Archive for January, 2013

How To Upcycle Furniture

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

DIY Bike Sink

Bring Out The DIYer In You

We know what recycling is: converting waste into reusable material or returning material to an earlier stage in its cycle. We recycle plastics and turn them into newly usable materials, for example. But a new term has emerged to the DIYer, and that’s upcycle. You may have heard the term in DIY phrases on Pinterest, offering cute and clever ideas for reusing old things in a new and creative way. What makes upcycling different from recycling is that upcycling typically creates better quality products or products that have a better environmental value. There is also typically a bit more creativity involved with upcycling, as it involves the end consumer, whereas recycling is thought more as a physical process undertaken by recycling companies.

This year, after two years of pledging to actually do the things you pin on Pinterest, just promise one small project a month. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which of your pins to start on first, but here are some ideas to get your inspiration juices flowing. Upcycle furniture for maximum intrigue (and most upcycled furniture is on the easy side of crafty, believe it or not).

DIY Book Wall

What you can upcycle

You’d be amazed at what can be upcycled: cloth and more sturdy materials are easily upcycled, but magazines and glass can be, too. Don’t just toss those bottle caps in the trash after enjoying a tasty beverage; upcycle them into a crafty photo frame! Never throw away another mismatched accessory or broken necklace again – repurpose it into something unique. Before running out to the Container Store next time you need a shelf or a toothbrush holder: look around at some things you already have but aren’t using. Some L brackets and hard cover books make interesting shelves, while almost any used jar can be altered to hold just about anything. Upcycling really is about the transformation; rather than repurposing, which is using a fully formed object in a different use, upcycling tends to significantly or completely change the object into something new.

DIY Book Shelf

Get picky with it

Just because you want to reuse an item doesn’t mean you should. Some things are not meant to be upcycled, or at least not meant to be upcycled in the manner you want. There are tons of ways to upcycle old books, but if your hardcover book collection is literally falling apart it may not be the best project; you might love the way you imagine your favorite old t-shirt fits as a pillow case but if you don’t wear it because it’s stained and ripped it might make a better rag, no matter how “vintage” it is. Some trash can definitely be upcycled, but not everything. If you look at something bound for the trash can ask yourself if it really belongs in a landfill or if you just don’t have anywhere else to put it. Chances are if your answer is the latter you’ll be able to find a new use for that item. But if it’s going to require so many resources to make the transformation safe or usable it may not be economically or environmentally worth it.

Images courtesy of Homedit, Inventor Spot, and She Knows.

Interior Design Predictions For 2013

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

2013 Interior Design Trends

If any one word can describe interior design predictions for 2013 it’s this: quirky.

Looking back, we can easily describe much of 2011 and 2012 design as minimalist. Black and white, simple contrasting colors, modern furniture and a severe lack of personal photos and other objects seemed to characterize every interior design photo of the last couple of years. This can be attributed to the focus on saving money while having great design and really paring down and getting rid of excess clutter. But it does look like attitudes about interior design are changing, perhaps dramatically.

Experts have predicted living rooms around the country (and even around the world) are drawing inspiration from past decades. After years of overly simplistic styles, homeowners may be looking for the exact opposite type of style now. Patterns, glorious color, and even textures are to be seen throughout 2013, and stripes and florals have begun to make their way back into mainstream interior design. Chevron patterns were very big in 2012 and seem to have given way to simpler stripes this year (albeit in more eclectic color combinations), while the reintroduction of florals into home design seems to coincide perfectly with the 2013 color of the year.

Emerald accent blanket

Pantone, the ultimate authority on color, has determined the 2013 Color of the Year to be vibrant emerald. The official color of the Wizard of Oz, a color symbolic of royalty, and found all over in nature, emerald seems well suited to be appointed the color of the year. Emerald is somewhat oddly both vibrant and soothing, loud and quiet, energizing and peaceful. Emerald also has the innate ability to fit into any room in the home and just about any style: pair it with your already minimalist style in bits and pieces (say with an emerald throw pillow or emerald artwork) or incorporate the lovely hue into an already colorful or whimsical design (emerald pairs well with a wide range of other colors). Emerald also does serve as a perfect color to enhance both a traditional and contemporary style, which means it can be used regardless of what style you already have. It even pairs perfectly with the 2012 color of the year, tangerine!

If emerald has piqued your fancy and you’re interested in ways to begin incorporating the color into your existing design, start with a soft introduction. Upholster your kitchen bar stools in a soft emerald fabric, choose a new area rug with emerald undertones, and add vibrant plants near windows, if you don’t have some already. Most homes have some blues, browns, and creams which pair very well with green hues and make for an easy transition. Also, homeowners looking to go green around the house can use emerald as an inspiration. When you’re ready to more fully dive in to emerald you can always paint with the color or start to buy fabrics with at least a little emerald. This is where those stripes, florals, patterns and textures will all come into play with your interior design projects this year. Get quirky with it!

One last note about our interior design predictions for 2013: this hasn’t been proven and so far no expert has made this claim, but we’re willing to bet that seeing the color green around your home will make you feel a little richer. If this does happen, we bet the association has just as much to do with feeling more freedom in your interior design choices with an improving economy as it does with being surrounded by the color of money. But it’s a fun assessment, don’t you think?

Images courtesy of Boston Globe and Apartment Therapy.

Cut Calories with Simple Recipe Exchanges

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

healthy berry banana ice cream

New Year, New You! That’s the goal, right? When the clock struck midnight the first day of January, people all over the world planned to wake up later that morning with certain goals in mind. If you check the polls on what most have set out to achieve in the New Year many said, “to lose weight” or “get healthy.” Easier said than done, right?

While exercise is certainly important for the body and mind, diet is just as –  if not more – important. You can exercise all you want, but going home and eating ice cream afterwards is just counterproductive. Don’t fret; you can still have your ice cream, just make it healthier!

Here are a few simple ingredient swaps that will either cut calories or add more healthful benefits to your overall diet:

raw collard wrap

  • Since you have ice cream on the mind now, let’s start with that. Take 2 bananas, slice them up and freeze. Once frozen, throw them into a blender until whipped, this is your ice cream base! You can keep it simple and add cinnamon or vanilla. If you are looking for more flavor, throw in some of your favorite frozen fruit. If you have a sweet tooth, add a little peanut butter or raw cocoa powder.
  • So you want to sauté some vegetables and throw a chunk of butter into the pan. Cut back on that extra cholesterol and substitute coconut oil instead. It offers up good fats that the body needs, and is heart healthy too.
  • When baking, lose the eggs and use apple sauce in its place. Sound too weird for you? There is a product called Ener-G egg replacer, a powder mix made precisely for the use of egg replacement.
  • Other egg replacement ideas for baking include: 1 mashed banana, 1/4 cup soft tofu (pureed), or 3 tablespoons fruit (pureed).
  • Simple sandwich swaps include switching out the bread for a collard wrap. Stuff it with veggies of your choosing, add some avocado and a light sauce, like balsamic for a healthful lunch with far less calories than that BLT you usually bite into.
  • Opt for dairy-free milk in your coffee or cereal to reduce calories and cholesterol. Options include sugar free almond, soy, coconut, hemp, and flax milk.
  • Save money and calories making your own nut butters. Store bought peanut butter often comes with added calories, fats, and salts from additional ingredients that you may not have known were in there. Soak nuts overnight; throw them into a food processor with water and mix. It will take some time, but eventually (with a little patience on your part), it will turn into nut butter! Choose your favorite nut (raw almonds are a healthy option).

healthy almond butter

And finally, don’t forget a few more important tips that you may already know: use smaller plates, which in turn offers smaller portions, and remember to slow down! Take your time chewing and enjoy your meal. Eating too quickly cause large food consumption unnecessarily. Set realistic goals for yourself and don’t forget to enjoy! Depriving yourself can often result in negative consequences.

The Best Home Organization Tips

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Best home organization tips

New Year’s Resolution 2013: Get Organized!

There are popular New Year’s Resolutions that top lists every year. We talked about the resolution to be more eco-friendly, and people across the globe have also made New Year’s Resolutions to get their lives more organized, whether that means organizing personal finances, personal belongings, or even organizing personal goals and routines. Different strategies will work better for different families, but these tried and true tips can give you a great starting place to fulfill at least one New Year’s resolution!

Top home organization tips for the new year

  • Decluttering your home is the best place to start. Trying to clean your whole house can be a stressful process, so take it one room at a time. Make a plan and go through each room individually. Clear out clothes you haven’t worn in the last year placing them in a box to donate to charity. This strategy can work for other areas of the house, too. If there are a lot of knick-knacks or toys around the house that don’t get used put those in a box to donate to charity as well. In each room, once you’ve removed items that you don’t need, pick a few organizational tools to corral the remaining clutter. You’ll inevitably acquire more things over the course of 2013, so it’s good to clear the way now!
  • Update your home’s safety features! Make a list of all the safety precautions that are relevant to your home or family and ensure that each is in working order. Check smoke alarms, store a working fire extinguisher in an easily accessible part of the house, and clean out the vents and tubes behind your dryer. It’s a popular spot for dryer lint that could easily spark a fire, even though most families stop at simply removing dryer lint from the filter. This simple step can greatly reduce your home’s risk of a fire and keep the air around your machines cleaner.
  • Maximize the available space in your home. Not everybody is lucky enough to live in an extremely spacious home, but your choice of decor can drastically change the way a space looks. Concentrating the furniture in your home in arranged patterns can make a space seem far more open than it would appear otherwise.
  • Use creative storage containers! If everything has a proper place, it’s easy to stay organized. In your living room, there are fun solutions to clutter. There are plenty of furniture options that double as storage units, like ottomans with removable lids and TV cabinets with display shelves and closed drawers. In your kitchen, opt for utility driven storage containers, like fun baskets for food or steel buckets for utensils. Combine those containers with straightforward item separators for your silverware and home office, and your house will be photo-op ready in no time.
  • Create a schedule. Cleaning and organizing your home for the New Year is a great first step, but it won’t keep your home clean all year. Make a cleaning schedule that you’ll use each week and include simple things like loading the dishwasher and taking the trash out every night so that you’re never facing a kitchen full of dirty dishes or a stinky trash can. Then pick a day of the week for each of your bigger tasks, such as clean the whole house on Sunday or do bathrooms on Monday, the kitchen on Tuesday, and bedrooms on Friday. There will inevitably be weeks when your schedule has to change, but do whatever you can to stick to this schedule on a weekly basis!

We could give you tons more home organization tips, but none will work without the two most important parts: planning and motivation. Envision how your home would look in an ideal world and plan a realistic schedule that achieves the next best thing. After that, just stick to it. It might be tough at first, but if you stick to your cleaning schedule for a few weeks, it’ll become another ordinary routine! We’re not suggesting going full-on minimalism in your home, just keep in mind how home staging might make your home look.

Image courtesy of Freshome

Eco-Friendly Tips for Home and Travel

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013


Make 2013 the year of the emerald

At the start of the new year, many families and individuals strive to be more green, or eco-friendly, but don’t always know how to get started. Pantone has selected emerald as the official Color of the Year for 2013, and with this in mind we think some green focused, eco-friendly tips are in order. Now that we’ve welcomed 2013 fresh out of the box, here are some ways you can reduce your carbon footprint at home and on the road, and make your life more environmentally friendly.

pull out garbage and recycling containers

Go Green At Home

  1. Set up a recycling bin: If you haven’t already done this, it’s the easiest way to be more Earth friendly. A separate trash can right next to the original one makes it easy to remember to toss cans, bottles and glass separately. If you already have a recycling container, take it one step further by separating the plastic from the metals and glass.
  2. Invest in energy efficient appliances: You don’t have to go out and spend several thousand dollars on brand new appliances to be eco-friendly. When your next appliance wears out shop for a replacement with the Energy Star logo and ask the retailer about recycling your old appliance. If no recycling is available, try to sell or give away the appliance to someone willing to fix and reuse it. This can also be applied to things like windows and doors: when it’s time for a replacement, look into energy efficient options.
  3. Buy with purpose: If going green is a resolution, you might also have the resolution to save more money. Try to buy things you know for sure that you will use, rather than buying just because it’s on sale, or just because it’s convenient. For example, you can re-purpose old hand towels into reusable napkins rather than throwing out the towels and buying disposable napkins. It’s easy to buy cart fulls at giant retail stores, but keeping your buy with purpose mantra in mind can reduce your spending and help keep you eco-friendly.
  4. Reduce energy use at home: Washing your laundry in cold water rather than hot water saves loads (get it??) of energy and helps keep your clothes in like-new condition longer, reducing the frequency you need to buy new clothes. Also remember to turn off the lights when you’re not using them, close windows before turning on the heat or AC, and
  5. Rent furniture!: Discarded furniture takes up a significant portion of our landfills, and too often homeowners don’t believe others will want their discarded furniture and they don’t try to sell or donate perfectly good pieces. If this has happened to you, consider renting your furniture. You can change your mind any time you want, there’s no worrying about picking up heavy pieces, and if you really like something you always have the option of buying it.
san diego hotels

Go Green On The Road

  1. Get a hotel near your destination: This may seem like an obvious one, but getting a hotel that’s within walking distance of where you’ll be spending the majority of your time will eliminate the need for transportation. San Diego has plenty of lovely hotels in our Gaslamp District, making it easy to find a room right by where you’ll be. There are also short-term apartments available which feel more like home than a hotel, and are better for saving energy in the long run.
  2. Find a hotel that uses eco-friendly practices:  Most hotels have policies in place to reduce their energy dependence. For example, you can  hang your towels up to reuse them and refuse daily sheet changing to save energy and water. You can also leave the little soaps and shampoos untouched so they can be reused, or if you use them take them home to finish the bottle. Eating in the hotel restaurant is another way to save resources.
  3. Take advantage of shuttle services: While it’s well known that flying is the most energy intensive form of traveling, no one expects you to give up your seat for one on a Greyhound. However, most airports have a shuttle service that make it possible to commute to your hotel. This is especially true if you’re traveling for a conference and many other people will be going to the same location.
  4. Telecommute: Unless absolutely necessary, try to telecommute and host meetings online. Technology makes being in the office in person far less necessary than ever before, especially if that means a plane flight and a car rental. You and your company can save money with online meeting software, and if you have a long commute in a new location ask about telecommuting and saving the gas.
  5. Bring reusable bags: Reusable bags fold up into tiny, lightweight packets that can clip anywhere, and having one on you at all times eliminates your need for disposable plastic bags. These bags can also be used to pad fragile items during travel.

Image courtesy of PantoneBetter Homes and Garden and Discover SD