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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cleaning Your Dishwasher

I have this thought process that if you put dirty stuff into an appliance, add a cleaning agent, turn it on, let it do its thing, and clean items come out, then the appliance itself should be getting clean in the process too.  Apparently, I’m wrong because that big box you put your dirty dishes in, may be filled with nasty gunk, and it may not be getting your dishes as clean as you might think.  When’s the last time you cleaned your dishwasher?  If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember, and sadly, several articles I read said you should do it once a month!

Let’s get started:
  1. Take the bottom rack and thoroughly clean any accumulated debris or gunk built up in or around the drain area.
  2. Fill a dishwasher-safe dish with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the upper rack of your empty machine, close the door, and run a hot-water cycle.  This should wash away the majority of the gunk, grease, and grime.  There could still be some stuff left around the outer seal.  If so, simply take an old rag and wipe it off.
  3. To deodorize your dishwasher, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda across the bottom of the machine and run it on a short hot-water cycle.
That’s it.  Now your dishwasher should sparkle and smell fresh.  One side note here – if your dishwasher has a mold invasion, pour a cup of bleach in the bottom of the basin and run a full cycle only if the interior is NOT stainless steel.  Caution: using bleach on a stainless steel dishwasher interior will likely cause the metal to erode.  But no worries, I just used vinegar and baking soda on my stainless steel dishwasher, and it turned out nicely.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Respect for the American Flag

It is out of character for me to weigh in on anything controversial.  While I have my opinions, and they are strong ones too; I don’t like to offend others.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that everyone has their own opinions, and they are completely entitled to them.  Moreover, we don’t have to agree on everything to be friends; in fact, many of my friends have different views than I.  The bottom line with me is, I don’t share my opinions because I’d much rather find common ground and be friends than not.

But…..and you knew there was a but coming…..it does bother me when the American Flag is disrespected and athletes choose to kneel during the National Anthem.  To me, the American Flag and the National Anthem represent the courage and sacrifice of the men and women that defend our country and freedom and equality for all.  Apparently I’m not alone because I found a couple coaches out there that weighed in on the recent debate:

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/03/08/watch-virginia-tech-basketball-coach-teaches-players-to-respect-the-national-anthem/

http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2016/09/13/jerry-jones-disappointing-nfl-players-protesting-national-anthem

While I was working on this post, I found an article that shared other ways to disrespect the American Flag.  Even though I knew that it should never be used as clothing, bedding, or drapery, I didn’t know it should never be used for advertising purposes.  Below is a link to article that you might find interesting:

http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2011/06/seven_ways_to_disrespect_the_a/

Here’s another interesting piece of information, A Cleaner World cleans American Flags for free – every day.  Remember, one of the ways to honor the American Flag and our country is to keep our country’s colors looking solid and strong.  Regularly cleaning your outdoor American Flag will cause it to both last longer and maintain its vivid colors longer than those that are not properly cared for.  If your flag needs some special attention, drop it by one of our locations, and we will consider it an honor to clean it for you – free of charge.    

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Deciphering Dress Codes

I firmly believe that choosing what to wear back in the 1950’s was much easier than what it is today.  Just think about it – women wore dresses and pearls everywhere, even while cleaning house, and men always wore suits.  No one ever got caught looking unkempt because no one ever left the house looking less than their best.  These days, I find myself running errands in yoga pants and flip flops with my hair in a ponytail; Mrs. Clever would have never done that.  Further there’s the whole party invitation thing that sometimes includes a dress code and sometimes doesn’t.  All this rambling leads me to this question – just what does smart casual, business casual, cocktail, and black tie really mean?
  • Smart Casual – a term I’ve only recently started hearing, and one that I think is incredibly vague.  After all, the interpretation is bound to differ person to person, so I’ll be honest and confess that I “googled” it.  It said, “Neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code.  Think of a smart casual outfit as one that you'd wear for a movie or dinner date."
  • Business Casual – something that I’ve written about several times, noting my disappointment with the fact that we’re taking this term way too far.  Business casual used to mean khakis and a polo shirt on Fridays.  Today, depending on what company you work for, it can mean jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops, but if someone indicates business causal, it is likely that they mean less formal than a traditional business suit, but still intending to give a professional impression.  I think khakis and a dress shirt fits the bill here.
  • Cocktail – by far the easiest thing to dress for, in my opinion.  Men can wear a nice, dark suit, and women have a plethora of options here from a traditional LBD to a lovely, elegant (but short) cocktail-type dress.  Be sure not to overdress and pick a floor length gown, and remember it is a bunch of people standing around drinking cocktails and enjoying canapes so a dress for clubbing is not appropriate here either.
  • Black tie – for men, this one is exceptionally easy; they simply wear a tux.  For women, on the other hand, it’s a little more difficult.  Tradition says to choose a full length gown, but as fashions change, I’m seeing lots more sources suggest formal separates, statement skirts, and dressy combos, as long as they go past the knee.  
But as Karl Lagerfeld said, “No one is over-dressed or underdressed in a Little Black Dress.”  I have 4 different but rather classic versions of the LBD, and whenever I am in doubt, I always go with one of them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Handling Grease Fires

Last month was Fire Prevention Month, and we shared tips on how to reduce the chance of a home fire throughout the month as well as through a blog post on a cooking-related fire.  While this is another post on a cooking-related fire, I felt it was important to share.  Read on and you’ll figure out why.

A customer was cooking something on the stove, using oil, and turned her back for just a moment, as we’ve all done.  When she turned back around it was on fire, so she called to her husband to help.  His instinct was to take the pan and get it out of the house.  As he grabbed the handle, his wife accidentally got in his way.  As a result, he stumbled and hot grease flew out of the pan, hitting them both, and causing the couple to both have third degree burns.

“Trying to move a fire outside is a common mistake and can cause serious injury and possibly lead the fire to spread,” explained Phyllis Taylor, A Cleaner World Roanoke’s Fire Restoration expert.  Phyllis went on to say that while cooking oils are not flammable, once they reach a certain temperature, they can ignite and burn rather intensely.  She has a particular set of cooking rules she absolutely lives by, and she shared them with me:
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, in working order, in your kitchen at all times.
  • When cooking, always have the lid that goes with the pan sitting nearby so you can use it to smother out a fire.
  • If you don’t have a fire extinguisher or a lid, you could try to use baking soda to put out the fire.
  • Never, ever take your eyes off, turn your back, or leave the room when cooking something.
  • Never pick up or move a pan that is on fire.
  • Don’t try to be a hero.  Fires can get out of control quickly.  If you feel a moment’s hesitation on what you should do – then just get out safely and call 911.
And as one final follow up, Mike Taylor, Phyllis's husband and Managing Partner of A Cleaner World Roanoke, added these words of wisdom: “A watched pot never burns.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Vintage Clothing

I said to my sister the other day: “Did you know that 80’s clothing is now considered vintage?”  The look on her face said it all, which made me burst into uncontrollable laughter; I couldn’t help myself.  I remember wearing all that stuff – big shoulder pads, skirts with leggings, crazy jewelry, very big hair, and blue eye shadow.  At the time, we thought we were ‘in-style’, and now I look back and think we just looked ridiculous.  But there’s actually value in vintage clothing.  There are lots of vintage pieces that can be worn at any time, and they still look just as lovely and elegant as the day they were first brought home by their original owner.  Furthermore, unlike the inexpensive clothing we seem to find out there today, vintage garments tend to increase in value over time.  That’s because they are made better than most clothes that are made today, plus you’re not going to see someone else walking down the street wearing the same dress as you.

So what exactly is ‘vintage’?  Vintage clothing is anything at least 25 years old, and any clothing item over 100 years old is considered antique.  I am the furthest thing from a vintage clothing expert; I just know what I love, and I absolutely love polka dots, black and white, and dresses from the 1950’s.  And if it’s all in one dress, then look out – I’m buying it. But if you’ve never purchased a vintage garment, then it can be a bit overwhelming.  So we’ve come up with a few basic tips to help you get started.
  • Look at these items to know that a garment was manufactured before the mid 1960’s -- metal zippers, side-snap closures, saw-toothed edges or pinked seams, and union labels printed in blue.
  • Two things have changed greatly over the years – sizing standards and undergarments.  Many times the appropriate undergarments make all the difference in ensuring that a garment actually fits correctly.  Some vintage garments may not look the same today if you don’t have the proper undergarment to wear with it.  It’s also important to point out here that if you just love something but it’s not proportioned just right, it is likely that you can have it tailored to give it a more custom-looking fit. 
  • Do research, know your eras, and make sure what you are choosing fits into your style.  This is so important.  Vintage items can be quite pricey, and you want to be sure you are making a purchase that is a good value.  This also means knowing whether the garment is in good condition or not.  Be sure to feel the fabric and make sure there is no cracking, pulling, or fading or that the fabric is fragile. 
  • There are lots of places to begin shopping – obviously online, but check out local auctions, vintage shops, flea markets…….and your grandmother’s attic.  There’s no telling what she has stored up there.  
If you decide to give it a try and you end up finding that perfect vintage garment that you simply cannot live without, but you see it needs a bit of TLC, drop it by one of our locations and let one of our trained staff members take a look at it.  We’d love to help you bring a treasure back to life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recycling Old Carpeting and Rugs

Too much ‘stuff’ makes me crazy.  I have lots of clothes, so when I buy new clothes or shoes, I try to purge the same number of items so my already large wardrobe doesn’t endlessly continue to grow.  Whenever Gray gets new toys, we see what he can ‘live without’.  Earlier this year, we decided to replace our like-new leather living room furniture with something more comfortable, and before we even purchased our new sectional, we’d already sold our current furniture, leaving the room empty for well over a month.

That’s how I like to roll – not letting our house explode at the seams.  But now we are talking about replacing some carpeting and a rug.  Before I could even think about what I want, I had to resolve an issue that would eat at me until I had an answer to this question: What will we do with the old stuff?

There is a group called Carpet America Recovery Effort that has an online tool with a map of recyclers that will take old carpeting.  Before just showing up with your old carpet, call first to see if there is a cost associated with recycling your carpet.  If you have a small amount or just a few scraps, you could put them to good use with these ideas:
  • Turn them into furniture movers.  Cut old carpet in small squares and place a square under dresser, bed, or chair legs and then pull the item across the floor instead of having to lift and carry.
  • Save your knees.  Roll up a piece and use it to kneel or sit on when gardening or doing yard work.
  • Create a comfy place for Fido by turning it into a bed for your dog.
  • Use it to clean the gunk, dust, and dirt in your window screens by dipping a piece into warm, sudsy water, and rub the pile side onto the screens.
  • Place scraps of carpet under the feet of laundry machines to reduce noise.
  • Use small pieces inside a dollhouse or even a playhouse or treehouse.
But before you decide to cut up your old rug, check into having it cleaned first to see if you can bring it back to life.  Our 6-step professional rug cleaning process helps extend the life of your rug by removing dirt that will scratch the rug’s fibers and leave your rug looking dull and lifeless.  To see if your rug can be saved, drop it by one of our locations or call Greg Henderson at 336-804-0045.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Avoiding Wedding Day Mistakes

Who remembers that movie with Jennifer Lopez called “The Wedding Planner”?  My favorite scene in the movie is when she opens her suit jacket to reveal this kit full of supplies – needles, thread, duct tape, breath freshener.  It’s sort of a cheesy movie, but I’ll admit loving it solely because of her ‘wedding preparedness kit’.  But the truth is, as much advanced planning as goes into a wedding, things will inevitably go wrong.

Just thinking back over the years, between my own wedding mistakes and others that I’ve had to experience, I’ve put together a little list of things to remember, four on the actual day, and one after. 
  1. Skip the horse and carriage.  One of my dearest friends had a horse and carriage drive her and her new husband from the church, through town, to the reception.  The wedding party followed along behind on a ‘hayride’.  It took so long to get to the reception that many folks left.  If your reception is at a different location, allow for drive time and photos, and offer your guests something to snack on while they wait.
  2. Invest in a professional photographer.  That’s something we didn’t do, and it is my one big wedding regret.  We had a small but lovely ceremony and Matt’s uncle and cousin took photos.  In retrospect, it seems unfair to have asked them to spend the day behind the camera, plus they weren’t exactly trained photographers.
  3. Make sure you can be seen.  My college roommate was incredibly shy, and when she got married, if she wasn’t holding her bouquet too high, she was sinking back into her veil.  If you choose to carry a large bouquet, make sure you are carrying it low enough so that when you look back at your photos, you can actually see your dress.  Same holds true for the veil.  Make sure it frames your face instead of hiding it. 
  4. On the big day, follow Mary Fiore’s (aka Jennifer Lopez) example and have a small emergency kit with a needle, thread, safety pins, scissors, hem tape, lint roller, stain stick, static guard, and baby powder nearby.  These items will help with most garment-related wedding day emergencies.  I can speak from personal experience.
  5. Don’t leave your gown hanging unclean in your closet, in a plastic poly bag, for 11 years.  Have your gown cleaned as soon as possible after your wedding.  The longer you wait to have it cleaned, the less likely it is that all the stains can be removed.  I’m fortunate that I didn’t ruin my gown by this careless move.
While many of these tips we can’t help you with, we can help you with the last two.  First, we can perform alterations and prepare your gown before your big day so that, hopefully, you won’t need to use your emergency kit.  Second, cleaning and preserving wedding gowns is one of our specialties.  To learn more, check out this article on Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preservation or stop by one of our locations to speak to a manager. 
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