5 Tips for Getting Your Backyard Organized for Summer Gatherings


Guest blog by Alex DeMarzo

Summer’s here, which means one thing: we can finally have backyard gatherings! At long last, we have a respite from the rain, from sleet, from snow… The clouds are gone, the sun is out, it’s time to invite some folks into your backyard for a garden party or barbecue. Need a little inspiration to get you going?

1. Make sure your lawn is in good shape

Whether you’re migrating to more of an eco-friendly xeriscaping vibe or you’re keeping your grass, make sure your lawn is in good shape! You don’t want to invite guests over, only to have them step in mud or fire ants. Plus, from an aesthetic perspective, there’s nothing summery about a dying lawn. One easy way to ensure your lawn is always looking its best is to lay down AstroTurf, or another artificial lawn option. While it’s certainly an investment, it’s one that goes a long way. They require minimal maintenance, and it keeps your lawn looking fresh—year round. 

2. Ensure the rest of your backyard greenery is healthy, too

Your lawn is important, but don’t neglect other parts of your backyard, either. Trim those shrubs, branches, and flowers! Pull those weeds. Make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Just like your lawn, while this is often an issue of aesthetics, it can be a safety issue, too. With warmer weather, new types of critters come out to play. Long or unkempt lawns, weeds, or untrimmed shrubbery can create nests or homes for rats, snakes, or worse! If you’re going to have folks in your backyard, the last thing you’d want is for someone to get bitten or even just freaked out!

3. Get an exterminator out there, if you need to

Making sure critters don’t have a place to live is an excellent place to start, but it’s not always the last step. If you do have a pest problem, whether it’s mosquitos, wasps, rats, or snakes, make sure you deal with it before you have people come over. Once you’ve got the landscaping bit out of the way, it’s simple. Don’t overlook this one or get lazy! Remember: during the winter, critters come inside; during summer, the outdoors is their turf. 

4. Think about how you’re going to decorate… or if that’s necessary.

Some people are lucky enough to have built-in lighting and, in some cases, even furniture. Consider the time of day and the type of activities you’d like to do during your backyard gathering. Decor considerations to include are lighting, citronella candles if you need them, additional embellishments. If you’re going to have a lot of people over, you may want to invest in fold-out lawn chairs. Maybe now’s the time to install that fire pit you’ve been eyeing. Maybe you want to finally invest in that BBQ. Treat your outdoor space like you would any indoor space, and make sure it’s designed for comfort and that you’re maximizing your space. Make sure that you have a place to throw things away! Nobody wants garbage.

5. Clean up

This is a broad one, but as important as anything else on this list. Make sure your space is clean! Pressure clean your deck or patio, replace any broken tiles or planks of wood, and wash down that lawn furniture. These things stay outside year round, so they’re more likely to get dirty. You want your guests to feel comfortable enough to eat and socialize outdoors. Pressure cleaners are cheap to rent, and finding someone who can do the cleaning for you can also be extremely affordable. One other consideration: If you don’t have a bathroom that’s specifically designed for your patio or backyard area, make sure the area in your house where people may be walking through is clean too. 

All-in-all, before you have a big event, ensure that you’ve thought carefully about your space. It’s easy to assume that backyard parties are as easy as firing up the BBQ and having some folks over. There are a lot of moving parts, though! Make sure you’re on top of all of them. 

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9 Quick and Easy House Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms


Guest blog by Riya Sander

If you are a mom of one, two, three, or even more kids, then you will be more than aware of the time that it takes just to make sure everybody gets through each and every day unscathed! If taking care of your children was the only domestic duty you had to worry about, there’d be no problem.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of other duties that the majority of mothers have to contend with on a daily basis, and I think it’s fair to say that chief among them is keeping the house nice and clean. The housework schedule for working moms in particular can be really hectic, so the more tips and tricks they know, the easier their lives will be! Here are some quick and easy cleaning tips for working moms!

1. Energy Efficient Washing Machine

This should be the most important thing in your kitchen! Pick an energy efficient washing machine and it can make a huge difference to doing laundry. Whether you want to be the owner of a front loader or a top loader washer, the key advantage is that you will be graced with a much lower electric bill than you might have previously been used to. Take a look at this super helpful article if you want to understand the differences between a front loader versus a top loader and the benefits of each type.

2. Stop Folding

Did you know that you can cut your laundry doing time in half simply by not folding it once you take it out of the machine or dryer? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you walk around in wrinkled clothing every day! Instead, put all clothing items on hangers in their respective bedrooms and the clothes will iron themselves out thanks to the power of gravity!

3. Oven Baking Sheet

To avoid the bottom of your oven becoming the disgusting greasy mess that it tends to get after a little while, cut out a covering sheet of baking paper and place it along the lowest surface in your cooker. This paper will act as a big collecting plate for the grease and other bits that fall down as time goes by. When the time comes for cleaning, all you have to do is remove and replace the baking sheet rather than scrubbing on your hands and knees. You can also use foil, or even buy special over liners designed to do the job. They are usually washable to be reused.

4. Rubber Glove Pet Hair

If you have a cat or dog and are plagued with constant pet fur all over your furniture, then an easier way to deal with it than lint rollers is to use a pair of new rubber gloves. Pop them on, get them slightly wet and then proceed to rub your hands all over your furniture. You will see that the pet fur comes away in big clumps that you can then dispose of in a neat and tidy fashion.

5. Sweep As You Leave

Instead of letting dust and debris build up on your floors over a period of time, you should get into the habit of sweeping yourself out of a room every time you are leaving it. This is a fun little habit to pick up and ensures that your floors never have the chance to accumulate the kind of mess that can take a much longer time to clear up.

6. Invest in a Long Extension Cord

Vacuuming can take a lot of your time, and even more if you have to keep unplugging from one room to plug in another. Invest in an extra long extension cord (such as one on a reel) and you will only have to plug and unplug once. The cord will also come in handy for jobs in the garden or garage.

7. Ditch Paper Towels

Paper towels might be an instant fix to messy spills, but they pose the risk of creating their own heap of mess by filling up trash cans and coming apart in overly wet and sloppy incidents. Instead, switch to using microfiber or organic cotton towels that you don’t throw away but rather put in to your washing machine when they reach their dirt limit! This prevents your bins from filling up with paper towels, and you can also do your bit for the environment by making house cleaning more ethical and sustainable.

8. Get the Kids to Do Their Bit

If you engender good habits in your little ones they can help out as well as learning valuable lessons. As they age ensure they know to always put their toys away, keep their bedrooms tidy, and take their rubbish out. The tidier and cleaner your kids are, the easier the household chores are for you.

9. A 5-Minute Bathroom Fix

Cleaning the bathroom is everyone’s least favorite chore. Ceramic tiles are a great low-maintenance bathroom surface but they still need a little bit of love to keep them looking great. The good news is that you don’t have to waste precious time and money in order to get the smallest room in the house sparkling clean.

Everyday household items can be used to achieve a brilliant shine on any ceramic surface. A mixture of vinegar and water applied with a microfiber cloth is a fabulous non-toxic way to get your tiles, sinks, and showers spotless. For tougher stains, add some baking soda to make a paste and apply with an old toothbrush. Leave for 5 minutes and just wipe the paste away. Easy!

When you have multiple tasks to fit in every day as well as keeping a watchful eye on your children, it pays to be organised. Tidy as you go, use precious time when the kids are playing or asleep wisely, and always put things away at the end of the day. Find more cleaning tips online and incorporate them into your routine for happier, healthier days.

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4 Ways to Pack a Perfectly Organized Beach Bag


Guest blog by Kacey Mya, the blogger behind The Drifter Collective

Getting the family to the beach is a mission in and of itself. You’ve packed the bags, filled the car and gotten everyone to your rental for the week. But that’s just the beginning.

Once you’re at the beach, you must make sure the bag you’ll carry with you has all the under-the-sun essentials you and your family will need throughout the day. As such, you have to pack it thoughtfully — not only do you want to make sure you have everything, but that you can easily locate what you need throughout the day.

So, start by laying out everything you think you might need in your beach bag. Then, pack it with our four best tips.

What Does Every Beach Bag Need?

You probably have an idea of what you want to bring to the beach with you already. But when it comes to must-haves, don’t forget the following.

  • Sunscreen: The American Academy of Dermatology suggests you choose a broad-spectrum variety that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure you select a brand with a sun protection factor of at least 30. And, if you plan to jump into the sea, find a water-resistant formula.
  • Towels: Once again, these are an obvious must-have. Opt for a thicker terrycloth towel to soak up water and dry you off faster.
  • Protective accessories: Everyone’s beach look will be different. Whether you prefer to wear sunglasses, a sun hat, a coverup or all three, make sure you pack all the accessories you and your family need to stay comfortable under the sun.
  • First-aid kit: As a parent, you must go to the beach prepared. As such, any beach packing list should always include a first-aid kit in case of the unexpected. Some will include bug spray, too, depending on the environment.

Of course, every family’s list of essentials will differ. For instance, you might want to carry along beach furniture, such as chairs or umbrellas, if you’re spending all day by the shore.

How Do I Pack It?

Now that you know what needs to fit into your bag, here are some tips for ensuring it all fits.

1. Roll Towels and Clothes

Firstly, you don’t want to fold your towels into squares and throw them in the bag. If you do, you’ll quickly run out of space for everything else you need to fit. So, fold the towels in half once vertically to create a long rectangle. Then, roll them into cylinders you can place in a corner of your bag, leaving the rest of it open for other essential items. If you bring extra clothes to the beach, do the same with them to maximize space.

2. Place Bigger Must-Haves Next

Now that you have your towels and clothes in place, you have to smartly organize the rest of your bag to fit everything else. So, round up all your larger items now. Perhaps you’ve picked up one of the summer’s best beach reads, or you’ve stocked up on magazines to browse by the beach. Slide them into the bag now, along with any children’s toys that will take up a lot of square footage. Don’t forget that if your kids want to bring buckets, shovels, etc., the bucket itself can be a beach bag — let the kids carry their buckets filled with all their other toys. This tactic will give you more space to work with inside your bag, too.

3. Then, Durable, Smaller Items

You can probably already see the pockets of space where you can slide your small-but-essential items now. Tubes of sunscreen, goggles, lip balm, reusable water bottles and more can slip in just about anywhere. And you don’t have to worry about them getting jostled around or covered in sand, so put them wherever there’s room.

4. Protect Important Pieces from the Sand and Sun

Finally, you’ll probably have your cell phone and perhaps a camera with you on the beach, as well as some cash, credit cards, headphones, etc. Some of these items are easy to lose, so you don’t want to toss them into your beach bag with no plan. In a similar vein, too much sand or sun exposure can ruin your electronics.

So, protect the final items you place in the bag. At the very least, toss your wallet into a Ziploc bag to keep it dry and dirt-free. If you plan to spend lots of time at the beach this summer, you can invest in a waterproof phone case, although the plastic bag trick would work here, too. No matter how you protect your pieces, make sure you keep them in the shade so they don’t sustain any heat-related damage, either.

Have It All

With proper planning and packing tactics, you can easily pack your beach bag and ensure you have everything within reach. So, get started — write out your must-have checklist, fold everything wisely, then slip it all into place. With that, you’re ready to go, and you’ll have everything you need for a perfect day at the beach.

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