Cooking Safety for the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing, and with one huge feast behind us and the next family gathering just a few weeks away, we decided it’s time to share some important cooking safety tips.

  • Never leave the stove unattended. Even if it’s a turkey that’ll take three hours, make sure someone is keeping an eye on things at all times.

    pet friendly apartments
    Keep us out of the kitchen with a baby gate.
  • Ventilate by opening windows if you don’t have a range hood. Even just a cracked window can make all the difference.
  • Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen. If don’t already have a baby gate for your own little ones, invest in one for when you have young guests to make sure they don’t wander into the kitchen and start turning knobs on the stove.
  • Read the recipe first. You’ve probably glanced at the ingredients list before heading to the grocery store, but if you’re trying a new recipe, it’s always a good idea to read the recipe in full before getting started.
  • Don’t do too much at once—prep what you can the day before. When you have too many pots to watch at once, things can get overwhelming and messy. To keep things simple and organized, mix dry ingredients for baked goods the day before, and make whatever else you can ahead of time as well.
  • Recruit an assistant—but not five. Having an extra pair of hands in the kitchen is nice, but too many people can create chaos. You might put someone to work chopping or measuring ingredients in the dining room, but make sure the kitchen doesn’t get too crowded.
  • Do it potluck style and instruct each guest to provide something. To keep things organized and make sure no one brings doubles, post a list online somewhere for everyone to edit. You can do this through comments on a Facebook event, in a shared Google Doc, or any other web app that’s equal to the task.
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Home investments for the holidays

Do you have family coming to stay for Thanksgiving? There are all kinds of things you might need for your home when the whole clan rolls in for the holidays, so we thought we’d compile a list of odds and ends that might be useful if you don’t own them already:

  • A plunger will be a lifesaver for your overworked toilet.
    Pittsburgh in Autumn
    Festive fall foliage can been seen all over Pittsburgh, and soon your family will be here for the holidays as well.
    By John [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Extra toilet paper will be a must, so even if you have a few rolls left, buy a jumbo sized backup pack.
  • Drain strainers for your kitchen sink and bathtub will save you the headache of clogs caused by built up food and hair.
  • If you’re hosting, you probably already have all the sleeping arrangements worked and won’t another air mattress, but make sure you have a spare pump and a patching kit ready to go just in case.
  • Your bathroom almost definitely doesn’t have enough towel racks for everyone, but crumpled up towels will stink of mildew after their first use. Luckily, folding drying racks are cheap and easy to store when you no longer need extra hanging space.
  • Child proofing equipment is a must if you have small children among your guests. You’ll want to at least get locks for your cabinet doors, and a lock for your your toilet seat would be a good investment as well.
  • Stock up on carpet cleaner (and all other cleaning products, for that matter) in case of spills.
  • If you have pets and don’t already use calming pheromones or other soothing agents, now is a good time to look into it. A Feliway plug-in will help keep your skittish cat calm in its suddenly full home.
  • Extra shoe storage will protect your flooring from the wintery mix likely to be blowing outside. Even just a plastic tray to set wet shoes on will be helpful.

Shelf liners: good for your security deposit

We’ve been seeing some nifty ideas online for affordable shelf liners that make for easy clean-up. Of course, we look at these ideas and think they’re perfect for renters who want an easier time cleaning their rental when it comes time to move out. Here are some of our own tips when it comes to shelf liners:

  • Not just for cabinets, shelf liners are also an excellent idea for your fridge and freezer. We’ve read plenty of online tips suggesting plastic wrap as an excellent liner for fridge shelves. If something spills, you just peel away the soiled plastic wrap and replace it. Now, we imagine that’s a lot messier in practice than it is on paper, but it’s worth a try.
  • Not just for the kitchen: consider lining the shelves of your medicine cabinet and bathroom vanity as well. Do you have shelves in closets or buildt-ins? Line those too!
  • Wax paper is good for lots of things, and with a little double-sided tape, you can use it to line your drawers and cabinets on the cheap.
  • Aluminum foil would be ideal for completely wrapping up a removable shelf. Slide the shelf out of your fridge or cabinet, wrap it up, securing edges with tape if necessary, then slide it back into place.
  • Shelf liners as drip guards. Do you have a fridge with metal grate shelving instead of solid plastic? If you’ve ever spilled something on the top shelf of one of those, you know what a pain it is to empty and clean the whole fridge from top to bottom (though you should do that regularly anyway… not just when your roommate’s flavored coffee creamer takes a tumble and coats everything in a sticky pumpkin spice film). If you wrap the grate shelves, it’ll keep stuff from spilling through to lower levels of the fridge.

You might be wondering how a shelf liner is good for your security deposit. It’s pretty simple, really. When you move out of your apartment, you’ll significantly cut your cleaning time if all you have to do is remove your shelf liners to reveal squeaky clean surfaces beneath.

Cleaning tips galore!

We’ve been scouring the web for the best tips on keeping a home spic and span. Here’s some of the best advice we’ve found:

  • A list of things that should be cleaned but are often overlooked. This slideshow reminds us of our previous post on cleaning mattresses and oft-overlooked spots in the kitchen. It adds a few key places, like the toothbrush cup and some very specific spots in the fridge. We’d just like to add, that once or twice a year, you should pull your fridge away from the wall and vacuum up all the debris that’s collected behind it. While you’re at it, your fridge’s filter should be cleaned regularly as well.
  • The best way to clean a microwave. This method is super easy, no scrubbing required, and it leaves your microwave sparkling and smelling fresh. Plus, this article offers some of the best step-by-step instructions we’ve found for this cleaning method.
  • These 20 home-cleaning hacks are pure gold. Some of them are similar to what we’ve shared before, but great advice never gets old.
  • Prepping for visitors involves more than just vacuuming (though vacuuming is key). We enjoy this list’s advice to put out fresh flowers to impress guests. And why wait for guests to de-clutter? A tidy, organized home is a happy, stress free home.

Link roundup: tips for a cleaner home

There are the routine things that always get done in a home, like vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. And then there are the things that slip through the cracks. After spending sometime online, we’ve realized we could be doing more to keep our homes spic and span.

home cleaning
Your mattress and some places in your kitchen could probably use some sprucing up. Thank goodness for these quick, easy cleaning tips!

We came across this excellent article on how to clean your mattress, and it seems simple enough. We already have the vacuum and the baking soda in the house, so next time we’re heading to the store, we’re picking up some essential oils and trying this process ourselves.

Another place that might need a little extra attention? The kitchen. Places like produce bowls, knife racks, and drying racks are seldom-cleaned breeding grounds for mold and bacteria, so it’s time we paid attention to them and give them the TLC they need.

But how are we going to manage adding all these items to our already long list of things to clean? With some homemade wipes, of course! Since we’re all about environmentally friendly homemade cleaners these days, we can’t wait to try this kind.

More natural cleaning tips

We’ve been scouring Pinterest for our favorite natural cleaning tips, and it’s time to share our findings.

  • Because Alvern Gardens Apartments feature stainless steel kitchen sinks, we were especially excited about this cleaning regiment, though we’re not so sure about that last step of buffing with olive oil. Why waste delicious (expensive) olive oil like that? The tip of using a citrus fruit peel before tossing it is, however, genius.
  • We’re especially excited to try the toaster and pan cleaning tips on this list.
  • Dirty blender? Hair in your drain? Grimy grout? Dusty air vents? Dirty vacuum filter? Carpet stains? Nasty oven? Scratched ceramic? Nail polish spill? You name the job, this list will help you tackle it.
  • Finally, here’s an excellent infographic that shows you how to make your own natural cleaners for every room in the house.

So why use all natural cleaners instead of the store bought stuff? First of all, it’s better for you, your family, and your pets as well as the environment to use natural products instead of harsh chemicals. Second, it’s gentler on the items you’re cleaning. If you have an acrylic tub, for example, some cleaners are so powerful that they eat away at the tub itself and do more harm than good. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, making your own cleaning products can save you money.