Hive Houseplant Tips & Tricks

 
Photo c/o Bh&g

Photo c/o Bh&g

Maybe your thumb isn’t as green as you thought… or maybe you just don’t think houseplants are for you because you don’t have time to tend to them - either way, we understand how time consuming caring for houseplants may seem. We’ve sourced some of our favorite (and unconventional) ways to keep them happy!

  • Tight conditions: It’s instinct to want to repot when the roots start getting cramped, but some plants prefer those cozy conditions. In fact, transplanting can even kill a fragile plant like an African violet or Boston fern. Other plants, like the peace lily and Christmas cactus, actually need to become a little root-bound in order to produce blooms.

  • Ice cubes: Here’s a hack for those who forget to water (or tend to overwater) their plants - ice cubes! Ice melts slowly, so plants that don't do well in soggy conditions have time to absorb the water. Hydrating with ice cubes also helps prevent spillage when watering hanging plants or pots sitting on high shelves. To use this technique, just place a few cubes around the top of the soil. Once the cubes have melted, stick your finger into the dirt to feel if it’s moist. If it still feels dry, you will need to add a few more cubes.

  • Fridge: Excited to get gardening? Before you do, check the information on your seed packet to see if the seeds require stratification. This process mimics the chilling seeds would have gone through had they fallen outdoors and endured the winter. Place the seeds on a damp paper towel, then slide the towel into a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge. The information on the seed packet should state how long the seeds need to kept cold; the period could be anywhere from one to three months. If, however, the seeds start to sprout, remove them immediately.

  • Green tea: Acid-loving plants simply love a cup of green tea. Tea leaves raise the acidity in the soil and provide other nutrients. Pour cooled, steeped tea into a the soil as if you were watering the plant, or just add spent tea leaves to the soil.

  • Sparkling water: Did that club soda go flat in the fridge? Rather than pouring it down the drain, use it to water your houseplants. According to a study from the University of Colorado at Boulder, sparkling waters are full of nutrients—magnesium, calcium, and potassium, to name a few—that make plants grow faster and greener. Just make sure the water's not flavored or sweetened!

  • Mayonnaise: Yes, even houseplants need cleaning! But it's good for your health as well as the health of the plant. When you clean dust from your plant's leaves, you're removing allergens from your home and making it easier for the leaves to soak in the nourishing rays of the sun. To restore shine to a broad-leafed plant, dip a cloth in a bit of mayo and wipe it across the leaves—the oil from the condiment makes the leaves glisten.

  • A bath: Another way to clean your plants? Give them an occasional shower! Rinsing the entire plant under the shower head removes dust and eliminates the risk of insect infestation. Place your plants in the shower, then let cool (neither hot nor cold) water fall on them until the water soaks through to the roots. If you prefer, you can put your plants outside and spray them with a hose. Keep in mind that not all plants benefit from this spa treatment. Plants that do not respond well to getting their leaves wet (for example, African violets) or plants that are too easily overwatered (such as succulents) should never be placed in the shower.

  • Coffee: Houseplants run on coffee—just not brewed coffee. You can work fresh coffee grounds (used coffee grounds lose their acidity) into the soil to raise the acid level. But before you try to ameliorate your soil, make sure your plants actually like acidic soil. Every plant needs slightly different conditions, so it pays to do some research before you try anything new.

  • Lemons: Another way to increase soil acidity is to pour a tiny amount of lemon juice into the soil. Remember that a little lemon juice goes a long way. Avoid getting it on the plant leaves because it can burn them, or even kill the plant. For acid-loving plants, here's a neat trick for starting seeds: Fill half of a juiced lemon with soil, and add the seed. Once it germinates, you can plant the whole citrus pod into a pot or the ground.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is not just good for disinfecting scrapes and cuts, it’s super helpful for gardening too. Mix it with water in a spray bottle, then you can spritz it to boost plant growth, prevent root rot, and kill fungus.

  • Bananas: Place banana peels on top of the soil give your houseplant a boost of potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium as the peel slowly decomposes. Just be warned that while plants love banana peels, so do fruit flies and gnats. If you're not sure what nutrients your plant's soil is lacking, perform a soil test, or learn to read your plant's leaves, stems, or posture to identify the signs of certain deficiencies.

 

Hive Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

There’s a reason “Spring Cleaning” is the namesake of this season. With slightly warmer temps and the first glimpses of longer days, spring home maintenance is primarily about cleaning up after the mess or damage inflicted by a long, cold winter.

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SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST:

  • Clean the gutters and, using a water hose, make sure that they drain.

  • Check the exterior siding for damage, repair as needed.

  • When the roof is dry and safe to walk on, check shingles, flashing, and vents for damage.

  • Clean window screens.

  • Trim back trees that may deposit branches on your home. For branches near power lines, call your electric company for pruning.

  • In late spring, re-install window unit air conditioners you took out in the fall.

  • Reverse ceiling fans so that the blades rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. This will move air downward, cooling the room.

Hive Helper is a great resource when it comes to preparing your home inside and out for all seasons.

email us today or book your recurring seRVICE through our website!

How To: Raised Garden Bed

 

With spring just at our fingertips, it's time to start fantasizing about all the wonderful things that come with the season ahead. While we're looking forward to longer days and warmer weather, it's getting our hands dirty in the garden that we're most excited about. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice, planting in a raised bed is a great way to get growing.

 
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Know the Benefits

Aside from looking cute, raised beds allow you to use a custom, nutrient-rich soil of your choice instead of relying on the soil in your yard. They also improve drainage and decrease your chance of pesky weeds and pests. If you're a city dweller lucky enough to have to outdoor space, you'll be glad to hear that raised beds work on hard surfaces. They also allow for maximum use of minimal space.

 

What to Grow

Almost anything you grow in regular ground-level soil—herbs, vegetables, flowers, natives, and smaller perennials—can be grown in a raised bed.


Pick Your Dimensions

You can choose your dimensions based on your space, but the typical recommended size is at least 8-12” above soil level (some of the bed will be below soil level) and no longer than 3-4’ wide.

 

Go Local

Make sure to use untreated wood, preferably from a local lumber yard so you trust the sourcing and know it will be safe for your veggies and herbs!

 

Select Your Soil

The type of soil you use depends on what you are growing. Most vegetable gardeners will use a mix of a good quality compost blended with topsoil or potting soil. Never use just potting soil. Season to season, you can adjust by adding and subtracting different soils and see what works, but adding a topdressing of compost seasonally to bring up the soil levels and inoculate the bed with more microorganisms and nutrients is a good rule of thumb.

 

Add Plants

Since everything is concentrated in a smaller area, you'll want to plant your plants a little closer together than you would if they were going directly in the earth. Think about placement intuitively: Put crops you need more access to on the sides and ones that take longer to harvest in the middle. What is less obvious is figuring out which plants are friends and which are not (some plants thrive next to others, and vice versa!). Once you have your beds mapped, you tend to your plants the same way you would wherever you plant them.


This article was posted originally on Martha Stewart

Recipe: Swedish Doughnuts

 

A doughnut recipe fit for the weekend — might we suggest enjoying them knowing your to-do list is completely CHECKED OFF, thanks to your Hive Helpers!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 C sugar

  • 2 C cold mashed potatoes (mashed with milk and butter)

  • 3/4 C buttermilk

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

  • 4-1/2 C all-purpose flour

  • 4 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

  • Oil for deep-fat frying

  • Additional sugar, optional

Directions

  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add the potatoes, buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and ginger; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. doughnut cutter. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°.

  • Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Roll warm doughnuts in sugar if desired.

Communicating with your Helper

Hive Helper sets itself apart from other task services in that we want you to feel comfortable communicating any needs with our Helpers! We’re here to make your life easier, after all.

Below are some tips to best communicate your every need and want with your Helper to ensure a 10/10 experience, every time!


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  • Be detailed about what you are expecting from your visit

    • We agree, our Helpers are pretty darn great, but, they can’t read minds - so please, don’t feel shy about voicing your needs when it comes to your service!

    • Every house is different, every appointment is unique - telling us exactly what needs some extra elbow grease will leave you happier and us with more time to do our jobs.

  • Ask us about what products we use and what you’d like to see us use

    • Have a particular allergy? Let us know.

    • Prefer all organic cleaning products? No problem!

    • Get specific, it helps us do our job better.

  • Create a checklist

    • If you’re worried about certain areas being skimmed over, or just want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth (we get it!), leave us a checklist of what you’d like to see addressed first during your visit.

    • Be sure to put your checklist in order of priority! We only have so much time in each appointment and we want to make sure your more important issues are given adequate attention!

  • Review our terms of service

    • Were you expecting something different than you received? Get clear on the service you are scheduling and ask any questions ahead of time to avoid miscommunication or confusion!

  • Make a request

    • Need that wobbly ceiling fan switched out during your next cleaning? No job is too wild for our Helpers - we work with a handful of trusted, local, professionals to help us check off every task on your list. Inquire about pricing and scheduling before your next appointment.

  • Know where to go for help

    • We are very active across all points of social media, but email is our preferred method of contact! When you’ve been assigned to a Helper for recurring services, we will put you in direct contact with your Helper so you may reach out to them ahead of your appointment with any questions, requests, etc.



Above all, we are so lucky to be a small part of your Hive!

Inquire about recurring services, service add-ons, and more through our website!

 

How To: Clean a Washing Machine

Photo by brit + co, article by bh&g

Photo by brit + co, article by bh&g

When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine? It may sound odd to clean a machine that's built to clean things, but washing machines can be really (really) gross. One study found that bacteria like salmonella and E. coli is often present in washing machines—and can leech onto what you think are your freshly-washed clothes. Read on for a quick how-to!

Step 1: Run a Hot Cycle with Vinegar

Run an empty, regular cycle on hot, using two cups of vinegar instead of detergent. White vinegar will not damage clothes. The hot water-vinegar combo removes and prevents bacteria growth. Vinegar can also act as a deodorizer and will cut through mildew odors.

Step 2: Scrub the Inside and Outside

In a bucket or nearby sink, mix about ¼ cup vinegar with a quart of warm water. Use this mixture, plus a sponge and dedicated toothbrush, to clean the inside of the machine. Pay special attention to soap and other dispensers, the inside of the door, and, if you have a front-loading washing machine, the rubber seal. (If your soap dispenser is removable, soak it in the vinegar water before scrubbing.) Give the machine's exterior a quick wipe down, too.

Step 3: Run a Hot Cycle

Run one more empty, regular cycle on hot, without detergent or vinegar. You should clean your washer every six months to prevent bacteria and mineral build up, and to make sure your clothes are actually clean when they come out of the washer.

How To: Clean a Dishwasher

If your dishwasher is leaving dishes looking less than sparkly or smells a little funky - this quick method for cleaning one of the hardest-working appliances in your home is for you!

With hot, soapy water running through its system multiple times a week, it’s easy to forget that a dishwasher has one of the dirtiest jobs. Knowing how to clean a dishwasher will not only keep it operating efficiently, but it will prevent the spread of bacteria, fungus, and odors.

Despite how well you rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, it’s only a matter of time before food particles, grease, and soap scum begin to build up inside.

Learning how to clean a dishwasher can save you from expensive repairs down the line and even extend the life of this handy appliance.


Article & image Originally posted on Realsimple.com

Article & image Originally posted on Realsimple.com

What You'll Need

  • Dishcloth

  • Dishwasher soap

  • 8 oz white vinegar

Follow These Steps

These steps should be performed at least once a month to keep your dishwasher running smoothly.

  1. Wipe down the interior of your dishwasher using a wet dishcloth to remove any dirt or food particles inside the dishwasher or on the inner part of the door.

  2. Fill the detergent dispenser with dishwasher soap. Turn the cutlery pad over and then run the dishwasher empty. Choose the Self Clean option if available.

  3. To remove white spots and odors, run the Self Clean option with the dishwasher empty and without detergent until it flushes. Then, interrupt the cycle and put a small mug of white vinegar into the lower basket. Close the dishwasher and let the cycle finish. For models without the Self Clean option, the Normal option can be used.

  4. Clean the filters once a month and check the nozzles if you notice a change in washing performance. Use a soft brush and water to remove any trapped particles. When removing and re-installing the filter and nozzle, make sure to refer to the user manual.



Household Items You Should Be Cleaning With Your Iron

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Your trusty iron leads a lonely existence—gathering dust in the closet waiting for a special occasion when a wrinkled shirt might come its way. But the classic appliance has a lot more to offer, if we only realized its true potential. When used on the steam setting, the iron has much more up its very crisp sleeve than the ability to press wrinkles out of a button-up. No ironing board needed!


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Refresh Upholstery for Guests

If you don’t have time to run couch covers or pillow cases through the washing machine, you can always turn to the great refresher - your steam iron. Simply lay them down on a flat surface, adjust the thermostat on the iron to the correct fabric setting and turn the steam button on top to on. Hold the iron about six inches away and press the button to blast the items with steam from the soleplate (make sure your hand is out of the way!). Do gentle passes back and forth to ensure it’s penetrating the fabric. With just a few bursts, they’ll look like new.

Spruce Up Rugs

Steam will breath new life into any fabric that’s feeling a little past its prime, thicker items like throw rugs included. The most obvious difference between an iron and a handheld steamer, is the iron has a thermostat where you can adjust the temperature depending on the fabric, but it also has more power.

Purify Your Pet Beds

Steam irons are not only great for getting rid of wrinkles and refreshing fabrics, they can also help kill bacteria. After a bit of time, a pet bed can get a little funky, but may not be in need of a full wash. A high-powered pass of your steam iron will do the trick!

Get Rid of Germs on Toys

Kids toys are another place where bacteria can accumulate—you can’t think about it too much without getting a case of the icks—but a steam iron can help. It should never replace washing, but a few bursts on teddy bears and other soft toys between laundering, will keep things fresh and as germ-free as possible.

Prep for Dinner Parties 

Most of us have some nice linens and decorations stashed away for holidays and special occasions. And, when we break them out, they usually look the part—like they’ve been stashed away since the last festive gathering. With creases, crinkles and maybe even a faint musty aroma, your table cloths, runners and napkins deserve a pick-me-up before they make their debut.

Break-in Drapes

Getting anything new is a treat, but some items look better after they’ve received a little love. Straight out of the package, curtains are often stiff and full of creases, but running over them a few times with a steam iron will give them a soft worn-in look that’s easier on the eyes. Also, if you’re obsessive about germs, we suggest blasting them with the steam iron every few weeks to get rid of dust, odors or any other bacteria that may have accumulated. Be sure to hold the iron vertical for hanging curtains, and horizontal for anything that’s laying flat.

Get One More Wear

Irons are not only for getting wrinkles out of your clothes, but can also be used to stretch the lifespan of your favorite items between washes. Did you sport a dress to a party during the week and want to wear it again for a date over the weekend (and maybe next week, too)? If it’s seeming a little dodgy, but you don’t feel like or have the time to wash it, just hit it with the steam iron.

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Freshen Up Wool and Cashmere

Steam is also great when you don’t want to put the high temperature of a on delicate items like wool and cashmere sweaters. Hitting them with steam will also prolong the time before you need to go to the cleaner or hand wash. It will also take out any creases from sitting folded up in your closet. Just hang the sweater and burst it evenly with steam, then very gently pull the bottom of the fabric. The steam will loosen the fabric and penetrate through the wool or cashmere to get rid of any creases and refresh odors.


Article originally posted by Megan Cahn on marthastewart.com. Images used property of Shanna Sullivan, Janelle Jones, Lucy Schaeffer.

Scrumptious Smoked Trout Latkes

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Dish up a festive favourite tonight with this recipe for golden potato pancakes, topped with smoked trout, sour cream, and dill.


Ingredients:

  • 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • Fresh pepper

  • Canola oil

  • 200-g pkg hot-smoked trout

  • Sour cream

  • Fresh dill for garnish


Directions:

  • Grate potatoes using a box grater. Transfer to a clean towel or cheesecloth. Squeeze out liquid to make potatoes as dry as possible. Combine with eggs in a large bowl along with onion, flour and salt. Season with fresh pepper.

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium. Add enough canola oil to reach 1/2 in. up the side of pan.

  • Add heaping tablespoons of latke mixture, 4 at a time, to frying pan, cooking until golden brown, about 3 min per side. Cook in 3 batches, adding more oil as needed, Drain latkes on paper towels, then transfer to a serving platter. Divide hot-smoked trout over latkes, then top with a dollop of sour cream and sprigs of fresh dill.

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments

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Our favorite part about the holidays is the chance to partake in traditions, new & old, with loved ones. One of those tried and true traditions is salt dough ornaments! Read along for a borrowed recipe so simple even Santa’s reindeer could make them!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 c flour

  • 1 c salt

  • 3/4 + c water

 
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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees

  2. Mix flour & salt together

  3. Add water, mix well

  4. If your mixture is still a little dry, add additional water until barely moist

  5. Knead until smooth

  6. Roll out dough to desired thickness

  7. Cut with cookie cutters

  8. Punch a hole to hang/tie with

  9. Bake 20 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet

  10. Flip over and bake 10 additional minutes

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* Baking time will vary based on your cookie cutter size. For smaller, more delicate ornaments, reduce baking time. For large ornaments, increase baking time.

Quick Holiday Mess Clean-Up!

The Holidays are a time full of family, friends, love, laughter, and good food! It’s also a time of high foot-traffic in your home, spilled wine, dropped stuffing on your new rug, etc.

We compiled some of the quickest and fool-proof methods for cleaning these unforeseen hazards - best of all, they are so easy they can be done before the pecan pie is done baking!

Tips c/o This Old House. Photo c/o West Elm

Tips c/o This Old House. Photo c/o West Elm


Greasy Fingerprints on Upholstery

  • Sprinkle the marks with cornstarch to help absorb the grease and lift the stain from the fabric. Leave on for a few minutes, then vacuum it up. Repeat if needed.


Red Wine on Tablecloth

  • Chase it with a splash of white wine while it's still damp to help neutralize the stain, then cover with baking soda and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb the remaining liquid. Rinse over the sink with boiling water.


Oily Spill on Carpet

  • Blast spots left by salad dressing or gravy with shaving cream, working it in with a clean rag or an old toothbrush to help absorb the grease. Once dry, rub with a soft, damp cloth.


Scuffs on Hardwood Floors

  • Scrub out scuffs with a little white (non-whitening) toothpaste and an old toothbrush— the combo works as a gentle abrasive. Wipe up the paste with a damp cloth, then buff the floor to a shine with a tiny bit of olive oil.


HIVE Pets: DIY Personalized Bandana

HIVE Pets: DIY Personalized Bandana

We love our HIVE pets and enjoy showering them with affection, even if they are not always as enthusiastic about it as we are (like when we dress them in tiny bandanas). Here, we’ve shared a DIY bandana for both dogs and cats; with a special adaptation for cats to wear safely using a break-away collar (We wouldn’t trust a cat in a traditional bandana since they are troublemakers and could hurt themselves if it got snagged around their necks.)

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