Houseplants You Can’t Kill & Where to Buy Plants

Plants bring life to all living spaces, indoors and out. If you don’t have a green thumb you may have had bad luck with a plant or two. Here are some healthy, hard-to-kill, houseplants that thrive in spite of you:

Sempervivum: This succulent known as Hen & Chicks loves a sunny window, but requires little attention. They need to be watered regularly during the spring and summer, but only once a month the rest of the year.

Dracaena marginata: Commonly known as Dragon Tree, requires watering before the soil dries out completely,however, avoid the pot sitting in excess water. Ideally, this plant thrives in relatively bright light.

Sansevieria: This plant, also known as Mother-in-Law’s tongue is an indestructible houseplant. It enjoys bright light and prefers the soil to dry out before watering.

Ficus: The tree variety is also known as Rubber Plant, and the trailing variety is commonly called Creeping Fig. These plants like humidity and bright light. Water and mist regularly throughout the summer, reduce water during the winter. Ficus appreciate being move outside during the summer, be sure to avoid direct sunlight.

Chamaedorea: Known as Parlor Palm, has been used as an indoor plant successfully for years because of it tolerance of lower light levels and drier air. This palm prefers bright, filtered sunlight, with a northern exposure. Even moisture is ideal, however err on the side of slightly too dry rather than over watering.

Personally, I am a fan of the everlasting Spider Plant.  They are fun and easy to grow in any environment.

Always check with your pediatrician and veterinarian before introducing a new plant into your home as many can be toxic to pets or humans.

If you are looking to shop locally for plants I suggest a visit to River’s Edge Greenhouse at 12 Auburn St. Ext. in Framingham.  You too will appreciate the helpful and knowledgeable staff.

 

 

Before The Storm Hits

You never know when a storm is going to hit and you could find yourself without power. It pays to be prepared for a power outage at all times.

Here is a list of things you should keep accessible for use until you can get your power back up and running:

  • Flashlights and fresh batteries
  • Candles or other illumination, battery operated candles are a great option
  • Battery-powered radio and/or television (for news updates)
  • Battery-powered or wind-up clock
  • A land-line telephone that is corded
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Firewood for heat if you have a fireplace
  • Ice blocks to fill your freezer, a full freezer stays colder longer

Make Your Own Glass Cleaner

Today more and more people are worried about chemicals in their home and ways to save money. Making your own household cleaners  can be a great way to save money and know exactly what you are using in your home.

Here are a few tips on how to make your own glass cleaner:

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons ammonia
1/2 cup alcohol
1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
A few drops blue food coloring
water

1. Combine the ammonia, alcohol, dishwashing liquid, and food coloring, then add enough water to make 1 quart.

If you prefer a nonammoniated cleaner, substitute 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia.

Here is another recipe:

Ingredients:

Water

White Vinegar

1. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water. Use it as you would any other glass cleaner.

 

 

Twenty Quick Tips to Transform Your Home

Does your house need a new look? Do you think changing the look will take too much time or money? Using small changes can often have a big effect.

Here are some low-effort and low-cost ideas that can quickly transform your space:

1. Switch out lampshades and/or finials or change a chandelier

2. Reframe or rearrange artwork

3. Have favorite photos printed on canvas and hang them front and center

4. Swap throws and/or pillows

5. Change a rug or pull it up to expose hardwood or tile floors

6. Take out “high-hat” light in living room for a more ambient atmosphere

7. Give your bookcase a makeover

8. Clear the clutter

9. Switch out bar stools

10. Change drawer knobs and/or cabinet handles

11. Put new towels and/or mats in the bathroom

12. Add a hanging pot holder in the kitchen

13. Sew a fabric band to bottom of shower curtain

14. Change the draperies

15. Add flowers or plants

16. Add accessories like vases, sculptures, candles or photos

17. Lean your artwork rather than hanging it for a way to easily move it later

18. Change slipcovers

19. Use sisal rugs, which are inexpensive and in style

20. Put a decorative plate or bowl in the corners of kitchen counters (where tile meets wall) to increase flow and tie a space together

How to Find Space in Your Closet

Closet space is one thing that you never seem to have enough of. Especially is you live in a smaller or older home.

If your belongings are spilling out everywhere, then you most likely need a closet makeover. Some planning and a few changes will net you some prime storage real estate and help you finally get organized.

Think vertically

Stand in your closet and look up. If you see empty space, you have an opportunity to take advantage of it with hanging racks, pegs or hooks.

Use adjustable shelving

Why use a tall shelf when a shorter one will do just fine? When you have shelves that you can customize, you might be able to salvage enough wall space for a whole new shelf.

Separate the seasons

If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, you may be able to split your wardrobe and store items in another location when you’re not using them.

Declutter and purge

If you don’t have enough room, something may have to go. Just think of it this way, if you haven’t used that bowling ball, pair of mittens or electric blanket in a while, it may be time to share the bounty by donating to Goodwill or your local shelter. Someone will benefit from your generosity, and you can console yourself with the tax write-off.

Go with baskets

Wicker baskets are an inspired storage solution that will corral your small items and organize your larger ones. They’ll streamline your shelves and liberate your floor space, too. If you don’t remember the color of the carpet in your closet and your shelves are prone to occasional accessory avalanches, baskets will save the day.

Organize

You knew this part was inevitable: having to pull everything out, sort it into piles and put stuff into some logical order. Organization will help you maximize a small closet by encouraging you to keep like items together.

Shoe Storage

Over the door, on the floor, on hangers or under the bed, shoe racks can be lifesavers. Properly stored shoes will look better longer and you won’t be wasting time with one shoe in your hand and the other, well, who knows where.

Specialized hangers

When you use creative hanger solutions, like tiered hangers that let you stack clothes conveniently, you can sometimes double or even triple your useful space.

Updating Your Bedroom

Is your bedroom in need of a slight makeover?  Surprisingly enough, many people don’t spend too much time thinking about how their bedroom looks.  How many times have you been on a tour of a friend’s new home, and the tour stops short of their sleeping area?  If you don’t want to fall into the trap of feeling like your bedroom isn’t a “show off” room, then take a few steps to jazz it up a bit.

By paying a little attention to a few areas in your bedroom, you can leave that door open with no shame.

New Bedding – Depending on your sleeping preferences, your bed may well be the biggest piece of furniture in your home.  Coincidentally, your bedding may also be one of the largest decorations in your home.  Do you like your bedding?  Does it match your home and personality well?  If it leaves you wanting, then consider outfitting your bed with a new bedding set.  With this one improvement, the entire mood of your bedroom can change.  If you can manage to find curtains or drapes that complement your bedding, it will tie your bedroom together in a big way.

Floors – Bedrooms may have the least amount of floorspace visible, but that doesn’t mean that they should be neglected.  Consider buying a decorative rug for your room.  Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, consider installing a new carpet or flooring.  The sky is the limit here, and any change made is likely to be an improvement.

Laundry – Piles of unfolded or dirty laundry can be an eyesore. Even a visible laundry hamper is enough to be a distraction.  Consider outfitting your closet door with a hanging laundry basket, or instituting a “no dirty laundry in the bedroom” rule for yourself.

Lighting – If you rely solely on overhead lighting in your bedroom, then consider buying a lamp or two.  Lamps will serve to highlight your furniture, as well as create a more relaxing environment.

Make Your Own Toilet Cleaner

Scrubbing the bathroom is not a fun job. Add smelly, expensive chemicals to the mix and cleaning the commode can be a real drag. You can get your toilet sparkly clean in no time and with regular household items.

Here is a recipe for homemade toilet cleaner:

Ingredients

1 cup borax
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice

1. Combine the borax and vinegar to make a paste.

2. Apply it to the inside of the toilet bowl, let sit for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Scrub the bowl.

What is your favorite natural house cleaner?

What You Need to Know: Lead Paint

Did you know that approximately three-quarters of the housing in the United States built before 1978 contain lead-based paint? That is about 64 million homes.  Lead paint can pose little risk, but it can also cause serious risks when it isn’t properly maintained and managed.

There are approximately 1.7 million children that have blood-lead levels above safe limits. Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and damage other organs. It can also cause abnormal fetal development for pregnant women. Lead comes into bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, soil or paint chips.

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction ACT of 1992 directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure people receive information needed to protect themselves from lead-based paint hazards.

In 2008, EPA issued the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. It requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA. If you are a homeowner performing renovation, repair, or painting work in your own home, EPA’s RRP rule does not cover your project. For information on the RRP click here.

For home buyers federal regulations require that home sellers provide lead disclosures to home buyers who are purchasing a home built before 1978. Buyers have 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense. The regulation does not require any testing or removal of lead-based paint by sellers.

 

Smoke Detector Safety

Smoke detectors save lives. Many people may be lulled into a false sense of security thinking they have smoke detectors in their home. Smoke detectors that are not installed or maintained properly are not safe. Here are a few tips on what you need to know about buying, installing, and maintaining your smoke detectors:

What should I buy?

The National Burn Institute recommends only buying smoke alarms tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). You will also want to make sure the smoke detector has a battery backup. Smoke detectors that don’t work in a power outage are no good. Consider buying a combination smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, they may be more expensive, but well worth the money.

There are two main types of smoke alarms, which are categorized by the type of smoke detection sensor used in the alarm. They are ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization smoke detectors

Ionization detectors respond quickly to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles. They contain a chamber with two plates that generate a small, continuous electric current. When smoke enters the ionization chamber, the smoke particles disrupt the current flow, which triggers the alarm.

Photoelectric smoke detectors

Photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires. They use a light beam and light receptor. When smoke is present between the light and receptor, the photocell sensor triggers the alarm.

Combination smoke detectors

The best smoke alarms can sense both types of fires (flaming and smoldering). For the highest degree of safety and preparedness, there are combination smoke alarms also that combine ionization and photoelectric detectors into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.

Check with your local fire department to see what kind of detector they recommend.

Installation and Maintenance

Smoke detectors should be installed on each floor, outside of every bedroom and sleeping area and near any air vents. Detectors should also be installed high on walls or on ceilings because smoke rises. Avoid installing detectors near windows, doors or where there are openings where smoke can escape.

Check with your local fire department for specific regulations on the placement of detectors.

Smoke detectors have a lifespan of about seven to 10 years, and it’s important to replace old detectors according to the model’s recommendations. Test your alarm’s batteries monthly and remember to replace all batteries at least once a year. Clean and vacuum the grill of your detector to get rid of dust and debris. Other maintenance includes a monthly testing of the alarm and cleaning with a vacuum hose about once every month.

Not Just Your Boring Wall

 Many homeowners paint their homes the same: 1 color per room on the walls. Ever wish you could do something different? Maybe you just don’t know what to do, or are not sure about the ideas that you do have looking good in reality. Well there are a few ways that you can spice up the walls (and ceilings!) of your home without needing to be an interior decorator.Accent Walls Adding an accent wall can give a room a focal point, help with the flow of color from room to room or add a bit of fun. You can either use a bold color on your accent wall or use a deeper tone of the color on the other walls in the room to create a more subtle look. Having an accent wall in the same color as the adjacent room’s furnishings or fabrics allows for a smooth transition. Your accent wall can also be used to showcase an item, such as a built in bookcase, a piece of art work, or an architectural feature.Ceiling Color Not many people think about painting their ceilings but its really a place with a lot of potential. Adding deep warm colors can make a large space feel more cozy, while adding a lighter shade of the wall color can open the space up. You can even add drama to your space with a variety of finishes, glazing and even pattern!Chalkboard Walls Get creative with chalkboard paint on a wall, or section of a wall. It can be used for a child’s room to promote creativity, in the office as a calendar, to do list, or message board, or in the kitchen to make a shopping list or menu for the week. However you choose to use it, it’s a fun new way to use paint with a functional use as well.Wall Finishes Adding a wall finish is simple and requires little to no artistic ability. Using sponges, paper, cheese cloth, or even specialty paints, you can create a textured look to your wall. Go a step further and add some textured wall paper to the bottom half of your wall with a chair rail above, and paint. Instantly you create a unique look to any room.There are a variety of ways to create a new look with a little paint, time and creativity. Spicing up the look of your home can be as easy as a texture on a wall, a splash of color on the ceiling or a fun new way to draw on the walls for the kids. Check out your local home improvement store’s paint section for ideas and how to’s!