Cleaning Tips and Tricks, Hope Wissel

Easy Tips for Cleaning Your Grill

Grilling season here, and if your grill is still buried in the ashes of last summer’s Buffalo wings, steaks, and burgers, NOW is the time to give it some much-needed attention. Whether you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, these simple clean-up and grill guide is sure to equip you with all the right steps to becoming the ultimate grill-master this season!

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO CLEAN YOUR GRILL

I vaguely remember growing up with the theory of “burning off the old” and not really cleaning the grates.  Yup, I’m old and our grill was well used all year long.  Did you know when you leave remnants of your last meal on the grates, it will char and burn the next time you fire up the BBQ. It seems like a no-brainer, right?  This not only changes the taste but also the quality of your barbecue.  The burnt pieces are also harmful to your health. When you burn those charred bits at high temperatures, a harmful chemical compound is produced which can potentially increase your risk of cancer. So you definitely don’t want to keep the old stuff around!

STEPS TO CLEANING YOUR GRILL

1. GRILL GATE REMOVAL AND CLEANING

Grates must be maintained clean because they are in direct contact with food. Remove the cool grates first, then use a brush to remove any large debris. Next you’ll want to  immerse the grates in hot water and dish soap. Let them soak in a sink or large bucket to make it easier to scrub later. Lastly, clean the grill with a firm grill brush,  rinse and dry!

2. INTERNAL CLEANING OF THE GRILL 

Brush the grates’ interior to remove any gunk gathering at the bottom and around the sides.  If you have a charcoal barbecue, you’ll want to scrape away any large peeling flakes of carbon/grease from the ash catcher and empty it.  To make cleaning easier the next time, wash the drip pan and grease cup in warm soapy water and line with aluminium foil.

3. EXTERNAL CLEANING OF THE GRILL 

Using a sponge or towel soaked in warm soapy water, wipe off the exterior, handles, side trays, and any bottom doors. Thoroughly rinse and dry before firing up the grill.

Brush Safety

If you opt to use a brush with bristles to clean your grill, follow these safety steps:

  • Grill brushes are like toothbrushes. When you see the bristles beginning to flatten or lose their efficacy, it’s time to replace.
  • Apply the “tweezer test”: take a pair of tweezers, randomly select five to 10 bristles and gently pull – if any bristles come off, it’s time to replace.
  • It is not recommend to leave grill brushes exposed to the elements when not in use. The rain, sunlight, humidity, snow, etc., can age them prematurely.
  • Above all, treat your grill brush just as you would any part of your grill and grilling environment: Follow manufacturers’ instructions and continuously inspect before and after using.

GRILL RECIPE TO KICKSTART THE BBQ SEASON

Now you’ve given your grill a total-body-scrubdown, it’s time to get grilling! So, pull out all your favorite gear and get ready to try out a new recipe idea!

Share some of your favorite tips and tricks that help you get through your cleaning routine? Which grill-worthy recipes are you most excited to try this season?
Looking for more recipes and hacks, check out my VIP group – Hope’s Healthy Kitchen. 
Clear the Clutter, Unclutter Your Life

Debunking Cleaning Myths

Organic.  Non-Toxic. No GMOs.  Every where you turn, people are trying to avoid the toxic chemicals in their homes.  There are some good old fashioned cleaning tips which have fallen by the wayside in this fast paced world.

Here are some of those tried and true cleaning solutions our grandmothers probably used:

1. Cleaning and unclogging pipes.

Pour four teaspoons of baking soda into the sink, then add a cup of vinegar. If fizziness and bubbles arise, rinse it down with hot water and your pipe will be unclogged.  I know this one works because we have used it when we are out of Drano.  Cheaper and always on hand.

 

2. Cleaning pots with tomato sauce

Tomato sauce as a cleaning product … who knew? Stainless steel pots usually have a layer of copper, where copper oxide is formed during cooking. The tomato sauce contains acetic acid, which attacks the copper active base of the pan. Apply a thick layer of sauce on the base of the pan and let it work its magic for 30 minutes. Then wipe it away and watch the black stains disappear right before your eyes.

3. Plants help get rid of dust.

Dust appears everywhere, even after having cleaned it away 10 minutes ago. The good news is plants can help!  They not only bring life to the living room, BUT they also filter the pollutants from our air and provide us with fresh oxygen. Plants such as ferns and orchids catch the floating dust in the air on their leaves and can be wiped off with a damp cloth.

4. Sparkling water removes stains 

Another stain on your shirt? Quickly grab a bottle with sparkling water or soda and let the carbon dioxide dissolve the colour and tannins from the fabric.  This doesn’t work for fat or oil stains!  To use this method, saturate the spot and blot it up with a dry and absorbent cloth in a circular motion- always dab, never rub.

5. Lemon juice makes your exhaust duct shine 

The exhaust duct in the kitchen is a magnet for odors and oil stains. To remove the sticky spots, cut the lemon in half and rub it all over the metal surface. The acid quickly and efficiently removes fats and oils. For stubborn stains, add a few drops of detergent on a cloth and gently rub the stains away. Avoid the use of stainless steel sponges, as they tend to scratch the hood, making it shine even less than before.

6. Clean silver jewelry and silverware with toothpaste.

Is your silver jewelry starting to look dull? Just like your teeth, it turns out toothpaste is the perfect solution for silverware. Get your trusty toothpaste (not gel) out of the bathroom and scrub the ornaments with a toothbrush. Rinse the toothpaste off by dipping the silverware into a cup of warm water. The oxidized silver particles will be quickly washed away and your jewelry will start to shine again.

What is your best cleaning tip that was passed down in your family?  Share it with us.

Have an Epic day!

 

Clear the Clutter, Hope's Healthy Kitchen

How to Stock Your Kitchen

We are off on another road trip starting today as an early celebration of our wedding anniversary……I can’t believe it has been 11 years since we got married and in October, we will be together 20 years!  Where does the time go?

No, this is NOT a picture of our kitchen in our forever home But we do have lots of space.  As a result, I am always on the hunt to find ways to keep things well-stocked and organized.  What about you… do you have an organized kitchen and pantry?  Are you ready with plenty of items on-hand to whip up a healthy meal anytime – without having to leave the comfort of your home?  Keep these tips in mind while you’re shopping and putting groceries away to be a prep pro!

PANTRY PERFECTION

Your pantry may not be this big (not mine BUT ours is about this big!).  Organize your pantry or cupboard in sections:

  • Baking ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda.  Mine also includes chips, brown sugar and anything else I may need when baking.

  • Oils & vinegar (mine are actually over my stove in a cabinet so they are easy to reach)

  • Herb & Spice blends (a totally separate cabinet close to the stove so I don’t have to go to far)

  • Canned goods: beans, lentils, fish, tomatoes, vegetables

  • Dry goods; pasta, rice, quinoa

TIP: Put veggies like onions and potatoes in bins and store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Mine are in Tupperware bins in yet another cabinet in the kitchen.  LOL.

STOCK YOUR FREEZER

Is meal prep a thing at your house?  The closest I get to meal prep in the freezer is having lots of frozen vegetables, and meats on had.  Extra portions of meals (aka leftovers) are also frozen for those quick easy lunches or dinners when I’m not feeling well.  For many, meal prep means making big batches and then lay soups, broths, and chili flat in resealable bags for use during the week. Always keep frozen veggies and fruit in your freezer, along with your favorite protein.

TIP: Freeze leftovers in family-or-individual-sized containers for a quick “heat-and-eat meal” for the nights when you’re too busy to cook.

FIND IT FAST IN YOUR FRIDGE

Divide your fridge into sections:

  • Dairy/eggs, condiments (in the side door)

  • Veggies/fruit, meat/fish/poultry on a tray or plate to avoid leaks or in drawers if you have them.

  • Beverages

TIP: Keep prepped veggies and fruit near the front for quick access

SHOP WISELY 

The foods you choose to fuel your body directly impact your health. Whether you’re shopping online or stocking up on groceries to avoid the grocery line, here are some kitchen staples to keep you going:

Greek yogurt | Buy: 2%, plain, non-sweetened | Why: Fat-free can mean added sugar, and flavored yogurts can greatly increase your sugar intake.  Plain greek yogurt adds extra protein and can be “sweetened” with fruit or granola or a little Stevia.

Canned tomatoes | Buy: Low sodium | Why: We want to live well and feel great. For some people, too much sodium can make them retain water.

Olive oil | Buy: Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil – this is the healthiest because it comes from the first pressing and no chemicals were used in extraction | Why: Light olive oils do not mean light in calories, often, it means light in flavor.

Canned beans | Hack: Rinse your beans before use and reduce sodium by almost 30%

Pasta | Buy: Look for the first words to be “whole grain” on the ingredient list | Why: You want to avoid overly processed refined grains

Nuts & seeds | Buy: Natural, unsalted | Why: Sometimes nuts and seeds are coated with partially hydrogenated oil and added salt

Canned tuna & salmon | Buy: Packed in water, low sodium | Why: It will have less sodium and added fat

Crackers | Buy: Look for “whole grain” to be the first words on the ingredient list. They should have at least 3 g of fibre per serving and be low in sodium Why: Crackers can be overly processed and made with refined grains | Hack: Make your own healthy crackers with Everything Bagel Crackers.

 

 

Finally, remember to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Buy real food. Use wholesome ingredients.

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry (in-store or online).

  • Always have a list and stick to it.

For kitchen tips & tricks, recipes and more, check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook or my website at www.HopesHealthyKitchen.com

Have an Epic Day!

Clear the Clutter, Hope Inspires, Unclutter Your Life

Tips for a Happier Life

Let me start by saying I am NO expert…. I have good days and bad days.  Doesn’t every one?

When I see this picture I always think of the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. It seems so basic but how many of us look for happiness – sometimes in the wrong places.  For me, since MS & recovery, being happy means practicing being in the moment.  Not having expectations about things and definitely not trying to fix, manage or control things.

As I was scrolling through my earlier blogs, I was reminded about a post from one of my favorite bloggers, “alwaysthinkingimfat“.  Let me share a few tips to happiness from her with you:

Find light where it was once dark: Are you a half full glass or a half empty glass kind of person?  If you are a half empty kind of person, look for something to focus on.  A small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.  I know it may be hard to see BUT there is always a glimmer.  It could be the one chance to take yourself from a miserable place to some higher ground.

Reciprocate:  The bottom line is, on life’s journey it is so good to give rather than receive. Take time to notice others and give of yourself.  It will make you feel better and help make the World a better place!  Couldn’t we all use a little kindness these days.

Fuel your creative side:  You put gas in the car but do you ever fuel your creative side.  For years, I let my creative side get buried under the massive lists of  “to dos” and it made for a grumpy Hope.  Okay, so there may have been more to it but it definitely didn’t help.  LOL.  Take a minute right now to jot down some thoughts/ ideas.  Then make a plan to grab the glue gun or get the scrapbooking items out of the closet.  Better yet do it while you are thinking about it – NOW! The moments of elation and self worth will help to promote the positive and downplay the negative.

Active listening: Let’s be honest….are you ALWAYS an active listener or are you guilty of trying to figure out how to respond to what someone is saying.  I will admit it….I have been that person.  I am trying hard to practice active listening.  The truth is when you are not actively listening, you fail to give a person a chance to express themselves or share input as well as ideas. SMACK!  Who is joining me in practicing this??? 

Face your faults: Being a recovering addict and working a 12-step program has definitely helped in this area of my life.  There was a time in my life when I thought my faults made me less then.  When I hid them for fear someone may not like me.  In general, people tend to be defensive or remiss about their personal faults.  In my life, I am taking steps to say “I am not perfect and I have faults”.  But I can change or make it better, it is up to me.

Delight in success: Too many times, we fail to delight in life’s small successes.  If you lose weight you need to be happy about it and keep going.  Any loss is a loss, so celebrate!  If you set a small manageable goal and obtain it – CELEBRATE it.  Success does not have to be HUGE steps, it can be baby steps towards your goal.  Stop telling yourself you are not successful and become more self assured and confident!  I need to practice what I preach.  LOL!!!

Feed your mind and soul: Take the initiative to inspire, create and reflect.  You feed your body but what about your mind & soul!!  Take a walk to enjoy the beauty outside.  Read a book.  Listen to a podcast.  Do a craft project.  When you fill your cup, you are then able to fill others.  When your cup is empty, you have nothing to give anyone else.

Share your best tips for a happier life.  My best advice is to:  

Revel in Being You! Every day is a celebration! It is party time! Get your groove on!

Have an ThirtyOne-derful day!
Cleaning Tips and Tricks, Home Organization, Unclutter Your Life

How to Get Your Kitchen Clean and Organized

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Is storage space at a premium in your kitchen?  Do you dread cleaning the kitchen?  Or, like I used to be – dread even cooking in your kitchen?  I will admit, I was all of these about 18 months ago.  We had a small galley kitchen in the condo so I had to try to use every nook and cranny for storage.  Sometimes I even forgot I had items because they were stored in the utility room on the lower floor.   Now, we are in our forever home, with a BIGGER kitchen, I have lots of cabinet space.  Does it mean, I am totally organized?  LOL!  Definitely not but I do have a cabinet or two that is empty.  I have lots more counter space and do love spending time cooking.

Here are some tips to help you get and stay organized in your kitchen – regardless of the size…

1. Use Magnets:  Are you using your cabinet doors as a clever way to give yourself additional storage? I honestly never remember this one.. I have LOTS of cabinets and even though there is lots of counter space, I would like to “hide” some of the kitchen utensils.  Cabinets are a great to store knives so you don’t have to use a knife block or take up counter space… just make sure you use a strong enough magnet to keep the knives in place.  I think this will be one of hubby’s next projects – to install some for me.

2. Labeling System:  Labels are a great way to help you organize your kitchen or for that matter any space in your home. It takes the guesswork out of where to put things when others want to help or are looking for something.  Labeled cubes have been the saving grace in our new house.  It allows hubby to look for things by me simply telling him which closet and which cube to look in.  Putting things away is easy for everyone when they can see where things are supposed to go. Your labeling system could be as simple as plastic storage containers with small a labels OR clear containers so people can see what is inside.  Maybe it is plastic crates with labels or even just a piece of tape to say what goes in it.

3. Add Storage By Hacking “Unopenable” Drawers:  We all have those “fronts” in our kitchen, right?  I had them in the condo and this would have been a great way to gain some counter space.  Unopenable drawers look like a drawer but don’t have a handle.  What if you could make use of those un-openable drawers beneath the sink or above a counter?  We have sink drawers in our new kitchen. I was surprised I actually use them and remember things are there.  LOL.  I keep the bottle brush and extra scrubbies.

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4.  Use A Tension Rod To Hang Cleaning Products.  A tension rod can be a great way for storing and organizing spray bottles so you have additional space in an otherwise cramped under-sink cabinet.  I think I would put it a little further back in the closet so I had more space in the front.

5. Clean Your Blender Quickly.  Do you love smoothies but hate cleaning the blender?  Do you use your blender to chop up the garlic?  Here is a quick cleaning tip: pour warm water in it with a tiny bit of dish soap. Put the lid on the blender and turn it on. Now it’s all clean! Just be sure to give it a quick rinse after to get rid of the soap residue.

6. Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances With Flour.  Tired of chemical in your cleaning products?  Here is a tip from Mother Nature Network. Just apply some dry flour onto a microfiber cloth and buff it into your stainless steel appliance, sink or counter. Then rinse it off and the surface should shine like new.  If you are looking to clean your stainless steel pans………try heating some water with vinegar in the pan.  Use a wood spoon or non-stick spatula to loosen the stuck on mess.  Let it cool and then wash as usual.  I hate to admit I use this trick more often than I want to.  LOL

What are some of YOUR best tips for keeping your kitchen clean and organized?  Share them with us.  Have an Epic day!