Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Things You're Not Cleaning But Should Be

As if picking up the toys and dirty clothes around the house isn't enough, here's a few more items that need our attention. Thanks to Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute's resident cleaning expert, it's important we don't overlook these 10 areas if we truly want our homes to clean and germ free. 

1. Kitchen sponges
Soaking up bacteria is all in a day's work for your kitchen sponge, so unless you want to "clean" your dishes with a germy sponge, you need to disinfect or replace it regularly. The easiest way to disinfect - toss it in the dishwasher. 

2. Between appliances
There may only be an inch (or less) between your refrigerator and the countertop, but that crevice can trap a lot of dirt. Use a long duster or thin vacuum attachment to clean out all the nooks and crannies. Taking a toothpick and running it along any small creases is also a very good way to get the grime dislodged.

3. Reusable grocery bags
Cloth grocery bags are great for the environment, but they're no different than other fabrics in terms of care. Run your reusable bags through the washer regularly to remove any lingering food bacteria, turning them inside out before you toss them in. Pay attention to the bag's fabric when selecting a dryer setting.

4. Refrigerator bins and door shelves
You probably wipe down your fridge's interior shelving already, but don't forget about the rest. Regularly pop out the door shelves and bins, and wash in warm, soapy water to get rid of food bacteria and spillage.

5. On top of things
Out of sight, out of mind? Not so much. In addition to the top of the refrigerator, there are lots of other "tops" that need cleaning as well. Some common forgotten spots: the tops of light fixtures, cabinets, and the mouldings around doors and windows.

6. Ceiling fan
Speaking of being on top of things, just because you can't see the dust accumulating atop your ceiling fan blades doesn't mean it's not there. To keep the dirt from swirling around the air, Forte recommends using a duster like the Wool Shop's Lambswool Ceiling Fan Duster.

7. Small electronics
Did you know that your television remote is one of the dirtiest items in your home? Nowadays I'm sure the kid's iPad has to be a close second. How many times do you clean off the iPad? Or other small electronics like your cell phone and headphones? All those can can rack up tons of germs. Clean these items frequently with a disinfecting or alcohol wipe but make sure to use a cell phone-friendly cleaner.

8. Broom
Yes, you need to clean your cleaners. Brooms are great for getting rid of pesky dust bunnies, but in the process they can get trapped in the bristles. Swish the broom head around in warm, soapy water, or vacuum with a handheld attachment (then be sure to clean out the attachment).

9. Hats, scarves, mittens
Like any other piece of clothing, outerwear picks up dead skin and bacteria. Regularly run your hats, scarves, and cotton mittens through the washer. For leather gloves, wipe down with a leather cleaning wipe.

10. Gym bag
You wouldn't consider not washing your clothes after a tough workout, so don't forget about the bag that transports them. If your tote is machine-washable, toss it in the laundry frequently. For a bag that doesn't fit in a machine or can't be washed, wipe it down inside and out with a damp cloth and sprinkle in some baking soda to help absorb odors.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Crock-pot of the Future (plus 33 three ingredient meals!)

Crock-Pot Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo 6-Quart Slow Cooker 

I've said this before and I'll say it again -- I love the crock-pot. Wait. I should rephrase that. I love the idea of the crockpot. For some reason, I just don't use it like I should. And I know a lot of moms that feel the same. But I bet you have no clue that there is a crock-pot that can be told via smartphone what to do, when to do it.

Imagine being in a meeting or in the school pick up line and getting dinner started. Pretty rad if you ask me. With the free WeMo App you can adjust cooking time, temperature, turn on, shift to warm or turn off. Now that's how dinner should be done.

If you're needing some easy and effortless crock-pot meals, I love these 33 three ingredient slow cooker recipes from Totally The Bomb. With the Superbowl (GO SEAHAWKS!!!!) on Sunday, I think a must try is the Rootbeer Honey BBQ Wings. Yum!

As she says, "the crock-pot is a magical box that you put raw food in and wonderful meal pops out!" Why wouldn't we work these into our dinner rotation?!?!

To purchase the crock-pot above or read the rave reviews, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Homemade and Healthy: Superbowl Party Dips

Recipes via SHAPE
Throw on the table with a spread of veggies, pita wedges and blue chips and you've got a plethora of healthy options to munch on while the Seahawks crush the Patriots!

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Preview: Must Have Fashion Essentials

Hello from Idaho!!! The last six months have been absolutely nutty for my crew. As if four kids under six wasn't enough, I decided that it was time to move on from the everyday grind of Southern California. It was a fabulous eight years but after having the twin girls and being raised in WA, I desired something different for my family's future. I've got nothing but love for Southern California but it was time to get to a more affordable, slower pace of life. So here we are in Boise, Idaho!! The past three months have been such a breath of fresh air and everything we hoped it would be.

Sadly there are a few drawbacks to living here. A big one for me: No Nordstrom. But heck right now, all I do is stay bundled in a big jacket waiting for my blood to acclimate to winter weather so there's part of me that could care less. But I am learning to make due with the stores they do have and am getting more and more comfortable with shopping online. Luckily in Boise, I don't feel the pressure to keep up with what's hot on the runway but I do like to stay in the know of the up and coming trends. According to Glamour magazine, 2015 is predicted to be a pretty great year in fashion. Below are some of the essential items for a chic year ahead --

1) Striped Shirt

Praise the Lord this is hot because my entire closet is filled with stripes. While they say it's big for 2015, it's also so classic they predict it will be in the rotation forever. Style it with everything from a party skirt to blue jeans. Start a collection with your favorites and it will quickly become an obsession.

2) White Jeans

Again, happy to see this one! White jeans are back and more transitional than ever. While they're forever a summer favorite, they can be just as acceptable in the colder months. Layer with a chunky sweater and booties and your favorite white jeans become multi-season staples.

3) One Shoulder Dress

The one-shoulder dress is going to be a 2015 favorite. The shape has been in hibernation for a few years, and we can't wait to see it make a comeback. From the winter cocktail dress to the summer sundress, this trend is a must-have for the coming year.

4) Gingham Skirt

I never thought my mother's bridesmaid dress pattern would make it into the current fashion must have's but the gingham trend is also getting a reboot for 2015. Shop for a piece that dresses up the traditionally casual pattern. Our current favorites are made of the most feminine silk chiffon.

5) Pair of Menswear Flats

Unfortunate for my husband and his distaste for flats, flats are continuing their reign through the new year. If you haven't already stocked up, slip your toes into a more masculine loafer or brogue. There's something strong and modern about a more menswear-y style right now.

6) Sweater Dress

Knits are not only for sweaters. We spotted knit pants and tops in past seasons, but 2015 is going to be the year of the sweaterdress. Don't go too tight—this isn't meant to be a body-con situation. Opt for a style with a little more flare or tailoring to make it modern. 

7) Camel Coat

Classic camel continues to be a must-have neutral when it comes to outerwear. More exciting than basic black, this hue goes with every pattern and color under the sun—definitely worth the investment. Notice her shoes in this picture -- see #5.

8) Classic Trench

For slightly warmer days, make this the year you finally invest in a trench coat if you don't already own one. Whether you pick up a less expensive option or decide that it's worth the splurge, you can't get more versatile than a tan trench coat.

9) Evening Pants

Speaking of parties, 2015 is going to be the year of evening pants, we are sure of it. Whether you pick a high-waist style or a pair that's slung a bit lower, we are loving slightly roomier cuts with a bit more movement for a luxe, flattering look. 

10) Denim Dress

The hottest denim silhouette for the new year is...drumroll, please...the dress! Traditionally boxier in style, a denim dress works with sky-high heels for a night out or with moto boots for a Saturday morning. 

11) Gladiator Sandals

For summer, make sure you have a pair of gladiator sandals on hand. Though recent years' styles have trended toward a more minimalist version, more bold straps and ties are coming back with fervor for this year's warm-weather months.

12) Boho Tunic

I'm a big fan of this style! On the heels of last season's fringed suede bohemian style, this summer's look is a little looser and more hippie-chic. Whether it's a maxi skirt or flowy cotton tunic, you're going to want a '70s-inspired piece when summer comes.

13) Retro Polo 

If boho summer styles aren't your thing, retro prep is definitely something to dive into for 2015. One of our favorite staples is the crisp polo shirt. Be it color-block or striped, traditional cotton or a thicker sweater knit, stock up on the style as the new year begins.

14) Tailored Shirtdress

Shirtdresses are here to stay this year, and we couldn't be happier. What makes 2015's silhouettes modern is the tailoring. Asymmetrical hems, nipped-in waists, and elegant midcalf lengths make this band of cotton dresses much more thoughtful than last year's oversize boyfriend style.

15) Chic Carryall

The carryall bag that's both on trend and practical can be hard to find, but designers are coming to the rescue with chic, oversize bag options that don't stick out as too casual. Grab a luxe tote-size carryall in buttery soft leather or velvety suede. The style is large enough to hold your life within it but chic enough to take with you everywhere.

16) Ruffles

Ruffles are the epitome of feminine charm, but you don't want to look like you're wearing a bad '80s prom dress. In the new year, wear ruffles with simple hemlines, understated peplums, and tiny accenting trims. Don't go for anything too structured or stiff with this trend—it's all about movement.

To see the entire list, click HERE.