Halloween season – how to celebrate and clean your home?

The Halloween is looming! You probably have already figured out how to spend this holiday and stocked up on candy. You might even have a costume (or two) ready for every family member.

Except in the United States, Halloween is celebrated in Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Puerto Rico, Japan, New Zealand and some parts of Australia, but the customs are similar in all parts of the world.

Jack o’ Lantern time!

Pumpkin patch is probably planned for this weekend and your family will have fun carving pumpkins. And that both means a lot of fun and a lot of mess!

This custom is based on the Irish legend about the blacksmith Jack. Jack was known for his imagination.

Jack offered his soul in exchange for a drink. According to the legend, when the Devil was turned into a coin, Jack quickly put him in his pocket next to the cross – which made the Devil unable to return to his form. This cunning blacksmith released the Devil only when he promised that he would not seek his soul for the next ten years, says the story.

After that, the lecture says that Jack once again managed to fool the Devil by asking him to pick up an apple from the tree. He quickly drew a cross on the tree of the tree, and the Devil could not catch him again.

Yet, as the legend says, when Jack died, he was not received in Heaven because of sinful life, but not in Hell. The devil sent him back, giving him a piece of coal.

According to the tradition, this blacksmith had a tail in his pocket and he put the coal inside. Since then, he has become a wanderer who, trying to find his way home, goes on dark streets carrying a tail in his hand and scaring people around him.

As the legend spread and the witch’s night slowly became an increasingly frequent holiday in countries all over the world, so the story changed. Because of this, some people have carved tomatoes, some potatoes, and everything ended with pumpkin becoming one of the most important symbol of Halloween.

How to clean pumpkin carving mess?

In most of the cases, after the holidays the beautiful costumes, spotless makeup and the most delicious sweets leave the biggest spots and the most stubborn dirt. Furniture and carpets are the worst part of the home where the stains end up.

It is fairly easy to clean hardwood and stone floors from pumpkin residues. Use water and cleaning liquid you prefer and everything is done in a matter of minutes. But what if the pumpkin seeds end up in a living room or bedroom?

Pumpkin stains are the most stubborn ones. They are cleaned as all fruit stains. You need a knife, a stain remover, a few clean cloths, warm water and a lot of patience.

Firstly, you should use a knife to scrape off any residual pumpkin stains in order to prevent it from spreading. Then use upholstery cleaning product and gently rub it in with the sponge. When everything is done, use a lot of fresh water and clean cloths to remove the stain. The same process applies to carpets.

No matter what, happy aces of pumpkin carvers are irreplaceable. So, enjoy your holidays and if the cleaning becomes too much for you to handle, you can always book a professional cleaning.

Happy Halloween from Absolute Shine team and we hope you’ll have fun!

Spring Break destinations right here in Virginia

Why rush off to Mexico or Florida for your spring break when there are plenty of options right here in the Old Dominion? Whether you are a family looking for fun, lovers in search of romance, or a student planning to drink yourself silly, Virginia has plenty to offer.

Virginia’s mixture of small towns and larger cities, historic sites, outdoor adventures, and culinary and wine destinations offer something for everyone. Virginia’s fine inns and boutique hotels are some of the most sought after in the country.

Here are in-state spring break suggestions, with something for families, couples and frat-boys alike.

FAMILY FUN

Shenandoah National Park – Load the kids into the car and cruise along Skyline Drive, taking in mountains and greenery from all angles. Or, to get the most out of Shenandoah National Park, exit the automobile and get involved with nature. Kids should enjoy the park ranger led Junior Ranger program, which includes guided nature hikes, horseback riding, camping and wildlife watching.

Virginia State Parks – There are 35 Virginia State Parks sprinkled throughout the Old Dominion, from the Atlantic seashore to the Appalachian Mountains. Visitors can hike the trails, take in scenic views, hit the beaches, go boating, go tubing down a river, explore an abandoned gold mine, spot a bald eagle in the wild and plenty more.

Williamsburg – In the Historic Triangle of Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown Settlement, kids and adults alike can see what life in early America was like, and learn a little about how America got started. But if that gets too educational (you’re on vacation remember) then there’s always Busch Gardens, which offers an old world European theme for the adults and roller coasters for thrill-seeking youngsters.

Eastern Shore – Because it’s separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay, visiting the Eastern Shore can feel like you’ve left the state without crossing any borders. But provided you don’t venture too far north and stray into Maryland, you’re still on an in-state spring break vacation. Sporty kids can take a lesson at the SEE Kite Boarding School, while the more scientifically curious will be fascinated by the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center. And anyone not interested in seeing the wild ponies of Chincoteague Island doesn’t deserve a spring break in the first place.

ROMANTIC GETAWAYS

Onancock – Breathe in that sea breeze. Onancock is a tiny harbor town of less than 2,000 people, established in the late 1600s and located in Accomack County in the Eastern Shore region of Virginia. Couples can enjoy the quaintness of gingerbread porches, clapboard steeples and old-fashioned glass storefronts, before sleeping tight at the Inn at Onancock, a bed and breakfast promising feather-topped beds, luxury linens and a gourmet breakfast when you wake up.

Staunton – As Virginia Living editor Richard Ernsberger Jnr. discovered on a recent visit, you pronounce it STAN-ton, without the ‘u’ sound. Staunton is a walkable town, boasting art galleries, restaurants and the Blackfriars Playhouse, where the American Shakespeare Center performs Elizabethan plays in their original conditions. Stay at any of the nine bed and breakfasts, all located within the sort of restored historic buildings that saw Staunton named amongst the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

Charlottesville – Walk the historic Grounds of the University of Virginia and visit Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson. Or simply stroll around the boutique stores downtown. Better still, get above it all with a hot air balloon ride over Central Virginia.

Loudoun County – Loudoun County is in northern Virginia, less than an hour’s drive from he hubbub of Washington, D.C., but now claims more wineries than any other county in the state. Take the Loudon County Wine Trail and enjoy the clusters of boutique wineries while admiring the backdrop of beautiful rolling hills.

PARTY TOWN

Virginia Beach – Head for the bright lights of Virginia’s biggest city, which offers 28 miles of beaches, 11,000 accommodation options, 3 miles of boardwalk and more restaurants, bars and nightclubs than you could ever hope to conquer in one visit. Just remember to drink plenty of water before going to bed so you can get up the following day and enjoy some water sports.

UNCATEGORIZABLE

Tangier Island – Visiting Tangier Island is like going back in time. Located in the Lower Eastern Shore, Tangier Island is nearly car-less and very much ATM-less, so bring cash and be prepared to rent a bike. One of the many odd attractions is the accent of the locals, which due to the relative isolation of island life is almost unchanged from when the island was settled in 1686.

 

Enjoy your Spring Break!

Let it Shine!!

 

Spring Cleaning Checklist!

 

Spring Cleaning Checklist!

There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. For many people, however, the pleasure comes only after the work is finished. Your spring cleaning may never become effortless, but you can make the project more manageable — and even enjoyable. This checklist offers an overview of everything you need to know.

 

Throughout the House
The tips below outline basic techniques that will help you clean almost every surface (or object) in any room. The tasks are broken down by location, including outdoor spaces. The final page of this foldout focuses on window washing and upkeep, which is essential if you’re going to let the sun shine in on the bright days to come.
Wipe Walls and Ceilings: Use a vacuum to remove dust. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially prevalent in kitchens, with a solvent-free degreaser (test it first in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t mar the surface).

Reseal Grout Lines: The cement-based material between wall, floor, and countertop tiles is extremely porous and stains easily. Protect it with a penetrating grout sealer; it’s best to apply it with a small foam brush.

Vacuum and Shampoo Rugs: Synthetic carpets and rugs with wa- terproof backings can be deep-cleaned with a rotary shampoo machine and a hot-water extraction machine. Rugs without backings, including Orientals, require professional cleaning, you can BOOK A SPRING CLEANING NOW  with us (include inside window glass, inside oven, inside refrigerator , inside vacuum and Dust closet.)

Dust Books and Shelves: Take everything off the Shelves, and brush shelves and books with a feather dust- er. Use the dust-brush or crevice tool on a vacuum to reach into tight spots. Wipe the spines of leather-bound books with a clean, soft cloth.

Clean Upholstered Furnishings: Take cushions outside and gently beat them by hand to remove dust. If there are stains, check the pieces for care labels. Use a vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions.

Polish Metal Door and Window Hardware: Liquid polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medi- um-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavier work. If tarnish doesn’t come off, try a stronger product.

Dust Your Home Thoroughly: This includes hard-to-reach places, such as the tops of ceiling fans and window casings. Always work from the top of a room down, vacuuming the dust that settles on the floor. Avoid using dusting sprays.

Wax Wooden Furniture: Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dishwashing liquid. Apply paste wax, such as Butch- er’s wax, a few feet at a time with a cotton rag folded into a square pad. Let wax dry; buff with a clean cloth.

Ensure Fire Safety: Change batteries in smoke detec- tors (this should be done twice a year), and make sure units are free of dust. Teach everyone in your household how to use a fire extinguisher, and review escape plans.

Wash Window Screens: Using warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush; rinse thoroughly.

Clean Window Treatments: Many draperies and curtains are machine washable; check labels. Dry-clean fab- ric shades. Wipe wooden blinds with a damp cloth; warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid is safe for metal and vinyl blinds.

Wax Non-Wood Floors: Vinyl and linoleum floors that have lost their shine should be waxed with a polish designed for these surfaces. Most stone and tile floors can be treated with either a paste or a liquid wax designed for the material.

 

9 Ideas to get a Shiny Valentine’s Day

9 Ways to Get Romantic in Virginia

1. Treat your five-star someone to one of Virginia’s five-star stays.

2. Dine upscale while tasting the local flavor.

3. Surprise your love with a special bed and breakfast stay or cozy cabin all to yourself.

4. Take your relationship to new heights at Virginia’s tallest peaks.

5. Give the gold medal treatment with samples of award-winning craft beverages or head to a couples-only winery for a quiet tasting together.

6. Relax in luxury with a couples massage at a Virginia spa.

7. Cuddle by the fire at a Virginia Mountain Resort.

8. Plan a proposal at a Virginia LOVEwork sculpture. Be sure to capture the moment, tag it #LOVEVA and share it socially.

9. Share a kiss at a kissing bridge, of course.

And of course meanwhile you can take advantage of our Premium House Cleaning service.

Cleaning checklist for January

Some housecleaning and preventative maintenance tasks only need to be done once or twice a year. The problem is, we forget to do them once or twice a year.

The best plan is to break down annual and seasonal housecleaning tasks by month. Nothing gets too backed up; and things eventually get done. All without a major life overhaul.

1. let there be dark!

January’s arrival means it’s time to take down the Christmas lights over the garage.  These 3 garage storage solutions can help organize and store lights, decorations, and more until next December.

2. clear the clutter.

Very, very carefully, wrap and put away every ornament and every light and every Christmas decoration.

Very, very carefully put them in boxes and label them before putting them in to storage so you can find them more easily next year.

3. out with the old, in with the new.

Now’s the time to begin cleaning out your closets to make room for Santa’s bounty.

Share what you don’t need anymore with the less fortunate.

4. the party’s over…

So clean your holiday linens and put them away till next year. Ditto for those festive reindeer plates.

Box them all up carefully, placing cardboard between the dishes so Blitzen doesn’t wind up with a chipped antler.

5. soft stuff.

Scoop up all the soft stuff in your home and send it for a dust removing spin in the dryer.

Scoop up all the decorative pillows, the afghans, the throws, etc., and launder them or send them to the cleaners.

6. hard stuff.

Sanitize hard surfaces such as counters, telephones, laptop computers, etc. (It’s the cold and flu season, after all).

7. happy houseplants.

Clean, healthy house plants add a breath of fresh air to a room. Dusty houseplants contribute a more funereal tone.

Clean them and they will clean your air. Simply wipe the leaves with an electrostatically charged cloth. It works like magic.

8. yours are fake?

No problem. Blow dry silk flowers clean, or else pop them in a plastic bag with a little salt and shake vigorously.

9. more spicy info.

Clean your pantry. Toss foods your kids will never eat; foods that have long since expired; spices that have lost their oomph.

10. and on a cold, icky day when you’ve nothing else to do…

Clean all the electronics. Clean the CD player, the remotes, the HDTVs. Wipe down your video camera. Read the directions (finally) for your digital camera. Try storing all warranties and manuals in one file so you’ll know where they are.

Tips for Throwing a Shiny New Year’s Eve Party on Any Budget

Don’t let the cost of throwing a party deter you from having one.  For someone who is just recovering financially from the holidays, the thought of throwing a New Year’s Eve party can be overwhelming. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a great party and still stick to your budget. Here are some tips and ideas that your wallet will love.

Keep the Decorations Simple

It’s easy to go a little crazy with decorations for your New Year’s Eve Party. Try to reuse as many of your holiday decorations as possible. If you want a simple and inexpensive way to set the scene, scatter white votive candles around your home and turn the lights down. Another way to save money on decorations is to hit the dollar store for party supplies like noisemakers, banners, plasticware and you will spend less than at a big box store. Avoid decorations with the year printed on it. You want to be able to recycle them for New Year’s Eve parties in the future.

Host Later in the Evening

Hosting a party later in the evening after friends and family have completed their dinner plans is a great way to get together and save money. Without the need to make a big dinner or keep everyone fed all through the night, you can save money on food and drinks. You really only need to have snack foods and some appetizers on hand to keep your guests happy. Oh, and alcohol helps.

Drink Smart

 

One of the most expensive purchases for New Year’s Eve parties is usually the booze. It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on alcohol for your guests. You want to make sure that your guests enjoy themselves, but you don’t want to be paying for the tab into the new year. What do you do?

You can handle providing alcohol for the party in a few ways. You can invite your party guests to BYOB. If you don’t feel comfortable asking your guests to provide their own, you can keep the drink menu simple and offer only beer and wine. If you want to provide all the alcohol for your guests, stick to the basics. Choose a few base liquors that can be made into many drinks like vodka, rum and gin. Buying a few juices and add-ins will allow you to make many different drinks from it.

Takeaway

Hosting a rocking New Year’s Eve party on a budget isn’t impossible. The whole point of New Year’s Eve is celebrating your accomplishments the past year, while looking forward to the upcoming year. Spending time with those who mean the most to you is just icing on the cake. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a great time!

Wishing you a Shiny New Year with the hope that you will have many blessings in the year to come.

The Absolute Shine Cleaning Services Family

Cleaning Plan for Christmas

Walk through your home with a visitor’s eye, making notes of any imperfections you may be used to but guests may notice. Shaggy strings hanging off sofa pillows? Write it down. Pet hair clogging up heating vents? Make note. Dead leaves hanging from houseplants? Jot away. Turn do-it-yourself tasks into a do-itourselves effort—gather family members, go over the plan, and assign chores. Remember that many hands make light work.

Wash windows and vacuum window screens.  Damp-mop baseboards. Launder and press window and shower curtains.  Launder bedspreads if needed.

Deep-clean bathrooms and medicine cabinets (yes, people will look).  Straighten bedrooms; remove clutter and store out of sight.

Wash throw rugs; set aside so they are nice and fluffy for party day.  Straighten coat closet, making room for guests’ coats. Add fresh hangers if needed.

Clean range or stove top, surfaces, and grates.  Clean refrigerator, making room for party foods; dust top of refrigerator.  Wipe down all large and small appliances..  Wipe down kitchen cabinet exteriors.  Take recycling to recycling bins or facilities.

Dust all surfaces, including bookshelves, tops of framed photos, and art. Dust ceiling fans.  Clean kitchen sinks and dish drainer.  Sweep entryway, polish the doorknob, and decorate the entry with seasonal touches.

Clean trash receptacles and add fresh liners.  Wipe down any dirty areas in the bathroom using household cleaner and paper towels.  Wipe down bathroom mirrors and counters. Wipe down floors with a damp towel.  Apply toilet bowl cleaner in the toilets; brush.  Hang fresh towels and put out fresh hand soap.  Damp-mop the kitchen floor.  Vacuum carpets and dry-mop wood floors.  Fluff sofa cushions and pillows.  Decorate with special touches, such as flowers or candles.

And Remember you always can call Absolute Shine Cleaning Services for help.

 

How to Prepare the House for Christmas

This article will help guide you as you prepare your home for Christmas.

First Step Clean the house.

The decorations won’t look nearly as pretty if they’re nestled in with cobwebs. Give the house a deep clean, dust, vacuum, mop, and polish. Do all the laundry, or have everyone do their own if they’re old enough. Bring in any potted plants from outside if they won’t survive the cold and rake up any leaves left over from fall. If you have children, have them clean their rooms just as thoroughly, telling them that Santa may not come if they don’t. You can also use this as a time for them to go through their toys and pick a few to donate to a charity or thrift store. If any toys are broken, throw them out.

Of course you can call Absolute Shine Cleaning Services for this step.

 

Set up the lights.

If you already have lights, use them; if you don’t wish to use the existing lights, or you want different lights, go to the store and buy new ones. There are no right or wrong lights, it’s just a matter of personal taste. Be sure to buy plenty of light hooks and nails while you are out. If you are buying new lights, understand what you want to do with them first. Are you stringing them up just around the room on the side facing the street? Are you putting stripes across your roof? Know approximately how many feet you want to cover and where before shopping.

 

Put up the Tree.

You can buy one at a Christmas tree lot or use an artificial tree if you prefer. Put the lights on the tree first, wrapping them in and out of the branches for a fully “lit-up” look. Next comes garland, if you’re using it, and then the ornaments. If you like, do the actual decorating as a family, letting everyone put on their favorite ornaments. Put the tree topper on. This could be a star, an angel, or something else entirely. Again, it’s a personal choice.

Make cookies.

If they’re in danger of all being eaten before Santa gets there, tuck a few away or plan on making another batch closer to Christmas Eve. Gingerbread men and Sugar cookies are popular choices. Don’t think it’s just the children who can decorate cookies!

 

Buy presents.

Make a list and check it twice, of who you’re buying for and what you want to give them. Make sure the cost of each gift will fit into your budget before you do any shopping. Once you’re bought the presents, wrap them up! Store bought wrapping paper, newspaper (especially the comics pages), brown paper from grocery bags, and gift bags are all options. Ribbons, raffia, or fabric scraps can be used to top them off. Don’t forget the tag saying who it’s for!

Put some of the presents under the tree.

If you have children, it’s best not to put any presents to them under the tree until closer to Christmas. If you have aunts, uncles, other relatives, friends, or neighbors coming by that you’ve shopped for, put their gifts under the tree. It makes it look very Christmasy.

 

Well done with this steps you must be almost ready for Christmas.

And remember  Shiny Home, Happy Family!!

Thanksgiving Countdown 4 days

Four Days Ahead

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  • As appropriate, begin defrosting the frozen turkey in your refrigerator.
  • Save money on ice — start making your own ice cubes now. When they’re frozen, dump them in a freezer bag.
  • Do major housecleaning and organizing. (of course you can call Absolute Shine Cleaning Services for this)
  • Put up wreaths and nonperishable decorations like candles.
  • Phone guests regarding menu plans and find out what oven space they may need. Also inquire if they are bringing serving pieces or if you should furnish these.
  • Plan ahead for leftovers. Organize containers, bags, and wraps so guests can take home the meal’s bounty.

 

Two Days Ahead

Fresh red cranberries in wooden bowls with spices and pine branches

  • Chill beverages.
  • Have centerpiece delivered or buy flowers for the table.
  • Shop for perishable items.
  • Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
  • Set out bread for homemade stuffing.
  • Make cranberry sauce.
  • Fill salt and pepper shakers and butter dishes.
  • Complete light housecleaning.
  • Lay a fire in the fireplace, ready to light later.
  • Put up decorations.

One Day Ahead

Cloe up of a bathroom basin and hand towel

  • Peel potatoes, place in a pot of cold water. Keep in refrigerator.
  • Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
  • Make all dishes that can be prepared ahead. Don’t forget the pies and any chopping, peeling, or toasting that can be done ahead.
  • Check your bathrooms. Be sure to have extra paper goods and hand towels available.
  • Prepare stuffing.
  • Do spot cleaning of the rooms that will be used.
  • Let your family set the table in the evening.
  • Make the side dishes that can be baked ahead of time.
  • Make a staging area for coffee, desserts, and drinks. Stock with flatware, sugar and creamer, cups and saucers, etc. This could even be set up on a tray stashed in the pantry until needed.

 

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey on holiday table with pumpkins, flowers and wine

  • Get out all serving pieces. Set out in order on a counter or buffet table.
  • Fill condiment dishes with your choice of pickles, olives, cranberry sauce, etc. Cover each dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Lay serving spoons on top.
  • Assign specific family members or relatives to be in charge of tending the fire, pouring drinks, answering the door, hanging up coats, and watching the children.
  • Remove turkey from the refrigerator for one to two hours. Add stuffing to the bird or place into casseroles to bake separately.
  • Preheat oven.
  • Put turkey in oven and baste every half hour or according to your recipe.
  • Prepare coffee and brew 20 minutes before serving.
  • Remove stuffing from turkey and let it rest, covered, for about 20 minutes before slicing.
  • Microwave food to quickly reheat if all the burners of the stove are occupied.
  • Make gravy and last-minute vegetables.
  • Set out refrigerated dishes including condiments, cranberries, and salads.
  • Heat bread or rolls as needed.
  • Pour drinks.
  • Carve turkey.
  • Keep the oven on the lowest setting to keep foods warm until the meal is over.
  • Enjoy the dinner! Clear the table and serve dessert.

 

Cleanup

Young woman cleaning oven at the kitchen

  • Before leaving the table, blow out candles. Collect used cloth napkins and place them in the laundry.
  • Quickly fill the dishwasher with one load of dinner dishes and glassware. Add soap and run a cycle.
  • Fill the sink with hot soapy water and drop in silverware and any items to be hand-washed.
  • Put away leftover food in containers, foil packs, or plastic bags. Distribute into labeled bags for guests to take home. Refrigerate everything.
  • Wash items in the sink, then refill with hot water to soak pots and pans.
  • Clear and wash kitchen counters.
  • Wash serving pieces belonging to guests. Set labeled bags in a mudroom or hall, ready to take home.
  • Organize games or other entertainment.
  • Finish dishes as time allows, or after guests depart.
  • Launder tablecloth and napkins.
  • Put away dishes, serving pieces, and glassware.
  • Return any borrowed tables, chairs, games, etc.
  • Make notes on what worked — and what didn’t — and keep in your recipe box by the “Thanksgiving” tab.
  • Write and mail thank-you notes.

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