Household Chores You Need To Take Care Of This Spring

Opened window with a green field outdoorSpring is the perfect time of the year to give your house a good, thorough cleaning inside and out. You may have a list of things you do every spring to deep clean your home.

Here are seven chores you may have not thought of doing as part of your spring cleaning inside the home, as well as outside. What are they you ask? Let’s examine.

Inside The House

Dryer

dryer vent fire

Image Credit: Air Duct Cleaners

Dryer vent cleaning can help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your dryer, as well as safety. How so? An Austin, Texas based company called – Air Duct Cleaners – explains that about 15,500 fires are started every year due to dryer vents being clogged.

Air Duct Cleaners say that a lint clogged dryer vent can cost a home owner an extract $18-24 a month to dry their clothes. A clean duct means shorter drying time, and your dryer lasts longer.

If you find your dryer taking longer than 40 minutes to dry clothes, or the top of your dryer is hot, there is excess lint on your clothing, or your clothes have a musty, moldy smell, then it’s time to clean your vents.

Furnace

If you keep your home fairly clean, then changing the furnace filter every 3 months is a good idea, and also the manufactures recommendation. Changing out your filter regularly will not restrict air flow (as a dirty filter will), and keeps the furnace from over working. A clogged filter that over works the heater can increase the risk of a carbon monoxide leak.

Sump Pump

sump pump in a house basement

Image Credit: Indiana Foundation Service

 

For those who may not know, a sump pump is used to remove accumulated water that has collected in the sump basin, commonly found in homes that have a basement.

The water enters the basement through the perimeter drains of a basement waterproofing system, funneling into the basin from rain water or natural ground water, specially if the basement is below the water table level (Wikipedia).

If you have a basement with a sump pump, spring is a great time to test it to see that it is clean and operates correctly. Make sure as well that the outflow is draining properly.

Battery Check

carbon monoxide detector Most homes now days have either or both a smoke alarm, and a carbon monoxide detector.

Both units use a 9 volt battery, and it should be changed for a new one every spring, even though the battery may have 6 months to a year more life.

Better to change it than have your home burn to the ground, or stop breathing during the night due to a carbon monoxide leak, because of a dead battery.

Outside The House

There are two things you will want to add to your spring cleaning list outside of your home and they include gutter cleaning, and tree limb trimming.

Gutters

You might clean your gutters in the fall season, but doing it in the spring as well, will save you some costly repairs to your home.

Gutters have drains and spouts, and if they are clogged with last years falling leaves, then rain will not be able to freely flow off your roof.

Gutters and Guards Inc. explain that if your gutters are neglected it can fill with debris, like dead leaves, dirt, pollen and even shingle grit. With spring showers you will have water overflowing, which will cause, water leaks, foundation damage, soil erosion, mold and mildew growth, and standing water.

Clean gutters help carry water away from your homes foundation, so there is no costly repairs.

Tree Trimming

Be sure to prune any dead limbs or branches so they do not break off during fierce seasonal winds. Also if a tree that is covering your walk way leading to your door has dead limbs, you have an increased risk of the limb breaking and falling on visitor’s to your home.

What’s For Lunch

While spring cleaning you may get hungry, so here are some great lunch ideas…

Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

Rotisserie Chicken Baguette Sandwich With Basil

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup found under – Pork – That’s What’s For Breakfast Lunch And Dinner

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Enjoy Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

Enjoy Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

Just because the weather is cold shouldn’t keep you from enjoying in season fresh produce. Nature gives us a collection of its best winter vegetables that have proven to be flavorful. Winter root vegetables can contribute an interdependent, sweet flavor to a hearty winter soup recipe, like carrots, or sweet potatoes.

Roasting most winter vegetables brings out their best flavors. Even using complementary herbs and spices helps add some extra exceptional tastes.

Available In Season Winter Vegetables

Brussels sproutsAlthough Brussels sprouts are available year-round, their peak season is from September to February.

When looking to purchase them, remember to look for small firm sprouts with compact bright-green heads, and the smaller the head the sweeter the taste. Roasting Brussels sprouts lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside.

To view a few recipes using Brussels sprouts one of the following links:

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon – includes a video

Warm Brussels sprouts and Dilled Potato Salad –  includes a video

Brown Butter and Brussels Sprout with Fennel

At All Recipes (allrecipes.com) they call Broccoli the star vegetable in stir-fries, soups, salads, and casseroles. Broccoli can be purchased year round. But when in season, as a winter vegetable when roasted retains its entire flavor and even gains deliciously crisp bits when.

preparing broccoli to eatWhen asked the question – How Do You Describe Broccoli? – to a community of online people at answers.com, one member answered saying, “Broccoli is good chopped into small pieces or cut into larger piece and cooked until tender.

It’s delicious to eat as it is when cooked naturally and also in recipes. The popular dish, broccoli and cheese is made with cooked, tender broccoli before draining and stirring in cheese until it melts and mixes in with the broccoli. You can also make cheese sauces, which you serve, poured over the broccoli on a plate. Either way it is cooked or served, broccoli is a favorite among vegetables and nutritionally powerful” (Answers).

To view a recipe using broccoli click here: Baked Garlic and Broccoli

The Sweet Potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the Convolvulaceae family. This species of plants are known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, which has more than 1,650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs.

Stuffed Sweet Potato with Chipotle Black Bean and Corn SaladThe sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root. There are about 1,000 species of sweet potatoes, with some varieties sold at market for food, while others are not for consumption, as they are poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the common potato, though it is not part the nightshade family.

The website – “The Worlds Healthiest Foods” – has this to say about sweet potatoes when preparing to eat them, “It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable.

Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Of course, this minimal amount of fat can be very easy to include.

In our Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, for example, we include 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and with just this one tablespoon, each of our 4 servings for this delicious recipe provides 3.5 grams of fat (whfoods).

To view a few recipes using sweet potatoes click one of the following links:

Sweet Potato Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans

Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Baked Beets and Sweet Potato Chips

KaleKale is considered to be the most robust of the cabbage family. Its high nutritional worth and intense flavor make kale an exceptional addition too many vegetable recipes. At Mind Body Green, Alison Lewis makes note of kale as “the new beef,” “the queen of greens,” and “a nutritional powerhouse”(MBG).

To view a few recipes using kale click one of the following links:

Red Kale Cannellini Beans and Chorizo Soup

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Red Kale Beets and Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

Leeks are winter root vegetable that looks much similar to onions, and to which they are also related. Their flavor is onion-like but much milder, mellower, and not overpowering, as onions sometimes can be.

The darker green parts have plenty of flavor. They can either be cooked longer then the root parts to tenderize them, or used when making homemade soup stock, like chicken broth base soup along with potatoes, carrots, and herbs.

They can also be eaten raw or joined with a salad of leafy greens to divulge a wonderful crisp crunchy flavor.

Link here for a recipe using leeks: Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken –  includes a video

Turnips are a a round, light-colored root related to the mustard family. Though the vegetable is grown for its eatable root, the top green parts are also enjoyed in salads. Turnip greens are a common side dish in southeastern U.S. cooking, primarily during late fall and winter months.

Smaller leaves are preferred when boiling them in water, as the larger the leaf the stronger the flavor. However, if you find yourself cooking with larger turnip greens, any bitter taste can be reduced by pouring off the water from initial boiling and replacing it with fresh water.

The natural sweetness of Parsnips comes alive when they’re roasted and caramelized. The addition of fresh rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar makes a sweet, aromatic glaze. Roasted parsnips make a great side dish for pork tenderloin.

Link here for a recipe using parsnips :  Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Belgian EndiveThe genuine Belgian endive is deeply rooted in its country of origin – Belgian, were it was discovered in 1830. This compact white colored small cylindrical shaped leaf vegetable with light green tips is a tangy, but tender and delicious vegetable.

Some cooks add the leafy vegetable to soups, while others use it in salads.

Link here for more about endives discovery and for a recipe: Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken –  includes a video

Other winter vegetables that can still be found in your local market are…

Buttercup Squash – Collard Greens – Delicata Squash – Sweet Dumpling Squash – Winter Squash

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Continued Downfall of the Bee Only Intensifies Malnutrition

Continued Downfall of the Bee Only Intensifies Malnutrition

Stone fruits, like cherries, peaches, and nectarines,are pollinated by honeybees. Also peppers, sweet, juicy melons, succulent strawberries, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, are also harvested thanks to the honeybee.

Because of the bees, we are able to prepare:

Ricotta Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Baked Beets and Sweet Potato Chips

Ricatto Stuffed Sweet Mini Peppers

Baked Beets and Sweet Potato Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The foods that we all use the most in our cooking and baking are possible because of the bee. With other pollinators, like butterflies, humming birds , and bats, the bee helps pollinate 100 crops just in the U.S., and that equals to $15 billion worth of pollinated food.

Bee’s are declining since 1994, first noted in France with the use of pesticides on their sunflower seed crops. France has now outlawed the use of any pesticides what so ever to be used on any crop, they also will not import food that is pollinated by bees were pesticides were used.

By 2006 the United States has experienced what is now called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) by scientists, in 35 states. The collapse is due to the pesticides that are used on crops that bees pollinate.

The use of pesticides has compromised the immune system of the bee. When a bee leaves the hive to find flowers to pollinate, it will return to the hive and let other bees know were the pollen is, by doing a dance. But since their immune system is not functioning well, they are either not able to find their way back to the hive, or if they do, they can’t dance to instruct were the pollen is located.

NATURE – Silence of the Bees –  Inside the Hive – PBS

The winter of 2012 lost 33% of all beehives. Scientist are saying that just in the U.S. alone, the declining bee population is very soon going to be unable to meet the pollination needs of the country. What does that mean? Bees pollinate 80% of the crops in the U.S., which is about 1/3 of what we eat.

Have you noticed lately how clothing that used to be 100% cotton is now mixed with other fibers? The reason being , bees pollinate cotton, and with their decline, cotton is becoming harder to seed and grow to produce cotton.

Almonds are going up in price, as bees pollinate 100% of the trees. California imports every summer bees from the Northern plains states, to pollinate the almond trees.

Even the beef and dairy farms will become effected as bees pollinate 60% of the alfalfa used to feed the animals.

What can we personally do to help stop Colony Collapse Disorder? You might think, your only one person, so not much. But there are 5 things you can do.

bees pollinating lavender1. Plant Things That Bees Like: If you want to support the many different varieties of bees which buzz through your yard, plant some things which will feed them, like sage, salvia, oregano, lavender, iron weed, yarrow, yellow hyssop, alfalfa, honey wort, dragon head, echinacea, bee balm, buttercup, goldenrod, and English thyme.

2. Provide Bees a Habitat: A secure place to live is crucial to all bees. Honeybees live in waxy hives, there are other natural bees that make use of many kinds of shelter, such as abandoned animal burrows, dead trees and branches and in underground nest tunnels.

What can you do? Help wood-nesting bees by setting out in the yard a few inexpensive bee blocks. Bee blocks are blocks of wood with holes of different sizes. Provide a mound or two of loose earth, and close to a water source if possible.

3. Eliminate Using Garden PesticidesInvestigate organic and natural means of pest control, at your local garden shop,or on line. You could even visit city hall to ask what natural pesticides the city uses on the public garden areas. Visit OrganicGardenPests.com for some great ideas. Vibrant, chemical-free gardens are a warm and friendly welcome to any of natures wild bees.

Support Your Local Beekeepers4. Let Your Garden Vegetables Go to Seed: Let a few of the leafy vegetables you seeded or planted in your garden go to seed, after harvest.

Seeding plants are the bee’s best chance to stock food before the colder months.

During the winter is when Colony Collapse Disorder is most common.

 

5. Support Local Beekeepers: Search out your local beekeepers and buy honey from them. They no doubt treat the bees responsibly and use no pesticides in their fields.

If you do by honey at the local market, by it at a health food store like Wholefoods Market or Natural Grocers, who only stock honey from beekeepers who use environmentally responsible practices with their beehive colonies.

There are things we can all do, though small, to keep the bees buzzing, so we are able to buzz around our kitchens to prepare cooked and baked nutritious foods that were first pollinated by a bee.

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