Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - October 2015

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

Carving Pumpkin Ideas Easy Halloween Decorations Halloween Things to do with pumpkins

Cool Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Halloween is fast approaching!  If you haven’t carved your pumpkin yet, we’ve got some fun, creative ideas for you!



Drill Holes!  Get out the power tools and literally drill holes into a pumpkin for a quick and easy design. Use just one size for a uniform look use multiple sizes for a fun and more whimsical look.





Cookie Cutter Pumpkin – if you have little kids that are not quite knife ready, let them pick out some cookie cutter shapes and have them place where they want the shape on the pumpkin and use a mallet to cut them out.





Village of Pumpkins – use several pumpkins to paint one black house onto the front of each pumpkins, then simple cut out only the windows of the houses. You now have your own little village!






Lantern Pumpkin – just like the village, with black paint, paint an image of a lantern on the pumpkin and cut out only the “glass” portion of the lantern (the part that would glow from the light). You have given a whole new meaning to the word Jack-O-Lantern.





Diorama – just cut a big hole out in the front of the pumpkin, and clean the inside of the pumpkin out. Then create a diorama inside – any scene you would like!








Mummy Pumpkin – Hollow out a white pumpkin and slice it horizontally.  Place the pieces back together, slightly skewed, holding them together with toothpicks. Glue on some coffee beans or brown M&Ms for the eyes and mouth.




Or forget the cutting all together and just decorate with paint and other accessories:

  1. Glow in the Dark Pumpkins – use glow in the dark paint to create any design you’d like.  Once the sun goes down your design will shine!
  2. FrozenLight blue paint, glitter, snowflake stickers and a crown on top and you’ve got yourself a Frozen themed pumpkin!
  3. Chalk – paint your pumpkin with chalkboard paint and decorate your pumpkin with chalk.  Your design could change every day – just wash off the chalk and start again with a new design tomorrow!
  4. Painted Pattern – use painters tape to create a design on your pumpkin (stripes, zig zags, or just to divide the pumpkin in half) then use a foam brush to paint two coats of acrylic paint onto the pumpkin. Wait at least 30 minutes between coats and after the second coat before you remove the paint.  If you don’t want the natural pumpkin color to be your second color, use a small paint brush to fill in with paint after you remove the tape.

No matter what you do with your pumpkins this year be sure to have fun and get creative!  Happy Halloween!

Talk to us:  Send us a picture of your pumpkin creation!

Eco-Friendly Things to Do in NYC Eco-Friendly Things to Do with Kids Make a Difference Day Make A Difference Day NYC

Helping Kids Make an Eco-Friendly Difference


This October 24th, millions of volunteers across the nation will unite with a common mission – to improve the lives of others. In its 24th year, Make A Difference Day is the largest national day of community service and is a great opportunity to not only improve the lives of others, but also our planet.  Here are some ways you and your family can make an eco-friendly difference this weekend:


Plant a Tree
MillionTreesNYC is a citywide initiative to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. This Saturday, October 24, is their Fall Stewardship Day. During the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. , in five different locations, (Alley Pond Park , Conference House Park , Inwood Hill Park, Marine Park, and  Pelham Bay Park – Hunter Island ) volunteers can help with forest and wetland restoration, planting and pruning trees, harvesting and propagating native seed and monitoring local wildlife. You can help make sure these natural resources continue to thrive and make NYC beautiful for many years to come. Click here for more information.


Donate Books
Don’t throw out those children’s books!  Have your child help you sort through your family’s bookcases and their own old reading materials to find a stack to share, then drop them off to the waiting room at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Medical Center. For more information, contact the Department of Volunteer Services at 718-283-3980, or call 718-283-7156 Monday-Friday from 9am-1pm to speak to the person in charge of book donations. You can also donate new books and magazines to other area children’s hospitals such as Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian (3959 Broadway, 212-305-2542) or the Komansky Center for Children’s Health of New York-Presbyterian at Weill Cornell Medical Center (525 E. 68th St., 212-746-4908).


Play in the Park
Partnerships for Parks helps New Yorkers work together to make neighborhood parks thrive. The organization has a diverse, growing network of dedicated park volunteers and groups and it provides opportunities for them to celebrate their parks, become more effective leaders in their communities, and work with government officials to affect decisions about their parks. There are various volunteer opportunities for all age and interest levels. For more information on how to get involved, visit online, call 212-360-1399, or email


Clean Out Your Closets
Second Chance Saturdays at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park are a great opportunity to donate your gently used clothing, shoes, and textiles. Enlist your kids in the process of cleaning out their closets and take unwanted clothing to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (Northwest entrance to Prospect Park) every Saturday, 8am-4pm. Visit here for more information.  You can also donate gently used clothing, shoes and textiles at GrowNYC Greenmarkets throughout the city. Click here for more information


Talk to us:  What will you and your family be doing to celebrate Make A Difference Day?


image from MillionTreesNYC
apples how to use apples non-edible ways to use apples the health and beauty power of apples

The Power of Apples


If you have recently gone apple picking, you’re in luck, because an apple a day really does keep the doctor away.  Apples have been used as a homeopathic health resource, food preservative and cleaning agent since ancient times.  Recently, researchers have found compounds in apples may prevent asthma, protect against cancer and even sharpen your memory.

So, go ahead and fill up on those apples you picked, but before the entire bunch is gone, try some of these projects:


Create Home Decorations
From dried apple garlands (the trick is to sprinkle the apples with cinnamon before dehydrating) to apple stamps to cute apple candle holders (float candles in water for a great party decoration), using apples in creative DIY ways can add so much to your fall home decorations.

Use in the Kitchen
According to, apples can actually accelerate the ripening of other foods and keep things fresh longer.  Place unripe fruits and vegies (i.e. bananas, avocados, tomatoes) into a paper bag with an apple and they will soon go from hard and bitter to soft and sweet.  This same trick works for softening hardened brown sugar.  It is also suggested you store cakes and baked goods with half an apple–the moisture of the apple will keep your pastries fresh.

Another little known kitchen trick:  If you’ve over salted your soup or sauce, just toss in a few apple slices into the pot, stir and remove before serving.

Add to Your Beauty Routine
The apple’s pectin is said to reduce inflammation and the appearance of fine wrinkles, making it an ideal addition to your beauty routine.  Simply grate a peeled and cored apple and apply to skin.  After 15 minutes, rinse with warm water.  You can turn this mixture into a facemask by adding one tablespoon of rolled oats, one teaspoon of yogurt and one teaspoon of honey.  Apply to face for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water.

Clean Your Home
Use apple cider vinegar as an all-around cleaning agent.  Use this powerhouse product to wipe down your digital devices, unstick scissors, remove candle wax and de-mildew your bathtub.  Visit for even more cleaning suggestions.  We suggest keeping a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar mixed with water underneath your kitchen sink for quick countertop cleans.

Get Healthy
Studies have found that smelling a green apple can reduce the intensity of a migraine and the plant compound quercetin (abundantly found in apples) seems to slow down the secretion of histamine, the chemical your body releases during an allergic reaction.  Want to improve the way you do sit ups?  Squeeze an apple between your thighs while doing crunches to improve your abdominal strength.


Talk to us:  How do you use your leftover apples?


image courtesy of flickr CC/Tom Gill



blankets Cold Weather Eco-friendly blankets

Eco-Friendly Blankets to Keep You Warm


Check out this list of eco-friendly blankets that will keep you warm.

The chilly fall nights have already arrived and those cold winter nights are not too far away. A great blanket is always crucial to making it through the winter–they can help you save money by keeping the thermostat down a degree or two and they also add some flair and style to your décor!

A quality blanket will last for years, but if you’re looking for something new, or want to stock up for your holiday guests, check out this list of eco-friendly blankets which will keep you warm no matter how cold it gets!

  1. The In2Green company started with two friends who had textile, design, and retail experience who wanted to make something beautiful and high quality out of recycled materials. Whether you decide on a Designer Eco-Throw, Textured Throw or Organic Cotton Cable Blanket, In2Green has it all! Today, the company continues to prove that upcycling is indeed possible – not only with blankets but many other products as well.
  2. If you’re looking for the classic cotton blanket, you’ll find it at Brahms Mount. This blanket features a herringbone pattern with hand-twisted and knotted rope fringe. The plush blanket comes in a rainbow of colors, all made with eco-friendly dyes. The natural fibers are pure and undyed which creates a clean, untreated finish right up to the final product. You can find the Cotton Herringbone Throw here.
  3. MadeInOregon is just that – a store that only sell things made in Oregon.  Started in 1975, they’ve built a reputation on selling only the highest quality products made, caught or grown locally in Oregon. Their Pendleton blankets are one of those items.  The washable, eco-wise wool is made of easy to care for wool fabric, using environmentally friendly and naturally renewable fiber.  See their full collection of over 40 different blanket patterns on their website here.
  4. Bambeco has several different types of throw blankets to choose from.  The company is proud to deliver high-quality products and creations using only reclaimed, repurposed, renewable, recycled, natural, or organic materials. Whether you decide on the Wool Plaid Throw, Vintage Kantha Quilt, Wool Stripe Throw, Rustic Linen Blanket, Cozy Cotton Blanket, or the Ombre Cotton & wool Throw, you won’t be disappointed in the quality, comfort or warmth Bambeco throw blankets will provide for this winter and the winters to come!

Talk to us:  Do you have a favorite blanket?  We’d love to see what you are using to keep you warm during chilly nights!


image courtesy of flickr CC
Fire Escape Plan Fire Prevention Week National Fire Prevention Day

How to Create a Fire Escape Plan


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire can spread quickly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds.  As we recognize the importance of fire prevention this Saturday during National Fire Prevention Day, we wanted to share some tips for how you can create your own fire escape plan.


Locate Your Exits
Do a quick walk through of your home and locate all possible exits and escape routes.  Try to find at least two ways out of each room and make sure all family members are able to escape from second floor rooms.  Create an actual floor plan that marks the exits as well as the location of each smoke alarm.  Visit the NFPA’s website to download their escape planning grid.  Make sure everyone understands the escape routes and procedures—especially small children.


Examine Your Outdoor Area
Security bars on windows or doors?  Make sure there is an emergency release device inside so they can be opened if needed.  Also, check to make sure you can clearly see your home number from the street—if not, consider installing new house numbers.


Choose an Outside Meeting Place
While you are outside examining your space, find a place outside that is a safe distance from your home where everyone can meet once they’ve escaped.  Choose a specific object such as a light post, mailbox or even a neighbor’s home to signify the location and mark it on your escape planning grid (see above).


Make Family Assignments
If there are young children, older adults or other family members with mobility limitations, assign someone to assist them in the event of an emergency.  If you have a heavy sleeper, you may want to assign someone to wake them up to ensure they don’t sleep through the alarm.  Assign a backup person too, just in case your designated person is not home during the emergency.


Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year.  A good rule of thumb is to coincide the drill with fall and spring time changes—which is also a good time to check your smoke alarms and make sure they are in good working order.  Make changes to the plan if necessary—especially if your household members or structure have changed.  If you do make changes, make sure all family members know the new plan.


Live in an apartment?  Checkout the FDNY checklist for additional areas of concern when creating your fire escape plan.


Talk to us:  Do you have a fire escape plan?  If so, how often do you have fire drills with your family?



Fall Outdoor Picnic Tips Outdoor Fall Activities NYC Picnic Tips

5 Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Fall Picnic


Just because the weather has turned cooler doesn’t mean you have to immediately move your outdoor plans inside.  Enjoy the crisp days of fall by hosting an outdoor fall picnic.

Here are 5 tips for hosting an outdoor fall picnic:


Location, Location, Location
You can head out of town to an autumn destination such as an apple orchard (TimeOut New York gives you some great options), or stay in the city and take in the beauty of fall at locations such as the East River in Astoria Park, Fort Tryon Park (the highest point in Manhattan) or Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (it also boasts some of the first trees to change color). If you don’t feel like moving too far from your home, just set up camp on your patio, porch or fire escape.


Reuse What You Have
No need to go out and purchase new picnic supplies, simply look around your home to find items that can serve as creative containers such as baking tins (make great plates or condiment holders), totes (easier to pack and carry than a picnic basket), cutting boards (great tray for keeping drinks steady on a rough surface) and mason jars (perfect for toting salads).    Consider using real silverware and cloth napkins—tying them up with twine and putting them in a small tin pail.


Bring Multiple Blankets
“While you might have gotten away with a big beach towel or a light throw for sunny, high-summer picnicking, the first signs of dewy fall weather call for a heavier-duty foundation,” suggests  Choose blankets with reinforced waterproof bottoms and toss in a few extras (of the softer variety) for bundling up while you eat.


Add Some Decorations
We don’t often think about decorations for our outdoor picnics, but nature gives us such great options in the fall!  Toss in a few gourds or pumpkins to make a centerpiece, bring along hay bales for seating, or simply gather up a handful of the beautiful leaves already on the ground and toss them over your blanket for an instant pop of fall color.


Serve with Style
Don’t skimp on style when serving your fall picnic fare. Set out cheese and fruit on a cutting board, put drinks in a small galvanized tub, and bring a hot beverage (or soup!) in an old-fashioned thermos.  We love this idea from Midwest Magazine: Instead of wasting money on small snack bags, buy snacks in bulk and transfer the items into rolled-down brown lunch bags. “Set the lunch bags on a tray for tied-together look.”  A great twist to your end-of-picnic dessert?  Create a caramel apple bar by having guests cut up an apple, drizzle it with caramel sauce and add their own toppings (house toppings in a muffin tin!).


Talk to us:  Favorite NYC location for hosting your own fall picnic?


image courtesy of flickr CC/Liz


family organization Junk Drawer Organization Organizational Tips

Tips for Organizing Your Junk Drawer



Junk drawers are wild and frightening places.  They are the “catch-all” for all the things you hardly use or don’t know what to do with and it can get messy and unorganized pretty quick.  Here are some tips on how to clean and organize your junk drawer and keep it that way:

  1. Dump everything out and purge!  Be realistic about what you are going to keep.  Recycle things when you can, but toss things that you don’t need or are never going to use! Finding things you want to keep, but they don’t belong in the junk drawer? Keep a bag or basket nearby for stashing misplaced items.  When you are done organizing, take the bag room to room and put these items where they go.
  2. Sort through the remaining pile from the junk drawer and group items by type. It helps to spread out all items on a kitchen table or counter–this way, you’ll be able to see everything at once.
  3. Plan your storage solution.  An organizing tray can help keep everything neat inside the drawer.  For smaller items like paper clips and rubber bands, a tray with small compartments like a muffin tin, ice cube tray or even a cutlery drawer tray can be used. Be sure to label the compartments so that everything finds its way to their new home in the future and the junk drawer stays organized.
  4. Store extension cords or phone cords by winding each cord loosely and placing each into a toilet paper tube and storing that in the drawer.
  5. Go through and re-organize your junk drawer on a regular basis. If you do this regularly, you’ll never have a messy junk drawer again. Perhaps take time to check the junk drawer every Sunday after you read the paper, or every month when you pay the mortgage?  That way you stay on top of it.

Most junk drawers eventually become too big of a mess to ignore. If you take the time to organize it, and keep it organized it will never be a problem again.  Then hopefully, you’ll think twice before throwing that odd item into the junk drawer and recreating the nightmare!


Talk to us:  What is the strangest thing you have found while organizing the junk drawer?



image courtesy of flickr CC/Jeanne


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