Tips & Tricks

Give Your Front Door a Refresh With These 7 Tips

Have you given your front door a good look recently? Are there cobwebs in the corners (and I don’t mean the fake ones left from Halloween)? Is the doormat looking sad and not quite as welcoming as you’d like? Is the porch light twitching? Your front door is the “face” of your home—it’s the first impression your visitors get as they approach. So if it’s needing some love right now, we’ve got some easy ways to give it a refresh.

1. Clean the door and everything around it.

Even if your front door is under an eave, it will still get dirty. An annual cleaning is a great idea. First, use a broom or your vacuum’s extension kit, and make sure to get all the corners. Then use a damp cloth to wipe the door down, top to bottom, making sure you do the top of the door frame, all the trim’s details, the doorknob, and the kick plate. If you’ve got windows on the door or to its sides, clean those as well, inside and out. Take the doormat and shake it out or use a shop vac to clean it. Give your front porch and door step area a thorough sweep, then hose it down; include the steps if you have any. If you want the full 411 on serious door-cleaning, this guide is for you.

Read More

Tweak Your Morning Routine and Get Out the Door Faster

Are you scrambling every morning as you head out the door? Are you often late to your destination? Do you sometimes forget things at home? Those three questions are so stressful, we know. Mornings are tough for some of us, and feeling like you are running around, frazzled, and forgetting something is not the way anyone wishes to begin their day. Imagine waking up on time, having a calm breakfast, getting dressed without multiple outfit changes, and heading out the door with minutes to spare, with everything you need to take with you. It really can happen! But it does take some work and planning, and even more importantly, commitment. One of the things that causes delays is making decisions—which is why our hacks cut down the number of choices you’ll have to make. Tweak your morning routine with these tips, and get out the door like a BOSS!

No more snoozing.

If the snooze button on your alarm clock or phone is the cause of frequent oversleeping, then it’s time to disable it. Getting out of a warm, cozy bed is one of everyone’s least favorite things (especially now that I have a weighted blanket!), but being up on time is the first thing that needs to happen. If you are a heavy sleeper and don’t realize you are hitting Snooze or sleeping through the alarm, move it farther than the nightstand so you have to actually get up to turn it off.

Read More

How to Pare Down Your Books

Books are seriously one of the hardest things to part with! Even if you’ve only ever read it once, having your books within reach keeps you tied to the thoughts and feelings they evoked, to the far-off, magical adventures they took you on, to the breathtaking or heart-wrenching stories they told. We hold onto books that were passed down from a loved one, or purchased at a tiny bookshop in Cairo, or read during a particularly good or bad time of our lives. We also hold onto books that were gifts, or from your college days, or have been on your “to read” list for a long time. The reality is that books also create clutter, take up a lot of space, are hard to move, and collect an amazing amount of dust. Paring down your books doesn’t mean getting rid of all of them—it just means you’ll keep some of them. Our guide will help you get going!

Where are all your books?
  • Are they all on a couple of bookshelves in the family room?
  • Or do you have books in many places—your nightstand, your home office, the guest room?
  • Do you have books in boxes that are stored in the garage, the basement, or a storage unit?
  • Write down all the places where your books are kept, so you can go down the list and check each area off as you declutter it.
Read More

Learn How to Minimize the Dust in Your Closet

from Closets.com
January 8, 2021

 

Ever notice how closets and bathrooms seem to be the dustiest rooms in the house? There’s a reason for this. They may not be used very often each day. But the type of use these areas receive creates dust. And the relatively small size of closets with limited air circulation exacerbates the problem.

Understand what is dust made of.

According to research from Chemical and Engineering News, 80% of the dust in a home is made up of dead skin cells that have sloughed off your body. The rest is a combination of dust mites and their excrement, clothing fibers, pollen, and bacteria. Yuck! Certainly not my home, right?

Think of Pig-Pen from the old Peanuts cartoons by Charles M. Schulz.

Unfortunately, even the cleanest among us create dust. We are all kind of like Pig-Pen. That’s because particles of our skin and hair continuously shed throughout the day. In fact, that is what bloodhounds or other search and rescue dogs are following when they pick up your “scent.” We create our own unique dust as part of a healthy rejuvenation process for our bodies. It can be completely avoided, but we can still reduce this dust from piling up in our homes.

And then there are the dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic spider-like creatures that live in our homes and on our clothing. They eat dead skin cells. Thus the attraction to us. After they eat, they poop, like any other animal, adding to our “dust.” To make things worse, many people are allergic to this dust mite doo-doo. In fact, this is one of the major allergens in dust that make us sneeze.

 

Read the rest on Closets.com.

Read More

Don’t Buy These 10 Things In Bulk

We all love a bargain, and shopping at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club definitely cuts costs on groceries and household items. Diapers, pet food, paper products, detergent, vitamins—items such as these are certainly a way better deal at the big stores! But is everything a better deal at the warehouse stores? Not necessarily. Here are ten things you (generally) shouldn’t buy in bulk.

1.  Produce

Fruits and vegetables don’t last too long, whether it’s the kind you store in the fridge or the kitchen counter. Even if buying a large amount of produce seems like a good deal, throwing out spoiled items at the end of the week is wasteful and not cost-effective. Buy fresh produce according to how much you use within a few days. Of course, if you are making French onion soup, do buy that big bag of onions at Costco! A friend of mine makes smoothies each morning for herself and her family, so fresh bananas and berries bought in bulk definitely saves them money.

2.  Meat and Fish

Meat and fish at warehouse stores are not wrapped for freezer storage, and if kept too long can get freezer burn and tough to eat. And though the FoodSafety.gov says frozen meat kept at a temperature of 0° Fahrenheit or lower is “safe to eat indefinitely,” remember the difference between “safe to eat” and “good to eat.” While keeping some meat and fish in your freezer is handy for a quick meal, fresher is usually best.

3.  Cooking Oils

Assess how long it takes you to finish a gallon of cooking oil—do you really finish it by the expiration date? Even if you do, NutritionFacts.org‘s study shows found that many cooking oils begin to go rancid and oxidize long before that date. Unless you do a lot of frying, get your oil at the grocery store instead. This way your cooking oils will always be fresh, and you can have regular-sized bottles of a wider variety, such as extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, and coconut oil.

Read More

Back-to-School Organization Ideas for an A+ School Year

You’ve downloaded the school supply lists and bought everything your kiddos will need (and likely more!). High-five, parents! To get this school year off to a sweet start, get their school items organized and systems set up ahead of time. The first week of school will be less chaotic and more streamlined when everyone knows where everything is located and where items are to be deposited, taken from, and found.

A Place for Backpacks

Use wall hooks in the entryway or mudroom to store these items—make sure they are secure enough to hold heavy backpacks. Best location is the kids’ first point of entry and last point of exit! Don’t let them get in the habit of just leaving their backpacks all over the house. One, it cuts down on floor clutter; two, it lessens the chances of school stuff getting lost or misplaced. Once they get home, encourage them to empty their backpacks of lunch and homework items. When leaving for school, it will be the reverse order.

Lunch Bags

These should also not be strewn all over the house. Nobody wants to find a half-filled silicone sandwich bag two weeks later in the back of the closet! Once they empty their backpacks, have a spot in the kitchen for them to deposit their lunch bags so everything can be emptied, washed, and readied for the next day.

Read More

Top Five Lists To Make Before A Big Trip

A weekend or a few days away is pretty easy to pack and prepare for, especially if you do it fairly often. If you are going to be away from home for a week or more (lucky you!) then you’ll want to make sure your situation at home is thoroughly set up and taken care of, especially if you are leaving kiddos or pets behind. Here are five major lists to make before you set off:

1. Packing

Write it on a notepad or use an app, but make a list of everything you (and your family) are bringing. Create categories such as clothing, toiletries, swimming stuff, devices, baby stuff, etc. It’s helpful before you go; then when you’re repacking to come home it’s a great way to make sure you don’t forget anything. It also keeps you from bringing multiples of the same thing.

2. Arrangements

From the dog-sitter to the yard company to the U.S. Mail to the Waste Management pick-up, list all the things you need to have done (or not done) while you are away, and confirm the arrangements you make.

Read More

10 Must-Haves for Your Carry-On Bag

There was a time when all one needed for their carry-on bag was an airline ticket, a few toiletries, a good book, and maybe a snack and a drink. How things have changed! With extensive security measures in place, digitized ticketing and check-ins, and a need for multiple devices, air travel has definitely become more complicated. Your carry-on bag basically holds your existence for the next 2 to 20 hours, depending on where you are traveling! Here’s our list of 10 must-haves to make your flight less stressful and more efficient:

1.  Trip Documents

For quick and easy access, items like your wallet, boarding pass, and passport should definitely be kept in the front or top pockets of your carry-on. Other documents to keep in a separate folder: physical tickets, invitations, itineraries, and any other documents with no digital version. Extra: When traveling abroad I always make double-sided photocopies of my family’s passports, TSA-Pre cards, IDs, and credit cards. I take one copy and store it deep inside my carry-on in a zippered pocket, and leave one with my parents.

2.  Technology

Definitely your smartphone and charger! But do think through your other tech—these items are heavy. Do you really need your laptop, iPad, and Kindle? If you plan to work during the flight, then bring your laptop. You can leave your Kindle or e-reader at home and use it’s app on your iPad instead. If you want to bring several devices but know you’ll really only use your smartphone and iPad on the flight, pack the rest safely in your checked luggage. Don’t forget the chargers—keep them tidy and organized.

Read More

Clever Tips for Finding More Space at Home

Whether you’ve got a large home or a small apartment, it may always seem like you’re searching for more storage space. Too bad you can’t just magically expand your home’s existing areas with a wiggle of your nose! Check out these clever tips for finding and creating storage spaces in your home.

 

Go behind closed doors.

Over-the-door hooks have 4 to 6 hooks for hanging lightweight, non-bulky items such as belts, scarves, and hats. In the bathroom they are super for hanging towels and bathrobes. Use that extra space behind your doors for storage space, and it may give some things a better “home” than the floor: in my kids’ rooms they’re for hanging PJs! Just don’t use them for hanging heavy items such as school backpacks, or items so bulky, like a puffy coat, that the door can’t stay open. For behind the laundry room, pantry, or bathroom door, this white mesh shelf rack is wonderful—helps clear off your counter space!

Check under the bed…

…and you may see more than just dust bunnies. It’s an excellent space for storing your seasonal clothing and accessories! There are so many styles and types of under-bed storage to choose from. We like the ones with wheels and handles to make pulling them out easier. Pop in a dryer sheet before you put the lid on and keep it fresh-smelling.

Not everything needs to be bought in bulk.

If you’re a big Costco shopper, you know you can really save by buying in bulk. But do you really need to get everything in large amounts? Take stock of the items you buy in bulk and decide if you’re better off buying regular sizes. For instance, if you use very little oil when cooking, does it really make sense to buy a gallon of cooking oil? Or will it go rancid before you get to the “Use by” date? If you have a couple of large dogs, though, buying their food in bulk will definitely save you money. Check your pantry and freezer, as well as the extra freezer and shelves in the garage. Check your other storage areas, too. List the items you buy in bulk—toilet paper, detergent, canned goods, butter, rice, etc.—and make those determinations based on your usage and this detailed food storage chart.

Read More

Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Photos

Remember when we used film in our cameras? (Kids now: “How retro!”) We had a finite number of photos to take: 24 or 36. There was work to be done before you could see those pictures. A trip to the Fotomat or Pay & Save, then later, Costco, to drop off the film. Days later, you’d go again to pick up the photos and the negatives. I recall being so excited to see the pictures from a family vacation, or birthday party, or holiday! Out of that 24- or 36-roll, you’d get a handful of really good ones (or at least, good enough for the photo album). The rest went back in the envelope and got put in the shoebox with the other photo envelopes.

With digital cameras and smartphones having bigger and bigger storage capacities, the infinite nature of photographing anything is now standard for most people. A child’s birthday party could have a few hundred photos; a long trip abroad could have over a thousand! The advantage is you can re-take photos several times to get it just right; the disadvantage is you end up with an enormous amount to cull through later. How to begin organizing your thousands of printed and digital photos? Use these five steps to help ease this task.

1. What Are Your Goals?

Before you begin, decide on what your photo goals are. A few examples:

  • Organize my old printed photos and create photo albums.
  • Combine all my digital photos into one storage drive.
  • Scan my printed photos and combine them with the digital ones.
  • Label my photo storage system so I can find what I need quickly.
  • Cull my digital photos and create a storage file system plus a backup.

When you have decided what it is you’re looking to achieve, it will be easier to work on your photos with these goals in mind. 

Read More