Tuesday, August 29, 2017

4 Exotic Plants for Summer Containers

Courtesy of DK Books - How to Grow
Photo By: DK - How To Grow Practically Everything, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Hi Friends,

Create the feeling of the tropics and inject spicy colors and scents onto your outdoor space with these beautiful plants starting with our featured Glory lily (Gloriosa superba). A Climbing plant, about 6 feet tall.

Angel's Trumpet

Mature size: 6 feet tall, 3 feet wide


Mature size: 3 feet tall and wide, depending on variety

Tropical Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Mature size: 3 feet tall and wide In all but the mildest climates, bring all these plants indoors for winter.

Happy planting...

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Live well,

Sunday, August 27, 2017

8 Apps That Make Life So Much Easier

Courtesy of Erica Reitman
Photography by Sebastien Cote
Graphic by Erica Reitman

Hi Friends,

Not our normal post; no recipes or design ideas but we felt they were such good finds that we definitely had to share; hope they're useful.

Here we go...

The new Aaron Sorkin-written, Danny Boyle-directed Steve Jobs movie, starring Michael Fassbender, releases nationwide this Friday, October 23. As we patiently await the widely-anticipated premiere, we're geeking out (behind the screen) with some of our favorite life hack apps. Stay efficient, friends.

Level Money

Click here for LEVEL MONEY

There are almost too many awesome budgeting apps to mention here, but this app provides you with a simpler approach to your money: how much can I spend today? This is not the app to choose to manage a large budget for a family of four or to track your every expense; however, if you're looking for an easy-to-use, straightforward solution to keep track of how much SPENDABLE cash you have available at all times, it's a great choice.


Click here for ACORNS

If you're not necessarily the best at increasing your savings account but want to try to work toward your nest egg, Acorns is a super easy and satisfying app to try. The idea is that Acorns takes small amounts of extra money, i.e. your "spare change" (either by rounding up a purchase or by putting aside a certain amount of money at regularly scheduled times) and invests it for you in the background. You sort of just set it and forget it, and before you know it, you have a nice little chunk of change piling up.

Amazon Prime Now

Click here for AMAZON PRIME NOW

I was already in love with Amazon's Prime service, but now that I've discovered Prime Now, I might actually propose. While you don't have access to all of the items on Amazon, this app allows you to order a limited number of items, as well as food and groceries from local participating stores, that will arrive at your house in less than an hour. It's like magic.

Key Ring

Click here for KEY RING

If, like me, your wallet is packed to the max with loyalty cards to every store under the sun, you need Key Ring pronto. This app allows you to ditch your physical loyalty cards and add them all one by one so that your phone can easily be scanned at the register. You simply snap a picture of your card's barcode, as well as the front and back of the card, and you're good to go.

Our Groceries

Click here for OUR GROCERIES

For those of us with more than one hungry member of our household, keeping track of the family grocery list is no easy task. This simple app keeps your lists synced up on all of your devices, with all members of your household. It also allows you to create multiple lists, so you can keep running shopping lists for every store you need (drugstore, Costco, Trader Joes), certain members of the family or even special events (Thanksgiving or baby shower).


Click here for SHYP

This app is so cool, it almost makes me want to open an Etsy shop! Basically, Shyp helps you mail out everything without any of the hassle. You simply set up a shipment on the app, then someone shows up at your house, takes your item (unwrapped!) and arranges shipment through the most economical means possible. You pay the shipping fee and a small service fee but get to skip all of the annoying things that come along with mailing out a package.

Mail to Self

Click here for MAIL TO SELF

While there are built-in options for sharing virtually all of the info on your phone, you still have to go through several steps if you want to mail yourself a link to an online post or article. Mail to Self is a handy little app that, once installed, allows you to mail anything directly into your inbox with just one click. Hello, efficiency!

True confessions: I usually have approximately one million tabs open on my browser at any given time, so it's no surprise that my Safari open-page count is always sky high, too. I'm constantly coming across interesting articles, blog posts and videos that I want to save, read or watch later, and Pocket is the perfect app to help me organize it all in one spot. It also syncs up across your devices, so whether you access it on your phone or online, you always have your reading/watch list queued up and ready to go. Click here for POCKET.

Just for Fun
Just because we all love a good GIF, here are a few bonus apps that won't necessarily make your life any easier, but they will make it way more fun.

Giphy Cam: This app allows you to quickly create a GIF using your phone's camera, add silly effects (like dancing cats) and easily share it on social media. Click here for GIPHY CAM.

Giffiti: Add hilarious GIFs, like Britney Spears rolling her eyes or Donald Trump dancing, to images already in your photo library. Click here for GIFFITI.

Now, have fun...

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Live well,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An 8-Step Game Plan for the Reluctant Minimalist

Courtesy of Erica Reitman

Hi Friends,

I'm guessing you've heard the "ditch everything in your home that doesn't bring you joy" advice before? I'm also guessing that you may have rolled your eyes when you heard it. If you're interested in exploring the concept of minimalism but you're not quite ready to purge everything, you might be a reluctant minimalist. This means you're not quite ready to commit to the life-changing magic of, well, anything, but you do want to make sure that your home is organized, purposeful and not overrun with crap.

I've put together a step-by-step game plan for all of you wannabe minimalists who still might be skeptical of this whole minimalism thing.

1: Time to Purge (But Not Everything)

Look, I can't really tackle this minimalism thing without doing a bit of purging. But don't worry — I'm not going to make you get rid of everything in your closet. And if you happen to have a collection of 54 rolls of wrapping paper that you can't give up, that's cool, too. However, I want you to look at your space and do an honest assessment of anything that really is ready to go.

A good place to start is in your closet. But this shouldn't feel like a scary assignment; you're really just taking a look at anything you don't wear anymore and making room for new stuff. ThredUp is an online vintage clothing site that will send you a "Clean Out" envelope. Basically, you put all of your unwanted clothes in there, then put your pre-paid package back in the mail. They take care of everything else. They'll look through your clothing, see what they might be able to resell and donate anything they can't. It's simple.

Amazon also just started a program that makes it easy to donate clothing, accessories or household goods you don't need anymore. Simply take an Amazon box from any of your recent deliveries, fill it with items you'd like to donate, then print a shipping label from givebackbox.com. Once they receive your items, they'll donate them to local charity organizations for you.

2: Whatever You Keep Needs a Home

Alex Deringer and Courtney Cox; 2 Ivy Lane

Once you've done your mini-purge, you need to assess everything that's staying. Your rule should be: If it stays, it must have a home. So that means: If you want to keep your 54 rolls of wrapping paper, you need some place to put them all. (And in a plastic bag behind the couch doesn't count.)

If you're keeping items that don't have a home right now, no problem — you just need to find one for them. This might mean buying a few bins for your shelves or cleaning out a closet to make more room for your craft supplies. Just make sure that if something is staying, it has a place to go.

3: Organize Spaces You've Ignored

Marian Parsons, Mustard Seed Interiors

While you're in organizing mode, now is a good time to also tackle those forgotten spots in your house. For most of us, this might mean junk drawers, linen closets, attics, basements or even the garage.

If this feels like an overwhelming task, commit to tackling one of them one day a month until you feel like the space is organized.

4: Develop Systems

Melissa George, Polished Habitat

Developing systems for dealing with your stuff will help ensure that your home doesn't get to an out-of-control state again. Each family has different needs, but you can develop systems based on all of your own habits.

This might include developing a system for dealing with receipts (set up a catchall bin in your office), managing the mounds of laundry in your home (adding pretty hampers to each room) or even a system for handling the groceries when you come back from the store. Once you have your systems in place, practice sticking with them. It might take a while, but eventually, they'll become habits.

5: Take a Deep Dive Into Each Room

Now is also a good time to take a good, hard look at each room in your house to ensure it's functioning the way you need it to. For example, if your daughter's room is always a mess, figure out a way to keep things more orderly by adding a chest so you can quickly get toys and books out of the way or by pulling in some baskets that can slide under the bed to store messy items.

6: Bring Less Into Your House

Another great way to ensure that you keep your space feeling clutter-free is to bring fewer things in. If you're sick of piles of mail all over the place, keep a recycling bin in your garage so you can ditch any unwanted letters or catalogs before bringing them into the house. Try setting up a designated space to store extra shopping bags so you can hide them away as soon as you're done unloading your groceries. If you're feeling a bit overloaded with kids' art, create an area in your mudroom or garage to file away each child's creations.

7: Get Your Family Involved

Julie Soefer Photography

Another great way to get on the minimalism train (and make sure you stay there) is to get your family involved. Teach your kids about giving by donating things they're no longer using. Set up one day per month where you and your kids go through their toys and clothes and pick out anything they might be willing to donate. You can set a goal of three items per month so it doesn't feel overwhelming. Call it "Giving Day," and put a note on your calendar so you don't forget.

8: Give Yourself a Break

James Angus and Jamie Bolton, The Cavender Diary

This is, perhaps, the most important rule for the reluctant minimalist — remember to give yourself a break. There's no one perfect way to go minimal in your home. The fact that you're even thinking about minimalism and making small efforts is a really big deal. So don't worry if you're not ready to tackle everything on this list. Maybe just pick one and start from there. Baby steps are totally A-OK.

Sometimes lots (and lots) of wrapping paper brings you joy and that's OK too...

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Live well,

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stop Household Clutter: Things to Get Rid of Right Now

Courtesy of HGTV
Photo By: Faith Durand, Elana's Pantry

Hi Friends,

Ready to rid your house of clutter? Start here with these items you're sure not to miss. Old Spices is a great start. Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months. A simple test? Give each one a wiff. If there's no scent, there will be no flavor. Go ahead and toss it!

Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush once every three months for maximum brushing power.

Unidentified Frozen Objects

Photo By: DK - House Works, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Toss any unidentifiable objects in the refrigerator or freezer.

Cookbooks You Never Use

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Give unused to your foodie friends who will get more use out of them.

Unidentifiable Keys

Most recycling centers have mixed metal bins you can toss old keys in. Make sure to remove any rubber coverings before you recycle.

Business Cards

From: Brian Patrick Flynn
Photo By: Shane Hawkins Photography

Congrats, you just got promoted! And now you've got 300 unused business cards with your old title. Go ahead and recycle them.

Old Chargers and Cables

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Jones

A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

Old Paint

Photo By: malerapaso

If it's more than a year old, throw it out. (You'll probably have moved on to the next color sensation by then, anyway.)


From: Ellen Foord

If you think you might return it or need to keep a reciept for a warranty, try scanning the receipts and keeping copies online instead of an old shoebox.

Appliance Manuals

From: Ellen Foord

Most appliance manuals have an online version. Keep really important ones together in a folder.

Soap Scraps

From: Genevieve Gorder
Photo By: Chris Amaral

Unless you're really dedicated to melting down the slivers into one mega-soap, toss them out - now!

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Your kind contribution will allow us to continue sharing great, no cost and cost saving ideas for your space. Click the "Donate" button below to make a contribution. Thank you!

Live well,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Ultimate 1-Hour Kitchen Cleanse

Courtesy of Bridget Mallon
Photography by Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images

Hi Friends,

Get your cooking space in shape in 60 minutes flat...

So you've finished cleaning your closet, but still feel motivated to keep organizing? Don't worry, a one-hour cleanse is possible elsewhere, namely the kitchen.

That's right, even though kitchens are one of the most dreaded places to clean, you really can whip them into shape in just 60 minutes. All it takes is a clear plan, and the understanding that while this isn't going to be an extensive, deep cleaning, it will completely reset your space.

Just like the one-hour closet cleanse, the best way to approach a kitchen cleanse is by designating a set amount of time for each step of your cleaning and organizing process. And while you can certainly choose to change up the order in which you tackle each step, we're partial to the following setup.

Minutes 1-15

One of the biggest sources of kitchen clutter is expired foods and condiments that take up unnecessary space in the fridge, in cabinets or on your counter tops. Similarly, holding onto almost empty boxes or jars is a huge waste of space — case in point: when I did this cleanse, I found four separate jars of salsa and five bottles of hot sauce that each had about two drops left (what can I say, I like my food spicy). So this is the perfect opportunity to purge!

Now, I'm not in any way suggesting you toss perfectly good food that you know you'll use. Instead, you should spend these 15 minutes throwing out only expired foods or packages that are so close to empty you know you will never actually use them again. And if you find non-perishables getting close to their expiration date that you don't like or won't use, set them aside to donate.

Brian Patrick Flynn

Minutes 15-30

Now that you've got your food clutter all situated, it's time to move on to your dishes. And if you're anything like me, this is one area of your kitchen you tend to ignore while organizing. Most dishes already have their own designated spot, so it just becomes second nature to put them right back after they've been used or cleaned. But now's the perfect time to go through everything and tidy up your cupboards and get rid of those cracked or broken pieces.

Start with your glasses and mugs and recycle any that are cracked or damaged. If you come across pieces you don't use any more, but that are still in good shape, set them aside to donate. Then move on to your plates, bowls and utensils, and follow the same steps. If you have serveware, go through those pieces as well. When you're all finished, you should be left with just the essentials, organized to your liking.

Minutes 30-45

Now it's time to move onto your utility items, think: pots and pans, slow cookers, blenders, coffee makers, even all those cooking gadgets you impulsively bought on Black Friday. First things first, if you've never used an item and you've owned it for six months (or a year if it's something you only use seasonally) donate it. Now. That cake ball machine will continue to gather dust and take up precious space unless you take action.

Once you're left with the items you actually use, go through and purge the ones that are no longer in good shape, or that you've been meaning to replace. Holding onto your old non-stick pan that's completely lost its coating is doing you no good. Say goodbye to those pieces now and you'll feel so much better! After you're done, return everything to its proper place and marvel at all your extra storage space.

Jackson Design and Remodeling

Minutes 45-60

Whew, you've made it to the final 15 minutes, and you'll be done with this cleanse in no time! For this last step, all you need to do is give all of your surfaces a quick rubdown — this is not a deep clean, just a little refresh to make everything sparkle (and smell like cleaning supplies, natch).

Finish up by sweeping the floor before treating yourself to a relaxing Netflix binge or homemade cocktail.

Instead of Dinner and a Movie, we'll do Movie and a Cocktail, Cheers!

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Live well,

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Ultimate 1-Hour Closet Cleanse

Courtesy of Bridget Mallon

Hi Friends,

Because who has a full day to dedicate to cleaning, especially a closet, right?

The first week of January may be when resolutions get the most attention, but most of us actually make and break resolutions throughout the year. Think about spring cleaning: it's just another resolution. Same with your summer diet and your deep winter cleaning.

Here's the thing, though: Making a resolution doesn't somehow magically change who you are as a person. So if you've never worked out before, resolving to hit the gym every single day just won't happen (trust me, I've been there). And if you tend to be a little lax with the house cleaning, you won't magically become hyper-organized overnight just because it's your resolution.

That's why I'm a fan of micro-resolutions, or small changes that you can build upon throughout the year. And one of my go-tos is a great way to kickstart your journey to become more organized at home. I call it the 1-hour closet cleanse. (You know how dieters use cleanses to reset their bodies in a short amount of time? It's like that, just for your closet.)

The secret to a successful closet cleanse is understanding this isn't a complete overhaul of your wardrobe (or life) but a way to get you moving in the right direction. Oh, and having a plan going in is also key. So read on for the 3 steps you'll need to take, conveniently broken down into 15 minute increments.

DK - House Works, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Minutes 1-15

Use the first fifteen minutes of your cleanse to remove everything from your closet (yes, seriously). Create one pile for clothes, another for shoes, another for bags and luggage and a final pile for miscellaneous items. Pat yourself on the back for completing step one, and try not to freak out about the mess now taking over your room.

If your closet is bursting at the seams, consider doing a half or a quarter of your wardrobe at a time to truly make this a one-hour project. It's all about progress!

Minutes 15-45

Step two is basically a sped up version of that scene from the Sex and the City Movie where they clean out Carrie's closet, just without the champagne and '80s designer duds. To start, grab three trash bags and designate one for things you can donate, another for items that genuinely need to be trashed and a final bag for the pieces you need extra time to consider.

Instead of tackling each pile item by item, you'll start by quickly pulling out the pieces you know you want to keep — trust your gut on this one — and setting them aside. Next, you'll look through the remaining items in each pile for pieces you can donate. Grab things that are in good condition, and that you don't mind parting with, to add to the donation bag. At this point your remaining piles will (hopefully) be much smaller.


Now it's time to pull out the pieces that are in poor condition. Add each of these items to your bag of stuff to throw out or recycle. Any remaining items get added to your third trash bag, which you'll keep out of sight for the rest of the month. If you find yourself thinking about any of those pieces, or wanting to wear or use them, feel free to add them back to your closet. Everything remaining in the bag after four weeks can be donated.

Minutes 45-60

At this point you've probably broken a sweat, but hey, that's okay, you're almost done! It's finally time to put your beloved items back in your closet. Start with anything that you keep on the floor — but don't just throw everything in willy-nilly — keeping everything neat now will encourage you to stay organized in the future. Next put back the items you keep on hooks or shelves, and finish by hanging your clothes back on the rack.

Finally, stash your bag of items you're unsure about in a hidden spot, and decide on a time to drop off your donations.

Now go pour yourself a glass of wine — you deserve it!


Check back for more great ideas from your friends at Interior Design!

Your kind contribution will allow us to continue sharing great, no cost and cost saving ideas for your space. Click the "Donate" button below to make a contribution. Thank you!

Live well,