Deep Cleaning List to Tackle Before and During the Holidays

A woman cleans in her house

There is certainly enough to stress about before and during the holidays without worrying about a messy house. Use this list to welcome the holidays with a home that is clean and cozy giving you more time to celebrate and create traditions rather than clean! Plus, it is always easier to have a literal clean slate before putting up any holiday decorations.

  • Most ovens are self-cleaning but usually require a more detailed cleaning a few times a year. The self-clean option doesn’t reach the gunk around door hinges and frames and the crumb-catching space around the oven. Make sure to remove racks and clean separately. To give your turkey, ham, or other holiday main course a clean room to cook, follow your manufacturer’s directions for best practices.
  • It seems like an appliance like a dishwasher would be self-cleaning, but over time bacteria and leftover bits of food can create unwanted odors and make your dishwasher less effective at its job. It’s easy to clean your dishwasher by placing a dishwasher-friendly cup or bowl on the top rack filled with about two-thirds of white vinegar, then running it on a normal cycle with hot water to sterilize. Afterward, use a rag or towel to wipe the edges of the door and rubber seal with white vinegar or your favorite all-purpose cleaner.
  • Before holiday baking begins, it is time to do a deep clean on the pantry. Start by removing everything from the pantry, checking expiration dates, and wiping down the shelves. Take special note of the expiration dates in your spice rack. Spices don’t get used up as quickly, but they can lose potency over time and may need replacing for the best-tasting holiday meals.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer to make room for all the holiday leftovers. Tackle this task the day before trash day so that if you do have to throw out the mystery or expired items, it does not have to sit in the trash for too long. Working in sections, take food out to clean away crumbs and spills inside the refrigerator. Using clear bins is a great way to get this area organized.
  • Wash blinds, curtains, and other window treatments to remove dust and lingering odors.
  • Clean in and around your furniture. Remove all cushions and vacuum the creases where pet hair and popcorn love to get lost. Move the furniture around to clean underneath it and behind it if it sits against a wall.
  • Dust all the areas that usually get overlooked. Focus on areas like air vents, ceiling fan blades, window sills, crown molding, and baseboards.
  • All the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the floors, and the kitchen cabinets/counters will also need some attention before the holidays. Make it easier by grabbing the rest of the family, putting on some holiday music, and tackling a few of these items each day.

We hope this deep cleaning list will be helpful to you as you get ready for a wonderful holiday season filled with long-lasting memories. As always, Zippy Shell is prepared to partner with you if you need a storage solution or are looking at a local or long-distance move. Contact us online for more information on our moving and storage options.

5 Grilling Tips For Your 4th of July Barbecue

Grilling

With most parades and firework shows canceled across the country, 4th of July is going to look a little different this year.  Fortunately, we are still able to celebrate with our families at home. If you are planning to barbecue with your family for Independence Day, check out some of our favorite grilling tips.

PREPARE YOUR MENU AND SUPPLIES IN ADVANCE

Don’t wait until you are about to get the grill fired up to make sure you have everything you need. Stores are generally packed and out-of-stock on classic 4th of July foods and supplies, so make sure you get stocked up beforehand. Check your propane tank or charcoal supply in advance as well. Plan your menu and do your shopping a few days before.  If you plan to marinate your meat, get that ready the night before. It is also important to take the time to make sure your grill and all the grates are clean and ready to go.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Try to not overwhelm yourself with a complex menu. The more variety that you have, the more you will have to keep up with. It can be hard to cook multiple types of meat and veggies at once if they require different temperatures and cooking times.

HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ACCESSIBLE

You should have all your tools and supplies that you are going to need nearby and accessible—clean pans to put the food in once cooked, a meat thermometer, spatula and tongs, aluminum foil, and a spray bottle in case of flare-ups.

JUST LET IT COOK (NO SQUEEZING)

Once you get your meat cooking, you want to leave it alone as much as possible. One common mistake is pressing down on the meat and squeezing out the fat, which will drip down causing flare-ups. The goal is to keep the fat in the meat, so don’t press down on it! Try to keep your flipping to a minimum as well.

REST YOUR MEAT

Once your meat has reached the appropriate temperature, allow it 5-10 minutes to rest. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it nice and moist. We know it is tempting to jump right in once the food is done, but trust us, this extra time will make a difference.

ENJOY!

Grilling out is a favorite pastime for a lot of us, especially on celebratory days. We hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. If you have any other grilling master tips, we’d love to hear them! Stop by our Facebook page and share with us and the rest of our Zippy Shell community.

If you have an upcoming local or long-distance move, or you are in need of mobile storage, give us a call at 888-947-7974. We would be happy to talk with you and provide you with a free, no-obligation estimate. You can also use our website to reserve your move at your convenience.

5 Common Fire Hazards in Your Home

Family plays with cardboard box while unpacking

Home fires are dangerous and can result in devastating property damage and even loss of life. You may consider your home fire-safe, but you should always prepare for the unexpected. Having a fire-safety checklist with you when you are evaluating potential new properties or when updating/remodeling is a great way to help you spot potential hazards that might not be so obvious.

There are several common fire hazards, though, that you can easily identify. Taking steps now to remedy any of these hazards could save a life in the future.

  • Electrical Cords – The first step to reducing fire hazards caused by electrical cords is to make sure all major appliances are plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet and not an extension cord. This includes refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other large appliances. Keep in mind, too, that a surge suppressor is not made for heavy loads. Also, make sure all electrical cords are in good working condition and not broken, cut or frayed. Even old extension cords that look as if they are in good working condition may need to be replace from time to time.
  • Heating – To prevent fires, have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected each year. If you are purchasing a new home, be sure to ask about the last time these items were completed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from all heating equipment. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, and portable space heaters. Always use a fire screen or fireplace doors to contain sparks from your fireplace. While asleep or when you leave home always extinguish all fires and candles and unplug all heating appliances. Never assume that the fire will “burn down” or that the flame is contained.
  • Clothes Dryer – Fires involving clothes dryers are usually caused by accumulated lint, which is highly flammable. Lint can build up in both the lint trap and the venting system. The best way to prevent this fire hazard is to clean the lint trap on your clothes dryer with each and every load. It is also recommended to have your dryer vents professionally cleaned every 12 to 24 months.
  • Cooking – Unattended cooking is involved in the majority of kitchen fires. The best way to prevent these fires is to closely supervise your cooking. Also, remove clutter from your cooking area and keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the stove top area.

  • Safety Tools – While there are things you can do to minimize fire risk in your home, be sure you have the tools on hand in case something happens. First and foremost is a working smoke detector. Test your smoke detector and ensure it works. Maintain it according to manufacturer directions and never, ever take the smoke detector down or disable it. Another key safety tool is a fire extinguisher. Every home should have at least one.

A fire can easily occur in your home, regardless of your home’s age, location, or condition. Take the time to reduce and eliminate as many fire hazards as possible before the holidays! 

Top 5 Fun 4th of July Party Must Haves

July 4th party in backyard

With 4th of July coming up this week, finalize your party plans with these tips! Fourth of July is a great holiday to get together and party with friends, family, and neighbors. Celebrate this holiday the right way with these genius party ideas.

USA Flag cake

A flag cake is a fun dessert that everyone will get to enjoy. Use any cake that your crowd prefers, including ice cream cake, cookie cake, a classic cake, or another crowd pleaser. Ice the cake with white frosting for the base layer of the flag. Place blueberries in the top left corner of the cake to symbolize the stars on the flag. Finish it off by lining strawberries or raspberries in lines across the cake to mimic stripes and enjoy! Use some of these recipes as well to add to the American treats you serve!

Grilled corn on the cob

Corn on the cob is a classic 4th of July food, so make sure you have it at your BBQ. Corn on the cob is a great crowd-pleaser that is easy to make, and you can season it in a variety ways, depending on crowd preference. Cover it in Old Bay, cheese, parsley, BBQ sauce, and so much more!

Red, white, and blue tablecloth

A decorative tablecloth is exactly what every party needs to embrace the holiday. It’s an easy addition to a party that adds a significant effect. There are a variety of red, white, and blue tablecloths that you can buy, or if you’re feeling crafty you can even make your own! Feel free to fill the table with patriotic centerpieces as well. Check out one of our other blogs that explains how to make one out of bandanas along with a few other decorations you can try!

Patriotic cocktail

Garnish your favorite cocktail with strawberries on the bottom of the glass and blueberries on the top to create a red, white, and blue effect from top to bottom. This works great with a vodka soda or a gin and tonic to create a transparent color, emphasizing the colors of the berries.

Sparklers

Sparklers are an easy way to replace fireworks and are much safer for everyone to use than traditional fireworks. Make sure not to point the sparklers at anyone and use them in an open space outdoors. Sparklers can be fun for children to use as well, but be sure to not let children under twelve handle sparklers on their own and supervise their use at all times! Anyone using the sparklers should not wear open toed shoes to protect their feet from stray sparks.

Top Father’s Day Gift Ideas

father and son on pier

If you have the dad who already has everything he “needs,” use some of these gift ideas to give dad a present he will love for his special day.

Yeti™ cup

For all of his travel drink necessities, yeti cups serve all purposes. They easily fit in all car cup holders, as well as are capable of holding hot or cold drinks at their preferred temperature.

Baseball tickets

If Dad’s favorite team is playing on Father’s Day, consider buying some tickets and go!  If there isn’t a professional game available, going to a minor league game is always a good alternative.

Grilling equipment

Whether it’s time to replace your old grill, or acquire some new grilling utensils, buy some for the dad who loves to grill.

Lawn games

While enjoying a fun BBQ or family gathering, lawn games are always a hit.

Tile mate™

Attach a tile mate to dad’s keys or something else he frequently loses to help him quickly find it by summoning it from his phone.

Gravity blanket

This weighted blanket will encompass dad in a big, comfy bear hug to help him get a great sleep at night.

Kindle Paperwhite™

This latest edition of kindle allows for access to thousands of books in a waterproof material. Provide dad with his favorite classics that he can read by the water.

Digital picture frame

Give dad not one, not two, but multiple pictures in one frame! A digital picture frame allows you to display various images in a slide show all on the same frame. This is perfect for dad’s desk or any cozy countertop at home too.

Fitbit™

Give dad some subtle help to assist him in losing a few pounds with this fitness watch.

Best Activities to do for Memorial Day Weekend

Get outside and spend some time with friends and family this Memorial Day weekend with these activities!

  1. Attend the National Memorial Day Parade

The National Memorial Day parade takes place in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day at 2 pm. This is the largest Memorial Day parade in the country, featuring marching bands, floats, performers, and veterans themselves all throughout our nation’s capital.

2. Visit Arlington National Cemetery

Get a group and volunteer to help lay flowers to honor hundreds of thousands of our servicemen and women’s graves.

3. Go to the beach

Enjoy your long weekend and take a trip to the beach! Have some fun outside in the sun, and get to enjoy some fireworks at the end of the day. 

4. Go to a local rooftop bar

Check out this list of the best rooftop bars in the country to see if there is one nearby you to visit.  Any outdoor restaurant or bar will make the holiday enjoyable.

5. Backyard BBQ

Spend Memorial Day with a classic holiday bar-b-que, grilling out with neighbors and friends.

6. Go to the pool

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start of when all of the outdoor pools open up, so go put on a bathing suit and go to your local pool!

7. Play lawn games

Get the whole family outside and set up some lawn games.  Everyone from all ages will love lawn games like corn hole, horse shoes, spikeball, frisbee, football, kan jam, and so much more! 

Whether you’re out with friends or relaxing with family, Zippy Shell wishes you a happy Memorial Day weekend!  Contact us for any of your moving and storage needs!

10 Creative Graduation Party Ideas

As the end of the school year wraps up, graduation is right around the bend for many students.  Get started planning for you or a loved one’s graduation party with these ideas!

  1. Graduation cap cupcakes

Top a chocolate cupcake with a square piece of chocolate to mimic a graduation cap.  Add an m&m candy in the middle of it with a piece of string to complete the tassel for this sweet treat!

2. Class rings

Lay out a tray full of ring pops for a funny graduation themed candy.

3. Photo letters

Attach black and white photos to wooden block letters, it’s recommended to use the word “GRAD” but you can also use the graduate’s initials or Alma mater.

4. Memory jar

Place a jar on a table, accompanied by a stack of sticky notes and pens.  When people walk by they can write some of their favorite memories about the guest of honor for them to keep forever.

5. Diploma rolls

Fill a tortilla wrap with any food items of your choosing.  A savory option being ham, cheese, mushrooms, etc.  A sweet option being Nutella, peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, and more! Tie a little string around the wrap to complete the diploma aesthetic. 

6. Graduation wreath

Display an arrangement of photos from childhood to present time in a circle, with their graduation cap on the top to complete the wreath.

7. Backdrop

Cover one wall in school colors with their graduation year in big numbers at the top of this wall.  This makes for a great decoration, as well as a nice photo-op.

8. Theme

If this is for a high school graduate, and they have already chosen what college they are going to attend, deck the place out in the color scheme and logos of their future college. If they have just graduated college and are planning on taking on a career such as a doctor or teacher, perhaps decorate it accordingly to their future occupation.

9. Large balloon numbers

Get some classic big helium balloons to celebrate their graduation year as well as create another great photo op.

10. String lights

String lights always add a pleasing aesthetic to any party.  Whether you are stringing these lights outdoors, or inside along a wall, they will serve as a lovely piece of décor for your graduate.

If your graduate is moving off to college or moving home from college, get a quote from Zippy Shell today to help you move your belongings! 

Easter Brunch Tips

Easter can be a stressful day to prepare for, so use these tips to enjoy the holiday brunch as best as possible!

Drinks

Start off brunch with some yummy cocktails for the adults.  A couple Easter favorites include:

  • 1-part Jack Honey and 1-part grapefruit juice
  • Wine spritzer filled with 1-part chilled wine, and 1-part club soda then top it with any fruit of your choice
  • Classic mimosa with 2 parts orange juice, 2 parts champagne, and 1-part triple sec (use a different fruit juice if you want to mix up the flavor from an original mimosa)
  • Kid-friendly peachy juice: 2 grapefruits, one slice of melon, and one peach all blended until smooth

Brunch

Easter brunch naturally must include eggs in the meal!

  • Eggs in a basket: Cut out a hole in a piece of bread and fry an egg in the middle of it on a pan.  Sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and or cheese.
  • Breakfast potatoes: Dice your potatoes and cook them in a tablespoon of olive oil on an iron skillet.  Once they are nice and golden brown, add finely chopped bacon.  After this cooks as well, top it off with a clove of garlic and parsley.
  • Ham muffins: Insert individual slices of ham into a muffin tray.  Fill the ham with a single egg, topped with salt, pepper, and chives.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Thanksgiving Recipes

Spice up Thanksgiving with some new recipes to enjoy all the holiday foods you love with a twist.

Brie bites

Get your serving of cranberry sauce served up with some extra flavor.  Using pre-made biscuit dough, place a cube of brie into the middle of your biscuit.  Then top the brie with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.  Finally, bake them in the oven with the directed time and temperature  for the dough.

Mashed sweet potatoes

Change up your ordinary mashed potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes! This dish can be made with butter and seasonings to go with dinner or add some brown sugar and cinnamon for dessert!

Apple pie salsa and chips

Create a dish of apple pie filling and put it in a small bowl.  Serve it with a plate of cinnamon flavored chips or crisps to have apple salsa!

Stuffing muffins

Make your usual stuffing recipe, but do not transfer it into your turkey.  Place it into a bowl and shape little circles together to fit into your muffin dish.  Use an egg or butter to get the stuffing to hold together in a ball.  Bake until golden brown.

Seasoned sprouts

Brown your brussels sprouts in olive oil and season with salt to taste.  Add butter, chicken stock, and shallots to accentuate the flavor of the brussels sprouts and cook until soft and tender.

Oreo turkeys

Using candy eyes and candy corn, create a face and a tail of feathers on an Oreo using frosting as glue to stick the pieces on.

Pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies

Make a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies and mix pumpkin puree into the batter!

Zippy Shell of Northern Illinois Participates in the Frontier Days Fourth of July Parade

Zippy Shell of Northern Illinois proudly participated in the Frontier Days Fourth of July Parade! The team decorated their Zippy Shells with red, white, and blue patriotic decorations. Zippy Shell joined numerous military units, marching bands, dancers, and parade-goers to celebrate the fourth.
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