I am 33 today, which is pretty great. My 30s have treated me very well, and I think 33 is going to be a banner year. After all, this is the year we have a baby!

I thought my birthday might be a good time to add a few things to my life list. Maybe this will be a new birthday tradition!

9 new things that I would like to do sooner or later:

Tour the Pope-Leighey House.
Visit the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
Have dinner at Palena.
Have dinner at Komi.
Pop Popcorn on the Stove Top.
Make Homemade Peanut Butter.
Go to a performance of the Washington National Opera.
Visit all the Presidents’ Homes/Libraries: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, James Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama.
See a show at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Co.


Living Without Air Conditioning

Jami and I bought our 1940 rowhouse back in 2008, and this is our fourth summer in the house. Like many houses built in that time period, our house doesn’t have central air, and we decided our first year to see if we could make it through a hot DC summer without putting in the window units. We did – and were surprised to find that it wasn’t too much of a struggle (and that it saved us tons of money on our electric bill!). Here are some tips on making living without air conditioning work for you:

Know Your Temperatures. I find that to keep our house comfortable (which for me is a high of 82 or 83 during the day, and hopefully 79 or below overnight), I need to have lows in the low 70s overnight. I check the forecast online every few days and keep my eyes on trouble spots (lows predicted in the upper 70s or 80s, multiple days of temperatures in the high 90s or above 100). That way I know not to plan on heat-generating activities those days (laundry – especially if you use the dryer, cooking, vacuuming). I like to feel like I have a plan!

Keep It Dark. Make sure you have blinds in all your windows. Close them tightly before you leave for work each morning and don’t open them again until the sun goes down. This is the single most important thing you can do to keep your house cool without air conditioning.

Open It Up. Once the temperature outside your house drops below the temperature inside your house, open up all your windows. An indoor outdoor thermometer is especially helpful for this. Window fans will also help – we have two like this. You can set one of the fans to in and one to out which will help get the hot air out of your house!

Circulate. Fans in general are going to be your friend – ceiling fans if you have them, or can install them, will be really helpful moving the cool air down. Oscillating fans will also do the trick if you don’t have ceiling fans. Moving air feels cooler than stagnant air and it will make a warm house much more bearable.

Take a Break. Sometimes, especially on the weekend during the heat of the day, it’s best to just leave your hot house behind. We like to head to the pool, the library, a museum, or the movies and soak up a little free air conditioning. By the time you get back, things will have cooled off a little and your house will be much more pleasant.

Keep the Oven Off. Unless it’s a relatively cool summer day, I don’t turn on our oven in summer. I also try to focus on recipes that can be made quickly on the stove top or toaster oven, or cooked out on the grill. Any sort of cooking I do tends to heat the house up by at least a degree, so the less heat I can generate in my house, the better.

Water is Your Friend. Hydration is important of course, especially when it is hot out, but what I am really talking about is showers (or pools or splashing in a garden hose). On a really hot day, I can take 3 cold showers in a day (and 2 is pretty standard – one when I get home from work and one before bed) and it makes all the difference in the world!

Know When to Say Uncle. Last year was a ridiculously hot summer – multiple days in a row of temperatures in the high 90s/low 100s. It would “cool off” overnight to temperatures in the mid to upper 80s. There is no way to keep your house cool with those temperatures, so after two nights of not sleeping because of the heat, we put a window unit in our bedroom. We had it set to 80 and only used it on the hottest days, but it was a real sanity-saver on the days we needed it.

If you are trying to live without air conditioning, good luck! It can be done, it’s great for the environment, and it will save you money. If there are other tips that have worked for you, I’d love to hear them!

Living Without Air Conditioning

June Round-up

June was a low reading month for me. I finished 6 books, all fiction.

Squish #2: Brave New Pond by Jennifer and Matthew Holm. Graphic novel for the elementary school set – covering the age-old themes of friendship and fitting in.

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome. This is the book that is referenced in the title of Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog. When I saw it written up on one of the book blogs I follow (Quirky Girls Read), and Jerome was compared to Bill Bryson, I thought I would have to give it a try. It was amusing, but I don’t think I would have liked it as much without the Willis context – still humorous travel memoirs are definitely a genre I enjoy.

The Secret of the White Rose by Stefanie Pintoff. Pintoff’s third mystery featuring Detective Ziele – just as good as the first two – a series I look forward to reading for some time to come.

What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw by Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie is always a good choice – smart, not too violent, not too long. The perfect author to pick up when you are in a bit of a reading slump and this book did not disappoint.

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman. Finally a new mystery featuring one of my favorite characters – Tess Monaghan. I love Lippman, both her writing and her setting – Baltimore, which I don’t know well enough to quibble with, but I familiar enough with to feel like I get where things are happening. This was a short book – almost more of a novella than a full-fledged novel, but it a satisfying read. I hope Tess makes another appearance soon.

Dinosaurs: Claws and All by Philip Ardagh. A fact-filled graphic novel about one of those favorite elementary school subjects – DINOSAURS! Cute.

June Round-up