Julie Starr

Smith Bulb Show in Full Swing!

Cold temperatures, mounds of snow and ice got you down? Head over to Smith College for the remaining 9 days of the Smith and Mount Holyoke College Spring bulb show. The variety of flowers, array of colors and floral scents, and the recently added corresponding art installation should help lift your spirits and remind you that spring and summer are around the corner! Winter can be tough in the Pioneer Valley. Northampton residents and visitors look forward to this annual event as winter draws to a close.

Get Growing: Inside the bulb shows

For the Gazette 
Published: 3/1/2019 2:04:02 PM

Every year in late winter, when we’re all desperate for the sights and smells of springtime, the botanic gardens of Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges bring us their fabulous annual spring bulb shows. This year’s shows will run from March 2 through 17, promising, as always, to delight visitors from all over New England. 

At Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory and Mount Holyoke’s Talcott Greenhouse, staff members and students have been busy for months preparing the stunning arrays of crocuses, hyacinths, narcissi, irises, lilies, tulips and more that will come into their own during the first two weeks of March. A question that many visitors ask is: how do you make sure that everything is ready to bloom at the right time? 

Over the many years that the colleges have been putting on the shows, they have refined the technique of synchronized blooming. To prepare for the annual bulb shows, students at both colleges pot thousands of bulbs and put them in cold storage to simulate a period of winter dormancy. 

In January, the pots are brought into the greenhouses to wake up and start growing. Spring plants grown from seed, such as pansies, are started in the fall. Because the plants all have different blooming schedules, there’s an artful science to bringing the bulbs into flower during the same two-week period.

Timing and temperature control are key to creating the spectacular display. “We can push them or slow them down if we need to,” said Tom Clark, director and curator of Mount Holyoke’s botanic garden. “And we don’t want them all to be in full bloom on opening day.” 

But there are limits to what can be done. “When the temperature hit 60 degrees a couple of weeks ago,” he said, “all we could do to keep things cool was to open all the vents in the greenhouse.” 

Snow is also a challenge, he added, because it does not melt when the greenhouse roofs are cool. “If we warm up the greenhouse to get rid of the snow, we’re making it too warm for the plants.” 

In addition to the usual spring favorites, the shows will feature smaller bulbs such as chionodoxa (glory of the snow) and muscari (grape hyacinth). “We like to have some plants that aren’t so common,” said Clark. “We like to introduce people to new things they can try in their own gardens.” One such plant is the fritillaria meleagris, or snake’s head fritillary. It grows only 8 to 10 inches and has nodding, bell-shaped flowers in colors ranging from white to dusty-wine and purple. Smith’s show this year will feature “a slew of anemone nestled together which makes for a great sight,” said greenhouse assistant Dan Babineau, who does much of the planning and execution for the show.

Both shows use “supporting actors” from the permanent collections to add dimension and texture to the displays. And both feature branches from spring-flowering trees that are forced into bloom with heat and moisture. “I'm particularly excited for the many new forced branches,” said Babineau. “The buds of cornus mas and officinalis, dogwoods, are on the way along with a couple varieties of cherry, some apple blossoms and more.” 

Last year, Mount Holyoke introduced a new feature: a complementary art installation created by students specifically for the show. The work, a sculpture evoking the college’s main gate and large fountain that created a rain-like effect, was so successful that this past fall, Clark asked sculpture professor Ligia Bouton if she might have students interested in doing a piece for this year’s show. Three students, Deborah Korboe, Emily Damon and Lauren Ferrara, took on the challenge, advised by Bouton and Amanda Maciuba, visiting artist in printmaking.  

“We gave the students a couple of possible ideas to work with,” said Clark. These included “an evocation of the Pioneer Valley” and “colorful spheres, perhaps hot air balloons, that are popular in the area.” From these themes, the students created a spectacular array of mobile pieces in metal, plexiglass and wax hanging from the greenhouse ceiling that represent fall, winter and spring, the three seasons they experience here in the Valley. 

“We liked that idea [of hot air balloons], but wanted to go with something a little more abstract,” said Damon. “We played around with the idea of hot air balloons, air, wind currents, then settled on the theme of ‘winds of change’ which is representative of the three seasons we have hanging above the flower bed.” 

The work consists of 625 handmade elements, each strung and hung individually. The delicate leaves of fall, the shimmering ice formations of winter, and the magnified spring seeds, buds and other organic shapes of spring, provide a magical counterpoint to the array of flowers beneath it. “The overall span and shape of the piece emulates a gust of wind that starts at the door and carries you through the amazing flower show,” said Korboe. “It is a journey as well as a transition. A journey between seasons while looking forward to the next and still experiencing the present.” 

“It was an amazing experience working on this project with such a creative and ambitious group of student artists,” said Bouton. “They really worked hard, and I feel the piece is a testament to their dedication, creativity and perseverance.”

The Smith College show will kick off March 1 at 7:30 p.m. with a lecture titled “Advancing Racial Equity Through Regenerative Place-Making” at the Campus Center Carroll Room. Speaker Duron Chavis is a nationally known leaer in urban agriculture and advocate for community-designed solutions to local challenges. His talk will focus on ways to mitigate the harsh realities of racism and racial inequality through place-making, a process that capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and wellbeing. The event is free and open to the public. 

Both shows are open March 2-17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The Smith Show is open till 8 p.m. Fri. to Sun. For more information about the shows, go to: mtholyoke.edu/botanic and garden. smith.edu.

Mickey Rathbun, an Amherst-based lawyer turned journalist, has written the Get Growing column since 2016.

Upcoming garden events:

Landscape architecture book launch

On Mar. 2 at 10 a.m., Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge will host a talk by well-known local landscape architect Walter Cudnohufsky, about his new book, Cultivating the Designers Mind — Principles and Process of Coherent Landscape Design. Cudnohufsky is founder of the Conway School of Landscape Design. His book is a culmination of 60 years of studying, teaching and practicing landscape design. While the book is intended for all landscape architects, architects, planners and engineers, it is both accessible to and useful for all audiences. This talk will share some of the sources of personal inspiration, discovered principles and insights made in capturing on paper the elusive task called designing. There will be ample time for planned audience engagement and questions and answers in the one hour talk. Members: $10/nonmembers: $15. For more information and to register, go to: berkshirebotanical.org

Community tree conference at UMass

The 40th annual Community Tree Conference will take place at Stockbridge Hall at UMass on Mar. 5. This event is designed for tree care professionals, volunteers and enthusiasts including arborists, tree wardens/municipal tree care specialists, foresters, landscape architects and shade tree committee members. This year’s theme is Species Selection in the Urban Environment. Topics will include creating bird habitats in the urban environment, the effects of climate change at the local level, and choosing trees for storm resistance. Cost: $95 ($75 for each additional member of the same organization). For more information and to register, go to ag.umass.edu/landscape/events

Pests and diseases in the landscape: Q & A

One positive thing I can say about winter is that pests and diseases are less of a problem in the garden. But spring is just around the corner, and it’s not too soon to start thinking about how to deal with these problems. At Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, on Mar. 9 from 11 a.m. to noon, there will be a Q and A on the subject of insects and disease in our landscape. Gary Alia, field supervisor for Rutland Nurseries, will answer your questions about problems affecting trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns. Gardeners are encouraged to send your questions in advance to adulteducation@towerhillbg.org. Cost is included with admission.

Rainwater as a resource

The final clinic in Hadley Garden Center’s weekly series is about using rainwater as a resource around your home and garden. Mar. 2 at 1 p.m. 285 Russell St. (Rte. 9) Hadley. For more information, call 584-1423. The session is free but come early to get a seat. And while you’re there, consider buying yourself something nice for your garden to celebrate having almost made it through another winter. 

 

Get Outside!

If you live in the Pioneer Valley, there is no question that winter will be more enjoyable if you adopt an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. Winter is long, and cold. However, with some advance planning, it can be enjoyable to spend time outdoors in our beautiful part of the Northeast. The following article from this week's Daily Hampshire Gazette, provides a list of must-have equipment (so important!), with some great outdoor hikes and even places to enjoy food and drink after you've exerted yourself. While the equipment list may sound like you are packing to climb Mt. Everest, as a frequent winter hiker in these parts, I can assure you, the author knows of which he speaks! Heed his advice and enjoy!

Combatting cabin fever: A guide to outdoor treks and warmup spots for the fit and stir-crazy

For the Gazette
Published: 2/26/2019 8:14:56 AM

This winter has been a season of extremes. One day we have -10 degrees with blizzard conditions and the next it’s sunny and 55 degrees — or more. The so-called “wobbly vortex” is messing with our standard winter conditions and making outdoor pursuits more challenging than ever. But no matter your position on climate change or your secret inner desire to winter in the Caribbean, the Pioneer Valley is a beautiful place that is easy to enjoy year-round. And, we have the added benefit of being surrounded by a gastronomical and fermentation obsessed landscape of amazing pubs, breweries and restaurants to take the chill off afterward.

Generally said, just about any summer hiking spot can be a winter spot and the Valley offers easy and difficult treks up and down and on both sides of the river for both hardcore enthusiasts and newbies alike.

But before we venture out, we have to discuss three primary concerns: traction, safety and preparedness. This winter’s lack of a dependable snowpack presents some challenges no matter what your level of experience because when there is not enough snow for skis or snowshoes, and the weather is variable, it usually means ice.

Do not underestimate the power of ice. Ice can turn the road up Mt. Sugarloaf in Deerfield into the Khumbu icefalls of Mt. Everest in no time. And while I’ve seen people scoot up that hill in twenty minutes wearing sneakers, I’ve seen them take an hour to get down, often with falls. So, no traction = no go. If you want to avoid injury on even the most basic adventures in the woods, you must add yak trax, cat tracks or microspikes to your regular hiking boots..

On top of safety, there is more safety. The number one most basic rule: don’t hike or snowshoe alone. Two heads actually are better than one when ice, cold and wind are involved. Number two: make a check-in plan with a friend or relative who is not on the hike with you. Tell Aunt Sue that you will text her when you get back to your vehicle. Tell her where you are hiking, whom you are hiking with and even what you are wearing. If she does not hear from you by 6:00 p.m., she’ll know to call the authorities.

A few more good tips: Check out the entire day’s weather to avoid surprises. Start small and hike or snowshoe something you know. Experiment with new or unfamiliar equipment before you get two miles from your vehicle. Try things on. Adjust straps. Fall into the snow and get yourself up — a test that can be a real indicator of your preparedness. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to turn back if you are tired, unsure of the terrain or concerned you may be overdoing it. As the saying goes, the mountains and trails will be there waiting for your return. Just getting outside in winter means you have succeeded and any unfinished hike or peak becomes a goal for the future.

Gather your gear

The list below may seem like a lot of stuff, but keep in mind that winter requires a few extra precautions because daylight is short, fewer people are outdoors, hikes take longer and the weather can change suddenly. Note: Water bottles can freeze, so use lukewarm water and cover your bottles with a wool sock. Cell phone batteries also die faster; store your phone inside an old glove deeper inside your pack. Before you head out, try your best to pull together the following:

Warm, layered and breathable clothing — preferably a bright outer layer (required)

Insulated boots (required)

Ski/trekking poles (recommended)

Snowshoes, cross-country or backwoods skis (required in deep snow situations)

Cat tracks (small teeth), yak trax (bigger teeth), microspikes (even bigger teeth) and crampons (giant teeth) (best in light snow/ice situations)

A decent day-use backpack with basic medical supplies (required)

Headgear and goggles (required)

Water (see note above), headlamp, snacks, a detailed plan and a map (required)

While it goes without saying that being outside usually involves the cold, one of the biggest challenges is actually overheating and managing trapped moisture from sweat. That combination can lead to hypothermia and hypothermia can lead to, well, bad things.

When dressing for strenuous winter exercise, stick with warm, layered and breathable gear. No cotton. Cotton loses all of its warming value with the slightest bit of moisture. Polypropylene long underwear and layered wool are best. Jackets that can be peeled off and stored in a pack are good, too. For lack of a better way to think about it, what would you wear and bring if you had to run a mile, do one hundred pushups and then sit in a snowbank overnight by yourself? It could happen.

OK, now for the fun stuff. Let’s get outside with three great treks. Each of these can be skied, hiked in microspikes or on snowshoes, it all depends on the weather, snow depth and what gear you possess.

City Special: Whiting Street Reservoir & Mt. Tom Ski Area in Holyoke

Getting there: Take Rte. 5 to Mountain Park Road and head up the hill to the end of the road. There’s a small parking area at the top that is generally plowed. To the south, a gate leads down a road a bit and then connects to the reservoir. To the north, another gated road wraps around the park and then up a steep hill to the Mt. Tom base area. The Mountain Park concert area is fenced off in the middle. Both roads lead to a bunch of options.

Option #1: (Reservoir) Head through the gate to the south and connect to a trek around the reservoir. You’ll enjoy a mostly flat 3.8 mile loop that offers great views of Mt. Tom, lots of light with a few streams and a glimpse or two of wildlife. This is a moderate effort taking approximately 2 hours if spiking or snowshoeing.

Option #2: (Reservoir + Loop) Take the road to the north. It’s approximately 1 mile to the base area (mostly uphill). After you crest the hill (great views) and head downwards, note an industrial dumpster (yes) on the left. Behind i is the path that connects to the reservoir. After poking around the base area, head back and then down the short but steep trail. Take a left and you can make it a 2 mile loop along part of the reservoir by taking the left at the pump house and following the road back to the parking area. This is slightly more strenuous and takes about an hour and a half. Note: if you take a right, it’s most of Option #1 above.

Option #3: (Reservoir + Ski Trails) This was my choice using snowshoes on a recent snowy day. I reversed Option #2 and made it to the base quickly and then headed straight up the ski trails. It’s a pretty strenuous climb of approximately 750 vertical feet but well worth it. You’ll see the old lifts and shacks and when you take a break and turn around, you’ll see the Holyoke Range to the north, Hadley across the river, Holyoke in the foreground and Springfield to the south. It’s pretty strenuous overall. Allow 2 hours depending on how far up the hill you go.

After your adventure, head over Rte. 141 to warm up at the Daily Operation in Easthampton with some replenishing made-to-order food (and perhaps a local beer.) Dave Schrier, Jessica Pollard and Dave Clegg recently decamped from the Alvah Stone up in Montague to open this spot, and their funky, filling, casual and creative Asian-influenced food never disappoints. My favorites include the blackened fish sandwich, cheesy fries, Sichuan cabbage salad and Jessica’s black bottom maple pie. As for beers, $3 gets you a can of Genny Cream Ale and $5 gets you the brews from nearby Fort Hill Brewery.

360 Degree Views: Mt. Toby Telephone Trail/ Firetower in Montague

Getting there: Take Rte. 116 to Rte. 47 North in Sunderland. Wind your way along and then turn onto Reservation Road. The parking area is about a ½ mile up on the right. If there are no maps available or you forgot yours, take a picture of the large map on the information sign, better to have at least that as a reference when you head out. Just a heads up: It’s a pretty popular spot on the weekends, especially if the temperatures are warm. Much like Mt. Tom, there are a bunch of options depending on your time, fitness and appetite. Skiers should probably consider Tower Road out and back vs. the Telephone Trail.

Unsure of what the recent warm ups and re-freezes would bring, my wife and I popped on the microspikes, brought trekking poles and carried crampons in our packs. The microspikes were the right call. From the parking area, take the Tower Road fire road that heads gently south into the forest. Ignore the Hemlock Trail on your first visit. Stay on Tower until you reach the Telephone Trail marked with blue blazes (at about ¾ mile). Take a right and begin heading upwards. You’ll come to a junction with the Upper Link Trail after another ½ mile. If you’re tired, head across the Link and reconnect with Tower Road for an easier way to the top. If you like a challenge, stay to the right. Most of the 900-foot vertical gain now stacks up to a frozen stream staircase for about .4 miles to the top. Climb the fire tower on a sunny clear day for a 360-degree view and you can see the ski areas in Vermont, the Berkshires and Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire — in addition to the entire Valley. Head back down the same way or for an easier (but longer) loop, head down the Tower Road and take a left at the Link or stay on Tower. (Telephone Trail up and back is strenuous and slippery, about 2 hours. Looping is a little easier, but adds time.)

After your hike, continue up Rte. 47 for a couple more miles to the Montague Bookmill. The Lady Killigrew Café will get some replenishing carbs back in your body fast. A simple but hearty menu provides perfect options for something warm or cold that will get your body back in line. They also have four great local beers on tap. I opted for a pint and a grilled basil, tomato and mozzarella sandwich with a nice side salad. (I strongly suggest their delicious cupcakes.)

Quick Historical Loop: Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield and Conway

Getting there: The Bullitt Reservation is a 3000-acre Trustees of Reservations property accessible from Bullitt Road in Ashfield. Take Rte. 116 up from Rte. 91 or from Williamsburg Road. (The Poland Road approach is not plowed in the winter.) William Bullitt was the first ambassador to the Soviet Union and the family’s summer home and farm has been preserved for our benefit.

This property has a great history, sublime views and a couple of nice options for a snowshoe, ski or hike. Parking is available at the barn and homestead and the trail entrance is located back up Bullitt Road. The primary trail here is the “Pebble” trail, a 1-mile loop hike that gains some elevation on its way to the “Pebble,” a huge erratic boulder that appears wedged between supporting trees. It’s a fun feature for the kids if you’re with the family. The loop is not stressful, but if you are interested in doing more, the Three Bridges Trail to Chapel Brook is 4 miles round-trip and will definitely fill your afternoon. When I went in early February, four inches of fresh snow had blanketed an icy crust beneath, skiers had made their way to the Chapel Brook cutoff and a few other hearty snowshoers had done the Pebble. Short on time and daylight, the Pebble was a perfect 45 minute loop. Be sure to print a copy of the map from the Trustees website before you head out.

After your hike, make sure you warm up the car a bit because the options are a little dispersed. I was craving pizza, so I opted to double back and head to Magpie Woodfired Pizza in Greenfield for an amazing grilled Caesar salad and a tasty handcrafted pie. Best of all? The atmosphere is warm and inviting so you won’t look out of place with a little “hat head” or in ski pants.

 
 
Patrick Kandianis is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of the education finance startup Pay4Education. An avid snowboarder, hiker, mountain biker and fly-fisherman, his freelance work has appeared at REI.com, in Coastal Angler and in Blue Magazine. He lives in Holyoke with his wife and two dogs. Drop him a line at patrick@pay4.education

A Case for Bold Colors

Generally speaking, when we realtors are called in to advise potential sellers about readying their homes for sale, we generally recommend neutral wall colors over bolder choices. However, as a homeowner, I am a big fan of rich colors. We recently hired local interior design team Workroom Design Studio to assist us in our color and decor choices for a house we are renovating. I would say that our design theme is historically relevant "jewel tones". Our WDS designer, Sally Staub, encouraged me along the way not to be afraid to use rich colors. With a mix of neutrals and jewel tones, the overall feel is welcoming, homey and playful. We couldn't be happier with the results! The following article from Apartment Therapy, also discusses the use of bold color combinations that work together beautifully. Enjoy!

6 Color Combos That Shouldn't Work But Totally Do

Adrienne Breaux
Feb 7, 2019

There are any number of color "rules" you can follow when you're picking out your home's palette. The classic 60-30-10 Rule is a place to start. You can lean on the smart suggestions of a color expert. Those looking to add dark colors in a small space might even want to consult some online guidance. But the six stunning homes in this post prove that you can play around with what some might consider "clashing" color combos and pull it off beautifully.

 
(Image credit: Susie Lowe)

Pink, green, and blue in Emily Murray's kitchen

A mossy green comprises a bold chevron pattern emblazoned with tiles on the kitchen backsplash. The cabinetry consists of a dusty blue reminiscent of a foggy sky. A perfectly hued pink makes up the tiles that hug the kitchen island base. How on earth are all of these colors working together in a way that doesn't resemble a baby's nursery? Well they're all quite balanced—each of the three colors show up in roughly the same percentage. But more importantly they all have the same medium, grayish-hued tone. It's not hot pink with an earthy blue and green. There's no neon green screaming the attention away from a pale blue and pink.

Three seating options, three strong colors in Holly Conrad's loft

It's not unusual to see one boldly colored sofa in a living room. Sometimes even two. But three different large-scale seating options... in the same room... all a different strong color? How is that working? Well, in this case, all the colors belong to an established, known color "family," called jewel tones. Jewel tones—likely modeled after the rich hues seen in actual jewels—all go together because we've decided as a society they do. Also helping here is the art piece that contains all three main colors, as well as a soft gray-and-white rug that seems to ground the room.

(Image credit: Sylvie Li)
 

Nine or more strong colors in one space, as seen in Cécile Gariépy's apartment 

I spy with my eye at least nine strong different colors in this room photo alone. How can so many disparate hues coexist so peacefully? In this illustrator's home, it's about using a lot of white or negative space, incorporating strong black and white graphic elements as the focal points, and then sprinkling little pops of strong color around the space. I know "pops of color" is a very cliche thing to say these days, but it's stuck around so long because it's a tried and true method of using a lot of different colors while not making your room feel out of control. Like a composition on paper or on the screen, Cécile's sprinkled pops of bold color throughout the room in a visually balanced way, crafting a room that feels calming yet colorful, at the same time.

Four strong colors in less than 300 square feet in Matt's tiny house

"Arsenic" lights up the living room, "India Yellow" is splashed in the kitchen, "Cook's Blue" emboldens the bathroom, and "Red Earth" adds a warm glow to the bedroom. Do you know what all the wall paint colors in Matt's tiny house have in common? They're from the same brand, Farrow and Ball. Does that mean that any time you pick four random colors from the same manufacturer they'll magically go together? I wish. But by going with a high-end, tightly curated company like Farrow and Ball, you decrease your chances of clashing simply since many of the colors flow together nicely. In fact, many paint brands today build their own "themed" color palettes of carefully chosen colors that all "go" together. Start there if you're unsure.

Just going for every color in Chad Burton and Burger Kim's Toronto apartment and Cherub Stewart's New Jersey home

 

 

Two different countries, two different styles, and two very different color schemes, yet these two homes have something very important in common—they are going all the way with color and not apologizing for it. I wish I could point to any one "reason" why these two homes—filled with color on the walls, the furnishings, even the floors—work. I think the idea of, "If you're going to go over the top, go way over the top" applies here. The inhabitants didn't dip their design toes into color... there's no small pop of bright color here or there. Every square inch of these spaces is dripping in bold hues, and that's why it works.

 

Renovating an Older Home

I came across this article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette today and thought it worth a repost. If you are looking for real estate in the Northampton area, you will quickly learn the most of the inventory is comprised of older homes. Housing stock might easily include homes that date 80 to 125 years old, or better. As the saying goes, they don't make 'em like they used to. Houses of that age were built to last. In looking more deeply into an older home, you might find hand hewn beams, wide plank floors, original clapboards, fieldstone foundations, handmade nails, beautiful moldings, etc. However, you may also come across damaged plaster walls, limited-to-no insulation (or horsehair!), lead paint, asbestos wrapped pipes and the like. Depending on the age, a home may have very shallow or limited closet space. Back in the day, people may have used wardrobes vs closets, and they had fewer clothes as well. If a house is very old, you may notice uneven floors due to settling over time. So, if you love the look and charm of an older home, you'll have to do some research and prioritize which elements to keep and/or preserve, and which elements to update.

When we took on the renovation of a 125+ year-old farmhouse, we decided to consult with (and ultimately hire) a local design/build firm to complete our renovations. There are local businesses that specialize in older homes, and there are local professionals who can assist with retrofitting older homes to make them more energy efficient. I can say from experience, that the more energy efficient you decide to make your older home, the less of the original charm it will retain. Luckily - you can choose elements that mimic the era during which the house was built. From moldings, to hardware, to tile, to fixtures, to paint colors -- everything old is new again. Read on for the article in the Gazette.

How to renovate an older home without compromising its charm

  •  

HomeAdvisor 
Published: 1/18/2019 9:05:38 AM

There’s a lot of talk these days about the many ways to bring historic homes into the modern era. But if you’ve purchased an older home — or watched enough of the TV shows featuring their renovations — you know that the original features can lend the most charm. Here are some things to consider as you work to maintain the integrity of a vintage home through updates, upgrades and renovations.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO 

Historic homes are popular for a reason. They exude charisma and character, and they typically have a lot to offer homeowners looking to personalize a home to make it their own. Of course, there are also other things to consider. Be aware of common issues like lead paint and asbestos in older homes, both of which will need to be addressed before you can safely move in. And also be sure to check the structural integrity of the home’s foundation. Hiring an inspector experienced in older homes will help to ensure that you find and address any non-cosmetic issues at the outset.

BECOME A HISTORIAN 

It’s important to figure out as much as you can about your home right off the bat. Knowing things like when it was built or how the crown molding was done can assist you when it comes time to renovate. Being aware of your home’s history can help you preserve the most important parts of the design, like transom windows, boot scrapers or Dutch doors. Not to mention, all of that historical knowledge will help you appreciate your space that much more. (Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find out about a resident ghost.) 

BE PATIENT AND GENTLE 

Don’t treat a vintage home like a new home — it was built differently; the materials are older and it requires more attention. A good rule of thumb is to be patient and gentle in all things when working on your older home. Take your time with upgrades or remodels — it’s always better to get the job done right than to throw something together in haste. And by using mild cleaners, protecting fragile design elements and touching up dings and scratches as they come, you’ll be giving your older home the care it needs and deserves.

MIX AND MATCH 

Despite superior craftsmanship in older homes, there will always be wear and tear. Paint chips and fades, mortar crumbles and appliances go out of style. When one of the home’s original features starts to deteriorate, it can seem like the end of the world. But you do have a few options. One is to match colors and styles as closely as possible during upgrades. Many people are able to pull this off with little trouble. But if you truly cannot replicate part of your vintage home, it’s OK to mix it up with modern styles. Many contemporary fixtures work surprisingly well in older homes, and it’s easy to make an old tile pattern new again with some creativity

 

FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

There is a lot to consider when it comes to taking care of a historic home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts at your local historical society. They’ll be more than happy to equip you with tools and information you need to make this transition a breeze. Plus, they should also know of some local contractors who specialize in renovating and preserving older homes. 

 
 

Time to Declutter and "Spark Joy"

OK, I admit it, I've written about this topic a time or two in the past. The truth is that this is an ongoing issue in my own household. Many of us in the 21st find ourselves surrounded by too much stuff, at a loss for how it got there, and how to (responsibly) dispose of it. In addition, as a realtor and self proclaimed homebody, I know how important it is to me that my living space be a peaceful haven. When I have too much clutter, it makes me feel stressed! There are professionals right here in the Pioneer Valley whom you can hire to help you deal with your personal clutter (contact your Maple and Main Realtor for some recommendations if this is of interest). To that end, I direct your attention to the following article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette. I admit, I'm a Marie Kondo fan. She is the "spark joy" woman from Japan who is referenced in the following article. I also admit that I, too, was bothered by how the show doesn't reference how to responsibly dispose or (or recycle) the items you choose to get rid of. Luckily, the following article makes many good local suggestions. Don't overlook the Hartsprings Foundation and Salvation Army who will come pick up your unwanted items! Also ThredUP. OK, I've got to go fold my clothes into tiny little squares now!

Declutter, donate or dispose? The trend of tidying up hits Northampton

  • Jean Pao-Wilson drops off donations at the Cancer Connection Thrift shop with Chris Hannon, a volunteer organizing donations. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Staff Writer

 
Published: 1/11/2019 12:15:52 AM

NORTHAMPTON — As more Americans turn to decluttering as a way to not only improve their living spaces, but to enrich their lives, some local thrift shops are seeing a spike in donations. 

Author-turned-Netflix star Marie Kondo’s “KonMari” method, which emphasizes only holding onto items that bring joy, is playing a role in increased donations, according to management at Cancer Connection Thrift Shop in Northampton. So is post-holidays winter cleaning.

“We do notice upticks in donations at certain time of the year, but I’ve heard a lot of people mention the tidying up thing, so that could be part of that,” said Christine Quinn, assistant manager at Cancer Connection, who has seen a few episodes of Kondo’s new Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” which premiered on Jan. 1 and applies many of the ideas from her bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” 

Busy times of year include long weekends, holidays and the start of a new year, she said. “Generally, when people have time to sit at home and reflect on how much stuff they have.”

Nancy Case, manager at Cancer Connection, also noticed an uptick in donations, adding that the store hasn’t always been this busy in past years

“We used to have a downtime,” Case said. “We no longer do have a downtime.”

Susan Drzewianowski, manager at Hospice Shop thrift store in Northampton, has also noticed Kondo’s ideas catching on among her clientele. While Hospice Shop “normally sees a drop in traffic after Christmas,” donations have been going strong this month, she said.

Customers mention “a couple times a week” ideas commonly championed by Kondo, such as “I have too much... it brought me joy,” Drzewianowski said. “It’s something I’ve never heard here before.”

Case said she’s “not entirely convinced” surges in donations are only related to Kondo’s Netflix show, but noted that several patrons have mentioned the show as an inspiration for decluttering their lives.

But Case believes that the influx of donations seen at local thrift stores goes “beyond trendy.”

“People are just becoming more aware,” she said.

Jean Pao Wilson of Easthampton, a customer and donor at Cancer Connection, said that she has been making an effort to donate more often in general as a way to declutter her own life without being wasteful.

“A lot of us have a lot of stuff, and I like to simplify and donate rather than throw it in the trash,” Pao Wilson said.

“It’s like a muscle,” she added. “The more you use it, the easier it gets.”

Decluttering responsibly

Quinn said that she had read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and watched a few episodes of Kondo’s Netflix series in response to its recent buzz. She agrees with Kondo on many concepts. But simply tossing clutter in the trash doesn’t necessarily warrant a pat on the back, Quinn said, adding that Kondo’s book could use more emphasis on how to properly dispose of unwanted items.

“It’s simply focused on the people themselves clearing out their house,” Quinn said of the book. “They never address where things are going to, so it seems like people could be throwing things in the trash, which sort of bugs me, because people are throwing out things that could be going to good use.”

Susan Waite, waste reduction and recycling coordinator for the Northampton Department of Public Works, also stressed that “the greenest item is the one that already exists.”

“The whole popularity of decluttering is wonderful, but there are people that can use some of the material, so I wince when people say just get a dumpster and toss everything,” she said.

At the same time, people should be mindful of what can and can’t be donated, Quinn said, adding that some people will bring in items that are broken, moldy or otherwise unhealthy or unsafe to handle, believing they can be refurbished by the store. But especially with smaller organizations, such as Cancer Connection, this often isn’t the case.

Wendy Taylor-Jourdian, manager of The Parson’s Closet thrift store in Easthampton, said that her shop has also experienced issues with people dropping off items that the store can’t accept, which leads to the donations endingup in the dumpster.

The volume of donations is “cyclical” at Parsons, Taylor-Jourdian said, although the holiday season can sometimes see people donating unwanted gifts or decluttering in preparation of the giving season.

But while people should take care that they are donating appropriate items, thrift shops such as Cancer Connection are always depending on new donations from patrons, Case said.

“Just because (a donated item) doesn’t spark joy for them doesn’t mean it won’t spark joy for someone else,” she said.

 
 
Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

Where to Look for Inexpensive and Attractive Home Decor!

As someone who is both a realtor (in and out of homes on a regular basis) and is working on a large home improvement project for the second time in 5 years, I can attest to the following list from apartmenttherapy.com as to where are the best places to find inexpensive and attractive home decor. I would add the following local to Northampton suggestions as well: The ReCenter Swap Shop off of Glendale Road in Florence, and EcoBuilding Bargains in Springfield, MA (more for the DIY set!). Target and Ikea should not be overlooked either!  

The Best Places to Find Cheap Home Decor, According to Interior Designers

 
Kelsey Mulvey
Nov 28, 2018
 
(Image credit: Aimée Mazzenga

Let's get one thing straight: You don't need a huge budget to have a great eye for design.

 

Sure, it would be nice to have the latest (and priciest) pieces from Paris or Milan; however, there's something satisfying about searching high and low for a great deal. Plus, how cool is it when all your friends are fawning over an ottoman or throw blanket when you know you got it for next to nothing.

Of course, we're not the only ones who love some cheap thrills. Turns out, interior designers love their share of reasonably priced furniture and accessories. So, the next time you're looking for a great design deal, check out these expert-approved stores. Happy shopping!

1. Wayfair

 

(Image credit: Wayfair)

"Best places for me to find cheap home decor? Let me omit the word 'cheap,' and rephrase, the best place to find reasonably priced home decor. The Batts Chesterfield Sofa available at Wayfair, is luxurious and rich looking. You don't have to spend a fortune on home decor to make it look like you did!"  Vanessa Deleon, interior designer 

 

2. Antique Stores

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

 

"The best bang for your buck in home decor is going to be the Brimfield Antique Markets. There you will find unique one-of-a-kind pieces that you can bargain on and at least you will come home with a little piece of history and not something that everyone has." Sasha Bikoff, interior designer 

3. Etsy

 

(Image credit: Etsy/TweetHeartWallArt)

"So many hidden gems on Etsy. I recently purchased gold star decals from there and put them on a nursery ceiling for a high-end look on the cheap!" Michala Monroe, interior designer

 

4. Lamps Plus

 

(Image credit: Lamps Plus)

"When looking for high quality and affordable pricing for home decor, especially mirrors, my go to is Lamps Plus. They have mirrors for every style, from modern to traditional, and the variety has really improved several of my clients' projects." Erica Islas, interior designer

5. Unison

 

(Image credit: Unison Home)

"I love the brand Unison and they have some great, affordable finds! They have a number of small side tables under $100, the Tower Black Side Table is one of my favorites for its minimalist and sleek look." —Alessandra Wood, interior design expert and director of style at Modsy

6. Urban Outfitters

 

(Image credit: Urban Outfitters)

 

"Urban Outfitters is also a great place to find inexpensive yet unique items. This woven bench takes its cue from much more expensive pieces." —Alessandra Wood

"Urban Outfitters also has a ton of affordable and playful home decor items." —Caitlin Murray, interior designer and founder of Black Lacquer Design

7. Chairish

 

(Image credit: Chairish)

"I constantly look to Chairish for affordable throw pillows and vintage glassware." —Caitlin Murray

 
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Practical Gifts for The Kitchen!

It's that time of year again - time to spend/give/receive! If you are feeling bogged down at the idea of blind consumerism, it's a good idea to focus on practical and useful, yet also fun, gift ideas for your loved ones. As someone who loves to cook, I can attest to the fact that many of the products suggested in the following post from thekitcn.com are must haves for any cook's or baker's on your holiday gift list! I use my Wusthof knives, OXO locking tongs, OXO zester/grater, 10" cast iron skillet on a nearly daily basis! All the better if you can find a well seasoned cast iron skillet, measuring cups or vintage baking dish at a local thrift store!

15 Classic Gifts That'll Stand the Test of Time

 
Lisa Freedman
Nov 14, 2018
 

 

You don't want to see a loved one at Easter and find out that the [insert gift here] you got her for the holidays has since broken. That would be terrible, right? To keep that from happening, we've compiled this list of 15 classic gifts that will stand the test of time.

Every single of one of these items consistently rank among the best in reviews. They're also pretty essential for a well-rounded kitchen. And they're from top name brands. Buy something on this list and you can rest easy, knowing that almost nothing can go wrong with it. When the holiday season of 2045 rolls around, you'll still be hearing how great that gift from 2018 is holding up.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife, $150

This is as close to perfect as you can get when it comes to a good-quality chef's knife. Because it actually is perfect. It's balanced just right and the blade is well-rounded on the bottom to encourage the ideal rocking motion. The price is right in the middle of the road (not too cheap and not ridiculously expensive) and it's special enough to be a sweet gift.

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Stainless Steel Locking Tongs, $12

A good pair of tongs become an extension of a home cook's hands. And these are good tongs. So good, in fact, that they'll give cooks more control than, say, a spatula or turner. They lock closed, have non-slip handles, boast sturdy scalloped grippers, and can go in the dishwasher. They also go in a stocking; get one for every stocking you need to stuff.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Peugeot 7-Inch U'Select Pepper Mill, $45

Get this for your dad who always says yes to the waitress when she asks if anyone wants freshly ground pepper. Made in France, Peugeot is one of the best names in the pepper-grinding business. This model has easy-to-adjust settings to allow for all sorts of grinds (from fine to coarse), and a two-stage grinding process (the first step cracks the peppercorns and the second one grinds them) to result in the freshest and boldest flavor possible.

 

(Image credit: Amaozn)
 

4. Microplane Zester Grater, $13

The name Microplane has become synonymous with graters of all types because it really is the brand that matters the most. And this is one of their best, most important tools. It can turn hard cheeses into snow-like mountains, garlic into a paste, nutmeg into a powder, and more. Looking for a little host gift? Pair this with a wedge of Parm and you're all set.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Emile Henry Rectangular Baking Dish, from $50

Also made in France (seriously, why is all the best kitchen stuff made in France?), this baker diffuses and retains heat better than most. Because it can withstand temps up to 520°F, it can go in the broiler and directly from the fridge or freezer to a hot oven.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $15

Okay, maybe we take that French thing back ... our all-time favorite cast iron skillet is made in the good ol' US of A. It comes pre-seasoned, which means it can be used as soon it's unwrapped, it cooks better than any other cast iron skillet out there, and it only gets better as it's used over time.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set, $20

The most ingenious measuring cups to have ever been invented, these are read from above instead of the side (although that is an option, too). This way, bakers can see how much they're pouring out while they're standing over the cup and they don't have to hunch over awkwardly. Get this set for anyone who bakes and maybe there will be some cookies in your future.

 

(Image credit: Williams Sonoma)

8. Staub Cast-Iron Round Cocotte, from $160 at Williams Sonoma

One more French thing! We've always recommended Staub Dutch Ovens, but a few months ago, we got to take a trip to the factory to see how these babies get made and now we're even more enamored of them. So much work and care goes into each pot! (It takes about a week to make each pot and more than 20 workers play a part in every one!) So while the price is a tad high, we totally understand why. Plus, Staub really does have some of the best cooking results compared to other enameled cast iron pieces.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

9. John Boos Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board, $134

One of the things that separate beginner cooks from avid home cooks, we think, is their cutting board. Whereas, say, college students might be more likely to use a plastic one, serious home cooks have a substantial wooden cutting board that can sit out on the counter like a badge of honor. Get this 24- by 18-inch board for anyone who's hoping to feel more like an adult in 2019.

 

(Image credit: ThermoWorks)

10. ThermoPop, $34 at ThermoWorks

Nearly every professional chef will agree that a meat thermometer is one of the most crucial kitchen tools. And they'll almost always suggest the ThermoPop, too. Not only is it incredibly accurate, but it's also super responsive and easy to operate. Plus, it comes in nine fun colors, so you can make the gift feel a little more personal.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

11. Vollrath Wear-Ever Half-Size Sheet Pans, $27 for two

We can not say enough good things about these sheet pans. (So we're just going to keep writing about them.) They don't warp or discolor, and veggies roast just as well as chicken breasts on them. Chances are, the home cook in your life is annoyed by her sheet pans but she's never going to break down and buy herself some new ones. So that's where you come in.

Related: These Are Our Editors' Favorite Baking Sheets

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

12. Duralex Picardie Glasses, $20 for six

Maybe we should have retitled this gift guide All the Kitchen Things to Buy Your Francophile friends! These made-in-France glasses make the perfect juice, water, or wine glasses. Bonus: The price is right and they'll look great in any kind of kitchen.

 

(Image credit: Williams Sonoma)

13. Goldtouch Nonstick 4-Piece Bakeware Set, $80 at Williams Sonoma

For the baker in your life, this Williams Sonoma set includes four of the most key pieces. The pieces are made of commercial-grade aluminized steel, which distributes heat quickly and evenly, and have a ceramic-based coating to ensure easy release every single time.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

14. GIR 11-Inch Spatula, $13

It's hard to love a spatula (or any other inanimate object) more than we love this one. Unlike other spatulas, which have a scraper attached to a handle, the GIR is just one piece of silicone so there's no place for gunk to hide. It's perfectly bendy (read: not too bendy!) to scrape a bowl of every last bit of batter. And it comes in 13 bright colors. Gift it on its own or pair it with a cookbook or anything else on this list for a more substantial present.

 

(Image credit: Amazon)

15. Cuisinart 6-Quart Multi-Cooker, $118

This small appliance consistently tops editors' lists of best slow cookers. (A few of us at Kitchn also have it and swear by it.) The Instant Pot may be super trendy, but this slow cooker has been a top seller for a while now. Translation: Your loved one will still want to use this even once America's moved on to the next new gadget.

 

Aging in Place, with Local Assistance!

Any realtor can tell you, whenever a spiffy, well-built and/or well-sited single-floor home ("ranch") comes on the market in the Pioneer Valley - there is a mad dash of buyers eager to look at it, and, potentially, make an offer to buy it. There is a growing awareness in our part of the country, at least, about the benefits of aging in place. Some homeowners may choose to renovate their spaces to allow them to do so. We also see buyers who choose downsize from larger homes, transitioning into a smaller or single-floor homes.

One concern for aging homeowners is how to remain independent, when certain activities or household responsibilities become more challenging with age. We've recently learned about a wonderful new volunteer organization in the Northampton Area. Northampton Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer services and programs to empower seniors to live independent, engaged lives at home. So, whether you are in personally need of their services, you know someone who is, or you wish to volunteer or donate to this important cause - check out the hotlink above to learn more.

Neighborhood Group

Questions for your Home Inspector

It's the beautiful fall season here in the Northampton area - and the real estate market is on an upswing! As Thanksgiving and the December holidays approach, there are buyers and sellers out there still looking, buying and selling before the quiet of winter descends. So, for buyers out there, even if the home you are considering is in tip top condition, the home inspection process is an important learning tool. Your realtor can help you to prioritize issues, and come up with a list of reasonable requests for the seller, once you have your inspection report in hand. Having personally attended home inspections with clients in recent weeks, I thought this article was timely.

Home Inspection's Complete? Here's What You Must Ask Afterward

By  | Oct 9, 2018
 
home-inspector-questions
fstop123/iStock

What are some questions to ask a home inspector after he's finished the inspection? Because, let's face it, just staring at that hefty report highlighting every flaw in your future dream home can send many buyers into a full-blown panic!

Know the right questions to ask a home inspector afterward, though, and this can help put that report into perspective. Here are the big ones to hit.
 

'I don't understand [such and such], what does it mean?'

Just so you know what to expect, here's how it will go down: A day or two after the inspection, you should receive the inspector's report. It will be a detailed list of every flaw in the house, often along with pictures of some of the problem areas and more elaboration.

Hopefully you also attended the actual inspection and could ask questions then; if so, the report should contain no surprises. It should contain what you talked about at the inspection, with pictures and perhaps a bit more detail. If there's anything major you don't remember from the inspection in the report, don't be afraid to ask about it.

'Is this a major or a minor problem?'

Keep in mind, most problems in the house will likely be minor and not outright deal breakers. Still, you'll want your home inspector to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and point out any doozies. So ask him if there are any problems serious enough to keep you from moving forward with the house.

Keep in mind that ultimately it's up to you and your real estate agent to determine how to address any issues.

"The inspector can't tell you, 'Make sure the seller pays for this,' so be sure you understand what needs to be done," says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

'Should I call in another expert for a follow-up inspection?'

Expect to have to call in other experts at this point to look over major issues and assign a dollar figure to fixing them. If your inspector flags your electrical box as looking iffy, for example, you may need to have an electrician come take a look and tell you what exactly is wrong and what the cost would be to fix it. The same goes for any apparent problems with the heating or air conditioning, roof, or foundation. An HVAC repair person, roofer, or engineer will need to examine your house and provide a bid to repair the problem.

Why is this so important? This bid is what your real estate agent will take to the seller if you decide to ask for a concession instead of having the seller do the fix for you. Your inspector can't give you these figures, but he can probably give you a sense of whether it's necessary to call somebody in.

'Is there anything I'll need to do once I move in?'

Wait, you're still not done! It's easy to forget the inspector's report in the whirlwind of closing and moving, but there are almost always suggestions for things that need doing in the first two to three months of occupancy.

Lesh says he sometimes gets panicked calls from homeowners whose houses he inspected three months after they've moved in. Although he'd noted certain issues in his report, the buyers neglected the report entirely—and paid for it later.

"I had a couple call and tell me they had seepage in the basement," Lesh says. "I pulled up their report and asked if they'd reconnected the downspout extension like I recommended. Nope. Well, there's your problem!"

Everything you didn't ask the seller to fix? That's your to-do list. Isn't owning a home fun?

 
Audrey Ference has written for The Billfold, The Hairpin, The Toast, Slate, Salon, and others. She lives in Austin, TX.
 

Natural Drain Cleaner, Yup!

Let's face it, we all have recurring themes of disagreement that arise when living in the same household with other people. For example, clogged drains have lead to repeated domestic arguments in my own household. I am impulsive, and I want the problem (any problem) addressed immediately. My partner is slow and methodical, and he needs to take his time when responding to problems. My impulsivity leads me to want to reach for the Drano, in the face of a clogged drain, and nip the problem in the bud. My partner historically puts his foot down (firmly) in response to this solution. And, in this case, I have learned that he is correct. The chemicals in liquid drain cleaners can eat away at one's pipes, and cause long term damage. Not to mention the fact that they are dangerous and toxic, and just not a good thing to leave lying around one's home. At this point, to be honest, I almost always reach for the white vinegar when it comes times to clean most anything in my house. As I was perusing Apartment Therapy this morning - which I tend to do on a regular basis, I came across this recipe for how to make non-toxic drain cleaner. I think that all home owners should bookmark this page and remember to use it the next time your pipes get clogged. Happy Housekeeping!

 You Should Know How to Make Your Own Drain Cleaner

Ayn-Monique Klahre

Sep 30, 2018

Dead skin cells, soap scum, random food scraps, human hair, pet hair, and just regular ol' dirt—these are all the things you regularly wash down your sink or tub's drain. And if they sound gross now, image how much worse they are once they've congealed into a stringy, slimy ball of gunk inside your pipes. Yuck!

 

You want to prevent any of this gunk buildup before it becomes a real problem—especially in homes with older pipes or large families. The first sign of a growing clog? A gray ring around your tub or sink from the water sloooooowlydraining, giving soap bubbles ample time to attach and dry to that formerly clean porcelain. Another sign is water pooling around the drain. If you can actually see the slow drainage, it's time to act!

There are strong chemical cleaners designed to tackle truly clogged drains (and boy, do they smell like they're working!), but for prevention and regular maintenance, a DIY unclogger (a professional term!) will do. This method combines a couple products—with surprising cleaning powers—that you already have in your cabinets.

 
 
1/5 Run the hot water: Turn your sink or shower on at full-blast hot and run it for a few minutes, then allow it to drain. If your water doesn't get super hot (which it might not, because the EPA recommends you keep it at 120 degrees for both energy efficiency and safety), boil a big pot of water on the stove, then pour it down the drain. Wait for the water to drain; this is the first step in loosening the gunk.
Image credit: Christine Han

How To Make Your Own Drain Cleaner

Ingredients

  • Boiling-hot water
  • Baking soda (about a cup)
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about a cup)

Equipment

  • Spoon or funnel (optional)
  • Tub stopper or rag
 

Instructions

  1. Run the hot water: Turn your sink or shower on at full-blast hot and run it for a few minutes, then allow it to drain. If your water doesn't get super hot (which it might not, because the EPA recommends you keep it at 120 degrees for both energy efficiency and safety), boil a big pot of water on the stove, then pour it down the drain. Wait for the water to drain; this is the first step in loosening the gunk.
  2. Pour in the baking soda: Slowly send about a cup of baking soda down the drain, using a spoon or funnel as necessary. Do it little by little so it's not all jammed at the top of the drain.
  3. Add the lemon juice: Slowly pour the lemon juice on top of the baking soda. Brace yourself for some action: This will cause a fizzy, bubbly chemical reaction. 
  4. Cover and wait: Use your tub stopper or a rag to cover the drain, and wait. Give the mixture enough time to work, about a half hour, and keep it covered the whole time. 
  5. Run water again: Uncover the drain and send piping-hot water down it (again, either from the faucet or heated on the stovetop), letting it run for a few minutes. Wait for it all to drain. Is it draining faster than before? If not…
  6. Repeat as necessary: If your drain is super clogged, it may take a few rounds before it clears up. But with proper maintenance (repeat this process two to four times a year, depending on your household) you can prevent those big clogs from building up again.