An alloy of copper and zinc, brass is once again at the forefront of home decorating trends. Today’s brass, however, is muted and offers a welcome respite from the flashier rose gold and copper that dominated the design world in years past.
Brass goes well with almost any color, from somber blues and burgundies to pale neutrals like cream and blush.
Increasingly, retailers are offering an assortment of brass items to their customers. From cabinet hardware and faucets to floor lamps and chandeliers, there’s no shortage of options if you want to bring brass into your home. If you’re in the market for a new bedframe, consider one made of this metal.
To prevent your brass from looking dated, choose angular, modern pieces that are brushed to a dull sheen instead of the overpowering shine that was once popular. Keep your pieces looking new by regularly cleaning them with ketchup, tomato juice or a simple solution of lemon and salt.
The zero-waste grocery store: what you should know
Thanks to the rising consumer demand for sustainable products and services, zero-waste grocery stores are popping up worldwide. If you’re unfamiliar, this kind of supermarket is one that offers the same types of goods found at a regular grocery store, minus all the packaging. Here’s what you should know.
Why recycling isn’t enough
Though packaging materials can usually be recycled, producing them requires a combination of raw materials and energy. In addition, recycling itself isn’t a completely green process, as it requires a considerable amount of water and chemicals. Reusing and reducing are greener practices by far.
How zero-waste stores operate
The main objective of zero-waste grocery stores is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Here’s how it works.
• You’ll need to bring reusable bags to carry your fruits, vegetables and bread home.
• You’ll also need Mason jars or another type of container to transport your dried goods, sauces, cleaning products and other items.
• You’ll need to weigh your empty containers and write their weight down so it can be deducted when you pay at the cash.
• It’s recommended that you fill your bags and containers with only as much as you need.
If you don’t already have the reusable containers you need, most zero-waste stores carry them.
Are you ready to reduce the amount of waste your household produces? If so, look for zero-waste stores, farmers’ markets and bulk stores in your area.
Lighting dos and don’ts
Lighting plays a big role in how interior spaces look and feel. Make sure your home is beautifully lit by following these dos and don’ts.
Do tailor the lighting to the room. Kitchens and bathrooms require bright task lights, while bedrooms and dining rooms should have ambient lights.
Don’t exclusively install hanging lights in the dining room. Chandeliers look equally great in entranceways, bedrooms and even bathrooms. Just be sure the one you choose is the right size for the space and that it’s hung at the correct height.
Do use dimmers. Adjusting the brightness in a room is a great way to either add ambience or have more light to see.
Don’t forget to think about your lightbulbs. Task lighting should be bright and stark, while ambient lighting should be soft and warm.
Do use a combination of floor lamps, table lamps and overhead fixtures. Not every room needs all of these but aim to use at least two types.
Don’t forget to match your lampshades and light fixtures to the decor in the room. They should complement and enhance your design choices.
Above all, be sure to call an electrician if you’re moving light fixtures around or need to replace switches. They’ll make sure the work’s done properly, thereby reducing the risk of an electrical fire.
Dimmers don’t just add atmosphere. They also reduce energy consumption and will help your lightbulbs last longer. In addition, some LED bulbs, which are already highly energy efficient, now work with dimmers.
Five types of activities to do with your grandchildren
When you retire you’ll finally have plenty of energy to devote to your family. Here are some suggestions for activities that will allow you to spend some quality time with your grandchildren.
1. Outdoor activities. What could be better than an outing to the park for some family fun? A picnic, Frisbee, ball games, and blowing bubbles will be a hit no matter their ages.
2. Games of all kinds. To keep children busy on rainy days, pull out the board games and card games. And hide and seek never gets old.
3. Arts and crafts. Crafts, drawing (with colored pencils inside or chalk outside), coloring, painting, or modeling clay are all great for developing creativity. You could also make a story book, read a good book together, or just invent stories to tell each other.
4. Knowledge sharing. Share your passions with your grandchildren. Depending on their interests, you can share family recipes with them, teach them to play the piano or sew, or take them out to the garage to poke around in the car engine.
5. Fun things to do. For something out of the ordinary, take them out for a day at the zoo, museum, or farm. You could also go ice skating, eat out, or go see a movie.
There’s no lack of ideas for having fun with your grandchildren. Camping in the backyard, a trip to the library, a day at the beach, or a movie night at home—they are all small pleasures the children will remember for years to come. Retirement allows you to spend quality time with your family.
The fireplace as focal point: how to make it work
If styled right, a fireplace can be a stunning focal point that pulls a room’s entire esthetic together. Here are some ways to dress yours up.
Paint it a bold color
This is a great place to try out a bold tone that you wouldn’t normally use to paint a room. Because of the relatively small size of a fireplace, the color will stand out without overpowering the space.
Wallpaper the space flanking it
Paint the fireplace a neutral color and apply eye-catching wallpaper to the wall space on either side of it. Choose a design that invokes the room’s style or theme.
Hang striking artwork
A large piece of art that occupies both the horizontal and vertical space above the fireplace is sure to draw the eye. The piece you choose will affect the room’s overall feel, so be sure to select something you love.
No matter how you style your fireplace, your choices will make an impact. Carefully consider the impression you want to make and design the feature accordingly.
Safety tips for snowmobile season
January 18 to 26 is International Snowmobile Safety Week, and the theme is Safe Riders! You make snowmobiling safe. Here’s a rundown of some of the most important safety practices to follow when operating a snowmobile.
Precautions to take before leaving
Plan your trip in advance and practice staying safe by adhering to the following:
• Choose trails that you know well or that you’ve researched in advance.
• Make sure your snowmobile is tuned up.
• If it’s your first time using a snowmobile, don’t take it out until you’ve familiarized yourself with how to use it. Be sure to take it slow during your first ride.
• Avoid snowmobiling alone and give someone who won’t be in your company an itinerary that includes your route and the duration of your ride.
• Ensure that you’ve memorized the hand signals used to communicate between snowmobilers.
Staying safe on the trail
Snowmobiles are definitely powerful, which is part of what makes them fun. However, they can also be dangerous should you fail to take the needed precautions. Here’s what you should do:
• Know your limits and the limits of your snowmobile.
• Respect signage and be attentive to your surroundings.
• Stop completely at intersections and look both ways before proceeding.
• Stay on the trail and respect private property.
• Be extra careful when driving at night. Adjust your speed so that you don’t “over-drive” your headlights.
For a more comprehensive list of safety tips, visit the website of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association at snowmobile.org.
Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with kids
On January 20, Americans across the country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday presents a unique opportunity to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader and to follow his example by volunteering. However, for those with children, it’s also an opportunity to help kids understand why it’s more than a day off school. Here are some ways you can share the day with them.
Read to them
There are a number of accessible biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. Reading one with your kids is a great way to teach them about the civil rights movement and, depending on their age, to help them develop their understanding of the ongoing civil rights struggles taking place in America today.
Make a themed craft
For younger or more artistically-minded kids, try creating artwork centered around a theme like peace, diversity, acceptance or generosity. These values are all central to MLK Jr.’s legacy. You could create peace signs, doves or garlands made up of diverse people holding hands.
Bring your kids to museums and libraries holding events for the holiday. These institutions often have activities for younger kids while providing informative installations for older children and teenagers. Some places also hold parades and marches you can attend.
Watch the “I have a dream” speech
If your kids are older, watch the speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a timeless articulation of his message and watching it presents an opportunity for you and your kids to discuss how the speech continues to be relevant today. Perhaps it’ll even provide insight into ways they could volunteer.
Exposing young people to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. is a key way to help keep his message alive. This year, take a bit of time to share his insight and wisdom with your children.