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Hey!  Welcome to Home on Tuesday, where every Tuesday I scour the internet to find great tips on design, cleaning, automobiles, organization, and more!  Please note that I will be out of town tomorrow and so Working Wednesday will be postponed until next week.  Please subscribe to Life Lists’ RSS feed so you can be updated each time there is a new post!  Please feel free to leave your comments, even if it is to say hello!  I see you are coming by, so don’t be shy, just say hello! 🙂  See you on Thursday!  Enjoy!

1. Brighten up the dreary days of winter by planting pre-season blooms!  HGTV shows you just the plants to use.

2. Think you can’t decorate because of the economy?  Well, the Budget Decorator begs to differ!  Find unique ideas for decorating, organizing, gardening, and more!  And you can sign up for a free budget decorating newsletter.

3. Cleaning a home thoroughly can be painstakingly exhausting.  So Stepcase Lifehack has provided 150 tips and tricks on cleaning everything from carpets to vinyl records.

4. Extend the life of your electronics with tips from Real Simple.

5. And while you are at it, learn how to extend the life of your mattress, as well, with the help of Eco Salon.

6. The Daily Green and the American Lung Association show you 25 ways to keep the air quality in your home safe.

7. Everyone wants to go greener these days- whether you care about the future of the environment and a balanced ecosystem or just for the sake of cutting costs in the belly of a recession.  EcoHomeResource.com has a plethora of resources to help you achieve a greener living space from your kitchen to your nursery.

8. And, finally, don’t forget to take a look at the Innovative Project of the Week brought to you by Interior Design Magazine.  This week’s project was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and is for the California Academy of Sciences.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s links!  Leave a comment and let me know which one(s) were most helpful to you.  You could see more of the same in a future Home on Tuesday!

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This is the first post for Home on Tuesday, part of the new weekly schedule here at Life Lists.  I was going to add this first article I linked to as the post for today, but found it was more user-friendly on their own site.  Plus, I found a couple of other articles I couldn’t wait to share with you.  So, here you go!  Hope you find something useful!

1. Check out these deliciously creative ways to showcase your collectibles in your home from Better Homes and Gardens, whether the collections are family heirlooms or baseball memorabillia.

2. Where you live depends greatly upon how you plant and cultivate your garden.  Get gardening tips specific to your geographic location from Lowe’s (U.S. only).

3. It’s on nearly everyone’s minds these days.  Gasoline is expensive and in a lot of cities and towns in the U.S. (and, indeed, around the world), cars are a must because of the lack of public transportation (or where I live, even sidewalks).  So, how can we be greener if we can’t give up our cars?  Ethenol, perhaps?  Well, the hosts at About.com’s Hybrid Cars & Alt Fuels try to get to exactly what is Ethenol, and the pros and cons of its use.

4. Take a look at the Innovative Project of the Week, brought to you by Interior Design Magazine.  This week’s project was designed by Barker Nestor.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for Working Wednesday!  You can also subscribe to Life Lists’ RSS feed by clicking on the icon in the top right corner of the page, above the banner.


The New Weekly Schedule:

Relationships Monday

Home on Tuesday

Working Wednesdays

Fit & Healthy Thursdays

Fun Friday Lists

Stress-Free Saturdays

A Spot of Sunday Creativity

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This list originally published at HowtoCleanStuff.net.

#1. The Bathtub

You know you’ve been putting off cleaning the tub. It’s not the most fun job, but oh so necessary! We use the shower and bathtub to remove all the dirt and grime each day. While it seems all this would get washed down the drain, the bacteria lingers making your bathtub more dangerous than the toilet when it comes to bacteria. It won’t take long and it’s not very difficult, here’s all you need to do:

What You Will Need:

  • Bathroom cleaner (make sure it’s safe for the material your bathtub is made of)
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Spray the entire bathtub with the bathroom cleaner.
  2. Use the soft bristled brush to scrub away any build-up.
  3. If soap scum is being stubborn, the Magic Eraser is your secret weapon. You’ll be amazed at how easily it removes all kinds of dirt with very little effort!
  4. Rinse with clean water.
  5. Enjoy! If you clean the tub just once a week it will be much faster than cleaning it every couple of weeks.

2. The Kitchen Drain

We know germy the kitchen sink can be and how important it is to keep it clean, and we do. So where is that smell coming from? Chances are it’s the goop that’s collected in your drain. Here’s a couple of tricks to remove odors from the drain.

What You Will Need:

  • Baking soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Hot Water
  • Bowl or pitcher

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by running very hot water through the drain to flush out any loose debris.
  2. Next, you have several options.
    1. Pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain and wash it down with hot water.
    2. Pour 1 cup of vinegar or lemon juice down the drain and let it set for 30 minutes. Then flush it down the drain with hot water.
    3. To prevent grease build-up, make a strong salt brine and pour that down the drain.
  3. Chemical cleaners are always an option, but should be used more sparingly. For a more eco-friendly cleaner, pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Wash it down with ½ cup of vinegar. This will immediately cause a foaming and fizzing reaction. This is good. Let this set for a few minutes and rinse with hot water.

#3. The Telephone

We use it everyday, and chances are you’ve wiped it on your shirt a time or two to remove the dirt, but have never really cleaned it. We spread so many germs when we’re talking, it’s amazing the filth that builds up on the phone. Add in the lotions, make-up and body oils and you’ve got a real need to clean.

What You Will Need:

  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Soft cloths

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by wiping down the entire phone with a disinfectant wipe, removing as much dirt as possible.
  2. Slightly moisten the cotton swabs with rubbing alcohol and use them clean dirt from the nooks and crannies such as in between the numbers, around the caller ID window, etc.
  3. Dry with a soft cloth and you’re good to go.

#4. Your Toothbrush

We use our toothbrush to remove all the gunk and germs from our mouth each day, so it’s no wonder it gets a little nasty itself. Here’s some easy ways to clean and disinfect your toothbrush.

What You Will Need:

  • Alcohol (concentrated, not the diluted type)
  • Listerine (optional)
  • Small bowls
  • Old toothbrush
  • Mild dish detergent

The Cleaning Process:

  1. The first thing to do is always wash your hands before handling your toothbrush, that will dramatically cut back on the amount of germs.
  2. Begin by washing your toothbrush daily by running it under hot water and using pressure when rubbing the bristles. Using toothpaste everyday is also helpful.
  3. You can disinfect your toothbrush several different ways, the easiest of these is to soak it in mouthwash (one that contains alcohol) for 30 seconds.
  4. You can also boil it for a few minutes or place it in the dishwasher. (if you have a plastic toothbrush, place it on the top rack so it doesn’t melt)
  5. These methods will greatly reduce the germs and bacteria that live in your brush. Now won’t you feel a little better about brushing your teeth tonight?

#5. The Remote Control

So many of us can’t live without it, so let’s give it the care it deserves.

What You Will Need:

  • Alcohol (concentrated, not the diluted type)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectant wipes

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by wiping the outer casing with a disinfectant wipe.
  2. Dampen the cotton swab slightly with rubbing alcohol and wipe away any dirt from tiny crevices and around the buttons.
  3. Continue scrubbing with a clean cotton swab each time until the dirt is gone. Depending on the amount of build-up, you may need to use several.
  4. Dry any remaining alcohol with the paper towels and it’s ready to use.

#6. Computer Keyboard and Mouse

Dust, crumbs, dirt, and many other items make their way under your keys leading to a small colony of germs growing beneath your fingertips. Use this simple method to remove the dirt and clean up your keyboard.

What You Will Need:

  • Lint free cloths
  • Can of compressed air
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment
  • Small bowl
  • Water

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Start by turning your keyboard over and gently tapping the back to knock out any loose dirt.
  2. Take the keyboard outside if possible along with the can of compressed air. Direct the can at the spaces in between the keys and blow the dirt loose. Turn the keyboard over and shake out the loosened dirt.
  3. Fill the bowl half full with water and add a small amount of dish detergent. Mix until suds form.
  4. Slightly moisten the cloth in the water and use it to gently wipe any dirt off of the keys. If your keys are not very dirty, plain water may be enough. Dry with another cloth.
  5. Use the vacuum with the soft brush attachment to remove any remaining dirt from inside the keyboard.
  6. Now for your mouse, wipe it down with the soft cloth that as moistened with the soapy water.
  7. If your mouse has a ball inside, unlock the cover, remove the ball and clean it with the soft cloth. You may also want to clean inside the cavity where the ball was as dirt quickly collects there.
  8. Replace the ball and cover, and dry the entire mouse with a dry cloth.

#7. Wooden Cutting Board

Wooden cutting boards are great for chopping and dicing, but when it comes to bacteria and stains, they seem act like a sponge. These boards can be a breeding ground for germs if not cleaned regularly. Here’s how:

What You Will Need:

  • Dish detergent
  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Soft cloths
  • Mineral oil
  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Hydrogen peroxide

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by cleaning the board off with hot, soapy water. Do not immerse the board in water or it will absorb the water and crack when it dries.
  2. Next, you want to disinfect the board to remove any dangerous bacteria. There are several ways to do this:
    1. Use a soft cloth to wipe the board down with white vinegar.
    2. Use soft cloths to wipe the board down with vinegar then wipe again with hydrogen peroxide.
    3. Mix a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach with one quart of water. Drench the top of the board with the solution and let it set for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly with a clean cloth and clean water. Allow to air dry or dry with a towel.
  3. Remove stains by covering with salt and rubbing with a lemon. Rinse and dry.
  4. Once a week, apply some mineral oil to a soft cloth and rub onto the board in the direction of the grain. Allow this to soak in then remove any remaining oil with a clean cloth. The oil will fill the pores of the wood and prevent other liquids from being absorbed.

#8. Behind Appliances

Out of sight, out of mind – these areas are often the most neglected areas, but so necessary to clean. Pull them out and you’ll be shocked at what all you’ll find.

What You Will Need:

  • Mop
  • Kitchen cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Floor cleaner
  • Sponge or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • Partner to help move the appliances
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Vacuum with hose attachment

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by having someone help you pull the appliances away from the wall. Never attempt to do this yourself as they can be very heavy and could fall over causing serious injury.
  2. Begin by unplugging any plugs that may be hanging in the way and assess the yuck you find back there to determine your plan of action. Most likely you want to start by vacuuming the dust and dirt build-up. The hose attachment is especially helpful for this.
  3. Use the kitchen cleaner to scrub away any dirt or food splatters that have fallen between the cabinets and the appliance. Be sure to clean both the walls of the cabinets as well as the sides of the appliances. For removing stubborn build-up, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will be a useful tool.
  4. Next fill the bucket with water and floor cleaner. Use the mop to clean the floor area that was underneath the appliance.
  5. When the entire area is clean, have your helper assist with pushing the appliance back into place.

#9. The Top of the Refrigerator

Another place that’s often out of site out of mind, this spot seems to be a “collect-all” in many homes for more than just dust.

What You Will Need:

  • Spray cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Box

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by removing all the miscellaneous items that many of us place on top of the fridge and put them in a box. You can organize or replace them later.
  2. Spray the cleaner all over the top of the fridge.
  3. Carefully wipe the layer of dust and dirt into the paper towel. Try not to wipe it onto the floor as it will just cause another mess.
  4. Repeat as necessary until you find the top of your fridge and all the dirt is gone.

#10. Doorknobs

They’re most likely one of the last items you think to clean yet one that needs it the most. Fortunately, cleaning them is a snap.

What You Will Need:

  • Disinfectant wipes

The Cleaning Process:

  1. The best way to clean and remove germs from doorknobs is just to wipe them down really well with disinfectant wipes. Can’t get much easier than that!

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Gardening does not have to be an expensive hobby.  You can garden on a tight budget, all you need is time and effort.  Here are 10 tips for gardening frugally from Katie on pennywise.

1. Go organic. Organic is the best way to go and believe it or not, it is cheaper to go organic than it is to use various chemicals and fertilizers. Use organic methods of pest control such as broken egg shells to deter slugs. Use organic compost which these days is no more expensive than ordinary compost. Soak used tea leaves and use the water and leaves for your plants. Look out for more organic and cheaper ways to keep those greens healthy and flowering!

2. You don’t need expensive pots. Container and tub gardens are not only a great way for children to start experimenting with gardening but also for space saving and for gardening on a budget. Old Pain barrels any tub shaped container really can work as a pot. Try gardening with creative containers. Try wheelbarrows, tool boxes, wagons and other things you have lying around your home. Drill holes in your container and add pebbles or stones before adding any soil to insure good drainage.

3. Start from seeds. Though it may sound like more work…seeds are a lot cheaper than buying saplings and small plants. One packet of tomato seeds is often equivalent to the price of one tomato start yet you get the potential of at least 30-40 plants in each packet. While it may take longer and require advance planning, starting the majority of your plants from seed can mean big savings. Plus its very rewarding to watch a plant grow from a seed right before your eyes. When planting seeds to grown on to seedlings, don’t fork out (excuse the pun!) loads of money for plant pots, use yogurt pots, toilet rolls and cut up kitchen rolls. You can also use butter tubs, fromage frais pots, mousse pots and more. Just make sure they are all thoroughly clean.

4. Shop end-of-season sales. It’s easy to remember to do this when shopping for clothes and other household items, but I forget the same goes for plants. You can get a great deal on outdoor plants and trees shopping at the end of the season. Even annuals that are almost out of season are a good buy. They won’t bloom again until next year, but for the savings you’re getting it’s worth it to plant them now and wait until next year to enjoy them. You can also get a great deal on fruit trees at the end of the season. Don’t forget to check out the sidewalks of grocery stores and neighborhood markets. They mark down the prices of plants significantly at the end of the season.

5. Don’t be fooled by cheap gardening tools. Don’t be fooled that cheap tools are a bargain, some times these can be a false economy as they are not strong enough and can break easily. Why not try borrowing some or even purchasing some good strong second hand tools. You can even try using empty butter tubs as a hand held shovel and spade. Use a rolling pin as a dibber, the possibilities are endless. But purchasing cheap tools that are of poor quality will cost you in the long run. You do not have to have all of the new garden tools. Your ancestors made do with little more than a hoe and a horse and plow.

6. Divide and transplant. It doesn’t take long for plants to start to take over your flower beds. Some herbs and daisies seem to creep inches through the flower bed each week. Instead of letting plants like these take over the flower bed, transplant them to another part of the yard or in another pot. Flowers like daisies are easy to dig out in big clumps and move around wherever you want them. In several years time, the investment of a few dozen flowers or flower bulbs can multiply into many times the amount you recently purchased.

7. Grow useful vegetables.  It’s easy to get carried away in vegetable gardens and get all caught up in having a little of this, and a little of that, often spending more than you intended to and growing vegetables that cost next to nothing at the grocery store when they’re in season. For example, green peppers in season you can get for 4 or more for $1. That’s why they maybe not worth it for you to grow them. Tomatoes, on the other hand, are definitely worth the effort and will save you some money in the summer.

8. Share, give, and receive. It’s fun to trade plants with friends and family. It’s easy to landscape your yard this way. Iris bulbs from one friend, grape vines from another, it adds up fast! From people looking to get the excess plants out of their yard. After your yard has had a few years to get established, you will be able to share also. This is the best way to plant your yard with no expense at all.

9. Use effective kitchen ingredients that control pests. You can use vinegar as an herbicide. Household vinegar or any other concentrations of acetic acid is very effective in killing weeds. Using vinegar as a weed killer is an organic, environmentally safe way to control the unwanted weeds in the garden premises. It is cost effective also. Wipe the leaves of your plant using a soft cloth with some lukewarm soapy water to keep away fungus and pests. Other ingredients in your kitchen that work well to prevent fungus and keep away insects and pests are lemon, mint oil, garlic and jalapeño peppers.

10. Sow more than you need. While planting seeds, sow more than you need. This was when you have extra seedlings you can either exchange them with friends for a a different plant or even sell them and make a few bucks.

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1. Toothbrush– Before cooking fresh ears of corn, use the bristles of an unused brush to dig out stray silk threads stuck between the kernels.

2. Sponge– Sponges aren’t just for wiping up spills! Another use is to keep potting soil in place.  Simply trim a sponge to a square slightly larger than the drainage hole of a pot.  Put the sponge over the hole before filling the pot with soil.  Excess water drains out, but the soil stays in!

3. Straightening Iron– Use a straightening iron to smooth in between buttons where a regular iron doesn’t fit.  It also works well on collar creases and minor wrinkles.

4. Toilet Paper Roll– Take an extension cord and coil it no more than 1 and 1/2 inches thick.  Then slide the extension cord through the tube for tidy, tangle-free cords that won’t come unwound.

5. Shower Caddy– Store extra supplies in your laundry room, pantry, or garden shed.  Use the dead space around the doorknob when the the shelves and cabinets can’t take anymore.

6. Dish Rack– Organize children’s coloring books and art supplies in a dish rack.  Stack the books like plates, between the prongs.  Store markers, crayons, and pencils in the utensils caddy.

7. Coat Rack– Use a coat rack to store your most-loved (and most frequently worn) necklaces and bracelets within easy reach.  The best part is the tangle-free baubles will decorate your wall when not decorating your neck.

8. Newspaper– Deodorize food containers by balling up newspaper and stuffing it into a lunch box or thermos.  Then seal it and let it sit overnight.

9. Oven Cleaner– To remove paint or varnish from wooden or metal furniture, try oven cleaner.  It costs less than commercial strippers and is easier to apply (if you spray it).  Always test in an inconspicuous spot first.  After applying, scrub off the old paint with a wire brush.  Neutralize the stripped surface with vinegar, then wash it off with water.  Allow to dry.  Warning: Never use oven cleaner on antique or expensive furnishings- it may darken wood or discolor metal.

10. Sand– Fill a large bucket with builder’s sand and pour in a liter of motor oil.  Plunge spades, hoes, rakes, and other tools into the sand a few times to clean them and lubricate them.  To prevent rust, you can leave the tool blades in the sand for storage.

These tips have been collected from the following sources: ABC News archives, Real Simple magazine, and the UK news site, The Guardian.

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Make the most of your bathroom, regardless of size, with our seven solutions for bathroom organization.

by Caren Baginski for HGTV

1. Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

Make your medicine cabinet a repository of things you need and use regularly, which means chucking any outdated medicines and relocating excess to another location. “The way to achieve a clean countertop is to change the use of the medicine cabinet,” says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out (www.juliemorgenstern.com). “They are better used for everyday groomed supplies rather than medicines.”

Keep like items in their own labeled storage bins underneath the sink or in the linen closet. When you need to use something, slide the whole container out for easy access. You might choose to move medicines into the kitchen, because moisture can ruin them. By creating “active” storage in your medicine cabinet you’ll minimize time spent in the bathroom, giving you more time to organize another space in the house!

2. Control Hair Product Clutter

Gels, sprays, curlers, combs and hair dryers take up a lot of space in the bathroom. For quick organization, buy a plastic tub for under the sink and load it up with your supplies. As you place them in the tub, evaluate whether you use the product often. If not, donate it to a friend or to charity. When you fix your hair, the whole tub can be taken out and put away without creating a mess.

3. Add Creative Towel Storage

If your towel rack isn’t big enough to hang the family’s towels, add hooks to the bathroom. Towel hooks are inexpensive, easy to mount and create a space for each member of the family to hang their towel. No more fighting over whose is whose, plus your bathroom floor will remain dry, not damp.

4. Divide and Conquer Your Makeup

Drawers in the bathroom tend to be catch-alls for lots of different containers, most of which badly organize their contents. An expandable cosmetic drawer organizer fits in a shallow drawer and takes the place of bulky cosmetic bags. Different size compartments will organize lipstick, blush and eye shadow so you never have to root around to find what you’re looking for. As you organize your makeup, be sure to throw away anything that smells or is expired. Old makeup contains bacteria that can irritate your skin.

5. Reassess the Shower Caddy

It’s your best friend when you’re in the shower, but is it working for you? Shower caddies that are too small or too large can be a pain, both for cleaning you and your shower. There are plenty of options: from over the showerhead to suction shelves to corner caddies. If you don’t have enough room, one solution is to pare down your toiletries (How many bottles of shampoo do you really need?). If you have too much, consider downsizing so you don’t feel like you have to fill up the extra space.

6. Claim the Space Over Your Toilet

Even in small bathrooms there’s space for organization — you just have to know where to look. Over the toilet bath furniture is a great place to put extra toilet paper, toiletries and even towels. If you don’t keep the toilet seat down, opt for a unit with cabinets or closed shelving. You can find attractive shelving at major home stores, usually for less than $100.

7. Add Style and Function With Apothecary Jars
If you have a lot of counter space, and don’t mind leaving things out in the open, invest in some stylish apothecary jars to hold necessities. Q-Tips, cotton swabs, soap and bath salts look great in clear glass containers. These are especially handy when guests use your bathroom because they can help themselves without snooping in your cabinets.

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