health, home

Natural Remedies for Your Home & Health

Author: Laura Ascher
Publisher: Mango
Genre: Home / Health
ISBN: 978-1-64250-548-1
Pages: 188
Price: $19.95

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Many of the household products we buy are filled with dangerous and toxic chemicals. But if you’re looking for alternatives, they aren’t always available or they can be very expensive. It’s helpful to be able to create your own from natural ingredients that you know are safe.

Natural Remedies for Your Home & Health is filled with wonderful recipes for anything you might need at home. This guide included natural kitchen, bathroom, laundry, bedroom, baby & kids, bath & beauty remedies, as well as roller bottle recipes and diffuser blends. Common ingredients such as vinegar, rubbing alcohol, Castile soap, baking soda, and essential oils are used to create safer and better smelling household products.

While the idea of creating nontoxic recipes is terrific, it’s also helpful that many of these turn out to be cheaper than the more toxic varieties. Once you’ve made the initial investment in the common ingredients, you will be able to create whatever you need from them, over and over again. I highly recommend Natural Remedies for Your Home & Health.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Decluttering at the Speed of Life

Author: Dana K. White
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: House & Home
ISBN: 978-0-18080600
Pages: 240
Price: $16.99

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Living in a messy home is stressful and inefficient. But how many times do we buy the latest and greatest organizing system, only to fail in our attempts to use it? The problem most likely isn’t our lack of ability, but merely the overabundance of stuff cluttering our lives.

Rather than tackling all this extra stuff with the intent to organize it, Dana K. White of A Slob Comes Clean provides the steps needed to declutter, making organization so much easier. White asks two simple questions designed to determine if an item is useful or valuable, and where it belongs if it passes both tests. If it doesn’t, it’s trashed or donated. These questions are applied to each room in the house, as she guides us through the decluttering process. Beginning with our most visible places, we tackle each spot, one at a time, making progress as we go.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life doesn’t asks that we make a huge mess while we declutter. We can grab a few moments as we have time, maybe clearing off a kitchen counter or dining room table as we go. But as we continue to follow these steps, we’re guaranteed to have a neater home. I highly recommend this wonderful resource.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

finance, home

The Skinny on the Housing Crisis

Author: Jim Randel
Publisher: Rand Media
Genre: Home / Finance
ISBN: 978-0-9818935-2-5
Pages: 176
Price: $14.95

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Many factors were involved in the recent housing crisis. We watched the housing market crash and banks strugging with enormous unpaid debt, but few really understood how it happened. In The Skinny on the Housing Crisis, Jim Randel explains exactly what took place.

At a time when housing was booming, rules restricting borrowing were more relaxed. Even those who normally couldn’t qualify for a traditional mortgage had options available to them to buy their house. And since real estate was appreciating so rapidly, no one saw a problem with these practices, at least until real estate prices started to decline. So today’s home buyer needs to be savvy in knowing what to do – and what to avoid doing – to make the right purchase.

This “Skinny” features a stick figure couple buying their first home, and shows us the problems they encounter. While it looks a bit like a comic book, it provides a wealth of information on this important topic. And, as always, a bibliography is provided for those who want to do some more research.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Kennedy Green House

Author:  Robin Wilson
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Genre: House & Home / Sustainable Living
ISBN: 978-1-60832-030-1
Pages: 160
Price: $30.00

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When the home of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his family is flooded, causing a problem with black mold that can’t be eradicated, there is only one practical solution. The decision is made to tear down the existing house and rebuild it using exclusively green technology. Kennedy brings in a team of experts, including author Robin Wilson, for guidance and direction.

In this pictorial showcase of the Kennedy green house, Wilson shows us the various building materials and furniture, and explains why they were chosen. The reader is invited to visit bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, living areas, and the outdoors. The concepts of multi-generational design, energy efficiency, recycling, and sustainability are also touched on as features of this unique home. And a resource guide is provided, to learn more about the products used.

Many of the items were provided free of charge to the Kennedy family for inclusion in Kennedy Green House, and other suppliers have not been mentioned as alternatives. The modern feel of the décor is a bit austere and neutral, but shows up well in these attractive photos. If you’re thinking of remodeling or even building a new green home, this book would be a great resource of ideas.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Green Goes With Everything

green1Author: Sloan Barnett
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: House & Home
ISBN: 978-1-4165-7845-1
Pages: 306
Price: $19.95

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As more and more chemical-laden products show up in our homes, many people have questioned how they will affect our bodies. Sloan Barnett learned this firsthand when her son was diagnosed with asthma, mostly due to the use of her own cleaning products. In her quest to keep her home less toxic for her son, she realized others could learn from her experience, and wrote Green Goes With Everything.

Going green touches on many areas of our lives, and Barnett breaks these down into manageable chunks: cleaning our bodies, cleaning our homes, organic food, clean water, clean air, and clean energy. Several of the most toxic chemicals are explained in detail, with alternatives if we choose to eliminate them from our lives. The author asserts that converting to green products might be time-consuming and expensive, but ultimately will be worth it in improved health and wellness.

Although this book is a good resource for those attempting to “go green,” I felt it lacked in several places. Barnett appears to favor an all-or-nothing approach in some cases, but yet also encourages making small changes. She doesn’t address the costs of green choices, assuming we all have the budgets to make these changes simply and easily, when in reality, most of us could not afford a completely green lifestyle.

I often felt I was reading an infomercial for Shaklee, the company Barnett’s husband heads. While I admire Shaklee for producing fine quality products, I felt there should have been more of a balance in promoting other equally fine organic and non-toxic products as well – or none at all.

If you’ve ever thought about living a green lifestyle, Green Goes With Everything will provide good, solid proof of exactly why it might be a good idea to make the switch. But do your own research in finding the companies that suit you best. There are a lot of great products out there and many are as close to you as your own grocery store.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Easy Green Living

Author: Renee Loux
Publisher: Rodale
Genre: Home Reference
ISBN: 978-1-59486-792-7
Pages: 396
Price: $25.00

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It’s easy being green… if you know where to begin. None of us consciously make the decision to harm the planet, yet many of our day to day household choices do exactly that. Easy Green Living points out the reasons why we need to change, and gets us going in the right direction.

Many common household cleaners contain chemicals that not only hurt the environment, but can do considerable harm to our bodies. The exact nature of these chemicals is explained, and alternative products are suggested that can do the job in a safer manner. And if you’re into “do it yourself” cleaning products, there are recipes to make almost anything out of simple and safe ingredients like white vinegar and baking soda.

The author also focuses on other common household products like cosmetics, bedding and furniture, which contain harmful chemicals, and provides safe alternative choices to those toxic items. And using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances is encouraged, so we can all use less natural resources.

Although I’ve been semi-green for more than ten years now, there were many things Renee Loux pointed out that were new to me. After reading Easy Green Living, I’m now totally convinced that I can’t continue being partially committed to this lifestyle, and I’ll be using this book as a reference in making the switch. Our health and Mother Earth’s depend on us all going green.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Don’t Throw It Out

Author: Lori Baird
Publisher: Yankee Publishing
Genre: Home & Garden
ISBN: 1-59486-577-9
Pages: 386
Price: $17.95

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Landfills in the US are full to bursting, and the economy is heading into a recession. How can one person make a difference? Lori Baird and the editors of Yankee Magazine have the answers in Don’t Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew, and Reuse to Make Things Last.

This comprehensive book addresses the items in every room in the house, plus outdoors. Want to make your appliances last longer? Tips and tricks help you keep them running in top shape for as long as possible. Has something reached the end of its useful life? Then re-purpose it. With a little creativity, you can find many more ways it can be used.

Proper wood cleaning techniques and solutions are explained, designed to keep your furniture in great condition. And if your wood furniture has already suffered neglect, don’t despair. It can be given new life with some nifty cosmetic touch-ups.

There are times when an item is simply beyond repair, or has become too expensive to operate. “Fix-it or Forget-it” tips show you when it’s time to simply let go. And fun quizzes test your domestic know-how.

Don’t Throw It Out has changed the way I look at my home. It’s so easy to implement the suggestions, and it feels great to know I’m conserving energy and creating less waste. One person really can make a difference. Pick up a copy and you can, too. The planet will thank you.

Reviewer: Alice Berger