Christmas as a Kid Versus Christmas as an Adult

The Joy of Christmas Morning

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As a child, you woke up on Christmas morning with an unmatched feeling of anticipation. Christmas was the highlight of your year. You jumped out of bed at 5 a.m. and rushed to the living room to see what new riches awaited you under the tree. You knew you weren't supposed to start opening presents until Mom and Dad were up, so you went to their bedroom and leapt on top of their sleeping bodies until they got up. (You were blissfully unaware of the fact that they'd stayed up until 2 in the morning on Santa Duty.) You tried to wait patiently while Dad made coffee and Mom made sure there was a roll of film in the camera, but your heart was pounding with holiday adrenaline. Finally, when both parents had appeared in the living room in their bathrobes and with bags under their eyes, you tore into the beautifully wrapped presents. Fifteen minutes later, it was done. You took your new bike outside or set up your new game console and spent the rest of the day in happy play, never noticing the noise of the vacuum or the flurry of activity in the kitchen as your parents prepared for the dinner guests.

Now, as an adult, chances are you're the one being dragged out of bed on Christmas morning with only three hours of sleep under your belt. You've spent the last month trying to find the perfect gifts for your kids, and then another several hours wrapping them on Christmas Eve, and now you get to watch the joy on your kids' faces as they destroy the living room in record time. You're the one who gets to spend the rest of Christmas morning picking up gift wrap, basting turkey, and cleaning the kitchen in preparation for the stream of relatives who will soon be arriving. If everything's going smoothly, you might get a chance to watch your kids play with their new gifts for five minutes. Enjoy it while it lasts, because by tomorrow afternoon, they'll be complaining of boredom.

Holiday Snacking

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When you were a kid, the holiday season was a month long cookie and candy fest, punctuated by pie. Your stomach was a bottomless pit for gingerbread and candy canes, and you had no problem filling the leftover space with turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Now, you're an adult. It's Christmas Eve and you're at a party. You have eaten one small plate of hors d'oeuvres and the tiniest possible sliver of pumpkin pie, and you were just about to participate in the champagne toast, when all of a sudden the heartburn waylays you. Uggh. And you feel bloated. When you catch a glimpse of yourself in the hall mirror, you realize that you look bloated, too. Blast it all! Why is it that every holiday season, the very air around you fills up with tasty, delicious, fatty, indigestion causing, DELICIOUS edible treats? It takes you until October to work off the extra holiday pounds, just in time for another holiday season to begin.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

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As a kid, Christmas was already the second most special day of the year, ranked just slightly below your birthday but safely above Halloween and the first day of summer vacation. But there was one thing that could make Christmas even more special, and that was if it snowed. Not just a flurry or a dusting, but a good, intense, overnight snow dump. If you woke up on Christmas morning and there was a foot or more of snow on the ground, it was like having Christmas and your birthday rolled into one. Think of all the hills you could sled! The snow forts you could build with your friends! The snow balls you could hurl at your younger siblings! Holiday snow is the stuff childhood memories are made of.

Now that you're all grown up, snow is still a pretty sight to see, but a white Christmas probably brings up more feelings of stress than opportunities for fun. Take some pictures of that pristine, picturesque snowfall, because by the end of the day it's going to be a maze of muddy footprints, and most of the actual snow will have been transferred inside your house, melted, and formed a small pond in your hallway. But that's not all! Tomorrow, you get to shovel it! And hopefully the road crews have done their job so that when you return to work in two days, you won't end up with your car in a snowy Christmas ditch on the side of the road.

The Perfect Holiday Gift for Mom

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One of the truly magical things about being a kid is that you can give people any kind of gift at all, and they will love it, treasure it forever, praise you for it, and possibly frame it. When you were a kid, you could make Mom a picture out of dried food items glued to a piece of paper, and tears of joy would appear at the corner of her eye. And you know what? YOUR MOM STILL HAS THAT MACARONI PICTURE, tucked away in a drawer somewhere along with your first report card and a pair of your baby socks.

If you're a mom now, you're familiar with the tender, loving feelings that arise when your little ones give you homemade gifts. And you're also completely aware of the paradoxical fact that no adult in your life, be they your husband, your sister, or your best friend, can get away with giving you a macaroni picture for Christmas. It's a lot harder to give thoughtful gifts as a grown up. There's a lot more room for error. But there's at least one gift for the moms in your life that you can't go wrong with--it has MAGICAL MACARONI ART powers. And that's a gift certificate from Green Home Cleaning. She deserves it, after all that cleaning, shopping, cooking, snow shoveling, and mysterious holiday weight gain she's put up with over the past two months.

You can snap up a holiday gift certificate for the mom of your choice by dropping us a line, or by calling us at 828.505.7320. (And if you are the mom of your choice, feel free to share this blog post with your husband/sister/best friend.)

Green Home Holiday Guest Prep List

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Thanksgiving is just three short weeks away, and thus shall begin yet another tireless parade of winter holidays. They just keep coming, don’t they? It seems that as soon as you’ve recovered from turkey and stuffing and cleared the leftovers out of the fridge, it’s already time to do your Christmas cleaning. And then before you know it, there’s a New Year’s celebration to prepare for.

If your home is the designated holiday get-together venue for your family, you’ve probably got your work cut out for you. But with a little forethought and preparation, you can ensure that your holiday cleaning goes smoothly and quickly, so that you’ll have time to actually enjoy the holidays. Use this checklist to make sure your home is ready for holiday guests!

  • Bedding- If you’ll be having any overnight guests, the first thing you’ll want to do is wash the guest room bedding. Don’t forget towels and washcloths.
  • Fridge- While the linens are in the spin cycle, tackle the fridge. You’re going to want to make sure you have enough room for all the holiday meal ingredients, and for leftovers afterwards. Pro-tip: Use this opportunity to check your Tupperware supply. If you’re running low, or you’ve lost all the lids like I always seem to be doing, put it down on your grocery list. Make sure you have enough cheap, plastic containers to store leftovers for yourself, as well as to send some home with the guests.
  • Garbage Disposal- Your loyal old garbage disposal is going to be pulling a lot of extra shifts this holiday season, so go ahead and give it a little extra attention before the onslaught. Cut up a whole, fresh lemon or orange and feed it into the disposal, seeds, rind, and all. This will cut down on any unpleasant odors. Then feed some ice cubes into the disposal to sharpen the blades.
  • Inside the Oven, Top of the Stove- You are probably starting to detect a trend here. Yes, once the bedding is taken care of, we are putting most of our cleaning focus on the kitchen. That’s where people tend to congregate…it’s where the food is! Clean out the inside surfaces of the oven so that you don’t have any kitchen catastrophes from old, stuck-on food in there. Then scour the top of your stove until it shines. We like to use Bon Ami for both of these tasks. It’s an all-natural scouring powder that doesn’t scratch, and is excellent for getting stuck-on food off of glass stovetops.
  • Windows- The days are darker this time of year, so you want to let in as much natural, outdoor light as you can. Plus, you’re going to want to be able to see your guests approaching! So wash your windows with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Especially in the kitchen!
  • Bathrooms- Make sure all the bathrooms in your home are as clean as they can get. Even if you are not cleaning the master bedroom, clean the master bath. Why? Because holiday gatherings are known for epic bathroom shortages, when all of your turkey-and-ham stuffed guests wake up from their naps at the same time with the urge to go.
  • Space for Gathering- Check all of the main gathering rooms (kitchen, dining room, living room, etc.) and take stock of the space available. Are you going to need extra chairs or lounging room? If you need to, now’s the time to move coffee tables, houseplants, etc. to other rooms in the house to make room for all those extra people.
  • Front Porch and Entryway- Last but not least, take a few minutes to sweep off the front porch and steps and clean the floor and dust any furniture in your entryway. This will be your guests’ first impression of your home, so make it shine. It’s also a good idea to address the need for coat, hat, scarf, and muddy boot storage at this point. You may need to clear away some of your family’s winter things to make room for your guests’ winter things. Or just hang up a few new hooks by the door.

Congratulations, you’re done! Go ahead and take a load off, and remember: it’s never wrong to have your holiday party catered!

Happy holidays from Green Home Cleaning!

 

How to Rid Your Home of Stink Bugs

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September is stink bug season in western North Carolina. Specifically, it’s the time of year when it seems you can’t throw a brick without hitting a Brown Marmorated Stink bug.

Brown Marmorated Stink bugs are an agricultural pest native to China and Japan; a foreign eco-invader introduced to the Americas through the shipment of food products from Asia. And while they do enjoy laying waste to orchards and crops, they don’t seem to care for limiting themselves to farmland. In fact, they seem to be much more fond of infesting people’s houses.

If you live in an older, drafty home, or keep your windows open to take advantage of this lovely, early fall breeze, chances are you are playing host to an army of stink bugs. As infestations go, it’s not that bad. Stink bugs do not bite. They don’t get into your stored food, and they aren’t particularly destructive. They just kind of sit there—on the floor, the wall, the ceiling fan blades, the arms of the couch, the kitchen counter, the bathtub, and inside of your shoes, in an unassuming way. But if you step on them or disturb them, they are likely to emit a foul-smelling odor (hence the name). And even the stink part of the stinkbug isn’t that bad, as far as bad smells go. It’s pretty mild and dissipates quickly. But still annoying!

At this point in the blog post, you can probably tell that I am somewhat of a stink bug veteran. It’s true. They move into my home every fall, without fail. Armies of them. So I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for evicting them—all without the use of insecticide, which as you probably know, is extremely toxic to humans and pets, and not something I want to keep around the house.

Prevention is, of course, the best way to keep the stink bugs at bay, and there are ways to prevent them from getting into your house in the first place. However, I’ve found that, at least in my neighborhood, prevention doesn’t completely eliminate the problem. So you’ll need secondary procedures for those few errant stink bugs that still find a way to sneak in past all of your preventative barriers.

1.    Seal up access points. If you keep windows open during the fall, make sure that all of your windows have screens and that the screens are without holes or tears large enough for a stink bug to slip through. Then go around your house with a tube of sealer and fill up any cracks and gaps around door frames, windows, exhaust fans, and plumbing pipes.

2.     Use stink bug deterrents. A spray made from 16 oz of water and 10 drops of peppermint oil will repel these wily pests. Spray it around doors and windows, and anywhere you find a proliferation of stink bugs.

3.    Try pheromone traps. These traps do not contain chemical insecticides, and are not harmful for people or pets. They work by attracting stink bugs with a synthetic version of their own naturally-occurring pheromones. Once the stink bug is trapped, it eventually dies of dehydration.

4.    The vacuum is your friend. Probably the most effective method of fighting a stink-bug infestation in progress is just to vacuum up the stink bugs. You’ll probably find them on predictable places like the floor and walls, but don’t forget to target their other favorite hiding places: in the folds of drapes and curtains, behind furniture, and on the ceiling. You will have to do this frequently, though, as they seem to have some sort of magical repopulation properties. The other problem with vacuuming is that if you are using a bagless vacuum cleaner, it can make your vacuum stink. This is why I purchased a small, cheap, bag-style vacuum just for combatting stink bugs.

5.    Use neem oil for eliminating stink bugs from your garden. If stink bugs have invaded your home, they’re most likely making themselves comfortable in your garden, as well, and snacking on your vegetables. For this, you can use a solution of neem oil and water. Neem oil is non-toxic to plants, but stink bugs hate it. In a spray bottle, combine two tablespoons of neem oil with a half cup of water. Spray the solution on your garden plants and the soil around them.

 

Good luck with your stink bug elimination efforts!

Green Home Cleaning Voted Best Cleaning Service in WNC for the Third Year in a Row!

We are so pleased and honored to announce that, for the fifth year in a row, we have placed in the Mountain Xpress Best of WNC contest! This year our valued clients and community voted us #1 in Asheville, just as you did last year, AND the year before!

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all of your support over the years. You are the best customers a small local business could ever ask for. We love you and appreciate your business. We couldn't have achieved the success we have without you!

8 Tips for Speed-Cleaning a Room

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You just got home from work, picking the kids up from school, and stopping for groceries, when you receive the dreaded call. You have relatives popping in for an unannounced visit—tonight!

It’s Friday, and you haven’t touched a mop or dust rag since the weekend. Looking around your home, it seems like you’ll never get the place whipped into shape and still have time to make dinner. So what do you do?

You speed clean! Remember the tips below, and the next time something like this happens to you, you’ll be prepared.

  1. Enlist help. The kids. The husband. The Roomba. It’s crunch time, so make sure everyone is pulling their weight.
  2. Gather your supplies. You need a sturdy utility apron for just such occasions as this. If you don’t have one of those, a compartmentalized bucket will do. Put every cleaning product and tool you’ll need in the apron or bucket, apart from larger tools like mops, brooms, or the vacuum.
  3. Make each move count. As you’re cleaning, carry your supplies around with you, and always put each spray bottle and tool back in the same spot. You can’t waste time making trips back and forth to find the thing you need, or rummaging around in your toolkit.
  4. Don’t bother with the rooms your guests won’t go into. In fact, since this is an emergency situation, we give you permission to temporarily store any clutter in the laundry room.
  5. If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it. Don’t fuss with upper baseboards, vertical surfaces, or anything else that does not look dusty or grimy.
  6. Make one circuit around the room. Don’t skip over things. This is an extension of “Make each move count.” Instead of zigzagging from one end of the room to the other and back, start at one end of the room and work your way around.
  7. Clean from top to bottom. As you clean, dust and dirt get knocked off of surfaces higher up, and onto surfaces lower down. So start high, and gradually work your way down. Do the floors last.
  8. Focus on what you’re doing. If you’re thinking about that TV show you want to catch up on, or what your boss is going to say about x project, or where you’d like to go for vacation, you’re going to miss things and have to waste time coming back to them. Give your attention to the task at hand, and things will go much quicker.
  9. Order a pizza. Your relatives can’t really expect you to whip up a home cooked meal on such short notice, can they? Order a pizza with their favorite toppings. While you’re waiting for the delivery guy to arrive, take a nice hot shower. You deserve it!