Saturday, December 23, 2006

Housecleaning Tips - Grab Dust Hiding in the Kitchen by Karen Fritscher-Porter


Housecleaning Tips - Grab Dust Hiding in the Kitchen By: Karen Fritscher-Porter

Housecleaning tips usually discuss the importance of dusting your home. But this one gives you the inside scoop about a place you often don't think to include on your dusting route. That's the kitchen.

When you think of cleaning the kitchen you think of grease and food. But you'll find a lot of dust and grime settling in the kitchen on top of the stove hood. Clean this frequently. The easiest way is with a paper towel and some window cleaner or all purpose cleaner. Just make sure you don't have any food sitting on the stovetop or closest countertops while doing this job because some dust will fall there. So after you clean the stove hood, you'll need to clean the stovetop and countertop, also using paper towels and some spray cleaner.

Use a stool to climb up high enough to see and dust the top of the refrigerator. Using your dust cloth, pull the dust in a forward motion to start so that more of it doesn't fall behind the fridge. You want to pull out the fridge to clean behind it, including its coils, and the floor but not as often as you generally just dust the top of the fridge.

Every now and then you'll also want to dust the tops of the top kitchen cabinets, another favorite concealed place for dust to settle. This also calls for a sturdy step ladder. If you have a hand vaccum, you can plug it into the socket on the kitchen counter and just suck up the dirt with the attachments. Otherwise, you can still do it by hand with a just slightly damp cloth to grab the dust.

The tops of the curtains, drapes or valances in the kitchen also catch a lot of dust, especially if you have a ceiling vent blowing near them. Fortunately, a lot of kitchen curtains are easy machine washable styles that also are easy and quick to take down and hang back up. But that doesn't necessarily mean yours are so. You should wash or dryclean your curtains, drapes or valances periodically following their individual care instructions. Consider using the vacuum cleaner dust attachment along with a step ladder for in-between quick dust jobs at the top of the curtains or valance. Or knock the dust to the floor or counter with a hand-held professional feather duster and then vacuum it up.

Another place in the kitchen that cobwebs hide is at the base of the lower kitchen cabinets---like that indented spot where your feet settle when you're using the sink. This is the small inset part usually where the cabinets meet the floor. Reach under there with a broom to knock those cobwebs and debris to the floor. And then sweep the floor.

These housecleaning tips don't cover all the dusty spots you'll find in your home or kitchen, but it's a start. And these are some of the most unobvious places that will keep your dust allergic friends sneezing and itching if you don't tend to these dust hideaways.

Article by:


Karen Fritscher-Porter is a nationally published freelance writer who writes about home organizing and housecleaning tips. Read more at her website www.EasyHomeCleaning.com .

Product Recommendation: Swiffer Max


After 7 years, I decided it was time to retire the old Swiffer dry mop. Last night, I purchased a Swiffer Max and am thrilled. This one cleans a larger area. (love it) And like the older model you can use wet and dry cloths. In between those monthly hands and knee kitchen floor scrubbings I use my Swiffer. It's much more convenient than a mop and no need for a bucket.

My husband and son don't mind mopping the floors with the Swiffer either. This item should be in every household's broom closet.

The price was an affordable $10, for the starter kit. at our local Sears Essential. It included a sample of the wet and dry cloths.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ice Skating at Horton Plaza

Marcus and the home-based educated group went to the ice skating rink at the famous Horton Plaza last week. The outdoors was just right for this winter activity. Cool, overcast weather with lots of thermos of hot chocolate. I'm proud to say that he didn't fall once but did require additional socks due to cold feet. (this mom packs it all in her handy messenger bag) Parents took pictures and video of our kids. Some even bravely put on a pair of skates and headed out there too.

Afterwards, Marcus and I headed to Great Kahn's Mongolian Festival for a hot and filling lunch. If you've never had the Great Khan experience than allow me to explain. You place your order entree and drink, pay and then are presented with a bowl and napkin. You have a selection of frozen shaved meats, vegetables, sauces and noodles or rice. They cook the assortment on flat grills with no oil. (very healthy) We were hungry and enjoyed every mouthful.

On our way to the car, we stopped at a few stores to admire the window displays. I then remembered that I needed to purchase a gift card for my husband's secret santa, at work. So, we stopped at the concierge's desk, purchased one and had our parking stub validated before heading home. I had such a fantastic time with our kidlet that day. I'm glad he did too!

Did You Read About the Teen That Returned $24,000?

Now here's a very honest young man. And he wouldn't even accept a reward. He was only doing what was right...returning something that wasn't his.

Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

Learn How To Plan Your Meals to Free Up Your Time by Aurelia Williams


Many of the the Stay at home mom blogs, that I visit recommend menu planning. Not only do you save time but you save money. And who doesn't want to do that?

Learn How To Plan Your Meals to Free Up Your Time By: Aurelia Williams

Meal planning and bulk cooking are both wonderful techniques you can utilize and modify to fit your families needs. The idea behind this is simple. The principle is that you cook and or prepare your meals ahead of time and then preserve them by either freezing or fridgerating them. Also, meal planning you can cook one large meal and get 2-3 other meals out of it! The key here is to make every meal you cook count! When you are going to prepare a family favorite, double, triple, even quadruple the recipe if it will keep in the freezer. Sound wonderful doesn’t it? Why not give yourself a much-needed break -- cook ahead today so you can relax tomorrow!

The first step in meal planning is always the most challenging. To make it less challenging I suggest that you grab the following supplies: Pen, paper, your personal recipe collection or your favorite cookbook and a comfortable chair. Start by writing down a list of your favorite meals and plan on preparing a grocery list that will coincide with your list. Now, since we are talking bulk cooking here – if you normally would serve up one pot of spaghetti – plan to serve 2 (that would mean that you will have to double the recipe – so be sure to alter your shopping list accordingly) – It will take the same amount of time to cook – just a little extra planning is needed.

Next you can use a blank calendar and simply write the meals down on the day you will serve them. I personally post my meal plan up on my refrigerator for the entire house to see. This also helps to prompt me for the next day of meals that will be served.

The most important tool in meal planning and bulk cooking is your freezer. If you have a small freezer, don’t fret; you can fit many meals in that small freezer space – it will just call for a little more creativity on your part. With the use of freezer bags, that you can stack flat and the use of some freezer proof containers you will be surprised at how many meals your freezer can hold.

Here are a few essential and widely used meal planning techniques and tips:

Multi-recipes ~ Using this strategy requires you to cook many main course meals in one day. For instance, on a Sunday morning you could prepare a roast in your Crock pot, some spaghetti on top of the stove, a baked Chicken in the oven and perhaps a nice salad. You also could quarter and boil some potatoes, cook some rice and some veggies (either fresh or canned). What you now have is 5 different meals that you can use throughout the entire week. You can eat one of the meals that very evening and you could Freeze or refrigerate the rest. This technique works very well for some people and it provides a wide variety of dishes that you can use. I personally use this technique from time to time. I usually do my multi-recipe cooking on a Sunday and it can take up to 5 hrs to complete but what you are left with is 2 weeks worth of food that you can enjoy. And notice that the meals that I use in my Multi-recipe list are easy to prepare.

One Cook Wonder ~ With this strategy you would cook one main course recipe that can be used for different meals. For Instance, let’s say you just baked a large turkey. You could slice some of the turkey off and serve the breast with gravy, dice some of the turkey and prepare a turkey gumbo and use the rest for either a soup or turkey salad. Mind you, you do not have to prepare all of those meals on one day. After the Turkey has been cooked and cooled, you can freeze and refrigerate the turkey that you cut off the carcass and prepare your other Turkey related meals at a different time.

Quick and Easy meals ~ Be sure to incorporate those quick and easy meals into your planning process. If your family loves Sloppy Joes – cook up the sloppy joe meat in bulk and freeze it – then all you need to do is defrost the meat, grab some buns and viola. What about Hamburger Helper? Why not cook 2-3 boxes of it, separate it into 3 separate large containers and freeze them. That idea alone allows you to prepare 3 meals in just 30-minutes.

Designate a meal for a particular night ~ Every Friday night in my house is either Pizza or burger night. The idea here is to choose any night of the week and just designate a meal to go with that night. I always make sure that I have plenty of Frozen Pizza’s with a variety of toppings on hand in my freezer. The same goes for those Turkey burger patties (my family doesn’t eat much ground beef). The idea behind this process is that you now have one night’s meal already planned. You can also stock up on that meal when the products are on sale. If you see Frozen pizza’s being sold in bulk, grab them up!

Love your leftovers ~ This is one of my favorite parts of meal planning as it allows you to use your imagination. At least every other week or so be sure to go through your refrigerator and take inventory of what you have in there. When you combine 2-3 leftovers, you may find that you have a meal right there. You can use left over pasta from spaghetti to prepare a pasta salad, leftover spaghetti sauce and just a few pieces of chicken can be a wonderful dish to top with cheese and place in the oven. Again, with a little imagination – you can make your leftovers work for you!

Use the sales paper ~ everyone loves a good sale and I use the sales paper to help me in my meal planning. When I see our Family favorites on sale – instead of buying one, I will purchase 3-4 of the same items and simply come home and prepare the meals or freeze the food that I purchased. My family and I love Chicken. When I spot whole chickens on sale I’ve been known to purchase up to 5-6 at a time. Keep in mind that I have a family of 6 and in my family of six; there are 3 teenagers (and you know how much they can consume). By shopping like this, I actually save hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year in food alone!

Helpful supplies
Labels/freezer bags/Freezer-proof containers: Be sure that you have all of your freezing and refrigerating needs on hand. When storing food in freezer safe containers be sure to place a label on the container with the name of the meal and the date the meal was prepared.

Crockpot: This handy appliance is my best friend in the kitchen. When using a crockpot you literally prepare the meal, place it in the crockpot, Set it & Forget it. It is a hands free cooking experience. I cook whole chickens in my crock pot and then slice the chicken up to freeze and use for sandwiches, enchilada’s, chicken salads, chicken soup, chicken stew.. as you can see – the possibilities are endless.

As you can see, meal planning is a money, sanity and time saver – what else could a busy mom ask for?

Now, let’s get Cookin’!

Article by:
Aurelia Williams is the author of Journey To Joy, an inspiring eBook that explores many obstacles that women face. It also provides essential action steps, worksheets, resources and an hour long Balancing Your Life Audio.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Laundry - The Neverending Story? by Carrie Lauth


Laundry. Ugh. Is that what you hear or maybe you are saying these words yourself? My family does the laundry together, usually on Saturdays. Sometimes my husband and I do the laundry together.

Laundry - The Neverending Story? By: Carrie Lauth

Laundry can be a huge time sucker and it's the task many Moms dread most. It doesn't have to be this way. Here are some tips to help you tame the laundry beast.

Minimize

Minimize the amount of laundry you do by creating new standards of "dirty". If you wear a pair of jeans for two hours then put on your shorts, are the jeans dirty? Not in my house. Pajamas put on a clean body at night after a bath and worn once aren't dirty either. Ditto for a towel that blots a freshly scrubbed body. Teach your kids that dirty means it has food or obvious dirt marks on it. The exception? Underwear of course!

Minimize sorting by putting a hamper in each bedroom that has 3 slots. One for whites, one for darks, one for mixed colors. For kids that are very young, try cutting out a large circle from construction paper for each category. Tape these on the wall above the hamper to show where to put each color. Alternately, you could buy inexpensive colored bins that match laundry colors.

Train your kids to bring you their dirty laundry at the beginning of each day or at some other time you choose. Don't turn socks right side out for laundering. Show your family members how to take off their socks without bunching them into an inside out ball. If they don't choose to listen to your sock lessons, let them turn their own socks right side out.

You may be able to minimize sorting even more by washing more clothes together. Many times light colors can go into the wash with mixed colors if you use cold water and the items aren't brand new. Typically only cheap clothing fades anyway so buy your kid's clothing from the nicer stores. It will last longer and wash well.

Some important questions to ponder: Do underwear need to be "folded" or can they be neatly placed flat in drawers? What about small T shirts and shorts? Do socks need to be matched up or can they be thrown into plastic boxes in a drawer and matched up by the wearer? Important questions, these!

Delegate

In some homes, the person who dirties the laundry is responsible for taking the laundry to the washing up area. If clothing doesn't make it there (meaning it's stuffed under beds, in corners of closets or otherwise lying on the floor), it doesn't get washed. Natural consequences work well for laundry. The first time your daughter doesn't have her favorite shirt that she just has to wear to the mall, she'll remember to get it to the laundry room. When hubby has no boxers, he may be motivated to get them in the hamper too. Developing "laundry on the floor blindness" is helpful for a Mom!

Older kids can be taught how to use the washing machine and dryer. Kids ages 2 and up can help with folding and getting clean laundry to their dressers. Even a toddler can "match corners" to fold washcloths and put their undies and socks in dresser drawers. Most youngsters think folding laundry is fun. Keep this myth going with them as long as humanly possible!

Don't Procrastinate

Some tasks don't take longer to complete if you procrastinate a bit. Vacuuming, for instance, takes roughly the same amount of time to complete whether you do it daily or weekly. Laundry is not one of these chores. Doing a load of laundry a day is preferable to tackling a mountain of dirty clothes that have set in stains, bad odors and maybe even mildew. Be sure to finish the job completely- putting the load into the dryer quickly so the clothes don't sour. Then remove from the dryer promptly for folding so they don't wrinkle.

As long as we continue to eat, sweat and move about, we'll have to deal with laundry. Hopefully these tips will help you spend a little less time dealing with the repercussions of being human!

Article by:


Carrie Lauth is the host of www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com. For more housekeeping with kids tips, visit www.natural-moms.com/homekeeping_organization.html

Rona's Book Recommendation: The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom


Here's a book that has been on my reading list for a long time. I finally had the opportunity to get my hand on a copy through PaperbookSwap.com. This much talked about book is just amazing, heart warming and caused me a few tears. It's a lovely little book that follows the main character, Eddie, through a series of meetings with people who have affected his life, after he dies. The last thing he remembers is two small hands linking with his, as he tries to save a young girl from an amusement park ride accident. Some of the five people he meets surprise him, as well as the settings in which he finds them.

This book really puts light on those of us who may feel we have a dull, boring life with no purpose.

Here's a book that makes a fantastic gift for anytime of the year. With all the horrible news recently we should all get a copy and read it.

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