Archive for the 'Green home' Category


Preparing Your Nursery

The arrival of a baby is a blessing for any parent. But, before the baby arrives, one of the things you need to do is prepare the nursery. This is where your baby will spend the first few years of his or her life, so you should do this well. Aside from being a beautiful nursery, it should also be comfortable and practical as you will be spending a lot of time in there caring for your baby, feeding him or her, changing diapers, and putting them to sleep. So, to help you set up your nursery, here are some tips you can do:

The Basics

What’s inside is just as important as the outside, so make sure you check your nursery inside and out. That means you have to ensure the room is clean, gets plenty or light and ventilation, and there are no molds or fungi building up in the corners of the room. If you’re paranoid about lead in paint, you may want to consider stripping down any old paint (especially if it’s more than 10 years old) and putting up new wallpaper or lead-free, baby-safe paint on the walls.


At the very least, you’ll need a good crib. What’s “good”? Well that depends on you and your budget. There are a lot of cribs out there with a lot of bells and whistles, but if you can find one that can “grow” with your baby, than that’s really the most important feature you need so you can keep your crib and not have to replace it every year. Whatever crib you choose, make sure it’s safe for babies, has no small parts he or she can swallow and not being recalled for defects.

Aside from the crib, you may want to get a changing table. As you’ll find out, babies will need their diapers changed a lot during the first year, and having a comfortable place where you can change diapers can be a godsend. You’ll also want a comfortable chair where you can sit if you have to feed or put the baby to sleep.

Other Items

There may be some other items you want to consider adding to your nursery to make it better. You can get shelving to keep your baby’s things organized. You can have a CD player so you can play some music for the baby (and yourself) and a nice area rug to brighten up your room (and keep the temperature warm for your baby.) Though these items aren’t necessary, they can make you and your baby more comfortable.


Plant Decorating Ideas


After moving home decor will be on your mind. Perhaps you’ve read all kinds of decorating tips – from painting and wallpapering your walls to stitching your own pillow covers. But, have you ever thought about decorating with plants? Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you to use plants to decorate your home. However, house plants aren’t just beautiful, but they can be healthy for you too. Studies have shown that people who have house plants are less stressed and less prone to sickness. It’s also been proven that plans can help filter air contaminants and provide better quality air inside the home. So, if you plan to decorate some house plants, here are some tips to help you.

Hanging Plants:

Plants don’t just have to grow from the ground or in pots. Some plants are great as hanging plants, especially those that have long vines or branches. Hanging plants are also good for small apartments that may have limited floor place. You can put hanging plants at the side of your windows to provide great framing, for example. You can hang it almost anywhere – above your sink, in your bathroom etc.

Mini Herb Garden:

What better type of plants to place in your kitchen than herbs and edible plants? Herbs are not only pretty and smell great, they are quite useful as well! You can put a small container garden by your window sill, and have your favorite herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano at arm’s reach while you’re whipping up a delicious meal.

Dish Garden:

If you really don’t have a lot of space, then you place several different types of plants in one container, to add some color and variety to your home. Alternately, you can also purchase or make your own terrariums where you can grow all types of plants.

Not a Green Thumb? Try Cacti:

If you’re the type of person who’s not home or just forgets to water plants, then you can try succulents or cacti. Despite what movies or cartoons may show up, cacti isn’t just one type of plant, but they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can have a corner or tabletop in your home devoted to cacti of all types and colors, and really make it interesting.


Of course, what better way to brighten up your home than with fresh flowers? Unlike cut flowers in vases, potted flowers can bring you beautiful blooms year after year, and can help cheer you and your guests up.

As long as it gets enough air and light, you can use almost any plant to decorate your home. Experiment and try different things to find something that suits your home.


Decorating Your Home with Plants


Congratulations on your exciting moving experience. One simple way to add life and freshness to your interiors is to decorate it with plants. Plants not only add a touch of green but also a glimpse of nature.  In some cases, a beautiful indoor plant can become the room’s primary accent piece.  In others they can be sit discreetly on side tables and pedestals, whatever size they are, adding vibrancy that would not otherwise be achieved by inanimate decor.

If you want to decorate your room with plants, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Do you have the time to take care of your plant?

Plants look best in a room when they look healthy and are well cared for, when the green leaves glow with life and the plant stands proudly lush.  Shriveled and withered plants suggest neglect.  There’s nothing like a dying plant to dampen a room’s atmosphere. When hiring moving companies, remember to ask them for the best boxes to secure your plants.

Is there natural light in the room?

Plants thrive best with natural light, so it is best to place them in a room where there is ample sunlight coming from your window.  In fact, the best place to keep an indoor plant, particularly large and heavy ones, are near windows which are kept open during good weather.

If you place a plant in a room or a place in the room where there is little sunlight, you will need to air and sun your plant often, at least twice daily for some varieties.  Even plants that don’t crave as much sunlight would have to be brought outside once in a while.

And what about indoor temperature and humidity?

You also need to consider room temperature and humidity.  Most plants thrive in humid conditions.  But some plants like cacti prefer dryness.  Make sure that the plant you get will match the heat and humidity in your home.  But, if you would still like to keep exotic plants that require conditions that are very different, consider buying a humidifier (or a dehumidifier) and be prepared to control indoor temperature during winter or summer.

What size of plant should you get?

It’s a cliché but true: plants come in all shapes and sizes.  And when you start looking for a plant for your living room or hallway you will find that there are tens of varieties to choose from.  A good rule of thumb would be, first decide where you intend to place the plant — near a window? On a small side table or a big center table? On a desk?—and that should be your guide to size.

Small plants arranged artfully like miniature gardens in a shallow dish will look good on your coffee table.  A medium-sized ornamental bush with or without blooms would look perfect on a side table or a pedestal.  As mentioned earlier, it’s best to keep big and heavy plants near windows.

You’ll find that decorating with plants is enjoyable, but don’t overdo it! Unless you’re aiming for that ‘tropical jungle’ look, one, two or three in a room is the perfect number.


Decorating Trends for 2012


After you settled in from your moving experience, it’s time to think about the look of your home. If your current home décor looks old, tired and outdated, then now is the time to bring in a fresher look. There are lots of upcoming trends in 2012 you should check out, to help you find ideas for your next home improvement decorating projects.

Green is Always In:
These days, everyone is getting on the environmental bandwagon, so don’t get left behind! Going green not only helps the environment, but in many cases helps your wallet too, such as switching to eco-friendly light bulbs. You can redecorate your home to reflect an environmentally-conscious personality by using materials that are eco-friendly. For flooring, for example, you can use cork, instead of pricey hardwoods. If you want the look of marble, but don’t want the expense of the larger carbon footprint associated with having it shipped from abroad, a material called paperstone is perfect for countertops. It is durable and made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Using unbleached linens can lessen your impact on the environments, and even the simplest linen can make any room look good.

Good as Gold:
Long thought to be gaudy and a feature only used by “nouveaux riche,” gold is making a big splash in 2012. While silver metals have always been associated with class, a few touches of gold can make any room look elegant (just don’t overdo it.) Use it sparingly and only for accents, like gold throw pillow, gold tassels on your  curtains or gold picture frames. Mix it up with some rich colors like purple to make it really pop. Brushed brass is also a good alternative, if you don’t like the too-polished look of gold.

Neon is Back:
Neon shades are making a big comeback, and it’s not just in fashion! Neon colors can really brighten up the room, the key is to not overdo it and stick to one color. These bright shades look best against neutral tones like gray or white, but try mixing it with softer shades. You might be surprised how neon green works with soft shades of blue.

Decorating has its rules, and many designers want to make sure that they keep pieces together according to style. However, this is the year to break the rules, and you’ll find styles and centuries mixing together. For example, an elegant art nouveau chair can look good in a minimalist apartment, provided it be the focal point. Don’t go crazy by mixing too many styles, and make sure the room still looks beautiful.

Men’s Motifs:
It seemed for a long time that decorating was purely a woman’s job and so many designs and prints are geared towards the ladies – just check any sample book or decorating magazine and you’ll see the prevalence of florals and paisleys, silks and satins. However, prints that have been traditionally “male” like pin stripes and houndstooth, as well as fabrics like wool and tweed are moving from the boardroom to the bedroom.

So, now that you know what to look forward to in 2012, start planning your next project today!


How to Choose a Christmas Tree

By Maria Paulia Belgado

Moving during the winter is a unique moving situation. You have the weather to deal with but there is also the holiday season and decorating as well as the unpacking your moving boxes! One item to decorate is a Christmas tree. Before you decorate you will have to choose a special one to bring home.

Choosing a Christmas tree is very exciting, especially for those little ones who are awaiting Santa! Many people have certain ideas for what a good Christmas tree should look like – healthy and lots of branches for those decorations. However, what else should you look for? Check out these tips to help you pick a winner!

Variety really depends on your where you’re located. On the West Coast, you’ll see a lot of Fraser Firs and Monterey Pines, while if you’re sourcing your tree on the East Coast, you’ll have a choice of Cedar Red, Virginia Pine, Sand Pine, Leyland Cypress and Spruce. It’s a good idea to choose a tree with shorter needles, as it will be easier to hang your decorations.

Perhaps more importantly, what you need to consider is size and height. Figure out where you want to place your tree and measure the height and width of the space. Of course, make sure you make space for the base and any toppers. Take a tape measure with you just to make sure. When choosing a place, make sure it’s away from heat sources (like fireplaces or vents) or away from traffic, as too much movement will shake off the needles.

Once you get to the tree farm or wherever you get your Christmas tree, make sure you give your choices a thorough examination.

Make sure its fresh. Are you cutting fresh or choosing from pre-cut trees? If you cut your own, then you can be sure of the freshness. If you’re buying from a lot of pre-cut trees, make sure you check the needles. They should be strong – take a handful and gently tug on the branch. The needles should stay on the branch and not fall off. Try to pull a branch down to the ground to check if the needles stay on the branch. Usually, a couple should fall off, but not too many. Give it a good smell – it should have a fresh fragrance and have a good dark green color.

Consider the decor. You should be able to hang your decorations, so the branches should be strong and have spaces for you to place them in. Take one of two decorations with you when you go tree shopping. You can try them out and see if they look good or if the tree will be able to hold them.

Hopefully, you’ve brought a car or van that can fit your tree (you’ll be surprised at how many people forget the fact that they have to bring it home!). You can ask the tree farm if they deliver as well. Once you get it home, set it up, keep it fresh by keeping it watered and you can enjoy trimming the tree with your family.

Have your area setup. You should have a tree stand with some fresh water ready. It should be steady so it doesn’t tip over. Help young kids if they want to decorate – you don’t want then to hurt themselves on the needles or accidentally knock the tree over. When you’re done, you can enjoy how the tree looks and smells!


Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas for Your Bedroom

By Maria Paulia Belgado

In the last few years, people have been concerned about the state of the environment – from global warming, to deforestation and saving endangered species, it seems every has “green” on their mind. So many things have “gone green,” from business practices, to the moving industry to fashion and even home decorating. Our homes are the best place to start if we want to be environmentally-friendly (as well as teaching our kids to be.) Of course, it’s not just about being chic and in-style, but you may find that keeping toxic materials and chemicals out of your home can do a lot more for your health. With these bedroom decorating tips, you’ll find that it can be easy to be green.

Clear the Air, Save Some Cash.
The quality of air in your bedroom is important; after all, you breathe it in and out for at least 8 hours per day. You can install from filters and air purifiers, but you don’t need to spend that much. One great way to clear the air is to install fans in your bedroom. These will not only save on your power bill, but also ensure that your air keeps flowing and doesn’t get stagnant. Also, get some lighter curtains that can allow the sun to stream in – sunshine is the best bacteria killer and will also prevent molds and mildew from accumulating in dark, damp bedrooms.

Green Your Bed.
The mattress is the most important part of your bedroom – make sure it’s not harming you and the environment. Many conventional mattresses contain toxic chemicals and contains polyurethane foam which is bad for the environment. Instead, choose organic mattresses, usually made of wool, cotton or latex which are all farmed organically. These are durable materials and provide the same comfort as regular mattresses, so there’s no need to sacrifice quality for eco-friendliness.

Don’t Forget Your Bedding.
Next, you can get some organic beddings, as well. Organic cloth made from cotton or bamboo are the best, as these are not treated with formaldehyde to make them soft. Cotton plantations use about a third of the world’s pesticides, so buying organic cotton, made without any chemicals will make a big difference. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a fast-growing, renewable resource. Of course, when you decide to go green and replace your old bedding, make sure you recycle them, whether that means turning them into something useful like pillow covers or rags, or donating them to a shelter.


How to Keep Electricity Costs Down in the Summer

Keep cool this summer without raking up your electricity costs.

By Stephen Davis
Special to

In the summer, electricity bills can increase – especially in warmer areas in the south and west. During such periods of heat electricity consumption needs to be kept low. The key to this is efficiency and to use resources wisely.

One of the first things that you should remember is to keep your shades and blinds closed. This prevents the sun from heating up your home and wasting energy. Incandescent bulbs and other similar light sources also produce heat just like the sun does, so it is better that you keep extra lights off. A dark area generally gives a cool feeling anyway.

Hot air rises, so keep the vents and windows of the lower rooms closed. This will give the rooms upstairs more air and keep them ventilated and cool. Keep the vents and windows of the upper rooms open to the hot air escapes that way.

Also find out the sources of heat in your house. Cloth dryers use a lot of electricity and in addition to that, they also produce a lot of heat. Always install dryers near a window and have an air pipe made or an exhaust fan installed to channel away the hot air. Dryers that are placed in basements should have proper ventilation too or the hot air will escape into your living room through the stair case.

You should take a tour of your house and examine any openings from where cool air might escape. Remember cool air is heavier and will escape from places closed to the floor. This includes the spaces under doors. Some doors have a large space underneath them. This wastes a lot of cool air. Install strips of carpet or rubber at the door edges to act as a barrier to the cold air.

Human bodies also produce heat, especially during active actions like exercises. Do not do workouts indoors. Use your lawn or the local gym. The less activity there is inside the house, the cooler it will stay.

Many people keep on changing the air conditioner thermostat. This isn’t a wise idea as it uses more energy. Keep the air conditioner at one constant temperature. It will always cool better that way and consume less electricity as well. If you have a central air system, keep the fan on “On” instead of “Auto”. This will keep a steady airflow through your house and maintain the temperature beautifully.

Use pleasant weather wisely. Place a box fan in a window early in the morning and open the opposite window. This will circulate the fresh morning air through your house and cool it down.

In many areas, the air conditioner is not really necessary. Learn to live without it unless absolutely necessary. In many cases, the ceiling fan can do a nice job by itself.

Try if it works. Using less air conditioning will bring down electricity costs considerably.

And by the way, since it is the summer; go outside. Visit the beach, lake or riverside. Go to water parks and have picnics with friends. When you leave, make sure everything is turned off.

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What are the Best Herbs for a Small Garden?

Digging The Vegetable Garden

By Dermound Becker
Special to

For many, gardening is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  When considering what plants should go into your garden, herbs are an excellent choice. Not only are they a boon for your culinary skills, but they all come in varying shades of green, have differently shaped leaves and lovely scents, thus making your garden interesting to look at too. It should also not be forgotten that certain herbs can be used for natural remedies and cures. If you need some herbs in cooking, you simply cut off the amount you need and the plant will show no signs damage and its growth will not be hindered.

Parsley. One of the most versatile of all herbs is parsley, which is used in many recipes. It grows in clumps of bright green stems and leaves up to a height of around one foot. Parsley is known to keep away the common house fly which is good enough reason to plant this hardy herb.

Rosemary. Rosemary is a very strong and hardy herb which needs little water and thrives in direct sunshine. It grows in bushes with fronds of thin, elongated leaves and, in spring, has dainty little lilac or purple flowers along the length of its fronds. Rosemary is known as the calming herb and one can simply steep it in boiling water for a few minutes and, when cool, sipped; and this ‘tea’ is also a mild antiseptic.

Chives. Chives make a pretty addition to a small garden. A part of the onion family, it has a mild flavor. Chives are a bright, strong green and they grow vertically in long, thin blades similar to grass, which make a good visual contrast to other bushier herbs.

Basil. Also known as sweet basil, is another popular small garden herb as there are green, red and purple varieties, which add a color contrast to your small garden. The red variety has small pink flowers; and this herb grows low on the ground, thus making it great for a border.

Mint. Finally, mint adds a lovely fresh scent and bright light green leaves to your herb garden. Mint is another herb which keeps away the house fly and its other uses are many. It is used to make a tea by steeping it in boiling water; and may be added to traditional tea and lemonade. Mint can grow quite tall, so it should be planted at the back of your herb garden and it needs to be trimmed occasionally, as it can grow out of control.

These herbs can be planted either in the soil of a small garden, or in individual pots and arranged in an attractive formation. As they are all hardy, they can be dug up with their roots to be transported to another location or, if in pots, wrapped in bubble plastic to protect them when being transported.

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Composting 101: Tips and Tricks

Follow our simple tips when learning how to compost.

By Maria Paulia Belgado
Special to

Whether you own a country cottage that has large gardens or a posh city apartment with a few flowerpots, you should consider composting to benefit both your  garden and the environment. Composting is essential, as it keeps waste products away, and fertilizes the land without any chemicals. It works by degrading plant substances into humus, which is very rich kind of fertilizer. In simple terms, composting means recycling plant products to create something useful.

There are several ways of creating compost. These include heaping up leaves and hay and allowing the pile to decompose. However, if you wish to decompose kitchen waste, try mixing dry and wet scraps in a silo and allow it to be aerated. This will create heat and help with the decomposition. This process can be used by apartment dwellers. However vermin composts are best for people living in flats. In vermin composts, essential bacteria decompose kitchen scraps into smaller particles and create food for the worms. In turn the worms excrete moist, odorless and rich compost.

There are several kinds of worms found for this purpose, but most use the red wigglers. These can be purchased online, or from bait shops and garden centers. After you have bought the worms, cut a newspaper into thin strips and place it at the bottom of a container, and moisten it with some water until it’s damp. Then, place the worms and the mud that came along with those. Cover the container and place it in a cool and dark place, making sure the temperature is not too hot or too cold.

Now is the time to feed those worms. Put in kitchen scraps and cover with mud in one corner. After a few days, add more scraps in another corner. Rotate these corners every time. The first will be ready by the time you reach the last one. Whenever you add wastes, make sure you bury in rotation. Few months later, there will be less paper and lots of crumbly, brown stuff in the container. The compost is ready. Once the compost is ready, you can easily scoop it up and use it. To create a new set of compost, clear all the materials of the container and repeat the entire process again.

If you want to have good quality compost you should also avoid garlic, spicy and salty stuff, which are poisonous for worms. These worms will reproduce while they are decomposing your scraps. In case of overcrowding you can donate those worms to schools, bait houses or to a plant nursery.

All of these methods mentioned above are really low-maintenance and easy for you. The best thing about composting is that it is free, fabulous and extremely useful for your plants. The humus you create from your own wastes and scraps will help your plants stay healthy and thrive well.

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Green Design Ideas on a Budget

Recycling is a great way to start with your budget home designs.

By Maria Paulia Belgado
Special to

When decorating your home, have you thought about the impact your decisions make on the environment? These days ‘going green’ usually means paying a premium, just to save the environment. Organic food, biodegradable packaging, eco-resorts – all these things cost at least 25 percent more than their regular counterparts. However, no one said this was a rule – in fact, doesn’t it seem silly in a way, that to be environmentally friendly has to cost more?

But, you don’t have to spend a lot just to save Mother Earth. In fact, you can still be eco-chic, without breaking the bank, with these green design ideas:

First things first – recycle!
Don’t just throw out everything you own. See if there’s anything at all you already have that can be reused in any way. Maybe all you need to spruce up your living room is some new pillows. You can sew new pillow covers using fabrics you have lying around the house. How about those pretty curtains you’ve never put up or maybe some pretty scarves which have gone out of fashion. Before you go to the store and reach for your wallet, look around the house first.
Also, you don’t have to buy everything 100 percent brand new. Go to thrift shops, the Salvation Army or garage stores and turn someone else’s junk into your treasure. You’ll never know what fun and unique items you’ll find, at cheap prices too!

One of the cheapest ways to really change up a room is with a coat of paint. Choose eco-friendly, non-toxic paint with low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds). These might end up costing a little bit more, but instead of calling an expensive painting company do it yourself! This way, you can save money and you can reduce your carbon footprint since you don’t have to ask someone to come in and drive to your home.

Make your own décor.
Why pay a lot for artwork for your walls, when you can make it yourself? Have your own photos done at your local printshop and frame it, so you can hang it on your empty walls. Or why not assemble some old jars and bottles, fill them will pretty stones or seeds and use that as an accent or centerpiece? Eucalyptus leaves last for a very long time and can be used to decorate your bathroom, as well as give you some natural aromatherapy. Cut some stems and wrap them at the end with some recycle ribbon or string. Hang it upside down your shower curtain rod to bring some real green into your bathroom.

Think small.
There’s no need to replace your entire kitchen or living room and spend a fortune just to be eco-friendly. Replace your light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones. Or why not get some inexpensive heat-inductive cookware – these make sure your food is heated up evenly, and therefore you use up less energy to cook. Instead of using harmful chemicals to clean your countertops, use some good ol’ vinegar and water.

There’s no need to blow your budget, especially in today’s tough economic times, just to go green. By thinking creatively, you can save a lot of money, have an eco-chic home and help save the planet.

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