May 30, 2013

Time to Whack the Lilacs! and other home maintenance tips

We are experiencing thunderstorms nightly, occasional tornado watches, and ants in the house.

In other words, we are running a little late, but it's spring in Missouri.

We had about 6 inches of snow on the 3rd day of May this year, and a few days that got up to about 90, but here on May 30th, the temperatures are only in the 70's.  This means we can sleep with the windows open at night and we don't have to turn on the air yet!  It also means the ants have invaded the kitchen again, but that has come to be a spring ritual.  

Whether they come in due to drought or flood, come in they always do.  I am a Terro girl when it comes to getting rid of ants, but this year I'm doing something else in addition.  I am wiping down the counters with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water that I keep in a spray bottle. It destroys the trails they follow.  At least that's what I read somewhere, and it is working.  Vinegar and baking soda have long comprised most of my cleaning solutions.  What one won't do the other will, and in dire cases, pour a little of both on and watch it work.  I also keep ammonia and bleach around, but those 4 are all you really ever need.

Oh, and if you ever need to get rust out of clothing or linens?  WHINK!  Whink is exactly what you need!  My oldest baby left a sweatshirt on the back of the dryer for about 6 months and lo and behold, when he finally got it to his room, it had rust spots on it.  I got on FB and asked if anyone had a sure-fire remedy and one of my oldest and best FB friends, Shirley, put up a link.  I trust Shirley completely, so I clicked on the link and ordered it.  It came within 3 days and all I did was squirt the clear liquid Whink on the spots and they disappeared!  Completely!! Before my eyes!!!!  In 3 seconds!!!!!  It was as close to magic as I had been for a while and I gotta tell ya, you need a bottle of Whink.  Even if your children put up their clean clothes faster than 6 months, even if your dryer isn't rusty, you want a bottle of Whink for when you have to change the toilet lid.  NONE of those are without rust, I am sure.

Tornado watches and being banished to the basement are much more fun with FB, and I found the easiest fudge recipe on there EVER, that does not involve marshmallow cream (which I do not like but will eat, I'm hypocritical like that, but only when it comes down to fudge).  All you do is take a bag and a half of your favorite flavor chips, mix with a can of sweetened condensed milk, bring to a boil, throw it into a buttered 8x8 pan, and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.  My favorite chips are peanut butter, but I seem to be unable to keep them in the house for more than 6 hours, and so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips for our tornado warnings this week and we all survived quite happily.

And last, but not least, I remind you that between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, it is time to whack your lilacs down to about 3 feet high.  I was terrified the first time I did that, but it was well worth it.  Then your lilac bushes will send their energy into their smallest little runners, and the next year your bushes will be wider and more uniform in height.  Don't be scared, be brutal.  It's for their own good, and they will be more and more beautiful for it.  You can also get starts by digging those little runners up and putting them in a pot for a couple of years.  After that it should be ready to be transplanted outside and they make really wonderful funeral or wedding offerings that will never be forgotten.  I have a white and a purple lilac, and while they both bloomed for a few days this year they were covered in snow and frosted severely when they tried to hang on.  Next year I hope they will do much better, but it all depends on the weather.

Happy spring cleaning!