Coco's Blog

Friday, 15 June 2012 12:42

My Sightseeing Summer

Sswimmingchool is officially out for the summer!   I am excited to have a few months of a less structured family schedule and instead enjoy more leisure time with my family.  We will still keep busy over the summer months, but with low key activities on our own timeframe.

My running list of “things to do and places to see” as a family seems to be growing at a fast pace, and this summer it’s my goal to cross some items off the list.  So, what are we doing?  First, my 3 older kids are taking swimming lessons through our park district.  It's time to really focus on getting all of them pool safe, especially after a scary near drowning incident with one of the kids last summer.  They will also be participating in our local library’s summer reading program.  We are fortunate to have a wonderful library less than a mile from our house.  It's a great way to keep them reading and the program is free!

We also renewed our annual family membership to the Santa Barbara Zoo, we love it there!  So much else to do – Griffith Park Observatory, the botanical gardens and perhaps a theme park. We plan on being at the beach a lot too.  We  are lucky - we live only about 20 minutes from many beautiful beaches and I'm hoping that we don't take this for granted this summer.  I was looking through pictures from my sister's trip to visit us last summer and remembered how much fun we had exploring the many awesome sights in Southern California - I would love to do more of the same this summer.  My kids look pretty happy with her, they had a blast!

LA la visitla trip malibu

However, as much as I want my family to see many of the the local sights, I also want to spend a lot of time in our backyard. This will be our 1st summer with one!  This is probably what I am most looking forward to - BBQs with friends, relaxed evenings on the patio, the kids just being kids and all of us enjoying the lazy summer days.  The kids have already begun to enjoy the backyard!

Summer fun summer fun

Of course, we will be out in the sun a lot, so I have finally found a trick for keeping my kids protected from the sun.  I keep sunscreen in the car at all times and in my purse, and its also right buy the entrance to the house. While I have always been good about making sure my kids are practically drenched in suncreen all summer long, my attention to protecting their eyes (and mine) will be a bigger focus this summer.

Aside from encouraging my kids to wear hats when outdoors, I am going to make sure that they all have sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. I am sure that at first I will encounter some reluctance to my new "sunglasses rule," so I will use my husband as an example!  He has been wearing his Transitions Lenses glasses for 2 months and is really enjoying how fast they transition from light to dark, adjusting to the light, indoors and outdoors.   His eccentric frames always receive compliments too!  Most importantly, his glasses block 100 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays – helping to protect his eyes.   I can simply tell the kids "well, see, daddy protects his eyes" when I encounter resistance from the troops!

It's great that Transitions Optical is committed to helping consumers establish healthy eye habits - that's an important lesson that I'm hoping to teach my children. As the Official Sponsor of "Sightseeing campaign" this summer they are working with their optical industry partners to create a national outreach effort to raise awareness around taking care of our eyes with proper eyecare and eyewear.   The campaign is in full swing, traveling to really cool cities.  With the help of local travel bloggers and other travel gurus they develop a list of sights to see in each city, then they ask consumers to vote for the top sights.  My family is on board - to "see the sights" this summer in Southern California, while protecting our eyes today and for the future.

The "Sightseeing Campaign” will be coming to the following cities.

  • Seattle, Washington – this week
  • Chicago, Illinois – July 11 to 15
  • New Orleans, Louisiana – September 20 to 22


For additional information on Transitions Lenses,visit: (in English) or (in Spanish).  You can find them on Facebook and you can also follow on Twitter.

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Transitions Optical. I was provided with a complimentary eye exam and pair of eyeglasses to test for the purpose of this campaign. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 02 June 2012 03:38

A Bailar, Let's Dance "El Paso Positivo"!

Positivity Ambassador BadgeI love that summer is just around corner – and so do my kids.  My 6 and 8 year old girls have a “summer vacation countdown” calendar on our message board!  I think that I love summer so much because having grown up in Chicago, the summer meant a few months of great warmer weather – we could finally play outside!  Now, as a busy mom of 4 small children, the summer means more family time.   A lot of what we do together will involve being physically active – riding bikes, hiking, swimming and we love to dance! That's why I am so excited to announce that I am a 2012 Positivity Ambassador to help promote the "Shape up for Summer" campaign.

One of my favorite ways to encourage good health with my kids is to have “dance parties." All we do is crank up the music (usually en Español) and dance away!  We always follow our little parties by making milk based smoothies.  It’s a little silly, but the kids love this tradition. My girls have gotten more creative too, coming up with thematic dance parties – Irish dance, 50s, and lately anything to classical music.  They are really looking forward to our next dance party where we are learning “El Paso Positivo!” Have you seen people do this fun and catchy dance?   Yes, a little silly, but a great way get your kids and family off the couch and moving – an essential part to staying healthy.  My kids are far more coordinated than I am, so they will probably learn “El Paso Positivo” way before I do! Stay tuned for a future blog, I will make sure to video tape this dance party!

Take a look at some young professionals doing the dance here – too cute!

As a Positivity Ambassador, I am looking forward to blogging about our summer adventures and how we are staying healthy and active,  with the help of milk and our dance moves too.   I have always been a fan of the proteins found in milk that help rebuild muscles, and minerals to help prevent muscle cramps.  Plus, for my active kids it’s such a great alternative to the sugar-high sports drinks! I will also spend some time trying out new milk based recipes to share with my family – and you!

This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 18:56

Eye Didn’t Know That #TransitionsLens

I have always considered myself pretty lucky that I have 20/20 vision.   My husband, however, has horrible vision.  It’s been because of his vision problems that I take my children’s vision health seriously.  I am sure that had his vision problems been diagnosed at an earlier age he would have better vision now and he would have done better in school as a child  (he couldn’t see the blackboard until 5th grade!).  According to Transitions Optical, one in four children have an undiagnosed vision problem that can interfere with the ability to read and learn.  Wow!  There is no doubt that healthy sight is a must for children to make the most of their education.

The good news is that there are some easy tips that we can follow to take good care of our children’s ojitos. Transitions developed the “Eye Didn’t Know That” (“Yo No Sabia Eso”) website for kids in both English and Spanish.  It’s a fun and interactive site that you can explore with your children – the games, downloads and other resources are a great way to teach children (and adults too!) about the importance of taking care of our eyes.

My kids and I had a great time exploring it!  First, we played the Memory Match game.  My kids loved that we could pick the game diificulty level.

Screen shot _ Eye Didn't know that


Next, we explored the Optical Illusions page - they really liked this one!


And we printed these coloring pages too! They each had a fun fact about healthy sight.


My kids obviously loved exploring the site, but so did I. The “Parents” section had practical and easy to implement tips for helping your children maintain healthy vision.   Some things that I learned from the site are:

1. Eat for your eyes! Did you know that our diets impact our vision?  We should all drink eight to ten glasses of water a day to hydrate your body and eyes.  Also, there are tasty and good for you foods that have the excellent health benefits for your eyes. These foods contain vitamins A, C, and E; fatty acids; omega-3 and beta-carotene. Examples of these types of foods include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Grapes (Here's my son enjoying a good "eye" snack!
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Soy
  • Nuts

2. Near vision is not tested in the simple eye screenings offered in schools.  I didn't know this!   It’s near vision that’s especially important for reading books and seeing the computer screen clearly – things that our children do on a daily basis at school!  Therefore, a full eye exam is needed for your children.

3.  Shields away!  When you protect the skin around your eyes—and everywhere else—during the first 18 years of your life, the risk of cancer is likely to be reduced by 50%!  I am going to be better about encouraging my children to wear sunglasses when they are outside to protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, BUT I am also going to buy them wide-brimmed hats and treat suncreen like a "never leave at home" item.

I encourage you to explore the site, so much information is available!  One of the aspects that I was most impressed with was learning about the commitment that Transitions has to educating the community about the importance of healthy vision. First, you can show your support for healthy by simply clicking on this “Submit Your Promise” link and filling out the form.  The best part is that for each new promise submitted in 2012, Transitions will donate a brand new book to mobile literacy initiative Bess the Book Bus!  VidaCoco made their promise, see?


I was pleased to learn that Transitions Optical has joined the American Diabetes Association to help educate consumers nationwide about the link between diabetes and visions health. Hispanic/Latino Americans are at Greater Risk for Being Diagnosed with Diabetes - “This group is 1.7 times more likely to develop diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.”

According to Transitions,  while Diabetes "is mainly diagnosed by a primary healthcare provider like an internist, pediatrician or endocrinologist, an eyecare professional can also detect the ocular signs of the disease.  Diabetic patients may develop certain vision conditions because the eye is one of the principal organs affected by diabetes.  Educating patients about the importance of proper eyecare, like regular comprehensive eye exams and proper protective eyewear, can help prevent the development of vision-threatening complications"

If you are in the NYC area, through its partnership with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), Transitions Optical is offering Free Vision Screenings during the ADA Expo on November 3, 2012 to help educate consumers about proper eyecare and its connection to Diabetes.

- For more information about the company and the Transitions family of adaptive eyewear, visit

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Transitions Optical. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Friday, 06 April 2012 19:36

Transitions Lenses - Seeing Clearly

I recall my mom yelling from the kitchen “no se sienten tan cerca a la tele, se van hacer ciegos!” (don’t sit so close to the TV, you are going to go blind!). I know it was dramatic, but she was simply concerned about our eyes and the damage that we may be causing to our vision. I am not sure if it’s genetics or my mom’s advice, but overall I have great vision. Throughout my teen years and early adulthood, however, I took my 20/20 vision for granted. I had some poor habits – I didn’t wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect my eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and I only had an eye exam once in a blue moon.

Then, I met my husband, Dan, who has serious vision issues.  I began to think about my vision. I was a little concerned that I had waited too long, but since eye damage is cumulative, it’s never to early or late to start getting regular eye exams and taking care of your “ojitos.”  According to a study supported by Transitions Optical in January 2012, less than half of Hispanic adults living in the United States have had an eye exam within the past year. I get it – I was one of them. Now, however, not only does my husband get regular eye exams, but so do I and our kids.

I jokingly told Dan that he “was blind as a bat” when we first started dating. But on a serious note, he remembers when he first got glasses in the 5th grade and he could FINALLY read the chalkboard in school. Prior to getting glasses he missed many assignments and couldn’t even take class notes because he couldn’t see the chalkboard. I asked him why he didn’t just walk up to the chalkboard to write things down. He would have gotten in trouble if he got out of his seat and walked up to the chalkboard so he could read the materials!  Imagine how many children in the country are not learning or are thought to not be good students simply because they need glasses? That is why I was honored to team up with  Transitions® Lenses to promote eye health - as a result of what my husband went through as a child.

LogoSince I still have (luckily!) great vision, my husband got a new pair of Transitions lenses. He had Transitions lenses 12 years ago and said that he would not get them again because they didn’t transition as fast as he wanted. Good news! That problem is now solved! He has been wearing his new transition lenses for a few weeks and he is happy to report that the technology has greatly improved. His new lenses transition from light to dark within seconds. He is so happy with them! In addition to quickly transitioning and blocking 100 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays, his new lenses are helping with his eye fatigue and strain.

His Transitions lenses also solve another problem for him – he only needs ONE pair of glasses. He didn’t like having a pair of regular glasses and a separate pair of sunglasses because he would normally end up loosing the sunglasses! Since prescription sunglasses are expensive to replace he would go for long periods of time without sunglasses (he can be cheap!). Then I had to listen to him complain about how bright the sun was and how he needed to get new sunglasses but how he could only wear prescription sunglasses otherwise he cannot see.  Problem solved!

Red Transition Glasses But we have to talk about the frames Dan choose for his new pair of transition lenses - a bright red thick frame. Seriously? They are pictured to the left. Well, my husband isn’t one to shy away from attention, so I suppose these "loud" frames fit his outgoing personality. His regular prescription glasses are thick rimmed “Buddy Holly” style glasses, which I think look very nice on him, but these were a little unusual.  He swears that they are a conversation starter and he's right - I have witnessed it first hand. Thank you Transitions lenses for solving my husband's sunglasses problems, but Ray Ban why did you need to make bright red frames that my husband would love so much? JK!  On the bright side, we get to tell many people the story behind the red frames and about Transition lenses.  While the frames are a hit or miss with people, everyone likes the Transition lenses!

For more information on how you can "see your best" check out the brochure below, it's a great resource.

Vision brochure

Transitions brochure page


This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Transitions Optical. I was provided with a complimentary eye exam and pair of eyeglasses to test for the purpose of this campaign. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 00:04

Take Good Care of Your Corazon!

Heart for February February American Heart Month. While heart problems have always been associated with men’s health, cardiovascular disease is actually the number #1 killer of women age 18 and above. Mujeres, we have a responsibility to take care of our heart health and make lifestyle decisions that can help us reduce our risk for heart disease. It's so easy to put our loved ones ahead of our own health needs, we tend to do this a lot, but we need to make sure that we take care of ourselves too.

According to the US Dept. of Health, "Heart disease is the #1 killer of Latinas in the United States.  Together with stroke, heart disease accounts for a third of all deaths among Latinas—cancer, the second-leading cause of death, accounts for about a fifth. Latinas also have high rates of some factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease, such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, and physical inactivity."

The good news is that many initiatives have blossomed throughout the month of February to raise awareness and provide information to improve women’s heart health.   With healthy lifestyle choices, women can lower their risk of heart disease by 82%!  To learn more about what you can do to keep your heart healthy check out our full article here.

According to T H E  H E A R T  T R U T H ® F O R  L A T I N A S:  A N  A C T I O N  P L A N, questions to ask your doctor are:

  1. What is my risk for heart disease?
  2. What is my blood pressure? What does it mean for me, and what do I need to do about it?
  3. What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, a type offat found in the blood and food.) What do they mean for me, and what do I need to do about them?
  4. What are my “body mass index” (BMI) and waist measurement? Do they mean that I need to lose weight for my health?
  5. What is my blood sugar level, and does it mean I’m at risk for diabetes? If so, what do I need to do about it?
  6. What other screening tests for heart disease do I need?
  7. What can you do to help me quit smoking?
  8. How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?
  9. What’s a heart healthy eating plan for me?
  10. How can I tell if I may be having a heart attack? If I think I’m having one, what should I do?
Friday, 09 December 2011 14:18

Oatmeal Apple Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes

During the holiday season I make an extra effort to make sure that my family starts their day with a healthy breakfast.   Why? Well, despite our effort to be healthy in our home, treats and goodies during this season tend to end up on our plate. Therefore, I want to make sure that their first meal of the day is super nutritious.

My oatmeal apple spice pancakes have become a favorite recipe in our home during the holidays.  I just love the way the aroma from this super easy and delicious recipe fill up the house on cold mornings.   I make them with a kamut pancake mix because the flour contains a very high amount of whole grain per serving.  It’s a also a great source of fiber and provides such a hearty texture to the recipe. Any instant oatmeal works well, so feel free to get creative! Sometimes I will buy the flavored apple spice oatmeal and it works so well in this recipe. If you don't typically buy apple pie spice, you may substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.

This is what you will need:

1/2 cup of kamut pancake mix

1/2 cup of instant oatmeal

1 teaspoon of apple pie spice

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tablespoon of canola oil

1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce

1 cup of low-fat milk


First, place the dry ingredients (pancake mix, oatmeal, and apple pie spice) together in a bowl and mix well.

Oatmeal apple pancakes


Add milk and applesauce and mix well.

Oatmeal Pancakes


Add they honey and mix well.  It's at this point when I decide whether to add more milk.   The mixture should be pretty close to what your usual pancake mix looks like, but it will look grainer due to the kamut and oatmeal.  For thinner pancakes you may want to add about 1/4 cup of milk.

Oatmeal pancakes


Pour batter onto a lightly oiled griddle or pan, about 1/3 cup per pancake.  Turn when bubbles form on surface and the edges begin to dry. Since the recipe calls for a whole grain and oatmeal, the pancakes will have a heartier, denser texture.

Oatmeal pancakes


Top off these delicious pancakes with just a bit of real maple syrup (real maple syrup lacks the high fructose corn syrup, which is not good for you) and banana slices.....and for added calcium have a glass of cold milk with them - just perfect!

To learn more about milk as part of a healthy lifestyle Link to The Master of the Glass Half Full on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor’s Board and Latina Mom Bloggers.

Home Depot logoI love decorating for the Christmas season, but I like to stick to a budget when making purchases that add holiday cheer to my home and I have my staple stores that I hit every year. I know from experience that they are going to provide me with a large selection of stylish and quality items at affordable prices.  This year I am adding The Home Depot to my list or preferred places to shop for Christmas decorations.  Did you know that The Home Depot carries a wide selection of decorating items for inside and outside the home?

My daughter and I planned our whole afternoon around our Home Depot trip last Sunday.  First, we stopped for hot cocoa, of course!  We hadn’t even gone into the store when I spotted two things that I love – Christmas trees and poinsettas. The live Christmas tree area was set up in the parking lot and it was busy! Since we already had our tree, I opted for two miniature trees instead. These trees are perfect for adding that holiday charm to other rooms in your home or for greeting your holiday guests at your front door. By the way, I was trying to carry the two mini trees, which were a bit heavy considering they were small, to a cart.  I must have looked like I needed help - a very helpful employee brought me a cart, nice!

Home Depot Fiestas Trip PoinsettaRight next to the minature Christmas trees I found my next “must have” item – a potted poinsettia plant. I LOVE the poinsettia, or flor de nochebuena, because they remind me of many Christmas celebrations spent in Mexico.  The flower is everywhere this time of year in Mexico, including my abuelita's courtyard!  Did you know that this popular holiday flower was discovered in Mexico and that the Aztecs prized them for their curative properties and red pigment? Joel Roberto Poinsett (1770-1851),U.S.’s ambassador to Mexico following Mexico´s Independence from Spain, is responsible for introducing this beautiful flower to the US and for making it a symbol of Christmastime! Ok, but I digress with the history lesson…..Seeing the poinsettias in such abundance at the store brought back a wonderful sense of nostalgia from my childhood, so my daughter and I picked this one to decorate our home.

Home Depot Christmas LED Lights Next, we finally made it inside the store and immediatley we were greeted with the tunes of the season over the speakers - gotta love that Christmas music!  And more poinsettias and my other favorite flower - the amaryllis, so pretty!

We made our way past the large assortment of artificial trees in pretty much any size, shape and style you could want.  Then we headed to the lights, but stopped and checked out the ornaments first! Wow, what a selection! The Martha Stewart brand caught my attention right away - you can pull together a very lovely and coordinated look with ornaments from the Woodland, Celebrate and North Pole collections, all very nice but different to suite any taste.

Ok, on to the lights.  The store had a HUGE selection! My daughter and I browsed for about 15 minutes before settling on some super stylish Martha Stewart lighted garland and mini LED lights for my tree. In my quest to keep things "green" around our home,  I made sure that the lights we pruchased this year were LED.  Did you know that LED lights help save on energy costs, last longer than incandescent bulbs, and are cool to the touch when lit (super important for me because I have young kids)?   The Home Depot had a very large sign above the light section outlining the different types of lights they sold, clearly comparing the various kinds, which was very helpful in guiding my purchase.

Home Depot holiday scentsWe found our lights, now on to fill a missing element in our home - holiday scent! That's right, I LOVE the rich aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint and vanilla that fill the air, so I was very excited to find a large selection of holiday scented candles and air fresheners.  My daughter loved the vanilla Glade scents, so we stocked up for season!

Now that we had all that we needed we browsed the store for quite some time.  I didn't know that I could buy stockings, doormats and tree skirts too!   I made a mental note that next year I need to start my decorating shopping at The Home Depot.  Then I spotted the perfect gift for my husband - yay!  He reads my blog, so I won't say what I bought!

I thought my daughter and I would be in and out of the store in about 30 minutes, but the trip took us 1.5 hours -  there was just that much to check out!  I was very impressed with their selection of decorating items, and the prices were definitely budget friendly.

So, would you like to check out The Home Depot too this holiday season too?   Enter our contest below to win a (1) $50 gift card!

GIVEAWAY: (1) $50 Home Depot Gift Card 

  • visit and comment on this post below with something you learned by visiting the site.
  • Follow The Home Depot on Twitter: @HomeDepot
  • Like The Home Depot on Facebook
  • Giveaway is open to US entries only for residents 18 and up.
  • Giveaway ends on Sunday, December 11 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • Winner will be emailed within 6 hours and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
  • Prize is provided by The Home Depot.

This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and The Home Depot. The Home Depot works with bloggers such as myself to conduct product reviews. They do not tell bloggers what to say about their products or how to say it. The Home Depot fundamentally believes that people should be free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. The Home Depot often provides product - free of charge - to bloggers for review as they did for this post. The Home Depot's policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. The Home Depot provided me with a gift card to shop for the holidays and post my experience. All opinions expressed in this article are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Sunday, 04 December 2011 13:09

Benefits of Milk

After my 2nd child was born I decided that my family needed to become healthier.  This meant gradual changes on a few levels.   In addition to trying to go “green” around the house by replacing light bulbs with energy saving ones, recycling and using eco-friendly cleaning products, we made changes to our health, like deciding to exercise more and drink more milk.

The decision to incorporate more milk into our diet came after my husband and I took a series of healthy living classes. The classes were taught by very well-informed nutritionists, so I was very eager to learn from them. They were really a launching pad for my drive to serve more nutritious and healthy meals to my family, but they also inspired me to rework many of my mom's traditional Mexican recipes into healthier ones. One of our classes was focused solely on quick and easy ways to keep our families healthy.  I was really surprised to learn that young children should really only drink milk or water, no juice.   When I learned more about the lack of nutrients and high amounts of sugars found in juice we made the decision to only give our children milk and water.  I have 4 kids under the age of 8, so organic milk is a staple in our house.  We do allow them to have orange juice and the occasional glass of organic 100% fruit juice, but we try to focus on giving them organic milk at each meal and at snack time.

I found it really refreshing that even cutting edge healthy living classes recommended milk for keeping kids healthy.  The funny thing is that one day I mentioned to my mom about the classes I was taking and their recommendation to give kids only milk and water.  She laughed and said it doesn’t take a genius to know this fact!   I am glad that we are such big milk family, especially considering that my kids LOVE it!

Actually, the holidays are a great way to incorporate more milk into your child’s diet.   Think about all the junk that our families eat this time of year. It seems like between Halloween and Christmas so many unhealthy items can easily pile into our homes.   Instead of another serving of something unhealthy on our plate or your child’s plate, serve a glass milk.  Try making milk based holiday recipes that will provide nutritional value to your family, like arroz con leche made with brown rice. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and it's surely to be a favorite!

Milk contains so many more good for you nutrients than another cookie, slice of pie or piece candy can provide.   Milk will give you added calcium, which in turn helps give you strong bones, teeth, nails and hair.   Milk always helps me start day off on the right foot too, giving me that perfect boost of energy and at night a warm glass of milk helps me to relax and wind down from a busy day.  My favorite time to have a glass of milk is actually after a great workout, especially after a long run!  Did you know that after a workout muscle tends to break down and that the protein found in milk is a great tool to help your muscles rebuild after physical activity?  Funny, I actually crave my glass of milk on my runs!

To learn more about the benefits of milk Link to The Master of the Glass Half Full on Facebook and on Twitter.

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor’s Board and Latina Mom Bloggers.


Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:40

Christmas Budget Tips & Planner

We would all love to buy gifts for our family and friends without considering (and sticking to) a budget, but alas, budgeting is a must.

After all, you don’t want to be paying for your Christmas indulgences well into the following year, but you don’t have to be a scrooge either.   Here some easy tips to help you get something special for everyone on your “been good” list this year without going broke!

Monday, 05 December 2011 12:12

Stay Toasty and Save Energy This Winter

Green Goes Simple: Conservation at Home

Stay Toasty and Save Energy This Winter

By Emily Anderson for Green Goes Simple

Winter is my favorite season, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy being cold. I appreciate a well-heated home -- and I’m definitely not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with half of it going towards heating. You can’t stop the cold, but you can stop spending so much on your winter energy bill. Try these small changes that will add up to big savings:

Take Control
A programmable thermostat will earn its money back in no time. Plus, you won’t have to remember to lower the heat to 68 F -- which is where it should be -- when you go to bed each night.

Stop the Draft
Install a door sweep: It’s one of the easiest and most effective changes you can make in your home. Think about putting one on the back door, garage door and attic door -- any door that may be in need of an extra barrier against the cold.

Fix the Drip
A leaky faucet will drain your wallet with every drip. The cost to heat your water can skyrocket when the weather is cold -- so every drop counts. Most often it’s a quick fix with a new washer. Save even more money on your energy bill by installing a faucet aerator. Aerators, or filters, will help control the flow from your faucet and will save you plenty on your water bill.

Let it Shine
Clean windows allow more sunlight -- and natural solar heat -- into your home. Keep blinds or curtains open during the day and closed at night.

Wash the Machine
This is a year-round money saver. Dust and residue build up over time inside your washing machine, so monthly cleanings will keep it running efficiently. Your energy bill will be lower -- and your clothes will be cleaner .

Heating Ducts
Even the smallest crack in a heating duct will cost you on your energy bill each month. Some utility companies offer a free energy audit, during which a pro helps you to find the leaks. If your company doesn’t give you that option, it may still be worth it to pay for the same service in order to find those sneaky energy drainers.

Clean the Furnace
The air filters in your furnace should be cleaned at least once a month to keep it working efficiently. All you have to do is wipe them with a fresh dryer sheet. You should also replace filters a few times a year.

Enjoy the Great Indoors
Take care of yourself! Blustery winter weather can increase your chances of catching a cold. Eating right, exercising and finding time to relax in the warmth of your home are all great ways to keep the sniffles away. After all, making eco-wise choices shouldn’t just be good for the environment -- it should be good for you too.

Find more helpful information at and the Energy Savers Blog

Photo Credit:

Emily Anderson is the author of Eco-chic Home, Eco-chic Weddings and When Changing a Lightbulb Just Isn’t Enough. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, The New York Times and her blog, Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple.

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