6 Tips to Save Money on Your Energy Bill

6 Tips to Save Money on Your Energy Bill | Tipsaholic.com #energy #home #heating #cooling #solutions #green

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Summer’s here and with that comes all of its byproducts…pool parties, running through the sprinklers…but with that comes one other thing as well: ­the HEAT!

It’s worse in some places than others, but where I’m from (the Sunshine State, of course!) it can get amazingly hot in the summer time, and it’s been a chore just to find ways to stay cool during the heat.

So in light of this, I decided to compile together a list of six of the best ways to save money on your energy bill this summer. And hey—who knows—this might just save you a few hundred bucks!

I found a lot of this info out through simple hard work, but a lot of these were found by friends and a little “Google Searching” ;) so hopefully you get as much use out of this list as I did when I was wrestling with my A/C during the “summertime madness.”

 

1. Use your ceiling fan as long as possible

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Ah yes, the ceiling fan. This thing has been my savior over the last few years. I think the great thing about using your fan is that it’s going to dramatically extend the number of days you can keep your windows open throughout your home, and this will save you a ton. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy,running your A/C and heating unit can account for as much as fifty­ percent of your utility bill each and every month. Plus, believe it or not, using a ceiling fan will actually help keep your home WARM in the winter months as well!

Switching over to my fan was huge and I understand that sometimes you’re going to have to turn your A/C on, but even reducing your cooling usage by one hour can cause huge ripple effects on your energy bill and slash your bills for good.

 

2. Use energy efficient bulbs

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This is one that honestly not nearly enough people are doing, and there’s a HUGE reason to switch over to LED (preferred) or CFL bulbs, so I’ll try to summarize the main ones here.

Personally, I’d recommend switching to LED bulbs, which are, in some cases, up to 10 times more effective than traditional incandescents. Here’s why:

  • They’re a whole lot cheaper in the long run than regular bulbs and, in some cases, can be as much as 10 times more energy efficient than incandescents.
  • They are extremely durable , much more so than traditionals and nowadays you can find them at most home-improvement stores for under $10. You really can’t beat that for a light bulb that will probably outlast you.
  • These guys will save you up to a hundred bucks a year (or MORE) depending on your energy usage, so shop accordingly!

3. Do a nightly “energy sweep”

This is a big one that really saved me a lot each month, and just getting into this nightly habit has really helped me realize just how much energy I was wasting each and every night and in some cases while I was even sleeping!

One of the best ways to do this is to either mentally or physically create a checklist with all the main ways you’re spending money every night. For me, I was always leaving fans and lights on throughout the house and even something as simple as forgetting to turn off the living room fan can cost you big.

Did you know it costs around 40 bucks to run a large ceiling fan on high for a whole year? Imagine if you did this kind of math with your whole house? Easy to see how it starts to pile up, isn’t it?

 

4. Seal the cracks

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This was another killer and has completely altered my views on home heating and cooling even to this day. I was living in a nice old traditional home in Tennessee and, although I loved it,  it really had a lot of cracks and gaps throughout the windows and doors (it was about 50­-60 years old, I believe) that were absolutely killing my energy costs every month.

There’s a lot of different ways you can seal your home, but for me I found expandable caulk and sealant to be particularly effective when sealing windows. Investing in something like an “air seal” or “weather stripping” for your doors will pay off in spades in the long run as well.

 

5. Consider insulating your attic

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Now I know what you’re thinking: I understand what you’re saying, but why would I do THAT?!

There are many reasons:

According to the US Department of Energy, most of the energy/heat in your home escapes through the attic, and there’s a wide variety of different insulations and sealants you can get, so there’s really no reason not to! And I know this is probably not how you were expecting to spend your summer weekend (if you’ve got a husband, definitely get him to do this one) but you’re going to really be saving a bundle each and every month that your attic is insulated.

Furthermore, this not only helps a lot during the winter time, but it works surprisingly well in the warmer summer months as well. Because most of the heat in your home is going to rise through the ceilings and out the house, the attic is a great place to nip it in the bud and ensure that you’re home stays sealed.

 

6. Paint it white!

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I decidedly left this last on the list because there’s a little bit of controversy surrounding this, but let me explain.

The idea is simple: painting your roof white as opposed to tar black helps reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere, thereby effectively eliminating much of the heat that enters your home in the first place. Seem simple enough?

Well it actually is! And although it’s up in the air whether or not painting your roof white will pay nature a favor, YOU will definitely be eliminating a lot of the heat that enters your home in the summer.

A word to the wise though:­ if you do end up undertaking this kind of endeavor, do your research first! Google is a great place for this and a quick search will immediately illuminate the specifics of what type of paint to use and how much (and yes, there is a BIG  difference).

I’ve never done this one before so I can’t speak from personal experience, but the GacoRoof paint pictured above is the best product out there for this kind of project, so definitely go with something like that.

This is kind of the “all­out” approach for slashing energy costs and although it may seem a little far fetched many people have had great results using this stuff…your call!

 

At the end of the day…

To recap, there are a LOT of ways we’re wasting money every month with our cooling and heating costs, and there’s no reason to just let that money go down the drain. Hopefully this list opened your eyes to at least a few different ways you can save money on your energy bills each month!

 

Special thanks to HomeTradie for submitting this article! HomeTradie specializes in Home Improvement advice and has several region specific blogs based in the Central Florida Area.

Featured image courtesy of Consumer Reports.

30 Sweet and Simple Succulent DIY’s

30 Succulent Ideas

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Succulent gardens are not only space savers, they're easy to maintain and look great!  In planters, vertical beds, upcycled containers, mini gardens, terrariums or any number of other spaces, succulents create unique and charming decor.  Get some ideas from our gallery of 30 sweet and succulent DIY's.

tipsaholic - 30 sweet ant dimple succulent diy'sSpringtime means warmer weather, more sunshine and sprouting plants! It’s time to get your gardens in order. Don’t have a green thumb? Never fear! Succulents are the perfect plant for unseasoned and master gardeners alike. They don’t take up a lot of space, require only a little soil, and are difficult to kill. They come in a huge assortment of sizes, shapes and colors. They can thrive in lots of different environments, and love full sun.

If you’re looking for something low maintenance and beautiful, succulents are the plant for you. Not sure what to do with your succulents? Use our gallery of 30 sweet and simple succulent DIY’s as a guide to getting started!  These creative projects are perfect for welcoming Spring.

Planters:

Vertical Gardens:

Miniatures:

Terrariums:

Odds and Ends:

30 Sweet and Simple Succulent DIY's - Tipsaholic.com #gardening

 

Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com

 

10 Fantastic Tin Can Crafts for Kids

10 Fantastic Tin Can Crafts for Kids | Tipsaholic.com #diy #craft #kids #cans

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Take time out with the kids today to enjoy crafting together with these 10 fantastic tin can crafts. Each craft requires just a few supplies, some creativity, and a child or two to make things interesting! It’s incredible what a kid can do with a set of recycled cans – so start saving up your empty soup cans and get inspired by a couple of these great ideas for little hands.

 

1. Stilts from Playful Learning

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 2. Lanterns from Domestic Doozie

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3. Bird Feeder from Momtastic

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4. Music Maker from Minieco

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5. Topple Game from The Zui Blog 

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6. Wind chime from All You Magazine

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7. Hanging garden from Stuff Steph Does

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8. Desk organizer from Somewhat Simple

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9. Flower feeders from Think Crafts

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10. Tin can phones from Skip to My Lou

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Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

Featured image courtesy of Stuff Steph Does.

8 Superfoods to Boost Your Child’s Brain Development

8 Superfoods to Boost Your Child's Brain Development - Tipsaholic.com

 

If you’re looking for a way to give your child an advantage when it comes to schooling and mental development, consider this: food for thought. Not just any food will do when it comes to brain power, however. These eight foods are proven superfoods when it comes to memory, function, and performance of the brain.

8 Superfoods to Boost Your Child's Brain Development - Tipsaholic.com

1. Eggs

Protein, Omega 3’s, and zinc, which acts as an antioxidant and detoxes the brain, are all provided in eggs. Scrambled, boiled, or sunny-side up, every egg’s a winner where the brain is concerned.

2. Spinach

If your kids aren’t into salads, it’s easy to slip this superfood into a smoothie or a casserole – or try this tasty quiche  from Remodelaholic. Spinach is full of flavonoids, which are great “protectors” of the brain.

3. Water

Okay, it’s not exactly a “food”, but water is essential to cognitive performance and nerve function. Keeping kids hydrated helps them avoid that rundown feeling that can sometimes hit during the day.

4. Fortified cereals

A good source of vitamin B12, fortified cereals can actually help a child’s memory. Plus, a low-sugar cereal can be more than just a healthy breakfast – it’s great for snacking too.

5. Berries

The evidence that various berries aid in the retention and improvement of short-term memory is growing. Blueberries and strawberries are easy finger foods for little hands.

6. Nuts and seeds

Vitamin E and Omega 3’s are just two of the reasons you should add these natural snacks to your child’s diet. Raw is best, but it never hurts to try something new, like this recipe from Pixels and Crumbs.

7. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains good carbohydrates that very slowly release glucose, which is a major nutrient for brain function. The slow-release ensures that this boost is a lasting one and helps your kids stay focused longer.

8. Fish

Nothing beats the omega 3’s and essential fatty acids found in a good bit of wild salmon. If your child is hesitant to eat it, try a couple of new recipes that include things he/she does enjoy. A fish taco with fruit salsa, baked homemade “fishsticks” or an old favorite like a tuna (or swap canned tuna for canned salmon) sandwich are great places to start.

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

 

Resources:

http://www.naturalnews.com/026273_spinach_cancer_brain.html

http://www.prevention.com/food/food-remedies/best-foods-kids-brains

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain

http://www.chron.com/life/food/article/Brain-foods-help-send-kids-to-the-he-2138005.php

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/11-best-foods-your-brain

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/flavonoids-antioxidants-help-the-mind

Feature image via Better Homes and Gardens

When and How to Buy Organic Produce

When and How to Buy Organic Produce | Tipsaholic.com #healthy #organic #shopping #produce #fruits #vegetables

When and How to Buy Organic Produce

We all want to buy the freshest, healthiest fruits and vegetables for our families, but sometimes all the options and labels can get confusing. Organic produce is a great way of lowering the amount of toxins in your diet that can come from food (via pesticides), but organic produce often costs more than conventionally-grown produce. If you’re interested in buying organic, it’s best to know which items are worth the extra money you’ll pay so you can stretch your shopping dollars.

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of the produce for which you should definitely buy the organic version and that for which you can just as safely purchase the conventionally-grown version. The EWG recommendations are based on tests that show the amount of pesticide residue left on fruits and vegetables after washing. Here are the most recent findings:

The Dirty Dozen

These are the items for which you should always buy the organic version: invest your money here!

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Hot peppers

The Clean 15

For these items, you can safely purchase the non-organic, conventionally-grown version (largely due to their having thick peels or skins that aren’t normally consumed). Save money here!

  1. Sweet corn
  2. Onions
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Papaya
  8. Mangoes
  9. Asparagus
  10. Eggplant
  11. Kiwi
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Sweet potatoes
  15. Mushrooms

 

Julianne Puckett is the creator of Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a blog about what she calls “stealthy homemaking” — healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, DIY gardening tips and the occasional craft project. A designer, writer and former suburban-dwelling IT professional, she lives in rural Vermont, where she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.

Featured image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

9 Great Spring Projects with a Purpose

9 Great Spring Projects with a Purpose

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When things start warming up and signs of spring abound, the last of your “cabin fever” can be resolved with a few spring projects in preparation for longer days ahead. Get a head start on spring cleaning, gardening, and organized summer fun with these spring projects that also serve a practical purpose!

9 spring projects with a purpose - Tipsaholic.com

1. Car Kit

Get your car ready for the busy traveling season ahead with this easy car kit from iHeartOrganizing! Build your kit to suit your family’s individual needs with first-aid items, traveling games, and snacks.

2. Planter Boxes

There’s no better way to dress up your porch this spring than with a set of these fabulous planter boxes. Paint them your favorite color and fill them with your choice of flowers, ferns, and mosses.

3. Natural Cleaners

Whether you’re dreading spring cleaning or totally excited for it, you’ll love this set of printables from Clean Mama that will help you make your own natural cleaners and decide where to use them. Ditch your hazardous chemicals for household naturals like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon and deep clean like you never have before.

4. Produce Bag

It won’t be long before your local farmer’s markets open up again, and you can be ready to bring fresh fruits and vegetables home to your table with this useful produce bag that makes a great up-cycle of an old t-shirt!

5. Cleaning Toolbox

Spring cleaning is made more efficient with this great cleaning toolbox! Avoid all the scrambling under kitchen sinks and running around each time you clean a new room by keeping all your tools in one great DIY kit

6. Cushion Covers

You’re going to want to be ready for all the great backyard get-togethers this season, and a patio furniture update is perfect for giving yourself a classy new garden-party look. Fashion a few of these cushion covers with your favorite outdoor fabrics.

7.One-Board Birdhouse

The birds are back! Take some time to do a little bird watching this spring and try your hand at this super-simple (and cheap!) one-board birdhouse from Birds and Blooms.

8. Hanging Garden Lights

The days are getting longer and those quiet evenings spent relaxing in the yard are becoming more of a reality. Make those nights even more magical with these hanging garden lights to add a bit of sparkle!

9. Foot-Washing Station

Spring can be a messy time of year when the earth is still damp and muddy or you’re spending time in the garden. Keep your indoor floors a little cleaner by creating one of these clever foot-washing stations outside your back door.

9 Great Spring Projects with a Purpose - Tipsaholic.com

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

Spring Cleaning: DIY & Time Saving Tips

Believe it or not, today is the first day of spring! As the snow melts and warmer temperatures arrive, now is the perfect time to get a jump start on your spring cleaning. Check out these great DIY and time saving tips from About.com.

Spring Cleaning: DIY & Time Saving Tips - Tipsaholic.com

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4 Tips for Shopping on Craigslist

Buying second hand is a great way to save money and help out the environment, too. Besides thrift stores and yard sales, a great place to shop is on Craigslist. If you live near a large city, it’s likely that city will have a local Craigslist classifieds site. Craigslist is great for so many things such as buying used (and even new) household items and furniture, finding jobs, etc. Today I want to give you four helpful tips to keep in mind when shopping on Craigslist.

 

Tipsaholic - 4 tips for shopping on Craigslist

Tipsaholic 4 Tips for Shopping on Craigslist

1) Safety First: Keep in mind that not everyone on Craigslist may be as honest as you are. It’s always smart to stay safe. Never send money online via PayPal or any other method. Always meet face-to-face and only deal with cash. Be sure to bring someone else with you or at the very least meet somewhere where there are people around and tell people where you’re going. Most people don’t have any problems buying items on Craigslist, but it’s best to play it safe.

2) Search Smart: Searching is part of the game of Craigslist. If you’re looking for a new dining table, think of all the different words you could use to search for one. For example, “dining table”, “diningtable”, “kitchen table”, “dining set” or just “table”. People describe things differently so if you’re not finding what you’re looking for try a few more searches and you just might find the perfect piece!

3) Check Back Often: It can take days, weeks or even months to find the perfect piece. If you check back daily, you have the best chance at scoring exactly what you’re looking for at the best price on Craigslist. The best, most sought after pieces will go fast, so checking for them constantly will give you a better chance of getting to it before someone else.

4) The Inspection: It can be exciting to find the special piece you’re looking for, but don’t forget to inspect the item before buying it. Often times sellers will leave out small imperfections that you might catch. This can help in negotiations. It never hurts to offer what you think is a fair price, especially if you find some damage that you’ll either have to live with or repair.

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Aileen is a wife, entrepreneur and animal lover. She lives in a small California town, with her husband and a handful of pets, where she spends her days designing blogs and running her online boutique. You can find more at Life by Aileen where she talks about chasing dreams and her attempts at a simpler life.

Six Household Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most versatile things in your cupboard. It can be used in lieu of dozens of specialized household products. Here are just a few ways a bottle of vinegar can freshen up your home.

 Six Household Uses for Vinegar

 

6 household Uses for Vinegar

Cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces

Kitchens and bathrooms have two things in common: they’re the two rooms that seem to get the dirtiest the fastest, and they’re the two rooms that you want to be as clean as possible. Vinegar’s ability to disinfect and remove unpleasant odors makes it an ideal product to use in both. In the kitchen, you’ll find that vinegar will cut through grease on stovetops and range hoods; in the bathroom, it will get rid of both mildew and mildew stains. For most cleaning purposes, a mixture of 4 parts hot water and 1 part vinegar will do the job. For extra grungy surfaces, use vinegar undiluted.

Cleaning appliances

For the same reasons listed above—disinfecting, deodorizing, and cutting through tough grime—vinegar is great for cleaning out the insides of microwaves and refrigerators. In fact, it’s a better choice than other household cleaning products, since it won’t leave a chemical residue that might leach into your food. Two parts hot water, one part vinegar, and a squirt of dish soap will leave the insides of your appliances sparkling. Bonus: undiluted vinegar is great for polishing stainless steel, so you can use it on the outside of your fridge too!

Dissolving mineral deposits from hard water

Whether it’s a ring inside the toilet, crust on a shower head, or buildup in your dishwasher, vinegar can take care of it. For bathroom buildup, soak the problem area with undiluted vinegar to soften it before scrubbing it away. Run a quick cycle with nothing in the dishwasher but a small bowl full of vinegar on the top rack.

Unclogging and deodorizing drains

Got a stinky garbage disposal or a slow-draining tub? Vinegar to the rescue! Try pouring ½ cup of salt and 2 cups of boiling vinegar in, then rinsing with warm water. If that doesn’t do the trick, use baking soda instead of salt.

Removing sticker residue

Peeling off a price tag is rarely as easy as just peeling it off. More often than not, you’re left with some sticker remnants that just won’t come off. Try wiping that stubborn mess with a damp washcloth and some vinegar. So much better!

Freshening, softening, and brightening laundry

There’s little need for expensive bleaches and fabric softeners when you have some white vinegar on hand. Add a cup to the rinse cycle of your laundry and you’ll see some incredible results: brighter whites, less lint and static, and softer fabrics. Vinegar is especially great on funky smelling towels, dishrags, or cloth diapers, since it kills any bacteria and helps eliminate any lingering odors.

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How To Grow Vegetables From Scraps

How To Regrow Vegetables From Scraps via Tipsaholic.com


Wait! Don’t throw away that stalk of celery or the white bulbs of that bunch of scallions. Did you know that you can re-grow vegetables, right in your kitchen so you’ll always have some of the most popular veggies we use in our daily cooking? Best of all, you don’t need a green thumb, a garden or even warm, sunny weather to do it! (featured image via Remodelaholic)
 

6 Vegetables That Can Grow From Scraps via Tipsaholic

Green Onions

Since most recipes call for only the green part of green onion (also called scallions or spring onions), we often wind up wasting the white bulbs. But those bulbs are the heart and soul of the onion plant! When you’ve finished with the green tops, put the bunch of white bulbs into a glass of water and leave it on your windowsill. In just a few days, you’ll be begin to see new green onions springing up! Harvest them as you need them, but be sure to change the water every few days.

 

Leeks

You know how leeks look a lot like great big green onions? They can be regrown the same way as green onions, too! Follow the same bulbs-in-a-glass-of-water routine the next time you have a leek or two leftover and you’ll wind up with your own supply for months to come.

 

Celery and Fennel

These two veggies are also candidates for the water trick. When you buy a bunch of celery or fennel, simply cut off the base and put it, stalk tips facing up, into a bowl of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the bunch, not the whole thing). For these two, however, go ahead and keep them out of direct sunlight.

 

Garlic

Have you ever opened your pantry and found a forgotten bunch of garlic with green sprouts on the ends? Next time, don’t throw it away: regrow it! Plant the garlic in a small pot just as you would flower bulbs in the fall: sprouted tip facing up. You’ll end up with a great houseplant and some fresh garlic for the kitchen.

 

Ginger

Cut off a small piece of the ginger root you bought at the grocery store, plant it in a pot and wait for it to sprout. When you need ginger, you can dig up the whole plant, cut off whatever you need from the root and then repot the plant.

 

Romaine Lettuce

You can regrow many types of lettuce, but stem-based romaine is the easiest. Just as you did with the celery, cut the base of the lettuce head off and put it in a bowl of water to regrow. You’ll be amazed how quickly a new head sprouts up!

 

Julianne Puckett is the creator of Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a blog about what she calls “stealthy homemaking” — healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, DIY gardening tips and the occasional craft project. A designer, writer and former suburban-dwelling IT professional, she lives in rural Vermont, where she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.

DIY Household Cleaners — 3 Ingredients, 6 Cleaning Jobs

6 DIY Homemade Household Cleaners via Tipsaholic.com

There seems to be a unique cleaning product for just about everything these days: countertops, bathrooms, floors, carpets, furniture – you name it, you can find a special cleaner for it. But do we really need all those fancy cleaners? Making your own DIY household cleaners with ingredients you already have on hand will not only save  money but also keep all those chemicals with unpronounceable names out of your home. (featured image via Southern Living)

6 DIY Homemade Household Cleaners via Tipsaholic

 

Use Vinegar

1) All-Purpose Cleaning Spray: Add 1/3 cup white vinegar to a large spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with water.  Use it to clean countertops and bathroom surfaces. You can even use it on hardwood floors!

2) Liquid Fabric Softener: Add 1/4 cup herbal-infused vinegar (e.g., lavender vinegar) to the fabric softener dispenser on your washing machine and top it up with water.

 

Use Baking Soda

3) Powdered Cleanser: Sprinkle surfaces with a little baking soda and rub into a paste with a fairly damp cloth, then wipe off with another damp cloth. The mild abrasive of the baking soda is a great cleaner and is even safe on natural stone surfaces.

4) Carpet Freshner: Sprinkle alittle baking soda on carpets, let it sit a few minutes and then vacuum. The baking soda absorbs odor and leaves your carpets smelling fresh.

 

Use Lemon Juice

5) Stain remover: For stains on cutting boards or laminate countertops, half a fresh lemon and squeeze the juice on the stain. Use the lemon half to scrub at the stain until it’s gone. For tougher stains, let the juice sit for a few minutes: the acidity of the lemon juice will eventually remove the stain.

6) Window cleaner: To a spray bottle, add a few tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice and several cups of water or club soda, plus a teaspoon of cornstarch. Shake it up and spray your way to a streak-free, chemical-free shine!

Julianne Puckett is the creator of Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a blog about what she calls “stealthy homemaking” — healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, DIY gardening tips and the occasional craft project. A designer, writer and former suburban-dwelling IT professional, she lives in rural Vermont, where she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.

Tips for Winterizing Your Summer Garden

Tips for Winterizing Your Summer Garden via Tipsaholic.com

Even with apple picking and back-to-school on your mind this fall, don’t forget to put your summer garden to bed for the winter! If you put forth just a little extra effort in winterizing this fall, you’ll be rewarded with great time savings and a garden that’s ready to go in the spring when it’s time to tackle planning and planting the garden again. (featured image via Remodelaholic)

4 Tips for Winterizing Your Garden via Tipsaholic.com

Pull Out Dead Plants

I know what you’re thinking: “But they’re dead! I can just let them rot over the winter!” Yes, you can, but that also means that any spores left from diseases or blights or eggs of obstinate bugs will be allowed to live in your garden over the winter. They are pretty hearty little buggers and might just rear their ugly heads again next summer. Pull out and dispose of all the dead plants in your garden to start with a clean, healthy slate in the spring.

 

Keep Weeding

Nearly the same principle applies to weeds as it did above to disease spores. If you pull out the weeds now, you’ll have fewer of them re-growing in the spring, which you’ll have to pull out anyway. Bonus: pulling older weeds now is much easier than pulling newer, stronger ones next year!

 

Rake Out the Old Mulch

Unless you mulch only with compost or newspaper, which can be tilled back into the soil in the spring, rake out all your hay or bark mulch. If it is allowed to become incorporated into the garden, it can significantly change the pH of your soil; that can affect how well your plants will grow – if at all. If you’re feeling very ambitious, go ahead and add a layer of compost or mulched leaves for the winter, too, which will add some extra nutrients next spring when you till them into the soil.

 

Tidy Up Your Tools

Just as you wash your pots and pans when you’re finished cooking, so too should you clean up your gardening implements to ready them for next year. If you have any outdoor pots or containers, empty them, hose them out and store them out of the weather so they won’t crack or break. Also, give all your hand tools a quick scrub in some soapy water, hose them off and let them dry; you can even coat metal tools with a think layer of vegetable oil to prevent them from rusting over the winter.

 

Julianne Puckett is the creator of Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a blog about what she calls “stealthy homemaking” — healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, DIY gardening tips and the occasional craft project. A designer, writer and former suburban-dwelling IT professional, she lives in rural Vermont, where she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.

5 Ways to Turn Your Mason Jars Into Lights

Wondering what to do with your collection of mason jars? Need new ideas for lighting up your indoor or outdoor space? Here are five easy ways to turn your mason jars into lights and candles that will bring charm and beauty to your living spaces. (featured image via Sweet Tea Clothing Co)

5 Mason Jar Lighting Ideas via Tipsaholic

5 Ideas for Mason Jar Lights via Tipsaholic.com

Mason jars are extremely popular these days. You can find them at weddings, parties, and, as always, in kitchen pantries all over the country. They are often used as party drinks, centerpieces, and flower vases when they’re not used for canning purposes. But that’s not all that you can do with mason jars! You can turn your collection of mason jars into lights and candles for your home, both indoors and outdoors. Here’s how.

1. Outdoor Lanterns

Line the pathway to your home with outdoor lanterns using mason jars. First, fill the bottom of your mason jars with gravel, sand, glass marbles, or anything that is small and will weight down your jars so they don’t blow away with the wind. Stick a candle in each jar and voila. You could even hang them on your fence or your porch.

 

2. Recycled Candles

Do you have half-melted candles littered all over your home? Gather them all and melt them together in one pot. Pour your melted wax into a mason jar or two. Don’t forget to put in the wicking before you pour in the wax!

 

3. Insect Repellent Candles

Did you know that many insect repellent candles being sold today don’t really contain the essential oil citronella that repels bugs, but only smell like they do? Make insect repellent candles that really work by making your own and put them in mason jars to add a little style to your outdoor space. You can either recycle old candles or buy natural soy wax and melt it in a double boiler. Just add a few drops of citronella essential oil to your melted wax before you pour it into your mason jar.

 

4. Solar Lights

The great thing about solar lights is that they don’t use any electricity to light up your outdoor space, but they don’t always look that attractive. Why not use mason jars instead? Buy a couple of cheap solar lights from a home improvement store and take out the top parts with the solar lights in them. Cut out a hole in the lids of your mason jars and then glue on the solar lights to the lids. You want the solar light to be showing through the hole so that the sunlight can reach them. Hang your new solar lights on your fence with the help of baling wire.

 

5. Pendant Lights

Mason jars can be turned into charming pendant lights for your kitchen. Just follow these DIY steps to add some ambience to your kitchen island or peninsula!

 

It’s amazing to see just how versatile the humble mason jar can be. However, if you don’t have any mason jars on hand, don’t run to the store just yet. You might have some glass jars laying around in your home (or in your refrigerator) that you can turn into beautiful blue mason jars with this easy tutorial.

“I’m Elisa and I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two little girls. I used to teach reading and writing, but now I stay at home with my two kiddos and read and write in my spare time. I also love to undertake DIY projects, find new recipes on Pinterest, and dream about someday finally completing our home. Above all, I love to learn about new things and sharing my new-found knowledge with others.”  Please check out my blog What the Vita!

Top Ten Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that always seems to be in rich supply. Either your garden is overflowing or a gracious neighbor brings you a zucchini the size of a small baby. You can only bake so many loaves of zucchini bread before your family begs you to stop. So what else can you make with all that zucchini? To help you out in the kitchen, here are our top 10 zucchini recipes that’ll make you see this summer squash in a whole new way.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

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Zucchini Ribbon Salad | Proud Italian Chef

While we love zucchini bread, baked goods aren’t the only kind of recipes available. If you have a vegetable peeler, making this salad is as easy as 1-2-3.

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Still have zucchini? Try 5 more easy zucchini recipes.

Ten Zucchini Recipes Your Family Will Love via Tipsaholic.com

About the Author: Clarissa Fidler is a 20-something trying to find her place in this world. She grew up in Seattle, attended college in Utah, and now calls Chicago home. In her free time you’ll find her reading the New York Times, cuddling with her cat Harper, catching up on her favorite blogs, running along Lake Michigan, or checking out a new restaurant.  If you’d like to read more by Clarissa, check out her blog West Hawthorne Place.