Archive for September, 2013

Holiday Countdown – Checklist for Stress-Free Entertaining

Posted on September 26, 2013. Filed under: Entertaining Tips, Household Tips, Kitchen Cleaning | Tags: , , , , |

Thanksgiving Table

Can you believe it is Fall already? The holiday season will be here before you know it.

When you are preparing for festive gatherings, the key to stress-free entertaining is preparation.

Our checklist gives you a few things to do each week, so that entertaining isn’t an overwhelming task. Follow our checklist and get ready to enjoy yourself along with your guests.

4 weeks before

  1. Make your menu (and shopping list).You probably already have a traditional menu. Starting early this year, however, gives you the chance to be creative.  Perhaps this is the year to try lamb instead of ham?
  2. Recruit volunteers.Volunteers can be your children, your spouse, or friends. Ask for help now so that everyone is ready to do their part. Here are a few tasks to assign to volunteers: preparing a side dish, watching your children while you grocery shop, preparing the Easter eggs, choosing games, or polishing the silverware.
  3. Make your outsourcing decisions.Will you handle all of the cooking or enlist the help of a caterer? Do you plan on cleaning your home yourself, or hiring a house cleaning service? Decide what you will handle, and what you will outsource.
  4. Create your guest list, and invite your guests.
  5. Take stock of your home.Walk through your home, and take a fresh look through the eyes of your guests. Do you need to refresh the towels in the guest bathroom? Does your lawn need sprucing? Do you need the decks cleaned? Make your list, and decide who will take care of these items.
  6. Take stock of your decorations, fine china and silverware.Your fine china hasn’t been used in several months, and your decorations have been in boxes for almost a year. Inspect them to decide what you need to clean, repair, or purchase.

3 weeks before

  1. Place your order with the caterer.
  2. Schedule your house cleaning.The best time to have your cleaning service perform a detail cleaning is the week before a holiday.  It stands to reason that this week is also the busiest time for home cleaning services. Make your appointment now to reserve your space on the schedule.If you decide to do the cleaning yourself, set 6 or more hours aside the weekend before to get your home in tip-top shape.
  3. Finalize your shopping list.If you haven’t already, it is time to finalize the shopping list. Highlight the non-perishable items that can be purchased ahead of time.

2 weeks before

  1. Shop for your non-perishables.Buy everything that you do not need to purchase fresh. This can include canned goods, beverages, spices, and decorations. Shopping 2-3 weeks before Easter also has the added benefit of helping you avoid the crowds.  Tip – clear space in the your pantry and refrigerator before you go shopping so that you have somewhere to store your items.
  2. Buy your decorations.You’ll get the best selection of decorations by buying them now.

1 week before

  1. Clean your home.A week before is the best time to clean the home from top to bottom. If you’ve scheduled an appointment with a house cleaning service, this is a task you can easily check off your list.  If you haven’t, get your supplies and block off at least 6 hours.
  2. Prepare your food.Are there any dishes (or portions of dishes) that you can prepare and freeze ahead of time? Go ahead and get those out of the way.
  3. Polish your silver, and wash the fine china.While you are getting your home cleaned, go ahead and clean your silverware and  fine china. Better yet, have your teenagers handle this task.

1 to 3 Days before.

  1. Decorate.If you do not have small children, you can probably set up your decorations several days to a week in advance.
  2. Set up your dining room.Get your table and service areas as close to ready as you can. This provides another opportunity for you to make certain you have enough serving dishes and utensils.
  3. Shop for fresh items.Buy flowers, vegetables or fruit.
  4. Walk-through.The night before Easter, walk through the areas your guests will be visiting to see if there is anything that needs to be cleaned or repaired.

The Night Before

  1. Prepare the food.This is probably when you will be preparing most of your dinner. Our tips will help you keep your kitchen clean while you are cooking.

Before your guests arrive.

  1. Prepare your last minute dishes, making sure to keep your kitchen clean as you do.
  2. Do a last minute walk-through.
  3. Relax, and get ready to enjoy your guests.

I hope this checklist comes in handy as you prepare for Easter entertaining. Feel free to comment and share your Easter entertaining tips.

What are your secrets for stress-free entertaining?

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About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
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3 Principles of an Organized Kitchen

Posted on September 19, 2013. Filed under: Kitchen Cleaning | Tags: , |

Whether you cook frequently or not, the kitchen is probably one of the busiest rooms in your home.

kitchen - atlanta house cleaning service

Having an organized kitchen is not about buying a lot of organizing supplies; it is about taking a few guidelines and tailoring them to your specific needs.

Here are 3 guidelines to use as you organize your kitchen.

1. Keep Frequently Used Items Within Reach

The items you use on a daily or weekly basis should be within easy reach. You shouldn’t have to tiptoe or do deep knee bends to find the items that you use every day. This guideline applies to your food, your dishes and your cleaning items.

2. Group Items By Use

This is a deceptively simple idea that yields great dividends. Grouping items by use reduces the frustration of having to walk all over the kitchen to find them. If you drink tea every morning, for example, it makes sense to store the tea next to the sweetener, and the tea-pot relatively close to your tea cups.

3. Leave Space

You do not need to fill every single nook and cranny in your kitchen. In fact, having some clear space rests your eyes.  Your goal should be to leave at least 25% of any space free.

We’d love to hear from you.

How do you use to organize your kitchen?

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About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

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7 Ways to Make Family Meals Consistent & Easy

Posted on September 12, 2013. Filed under: Household Tips | Tags: , |

The topic of last week’s blog post was Family Meals Are Worth The Effort.

home-cooked-meals

Not sure how to schedule family meals in an already jam packed schedule? These 7 ideas will help.

1 – Cook once.

If you find yourself running out of time to cook, try cooking 3-4 meals on the weekends. Freeze the meals so that when it’s dinner time, you simply have to reheat.

2 – Repurpose.

As you prepare meals, think of dishes that can be repurposed – ex., the leftovers from tonight’s roasted chicken can become tomorrow night’s chicken quesadillas.

3 – Make friends with your freezer.

In addition to freezing prepared meals, season and freeze ingredients so that they can be popped into the pot or oven when it’s time to cook.

4 – Make friends with your crock pot.

The frozen ingredients mentioned in the previous tip can be popped into the crock pot to simmer all day. Voilà! At the end of a long day, everyone is greeted by the smells of a home-cooked meal.

5 – Have theme days.

Eliminate the hassle of wondering what to cook by having theme days (ex., Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc.).

6 – Cheat (a little).

Having a freshly prepared meal every day is impossible for some families. Every once in a while, it is okay to buy prepared foods (ex., get a rotisserie chicken from the deli and supplement it with a fresh salad).

7 – Google it.

The Internet is home to a cornucopia of recipe sites. You can search for recipes for specific ingredients, limit your searches to recipes with 5 or fewer ingredients, choose recipes based on the amount of prep and cook time, and so much more.

Wouldn’t you have more time for family meals if someone else handled the cleaning?

If you need an Atlanta maid service to keep your home clean so that you spend more time with your family, give us a call at (404) 633-9652.

As our customer Rick says:

I always love to come home after they’ve been here cleaning. They use natural products that smell good and get the job done. Read more reviews.

Share your comments:

How many times does your family eat together each week?

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass via Creative Commons License

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Family Meals Are Worth the Effort

Posted on September 5, 2013. Filed under: Household Tips | Tags: |

family-meal-timesLong work hours, long commutes, children with calendars that would make a socialite envious.

All of these factors and more make it almost impossible to schedule regular family meals. If you are lucky to get everyone together to eat one meal a week, you are not alone.

Regular family meals are well worth the effort, however.

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Regular family meals make financial sense.Fast food meals for a family of four can easily total $30. That same $30 can be used to prepare at least 2 satisfying, healthy, home-made dinners.
  2. Regular family meals are (usually) healthier.Did you realize that even when you order “healthy” choices such as chicken breasts or vegetables at a restaurant, there’s a good chance they’ve been injected or seasoned with a lot of salt in order to make them “highly palatable?”
  3. Do you have kids? Some studies show that regular family meals provide the following benefits for children (particularly teenagers):
  • Higher grades
  • Healthier eating habits
  • Closer relationships with other family members
  • A stronger ability to resist peer pressure
  • An increased ability to bounce back from life’s problems (i.e., resilience)
  • Lower likelihood of smoking, drinking or using drugs

All of the benefits still do not change the fact that most people think family meals take huge investments of time. This does not have to be the case.

Stay tuned for next week’s article, which will offer 7 ways to make family meals consistent – and easy!

Wouldn’t it be much easier to have family meals if you could start with a clean home?

If you need an Atlanta maid service to keep your home clean so that you spend more time with your family, give us a call.

As our client TC writes:

 20 years and still happy! I started with S&S when I realized I couldn’t keep up with my housework, a child, and full-time job. The team came weekly for years and now after the kids have gone, they come every other week. It’s been a great relationship and I trust them completely.

Share your comments:

How many times does your family eat together each week?

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

Photo Credit: ChristinaT via Creative Commons License

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