Spring gardening across the United States varies from region to region. However, gardening in the Northeast has numerous advantages—beautiful, contrasting four seasons and bursts of summertime flowers even on the warmest of days.
Use these tips to ensure that the required spring preparation is completed and that your garden is in tip-top shape this season.
Turn over winter cover crops in your garden beds, and add compost to establish the perfect foundation to sprout new life.
In the first few weeks of April, start planting seeds of warm-season veggies and plants, such as tomatoes and zinnias, inside. All seeds will be ready to transport outside by the end of May.
Dress up outdoor pots with color, and plant flowers that love cool weather, such as violas, snapdragons, and pansies. TIP: Be cautious of frost-sensitive annuals.
Tackle weeding while the weeds are still relatively small. Hand-dig offenders with either a hoe or a putty knife.
Water all transported plants, and add a shovelful (or two) of compost.
Toward the end of the season, be sure to divide summer and fall flowering perennials before the plants exceed six inches tall.
Sure, you’ve heard about the effects some of our everyday habits have on the environment, whether it is driving our cars around town or heating every square inch of our homes. But did you know these “big” things make up only a relatively small piece of the overall carbon footprint impact?
Approximately forty-two percent of our society’s carbon emissions come from the products we use, and the raising or making, transporting, and disposing of the food we eat. Surprising, huh?
Fortunately, there are simple things we can easily do to help lessen our carbon footprint and, by extension, the effect on the environment. Give these easy eco-friendly ideas a try to not only live greener but to save money, too!
Paper or plastic? Neither
Rather, take reusable shopping bags with you when you head to the store. This will decrease energy use and also harmful emissions produced by manufacturing single-use shopping bags (paper or plastic).
You may not think about it as you’re spending $1 for that bottle of water, but buying three bottles of water per day adds up to about $1,100 per year. Compare that with the roughly 50 cents it costs for the same amount of tap water, and it’s a no-brainer. But there’s more than a cost savings involved here: tap water uses one-thousandth of the energy needed to make the bottled variety.
Manufacturing, shipping, and disposal of new goods contributes to environmental pollution. Rather than only buying new things, rely on thrift stores, yard sales, and hand-me-downs. Not only is this better for the environment, but the thrill of the hunt is pretty fun, too!
Say goodbye to single-serve
Instead of purchasing chips or snacks in smaller, single-serve bags, purchase snacks in bulk and then divide them up in reusable containers to pack for lunches.
Look for plant-based green cleaners
Traditional cleaning products are not only harmful to the environment, they can add dangerous toxins to the air you breathe inside your home, as well. Look for eco-friendly, plant-based cleaners with a list of ingredients. Or, better yet, make your own green cleaners!
Consider shopping for produce at your local farmer’s market rather than the supermarket. Fruits and veggies sourced locally require less fuel for transportation, support nearby farmers, and are fresher, thanks to less travel time.
Cut back on meat
Raising livestock is resource-intensive and accounts for double the greenhouse gas emissions compared to animal-free meals. Did you know incorporating one meat-free meal into your diet each week has the same environmental impact as driving a hybrid car?
Start a compost pile
Composting helps cut energy use and carbon emissions from processing waste. And, as a bonus, it creates dense, nutrient rich-soil perfect for feeding your garden. To help control the smell, consider collecting your compost in a closed container. Be sure to check your local regulations on compost guidelines.
Go Green at Home
Fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs create more light while also using less power. Replace old incandescent bulbs with newer, energy efficient bulbs to reduce your carbon footprint—and enjoy the savings.
Use ENERGY STAR® appliances
Energy Star is the EPA’s program that helps Americans save money and use less energy. Always look for appliances that bear the Energy Star seal, to lessen the negative effects on the environment. For instance, switching to an Energy Star-certified TV reduces carbon dioxide emissions by forty-six pounds over the lifetime of the product!
Insulate and seal your home
This will not only cut carbon emissions from the energy demand, but it will also help maintain comfortable temperatures in your home throughout the year—and helps lower your energy bill!
Rethink Your Commute
Take the bus
Public transit is more fuel-efficient than cars and is estimated to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by thirty-seven million metric tons. Bonus: taking the bus also frees up your commute time to let you do something you enjoy, such as reading or catching up with your friends and family.
Walk or bike
Not only is this option eco-friendly, but it is better for your health, too! This green option burns 250 to 550 calories per hour and keeps exhaust-producing cars off the road. The Earth—and your waistline—will thank you.
Rethink air travel
Conduct business via phone or video conference. If long-distance travel is a must, consider going old school by taking the train to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
Explore the option of flex time
Check with your employer to see if you have the option of utilizing flex time. Some companies will let you work from home, either part-time or full-time, if they can see a benefit for the company, as well. By working from home, you will eliminate your commute altogether, leading to a positive impact on the environment.
If flex time is not an option for you and you must go into the office, consider carpooling with coworkers who live nearby. This reduces the number of cars on the road, which will reduce the pollutants and emissions released into
Do you wish that there was more time in a day? Do you want to have time to drink a cup of coffee in the morning, or get to the gym before or after work? Well, we can’t change how much time there is each day, but we can help you manage and save time!
Identify your daily tasks
If you want to introduce new tasks into your daily schedule, you should first identify the everyday tasks that make up your routine. Start by writing down everything that you do on the average day, such as taking a shower or driving to work. If you have trouble thinking of everything you do in a day, try carrying a notebook around to jot down reoccurring tasks. Record how long it takes takes to complete these tasks and the time that you do them.
Write down each new task that you would like to complete. Be honest with yourself about the most realistic time to fit in these tasks. Don’t write that you’re going to add an hour of exercise into your mornings when you are already struggling to get out of bed. Schedule new tasks where you feel you can sacrifice the most time. If you can save time in your routine by prepping your meals on Sunday rather than starting from scratch on the weeknights, you’ll have time each day to squeeze in a little more productivity throughout the week.
Taking charge of your days may not come easily at first, but with a little practice, it will become second nature. Pick a day to start your routine, and remember to leave a little extra time in your schedule to accommodate situations out of your control, and of course, relaxation time.
How-to on taking charge:
It is important to realize that there are some things you must get done within a specific day. Writing down these tasks will help navigate how well your time is spent. Make sure that you have enough time to accomplish each task—otherwise, you will cause yourself more stress. If you find that your plan doesn’t work, make adjustments, and figure out what routine works best for you!
Let’s face it: cleaning is not fun for most people. In fact, it’s universally one of the least exciting necessities of life. However, if you’re the type who finds yourself spending hours, if not days, getting your home in tip-top shape, allow these essential hacks to guide you into the cleaning promise land.
It’s no secret that our bedrooms can easily become catchalls for the items we don’t want guests to see when walking through other parts of the house. Because we are typically the only ones in this room, it’s easy to let spots like the top of the dresser collect a pile of tiny trinkets we can’t find the time to put away. To keep this area organized, gather small items like hair ties, bobby pins, and clips in small jars. Likewise, keep easily mangled jewelry in a small dish to prevent a tangled mess.
Because the washer is washing our clothes, we don’t often think of it as being one of the dirtiest spots in the house, even though this can be the case. It’s important to give your washing machine a good scrub every so often to prevent the buildup of grime that can leave your clothes feeling less than fresh. Run a few cups of vinegar through a regular cycle, followed by a run with baking soda. Wipe the sides clean when you’re finished and your washer will look like new!
Between rushing to get out the door in the morning and wanting nothing more than to simply brush our teeth and go to bed come nighttime, our bathrooms could use a little organization and TLC. To prevent a jumbled mess, and help you find what you’re looking for much easier, use small baskets and dividers in bathroom drawers to keep items like hair brushes, hot tools, and products easily accessible. You’d be surprised the difference it makes when you don’t have to spend minutes searching for your essentials.
Save money—and the planet
Store-bought cleaning products can be costly, but more importantly, they are full of harsh chemicals that are not only bad for the environment, but also for people. The solution? Make your own! You don’t have to be a DIY master for this, either. All you need for an all-purpose cleaner, for example, are some citrus peels, vinegar, and essential oils.Tips
Whether you’re taking the family on a camping trip, embarking on an epic hike, or simply heading to the park for a picnic with friends, knowing how to identify poisonous plants can save you from an itchy situation.
Learn more about how to spot some of the most dangerous leaves with these tips!
Found throughout the United States, poison ivy is the most common poisonous plant. Watch for leaflets in groups of three, with slightly serrated or smooth edges. It’s a tricky one, though. It can grow as a woody shrub, growing up to five feet tall, or as a vine that develops on trees, walls, or even fences.
Primarily located in the eastern and southern states, as well as along the Pacific coast, poison oak often presents itself in three—typically shiny—leaflets and has a distinctive marking that is similar to an oak tree (hence the name). You’ll likely see poison oak growing as a low shrub, in tall clumps, or as long vines.
Also found primarily in the eastern United States, poison sumac typically grows as a shrub or small tree. You’ll likely spot complex leaves, with anywhere from 7-13 leaflets. Each leaflet is about 2-3 inches long and has edges that are serrated with a glossy face. It’s also not unusual to see poison sumac growing with yellow-green flowers.
Tips on prevention.
Take your poisonous plant knowledge one step further by knowing how to prevent an incident. Here are a few tips to keep you safe when exploring the outdoors:
Be sure to wash your hands and up your arms with cool water and soap, as soon as you can after coming inside.
It’s best to wear long sleeves and pants when exploring the outdoors, to not only prevent against poison exposure, but to prevent bug bites and other rashes from forming.
Thoroughly wash your gardening tools after each use.
Never wear shoes without a pair of socks to keep your feet and ankles protected.
Most importantly, always consult with your doctor if you feel you’ve been in contact with a poisonous plant.
If you don’t fancy yourself a pro in the kitchen, even minor tasks like cutting an avocado or whisking an egg can seem impossible. But don’t give up just yet! These hacks will help you take the stress out of cooking.
Gluten-intolerant? Place a cup or two of brown rice cereal into a food processor and blend to make your own bread crumbs.
Everyone has experienced the horror that is “avocado hand” (accidentally slicing your hand while holding an avocado). Keep your digits safe by using a potato masher instead.
Avoid drenching your hands in lemon juice by using the ends of a pair of tongs.
Tired of getting tangled in plastic wrap? Store the box in your fridge. The cool air makes the wrap easier to work with.
When it comes time to make cookies or a cake, clumpy brown sugar is a pain. Prevent sticking by adding a few marshmallows to the bag.
Cook that grilled cheese in a hurry (or in a hotel room) by buttering both sides of the bread, and wrapping in foil. Press both sides with a clothing iron for 2 minutes, and voila!
Don’t spit those pits! Easily de-pit cherries and other small fruits by placing them over a glass bottle and pressing a straw through the middle.
Keep ice cream nice and soft by placing the container in a plastic storage bag before putting it in the freezer.
If you’re clumsy with cracking eggs, remove shell fragments from the bowl by scooping them up with half of the shell.
No need to cry! Prevent tearing up while onion cutting by putting a piece of bread in your mouth.
Whether or not the weather outside is turning frightful, add some warmth and spirit to your home this winter with these four fresh, simple themes. No matter which you choose, it will add a cohesive, seasonal style to your home’s interior!
Silver palace with a pop
Use mirrors to play up silver’s reflective sheen, and add a variety of bright, sparkling accents like crystals and glittery vases. For added contrast, mix shades of grey with a punchy pop of color like coral or rich fuchsia.
Details and color palette: Mirrors, glass, silver votives and trays, crystals,silver, white, grey, and a pop of coral/red
Outdoorsy and natural
Focus on the colors you see outdoors. This palette could change drastically depending on your location. From lush greenery, branches, and pine cones to starfish, seashells, and driftwood—bring the outside in, and pair with matte white accents.
Details and color palette: Anything from outside, wooden frames, white votives, lush greens, chocolate, and matte white accents
Warm, comforting, and nostalgic
Get cozy with a variety of candles that vary in height and intensity. Add a touch of nostalgia by using vintage ice skates and sleds for an outdoor display. Take advantage of texture with cozy sweater material, burlap, and branch accents.
Details and color palette: Sweater material, burlap, gold votives and trays, winter whites, soft creams, and warm golds
Playful, bright, and frozen
Perfect for kids of all ages. Have fun with characters like penguins, polar bears, and snowmen. Use your imagination by using jars filled with marshmallows and sugar cubes as decorations. Frame fun-filled photos of winter.
Details and color palette: Fake snowballs, bright bulbs, fun winter characters, bright aquas and blues, and clear-to-bright whites
If you’re looking to lose weight or eat healthier, you should be reading the labels on everything you eat and drink. But it can be difficult to know what to look for and what all of the information really means.
A serving size tells you how much you’re consuming with each serving. So, if you eat two servings, double the nutritional values listed. Don’t just assume that there is one serving in every package.
A serving size tells you how much you’re consuming with each serving. So, if you eat two servings, double the nutritional values listed. Don’t just assume that there is one serving in every package.
Calories are a unit of measurement related to energy. When you consume more calories than you use, the excess is stored in your body, leading to weight gain. Only 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories should come from fat.
Contrary to their reputation, fats are actually important nutrients. However, not all fats are the same. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the best choices for their health benefits. Saturated fats should be consumed sparingly, and trans fats should be avoided at all costs.
According to the FDA, most Americans don’t get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, or iron in their diets. Many foods that are high in these nutrients are good for your health.
cholesterol, and sodium.
Eating too much of these nutrients may increase your risk of certain chronic conditions, like heart disease, some cancers, and high blood pressure. Limit your intake to the recommended daily values listed on the food label.
It’s important to look carefully at the ingredients list. Foods with less than half a gram of trans fat per serving can be listed as 0 grams of trans fat. But if the ingredients contain the term “partially hydrogenated oils,” the food has trans fat. Added sugar can also go by other names, including high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, and dextrose, among others. Also keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of prominence in the product.
The tackier, the better seems to be the motto of holiday decorating for most people. But getting the home ready for the season doesn’t have to consist of an array of the loudest decor you can find. Keep it minimal with these decorating tips.
While the blues, reds, and greens lining the store aisles are enticing in the moment, choosing to deck your house out in too much color can be headache-inducing. Instead, opt for a neutral theme, using monochromatic colors like black and white with a colorful accent here and there (like this festive garland).
Take inspiration from outside.
Bring the beauty of the outdoors inside for decor this season. Whether by taking pinecones or acorns and using them as garland, or taking sprigs of pine for your centerpiece, make use of the natural beauty right outside your front door. After all, the winter wonderland look never goes out of style. Take it up a notch with this snowman wreath, which utilizes twigs lying around outside.
Wrap presents using brown paper.
Go the old-fashioned route and use brown paper and twine to wrap gifts for your loved ones. This look is simple, yet classy, and will make your tree stand out this season. This minimalist choice is easy to personalize too, and the receiver will be instantly charmed by the extra effort you went to making their gift all the more personable.
Skip the multicolored lights.
If you’re going for the minimalist feel, multicolored string lights might not be the best option. Deck your interior and exterior with white fairy lights instead, with the occasional multicolored strand here and there. Light it up even further by adding fake candles in the windows—making for one luminary household.
Keep the focus on one or two items.
For the ultimate minimalist, choose only a couple of holiday pieces for your decor and let those be the focal point of your home, instead of scattering a bunch of smaller items around. Switching out your everyday couch pillows for holiday-themed ones, or placing winter plants in the corners of your home might just be the best way to keep it simple for you.
It’s obvious why fall is one of the best seasons for photography—it’s one of the times of year that nature is at its most colorful, and you (typically) don’t have to worry about combating scorching heat or freezing temperatures.
But in order to make the most of your autumn photography session, you’ll need to keep these few tips in mind.
Leaves are gone almost as quickly as they change, so try to find and scout your location the day of, or, no more than one day in advance.
Unless you’re really into the classic feet in the leaves picture, try to mix it up your session with a few landscape shots, or consider capturing aspects of the season that people often forget, like contrasting blue sky or wildlife.
Use the sun to your advantage. Fall is a great time for back-lit shots, as the sun will be peeking through the breaks in the trees. Also keep in mind what time the sun is setting, since it will be earlier than it was during summer.
Instead of focusing just on the leaves, seek out other tiny details, like a bird nesting or a squirrel gathering nuts—this will keep your photos from looking too similar.
Shooting with a cell phone? Don’t worry if the colors aren’t popping as much as they do in-person. You can always fix coloring on your phone or computer afterward.