Monday, December 21, 2009

CHRISTMAS CHECK LIST

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Your Holiday Schedule!
So much to do and so little time to do it! Don’t worry it will all get done! First things first you need to make your list! Yes another list. If your hosting Christmas Eve or Christmas Day your going to have to get in your shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning. No problem.

Friday: Start your list. What you need to do, and what day it needs to be done.
Saturday/Sunday: Make your shopping list and check it twice. You won’t have time to run out for anything at the last moment.
Saturday:
  • Clean the refrigerator out.
  • Go grocery shopping.
  • Go to the Liquor store.
  • Anything you can clean, chop, cut or slice do so before you even put it away. Like the celery for the stuffing, or the lettuce for salad. Clean it and chop it and put it in baggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store. This will save you a lot of time this week when its time to prep food.
Sunday:
  • Start cleaning. Concentrate on areas that your guest will be in. This is mostly going to be your living areas. Close the bedroom doors if you can’t get to them. Put a little extra effort into the powder room and the dining room. Be sure your kitchen is clean and sparkling. No one wants to walk into a dirty kitchen and then eat food from there!
  • If you have any last minute wrapping to do, get it done today.
  • Anything you can prep and make now do so. Many things can be done ahead of time. If you have any questions be sure to ask me or Robyn.
  • Set your table. Get it all set up and throw a sheet over it.
  • Figure out all your serving dishes and serving spoons now. I’ve said before, have a “go to table”. Place all your serving dishes there. Also put your coffee cups, creamer, sugar, to go containers, etc. Anything you may need or use that day put on or under this table. This way you (or your MIL) won’t be rummaging through cabinets looking for the gravy boat.
Monday:
  • Do any last minute cleaning today. If your hosting today, be sure you have fresh guest towels out and plenty of toilet paper in the bathroom. Give everything a quick once over.
  • Delegate. Give everyone something to do. Take out the garbage, set up chairs, unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, whatever needs doing. Make a list of what you need done and put someones name next to it. Let the family know that you expect these chores done by a certain time and specify that time! I usually send my husband out of the house on mindless errands like getting bread or ice. He tends to either get in the way or get on my nerves. So he is better off out of the house!
Friday:
  • If your hosting don’t wait till the last minute to start things. First thing you should do is give the house a quick clean up.
  • Take a shower
  • Start heating up foods you’ve already prepared.
  • Get your “bar” together. Put out glasses, ice, and wine. Put out your appetizers. Give yourself a glance in the mirror, apply some lipstick, put on a smile and greet your guests!
  • See how easy that was! All you need is a plan of attack. Make your list and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Relax and don’t forget to enjoy the holiday! You deserve it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TIS THE SEASON TO BE ORGANIZED

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Organization is the one thing that will get us through the season smiling and singing! As long as we stay on schedule we will get it all done in a timely manner!
With today being the first weeks of December, we really need to plan out our month. Sit down with a calendar and figure out what needs doing week by week first. Then you can break each week up into daily tasks.

Example:
1st week of December: Clean house, and decorate.
Monday: Clean and move furniture or box up non seasonal things to make room for decorations
Tues: Bring up decorations and begin to decorate all but the tree
Wed: Get tree and decorate
Thursday: Clean
Fri: Make list of anything needed like new wreath, extra lights, etc and make a trip to the store.
The key to these lists are we aren’t doing it all in one day. If we try and do it all in one day we will fall behind in our normal routines. If we fall behind in our routines the house will fall apart and we will have to play catch up. Do a bit at a time.
Each week have a specific plan and stick to it. Don’t try to decorate and make cookies and shop and wrap all in one week. Your house will be a wreck, the laundry will be a mountain, and you will be exhausted and worthless to your family. Break it down into enjoyable and doable tasks. Don’t try and do it all in one day, the rest of your chores still need to be done. Keep your list small. If you break it up into a task each day, the rest of the house will survive, you’ll have the time to still make dinner, the children will still be happy and you won’t become overwhelmed.
Try and keep your tasks all the same for the week. If your baking cookies, reserve the second week of December for baking. Know that you will have to take the time to prepare your recipe list. Search your pantry for needed ingredients, make a shopping list, go shopping and ultimately begin to bake. Remember to have storage containers and a place to store the cookies.
Save another week for shopping and wrapping and checking your lists twice! If your making gifts, set aside time this week to do it. Schedule it in.
Don’t forget to save a day each week for your cleaning. Don’t begin your holiday tasks until your daily chores are done. You will enjoy doing it much more if you don’t have 3 loads of laundry hanging over your head. Stay organized, stay on tasks, and don’t be lazy this month. We really don’t have time to lose as Christmas is now only 24 days away! Will you be ready in 3 weeks?

Friday, November 13, 2009

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Dear Dawn,

I have nearly 25 guests coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. I am panicking on what to do and when to do it. Help. I’ve never even made a turkey before!

Scared of turkey day!

Dear scared,

No need to panic. Look back on the posts that I've had up and follow as many of the tips that will help. My favorite source for recipes is WHATS COOKING? Robyn will have fabulous recipes up this weekend that will impress the pickiest eaters at your table! Rob makes real food, not the too fancy, 120 hard to find, never heard of ingredients, kind of food. This is the real deal, family food, like Mom and Grandma made. Of course with a little twist of her own, but that twist is what makes her recipes sooo good!! Check her out!! Take last weeks challenge and start a Thanksgiving Planner. Writing things down and doing as much in advance as possible will assure you peace of mind and a perfect day. One thing I would recommend is recruiting the help of an older relative or your mother. Trust me they love to answer questions and share all that they know. They’ve done this many times and can help. Keep checking in here and over at Robyns blog for all you need to do to be prepared. I’ll give you challenges to complete and lists to get through. If you didn’t follow the fall cleaning schedule than take this week to really get going. Especially the rooms that your company will be in like the dining room and the kitchen. The best advice I can give is to not get stressed. No one will win. Its not a contest. Everyone will enjoy themselves no matter what. The worse that could happen is you burn the turkey. So you order a pizza and you laugh about it. It will make a great story for years to come. So relax and be thankful for your family and enjoy the holiday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Holiday Full Of Traditions! Thanksgiving!!


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In my family we have a turkey platter that was given to my Mother from her mother. It is very ugly and its plastic. My Mother has since passed it and Thanksgiving on to me. It may be ugly and plastic but when I see it I think of Thanksgivings past. It has scratches all over it from the previous years of cutting up turkey and its turkey picture is fading fast. While I would love to get a new one, I couldn’t possibly part with the one I have. I think everyone in the family would miss it. So while I can’t or won’t get a new Turkey Platter, I do want to find something that will evoke memories of Thanksgiving in my home.

One of the things I love to do for Thanksgiving is decorate. I’m sure that seeing the same decorations each year will be memorable to my children and neices and family. I found these adorable Straw Turkeys at William Sonoma.

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I also plan to give my Mother (the official pie maker), this cute pumpkin pie baking dish, and then serve it on these adorable pumpkin pie plates. Found at Lillian Vernon. There are currently many fall decorating items on sale at Lillian Vernon also. Check out the centerpieces for your holiday table!

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One of the traditions I’m looking forward to starting this year is a family journal of thanks. I am buying this journal that I found on Amazon. I will have each family member write down what they are thankful for. Each year I will bring it out and we will all read and write in it after dinner. I think this will become a favorite and cherished tradition and also create a heirloom for future generations.

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So start your own family Thanksgiving traditions and make memories that will last a lifetime for your children. Create an atmosphere of love and family that will be sure to stir up warm and loving thoughts of this great holiday. Your family will be thankful for it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Planner

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Don’t you wish that your grandmother left you a guide to the holidays? Wouldn’t it be nice to just reach for a binder that she prepared for you with step by step instructions of how to create the perfect Thanksgiving, or to recreate her perfect Thanksgiving? Well how about we start our own guide for the children, grandchildren or your future daughter in law? I love this idea and think that it is not only useful but something that our children will someday cherish.

This week your tasks will be simple. I want you to go to the store and pick up a notebook/binder. This will be your Thanksgiving Guide. In this book you will have your guests list,menu, recipes, table settings, centerpieces, time line, dos and don’ts, Turkey Hot line number, and much more. This book is going to be a valuable resource every year. Eventually you will pass it down to your daughter or other member who takes over the Thanksgiving holiday. Its your torch to pass! You can get very creative with this.

What you need

A three ring binder

Dividers-Spend a little extra and get the thick dividers with pockets. How many you need depends on how many categories your going to have. I would start with ten.

Alternatively, you could use a large photo album. Whatever you think would best suit your needs and your vision of what you want this to look like.

Thats it! Now you can decorate it anyway you like. You may want to print some cute Thanksgiving Graphics for the cover and each section. Click on the graphics below to see some wonderful graphics I found online that you can print out for free to decorate your planner.

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For you girls who scrapbook, this is a fabulous time to get your creative juices flowing. Use lace, and ribbon, or old pictures, anything that makes this personal and pretty.

We will continue to create this wonderful reference book and heirloom next week! So lets get started with just this basic task and make a wonderful legacy for our children.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Get A Schedule, Get Rid Of Stress!




With the busy holiday season we can get a lot of stress. You can relieve some of this stress by knowing what your routine is. When your home is clean, you are automatically going to feel less stress. Remember that your family feeds off your stress level too. So create a calm and peaceful environment for them. Lead by example for your children!

Make a schedule and stick to it.
There should be a time for everything and everything will be done in it’s time.
Your children have due dates on homework and your husband has deadlines that he has to meet. Well as housewives, we too have deadlines and due dates. We have projects that need completing and jobs that need to be completed. Begin by looking what we do as a job and your attitude will automatically change.


When we were out in the workforce and held paying jobs, we had responsibilities. We were responsible to complete our work in a timely manner. We took a lunch hour and maybe two ten minute breaks in an eight-hour day.

As housewives, we have more control of our time, but we can sometimes be too lax in our scheduling. It is very easy to sit around in our pj’s and play on the computer in the mornings, and then before you know it its noon. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the beds are still unmade, and there is nothing out for dinner. Stress starts to creep in. Now were behind on our job. We must be extremely disciplined with ourselves. We are the managers of our homes. We should be managing it just as we would any business. A home that is maintained on schedules and routines will run smoothly. Find a routine that will suit your needs. We are all in different phases of our lives. Some have infants, some have school age children and some are empty nesters.

You have to have your morning routine. Making breakfasts, beds, cleaning up, getting dressed, and general daily tasks must be completed every day. Discipline yourself to get things done before you take your break. Doing things in the same order, every day and they will become habit.

Have your children on a very specific and disciplined routine. For my boys they get up at the same time every day. They make their beds, get dressed and then come downstairs for breakfast. They then go and brush their teeth, get their backpacks and are ready to go to school. There is never a change in this routine. They know what is expected of them in the mornings and they do it out of habit. When they come home from school, they put their backpacks away, sit down, have a snack, and talk about their day. Then they get their homework done. After homework, they have one or two small chores. They have free time when everything else is completed. They know what their routine is. There are no surprises.

Here are some tips to get you into good habits and routines

Make a list of what needs to be done everyday in each room

Make a schedule of what time each chore should be done. Give yourself a deadline for vacuuming the living room, or a “due date” to go grocery shopping. Make it the same for every day and every week.

Try to schedule doctor, hair or dentist appointments always on the same day. I always try to schedule appointments on Tuesdays.

Keep calendars for every member of your house. Both boys have their own calendar as do myself and husband. I also have a master calendar that I can put all appointments on. However, with individual calendars we can do a quick glance to see what is coming up for the week. The boys put due dates for projects on theirs, sports practice, birthday parties, and dr. appointments. This is something that is personal to everyone and you need to find what works for you and your family.

Create a chore list for each member of your household, and specify when you expect each of those chores to be done.

Do not procrastinate. It is essential to get things done when needed. If you put things off, you will get behind and you will become stressed. You will not be prepared for the curve balls that life throws us. Remember its easier to keep up than to catch up! Also remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

SAMPLE SCHEDULE
MON
Daily routine (wipe up bathrooms, make bed, straighten out house, load/unload dishwasher, laundry)
Clean our the refrigerator
Go grocery shopping
Do any vacuuming that may need done or mopping
Dinner
TUES
Daily routine
Go to any appt. scheduled
Project day. This is the day I will do out of the ordinary cleaning. Such as clean a cupboard, closet, or work out in the garden
Dinner
WED
Daily routine
Strip beds, and big clean the upstairs (bedrooms and bathrooms)
Dinner
THURS
Daily routine
Big clean the downstairs
Order out
FRI
Daily routine
Free day…I have it done for the weekend.
Dinner
SAT/SUN
Daily routines
Cooking, relaxing, reading, going out, boy’s games, family time etc.

This is every day every week, there is no change. I always know what I am doing and I am less stressed because of it. Remember, after doing something for 28 days in a row, it will become a habit.
Another good habit to get into is a night time routine. Have the kids pick out their clothes for the next day, have their back packs ready to go, any permission slips signed, lunch money ready, etc. Be sure they have a set bedtime and stick to it. Obviously there may be certain occasions where they stay up a bit late, but in general try and keep it the same each night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meal Planning! Save Time Save Money!

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Save time, save money and save your sanity.

How many times have you stood at the refrigerator staring at what’s inside trying to figure out a balanced meal?

Staring and staring and not coming up with anything better than crescent rolls stuffed with onions and pickles.

Stop driving yourself crazy at meal time and plan out your week with specials.

Restaurants do this to stay on a budget and to save time, and we can learn a thing or two from the way they prepare for their dinner rushes.

Each Sunday, scan your paper for sales and coupons. If you see that ground beef is on sale along with green peppers, make meatloaf one night.

Make your menu out for the week. Of course you can hop over to my friend, Robyns blog:

WHAT'S COOKING? She has delicious and easy recipes over there to give you inspiration and a change of pace! Be sure to try her Taste Of Home winning recipe for Pasta Primavera!


Once you have your menu written out, its time to clean out your refrigerator. Believe me it’s so easy to get to the store and wonder, “do I have eggs at home?” Of course you buy them just to be safe and when you get home you find a dozen eggs. Now you just spent money unnecessarily.

So the fridge is clean, and your menu is written out. Go through and figure out what ingredients you will need for each recipe. Be sure to check that you don’t already have something hidden behind the box of cereal in the pantry. And prepare your grocery list. Monday morning, go shopping. Get it done and out of the way for the rest of the week. Yes, your produce will stay fresh for the week. Remember that now you have at least 5-7 days worth of groceries and meals. Just because you wrote down meatloaf on Monday and chicken on Tuesday doesn’t mean that you have to stick to those days, you can easily switch it up. Be sure to have at least one light and easy meal planned. Soup and sandwiches are fine for the days that you’re really busy. You may even want to make extras just to keep in the freezer for super busy, or just plain lazy days!

When you get home from the store, washing all your produce before putting it away will save you a lot of time when its time to cook. You can even chop some things up and store them in the fridge for when you need them. Anything you can do ahead of time will save you time in the long run.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Eating Together As A Family

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Having dinner as a family is important. With so many schedules and time constraints I know this can be a challenge. But the benefits are so important. Studies have found that sitting together as a family for a meal is a simple, effective way to reduce the risk of youth substance abuse and to raise healthier children.


• Compared to teens that have frequent family dinners, those who rarely have family dinners are three-and-a-half times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana.
• Girls who have five or more meals a week with their families are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to full-fledged anorexia or abusing diet pills.
• Parental influence and involvement is an important tool in preventing substance abuse. Regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect with them and be involved with what is happening in their lives.


If sitting together really is impossible because of conflicting schedules there are still some things you can do. If your kids come home late from football practice, you and your husband can and should still sit with them while they have their meal. Sit down with a cup of coffee or dessert while they eat and talk with them. Use the same concept with your spouse. If he/she tends to come home 3 hours after you and the kids have had dinner, you can all sit with them at the table while they eat. Give the kids a nighttime snack while Mom/Dad is eating their dinner.


Talk with your children at the table. Discuss their day. Have each member of the family share their favorite part of that day and what was the hardest part of their day. Information and knowledge is power. Knowing whats going on in our children's lives is part of our job. Turn off the television. Get rid of distractions that take away from the discussions at the table. Talking to our children is important, but listening is just as important. Make the time special. Make it a time everyone in the family looks forward to. Here's some more tips to get you started.

Set a pretty table. Show that this is important to you. Use dishes, not paper plates. Set the table properly. This is a good time to teach your children how to set a table the proper way. You would be surprised how many kids have no clue what side of the dish a fork should go on, or where to place the drinking glass.

To set a basic table, you will need a dinner plate, glass, knife, fork, spoon and napkin. Heres a quick look at a casual but proper place setting.

  • A simple centerpiece, salt and pepper along with any other seasonings or condiments your family enjoys is a wonderful finishing touch.
  • Placemats or tablecloths are also a pretty and easy extra.
  • Place the dinner plates one inch from the edge of the table. If there is a pattern in the middle of the plate, make sure that it is right side.
  • Place the knife on the right side of the plate, blade inward, one inch from the edge of the table, handle end of knife at the bottom. Make sure the knife is next to the plate, not underneath the plate.
  • The tablespoon is placed next to the knife, also one inch from the bottom of the table.
  • The fork is place on the left side of the dinner plate one inch from the edge of the table, making sure it is also next to the plate verses underneath the plate.
  • The napkin is folded in half and placed next to the fork with the crease farthest away from the fork.
  • The glass is placed directly above the knife approximately one inch.

Centerpieces can be simple or elaborate, or fun and festive. Table setting themes are easy with seasonal items and seasonal napkins. Seasonal salt and pepper shakers can be purchased inexpensively. A bouquet of flowers, a ceramic object, pinecones, a toy, leaves, fruit, and almost anything else can be used as a centerpiece. Let your children take turns at picking out centerpieces or creating them! Children love making simple placemats from construction paper to go along with a theme. They can be colored, painted, or stamped. This is something the little ones can do while you prepare dinner.

When my children have friends over for dinner, almost all of them ask "do you eat like this every night?" They are amazed that we have dinner at the table, that its a homemade meal and that they actually enjoy it. I've had some of their mothers actually call me and ask how I do it with all the different schedules and time frames of everyone in the family. Simple I tell them. I make time. I am not Martha Stewart, don't get me wrong. We don't have to have a full dressed turkey dinner every night. We can even make a pizza night fun and memorable. Set your good china and stemware on your dining room table instead of the kitchen table. Get out the cloth napkins, pour gingerale into your stemware and light some candles. Pizza served in the dining room can be a fun and easy treat for your family. Its all about making the time and the effort. Sure its easier to grab some take out, set out some paper plates and call it a meal. But its not special, and its not going to create any lasting memories for your kids. Just a little more effort on your part and it will make a big difference in what our kids remember when they are older, and what they will continue on when they are parents.

Don’t let your kids just grab a plate and go to where ever they want in the house. Sitting together for a family meal is becoming a lost tradition. This is a great time of year to start getting back to the table. With the colder weather we can prepare good comfort foods, and gather around the table to share our days and to create tradition and memories for our children.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Organizing and Storage for your Kitchen!

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So much stuff, and so little place to put it! This week, lets really try and purge and organize our kitchens. It’s the heart of the home.

We’ve gotten under the sink and threw out the stuff that had made a home there for several years, and we got into the refrigerator and cleaned and organized that. This week lets concentrate on storage space. What storage space you say? Trust me, you have plenty! You just need to look at things a little different, and you need to purge some junk.

Do you have a back hall closet? Do you really need it? Really? Don’t just answer yes without thinking about it. I had two closets with one off the kitchen. I didn’t need two closets so I turned one into a pantry. I simply bought some shelves and started loading them up. Presto, I had a pantry. So maybe you don’t have an extra closet. How about your cupboards. Are they organized efficiently enough? Have you looked at different shelving you can add? Or dish racks to store the dishes upright instead of flat. How about hooks to hang the coffee mugs on?

Quick Tip: if you have a service of 12 dishes, and a family of four, store the rest of the dishes on a higher shelf. Don’t waste space, use it. Now that you only have four dishes on that shelf, put the dinner glasses near them. Make the shelf close to the dinner table to make setting the table less of a chore. Keep your silverware near there also. It took me about six different times of reorganizing my kitchen cupboards and drawers before I finally found the perfect set up. When we first move into a home, we think we know where we want to put things, but really, we don’t know the flow of the kitchen yet.

Don’t be stuck into what you started with. You can move things. Try something new. You may be surprised to find a way that works much more efficiently, and wonder why you didn’t think of it before! Now back to your storage. Really do you need three electric can openers? Do you even need one? I got rid of my electric can opener a long time ago. Big waste of space. Use a hand held one. I think they are a lot easier too! Big stuff doesn’t have to go into the bottom cabinets. We automatically just put them there. But if you only use your pasta machine two times a year, why let it take up valuable space. Put it in the pantry, the garage or even the basement. I keep my two large sauce pans in my pantry. While they will fit in my cupboards, they take up too much room and are bulky. So think about other areas that you can store rarely used items. Look for different racks and storage ideas at places like bed bath and beyond, or my favorite, the container store! Check out the ads on the right for some great savings. Next to any shoe store this is my favorite shopping place!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WHAT'S UNDER YOUR KITCHEN SINK?


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Under the kitchen sink. Scary I know. Go through and get this done and you'll be on your way to getting the rest of the kitchen spic and span for holiday baking and cooking!

What’s under your kitchen sink? Dried out sponges, and rusty cans of some unknown spray? Well time to open the doors and get it all out ladies.

  • Start by removing everything.
  • Wipe down the inside with a damp rag and a good cleanser.
  • Remember to do the walls and the insides of the cabinet doors too.
  • Before putting anything back in put down a rubber mat that can easily contain spills and dirt. Next time you clean in here, you just have to pull the mat out, scrub it down, rinse it off and put it back.

Now you have to decide what is going back in there. Keep things you use on a daily basis like dish soap and cleaning products there.

Other things like ant spray, or draino should go on a high shelf out in the garage. Keep the area for things you use on a regular basis only.

I keep my garbage on one side and my cleaning products on the other. The cleaning products are in a neat caddy with a handle that I can easily grab and go. I also keep my dish soap there. A small planter is used to hold sponges,scrubbies and rags. That’s pushed to the back since it’s not needed every day. Some over the door shelves make a great place for your sponge/dish scrubber and other things you use more than once a day, or just for some extra storage space.

Be sure to wipe everything down well before you put it back. If you have things in there that have not seen the light of day in a year, throw it out. Its either never going to get used, or is not any good anymore anyways.

Be sure to have child safety locks on your cabinets with cleaning supplies.

Post the poison control hotline on the inside of the cabinet in case of an emergency. (1-800-222-1222)

And remember never ever ever store food and cleaning products in the same cabinet!

FALL CLEANING LIST FOR KITCHEN!

Before we can begin to clean our kitchens we must first rid ourselves of the junk and clutter. Start with emptying out your cupboards onto your kitchen table. Only do the cupboards that hold dishes, glasses, and bowls to start. Don't make the mistake of dumping the entire contents of all the cupboards at once! You'll be overwhelmed and never get through it!! Start with one cupboard at a time! Go through each item. Either store, give away or sell duplicate items. You do not need 4 sets of measuring cups! Throw out old, broken, chipped, never used stuff. Store items that you do not use every day. If you only use your mix master during the holidays than store it down in the basement. Don't take up needed cupboard space if possible! The same thing goes for your counter items. Do they have to go on your counter? Are they taking up space that could be used for prepping and cooking? Remember that the more stuff on the counter, is the more stuff to clean, and cluttered counters never look pretty!

Vacuum and wipe down the insides of the cupboards.

Now is the perfect time to reorganize.

Before you start putting things back into the cabinets, be sure that this is where you want them to go.

Place things in cupboards near to where they will be used. For instance, glasses should be near the sink, dishwasher or table. Spices, near the stove but not right next to it. Cooking utensils should be near the stove. Your dishtowels should go near the sink, etc. You get the idea!!

Now only put back into the cupboard what you absolutely need. If it’s broken, chipped, or never used, throw it out or find a new place for it.
Continue doing this with all your cabinets and then move onto your drawers. Try and only empty one at a time, so not to overwhelm yourself.
Once you’ve cleaned and organized the cabinets and drawers you can begin to clean.

Here’s a checklist of chores that should be done

Chore Check List

Garbage Pail~ Give your pail a good scrubbing with hot soapy water on the inside and out. If the weather permits, do it out on the lawn with the hose.

Microwave~ To get the stains off the inside of a microwave put a quartered lemon in a bowl of water on high for five minutes. Grime then wipes off really easily and the oven smells fresh too.

Refrigerator~ Clean the inside, outside, underneath and top of the refrigerator. Don’t forget to vacuum the coils in the back and to remove the plastic grill in the front and scrub with soapy water.

Stove~ Clean the stove and oven. Pull it out and clean the sides, the back and underneath. Remove all the knobs and throw them in the dishwasher. You can put your drip pans and burner rings in there also. If you have a self cleaning oven set it and let it get to work. If you don’t, clean the inside of your oven. If you don’t want to use a commercial brand cleaner, try a homemade one. Baking soda and water made into a paste and a little elbow grease should do the trick. If your racks are very dirty, try throwing them into a large garbage bag with a cloth that’s been soaked in ammonia. Set it outside overnight and wash well in the morning with soap and water. They should sparkle. Don’t forget to clean your exhaust fan. The screens can be tossed into the dishwasher too.


Dishwasher~ Scrub the outside. The inside can be cleaned by simply wiping the inside down with mineral oil and then letting it run a full cycle with dishwasher soap. You can get the grooves and hard to reach areas with an old toothbrush!

Now is the time to give your small appliances a good cleaning too.
Toaster~ Give it a good scrub. Empty and clean the crumb tray. If your keeping it on your counter, think about placing it on a decorative tray to catch the crumbs. I myself keep mine in a bottom cabinet on a tray. Less junk on your counter means less cleaning!
Blender~ Just add a ½ tsp of white vinegar and fill ½ way with hot water. Turn it on and let blend clean!
Coffee maker~ Fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a full cycle. Repeat the cycle two more times with plain water.


Cabinets and drawers~ Clean the fronts of your cabinets and drawers. Don't forget to wipe down the tops of the doors too. Give the hardware a little shine too.
Light fixtures.~ Clean all the light fixtures in the kitchen and replace any needed bulbs.
Floors and woodwork.~ Clean the floors and the baseboards. Get into the corners really good!
Walls~ Don’t forget to remove any pictures you may have up. Clean the walls using a bucket of warm water soapy water and a sponge mop. Lay an old shower curtain on the floor where your working to pick up any drips.
Washables.~ Wash all your potholders, kitchen rugs, and aprons.
Countertops~. Be sure the counter tops are empty, and scrub and rinse well. Before putting things back onto the counter, scrub them and decide if you want to keep them up there. If you only use it occasionally you will be better off storing it.
Clean your windows and screens
• inspect your fire extinguisher

Monday, September 14, 2009

FALL CLEANING LIST FOR DINING ROOM

The holidays are approaching quickly. You don't want to spend time deep cleaning the dining room when you have 20 guests coming for Thanksgiving dinner. Your going to be busy doing other things! Get it deep cleaned now, and then stay on a weekly schedule of dusting and vacuuming and you'll be all set for hosting holiday dinners! From the chandelier to Grandmas china were going to clean it up and let it sparkle.

What to clean:

Chandelier. This is a great trick. You don’t have to remove all the crystals and clean them by hand. Put a plastic sheet or old shower curtain on the table and cover that with an absorbent towel. Now pour 4 Tbs of ammonia into 2/3 of a glass of white vinegar. Dip each individual crystal into the cup until it’s totally immersed. Let drip dry. If you choose to remove them, lay down a towel in your sink, fill it up with hot water and a little white vinegar. Let them soak, and give them a good rinse and polish with a soft cloth. Many people neglect this task, but it makes a huge difference when its done. Be sure to wipe down the rest of the hardware of your chandelier also.

Polishing your dining room table. The reason to polish your table is to bring out its luster, but to also remove deposits like smoke, grease, dust, etc. A great homemade furniture polish is 3 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon oil. If you don’t have lemon oil you can use 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 cup white vinegar. Apply with a damp cloth. Be sure to clean the legs of the table well and all the chairs too. Get a pretty fall center piece for the table to brighten the room.

Your walls and wallpaper. Clean walls and baseboard. If you have wallpaper in your dining room you can clean it as long as it’s not untreated paper. If you’re not sure, test a small spot in an inconspicuous place before beginning. If the color didn’t fade, run, bleed or disappear than you can wash it.
When washing wallpaper, start from the bottom and work your way up using warm water and a bit of hand dishwashing detergent on a well wrung sponge. Use as little water as possible. Rinse with a clean sponge dipped in cool water and then dry with absorbent cloth.

Your china cabinet. Thoroughly clean your china cabinet by removing all items, wiping the shelves and drawers out, and shining each piece before replacing it. While it’s empty is a good time to get behind it and clean the floor and baseboards. Don’t forget to clean the top and the glass doors.

Windows and curtains. Vacuum all your window treatments. If you can take them down and wash them do so. If they need to be dry cleaned bring them in. Check for local companies that will come right to your home and steam clean them for you. Clean your windows, the window sills, storm windows, and screens.

Floors and Rugs. If you can, get your rugs steamed cleaned. Either hire a local company or rent a steam cleaner. Concentrate on traffic areas and any stains.

Step back and admire your hard work! Now your ready to decorate for fall. Add a pretty autumn centerpiece, some warm fall colored candles, and get ready for the holidays!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fall Cleaning The Bedrooms




Here is a list of tasks that should be completed for each bedroom in your home. Even though the weather may be warm during the day right now, the nights are already getting cooler. Now is the time to get your bedrooms all toasty warm and clean for the cold winter nights. Where is your down comforter?
  • First before you even begin to clean anything. Get rid of the clutter. Go in with a garbage bag for the junk and a box for donations. You can’t properly clean a room if it’s a cluttered mess!
  • Strip the beds and vacuum the mattress. Remove the mattress and vacuum the box spring. While the mattress is off, dust and clean the slats that the mattress rests on. Return the mattress back to the bed only flip and turn it from its original position. Vacuum the new top. If you can get behind the bed, vacuum and dust well there. Move all the dressers away from the walls and vacuum and dust good behind them.
  • Dust and clean all the baseboards in the bedroom. Don’t forget the tops of the closet doors and the tops of the door frames too.
  • Remove the heating vents and cold air return vents in the room. Get your vacuum down as far as possible and clean them out. Wash the vents in hot soapy water and clean well. Replace them making sure that they are on tightly.
  • Wash all the walls of finger prints and smudges and marks.
  • Clean all the windows, inside and out. If you have removable storm windows, get them cleaned and install them now. Clean out the tracks in the windows of all the dust and grime.
  • Now is the time to get out the winter and fall clothes if you have them stored away. Go through the summer clothes from this year. If you didn’t wear it, get rid of it. Pack up the rest for storage. Leave out a few outfits for the remaining warm weather we have. Prepare three baskets, one for dry-cleaning, one for donating, and one for mending. Get those clothes set for storage ASAP.

  • Get into the closets and empty the floors. Remove everything and dust and vacuum your closet well. Get into the corners and the shelves and wipe down all the walls. You don’t want moths, beetles or spiders invading your clothes.
  • Clean out the insides of your dresser drawers also. Remove all the clothes, vacuum and wipe down all the drawers. Replace clothing neatly and place summer clothes in appropriate baskets or directly into storage.
  • Do all these steps in each bedroom this week. It will take a little more time than your usual cleaning but you will feel fabulous when its all done.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall cleaning the bathroom

Before you start to clean your bathroom, be sure to do a good declutter and re-organization!! Get rid of all the junk! The 5 brushes, old tubes of lipsticks, and other useless junk you don't need or use! Create baskets for each family member. Fill each basket with what they use daily. When its their turn in the bathroom, they just retrieve their basket and put it away when they are done. Its much easier to keep track of things this way also. When someone is running low on something, have it be their responsibility to let you know!! Keep your counters clutter free! The less you have on there, the less you have to clean. Keep it simple and down to one decorative item. Better yet, decorate with something that will be used. Such as bath salts, cotton balls, Q-tips, etc, in pretty apothacary jars!


HERE IS YOUR BATHROOM FALL CLEAN CHECK LIST!!!

  • Begin by removing everything from the bathroom. Take out all the rugs, the shower curtain, garbage pail, anything on the vanity, the hamper, and take down your blinds or drapes.
  • Wash drapes and bathroom rugs.
  • Remove the rubber mat from the tub/shower. Scrub the mat on both sides, rinse well. Most rubber mats can also be machine washed with bleach then hung to drip dry.
  • Spray down your shower/tub with your favorite cleaner and scrub well. Use a stiff scrub brush, or a tooth brush on the grout. If grout is mildew stained, try using a bleach pen to clean. Using car wax on tiles will leave a shine and help prevent water spots. If you prefer to use natural ingriedents for the tiles, you one part vinegar to 4 parts water, or stronger if needed. Rinse with clear water and buff dry with a soft twoel or coth to prevent streaking.
  • Sinks and Faucets. Clean these with your favorite products.
  • To clean a soap dish, put it right in the dishwasher
  • Toilet Bowls. Clean the interior with a commercial bowl cleaner, sudsy water, or mild cleanser, using a toilet bowl brush. Scrub all interior surfaces, especially the inside rim of the bowl and the trap. To disinfect the toilet, pour 1 cup of bleach into the water. Let stand for about 10 minutes; flush. Wipe down the exterior of the tank, bowl, and base with a sudsy cloth or sponge. Do the same for the seat(both sides), the cover, and hinges.
  • Mirrors. Clean the mirrors with your favorite cleaner.
  • Light fixtures. Clean all the light fixtures and change any bulbs that are needed.
  • Walls and baseboards. Clean walls with a warm water. If there is a build up of hair spray, simply use rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol also works to get the hairspray off the mirrors and other surfaces. Wipe down all the baseboards with a damp sponge. Be sure to wipe down the towel holders, toilet paper holder, light switches and outlets too.
  • Remove heating vent cover and clean well in hot soapy water with a scrub/wire brush. Use your vacuum hose to get as far into the vent as possible to clean it out.
  • Windows. Clean the inside and outside of the windows. Clean the tracts and also the storm windows if you have them. Don’t forget the window sill and the top window sill.
  • Floors. Vacuum floors really well. Then mop with a vinegar/water solution.
  • Cabinets. Wipe down all the fronts of the cabinets, and drawers. Polish the hardware. Open the doors and drawers to get any accumulated dust on the edges and in corners.
  • Wipe down the bathroom door, and the top of the bathroom door.

Now your ready to put it all back together. Before putting the same rugs and shower curtain back up. Check some sales to see if you can getsomething new and seasonal at a good price. Or maybe just a new soap dispenser, or guest towels. Get the room ready for company and for the holidays. Now reward yourself for a job well done. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with a relaxing bubble bath!

HONEY DO LIST FOR FALL CLEANING

HONEY DO FALL CLEANING CHECK LIST!

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Print this list out and hand it to your honey! While were getting things clean and cozy, they need to get things safe and maintained!

HONEY DO LIST

This is the list for the husbands to get accomplished this month!

  • If you have a pool and haven’t closed it up yet, now is the time!
  • Call a heating contractor for an annual furnace checkup and cleaning. If you have a gas or oil fired furnace, have the contractor check carbon monoxide emissions and examine the flue for leaks, which can send carbon monoxide gas into your home. If you have a gas-fired furnace, open the fire door periodically through the heating season when the flames are visible. They should be blue. If the you see yellow at all in the flame call your contractor, as the air/gas mix is incorrect and needs adjusting. Be sure the filters are changed often, depending on use.
  • Wood burning Fireplace. Check the flue for obstructions such as leaves or birds nests. On a sunny day, use a mirror or flashlight to look up the chimney through the open damper. If you see blockage, call a chimney sweeper. You should hire a chimney sweep at least once a year to clean soot from the flue and inspect it for cracks. You want to be assured that no flame will find its way to your houses’ framing through a crack. Also be sure that caked soot, which can cause a chimney fire is cleaned.
  • If your fireplace has warm air circulators embedded in the firebox walls, vacuum the ducts at the beginning of each heating season. Have any cracks in the firebox and hearth repaired!
  • If you have a gas fireplace, be sure to have a carbon monoxide monitor nearby, and check the batteries often.
    Cover the outside air conditioning unit to prevent rusting.

  • Weatherproofing. Weatherproof all the doors and windows in the house. Sealing leaks saves dollars! Don’t forget to check for drafts behind electrical outlets and light switches. You can easily seal them with expanding foam, which comes in a spray can.
  • Check gutters for blockages. Scrub the gutters and downspout surfaces with a stiff scrub brush and water. Inspect the inside of the gutter for signs of wear. Patch even the smallest pinhole before it grows. After you clean the gutters you can cut the time down next time by installing gutter guards. You can find them at any hardware store.
  • Lawn maintenance.
  • For the final mowing cut low, and rake up the cuttings. This discourages insects and bacteria that thrive in the tall blades during the winter. If you intend to reseed, do so in the fall, unless you live in the southern states when that should be done in the spring.
  • Replace batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

And anything else your wife needs done, do so with a smile!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall Cleaning the Coat Closet!


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I thought I would start out with one of the easier seasonal cleaning tasks. This will get us into the groove of getting the rest of the house up to snuff for the winter months and holiday season that is so close by!

It is that time of year when we need to get the heavier coats, sweaters and hats and gloves together. A place for the boots and scarves and mismatched mittens! Its also a great time to go through and donate all the warm coats you can. Times are tough for many families. And its getting colder and colder for the many homeless. Help out by donating those warm coats. Even if they have broken zippers or a split in a seam, many agencies will still take them and fix them before giving them away.

To begin with, start by completely emptying the closet of all its contents. Get in there with the vacuum cleaner and clean the walls, corners, floor and shelves. Then use a solution of water and mild soap or white vinegar to wipe the entire area down. Don’t forget to wipe down the pole, and then wash or vacuum the floor.
Before putting anything back into the closet, decide what you are going to keep.

If your Childs winter coat was getting a little snug, its not going to fit next year, get rid of it. If you have coats and jackets that need repaired zippers, or buttons sewed on, decide if you’re going to do this or if it will still be needing repair next year. If you don’t have time to repair them yourself, take it to the dry cleaner, most do simple zipper repairs. What else did you have stashed in that closet? Is it the best place to store it? Does it have a different home and somehow found its way there? Put things back where they belong. Throw out things that haven’t been used in the last year. Chances are its either junk or something someone else could use. Store the spring jackets and accessories somewhere else. If you lack a lot of storage space, try the vacuum sealed packs, there are special made ones just for coats. Then store away. Keep in the closet, winter coats, and umbrellas. Hang a plastic shoe rack that you can store a pair of slippers in to put on when you take your shoes off. You can also store more than just shoes in the pockets of these, such as flip flops, garden gloves, keys, camera, flashlights, etc. Have basket that hold mittens, gloves, hats and scarves for each family member. Invest in heavy wooden hangers. Throw out any wire hangers, and plastic broken hangers. The wooden ones will last forever, keep the closet looking neater, and hold up to heavier coats. A small shoe rack on the floor is perfect for the family to keep their shoes nice and neat. Put it on top of a small rubber mat to catch the dirt and water. It will be easier to remove the mat to clean then have to clean the whole floor. On the shelves if you have them, is a good place to store extra large appliances you don’t use daily, like the mixer or blender. If you have a large closet, you can store TV trays, your vacuum cleaner, board games, envelopes and stationary, phone books, blankets for picnics or fireworks, etc. Use your imagination and use the space wisely. Keep it clean and tidy by keeping on schedule and keeping good habits!

Friday, August 21, 2009

FALL CLEANING ANYONE???


I am a spring cleaner AND a Fall cleaner!! I love to batten down the hatches for the upcoming cold months. Get the home spic and span and extra cozy and homey for the holidays. Time to get the summer dust cleaned up, put away the patio furniture and get our homes all clean and warm! We'll start our Fall Cleaning Schedule in September. So for the next couple of weeks, go out and enjoy the last warm days of summer. So who is going to be with me in Fall Cleaning this year??

OFF TO SCHOOL


ITS OK TO CRY MAMA!!

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With school starting and us crying mommies sending our children off, I thought I would share some great poems with you, to remind yourself your not alone, you’re a great mommy, and they grow up so fast! So go ahead, print these out, make a cup of coffee and have yourself a good cry after you send the little ones off to school the first day! Get it out of your system and then next week we are back to work on Fall cleaning our homes! So you have a couple of things to cry about!!

Mom, do I start school today?
Everything will be strange and new,
Are you supposed to drop me off ?
But I’m not sure what to do.

I want to be a big boy
And not cry in front of you
Mom, why do your eyes look wet?
Are you sure you’re not crying too?

Aww, I’ll be a brave man, Mom
You have taught me what to do
You said do what the teacher says
And soon I’ll be back home with you.

I’ll learn to read and write and draw,
There’ll be new friends and games to play,
It’ll be ok, Mom, you can go
I think I’d like to stay.

I’m home, Mom! Where are you?
Come see what I have done!
I made a picture just for you!
Boy! School’s gonna be so much fun!
Nyoka Smith 2008

Preschool Survival Kit
The penny is to remind you that you are valuable
The star is to remind you to always try your best
The eraser is to remind you that it’s okay to make mistakes
The life saver is to let you know that you can always talk to me
The tissue is for drying your tears and those of others
The band-aid is to let you know that together we can make things better
The chocolate hug is to remind you that you are cared for
The sticker is to remind you that we always stick together
Author Unknown

“Why are you crying?” a young boy asked his Mom.
“Because I’m a woman” she told him.
“I don’t understand,” he said.
His Mom just hugged him and said, “And you never will, but that’s okay.”
Later the little boy asked his father, “Why does Mom seem to cry for no reason?”
“All women cry for no reason” was all his dad could say.
The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.
Finally, he put in a call to God. When God got back to him, he asked, “God, why do women cry so easily?”
God answered, “When I made woman, I decided she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet her arms gentle enough to give comfort. I gave her the inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times will come, even from her own children.
I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going and take care of her family and friends, even when everyone else gives up, through sickness and fatigue, without complaining. I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her badly. She has the very special power to make a child’s boo-boo feel better and to quell a teenager’s anxieties and fears. I gave her strength to care for her husband, despite faults, and I fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart. I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.
For all of this hard work, I also gave her a tear to shed. It is hers to use whenever needed and is her only weakness. When you see her cry, tell her how much you love her and all she does for everyone. And even though she may still cry, you will have made her heart feel good.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

good habits for your children



Are your children organized and efficient? Are you? Do they possess good study skills that will benefit them through school and through life? Do not wait to teach good habits. Be an example to your children in organization and efficiency. Lead by example. Here are some tips to help your child succeed in their education.

Have a place that they can call their own. Be it a desk, a small TV table with baskets set up underneath it, somewhere that they can keep all that is important pertaining to school. Some place they do not have to share with others.

  1. Let them set up the “work station” to their liking. Help them to pick out baskets, folders, pencils, paper; a calendar to write down assignment due dates etc.
  2. Make it a quiet place in the house. Do not have the TV or music on during homework/study time. Try to keep younger siblings occupied while your child is studying and doing homework. Keep distractions at a minimum to allow your child to focus.
  3. Have your child on a schedule of when they do their homework. Keep it consistent. I have always found that the kids do well if they come home, have a snack and get right to it. For one thing, it teaches them not to procrastinate. Secondly, they are still in that school mode, and it is easier for them to just get at it, and get it done.
  4. Get your children into the habit giving you papers that you need to see without you asking for them. It will teach them responsibility, and give them accountability.
  5. Help your child to keep their backpacks, folders, binders, and desk organized. Teach them to purge once a week anything that they do not need.
  6. Do not wait until Sunday night to do weekend homework. Get kids into the habit of getting it done on Friday after school. They will learn that it is smarter to do your work rather than have it hanging over your head all weekend. They will learn that work comes before play, and if it is a bigger assignment than they bargained for, they will not be trying to finish it at the last minute, and handing in poor quality work.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

teaching fire safety to your children



Teaching our children about fire safety and protecting our homes.

  • Get your family involved.
  • Teach your children evacuation techniques, in case of a fire.
  • Have a plan and practice it.
  • Have a fire drill this week and see how everyone does.
  • Use a stopwatch and time everyone.
  • Set the meeting place at the end of the driveway.
  • Teach the children what to do if they hear the smoke detector in the middle of the night.

We may not be able to get to our children, and they need to know what to do. There are ways of explaining and teaching them without scaring them. Here are 10 tips on teaching fire safety to children from about.com

  1. Escape Route Planning
    Designate two ways out of every room, if possible. Today’s media rooms (rooms created without windows) can create a particular fire entrapment issue, and parents should evaluate their home and establish a plan in those instances.
  2. Windows Are For More Than Fresh Air
    Make sure that windows are not stuck closed, that screens can be removed quickly, and that security bars can be opened. For parents in particular, if a child’s bedroom is upstairs, they should be able to complete these tasks in the event of an emergency.
  3. Second Floor Safety
    Escape ladders should be placed near second floor windows, and children should practice using them. For extremely young kids, a “mini-exercise” from a first-floor window can at least educate the child as to expectations.
  4. Feeling Way to Safety
    Children should practice feeling their way out of the home in the dark or with their eyes closed. Parents and providers can turn this into a game by blindfolding a child and placing in a room and asking them to feel their way to a designated area. Daycares and childcare providers can set it up as an obstacle course, and then provide cues and help so that when they reach a designated end point, a special treat awaits! (It could be as simple as lunch served outside!)
  5. 9-1-1 Is A Critical Teaching Skill
    Children show know how to call 911. Consider teaching a 911 song to reinforce the numbers (one option is sung to “Frere Jacques”): There’s a fire! There’s a fire! 9-1-1! 9-1-1! Call the fire department! Call the fire department! 9-1-1! 9-1-1! Reinforce this by letting them practice on an unplugged phone. Or, have them create telephones with large keypads they can practice on. (One crafty childcare provider uses the small sticky notes taped on a cardboard phone cutout.)
  6. Smoke Detectors 101
    Teach children about smoke detectors, why they are installed, how they work, and the sound that they make. Children need to be able to associate the sound going off with a fire as part of fire safety for kids. Adults should change batteries regularly to avoid having the alarm go off because batteries are running low, and risk frightening a child.
  7. Out Means Stay Out
    Teach children that once they are out of a burning house or building, they must go to the designated place and never, ever venture back in. If someone or a family pet is missing, they should inform a fire fighter or adult. There are too many tragedies that could have been avoided in the cases where an individual who has gotten out safely to venture back in the home or building, only to perish.
  8. It’s In The Touch
    Instruct kids how to check doors to see if they are hot, and if so, how to find another way out. Fire safety for kids includes having them find a towel to use for handling, touching or grabbing items to avoid burns, and to also use the towel or cover to protect their faces and cover their mouths.
  9. Stop, Drop and Roll
    Teach kids what to do in the event that their clothes catch fire. Make sure they understand “stop, drop and roll.” Many a fire-related injury could have been avoided or greatly minimized if a child heeded this advice instead of the natural instinct of running.
  10. Practice Monthly
    Practice your escape plan at least twice a year with children as part of fire safety for kids, preferably monthly. Families and providers should also practice fire drills and alter areas affected by fire.

Another great website for you children to play on and learn with games, coloring, puzzles, quizzes and more and they can even become a Jr Fire Marshal and download a certificate they can proudly display!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

gift ideas


Can’t decide what to get your cousin Betty for a shower present? Don’t want to give the same old thing? Check out the article on AOL for some great gift giving ideas.

Men's Diaper Bag …a diaper bag for Dads! Believe me hubby does not want to use the same one you do; he will feel like he’s carrying your purse. I had a couple of laughs reading the top ten wedding gift mistakes. I can relate to that one, as we received some atrocious gifts for our wedding too! Do not make that mistake, read the article for some great ideas.

Anniversary coming up? Do you know what the traditional and modern gifts are for the anniversary you will be celebrating? Great gift giving guide for every year! Print the article and slip it somewhere your husband is sure to notice!

Have a party to go to? Need an idea for a hostess gift and you don’t want to bring flowers…again? Try a basket with wine and dark chocolate! Don’t forget the men. They are the hosts too. How about a beer basket with some great salted pistachios and other yummy snacks.

Keep this article handy so you won’t be without ideas this summer. But be warned, that when word spread of your fabulous gift giving ideas, your mailbox will be filled with invitations!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

organizing those busy schedules


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I know you all think I’m organized and have it all together, right? HA. Not so. If I don’t write things down, it’s gone forever. Lost into the vast wasteland that is my brain! I have post it notes everywhere, and calendars for everyone in the family and a master calendar. With school coming up so fast, its time to get it together and get all those appointments written down, birthdays written down and other important dates. Get yourself a big white board calendar. You can use different colors for each child. With sports practices, and games, and fund raising events, and dr. and dentist appointments…good gracious, it’s too much to keep inside my frazzled brain! Don’t wait to mark things down till later, believe me you will forget! Keep it simple. Don’t go into a frenzy of spread sheets and graphs. All you need is a simple calendar.

A White board is great, different color markers for different people in the house, and a smaller calendar to put future dates on. Each month just take the smaller calendar and add them to the white board. You can use the white board for strictly the kids and their events, and use a smaller calendar for you and your husband, and for birthdays of friends, relatives etc. If you can find a white dry erase board with a corkboard attachment or magnet attachment, grab it. It’s perfect for the forms and permission slips your kids will be bringing home. Do not try and magnet all these things to your refrigerator. It will just end up lost and looks messy and overwhelming. So let’s get organized now, before we get unorganized!

Folders can be useful too if that’s what works for you. Have a binder for each child with their friends phone numbers, their sports schedule, homework or project schedule, pemission slips etc. You can go through it each night to review and get ready for the next day. Remember to keep your childrens papers separate from your papers and from the bills. Each member of your family should have their own space for these things. Don’t forget there are many websites that can be used to set up reminders. One cute site that’s free right now for the first 3 months is BigDates.com. You’ll get your own personal assistant Dottie, who will text message your phone with reminders of Dr. appts, anniversaries, birthdays and other important dates. Stay on top of things, write down appointments, and keep things organized and you will have a smooth school year. And your children will have a successful school year!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

cleaning the grill



Dear Dawn,
How should I prepare for summer cooking on the grill? How do I clean the grill racks or get the grill ready? Any tips?
Yucky grill and clueless

Dear clueless,
Before or after each grilling session, you should burn off any residue on the cooking grates by turning the grill on high and running it until the smoke stops. Then brush the grates with a brass wire grill brush. To keep your grill looking new, always clean up grease drippings on warming racks, control panels and all exterior surfaces after cooking. Use mild, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Stay away from any harsh cleaners as they can ruin the finish. Do not forget to change the drip pan occasionally. They sell replacement pans for grills in most hardware stores. Clean the bottom tray too. Remove the bottom tray from under the grill and place it over a trash can. Carefully scrape the inside with a one-inch putty knife, then was the tray in warm, soapy water. You can also use oven cleaner for the grill racks, but if you scrape them after each use, it should not be necessary. Happy Grilling!! What time should I be there for the bbq???


Email any questions you may have!! You never know, it might just get featured!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TEACHING CHILDREN MANNERS



This week , we are going to get our kids prepared to enter into the world with manners. Maybe they have just slacked off a bit , or maybe they are little and still learning. Whatever the case, manners are very important, as they reflect on us as parents. Manners will carry your child a long way. It shows respect, character, and a good upbringing. Its common courtesy. Thank you, please, your welcome, should be said by all in the household.

Telephone manners are also important. Nothing is worse than calling a friend and their child answers, “Yeah, who is this?” The proper etiquette is “May I tell her who’s calling?” not “who’s calling?” In addition, they shouldn’t be yelling “MA…PHONE”. Common courtesy should also be taught that when someone is on the phone, it is rude to interrupt. Give them a consequence for interrupting, and be sure to let them know you feel disrespected that they did not allow you time on the phone uninterrupted. Another suggestion for kids a bit older who like to interrupt. Do not stop your conversation, usher them out the door and lock it. Or usher them to their room and shut the door. Or go to the bathroom and lock the door and continue your conversation. If the kids are used to you stopping what you’re doing and listening to them, they will continue to pester you. If you basically ignore them…they will get it, trust me. It sounds harsh, but it is a lesson that they will learn and need to learn.

When you are done on the phone, then go get them and explain why you did what you did, and what you expect in the future.

Table manners are crucial. Your children should know to put the napkin in their lap, how to properly hold a fork and knife, not to talk with their mouths full, not to put their elbows on the table, the basics. Give it a shot this week; watch your kids while they are at the table. Would you be embarrassed to have them go to a friend’s house with their table manners?

Sending thank you cards is starting to become a lost manner. Teach your child the importance of recognizing someone when they do something for them or give them something.

Being helpful! Does your child help to pick up toys when they are at a friends home? Do they hold the door open for people? How about the simple greeting of "hello"? Does your child know the proper response when someone asks "how are you?", do they reply "I'm good, thank you, how are you?" Or do they look down at their feet and mumble something that resembles "good."?

Teach them, gently correct them, and gently remind them. Manners become habit, but there should still be feeling and actual sincerity behind the "thank yous" and "Please".

Be mindful of your manners this week and of your child’s. Remember we lead by example! Give gentle reminders to get them back into the swing of things. Remember that manners never go out of style.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

IRONING HINTS AND TIPS

DEAR DAWN!


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Dear Houswife Dawn,
I need help with ironing. Is there a right and wrong way? I’m sure there is, but I was never taught how to iron. Sometimes the clothes look worse than before I ironed them.
HELP!

Dear HELP,
There most definitely is a right and wrong way to iron. Let us just cover the basics for today.

  • Cotton fabrics require a high heat setting. If the fabric is heavily wrinkled, iron it first on the back, then on the front.
  • Rayon can be ironed on the wrong or the right side, but for best results, iron on the right side. Iron using low heat: high heat can burn the fabric.
  • For heavily wrinkled clothes, dampen a towel, lay the wrinkled fabric on the towel, and iron. The steam from both sides of the fabric will remove the wrinkles faster. This technique works well on cotton shirts and denim.
  • Remove clothes from the dryer and iron while they are still slightly damp to eliminate excess wrinkling. Iron delicate fabrics like polyester on the wrong side. Then if the iron should scorch or leave shiny spots on the fabric, it won’t show through to the front.
  • Use pressing cloths for delicate fabrics or fabrics with ornamentation. Lightweight towels or muslin cloth are perfect to use as pressing cloths.
  • Iron seams on the wrong side first, and when ironing a shirt, iron seams first to flatten them down nicely.
  • When ironing hems, stop ironing just short of the hem to avoid creating a line over it
  • Collars are difficult to iron. They should be ironed first on the wrong side, starting at the collar points. Work the iron in to the center point, leading with the point of the iron. Then flip over to the right side of the fabric and repeat the process. Don’t press down; instead, use the heat of the iron to glide over the fabric.
  • Line up sleeves and press the inside of the sleeve cuff first, letting the heat of the iron do the work. Stop the iron short of seam edges to prevent unwanted creases.
  • For large items such as tablecloths, don’t use the small end of the ironing board. Instead, lay the fabric (folded, if needed) across the big end of the board and press. Keep the fabric moving forward until it is ironed, then flip it over and press the other side.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Get Your Towels Scruffy To Fluffy & More Laundry Tips & Hints



When you Spring Clean your linen closet, don't throw out your scruffy towels until you try this trick. Its like getting brand new towels!

HOW TO GET YOUR SCRUFFY TOWELS FRESH AND FLUFFY AGAIN!

STOP USING ADDITIVES

Additives like fabric softener promise to improve the texture of your laundry, but often has the opposite effect. Additives build up in the thick terry cloth, weighing the threads down. This leads to less absorbent, crusty towels. Additives can be used periodically when your towels need a boost, but are counter-productive when used on a regular basis.


WHITE VINEGAR IN THE RINSE

Adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle will break down and remove chemical build up in towels. As your towels reach the rinse cycle, add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the wash. Residual vinegar odor is unlikely, but can be removed by rewashing the towels without detergent or chemicals.
REPEAT AS NEEDED

If the condition of your towels is improved, but not totally restored with one wash, repeat the process each time you wash your towels.

You should use white vinegar in your rinse cycle every few weeks to keep your towels soft and free of chemical build up.

SAVE MONEY WHEN DOING LAUNDRY

Do laundry during off hours like the early morning or late night. Check with your utility company to find out when that is.

Don’t overdo the detergent. If you find a lot of lint on your laundry, it’s a sign that you are using too much laundry detergent.

Set the washer for cold-water rinses to use less energy. You are using laundry detergent soap for washing, so you do not need hot water to kill germs. Liquid detergent does dissolve better in cold water.

Put up a clothesline. Your clothes will actually last longer because the dryer can’t wear down the fibers and the sunlight actually kills many odor-causing bacteria. And you will no longer have to spend money on laundry products that add “freshness”.

Use dish washing liquid for hand washables, then hang them on a portable clothes line in your bathtub. (These clothes lines can be bought at home improvement stores and have a line that retracts when you are not using it.)

Use your dishwasher to wash small items, such as children’s fiber lunch pails and sponges.

EXTEND YOU LAUNDRY SOAP FOR EVEN MORE SAVINGS!
Pre treat any stains with Spray and Wash or other favorite stain pre treament. Start your load of laundry. Use the cold water setting to save energy costs.
Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite liquid laundry soap plus 2 tablespoons of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (appx. 2.00 a box)(NOT BAKING SODA) and 2 tablespoons of ammonia. A coffee scoop is the perfect measuring device.
That’s it! You will save tons of money on laundry soap. This recipe makes your expensive liquid laundry soap last and last! Your clothes will hold their color better. They come out just as clean if not cleaner than just using the straight measuring cup of liquid laundry soap.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH AMMONIA OR VINEGAR…REALLY NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH ANYTHING!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

UPDATE YOUR CHILDRENS ROOM



Time For An Update??

Is it time to update your child’s bedroom?

Have they outgrown the cute bear theme from when they were 3 years old?

There are many benefits to updating the décor of your child’s room and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune!

  • One great benefit is they will more likely want to keep it looking in tip top shape if it’s their own.
  • You and your son/daughter can form a bond over the process of decorating.
  • Getting involved in the redecorating allows you to learn so much about your teen.
  • Your child will be excited about something other than the new season of The Hills.
  • Your helping your child to be creative.
  • You can set a budget and teach them the value of a dollar and how to get a good deal.
  • It’s a great time to let them make some decisions and be responsible for their space. Here’s some great and inexpensive ways to let your preteen or teen make their mark on their territory!

  1. A coat of paint. So they want neon pink or black walls. So what? Let them at it. Its only paint. While you may hate it, your child will love it and they will have to look at it everyday. Maybe you can compromise and paint a black or pink stripe or design.
  2. A new bedspread or comforter. While this could be your biggest expense, it will also be the one change that will make the most impact on the décor. Look for sales. Go on ebay or craigslist and find a deal.
  3. Curtains. Sheets and old table clothes can make great curtains. Look online for ideas on creative curtain rods, such as a long branch spray painted white. Instant chic!
  4. Repaint or refinish the furniture.
  5. Enlarge their favorite photos into poster size and frame them. Maybe create a collage of photos of their friends. Try looking on Kodak Gallery for some creative ideas that are budget friendly and still add great impact!
  6. While new carpeting may be out of the budget, how about a funky area rug. There are some very cool rugs geared towards teens that aren’t too expensive.

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    Cool colors in shag that kids love! Or maybe a zebra or leopard print! How about their favorite team?

  7. Wall tattoos are really big right now. There is everything from sports themed to rock and roll them to shopping for the future divas.

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  8. Check out JC Penneys for some fun ideas. They have a whole teen bedroom decor section!

Be sure to keep a hamper and a garbage pail in their room to help them stay organized and tidy.

Most of all, have fun with it. Let your teen make decisions and choices. Its their room, let it represent their style not yours!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Getting Your Kids To Keep Their Rooms Clean




I love when you, the readers of the blog write me!! Here's an email I received from Heather who is at her wits end with her teenage daughters bedroom!


Dear Dawn

Hi,

Any advice on organizing my 16 year old daughter’s bedroom. I’ve come to peace with the fact she has no intention of tidying or cleaning it, but I would still like to have a way to keep the mess “contained”.

Please let me know if you have a way to make her disorganized chaos into an organized one.

Thanks much,

Heather

***
Dear Heather,
Sounds like you have given up. My question to you is why? She is 16 years old and should be responsible to clean her room and keep it tidy at all times. Under no circumstances should she be allowed any extras if her room is not clean. You’re responsible for checking it daily.

Her bed should be made each day, and clothes hung up and put away. Perhaps you can meet her half way and tell her as long as she keeps it picked up and tidy all week, you will clean it, change sheets, dust, vacuum etc.

There is no reason that a 16 year old can’t keep her room neat. It’s our jobs to follow through and teach them responsibility. When they have their own homes then they can keep them any way they like, but while living under our roofs there will be rules to follow. If she argues or doesn’t do what is expected you have the control to take things away, or not let her go out until her room is cleaned. Your house, your rules!

I will suggest that you help her to organize and clean it up the first time. When its all picked up let her know this is the way you expect it to look at all times. Go through and toss clothes that don’t fit or she doesn’t wear, box up items that she’s outgrown but wants to keep.

Maybe freshening her room up with a coat of paint and letting her do a little decorating will motivate her to keep it clean and neat. Let her put her personality and mark on it. Check back for tomorrows article. We'll go over some great ideas to update your kids rooms!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

INDOOR HERB GARDEN



Growing herbs indoors is not only cost effective, but also a fun way to get your thumb a little green! Some of the easiest herbs to grow indoors are thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, chives, mint and sage.

There are several ways to start an indoor herb garden: transplanting store-bought or starting new ones from cuttings or seed.

You can start with seed, but it’s the messiest and not the most successful way. Here are the easiest and most effective ways to start an herb garden for your kitchen!

Stem Cutting

Stem cuttings are an easy method to grow herbs indoors. Use cut herbs available from a grocery store. Cut about six inches of a stem at the base of the plant.

Once the branch is cut, strip the foliage off the bottom so it won’t rot. A root should develop everywhere that a leaf or stem has grown. Place the cutting in a small jar or glass of water, and in no time you will see roots. When that happens, pot the cutting and let it grow. Remember that these cuttings need a sunny location, and the water should be changed out every day. This is also a great way to share herbs you may already have with friends. Wouldn’t an herb garden be a spectacular Mothers day gift for your Mom! Or better yet you’re Mother in law; she’ll see how great of a homemaker you really are!

The Easiest Way

If you don’t want to wait to grow plants from cuttings, you can have an herb garden now by purchasing live, grown plants from your local garden center. Keep plants in a sunny location with sufficient water. Once a week, feed them, using a diluted, organic fertilizer. . Also give your plants a periodic trimming as it helps them to branch out and grow more vigorously.

Being able to just snip some fresh herbs make cooking and your food so much better. I love using fresh basil and parsley in everything. If your children are helping with your indoor garden, a nice idea is to take some plain plant pots, and let the kids decorate them with paint, paper etc. to produce their own unique pots.

You can also think outside the box, I grow my basil in tomato cans.

  • Simply take a can and wash it well.
  • Turn it over and poke some holes in the bottom. A screw driver and hammer works well for this!
  • place some pepples in the bottom to form a single layer.
  • Fill with potting soil to fill the can 2/3 full
  • Remove a potted plant from its container and transplant into the can
  • Fill the edges with remaining potting soil and gently pat down. Don't make it too tight.
  • Place the can on a pretty coordinating plate to catch drainage
  • Add water to your newly planted herb!
You can also decorate cans to coordinate with your decor. Simply paint the can with a some acrylic base paint. Let it dry, and then paint desired colors and designs on it. Stripes, polka dots, or whatever suits your fancy. This is a great project for kids!

Did I mention how fabulous your kitchen will smell?

Once your herbs are established, and your area is free from frost or even cooler weather you can move them to your deck or patio if you would like. If your more ambitious, go ahead and plant them for an outdoor herb garden!

Get planting and send in your pictures. I’ll post the best of the best!

housewifehints@yahoo.com