Archive for March, 2012

Do Just 5 Things

March 30th, 2012

Happy Friday!

Here are 5 easy ways to green your routine from my syndicated column Do Just One Thing.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

  1. If you live in a dark home that needs to be illuminated with lamps at night, try this simple tip to get the maximum light from the least number of lamps possible.  Place floor, table and hanging light fixtures in the corner of the room instead of flat surfaces or in the middle of the room.   Corners allow the light to reflect off two walls instead of one, which gives you more of a reflection and usable light.   It’s a designer trick that really works!
  2. Spring is a time when lots of homeowners are redecorating by repainting the inside of their homes.  When choosing paint, look for semi-gloss or satin finish instead of flat paint.  The slight sheen helps reflect more light off the walls from light fixtures, so you can use less lights and lower wattage bulbs to save energy.  Plus, when buying paint, don’t overbuy the amount you need by using an online paint calculator to help you buy the exact amount.   These calculators will use the dimensions of the room to precisely tell you the number of gallons and quarts you need to get a perfectly primed room.
  3. Air conditioning units can be a real energy hog in hot summer months.  So, this Spring take the time to plant shade giving trees and plants around your HVAC system or window units to give them a little shade.    Cooler air will help the compressors run more efficiently, so any shade you can give them will keep your home comfortable and your wallet a little fatter.  And remember to replace the air filters in your system; it’s an easy thing to do and can help keep your system running as efficient all summer long.
  4. A programmable thermostat can be a very simple way to keep energy costs low all while keeping your home comfortable without trying very hard.    When installing one in your home, keep a few things in mind:  avoid installing it anywhere where temperatures can fluctuate dramatically.   Avoid the kitchen where stove can heat up a room quickly, anywhere near a fireplace, and near bathrooms where a steamy shower can read as very hot air.   But also avoid installing it anywhere where sunlight streams through windows during the day; if it hits thermostat, the hot rays can force the air conditioning system to go into overdrive since it thinks the home is way hotter than it actually is.
  5. For food storage, the greenest, healthiest and most energy efficient choice is glass.    Glass storage containers hold cold better than other materials (like plastic), so it keeps food cold much longer.    The colder the glass containers stay, the less the refrigerator and freezer have to work to maintain a cool temperature.    Plus, glass containers don’t absorb odors or stains, so they don’t transfer smells to other foods when you use them over and over again.

Fun with Dr. Oz

March 29th, 2012

Review: Ryobi Lithium Cordless Electric Blower

March 29th, 2012

Lately, I’ve been trying to be more of a DIY kind of a guy.    Yes, I make tons of crafts.  I can cook up a storm.  And I don’t mind picking up a paint brush and painting a wall or the side of a house.   But when it comes to things like yard work and household repairs, I have been guilty of picking up the phone and hiring someone to come and do the work for me.

My New Year’s resolution (YES, I AM STILL TRYING TO STICK TO IT!) has been to try to fix and maintain things myself.

For example, when the washing machine went all awry on me recently, I took the time to research what the problem could be, what the fix might be and went about and fixed it.   I probably saved $300 and it only took me an hour to do it myself.      So, how hard could some yard work be?

I’ve been obsessed with this product:  The Ryobi Lithium Battery powered cordless Electric Blower.     I’ve seen my gardener use a gas powered leaf blower to clean up around the house and I’ve never liked the noise or smell of the fumes coming from it.    So, this zero emissions leaf blower seemed like the answer.

It comes with this versatile and powerful lithium battery.    Take about 1 hour to charge up and will last a full 30 minutes (when I tested it) of blowing leaves around the yard.   That was more than enough time to tidy things up and put the dead leaves into the compost pile.

The very cool charging station is what I would call a “smart” station.   It tells you if a battery is defective, charging or is fully charged, so there is very little risk in wasting time waiting for a battery to charge up.

And what I love about lithium batteries is that they charge up faster, hold their charge longer and can be recharged more than a 1000 times.  Plus, they are recyclable and can be brought to any Home Depot store for free recycling.

One of my favorite things about this electric blower is how light weight it is.  And foolproof to use:   Click on the attachment, clip in the battery and push a button to activate it.  That’s it.

Yes, I actually think I found an easy and—dare I say—-fun way to keep my yard looking clean.

Weekend Away

March 28th, 2012

Warmer temps mean I’m spending more time at my weekend home on the Delaware River.    I’ve been tempted to rent out this house for a while (because in this economy, is it really smart to keep two homes?), but I’ve decided to use it as a retreat when I need to get away and unplug.  There’s no TV, no internet and barely any cell service here, so when I do bring my laptop, I can get a ton of writing done.

The screened in front porch overlooks the river and is one of my favorite places to start the day with a cup of coffee and end it with a glass of wine.

The giant hemlocks create a nice barrier on the hillside and look really majestic when the spotlights hit them at night (I only keep the lights on when I’m actually there in case you’re wondering).

One of my favorite pieces of furniture is a set of hand carved wood chairs I picked up in Lambertville, NJ.   A craftsman was going out of business and sold these to me for about $100 a piece (unupholstered).     Usually, the chairs would be stained in a rich cherry or mahogany finish, making them very ornate and fancy looking.  Instead, I pickled them to keep their natural wood finish and had them upholstered with raw hemp fabric.    Now they don’t look so fussy, but rather Swedish/country modern.

Now up the very steep stairs to the upstairs loft……

A little nook for sleeping.   Antique bed.  John Robshaw bedding.   Some prayer flags left over from a photo shoot that I’ve just kept up.    In the winter, I love to sleep up here because it’s toasty and warm.   In the Summer, guests stay up here while I sleep in the smaller downstairs bedroom.

And a view of the living room…perfect for games, a fire, wine with friends.

And you may spot a TV here… which I will add is A: very old and B: does not work.   Trying to figure out how to haul that heavy thing to the car and bring it somewhere to recycle.


March 27th, 2012

When I find things I like. I get obsessed.  Like hardcore.    Today, here are the 5 things I’m obsessed with right now.

#1.   Justin’s Peanut Butter.  93% organic.   Sweetened with maple syrups.   I’ve been finding them at a great price at HomeGoods stores and stocking up.    I literally just spoon out the peanut butter and eat it right from the jar.   I figure it’s way healthier than eating dessert and it satisfies and is just oh-so good.

#2.  Succulents.     I went nuts at Lowe’s and bought a few pallets of succulents (and these aloe plants).    I travel a lot (duh) and having container gardens at the front door makes zero sense if the plant needs any attention whatsoever.   Succulents and arid loving plants thrive on neglect and I look forward to neglecting these plants so they can thrive all Spring and Summer long.

#3.   My old Simmons mattress line.    I actually have been sleeping in the tiny guest room at the house that has the pillowtop version of my old mattress line with Simmons.   It’s a New Hope model we sold at JCPenney stores and I just love it because A: you sink right into it, B: it gives you lots of support and C: I just get the best 8 solid hours of sleep on it.  So, I’m obsessed with something you can’t find anymore.

#4.  Boscia No Pores, No Shine moisturizer.    I go on TV a lot and one thing I tend to be is a little shiny on TV.    Translation: oily.    This little magic beauty product keeps my skin hydrated, light and matte-i-fied all day long.  Love it.

#5:  Hunter Bormio Mens Boot.    Found these at Piperlime.   Vegan.  Truly waterproof.  Comfy.   Just slip em on and go out the door.  I’ve worn with a jacket and tie and dark jeans… and I’ve worn them when I’m just in the yard raking up leaves.