Articles Tagged "Winter"

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January
23

Clear the Air

Winter's cold likely means you've kept your doors and windows closed tight, creating the opportunity for stale air and not-so-fresh smells. Scented candles and air fresheners can only go so far and will likely cover the odor, rather than eliminate it – plus, depending on what you are using, you might be adding toxins, a trade not worth making.

These tips will help you clear the air.

  • Eliminate the Source
    Did a piece of food slip under the fridge or fall behind the trash can under your sink? Perhaps you missed a spot your new puppy visited. Identifying the source is your first step in getting rid of an unwelcome smell.

  • Clean the Dishwasher
    To clean and freshen the dishwasher, place a cup filled with white vinegar on the top rack, and run the cycle as normal without any other dishes in the dishwasher. This will eliminate many of the smells.
  • Check the Drains
    Sometimes food can get stuck in the drains in your kitchen sink, where it turns rancid and starts to stink. If you have a garbage disposal, you can deodorize it by placing some slices of lemon or orange in it, turning on the water and running the disposal. If that doesn't work, send some mouthwash down it, or try some white vinegar.

If your seldom-used guest bath smells, it could be due to water not being run through the pipes for a time. Water can sit in the p-trap and get mildewy, causing a rotten odor. Run hot water in both tub and sink for 30 seconds to a minute to move the old water through. Deodorize further by sending a quarter cup of baking soda down the drain. If the odor persists, you might need to call in a professional to check the roof vents to make sure they aren't clogged.

  • Clean the Carpets
    Since it's winter, you may not want to have your carpets shampooed. But, if they are the source of the smell, you'll want to deal with it. Start by sprinkling baking soda, and letting it sit in place for about an hour. Then vacuum thoroughly. The baking soda will pull out some of the odors.

  • Kill Urine Smells with Vinegar
    The acidity of the vinegar will help it to kill the smell of urine, as well as bacteria. If you've had some accidents from pets on the carpet, mix one part vinegar and three parts water. Rub the mixture into the carpet with a cloth, rinse, and allow to air dry. This will help neutralize the odor without covering it with cleaning chemicals.

Now, let's talk toxins.

Most of us never think about candles as a potential toxin, but unless you are burning 100% beeswax candles, which are actually natural cleaners, you could be adding toxic chemicals to the air. The same goes for incense. Think about ditching your traditional methods for beeswax candles (with cotton wicks) and grandma's tried and true natural method of aromatherapy: simmering a stick of cinnamon and slices of orange on the stove.

For more suggestions, take a look at these tips from Seventh Generation. Oftentimes, simpler methods from the past are still the best!

January
9

January Blues?

For a lot of people, January is the longest month. The hustle of the holidays is over. Visiting family and friends have returned home. The weather is, well, blah, especially for non-skiers/snowboarders, and it can seem dark. All. The. Time.

You can lift your spirits by employing a few little tricks:

Add a bouquet of fresh flowers to your dining table. Pick up some flowers in your favorite colors to adorn your dining room.

Light summer-scented candles. Scents such as coconut, lemon, tangerine, or light florals will boost your mood by reminding you that warmer weather will be here again soon.

Bring in some daylight. Daylight LED light bulbs mimic the natural light of the sun. With more of a blue light, these bulbs better mirror actual daylight.

Host a Hawaiian-themed party. Ask your guests to wear their brightest "Aloha" shirts and come ready to shine.

  • Order your supplies or check your local party supply store:
  • Keep your menu simple
    • For drinks, make it easy by serving homemade lemonade, both hard and non-alcoholic. See our blog post with great recipes from last summer HERE. Garnish with a lemon slice and a strawberry or two along with a colorful umbrella.
    • Make easy fruit kebabs with green and red grapes, blueberries, tangerine sections, pineapple chunks, and kiwi slices.
    • Speaking of kebabs, one of our favorite recipes is for baked Hawaiian chicken kebabs that take only 40 minutes from start to table. And you can do them in the oven! Get the recipe HERE.
    • Add some basmati or jasmine rice and a nice green salad with a light dressing, and you're good to go.
  • Music
    • Beach Boys, of course!

Fire up the BBQ. Not feeling the Hawaiian theme? Light the grill and cook up some burgers and dogs. Pair them with some potato salad and maybe some chips and salsa, and you'll be feeling the summertime vibe in no time.

Before you light your BBQ, make sure to remove all the snow and ice from around the grill and give it plenty of time to preheat. Grilling in colder weather takes longer, so keep the lid closed, and plan accordingly.

Don't let the winter blues take away your summertime joy. Recreate it until it's here again for real.

December
5

Really!

Believe it or not, fruitcake is a well-loved dessert known throughout the world. It is only in the United States that this cake is the butt of jokes, probably because they were, at one time, mass-produced for mail order and tended to be dry and of questionable age. Some say the ridicule can be traced to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, but research shows "fruitcake trashing" occurred much earlier in the 20th century.

Though celebrated by some as the delicious tradition it is intended to be (National Fruitcake Day is December 27), others applaud this dense loaf laced with fruit and nuts only when it is flying through the air on National Fruitcake Toss Day, January 3 (or the 7th, depending on which website you visit).

Historically speaking, some believe that ancient Egyptians sent fruitcake to the afterlife with their deceased loved ones. We do know that they did not become common, though, until Roman times, when pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and barley mash were mixed together.

Preserved fruit, spices, and honey were added during the Middle Ages. Sugar became a main ingredient in the 1500s in the American Colonies, and alcohol was widely used starting in the 1800s. Somewhere along the way, nuts became a staple, as well.

Today, fruitcake is served year 'round in Australia, but is generally enjoyed as a Christmas cake across Europe, India, and parts of the Caribbean.

So, will you buck the trend in the U.S. and give this recipe a try? If you don't like it, you can always save it for January 3!

No-Bake Graham Cracker Fruitcake

3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk

3 c. mini marshmallows

1/2 c. orange juice

1 box + 1 inner seal pkg graham crackers

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 c. raisins

1 c. dates, chopped

1 c. nuts, chopped

16 oz. assorted candied fruit, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Combine milk, marshmallows, & orange juice in large bowl. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows soften & dissolve slightly. Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs & mix with spices. Add fruits & nuts, stir. Slowly add liquid mixture and stir by hand until well combined.

Press fruitcake into non-stick, lightly greased, or waxed-paper-lined bread pan or mold, cover with plastic wrap, and then with foil. Refrigerate for 2-3 days for flavors to combine. Slice & enjoy.

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

Instead of the listed fruit, experiment with craisins, dried apples, peaches, mangoes, blueberries, and/or strawberries, or get crazy and use gumdrops, gummy bears, gummy worms, and/or chocolate chips. If you use dried fruit, soak it in additional orange juice (or brandy) in a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal) a few hours or overnight to soften.

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