Thursday, May 22, 2008

This ones for us girls...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about all the smart and talented women I know. Women I work with, play with. Friends who have stuck by my through bad decisions and even worse haircuts. Women, who work hard, play hard, balance M-I-L visits, manage school and forty hours of work and still find time to play a game of tennis every evening.

This one's for us girls.

The Fashionista, Elise-
With her impeccable sense of dressing, trend-setting style and perfectly manicured hands, you wouldn't really picture her pulling weeds from the sand. Wrong. She spent all day on May 17th sprucing up Half Moon Bay by digging up non-native plants in the area, so that they don't disturb the natural environment around them.

A true environmentalist hidden behind that perfect pair of jeans.

Who's the greenest of us all? Nilofer -
She's pretty, she's witty and she always knows the best places to eat in San Francisco. She dedicates time to the Google cafeteria to cut paper napkins in half to reduce paper waste. She truly is the greenest of us all.

The licensed environmentalist, Leila
My best friend and one the first people to teach me about the perils of water and energy waste.
She fights rain and shine to test ground and rain water, researches ways to reduce waste in the eco-system and still finds the time to gossip with me every evening.

Who can survive without girlfriends? They truly are the best!

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's getting hot in here..

I'm sitting in my tiny, over priced apartment in San Mateo, California, trying hard to beat the heat. Twinkie, my recently adopted rescue dog is doing everything he can to stay cool - he lay under the coffee table for while, in the kitchen, on my bed and he has finally passed out in a dark corner between the arm chair and wall.

Having grown up in India, I love and look forward to the heat. But at 105 degrees, I'm thinking it is a little more than what my taxes paid for.

As the summer peaks, my plants die and Twinkie discovers new ways to stay cool, here are some simple, cost efficient changes you can make in your home to stay cool without racking up that air conditioning bill.

Chill out
Set the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting. 3 percent to 5 percent more energy is used for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees. If you're old air conditioner is on its way out replace it with ENERGY STAR® labeled energy-efficient model

Replace filters
Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer, increasing energy use. Replace filters monthly for maximum benefit

Push a button to wash your dishes
Surprise! Your dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Wash only full loads in a dishwasher and use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally

Fill up the fridge!
Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn't have to work as hard to stay cool

If there is no shade, make some
Use exterior shading devices or deciduous plants to shade your home and windows from the sun. Installing them on windows facing south and/or west block summer light. Provide shading for your air conditioning condenser, while you are at it

Install a whole house fan
A whole house fan is permanently installed in your attic and draws cool air into your home through the windows while forcing hot air out through your attic vents.

Finally, something I learnt from hot summers in India..

Neembu-paani (literally translates to lemon-water)
Squeeze juice from 1 large lemon into a glass, add 1 tablespoon of salt or sugar, and top it off with chilled water and ice cubes. Very refreshing

Cool cucumber shake
1 cup yogurt, 1 cup water, a pinch of salt or sugar, whichever you prefer, 1/2 chopped cucumber
Shake it all together for a cooling, healthy summer shake. Great for lunch!