Quick and Easy Home Decor Projects

You'd like to spruce up your apartment, but you don't want to spend a lot of time doing so. Lucky for you these fast and easy projects will make a big impact without a big commitment.

  1. Add some simple artwork. With just one trip to the art supply store and a few minutes at home, you can create a beautiful gallery wall or a statement piece in any room. Fill frames with family photos, old wallpaper, or vintage prints from the thrift store to add a bit of character in one simple step.
  2. Spray painted vases. If you have a few mason jars, old vases, or just about any type of glass container, create a matching set of colorful, stylish vases with bright spray paint. Paint the whole thing, or use a sweeping motion to add a gradient look to just the bottom.
  3. Cover pillows. You don’t have to be an expert seamstress to cover those drab, old pillows with something fresh and stylish. There are a number of online tutorials that show you how to make your own pillow covers in just minutes, and some don’t even require sewing!

Fast and Fabulous Decorating Projects [Better Homes and Gardens]
10 Décor Projects for a Quick and Easy DIY Fix [Mashable]
5 DIY Decorating Projects [Real Simple]

How to Improve Your Penmanship at Any Age

Having good penmanship is an invaluable life skill, and even if it’s been decades since you first learned to write in cursive, it’s something that you can always try to improve. Here are a few helpful tips to help you improve you handwriting or teach your children the proper way to write.

  1. Point out the flaws. Write a few sentences and evaluate them to see where you’re going wrong. Is the slant uneven, or are the letters spaced too far apart? Do you write with straight, bold lines or are they shaky and fine? Deciphering where your handwriting needs improvement will help you to make it better.
  2. Use the right muscles. Most people with less-than-perfect handwriting draw the letters on the page with only their fingers instead of using their full arms to write properly. Try writing with your entire arm and shoulder in order to put the right amount of force behind each letter.
  3. Go back to the basics. Many bad habits begin when people start writing letters in a way that is different than the proper formation. Using a kindergarten-style alphabet worksheet, re-train yourself to write each letter the way it should look. This will help you to make your writing more consistent and, in turn, more legible for those who have to read it.

How to Improve Your Handwriting [wikiHow]
8 Easy Tips to Improve Your Handwriting [Matador]
Improve Your Handwriting by Writing With Your Shoulders, Not Your Fingers [Lifehacker]

How to Keep Drawers Neat and Tidy

Just about every home has a junk drawer. You know the one: You fill it with your extra batteries, pens, a few stray kids’ toys, and a variety of other things that simply don’t have their own place. If your junk drawer drives you crazy, these simple tips will show you how to organize it once and for all.

  1. Clean it out. It’s definitely not the most fun task, but in order to maintain clean drawers you have to first empty the drawer out entirely. Toss out anything that you don’t use, and put everything else in a pile to be organized before going back into the drawer.
  2. Invest in a few organizers. If your drawer is particularly large, it may be helpful to add a few organizers to create separate areas for all of the items inside. Most home goods stores carry plastic or mesh drawer dividers that fit just about any drawer.
  3. Think of different ways to store items. If you’re tackling a dresser drawer, don’t be afraid to “file” t-shirts instead of stacking them. Although this may not be the way that you were taught, it certainly helps you to access items more easily and keep the drawer neater.
  4. Add a sachet. Even basic items like office supplies or clothing can start to smell musty when stored in a drawer, so add a scented sachet to keep things smelling fresh.

15 Organizing Ideas for Your Drawers [Real Simple]
Have a More Organized Monday: 5 Tips for Tidying Your Dresser Drawers [Apartment Therapy]
How to Organize Your Dresser [Real Simple]

How to Plant Your Own Terrarium

If you pay attention to interior design blogs, you’ve likely seen colorful terrariums popping up all over the place. These intricate indoor gardens may seem difficult to make, but with the right supplies and a few slow-growing plants, you can create your own terrarium to make your home look just like the pros’.

  1. Find the right structure. Terrariums should be built inside of a clear glass or plastic container so that you can see what’s going on inside. Something like a fish bowl, mason jar, or even a store-bought terrarium will work best. Do your best to choose the size based on how large you plants are.
  2. Form the garden bed. The success of your terrarium depends on the base. Start by lining the container with a one-inch layer of pebbles for drainage, and then add a ½-inch layer of activated charcoal. A 1 ½-inch layer of pre-moistened sphagnum moss goes over that to prevent the soil from slipping in between the pebbles.
  3. Plant your plants. Whether you choose succulents or herbs, they need to go on top of this well-draining garden bed. Remove your plants from their pots and cut away pot-bound roots. Place a layer of soil in your terrarium that’s just taller than your plants' roots, and plant the plants inside where the leaves won’t touch the glass.
  4. Decorate. Now that your terrarium is complete, it’s time to make it look pretty. Add some decorative rocks inside, and then place it in front of a well-lit window where your guests can easily see it.

How to Make Your Own Terrarium [HGTV]
How to Make Terrariums [About Home]
Terrariums: A Guide to Plants and Care [BHG]

Easy Ways Be More Productive at Work

Even the most model of employees is susceptible to the 3 p.m. slump. But that doesn't necessarily mean productivity has to suffer. Check out these three tips for improving your workflow at the office.

1) Let your body dictate the day.
It's likely that your energy levels take a nosedive at certain times during the workday, while other times you feel lively and awake. Take mental note of these ebbs and flows in energy, and plan your day's tasks around them. Schedule routine tasks for when your energy dips, and plan tasks requiring more brain power during the hours when you're feeling more lively.

2) Don't multitask.
If you get everything done at once, you'll have more time to complete other tasks, right? Not really. It's impossible for your brain to devote equal attention to multiple tasks being performed simultaneously; you'll be more apt to make mistakes, which will cost you valuable minutes somewhere down the line.

3) Take a break.
You probably feel pressure to soldier on through your lunch break, but staying chained to your desk is actually counterproductive. Instead, aim to take five minute breaks every two hours. Walk around, stretch, and get outdoors, if you can. This will improve blood flow and help you feel more energized.

10 Easy Ways To Be More Productive At Work [Forbes]
11 Ways To Be More Productive At Work [AskMen]
10 Ways to be More Productive at Work [U.S. News]

4 Low Calorie Snacks That Won’t Sabotage Your Diet

Your diet provides rules and regulations for each of your daily meals, but what about when your stomach rumbles in between meals? Sometimes snacking is inevitable, but you still want to make informed, healthy choices. These four snack recipes are low in calories but still delicious and filling.

Almond-Honey Power Bar [Eating Well]
Stop paying for expensive meal bars and start making your own nutritious versions right at home. These almond-honey power bars are filled with all-natural ingredients, and they’re high in protein that makes them ideal for a post-workout snack.

Guiltless Guacamole [Delish]
Regular restaurant guacamole isn’t the worst dip in the world, but it certainly isn’t a healthy snack. This flavorful recipe offers the same delicious guacamole taste, but with far less calories than the original.

Lemon-Parm Popcorn [Eating Well]
Popcorn is already a low calorie snack, but it’s often bland and flavorless. This zesty lemon and parmesan version is much tastier than the original, but it’s still as healthy.

Spinach and Cannellini Bean Dip [Cooking Channel]
Whether you pair it with fresh vegetables or sliced and toasted pita bread, this Mediterranean-inspired cannellini bean dip makes a great low-calorie snack. It’s flavored with fresh lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, and the baby spinach adds nutrients that most snacks simply don’t have.

Washington, D.C.’s Must-See National Parks

The national parks in Washington, D.C. encompass both the rich history of our forefathers and the beauty of the land as it was centuries ago. Visit some of the most famous monuments in the world and stroll through the majestic forest, both of which are within reach of our nation’s capital.

National Mall and Memorial Parks
Popular landmarks like The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial are just a few of the famous destinations within National Mall and Memorial Parks, which are located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Visitors enjoy taking walking tours through the National Mall, guided bike tours starting at the Jefferson Memorial, or teeing off at the East Potomac Golf Course. All of the tours are free, and the park is open 24 hours a day.

Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park intersects the northwestern side of Washington, D.C., providing the beauty of nature as well as a range of public park amenities. It was one of the first National Parks in the country, and the park is known for how closely it brushes with the massive urban area that is our nation’s capital. See a show at the Fort Dupont Summer Theater, catch a concert at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, or visit Linden Oak, the largest known white oak tree in the United States.

Any Novice Baker Can Master These Easy Shortbread Cookie Recipes

Whether you dip it into a steaming cup of tea or serve it as a treat for dessert, rich, buttery shortcake is a classic cookie that just about everyone enjoys. There are a wide variety of ways to make shortbread, and there are even more delicious toppings to bring out that creamy flavor. Here are two of the best shortbread recipes.

Ina Garten’s Shortbread Cookies [The Food Network]
Ina Garten of The Barefoot Contessa offers a traditional shortbread cookie recipe that’s anything but boring. Unsalted butter, vanilla, and sugar combine to create the signature sweet, buttery taste, while a pinch of salt helps to enrich the already delicious flavor. After the cookies are done, Garten recommends drizzling them with semisweet chocolate as a topping.

Scottish Shortbread [Allrecipes]
Prepared just like they used to make it in Scotland, this recipe uses only real, full flavor ingredients to create the beloved cookie. Real butter and brown sugar spare no expense when it comes to taste, and the recipe itself is so simple that just about anyone can make it.

Speed Through Laundry Day With These 4 Organization Tips

You love the fresh, clean feeling of having all of your laundry done, but getting there is a whole different story. Laundry day may be time-consuming, but there are ways to make it easier. Here are a few tips to help you organize your laundry and get it done in half the time.

  1. Sort laundry without even trying. It takes a lot of time to sort through your mountain of dirty clothes and separate the lights from the darks. Invest in a three-compartment hamper to do the sorting for you.
  2. Bleach more effectively. Bleaching seems like a fool-proof way to remove stains from white clothing, but it doesn’t always work as effectively as you’d like. The proper way to bleach clothes is by first letting the clothing soak in a pool of water. Add one cup of bleach and one cup of dishwashing detergent and let it soak for about half an hour. Finally, dump the whole thing into the washing machine and wash as you normally would.
  3. Prevent damage. To reduce fading, turn dark colored items inside out before washing. Use the cold water setting to prevent clothes from shrinking, and then hang them to dry instead of using the dryer. Also, only wash delicates, like bras and underwear, in a lingerie bag on the delicate cycle.
  4. Invest in a drying rack. Rather than tossing delicate items over the shower curtain rod or rigging some other kind of makeshift drying rack, invest in the real deal. They're usually inexpensive, and they fold into a flat shape to tuck away when not in use.

10 Tips and Tricks for Easier Laundry Days [Yahoo!]
Easy Laundry Tips [The Nest]
How to Do Laundry More Effectively [Babble]
13 Ways to Make Laundry Day Easier [BHG]

Keep Your Leafy Greens Fresh Longer With These 3 Tips

Leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-rich vegetables, but they’re also some of the fastest to go bad. If you’re tired reaching for your lunchtime kale and being faced with a pile of wilted, mushy leaves, it’s time to change your green routine. Here are three helpful tips that will keep your leafy greens their greenest.

  1. Choose wisely. Maintaining healthy greens requires that they’re in good quality to begin with. Be sure to shop at a grocery store that frequently restocks its produce section, because greens tend to mold very quickly. When choosing a bundle of spinach, lettuce, or kale, look for dark, vibrant colors without any signs of yellowing or splitting.
  2. Refrigerate properly. Don’t stuff your greens just anywhere inside of your refrigerator. Be sure to keep greens separate from fruits, because fruits emit gases that are harmful to vegetables. Store greens in the plastic bag that they came in, and if they’re especially delicate, place them inside of a sturdy paper bag as well.
  3. Wash thoroughly. You should never wash your greens before refrigerating them because it causes wilting, but make sure that you wash them thoroughly before eating. Rinsing the whole bundle in the sink or a salad spinner will rid them of any dirt or harmful pesticides.

How to Store Your Leafy Greens to Make them Last Longer [Eat Local 365]
How to Store Leafy Greens in the Fridge [The Sprouting Seed]
Leafy Greens [Fresh Direct]
Improving the Quality of Your Store Bought Leafy Greens [FitDay]

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