H&H Home Ec: Grout Cleaner

Can we have a super real, honest (somewhat icky) moment? Because I feel like we’re all friends here, and with your friends, you can share things. Important things. Secret things you don’t want to tell anyone. Like how you had mildew plaguing your upstairs bathroom. */hangs head/* Grout cleaner is a totally acceptable topic between friends, right?

Our master bath in the new (old) house is far down the list for a remodel. We have bigger fish to fry. But because it doesn’t have a fan, it is plagued with mildew. I’d tried several products and just could not seem to scrub the black stuff away. I dread shower time. Enter: Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Spray Cleaner. This spray + a designated cleaning toothbrush is all you need!

H&H Home Ec: Cleaning Grout | Hannah & Husband

We’re big fans of Mrs. Meyers products, but I had no idea the same thing we use on our kitchen countertops could get rid of that horrid black stuff. I sprayed it on, let it sit for a couple minutes, and then scrubbed away. Clean grout achieved!

Whew! I feel better. We’ll keep this just between us 😉

For more Home Ec posts, click here.

Bonus: there’s a 20% off coupon on Amazon for this magic spray right now.

How to Care for Butcher Block Countertops

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

Today we’re going to talk about how to care for butcher block countertops. The main reason for this is because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to care for butcher block countertops. But the real reason is that we’ve been in the new digs for about a week, and I really miss my kitchen. Like OMG with Barbra Streisand singing “The Way We Were” miss my kitchen, you guys.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

There are two parts to caring for butcher block countertops: conditioning the wood and cleaning the wood.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

To Condition:

You’ll need to season the countertops when you first get them–much like you would an iron skillet. This means sealing them with several coats of oil until they are well-conditioned. When the wood is raw it is super thirsty and will soak up several (I believe ours took about five) coats of oil. However, when the wood is conditioned it looks rich and beautiful and drops of water should bead up on the surface.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

Once your counters are seasoned initially, you’ll only need to oil about once every two to three weeks. We alternate between the mineral oil and the oil with beeswax. The beeswax just adds an extra layer of protection. Our brand of choice is Howard but just be sure that whatever oil you choose is food safe.

Generously apply the oil at night, wiping in one direction with an old, clean tshirt. Tshirts work best because they don’t leave any fuzz behind like you’d get with a rag or paper towel. Then, wipe off any excess that’s left in the morning. That’s it!

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

To Clean:

Wood has natural antimicrobial properties so most of the time, I just wipe the counter down with a damp cloth. When you really want to sterilize, I suggest filling a spray bottle with a mixture of 1 part water, 1 part distilled white vinegar, & a few drops tea tree oil. Vinegar is a cleaning agent (& the smell dissipates quickly so no worries!) and the tea tree oil is antibacterial.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

That’s it! Pretty easy, right? Over time, the wood counters will get a couple stains or dings. That’s just the nature of wood. The main thing to remember is that you never want to leave a cold beverage on your butcher block. It will leave behind a ring just like it would on any other piece of wood. But I have to tell you that I loved how much the wood warmed up the kitchen. (Click here to see the before and after pics!) And yes, I have already started doodling plans for the new kitchen! More on that to come.

Clean Out the Fridge Recipe

Clean Out the Fridge Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup | Hannah & Husband

I have this tendency to get really excited at the market about all the pretty vegetables, buy said pretty vegetables, then eat about 2/3 of the pretty vegetables and have this weird assortment of stuff at the end of the week. Thus, my classic clean out the fridge recipe: Butternut Squash Soup.

Start with a simple base, add a couple more items of your choosing, and pick a spice palette. You’ll have a heart-warming bowl of winter goodness in no time that’s perfect for sipping as you binge-watch Netflix. Which, as you can see, we did just the other night…

Clean Out the Fridge Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup | Hannah & Husband

Clean Out the Fridge Recipe
Butternut Squash Soup

The Must-Have List of Ingredients:

one butternut squash (obvi)
1of any onion you have on hand
at least 2 carrots
chicken broth (enough to cover all your veggies, usually about 6 cups)

The Optional List of Additions:
(pick at least 2)

sweet potato


Pick one of the options and spice to taste. Start with a little, but I’m going to say that as a general rule, if you’re using dried spices, you’ll probably be using at least a 12  to 1 teaspoon for a big pot of veggies.

Spices (Option 1)
curry powder

Spices (Option 2)

Spices (Option 3)

If You’d Like a Creamier Soup:

If you want a creamier soup, simply stir in a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream, or heavy whipping cream just before serving. I’d recommend letting your creamy product warm up a bit on the counter as you cook so that it blends better with the hot liquid.

Clean Out the Fridge Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup | Hannah & Husband

Make It:

First things first: You want to chop all ingredients to roughly the same size, and throw them in a heavy bottomed pot.

Next, cover with chicken broth.

Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it’s boiling, turn your heat down to medium low. Let the pot simmer until the veggies are soft. (This can take 30 to 45 minutes depending on how much you have in the pot.)

Add a bit of spice towards the end.

Use an immersion blender to break down your softened vegetables.#

I was once throwing a dinner party and experimenting with soup. I didn’t realize that throwing hot liquid into a blender can be disastrous (not to mention dangerous). The hot liquid exploded all over the walls and cabinets in my kitchen and me. Lesson to be learned: Either cool the soup before using a blender or buy an immersion blender. They’re $30-$40 and worth every penny! 

Taste your soup. Do you need more spice? If so add some now.

If you’re using a cream ingredient, stir it in just before serving and be sure not to leave your pot on the heat.

We always serve this with cheese toast. You should too!


DIY Laundry Detergent

Yes, I know you can find the recipe for DIY Laundry Detergent on any number of natural/hippie/DIY/earth mother sites. So please understand that my intention is not to be redundant. However, I couldn’t resist sharing how a few simple DIYs have so positively affected my own skin.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Hannah & Husband

I have really good skin-it’s combination, free of sun damage, and I’ve never had a lot of acne. But a few years ago, I started getting eczema on my legs. If you’ve ever had it, you know it can be a bit maddening. I thought I’d scratch myself to death, and I had huge red patches all up and down my legs. I’ve used creams from the dermatologist, lotions marked especially for eczema, and natural remedies. But what finally worked? A DIY laundry routine.

Store-bought products full of chemicals I can’t pronounce have all be replaced with simple solutions that *bonus* are a lot cheaper. And, I’m happy to report that in the last month my legs have cleared up! I’m wearing short skirts sans leggings for the first in a couple years.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Hannah & Husband

So here’s our new routine…

DIY Laundry Detergent

1 bar Fels-Naptha
2 cups washing soda
2 cups Borax

Here’s the trick: Grate your bar of Fels-Naptha while sitting in front of your favorite tv show. (Your living room will smell divine!) Then, throw the bowl of grated soap in the food processor. This will break it down so that it won’t clump when you store it. Just remember to let it settle a minute before you take off that processor lid!

Mix all 3 ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

We use 2 Tablespoons per regular load and 3 Tablespoons for a load that’s super dirty.

Removing Stains

Again, there are a ton of fab products out there. Our go-to is Goop. However, we’ve also found that a bar of Fels-Naptha rubbed on the stain with a little water can work wonders!

DIY the Dryer Routine

We’ve found that a combination of dryer balls and homemade dryer sheets does the trick! I covered both of those how-tos for DIY Network’s Made + Remade… 

Click here to see the dryer ball how-to. 

Click here to watch the dryer sheet how-to YouTube. 


DIY Cleaning Recipes

Made + Remade On Location | Hannah & Husband

The Made + Remade crew (& Peter from the Scripps video team) plotting out the awesome. Clockwise from Peter: Michele, Emily, Ellen, and Kelly

Do you remember a few months ago when the Made + Remade crew headed to Asheville? Well, we can finally share the videos we were creating! My series was all about DIY cleaning recipes for everything from homemade dishwasher pellets to nifty ways to remove stains from your carpet.

Above, you’ll find a link to the DIY Cleaning Recipes playlist. You can also click here to watch Ellen’s “Essential Knots to Know” videos or click here to see Emily’s videos on “How to Fold Anything.”

Please take a sec to watch a video or two on YouTube and comment to let us know what you think!

For more great DIY projects, check out the Made + Remade blog on diynetwork.com

The Morning After

The Morning After (the dinner party) | Hannah & Husband

Last night, we threw a little dinner party for a few friends–fried chicken, classic summer-in-the-South fare straight from the garden, cocktails, espresso. Sparkling conversation with good food is the perfect way to spend a Wednesday, don’t you think?

Then, after everyone had gone, we took a little time to clean up the joint. Sure our tummies were full and our heads were a little light, but if there’s one thing that can absolutely ruin a perfect dinner party, it’s the morning after!

So we loaded the dishwasher, changed the tablecloth, and neatly stacked the freshly washed china to dry.

The Morning After (the dinner party) | Hannah & Husband

This morning, we came down to a tidy dining room and then steeped our coffee beside all those clean dishes.

The Morning After (the dinner party) | Hannah & Husband

I think half the battle of having a peaceful home (& mind) is discovering little things like this that set you up for success.

Cleaning Up the House

Who said housework has no glamour? This gal! I’ve gotta tell you–you can streamline, you can organize, but cleaning your house will never be as glamorous as vintage ads make it look. And, trust me I’ve tried. These gals have a serious case of the clean-up crazies!

There are the ladies that look like they sniffed a little too much cleaning product.

The ladies who seem to be a little too excited about their cleaning products or tools. (If you have ever laid down beside your vacuum like the lady in this vintage Hoover ad, please comment below.)

And then, there are just the women that lie to you.

What’s with the crown?! Have you ever gotten a crown, tiara, or sparkly jewelry for doing housework?

(Speaking of crowns & tiaras, we should probably just take a moment and watch this clip. You know you were thinking about it too.)

So back to the story:

This weekend, when the family all went home and the turkey had been packed away, I went to town. You  might call it my own version of cleaning crazy. I like to call it…

I don’t know what it is about this time of year. Maybe it was the fact that we had a crowd for Thanksgiving in our tiny little dining room, and I got closterphobic. Perhaps it’s the fact that the holidays are starting–that special time of year where we put brightly colored, sparkly things on top of our already brightly colored, sparkly stuff. Or maybe (and this is probably the most likely) it was the fact that we had a photographer arrive at our house at 9am yesterday to do a fun photo shoot for HGTV HOME.

The Great Christmas Clean-up of 2013 | Hannah & HusbandThe point of the story is I went crazy. Two trash cans plus the entire bed of Husband’s truck were piled high with stuff we are throwing away. The back of my wagon has been filled with things to take to Goodwill. The pantry has been cleaned, my studio has been cleaned, and we discovered an extra room upstairs. There were clothes I’ve had since middle school, appliances we got for wedding presents that have never been used, and a pile of videos that I assume were there for decoration because we haven’t had a VCR since 2007.

What does this have to do with crazy vintage cleaning ads? Maybe those ladies aren’t so crazy after all. I got a little high with every bag of trash I took out. We pride ourselves on the things we choose to fill our lives with–the books, the music, the well designed coffee grinder. Cleaning will never be glamorous, but it can make you feel awesome. (Maybe not lay-down-with-your-Hoover-awesome, but awesome just the same.)

If you’re buying gifts this holiday season, consider what you already have in your own home. Get rid of some stuff before you bring more in. Give it away, throw it out, sell it to your neighbors. You’ll thank me later.



Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

Someone asked me recently if I could share some ways to make everyday chores like doing the laundry a bit more glamorous. The real answer would be to make yourself a martini and hire a maid. However, a more practical economic answer is this Domestic Wannabe series. So here goes…

Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

Our laundry basics are probably the same as everyone else: I’m a big fan of Tide & Bounce. Now here are a few tricks…

  • Something get extra dirty? Are there stains? Maybe you left something in the washer, and it got a little mildewy? Throw in some Clorox 2.
  • Take a night every 2 weeks to hand wash the big stuff: sweaters, blouses, etc.
  • Washing delicates in the washer? Get yourself a delicates bag.
  • Drying racks are your friend. Dryers are not.

Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

  • Now, and this is very important, I have a stain lifter that will change your life: Goop. I found it when I was in art school. It’s perfect for getting ink stains off your fingers and out of your favorite clothes. When it’s a little stain, we use Oxi Clean. When it’s worse, pull out the big guns.
  • Finally, do a load each day to stay on top of things. Put a load in the washer, pick up a good book, and make yourself a root beer float–you deserve it!

Domestic Wannabe: 5 Essential Cleaning Products


How are you at keeping house? When I was little, watching episodes of Martha Stewart and reading every lifestyle magazine I could get my hands on, I dreamed of what a fabulous housekeeper I’d be. But 6 years into home-ownership, I’ve realized that scrubbing floors and doing the laundry is not nearly as glamorous as I’d thought it would be. Then, last week I was talking with a friend about the guilt that can come along with cleaning (or not cleaning) the house. We both work for one of the top lifestyle brands in the country, and yet our reality is that we don’t scrub our baseboards monthly or even always pick up after ourselves.

So, after getting a few questions on the subject, I thought it was time to get super real on the blog. We’re going to talk about cleaning house–top to bottom. Tips, tricks, and ways to deal with the inevitable guilt that comes from not spending your Saturday scrubbing that bathroom floor by hand like Martha would. For this first post, I thought I’d share the 5 things that are always in my cleaning closet.


Swiffer Sweeper

I feel like Dexter and I shed the equivalent of a small kitten every day so the Swiffer is essentail in our house. It’s not a hassle to deal with like the vacuum so you can do it every day or two and save vacuuming for the weekends. I also use the cloths for dusting the rest of the house.

Castille Soap

This stuff is simply amazing. Add a bit to water and scrub down anything. It’s powerful enough to remove the greasy film that builds up on that wall above the stove, but it’s gentle enough to mop wood floors and bath the dog. I also used it as a face wash for a while. Husband claims I like the peppermint scent because it makes the house smell like Christmas, which I’m sure, on some level, is true.

Cloth Towels & Rags

I went through a phase where I was using paper towels for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Bounty on a weird, I-ONLY-buy-Bounty sort of level, but using paper towels for everything gets expensive and wasteful. So I stocked up on cloth rags and towels and try to use those as much as possible. Just remember to have enough on hand so you can change them out every day or two so germs don’t live in them.

Method Cleaning Products

We’ve been a Method household since college when we attended a lecture by Karim Rashid and learned about Method’s great design & environmental practices. My latest love has been for their furniture polish–it works wonders on our antiques and smells divine!


While I’m not a huge fan of using harsh chemicals, I do understand that sometimes you need a stronger cleaner. I use it  disinfect after someone’s been sick or when we buy something old for the kitchen that makes me a little nervous (think things with small enclosures).