Monday, November 1, 2010

Done it lately? (November To Do)

 (image via here)

The get-it-done list for November... straight out of the "gentle reminders" section of my 5 years of Martha Stewart Living magazines. Started late? Check out the other months here.
  • Update your address book and holiday mailing list so you won't be dashing around looking for the information when it's time to mail your cards. If you like to send e-mail greetings, make sure your electronic address book is current as well.
  • Have your snow blower serviced. You may need it at a moment's notice in the months to come.
  • Iron table linens a few days in advance to save time on Thanksgiving. Place the smooth cloth and napkins right on the table, or if that's inconvenient, wrap them around cardboard tubes. use a large poster tube or wrapping paper roll for a tablecloth (fold the cloth lengthwise before rolling) and a smaller tube (like the one from paper towels) for napkins. Line up edges as you go, then cover the roll in acid-free tissue.
  • Take stock of spices. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it's time to get your herbs and spices in order. Smell each one, and discard those that no longer have an aroma. And be sure you have essentials such as pumpkin-spice blend, cinnamon, and nutmeg on hand..
  • Before you begin your holiday baking, clean your stand mixer. Wipe the base with a damp cloth. To clean the vent, loosen dust with a toothpick, then vacuum. How you wash the beaters will depend on the material: Stainless steel ones can go in the dishwasher, while those made of plastic-coated aluminum must be hand-washed.
  • Plant pansies in early November and they'll add welcome bursts of color to your garden when spring arrives. Set seedlings four to six inches apart, then cover them with a blanket of mulch (no more than two inches). This will insulate and protect them on even the coldest winter days.
  • Clean your oven in preparation for holiday cooking. Self-cleaning units, which work with very high heat, require little effort. Remove racks before using this setting, and wipe up residue afterward. For conventional ovens, try this: Use aluminum foil to plug holes leading to the broiler. Make a past of 1/4 cup salt, 3/4 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup water. Spread it on dirty areas, avoiding non-enameled parts, and leave overnight. Use a putty knife or a spatula to remove the paste. Then rinse and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Hand-wash racks.
  • Clean out the pantry and the refrigerator. You'll need space to store bulky items, such as large platters and the turkey.
  • Save recyclable plastic containers. They'll be handy when you're distributing leftovers.
  • Fall back. When you set your clocks back for daylight saving time, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries in each. Schedule a fire drill for your family. Also be sure exterior lights are working and no bulbs are burned out. This is important for security - and for greeting your guests on Halloween night.
  • Clean the refrigerator and freezer. Soak removable pieces in warm, slightly soapy water; loosen hardened spills on fixed parts by covering them with a damp sponge or cloth. Don't use bleach or ammonia, as these can damage some materials. To eliminate odors, wipe down all interior surfaces with a baking soda-warm water solution (one or two tablespoons soda per quart of water)

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