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Lean Mean Cleaning Machine

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By Catherine Roebuck, Social Media and Communications Specialist

If you are anything like me, the long, miserable winter has left you with the need for some intense spring cleaning. Sure, I make sure things are tidy, sweep and mop the floors, and generally keep things spotless, but winter also puts me in a slump where I may or may not move the fridge to clean behind it (spoiler: I don’t move the fridge). So I slipped on some of those stylish yellow dish gloves, tied my hair back and changed into sloppy clothes to tackle spring cleaning and bring you some of the best tips and tricks for freshening up your home.
First up, the window tracks. I moved into my new rental place during the winter, so I still have a lot of cleaning up to do from the previous tenants, which includes tackling the often neglected window tracks. Normally, I’d probably just get some general household cleaner and a rag, wipe them down and call it a day. This time though, I wanted to ensure a deep clean so I sprinkled some baking soda on them, poured vinegar on top, and used a cotton swab to scrub away the caked on gunk. POOF! Clean window tracks.

Next, the mattresses. I’ve never cleaned a mattress in my life. I’ve washed the bedding and sprayed freshener on top. That’s about it. So this one required a little research. Enter Better Homes and Gardens. As I don’t have any children and both of my mattresses are relatively new, I didn’t have to worry about removing stains, but instead needed to worry about how to get any dust or, ew, dust mites, out of there. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Simply sprinkle a mix of cornstarch and baking soda on the mattress, let it sit for a few hours, and vacuum it off. If you are in need of even a deeper clean, I’d recommend following the pin below. 

Fun fact: Lemons are magical. Lemons are an amazing solution to a lot of spring cleaning issues. Combine lemon juice and water for an all-natural glass and mirror cleaner.  Cut a lemon in half, dip it in some salt and scrub away any grease or grime left on your dishes. You can even polish your furniture with a lemon/olive oil mix! The list goes on and on.

On to the shower curtain. I have one of those plastic shower curtain liners for the inside of my shower, but then a nice fabric one on the outside. Lately, I’ve noticed that hard water and grime have started forming, especially towards the bottom. It’s another one of those neglected parts of my home; after all, how do you clean a plastic curtain? Turns out you can just wash it! Apartment Therapy suggests throwing your curtain in the wash with some towels (the towels prevent the washer from tearing apart the curtain), some baking soda and a little bit of detergent.  Once it’s done, just hang it up to dry and you have a clean curtain!

Finally, a master list. We could go on for days with tips and tricks to help you spiff up your house, but what is more beneficial is having a list of all that needs to be done! This list from Little Ms. Robinson is by far the most encompassing one I’ve found, and it’s a free printable, meaning you can save it to your computer and print it out each spring.

In the end, you’ll be left with a stunningly clean house. For more tips and tricks, check out our Oh, Yeah! It’s SPRING! Pinterest board and share your cleaning secrets in the comments!

Happy Cleaning!

Green Thumb Tips for the Green Gardener

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By Denise Brenner, Senior Financial Accountant

Denise Brenner

Amidst marathon snow shoveling sessions I noticed my tulip bulbs were already hard at work sprouting the tips of their leaves through the soil. Hooray! With the arctic temperatures that February brought to Ohio, there’s nothing more joyous than a sign that spring is around the corner.

Spring also means that it’s time to start thinking about gardening. Though I find working in my gardens a stress reliever, it can also be a stress inducer if you aren’t strategic with your planting. Here are a few gardening basics to help you get started.

Types of plants

Plants are often classified by their life cycle:

  • Annuals bloom for only one growing season. Examples include impatiens, petunias and most vegetables. Annuals typically provide lots of color.
  • Biennials live for two growing seasons. Black-eyed Susan, pansies and many garden herbs are common types of biennials.
  • Perennials are plants that have a life cycle longer than two years. Phlox, hostas, coneflowers, and mums are well known-perennials. Fun Fact: Tomato plants are actually perennials – they just need to be maintained in a greenhouse or indoors during chilly winter months.

While logic would tell you that perennials are the most convenient type of plant for your garden, many don’t offer a lot of color. They also spread quickly and need to be tamed every few years. The best gardening strategy is to use a mix of all three types of plants. Doing so will give your garden color, variety and fullness without the mess.

Growing zones

The types of plants you are used to seeing in your geographic area didn’t end up there by chance. Plants are also classified by their native geographic area, aka their hardiness zone. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and the American Horticultural Society Plant Heat Zone Map will help you chose native plants to maximize the production of your gardens.

Why garden?

The benefits of gardening are immense and far-reaching:

  • Health: Gardening is therapeutic (the mental) and serves as a form of exercise (the physical). Vegetable gardens also provide a fresh and organic supply of healthy edibles.
  • Financial: Even with little work, one vegetable plant can supply produce for many months. Think of the impact on your grocery bill!
  • Social: There’s nothing better to encourage interaction with your neighbors and others who have similar interests. Community gardens also have a significant positive impact on our cities nationwide. Note: Find a local community garden here.

Ok… I’m sold. Now what?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are a few tips to encourage gardening success.

  • Mulch the soil around your plants. Mulching is critical for maintaining the condition of the soil and preserving the moisture in the roots of your plants.
  • Water your plants in the morning or at dusk. Morning is best because the soil (and therefore your plant’s roots) will stay moist throughout the day. Dusk is okay, but it can encourage mildew growth on cool evenings. NEVER water at high noon. Not only is it inefficient (most of the water will evaporate immediately), but doing so can scorch your plants.
  • Fertilize your gardens regularly using a product that’s safe for the plants you’ve chosen. Follow both the product’s instructions and the recommended guidelines for specific plants. Planet Natural provides a great overview of fertilizers on their YouTube channel.
  • Trust the growing instructions. Don’t make the mistake I did when I planted my first garden: “These tomato plants are so tiny… they don’t need to be spaced 12–18 inches apart!” WRONG. Within a few weeks, you’ll see why the spacing is critical. In the meantime, plant cool-weather vegetables such as lettuce or spinach in between. As the larger plants mature, the cool weather veggies will finish their growing cycles and can be removed.

Bonus Tips!

Here are a few additional gardening tidbits I’ve acquired over the years:

  • Taking photos of your perennial plants, trees or shrubs at about the same time each year is an easy way to track the growth and evolution of your gardens. It’s also a motivating factor to encourage you to keep up the hard work!
  • If you share your neighborhood with wildlife, raised beds can deter them from snacking in your gardens. Natural methods of pest deterrent, such as positioning marigolds around your lettuce and other vegetables, are also effective.
  • If you live in an apartment or community without access to a space for a garden, hanging or container plants are easy to maintain on a balcony or patio. Look for container-ready options at your local nursery.
  • Herb gardens are easy to maintain and do wonders for your cooking! Basil, cilantro, dill and rosemary are low maintenance plants that will infuse a wealth of flavor to your meals when freshly picked. 

Happy gardening, happy spring!


Wear Your Letters On Your Heart

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By Kylie Towers Smith, Simpson, Archivist/Museums Director  


Everyone knows you can easily place your badge above your heart by setting your thumb at the base of your throat with fingers splayed, and then pinning the badge between your pinky and ring finger. Or is it between the ring finger and middle finger? Wait, right hand or left hand?

It doesn’t matter since everyone knows it should be on the layer of clothing closest to your heart, and no one is going to see my badge below this vest I’m wearing. And I wouldn’t dare wear my Order of Omega pin above my Kappa pin. Some even insist the downfall of society started when fraternity women began wearing their badges on a lapel. Come to think of it, it’s a good thing International Badge Day doesn’t happen on casual Friday, or I couldn’t even participate while wearing jeans!

The adoption of our membership badge was one of the first acts of the Founders. In fact, the new group was not announced until October 13, 1870, for the young students were awaiting the arrival of their new pins. Since then, nearly everything about the badge has changed with two exceptions – it is still golden and it is still shaped like a key. It may be that “On the heart of each sister lies one key that binds us…” but how and where it’s made, embellishments, and placement have all changed with the times, with the economy, and with fashion. 

The stories vary relating to Kappa’s early history, including the details surrounding the badge. According to Founders Lou Stevenson and Anna Willits, Anna Willits’ mother suggested “A key to lock your secrets up.” Regardless of the original suggestion, these first members intended the opposite. As students of classical studies, with an interest in the arts, they devoted their meetings to literature and debate. They actually chose the key to “unlock the hidden mysteries in Science, Literature and Art.”

The first keys were long, flat, handmade pins which were worn in the hair, at least on dress occasions. Lou Bennett’s family jeweler in Pittsburgh, John Stevenson, made the pins— though Anna Willits wrote that they secured a local jeweler to make the pin.

In 1870, the Constitution stated that the Treasurer would have the duty to “procure badges,” and it was the duty of the members to keep them.

By 1873, the Constitution has only a description of the membership pin and no specific instructions on when or how to wear it.

In 1873, Epsilon Chapter questioned the size of the badge, suggesting a change to half the size. Alpha replied: “The badge cannot be changed in any way and must be secured from the contracting firm in the East.”

The Constitution of 1876 specifies black enamel for letters and requires the engraving of the owner’s name and chapter on the back of the badge. Some members at this time were having their names engraved on the front over the ward (the square shaped end above AΩO), while others did not have their names put on the pin at all.

By 1877, Delta Chapter at Indiana had the custom of requiring a certain scholastic average to wear the badge (85% for preparatory students and 90% for members in college).

In the 1880s and 1890s, chapter photos show members wearing their badges with the handle up and the bit angled down; nearly always on the left hand side.

In the 1920s as hemlines rose and waistlines dropped, so did badge placement and occasionally members wore their badges below the bust line.

It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s, when women’s fashion began to include more casual options, that the dictate of only wearing the badge with dress clothes spread as though it were spoken by our Founders.

In a search of all of the Fraternity documents through the years, the only instruction on how or when to wear the badge is in the case of official mourning. Whether to observe the death of a chapter member or a Fraternity officer, mourning periods were specific lengths of time and included instructions on how to wear black ribbons around, behind, above, or below the badge.    

While our official documents don’t designate just how, when, or where to wear your badge, just ask a sister and she’ll likely recite any number of “regulations” that have been passed down through the years. Our badge is the outward symbol of all that we hold dear in Kappa Kappa Gamma. If the noble purposes of our sisterhood are in your heart and on your mind, you can’t go wrong when you pin your key on for International Badge Day.     



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