• Speed Cleaning for Guests

    Posted by Max Kater


    We’ve all been there. You suddenly have people coming over and you need to snap your house into shape, pronto! It happens. So before it happens again, we have some tidying tips that will help you get your clean on with a quickness (and keep it there). As in all things, it takes some preparation and planning. First things first: you need a reliable cleaning kit with the basic stuff you’ll need to clean house. Here’s what you need:

    • Dish Soap
    • Glass Cleaner
    • Bathroom Cleaner
    • All-Purpose Cleaner

      If you’re like us, you don’t have time to DIY, so we’ve short-handed it for you and made one that's ready to go right here: Murchison-Hume's Clean Starter Kit

      Once you’ve got one of these under your arm, you’re ready to tackle just about any household cleaning job. We also made it light and added a handle to tote from room to room.

      Also good to have:

      • A large basket (a laundry basket with handles is ideal)
      • Paper towels + Lint free cleaning cloth
      • Dust pan and brush


      We’ve broken it down into easy-to-do tasks, depending upon how much time you have. These are in order of importance (and impact). Ready? Let’s do this!

      If you have 5 minutes or less: Your Mother-in-Law is coming up the driveway, this is what to do:

      • Grab your basket and throw everything that needs putting away in there: Toys, slippers, mail and random papers, shoes, and your handbag. Whatever’s out of place. Work from the entry to as far as you can before the doorbell rings. Throw the basket in your bedroom and pray she doesn’t go in there.
      • On your way to the door, grab your All-Purpose Cleaner and spritz a little into the air, so it will at least smell clean (even if it’s not).

      If you have 15 minutes or less: Your new friend just rang and wants to stop by?

      • Do the 5-minute plan and then clear all the dirty dishes form the counter. 
      • Spray your kitchen surfaces with All-Purpose Cleaner and wipe down with paper towels.
      • Fill a sink full of water with dish soap. Put all of the dirty dishes in there and let them soak.
      • Go do the same in the bathroom: Spray bathroom cleaner all around the toilet bowl and rim and let it sit while you spray wipe the seat, handle and tank. Now wipe it down with toilet paper. Flush it and you’re good to go!

      You forgot about Hosting Book Club this week and it starts in 45 minutes? Don’t panic, Mama, we got you! Do the 5 and 15 minute plan. Plus this:

      *Immediately order 3 large cheese pizzas to be delivered. Grab any leftover greens or anything remotely interesting from the pantry. Wash and chop them to scatter on the pizza when it arrives. If you have wine, chill it or open it. Then…

      • Put the dishes that were soaking into the dishwasher and run it (even if it’s not full…this is an emergency)!
      • Grab your glass cleaner, go back to the bathroom and spray the mirror, faucets and any reflective surfaces. Polish dry with your lint-free cloth (or with the towels if you have time to change them for fresh ones).
      • Make your bed and put away your clothes. Move that basket of stuff into the closet. Don’t forget about it though, your wallet is probably in there!
      • Use the dustpan and brush to give the entry, kitchen and bathroom floors a quick sweep.
      • If you have extra time, go outside and snip a few branches off a leafy tree and pop them into a vase with some water for the table. Extra points for doing the same in the bathroom. It looks super fresh and will also signal that you were prepared (even if you weren’t).

      Now pull your hair back, slick on a little lip-gloss, put music on and relax. Nobody will mind that you’re still in yoga pants and haven’t vacuumed if there’s pizza and wine on the go. #fact





      Posted by Max Kater


      If I’m being really honest, I’m a glass-half-empty kind of gal. It’s true. I wish I were more sunny and optimistic, but even as a kid, I was always imagining worst-case scenarios and trying to work out how to be ready for them (I’m an only child, obviously). On the other hand, I’m also naturally lazy, so despite having a mild undercurrent of anxiety about natural disasters, I’ve never actually created a plan or done anything more than stock up on sparkling water to prepare for an emergency. If disaster strikes and you need a gin-and-tonic or a vodka soda, I’m your girl!

      Seriously though, in the aftermath of recent natural disasters, emergency preparedness suddenly has a terrible relevance, so in the interest of public safety, (and my own peace of mind) I’ve decided cancel the planned post for this week and instead talk about how to prepare your family for an emergency.

      After a deep dive and hours online researching this topic, I can say with certainty that nothing will feed your neurosis like reading multiple emergency preparedness sites like FEMA, Red Cross and Homeland Security. In fact, there is so much content and layers of advice (some of it contradictory) that you could literally spend weeks trying to make sense of it all.

      If you have the time and can stand the stress, then, by all means, go for it! But if you’re like me and just want someone to break it all down for you in digestible chunks of information that hopefully won’t freak you out, you’ve come to the right place.

      Here’s what to do: 

      1. Know your region. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people in Palm Springs have waders in the garage. So, for example, are you in a severe winter storm region? Tornado Alley? Are hurricanes a possibility? Are brushfires a concern or like me, are you worried about THE BIG ONE (a major earthquake). Start with the most likely scenario for your region. You don’t need to be ready for anything. Just the most likely thing.


      2. Make a List (and go shopping). It’s amazing how so many plans of action involve this very first step, isn’t it? Other sites will take you through creating a family plan and how to find a shelter, but I find the quickest and most effective way to get started is to hit Target and Amazon with an informed list of stuff to buy that’s specific to us. Once that’s done, I can relax enough to make a plan! Plus, when the hand crank radio and plug in flashlights arrive you have props that will hopefully engage the family in the disaster plan. Nicely done.

      Your needs will vary by region and of course your list will be family specific, but this is what most of the major sites suggest you should have on hand at a MINIMUM:

      A First Aid Kit. Years ago, I took a St. John’s Ambulance course in Sydney so this is the one thing I always have at the ready. Forget about those ready-made kits with Band-Aids on Amazon. Really? A Band-Aid? You just had a major natural disaster and you need a Band-Aid? I say, make your own kit. Here’s what you really need:

      1. A small bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide to cleanse wounds. It’s also an anti-bacterial gargle if you add water.

      2. A big box of sanitary pads. I’m not kidding. Doctors keep them in their bags to dress wounds. They’re individually wrapped, sterile, and we know they’re absorbent! Plus they won’t stick to a wound or a burn like a BAND-AID will. Sorry, we love you Band-Aids, but not in an emergency. Get back in the medicine cabinet where you belong.

      3. Antibiotic Cream

      4. Hand Sanitizer

      5. Latex Gloves

      6. Gauze for dressing a wound

      7. First Aid Tape

      8. Those stretchy ACE bandages and clips

      9. Pain Relief: Aspirins, Ibuprofen, and maybe something stronger if you have to sedate someone. Mini-bar bottles of gin and vodka are always a good idea on several levels.

      10. Tools: A pair of scissors, tweezers and a sterile surgical knife. I don’t screw around.

      11. Superglue. Seriously. If someone needs stitches and you can’t get to the emergency room: superglue. It works.

      12. Lighters and matches in a waterproof container.  Now that’s a First-Aid Kit with grunt.


      Your Basic Shopping List

      1 Good Flashlight + 1 Whistle per family member: OK, actually the whistle thing is my idea, but hear me out: The two things I’d grab after my kids are a flashlight and a whistle. I like the flashlights that plug into the wall socket so are always ready, and you never to have to look for them. Make sure the whistles have a lanyard to hang around your neck so you don’t lose them. A simple 99-cent whistle can be a lifesaver if you need to attract attention and are trapped somewhere. I also happen to have a battery-operated megaphone, but that’s a me thing.


      Cell phones with extra chargers. It really surprised me how far down on the list some sites mention mobile phones! Were they all made in 1992? As in everyday life, your phone will be your most important piece of equipment. Make sure it’s charged every night and get a spare long-life charger for each one in the house.


      Water: Most sites recommend a minimum of one gallon per person, per day. More if you live in a warm climate. A three-day supply for evacuation, and a two-week supply for home. I get glass bottles and cans of club soda because the plastic eventually degrades in the heat. I also bought this guy today


      Food: Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items are key. Keep enough for three-days in the event of an evacuation, and a two-week supply at home. I like boxes of cereal, peanut butter, granola bars and of course, cans of food are best and last longest. I also buy that UHT milk in boxes. Jars of Baby Food and cans of pet food are a good idea (especially if you have babies and pets). Make sure you have a manual can-opener! I also have a picnic basket with Solo cups and plastic bowls and utensils. Empty refillable water bottles and a Thermos is good, too.


      Rain Boots for everyone (even in California). Most sites say “sturdy shoes,” but we could all expire waiting for my youngest to lace up his high-tops. No thank you! I bought steel toe, weatherproof boots for all of us at Wal-Mart .  Why? Because they’re sturdy, shock proof, easy to jump into quickly (like a Fireman!) and come in handy if you have to walk through a muddy field anyway. 


      Cash. Small denominations. Keep enough on hand to buy everything you’d need to survive for a few days. If networks are down, cash is king.


      A hand-crank/solar-powered radio. This is more of a nice to have, but if the poo really hits the fan, you’ll be glad you have it. The best ones have a phone charger and a flashlight built in.


      Nice to Have:

      Extra batteries are always a good idea. Store them in a cool place or a box in the fridge (seriously) they last longer.

      •  2 way radios.
      •  Multi-purpose tool
      •  Sanitation and personal hygiene items
      •  Survival Blankets


      If you get most of the things on the basic list, you’re way ahead of the game. Now comes the planning part.

      Create a digital archive of important family documents. This is so easy and obvious and only ONE site recommended it.


      Take photos of your family’s entire most vital documents and store them in a cloud service. I like to use the Tiny Scanner app to get really good copies of Birth Certificates, Health Insurance cards, passports, drivers licenses, medical prescriptions, and records, blood types, etc. I store ours on Dropbox. This is a no brainer and has come in handy on plenty of non-emergency situations, too.


      MAKE A PLAN: You’ll never know where you’re going to be if a disaster strikes, so you at least need to discuss how you will find each other.


      NOMINATE AN OUT OF STATE CONTACT: A friend, family member that’s fluid on social media and reliably picks up the phone is perfect. Make sure you tell them they are your contact person!

      We’ve never done this and I’m doing it tonight. There are some pretty good links and templates here

      This kind of thing seems totally paranoid American to my Australian Husband and man-cubs, but really it’s not a big deal and once you’ve done them, you don’t have to worry about anything. Except maybe North Korea (but that’s another post).




      More links to research, if you want to go deeper:

      1. https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/prepare-my-family-disaster 

      2. https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/how-to-prepare-for-an-emergency#power-outage

      3. http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies

      4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/10/disaster-prep-month_n_5790278.html



    • Got Granite?

      Posted by Max Kater

      By Contributing Editor, Jane Sandwood


      Your Guide to Cleaning Granite Countertops 

      Granite and stone kitchen countertops are a beautiful way to add texture and depth to your kitchen. But they are expensive and prone to staining and cracking. With the right products and a little extra care, natural stone can be a practical and even durable choice that will enhance the look and value of your home for decades. But how to clean them without resorting to specialty cleaners and labor intensive polishes?

      Stone is naturally porous and is therefore more susceptible to staining and marks than their man-made options like Corian, or tile. We love stone for its natural beauty, but harsh cleaners can destroy the surface and reduce the lifespan of your costly surfaces. If you decide to invest in granite or stone kitchen counter tops, swapping out your regular supermarket stuff to something without bleach, ammonia or the usual chemical nasties is a really good idea.

      The First, Most Important Step

      Granite is a natural material. It’s a stone that’s been used for building for a long, long time. Before it arrives as a ready to install bench top, it’s been quarried, cut, and polished. Since it is a stone, however, it must be sealed. There are a couple of ways to do this. Professional and DIY options abound. We recommend having it done professionally at installation before going it alone with an at-home sealant. 

      You should always check with your manufacturer to get full instructions on sealants and how often to reseal, but typically, granite should be sealed about once a year. Sealing helps to protect your lovely countertops from heat, spills and standing water that might mark the surface. Good to know: When water stops beading on your granite surface, it’s probably time to re-seal.

      Let’s Get Cleaning

      First of all, don’t stress about it. Cleaning granite is actually incredibly simple. If you choose the right cleaning products, you can clean as often as you like without worrying about harming the finish.

      For light, everyday cleaning, use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner like our Counter Safe All-Purpose Cleaner. Just spray and wipe with a dry, lint-free cloth and you’re done. Easy.

      For a more serious deep clean, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and gather your materials. Here’s what you need:

      - A small bucket (or large bowl)
      - A mild plant-based dishwashing liquid
      - A clean, non-abrasive sponge
      - A clean, lint-free cloth for drying


      Start by taking everything off the counter. Don’t skip this step (seriously). If you do, moisture can gather under things left on the counter and if allowed to sit there, can damage your surface.


      1. Sweep clean (get rid of crumbs, etc.) you can use a dry cloth or just a damp paper towel.
      2. Start with soap. We recommend using a mild, plant-based Dish Soap and warm water. We typically dilute to a 90% water-to-soap ratio (you only need a small amount of soap) depending on the type of stone and size of your countertop. If in doubt, use less; it’s always easier to add more soap than to start again.
      3. Use your sponge to gently clean your worktop, working from the back to the front. If you start to see a white lather, dilute with more water. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to rinse them, just buff to dry. You’ll want to rinse your cloth in clean, non-sudsy water often to make sure you’re not just moving dirt around.
      4. Dry your counter. Buff it till it shines. Your sealant will have a built-in sheen, but once properly cleaned and polished, it will positively gleam. There it is!


      Granite worktops are durable, practical, and beautiful. If you use the right products, they can also be deliciously easy to clean. Preventative sealing, followed by daily maintenance using gentle, naturally made products, and the occasional deep clean, will keep them looking gorgeous for years to come. 


    • The (Other) Digital Detox

      Posted by Max Kater

      (this is live bacteria on your phone)

      (this is a plateholder from container store)


      If we asked you to name the germiest place in the house, you’d probably say “the bathroom.”  Wrong! It’s your digital devices (especially that slippery germ brick otherwise known as an iPhone that you’re holding to your face right now).

      According to a recent article in Forbes:

      A variety of studies and reports over the years have put the average bacteria per square inch on a toilet seat somewhere between 50 and almost 300 for household potties and over 1,000 for the public varieties. Yet our own handheld electronics harbor even more bacteria than that.”

      Really? More bacteria than a public toilet?! Yep. You’re staring down the barrel of bacteria colonies like: streptococcus, bacillius mycoides and maybe even fecal coliforms (otherwise known as poo). Ewwwww.

      The article goes on to list the worst offenders:

      1. Your Phone: You take it everywhere, right? You put it down on the bar and on restaurant tables; taxi seats and maybe even a public bathroom tank or sink. Then you bring it home and put it on the dining table, kitchen counter or your bedside table.

      Hello, bacteria counter! According to another 2012 study at the University of Arizonaour smartphones carry up to 10 times more bacteria than most public toilets seats. Other studies have put that number much higher.

      2. Your iPad/Tablet: Basically your phone with a bigger surface area (to hold more germs)

      3. Game controllers: Those sticky little fingers aren’t always great about washing hands after going to the bathroom, are they? So it’s really no surprise that controllers are a whopping 5 times dirtier than a toilet seat on the average. Ugh.

      4. Your Keyboard+ Mouse: Frankly, we thought this one would be higher up on the list. They host merely 3 times more germs than the average public loo. Nice. 

      5. Remote controls: We never touch the remote in a hotel room until we’ve given it a generous spritz of cleaner. Fact. And even though it’s cleaner than the loo seat (talk about lowering the bar) we’re not taking any chances.

      So. Now that you are totally grossed out, here’s what to do to fix it:

      1. Wash your hands. It’s the simplest thing and you’ve heard it before, but you would be SHOCKED to know how many well-dressed grown-ups just swing out of the bathroom with dirty hands.

      2. Notice where you put your phone down! This goes for any hand held device. Use a napkin or better yet, keep it in your pocket or bag at dinner. That's what you’re supposed to do, anyway!

      3. Clean your stuff. Make it a Friday afternoon ritual to clean your mouse, keyboard and all your devices before you head out for the weekend. That way, you’re (literally) starting with a clean slate on Monday. You just need a simple, alcohol based cleaner that’s safe for use on electronic devices.  And spray the cloth, not the device. Duh.

    • 5 Things that Organized People do at Home Everyday

      Posted by Max Kater

      I make house-cleaning products for a living, so people naturally assume that I’m some sort of broom-hugging, sponge-loving, housekeeping Ninja. Nope! In fact, I’m naturally very lazy. But I do love a clean house! That’s why I forced myself to develop some good habits that help me maintain (without really trying). If you can do these 5 things everyday, you will absolutely minimize the amount of time and effort you have to put into really cleaning. And everybody likes that!

      Here they are:


      1. A Place for Everything (and everything in its place). This is the Golden Rule of housekeeping. Even if you do nothing else, finding a practical home for everything you own (and keeping it there) will drastically improve your house flow and save you from a case of the wild grumpies while trying to look for something you need and can’t find in the house.




      2. Clean as you go. This is the easiest and most important habit to form. Really! It simply means that once you use a thing, you immediately put it back where it belongs (see Habit number 1). For example, while cooking, put the olive oil back in the pantry once you’ve used it. Easy. This extends to dishes, clothes, the TV remote and those shoes you just left next to the sofa. Just put it away, right away! It has become so automatic to me that I do it without even thinking now.




      3. Take your shoes off. Most household dirt and germs come in on our hands and feet. If you take your shoes off right at the door, your floors will be cleaner, which means less mopping and vacuuming. Score! And wash your hands a lot. Especially when you come home from being out. You’ll get sick less often. Seriously. It’s a habit I’m trying to encourage in my Man Cubs with limited success so far. #wekeeptrying




      4. Deal with THE STUFF. That temporary stuff that comes in like the tide every day: newspapers, homework, and mail need to be dealt with right away or it will get totally out of control. Have you seen Hoarders?! Those papers didn’t throw themselves out, did they? As soon as I kick off my shoes, I do the mail. I toss the envelopes and advertisements straight into recycling. Be strong! I have hung onto to a Crate & Barrel Easter catalog right through the Holidays. But I’m better now. If I can do it, you can, too.





      5. Make Your Bed. There is really nothing more depressing than coming home to an unmade bed. I try to make my bed and hang my pajamas as soon as I wake up. Hooks for your PJs and an easy bed set-up will help. #hooksforeverything



      That’s it! These are really easy habits to form if you commit to them. Once these become second nature, everything at home is a lot less stressful (and you’ll never have to look for your sunglasses and car keys ever again).




      Photos courtesy of The Home Edit @thehomeedit and Emily Henderson Design @em_henderson



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