Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - July 2015

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

bedroom cleaning tips eco-friendly bedrooms Make the perfect bed sustainable bedding

5 Tips for Making the Perfect Bed

Bed2Considering we spend almost a third of our lives in bed, it should be the most luxurious, comfortable place in our home.  Yet, most people don’t even make their beds every day.

As cleaning professionals, we are big believers in making your bed–not only will it give you the sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning, but if you make it right, it will be the perfect sanctuary after your long day.

Here are 5 tips for making the perfect bed:

Tip #1 –Buy nice sheets.  Oh, yes, we love the wrinkle-free sheets with high thread counts, but before you put those sheets on the bed, give them a quick ‘safe wash’ by using a combination of baking soda and white vinegar or purchasing a natural laundry detergent.  Better yet, look for bedding made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton or bamboo.  Also, choose a natural-fill pillow—this will make a world of difference to those who suffer from allergies or asthma.

For an extra pop of freshness, spray your bed linens with a DIY eco-friendly linen spray.  Just add water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (we love lavender) to a spray bottle.

Tip #2 – Instead of a fitted sheet use, a flat sheet! Tuck a flat sheet around the mattress and avoid the stretching, pulling and eyesore of the fitted sheet.  The flat sheet provides a clean, crisp look to the bed just like you see in hotels.

Tip #3 – Place your top sheet with the finished side facing down. That way the patterned side is up when you turn the sheets down.  Plus you’ll also feel the softest part of the sheet while you’re in bed!

Don’t want to use a top sheet, but want the feel of one? Stuff your comforter inside a light linen duvet cover and the duvet cover will do the job of a sheet without getting untucked and bunched under the blankets.

Tip #4 – Top off your bed with a fluffy duvet (some great options from The Company Store) and fold the flat sheet over the top edge of the duvet so the pretty pattern can show.  Or simply fold the duvet in half at the end of the bed. Be sure to buy the right size comforter to fit inside the duvet cover. You have to actually measure your duvet cover and buy an insert two or three inches larger than your comforter.   Duvet covers are nice, because the cover can be easily taken off and washed without having to wash the big large comforter.

Tip #5 – Decorate with pillows!  But the key is to create a triangular shape – put three large pillows at the back against the headboard or wall.  Then the next row should have your two standard sleeping pillows, and then add your small decorative pillows right in front. Be sure to buy a bolster pillow. This is a round tube like pillow that fits great between the gaps of the other pillows and can prop you up while you sitting in bed.

If you follow these tips, you’ll not only have the perfectly made bed each and every day, but you’ll be slipping into your own luxurious retreat.

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Sarah

 

 

Office Organization Things to do to stay organized Workplace Productivity

5 Things to Do Before You Leave the Office

259 - 17 September: The start of a long day!

Rather than surfing the Internet or chatting with colleagues while you’re waiting for the five o’clock bell to ring at the end of this workday, take some time to organize your office and prepare for tomorrow by following these quick tips:

Organize Your Desk
Place all other paperwork where it belongs (click here for some easy-to-use filing suggestions) and clear your desk of any clutter.  Toss the garbage, put pens back in their places and straighten the desk accessories.  Starting with a clean desk each and every day will help you get more work done, rather than spending your time looking for things. Click here for tips on having an organized desk.

 

Clean Your Inbox
According to a report released a few years ago by The Radicati Group, Inc., a technology market research firm, the typical corporate email user sends and receives at least 110 messages daily.   How many emails are sitting in your inbox? Hundreds? Maybe thousands? Set up folders to keep emails organized (and keep you from missing important ones!) and spend a few minutes at the end of each day cleaning out your inbox and folders.

 

Plan for Tomorrow
Take a quick look at your calendar to see what appointments, phone calls and meetings you have set for the next day.  Do you have everything you need for each activity?  Take time to write down addresses, call-in numbers and names of clients in addition to pulling together the materials you will need for each call or appointment.  This is also a good time to coordinate other tasks on your list—can you drop off the postcards to be printed on the way to your 9:00 AM meeting?  Do you drive right by the office supply store on your way back to the office?  Add those tasks to your To Do list (see below)

 

Make a To Do List
Grab a notebook (or one of these great note taking apps!) and just start brain dumping everything that needs to be done. Make sure you are very detailed with this list—giving as much information as possible so you aren’t left scrambling to find things the next day.  Prioritize the list, making sure you leave enough time to tackle more detailed tasks (like your expense report) and moving tasks that you know can wait.  Crossing everything off of a To Do list is a great way to keep your mental space clean and healthy.  Want the To Do list making task to go even faster?  Create a TOMORROW folder for your inbox and on your desk for anything that pops up that needs to be tackled the next day.  At the end of the day, simply go through those folders to make your To Do list.

 

Make Copies
We suggest making an electronic copy of the next day’s agenda and tasks and emailing it to yourself and a colleague/assistant.  If you find yourself stuck in traffic or are unable to make it into the office, you will still have the contact information and details needed to get the job done—even if getting it done means calling a colleague to step in for you.

 

Talk to us:  What is the one thing you do before you leave the office?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Darren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craft Projects for Kids DIY Home Decor Recycled Art Recycled Materials

3 Recycled Art Projects for Kids

scrap-fabric-garland-3The middle of July is just about the time when you begin hearing “I’m bored”.

If you are looking for new things to do to keep the kids occupied during these final weeks of summer vacation, we have three kid-friendly art projects using recycled materials.  Not only will you be busting the boredom blues, but you will be teaching your kids the importance of recycling and making something beautiful for your home (no macaroni frames here!).

 

Mosaic
A mosaic is a piece of art that is created from small pieces of materials and assembling them together to create a new masterpiece.  The material that can be used can be anything you have around the house.  Buttons, bottle caps, broken tiles, or broken mirrors can all be used to make pretty mosaics.

You’ll want to get a piece of wood for the base of your mosaic.  Spread the grout down onto the wood and arrange the mosaic pieces to form a design. Cover the entire mosaic with grout to fill in the spaces between the pieces.  Use a damp sponge to wipe the grout off the mosaic pieces.  Let the mosaic dry until it hardens.  Hang your new artwork on the wall and admire your work!

 

Decorate a Box
This art project serves two purposes – it’s pretty and functional!  Find an empty cereal box or a laundry detergent box to decorate. Cut a hole into one side of the box.  The size of the hole will depend on what you’re going to use your new organizer for – will you use it to hold the mail, magazines or your office papers?  Now find some old wallpaper, wrapping paper or paper grocery bags (which you can then decorate yourself) to cover the box. In order for the paper to stay adhered to the box, use heavy-duty glue.

If you’d like to embellish your box even further, use hot glue to add old buttons, ribbons or toys to the box for decoration. Now you have the perfect organizer that is not an eye sore. Another bonus?  Since your kids helped make it, they will be more likely to actually use it.

 

Festive Permanent Corner Garland
Who says you can’t liven up a corner of your house with garland even if you’re not having a party? For this simple art project idea from Clever Thursday all you need is scrap fabric, long ribbon or lace, scissors and a ruler.

Measure a length of ribbon and tie loops at each end for hanging.  Next, cut your fabric into 3” strips of varying lengths (we like everything from 14” to 18”). Fold your fabric strips in half and make your “fringe” by cutting from the bottom (where the fabric is open) and stopping an inch or two from the top (where the fabric is folded).

Place the fabric behind the ribbon you cut earlier.  Make a loop with the top of your fabric strip and pull the two fringe sides through it keeping your ribbon in the middle.  Repeat until you have a long garland.  Use adhesive putty, double sided tape or thumb tacks to hang.

This garland looks great hanging in the corner of a playroom or across the headboard in your child’s room.

 

With a little imagination, and a few supplies you most likely already have on hand, you can create a beautiful masterpiece to display in your home for years. Bring your kids together for a craft day this summer and create a new memory!

all natural ice cream eco-friendly desserts

3 Easy All-Natural Ice Cream Recipes

StrawberryIceCream

Love the planet and eat healthy with these natural ice cream recipes.

It’s summer!  What goes better with summer than ice cream?

There is no need to give up your love of the planet—and your love of eating healthy—in order to enjoy this summertime treat.  Look for socially responsible brands such as Ben & Jerry’s or Stonyfield (both brands use high-quality ingredients and are focused on sustainability) or make your own.

Making your own ice cream is not only a healthier and more eco-friendly option, but it brings family and friends together.  What’s better than that during the summer?

Head to your local farmers market and pick up fresh fruits and other ingredients, look for organic dairy options (visit LocalHarvest.com for a list of possible local farms) and get yourself an ice cream maker (we love this stainless steel version from Cusinart).  That’s all you really need in order to enjoy one of these 3 easy-to-make options*:

 

Simple Strawberry Ice Cream
Ingredients
1 pound strawberries
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar

Directions: Wash and trim the strawberries, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place half of the sliced strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree. Set aside both sliced and pureed strawberries. Combine cream, milk, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a large bowl. Add the strawberry puree and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until completely cool. While the cream mixture is chilling, dice the remaining sliced strawberries into smaller pieces to mix into the ice cream. Pour the cooled cream mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Towards the end of the process, stir in the diced strawberries. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 more hours before serving. Don’t like strawberries? Try peaches or blueberries instead!

Eco-It-Up:  Instead of traditional bowls, why not reuse mason jars or other containers you are no longer using?  Not only is this a great upcycling option, but it adds a little bit more fun to the ice cream experience.


Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 chocolate sandwich cookies (we like Newman-O’s, part of Newman’s Own Organics’ cookie line)

Directions: Combine cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cool. Place the chocolate sandwich cookies into a gallon size plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or a rubber mallet, break up the cookies being sure to leave some larger pieces. Store the cookies in the freezer. Pour the cooled cream into an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is nearly finished freezing, pour the frozen cookie pieces into the machine, and mix thoroughly. (You will still have to stir it up a bit after the machine is done.) Store in an air tight container and freeze for an additional 2 hours. Simply want just vanilla ice cream? Just omit the cookies!

Eco-It-Up: Look for compostable, sustainable, disposable bowls and utensils.  Click here for some of the options we love.

 

Ice-Cream-Maker-Free Chocolate Ice Cream
Ingredients
1 3.5-ounce chocolate bar (click here for some great easy-to-find organic options)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream

Directions: Break the chocolate bar into chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Stir condensed milk into the chocolate. Set aside. Place the heavy cream in a large bowl and use an electric hand mixer to whip it until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until completely incorporated. Scrape mixture into an airtight container and cover. Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. Feel free to add chocolate chips or cookie crumbles to spice up your chocolate ice cream if you want!

 

Eco-It-Up:  What’s ice cream without some toppings?  Opt for natural and organic toppings such as fruit, nuts, and even crystalized ginger.  You can also get great chocolate toppings from brands such as Barefoot and Chocolate (almond coconut chocolate spread, yes please!) and make your own all-natural sprinkles using this recipe from Eating Vibrantly.

Find yourself with a big ice cream stain on your upholstery?  Use this tip from Stain Removal 101:  Wipe away any excess ice cream and sponge the spot with a mixture of 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid and two cups of cold water. Blot until the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat as needed.

*All of the recipes listed here were found at www.realsimple.com

 

image courtesy of Flickr CC/Joy

 

cleaning up before or after an event Home Cleaning Services why hire a home cleaning service

4 Life Moments That Require a Cleaning Service

CleaningSupplies

If you think a home cleaning service is good just for the weekly, bi-weekly or monthly clean, think again. Life is busy and some of our greatest life moments may be bringing on some of our greatest life stresses. Do not let cleaning be part of the stress.

Here are 4 life moments where a cleaning service can help you savor the celebration instead of sweating through the cleanup (or pre-clean!):

 

Pre and Post Party Cleanup
Nothing is better than a party—especially during the summer! If you are worried about how to prep your home before your guests arrive or are already thinking about the massive cleanup when guests leave, take that worry off your party “to do” by inviting us to your festivities. At GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning, we prep for parties, provide party support and pick up the resulting mess. From birthday celebrations to engagement parties to family reunions, whatever the occasion you can throw a great party and also enjoy it!

 

During or After Construction/Remodel
Two-by-fours. Plaster dust. Paint chips. Debris. No matter how small the remodeling project—or how good the contractor—your new space may be causing a major mess throughout your entire home. Even before the project is finished, our cleaning company will come into your home and work to keep it dust-free and healthy. When the project is over? Book us to restore your space to beauty and spotlessness.

 

Before Guests Arrive
While there may be many reasons why you are stressed at the thought of having houseguests in your home for a few days, cleaning your home shouldn’t be one of them. Even if it’s been months since the last time you did a deep clean of your home, we will come in and do a customized, deep dive cleanse that will leave your home clean and fresh for your houseguests. After you guests leave, give us a call to come back in and do a re-fresh.  This is especially great if one of your “guests” happened to be of the four-legged variety.

 

Give as a Gift
Your friend just had a baby. Your sister just took on a new job. Your mom is home from the hospital. There are many life moments when we not only want to celebrate with our friends and loved ones, but we want to give them something that will be useful. Instead of another trinket or food basket, consider giving house cleaning as a gift. From one home cleaning to 10 4-hour services, our gift cards are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

 

Talk to us: What life moment do you think deserves the touch of a cleaning service?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Susy Morris

 

Apps for the office Note taking apps Use less paper

Get Rid of Paper: 4 Great Note Taking Apps

notetakingapps

In an effort to stop using so much paper, we wanted to share with you some of the best online note taking apps we have found.  From the very sophisticated Evernote to the very simple Simplenote, here are 4 apps you can begin using that will keep your thoughts organized and your paper consumption minimal.

 

Evernote
One of our favorite note taking tools, Evernote is one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet and computer.  You can create lists, write notes, clip articles, snap photos and seamlessly share not only between your devices but with other people.

Favorite Task We Manage:  Highlighting and adding notes to PDFs just like we would do if we printed out a hard copy.

 

Microsoft OneNote
Remember those notebooks you had in school—one for each subject?  Microsoft OneNote is like having digital versions of each notebook which is great if you are working on multiple projects.  In order to share across devices, each device must have Microsoft Office installed.

Favorite Task We Manage:  You can send emails to a OneNote email address and it will add them into a specified notebook.

 

Simplenote
If you really don’t need to insert images or make notes on PDFs, checkout Simplenote.  Just like the name suggests its simple—you simply write down your thoughts and it’s done.  As your collection of notes grows, you can search them and keep them organized via tags and pins.  And, just like the other apps, you can share notes with other people.

Favorite Task We Manage:  Creating a one-word search and seeing all of our notes that contain that word pop up onto our screen.

 

Penultimate
This handwriting app for iPad combines the natural experience of pen and paper with the power of Evernote’s sync and search.  Using a multitude of colors, you can write notes by hand or make sketches as well as separate notes into groups or notebooks and share with others.

Favorite Task We Manage:  We can turn our sketches into PDFs before we share with others.

 

Talk to us:  What is your favorite note taking app and/or online platform?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Johan Larsson

 

Make Rental Space Feel Like Home Rental Space Rental Space Decorating Summer Rentals

5 Things to Make a Summer Rental Feel Like Home

pillow and throw

Whether you are spending the summer cozied up in a city apartment or headed to your month-long rental at the beach, you will want to make the space you are renting feel like home.

Here are 5 things that will make your rental house feel like a home:

 

Extra Pillows and Throws
In addition to bringing along your own bed pillow and linens, toss in some extra pillows and throws for your couch and sitting areas.  We love these fun eco-friendly pillows from All+Modern (we’re especially fond of the “Be Nice or Leave” print) and these Eco Chevron throws from WayFair.  This is a great way to add a pop of color to a neutral space as well as make your space feel more comfy.

 

Books/Magazines/Board Games
With all of our technology options, we sometimes forget the simple items that instantly make us feel like home—and will keep you busy should the weather not cooperate or you just need a break from the action.  In addition to grabbing your favorite magazines and books, pick up some coffee table books that represent the area you are visiting—adding your own commentaries and stories in the margins as you step out into your adventure. Want to make the next renters feel welcome?  Leave your book of commentaries on the coffee table for their perusal.

 

An Herb Garden
Create a one-pot herb garden that can easily sit on your rental porch or patio.  All you need is “one big pot, some potting soil and a few herb plants,” suggests this great tutorial from Apartment Therapy.  Having your own herb garden will encourage you to do more cooking from home (explore new local farmers’ markets!) and can even add a fresh scent to your new space (we love tossing sprigs of rosemary or clove in simmering water).

 

Area Rugs
“In fact, this is a MUST on the rental to-buy list,” says TheDIYPlayBook.com.  “If you have ugly stained carpet or scratched hardwood floors you can cover those suckers up with a nice area rug of your choice.”  In addition, area rugs will be more comfortable on your feet and can absorb noise—a great way to be a good neighbor should you be living in the apartment above another renter.

 

Create a Collection
Wherever your summer rental space may be, there is certainly something you can collect that will also make your indoor space feel a bit more personal.  Shells from the beach or rocks from your mountain hikes can be put into a glass vase or bowl and displayed on tables and shelves.  Living in the city?  Frame playbills from musicals or take pictures from places you visit and create a collage.  Don’t forget to take your collections with you when you leave–giving you the perfect vacation memory.

 

 

 

Talk to us:  What is the one thing you always bring you with you when you travel?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Aimee Ray

 

 

 

 

All-Natural Bug Repellant Eco-Friendly Bug Spray Mosquitoes

DIY All-Natural Mosquito Repellants

SprayBottle

 

Headed to a backyard BBQ or picnic in the park this July 4th weekend?  While you are making the list of all the things you want to take with you (be sure to checkout our latest e-newsletter for ideas!), don’t forget insect repellant.  With all the rain we have had this season, we are seeing more and more mosquitoes joining us for our outdoor fun and wanted to share some of our favorite DIY all-natural mosquito repellants.

 

Essential Oil Bug Spray via Wellness Mama
Ingredients:
Essential Oils (we recommend eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary or clove)
Natural Witch Hazel
Distilled or Boiled Water
Vegetable Glycerin (optional)

Directions:
Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be.

 

Coconut Oil Lotion via Inhabitat (great for kids!)
Ingredients:
Coconut Oil
Peppermint, Lavender, or Clove Essential Oils

Directions:
Mix the 1/3 cup of coconut oil with 15 drops of your preferred essential oil.  Slather on arms, legs, and other body parts exposed to the wild. If you’re using this on small children and they happen to get it in their mouths, it won’t taste great, but it won’t do them any harm.

 

Vodka Spray via Little House in the Suburbs
Ingredients:
Vodka (non-flavored)
Aloe Vera Juice
Favorite Conditioning Liquid (soybean, olive, castor, etc.)
Essential Oil Blend (we like lavender and citronella)

Directions:
In a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of vodka, 2 tablespoons of aloe vera juice, 2 teaspoons of conditioning liquid and 1 ½ teaspoons of your essential oil blend.
Shake before each use.   You will want to reapply every 30-minutes or so.  You can create your own blend, or purchase an oil blend that specifically targets mosquitoes.

 

Garlic Mosquito Repellant via WiseBread
Ingredients:
Minced Garlic
Mineral Oil
Lemon Juice

Directions:
Mince a few cloves of garlic then cover with mineral oil. Allow it to sit for at least 24 hours. Next you take a teaspoon of just the oil and mix it with 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Strain through a cheesecloth then pour into a spray bottle. Shake before each use.

 

Click here for even more ideas on how you can keep bugs at bay this summer.

 

Talk to us:  What is your favorite outdoor activity this summer?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Roger H. Goun