I was compensated for this post as a Filtrete Healthy Home Ambassador, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Are you in full spring cleaning mode yet? I sure am. I just spent the past weekend decluttering and donating stuff to Goodwill. I have been collecting stuff from around the house to sell on Craigslist or take to consignment shops but they sat around for about a month so that was my clue to just donate them and be done with it. What a relief! Now I can get down to the nitty gritty and really clean and freshen things up for spring. The house feels stuffy and depressing towards the end of winter and with a few warm days last week I am so OVER cold weather. I am ready to throw the windows open and let spring in with full abandon.
Spring is about renewal and rebirth…a fresh new start. So it is no wonder that we all get that itch to clean, redecorate, and otherwise bring some of that spring magic inside the home. Here are five ways to capture some of that spring freshness…
1. Open Windows and Doors – Let the fresh air in. Did you know that the EPA says that the air inside your home can be 2-5 times worse in quality than what is outdoors? Yikes! Freshening indoor air is such a simple and easy step and so effective. If you are worried about bugs just make sure all your windows and storm doors have functioning screens. Now is a good time to repair any that have holes. Doing this does wonders for the quality of indoor air. If it gets too warm then open them for 5-10 minutes only, a couple times day or do it at night when temperatures dip.
2. Use Natural Air Fresheners – According to the EPA, air fresheners release Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs into the air so don’t buy those nasty plug in fresheners or the ones you spray. Scented candles and incense may contain particulates, soot and chemicals that end up in the air and in your lungs. These also only provide temporary relief from odors by masking them, not getting rid of them. I suggest using essential oils to scent the home via diffuser or making scented carpet freshener with baking soda and essential oils. Try a Lemon + Lavender blend for a spring time boost!
3. Bring Plants Inside – Now is a great time to bring in some potted bulbs (hyacinth, daffodils, and tulips) or some regular old houseplants that will help freshen air and remove odors. Try English Ivy, Pothos, and Spider plants. Cut flowers in mason jars also make you feel at peace and ready to welcome spring with open arms.
4. Use Fans For Air Circulation - Ceiling fans as well as strategically placed box fans can help move the air around and create cool, cross ventilation.
5. Change Your Air Filter – If you have a central AC/Furnace unit you are supposed to change filters every quarter. So now that winter is behind us it is time to replace our current filter before we have to turn on the A/C. A good one for spring is the Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter (1200 MPR). Don’t mask odors or use fresheners that make the problem worse, get rid of odors. This is the most effective filter for reducing odors from sources such as pets, tobacco, cooking, mildew, etc. it is 65 times more effective than carbon filters. Also important for this time of year is the fact that it helps capture airborne allergens like pollen, mold spores, dust mite debris, pet dander, and smog. It lasts for 3 months, right up until it is time to change it for Summer. Find a location for Filtrete filters at FindMyFiltreteFilter.com.
I decided to change mine just a day or so ago. Ew! I like to change them with the change of each new season but we fell behind schedule when our furnace was replaced mid Fall. It was seriously gross and made me horrified to think we could be breathing that stuff!
If you are looking to freshen up even more this spring you may be interested in the Filtrete Healthy Home Remodel Contest on Facebook. You will need to “Like” the page, go to the giveaway tab and enter your essay (1,000 words or less) about why your home is worthy of a healthy home remodel.You can submit two photos supporting your essay. The grand prize is pretty awesome…Mike Holmes from HGTV will choose a winner and they will receive $30,000 worth of home inspections, repairs, and renovations by a Holmes Group approved contractor. Four other first prize winners will get $500 towards renovations. It ends June 30, 2013.
Learn more: Twitter / Web Site. The web site offers an e-newsletter with reminders to change your filters. If you commonly forget, it might be a good idea to subscribe and get those reminders!
Wishing you a wonderful spring!!
Cleaning the kitchen is one of those things that I know needs to be broken down into daily tasks but an actual plan of action seems to elude me. I always seem to get the bare minimum done… aka cleaning the counters so I can prepare the day’s meals or loading/unloading the dishwasher so we have clean dishes to eat off of. But cleaning the spray off the backsplash and stove, wiping down the walls, or cleaning up stray peas underneath the kitchen table… forget it! This year I totally planned to hire someone to clean the kitchen for me 2-3 times a month but contributing to our retirement accounts before the deadline has taken precedence. It’s always something. Even though I LOVE the idea of having outside help, and I DO hire someone a couple times a year, I really struggle with forking over money for something I can do myself.
So I decided to sit down and write out a 30 day plan to see if I can tackle this once and for all. We shall see how it goes. I figure each item should only take 10-15 minutes tops and it will hopefully help me stay on top of the kitchen so it never gets so bad I decide that takeout sounds like the best option. I plan to hang this on the fridge and check things off each day after the relevant task is accomplished. I have my bottle of vinegar, castile soap, and tea tree oil at the ready. I also acquired a Neato Automatic Vacuum Cleaner that will clean of debris from my kitchen floor for me. I just have to remember to press the button at least once a day and “Cheese” as my son lovingly named him, will cleanup those stray peas for me. As a bonus he will even clean the rest of the first floor! I highly recommend a Neato if it is in the budget.
So…assuming that I can make the time to wipe down counters and do the dishes daily here are my 30 day tasks…
1. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
2. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
3. Mop floor
4. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
5. Deep clean and shine sink
6. Clean the trash can inside and out
7. Clean drawers and declutter counters
8. Mop Floor
9. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
10. Clean out the fridge/freezer (refrigerator water filters should also be changed upon expiration)
11. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
12. Clean under the fridge and stove
13. Mop floor
14. Deep clean and shine sink
15. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
16. Clean windows and sills
17. Clean out the pantry
18. Mop floor
19. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
20. Deep clean and shine sink
21. Deep clean stove
22. Wipe down interior of cabinets and pantry
23. Mop floor, wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
24. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
25. Dust light fixtures and vent covers
26. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
27. Deep clean and shine sink
28. Mop floor
29. Organize pots and pans
30. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
Do you have any advice or tips to offer?
This is week two of the attachment parenting discussion between Green Moms Weekly… all in honor of Attachment Parenting month. The theme of AP month 2011 is Families at Play so the question this week is: What are some fun, simple, activites that you engage your children with?
I have to admit that I am not terribly great at “play”. I do lots of stuff with my kids and I am a very attentive and involved parents but actually playing with my kids has always been a struggle for me. Sure we play around often with tickling or thumb wars, little stuff like that, but kicking a ball around in the yard, playing catch, or playing dolls or dinosaurs is not really something that comes easy to me. So for me it does take some planning to make sure my kids actually see me being a playful parent. Some of the ways we play are below…
Board Games – This kinda play is a-okay with me. We have lots of games and we play pretty often. It could be UNO or could be an educational game that teaches about medicinal uses for herbs. Its all good! My husband, my two older kids, and I all play online games as well. Hubby plays with our oldest son and my daughter and I often play together as well.
Car Games – Long drives are a great time to play as well… SlugBug (with no hitting), I Spy, the license plate game. We love them, they give us an opportunity to play, and they keep kids occupied.
Nature Play- Every year we do a series of winter hikes put on by our local Metro Parks system. There are usually about a dozen or more and they are a great way to see every park in full winter glory and be together as a family. By playing nature identification games along the way and by encouraging everyone to compete against their own hike times it makes it more fun for everyone. We also go sledding a couple times a year. This year we plan to try a new adventure and go Snow Tubing at Mad River. Can’t wait!! If we can find some good, used equipment we would also like to start cross country skiing and snowboarding.
In the warmer months we play together at festivals and do other organized activities. Indoor and outdoor golf is something we all love. Mini golf as a family and the driving range with Daddy for my two oldest. My husband and son like to attend Big Game Day at a local paintball place too. Despite my aversion to be bruised from head to toe by paintballs, I have decided to attend the next one in the spring with them. It was important to my son to share his love of this game with both parents. So now I have to find some second hand fatigues and it is ON!
This past weekend we took the kids apple picking again and we had a blast running through the orchard rows and lifting the kids so they could reach the highest (and juiciest apples). It was also fun to kick errant apples out of the main walkway so no one would trip on them. This upcoming weekend we plan to push our kids around inside tractor tires at Pigeon Roost Farm.
Indoor Play – We have at least one hard core roller skate/roller blade enthusiast and it makes sense since both my husband and I skated several hours a day for most of of our childhoods and many of our dates were spent at skate parks. Taking the kids to roller rinks is fun for all. We are also lucky to have indoor water parks that can be used during any weather. Spraying each other with water, riding double on the lazy river, going down terrifying water slides and screaming, together … it is what occupied the latter half of this past weekend actually. For any Columbus locals who read, we went to Coco Key Water Resort at Cherry Valley Lodge. LOVED it! We actually live 5 minutes away from the Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park but CoCo Key has frequent specials and group buy deals. We just bought 5 more days passes to Coco Key yesterday (via a group buy site) that we will use around Christmas time.
Affordable Fun – I know some people hate group sites like Groupon and Living Social but we use these sites primarily to buy tickets for events and play opportunities. Water resort passes, tours at historic places, museum passes, mini golf, paintball 2 for 1 deals, skiing passes, etc. It makes it a lot easier to play when you can afford to do really fun stuff and these sites can make that possible for 50-60% off the normal prices.
So, that is how we get our play on… what about you? How do you play with your kids?
This post is part of Green Moms Weekly. Join yourself by blogging about the weekly question or read what other moms have to say including Rachel at Happy Green Babies (this is where you can join in), Carrie at Natural Moms Talk Radio, Terry at Green Choices for You, and Emily at The Crunchy Coach. Enjoy!
Healthy eating is such a subjective thing. Or is it? Everyone has their own ideas of what is healthy. Many swear by tofu and I think it is a bad idea. Others think that fat is the devil and I think no such thing. Can we ever agree? Well, I do happen to agree for the most part with Real Simple magazine’s list of 30 healthiest foods… not that they are the healthiest per say but it is a pretty good list of healthy foods. I thought it would be fun to go through their list and see how regularly my family is eating these foods.
1. Mushrooms – Eating these weekly. This week it was baby portabellas and oyster mushrooms.
2. Walnuts - Monthly at best. My kids eat them more than I do.
3. Peanut and Almond Butters – No peanut butter but we do have almond butter and sunflower seed butter. My kids eat some daily usually. I may have a spoonful once a week.
4. Quinoa – Used to eat this weekly but since going grain free I have eliminated it. I really miss it though!!!
5. Almonds – We used to make homemade almond milk several times a week but have fallen away from that now that we have local, fresh cow’s milk available to us. But we do have the almond butter.
6. Blueberries – Weekly. I put a small bit in our green smoothies and my 5 year old eats frozen blueberries like M&M’s. I had to go out this morning to buy some in fact, because I knew he would request them first thing. In the summer we will have fresh blueberry compote for breakfast a couple times a week.
7. Eggs – We eat about 2 dozen a week from our local farm delivery service. They are pastured eggs with deep orange yolks… yum!
8. Spinach – Weekly. I put at least a cup of spinach in our smoothies.
9. Wild Salmon – Yes, once a week usually.
10. Chicken Breast – Sometimes. Good on salads but I usually eat wings or drumsticks when I eat chicken, with the skin on.
11. Avocado – Not very often and in the summer only. My kids don’t like avocados much unless I mix it with cacao and make chocolate pudding. I want to eat more though.
12. Sweet Potatoes – Only in winter but we do have them a couple times a month during that time.
13. Barley – No
14. Whole Grain Pasta – No.
15. Oatmeal – No.
16. Skim Milk – Nope. I usually buy 2% or full fat. Unless it is in kefir or yogurt the kids are the only ones who drink it. Skim milk should not be on this list either.
17. Lentils – No, don’t like them much either.
18. Bulgar - Nope.
19. Sardines – On occasion.
20. Kiwi – A couple times a year maybe.
21. Olive Oil - Sometimes. We usually use coconut oil.
22. Kale – Weekly in smoothies. I alternate between kale, chard, collards, turnip greens, and wild greens.
23. Kidney Beans – No.
24. Chard – Weekly in smoothies.
25. Edaname – Nope.
26. Pumpkin – In the fall only.
27. Oranges – Weekly usually. The kids love them.
28. Non Fat Greek Yogurt – Yes to Greek yogurt, no to non-fat. I eat 2% or full fat Greek yogurt every single day, first thing in the morning. Once a week for my kids.
29. Broccoli - Weekly.
30. Black Beans – No.
I would add carrots, green beans, snow peas, more greens, blackberries, and coconut oil right off the top of my head.
How did you do? See anything you would remove from this? Or Add?
December was a short “school” month obviously so I do not have as much to report as far as cool new-to-me resources. But I do have a few.
I find that we are not using the Oak Meadow curriculum I bought. I guess even that is too structured for me. I think we are basically a mix of eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers and we tend to learn in units and based upon our interests. We don’t feel like tackling each subject every week (or month) or often times we want to incorporate those subjects into other ones and learn by doing. For some things I like textbooks and book reading and for others I like worksheets and labs.. history, math, science. Writing and spelling happen by doing the first three. So we have been using some of the resources below and using some more unconventional means of learning. We have been taking hikes a couple times a week and identifying birds, trees, and other aspects of nature. I signed my son up for Art lessons at a local studio, plan to enroll him in a gym class with personal trainer, and we visit the zoo or the science museum to see the exhibits, due sponsored activities, or take in the latest IMAX documentary. A documentary on The Great Lakes and one on Geckos is coming up. This week he is going to a Monster Truck Jam. I swear the kid knows all the trucks and drivers as well as what they have going on mechanically.
One interest lead unit we just completed lasted from November through December. My son wanted to study up on Bearded Dragons. He read library books about them, did Internet research, watched YouTube videos, and learned as much as he could about these reptiles. Then he did a display project all about them… what they eat, where they come from, the conditions in which they live, how to care for them ,ect.
Then we ended the unit by buying him a Bearded Dragon and the needed setup. The Bearded Dragon was a gift for doing such great research and he worked for and paid for much of the needed gear. My husband managed to get some great deals for him. The 20 gallon starter tank, lid, and UVB light were only $10 at an auction!
Meet Sammy… I have to say I was not anxious to bring a Bearded Dragon into the home but he/she is a cutie!
We have also taken a step beyond our unit study and my son has started (with my help) a blog all about Bearded Dragons. The education continues as he writes and makes videos for YouTube and his blog.
Homeschool is Cool Resources
History Odyssey: Ancients – We are loving this history curriculum. It essentially uses the books pictured at the top of this post… The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1:, and History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations, as well as several books we can get via the library. All of these resources are beyond excellent and can be used in conjunction without the History Odyssey curriculum but I like how it is presented and executed.
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History – This book gets its own section because it ROCKS! The photos are beautiful, the info is wonderful, and it has Internet links that accompany each section that you can explore for fun stuff and more info. The section on Ancient Egypt for example has links to a resource for helping you recreate an Egyptian board game that young Egyptian kids would have played. Also a link to a place where your child can type in their name and see how it is spelled in hieroglyphs. This book could be a stand alone curriculum!
Educaching – We haven’t tried this yet but it is on our too-get list. We do not have a GPS device as of right now but we have wanted one for awhile so we can start doing geocaching which is to use a GPS to find hidden caches. It has become a popular past time and this is the first curriculum to pop up that caters to the idea. It uses geocaching to teach math, science, and social lessons. Any curriculum that requires hiking and exploring sounds good to me!
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain – Good book alert! My son and I enjoyed this book as he read to us. William Dufris’s homey voice invites listeners to settle in for a favorite family story. As Jonathan’s mother plans for a family christening celebration, she realizes that only Aunt Emma’s pot is large enough to hold stew for 20 relatives and that only Jonathan can be spared from the farm work to fetch the cauldron. Dufris coordinates his pacing and mood to Jonathan’s trek over the mountain–speedy and jaunty as Jonathan sets off reciting his mantra “there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain,” poky as Jonathan stops to feed forest animals, and elongated and exaggerated as darkness falls. How alone IS Jonathan as he hides under the pot to wait for help?
Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time – Admittedly we don’t drive so much that we need to make travel learning a big concern. But travel fun is always good right? Once every other week we do usually make a trek up North to visit with grandparents so this book has been nice for ideas. Mostly it is full of games that you can play on the road like Backseat Spelling Bee or Highway Hangman… good stuff.
This article on Making Curriculum Work for You from the Weird, Unsocialized, Homeschoolers blog.