• Who are these faceless people in lab coats that manufacture saccharine-overloaded kids' furnishings? Will my home ever look chic again? Every stylish parent asks themselves these questions when drowning in a menagerie of blue and pink.

    Thankfully, more options are being born for the fashion-forward family in search of functionality and aesthetic. We're talking about products that are not embarrassing to have anchored onto our family room rug and ones that our children can't wait to droll--or chew-- over.

    Below, some of my favorite fabulous and functional baby basics.

    Read More »from Fabulous and functional baby basics
  • Though the custom-built closet of my fantasies is built entirely out of fragrant, handsome, naturally moth-repelling (and unfortunately rather pricey) cedar, it'll be a long, long while-if ever-I can realize those dreams. In the meantime, I've settled for sprinkling cedar blocks here and there on my shelves and in drawers to keep my clothes smelling fresh and critter-free. However, I just discovered that there's a no-carpentry-required way to upgrade from the wooden blocks I've been using to something more sleek and substantial that even I can afford: cedar drawer liners.

    On apartmenttherapy.com, I saw cedar sheets for the first time, which come in rolls that you can cut to fit in your drawers. Like oilcloth, cedar paper makes an attractive base for the interior of any shelf or drawer, only these are especially great for clothing with their mildew/moth/mustiness-fighting properties. I shopped around just now, and found you can buy a generous 6' long,10' wide roll here for less

    Read More »from A genius addition to any closet: cedar drawer liners
  • Appliances

    If you don't have children in your house, like me, your fridge might look a bit bare at times. A near empty fridge will run more frequently, sucking up more energy and costing you more money. Your refrigerator runs most efficiently when it's full, or at least fuller. What do I do? Dedicate an entire shelf for my boyfriend's beloved beer. If there's still some extra space after that, try this: Fill pitchers with water, iced tea, or whatever you like to drink, and remember to refill your Brita pitcher every time you use it; if you're a white wine drinker, keep a few unopened bottles in the fridge, this is also helpful if you need a last minute bottle for a dinner party; and you can always load up those empty spaces with those blue ice packs.

    Your freezer runs by the same rules as your fridge, meaning it runs best when it's at least two-thirds full. I enjoy ice cream as much as the next gal, but keeping gallons of ice cream in the freezer

    Read More »from Eco-Friendly Tips That Will Save You Money in the Kitchen
  • Though most of us probably have a box of baking soda in the fridge to keep it smelling fresh, as it turns out, baking soda is right up there with vinegar as one of the best, non-toxic, inexpensive, and versatile cleaning agents you can possibly get your hands on. In case you need a refresher (no pun intended!) on how to make the most of this magic white powder in and around your home, I've compiled dozens of ways to use the stuff, many of which you might be surprised by. Got anything to add to this list?

    1. Clean baby toys safely: dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart water and use the solution to wipe down toys with a sponge, rinse, and dry.

    2. Get bathroom floors sparkling: mix ½ cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water, mop, and rinse.

    3. Deodorize trash cans: dust a bit of baking soda over the can every now and then, and then when you empty it, rinse the canister with 1 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water.

    4. Deodorize drains: sprinkle ½ cup baking

    Read More »from 40 ways to clean with baking soda
  • I'm about to move into a house with an old, musty-looking oven. I peeked inside the other day, and realized that the interior could definitely use some TLC (there's a fair and unfortunate amount of baked-on grease stains going on in there). The appliance lacks a self-cleaning function, though the idea of firing up my oven to the point where it's that blazing hot scares me a little anyway. Courtesy of Martha Stewart, I just discovered the following non-toxic, no-risk-of-burning DIY solution I'm going to attempt over the weekend.

    All you need is a little baking soda and water. Mix up the two to form a paste. Spread it all over the interior of the oven, avoiding bare metal and the heating coils. Let it hang out overnight, and then use a plastic spatula the following day to remove it. Easy, right? She also suggests lining the bottom of the oven with foil afterwards to catch future spills-something I'm definitely going to do going forward.

    In the meantime, if you guys have any

    Read More »from How to make your own non-toxic oven cleaner
  • I'm about to move, and among the 18 million things on my to-do list this week is figuring out what kind of home phone service to get. I happened to mention this to my techy, totally cell phone-addicted brother who was incredulous-"A home phone? Are you for real?"-and now I'm curious as to if the rest of you out there view landlines as things of the past.

    I stand by my love of a landline, for many reasons: first, not having to worry about dropped calls the way I do with my mobile; having a reprieve from my nagging paranoia that talking on my cell phone may somehow be damaging to my health; knowing that in the event of an emergency, I've got an old-fashioned phone on standby; and because, bundled with my cable and internet packages, it hardly costs anything extra.

    Coincidentally, just now on apartmenttherapy.com I saw that they were surveying their readers on the same issue, and most responded that they gave up their landlines in favor of cell phones ages ago. So, how about

    Read More »from Are landlines going the way of dinosaurs?
  • As a dog, I have very good hearing - as do many canines - and I constantly see and hear when people point and whisper, "Boy, that dog hit the jackpot." I'm the first one to agree (my backyard is almost five acres!) Life for this little Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is good.

    Candy's column this time is about how she made her home a haven for me; so I asked if I could put my paws on the keyboard and contribute to the article. More than 30 years before I arrived, Candy had baby-proofed the house for Tori and Randy. Corners are rounded, furniture is basically stain-proof, and there are windows at my eye-level everywhere so I can feel like I'm outside even when I'm indoors.

    I have water dishes every few yards. My friend Sarge from around the corner came over, and he said his mother told him my bowls are crystal. I hadn't known that. Cool. There are custom-made doggie doors that match the doors in the house. They have double locks on them (because I'm so precious, I guess), and lead

    Read More »from Doggie Haven: Candy Spelling's pooch tells all
  • by Ilyce Glink for CBS MoneyWatch.com

    Actress Nicole Kidman and her country singer husband Keith Urban have just bought a new apartment in Manhattan - but the $10 million price tag isn't what's catching people's attention.

    -- Michael Jackson's Last Home for Sale
    -- $30 Million House for Dr. Phil
    -- 4 Biggest Lies in Real Estate
    -- Country Superstar Sells Mansion for $28 Million
    -- 11 Kitchen and Bath Trends for 2010

    The most newsworthy feature of the home is a reported car elevator.

    The Huffington Post claims the West Chelsea apartment building where Kidman and Urban plan to make their new home is the first and only to have a Sky Garage-complete with car elevator.

    Entering on street level, owners ride in their car up the elevator to their floor and reverse into their garage.

    Better make sure not to give it too much gas and go crashing into the dining room - or off the side of Read More »from Nicole Kidman's $10M penthouse: Car elevator included
  • With the school year about to get into full swing, now's the time to start preparing, before the juggling of class schedules, homework, soccer practice, carpool, parent-teacher meetings-all the while trying to manage the house and your own work-etc., etc., etc. launch into overdrive.

    After conducting an informal poll of some of my mom friends to find out how they balance everything, the key is clearly staying organized. A couple of them vouched for the indispensability of a dry erase board calendar, which they post in their kitchens so everyone at home knows what's on tap for the month. They prefer whiteboards to paper versions, since these are easier to update, and unlike using a computer, you don't need to log on to see what's going on-your schedule simply lives on the wall, so you get constant reminders of what's going on and in-store for the coming weeks. Here, five options to get you ready for the year ahead.

    How do you keep your family organized during the school

    Read More »from The ultimate organizational tool for staying sane and on top of it all during the school year
  • If you haven't gone into the guest bedroom since you stored last season's clothes, it's time for a quick makeover. Here are room-decorating ideas that will fix any faux pas, just in time for weekend visitors.

    My water glass left a ring on the bedside table.

    When you look for a nightstand, choose one that you don't have to worry about. If you want people to feel relaxed and comfortable, you can help by designing their room to be as low-maintenance as possible. A table with a glass top won't leave rings.

    After turning out the lights, I bruised my knee climbing into bed.

    Instead of harsh overhead lighting, try bedside sconces. Not only do they cast a soft, soothing light, guests won't have to negotiate their way back to bed in an unfamiliar space.

    Related: Quick Makeover Ideas for Every Room

    I'm hungry.

    Guests don't want to be caught rummaging through your fridge. Leaving a small piece of fruit, like an orange or an apple, will curb their craving for a midnight snack.

    I woke up at

    Read More »from 8 Things Your Houseguests Won't Tell You


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