Spring Is Here, And With It The Mud! These 6 Tips For Keeping It At Bay Will Have You

He probably won’t wipe his feet before coming inside.

Spring Is Here, And With It The Mud! These 6 Tips for Keeping It at Bay Will Have You “Floored”

Spring is in the air, and it’s pretty much everybody’s favorite time of the year. Nothing refreshes you more than a nice walk in the fresh, warm air. There’s just something about the sun shining, the flowers, the birds, the butterflies, and… the slushy mud! Okay, I set you up there, but it’s true. Spring really is a wonderful time of the year, but it’s also a messy one. Whether you live in an area like I do where the snow is melting into the ground or you’re dealing with spring showers (or both) you’ve got mud on your shoes and, no doubt, in your house. I’m not going to let this problem ruin your spring, however. Read my six tips to find out how to clean the mud once it’s indoors and, better yet, how to prevent it from getting there in the first place.

Clean It Up

Let’s just assume that you’re already staring at mud on your floors and carpets. This isn’t a stretch, especially if you have little ones. Don’t fret, panic, cry, or gnash your teeth at the muddy mess, however, because cleaning up the mud, even on white carpet, is not only doable but easy. Here are some suggestions:

1. Tile Floors: The type of tiling you have dictates the cleaner you can use. Your best bet for an environmentally safe floor cleaner is simply a mixture of white vinegar and purified water. This combo removes the mud safely and effectively without harming your floor. You can also use hydrogen peroxide to lift stains and then wipe the area clean with water.

2. Wood Floors: A mild white vinegar solution also works on wood floors, but sometimes these floors are more porous and can stain more easily. If this is the case, take a chemical-free dish detergent (you can find them in the organic aisle) and gently clean the mud off your wood floor with a mixture of the detergent and purified water. Condition the area with a dab of olive oil after it’s rinsed and clean.

3. Carpet: The worst thing you can do is immediately begin cleaning up muddy footprints on your carpeting. Wait… and breathe calming breaths while you’re waiting. Once the mud has dried, vacuum as much of it up as possible. Then, mix 1 tablespoon of your chemical-free dish detergent with two cups warm water. “Sponge” the mud stains; don’t rub or scrub. Take another clean, dry cloth and apply pressure to stain until the dish liquid and stain are absorbed and lifted away.

4. Upholstery: Thankfully, the carpet solution also works on your upholstery and throw rugs. Provided you purchase chemical-free dish soap, you needn’t worry about ruining the couch after the kids put their muddy feet on it. If you are concerned, however, spot check a small area with the cleaner (the back of the couch works well if you have it up against the wall) to ensure that you can safely remove the mud from it with your homemade dishwater solution.

Better Yet, Prevent It

Rather than subject yourself to the frustration of having to clean the mud stains off your floors, carpets, and furniture, let’s talk about how you can prevent the stains in the first place. After all, “Prevention is the best medicine…” I believe that’s how the proverb goes!

5. Shoes: The first and most logical prevention tool is to remove the guilty party: the shoes. Have a safe space out front or back for your shoes. If you have an entry into your home from the garage, you can establish the space there. If you don’t want the shoes outside, set up a couple of racks to accommodate the footwear just inside the doors and make the new household rule: Shoes off before entry. This avoids other things, such as outdoor pesticides, from being tracked into your home, as well.

6. Flooring/Mats: Another option is to get welcome mats for all outside entries, machine-washable entry rugs for all spaces just inside the doors, and/or tile your entryways with an easy-to-clean tiling option, such as vinyl or ceramic. Then, the rule becomes wipe your feet on the mat, the rug, and then enter the house. Just in case someone doesn’t do a perfect job of wiping his or her feet on the mats and rugs, the tile should catch the rest of the mud.

Spring is in the air and it’s time to enjoy it for all its wonder and beauty. Don’t stress about the mud. Rather, get outside and enjoy the fresh air and warm sunshine. Become a kid again with your children and play in the mud. You’d be surprised how therapeutic that can be. With these six tips, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the spring and the mud that comes with it, so Happy Springtime to everyone!

When Life Gives You Lemons, Use Them in These 14 Amazing Ways.

Lemons make a great centerpiece and air freshener.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Use Them in These 14 Amazing Ways

I have to admit that I love the proverb, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” because in the cleaning business, you’d be surprised how useful this amazing citrus fruit really is. One of the things I take pride in with my business is how we use natural and environmentally friendly cleaning techniques to ensure that our service is safe and effective. Lemons give you the power to clean and sanitize as if you were using bleach or other harsh chemicals without the nasty smell and side effects, especially to those who suffer from respiratory issues. What’s even better? You can use the entire lemon, so nothing is left to waste. Has life given you some lemons? Read on to learn how you can them in 14 amazing ways.

  1. Move Over, Baking Soda: Lemons work wonders in deodorizing your refrigerator and are more economical than that box of baking soda. Remove any spoiled food from your fridge, soak a sponge in lemon juice, and place it in the unit for three to four hours. You’ll be surprised how nice everything smells once you’re done and guess what? Your sponge is now deodorized and sanitized, too.
  2. Toss the Air Fresheners: Lemons also freshen your rooms better than those expensive and irritating (if you suffer from allergies) air fresheners. Trust me, this even works if you have pets. For tough odors, cut a few lemons in half, place them in a bowl cut side up, and set them in the offensive room for several hours. For a more permanent freshener, leave the lemons whole; they still freshen the air, and you can grab one when you need it for something else.
  3. Keep the Fire Burnin’: I’m on a roll, so let’s keep talking odors. Everyone loves a warm and cozy fireplace in the wintertime, but one of the questions I am asked most frequently is how to eliminate fireplace odors. After time, your fireplace emits an unpleasant odor no matter how clean you keep it. Cut some lemons in half, scoop out the meat, and toss the peels into the flames. Voila! A deodorized fireplace.
  4. Keep Your Marbles: If you have marble surrounding your fireplace, or anywhere else in your house, you know how easily this porous material stains. If your tried-and-true marble cleaner has failed to remove the unsightly marks, try lemons – carefully! Cut a lemon and dip one half of it in salt; scrub your stain with the “lemon sponge” and then rinse very, very well, as the lemon’s acid can damage marble if there is any residue.
  5. Brass Knuckles: Lemons also work wonders on your brass, chrome, copper, and stainless steel… anything! Again, you’re going to be using lemons and salt (or baking soda if you prefer), but this time, squeeze the lemon juice out of the fruit and mix it with the salt to make a paste. Apply the paste to what you’re cleaning, allow it to sit for a few minutes, rinse with warm water, and polish dry.
  6. Don’t Scratch the Glass: If your coffee pot is showing its age and your wine decanter has an unhealthy purple hue, you probably need to do some cleaning. You could clean your glass serveware with detergent and a scrubber sponge, but you’ll scratch it. Rather, cut a lemon in half and rub the juice along the stained surface. Allow the juice to sit for several hours and then rinse to a sparkling-clean shine.
  7. Microwave Explosion: We’ve all left something in the microwave too long only to have it explode and leave a smelly, crusty mess. Again, harsh cleaners are not a good idea, particularly since you cook food in the appliance. Grab a microwave-safe bowl and squeeze 3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice into 1 1/2 cups of water. Nuke it on high for five to 10 minutes and wipe the condensation, along with the mess, away.
  8. La Cucaracha: There’s nothing more horrifying than walking into your kitchen and seeing ants or roaches scurrying about. Take a fresh lemon and squeeze the juice directly on your windowsills and door thresholds. Cut up the rinds when done and toss them just outside the door. Identify any holes or cracks where the creepy crawlers are entering and squeeze lemon juice there, too. Mop your floors with lemon water.
  9. We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bleach: Bleach can literally be deadly, especially to those with weakened lungs; never mind what it does to the environment. Sure, you want your whites white, but you don’t need to use harsh bleach in your laundry. Add 1 cup of lemon juice to your washing cycle and watch it clean and deodorize your clothing. It also works well on those kitchen and bathroom linens that mildew.
  10. Put Forth a Good Face…: I’ve been talking a lot about how lemons works wonders when you’re cleaning, but they’re good for you, too. If you have acne or blackheads that are distressing you, lemons have antibacterial properties perfect for your skin. Slice a lemon and rub the juice on your face; it might itch a little but be patient. Allow it to rest on your skin for a few minutes and then rinse clean.
  11. … And Body: Yes, lemon juice works wonders on the rest of your skin, as well. My wife makes a homemade body wash with lemon juice, and her skin is beautiful. She mixes lemon juice, yogurt, and lavender oil, and the concoction works wonders in cleaning and moisturizing her skin. Plus, when using this as a body wash you aren’t putting harsh and dangerous chemicals on your skin that might burn and irritate it.
  12. Finally, the Hair: If you suffer from dandruff or other scalp irritations, lemon might just be the ticket to sooth your stressed scalp. Just as it does for your face and body, lemon mixed with certain ingredients can provide antibacterial properties, and cleanse and moisturize your scalp. Try mixing coconut oil, honey, and lemon juice for your irritated scalp, and see the difference!
  13. Lose the Burn: I cannot swish alcohol-laden mouthwash in my mouth for 60 seconds every morning; no thank you. Fortunately, lemons freshen your breath and balance your mouth’s pH level. Take fresh-squeezed lemon juice and swish it around for a minute. Spit it out (or swallow it for even greater benefits) and then rinse your mouth with clean water after five minutes to remove the acid from your teeth.
  14. Down the Drain: So, what do you do with all the leftover lemon rinds from using lemons for the 13 reasons above? Slice them and run them through your garbage disposal to clean and deodorize it. Contrary to popular belief, you can also compost lemon and other citrus peels, so if you have a compost pile, check to make sure they’ll work well with your mix and add them to it.

As you can see, lemons are unbelievably useful for cleaning, sanitizing, deodorizing, and even taking care of you. I am a firm believer in cleaning and sanitizing in ways that are good for the environment, humans, and pets, and lemons are a key ingredient in many of our cleaning products. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then use the remaining juice and rind in some amazing ways.

Go Green For St.Patrick’s Day: How to Throw an Earth-Friendly Party

Put seedlings in repurposed toilet paper rolls for a humorous and green centerpiece idea at your St. Patty’s Day party.

Go Green for St.Patrick’s Day: How to Throw an Earth-Friendly Party

With the number of people who are Irish or have Irish heritage living in New York City, we take St. Patrick’s Day very seriously. We even throw a fantastic parade. NYC has always had a heavy Irish influence, so this time of year St. Patty’s Day parties abound with, of course, that ever-popular green theme. But some consider food dyes dangerous; what are you to do? Go green a different way! This post will tell you how to throw an eco-friendly party, including how you clean up the mess after the raucous crowd has left the building.

Green up the Tableware

The first thing to consider in greening up your St. Patrick’s Day party is your tableware. If you’re looking for convenience without the guilt, pick up compostable and recyclable disposable plates, bowls, beverage cups, and utensils. You might even be able to find them in a naturally dyed green color. You can go even greener, however, by buying sets of green dishes and glassware to use every year for your party. Washing them in an energy-saving dishwasher uses less energy than manufacturing the disposable ware, and your cleanup really isn’t that much more difficult.

Green up Your Décor

Balloons, centerpieces, streamers, leprechauns leading your guests to a pot of gold… all of these turn your home into a St. Patty’s Day wonderland, but most of them are made of plastic. Avoid littering your home, and then a landfill with a ton of plastic decorations. Instead, go green and find natural ways to put the party atmosphere in your home without harming the environment. First, skip those cut flower centerpieces with green balloons floating high above them and use potted green plants or baby trees instead. You can have a contest and send them home with your winning guests.

Next, look for decorations made from recycled materials that are also recyclable once the party is over. Or, better yet, make your own. Take green glass bottles or jars and fill them with candy gold coins for your pots of gold. Use cloth table linens in several different bright colors instead of paper tablecloths and napkins and make your room the rainbow. Finally, replace all your light bulbs with energy-efficient green ones so your room has a soft green glow to it. You should be able to find some at your local hardware store and you can use all the decorations year after year.

Green up the Booze – Naturally!

For many, the whole point of throwing a St. Patty’s Day party is the beer. So, after you’ve collected all of your guests’ car keys and ensured that they have a designated driver to get them home safely, serve them up in style with organic brews that are produced in an eco-friendly manner. How do you green them up? Serve them in green steins. Okay, not so much fun, but a lot safer for your guests than food dye.

Don’t fret; not all is lost. You can also make homemade beverages sure to please and be green. Call them whatever you want: Shamrock Shake, Green Goblins, Leprechaun Liquor, it doesn’t matter, but serve your guests some green cocktails naturally by mixing them up with Crème de Menthe, or making shakes that can include yummy natural ingredients like mint leaves that, when blended, will help turn the concoction green.

Green up Your Cleanup

The party’s over and everyone is safely back home sleeping off the Crème de Menthe and organic beer. You’re standing in your living room, and it looks as if a tornado struck. This is a good sign, actually; it means everyone had fun! So, let’s clean it up, greenly. If you didn’t give away your centerpieces, plant them to help clean the environment of toxins. Place all your dishes in the dishwasher and your linens in the laundry, and use eco-friendly detergents and energy-saving cleaning cycles. For a natural cleaning solution for your countertops and tables, mix filtered water, white vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide in a squirt bottle, and use that to clean up the spills. You can also use it to clean up any messes that made it to the floor or carpet, and leftover club soda will help remove any stains.

You see? Throwing a green St. Patrick’s Day party isn’t that hard, and many of the items you purchased for this year’s party will be used again, saving you money next year. Going green doesn’t have to be hard when it’s time to celebrate. You can easily make what you’re looking for, including the beverages. Whatever you do, be safe and keep your guests safe during the party and on their way home. And, most importantly, have a wonderful time and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


The Feng Shui Of Cleaning, Minimize Your Clean Time With These Design Tips

A cluttered space is not easy to clean.

The Feng Shui of Cleaning, Minimize Your Clean Time with These Design Tips

Harmonizing your environment is the philosophy behind feng shui, and whether you’re a cynic or a true believer, there’s something to be said about achieving balance in your life. I’m no feng shui expert, but I do know a thing or two about set-ups, and I bet you’ve never thought about how arranging your furniture can affect your ability to keep your house clean. Intrigued? I hope so, because nothing is more rewarding than finishing your chores and looking over your sparkling environment. If you find you are putting cleaning off because it takes too much time, however, you likely don’t have a balanced environment. Let’s talk about feng shui (when it comes to cleaning, that is) and how you can maximize your space while reducing your cleaning time.

Arranging Your Furniture

Perhaps one of the most important things about making your housecleaning easier is how you arrange your furniture. Sure, it might look cool to have an eclectic set up with a ton of pieces scattered oddly about in your space, but an unorganized space is impossible to clean. Like feng shui, simplicity is crucial when arranging your furniture to create an easy cleaning space, and you should keep a few things in mind.

Placing your furniture up against walls not only maximizes your space and makes smaller rooms look larger, but it also makes keeping the area clean easier. It’s much quicker to vacuum a large, square space than to attempt to vacuum between (and under) numerous pieces of furniture scattered about. Another benefit is not having empty space behind your furniture to collect dust, leaving you with the necessity of squeezing between the sofa and wall to clean the area.

Using larger pieces of furniture also helps. First, it’s much easier to arrange less furniture in a uniform and easy-to-clean manner than a ton of smaller pieces. Second, larger pieces, such as your sofa and bed, look natural pushed up against the wall. Included in this mix is a larger, rather than smaller coffee table. What is easier to dust? A large coffee table placed in front of your couch or several smaller tables scattered throughout your living space. You see where I’m going with this.

Worried about moving larger furniture when it’s time to clean underneath? No need. Furniture casters come in all shapes and sizes and make rolling your items out of the way while cleaning a piece of cake.

Easy-to-Clean Surfaces

The size and arrangement of your furniture is only half the battle. Some surfaces are simply easier to keep clean than others, that’s the bottom line. While that suede couch might look elegant in your new living room, your Labrador’s fur sticking to it is going to quickly become a huge frustration. So, what surfaces are better for quick and easy cleaning than others are? Consider this.

Do you have pets? If you do than you might already know that carpeting just works better with pets than hardwood floors for the simple reason that the fur sticks to carpet rather than floats around. Vacuuming a carpet cleans it quickly and easily, and acrylic and polyester fibers are generally the easiest to keep clean. Having your carpet treated with a stain guard also makes cleaning up unexpected messes a breeze.

You probably don’t want carpeting in your kitchen or bathrooms, however, so let’s talk tile surfaces. Sure, it’s nice to have the old-fashioned tile pieces spaced perfectly and held securely with grout… but what about that grout? When thinking easy-to-clean flooring surfaces (and countertops), think seamless, because nothing gets dirty quicker than tile grout. For your floors, stained and sealed concrete, linoleum, or sheet vinyl is the way to go. These surfaces sweep and mop easily and do not have hard-to-clean seams.

For your countertops, think granite, stainless steel, quartz, or laminate. Again, no seams, easy to clean with the appropriate cleaners, and if you set your sink low into them, you can just sponge spills and messes directly into your sink. It really doesn’t get much easier than that.

Cleaning is a chore, but it doesn’t have to be a huge burden. If you arrange your furniture with a sense that larger empty spaces are easier to keep clean, use casters to easily move the pieces once it’s time to clean underneath them, and select materials that are low-maintenance, you’ll find the perfect harmony between keeping your house clean and enjoying quality down time. Sounds like the perfect feng shui to me.

The Dos And Don’ts Of Cleaning While You’re Pregnant

Avoid common household cleaning supplies while you are pregnant.

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning While You’re Pregnant

There are so many things to take into consideration when you are pregnant, and while you are well aware of the foods and drink you should avoid during these special nine months, you might not be thinking about other dangers, such as the hidden risks when housekeeping. I learned early on in my cleaning business that pregnancy and certain cleaning tasks and supplies do not get along, and I had to consider those whenever a member of my cleaning staff became pregnant. I quickly learned what can and cannot be done during pregnancy, and I have a firm grasp on safe cleaning products, which I believe in using regardless of whether one is pregnant. I want to take a moment to share my knowledge with you, as there is nothing more important than you giving birth to a healthy and happy baby, and there is no sense in putting your child or you at risk by doing something you shouldn’t be doing while pregnant.

Don’t Try This at Home

Safe and unsafe cleaning products aside, there are numerous things you should absolutely avoid when cleaning your home during your pregnancy. These no-nos are dangerous for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is no matter the cause of the risk, it’s not worth putting you or your unborn baby in harm’s way by performing the tasks; it’s time to assign these chores to somebody else. While you are pregnant, don’t:

  • clean out or change the cat litter, as cat fecal matter might contain the Toxoplasma gondii parasite known to cause toxoplasmosis;
  • clean up any mold growing in your home or on your foods, as the actual mold itself may be toxic to your and/or your unborn baby;
  • operate a heavy vacuum or attempt to move furniture and vacuum underneath it, as this can cause undue stress on you and your baby, particularly closer to birthing time;
  • perform cleaning chores that require excessive bending, squatting, lifting, and/or stretching.

Your doctor has no doubt coached you on what you should and should not do during each phase of your pregnancy. Of course it’s tempting to quickly wash your floor-to-ceiling windows before your mom comes to visit and help, but you’re not your usual self, and the repetitive bending and stretching might make you surprisingly dizzy and faint; not good for you or the baby, particularly if you fall down.

The bottom line is this: Assign the toxic, tough, and heavy-duty stuff to somebody else in your household and enjoy the break. Strenuous cleaning to ensure that your home is spotless is not worth the risk to you or your baby.

Cleaning Products You Should Avoid

Alongside the chores you should avoid, there are also cleaning products currently sold on the market that are dangerous to you and your unborn baby. During your pregnancy, you are going to find that you are more sensitive to things that normally would not bother you, and this might include the chemicals and fumes in the cleaning supplies that you regularly use. Even if you find that the products aren’t causing you undue discomfort, you should avoid them anyway, because inhaling the chemicals contained in these cleaners is harmful. While pregnant, do not clean with any product that is labeled:

  • Corrosive
  • Danger
  • Poison
  • Toxic

You’ll find this labeling on any product containing bleach, oven cleaners, drain openers, anything containing ammonia, and many other common household products, including laundry detergents and fabric softeners. You might decide to avoid these cleaning products even when you aren’t pregnant because they can be harmful to you and your household, as well as to the environment.

Safe Replacement Products

So, what can you use? Don’t fret; it’s not that hard to find replacement cleaners that are safe and eco-friendly. You can even make your own, which is oftentimes the best approach, because then you know exactly what is in your household cleaners. If you are looking for safe household cleaners to use during your pregnancy, try:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Liquid Castile Soaps
  • Earth Friendly Steel Cleaner and Polish
  • Earth Friendly Stone Countertop Cleaner
  • Ecover Ecological Automatic Dishwasher Tablets
  • Ecover Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • GrabGreen Degreaser Cleaner
  • Method Tub Plus Natural Bathroom Tile Cleaner
  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner
  • Seventh Generation Dishwashing Liquid

If you prefer to make your own pregnancy (and environmentally) safe cleaners follow these simple recipes:

  • All Purpose Cleaner: Take equal parts white vinegar and filtered water and mix in an all-purpose spray bottle.
  • Tile Cleanser: Saturate the tiled area with white vinegar, sprinkle baking soda on the tile, and scrub with a sponge or cloth soaked in white vinegar.
  • Bleach Alternative: Use a hydrogen peroxide/water solution instead of bleach when doing your laundry, cleaning, and even washing your vegetables.

I recommend using these alternatives even when you aren’t pregnant, as they are safe and effective. If you do desire to go back to your traditional cleaning products after your baby is born, however, it is important to stick to a safer and healthier regimen while you are pregnant and in the first years of your baby’s delicate life. Yes, you want to have a clean home, but no amount of scrubbing with harsh chemicals is worth it if you harm your baby or yourself, so when you’re pregnant, keep it simple and keep it safe. Besides, the eco-friendly cleaners disinfect just as effectively!

New York City Is For Lovers: How To Celebrate Valentine’s Day In NYC.

New York City

Imagine stealing a Valentine’s Day kiss from up here! Photo by InSapphoWeTrust (Flickr)

New York City is for Lovers: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in NYC

New York City is an amazing place any time of the year. Most people think about visiting during the December holidays because of Rockefeller Center and, of course, ringing in the New Year in Times Square. If you’re a romantic, however, and I’m sure many of you are, you should know that NYC is also very special around Valentine’s Day. I know we New Yorkers come across as rough and gruff, but we’re softies at heart when it comes to the ones we love, and you will impress your sweetie to no end by celebrating Cupid’s special day with them in the Big Apple, whether you’re a tourist or a local. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in NYC, and here are some suggestions for you and your significant other.

Central Park Carriage Ride

Do this while you still can, as Mayor Bill de Blasio has been petitioning hard to ban this NYC tradition. There are few things more romantic than taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the magnificent Central Park. You can do this during the day or at night, which might prove to be more romantic as you will need to cuddle to stay warm.

Kiss Up High

You’ve seen all of the romantic movies where couples kiss on the top of the Empire State Building, and this really is an NYC Valentine’s Day must-do. Once you’ve smooched atop the ESB, head over to Rockefeller Center’s observation deck and steal another romantic kiss. You can also share a smooch on the Brooklyn Bridge. All are NYC Valentine’s Day traditions.

Take a Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise

Naturally, you’ll be smooching throughout the day and evening, but you also need to eat, and one of the favorite things to do in NYC on Valentine’s Day is to take a Valentine’s Day Cruise. This dinner cruise will take you along all of NYC’s skyline for three hours and serve you and your loved one an unforgettable four-course romantic dinner.

One if By Land, Two if By Sea

If you prefer to remain on land yet still want to impress your Valentine’s Day date with an amazing meal, book a reservation at the restaurant dubbed New York’s most romantic. One if By Land, Two if By Sea offers its diners incredible food and the perfect ambiance to pop the question, including a warm fireplace and a serenade by the pianist at the baby grand.

Spice it Up

It is Valentine’s Day, and you and your partner can get a little naughty by exploring New York City’s decadent side. First, spend some time learning about the history of sex at the Museum of Sex, or MoSex, as we locals call it. You can also visit the New York School of Burlesque to see why more is actually, well, more, when it comes to the age-old seductive form of dance.

For Singles, Too

One thing NYC does not do is leave singles at home sulking in front of their TVs with a pint of ice cream on Valentine’s Day. There is plenty for singles to enjoy on Feb. 14 as well, including the Power Ballads Sing-Along at Union Hall (that’s just fun no matter how you slice it) and the Anti-Valentine’s-Day Party at the Sunburnt Cow for you rebels.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter if you’re married, dating, getting ready to propose, or single on Valentine’s Day in NYC. There are plenty of romantic and single activities. New York City is a great city all year round, which is why so many people come to visit and why it is one of the most filmed cities in the world. We have it all in the Big Apple, and that includes stuff for you romantics to celebrate a special day with your Valentine and for you singles to ensure that you don’t feel left out.

Recycling, Exposed! A Breakdown on How And What Can Be Recycled.

Recycling, Exposed! A Breakdown on How and What Can Be Recycled

Recycling is a little more complicated than separating your cans, bottles, paper, and plastics. I know when I began my cleaning business, I had to take the time to understand what can and cannot be recycled, not to mention what happens to the recyclables after they’ve been turned in. You’d be surprised how many people ask me that. I consider the questions positive; people really are interested in a greener planet and the steps I am taking through my business to ensure that we have one. I’m going to break the information down for you as well. Let’s look at what can and cannot be recycled, and I’ll throw in some extra info to make you a recycling expert!

The Fab Four

You, no doubt, are already separating your soda cans from your glass and plastic bottles. We are all aware of the commonly recycled products that I like to call the “fab four.” As you’ll see, however, it’s not as simple as just tossing the recyclables into their appropriate bins. When recycling, consider:

  • Aluminum: Depending on the can, recyclable aluminum cans include your soda and beer cans, food cans, and even your wet pet food cans. The best rule of thumb is to see if the can is labeled as recyclable. If it is, you can toss it into the aluminum bin; just make sure to rinse it out first, as recycling plants need the cans clean.
  • Glass: Nearly all glass bottles are recyclable, but here’s something you might not know: You need to keep the clear and colored glass bottles separate not just for the recycling plant but for you as well. Clear glass is more valuable, so you’ll receive a higher return if your recycling drop-off center gives you cash.
  • Paper: Newspapers are the obvious recyclable product in this category, and you’re probably beginning to notice many of your cardboard products are marked recyclable as well. If they are, you can toss those in the paper bin provided they aren’t coated in a wax or plastic film and they aren’t contaminated by food. Check with your local recycling plant to see if magazines and catalogs are accepted in your area; sometimes, they’re not.
  • Plastic: This is a biggie, not only because most everything is bottled in plastic these days but also because plastic does not biodegrade in landfills. If you must purchase that 24-pack of bottled water rather than using a filter, recycle the bottles instead of just throwing them away. If anything plastic has the recycling symbol on it, don’t toss it; recycle it after you’ve separated it by its code. What’s the code? Keep reading!

Recycling’s “Code” of Conduct

You know what the recycling symbol looks like, but what are those numbers inside the triangular shape, and do they mean anything? You bet they do. It’s helpful to understand these codes and separate your recyclables by them. The most common ones are:

Aluminum Codes

41 – ALU: This code identifies aluminum as the recyclable content in your cans.

Glass Codes

70 – GL: This number stands for a mixed or multi-part glass container.

71 – GL: This number designates clear glass.

72 – GL: This is the number for green glass.

Paper Codes

20 – PAP: Recyclable cardboard will bear this code.

21 – PAP: You’ll find this code on recyclable magazines, mail, catalogs, and other related paper products.

22 – PAP: A more general code used for plain paper.

Plastic Codes

01 – PET: This code stands for polyethylene terephthalate, which is the polyester fiber used in soda bottles.

02 – PET: High-density polyethylene is also used in plastic bottles as well as plastic trash cans, bags, and even fake wood products.

03 – PVC: PVC pipes are made of polyvinyl chloride. Other products include your “vinyl” flooring and window frames.

04 – PE-LD: Low-density polyethylene is also a material found in plastic bags, buckets, and plastic tubing.

05 – PP: This symbol stands for polypropylene, and you see it on your to-go coffee cups.

06 – PS: You know this one best as Styrofoam, and the chemical name is polystyrene.

07 – O: Everybody needs an “other” category, even recyclables! This could mean the container is made from any combination of the plastics listed here.

ABS: This lettered code means acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, which is a fancy way of saying the hard plastics that make up your appliances, computers, and cell phones.

The Happenings

You’ve sorted your recyclables by material and code, so what happens to them now? Some amazing things, if you ask me! The fab four have quite a journey from your recycling bin to their next incarnation, including becoming a product all over again:

  • Aluminum: Aluminum cans see a rebirth as other aluminum cans. In fact, many of these cans are turned over and reused within six weeks.
  • Glass: The same thing happens with most recycled glass; the bottles and jars are melted down and reborn into new bottles and jars.
  • Paper: You’ve seen the labels on your paper products indicating the percentage of post-consumer recycled content the container contains; this is recycled paper.
  • Plastic: Depending on the type of plastic, your water bottles might turn into the warm stuffing in your next ski jacket or that “wood” desk that isn’t wood.

The Unusual Suspects

Sure, you know you can recycle your soda cans and water bottles, but I bet there are a ton of things in your home or office that you’re throwing away when you could be putting them to better use as well. Some recyclables you might not know about include:

  • Aluminum Foil: Just like your cans, you can recycle aluminum foil.
  • Batteries: You know not to throw them away, but did you know that all batteries can be recycled?
  • CDs/DVDs/Video Game Disks: All of these can be refurbished and then resold to somebody else once you’re bored with them.
  • Eye Glasses: The lenses and frames of that old pair of eyeglasses can be remade into a new pair for somebody else.
  • Foam Packing: Don’t toss that annoying Styrofoam packing popcorn in the trash: Recycle it.
  • Razors/Toothbrushes: If the plastic is recyclable, you can recycle these common toiletries instead of tossing them in the trash.

As you can see, recycling does a lot of good, not only for the environment but for other people as well. Why throw away a pair of glasses that you aren’t wearing anymore when it can be made into a pair for someone else in need who can’t afford the purchase? Recycling or reusing benefits so many that you’d be foolish not to do it. Now that you understand the recyclables and their related codes, it’s quick and easy to separate and reuse things, especially if your city offers a weekly pickup. Check with your local waste management company to see what you can recycle, and then go green: You’ll be happy you did.

Cleaning With Condiments, They Aren’t Just For Food Anymore!

If you want to go green (or save some money) while conducting usual cleaning chores, you might be surprised that some of the cheapest and healthiest alternatives to mainstream cleaning supplies include condiments. I certainly was! Common, everyday items that people usually have lying around in their fridges can help with some of the worst cleaning woes. Sure, the idea of using ketchup, a condiment famous for staining white shirts, for cleaning purposes might seem odd, but every one of these tasty substances has a unique use. Open up the fridge, and for next to nothing, you can tackle some of the worst stains in the house.


Oh, the power of vinegar! If you don’t mind a bit of a harsh smell, vinegar can clean dozens and dozens of items in your house. Some of the most popular items that vinegar cleans are windows, microwaves, showers, and stainless steel appliances. Its close cousin, apple cider vinegar, also serves as a disinfectant and has a more pleasant odor. Most of the best cleaning recipes that include vinegar combine distilled white vinegar with water, oil, or salt.


Halve a lemon, dip it in salt, and rub it against any copper, brass, or chrome appliance. It will show off a great shine. Mix lemon juice and baking soda to unclog minor drains. In addition to introducing a better scent, lemon juice can remove ugly stains from plastic containers. Let the containers sit in a mixture of lemon juice and water overnight. Also, lemon juice serves to remove several different types of laundry stains.


Yes, ketchup actually can lift stains rather than cause them. Polish copper with ketchup; its acidity dissolves tarnish and stubborn spots. It can also help you shine silver. Rub the red substance on your silver item, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, and then polish it off with an old rag.


Mustard powder specifically makes a pretty great deodorizer, so if you plan to re-use old jars for your next Pinterest project, splash warm water and a bit of mustard powder into the jar. The powder can also help you lift grease from really dirty dishes.


The eggy white substance is pretty useful for getting unsightly water marks out of wooden furniture. It can also help you wash pine pitch off of your hands and remove adhesives and glue from glass. Note that olive oil is also great for restoring the luster of hard wood. (And it’s also a less-fattening alternative for eating.)


Salt and salt water have tons of uses and are included in many cleaning recipes. Salt with lemon, salt with vinegar, and salt with oil can tear away many kinds of stains. Here’s another tip: If you have valuable cast-iron cookware, you know that soaps are a no-no, which, in my opinion, can be maddening. Instead, heat oil in the pan, then add coarse salt, creating a paste. Use that paste to scrub unwanted stains away. Also, the best way to clean coffee pots is with a mixture of salt and ice, which you can swirl around inside. Just pour away those awful brown stains.

These cheap and safe cleaning supplies are only an arm’s reach away. Now, there’s no shame in grabbing one or two extra packets of ketchup when you’re out. There are also plenty of other powerful cleaning agents in your kitchen, including baking soda, coffee grounds, and cornstarch that can be used for more safe cleaning alternatives. Give them a try: You might be pleased with the results.

8 Houseplants That Will Make Your Home Cozier And Clean The Air

Several years ago, I noticed that the first few months of the year were always my lowest. After the holidays were over, the winter months felt downright depressing. One of the ways I battled this emotional slump was by brightening my home with several plants. It added a touch of natural green inside the home when outside was still dead and bare. Not only were my spirits lifted, but I also began to experience the health benefits of keeping plants inside. Here are eight of my favorite houseplants that can make your home cleaner and cozier.


This plant didn’t mistakenly end up in the first slot; I love it so much that I own three of these babies. If you snap a leaf, you will see the aloe goo leaking out. Put a little on your finger and be mesmerized by the silky texture that is surprisingly not sticky at all. Rub the ointment on burns and sores to help remedy the pain and accelerate healing. Healing is not all aloe does; it cleans the air by absorbing toxic chemicals while increasing oxygen levels.

Peace Lily

Even the name emits a sense of relaxation and calm. The Peace Lily cleans the air of benzene, trichloroethylene, and the dreaded formaldehyde. I have a soft spot for all lilies, and having this one in my home adds an extra bit of charm.

English Ivy

Mold can be very toxic when in homes, and it can often be hiding behind walls and in the ceiling. A great place to grow English ivy is in moist bathrooms with stinky toilets. Having it in a room for just a day can decrease airborne mold by up to 60% and airborne feces by 58%. How amazing is that?

Snake Plant

If you are new to the plant world, the snake plant is the ideal beginner one to grow; it is almost impossible to kill. I have a few of these in rooms that don’t have a lot of sunshine. As it grows and thrives, you get to receive the benefits of toxin removal without putting in a lot of work.

Rubber Plant

Here is another easy plant to care for with very little watering and light required. Formaldehyde doesn’t stand a chance with a little rubber plant in the room; removing this deadly toxin is its main skill. The only downside is the leaves can be toxic, so I always keep it above my kitchen cabinets away from the reach of visiting pets or children.

Spider Plant

The spider plant is a pet-friendly plant that looks great on the surface of a table or shelf ledge. If you place this plant in a 200-square-foot room or smaller, it will absorb carbon monoxide, styrene, and benzene from the air effectively. It is a filtering monster that doesn’t require backup plants for aid in clearing the room of toxins.


With colorful foliage and an elegant look, croton is a plant that is hard to not love. The maintenance requires a little more watering and bright light, but the toxin removal and cozy aura make it worth it.


Pothos is a fun vining plant that is easy to grow in dim light. Hanging a few baskets up with this stunning plant will allow its white and green vines to grow freely and make your home feel more like home. The most important thing when choosing a plant is choosing something that fits your needs and desires. You don’t have to buy dozens of plants to enjoy the benefits of toxin removal and cozy greenery in your home.

The Best Ways to Keep Schools Clean During The Flu Season

A few years back, I was speaking to a first-year teacher. His nose was swollen pink, and his watery eyes hid behind restless bags. To put it simple, he looked miserable. I asked how his new job was going, and he cracked a smile and immediately began coughing. I don’t know if that was the answer he wanted to give me, but it was the answer I got. Kids are like giant germs that touch everyone and everything. Don’t get me wrong: They are darn cute and cuddly. They give you hugs and adorable homemade notes, and then when you smile with appreciation, they sneeze in your face. It happens, but you can’t lock yourself away in hiding. With hundreds of students roaming the halls, it is quite the challenge to overcome germs. While you can’t eliminate germs for good, teachers, parents, and janitors can all work together to disinfect and clean schools to prevent the flu from spreading rapidly.

Hand Sanitizer in Every Classroom

Hand sanitizer was a brilliant invention! It makes washing hands easy and convenient even for the laziest person. My wife keeps a travel-size sanitizer in her purse, and we have one in each of our cars and in our house. It helps keep the germs away and makes it easy to sanitize our hands after we spend the day around town and before we eat. Having a couple of bottles near the classroom door will remind students to put some on before they start their day. Teachers can have one on their desk so they continually stop germs from making them sick. The most common way to get sick is through the mouth, so keeping your hands clean will eliminate almost all nasty flu bugs.

Teach Washing Hands

Many younger kids forget why it is so important to wash their hands throughout the day. Many rinse their hands in the water after using the bathroom, but they completely forget to use soap. Yuck! Having a simple chart that lists the washing steps and posting it near all sinks is one way to remind kids how to wash their hands. It also helps teachers remember to wash them for more than a quick rinse and lather.

Wipe Down the Room

Janitors are key to a clean school. There is almost always one on duty during the day and another one or two after school is out. Janitors keep the garbage emptied, the toilets scrubbed, surfaces cleaned, and the dust away. Germs usually spread by touching a dirty item and then rubbing the eyes or wiping the mouth. Two of the most popular germy items in a school are doorknobs and drinking fountains. They can get touched hundreds of times throughout the day. Janitors can be a huge asset to preventing the spread of the flu by wiping the door knobs and other contact areas in every classroom. Wiping down and sanitizing drinking fountains regularly will keep them clean and keep germs from spreading.

Have Tissues Ready

The other day, I watched a young woman wipe her nose repeatedly with her fingers. It made me cringe and maybe even gag a little. Just as her nose would start to run, her hand would shoot up to her face and wipe it away. It. Was. Disgusting. I tried not to watch, but I couldn’t stop staring. Tissues are the best, and only, place students should wipe their face at school. If their noses begin to run and no tissues are in sight, either snot is going to run down their face or they are going to wipe it with their hands or arms. Keeping tissues readily available cuts back on the germs covering the hands.

The flu season can be rough, but we can protect our children from the flu by educating students, cleaning and sanitizing contact areas, and washing our hands regularly.

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