Doing the Impossible: How to Make Housework Fun

I need to tell you a secret, but you have to promise not to laugh, OK? Alright, here it goes: Cleaning is fun. Don’t roll your eyes at the screen or throw your hands up in confusion. I am being serious! Some of my best childhood memories involve cleaning a family room filled with toys or organizing a dresser cluttered with trinkets and wrinkled clothes. Cleaning can be fun if you make it a game, and kids might even request to play the game another day. Here are eight creative ways to get your family involved in the chores so your home can shine like new.

The Race is On

I might not be in my teens anymore, but I still play this racing game with my wife. A little competition can get the slowest cleaners moving faster. To start the game, pick a room and race each other to see who can finish first. I usually can finish a chore in half the time it typically takes me when the prize is bragging rights.

Music Time

Sometimes, all I need is a little inspiration to get me off the couch and scrubbing the house. Music does just that, and I am not afraid of breaking out my best dance moves (for the sake of the cleaning, of course).

Treats In Between

I have already talked about my love of food before, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I will clean almost anything for food. I break out the chocolate or gummy bears, and every time I complete a task, I reward myself with one small, tasty treat.

Don’t Let the Timer Sound

When I was little, my siblings and I would set a timer as we cleaned. When it got close to the last few seconds, we would run like crazy to the couch, the obvious safety zone, and when the timer sounded, we pretended it was a bomb. If you didn’t make it to the couch, you fell dramatically to the ground. We continued playing until the entire house was clean.

Draw a Chore

My dad created a chore jar the moment I was born; he saw how messy kids were and came up with a solution. If you left something out on the floor and someone caught you, you had to draw a chore out of the jar. It was a great way to get deep cleaning done, and it motivated us to clean up after ourselves. On Saturdays, we all had to draw three jobs to do that day, and even though we knew it meant work, it was always fun to be surprised with random chores.

Celebration Feast

Cleaning can be hard, especially for children who don’t always appreciate the reward at the end. Plan a feast when all of the cleaning tasks have been completed. It motivates everyone, but it is a fun way to get children involved. Let them help choose what is on the menu and the chores that need to be completed.

Party it Up

If you have roommates, then this is a great way to get everyone involved and having fun for a day of cleaning. Order some pizza, drinks, and cookies, and blast some music as you scrub down the entire place. Enjoy laughing with your friends as you chow down on your favorite foods.

Find the Surprise

Toy rooms and bedrooms can turn into war zones fast, and hiding a surprise in the wreckage makes cleaning a blast. Buy a couple of dollar-store toys for the kids and hide them in the mess. As the kids clean, they get to find a surprise or two under the piles. Use your imagination and the creativity that comes with kids to create your own special cleaning game. As your kids, and you, beg for another day of cleaning, you will understand me when I say that cleaning is fun.

The Best Pizza in New York City

Cleaning is definitely my world, but every once in a while, I have to eat. When it comes to New York City, I don’t have to worry about finding a place to stuff my face with my favorite food. You see, I love pizza, and New York City knows pizza better than anywhere else. My pizza obsession has led me to try countless locations, and I feel somewhat knowledgeable on the subject. Maybe I’m not an expert, but if you need something to hit the spot, these six locations will do just that.

Motorino

Located in a new location by the Williamsburg Bridge is the popular Motorino. If I had to pick two pizzas to try, I would recommend the Pugliese and the soppressata picante. Both are packed with savory flavor and a kick of unique spices.

Rosario’s Pizza

If you aren’t wanting to buy an entire pizza, which is unthinkable, Rosario’s Pizza sells $2 slices for the individual looking for a fix. This pizza is like crack; it is that good and that addicting. While a single slice might seem like a good idea, it might be better to buy the whole pizza because you will be back for more. Remember I said it was like crack?

Di Fara

Di Fara has been around since 1964, and there is a reason it is still in business; it is screaming good! The only problem is the wait can be long because everyone wants to eat here, so don’t plan on swinging by for a quick bite.

Roberta’s

Roberta’s might do some unusual things, but no one can deny that the pizza is delicious. The Cheesus Christ is topped with layers of melted cheese bursting with dairy flavor. For a unique pizza that has a touch of sweetness, ordering the Bee Sting will give you that original pizza flavor with a dab of honey on top.

Louie and Ernie’s

I go to Louie and Ernie’s for white pie on a perfect thin crust. The creamy sauce leaves me licking every drop of sauce off my fingers, and the mozzarella cheese makes this pizza at the top of my list.

Coals

At first glance, the pizzas here look like something I put together in my own kitchen; they have a strange, oblong shape, but man, are they good. Coals just might be my favorite restaurant, with the best crust I have ever tasted. Some people peel the crust off and set it aside for the garbage can, but at Coals, the crust is ripped off so I can eat it first.

Now that I have shared these tasty places, you might be wondering which of these spots is right for you. There is only one way to solve this mystery; you have to try them all. You can start at the top of the list and work down, or you can start at the bottom and work up. It doesn’t really matter which is first or which is last, when all of these pizza places are drooling good.

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Make Your Wooden Kitchen Surfaces Last Forever

Kitchens are all unique. They come in different designs and color schemes, and even the materials used for kitchen surfaces can vary widely. I can give you plenty of advice on cleaning, but depending on the surface, it may or may not apply. That is why today, I am going to focus on cleaning wooden surfaces in the kitchen. It is an area that I think is often overlooked and thrown into the same bag as granite and laminate counters. If you have ever cleaned a wooden cutting board versus a plastic one, then you know wood has its own special qualities. Whether you have wood cabinets, wood countertops, or a wooden cutting board, you are going to want to keep them clean so they can continually look their best. Here are my favorite ways to clean my favorite material that comes straight from nature.

Wooden Kitchen Cabinets

When I moved into my home, my cabinets were brand new. They were everything we had dreamed of, and I often would go into the kitchen just to stare at them. Now, kitchen cabinets are not cheap, and replacing them was something I was determined not to do for at least 30 years. Exactly how did I plan on keeping them so long? By taking care of them with love and a rag. Wood is affected by its environment, and constant sun exposure can cause the wood to fade and lose its original charm. I keep my curtains or blinds closed to prevent the sun from shining in all of the time. Cabinets also get the most wear through the process of opening cupboards and drawers, but knobs do a great job at preventing rubbing on the wood. The last thing to consider is cleaning the cabinets regularly. Never use pads or abrasive cleaners that will scratch the wood. When deciding what cleaner to use, stay away from most cleaners filled with chemicals; they can take off the stain and protective coat on the wood. A basic soap mixture with water will sanitize dirty areas.

Wooden Cutting Boards

Bacteria can easily get trapped in wood, so it is important to clean wooden cutting boards properly after every single use. After you have finished cutting on the board, immediately rinse it with water. This will rinse most of the bacteria out and prevent them from soaking into the wood quickly. Avoid cutting meats on a wooden cutting board, and use soap for cleaning after cutting fruits and vegetables. To deodorize the area, spray some vinegar on the surface. If you love tomatoes as much as I do, then your cutting board might have red stains: Grab some salt and scrub it on the spot to remove the stain easily.

Wood Countertops

Cleaning wood countertops is not like cleaning a wooden cutting board. This might sound confusing, but while a cutting board doesn’t need to look pretty, you are going to want your countertops to look good. As soon as you spill something on the wood, immediately wipe it up to prevent stains. Soap and water are your best friend, and vinegar is your enemy. I know I am always pushing vinegar, but vinegar is acidic and can dissolve the glue that holds your counters together. A bleach mixture can sanitize an area, but don’t overuse this toxic substance. You aren’t going to want to chop your chicken or favorite vegetables on your countertops, either, like you would on a cutting board. Wood scratches easily, so use a cutting board for everything. Be delicate with your wooden surface by using a rag and staying away from scrubbing pads.

Maintenance

Taking care of wooden surfaces in the kitchen is all about maintenance. If you avoid cleaning the cabinet fronts for a year or two, you are going to be left with a greasy coating and a lot of gunk. Getting dirt buildup off might take some scrubbing, and scrubbing can scratch your cabinets and wear them out. So keep this buildup away by washing wooden cabinets about once a month or whenever there is visible dirt, grease, or grime on them. For countertops, wipe them down daily and after every use. Wood is a beautiful look in the kitchen, and continually cleaning and taking care of it is a sure way to help it last for many years.

The Top 7 Things to do Outside in New York City

When summer rounds the corner, my feet suddenly develop a mind of their own. Once the sun peaks over the horizon, my feet walk my body out the door before I’ve even had the chance to eat a proper breakfast. I spend more time outside in the summer than I do in my home. I can’t really complain; I love summer, and soaking in every last ray of sunshine before the weather goes cold is always my goal. What exactly do I do in New York City? Well, thousands of people around the world travel to visit this amazing city, so you can guarantee there is plenty to keep you entertained in the summer weather. Now it can get expensive if you fill your summer plans with the most popular tourist attractions, but there is plenty to do that is absolutely free. Here are seven fun things you can enjoy outside this summer.

1. Central Park

This park is a classic, and there is always something happening here, especially in the summer months. Check out one of the events, walk the paths, and admire the statues scattered throughout the park.

2. Governor’s Island

This is an amazing little gem that is perfect for a day outside. First you get to board a ferry that costs $2 round trip and ride across the water with an ocean breeze blowing across your face. The ride alone is refreshing, but once you cross, you can spend the day having fun with family or friends. There is a nice area to sit and relax, so make sure you pack a picnic or try out the local shops for a special lunch or dinner. A sandy area is laid out for volleyball, and there is a playground for children to run wild on.

3. High Line

If you haven’t been to this new creation, then you must go now. I literally mean right now. Taking an old railroad and turning it into a garden is pure genius and makes the experience unique. The park is high enough that you get views of New York City and Hudson River below. With two miles of greenery lacing this path, I enjoy a popsicle or two while walking the entire length.

4. Public Boathouse Kayaking

Kayaking at the public boathouse is one of the best ways to enjoy the summer weather. It will work your muscles, splash you with water, and keep you entertained. It can be a little addicting, so expect to come back once a week for the rest of the summer season.

5. Staten Island Ferry

Riding this ferry a few times a year is the perfect way to cool off and enjoy the most special parts of New York City. The price to board the ferry is absolutely free, and you get a 20 minute ride both ways. On the ride you can see the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan Skyline, buildings in the distance, tugboats, and Governors Island. Once you cross, you can enjoy Staten Island, or you can hop right back on for another 20 beautiful minutes.

6. Green-Wood Cemetery

A few weeks ago, a relative was visiting and I mentioned a stop by the cemetery for some outside fun. He agreed, but only after giving me a concerned look. Who goes to a cemetery for fun? If you haven’t been, it might sound strange, but plenty of people have made their way to this peaceful place. The soldiers buried here date back to the Civil War, and the history lined along the graves is incredible. It is huge and many of the graves are breathtaking.

7. Rockefeller Center

This building is fun to visit in both the summer and winter months. While the ice rink and Christmas tree are magnificent to see in the cold months, the art, flowers, and landscaping make summer extra unique. There is plenty to explore both indoors and out, and it is this creative place that makes New York City summers so special.

Going Green: The Best Way to Stay Cool in New York City

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The sun is shining outside, and no matter what you do, you can’t get comfortable. Your shirt is sticking to you, and your feet are pink, swollen, unrecognizable sausages. You love summer in New York City, but man, it would move along more smoothly with a little air conditioning blowing your way. I definitely understand the summer sweats, but instead of rolling around in it, find creative, green ways to cool yourself off. You don’t have to have air conditioning to enjoy the summer, but it will take more than the flip of a switch to avoid the heat. If you are ready to cool yourself off in a green fashion, then here are seven things that might help you out.

Eat a Popsicle

Reach into that freezer and grab an icy treat; it will feed the sweet tooth and cool you down. I sometimes get a little crazy with the ice pops and eat 10 in a day, but oh, they are so good – I just can’t help it.

Hit the Pools

Stop moaning and groaning about the heat and get out and enjoy it. The best way to take advantage of New York City summers is going swimming. Nothing is better than jumping into a cool pool and then getting out in the sun to dry off.

Take a Cold Shower

I usually take my showers early in the morning, but during the summer, I have been known to save my showers for the hottest hours during the day. It cools me down so quickly that the moment I step out, my goose-bump-covered arms welcome the heat.

Go Grocery Shopping

Poking your head in the freezer is a sure way to cool you down while wasting energy quickly. It might be tempting, but it isn’t worth increasing the electric bill. Take a trip to the grocery store instead and walk through the fruit and frozen meat aisles.

Expand Your Mind at the Library

While everyone else is suffering from sweaty armpits at home, you can get comfy at the library and read a good book. The air conditioning will blow right over you, making it hard to leave this wonderful place behind.

Fill a Spray Bottle with Water

Keep a spray bottle filled with water in the refrigerator and spray yourself throughout the day. You will instantly feel refreshed and ready to take on the sun.

Don’t Cook

Are you thinking of baking a delicious cake, cookies, or brownies this summer? Well, throw those plans out the window and don’t look back. Leave the stove and oven off and forget they exist, because your new best friend is your blender. Whip up some smoothies, juices, and homemade ice pops. Make blender salsa and salad dressings for summer meals that will cool you off.

New York City summers make it easy to stay green. With the constant sun and extended daylight hours, you don’t have to worry about cranking up the heat, using the oven, or turning on the lights. Will it get a little hot? Of course, but with an open mind, you can make the heat your best friend. Don’t be afraid to eat a few ice pops or browse a few air-conditioned stores. Summer is here, and it will slip away before you know it.

Image Courtesy of Kathy (Flickr)

Cleaning Up with Green Products

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Green is the new thing. I see it everywhere; it is printed on clothing, listed on cleaning products, and advertised on TV. As I read more about a specific product, I am often disappointed to find that it isn’t so green after all. What exactly makes a product green? Most products are considered green if they reduce waste, conserve energy, save water, decrease pollutants, improve air quality, or are created naturally. Others products are marked green when they are created with recycled materials or decompose easily; this helps the environment by decreasing waste.

Slapping the green label on something is easy if it helps the environment in any way. Unfortunately, many products benefit the environment in one way but hurt it in another. If you are grabbing green products off the shelf without reading the ingredients, you might be the one who isn’t benefiting from a “green” claim. The only way to ensure that you are cleaning your home with the safest natural cleaners is by creating them yourself. Here are four green ingredients you can use to make your own cleaning products that won’t emit harmful toxins into your home.

Baking Soda

That little orange box holds a powder with a powerful punch. Not only is baking soda non-toxic, but it is an affordable way to do green cleaning around the house. Starting in the kitchen, open an entire box and place it in the refrigerator to deodorize any stinky smells. Then, sprinkle a little across the counter surfaces and scrub them down with a wet cloth. Walk to the bathroom to use baking soda on surfaces and in the drains and to clean combs and hairbrushes. You can even put it on the carpets to lift out stains and vacuum out smells.

White Vinegar

That strange-smelling bottle might turn you away, but it is liquid gold in the green cleaning world. Vinegar is awesome. It is my favorite cleaning product, and it is stored right in my food pantry next to the animal crackers and bottles of water. It is green, safe, and used inside and outside of the home. Counters in the bathroom and kitchen can be wiped down with vinegar so they shine and are stink-free. Grease stains are easily wiped away by combining vinegar and baking soda and applying this to the area. Sinks can be free of soap buildup and grime by scrubbing them with a rag dipped in vinegar. A vinegar and baking soda mixture works great on shower heads, toilets, and bathtubs. This green product can even be used on your precious car; wipe down leather, wash away water stains on the outside, and polish the plastic with vinegar.

Water

Most cleaning products found on the shelf are diluted with large amounts of water. It helps weaken chemicals, cuts the cost in half, and gets more life out of key ingredients. The same idea applies to green products. Adding water to vinegar will help it last longer and save you money, but it is also the most natural ingredient you can add to your DIY cleaners. Water soaks tricky areas so food and grime can be wiped away easier. It can be combined with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils to create the cleaners you need around the home.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have grown popular over the past few years, and it is no surprise why; these yummy oils are safe and still serve many purposes. Lavender can be added to any green cleaning product for a fresh and relaxing scent. What most people don’t know about lavender oil is that it is an antiseptic and antibacterial substance. My other favorite oils are lemon and peppermint; they improve people’s mood, boost alertness, and work as an antiseptic. Essential oils make it fun to create your own cleaning products, so you can know exactly what is being sprayed in your home.

Image Courtesy of go_greener_oz (Flickr)

New York City’s Most Expensive Luxury Apartments

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Touring homes and apartments is one of my favorite things to do. When I start daydreaming of winning the lottery, I pull up a real estate site and browse through the most expensive apartments I can find in New York City. I drool over the floors, walls, lights, kitchens, the views from their windows, and even the toilets. While I will never own one of these luxury places, I can still dream about walking in one. Exactly how expensive are these apartments? Well more than any amount of money I will make in my lifetime. Apartments range from $40 million to more than $100 million, and you’d better believe that celebrities, professional athletes, and CEOs jump at the chance to live in these luxury buildings. Denzel Washington and baseball player Alex Rodriguez are said to live in $40 million apartments. You can find these apartments by Central Park, throughout the city, and on “Billionaire’s Row” of West 57th Street. Now, to give you an idea of what millions of dollars can buy you, here are seven of the most expensive apartments in New York City.

15 Central Park West

For those who call this complex home, they get treated to a swimming pool, 14,000-square-foot gym, and a cinema. The view of the city from the windows is beautiful, but having all of Central Park right at your doorstep makes for the biggest yard and garden one could dream up.

145 Hudson St., Penthouse

This penthouse is probably my favorite on the list. The price might be a whopping $48 million, but the entire place is lined with glass. Everywhere you look are windows, and it adds to the sleek, modern feel. A parking space comes along with this place, and as all New Yorkers know, that is a rare thing to have.

944 Fifth Ave.

This apartment was built in 1925, and with 18 rooms, it has that old-fashioned style. It covers an entire floor, allowing for views of the city at every angle. Need room for guests? No problem: This apartment has an entire separate living quarters for guests.

One57

This is one of the newest complexes in New York City and has sold a penthouse for a record-breaking price of $90 million. Yikes! The kitchens are a dream to any chef, the bedrooms are wrapped in windows, and the bathrooms are finished with only the finest materials.

25th East 77th St.

Located on top of the Tony Mark Hotel is a penthouse that screams luxury. The moment you walk through the door, you will be greeted with 26-foot ceilings in the living room. If that doesn’t impress you, then the skylit conservatory and elevator will.

157 West 57th St., Penthouse

Drive on West 57th Street and you will be impressed by many billion-dollar buildings; you can also find this penthouse, with a price tag of $115 million. With 13,554 square feet, there is plenty of room for the biggest of families. You can fit grandma, her ten kids, and your cousins and uncles inside, too. The outside of the building has a rich, modern look and is a small taste of what’s inside. Everything is outfitted with only the best, and if you are short on cash, there are apartments on lower levels for only $55 million; that’s almost an affordable price, right?

1 Central Park South, Eighth Floor

This gigantic condo sits on top of the Plaza Hotel and is laced with thick moldings, exquisite floorings, and bathrooms you could only dream of. For $55 million, the views, separate area for staff, and 11-foot ceilings complete this package.

I know my feet will never know such fine floors and my body will never experience these luxuries, but if I close my eyes, I can almost imagine what it would feel like to stand in a window of one of these apartments. My imagination leads me to believe that it would be magnificent.

Image Courtesy of Roman Iakoubtchik (Flickr)

Are You a Hoarder?

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If you watch TV at all, then you have probably seen the show “Hoarders.” It features true stories about people who compulsively hold onto anything and everything. Hoarding comes in a variety of extremes, but most hoarders cannot let go of unnecessary items. As they cling to things, the piles grow as high as the ceiling, and this compulsion begins to directly impact their everyday life.

For one family, hoarding was something to be proud of. TLC spoke to a mom who would hoard anything that held a memory. As her daughter begged her to change, her son followed in her footsteps. It was shocking to watch the mom smile with happiness that her son was now clinging to objects. As the family worked together to overcome emotional issues, they were able to gain the strength to start cleaning and uncluttering their home.

Hoarding for many is a way to feel in control in an unstable environment. As they collect and add possessions to their life, they feel like they can hold onto objects even if relationships fall apart. Oprah Winfrey took part in an effort to help hoarders, deciding to dive right into the wreckage and help families out of the mess. As her cleanup crew started tossing the garbage and junk at one home, they came across black mold. It was trapped beneath the piles and grew safely for years. The mold was incredibly dangerous, and a few of the workers had to be treated for rashes caused by the mold.

Another woman felt connected to everything she came in contact with. This could be anything from candy wrappers to pets. She would hoard it all and never throw away anything. TLC came to the rescue when her co-workers complained about her constant smell. Her house was so buried in filth that her clothing and hair permanently stunk no matter how often she showered. As the clutter and piles were removed, the bones and remains of her cats were discovered. It sounds disgusting, but it is the sad reality of extreme hoarding.

If you feel the itch to cling to things that are unnecessary, start cleaning it now before you’re buried in it. Here are six things you can do to tackle a hoarding problem.

Clean One Closet at a Time

If you start going through the entire house tossing whatever your foot hits first, things are going to get messy fast. Start in one room and sort through the closet. Slowly move through the rest of the house.

Toss it Once

Don’t set things aside to be tossed later; do it now. Those things will only take up space and get harder to keep organized later.

Have a Garage Sale

A garage sale is a great way to get rid of items while getting something in return. Set a date for a month or two later, and gather as much stuff as you can together. The garage sale date will motivate you to work hard, but it will also hold you accountable for getting it done.

Only Have One Collection

You might have collected cows as a child, porcelain dolls as a teen, and comic books as an adult, but you need to limit yourself to one collection. It will free up cluttered shelves and lighten anxiety.

Clean, Recycle, Reuse, Donate, and Toss

As you go through piles of clutter, sort items into groups. Some things will need to be cleaned, others can be reused or recycled, and items you no longer use can be donated.

Place it in a Box

If getting rid of that stack of magazines is causing you heartache, stick it all in a box marked “Toss in six months,” and then write the date at the bottom. When six months rolls around, if the box has not been opened, without looking inside, throw everything into the trash.

Cleaning out clutter and piles of unused things can be very therapeutic and freeing. Don’t let hoarding take over your life; get the help you need and tackle it while it can still be tackled.

Image Courtesy of Simon Scarfe (Flickr)

Surefire Ways to Clean Clothing Stains

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Years and years ago, I dreaded getting stains. It was always a devastating day to find a dirty spot on my clothes; I knew it would never come out. Sure, I threw it in the washing machine, praying the stain would melt away, but the stain was always there to stay, and that shirt went into the garbage. I wiped the tears away and promised I would never let anything get on my clothes again. It was a promise I could not keep. Food, grease, mud, and ink always traveled my way. Then, after the pile of stained clothes reached an alarming height, I decided it was time to face my fears. I grabbed all of the cleaning tools in my house, called up my mom, and began fighting the stains. Cleaning stains can be done, but don’t be afraid to try out different methods. Here are the trickiest things to get out of clothes and some steps used to eliminate them.

Dirt

Years ago, I went on a four-wheeler ride through the mud. When we got home, I was covered from head to toe. I was ready to throw everything in the garbage, but I decided to give it a cleaning chance. The first thing you should do is let the mud dry completely. Once it is dry, shake your clothes until all of the excess dirt is off. Take a vacuum and vacuum the stained area to remove the rest of the dirt. Now, you will be left with the stain. Apply laundry stain remover to the area, and let it soak for a good 20 minutes. Fill the bath tub and let your clothes soak in it for another 15 minutes. Last, grab a laundry brush (or use your fingers) and scrub the stained area. Once the stain looks to be gone, throw it in the washer for a final cleaning.

Sweat

I often dress up for special occasions in a buttoned-down white shirt, and my skin and sweat always stain the inside of the collar. It is gross-looking, but it happens to everyone. To remove that brownish color, spray stain remover around the entire collar and let it sit for 15 minutes. Grab an old toothbrush and coat it with liquid laundry detergent. Scrub the stain and toss it in the laundry machine.

Wine and Juice

If you’ve ever splashed grape juice or wine on your shirt, you’ve probably instantly thought, “Well, now this shirt is ruined.” Although purple and red stains are the hardest to get out with regular stain remover, it doesn’t mean your favorite clothes are garbage. First, boil a large pot of water. It might sound bizarre, but boiling water works great at removing berry stains. Pour the water directly on the stain and allow it to strain through the shirt quickly and into a sink.

Food Stains

Most food stains come out quickly with laundry stain remover, but there are still those tricky ones. If you’ve ever been chowing down on a hot dog and dripped mustard on your shirt, then you know how hard mustard is to get out. Mustard has dye in it, so before rubbing the stain into your clothes, blot the area carefully to remove it. Next, grab vinegar, dish soap, and water and create a cleaner. Laying an old towel beneath your stained area, pour your mixture on the stain. It should soak into the towel, but a little scrubbing is still necessary.

Ink

I don’t know how many times I have had to clean ink from a white dress shirt, but for some reason, I continue to put pens in my pocket without caps. I have become an expert at removing the ink. Like with a mustard stain, you will need to lay the stained area on an old towel. Stream water onto the shirt and blot the area. The stain will seep through the clothes and into the towel. Next, add a little liquid laundry detergent and gently rub the area. Pour on more water to rinse the rest of the stain out.

Oil and Grease

Cleaning oil and grease stains takes a lot of muscle, so grab your strongest pair of arms and get ready. To effectively get rid of oil or grease, as soon as the stain happens, run, not walk, to the bathroom. Grab the hair spray and spray an excessive amount on the area; most of it will immediately come out. Then wash it with the shampoo sitting in your shower. Scrub, scrub, and scrub some more. The stain will be gone, and you can breathe again; getting out stains is hard work!

Whenever a stain happens, don’t immediately toss it in the trash: Give cleaning a fighting chance. Sometimes, the strangest things work, and other times, that stain just needs a good scrub.

Image Courtesy of Arek Olek (Flickr)

Cleaning Your Home Can Yield Million-Dollar Discoveries

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If you are avoiding the boxes and piles of unknown things left behind in the attic, you aren’t alone. Old homes and apartments are known for hiding garbage in the attics, basements, and even the walls. Cleaning out someone else’s trash might give you goosebumps, but what if there is hidden treasure beneath the clutter? It doesn’t happen to everyone, but the chance of finding a precious historical artifact makes cleaning out the home worth all of the dirty work. Here are six shocking discoveries that people have found inside their homes.

A Rare Comic Book

While renovating a wall, David Gonzalez of Minnesota found several newspapers insulating the wall. As he pulled out the paper he found a copy of Action Comics #1, a rare comic book from 1938 that featured the debut of Superman. He automatically knew it was worth something and placed it for sale online. The highest bid was $107,333.

Love Letters

While replacing the wiring in a wall, a Canadian family found a pile of love letters from a soldier serving in Europe during World War I. He sent 31 letters to the love of his life, and once he returned home, he apparently hid the letters in the wall of the house, which he built in 1920. The family that found the letters brought them to Dalhousie University, where they are currently being preserved.

A Long-Lost Van Gogh Painting

Finding love letters and a comic book is one thing, but discovering a Van Gogh painting is miraculous. “Sunset at Montmajour,” painted in 1888, sat in a Norwegian attic for years, as the owners thought that it could not be authentic. Using Van Gogh letters and analyzing the style and materials used, museum experts were able to prove its authenticity in 2013.

Money

I would love to dig around my attic and find money, and Josh Ferrin of Salt Lake City, Utah, did just that. When Ferrin noticed some carpet sticking out of a trap door in the garage’s ceiling, he decided to investigate. He found several ammunition cases against the wall, and as he opened them up, he was greeted with rolls of cash. With $45,000 staring him in the face, he did what any honest person would do: He called up the family he bought the home from, and he gave them the money. What an amazing person!

A Russian Figurine

While cleaning out his New York home, the descendants of George Davis found a life-changing figurine. Inside a box was a beautiful carved Faberge figure trimmed in gold and sapphires. Nicholas II, a Russian czar, had it made for his wife in 1912 for $2,250. When it sold at auction, it shocked everyone with a final sale price of $5.2 million.

A Martin Luther King Jr. Recording

Steven Tull made a discovery in his Tennessee attic that was a family surprise and a bit of history. While sorting through boxes and cleaning the attic, he found a tape marked, “Dr. King Interview Dec. 26, 1960.” Curious about what this tape was, he borrowed a player and began listening to it. He was surprised to hear Martin Luther King Jr. talking on the tape in an interview recorded by his own father.

If you come across a piece of history or an unusual item in your home, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before tossing it in the garbage or sending it to Goodwill, do a little research. Most items made before 1930 have historical value. The year an apartment or home was built is a huge hint towards the authenticity and age of an item. Colleges and museums are great place to ask questions and get advice. Once you decide to sell the item, speak to several appraisers, and don’t sell to the first buyer.

Other items won’t hold a monetary value, but they are still worth keeping. Many people find newspaper clippings in their homes during construction, and whether the papers are worth money or not, placing them in a scrapbook is a fun way to preserve their history and show friends and family members your discovery. There is no way of knowing what you will find in your home until you dig a little deeper!

Image Courtesy of Jamie Beverly (Flickr)

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