The moment anyone mentions energy-efficient cooking, the term “Crock-Pot” often pops up. Although this appliance is a tried-and-true method to lower cooking costs, there are other tools and strategies out there ready to be explored. You don’t have to buy any extremely expensive tools either to make your household as green and low-cost as possible.
Copper is Your Conductive Friend
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, copper-based pans pose a better conductive surface for cooking than other materials. Copper’s pure metal makeup allows heat to flow swiftly and evenly across a cooking pan. This heating prowess reduces cooking times substantially, lowering energy bills as a result. Although copper cookware is slightly more expensive than other types, they last for years with the right care.
The Obligatory Heat Wave
With today’s volatile climate across the nation, there’s almost always a temporary warm up during the winter. Take advantage of these sudden summer days to break out the propane-powered barbeque. Grill up all the family’s favorites, including hot dogs, hamburgers and steaks. All this cooked meat reheats quickly during the workweek, reducing the use of indoor appliances and lowering energy costs. The propane to power the barbeque is typically low-cost even when an entire refill is necessary.
Break Out the Small Appliances
If it’s just you relaxing at home, there’s no need to turn on a major appliance. Pull out those small appliances packed at the rear of the cabinet. Make yourself almost any meal you like with a rice steamer, panini press or toaster oven. Although small appliances use electricity as their power source, they don’t require much wattage compared to an entire stovetop or oven. If you’re at home alone for much of the day or week, you could see considerable energy savings.
Cook Big and Reheat
When the entire family is ready for a meal, there must be a large food volume for everyone. If you need to cook big on the stove or in the oven, prepare more food than necessary for one meal. All the leftovers can be reheated throughout the week in the microwave. You’ll spend the energy to cook the food initially, but save on fuel as you consume the leftovers with minimal reheating times afterward.
A tried-and-true method of many cooks when dealing with frozen meat is to either cook it for a long time at a low temperature, then raise the temperature, or let it thaw under running water. These two methods might work well, but they’re resource-wasters. Reduce energy costs and overall cooking times by defrosting meats in the refrigerator a few days ahead of time. For homes with avid cooks, you’ll notice the cooking time changes dramatically.
Wintertime is traditionally known as the baking period, with comfort foods galore on the menu. You can still have all your oven favorites, from lasagna to rib roast, without getting a huge energy bill. Be aware of your cooking habits and alter them to drop both the gas and electric bills substantially.
For more energy ideas to help you save money visit Modernize.
Guest post written by Jane Blanchard.
Nothing sparks conversation around the table more than unique dinner pieces – and Natural Wood Decor plenty of them. Each made from sustainable wood, these pieces make entertaining easy, stylish, and eco friendly. For example, the small driftwood tea lights are made from naturally fallen wood and the honeycomb three bowl server and three-section appetizer disk are made from reclaimed mango wood. Finally, the square plates, wine racks, and cheese boards are made from Chinese Fir stumps left by logging operations. Removing these stumps to create such pieces encourages faster reforestation.
The pieces are not only sustainable; they’re also functional. Natural Wood Decor’s root wood wine rack can hold up to six bottles of wine that pair perfectly with an array of cheeses that are made more elegant by the root wood cheese board. You can easily separate each delicious appetizer in the reclaimed mango wood pieces, while the driftwood tea lights set the dinner table aglow and bring a tranquil vibe to any gathering. And guests will want to gobble their food up fast just to be able to gaze at the beautiful work in the hand-carved square plates.
According to www.dosomething.org, the average person creates more than four pounds of trash per day. We, as humans, can do better – and it’s easier than we think. We’ve all heard the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but there’s more to reducing our waste than repeating a mantra and separating your glass and paper from the trash. Don’t get us wrong; recycling is great. It is one important way to reduce your waste. It’s just one of the most commonly known ways. We want to give you something more. Here are a few quick tips to reducing your waste that you may not have thought of before.
Yes, “reuse” is in that aforementioned mantra, but we’re including it in our tips because there are a few new reusable products that we want to highlight. Companies now sell reusable snack and sandwich bags that can not only be reused, but also washed. They also come in a number of designs to give your lunch a little style. Along the same lines, bring your reusable take-out containers to restaurants with you, so you won’t have to put your leftovers in harmful Styrofoam containers. Since Keurigs hit the market, they’ve been under scrutiny about the amount of waste they create with their K Cups. If you need that instant coffee, enjoy it through a reusable K Cup filter. Ladies, you know first hand the amount of waste that comes with feminine products during that particular time of the month. There have been great strides in creating more eco-friendly products for this. Companies now make such products as washable cloth menstrual pads and reusable menstrual cups.
Read from the Screen
Reduce your paper waste by investing in a kindle and various subscriptions online. Newspaper and magazines have some of their content online for free, but there are also subscriptions on their websites that are sometimes cheaper than the paper subscriptions.
Avoid the Trash Can
Reduce organic waste by composting such leftover kitchen scraps as fruits, vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds. You can use the compost to condition your soil and add nutrients to plants.
Shop Second Hand
Not only can you reduce your waste, you can reduce others’ waste by buying it. Shop at second-hand stores to purchase a few items that would otherwise be filling the landfill. You may find a hidden gem at an extremely reduced price.
BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag
Instead of deciding between paper and plastic (paper is way better), use your own bag. You can purchase reusable, cloth grocery bags at a number of different stores. The best part is that they are reusable and more durable than most paper or plastic bags, meaning you can fit more groceries in them.
For those who love gardens and are passionate about gardening, the winter season may seem to drag on with no end in sight. The frozen ground may make it impossible to plant anything and the blistery air, snow, and ice would kill anything that somehow magically sprouted through.
Luckily there’s something for every gardener – even the light gardener – to get his or her fix this winter.
Wear Your Garden
Carry your garden wherever you go with this little eco-system that is not only cool, it’s fashionable. Each tiny terrarium comes with pebbles, dirt, and mosses from a North Carolina garden.
Enjoy Minimum Care
Air plant terrariums are home to small, exotic gardens that do not require too much care. Air plants do not need soil to grow and only require indirect light and a mist of water every few days.
Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. They can be used to decorate the home throughout the winter season. Living wreaths provide gorgeous décor and a living garden right on your door or wall. Woven with air plants, the wreaths only require indirect sunlight and a few spritzes of water two to three times per week.
With a Rainy Pot, you’ll bring a garden inside and the natural way plant’s get fed. The pot mimics raindrops and provides a gentler watering process than just pouring water into the pot. Plus it allows plants to hang on the walls, creating adorable décor.
Living Moss Wall
We fell in love with the living moss wall when we first found it for our blog post on bathroom design inspiration. In that post, we learned that you can cover an entire wall in flora and it looks fabulous.
Grow Your Own Veggies
You’ve heard of growing your own herbs indoors, but have you heard of growing your own avocado tree or celery stalk indoors? By keeping the seed from an avocado and suspending it over a water-filled glass (covering about an inch of the seed), you can grow your own avocado plant. If you place the heart from your celery bunch in water and provide it with good sunlight, you can grow a new stalk, which can be harvested at eight inches (after you transfer it to soil when it is two inches tall).
The bathroom may not be the first room your guests see when they walk into your home, but it is one of the first rooms you see when you wake up in the morning and prepare for the day ahead of you. It’s the place you go to cleanse your body and, with the right décor, it could be the place you go to cleanse your mind and soul. Here are a few of our favorite bathrooms that had decorators who understood the importance of an exquisitely decorated bathroom.
The porcelain pieces in this room pop – and it isn’t just because of their bright color in an otherwise all-wood interior. It’s also because of their contemporary design in a traditional barn setting. We also love the soft lighting that pairs well with the warm interior and the just-enough-sunlight popping through the small window above the bathtub.
We can’t get enough of that wood accent wall, which stands in grandeur amongst a gorgeous marble interior. The terracotta statue is an intriguing addition that enhances tranquility and matches the color scheme perfectly.
All we can say is, that wall! This custom living wall comes covered with herbs, geraniums, and mosses and adds textural and natural elements to the room. The freestanding, soaking bathtub below the wall provides the perfect fit for Natural Wood Decor’s teak bath bar.
We fell in love with this gorgeous makeshift outdoor escape the second we saw it. From the palm tree and big plants to the wood stepping stones and natural light pouring through the ceiling, this bathroom is the perfect example of an oasis hidden in the middle of a home.
The various textures – soft curtains, stone, wood, and even antlers – coexist beautifully in this rustic bathroom because the colors all meld together very well. The deep bathtub and large windows allow bathers to curl up in a warm soak while peering out into a wintry scene. Natural Wood Decor’s teak bath decor would also go great with this bathroom design.
The décor really plays up the length of this bathroom, which features a number of vintage elements that give off an incredibly elegant vibe. The tub fits perfectly in its little nook to keep from taking space in this narrow, transitional bathroom.
Whether you are shopping for gifts or yourself, check out our sister sites Natural Wood Decor and Natural Rug Co, they are having a 30% off sale today through Cyber Monday! (Natural Wood Decor’s sale is site wide and Natural Rug Co’s is on select bamboo rugs.)
You’ll find great kitchen and dining products like the Root Wood Party Platter below at Natural Wood Decor and stylish and easy to clean bamboo rugs that are perfect for the entryway at Natural Rug Co.
Throwing a party can sound like a great idea – until it’s the day of and your stress limit is through the roof while you run around crafting cocktails and entrees and making sure everything is in place. While it may feel like your stress won’t leave until the last guest does, there are various steps you can take to enjoy stress free entertaining. Here, we list our top 7 ways to entertain your guests without feeling the stress and pressure of hosting.
Keep Up with Your Calendar
Plan ahead and do as much as you can before the day of the party. Organize your rooms and give your home a deep cleaning a week in advance. Then you’ll only have to do light cleaning one or two days before. Shop for your party a few days in advance – buy any produce or things that need to be fresh (like flowers) the day before or the day of. The day before your guests arrive, set the table and prepare any cold appetizers and entrées or ones that taste just as good when they are reheated. Plan what you need to do each day leading up to the big day and stay on track with those errands.
Lists will help you stay sane and organized. A shopping list will help you know what’s been purchased already and what you still need to get. It keeps you from over spending and over shopping – as long as you stick to it. In the same way, a to do list keeps you on track – especially if your attention span is limited. It will show you what’s been done and what you still need to do. And it just feels so good when you cross something off; you may feel a sense of relief with each task that’s completed. To keep from crafting a lengthy, intimidating list, break each list down by the day you can complete each task. That way, each day will have a smaller list.
Keep it Simple
While those spectacular cocktails may look simple on Pinterest, believe us, they’re not. Making really complex cocktails may wow the crowd, but trying to master it could eat up precious planning time and it could get expensive. Usually, multi-faceted cocktails require a number of ingredients, including expensive liqueurs, muddled fruits, and a variety of spirits. Along with that, some cocktails call for exact measurements or more refined tastes. Guests might be impressed by the way a drink looks, but the way it tastes is more important. What’s the point of a drink if no one wants to drink it?
Keep it Familiar
Now is not the time to try a new recipe. There’s too much risk involved including messing up the ingredients to overcooking the food. You might cook it perfectly, but without tasting it beforehand, you may not even know that you just don’t like the entrée. Stick with tried and true recipes. Stick to an entrée that you’re known for and that has received a ton of compliments from your guests. It’s ok to give them what they’re expecting. At least you know they’ll be happy.
Keep it Real
This goes along with keeping it simple and familiar. Nothing will stress you out more than trying too hard to impress others. Your guests are invited for a reason and hopefully that reason is because they are close friends or family and they enjoy spending time with you. Read that again: they enjoy spending time with YOU. Don’t stress over trying to be someone you’re not and throw a party that is just your style instead. It’ll be easier to plan and put on than something you are not accustomed to.
Keep Your Guests in Mind
Without guests, you can’t entertain. So make sure you make your guests happy. Keep them in mind when planning your menu. Find out if any of your guests have food allergies or dietary restrictions. Is your best friend vegan? Have a meatless option. Is your aunt severely allergic to nuts? Keep nuts absolutely out of the party. If the allergy is life threatening, make sure your other guests know not to bring anything with the allergen in it.
Along with knowing your guests diets, know their personalities. Do you have a friend who always brings extra guests? Plan for a few extra, uninvited guests. If you have two friends who can’t stand to be in the same room together, maybe invite just one of those friends. If you have a guest who always drinks a little too much, have a guest room or cab company ready for them.
Keep Calm and Just Have Fun
Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your own party. Some things just happen and there is nothing you can do about it. The sooner you accept that, the less stressed you’ll feel.