Laundry Day!

Staying on top of the laundry can easily be a tough goal to fulfill. There is an efficient way to manage it and accomplish a large pile that has built up. Read further for our tips on the quickest way to stay on top of this constant chore!

The first step is to gather all of the dirty laundry in the home.  Place it near the washer and dryer so you can assess the situation and start sorting.

Next, sort laundry into groups by the type of water used to wash each.  Make piles for light, dark and delicate clothing. This will allow you to wash full loads and get through the laundry faster.  If you have very large loads, separate clothing by weight as well.  Jeans should remain together, towels could have their own load, perhaps another for light-weight t-shirts.  Bedding items can all go in together.

Finally, sort the clothing during the folding process, keeping separate piles for each person in the home. This allows all clothing to be pooled together during the wash rather than individual loads per person.  Fold and put away as they come out of the dryer so that the clean laundry never piles up! 

In order to make the chore of laundry easier in the future, place designated hampers in areas of the home that make it simple for family members to discard dirty clothing. Searching for dirty laundry and gathering it up takes quite a bit of time. This can save you ten to twenty minutes each time.   The bathroom is a great place to locate hampers. This is the place where dirty clothes come off and where they can be easily collected.

We hope these tips will make laundry day more productive!

The Many Shades of White

If you look at the color ranges of farm fresh chicken eggs, you’ll see that even amongst white there are many shades. Shades of white can range from nearly pure white to whites subtly tinted with color. when you look at the spectrum of colors in a paint chart you can see the range of white that on its own look purely white but when placed side by side show their undertones of different shades.  When choosing white for walls, floors or furniture, there is a white for everyone and every room.

Creamy whites can be easier to live with than pure whites. Whites that have undertones of cream or yellow lend a warmer tone to a room. Off whites that have a slight tan or brown undertone can also warm up a space and are good choices for slipcovers and furnishings. Pure whites are better in hard surfaces like trim and cabinetry that can be easily cleaned. A pure white rug or carpet will show dirt more than a rug that is more off white or slightly tinted with neutral undertones. White slipcovers can be washed and even bleached, check with your slipcover’s labeling before bleaching.

Many people are afraid of using white in their décor. If this is you, take a look at those white paint chips or even farm fresh eggs. You’ll see that white can be more blue, or pink, or even green. Finding the right undertone to the white will make it work for your interior.  Whites can also be layered to create a subtle palette that has just a hint of color.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

When it comes to making turkey for holiday dinners the number one challenge is making sure to allow enough time for anything you want to accomplish. Among the most time consuming tasks is thawing a frozen turkey. Planning ahead is the best way to ensure the food is safe. Food safety must be a top priority when preparing to serve a large group. Meat is very susceptible to bacterial growth if the temperature is not well managed. Being prepared is also the best way to ensure that you don’t forget about it entirely and wind up with a still-frozen turkey on the big day!

Refrigerator Method

Remove the turkey from the freezer and leave it in its plastic wrapper. Place it in a shallow pan to catch the juices. Calculate roughly 24 hours of thawing for each 4 pounds of the turkey. We’ve included a simple guide: 

4-12 pounds = 1-3 days
12-16 pounds = 3-4 days
16-20 pounds = 4-5 days
20-24 pounds = 5-6 days

You can allow an additional 1-2 days in the schedule to store the turkey in the fridge after it thaws.

Cold Water Method:

This requires more work than just letting the turkey sit in the fridge for a few days. Remove it from the freezer and leave it in its plastic wrapper. Place it in a deep pan of water so that it is submerged. You can also use one side of the kitchen sink or a drink cooler. Plan to let it soak for 30 minutes per each pound of turkey. Important: Change the water every half hour until the bird is thawed completely.   We’ve included a simple guide:

4-12 pounds = 2-6 hours
12-16 pounds = 6-8 hours
16-20 pounds = 8-10 hours
20-24 pounds = 10-12 hours

With diligent attention to the water changes, your turkey should come out perfectly thawed and you can proceed with cooking!

How to Remove Eggnog Stains from Carpet

This is the time of year when eggnog is especially popular.  Sometimes accidents happen and they tend to be more prone to happen when there are holiday parties and gatherings.  Below are a few tips just in case you end up having to clean eggnog out of your carpet this season.

  • Use a non-flammable spot removal solution or dry cleaning solvent.  Do not directly pour solution onto the carpet.
  • Use a detergent solution by mixing ¼ teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent solution per one cup of lukewarm water.  Never use a stronger concentration.
  • Do not use a laundry detergent.
  • Rinse solution thoroughly to remove all residues.  You may have to rinse several times to achieve this.  Lukewarm tap water can be used for rinsing.
  • Using a vinegar solution by mixing one cup of white vinegar per two cups of water
  • Make sure to soak up all of the excess water when you’re finished cleaning

Always be sure to check with your manufacturer’s cleaning suggestions or consider calling a professional if you are unsure.  We hope you have a great holiday season, filled with a lot of celebrating and less cleaning!

Inexpensive Ways to Keep Kids Busy

It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to keep your child busy. All that is required is a little creativity on your part! If you are creative your child will learn to think outside of the box and learn to have fun with what they have.

Bubbles are so much fun for kids and adults. A large container of bubbles cost around $1. Making your own is possible but not recommended. Buy bubbles that are non-toxic and safe to play with. Use a paint tray to fill with bubble solution. Make your own bubble wands out of objects around the house. You can use wire coat hangers and twist ties. Have fun making different sized bubbles.

Sidewalk chalk is so much fun. There are many different types available for purchase. The multi-colored chalk is a favorite among kids! This activity will keep little ones busy for a while; or until they run out of space on the driveway! Make a Hop-Scotch course and play Tic-Tac-Toe. Incorporate game play with creative drawing!

The water hose is always a success. After you rinse down the driveway to clean away the sidewalk chalk, have fun spraying your little ones and let them spray you too! If you have a sprinkler, this is the perfect time to bring it out! This might be a good time to wash the car as well. Kids seem to love washing cars. Make a game out of it to see how clean you can get the car!

Build a fort using blankets and pillows. This is a fun activity for rainy days. Make a fort by covering furniture with blankets. Add pillows to the interior and read some books together. Pretend you are camping and talk about what sounds you might hear while camping.

Be creative and look for things around the house that can be used as toys. Coming up with fun activities sparks creativity within the child. It teaches them how to pretend and entertain themselves without phones, TV or the internet.

How to Remove Gravy Stains from Carpet

Solvent – A non-flammable spot removal solution, or dry cleaning type solvent, is preferred. Exercise caution when using a solvent. Never pour it directly onto the carpet or allow it to reach the backing, because it can damage the latex that holds the primary and secondary backings together. Acceptable solvents include Carbona®, Energine®, K2R®, Goof-Off®, etc.

Detergent Solution – Mix one fourth (1/4) teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent per one (1) cup of lukewarm water. NEVER USE A STRONGER CONCENTRATION! Thorough rinsing is necessary to remove detergent residues that may cause rapid soiling. It may be necessary to rinse with warm water several times to completely remove residues. (See Residue Precautions.) Care should be used in selecting a detergent. Never use a laundry detergent of any type, because laundry detergents may contain optical brighteners (flourescent dyes) that dye the fiber. Do not select an automatic dishwashing detergent because many contain bleaching agents that destroy dyes and some fibers.

Vinegar Solution – Mix one (1) cup of white vinegar per two (2) cups of water. White vinegar is a 5% acetic acid solution. It is used most often to lower the alkalinity caused by detergent solutions or alkaline spills.

Warm Water – Lukewarm tap water should be used in most cases to rinse the cleaning solutions from the fiber. Failure to completely rinse the solutions from the fiber may cause accelerated soiling.

Ammonia Solution – Mix one (1) tablespoon of household ammonia per cup of water. Please note: Be aware that ammonia, if used improperly, can cause a color change. Be sure to test a hidden area.

When in doubt, call a professional – Professional cleaners have the ability and the equipment to use more aggressive cleaning solutions to remove stubborn spills. Always consider consulting a professional cleaner regarding any spot removal question. Carpet and Rug Institute – 1-800-882-8846.

A Cozy Family Room Décor

Photo: Arena Cove

Whether you are decorating a family room for a new house or redecorating the one you have; there are some certain things to consider. A Family Room is most often a mixed-use type room. Normally it’s a place for the family to unwind at the end of the day, it’s sometimes used for family game nights and occasionally used to entertain guests while watching “The Big Game” on TV. At least once a year this space is used to accommodate an overflow of family guests during the holidays. The reason this type of room is considered “mixed-use” is because it’s casual, comfortable, has the most seating, and the best TV to watch. When decorating this type of room, keep function and comfort as your top two priorities.
Wall color should be an inviting color in a warm tone, such as tan, gold, rust, or an earth tone green. The color of the walls has a way of setting the tone immediately. It provides a warm setting and compliments other warm furnishings in the room.

Occasional and accent furniture (coffee tables etc.) look best in this type of setting when they are made of wood and finished with a darker stain with light distressing. The sheen of the stain used should be more honed and less polished. This will ensure added warmth to the space as well as hide knicks and scratches.
Lighting in a family room is very important. Select lighting that puts out a warm glow. Overhead lighting should be able to dim. This is important because in one instance you may need more light while playing games, on the other hand having lighting with dimming capabilities is nice to have when watching a movie.

Accessories should include collections of books, family photos in frames on tables as well as on the walls. Take advantage of a family room by highlighting memories made by family members.
Keep in mind that all furnishings in a family room should be comfortable, durable, and functional. It is also nice to have plenty of storage for winter blankets, games, etc.!

Parmesan and Fig Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There is nothing quite like the grilled cheese sandwich. Pleasing to children and adults alike grilled cheese sandwiches are the surefire way to bring your family together for a satisfying meal.

There are many different ways to invent this classic meal and some might even say that there is no way to cook grilled cheese the wrong way. But there are ways to add a little spice and pizzazz to your take on it that can spice up the “old” grilled cheese.

In this recipe we use sourdough bread to give the wrappings more flavor and sturdiness with which to build on. Next we make sure to have grated or shaved Parmesan and white cheddar cheese to give a sharp and distinctive flavor that is sure to please. Use as much or as little as you like, it all depends on personal preference when building your perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

The twist comes with the fig jam that adds a punch of flavor and works to balance out the sharpness of the cheese. You could add a different flavored jam if you like here, it’s always fun to play around to see what works best for your family’s preferences. Finally add a handful of arugula to add freshness to the sandwich – balsamic vinegar is optional to top it all off.

This is a grilled cheese sandwich that is sure to please and with ingredients that can be played with to make sure that the recipe is always an original and crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

Total Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Parmesan and Fig Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • Sourdough bread slices (adjust for quantity needed)
  • Grated or shaved parmesan cheese (fresh)
  • Sliced white cheddar cheese (fresh)
  • Fig jam (or adjust with your favorite jam if desired)
  • A handful of arugula
  • Butter
  • Optional: balsamic vinegar

Directions: 

  1. Butter the bread on the sides that will be grilled. You can either grill these sandwiches in a frying pan or with a Panini press.
  2. Assemble the sandwiches with the desired amount of cheese, a light spread of the fig jam, arugula and balsamic vinegar if desired.
  3. Place the sandwiches in the pan and grill both sides until golden brown. Be sure to periodically check to ensure that they don’t overcook. If using a Panini press, close and let cook for 3-4 minutes on medium to high heat. Check the color after this and if needed continue to cook until golden brown.
  4. Once done, let sit for 2 minutes. Afterwards, slice in half and serve.

Decorating the Laundry Room

There are a few rooms in our home that we don’t really think about decorating. Hallways and powder rooms are two of them, but perhaps the most neglected room in our homes is the laundry room.  Despite spending hours every week in the laundry room, we rarely think to decorate this room. Maybe if we added some design style to the laundry room it might make doing laundry a little bit more enjoyable! Maybe? Probably not, but having a pretty laundry room might help us dread the task a little less.

If you have a laundry room on the second floor or main floor of your home, you probably already have finished flooring in the room. Basement laundry rooms tend to have cement floors. Adding laminate or tile to a basement laundry room floor would make the space feel more like a finished room.

Painting the walls of the laundry room a happy color you love could improve your mood when you are in the room.  This is especially true for basement laundry rooms. Cabinets can be painted or replaced with more stylish cabinet doors.  Open shelves can be put up to store laundry supplies in pretty glass jars.  A folding drawer or cabinet makes drying sweaters neater and keeps the room less cluttered.

Adding a chandelier or other fun hanging light can give an extra bit of style to the utilitarian room. If your laundry room has a window, put up decorative window treatments like cafe curtains or roman shades.

Pet Feeding Stations

Don’t worry, we aren’t about to suggest something like this…

Our pets are part of our families. Our dogs and cats are like children with all of their toys and accessories. Pets are big business in America. Billions of dollars are spent every year on pets, food, toys, beds and even clothing for our dogs.  This industry means you can find the perfect solution for almost every need your pet may have. The perfect water bowl and food dish are the start of a charming pet feeding station in your kitchen.

Creating a pet zone in your home can help control the clutter that comes with having a dog or cat. Designing a pet feeding station in the kitchen or mudroom will help organize all of your pets food needs into one place, saving you valuable floor and counter space. Floor space is at a premium in most kitchens. Finding a place for Fido’s or Fifi’s water bowl and food dish that isn’t in a major traffic pattern can be tricky.  Set up a food station that is out of the main foot traffic to avoid spilling water and kibble all over your kitchen floors.  A simple mat under the food and water can protect your floors from spills and messes.

If you have a walk-in pantry you might want to set up the feeding station in there. Keeping pet food in containers or bins can also make things neater and more organized on the shelf or in a cupboard. If you have the room next to the food dish, you might want to keep a pretty canister or bin there.