Nantucket Daffodil Festival Week

April 29-May 1, 2011

After the long winter months, Nantucket officially springs back to life with the annual Daffodil Festival, when three million daffodils burst into bloom and decorate the island with waves of yellow blossoms. Originated by the late Jean MacAusland, a longtime summer resident of Nantucket and former publisher of Gourmet Magazine, the first daffodils were planted in 1974. That was the year she convinced the Nantucket Garden Club to sponsor a daffodil show; the original goal was to plant one million bulbs.


Thousands of daffodils were added each year, and in the early 1980’s Mrs. MacAusland ordered eight tons of bulbs from the Netherlands. Today, roadways, gardens and meadows all boast blossoms of white, orange, and yellow, in an explosion of color.


Highlights are the Antique Car Parade on Saturday, April 30, with over 100 decorated antique cars, the Children’s Parade and the Tailgate Picnic. This is the perfect time to plan a weekend on Nantucket. Come join me!

This is a photo of my husband, Frank, and dog, GG, enjoying the parade!

Breathing Easier with Austin Air Filters

Living close to fresh breezes off the ocean, both Long Island Sound and Nantucket Harbor, means I regularly enjoy brisk, clean air when I am outside. As a designer and proponent of healthy living, I want all of us to enjoy the same feeling of pristine air inside our homes as well.

A product that I use in my own home, and recommend to friends and clients, is the HealthMate+ from Austin Air Filters, Inc. This filter is enhanced to offer the ultimate in air filtration, making it an ideal choice for those with chemical sensitivities. A medical filter uses solid activated carbon and zeolite impregnated with potassium iodide to remove harmful gases, in addition to dust, pollen and pet dander.


Austin Air Systems, Limited was recently chosen by the National Sleep Foundation to make a new filter specifically for the bedroom, to be used while sleeping. The Bedroom Machine removes particulates that can be seen by the naked eye, like dust and pet dander, along with molds, spores, pollen and chemical gases such as sulfuric acid and ammonia.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America rates indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental health risks, which means that I recommend doing more than just opening the windows from time to time. Indoor air can harbor a number of irritants, from smoke particulates to pollen. Other chemicals such as formaldehyde from particleboard cabinets and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from paints and finishes can also be present.

A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that using High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for just two days removed 60 percent of air particulates and improved cardiovascular health in non-smoking adults. To be sold as a HEPA air filtration system, the air filter must remove 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns.

Five more things you can do to ensure clean indoor air:

• Turn on your fan while cooking, especially with gas stoves.
• Use green cleaning methods instead of heavy chemicals for housekeeping.
• Choose “green” dry cleaners that use only non-toxic cleaning products.
• Don’t wear shoes indoors. Shoes track in pesticides and chemicals, which then become trapped in carpet fibers.
• Use low or no-VOC paints and finishes in your home.

Take a deep breath and resolve to do at least one, if not more, of these suggestions. Your heart and lungs will thank you.

Spring Cleaning: Be Both Clean and Green



Which of these products would you like to add to your home for a spring time fresh feel and smell?

• Alkylphenol ethoxylates
• Ammonia
• Chlorine
• Lye
• Formaldehyde and petroleum solvents
• Synthetic fragrance
The ingredients listed above are in most conventional cleaning products, and rather than cleaning your home, actually pollute it with a toxic mixture of petrochemicals. Synthetic fragrances are added to mask the odor of chemical vapors, implicated in headaches, dizziness, skin rashes and respiratory problems.

It’s easy, and healthier, to choose products that are readily available on your pantry shelves or at your grocery store to get your home sparkling clean and ready for spring.

Here’s what you’ll need:
• Baking soda
• Borax
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Kosher salt
• Lemon
• Olive oil or jojoba oil
• Rubbing alcohol
• Vodka
• White vinegar

This list not only sounds better; these items actually clean your home and leave no chemical residue behind. Here’s a guide to cleaning even the toughest messes in a healthy way:

Kitchen: Try baking soda sprinkled on counters, tabletops, sinks, refrigerators and cutting boards; use a damp sponge to scrub lightly and rinse. If you need more abrasive action, add a little kosher salt. For stains and greasy spills, you can add lemon juice or vinegar. Vinegar kills most mold, bacteria and germs, and lemon juice has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, plus it is a natural bleach.

For marble, granite or stone countertops, use rubbing alcohol or vodka instead of vinegar for cleaning.

Your oven can be cleaned with a paste of baking soda and water; apply it with a damp sponge and let it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe clean. For greasy ovens, you can add ½ cup washing soda (sodium carbonate) and white vinegar.

Freshen the air in the kitchen by simmering a potpourri of cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stovetop.

Bathroom: Baking soda and vinegar will clean your sinks, showers, tubs and tile. If you like, add a little lemon juice for a fresh scent.

To clean grout, mix a half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Spray it on the grout, let it sit for one hour, then rinse.

To clean the toilet, use one quarter cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar. Pour it into the bowl, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub and flush.

Wood Furniture Cleaner: Make a natural furniture polish from ¼ cup white vinegar with 1 tablespoon of olive or jojoba oil. Or you can mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.

Glass Cleaner: Mix ¼ cup white vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 2 cups water. You can add 3 to 4 drops of liquid soap, but it’s not necessary. Spray on glass and mirrors, and wipe off using old newspapers for a fabulous shine.

Floor Cleaner: Mix ½ cup Borax with 1 gallon hot water. For hardwood floors, try a gentler mix of ¼ cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water. Put it in a recycled spray bottle, then spray on a cotton rag until lightly damp. Use the rag to wipe your floors clean.

Carpet Cleaner: Sprinkle your carpets with baking soda before vacuuming to deodorize; to clean stains, mix equal parts borax or baking soda with salt and white vinegar. Apply the paste to the rug, let dry, then vacuum.

The March/April issue of Natural Home Magazine has a wonderful article with more tips on homemade cleaning supplies and tips for a healthy home.

As an alternative, good commercial products are made by Seventh Generation. Located in Burlington, Vermont, this socially responsible company has been making non-toxic cleaning products for twenty years.

Remember to open the windows and let the fresh breezes flow through the house. Add a good air filtration system, and you’ve made a great start on living in a healthier home!

living room photo courtesy of Erik Rank; daffodil photo courtesy of Stacy Bass