Here’s a wonderful promise: You never have to bring home, dispose of, and feel guilty about using another plastic dry cleaning bag again. Nope, we aren’t suggesting you start hand-washing everything from your favorite cocktail dress to your husband’s dress pants—instead, use the Green Garmento three-in-one dry cleaning bag.
This reusable lightweight bag does triple duty as a roomy hamper (with its own snap-together frame), a totable duffel (cinch the top, throw it over your shoulder, and haul it to the cleaners), and a sturdy garment bag for your cleaned and pressed clothes. (See? No need for those landfill-clogging plastic bags.) With clever pockets to stash things like accessories and even your frequent-customer card, the Green Garmento makes dry cleaning easier, more organized, and gentler on the environment. It’s an all-around win.
Jenny Carney was almost struck by lightning once. A field ecologist, she was using a metal tank of compressed nitrogen to measure the moisture content in a tree. “It started to drizzle,” she says. “Then out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning hit the tank.” Fortunately, the tank didn’t explode. But the simultaneous light-sound experience—“near death by natural disaster,” she jokes—was a pretty exciting moment in her (outdoor) working life.
About 10 years ago, Jenny, now 37, took her scientific-inquiry skills indoors, where she felt they could make more of an impact. She runs a sustainability consulting firm in Chicago called YR&G that advises companies on all aspects of green building and energy-efficiency. It’s rewarding work, for sure. But sitting in front of a computer all day made Jenny, who had grown up in rural Wisconsin and had traversed forests in her previous gig, ache for nature. It’s a familiar feeling, even for those of us with urban roots and desk-centric careers.
Hatching a Plan
Raised by parents who had let their kids wander free with an ethos of “benign neglect,” Jenny had fond memories of slipping past barbed-wire fences to say hello to the neighbors’ cows. She dreamed of a similar vibe for adulthood, but she didn’t have the budget for a traditional country house.
Then she read a book that galvanized her. It was by journalist Richard Louv and titled Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Suddenly Jenny had a name for the malaise many of us feel from being cooped up too much—nature-deficit disorder—and confirmation that, as she explains it, “a compulsion toward nature is a health imperative.” If she couldn’t buy a place, she decided, she would build one herself. Something tiny. Did she have the construction chops? Not yet. But she was a good learner, and she had a secret weapon: her dad, Paul, who, she notes, “could build just about anything.” She started combing online listings for affordable property relatively close to Chicago, in a part of her home state that she considered particularly beautiful.
In early 2009, Jenny purchased six acres of raw land in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin, near the bluffs of the Mississippi River. She taught herself the 3-D modeling software SketchUp and spent that spring designing a small structure. Jenny had never designed anything before, but the software is perfect for beginners. “I was shooting for something more like a studio,” she says. In her head, she downplayed the fact that she would actually need to sleep there overnight. (The land was a good four hours from Chicago.) This “made the project seem attainable despite my lack of experience,” she adds with a laugh.
The structure that she drew and later built is not big and not fancy. Says Jenny: “It’s very intentionally not a house—it’s at best a shelter. I actually call it a shed. Sometimes I sleep in a tent or outside on the porch if the bugs and weather are tolerable. Sometimes I sleep inside.” Jenny’s friend Cayce nicknamed the retreat Xanadu, after the enchanted landscape in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.” It’s an apt moniker. The area features rolling hills, small farms, and country roads dotted with Amish buggies. And at 150 square feet, the shed is all about what surrounds it. “The default state at Xanadu is to be outside in nature,” says Jenny. “You have to make the active decision to go inside.”
It’s in the Genes
Jenny grew up watching both her parents make things with their hands. Her mother, Jane, is an artist who teaches reupholstering (just one of her many skills) at the local tech school. Jane taught Jenny and her sister how to cane chairs, a skill that came in handy when they needed pocket money during graduate school. Jenny’s father, a retired construction foreman who worked on bridges, built the family’s current home and several outbuildings with help from his kids and his brothers. Jenny says, “Lots of people from Wisconsin are like this. They’re industrious—they just do things.”
Raising a Shed
By most accounts, Jenny’s shed went up smoothly one extended October weekend in 2009, in large part because Jenny and Paul made a great team. She’s a planner; he’s a figure-it-out-as-you-go-er. “I enlisted his help right away to look at my drawings and tell me whether it was going to work,” she says. “But he didn’t fully engage in the project until we were actually building it.” Then there was no problem he could not solve.
They started by choosing a location for the structure. Jenny wanted to build deep in the woods, on a level road that followed an old farmer’s fence line. Her city self sought privacy. Paul convinced her to move the site closer to the field where she would park her car, in part so they wouldn’t have to lug building materials as far. (She thanked him later.) They created what’s known as a floating foundation by laying a small bed of gravel for each footing and arranging 12 concrete deck blocks (they look like cinder blocks). Working hard with Jenny and Paul all weekend were Paul’s brother Bob and Jenny’s mom, Jane, who also kept the team well fed. At one point, a couple of friends stopped by to lend extra hands.
Says newbie-builder Jenny, “When you focus on the constituent parts, [a project like this] seems manageable: Build a floor, add some walls, top it with a roof.” And that’s what they did. After the foundation was in place, they framed the floor, dropping supports of different lengths to create a level surface on the hill. Since they were building on an incline, the supports at the top of the hill are shorter than those at the bottom—and the floor appears to stick straight out of the hillside.
Days at Xanadu are spent lounging on the porch and enjoying the company of friends while waiting the 20 minutes it takes for water to boil.
Next they put down plywood floor decking. Then they framed the walls, leaving room for windows, and the roof, which would be metal, to facilitate rainwater collection.
After the skeleton of the shed was in place, they hung exterior walls made of plywood and added a layer of environmentally friendly siding (made of cement, sand, and wood fiber). “Fiber-cement siding,” Jenny explains, “is durable and low-maintenance, yet it’s far more environmentally preferred than vinyl siding. For one thing, it’s inert and noncombustible, so you don’t have to worry about off-gassing or the release of toxic compounds in the event of a fire.” Paul and Jenny finished up by installing energy-efficient windows and a sliding-glass door that opens onto a porch, sheltered by an overhanging roof.
Three and a half days after the project began, the exterior shell was complete. Jenny’s mom rewarded the team with a huge pan of lasagna made on a camp stove.
Filling in the Blanks
The remaining construction took place in stages over the course of the following year. Jenny came back by herself to build the interior walls. She used Energy Star–qualified foam insulation between the studs and finished the inside walls and the ceiling with formaldehyde-free plywood.
That fall, Paul returned, and together they fitted the space with a woodstove and a chimney so it could be used in winter. He and Jenny also built a simple, space-saving Murphy-type bed: It’s a basic platform bed whose head is attached to the wall with hinges. They added hooks to the far legs and chains to the wall so that the bed could be hinged and lifted to hang vertically, flush against the wall, when not in use. Bed linens are kept in two storage bins that, like most everything in the shed, serve a dual purpose—they’re sofa seating.
Something To Eat, Nothing To Do
Jenny researched vegetables that could thrive without care. Since she’s not around to water regularly, they needed to be OK with what nature provides. In raised beds in a nearby field, she grows onions, fingerling potatoes, and beans, which she leaves to dry on the vine, then harvests for dinner.
Days at Xanadu are spent lounging on the porch, blazing trails, hunting for wild morel mushrooms, and enjoying the company of friends and loved ones while waiting the 20 minutes it takes for water to boil on the woodstove.
The Unfinished Product
There’s still no plumbing or electricity installed on the property, and for now Jenny prefers it this way. She collects rainwater in a barrel to wash dishes, cooks on a campfire propane grill or the woodstove, uses a solar-charged battery to power a few lights, and turns to sawdust and a bucket for a loo. As long as you’re prepared to rough it, she says, staying at Xanadu feels like cushy camping.
In an effort to return the land to its original state. Jenny cultivates prairie plants, such as milkweed. (Monarch-butterfly larvae require it, and sadly it’s disappearing.) Last year, she planted heirloom apple trees, which the deer keep picking at. In a field near the garden are tree-swallow houses made by Paul from a design that Jenny found online. Birds make their home there during mating season; field mice take residence the rest of the year. Even the swallows have a second purpose, says Jenny: “They’re insectivores, gobbling mosquitoes to make lounging in the field more appealing for humans.”
Jenny dreams of a high-speed rail link between Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, which would allow her to make the most of the trek. Until then, she does the four-hour drive whenever she can get away, staying as long as her schedule permits.
At the end of each visit, before she heads back to her city life, she has a ritual. She sits on the porch, drinking a beer and reading a poem.
Paul Carney understands Jenny’s pull toward this rustic project. During his retirement, he figures that he spends 90 percent of his waking time outside, gardening, fishing, and working on his house. “In the summer, I just come in to eat and sleep,” he reports.
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Wherever we go about our daily business in the UK these days, it appears that we will never be too far away from being captured on CCTV. For most law abiding citizens, this rarely presents a problem. We have come to recognise CCTV as almost part and parcel of our daily lives.
Many people welcome CCTV on the streets of our towns and cities in the fight against crime. It can also help to secure the convictions of criminals who might have otherwise been able to go about their business and remain undetected.
The Laws Relating to CCTV
The main laws governing the installation and use of CCTV is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998, but this only applies to businesses and organisations and NOT to domestic property. It’s crucial that people recognise that distinction. If you’re concerned about a company’s use of CCTV, that’s a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to deal with under the statutes that have been laid out under the Data Protection Act.
Is it Legal?
Yes, it is perfectly legal as long as due care is taken. Most people who choose to install CCTV at home do so primarily to deter would-be intruders from trespassing onto or breaking into their homes, and this is completely legitimate.
You cannot stop your neightbour from installing a CCTV system or from operating any kind of video recording device, such as a camcorder. For example, Using CCTV At Home can often help police secure a conviction for crimes that have been committed, such as a theft of a car parked outside your home or to identify individuals who are engaging in Anti-Social Behaviour.
That said, in such cases, the CCTV system you might have at home is more likely to act as a deterrent. This is simply because in a residential area would-be criminals are likely to be far more aware of residential CCTV installations, and so are more likely to avoid doing anything which might contravene the law.
In cases of people who are able to provide video evidence of crimes or acts of anti-social behaviour being committed outside their own homes, that will usually come about as a result of some covert filming using a camcorder or digital camera.
When you could be Breaking the Law for Having CCTV at Home
While home installation of CCTV does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Data Protection Act, if the home installation has not been carried out correctly or is being used for a purpose other than for which it was designed, then you may have a case for taking further action under totally different laws.
For example, if you have a camera which is pointed directly at another person’s property or it’s suspected that it can capture part or all of a neighbour’s property, they might have a case to take action against you under legislation covered by the Human Rights Act. They might have sufficient grounds to say that they have had their privacy violated, that your CCTV system is tantamount to harassment and even voyeurism.
In such cases, they can get the police involved if you’re not able to come to some agreement with regards to what the camera(s) can capture and to make modifications to the installation
If you’re putting your house on the market, not only will you want to make sure it looks good enough to score the best sale, but you may also want to keep a close eye on its real estate description. A new analysis from Zillow Digs shows that certain keywords in a listing can help houses to sell faster and for a higher price. “When it comes to real estate listing descriptions—words matter,” Dr. Svenja Gdudell, Zillow chief economist, said in a statement. “Your listing description is an opportunity to highlight specific details and finishes that might not be visible in photos.”
Zillow Digs looked at the listings of 2.8 million U.S. home sales between January 2014 and March 2016, while accounting for property age and size, time of year, and market region. Researchers analyzed 60 specific keywords that described certain design features and amenities and whether their inclusion in the home’s listing affected the sale price. From the the analysis, the team at Zillow found that Craftsman-style keywords in listings were both popular and more lucrative—“barn doors” helped to raise a home’s price by 13 percent and sell 57 days faster, “shaker cabinets” upped the price by 9.6 percent and sell 45 days faster, and “farmhouse sink” elevated the value by 7.9 percent and sold 58 days faster. The team also found that “Craftsman-style” homes do better than any other design style.
While it might not be possible to transform your Spanish Colonial Revival-style home into a Craftsman-style one, the other findings can be a guide for any renovation projects you decide to undertake before putting your home on the market. For example, the terms “subway tile,” “pendant light,” “heated floors,” and “granite” were also found to be popular listing terms. The team saw that compared to the term “new carpet,” listings with “hardwood floors” sold for two percent more than the expected value.
To optimize your home’s listing description, the experts at Zillow have a few extra tips in addition to highlighting desirable amenities and design styles. They recommend keeping location in mind when calling out certain terms; for example, in colder climates heated floors are more important, while outdoor kitchens might be more prevalent and sought-after in warmer climates. You can also use flattering adjectives—words like “luxurious” and “captivating” can add 5-8 percent more to your home’s value. They’ve also found that words with longer descriptions sell for more as well. You’ll want to work with your real estate agent, who should be an expert in the local area and know what kind of language will attract buyers.
Below, take a look at the top listing keywords from the analysis and its effects—what percent it can sell above the expected price and how much faster:
- Barn Door: 13.4%; 57 days
- Shaker Cabinet: 9.6%; 45 days
- Farmhouse Sink: 7.9%; 58 days
- Subway Tile: 6.9%; 63 days
- Quartz: 6%; 50 days
- Craftsman: 5.4%; 14 days
- Exposed Brick: 4.9%; 36 days
- Pendant Light: 4.6%; 48 days
- Frameless Shower: 4.6%; 38 days
- Heated Floors: 4.3%; 28 days
- Stainless Steel: 4.2%; 42 days
- Granite: 4.1%; 38 days
- Backsplash: 4.1%; 46 days
- Tankless Water Heater: 4%; 43 days
- Outdoor Kitchen: 3.7%; 19 days
From kitchens, to sofas, to yes, even wine- we cant seem to get enough blue in our homes! Although not your typical neutral shades, navy blue decor adds a timleess feel to any room. It can either stand as a statement piece or simply set the stage for a classic, romantic look. These 20 rugs from our shop are the perfect way to add this chic color to any room
Hay Tann Toothbrush
If you’re going for color in your spa space, these tinted-from-top-to-bottom toothbrushes will provide an unexpected pop.
To buy: $5; momastore.org.
Photo by momastore.org
Angeline Terry Cloth Towels
Choose from pink and purple or yellow and blue (or mix and match the two) to incorporate a vibrant, yet sophisticated accessory to your bath.
To buy: Washcloth, $13, hand towel, $30, bath towel, $72; rikumo.com.
Photo by rikumo.com
Flex Shower Mirror
Hang this turquoise rubber-wrapped mirror from your showerhead or use the suction cup instead to mount it directly to your shower wall. Either way, this bit of color will brighten up your everyday routine.
To buy: $13; umbra.com.
Photo by umbra.com
Mint Striped Trinket Dish
Use this small ceramic footed bowl to corral jewelry or small soaps on the countertop and provide a sweet surprise for guests.
To buy: $12; anthropologie.com.
Photo by anthropologie.com
Alabax Medium Fixture
Incorporate color even in your light fixture with the help of this sunny yellow flush-mount.
To buy: $119; schoolhouseelectric.com.
Photo by schoolhouseelectric.com
Snapp Pedal Bin
This bright three-gallon tapered bin boasts a removable liner and an easy-to-carry handle at a bargain price.
To buy: $13; ikea-usa.com.
Photo by ikea-usa.com
This article originally appeared on TravelandLeisure.com.
Everyone loves an extra-long weekend, but evidence is mounting that a three-day weekend isn’t just good for your peace-of-mind (or your personal life). According to a recent article by Alex Williams, a City University London visiting lecturer reporting for Quartz, just one additional day off every week could be majorly beneficial to the environment.
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We already know that when working hours are reduced, there’s a parallel decrease in energy use. People aren’t commuting, and towering office buildings aren’t blasting heat or A/C.
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Utah, for example, saved no less than $1.8 million in energy costs when it transitioned state workers to a Monday through Thursday week. Even with extended daily hours, employees still worked less—and from commuting alone, some 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide were kept out of the atmosphere each year.
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And it’s not just the environment that benefits. A shift in the workweek could reduce illness, increase productivity, and be a boon to our general wellbeing. Make your long weekend a trip to the beach, and you’ll really be reaping the health advantages.