If you have original artwork or delicate antiques, you need this petite duster brush from Caldrea.
Caldrea Petite Duster
It’s so soft, you’ll be tempted to use it on your face. But, it’s designed to remove dirt from the most delicate objects. Beautifully.
Caldrea’s French Door Brush removes dust from nooks and crannies on shutters, wood work, louvered doors, blinds, cabinetry, and any furniture with details.
Caldrea French Door Brush
If you’re looking to save money, a soft bristled paint brush will do the job here, but it will be more difficult to get into corners.
For more of our recommendations, visit our website here.
With Oklahoma’s record setting heat this summer, many of us are still waiting on our first tomatoes and peppers from the garden. It’s simply too hot for plants to set fruit. Professionals aren’t doing much better. Farmers’ Markets have very limited availability right now, too. Don’t give up, if plants live through it they should start producing when nighttime temps are consistently down in the 70′s.
Meanwhile, we’re living on mint and basil for that fresh-from-the-garden flavor.
Basil Pesto courtesy Food Network Kitchens
What to do with basil pesto? Toss with pasta, spread on French Bread, use as a marinade for lamb, freeze in ice cube trays and add to sauces.
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
Did your mint survive the drought? If so, if you have the chocolate variety try Moroccan Chocolate Mint Tea or Fresh Mint Ice Cream. For a calorie free dessert tea you can even just pour hot water over bruised chocolate mint leaves. Refreshing!
Orange mint, lemon mint, and “regular” mint are nice for putting into iced teas. Just stick a whole stem in the glass or a couple in the pitcher. It’s even quite refreshing in plain old water.
Of course, mojitos are the best reason to grow mint in the first place. Simple syrup, mint, lime and rum over ice. Ahhhhhhh!
I have a friend, we’ll call her Katie, who is very neat and tidy by nature. She does not use our maid service regularly because housework is something she enjoys, and her teacher’s salary only permits so many luxuries. However, she is known to call and schedule single cleanings weeks in advance. Why? Because she is going out of town to visit family, and she doesn’t want housework, or her husband’s lack thereof, to be the first thing she thinks about when she gets home.
She does not give herself the chance to be angry or disappointed with her husband, because she realizes that her housekeeping priorities are not the same as her husband’s. This is not a sexist statement. It is often the husband, not the wife, who is the “neat freak” of the pair. That just doesn’t happen to be so in this case.
I commented to Katie that I usually get frantic calls from spouses after they have arrived home. In despair, they beg us to come as soon as possible because the house hasn’t been tended to in three weeks and they have to go back to work tomorrow and are near a complete breakdown. If only they thought like Katie, ahead. She doesn’t have to hope her DH won’t disappoint her, or be resentful because he did it wrong. It was important to her, so she took care of it ahead of time. She always schedules maid service to come the day before she arrives home. When she walks in the door, her focus is on how much she missed her husband, not a messy house.
The secret to happiness is not counting on others to keep you happy. Do not let your happiness depend on someone else not letting you down. If it is important to you, take care of it yourself. When someone follows through or does a great job, be pleasantly surprised.
Hire a maid service.
Now, for chocolate.
This recipe was given to me by a friend. She didn’t have a name for it, and after tasting it, I decided to call it “The Secret To Happiness.” I get requests for it all the time.
It takes less than 5 minutes, plus chill time.
The Secret To Happiness
In a blender combine:
-One 12 oz. package chocolate chips. (I like semi-sweet Ghiardelhi, but use what you have.)
-One cup strong, very hot coffee. (I reheat the leftovers from my press, but you could just make a pot.)
-Four eggs. (Note- consuming raw eggs can be a health hazard.. blah, blah, blah. Use fresh and local if possible.
Blend until smooth. You can drizzle in some cream or soymilk after a minute if you’d like, but it’s completely optional. Divide into 4 dishes. Chill for as long as you can stand it. Top with whipped cream, cocoa, sliced bananas, strawberries, or nothing at all. Or, you can simply pour it into a pie crust, smooth, top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, and let set in the refrigerator.
Let me know if you’ve discovered more secrets to happiness. Leave a comment.
Posting your unwanted junk on Craigslist couldn’t be easier. Go to craigslist.com and click Post. Choose an appropriate category. Upload pictures. Say something. It’s free.
Ok, the saying something seems to be the hard part. Allow me to make some suggestions:
1. If the item is large and worthless, like your couch you picked up by a dumpster for your first apartment, post it in the “free” category. You’d be surprised what people will take, and large items are a pain to dispose of. If it is something small and trivial, you are better off bagging it and taking it to the Salvation Army. Who wants to deal with phone calls/emails/appointments/questions for every little free thing? Plus, donations to the Salvation Army are tax deductible.
2. Give your post a specific title. ”3 Pairs women’s size 4 Gap Jeans” instead of “Cleaning the Closet!” No one searches for “cleaning the closet”, but they do search for size 4 gap jeans. Even though Craigslist will search the entire post, you have to make people want to click your ad. ”Help! I Need Money!” does not inspire me to click. Do you have something I want? Let me know. ”Must go tonight!” is an awful title. Are you trying to bully people into taking something they don’t want? Sell them on what you have instead.
3. Don’t try to list too many things in one ad. Kittens, antique jewelry, and several appliances don’t belong together. Make separate posts.
4. People expect garage sale prices on most items. Don’t charge too much. You do want to get rid of it, don’t you? Even if the item is new, people do not want to drive across town, purchase something from a stranger with no receipt or warranty just to save 5 bucks. Also, they wonder why you didn’t just return it. It just sounds scammy.
5. A brief description of why you are getting rid of it is appropriate. A long or overly dramatic description is NOT appropriate and is quite the turn off for buyers.
“Works, but we upgraded to stainless after the remodel,” conveys the right message. ”Works, but my trampy ex-wife got everything in the divorce and I’ll be damned if she gets this, too!” is not really appropriate and will yield a poorer response.
6. ”Look at this!” is not an appropriate title. See #2.
7. If you are posting something valuable (over $100) you may want to meet in a public place. Can’t be too careful.
8. Phone numbers get better responses than the anonymous email Craigslist provides you with. Let people know if they should call or text. I don’t see any advantage to providing your real email address in the ad.
Do you have Craigslist questions? Let me know! Just leave a comment.
Do you pore over Pottery Barn catalogs and Natural Home magazine, wishing your house looked like that? Do you wish you had a few extra thousand dollars to make your home “magazine” perfect?
Here’s a secret furniture catalogs won’t tell you: Their rooms look great because they are clean and uncluttered. The lighting is fantastic, too, but that’s another post.
Aside from a weekly cleaning, the best thing you can do for your space is to keep it uncluttered. Here’s how:
1. A place for everything and everything in its place. It’s a cliche for a reason. You may need to get creative. Should you buy shelving, cabinets, or other storage furniture? Do you have a unused corner space to install storage? Keep things out of sight.
2. Get rid of stuff, and don’t buy so much stuff. I need to find a way to make that a cliche. If it isn’t beautiful, useful, or sentimental, GET RID OF IT!
Trash is trash. Recycle what you can and toss the rest. If an item is even remotely still useful or has parts that may be useful, donate it to the Salvation Army.
Even clothing with holes or stains that can’t be sold will be bailed and sold by the pound. The person I spoke with wasn’t sure if the clothing was then recycled or sent to third world countries, but either way, it’s not going in the landfill. The same goes for electronics. If they can’t be sold, they are bundled and sold in bulk to companies (who surely aren’t paying for them to toss them. )
Freecycle and Craigslist. Do you have a hideous couch? A swingset the kids have outgrown? List it free on Craigslist. You’d be surprised at what some people will take. Later this week we’ll talk about listing on Craigslist in more detail, and how to actually make money doing it.
Clutter questions? Leave a comment and I will answer it personally.
Hiring anyone to work in your home is a very personal matter. Here are some thoughts to consider when deciding whether to hire a cleaning service or an individual to perform the work.
- Often costs less than a service.
- Only one person entering your house (hopefully.)
- You can provide the products he/she uses so they are customized to your preferences.
- You can customize the service to include laundry, dishes, and possibly even errands. (Discuss this in advance!)
- A trustworthy individual may be difficult to find. If you don’t have someone who was referred by a close friend, you’re left interviewing strangers from the internet.
- If the individual gets sick/has an appt./goes on vacation, there is no replacement. You will simply be without. Likewise, if this person quits, you are stuck interviewing housekeepers again.
- You may have to train an individual. They are often used to being told exactly what to do in each home. If they aren’t doing a good job, you must address it directly and explain how to improve.
- You will probably have to purchase supplies and products and maintain equipment like a vacuum cleaner.
- An individual will take a much longer time to clean your house than a team of 3 or 4. This isn’t a big deal if you’re routinely gone from 9 to 5, but if you work from home it can be annoying.
- Individual housekeepers may be inconsistent with scheduling. Certainly, this varies from person to person, but one of the biggest complaints we get from people switching to our service is that their individual would often cancel or just not show up. If they’re doing it for “extra” money, they may just not need the money that badly that week. That’s a nightmare if you’re planning a birthday party at home or expecting guests.
- Individual Cleaning People are not usually bonded or insured.
- It is your responsibility to report payments to household employees to the IRS.
- A cleaning service has a name and reputation to protect. They are therefore more likely to be consistent and reliable.
- Services are usually bonded and insured. They pay all employment taxes.
- A cleaning service has trained employees and systems in place. You will not need to show them what to do, they know.
- If an employee calls in sick or quits, a service can still perform its duties.
- A cleaning service generally works in teams or crews. They can get in and out FAST.
- A cleaning service usually provides its own equipment and supplies. No hassles with restocking and maintenance.
- Complaints can be directed toward the office or customer service so that you don’t have to address it directly with the person responsible.
- A service is generally more thorough. This is also highly variable.
- Anyone can start a “service” with a broom and a friend. Check to make sure this company has some favorable reviews on angies’s list, yelp, google, etc…
- Will probably be more expensive than a “cleaning lady”. Services have employment taxes, insurance, bonding, training expenses, advertising, web site fees, equipment and products, etc…
- Because they are in and out so quickly, can not usually perform additional services such as laundry, especially at the last minute.
Do you have experience with either a service or individual cleaning lady? Can you think of anything to add? Post a comment!
I remember eating at a restaurant with my then preschooler and watching in horror as he began tracing the walls and windowsills with his finger. Doesn’t he know that walls are touched by other kids and never washed? That fly feces is in the windowsill and he’s about to eat with those hands? Perhaps even more terrifying was the realization that when he holds his sandwich, due to the tables being built for adults, the top of his sandwich brushed the bottom of the table. Repeatedly. But, ignorance is truly bliss.
My son, Jack. One of the worst offenders.
Fast forward to today when I read this article from Parents’ Magazine entitled The Germiest Things Your Kids Touch. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. ”Kids always have the most fecal bacteria on their hands when they return from the playground,” it says. It reminds me of one my friend’s favorite quotes, which she actually credits me for: “Kids are gross.”
It also reminds me of one of my mother’s favorite commands, ”Go swim!” Not only did that get us kids out of her hair, of course, she believed the chlorine was antiseptic and good for us. But, guess what? Not only does chlorine NOT kill all germs, it kills some of the most pesky painfully slowly. So, yes, the kid still needs a bath when he gets out of the pool. But, it’s mostly to wash the chlorine itself off. Chlorine is not only toxic but absorbed through the skin (and, if you’re my son, consumed in gulps. Not really much I can do about that…) In fact, a bath before a swim is really a good idea, too. I hate to say it, but your swim teacher was right about that. The oils, lotions, germs, and products in our hair and on our skin cause the pool to need more chlorine. The “greenest” option is a shower before you get in to reduce the need for chemicals.
Are you bathing your kid in Purell yet? Well, stop. The main ingredient in the stuff is, of course, alcohol. But, it’s full of artificial fragrances and other questionable ingredients I would steer clear of. CleanWell makes a natural, thyme based sanitizer that works without all the gross stuff. (You can, of course, find it at Amazon.) The downside is that it is quite expensive compared to traditional hand sanitizers, and it’s still not as green as it could be. That’s because it comes in a little plastic container.
Your greenest option is to buy little squirt or spray bottles (try the travel supplies section at Target) that you will refill with your own sanitizer. This recipe uses “thieves oil” and its physician creator believes it may be superior to alcohol based sanitizers because some germs are actually developing a resistance to them.
If you’re reading this, you survived childhood even though you were thoroughly disgusting. Your kids will, too. Now, go throw them in the tub.
Happy Fourth of July!
If your dog isn’t usually a digger but ruins the yard in the summer, the problem is most likely the heat. Dogs dig into the soft, moist earth as a way to stay cool. These hot, hot days are just as brutal for dogs as they are for us. On the other hand, if you have a dachshund, terrier, or similar breed that was bred to hunt vermin underground, they’re just exercising their natural instincts.
Make sure your pet has shelter and plenty of water. If you have a long-haired breed, a black dog, a brachycephalic (squished face) breed, or one that was bred for much cooler climates such as the Husky, indoors is the best place for them.
Brachycephalic (squished face) breeds such as pugs and English bulldogs cannot cool themselves effectively due to the shortness of the muzzle. Remember, dogs don’t sweat. (They do have some sweat glands on the bottom of their feet, but not enough for sweat to constitute much of their cooling system.) Heat strokes are common in these dogs. Be sure to keep them inside or only let them out for very short periods when the temperature rises.
Thinking he needs a shave? While it’s tempting to shave down a hairy pooch in the summer, it’s not always a good idea. Hair and fur coats actually help insulate from the heat as well as hold heat in. They also protect vulnerable skin from the sun and help keep it from drying out. Unfortunately, lots of fur also makes parasites like ticks harder to find. Some breeds “blow coat”, or shed badly during the spring and summer to release the undercoat they put on for insulation in the winter. If frequent grooming isn’t possible for you and you must shave Fido down, remember, a shaved dog is an indoor dog.
Nothing holds pet dander and dust mites like upholstery. If your pooch has a favorite chair or couch, try throwing a sheet or specially made pet blanket over it so that you can launder it regularly.
Sweeping borax into cracks and crevices on the floor or letting it sit on your carpet and dog bedding before vacuuming will keep flea eggs at bay. Check your entire dog daily (or more, in some areas) for ticks, especially under droopy ears and around the collar. Natural repellents containing essential oils like clove and citronella (not Deet!) are helpful preventatives. In some areas, or when infestations are already present, these steps may not be enough. Talk to your vet about stronger forms of pest control. Don’t forget to mention that you are concerned about pesticides in the environment and ask for the most effective, but least toxic product. Please don’t spray pesticides on your yard. Not only are yard sprays ineffective at keeping pests off your dog, but they also kill beneficial insects and ultimately end up in our water supply.
Finally, the Fourth of July is great fun for you, but rarely for your dog. More dogs go missing on this night than any other night of the year. The repeated thunder from fireworks can be terrifying, and a panicked dog can and will do things you wouldn’t expect. Keep your dogs indoors to keep them safe. Even outdoor dogs can be brought into the garage. A kennel is not only more comforting for your dog, but it can give you peace of mind that your house and your dog are safe. Lastly, be sure all of your pets are wearing current ID’s, just in case.
Ten years ago we had a pug dog named Bosco. He was a great family pet, save the shedding and his affinity for “kitty crunchies.” Not the kind in the bowl, the OTHER kind of kitty crunchies. As if the cats tracking kitty litter out of their box wasn’t enough, Bosco would sort of explode out of the kitty litter box making an even bigger mess. Also, I no longer wanted to kiss him, and the bits of kitty litter in his face wrinkles were sort of repulsive. My solution? I bought a big rubbermaid tub, about 18 gallons and 24″ tall x 18″ wide. I put about 5
Actual box, we just cut a hole in the lid.
inches of kitty litter in the bottom then put the lid on. From the lid, I cut a hole about the size of a plastic flap kitty door (i.e., a little bigger than a cat’s head and shoulders.) Voila! A pug-proof cat box! Not only could he not get in, but the cats didn’t kick as much out. I patted myself on the back and went on.
Fast forward ten years: I’m looking at kitty perching shelves on moderncat.net, and I come across their April giveaway, a ModKat. Yes, it’s much sexier than my rubbermaid tub. It’s cube-ier, shinier, and the hole isn’t all jagged, but the design’s the same. They did make one improvement, the lid has ventilation holes, presumably so that litter will fall off the cats’ feet and back into the box when they exit. If a pretty kitty litter box is worth a hundred bucks to you, then just buy this one. If you’re more thrifty, the Rubbermaid tub works just fine. We’re actually still using ours, but it’s in the garage now. The cats can access it through a kitty door.
ModKat comes in many colors.
The ModKat still isn’t your style? Check out these retro kitty litter box hiders from Paul McCobb.
Paul Mccobb's Retro Kitty Litter Hider
This one will set you back almost $500, but that’s still a lot cheaper than remodeling your own bathroom! (Still, much more expensive than rubbermaid tubs.) It has simple clean lines with a grasscloth front and hinged side door for easy access. It can be custmized with a variety of colors and finishes. Get your own or explore more mid-century modern kitty box hiders at modernistcat.com.
Apparantly, moderncat readers are quite creative. Check out the DIY plans for this kitty litter hider.
Also Pug Proof
The entrance hole is unseen on the left side of the cabinet, and kitties must walk across a carpeted shelf to get to the litter on the right side of the cabinet. That means that the litter clinging to kitty feet will be trapped in the shelf carpet before exiting. Love it!
The Refined Feline also carries litter box hiders as well as beautiful kitty towers and perches. This one is only $199, but it may not be pug-proof.
Did I mention the Rubbermaid tub was in my utility room? If it had been more exposed, it might have needed to look nicer. Then again, if I had had a Modkat I probably wouldn’t have wanted to hide it in the utility room!
You don't need this!
Are you mindlessly buying junk you don’t need because of clever marketing? A cheat sheet of some of the worst offenders:
1. Swiffer products- Dusting hasn’t improved at all, but the marketing geniuses behind Swiffer are able to sell an expensive, disposable, unneeded product over and over and over and over again. You can dust with almost anything that’s soft.
2. Artifical Fragrances like Glade- They’re toxic and they give a lot of people headaches. If your house smells bad, it’s probably just dirty. Try getting the carpets cleaned, cooking with less grease, and smoking outside. Put a box of baking soda near problem spots like the litter box. And keep a natural essential oil spray or a box of matches in the bathroom. Those waxy cone things and plug-ins that you think make the bathroom smell nice actually make it smell like a public toilet.
3. Pull-ups- See Stop the Pull-ups Madness!
4. Clorox Green Works- This bleach company just wants your money and they don’t give a flip about the environment. If you want to go green, use a product line that started that way like Seventh Generation. They actually care about your health and the health of the planet. If you just want cheap, try baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice. These three will clean almost anything for pennies.
5. Veggie washes- They’re about as effective as water. Pesticides soak into the fruit or vegetable and can’t be completely washed off, so buy organic when possible.
6. More cleaning products- Your house isn’t dusty because you haven’t purchased the right cleaner. Your house is dusty because you haven’t dusted it. The only thing you could purchase that would help with that is a maid service, and you can’t get that at the store.
7. A Juicer- You get the sugars without the fiber. Buy a blender instead.
8. Bottled water- Yes, it’s better for you than sodas, but nowhere near as good for the planet as a reusable water bottle. We like Kleen Kanteens for their big mouth and dishwasher-safeness.
9. Organic junk food- It’s okay once in a while, as long as you know it’s still junk food. Organic potato chips and poptarts may be better than conventional, but still far from healthy.
10. Single serving bananas- This banana wrapped in plastic is such an environmental atrocity we don’t expect it to be around long. But, avoid overly packaged products of any kind when you can.
Plus, a bonus!
11. Air purifiers- Buy a houseplant instead.