Your free time is precious, so it can be frustrating when you spend hours cleaning only to realize you’ve missed a spot or two. Like most people, you may find it hard to muster the strength and energy to complete this necessary but mundane task.
Thanks to technological innovations, there are hands-free, automated solutions that can help you keep your home tidy. If you use the must-have cleaning tools listed below, you can dedicate more time to what you enjoy and less time to chores.
Robotic vacuums are by far the most popular automatic cleaning tool. These machines run on a cleaning schedule and can clean hard-to-reach places. Some robotic vacuums even empty themselves after each cycle. The sensors on robotic vacuums prevent them from running over objects on the floor or falling down flights of stairs. Most models include an app where you can set a schedule, tell the machine to clean or go back to its dock, and get updates on any required maintenance.
Robotic mops have similar benefits to robotic vacuums. However, instead of bristles, they use spinning circular mopheads. They spray a cleaning solution on your tile, laminate, or hardwood floors before scrubbing away a variety of household messes. These tools are especially useful for kitchens and bathrooms where spills frequently occur and residue can build up. You’ll never reach for a dirty mop and bucket again!
Cleaning large windows, or many of them, takes a lot of time. Enter robotic window cleaners. These cleaners can cling to the surface of your window and spray and wipe the glass. Most machines come enabled with Bluetooth, so you can set a cleaning schedule or manually control your machine if you find that it misses a spot.
Dirty toilets are not only unpleasant to look at but also health hazards because they can be breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Plus, not many people enjoy bending down and getting up close and personal with their toilet bowl. Shine automatic toilet cleaners are chemical-free and scrub-free tools that use artificial intelligence and water sensors to automate your toilet cleaning and maintenance.
The smart hubs for this robotic cleaner sit on or near your toilet and can detect when it needs cleaning. These machines spray electrolyzed water through a tube into the bowl, which eliminates odors and bacteria with the same power as a bleach solution. The smart bathroom assistants can also update you via an app to recommend repairs for your toilet. From there, the assistants can order and ship the exact tools and parts you need to repair your toilet. Once you complete the easy installation of the system and add a cleaning pod to the Shine hub, you will never have to touch your toilet brush ever again. As of 2021, the company is accepting preorders, so be sure to reserve yours!
Air quality is essential to your well-being, but it’s often an afterthought as you can’t feel or see it until you feel stuffy or sick. Common household allergens, bacteria, and chemicals can all affect your health. Invest in a home air purifier that can consistently regulate and freshen the air you breathe indoors. Be sure to change the filter according to the machine’s instructions, and place the air purifier in a central location in your home for maximum benefit.
Take the stress out of spills and pet mess by getting a hands-free carpet cleaner. These carpet cleaners can spray, scrub, and dry messes for you, and they are a must for people with pets and children. Just make sure to use the appropriate cleaning solution for your carpet.
Some people have the natural ability to jump out of bed feeling energized and ready to take on the day. Others need a warm shower and a cup of coffee to get going. However, whether you’re a morning person or not, a solid routine can create good mornings that grow into great days. Implement these tips in your morning routine to prepare for whatever your day has to offer.
If you take care of a few tasks the night before, you can eliminate some of the busyness of your morning. Lay out your clothes and items you need for work so you don’t have to search for them in the morning. You can prep your breakfast and lunch beforehand, and you can even check your schedule or create a list of things you want to accomplish the next day to serve as motivation. You can save a lot of time by not waiting until the morning to get organized.
This is easier said than done, right? But waking up earlier doesn’t mean you have to set your alarm for 4:00 a.m. to have a productive morning. Waking up just fifteen minutes earlier can help you feel less rushed. Start the process slowly, and you may find yourself adapting to the change easier than you’d think.
Being jolted awake by a loud buzzing sound can be an irritating start to your day. That’s why it might be time to replace your noisy alarm with a more pleasant wake-up call. Many alarms allow you to wake up to peaceful music, or you can switch to a sunrise alarm clock, which mimics the steadily increasing light of the rising sun. If you wear a smartwatch to track your sleep, you may be able to set it to wake you up with a gentle vibration.
Staying in bed for a few more minutes of rest could impact your entire morning routine, and, as tempting as it may be, hitting snooze for ten more minutes of sleep isn’t beneficial. Studies have found that you will be unable to get quality sleep in such a short period. A great way to avoid dozing off for a few minutes is to place your alarm clock or phone across the room. This forces you to get up to turn off the alarm, which lowers the temptation to hit snooze. Also, be sure to make your bed when you get up. Doing so not only keeps your room looking tidy but also reduces the lure of curling up for a few extra minutes of rest.
While you may enjoy a morning cup of coffee, tea, or orange juice, make it a habit to drink water before eating or drinking anything else. Drinking a glass of water when you wake up rehydrates your body and can help jump-start your metabolism.
Checking your phone first thing in the morning for the latest emails, texts, and social media notifications can cause you to lose focus. While it is a hard habit to break, avoid looking at your phone until you sit down to eat breakfast. Take the initial moments of your day to do something to benefit yourself, such as meditating or stretching.
Getting up early to squeeze in a workout is a healthy way to start your day. However, exercising can also improve your job performance. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning exercise may improve attention, visual learning, and decision-making. Best of all, getting active in the morning allows you to get your workout done before life gets in the way.
You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, to unlock the full potential of breakfast, it takes more than grabbing a granola bar and coffee before rushing for the door. Take time to sit down and enjoy your breakfast; this allows you to eat more slowly, which aids in digestion and can help you avoid overeating. Choose foods that provide a good serving of protein, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, or turkey sausage. Studies have found that eating a high-protein breakfast may help manage blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and help you feel fuller for longer.
Before you start work, try to accomplish something that will benefit you the rest of the day. You can tackle a chore like loading the dishwasher or taking out the trash. It might not feel like a huge accomplishment, but it will be one less thing to worry about at the end of your day.
One of the perks of the weekend is that you might be able to get an extra hour or two of sleep. However, staying in bed past your regular wake-up time can disrupt your morning rhythm, and, once there is a disruption, it can throw your weekday routine out of whack. Try to wake up at the same time on the weekends, and enjoy breakfast with loved ones or take a walk outside.
Remember, the way you wake up sets the tone for your day. Build a routine that makes sense for you and will help you achieve your goals.
As we enter the early days of spring, you might be ready to start gardening. However, whether you want to grow veggies or colorful annuals and perennials, there’s plenty of work involved. Use these tips to nurture a lush garden filled with vegetables and blooming flowers this season.
If you don’t already have a garden, find a location suitable for one. A garden can be created almost anywhere, such as in your yard, in a container on your balcony, or in a raised garden bed.
A key consideration to where you should place your garden is how much sunlight the spot receives. Most vegetable plants require full sun or six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Ideally, pick a sunny area facing south to get the most sun. If you can’t put a garden on the south side of your home, unshaded spots on the east or west side of your home are also good options. Many flower varieties also require full sun, but if your yard is shady, there are some shade-loving flowers too. Research the type of flowers suitable for how much sunlight your garden area will receive.
If you don’t have a plot of land suitable for a garden, a few small containers will work. Vegetables and flowers can thrive in a bucket of dirt or a garden pot you’ve painted or decorated yourself.
Take an inventory of your gardening tools. You will need gardening gloves, a hand cultivator, a round-head shovel, a hand trowel, a bow rake, and a watering can or garden hose. Clean the tools you have by scraping them with a stiff wire brush and hosing them off.
If you are digging a garden plot in your yard, use a shovel and rake to clear the area of rocks, twigs, and grass. The quickest way to get rid of grass sod is to lift it from underneath with a shovel. If you’re concerned about the depth you’re digging, dial 811, the national call-before-you-dig phone number, to avoid accidentally cutting into utility lines. It might take up to a week or more for the utility companies to mark where the lines are located underground, so call well ahead of when you want to start planting.
For a container garden, add potting soil to your container. If you are growing foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or herbs, you should consider using organic potting soil.
Compost contains nitrogen, which is essential for plant growth. Spread a two- to three-inch layer of compost on top of your garden area after your plot is cleared of grass, debris, and unwanted growth. Bagged compost from your local garden store is easy to get, and you can apply it to your garden immediately. It’s easier to dig when the ground is moist, so wet the dirt or use a spade or garden fork after it rains to work the compost into the ground and loosen the soil underneath. You can use compost mixed with the potting mix in your container garden too.
The quality of your soil is critical when gardening. If you are starting a garden plot in the ground, you should have your soil tested. Most state universities provide soil testing through a cooperative extension service. These soil-testing services can tell you the pH balance of your soil and whether it’s missing essential nutrients. Your test results might also include instructions for how to improve your soil’s pH.
Research online, leaf through catalogs, or talk to garden-loving family and friends to get an idea of what to plant. When choosing plants to cultivate, you need to be aware of your plant hardiness or gardening zone, when plants should be placed in your garden, and the plants’ sunlight needs.
If you want to start planting in early spring, look for cool-season vegetables, such as lettuce, peas, spinach, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. Frost can damage or kill plants, but these hardy vegetables can be planted before the last frost date in your area. Cool-season vegetables thrive in soil that’s between 40°F and 75°F. A soil thermometer will help you determine when the soil temperature is right for planting.
Hardy annuals like pansies and snapdragons can survive a frost and be planted in early spring, but wait until your last frost date has passed. Annuals must be replanted every season, while perennials grow back every year. Annuals also bloom for a longer period of time.
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to plant! Be sure to consult the backs of your vegetable, flower, or herb seed packets for information on when to sow your seeds, how deep to place them, how soon they will sprout, when your flowers will bloom, and how much sun your seeds need.
Social media has become an amazing platform for home cooks to show off their talents. One such cook, Shereen Pavlides, got her start on TikTok but has since released her own cookbook, Cooking with Shereen from Scratch. Known for her “Because you can!” mantra, Pavlides makes cooking fun and accessible with a blend of Mediterranean-style recipes and American classics.
Although simple on the surface, blueberry muffins are beloved for a reason. Who doesn’t love the moist, vanilla cake and pops of juicy berries with every bite? Learn how to make Shereen’s version, which includes a crispy, sugary top.
It wouldn’t be a Shereen recipe without a nod to something Mediterranean. This Greek classic comes together quickly and offers a nutritious alternative to takeout sandwiches or taco night.
recipe by shereen pavlides
photos by ken goodman
Don’t use a pre-mix box—you’re better than that! We’re baking these babies from scratch. No need to break out your stand or hand mixer either! This batter conveniently whips up in a bowl and bakes for 18 to 20 minutes, any morning you want. You can find sanding shugá at most arts & crafts stores, kitchenware stores and some supermarkets or use shugá in the raw, which you can find at most supermarkets, that works great, too.
Makes 10 muffins
recipe by shereen pavlides
photos by ken goodman
Be authentic: It’s pronounced yíros not j-eye-ros. The g is silent and you roll the r. Traditionally, gyros are made with meat that’s cooked on a vertical spit, but pork and chicken are very common, too.
Makes 5 servings