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Thursday, April 24, 2014

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2014 Furniture Designs – What’s Hot and What’s Not


However you spruce up your home, when it comes to the new design there are a few tips that can make the process much smoother. By taking note of these tips you can ensure that the changes you make will not only suit your needs but will be in line with the best trends for 2014.

Go for Minimal
No matter how tempting it is to fill every room, bear in mind that minimal is the look to go for in 2014. Minimalist furnishings are timeless because they can be pared-up or down. You can incorporate your own personal taste to the look by adding accessories, centerpieces, and little accent touches. Experiment with patterned novelty pillows, throws, and slipcovers. But go easy – minimalist means no clutter! Instead, go for clean lines and create space in your home by limiting the number of pieces. If you have items that you no longer have room for consider donating them to charity or even selling them to make a little extra cash. Another option is to select pieces that have built-in storage. Most ottomans and footstools are perfect for tidying up kids’ toys, pillows and accessories.

minimalist modern furniture

Transform your Furniture
You don’t have to splash out loads of cash on new furniture in order to give your home a bit of a facelift. Instead, look at transforming your furniture through such methods as staining and stripping, which will enable you to add your own personal touch to your furnishings rather than just purchasing whatever is available at the furniture store at the time. Of course, you may need to invest in new furniture if your old items are on their last legs. If this is the case, look around for chairs and other furniture that fit in with the minimalist theme, which relates to simple yet functional décor.

Organization is Essential
One of the key things to bear in mind when it comes to designing your interior in 2014 is the need to be organized. By de-cluttering your home and getting rid of items that you no longer use, want or need you will find it easier to put other measures into place such as going for a more minimalistic finish. This is also a great way to create an airier, more spacious finish in your rooms and makes cleaning and dusting a lot easier as there is less clutter to deal with.

By taking these tips into consideration, you can enjoy having more space, less clutter, and a minimalist finish that will fit in with the design trends for 2014.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

nextdoor.com: spring cleaning and community involvement


neighborhood Nextdoor

Now that spring has arrived it’s time for many of you, myself included, to clean out our closets in honor of the spring cleaning tradition. A great way to go about your spring cleaning regimen is to have yourself a neighborhood garage sale. This not only allows you to get rid of your items in a sustainable way (by letting others use them), but also helps strengthen ties through community building.

A new app related to this spring clean up, garage sale, and community building is Nextdoor. Nextdoor is “the free and private social network for neighborhoods.” Secure, password protected, neighborhood websites are created where people can “ask questions, get to know one another, and exchange local advice and recommendations.” This neighborhood website would also be put to good use by organizing a spring cleaning garage sale on it! Also, if you don’t have enough items for a garage sale you can also post items to sell or give away.

Nextdoor has also released some interesting findings with the start of Earth Month (April) in order to “raise awareness for the ways neighbors can come together to conserve resources,” which is exactly what a garage sale can promote. Two interesting figures reported in the websites survey findings about conservation efforts are that: “52% of Americans would be more likely to host a garage sale in spring if they had an easy way to get the word out to their neighbors, and 51% of Americans would engage in carpools with neighbors if they had an easy way to coordinate.”

So, find your neighborhood and help create some community spirit and conserve by visiting nextdoor.com to learn more about the app and download it on your mobile device.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day – Let’s Celebrate


green Earth in the grass

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22nd, and it is time for us “green” people to celebrate. Now this doesn’t mean that the other 364 days of the year aren’t days for being green and living sustainably as well, this just means that Earth Day should be a day to try something new for the environment.

For example, Google+ and Time are teaming up to find beautiful pictures of the planet. If you want to participate and share some of your own pictures, head over to Google+ and share them by hashtagging #MyBeautifulEarth and Google+ will feature the image on a page with all the other pictures as well from now until April 22nd. Also, Time’s photo editors will go through all the submissions and the best will be featured on TIME.com on Earth Day!

Also, enjoy and Earth Day freebie by visiting a Disney Store on April 22 with at least five plastic bags you’d like to recycle. If you do so, you’ll receive a free Disneynature Bears reusable tote bag, while supplies last!

Or pick an app to help you go green! I’ve done reviews on two of these apps, but here are three that you should check out to do your part for our planet. GoodGuide is used for getting a product’s environmental impact rating, PaperKarma is used to snap photos of unwanted junk mail to remove them from your mailing list, and Rippl is used to help you form eco-friendly habits (I’ll do a review about this soon to give you the full scoop).

Aside from these Earth Day reminders, just remember you can always participate in helping the environment. Look for local beach cleanups in honor of Earth Day or do your own research on what’s going on in your hometown, Tuesday and other days!

related: more eco news from www.alternativeconsumer.com

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

handmade beetle-kill pine bat house


handmade bat house

Spring is the time to start thinking about the critters you want to keep close to your home. Instead of fearing beneficial insect eaters like bats, you should embrace these much-maligned little creatures and encourage them to roost around your yard, making a bat house a smart addition. Chris Bradley makes his handmade, signature bat houses (pictured above & below) from upcycled beetle-kill pine – a very eco-friendly detail.

handmade bat house

A single little brown bat can gobble-up 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour – so put down the Off and bug spray, make some new furry friends and start using natural pest control. About beetle-kill pine – the mountain pine beetle has decimated the lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests of northwest Colorado. One of the few positives of this invasive attack – as the beetles lay their eggs, a blue-green fungus stains the outer sapwood layers of the tree, resulting in a dramatic blue and cream coloring of the underlying wood.

The bat house dimensions are 16″w x 16″h x 3 1/4″ deep. The shelter has a single 3/4-inch wide opening that houses up to 20 bats – the house’s exterior has a smooth varnished finish, while the interior surfaces are left rough for bats to cling to. Includes instructions and mounting hardware. On Sale Through April with free shipping to the US.  $50 @ sacred resource

related: more design articles featured on www.alternativeconsumer.com

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Teaching Your Kids to Craft Eco-friendly Pet Toys


dog montage

It seems like the prices of pet toys goes up by leaps and bounds every time a pet owner walks into the pet supply store. The prices are even higher for pet toys that are eco-friendly. It makes no sense that pet owners who want to give their dogs and cats toys that won’t harm the environment must pay ridiculous prices for them. On the average, pet owners pay around six hundred dollars every year to keep their precious pups or cute cats supplied with a variety of pet toys. In this economy, people are finding it hard to continue to buy new pet toys. Fortunately, you can make your own pet toys with your kids using things found in nature or items that are lying around the house.

By teaching your kids to craft eco-friendly pet toys, you are also teaching them ways to recycle old items and still put them to good use. It’s also a great way to spend time together as a family and encourage your kids to be creative. Making your own eco-friendly pet toys is fun for the whole family and once the toys are completed, they’ll be fun for the pets too!

The Eco-friendly Tug Toy
You’ll need the following items to make the eco-friendly tug toy:

  • Old but durable fabric
  • Eco-friendly fabric paint
  • Natural hair paintbrushes
  • Newspapers

How to make the tug toy:
Spread a thick layer of newspaper on the space where you and your children will be working. This will help to protect the surface from paint.

  • Lay the fabric out flat, and cut three six inch wide and eighteen inch long strips. Save the remaining fabric for other pet toy projects.
  • Paint different things on the fabric strips however; you must be sure that the fabric paint is non-toxic and eco-friendly. This can be found at most craft supply stores. A lot of pet owners paint things like dog bones on the fabric, but any design that pleases you will work. You can paint hearts on it for Valentine’s Day, bunnies or eggs for Easter, or even the name of your favorite team for football season. The options are plentiful so be as creative as you’d like!
  • Let the paint dry completely and flip the fabric over. Now, you and the kids can paint this side with more designs. Be sure to let this side dry thoroughly as well.
  • Tie tight knots at the ends of each strip of fabric. Double knots tend to hold up best.
  • Tie two of the fabric strips in the space between the end knots of the third strip and Voila! You and the kids have created your own eco-friendly pet toy for your pooch!

Now that you’ve created a great new toy for your dog, it’s time to test it out. Bring your precious, eco-friendly pooch outside and toss that tug toy! Of course, don’t do this unless your backyard is secured with a traditional fence, electric dog fence or wireless dog fence. Safety should always come first, when it comes time for playing with your dog.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feng Shui Tips for Rainy Days


spring daffodils

We are all ready to say goodbye to this long, long cold winter! Spring brings bursts of colors! Tulips of ruby red, daffodils in screaming yellow and the vibrant greens of young grass will begin the celebration of this season-bring it on!

Although we dream of sun kissed days and warm gentle breezes we are entering the season of rain. April brings grey clouds, drizzles and downpours and often makes travel uncomfortable but rain is a blessing that should be embraced. Fresh water is one of our most precious resources. In many parts of the world our water supply is drying up so fast that experts wonder how to bring fresh water to the parched mouths of humanity today and in the future.

The Wood element is the energy of spring and represents rebirth, renewal and fresh beginnings. What a perfect time to think of rain as the gift of emotional healing and the nourishment needed to create a new chapter in your life. Take your personal message from this integral part of the cycles of Mother Earth. Think about how the natural world responds to rainy weather as the animals get cozy in their nests and early blossoms close in tranquility.

Spend a day or two at home. Open your window and listen to the rhythmic patter of raindrops as you feel your connection to nature. A rain storm changes the energy so this is a great time to start your spring cleaning! Wash, wipe, dust and get rid of that clutter in your home and in your office. This makes good sense and great Feng Shui! Remember to recycle and donate whenever possible. Now you are on your way to bringing new and wonderful experiences and opportunities into your life.

In Feng Shui the Wood (spring) energy is associated with the color green. I call it a pillow for the eyes as it is the most restful color for us to look at. Like a walk through a forest, it fosters feelings of balance, harmony and hope.

Feng Shui Tips for Rainy Days

  • Bring nature indoors with a houseplant. Indoor trees and plants are not only pleasurable to look at but they bring us additional health benefits. Plants purify the air through tiny pores in their leaves that act as air filters.
  • Turn up the music! The vibrations clear out the old energy and make room for new energy. Play music that makes you happy, and smile. Studies have shown that smiling improves your health, your stress level and your attractiveness!
  • Have a cup of Herbal Tea. Try Spicy Orange, Chamomile or Peppermint to enhance those quiet moments!
  • Listen to a guided meditation CD. This is a great way to alleviate stress and lower blood pressure. Studies show that meditation can even renew damaged DNA!
  • In your personal journal make a list of all of the things in your life that you are grateful for-so uplifting!

Debra Duneier is a Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Certified Eco-Designer, accredited LEED® Green Associate, award winning Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience and Reality TV Feng Shui expert on Veria Network’s “Natural Reboot.” www.ecochi.com

related: more articles from Feng Shui expert Debra Duneier on The Alternative Consumer

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