Spring into Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung and it’s time for a little spring cleaning! Open those windows, let some fresh air in, and get ready to organize and declutter. Whether you’re going top to bottom, or hitting just the essentials, keep in mind a few basics for spring cleaning. There’s no time like the present to make and check off that to-do list.

Spring into Spring Cleaning

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Windows

With the sun shining more, you’ll notice dirty windows. And, you don’t want to miss any of that beautiful natural light because of smudged windows! Try a squeegee on big windows for a cleaner, streak-free shine.

Lightbulbs

Change out old light bulbs and brighten up your space. When you do replace bulbs (and even where you don’t), take a few moments to dust fixtures and wash light bulb covers. You should also clean the area around recessed bulbs in your ceiling. Dust and bugs accumulate in these areas and you won’t feel your spring freshest with dirt over your light fixtures.

Blinds and Curtains

Like everything else, the dust has settled on your blinds and curtains. Winter weather means less air circulating around the home. Open the winds to get a breeze but also run your curtains through a quick wash cycle. Wipe down blinds as well so they won’t look discolored.

Check Your Supplies

As you’re spring cleaning, it’s the best time to check stock of all your specialty cleaning supplies. In addition to your basics, make sure you have stain fighters, floor cleaners, vacuum bags, and any other cleaning supplies you may need.

Change the Bedding

While this isn’t at all necessary for spring cleaning, a new bedspread or duvet cover can change the entire look and feel of a room. Brighten and lighten for the spring, so that your bedroom feels like a luxurious spa or ocean getaway.

Speaking of Change…

Don’t forget to change the direction of your ceiling fans! You want your fans to run counter-clockwise during warm months. A cool breeze will hopefully postpone the inevitable need to turn on the A/C.

Deep Clean the Fridge

It’s necessary. It’s not fun. But take time to do it. Baking soda and water make a great combination to scrub the shelves. To keep down odor, keep a fridge box of baking soda in the fridge and freezer and replace as needed.

And DON’T FORGET

Replace batteries in your smoke detectors every six months. A handy reminder is to do that when the time changes. This year, that’s March 12th. So change those batteries and make sure all detectors function properly.

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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Mantel Decorating Ideas for a New Look

Mantel Decorating

Whether you’ve lived in your home for years, or have just recently moved to a home with a fireplace, you know how the mantel can be the focal point of the home.

Often, it’s the first place someone looks upon entry to the living area, and is a great reflection of our personality and style. So, whether you decorate once or update seasonally, you want to make sure your mantel reflects your awesome personality.

Balance and Scale

The key to remember is BALANCE. You want a symmetrical, balanced feel to your room. Consequently, it will feel streamlined and well put together. You can go about this in classic or modern ways. But in the end, you want it to feel balanced.

The second main key to remember is SCALE. You want to highlight the space but you don’t want to overwhelm the room with pieces that are too large for the space. Play with different sizes and colors in order to get the feel that you like.

Here are a few ideas to place with as you get started…

Greenery. Often, fire places are tough and heavy, with construction of brick or stone. They can easily make the room feel heavy and dark if they are not adorned properly. Lighten and soften the space with the use of green plants.

Art Pieces. If you have a large piece of art, a great place to hang it may be above the mantel. The eye is already drawn to the area, and it can be a great place to display your fine tastes.

Mirrors. The use of a mirror can make the room feel double it’s size. Because mirrors come in a variety of shapes and borders, they will add great character to a space. Also, the reflective surface will add light to the space.

TVs. It’s pretty common to hang the television above the mantel. For that, we suggest wall mountings and lovely and simple frame around the television. Also, make sure your furniture is arranged in a way that is comfortable to see the TV.

Seasonal. Lastly, f you’re super creative or motivated, you can change out the decor for the holidays or seasons. It’s a fun way to add some personality and character into the space.

Photo Credit and Additional Ideas Can be Found at DIY

 

Sell By Dates May Get an Update

We’ve talked before about food expiration dates, sell by dates, and other dates on your products. They don’t all mean the same thing, and in some cases, don’t mean much at all. And now, at least two organizations are hoping to help clarify the confusion.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute are just a few of the names in line to help reduce food waste.

The Confusion

Because of the confusion will “sell by”, “best by”, and other expiration dates, very often completely safe food gets tossed from over concerned individuals.

In some cases, food may not taste as good, because it isn’t as fresh, but over all, food just doesn’t have a magic hard line when it “expires”.

Sell By Change

The two associations which include most food manufacturers and retailers as members are looking to abolish the current labeling system, including the labels “sell by” and “expires on”.

If their plan goes forward, they are suggesting just two labels on food products. One would be the “best if used by”date, which is already a common label. And the second one would be the “use by” date for products that are more likely to spoil as they age.

In Favor

The move would definitely garner favor among environmental groups. Groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have been advocating for such a change for a while. They hope label changes would lead to a reduction in food waste.

The USDA has also shown support for a more simplified labeling system, asking for companies to just use one label, the “best if used by” label.

Currently, there is no federal law requiring or regulating expiration dates on foods. Some states do have requirements for certain types of foods, like dairy or meat products.

Food safety experts however, state that stale or spoiled foods aren’t generally particularly hazardous, even if they aren’t tasty. It doesn’t take an expiration date to tell you not to drink spoiled milk!

Until Then

Until a change takes place, try to reduce waste by buying less, making sure food is stored at the proper temperatures, and checking before you automatically toss something just because of it’s date.

Source: NPR

 

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.

Things You Should Clean More

Things You Should Clean More Than You Probably Do

You clean your house, are you getting it all covered?

Even the cleanest people can miss things if they aren’t thinking about it. Now, of course, we don’t advocate for anyone to get obsessive in their cleaning. BUT, you don’t want to overlook some important items either. Check out the following list of things you should clean more than you probably do and see if there are any items you are completely overlooking on your household chores.

Don’t Forget the Remote Control

Everyone’s grimy hands fight over the remote. You don’t want to be fighting over each other’s germs as well. Use a Q-Tip and rubbing alcohol to wipe between the buttons and to get everything all sanitized. (And use that alcohol again for your computer mouse and your phone buttons too.)

Don’t Forget the Dishwasher

Clear out that extra gunk by pouring a cup of baking soda in the bottom basin of the dishwasher, and put a measuring cup of vinegar in the top shelf. Run the dish cycle as normal. The extra cleaning cycle will freshen the odor of your dishwasher and help clean out any caked-on gunk, for a more effective dish cycle.

Don’t Forget the Ceiling Fans

That dust builds up over time, and it always seems to fall off in the most inconvenient times. Catch that dust by wrapping an old pillowcase around the fan blades and pulling the dust into the case.

Don’t Forget the Fridge Handles

And can opener, and any other gadget, tool, or appliance you touch daily that doesn’t go into the dishwasher. These things don’t need to be done often, but an occasional sanitizing is well worth the extra couple of moments. Especially in the kitchen.

Don’t Forget the Pillows

Did you know it is generally safe to throw pillows in the washer and dryer? It won’t extend the lifespan forever, but it is good to give pillows a quick washing every now and then. Cut down on germs, improve smell, and add some extra fluff by washing bed pillows and throw pillows when needed.