This Thanksgiving, make sure your home is as warm and welcoming as the delicious feast you have prepared for your loved ones! We have scoured the Internet for the simplest yet most delightful ideas for making your home ready for the festive family gathering.
Thanksgiving Message Board
Cut out leaves from construction paper in fall colors, and have dinner guests write one thing they are thankful for on each leaf, then tack it to a cork or linen bulletin board. (Bonus points for framing the message board to make it more decorative.) Not only is this meaningful craft a nice breaker for extended family and other dinner guests, but it can also serve as a keepsake each year.
Use an assortment of pillar candles, foam pumpkins, beans, peas and lentils to make a gorgeous table display that honors the humble beginnings of the very first Thanksgiving. Follow this tutorial to wrap adhesive around your candles and pumpkins and then roll the objects in the assorted legumes for a centerpiece that is as pleasing to the touch as it is to the eye.
Love the look of the seeds and beans but don’t have the time or artistic ability to pull it off? Fear not- a beautiful glass hurricane vase filled with layers of dried peas, beans and corn in contrasting colors is a lovely and understated way to pay tribute to the bounty of the season. Tie with a piece of jute for a rustic touch.
Time to bust out those mini pumpkins and put them to good use at the dinner table! Attach a dinner guest’s name to each mini pumpkin with a pin, then place at the table. You can either hand-letter the little name cards, let one of your kids use their adorable handwriting to write the names, or print out the labels using your computer’s word-processing software. Not only will Aunt Shirley know where to sit, but the table will look adorable!
With their fresh citrus aroma, acidic properties and affordable price, lemons make the perfect natural cleaning product for your kitchen! Here are a few ways to incorporate lemon freshness into your cleaning routine.
Use lemon peels to make an organic kitchen cleaner. Start collecting peels from lemons, or any other citrus fruits, in a large mason jar. When there are enough peels to fill the jar at least halfway, pour vinegar in until the jar is full, cover with a lid, and set in a dark place for two weeks. When all is said and done, you’ll have an all-natural, effective cleanser that smells great!
Clean your microwave. Why bother with scrubbing when you’ve got lemons in your corner? Simply cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice from both halves into a small microwave-safe measuring cup of water, throw the rinds in there too, and microwave for 3 minutes on high power. Let stand for 5 minutes without opening the microwave door, then wipe clean, starting with the ceiling and sides. Voila!
Use lemon and salt to clean your wooden cutting boards. To get rid of grease and grime and freshen your wooden cutting surfaces, sprinkle them with coarse salt, then take half a lemon and scrub the surface, cut side down. Make sure to squeeze out lemon juice as you scrub. Let sit for 5 minutes then scrape all the nasty sludge off with a bench scraper (or other scraping tool, like a spatula), then rinse with a clean sponge. You’ll be amazed how clean they get!
No more stinky garbage disposal. Here’s a tip we all know…sort of. Instead of grinding up lemon peels with ice and salt like our moms probably told us, try zesting the lemon into the disposal, letting it sit for at least 5 minutes, then turning on the disposal and flushing with cold water. It’s a new twist on an old classic. (Twist? See what I did there?)
Polish your knives. If your knife set is suffering from rust spots as a result of being put back in the block with a little water still on them, try a little lemon juice with a sponge to polish them up and get them looking good as new!
BONUS: Use lemons in your kitchen décor. Well, this is all well and good, you’re thinking, but where on Earth shall I store all these lemons I’ll need for all these fabulous tips? The best news of all is that lemons are a great way to add a homey yet elegant touch, not to mention a pop of color, to any kitchen. Lemons can be stored in beautiful bowls or fruit baskets on the countertop, or even on your kitchen table as a beautiful centerpiece. Not only will they make your kitchen smell divine, but they will be right there on hand for any cleaning mission you hope to accomplish.
It’s getting to be that time of year again. The season of baked goods, family gatherings with large meals and festive parties is upon us, and that means that you will likely be using your oven a lot more than usual! Now is a great time to get your oven ready for cooking and baking, but what is the best way to get it clean? These days, nearly everyone has a self-cleaning oven, of course, but even after running the self-clean cycle, there is still the question of what to do with all that burnt, black gunk that has fallen onto the bottom. Also, there is the fact that the self-cleaning feature isn’t always the most practical method for cleaning out your oven, what with the way it can make a particularly dirty oven smoke, and produces that hideous burning smell. Why not skip it altogether in favor of something natural and, ultimately, easier? That’s right- our old friends baking soda and vinegar are back, and this time they are ready to make this oven-cleaning experience your best one yet!
What You Need:
Oven (obvious, but true)
Dish cloth (preferably not a decorative one you like to display)
Plastic or silicone spatula
Bathtub (for cleaning oven racks)
Powdered or liquid dish detergent (for cleaning oven racks)
What You Do:
Remove the oven racks and set aside
Make a paste of ½ cup baking soda and 2-3 tablespoons water. Paste should be spreadable consistency.
Spread paste all over inside of oven, avoiding the heating elements. Pay special attention to particularly greasy or dirty areas of the oven.
Let sit overnight, or at least 12 hours.
Clean oven racks while you’re waiting. This can be accomplished by soaking them in the bathtub overnight with ½ cup dishwasher detergent and then scrubbing with a non-abrasive scrub brush or sponge.
Wipe out oven with a damp dish cloth the following day. The spatula will come in handy to scrape off the paste if the damp dish cloth doesn’t get the hard-to-reach spots.
Spray with vinegar in a spray bottle to get rid of all the left-behind baking soda residue. The vinegar will make the baking soda foam a bit (hello, science project volcano lesson!)
Wipe out remaining vinegar/baking soda foam until all residue is gone.
Replace oven racks.
Enjoy the holidays with your shiny, clean oven! Not only will it save you from the embarrassment of pulling a turkey out of an oven filled with stinky black smoke, but it can also make the finished product taste better.
Emptying the lint trap after every load of laundry is one of the most important ways to take care of your dryer and make sure that it runs safely and efficiently. But what should you do with all that dryer lint you collect? Sure, you could just throw it away, but if you like the idea of recycling and repurposing objects, read on for some inventive uses for dryer lint.
Absorbent makeshift towel- You can use a handful of dryer lint to soak up messes for a quick, absorbent fix. This comes in especially handy for motor oil in the garage or driveway.
Stuffing for toys and pillows- If you are the crafty sort who enjoys sewing pillows, quilts and stuffed toys, dryer lint makes a great substitute for cotton batting or another type of stuffing you would find in a craft or hobby store.
Pet bedding- Small animals like hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs like a nice fluffy nest to sleep in. Dryer lint makes the ideal bedding for your furry friend.
Packing material- If you are looking for a greener and cheaper alternative to Styrofoam packing peanuts or bubble wrap, we suggest a nice layer of dryer lint around your fragile items. The lint makes a good cushion for anything you are trying to mail.
Fire starter- You undoubtedly know that dryer lint is a fire hazard; after all, accumulation of lint in the dryer is responsible for 2,900 fires in the US each year.* Put that flammable quality to good use by bringing lint with you on camping trips, or use in your wood-burning fireplace to get the fire going. PRO TIP- Mixing the lint with melted wax from old candles in empty cardboard egg cartons makes handy fire-starting blocks.
Mulch-To help plants stay warm during the winter months, apply a layer of dryer lint to the soil for insulation. The lint is biodegradable over time and will break down on its own.
We’ve all been there- wiping down our countertops or drying off pots and pans with what we believe is a fresh dishcloth, only to have a moldy, mildew smell rise up and smack us in the face. Gross! According to laundry experts, that smell occurs in towels, washcloths and other linens when dirt and grime gets trapped in their fibers, along with detergent buildup, and then left wet for too long, either in a hamper or the washing machine. Before you give up and buy a whole new set of towels, know that there is a cure! Follow these easy steps to restore your towels to their original, mildew-free glory:
Wash towels in special vinegar load- Round up the offending towels and throw them into the washing machine on the hot setting, along with one cup of white vinegar. Make sure to wash like colors together to minimize the risk of bleeding. DO NOT add detergent or bleach. Once the cycle completes, toss into the dryer as usual and get ready to enjoy folding some delicious-smelling towels. If a little bit of stank remains, don’t fret- just repeat the steps above, this time using ½ cup baking soda instead of the vinegar. This step is necessary for severely mildewed towels.
Wash your washer- Now that you’ve cured your towels, you want to prevent the mildew from ever coming back. One of the ways to accomplish this is to wash your washing machine. Running a monthly cleaning cycle with one of the many specialty washing machine cleaners on the market, such as Tide and Affresh, is effective, but running a normal cycle with hot water after adding bleach to the dispenser can kill just as many germs for a lot less cost.
Improve your laundry habits- OK, so now your towels and washer are both clean, fresh and free of odor-causing bacteria. Now all you have to do is keep them that way! One quick and easy way to remedy the mildew issue is to remove clothes from the washer promptly, rather than letting them sit there for hours before putting them into the dryer. Additionally, consider hanging wet towels and damp washcloths over the shower curtain rod or towel rack to dry before tossing them into the hamper. And always leave the lid or door to your washer open to allow air to circulate and dry out any moisture. These preventive measures are especially important if you live in a humid climate, where everything takes longer to dry properly.
It’s easy to get swept up in the frenzy over stainless steel kitchen appliances that began at the early part of the 21st century- after all, the shiny silver finish makes a kitchen look ultra-modern, sleek and beautiful. But before you shell out on the stainless versions of big-ticket kitchen appliances, take a moment to look at the pros and cons of each of the most popular colors to see if stainless really is right for you and your lifestyle.
White Kitchen Appliances-
Affordability- White is easily the most affordable color for all home appliances, a white refrigerator/freezer, dishwasher or range will function exactly the same as its black or stainless counterparts at less cost to the homeowner.
Classic- Unlike some of the passing fads in home appliances (remember Harvest Gold?), white appliances are less likely to go out of style than the more trendy options. White is a timeless, safe choice to ensure a kitchen that doesn’t look out of style in just a couple of years.
Low-Maintenance- White is an easy color appliance to clean. With white appliances, homeowners won’t face the issues of fingerprinting that come along with stainless steel and black appliances.
Bland- Some homeowners feel that white appliances are boring and don’t add any visual interest to their kitchen.
Dated- Sometimes “classic” can be interpreted as “old-fashioned.” If you’re the type of person who likes to be surrounded by modern, state-of-the-art technology and devices, white appliances might not fit your personal style.
Black Kitchen Appliances-
Sleek, yet affordable- If you like the modern feel of a kitchen with stainless steel appliances, but your budget won’t allow it, you may wish to consider black as an alternative. Black kitchen appliances provide that contemporary feel without breaking the bank, in most cases.
Understated- While white and stainless steel appliances tend to be the focal point of a kitchen, black appliances do a better job of blending in with the surroundings. Black appliances might be the best choice if you have a kitchen with a lot of visual interest, such as a beautiful bay window or interesting light fixture.
Dark- If you have an enclosed kitchen with no windows, or one with dark cabinets and countertops, black appliances can add to the somber, oppressive feel. In that case, it might be best to go with stainless steel.
Shows dirt- Some people feel that stains and spots show up more obviously on black than on stainless steel appliances.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Appliances-
Chic- Stainless steel is the “it” finish for kitchen appliances at the moment. A kitchen with stainless steel appliances will instantly look more modern, and can boost the price of your home if you plan on selling soon.
Durable- Stainless steel appliances used to be used exclusively in restaurants and industrial kitchens because of their durability.
Fingerprints!- If you are the type of person who frets over fingerprints, you definitely may wish to reconsider purchasing stainless steel appliances. Fingerprints are easy enough to clean off with a little soap and water, but cleaning them off will be something you do on a daily basis. (Note: some manufacturers offer stainless steel options that make fingerprints less visible, so that may be something to consider if your heart is set on stainless.)
Price- As with any trendy thing, the price tag for stainless steel appliances can be a bit hefty. Look for sales at Appliance Factory on quality, name-brand stainless steel kitchen appliances to help you afford your appliance upgrade.
What color appliances are in your kitchen? Let us know in the comments below.
Creating a unique space doesn’t have to break the bank, nor do you have to have a degree in interior design to make your home beautiful. Check out this helpful article from Style at Home, with 25 easy decorating ideas to do on a budget. Here are a few of my favorites from the list that I have actually tried with success in my own home:
Family Photo Wall- “Create a gallery wall of family photos and other small pictures in matching (or contrasting) frames, arranged in a collage on a large wall such as a stairwell or hallway.” I have a photo wall like this in my dining room, with a tastefully laid out mishmash of black collage photo frames, and it creates visual interest while proudly displaying happy family memories. The best part? Two of the photo collage frames were wedding gifts and therefore cost us nothing, while the third one was $10 at Ross and happened to match the others perfectly.
One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure- “Peruse Craigslist, eBay or freecycle.org regularly for finds. It’s amazing what shows up as a bargain or even free.” Though my husband and I agree to disagree on this decorating tip, I have found many fantastic items for the house on eBay and Craigslist, as well as thrift stores and even the Dumpster outside our old apartment! One of my prized possessions, a working high-quality record player dating from the late 1960s, set me back only $25 on Craigslist. Such a deal!
Chandelier Magic- “Replace overhead lighting with thrift-store (or box store) chandeliers.” Our first house came with the world’s ugliest brass chandelier, which not only was an eyesore but also had a way of smacking houseguests in the head when they stood up from the table too quickly. $100, plus $25 for installation help from an experienced electrician, got us the most beautiful, sleek art-deco style chandelier from Home Depot, which gave our whole dining area an instant facelift.
Cabinetry Cosmetics- “Replace the drawer and cabinet pulls in your kitchen, bath, bedroom, or on a furniture piece.” For approximately $20, we were able to add stylish, modern pulls to all the cabinets and drawers in our old kitchen. The results were instant and dramatic.
Let Nature In- “A tray filled with pinecones, a tall vase of dried pampas grass stalks, or a bowl of colorful pebbles, beach glass or shells all make eye-catching home décor accessories.” This is one I use constantly at home- we’ve got some seashells and-picked by my husband at the beach scattered along the mirror of our master bathroom counter, a candle-holding tray adorned with various smooth rocks and flat glass marbles and a tall bamboo vase filled with stalks of natural grasses and reeds. The cost is cheap (or free!) but the effect is breathtaking.
Have you tried any of the tips from this article? Let us know in the comments below