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)

16 of the Last Things You Want to Hear From a House Guest

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Your house guests have arrived with big smiles, but behind those grins are snarky comments about your home. From the moment they walk in, you are greeted with passive-aggressive remarks about the carpet, dusty shelves, dirty dishes, and cluttered cabinets. While we all do our best to keep our homes clean, sometimes cleaning tasks are forgotten or saved for later. I love having company, but the ones who compliment and appreciate my hospitality are my favorites. We have all experienced the house guest who isn’t quite so friendly. Here are 16 things a guest might say that will make you cringe – and 16 ways you can prevent that from happening.

The guest walks in and looks at the carpet with their nose scrunched up: “Do I really need to take off my shoes?”

While my carpet isn’t brand new, it certainly won’t get your socks dirty! Instead of worrying about replacing your carpet, do a quick vacuum in the front room to let guests know you keep your carpets clean.

While staring at a streak of food on your couch, they ask, “Is leather hard to keep clean?”

Kids spill, adults spill, and sometimes, our pets spill. There are going to be messes that you didn’t even realize happened. Try to do a quick walk through your house to check for hidden messes before your guests arrive.

They intentionally wipe a finger across the furniture: “I didn’t even realize it was dusty until I touched it.”

Some places in my house get dusty seconds after I finish dusting! It is completely frustrating, but I have found a quick dusting with a feathered brush goes a long way. I save more detailed dusting for only one day a week or twice a month.

Rubbing the glass in a picture frame with her shirt, they ask, “Who is that a picture of? It’s hard to see through this glass.”

Picture frames are so easy to forget to clean. I never realize they are dirty until someone else is looking at them. Put them on a monthly cleaning list to remind yourself, and prevent embarrassing T-shirt cleans.

Pointing towards several hand prints scattered across the doors, a disgusted house guest says, “Your kids must love those doors.”

Kids love to touch glass doors, and while you might clean them daily, little hands quickly find them again. I wish I could give you a remedy, but instead, I can only suggest enjoying those prints before you wipe the last one away.

Staring at a dirty spot on the carpet, they sweetly say, “I vacuum my floors every day.”

I try to vacuum my floors daily, but sometimes I simply don’t have the time! If you are struggling to keep an entire house clean, only vacuum the main areas and save the bedrooms for later.

After walking by a heaping pile of laundry, they ask, “Are you doing laundry soon?

I only do laundry once a week, and by the end of the week, the load is huge. Building a laundry shelf to hold several baskets is a great way to keep laundry off the floor and organized.

Glancing over at a full sink of dishes, they question, “Is the dishwasher broken?”

When the dishwasher is full, dishes can often sit in the sink waiting for an empty spot. Instead of only using the dishwasher to clean your dishes, wash the larger items by hand and get them all done at once.

Pointing to the obvious streaks on the mirror, they ask, “What kind of cleaner do you use on your glass windows?”

Some cleaners are terrible. This is something you have to test and try on your own; you will find what works best for you, so you can proudly look in a streak-free mirror.

The kids’ toys are everywhere, and your guest becomes concerned about their safety: “I almost tripped on something in that room.”

Whether it is toys or some other item, nothing is more annoying than a guest who can’t walk around or over something. Focus on keeping clutter out of the main rooms and off the floors, and leave the messes behind hidden doors.

With a slow, dramatic glance around your cluttered home, your guests decides to bring up your more-organized friend: “Have you ever been to Jane’s house? She just keeps it so clean.”

I keep my house clean, but there are days where it doesn’t look its best. I always save my deep cleaning for the day before a guest arrives; this ensures that it will be looking its best. I scrub down the bathrooms, clean inside the refrigerator, mop the floors, wipe down the doors, finish the laundry, and vacuum the entire house.

Food, dishes, and other random items are scattered on the counters, so naturally, they ask, “What did you have for dinner?”

Oh, the dinner question. To avoid this awkward question, clean up the dishes right after eating and get that dishwasher running.

The microwave is an embarrassing mess, and your guest sneakily hints towards it: “Do you have a paper towel I can put over my food in the microwave? I wouldn’t want this food to splatter all over in there.”

Paper towels work great at preventing microwave splatters, but sometimes, they fall off, and within seconds, the microwave can be destroyed. For a quick clean, heat a cup of vinegar and water in the microwave. Everything should wipe off without scrubbing hard or working your muscles.

Then there are the guests that don’t even try to hide their disgust: “What’s that smell?”

Sometimes homes stink, and you might not even know it. For a fresh smell in your home, heat a pot of water with orange peels and cinnamon sticks. It will get rid of bad odors and make your home smell lovely.

There are few blankets on the couch, several books, and a couple of children, but your guest is looking at your couches like a nasty infection: “I don’t really feel like sitting.”

We live in our house and actually use our couch! Of course there are going to be people and blankets on it! Have a basket for blankets and a basket for books and knick-knacks, so you can quickly clear the couch for house guests.

The dishwasher left some water streaks on your glasses, but your guest can’t help commenting: “Are these dishes clean?”

Water streaks are nothing but an innocent streak of clean water. They can’t hurt anyone, but they also aren’t a pretty sight to see while you are drinking. Make sure you add a glass cleaner when you run the dishwasher to prevent streaks, but washing and drying glass cups by hand is a sure way to prevent streaks.

I always try to have my house looking its best before anyone arrives, but even at its cleanest, I have still heard the remarks. When people want to find something mean to say, they are going to find it. Do your best to get your house clean, and then sit back and relax. If your guest still has something rude to say, let it go and enjoy your fresh-looking home through positive eyes.

Image Courtesy of kbcanon (Flickr)

Everyday Organization

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A few months ago, we got behind on cleaning. The holidays had created a lot of unexpected messes, and the laundry somehow tripled overnight. As we tried to get our home back to normal, I started forgetting errands and misplacing important things, and my drawers and closets unorganized themselves. Normal everyday tasks became a struggle, and for an entire week, I completely lost my mind. Once our home was cleaned and I was finally back on schedule, I realized how important it is to do daily cleaning tasks to stay organized and stress-free. Here are ten things you can do every day to make your life more organized so it can run smoothly.

  • Create a List: At the end of each day, I create a list of the things I need to complete the next day. This is key to good organization, but it also helps me sleep through the night.
  • Set Out Clothes for the Next Morning: I remember doing this as a child, and I embraced it as an adult a few years ago. It helps my morning run smoothly and leaves enough time to put my pajamas away after getting dressed.
  • Make the Bed: This is something I do every single day. It is easy and sets the mood for the rest of my schedule.
  • Wipe Down the Shower Daily: It keeps the bathroom fresh and cuts back on tub buildup.
  • Wipe Down the Bathroom Counter After Getting Ready: After brushing your teeth and doing your hair, take a minute to wipe down the counter with cleaner and a rag. It will remind you to put away cosmetics and keep your bathroom feeling fresh.
  • Run the Dishwasher Before Bed: Depending on how many dishes you use throughout the day, running the dishwasher at night ensures clean dishes in the morning. Whenever it runs during the day, the dishes begin piling up as they wait for an empty spot in the dishwasher, so always run it at night.
  • Empty the Dishwasher in the Morning: An empty dishwasher makes it easy to place dishes inside with very little effort. Emptying the dishwasher literally takes three minutes or less; I know this because I have actually timed myself!
  • Always Be Putting Something Away: Whenever you leave a room, make sure there is something in your hand. If you leave the living room, grab those shoes and take them to the closet. It will keep the house continually picked up, and it will only add a few seconds to your day.
  • Put Stuff Where it Goes: We are all guilty of shoving a paper in the back of the dresser, sticking a screwdriver in a drawer, or tossing things into a corner to put away later. While it saves a step or two of walking, it only clutters a home and makes it difficult to stay organized. Whenever the temptation comes to shove things where they don’t belong, remind yourself that it will only take a few extra seconds to put it where it goes and will maintain organization.
  • Clean Up Before Bed: While getting ready for bed, put your clothes away, check that each room is clean, and congratulate yourself on your accomplishments for that day. It is always refreshing to wake up to a clean house and not to a bunch of dreaded chores left from the night before.

It always amazes me how quickly a home can become a mess when I don’t do simple daily tasks. Staying organized means doing the little things every single day. It always helps to remind myself how easy and quick it is if I keep up on it and how long it takes if I miss a day or two. Cleaning can be hard, but when you are able to keep your home continually organized, it is an incredibly rewarding feeling.

Image Courtesy of Emily May (Flickr)

Natural Ways to Unclog a Drain

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Today I woke up and got ready for the day. Things were going good; I got dressed, made my bed, and headed to the bathroom. As I began brushing my teeth, the water in the sink slowly rose higher and higher. I turned off the water to give it a moment to drain, but nothing moved. The water sat silently, and I stood there waiting with a mouth full of toothpaste. It had to go down eventually, right? With my eyes squinted tightly, I could almost see the water level lower. As the seconds ticked by and my gag-reflex kicked into gear, I ran from the bathroom towards the kitchen to free my mouth and finish brushing my teeth. The drain was definitely clogged. It happens to everyone, but it sure throws off your routine when it does. Here are some natural ways you can get your drain cleaned and prevent future unwanted clogging.

Prevent Clogging

One of the easiest ways to clog a drain is with hair, especially in the bathroom. Hair loves to stick to hair, and a big wad of it is going trap itself in your drain. For showers and bath tubs, you can actually buy drain covers that catch hair. Other drains have small holes to prevent hair and other larger debris from escaping down the drain. Be aware of what you place in your sinks, and don’t wash whatever is in there down with water.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda is an amazing natural cleaner and deodorizer. Use one cup of baking soda with a cup of vinegar and watch science happen. The chemical reaction helps loosen the clog and cleans the drain out with intense foaming. If the clog doesn’t dissolve the first time, don’t be afraid to rinse and repeat.

Salt, Borax, and Vinegar

Borax is one of my favorite cleaners in the laundry room; it eliminates odors and helps my clothes get cleaner. Using ½ cup of salt and ½ a cup of borax mixed with 1 cup of vinegar can work wonders on a clogged drain. This drain cleaner does take a little patience; let it sit in the drain for an hour before running the water.

Boiling Water

This is one of the simplest drain cleaner methods that people don’t seem to think about. It works great in the kitchen sink where oils harden inside the drain. If the water is hot enough, it can heat the oils just enough to wash them the rest of the way down the drain. For this method to work best, boil several pots of water and flush them down quickly together.

A week or two before my drain completely clogged up, there were plenty of warning signs that my drain was due for a cleaning. The water wasn’t running down smoothly, and it always took a few seconds for it to drain small amounts of water. As soon as the water slowed, I should have grabbed my box of baking soda and my bottle of vinegar. Drains are going to clog; it is what they do! Continually cleaning your drain is a sure way to prevent clogging, and it also keeps away unpleasant odors lurking in the pipes. Whenever you scrub down your bathroom or polish your kitchen sink, remember to add the drains to the list. It only takes a few seconds, but is a sure way to prevent clogging in the future.

Image Courtesy of R/DV/RS (Flickr)

Make Your Own Natural Air Fresheners

natural-air-fresheners

I am sorry to say this, but you smell. You really, really smell. Now, before you run off to your bedroom crying, it might help you to know that everybody smells: I do, you do, we all do. I remember that when I was in grade school, there was this girl who always smelled like fried chicken. Now, whenever I eat fried chicken, it brings back memories of sitting on the school bus next to her. Years later, in high school, my best friend’s home always smelled like vanilla. It was a very comforting scent that made me feel at home. We all have a scent, and this can be a good or bad thing. Nobody wants to have the stinky home, and if you are use to a musty or stale smell, you might not even realize how unpleasant your home is. If you want your guests, clothing, and home to smell a little bit sweeter, here are three ways you can create your own natural air freshener.

On the Stove

This is a fun way to warm up your home with sweet smells. To get started, fill a pot up with water and place it on the stove. Then, using your favorite fruits, cut them up and add them to the water; citrus fruits work best. Begin adding spices and herbs to create your own personal scent; try vanilla, cinnamon sticks, almond extract, whole cloves, pine cones, peppermint extract, rosemary, coconut extract, cedar, or even twigs. Once the water begins heating the ingredients, a very pleasant natural smell will fill your home and drift into your carpets, furniture, and clothing. There are plenty of ways to create a yummy scent, but remember to keep it simple by sticking to three ingredients or fewer.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are heaven in the natural cleaning world. We love to clean with products that aren’t going to attack our lungs or kill brain cells, but natural products tend to leave no smell at all. That is what makes essential oils so amazing. You can add a drop of lavender to your clothing, a drop of orange to your cleaner, and then create your own natural air freshener, too. To create a spray or diffuser, fill a bottle with a cup of water, 1-2 tablespoons of unflavored vodka, and an essential oil. Spray it in the air, on the furniture, and throughout the home.

Quick Deodorizers

When you don’t have the time or the ingredients to whip up your favorite air freshener, then grab a bottle of vinegar. I know vinegar has a strong smell, but it is awesome at deodorizing, and the scent will quickly fade away. Baking soda works awesome at attacking smells in the refrigerator or a closed space; leave the top open and let it do the work.

There are so many ways to freshen up your home without using harmful chemicals. One of the best ways to add a yummy scent is by bringing nature inside – just think about Christmas! Plants clean the air, and flowers fill it with their pleasant smell, so add a few to your most-used rooms. I love walking into a home that not only smells clean but also smells welcoming. Don’t let your home be the stinky one; grab your favorite essentials oils and fruits and start making your own air freshener.

Image Courtesy of Audrey (Flickr)

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