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A Few Tips To Beat The Heat

BLOG-HEATIt has officially been summer for a week now, and so far it looks like it may be a hot one. When it comes to keeping cool during the hot summer months, there are many ways to try to beat the heat. Obviously, going for a swim in a nice cool pool is probably one of the best ways to keep cool, and of course many people pump up their air conditioning. Maybe you don’t have access to a pool, or perhaps you don’t want to run up your energy bill by having the air conditioner running all day; what are some other ways to keep cool? In this article from Four Green Steps, you are given several tips on how to beat the heat, without having to waste energy.

Green Ways to Beat the Heat

It’s summertime and it’s HOT! While trying to beat the heat, consider different options that are more green and eco-friendly than blasting the air conditioner. There are many ways you can cool yourself and your home that avoid air conditioning and will save you money. The ideal alternative is, of course, a good old fashioned fan. Using a fan plus all the other points outlined in this article will help you stay cool and beat the summer heat. They may all seem small or insignificant but using some or all can help you significantly cool off in the summer while being eco-friendly.


Get a fan


Ideally, if you do not have a ceiling fan, try to have one installed because they are great for circulating air. In the summer, make sure that the fan is circulating counterclockwise (and in the winter, clockwise). The fan does not need to be on when you are not in the room, so you can also install a motion detector (just be careful about pets always moving about when you are not there).


Fans can be your best friend during the hot summer heat waves. While you are in the room, turn on your fan and enjoy the breeze. They are cheap to run and cool you off. Even if you must use an air conditioner, a fan can help circulate the cold air.


Open the windows at night and have a fan by them to bring in the cool night air (make sure you have at least 2 windows open so a breeze can travel through your home). During the day, close your windows and let the fans circulate the cool air. If you have fans going at least 1 mile per hour, you can feel at least 4 degrees cooler.


You can also place a bowl of ice water in front of the fan to help circulate some colder air without running an air conditioner. Or soak some fabric in water and hang it in front of the fan or window as well.


Block out the sun with curtains


The suns rays really heat up your house during the day time. So when you close your windows during the day, make sure you also close your blinds or curtains. If you don’t have any, try to get some in a light shade made of natural or organic materials, like cotton, that are fairly opaque to the summer sun.


Wear lightweight and loose fabrics



Your clothing choice has a huge effect on how hot or cool you feel. Lighter shades and natural fabrics will help you feel a lot cooler, such as organic cottons or bamboo. Keep your clothes fitting loose so your body is able to breathe and lose heat under the fabric. Also make sure your linen is also of natural fabrics so moisture is wicked away from you while you are sleeping.


Reduce the amount of added artificial heat in your home



Avoid using your oven in the summer. It adds a ton of unnecessary heat to your home. Try using the microwave or a toaster oven. This not only saves the amount of heat being released, but also uses less energy and you save money.


Do not run your dryer in the summer either. Get a clothes line and hang dry everything. The suns rays are super warm and do a better job at drying your clothes. Allowing your clothes to hang dry will also help them last longer, as they are not being beaten up in the dryer.


Let your hair air dry as well. Your hair will be less damaged from the heat and your head will feel so much cooler without all that added heat. You can even go one step further and cut your hair shorter.


If you haven’t switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) already, it’s time to do so. CFLs use less energy and produce less heat than incandescent light bulbs.


Eat spicy food


Spicy food will help you sweat and once the sweat starts to dry, you will feel cool. Some of the spiciest foods come from some of the warmest climates, so perhaps they know something we don’t. Sweating is your body’s natural defense to being warm, so help your body out.



Become a raw foodist



You will cut back on a lot of energy used, and therefore heat, when you start eating more meals raw. Eating raw will mean you no longer use your oven, microwave, toaster oven, stovetop or anything else that heats and cooks your food beyond 115˚F. Eating raw will also help your body stay cool because you are not eating hot food that will warm you from the inside. Click here for a video on how to switch to a raw food diet. You do not need to go all out (it’d be great if you did!) but try to add as much raw food to your diet as you can in the summer.


Drink a lot of water



As your body is sweating a lot, you need to replenish the lost water. When it’s hot out, it is very important to make sure you stay hydrated. As you sweat, you also lose a lot of salt, so make sure you also replenish your salt levels. Staying hydrated and replenishing salt will help keep your body at a good temperature.


Take a cold shower



Cold showers help save energy, have many health benefits and also save water. They save water because you do not need to wait for the water to become hot, and you won’t want to stay in the shower quite as long. Some health benefits are that it increases blood circulation, strengthens the nervous system and closes pores. For more information on the benefits of cold showers, check out this article.


Turn the air conditioner off or at least up



If you must turn on the energy consuming air conditioner, make sure you keep the temperature at a reasonable level, like above 26˚C or 78˚F. At night, try to open windows rather than keep the air conditioner running. Also, when you are not home, turn the air conditioner off, or keep it at fairly high temperatures, and turn it back on when you get back, it will cool things off fairly quickly.


Making Cleaning Fun For Kids

BLOG-KIDSMaintaining a clean home can be tough sometimes, especially if you’re the only one cleaning. Think about how much easier it would be to keep your home clean if your kids were into cleaning themselves. Luckily, there are a few tricks to get your kids to help out with some household chores. Here are a few tips on how to make cleaning time a family affair.

1. “Make it a Game”- Instead of treating cleaning like a chore, turn it into a game for your kids. When it’s time to get laundry together, have the laundry basket be a “basketball hoop” and see how many clothes they can shoot in.

2. “Make it a Competition”- Most kids are competitive, especially with siblings. Create a friendly competitive game where each kid is given a cleaning task (or split the family into teams), have a scoreboard of who completes their task the quickest or has the cleanest result and have little prizes for the winner.

3. “Musical Chores”- Give everyone a task and put on music. When the music stops, everyone switches tasks.

4. “Have a Treasure Hunt”- Hide little pieces of “treasure” in areas that need to be cleaned. As your kids clean up, they can try to find the “hidden treasure”.

These are just a few examples of how cleaning time can be a time to get things done, while having fun with your family.


Keep Your Home Bug Free This Summer

BLOG-BUGSThis time of year, many people like to have their windows and doors open to let some of that fresh summer air and sunlight in. Unfortunately, when windows and doors are left open they also allow something else in…..bugs. In this article from TLC, there are some tips on how to keep the little buggers out by installing or fixing screens and cracks in the wall. There are also tips on how to naturally repel bugs, using plants and other remedies.

How to Keep Your Home Bug-free in the Summer

Imagine you find a comfortable, spacious home with great food and lots of it — all of it free for the taking. You’d jump at the chance to move in, right?

That’s what an ant (or stinkbug or cricket) does when it finds your home. And while it’s hard to begrudge a bug this slice of heaven during its short time on Earth, you’re not about to hand over the house keys. Insects can bring germs into your house, and miniature trails of ants by your kitchen door is not exactly the best way to welcome guests. They tend to pop up in ways that make guests and small children squeamish.

As they say in sports, the best offense is a good defense. You can stop invasions before they start by putting up barriers and monitoring traffic around your home. Any opening that admits light and air is a possible portal for bugs. Here are some quick tips for keeping small spaces closed:

  • Caulk around window frames, plumbing pipes, dryer vents and air conditioning units
  • Repair gaps in siding and cracks in mortar
  • Install door sweeps at thresholds
  • Use fine mesh screens in windows

Bug Repellent

Natural bug repellents are useful inside and outside the home. Pungent-smelling plants like mint and rosemary ward off insects and double as cooking herbs. Lemongrass and geraniums contain Citronella oil, which bugs hate.

Fighting insects with their natural enemies, a concept know as integrated pest management, limits their population. Many common songbirds love to eat insects. Encourage sparrows, cardinals and chickadees to flock to your home with suet cakes — special varieties won’t melt in warm weather. Encourage them to stay by building them a birdhouse. Welcome (within reason) spiders, bats and geckos. One gecko has the same bug-killing potential as an application of insecticide.

If you don’t mind getting rid of the critters yourself, sprinkle a mixture of equal parts borax and sugar where ants gather. The stuff will kill them, but not before they share it with the rest of the colony. A type of soil called diatomaceous earth, sold in gardening shops, contains slivers of tiny shells that actually cut bugs. A solution of liquid dishwashing detergent and water is fatal to box elders and Japanese beetles. Don’t spray plants, though, because detergent will damage them, too.

Eco-Friendly Paint Vs. Conventional Paint

When it comes to fixing up a new home, or giving your current home a makeover, one of the biggest jobs is painting. There are a few things to consider when choosing a paint for each room. The color, (obviously) is usually the main concern, followed by maybe the durability of the paint. What about the impact the paint has on the environment? In this article from National Geographic, conventional paint and Eco-friendly paints are compared.

Difference Between Eco Friendly & Normal Paint

Although paint is available in a rainbow of colors, not all paints are green. As a rule, it’s easy to spot the difference between an eco-friendly paint and a conventional paint: just pop open the lid and take a whiff. The familiar fresh paint odor of a conventional paint consists of a variety of greenhouse gases and other environmentally harmful chemicals that are released to the atmosphere as the paint is applied. In contrast, eco-friendly paints emit little or no environmentally unsafe materials into the air.A quality eco-friendly paint emits little or no odor.

Conventional Paint and VOCs

When you open a can of conventional paint what you’ll see is a creamy blend of plasticizers, adhesives, hardeners, pigments, biocides, drying accelerators, solvents and more. The solvents used in conventional paints are Volatile Organic Compounds. VOCs help hold the ingredients in a blended state while the paint is liquid, but they escape to the air when the paint is applied. Outdoors, VOCs combine with other airborne pollutants to create smog. Indoors, VOCs and plasticizers contribute to unhealthy indoor air, and extended exposure to these hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) can lead to respiratory and metabolic illness, headaches and a host of other disorders. Conventional paints may

continue emitting trace portions of VOCs, biocides and plasticizers for more than a year after application

Low-VOC Paints

EPA regulations allow interior water-based house paints, for instance, to contain up to 250 grams of VOCs per liter of paint. Many communities have set the bar lower; in San Francisco, flat wall paint is limited to 50 grams per liter (g/L). Some paint brands feature house paints with 50 g/L VOCs, and paints that are free of VOCs altogether are now common as well. Paint companies often tout these products as an environmentally friendly option, but the eco-reality is a bit more complicated. These products may still contain HAPs, and adding colorants to some low-VOC paints can kick the VOC measurement up as high as 190 g/L

Certified Green Paint

While paints with reduced levels of VOCs are more eco-friendly than conventional paints, some house paints have an even lower environmental impact. Homeowners can select premium-grade zero-VOC paints that also use VOC-free colorants, are free of vinyl and other plasticizers and include no toxic biocides. Independent organizations such as Green Seal, Greenguard and Ecolabel test paints to ensure that they have met the highest standards of eco-friendly performance. You can recognize these paints by the environmental

certification seal on their label

Natural Paint

Casein paints are made primarily from milk proteins, lime, and non-toxic pigments. This may be the most eco-friendly paint available, but it’s not without some practical drawbacks: the paint is not nearly as durable as modern coatings and color choices are limited. Casein paints are usually supplied in powder form and should be mixed with water immediately before application. These paints were commonly used in 18th and 19th century American homes in locations such as colonial Williamsburg


Clean The House And Get In Shape

BLOG-EXERCISERecently, I began a new diet and exercise program, which has been about as much fun as I had anticipated…..not fun at all. Luckily, it seems to be working so I guess I shouldn’t complain. My mother also told me that she would like to lose a few pounds (not sure why, she’s tiny), and I know she wants to get some house cleaning done as well. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find time to clean and exercise. Which got me thinking, “What cleaning chores would give you the best workout?”. I decided to do a little research and came across this article from eHow. Now you can kill two birds with one stone, by getting rid of the mess and the fat while cleaning!

How to Get Fit Cleaning House

Turn up the music and dance while cleaning. No matter what chore you have next on your “to do list,” motivational music makes it more fun. Pick favorites that get your blood pumping and makes you want to dance. Don’t be modest; get every part of your body involved.

  • 2

    Wash windows vigorously and alternate arms. The stretching motion for the higher spots will make your arms and torso leaner. Do the movements repetitively for every window.

  • 3

    Vacuum faster. This is where a heavy vacuum comes in handy. Push and pull quickly to give yourself a workout. Try to keep your back straight and don’t hunch over. Do the same when mopping or sweeping. Work up a sweat.

  • 4

    Clean one room downstairs, then one room upstairs and alternate so that you are climbing the stairs more often. This is the best butt and thigh workout you’ll get while at home. Take the stairs two at a time for even better results.

  • 5

    Separate the laundry into smaller piles to work from. The more walking (or dancing) you have to do room to room the more exercise you’ll get.

  • 6

    Use groceries as weights when you’re putting them up to get fit. Do tricep extensions over and behind your head with the milk jug. Curl your canned vegetables 8 to 10 times before putting them away.

  • 7

    Move big furniture and clean underneath. The more times you scoot out the sofa, the more toned your arms will be.

Go Green For Your Pool

The official start of Summer is only 10 days away. With the temperature rising, one of the best ways to beat the heat will be going for a swim in the pool. In this article from Earth911, they give you 8 ways you can “green” your pool this summer, including an alternative to using harsh chemicals to clean the pool. So, before you throw on your bathing suit and take a dip, check this out…..

8 Ways to Green Your Pool

Summer’s here! Swimming pools are a terrific way to cool off when the mercury climbs, and they can also be a surprisingly easy way to go green. Whether your style is cannonballs or chaise lounges, here are eight tips designed to turn your pool into a green oasis.

1. Got Salt?

Spend a lot of time in a chlorine pool and you might emerge with red eyes, green hair and itchy skin. Recent findings have even linked regular swimming in a chlorine pool to the development of asthma in small children as well. To combat this, consider switching to salt water. The absence of chemicals means it’s more gentle on the skin, and the salt helps keep the pool naturally clean and algae-free, translating to less money and less maintenance.


Try purchasing reusable containers for pool chemicals as many curbside recyclers will not accept containers that once held hazardous chemicals. Photo:

2. Reusable Containers

Is there a mountain of bottles and jugs scattered around your pool? Even if you choose natural products to keep your pool clean, all those plastic containers can still add up.

Check with your curbside recycler to see if they accept the bottles. If they held hazardous chemicals the answer is probably “no,” so find out when your next Household Hazard Waste event is occurring and drop-off these containers then.

Also consider buying pool supplies from a company that utilizes reusable containers, such as West Coast-based HASA, Inc.

3. Pump It

Like many household appliances, pumps are becoming more energy efficient. Look for the Applied Research Laboratories stamp, which means the pump meets U.S. standards for saving energy.

Pumps are now available in a wider assortment of speed models, meaning you can turn the motor down for regular daily use or up for shorter, more intense cleanings. Buying a timer for both the pump and the filter will ensure that they will run only when you want them to.

4. Check for Leaks

It may sound like a no-brainer, but even losing an inch of water a day can add up to 102,000 gallons of lost water per year. Mark the water line with a grease pencil and check it 24 hours later. If you suspect a leak, have it fixed as soon as possible. Refilling a pool with captured rainwater is an excellent way to cut down on wasted water, and it doesn’t hurt to give that new border of irises and cattails a drink while you’re at it.

5. Go Solar


If adding solar heating to your pool isn’t within your price range this summer, try a solar cover for your pool. Make sure it’s manual! Photo:

Switching from natural gas, propane or electric heaters to solar energy not only saves you money, but it also saves the environment. One pool alone emits three to 10 tons of carbon dioxide each swimming season. Eliminate that and it’s like not driving your car for a year!

The annual cost of heating a pool the traditional way can easily exceed $2,000 (more if you include service technician’s fees). Sunshine, however, is free. The average cost of installing a solar system for your pool can run between $2,000 and $3,000, but since solar is basically maintenance-free, that upfront cost is pretty much all you’re going to pay.

Check out Find Solar, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy, to find installers in your area that specialize in renewable energy. And don’t forget the rebates and tax incentives you’re entitled to claim when you go solar.

6. Cover Up

If installing a solar system seems too costly or too daunting, throw a solar cover on your pool. Not only are you helping to heat the water, but you’re reducing the need for chemicals and lowering evaporation by up to 95 percent. Adding a cover also keeps debris out, meaning less maintenance and more time in the water. Just be sure to choose a cover that you can pull on and off manually, either by hand or with the help of a reel. Automatic and semi-automatic pool covers rely on electrical motors, defeating the purpose of saving energy.


Adding green landscaping around your pool can fight water evaporation and absorb carbon dioxide from pool chemicals. Photo:

7. Add Some Green

Another way to combat water evaporation is to increase the landscaping around your pool. Planting shrubs and trees closer to the water means that they can act as a barrier on windy days (just make sure they don’t block out the sun if you rely on solar energy.)

Plants can also absorb some of the carbon dioxide emitted from common pool chemicals. For extra credit, you can even create a water cleaning system for your pool water using certain flora such as irises, cattails, arrowroot and reeds. Have an ecological landscaper place these plants in a gravel area next to the pool; the shallow water they grow in is purified by the natural bacteria in the roots and then re-circulated into the pool through a pump.

8. Subtract Some Green

If you own a pool, you’ve probably done battle with algae at least once or twice. These aquatic spores appear whenever there is a chemical imbalance in the water. It used to be that the only way to prevent and rid your pool of these pesky spores was to douse the water and surfaces with harsh chemicals.

However, eco-conscious companies such as Orenda Technologies are finding safer ways to keep your water clear. By removing the nutrients in the water that algae feed on, the non-toxic and non-hazardous additives prevent algae growth and staining without chemicals.

Another Way To Repair Wood Furniture

Not too long ago, I did a post about how beer can be used to help refinish wooden furniture. Well, I told my buddy Nick about this helpful little tip and his response was, “why would you ever wanna waste beer?”….. A very good point. So, for those of you who are on the same page as Nick, here is another natural way to refinish your wood furniture without having to waste any brews. BLOG-WOODFURNITURE

This method combines cooking oil with, you guessed it, vinegar! It really does seem that almost any homemade cleaning solution involves some amount of vinegar….amazing.

Add 3/4 cup of Conola Oil (or olive oil), then add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to a bowl, mix together. Dip a rag in the mixture and and simply wipe down the wood furniture. The results are awesome, no chemical cleaners needed, and it’s simple. Try it out and let us know how it worked for you.


Naturally Clean Your Wooden Cutting Boards

Whether you are chopping chicken for a chicken salad, slicing up a steak fresh off of the grill, or cutting up veggies for a salad or kabob, you’re going to need a clean cutting board to do the job. In this article from Savory Lotus, they explain the best ways to naturally sanitize your wooden cutting boards. They also explain why using wooden cutting boards is a better choice than using plastic. So, if your next meal calls for chopped lettuce or diced onions, give this article a read before you break out the cutting board.


How to Sanitize Your Wooden Cutting Boards Naturally


In my kitchen, I have several cutting boards that I use every day. They are probably the most used kitchen tools that I have.  They come in various sizes and shapes.   I use a separate one for pungent things like onions and garlic.  I use the tiny one for chopping fresh herbs.  I even use a particular one for photo shoots for this blog.  The one thing they all have in common is that they are all made out of wood.

Why wood over plastic??

I have always been a fan of wooden cutting boards.  I like to avoid plastics in the kitchen as much as I can. The main reason is that plastics can leach into the foods you are preparing.  YUCK!!!  Just take a look at any used plastic cutting board and notice all the nicks and scratches in it.  It’s very likely  that small little shards of plastic are finding their way into the foods being prepared on them. The chemicals in the plastic can leach into your foods also when the food is sitting on the cutting board waiting to be cooked.  Many plastic cutting boards are made out of BPA or phthalalates, which are both hormone disruptors.  Plastic cutting boards are also undesirable because they take a long time to biodegrade.  So when the board is tossed out after being worn, it sits in the just sits in the landfill.  Not a very “green” choice, I would say.


Bamboo Cutting Boards are the Best

It is my opinion that the best wooden cutting boards out there are made from bamboo. These are the ones I currently have.  Bamboo  is a 100% renewable resource and is harder and denser than most hard woods.  It does not need to be replanted as it grows back and can be re-harvested in a little over 4 years.  Bamboo does not require the use of pesticides or herbicides for growth and also has naturally occurring anti-bacterial properties. Sounds good to me!  As long as you take a little time to properly care for them, they will last you a long time.


How to Care for Your Wooden Cutting Boards

  1. Hand wash your wooden cutting boards ~ Don’t submerge your wooden cutting boards in water, and do not put them in the dishwasher  because of the potential for cracking and splitting.  Gentle surface cleaning with hot water and  a a tiny bit of soap is best for lightly soiled boards.
  2. Give your wooden cutting boards a little love ~ Occasionally rubbing a titch of coconut oil (like this) over your dry cutting boards will extend their life span.  Coconut oil is a perfect choice because it has anti-bacterial properties and a long-shelf life.  Unlike olive oil, it will not go rancid.  All you have to do is rub a small amount of slightly warmed coconut oil over your cutting board, let it soak in for a bit, then lightly rub off any excess with a dry cloth.
  3. Use separate cutting boards for specific things ~ Using a separate cutting board for things like onions, garlic, and chilis will keep your other fruits and veggies from being contaminated with the smell of these delicious, but pungent foods.  I also recommend not using a cutting board for raw meats.  My mother taught me to use sharp kitchen shears to cut meat rather then using a knife.  I do it right over a kitchen plate which washes easily in the kitchen sink.
  4. Lemon is a natural deodorizerTo naturally deodorize a clean but smelly cutting board, simply cut a lemon in half, sprinkle some sea salt on it, and gently rub the lemon half over your cutting board.  If the smell persists, add a little baking soda and scrub lightly again. Rinse and let dry.  Always good to reapply coconut oil after this method. Fresh!
  5. Naturally sanitizing your wooden boards is easy ~ Once in a while, the wooden boards may need to be cleaned more deeply.  With just a few ingredients found around the house, you can naturally sanitize without any harmful chemicals.  A 1996 study showed that hydrogen peroxide, when combined with an equal amount of vinegar, is a potent bacteria killer. Salmonella, shigella and e-coli were all eliminated with this combination.  This is my favorite recipe for sanitizing wooden cutting boards naturally:


All Natural Cutting Board Sanitizer

1/2 cup apple cider or white vinegar per cup of water in a spray bottle (like this) (or like this)

3 % hydrogen peroxide in a separate spray bottle (like this)

  1. Simply spray cutting board with vinegar mixture and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Follow with a liberal spray of hydrogen peroxide and allow to sit for another 10 minutes.
  3. Gently rise and allow to completely dry.
  4. After completely dry, follow with a light oiling with coconut oil to protect the surface.

  It’s that easy.