How to Maintain Houseplants

How to Maintain Houseplants

Feeling like you need to bring some nature into your home but don’t know how to properly maintain and keep plants alive? I know the feeling. I used to have a lot of indoor plants, but as I moved throughout the years, the plants didn’t. Let’s explore how to maintain houseplants.

Light – Consider what type of light you have in the areas you would like to add some greenery. Some indoor plants thrive in sunlight, whereas others prefer dim interiors. Matching required light to specific plants will set you up for healthier plant growth.

Quality Potting Soil – Just like we feed our bodies good nutrients, the soil for your plants needs to also be of good quality. Buy potting soil at a garden or nursery store.

Water – This is an area where many of us mess up. Certain plants love to be watered frequently, but there are a vast number of houseplants that do not require a lot of water to thrive. Do research to learn how best to water the plants you bring into your home.

Fertilizer – As you water plants, nutrients come out of the soil. Therefore, you will need to fertilize the plants regularly. If you have a flowering plant, fertilize once a month. When plants are not growing as much, typically in the winter, you don’t need to fertilize. If you see the plant is starting to change color and is dropping leaves, you may want to add some fertilizer.

If you do not have a green thumb try to grow one of these 30 indoor plants that may be impossible to kill.

Photo: Unsplash

Adjusting to the New Normal

Adjusting to the New Normal

COVID-19 has changed the way people live their lives beyond the adjustment to having to work from home and homeschooling. Even the way we shop for groceries and every day essentials has changed. These changes are likely here to stay, even if the COVID-19 crisis ends. Here are things you can consider doing to adjust to life in the “new normal.”

Consolidate Shopping – If you are trying to avoid multiple exposures during the week, how can you consolidate your shopping and errands? As we all know it is better to get all your errands done in one day to save you time and also gas. Now this has become even more important so that you are only out of your home once a week to do your errands. Plan what needs to be done such as grocery shopping, drug store pickup, dry cleaning, and post office mailing; then make your list and map out the best route to enable you to go to all these places in one trip.

Preparing Personal Protection – Have you stocked your car, your purse, and your home with masks, hand sanitizer and in some cases gloves? Make sure you have a supply of each of these items available for ready use. I personally have a pile of masks near my door, so I remember to grab one and put it on before leaving the house. I also have a few in my car in case I forget to grab and wear one on the way out of my house

Utilizing Delivery Services – If you are more comfortable staying in your home, have you considered using delivery services? Most grocery and drug stores are offering both curbside pickup and delivery services. This is one way to limit your exposure. The downside to this, though, is that you may not be able to pick out the type of fresh vegetables you want, such as being able to select green bananas over yellow ones as you may have done when you are in front of the bananas. As long as you can accept this, it really is a great alternative to shopping in person. Restaurants are also offering the same options, so consider this if you crave your favorite meal. Patronizing restaurants – if your budget allows – is helping to keep these establishments in business.

Remaining Safe – It is without question that the top priority is to stay safe at all times. Wearing a mask whether it is mandated or not will not only keep you safe but also keep others around you safe. Washing your hands often with soap and water, and when that isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. Wiping down frequently touched doorknobs and other surfaces with disinfectant will be another way to limit exposure. Of course, socially distancing whenever out as well as limiting the number of people you are in contact with has proven to keep us safe. It is your comfort level that will dictate how you act, but do listen to the CDC and follow their guidelines.

We are all human, and there is a lot on our mind these days… therefore, give yourself a break as you adjust to this new normal. We are learning as we go along and training ourselves to be as careful as we can. Stay safe and as healthy as you are able.


How to Keep Your Car Organized

How to Keep Your Car Organized

We are certainly driving our cars less during this COVID-19 pandemic. Just maybe then it is the perfect time to get them organized. How to keep your car organized once life resumes to “the new normal” is perhaps a better question to address, and these tips will help you accomplish that more beneficial goal.

Declutter Your Car – The first step to regaining control is to remove all unnecessary items from your car such as the obvious: trash. Then empty out the glove compartment, middle console, pockets in the doors, items on the floor and seats, and finally the back end or truck of your vehicle. ONLY put back what you deem absolutely necessary.

Keep Necessities in Your Car – The goal is to only have essential items in your vehicle. You shouldn’t allow your car to be your rolling junk drawer or storage unit. It is so much easier to keep your car clean and decluttered by ONLY transporting the essential items such as car registration, sunglasses, phone charger, phone mount for hands-free use, trash receptacle, garage door opener, facial tissues, and pen and a small pad of paper. IF you have children, you will also need to think of their needs and your sanity by making sure they have items to keep them occupied. Utilizing the back side of the driver and passenger seats is a great place to put books, DVD player & DVDs, toys, wet wipes, and water. Don’t forget to include an emergency and first aid kit. Keep in the trunk reusable shopping bags and an insulated bag for carrying perishable food in warmer months.

Use Containers to Corral Supplies – A car not only looks better but is more easily maintained if one uses containers to house items therein. In that your car is moving, you want to ensure that items in your car are not rolling around, possibly causing any hazards while driving. Using trunk and/or visor organizers as well as back of seat organizers can provide inordinate help in this area.

Maintain the Order – Try making a habit of looking around your car before exiting after the long work/carpooling day and bring in items that you only needed to use during your day and will not likely need the next. Trash accumulates, and if you get into the habit of emptying it into a store or gas station trash bin as you exit the car or gathering your trash, depositing it into your personal garbage can, that is one definite way of maintaining order. Moving forward then, once a week look around your car and make sure it is back to the way it was nicely organized and decluttered.

A car is meant to transport people, not all of the sundry toys, month-old, crusty french fries, and wrappers most of us would be embarrassed to claim. Keeping the seats available for passengers versus books and clutter is the way to go. No pun intended…

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

What To Do With All Those Clothes You Rarely Wear, But Don’t Want to Part With?

What To Do With All Those Clothes You Rarely Wear, But Don’t Want to Part With?

Closets are the bain of our existence: a place for our clothing that can quickly become disorganized because, well, who doesn’t love clothes shopping? Especially at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx where you can get designer duds at super low prices that incentivize you to buy MORE? The truth is that many people don’t want to part with their clothing even if they don’t wear it because they feel that may just want it someday. Also, people generally move up and down the scale, and there is a bad tendency to purge clothing when you lose weight, only to have to buy it when you — sadly – may regain it. We all know that it is not a good idea. It gets expensive. After all, very few people stay the same size forever. Therefore, what to do with all those clothes you rarely wear, but don’t want to part with? Try a few of these tips to help out with this dilemma.

Containerize – Buy some airtight containers and sort your clothing either by size or season. Make sure that, whatever you do, you label the outside of your container with content details.I usually suggest doing so on two sides of the container: the long and the short of it, if you will. If you keep smaller or larger sizes because your weight fluctuates, this is a great way to store those items. The same goes for maternity clothing.

Organize by Frequency of Use – Put the most frequently worn clothes up front so that you can see them. Your lesser worn garments can go behind your favorites, and I would challenge you to test yourself by trying the following. Hang all clothes with the hanger facing the opposite direction when a new season begins. As you wear and launder your clothing, return each item to your closet, hanging it in your preferred way. At the end of the season then, it becomes a cinch to see what you have and have not worn, thereby perhaps making it easier to decide what you don’t wear.

Inspect for Tears and Pills –  This is an easier decision maker. If the article of clothing has tears or rips that cannot be repaired or just looks worn and, therefore, not an attractive item to wear, recycle it. Some material pills easily, and that alone may make your decision to let it go much easier.

Wear and Keep for a Year – If you have indeed worn a piece of clothing, keep if for a year, and then decide if it is out of style or not as flattering as you originally believed. If you still want to wear it, keep it; otherwise, let it go.

Absolutely Cannot Let it Go – Perhaps you have a special outfit that you only wear occasionally, but it fits and is flattering. In this case, store it properly to maintain the quality of the fabric, but tuck it away to allow your more frequently worn items easier access and visibility. You’ll know where to find it when that next magical moment calls for it!

If you are tight on space, the decision may be an easier one in that due to your storage and/or closet space, it is impossible to keep all your clothes. Make your decision and then put the items in a black bag to donate. Out of sight, out of mind…

Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash

Spring Into Successfully Cleaning Your Home

Spring Into Successfully Cleaning Your Home

Despite the unprecedented time in which we currently find ourselves, some things never change:  it IS that time of year. Time to do spring cleaning. I know here in the Northeast we have actually seen snow in April. Though the weather may indicate otherwise, here’s how to spring into successfully cleaning your home. 

Decide where you will start and how long you will spend. –Spring cleaning is about going that much deeper in your cleaning, encompassing areas that you normally do not clean. Do you want to start from the top down or to begin at the lower level of your house and work your way up? If you live in a one-level house, do you want to start in the front or in the back of your house? Create a list of what needs to be done in each area of the home, and then decide how long you will spend tackling it.

Gather cleaners, buckets, brooms, and dust rags in advance. — It will be hard to clean if you don’t have the proper tools to use. Do an inventory in your planning stages to ensure you have the proper implements. Using the list you have created of tasks to be done, you will more easily be able to access required tools. Before rolling up your sleeves, order the items online, or do a run to the store to buy or to stock up on the cleaning supplies. 

Assign each family member a specific task or a specific room – Enlist your family in helping with spring cleaning. Have one person do the vacuuming; then assign another family member a task such as dusting all surfaces in the house including tops of doors and window frames. Alternatively, if it is easier to assign an entire room and all that it involves to a family member, try that as another option. Even if it means each person is responsible for deep cleaning their own bedroom, that person may be more invested in the project. 

Create a schedule –  Rather than leaving the cleaning to chance, create a schedule for when tasks will be done, in what order, and by whom. 

Reward time – Plan to do something fun when the cleaning is done to reward yourself and your family. You all have worked hard. Now celebrate! 

Getting this spring cleaning done will not only make your home sparkle but will also lift your spirits. You’ll fall in love with your home again! Let the sunshine in through your clean windows and highlight all those newly clean areas in your house. 

Photo by Crystal de Passillé-Chabot on Unsplash

How To Organize Your Home For An Emergency

How To Organize Your Home For An Emergency

Never before has it seemed more important to organize your home for an emergency. While we are all dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, did you actually feel prepared to shelter in place? Should this re-emerge in the fall or should another disaster befall us, let me try to help you organize your home for an emergency with these helpful tips. 

First aid kit – You may have a few items in the house already that belong in a first aid kit such as band-aids and antibiotic ointments, but you should also add items that the Red Cross recommends for a home. As an aside, while you are at it, you may as well assemble a duplicate kit for the car or camper if you own the latter.

In-home activities – Your home probably houses several books, movies, or video games to keep you and your family occupied for a bit, but when one is ordered to shelter in place, having a few other activities on hand will be viewed then as lifesavers. Coloring books have come a long way since we were children… both for our own and for us! Buy books to have on hand, or you may also want to print out pages to color in advance. Play charades, grow an indoor garden of herbs, do yoga with your family, organize a scavenger hunt. Having an indoor picnic or camping indoors overnight, watching old home movies, and hosting a dance party via Zoom or just with your family are all fine ways to pass the time. Planning these things — or directing the kids to do so — are healthy emotionally and mentally and have the added benefit of bringing the family together, creating memories to share for years to come. These are just a few creative activities to keep your family inside and to avoid boredom. 

Stock-up items – We all know that there were shortages of toilet paper as well as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and wipes when COVID-19 first hit. When the immediate pandemic is over, make sure your home is stocked with those items. Were you prepared in terms of a well-stocked pantry and freezer? Hmmm… Grandma’s old adage about being stocked for three months rang true, didn’t it? Try then to keep at least two weeks of food and ingredients in your freezer and pantry to prepare favorite family dishes. Seriously consider prescription drugs for everyone in your household, food for your pets, and items you cannot live without. Why not involve the children and your spouse in this now at a “family meeting”? Make the lists and then shop for those items together to have everyone feel a part of the planning. 

Checking on websites such as and local websites will keep you up to date on what is allowed in terms of sheltering in place, essential jobs, and up to date rules on just about everything. Knowledge and a sense of control when all around us seems so confusing are key when managing a crisis. These simple steps well in advance could just be the tickets. Besides, we never know when the next major snowstorm or Nor’easter will strand us inside…

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

How to Adopt the Perfect Pet

How to Adopt the Perfect Pet

Now that we have all more or less adjusted to our “stay at home” situations, you may just be thinking about adding to the family….

Adopting a pet into your family is more than just hitting up the local shelter, breeder, or pet store. Most people don’t realize that bringing said pet home necessitates purchasing supplies and doing some basic training. As a result, many pets get turned in as owners are not prepared. That’s why shelters are so packed these days. In fact, when animals are not what owners want or don’t behave the way they expect, pets do get turned in. To forestall this unfortunate scenario, I am sharing the following tips on how to adopt the perfect pet. 

Research – Do your homework in advance. Decide what type of pet, particularly, what sub-type or breed you want. Read up on it at the local library and online. I remember when my young nieces and nephew did research to find the best breed for their family and lifestyle, presenting the facts to my brother and sister-in-law, turning the whole endeavor into a joyful, unifying family project before even beginning their search for what turned out to be the most loving, adorable dog, Lakota, a fluffy white American Eskimo breed, whom we all came to love.

Look Ahead – Look down the long road at what a pet may or may not need. A colleague and her husband were shocked and annoyed, but prepared and, therefore, unperturbed, by their boxer needing major knee surgery a mere three months after he first came home. Our own childhood pet, Caesar, a mild-tempered, loving black Lab, sat on his tail one day…..if you can imagine!  Who knew it was even possible, let along how costly the vet bills were to care for the poor dear.

Train – Consult with a dog trainer and have a plan for training and socializing (dogs) your pet. 

Ask Questions – Don’t fall in love with cuteness. Puppies and kittens are adorable. So are some of the dogs and cats on a rescue’s web pages. Ask questions about vet bills, pet origins, and habits as well as reactions to people and children before you adopt. Don’t be scared off by red flags such as ‘Has accidents every day’ or ‘Pees outside the litter box’. You can learn to remedy these by investing time in training your pet to stop. You just need to be prepared that this will definitely require your time and patience.

Living Situation – Consider your living situation, particularly if you rent. Consult your landlord and/or homeowner’s insurance agent before you even go looking. Cats and certain dogs may not be allowed in apartments or condos. To bring this to light, pitbulls and staffordshire terriers are two dog breeds specifically excluded on homeowner’s policies. Before even beginning your search for a pet to enhance your family life, determine what, if any, you are allowed to adopt.

Have Fun – Pets are adorable, funny, and a ton of fun. Their loyalty and unconditional love can bring hours of loving enrichment to your family as well as years to your life.

Knowing all that you may be in for in advance and doing your research will give you the pet that will best fit into your now newly expanded family.

Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

How to Buy Big Ticket Items

Buying Big Ticket Items

While I’m sure that the first thought on your minds in the age of COVID-19 is not making big ticket purchases, the economy is bound to get better, and life will go on. You may, indeed, be thinking of such because of spending so much more time at home, so …. consider the following in between Zoom classes and Skype meetings and what not. To assist you, here are ways to help you decide how to buy big ticket items.

Features – List which features you would like to have in your replacement or new item. Do you need a dishwasher that can sterilize baby bottles? Do you need a dryer that can make your husband’s shirts look like they’ve been ironed? First identify what you need from the item you are purchasing. 

Longevity – Decide how long you want the product to last. If you are shopping for a couch and regularly update your living room décor every five years, you don’t need a couch that will last more than that. If you are shopping for a washer/dryer and are planning to move into a condo or to downsize in a couple of years, you don’t need to buy something with a 10-year warranty. If, however, it’s a hot water heater you are after, you may want to buy one with a long warranty as that will be a good selling point if you do decide to list your home.

Wear and Tear – Figure out how much wear and tear the product is going to take. For instance, if you are shopping for a vacuum, are you sewing a lot and need a vacuum that will be able to suck up threads that get caught on the roller on a regular basis, or do you have pets that shed a great deal? Knowing the way you will use a product will help you narrow down the selection. 

Budget – Decide how much you want to spend or are able to spend. Do a google search on what you are shopping for, including all of the features you want it to have, and how long you expect it to last. The results will tell you the highest, lowest, and median price for that item. Now it will be easier to choose.

Research reviews – Visit the websites of reliable local retailers such as Best Buy or Home Depot. Specifically, search for products with 4 stars or more. Then also be sure to read the negative (2 stars or fewer) reviews. Look to see what problems are repeatedly mentioned.

Warranty – Read carefully to determine what, if any, warranty comes with the product. This will also give you an indication of the product’s life and the manufacturer’s confidence in it. 

Purchase – Now that you have done your research and know what you want to buy, purchase it. 

Making sure you are purchasing the most appropriate big ticket item for your particular needs may necessitate a bit of your time, but in the long run, you will be satisfied that you obtained the product that fits your individual requirements and budget.

Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

How to Work From Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Are you transitioning to working from home due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)? For most of the population, this is a new concept as workers typically commute to their places of employment.  It can be advantageous to work from home as there is no commute or any of the hassles of leaving the house. However, there are plenty of distractions in your home that you need to be aware of in order to truly be productive.

Technology – If meetings are being held virtually, do you have all the apps needed to attend remote meetings? The most popular ways to connect with people are FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom. If your employer isn’t helping you navigate any new app, head over to YouTube to get a tutorial. Connect with a co-worker if you need help.

Be Present – Just because you are home doesn’t mean it’s a free day. You will need to be present and available and not wander off to do the laundry or clean the bathroom. I am sure your employer expects you to be around and respond in a timely fashion and to do your job. This will require some discipline on your part to separate yourself from your day to day life activities when you are home vs. actually working from home.

Schedule – Make a schedule and stick to it. Using timers may help you stay on track and then allow a coffee break (again set the timer) and get back to work. Stick to your regular routine in terms of waking as if you were leaving the house, shower, get dressed (you don’t want to get caught in your PJs if you have to jump on a video meeting), and “commute” down to your computer to start your day. End your day as if you were in the office by walking away from your computer and work tasks. For some of you, it may be tempting to continue working while you are in the swing of it. Don’t do it. You don’t want work burnout to occur.

Breaks – Since you may be alone in your house while working you may crave socialization. Schedule a time to talk to a coworker as if you were just walking down to his office to chat and stretch your legs. Be mindful of getting up every hour to force yourself to look away from your computer and not get stiff and sore. Do take a lunch break; just alert others of a specified timeframe if you are supposed to always be available.  Communication is key in a remote work environment.

I have addressed the how to’s of working at home in an earlier blog. Please check that blog out to gain more tips on managing your remote work life.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19, look to experts such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO)

Photo: Pixabay

5 Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Freecycled, and How to Do So

We all try to do our best to recycle paper, glass, tin cans, and plastic grocery bags. There are other items that can be freecycled that you may not be aware of. Here are a few of just those items and how to freecycle them.

Books – If you are lucky, there are places to donate books such as Goodwill or a bin marked especially for books. However, did you also know you may be able to donate books to your local library? Some libraries collect books during the year and have an annual book sale to help fund special library projects. You may also be able to donate to a local bookstore and received store credit for your book purchase, or sometimes you have the option of receiving cash (but at a lower percentage).

Pet items – Unopened pet treats and toys as well as gently used items can be donated to your local animal shelter. I take old towels and sheets to mine as they are always in need of these items. Call ahead to see what they do or do not accept or look at their website to see if there is a current list.

Formal Attire – Once prom and wedding seasons are over, one is left with the dress. Rather than just hanging it in your closet for years, try to consign it while the style is still current. You may also be able to donate it to a local charity that helps those that can’t attend prom due to the cost of a dress.

Business Suits – If your job no longer requires you to wear business suits or if you have far too many, consider donating them to a local back to work program. Google ‘where to donate suits to charity’ to see a list in your area.

Unexpired Food – People are always amazed at how full their panty becomes in a blink of an eye. Next time you are putting your groceries away, take a moment to look at what you have in your pantry. If you see you have an abundance of one category, consider donating excess unexpired items to your local food pantry. Most supermarkets have a bin in the front entrance of their store into which to drop food. The same goes for unexpired hygiene items.

Any little attempt at making sure we aren’t just throwing items that still may be used by others into a land fill is a win-win for all of us. Let’s aim to be better about not using the trash as our first go to. Rather, try some of the above.

Photo: Pixabay