11 Kitchen Cleaning Tips - Read Mine, Share Yours

Like everyone else, I clean year-round. But with spring just 7 days away, I'm getting into a Spring Cleaning mood. I want to scrub off the winter doldrums, open the windows, and let the fresh air in. Here are some of my favorite cleaning tips for those pesky jobs.

Burned food in the bottom of a pot: Add a squirt of liquid dish detergent and half an inch of water to the pot. Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the water cool to room temperature. The burned food should clean up quickly.

Accumulated grease on cookie sheets: In a GLASS bowl, mix ¼ cup baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a thick paste. Smear mixture on cookie sheet and scrub with small, circular motions, pressing firmly. Rinse and repeat until cookie sheet is clean and shiny. Wash sheet with soapy water and rinse well before using. Don't get the cleaning mixture on your clothes. It could remove the color from fabric.

For sluggish drains: Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup of white vinegar. Cover and let bubble for a few minutes. Then flush with a couple quarts of boiling water.

To freshen up your garbage disposal: Run water into drain, full hot. Turn on garbage disposal and pour in about a tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Let water and disposal run until the suds are rinsed away. Or grind up slices of lime or lemon peels while flooding the drain with hot water.

For a stale-smelling microwave: Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave until the mixture boils. The steam given off will cling to the walls. Wipe down for a fresh, clean microwave.

Coffee-maker Maintenance: Mix 2 cups white vinegar with 2 cups water in the coffee pot. Pour into the water reservoir and press the "brew" button. The vinegar mixture will remove the mineral deposits from the heating element. You might even see bits of it in the "brewed" mixture. If you do, mix a new batch of vinegar/water solution and brew again. Brew plain water several times to rinse the inside of the coffee-maker.

Wood Floor Cleaner: An 85-year-old friend recommended white vinegar to keep wood floors sparkling clean. Add 1 cup vinegar to a gallon of warm water and sponge mop.

Narrow-necked Vases: If you can't get your hand down the neck of your flower vases, use Alka-Seltzer. Fill the vase half full with water. Drop in 2 Alka-Seltzer tablets and let the fizz do the dirty work for you.

Range Hood Filters: Once a month or so, soak hood filters in hot, hot soapy water. Rinse before replacing. This will keep them grease-free and in good working order.  

Clean Cutting Boards: For wood cutting boards, sprinkle with course salt and rub with ½ a lemon. Plastic cutting boards can be run through the dishwasher. Once a month or so, soak plastic cutting boards in a mild bleach solution (2 tablespoons bleach to 2 quarts of water).

Garbage Can: At least once a week, wipe the inside and outside of the can with a soap solution (1 teaspoon dish soap to 1 quart warm water). This will get rid of any lingering odors.

I'm always looking for tips to make cleaning faster and easier. What tips do you have to offer?

Learn about what might be lurking in your cleaning supply closet here: What's Hiding in Your Cleaning Products at MilaKunst.com.

Starlight Cupcakes to the Rescue! #Recipe for #Foodies

I’m waiting for spring. I’m impatient. I need a reason to smile. What’s a woman to do?

Bake cupcakes! Yes! One of my favorite recipes for cupcakes comes from my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook. I have the one I was given as a gift when I married my husband. I also have my grandmother’s Betty Crocker Cookbook which has her notes and hand-written recipes tucked inside. It’s a treasure!

Starlight Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk (substitute almond milk, if you wish)
2 teaspoons vanilla (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon)

1.     Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until ingredients are well incorporated.
2.     Add flour, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla. Stir just until batter comes together and no flour is visible. (Too much mixing at this stage will develop the gluten in the flour and make the cupcakes tough.)
3.     Line 36 medium, greased muffin cups with cupcake liners. Fill each liner half full with batter. Bake in a pre-heated 350º F oven until golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 18 min. Allow cupcakes to cool to room temperature.

I like my cupcakes sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, but you can use a tub of any flavored frosting you like. Enjoy!

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As you can imagine, I’ve been antsy lately. So I took on the task of creating a new cover for my book TAKING LOVE IN STRIDE. Here’s what I came up with. What do you think? The story is about a stiletto-loving school teacher who gets into a battle of wills with a do-it-my-way businessman. It’s a fun, sweet contemporary romance.

Hurry, Spring! Hurry!

Reaching Out To My Readers - @DonnaFaz #Quotes

I haven't reached out to my blog followers for a whole month! I can't believe it. Time just seems to slip through my fingers. 

My family experienced a tragedy recently; my brother-in-law passed away due to complications from pneumonia. He was young, just 59 years old, and he left behind two beautiful children. It's very sad. 

We never know what tomorrow will bring. I want you to know I appreciate you. I wish you happiness, love, and peace.

A request: If you have read and enjoyed my latest book, Second Chance Valentine (available for Kindle and in paperback), I would love for you to leave a review. The publishing date was February 1st and the book has sold around 100 copies, but it doesn't have any reviews yet. Could you help? :) It would mean a lot to me. Thank you!

Second Chance Valentine, Book 7 of the Ocean City Boardwalk Series

New Release!

Book 7 of the Ocean City Boardwalk is now available!

Years ago, Josie and Alex met under golden sunshine, frolicked in the surf and sand, and fell head over toes in love. But circumstances arose that ruined their one glorious summer, and Josie fled Ocean City with a broken heart.

Now Josie’s grandmother is ill and needs help with the family business, a thriving harbor-side diner called Joe’s Place. So after more than a dozen years, Josie returns to her hometown only to discover she has a 180 pound problem—Alex is the Kitchen Commander at Joe’s Place. Surely, Josie can work with Alex to keep the diner going and retain her dignity until her grandmother is back on her feet. However, when Alex’s little girl starts scheming, not a single heart will be safe against the twelve-year-old matchmaker.

This book is available in the boxed set called Unforgettable Valentine. So why would you buy this version of the book, also? Well, because this version of Second Chance Valentine contains bonus recipes from Joe’s Place! Two different chili recipes. Jalapeño Cornbread. The Joe’s Place Thursday Night Special: Meatloaf and Sour Cream Bashed Potatoes. Breakfast Casserole. Deloris Baxter’s French Toast. Lemon Queen Pie and Rich Chocolate Pecan Bars. These recipes are well worth the extra $0.99 you’ll spend to buy this book!

Find Second Chance Valentine:

Look for other titles in the Ocean City Boardwalk Series:

Cleaning! Ugh! Here's a Helpful Tip #Housecleaning

A clean house. Everyone would love to have one; we just don’t want to be the one who’s doing the chores. I’m just finishing up a new story, and during the final days and weeks of intense focus on getting to The End, I rarely do anything besides write, eat, sleep, repeat. My house grows dusty and grimy. There will be cleaning in my immediate future! If you’re anything like me (an avoider of cleaning until it can be no longer avoided), then here’s a helpful tip that will make any major cleaning job easier.

I saw a post by a friend recently who gave a recipe for an effective cleaning solution that powered through the gray grime in the bottom of her tub. She used a 50/50 solution of blue Dawn dish detergent and white vinegar. She said she saw somewhere that the dish detergent must be the blue Dawn (although, there was no reason given as to why). She mixed the solution and poured the concoction on the bottom of the tub, let it sit overnight, and then used a Mr. Clean Eraser to scour the tub. Here are before and after pictures. The tub looks sparkly clean!

Warning! Mr. Clean Erasers should not be used on resurfaced porcelain. I had one of my bathtubs resurfaced and the installer said Mr. Clean Erasers are a no-no. If you've had your tub resurfaced call the installer and ask if this cleaner is safe to use.

Have you tried this blue Dawn and vinegar solution? If so, how did it work for you? Do you have any tips, tricks, or miracle cures for keeping your house clean? Let’s share and help each other make housecleaning a little easier. 

New Year - Big Dreams

For me, each New Year encourages me to contemplate. January offers a chance for a fresh, new start, an opportunity for change. Is it just me, or do you feel it too?

Although I’m not one to make resolutions, I do think about the year that has passed—what worked well and what did not. And I set some goals for the coming months. Over the first few days of 2018, I’m finding myself pondering less about what to do and more about how to be.

I want to be kinder and gentler towards myself and others. I want to smile more and argue less. I want peace, inside and out. I want peace not just for myself, but for everyone in the country, on the planet. I have no idea how to achieve it; I only know I want it.

Here are a few more desires that I have no idea how to make happen:

I want every hungry child to be fed.

I want every lonely person to feel loved.

I want war, in all its forms, to end.

I want every mother and father to know their children are safe.

I want a cure for every disease.

Now, let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Yes, I’m grinning at the silly notion that these things could ever come to pass. But that doesn’t keep me from dreaming that someday the world really could be a better place, a place where people respect and take care of each other, where people are placed above greed and profits, where every single person truly matters.

Please know that you matter to me. And I wish you peace in the New Year.

#99cent Sale! Save $4 on FINDING FIONA for Kindle Nook Kobo iBooks and Google

Save $4 – On Sale For 99¢

If her husband turns up alive—she'll kill him!

Explaining to the seriously sexy cop why she hasn't noticed her husband has been missing for three days is both embarrassing and sobering. But the day Fiona Rowland lifts her head above the churning chaos of kids, carpools, and a million things to do, annoyance turns to fury... then to worry. Where is Stanley?

Having one of those wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moments changes the way a woman looks at things: marriage, money, family, and friends. And when her best pal from high school arrives (packing her own secrets) to lend support, it turns out even the past isn't quite what it seems. Scrambling to make sense of the drama unfolding, Fiona discovers there's an upside to having your whole world turned upside down. It's easier to grab the good stuff.

A delightful mixture of women’s fiction, chick-lit, romantic comedy, and mystery, Finding Fiona has something for every reader. The discussion questions included at the back of the book make this the perfect novel for book clubs and reader groups.

“Loved the story, the genuine feel of it, and the diverse women and their friendship, trust issues, forgiveness question. Very real. Lovely character journey. Clearly, this writer is writing from her heart.”

“There is angst, mystery, romance, betrayal and upheaval in the lives of the characters...but they somehow emerge from the trial better for it.”

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