Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stainless Steel

Is your stainless steel a little less than stainless? Don't worry, there are a couple of ways to bring the shine back, and you probably have the solution close by.

1. For flatware and pans, fill your kitchen sink with hot water and add a little ammonia (open a window if you can, to help with the fumes). Then, simply soak your stainless for a few minutes. Rinse and dry.

2. For flatware and pans, fill your kitchen sink with hot water and add a little ammonia (open a window if you can, to help with the fumes). Then, simply soak your stainless for a few minutes. Rinse and dry.

3. Looking for an easy way to clean your stainless steel sink? Before you go to bed, soak some paper towels with bleach and line the sink with them. When you get up in the morning, the sink will shine!

4. If you aren't too keen on bleach, scrub the sink with club soda. Just pour some club soda on a clean cloth and polish. You'll see the smudges and stains disappear like magic.

Sharpening Knives

Nothing will slow you down faster in the kitchen than a dull knife. Well I have some easy ways to keep your knives nice and sharp.

1. If you have some clay pots that you plan on using in the garden, hold off. They are just the tool you need. Make sure your pot is clean and flip it upside down on the counter. Hold your knife at a forty-five degree angle to the pot and run the blade in one direction across the bottom; flip the knife over and repeat on the other side of the blade.

2. No clay pots? No problem. Check the bottom of your coffee mugs. A lot of them are unglazed on the bottom. Use the mug just like the clay pot.

3. If you have food stuck to your wood handled knifes don't stick them in the sink to soak. Sitting in water will ruin those handles. Instead, fill a vase with hot soapy water only as deep as the knife blade and soak the knife standing up in the vase.

4. Also, remember never to put wood handled knives in the dishwasher, because the hot water will dry out the handles. If you've already made one of these mistakes, rub the handles with some mineral oil and let it sit overnight. This will refortify the wood; just remember to wash them well in the morning so the handles aren't sticky.

5. To keep those knives sharpened, flatten some paper towel tubes and slip your knives in the tube and they'll stay nice and sharp.

Check out my tutorial on How To Build a Trellis on AOL's DIY Life

Along the side of my house, there's an expanse of facade that would make a perfect home for a garden trellis. I headed to my local home improvement store in search of one of a simple, latticed trellis, but couldn't find the right size.

Just as I was about to give up, I passed a big bundle of pressure-treated 1 x 2 lumber. Why not try to custom build one to fit the space, I thought, rather than spend so much time looking for the perfect trellis? And so that's what I did, and you can too. It's easy!

Check out the how to on DIY Life!

It's just that simple!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Summertime Stains

Fun in the sun? Not when you spend the summer fighting stains! I have some quick and easy solutions to fighting some of the most common stains this time of year!

1. Sun screen is a necessity in the summer but it can leave greasy stains on your clothes. Just treat with a little grease cutting dish soap. Rub it in and then wash the item in cold water.

2. Another summertime stain - grass. Try shampoo designed especially for oily hair. Saturate the stain with shampoo and wash in cold water. Or you can just put a dab of rubbing alcohol onto the spot. This will also tackle the mustard stains that the kids pick up at the ballgame or backyard barbeque.

3. Clothes are a magnet for barbeque sauce stains. Treat them by sponging with equal parts of white vinegar and water.

4. Ice cream stain? Wet the stain thoroughly and dab with unflavored meat tenderizer. Then wash the item in cold water!

Household Helpline

Little frustrations pop up everyday in life, don't let them get you! I have some ideas to help you get back on track!

1. In the kitchen, if measuring sticky substances like peanut butter and or honey is a problem, dip your measuring cups or spoons in hot water and then fill them up. The heat will help those items slide easily from the cup or spoon.

2. If the ice in your ice bucket always seems to melt too fast, use a funnel instead of an ice scoop. The ice will stay in the funnel and the water will wash easily away.

3. If your chairs are always scuffing your walls and you don't want to install a chair rail, keep white toothpaste handy. A little on a damp cloth will remove scuffs and spots from any painted surface with ease.

4. And speaking of scuffs, if a protective pad for a chair foot has fallen off and you don't have any more on hand, cut a slice from a cork and hot glue it to the foot. It will work beautifully! As a bonus, if you have a chair that's a little wobbly cut the cork a little thicker than all of the other pads that will keep it from wobbling.

Clean Baskets

If you have baskets around your house, you know that they can get dusty and dirty. Here are some easy ways to clean them up!

1. Use a paintbrush to dust your baskets regularly. Its stiff bristles will get into all the crevices. Or, try the small brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

2. Don't be afraid to wash your baskets; it's good to wet them down once in a while to keep the reeds from cracking! Wash baskets by putting it into the sink and wetting it down with your sprayer attachment. Dip a nail brush into some soapy water and lightly scrub the reeds. When you've finished scrubbing, use the sprayer to rinse it. Then put it on a towel in a sunny window to dry. Make sure that the basket dries all the way; too much water can cause it to rot!

3. For a basket with dyed reeds, you need to check before you wash it to make sure the color is not going to run. Just rub a wet cloth on the colored area. If the color comes off on the cloth, don't wet it. If your basket is painted you should just wipe it with a soft cloth.

Smart & Simple

Necessity is the mother of invention, and that is exactly where these tips came from. I have some simple and easy solutions to some common problems.

1. Everyone knows that window blind cords are a chocking hazard for kids, but what do you do if you're traveling or renting and their not tied up. A couple of suction hooks is all you need. Stick them to the window and wind the cord up and out of the reach of the kids. (These hooks are also great for organizing necklaces so they don't get all knotted up in the jewelry box. Just hang them inside your closet door and drape the chains over the hooks).

2. If you need a temporary place for organizing guests to hang extra towels, try a wreath hanger. It fits neatly over the door to hold the towels and it can be stashed away when you don't need it.

3. If your mattress slips and slides all over the place a length of non-skid rug padding can help. Slip it between the mattress and a box spring. Problem solved.

4. Throw rugs can be slippery too, but because they're so light sometimes rug pads won't work, the fabric doesn't hold like it should. Flip the rug over and apply rows of clear acrylic latex cover to the underside of the rug. Let it dry and flip the rug back over,. It will give you a non-skid surface that has a real grip!

5. Simple and inventive solutions that can help you with your small problems

Wood Furniture Care

I love the look of wood furniture, but knowing what to do to keep it looking beautiful can be confusing. Here are some ideas to keep your wood looking better - longer.

1. If a piece of furniture has been in a sunny spot and the wood's dried out, you can restore its moisture with petroleum jelly. Rub it into the furniture with a soft cloth until you can see the finish come through. Then, take another cloth and buff it to a shine.

2. Remove excess polish, make a solution of white vinegar and water and put it on a well rung out cloth. This will strip away your old polish without damaging your wood. (If you add a tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture it'll help re-fortify the wood!)

3. For regular dusting wear cotton gloves, they're easy to wash and they won't leave any fingerprints behind!

Alternative Uses for Cola

If you have some cola in your refrigerator, pull out a can because it can help with all sorts of household tasks.

1. If you have cooked on crud, pour some cola into the pan, and bring it to a boil. The carbonation and heat will work together to loosen that mess! This same procedure will remove lime scale from the inside of your teapot. Just pour it in and bring to a boil.

2. Cola is also a great de-greaser; pour over a load of greasy work clothes, on a greasy stain in your garage or even a nasty spill in the kitchen. It will break up the grease so it is easy to clean away.

3. Sluggish drain? Pour some cola down there. It will bubble and fizz away greasy build-up keeping your drains flowing smoothly.

4. If you need to remove a rusty bolt, cola to the rescue, it will loosen the corrosion in no time! It will also clean rust off of all sorts of other metal surfaces. Pour a little on a scrubbing pad and go to work, the rust will disappear.

5. Pour a can of cola down your toilet. Wait an hour and scrub away those stubborn stains.

Creepy Crawlers

Creepy crawlers can slip into any house undetected until it's too late, but don't worry, you can do what I did and head the pest off before they get into the house.

1. A common place for pests to come in is through drainage pipes, like this one. To discourage the visitors, remove the grate on the drain and drop a new tennis ball into the hole. The ball will block the way for any pests to get inside, but will float in water when the pipe is needed for drainage.

2. For those pests that sneak in through the windows, just sprinkle baking soda on the window sashes, the bugs will eat it when they're coming in and it will dehydrate them and kill them off.

3. Bugs are also attracted by moisture, fill old coffee cans with salt and put them around the basement, this will soak up excess moisture and help keep the bugs from breeding. When the salt is completely damp, just put the can in the sun and let the moisture evaporate.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Car Cleaning Tips

Everybody wants their car to look great, here are some easy things that you can do to help.

1. To get tar and tree sap off of your car spread some boiled linseed oil on the tar and let it sit for a few minutes. Once the tar is softened you should be able to remove it with a paper towel. (You can also rub either tar or sap with mayonnaise to get rid of it.)

2. For bugs on your windshield and headlights, take an old nylon scrubber that you use in the shower and scrub with soap and water. If you don't have a shower puff you can use a bunch of old onion bags. The bugs will come right off.

3. Bumper stickers can be removed with nail polish remover on a soft cloth. Peel down a corner and run the cloth up and down the underside of the sticker while the goo loosens.

Lawn Seeding

Whether your lawn has weeds, bare spots, or it's just plain thin, I have some steps to make that lawn lush and healthy.

1. If you have bare patches, use a sturdy garden rake to break up the top of the soil and allow the seed to take hold. Spread the grass seed in an even layer over the area; gently press it into the soil. And then, Water the area well.

2. Another important step to keeping a lovely lawn is overseeding, or seeding over the current lawn. This makes your lawn denser which keeps weeds from growing and protects your current lawn from disease. Overseed at the end of the summer. Mow the lawn so it's really short. Then rake the lawn to remove any clippings and to open the soil a little. Once the area is prepped spread seed over the entire lawn. The short grass will help hold the seed in place and protect it from blowing away. Once the seed is in place, water the lawn well, then continue watering each day for a couple of weeks until you see the seed germinate and the lawn start to thicken. Don't mow the new lawn until it's at least three inches in height. You should overseed every few years to keep your lawn looking its best.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Problem Solved

I have some solutions to some annoying household problems, coming up next.

1. Everyone runs into some little problems here and there. Well, I have some solutions that'll help.

2. If you need some targeted light while working in a dark area, attach a little clip on reading light to the visor of a baseball cap. The light will move with you and direct that beam just where you need it.

3. Cleaning the glass of a light fixture that can't be removed can be tricky. Well, once it's cool spritz some rubbing alcohol on a sponge tipped paintbrush. The brush will give you a longer reach and will easily clear the glass inside the fixture. These brushes also work great for reaching tight corners on windows and glass doors.

4. Vacuming and can't find the crevice tool. Well in a pinch, attach one end of a paper towel tube to your vacuum nozzle and flatten the other end. This will allow you to easily reach under your stone or refrigerator or cabinet.

5. Looking for a longer reach? Try a wrapping paper tube.

Toilets 101

Toilets 101, this is your quick course in how a toilet works so you'll be ready if a problem arises.

1. The parts of the toilet: the handle, the chain, the flapper, the float cup and the fill valve.

2. Here's how it works, when you push the handle it pulls on the chain, which raises the flapper and empties the water into the bowl. That water forces the contents of the bowl down into the drainpipe. When the water empties from the tank it drops the float cup to the bottom and triggers the water supply. As the water fills the tank the float cup rises and When it reaches the top it turns the water off.

3. That's all there is to it, now if the toilet is running you know that you need to check the float cup for leaks. And if it won't flush you should check the chain or the flapper.

Kitchen Gardening

Look around the kitchen, you may find the perfect fertilizer for your garden or houseplants.

1. If your azaleas need some help, mix two tablespoons of white vinegar into a quart of water and use it to feed your flowers. They love the acidic soil! Because it also has a ton of minerals, you can use white vinegar on your houseplants. Dilute a tablespoon of vinegar in a gallon of water and you're all set. Use this solution only once every couple weeks!

2. Another great plant fertilizer.coffee. You can work used coffee grounds into the soil or you can dilute a cup of coffee in four cups of water and use it to water your plants. No coffee? You can use tea or teabags as well!

3. Save your eggshells too, crush them up and sprinkle them around your plants. The soft shells will decompose slowly and add nutrients to the soil, plus they repel slugs and snails.

4. Sprinkle some cinnamon around the base of your peony plants, to help prevent fungus growth!

5. After working in the garden, wet your hands and sprinkle with sugar and wash with soap and water. The sugar acts as a gentle abrasive to scrub your hands clean!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of those things that we just take for granted but you can put it to work all over you house.

1. Remove rust and mineral deposits from your teapot. Fill it with water, add two tablespoons each of baking soda and lemon juice. Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for fifteen minutes. Rinse clean and the deposits are history!

2. If the ice cubes from your automatic ice maker are tasting a little bit funny, remove the unit from the freezer and wash it with warm water and baking soda, the bad taste will disappear in the very next batch!

3. Sprinkle some baking soda on a damp cloth and use it to clean your fresh fruits and vegetables, it will get rid of those waxes and residues that make the produce so pretty!

4. Coffee stains can be removed from china with a paste of baking soda and water. Spread it over the stain, let it sit ten minutes and then wash in soapy water, stains will be gone!

5. In the laundry room you can add a half a cup of baking soda to each bleach load to get your whites brilliant!

6. You can remove crayon marks from kids clothing with a damp white cloth dipped in baking soda. Just rub it into the marks and watch them disappear!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recycle for Cleaning

There are so many household items that can be recylced for cleaning when they are past their prime. These are just a few.

1. When the bath towels are wearing thin, cut them into equal sized squares. You'll go from one bath towel to maybe twleve cleaning rags. You can also use mismatched socks as cleaning rags, slip them over your hands and go to work!

2. You've enjoyed your cup of tea, don't throw away that tea bag, allow it to dry and store it with your cleaning supplies. A batch of room temperature tea is great for cleaning all sorts of woodwork and cabinetry.

3. When you're done making lemonade don't throw away the lemon rinds, toss them in the garbage disposal with a couple of ice cubes. It will keep those blades clean and smelling sweet.

4. Keep a coffee can on top of your dryer to store used dryer sheets in. Then recycle those sheets to clean electronic equipment and mini-blinds.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Electricity Simplicity

15 Minute Makeovers: Get a whole makeover in one, easy changeover. And get benefits that are hard to live without - energy efficiency, added safety, and a bright new look for years to come! You'll never get so much back for 15 minutes of your time. Installation is so easy, all you do is take out your old switch or outlet and replace it with a sleek, new Legrand/Pass & Seymour product in the same opening. You can do it - and you'll love it when you do!


When life hands you lemons... you don't have to make lemonade. Use them all over the house, for help with all sorts of jobs!

1. Rubbing cut lemons on your hands or your cutting board will get rid of garlic, onion and fish odors. It will also clean away stains left from slicing berries!

2. Lemon juice will brighten whites that can't be bleached! Just pour a quarter of a cup of lemon juice into the washer. If you have light stains that won't come out of those whites, pour lemon juice on them and spread the clothes in the sun to dry. The lemon juice will react with the sunlight and the stains will disappear!

3. To freshen the air in your home, put a few drops of lemon juice in your vacuum bag when you change it. The fresh smell will spread throughout the house when you vacuum.

4. If someone ends up with a small cut or scrape, dab it with some lemon juice to disinfect the wound. It will also take the itch out of poison ivy.

5. If you do want to make lemonade, microwave your lemons for 30 seconds before you squeeze them. You'll get a lot more juice!

Preventing Kitchen Messes

You won't have to worry about tackling kitchen messes if you can prevent them in the first place! I have some tips.

1. Before you do any cooking on your stove turn on the exhaust fan. The fan is designed to pull and filter cooking grease, odors and smoke up and out of the house

2. If you're cooking something that you know will splatter use the lids for your pans, or a splatter guard that will catch those spats before they end up on your stove and walls.

3. Along those same lines, keep a plate on the stovetop to set spoons and spatulas on. You can easily pop the plate in the dishwasher and don't have to worry about cooked on messes that dripped from those utensils onto the stovetop!

4. To keep greasy build-up from staining fabrics in the kitchen spray window treatments, chair pads and throw rugs with a fabric protector. These sprays act as a barrier between stains and fabrics without altering the look or feel of the fabric.

Container Gardening

If you're trying to find a way to have a garden but you don't have a yard, or you're just trying to add interest to an outdoor space, consider container gardening.

1. The key to a container garden, the potting soil. There are so many brands on the market, but you can also mix your own by combining two parts of peat moss with one part of builder's sand.

2. Think outside the box or pot when you're choosing your container, as long as you provide good drainage there are so many things that can become plant containers. From baskets to old shoes or even pottery can find new life in your garden.

3. Choose your plants carefully. Plants with like temperaments in the same pot, so group sun and water lovers together in one spot and shade lovers in another.

4. Don't forget to put some drainage material in the bottom of your container, broken pots, packing peanuts or pebbles are all good choices.

5. Add some potting soil, arrange your plants and then fill with additional soil around the perimeter.

6. Once your container is finished, water it well. I like to dissolve an envelope of unflavored gelatin in a quart of water. It makes a nitrogen rich plant food that helps the plant retain water!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bar Soap

Who would think that a plain old bar of soap could be used everywhere from the laundry room to the workshop? Well it can, I'll show you!

1. Keep a bar of white soap by your washing machine. It is a great pre-treater for stains, especially make-up. Dampen the bar; rub it into the stain and then wash according to the garments directions.

2. It will also remove fabric softener stains; those greasy stains on your clean laundry, just rub some soap into them and launder again!

3. If you're potting houseplants or working in the garden, scrape your fingers over a bar of soap; the slivers will collect under your nails and wash away easily when you're done with your planting.

4. Sticky drawers or windows? Rub a bar of soap along the sliding parts, to get them moving smoothly again.

5. Soap can be both an insect repellant and air freshener so store bars of opened soap in drawers, closets and suitcases.

6. Soap is also indispensable in the summer when you get those nasty insect bites. Dampen the soap, and rub it over your bites for an instant anesthetic effect.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Sure mirrors can help you with your hair and make-up; but did you know they can help brighten and decorate your home too?

1. If you're having a dinner party, use a long mirror as a runner on a table top, add candles, flowers, and what ever you'd like and then turn on the lights. The mirror will reflect the overhead lights and the candle light adding sparkle to the whole room.

2. Mirrors are an inexpensive substitute for art. A large mirror costs a fraction of what you'd pay for a large painting or picture and it fills the space and adds depth to a room. Along those same lines you can group several smaller mirrors together to create a really interesting display.

3. Use mirrors to help make home repairs, a hand mirror and a flashlight will let you see problems in hard to see spaces so you know what you need to fix and how you're going to get there. Don't have a hand mirror? Try a make-up compact. Its "compact" size will reach right where you need it!

Annoyance Busters

I don't know about your house, but mornings around my house are so hectic. But if you take a little time to "prep" it can be a lot less stressful.

1. Take an hour on Sunday and pull together the kids school clothes for the week. From shirts to socks- find, iron and lay them out. This way you'll know if there's anything that needs to be washed and there's no yelling - mom, dad I can't find any socks!

2. Have a place near the door to keep backpacks, shoes, boots, coats, and hats, whatever everyone needs. This way when you're trying to get out the door in the morning and everyone's rushing around you don't have people looking for their stuff! You should also keep your keys and bag or briefcase in the same space. Remember kids learn what they see!

3. Every night, while you're making dinner, pack the kid's lunches or put lunch money in their backpack another way to cut out of the morning chaos.

4. You can also take the downtime in cooking to sort papers from school, fill out permission slips or check homework.

5. After the kids are in bed, take ten to twenty minutes or so and walk around picking up clutter, this way when you get up in the morning you won't be starting your day by walking into a big mess and it will make your day alot calmer!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Upholstered Furniture Care

Do you clean your upholstered furniture regularly? Don't wait until you can see the dust and dirt, add it to your weekly cleaning routine.

1. Look over the pieces carefully, if you see any spots or stains treat them immediately. Test any cleaning solution on a hidden part of the upholstery for colorfastness before trying any spot treatments.

2. For a generic spot treater, whip together two teaspoons of clear dish soap and a half a cup of water until it's nice and foamy. Use a damp white cloth to dab the mixture onto the stain. When you can see that the stain has lifted, dab the soap out with a second cloth and clean water.

3. Club Soda is a quick spot treater when you're entertaining and don't have time for a full treatment. Just dab some on and treat the spot later.

4. White shaving cream is a great spot treater. Use very little on a damp white cloth to treat all kinds of mystery stains. When the stain is gone, dab with a second cloth and clean water.

5. If you have a stain on a cushion, don't pull the cover off and throw it in the wash. This could cause damage and shrinkage. Unzip the back and put a towel in between the cushion and the fabric cover, then treat the stain.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Selling Your Home

Considering selling your home? Well, I have some tips to help maximize profit and minimize the time your home is on the market.

1. Clean. Give your house a "spring cleaning" do curtains, windows, rugs and furniture. You want the house to look it's best for potential homebuyers.

2. Pare down the knick-knacks and furniture. You want buyers to see your home, not your stuff. Plus, an emptier room looks bigger.

3. Use rooms for their intended purpose. If you turned a dining room into a playroom, turn it back to a dining room while your house is for sale.

4. If something is worn and outdated like carpeting or wall color change it. Tips, when you're deciding on colors choose neutral creams and beiges they make everything look clean and simple! These small improvements can pay off big in the end.

5. Just before a showing fill your house with homey scents. Make some cookies, popcorn or simmer potpourri.

6. Finally, staging. Turn on the lights, open curtains and have some fresh flowers around to make your home look its best and brightest.

Rewire a Lamp

Re-wiring a lamp is an easy project. Don't be intimidated, I will show you how it's done.

1. Be sure that your lamp is unplugged!

2. Remove the socket shell and loosen the terminal screws that hold the old lamp wires in place, this will allow you to remove the socket. Untie the knot in the wires and gently pull the old cord out from the base.

3. Start re-wiring, you can pick up a lamp replacement lamp wiring kit at any home improvement center. Thread the new wire through the base and up through the lamp. Pull about two inches through the top to work with.

4. Split the cord wires in two. The insulated wire should separate easily. If the wires on your cord aren't stripped, remove about a half an inch of insulation on of each of the wires.

5. Anchor the wires with an underwriters knot. To do this turn each wire downward to form two loops, then insert the ends of each of those wires through the opposite loop.

6. Connect the wires to the terminal screws on the socket. The wire with smooth insulation goes clockwise around the brass screw, and the wire with the ribbed insulation clockwise around the silver screw, then tighten both screws.

7. Put the cardboard insulation and socket shell over the wiring until you hear a faint click so you know it's secure.

Monday, May 2, 2011