Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rags: A Beautiful Thing! (Part 2)

In my last post about rags, I talked about the ways that I use rags around the house in order to reduce our footprint.  This post is largely a repetition of that, but the focus is on my cats. I use rags for them, too.  The bag pictured here is their rag stash.  (I got the bag itself--a handmade bag--in trade with another artist!)  We keep their supply separate from ours for reasons I probably don't need to go into.  I keep them in the utility closet with the other cat supplies, and they are easy to get to when there is any kind of issue.

(All of our rags have come from either worn out clothing and bedding of ours or dish towels that are too worn out to use for human stuff any more.)

An additional step I have taken to separate their rags from the people rags is to use different colors for theirs. Their rags are the black, navy blue, or brightly colored ones. Ours are mostly various shades of white, tan, etc.  There is some crossover in terms of color, but not a lot, and since I'm usually the one using cat rags, I keep them separated when they go into the laundry.  The cat rags are also mostly smaller than the people rags.

As I've mentioned before, the only thing for which I do not use the rags is urine.  Cat urine is sticky and smells very, very strong. It's virtually impossible to get the smell out of most items, so I use paper towels for those messes.  For everything else, including washing the cat boxes, the rags work just fine.  They can be used with any kind of cleaner, and they can be laundered any way we want them to be.  Rags do not have to be pretty, and who cares if the colors run? (They don't generally, anyway.)

In order to keep our stuff from mixing in with the cat stuff in the laundry, I have set up a separate laundry bucket for the cats, and I do a load of "cat laundry" about once a month or so.  Just depends on how many messes there have been.  I also always throw in a cat bed to make the load a little bigger and save a bit on resources.  First, I soak the load in an Earth-safe bleach in hot water.  I then wash in cold with watered down Dr. Bronner's (TM) soap, and I hang everything to dry.  (Most store bought cat beds, I learned early on, fall apart in the dryer, anyway.)

With the cats, I still go through a good number of paper towels, but nothing near what I used to when I used only paper towels. I can generally clean up a gross cat mess with one to two paper towels, which isn't bad, and I find that a roll of paper towels will easily last at least a month.

The point of this and the other post on rags is: If you are looking to save money and reduce how much waste your household produces, first of all, look around your house.  Do you have old T-Shirts, dress shirts, and bedding you're looking to throw away or recycle?  Why not cut them up instead and start a rag bag? Worried about "being able to" use rags with pets?  Don't.  You can absolutely use rags for pets.  Just be sure to keep them separated from household rags.

Being frugal and green really is that simple!

Friday, November 1, 2013


Kale and tomatoes
Well, here we are, mid-Autumn.  In the end, we did have a good tomato harvest.  Of course, they came in so late, we ended up having to harvest the last few before they were ripe.  They are currently decorating the table by the living room window.  We get a couple every few days that are ripe enough to use, so they'll feed us for a couple more weeks, probably.  They are so pretty, sitting there by the window in their various shades of red and green!  Soon, my boyfriend will pull down the plants, and they will go into our mulch heap.  We've collected some seeds from this batch.
In the end, I will say it was not a great growing season for us.  We did have an abundance, but not like last year.  Our beets didn't really make it, and we had hardly any kohlrabi.  (What's left in the garden is seed stock.)  The few beets we got were very small and, in my opinion, rather bitter.  The plants succumbed to a common fungus, whose name I don't recall.  We didn't get any greens from them.
The carrots continue to do really well, however!  They are huge, and they are delicious, so we are collecting seeds from them, as well.  The greens did so well we ended up having to cull!  I did give away a bag of kale to a friend, but that's all the surplus we had.  We ate a good amount of steamed greens and salads over the course of the year. 
A very strange and mixed year, I'd say.
Meanwhile, the inside of the house is also going through changes.  We were advised against selling the house this year, so we are continuing to make small improvements here and there.  Nothing huge is going on right now, because we've had a lot going on in other areas of our lives, and money's a little tight.
The cats are undergoing a dietary change.  I'm keeping them on a grain free diet; however, they are all being transitioned completely to wet food.  I'm embarrassed to say that we've had a string of urinary health issues with them, and I've finally concluded that it's their diet.  All but one of them were eating grain free dry up until a couple of weeks ago.  After consulting with my vet, I'm making the switch.  We'll know for sure if that was the issue and if switching them helped when I follow up with the vet in about a month.  That's been tough for me.  All of my life, I've worked hard to be a good cat "parent", and now this.  All I can do going forward is continue to be the best I can be.  Luckily, everyone seems to be OK.
The erratic weather we've been having in the DC area has really been hitting me hard!  I have fibromyalgia, and the fluctuations in temperature cause me a lot of physical pain.  This, along with our schedule, has really slowed me down.  That frustrates me, but it's my hope that, as we move into winter, the weather will stabilize and be consistent.  The cold isn't my favorite, but my I am hoping that, if the weather at least stays consistent, I might recover a bit. (Plus, honestly, I'm hoping for a good snow!)
Here's wishing you a happy Autumn!