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Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Grout

We have a guest blogger on board for this edition of our Home Remodeling & Design Blog.

We welcome this amazing article written by the Real Estate team below. They offer professional tips on how to handle grout.

Authored by: The Domo Group, RE/MAX Estate Properties, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.

Grout Maintenance and Cleaning Guide: Tips and Tricks for Great Results

Nearly all homeowners have to deal with grout in some form or another. Whether it's on the backsplash in their kitchen, on the countertops in their bathroom, or on the floors of their hallway, grout can be found all over the home.

When grout is new, it's both functional and attractive. If it's older and poorly maintained, grout can be a germ wielding eyesore. What nearly all homeowners seem to know about grout is that it's notoriously difficult to clean. Knowing how to maintain your grout and what you can do to keep it in good condition can help you take care of your home. Here's what you need to know.

Table of Contents

What is Grout?

Grout is the filler found between tiles. Its surface is relatively porous, with a rough, sandpaper-like texture. Grout is a mixture of cement, colorant, water and sometimes sand. Unsanded grout can be found in spaces less than ⅛ of an inch, sanded grout is found in spaces larger than ⅛ of an inch. Grout is used to reinforce the bond between tiles while filling in gaps.

Grout Cleaning Tips and Techniques

Grout is unlike other substances and surfaces found in the home. Homeowners must use special techniques to keep their grout in good condition. Grout is easily damaged, so take care to ensure that your technique is not wearing away your grout or the surrounding tiles.

Prep Before Scrubbing

Before scrubbing, prepare the surface by removing all loose dirt and grime.

1. Dry mop.

Start by sweeping, dry mopping or wiping the area with a microfiber cloth. This is an effective tool for cleaning grout because dirt clings to microfiber. This material is an effective product for removing dirt from small cracks and crevices, like the spaces between tiles.

2. Wipe with hot water.

Wipe down the surface with a sponge and hot water. This will help collect any remaining dirt on the surface before you get started scrubbing.

3. Dry standing water.

Remove any pools of water on the surface of the tile. Use a dry rag. The tile does not need to be completely dry, but should be at least mostly dry before applying grout cleaner.

Scrubbing Best Practices

Once the grout surface has been swept, rinsed off and dried, it's time to apply the grout cleaner of your choice. When using a commercially available product, follow all manufacturer instructions and safety precautions. Below are some of the best practices for scrubbing:

  • Suit up. Wear gloves and eye protection, if the cleaning product being used is caustic or acidic.

  • Let the cleaner do the work. Allow the cleaning product to sit for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to scrub the grout.

  • Scrub in a circular motion. Use a gentle scrub brush, like a soft-bristle toothbrush, to scrub along the grout lines.

Use an electric toothbrush, if you have one to use for grout specifically. No matter what process or method you use, be prepared to put effort and a little elbow grease into your process.

Common Cleaning Solutions

Some traditional grout-cleaning methods can be very harsh. Though it looks strong, grout is not very durable. Cleaning with products that are too harsh can result in erosion of its surface. To ensure that your cleaning products are just suitable clean your grout (not too harsh and not too mild), start with the mildest products first and work up to stronger chemicals as needed. It's a good idea to test areas hidden under appliances or behind the toilet, if in doubt.

Use caution when mixing chemicals, and work in well-ventilated areas. Read all instructions before using a new cleaning product on your grout, and check the manufacturer's information to ensure that the product you choose is safe to use on grout.

Cleaning Products

There are many cleaning products that are safe to use on grout and available for sale in home improvement centers.

OxiClean

OxiClean is primarily used as an additive to laundry detergent, but it can also be used to clean hard surfaces like grout. To use OxiClean on your grout, fill the product to line four on the measuring device and mix with a gallon of water. Apply the solution with a sponge, then leave it to sit on the grout for about 10 minutes. Scrub more and rinse.

Clorox

Clorox is a bleach product that, like OxiClean, is often used in the laundry room. Bleach is known to lighten dark colors and disinfect surfaces. It's a corrosive product that can burn holes through cloth, and dry out or damage skin. Bleach is safe to use on grout in a limited capacity, due to corrosive properties it's best when used sparingly. It's a caustic cleaner that can erode grout over time, making it more prone to chip, crumble or break away. Only use bleach in small amounts and on rare occasions.

To use bleach on grout, mix it with baking soda until it forms a thick paste. Apply it to the grout and leave it to sit for half an hour before scrubbing it away.

Be careful about mixing bleach with different cleaning products, as it can react violently with some other chemicals. For example, never mix bleach and ammonia, as this combination can create a toxic gas.

Zep

Zep is a company that produces a variety of cleaning products including several multipurpose and floor cleaners. Zep also makes an acidic grout cleaner. Always read instructions before applying Zep to your floors. Apply it to the grout and leave it in place for 2 or 3 minutes, then use a soft scrub brush to scrub the grout clean. Rinse thoroughly and reapply if necessary.

Goo Gone Grout

Like Zep, Goo Gone Grout is made by a company that produces a variety of cleaning products. Always read instructions before applying Goo Gone to your floors. Apply it to the grout and leave it in place for 2 or 3 minutes. Use a soft scrub brush to scrub the grout clean. Rinse thoroughly and reapply if necessary.

Grout-Eez

Grout-Eez is designed for ease of use. To use this product, spray it on and then wipe it away 10 minutes later, after letting it sit on the grout. Grout-Eez is well-reviewed by people who have purchased this product.

Home Armor

Home Armor is a bleach-based cleaning product that is said to require no scrubbing. Just apply and wait for the recommended period of time, then rinse. This is an excellent product for people who have limited physical ability and are not able to use force when cleaning.

TECH Grout Cleaner

This biodegradable, odorless product is said to be especially useful for cleaning floors. Spray it on, scrub it down, then mop it away.

Professional Cleaning Services

In addition to the money wasted trying different products, cleaning grout takes time and a lot of effort. For some homeowners, it's better to hire a professional. Most cleaning companies will guarantee their work, which makes this an ideal solution for some people. Other pros to consider:

  • A good professional will know the most effective ways to clean grout without damaging it.

  • Specialized cleaning professionals are generally more efficient cleaners than homeowners.

  • Professionals have the products that will get grout the cleanest, possibly commercial-grade cleaners that homeowners don't have.

If you're on a budget or a passionate DIYer, hiring a professional may not be right for you. Then again - if some serious cleaning is necessary, consistent failed DIY attempts may become more expensive than this option.

Grout Colorant

Sometimes grout becomes so discolored that even the best efforts to clean it just aren't sufficient. One way to fix this problem is to apply a colorant or grout stain to darken or lighten the grout and make it a uniform color once again. Grout colorants are almost like paint. They are applied to grout using a specialized brush or a toothbrush.

To apply colorant or stain to your grout lines, start by cleaning them. Once the grout lines have been cleaned and dried, apply product with the brush you've chosen for the job. Work in small sections at a time and wipe away any colorant that gets on the tiles before it dries. If the colorant is allowed to dry on the tile, it could stain permanently.

Natural & DIY Grout Cleaners

Many effective cleaning products can be found in your own pantry. Before buying expensive specialty products, start with solutions that you already have available in your own home.

As with commercially available cleaning products, it's important to test your homemade cleaning products first, before using it on a wide area. This will prevent you from leaving behind toxic residues that can be harmful to your family and the environment.

Ingredients

Before you can make your own cleaning products at home, it's good to know why some ingredients work and what they do. Having this information can help you create and personalize cleaning products that will effectively clean your grout.

Baking Soda

This product is prized for its ability to absorb smells. It's also mildly abrasive, so it's very good for scrubbing. Baking soda is slightly alkaline, so when dissolved into water, it helps lift dirt away from messy surfaces. People love to use baking soda in their home because it's gentle, natural, non-toxic and can be used safely on a variety of surfaces, including tile and grout.

Vinegar

Vinegar is mildly acidic, so when applied to dirty surfaces, it can dissolve caked on grime. Vinegar is commonly used to clean porcelain and glass. It's effective against soap scum, calcium buildup and hard water stains. There are many types of vinegar available in stores, but the best vinegar for cleaning grout is usually white vinegar.

Salt

Salt is a gentle abrasive that can also kill germs. Its unique chemistry allows it to be safely mixed with a variety of other household products. And since it's a food-grade product, it's 100% safe to use around the house. It's an excellent product to use when you're trying to remove dark stains from grout.

Lemon Juice

Like vinegar, lemon juice is mildly acidic and can help lift stains from certain surfaces. Lemons also have a bleaching effect that can lighten grout. It's said that lemon juice bleaches best when exposed to sunlight, so this may not be effective in dark corners. It also requires consistent reapplication to make a difference. In addition to being an effective cleaner, lemon juice has a refreshing and pleasant scent that can make any room a more pleasant place to spend time.

Borax

Borax converts water molecules to hydrogen peroxide while maintaining a stable basic pH. These qualities allow Borax to boost the effectiveness of certain other types of cleaners. You can mix Borax with a variety of cleaning agents. Borax can be toxic in high doses, so keep your Borax stored away from pets and out of reach from children.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is used to clean, disinfect and deodorize a variety of household surfaces. It's very effective at removing toxins and breaking down grime. Hydrogen peroxide is usually kept in the bathroom for disinfecting wounds, but when combined with other household products can be a very effective cleaner.

Recipes and Methods

To find the best DIY solution for your home's grout, start by trying products and ingredients by themselves or with water. All products above can be used on grout and a variety of other household surfaces, so try your hand with them around the house. Below are some common recipes that can be used to effectively clean grout.

Recipe 1: Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

Sprinkle your grout with baking soda, then spray the powder with hydrogen peroxide. The combination will bubble. Allow the mixture to sit on the grout for several minutes. Scrub, then wipe away with a damp rag.

As an alternative, mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a thick paste and then apply the paste to the grout. Allow the mixture to sit and then scrub the grout with a gentle scrub brush or old toothbrush. Rinse and wipe away.

Recipe 2: Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda and Dish Soap

Mix the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda together into a thin paste. Add dish soap and spoon the mixture onto the grout. Allow the combination to sit on the grout for several minutes, then scrub the mixture with a soft brush. Rinse clean.

Clean Early and Often

Grout gets dirty over time, not all at once. You can keep your grout looking its best by cleaning it early, as soon as you see a spill or stain, and often with an effective solution that works for you. Waiting until it can't be further ignored can lead to a more permanent discoloration of the grout, and can also lead to a lot of back-breaking labor for you.

Add Essential Oils for Pleasant Scent

Once you find a mixture that works, add essential oils for a long-lasting clean scent and added antibacterial properties.

Grout Maintenance

The best way to keep grout clean is through routine maintenance and preventative measures. Grout is very porous and easily absorbs moisture and dirt from the environment. Homeowners must be diligent to keep their grout looking its best and from harboring germs.

Keep Grout Dry

Mold and mildew will grow easily if the grout is often wet. You can prevent mold and mildew by paying special attention to keeping grout dry.

  • Run the vent in the bathroom after showering.

  • Squeegee your shower walls.

  • Wash rugs & towels that touch tiled surfaces regularly.

  • Don't put off fixing leaks

  • Seal the grout.

Develop a Maintenance Routine

Whether you're drying your walls or spraying them with vinegar, your grout will still need to be cleaned on a regular basis, especially in high traffic areas on the floor. Use a microfiber cloth to sweep daily, mop the area weekly and scrub grout regularly to keep it in good condition. High traffic areas on the floor may need to be scrubbed with cleaner once per month, while low-traffic areas may need scrubbing only once or twice per year.

Some people recommend spraying the walls of your shower with a 1:1 vinegar and water solution. Vinegar has a drying effect and also kills bacteria. Spraying your shower with vinegar on a regular basis can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Seal Your Grout

Sealing grout closes the pores and prevents it from absorbing dirt. Grout sealer can be applied by a professional or by a DIY homeowner, but some may be more comfortable with a pro taking care of this task. Grout needs to be re-sealed periodically, as sealer only lasts for so long, check the label on your specific product.

To seal your grout, buy sealant that is specifically designed for your type of grout, whichever it may be, and apply the sealant following all manufacturer's instructions. Re-apply sealant according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Most sealants need to be reapplied every one to two years. You'll be able to tell when sealant needs to be applied again because the grout will start to absorb dirt.

What to Avoid

Grout might be made from cement, but it can be surprisingly delicate. Using the wrong tools or the wrong type of cleaner on your grout can lead to a degradation of the material.Knowing what not to do can help you keep your grout in good condition.

Steel Wool and Metal Brushes

Abrasive tools like steel wool or a metal brush will quickly loosen grout, leading to gaps, cracks and gouges. These tools can also scratch certain types of tiles, rubbing away the ceramic coating on top and revealing the porous clay or stone underneath. Extended use of these tools could lead to staining of the tiles around the grout, and could potentially ruin your floors.

Sandpaper

Some people recommend using sandpaper to clean your grout. While this may be an effective short-term spot treatment in some cases, sandpaper is not much safer than steel wool or metal brushes on your grout. It can scratch tile, especially soft stones like marble. Sandpaper can also excessively wear down the grout itself.

Vacuum with Beater Bar

Vacuum beater bars can be too rough on tiled surfaces. With great speed they can impact tile corners and grout which could wear down or chip off over time. If you're going to use a vacuum on your grout, stick to attachments that suck out debris but do not scrub the floor.

Colored Cleaners

Colored cleaners can dye your grout a slightly different color. Discoloration will happen slowly over time, so don't assume that just because a colored cleaner worked once that it's safe to continue using. If you are using a cleaner that has a distinct color, check the manufacturer instructions to find out if it is safe to use on grout, and discontinue use if it doesn't specifically state so.

Use Best Practices and Enjoy Your Grout

Maintaining grout takes time, practice and experimentation. When your tile is first being installed, talk to your contractor for maintenance suggestions. If you have a friend who has clean and attractive grout in their home, ask them what their secret is. Bear in mind that not all cleaning products are safe for grout. If your friends seem to be using products that could damage grout over time, keep searching for an effective method.

What works on one type of grout may not work on another, since some types are more durable or easier to clean than others. Follow these tips as you're searching for the right method:

  • Start with mild cleaner and work your way up.

  • Always test cleaner on a small, out-of-the-way section of grout before cleaning your entire floor.

  • Avoid using materials that could scratch away your grout.

  • Clean your grout early and often, as well as dry mop daily to prevent dirt buildup.

Finally, if you're not up to the task of maintaining your grout on a regular basis, choose dark colored grout over light grout. Gray or black grout shows far less dirt and will continue to look its best no matter what cleaning practices you use. Though remember, it can still grow mold and mildew. If you choose to install white or light colored grout, be prepared to clean it frequently and diligently.

https://www.southbayresidential.com/grout-cleaning-maintenance-tips.php

Different solutions to enlarge a kitchen without adding an extension to a house.

Just recently we had a client who moved to a smaller home. They wanted a new kitchen with an island but had no room. They didn't want an extension but could not think of another way to have an island. Not thinking out of the box can be a major obstacle. We had the design challenge of a kitchen too small to accept the desired island. The client was tormented on how to enlarge the kitchen without an extension. We came up with the idea to relocate the stairs leading to the basement which were adjacent to the kitchen length. But where should we relocate the stairs, and get a further benefit?  We took 3.5' wide space from one spacious room that runs along the hallway and built a new OPEN staircase with rails going alongside the room. Of course relocating the stairway we had to overcome many structural obstacles, but mission was accomplished.

Other ideas:

  • Bump into an adjacent room to widen the kitchen.

  • Consider relocating the kitchen to a larger room if possible.

  • Open a wall to create an open floor layout

  • Build for storage in another room for items used infrequently (small appliances, holiday dishes, etc.)

  • Turn a butlers pantry into an additional prep or cooking station

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Smart Home Winners at the CES Show 2019

The annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was held in January 2019 and we researched some of the most innovative home products introduced. According to the CES staff, there are three trends that are being followed.

  1. Simplicity in design and use. Less buttons. One location controls. Voice assistants.

  2. Comfort and security - being able to start appliances from your smart phone, security cameras and smart door bells/locks.

  3. Energy Management - Weather forecasts tied into utilities, electrical charging stations, solar panel and other innovations helping to reduce energy usage.

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Home Security Drone System
The Sunflower Labs security system combines high-tech garden lights with a camera-equipped drone to patrol your yard.The drone is called the bee, and it lives in a hub station called the hive. The hive connects to your Wi-Fi router and keeps the app up to date. You'll set the hive in your yard, but it supposedly has a strong enough antenna to talk to your router. You'll also need to connect the hive to power, as it charges the drone.

WellCam

The Wellcam smart video camera connects to Wi-Fi, allowing Alarm.com subscribers to extend their security service into the homes of loved ones. It has a 180-degree field of view, 1080p resolution and the ability to make two-way audio calls. There's a call-out button on the Wellcam too for users to reach out for help. 

Savvy Smart Mirror

The Savvy Mirror is essentially a giant Android device on top of a mirror. The dual vanity model we checked out at  CES 2019 has a screen above each sink. From there, you can add apps from the Google Play store, including your preferred voice assistant for information and assistance.  

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AltroSmart

The Altro Smart Lock combines a video doorbell and connected deadbolt controller into one handy security gadget. It links to phones and the cloud over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. That lets you lock and unlock your front door remotely, or automatically when it detects your presence.

Atmos Control Touch Panel

For all of the new conveniences and capabilities that smart home products provide, one of the biggest annoyances is having to juggle a ton of different apps and constantly pull out your phone to control all of them. To solve this, the AtmosControl "smart home hub" acts like a universal remote, but with a simplified iPhone-like user interface.

Bosch BML100PI projector

Thanks to Bosch's tiny projector, you could soon use your shelves to pick outfits, check the weather, organize your clothes for laundry day and more. The BML100PI projects images of buttons that you can touch. If you move your finger over the button, a photo diode picks up a reflection of your finger and registers it as a press.

Kohler Smart Home Products

Have lots of money to burn, and crave a bathroom remodel that puts Google Assistant within easy access? Consider Kohler's smart bathroom collection. The line includes an intelligent toilet, a free-standing bath, a lighted mirror and a lighted three-piece vanity. All have accent lights you can control through voice commands put to Google Assistant. 

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U by Moen Smart Shower

The U by Moen Smart Shower already works with Alexa. At CES 2019 though, Moen said it will bring Apple's Siri and Google Assistant on board too. Soon you'll be able to ask all three voice assistants to turn your shower on and off, plus set to your preferred water temperature. Now that's luxury.

Somfy Scene Launcher & Smart Shades

Somfy makes smart shade motors and a smart-home control platform to command them. Window shades can be set to gradually open, run on a schedule or be controlled via voice assistant. With Zigbee integration, you can also pair shades with other smart devices, like a smart plug, to automate both natural and artificial light together. The Scene Launcher device serves as a handy physical control point. With it installed, you can activate personalized scenes (and multiple devices) with one finger tap.

Samsung Smart Washer/Dryer

Samsung's new WF45R6300AV smart washer and accompanying dryer will come with typical connected abilities. They'll communicate to phones via mobile app, for both status and control.  More interesting is a Laundry Planner that lets you schedule your loads -- not when they begin, but when they'll end. Other app-centric features include Laundry Recipe, which lets you tell the app about the clothes you want to wash -- material, color, stain details, etc. From there, it'll recommend the best cycle for your load.

Kitchen-Aid Cook Processor Connect

At CES 2019, KitchenAid debuted the Cook Processor Connect. It's an all-in-one, small countertop appliance with a dozen capabilities including boiling, frying, steaming, stewing, kneading, chopping, mincing, pureeing, mixing, emulsifying, whipping and stirring. You can also download preset recipes straight to the Cook Processor Connect with Whirlpool's Yummly app.

Leeo Smart Alert

Keep an eye on your family with the new Leeo Nightlight. This refreshed model senses motion, listens out for smoke alarms, temperature and humidity. It'll push alerts to your phone if anything is amiss or communicate through discrete color-changing LEDs.  

Laundry Folding Robot

If you hate folding laundry, the Foldimate might be your dream come true. Looking like a printer, and about the size of a mini fridge, the Foldimate tackles shirts, pants and other standard laundry items.

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Face Recognition Smart Lock

The Elecpro US:E is different than your standard smart lock. This model has a built-in camera with facial-recognition capabilities. With that it's supposed to be able to scan faces and compare them against a database you create of friends and family to decide if the door should be unlocked.

Wi-Fi Water Sensor

Get alerts for home water leaks in real time with this $50 D-Link sensor. It talks to the cloud wirelessly and comes with a 6-foot probe. It's also battery-powered so you can deploy it in lots of spots around the house.

TOTO Smart Toilet

The Neorest NX2 intelligent toilet from plumbing giant Toto is a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree. The company says the rounded toilet is inspired by the “beauty of pebbles shaped by water over time,” which seems like an odd place to draw inspiration for something you sit on and dispense of waste in, but sure. The toilet features high-tech sensors that can automatically open and close the lid and flush the water. There’s a personal cleansing system integrated into the device that uses warm water, an air dryer, heated seat, and in-bowl deodorizer to make the venture to the bathroom as comfortable as possible. The Neorest NX2 also uses Actilight bowl-cleaning technology that mists the toilet with electrolyzed water to remove waste.


Sourdough Dark Rye Bread

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Yelena is from Russia and this is one of her family's favorite recipes. This hearty bread is baked to accompany soups, breakfast or lunch sandwiches. This bread takes 4-5 days of planning ahead of mealtime. Keep in mind that rye dough can be sticky & gooey. It is not necessary to keep adding more flour to eliminate the stickiness. Sticky dough is normal in this recipe.

Ingredients for 2 Loaves

  • Rye Sour:

  • 1 package/2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (instant, not rapid rise yeast)

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 1 1/2 cups medium rye flour

  • 1 thick slice raw onion

  • Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water

  • 1 package/2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (instant, not rapid rise yeast)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, all-purpose)

  • 1 cup water (boiling)

  • 1/2 cup pumpernickel or coarse rye meal

  • 1/4 cup cooking oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons coffee (instant)

  • 1/2 ounce chocolate (unsweetened)

  • 2 cups flour (medium rye)

Steps to Make It

  1. Rye Sour: Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water and blend in 3/4 cup rye flour. Stir in onion, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature. Let the sour rise and fall back. After this, stir the sour twice a day for three days. Remove onion and add remaining 1/2 cup water and remaining 3/4 cup rye flour. Cover and set aside. When the sour has risen and fallen once more (probably 1 more day), it is ready to use.

  2. Activate the Yeast: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

  3. Make the Dough: Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the boiling water, pumpernickel, oil, salt, molasses, instant coffee and chocolate. When this has cooled, add the rye sour, yeast mixture, 2 cups medium rye flour and the remaining 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour. Mix until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, then knead 5 minutes.

  4. Let the dough rest, covered, for 5 minutes and then knead another 5 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in it, turning once to oil the top. Cover and let rise until doubled. Probably about 8-9 hours.

  5. Punch down dough and divide in half. Shape each into a round or oblong loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until doubled. Another 2-3 hours. you can also bake them in a Dutch Oven to hold a rounder shape.

  6. About 15 minutes before you want to bake, place a pan on the lowest rack of the oven for 2-3 cups of water to be added to create steam. Place another oven rack directly above it for the bread. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

  7. When ready to bake, slash the loaves with a  bread-slashing tool or razor blade up to three times diagonally or once lengthwise and brush them with cold beaten egg whites.

  8. Bake 35-40 minutes or until your thermometer registers 195-200 degrees.

  9. Remove from oven and take out of pans. Let cool. Eating this Delicious bread warm could be gummy so be sure to let it cool well. ENJOY!

Russian Potato Pancakes - Entree with Meat or Side Dish Without Meat

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Wow is this a big hit with our family! Meat filled potato pancakes have been served as a main course, side dish and appetizers at our family parties. We make them with ground pork or beef most of the time. You can make them with ground chicken, turkey , cheese, spinach or without filling of course.

Ingredients

Potato Pancakes:

  • 2½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (Best potato by far)

  • 1 egg

  • 2 Tablespoons flour

  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream (optional)

  • 1 small onion

  • ¾ tsp salt

  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper

Filling:

  • ½ lb ground pork, beef or your favorite filling. Experiment!

  • 1 very small onion

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper

  • 2 Tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes on a fine grater

  2. Use a sieve to drain the grated potatoes

  3. Separate the liquid from the starch. Discard the liquid, keep the starch

  4. Add the grated potatoes to the bowl with the starch

  5. Grate the onion on the same grater

  6. Combine all the pancake ingredients in a bowl

  7. Mix the filling ingredients together and set aside

  8. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat

  9. Using a large spoon, drop in batter for four pancakes

  10. Mold 1/2 Tablespoons of meat (or other) filling into a patty and place on top of the pancake in the pan

  11. Cover the filling with more potato mixture

  12. Cook until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side until golden brown.

Serve 14-16 delicious pancakes (with filling)! If you want to make 14-16 pancakes without filling, you can halve the recipe.

Let us know how your recipe turns out!


2019 Kitchen & Bath Trends

It is always curious how a design, color, style is so popular and suddenly a sign of the past. Several of the predictions for 2019 fall into this category. For instance, gray has been very popular for the last couple years and now is considered out of style. In reviewing several top design sites, these are the stand out features they agree on in their predictions. We will begin with a few "out of style" designs for 2019 and then move on to desirable trends for 2019.

Out of Style

  • Industrial Kitchen & Elements - The more sterile look of industrial including big stainless hoods are out for 2019.

  • Granite and marble continue to be on the out

  • Stainless steel is on the out. Still fairly popular but not the "go to"

  • Over the range microwave (if you can help it!)

  • Everything shiny & glossy in the kitchen.

  • Large tub in the bathroom

  • All white kitchens

  • Minimalism in kitchen design

2019 Design Trends

  • Matte Black - Whether it is matte black stainless appliances, or kitchen fixtures and hardware, black is the new fresh color. Matte black cabinetry is trending as well. You can add jewel colored lighting, wood or brighter colored counter tops to compliment the black features.

  • Two-toned kitchens continue - Whether it is a paint & wood combo on upper and lower cabinetry or a blue or hunter green painted island with a white or walnut perimeter, the two toned kitchens are still the darling in 2019

  • Brass accents continue into 2019 but is now accompanied by black, pewter and copper. Mixed metal finishes is a popular design trend too.

  • Quartz continues to be the counter top material of choice

  • Open shelving in kitchens

  • Concealed small appliances

  • Integrated appliances with matching panels

  • Utilizing stone and other natural materials

  • Textured backsplash

  • Mixing classic and modern elements for an eclectic look & feel

  • Undercounter microwaves

  • Concrete in bathrooms

  • Artwork in bathrooms & kitchens as a statement piece

  • Smart accessories in kitchen & bath

  • Spa like designs for bathrooms

  • Metal framed shower doors

  • Full glass shower enclosures

  • Big showers

  • Floating vanities & floating toilets - Easier to keep clean underneath

  • Marble as an artwork piece - bathroom walls, shower walls.

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Art in Business & Life

The beginning of each new season always spurs a renewal of emotions, contemplation and a reflection of our lives. Recently, I have been contemplating how art has helped me transform my life and business. Art can bring a certain kind of excitement to your life. You can enjoy the wonders of paintings, poetry, music, dance.... My wife and I love the ballet and opera. We frequent Lincoln Center and enjoy many forms of dance and music. Sharing these cultural events together keeps our lives connected and fun. I was the President of The New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony for 4 years. I was involved about 12 years total with my wife. We arranged concerts and had a grand time with the board members and musicians. The Board sourced guest violinists and pianists worldwide. We were afforded the honor to appear and have our Chamber Symphony play at the U.N. It was a special time of my life.

Experiencing art in our everyday lives can bring our own creativity to the surface and affect our minds eye view. I don't know why it has this effect, but I do not need to know why. Art has helped me create beautiful homes for our clients. I am able to look at a room such as a kitchen and my mind can envision how to enhance it's beauty and function.

Art keeps history close to us. It allows us to never forget the history of our world, culture and how we have evolved over the years. History through art affords us the opportunity to experience the trials, tribulations and rewards of our past.

Michelangelo's artwork stirs my creativity. Michelangelo is known for his outstanding sculptures and paintings. He created Pietà when he was 24 years old and David when he was 28. Yet, his architecture, such as the Laurentian Library and St. Peter’s Basilica sometimes take a back seat to his other art forms. I included pictures of his architectural achievements so you may appreciate its beauty.

Laurentian Library

Laurentian Library

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St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

Framed vs. Frameless Cabinetry

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Perfectly named, framed cabinets are cabinets with a face frame that covers the front of the cabinet box. Framed cabinetry is used for traditional, transitional and inset cabinetry. There are three main styles. You can choose a full overlay style that covers most of the face frame with a small reveal around the doors. Partial overlay shows more of the frame and is usually a less expensive option. A very popular framed style is called inset. This is when the cabinet doors are recessed within the cabinet frame fully exposing the face frame . There are beaded and non-beaded inset options. Framed cabinetry advantages include a very sturdy box and ease of installation. If you like crown molding, it can be placed right onto the frame. There is however, less storage space (including the drawers) due to the frame. Most framed cabinets have a center stile which limits access as well. Some brands (like Rutt), you can eliminate the center stile up to a certain height cabinet.

Frameless cabinets (also called full access) do not have a face frame nor center stiles. Modern Cabinetry is frameless. Most European cabinetry is frameless. Since there is no frame, there is more storage space (especially in the drawers) and easier access into each cabinet. The box is usually thicker to create more stability. Only full overlay doors are used. The hinges are attached to the side of the box. Frameless cabinets are typically designed with flat, slab doors to create a sleek minimalist look. Many brands build the box with particle board instead of plywood. Things to consider:

  1. Storing heavy items on shelves and bottoms can cause sagging on wide cabinets
  2. If your walls are not straight, installation will be more difficult
  3. Edge banding can peel over time

Before you or your client make a decision, the first consideration is what style you love. Definitely go in person to a showroom to view them side by side. If you have specialty items such as large plates or big pots, bring them. See how they fit and how you want to store and access them optimally.

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