Home Tips: Fall Harvest Decor Ideas

When summer fades, many of us are ready to welcome the fall season. Pumpkins, gourds, and other decorative squashed are in abundance this time of year! Why not use them as inspiration for your fall harvest decorating project?

Wheat Wreath with Wooden Beads

A wreath is a lovely way to welcome guests into your home. This wild wonder owes its elegant good looks to the natural materials that embellish its standard straw base. We added wheat stalks laced with wooden beads and sculptural bleached seedpods.

Wheat Centerpiece

Summer flowers may have wilted with the changing of seasons, but wheat stalks – with their delicate, golden form – are long-lasting. Arrange an armful of tall stalks into a vase, cropping the ends and fluffing the tops, and display your glorious autumnal bouquet.

Hanging Basket of Fall Flowers

Assorted pinecones, pods, acorns, and other natural decorations all make for a wilt-proof wall hanging. Treat them with a few coats of golden yellow paint, then hot-glue them to dried twigs gathered from the yard.

Tabletop Baskets

Baskets are good for more than bearing fruit! Make use of them on the dinner table as centerpieces, salt, and pepper cellars, or and added touch to your guest’s place settings. For each place card, cinch a napkin with a waxed cord and tie the ends around the basket’s handle.

Cornucopia

For the piece de resistance of your fall harvest décor, why not consider the universal symbol of bounty? The cornucopia, that is. This raffia cornucopia lined with a bed of dried wheat stalks holds an abundance of golden squashes, apples, and pears. This is a natural Thanksgiving decoration that radiates good fortune!

Home Tips: Earthquake Preparedness Checklist

Earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. An earthquake can happen at any time. Beyond prepping an emergency backpack, make sure you have the below items ready to go in any emergency. The below 10 items could be the difference between being unharmed or serious injury or worse. Check them out!

Sturdy Shoes

A large earthquake causes debris which may include glass. You may need sturdy shoes to exit to safety, or to clean up.

First Aid Kit

It is not unusual to suffer cuts and bruises from debris. Emergency rooms can fill up quickly and may even be damaged in an earthquake. Make sure you have a good first aid kit on hand.

Gas in Your Car

Don’t ever allow your car to be low on gas. After a large earthquake you may not have power. Gas stations ,ay be closed for several days. Your car may be a place where you could seek shelter, charge devices, and possibly use to leave the area.

Water

Water is the most important part of any survival kit. It’s possible that water to your home will be shut off or unsafe to drink after a major earthquake.

Food

A major earthquake will cause everything to be shut down near you. Have food stored. You could lose power, so food that will last without refrigeration is a must. Make sure you have a can opener that does not require electricity.

Flashlight with Fresh Batteries

If a major earthquake You are sure to lose power. There could be no power for several days. Having flashlights with fresh batteries can make the difference between serious injury or worse, and escaping unharmed.

Battery Powered Radio

In an emergency being able to access news and emergency information could prove vital. Make sure you have a battery powered radio. You may not be able to access your car, especially if it’s in a garage.

Cell Phone Cords and Chargers

Being able to communicate with loved ones or call for help can be critical. Phones don’t stay charged long. With no electricity portable fully charged battery pack chargers, and having having charging cords ready if you can access your car is a must.

Cash and Credit Cards

ATM machines may not be working. Credit card processing machines may not work. Make sure you always have emergency cast for essentials, and credit cards with you just in case you need to leave the area.

Medications

Have essential medications in a spot where you can easily get to them. Don’t forget to grab them if you are forced to leave.

Home Tips: Indoor Plant Care

A huge trend during the pandemic is buying houseplants! Some of us already had numerous “plant children” while others are just discovering the beauty that is an indoor plant. Indoor plants can elevate the mood and look of any room in the interior of your home along with naturally purifying the air. Check out our basic tips on how to maintain your new indoor houseplants!

MODERATION

Our most crucial tip before jumping into plant parenthood would be– everything in moderation. All plants require water, light, and food, but the trick to success is to practice moderation! Additionally, let’s think about the native climate for the majority of our houseplants. Your goal is to imitate that environment as closely as possible without going overboard.

SOIL

Contrary to popular belief, there is not a one size fits all soil for plants. Most plants do thrive in an organic soil, while orchids are incredibly picky when it comes to soil. Make sure you do research on the most ideal soil specific to your houseplant breed.

WATERING

Most of the time, people are concerned they aren’t watering enough, when in fact they are watering far too much! Unless noted otherwise, most houseplants would prefer being slightly dry than soaking wet. That means a watering schedule of once or twice a week is suitable for most plants, where you water the plant thoroughly but infrequently. It is best to pour water onto the soil at a slow, deliberate pace, until the water starts escaping from the drainage holes of the container. That’s your signal to stop watering!

LIGHTING

Light is just as important as water. All plants need light to carry out their necessary biological processes. It is a process called– photosynthesis. Although all plants need some light to grow, some plants require a lot less than others. Think again of their native habitat and imagine the dark undergrowth where these plants thrive. They receive heavily filtered light but still keep on kicking.

FERTILIZING

Although plants carry out photosynthesis to process the sugars they need to survive, they also need a more direct form of food to carry out growing processes. Providing fertilizers to your houseplants helps ensure they will remain happy and healthy. The food can be delivered via a granule that breaks down over time, or it can be added more directly via a water soluble fertilizer. Granules generally need to be applied once every few months, while water soluble fertilizers should be applied every two weeks or so. Read the directions on a specific fertilizer to see what is recommended.

TEMPERATURE, AIR FLOW, & ROTATING

Aim to keep the plant in a warm environment with some air circulation, and rotate its face. Almost all houseplants need a minimum temperature of 55ºF to survive. Keep plants away from areas of cold drafts in the winter. The warmer it gets for houseplants, the happier they are! Rotate your plant every few days to keep everything in balance.

 

 

Home Tips: Beating the Heat

As more people continue to work from home, some while caring for loved ones, keeping homes cool and comfortable can sometimes be a challenge– especially if there is more than one person under the roof. Follow these easy ways to help your body, room and home stay cool during this heat wave

Ceiling Fans

Adjust your ceiling fan to turn counter-clockwise during the summer to help circulate the cool air downward. Be sure to turn off your ceiling fan when leaving the room because fans cool people, not rooms.

Block the Sun

Don’t let the sun overheat your home. Tilt your blinds up and close drapes and shades on windows that receive direct sunlight. If you’re outside, make the most out of awnings, trees and shrubs for shade.

DIY Mini Air Conditioner

You’ll need a pan or bowl and fill it with ice in front of a fan. The breeze from your fan will pick up the ice’s surface as it melts and will create a cooling mist for you.

Take a Bath or Shower

Taking a bath or shower can help your body cool down. The warmth of the water sends a rush of blood to your hands and feet, where the veins are right under your skin. This lets off extra heat and cools your bloodstream. Let your hair air-dry to help extend the cooling period of your body and maximize the cool and clean feeling of a shower.

Don’t Use Your Stove

Consider using your microwave or grill to cook and prepare food. It’ll help keep your home cooler and save energy as well. You can also consider ordering take-out from a local restaurant to avoid getting hot in the kitchen!

Home Tips: Environmentally Friendly Cleaning

With a lot of us spending more and more time at home, we are finding ourselves cleaning more and more often. Switching over a few cleaning supplies to environmentally friendly supplies will be cost-effective, easier on all living things within your home, and better for the planet. Check out our tips below!

Natural All-Purpose Scrub

From the kitchen to the bathroom and many places in between, the uses for baking soda are almost endless. One way to get even more mileage out of this universal cleaning agent? Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into a bowl and add just enough liquid soap to make a creamy paste. Spread the mixture on the flat side of 1/2 of a lemon and scrub. The lemon acts as a sponge and leaves a natural citrus scent. Use a damp rag or sponge to wipe away any residue. You’ll find the paste will stay moist for a few hours.

Nontoxic Stain Remover

For nontoxic stain removal, there are many different formulas you can play with to remove stains. From mixing liquid dish soap (1 part) with hydrogen peroxide (3 parts) or liquid dish soap with vodka and lemon juice, as long as you have a chemical reaction, it should pull the stain right out!

Mold Remover

Using chlorine-based bleach to kill mold is kind of a double edge sword as bleach is arguable just as harmful to people and the environment. Soap and water will get rid of most mold or a solution of 2 teaspoons tea tree oil—a natural fungicide—and 2 cups water. But when it comes to mold and mildew, prevention is really your best bet.

DIY Tub and Tile Cleaner

Distilled white vinegar is the MVP of cleaning products that you can use to whiten laundry, deep clean vents, drive out pests, etc. Vinegar works well on soap scum and mineral deposits, but rinse thoroughly, as it can corrode some fixtures and stone (like marble), and etch glaze on tiles. You can also try tea tree oil—2 drops tea tree oil with 1 cup water—in a spray bottle to clean out grout from tiles.

Name-Brand Cleaners

Sometime’s it’s easier to buy than DIY. Newer eco-friendly brands of natural cleaners prove you don’t need high-octane chemicals to render a home spic-and-span. Look for biodegradable formulas and plant-based ingredients that don’t compromise on cleaning power. A few of our favorite brands are Dr. Bronners, Mrs. Meyers, Honest, Blueland, etc!

Home Tips: Easy Tips to Lower Your Electric Bill

Unplug Unused Devices

Did you know that 23% of all household electricity usage can be saved if you eliminate what is referred to as a “vampire load” — A vampire load applies to something that is plugged in while not in use. If you notice the device may be warm, buzz, or exhibit signs of use even when not in use, that is a vampire load. Unplugging devices while not in use will create big savings on energy and money. If you have trouble with that, plugging multiple devices into a power strip and turning off the strip while not in use may be simpler than having to unplug and plugin multiple devices. Even a phone charger uses electricity when not in use!

Change Your Lightbulbs

LED lightbulbs to save energy, yet many people have not switched from traditional bulbs. LED bulbs cost about the same upfront, but last 10-20 times longer. They generate less heat than traditional bulbs which can save as much as 20% of air conditioning costs. LED bulbs are also more efficient and use 5-10% less electricity. All in all, replacing all your bulbs with LEDs can save you up to 10% of your yearly electrical costs.

Smart Thermostats

Using heating or cooling when you don’t need it can cost a significant amount. Do you ever turn down the temperature and forget to turn it back up when you leave the home in the summer, or the opposite in the winter? A smart thermostat is not only programmable to revert back automatically, but it can also be accessed by you remotely if you want to change the temperature from outside the home. If you went on vacation and don’t need to cool or heat your home, but forgot these smart thermostats can be reprogrammed from your phone. A programmable thermostat can save you 10-20% of your AC costs, and a smart thermostat can save you an additional 10-12% according to Nest, a manufacturer of smart thermostats.

Timing Your Energy Use

Did you know that utility companies often charge different rates at different times of the day? Basically, costs are higher during peak times. Your electrical bill should detail rates and times, if not it’s readily available from your utility company. Try to do laundry and other tasks when the costs are lower.

Do Full Loads

When washing clothes or dishes, do full loads. It doesn’t cost any more to run a cycle with a full load of dishes or clothes than a small load. If you wait for a full load you can cut down the number of loads you do. Doing 25% fewer loads will save you 25%! Just waiting for a full load can do that.

Home Tips: Essential Summer Home Maintenance Tips

As we are halfway through summer, now is the time to run an audit on the care for your home. Rain, wind, and other weather may have created some “obvious” fixes that needed immediate attention. However, today we are addressing some common and minor issues to resolve and maintain that can ensure longevity on the wear and tear caused over time on your home. Check them out below!

CLEAN OUT YOUR RAIN GUTTERS / ROOF

There is no telling what has ended up on your roof and inside your rain gutters. Flush those gutters out and check to see if you have any loose tiles or shingles on your roof. Now is the time to check it out to avoid any possible leaks when the rain comes back.

CHANGE THE BATTERIES IN YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS

It is not common knowledge that your smoke detectors should be changed every 6 months. The more you know. To make it easier to remember doing so, put yourself on a twice-a-year schedule to change them out. Perhaps when there is a time change, that can remind you to replace your batteries!

CHANGE ALL OF YOUR FILTERS

The general recommendation is to change out any and all filters in your home and throughout your appliances every 30-60 days. However, if you have a home without pets you can push to 90 days. If you have a home with pets and someone with allergies, you may want to consider every 20-45 days.

CHECK YOUR DECK 

Look over your deck for signs of rotting and hammer in any nails that are poking out to avoid injury. Then, determine if your deck needs any sealing. A good trick is to sprinkle water on your deck. If the water beads up, you are in good shape. If the water soaks in, it may be time to reseal it!

CHECK ON WASHER AND DRYER 

Did you know that every two months you should be draining out the excess fluids in your washing machine and cleaning out the vents in your dryer? This is the most overlooked maintenance that can add YEARS to the life of these appliances. Your clothes will wash in cleaner water, and your clothes will dry faster. A win win!

Home Tips: Brighten Up Your Home Through Florals

Brighten up your summer with these beautiful flowers that will thrive in the summer heat!

Now more than ever we are spending time at home. With vacations on hold, we will be enjoying our homes more than ever. Let’s not let the dry summer heat spoil our enjoyment of our garden and yards, just when we use them the most!  These flowers will add beauty and color to your yard.

Lily of the Nile

Also called blue lily or African lily, Agapanthus praecox is full sun or partial shade flower that thrives in warmer areas, especially in pots. “When it comes to containers and hanging baskets that are showing signs of stress, the best thing you can do is to move them into the shade and check often for dryness,” advises Kate Karam, editorial director at Monrovia. “They may need a deep drink at least once or even twice a day.”

Carnations

A symbol of love and distinction, carnations are known for their bold hues and impressive range of varieties. Certain carnations can grow up to 24 inches, while others range between 9 to 12 inches.

Oriental Lilies

There’s no denying the beauty of Oriental Lilies, which are known for their alluring fragrance and large flowers. They’re also low maintenance, requiring ample sunlight and moist soil.

Yarrow

Leave it to these dainty flowers to add a touch of elegance to your garden. While they can thrive under a bit of shade, they do best with loads of sunlight and well-drained soil.

Foxgloves

If you’re looking for a statement flower to add to your garden, consider foxgloves, which can easily reach up to six feet. They bloom early on in the summer and come in a slew of colors, ranging from pink to white.

Hibiscus

You can find these vibrant, trumpet-shaped blooms in a range of color combinations. Known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, these flowers need tons of water and fertilizer during their blooming phase.

Gladiolus

This popular summer flower needs well-drained soil, a moderate amount of moisture, and an abundance of sunlight to flourish. Keep in mind that wind can harm certain tall varieties.

Rudbeckia

Some Rudbeckia varieties bloom during the summer months. These cheerful flowers are considered to be low maintenance, needing lots of sunlight along with well-drained soil.

Amaranthus

Also known as amaranth, this flower can grow from 18 inches to 6 feet tall in a variety of colors including red, orange, gold, green, and purple. This direct-sow annual does not tolerate wet soil, shade, or transplanting well.

Spider Flowers

Cleome hassleriana grows to be about 3 to 5 feet in rose, pink, purple, and white. It’s easy to grow from seed and self-sows for future summers.

Begonias

When it comes to begonias, you can find more than 1,000 different types in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes. They like soil that’s moist (rather than soaking wet), humidity, and partial shade.

Home Tips: Spring Cleaning

Nobody has to be told about wiping down doorknobs and washing their hands. But while saying it’s time to spring clean may sound redundant in the age of COVID-19, disinfected clutter is still disinfected clutter. And no amount of hand sanitizer will organize your garage or closets for you. So assuming you have some free time or possibly could simply use the distraction, why not tackle what is one of any year’s most intimidating, oft-delayed around-the-home endeavors? Here are a few tips to help you draw up your painstaking plan of action, room by room.

CLEAN FROM THE TOP DOWN

If you want to save time and energy, clean from the top to bottom — meaning dust the ceilings and ceiling fans first, so gravity does the work for you. Then you only need to vacuum your floors once. (One easy way to dust your ceiling fan while avoiding covering yourself with debris: slip an old pillowcase over each blade, then draw it forward to gather the dust inside. Once most of the dirt has been removed, then you can quickly wipe the blades down with a cloth.)

 

BATHROOM

Start cleaning by throwing almost everything out: the toilet brush, the toothbrushes, the shower curtain, even the trash can. Replacing them is both sanitary and inexpensive. Once that’s done, move onto the medicine cabinet to similarly dispose of anything that’s expired: from cosmetics to medications. You may also want to put in a new fan, since they are key to ventilating moisture, therefore protecting against mold and mildew.

KITCHEN

As with the bathroom, toss out everything that has collected over the winter months, such as expired condiments. Then clear out your cabinets to wipe down the shelves. If you have stainless steel appliances, don’t use harsh chemicals or steel wool, which can cause damage. Although you should consult the owner’s manual to see which cleaners to avoid, a simple cloth, warm water and dish detergent should be fine. Then dry them carefully to avoid water spots.

CLOSETS

Your first question should be: when was the last time I wore this and will I wear it again in the foreseeable future? Once you’ve answered that question, donate or dispose of the garments and items that are only gathering dust. From there, it’s all about utilizing available space. That might mean a closet system, whether one that is professionally installed or one that you can install yourself. Or it might be something as relatively simple as switching to velvet, space-saving, non-slip hangers.

THE GARAGE

The same rule that applies to the closet is true of the garage (or anywhere else where you might have skis stored away even though you haven’t hit the slopes in years). Think about what you want to keep and what you are only hanging on to for sentimental value. After that, clean and organize the garage. If square footage is limited, consider vertical wall hanging or ceiling track storage, which secures storage bins onto the ceiling. And remember that some things should never be stored here, including paint or other chemicals that require a constant temperature; leather, which can be damaged by moisture; or food that will lure insects or other pests.

Home Tips: Design Trends in a Post-Pandemic World

If you want to know how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted home design, take a seat. Since panic over possible toilet paper shortages erupted in March, sales of bidet attachments have skyrocketed — increasing more than 300 percent at San Francisco-based Brondell, the Los Angeles Times reported. And home experts foresee built-in bidets becoming an increasingly popular item even after the crisis has passed. What other design trends are likely to emerge in a post-pandemic world? Here are five that homeowners can expect.

Copper 

What’s old is new again. Humans have been harnessing this metal for more than 10,000 years — and since the Victoria era, it has been recognized for its antimicrobial qualities. In other words, it kills germs and viruses. Considering the coronavirus can survive for days on plastic and other surfaces, designers expect copper and its alloys, bronze and brass, to be sought-after for everything from fixtures and doorknobs to pots and cups. 

Autonomous energy and water 

If you can’t live off the grid, why not at least have your own mini-grid? There’s nothing like a global shutdown to remind us all how reliant we are on supply chains that are out of our control. So expect homeowners to protect themselves against future disasters by pursuing their own water and heat sources ­— whether by drilling water wells or turning to geothermal and solar technology, accelerating a societal shift toward alternative power that is also self-sufficient. 

Purification systems

With a renewed focus on cleanliness, some owners will want more protection than a stash of disinfecting wipes in every room. For them, future smart homes will purify the air inside the home as well as filter the air that arrives from outside. And although using ultraviolet radiation as a disinfectant is currently not recommended, at some point the technology will be developed to manufacture UV lamps and lighting that can safely sanitize as well as illuminate. 

No-touch faucets

Along with being constructed from antimicrobial materials, look for new faucets to use touch-free technology. That way, when you are done washing your hands, you won’t have to worry about who else has turned the tap.

Home offices

Although working remotely has been technically possible for years, companies have mostly resisted the idea of having their employees telecommute. Now that the shutdown has forced them to adapt — and demonstrated the ease of using video conference calls, emails, and texting, among other tools — it’s likely remote work will continue to be the new normal for many people even after the pandemic has ended. And that will make having a proper home office — not just the living room sofa and the coffee table — a necessity.