Thursday, September 22, 2016

4 Ways to Make Your Family’s Home More Sustainable



Sustainability is an often-discussed topic as consumers and organizations alike learn more about the damage humans are inflicting on the Earth.

Every individual can work to create a more sustainable lifestyle, which in turn improves global sustainability. If you simply walk into a local store, you may realize just how difficult becoming fully sustainable can be. However, every little change you make counts and making your home an eco-friendly and sustainable place is a wonderful first step. Here are a few ways you can make your family’s home both more sustainable and cost effective.

1. Plant a Garden

A garden is one of the most beneficial things you can add to your home. Not only does gardening improve your family’s eco-friendliness and reduce grocery bills, but gardening has also been proven as extremely therapeutic. For children, gardening introduces responsibility while teaching them to be sustainable and responsible adults.

If your children are young, you may want to put them in charge of caring for bee-friendly flowers as they require less maintenance than crop plants. Making your garden a safe-haven for bees is a necessity for a sizeable crop as they are needed to pollinate your plants. You may also want to set up a bee waterer and keep a little bee food on hand by mixing sugar and water. Bees that seem to be struggling to fly are likely in need of a sugar boost. Use a spoon to offer the syrup and let it drink its fill.

Growing an organic garden is best but can be challenging when faced with pests. Instead of reaching for the extraordinarily harmful weed and pest killer, try some natural alternatives.

2. Purchase a Compost Bin

Compost bins are a remarkably inexpensive way for you to decrease your home’s waste, thereby reducing garbage incineration and reducing landfills. In combination with a family or community garden, composting can save you plenty of money in garbage bags and grocery bills.

The most eco-friendly options are metal bins with removable inner buckets, avoiding plastic liners. Just be sure to keep it out of reach of kids and pets.

3. Utilize Energy Star Appliances

Energy Star appliances benefit your family in a number of ways, the most obvious being a reduction in your energy use. Energy Star appliances use much less energy than the average (non-energy efficient) appliance, reducing the average energy bill to less than half of what it might have been before. Essentially these appliances use fewer resources to work better and cost less.

As an additional incentive, homes with Energy Star appliances get tax breaks, saving you more money. If you decide to replace something in your home with an Energy Star alternative, avoid sending it to a landfill. Donate your appliance.

4. Spend Some Time on Your Pool

When looking to make changes to improve sustainability you might overlook your pool, thinking there simply isn’t a way to make it eco-friendly. But that’s not the case. In fact, one great way to make your pool more sustainable is to update old equipment. There are many types of filters, pool covers, and other equipment available today that are for more eco-friendly than older models. For example, you might get rid of your pool heater and use a solar pool cover instead. That way you can consume less energy and use the sun’s rays to heat your pool.

There are, of course, a number of small ways you can make your home better for the planet. However gardening, composting, and even buying a new fridge can be a great way to start. Being environmentally responsible will teach your kids to do the same as they age, triggering change and a potential reversal of the damage we have done. If you can’t afford to become fully sustainable, don’t worry. Every little change helps.

Dolly Santos is an information junkie. She loves researching and learning about new topics. At Dollymath.com, she compiles thoughtful educational articles based on her conscientious analysis of available information.


Image via Pixabay by jf-gabnor


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mother's Day Hershey Bars



I know this is a few weeks early, but I am pretending to be ahead of the game this year. Here is a very simple and adorable gift for that special mother in your life. Who wouldn't want a little chocolate to sweeten their day?

Here is a link to printable I used:

http://lovelylittlesnippets.blogspot.com/2011/05/mothers-day-idea.html

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vintage Doily Christmas Ornaments




You may call me a Grinch, but there are days I get fed up with all the Holiday hullabaloo.

At this time of year, it feels like the whole world has gone a little insane with the "gimmes". Stores are lit up with new shiny products, packages of toys, decorations, food, and even more ornaments than someone could ever count.

Don't get me wrong, I love the festive spirit of the season. However, there are days I cringe at all the commercialism and waste. I relish the personal and special connection family's have with Christmas- not all the bobbles and gadgets exclusive to each shopping season!

This year I decided to make a few new ornaments for our personal tree and to give as gifts. It is a tradition in our family to add a new ornament each year so this year I wanted to make something special. I wanted to take vintage and discarded elements to create something new with some jewelry making supplies I received from House of Gems.

It was easy to order from House of Gems with fast delivery and wonderful customer support. I was amazed at the assortment of wholesale beads and jewelry making supplies available on their site. As bead crafts tumbled through my head, I was able to order ALL the supplies I needed in one location. I definitely enjoyed my package and would recommend purchasing beading supplies from House of Gems.


I created these homespun ornaments with a few snips of the scissors and a couple of drops of glue. They turned out beautiful and this method allows for several creative embellishments while having a universal theme on your tree. The doilies tie everything together and make the tree cohesive.

To make your own vintage doily Christmas ornaments you will need:


  • 1 unit of 5 mm Freshwater pearls
  • small doilies- I found several handmade ones that were priced fairly cheap at a local consignment store or you can raid Grandma's yellowing stash
  • vintage or solid color ornaments- I used ones from a garage sale
  • hot glue sticks
  • hot glue gun
  • soft touch beading wire
  • embellishments: ribbon, wholesale beads, holly, garland, etc.
  • scissors
  • ornament hooks
Follow these steps to craft your ornament made with jewelry making supplies:
  • Measure your doily and trim the middle for a better fit. I placed it on top of the ornament and decided to cut it in half for the desired fit.
 
 

  • Carefully, attach the pearls to the doily with the soft touch beading wire. I chose this, because I was afraid to hot glue pearls. Do what you feel is the best!

  • Remove the top of the ornament and glue the doily around your ornament.

  • Replace the top and add embellishments.

  • Hang and enjoy!




Happy Holidays from us here at Plain Graces!





*Disclosure- This post was sponsored by House Of Gems. They compensated me with free product to create a craft of my choice. All opinions of the product are mine.













Saturday, December 6, 2014

Heirloom Spoon Necklaces



Do you remember your 16th birthday?

Did you receive a present? Was it something special that could be stashed in the garage?

On my sixteenth birthday, instead of a set of keys and four wheels, my parents had hidden a cedar chest in the garage. I was ushered to the garage all those years ago and sitting in the empty space was a... box to store all my "hopes".

That's right- a hope chest!

Granted, I was probably the only 16 year old in my high school with a carefully curated assortment of spoons, towels, and blankets.

However, many years later, I am so thankful that I had these treasures passed down to me from my parents and grandparents. Unlike a car, these heirlooms appreciate over time and won't be rusted out leaking oil in a forgotten salvage yard. 

My Grandmother Opal had given me a collection of silverware that once belonged to a great aunt. Over the years, I have misplaced a few pieces and the wayward cutlery has not been seen since. I decided to preserve the memory of my Grandma's spoons by making a necklace with some jewelry making supplies I received from House of Gems.

It was easy to order from House of Gems with fast delivery and wonderful customer support. I was amazed at the assortment of wholesale beads and jewelry making supplies available on their site. As bead crafts tumbled through my head, I was able to order ALL the supplies I needed in one location. I definitely enjoyed my package and would recommend purchasing beading supplies from House of Gems.

However, I did make a few novice mistakes- I ordered clasps for the necklace, but forgot to order the opposite ends. I also underestimated the talent and time that go into making great jewelry pieces. Making jewelry is not as easy as it looks. Oops!

After all these years, I won't mention the exact number BUT Clinton was in office, I decided to take an old spoon and apply wholesale beads to make a piece of jewelry that I can wear to keep my Grandmother close.





To make your heirloom spoon necklace you will need the following:

  • a favorite old book or novel
  • 7 fresh water (6mm) peacock pearls  (or similar wholesale beads)
  • an old spoon
  • wire cutters
  • memory wire
  • gray ribbon (or coordinating color) 
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • stainless steel chain (about 2 feet)
  • stainless steel trigger clasp (15x8 mm)
  • soft touch beading wire (stainless steel nylon coated)



Here is how I made my heirloom spoon necklace:

  • First, I chose my old spoons and snipped the handles off leaving a little to bend over to create a hook. If you need to, recruit someone with muscles or power tools to help with this step. I had to use my husband...

  • Next, I found an old novel to create some beautiful miniature roses. My Grandmother was a schoolteacher, librarian, and avid reader so I chose a text that would remind me of her.  
  • Then I crafted paper roses using the pages from the book. I found a great tutorial over at 100 Layer Cake to make them.
  • First, cut out small arches, similar to "church windows". You will need 4 or more of each size and it would be a great idea to cut a few extra.
  • Roll the edges under and pinch the bases to make the paper look more like petals. Don't worry if they aren't perfect.

  • Cut a piece of wire a few inches in length. Take a pearl and stick it on one end of the wire. You may need to bend the wire over to secure your pearl.

  • Take the smallest petals and "roll" it around the wire. You will need a small bit of hot glue to keep them in place.

  • Keep rotating the petals and attaching them in increasing size. Feel free to manipulate the paper roses to get the shape you desire.

  • Finally, cut the rose from the remaining wire and start another one.

  • Keep working until you have the desired amount of roses and then arrange them into your spoon.
  • Carefully, hot glue the roses in the base of the spoon.
  • Take snippets of ribbon to fill in the extra spaces and fill out your design.

  • Next, take the extra pearls and attach with wire or glue to add pops of color and balance your piece.

  • Finally, attach your chain and clasps.
  • Voila! You have created a one-of-a-kind homemade jewelry piece with wholesale beads!


What do you like to make with beads?



*Disclosure- This post was sponsored by House Of Gems. They compensated me with free product to create a craft of my choice. All opinions of the product are mine.