Home & Garden Cleaning  &  Organizing

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    It's officially back-to-school time, and now that the kids are out of the house, it's also officially time to start organizing their toys. Organizing kids' toys might just be the most counterproductive task there is, but what if we told you there was one simple rule to follow that will help you organize those toys ... and keep them at bay?

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    If you've ever tried to fit a huge piece of furniture into a car, you will have some sympathy for these people. They were videotaped from across the street (thanks, nosy neighbor!) trying to shove a large, bulky sofa into the back of a tiny compact car.

    From the neighbor's vantage point a few floors up, it's quite clear that this sofa is never, ever going to fit into that car, no matter which way the couple turns it. And yet, they keep trying over and over again. (Oh yes, removing the cushions is definitely going to help. Eye roll.) It's exasperating to watch. But you gotta hand it to them, they are persistent!

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    Say ... how long have those chicken drumsticks been in your freezer? And that pizza? And the peas? It's easy to throw things into the freezer thinking they'll last forever. That's kind of the whole point. But my frozen fairy tale bubble has been burst: I've just found out how long foods really are supposed to keep in there.

    Guess what I'll be doing when I get home from work today.

    Yes, I'm afraid I have some cleaning out the freezer ahead of me. Can't wait! Ugh. Maybe you'd like a refresher too? Here's how long different foods really last in the freezer (at 0 degrees or below) without damaging the quality, according to FoodSafety.gov. Just note that technically, food will stay frozen and safe indefinitely. You just may not want to eat it once it thaws!

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    So, did you hear about the man who blamed his wife for their messy house? Spoiler alert: He admits he was wrong. He used to look around his house and judge his stay-at-home wife until he became a stay-at-home dad. Then he learned: Kids are destroyers. Not only that, taking care of a home (including the people who live in it) is a collection of "a million full-time jobs." This includes "housekeeper, disciplinarian, teacher, nurse ..." Oh blah blah blah, you know the list. We've all lived it. Congratulations, stay-at-home-dad, for observing the obvious!

    As with everything else in life, you have to prioritize. Some things are more important than cleaning your house. Actually, a lot of things are more important than cleaning. And anyway, aren't we all kind of suspicious of super-clean homes?

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    What horrors lurk within your refrigerator? Are there foods well past their prime crouched, ready to unleash food poisoning upon you and your family? Well it's time to drag them out and banish them forever. Most of us have at least a couple things in our fridge that should probably go -- I know I do. And it's easy to lose track of what's fresh and what's not, especially if you're busy. But it's worth the time and effort if you can pin down just 10 minutes to screen your fridge for these food safety red flags and throw them away.

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    You have a mystery box in your kitchen. A place where dirty dishes go in -- and clean dishes come out. Is it magic? Of course not. It is just your dishwasher. If it were magic, those dishes would come out perfectly clean every time. But alas, we know they do not. Sometimes they come out with soap residue, or with food crusted on. So we're looking inside a dishwashing machine at work. Literally! Watch the washing in action while we attempt to solve some of the Great Perplexing Mysteries of the Dishwasher.

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    If you cook even once or twice a week, your stove-top can be a living monument to every meal you've prepared. Even the most finicky of housekeepers can overlook a dirty stove-top. It can sneak up on you! Sure, you do a daily wipe down (most of the time), but that doesn't keep the odd pot from overflowing or the oil and gunk from building up and building up until you're left with an embarrassing mess.

    Conventional stove-tops are notoriously difficult to clean. Their shape, size, and the frequently caked-on reminders of meals long gone can make all the elbow-grease in the world seem like it's going to waste. But hope is not lost -- not even for the ultra-lazy like me! Here are 5 easy ways to make that stove-top sparkle once more. 

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    I don't own a lot of fine silver. The one or two pieces I do have don't get a lot of time in the public eye. That's because they seem to attract tarnish like flies do honey. I was recently given a silver charger plate that is so beautiful, it had me revisit this tarnish problem. It was time to conquer silver-polishing at home once and for all! Let's do this thang, shall we? 

    I'm a bit of a crunchy girl -- if there's an all-natural way of doing something, I prefer to go that route. There are enough chemicals and weird ingredients in the things we use every day. If I can keep a couple of bad-for-me-and-my-family things out of the house, I'd rather go that route. Luckily for me there are COUNTLESS modes of polishing up your silver out there. Here are 10 of them! And they are as a natural as it gets. 

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    Call me a weirdo, but I actually enjoy cleaning my bathroom. It's my sanctuary and I love the daydream-inducing sky blue penny tiles I picked out for the floor. It's just that I have a LIFE, see, and that kind of gets in the way of doing a deep cleaning of my bathroom. Most of the time we get by on a quick swipe -- and by quick I mean 10 to 15 minutes. I'm starting to get pretty good at this drive-by cleaning. Here's how the quickie bathroom cleaning goes down.

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    Oh, white water stain on my beautiful wooden kitchen table. You are EVIL! Why must you taunt me so, catching my eye every time I walk through the room?

    Last week I hosted a brunch (because I'm like a spunkier, more-champagne-drunk version of Ina Garten) and did something incredibly stupid. I placed my delicious cheesy bacon casserole on the kitchen table, sitting it on a towel and NOT on a trivet. *Slaps forehead*

    I didn't discover the mark for hours -- because brunch was long and the champagne delicious. When I did, I panicked. This was different than your average white ring left from a cup or mug plopped down sans coaster. This was a rectangle roughly the size and shape, well, of a kitchen towel. I frantically scrubbed and scrubbed with soap and water. If this has happened to you -- DON'T DO THAT.

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