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How to Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Dirty pans

Thanks to all of the cooking I’ve done this holiday season, my stainless steel pots and pans are a mess! I’ve tried soaking them in Dawn dish soap, soaking them over night, boiling soapy water in them, but nothing would remove the maple cherry sauce I made for our Christmas Chicken (oh my, that was a wonderful meal. See below for the recipe.).

This afternoon I decided to try something else – I boiled equal parts water and vinegar with a teaspoon of baking soda in each pan. For the larger pan I used 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup vinegar and I only used 1/2 cup for the smaller pan. Every few minutes I would scrub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. And WOW! It worked! Check out my before and after pictures below.

If you want the recipe for the maple glaze chicken check out the “Favorites” section of my website or click here Not only will you know how to make this delicious recipe, you’ll know how to clean your pans afterwards 🙂

Clean pans

Delicious Maple Cherry Glaze Recipe

Delicious Maple Cherry Glaze Recipe

I made this wonderful dish for our Christmas dinner and it was a big hit! Make sure you use real maple syrup and not Aunt Jemima or other “fake” syrups. You can make this sauce ahead of time and keep it your fridge for up to three days.

2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons minced dried tart cherries (usually in the same aisle as other dried fruits)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce

1) Combine the syrup, water, cherries and soy sauce in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat. When it starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

2) Add lemon juice to mixture and stir well.

3) Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. You can taste the glaze to make sure it’s sweet enough for you. Since different brands of syrup have varying degrees of sweetness you may need to add more.

4) Once your glaze is sweet enough, use it right away or store it in the fridge for up to three days.

I made mine a day ahead of time and poured a little over my chicken breasts about 10 minutes before the chicken was finished baking. I also added more when the chicken was finished. You can serve your chicken over rice or next to any side dish you choose (my fam loves mashed potatoes so that’s what I served it with) with a little sauce on the side in case any one wants extra. This glaze is also great on fish!

How Many Never Used Items Are In Your Home?

How Many Never Used Items Are In Your Home?

I recently read a statistic that blew my mind – the average person has $7000 worth of never used items in their home! $7000! My first thought was, surely, that can’t be right. I’m sure I don’t have that much. But then I started thinking (and looking around). In just 10 minutes I realized that I had 3 shirts in my closet with the tags still on them, one pair of sandals I bought this summer but didn’t get around to wearing, a set of dessert plates that are still in the box, and I don’t even want to look through all of my craft stuff! I probably don’t have $7000 worth of never used items in my home, but if I looked hard enough, I might come close to finding $1000.

How many of us could use that kind of cash right now? I know I could, especially with Christmas sneaking up on us like it is. This has motivated me to dig a little deeper and let go of things that I’ve never used. Of course the first task at hand is to LOOK through boxes and drawers and find those things. I could wear those sandals next year…or I could sell those ugly things (what was I thinking??) on ebay for some extra cash in my pocket right now.

What’s in your closet that you’ve never used?

Question From a Reader – What to do with Baby Clothes and Toys

Question From a Reader – What to do with Baby Clothes and Toys

We have clothes everywhere! I can clear one room in our 3br house-but it seems like the things just “shift”. Most of our items are clothes we are saving for our son-ranging from 2T-5T, my husband’s clothes (mostly never wears), stuffed toys out the wazoo, toys out the wazoo, and now some big ticket baby items our son has outgrown that we can’t find a good home for yet. Then there are the sentimental items-about 6-8 large boxes of those. Suggestions?

The above question was sent from a reader and I think it’s a problem we’ve either all had or are still struggling with. Here are my suggestions:

*The clothes – The first step is to look over each item of clothing and see what ones you would actually use again. If you see an item covered in stains and you don’t think you will put your next little one in it, toss it. Both the baby clothes and your husbands clothes that he doesn’t wear could go into Space Bags. These bags hold an unbelievable amount of clothing! I like the flat ones for clothing (as opposed to the cube ones which are great for blankets and stuffed animals). The flat ones can be stored under beds, under the couch, any where you have narrow spaces. Just make sure to label them so you know what sizes are in each bag.

*Stuffed toys – Go through the toys and see if there are any you can donate. The ones you decide to keep can go in the cube Space Bags. We keep most of my daughter’s stuffed animals in these amazing bags. Because they are clear, you can see what’s inside and if your child wants a particular stuffed animal you can open it up, take out the toy and then suck out the air again.

*Toys – this may have to be something you put up with for the next few years. As with everything else, go through and see what you actually need and what your kids really play with. If you come across any toy that is broken, either fix it or toss it.

*Big ticket baby items – if you don’t need it anymore, get those space suckers out of there! Sell them on Craig’s list or, if you don’t want to mess with that, donate them. Many pregnancy help line places will gladly take the donation.

*Sentimental items – Oh man, that one gets all of us. Here is what I do – I keep a box for EACH person in my family. I don’t throw everyone’s keepsake items in together. If you do this, you’ll never know who you’re keeping things for…or why you’re even keeping it.

Before anything goes in a box I ask myself this question – why am I keeping it? Do I hope my daughter will pass on this item of clothing to her own daughter one day? If that answer is yes, I make sure it’s stain free and in perfect shape. If it’s not, I try to get the stains out and make it look like new. If I can’t do it, I take a picture of it (for myself) and toss it. When my kids grow up and have their own children they will not want to put their children in old, stained clothing – just like the rest of us wouldn’t do to our own children.

If it’s a toy I’m tempted to put in the box, I ask myself the same question. Am I keeping it because it was one of their favorite toys and I think their own children would play with it one day? If it’s not a favorite toy, if it’s broken or doesn’t work anymore, then either toss it or donate it.

I try to keep this in mind with my keepsakes – will it live on and actually be useful to my children one day? If the answer is no, I don’t keep it. When my child is an adult it will not be helpful to give him/her 10 Rubbermaid containers full of “stuff” that is broken, stained, or torn. No one wants that! My mom kept very few things for me, and I treasure everything that I have in that little box. If she would’ve given me 10 of them, I would’ve been overwhelmed.

When it comes to keeping papers or art work, I keep a flat Rubbermaid container under my bed. I don’t have one for each kid, I just have a “Family” box. Every other time I add to it, I look to see if there is something similar they’ve done that I can get rid of.

The key here is to pay attention to what you are keeping, and think about why you are keeping it in the first place. We keep so much more than we really need. We end up using space for things in the past and have less room for the present.

I hope this helps! Happy organizing!

Travel Check List

Travel Check List

Two weeks ago today I got the kind of phone call no one wants – a close family member had died in a car accident. In my shocked and saddened state I had to pack for my family and I and get ourselves ready for what would be a 3000 mile round trip in the car. We were in the car, loaded and ready to go, in less than 24 hours.

On the trip I thought of the many things I would’ve packed if I would’ve had more time…or if I would’ve been thinking clearly. I decided that I needed to make myself a travel check list.

We travel a lot and I’m always making little lists of things I need to bring. Why not make a large, printable list that contains my most often packed items? That way, whether I’m in a hurry or not, I can make sure to pack the things I need.

Here is my travel check list. I have left open spaces for notes and other items to be listed. Feel free to print out as many as you need. You can also share this with anyone you think might need it. Just please make sure to give me credit for it and include my website.

Safe travels my friends. Enjoy life…it’s way too short.

Travel Check List

How To Clean Area Rugs

How To Clean Area Rugs

A woman walks into a shop that sells very expensive Persian rugs. She looks around and spots the perfect rug and walks over to inspect it. As she bends to feel the texture of the rug she farts loudly. Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone has noticed her little accident and hopes a sales person does not pop up at that moment. As she turns back, standing next to her is a salesman. “Good day, how may we help you today?” Very uncomfortably, she asks, “Sir, how much does this rug cost?” He answers, “Lady if you farted just touching it, you’re gonna poop in your pants when you hear what the price is.”

I know, I know, that’s a terrible joke. But the truth is, rugs are expensive! Many times we get them home, vacuum them every once in a while and call it good. But is it good? Is that all there is to taking care of rugs? Yes…and no.

So how do you take care of a rug?

1) Vacuum – don’t just vacuum the topside of the rug. Move the rug, sweep or vacuum all of the dust and dirt that is underneath it, then flip the rug upside down and vacuum the underside. I usually flip the rug back over and vacuum the rug on the topside once more. How often do you need to vacuum under your rug? It depends on if your rug is in a high traffic area. You might need to do this once a week (which I do for the smaller rugs in front of my doors) or once a month (which is what I do for the larger ones).

Do you know why you need to vacuum? The dirt and dust in your rugs acts like sandpaper and, over time, can damage the fibers. Plus, if enough accumulates, it can get packed into your rug, making it almost impossible to remove. Not to mention the fact that rugs catch mold spores in the air, dust, pollen, dander, and dust mites – all things that can cause allergies.

2) Clean with a carpet cleaner – if your rug is really dirty, smells funny, or someone spilled something on it, you may want to use a carpet cleaner to clean your rug. When you use a carpet cleaner, your rug will get fairly wet, and so will the floor underneath it. It’s best to clean your rugs in your garage, or even your drive way – somewhere it’s OK to get wet. If it’s a sunny day, lay it flat in your drive way to dry in the sun. Once the top feels dry, bring the rug in the house and flip it over so the underside is up and let it dry a little longer. If your rug is valuable, you may want to have a professional rug cleaner clean it for you. The best ones will pick up your rug and take it to their business to clean. Cleaning your rug this way insures that all of the soap is rinsed out, leaving no residue behind. At home carpet cleaners can leave some residue which could cause future dirt and dust to stick to the fibers. I haven’t had any problems with this, but if I had a valuable Oriental rug and it needed to be cleaned, I would have a professional do it.

3) Fringe – don’t forget about the fringe. If you need to wash the fringe, put a little bit of carpet cleaner in a bowl of warm water. Use a laundry brush or an old tooth brush to clean the fringe, starting up by the rug and working to the ends. Only do this if your fringe really needs it. Once the fringe is wet, it can pick up dust and dirt quickly. Make sure to let it dry completely before anyone walks on it. If you have a valuable Oriental rug, you can also have your fringe replaced.

What do I mean by a “valuable Oriental rug”? An actual Oriental rug is one that was handmade (hand knotted) in one of the traditional weaving areas in the Middle East or Far East. Most stores where rugs are sold (furniture stores, home improvement stores, and even actual rug stores) call any rug with a pattern an Oriental rug. These rugs are not made in the Far or Middle East and are made with a machine, instead of by hand. They are still pricey and still need to be taken care of, but you can do most of the cleaning on your own, unless you want to hire a professional.

Persian rugs should also be cleaned by professionals. In order for a rug to be “Persian” it must be made in Persia (modern day Iran). Usually the only cleaning a Persian rugs needs is a good vacuuming once or twice a week.

While regular vacuuming is usually all that is needed, make sure to flip that rug over every once in a while and clean up the dust and dirt that has accumulated underneath. This will keep your rug cleaner and your family breathing easier!

Make Your Own Chalk Board

Make Your Own Chalk Board

Rust-oleum Chalkboard Paint

I love chalkboard paint! You can turn just about anything into a chalkboard:
*The inside of one of your kitchen cabinets – keep your to-do’s written on it
*The side of a cabinet in your kitchen – jot down grocery items you need
*The side of shelves in a closet – write down random thoughts (I did this in my husband’s closet)
*Cover a thin piece of wood with chalkboard paint and hang it in your office
*Turn an entire wall into a giant chalkboard – fun for the whole family!

I usually get my chalkboard paint at Home Depot but you can get it at any place that sells paints. I’ve tried it as a spray paint (it costs around $6) and as a paint in a can ($10). I liked them both. Which one you’ll use depends on the project you’re doing. If you’re spraying something that you can take outside (like a cabinet door, a shelf, or a board) you could use the spray paint. If you’re painting something that can’t be taken outside, I would use the can of paint.

Back in the day, if you wanted to make yourself a chalkboard, you were restricted to black. Not anymore! You can now buy it in any color you want. Rust-oleum makes a chalk board paint that you can take up to the counter in your paint section and have them mix in any color you want.

If you want to mix your own, you could try this recipe:
*Mix 1/2 cup of latex paint (or acrylic) in your desired color with 1 tablespoon of unsanded tile grout and stir together.
*Use a paint brush to paint it onto your surface. When it’s dry sand lightly with 150 grit sandpaper.
*Apply several coats for best results (sanding in between each coat).
*This may dry rather quickly so I would make it in small batches and work quickly.

Why would you make your own chalkboard paint if you can have the color you want custom made for you at a paint store? Covering something with chalkboard paint takes very little paint. If you buy it in a can, you’ll have 30 ounces of chalkboard paint sitting around. That’s a lot of extra paint! When you mix it up yourself with the recipe above, you are just making what you need.

Whether you go with chalkboard paint in a spray can, in a paint can, or make your own, be sure to lightly chalk the entire surface area of your project when the paint is dry (Rust-oleum recommends waiting three days for the paint to cure). This will insure that the messages and notes you write on it, can be erased easily.

If you have used chalkboard paint, I’d love to hear about it! Either post it on this message, send me a message using the “Contact” tab, or tell me about it on Facebook!

Ook Hooks

Ook Hooks

I recently discovered Ook Hooks at Home Depot. They are great for hanging up light weight items like empty purses, hats, jewelry, scarves, etc. I tried to use 3M Command Hooks but my walls are textured and the hooks wouldn’t stick (bummer, I really like those hooks). Ook Hooks come in packages of 2 and are around $2 a pack. They easily screw into your wall (no tools needed) and are immediately ready to use (unlike command hooks which make you wait at least an hour).

To see exactly how I used Ook Hooks, check out my pages on organizing “His” and “Hers” closets.

Ook Hooks

Organizing His and Hers Master Bedroom Closets – Part Two “His”

Organizing His and Hers Master Bedroom Closets – Part Two “His”

The Finished Dresser

I decided a little over a week ago to clean and organize our master bedroom closets. In our current house, my husband and I have our very own closets (first time ever!), and they were in need of some sprucing up. My closet was a mess. To see the transformation check out the part one of this article here at Organizing His and Hers Master Bedroom Closets – Part One “Hers”.

My husband’s closest was much more organized than mine was (less stuff) but it was very boring and still needed a little organizing love to make it better. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a “before” picture. Just picture it all white with things piled up on the dresser and you’ll have an accurate mental picture.

The first thing I did was remove EVERYTHING from the closet. I painted the walls a beautiful color called Gulf Winds. It’s from Behr. I then cleaned the floors, shelves, and all of the molding. Now it was time to get organized.

*My husband loves hats almost as much as I love purses. I hung Ook Hooks above the door to hold his four favorite hats. The others I stacked on a shelf.
Hats Haning on Ook Hooks

*I organized his clothes by putting all of his business clothes (which he wears to work 5 days a week) on the top bar, and all of this regular, every day clothes on the bottom. This makes it easy to see exactly what he has (or needs) to wear to work each week.

*The dresser was pretty beat up. I used Mod Podge and put beautiful old looking maps on the top of the dresser to cover it up. To see exactly what I did, go to my post on how to decoupage a desk or dresser

*I painted the side of his shelves with chalkboard paint. Now he’ll be able to write himself notes and erase them when he doesn’t need them anymore (no more little strips of paper that end up getting lost).

Black Chalkboard Paint On Side of Shelves

And, just for fun, I painted a toucan on the left wall. Now his closet is clean, organized, and interesting!


How To Decoupage a Desk or Dresser

How To Decoupage a Desk or Dresser

Finished Desk

I love to decoupage. It’s a simple process that has huge results. I needed a desk for my new dressing room and I was hoping to use a nasty old desk I found in my garage that was left here by the previous owners. It was a sturdy desk but it was really stained. After much scrubbing I gave up and decided to decoupage the top.

My daughter is 11 and loves to help me with my projects. Her and I spent about an hour cutting strips of paper and pictures of out magazines. If you’re going to try this project and you’ll be covering a large surface like a desk top, cut out more strips than you think you’ll need. You’ll be surprised to see how much paper you need. We had to cut strips of paper two different times before we had enough.

My desk desk during the process

Once we had all of the paper strips and pictures we needed, it was time to get to work. I started in the back left corner of my desk. Because I’m right handed, I should’ve started in the back right corner so I wouldn’t keep getting my arm in my work (I’ll have to remember that for next time!). Take a thick artist brush and brush on some Mod Podge (purchased at Hobby Lobby for around $6. I prefer the gloss finish but you can choose which ever finish you like best). Immediately place your strip of paper on the gluey section and cover with more Mod Podge. You’ll have to watch out for air bubbles or the paper wrinkling. After you put each piece down, rub it a little with your finger to remove any bubbles and straighten out the paper. It’s OK if you have some air bubbles. It’s really not that noticeable.

Continue to glue strips of paper to your surface. Glue some sideways, some at an angle, some upside down, overlapping them a little as you go. We glued all of the strips of paper with words on them first, then glue the pictures on last.

When you’re finished, cover with another coat of Mod Podge and let it dry. The surface can remain a little sticky feeling even after it’s dry. To stop the tackiness, paint the top with a clear acrylic paint. Now you have a one of a kind item!

I did this same thing to my husband’s dresser, but instead of using magazine articles, I used scrap book paper. I found 8×8 sheets of paper that looked like they had old maps printed on them. I lined up the papers and, using Mod Podge, glued each one down. I then put a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top, paying careful attention to any air bubbles. There was one sheet of paper that had a rather large air bubble in it and, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to go away. I was surprised to see that when it dried the air bubble was gone. Once it was completely dry, I painted a layer of clear acrylic paint over the top.

Covering a Dresser

I’ve also done this same process to table legs and chair legs and the results are amazing. This is a fun project that kids even enjoy getting involved with. I have to warn you though, once you start, you’ll want to do everything in your house!