Tips To Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly This Fall

house window overgrown with wild grapes with red autumn. Beautiful bright autumn leaves. Natuarlny autumn background.The days are getting shorter, leaves are beginning to fall and summer is officially over. Before settling in for the season, there are many ways we can look around our homes and ensure that everything is ready for the colder months ahead.

Here are some great eco-friendly tips for Fall:

  • Have your furnace inspected and cleaned.
  • Replace air filters
  • Clean your fireplace, to ensure maximum efficiency
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Ensure that all vents, baseboard heaters, and registers are free of obstructions so the air moves freely.
  • Open the blinds during the day to attract warmth. Close them at night to retain the warmth.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. The fan should run clockwise so that is pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls to gently recirculate the warm air.
  • Check windows for air leaks and replace the caulking, if needed.
  • Ensure weather stripping around doors is in good condition and replace, as needed.
  • Don’t overfill your refrigerator as the cool air can circulate more easily with fewer obstacles.
  • Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer
  • Bring out your blankets, sweaters, and socks so you can snuggle up rather than raise your thermostat.
  • Add a blanket to your bedding to keep you warm during the cooler nights.
  • Clean your roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house.
  • Reduce your house temperature one degree at a time to help lower the energy used in heating your home.
  • Insulate your water heater and pipes. Turn the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees.
  • Shorten your shower times and install a low-flow showerhead to lessen water used and the energy to heat the water.

Now that your home is ready for the fall you can cuddle up, relax and enjoy the beauty of the season!

Now that you are sunburned, here is how to ease the pain.

Man with a sunburn

We have all done it; forgot to put sunscreen on, or thought that maybe we won’t be long. We have all burnt ourselves by being in the sun without protection. Here are a few relief suggestions that are natural and will have you on the road to recovery in no time.

If you don’t have an aloe plant already it’s definitely worth investing into one, as nothing soothes better than natural aloe straight from the plant. If you are like me and have cats that think that all plants are a form of food for them, then having a bottle of pure aloe on hand is definitely the way to go. Aloe is great for cooling any hotspots and soothing the skin. It also helps to moisturize the skin and to keep it from drying out. If you apply it often enough you might be lucky and not peel.

Aloe Vera Leaves

Another common side effect when you get burned is inflamed skin. Witch hazel is one of the best natural remedies for any kind of swelling. Dampen a cloth with witch hazel and put it directly on the affected area. If you do not have any witch hazel lying around, cold water will also do the trick while having a fan blowing directly on you.

If you don’t have the two above solutions in your house you could always turn to your fridge. Here are a few things that are a staple in most kitchens that will help with your burn.

  • Cornstarch – Add enough water to make a paste and apply to affected areas
  • Yogurt – Apply yogurt to affected areas and then rinse off in a cool shower
  • Teabags – Place teabags soaked in cold water on your eyelids. This will also help to bring the swelling down
  • Fat-Free Milk – Mix 1 cup of milk with 4 cups of water and add ice cubes. Use a cloth or cotton balls to apply to your skin
  • Freezer Packs – You can always use a freezer pack or bag of frozen peas. Just make sure to wrap the freezer pack in a cloth before applying to your burn

The key here is to keep your skin moisturized by applying non-perfumed moisturizer like Aveeno or something similar. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and veggies to stay hydrated. Often a bad sunburn is followed by heat stroke, so keeping yourself hydrated is very important.

Last but not least, get plenty of rest. Your body needs to recover from the trauma, and being active will not help.

A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

A Good Night’s Sleep May Keep Colds Away

Woman Suffering From Cold Lying In Bed With Tissue

Now that cold season is upon us, it is important to figure out ways that we can help limit our chances of being struck by cold germs. An easy way to decrease your risk of catching a cold or other common infections is to ensure you are getting enough sleep.

Life Science reported the results of a national sleep survey in which researchers analyzed information from more than 22,000 Americans between 2005 and 2012.  The participants answered questions about their sleeping habits, as well as whether they’d had a cold, pneumonia, or an ear infection in the past month.

The participants who slept for 5 hours or less on average weeknights were 28 percent more likely to report having a cold in the past month and 82 percent more likely to report having the flu, pneumonia, or an ear infection compared with those who slept 7 to 8 hours on weeknights.

The study did not find a link between sleeping 9 hours or more and the risk of catching a cold or an infection.

So be sure to catch 7 to 8 hours of zzz’s a night to help increase your chances of fighting off the cold bug this spring.

If those in your home still happen to catch a cold or the flu this season, there are many helpful at-home remedies to help them get through it. Visit our previous blog, Natural Remedies to Fight the Flu and Seasonal Colds, for a great list of natural options!

Enjoy a Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Feast

Celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with fun and delicious dinner and dessert!

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

RU190409.jpg.rendition.largest

Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 12-ounce bottle stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14-16-ounce package smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 8 small sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling. Add sausage and green beans. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender. Transfer to a platter.

3. Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

4. Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter. Sprinkle with sage.

Potato Rolls

potato-rolls-480795_960_720

Total Time: Prep: 25 min. + rising

Bake: 15 min.

Yields: 24 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, shortening, potatoes, egg, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into 36 pieces; shape into balls. Place three balls each into greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm.

Chocolate Stout Shake

p_R158656

Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/8 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
  • 1/4 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/4 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 4 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods.

10 Tips to Keep Your Valentine’s Day Green

Romance is in the air as Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. But rather than planning on grabbing a bouquet of flowers at the check stand of your grocery store, try to keep your romance eco-friendly.

Here are 10 ideas to make your Valentine’s Day green!

  1. Plan a fun outing, like a trip to a new museum, art show, concert, etc.
  2. Cook a special dinner rather than going out. food-vegetables-meal-kitchen
  3. Give a handmade gift like this DIY wine rack.Wine_on_the_Wall
  1. Paint a picture.
  2. Write a poem.writing-923882_960_720
  3. Plan a picnic in the park if the weather is cooperative.Platbos_Reserve_Oak_Tree_Picnic
  1. Frame a favorite photo ot the two of you together.
  2. Skip the bouquet of flowers and give a potted plant that your loved one can enjoy longer and even plant in the garden.9090127853_2dcf4d902f_o
  1. Buy a unique gift from a local artisan or vintage store.Distressed_finish_vintage_dresser
  2. Give your full attention to your loved one(s) by making it a device-free night in with no interruptions.

However you spend Valentine’s, be sure to make it a memorable experience!

Go Green for the Holidays: Eco-friendly Holiday Decorations

Screen shot 2015-12-03 at 10.03.41 AM

It’s time to deck the halls for the holiday season. It’s time for sparkly lights, twinkly candles, and beautiful baubles that transform your home into a cheery, cozy holiday wonderland. This year, I am looking for ways to reduce my environmental footprint. Here are a few fun ways to go green when decorating this season.

LED Lights and Candles

christmas_lights_by_ssandiiee-d4hjoxf

LED lights utilize a lot less electricity than incandescent lights. They are also known to last longer than traditional lights.

LED candles provide beautiful, soft light without the potential fire danger or messy burning of wax candles. They are available in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are even models that flicker to replicate traditional candles.

Christmas Tree Alternatives

Brazilian-christmas-tree

There are many green alternatives to cutting down a tree for your home. Though you can buy an artificial tree that could be reused each year, it is not the greenest option because of the materials used and the manufacturing process to make it. If you are not opposed to a smaller tree, a potted rosemary tree is a good option. Rosemary has a delightful aroma similar to pine, and you can plant the tree after Christmas. You can also make a corrugated cardboard tree or felt tree, or buy a recycled aluminum tree.

DIY Hanukkah Gelt Tree and Garland

250px-Chanukah_gelt

You can easily make your own gelt tree and garland this holiday. I found a really cute DIY gelt tree on the blog “Yesterday on Tuesday.” You can also easily make a beautiful garland for your mantle or banister by attaching layers of gelt to a pretty piece of yarn or gold string.

 Bake Your Own Ornaments

Screen shot 2015-12-02 at 2.12.05 PM

One of my favorite family holiday traditions is baking. I am really excited to try something a little different this year by baking some cookie ornaments. You can easily find cookie ornament recipes online. You make them with a non-edible salt dough and food coloring, or applesauce and cinnamon. My favorite recipe is for non-edible gingerbread cookies that I found on the Allrecipes website. You can decorate them with glitter, too, to make them look like they have colored sugar on them.

Wintry Window Décor

4228337819_9d0966c562_b

Make a pretty vintage collage in your front window with doilies of different sizes and shapes. You can also get the whole family in on the fun and cut out a variety of snowflakes to hang in your window, from your ceiling, or in a garland.

Now take these eco-friendly ideas and have fun and decorate for a greener holiday season!