Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 11/27/2017

There are few things more frustrating than finding out that the plants youíve been tending to all summer have been overrun with insects and arenít producing any fruit. Perhaps even worse is when you find a trail leading into your pantry where your food has been compromised by a tiny army of ants.

Keeping the pests out of your home and garden is a difficult task made even harder if you want to do it without using harsh chemicals and pesticides. However, there are ways you can effectively keep your food safe. In this article, weíll show you how.

Protecting your garden from pests

The most important tool you have at your disposal when it comes to protecting your lawn, flowers, and garden from pests is your own vigilance.

In the garden, take note of the condition of your plantsí leaves. Look on the underside of them for small, yellow or brown dots. These are often insect eggs that will soon hatch and result in your plants being devoured before they can produce crops.

As a last-ditch effort to keep the bugs away, you can try spraying your plants with a homemade insecticidal soap spray. These sprays are usually 95% water and then a small amount of  pure castile soap or vinegar. Be sure not to use too much or this can harm your plants or soil.

Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or in the country, there are likely to be some furry creatures who see your garden as a food source. One way to keep many away is by framing the garden with a simple metal wire fence.

If itís flowers youíre worried about, try planting them in mulch and keeping the leaves dry when possible. This will avoid excess moisture which can cause plant-killing diseases. Using a watering can rather than a hose will help you target the base of the plant and keep the leaves dry.

Keeping the bugs outside

Regardless out whether your home is old or new, youíll likely someday find yourself with an insect problem. Some are lured in by warmth in the cold seasons, others are seeking a food source.

Letís begin on the exterior of your home. Check for cracks in your foundation and along doors and windows and seal these cracks up. Next, if thereís a space under your door, install an aluminum door threshold if there is a gap between your door and the floor. While youíre there, make sure the weather stripping on your door is in good condition.

Next, make sure all of the screens in your doors, windows, and other ventilation areas are in good condition. Even the tiniest tear can be enough to let in flies and other insects. 

The final step in keeping the bugs out of your home is to remove whatís luring them there in the first place. Store your food in airtight storage containers within your cabinets. Not only will this keep bugs away, but it can also make organizing food easier, especially things you might not use often, like flour or a large bag of sugar.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/19/2015

For most of us cleaning is no fun. There are some hidden secrets that can make cleaning just a little bit easier. Here are some little known cleaning tips: -Remove grease and dirt build up from kitchen cabinets. Say to clean cabinets, 1st heat slightly damp sponge or cloth in microwave for 20 - 30 seconds until it's hot. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, spray cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner containing orange oil, then wipe off cleaner with a hot sponge. -Soak old paintbrushes in hot vinegar for 30 minutes and good as new. -Clean that oily, sticky residue off of appliances with a little Cream of Tarter mixed with a few drops of water, add some scrubbing! -Get a clean microwave by filling a microwaveable bowl with 1-2 cups of water and add a dash of vinegar (about a tablespoon or two). Put the bowl in the microwave, shut the door, and turn it on for 5 minutes. -Chalk will remove grease stains from clothes. Simply rub the stain with chalk, then toss in the wash as normal.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 10/24/2014

It seems everyone has an opinion on the best way to wash hardwood floors. Some say soap and water, others polish, or wax. It can all be very confusing. These tips will help you have your hardwoods happily gleaming in no time. In order to know how to clean your floors you will first need to determine the finish. In other words, you will need to know how your wood floor is sealed. It is the finish, not the wood type that determines how you clean and care for the floor. Surface-sealed floors: If your hardwoods are newer they are most likely sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic. These floors are the easiest to clean. All they need is a sweep, a quick mop and just like that you are done! Penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors: Another type of common hardwood floor is a penetrating seal or oil finish. These soak into the wood grain and harden. This type of floor can be difficult to maintain, these floors must be be protected with liquid or paste wax. Lacquered, varnished, shellacked and untreated floors: Another fussy floor to deal with, these floors need to be protected with liquid or paste wax. They are not as resistant to moisture, spills and wear and tear. If you don't know what kind of finish you have rub your finger across the floor. If no smudge appears, the floor is surface sealed. If you do create a smudge, the floor has been treated with a penetrating seal, oil finish, shellac, varnish or lacquer, and then waxed.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 4/11/2014

These days everyone is looking to go green? Knowing when, how and where to start can be the hard part. So, why not start in the kitchen? Here are some items from your kitchen that you can use on your way to a greener home. Baking Soda Baking soda can be an effective cleanser for your bathroom. Use one cup of baking soda mixed with a teaspoon of liquid soap, a bit of water, and a few drops of antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) make a great cleaner. Milk Milk can be used as an all natural stain remover. Soak the stained garment in a bowl of two parts milk and one part white vinegar. This works especially well for ink stains. Herbs Many herbs are natural cures for aliments like stress, digestion, immunity, and more. Use seeds from plants like lavender, mint, lemon balm, and thyme to make your own natural remedies. Compost Pail Make your own nutrient rich soil to grow plants in by composting. Keep an airtight container in your kitchen and use it to dispose of food scrap items such as vegetable and fruit waste, meal leftovers, coffee grounds, tea bags, stale bread, grains, and general refrigerator spoilage. Reusable Tote When you shop for all of these items make sure to use a reusable tote. You can find these for sale at grocery stores and other shopping centers. This will cut down on plastics.