How to Have a BLAST on Your Next Snow Day

Are you dreading the next snow day?  Don’t want your kids to be cooped up in the house all day with nothing to do?  Here are 4 tips that will help you and your family have a blast on your next snow day and make great memories!

Bundle Upwinter boots snow

Go outside and play in the snow!  You’ll make great memories with your kids and wear them out in the process.  Need more ideas of things to do outside?  Blow bubbles and watch them freeze if the temperature is under 32°!  Whip up some snow paint with just water, food coloring (or Kool Aid), and squirt bottles.


Burn It Off!

kids laser beam obstacle course

Laser Beam Obstacle Course

If your kids aren’t worn out after playing in the snow, choose one of these awesome games to get them moving indoors.  First, grab an over-sized t-shirt for each child to wear, and stuff pillows inside.  Then clear out some space in your living room, and let them sumo wrestle!  Looking for an activity to do in a more contained space?  Make a laser beam obstacle course with your kids in a hallway and then watch in amazement how many times they’ll go through it!  Use painter’s tape, crepe paper or yarn and masking tape for easy clean-up.

 

Crafting FTW 

paper snow flake

Lisa Griffith’s 3-D Snowflake Tutorial

Need to do something a little quieter in the house?  3-D Snowflakes keep kids busy for ages, and older kids can do this craft by themselves after you show them how to do the first section of the snowflake.  If your kids enjoy science-themed activities, try making Borax Crystal Snowflakes with pipe cleaners!  Simply dissolve Borax in water and let the snowflake-shaped pipe cleaners sit in the Borax solution overnight.  The next morning, they’ll be amazed at the crystals that formed and can play with their creation without it breaking!


Sweet Break

white blue hot chocolate

Elsa White Chocolate from Baking Beauty

Don’t forget to take a time out from your day to enjoy a sweet treat!  After all, a snow day is the perfect (and, really, the only) time to make Snow Ice Cream.  Make this dessert by mixing together milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, and, of course, lots of clean snow.  Want something to warm you up instead?  Check out this easy recipe for Elsa-inspired White Hot Chocolate that just calls for milk, white chocolate chips, vanilla and blue food coloring.  Don’t forget to add Bailey’s in mom or dad’s hot chocolate or snow cream to take it to the next level! ;-)

Want to really get prepared for more snow days?  Check out this link with tips on how to make your own snow day box!   See our other blog post with even more tips on how to have a fun-filled, family snow day!

Prepping your Home for Snow + Free Checklist!

prepping for snow checklist

In North Carolina, we never know what to expect from the weather, especially in the winter!  Some years we have lots of snow and ice and power outages, and during other years we barely have a snowflake.  Whatever comes our way, it’s good to be prepared!  Scroll to the bottom of this post for the link to a Winter Home Maintenance Checklist to get your home ready for snow and ice.

Serious Snow Prepping
snow-shovel

Worried about possibly being without power for a few days if a snow or ice storm hits?  Buy gas heater or generator and have everything on hand and set up in advance.  Make sure that you have a thorough knowledge of safety hazards around a gas heater as it can be a serious fire hazard if used incorrectly.  Never leave a gas heater unattended, and keep it clear of any fire hazards, such as curtains and blankets.  Wouldn’t it be awful to think that you’ll have power in an emergency and spend time and money setting up a generator, only to not have it work?  If you have never had a generator set up before, have an electrician come to your home ahead of time to set it up so that you know that it is functioning correctly.


During the Snow Storm
winter-boots

If your car is parked outside, do yourself a favor and put your windshield wipers up and cover with old tube socks.  This prevents your wipers from sticking to your windshield and saves them from the ice and snow.  If temperatures drop below 25 degrees F, turn your faucets to just a drip so that your pipes don’t freeze.  If your pipes freeze in the winter, wrap your pipes in newspaper, towels or rags as needed.  Then warm them with a hair dryer if they freeze.

Make sure that you have charged electronics as needed if there is a threat of snow or ice before there is a power outage.  If you lose power, unplug important electrical equipment to avoid ruining it in a power surge when power is restored.

Click here to download the FREE Winter Home Maintenance Checklist!

Hopefully, we’ll have safe and happy snow days this year, and with these tips, you’re sure to have a peaceful rather than stressed snow day! 

Inclement Weather Policy

snow car door window

So far our winter has been pretty mild, but in North Carolina, the storm this past weekend shows that can change at any moment! Whatever comes for the rest of the season, it’s good to be prepared.

Safety is our number one priority!  Please be familiar with our policy during inclement weather.  We will work hard to accommodate each of our clients’ needs while also making sure our crews are not out in dangerous conditions.

During a normal workweek, Carpe Diem Cleaning follows the local public school systems to determine our hours of operations in the event of dangerous inclement weather conditions.  School system closures are determined by the safety of bus routes.  This provides a good indicator for both the safety of our crews coming to work from their own homes, as well as the safety of the routes to our clients’ homes.

Since our office and operations are based out of Durham, we follow the Durham County schools for closings or delays.  However, our route schedules into specific cities will follow the local schools for their respective counties (Wake and Orange).  For example, if Durham schools are open, but Orange County schools are closed, the Carpe Diem office will be open however we will not service homes in Orange County that day.  (As an alternative example, if Orange County schools are open, but Durham schools are closed, our office will be closed with the Durham schools and will not be in operation in any county that day).

If Carpe Diem is delayed for the day, your cleaning team will likely arrive in a different time window than normal or could possibly be switched to another day.  If your cleaning is switched to another day, we will contact you as soon as possible; otherwise expect the crew on a delayed schedule that same day. Please contact us that morning if this is a problem or if you have an urgent scheduling need.

InclementRoadIn the event of a closing or delay, our office will quickly respond to all email and phone communication as soon as we are able. If you have any questions regarding how we handle scheduling during inclement weather, please feel free to contact us at any time. While safety concerns can necessitate schedule changes in dangerous weather conditions, we will work very hard to accommodate each client’s scheduling priorities once we are back in operation!

You can also “Like” our Facebook page where we’ll be posting information about delays and closings. 

Achieving your Goals in 2017

Want to accomplish some big things in 2017, but not sure where to start? Look no further! In this month’s post, Wendy Clark (Carpe Diem founder and CEO) shares her secrets to success.  These five steps helped Wendy take Carpe Diem from a one-woman startup to the largest residential cleaning company in the Triangle.

1) Write Down Your Goals

writing down goals

Write down your goals

The most fundamental piece of my life-approach is setting goals. At the end of every year I take time to listen to what I am being called to do and plan out what I’ll be working on in the coming year. I purposefully take time to think, and I write it down. These are two standard, no-brainer things that anyone can tell you. Take the time to think and to write down your thoughts/ideas/goals. Make this a priority. Your life is too busy to not do this.

There’s definitely something to be said for writing your goals down, even if it’s just in the form of minimal sentences. Some people write down lots of details concerning their goals. I, on the other hand, am not detail-oriented and stick to writing down the basic thoughts.

Goals can take many forms. I might write down “I would like to sell 30 units of X”, or “I would like to create an entrepreneurial curriculum.” Or, I might make a list of key relationships that I want to focus on this year. Your goals may look very different, but the important thing is to write them down. I hand write my goals using pen and paper. It might be more your style to record them electronically, though. Also, have a special place where you write down your goals. I have two pages of my planner that are devoted to my goals. There’s no use in writing down a goal on a sticky note if you’re just going to lose it!

2) Budget Time

Goal setting and budgeting time go hand in hand. Once you have decided on your goals, intentionally budgeting your time will enable you to achieve those goals. As I’m planning for the year I take a look at the calendar and think about what my annual “rocks” are. (If you’re not familiar with Stephen Covey’s time management illustration, watch this video. It’s is really powerful to see it unfold.) I take the time to prioritize my rocks for the year, for each month, and for each week. I plan my written To Do lists out according to the week, whereas other people operate on a daily basis. Every week I assemble my list so that on Monday I know what I will accomplish during the week.  [Read more…]

Post-Holiday Carpet Cleaning + Inclement Weather Policy

Many thanks to all our amazing clients, friends, fans, and family for an incredible 2016! We couldn’t do this without you! We are so excited for all that 2017 holds! 

Post Holiday Carpet CleaningCarpet Stain

Congratulations – you’ve survived the holidays! …But did your carpets? The holidays are a major source of activity in your home, often bringing extra foot traffic and brightly colored food and beverages.

The parties are over and the guests are gone – now is the perfect time to have your carpets steam cleaned! We’ll take care of any unfortunate party-induced stains your carpet may have suffered over the holidays, leaving it clean and fresh for the New Year. We even clean upholstery! Go ahead and download our Carpet Cleaning Checklist to get things started.

You can give us a call 919-682-5326, or shoot us an email info@carpediemcleaning.com to schedule your carpet cleaning today!

Inclement Weather PolicyInclementRoad

So far our winter has been pretty mild, but in North Carolina, that can change at any moment! Whatever comes, it’s good to be prepared.

Here’s a quick summary of our Inclement Weather Policy:

In the event of inclement weather, our Main Office and Southpoint Office will follow the Durham county schools for closings and delays, and our Cary-Apex office will follow the Wake County school system. School system closures are determined by the safety of bus routes. This provides a good indicator to us for both the safety of our crews coming to work from their own homes, as well as the safety of the routes to our clients’ homes.

Our route schedules will also follow the local schools for whatever county they are in. For example, if Durham schools are open but Orange County schools are closed, the Carpe Diem office in Durham will be open, but we will not be servicing homes in Orange County.

For a complete explanation of our Inclement Weather Policy, you can refer to our blog post.

You can also “Like” our Facebook page where we’ll be posting information about delays and closings. 

QUICK LINKS TO CHECK OUT

Last-Minute Neighbor Gift Ideas

Looking for some easy, no bake, last-minute gifts for neighbors, teachers, mail-carriers or friends?  Look no further!  Here are the top ideas for gifts that you can whip together in no time.

Easy Does It!

Here are some super simple gift ideas that you can simplify even further.  Don’t have time to make tags for the reindeer noses?  Leave them out altogether!  Want to skip the sprinkles in the Christmas Crack Chex Mix?  Do it!

Mason Jar Reindeer Noses

Make these Mason jars of Reindeer Noses with Whoppers and red gumballs for the noses.  Just glue the antlers, googly eyes, and pom pom nose, and you have a cute, delicious present.

Don’t want to make your own gift tags?  These are elegant and simple and will go well with many gifts.  This round-up post includes templates for gift tags, gift card holders and even winter crafts for the kiddos in your life!

Sweet & Salty Treats

Christmas Crack Chex Mix - sweet and salty with a touch of peppermint!

Christmas Crack Chex Mix

If your favorite neighbor or teacher likes sweet and salty treats, then we’ve got you covered!  This recipe for Chex Mix Christmas Crack has Bugles, white chocolate, peppermint, and more.  Mix your dry ingredients together first, then coat with melted white chocolate, and let dry.  Break apart and give away in a cute holiday tin!
Love chocolate and pretzels?  Easily make this White Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel recipe by melting white chocolate with a little bit of shortening in a tall glass or container.  Dip the pretzel rods halfway in chocolate, sprinkle your favorite sprinkles on and let dry.
These classic Christmas Pretzel M&M Hugs can be made in 30 minutes or less.  First, line the pretzels on a baking sheet with the Hugs on top of them and bake.  Then put an M&M on top of each Hug and press down.  After they have cooled, put them together in a clear gift bag!

Fudge for All

Easy Salted Caramel Fudge | www.somethingswanky.com

Easy Salted Caramel Fudge

Love to make fudge, but want to give your recipients something they won’t get from anyone else this holiday season?  Try these three easy fudge recipes!

Use sweetened condensed milk to make the base of this easy Salted Caramel Fudge.  Then pour melted chocolate and sprinkle sea salt on top, and you’re done!
Want a holiday variation on an old favorite? Try this Chocolate Peppermint Fudge made with Andes Mint chips, and add sprinkles to take it to the next level.  Ready for something sweet that’s not chocolate?
This non-traditional Gingerbread Fudge will knock your socks off with molasses and seasonal spices.  Bonus points if you use a cookie cutter for that adorable gingerbread shape!

Gifts Ready in 5 Minutes!

Cinnamon Roll Neighbor Gift Idea

Cinnamon Roll Rollin’ Gift Tag

And, last but not least, here are the ultimate easy, last-minute gifts for that person who you almost forgot about…

If you want to give something a little less sugary that still packs an aesthetic punch, make a Clementine Wreath!  Simply lay out 6 to 8 clementines on a piece of cellophane, wrap up, tie together in a circle, and add a gift tag to complete the gift.

Who doesn’t love cinnamon rolls, especially in the winter?! With the cute (& free) printable, you don’t even need to wrap this gift.  Your recipient can enjoy hot cinnamon rolls with minimum effort as a special treat either during the holidays or the first snow of the season.

So which gift (or gifts!) will you give this week?

Tips for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with Kids

Are you traveling to visit loved ones this holiday season with your children in tow?  Traveling with kids can be a daunting task, even for seasoned parents.  Here are some tips to keep the whole family sane and happy at the final destination!

almond snack white bowlPlanning your Travel Time

Pack snacks that you know your family members will enjoy.  Bring some healthy snacks (nuts, fruit squeezers, trail mix) and as well as some treats (cheese crackers, special juice, etc.).
Don’t want to entertain your kids for the.whole.time while traveling on a long road trip or cross-country flight?  Travel while they sleep as much as possible.  If your kids are light sleepers, then this tip is not for you.  However, if your kids are champion sleepers, try it!

 

ipad

During breaks, keep kids active!  Let your kids run around and get their energy out when stopping for food and bathroom breaks during road trips.  On flights where you have assigned seats, wait to board the flight until everyone else has been called.  Why be on the plane with small children 30 to 45 minutes longer than necessary?!  That way, they will be more tired and likely to sleep later on in the trip.

When flying, give toddlers and infants something to drink or suck on during the descent such as a bottle or a pacifier to distract them from their ears popping.  Have a snack, lollipop or gum ready to give to older children.

Use electronics as needed, and know how they affect your children.  Does playing their favorite iPad game wind them up or calm them down?  Do what works for your kids and family!

 

Assign a bag to each childtravel-bag

If you are flying, make sure that each child has their own backpack with their essentials in it.  This will keep them from having to ask mom or dad for anything that they need and will open up more space in your carry-on or personal item as well.   If you are driving, separate bags for activities and snacks ahead of time, so that you can pull out individual bags as needed.  Bring a cookie sheet for younger children to keep coloring books, crayons and small toys from escaping to the floor.

 

What to Keep On-Hand by AgeTraveling Night Road Trip

Infants & Toddlers – diapers, wipes, plastic bag for extra stinky diapers, snacks, 1 to 2 changes of clothes and small toys
Preschool & School-Aged – snacks, change of clothes, I-spy books, sticker books, drawing notebook and small toys, water bottle
Middle & High-Schoolers – water bottle, snacks, travel pillow, Mad-Libs, audio books from Audible or the library, extra charging device for electronics

Don’t forget that the things that go wrong often make the best memories!

Happy Travels!!

 

Fabulous Holiday Dinner Party

It’s that time of year again!  Whether you’re hosting a dinner party for local friends or out of town house guests, here’s a meal plan that will take the stress out of cooking for a crowd.   Having loved ones in your home can be a blast if you plan ahead of time, so check out this easy and delicious meal plan to help you enjoy your guests and not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time!

Starters

Pick up your favorite bottle of wine, or try this 3-ingredient Cranberry Vanilla Mimosa as a fabulous cocktail option!  Looking for a healthy starter? These adorable Cucumber Tomato Santa Hats are made with cucumbers, grape tomatoes and a mixture of Ranch dressing, cream cheese and mayonnaise.  Prep the dressing the day before, and assemble these the day of your party and keep refrigerated until your guests arrive.

 

Want a hot appetizer for your guests? Try heating up Martha Stewart’s Spinach Dip or this delicious Baked Brie Recipe with pita chips or whole-grain crackers.  To make the Baked Brie, spread your favorite jam on top of a wheel of brie. Next, wrap in uncooked crescent rolls, and bake on a pizza stone or baking sheet.  You can even put these appetizers in your toaster oven if you’re running out of oven space.

 

 

The Main Course

Next, chop your Brussel sprouts and prep your roasted thyme carrots to roast in the oven and mix up the seasoning for the pork tenderloin.  Cook the brown rice on the stovetop or rice cooker to go with the dinner.  While the tenderloin is cooking, put the Brussel sprouts and carrots on their respective baking sheets. Then, put them in as soon as the tenderloin finishes cooking.

Then, while the vegetables are roasting, the tenderloin should be able to rest so that the meat stays juicy and moist.  After 5 to 10 minutes, slice the pork tenderloin and dish up the Brussel sprouts and carrots.  Enjoy your easy, fabulous meal with your guests!

 

 

The Grand Finale

Finish the night by celebrating with a satisfying dessert!  Make sure to make dessert the day before your party or earlier that day so that it will be ready when it’s time for dessert.  Serve the simple, yet festive Eggnog Pie or the stunning Chocolate Peppermint Holiday Cake (use meringues from Trader Joe’s or your local grocery store to cut down on the prep time, or leave them out all together!).

 

Enjoy your guests and delicious food this holiday season!

Holiday Closings, Saturday Cleanings + Tipping Guidelines

christmas-tip

Saturday Cleanings & Holiday Closings

Available December 10th & December 17th

Book your Saturday cleanings today to guarantee a clean home for the holidays!

…And don’t forget, we will not be servicing homes on December 26th (Monday) or on January 2nd (Monday). So if your regular cleaning falls on one of these days, be sure to contact us to reschedule.

holidaytipping

Holiday Tipping Unwrapped

During the holidays we always get a lot of questions about tipping. Here’s the scoop on some of your most Frequently Asked Questions!

Q: Should I tip my cleaning team?
A: Tips are not considered mandatory in the house cleaning industry, but are nevertheless an important part of a cleaner’s income. House cleaning is both a personalized service and a physically demanding job, and is just as deserving of a tip as restaurant service or hair styling. Ultimately it is up to the client to decide whether to tip, based on their budget and the quality of the service they are receiving.

Q: Should I tip extra during the holidays?
A: Many clients choose to give a special holiday bonus as a “thank you” to their team, especially if they do not tip regularly during the year.

Q: What is an appropriate amount for a holiday bonus?A: Holiday bonuses typically range between $25-$100 per team member. Clients should take into account the length of time that the team has been cleaning their home and the quality of service that they have received throughout the year.

Q: How can I get a tip to my team?
A: There are a few different ways! If you choose to give a cash tip, be sure to place it in a clearly marked envelope indicating that it is for your team. If you pay for your cleanings by check, you can write a separate check for your tip or add the tip to your regular check and indicate in the memo line that you have added a tip. If you pay by credit card, contact our office and indicate the amount that you would like charged to your card. Team members will receive tips given via check and credit card on their next paycheck.

Q: Due to a schedule change I switched cleaning teams halfway through the year, how should I handle holiday tipping?
A: Please contact our office if you have any questions of this nature (or want more information about your team, such as members’ names and length of time serving your home), our knowledgeable staff will help you to make an informed decision!

Check out these quick holiday articles pine-needles

Hosting For The Holidays & Oven Cleaning

The Kitchen Oven Is Reliable,
But It’s Made Us Lazy.

-Jamie Oliver

Let’s be honest for a moment. Stove cleaning is just one of those household chores that we attempt to avoid as for long as possible. Just the thought of this time consuming domestic punishment will have you adding it to “The List” of things to do when you have free time. Not only is this chore time consuming, but having several layers of baked-on meals, requires you to use elbow grease and patience. Stove cleaning, though tedious, is instrumental to keeping a clean and healthy kitchen. However, there are also a number of dangers involved in the cleaning process.

Cleaning Products

The majority of cleaning products available in your local big b6ox stores contain chemicals that can be harmful if inhaled, ignited, or come into contact with your skin or eyes. Make sure when choosing these products to read the warning labels, and conduct a little research on the active ingredients.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Truth is, many of us stove-users aren’t bluntly ignoring the disaster building up in our ovens. It’s a fact that once that oven door closes, we don’t think about it again until its next use. Which is conveniently as we are pushing in a casserole to serve our family for dinner.

It’s not rocket science to imagine what happens to your stove when you continue to cook at high temperatures with left over cheese last month’s burnt lasagna. The food or grease that has collected in your cooker will often stick to the hot plating, grills and metal trays—continuing to burn. You and your family are now dealing with a smoke-filled kitchen. And if the smoke alone isn’t enough of a nuisance, there’s also the lingering smell and soot!

#ovencleaning #cleaning #SAHM #HomeCleaning #seizetheday

Most phone calls that Fire Departments receive are likely to be kitchen related, as full-blown kitchen fires actually account for more than half of  accidental domestic fires, and the majority of those are cooking related.

Is that Smoke for Dinner?

Firefighters and Fires aren’t the only hazards you have with cooking with a dirty stove. Another consequence is that a stove with sticky buildup will take a crucial toll on the quality of the meals you’re preparing.

Imagine an oven that is full of smoldering oil, charred cookie dough, and burnt french fries. Not a pretty sight! Now imagine how all that build-up can ruin the flavor of your signature dish. Instead of the flavors you love, now there’s a nasty, smoky taste. Not only can this ruin your dinner, but ingesting minute soot particles is not great for your health!

A  Headache-free Solution

Cleaning your stove regularly is essential to your safety, your health, and the quality of the meals you enjoy. But the process of cleaning your oven can feel so labor intensive and time-consuming that it keeps getting pushed off for another day.

When you’ve got a tough job on your hands, sometimes the best thing to do is to call the professionals. If you’ve been putting up with a dirty oven for way too long—give us a call! We’ve been making ovens sparkle for over 20 years, and our skilled staff will have the toughest ovens clean in no time.

Click here to schedule your oven cleaning.

 

 

 

 Durham NC, Cleaning Service, Housekeeper

                                             Wendy Clark

Cleaning it Yourself

Still interested in taking a bat at cleaning your stove yourself?

Carpe Diem Cleaning’s owner Wendy Clark recommends this #GreenCleaning method using environmentally friendly ingredients that can be found in your household.