Trending Houseplants to Bring the Outdoors In

trending house plantsIf you are wanting to bring the outdoors into your home the easiest way is to grab a few houseplants and place them throughout your home. Houseplants are not only aesthetically appealing, but they can have both mental and physical health benefits too. People with houseplants often breathe easier and feel happier overall. The key is to pick the right plants and some happen to be trending right now for a variety of reasons.

Pines and Figs

Yes, you can have these right in your home. Obviously, the pine will not get to 20 feet tall like the one in your front yard. The Norfolk Island pine and fiddle leaf fig are among the most popular right now. These are not tiny, but they can be placed on tables, counter tops and other elevated surfaces. They make a great addition to a desk, especially if you spend a lot of time at your desk getting things done. They tend to be a very lush green color and will work well in any type of pot. You only need some plain dirt to cover the plant and water when necessary. This makes these plants incredibly easy to care for, so if you are busy, you will still be able to keep your plant alive. Adding some seashells or colorful stones are a great way to add a bit more panache to your new houseplant.

Colorful Flowers

There are some flowers that you really cannot go wrong with. These include orchids, peace lilies, amaryllis and hibiscus. These flower well and come in just about every color you could imagine. They do require a bit more care than the pines and figs, but the extra love is completely worth it. Of these four flowers, the orchid is the most delicate, but the serenity this flower brings to a home cannot be matched. You can choose to get one of each of these and place them throughout your home. These will supply rich pops of color throughout your home. Choosing a colorful vase will just add to this.


Cacti are hardy and require very little care. There are so many great choices that range in color, such as Christmas cactus, sundew, cobra lily, Venus flytrap and butterwort. These are all very cool and with a bit of water can live for a very long time. If you have an issue with flies or fruit flies in the kitchen, then a Venus flytrap could be a neat plant that pulls double duty in improving how you feel in your home and taking care of pests at the same time. Cacti, as you surely know, can be a bit prickly so it is important to keep these away from children and pets. You will want to put them up higher will pets and kids do not go, or in rooms where they do not go. If someone were to attempt to eat cacti, it would surely need a visit to the emergency room or emergency vet.

Foolproof Paint Picks for Your Home Makeover

popular ideas for paint colors for your homeOne of the easiest, and least expensive, ways to makeover your home is to head to the hardware store and get some paint. You can learn to paint within minutes and changing your wall color will transform your entire room. You can add a completely new personality and feel to your home by simply changing the paint colors. The key is to choose the right colors for what you are trying to convey.

Go for Color

Whites and neutrals have their place, but color will always give your room a more homey feel. As humans, we see multiple colors at a time, so why use just one on your walls. A good way to use two colors is to create an accent wall. This wall will have a different paint color than the other three. This is the wall that you want people to focus on when they walk into the room, so using the wall with a picture window or fireplace is a good option because there is already a built-in focal point there. Just be sure that the colors you choose work well together. A sage green and a wine red actually work very well and will mix well with many different furniture color options.

Go Cool

Dark gray, light gray and pale blue offer a soothing feeling when they are used for wall colors. When you choose one of these colors, it is best to keep your trim white and go for either wood floors or a neutral carpet to maintain the natural, cool feel. You can use either light or dark furniture with these colors, but keeping that cool feel is the best option with the light blue. With the grays, you can even go with bright accessories and still make it work well.

Keep it Classic

Butter, cream and gold are elegant, traditional and classic paint colors. If you like a French country or more sophisticated style then these will always work. They can also be mixed and blended together in a room to maintain a warm feel. These are also brighter, so they exude happiness and help to make your room feel larger. With these colors, white furniture works very well, but you can go with neutrals as well and get a really good look. If you go with white furniture, choose patterned or colored pillows in this color scheme.

Pink and Green

Who does not love to mix pinks and greens? This does not mean those neon colors from the 1980s, but moss greens, olive greens and soft pinks. These blend flawlessly and can create a very romantic feel. It is best to use the greens to paint the walls and trim and then incorporate the soft pink into furniture and accessories. Keep the rest of the furniture and accessories light too, such as whites and other neutrals. You also want plenty of fresh flowers. The stems and leaves are already green, so go with flowers in varying shades of pink. A wood floor with a green rug can complete the look.

Safe Travel Tips for Women Traveling Solo

safety tips for women travellingTraveling is exciting, but going alone also brings with it some dangers. Women traveling alone need to be aware of several things so that they can stay safe and enjoy where they are. Keep travel fun and exciting by keeping these tips in mind as you go about your journey.

Hotel Safety

When you travel, you will likely stay at a hotel. Stick with hotels that allow you to keep your keys with you so that they are not just hanging up where someone could grab them. You may also want a room near the elevator so that you can easily and quickly get to your room. You should also bring a rubber door stop with you. This can be placed after you shut and lock your door so that no one can push it open.

Arrive During the Day

This helps to reduce some dangers and make the city appear less threatening. If you need to take a cab to your hotel, you will feel better hailing one and driving in one during the day. You will also be able to get to know your surroundings before it gets dark.

Dress Appropriately

If you are dressed in expensive clothing you are a target for robbery. On the other hand, if you are dressed scantily, you are putting yourself at risk for unwanted attention. A T-shirt and shorts or pants is pretty much a safe bet. You also want to be cautious of wearing cultural clothing in a different country because this can also bring unwanted attention. For example, if you are heading to India, just wear your Western clothes and do not try to blend in by wearing their clothing as this could backfire.

Buddy Up

Not all areas of the world are safe for women traveling alone. If you meet some people at your hotel, ask them to tag along if you plan on hitting the town at night. Groups are far less likely to be bothered. You may also spot families and stick close to them. These families can be locals, but since you are close to a larger group, your risk of being bothered is lower.

Play Dumb

If you are being harassed just play dumb. Act like you do not understand what they are saying even if you do. Most people will stop bothering you if you do not react or respond. Looking busy is also helpful, so carry a book or something to write with. This is especially good if you are alone on a train.

Be Confident and Use Common Sense

If you look like you know the area and where you are going, people are less likely to bother you. If you look confused or lost, you make yourself vulnerable. So, plan what you are doing before you even leave your hotel room. Walk with your head held high and with good posture.

In terms of common sense, just use it. Things like walking alone at night, having drinks with complete strangers and isolating yourself are quick ways to invite danger so simply do not do them.

Common Home Items to Clean Your Jewelry

home products to clean your jewelryYou want your jewelry to always shine and make you feel fantastic. Well, over time jewelry will lose some of its luster. While this is inevitable, there are things you have in your home right now that can be used to restore your jewelry to its out-of-the-box shape. A little time and creativity will put the bling back in your favorite jewelry pieces.

Silver Jewelry

When silver does not shine it just starts to look bad. However, you can eliminate the tarnished look and restore the shine pretty easily. To clean your silver you will need to head into your pantry and grab a plastic or glass dish, some baking soda and some aluminum foil. You want to boil a few cups of water. The amount you use will need to be enough to cover the silver you are cleaning. Take the plastic or glass bowl and your aluminum foil and line the bowl. You want to then lie your silver in this and make sure that it is in contact with the foil. Take some baking soda and sprinkle it on the jewelry. Next, pour the boiled water on this. You should notice a foul odor and some bubbling. Use a wooden spoon to flip and move the jewelry around so that all parts contact the foil. You want to use a wooden spoon to avoid burning yourself. Once you remove the silver, use a soft cloth (like the type you use to wipe eyeglasses) to wipe it off. Your silver will be bright and looking new.

Gold Jewelry

This is gold that is just plain gold and does not have any gems or stones. You will need some dish soap, a bowl of warm water and a soft cloth (again, like an eyeglass cloth). Take the warm water and put it in a bowl with a few drops of the soap. Mix this together and then place your gold jewelry in there to soak. After 20 minutes, take the jewelry off and gently wipe it dry with the eyeglass cloth. This will restore shine and remove any dirt on your gold jewelry.

You will use pretty much the same method to clean gold jewelry with stones. The big difference is that you want one cloth to wipe the stones and one to wipe the gold, and you will not be soaking the jewelry. You will need to take the cloths and dip them in the soap and water mix. You will then wipe the jewelry clean. It is a good idea to have two dry cloths as well so that you can wipe the jewelry dry.

Diamond Jewelry

You will need a soft cloth and some glass cleaner. You want to spray the cleaner right onto the diamond and then use the cloth to wipe it well. After this, turn on your faucet and run the jewelry under it for a couple of minutes. Use a dry cloth to dry the piece of jewelry after you are done. This will help to remove dirt, debris and other impurities from your diamond jewelry.

The Benefits of Sodastream: Our Review

Be sure to enter below for YOUR CHANCE to win a SodaStream deluxe mega-pack kit from The General Gazette!!!

There are some gadgets that you come across that just seem cool and worth a try. Sodastream is one that people were out buying in droves. You use your own tap water, carbonate it with the machine and then add one of more than 100 different flavor syrups to create whichever soda is your favorite. It is a neat concept and there are some benefits to making your own soda at home.

Cost Savings

On average, a 12-pack of name-brand soda is going for $4.00 to $5.00 per pack. Making soda at home will be about $0.25 for every 12 ounces of soda. 12 ounces equals about one can. So, a 12-pack would be about $3.00 when making it at home. A buck or two is not huge, but it does add up over the course of a year.

reviews on sodastream

Never Run Out

This may not be a huge deal most of the time, but if you are having a party you do not want to run out of supplies. As long as you have enough syrup around you never have to worry about running out of soda. It is also pretty quick to make so if you have a house full of kids screaming for more, you can quickly give them what they need. This is also nice for cocktail parties because you can make a variety of adult spritzers for your guests.

On this same note, you can make only what you need. Flat soda is something that is just pretty gross and flat soda is inevitable if you leave cans open or have two-liter bottles for more than a few days. You can make it fresh by the glass to ensure optimum freshness.

Ingredient Control

What is nice about making your own soda is that you can control what goes into it. For example, there is no Aspartame or high fructose corn syrup and a lot of people are avoiding these ingredients now. You can add syrup to taste, control the carbonation level or skip the syrup altogether and just make a seltzer water with a bit of 100 percent fruit juice. So, you can make healthy alternatives to your favorite carbonated drinks and you will know exactly what you put into them so you can accurately count the calories and nutrients.

Free Sodastream


You have probably heard that plastic bottles pretty much just sit in landfills for hundreds of years. This is true because they are incredibly difficult to break down and not all types of plastic are recyclable. When you make your own soda at home, you will be reusing the bottles as you finish them.

In addition to reusing the bottles, the gas canister that is needed to create the carbonation is also reusable. These are turned in and then they are refilled. This is a pretty neat concept that will help to reduce additional waste.

Then, since you are making soda at home you will be driving to the store less for soda, and therefore, saving on gas.

Enter to win a Sodastream Dynamo LX Home Soda Maker Deluxe Mega Pack!!!

Sodastream for free

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eight Surprising Ways to Deodorize Your Home

tips on getting a clean smelling homeSometimes it does not matter how well you clean, odors crop up in your home. The good news is that you do not have to slave away for hours to restore your home to smelling like roses. Things you have around the house already can quickly freshen things up so that you can have guests over and relax in your fresh-smelling, odor-free home.

Your Clothes are a Bit Stale

Just like a stale party, stale clothes can benefit from a bit of vodka. When you use a straight vodka, no scent is left behind, but it will kill bacteria just like rubbing alcohol. Once you spritz the clothing with vodka, hang them and allow them to dry. Make sure that the drying space is well-ventilated. If it is nice outside, hanging the clothing outside is ideal.

Your Kitchen Sink

The garbage disposal is incredibly convenient and helps to break down that leftover spaghetti from dinner so that it does not sit in a trash can and stink up the kitchen. However, after a while the garbage disposal will start to give off unpleasant odors. This is where citrus fruit comes in. You surely have fresh oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit around. The next time you peel one do not toss the rinds. Run some hot water and then put the fruit peels into the disposal and run it. This will help to get rid of stubborn odors and leave your kitchen smelling fresh.

Your Freezer

Your freezer is packed with a variety of foods that can give off a variety of odors. So, the next time you defrost, get all of that slush and ice out and then grab your vanilla extract. Put a little of the vanilla on a cotton swab and just wipe the inside of your freezer with it. Do not use a lot because this is strong stuff. Then, the next time you open your freezer to grab something for dinner you will be welcomed with the sweet and relaxing scent of vanilla.

Your Car

The car carries kids, animals, groceries, gym bags and other things that may not always smell great. If you smoke in your car then you definitely want to eliminate the scent. You, of course, want to clean the inside of your car at least a few times a year, but to keep it constantly fresh do not be afraid to take a wax tart and place it in a cup holder. These tarts are those little squares you use in a warmer in your home that work like scented candles, but require no fire. These will keep your car smelling fresh.

Your Carpet

Carpets are havens for attracting unpleasant odors. You walk on these and track things from the outside, pets sleep on them and anything in the air eventually settles on the carpet. It is a good idea to do a good carpet cleaning once a year, but in between cleanings baking soda can keep your carpet fresh and smelling great. You want to liberally sprinkle baking soda all over your carpet and let it sit for a few hours. Then, just vacuum it up. When the baking soda is hanging out on the carpet, keep pets off of it and avoid walking on it. Just let the baking soda get the work done.

Quick Kitchen Organizing Tips

kitchen tips for organizingYour kitchen is where you make delicious dinners, chat over wine with friends and have coffee in the morning. If this room is not well-organized, it is going to throw off your entire day by adding time to basic activities like your morning coffee or tossing together a quick dinner. The good news is that there are some quick organizing tips that can turn your kitchen into the super efficient room that you need it to be.

Lazy Susan

These are a staple on all country breakfast tables because they allow all condiments to be easily accessible. Well, you can take this same thought and apply it to your spices. This can be put into a cabinet, pantry or even placed on a counter. Simply put your spices on this so that they are easily accessible with a few spins.

Hang it Up

It is easy to put a few hooks on the wall in the kitchen for things like aprons and pot holders. Be careful that these are at least a few feet away from your oven/stove so that there is no risk of them catching fire. If you have plenty of open wall space away from your oven/stove, then consider putting up a few small shelves. These can hold everything from cookie jars to cook books.

Arrange by Use Frequency

If there is something that you rarely use then there is no need to have this right up front. You should place items that you use nearly daily like your sauce pans and dinner plates right up front so that you can quickly grab them. Things like your blender that you do not use daily can be placed more to the back of your cabinets and pantry.

Group Items by Purpose

Your bake ware, for example, should be placed together so that when you need to bake something everything you need is all in one place. This will save time when you need to get some baking in. The same goes for things like cookware, dinner plates and bowls and the different glasses that you use. Another thing to keep together are your tea items, coffee items and other things that you frequently use together.

Cooking Tools

These are things that you want to be able to grab quickly when you are cooking. You can use a vase or a pitcher to store things like your tongs, spatulas, whips and other necessary cooking items. Since they are all together, you just grab the container that they are in, place it near your cooking area and get the job done. There will be no more searching through drawers to find your favorite scrambled egg spatula in the morning.

Use Shelf Organizers

These are probably one of the best kitchen inventions ever. You can place items on them and then push them back into the cabinet or shelf. These allow you to easily see everything that you have on a specific shelf so that things in the back do not get lost or forgotten about. These are pretty much a necessity for small kitchens that have little storage space.

Creative Ways to Decorate Your Fireplace Mantel

Fireplace mantle ideasIf you have a fireplace then you have the potential to make a masterpiece in your room. Sure, you could toss a few pictures and vases up there, but a little creativity can turn your fireplace mantel into the focal point of your room and it will be coveted by all of your friends. There are some ideas that can be done within minutes and with just a few extra bucks, making this an even more appealing quick room update.

White and Warm

Regardless of what your fireplace is made of, you can paint it an off-white color. Of course, you may want to make sure that your significant other is okay with such a big change, but you will likely get your way. You will probably need a few coats and make sure to use a paint that works with what your fireplace is made of, such as paint for brick. If your fireplace is made of wood, and the mantel piece almost always is, you should sand the wood before painting it.

Next, find some frames that are matte gold and silver. You want one smaller one and one a bit larger. You can place black and white photos in these. A small mirror and a few other small matte gold or matte silver items can also be placed on the mantel. This will provide a very soft and romantic look. If you are into the shabby chic look then this is a really good option to decorate your mantel.

Go Earthy and Modern

This requires two clear vases that are tall, exactly alike and able to hold a candle, a circular mirror and some seashells and rocks. You want the two clear vases to be near the sides of the mantel and spaced symmetrically. The circular mirror will go on the wall directly between these. Then, you will arrange a few seashells and rocks between the vases. Place the candles inside and then light them. This can be done with any fireplace color and any material. It is a very neat and modern look.

Bright and Leaning

This is really easy and works well for a bright, modern look. Take two pictures that are bright and cheery and put them into bright frames. Think orange, yellow, turquoise and bright green for the frames. You want one picture to be quite large and twice the size of the smaller picture. Then, you want a very little, white vase and a thin, clear vase that is about eight inches tall. You will put sunflowers into the vases. The pictures are just placed on the mantel to lean up against the wall. This will only take a few minutes and can be done for a few bucks.

Mirror, Mirror

This is a good look that works with modern, French country, traditional and just about any other design scheme. First, you want to take the entire area above the mantel and place a mirror there. This will cover this entire portion of the wall and you can frame it for a little something extra. You can also place a smaller circular mirror right in the center of this. It is quite interesting and will give the room the illusion of being larger.

Quick and Easy Cleaning Tips to Help Your Dust Mite Allergy

cleaning for dust mitesDust mite allergies are not uncommon. If you find yourself waking up every morning just to start sneezing there is a chance that you are allergic to dust mites. Of course, a doctor needs to confirm this, but there are some cleaning tips that you can use to help reduce the dust mites so that you can breathe easier and not sneeze so much.

Get the Humidity Out

This can cause other issues like dry skin and sometimes nose bleeds, but dust mites need high humidity to survive. You can get monitors that will tell you how much humidity is in your home. You want to aim to keep it under 55 percent. This means that using a dehumidifier can be helpful, as are fans in the kitchen and bathroom to keep steam to a minimum.

Say Goodbye the Carpets

Carpets are a haven for dust mites. You could scrub your carpets once a week and vacuum daily, but dust mites will still be present in your carpeting. You want wood floors that you can easily keep dust free with a broom and a damp cloth. You can put throw rugs down, but be sure to take these outside to “beat” them once or twice a week so that dust mites do not have time to settle on them and cause you to start sneezing.

Mite Proof Covers

Your mattress has more dust mites on it than anything else in your home. This is often why you wake up sneezing. You have been exposed all night long. There are bed covers that are “dust mite proof” so that they cannot penetrate and make a home on your mattress. You should also change your bed linens at least twice a week. When you wash them, do so in hot water as this will kill the dust mites on them.

Change Your Window Treatments

Heavy drapery is difficult to clean and it is a major source of dust mites. Ideally, using just blinds is best because you can easily wipe these down every day with a dust brush or even a damp towel. If you really like curtains, go for a lightweight, cotton curtain that can be easily taken down and washed twice a week in hot water. There are a lot of simple curtain options available and they happen to be what is in style in terms of home décor right now.

Your Furniture

You are not going to ditch your furniture to avoid dust mites and you shouldn’t have to. Get a vacuum that has a hose on it so that you can vacuum your upholstered furniture. This can be done once or twice a week to keep dust mites to a minimum. Take your throw blankets and throw pillows outside and “beat” them to get rid of the excess dust.

As for your surfaces, shelves and tables, simply wipe them down. There are some surfaces, such as those in the kitchen, that you naturally wipe down every day. Other surfaces should be wiped down with a damp cloth at least twice a week to keep dust at bay.

You do not need to deep clean every single week to keep dust mites in check. You will be more diligent in cleaning, but it will not take much more time than you usually spend cleaning. Then, you will do your deep spring cleaning and all should be well for you and your family.

Pet Urn Materials For Your Dog Or Cat

pet urn materialsYour pet was a member of your family, so it makes sense that you would want to memorialize him or her in your home.  Researching and choosing a pet urn during a period of grieving can be difficult and it can also be cathartic.  Laying your pet to rest is never an easy process, but choosing the perfect urn to store his or her ashes can help ease the pain.  When you know that your family friend will be honored with a fitting memorial, it can begin to help you heal.

Cremation urns have often been seen as ugly or uninteresting, but it all depends on the style you choose in the end.  The traditional wide-mouthed vase is not your only option.  Urns come in all shapes, styles, sizes and materials.  In this article we’ll cover the different types of materials urns are made from and which one is right for you and your pet.

Metal urns are the most common.  These pet urns are usually crafted from inexpensive but durable metals.  Pewter, brass and bronze are used most often.  Metals are obviously the more traditional of your options and are available in a variety of colors that can suit the decor of your home.

Glass urns have recently become popular.  Stained or tinted glass can be an elegant way to keep your pet’s memory alive.  These glass pet urns are available in many styles and any color imaginable.  The glass urn is a little less “stuffy” than its metal counterpart and would fit a more modern  home well.

Ceramics and stones are the most customizable urns.  These cat and dog urns can be carved into any shape.  There are many available online that are carved to look like dogs, cats, butterflies or anything else you can imagine.  There are even companies that will allow you to commission a custom urn, perhaps in the shape of your pet or his/her favorite toy.

For those that prefer a more natural choice, there are wooden urns available.  Wood is perfect for the more outdoorsy type.  If your pet loved to run in the park with you, what better way to honor his memory than to have an urn made from the same kind of wood as his favorite tree?

There are many, many choices in choosing the perfect urn to honor your beloved pet.  The process can seem overwhelming at first, but narrowing down your choice by knowing your material preference can make the task a little less daunting.  Once you know what type of urn you want, view my featured lists of photographic, modern or classic urns.