Monday, July 20, 2009
One very lucky Homewood nonprofit organization is getting a greenhouse makeover this summer. The greenhouse, belonging to The Exceptional Foundation, was erected about a year and a half ago by Eagle Scout Mitchell Bruhn. Phyllis Haynes, Event Coordinator at The Exceptional Foundation, says that Mitchell “did the all framework as a Boy Scouts project, but we never had the inside done.”
Now, the vacant inside of the greenhouse is undergoing a major transformation thanks to the Junior League of Birmingham and Scott Stone from Common Ground Produce. While the Junior League will provide volunteers and funding for the project, Scott Stone will revamp the interior of the greenhouse, complete with planting areas and raised beds for wheelchair access. Scott has plenty of design, construction and gardening experience through Common Ground Produce, whose previous projects include the community garden at Mount Laurel and the “Unity Garden” at Girls Inc. of Central Alabama.
Scott’s main goal is to provide The Exceptional Foundation with a functional and aesthetically pleasing addition to the facility. “This will allow the folks here to experience the wonder of watching plants grow in a beautiful and peaceful setting,” he says.
Participants of The Exceptional Foundation have already begun painting the red brick exterior of the greenhouse to a moss green. Later, they’ll draw on their artistic abilities by adding colorful hand painted vines. Phyllis says the participants will also make stepping stones and even give their new greenhouse a name.
Phyllis is hoping the greenhouse will be “in bloom by the end of this summer.” The Exceptional Foundation’s eager participants will be the ones to regularly take care of their greenhouse garden. Scott is ready to get down to the dirty work with the other volunteers and says, “There won’t be any cucumber sandwiches until we harvest the cucumbers from the exceptional garden!”
Birmingham Home & Garden magazine will follow The Exceptional Foundation’s greenhouse project here on our blog, so check back regularly to read about their progress and look at pictures!
Check out our friends online:
The Junior League of Birmingham: www.jlbonline.com
Common Ground Produce’s blog: http://commongroundproduce.blogspot.com/2009/06/weve-got-exceptional-project-coming-up.html
The Exceptional Foundation: www.exceptionalfoundation.org
Birmingham Home & Garden Intern
Thursday, July 9, 2009
You’ve heard it referred to as “the throne” but thanks to the recent advancements in toilets, using the restroom can seem like the royal treatment.
Companies like Brondell, Toto, and Envirolet have set out to send simple porcelain seating down the drain. Here are a few of the most fascinating innovations in flushing:
Brondell’s Breeza is a deodorizing toilet seat. This battery operated wonder has a 4 stage deodorizing system that traps and neutralizes odors. The body-activated smart sensor freshens the air automatically using vent fragrances in Citrus and Eucalyptus, Rainforest, or Jasmine and Lavender. The air is purified with an odor-absorbing carbon replacement filter, and the fragrances available last for 6 months. Priced at $155, the Brondell Breeza may just bring a breath of fresh air to the restroom experience.
Birmingham Home & Garden Intern
Available in August 2009, the Perfect Flush is Brondell’s first economical existing toilet upgrade. Using dual flush technology, this restroom improvement is designed to improve water efficiency by 30-50%. A half-flush/full-flush option is present to reduce the amount of water used, and the Perfect Flush serves to prevent landfill waste with its dual, adjustable flush volume. The upgrade fits most one and two piece tank toilet fixtures and has an installation time of just 30 minutes. For $119, the Perfect Flush provides an environmentally aware alternative to the typical lavatory.
Toto combines the traditional toilet with the bidet for its sleek looking Washlet S400. With a spray of aerated warm water for front and rear washing, a massage feature, and a 3 temperature warm air drying function, this bathroom wonder has the appearance of a toilet but the convenient cleanliness of a bidet. The Washlet S400 also has an automatic open/close lid and an autoflush activated sensor for the ultimate hands-free experience. Even the seat is temperature can be controlled thanks to a wireless remote with an LCD panel. Ranging between $1,985 and $2,283, the Washlet S400 is a fascinating fusion of convenience and comfort.
Toto’s Neorest 600 is a tankless toilet that uses the integrated Washlet system. Using just a little over a gallon per flush, the Neorest 600 is ideal for those trying to save water. It features a rimless design for a clean bowl rinse and the lid opens and closes automatically. Using the Washlet technology, 3 cleansing modes are present with adjustable positioning of the spray and users can choose between oscillating or pulsating comfort washing. The toilet is covered in SanaGloss glaze for shiny sanitation and the air purifying system provides a scentless restroom experience. Toto’s high performance Neorest 600 costs between $5,460 and $6,279.
Envirolet merges vacuum flush technology with environmentally conscious composting in its FlushSmart Vacuum Flush Composting Toilet System. The toilet uses less water per flush than regular toilets (just 0.2 liters) and recycles waste into compost with aeration and pulverizing action. Perfect for installation in unconventional places like basements and work shops, single tank models range between $3,499 and $3,999 while double tank capacity models cost from $5,699 to $6,199.
Birmingham Home & Garden Intern
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Even though spring is gone and summer is here, doesn’t mean that allergy season left us. With the warm weather and long days, you and your family are bound to spend more time outside than ever. Here are some tips to help keep the outdoor allergies out and a clean allergen free space inside.
The most common indoor allergens are dust mites, mold, and pets.
While no home can be 100% allergen free, there are several things you can do to help reduce your indoor allergens.
Tips to reduce dust allergens:
1. Reduce clutter- while the occasional knickknack on the coffee table can be aesthetically pleasing, your sinus’s will be much more pleased without being subjected to the dust settling on said knickknacks and other clutter. If you must have some ‘organized chaos’ within your home, just remember to keep your space tidy and dust regularly, to avoid unnecessary exposure to the allergen.
2. Remove carpet - carpet is a great place for dust mites to live and breed, by removing it you can significantly reduce your families exposure to dust mites. Try hardwoods or tile floors that can easily be wiped clean.
3. Wash bedding weekly in 130 degree water - dust mites thrive in fabrics, so by washing them once a week you keep your bedroom out of the ‘danger zone’ for an allergy attack. At a temperature of 130 degrees dust mites cannot survive and your fabrics are washed clean.
4. Keep humidity low- dust mites can breed and multiply when the humidity is high, try keeping your home’s humidity between 40-50 percent or below. At this humidity dust mites cannot survive.
5. Clean weekly - by keeping your house clean with a regular sweeping, mopping, and dusting of surfaces, you will not only help prevent allergies but the clean sweep will also cut down on pesky bacteria lurking around your home. (word to the wise: try to avoid cleaning products with harsh chemical scents, or you will only end up sneezing or wheezing more)
6. Mattress enclosures and pillow covers - by encasing your mattress and pillows, an area where you hopefully spend about eight hours or so, you cut out about eight hours of direct exposure to dust. Dust mites thrive in fabrics, and the biggest area of fabric is most likely your bed. So encase it, and eliminate unnecessary exposure! It is recommended that mattress and pillow covers be washed 3-4 times a year in warm water.
Tips to reduce mold:
Mold can generate wherever there is moisture, oxygen, and some organic matter. The best way to prevent it is by making an atmosphere that is difficult for mold to grow.
1. Get rid of any non-washable items that show evidence of mold
2. Repair areas that show signs of moisture damage, moisture left unattended can become a breeding ground for mold.
3. Wash out tubs, shower stalls and curtains, as well as bathroom windowsills with a disinfectant regularly to eliminate mold and mildew
4. Humidifier- using a humidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent during the more humid months, greatly reduces mold’s chances at survival.
5. Exhaust fan- having a fan to air out the kitchen and bathroom can help vent excess moisture.
Wash/brush weekly - Your pet can pick up all kinds of things in their fur, especially if they are kept outdoors. By grooming your pet weekly you will keep not only your pet but you more healthy by helping remove any unwanted items in your pet’s coat.
Seeing as how dander (dead skin flakes) can not be vacuumed out entirely and can remain in fabrics for over a year, keep pets out of your bedroom and off of the furniture if at all possible.
Pollen and mold spores can settle on clothing. To avoid bringing the allergens into your home after being outside for an extended period of time, it is a smart idea to shower and change clothing.
- If you’re looking for allergy free cleaning supplies, check out AchooAllergy.com, the nation’s fastest growing allergy, asthma, and sinus relief products retailer.