White House Christmas
After weeks of planning (and a little bit of panicking), the Natural Home team finishes decorating the Blair House and State Department for the holidays with a selection of fair trade, artisan-made items that benefit our planet and its citizens.
Natural Home has been invited to decorate rooms in Blair House, the President’s guest house that hardly anyone ever gets to see, and the U.S. State Department’s Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, DC in the first-ever Magazine Holiday Design Showcase, a partnership between the U.S. State Department and the Magazine Publishers of America.
Two years ago, the Natural Home & Garden staff had the honor of decorating President Obama's guest house with sustainable and handmade holiday decor. Try some of these "president-approved" projects yourself!
President Obama plans to help earn the White House LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
These homemade orange ornaments will add bright colors and a citrusy aroma to your tree this year.
Natural Home intern Carly Halvorson shares her recent research on the Monolithic Dome Institute website about monolithic dome houses.
Wabi-sabi is never slobby, but we can allow ourselves to stop trying so hard and just appreciate our warm bed at the end of the day—whether it’s made or not.
Last October, President Obama filled us all with hope when he announced he would install solar panels on the White House by this spring. The panels haven't materialized, and the White House isn't talking. Call Obama and find out what's up.
Summer's here, but the solar panels that President Obama promised to install on the White House this spring aren't. Today the administration announced that it's still working out the details. We'll just have to wait.
The Obamas plant an organic vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House.
The Obama administration announced yesterday that it will place solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the White House roof by spring 2011.
Michelle Obama's new organic White House vegetable garden is the first of its kind since World War II. I spoke with a friend who was at the scene as students from a local elementary school broke ground Friday, which was the first day of spring. Find out what the new "First Herbs of the United States" are.
Discover magazine (one of my non Herb Companion faves) features a magnified (by a scanning electron microscope) image of a strawberry (Fragaria spp.). Check it out it's really cool. The make up of the fruit is clearly visible, with the seeds looking like boulders
These tips mined from the second issue of Mother Earth News, published in 1970, will make your housekeeping more enjoyable and efficient. Mother has always known best.
Weigh in as Natural Home collects reader and contributor suggestions on "greening the White House."
Natural Home and the Obamas are in sync on fun, waste-reducing holiday projects. Find out more about decoupage ornaments.
Decorate your home with zero-waste decor that can be reused, recycled or consumed—instead of toxic landfill trash. The Christmas decorations of Colonial Williamsburg offer inspiration for using natural decor.
Building a tiny home from an old camper trailer brought a sense of community when family and friends pitched in to help.
Instead of buying store-bought and possibly toxic cleaning agents, give these nontoxic homemade cleaners a try.
Many air fresheners can emit toxic chemicals; however, potted chrysanthemums are natural and safe deodorizers.
Adding houseplants to your home’s décor is an easy, affordable way to enliven your home.
A University of Georgia study finds that common houseplants can remove toxins and improve indoor air quality.
Saturday morning brings adventures with an overflowing dishwasher, pesky puppy and pretty sunflowers.
Throughout human history people have used herbs to protect themselves against lightning strikes.
Grow your own beautiful houseplants from citrus seeds. Growing citrus trees from seed is easy, fun and, best of all, free.
Minimize your post-Christmas impact. Earth911 offers great tips for keeping your Christmas tree out of the landfill.
In an effort to help consumers find safer products, the Environmental Working Group has created an online guide that rates more than 2,000 household cleaners for safety of ingredients and disclosure of contents.
Matt Hirschfeld tells you what to do with all that holiday waste to make the season greener.
Natural Home editorial intern Susan Melgren weighs the pros and cons of live and artificial trees in her quest for an eco-friendly Christmas tree.
Instead of using synthetic scents, try this simple natural trick to make your home smell delicious.
Simplify the Christmas season with these 12 tips for gifts, gift wrapping and decor—as well as steps you can take to make your celebration light on the planet.
Natural Home editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence shares what she's learned about the challenges of mass producing eco-friendly products that meet our own tough criteria.
‘Tis the season to shop for green gifts—here’s how.
Planning a party? Let wabi-sabi’s influence lead to a casual, comfortable gathering.
Guest blogger Eileen Troemel sets out to find easy-to-grow indoor plants that she can successfully keep alive with a black thumb.
A Life Cycle Assessment from Ellipsos, a sustainable development strategy firm, suggests that natural Christmas trees generate fewer greenhouse gases per year than artificial trees.
WorldofGood.com by eBay sells ethically sourced and eco-friendly products.
The average American family spends around $18,000 each year on goods and services. This holiday season, these are the questions we’re asking before we plunk down our own hard-earned dollars.
Get creative with your Christmas tree! Save the forests, skip the plastic greenery and really go green this holiday with a different kind of tree.
Thinking about finishing up your holiday shopping online? Make sure to check out Earth Moment, a portal that will offset the carbon emitted by your purchase—at no extra cost. Also check out these websites—some of our staff favorites.
This easy-to-make edible centerpiece, courtesy of Driscoll's, will keep your footprint light and your home less cluttered with holiday decorations this holiday season.
After working four jobs to make payments on their larger home, Debra and Gary downsized—to 320 square feet. The family lacks for nothing, and guests are always welcome. 'I've got everything I need,' Debra says. And their $20K house is paid off.
After a tree crushed the back of their shotgun home (while 40 Hurricane Katrina refugees were camped out there), a Baton Rouge couple rebuilt a green, energy-efficient house that encourages connection with their neighborhood's 'front porch' culture.
Used for everything from curing headaches, sores and snakebites to attaining mystical foresight and thwarting bad spirits, white sage is an extremely culturally valuable herb.
Do you dream about living in a tiny, super-efficient home but worry about living with less space? This list of reasons for living could help push you off the fence. Dream big, live small!
A proper tea house is a luxury I believe in.
Take a peek inside our office and watch our efforts in decorating. This year's theme?—Feliz Navidad!
Looking for eight ways to jump start your holidays? Try these tips and treats from The Herb Companion.
Matts talks about how he will be eco-friendly this holiday season by using green wrapping paper that won't cost him a cent.
Dedicated to the Midwest’s winters, guest blogger Stephanie Nickolson offers practical tips and ideas for decorating interiors in white.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller details plans for a National Passive House Alliance in the U.S. and shares the activities of current regional Passive House alliances.
The stirrings of spring may make you want to buy every plant or seed in sight, but a little planning can help you create a garden you'll truly enjoy.
Keep your family healthy by paying close attention to your home's 10 germiest places.
The White Hawk Project aims to save an endangered stretch of primary virgin rainforest on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula.
As snow and cold temperatures move in to stay, arm yourself with this creamy white chili recipe to warm you up.
An affordable prototype home helps revitalize a blighted Syracuse, New York, neighborhood--and could be the city home of the future.
The PopUp House from House Port, Inc. embodies the definition of model green home as it utilizes sustainable methods, not only within the structure of the dwelling, but also within the interior of the home.
Citing breaches of contract and “good faith,” Dr. Wolfgang Feist of the Passivhaus Institut has announced that it is cutting ties with the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), no longer allowing the branch to certify Passive Houses in the U.S.
The first Tiny House Conference will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 16.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company founder Jay Shafer teaches Americans how to build efficient homes of less than 1,000 square feet.
At only 156 square feet and just 4 feet across at its widest, the Keret House in Warsaw, Poland, might just be the skinniest tiny house ever.
Made from bamboo, wood and grass seed, this tiny house could be our future.
Small house builder Rich Daniels seeks to cluster 100 homes under 400 square feet in a former sawmill.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes how and why the Passive House conference inspired her to change the NewenHouse kit home's design to meet Passive House certification.
Designed as a shotgun-style house for natural ventilation, the Alligator House was designed and built as part of the rehousing effort in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller pinpoints areas where unconditioned air could be leaking into or out of homes.
In her new book, Micro-Green: Tiny Houses in Nature, Mimi Zeiger profiles 36 creative, innovative small dwellings that represent a 'new, rich architectural typology.' Here are eight great examples to start fueling your fantasies.
Christmas may have passed, but the remnants of the holiday festivities remain—piles of wrapping paper, boxes, and ribbons tangled strands of lights trees losing needles all over the living room floor. Fortunately, cleaning up after another holiday season is easier—and more
You don't need a Christmas tree to decorate for the holidays. Here are three herb-friendly and space-saving alternatives to make your home look classic.
Give your palate a break from heavy holiday food with this Crunchy Wild Rice Salad Recipe with Citrus Dressing from guest blogger Stephanie Meyer.
Use scraps and other 'trash' to wrap gifts—and forego the wasteful virgin paper.
Like herbs, evergreen trees have a powerful fragrance, some even with medicinal properties, and with a few simple steps, you can find the perfect tree to keep safe from fire and fresh throughout the holidays.
If your holiday’s on a budget, give a gourmet holiday gift like biscotti.
Guest blogger Jaci Kennison takes time out this holiday season to honor and appreciate the planet.
DIY gifts are an inexpensive way to give your loved ones personalized gifts this Christmas. Get started with these easy DIY gift ideas.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller offers an introduction to the Passive House standard, including what makes Passive Houses energy-efficient and how they differ from passive solar homes.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller offers solutions to thermal bridging.
Follow along as architect Mark Miller takes his energy-efficient design skills to the next level with the Passive House standard.
The American Institute of Architects' most recent housing trends survey shows housing sizes inching back up again after the first declines in decades. Will people still want smaller houses in better economic times?
Orchids are some of the most beautiful flowers—they're safe around house pets, they come in a multitude of colors and shapes and ... they're edible?! Read more.
Ryan Mitchell, founder of TheTinyLife.com, is saving up to pay cash for a 130-square-foot home on wheels in North Carolina. He’s seeking perspective, clarity—and a girlfriend who gets it.
Diana and Tony Varnes are the happiest they’ve ever been, and they attribute their well being to living in a small home. They have more time for reading, talking and enjoying the outdoors—and their relationship is better than ever.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller continues his introduction to the Passive House standard.
While many indications point to house size shrinking in America, National Public Radio reports that the McMansion is far from dead.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse Here Sonya gets ready for a busy week of subcontractors for the NewenHouse kit home. The interior of the home is nearing completion!
Salt glaze pottery, primitive colonial furnishings and pewter bring wabi-sabi into your home—while honoring our American traditions.
Scientists in Russia have brought a narrow-leafed white campion to life from 30,000-year-old tissue.
Learn how to make a tea for pain or menstrual cramps using white willow bark.
With temperatures heating up, the one thing most people forget to consider is their skin. Rather than buying expensive, name-brand products full of artificial and synthetic chemicals, treat your skin with these five healing herbs.
White sage is a large herbaceous perennial shrub native. It attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and offers many health benefits. Then find natural headache relief with our homemade salve.
Discover the tantalizing and aromatic flavors of teas from around the world with some of our guest blogger's favorite blends.
Did you know that plants have personalities? Discover the personality of the vervain plant and how it can help you.
With just three ingredients and two simple steps, you can clear away germs and freshen your home's air to welcome spring.
Standing true to its motto, “Free yourself of harmful chemicals,” Onesta Hair Care is a promising new natural shampoo and hair care line.
We think that we know our herbs, and exactly what they do. However, there are also those herbs with a mysterious past. Here are five of the weirdest herbs we’ve found that might be hiding in a garden near you.
Uncover the ancient history of the vervain plant, a well-respected herb infamous for its medicinal uses all over the world.
Jessica found some great finds at an antique mall and estate auction.
Don't let the fun of football season leave you fatter! Try these low-fat calories are your next tailgate instead.
A psychology study at the University of British Columbia found that looking at sick people can trigger our bodies to step up their immune defenses by releasing infection-fighting substances.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse tests the performance of her new Passive House by not turning on the heat—and enthusiastically reports that you can comfortably live furnace-free in Wisconsin in the winter.
The NewenHouse kit home has officially received Passive House certification! The Passive House is also the highest-rated Energy Star home in the state of Wisconsin.
Lemon Verbena Lady finally makes a holiday-inspired craft—dried herb wreaths—from one of her favorite Christmas books. It repurposes your old potpourri into charming mini wreaths for gift giving or decorating. Part two will show you how to make a mini spice wreath.
Lemon Verbena Lady finishes her other holiday-inspired craft, mini spice wreaths. This DIY project is a perfect way to use up those extra holiday spices you may have in your pantry. This project is quick, easy and will fill your house with the aroma of holiday classics.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller shares discusses the lack of energy-efficient, insulated doors in the U.S.
Architect and Passive House consultant Mark Miller explores high-performance windows, a key element in reaching the Passive House standard.
The Lemon Verbena Lady talks about some of her favorite sights in Pittsburgh during Christmas, as well as some of her favorite herbs, books and crafts for the holidays.
Natural Home assistant editor Kim Wallace bakes vegan, gluten-free shortbread cookies for Santa Claus
Honor your traditions in a more sustainable way—while still pleasing your children—with these six eco-friendly gift ideas for kids.
Former editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence shares the lessons of holiday simplicity she learned as a young, busy, working mom.
Learn about the history of mistletoe and find out how to grow this Christmas plant.
Protect children's health and the environment by choosing responsibly made toys that are free of lead and other toxins.
Get into the holiday spirit by learning how to grow your own holly plants and discover the many uses of this seasonal treasure.
This winter wreath welcomes visitors and wafts a wonderful scent
Welcome guests to your home with a homemade wreath. For inspiration, check out these DIY Christmas wreath crafts, found on Pinterest.
Fill your tree with homemade Christmas ornaments this year. Check out these Christmas ornament crafts, found on Pinterest!
Wrap your holiday gifts with these gift-wrapping ideas that reuse materials from around the house.
Keep your home healthy and aromatic for the holidays!
Give your living space the smell of Christmas with these fragrant, inexpensive holiday decor ideas and disguise your artificial Christmas tree with homemade pine cone decorations.
If you are shopping for the holidays, consider dropping off a box of donations too. Recycling goods to be re-sold is just as important as recycling them into new materials.
Organic spelt flour makes for a simple and healthier replacement for white flours in many recipes.
Personalize your gift giving with a unique herb garden gift. While this time of year conjures images of poinsettias that fade and collect dust long before the holiday festivities are done, a customized herb kit is a meaningful gift that will provide fresh herbs and provide naturally lush décor for many months afterward.
Suffering from the pain of swimmer’s ear? Try one of these natural home remedies to treat your case of swimmer’s ear.
Clear your home's air naturally for better health and well being.
Mike Benziger, founder and winemaker at Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, California, answers five questions about his 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County.
Although we should limit our sugar consumption for health, coconut sugar is a healthier alternative to refined white sugar.
In Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage, high-performance houses experience much more comfortable temperatures with little electric output.
See how one blogger made the decision to build a tiny house and her plans to build it herself.
Sonya Newenhouse describes the roof truss system and air-tight barrier between the second floor and the roof for the Passive House NewenHouse Kit Home.
Refresh the exterior of your house with a coat of YOLO Colorhouse paint inspired by the landscape around it.
Guest blogger Rebecca Selove searches for the most energy-efficient lighting for her sustainable Tennessee farmhouse that she is building to LEED Platinum standards.
Sayra and Dominic live with their 5-year-old daughter in a charming 550-square-foot home in rural Idaho. There are challenges, but they've found that less really is more. 'It's like living in a fun clubhouse,' Sayra says.
The American Institute of Architect’s Home Design Trends Survey confirmed what Natural Home predicted in January—Americans are moving to smaller homes.
Sonya Newenhouse describes how she uses the southern-facing 17-inch-deep windowsills of her Passive House-certified home to grow seedlings.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes how she and her team insulated under the slab of the NewenHouse prototype home and the importance of air sealing to achieve Passive House certification.
Swamp Hut is a complex of four 8-by-12-foot huts surrounding a deck with a fireplace. This an off-the-grid, light-on-the-land summer getaway could easily be replicated in your favorite vacation spot.
Green Builder Media’s Vision and ReVision Houses highlight energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, indoor air quality and great new green materials.
Perched atop a cliff overlooking Montana’s Flathead Lake, this 830-square-foot off-grid cabin steps lightly on its site so as not to disturb osprey nesting in the surrounding forest.
This tiny kit home—less than 90 square feet—is energy-independent and so well-designed that you'd never miss the space.
Managing editor Jessica Kellner discussed her early house hunting experience and her hopes to do green remodeling.
This 433-square-foot floating home on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, feels spacious and airy on the inside.
When Steve Sikora and Lynette Erickson-Sikora restored Frank Lloyd Wright's first small, affordable home, they discovered how green the iconic architect really was.
For the first time, acclaimed Not So Big House author and architect brings quality-over-quality design to a residential development.
The Herb Society of America hosted an open house to celebrate its newly constructed headquarters in Kirkland, Ohio. Check out the photos.
The Herb Society of America (HSA) was invited by Lake Metroparks Farmpark to decorate a Christmas tree in their main lobby. Learn how they decorated the tree.
Make the holidays a little easier (and more natural) with these 10 gift and decorating ideas.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes the super-insulated, sustainable and small NewenHouse kit home she's planning to bring to market in 2012. The prototype, being built in Viroqua Wisconsin, is striving for LEED Platnium and Passive House certifications.
Matt and Kelly Grocoff keep cool in Michigan by taking advantage of their 110-year-old home's natural ventilation strategies. It's as easy as opening a couple of strategically placed windows.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes the framing process and how she finds opportunities for borrowed light in the inner walls of the NewenHouse kit home.
Here Sonya Newenhouse describes how she uses her southern facing 17 inch deep window sills to grow seedlings. She also notes that their electrical bill for February in the furnace free home was only $11 -- $8 of which was service fees.
Here Sonya describes moving into the the NewenHouse and conducting the final duct blaster test (reaching an amazing score of .51 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals)and balancing the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation Unit).
Green is Universal and Etsy's The Art of Reuse Contest is a gold mine for DIY home project ideas. My favorite pays homage to Audrey Hepburn's ahead-of-its-time sofa made from an old clawfoot bathtub in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Lisa Lillien, aka Hungry Girl, shares a recipe for Teriyaki Tofu Kebabs, perfect for a neighborhood block party or backyard cookout.
Sonya Newenhouse describes how she and her team insulated the perimeter of her model Passive House slab and installed an EPS foam frost skirt around the slab for cold climate construction.
Natural Home editorial intern Kristin Standley takes a look at the Marrakesh House, the new sustainable home of filmmaker Chris Paine.
The original weeHouse prefabricated kit house is 435 efficiently designed square feet and comes with everything you need to live well. Need more space? You can snap together two or more of the modules to satisfy your needs.
Sonya Newenhouse discusses some of the issues with synthetic gypsum drywall and documents the steps she will take to avoid electromagnetic fields in her new house.
As Passive House Institute standards up the ante, USA Today’s "Best Green Homes of 2010" list reflects Americans’ desire for affordability, efficiency and style.
This 275-square-foot cabin on the shores of Lake Simcoe in Ontario provides its owners with a comfortable vantage point for watching sunsets and enjoying nature.
Simone Swan built her off-the-grid domed and vaulted home in Presidio, Texas, as a model of how financially and thermally efficient adobe can be. For $50 a square foot, she built a masterpiece. She says you can, too.
Innermost House, a 144-square-foot off-grid cabin in Northern California, provides a retreat for Michael Anthony and Diana Lorence to pursue simple living.
Built from a recycled shipping container, the 160-square-foot Surfshack uses folding, moveable panels and smart design to fit all the creature comforts of home into a durable, weather-proof frame, creating a home-away-from-home on the Washington coast for an avid surfer.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes moving into the first NewenHouse and conducting the final duct blaster test and balancing the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation Unit).
Apartment Therapy's annual Small Cool contest, featuring homes of less than 1,000 square feet, is a gold mine for smart ideas that make tiny spaces elegant, graceful and liveable.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes building the 12-inch remote Larsen Truss wall, which, combined with the OSB air barrier, will create a 16-inch-thick insulated wall system for the NewenHouse kit home.
The miniHome by Sustain Design Studio puts a modern twist on traditional trailer design.
Spice up your holiday recipes with the warm spicy notes of Bhakti Chai concentrate in classic pecan pie, cozy egg nog and festive spiced nuts.
Inflammation and the loss of cartilage cause severe pain in arthritis sufferers. Reduce inflammation and relieve arthritis pain with these eight natural and herbal remedies.
Ken Ruck wants to build a fully self-sustaining earthship on New York's Lower East Side.
Guest blogger Sonya Newenhouse describes the HRV (heat recovery ventilation) unit and insulation installation for the NewenHouse Kit Home.
In the summer of 2008, one guest blogger started reading Rosemary’s Sampler, an herb blog by two of her two favorite sisters from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and was inspired to start writing her own blog: Lemon Verbena Lady’s Herb Garden.
An amazing, off-the-grid Welsh hobbit house was built in less than four months and for less than $5,000.
Designed to be a comfortable, modern home with a minimum impact on the environment, the Cube generates its own energy and proves that you don't have to sacrifice creature comforts to live in a small space.
Take a trip across the pond with the Lemon Verbena Lady to discover a 300-year-old garden.
In need of an earth-conscious gift that won’t put a dent in your wallet? Check out these seven eco-friendly gifts—all under $40.
Need a last-minute gift? Pick up one of these eco-friendly gifts for everyone on your list.
Wabi-sabi has infused Western design for centuries—though its advocates rarely knew it. It’s in the plain, efficient homes built by the Shakers, the unsentimental Arts and Crafts style, Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie houses and midcentury furniture.
Guest blogger Bill Hutchins outlines ways to build green while keeping a light footprint on the earth.
This holiday season, avoid the shopping frenzy and make your own gifts straight from the heart. These homemade holiday gift ideas are fun and should cover nearly everyone on your shopping list.
A wabi-sabi home just feels right, without pretense or compromise—like our grandmothers’ Depression era homes, where things were patched and mended but scrubbed and clean, handmade or chosen and paid for with care.