Cleaning Up Your PC

computer cleaningWe thought we’d take a slightly different stance on cleaning and housework this week – and talk about cleaning up your PC and keeping your files in order online.

If you’re anything like us, you’ll often open up your laptop or fire up your PC and trying to find anything is a labor of love… Because we provide services such as house cleaning Oakton, maid service Reston, cleaning service in Falls Church, we have a familiarity with simple tips that can help clear up your clutter online.

As an added bonus, getting rid of some of the clutter will also speed up your PC’s performance.

Read on to find out more…

Update your anti-virus software and run a scan. This will delete any foreign files that are trying to access your computer and keep it safe.

Clear up space on your hard drive by deleting unnecessary files. For windows, go to disk clean-up (all programs> accessories> system tools> disk clean up and for Macs, go to applications> utilities> commands prompt and type in “sudo rm -fr /tmp/” and hit enter.

Uninstall programs you don’t use. For windows, you will find this under the control panel which will bring up a list of programs that you can then look at and decide which ones you no longer use.

Now for sorting out your files:

Use folders. Yes, it takes a bit of initial work but creating folders and storing the relevant files in them will save you so much time in the long run. Create folders in your Documents. Suggestions might include – Tax Information, Letters, Home Stuff, Homework and essays for example.

Rename all photos. Again, this can be pain but if you rename all photos and pics as you upload them then it’s much easier to find them when you are looking for a particular picture. Once you have renamed them all, it is a good idea to put them in folders too – 2016 summer pics, for example, or the kids, the dogs etc.

Don’t put too much stuff on your desktop. It looks messy and it’s a bad idea because it slows your PC or Mac down.

And finally, there’s the physical aspect of the cleanliness of your PC/laptop/Mac. In an ideal world, no-one would eat or drink anywhere near their tech, but we all do… Keyboards therefore need frequent cleaning – turn them upside down and shake out the crumbs or buy yourself one of the mini vacuum cleaners you can use to suck them out. You’ll be amazed…

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Olney, a maid service in Potomac or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds (ie VA and most of Maryland). Why not give us a call today and let us help you with ensuring your home office is as clean and tidy as possible?

 

Pic thanks to PD Pics.

Top Tips for Avoiding the January Blues

Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_002We’re now well into 2016 – but are you feeling a little blue? After all the hype of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, it is normal to feel a little deflated and low.

Never fear though, the Budget Maids team (house cleaning Columbia, maid service Arlington, and house cleaning Olney experts) are here to help. Here are some tips for avoiding the January blues:

Check your diet: are you eating happy foods? Many people embark on crazy diets in January, but this isn’t always helpful. January is tough enough as it is without subjecting your body to serious deprivation. Instead, fill up on lots of goodies such as fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, beans and pulses, nuts, lean meat, fish and olive oil.

Do a good deed – volunteering is good for your mental health so why not find a local charity to get involved in? You could opt for helping out at a shelter or hospice, finding a mentoring programme for young people to find a way to be an active part of your local community.

Clear out clutter – why not opt for a “one in, one out” policy for the Christmas gifts and toys your family received? Clearing out clutter is therapeutic – and if you donate it to a shelter or charity shop, you’re combining two January blues prevention tips in one!

Fake it until you make it – if you plaster a smile on your face, eventually the smile will feel natural, and you will have cheered yourself up.

Do housework – OK, bear with us on this one. Experts often stress the importance of an active lifestyle (rather than being an active sedentary person, where most of your life is spent sitting but you exercise in the gym one a day) and doing chores throughout the day keeps you active. Put on some loud music and enjoy the lift you get from being active.

Meet up with friends. Social activities keep us stimulated and happy. If you are all feeling the pinch post-Christmas, why not meet up for a walk, or take turns to host coffee mornings? There are plenty of finance-free options for socializing if you put your mind to it.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Oakton or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you avoid the January blues with a sparkling clean home?!

Budget Maids Christmas Countdown List

xmas countdownNow that Thanksgiving’s done and dusted, our thoughts turn to Christmas – if you’re anything like the majority of the population, you are probably panicking at the thought of all that still needs to be done before the Big Day.

But as well as providing house cleaning in Columbia, maid services in Arlington and cleaning services in Vienna we can help you with a holiday to-do list! Here are some ideas for how you can start getting ready for Christmas now and keep last-minute panics to a minimum:

Do your online shopping now – order your gifts now to allow for items being out to stock or longer than usual delivery times thanks to the festive rush.

Wrap presents up as you get them – we promise you this is a life-changer if you are the kind of person who finds themselves wrapping up everything on Christmas Eve. And buy yourself a tape dispenser too, as this will make the task easier.

Check your stock of decorations – do you have everything you want? Do the fairy lights work? Are there special offers on decorations you can take advantage of?

Start addressing your Christmas and holiday greetings cards – this is one of those jobs which, if you do it now, will make writing your cards much easier nearer the time. You can also use the time to decide if certain people should remain on your list. Sometimes a ruthless cull is necessary…

Finalize your Christmas menu – it’s easy to get distracted when the TV is awash with TV chefs all coming up with brand new ideas for the Christmas meal, but chances are your family loves the tradition of tried and tested favourite recipes. Add one or two new things in and keep the menu as your family loves it.

Fill the freezer – bulk cook some meals and portion them up so that you can minimize cooking time out with Christmas Day.

Order a turkey or ham – you don’t want to get caught short if these disappear in the final week or so before Christmas.

Check the last posting dates for Christmas – this is especially important if you are mailing gifts.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Oakton or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your house is in tip-top shape for the holiday season?

Picture thanks to CJ Sorg on flickr.

 

Happy Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkin_pie_with_crust_detailNext week is Thanksgiving and here at Budget Maids, we’re looking forward to joining our families and friends for an extended and joyful celebration.

Like everyone else, we’re busy tidying up in preparation (remember, we provide cleaning services in Olney, maid services in Reston and more), but we will certainly be taking the time to make some pumpkin pie. It’s traditional after all and who doesn’t crave a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?!

Enjoy our pumpkin and we hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pureed cooked pumpkin, or canned pumpkin puree
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, plus the yolk from a third egg
  • 2tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • ¼tsp freshly ground nutmeg (measure this precisely because it’s very strong)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2-3 pods cardamom, seeds removed and ground to a powder
  • 1 ready-made pie crust (uncooked)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and mix in the sugars, salt, spices, and lemon zest. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Stir in the cream. Beat everything together until it is well mixed.
  3. Pour the filling into an uncooked pie crust. Bake at the high temperature for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 45 to 55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (About half-way through the baking, you may want to put foil around the edges or use a pie protector to keep the crust from getting too browned.)
  4. Cool the pumpkin pie on a wire rack for two hours. Pumpkin pie will come out of the oven puffed up and it will deflate as it cools.
  5. Serve with whipped cream dusted with a little ground cinnamon (or cocoa powder, if you want to be really decadent).

Thanks to Simply Recipes for the inspiration behind our pumpkin pie.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Olney, a maid service in Potomac or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds (ie VA and most of Maryland). Why not give us a call today and let us help you with all your cleaning up pre AND post-Thanksgiving?

 

 

How to Prepare for an Open House – Budget Maids Top Tips

house for saleAre you selling your house? First impressions count when it comes to your home and ensuring it impresses potential buyers.

Read on to discover Budget Maids’ tips for what do when preparing for an open house…

Clean and tidy – as you might expect from the leading provider of house cleaning services in Oakton (!), a clean and tidy home is a must. Your kitchen and bathroom need to be spotless. Remember extras such as skirting boards, tiling, grouting and cleaning appliances – and ensuring there is no mold anywhere.

Clutter-free – while some people have the imagination to picture your home without your belongings, make it much easier for everyone by getting rid of all of your clutter. It’s distracting and it makes rooms look smaller than they really are.

Let the light in. Clean your windows and all of the curtains and blinds, dust light fixtures and make sure all your bulbs are working so that your home lets in lots of light and looks great.

Sweetly scented. This especially applies if you have pets. Your sense of smell might have gotten used to doggy or kitty aromas, but strangers won’t be used to it. The day before, thoroughly clean your home, open the windows if possible to let plenty of fresh air in, take out the trash, clean out the refrigerator and light some scented candles, or plug in some air fresheners. (Be careful with these as some of them can be overwhelmingly strong.)

Look down and focus on floors. If possible have the carpets steam cleaned, mop the tiles and polish all hardwood floors. Clean and gleaming underfoot is really important.

Apply some paint. Again, if possible, apply fresh paint which will give your home a really updated and clean look. Now is not the time to choose whacky colors though – neutral shades are best.

Tidy up your exteriors. Paint your front door and clean and polish the door knob and fixtures. A wreath adds a nice touch. Also ensure that your yard or garden is tidy, flowers and shrubs will make the place look very welcoming and of course your lawn should be neat and tidy.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Oakton, a maid service in Arlington, house cleaning in Olney or cleaning services in Potomac and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you to make sure that your home is ready for an open house?

 

 

 

How to Have a Halloween Party for Kids

halloweenThis year, Halloween falls on a Saturday – which is excellent news for anyone who loves Halloween parties as much as we do here at Budget Maids!

If you are planning a Halloween party for the children (and young-at-heart adults), here are a few ideas for a perfect Halloween party (and remember Budget Maids will be on hand to help out afterwards if you need house cleaning Arlington…)

The setting – if you switch off the main lights, and install lamps behind book shelves and on different levels you’ll easily be able to create a shadowy and spooky atmosphere. For a spooky soundtrack, you can download free Halloween music and sounds here.

For a Jack O’Lantern, you can find hundreds of templates to download here that will give you an outline for carving your perfect pumpkin face.

The costumes – why not offer a prize for the best home-made costume? Of course, the shops are full of ready-made Disney and Marvel characters, but the best costumes are hand-made with love, right?

The food – Halloween cookies of course! But if you want to create some scary-themed foods, there are some great ideas here at Taste of Home, and also Food Network.

The games – opt for the traditional Halloween games, such as ducking for apples. Do this one outside if you can. You’ll need a large, clean washing up bowl filled with water which you then float apples in. The object of the game is for children to kneel down and grab hold of apples with their mouths.

Another idea is to hang donuts from strings on a tree branch and again, children try to eat the donuts with their hands behind their back.

You can also do the Mummy Wrap game – divide your children into two teams, and give them plenty of white toilet paper. The object of the game is to wrap one team member completely in the tissue paper and the ‘mummy’ then has to race to the end of the garden or room to win.

Buy some cheap witches’ hats and attach them to a board. Buy some rings too and make the object of the game to get the rings to land on the hats. For younger children, you can allow them to stand nearer the board.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Oakton or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you clean up after your Halloween party?

 

Cleaning Nightmares – Cleaning Services in Columbia Can Help!

Yikes!

Yikes!

No doubt that cleaning can be a tough gig from time to time, but when we carry out house cleaning in Columbia or maid services in Potomac – it’s unlikely we’ll face the same kind of challenge unlucky Terry Wilkins faced recently.

The pet shop owner had been cleaning a reptile’s cage in his shop when the reptile in question – a 20ft python – attacked him, biting him, wrapping itself around his neck and starting to crush his neck. Luckily for Mr Wilkins, two nearby police officers were able to step in and save his life.

The attack got us thinking – what other unfortunate cleaning incidents have there been? We might think ourselves unlucky if we turn up at a house and find that the owners have had a raucous party (though of course, we’ll clear it up quickly and efficiently and your house will be as good as new), but attacks by killer snakes would be pretty unfortunate.

Here’s some other cleaning nightmares and how to deal with them easily:

Cleaning the cooker. Ideally, you do this after every roast dinner, right? No, you leave it till black, evil-smelling fumes flood out and then do it! Read our easy tips for making cleaning your cooker a breeze.

Emptying the vacuum bag. Urgh – what a job. But your vacuum cleaner works better if you empty is regularly, the motor won’t have to work as hard and your cleaner will last longer. To do it easily, turn the vacuum on and let it run for 30 seconds so any dirt and fluff gets pushed into the bag.

Take the cleaner outside if you can to empty the dust bag and empty thoroughly. If possible, rinse it in hot water or put in the washing machine and dry before re-installing.

Cleaning dead beasties from overhead light fixtures. Do you ever look up at your light fixtures and shudder? Mmm, the sight of all those dead bugs ain’t a nice one. Turn off the light and arm yourself with a stepladder and unscrew the bulbs and fixture so you can give it a proper clean.

Scouring the kitchen bin. No matter how waterproof your garbage bags are and how regularly you clean out the bin, some kind of liquid is always going to escape and sit at the bottom of the bin getting moldy and really smelly. Take the bin outside and hose it down if possible, using an old towel or kitchen paper to pat it dry. Pet mess cleaners sprayed inside and outside the bin can help neutralise nasty odors.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Reston, a maid service in Olney or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you with your cleaning nightmares?

 

 

 

The Top 10 Wardrobe Tricks Every Girl Should Know

Create calm in your closet.

Create calm in your closet.

Here at Budget Maids, we sure appreciate the problem of an over-flowing wardrobe… Heck, what’s a girl to do when fashion is so exciting and there are so many options to choose from?!

When we carry out maid services in Arlington, or house cleaning in Vienna, lots of clients ask us what they can do to keep their wardrobes under control.

 

Why not follow our top 10 wardrobe tricks for neatness and order in your home?

  1. First of all fold your tees properly. You know the problem – too many tees take up room, and if you don’t have the space to hang them up, then they can end up wrinkled and not ready-to-wear. Lay the tee shirt flat, fold it in half length-ways then fold the sleeves in. Fold the tee shirt in half down the way and then half again if you can.
  2. And also fold up your lingerie. We know, the temptation is to cram it into drawers, but folding is much more space-saving. See this great guide for how to do it.
  3. Did you know that you can use the tabs from soda cans to create double hangers that take up less room in your closet than two separate hangers? That way, you can pair up complete outfits. See how to do it at ideasbottle.
  4. Lint balls removal – are you avoiding certain sweaters and tops because of the lint balls? They are easy to remove, either using a disposable razor or a pumice stone. Lightly rub with the pumice stone and then use a lint roller to remove.
  5. Hang clothes efficiently. If you find the job of hanging up clothes tedious, then follow this neat tip for hanging up multiple items at once. Job done!
  6. Clean out your wardrobe properly once a month. Wardrobes and closets attract lots of dust so it’s worth clearing out all of the clothes and giving it a good going-over with polish and a duster regularly.
  7. You should also organize your closet according to the seasons – save time and space by storing all your winter clothing away when it’s summer time and vice versa.
  8. Clear out everything that doesn’t fit, or needs repaired too. We ladies like to hang on to our size 4s optimistically hoping we’ll slim back into them, but be honest yourself and get rid to save space. The same goes for anything that’s too big or needs repaired – either repair it, or chuck.
  9. Organize your clothing by color. This saves time as you now have matching items next to each other.
  10. And finally, keep special outfits in covers. Special outfits don’t tend to get worn as often so keeping them in covers will keep them clean and ready to wear, as well as easy to find when the occasion demands.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Reston, a maid service in Olney or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your closet is neat and tidy all year round?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guide to Menu Planning

We're not sure you'll be having these foods for breakfast...

We’re not sure you’ll be having these foods for breakfast…

Fall already… where did the summer go? If you’re anything like us at Budget Maids you will be wondering what on earth happened to this year as the countdown to Christmas and the holiday season begins…

We’re all about offering you quick and easy cleaning tips and advice on this blog, but one idea you might like to consider in addition is menu planning. Menu planning can free up a lot of your time, not to mention saving you money so we always recommend it.

 

 

Here’s our guide to menu planning.

  • Start with your family’s likes and dislikes. It’s no good planning to make lots of curries if your family doesn’t like spicy foods. List the favourite dishes and add in one or two from your recipe collection, just to mix things up.
  • Think about your week ahead – if you have a busy week coming up, you’ll need meals and recipes that are very quick and easy to do, ready-made burgers and buns for example, ready cooked chicken or omelettes with salad.
  • Why not involve the whole family? Ask your husband if he’d like to cook a dish (if he doesn’t already!) or your older kids, and ask for any meal requests.
  • Write down all your planned recipes and meals for the week, including breakfasts and lunches. If you want to be really geeky, you could put the meals and links to the recipes on a shared calendar so the whole family can see it.
  • Are there dishes that can be made in large quantities – such as stews and casseroles? These are great because you can make up huge batches and store them in the freezer.
  • Now list all the ingredients you need for each dish, and check this against what you already have in your store cupboards.
  • Shop for the ingredients, sticking strictly to what’s on your list as this will help you keep shopping bills to a minimum.

 

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Vienna or cleaning services in Falls Church and surrounds, cleaning services in Olney and Oakton and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you with all your household cleaning tasks so you can get on with menu planning and more?

 

The Best Bathroom De-Cluttering Ideas

clutter bathroomHands up who’s guilty of bathroom clutter?

Many of you who have put a hand up may be female, but the huge growth in popularity of male grooming in the last decade or so, means that over-proliferation of products can just as likely be attributed to the man of the house as it is to the woman. Here are our top tips for the best bathroom de-cluttering ideas.

Make Your Products Fit In

First off all, decanting products can offer a perfect solution for storage. Buy matching soap dispensers that can also double up for all your lotions and potions and give a more uniform look to your bathroom.

Employ ruthlessness when it comes to maintaining tidiness in the bathroom. Storing your best toiletries out of sight in custom-built storage helps to maintain the clean, designer look of a bathroom.

Banish “Bathroom Creep”

It’s a good idea to decide what belongs in the bathroom – and what definitely doesn’t. Many of us can admit to “bathroom creep”, where more and more products find themselves in the bathroom. Toiletries are fair enough, but should make-up be kept there? And if you don’t have lots of storage don’t keep your toiletry spares in the bathroom.

Another way to instantly de-clutter a bathroom is to look at the towels you are storing in there. Is it necessary to keep them all in there, or should you keep most of them in a cupboard outside of the bathroom?

Cleaning Products Storage

When it comes to your bathroom cleaning products – sprays for the shower and bath as well as air freshener and toilet cleaner belong in the bathroom. The hard-core cleaners though, such as drain cleaners and sink unblockers should be stored in a safe place elsewhere – out of the reach of little fingers.

One final suggestion for storage is hooks for your bath robes. It may sound simple, but being able to hang your robe up while bathing or showering feels very “hotel-like” and therefore luxurious.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Oakton, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your bathroom is sparkling clean and clutter-free?

Pic – thanks to Splunkton on Flickr