5 Tips for Cleaning out your Garage

For many of us, cleaning out our garage is no simple afternoon task. Most garages hold years of accumulated and forgotten items, and clearing them out is a serious job. Below are five tips to help you make the most of the big clean-out.

Outdoor Activities in the DC Area: Off the Beaten Path

Now that we’re well into warmer weather, I decided to write about local places that are best enjoyed outdoors–and that are slightly off the beaten path. While these spots are by no means undiscovered, they are also not tourist traps like the National Mall during summer months. As a result, you can avoid the possible spring/summer 2021 tourist rush as people desperate to travel after a year indoors descend upon DC. If the arrival of May has you itching to spend more time outside, read on for my recommendations!

Cleaning out your Linen Closet

I expect each month that decluttering and reorganizing will become simpler. I will get the hang of it and build on past successes – but it doesn’t seem to work that way. This month I pledged to myself to tackle the linen closet. We’d all love to have a linen closet worthy of a home design magazine, but despite our best intentions, these spaces often become the junk drawer equivalents for everything bed and bath-related, not to mention the extra toiletries and medicines that I don’t know where to store. This is really aspirational for me because I go into homes listed for sale and some linen closets are beautifully arranged with crisply folded sheets and towels.

But fear not — with a little resourcefulness and creativity, we can both say goodbye to teetering stacks of towels and piles of hastily folded sheets.

Here’s how to organize the linen closet of your dreams in a few simple steps.

Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream in Bethesda

Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream in Bethesda is a two year old ice cream store with locations at the Wildwood Shopping Center and at 5241 River Road. If you are looking for delicious ice cream or unusual flavors, Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream is the place to go.

The DC Area’s Most Beautiful Gardens

In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd and with spring finally here, why not get yourself outdoors by visiting one of the DC area’s beautiful gardens. While some of the indoor facilities connected to the gardens are currently closed due to COVID, the outdoor spaces remain open. What better way to ease yourself back into leaving the house than walking through peaceful gardens with flowers blooming for spring! So, without further delay, read on for our list of gorgeous local gardens!

Home Office Organization

My goal for March was to declutter and organize my home office. It was difficult to get going on this task, so I turned to the internet for a few tips.

Here is what I found.

St. Patrick’s Day: A Glimpse Backwards and a Lise Howe Group Recommendation

It’s early March, which means spring is almost upon us! But before the flowers are in full bloom, people of Irish descent around the world (or people looking for a reason to imbibe) celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th. While historically a religious holiday, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into more of a secular affair in modern times, involving revelery, drinking, green clothing, and celebrating all things Irish.

So, in honor of St. Paddy’s Day, we thought we’d delve into the history of the holiday, and, for those interested in some fun, we conclude with a great spot to safely celebrate in the DC area.

Good-bye to Uncle Julio? Visit Soon!

The Montgomery County Council is considering saying good-bye to Uncle Julio, the popular restaurant on Bethesda Avenue. The restaurant would be replaced with another high rise under the County’s newest plans.

Decluttering the Kitchen Drawers

Decluttering the kitchen drawers actually turned out to be harder than I expected at first. Somehow, after I had organized my pantry, I thought the kitchen drawers would be easy. As usual I was wrong – and I had to do some research on line. I bought some new storage pieces to make my decluttering successful

2021 Home Organization: The Pantry

Most of us start each year with a resolution or two (or more) and this year Is no exception for me. Besides the annual resolutions to walk more and weigh less, I resolved this year to tackle one part of my home each month and declutter and clean it.

This resolve came in part from my daughter being home for five weeks at the end of the year because the University of Chicago Business School shut down with COVID. Since she is used to apartment living with roommates and limited cupboard space for food, she complained that I had too much food in the pantry.

I know there was a lot of stuff in the pantry – partly because I had stockpiled canned goods and flour for COVID and partly because I had bought things that I thought I needed but already had. I didn’t feel too bad about the COVID stockpile. My son has 10 cans of Progresso chicken noodle soup sitting on his kitchen counter in his coop in New York City. After I got past the multiple cans of beans and tuna, I still had a lot of duplicates. The only problem was that I couldn’t see the extras because of all the stuff shoved into the pantry. I doubt I will use up two bottles of Lyle’s Golden Syrup since I still haven’t made the sticky toffee pudding that I bought the syrup for in the first place – or the macaroons that I keep buying shredded coconut for.

I decided that my daughter was right about the clutter. It was time to address it! I martialed my forces and ordered a bunch of storage containers from Amazon to organize my pantry. The containers seemed to help. They let me stack smaller containers, consolidate bags of flour and save space. Plus I felt more organized – and more motivated to keep going. The more I sorted and organized, the more duplicates I found. I took some canned goods to a food drive and felt virtuous! Not only was I cleaning my pantry but I was also making a social contribution!

I found a stash of cans of condensed milk and evaporated milk . I use the condensed milk to make Spanish flan but I haven’t made flan in at least five years. I decided to make flan during the Christmas holidays – it would be a good way to use up at least one can. Condensed milk should be a pale creamy color but when I opened the first can it was a solid brown – more like coffee with a dash of cream. Two more cans were the same color. Turns out that condensed milk that is ten years old is not very appealing. Fortunately I found a newer can so I could finish making the flan.

After that experience, I looked at the Internet to find out about how long canned food will last and this is what I discovered.

Canned foods that are kept in good condition are actually safe to eat indefinitely, according to the USDA. However, there are several factors that may affect their shelf life, such as can corrosion and rusting, high temperatures, and other container problems. Over the years, many canned foods will experience taste and texture changes, and may eventually lose their nutritional value — which is why it is recommended to consume different types of canned products by a certain time for the best quality. (Accordingly, the dates that are often printed on cans are for quality, not safety.)

I felt better reading that the condensed milk was probably okay to use – but since it looked so strange, I decided to use a newer can from my stockpile.

The end result is encouraging. My pantry is less cluttered. I can find things more easily and I now know that I have two jars of jalapeno slices and three jars of barbecue sauce – in addition to a few other things that I only need once every two years! Most important of all though – I have a lot more sympathy for the sellers that I encourage to declutter and clean! It isn’t easy to tackle big jobs like that.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by clutter and you want to get rid of those multiple cans of beans, soup, tuna or even condensed milk that you stockpiled last March, you might be ready to get rid of them by donating them to a good cause. The Capital Area Food Bank is a great place to donate. Local shelters like My Sister’s Place are also grateful for non-persishables. If you can’t get out or don’t feel comfortable doing so, give me a call. I will be glad to come to you, collect your donation from your front door step and make sure it gets into good hands. It would give me a chance to wave hello!

Hope you are doing well in all this craziness. With the roll out of the vaccines, I feel like we are at the beginning of the end – or at least the end of the beginning – but at least we are here!