Stove Burner Cleaning Tips

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Having a messy stove top is not only unattractive but can cause an effect on your cooking. Caked on gunk can make your kitchen smell, and can cause a fire hazard if any of the residue were to catch flame. Whether you’re using a gas or electric stove, with regular grates or glass top, keep your stove in it’s best condition by cleaning it regularly.

Methods for Cleaning Stove Burner Grates

The methods below can be useful but will depend on the about of work is necessary to get the job done. Like many other household chores, maintenance and prevention is always easier than deep cleaning. So, spend the time, get it cleaned right, and stay on top of future spills to prevent build-up.

Using Vinegar to Clean

This method is good for daily and light cleaning. Vinegar is a great cleaning agent that is useful for so many household chores. (And even, some of us crazies like the clean smell of vinegar as well!)

  • Apply vinegar to your burners with a spray bottle.
  • Allow the vinegar to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Then, wipe up!

It’s really as simple as that, provided that you catch the spill before it has time to set/get baked in.

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is another great household cleaning supply. It is granulated enough to cause some friction on surfaces, but gentle enough to not scratch surfaces. For hard stains,

  • Wash burners with soap and water to start with.
  • Make a paste with baking soda and water.
  • Cover the burners with the baking soda paste and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  • Scrub the burners afterwards.

For Glass Tops

For glass top stoves, you can purchase a cleanser specifically for that top. That cleanser is recommended so that you do not scratch the surface of your glass top. Scratched burners would cause uneven cooking surfaces and look unattractive.

  • Wipe with a microfiber cloth.
  • Use stove top cleanser as needed.
  • For caked on debris, scrape  GENTLY with a razor and then wipe with a cloth.
  • You never want to scrub your glass top and risk scratching it.

Texas Spring Gardening Tips

Texas Spring Gardening Tips

It’s so tempting to jump right into the spring season. But don’t jump in without reading some Texas spring gardening tips. Our weather has been so mild this winter, so the green thumb may be getting a little itchy. Whether you are just getting started or ready to develop a new hobby, it’s time to start planning and working on your spring garden.

Many people think they are no good at growing anything, leading to the name “brown thumb”. But, anyone can grow some basic crops, you just have to know a few essentials to get started.

So, check out these Texas spring gardening tips to prepare for your new garden. Let’s get growing!

Soil

You have to start with the ground. The soil is THE foundation of gardening and for healthy plants. If you have not been gardening previously, your soil will probably need nutrients. Compost will help add some of those nutrients so you can prepare your land for planting.

Drainage

Rainfall can be “unpredictable” to say the least. When planning your garden, you want to make sure its raised enough to prevent waterlogged plants in the event of a heavy rainy season. But, you also want to make sure it’s close enough to your faucets that you can access it with the water hose.

Sunshine

When you pick the plants you want to grow, look for their sunlight recommendations. Many vegetables require full sunlight at least 6 hours a day, so planting a garden under a huge oak tree wouldn’t be beneficial.

Use Proper Varieties

You want to choose plants that are adapted for the Texas weather (hello, heat in July). You’ll want to go to a nursery or gardening expert to find the best crops for your specific area. Also, you want to pick a variety of plants so that you have a selection.

Planting Time

Planting should occur after the last freeze. However, being in Texas, who knows WHEN that may occur. For some plants, it’s safe to wait a little longer. But, for others, like tomatoes, you may want to get a head start by planting indoors and transplanting later.

Don’t Overplant

It is so tempting to plant ALL of the seeds. But unless you’re feeding a large family or are planning on sharing, you don’t need rows and rows of okra and tomatoes. They WILL produce a lot. It can easily become overwhelming when it comes time to harvest.

Check for Pests and Weeds

With these things, prevention is way better than trying to maintain. Keep a look out for pests and weeds and stay on top of their treatments. Check your local gardening store for the best treatments before and during gardening season.

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Eliminate Sugar Ants in Your Home

Sugar ant infestations are a common problem in the Texan summers and not easily removed. Sugar ants are a simple pest, eating sweets and other food scraps left behind. The ant however, isn’t technically a “Sugar Ant”, as that is a specific species of ant common in Australia. They aren’t found here. The ant species we have is most likely Pavement and Pharaoh ants, but for this post and to use common terminology, we will refer to these ants as sugar ants.

Sugar Ants and Other Ants

The Pavement and Pharaoh ants we refer to as sugar ants are the most common and abundant ants found here in North America.

Sometimes, Little Black Ants are called by the same name, although they are completely different. The black ants will eat a variety of foods and really prefer dark spaces and rotting wood.

Whether you have sugar ants or Little Black Ants, getting rid of them can be accomplished by the same methods. Baits are going to be your friend, both indoor and out.

Best Ways to Control Ants

It really is a daily task to control ants during the peak season. The season runs March through September and ants are most likely to be found in your kitchen.

Kitchen Sink

Keeping your kitchen sink clean and dry is the most important preventative method. Washing dishes, cleaning the sink, and wiping down the counters are crucial. You want to make sure there is no residual food particles on the surfaces that may attract the ants.

To be extra cautious, you can add a little bleach water down the drain to get rid of any food smell.

Counter Tops

Be extra detailed by the coffee station. The few crumbs of sugar is all that’s needed to signal that food is available to ants. Once again, bleach water is a good option to get rid of any lingering smells.

Floors

Sweep and mop DAILY during the summer to take care of extra crumbs. Vacuum carpeted areas daily as well.

Garbage

Use strong trash bags and make sure the trash is taken out regularly. Also, check the bottom inside of your trash can for any spills after removing the bag. Always, make sure everything is clean and dry.

Baits

Lastly, sweet baits can be put in your home as well for an extra elimination method. The ants eat the sweet bait that is poisoned with Borax and take some of the bait back to the colony. Using baits will help get to the bottom of the problem and wipe out the colony.

Ticks, What You Need to Know to Keep Safe

When you think of ticks, you may think of summer days, tall grass, or dogs. In the past, if you caught a tick, you didn’t think much about it. Pull it out, kill it, and move on. The were an an annoyance, to be sure, but not generally anything to be overly concerned about. Those ticks are still around and you will notice them by their bigger size and attraction to dogs. But, there is also another species of tick, called a deer tick, and it is not so benign.

Deer ticks, which are smaller and have black legs, are far more likely to carry disease. When they crawl under clothes and attach themselves to their host, they are also less likely to be noticed. But, here’s what you need to know about ticks and staying safe.

Ticks crawl

The don’t jump or fly. Which means, to get to your head where they want to be, they have to generally crawl all the way up the body. Keeping the lower half of the body well covered will hopefully help shake the little critters off before they get to their dinner table (also known as your ears).

Their Life Cycles are Similar

Regardless of type of tick, they hatch from eggs and go through three stages: larvae, nymph, and adult. If they are bigger than normal, they may be full or partially full.

You’re Not Safe in Winter

Not that it feels particularly like winter right now here in Texas, but ticks stay active through the winter. They are not deterred by freezing temperatures so unless it’s iced over, you could still be at risk.

They Carry Disease Causing Bacteria

Ticks today are simply more likely to harbor the bad stuff than ticks in the past. This is due to the growth of deer population. A number of diseases can be transmitted, so if you have any symptoms after being bitten, don’t hesitate to call the doctor.

You Have 24 Hours

That’s about the length of time between attaching and germy transmission. So, if you’re spending the day in the woods or going camping, a quick once over before bed should keep you safe.

Bring Tweezers

Specifically the pointy kind. Grab the little pest as close to the skin as possible to prevent pushing any bacteria into your skin when you squish it.

Treat Your Pets and Other Precautions

  • Keep your pet up to day with monthly tick repellents.
  • Purchase clothing with tick repellent built in if you’re going to be hiking, hunting, or traveling in areas with more ticks.
  • And don’t forget to do a body scan before tucking into your tent at night.

Wasps, Reduction and Removal

Although it’s not summer time, bees and wasps can still pose a problem in certain areas, especially if the temperatures are not too terribly cold. And, if you have untreated nests from the previous year, wasps may have moved into your walls, making removal even more difficult. There are a few things you will want to keep in mind, beginning now, to reduce the occurrence of wasps in the upcoming spring and summer months.

Wasps Nests

There seems to be no limit to the size or location of nests. Whether on the side of the house, up on the roof, or down in the ground, wasps can hide out pretty much anywhere.

If untreated, the big hanging nests can grow as big as a basketball. And depending on what you have buzzing inside, some species can be much more aggressive than others.

In addition, yellow jackets can nest in the ground, which unfortunately, are often only spotted after they’ve been disturbed. Ground nesting yellow jackets are a very common variety of wasps and are difficult to treat.

When You See a Nest

The first thing you need to do is locate the entry point of a nest, and try to stay away from that area. Drone wasps have one purpose, and that is to protect the colony at all costs.

The general advice of “if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you” is a pretty good one to follow. Like other animals, if they don’t see you as a threat, they are less likely to go into defense mode.

To Treat or Not to Treat

Treatment depends on a few factors. Most importantly, are you allergic? If you have a bee allergy, it is definitely advisable to seek professional treatment for any size nest. It is just not worth a potential deadly reaction. Also, an exterminator can determine where other nests may be and can more thoroughly treat your residence.

For others, a can of wasp spray usually does the trick. Follow the instructions on the can, allow plenty of distance, and spray thoroughly. Make sure nothing of importance is below the nest, because it will be wet from falling spray and covered in dying wasps.

Prevention

  • Remove fallen fruit from trees.
  • Treat exposed wood.
  • Clear out branches and other stacks of debris on your property.
  • Seal holes in concrete and in exterior walls.
  • Make sure the lids are on your garbage cans.
  • Lastly, inspect regularly and treat as needed to prevent infestations.

Stucco in Construction, Pros and Cons

Stucco, which is a material that is often applied to the outside of homes, is a common material in construction. It is applied wet and forms a dense hard barrier when dry. It is used both artistically and functionally for homes.

The word “stucco” generally refers to plasterwork that occurs on the exterior of the home, while “plaster” refers to inside the home. However, the material itself varies little between the two. In modern usage, stucco is generally cement, sand, and water combined with some additives depending on usage and location.

So, what do you need to know about this material, and should you consider it in future construction projects?

The Good Side of Stucco

The materials required to make plaster basically form a concrete barrier around your home. This makes your home more energy efficient which is quite an advantage.

Stucco is also a sound barrier and a fire retardant material, so whether you live in a loud, crowded city or in the middle of the forest, you can benefit from this material.

The initial investment for stucco is higher than some other building materials. But its longevity and easy maintenance makes it a good choice, financially, in the long run.

This plasterwork is also easy to install, and gives you a way to customize your exterior for a modern or a traditional look.

Stucco’s Disadvantages

The initial sticker shock is the biggest drawback for people considering stucco. Siding and cement are far less expensive options, as they don’t require the numerous layers of installation.

Depending on where you live, this building material may be a less preferable option to other material such as brick. It is only so tolerant to moisture, meaning if you live in a very rainy wet area, stucco may not be your best choice. It holds up better in dryer, sunnier climates.

Cracking can also be a concern, so earthquake prone areas need to factor in cracking to the cost of maintenance.