How to Properly Clean Your Countertops

Stone countertops are a beautiful addition to any home. Their intricate designs and patterns bring a touch of nature indoors while their hard surface can stand strong against just about any task. However, over time, everyday wear and tear can take its toll on countertops. If you neglect to take care of them, they may lose their shine, become scratched, stained, and begin to cloud. And while they may still do the job that they are intended to do, you will have lost that beautiful touch of nature in your home’s design. Some stone requires more maintenance than others, but overall, cleaning and maintaining your stone countertop is a reasonably easy job, if you keep up with it.

Quartz

Beginning with the lowest maintenance of the three countertops, Quartz requires very little routine-maintenance. Warm water and dish soap are all that are needed to clean daily spills and stains that your Quartz countertop will endure. Denatured/isopropyl alcohol is handy for those stubborn stains that you are unable to get out with just soap and water. If your countertop is looking a bit lackluster, a simple glass cleaner can be used to restore it to its original splendor.

Granite

Granite holds the maintenance middle ground between Quartz and Marble. The first step is ensuring your countertop has been properly sealed. If it was recently installed, it is likely that it has already been sealed, but if not, you should purchase a sealant for it. Most sealants last 10-15 years, so this is not a step you will have to repeat often.

Once your Granite is sealed, the maintenance is similar to Quartz. Washing it daily with warm water and soap is still recommended, but make sure you use a PH neutral soap. Any soap or cleaner with an acid-base will eat through the sealant over time, this means staying away from most glass cleaners as well. Baking soda and water will take care of any oil-based stains that you cannot get out with soap and water, and baking soda plus hydrogen peroxide will take care of any water-based ones. If your counter begins to lose its shine, it is recommended to buy a polish intended for Granite.

Marble

Marble may require the most care from these three stone options, but it is still by no means challenging to maintain. Like the Granite, Marble requires a sealant, but it needs to be sealed on a more regular basis, at least once a year is recommended. Marble is even more sensitive than Granite is to scratches and to acids, so be sure to use a nonabrasive sponge or towel and a neutral, mild soap to clean it daily. When faced with more difficult stains, you can use a stronger cleaning product and a more abrasive sponge; just make sure you have sealant ready because the cleaner will take the sealant along with the stain.

A well-maintained countertop can look exquisite and last a lifetime. Make sure you know how to care for your countertops to ensure they stay beautiful and resistant to your everyday wear and tear. Any additional care ideas that you may have can be posted below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!

Gas Versus Electric Stovetops

The stove is an essential element of any kitchen. Your stove can serve many purposes for cooking all sorts of meals. When it comes down to which stove is right for you, there are two general stovetops to consider: electric or gas. Both are excellent choices, but like anything, they come with their own sets of pros and cons. You will want to consider both options and look at which set up may be more ideal for your home.

Electric

Electric stoves are generally going to cost less money. Typically, most houses are preset to have an electric stove installed in the kitchen. They are easy to clean with a very smooth surface. They can also turn on by simply turning a dial and do not require an ignition. Electric stoves also have more even heat distribution. This feature can allow you to monitor your cooking easier. However, they do require a power source and use electricity. They are also not as durable as their counter comparison, the gas stove.

Gas

Gas stoves are very durable. They do not need a power source where the electric ranges do. With a flame present, they are much quicker at delivering instant heat. Also, they cool down faster, which can allow you to leave food on the stove after you are done cooking without overcooking it. Plus, if you like to broil food, gas ranges are excellent at applying direct heat in partial areas. Yet, the heat distribution is most prominent wherever the flames are present. This feature can also become a setback. You must have the flame present while cooking, which can also be annoying if you have a fan going or open windows. Gas ranges are also more challenging to clean and have an uneven surface in comparison. If your home does not have a gas line present, you will need to install one to have a gas range. This can be an additional cost to consider with an already-pricier stovetop.

Ultimately, it comes down to preferences. Some people prefer the authenticity of the open flame on a gas range, while others may like the simplicity of an electric stove. Which stovetop do you prefer? Let us know below in the comment section.

Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops

There are many great countertop options to choose from on the market today. Granite is the number one desired countertop solution. It is highly durable and versatile. While this counter is excellent, it is not flawless. Understanding how this countertop system works and functions can help you decide if it is the right fit for your home.

Pro – Durability

Granite is extremely durable. Although not recommended, you can directly cut with a knife on the surface without damaging it. Additionally, you can also set hot pans right on it without hurting the material. This makes it perfect for the kitchen and bathroom! That being said, you should be cautious about hot materials and not using a cutting board.

Con – Cost

Granite is extremely desirable in many households, and it can increase its market value. However, it is not the most affordable countertop solution out there on the market. That being said, these countertops are made to last, so they may be better in the long run.

Pro – Easy to Clean and Disinfect

Granite is very easy to wipe down and disinfect. This feature can prevent bacterial contamination in your kitchen and keep your home a cleaner place.

Con – Heavy

Granite is, by no surprise, very heavy. This characteristic means you may need to have support installed on your countertops. You can also break your counters if you stand on them near a ledge or a weak area.

Pro – Aesthetics

It is no secret that granite is beautiful. In fact, granite has a lot of character and looks great in any home. Its spectacle look can adapt to various design styles, making it a versatile material.

Con – Maintenance

Granite needs annual maintenance. The material is porous and is vulnerable to staining. This is why it is imperative to have your countertops sealed. Your sealant will wear over time and will need to be refinished once or twice every year for the life of the product.

All in all, granite is beautiful and can help increase your home’s market value. Homeowners believe its many pros outweigh its minor cons. Plus, it will work great in your bathroom or kitchen and is extremely versatile. Understanding it can help you better decide if it is right for your home.

The Essentials: Creating Your Spice Cabinet

Your culinary journey begins in your kitchen. The endless possibilities of foods are at your disposal with the right spices and knowledge. If you are just beginning to create your spice cabinet, there are thousands of spices to explore. However, becoming familiar with a handful of spices can go along way. Here are the top ten spices to begin with when creating your spice cabinet.

Basil

This herb is an excellent start to your spice rack or cabinet. Basil is perfect for helping to spruce up sauces or many Mediterranean cuisines. If you really want to get the full flavor of this excellent herb, you can also invest in fresh basil to keep in your refrigerator or grow your own.

Cayenne Pepper

This pepper is a Capsicum Annuum. It is typically grounded up into a fine powder to use to add spice to food. Try adding cayenne pepper to any dish you are looking to zest up the flavor.

Cilantro

Also known as Chinese parsley, this leafy herb is potent. It can give a distinct flavor to many dishes. Cilantro has a much bolder flavor than parsley. It is also great for bone and heart health, as well.

Cinnamon

Another spice you should have on hand is cinnamon. Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees. It has been used in different cuisines for thousands of years while being a staple in many dessert dishes and pairs excellent with sugar. It also has many health benefits from anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and lowers blood sugar levels.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is another great spice. It is rich in antioxidants and tastes great. Plus, it can be used in coffee or other dairy-based dishes. Typically, it is used in combination with cinnamon for holiday sweets.

Onion Powder

Onion powder is a very useful spice in the kitchen. Use this to help add the delectable flavor of onions evenly throughout an entire dish.

Oregano

Oregano is excellent to add to sauces or pizza. This herb strongly complements tomato-based dishes. It also is loaded with antioxidants and an excellent source of fiber.

Parsley

Parsley is a milder herb than cilantro. It can be used to accentuate Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisines. Parsley is mildly bitter yet helps lifts the natural flavors in your dish.

Rosemary

This is great for a wide variety of dishes from soups and salads or chicken and fish. Rosemary can help improve digestion and is very versatile. With its distinct lemon-pine flavor, it can easily brighten up any dish you make in the kitchen.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is essential for many baking recipes. It goes great with almost any dessert that you are looking to create. Help make a bland cake taste delicious with this powerful extract.

There are still hundreds of more spices to explore. These spices are great for kickstarting your spice cabinet and beginning your seasoning adventures. What are some of your favorite spices that we did not mention? Let us know below in the comment section!

Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen Sink

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and creating your dream kitchen can express your style and design. From mesmerizing backsplashes to intricately designed appliances, your kitchen can quickly become the most stunning part of your home. However, nothing takes away from this dream oasis quite like clutter, and one spot reigns notorious overall in this category: the sink. Having a messy sink is easy. We usually eat three times a day and sometimes feed more than one person a meal, so this can quickly become an eyesore if not taken care of correctly. However, some simple kitchen sink organization skills can help have your sink looking clean and less cluttered. Today, we will break down the three ways to organize your sink and keep it clean and crisp all year. Let’s take a look!

The Essentials 

Your kitchen sink most likely has some critical components which you use daily when washing your dishes. For instance, you may have a soap dispenser, maybe a plug near the sink, and perhaps a drying towel, and even a scrub brush. If you can tuck any of these away in your drawers, take advantage of the space. If not, have a clean and organized set up of where these items belong and assign them to it as their “home” spot. 

Drying Area 

The next key spot is your drying rack. If you have a dishwasher, you do not need to worry about this. However, if you do not have this amenity or have wooden or plastic utensils, you will need to designate an area for drying. Some drying racks can connect right into your sink. Make sure these areas never become cluttered. The drying area is easy to allow items to overstay their welcome, but use your drying towel and have the dishes and utensils back to their homes before leaving the kitchen.

Down Below 

Under the sink is a useful area. You can store your trash, recycling, cleaners, and other kitchen supplies. In fact, this is where your extra cleaning material should go when you do not use them daily. If you have small children, you may need to put a locking mechanism on this cabinet as well. Extra sponges, cup cleaners, and stain removers can all reside happily underneath your sink until needed. 

It is easy to allow your kitchen to become cluttered since we tend to use it every day. That being said, do not let this become the downfall of your beautiful kitchen. Take pride in your kitchen and allow this heart of your home to warm your whole household.

Five Places to Hang Your Dish Towel

From drying the dishes to wiping down the counters, dish towels are essential tools in kitchens. While you use the dishtowel every day, you may run across the issue of storing it. Finding a spot to hang the dishtowel sounds relatively simple, but if you want to make sure it is nearby at a moment’s notice, here are some of your options:

Hanging It on the Sink’s Edge

Perhaps the most common place you will see a dishtowel is hanging on the sink’s edge. However, this only works if you have a double sink with one section having the faucet pointed at it and the other side being a washing basin. Hanging the dishtowel on a regular sink can be a bit impractical because it will get wet up every time you turn on the faucet; therefore, this solution is best for double sink kitchens.

Wall Rack

An excellent way to store your dishtowels is by using a wall rack. It provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your dish towels, even the ones that are not currently in rotation and keep them organized so you will always know where to reach when you need it. You can purchase a quality rack with decorative elements from your local home goods outlets or at the thrift store. Make sure the wall has a moisture-proof finish so that the water from the cloth does not cause the painting in that spot to erode.

Towel Bar

If you have a sink that is equipped with a towel bar, it can be the ideal spot to hang your dish towel once you are finished using it. If not, you can easily install one nearby to have your towels handy.

Dishwasher or Range Handle

You will find that most dishwashers and stoves have handles that make for the handiest spots to hang a light towel. Usually, the dishwasher is located right next to the sink, which means you can just reach down to grab it when you are drying dishes. The range handle is an ideal spot as well because we have all used a dish towel to take out hot pots from the oven.

Towel Hook or Bar

Consider installing a towel hook or bar right above the sink. Or you can get creative and install a wooden or metal bar on the side of the island. The options are truly endless!

Do you have any creative ways to hang your dish towels? We would love to hear your thoughts below in the comment section.

Simple yet Stylish Kitchen Decor Ideas

We have all seen those kitchens that are effortless perfection. Somehow, their design practically melts together without any effort, and you are curious as to how they do it. Well, you came to the right place! With our expert tips, you can decorate a sleek, stylish kitchen on a reasonable budget in no time. 

Simple yet Stylish Kitchen Decor Ideas: 

  • Appreciate Stylish Appliances

Whether you have a colorful mixer or a stainless steel toaster, appliances can be used as functional decor pieces. Homeowners should incorporate their most beautiful and often-used appliances in their countertop decor. This helps make the kitchen more functional and gives it a lived-in look. Plus, it supplies you with extra storage inside of your cabinets. 

  • Create a Coffee Bar

Everyone loves a good coffee bar; you should incorporate one into your kitchen’s design. You can simply add a decorative tray with essential coffee making items on a corner of your countertop and voila, you have a custom coffee bar. 

  • Cue Cutting Boards

Invest in some beautiful, good quality cutting boards and you will never regret it a day in your life. Cutting boards make for gorgeous decor and allow homeowners to chop up food at a moment’s notice. Cutting boards are a necessity for kitchen decor. 

  • Books on Books

Books are not only meant for libraries, but they make for trendy decor. You can use cookbooks or purchase some old books from antique shop to achieve this look. If you find the cookbooks to be a bit of an eyesore, try recovering the books yourself. You can wrap them in beautiful wrapping paper to add a touch of design to their covers. 

  • Put out Plants

Plants bring beauty into any space of the home, but especially the kitchen. Try planting a mini herb garden inside of your kitchen to bring in the outdoors. 

  • Cute Canisters

Place your salt, sugar, flour, and baking soda in adorable canisters that can be left out as decorations. This is the perfect solution for homeowners who love to cook and want access to the essential baking items. 

  • Always Add in Artwork

Find some of your favorite artwork and hang up in the kitchen. Most homeowners forget that the kitchen is a room like every other room; therefore, an artistic picture from your favorite local artist would look amazing on the wall. 

  • Finish off with Fruit and Flowers

Nothing says fresh like fruit and flowers. Display your weekly fresh fruit and flowers whenever possible to add the finishing touches to your kitchen decor. 

For more expert advice and style tips, be sure to check out our blog hub at https://proudtobuild.fultonhomes.com.  

Southwest Salad

Keeping things fresh when you are cooking is a one way to improve your health and making salads for your lunches and dinners is a great way to work towards this goal. So what do you do when you have those cravings for tacos or a burrito but can’t have it due to dietary restrictions? 

 

Transforming your favorite traditional flavors and dishes into a salad is one way you can have your cake and eat it too. Here we use mainly fresh produce throughout, with a few optional add-ons for those of us who aren’t trying to be as strict as others. The salad dressing is a yogurt based avocado and cilantro masterpiece that compliments this vibrant salad. The next time you feel yourself reaching for those tortilla chips and salsa, reach instead for your cutting board and vegetables and whip up this great alternative.

 

Ingredients:

1 bag of spinach

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 red onion

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

2 avocados

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1/4 cup of greek yogurt

1 clove of garlic

Lime juice

Shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese

Tortilla strips

Salt

 

  1. Wash all of your produce thoroughly. You will want to have a large bowl to throw everything into as you go.
  2. Begin prepping by removing the spinach stems and adding as much as you prefer. 
  3. Slice the red onions to your desired preference, personally, we think they work well diced or in long strips.
  4. Do the same with the bell peppers and toss all in your salad bowl.
  5. Remove the stems from the cilantro and dice up as much as you’d like to add to the salad. Try not to overdo it so that the cilantro doesn’t overpower the other flavors.
  6. Slice open the avocado and cut into chunks and add to salad. Save half of an avocado for the dressing.
  7. In a food processor combined the half of an avocado, yogurt, 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, garlic, a pinch of salt, and lime juice. Pulse until ingredients are properly blended and the consistency is smooth.
  8. Toss the salad with the dressing and to with desired amounts of cheese and tortilla strips. 

 

This is just one translation of a favorite dish turned into a delicious salad. Use your imagination when creating other salads and think about what ingredients you can put together to recreate a healthier version of your favorite recipes!

Garden Herbs

Summer is in full force which means cookouts, barbecues, and picnics! All of these activities can be improved with herbs right from your home garden. Do you not have herbs in your home garden? No worries, we have the perfect list of herbs for you to plant: 

 

The Six Must-Have Garden Herbs: 

  1. Basil. One of the most popular herbs that homeowners grow is basil. It is rich in nutrients and full of bold flavors. Basil is one of the most versatile herbs because it can be used fresh or dried! The meal possibilities are endless with basil from homemade pesto to basil tea! 

Pro-tip: While you are growing basil in your garden, pull out any flower stalks that begin to grow. By doing so, you will have the best-tasting basil. 

Meal Idea: There is nothing like a homemade margarita pizza with fresh basil. You and your loved ones will delight in the pizza’s simple yet bold taste. 

  1. Chives. Not only is this herb delicious, but it discourages mosquitoes and other unwanted insects from entering your garden bed. Chives are light yet tasty. Chefs compare their delicious taste to onions. 

Pro-tip: When preparing to take your chives to the kitchen, try to keep 1/2 inch of the chive’s stub in your garden to help keep it growing properly. 

Meal Idea: Want an easy dish to bring to your next party? Try making homemade sour cream and chive dip.

  1. Cilantro. You will get two opinions on cilantro: I love it or I hate it. People usually have very strong feelings about cilantro. If you are a cilantro lover, you must add this unique herb to your home garden. Plus, cilantro has several health benefits from aiding in digestion to reducing inflammation. 

Pro-tip: Throw out any dried, brown leaves from your cilantro plant to stimulate a healthy growth.

Meal Idea: Guacamole can be savory with a dash of cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper and diced tomatoes. The cilantro helps bring all these flavors together into an enticing Mexican dish. 

  1. Mint. Not only will its smell delight your senses, but mint’s versatility makes it the perfect herb. You can add mint into your favorite drink or even a sandwich. Mint can be delicious in a variety of different dishes, just try it out. 

Fun fact: Mint has beneficial properties that can be used to help to relieve headaches or sinus infections and can help with digestion. 

Meal Idea: In a water bottle, place a couple pieces of mint with sliced strawberries. The flavors will help you drink more water and aid your digestion. 

  1. Parsley. The herb that takes away bad breath and tastes delicious. You will notice that parsley has a more bitter taste than the other herbs, but it works well in all types of dishes. 

Meal Idea: How delectable does grilled steak with parsley sound? The next time you prepare a meal on the grill, try adding some parsley as a delicious garnish. 

  1. Rosemary. You will love this herb because of its versatility and bold flavors. Rosemary can be paired with meat, vegetables, nuts or bread. 

Meal Idea: Add rosemary sprigs to some olive oil and voila, you have a mouth-watering dipping sauce for your bread. 

 

Having an herb garden makes cooking all the better. You will love the fresh flavors and spice your herbs can add to a meal. 


Kitchen Organization 101

A kitchen holds a lot of importance in a household. A kitchen is so much more than just a place where you cook. Think about the memories you have made in the kitchen. Whether you were baking cookies with grandma or preparing your first meal in a new home, a kitchen can hold a lot of significance. Let us treat our kitchens with the respect they deserve by taking care of them. A clean, organized kitchen can allow you to make the memories you want with your friends, children, spouse, etc. So let us organize our kitchens to get the maximum use out of them: 

 

  1. Take it all out. Remove everything from your cabinets and drawers. There may be some items in there that you did not even know you still owned. Separate the items into different piles: keep, donate, and trash. Chipped, broken items can go into the trash and unused, good condition items can be donated. 
  2. Sort items. Make your kitchen more logical and convenient by sorting items based on what they are. For example: group your glassware together and put them in one area of the kitchen. 
  3. Make it convenient. Think about the layout of your kitchen and place items by where they can be easily used. For example, place baking items near the oven for easy access! Store items that are not frequently used up higher and items that are used daily within reach. 
  4. Label items. If you like to make homemade dressings, jams, or sauces, make sure you label the container with the date and what product is inside it. This can avoid future confusion for you and your family. 
  5. Place lids on top of their container. This will be a lifesaver when you are trying to store your leftovers. Whenever you wash a container and lid, make sure to put them back together for easy use in the future.  
  6. Divide the drawers. Drawer dividers can be extremely helpful for cooks because they save us from having to dig through drawers. You can divide your silverware, utensils, etc. It will help you find items fast and remove clutter. 

 

Time to get cooking and make some amazing memories! What are some of your favorite memories you made in the kitchen? Feel free to comment in the section below: