Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clever Ways to Save Energy

Today, I have a guest post for you.  I would like to welcome Christina Johnson..... 


Christina Johnson works remotely for Elliman Prudential in the NYC rentals market. She is using her journalism major to combine what she loves most, writing and her career. Her specialties include home decor design and DIY home improvement projects.

Clever Ways to Save Energy
Article submitted by Christina Johnson

The former days of merely recycling and composting have been replaced with the modern ways of going green. It is now an entire movement shaping the ways people choose to build their homes and businesses. It influences the resources people use and the cars they buy, but it has also gained a negative reputation for being overly expensive.

It is possible to save the environment while saving money! You and your family can go green without spending too much green. There are many ways you can lower your energy consumption, thus reducing your carbon footprint, without going broke over it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Use CFLs:
Replace your incandescent energy suckers with compact fluorescent light bulbs - specifically choosing CFLs that are Energy Star certified. Even by only focusing on the light bulbs you use most often, you save up to $100 per year on your energy bill. If you have children too young to reach the light switch or your household frequently forgets to turn out the lights, consider getting motion sensors or timed switches. The key is to keep all unnecessary lights off as often as possible.

Major Appliances:
The hardest workers in your house also happen to be energy monsters: your stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer and furnace. Add in a dishwasher, and you’ve got the entire gang. If you’re preparing to replace any out-dated appliances, be sure to choose a new, Energy Star qualified machine. If this isn’t in the budget, follow these simple steps to save energy and money: wash your clothing in cold water choosing a detergent formulated specifically for the lower temperatures; instead of using the heated dry feature on your dishwasher, open its door to let your dishes air dry; and finally, hire somebody to professionally maintenance your dryer and furnace. The little effort that goes into a good cleaning, will help your appliance last longer and work more efficiently.

HVAC Check-up:
Along with having your appliances checked over, be sure to have your HVAC system serviced every two years. In addition to changing your filters frequently, this will allow your heating and cooling system to run smoother and cleaner.

Low-Flow Update:
While water rules such as turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth help save energy, you can take it a step further by updating your kitchen and bathroom to low-flow faucets. While it doesn’t reduce your water pressure, it does reduce your water consumption - by as much as 50 percent. As easy as screwing the new head into place, this tip is especially great on your monthly utility bill.

Small Changes, Big Impact:
Simple household checks and changes create a major difference in your energy efficiency. Check windows and doors for leaks, and verify your attic and basement are well-insulated. After all, we want to keep our preferred temperature indoors. Go extra green and plant trees in your yard. Not only will you improve your air quality, provide shade in the summer, and block wind in the winter, you will also be giving directly back to the earth making it more beautiful. Finally, when you are remodeling your home, be a picky shopper and only choose furniture that was built using sustainable materials. If you are repainting your walls, steer clear of high-VOC paints that pollute the air with harmful gases.

The changes you make to your home are mostly small and relatively inexpensive, but they create a high, positive impact on the environment. Additionally, they save you money in the long run. What have you and your family done to go green? Please share!

Thank you for an inspiring article, Christina.

I'm afraid to admit, that I don't always give a conscious effort to being green.  My husband and daughter are especially good about it, and after reading this, I would like to  follow their example.

A happy day to each of you!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Win-Win

A few weeks ago, I was a lucky girl.  As a  person who hardly ever wins anything, I somehow won two giveaways within days of each other!

The first:

Kelly at Coastal Cottage Dreams was having a great giveaway.  She was giving away some art work letters.

Aren't they fantastic?


I had to take a close up shot of the letter "A".  I love it with the rusty old key attached to it, don't you? 


I haven't figured out where I will hang/display them yet, but I look forward to finding a place.  

If you aren't familiar with Kelly's blog, Coastal Cottage Dreams, see here.  Kelly shares alot of pretty vignettes and excellent recipes on her blog.  She  is moving into a new home and I'm sure she will have a lot of home improvement projects on the way to inspire us all.        

The second:

Mariaelena of Cottage Living--from Beach to Burbs had a giveaway sponsored by Uncommon Linens.  I won a pillow & two lavender sachets. 



Aren't they wonderful?

Mariaelena has double the fun....a home & a beach cottage to decorate.  She is always sharing fantastic transformations and awesome projects.  She recently painted her kitchen cabinets and they are divine!  If you'd like to see what she's up to at Cottage Living--From Beach to Burbs, see here.   

Thank you Kelly, Mariaelena and  Kristin too.  You sure know how to make a girl happy! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Be Mine

Valentine's Day is not a holiday (can it even be called a holiday?) that I go all out and decorate for.

I do have a few touches that I like to add here & there.  My dining room hutch was the recipient of some of those touches.



I have had these bears for quite a few years now.  I have often thought of getting rid of them but since I don't have much in the way of decor anyway, I just keep them.   Well....that and the fact that there's a girl bear & a boy bear, which reminds me so much of my daughter & son, so it's kind of hard to part with them when I use that sentimentality. 


Some Dollar Tree heart picks that I added to a white pitcher.  The wooden hearts were one of my first Valentine's Day purchases as a newlywed a whole lotta years ago, made by a coworker's Mom.

Did you notice the little boxes next to my dish of fleece hearts?  (Fleece hearts can be seen here.)  Let's get a close up....




These sweet little boxes were made by my friend Melonie.  She painted the cute owl and bird and decorated the boxes.  Look what they have on the inside....

 
Cute or what?  Mel has an Etsy shop, see here.

The wreath was inspired by my friend, Shannon at Fox Hollow Cottage.  This girl has been on a felt flower making frenzy!    She provides excellent tutorials on how to make a whole garden full of felt flowers, so she's your go-to girl should the need arise. 



Here's a better shot of the wreath...




And that, my friends, is my dining room hutch decked out for the day of love.  As always, thanks for the visit.  See you soon. 

Joining:
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence
Potpourri Friday at 2805
What's It Wednesday at Ivy and Elephants

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Valentine's Day Hearts

I have been noticing pretty fabric hearts everywhere...on blogs, on Etsy, and of course, on Pinterest. 

Once again, I,  better known as the girl who can't sew,  decided to throw all caution to the wind and make some fabric hearts.

--I used fleece because that's what I had on hand.
--I watched a couple of You Tube tutorials that taught me how to sew a whip stitch & blanket stitch by hand.
--With my own two hands, the girl who can't sew, came up with fleece hearts that I'm pretty happy with.

Wanna see them?






 I sewed each little pearl & bugle bead on by hand.  I may have gone cross-eyed in the process, but I did it.  lol

 
Not necessarily perfect,  but I love them anyway. 

Have you made any fun crafts in honor of Valentine's Day?

Thanks for visiting me today. I do appreciate all of your visits & kind comments.

Linking to:
Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative
Valentines Party at Cheap Crafty Mama
Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Tip Toe Thru Tuesday at Crayon Freckles
Your Cozy Home Party at Cozy Home Scenes
Winter Blues Wednesday at DIY by Design
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show it Off Thursdays at The Ornament Place

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Snow Tablescape

Considering the fact that we now have snow on the ground, I thought it would be nice to put together a Winter Snow tablescape.  Come on in for a mug of hot cocoa and a cupcake.






Dessert plates & mugs from the Oneida Factory Outlet.  Silverware from Christmas Tree Shop.  Dinner plates (or chargers as I'm using them here) are my everyday Corelle dishes.



I love the colors in this plate.


Ivory and silver berry picks along with some glittery snowflake picks from The Dollar Tree make a pretty centerpiece.


I snatched the silver snowflake candleholders off of my Winter mantel.


Mmmm....cupcakes.


So come on and join me.  It'll help take the chill off, I promise. 


My daughter & I are going to the theater tonight (we're seeing Mamma Mia), so I'll link up later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Sharing with:

Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Style Report

I just have to give my 2 cents on the Golden Globes, as if my opinion matters.  lol

I love, I mean really love, award shows.  The little girl who played with "Fashion Plates" as a kid (remember those?), has never stopped loving fashion.  

I have to say, this year, I wasn't wowed by a whole lot of gowns.   Most celebs looked pretty, but few really stood out.  Here are some of my favorites:

Jessica Alba


The ladies of The Help, Viola Davis


and Octavia Spencer


Pretty and age appropriate, Ariel Winter


Claire Dannes (although I did love this more from behind than front)


Charlize Theron
   
  
Emma Stone (at first I thought maybe a tad too old looking for her, but it's soooo gorgeous nonetheless)  


So there you have it, my 2 cents worth.   I can't wait to hear what they'll have to say on the Fashion Police tonight.  They can be vicious, for sure, but I like to watch it anyway.

Ciao friends....


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Tale of the Tablecloth

Sometimes, things just don't work out how I planned them.

You see, we have a round end table in our living room that belonged
to my in-laws.


It has taken a beating over the years. However, since the table was from Ethan Allen, I just couldn't bring myself to paint it.  And truthfully, the table is sort of ugly anyway and paint might not have improved it that much.


Instead, I found a pretty burlap tablecloth on Etsy. Before Christmas, I decided to treat myself & order it. (I also sent my husband to the glass place to have a round glass made for the tabletop.)

It arrived late last week and upon opening the box, I got a little worried. It seemed alot bigger than I thought it would be. It was, in fact, a little too big. It was also, in fact, bulky with a capital B.

My husband scoffed at it  and asked, "You like that ugly burlap thing?" I, of course, declared my love for all things burlap.

I think the bulkiness of the cloth along with the fact that our two couches pretty much blocked the whole table anyway, made this tablecloth business seem foolish. (This is the corner where the table usually sits.)


With my husband's comment echoing in my head, along with the price tag of the cloth & glass top on my mind, I was determined not to panic.

I decided to move the table into the other room. It fit perfectly and I feel like it really belonged in here all along.


Don't you agree?

So, you see, despite my long drawn out story....Sometimes things don't work out how I planned. Sometimes, they surprise me & work out even better.

Happy weekend!

Linking to:  Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Winter Blues Wednesday at DIY by Design
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paper Snowflake Tutorial

When I posted my Winter mantel a few days ago, several of you requested a tutorial of how to make the paper snowflakes that I used in my banner.   I'm no tutorial expert, but I'll give it a try.

Do you remember making paper snowflakes that looked like this when you were a kid?  (From notebook paper no less!)


I remember seeing pretty snowflakes, ones that were round or star-shaped, but could never figure out how to make them.  Remember we didn't have the internet back then!

Just before Christmas, one of my students gave me a snowflake that looked like the one above.  Grateful though I was, it stirred up my old childhood wish to make pretty snowflakes.   

Needless to say, I finally learned how to make them (some 30 years later) and once I got started, I couldn't stop!

Ok, tutorial time, get ready for lots of pictures.  It's very dark here, so I apologize for the quality.

Step 1.  You need to start out with a square piece of paper.  I made all sizes, but this one is 8" x 8".


Step 2.  Fold this square into a triangle.


Step 3.  Fold the triangle over again into another smaller triangle.



Step 4.  Make sure the point of the triangle faces down, like so.


Things might get a little tricky for the next few steps, but hopefully the pictures will help you.

Step 5.  Take one side of the triangle and fold it over one-third of the way.



Step 6.  Take the other side of the triangle and fold it over again.



Step 7.  Turn the piece over to the back side and cut off the pointed ends.


Step 8.  Now take your shape and just start cutting rounded shapes, triangles, deep V's, whatever you like.  Just be careful not to cut away all the edges. 


This is what mine looked like when I was done cutting.


Step 9.  Gently open your shape and see your pretty snowflake creation!  This is the fun part because you never know what you're going to get.


You can make all different sizes and styles just by altering all the little cuts you make.  Like they say, no two snowflakes are alike. 

Have fun and see you soon!

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