Taking out the fall sinus / cold viruses

I’ve been promising to write a little about the essential oils that I love so much and this is the perfect time.  The fall sinus bug hit this week and it is a doozy.  Ok, that sounds like something my grandma would have said.  I’ve been using some of my oils again this morning and it spurred me to writing.  Especially since I’m loving the scent of tea-tree and ravensara left over from the inhalation treatment this morning.  It also helps that I know it is killing the germs in the air too….kind of like spraying lysol into the air, or using humidifier would.

I’ve been using essential oils and natural solutions for around 10 years now, give or take.  I’ve used them for household cleaning, skin care, lawn care, pets, a whole slew of illnesses and the list goes on.  I’ve done tons of research and have amassed a library of resources.  I’m hoping to start a master’s of aromatherapy course soon.  Several years ago, I started getting requests to share my knowledge and remedies.   Folks I’ve shared remedies with (and by this I’ve made them a batch of something or other) have liked it so much they’ve shared it with other folks who then want more.  Wow, what a compliment!  I’m not kidding when I say that people pushed me to start this blog and sell some of my products.

Beating the Cold Virus

Essential oils next to my reusable bags!

Ok, back to the oils.  First things first, I should probably give you the long introduction to essential oils, their properties, uses, etc.  But that would take several posts and a lot of recommended research and this is just about the fall sinus/cold virus that has hit the house and how I’m dealing with it.  I will also remind everyone of the disclaimer I have on the site – I’m not a medical doctor or nurse (contrary to popular opinion) – you take my writing and advice at your own risk.  There is a lot of information on the internet and many excellent books on the subject, and although I’m willing to share my experience, I suggest doing some research.

Now that that pesky stuff is out of the way –  the oils — I’m using two this morning – first, tea tree is a fabulous oil.  It is reported to have a wide range of uses, but for my immediate purposes, I’m sticking to the immune system benefits.  It goes after bacteria and viruses so is great for colds, viruses and sinus infections.  It is one of the first oils I started using a good 10 years ago or so, and I consider it a staple in my personal arsenal.  Second, a new oil to me, Ravensara, is also reported to have a lot of uses. Again in this case, I’m sticking to the its reported uses with regard to colds, flu, sinusitis and respiratory issues.

So, how have I used these oils this morning, you ask?  Well, first, I did an “inhalation treatment.”  This is really simple and only takes a few minutes — bring 4 cups water to a boil, put in a glass bowl (anything but plastic).  Add 2-4 drops of oil (so in my case, I added 2 each of tea tree and ravensara).  Throw the towel over the head to create a tent over the bowl and breathe in for a few minutes.  Make sure the water is steaming, but not so hot as to burn your nostrils. The little bugs don’t like the heat, it kills them, and the oils give it the one-two punch.  This is good for a few hours (so I equate it to taking over the counter drugs without all the side-effects).

I then leave the bowl on the counter, still steaming to act as a purifier for the air.  The oils disperse into the air and kill the airborne germs, much like a can of lysol, but without the chemicals.  I will do this periodically throughout cold and flu season, it makes the house smell good and helps kill those bugs.

What to do with the water when it is all done and getting cold?  I take the germ killing properties of the water a little further and use it to rinse down the bathroom and kitchen sinks.  Two very germy places.

I also combine the oils and epsom salts in a bath.  Very relaxing and for my house, promotes a good night sleep.  Put the oils in a dilution base (like olive oil) first before adding to the bath.  Oils can sometimes be irritating to the skin (although my sensitive skin has never had an issue).

Yeah, but does all this make you feel better?  Well, in my experience (and the extended group of folks I’ve shared this with), yes.  Definitely yes.  Sometimes, if caught early enough, the virus is gone rather quickly.  Other times, like this past week, while it hasn’t eliminated it entirely yet, it has made the work week much more tolerable.  And I’ve been able to do it without drugs.

So, now it is your turn – I’ve been promising to write about essential oils for a while now.  Was this information useful?  What would you like to see added to it?  Would you like a bit of a primer on oils?  Would you like to know what I consider to be essential to the first aid kit?



As usual, I’m including a link to some of my favorite blog parties.  This is where we link up and you (my reader) get to visit some really good sites with info you might find useful.  We call it blog parties…take a look here.

Chicken Italian Soup

In taking a page from last week and the dinner menu, where I slipped and ate out a few times- tonight I made dinner that should get us through Tuesday, maybe Wednesday.  I had incentive, Friday’s dinner came complete with an allergic reaction that lasted into Saturday afternoon.  Seems my fish was contaminated with shellfish.  Either cross or on the same grill or something.  Don’t know, don’t care – last time I eat fish there.  Ever.  The shellfish allergy is one of my more unpleasant reactions.  So tonight, I made two dinners.  I apologize that I have no photos for you!  One was chili — timeless and particularly yummy tonight.

The other was a kind of white chicken italian soup. It originally started out as a white chicken chili when I first made it a few months ago.  I messed up and it somehow turned into a kind of chicken italian soup instead.  We really like it, though.  I’m glad I remembered what I did, and, wow, some mistakes are worth repeating!  I’m not real good at exact measurements when it comes to cooking, but this recipe is easy enough to follow along and adjust the seasonings to taste:

Chicken – (I usually use 2 boneless, skinless breasts), cube it up, fry it in a pan with olive oil. I also add :

Garlic powder or garlic salt (whatever ends up closest to my hand)  If I use garlic salt, I omit it below.
Italian Seasoning (yep comes in a spice bottle that way)
Salt and Pepper
Onions – I fry them till translucent – I always add more olive oil to fry them in.  I use a large onion.

Honestly, I add the spices till they look good.  I admit to also having a heavy hand with them.  I also have a tendency to add a little water to the pan when the chicken and onions are close to done. Don’t know why.

I then transfer that to a larger 5 quart pot.  I add 4 cups of chicken stock (Yeah, I buy a couple of different brands of the stuff in the containers – I like the organic kind, but get what works for your allergy needs if you got ‘em.)

Then I add 3 cans of beans — a mix of cannelini, and or northern, sometimes tri-blend (I think that is a kroger organic brand).  I’ve also done it with pinto beans.  I’m not picky, as long as they are light in color.

Again, I spice it to taste and I will also add water to make it a little soupier if I need to.

Overall, this is an inexpensive dinner for us – I always buy the broth and the beans on sale.  And I tend to stock up on them as we use them for a lot of different things.  That pot will serve probably 7 or 8 bowls – depending on your size, etc.  I figure that to be about $8.00 total, or a $1.00 a meal.  Pretty good in my book.

It could go further if we added it as a side dish.  It is also easy and quick to put together.  Another plus.

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you.



Have you checked out any of the other blogs I “hop” with?  Try A Blossoming Life for some great ideas.

DIY Skylight Window Shade

This is the post about my DIY Skylight Window Shade that I’ve been meaning to put together for a while now.  When we bought the new house it came with skylights – a neat feature that gives light to rooms that don’t otherwise have natural light.  Only issue is, the heat they generate is a killer when you are standing under them in the summer and the light, well, yup they provide it – even when you’d like to be sleeping.

DIY Skylight Shade Start

A beacon of light!

Sticker Shock!

One skylight is in a room directly across from the thermostat and I’ve always thought that the radiating heat from that room must have an effect my thermostat turning on.  Another is in a bedroom, not pleasant if sunrise is early.  So, one day I decided to do some research on a shade for it.  Because it is a skylight, I also looked at the remote control features – it just isn’t practical to get out the ladder each time you want to adjust.  Much like me and ice on the roof, there are stories of me and ladders.  You’d think I was uncoordinated!  Near instantly, I realized that I just can’t (or won’t) afford anything store bought.  Turns out (at least from my research) they are kinda custom done and so is the price.  I think $300 is a lot for one window.  Especially for a girl who sews.  Whoa!

Ole Fashioned Drop Back and Punt Time

So, I let the brain start down another road.  What if I sewed one myself?  I’ve made roman shades before, but they won’t work here – who wants a string hanging down?  And again, there’s the whole ladder thing if I create a hook for the string.  Sooo, French Curtains to the rescue.  Well, those and tension rods.

These might be some of the easiest curtains to sew.  All you need is the fabric, the tension rods, and a little bit of skill and knowledge.  The skill? – really just being able to sew a straight line (or reasonably close).   The cost was really inexpensive for me too.  I already had the fabric – I used an old sheet.  And the tension rods were like $3 each at either Walmart, Target or Meijer  — can’t remember which store.

Instruction Overview

I’m not perfect at step by step instructions, but here goes.  I think you’ll get the idea, as these are not very complicated.

First, measure your window, width and length.  Measure the inside opening because you are using tension rods.  You need to know the width measurement because tension rods come in different sizes.  Once you have it, go purchase some tension rods.

DIY Shade Step 1

Measure then purchase tension rods

Because you are making a pocket to slide the tension rod in, you’ll need to add additional length to the measured length.  So, for mine, I think I added an inch to each end.   You’ll also need to add to the width.  For fullness of the curtain, you’ll want to add at least 1.5 times the width – so if the width is 20 inches, you’ll want to cut for 30.  But you also need to have some side seams, so I gave mine a half inch each side.  So, for example I would cut my fabric at 31 inches.

Important – I’m leaving out the pic of cutting the fabric and a whole bit on actually sewing hems.  I’m assuming you already know.  But just in case, very quickly, iron your fabric, fold over for hem allowance, iron again.  You’ll want to at least initially sew along the cut edge (I use my serger, but you can do it with a regular machine too) and then you sew the hem allowance down.  One of my pics has a decent, but unintended shot of it.  Side seams get sewn first and then your top (where the rod will go) gets sewn next.

Slide your tension rod in.  I used two rods for this project, so for me, one in each end.  I’m guessing here that you’ve already got your tension rod measured to fit the window opening tightly.  If you didn’t, do it before you put the tension rod in the curtain pocket.  It’ll make life easier.

Skylight Curtain

Tension rod goes in pocket after hems are sewn

Tension rods now in, hang the curtain in the window.  Normally, I’d say start with the top rod first, but in this case they are hanging in the air so it didn’t matter.  Adjust to exactly where in the window casing (or frame) that you want the curtain to hang (meaning how close to the actual window) and then adjust your fullness so it looks right and you are done.

Hanging of Skylight Curtain

Place the tension rods and adjust

  The Finished Product

Finished skylight

This is how the skylight looked after I got them up.  The light coming through is now filtered. I haven’t gotten my next energy bill, but I’m hoping it made a little difference.  If nothing else, it looks better, and only cost me like $6.00.   Also, I can easily take them down or move them to one side to allow more light if I want.

A little more…

If you were to do both ends on a normal window, it could function as a shade, or you could easily move them up or down as I do in my living room.  I’ve included a  picture of that below for reference.  I needed to do something in that room and this was a quick, easy fix.  And the bonus is I can move them in any configuration I want, as I tried to show in the picture.


DIY Curtains

See how you can move them up and down?

Well, that’s it.  What do you think?  If I left anything out that you want to know more about, just leave a comment and I’ll respond.



PS – check out one of the sites that I link “or blog hop party” with.. Carrie This Home

Creating a Dinner Menu

The good news is that I finally found a job!  Bad news is that I have to get back into a routine and with the little one back to school in a few days there is lots to do to prepare for all the coming changes.  School supplies are purchased and the backpack is ready to go.  Back to school clothes are all set, and since we are not morning people, clothes are selected in advance, usually the night before.  My thoughts have now turned to the Dinner Menu.

With going back to work, after-school activities, food allergies and other assorted challenges, this is an area I’ve been thinking about a lot.  On those really hectic days, eating out is not really an option.  We have too many food allergies and we just don’t have the budget for it.  So, I’m considering putting together a weekly or, let’s get really crazy, monthly menu plan.  I already purchase groceries in bulk (helps to capitalize on sales), so having the supplies (?)  shouldn’t be a problem.  Sticking to the plan might be.  But I figure if I go with a loose monthly plan, I can swap in and out where I need to.  The key will be actually getting it in writing (posted on the fridge?) So, some sample menu items are:

  • Scrambled eggs with turkey sausage is a fav in our house
  • Scrambled eggs thrown into a tortilla with meat and cheese is another
  • Meatballs (turkey) and rice (my hubby makes a fantastic dish that tastes sooo good)
  • Chili
  • Cowboy Beans (great recipe – made with turkey sausage – kinda like beans and cornbread or a white bean chili)
  • Quesadillas- (a suggestion from my friend, Jen)
  • Nachos – homemade refried beans, sometimes ground turkey, tomatoes, cheese, etc. over tortilla chips
  • Baked Potato Bar – yummy!
  • Hotdogs – the nitrate free kind of course.
  • Sandwiches – you name it, lunchmeat, pb and j, tuna
  • Spaghetti – killer recipe and my daughter’s favorite
  • Tuna casserole- made on the stove top; good hot or cold
  • Pancakes and bacon
  • Lentil bean Sloppy Joes – these are awesome, easy to make and meat free
  • Chicken stir-fry
  • Mac n Cheese and ham

I’m looking for more ideas to fill out a whole month’s worth with no repeats.  The goal here is quick, easy and nutritious.  We can work in more elaborate dinners when time and health allow.  But for now, I’m going for what can I do quickly when I get home from work.  We are an allergy household, so I also need to consider recipe modifications.   The largest majority of cooking at our place is from scratch – a must with the allergies, so some of these are healthier than they look.

So, two questions:

1)  got any other ideas?

2)  would you like me to expand on any of these to show you how we make them allergy free?

Looking forward to hearing your ideas.



Check out the other blogs I participate in through their blog parties, here.   Lots of great ideas can be found.


Easy Woodwork Refresh

Woodwork Refresh, Door

My sad, worn, woodwork

I’ve always gotten a lot of wonderful comments on the woodwork in my home.   I favor the natural (or stained) look versus the painted variety and most of the comments center around the how really  nice it always looks.  I came to appreciate that when I moved into the new house.  The woodwork was scratched, marked and lacking a finish in spots.   Worn and scratched woodwork can make your home look old and outdated.  And that is an easy enough fix.

First, give the trim or doors a good wash-down.  I don’t use anything special, just a mild soap and water solution.  Next, you want to remove any paint goofs, marker or scuff marks.  To do this, I use good old fashioned nail polish remover.  Yup.  The kind you can pick up at the dollar store.  Use a Q-Tip or a cotton ball and wipe those marks away just like you would if you were removing nail polish.   It really is that easy and inexpensive.

Woodwork Refresh Tools-1

Use nail polish remover

Woodwork Refresh - Scratch removal

Remove the scuffs and such

Now comes the refresh part. I have a lot of left-over stain from various projects so it is fairly easy for me to match up the color of the stain on my wood.  Since you are only working in small patches, you can usually get away with “close-enough.”  Don’t have left-over stain?  A small can is easy enough to purchase, or for really small or touch up jobs, they now make these wonderful stain pens.  Find them in the stain aisle.  They come in all kinds of colors.  They work like a marker.

Woodwork Refresh - Stain tips

Supplies, dip the rag, wipe on, wipe off

I wear a pair of vinyl gloves and depending on the size of the imperfection, dip a q-tip or a rag into the stain and then wipe it on the imperfection.  A quick wipe off with a clean rag and you are done.   This works great on most scratches or light wear-off.  Got a little deeper scratch that the stain isn’t getting?  I’ve used colored marker.  I get the more expensive marker that you find in the craft store in the artist aisles.  I tend to go with a shade lighter as the match up is not as easy.  I know they make the colored wax, but I’ve never had good results with them.

I do this whenever needed, but it is a simple fix when going to sell the house, or moving out of the rental (think the trade of $10 or your deposit).

And there you have it — a woodwork refresh that can be done for under $10.   I’m not sure the picture does it justice, but here are the results…

GLI Woodword Results

The end result

See how the trim looks much better?  And the door doesn’t have the scratch or the fading finish?




Have you checked out the sites in the blog hop party I participate in?  You can click on this “party” link here and see some other great ideas.

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

Those who know me well are well aware of the diy dishwasher tablet follies in my kitchen this year as I’ve tested several recipes.

Some have been quite funny – I’m talking the complete with suds coming out of the dishwasher and all over the floor kind of funny!   As I told the hubby who just stood there with that look on his face (if you’ve been married any length of time you know the look I mean) — “hey, at least the floor got mopped.”

As I neared the end of the last batch – which cleaned very well, but clumped badly, I was off to exploring again.  There is just something about me and stabbing a knife into a little jar that doesn’t seem right or safe.  I could have you in tears laughing about the results of me and ice on the roof, not just once, but twice.  But I digress.

Instead of tweaking the recipe, yet again, I decided to see what Pinterest had to offer on the subject.  Or, more accurately, to see if there was anything new in the last several months.  I also looked at a few blog links as I was searching.  The recipe I used is on a few different websites, in the exact same version, with the exact same photo and no “it really belongs to xxxx person” credit.  So, the best I can do is own up to the fact that it isn’t a Green Leaf Inspirations original.

The original recipe calls for:  1 Cup Borax,   1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda),  1/2 cup Epsom Salt,  3/4 Cup Lemon Juice

Now, I didn’t want to make a full recipe (that says somewhere in the 22 tablet range) — I just wanted to try it.  So I thought I’d cut the recipe in half.

When I did that, it came out kinda soupy, so I wound up adding another 1/4 cup each of borax, washing soda and salt to get the tablets to form without being mushy.  I just used one tablet in my dishwasher and I LOVE  it.  No film on my glassware, none on my plastic (yes, I have some) and all but 2 items came clean.  This is a major win for the first time round.  I have really hard water and my dishwasher is, um, challenged.  It doesn’t understand it is supposed to actually clean the dishes.  In it’s defense, the one dish was pretty dirty.

This performance is better than Cascade or any of the other detergents I’ve used.  And the cost?  Well, the one site estimated it at .03 each — so another major win in the budget saving department.  I’m so excited.   So, then, here is how it goes:

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

1 Cup Borax  (you could use plain ‘ole baking soda if you have an issue with borax)

1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)

1/2 cup Epsom Salt

3/4 Cup Lemon Juice

Mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the lemon juice.  It will fizz so the kids will think it is fun.   I used a tablespoon and went for what looked like a 1 and a half to 2Tbs clump.  I dropped it on a cookie sheet and I then formed it into a shape that looked like it would fit the washer dispenser.  Once it got a little harder I transferred them to a cookie tray for  better air circulation.  Now that they are hard, in a jar for storage they go.

Dishwasher Tablets

Drying on a tray for better air

The only other thing I can add is that I noticed that the whole tablet did not dissolve.  So I might need to either just place it in the bottom of the dishwasher to start or make the tablet a little smaller or thinner.

End result.  I’m very happy.  The recipe took less than 5 minutes to make and cost mere pennies.  Much greener, less cost, easy to make:  sounds like a winning combo to me.

Green Leaf DIY Dishwasher Tablets

All ready to go.

Check out the blog link party I participate in here.








Energy Savers Part 3

Well, curses!  I actually had this post on energy savers finished several days ago.  Just needed to add the finishing touches.  I was on the ipad and must have done something wrong, because I went to finalize things and it was gone.  I mean really gone.  It was a brilliant post and contained the secret to getting a million bucks in cost savings.  Wouldn’t you just know it?  And now it is just like my elusive lottery winnings.  It doesn’t exist.  All kidding aside, I had to start all over.

This is the last in my energy cost savings series.  We’ve taken a look at insulation, doors, windows and thermostats and more.  Today, I’ll share a few more tips to help you save money on energy costs:

Lighting.  Consider switching to the (not so) new energy efficient bulbs.  They make several different kinds, they look Efficient Lighting Optionbetter and have a range of pricing too.  I’ve switched over most of my house where I could.  This includes lamps, hallways and closets.  I remember telling my electrician that I didn’t want to switch the hallway by the stairs because of the slight delay in light.  I had to laugh when he asked if I were running races in my hallway.  I’ve known him for a long time, so I cleaned up the real sarcasm he used, but the point remains:  it only takes a sec and you get used to the delay quickly.  The best part, the changes dropped my electric bill by at least $5 a month in the old house and more in the new one.  Seems small till you add it up for a yearly figure of $60 to $100.00.

The new house also has a lot of recessed lighting.  The bulbs are on dimmers and old enough that they don’t work with the energy efficient bulbs.  Having new switches installed is not in the budget right now, so what to do?   Use table or floor lamps instead.  The strategy is working.  The other thing I’ve found is that if I turn OFF the dimmer light switches instead of just turning them down, the bill is cheaper too.  Small change adds up.

Pipe Insulation.  This is fairly inexpensive.  It can either be in tape form that you wrap around your hot pipes or in a Pipe Insulation Optionfoam that you just slip over the pipes.  The idea is that you don’t lose the heat from the pipes.  This keeps you from running the hot water longer than necessary, keeping your water bill down, as well as the gas to heat the water.   I’ve also started using it on the cold water pipes – same theory – except here, it seems like the water coming out of the tap is colder.  So, I don’t run the water too long to get it cold.

Ceiling Fans – or room fans if you don’t have ceiling fans.  Running them makes it feel either a few degrees colder in the summer or warmer in the winter.  Adjust the direction of the fan so that air rises in the summer and pushes down in the winter.  Cold air falls and hot air rises, hence the direction flow depending on the season.  This keeps you from adjusting the thermostat in ways that cost you money.

Did I leave any tips out?  What things do you do to save you money on the utility bills?


I party here –  check it out!

Energy Savers Series – 2

Continuing the Energy Savers Series…some more tips to help you save money while you are saving energy.

The Doors:  do you need to replace the weather stripping?  This is inexpensive and easy to do and will help stop energy loss and drafts.  Think both the storm/screen door and the main door.

Why does stopping drafts make a difference?  When you eliminate drafts, your heating and cooling system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you comfortable (or run as often).  And, as you enact these tips you might find that you can adjust the thermostat a few degrees – which again, will save you money.  Even one or two degrees in the thermostat makes a difference.   I’ve been able to adjust mine and it really does make a difference.  IMG_2361

Speaking of the thermostat – get a programmable one — change your setting while no one is home (school and work) and in the winter, drop the heat at night – you are sleeping and under covers and probably won’t even notice it.  Just program it to start warming up a little more before you wake up.

Running a Window Air Conditioner?  Make sure you use foam insulation around the window openings.  It is just a piece of foam cut in strips.  You just cut it to fit your needs (i.e. window width) and put ‘er in.

Block off rooms you don’t use.  So, close the vent, close the door.  This redirects airflow to rooms you do use.

Another tip — close closet doors.  Do you really need to heat or cool your clothes?

Window Film – this is a film that you can purchase to block the sun’s rays.  It keeps the heat out.  It is easy to install, just cut to fit and smooth it over your windows, like a window cling or those removable .  It also isn’t permanent, so if you are renting, it can come with you.  And it is tinted so you gain privacy as well.

Window Coverings – this is an upcoming project for a different blog, but my point here is to have them.   There are a ton of options here.  You can line them with a thermal covering to block out sun rays and drafts.  You can use a sheer fabric to filter the light – which in turns creates a cooler feeling in the room.   A simple sheer on a tension rod does the trick.  In a pinch, they even make the (admittedly cheesy) paper blinds.  They just stick to the window and you raise and lower them yourself and clip them open.  Where are they good?  Got a room you never use, like an upstairs where all you really need is to block the sun?  Perfect.  They are between $5 and $10.00.

I’ll got a few more energy savers to share….stay tuned for the next post in the series.


Did you know:  I party here


Energy Savers Series

Oh the Energy Bills!  With the recent heat wave, and the arrival of the Edison bill, it got me thinking about all the energy saving moves I’ve made that are starting to really pay-off.  And by pay-off, I mean big savings last month.  And for this family on a pretty strict budget, that was welcome news.  So I thought it appropriate to do an Energy Savers series with tips and tricks that result in real-world pocket book savings.

Most of the items on the list are not new — you can find them in a number of sites and articles.  I thought I’d share with you what I’ve done and how it is working out.  Some of this would make for some boring pictures, so I’ll break the posts up into a few to help make it easier to read.

Caulking — when we moved in, we went around and repaired or replaced the caulking on the outside windows and door frames.  This was great, but I still kept feeling a draft in certain areas and then I remembered to caulk around the inside of the windows.  So, I purchased clear caulk and went around the window trim; top, sides and bottom (under the sill).  I also went along the thresholds of the doors (you know, the part you step on when coming through the door).  No more drafts – or at least significantly reduced.  Drafts make the room (s) feel colder which might lead you to turn up the heat.  And, although you don’t feel it, you also lose the cooling effect of the air conditioning in the summer.   I think the average cost of good caulking at the local diy center is in the $5-$7 dollar range.

Insulation (basement):  Admittedly, this is a larger project, but also one that can be done little by little when using the roll kind.  I think that a roll of insulation is in the $30 range, depending on what you get.  Honestly, most of my insulation came free – I mentioned to friends and family that this was a project and was amazed at the “donations” of left over insulation from their own projects, not to mention some left over from my previous home.   If you have a basement, there is a space between the top of the wall and the floor above.  (If you are like me, you have to remove the ceiling tiles to see it).  It is usually between each joist (I think I got that term right.)  This space is a pretty big energy waster and should be filled in with insulation.  It really doesn’t take that long to do and you don’t have to be “perfect” with your cuts, as you can always stuff a little more in to close the gaps.   This is also something that doesn’t have to be done all at once – I did mine over a few weekends as I had extra time to spare, but really could have done in inside of a day.   I didn’t get this completed until this spring – but I do notice a difference in my energy bill and the temperature of the floor above by the walls.

Duct Work Tape (sorry don’t know what else it is called).  This is a special, silver colored tape that you put over the seams in your duct work and outside of the furnace.  Basically, anywhere you see a seam.  Kinda like taping a tear in a piece of paper.  This tape is designed for the heat of the system – you can’t just use any ‘ol tape.  Good news is that it easy to use and isn’t expensive.  I may have used a whole role and it cost me in the $10 range.  What it does is stop air leaks at the seams.  This makes your heating/cooling system more efficient, as air is directed to your rooms instead of lost in the basement ceiling.  Doing this has proven twice now (old home and new one) to be a big energy saver – and the rooms have a more even heating and cooling.

I’ll add a few more tips and things I’ve done in my next post, along with some cost savings that I’ve seen.

You might also see a few more posts weekly from me – I hope that is ok.  To help grow my little business and the blogging effort, I entered into a challenge to post more.   If you have subject ideas that fit with my overall business and site, please feel free to suggest some.

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The Porch Redo

I think I’ve finally finished the front porch redo.  Ok, as with a long-held, and borrowed, motto about not letting excellent get in the way of good enough — I’m considering it ready for prime time.

We purchased a foreclosed home so I’ve been slowly trying to revamp the front of the house.  I live on a corner and was tired of  ducking every time someone drove by.  I have a nice sized porch, but it was rather blah looking with no character, except for the overgrown bushes!  Not the image I want.


The trellis and bench

I wanted to add some height to the porch, so I started with an old, rather rusty trellis.  Then I pulled in a wrought iron bench that was also in need of a redo.   This was great, as neither cost me anything, they were items I already had so I think of it as recycling them.   Next came deciding on colors.   In keeping with my frugal nature, I have a good amount of paint from previous projects.   While I could reuse one or two for an accent color, I did discover that a trip to the local home improvement store was in order.  Out I came with 3 quarts of paint.  Two for the current project and one for a future project (hey, I was there and I consider it gas and time saved).  I also purchased some throw-away brushes.   Total cost was about $18.00.

porch redo2

I painted the trellis a metallic aged copper, it looks great, but I’ll talk more about my thoughts on that in a minute.   On to deciding the colors for the bench.   I decided on an almond for the bench seat and trim, with an orange for the back inset.  I pulled in the copper to tie the two together.  When I got done and took a look at the porch, the front door was screaming for help.  You can see it in the corner of the photo above – it was really faded and yucky.  So I gave that a redo with the copper and I think it looks great.

porch redo photo

pull it together

The finished project:


Now, about that copper trellis — I can’t help but notice that it fades into the brick a little too much.  I’m at a loss as to what to do, so I thought I’d open it up for suggestions.   Any thoughts on improving the trellis?  Use the comments box to let me know.

Oh, and by the way, the wooden chair is slated for a redo in the near future.  I plan to make it match the mailbox.

This was a great project.  It had a few too many rain delays, but I got to involve my daughter (who loves to paint), I got to recycle some hardscape items as well as old paint and the whole (porch) project probably cost me about $12.00.   And I’m so much happier with how my porch looks.

Now to speed up getting the bushes tamed!


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