Sunday, January 29, 2012

Color Your Fancy: Tangerine Tango

Today's color happens to be the Pantone Color of the Year for 2012.

I love the versatility of a seemingly bold accent color. Mix it with neutrals, neons, or metallics for lots of different looks! I love it with the pretty pinks and glittery golds for my Valentine palette this year.

How do you fancy your tangerine?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Organize Your Life: Weekly Cleaning Schedule

Remember at the beginning of the year when I went through my deep cleaning frenzy? Well only a few weeks later my cleaning has waned and it almost looked worse than before I started. That's when I knew I needed to get organized with my cleaning and keep my house looking good for all that hard work to pay off. 

I found this cleaning schedule via Pinterest, which was good, but not enough for my house that is stuffed with kids, dogs, and a man all day long. So, here is my revised version. 

And here is a blank free printable cleaning schedule for you to adjust a cleaning schedule to fit your own life. 

I needed a full mop day because most of my house is tile. And I didn't need to vacuume twice a week because we only have carpet in the bedrooms, which we don't spend a whole lot of time in. And with seven people, my laundry STACKS up, so I need to do 3 days of laundry. You may not need to make the changes I did, so see what works in your home and create a schedule you can live with. It will make your life so much easier and you will be amazed at how many people compliment your clean house. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Green Guide- Recycling Basics

I will be the first to admit that I am not the expert on anything eco-friendly. After scouring a bunch of green blogs and websites, I figured the best place to start is at Recycling. Recycling is something that everyone can do on a large or small scale right in their own homes without very much effort.

Each City's recycling initiatives are different. We live in Mesa, who's City Waste Management Department not only collects recyclables weekly from our bins, but holds various events such as Shred-a-thons for all that paper you've been hoarding to Hazardous Household Waste Collection. Be sure to check your local Waste Management Department's websites to find out their guidelines for recycling.

The easiest way to recycle in your own home is using the city recycling barrel. City of Mesa accepts all paper, cardboard, metal, glass, and plastics numbers 1-7. Just look on the bottom of the plastic containers and you will see a little triangle with arrows with a number in the center. Visit the Recycling Program page for a list of items not accepted in the blue barrels.

City of Mesa offers a 28 quart home recycling bins for FREE for all residents! Hurrah! Just stop by the Solid Waste Management Department at 730 N. Mesa Dr. in Mesa to pick one up.

If you live in an area that requires you to separate your recyclables, a simple organizer can make your task much easier.

There are so many other recycling programs that every city in the valley offers- visit their websites for more info. We'll be revisiting City programs next time on The Green Guide to learn about how to recycle green yard waste and what they offer for composting. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Local Loveliness: Singh Farm

Welcome to our first Local Loveliness post featuring the most fabulous home, garden, and urban farms hot spots in Arizona.

I made my first visit to Singh Farms last Saturday, and my mind was completely blown away. I first heard about the farm while visiting the Agritopia Community Farm the previous weekend, where I accosted a resident harvesting her abundant winter crops. Her broccoli? Humongous. Her rainbow chard? Gigantic. Her Romaine lettuce? Literally ten times the size of my humble little plants sitting in my garden boxes.

I walked around her plot for a while before I got the nerve to ask her why in the heck her plants were so giant, and she swore my the compost she picked up from Singh Farms. Her garden was enough proof for me and me, my mother, and friend Kathie ventured out to Thomas & the 101 to visit the farm.

Upon walking up from the parking lot, I was completely smitten with the place. No boxes, dividers- the only "order" and "organization" they used were little walls of dirt walled up around their plots filled with all kinds of different combinations of herbs, veggies, flowers, trees, and even succulents. It was a little natural wonderland teetering on the edge of the freeway.

The shabby little shack that greets you at the entrance holds one of the most fresh, unique, and entirely local "farmers markets" I've seen. As I meandered about, taking it all in- farm workers would come in with a freshly washed bunch of turnips or spinach and set them in the fast-dwindling piles in from of their handwritten price signs. I passed a barrel with 5 cartons of farm fresh eggs {there are chickens, roosters, peacocks, and turkeys on the property that you can view} and by the time I came back around to them only 5 minutes later, they were all snatched up! You have to come early and move quickly at this place because they sell out FAST.

 Realizing I need to make my move, I squeezed over to the bread corner and grabbed two of the biggest baguettes I could get my hands on. They were fresh, beautiful, and smelled of wheat and sourdough. I was basically in Bread Heaven. The very knowledgeable farm staff member who was selling the bread and answering all kinds of questions informed me the bread was baked locally by his good friend MJ Coe {husband of Tammie Coe, where you can buy his bread and her cakes- can you just imagine a meal at their house?} bakes the bread and delivers it to the market every Saturday. I also snagged up some AMAZING soft pretzels that blow any other soft pretzel I've ever had it my life out of the water.

Of course to go with this amazing bread/pretzels, I had throw in the Good Ol' Pesto, Spicy Grainy Mustard, and "Salsa Verde" which had spinach, arugula, and basically anything green that was ready to harvest seasoned with the traditional southwestern flavors. In one day my pesto was gone. That's how good it was. Pretzels gone that night, and I made dinner with the breads I bought- 3 different kinds of bruschetta: Olive, caprese, & arugula/mushroom/lemon. Best dinner I've had in a while.

We then took a tour around the farm to spy all the amazing produce grown randomly throughout the property, peeked at the chickens & turkeys, then came back for an amazing Muffaletta sandwich made with the artisan bread they sold in the market, which was stuffed with all the best veggies the farm had to offer. It was the most amazing sandwich I've ever had people- and there was NO meat in it!

I couldn't leave without grabbing a big giant bag of compost- one heaping bag was only $12 and was at least twice as big as the bags of Miracle grow you can buy at the store.

I'm definitely going back this Saturday to snap some photos of the Farm to share here with you- come join me next Saturday, you don't want to miss it!

**all photos from the Singh Farms Facebook page! {I forgot my camera!}

Friday, January 20, 2012

Garden Seeds: Garden Visitors

While picking produce in the garden at my kids’ school this week, I noticed the bok choy plant was infested with aphids.  Rats!  Our first pest in the garden this year. 

What are aphids?  Aphids are tiny insects with sucking mouthparts that extract the juice from plants.  They are green or gray/black and are attracted to various plants including annual flowers, roses, beans and members of the cabbage family.   They can be harmful!  Look for damage to your plant in the form of curled or yellowed leaves or a sooty mold on the plant leaves.

Here is a photo of the aphids on our bok choy plant as well as a generic close-up of an aphid:

We are committed to a pesticide-free youth garden at the school.  Here are some natural solutions and/or deterrents you can use for aphids in your garden in place of a pesticide:

Plants for Pest Control:  certain plants exude an odor that deter pests.  I've tried the following: marigolds, garlic, basil, catnip and nasturtiums.  Plant them in your vegetable beds next to plants you find attract pests easily.  Here are some marigolds I planted next to my broccoli in my square foot garden at home:

Homemade Pest Spray:  Mix one tablespoon canola oil and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Shake well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plant from above down, and from below up to get the underside of the leaves. The oil will smother the insects.  I have used this spray on aphids on my roses and it works well.  Mostly likely, you will have to apply it multiple times (good activity for kids.)

Remove decaying plants and weeds:  Pests are drawn to weedy gardens and dying plants.  In our school garden, the bok choy plant I mentioned had flowered and gone to seed.  This decaying plant attracted the aphids, and they then spread to nearby kale.  I removed the bok choy to eliminate the initial food for the aphids, and then sprayed my kale with the above solution.

Introduce Good Bugs:  Another option is to introduce a bug that will eat the aphids such as ladybugs or preying mantis.  Ladybugs are available for purchase in some nurseries and via catalogs.  

 Remember, bugs are not all bad and won’t necessarily kill your plant.  They all serve a purpose and can often be removed or controlled without the use of a chemical.  Experiment with the ideas above and observe their effectiveness!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kitchen Trends for 2012

I wanted to see what the new up and coming trends for this year's kitchens were, and I'm right on board with Trend Blogger's assessment. More than just what new gadgets are being sold and to put LED lights in your cabinets, these are general "movements" that you can incorporate as little or as much as you want into your own space!

Hi- Tech

From ovens to fridges to computers to tvs in the kitchen, technology is making it's mark in the place we prepare meals. HGTV's I Want That showcases all the latest gadgets and gizmos making their way into people's homes making our lives easier with cutting edge technology. If you're not in the market for high priced upgrades like this new gas cooktop, think about keeping your computer work station in the kitchen area, where people tend to gravitate the most.

The "trend" of green living has become a lifestyle choice that everyone can infuse into their life, whether you take small steps or take on entire renovations with earth-concious materials. Trendir Sustainable Home Building is an amazing blog showcasing amazing eco friendly construction options, like this kitchen from Niche Design, an Environmentally Smart Interior Design Group

By using materials "from responsibly managed forests, rapidly renewable resources such as bamboo, reclaimed materials and locally produced materials"{source} ; anyone can take the criteria used in this green design and apply to their own kitchen. 

Who doesn't love a little color in their kitchen? Some of my favorite kitchens I've seen on Pinterest are neutral kitchens with pops of bright, energy infusing colors.

Or you can go bold and splash your whole kitchen with your favorite hue.

Convenient, Multi-Functional
Having a kitchen that works as hard as you do is become an important commodity in design.

Putting a bookshelf as well as display shelves in the breakfast banquette as well as under seat storage maximizes this kitchen's functionality.

Having your tools that you use everyday, like pots, pans, spoons & knives readily accessible and visible make moving around the kitchen a breeze.

Open cabinet shelves and unique storage solutions are starting to pop up more and more. Use all kinds of vessels for taking your pantry to the next level.

Fresh & Healthy

Having wall to wall windows in this kitchen gives this space a green house solution for growing herbs and even vegetables right within reach of preparing the food

Last but not least, visit Style At Home to find out more about their 8 steps to designing a healthy kitchen:

1) More light
2) Neutral Palette
3) Use fresh fruit (& veggies or greens) as decor
4) Use glass vessels to double as decor & storage
5) Plant an indoor garden
6) Update appliances & cooking utensils
7) Collect new gadgets for easy fresh food preparation
8) Style the inside of your fridge & pantry

Those are the trends heating up kitchens this year- which one is your favorite? I'm definitely digging the Fresh & Healthy kitchen tips and the COLOR!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Garden Seeds: Planting Guides for Arizona

Are you a Arizona local looking to start your own garden in 2012? Here are a few Planting Calendar resources that might make starting out a little less intimidating:

University of Arizona Master Gardener's Manual
Kelly recommended all the UofA Manuals in her Gardening Virgins class, and they have an awesome Maricopa county calendar. This one is strictly vegetables, so if you're wanting to plant some herbs or fruits intermixed, you'll have to check out some other resources.

The AZ Master Gardener Vegetable Planting Guide is another resource Kelly cited in her class, so give that one a looksie as well.

The Urban Farm Planting Calendar
This is a great resource that I refer to daily- it's great to have when you are perusing around the nursery and want to buy every single gorgeous looking plant you see. The entire Urban Farm website is pretty stuffed with good information for us Desert Urban Farmers!

Gardening in Arizona Blog
This blog is great because it tells you the specific tasks to take on each month for vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs. If you are looking for more rounded information- this guide is the way to go! The blog is purely informational- there's not a ton of photos or print out lists, but there's a lot of information so make sure to check it out!

Those are my favorites- what resources do you use when it comes time to dig in the dirt?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

D.I.Y. Tutorials: Knockoff Anthro Scultped Mums Curtains

Happy Tuesday! I am freaking out right now about today's tutorial. Let me give you a back story: I have a Honeydo list a mile long for Braden to tackle, and last night he informed me that he "will not be doing ANY of those things until you {meaning me} sew a curtain for our laundry closet and make the dogs a bed". 

"Done." I said, with confidence. 

"Wait, and one more thing- you have to make decorations for the kids room" {which I admit is really barren compared to the babies nursery}

"You can't just keep adding to the list until I panic", said I. And he laughed maniacally. 

So, with that I started procrastinating immediately and didn't give those projects another thought until 2:00 pm this afternoon. Once I saw that he really meant business, and was not promptly trimming out my front windows, I ventured out grudgingly to Target for a tension rod. $11 later, I went over to Home Depot and picked up a 6' x 9' canvas drop cloth for $11. 

At 6:00 pm I began searching on Pinterest for the perfect shower curtain to copycat. And lo- this is what I stumbled upon:


And then to my delight I remembered this dahlia flower tutorial I had pinned ages ago and I knew that this was the one.

So here's the Tutorial for my Mums Curtains that now grace my laundry closet in the hallway. They took me an hour.

1) My space I needed to cover was about 54" wide and 84" high.  I bought a 6' x 9' drop cloth which gave me enough to make the curtain and have some fabric left over for the flowers.

2) I folded the dropcloth in half on the 6' side, snipped and ripped in half. I was left with two 3' x 9' pieces.

3) I folded the tops of the dropcloth over about 4" and pinned. I didn't double fold because the raw edge in the back wouldn't show. Dropcloths are already hemmed so I folded the side over that would make the front hem hidden. After this step you could iron and sew the side hem that is ripped, but I like the frayed hem look. It's more shabby chic that way.

4) I hung up the curtains, and snipped and ripped the bottom hem as well. Again, you can sew the bottom if you want a clean crisp look, but I did not. And VOILA! you have basic dropcloth curtains. Congrats. That's a pretty big accomplishment for 10 minutes of your life.

Now onto the flowers!

1) I wanted some big momma mums to put on the curtains, so I cut large 6" diameter circles out of black felt using chalk to mark and my flour jar lid as a guide. Feel free to go as large or small with your base.

2) After cutting out the circles, I moved on to making the petals out of the excess dropcloth I had. I cut 4" strips, which I then turned into 4" squares, then cut into petal shapes. I repeated this step with 3" strips, 2" strips, then 1" strips. Next, fold the petal shape together, hot glue down, and then hot glue to the black felt circle.

3) Once I had my Big Flower all finished, I just safety pinned it to my curtain for easy removal if my curtain needs to be washed. I have a feeling it will.

I just added one simple flower to my laundry closet curtains, but I'm thinking I may want to add more, I love it so much! Add as many or as few as you want to create your own textile work of art for your home!

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