Wash Dishes, Sweep Floors: Housework as a Meditation Opportunity

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9 Summer-Ready Pools to Daydream About

You can practically smell the sunscreen and chlorine from here.

If you can’t make it oceanside this summer, a cool and refreshing backyard pool is the next best place to be.

Check out these nine gorgeous swimming pools — any of which would be perfect for a summer staycation.

Sleek and modern with clean lines, this Los Angeles, CA, pool looks like the perfect place for a romantic midnight swim.

Photo from Zillow listing.

The high temperatures of St. George, UT, are no match for this chic desert pool with views of the mountains.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Simple but luxe, this pool in Toluca, CA, has more than enough room to host friends and family for a summer pool party.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Seamlessly blending into its tropical surroundings, this infinity pool in Longboat Key, FL, offers a luxurious place to relax at the end of a long day.

Photo from Zillow listing.

In Johns Island, SC, the natural surroundings create a lush background for a few laps on those hot summer days.

Photo from Zillow listing.

This Santa Rosa Beach, FL, pool boasts its own built-in hot tub for ultimate relaxation.

Photo from Zillow listing.

A tropical getaway or someone’s backyard? Who can tell! This pool in Key West, FL, oozes island charm.

Photo from Zillow listing.

With a classic shape and design, this lakeside Seattle, WA, pool provides plenty of space to soak in the summer sun.

Photo from Zillow listing.

 

Posted by Jamie Birdwell-Branson on Zillow

 

 

 

 

9 Pools That Will Make You Wish Every Week Were Shark Week

Bust out your swim fins and sunblock. It’s time to take a dip.

We’re all bummed that Michael Phelps didn’t race a real shark. Instead of heading to the beach, we’ll console ourselves during the non-viewing hours of Shark Week by splashing around somewhere we know it’s safe to go in the water: a cool and refreshing backyard pool.

Check out these nine gorgeous swimming pools — any of which would be perfect for reenacting your favorite scenes from “Jaws,” “Deep Blue Sea,” or even “Sharknado.”

This San Juan Capistrano, CA pool, complete with diving board and slide, appears as though it were naturally formed into the stone.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sleek and modern with clean lines, this pool looks like the perfect place for a romantic midnight swim.

Photo courtesy of Sprecht Architects.

The high temperatures of Palm Springs, CA are no match for this ultra-stylish pool with a water feature and views of the mountains.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Surrounded by beautiful stonework, this pool in Malibu, CA has more than enough room to host friends and family for a summer pool party.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Seamlessly blending into its tropical surroundings, this infinity pool in Longboat Key, FL offers a luxurious place to relax at the end of a long day.

Photo from Zillow listing.

In Kiawah Island, SC, the natural surroundings create a lush background for doing a few laps on those hot summer days.

Photo from Zillow listing.

This Santa Rosa Beach, FL pool boasts its own built-in hot tub for ultimate relaxation.

Photo from Zillow listing.

What could be better than your own lagoon complete with slide and waterfall? This pool in Vero Beach, FL has it all.

Photo from Zillow listing.

With a classic shape and design, this Seattle, WA pool provides plenty of space to soak in the summer sun.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Posted by Jamie Birdwell Branson on Zillow

7 Off-the-Grid Homes That Will Make You Want to Unplug

Living sustainably doesn’t mean roughing it.

The chaos of modern life — with the constant stream of emails, multitude of devices and keeping pace with modern technology — can be exhausting. If you’ve ever thought about throwing away all your electronics, living sustainably or finally ditching life in the city, these seven off-the-grid homes may have just what you need.

Ambajejus Lake, ME

Moreair Is, Ambajejus Lake, ME
For sale: $389,600

Photo from Zillow listing.

Unplugging from smart phones and the internet wouldn’t be difficult at this ultra-private island property off Ambajejus Lake. In addition to the beautiful lake and Mount Katahdin views, it features two structures: one that is more insulated for winter stays, and a larger cabin that would be more comfortable during the summers. You can enjoy complete solitude with this property — your nearest neighbor would be approximately one mile away.

Find more homes near Lake Ambajejus.

Boise, ID

50 Yellow Pine Ln, Boise, ID
For sale: $725,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This charming Idaho log cabin has floor-to-ceiling windows, a beautiful stone fireplace, a gourmet kitchen and a large bathroom with a clawfoot tub for soaking. The home comes with a large horse barn and complete-and-utter privacy on 40 acres of land. Hydro- and solar-powered, this home makes it very easy for you to enjoy a sustainable, off-the-grid lifestyle in the middle of the woods.

See more homes for sale in Boise.

Winthrop, WA

98 Sage Canyon Rd, Winthrop, MA
For sale: $497,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This home, with views of the North Cascades National Park and Methow Valley, makes going off the grid look luxurious. The house is set on 97 acres, featuring protected meadows, wildflowers and a pine forest. Inside, the home boasts 3,600 square feet of custom craftsmanship, including a spiral staircase, large rec room and a spa-like master bathroom.

See more homes in Winthrop.

Sierraville, CA

804 Fiberboard Rd, Sierraville, CA
For sale: $988,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

With such close proximity to Lake Tahoe and Reno, NV, this home is the perfect getaway for those wishing to unplug. The interior of the home is rustic yet modern with a chef’s kitchen, two-story ceilings in the living area and a large stone fireplace. The property is perfect for snowmobiling in the winter and fishing in the summer, and even includes its own helipad.

Check out more homes for sale in Sierraville.

Albuquerque, NM

20 Canoncito Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM
For sale: $612,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Steps from the Piedra Lisa and La Luz trailheads, this solar-powered home is made for exploring the high desert. It was also designed to bring the outdoors in with large windows, a deck spanning the width of the house and a cozy window seat.

See more Rio Rancho listings.

Wolcott, VT

1858 Town Hill Rd, Wolcott, VT
For sale: $399,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Whether you’re craving a cozy spot to finally draft that novel, or you simply want to enjoy the privacy and tranquility of rural Vermont, this custom-built, modern home fits the bill. Completely self-sufficient with propane radiant-floor heat, it’s made for those harsh Northeastern winters. It also has an apple orchard and a permanent tree blind for a homeowner who wishes to hunt on the land.

Find more homes in Wolcott.

Black Mountain, NC

60 Bucks Walk, Black Mountain, NC
For sale: $949,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sweeping mountain and forest views, a custom-crafted interior and a separate, spacious guest cottage are just a few of this home’s selling points. Though the home has the capability to be completely off the grid with solar paneling, a diesel generator and cistern water storage, you won’t be roughing it with an updated kitchen, tranquil bathrooms and a library.

Posted by Jamie Birdwell-Branson on Zillow

17 Affordable Luxuries For Your Apartment Bathroom

You don’t have to be a homeowner to pamper yourself with spa-like bathroom features.

There’s no denying it: Sometimes it’s hard to turn off the water and step out of a hot, soothing shower. But your shower doesn’t have to be the only relaxing moment of your day. You may think the 10-foot-by-10-foot bathroom in your studio apartment in Washington, DC, is hopeless when it comes to Zen design potential, but it is possible to turn even the tiniest space into an oasis. Tackle these 17 bathroom DIY projects and be well on your way to enjoying a luxurious bathroom every day.

1. Dim the lights

Add a dimmer to ease into your morning or set the tone after a long day. The process is relatively easy, and with your landlord’s approval, your security deposit should be safe. Once you’re able to customize the lighting every morning, you’ll wonder how you survived without it!

2. Set a cozy mood

Creating a cozy, relaxing space can be as easy as leaving a few candles out in your bathroom. They’ll give the place a pleasant smell even unlit, and who doesn’t enjoy lighting a few candles before stepping into the shower or bath after a long day? Just remember to blow them out before you leave!

3. Add shower tunes

Catch up on your favorite podcasts or jam out to your favorite tunes while getting ready in the morning with a Bluetooth shower speaker. You can purchase a waterproof speaker for less than $20.

4. Warm your towels

You know that feeling of throwing on a sweatshirt right out of the dryer? Enjoy that luxury every day by hanging your towels on an electric towel rack that heats them up while you shower. Ahhh.

5. Keep your toes cozy

Don’t wait until you’re a homeowner to enjoy the luxury of a heated floor while getting ready in the morning. Throw a foot warmer mat by your bathroom sink on chilly mornings and enjoy getting ready without shivering on the tile.

6. Heat up the room

If toasty towels and toes aren’t enough, heat the entire space with a space heater — seek out a unit that’s small, sleek, and equipped with emergency shut-offs in case it overheats. Save money on energy bills by keeping the central heat on low and heat only your bathroom while you get ready in the morning.

7. Create the perfect pressure

Replace your rental showerhead with an adjustable rain-can version. If you’re tall, you can even add an extension to avoid the bent-over, crooked-neck shampooing experience. Pro tip: Especially if your rental has low-flow showerheads in place, you’ll probably have to get approval from your landlord before you break out the toolbox. Make sure you hold on to the original showerhead to reinstall at the end of your lease.

8. Sit pretty — and hygienic

Swap out your rental’s toilet seat with the seat of your choice, as long as you have approval from your landlord. Most are more than happy for renters to make this upgrade, and some will even cover the cost.

9. Add some art

Adorn your apartment’s bathroom walls with paintings or photography to add a bit of character. Kylee Trunck, senior staff designer at Havenly, recommends incorporating light-blue and green hues, which are known to be soothing — that’s why you see these colors at the spa! “Steer clear of fabric wall hangings that could also be potentially damaged by steam, and instead select prints that can be framed with a protective glass insert,” says Trunck.

10. Pull on pretty hardware

Replace drawer pulls and cabinet knobs with some prettier options. “Replacing drawer knobs and pulls is an easy and inexpensive way to change the look of a bathroom,” says Trunck. Look for options that are “the same size that can easily be screwed in and out” of the existing hole. You’ll also want to hold on to the old knobs, to screw back in place at the end of your lease.

11. Get a better look

Add a magnified mirror with a light to perfect your hair and makeup before heading out the door. You can opt for a free-standing version for your sink or one that screws into the wall.

12. Take in the full view

And don’t forget to check your entire reflection before heading out the door. Over-the-door full-length mirrors are a great option to save space (and your walls!), or pick a wall-mounted option with storage space inside.

13. Create a unique entry

Start by bumping the tension rod for your shower curtain close to the ceiling and invest in a longer shower curtain and liner for a taller, more luxe look. The added height will make your shower feel more spacious from the inside too. For an extra boost of design goodness, use two shower curtains instead of one to lend a symmetric, window-curtain effect.

14. Shower in a rainforest

Hang plants from your shower curtain rod or showerhead. Aloe vera thrives in hot, humid environments, and the leaf’s juice is filled with vitamins and minerals. If you have a sunny window in your bathroom, plant ivy for a natural air purifier: The plant helps keep spaces hygienic by removing mold, dust, and other icky particles from the surrounding air. Pro tip: Place the plant on a high shelf and let the stems grow long enough to elegantly trail down.

15. Add eucalyptus

Hang a bundle of eucalyptus from your showerhead to ward off colds. The plant emits a soothing smell, and its essential oils can help ease congestion. Bundles of eucalyptus can be found at flower shops and craft stores and can last up to a month in the shower.

16. Make an au naturel bathmat

Forget soggy bathmats: opt for a natural, wood mat made from IKEA outdoor decking. This “bathmat” is relatively easy to make — just click the pieces together and remove the edges once your mat is the desired size.

17. Sit back in some bubbles

Create your own bathtub shelf out of some reclaimed wood or two-by-fours and a bit of wood stain. Being able to eat, drink, and read a book in your tub? Completely unnecessary but totally worth it.

Posted by Nicole Esplin on Trulia

10 Ways To Detox Your Sleep Space


Detoxify one of the most important rooms in your home and transform it into the calming retreat it’s meant to be.

We spend a third of our lives in our bedrooms, sleeping (or at least attempting to!). But while you may consider your bedroom a respite from the rest of the world, in actuality harmful chemicals, pollutants, and even radiation from electronic devices can be lurking.

But no need to go sleepless in your Seattle, WA home or apartment. Thankfully, clearing out potential toxins and transforming your bedroom into a healthy haven is fairly simple, whether you’re a renter or a homeowner. Find out how to sleep better by detoxing your bedroom, and you could improve your health, well-being, and quality of sleep.

1. Dismiss those devices

Nothing distracts you from getting to bed at a reasonable hour like a TV, cellphone, or laptop in the bedroom. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, these devices also emit enough light (not to mention low-level radiation) to trick your brain into thinking it’s time to wake up, rather than go to sleep. So the first step when learning how to detox your sleep space is to purge your room of all electronics. Not willing to give up that bedside TV? Unplug it and throw a towel over it before bed. Charge your phone in a different room if possible, or DIY a nightstand designed to hide power cords.

2. Upgrade your mattress

To make sure you’re not breathing in potentially toxic materials every night, take a closer look at your mattress. Many are made with polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), one of the biggest sources of indoor air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. VOCs can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation, and have even been linked to cancer and other diseases.

Likewise, formaldehyde, commonly used in mattress adhesives, has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers. Consider switching to an organic cotton or low-chemical, low-VOC mattress. If your mattress is more than 10 years old, you might really need to upgrade. Before 2004 — when the material was phased out — many mattresses were treated with flame retardants known as PBDEs. Research has linked PBDE exposure to thyroid hormone disruption, memory impairment, and other adverse health effects.

3. Go low- or no-VOC

VOCs are also hiding in some types of wall paint. In addition to harming your health, paint made with VOCs often has such a strong odor that it lingers for weeks, even after it’s completely dried. Next time you do a fresh coat, choose a low- or no-VOC product.

4. Trade up the bed frame

In the market for a new bed frame? Look for one made from sustainable materials like recycled steel, FSC-certified or locally grown wood, and water-based adhesives. Like some conventional mattresses, particleboard and fiberboard frames — and those made with chemical adhesives — can emit potentially toxic formaldehyde fumes.

5. Mind your feng shui

Feng shui experts believe bed placement has a lot to do with your quality of shut-eye. Position your bed so that your head isn’t resting toward the door, and avoid putting your bed against a wall adjacent to the bathroom or the kitchen (the latter is thought to negatively impact health).

6. Make over your nightstand

Excessive clutter can make it difficult to get adequate sleep: A room just feels more calm and serene when it’s tidy. Start your clean sweep with the area closest to your line of sight when you lie down: your nightstand. Dust, corral loose papers and magazines, and lastly, flip the alarm clock around so it faces out and away from the bed. Watching the clock never helps when insomnia strikes.

7. Switch to natural detergent

Slipping into a bed made with freshly washed linens is one of life’s greatest little luxuries. But because we spend so many hours between the sheets, harsh, overly scented detergents can inflame allergies. Switch to laundry products made from natural essential oils and free of phosphates and synthetic dyes and fragrances (or make your own!). Another tip to keep dust mites and allergens at bay? Change your pillowcases every few days and wash pillows regularly.

8. Add plants

Plants are a no-brainer: They instantly brighten any room, absorb pollutants, and improve air quality, which means you can catch better zzz’s. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are plenty of low-maintenance options. Pro tip: Japanese royal ferns, spider plants, and aloe vera are among the most useful plants for eliminating VOCs and other toxins.

9. Throw open the shades

As soon as you wake up, open your curtains and let the light flood in. Heat from the sun naturally eliminates extra moisture from the room, decreasing the risk of mold and fungus growth. During warmer months, open windows to let fresh air circulate too.

10. Impose a “no-shoes” rule

Walking on filthy streets and pesticide-treated lawns makes shoes the perfect vehicle for tracking toxins into your home. Even if you don’t have a barefoot policy for the rest of the house, it’s a good idea to start one for the bedroom. Make it a rule to leave all shoes and slippers outside the bedroom door or at least slip them off and carry them to the closet.

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

Finding Bliss During the Hectic Holiday Season

When you’re making your to-do list and checking it twice, be sure that taking time to enjoy the season is at the top.

Shutterstock ID 327170654; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Shutterstock ID 327170654; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The end of the year can be a hectic time. Why not slow down for a moment to think about giving yourself (and others) the gift of sanity this holiday season?

While most of us yearn for calm during the last few weeks of the year, we often find ourselves amped up, with little time to relax. Create some peaceful moments during the remainder of this holiday season by organizing your time and energy around the things you value most.

For some people, the joy of the season comes from gift-giving. For others, it’s all about experiences like watching a parade, going ice skating, or checking out the holidays lights. Traditions such as sending cards or throwing festive tea party may define the holidays for you. And while people and social gatherings make the season bright for some, others like to focus on celebrating the spiritual aspect of the holiday.

Once you decide which parts of the holidays mean the most to you, keep your focus on what you value. From now until the end of the year, only buy items or create experiences that support those values.

A game plan for curbing the chaos

  1. Organize yourself first. Put some time on the calendar to enjoy the true meaning of your holiday. Ensure you block off this time for yourself before everyone else gets the last piece of you. Remember the flight attendants’ cautionary tip: Put your oxygen mask on first so you can be there for others and help them. Putting an appointment on your calendar guarantees you have some special time for yourself — even if it’s only 30 minutes or an hour.
  2. Remember that less is more. It’s so easy to get carried away by all the holiday hoopla surrounding you. But buying fewer gifts means you’ll spend less time wrapping, and making fewer commitments means you’ll have more time to do what you value most.
  3. Allow just one spot for a creativity zone. Limit all your gift-wrapping, card-writing, and project-making activities to one area. This is a space where you can leave everything set up and ready to use. It’s okay to have “work in progress.” Not every room in the home needs to be staged to perfection.
  4. Create your own holiday party team. Enlist a small group of teens, college students or friends who are willing to help you tackle your to-do list. When you pay or barter with others for assistance, your shopping, cleaning, organizing, decorating, and cooking will be much less stressful. Call them and get them scheduled.

Plan ahead for personal peace

Once we’ve organized our holiday tasks and timetable, the next trick is managing ourselves so we can enjoy gathering with family and friends. It’s normal to focus on how the house looks or what you’re wearing, but what really sets the tone for holiday events is how we present ourselves to others.

Just picture the comparison:

  • A harried host saying, “Come in, come in, oh gosh, I’ve got stuff in the oven, toss your coats in the guest room, bathrooms are down the hall, come in and join us.”
  • A calm, smiling host saying, “Welcome, let me give you a hug! How you are doing this evening? I’m so glad you’re here.”

As you plan, prepare, and experience the event, keep asking yourself, “What would make this easier for me?” For example, you could bake your holiday goodies from scratch and shop for centerpieces at the local florist, or you could order edible delicacies and stunning wreathes online and have them delivered.

And don’t be afraid to accept help. When someone asks if they can help you serve food, answer the door, or wash dishes, say yes. This not only helps you better handle your hosting duties, but also diffuses others’ discomfort when attending parties. Some guests struggle with social anxiety, and helping gives them something else to focus on.

Throughout the holiday season, remember: These moments with friends and family are precious, and it’s up to you whether you stress out or smile.

Posted by DorothyTheOrganizer on Zillow