Marye Audet


If you have teenagers you will understand my eternal quest to find something that is loud enough and intimidating enough to wake them up in the morning. If you have a Victorian home with a double set of stairs you will understand why, although I am certainly loud and intimidating, I prefer it to be something other than me.

So I was on a quest for some sort of alarm. I was really looking for a clock radio that I could program to the local PBS radio station. I figured that I would call in every morning and request John Phillip Sousa just about the time I needed the family to awaken. It was a good plan, I thought. Being a talented cook, I was even prepared to bribe the people at the station with fresh cinnamon rolls.

Walking through Hobby Lobby on a quest for something unrelated I saw it. The moment was almost like one of the 1970s Windsong commercials. Time slowed as I gazed at the object of my affection, my precious, and I moved toward it as if in a trance. In a split second I was standing in front of the biggest, coolest, most retro windup alarm clock I had ever seen. It even had 1960s style flowers all over the face.

It works, and I don't even have to give it cinnamon rolls.

Sometimes the small steps that we take are more effective and more lasting that the big ones. It is easy to vow to make a major change and then back down after a few weeks because it was more difficult than you thought it was going to be. It is the little habits we have, the small things we do daily without thinking about them, that will make the biggest and most lasting changes. If you want to see how much electricity each of your appliances uses try getting a Kill-a-Watt a device that will measure the exact usage of each item you plug into it.

When electricity was first being used in those amazing Victorian homes people were very careful with this new convenience. Homes did not have five or six lights in each room. What light there was was used sparingly and only at night. As electricity became more common society became accustomed to the ease and added appliance after appliance through the decades until we have come to the place that nearly everything we use requires electricity. It has changed our lives and our electric bills. We power up everything from i-Pods to coffee pots... and we pay for it, and the planet does too.

Use Calories Not Electricity

There are alternatives to electric appliances. When you choose to use non-electric items there are immediate benefits which include:

- You automatically and easily shave a little off of the electric bill.

- Non-electric items are generally less expensive than their electric counterparts. - You burn a few extra calories. - You gain independence. 5 Common Items That Don't Need Electricity - Wind up alarm clocks — Way better than the electric version. The alarms are generally metallic sounding and irritating. Best of all when the power goes out your alarm will still go off. This type of alarm clock does not tend to be expensive and has a nice ticking sound. - Dover Beater, also called a Hand Beater— You can find these at antique shops, thrift shops, and flea markets as well as new. This was the cutting edge kitchen tool for decades. It mixes up cake batters, whips cream, creates mayonnaise, and anything else your hand mixer can do. These things last forever. The one I am using was a gift to my mother in 1936 or so. - Hand Cranked Ice Cream Maker — Truly this is the créme de la créme of ice cream makers. I am not sure why but for some reason hand cranked ice cream has a better texture than its electronically created cousin. - Food Mill —This is similar to a food processor. Depending on the exact model that you get a food mill is more easily controlled to get exactly the results you want. The top of the line food mills will do everything from grinding wheat berries to pureeing peas. - Clothesline — I know, right? Everyone knows this. There is nothing like clothes that have been dried outside. They smell fresh, feel cleaner, and it really doesn't take much longer once you get the "hang? of it. This is a significant savings, too. Keep Your Eyes Open There is so much more available than the items listed. I picked up an old fashioned push carpet sweeper at a thrift shop. It is not great on the areas that get the heaviest traffic but works nicely for the wood floors in the kitchen and dining room, as well as any small clean up that must be done. The reason that we continue to buy electronics is simply that we are in a habit of it. Habits can be broken. When you need to replace an appliance check and see if there is a non-electric version available. If there is consider it carefully. Would it be nearly as easy to use as your electric version? If so, then choose hand operated when you can. By the way? My kids will soon be chatting on FaceBook this way if I have anything to say about it.