Keep Messes to a Minimum

The Great Plate is a great space-saver, serving as an all-in-one plate/cup holder combo. BPA-free, dishwasher/microwave safe, reusable, and recyclable, they come in a variety of colors and are handy anywhere from snacking on the couch or a sleepover party to a cookout or entertaining by the pool. A set of four costs $15 and can be found at greatplate.net.




Study: U.S. Babies Developing Poor Diets Early

A startling new study shows that infants are developing unbalanced eating patterns as early as 9 months of age, and by 12 months they are consuming adult levels of sodium and added sugars.


The study, commissioned by baby food manufacturer Beech-Nut, analyzed 10 years of food and beverage consumption data among U.S. babies from birth to age 2. It also found that as infants are moving from baby food to whole food, they are eating more French fries, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sweets than they are vegetables and whole grains.



A Space-Saving Lunchbox

School’s almost out, but if your child is going to summer camp, your lunch-making duties continue. Space is at a premium in any day camp backpack, which makes the D’Eco Collapsible Lunchbox a great pick. The stylish silicone container collapses to one-third its original size and even comes equipped with a snap-on fork and spoon. decohousewares.com, $14.99




How to Mop Without a Bucket

BY LESLIE REICHERT


I’m always trying to find ways to make cleaning faster and more economical. Time is money in the cleaning industry, so if there’s a faster way to do something, it’s worth its weight in dollars. 


I always insisted on washing floors on my hands and knees; I really thought the only way to get a floor clean was to get down and scrub it. But after years of cleaning floors like this, my knees started to rebel (ceramic tile floors are very hard on knees). I had to find a better way to clean the floors and still have them look like I had been down there scrubbing them the “old fashioned” way.


After a lot of thought and a few failed attempts, I discovered a system that works perfectly for cleaning all types of hard floors. I call it bucket-less mopping. With this system, you don’t use a bucket to wash the floor. Instead, you mix up your cleaner in a spray bottle and the bottle becomes your bucket. You use less water and just a fraction of the cleaner you would normally use in a bucket, and it makes cleaning your kitchen floor a snap.



Here’s how it works:

• Use a 16-ounce spray bottle.


• Put a few drops of your favorite floor cleaner in the bottom of the bottle.


• Add enough water to fill it to the top.


• Insert your spray nozzle into the mixture and shake.


This spray bottle is now your bucket. You have mixed your cleaner to the same water:cleaner ratio as if you were using a 2 gallon bucket. It’s amazing how much water and cleaner you are saving.


And here’s the bigger secret: Purchase a microfiber mop with removable/washable mop heads. These mop heads will clean the floor without spreading dirt. You will need two to three removable mop covers to clean your kitchen floor, depending on the size of your floor. I have an average-size kitchen and I use three covers. I could get away with two, but I like to make sure that the floor is getting really clean, so I change them often while I’m washing it.


Place all the mop head covers in the sink and cover them with plain hot water. Take the first cover and squeeze out all the excess water. You want the mop head to be damp, not wet. Put the damp cover on the end of the mop and start at the farthest corner of the kitchen. Spritz your cleaning mixture onto a small area and then wipe it with the mop. Continue to mop the floor until you feel like the mop head is getting dirty. Remove it from the end of the mop and put it directly into the washing machine.


Grab another clean, damp mop head and place it on the end of the mop. By doing this you are preventing cross contamination. When you rinse your sponge mop in a bucket of dirty water, you are spreading the dirt and germs back onto the floor. Bucket-less mopping prevents cross contamination.


Continue washing the floor in small segments, changing the mop cover whenever you feel it’s necessary. The other great thing about this system is that the floor will dry very quickly, so you will be able to walk on it right away. This system is also great for hard wood floors since you are only using a damp cover. It’s perfect because you are only using a little bit of water, which won’t damage the wood floor.


Give my bucket-less mopping system a try. You will be amazed at how easy it is to wash your floors. It may be so easy that you’ll try doing it more often! You can see a video of how to do this, as well as get more information about mops and covers, at greencleaningcoach.com.




The Coolest Water Bottle You’ve Ever Seen

Do you need another water bottle? No. 


Do you need the Aquabot so you can spray your unsuspecting kids? Yes!


Lunatec Gear’s Aquabot water bottle top turns an ordinary water bottle into a mister or, better yet, a water gun that can spray a stream of water up to 25 feet. You can buy the top and a bottle, or just the top, which fits Nalgene and Camelbak wide-mouth bottles.


Parents (and kids) can also drink from the bottle, or with a simple nozzle adjustment, cool themselves off with a fine mist. And in addition to its water-gun abilities, the stream function offers enough pressure to clean off dishes or gear if you’re camping or at the beach. lunatecgear.com, $26.50



A New Take on Coleslaw

Culinary educators Paulding & Company (pauldingandco.com) share this new way to craft a beloved summer staple.


Coleslaw


Yield: about 3 cups, for 6 servings.


Ingredients


• 2 Tbs. cider vinegar


• 1 Tbs. sugar or to taste


• 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard


• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


• 1/4 cup mayonnaise


• 4 cups shredded green cabbage, about ½ of a large cabbage


• 1 carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a cheese grater


Directions


Combine vinegar, sugar, Dijon, salt & pepper. Stir in mayonnaise. Add cabbage and carrots, allow to marinate together 1 hour or longer in the refrigerator. May be kept for a week without loss of quality.