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.

Top 10 Holiday Decorating Hacks

holiday decorating

The holidays are all about doing fun activities and making memories with friends and family. Baking, looking at lights, listening to music, watching holiday movies, opening gifts, enjoying good food and drinks, and decorating are all ways to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Some people stress over holiday decorating, but it should be fun, not stressful! Take the stress out of your holiday decorating with these fun and easy hacks.

Decorating the Tree

  • Bulk up your artificial tree by wrapping extra garland around areas that are looking bare.
  • If you are using a pre-lit tree, add an extra strand of lights or two for some extra sparkle. To make the look more interesting, add light strands with a different sized bulb.
  • For a perfectly balanced tree, place your large ornaments first and then fill in the gaps with smaller ones. You can also hang ball ornaments deep inside the branches of your tree to fill gaps and hide any bare spots. Use green floral wire or evergreen pipe cleaners to secure heavy or priceless ornaments to the branches.
  • We all know how tempting a fully decorated tree is for toddlers and fur babies. Hanging jingle bells on the bottom of your tree will give you a heads up when kids and pets are pulling on the branches.
  • If your old tree skirt has seen better days, multi-purpose a soft neutral-colored throw blanket as your tree skirt. It can be used year-round and doesn’t have to be stored the rest of the year!
  • When wrapping gifts for underneath the tree, use a specific gift wrap for each member of your family. This will cut down on having to use gift tags and if you keep your wrapping paper choices a secret, as a bonus it will also cut down on the holiday present peeking.

Decking the Halls

  • If you are short on storage and storing boxes of holiday decorations just doesn’t make the cut, use disposable items like paper or greenery to create cute holiday decorations.  Create festive garland with items like popcorn and cranberries that can be used to feed the birds after the holidays. Candy canes can also be used to create cute, edible decor.
  • Bring the outdoors in by cutting branches from winter trees such as pine and birch. You can use branches on your mantle, hanging above your bed, on the chandelier, or around the banister. Not only do these natural items look great you will also get a great holiday scent from them. Create natural garland out of pinecones or use them to make a wreath. You can spray paint your pinecone creations or add glitter for extra flair.
  • Using candles in hurricane vases surrounded by beads, evergreen, berries, fake snow, or small ornaments is always a favorite decor item. Get by with using less filler by placing a can beneath your candle in the vase. Not only will you use less filler your candle will sit perfectly straight! Another trick is to put a toilet paper roll in the middle of an apothecary jar allowing you to save filler there, too.
  • Tie strips of ribbon or burlap in any color scheme onto a string of lights to make a quick, cute garland. 

Finally, take photos of your decor when it’s all in place so you can remember for next year! And if you have a move coming up after the holidays, or you need options for storage, give Zippy Shell a call for a free, no-obligation estimate.

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! 

8 Kitchen Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed

Young woman making food in her kitchen

Holiday gift-giving season is upon us and whether you are purchasing for yourself or others, we’ve got a fresh list of kitchen gadget goodness that will amaze and astound you and your recipients. Feel free to go to any of your favorite online (or sticks and bricks) shopping destinations and pop these items in search to find all of the top brands.

Veggie Spiralizer or Noodle Maker: Paleo, keto and gluten-free are popular diet movements at the moment, which means limited or no pasta in the diet, but you can craft pasta out of sweet potatoes, zucchini or squash. The pre-made squash or zucchini noodles in the market area of your store can be very expensive and they might not necessarily be that fresh, so if you are craving a past-like experience minus the carbs, this may be the gadget for you.

Sparkling Water Maker: Interested in ensuring that your sparkling water is fresh and free of additives? Make your own! There are several CO2 infusers on the market. Grab some recipes off the Internet and create your own flavored sparkling water.

Ice Ball Makers: What, you didn’t know that ice balls were a thing? Cubes melt quickly, diluting those expensive beverages. Ice balls not only look really cool, but they take much longer to melt, thus keeping your beverage cooler longer.

Insta Pot: We’ve been told by Insta Pot addicts that it can replace up to 8 of your other small kitchen gadgets. There are a variety of these pressure cookers on the market, but these aren’t the pressure cookers your mom had. Oh, no. These new cookers take only 20 minutes to do what once took an hour and wash only a pot and lid, as opposed to multiple pots and pans. Some even come with pre-programmed recipes!

Griddle: Yes, we know that griddles aren’t a new thing, but these aren’t the griddles of the past. Today’s griddles are streamlined and loaded with features that make them indispensable on those days you don’t want to stand outside in the rain or cold to grill or use the expensive outdoor cooker. The newer countertop griddles boast a ridged side for a grilled look and snap in, non-stick plates. You could easily make an entire meal in one swoop.

Air Fryer: Air fryers are relatively new and most on your gift list won’t even know they needed one – until you give it. These gadgets use very hot air to “fry” your favorite foods, eliminating fatty oils. Most require no preheating, saving you time, too. Reviews are varied on this kitchen gadget, but for those trying to eliminate traditional frying and fatty oils, an air fryer may just be the ticket.

Electric Jar Opener: It’s ok to admit it – sometimes we have difficulty opening that pickle jar, no matter how many times we hit it with a fork! Fortunately, someone thought of that and an electric jar opener may be a great, inexpensive stocking stuffer for anyone. It’s simple to operate, too: position it, push a button, watch it rotate. Voila, that pesky jar has been opened!

Color-Coded Cutting Boards: Thinking about that cutting board soaking up the chicken while trying to slice a cucumber on it is no fun. Today’s cutting boards are hygienic, color-coded and do not transmit bacteria. They are nonporous and easy to store, too. Many come in their own carrier. They don’t crack and are long lasting. Even better these boards are colored according to the food: meat, cooked, veggies, seafood and more.

New and innovative kitchen gadgets are hitting the market every day. When you move into that new space, toss out the old and consider some new kitchen gadgets to save you time and money.

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.

Winter Activities for the Whole Family

Whether you are trying to stay warm inside or enjoy the snow outdoors, here are just a few activities your family can partake in this winter.

Go snow tubing
Visit your local ski resort to go snow tubing. The whole family can enjoy this thrilling snow activity without the risk or skill required for snowboarding or skiing.

Play board games
If it is too cold and windy outdoors, have a family game night indoors with your favorite board games!

Go bowling
Enjoy a day or evening at the bowling alley as a fun way to enjoy a cold winter day.

Go ice skating
Enjoy a fun winter activity that doesn’t require the weather to be a nice winter day at the ice rink!

Sledding
Once the snow falls, go enjoy a day of sledding outside. Make sure to stay safe and have fun!

Bake cookies
In order to stay warm from the cold outdoors, bake your favorite treats during this holiday season. Cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and more! You can even try making some homemade hot chocolate.

Arts and crafts
Enjoy some time inside by making snowflakes, snowmen, and other winter characters out of paper or cardboard.

Happy Holidays!

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!