12 Healthy Habits To Teach Kids

April 25-29 is Every Kid Healthy Week, celebrating the health and wellness of children. We’ve all heard some of these scary statistics: One in three children in America are obese or overweight, with higher rates among black and Latino people, and it’s been predicted that one third of all children born in 2000 or later will have diabetes at some point in their lives. In order to prevent diseases and keep our children healthy and happy, Americans need to invest in our children. These are some of the simple things we can do to help as parents, guardians, and custodians of the next generation:

  1. Teach good handwashing habits. It’s not just about washing one’s hands. Too often, teachers see kids rubbing their hands for a few seconds under cold water. Handwashing should use warm water, for about 20 seconds, with foaming soap. Time it by singing a song or telling a story, and encourage handwashing at many different points of the day.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, but so many kids skip out. Invest your time and grocery money in planning breakfast.
  3. Teach them to sneeze into their sleeve. This is a healthy habit to avoid the spread of sickness. The “sleeve sneeze” prevents the spread of mucus and germs much more than an uncovered sneeze or a sneeze into one’s hands.
  4. Eliminate soda from their diet. Soda makes a great cleaning agent, as it turns out, but it’s not so great for young stomachs. The sugar alone is cause for concern, but there’s a great deal of bad stuff in soda that bodies both young and old carry around for a long time. Try your best to replace sugary beverages with water.
  5. Go outside and play. Adults treat exercise like a chore because it is, for us. But kids need to have fun when they exercise. Get outside with your kids, and be sure to encourage them to have fun. Throw a Frisbee or ball around. You may even find yourself having fun, too!
  6. Teach them about food labels. Ask for their help at the grocery store. Which cookie, drink, or treat is healthier than the other option, and why? Show them how to compare sodium, fat, trans fat, dietary needs, and everything else on those nutrition labels.
  7. Cut off screen time at least an hour before bed. It’s much harder to get to sleep when you’ve recently looked at a screen, so turn off your TV, tablets, phones, and computers before going to bed.
  8. Eat colorful foods. The people who design cereal know that colorful, rainbow-colored food always get kids jazzed. Instead of offering up sugar-flavored corn, give them colorful fruits and vegetables to get excited about. When shopping, you can encourage them to find every color of the rainbow!
  9. On rainy and cloudy days, still get moving. Have a silly dance party, play a motion-controlled video game, or do jumping jacks just to keep the blood moving.
  10. Keep things positive. Don’t let bullies or, worse, yourself let them feel bad about their bodies. When people exercise, they’re often made fun of. Give them positivity and encourage them to respect and love themselves.
  11. Don’t use unhealthy things as a reward for good behavior. If every time you want to reward a behavior, you do so with sugary snacks, lazy screen time, and unhealthy behaviors, then how will they find the good behaviors rewarding?
  12. Take care of yourself. Be a good role model for your kids and they’ll want to do what you do.

Green With Empathy This Earth Day

There is more than three century’s worth of trash in New York City, in various forms. Some estimate that we, as NYC locals, produce 12,000 tons of trash each day, and we only recycle about 17 percent of our total waste. It’s also estimated that 36 percent of trash we throw away is actually recyclable.

We can do better. On Earth Day, it’s time to explore some of the ways that we can help our community and the world at large.

Earth Day Events in NYC

  • Union Square in Manhattan will be overrun with happy hippies on Sunday, April 17. It’s pretty neat that in the middle of one of the densest and most nature-less cities in the world will be a huge celebration of life. Dozens of vendors and activist groups will be there to talk about their various campaigns. It’s a great day for the kids, with plenty of activities and live performances to keep them entertained.
  • The second annual 5K Green Tour will be happening at the Lowline and many other cool, natural locales in the city on Friday, April 22.
  • For water enthusiasts, there’s also going to be a celebration on Sunday, April 17, at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park.
  • Many other parks will have their own celebrations:
    • Prospect Park will be having a celebration at the boathouse on April 17. It will feature fishing lessons, naturalist lessons, mulch spreading, and a “Bash the Trash” parade, which celebrates recycling.
    • You can help plant new plants at Fort Tyron Park on April 17, too.
    • Or you can clean up litter in Highbridge Park on Friday, April 22.
  • On April 23, the Greenbelt Nature Center in Staten Island will be having an open house. There will be a wildlife meet-and-greet event with reptiles, including turtles and snakes.
  • Celebrate Arbor Fest with the Queens Botanical Gardens on April 24.

Other Ways You Can Take Part

  • Reduce Your Trash: You don’t have to be as intense as this fantastic New Yorker, who managed to produce no trash in two years. Little contributions like using a reusable bag for grocery shopping, creating a compost pile in your apartment, avoiding excess packaging, and finding creative ways to reuse old containers go a really long way.
  • Buy Locally: It takes a lot of fuel and a lot of money to get food and rare items to NYC. That causes pollution. When you can, buy products that are grown locally or close to the city, such as in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or upstate New York. Eating less meat can help with this as well.
  • Conserve Water: Water may become the biggest issue of this century. Contribute by not being wasteful of it.
  • Use Less Chemicals: Chemicals cause pollution both in their creation and their disposal. On this blog, I’ve talked about plenty of green alternatives for cleaning; check some of the posts out.
  • Sell and Buy Secondhand Products: There’s nothing wrong with secondhand goods. End the cycle of production, consumption, and waste by reintroducing items into the market, either by selling or by buying used good.
  • Donate to a Cause: Protect wildlife, reduce waste, and support scientists hoping to find solutions!


Lend A Helping Hand During Community Service Month

During the holiday season and in early spring, we tend to get wrapped up in ourselves and our families and pay little attention to the outside world. But the outside world needs our help. Whether you plan to help clean up parks, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or even fill out an application for the Peace Corps, it’s a great time of year to become more involved. Why? April is National Community Service Month, and the week of April 10-16 specifically is National Volunteer Week! Join the growing number of volunteers across the country: Approximately 25 percent of Americans volunteer through an organization, and two-thirds help their neighbors, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Find What You’re Passionate About

It’s been estimated that more than 50,000 people in New York City alone are homeless. Across America, 15.3 million children live in households that are food-insecure. Meanwhile, some estimate that within the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. And NYC has a direct impact on a global problem: the amount of pollution produced by big cities that put a huge strain on the environment. These are all some upsetting facts in their own right, but perhaps one made you more upset and more inspired to take action than the others. Find not only what you’re passionate about but what you believe you have the power to change. Then, you can be an inspiration to others when you go to volunteer.

How to Volunteer Locally in NYC

A simple way to find organizations in your area that you can help is to sign up for New York Cares and check out local community projects or browse NYC Service to learn about more ways you can volunteer. However, here are some of the top ways to volunteer in NYC:

  • Fight Homelessness: Quite a few volunteer organizations are involved with helping the homeless locally. The Bowery Mission has been serving the homeless and at-risk youth of the area since 1879. The Coalition for the Homeless provides help with proven shelter solutions.
  • Fight Hunger: The huge Food Bank for New York City always needs volunteers. City Harvest is another great organization that can always offer help.
  • Protect the Parks: Get some fresh air this April and beautify local parks with these official events run by the NYC government and its partnerships.
  • Help the Elderly: The Visiting Neighbors organization is a way for locals to check in and help the senior citizens of NYC.
  • Help Local LGBT Youths: The Ali Forney Drop-In Center provides medical help, clean clothing, hot meals, and help to homeless LGBT youths.

Larger Organizations and Long-term Commitments

For those who want to go big or go home, these organizations are looking for some big-time help!

  • The Peace Corps is a government agency that demands quite a commitment (often two years abroad). Those who have completed it, though, have often found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
  • Habitat for Humanity has both short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities, often involving the creation of homes and shelter for locals across the world.

And this just scratches the surface of what’s out there and what’s possible. Start April off with a bang and start volunteering now!

The Most Forgotten Places To Clean In Your Home

It’s almost time for spring cleaning! Before we get too carried away, let’s take a moment to try to remember the nastiest, filthiest parts of the home, some of which you surely haven’t cleaned in a while. Make sure to put these spots on your list!

Items You’ve Likely Forgotten to Clean

  • Toaster: If you enjoy toast every once in a while, like me, and then don’t clean out the crumbs, you have a very dangerous fire hazard on your hands.
  • Dish Rack: You may sense a theme with this list: A lot of the things that are the most dirty often aid us in cleaning. Every once in a while, you should disinfect your dish-drying rack.
  • Dishwasher: Your dishwasher is always full of soap and running water, so how can it get dirty? Trust me; it does. Some recommend washing out your dishwasher with vinegar once a month. Run a cycle with vinegar and a cycle with baking soda using these instructions and you’ll be good to go.
  • Laundry Machine: If you don’t always use bleach, your washing machine can be a dirty place. Start a warm cycle with no clothes and add five cups of white vinegar. Do this every six months.
  • Under the Range Hood: This is a specific type of unpleasant grease that many people really don’t want to deal with. Pop out the filter and go to town with hot, hot water and baking soda.
  • Refrigerator Parts: Black mold is very dangerous to the health of you and your family, and even if you don’t see any evidence of it, the fridge can be a breeding ground for other molds and hidden germs and should occasionally be cleaned. Pay special attention to the rubber sealant on your refrigerator door as well as fridge shelves and bins.
  • Laundry baskets: Dirty laundry teems with bacteria, and if you’re like some of my relatives, who like to fold clean laundry in the same basket they used to carry the dirty laundry, maybe don’t. At the very least, disinfect it first.
  • Between, Under, and Behind Appliances: These dust bunnies can be ugly, and they can also be a fire hazard.
  • The Top of Your Cabinets and Fridge: How often do you go up there? I find that between cabinets and the refrigerator is where a lot of the worst dust bunnies live.
  • Ceiling fan: Don’t keep blowing the same dust throughout your home over and over. Use this super-simple trick with a pillowcase to clean it without getting the dust everywhere.
  • Pillows: Should you clean your pillows? Do you like sleeping on pests and dead skin? Dirty pillows can be very bad for respiratory health, and most people don’t realize they can usually just throw them in the washing machine. (Pay attention to the instructions for drying, and if they allow machine-drying, throw a few clean tennis balls in there, too, to keep them fluffy.)
  • Coffee Makers: Drip coffee machines apparently are one of the kitchen appliances teeming with the most bacteria in many homes, probably because so few know how to clean it. Just run it with vinegar and hot water every once in a while.
  • Makeup Brushes: Ladies (and some men), please don’t put bacteria on your face or in your eyes over and over. There are several methods to clean these brushes, but I’m told that baby shampoo works best.
  • Yoga/Exercise Mat: Foot fungus, sweat, dirt, and bacteria hang out where you like to be spiritually centered. Use some detergent and water and hose it down, or, if you don’t have time before class, spray it down with water mixed with tea tree oil (because then, it will smell good, too, as you’re doing camels).
  • Bath Mat: It’s holding all of that water from your shower collected in one rug; throw it in the laundry.
  • Cleaning Items Themselves: When you’re absolutely done spring cleaning, consider taking the time to freshen up your vacuum and broom, as it will extend their usefulness and cleaning them will help prevent spreading illness. Remember to clean your vacuum’s filter, too.
  • Garbage Pails: I clean these really frequently, myself. It might be time to break out the bleach.
  • Shower Curtain and Rod: Don’t be cheap; replace your shower curtain every once in a while, and wipe down that rod, too. The top is where people often don’t clean, where there’s rust or soap buildup.

Items You Should Probably Disinfect More Often

  • Doorknobs
  • Toilet and faucet handles
  • Light switches
  • Your smartphone, tablet, or device (plus their cases and where you put them)
  • Plastic credit cards
  • Remote control
  • Your purse (and where you usually set it down)
  • Towel and toilet paper holders
  • Bath towels
  • Sponges (especially kitchen sponges)
  • Kitchen knobs, switches, and buttons
  • Pet bowls, beds, and toys
  • Toothbrush cup/holder

13 Cleaning Hacks Using Common Household Items

Are you out of cleaning supplies? That’s likely not a problem. The kitchen and bedroom are full of common items that can be used to help you clean. I’ve written a lot about the awesome power of vinegar and the truly diverse array of things baking soda can clean (not to mention the stuff you can do when you combine the two), but here are some other interesting common household items you can clean with. If you’re trying to stay cheap and clean at the same time, give any of these options a try:


If you have little kids as I once did, you’ll notice that those little fingerprints can get everywhere. They’re especially obvious on white walls. Some white bread will take out those greasy, dirty stains. After tearing off the crusts and folding the bread into a ball, you can rub the marks to remove them.


As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, greasy, gross mayo can actually be helpful when cleaning. It’s great for polishing wooden surfaces, especially when you have dried water rings. Olive oil and salt works well for this, too.


It can clean your teeth, but it can also clean your silver. Squeeze a small amount on a rag and polish with it. After rinsing, it’ll sparkle as much as those pearly whites. Other items that can clean tarnished silver include everything from corn starch to tin foil to chalk. You really don’t need to buy silver-cleaning products, people!


Fill the cap of your mouthwash and pour it in about a gallon of water, then mop vinyl or tile flooring with it. (Don’t use it with wood.) The minty germ-killer can also help to kill germs beneath your feet.


A natural odor-killer, old newspapers can help to ward off many bad smells. Some people stuff them in their shoes to help them keep their shape and a decent smell. Others, like me, like to occasionally line their garbage can with newspaper to prevent bad smells. My favorite way to clean with old newspapers is to wipe down windows with it; it’s less expensive and more effective than paper towels. If you’re too “electronically minded” for newspaper, you could wipe down your windows with unused coffee filters as well.


Please don’t feed this to your kids, but buy some lemonade-flavored packets to clean your toilet bowl with. Let it sit for a while before brushing and flushing. I haven’t tried this yet, but it may be just as effective as Coca-Cola.

A Tennis Ball

Rubbing a new tennis ball onto a surface will clean away scuff marks on tile, woodwork, or vinyl. Add a bit of water and rub away!

Old, Clean Socks

The next time you encounter either a mismatched glove or sock, don’t throw it out. Use that lonely item that’s been cleaned to do your dusting. Just put it on your hand and wipe down the blinds. Afterward, try your best not to chase your spouse or kids with the filthy sock-puppet you’ve created.

Shaving Cream

Plain, foaming shaving cream can be used for many things. It’s a real help when trying to remove stubborn grease stains from a carpet, as the foam helps to break the grease down.

Used Dryer Sheets

Besides just generally smelling good, dryer sheets can help to clean the baseboards of your home. The anti-static properties makes these items a great item to dust with. Also, you can shine metal faucets and appliances with them.

Baby Oil

You don’t need to have a baby to have and use baby oil (and if you do, you won’t need to buy an extra cleaning product). This is yet another option that shines wooden furniture. Use it on your metal appliances to buff out a good shine. In addition, you can wipe down a cleaned shower to help dirty water roll down the drain so you won’t need to clean as often.


When you need a miracle cleaner, turn to your liquor cabinet. Sharpie and ball-point pen stains are the worst, but vodka can help you get them out of your upholstery. It can kill mildew, cut soap scum, destroy stains, and get rid of goo on jars.


There are quite a few things you can do with lemons. Try cutting one in half and adding salt to clean your wooden cutting board or butcher block. Polish your fancy copper items in your kitchen with it. Attack the worst food stains in your plastic containers, on your dishes, or even in your microwave by combining lemon juice with water.

Events Are Springing Up All Around NYC

The beautiful weather is here, and it’s time to wander outside and enjoy some of the springtime festivities and events happening in NYC. With St. Patrick’s Day and Easter just around the corner and plenty of events coming our way, it’s time for New Yorkers to get outside. Even if you don’t attend an event, get out, stretch, and enjoy the sunshine! In the meantime, know that there are some great things happening nearby.

Whether you want to celebrate the American love song to the Irish with a parade, green beer, dancing, or storytelling, NYC has everything on St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Saturday, March 12: The London Irish versus Saracens rugby match is happening in New Jersey for those who want an authentic Irish game to kick of their St. Patrick’s festivities.
  • Sunday, March 13: The Irish Arts Center will be having an open house with tea, crafts, dances, authentic music, and fun for the whole family.
  • Thursday, March 17: Get there early and enjoy one world-famous, amazing parade, with bagpipes and marching along Fifth Avenue.
  • Thursday, March 17: At Webster Hall, there’ll be Irish bands that can rock your socks off: The Narrowbacks and Girsa.
  • Thursday, March 17: Fans of the cult classic Leprechaun can enjoy a showing party at Nitehawk Cinema.

For those who celebrate Easter, don’t miss out on these fun events:

  • Sunday, March 27: After getting up early and going to church, you’ll be able to view some out-of-style, in-style headgear during the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival.
  • Sunday, March 27: If you were one of those kids who took the easter egg hunt way to seriously, as an adult, you can have some fun at the Amazing Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt starting at Slattery’s Midtown Pub.

Doesn’t the blue sky make you want to go for a walk in the park? And then possibly hug a tree? It’s time to celebrate Earth Day in NYC:

  • Sunday, April 17: It might seem a little odd to celebrate Earth Day in the middle of sprawling Manhattan, but Union Square is going to fill up with live performances and environmental campaigns.
  • Sunday, April 17: You can also head to Prospect Park if you want a tad more nature in your Earth Day.

Then there are the events anyone can enjoy that just seem to capture the elegance of spring:

  • Sunday, March 20, through Sunday, April 3: The Macy’s flower show is possibly the biggest springtime event of the season, and definitely worth checking out at Macy’s Herald Square (unless you’re allergic to pollen).
  • Now to April 17: The New York Botanical Garden is hosting its orchid show. Orchids, which tend to be the most expensive flowers, are delicate beauties, and rarely can you find so many varieties in one place.
  • Saturday, March 19, through Sunday, March 20: The Black Party, which is a celebration of all things gay, is going to take over Brooklyn this weekend (and is not the kid-friendly type of gay festival).
  • Wednesday, April 13, through Sunday, April 24: The Tribeca Film Festival in NYC is possibly the most important film festival on the East Coast and always brings creative and fascinating independent films to the table. Either attend some individual screenings (at $20 each), or film fanatics can splurge on a 12-day pass (at $550).
  • Friday, April 8, through Sunday, April 10: Listen to the beautiful music of banjos, jugs, and fiddles at the Brooklyn Folk Festival, coming to numerous locations in Brooklyn.
  • Saturday, April 30, through Sunday, May 1: Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual event celebrates both the blooming of the cherry blossoms and all things Japanese. People from all over are drawn to the Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival), so don’t miss out!

Preparing For The Big Spring Clean Out

There’s more daylight. The weather is getting slowly better. It’s that time of year again, a time that some enjoy and others dread. But both groups of people, I think, are relieved when it’s over. I’m talking, of course, about spring cleaning time. Before jumping into it, use these steps to get yourself mentally prepared.

Step One: Don’t Get Overwhelmed

I’ve know borderline hoarders in my time, as well as people who have a really hard time cleaning their home. Stuff piles up year after year, and whenever they look at the mess, they feel helpless. You don’t have to have ten years of newspapers or mounds of garage-sale items littering up your place to feel that way, though. Even if your place is immaculate, the first step for many people who are getting ready for a deep clean is to despair. Don’t do it; it will be OK.

Step Two: Set Up a Game Plan

Take a day or a weekend and schedule it just for cleaning. Then, try to get a head start on it so that you have time left over to relax. Some people are so linear with their cleaning that they create a task list (which I’ve always found helpful). Brainstorm ahead of time the items you want to clean so that you’ll know how much time to set aside.

Step Three: Delegate

Gather minions… I mean, helpers in your family or who live with you, and delegate certain tasks. If you have kids, either get them involved with chores or make sure they’re away so you’re not constantly distracted.

Step Four: Create a Cleaning Playlist and Get Yourself Pumped

Entice yourself to have fun while you work. Another part of setting up your game plan might be to create a cleaning playlist to keep yourself entertained. Plan to rock out with your vacuum cleaner!

Step Five: Make Appointments

If your cleaning plan includes getting a deep cleaning of your carpets, hiring a maid service like ours, or other types of professionals, now is the time to make appointments.

Step Six: Gather Supplies

Make sure you have all of the products you need to get the job done. Remember that you don’t necessarily need to go heavy-duty; you’ll likely have natural cleaning products lying around the house already. Do you have baking soda? How about vinegar? What about some essential oils or lemon juice? You’ll likely be able to solve most cleaning issues with those types of products.

Step Seven: Start Decluttering Now

Don’t do what a lot of my friends do, which is to slack off on cleaning because you know you’re doing your “big clean” in a few days. Don’t wait until the day you need to clean your whole house to get on top of little messes. Declutter now so you can actually clean later. Clear off tables and surfaces of unnecessary stuff, put away toys, pick up areas like that messy place beside your phone, for instance, and start going through closets. Donate your gently used furniture, clothing, purses, or other items to local NYC charities like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or The Bowery.

Step Eight: Create a System of Rewards

Plan on celebrating when you’re done, or at the very least taking multiple breaks. Arrange for food; don’t plan on cooking on top of everything else. Get pizza, and give yourself some time to relax every few hours.

Step Nine: Plan to Take it Room by Room

If your house is in a really bad way, plan to tackle each room one at a time. This is really the best way to go about it. And if it’s really, really in a bad way and if you don’t have a lot of time, schedule different days for each room. Just make sure your good work doesn’t go undone with clutter in the meantime.

The Chemical Free Way To Keep Your Fridge Clean

We tend to forget about cleaning the fridge a lot of the time. But as the spring cleaning season approaches, it may be time to give that gunk underneath some of your expired condiments a second look. For health and safety reasons, it’s best to keep a clean refrigerator. It helps to prevent mold and promote the appliance’s efficiency. Also, a fresh-smelling fridge is just so much more calming than a stale- or moldy-smelling one! Here are some tips for cleaning your refrigerator with natural ingredients safely.

  • Remove everything. Completely empty out your refrigerator. Put items in a cooler with ice to make sure your food stays safely cold. As you take stuff out, wipe containers down with a rag and soapy water. If a container has cracked or is sticky, make sure you don’t put the item back like that.
  • Throw out expired items. As you take stuff out, check the expiration and “best by” dates and eyeball your produce. If you see anything with mold on it (it’s OK, it happens to the best of us), you’re going to want to take extra care during the next steps.
  • Unplug your fridge. If it’s an option and if you need to take your time with a deep cleaning, unplug the fridge to save energy. This isn’t necessary if you can’t get to your plug (but you should know that there may be some scary stuff behind your fridge). If you can’t reach, simply turn your fridge up to its highest temperature setting.
  • Take out what you can. In many fridges, trays and compartments can be completely removed. Take them out, and if you can, throw them in the dishwasher. If not, let them soak in hot water and ordinary, natural dish-washing liquid in your sink. You can also let them sit in baking soda and water.
  • Destroy mold and mildew. If you see mold on any of these appliances, from the shelves you took out to the inside of the fridge, you’ll want to use distilled white vinegar to kill it. White vinegar is an alternative to the super-powered super-chemical: bleach. It kills about 80% of molds out there, but if you’re nervous, go for the bleach. Another, more natural alternative is old-fashioned Borax, which can be mixed with water and then left on without being wiped away to prevent future growth. Tea tree oil smells great and can do the trick, too.
  • Freshen the inside with a wipe-down. There are a few choices of substance you can use to wipe down your fridge with. Mix two cups of hot water and two tablespoons of the magical substance many of those in the cleaning business use: baking soda. Or use that handy mixture of vinegar and water. Or, instead, combine lemon juice, salt, and water for a nice-smelling cleaning solution.
  • Get the gunk out. Creating a thicker paste of baking soda and water and then allowing it to set for a bit will help to get out the “goop.” I like to attack it with a putty knife.
  • Wipe down the gaskets. The edges of the doors of your fridge can get really nasty, especially if you have pets. Clean the edges with warm water, vinegar, and a rag.
  • Suck up crumbs. Use the vacuum cleaner to suck up any coffee grounds or nasty crumbs at the bottom of and around your fridge.
  • Clean the outside. To clean a stainless steel refrigerator, combine a few drops of natural dish-washing liquid and warm water. Spray and wipe away the fingerprints. A solution of white vinegar and water also can work well.
  • Deodorize to the max. For extreme leftover smells, combine coffee grounds and baking soda in a bowl and leave it in the fridge for a while. It will smell great afterward.
  • Examine the dark side. Oh, no… the horror! The awful part about cleaning fridges, in my opinion, is the too-often-ignored backside of it, where the coils are. Make sure that the fridge is unplugged, and then take a vacuum cleaner to it.
  • Put clean, covered food back. Make sure you’re storing your food in wiped-down containers that won’t crack, drip, or rot, like glass or plastic.

The Best Colors To Use In Every Room Of Your Home

Like it or not, color has a subtle influence on our mood. Brands spend thousands hoping to convey certain emotions with the color choices in their logos. In interior design, the right color can be used to help you relax, lift your spirit, or make you feel safe. Room by room, I’ve gone through the color choices that would be optimal and explored some of the reasons why. Of course, it’s always OK to break the mold, as long as you’re aware of the complex relationships between color and mood.

Your Kitchen: Blues

This choice depends on your preference: Do you want to curb or encourage appetite? Many large chain restaurants are painted red or use red in their decorations to encourage more eating because red subconsciously makes us feel feral and hungry. If you’re like most Americans, though, you’re likely trying to lose weight. Cold colors like blue, purple, and green curb hunger, which is why those attempting weight loss programs often also paint their kitchens blue and eat on blue plates. (I, myself, am usually in the camp of hoping to lose weight.) A soft yellow would be a nice choice here, too, especially if you’re a family that likes big breakfasts, as it can stimulate thinking and boost metabolism.

Your Living Room: Browns or Greens

How do you want to feel in your living room? If the answer is “safe and secure,” you might want to go with a chocolate brown or light brown, as these earthy tones can create a welcoming, warm feeling. Brown represents nature and natural materials and helps a family slow down and chill out. Mix brown and neutral tones together in unique ways to create texture and depth. A color that you wouldn’t want to chose is red, once again, because it can raise blood pressure; however, it can help to stimulate conversation. Green, on the other hand, promotes healing and can help to reduce stress. If your living room is your “I need to chill out now” space, green might be the way to go.

Your Dining Room: Reds

Here is where red feels like home. If you’re like most families, who rarely use the dining room to actually eat in and only clean it up and use it during the holidays, red can help make your guests feel hungrier and talk more. Red encourages conversation and appetites. Again, remember that most restaurants use the color red for their dining spaces for that reason. Use a warm color in whatever room you want your guests to feel welcome.

Your Bathroom: White

If you live in New York, your bathroom is likely very small. White, pastel colors, and lighter hues can create the illusion of more space where there is none. Avoid painting your bathroom a dark color, unless, of course, you like the feeling of being enclosed. Spa-inspired cold neutrals like light blues and light greens are a safe bet here, but nothing quite promotes the feeling of purity and cleanliness like white.

Your Bedroom: Blues or Purples

Relax in your bedroom: Choose relaxing colors that lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Dark blues, greens, and violets are the most relaxing colors. Purples remind visitors of wealth and royalty. It’s been popular since a certain book series (which shall go unnamed) came out to paint a bedroom black or gray, which can exude class and sophistication. Too much of each, though, creates a depressing feel.

How To Hide Pet Odors In Your Home

Have you seen those “nose-blind” commercials? I have, too, and I think it’s true: Some pet owners really just live in a stench they’re not aware of. Many dog and cat owners take precautions to avoid a stinky house, like making sure the dog doesn’t track in mud or hastily brushing the cat hair off of the couch before guests come over. On the other hand, some of the most important things a pet owner can do to prevent bad smells are done on a nearly constant basis and not right before people come over. Here are some things one can do to get better control of pet scents, from urine to that oh-so-familiar wet dog smell.

The Secret to Fresh Kitty Litter

Changing the litter frequently is important, but if you’re living in a small apartment in NYC where the scent can travel across the whole space, it might not be enough. Buy a covered litter box, one with plenty of room for a cat to move and turn around, to prevent the spread of litter across your floors. You don’t need to buy a ridiculous technological wonder, just a cover. Also, give your cat a little entryway to wipe off its paws. Don’t forget that the box itself needs to be wiped down and cleaned every once in a while in addition to being freshened with new litter. The box itself should also be replaced about once a year.

Having a Clean Carpet

The secret of making sure your carpet won’t stink is to not let accidents sit around. Try to get pet messes up as soon as you possibly can. After picking up as much as possible with paper towels, you’ll want to cover up the scent to avoid future accidents there (as pets I’ve known over the years tend to pee in the same spot after that if you don’t get it up well enough). A mixture of distilled vinegar, water, and baking soda will allow you to blot up stains and get rid of the smell quickly. The next thing to do for set-in stains or major odor problems is to steam-clean your carpet. In very extreme cases, if you’ve already done the whole steam-cleaning thing and you have a very bad stench still (I’m talking to the landlords of New York here), the best choice might be to spray the subflooring with vinegar. Vinegar will neutralize the odors.

Getting Rid of Pet Odor in the Couch

A favorite trick is to get up pet fur with a squeegee or a damp rubber glove. After getting the hair off, though, the odor often still remains. Take off what you can, like pillow covers and cushions, and wash it with laundry detergent and a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar. For the upholstery that you can’t take off and launder, spread baking soda on it overnight. After that, vacuum the powder away. Now, it will just smell fresh!

Tips for Pet Cleanliness

A veteran pet owner can often spot the difference between a normal pet smell and a strange smell, and a bad odor in your house from your pet might be caused by its poor health. Make sure your dog is regularly bathed. Check its ears for infection, its teeth for oral hygiene issues, and its skin for any hot spots. The same goes for cats. Older cats may not be able to clean themselves as well, so a bathing regimen might be necessary. In general, pets should be checked and looked after with the aid of an occasional vet visit. Some owners have told me that even changing their dog’s diet has resulted in a change in their smelliness. Some essential oils, like rosemary and eucalyptus, have been known to help prevent fleas and ticks and will make your house smell great at the same time.

Washing Your Pet’s Toys and Items

The source of the stink might be the thing your pet uses the most, like your dog or cat’s bed, for instance. If your dog has a favorite chew toy, giving it a rinse or a wash might not be the worst idea. Check their beds, their favorite blankets and towels, their food trays, and also the item that many owners forget about: your pet’s collar. Pet food itself also has a certain aroma, so store that in an airtight tin rather than the loose bag it often comes in.

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