Tag Archives: hacks

Microwave Uses To Help With Cleaning

5 Ways Your Microwave Can Help With the Housework

Sure it’s great for heating up leftovers and giving a baked potato a head start, but it’s the microwave’s lesser-known uses that make it an excellent household helper. Here are a few things we bet you didn’t know your microwave could do:

Sterilize sponges. Your dish sponge smells like last night’s dinner, and detergent won’t help. Time to toss it, right? Wrong. Pour a dash of white vinegar or lemon juice in a bowl of water, soak the sponge, and then heat it in the microwave on high for a minute. The heat will deodorize and disinfect the sponge—even after wiping up raw egg or chicken.

Clean the cutting board. How can you tell if you’ve washed the cutting board thoroughly enough after preparing raw meat? Eliminate the guesswork by sterilizing it in the microwave. Wash it first, rub it with lemon, then heat on high for one minute.

Soften sweeteners. Hardened brown sugar and crystallized honey don’t need to be thrown away, they just need to be heated. Sprinkle a bit of water into the brown sugar bag and heat the whole thing on high for 20 seconds. To return honey to its liquid form, remove the lid and heat the jar on medium for 30-60 seconds.

Speed up bread baking. Bread bakers know that yeast dough can take at least an hour to rise. Cut that time down to 15 minutes by proofing the dough in the microwave. Put the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Position a cup of water at the back of the microwave before placing the bowl inside. At a low temperature, heat for 3 minutes, pause for 3 minutes to let the dough rise, then heat for another 3 minutes. Allow the dough to rise for another 6 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Relieve aches and pains. Warm up gel or herb-filled heating pads to soothe sore heads and tummies, and to reinvigorate tired muscles.

Sources: Realsimple.com, DIY.com

This article was published in Reader’s Digest

Thank you for reading 🙂


Hacks For Your Backyard Party


Throwing a successful backyard gathering doesn’t need to be stressful. Nor should it require weeks or even days of planning. Impossible, you say? Not at all: The key is adopting a few of our favorite hacks, each designed to make your backyard the place to gather this summer.

Build a backyard fire pit. In three minutes!

1. Build a backyard fire pit. In three minutes! 

No fire pit, and no time to build one? No problem. Just grab a 15-gallon metal wash pail and four bricks from your local building supply or hardware store (total cost should be around 20 bucks). Set the wash pail wherever you like (well, ok, not inside!), then space the bricks evenly along the bottom; they’ll provide essential air flow. Lay your logs on top of the bricks, strike a match, and break out the hot dogs.

Make your picnic table an impromptu piece of art

2. Make your picnic table an impromptu piece of art 

Grab a roll of craft paper (your local office supply store should carry it), and use it in place of a tablecloth. Next, hand out pocket-sized packs of crayons, or place them conspicuously on the tables. Finally, encourage kids of all ages to add to the artistic masterpiece. As an incentive, find a place to hang the table covering from your previous gathering. Fair warning: the presence of adult beverages may influence the quality and nature of the art.

Cook corn in your cooler

3. Cook corn in your cooler 

If you want to see mouths drop, just start tossing freshly shucked ears of corn into an empty cooler, before casually adding boiling water (two quarts per dozen ears, since you’re asking), and closing the lid. Give it 30 minutes or so, open the lid, and voila! Perfectly cooked corn on the cob. Butter not included. 

Create a backyard party “secret signal”

4. Create a backyard party “secret signal” 

Gather your friends and neighbors together, and agree on a neighborhood signal for the spontaneous “party at my house tonight.” Our suggestions: A pink flamingo on the front lawn, a garden gnome in the driveway, or the universally understood balloon tied to the mailbox.

Use your holiday lights to make your summer more festive

5. Use your holiday lights to make your summer more festive 

Sometimes the simplest things have the biggest impact. In the spirit of this truism, we remind you to invest in a few strings of holiday lights. Run them around tree trunks and into the branches, around the legs of picnic tables, and pretty much anywhere they won’t get stepped on. It’s remarkable how much good cheer can be cultivated by this one simple act.

Get your kids to do all the work without even realizing it

6. Get your kids to do all the work without even realizing it 

Leave the canned whipped cream in the pantry, and instead pick up a few pints of fresh whipping cream and a half-dozen or so mason jars. Fill each jar with about a cup of cream, a tablespoon of sweetener (bonus points: Use maple syrup), and a dash of nutmeg. Gather the kids around, give them each a jar (be sure the lids are tight!), and count them down, with instructions to start shaking on “0”. The first one to achieve whipped cream gets the first taste–unless you claim it. Because you are the parent, after all.

Serve a party-sized burger

7. Serve a party-sized burger 

Sliders are so 2018; instead, create a massive hunk-a-chunk of grilled perfection by forming three pounds of ground beef into a party-sized patty, slathering it with your favorite toppings, and serving it inside a hollowed out loaf of your favorite locally baked bread. Slice into almost-reasonable sized portions, and serve with lots of napkins. Lots and lots of napkins.

Transform squeezable bottles into custom drink makers

8. Transform squeezable bottles into custom drink makers 

Whether you’re serving alcohol or not, create a custom drink-mixing station by setting out squeeze bottles full of simple syrups. Your guests will love cooking up their own personal potions, though laminating a couple of your favorite recipes and setting them out with the mixin’s is a thoughtful touch.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Fall Gardening Hacks

Gardening Tips For the Fall

Leave a Comment

Follow these tips in your garden this fall
Gardening tips for fall
CC flickr photo by mjmonty

In the fall, after harvest, most gardeners are content to close up shop and consider the gardening season over with. Besides growing extra crops, which is possible in the fall (including many lettuces, cabbages, potatoes, and so forth), the fall also offers the conscientious gardener an opportunity to prepare for the next season and get a jump-start on garden maintenance.


Obviously, your garden will need to be “picked clean” so you can prepare it for next year. This means pulling all plants that are no longer productive and removing any fruits and vegetables that may have been left behind.


Thoroughly cleaning the beds of debris and leftovers has several advantages. First, it clears them for easy cover crop planting (see below). Next, it removes any vegetable matter that could be potentially carrying disease that can over-winter in the organic matter until spring. Third, it goes a long way towards aesthetics and gives you a chance to look closely at your soil after the season is done.

Fall Composting

Obviously, everything organic you pull from your soil and garden beds should be composted. (The only exception is diseased plants or weeds with seeds that could survive and come back to haunt you in the spring.) Compost is gardener’s gold and the more you have, the better off you are. Many gardeners who are not planting cover crops (and even some who are) like to till compost that is almost finished decaying into the soil so it can complete its nutrition release by spring. Another method is to add compost (without tilling) and add mulch on top.LEARN MORE:  Bells Jars in the Garden

Leave Seeds for Birds

Any seeds you’re not going to use should be thrown to the birds. If you aren’t planting cover crops, seeds on the bare soil or mulch can encourage birds to spend time there. Their leavings will enhance your garden, even if only a little. Any is better than none.

Garden Notes

Be sure to complete your gardener’s notes for the season and to fill in what you did during the fall. Your notebook is your record of what was planted where, how it did, and what you did or didn’t do that might improve it next time. It also gives you something to do to keep your green thumb active during the winter months. Here’s a really great gardening journal.

Minimize Pests

Crop rotation, cover crops (see below), and amendments (see below) can all help treat current and future pest infestations. Some pests are only abundant in the fall, such as late-appearing grasshoppers or the caterpillars of spring butterflies that fatten up before winter. If these are a problem for your area, there are many options for fall treatments.

Fall Cover Crops

Likely the most overlooked option for fall gardening, cover crops (or cool weather crops) can greatly enhance your garden’s health and vitality. Several options are available, depending on your climate zone, and crops can be tuned to do anything from providing extra organic matter in the spring to adding nitrogen to your soil.

Soil Amendments

As mentioned above in composting, soil amendments in the fall are a great way to enhance your soil’s health before spring planting comes around. Check your local garden center for available options. Many amendments are specifically meant for fall addition and are best added when no food crops are present. Lime is a good example of this.LEARN MORE:  Growing Edible and Cut Flowers in The Home Garden

Fall Planter Maintenance

If you have window or porch planters, now is the time to clean them out and prepare them for storage. Leaving the soil in them over the winter, exposed, is generally a bad idea and the soil in containers should be replaced (or heavily amended) annually anyway. Often the best solution is to add the soil to your winter compost heap.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Amazing Cleaning Hacks

Make your sink fixtures gleam with wax paper.

Though they’re the place where we clean dishes and silverware, sinks are among the dirtiest places in the home. In fact, a 2017 study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology reveals that many sinks—even those in hospitals—are crawling with drug-resistant bacteria. Not to mention that the constant wear-and-tear we put on our sinks often means they look less-than-clean, even after they’ve been disinfected.

So, what’s the solution? After sanitizing your sink with an antibacterial cleanser, polish your faucets and tap handles with some wax paper. Not only will this help remove water spots, but the wax will also help prevent future stain

Clean your vents with Turtle Wax.

Though they often go ignored during the cleaning process, your vents accumulate a surprising amount of dust and debris, especially during the summer and winter when they’re most in use. But all you need to get them looking good as new is a little bit of Turtle Wax.

According to Stephanie Dulgarian, the blogger behind Somewhat Simple, this wax “works great and makes the vents easy to clean because the dust just wipes right off.”

Clean your blender with soap.

Cleaning a blender is a perilous activity at best. The tedious task essentially involves sticking your hand into a bowl full of knives and hoping for the best every time you try to remove the remnants of that kale smoothie from your blades.

But it’s actually easy to remove that stuck-on gunk by pouring some warm water, a little baking soda, and a little dish soap in your blender and pulsing it for a few seconds. Afterward, just give it a good rinse or pop it in the dishwasher to get it looking like brand new once again. And when you want to make your home spotless from the ground up

Clean your TV screen with a dry cloth.

Never, ever spray chemicals like Windex or even water directly onto your sensitive TV screen. Instead, “gently wipe the screen with a dry cloth to remove dust and other debris, but don’t press too hard,” suggests John Walsh, a photographer with Consumer Reports who cleans 250-plus televisions a year. For those tougher stains, you can use a slightly dampened cloth—but again, do not apply water directly to the screen lest you want to damage the television.

Never overload your dishwasher.

Nobody wants to load and unload two rounds of dishes in the dishwasher when they could just shove all of their dirty plates and silverware into one. However, cramming everything into one load will result in dirtier dishes in the long run. That’s according to a 2015 study published in the Chemical Engineering Journal, which found that overloaded dishwashers resulted in less effective cleanings. Better to save yourself the frustration of unloading unclean dishes and do things right the first time.

Use cleaning wipes the right way.

Cleaning wipes are both cost-effective and time-saving, but only when used properly. So what is the right way to use a cleaning wipe? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should let a disinfected surface remain wet for approximately 3 to 5 minutes before patting it dry in order to ensure the proper removal of germs. And though it’s convenient to use a single wipe all over the house, you should only use one wipe per surface so as to avoid cross-contamination

Remove carpet stains with vinegar and a steam iron.

Carpet stains are all too common, especially in households with lots of little ones. Luckily, all you need is some vinegar, some water, and a steam iron in order to eliminate any unsightly spots. Just mix vinegar and water in a 1:3 ratio, apply it to the stain, and then cover the stain with a wet cloth before steaming it for 30 seconds or so. This should have your carpet looking good as new in mere minutes

And clean up your keyboard with a toothbrush and some vinegar.

You’d be amazed by how much bacteria lives on your computer keyboard. One 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health tested various keyboards both before and after cleaning them and found that prior to the disinfecting process, they contained strains of everything from Bacillus (which can cause a host of diseases) to Staphylococcus aureus (which can cause an upper respiratory tract infection).

Though adding your keyboard to your list of things to clean might be the last thing you want to do, the good news is that it’s relatively easy to cross this task off your to-do list. All you have to do is dip a toothbrush in a half vinegar/half water solution and scrub-a-dub-dub both on and between those keyboard keys to eliminate any germs.

Suck your baby’s pacifier clean.

Your baby’s pacifier is going to need cleaning every now and again. However, if your preferred pacifier cleaning method is with soap and water, you might want to rethink your process. One 2018 study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting interviewed 128 mothers over the course of 18 months and found that the children of mothers who cleaned pacifiers via their own saliva (as compared to hand-washing them and sterilizing them) had lower IgE levels, which are linked to allergic responses. “We believe the effect may be due to the transfer of health-promoting microbes from the parent’s mouth,” study author and allergist Edward Zoratti explained in a press release.

Protect your pillows with pillow protectors.

The bad news: Your pillows are teeming with everything from bacteria to dead skin to dust mites. The good news: Keeping them clean isn’t that hard. In addition to washing your pillowcases once a week and washing the pillows themselves on a monthly basis, buying antimicrobial zippered pillow protectors can help keep your bed free of any unwanted microscopic guests

Thank you for reading 🙂