Blame it on global warming if you wish, but the fact remains - summertime temperatures are soaring with each passing year. And we're sure your electricity bills are rising too! But instead of blaming the power company, you need to indulge in smart air-conditioning to lower cooling costs. Here are a few handy tips to do just that:
Don't be paisa wise, rupee foolish. If the AC unit in your home is over 5-6 years old, replace it with a new, higher-efficiency unit that will immensely reduce cooling costs.Go Automatic!
Install an electronic setback thermostat and automate settings for your AC unit. So if you're at work all day, set the thermostat to turn on an hour before you get home. At night, put it on energy saver mode and choose the interval at which it should run and rest. After all you don't need non-stop air-conditioning for 8 hours.Seal Appropriately To Save Energy
Properly seal and insulate your AC duct. Also, take care to seal the space around an air conditioner with foam weather seal available in various sizes in any hardware or home-improvement store. This will save almost 30 to 40 per cent of cooling energy that is lost through leaks.Maintain Your AC
Keep the AC's condenser coil free of obstructions that impede airflow, making the unit work harder to expel heat. Also, keep all filters clean and check them monthly for any build-up as this restricts airflow, thus reducing cooling and causing operating problems.Place Your AC Wisely
Typically, an AC unit is fitted in a window. So ensure that you pick a window that receives the least sunlight as AC in the shade use less energy to run. The same rule applies to AC units fitted in a wall. And of course, never ever cool an unoccupied room!
As a proud home owner, surely you are proud of how well maintained and beautiful your home is. But there can be some small problems around the house you can’t always find a solution to that is aesthetic and goes with your décor. Here are three quick tips to handle common interior decoration woes.
Vases of flowers brighten up any room, but flowers die in a day or so, ruining the look of your house. Since it can be difficult to keep replacing flowers quickly, try using bowls of fresh fruit to decorate your home instead. Glossy fruit in bright colors – such as red apples or a striking bowl of cherries – add as much freshness and color to a room as flowers, and they stay fresh longer too. These also make for a handy snack for unexpected guests!
Sheer curtains on large French windows can add a wispy, beautiful quality to any room. But if you live near the sea or on a high floor, such curtains can keep flying and upsetting objects kept on nearby tables. Curtains flying in the breeze can be a real irritant and most people solve this issue by pinning them down with clothes pegs – an extremely ugly solution. Sew on some large heavy wooden buttons or colored beads to the edges of your curtains to weigh them down and also make them more attractive. You can use practically anything – shells or even small bells that will tinkle every time there is breeze, without letting the curtains get in your way.
Most people enjoy having greenery in the house by way of potted plants but often forget to water them on time. Try this unique solution. Purchase a large weighing scale, the kind your local vegetable vendor uses, and place a potted plant on one side of it. When you water this plant, the plant will weigh the scale down due to the weight, and slowly rise as the water dries, reminding you that the next watering is due! This won’t just keep your plants alive but also add a nice touch of kitsch to your home.
It Diwali, Id or Christmas, we go berserk with the decorations. The more we adorn our place the happier and spirited we feel.
But as decorations go up, they must also come down. So how do we ensure maintaining the beauty of your walls? Here’s 5 simple ways how you can do so.
- Use a paper tape or remove the stickiness of the tape by rubbing it on cloth before pasting it on the wall.
- When pulling off the tape, be gentle and slow. By going slow you can ensure maintaining the paint from getting ripped off the walls.
- Another simple method is to get 4 small nails mailed in at the four top corners of your room. This way you can draw strings around and then paste streamers around them. Or even use it to hang cards and decorations.
- There are a variety of chemicals on the market for glue removal, ranging from acetone and lacquer thinner to stronger stripping compounds. How well they will work again depends on the adhesive and the wall surface.
- Always ask your painter to leave behind, at least half a litre of paint used to colour your room. By doing so you can ensure of retouching the places where the paint got pulled off.
To keep your metal artifacts and curios sparkling with shine, polish them the usual way and then coat with a colorless lacquer. They will retain their glittering brightness for a much longer time.Protect Books From Insects
Are you one of those who have loads of books tucked away in trunks in the attic or gathering dust on your bookshelves? And isn’t it pretty annoying when you remove an old favorite and creepy creatures crawl out as you turn the pages. Or to be dismayed to find the pages eaten into in one of your favorite chapters. Here’s one way of caring for your books. To protect them from white ants and other insects keep dry red chilies and /or Neem (Margosa) leaves in small sachets in between books. You’ll never see the old book worm again!To Make The Key Turn In The Lock
If you try to open an old chest with an old key, you will find that it just might not relent. So if you are stuck with a key that won't turn easily in a lock "lubricate" the key by rubbing a pencil point along the jagged edge. The graphite in the pencil smoothes the edges making it easier to turn the keys.To Keep Your Tablecloth In Place
Nothing's more frustrating than tablecloths that slip out of place if you are one who loves your home to be a spic and span. To prevent this from happening, sew tiny pockets on the four inside corners of the tablecloth. Fill these pockets with some weight - eg.small marbles / grains / sand. You will never face the slip-up problem again.
Bathrooms are as special a place as any other room in the house. No matter what size your bathroom is, here are three basic decorating tips you can use to make your bathroom come alive.
If your bathroom space is small, use soft, pale colors - it creates an illusion of more space. Try avoiding stimulating colors like a reds and pinks.
In the case of a larger bathroom, you can go in for a medium shade of a darker color. Use colors like blue, violet or even a deep chrome yellow, which will add to the richness of the space.Light Up The Space
What people don’t take into consideration at all is the lighting in the bathroom. With proper play of light, your bathroom can take on a whole new look.
In the case of a small bathroom, what you can do is install the lighting into the ceiling, which will take up less space.
Where there are no issues about space, make use of wall scones or a counter top lamp, which will add more warmth to the space rather than just an 80W bulb. Skylights, optical fires, and solatubes are some of the more exciting and expensive ways of bringing your room to life.Accessorize Well
Make sure your sinks, toilet bowls and baths blend well with one another, in addition to blending with storage space and racks. A clean, neat bathroom always looks larger and more spacious than a cluttered or dirty one!
Have only your must-have essentials visible and put away everything else. Add mirrors in the room, which will help reflect more light, making the room appear bigger.
In the case of larger bathrooms, you can accessorize better. Make use of racks, closets, and stands that will add to the décor of the bathroom, but always bear in mind not to clutter.
Most importantly, never forget the most cardinal rule of decorating: in simplicity lies beauty!
Knowing a bathroom’s trouble spots helps you plan the cleaning routine. And more often than not, one tends to forget this most frequented room in the house.
- The tub and shower are havens for mildew. Mop them dry after each use to discourage mildew and prevent the build-up of mineral deposits and soap scum.
- Extend wet shower curtains so that they dry thoroughly.
- Leave the shower doors ajar so that air can circulate.
- Scrub the tub, shower, and sink every-week.
- Avoid harsh abrasives; used repeatedly, they mar the finish. Instead, use a mild abrasive, a liquid disinfectant cleaner. Do the scrubbing with a sponge.
- If stronger measures are necessary, use a brush, plastic souring pad, or nylon stocking, but avoid metal scrubs.
- Clean caulking around the tub with a toothbrush and liquid disinfectant.
- Clean a suction-backed tub or shower mat at least once a week.
Isn’t it annoying when the bathroom mirror gets all fogged up? Here’s how you can prevent it. Before you run the hot water in the bath, apply a thin film of soap on the mirror. Then wipe and polish it clean with a tissue. The mirror won’t fog from the steam in your bath this time.Stained Basins? No More
If your bath or basin has stains caused by a dripping tap, rub the stains with a paste made of salt and lemon juice and then rinse. If the stains are old and resistant, make a paste of cream of tartar and peroxide. Rub the stain with an old toothbrush and then rinse.For Clean Rubber Mats
Usually rubber mats kept outside the bathroom get clogged with water. To clean them pour some vinegar over it and leave it overnight. Next morning, brush lightly with cold water and rinse. They will become clean and look as good as new.
A bedroom is the place where you drop your guard and curl up to enjoy some well deserved rest. Now take a check and see if you can make it more comfortable and conducive for complete relaxation?
Many homes have their Television sets placed inside the bedroom, not to mention a blaring audio set, computer, which clacks till midnight and so on. A bedroom has to not only be a quiet retreat but it must also be pleasing to all your senses.
We have for you ten easy tips for you to follow and enjoy the difference.
Make it cozy. Sheets are important not just for looks but for comfort too. Choose sheets, which have a thread count of 180 or higher. You will find them soft and comfy.
- Paint the walls in warm tones and textures that will make the room glow in natural or artificial light.
- Always select muted colors, pastel shades and light hues for your bedroom. It will immediately have a calming effect on your nerves. Vibrant colors can be reserved for other areas of your home.
- You can also combine smooth, crisp sheets with plush velvety blankets to give your bedroom that inviting feeling.
- By adding few plump pillows you will bring in a nice cuddly comfort into the area.
- If you find your bed sagging or too firm, you can go in for mattress pads which will add the much needed layer of comfort and support.
- It is a good idea to choose colors for curtains, pillowcases, cushion covers and bed sheets according to the season.
- The fragrance for you bedroom has to be chosen carefully. Neither too strong, not too mild but something soothing, non-intrusive and calming. During spring use fresh spring fragrances and in winter choose rich and warm winter scents. Check with your retail shop.
- Avoid bright overhead lights in the bedroom. Light bulbs with lower wattage or ink-toned lights in bedside lamps offer unobtrusive lighting. Make sure the lights have shades.
- You could have good music stacked up inside your bedroom to lull you to sleep.
- Try these and see your bedroom transform into a super comfort zone.
Ever felt refreshed after taking a walk along a trail with flowers springing all around?
Flowers have the power to heal the place around them. No festive occasion is ever complete without flowers. In India particularly most women wear flowers on their hair and offerings of flowers for God is very common.
Flowers can create a beautiful ambience and light up even modest houses. One need not spend great amounts of money for floral arrangements. A little creativity and an eye for color can go a long way in creating beauty within your home. Here are some suggestions:
The entrance to your house is an important place. People make their first impressions about you and your house right from the pathway they enter from. You could plant floral plants on either side of the pathway to throw scent and elegance to the guests.
- If you live in a flat, you could place a earthen dish of suitable size and fill it with water. Now place flowers like jasmine, frangipani, lilly etc and watch the positive vibrations fill the air.
- Within your home, in certain spaces you could place artificial flowers. Satin flowers look utterly real and in places like your bathroom or high shelves place colorful satin flowers to light up the space.
- On special occasions have a professional arranger make a floral bouquet for you and place it on the dining table to elevate the event.
- Diyas and flowers together make a delightful combination. In a suitable container pour water, place any flower you desire and in between place diyas mounted on rock/wood and light them. The effect is amazing.
- You could get a permanent floral festoon made in silk or plastic and hang it over your doorway. It looks auspicious and very celebratory.
- Get a fish tank and get a gardener to plant some aquatic plants and aquatic floral plants in it. You could then submerge it to floor level in your backyard and enjoy a humble pond filled with flowers!!!
- Flowers, which grow on creepers, can be used beautifully to make a floral canopy over your balcony or entrance or wherever it pleases you. Thick and lush, the awning is sure to calm you instantly.
- Some floral plants like frangipani, hibiscus, periwinkle, button roses and bluebells grow rather easily in our Indian climate. Plant them and tend to them and you reap the beautiful harvest of a happy ambience.
Your home is neat and tidy, but does your child's room look like a tornado just hit it? De-cluttering your child's room and keeping it in order can prove to be difficult but is not impossible. All you need to do is put on your thinking cap and get creative in managing all their stuff. Here is some help to get you started.Sort It!
Your child wants his stuff at the drop of a hat so don’t waste time trying to put everything in order. Get baskets for different things – books, toys, play clothes, etc – and label them. This way, both you and your child know exactly where what is! Along with convenience, if you want this to look classy as well, get great looking cane baskets in a darker hue and tie colorful ribbons around their handles.Tall Order
There's just so much you can store in baskets and closets. So have hooks along a wall, where your kids can reach to hang their school clothes or towel. This way you'll also get them in the habit of picking up their own things from the floor and keeping their space tidy.Choose Smart And Practical Furniture
More likely than not, your kids room is the smallest one in the house. So do not stuff it with too much furniture. Opt for pieces that are practical, useful and yet funky. A small groovy trunk sporting your kids favorite cartoon characters near the window is perfect for giving the room that kiddy effect and it also offers enough storage and seating. Similarly, you could choose beds with drawers. These drawers could be used for storing your child’s toys, games and even clothes.Keep Their Cycle/Tri-Cycle In The Garage Or The Corridor
Get your kids in the habit of keeping big toys like bicycle/tri-cycle or a mini car in the garage or in the corridor. Parking these in their room will obviously fill up their room and also tempt them to use it in the house that could prove disastrous.Dump The Junk
You'll realize that your child has outgrown a lot of stuff lying around in the room. So get into the habit of regularly removing old clothes and toys. You'll be surprised at the amount of space this de-cluttering will create.Keep Your Ac In Shape This Summer
Clam it on global warming if you wish, but the fact remains – summertime temperatures are soaring with each passing year. And we're sure your electricity bills too! But instead of blaming the power company, you need to do all you can to lower cooling costs.Here Are A Few Handy Tips To Do Just That
- Don't be paisa wise, rupee foolish. If the AC unit in your home is over five to six years old, replace it with a new, higher-efficiency unit. A new high-efficiency model helps reduce cooling costs without burning a hole in your pocket.
- Make sure to install an electronic setback thermostat and automate settings for your AC unit. So say for example, if you're at work all day, set the thermostat to turn on an hour before you get home.
- Your AC ducts should be sealed and insulated. Almost 30 to 40 per cent of cooling cooling energy is lost through leaks!
- Make sure that the AC unit's condenser coil is clear of obstructions. Obstructions impede airflow, which in turn makes the unit work harder to expel heat and raises energy consumption.
- Typically, an AC unit is fitted in a window. So make sure that the window is the one which receives the least sunlight. Units in the shade require less energy to run. The same rule applies to AC units fitted in a wall.
- The space around an air conditioner should be completely sealed with foam weather seal to prevent any loss of energy. Speak to your local dealer about this. Weather seals are sold in various sizes in any hardware or home-improvement store.
- Keep all filters clean and check them monthly for any build-up. Clean them or replace disposable ones as and when necessary. Build-up on filters restricts airflow, which can reduce cooling and cause operating problems.
- Last, but definitely not the least, don't cool an unoccupied room!
Continuing our series of tips to care for wooden furniture, here are some more tips to keep your home looking brand new!Scratches And Alcohol Marks
Use shoe polish to match the color of your furniture to hide tiny scratch marks. Using a thick marker or crayon also helps in concealing scratches.
Rub a paste of linseed oil with rottenstone in the stained area. Rottenstone is a worn out and decayed limestone that has the properties of silica. This stone is available in powdered form and is used in polishing.Daily Care For Wooden Furniture
Never drag any material on the table top. This will scratch your table. Always lift the materials while cleaning.
Immediately clean up any kind of spills. Don’t delay the cleaning; else the spills will get a more difficult to remove.First Aid For Wooden Furniture
Wooden furniture adds class and style to your home. Elegant designs and classy finish on dark wooden furniture is all that it takes to make your house look regal. Your heart breaks if there’s a wine spill or coffee stain on your table top that ruins the look. This series arms you with some handy tips to keep your wooden furniture looking as classy as ever.Removing Water And Caffeine Stains
- Usually, furniture stains when the moisture trickling down from a cold drink or coffee/tea cup breaks into the wood by seeping through the wood wax.
- Apply gel-free toothpaste, mayonnaise, or salad oil on a polishing cloth and rub thoroughly on the stained area.
- Then, with a clean damp cloth, remove the film. Now use a wood polish to make the area look sparkling new.
- Place a thick blotting paper over the stained area and place a warm iron over it. Repeat the procedure a few times till you find the stain fading away.
For a book lover to see his/her books in an unkempt condition is quite painful. A good collection of books owned by anybody -- whether a book lover or not -- is a status symbol and speaks volumes about the individual’s personality. So here are some handy tips to care for man’s oldest friend -- books!
- Most of the time a book loses its brand-new look due to poor handling. This usually happens because of dog ears, keeping the book open and upside down, leaving it in the open to gather dust and dirt.
- Books should never be handled while eating food. A drop of food will stain the pages forever.
- Ensure your hands are clean, dry and grease/oil free before handling a book.
- Avoid turning a page by dabbing your finger to your tongue. Keep a wet sponge instead if you must. Better still, avoid any moisture coming in contact with your books.
- Remove a book from the shelf by holding the firm edges and not by pulling a single cover.
- Turn the pages one by one, not two or three together and flipping them. Flipping through pages can cause the pages to bend.
- Always use book marks. You can get book marks from your local book store or paint your own.
- Dust your book shelf regularly with a soft brush. Vacuum the book shelf and throw in some naphthalene balls to prevent silverworms and other insects from eating into your books.
- Regularly remove all your books from the shelf and gently flip through the pages. This will let out the moist and soiled air from the books.
- If you have leather bound books then its best to keep them covered with a cloth or book cases meant for leather-bound books.
- Never write in books with a pen. Preferably use a pencil if you wish to scribble.
- You can occasionally dust some talcum powder in between the pages to keep the pages moist free. This also prevents fungal growth in the corners of your books.
- Avoid placing lights over your bookshelf or shift your bookshelf if sunlight reaches it directly. Direct light can cause the coverings and the pages to fade.
- Avoid keeping books tightly against one another in a book shelf. Books should be kept in such a way that they can be easily removed.
- Place heavy books flat on a separate shelf.
- Classic / archival books that have some loose papers should be kept in an air-tight box and should be handled with extra care.
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of organizing your home? Start on a smaller scale instead and it will be a whole lot easier.
Follow these 8 steps and you're well on your way to a systematic home
- Pick A Room - Any Room
Decide on which room to start on. Write it at the top of a sheet of paper. This will be your action sheet.
Example: BEDROOM A.
- Choose An Enticing Reward
Designate an appropriate reward to give yourself on completion of the job. The reward concept serves as your motivation, so be sure to choose something that you’d really enjoy! Write this reward on your action sheet. Example: Treat yourself to a massage or go out for a nice dinner - whatever it is that you love to do.
- Schedule Time For Completion
Schedule 3 specific clearance dates (one hour for each). Hopefully this will be enough to complete the dumping portion of the job. Write it on your action sheet. Then, post the action sheet in a prominent place where you are certain to see it every day, like your bathroom mirror. It will serve as a reminder of your goal, deadline and pending reward.
- Keep Your Appointment
When the 1st dumping day arrives keep that appointment, just as you would any other important appointment. Bring a bunch of large garbage bags. Play your favorite music in the background to help you get through the task at hand.
- Sort Through It
Pick up one item at a time, and start dumping. If you come across items you want to give to charity, designate a special bag for those items. Whatever you are going to keep just put to one side of the room.
- Do It Until The Time Is Up
Continue doing this until the timer goes off. If you prefer to continue, keep going. Otherwise, stop and follow the same procedures for your next two scheduled dates. Don’t let the garbage bags sit there. Make sure they are thrown out now (or donated), or on Garbage Day at the latest.
Once you’ve managed to dump everything you don’t want or need in that one room, it’s time to celebrate. Take advantage of that reward you designated.
- Keeping It Organized
Now that everything in that room that you wanted dumped is gone, you’re ready to begin putting everything you are keeping back in an organized manner. Be very careful not to put anything else in this room that you don’t want. Repeat this process for each of the other rooms in your house.
Does the hole in your pocket curb your urge to redesign your room? Here are some simple ideas and tips to give your room a new look by just re-decorating a wall. For a classy look, paint one wall with your favorite color. Now use this wall as a palate and add whatever you think will spice up that room. For that, begin with a theme. Here are some examples:
Memories: Collate all your black and white childhood photographs. Select the most memorable ones and make a collage out of them on a large white paper and get it framed with a black border.
Props: To make a wall look lively, add masks, a musical instrument like a guitar, hats or antique items.
Posters: Get hold of old classic movie posters. Frame them in basic wooden frames and hoist them up on the wall.
Rustic: Been to a rural location lately? Make sure you collect absolutely rudimentary tools or craftwork prepared by the village locals. Hoist them up on your wall to give a rustic effect.
Elegant: Got some of your mother’s old bone china plates and you don’t want to use them for fear of chipping them? Get hooks and adorn your wall with these beautiful plates for an elegant touch.Furniture Safety Guide
The right furniture can help you make a style statement with your home decor. However, apart from looks, it's very important to keep in mind basic furniture safety, especially if you have kids or pets. Here are some handy tips for furniture safety at home.Safe Furniture For The Home
- The surface of the furniture should have a smooth finish. Any roughness or sharpness on the surface or edges should be avoided.
- All the screws, blots etc. should be well hidden and fixed firmly into the furniture to prevent any snagging.
- The foot stand of your bed should not be too high. It might get risky if you try getting off in the dark.
- Fix your bookshelf to the wall; this will prevent it from tipping over in case overloaded with books.
- Fix anti-tip furniture straps/brackets in the wall for furniture like cupboards, book shelves, racks etc.
For bunk beds, the top bunk should have safety rails on either side, with at least 15 inches open at each end.
For kids below six years of age, avoid getting a bunk bed as they may roll off in the night and/or hurt themselves against the railing.
- Replace square/rectangular tables with round tables or tables with blunt edges. This can prevent kids from getting hurt.
- Install child-proof locks for cabinets containing medicines, toiletries and harmful kitchen items.
- Avoid using glass table tops. Stick to durable wooden tops which do not pose a breaking risk.
- Remove extension cords from the kitchen to prevent tripping. More so, wherever possible, get enclosed wiring to prevent any accidents.
A studio apartment can be difficult to decorate, given there aren’t any real distinctions between the various rooms. But even a small den can be refurbished to have both comfort and style. You could hire an interior designer, which would be expensive and you may just end up with a factory product home. Or you could just do it yourself! Here are some tips on how.
Choose the right furniture:
- Cane, wrought iron and particle board furniture suit a studio best because these materials don’t look bulky and make a small room look spacious.
- Choose furniture you can put to multiple uses like a box bed with storage space inside.
- Studios may sometimes lack in privacy. You can place an antique book shelf or an elegant screen to separate your bed from the living room area and also look great. Place hooks behind shelves or screens to hang clothes. You could also attach a soft board to pin up notes, phone numbers and photographs to personalize your space.
- Alternatively, use one main piece of furniture that can have multiple uses. For instance, a single big cabinet can accommodate a TV, music system, a mini bar, books and other knick-knacks. The shelves can be used to keep clothes.
- Even with a small space like a studio, it is possible to add personal touches rather than just keeping things functional. For instance, use a shoe cabinet as a table to keep your keys and a small potted plant to welcome you home.
- Avoid putting many pictures on the walls to avoid clutter. One large painting or poster shall do the trick.
- A studio can look messy very easily so avoid clutter like scattered laundry and magazines. Keep a cane basket for laundry and a small wrought iron stand for magazines.
- Use light-colored curtains, letting the sunlight in, which will make the apartment look brighter and bigger.
Decorating with color is a design technique that helps bring your room to life. While color schemes are subjective, it can work as a wonder drug. When you choose color, make sure to choose the color scheme too, i.e. the depth of colour. Monochromatic, several different colors or a single accent color will be the foundation of how one feels in your rooms. “I want my family room in a yellow colour scheme. The colour is lively and that’s just the way I want the space I spend most of the time with my family to reflect,” says Kim Sharma, housewife. You may love that deep yellow tone but your neighbor may absolutely hate it. Colours have different meanings to different people. One colour can go emotionally more than one way.
Following are examples of emotional reaction to some colours:
- Blue: Feels distancing, reserved.
- Red: Feels stimulating, agitating.
- Yellow: Feels energizing. Sometimes to the point of anxiety.
- Orange: Feels stimulating and inviting.
- Green: Feels soothing and relaxing.
- White: Feels calming and uncluttered, clean.
There are only four types of colour combinations or types of colour schemes you need to make a note of:
- Complementary colours or complementary harmony
This is two colours that are in total contrast. Red and green. Purple and yellow. Blue and orange. The effect is always stimulating and dramatic. If you want a room that has energy and is bold, a complementary color scheme is a good choice.
- Triadic colours or triadic harmony
Three different colours with the same depth of intensity make up this colour scheme. The effect is a balanced look.
- Analogous colours or harmony
Two or three different colours from the same colour family. Example, orange, red orange and pale orange. This color scheme gives a softened look with contrast.
- Monochromatic colour or monochromatic harmony colour scheme
One single colour or differing intensities of the same colour such as blue and light blue. The effect is very quieting. Many find this the easiest colour scheme to use and to live with. Always remember your home has to be a retreat, a place to unwind. A monochromatic colour scheme choice will help you accomplish just this.
Are your kitchen knives getting rusty? Are you burners coated with greasy grime? And is there a strange, putrid odour emanating from your refrigerator shelves? Then it's time to take action. Carry out the easy-to-do suggestions in this section and learn how to care for your kitchen wear.
As a guest you feel important if your host has set the table with the finest cutlery. As a host, with a set of well-maintained cutlery and utensils, you enjoy cooking and presenting food for family and friends. So here are some handy tips to care for your fine cutlery and utensils.
- Cleaning Silverware
- Always store silver cutlery in a box or drawer, covered with a cloth.
- Rinse off silver cutlery soon after use to prevent staining.
- Use a soft cloth to polish the silverware. Don’t leave silver-plated cutlery for too long in cleaning solution.
- Always use a diluted dishwashing solution to wash silverware.
- Stainless Steel Cutlery
- They are usually highly resistant to corrosion, rust and stains.
- Avoid direct heat/flame on any stainless steel product.
- Never dip/use them with vinegar for too long. The salts present in the vinegar cause discoloration.
- Always use a dishwashing solution to clean stainless steel cutlery.
- Copper Vessels
- Copper is a good conductor of heat. Copper vessels heat up and cool down very quickly. So always use low flame and never keep empty copper vessels over a flame.
- Preferably use copper vessels with a stainless steel/silver coating.
- Wash the vessel while it’s still warm, using a dishwashing detergent and soft scrubber. Never use steel wool or strong detergents and scrub the vessel harshly.
- Non-stick Cookware
- Always use a non-stick cookware on low flame.
- Always use wooden ladles while cooking in a non-stick pan.
- Wash such utensils with a liquid detergent soap and a soft scrubber.
- Porcelain, Bone China And Ceramic
- Always wash them with a light detergent.
- Never place them in a microwave for heating if they have a metallic (silver or gold) plated design/coating on them.
- Avoid exposing them to extreme hot and cold temperatures.
- At times, oil and food reside on wooden ladles can attract ants. Soak wooden ladles for about 10 minutes in hot water to remove all residues. Wash with a good detergent and dry immediately.
Here are a few tips you can use to maintain a clean kitchen space without exerting too much effort.
- To keep steel wool pads from rusting, store them in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer after using. Run them under hot water the next time you have to use it. The pads will wear out before they ever rust.
- To easily remove food from the bottom of a pan, cover it in water and add a drop or two of liquid detergent to it. Bring to a boil. This will make cleaning burnt food on utensils easy.
- If food boils over in the oven, sprinkle the burnt surface with a little salt. This will stop smoke and odour and make the spot easier to clean. You can use a metal spatula to rub off the spills. Use a damp sponge to clean off.
- To remove the odour of garlic from hands, wet hands with water and then rub them with a spoonful of salt and rinse. Repeat, if needed.
- When stacking non-stick pans in kitchen cabinets, place a paper plate between the pans. This will prevent the pans from getting scratched, thus prolonging their life.
- Never put a cover on anything that is cooked in milk, unless you want to spend time cleaning up the stove when it boils over!
- After chopping garlic or onions, rub a freshly cut lemon over both the knife blade and the cutting board to help remove the garlic scent.
- To safely clean coffee makers, enameled cast-iron pots and similar equipment, put 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda in the pot and pour boiling water over it.
- To easily clean your blender, fill the blender container with warm water, add a few drops of liquid detergent, blend for 30 seconds and rinse well.
- To deodorize plastic storage containers in which onions or garlic were stored, wash thoroughly, then stuff a crumpled piece of newspaper in the container and snap the lid shut. The smell will disappear in a few days.
To prevent sparingly used knives from getting rusty, wash and dry the blades thoroughly after use. Coat the surface with fat or lard and wrap well with paper before keeping away for next use. The blades will not rust.Keep Your Gas Oven Sparkling Clean
Your burners and ovens often accumulate greasy grime that is just not easy to scrub away. Here’s a solution: pour a tablespoon of vinegar on a sponge and wipe the stains on the gas stove carefully. This will make them come off easily. Then clean the stove the usual way, with some detergent and water. Your gas burner will sparkle like a new one. Of course, don’t let the water filter into the burner where the flame comes from, since it takes a long time to dry till which your burner’s useless.Kitchen Storage
How do I preserve my pulses and food grains? And what about veggies that get spoilt quickly? Here is your goldmine of food preservation tips.
- Keeping Stuff In Kitchen Shelves Fresh
- To preserve pulses and grains on your kitchen shelf, keep a few small coarsely rolled newspaper balls in the containers with pulses, lentils, legumes or even whole spices. This will prevent the contents from being affected by fungus, insects or worms as the paper absorbs moisture.
- Retain The Freshness Of Refrigerated Vegetables
- Vegetables like karela (bitter gourd) and raw papaya tend to get yellow if stored in the refrigerator for a few days. To avoid this simply cut them into big pieces before storing them. The vegetables will not ripen.
- Enjoy Lemon Juice Free Of Hassles
- You can store the juice from 3 or 4 dozens of lemons in ice-trays. No messy cutting and squeezing every time you want to use a few drops of the citric. Buy the lemons in dozens, draw out the juice and pour in ice trays. Freeze and voila! Just splash some cubes into your drinks or use them while cooking. No hassles, no mess.
- Fungus Free Pickle
- Before bottling a pickle, put two or three tablespoons of vinegar into the bottle and shake well so that the bottle has a coating of vinegar. This will prevent the formation of fungus in the pickle.
Roll up your sleeves, get that cloth and soap solution...its time to scrub your kitchen clean. Make it sparkle!
Keeping Utensils Squeaky Clean
Bet you never heard of these fun tips that will make your kitchen sparkle!
- Dissolve baking powder in water and give your vessels a quick dip in it to keep them shining and brand-new-clean.
- Vacuum flasks can be kept odor free by filling them up vinegar, hot water and pieces of egg shells.
- Vinegar also keeps glassware clean.
- Sometimes dust particles and dirt get caught in still sieves. This can be cleaned by holding it over fire for some time until the dirt falls off.
- Nail polish remover is excellent for removing stains from bone china.
Here is a simple tip to keep the inside of your Pressure Cooker (made of aluminum) sparkling white. Pour water in the Pressure Cooker and place the pressure pans with the cooking ingredients. Put 1-2 pieces of lemon, a small ball of tamarind or any other citric ingredient in the water. Pressure-cook the dish the normal way. After cooking, the pan will sparkle white and the usual stains will disappear. For old stubborn stains, you may require to repeat the exercise.Easy Way To Clean Greasy Blenders
After blending anything greasy, like say mincing meat in a mincer, put a piece of bread in the blending container and run for a few seconds. The bread removes all the grease from the bowl, making cleaning a very simple task.Doing Away With Lingering Egg Smell
The lingering odour of fish or eggs on crockery, cutlery and even hands can be effectively removed by rubbing them with a little gram flour first and then cleaning the usual way. Alternatively, mix a little gram flour with cleaning powder and then scrub the vessels.Use Your Precious China Without A Care
Despite our utmost care, at times we just can’t avoid cracking or chipping our precious crockery and crystal ware when washing them. To prevent this, spread a thick tablemat, a towel or a plastic sheet on the sink before washing. Place the glassware / crockery inside. Pour liquid soap generously on them and rinse gently under running water. To dry, spread them on a large towel and leave to dry naturally. Do not wipe. Or else, the fluff from the cloth will stick to the glassware and be difficult to remove.
Here's a list of handy hints that could ease life in the kitchen. Say goodbye to stubborn stains, cockroaches and smelly kitchen sinks!
- Keep your kitchen shelves clean by spreading a plastic sheet or grease proof paper over the shelves where oil, ghee or pickle jars are kept.
- To get rid of black stains from aluminum or steel vessels rub them with charcoal pieces. They will shine like new.
- To protect rice from insects, dry 50g. of mint leaves, powder them and add to 10 kgs. Of rice. Not only will the mint leaves keep insect at bay, they will also impart a delicious flavour to the cooked rice.
- Placing a few cucumber slices in spots frequented by cockroaches will make them beat a hasty retreat!
- To freshen up nasty smelling kitchen sinks, pour a cup of vinegar down the kitchen drain. Allow it to stand for 30 minutes and pour in a cup of cold water. The odour will disappear. In case of persistent odours flush the drain pipe with vinegar more often.
- Refill ice trays that have 4-5 cubes with cold water and set it in the freezer. The ice will set faster.
- Toss an apple in a bag of potatoes. The apple will keep potatoes from budding.
- Adding a bit of baking soda to detergent while washing dishes will prevent hands from turning rough.
When it comes to lighting, never before has a homeowner been spoilt as much for choice as today! As traditional use of space in a home has changed over time, lighting options have also kept pace. But before you hit the stores to choose mood lighting for your home, you must understand the purpose lighting in each area must serve. Here are a few basic tips to help you effectively light up your space:
- Living Room
- The living room is where you will socialize and entertain. Naturally, this space should have a cozy, intimate feel and exude warmth. This can be achieved by using indirect lighting from different angles. Use a small spotlight to highlight artwork or photographs on a wall or a lamp to cast a warm glow around the corner couch. You can use tall floor lamps with either 3 or 4 large bulbs in a linear format or a designer lamp with many small bulbs in a creative design, depending on the décor and the size of your living room. For a living room teeming with wooden feel, you could opt for standing or hanging cane lamps available in many unique designs. Go for chandeliers only when you have a very large living room with equally ornamental over all décor.
- Dining Room
- Lighting for the dining room should be mostly functional. Preferably use soft, non-glare wall lights in white. Use concealed lighting for glass cabinets hosting your expensive crockery but when it comes to your precious bar, go funky with lighting. You can opt for bottom lit bar space or even spot lights in certain areas, if your bar is big enough. You can also consider dimmers if you want the dining room to be bright at times and muted on special occasions.
- The lighting in the kitchen should be completely functional. The light source should clearly illuminate areas such as the cooking/chopping platform, sink, deep storage cabinets and shelves.
- It goes without saying that the bedroom is probably the most multi-tasked room in a home. Hence, naturally the bedroom requires various kinds of light. Bed-side lamps or even an overhead spotlight is a great idea if you like to read in bed. Ensure the dressing mirror has soft lights on both sides to remove any shadows. For a romantic touch, go for a stylish lamp with a huge shade in the colour matching your bedroom décor. You could even choose a tall floor lamp with low intensity bulbs and place it at a short distance from your bed.
- Children's Room
- Keep your child's age in mind before lighting up the room. For a younger child, the room should be brightly lit to ensure there are no dark corners or sharp shadows as this may scare them. If you have an older child, use a spotlight for the study table or the computer corner.
- Go on; play with light to create your own paradise! Plan Your Lighting
- A well-planned lighting is necessary to prevent eyestrain and accidents, particularly in working areas like kitchen and study room. Well-placed lights accentuate the appeal of a room’s décor. However, making lighting pleasant and effective does not necessarily mean overhauling the entire electrical system. Adapting home lights to suit your requirements is usually quite simple.
- Draw the layout of the room on a graph paper to decide where you want lighting in relation to the sitting arrangements and other features in the room. This will give you a fairly good idea of the lighting requirements and how the room might look when lit!
- Back Aesthetics With Functionality
- Lighting design is a lot about what pleases the eye, but aesthetics should be backed up by functionality. The type of mood created (by lighting) depends on the fittings and bulbs used. It is necessary to have a balance between light and shadows. Heavy shadows can look dull and morbid while uniformly bright lighting can look too stark. It is best to provide for a modest backdrop of light throughout the room and use strategically placed lights for extra illumination. You can also have special lighting points placed to highlight attractive areas of the room, for instance, a painting on the wall, a set of curios or a reading corner.
- While working out lighting schemes and technicalities of electrical fittings, make sure that naked light bulbs are not visible to people sitting or standing in the room. This is not only bad design, but dazzles the eye too. Low-level lights should have shades to hide the bulb. For the dining table, rise and fall pendant lights work well.
- Reduce The Glare From Your Television
- A television set usually dominates the room, partly because of the sound and action on screen, and also because of the glare from the tube. Lighting in the room that houses the TV should be designed to reduce the overall glare. Placing low-level fittings near the TV set can do this. A table or standard lamp behind or at any one side of the set will lessen the effect of the flickering screen.
- Alcove or concealed shelf lamps can also provide gentle background illumination.
- Caution: Take care never to place a lamp directly on top of the set; it’s a positive fire risk should overheating occur.
Cockroaches when hungry will eat just about anything; pastes, glues, solid soaps and starch based paints and foods. So how do you tackle these pests?
Here are some preventive measures you could use:
- Keep food in sealed containers or in the refrigerator
- Paint cabinet shelves and drawers with enamel and keep them clean
- Rinse all recyclables clean and air them out every few days
- Put garbage in tightly covered containers and store it outside
- Wash dishes, tables, kitchen counters and stove tops every day
- Store flour, sugar, cereals and crackers in tightly covered plastic or metal containers
- Clean out junk and clutter from storage shelves, drawers and closets
- Get rid of unused furniture, appliances, food and clothing
- Fill in cracks and seal openings around pipes
- Clean drains
- Keep all areas clean and dry
- Basic steps:
- Use any of the repellants available in the market
- Alternatively you could mix boric powder in wheat flour and knead it to dough. Roll out tiny balls of this dough and keep them in places frequented by the insects
- Caution: Keep them out of reach of small children
- Swab the floor daily
- Add phenyl to the water used for swabbing (in case of marble tiled floors use white phenyl)
- Do not stack used utensils in the sink overnight. If possible clean utensils and sink in the night itself
- Clean bathrooms and toilets daily
- Naphthalene balls in bathrooms and kitchen repel cockroaches
- Don’t keep damp clothes in the bathroom for long hours
- Wash your home with water and soap once a week to rid it of all unpleasant creepy crawlies
Apart from flies, ants are the other species of insects that haunt your kitchen. Here are some really cools ways of keeping them away
- Some essence of peppermint on a piece of cotton wool is supposed to be a good ant-deterrent
- You could also try sprinkling bicarbonate of soda or boric powder in shelves
- Sprinkle powdered cloves on shelves and in drawers
- To destroy anthills, pour boiling water into them (cruel alternative, so avoid unless absolutely necessary)
- A saucer full of cloves and paraffin would make them run
- Mop kitchen shelves and cabinets with a cloth dipped in "neem" oil and water mixture. Add five drops "neem" oil to half a cup of water
- Wipe your kitchen with a cloth dipped in vinegar
- Swab the floors daily
- Add phenyl to the bucket of water you would use for swabbing. Do note that if you have marble tiled floors then use white phenyl
- Do not keep utensils for cleaning in the sink for next day morning. If possible clean the utensils and sink in the evening itself
- Clean your bathrooms, toilets and kitchen daily
- Don't keep wet clothes in the bathroom for hours together
- Once in a week pour water thoroughly and clean the house. By doing this not only the kitchen room but the entire house gets cleaned
- Keep the overall environment clean and make sure that food particles (often dropped carelessly while snacking) are swept away immediately
Vermin, they can ruin your lives and property. Today we have no Pied Piper who can drown these wretched pets, but yes, we do have some sure fire methods that can settle them for good. In case your house/property is under attack by mice, these should help
- Check and plug all holes outside your house including the smallest ones (a mouse can crawl through space as small as the tip of the little finger!). These are ideal places for mice to hide and breed
- Do not leave any food material, including garbage in the open. Once mice are starved they will definitely leave the house in search for greener pastures
- Poison pellets and traps work well to get rid of mice. Ideally use pellets that force mice to come out in the open and die
- Do not handle dead vermin with bear hands. They are known to carry deadly diseases! Wear gloves while handling them!
- This may sound simplistic, but no trap can beat the work of a cat. So get a feline companion who will get rid of the trouble makers
- Mice are not a reflection on your sanitary concepts. These mammals breed at a super rate – over 13 litters a year, so getting rid of one won’t work!