The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati

Home Improvement

by -

Cold weather have you feeling blue? Our green guru offers four house plants that will improve boost your mood and your health.

The winter doldrums are apt to creep in soon. The holiday decorations will be taken down, the last of the parties attended and the calendar reminds us that warmer days are still a bit down the road. Scientists tell us that plants are very effective in improving our mood. But when you think about it, it’s pretty obvious, yes? A walk in a park, down a quiet, tree-lined street or if you are lucky a path deep in the woods always always lifts our spirits.

When you are stuck indoors, the common houseplant is there to save your mood. For one, they improve air quality- some are remarkable at removing toxins from the air and the rest just pump that oh so vital fresh oxygen back into the home. Simply being around growing green things can improve our mood. Should you enjoy cooking, there’s nothing better than fresh herbs in the dead of winter to bring your favorite dish to life.

Don’t protest and tell me that you kill plants. We all don’t have green thumbs, but some plants simply don’t care about our garden prowess. I’m great gardener, but not the best caretaker of house plants. Here are some of the plants I have been growing with less than diligent attention:

Snake Plant AKA Mother-in-Law’s tongue:  My husband has been tending to these for years and the biggest task involved is giving them larger pots over the years.

Pothos: You see these in every restaurant, salon, doctor’s office and shop in town. Why? They ar that easy to grow! This one has been living on my dresser for years, under a lamp. I cut back the trailing vines to keep it lush and water it regularly.

Umbrella Tree or Hawaiian Schefflera: My dad gave me this plant two years ago along with a bonsai tool kit. As you can see, I forgot to trim my plant. It is the happiest plant, ever. This will get quite large, so I’ll transplant to a new pot and then start trimming it back by removing new growth.

Thanksgiving Cactus: I have had this plant for almost 10 years. It never fails to bloom, it is extremely forgiving and it’s tidy. Christmas and Easter cactus are very similar in appearance, but all seem to be a breeze to care for and easy to acquire.

Here’s my advice, find a plant that catches your eye and go for it. You will never learn to garden, even houseplant gardening, if you don’t try.

Need a pick-me-up? Before you reach for another cup of coffee, read on as our gardening guru explains how to naturally energize through an energy garden.

A colorful garden tucked into a balcony. There's always room to garden!
A colorful garden tucked into a balcony. There’s always room to garden! Pink blooms are never dull and the bright colors of the Croton plant adds a bit of energy along with colorful containers and a throw pillow.

 

We’ve all been there: in a job we find mind-numbing, in a rut with our day-to-day routine or just feeling beige. We need to shake things up, add some creativity and energy into our lives. When this is the case, the last thing you want is a garden of tranquility.

So what about an energy garden?
You are already on the right foot with a garden, no matter how small. Scientific research has been showing that playing in the soil may release antidepressant microbes. Apparently we breath in and even absorb through our skin microbes that may have a similar effect as anti-depressants. I can tell you that any form of physical activity is good for you. We all know that and that’s why every corner in town has a yoga or pilates studio. So what happens when you couple happy soil microbes and the endorphins of exercise in the garden- you start to turn that feeling of beige to pink.

Scents
Lightly run your hands over lavender, sage, spring hyacinth or a summer lilacs. Scents can relax and invigorate us. Seriously anything that that doesn’t smell like a cubicle is a welcome change.

First assignment: Slowly stroll through your garden center or local plant shop and smell the plants. Do they have a sweet, earthy or musky aroma? Which ones make you perk up and have your shoulders lift as you inhale once more, deeply?

Colors
There’s a reason why fast food places are red and yellow- those colors energize us,  encouraging us to eat faster and turn those tables over. So what if we took this same theory, sans the grease, and applied it to our gardens?  

Croton plants are great for pops of color
A Croton plant adds a lot of color in a small garden.

Start with primary colors red and blue and sprinkle in yellow and orange and maybe deep purple for good measure. Since we are skirting winter, look for plants with these colors in their foliage. If you are still installing perennials in your garden, pick three of these colors, use them en masse and sprinkle in the remaining colors. We want large bands of colors, to pull you in and engage you. If the garden is one of each color dropped in here and there it may give the appearance of chaos and feel discombobulated. Start bold and big and then accent with colors.

Rules, There are No Rules
But you just said… yes I know. When I share rules it’s to let you know about good design principles. Once you work with these and and understand them, then you can manipulate them to fit your personal style.

Accessorize Your Garden
If your garden is tight on space, or is a collection of tables on a balcony, how do you add the colors that help you feel energized and inspired? You use colorfully glazed planting containers, hand-blown glass ornaments and pillows and rugs drenched in colors that make you feel great.

Next time we talk- succulents for indoors!

Cheers,

Jennfier

by -

Our new gardening guru explains why time in the soil will help you find balance, improve your health, and stimulate your creativity.

Ladies, let’s garden! Oh, what’s that? You have a career, family, friends, places to go so the last thing you want is one more project. I hear you. That’s why I want you to put down the iPad (after you read this of course!) and grab a trowel. We are all so busy, too busy. Thankfully, the idealization of being busy is starting to wane. But we are still stressed, often overworked and looking for ways to take better care of ourselves. That’s why I say, garden.

Like you, I wear many hats and often wake up with a to-do list running through my mind. And I garden. I garden a lot! I have been gardening for over 20 years and I can tell you it’s that time with my hands in the soil that has brought me peace when I needed it most, exercise when I felt sluggish and quiet when everything was getting to be too much. It’s my creative outlet and it keeps my mind sharp because there’s always more to learn with gardening.

This column is geared towards those new to gardening. If you are an experienced gardener, everything we discuss here can be expanded upon. So if we talk about creating a small space for meditation in the garden, you can develop that into a patio space for you and your friends to practice Saturday yoga together. This isn’t so much about learning the latest plant varieties but rather, how working with plants, be it in a large garden or a highrise balcony can help you find balance, improve your health, stimulate your creative juices and sometimes give you an excuse to just sit and be in the garden.

In the next few posts, I will share how to discover and nurture your garden style. To get us started, I have an assignment for you. Visit as many gardens as you can: visit parks, the Krohn Conservatory, museum garden spaces, even your friend’s balcony garden. When you enter the garden just be still for a moment and then write down the first feeling that comes to mind. You may be surprised the emotions and reactions a garden can elicit.

by -

As you take a break from yard work outside this month, our garden guru explains what you should be doing inside to prepare for spring.

120516garden

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time in the garden in December. I might be finishing the final leaf cleanup and maybe doing a little pruning but it is a good month to take a break from the hands-on work outside. I will, however, spend some time inside getting things ready for the spring.

If you have time it’s never a bad idea to take a look at your gardening tools and evaluate the need for any maintenance and repairs. I like to sharpen my hand pruners and shears and even cleanup the edge on my shovels at the end of each season. I’ll also replace any handles that may be worn or cracked on rakes, shovels and brooms. These are also services that most hardware stores will do for you. Gardening tools will last for decades if well maintained.

December is also great time to drop off your lawn mower, string trimmer, blower or anything else with an engine at the local service center. Waiting until you need them in the spring can be a big mistake as most reputable service centers are backed up several weeks and even a month or more by the time the grass starts growing in late March and early April. I highly recommend taking care of this during your gardens slow season and the slow season of the local mower repair shop. Even though I may not be working in the garden much I do still like to get outside especially in the neighborhood parks like Ault Park. While the winter landscape can be stark there is also the opportunity to have plants that have features that are most noticeable in the winter. A winter landscape favorite is the Harry Lauders Walking Stick with its contorted branching structure. Some plants with interesting bark are the Oakleaf Hydrangea, Paperbark Maple an any of the red and yellow stemmed dogwood shrubs. Plants with brilliant red winter berries like the winterberry, chokeberry, nandina, hawthorn and holly are hardy to our area and work well in our gardens. There are also plenty of evergreens in dwarf and full sizes that shine in the winter landscape. You’ll find some of these around the arboretum at Ault Park and around the gardens. Take note and even a photo of any plants you see that catch your eye in the winter that you think may work well in your garden. If unsure of the plant name and or variety show those photos to your local landscaper or garden center staff for identification and more information on the availability.

Thanks for allowing me to share some of my thoughts on gardening over the last twelve months. Have a wonderful winter!

by -

As foliage begins its last act of the year, see what our green thumb guru says you should do now to prepare your garden for bountiful blooms next year.

Goose
Gooseneck loosestrife

It’s hard to believe it’s October already. Our gardens will show that last burst of color before going into the long rest of winter. Our trees and shrubs are going to lose the green provided by the chlorophyll in their leaves and go to their true colors of red, orange, purple and yellow. We’re fortunate to live an area with hills and valleys where we can get a great perspective on the amazing colors of our fading gardening season. A walk in a city or state park is always a good idea this time of year.

After that walk, we’ll find that there is still plenty of work to do in the garden. One of my primary goals will be dividing and moving perennials so that I can fill in all open spaces in my garden. Now, that doesn’t have to be your goal at all. There is something to be said for open areas of mulch and space between plants. Depending on your preference in how you want your property to look and the types of plants chosen to achieve that goal, you may just be dividing plants to keep them from taking over. In my garden, I divide with the idea of filling in spaces that don’t have a plant. I just like that really full and kind of crowded look.

The first plants I’m going to work on are my hyperion daylilies along my back steps. In just two seasons, they’ve gone from a handful of flowers per plant to a dozen or more per plant and the leaves are hanging halfway over the steps. I’ll remove the entire clump, use a sharp garden knife to separate the roots, install some in the original spot and move the remaining to areas around the front and back gardens. Daylilies recovery quickly and will bloom next year.

I’ll also be moving many of my ostrich ferns. I love a plant that easily spreads without being a headache to deal with and ferns fall in that category. In the shady areas of my backyard, I continually add more ferns from my existing stock. Ferns look great as a foreground to my hydrangeas, viburnums, serviceberry, arborvitae and dawn redwood. And, the deer don’t eat them, which is a bonus.

Another plant that I’ll be dividing is my gooseneck loosestrife. This plant does spread rather quickly but with a little bit of work in the fall, I can have it under control for next year. I’ve actually taken to adding the roots I remove to the bank of a wooded creek in our backyard and its doing a fine job of holding back the hillside. And it’s much better looking than the wild mustard there currently. The flowers on this plant are very eye-catching.

Other plants that will come under the dividing knife are my sedum, ornamental grasses, daisies, and beebalm. Plants that will receive a pretty heavy fall pruning without risk of ruining any spring color are my oakleaf hydrangea and low-gro sumac. The former just gets a little too tall in some areas so I head it back by about one third to one half every few years and the latter just needs a heavy pruning once a year. After it sheds its scarlet leaves, I give it a heavy pruning knowing it will take off again in the spring.

It’s important to keep in mind that while the growing season is wrapping up, our gardens still have plenty of work that can be done in the fall that will provide big dividends next spring and beyond. Do this work before it gets too cold out and we get too near the busy holiday season.

We got a sneak peek of a beautiful home that's being featured in the 2016 CiTiRAMA! Click to see our exclusive video and get all the details about what's new this year!

CiTiRAMA is coming up Sept. 10-18, 4P-9P Monday-Thursday and 12Noon-9P Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

This year’s show will be held in College Hill in a cul de sac community – Gershom Grove – and it features 4 Homes by Cincinnati’s Premiere Builders – DREES Homes, MARONDA Homes, Potterhill Homes and Bookstone Homes.

But just imagine Gershom Grove is a 36 lot community and you can have a home built your way, receive great special assessment incentives and live in the city close to downtown, shopping, parks, and the arts. So whether you are a young professional looking to build your first home or an empty nester that loves College Hill, CiTiRAMA is for you.

Prices of the Show Homes range from $200,000 – $350,000. And actually, the City of Cincinnati has adopted a special assessment policy for the Gershom Grove neighborhood that gives NEW CiTiRAMA homeowners the benefit of an equivalent of a 50% property tax abatement for 20 years.

What I love about going to CiTiRAMA is that it gives you a chance to tour the homes, meet the builders, see design trends live and in person (not just on your Pinterest board)

Admission to CiTiRAMA is just $10, and kids 12 and under FREE, You can get discounted tickets for $8 at area Kroger stores or at the gate for $8 with your AAA Membership. Parking is FREE!

This is the 13th CiTiRAMA over 20 years in Cincinnati and it’s produced by the City of Cincinnati and the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Cincinnati.

New this year is Family Fun Day on Sept. 11 from 12:30-3:30 where they’ll have a firetruck, animals from the Park district, sport demos, FC Cincinnati player meet-and-greets, and free Kona Ice for the first 200 people! Plus, for the Pokemon Go fans – College Hill is jam packed – you can pick up a Pokemon Go map at CiTiRAMA, tour CiTiRAMA first, then hit the Pokemon Go Tour after. There is no additional charge for Family Fun Day – it’s part of the CiTiRAMA admission, kids under 12 are free!

More details at www.cincybuilders.com!

by -

Our landscape expert explains why an increase in the water bill this month will be much less than replacing your mature trees, shrubs, and lawn in the future.

The garden
Our gardening expert shares why sacrificing for an extra water bill this month will save your garden down the road.

After the prepping our gardens in March and April, planting annual color and possibly trees, shrubs and perennials in May and June, we may find that July is a nice month to just sit back and enjoy the hard work. There are still weeds to pull and lawns to keep mowed but for the most part the garden is on cruise control.

That being said, we still have to be aware of what’s going on with the weather. We really need to be sure we’re providing enough water to our landscape and the heat of July can present some problems. We’ve had summers where we have some significant weekly rains and others where we wont see much rain for six to eight weeks. One of the most costly natural disasters we’ve ever had in the US was the drought of 1988. In today’s dollars, its cost would be over $120 billion, second only to hurricane Katrina. The drought affected 45% of the continental US. The wildfires in Yellowstone National Park occurred during this period. I recall that here in Cincinnati we didn’t have a significant rain from about mid-May until September.

While that extreme doesn’t happen often, we can see a lot of damage in our landscapes from even just a week or two of hot weather with no rain. While a lawn may go dormant and have resurgence later in the summer or early fall, the stress of a drought can cause all kinds of problems. Our lawns stay weed free with much less effort when they stay thick. Insects are also attracted to lawns under stress. What looks like a lawn that may come back can actually be a lawn in need of complete reseeding.

In the case of our trees, the damage from drought could take years to be recognized with slowly thinning crowns, a sign of declining roots. Trees under stress are also more likely to be attractive hosts to insects and diseases. Watering a lawn is a great way to also take care of our mature trees.

Our shrubs will also let us know when they need a drink. While wilting leaves late in the day aren’t uncommon on a hot day, we want to watch out for leaves that are not perking up over night. Hydrangeas, viburnums, barberries, azaleas, and rhododendrons are all going to tell us when they need help.

My first preference for a well-watered landscape would be an in ground irrigation system. The ability to assign watering frequency by various zones around a property is really a wonderful feature. The fact that they keep on working while you’re out of town is another. If the in-ground system isn’t an option, then the good old oscillator is the next choice. If you add a timer at the faucet your can “set it and forget it,” at least in that one part of the property. You still have to move the sprinkler around to ensure complete coverage.

Impact sprinklers also work well but I find that if you need some height in applying the water they are somewhat limited. My least favorite is the soaker hose. They’ve been shown to only apply water right under the hose with very little very actual coverage.

Whether from the clouds or the spigot, our landscapes need about an inch of water per week, sometimes more when the temperatures climb into the mid to upper 80s and beyond. An inexpensive rain gauge is a great investment. The next investment would be some time on your part to look at your plants and landscape for signs of drought stress like wilted leaves, faded color, dropped leaves, cracked soil, etc. The increase in the water bill will be much less than replacing mature trees, shrubs, and lawns.

093013ADVERTORIAL

California Closets now calls the heart of Kenwood home, to provide custom storage solutions for yours. For 24 years, the Cincinnati California Closets franchise has been dedicated to providing local clients with world-class customer service, fully customized closet design, and with the highest quality and most diverse product offerings in the marketplace.

 

To see what California Closets designs and products look like — and how they function — in real life, visit their brand new showroom on Montgomery Rd. in the Kenwood Galleria. There, you can view and touch the displays to truly understand the craftsmanship and quality of its closet systems and products.

 

You can also schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a California Closets design consultant. They will come to your home and begin the California Closets process by discussing your lifestyle and needs and helping you assess what’s important to you and how to create the best use of your space.

 

According to owner, Charlie Meyer, working with California Closets is an easy three-step process:
1. An assessment of your space that incorporates measurements and an inventory of your possessions.
2. A discussion of how best to bring your vision to life, use of finishes, materials, accessories, and architectural design.
3. A computer-generated three-dimensional walkthrough of your new custom system.

 

“We have a great set of experienced and industry leading designers that truly consult with our clients to a solution that fits their needs, at their budget, with their style,” Meyer explains. “The process is truly client-centered and is an experience where you will feel a tangible difference.”

 

In fact, Meyer says, California Closets’ internal processes are focused on delivering comfort, control, convenience, and connection. “From the simple idea of being able to schedule an appointment with us with one phone call to our installers leaving your space cleaner than they found it, we not only design and install a product second to none in quality, but strive to be the best in-home service you have ever experienced,” he explains.

 

To check out the new showroom for yourself, visit: 8110 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, OH, 45236. Or, contact them at (513) 793-3055 or kheinrich@calclosets.com.


On Oct. 3, from 6-8pm, Cincy Chic and Cincinnati Profile are hosting a “Create, Design and Organize” event at the new showroom. Enjoy light bites and cocktails as well as design tips and ideas from the experts! Attendees will receive a free swag bag and be entered to win a $250 Paolo giftcard and dinner for 2 at La Poste! Space is limited! Sign-up for one of the two available registration times by October 2nd at createdesignorganize.eventbrite.com. Watch the exclusive webcast below to learn more about the showroom, products and client-centered experience!

This is a special advertising supplement, paid for by California Closets

Most people have no plans to move in the next year whether impacted by the real estate down turn or the current state of the economy. People plan to just enjoy what they have or potentially make improvements instead of buying something newer. The key in this environment is to not invest too much in your property unless you plan to live out your life there and just enjoy your home. So what kind of improvements are people thinking about that plan on doing something.

 

The majority are planning exterior improvements either with landscaping or exterior living spaces also exterior improvements like replacement windows or new siding and gutters. The next highest area people are expressing interest in is general home improvement like new flooring or interior painting. As many as one in three or one in four are looking to do these types of improvements. About one in seven is looking at kitchen or bathroom upgrades or improvements. A smaller group, roughly one in 20 is looking to finish or remodel a basement. So whether you are looking to create more living space or just update what you have to make your current home more comfortable and enjoyable you are probably not alone. It is sort of like looking at repairs for your car. It is usually a lot less expensive to repair your car than to buy a newer one. Also like a house, if the needed repair is major you will probably have trouble selling your old one anyway. You also don’t want to invest more in the repairs than the property is worth.

 

If some updating improvements or repairs are in your plans, HomeServicesLink is here to assist you with locating insured, reliable providers and contractors for your needs. You can reach us at info@homeserviceslink.com or (513) 271-1888. We can also help address questions you might have directly or in a future article.


Did you know if you live in Hamilton, Kenton, Boone or Campbell counties, you can get a home energy audit from a BPI Certified Envelope Professional for as little as $50 and $129 in other areas. These audits usually retail for at least $400. The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance in partnership with HOUSH –The Home Energy Experts has federal funding to support the program and to aid homeowners with up to 35% of the cost to make upgrades and repairs. A typical homeowner can receive up to $4,200 in “free” money to help pay for the energy upgrades and is open to all income levels. The objective of the program is to reduce energy consumption.

 

So what makes these audits any different than some of the free ones offered by utility companies and others? First of all the audit is conducted by BPI Certified Building Analyst. These are specialized energy auditors that provide instruction for energy efficiency using the house-as-a-system approach. They go beyond the traditional energy audit and identify problems at the root cause, then prescribe and prioritize solutions based on building science.

 

The energy audit highlights are:
• Analyze utility bills
• Check insulation levels of the home
• Check for gas leaks
• Evaluate mechanical equipment for efficiency and proper sizing
• Perform blower door testing to evaluate home for air leakage
• Check home for visual moistures issues
• Check ductwork for leakage into unconditioned spaces
• Perform carbon monoxide and flue draft testing
• Customized report of all test results
• Create a priority solution list based on return on investment

 

We understand that you want the best contractors working on your home. The bar has been raised in this arena by adhering to national standards, training, professional certification, and company accreditation and quality assurance programs. Your problems will be diagnosed and fixed correctly the first time. That means you will get your money’s worth resulting in a comfortable, safe, durable home with improved air quality and lower energy bills. HomeServicesLink is here to assist you with locating quality, insured providers for all of your home needs. Contact us at info@homeserviceslink.com or (513)271-1888.

14,953FansLike
2,655FollowersFollow
9,013FollowersFollow
270SubscribersSubscribe