Monday, May 31, 2010

Cleaning Au Natural

Green, green, green. Despite what Kermit the Frog said, being green can be easy. Many of us are already living greener lives by cutting back on our power usage, growing our own food, carpooling, etc. Another way to "greenify" your life and home is to use all natural products when cleaning - and you probably already have most of them sitting around your home. Over the next few days, we'll show you a few items that can help you get your home sparkling clean in no time.

Today we'll talk about . . . Lemons!

How to use them -

Countertops: Dip the cut side of a lemon half in baking soda and apply to countertop, wipe with wet sponge and dry. Be sure not to use this on stainless steel or delicate stone, like marble.
Cutting Boards: To remove tough food stains, slice a lemon in half and squeeze onto soiled surface; let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
Dishes: Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to increase the grease-cutting power of your dishwasher detergent.
Faucets: To combat lime scale, rub lemon juice onto taps and let sit overnight; wipe with damp cloth.
Garbage Disposal: Cut a lemon in half and run both pieces through the disposal. It will clean the disposal and leave a nice smell.
Grout Stains: Mix together lemon juice and 1-2 teaspoons cream of tartar to make a paste. Apply with a toothbrush and rinse.
Laundry: Brighten whites by adding 1/2 cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle for a normal sized load.
Plastic Food Storage Containers: To bleach stains from tomato soup and other acidic foods on containers that are dishwasher safe, rub lemon juice on the spots, let dry in a sunny place and wash as usual.

Tomorrow we'll talk about another common household item that you can use to spruce up your casa.

Father's Day Fun

Father's Day is June 20th. How are you going to celebrate the father in your life? Here are a few gift ideas for Dad . . .

- Purchase a digital photo frame and load it with family photos for Dad's work space.

- Treat Dad to a day at the ballpark.

- Purchase tickets for Dad to see his favorite musical act or comedy show.

- For the Dad that enjoys exercise, take him for a running or cycling workout at a nearby trail.

- Stop by Dad's favorite coffeehouse and purchase a gift card so that he can enjoy free morning pit stops. Present the gift card to him in a new traveling mug.

- Pack a picnic lunch with all of his favorites and head to the park.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Going Green: Tips to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

Living in an eco-friendly, energy efficient home is not only good for the environment, but also for our pocketbook. "Green" homes can save us money in the long-run, as well as saving natural resources for our planet. While the best way to have a green home is to buy one that was built that way, there are lots of things you can do to make your existing home more eco-friendly – and save you some green at the same time!

What constitutes a green home? In general, it’s a home that uses less energy, less natural resources and fewer toxic chemicals. It may have been constructed with environmentally sensitive and sustainable building materials, include eco-friendly furnishings, promote healthy indoor-air quality, and feature water and energy efficiency. So if you want to "regreen" your existing home, where do you begin? Here are some things you can do right now:

- Start with an "energy audit." Homeowners should start with an energy audit done by their local utility company or some independent energy consultants. You can also visit Home Energy Saver, a web-based energy audit site, at Audits can help pinpoint problem areas and measure energy savings after you improve your home’s efficiency.
- Become a draft dodger. One of the easiest ways to save money around the house is to seal off drafts. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this alone can reduce energy usage 5-30 percent. Keep doors and windows airtight by weather-stripping or caulking the cracks. And don’t forget to insulate the attic, basement and crawl space. About 20 percent of energy costs come from heat loss in those areas.
- Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat costs less than $50, is easy to install, and will pay for itself in one year through energy savings. By maintaining more constant heating and cooling levels, and automatically turning down the heat at night, the average family will save $150 a year, according to the EPA.
- Paint a masterpiece with healthier paints. Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries and even after the paints are completely dry. Opt instead for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today.
- Install low-flow showerheads and toilets. Older toilets waste large amounts of water. This is like flushing money down the drain, no pun intended! More than 30 percent of indoor residential water comes from toilets. New, low-flow models now use less than a gallon of water per flush vs. five gallons on older models. You can also save water and money, and still have ample water pressure, with a low-flow showerhead, which can slash bathing-water consumption 50 to 70 percent.
- Let there be (energy-efficient) light. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.
- Buy Energy Star Appliances. When buying appliances – anything from dishwashers to refrigerators to ovens – look for the blue-and-white Energy Star label. It assures you that the appliance is at least 10 to 50 percent more efficient than standard models, depending on the type of product. That means lower energy bills and less pollution. A home fully equipped with Energy Star products will use about 30 percent less energy than a typical house, saving $600 a year. Go to to see qualified products and learn more.
- Don’t forget your yard. You may be surprised, but planting trees can make a difference in our energy usage. Evergreen trees on the north and west sides of your house can block winter winds, and leafy trees on the south and west side provide shade from the summer sun. And while we’re on the outside of the house, remember to use light paint for your home’s exterior. Lighter colors reflect heat better than darker ones.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Winner Announcement!

We are pleased to announce that Sarah, over at "No, don't and stop!" has just won a 16 x 20 Canvas of her favorite print. Congrats, Sarah!!

A big thanks to for this fantastic giveaway!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dining Room Reveal

We are finally ready to reveal our finished dining room.

Take a look at what the room looked like when we first moved in.


And now . . .

We love our new chandelier. In this picture you can catch a glimpse of the project that I mentioned a few days ago.

Here's the centerpiece project that I blogged about a while back.

Notice the striped wall? The stripes are actually the same color, just in different sheens.

The frames are holding scrapbook paper until we fill them with black and white photos.

We LOVE our finished room! We've already moved on to our next project. I'm hopeful that we will have a backyard reveal for you very, very soon!