Posts Tagged ‘Cleaning’

Back From Vacation Cleaning & Organizing

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Our family has just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg for a special family reunion for my husband’s side of the family. We had the incredible opportunity to climb Clingmans Dome with Ryan’s grandma to check climbing this mountain off her bucket list for her 80th birthday. We climbed this mountain in honor of his grandfather who recently passed away from cancer as a symbol of his motto to, “live strong.”  It was a very special moment for us all and I am so proud of my two kids who RAN the entire mountain for their great grandma & grandpa. There are no words for this moment!

We are still in recovery mode from being gone for the week. Unfortunately, there were many projects awaiting me upon my return. This week on the Kenmore Genius Blog you will find me sharing a few of the strategies I am working on to get my home back on track before the kids head back to school. Be sure to read this post for strategies on back from vacation cleaning and organizing.

I am also sharing my tips and strategies for organizing my closets this week! My car is fully loaded for a trip to Goodwill to donate items from our closet. It will be nice to start the Fall with a freshly organized space.

 

 

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How to Clean Your Grill While You Sleep

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

It had been unseasonably warm in Indiana the past couple of weeks. Nothing says warm weather fun like dinner on the grill. I opened my grill for the season and, holy cow, the grill was disgusting. I am lazy about cleaning my grill though so I wanted to share with you my lazy and easy way to clean your grill while you sleep. Yes, I said it…clean your grill while you sleep.

For this task you do need an oven with a self-cleaning cycle, a scrub brush, and a small handheld vacuum.

 The first step is to simply put your grill grates in your oven on the racks. Both my oven and my grill were pretty disgusting so they both were in need of a little help for this grilling season.

Select the Clean cycle on your oven.

Once you start the Cleaning cycle on your oven, head to bed. There are a couple of things to note about what may occur in the night. First, it may get really, really hot. Be sure that you have your AC on. The second is that if your grill is as disgusting as mine, you will have one smoky house. If you are sleeping though, you might not notice it…unless it causes your fire alarms to go off. You have been warned.

When you roll out of bed, your oven will look like this. As you can see, the oven and the grill grates had a lot of gunk built up on them. All of that gunk has burnt off into ash and is now at the bottom of your oven. Don’t worry though, we will be able to get this clean, quickly and easily!

Pull your grill grates out of your oven first. Next, grab your vacuum (it can be a handheld quick vac or just attach the attachment on your vacuum) and let’s suck up all of the ash that is on the bottom of your oven. Using the vacuum will help this get clean quickly.

Rinse your grill grates off and use a scrub brush to brush off any of the ash that is lingering on your grill grates.

Finish your clean up by wiping down the interior of your oven with a damp paper towel.

Bask in your glory…part one and part two. It is worthy of two rounds of glory basking, I promise!

Tips for my friends without a self-cleaning oven:

If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, this task may require a little more effort on your part, but it can still be done easily. Upon removing any lava rocks in the bottom of the grill, spray the interior of the grill with a no-heat oven cleaner, shut the grill, and go about your day. The following day, hose down the interior of the grill and use a metal wire brush to remove any stuck on gunk from your grill.

Now that you know how to get your grill clean, it is time to use it!  I decided to start a Pinterest Get Your Grill On board where I am sharing my MomAdvice grilling favorites as well as great grilling tips, tricks, and recipes for making the most of your grilling season.

Be sure to friend me on Pinterest and follow my Get Your Grill On board for some fun and unique ideas for ways to put that freshly cleaned grill to work.

What is your favorite food to throw on the grill? Have any tips or tricks for keeping that grill sparkly clean? I would love to hear them!

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Cleaning & Stocking Your Refrigerator for the New Year: Giveaway for 1 Year of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Orange Juice

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

candy colours

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed! We would  like to congratulate Sandy N. (Comment #4) on winning this great prize! What a wonderful way for her to start her new year!

The New Year is now upon us and for me that brings with it a time of renewal for cleaning and organizing our year. I will admit that the refrigerator is one area that could use some concentration in our house.  I would imagine after all of the holiday festivities and leftovers, it might be a spot to tackle in your home  as well.

Today I wanted to share with you some ideas for cleaning out the refrigerator, some great items to refill your refrigerator with, and a giveaway you can enter to stock your refrigerator for a whole year with one of my favorite fridge essentials, Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice.

Here are some easy tips for cleaning out your refrigerator:

back from vacation and back to work

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies- Break out two dishwashing tubs and a cookie sheet . Fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water for wiping down the interior of your refrigerator. Then use your cookie sheet and other dishwashing tub to put all of the condiments on and empty your drawers into for removing items quickly and easily so you can wipe down the interior without a hassle.

Let the Drawers Clean Themselves- Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work of cleaning them  while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.

Wipe Down the Interior- Using a rag or microfiber cloth, dampen the cloth with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and  all of the surfaces. If the washing solution begins to look murky, be sure to dump it and get another tub full to for cleaning.

Tips for Stubborn Spots- For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow the paste to work on the set in stain and then scrub gently  to remove the gunk.

Put It Back Together Again- Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink.

Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water.  Use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout . Dry thoroughly with a terry towel.

Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub to their proper homes.

Tidy the Exterior- The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, I spray my homemade all purpose cleaner on my fridge.

You can use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside of your refrigerator, as it is  gentle  but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.

If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel.

Restock Your Fridge- Now that your refrigerator is nice and clean it is time to restock it for the New Year. Here are ten essential items to have on-hand when restocking your refrigerator.

Ten Fridge Essentials

  1. Milk
  2. Coffee Creamer
  3. Butter
  4. Jelly
  5. Cheese- Slices & Shredded
  6. Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice
  7. Carrots
  8. Lettuce/Romaine Hearts
  9. Lunch Meat
  10. Condiments (check your expiration dates on your condiments & toss any expired items)

Minute Maid has graciously offered to give one of our lucky readers a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice to get your New Year started out right. Just imagine that you don’t have to pay for this great fridge essential for an entire year.  I am so excited for you!


Today we are offering one lucky reader a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice. Leave one comment for each  entry you wish to complete:

  • First Entry: Leave a comment and let us know which variety of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice you are interested in trying for your family- No Pulp 100% Orange Juice, No Pulp 100% Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D, Some Pulp 100% Orange Juice, or Light Orange Juice Beverage with Calcium and Vitamin D with 50 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving.
  • Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of Minute Maid and join the Minute Maid Facebook Page.
  • Additional Entry: Follow me on Twitter and get an early scoop on what I am up to!

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Orange Juice (52 coupons). Please submit your entries by Tuesday (01/10) at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

I am a spokesperson for Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice and have a relationship with the company. Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers. In full disclosure, the email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner(s), and will never be sold or given to anyone. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Entries that do not follow the above criterion will automatically be disqualified. This giveaway will close Tuesday, January 10th at 8PM (EST). I’ll announce the first name of the winner(s) that will be added to the top of this current giveaway post and contact the winner(s) by email. I will draw the names of the winner(s) by using the random number generator at Random.org from the eligible entries received. If a winner does not contact me within 72 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. The winner(s) will receive their prize from the PR agency responsible for this giveaway. 

 

Photo credits: katisworld Michelle Wutkon

New Year’s Goals: Banishing the Paper Clutter From Your Home

Thursday, January 13th, 2011


As I shared with you last week, I am working on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.

The first month of her book focuses on boosting energy and has several ways that you can do that.

I have been working on four specific goals for this month.

1. Going to bed on time.
2. Dealing with the nagging list of things to do.
3. Kicking clutter to the curb.
4. Returning to a good exercise routine.

Last week I shared with you my closet transformation. That little transformation helped me see the possibilities that our space could hold if I could let the clutter go. This past week I have taken not one, not two, not even three…No, I have taken SIX car trunks full of clutter to Goodwill to reclaim my home.

As each batch of clutter leaves my home, I am discovering  the potential of my home and the potential for my space to be exactly as I want it. It might not be a space that resembles the pages of Real Simple Magazine, but it brings me one step closer to the home I desire.

Ironically, I asked my husband if he had noticed the house potential peeking through the clutter after my sixth trip to the Goodwill drop-off box.  “Do you even know what is missing?” I asked. He looked around and said, “I guess I will figure it out when I try to find something.” Yes, we don’t even know what is missing which goes to show how little those items had meant to us.

Now that we had begun to see our house through the rubble, it was time to get a few organizing systems into place to get rid of the paper trail that makes its way into my home.

Finding a system that makes sense in your home and that you can maintain is the most important step towards transforming your paper clutter. What works for me might not work for you. Admittedly, I have tried more systems than I can count.

I have realized two things about myself and my paper clutter:

1) My system needs to be convenient- I would love to banish all papers down to to our home office. Walking down to the office though is not convenient though and that is why the clutter continues to build on my kitchen counters.

2) Everything must have a home- Half of the problem for me is not having a home for the papers in my life. I needed something that could house the chaos, yet I could find the papers at a moments notice.

I decided to use a magazine organizer that I had bought years ago that had housed dusty magazines. I bought a set of decorative file folders in the $1 section of Michael’s and created a folder for those troublesome papers.

The file folders you create might be different than mine, but this is what was needed to organize our family papers.

1.  Coupons- This coupon folder holds the newspaper coupons and coupons for places that we might like to dine out. I also tucked any gift cards that we might have in there so that I can grab them when we go out.

2. Emily & Ethan’s School- Each child has a folder where I can put the month’s current newsletter and school calendar.

3. Tax Information- As tax information comes through, I can add it to this folder along with any receipts that I need to keep on hand for tax deductions.

4. Amy’s Work- Check stubs from jobs I have done and reports from my ad network go in here.

5. Recipes/Crafts- I always find things in magazines or recipes that I want to try and end up losing them. Now I have a folder where I can keep these on hand for dinner or crafty inspiration.

6. Receipts- I try to tuck receipts for important items somewhere. What ends up happening though is that they immediately become misplaced. Now I know exactly where they are!

I decided to implement the same system down in my office where my cluttered desk resides.  As a work-at-home mom, I needed organization to do my job well. Again, I had another dusty organizer in my office that needed to be put to good use.

In my work file folders were these categories:

1. Current Projects- Anything that I am currently working on goes into this folder for easy grabbing.

2. Inspiration- I try to keep an inspiration folder on hand. It could be something I see in a magazine that would make the perfect article for our site, a recipe that I would like to try, or ideas from other bloggers that I want to keep in mind.

3. Product Reviews- If I request a product to review for The MotherLoot, the company usually sends a product sheet. Now it is all neatly tucked in a folder and the papers can be easily recycled once I am done with the review.

4. Contracts- This folder contains the contracts that I am under with different companies and can be referenced when needed.

The papers are still all there, but I have reclaimed my counters. What a beautiful thing! I couldn’t be more pleased or feel more organized now that everything has its home.

The next thing I needed to do was organize the kid’s art and special papers that I wanted to keep. I went to Walmart and got a two decorative banker boxes for a total of $6.88.

Each of the kids now have their own box to put their treasures in. These will go in their closets so they can save what they really love and then we will do an editing of the box in the summer for the next school year. It is just a big open box of possibility for them and will keep these papers from being strewn all over the house.

What systems have you found work for your family when it comes to organizing life’s papers? Please share or share links to your organizing systems. I would love some additional inspiration!

Giveaway Results: Cheer brightCLEAN Detergent for One Year

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Thank you all for your entries! We would like to congratulate Michelle S. (Commenter #202) on winning our Cheer for a Year Giveaway! Happy Holidays to you all!

Editor’s Note- Don’t forget to enter our Tassimo T20 Coffeemaker Giveaway from Monday (valued at $139),  our $1,300 Prize Pack from The Talk, and our Nintendo Wii with Family Game Night 3 Giveaway. Check back tomorrow for more!!

Over the last few months I have had the incredible opportunity to work as the spokesperson for Cheer brightCLEAN detergent which has been a fun and exciting opportunity for our entire family. I have been working hard to share with moms easy ways to keep their clothes looking great for the back-to-school season, but my work doesn’t end there since a mom’s work with laundry and clothing is never done!

Today I wanted to share with you some easy tips for organizing your closet in under 30 minutes. If you are limited on closet space, like me, or you simply like to organize your clothes by season, I have a few easy tips to incorporate in your life to help keep your closets organized and fresh!

Pull All of the Clothing Out of the Closet- To begin organizing your closet, you really need to know what is in it. Begin pulling all of the clothing out of the closet and eliminate any items that have not been worn in the last six months, clothing that no longer fits, clothing that is no longer in season, or clothes that are no longer in style.

Organize Clothing by Color- Next put your items back into the closet and organize it by color and then by type. For example, put all of the black clothing together and then organize it by style of shirt (knit, blazer, sweater, cardigan, etc..) I have used this advice over the years,  that was offered to me by my closest fashion confidant, Kathy Friend. Sorting items by color makes it easier to find what you need quickly and also discover what areas in the color scheme needed a boost and what areas need some scaling back.

Repeat these steps above for your children’s closets and I am sure you will notice a true difference in how easy for you all to get ready in the morning!

Store Your Out-of-Season Clothing- Storage depends truly on the size of home you have and the space that you can use to tuck your out-of-season items away. In our house, Rubbermaid totes are our clothing storage option and I keep my personal (freshly washed)  out-of-season items tucked away in the basement, while the kids have two bins going all of the time in each of their closets.

With my children, one bin of clothing that they are outgrowing is stored throughout the year and can be added to as items are outgrown. I have been lucky enough to have a “bin exchange” program with my best friend and we trade bins of clothing with each other for our children. When a bin is filled, I pass it on to her in exchange for a bin of her clothing. With this exchange system, I can probably count on one hand the amount of items that I have had to buy my daughter this year. It is great if you can work something like this out with a friend and by keeping a bin on hand, it helps to keep your closets tidy and organized.

The other bin of clothing that is housed in their closet contains items that they will soon be growing into, sometime in that next year. This bins helps serve as a reminder to me on how much or how little I really need to buy for the upcoming year or season. If you do a lot of thrift shopping, consignment shopping, or hit the garage sales for your children’s clothing, an itemized list of items you have on hand and sizing can help reduce the amount of duplicate purchases.

Implement a Free-For-All Drawer for Kids- Maintaining organization in your house, let alone your closet, with small children is practically impossible. I have learned over the years to choose our battles, but I never knew what battles were until I met my strong-willed and wildly independent little girl.

It is because of her that I have developed the, “Free-For-All,” drawer. This nightstand is my daughter’s drawer that she can organize and do exactly what she pleases with it. Each day we were battling her about what she could or could not wear for school. Now we have compromised and this drawer is filled with all of her favorite nightgowns and pajamas. At the end of the day, she can do whatever she wants and where whatever she wants from this drawer, provided we are spending the day at home!

Make sure that if you have a drawer for your children, that it is the lowest one or a safe one to access. When my daughter began climbing on a chair to grab her favorite nightgowns and toppled the drawers on herself, we knew that she needed a drawer that she could access with a few of her favorite things in a safe location.

Donate Often- Make donating to your local thrift store or shelter a part of your weekly routine and just imagine how much space you can reclaim in your closet and home. I like to keep a bag or bin going all week long and add as I see items that we no longer need or have outgrown, that can be passed on to someone else. It is amazing how these little things really add up over the course of the week, and how much simpler my life has become thanks to ridding myself of clutter. Make it a part of your routine just like paying the bills and caring for your home each week and you will begin to see the power you have in transforming those cluttered corners and closets.

Switch to a Wallet-Friendly Detergent- Before storing those clothes for next season and when caring for those clothes for this season, be sure to look for a wallet friendly detergent to care for them with that will keep your clothes looking fresh and bright for this season (and many seasons to come).  Do a price comparison on the detergents in your store and I am sure you will find that Cheer brightCLEAN detergent is  not only inexpensive, but that it performs just as well as the more expensive detergents.

At only $.15 a load though, it is great to know that if you need to buy it, that this detergent is very budget-friendly and they offer different (including unscented) varieties to choose from! It is a product that I am using for my own family and one that I would love to share with you! The best part though is that it will remove the day’s dinginess from your clothing and brighten the clothes you already have at a fraction of the price. Who wouldn’t want a little of that in their life…or perhaps, a year’s worth of that!

I don’t want to just talk about how much you will save by using Cheer brightCLEAN detergent, I actually want to give it to you and save you that expense for an entire year! Cheer brightCLEAN™ detergent has graciously offered to give to one of our lucky readers a year’s supply of laundry detergent. Imagine not having to pay for detergent for an entire year and what you could do with that money.

Today we are offering one lucky reader a year’s supply of Cheer brightCLEAN Detergent to help inspire you to get your closet organized with fresh clean clothes with Cheer brightCLEAN Detergent!

Leave one comment for each item that you complete to enter:

  • First Entry: Leave a comment and let us know one tip you use to get your closet and out-of-season clothing organized in your house or one tip that you have discovered through this post that would really help your family!
  • Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of MomAdvice and join the MomAdvice.com Fan Club today on Facebook.
  • Additonal Entry: Follow me on Twitter and get an early scoop on all of our giveaways and articles that we are formulating for the year!
  • Additional Entries: Subscribe to my feeds and never miss another thing on our site again! We have a landing page where it makes it easy to subscribe to our blogsFor each one you subscribe to, leave one additional comment.

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a year’s supply of Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent . Please submit your entries by Wednesday (12/22)  at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

Please check out this video below where I share more great tips on organizing your closet in 30 minutes or less!

I am a spokesperson for Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent and have a relationship with the company. Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers. In full disclosure, the email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner(s), and will never be sold or given to anyone. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Entries that do not follow the above criterion will automatically be disqualified. This giveaway will close Wednesday, December 22 at 8PM (EST). I’ll anneounce the first name of the winner(s) that will be added to the top of this current giveaway post and contact the winner(s) by email. I will draw the names of the winner(s) by using the random number generator at Random.org from the eligible entries received. If a winner does not contact me within 72 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. The winner(s) will receive their prize from the PR agency responsible for this giveaway. There is no guarantee that this item will be received by Christmas.

I Did Not Sort My Laundry This Week…And We All Lived

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

It has been a crazy week for our family, just as so many other families, as the school year is drawing to a close. Last week I crammed in some work, read a literary classic to share for our great reads for moms section, frantically tried to finish some knitted projects, volunteered at school, hit the gym three times this week,  went to a end-of-the-year concert, hosted a mom’s night out, and tried to work on new summer recipe ideas for the site. Did I also mention that my book proposal will finally be going out into the world this week after spending the week editing it? I am a little scared about that one!

The craziness seemed to take whole new levels and my husband, at one point, said he wished he could have photographed me in one of my crazier moments. He came home from work to find me entertaining the kids, on the phone with a conference call, threading shrimp, whispering directions to him on the grill for the new recipe, and then putting the phone on speakerphone so I could take photographs of our dinner before we sat down. Ironically, it is hard to even tell you what we did last week because it was such a whirlwind. Have you ever had a week like that?

I admit, I can’t do it all and felt a little overwhelmed.

The laundry continued to mount and so I decided this would be the perfect week to try the not-sorting laundry idea that had been highlighted in our Notebook two weeks ago. When I told my husband that I was doing this for a Notebook Experiment,  he said, “That is going to be one expensive experiment if it doesn’t work.” Obviously, he does not know how awesome my friend Laura is and how I was willing to take a gamble and see if it would work.

We have a front-loader (which I absolutely love) and so I had to read through her comment thread to figure out where to put the vinegar, which was supposed to help set the color in my load. I have used vinegar in the past as a fabric softener, particularly when we were cloth diapering, but had never thought of it as a tool to set color.

After reading through the thread, I put my regular detergent in the detergent dispenser, my fabric softener in the softener dispenser, and the 1/2 cup of vinegar in the bleach dispenser. I ran it through the Normal cycle selection and then ran the dryer on the Normal cycle selection after it was done washing.

Here are  my son’s uniforms after this mixed-up load went through the dryer. The whites were still white and the blues still blue. I won’t say I didn’t feel completely weird about this experience and can’t say if I would do this all of the time, as I value my pearly white socks and white undershirts a lot and love using my Whites cycle on my washing machine to make everything look like new again.

For a week like this one… it was exactly what I needed to get things done.

What are some ways you save time or money on doing your laundry loads? What system of sorting/tackling laundry seems to work with your family? Do you sort? I would love to hear your ideas!

Iced Coffee the Cold Brew Way

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I have a few weaknesses in my life- pretty yarn, delicious books, lovely shoes…and coffee, coffee, coffee!  In the winter, I crave a hot drink to warm my hands. In the summer, it is an entirely different story and I want a delicious iced coffee  to keep me cool while I dream of exotic vacations and escaping the reality of my mountains of laundry and cranky children. Does coffee let you escape too?

As the Indiana weather has begun to make it’s way towards Spring, I was anxious to finally give the cold brewed coffee technique a try from the New York Times.  This winter, I saved my Swagbucks and decided to buy myself a treat… a French Press that I could use in the evening for my decaf coffee. When Rachel highlighted her own cold brew technique using a French Press on Small Notebook (and then featured here), I had to put my little gadget to work and see what all of the fuss was about.

Traditionally, when I use my French press, I heat the water in my teapot and then add it to the grounds, steep it for about four minutes, and then plunge it to push the grounds down. With the cold brew technique, you just do everything wrong. You put in the grounds, add cold water, don’t plunge it for an entire night, add more water, and then finally plunge it for your iced brew. To be honest, it looks like really watery coffee sludge and you wonder if you just wasted your coffee and a moment of effort to pull it together.

I then poured it and mixed mine up with almost half skim milk and a generous little shake of caramel coffee syrup and excitedly went in for a taste. The taste? Coffee perfection! There is no bitterness and no coffee edge at all.  It just tastes like a delicious coffee that you would get at the fancy coffee joints, but only costs pennies versus dollars!

After I made a coffee for myself, the next day I made one for my grandmother. If you don’t believe me that it was good, perhaps seeing the two of us ladies rushing over to Target that-very-instant to buy a French press so she could easily replicate the coffee at home, our fun discussion dissecting the recipe and what could be done with it, and then talking about how delicious it was for an hour just might convince you.

Really though, a French press is not required for this technique, in fact, you could just use a coffee filter and a jar, if you don’t want to make the purchase. If you are in the market to buy one, I recommend one that has a second mesh filter around the lip (as pictured above) to give your coffee an extra strain. Should you use the medium grind coffee, as recommended by the manufacturer, you might not need this additional strainer as much. If you are like me though and choose to use the coffee you already use every other day of the week (which is most definitely not always freshly ground) then that extra little strainer might come in handy. The one pictured here is the BonJour Hugo ($19.12).

As an aside, I have made my own coffee syrups and also have bought them. It really depends on how motivated you are, but I love to have a variety of them when I have my girlfriends over for coffee. I am all about the coffee shop experience on a pauper’s budget, and syrups are one of those things that make my coffee brewed at home feel a little more special.

The best deal I have found on them has been at the wholesale club. Our local Sam’s Club (our area does not offer a variety of wholesale clubs, unfortunately for price comparison purposes) offers a 25.4 ounce container of gourmet coffee syrups for $4.42. Basically, for the price of one of those expensive caramel coffees, you can make a few dozen of them. The prices in the grocery store typically are much higher so if you are going to buy them, definitely put your membership card to work on this purchase and peruse the aisles for affordable coffee too!

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Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee (Recipe Courtesy of The New York Times)

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)

Milk (optional).

In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

For the French press: Place 1/3 cup of ground coffee in the bottom and add 1 1/2 cups water. Allow to sit overnight without pushing down the plunger. The next morning, add 1 more cup of water. Add milk as desired and coffee syrup as desired. Stir and serve.

For more great coffee tips and tricks for savings, be sure to visit, “A Frugal Mom’s Guide to Good Coffee.”  I told you, I am so passionate about this topic!

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To clean your French press- Keeping your French press clean is quick and easy. First, dump the grounds in your trash can and not down your sink. You may want to trust me on this, but even with the best garbage disposals it can create a big mess and clog your drain. I use a spoon and scoop as much as I can out of the bottom before giving it a wash.

Most French presses can be placed into the dishwasher for easy cleaning on the top rack. If you are worried though, don’t hesitate to give it a quick wash by hand (using just a tiny bit of dish soap). For the unbreakable plastic variety, a little shake of baking soda and water is an ideal way to get it clean. Allow it to air dry or gently towel dry it, if you are trying to avoid the spotting. However you clean it, put it to good use and make it earn its keep in your cupboards!

What are some ways that you save on your coffee experience? Any tips or tricks for cutting the cost on your daily brew?

Boosting Energy By Transforming Your Clutter

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

As I shared with you last week, I am working on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.

The first month of her book focuses on boosting energy and has several ways that you can do that.

I have been working on four specific goals for this month.

1. Going to bed on time.
2. Dealing with the nagging list of things to do.
3. Kicking clutter to the curb.
4. Returning to a good exercise routine.

You may wonder why kicking clutter to the curb would be an energy booster. I am telling you, my friends, that dealing with clutter on a daily basis is a huge drain to my energy. No matter how hard I try though, it seems that it is a constant battle. I have papers coming home from school, mail and newspapers, magazines, and a constant influx of randomness that seems to enter our lives. Couple that with the “best Christmas ever”, according to my children, and we have a possible avalanche on our hands.

Yes, it is easy for me to tsk tsk and wag my fingers at others though. Did you notice how I never blame myself in this process? I can watch organizing shows and put myself on a pedestal or blame my children and their toys for the clutter in our home, but do I ever look at myself? Not likely!

Let’s look at a space in my home that is just my space…my section in the closet!


Wow, is that an energy drainer or what? Getting ready in the morning has been horrible for me and this is one space that needed some addressing!

I pulled every single item out of the closet and evaluated if I ever wore it or not. No surprise that there are many pieces in this wardrobe that I am not wearing, many because I simply could not find them! These got pulled into a bag to donate to our local Goodwill.

Using the advice that was offered to me by my closest fashion confidant, Kathy Friend, I sorted these items by color so that I could find what I need quickly and also could discover what areas in my color scheme needed a boost and what areas would need some scaling back.

Oh, black, how I love thee! Just seeing this section in my closet makes me happy. A girl can never have too many black items, in my opinion, although I did take note that my closet is a little heavy on the black and could use a little boost in the browns, greens, and blues. Now I will know exactly what to keep my eye out for when I do my thrift shopping!

To go along with my Type A personality, I also organized my colored section by style. Collared shirts and blazers were together, camisoles and tanks were in the front for easy grabbing, and t-shirts were all together in a row.


This is my closet after! I took out two bags of clothes that I did not wear, got rid of the randomness that doesn’t even belong in the closet, and got rid of non-matching socks or socks from high school (I know, so embarrassing!)

The very best part though is that I freed a shelf up and put not a thing on it. I thought only rich folks had free shelves. In fact,  I have never had a free shelf in my home and I will admit that I always blamed it on the fact that our space/home is smaller. While that may be true, perhaps my clutter is the cause and not the size of the space.

The cost to  transform this space? ZERO DOLLARS! The superstores will have you fooled this time of year and make you believe that the key to getting organized comes in the form of more storage containers and fancy organizers. No, the real key to transforming your clutter is not to organize it… it is to GET RID OF IT!

To remind myself to only keep what I wear, I went back to the Peter Walsh technique of turning my hangers around when I wear something so at the end of this season, I can do another weeding.

Now of course I started to evaluate my husband’s section of the closet and thought how nice it would be if he would go through what he is not wearing. I then had to remind myself of this year’s personal commandment- “I can only change me.”

I moved on mentally and decided to tackle the basement instead.

What area in your home is draining you of energy? Do you have a spot in your house that you are proud of that gives you a boost when you see it! Please share here!

30 Day Challenge: Reducing Clutter In Your Home

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009



Today I am sitting in a home that has been greatly reduced of clutter. Three cars (front passenger seat, back row of seating, and trunk)… all filled to the brim with clutter from my home. Another load sits, waiting to be distributed to those I know that are in need right now.

It is as though I can hear the drawers in our home give audible sighs as I open them instead of groaning underneath the weight of random uselessness. There is some emptiness in places that once housed chaos.

Even the man of the house has noticed a difference around here. “This doesn’t even look like our house!” he had exclaimed after car load #1 was removed. By car load #3 there was a sense of panic. “Will we have anything left? Please don’t take my stuff!”

You may have been under the impression that I live in a clutter-free existence. I am afraid you would be wrong! What has been removed from my home?

- The purse collection, whittled down to two everyday purses and one special occasion purse. Each gently unloaded of four hundred lip glosses and hand lotions…two items which I never thought I had.

- The size zero, ones and some twos pants are now donated and no longer a painful reminder of the body that I once had. I don’t have to try them on anymore and be disappointed. I remind myself that my size four body is a happier one and remember that my size zero body was when I was depressed and longing to get pregnant. I am the happy and proud mom of two beautiful children who love me if I am a size four or a size twenty-five. Go me!

- The collection of thrift store items that never really fit into my life. I confused my frugality for a need to deal seek and thrift seek all of the time. I can remind myself that I am maturing in my frugality and now know that I am saving a lot more if I don’t seek the deals anymore. A scaled existence is far more frugal than even those items that seemed to cost pennies.

- The mismatched linens, table linens, and cups that gathered dust in my home. Now the space has been freed for the matched existence that I love. I don’t have to shift the mismatched stuff to get the stuff I really adore. Hurray for space!

- Plastic. Goodbye promotional water bottles, plastic containers missing lids, random plastic clutter in my life. How refreshing to open a cupboard and not be attacked by a plastic monster.

- Stuff I have to dust. You will have to find a new place to live because I am tired of dusting and moving you around.

Here is my challenge, all neatly outlined, and what I was able to achieve this month:

October ’09 Challenge

Challenge: Reduce the clutter in our home. I planned to commit to take one car full (minimum) to the donation box each week until we have our clutter problems under control.

Did I meet the challenge?: Yes, I did! The first car load was easy to pull together, but each pile after that seemed more difficult. I had to really think about the things in our home and weigh their usefulness which took more time and thought then I had anticipated. I am very conscious of clutter and try to be careful about this so everything, at first, appeared quite useful to me.

How did it enrich myself/others?: The enrichment that reducing clutter has been immediately evident to me. For one, I am spending less time cleaning my home. When everything has a place and is useful to me, it is much easier to tidy up and maintain my home. The benefit to that is more time to do what I love…reading, knitting, and hanging out with my family.

The best part is that once you start decluttering, it can be difficult to stop. Suddenly I was dumping junk drawers and organizing seasonal clothing, tidying the basement, and clearing out the pantry. This organized living could become highly addictive!

We also enriched other families by making our donations to charity. I know that I am helping keep people employed at Goodwill and I know that the items I have set aside for those in need in our community will be put to good use. It is a fantastic feeling to bless others when we have been so blessed ourselves!

How I Plan to Continue the Challenge: I am going to be more aware of what I am bringing into my home and if I really need the items. I also plan to keep a bin in our garage going at all times to toss items in that don’t add to the quality of my life.

Let’s be honest though… I am the mother of two small children. It isn’t just my clutter that I am trying to maintain. I know that is unlikely that I will have a clutter-free home for awhile. I am honest with myself though and know that as long as they have oodles of space to play and I do the best I can, that is the most important part. I just want to create a home that is lived in, loved, and maintain a space that we all can love and appreciate. It is a modest goal that I know I can accomplish!

Reward- The reward is the new space that I am living in and the reward of the time that I have reclaimed in the process!

Next Month’s Challenge- I don’t eat breakfast…ever. I can count on one hand the amount of breakfasts I have ate this year. This month, I plan to commit to eating something every single morning and see if it has any improvement on my day.

Want to take on a 30 Day Challenge of your own? Read more details about how these challenges can be beneficial and share with me one thing you would like to change this month!

Tips for Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Photo Credit: Thomas Lester

This week I really need to do a deep cleaning of my fridge. The science experiments that are growing in there are quite shameful. Now that you know what I will be up to, I wanted to share with you some tips for cleaning out the refrigerator.

I do not enjoy cleaning out my refrigerator, but it one of those things that must be done. I wait until the day before grocery day to do it though because this is the day where there is the least amount of items that need to be moved around. It is also a great time to check my inventory before making the shopping trip to see if I really do need half the things on my list.

When I clean out the fridge, I break out two dishwashing tubs & a cookie sheet to accomplish this task. I fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water (no need to measure this, just an idea of how much to use). The cookie sheet is used to put all of the condiments on and drawers are emptied into the other dishwashing tub to move items quickly in and out of the fridge.

Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.
I use a rag to do the interior and just get the rag wet with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and wipe off all of the surfaces and interior of the refrigerator. If the washing solution begins to look nasty, be sure to chuck it and get another tub full to clean with.
For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow this to set on the stain and then scrub gently and allow the paste to remove the gunk.
Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink. Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water. Now use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout too. Dry throughly with a terry towel.
Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is just not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub, at this time, to their proper homes.
The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, tiny little fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, use my homemade all-purpose cleaner and spray this on your fridge. I then use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside as it is still gentle on the appliance but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.
If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel. If you have soft water, that won’t show any water marks, you can just use the water to clean the exterior.
Now when was the last time you saw the top of your fridge? You might want to hop up there on occasion and give that a good wiping too. If you have a handheld vacuum, use that to suck up any crumbs and debris. After that, use the all-purpose cleaner and give that a good wiping down too.
Just as a side note, after I clean out my fridge, I also empty the ice out of our icemaker and clean it with the same solution and dump all of the old ice out. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is an easy addition to my routine since I already have everything out.

Photo Credit: Webkim

Additional Tips:
When cleaning out your fridge, always use baking soda and warm water to wipe the insides of your refrigerator and freezers- soap or dishwashing liquid will leave a smell and can taint food.
Once every few months, remove all the food, switch off the refrigerator and wipe down all the surfaces. Defrost the freezer at the same time if necessary.
A box of baking soda can be added to your fridge and freezer to neutralize those smells.

Frugal Momma’s Money-Saving Tip:
Make sure that the door seals on the refrigerator, freezer compartment, or freezer are working efficiently by closing the door on a piece of paper. If the paper can be pulled out easily, the seal is worn and should be replaced.
Make sure to vacuum your refrigerator coils (located on the back of your fridge) twice a year. It is recommended that you do this more often if you have pets in the home. Just use your vacuum with the crevice attachment attached to the vacuum hose and give it a good vacuuming. The coils are located either on the bottom of your fridge or in the rear of your fridge. Doing this will save you money because if these are clean, your fridge won’t have to work as hard lowering your bills!

Suggested Reading:


Tips to Keep White Appliances from Looking Yellow (Warning: This does include bleach so be careful with your floors and clothing!)

Refrigerator Repair & Care

Do you have any tips for cleaning out the refrigerator? How often do you do this task in your house?