Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quick and Easy (and Cheap) Green Changes

With the rising cost of fuel and the decline of household income running rampant throughout the country lowering your energy consumption is not only smart, but good for mother nature.

I have a tendency to be an all or nothing kind of gal, thinking that energy efficient changes should look like switching my wood-burning fireplace with a fuel efficient gas fireplace (a $3-5,000 investment). This thinking causes me to stop dead in my tracts. So when I ran across this list of simple changes that are good for your pocketbook and earth, I had to share.

Here are some inexpensive ideas to help you green up your home!

Weather strip doors and windows

Set the thermostat to 78 or higher in the summer and 68 or lower in the winter

Leave clipped grass as mulch for a greener lawn

Use natural lighting in lieu of light bulbs

Open windows during the cooler part of the day

Close fireplace damper when not in use

Insulate heating and cooling pipes

Wash only full loads (clothes and dishes)

Cover pots and pans while cooking

Place a brick in the toilet tank which will cause it to use less water

Clean dryer filter after each use

Use microwave versus the oven (adverse to microwaves, this might be tough for me.)

Use shower time efficiently

Use curtains/blinds to insulate from the outside air (cold or hot)

Use natural insect repellents such as ladybugs, bees and butterflies

Mow in the cooler part of the day-less evaporation of fuel saves on the carbon dioxide fumes released

Use products such as glass, metal utensils, cloth napkins and table clothes (good bye paper plates)

Buy items with the least amount of packaging and the highest percentage of product

There are lots of great websites that concentrate on education, product awareness and consumer tips. Here are a few I refer to often:

National Geographic/Green Guide

Good Housekeeping/Green Living Ways to go Green


Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur

Monday, March 7, 2011

As we grow up, so do our homes

I believe that as we mature, we become more ourselves. I believe houses do as well.

For me, the most beautiful homes are not the ones that are stunningly designed and perfectly executed, but rather reflects the true personality of its owner. A home that has developed over time, whether reflected in the gardens, the furnishing and accessories, or even in the layout is much more interesting, not only to the eye but to the soul.

I also believe that a home worn (with love) over time holds more personality than one with perfect surfaces, void of squeaks and creaks, glazing on the windows, dents or dings, pencil marks on the door jam to record the children's growth, or a stain or two on the kitchen counter.

Clients Dirck and Diana put their personality into every corner of their home, layering family heirlooms, collectibles and original art that showcase who they are.

It is a beautiful gift to be invited into someone's home because it is, and should be, a deeply personal reflection of who they are.  I understand the desire to follow trends, to shop the one-stop stores where items fit together by the help of a national designer. And as a foundation, perhaps that's ok. A good start even. But jumping off there is critical. A home that weaves your interests, your background, family history and lives the life of its residents throughout its four walls is so important to the success of making it yours and therefore, making it special.

Which gets back to the maturing process and coming to know ourselves. This step must occur first before we can begin to layer our lives throughout the halls we call home.

As a real estate agent my duty is to tour all new listings that come on the market in the areas I serve. Because of this I see anywhere from 40-100 homes a week. The trend when marketing a home is to remove all personal items, replace furnishings and accessories with a bare minimum of the "current" (ok, I will just say it - Pottery Barn) look, and neutralize the color palette. But no one, and I repeat, no one lives the way you see these well staged and well prepared homes. We simply cannot live void of personal nick knacks and daily life 'things'.  So when I walk into a home that has been de-cluttered (a good thing for all of us to attempt on a quarterly basis) but maintains its own personal style, my heart soars and I want to sit down and feel the home. My clients feel the same.

This is no different than the house you are living in now. I personally wrestled with this for awhile, thinking that every table top had to be void of items, every room minimal in style. But I finally gave myself permission to surround myself with the items that bring me joy and that reflect where I have been and more importantly who I have become. For what it's worth, I give you permission too. 

For those of you following this blog and for those who had fun voting for the best motion picture from my last blog posting "And the Oscar goes to..." the winner of the drawing is Polly. Polly won a gift certificate to Mamma Melina Ristorante and Pizzeria and four movie tickets. Congratulations Polly! Thanks for playing everyone!

Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur