Ways to Easily Clean Pots & Pans

Say so long to scouring those stubborn stains off your ovenproof glass cookware. Just fill the container with water, add up to six Alka-Seltzer tablets, and let it soak for an hour. The stains should easily scrub away.
Aluminum Foil
Don’t have a scrub pad? Crumple up a handful of aluminum foil and use it to scrub your pots.
Baking Soda
Looking for a more powerful dishwashing liquid? Try adding 2 tablespoons baking soda to the usual amount of liquid you use, and watch it cut through grease like a hot knife!
Club Soda
Food tastes delicious when it’s cooked in cast iron, but cleaning those heavy pots and pans with the sticky mess inside is no fun at all. You can make the cleanup a lot easier by pouring some club soda in the pan while it’s still warm. The bubbly soda will keep the mess from sticking.
Cream of Tartar
Discolored aluminum pots will sparkle again if you clean them with a mixture of 2 tablespoons cream of tartar dissolved into 1 quart (1 liter) water. Bring the mixture to a boil inside the pot and boil for 10 minutes.
Denture Tablets
Stains on enamel cookware are a natural for the denture tablet cleaning solution. Fill the pot or pan with warm water and drop in a tablet or two, depending on its size. Wait a bit — once the fizzing has stopped, your cookware will be clean.

Content provided by: http://www.rd.com/home/20-ways-to-easily-clean-pots-and-pans/


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Patio Vegetable Gardening

Most vegetable plants can easily prosper in a patio vegetable garden given the right amount of sunlight and care. Choose smaller or dwarf varieties for best results in container gardens. Vegetables to try your hand at include:
• tomatoes
• cucumbers
• bush beans
• lettuce
• potatoes
• carrots
• onions
• broccoli
• culinary herbs

• The number one requirement for patio gardens is water. Vegetables need thorough watering every time the soil surface begins to dry.
• Good drainage is also critical. Check regularly that the plants are receiving plenty of moisture and drain holes are not clogged.

Control Pests
• Pests should be easier to control than in a full size garden. Be vigilant against invasion by handpicking or washing away the attackers.

• Potted plants are frequent feeders. Feed with liquid organic fertilizer every week or two, following directions on fertilizer container. Using a drip irrigation system, vegetables can be fed and watered at the same time. In colder climates, patio gardeners can sneak in a few more harvest days by protecting the vegetable garden from inclement weather. Use plant covers to protect cold sensitive plants through the winter.

To keep a patio vegetable garden in tiptop shape requires tender loving care. Vegetables can be trained to grow in the desired direction by pruning, pinching, or tying growth back. Add hanging baskets to create more vertical garden space. Grow crops skyward along fences, walls, or a trellis to take the most advantage of your available patio space.
Article courtesy of: http://www.vegetable-gardening-online.com/patio-vegetable-garden.html

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Take a “Staycation”

With soaring prices at the pump and high-ticket prices at the airports, taking a vacation seems unaffordable, and therefore the first non-essential to be cut from the family budget.
But with a little creativity, you can create an affordable retreat in your own backyard (or at least within a few miles of it)…
Staycation” is the new buzzword in these tough economic times, and if done right, it can really be far more relaxing than any travel-based vacation. The idea behind the staycation is to take some time away from work to relax and unwind, to enjoy the things that you’ve worked so hard to attain, like your house or your yard.
Without the stress of packing, getting to the airport, waiting through delays, and arriving at your destination exhausted but obligated to see everything there is to see and to make the most of your hard-earned vacation dollars, you can really maximize your relaxation potential. The staycation also allows you to explore the activities in your area that you usually brush aside, assuming that one day you’ll have time for them.
Here are 10 ideas for a successful staycation:
• Unplug your blackberry and your work e-mail
• Hire a maid or a landscaper for the week, so that you don’t focus on chores
• Sit by your pool, or in your backyard
• Splurge on gourmet food that you’ll cook at home
• Try that new restaurant in town
• Schedule a massage or day at the spa
• Take that historical tour in your town that you’ve been wondering about
• Go for a bike ride
• Read that book that’s been laying on your nightstand
• Take short day trips within a few hours of your home

Courtesy of Stephanie Evans http://greenlivingideas.com/2008/10/30/skip-the-bus-station-take-a-staycation/

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Organizing the Garage

Assess the clutter. Start by creating three categories: keep, donate and toss. As you go through the items, assign each one to a category. If you rarely use a piece, it’s probably a good candidate for the donation or toss pile.

Donate or toss. Contact local charities and arrange for a pickup of items to be donated; put the toss items out with the trash or recycling.

Edit the keep pile. Sort the items you’re keeping into new categories, such as sporting equipment, power tools, etc. Assign each category a location: Sporting equipment, for example, might go in a wall cabinet or a bin in a corner; power tools might be hung on a system of hooks on a large piece of Peg-Board.

Label items. Give anything that is not plainly identifiable a clear label. (Tuck a permanent marker and blue painter’s tape in a zippered plastic sandwich bag and have the kit handy for labeling anything and everything.)

Choose the right shelving. Consider installing metal shelving. It’s affordable, easy to assemble, and able to withstand heat and humidity better than wood. Shelves will also keep your valuables safe from any dampness on the floor.

Pick plastic storage boxes. Cardboard boxes, no matter how strong, bend and dent with frequent use and eventually succumb to dampness. Waterproof plastic containers protect their contents better, seal tighter, and are easy to carry or shift around on shelves (as long as they aren’t too big).

Hang items to save space. Think about putting up pegs or hooks for such items as bicycles, cords, hoses, tools, strollers, and shovels. String up a hammock in the corner of the garage to hold roly-poly gear, like basketballs.

Article courtesy of http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/organizing/more-rooms/garage-organizing-checklist-00000000002179/index.html

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5 Tips to Cut Down Water Consumption in Your Bathroom

Water consumption in the bathroom is probably the highest, when compared with other locations in the house. Depending on the number of people living in a household, the water consumption in the bathroom may be very difficult to monitor, because of the varying frequency of how the people living there may use the bathroom. If you want to cut down water consumption in your bathroom, try the following tips in order for you to save up on your water bills.

Use food color as a leak indicator
Your toilet tank may be leaky and you may not even notice this, which can cause you to pay for up to a thousand gallons of water every month. In order for you to avoid this, do a routine toilet tank leak check by putting food color into the toilet tank. If the water in the toilet bowl stays clear, it means that your toilet tank has no leak and you can rest assured that you are not wasting up to a thousand gallons of water every month. However, if the food color seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, it indicates that your toilet tank is leaky and needs to be repaired as soon as possible.

* Conserve water when brushing
Some of us have the bad habit of leaving the faucet open when brushing our teeth. Letting water run while you do your dental hygiene, can potentially waste hundreds of gallons every month. Make it a habit to turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. It is also advisable to get a glass of water when brushing in order for you to use only the necessary amount of water.
* Dispose of your trash properly
Do not throw used napkins, tissue paper, and even cigarette butts into the toilet bowl. Flushing these things can waste up to 6 gallons per flush. Provide a trash bin inside the bathroom and throw away these things there.
* Showers over baths
Take a shower instead of taking a bath from time to time. Showering takes lesser time and consequently requires fewer gallons of water. It will also help you cut down on your bathroom water consumption if you turn the shower off while you apply shampoo to your hair and while you apply soap to your body. Turn on the shower once you are ready to rinse.
* Check for drips and leaks
Oftentimes, when we are in a hurry, we do not properly turn off the faucet which can lead to water dripping from it. Make it a habit to always check for drips and leaks from the faucet before going to work and before going to bed in order to avoid unnecessary water consumption in your bathroom.
Article courtesy of http://www.greatgreenidea.com/5-Tips-to-Cut-Down-Water-Consumption-in-Your-Bathroom.html

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Reuse Your Hotel Soap

When you take that tiny little, clean smelling, perfectly wrapped soap out of its wrapper in a hotel, use it for one shower and then leave it there, what do you think happens to it? Well, that’s right! It ends up in a landfill! And that’s probably a good thing because who would want to use somebody else’s reused soap while in a hotel? Bar soap is biodegradable, it’s true. But it takes a while to biodegrade (especially if it’s antibacterial), and, if it’s not well-made soap it may release lye.

So what should you do? Well, the first thing you can do is to not use small, disposable hotel soaps. Travel with a travel packet of your own soap. However, if you do use the hotel soap, then pack it up in a baggie or your travel soap carrier and take it with you to finish off the bar.

So, what have we learned here? There are three options to go green with hotel soap:

• Don’t use the hotel soap. Bring your own and finish it entirely.
• Use the hotel soap, but then pack it up and take it with you to finish it entirely.
• Use the hotel soap, but make sure you’re at a participating Clean the World hotel or that you get your favorite hotels onto the Clean the World program.

It’s a dirty world, people. Stay clean and green.


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Green Grilling

We’d all like to be a bit more earth-friendly, and there’s no reason it can’t start in your own backyard. These eco-smart tips might seem like minor changes, but they’ll make all the difference in the world. Lend a hand, save the planet, and have fun while you’re at it!

If you usually: Use charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid.

You could try: A gas grill, or hardwood lump charcoal started with a chimney device. This low-tech method gives off a LOT less CO2 and other chemicals, and it’s a great use for old newspapers. Also, commercial charcoal briquettes are steeped with potentially cancer-causing chemicals, and burn at temperatures high enough to promote carcinogenic charring on food. Stick with natural hardwood lump charcoal that burns at lower temperatures.

If you usually: Toss veggie peels, corn husks, etc. in the trash.

You could try: Composting them. It’s easier than you think, it’s great for your garden, and it’s an easy way to get your kids involved in saving their planet

If you usually: Buy pre-packaged, chemically treated vegetables.

You could try: Buying them loose, visiting a local farmers market or co-op, or growing your own. You could even use that compost you’ve been making! If you do go the pre-packaged route, gently scrub the outsides with a little bit of baking soda and water to remove any preservatives or pesticides.

If you usually: Use plastic utensils, and paper or plastic plates — which then get tossed out and don’t break down.

You could try: Using metal utensils and ceramic plates and taking your guests up on their offer to wash them in the sink. Also consider exploring various brands of bamboo and corn-based biodegradable utensils (we love Biocorp’s offerings) and recycled fiber paper plates like Chinet’s Casuals.

If you usually: Serve individual cans and bottles of juice, tea and soft drinks, and then throw out the containers.

You could try: Recycling any cans or bottles, making pitchers of drinks, or buying family-size bottles (which you then recycle). If you’re toting a cooler, bring fruit juice ice cubes or frozen fruit to use as non-diluting drink chillers.

If you usually: Rely on harsh cleaners to scrub the grill, containers and utensils.

You could try: Scraping the grill while it’s still hot so it’s clean for next time. Pre-grilling, clean the grate with baking soda paste and a wire brush. A cleaner surface makes for safer, tastier food.


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