this is my dam halloween costume hoover dam sweatshirt

2010 Edition: Halloween Costumes for the Water-Obsessed

For 2010, we’ve gone DIY! All these water-themed Halloween costumes are homemade. This year, use your skills, creativity and ingenuity to fashion a killer look and unforgetable water statement!

this is my dam halloween costume hoover dam sweatshirtTHIS IS MY DAM COSTUME THIS YEAR: Thirsty in Suburbia exclusive! I made this for myself on Cafepress…perfect thing for recession trick or treating around your local Hooverville. (While I was at it, I made a shop so you can get one, too! Yes, I know, it’s expensive…but who can put a price tag on this level of awesomeness? Check out the mug, too!

pollution mermaid halloween costumeTOUGH YEAR FOR MERMAIDS: This costume won the 2008 Etsy Costume Contest in the Green catagory. Your 2010 interpretation could be even more timely with sad-funny BP references. Find a thrift shop prom dress and get busy! Great way to recycle that old motor oil. Source Link

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DIY Upside-Downy Tomato Planter

You’ve seen it on TV and you want one, right? Here’s how I made a DIY tomato planter (aka “topsy turvy” planter) out of PET trash and recycled objects around my house.

1–This bulk-size container is just the right size and has a nice wide-mouthed opening.

2–I used a hole-saw drill bit to make a opening in the bottom of the container. (even with the hole saw, this wasn’t easy…it was surprising thick!)

3–Next, measure equal thirds around the top opening and drill holes with a regular drill bit to attach a hanger.

4–This step is probably optional, but folks around my ‘burb wouldn’t appreciate trash hanging from my home, so I spray painted it to make it look nicer. (It might be functional too, as I don’t think direct sunlight would be good for the plant’s roots.)
UPDATE: This puzzling picture is not trick photography, just a bad crop job! The container is mounted on a stake in the ground to facilitate the painting. (Thanks, Wayne!)

5–Then, I attached an old chain hanger to the three holes in the rim; you could use wire, sturdy twine, even some old coat hangers if that’s what you have.

I don’t think we need yet another “how to” on how to get the plant in there; let’s just say that getting the plant through that hole reminded me of childbirth! Tip: wrap the foliage in a snug tube of newspaper to help work it through the bottom with a minimum of effort and damage. Or, just buy a smaller plant, which is what I wish I’d done!

The finished product: NOT seen on TV, but available for no easy payments of $0.

Happy Fix a !$@# Leak Week

If you’re looking for a happy-clappy everything-went-perfect DIY inspirational story, better keep looking! (Although in this story, we do live happily ever after in the end.)

For “Fix a Leak Week” I was armed and READY. Before we discovered it, our running toilet leak had caused us to lose about 6 gallons of water an hour, every single hour, around the clock…or, 144 gallons per day, which would be enough to add one Australian to my household.

This seemed the perfect opportunity to install a dual-flush retrofit kit. For $28.00 from we’re poised to be as cool as a hip, pseudo-European hotel! The One2Flush is SIMPLE TO INSTALL, and says so right there on the box.

dual flush toilet kit

It’s 8:30 am and I’ve got all my tools and supplies laid out as neat as a surgeon’s tray. I’m a little worried that the One2Flush box looks like it has previously been opened; there’s only basic instructions on the box, which directs us to an online video for more detailed guidance.

Get real, who the !@#$# can work on a toilet while following video instructions online? Whatever, we’ll wing it. After all, this isn’t my first toilet repair dance.

dual flush toilet kit parts

So let’s get at it—the daughter tells me she’d like to take a shower and I assure her I’ll certainly be finished in an hour or so.

First, I turn off the water supply valve on the wall and begin sponging out the excess water from the tank and the bowl.

Strange…I’m sponging and sponging and sponging but STILL there’s water the in bottom. Hmmm. How can that be, with  the water supply valve turned off?

Aurghhh, I see why when I remove the supply line from the tank, it’s because the supply valve also has an !@#$# leak! I scramble for MORE old towels because the !@#$# water is spreading all over the floor! Suddenly it’s a Fix a Leaks Week celebration extravaganza!

toilet water supply line leak

Tough up, team! This unexpected setback will not defeat us but we will now work much faster. So I loosen and remove the disgusting bolts connecting the tank and bowl and lift it off. Observation: the areas behind, between and underneath this 80s-era toilet tank have never, never, ever been cleaned. I feel a little sick.

I plead for the spouse to bring some hand sanitizer. Next I lay the tank over across the toilet seat and remove the so-called “valve nut” from the bottom of the tank. Or, try to. This thing is ON TIGHT and I don’t happen to have a wrench the size of my fist.

So instead, I employ the DIY-ers secret ace weapon: brute force. I knock it for a bit with a hammer and screwdriver until it loosens and I can remove it. (Note in the photo, !@#$# leak number 2 is dripping away into the tank lid.)

OK! Now I can remove the old hardware in the tank, along with the old flush handle assembly. GAG, what’s all that black slime everywhere? It is the by-product of this disintegrating seal, the evil source of my original leak!

Nasty! Now I have to stop and clean up all that black goo from my hands, clothes, floor and toilet bowl. Aurghh, I am TRASHING my fresh manicure!!!

With the clock ticking and the supply line dripping, all this picture-taking was becoming cumbersome, so here we’ll just skip ahead and to where the praise and accolades rain down. (You can watch the aforementioned video if you’re curious!) Here’s my new dual flush retrofit, installed and ready to go, with only a couple minor hitches getting it in!

All that’s left to do is tighten up the tank bolts, reconnect the water line and triumphantly open the floodgates! Turn that water on, yea! Look at me, baby, I “Fixed a Leak!” Woot Woot!

Water on! I’m proud and mesmerized as I watch the tank fill and can’t wait to try it! Almost full…done! Uh…wait. What’s that? I can hear it: drip….drip….drip. What the !@#$#, THE TANK IS LEAKING!!! FROM AN ENTIRELY NEW PLACE, RIGHT ONTO THE FLOOR! ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ALSO LEAKY SUPPLY LINE!!!

And now I see it. THE CRACK. I CRACKED THE !@#$# TANK! I over-tightened the bolts and it CRACKED THE !@#$# TANK!!!

I shamelessly howl and moan. So now what? Turn the !@#$# water off again. More towels. More profanity. I’m Googling “how to fix a cracked water tank.” And it doesn’t take long to determine that this is a fatal error. It’s nearly impossible to repair a cracked tank, and newer toilet designs mean I have to replace the entire toilet and not just the tank. So the next step…

At my neighborhood big box, the cheapest dual flush is $250 so this got-it-all model for $98 is looking pretty good–5-star flush performance, elongated, comfort height, Water Sense. And hopefully, leak free.

So to summarize: 3 leaks, 7 hours, $138.00, 2 trips to the big box, dozens of profanities, ruined manicure; and in the end, leaks fixed.

So you could say I was ultimately successful, but next year around my house we’ll be celebrating “Call a Plumber Week.”

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…before removal, I did test out the short-lived dual flush…and it did seem to work as advertised, !@#$# crack and all.

The New DIY: Dumps Inspire You

For this D.I.Y. project, don’t trek into Home Depot for your supplies, stay outside the store and look in their dumpster! (the “new” DIY = Dumps Inspire You!)

Katie Jackson ( took photos of this excellent greenhouse constructed from recycled plastic bottles at the Eco Centre near Newcastle on Tyne in the UK.

Do you think this looks like child’s play? It is! Here’s an example built by and for the green-minded students of Bowmore Primary School, Isle of Islay, UK. (Photo by Ewan Macintosh on Flickr)

It wouldn’t surprise us if the Bowmore gang partnered with Scotland’s Sustainable Community Initiatives. They offer an interesting educational program to help schools and community groups build shelters, walls and greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles and tyres (that’s “tires,” Americans.)

Best of all, they have documented their expertise in a book you can purchase on their website. Plastics are Fantastic features full instructions, diagrams and photos on how to construct a your very own plastic bottle greenhouse or shelter wall. Or, try this 6-page pdf freebie from REAP, a North East Scotland sustainable development charity. D.I.Y.? D.I.M.!

Its High Time We Soaked Pot

Dry times. Our regionally-inappropriate potted plants are screaming for moisture and we’re darn tired of constantly dragging around that watering can and hose, splashing, spilling and transpirating all that good water.

From the Chicago Garden blog on, a practical solution for container garden pop bottle drip irrigation. While I’ve seen the idea before, their method offers a few nice refinements and is a perfect use for plastic bottles and that ready water from your rain barrel!

Judge Us By Results, Not Method

There, I Fixed is a blog that features a range of repairs accomplished with on-the-fly amateur engineering. It’s amazing what can be achieved with duct tape, cable ties, wire and other found objects without a single trip to hardware store!  (Noted: the biggest word in the site’s tag cloud appears to be “unsafe!”)

We particularly love this ugly but effective solution for hot water delivery:

Upon further investigation, we learn via neatorama that this DIY water heater was made by Patryk Sielski from Warsaw, Poland. Patryk wrote:

I live in an academic hostel of Warsaw University of Technology. Unfortunately, we don’t have hot water in our rooms, it’s only in kitchen and toilet outside. This inconvenience caused me to think about hot water. Commercial heaters are to expensive to students, it’s also a problem to assemble without temporary cutting off the water. Beside of that, the fuses would be immediately blown.

The cheapest device that have an electric heater is a cordless kettle. Some glue, a bottle and a pipe… voila! The hot water flows.

Also, here’s a guerrilla plumbing solution that will stop that leak without a single cent spent at Home Depot:

And using the very versatile vice-grip pliers, this faucet is back in service in seconds:

Confession: my house is filled with on-the-fly fixes, and here’s one of them: this old outdoor faucet has an annoying drip-drip-drip when the water’s on, soaking directly into the foundation. I took care of it quick with this orange-juice-carton splash guard. This was much easier than disassembling the faucet and attempting to ID and replace the worn part/s. But I’m going to do that very soon. Really.

Ingenious Drain Hack: You’ll Thank Me Someday

Thanks for the tip, Angela & Diane, I just wish I’d known of this trick years ago before losing untold numbers of earrings, coins and other stuff down the drain. I fear, though, that in my house this operation might bring up some nasty and undesirable matter along with the object being retrieved!