• The Best Ways to Clear a Clogged Floor Drain

    Updated: Thu, Oct 23, 2014

    On the floor of your home's utility areas such as the laundry room, basement, and garage, lives a hardworking, underappreciated piece of plumbing known as a floor drain. Although it tends to be neglected and often doesn't get the regular cleaning it needs for optimal performance, your floor drain does an essential job. It swallows up all kinds of sludge and grime like runoff from appliances; dirt, sand, and melted snow from your car; and soap scum, hair, and lint from the washing machine. Occasionally an overload will cause a clog, which can result in water backup and even flooding. This type of plumbing emergency requires immediate attention -- the right kind.

  • Hand Launder the Efficient, Eco-Friendly Way

    Updated: Thu, Oct 23, 2014

    Hand washing is the laundry method of choice for most delicate clothing fabrics. (Check labels and manufacturer's directions first for care recommendations, of course). It's also ideal when you have only a few garments to clean or you find yourself without a washing machine. What's the best way to do it? And how can you make the process as environmentally friendly as possible? Detergent Just a little detergent is all you need; don't overdo the amount or it will be difficult to rinse out. Dissolve the soap in the wash water before adding clothes. For a garment that is spotted with grease or other types of food residue, rub a drop of liquid detergent into the stain.

  • Install a New Kitchen with Timeless Style

    Updated: Wed, Oct 22, 2014

    A new kitchen installation will cost you about $55K for a high-end job these days and take a minimum of 15 to 20 weeks ... during which time, you'll be without any but the most basic cooking facilities. Unless you're addicted to both excitement and takeout food, you'd like your investment of money and time to stand you in good stead for years to come. To make the most of your kitchen remodel dollar, choose a classic look that will never go out of fashion. Color -- White A white kitchen, like a diamond, is forever. White goes with everything, makes any space look larger and lighter, and offers the essential of curb appeal -- classic, neutral style. It also has a pristinely clean appearance -- exactly what you want for your foo

  • 4 Ways Smart Homes Are Getting Smarter Than Ever

    Updated: Tue, Oct 21, 2014

    It used to be that we adults just had to worry about keeping up with our children in the smarts department. (Remember the first time you had to ask your offspring to show you how to use email or Facebook?) Now, as the technological revolution progresses ever farther and ever faster, we are faced with a new challenge … these days, not only our kids but even our houses are getting smarter than we are. You've heard of a smart house system? (If you haven't, just ask your kids what it is.) Well, today's home is no longer merely smart, it's a positive genius. Let's take a look at four of the ways smart homes are upping their IQs. 1. Control Smart home technology is all about control, so anyone who is a control freak will be

  • 15 Important Items for a DIY Emergency Preparedness Kit

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    Hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, fire! We all hope that none of these disasters will ever affect us … but just in case the unthinkable happens, it's wise to be prepared. Having an emergency supply kit packed and at the ready can make a difficult situation more bearable. It might even save your life. There are some very good kits on the market, usually sold complete with their own handy backpack. If you prefer, you can make your own to save money and customize the contents to suit your family's needs. Here's a list of suggested contents. 1. Water. Water is even more essential than food for human survival. Estimate one-half gallon (64 ounces) per person per day of drinking water, plus an equal amount for hygienic purpose

  • Green Clean Upholstery with These Natural Techniques

    Updated: Sun, Oct 19, 2014

    Environmental awareness starts at home. Keep your house or apartment a hazardous-chemical-free zone; replace commercial upholstery cleaning products with eco-friendly versions based on easily obtainable, pure, non-toxic ingredients. This will improve your indoor air quality and reduce allergic symptoms in your family members. If you'd like to save pennies as well as the planet, mix up your own frugal, effective natural household cleansers to green clean upholstered furniture. Dust Removal Clean your upholstery regularly even if it doesn't look dirty. Thorough cleaning will minimize the amount of two major allergens in your home -- dust mites and animal dander, if you own a cat, dog, bird, or other pet.

  • 10 Questions and Answers about Terracotta

    Updated: Tue, Oct 14, 2014

    Terracotta is gorgeous, earthy, and green. A richly colored ceramic, it is used for many diverse purposes in house and home, including plumbing pipes; bricks and pavers; floor, roofing, and counter tiles; dishes; sculptures; planters; and vases. Learn more about this amazing building and decorative material through our answers to 10 frequently asked questions. 1. What does the word "terracotta" mean? Terracotta is Italian for "cooked earth." 2. What's the difference between terracotta and ceramic? The term ceramic refers to a general grouping of inorganic, non-metallic solids that have been shaped (usually by hand rather than on a potter's wheel), heated by firing in a kiln, and then cooled.

  • Save Money with These Subs for Expensive Ingredients

    Updated: Mon, Oct 13, 2014

    Reducing your weekly grocery bill is not simply a matter of spending less. You also need to cook smart to get the most for your money while producing meals the whole family will enjoy. When ingredient prices are higher than the New York City roof of One World Trade Center (tallest building in the US), sub in cheaper alternatives and save dough without sacrificing deliciousness. General Principles of Substitution Substitute ingredients with similar properties and flavor profiles. (For example, dry cottage cheese makes an acceptable replacement for ricotta; both are semi-solid and mildly cheesy tasting.) This is especially important when certain chemical reactions are necessary to make your cake or cookies rise.

  • 10 Top To-Dos for Fall Maintenance

    Updated: Mon, Oct 13, 2014

    1. Take Care of Your Furnace. If you live in a chilly place like Minneapolis, an HVAC system that delivers optimal performance is a wintertime must. Schedule a professional maintenance visit for thorough inspection of switches, burners, and safety controls; the motor and blower need to be both checked and cleaned by a skilled technician. A task you can -- and should -- do yourself is changing the air filters every 1-3 months. 2. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector. A carbon monoxide detector can be a lifesaver when you operate equipment powered by an internal combustion engine -- a generator, for example -- or fuel-burning appliance -- a furnace, range, water heater, or space heater. Fuels that produce CO when burnt include natural

  • Green Winter Clothes: Stay Warm and Save the Planet

    Updated: Sun, Oct 12, 2014

    Wearing synthetic fabrics is a no-no if you're committed to saving the planet -- or even just wishy-washy about it. Most synthetics, for example polyester and acrylic, are based on petroleum, often with other goodies like natural gas or coal mixed in. Not only does the manufacture of these "miracle fibers" leave a great big ugly carbon footprint, they tend to off-gas dangerous substances (such as carcinogenic PFCs), affecting you on a very personal and immediate level. Even natural fabrics may be made in a way that exploits human beings, animals, or the earth itself. So when you shop for winter duds, look for natural fibers that are sustainable, fair trade, and cruelty-free, to make sure that you're not staying cozy at anyone else's expe

  • Highs, Lows and In-Betweens: a USA Weather Quiz

    Updated: Tue, Oct 7, 2014

    The United States is a land of great geographic diversity. When you travel around the country, you will encounter an amazing variety of terrain, including mountains and plains, lakes and deserts, as well as temperatures which run the gamut from scorching hot to bitingly cold. Test your knowledge of America's climate, with this multiple-choice quiz covering weather-related highs, lows, and in-betweens. 1. Although Florida's nickname is "The Sunshine State," the sunniest municipality in the USA is actually located in the state of: A) Arizona B) California C) Nevada D) New Mexico CORRECT ANSWER: A). Yuma AZ is the record holder for sunniest city, with 90 percent of the maximum possible sunshine.

  • Wine Racks: the Perfect "Two-Way" Repurpose

    Updated: Sun, Oct 5, 2014

    Repurposing has been gathering steam over the past few years as a fun and inexpensive way to reduce our landfills and help save the planet. Lately we've started seeing lots of examples of a popular "two-way" repurpose. Wine racks are transformed into household accessories such as towel hangers or vertical gardening stands, while anything from an old dresser found by the roadside to an antique cask can be upcycled as a uniquely inventive wine rack. Quirky Repurposes for Vintage Wine Racks After hunting down vintage wine racks in thrift shops, at garage sales, or even abandoned next to garbage bins, creative and quirky repurposers use their finds to craft all kinds of pretty, practical storage.

  • 10 Down-to-Earth Ways to Live Healthier Today

    Updated: Sun, Oct 5, 2014

    Do what you can, when you can, is an excellent motto for improving your health habits, especially as you get older.For example, if you've lived a sedentary lifestyle for years, suddenly beginning a rigorous exercise routine is not realistic and could even be dangerous. Instead, make smaller changes that you'll be able to stick with. Here are ten easy-to-implement suggestions that will get you started … today! 1. Eat and drink moderately. Ambitious fantasies of going on a restrictive diet often end in failure, which only makes you feel worse about yourself. Set yourself up for success with down-to-earth plans -- for instance, taking only a single helping at supper or cutting down to two cups of coffee a day instead of three.

  • Adopting a Dog is the Ultimate Repurpose

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    How often do you get to make a difference to the world and save a life? Adopting a homeless dog is the perfect opportunity -- you don't even have to put on your Superman cape to be a hero. The Humane Society reports that a shocking 2.7 million unwanted dogs and cats in good health are euthanized in the US every year. That number can be reduced by good-hearted people like you. Even if you adopt from a shelter with a no-kill policy, your dog will be infinitely happier as the center of attention in a loving home. Spiritual Benefits Animal adoption is the ultimate repurpose. You already know how important reusing and repurposing material objects is in order to prevent waste and keep our world clean and healthy.

  • Practical Ways to Green Your Home Sewing Hobby

    Updated: Sun, Sep 28, 2014

    Sewing is a fun and practical hobby that helps aficionados save money while getting exactly the fashion look that they want. If you are a "sewist," as they say, you can bring together both your love of sewing and your concern for the state of the planet when you try out these tips and tricks for greening your favorite hobby. 3 Rs of Sewing When you know how to sew, you can take the basic 3 Rs of green living -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -- into a whole new dimension as you Repair, Refit and Revitalize. The first green principle of sewing, repairing (aka mending), is a time-honored skill that keeps your beloved, still-wearable clothes in active use via patching, strategic placement of embroidery, or simply re-sewing a torn seam.

  • Eco-Friendly Ideas for Awesome Halloween Crafts

    Updated: Thu, Sep 25, 2014

    Just like when watching a horror movie has you glued to the edge of your seat waiting for the next scream-worthy moment, the anticipation of a happily haunted evening is a big part of the Halloween fun. If you really want to stir up the holiday spirit, get crafty and try your hand at some easy DIY to decorate your home, outside and in. (The projects we suggest are both kid- and eco-friendly, to boot.) These Halloween crafts all use commonly available materials that you may well already have around your haunted house. Pumpkins When pumpkins are dressed up in no-carve styles, you can repurpose their guts once Halloween is done. (Keep your jack-o-lanterns inside during the day if you live in Florida where it’s still hot; o