Keep your home green while you vacation!

lampSometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.

Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence.  When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.

Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:

  • Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.fridge
  • Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it!  Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence.  They WILL still consume “phantom power” even when not in use!
  • Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24-hours-a-day.
  • Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
  • If you clear out an overload of perishables in your refrigerator make sure it’s not too empty… you actually need some content to make it efficient.  If it’s looking a bit empty, just fill and cover a few large pitchers of water.

That’s all it takes.  A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!

The amazing uses for baking soda!

bking sda boxBaking soda is so underrated!… amazing little powder that it is!

I’ve often touted the extraordinary abilities of distilled white vinegar but have never given baking soda the kudos it deserves… and there are endless possibilities!  It’s biodegradable and earth-friendly and a “must” for your grocery list.

Here is just a (very small) sampling of all the ways you can put it to work:

  • Health and beauty – ease an upset tummy or relieve itchy skin; use as a deodorant, toothpaste, body scrub or skin softener.bking sda
  • Home – odor absorber (we all recognize this one, but also…), it’s a deodorizer, a drain-unclogger, and a pest and insect repellent.
  • Cleaning – remove stains, grease, build-up and smells; polish stainless steel and chrome; boost your laundry detergent; clean and deodorize anything and everything from the top to the bottom of your home.

I could spend a month giving you all of the formulations (a simple online search will give you tons of instructions) but I’m just here to urge you to consider it… buy it, use it, embrace it… that little orange box is a great green friend!

(P.S. if you have a new and unique way to use baking soda… by all means, share it!)

Getting to know what’s in your soil… (do you know?)

This weekend our family started the morning having breakfast on the patio… we enjoyed each other’s company, ate mounds of fresh organic fruit and eggs, and read the newspaper. Seems enjoyable enough… yes?

veg bsktYes! Until I got to an article in the newspaper about urban vegetable gardens and the unknown threat of lead in the soil! Oh for pete’s sake, really?  I had never actually thought about it.

It seems there is an increasing concern for what existed, or still exists, in and around our seemingly healthy organic gardens.  And not just in urban settings, but anywhere.  Do we really know?  Are we all sure of what exists in our soil even if we aren’t adding pesticides and herbicides?

Surprisingly, the problem is not with the lead reaching the produce either.  In fact, according to experts, very little makes its way into the plant and virtually none reaches the produce.  The problem is when we are working and moving the soil, and we cause the lead to go airborne.  It is then that we inhale and essentially ingest the toxin.

Cheery, isn’t it?!?!  No, not at all, but if you do have some concern over your soil, whether it be for a garden or just because you’re curious about what dwells in your yard, there is a rather inexpensive way to find out…school veg grdn3

The University of Massachusetts offers a kit to test the soil for only $9!  If you want to find out, make the small investment and order the kit here.

I’m fairly confident about the soil around our house, but around our daughter’s school where we have our veggie garden, I have no idea.  It may be worth it to find out.

Recalled toys made with lead paints have sadly become common place, however, recalling our entire yard?… that would be another problem entirely!

Simple tip: 3 ways to get the “most” out of your produce!

CSA foodSummertime is the perfect time to enjoy fabulous, fresh produce. Whether you’re raiding your local farmer’s market or buying the usual organics from your grocery store, you want to make sure you get the “most” out of everything you buy.

Sadly, the nutritional content of today’s conventionally-grown produce is believed to be dramatically decreased from 30 years ago (the vitamins, minerals and proteins are dwindling, due in part of the use of synthetic fertilizers that make them grow faster and inhibits the absorption of nutrients!) so this is another little testimonials for “going organic” too.

But whether your produce is conventionally-grown (afterall, the “Clean 15” is often considered) or you go 100% organic, there are a few helpful tips to get the “most” out of your produce:

  • “Fresher is better” – all produce begins to lose nutrients are soon as it’s harvested, so consume it as soon as possible after you buy it. The rule of thumb should be one week maximum (plus, you must consider where your produce “originated”), so plan for what you need and don’t overbuy, even if it will “keep”.fruit
  • “Bigger isn’t better!” – choose smaller pieces of fruits and vegetables instead of the largest ones in the bunch.  Plants have limited amounts of nutrients to pass on, so if the produce is smaller the nutrients are more concentrated.
  • “Keep it together, people!” – while pre-washed, pre-cut, and pre-prepped fruits and veggies may sound appealing (and convenient!), skip them… this causes them to lose nutrients as well.  And don’t do a lot a prep, cleaning, chopping or cutting at home until you actually need to consumer them either… no need to set those nutrients loose!

My kids have always been great eaters when it comes to a variety of fruits and veggies, but whether for us or our kids we all know every bit matters, so use these tips to make the “most” of every precious bite!