Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

Progress Report: Day Four in the Kitchen

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Well, I don’t know about you, but my fridge was in need some outer attention too. I took everything off of my fridge and gave it a good scrubbing. I got rid of the outer clutter on the fridge and condensed our magnets. All of the little appointment cards and school fliers with reminder dates got logged into the trusty calendar. Pictures got put in a photo box (except for a few) and now I have a clean white fridge.

The top of my fridge was cluttered and I condensed that too. I still have my bread machine, griddle, and some of the children’s art supplies on top. Emily likes to color while I make our dinner so I didn’t want to get rid of these completely. I had a junk container up on top of the fridge that got trashed and I did some decluttering around the outside of the fridge too.

I organized underneath the sink and got rid of a lot of stuff that I didn’t need. I am going to work my way through some of the cleaners that are under there. I organized my dish towels and rags and got everything back into its home.

I got a little carried away so I got a jump on tomorrow’s activities, which include weeding out the rest of the junk in your kitchen. I was in a cleaning frenzy and couldn’t stop!

I think part of it is that we are having a BEAUTIFUL day in Indiana and I am so THANKFUL! I am so sick of snow and yucky weather. To open my windows and let some fresh air into my kitchen is a dream come true. With the spring air blowing in, it was just the motivation I needed to get my kitchen in order.

Spring Cleaning: Week One, Day Four

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

We are closing in on the end of our time in the kitchen and will only have two more one hour tasks to go. Today we are going to tackle the exterior of our fridge and organizing underneath our sinks.

Just print out the directions for the day and tackle the task at your convenience. If you haven’t joined us yet, it is NEVER too late to start. All of the tasks can easily be completed in one hour and will leave you feeling like a superstar! Good luck, everyone!

Today’s Printable

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day Four

In Case You Missed It (Previous Printables):

Spring Cleaning Introductory Page

Spring Cleaning Recipes

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day One

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day Two

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day Three

Spring Cleaning: Week One, Day Three

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Day three!! We are halfway through our week of cleaning our first room. Only three more days to go and we can experience a neat-as-a-pin kitchen. I can’t wait to have my friends over in my newly organized space!

Today we are tackling the pantry and/or cupboards. Remember that the tasks are intended to be an hour so do what you have time for, but don’t be surprised if you get carried away and can’t stop. I think it is the getting going part that is so hard for me.

I am off to tackle my pantry right now!

Today’s Printable:


Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day Three

In Case You Missed It (Previous Printables):

Spring Cleaning Introductory Page

Spring Cleaning Recipes

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day One

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day Two

Sound Off: Do you have a system for organizing your pantry or a way that has made finding what you need a little easier?

Progress Report: Day Two in the Kitchen

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I will admit it, I am a love to clean my floors and see them all new and shiny. Cleaning the floors is not a problem… moving all of the stuff that is resting on the floors is something I don’t do.

Here are my rugs sitting on the nice cold front step. They got a good shimmy shake and laid out in the sunshine while I busted tail and cleaned my floors.

Once items were moved (surprise, surprise) lots of dust bunnies and yuck emerged. I pressed on, like the soldier I am, and showed them who was boss.

How nice to have gleaming floors to greet me in the morning! Each step brings me closer to the home I am dreaming of. I hope you are having the same experience!

PS- Did I mention how nice this is to do this with friends? I noticed even message board GROUPS were doing it together. That is so wonderful and it is motivating me to keep trudging on. A big hug and thanks to all my friends for linking in to my spring cleaning challenge.

Spring Cleaning: Week One, Day Two

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I was so thankful for your comments and encouragement on these printables. It had been pretty quiet yesterday and I started questioning if anyone really wanted to do this or would use these at all. Thanks for letting me know that they truly are helpful and that you do appreciate some of these tasks being presented in a smaller format.

I know that an entire day of cleaning just sounded daunting to me. In a way, I feel defeated before I begin. I am trying to chug along with you and my home needs just as much attention (sometimes a whole lot more) than everyone else!

I also recall that when I was a new homemaker, I had no idea how to do ANYTHING in my house. Even something that sounds simple to most (like cleaning out the fridge) was something I was researching how to do. My suggestions are only based on being a new mommy and a new homemaker and not having a clue what the heck I was doing with my very own house. I still sometimes feel like I am just “playing house.” I think that is why this was important for me to share- so someone else isn’t struggling with being a new homemaker!

Today is day two and we are going to work on deep cleaning the floors. I have put together a printable of some ideas for cleaning your floors, although this was tough since each person has a different type of flooring in their kitchen. You will also find a little bit of encouragement and a recipe for a meal- enjoy!!

Today’s Printable:

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day Two

In Case You Missed It (Previous Printables):

Spring Cleaning Introductory Page

Spring Cleaning Recipes

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day One

Sound Off: Do you have a method to your mopping? Any product/mopping solution you rave about? Tell us the type of your floors and how you get them clean!

Spring Cleaning: Week One, Day One

Monday, March 10th, 2008

As promised, I am putting together printables for tackling your spring cleaning this year. I just want to stress that we would like for you to share these with others, but ask that you direct them to our site to print them. They have been formatted into PDF files to try and retain as much ownership on them as I can.

I have been working my tail off on these all weekend and I am hoping that you will find them useful. Today we have an introductory letter explaining how the plan will work, what tools you will need to accomplish your tasks, and then your assignment for you to complete. For fun, I have included a recipe/meal idea that you can use. The point is to have a meal in mind so your cleaning doesn’t have you running out to McDonald’s every night, not necessarily that you have to make whatever is on my agenda.

I am working through these tasks with you and will do my best to post my pictures of my progress. I anticipate my blogging to be a little sluggish as I am trying to put these printables together, spring clean along with you, and keep up with all of the other stuff on my plate. I will do my best though!

Please send some feedback my way- I am anxious to hear it!

Today’s Printables:

Spring Cleaning Introductory Page

Spring Cleaning Recipes

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day One

PS- I am trying to upload my photos for today, but am getting errors and timeouts from Google. Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger?

Spring Cleaning Agenda

Friday, March 7th, 2008

It is that time of year again and I am so excited to share with you my spring cleaning goals and accomplishments for this year. To be honest, I really dread doing the spring cleaning routine, but I do love the sense of accomplishment I get and being able to restore my home to some semblance of order for the year.

I work hard as a mom and I work hard on our site so doing an entire marathon of cleaning won’t be on my agenda. I keep a fairly tidy home, but I do have problem spots that desire attention. Maybe you work? Maybe you homeschool? Maybe you have a new baby? Marathon cleaning might not be for you!

I am hoping my proposed agenda might be a little more appealing. Each week we will tackle one room in our home and our tasks will be divided into one hour tasks for each day of the week, concentrating on our focused room. I am hoping to put together some printable checklists for the rooms, to help accomplish our goals for the year and to act as motivation for our spring cleaning routine.

The first room that I will be addressing in my home is my kitchen. Tidy enough to eat in? Yes! Scared when company opens a drawer or cupboard? Absolutely!

My goals for the kitchen might be different from yours though so take this weekend to think of seven one hour tasks you could do to get your kitchen/dining room in order.

Goals for My Kitchen (7 Tasks)

1. Clean out the refrigerator (interior)
2. Deep clean the floors (I steam my floors bi-weekly) and washing/shaking out rugs
3. Organize Pantry
4. Clean the refrigerator (exterior) & organize the cupboards under the sink
5. Weeding Out Day (removing unnecessary or unused items in my kitchen)
6. Continue Organizing Pantry (can do inventory at this point for grocery shopping needs)
7. Clean out the freezer

** Monica at the Homespun Heart is offering a giveaway to help motivate you to do your cleaning! Be sure to visit her site for the scoop on the contest and how to participate!!**

Spring Cleaning Your PC

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

I am very excited to share that I have a guest author that will be sharing on our site monthly to help all of our working mommas and to also help those of us that are..um, challenged technically! Nicole, from the Geek Squad team, will be tackling all of our questions each month about our computers and she wants to know what you are interested in. Have a story idea for Nicole? You can send it her way to techmom@momadvice.com.

To coincide with our new relationship with the company, the Geek Squad has generously offered to participate in a giveaway with us. This giveaway has a retail value of $169 and has just been listed on our product review site, The Motherloot. Hurry over there and get your entries in!

Many thanks to Nicole and her team for making this opportunity possible!

Spring Cleaning Your Computer by Nicole Conway

So it’s that glorious time of year again! Time to clear the clutter and cobwebs from their hiding places and tidy the home for the coming Spring. But what about your computer? Often overlooked, your computer also needs Spring cleaning, and some basic maintenance measures to keep it humming along. So what are some basic things that you can do?

Well first, print this page so that you can refer to it during the first part of the Spring Cleaning!!

Keeping the inside of your computer’s case clear of dust is important for the long life of your computer. It also saves electricity, because your computer does not have to work so hard to keep itself cool. The inside of your computer attracts a lot of fine dust. The build up of dust can clog the vents and fans, and eventually cause your computer to get too hot. This can cause some parts to stop working correctly. In order to clean it, you will probably want to bring it outside on a clear day. First, turn off your computer, and unplug the different wires and cables. Don’t worry! If you take a good close look at the back of your computer, you will find that everything only fits where it belongs. Putting it together again should only take a few minutes. Most computers have a side that opens easily, after a large screw is loosened on the back. Remove the side, being careful not to touch any of the parts or cards inside. You can buy a can of compressed air at nearly any major electronics store, do to the job.

Keeping an arm’s length away, spray the high pressured air from one side of the computer, pushing the dust to the other side and then out. Watch out! It may create quite a cloud of swirling dust devils and bunnies!!! Repeat the sweep a few times, until the inside of the case, and the vent holes of the sides, are relatively clear. You will notice that the can gets very cold. It is probably a good idea to keep this, like any other high pressured can, out of the reach of the little ones.

Slide the side of the case back on, and bring your clean computer back inside. This is a good time to dust out the space where the computer is normally kept, and to get those cables and wires wiped down, as well.

Now it’s time to plug everything back in. Look carefully at the plugs and wires. You will notice that they are mostly color coded, and some have different shapes. Almost everything in the back of a computer will only go where it is supposed to. The only exception is those flat USB plugs. These can be plugged into any USB ports.

Turn your computer back on, and now we will get down to some basic software maintenance.

So what makes up “software clutter?” Temp files, cookies, browsing history and the like. To start your clean up, we will start with the Control Panel. The Control Panel is the best place to start for safe computer maintenance. Click on the Start menu, and then choose Control Panel. Once this comes up, you will see a number of different options. First, we will choose Internet Options. When you click it, another window pops up, called “Internet Properties” , and you will see that there are some options there to choose from. First click on “Delete Cookies”, then on “Delete Files”, lastly on “Clear History”. This will remove some unnecessary temporary files that your computer saves. Once this is finished, you can close out of this by clicking “OK”.

Close out of the Control Panel, and let’s do some more clean up. If you click on “My Computer” it will open up, and you will see some of the things that makeup your computer. The main drive of your PC has the letter C assigned to it, and you can right click it to see a menu of options. At the very bottom is the Properties choice, which we will select here. A picture will come up, which tells you how much space is on your computer, and how much has been used already. Click on “Disk Cleanup” and let that little program do its thing. When it is finished scanning for potential free space, it will give you a tidy list of files you can clean out. To be on the safe side, make sure you only choose the Temporary types of files, and then click “OK” followed by “Yes” when it asks you if you are sure. Let this run, and then you can close out of it when it completes.

Lastly, now that we have cleaned out what isn’t needed, it is time to organize! So how do we organize the files in the computer? With a good “defrag” once a month. Defragging sounds like a complicated thing, but it is really a pretty simple thing. When your computer saves something, it breaks the file up into little pieces. Sometimes, the pieces are in different places, and all defrag does is move them all together so your computer can find them quicker!

If you right click on “My Computer” you can choose “Manage” from the menu. A new window will come up, with some pretty confusing things, but we will only need one. Click on Disk Defragmenter, and the main display window will change, to show you a picture of your computer’s storage space. When you click “Defragment” a bunch of red and blue lines will show up, and one or two blocks of green. The green will not move, but as you watch, the blue and red will move around until the red lines are almost completely gone, and the blue lines are more or less all together, in a blue block. If this is the first time that your computer is going through this, it may take a couple of hours! Don’t be alarmed. Afterwards, your computer will be able to find files quicker, and will run much better.

Although Spring Cleaning is a good time to start taking care of your computer, it is a good idea to do these basic preventative tasks once a month. This will keep your computer humming away, and give you longer life, better performance, and save you over the long term.

About Nicole Conway, Geek Squad Deputy Field Marshal
Conquering the tech terrain means knowing it’s ok to run a sticky keyboard through the dishwasher (yes, just take it out before the hot drying cycle starts) or befriend your daughter on myspace so that you can monitor her activity (and every high school boy that goes near her).

When I’m not coaching on the soccer field, gardening, helping my three daughters (Emily 14, Erica 12, Erin 9) complete homework, or caring for my Beagle, 3 cats, 4 parakeets, and 2
hermit crabs (*catch breath), I’m hard at work as a Geek Squad Deputy Field Marshal. With a license to tech for three years now, I specialize in hardware repair, Networking, Virus and Spyware removal.

In other words, I’m that person you want to call when you’re about to throw your computer out the window.

After 17 years of “another career” (too painful to talk about), I pursued my true passion for computers. I relish the challenge behind life’s biggest annoyances — the jammed printer, the keyboard soaked with juicy juice, the wireless router that doesn’t route, the pile of wires your child devilishly jumbled up (need I say more?).

Go ahead, tell me if you have any issues (ones I can actually address). I should note I am a European History buff and cloth diaper sewer, so questions about Henry VIII and mending seams are not off limits!

Have a burning question about your computer? Send an email to techmom@momadvice.com and get answers!

Clean: The Cooktop

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Every Sunday, I make it a ritual to clean a few important items in our kitchen. One of the tasks on my list is to give our stove and sink a deep cleaning. A week of cooking can really make my range look bad, but my deep cleaning gives it a nice clean top for the week. I combine this with a clean sink and I feel like my kitchen has gotten some great refreshing.

I just have a standard gas range so my routine is for this. I can post some directions I found for cleaning other surfaces, but will use my stove for this example.

1. First, I fill a sink with warm soapy water. I place all of the burner pieces gently inside of the sink and let them soak while I clean the the top of our stove. At this point, you can also take the knobs off and let them soak too. Just make sure the knobs are in the off position and pull straight out to remove (Side note: It is also possible to put these items in the dishwasher, but I prefer to hand wash them because I think it is more gentle on the pieces)

2. I then take my spray bottle filled with my homemade all-purpose spray and spray the top of my range. I let this soak in for a couple of minutes while I work on other tasks around the house.

3. Once the cleaner has done its work, I take a soft damp cloth and wipe off the cleaner.

4. If there are persistent spots that won’t come up, you can try a couple of things to get them off. I pour a couple spoonfuls of baking soda on the spots and then make a paste out of this with a little water. Using the same soft cloth, gently try and get the stain up. If there is stuck on gunk, I take a different (but still gentle!) approach towards cleaning this. I use a Pampered Chef Scraper (if you don’t have one of these, an old credit card is great) for getting this off. The important thing is that you are gentle with your actions, so it doesn’t scratch up your appliance. Use the same gentle tactics on your glass oven door. I first try using my homemade glass cleaner. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can try and get the gunk off with your handy credit card or plastic scraper. Be very careful though- you want to keep your stove looking nice!

5. Next, I use my stainless steel cleaner on my stove with one of my microfiber cloths. I just spray my cloth directly (very teeny tiny bit) and then gently remove any fingerprints that might have taken up residence on my appliance. Remember to chant, go with the grain, go with the grain, go with the grain as you are cleaning.

6. Lastly, I drain the sink and give my pieces a good rinse with cool water. At this point, you can just let them air dry or you can give them a dry with a soft towel and place them back on the stove.

Cleaning Tips for Other Types of Stoves (thanks Martha!):

Stainless-Steel Cooktop Surface: Wipe with a sponge and a little dishwashing liquid or you can use a product for stainless-steel cleaning. Be sure to dry thoroughly afterward with a clean microfiber cloth; otherwise you will have streaking. To remove stuck on gunk, soak the area with a towel dampened with hot water to loosen the material and then gently scrape with a rubber spatula.

Glass Ceramic Cooktop Surfaces: Wipe with a very lightly dampened cloth. This type of surface scratches extremely easy, in fact, even the gritty stuff that can get pushed around with a dirty sponge can cause damage. You have be really diligent to clean spills as soon as they happen. If spills do harden. You can buy special cleaners for this type of surface (available at your local hardware store). Remember to never slide pans or metal utensils across the cooktop.

Porcelain Enamel Cooktop Surfaces: Clean as directed above, but realize that the porcelain enamel can become chipped very easily. If it does get chipped though, you can camouflage damage with a little appliance touch-up paint.

Sound Off: Do you have any tips for cleaning your cooktops?

(For more great tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer)

Booster Seat Cleaning Solution

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

I hate cleaning underneath my daughter’s booster seat, but the things that can get stuck under there can be quite unappetizing a few days after sitting there.

The other day I decided to tuck Emily’s plastic placemat under her seat instead of on the table and can’t believe I had not thought to do that sooner. Now after we enjoy our meal, I just pick the seat up and slide out the mat for a quick rinse instead of trying to clean under the seat, creating a sea of crumbs under our table.

It doesn’t help the nasty on the top of the seat, but sure makes the nasty underneath a little bit easier.

For more fun solutions for your family, be sure to visit Works-For-Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Sound Off: Do you have any clever solutions for dinner clean-up?