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


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




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.

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!



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.


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.

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.


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.

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.


Thursday, April 9, 2009


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.


    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.


  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


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,


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


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!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chores For Children

Chores for children. Yes, Spring/Easter recess is coming up, yet they still need to help around the house and perform some of their own daily chores before getting out to play all day.

Giving your kids chores is going to keep them in good habits for when school starts back up. Keep them in the mindset of work before play.

So this week’s challenge is to build a chore list for your kids. What type of chores and how many chores your children do depends on their ages. Heres a simple list of chores that you can choose from depending on age appropriateness.

Make beds: get kids in the habit of doing this first thing in the morning. Do not let them get into the habit of procrastinating! Pick up rooms- let them know that their bedrooms are to be picked up. No clothes on the floor, no toys everywhere, teach them to put things away, and have respect for their belongings.

Vacuum Most kids do not mind this chore. They may not do as good a job as you would do, but that’s ok. You can teach them what you want done, and how you would like it done.

Set the table This is a pretty easy task for kids of most ages. Even the little ones can set the table if you get out the dishes and cups for them.

Clear the table: I think it is important to teach children to bring their plates to the sink when they are done eating. And they can do Mom and Dads too. They can put away the milk, butter, salt and pepper, or whatever else may be on the table.

Clean the windows: Yes little kids love this job. Give them a spray bottle with some water in it and let them squirt away. With older kids you can give them a bottle with vinegar and water and teach them to do the windows/mirrors in the house the proper way.

Take out the garbage: Simple task for most kids. Even the little ones can grab the bathroom baskets and bedroom baskets for you.

Unload the dishwasher: Give the silverware to the little kids (not the knives of course), and let them put them in the proper place. Older kids should be able to unload a dishwasher with no problem.

Pulling weeds, mowing the lawn: Pulling weeds is a simple task for the little ones to keep them occupied while you are in the garden. Older kids can mow the lawn for Dad. It is also a great way for them to make some pocket money if they do it for some neighbors.

Use your imagination: Think of things for your kids to do. Make the chore chart/list and have a family meeting. Be sure to set times you want things done by.

I believe that kids having daily chores and then a few weekly tasks is a great lesson in work ethic. It teaches them responsibility, and gives them skills in the process. So get the kids to work. Let them help out. The sooner all the daily chores are done, the sooner everyone can go out and play! Make sure they learn about first, play later!