For the longest time I have a had a love hate relationship with my car… well mostly hate. Traffic and bills and now gas. Sure I like being able to haul stuff around and go places with ease, but at the same time, I don’t like driving at all and love riding and walking more, even in the worst of weather.

As long as you have proper gear on, riding in the winter, except in extreme icy conditions, is no harder than riding in the midst of summer heat. Believe it or not, but the winter before last I rode my bike up into February and it was really only with the hassle from friends (yeah, I caved to peer pressure) that I started driving. You know the routine, “you look so cold” “It’s freezing out” “you are going to get so sick” “your face is red”. Granted there were some days I felt like my ears were going to fall off, but that was more from my own stupidity of not getting the proper head coverage. As much as I love my hand knit stuff, there is nothing like microfiber head coverings for going under a helmet. So I’m already planning my winter attack, as well as my summer. I found a great site called IceBike, that is all about riding in the winter through the book “How to Live Well Without Owning a Car”.

I’m going to try going car free this summer when I move to Ames and see how I do. It will be a month long trial and in that month I will plan out for winter cold emergencies as well as job routes, social events, and errands. At the end of the month, if I make it without a car, I will sell mine. This has a two fold purpose. One I will instantly get some money to shove into savings for another two months worth of not having to find a job (I have enough for about two months now) and two will lead me to much future financial savings. Plus, Jason will still have his car, so in a pinch he has agreed to let me borrow that for trips out of town. He pretty much doesn’t use his car anyway except in deep winter because he has a motorcycle. At 50 mpg, it’s much more efficient for him to get around town in. He is trying to get me to get a bike to and I have to admit, that 2008 Ninja 250cc looks pretty sexy, but for now, a bicycle is where my heart is.

This leads me to my picture deluge: Bike Trailers! Oh what a fabulous thing that I didn’t even know existed! I mean I did, I just hadn’t given them much thought.

This one is really neat from Wike, but at $500, just not in the budget, but wow wee! how great for trekking around town and to the community garden, not to mention in the home garden because you can get wheels for it and use it as a garden cart!

I’ve given some thought to this type of trailer, but I would really like something that has sides to it.

I saw this one today at my local bike shop and I really think it might be the thing IF I decide to buy one.

While looking around for trailers, I found this guy’s site that shows how he built his own. I’m starting to think that might be the ticket for me!

And then I found this guy, who is in the process of building a bike camper trailer, how sweet!

He’s like a Leonardo De Vinci with bike construction, amazing!

And then looking more on flickr, I came across this group. It’s a collection of pictures of bikes with trailers!

So I think with a little patients, I could build my own. I have a pretty good wood working as well as metal working skills. A basic metal frame, but with wood sides, like a little wagon trailer. I can solder and weld so I think I won’t have any issues.

The other thing I learned about today was the Ragrai ride across iowa, from river to river on each border. I missed the deadline for this year’s sign up, but i’m going to train for next year. It’s a relaxed pace 471 mile ride over the course of 7 days. You camp out every night in tents and ride all day. Sounds great! It would be something to look forward to and work towards. I know I can do 20-30 miles no problem, so I will hopefully be doing 50 by the end of the summer, daily commuting in the winter, and then work up to 100 miles a day. Like going to des moines and back from Ames. I think it would be pretty neat to ride all the way to the qc from ames and just camp out on the way there, make it like a three day ride there and three day ride back.

Better my Life campaign – Laundry!

In other news as part of bettering my life campaign I’m starting to slowly go through the process of replacing all my cleaning supplies with more natural eco friendly solutions, whether is be vinegar and baking soda (the best cleaner of all time) or Ecover, which has become my favorite cleaning product hands down. I’ve tried a few different types over the last year and felt they were replacing chemicals with chemicals derived from citrus (which as it turns out I’m highly allergic too, restricted breathing, hives, the whole nine yards. Just say no to citrus solvents, yuck!). Anyway, Ecover is really great, there bottles are 100% recyclable, even the lid, and their site is so fancy, you can just click on the part of your house you want to clean and it will show you their products for the problem area. So nice. Plus my local coop sells it, so I’m supporting a clean living environment, a environmentally friendly product, and my local businesses. It’s a win win. Also, it smells nice.

I have been trying to plow through all of my laundry today, which has been accumulating for the last, oh, well, since the beginning of the semester…. yikes! I work at a consignment shop and it has been very easy for me to amass a mass of clothes over the last two years. First step was I went through all my clean clothing and got rid of two bags worth, one to Encore (the consignment shop) and one to the Salvation Army. Now as I’m washing all my dirty clothing I’m making a conscious decision of what will go back into my closet. This is what I’ve been asking myself:
Does it fit – this is a big one for me, I’m always buying too big of clothing.
Is it cute or do I just wear it when everything else is dirty?
Is it stained, ripped, ugly?

And then if it does fit, it is cute, and isn’t stained (to studio clothing this doesn’t apply) then it gets to stay. Otherwise, it’s out you go.

I also went though my coat closet today and got rid of about 10 pairs of ratty shoes I was too emotionally attached to. The time is now to get them out of here. I also re went though my bedroom closet and got rid of 6 more shirts.

Let me tell you. It feels reallly good to purge unnecessary things.

So back to Ecover, I finally used up the last of my laundry detergent and comet (for counters, sinks, toilets and the like), so I hoped on over Duck Soup Coop and picked up the Ecover laundry detergent and soft scrub. It set me back a bit, but it’s completely worth it. I am pretty sensitive to chemicals and my ferrets even more so. It makes me feel good that I’m not giving them or myself cancer just by cleaning. Going back to the comment of it smelling nice, I really don’t like the smell of laundry detergent, but Ecover has a wonderfully crisp but mild scent of tea tree and rosemary. Lovely! I’m excited about doing laundry, crazy!

One strategy that I have decided to employ in order to keep my laundry under control is to only have three one load size laundry baskets. Once one is full I’ll pop them into the wash. The thing is that I sort my clothes by three things:

Clothing for the dryer.
Clothing to hang to dry – whites
Clothing to hang to dry – colors

Hopefully this will help me stay on top of it and not let it get out of control again.

So that is that for today!

Have a good time until the next time!