Monthly Archives: March 2012
Back to my nasty bathroom sink. Just in case you forgot what it looked like, here it is.
After my post about getting rust stains of a porcelain sink, I got a few helpful comments from readers. Thank you so much for those! It’s so fabulous to get helpful hints from people across the country and even around the world. Let me pass some of them on!
One idea from Cleaninup Kate was to use cream of tartar along with some hydrogen peroxide if the stains are particularly bad. I did give that a shot since I had both of those products on hand. It worked a little but I think my sink was too far gone for a home remedy. On to the big guns!
Another reader alerted me to some products that she had used when she was living in northern Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes and 10,000 gallons of hard water. She mentioned Red-B-Gone as well as Whink Stain Remover, both of which can be purchased online. Check out the Pro Products website or the Whink Products website if you are interested.
The last product that she mentioned, we actually already had hiding down in our basement. Iron Out. Why haven’t I used it before? I have no idea! The fumes can be a bit much so make sure that you have adequate ventilation.
This is a powder that can be used on many things including toilets, sinks, showers, the dishwasher and in your laundry. I first wet the sink and a scrubbing brush, then sprinkled some powder on the brush. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed (let me tell you, I worked up a sweat the way I was scrubbing!).
Now it’s looking a lot better although it still needs some more Iron Out-ing sometime when I have regained my energy.
Thanks again to all my helpful readers! I appreciate any helpful hints and tips that you have for me!
You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments or tips about organizing, cleaning, cooking, decorating or crafts and do-it-yourself projects.
We had our first honest-to-goodness thunderstorm yesterday, complete with tons of lightning and hail. I cannot believe this March weather! The grass is a shade greener from all that rain, and the tree outside the window I am sitting next to has beautiful dark red buds. Who knows? Maybe it will soon be time to think about planting flowers, herbs and vegetables as well as getting our landscaping into shape. I’m sure we can create some beautiful landscaping with our large country lot, mature trees, and our lake and lake cottage. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
Much as I would love to drone on and on about landscaping, I’d better do what I actually promised and give you a couple tips for speeding up your web browsing. Not quite as exciting, right? Think of it this way. The faster you get your web browsing done, the sooner you can get outside into the beautiful weather! (That’s stretching it, I know.)
Of course, your first thought regarding slow internet browsing may be to increase your connection speed. However, there are a couple free options that you can try first.
First, are you using the latest web browser? Go to www.whatbrowser.org to find out if you have the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. Many people like Google Chrome since it has been shown to work up to fifty percent faster than other browsers. I must confess though that I am still an Internet Explorer girl.
Second, how long do you save your browsing history? To check or change this, select Internet Options under Tools on your browser. Next select settings on the General page and change the browsing history to the number of days that you wish.
Third, how many add-ons do you have running? You can check this under Internet Options as well. Select the Programs tab, then click Manage Add-ons.
I hope these tips speed up your life a little!
I don’t know about you, but I sure do like homemade banana bread (which is pretty strange since I’m not all that fond of bananas themselves)! If I have bananas in the house that didn’t get eaten when they were the perfect yellow color, they typically get made into bread… or chocolate banana milk shakes, which is a different post entirely.
So, I’ll bet you’ve guessed it already, but I have a few bananas hanging around in my fruit basket just begging to get mashed. Here’s my spin on banana bread that gives it a nuttier taste and a healthier vibe.
A couple notes. This recipe makes two loaves. Also, I have cut the amount of sugar in half from what would be a normal amount. It still tastes great with the natural fruit sugars, but if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add a bit more.
Banana Nut Bread with Streusel Topping
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 eggs, beaten
2 – 2 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (about 6 large bananas)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cooking oil (canola or olive)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3 Tbs. cold butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. packed brown sugar
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (first 8 ingredients).
In a mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas, eggs, sugar, butter and oil on low speed until combined.
Add the dry ingredients all at once. Stir together just until moistened.
Fold in walnuts.
Pour batter into two greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.
In another bowl, cut the cold butter into the brown sugar and flour until it looks like coarse crumbs. Spoon this streusel topping over both loaves.
Bake loaves in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on racks for ten minutes before removing the bread from pans. Store in the refrigerator after cooling.
If you’d like to print this recipe out as a recipe card, you can download this Word document below.
Today, you get two posts for the price of one since I skipped out yesterday. Too much to do around the house! As we Minnesotans say, “Uffda!”
As for cleaning tips… I keep seeing recipes all over the place for make-them-yourself household cleaners. I’ve used some that are great and that do the job for a lot cheaper than their store-bought counterparts. (For example, check out my previous post about cleaning around the house with white vinegar.) I saw one recently though that I had never tried. It was pretty simple.
Supplies? Baking soda and a scrubbing brush.
Apparently, baking soda is supposed to make a great scouring powder for bathroom sinks and toilets. We decided to give it the ultimate test in our home. Our one-hundred-year-old home has quite the issues with iron in the water… to the point that you can smell it when you are running the hot water. We use a water softener with special salt for iron and we use another additive in the softener on top of that. So there’s no telling how bad it could be without these measures. Despite all this, we still deal with rust deposits in our sinks, toilets and shower. One of our more frequent battles is with the upstairs sink. Check out this impressive orange color.
My husband decided to give the baking soda a try.
Here’s the finished look. Now, if you don’t mind having an orange sink, the baking soda did get rid of the soap scum and dirt.
He then decided to follow up with our usual Comet Cleanser. It definitely looked better after that although we still have a ways to go to get rid of all the orange. My conclusion – baking soda is a great scouring powder for your general dirt and soap scum and is certainly a cheap solution but probably won’t do great with long-term stains!
Do any of you deal with majorly rusty water and have some great ways to clean stained sinks and toilets? I would welcome any hints!
Here’s a super quick look at some DIY I’ve been doing. Over the years, much of my furniture has gotten nicked up from moving, cat clawingand general living. I had previously used some basic furniture markers but had never been terribly impressed with them.
This time I decided to drop a little more money on a better product. I purchased a Minwax stain marker. Thankfully, most of my furniture is a dark stain so I was able to get just one marker for under $6. I purchased the Dark Walnut color. This marker has absolutely saved some of my furniture! While it certainly doesn’t fill in dented wood, I think it makes it look a thousand times better. I had spilled some of the liquid from a scented plug-in as well as some nail polish on my nightstand which had then gone through the polyurethane and stain to reveal the bare wood. I thought I would simply have to refinish it at some point, but now it looks so much better that I can’t even tell the wood was damaged unless I get really close. You should try the stain marker out if you need to do little repairs or small projects!
Check out the before and after on my coffee table. Certainly not perfect, but much better than before!
Have a great St. Patrick’s Day weekend!
In the past, my patience has been severely frustrated by how slow my computer would get. It would take an eternity to open up more than a couple programs or it would freeze easily. Web pages would load insanely slowly. Sometimes my patience level is not as high as I would like it to be. Besides, technology is supposed to make our lives easier and faster, right? I’ll bet most of you know some of these tricks of the trade but perhaps some of you will appreciate this. (I use Windows 7 so sorry to all you Mac users.)
1. Clean-up files.
In your control panel, type “disk cleanup” and choose “Free up Disk Space by Deleting Unnecessary Files” under “Performance Information and Tools.” Next, select the drive that you want to clean up and click ok. It will scan your computer and come up with a variety of files that could be deleted, for example, temporary internet files and files in your recycle bin. I usually delete these as well as the offline web pages. Select those you wish to delete and click ok.
2. Defragment your hard drive.
Defragmenting your hard drive takes small files and folder and internally “re-files” them. Just like at an office, where filing and organizing papers helps the office become more efficient, so is defragmenting. To do this, open your control panel and type “defragment” in the search box. Then click on the defragmentation link. You can also choose to have scheduled defragmentation on this window.
3. Install a reputable internet security program.
Once upon a time, I used Norton Anti-Virus, which is certainly a reputable company. However, even though it scanned my computer top to bottom daily, my computer became quite slow. It was then that I heard about AVG Internet Security. I uninstalled Norton after downloading and installing AVG and… guess what?!? AVG found 18 Trojan horses on my comuter among other things. After cleaning all those up, my computer worked beautifully again. I have only ever used the free version of AVG which suits my purposes just fine, but they also have more involved paid versions as well.
4. Uninstall unnecessary programs.
Every once in awhile, I look at the full list of programs and files that are installed on my computer. Sometimes I see a program that I have no use for and that I can regain space on my hard drive by uninstalling. This is especially true of all those annoying toolbars that somehow seem to sneak onto my computer in the small print of other programs.
Hope you’re having a happy Tuesday!
I made this delicious bread last week for two reasons. I had some fresh blueberries that needed to be used up. Also, I wanted to make something yummy that wasn’t an actual dessert. Enjoy this great bread bursting with blueberries with a little butter or even plain.
This recipe was originally from an old copy of Taste of Home magazine but I tweaked it a bit to match the ingredients that I had on hand and to match my own personal tastes. So here’s a look at my version!
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
3 1/3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/4 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen)
1. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, eggs and lemon juice until well mixed.
2. Combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture alternately with the milk, mixing after each addition.
3. Fold in the walnuts and blueberries.
4. Pour into a greased 8 x 4 bread pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool bread for ten minutes before removing it from the pan to a wire rack.
Click here if you would like this recipe in a printable 3 x 5 inch recipe card format.