I said a few weeks ago that Shane and I had considered getting a humidifier, but decided not to because we'd have to buy one and it would increase our electric bills. However, when we went to Soldotna for Thanksgiving, Shane's parents had one that they wanted to get rid of so they asked us. It's huge, and old, and I'm certain our electric bill will go up, but we took it. And boy does it make a huge difference! Just in the week or so since we've had it working we've both noticed major changes. My hands don't get as dry, which means they're not cracking and I'm not slathering them with lotion all the time. We're not drinking the gallons of water we usually need to take in during the winter months. The cat isn't a bundle of electrically charged hair, so he enjoys being petted. The dog usually gets horribly dry, flaky, itchy skin in the winter but not this year. Finally, my bread rises better! I had always noticed that during the winter bread doesn't rise as well and speculated that it could be due to the humidity levels. Now I know, I was right. I made an oatmeal sandwich bread (half wheat flour, and instead of being chunky the oatmeal seems to dissolve into the bread leaving its flavor) the other day, and normally over the winter I wouldn't expect it to rise all that well. This time, both loaves turned out perfectly. Shane and I have enjoyed several sandwiches over the last few days (which is, oddly enough, a treat for me since I love sandwiches but we don't eat enough to justify keeping the ingredients on hand at all times) and it's such a pleasure to know that I made these perfect slices of bread. Yum! (Am I making you hungry? Because it's working on me.)
Speaking of bread, I decided that I also wanted to get rid of our bread maker. I tried it a couple of times and the loaves never quite turned out right. Plus, I just enjoy making bread. It's not a chore, so why would I want to have something else do it for me? So when our friend came over to get the glass jars and water pot, I gave her the bread maker too. Hopefully she'll enjoy it. If not, since she's a like-minded person, I'm sure she'll pass it along rather than throwing it away. :)
Since I'm focusing on reducing waste, I figured I should mention TerraCycle. This is a company that specializes in taking in waste that's either difficult or impossible to recycle at the municipal level. They then turn these items into other things, generally by upcycling. Pretty neat, huh? I'm trying to figure out which "brigades" I want to join. I'm thinking that at the very least the personal care and beauty products one would be nice. We don't go through that many bottles anymore because we've been focusing on using less (a little less shampoo, a little less handsoap, etc.--do we really need a full pump of soap or a giant glob of shampoo?), but I could collect the bottles and send them in about once a year. Even better, I could get a bunch of people to join me and we could send in our stuff together. The only thing I don't like about this company is the blatant advertising. If they're trying to get rid of waste, why are they advertising for blatantly un-green companies like Frito-Lay and Garnier? Those companies now don't have any incentive to reduce their wasteful packaging. I'll send TerraCycle my stuff, but I still feel it's a little ridiculous.