhere.  So go outside and enjoy the beauty of wherever you are and try to find some fireworks to cap off the day. After missing the downtown fireworks last year I am stoked to take them in tomorrow evening! Here are a few pics I took of the 2008 4th of July fireworks. They aren’t the clearest but show how great our hometown celebration is.  Have a great long weekend!

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With the energy crisis claiming headlines on a regular basis many people fail to realize that another crisis looms just below the surface. Our clean water supply in the United States has been at risk for some time yet little has been done to help it.  Here in North Idaho, our Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie aquifer is being used and abused, unable to maintain demand and its water levels are dropping as a result. It will be a major problem unless something is done, unless people are educated and willing to make a change.  So, with all they hype that energy reducing measures are getting I thought it was about time to throw out some water saving measures.  Evaluate your home, your water usage, and see what you can do to lessen your impact!

Invest in WaterSense Certified Products:

 Be it faucets, shower heads, toilets, or appliances, installing low-flow elements with the WaterSense Certification ensures they meets EPA criteria for efficiency and performance.

  

Retrofit Existing Fixtures:

If buying new plumbing elements is not in the budget, consider retrofitting your current fixtures. The HydroRight dual-flush converter would benefit all homes, saving the average family up to 8,050 gallons of water a year, or approximately $58.

  

Upgrade to a Tankless Water Heater:

By only heating water when you need it, rather than all the time, you can save hundreds of gallons of water, not to mention the energy used to heat them.  Tankless water heaters are two to three times more expensive than a conventional water heater, but thanks to the many tax breaks and rebates available today they are becoming more and more affordable.  Cut your water bill by 20 % to 60 % and watch your cost savings add up.

Install a Recirculation Pump:

Using a thermostatically controlled sensor valve and timer the pump lets the water in the supply line to remain hot so you no longer have to let the water run and run as you wait for the water to warm up.  Prices vary, s0 don’t shy away from the more affordable options as there are many good models for around $200.  When you can save over 7,000 gallons of water a year the investment will be well worth it.

Recycle Your Water:

Graywater (think good water used to wash your hands or your food)  can be used for many things such as flushing toilets or watering the garden. Plumbing a gray water system into your home may sound expensive and complicated but it can a very simple process that won’t break the bank.

Drip Irrigation:

While it is not as much of an issue in urban environments, here in the Pacific Northwest we tend to love our lawns, gardens, flowers, and anything else growing green and colorful around our homes and neighborhoods. However, most households spend half of their total water usage outside.  With this system, as opposed to a hose or sprinkler system, you’re still watering everything– you’re just doing it slowly and exactly where it needs to be done, minimizing not just water evaporation but the runoff, if you use chemicals on your lawn.

Collect and Reuse Rainwater:

Whether it is a rainbarrel at the end of a rain gutter or plumbed modular tanks you can go as big or as small as you want. While we are a little dry here in North Idaho to justify a heafty system, our buddies in Seattle could greatly benefit from one of the larger solutions.

  

 

Landscape with Drought Resistant Plants:

Xeriscaping! Using plants native to your climate zone you can save gallons of water by designing your landscape with the plethora of options. No, it wont look like the desert. There are beautiful grasses, flowers, and trees of many colors and textures that can breathe life into your design. A perk of xeriscaping…little yard maintenance compared to their standard counterparts!

So there you have it.  Water saving tips that we all can do, no matter your budget and no matter your location. Good luck and watch the savings pile up!

Pictures: HGTV Pro.com

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After being post free for the past couple weeks I am back with more to share. Life always gets wonderfully crazy during beautiful summers in North Idaho. With everything from work, side jobs, family visits, cruisin the Car d’Alene Classic Car Show, cheering three friends on during the Coeur d’Alene Ironman, and the fact that after an unusually monsoon-ish June, the sun is out and here to stay. With the holiday weekend coming up I will be sharing some good old-fashioned randomness yet again…and maybe some fun fireworks photographs as well. Stay tuned!

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As an avid reader of Coastal Living I can’t wait to see the October spread of their 2010 Idea House.  Chock full of great beach cottage ideas it will not disappoint!  Located in the beautiful seaside community of Seabrook, Washington, it is part of a larger beach village on the Olympic Peninsula.  And within driving distance of both Seattle and Portland you couldn’t ask for more.  Slated for completion and public tours in July, I am tempted to take the short jaunt west to check it out in person and get a little Pacific Ocean fix to carry me through till I hit the coast again in September.

Automatically, I knew I would love the design of the house because I am a sucker for a gambrel roof, outdoor fireplace and a trellised breezeway…check, check, and check!  However, the siting and configuration is also wonderful and the interior designer, Tim Clarke, breathed some fresh coastal air into the spaces.  He tracked down 100-year-old reclaimed tiles imported from France? Fierce!  I could do with less wood paneling on the walls but overall I give it two thumbs up!  It strikes the balance of quality architecture, attention to design detail, and a strong stylistic presence all without feeling fussy or forced.  It is simply a comfy home that invites you to throw your shoes off and relax…my kinda house!  For more information on the Idea House, click here and fall in love with it all on your own!

Pictures: Coastal Living

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You gotta love pulling out of your driveway, about to start the daily commute to work, only to find your garage door isn’t working.  Fan-stinking-tastic.  Welcome to my morning.  It seems something hit the garage and the track was ripped from the wall, not allowing the door to close properly.  So, as I slinked into work 15 minutes late I was in need of some good laughs.  An email from my dad and I had just what I needed!   Jeff Foxworthy is good people and he hit the nail on the head with his cracks about Idahoans.  I can say with great pride they are all ridiculously true and brought a big smile to my face.  Hope it does the same for you.  Thank you dad, and  thank you Jeff Foxworthy!

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you live in Idaho .

If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you live in Idaho .

If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Idaho .

If “vacation” means going anywhere north of Salt Lake City for the weekend, you live in Idaho .

If you measure distance in hours, you live in Idaho .

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Idaho .

If you have switched from “heat” to “A/C” and back again in the same day, you live in Idaho .

If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both unlocked, you live in Idaho .

If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Idaho .

If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you live in Idaho .

If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph — you’re going 80, and everyone is still passing you, you live in Idaho .

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you live in Idaho .

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Idaho .

If you find 10 degrees “a little chilly” you live in Idaho .

If you actually understand these jokes, and have personally experienced them, you live in Idaho.

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While LEED and the USGBC as a whole continue to take over sustainable building, interior design, and product design conversations I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a group in Seattle is approaching sustainable architecture a little differently.  Don’t get me wrong, I am completely on the sustainability bandwagon.  However, I do not think the movement should revolve around politics or “global warming”.  Living sustainably is just the right thing to do.  Period.  Our ancestors practiced sustainability for hundreds of years and their methods are just as effective today as they were then.  That is why I went from studying to become a LEED Certified Professional to completely abandoning the idea and focusing on more tried and true methods of sustainability…that don’t require bureaucratic red tape, exams, fees, a slew of CEU’s and an organization that has lost focus on its true mission and goals.

So, you can imagine my giddiness at hearing of the Living Building Challenge’s work in Seattle and it’s “thinking-outside-the-box” regulations.  The Living Building Challenge is an international organization whose mission is:

To encourage the creation of Living Buildings, Sites and Communities in countries around the world while inspiring, educating and motivating a global audience about the need for fundamental and transformative change.

Hard to argue with that!  The main guideline to the program is that all energy used in a building must be produced on site and all water must be collected and treated on site.  Sounds like a lofty goal but in Seattle it is a perfect fit…almost.  The requirements of the LBC conflicted with local codes, particularly those related to land use.  However, after talking with the local code authorities a unique pilot program was created that would allow exemptions for projects testing innovative on site water and energy production methods.  While the ordinance only allows exemptions for a handful of buildings it is an incredible start to a much-needed dialog between the outdated code structure and contemporary sustainable methods.  In addition, reviews of the pilot project by city officials will be made to help form future codes.

That’s a win-win if you ask me!  High five to the sustainability peeps in Seattle and across the Pacific Northwest who are blazing their own path and not settling for the government’s regulatory craziness.  I salute you!

For more info click here and here.

Picture: http://greensource.construction.com

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With the sunshine officially here to stay and summer vacations starting it must be farmer’s market season!  Thanks to the lackluster economy, farmer’s markets and community gardens are popping up across the country in staggering numbers.  Unfortunately many people still do not take advantage of them.  They are a great place to meander and support your local farmers and tradesmen.  Here in North Idaho we have the wonderful Kootenai County Farmer’s Market that carries grass-fed organic beef, vegetables, fruit, and herbs, all of which I buy on a regular basis.  Open on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons it never disappoints. 

Be sure check out your local farmer’s market for yourself and see what you have been missing.  If you do not live near a farmers market then consider your own Urban Garden or container garden!

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