July 14, 2010

Easy Ways to Save Gas

Posted in Money, Travel tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:54 am by Liliana

Too many cars!

Too many cars!

I am not an austere person and enjoy the pleasures of life gladly and readily. But I hate to waste.

I am of the philosophy that the more we save for the future generations, the easier and better their lives will be.

And really, it doesn’t take much effort.

With the oil spill in the Gulf preoccupying the world, cars have been on my mind quite a bit this summer.

I know that most of us are not going to stop driving. I know I can’t. I have to drive to work every day – there is no public transportation available on that route. But there are still small steps all of us can take. When added up, they make a difference.

Regardless of the kind of car one owns, there are ways to drive more efficiently.  Over the course of a year, this starts to add up. Not just in money saved on gas, but also in conservation of natural resources and less pollution of our atmosphere.

Try these tips and see what happens:

Control acceleration – When you slowly and steadily accelerate to your desired cruising speed, the vehicle works more efficiently and needs less gas.

Empty the trunk – Many of us carry stuff in our trunks that we don’t actually need. By making our car lighter, we could be saving a lot of energy in a year.

Turn off the air conditioning – The use of air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by up to 10 percent. I know it’s too hot to talk about it these days, but just remember this fact for the future!

Keep your car well maintained – Your car should be serviced at regular intervals. Dirty oil is bad for the air, and it also requires more energy for the engine to work as it should. Sensible maintenance can also save you from larger repair bills in the future.

Slow down
– The faster your car moves the greater the drag it creates in the surrounding air.  A reduction of twenty miles per hour in your regular highway speed can yield measurable savings in a year.

Coast to a stop – When you see a red light or stop sign coming up, coast to the stop instead of hitting the brakes when you get there. By doing so you will save money in both gas and brake replacement and also keep the environment cleaner.

Avoid the Drive-Through – A fast-food or bank drive-through requires you to waste fuel as you wait in line for the pickup. Parking your car and walking offers a better alternative.

Check tire air pressure – Properly inflated tires can reduce fuel consumption by up to 3 percent and allow your car to roll more efficiently. Remember not to inflate your tires too much; excessive air pressure in tires is dangerous and should be avoided.

Drive when you have to – One of the best ways to drive greener is to simply not drive. Combine chores into one trip or walk and ride your bike whenever possible.

It would be very hard to follow each one of these tips all the time. Do the best you can. Every single change in our lifestyle makes a big difference for the future of our children and the world we all live in.

July 8, 2010

Hot Days in July

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Holidays, Home, Weather tagged , , , , , , at 7:04 am by Liliana

Pleasures of hot weather

Pleasures of hot weather

This week has been hot. Very hot.

The temperatures and the humidity in our part of Michigan have been in the high 90’s.

Our cottage near Lake Michigan does not have air-conditioning.

Somehow, in a small house full of people, we persevered. I cannot deny that there weren’t moments when we discussed breaking into our neighbor’s house (he was away on a camping trip) to enjoy the coolness of his whirling machine, but we didn’t actually do it.

And for the most part, we weren’t miserable either. Except for my husband Jeff who cannot stand heat at all, even though he grew up in St. Louis in the steamy humidity of the Mississippi river. Or maybe because of it.

The rest of us handled the heat just fine. We spent part of each morning sitting on the front porch, in the shade of the tall scotch pine, watching birds come to the feeder. Inside the cottage, while eating, napping, reading or playing games, we used ceiling fans and window fans to move the air around. The windows were open for the air to circulate, but the shades were drawn creating a drowsy darkness even at noon.

Branka, Joe and I took long walks on the beach, the breeze strong and refreshing, the water warm. Peter, Nena and Jeff went on bike rides on the shady wooded paths of the nearby trail. All exertion demanding activity was completed by midday.

To keep cool we lunched on salads, fruits and vegetable soups. Then everyone quieted down and people read, or napped or played computer games. I found a shady spot on the hammock in the backyard and dozed happily. Around three in the afternoon, I could hear Jeff starting to practice his violin and smell the powerful aroma of Turkish coffee.

Everyone slowly assembled on the back deck. Now, the front porch was sunny and hot, the back deck shady and inviting.

For dinner, we mostly barbecued. Chicken, fish, hamburgers. We made potato salad with fresh dill and steamed new corn. We made piles of green salad with apples, raspberries and refreshing vinaigrette.

And when it started getting dark, and we walked towards our favorite ice cream store, no one complained about the heat any longer. It seemed like the perfect background for waffle cones and a variety of flavors. Sam and Nicole wanted chocomania, Nena tried dark cherry with vanilla, Joe got strawberry sorbet and I – French silk.

Cool and delicious.