Courtesy of Phyllis Nichyporuk

WANTED: ECO-FRIENDLY FEATURES Getting your home ready for sale or looking to add upgrades that will draw buyers to your home in the future? According to website Care2 – “the world’s largest social website for good” – many homebuyers place green features at the top of their wish list when searching for a new residence. So, which eco-friendly features are buyers looking for? 84 percent of house hunters want an energy efficient home, meaning insulated attics, programmable thermostats and air-tight windows are all excellent investments. Energy efficiency extends to appliances and lighting as well, with 67 percent of buyers on the lookout for ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers and ceiling fans. And don’t forget to green up your outdoor spaces as 47 percent of purchasers want landscaping features such as shade trees to help keep the home cool, native plants that require little water and rock gardens or other alternates to grass lawns. And speaking of chow, everyone also gets a brown paper bag filled with classic lunchbox eats. An apple, a juice box and a healthy treat such as homemade granola bars. Don’t forget the star-shaped sandwiches. PB and J anybody? PLAN A BACK TO SCHOOL PARTY Who says back to school has to include saying goodbye to the celebratory nature of summer? Wind up backyard barbeque season and say hello to school by throwing a party for your kids, your friends and – of course – for you! Use brown craft paper for a tablecloth and create a centerpiece with a stack of old books. Write each guest’s name on a mini chalkboard and use as placeholders. Every place setting gets reusable plastic cutlery, a small notebook and a pencil. Encourage your guests to write each other notes and draw pictures as they chow down.

TAKE TO SCHOOL TACO BAR Taco Ingredients: 4 (6-inch) soft flour tortillas 1/3 cup shredded Cheddar, Monterey jack or “Mexican blend” cheese 1/4 cup Quickie Guacamole or store-bought 1/4 cup Speedy Salsa or store-bought 2 TBSP sour cream or plain yogurt, optional Mini bottle hot sauce Multi-compartment lunch box Taco Directions: Sprinkle cheese inside each of the tortillas. Pack in the biggest compartment of the lunch box. Pack other compartments with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and other favorite toppings. Seal and send off to school.

Speedy Salsa Ingredients: 2 ripe tomatoes, halved 1/4 small red or white onion, halved 1-2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or mint Speedy Salsa Directions: Grate tomatoes on the largest holes of a box grater into a bowl all the way down to the skins. Discard the skins. Grate the onion into the tomato. Stir in olive oil. Season with salt, to taste. Serve with cilantro leaves on the side, or stirred in, if desired.

Quickie Guacamole Ingredients: 1 ripe Hass avocado, halved and seeded 1 lime, halved 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, mango, or quartered seedless grapes, optional Quickie Guacamole Directions: Scoop the flesh from the shell with a spoon into a medium bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the avocado and stir to coat evenly. Add the salt. Use a fork to stir and mash into a chunky guacamole. Stir in tomatoes or fruit, if desired.

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