The Best Ways to Use Essential Oils in Your Home

Essential oils have become a popular addition to self-care regimens, but they’re also useful for a number of household needs. So, what is an essential oil? According to Wikipedia, they’re “concentrated hydrophobic liquids containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.” Essential oils have been traditionally used for aromatherapy, but more and more people are incorporating them into their day-to-day lives. The great thing about these concentrated liquids is their versatility. They’re also a great natural alternative to chemical cleaners.

Essential Oils To Use

Lavender is one of our favorite essential oils for cleaning our homes and healing our skin!

There are dozens of essential oils you can choose from, but there are a few specific options that are ideal for home use. According to Keeper of the Home, they are:

  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Frankincense
  • Tea Tree
  • Oregano
  • Wild Orange

Lavender is a staple scent, and you can find lavender perfumes and house sprays at almost any home goods store. It’s a soothing scent, but it’s also a great topical agent for fresh cuts. It acts as an antibacterial serum when applied undiluted. Burned yourself cooking? Apply lavender to ease the pain. Heading out to walk down one of our garden paths? Use it to ward off insects as a natural repellant.

If you combine 5 drops of eucalyptus and 5 drops of tea tree oil to a 16-ounce water bottle, you have a mold-fighting bathroom spray that smells great. Lemon oil disinfects quick, which can prolong the life of your dish sponges, and it disintegrates stubborn substances like wax, sticker residue, and gum.  Peppermint can keep bugs away from your home. Use a cotton swab to brush your windows and doors with the crisp, minty oil and those flying pests will stay away.

You can find essential oils in pharmacies and supermarkets across the area. There are also boutiques that create proprietary oils if you prefer an immersive experience.

Tea tree oil has a lot of great topical uses, but it’s also an amazing antifungal and antibacterial cleaning option. Mix it with water and lemon oil to clean your high traffic areas with ease. After you’re done fighting germs, soothing burns, and stopping bugs from invading your space, take your favorite scent and diffuse it for a relaxing end to your essential oil home improvement project. You deserve it!

Rental Resolutions

New year, new resolutions. For 2017, why not focus on where you live? These five rental resolutions will make your apartment feel like home.

Apartments in New Orleans

Five Rental Resolutions for 2017

Make your bed.

It’s easier said than done — but carving out time to make your bed each and every day makes a big difference in making your space feel like home! It’s meditative time for you in the morning, and when you get home from work, imagine how nice it will feel to come home to a made-up bed. Purchase fun throw pillows or linen spray to really amp up the homey feel.

Take time to tidy.

At some point every day, make it a point to put away or clean up ten items. That could mean stacking up your magazines on the coffee table, loading a few lingering items into the dishwasher, or wiping down the counter. Don’t plan to spend more than 20 minutes doing this: the idea is to clean day by day and help mitigate time-consuming deep cleans on your Saturday.

Invest (within reason) on home decor.

Renters often feel like it doesn’t make sense to invest in their space since they’re only renting. We firmly disagree! If you move, you take your decor with you, just like you would clothes and personal items. So why not allocate a little bit of money toward home decor?

Hang curtains.

Curtains add instant polish to your space and help define windows, which are natural light sources and a focal point for the eye. Go for full-length curtains to help create a sense of height. Whether you opt for a bold color or simple neutral is up to you!

Add greenery.

Pantone named “greenery” the 2017 color of the year! Our suggestion for getting green? House plants. They add life to your space while also offering added health benefits. Take a look at our guide to indoor plants here.

 

A touch of greenery added to our Fox Run Apartment!

Outside Activities in Metairie and River Ridge

There’s never a bad reason to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, but with Earth Day (April 22) in mind, we’re counting up our favorite outdoor spaces in Metairie and River Ridge. Pack your picnic gear or maybe just a football to toss around — here’s your chance to soak up the sun!

lafreniere park

Shady trees, a paved walkway, and water features are all part of Lafreniere Park in Metairie. (Photo courtesy ExperienceJefferson.com)

Top 5: Places for Outside Activities in Metairie and River Ridge

Lafreniere Park — We profiled this sprawling park not long ago, taking note of its picnic areas, landscaped greens, hills, running trails, and so much more. This is one of the best spaces in the heart of the city to enjoy peaceful greenery all around, whether you opt for a jog along the running trail or a birding excursion on the park’s Marsh Island. 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie

Longue Vue House and Gardens

Longue Vue House and Gardens. (Photo via NewOrleansOnline.com)

Longue Vue House & Gardens — Though it technically falls under a New Orleans address, Longue Vue House & Gardens is located just off Metairie Road. The landscaped gardens feature fragrant blooms like Confederate jasmine and Mexican primrose, all first landscaped by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a prominent female landscape architect, in the 1930s. The gardens, inspired by the Alhambra in Spain, also feature large fountains and walkways, all anchored by a historic mansion built in the classic Revival architecture style. Tickets are $12 for adults and include access to both the mansion and grounds. 7 Bamboo Rd., New Orleans

The pool at Bella Ridge

The pool at Bella Ridge, complete with in-water tanning ledges!

Bella Ridge Pool — OK, we’re a little biased here. But we spent so much time planning and perfecting the pool at Bella Ridge that we truly believe it’s an outdoor space worth adding to your list. Contact us today about how you can become a Bella Ridge resident and enjoy the pool all through the season! It features thoughtful details like tanning ledges and lush landscaping that transport you to luxury resorts, all right outside your door. 1101 Dickory Dr., River Ridge

Cleary Playground — Tucked away in a quiet part of Metairie, this small, clean playground features open fields and playtime equipment ideal for kids (or kids at heart). Picnic tables and shaded areas are perfect for adults — pack a snack and get going! 3700 Civic St., Metairie

KOA Campgrounds — If you’re really ready to immerse yourself in nature, you can visit the KOA Campground in River Ridge. It’s the official campground for New Orleans West and features campsites for both RVs and tent camping. No pets are allowed, so be sure to find a petsitter for your pup (and send them to these dog parks while you’re gone!). 11129 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge 

How to Dispose of Christmas Trees and Live Holiday Greenery

Seasonal greenery like fir trees and wreaths delight the senses with their wintry look and fresh scent. But after the holidays are over, disposing of these decorations can be a real headache. However, with a few pro tips, you can remove holiday greenery with ease – and even create new decorations for next year in the process. Here’s how:

tree branches

Read on to learn the best ways of disposing holiday greenery. (Photo courtesy waysideviolet on Flickr)

How to Dispose of Christmas Trees and Other Live Greenery

Removing the Tree

Don’t let your tree get too dried out before you remove it: the dryer a tree is, the more likely you are to be at risk of a house fire. Take care to remove all ornaments, tinsel, and lights, then remove the tree from its stand. If possible, you can break the tree down into more manageable sections, then carry the pieces to the curb. If not, use a tree bag or an old sheet to wrap the tree in, which will help prevent needle and sap transfer onto your floors as you carry it outside. Take the tree to the dumpster, and make sure it doesn’t obstruct any roads or sidewalks.

Cleaning Up

Once you remove the tree, you’ll likely have extra needles to clean up. We suggest using a broom rather than a vacuum at first because too many needles can clog vacuums. After you’ve swept, you can go over the area with a vacuum to pick up any stray remains. Also, check for sap or water stains – be sure to clean and dry these areas using color-safe carpet cleaner or floor cleaner.

Recycling

In Jefferson Parish, the Department of Environmental Affairs will recycle all trees collected to use for marsh restoration and composting. All Jefferson parish residents in places like Kenner and Harahan who place their live trees out for collection will automatically have them recycled as long as the trees are free of all lights, tinsel, garland, ornaments, stands, and plastic bags. The parish will collect eligible trees on January 7, 8, and 9, 2016.

Other Ideas

tree bark ornaments

You can create holiday ornaments using tree bark from a fir or pine tree. (Photo courtesy DesignMom.com)

Use parts of your tree as decorations for next year. You can carefully cut thin slices of the trunk or branches to decorate and hang on next year’s tree with a ribbon (use a bit of hot glue on the back of the wood or drill a small hole). You can also create coasters out of the wooden discs – seal them with a wood varnish first!

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Indoor Plants

Looking to add a little green in your life? We've got the ultimate guide to caring for indoor plants! Head to 1stlake.com to learn about the best types of indoor plants, plus tips for caring for them. Foliage in your apartment can really make a space feel fresh and with the right indoor plants, you can literally purify the air in your home.

A little greenery can make a big impact and brighten up the room, but caring for houseplants can be tricky. After all, they are living, breathing beings, and each one is different.

These tips can help you approach the task responsibly so that you can enjoy beautiful indoor plants in your apartment for years to come.

Choose The Right Type of Indoor Plant

Different plants have different needs, and some plants are better for indoors than others. Some plants that tend to flourish in apartments include Cast Iron Plants, Chinese Evergreens, Philodendron varieties, Peace Lilies, Orchids, and Snake Plants.

Air Purifying Plants

Houseplants aren’t just pleasing to the eye; many also serve a beneficial function such as purifying air. NASA has even executed studies on common household air pollutants and found that certain household plants filter a stunning amount of toxins.

Ficus plants are at the top of the chart when examining air purifying qualities. Plants of this family include the Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) and Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina).

Other beneficial plants that will thrive in New Orleans’ climate include the Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia), Caladium, Spider Plants (Chlorophytum), ivy, and ferns.

If your apartment gets little light, choose a plant with low light requirements such as an Umbrella Tree (Schefflera), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue – also known as Snake Plant – (Sansevieria trifasciata).

Beneficial Flowering Plants

For filtering and fragrance, choose a flowering plant to improve indoor air quality. Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum), for example, can filter toxic benzene. Persian Violets (Cyclamen), African Violets (Saintpaulia), and Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus Tazetta) perform similar functions, serving to sift dangerous chemicals from the air.

Chrysanthemum, too, are excellent purifiers. A study by NASA in the late 1980s indicated that a single chrysanthemum filtered more than 60 percent of toxic formaldehyde from a small room in just 24 hours.

Low Maintenance Houseplants

The best houseplants are pretty while are deceptively easy to keep alive. Philodendrons only require moderate light and water levels, so no need to frequently water or worry about light exposure. Not only do ponytail palms sound cute, but they look cute too, and only need watering once every one or two weeks.

The snake plant (also called mother-in-law’s tongue or its formal name Sansevieria trifasciata) is another great indoor plant that is virtually impossible to kill. With a little TLC every now and then, this houseplant can grow in almost any indoor condition.

Print this free indoor garden pocket guide to herbs and vegetables. It will come in handy when you're shopping at the garden center! Head to 1stlake.com to learn about the best types of indoor plants, plus tips for caring for them.

Herbs and Vegetables for Indoor Gardens

Grow delicious herbs and vegetables year-round in your indoor garden. A freshly harvested tomato will add some extra zing to your salads, and a sprig of fresh mint is the perfect addition to any cocktail. Print out our handy pocket guide from 1st Lake Properties for easy reference. 

Poisonous Houseplants

As many great houseplants as there are to choose from, there are also some to avoid as to not put any pets or small children in danger. Many are only poisonous if ingested, but be on the lookout for these different species when shopping for houseplants.

10 Houseplants For Pet Owners To Avoid:

  • Anthurium
  • Calla Lily
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Elephant Ear
  • English Ivy
  • Oleander
  • Philodendron
  • Schefflera
  • Spathiphyllum

A great solution for pet owners is to grow wheatgrass at home: it’s safe for pets, cats love it, and it even helps to neutralize pet odors!

You might also want to try making a terrarium, to keep the plants away from prying paws.

Need more help deciding what type of plant to choose? Bookmark our handy infographic:

Looking to add a little green in your life? We've got the ultimate guide to caring for indoor plants! Head to 1stlake.com to learn about the best types of indoor plants, plus tips for caring for them.

Picked Your Houseplant? Start Planting!

Now that you’ve determined the right types of plants for your apartment lifestyle, it’s time to plant them and get them set up in your home.

Pick The Right Type of Pot

Obviously, you’ll want to choose a beautiful pot that matches the rest of your apartment’s décor. But choosing the right type of pot is about more than just how it looks.

All pots should have at least one hole on the bottom. You’ll need to pair your pot with a tray underneath to catch any water. Line the tray with about an inch of aquarium gravel – this will help disperse the water and help it evaporate. You never want a plant to sit in water, because the plant’s roots will rot if they sit in water for too long.

If you are placing your plant on a wooden or painted surface, be sure to use a trivet underneath the tray to avoid condensation that can damage wood and paint.

Sunlight

All photosynthetic organisms need light to live and grow, but some need more than others. Depending on the direction your window faces, you’ll be able to get more or less sunlight.

This light can be measured in what are called foot-candles, with each foot-candle representing the light on a square foot of surface 12 inches from a single candle. A plant requiring “Low” light needs around 50 foot-candles, but “High” light plants require around 200 foot-candles of light to flourish.

When living in an apartment, you’ll want to find plants that grow well in indirect or filtered light conditions if your window faces north or south. Once you’ve picked a plant, make sure you know its sunlight needs to place it accordingly.  If possible, place your plant near a window.

If the sunlight coming through your window is very intense, you may need to position your plant about 12 inches away from the window. You can determine if the window is too hot or too cold by putting your hand there – if you place your hand on the window in the summer, and your hand gets hot quickly, it’s probably too hot for the plant. If the window gets very cold in the winter, move your plant further indoors to keep it warmer.

Rotate your plants periodically so that all of the parts of the plant get some sunlight.

Watering Your Plants

Regular watering is important for plants, but you never want to over-water.

For most plants, you’ll want to water them until you see water emerge from the bottom of the pot. (This is why you should always use pots that have at least one hole in the bottom!)

Make sure that your plant has good drainage, as well, so the roots don’t rot. Make sure to include something underneath the pot to catch any drips and condensation.

Spritzing the leaves with water can be just as important as watering the roots, depending on the type of plant you have.

Large plants in larger pots need to be watered less regularly than small plants in small pots, which dry out more quickly.

Often, tropical plants do well inside, so in the winter, when the weather can be drier, you’ll want to treat your tropical indoor plants to the shower steam in the bathroom every so often.

Too busy to water your plants often? Look for plants that don’t need to be watered regularly, like succulents and cacti.

Have trouble remembering to water your plants regularly? Set a recurring reminder for yourself on your smartphone’s calendar, ensuring that you water your houseplants regularly.

Clean Your Plants

Cleaning your plants might sound silly, but indoors, dust get can get everywhere, and to keep your plants healthy, you’ll want to make sure to keep them clean.

Wipe down their leaves, prune them as needed, and make sure they are dust free. They will look more beautiful and live longer that way.

Keep an eye out for pests, like spider mites, whitefly, scale and mealy bugs.

Pest Control Tips

To keep pesky insects from snacking on, or living in, household plants, try an organic solution before rushing out to buy harmful chemicals.

One way to keep the buggies away is to pack used coffee grounds around the base of a plant, as insects are deterred by the bitter but nutrient-rich waste.

If you’re not a java fan, mix Cayenne pepper and water in a spray bottle and spritz the leaves and stems of houseplants to keep pests away.

Where To Buy Indoor Plants in New Orleans

Of course you can go to the national home improvement chains to pick up plants, but a city like New Orleans also offers plenty of locally-owned options to shop for houseplants of all shapes and sizes. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Perino’s Garden Center

Perino’s Garden Center in Metairie offers a variety of houseplants, not to mention furniture and seasonal decorations.

  • 3100 Veterans
  • Metairie, LA 70002
  • (504)  834-7888

The Plant Gallery

The Plant Gallery, located on Airline Highway, features plenty of indoor plants and home decor.

  • 9401 Airline Highway
  • New Orleans, Louisiana 70118
  • (504) 488-8887

Laughing Buddha Nursery

Laughing Buddha Nursery in Metairie offers a holistic approach to gardening, with organic gardening gear including composted soil they make in-house.

  • 4516 Clearview Pkwy
  • Metairie, LA 70006
  • (504) 887-4336

Have additional tips to share?

Reach out to us on Facebook and share your favorite tips for caring for indoor plants with us!

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