We’ve got a bunch of things here that you may not have thought of because spring cleaning is more than just heading to a room with a bucket and sponge. For instance, spring cleaning could include repairs. Usually small, but “repairs” seems daunting when you think about it. However, some or most repairs are much easier than you imagine up front and can be easier than cleaning.
Whatever you do, don’t skip things because you think it’s just too frustrating. Tackle them all so you feel 100% accomplished and happy about your “new” home.
In the play room or patio, you might realize there’s a small patch needed for a wall, or the trim needs a fresh coat of paint. Spackling a gouge in a wall is super easy, and spot-painting is as well. In the bathroom, there could be a leaky toilet that needs a new flush valve. You can find out how of do that yourself on YouTube, or just call a plumber. Check your shower for missing caulk and easily re-caulk it yourself. You might need to patch a hole in a window screen or send them away for repairs.
Make A Plan Of Action
Whatever it is you want to tackle this year on the grand scheme for your home, write out a simple plan. This can include a deep clean for the bathroom, a garage that’s readied for a sale, or a decluttered play room. The choice is yours and you’ll be glad you go into the work with an idea of what exactly you want to accomplish. Think big here.
Write A List Of Smaller Actions
From the big plan above, choose each area or room and head to it with a pen and paper in hand. Think about each step you’ll need to take to accomplish your goal and write out a detailed list. Nothing is too small, it all adds up, and you’ll be happy to tick off each individual item. Looking at your list of To-Do’s and Have-Done’s is a great way to stay motivated, so keep the chores small, broken down, and actionable. You also may not have realized until you’re in there inspecting your space that something is broken and needs repair or patching.
Decide On A Time Limit
Recall what you’ve done in the past and decide if you want to go super fast or take your time. What kind of cleaning routine works for you? Do you want to knock everything out as a weekend warrior, or do you prefer to spread out this list through a chunk of the year? Choose whichever one makes you feel least overwhelmed and more accomplished.
Group Things Together Or Go Room To Room?
Again, this one is best chosen by you, for you. For instance, would it make you feel better to have one room or area completely done before moving on to another? Or the alternate is to group together similar activities and perform them in each space. You might begin by decluttering the play room and bedroom and moving those things into the garage for the yard sale, then grouping things in the garage together as you go to await pricing. Or you might want to deep clean the baseboards and wash the walls in each of your spring cleaning project areas, then come back through to do the light fixtures in each area.
Assemble What You’ll Need Before You Start
Get together all your lists and buy whatever you need up front, before you start. This works on two levels:
You’ll have everything on hand and won’t have to run to the store in a pinch.
When lacking motivation, you will see your pile of supplies that you’ve purchased and likely push ahead.
It might be like herding a bunch of angry squirrels, but every age-eligible human in your home should have a task list too. Break each task down in an actionable and easy list for each person. Give them a time it needs to be done by, and rewards if you have to. Work separately if that helps or have speed cleaning fun with the family where you set a timer and see how much can be done before it goes off. Sometimes it seems easier to just do everything yourself, but every single person living in a home should help.
Or, you know, you could always call us to be your team and we’ll come running. Which brings us to…
Decide When To Call For Help
There are some tasks that are too big, too time-consuming, too much of a pain to deal with, too high to reach safely… so call us! Carpet cleaning, deep cleaning, etc, we are on call. Likewise, call a professional window washer for risky glass, a plumber for things you’re not sure you can do alone, or a painter to freshen up a room’s walls and/or trim.
Safety First And Always
Thing is, you really need to think about safety. Since you may be doing things you probably don’t regularly do like cleaning gutters or washing chandeliers, you’ll probably be using a long ladder or other equipment in places you’re not used to. Is that chandelier electric? That’s yet another concern. So please take extra precautions by hiring a professional and/or having someone right there with you to spot you on the ladder or get help if you get hurt.
Now is also a great time to perform a whole house safety inspection.
Check all door and window locks and latches.
Check your safety equipment like fire extinguishers. If you don’t have them, buy them. Keep one in the kitchen, the garage, and the second floor of your home. Do they work and are fully charged and not expired? Go to your local fire station for help, they usually have a free program to help residents.
Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
It’s time to think spring and tackle some lawn care! Get sunshine, fresh air, and exercise as a great bonus while getting your lawn on track for the summer months to come. Ease your compacted soil, fertilize, fix bald patches, pick up the fallen twigs, and weed your lawn among other things to get ready for all the new growth. Other than getting fresh air and exercise, taking these steps now will save you time, aggravation, and energy later. It will bring a healthy vigor to your lawn and your neighbors will be impressed with your efforts too.
Some great spring lawn care tips:
Get your gardening gear ready. Make sure all your tools are not hidden away and they’re oiled and ready to go. Find your gardening gloves too.
Get out the lawn mower and change the oil, spark plugs, and air filter. Check for rips if it’s a bag mower. Brush away dried grass and debris from the undercarriage (don’t turn the lawnmower upside down though!) and if anything is stuck, a putty knife works well to get it all out. Check the mower blade for large nicks or gouges that necessitates replacement, and have your blades sharpened so they’re cutting and not ripping the grass. You can do all of this yourself or take it to the shop. Later this year, consider having this maintenance done in the fall instead if you don’t want to wait on the busy spring season.
Check your irrigation system to be sure it’s ready to go during the growing, sunny seasons.
Make sure you cut and clear and weed before you try to pick up lawn debris or you might be doubling your efforts. By this we mean do all your garden bed weeding and pruning of shrubs, trees, and woody plants first since you’ll be making a mess. Hopefully you have a compost pile!
Rake off the dead grass and pick up (by hand if you must) all of the twigs, branches, garbage, and other debris that have fallen on your lawn during the winter.
For both numbers 4 and 5 you can easily use a garden tarp to drop your waste onto and pull it across the lawn to dispose of instead of constantly bending or throwing things into a bin. We’re always happy to save a back!
Don’t have a compost pile? Check online for great tips to starting a compost pile. It’s very easy to start one and you’ll love the results.
Soil compacts over time and especially during the winter, so some homeowners choose to aerate their lawns. You can do this by hand with a garden fork (sticking it in 4″ and rocking it back and forth), and there are other tools that take actual plugs of soil out of the lawn. Or you can use a machine aerator rental to get a larger area done more quickly. Essentially, aeration punches holes in the lawn, allowing air flow, water, and nutrients to get into your toiling soil and feed your grass roots so your lawn doesn’t look so weak or die off. Be sure to know exactly where your sprinkler lines or electrical wires are buried before you start.
Whether you’ve chosen to aerate or not, you can now boost your lawn’s later performance by spreading an approximately 1/4-inch-thick layer of aged compost. Or Scotts® website suggests after aeration that you “Use a soil conditioner product, such as LazyMan Liquid Soil Aerator. This soil conditioner is fortified with beneficial microorganisms that aerate the soil, so roots grow better. The overall result is a lush green lawn and a healthier, more productive garden. Just attach the product to your garden hose and spray.”
When it comes to fertilizing, people choose their own path. Do you begin fertilizing before your first spring mowing or after? The choice is yours. Either way, if you choose fertilizer by the bag, a 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn is suggested. “A 20-pound bag of fertilizer containing 5 percent nitrogen equals 1 pound of actual nitrogen.”
Scotts® recommends you feed grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food to help protect your lawn against heat and drought.
If you need to re-seed bare patches, do this before contemplating the compost or fertilizer situation. It’s recommended that you loosen the lawn surface (done if you’ve aerated) to 2-4″. Level the soil, then spread your grass seed mixed with compost or fertilizer. Tamp the area to help the seed stay firm while you water that covered bald patch. Scotts® recommends you wait until late spring to patch southern lawns. They also say, “Water newly seeded areas daily for at least a week, but ideally until grass reaches mow-able height. Avoid mowing until grass is at least 2 inches tall or the same height as surrounding lawn.”
For an entire lawn that’s just too thin, you can “overseed” the whole area to thicken the lawn.
Kill the weeds! Southern lawns are prone to dollarweed and clover among others. Depending on where you are and what grows there, check out products at your local home and garden centers or dig ’em out by hand if you have to — though that might disrupt your grass roots and possibly bring out dormant weed seeds — and nobody wants more weeds. Get a killer lawn by killing the weeds.
When you’re ready to mow, “Tall grass sinks deeper roots (which can seek out moisture) and crowds out weeds.” We also found this great little piece of advice: “Mow your lawn to a height of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches, and mow frequently so that no more than one-third of the grass is cut in one mowing. Mowing high and mowing often produces a tougher turf that crowds out pesky weeds and is less susceptible to drought and summer heat. The result is a greener lawn that saves you time and money.”
If you’re worried about the aesthetics of your roof, using solar panels probably isn’t worth looking into, though we hear new technology is coming that will replace roof shingles with disguised solar panels. However, if you have some money to invest and want to reduce your utility bills and/or your carbon footprint, read on! Solar power might just be your thing.
The idea is that you’ll invest a significant amount up front in solar panels and installation, but eventually you will see a long-term decrease in your monthly power bill. You’ll also have more fun and guilt-free options for decorating your home indoor and out when it comes to things like adding power sucking features. You know, the fun ones! Solar energy can provide energy to operate a fountain pump and outdoor lighting, etc. It can give you the guilt-free go-ahead to use that little space heater when you want to curl up on the couch and be extra cozy. You won’t stress about leaving a light on in the middle of the night for kids looking for a drink of water. It’s all energy provided by the sun, and the sun never quits working.
And solar power is from a free, clean, and renewable resource (the sun) so it helps the environment — unlike most of our electricity that’s taken from fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that burn dirty enough to create pollution and a buildup of greenhouse gasses.
Solar panels are generally not moveable like the sun, so you’ll need clear “access” to the sun’s rays from your roof during the day. Your preferred solar panel installation company will expertly determine which permanent angle of panel installations will catch the most rays through all four seasons.
How much sunshine do you need for solar power? Of course, more energy is created in a sunny climate or season, but you don’t necessarily need to live in a year-round sunny climate to get use from solar panels. Check with your local companies to help determine your sunshine needs, or you can also Google for information on determining and calculating your area’s solar irradiance.
It’s okay to install solar energy panels even if they won’t meet or exceed your annual electricity use and generate enough power. If you have a day or a season or a year where you just don’t have enough sun to fulfill your energy consumption, power is pulled through the utility grid through (using your meter) like everyone else. You won’t go dark.
The fixed/mounted panels will directly convert energy from the sun into electricity by using what’s called photovoltaic technology. This means once the sun’s rays hit the panels, you get the juice. Or in highly technical terms, semiconductors turn the energy into electrons of direct current (DC) electricity, fed into an inverter, transforming it into alternating current (AC). This becomes the source of power for the electrical panel of your house.
The amount of savings is not straightforward and there’s more technical stuff to know (or not) after the energy reaches your electrical panel, the grid, etc. But the main thing to understand is, this energy from the sun is tracked and creates a credit on your monthly bill for all time. Viola!
The cost of this extraordinary power system will depend on factors such as your area’s cost of living (therefore, what the companies charge), how much electricity you use and what percentage of that you would like your solar energy system to supply. The more electricity you require, the larger the system you’ll need. There are some solar-incentive programs through some local and state governments that might give you a rebate or credit for installation and/or purchase. There are also some incentive programs where your surplus energy that’s fed to the power grid (and used elsewhere) is measured and you receive payments over time to pay you back for your initial investment. Check out this link to solar incentives by state https://www.wholesalesolar.com/solar-information/state-solar-incentives
Chapel Hill’s Leading Solar Power Company – NC Solar Now
“Go solar — and save money — with help from NC Solar! Our Chapel Hill, NC solar specialists make renewable energy affordable and accessible through custom, energy-efficient solutions like solar PV panels, solar water heating, thermal barriers and more. At NC Solar, we love what we do and it shows!”
Durham’s Leading Solar Power Company – NC Solar Now
“Make the switch to solar energy with help from NC Solar! We’re proud to provide energy-efficient and affordable solar solutions for homes and businesses across Durham, NC.”
Yes Solar Solutions: Solar Power Systems | Solar Storage
Nestled in the gorgeous Orange County of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is considered one of the coolest little towns in America. While Chapel Hill is a college town, it’s multicultural, charming, diverse, kid-friendly, carries a small-town feel, and is filled with things to do.
Historic Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill is simply amazing. Named after Benjamin Franklin, it’s a gorgeous, historic tree-lined street with more than 200 restaurants, bars, retail shops and service businesses. Annually you’ll see events and festivals, weekly there’s plenty of nightlife, and daily fun includes a comedy theater, sidewalk bistros, coffee shops, bookshops, cocktail bars and more.
What can you do there? SO MUCH! But for the sake of this blog, let’s just go shopping. Below we cover downtown Chapel Hill, the Southern Village in the south side of town, and give shout-outs to other shopping areas around town. Keep scrolling!
Oh, and if you’re looking for parking, check out Park on the Hill to find a map and locations. http://www.parkonthehill.com/
Find this area on Market Street (off US Highway 15-501 South), Chapel Hill; south of town and is five minutes from UNC-Chapel Hill.
“This neighborhood was established in 1994 and has all the components of what is today called “New Urbanism.” Market Street, which is within walking distance to all parts of the neighborhood, has a variety of entertainment, food and shops.”
“Southern Village is a welcoming community with Market Street Merchants, walk-able village center and the Hyatt Place -Chapel Hill to extend your stay. Join us for outdoor movies and concerts on the Village Green, Wine Down Wednesday, Seasonal Markets and the many events throughout the year.”
Go to their website for a list of things to do and see, and sign up for their newsletter to get the latest.
Downtown Chapel Hill
East and West Franklin Street, and East and West Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill. Don’t miss a thing by joining their mailing list on their website. Check out everything from Target to florists, planetarium gift shops to bike shops, bookshops and much more.
“Our Downtown launches entrepreneurial ventures, supports a thriving arts & cultural community, boasts world-renowned dining, and serves as the gathering spot for young and old; all while preserving and enhancing our community’s unique character.”
“This area features many college-style and upscale restaurants and eateries, stores, boutiques, memorabilia shops, and bars, nightclubs, and taverns. Numerous buildings feature murals on various subjects by local artist Michael Brown. More than 250 businesses. ”
We pulled out a few of the shops that dedicate space downtown to selling clothes and shoes, art, gifts, books, and jewelry. Grab some coffee at one of their award-winning coffee shops on Franklin Street, and let’s go shopping…
142 East Franklin Street
“bevello (with a lowercase “b”) is a one-of-a-kind boutique that focuses on providing an exceptional shopping experience for our customers. bevello promises to give you the respect you deserve and the help you need, all while making your time with us a fun, no-hassle experience.”
University Florist and Gift Shop
124 East Franklin Street
Where heavy metal meets floral design.
171 East Franklin Street
117 East Franklin Street
“We work both with stones and all metal designs, specializing in wedding and engagement rings as well as in custom design and one-of-a-kind.”
133 West Franklin Street
“Our boutiques offer an eclectic mix of carefully-curated clothing, bright baubles, bold accessories, and playful gifts that are as fun to give as they are to receive.”
151 East Franklin Street
“We cater to a unique personal style, and have an exclusive inventory which allows you to build a wardrobe that expresses your individuality.”
121 East Franklin Street
“Light Years is proud to be locally owned and operated. While we continue to specialize in jewelry, we have added gifts, crafts and home accessories to our collection. Light Years promises to have a fun and interesting selection with friendly service and great prices.”
140 West Franklin Street
“Well-dressed and smartly-appointed men have come to know The Gentlemen’s Corner as the place for the finest clothes, accessories and service.”
135 E. Franklin St.
106 Graham Street
452 West Franklin Street
“Uniquities features an edited selection of emerging to established designers.”
Ackland Museum Store
101 S. Columbia Street
“All proceeds from the Museum Store support the Ackland Art Museum’s exhibition and education programs.”
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center Gift Shop
250 East Franklin Street
MORE SHOPPING IN CHAPEL HILL
Chapel Hill North
“NC Highway 86 North, just south of Exit 266 on Interstate 40. This shopping center features several major national and regional stores, and service businesses.”
1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Chapel Hill.
Eastgate (http://www.shoppingeastgate.com), Rams Plaza (http://www.ramsplaza.com), Mariakakis Plaza, and Fordham Square
“North Fordham Boulevard (US Highway 15-501) and Ephesus Church Road, Chapel Hill. More than 60 businesses.”
“Northeast corner of Fordham Blvd (US Highway 15-501) and Raleigh Rd (NC Highway 54 East). Chapel Hill’s first shopping center (1950), Glen Lennox recently underwent renovations to offer a better selection of small shops and service businesses.”
“Southeast corner of Fordham Blvd (US Highway 15-501) and Raleigh Rd (NC Highway 54 East). Open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., noon-6 p.m. Offers nine varied businesses. One mile from UNC campus and distinguished by its historic two-story clock tower.”
“Meadowmont Village Circle, off Raleigh Road (NC Highway 54 East), Chapel Hill. About 15 businesses.”
“1113 Environ Way, Chapel Hill. Luxury condos, shops and dining.”
“201 South Estes Drive (at Willow Dr), Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill’s first enclosed mall. More than 60 businesses.”
Village Plaza, Gateway Commons, and The Galleria
“East Franklin Street at South Elliott Road, Chapel Hill. Village Plaza is actually four separate shopping centers. The six combined offer more than 40 businesses.”
In the United States, we have what’s called a “flu season” which runs from October to May, and peaks with the most cases happening between late December and early March. So while we’re supposed to have reached the peak at this point, there are still some devastating cases of the flu going around. This has been a particularly rough flu season and we all have some concerns.
Because the flu is a virus spread by droplets of actively contagious people, you cannot expect the same results or cleaning regimen as something that’s bacterial like a strep infection in order to prevent others from getting the flu. However, there are several things you should know about the flu, a few things to keep in mind when the flu hits your home, and some peace of mind to be had by the clean up after.
What Is The Flu?
Influenza or “the flu” is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract, meaning it’s a virus that attacks the lungs, nose, and throat. Especially susceptible are babies, young children, seniors over 65, pregnant women, chronic disease sufferers, children with asthma, residents of long-term care facilities, or people with weak immune systems.
Some strains of the flu, especially this year’s, have attacked and caused deaths amongst healthy populations of young and middle-aged persons that wouldn’t normally be considered high-risk or who have usually good enough immune systems to fight infections. The flu can quickly lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. Initial flu symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue.
How Do You Get The Flu?
People who are infected are contagious from a day before they feel sick until at least 5-7 days after symptoms appear, though it could be longer, and the flu is spread through several means. The number one cause is when the virus is released by an infected person into droplets that move through the air to infect another who breathes them in through their mouth and nose. Airborne respiratory droplets are released by coughs or sneezes.
Though less often, these droplets also land on surfaces and are picked up by hand contact and then transferred afterward by touching your own mouth, eyes, or nose. You’re in danger of receiving the infection through skin-to-skin contacts such as handshakes and hugs and by touching things infected people have touched like doorknobs and blankets. You can also be infected through saliva from kissing and sharing drinks or utensils.
How To Clean Your Home After The Flu
Flu germs tend to live longest on plastic and other hard surfaces which include many things like doorknobs, counters, remotes, and keyboards. The flu virus can live on some surfaces for up to 24 hours which doesn’t seem like a long time, but it can be for the health and well-being of your family. Routinely cleaning during the flu season, and especially when someone in your home is sick, will help prevent the virus transfer.
Try to be conscious about extra hand-washing and not rubbing your eyes or putting your hands on/in your nose and mouth. And wash your hands after handling laundry.
According to the CDC, “flu viruses are killed by heat above 167° F [75° C]”. They also say common household cleaning products can kill the flu virus, including products containing:
iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics)
Sheets, pillowcases, blankets big and small, and duvet covers hold lots of the ickies. It’s best to wash them every day if someone is sick and using them, but sometimes all you can do is wait for it to pass and wash them after on high-temp. Wash pajamas, robes, and towels as well. For an extra germ combat weapon, put some white vinegar in your wash with your laundry soap.
Wipe the thermometer clean after each use with a disinfectant wipe or alcohol swab. Hydrogen peroxide works well too. Keep toothbrushes segregated to avoid cross-contamination, wipe the handle just like the thermometer, and dip them in peroxide.
Use a disinfectant spray liberally during and after the illness on everything that’s been touched and even across your upholstered furniture that was used by an ill person. Surfaces are not just counters and toilet handles. Think about what’s been used including doorknobs, computer keyboards, wallets, light switches, and fridge and cupboard doors, as well as sinks, shower handles, and many more.
If you have used a re-usable cloth or sponge to clean, soak them in bleach, peroxide, or at the very least a white vinegar and water mix. Stick them in the dishwasher or the laundry – whatever you need to do to get those transferred germs off. If you can, use disposable items like antibacterial wipes or paper towels instead.
More About Flu Prevention
Get plenty of rest, reduce stress, and eat a healthy diet. Your immune system needs these to fight infection and to recover more quickly.
The flu shot for every person 6-months and older is a good start. Flu vaccines protect against 3 or 4 different flu viruses, so because it does not always prevent the particular strain of flu that comes our way, it’s just one part of the arsenal. The flu shot is updated and given every year and contains killed flu viruses that are what experts are predicting will be most common strains in the upcoming flu season. The killed viruses prepare the body to fight off infection should they come into contact with the live flu virus they were vaccinated against. It can take two weeks after the vaccine for the body to build up immunity to the virus, so it’s best to get the shot early, however you may get it at any time.
Other Important Flu Prevention Tips
— Be courteous to others and stay home from work or school when you may be or are confirmed sick with the flu.
— Wash your hands well and often with soap or disinfect with an antibacterial product when you can’t get to the sink.
— Don’t share cups and eating utensils; do not risk sharing saliva in any way with a sick person.
— Wearing a mask while sick might help prevent the spread, as well as coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a washable cloth or disposable tissue to prevent an invisible spray of droplets that can affect quite a few feet of space, unknown to anyone.
— Toss your used tissues and never pick up used tissues from anyone without protection.
Sometimes there are things lying around our kitchen or the local market that are healthy, handy, and helpful for a variety of home and body uses. One such item is coconut oil! While there are several health and beauty remedies you can find using coconut oil, we’re focusing this blog on things you can use it for around your home and in your food preparation.
Household Uses For Coconut Oil
A household remedy if you will. Check out these extraordinarily simple ways coconut oil keeps your home healthy and fresh day after day.
Have kids? This might just come in handy in a pinch. You can use coconut oil to remove gum from hair, carpets or another flooring, and furniture with less aggravation. Apply the coconut oil fairly thickly around the gum and let it soak in. Removal then should be simpler and there shouldn’t be any tears or stains left behind.
Coconut Oil Hand Soap & Laundry Detergent
Making your own homemade soap can be fun and rewarding. There are plenty of resources online and at the library or book shop to choose recipes and learn how. You can also purchase supplies like lard or lye online and essential oil fragrances of your choice. Combine coconut oil into your recipe and voila! Great for the skin!
Likewise, research a bit and then combine coconut oil with lye, water, and essential oils for use in your washing machine. This makes a non-toxic soap that’s perfect for people with sensitive skin or healthy living goals. Reduce your contact with chemicals and artificial scents for both your health and for the longevity of your clothes and towels since the fibers will not break down as fast as they do with store-bought laundry soaps.
Prevent Dust & Rust
This will need to be spot checked before you do the entire surface, but it’s an effective dust preventer on many surfaces in your home, including cement, plastic, wood, and possibly tile and grout. Using a cloth, rub a small amount of coconut oil over the surface and allow it to air dry. There’s no need to buff it out after on most surfaces, there’s no staining, and coconut oil will not attract bacteria build-up.
Before you pull out the heavy-duty spray can try coconut oil for rejuvenating and preventing rust. Shine your silverware, or try rubbing a thin layer on then buffing or spraying down your outdoor metal furniture or other metals in your yard. Even car parts! Rub some oil on your silverware, outdoor metal furniture, car parts, or anything else that is metal and prone to rusting.
Polishing Furniture & Shoes
Get more wear out of your leather and heels with coconut oil. Shine shoes with a cloth and the oil to make them look newer and hide scars and other blemishes. Likewise, you can use coconut oil on metal, wood, and granite countertops to cover scratches, shine, rejuvenate, reduce dust as mentioned above, and generally make everything new fresh, clean, and newer.
Coconut Oil In Your Diffuser
Using coconut oil and essential oils in an oil diffuser means you can choose the scent you love and burn a healthy oil instead of a chemical-laden scented candle. In this way, coconut oil is considered a carrier oil and you can purchase essential oils online or in nearly every home good store, pharmacy, and health shop.
Bypass the WD-40
What a smell and oily, staining grime that WD-40 delivers! Try coconut oil first. Rub it on “stuck” metal chains, zippers, or whatever else needs a hand in loosening.
Coconut Oil For Food & Drink
We found some great uses for coconut oil in the kitchen, from food and drinks to energy boosters and way more. Check out some healthy options for using coconut oil as a healthy addition to your diet and cooking regimens.
Add Nutrition To Your Smoothies
Coconut oil has research-backed nutritional properties that help you fight cholesterol and more. Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to your favorite fruit smoothie gives it a better texture and a healthy boost.
Coconut Oil As A Coffee Creamer
Blending coconut oil into your coffee with a natural sweetener replaces dairy, adding a natural energy booster and health benefits. Coconut oil offers a creamy, smooth-textured, healthy option.
Natural Energy Options
We found sources online that stated using coconut oil with chia seeds is a mild and natural energy booster for your afternoon or post-workout. Sources suggested that while chia seeds boost performance and endurance, coconut oil aids in the digestion and metabolizing of the chia seeds. We suggest mixing 1 tablespoon coconut oil with a ½ tablespoon of chia seeds and spreading it on crackers or healthy bread or swallow it straight off the spoon. To make it an energy drink, add coconut oil and chia seeds to water with fresh sliced fruit.
Non-Stick Cooking Spray For Sautéing and Frying
Make clean-up and healthy cooking choices easy peasy when you melt a teaspoon or two of coconut oil into your pan instead of using chemical-laden non-stick cooking sprays. Cooking with coconut oil on high heat settings is healthier than other oils like olive oil due to its healthy saturated fats that continue to remain stable under the high temperatures you need in the frying pan or wok.
Bake With Coconut Oil
Not only can you use coconut oil to grease baking sheets and cake pans for easy end results, but unbelievably you can bake with it too! Replace unhealthy fats like butter or vegetable oil with the same amount of coconut oil in your baked goods like pie crusts and biscuits. You can freeze coconut oil if you need to spoon in a chilled fat.
Use Like Butter On Toast & Oil For Popcorn
You’ve probably heard of people spreading avocado as a healthier option to butter on their toast and bread. If you want something lighter, try coconut oil instead of butter and you might find the light coconut flavor pleases your taste buds. Likewise, try popping corn kernels in coconut oil for a healthier option than other oils. Drizzle more on the top of your popcorn and add sea salt for a delicious snack.
Healthy recipes can be found by the thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) online, but it’s always fun to come across a few to add to your collection from a blog such as ours at Tidy Maid. We have begun to post recipes or health blogs each month, so bookmark us for a rainy day!
This week we wanted to have some fun with Pinterest recipes. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest yet, let’s have a look! Pinterest can be found at www.pinterest.com and people of all ages are there, happily pinning their lives away. You can find information, ideas, and recipes for pretty much anything you could ever dream of; it’s like a fun search engine with like-minded people. Pinterest is a free website where you set up an account to use from your phone or PC. You can then upload, save, sort, and manage your pins with clicks of your mouse or swipes and pokes. It’s a great online way to save your favorite recipes too.
So head over to Pinterest with us now and you can either type in what you’re looking for, such as “healthy recipes” or “healthy dinner recipes” or to make it even easier, simply click https://www.pinterest.com/explore/healthy-recipes/ to browse. You will immediately see an endless number of images that have been “pinned” by other users on their “boards”. You can follow those boards that interest you or do a general search anytime. Also at this link, you will find “food categories” at the top that include things like clean eating, healthy chicken recipes, etc.
Now simply scroll down and click around. It’s a definite rabbit hole of thousands of ideas and recipes for healthy eating from all over the world and the Internet, all in one place, with amazing images and ease. No more searching on Google just to find the same few websites listed at the top. Pinterest is a huge collective of web pages and blog posts you may never have found otherwise.
So as you scroll and browse the search results, you’ve probably chosen an image that looks like something you might like to try. This time, let’s go to the pin called One Bowl Healthy Banana Bread at (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/63543044723364462/). On this Pin’s page you can choose to “Share” this pin with friends who are also on Pinterest or to your other social media accounts, “Pin it” to your own Board, and/or “Follow” the host of the pin, which in this case happens to be “Organize Yourself Skinny | Healthy Make-ahead meal prep recipe for weight loss”. If you keep scrolling you’ll also find “Related Pins” with a lot of other similar baked goods.
Usually on a Pin you only get a summary of the recipe/idea, so you will again click on the image, and then you’re redirected to the website or blog that hosts the full recipe and instructions. One of the bonuses to finding access to bloggers and personal websites like this on Pinterest is that you often get a full review on the recipe, how it’s been changed, etc. You get access to details about healthy recipes that you don’t usually get from the big recipe websites that come in at the top of search results. And quite often you can post questions in their comment section and get replies from the person who posted the recipe.
At this particular healthy banana bread Pin’s host page, the author posts plenty of her own personal photos and anecdotes about the process of making the bread and describes more in-depth details pertaining to the recipe, suggested uses, and/or how she changes some ingredients. For instance, she says, “I start by mixing together the eggs, mashed banana, Greek yogurt, and melted butter. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of banana. This is usually 3-4 bananas depending on the size. I’ve also used 1/3 cup melted coconut oil in place of the butter and that works too.”
Also to note, as you scroll and browse the listings of healthy recipes on Pinterest, you’ll also be enticed to click on sponsored ads. They’re clearly ads but do not interrupt your fun Pinterest time, or take up to much space, or demand you click on them to keep going. They seamlessly blend into the other pins on the board, so there’s none of that annoying, blinking, demanding advertising you get on some other free services and websites. And who knows, you might just find something you hadn’t heard of before or a good deal you want to take advantage of.
Now keep scrolling and you’ll continue to find everything from the simplest snack ideas like “Apple Slice Cookies” (not really cookies!) from a blogger mom in Ontario, Canada, to low carb chicken stuffed peppers posted by a fitness coach. You’ll find Weight Watchers recipes, Whole 30 chicken chili, crock pot recipes, Paleo Diet recipes, and healthy slow cooker recipes galore. There’s a delicious sounding Roasted Parmesan Carrots recipe from a website called I Heart Naptime, a self-described “food and lifestyle blog sharing easy and delicious recipes, tips, crafts and entertaining ideas to help families create unforgettable moments.”
There are tons of delicious recipes to soothe your cravings too like Healthy Lemon Raspberry Frozen Yogurt that’s made in 5 minutes. There’s also a drink called “Strawberry, Lime, Cucumber and Mint Infused Water” from someone named Cassie who says she wants to help you eat better and believes eating whole foods can change your life and “you can do it without losing your mind, going broke, or eating like a bird.” Sounds good to us!
Certainly you can “waste” a lot of time on Pinterest, but it’s a great hobby without any mess, very enjoyable, and an easy way to organize your recipes and wish lists for the future. You will learn a lot and immediately expand your capacity to find amazing, yummy, healthy recipes to try for all meals and snacks, in all seasons. You’ll find things you never dreamed of!
We spend a large portion of our lives indoors and therefore your health and wellness depend on a few extra cleaning measures you may not be thinking about. Of course, we clean bathrooms and kitchens, but we don’t always put enough of a priority on some things that we should. We can’t see bacteria, pollen, dander, and dust mites, but they are there, waiting to be inhaled and affect your immune system or breathing. So we’ve made an easy list of the items we should be attending to on a regular basis on our own or with the help of a house cleaning service like Tidy Maids of Durham and Chapel Hill.
Large Furniture Pieces
Dust bunnies unite! Aside from cleaning your iron or wooden headboards and shelves of dust, another thing to consider, of course, is your upholstery. It can collect dust and bacteria that we don’t realize lays at the surface. Have your upholstered headboards and chairs or other furniture dusted every other week and every other week then schedule a professional upholstery cleaning periodically.
And behind your large furniture lurks more joy. Large pieces of furniture will collect hairballs, dust, and dust mites at different rates in different homes, depending on your heating system’s filter, if you have your windows open, if you have pets and how many, as well as if you have floors that are solid instead of carpeted. Behind your television armoire could be a huge collection as well due to its magnetism for all things dust. Especially if you have asthma or allergies, you want to eliminate dust and mites as often as possible.
Knobs, Handles, Switches, Remotes & More
We don’t always think about the little things around us that carry the most germs, but we need to. You’ll want to regularly wipe down your personal items like your cell phone, your wallet, your tablet, your mouse, your headphones, and your keyboard. Your remote controls carry a lot of harmful bacteria too! Now search the house for small things like all of the various handles, knobs, and switches you touch throughout the day without a second thought.
Bags and Cans
Reusable shopping bags should be washed in a machine with a cup of white vinegar or wiped down with a cleanser like antibacterial wipes regularly. You’ll need to be mindful to regularly wipe clean your gym bag, your purse (especially the bottom!), your wallet, and any other bag that’s carried in and out of the home as well.
Recycle bins and trash cans should be washed out regularly to eliminate bacteria growth and smells. Hose out the largest cans outdoors, put small ones in the dishwasher, and other sizes can be done in the sink or bathtub. Use plastic or metal bins only if possible so they’re not absorbing odors and germs.
You may opt to have cans that are made of wicker or some other porous material, so do take special precautions and considerations for those. Decorative fabric liners, both on the inside and outside, should be washed regularly in the machine with a cup of white vinegar. Line the baskets with a decent quality plastic trash bag if possible as well. And once a month or so, spray down the interior and exterior of your baskets with a diluted white vinegar (dilute with water) and allow them to thoroughly dry before putting them back in their place with a trash liner. You might consider “baking” these items in the sun since the sun helps kill bacteria and dry them thoroughly.
Mats, Runners, Carpets & More
You should have your carpets steam cleaned regularly, even when you don’t see stains. It’s the stuff you can’t see that sits there, waiting to be kicked up and breathed in. Remember that carpeting can hold many many times its weight in dirt, dust, and bacteria. If your doormats aren’t easily washable in a machine, you can soap them and spray them out back or at a car wash. Otherwise, consider replacing them with something more easily washed.
Bath mats should be easily washable or replace with some that are. Spraying a diluted bleach or the antibacterial diluted white vinegar on your tub mat, shower head, and shower curtain once a week will cut down on mold, mildew, and bacterial growth too. If you have both plastic and fabric shower curtains, you can usually toss them right in the washer with one cup of white vinegar and hang to dry. Your shower head can be soaked overnight as needed in white vinegar using a plastic baggie secured with ties or rubber bands.
Dust & Dirt In The Nooks & Crannies
Baseboards, tops of doors, air vents, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and other nooks and crannies will get dust build up quite quickly if ignored. Vinegar and water in a spray bottle works great for areas that get dirty. Microfiber cloths and feather dusters might work well on other areas. Experiment and see what’s easiest and what you like to use so you’ll be motivated to do it often. Your lungs will thank you!
Used Linens, Clothing, & Draperies
Bacteria thrives in moist environments and we typically underestimate the rate of bacterial growth on our linens, towels, and clothing that we set aside to wear again. We spend a huge amount of our time in bed, so even if you only wash your sheets once per month, you should air them out in the morning before making your bed, and consider changing your pillowcases weekly. Our pillow cases need to be replaced fairly often if showering in the morning and not at night because we carry a lot of bacteria in our hair and on our faces and it’s going to grow. Hand towels, kitchen towels and rags, bath towels, bath mats and more should be changed out every few days for fresh linens. And keep in mind that even if left for only a couple of hours in the machine after washing, bacteria will begin to grow!
The same thing goes for draperies and curtains when it comes to all the nasties that stick to linens and fabrics. You could research great looking, energy efficient window coverings in materials that can be wiped down or replace heavy, hard-to-remove and rehang draperies with something easier.
It’s cold. And you know you can bundle up the kids to play outdoors even when it’s cold. You can go on nature walks, play ball and more, but not everyone enjoys that and outdoor time has to be limited when temperatures drop. So let’s dream up some ways to get the kids engaged indoors instead.
Indoors, of course. You can convert most any room or spare room into a really great camp for the kids using your own camping gear from storage or making it up as you go along with blanket forts. While not as great as a camp fire, Netflix has Fireplace For Your Home so you can somewhat experience a crackling fire indoors from the safety of your television or laptop. Make modified S’Mores indoors, and hang lanterns or hand out flashlights while you shut off the lights too. A modified version of this is to host a family picnic in the living room.
Get Crafty or Experimental
Often craft kits or science experiments are just the things to waste an hour or three. You can put your own together or search craft shops and Groupon.com for craft kits that are sometimes deeply clearanced. Easy, kid-friendly science experiments can be found online or at the library, instructing your kids how to use things you probably already have at home. This is also a great time to do some advanced holiday planning too since you might run out of time when the actual holiday comes around. Search craft shops, dollar stores, and online for goods to help you get a jump on Valentine’s Day, Easter, and July 4th crafting. Learning origami, coloring eggs and making egg salad, or making paper airplanes are other great ideas. With the airplanes, you can host a competition to see whose flies furthest too.
Library Workshops, Story Time, Movie Nights
Libraries aren’t just for great books and some computer learning time. Often they host various art exhibits, cultural awareness activities, crafting, movie nights, used book sales, story time and meet-the-author activities, workshops, and more. You might even be lucky enough to have a library with a small play area indoors where the kids can burn off some energy with others.
Indoor Playground, Jump House, or Family Rock Climbing Center
Many malls and cities have play areas for children, family rock climbing centers, YMCA and Community Centers, Gyms with indoor pools, or Jump Houses for varying entrance fees or monthly dues or memberships. Get your kids out to another warm building where they’re free to explore, jump, investigate,
Museums, Ceramics Centers, & Science Centers
Kids can explore, learn, create or experiment with other children their age for hours upon hours of fun. There are plenty of options in some areas like science museums, children’s museums, discovery museums, art museums, dinosaur museums, historical museums, etc.
Family Bowling & Sports on the Wii
Get a rousing game going with all the kids on Wii Sports or Playstation 3. If you don’t have one, use empty toilet paper rolls to set up in a pyramid of 12, grab a ball, and knock ’em down. Make it fun and competitive because kids love both of those things, especially put together. Perhaps there’s a family trophy you’ve grabbed off the shelf or created with the kids that is passed around every time there’s a new winner.
Redecorate a Room
You might even be so motivated to paint the walls or furniture. Or you might not. But moving things around can be just as fun. Get the kids involved in designing a new layout for their bedroom or playroom, or even your living room, and then put in the work together and see your results!
Scavenger Hunt or Guess What?
Kids love this one! You get to make clues and hide things either with them or independently, then they search their little hearts out. A modified version of the full-blown scavenger hunt is to play a game called “Guess What?”. Take a paper bag with something secret in it and the child reaches in with their eyes closed to guess what’s inside.
Get In The Kitchen
Bake, cook something, make up new recipes, plan next week’s meals, learn how to make a new cookie, try homemade pizza dough, bake cupcakes, make pancakes, and tons more. There are thousands of tutorials online to show you how to make something new and that’s part of the fun! Look up a new idea together and then get to work.
Stop Animation Movies
Kids are loving this idea these days! You can make stop animation movies out of toys you have at home like Legos, blocks, figures, etc. Look up a tutorial online and pretty soon three hours have already passed while the kids are creating a cool movie you can share on YouTube or social media.
Take a Picture, Make a Picture, or Skype It!
Take a whole bunch of pictures of each other and then use a photo editing software to have hours of fun with them. If you have some long-distance relatives or friends, try Skyping with them. Kids also find it fun to Skype with their school friends on cold days.
Get Dressed Up
Create new costumes together and take official or goofy family photos. Get the pets involved too. Another great idea is to get completely dressed up for a formal family dinner with candlelight and maybe even the fine China. This is something completely out of the norm, so it’s fun, and it consumes extra time and energy while not making a huge mess, so it’s the perfect mix of what you need as a parent and a kid — easy, clean, and fun.
Play Date or Sleepover at Your House or Theirs
See if you can hook your kids up with a friend, grandma, a neighbor or relative for some time away from home. Or call around and see if you can get one of their friends to come over for a few hours of fun or a sleepover if age-appropriate.
We thought it would be fun to round up some tried and true methods and products for making your home smell amazing. Some are more natural, some not, your choice! And of course, hiring cleaning experts like us at Tidy Maids of Durham and Chapel Hill will help you keep your home fresh and sanitized! No matter how much fragrance you bring in, if there are mildewy towels or other funky scents lingering in your home, you’ll noticeably just be trying to mask the unmaskable.
Less Fruit, More Forest.
“While scent is a very much a matter of taste, I can say that the woodsier scents have a way of “dressing up” a space more so than the sweeter stuff. That doesn’t mean your place needs to smell like a campsite — it just means that a bit of spice, smoke, or toasty finish has a way of elevating your space while making it, well, warm!”
Especially in the living room, a cedar or sandalwood or the other scents mentioned just above are a great choice for some of us. Be your own scent mixologist and pair it with a musk, a creamy vanilla or lavender pulling in masculine and feminine scents that work in harmony together.
This mix and match also work well in your bedroom. You could choose just a jasmine or rose scent alone, or a lavender by itself, or you could try mixing the romance of the masculine and feminine scents together there are well. Like a yin and yang of aromas! Try chamomile, musk, vanilla, orange flower, and ylang ylang too. But no matter what, you don’t want anything too overwhelming. You want romance, relaxation, and anything that also promotes great sleep.
Scented Cleaning Vinegar
“When getting rid of unpleasant smells in your home, it’s not enough to just cover them up. A good cleaning session is usually enough to eliminate the source of bad smells. And if you’re using a cleaner that leaves behind a fresh scent – well, that’s even better! Check out the link below to learn how to make a scented cleaning vinegar that not only cleans effectively, but leaves behind a lemon-y fresh scent.”
“If your garbage disposal is a source of some weird food smells, there’s an easy way to clean it. Follow the link below to learn how to make frozen disposal cleaning cubes using white vinegar and citrus. You won’t believe the difference it makes!”
Also for the kitchen, you’ll want scents that don’t compete with cooking aromas. You’ll need to avoid florals and stick to herby scents, apple, pear, or other food-related scents. They say if you’re selling your house and expecting buyers to tour, you should bake some cookies, a pumpkin or an apple pie. It won’t last forever, but it’s a good reason to make yourself a treat.
In your kitchen, as long as you’ll be home the whole time, you can make a fun scent concoction on the stove or in the crockpot. Just toss in something fragrant like herbs or lavender, apple slices, citrus slices, or peach slices and simmer them in water in a small saucepan or slow cooker. To brighten or freshen the room, especially from cooking odors, use the power of citrus like orange peels, lemon slices or lime.
“I usually only think about stovetop potpourri during the holidays, but it’s a great way to freshen the air any time of year! Fill a saucepan with water, add sliced lemon and your favorite herbs, simmer on low heat. Or you can use a mini crockpot as your heat source! (Follow the link below for a detailed post with my favorite potpourri “recipes.”)”
This is one of the methods first recommended to me by a friend. Just take a good size pot of water, let it lightly simmer and add in some fresh slices of oranges and a few tablespoons of cinnamon, (cinnamon sticks optional, but they sure do look nice). I turn off the stove and let the pot sit on my counter or stove top in my kitchen, and the scent is released throughout most of my home.
Add Your Favorite Scent To Pine Cones & Make Your House Smell Nice with Essential Oils
“Just go out scavenging around your yard or the area you live to find some pine cones. Since, my house borders the woods, these were easy to find! Can’t get much more natural than that! Next, just add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or cinnamon on to the pine cones. I did one to two drops per pine cone. Then, just place them in a nice basket to display them. They look beautiful and add a wonderful smell to the room! Plus, it’s easy to move the basket from room to room, if you want to switch from your bathroom to your living room etc.”
“Here is another quick and easy way to improve the smells in your home with essential oils. Just fill a small spray bottle with water, a bit of baking soda, and your favorite essential oil. Shake well, and use as a fabric refreshing spray! Lavender is a natural choice because of it’s calming properties, but citrus oils like lemon, tangerine, wild orange, and grapefruit are a great way to get a natural energy boost! Get the full recipe by following the link below.”
“I love my diffuser because it’s so easy to use! You just fill it with water, pour a few drops of essential oil in, and turn it on. The diffuser creates a fine mist that carries the scent of the essential oils throughout your house. And if you’re as excited about fall as I am, why not embrace it a bit early? Follow the link below for some of my favorite fall-themed essential oil blends that are perfect for your home diffuser.”
“One of the most overlooked spots for unwanted smells is the fibers in your carpet. Eliminate those odors by making your own deodorizing carpet powder! Sprinkle the powder on your carpets, wait for a few minutes, and vacuum as usual. Not only does the powder help pick up dirt and hair, it also leaves behind a light, fresh scent. Get all the details below!”
For the office, foyer, bathrooms, and play room try peppermint candles, citrus, crisp linen, grapefruit or another citrus, essential oils, diffusers, and more. Anything to keep your day bright, charged, and productive. After that when it’s time to wind down for the evening, change it up with a soothing fragrance in the like lavender or lemon balm.