..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Friday, May 11, 2007

Elaine's Summer Pie

Elaine's Summer Pie

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 can (12 oz) Frozen Pink Lemonade
1 container (13 ½ oz) Cool Whip
1 Graham Cracker Pie Shell

Fold Cool Whip into the mixed liquids. Don’t stir too fast. Pour into pie shell and chill for 1 hour.

Sharon's Broccoli Salad

Sharon’s Broccoli Salad

1 cup Mayonnaise
¼ cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Broccoli florets
1 diced Purple Onion
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Fry bacon and drain. Let bacon strips drain on paper towels and then crumble. Mix mayonnaise, sugar and red wine vinegar together for dressing. Put broccoli, purple onion, raisins and cheese in salad bowl and toss with dressing. Don’t add bacon until your ready to serve so the bacon bits won’t get soggy. It is alright to allow the salad to marinade in dressing overnight so it can be made a day ahead of time and used for leftovers. Keep refrigerated. Put 3 cranberries in center for garnish. Looks like a heart.

Sharon's Tangy Cheeseball

Sharon’s Tangy Cheeseball

2 (8 oz) packages of softened Cream Cheese
1 ½ cups (6 oz) shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 small minced Onions
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 ½ tsp minced Garlic
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 cup chopped Pecans
Fresh Parsley

Combine all ingredients except pecans and parsley. In a pinch, you can substitute garlic powder for garlic and onion powder for onions. Mix well. Chill 1 hour. Shape into a ball. Roll in pecans and garnish with fresh parsley. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers.
Cayenne Cheese ball (1 lb. sharp cheddar, 1 8-oz. pkg. softened cream cheese, a bit of crushed garlic & finely minced onion, Worcestershire sauce, Louisiana hot sauce--mix well, form into a ball & chill--then roll in a mix of cayenne pepper & paprika.)
Note: For a spread, use less Cheddar cheese.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Drunken Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

1 (4-5 lb) whole chicken
Sprinkle with any seasonings that you think would be good. I usually use poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and maybe some Mrs Dash or other spice mix.
1 tall can beer

Wash chicken inside and out well. Pat dry. Pat the seasonings on the outside of chicken and sprinkle some on the inside. Pour about an ounce of beer out and put 1 Tbsp of the seasoning mix in the beer can. Set beer can in a roasting pan. Place chicken over the can bottom side down. The can will be inside the chicken. The chicken is precariously perched on the can of beer so be careful as you get it in and out of the oven so that it doesn’t tip over. Bake at 325F for 2-2 ½ hours. Aka Drunken Chicken.

Note: You can buy the rack to put the beer can in (and you only use the small can of beer) and then place the chicken over the can in the rack. This makes it much safer because the chicken won’t tip over. I got my rack at Walmart for about $5. I tried pouring out the beer and using just water but it didn’t have the same moist result so the alcohol must have something to do with it.

Note: This makes a mess of your oven but it's worth it! Go ahead and do two while you are at it so you won't have to clean the oven twice. If your husband is a griller, then let him make it on the grill. It will save you cleaning the oven.

Note: You can freeze leftovers. Or use the leftover chicken for homemade chicken noodle soup the next night or make chicken salad for lunch the next day.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spring Cleaning, Part VI

Spring Cleaning your Living Room

Fireplace or Woodstoves

The fireplace should be the first thing you clean. If you use it for wood fires, you know how ashes tend to go everywhere.

Sweep out, being sure to get into the crevices. Take all ashes out carefully and take outside. Set the grate outside and scrape. Clean glass doors inside and out, being sure to get the edges. If you want to clean the brick lining the fireplace, I would suggest using dish washing machine detergent. Be sure to wear gloves and use disposable rags. Check to see that all working parts are in good operation. Decide if a chimney sweep is in order. For a nominal fee they will inspect your chimney and your fireplace to ensure their safety. I would suggest doing this every other year if you use your fireplace regularly. Vacuum down the stonework and brick. If your bricks have developed a white powdery substance on them, this can be removed with a solution of muriatic acid and water. Please note that this is a dangerous chemical. The directions for its use must be followed exactly. Close your vent or damper.


Take down curtains and wash or take to the cleaners. Wash the windows inside. Be sure to wipe all window sills and facings and moldings.


Remove all accessories from the room, including table lamps. Put them in the kitchen. Wash everything thoroughly. Brush or vacuum your lamp shades and silk flowers. Silk flowers can also be swished in a basin of water and set on towels to dry. A toothbrush can be used to get into small crevices of statuary, etc. Leave the accessories drying in the kitchen until the living area is completed.


Polish, being sure to get all the crevices. Clean the keys with the recommended cleaner for your instrument. Don't forget the foot pedals. Stool: Empty out, wipe clean, and polish. Sort through your music. If you have entire books that you only play a few songs from, why not remove the songs or make copies of them and sell the book? The separate pieces of music can be kept in a binder sorted by category.

Coffee and end tables

The tops of these items should be clutter free now. If your tables have drawers or shelves, remove everything and sort through. Reline the drawers if necessary. Clean and polish your tables. Be sure to tip them over and get the cobwebs that grow under and between the legs.

Upholstered furniture

Remove all loose cushions, slip covers, pillows. Run the pillows through the no-heat setting on your dryer to fluff and remove dust. When they are done, spray with Febreze. If you can, take your loose cushions outside to air. (Hint: Try to make rotating your cushions part of your weekly routine.) If you use slipcovers on your furniture, check them for spots. Do they need cleaning? If so, either launder them or set them aside to be taken to the cleaners. If you change your slip covers seasonally, pull the seasonal covers out. Make sure they are clean and fresh. If it's not time to change them, store them in a place you will be able to access easily. Now it's time to vacuum all the upholstered pieces. Be sure, once again, to get those crevices. If your furniture has wooden parts, clean and polish the wood. Now tip all your furniture over on it's side. Vacuum the pieces underneath and then vacuum the flooring beneath their places. Tip the furniture back up.

Leather furniture

Wipe down with leather cleaner and then refurbish with leather oil. Pound and vacuum all surfaces. Clean and polish any wooden surfaces.

Bookcases, cabinets, and other storage pieces

Empty them completely. Sort through the contents, using the decision process. Organize the items. Clean and polish being, sure to get underneath and the backs.

Hints: If you have trouble cleaning the back of let's say a hutch, wrap a cloth around the end of a yard stick and swish back there.

Be sure to get the tops of the cabinets too. As you go through your books, make some strong decluttering decisions about keeping them. Paperbacks can be passed along after you've read them unless there's something special. Magazines, pamphlets, and all the additional clutter we tend to stick in our bookcases can be tossed. You can keep a few up-to-date magazines for the guest room.

The rest of the living room

Polish mirrors and clean the frames.

Clean photographs and frames.

Clean fireplace mantles.

Dust your television very carefully. Use a brush if you need to clean little crevices in the back of the television. Be sure to pull the dust out, not push it in. Polish your TV screen.

Clean your stereo system. Remove the backs from your speakers and vacuum inside.

Wipe down any floor lamps. Dust all lamp bulbs. Check all electrical cords in the room for fraying.

Finishing up

Scrape your fireplace grate and replace in fireplace.

Bring your cushions back in and place on your furniture.

Set out your pillows.
Put your clean curtains back up.

Back to the kitchen. Let's sort through all your accessories. Keep in mind that less is more. Replace the accessories you truly love in your living area. Put the rest in a "dispose of" box.

Replace silk flowers in their containers and replace in living area.

Hint: Most beautifully decorated rooms have only one or two focal points in them. By creating an absence of clutter, your favorite pieces can be focused on. Go sit in your living area. How does it feel to you? If you notice something that the room is lacking, write it down in your notebook.

Spring Cleaning, Part V

Spring Cleaning Kitchen

Go into your kitchen with a pen and paper. It's time to be honest and really look at things. We're not focusing on decorating now -- just cleaning and making sure that what we have is functional.
Make a list of cleaning products you will need that you do not have on hand: Window cleaner, general-purpose cleaner (Mean Green), fiberglass cleaner, floor wax, floor wax stripper, metal polish, CLR, or other heavy-duty cleaner, Murphy's Oil Soap for wooden cabinets, bleach, etc.?

Check the grout around your tile if you have tile. Is it in need of repair? If so, do you have caulking on hand?

Is your sink functioning properly? Do you need a new sink nozzle? Should the faucet be replaced? Will you need to replace any water filters?

Cabinet shelves need relining?

Door hinges on all doors and cabinets operating properly? Blinds working okay?

Go through your linens. What needs to be tossed or replaced? Are your potholders in good shape? Do you have too many? Are yours stained, etc.? Throw away, buy new, wash, etc.

Are your window latches working? Screen okay?

Really focus on what needs to be done. Maybe a wall needs patching or a light switch needs replacing, a light fixed?

Most importantly, be sure you have plenty of your favorite beverage and your favorite music available for cleaning day. You will need very comfortable clothing too.

We are going to make our kitchens immaculate. It will be an all-week affair, so try to prepare easy meals in advance, or if you can do take-out -- do it!

Now take your lists and write up one for shopping and one for doing.

You will need a stepstool or stepladder too. Remember you will go from top to bottom...

Cooking (especially frying) Puts a greasy film in the air. It’s best to use your stove vent and keep the kitchen door closed to keep it from traveling into your other rooms. This greasy film leaves a residue on all surfaces including curtains, cabinets, appliances, kitchen decorative items. This means you need to clean the kitchen thoroughly more often than once a year. I usually do it 3 times a year or more.

1. Washables
Gather curtains, rugs, table linens -- all fabric washables -- and start doing laundry.

2. Windows
Clean windows inside and out. Use a degreaser type cleanser for the window sill, window molding. Rinse thoroughly. If you wash down your kitchen regularly then just a little bit of degreaser in a lot of warm water is sufficient. You DON'T want to leave the degreaser residue on the surface because it will attract dirt. Use window cleaner for the glass. Use paper towels and change your paper towel regularly so as no to smear the greasy buildup from one window pane onto the next.

3. Ceiling Fixtures
You'll need your step ladder or stool now. Clean any ceiling fixtures -- lamps and ceiling fans. I get dear husband to take whatever needs to be take down and then I wash it in the sink with dish detergent and dry it and hand it back up to him to put back.

4. Cabinet Tops
Remove any items stored there and put on counter to be cleaned in the next step. You might want to use a vacuum first and then wash. You can leave old beach towels, cut to the width of your cabinets, laid across the top of them. They are invisible if you're under 7 feet tall, and all you have to do is pull them off and throw them in the wash when you're ready to clean. I know of others that use brown paper or extra gift wrap to do the same thing. The point is to reduce the amount of cleaning. While you're up in the air, use degreaser mixed in water and sponge to wash down your walls. I always use latex semi gloss or gloss paint so that wiping walls is easy. I never use flat paint because dirt, grime and grease are attracted to it’s matte surface and is hard to get rid of. Also remember to change your wash water regularly so you aren’t just smearing dirty water on your walls. If you do this regularly then a tad of degreaser is enough. But if you only do it once a year, you may need more and then you will have to rinse.

5. Kitchen Decorative Items
Wash the items that you removed from the cabinet tops, kitchen shelves, stuff hung on the walls, etc. and replace them. Before you do, though, really look at the item... do you use it? Do you need it? Or do you like it? If not, get rid of it. If you do this with each and every item you touch while cleaning your kitchen, you might be able to find a lot more space when you are through. Sharon…wash any decorative kitchen items in dish detergent, spritz degreaser on silk flowers and rinse and let drip dry (or replace with new, I replace with new on regular basis), do the same for baskets.

6. Refrigerator and Freezer
Let's look inside. Take everything out of your freezer and refrigerator and put the items in coolers with frozen gel packs. Throw out stuff that is freezer burned, too old, combine stuff like 3 bottles of catsup, throw away stuff you aren’t going to use after all, etc. After you finish cleaning it out, wipe it out with an antibacterial cleaner. Then you are ready to put stuff back in, which is a good time to organize and sort. Remove all drawers and clean them with antibacterial dish detergent. Have husband pull the refrigerator out and clean the coils, if exposed. Have husband pull out the self-defrosting drip pan and scrub thoroughly. Also, if your unit has vents, vacuum them out and clean the cover. Get husband to check the tube to the ice machine to make sure it isn’t clogged up and is on tight. If this ever gets lose or breaks the water seepage can ruin a kitchen floor. Now wipe down the entire exterior and I use a little degreaser when I do this. Remove all magnets, etc., and wash. Polish any chrome or stainless steel. Before pushing the refrigerator back into place, clean the floor underneath and replace the filter unit and put down a new bug house. OK, replace the shelves or bins. Time for the old toothbrush: clean the rubber seal going around the door. Work on the hinges too! If you have to defrost your freezer, it can be started now. I loved having my Rainbow vacuum cleaner to do this with. I turned off the freezer and opened the doors. I let it sit about 30 minutes and then used the Rainbow vacuum cleaner to suck out the water that accumulates from thawing in the bottom of the freezer. You want to keep the water mopped up off the floor so you don’t damage your floor with water seepage. I would literally use the metal pipe on the vacuum hose to chip it off the coils and suck up the ice chips as they came loose. After all the ice is thawed, then wipe down the entire interior with antibacterial kitchen cleanser. If yours is a self-defrosting unit, then clean it out; again, be sure to clean the seals.

7. Walls
Next, is your choice... you can wash down your walls, wood work, and doors now while your ladder is out, or you can do it at the very end of the kitchen cleaning. For wood, use water with a little Murphy’s Oil Soap. Be sure to replace your bucket water regularly so you aren’t smearing dirty, greasy water on your cabinets. You want to keep the cleaning water clean. For painted surfaces use a little degreaser in water. If you don't do this regularly then you made need more degreaser and will have to rinse. DON'T leave the degreaser on your cabinets as it will attract dirt and grime. Rinse thoroughly. Remember, cooking creates a greasy smoke that settles on all surfaces. If you have a door in your kitchen then close it when frying so that it contains the greasy smoke in one room. Always use your stove vent while frying too. Have the best stove vent you can afford so that it reduces greasy smoke.

8. The Stove

Stove tops first. Remove all knobs, drip pans, etc. Give them all a good scrubbing. If you line your drip pans with foil or use inserts, replace them now. Open up your stove top and scrub underneath. When this area is clean, put the stove top back down and replace knobs and liners. Clean stove top. With a flat glass stove top you don’t have to do any of this. I recommend a black glass top and not a white one as white shows everything. To clean your glass stove top, you can use a straight razor to remove any burned on stuff that is raised up a little on the stovetop. Then use a ceramic stove top cleaner you can get at Lowe’s or Walmart. This removes any burned on residue and polishes the top too. I don’t recommend using steel wool pads because it can scratch the surface and those scratches collect stains. Clean the area behind the knobs before replacing them. Wash exterior of stove. If you have a drawer in the bottom of your stove, empty it out and scrub it clean. Be sure all items you replace are clean too. Be sure to really look at the stove. It may have ridges, little seams, etc., that require cleaning. A stove gets greasy easily and makes it harder to clean. I use Mean Green on my stove as a degreaser. But it also leaves a residue that dulls the stove. So only use a little degreaser in water. Then, using fresh sponge, wipe down with clear water to remove the last of the degreaser residue. Rinse, rinse, rinse.

9. The Oven
Notes: I made the mistake of leaving my oven racks in the oven while running the self-clean feature, and they were left with a dull finish and would not slide in and out easily. I called the stove manufacturers, who had in their instructions said to leave the racks in; they told me to simply rub waxed paper on the rack edges and they would slide easily. It worked. I'm still not happy with the dull finish, but I'm not unhappy enough to go out and buy new racks. My advice to anyone with a self-cleaning stove would be to remove the racks before cleaning.
Fortunately I have a self-cleaning oven. I will run it this evening, as it builds up heat in the kitchen and I don't want to work in an overheated room. For those with continuous clean ovens, wipe yours out. For those of you who need to use oven cleaner, use your favorite spray cleaner and let it soak while you continue working on the kitchen. You will want your oven clean before you clean your floor. Be sure to lay newspaper on the floor under the oven to catch drips of oven cleaner. This can stain your kitchen floor so protect it with newspapers. Follow the directions on the oven cleaner can. A drawer is the perfect place to store baking pans. They are out of the way, and I know where they are when I need them. My biggest complaint about baking pans is the various sizes and shapes make storage difficult. Under the stove works perfectly.

10. Microwaves
Put some water in a dish and microwave for 2 mins. The water vapor loosens up any stuff that is sort of baked on… Clean interior with a little baking soda and water paste. I wipe mine out with antibacterial kitchen cleaner. Be sure to clean glass door and get all the little corners and the top of the interior. Clean the exterior. A tip that will keep your microwave cleaner longer is to set your dish in and cover with a microwave cover or a paper towel. This keeps your food from splattering and keeps it clean a lot longer.

11. Over-the-Stove Exhaust Fans
Remove and clean filters. I run mine through the dishwasher or spritz with Mean Green and let sit before rinsing in hot water. Scrub the interior and exterior. Clean around the switches. A degreasing cleaner would probably work best for this unit.

12. Dishwasher
Remove racks from the dishwasher. Scrub out with baking soda. Be sure to clean the soap dispenser. Water and a toothbrush should work here. Clean the racks before replacing, including the silverware carrier. Clean exterior of the dishwasher, paying close attention to the knobs and the little groove around the front panel. Be sure to clean the area around the inside of the door and the rubber seal. Get husband to check out the rubber seal because a leak would ruin your kitchen floor.

13. Inside The Cabinets.
Now, you must readjust your perception and think of your kitchen as a laboratory, not the warm cozy room it is. If you were a scientist, how would you organize your equipment? Most of us already know to have the items we use most often in the easiest-to-reach locations. But now is the time to make some tough decisions.

* Cleaning
First and foremost, each cabinet will have to eventually be completely emptied and washed out and relined if necessary. Washing out the cabinet includes all the interior walls as well as the shelves. As each cabinet is re-filled, it will be time to clean the exterior of that cabinet. That way you are handling each cabinet only once.

* Organization
We all use different tools in our kitchen, so I can't give you a plan on how to lay out your items. I can give you some hints, though.

Dishes: Use a horizontal rack that stores your plates on their side. It takes up 18" of space and holds a service for 8. Another rack, vertical this time, holds your serving bowls and bread plates. Use cup hooks and store your coffee and tea cups on them over the plates, bread plates, saucers. This is 2 tiered. Mugs & Glasses: How many coffee cups do you really need? My dear husband is always coming home with coffee mugs covered with advertising. I really don't want to drink my morning coffee from a mug that advertises engine oil. The mug immediately goes into the garage where it will be used to store paint brushes, rulers, etc. -- his mug, his tool cabinet. Or take to charity or throw in a "Yard Sale" box. Only keep a certain amount of pretty mugs in the kitchen. The same with glasses. I know that those of you with small children perhaps need a lot more glasses, so each person has to consider her own situation. I keep a set of 12 matching glasses and that is all.

Plastic storage containers: Over the years I have just the Tupperware and Rubbermaid that I use and I regularly reassess my needs in this area. I use a lot for storage in my cabinets for flour, sugar, cornstarch, popcorn, etc. The bowls are stacked according to size. The storage containers for taking food for lunches or putting in fridge are stored there too. I have 2 sizes square baskets and I set them on their sides. One is for big Tupperware lids and the smaller is for the med lids. Tiny lids are stored in a bowl.

Pots and pans: Well, I keep things to a minimum. One complete set of 18/10 stainless steel cooking pots with encapsulated bottoms. Nothing extra, but a couple of good Griswold, seasoned frying pans for frying in oil. I keep several sizes of corningware and/or pyrex. But just what I need on a regular basis. I got rid of all the rest a long time ago. There is no use keeping stuff for “one day” uses. You could buy a throwaway casserole for those times you need real big ones for church casseroles.

Appliances: You could put the waffle iron in the garage, if you only use it a few times a year, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag and taped shut. Only keep what you absolutely need in your kitchen. That big fruit punch bowl that gets used once a year really doesn't need to eat up your kitchen space. If you have the room, set up an area in your cabinets for an appliance bay. Where all appliances are located. Your husband might be able to put drawers in these cabinets or a pull up shelf and run you a new outlet so that you don't have to physically move the heaviest appliances from the cabinet to the countertop.

Utensils: Again, the soup ladle used when you serve 20 people chili doesn't have to be in your drawer, unless you happen to do this on a weekly basis. I'd store it with the grilling equipment (in the garage). 5 rubber spatulas -- hmmm... and 3 of them are torn? That one's not hard to call! Oyster knives, shrimp peelers, etc., can all be stored in one plastic shoebox and tucked away in a cabinet or pantry shelf, rather than using up drawer space. Or, better yet, get rid of it! I keep 2 utensil containers on my cabinet top and they are only for the utensils I use daily. The rest are in a drawer. I only keep those that I need and use. All others are gone.

Spices: Here we go -- total disaster area. One of the best way to store spices is in small, square plastic containers. Label them and they stack neatly. If you only use about 8 spices regularly but, Christmastime requires special spices that I don't use again for the rest of the year, then give them to a neighbor who uses them throughout the year. I don't want to cook with old spices. I also arrange mine alphabetically so that I don’t miss something and buy duplicates. Use a medium-sized plastic square container for storing bay leaves and other bulky items. Even transfer salt to a square container so it will stack with the rest of my supplies. Your spices now take up only part of what they did before! I know that a lot of people like spice racks, but I found myself putting some spices in the racks and then having to store the rest of the container in a cabinet. If you do use spice racks then keep them updated and clean. Arrange them alphabetically.

Table Linens: You can hand your table linens from the back of the pantry door by using a clip-style skirt hanger. Place mats get hung together as well as table toppers. Or use a deep drawer in your cabinets. If you have a round table, how about putting a round base tablecloth on your table and then keep 45" fabric squares over it to provide color. I only need to wash the white cloth every few weeks as it is never exposed to food. Throw a plastic cloth over it when kids use the table. By hanging the table toppers (which require ironing), you save yourself a lot of work. If you don't have a pantry door, how about your coat closet? Or a Lane cedar chest

The Catch-All Drawer:
Almost all of us have one. I suggest it be gone through on a weekly basis. Use drawer dividers to help you organize this space better.

14. OK, it's time to do the outside of the cabinets.
I know you have all thought out where everything should go and that you will really look at each item and make a decision on it. Not only will you really look at it, in the case of small appliances you will look at it, make a decision regarding it, and clean it before putting it back. I clean my wood kitchen cabinets with Murphy’s Oil soap and water. I use Mean Green over the stove to be sure and get all the greasy film off the cabinets there. Then I rinse and wash with the Murphy’s Oil Soap and water. Change your cleaning water regularly so you won’t be just smearing dirty water on your cabinets. Wash all surfaces not just the cabinet doors. If you have knobs that are gunky, use a toothbrush on them.

15. Table and Chairs
Let's pull our chairs away from the table and remove all table coverings. Get down on the floor and clean under the table. Make sure the leaf hinges are working properly. Make sure there are no dust ladders collecting. Then, take each chair and turn it upside down to clean underneath. Get those chair rails -- clean the chairs completely! If you need new pads on the bottom of your chairs, now is the time to replace them. Get husband to work on it. These pads keep your floors in good shape. Check for seams, grooves, etc. and make sure they haven't collected kitchen grease.

16. Walls
Do your walls need washing? I wash my kitchen walls with a little Mean Green and water, changing the water regularly. Just use a little bit of Mean Green. Then wipe down with rinse water. Wash all surfaces around windows, doors, wall over the cabinet and between the cabinet, the pantry, etc.

17. Sink
Scrub, scrub, scrub. Get the drain plugs, get the faucet, get BEHIND the faucet, pour hot water and vinegar down the garbage disposal. If you have a lemon on hand, cut it in fourths and run it through the disposal. On my white sink, I use Tide with Bleach to scrub the sink then rinse. For bad times, I fill the sink with water and pour some Clorox on it and let it sit awhile. If you have a stainless steel sink Barkeepers Friend (tm) does a wonderful polishing job. Check your faucet nozzle and be sure it is clear of hard water deposits. It can be soaked in vinegar. Nozzles can be replaced for under a dollar if yours is nasty looking. Sometimes it turns green just replace it. If you use a dish rack scrub it thoroughly. No evidence of dishes any place.

18. Floors
We are down to the floors. Follow the same procedure as the bathroom.

19. Finishing Touches
Rehang those curtains! Put a fresh cloth on the table and a nice centerpiece, maybe even light a candle. Be sure all your decorative items are washed, dried and put back. Clean any pictures. Your kitchen should be gleaming! Order dinner out again -- you deserve it -- and you deserve at least one day of sparkle!

Cleaning Windows
*Use liquid Woolite. One capful to about half a bucket of warm water...use a washcloth or similar type rag to wash the window and dry with paper towels (leave the rag fairly wet and sudsy) you can also use lemon joy dish soap if you are saving pennies.

*Use windshield washing fluid works great and its cheap

*Try one of the auto window products, e.g., Rain Shield, Auto Clean, etc. Follow directions on product. Dirt build-up will roll right off with a spray of water and a quick squeegee.

*Use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and dry them off with crumpled up newspaper.

*Basic window cleaning: Ingredients: 2 quarts warm water 1/2 cup cornstarch

Mix together. Apply with a sponge and wipe dry. Use Microfiber cloths for applying and drying. If you have white trim don't use the old newspaper trick to clean them as newspaper can smear ink on the trim.

*For dirty windows: Ingredients: 1 pint rubbing alcohol 2 Tbs. clear ammonia 2 Tbs. liquid dishwashing soap
Mix this small amount and use it only for difficult things like mineral deposits on the window. Use nylon scrubbing sponge to clean the window. Rinse it real well. Note: This is also fabulous for cleaning windshields on your car.

Price Book: You can buy a very small day planner at WalMart that uses 5.5"x8.5" sheets. Use Word or Excel to make a simple form. I print it out regularly to keep in binders. If you want to keep in the day planner print and fold a standard 8.5x11" sheet in half, punch holes in it, & stick it in the binder. You can also get several little zip-top binder pockets for the planner to keep your coupons in. Put in a calculator, pen, & notepad. You can also just type up the basic ingredients to your favorite recipes and keep that inside. That way, if you stumble across something on sale & decide to use it to make an old favorite, you won't have to stand in the middle of the store wondering if you've remembered all the correct ingredients to buy. I can make my list on the notepad, head in the store with my little planner, and know that I've got everything covered. A lot of women use electronic PDA's and you can keep your menu plan, grocery list in that.

Spring Cleaning, Part IV

Cleaning Dining Room
Before we start cleaning, let's take a good open look at the dining area. What we are looking for is clutter or anything which detracts from the appearance of a beautiful room. The only clutter allowed is that which falls into the "Faberge realm." If you happen to have 50 Faberge eggs, they can stay, but only if displayed in an organized way.

While we spring clean each room, our goal should be to look for ways to make our lives easier. We're searching for better ways to organize our possessions, and we're making decisions regarding each object we handle.

Part I
1. Windows
-Blinds -- take down and wash
-Shades -- remove, roll out, and clean
-Shutters, wash
-Remove screens and wash
-Wash window frames, moldings, sills, and latches
-Wash windows
-Be sure to clean curtain rods
-Drapes -- if only dusty, put into dryer on air for 10 minutes. If in need of cleaning, you will have to decide if it's a do-it-yourself project or if they need to go to the cleaner.

Get way down and look under the sill. Is there a crack there between the sill and the wall? If so, get out the old caulking gun and fill the space. Be real careful at the edges and you won't have to repaint or touch up the wall.

Isn't it nice to have all that light streaming in?

2. Vents
Time to remove ceiling, wall or floor vents and clean them and any ceiling fixtures. Vents can be put in dishwasher unless brass. Check for cobwebs. Vacuum the ceiling or wipe clean if required.

3. Table
Remove all the accessories in the room (but not those inside cabinets or hutches, that comes later). Take them to the kitchen and wash or clean them. Wash glass, polish silver, clean frames, clean centerpieces (silk flowers get dusty so they need to be simple where you can run them under the water sprayer in kitchen sink or they need to be replaced regularly), trim the candles, launder and iron table linens.

*Tip:* If you have the place, then roll your tableclothes on leftover gift wrap cardboard tubes. This way they won't have crease marks on them.

Now that your table is clear, clean and polish it. Be sure to get underneath. Check your table leaf latches: are they tight? Do they slide smoothly? Any cobwebs under there?

4. Chairs
Now, it's on to the chairs. Polish, vacuum, spot clean -- do whatever is necessary to make immaculate. If your chairs are on wheels, be sure the casters are clean and operating smoothly. This is a good time to recover those chair bottoms that you can recover. If you have hardwood floors make sure the chairs have plastic or felt pads on the bottoms to keep them from scarring the wood floor.

1. Hutches and Cabinets
Remove everything from inside these units. Everything! Clean the unit inside and out. Polish wood, vacuum, polish glass. If the unit has doors, clean the hinges. If the unit has a light fixture, clean that too, being sure the bulb is not dusty. If you can't reach behind the unit, wrap some cloth on a yard stick and swish up and down to remove any dust clinging to the unit's back. Clean underneath the unit. Have hubby pull out from the wall and use a swiffer swivel-headed mop with a large rag on it to clean the wall and baseboard behind the cabinet. Vacuum behind it and have dear husband push it back into place.

The following are some organizational hutch-hints I hope will be helpful to you:

Silverware: I sewed up flannel cases for each place setting of silver or, I bought silverware boxes with flannel linings at
yard sales. This prevents them from being scratched and it is so easy to grab the correct number of place settings when preparing a table. Don't sew? No problem. You can use old napkins or leftover fabric scraps. Just place your largest piece of silver on the cloth (about 18" square) on the diagonal, wrap till covered, then add your next piece. Continue wrapping until you have one place setting wrapped. Tie with a ribbon. No more searching for salad forks!

Dishes: if you have to store your formal dishes in stacks to fit into your cabinets then cut out circles of flannel with pinking shears to place between each dish. This prevents chipping and scratching. You can place each stack inside a plastic bag with the opening on the bottom of the stack. This prevents dust from getting on the dishes. Personally I like seeing my dishes so I don't put them in plastic bags. But this means that I have to wash them before using them for company. I try to use a different set of china each time I have company so it gets washed more than the once-a-year Spring Cleaning. I have seen quilted vinyl or fabric storage zip ups for china sets. I would love to have these for some of my sets. I have a lot of different sets of dishes and the ones that I have to store out of sight, Iuse these quilted vinyl zipups that I see in catalogues and at Linens & Things.

Linens: Formal napkins are white linen. You can cut two square pieces of foam board an inch larger than your napkins. Cover the foam board with fabric that coordinates with your dining room. Use fusible web to attach the cloth. Place the napkins flat on one of the squares -- with acid free tissue between each napkin and on the top and the bottom of the stacks to prevent the linen from coming into contact with the fabric-covered foam board -- and make a sandwich of foam board and napkins. Tie this together with ribbon and slip inside your cabinet. Do this with your formal napkins so they can be shaped into whatever form you need for any particular event. No creases! Personally, I just wash, iron with starch and store in my Lane cedar chest that I use for a buffet.

Now, look at the items you have removed from your hutch, china closet, buffet, cabinets. It's time for important decisions again. Ask yourself:
Do I like this?
Do I need this?
Do I use this?
Is this really worth keeping or would someone else enjoy it more?
If it's chipped, can it be used in a craft or gift project? Ex: Add your own candle in a piece of chipped crystal, a cracked tea cup used for a pin cushion with a fabric covered foamball glued in, etc.

Now wash or polish each item before it is replaced into the hutch.

Done? Be sure to get the top of the hutch, china cabinet, etc too! Some people store platters up on the tops. You know, things like the turkey platter, trays. Used maybe twice a year, but you can't be without one. If you can’t see them, then use plastic bags over them to keep the dust off. Remember it's spring cleaning, so go ahead and change its plastic bag, since it will be covered with house grime.

1. Walls
Personally I only use latex semi-gloss or latex gloss paint or wallpaper. Flat paint catches and holds dust and grime and it's hard to wipe down without it taking the paint off the walls. Check the walls. First check for cobwebs or dust ladders. Then check for fingerprints. Can your walls get away with just a brushing or vacuuming, or do they need to be washed? No cheating here. Be sure to clean the baseboards, doors, door frames, etc. Every surface needs to be cleaned. Be sure you keep your wash water clean. Once your wash water gets a little gray, then change it. Otherwise you are only smearing dirty water on your walls. For wood paneled walls I use Murphy's Oil Soap in water. For painted walls I use a LITTLE bit of cleaner like vinegar, a tad of Mean Green, general purpose cleaner and water. I use large sponges or a large rag wrapped around a swiffer swivel-headed mop. I get my husband to pull everything away from the walls and I clean the walls from the top down. Then he puts it all back. This is a good time to rearrange if you want to.

2. Floors
Lastly, the floors, Depending on your flooring, you will now mop, vacuum, steam clean carpets or whatever. Follow the procedure which matches your needs. If you have an area rug then it needs to be cleaned too. Depending on how expensive and how large the rug is you can take it outside and hose it down, spot clean and let it drip dry, or take it to the cleaners, or have it professionally done. Personally I wouldn't have an area rug because it's just harder to clean. If you have carpet then clean the carpets (either with a carpet cleaner or professionally).

3. Light Fixtures
When we first moved into our current house we had a nice crystal chandelier but it hadn't been cleaned in years. My dh started our married life as a Master Electrician so he was able to take it down. I laid a towel in the shower and he took it there. I used a very soft handled brush and dish detergent to gently clean it. You could also use cotton gloves to wash each crystal. Then I used the shower to rinse it. We let it drip dry and then he put it back up. Since then, I have bought a chandelier spray cleaner. I lay towels over my table to absorb drips and then I spray it down real well and use cotton socks on my hands to carefully wipe it down. It really doesn't take much time. Do this regularly and it doesn’t take 10 minutes.

4. Accessories
Be sure to wipe your pictures. I spray Windex on a lint free towel and wipe the glass. Don’t spray on the glass as the drips could reach the bottom of the picture and the matte or picture soaks it up and ruins. Then wipe the wooden frame with your dust clothe. Wash all accessories and dry. Polish the silver. Put everything back.

Now, wait for a quiet time in your home and light a candle and have a nice cup of coffee or tea and enjoy your work. Just think, every item in that room is clean. That was a tremendous accomplishment.

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