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An outdoor landscape that includes camellia shrubs brings gorgeous color for the winter months. The flowers not only brighten an outdoor landscape but can be cut and placed as a centerpiece to warm up a evening dinner during the winter. The foliage on this evergreen shrub is a beautiful dark green that creates an attractive landscape all year long.

January is probably the best time to purchase and plant camellia shrubs in the milder climate zones of the U.S. January is generally the time the camellias will be blooming; this way you will be able to choose the colors you would like to see in your outdoor landscape. It is recommended that you should plant camellia shrubs while they are blooming and before new growth appears. This new growth will appear when the blooms are finished.

The majority of camellia varieties should be planted in an area that receives filtered sun, even though the Camellia Sasanqua is capable of enduring full sun. The landscape area for growing camellias should also be shielded from heavy winds. Scald on the camellia leaves can happen if your shrub receives too much sun. They make excellent foundation shrubs around your house if they are protected by large trees. They can also be planted under trees in a circular fashion around the trunk provided they receive some sun.

The colors of the flowers come in beautiful shades of white, pink, red, or in a combination of these colors. The camellia flowers work well as cut flowers because of their lasting quality. Most varieties can live for 100 years or more and grow as tall as 25 feet. They are a slow-growing shrub and can be pruned to any shape you desire.

For growing camellias properly the soil should be slightly acidic and well drained. A commercial planting mix that is specially made for camellias can also be used. Once your camellias have become acclimated to the area they are quite easy to maintain. The soil should always be moist, but never soggy. Once new growth starts to appear, feed with camellia food but only in moist soil. Water the shrub right after feeding. This process should be repeated every seven weeks into the middle of September. Always follow the directions on the label and do not overfeed.

Camellias have but only a few diseases but usually not in the dry climates. The main disease is called die-back which is due to the glorerella cingulata fungus; if this should happen, prune off all the infected branches to clean wood. Phytophthora cinnamomi root rot is another disease that will generally attack Camellia Japonica. To prevent this latter disease you will need to have good drainage. The ‘winter-hardy’ camellia and the Camellia Sasanquas are generally immune to root rot.

When planting camellias as a hedge you can plant them six feet apart, if not they need to be about eight feet apart. Many ‘winter-hardy’ camellias make excellent hedges. Camellias have beautiful late fall and winter flowers that will brighten up any winter garden. Their bright green shiny leaves will stand out in an outdoor landscape year round.

Eco-Friendly Remodeling Ideas for a Green Kitchen

If you want to remodel your kitchen into an environmentally friendly kitchen, here are some of the best remodeling ideas to remodel your kitchen.

1. Kitchen Floor : The types of green flooring, which you may consider for your kitchen floor are bamboo, marmoleum and cork. Though bamboo looks like wood, it is the best sustainable material which can be used for flooring than wood. It is a renewing natural resource which has the capacity to grow more than two feet in a single day. The other choice for creating green kitchen flooring is cork. The cork tree outer layer of bark is used to make the cork tiles. Though the cork trees outer layer of bark is harvested, the inner layer of the bark remains which allow the cork tree to heal itself. Another variety is marmoleum, which is an all-natural linoleum tile. It is available in the market in with different colors and patterns. You can even use wood for your kitchen flooring if it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

2. Kitchen Cabinets : Bamboo which is a natural resource and more durable can be used to make kitchen cabinets. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are the dangerous toxic poisons which are often used in designing kitchen cabinets. So purchase your kitchen cabinets with “no VOC”. If you are building your kitchen cabinets, make sure that the finishes, paints and primers which are used in making the kitchen cabinets have “no VOC” emblem or sign on them. Kraftmaid is one of the major Eco-friendly cabinet makers. Visit their site to find the Eco-friendly cabinet options.

3. Kitchen Paint : To choose your paint for your kitchen, make sure that the paints which are bought are either zero or low VOC. Using such paints can be less harmful to the environment and to the health of your family. Some of the paint manufacturers which sell environmentally friendly paints are

  1. Real Milk Paint Company, which sells Milk paint that can be mixed with any color pigment with water. For more details visit their site
  2. Benjamin Moore sells Natura in a variety of colors. Natura is the zero-VOC premium interior paint, which is more durable and fast drying. For more details, visit their site
  3. Sherwin-Williams sell several Eco-friendly products. Their products are sold under GreenSure Initiative which means that their products are Eco-friendly. Some of their products are Duration brand home interior latex paint which is mildew resistant with low VOCs, Harmony brand latex paint with zero-VOCs, E-barrier which is an energy efficient coating that can reduce your heating etc. Visit, for more details.
  4. Livos sells all-natural products like stains, thinners and finishes for wood flooring, sealers etc. All their products are recyclable and are Eco friendly. Visit , for more details.

4. Kitchen Appliances : Try to buy the energy star qualified kitchen appliances as they can save you money and energy in the long run.

5. Kitchen Countertops : Some of the best green choices for countertops are

  1. Glass Countertops : All kinds of glass are used to make recycled glass countertops.
  2. Wood Countertops : If you opt for wood countertops, try to choose recycled or reclaimed wood or the wood which is grown in managed forests. Without depleting the natural resources, the managed forests provide lumber.
  3. Bamboo Countertops : The best choice for an eco-friendly countertop is end-grain bamboo. Bamboo is the fast growing grass which can be reproduced very soon.
  4. Recycled Paper Countertops : Using recycled paper being placed in a resin base, countertops can be made. Moreover, these countertops are heat and stain resistant.
  5. Recycled Aluminum Countertops : Recycled aluminum is used to make countertops. They are sustainable and can be recycled again after you are done with them.

Origin Countertops : The origin countertops are made by recycling the plastic bottles.

Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular and more building supply companies have websites developed for use by consumers. If you are considering buying remodeling or granite countertops supplies on-line there are some things you should keep in mind.

Online shopping can make your remodeling job easier by saving you the time spent going from store to store to find the best deals. At the same time many brick and mortar stores will offer specials that are not available for on-line shoppers. You may want to call the store to see if this might be the case.

Online shopping is also great for hard to find items that your local stores do not carry. Just remember that you will need to add in any shipping costs unless you have a local store that will allow you to pick up your delivered goods there. Also keep in mind that not all building supply stores list all of their inventory on their websites. Again you may be able to call the company to see if the particular item you need is available.

Many supply stores offer a virtual tour of what you remodeling project will look like when it is completed. Use the service to be sure that the overall effect is going to be something you are happy with. Do you like the Granite Remnants or the countertops? If it is not you can change it much more easily in the virtual world than in the real one.

With the benefits of online shopping come a few drawbacks. Certain items are not the best to purchase on-line. This can be especially true for many plumbing supplies. Just because you think it will fit does not mean that it will. If you have purchased the item on-line with delivery you may need to ship it back and then lose time waiting for a replacement. If you buy your items directly from a store you only need to go back to the store to return them.

For the best results use online shopping first to see what products are available and compare the costs. This can save you a great deal of time that can be wasted running from store to store. For extra large items that you would need to have delivered go ahead and order them. Be sure that any items you purchase on-line for your remodeling project can be returned if needed. For purchases that you may be less sure of go to the store and find out exactly what they look like and feel like. You can still have large items delivered and many stores will combine your online and in-store purchases for one delivery charge.

My friend Christine and her husband were vacationing in what they called a “quaint little Mediterranean village.” While there they found a perfect summerhouse for sale and immediately they began negotiations and purchased the property. As the story goes, the house was in fairly good condition but in need some interior work and a “facelift.” The exterior was weather beaten which gave the house an abandoned look when compared to all the other glistening white houses on the hillside overlooking to ocean. It was a spectacular view of mountains, blue sky and the aquamarine ocean. The new house owners were anxious to spruce up their new home and bring it up par with the other houses on the hillside. They welcomed the seller’s recommendation of a local handyman, who just happened to be a painter and his cousin.

After interviewing the cousin-painter-handyman they entered into an agreement that he would do the necessary work to make the place livable and in keeping with the original flavor of the villa and the community. After choosing the fixtures and the colors the happy couple were ready to return to the US. Since their flight was scheduled for the following afternoon, they decided stop by their new house on their way to the airport. To their surprise cousin-painter-handyman was not at the house though he was scheduled to begin work immediately. They did, however, notice that the color swatches they had given him were just where they had left them on the table. They took another look at their selection of colors and were very pleased with their choices.

On the drive to the airport, their car passed the cousin-painter-handyman on the narrow road. He was riding on a motorcycle heading back toward the house and he was carrying a small can of paint on each of the handlebars. Of course, they thought it odd that he only had the two small cans of paint but they concluded that he was probably using them to test for quality and the like. They returned home. Regular phone calls to cousin-painter-handyman assured them that the work was going along very well and that they would be able to stay in the house when they returned the following month.

The following month they couldn’t wait to get to their villa. They took a night flight and when they arrived it was early morning. By the time they collected their luggage it was already mid morning. The ride to the country was beautiful, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was without a cloud. It was simply magnificent. Suddenly a motorcycle whizzed by them and to their surprise it was cousin-painter-handyman and he was carrying yet another small can of paint on his handlebar. As they discussed the oddity of this, the driver said, “Oh him? For the past month he’s been doing that a couple times a day. He rides down to the store and buys paint sometimes one can sometimes two. A little later he’s back again.” The driver pointed at his head and made circling motion and they all laughed.

As the car pulled off the main road and onto the driveway, they caught a full panoramic view of the house. The driver hit the brakes as the bewildered couple jumped out of the car and raced up the hill. They couldn’t believe what they saw. The outside of the house looked like a collage in varying shades of white. The inside of the house was a myriad of colors. The “pale pink” room looked like a rose garden in full bloom displaying all the different hues of pink. When they found the cousin-painter-handyman he was on his break and explained that he would not be returning to work until later in the afternoon. That gave the stunned couple ample time to figure out what had happened. From the number of small cans of paint strewn all over the place and the color swatches still on the table, they were able to deduce that cousin-painter-handyman did not consider that there are different shades and subtle nuances of the colors including white: French vanilla, off white, true white, bright white, flat white, etc. Therefore, on each trip to the store he brought back the color but of a different shade. Do you know how many shares of white, blue pink and green there are?

Choosing a House Cleaning Company that is Right for You

If you’re a busy person, you won’t have the time to clean your house on your own. The next best thing is to appoint a house cleaning company to do the dirty work for you.

Since there is hundreds of house cleaning companies around nowadays, choosing the best provider can be a bit confusing.

Every house cleaning company will be able to perform the tasks, but they will do it their own way. While some companies focus on following all your requirements, others have a given package that will determine the task they will perform that corresponds to a pre-determined price. However, majority of house cleaning companies allow their clients to sign a checklist of all your needs.

House cleaning companies will clean and sanitize your home in a different manner than you. The downside of this occurrence is that people who are extremely particular in cleaning details may not be satisfied completely. However, hiring a house cleaning company guarantees that your house will be cleaned, without you lifting a finger.

Consider these points when hiring house cleaning services

Finding a quality house cleaning company can be overwhelming due to the numerous providers in operation. However, several factors will determine if a house cleaning company can offer the best service among the rest.

Ensure that the house cleaning companies you consider have insurance. When shopping around for a service provider, ask the house cleaning company to give you a copy of their insurance certificate. When a house cleaning company is insured, you guarantee that your home is safe in the hands of the service providers, especially in case of damages to your property or injury to the cleaners while they are within your property.

Also consider the type of chemicals used in the cleaning products. Some house cleaning company use labeled organic products, while others have their exclusive products. Be aware that a quality house cleaning company will guarantee superior products to avoid stains and other permanent damages to your property. Their staff should also be aware how to use the products properly.

Of course, the method of payment and price are two significant factors to consider in choosing a house cleaning company. Determine if you will pay the work by the job or by the hour. If you choose an hourly payment, make sure that the cleaners will not spend five hours cleaning only half of your house.

How to Give Your Homeschool Files a Spring Cleaning

Before you know it spring will have begun, and your homeschool area may not be in the shape that you want it. For many the winter months can leave homeschool files looking like a tornado has hit it. If you find that your files are overflowing, or not in the order that you would like them to be, a spring cleaning may be in order. Below you will find a few simple ideas, and suggestions that may help you with organizing your school papers.

Sort the papers

Start by taking all of your kids papers, and placing them into one big pile. Then you can divide the papers up by subject. You can break the groups down even more by separating the test papers, from the worksheets. Depending on how many papers you have to be organized this can take you about an hour to sort through.

Keep only what you need

Most public school teachers end up sending a large stack of papers home with their students at the end of each semester. Each state has different requirements when it comes to homeschooling, so check and see what papers you need. Then you can focus on getting rid of the papers you don’t need and only keeping the ones that are necessary.

Teach your kids to file

Spring is a good time to teach your kids to work on their own filing system. This way the files will not be completely unorganized all over again by the summer months. Your can do a basic search online to explore the various file systems. This way you can see which system may work best for you. It may take time for your kids to get used to their new filing system, but it will be worth the effort.

A place for everything

One of the reasons, why things to start cluttering up, and getting messy is because you don’t have a spot for it. If you don’t have a spot for each piece of paper, things will get messy. Instead work on finding a place for everything , and clearly label it. A book shelf works good for organizing files and folders to hold your kids work.

Binders work for homeschooling

When it comes to organizing your homeschooling papers, I have found that binders work really good. You can hole punch your papers, and place dividers in the binder. This is an easy way to keep each child’s school work separate, and neatly organized. You can then place the binders on your book shelf for easy access. Have your child pick which type of binder they want, and then they can even decorate the binder themselves.

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