Monday, October 20, 2008

What Makes a Home Green?

I apologize for not posting in so long; I've just been very busy lately and haven't had the time, but I'm back now. Today, I'm talking about what makes a home green? You hear this term all the time now and with global warming and all that, it's important that people become more knowledgeable about taking care of the environment and conserving energy. Here's a quick look at what defines a home as "GREEN."

Government statistics tell us that American houses waste more than $300 billion annually due to inefficient energy use. Both residential and commercial buildings have a huge impact on the environment. In fact, in the U.S. they account for greater than 1/3 of the nation's total energy use, 68 % of electricity consumption, 38 % of carbon dioxide emissions and 12 % of water use. It is important that people start making their homes more green and less wasteful; it's better for both the environment and our wallets.

Here's what you need to make your home green:

1. Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, lighting and appliances
*You should look for products that have earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star program label
*Everything from appliances and lighting to complete homes can be given this label if they met certain requirements
**For a home to qualify, it must 15 percent or greater more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code and its features must be at least 20 to 30 % more efficient than standard homes.

2. New home construction: preserve the natural environment as much as possible, reduce erosion and protect trees, use recyclable and renewable materials, practice waste reduction techniques

3. Current homeowners can do many things to make their home more green:
*Caulk and weather-strip windows
*Replace light bulbs with long-lasting energy-efficient ones
*Insulate their attic
*Install a programmable thermostat
*Use low-emission carpets, stains and paints
*Capture rainwater in holding tanks
*Install solar panels
*Use smart irrigation systems
*Use reclaimed wood on countertops and other furniture

People who want to sell their home and make it more attractive to buyers who want to "Go Green" can get an energy audit performed on their home. The audit will show a home's energy usage and will give recommendations to the homeowner for making their home more environmentally-friendly. This can be a major selling point if the home gets a good score or if the homeowners make the changes to make it more "green."

For more information on making your home more environmentally-friendly, please check out U.S Green Building Council, Energy Star, Home Energy Rating System and the Environmental Protection Agency.

*This information was obtained from the September/October issue of Georgia Realtor magazine.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Perfect Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

We are eating dinner with some friends of ours tonight and I'm bringing the dessert. I decided that a really yummy chocolate chip cookie would be perfect. In the past I've sometimes had trouble with my cookies turning out too flat, which I've determined was probably from letting the butter sit out too long before starting or from beating the batter too much. I decided to be very careful when making these...and I'm thrilled with the way they turned out! The are soft and chewy and taste absolutely scrumptious!

I love making cookies because they are easy to do, don't require too much time and they yield so many! This recipe made 3 1/2 dozen! Plenty of cookies for everyone!

Here's the recipe, I got it from The Great American Cookie Cookbook:


1 C. (2 sticks) butter (no substitutes)
1/4 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. light corn syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. Hershey's cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pckg. (10-12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degree F
2. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Add corn syrup, egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and almost set. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Cookies will be softer on the second day.

*I found that the perfect time for my cookies was 7 minutes and 25 seconds, but I have a gas oven and it tends to cook fast. So, you'll want to play around with your oven to find the perfect time for you.

Try these; they really are delicious!! Enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Weekend Community Events around Gwinnett

Okay ya'll, I thought I would share some upcoming events around Gwinnett county this weekend...there are some pretty interesting things coming up, here goes:

TODAY (Friday):

*Live and Silent Auction sponsored by the Peachtree Ridge Foundation:

7 p.m. at Magnolia Hall, 2040 Sever Rd in Lawrenceville.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 678.957.3166

*Blood Drive hosted by LifeSouth Country in the bloodmobile:

11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Stevi B's at 1950 Buford Mill Dr in Buford

Please note: donors must be at least 110 pounds, have photo ID and be at least 17 years old

You can call 770.538.0500 for more information


*"FunFest for Kids" hosted by the Ladies and Men Gwinnett Shrine Clubs:

Charity event including pony rides, food, silent auction

Proceeds raise money for children with burn injuries and other orthopedic needs

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dacula Ingles, located off Georgia Highway 369

*Fourth Annual Hot Tamale Chilli Cook-Off hosted by Grayson Cluster Schools Foundation and the PTA:

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Grayson City Park

You can obtain further information by calling 678.524.9927 or visiting

*Fourth Annual Rice Festival:

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Carter Oaks Shopping Center on 5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd in Norcross

For more information, please call 770.270.0663

*17th Year of Voice in the Wind--American Indian Festival:

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Held at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds

Admission: 13 years and older--$7, chidren ages 5 to 12--$4, and those under 5 are free

Further information can be obtained from or call 770.791.0066


*Come Alive Ministries of Barrow County:

Participating in National Life Chain's one hour of prayer

1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 38 S. Broad St in Winder

Please call 770.867.3000 for more information

Okay so that's what's going on in Gwinnett county this weekend...a lot of festivals and outdoors activities--great for the kids! I hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend.

And don't forget about the tax-free weekend on energy and water-efficient products...if you missed my post from yesterday, feel free to check it out now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Georgia Tax-Free Weekend on Energy-Efficient Products

This weekend, beginning today (Thursday, October 2) through Sunday, October 5th is a tax-free holiday for Georgia when you purchase water-efficient and energy-efficient products. Consumers can buy either WaterSense products, such as toilests, faucets and showerheads, or Energy Star products such as fluorescent light bulbs, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, refrigerators, washing machines and programmable thermostats, completely tax-free. The only conditions to obtain the products without tax are they must not be for commercial use or greater than $1,500.

The WaterSense certification is given to products that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standards for water efficiency and performance criteria. On average, products with the WaterSense label use 20 percent less water than products without the label. The Energy Star program created by the U.S. Department of Energy is similar.

Citizens of Gwinnett county who live in single-family residences built prior to 1993 can save even more money when they replace their toilets with more energy-efficient ones, because Gwinnett is participating in the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District's residential toilet rebate program. Under this program, consumers who fit the qualifications of the program can earn a $100 credit on their water bill.

I believe that people in Georgia should take this opportunity to "Go Green" by changing out some of your less energy and water-efficient appliances and toilets in your home. Now's the time to buy all those light bulbs that last so long and save so much energy. It's important that we start taking care of our environment and conserving both energy and water; here's a perfect chance to save some money while we do it. I'm "Going Green," are YOU?

*The information in this post came from the October 1st Gwinnett Daily Post. If you would like further information on this tax-free weekend, please visit

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bring on the Fall Weather...

Here I am at the kitchen table with my cup of coffee, enjoying the nice breeze coming through the open windows. I think fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year and I'm anxiously awaiting the change of the leaves and the crisp, cool weather...always a wonderful change from the ridiculous Georgia heat! This summer has been one of the hottest yet, I do believe.

It is days like today though that I enjoy and appreciate the beautiful earth that God made for us. The clear blue skies and the trees slowly changing to magnificent shades of yellow, orange and is simply stunning. I find it so relaxing and calming to hear the rustling leaves as the wind blows through. I hope it is as beautiful a day for you, wherever you are, as it is for me; now I guess I really should get back to work though...

I will leave you with the following and also a few pictures I've taken recently:

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." Psalm 9: 1-2

One of two very large oaks we have on our property.
My hydrangeas that I love so much...they were blue at the beginning of the season, anyone know why they turned green?

Beautiful dahlia...isn't the color so unique and wonderful??