Monday, December 29, 2014

MONDAY SOLUTIONS: Packing Up Your Christmas Decorations

MONDAY SOLUTIONS:  Packing Up Your Christmas Decorations

7 Tips for Packing Up Your Holiday Decorations for Next Year

7 Tips for Packing Up Your Holiday Decorations for Next Year
(You don’t want your decorations to look like this. Credit: Thinkstock)
After the last gift is unwrapped, the Christmas cookies are eaten, and the last houseguest heads home, it’s time for the depressing task of packing up all the holiday decorations.
“Sure, taking down the decorations is depressing. But it’s a lot less depressing when you open up the box next year and everything is in good condition and ready to be put up,” says Kate Mattison, the holiday d├ęcor designer for Avant Gardener, an Atlanta garden and landscape design company. Mattison should know: during November and December she and her team put up dozens of trees for both commercial and residential spaces… and come January, they’re charged with taking them all down and storing it away.
We asked Mattison for her best advice for keeping fragile ornaments intact, light strands untangled, and ribbons unkinked. Here are her tricks of the trade:
  1. Invest in large plastic tubs for seasonal storage. “But not too large,” cautions Mattison, “you don’t want them to be hard to lift.” Mattison advises labeling the exterior of the tubs with the contents or in what part of the house the decorations go. She suggests buying all the same kinds of tubs so they can stack easily, and they’ll nest while empty.
  2. To keep ribbons – especially the wired kind – fresh and uncreased, save the spools so you can roll it back up. If you’ve already discarded the spools, you could cut up paper towel rolls. And for ribbon bows, stuff wads of tissue paper in the loops so they will keep their shape while in storage. Mattison stores her ribbon in zip-top bags to protect them from moisture.
  3. For fabric items — table linens, tree skirts, stockings, and the like — launder them before putting them away for the season; you’ll have a better chance of getting stains out than if they sit in storage a year. Make sure they’re completely dry before packing them up, and store them, folded neatly, in oversized zip-top bags or in vacuum bags.
  4. There doesn’t seem to be one foolproof way to keep strands of holiday lights from getting tangled. Mattison rolls them like a ball of yarn, ending with the plug. “This way it’s easy to plug them in next year, to check to see if the lights work,” she says. The rolled-up balls of lights also take up less space.
  5. For fragile ornaments, Mattison suggests saving the original packaging for storage. Barring that, save tissue paper and bubble wrap from holiday deliveries and gifts. Wrap each ornament in tissue paper and put a layer of bubble wrap between layers of wrapped ornaments. Store the most delicate ornaments on top so that the weight of other items in the box won’t crush them. As for the ornament hooks, Mattison says she likes to leave them attached to the ornaments, especially if they’re securely attached. It’s more convenient than trying to untangle a jumble of hooks the next year.
  6. If you have a real Christmas tree, you’ll scatter fewer needles throughout your house if you lay it on a tarp or old sheet and wrap it up before removing it from your house. Look for a localChristmas tree recycling program so your tree can be turned to mulch. For artificial trees, Mattison suggests investing in a good-quality storage bag, which will protect your tree from damage. If possible, store it upright so that the branches won’t get matted down.
  7. As you’re packing away, be sure to pack the items in the order in which you’ll need them, for easy access next year. For instance, store the tree skirt and the strand lights in a tub on top of the ornaments, since you’ll need them first.
 If you follow these tips, you’ll be thanking yourself next year at the beginning of the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Crafty Wednesday: Making a Christmas Tree Napkin

Crafty Wednesday:  Making a Christmas Tree Napkin 

Learning this Christmas tree napkin fold technique really upped my holiday table setting game and I'd like to spread the (napkin) joy. The following super simple steps result in nothing less than a modern, classy, and I can't help but say it,adorable way to work your napkins into the dinner mix.
Let's get started!
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Step 1: Supplies

All you need are perfectly square green* napkins. I prefer to use 100% natural fibers like cotton or linen, but using a poly/cotton blend won't make any difference to the success of the folds.
I like to iron my napkins before I get to folding. This is optional, but results in a crisper looking tree.
*These would still look great in any other color!

Step 2: Fold the napkin in half

Make sure the corners are lining up and smooth out any wrinkles.

Step 3: Fold it in half again

Again, make sure the corners are all lining up with each other. Smooth it out and spin it around so that all the outside corners are facing you.

Step 4: Fold the corners up one at a time

Stagger each corner like pictured. Aaaand smooth.

Step 5: Flip the napkin over

Gently slide your hand under the napkin, sandwich it between your hands, and flip it over.

Step 6: Fold both outer corners to their opposite sides

One at a time, fold each upper outside corner over to the opposite side's edge, so that the tops are parallel with you and you've formed a tidy downwards pointing triangle-ish shape.

Step 7: Flip it again

Flip the folded napkin over again.

Step 8: Fold 'em UP

Starting at the top, fold each flap up. Tuck the second through the fifth flap up under the one above it, hiding the pointed corner.
Nice job, the hard work is done!

Step 9: Place and Primp

Once you've set the table, place the napkins on the empty plates and make sure all their folds are still in place.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday's Jewelry Spotlight Features "Geneva's Sky"

Tuesday's "Jewelry Spotlight" Features GENEVA'S SKY

 As you can see, our items are autism themed. We are raising our little girl with autism and finding opportunities to spread awareness and acceptance. As a couple, we have made these products to maybe start a conversation, show someone appreciation, or support people who are affected by autism. A portion of our proceeds will be donated to autism research. If You are doing a fundraiser please contact us we would be more than willing to help .All hand-crafted Autism awareness jewelry and candles. Help spread awareness, get people talking, change a perception. Beautiful things for beautiful people. Always free shipping ..Thank you for stopping by.
  • Joined April 26, 2014

Favorite materials

Please visit Geneva's Sky at:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Solutions: How to Clean That Gunky Vent Hood Filter

Monday Solutions:  How to Clean That Gunky Stove Hood Filter


Today’s post is going to AMAZE you….and at the same time probably GROSS YOU OUT a little. You’ve been forewarned.
I didn’t start out my day with the intention of grappling with this particularly onerous task…but as is often the case with me, one thing led to another and there I was, off on one of my cleaning tangents. Of course the RESULTS made it all worthwhile…but not before I asked myself (several times)….how did I get myself into this???
Cleaning The Greasy Stove Vent Filter
Well, it all started with a burnt out light bulb.  I was making a grilled cheese sandwich for my youngest on the stove when POOF!…the light above the stove went out. Since I have this thing about needing to SEE what it is I’m cooking…I had to put the cheese sandwich on hold while I went in search of a new bulb.
As I was changing the bulb I unfortunately noticed the condition of the UNDERSIDE of the hood above my stove. OY!!!  Kinda wish I hadn’t done that. You see normally all I see is THIS SIDE of the stove hood, which I manage to keep pretty clean. Looks nice doesn’t it? Well don’t let that fool you…underneath lurks a beast!
cleaning the greasy stove vent filter
A beast in the form of the OVEN VENT FILTER! I must have looked at that thing a hundred times and not even thought twice about how dirty it must be….until today that is.  This blogging stuff is getting to me!  And of course once something gets in my head…as the hubster will attest…you might as well forget it. It’s all over. There’s no use in even TRYINGto get it out.  It’s there to stay until *I* decide it goes.
So slight change of plans for the afternoon. I finished the grilled cheese sandwich and went to consult with my friend Google. It didn’t take long for me to find an incredibly helpfuland informative website called The Manly Housekeeper where the (manly) Mark did a post about this very subject just 12 short days ago! How weird is that?
I immediately decided the idea had merit…so I was off and running with it. Little did I know what I was getting myself in to.
Mark’s “How-To” on cleaning greasy oven vent filters is simple.  Haul out your biggest pot, fill it with water and bring it to a boil.  Then add 1/2 cup of BAKING SODA….VERY SLOWLY! Literally, you have to add it about a tablespoon at a time because itIMMEDIATELY fizzes up quite alarmingly! (The fizz goes right away.) Then take your caked-with-grease filter and submerge it in the pot. (Well, 1/2 of it anyway.)

cleaning the greasy stove vent filter
For the first few minutes I watched in fascination as the boiling water went to work on the grease. You could see it just melting off. But my fascination soon turned to disgust (bordering on horror!) as I continue to watch my filter “cook” in the water. I think the pictures tell the story…

cleaning the greasy stove vent filter
Don’t worry, this came clean easily with some Dawn dishwashing liquid.
Oh. My. Goodness. I couldn’t believe how much grease just kept bubbling up to the surface! I finally decided that I should empty this pot o’ sludge…and give the vent another treatment with a clean pot of water and more baking soda. So I took out the vent, and dumped the grease slick out in the backyard (I wasn’t ABOUT to dump it down my sink!). When I got back in I decided to try rinsing the vent with really hot water out of the tap before boiling it again, but it turned out that’s all it took to get the rest of the grease out. I kept rinsing until the water ran clear….and that was that.

Before and After pics:

Cleaning Vent Filter
After letting the vent dry for the rest of the day propped up on top of the stove…I returned it to it’s “home” tonight and had to admit it was a pretty great feeling knowing it was now a GREASE-FREE zone.  All-in-all it really was a simple fix…one that could have been a lot worse had it involved hand-to-hand combat with the grease. Come to think of it…the only time my hands touched grease was taking the filter out in the first place. Thanks Manly Mark! I owe you one! :-)