Must-Have Cleaning Supplies

When you want to clean your home, it is much easier when you have the right products.  Everyone has their store bought staples, and these are a few of mine.

Essential Dustbuster:  I do not know how anyone maintains a clean home on a daily basis without some variety of a Dustbuster, especially if you have kids or pets.  I own the Black & Decker 14.4V Dustbuster Vacuum.  It assists me when cleaning leaves from the floorboard of the car, hair on the bathroom floor, dust bunnies in the back of the closet, etc.  Who has time to mess with a big vacuum when you have something small to clean up?  Not me!

Multipurpose Powder:  I discovered Bar Keeper's Friend in high school when I tried to fix the marble counter in my parent's bathroom, which had fallen victim to a too hot curling iron.  That was a long time ago, and this product is still close to my heart.  It kept me from losing keys to the car back then and ensures my stove top stays shiny now.  It really is a multipurpose product.

Magical Sponge/Scrubber:   The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the Chuck Norris of cleaning products.  There is not much this product will not clean - do not taunt it.  Years ago it was said that it was toxic, but it was proven to be a rumor.  I scrub the shower walls, floor and faucet, while I am in shower.  Naked.  I feel like I should say "Towonda" ala Fried Green Tomatoes in my rebellion of using them in such close proximity to bare skin.  You probably won't find this product in any Whole Foods, but the owners of Whole Foods probably have less magical cleaning results. 

Carpet Spot Remover:  No clue what makes Folex Carpet Spot Remover so good, but it works.  I do not have carpet, but it does the trick on all the rugs in my house.  It also works on clothing, so have a field day with this stuff.  Spots will disappear without having to scrub your arm off.  I promise.

Multi-Use Wood Cleaner:  I started using Murphy Oil after noticing a bartender at my favorite watering hole wiping down their gorgeous wood bar with the stuff.  You can now clean wood and counter tops without the greasy residue left behind with other wood cleaning products.  The orange scent is a plus.   

Smell Good Floor Cleaners:  I do not mop.  That is not to say I do not support others who do.  I just do not have time for it nor do I like the idea of a bucket of reused soapy water being used to clean my floors.  I own a swiffer and it saves me time, and cleans just as well as traditional mopping.  I love the Febreze Lavender & Vanilla variety, only to prove how big a sucker I am for good smelling stuff.



Cleaning the Kitchen Workhorse

Of all the appliances in the home, the refrigerator is probably the hardest working. We stock it full, ignore expired items and leave smelly spills until they become one with the fridge (and not in a zen-like fashion).  Not only does a clean refrigerator keep food fresher, it extends the life of the appliance.  

Your best friend in this cleaning process will be baking soda.  It is best to avoid using scented dish soaps and sprays, as they can leave behind a scent that the food will adsorb.  The mix is created using 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every 1 quart of hot water.  

At this point, you can unplug the fridge if you have short nerves and your fridge beeps what seems to be obscenities every time it is kept open longer than 30 seconds.  Then remove all food, jars of condiments, drinks, etc.  Place anything likely to leak, such as defrosting meat or cartons of berries, on a rimmed plate.  

As you remove, throw out expired items or food past its prime.  If there is no expiration date, then my rule of thumb is to throw out anything you feel the need to smell for freshness prior to eating.   

Once everything has been cleared, remove all shelves and drawers for cleaning.  Using a sponge or cloth, wipe them clean using the baking soda mix.  For stubborn messes cover them with a warm wet cloth for a few minutes then use a nonabrasive scrubber or gently go over with a razor blade.  For crevices and cracks, try using a toothbrush with the same baking soda mixture used to get things clean.   Dry thoroughly with a cloth or paper towels before returning to refrigerator.

Make sure everything that goes into the fridge is immaculate; wipe off rims of jam jars, salad dressing bottles, and ketchup containers before storing them.  To keep things free of funk, try keeping an open jar of baking soda inside the fridge.  You can also place a small bowl with coffee grinds, activated charcoal or unscented chlorophyll cat litter inside until things are fresh and clean.

Before you are done, be sure to wipe the outside surfaces.  Windex and most household cleaners work for non stainless steel refrigerators, but I use a special mix for stainless steel varieties.  Just fill a spray bottle with diluted white vinegar.  The acetic acid in the vinegar cuts through the oil left behind by fingertips, rather than smearing it around like a lot of other cleaners. 


Spring Cleaning Week


Did you know that the last week of March is National Spring Cleaning Week?  While it is certainly not as popular as the St. Patrick's Day or Easter holidays it is sandwiched between this year, it is a great excuse to start the new spring season on a tidier note. 

Each day this week I will post tips and tricks on ways to clean the most commonly used spaces.  The first step is to get some good cleaning music - because we all know the right beat can certainly add power to your elbow grease.  Here is my spring cleaning mix, that will make discovering faded M&Ms and $2.13 in coins within the couch cushions a bit more enjoyable.



Luck of the Irish

Top o' the morning to ya!  Tomorrow is St. Patrick's day, which I consider the merriest of holidays.  I’m also part IrishSo to me it makes sense to celebrate and have a little fun with it.  Today they are hosting an all-day festival near my house, and I have decided to have a small party beforehand.  Of course, my specialty drink is a bit more tasty than anything involving green food coloring.

The Irish Maid is a distant cousin of the Kentucky Mule with the lime and whiskey, but has the simple syrup and mint influences from the traditional Mojito.  The cucumber and Irish whiskey in this drink add a more unique taste, without losing its appeal (hence the reason it will be the drink of choice).  On a side note, I am making my own simple syrup using Spenda instead of using a store bought version.  I am a big believer that if I am going to load up on sugar it should be from eating cake - not from drinking a beverage.

The menu includes Corned Beef Sliders with my own homemade coleslaw, Cheese & Guinness Fondue, and a large amount of sweets in a rainbow of colors (pot of gold not included). 

Enjoy your weekend....Cheers!



Spring Forward

It's that time of year again.  Our clocks have sprung forward, which means longer days.  While that also means this night owl loses an hour of sleep, it isn't like I really get enough to notice I'm missing out on anything.  

As I adjusted the time setting on the microwave, I started thinking about how I can't seem to find enough hours in the day as it is and there just went one more.  I also might have made a mental note to use my vanilla extract solution to get the appliance smelling sweet, but I digress.... 

By the time I finished changing the numerous clocks and smoke detector batteries for both my house and the house of a client, I realized that losing this one hour isn't so bad considering the numerous other hours utilized to make The Solution Girl a reality.  

Today I am springing forward and feeling fine...long days, more sunshine and a sense of accomplishment.  Which do you prefer - more daylight or more sleep?



Bourbon & Boots

So without giving away all the details, I am thrilled to tell you that I was asked to write a little something for the "Southern Stories" section of the Bourbon & Boots website.  You can read my story later this month, but until then you should definitely check out their site for other good reads and awesome products.

Now if you read the above and the only thing that comes to mind with the mention of Bourbon & Boots is (1) an awesome beverage choice and (2) spectacular footwear, then you have a pleasant surprise in store for you.  Basically, a bunch of southerns (and one yankee) located in my hometown are working to bring high-quality "small batch" creations from small business owners.  While most of the goods featured are created by those living south of the Mason-Dixon line, they do a good job of including artisans from "everywhere else" if the product is of quality craftsmanship. 

Reed Wilson Designs - "The Neighbors Have Better Stuff" Doormat:  While it may not be true, it certainly has evoked more than a few laughs from friends and family.  Side Note:  They are super thick and do an excellent job as a doormat. 

J&M Foods - Cheese Straws:  I have been eating these since I was a kid.  Whenever my parents had one of their parties, these were always out with the appetizers.  The company is based not far from where I grew up so you might think I am biased, but they beat out the competition hands down.   

Angel Court - Luster Earrings:  Oh so lovely.  Of course, that is no surprise when you are talking about anything by the lovely ladies at Angel Court.      

REWINED - Champagne Scented Soy Candle:  Everything about these candles is awesome - soy wax, cotton wick, recycled wine bottle,  and hand pressed label.  Did I mention they smell good, too?  The champagne is my favorite.  Even when it isn't lit, the scent is intoxicating (pun certainly intended).  The Pinot Nior is next on my list. 

Wondermade - Bourbon Marshmallows:  No surprise that a company with bourbon in the name has something with bourbon for purchase.  I am dying to try these.  Marshmallows are not my favorite sweet, but the bourbon certainly shouldn't hurt things.  


Get Color Coded

Color has the incredible ability to influence your memory, mood, perception, likes and dislikes.  This is why I use color as a tool to help my clients with organization or planning their next event. 

When it comes to closets, the reasoning is that it is easier to find something to wear when you know what you own and exactly where to find it.  This is especially helpful when your closets are the size of mine.  

In one of my unfortunately small closets I keep my tops and dresses.  Each color grouping has sleeveless, short sleeve, long sleeve and dresses, in that order.  So when I want to wear something, I know exactly where to look.  You should definitely try it.  You might even be able to do a little shopping with all the time you save not looking for your favorite shirt.

Sometimes color coordinating is more about giving your space a lift, instead of getting organized.  A perfect example of this would be books, though this is definitely not for everyone.

Having lost almost 1000 sq. ft in the move to Nashville, my books are now displayed throughout the house instead of in a large built-in bookcase.  Keeping things together based on author, title or subject matter is just not realistic anymore.  My solution was to make a visual statement by arranging them in color groups.  Add in a few found objects and mementos and you have a conversation piece.  

No need to sweat the fact that you may not remember Roy G. Biv from elementary school.  The point is to use color to shatter monotony, and instead showcase a space with playful personality.  There are no rules - create a rainbow of color that works for you.
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