From walls to towels to grout, here's how to keep the whites in your home looking their best.
More: See our 6 white decorating lessons »
Only wash white sheets with other white (or very lightly colored) items. Launder with detergent in warm water, but skip the chlorine bleach. "The last thing you should use is chlorine bleach because it breaks down the fiber," says bedding stylist Steven Whitehead. Instead, he recommends using an oxygen-based stain fighter like OxiClean to keep whites light and bright.
To remove wall smudges, first try the gentlest method, which is plain water and a soft cloth. If that doesn't work, move on to a solution of water and liquid dish soap, says Carl Minchew, director of product development at Benjamin Moore. If the spot remains, use more aggressive cleaners, like Fantastik or Formula 409, and gently rub the surface.
If it's safe to use chlorine bleach on your towels, do so with care. Read the bleach label and use the correct
Blog Posts by Country Living
From walls to towels to grout, here's how to keep the whites in your home looking their best.Read More »from 7 Tips for Cleaning White
From the best straighten-up strategies to the right way to vacuum your sofa, here's how to keep your house in tip-top shape in the New Year.Read More »from 10 Cleaning Tips to Jumpstart the New Year
1. Sweep Steps
Most household dirt-75 to 80 percent-is tracked in from outside. Keep the mess outside by regularly sweeping driveways, porches, sidewalks, and garage doors. Then, add a doormat to both the inside and the outside of every door.
More: Declutter your life with these 15 craft projects
2. Clean Door Mats
clean door mats
Vacuum or shake entryway rugs and mats when you clean the rest of the house, and give them a good wash once a month.
3. Remove Your Shoes
Keep grit and scuff marks at bay by asking family members and guests to remove their shoes when coming into the house. Keep a basket of slippers by the door for guests to borrow.
More: Get organized with these 12 weekend makeover projects
4. Vacuum Upholstery
Vacuum your couch and upholstered chairs regularly, even if they don't look like they need it. When invisible dirt and dust are left on
Cocktail experts Greg and Shelley Lindgren, co-owners of San Francisco's A16 and Rye, share the best spirits you need to always be ready for a celebration. Cheers!Read More »from How to Stock Your Home Bar
Greg Lindgren recommends having a quality mix of liquor on-hand. The good news? You don't always have to spring for top-shelf.
Spring for a good-sipping single malt. Lindgren's pick: Bruichladdich 12-year Second Edition.
Opt for the budget-friendly choice to save a few dollars since you can barely taste the difference. Greg suggests the affordable Four Roses.
This is the most popular alcohols, but the least likely to be consumed straight. Translation: You'll want lots of it at a not-too-fancy grade. Greg recommends the budget-friendly, but reliable Polish brand, Sobieski.
Margaritas benefit from pricier tequila so this alcohol is worth the splurge. Try one made from 100-percent blue agave, like Tequila Ocho Añejo.
Though cheap gin can be awful, top-shelf isn't exquisite. The
The Times Square celebration may draw the most attention, but the Big Apple's crystal ball is just one of many objects towns across the country drop at midnight. See 7 of the wackiest ways to celebrate 2012!
See more from CountryLiving.com:
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.Read More »from 7 Wacky New Year's Eve Traditions
Keep the little ones entertained before, during, and after the big holiday dinner with these cheerful crafts and kid-friendly activities:Read More »from How to Make the Kids' Table Fun
1. Make Tic-Tac-Toe Cookies
Finally, kids can play with their food at the table! Make this tasty game yourself-including the cute H and O pieces-using our simple sugar cookie recipe. (ABC Cookie Cutters, 3", $1.95 each; thecookiecuttershop.com)
Get the recipe for Sugar Cookie Dough »
2. Create Holiday Crayons
Give new life to your stubby leftover Crayons by transforming them into fun holiday shapes. Let your kids help make them, then, when it's time to eat, cover their table with a paper tablecloth so they can use their fun new creations throughout dinner.
Get the step-by-step how-to for Holiday Crayons »
3. Set Out Photo Booth Accessories
Prop the table with fun disguises, like these from Paper and Cake, that can be used in a "photo booth," as featured on the blog Hostess with the Mostess. The kids can entertain themselves while Mom and Dad enjoy
Your guests will love these party snack ideas from Country Living's top entertaining experts. Simply unwrap these perfectly paired picks and-voilà!-instant crowd-pleaser.Read More »from 10 Easy Party Snacks
Plus: 35+ holiday appetizer recipes »
1. Picholine Olives
First, set out a bowl of these green olives for guests to snack on. (Don't forget a plate for the pits!) "Mild in strength, this variety improves martinis, too." - Rosanna Bowles, tableware designer
Your gift-wrapping will be as sweet as the package inside with these brilliant ideas from Country Living's favorite online shops, store-bought kits, and clever crafters.Read More »from 7 Gift Wrapping Ideas You'll Want to Steal
Plus: Make your own keepsake with these DIY ornament ideas »
1. Peppermint Package
Cushion your presents with candy! Replace boring Styrofoam with swirls of minty goodness, then wrap your gifts in the red-and-white color combination for an eye-catching display.
2. Mix Tape
Graphic designer Joy D. Cho dresses up Kraft paper with festive masking tape, alternating horizontal and vertical strips to mimic ribbon. A snowflake fashioned from frayed candy cane colored paper straws becomes the crowning glory.
Infuse new life into a thrift-store shirt and brooch. Not only is the result eco-friendly, but, as gift wrap designer Jenn Playford points out, when you remove the brooch and unpin the shirt, you've got three gifts in one.
4. Name Game
There's no need for gift tags with Personalized Gift Wrap from
Whether they're placed in a vase or hanging from a tree, glittering ornaments add the perfect finishing touch to your holiday home decor. Here are 7 new ways to decorate with your ornament collections.Read More »from 7 Ways to Decorate with Ornaments
Plus: Don't miss our Christmas tree decorating tips »
1. Hang Ornaments from a New Kind of Tree
2. Make a Hanging Bud Vase
3. Bake a Sparkly Star Cookie
Also check out: Easy holiday crafts for less than $5 »
4. Display Golden Ornaments
These savvy Christmas gift ideas say ooh-la-la for very little moolah. (In fact, most cost less than 30 bucks!)Read More »from 10 Gift Ideas Under $100
Plus: Christmas gift ideas, decorations, recipes & more! »
1. Cider Mix
Show off your great taste: Perky Moose's caramel-rich cider mix drinks like dessert. (13 oz.; perkymoose.com, $6.50)
2. Key Magnets
Artist Trina Lucido repurposes keys into highly attractive stocking stuffers. (chickspicksbyhillary.com, $14 for set)
Psst: See all 45 Gifts Under $100! »
3. Camera Case
Prime Nakamura's felt protector is the very picture of clever design. (uniquevintage.com, $16)
Glittery bugle beads and oversize rhinestones yield a crowning achievement. (pier1.com, $18)
5. Lidded Jar
Apothecary chic meets schoolhouse charm in Creative Co-op's chalkboard-labeled ceramic vessel. (866-323-2264 for stores, $22.99)
6. Tablet Cases
Handicraft goes high-tech, courtesy of nifty needlepoint covers for the iPad (left) and Kindle (right). (landsend.com, $29.50 each)
Are chickens safe in my backyard? How big should my fish bowl be? Country Living's resident vet, Dr. Robert Sharp, answers the most pressing questions about birds, fish, bunnies, and more.Read More »from 5 Unusual Pet Questions, Answered!
Plus: 70 More Pet Questions, Answered! »
A: First, make sure owning live poultry isn't prohibited in your area. Then, purchase day-old chicks from a feedstore or an online source, such as mypetchicken.com, which offers chicks for about $3 each. Assuming it's eggs you're after, you'll only need to buy female birds.
Plus: How to Build a Chicken Coup »