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Tips for Cleaning Kitchen Tiles October 12, 2015

Tips for Cleaning Kitchen Tiles

Whether the kitchen tiles are made from stone, marble, porcelain, glass, or ceramic, here are some tips for cleaning them.

Let’s start with the kitchen splashback.
1.It is important to use the correct cleaner for the type of splashback material you have. Always check manufacturers guidelines before cleaning.
2.Clean up food splashes and spills on splashback as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of staining as well as problems with dried on spills which can become more difficult to remove.

1.If the glass tiles are very dirty, pour some warm water into a spray bottle,then add a small amount of washing detergent. Shake until detergent has completely dissolved.
2.Spray directly onto glass tiles. Then with a dry cloth, wipe dry.
3.To keep tiles looking clean and smear free, just wipe over with warm water on a clean damp cloth on a daily basis.
4.Non abrasive spray cleaners that are recommended for use on glass or tiles can give a gleaming finish but can cause smears with a build up tiles.
5.It is a good idea to ordinate between cleaning with glass tile spray and a warm cloth wipe over. This will stop a build up of residue, leaving a tiles looking pristine.

1.Sweep or wipe over the tiles with a dry mop or microfiber cloth.
2.Treat with care by testing cleaning process on the edge of the tile.
3.Use cleaning products specifically formulated for marble.
4.A sponge or soft cloth should be used according to cleaning product directions.

1. Using a weak solution of warm water and washing up liquid, use a squeezed out cloth or sponge to wipe over tiles.
2.Using a dry lint free cloth, go back over tiles using circular motions, whist drying and buffing for a lovely clean, smear free finish.
3.Using a multi purpose spray cleaner can help with stubborn marks and can be used daily.

1.Wipe up spill as soon as possible to avoid staining.
2.Vacuum of wipe over with a dry cloth.
3.Although all purpose cleaners are suitable for cleaning porcelain tiles. check out
the soap free detergents that are very good.

1.Natural cleaners should be used on natural stone due to the stone being porous. With even dust and dirt causing scratches to the stone, it is important to follow the manufactures instructions for cleaning.
Wipe up spills as soon as possible to avoid staining.

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10 Urban Escape Plans October 10, 2015

Looking for outdoor adventure? It’s closer than you think. Check out these easy summer escapes, all within a short drive (or, heck, maybe even a cab ride) of major cities.

Rockclimber Lynn Hill ascending.

Rockclimber Lynn Hill ascending.


New York City: Climbing the Gunks
After a week of climbing the corporate ladder, who wants to be stuck at a bar, social climbing? Instead, drive 90 miles north to the Shawangunk Mountains, or Gunks, where there are more than 1,000 rock-climbing routes. They’re legit: Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, and climbing pioneer Royal Robbins both have scrambled up these cliffs. Routes range from Beginner’s Delight, rated 5.3, to the 5.12 face-climb of To Be or Not to Be. Lovers of lower altitudes, meanwhile, can hike or bike 100 miles of trails beneath the walls at the 6,500-acre Mohonk Preserve, home to some top climbing routes. Access other spots on private land with a local guide, which you can find—along with harnesses, ropes and more—through the gear shop Rock and Snow (845-255-1311; www.rocksnow.com). At the end of a long day, stay at the Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian castle and spa, where you’ll have just one more bit of climbing: into a soft bed (800-772-6646; www.mohonk.com)

Boston: Surfing the Maine Coast
OK, so Maine doesn’t roll off the tongue like California, Hawaii and Indonesia in a discussion of surfing destinations. But in the time it takes to park at Logan Airport for a flight to the tropics, Bostonians can be hanging 10 on the bona fide waves off the coast of the Pine Tree State. The surf is especially up during the late summer and most of the fall, when storm swells surge at Higgins Beach, Wells Beach, Old Orchard Beach and Ogunquit, all strung along the shoreline around Portland. A bit farther north, six-mile-long Popham Beach has a slightly more private vibe. Check the forecast at Surfline (www.surfline.com) and book a room at the Portland Harbor Hotel (207-775-9090; www.portlandharborhotel.com), a 97-room charmer in the city’s Old Port district. Then head up Interstate 95 toward Liquid Dreams Surf Shop (www.liquiddreamssurf.com), which has locations in Ogunquit (207-641-2545) and York (207-351-2545). They’ll equip you with a board, a leash and a nice warm wetsuit.

Seattle: Kayaking the San Juans
With apologies to ferries, sailboats, bicycles and even a sturdy pair of legs, the best way to see the San Juan Islands is from a slim fiberglass hull with a paddle for a propeller. This archipelago of 700 islands and reefs—176 of them named—has been called the Super Bowl of sea kayaking, thanks to its championship conditions. The sun shines some 250 days a year; whales swim the waters while shorebirds fly overhead; and 408 miles of waterfront provide ideal put-ins and take-outs. The ticket: a daylong tour with Discovery Kayaks (866-461-2559;http://www.discoveryseakayak.com/), which takes paddlers through Haro Strait on the west side of San Juan Island to ogle orcas and gape at the Canadian Gulf Islands. (Get there on an 80-minute ferry ride from Anacortes:www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries has schedules and fares.) Hire a Discovery guide or just rent a kayak for longer trips that combine paddling with hiking, to help stretch those sea legs.

Las Vegas: Biking Red Rock Canyon
In about 20 minutes, you can trade slot machines in Vegas for slot canyons in the Mojave Desert—where spare tires from the buffets give way to fat tires. The 197,000-acre Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (part of the Mojave and just west of Las Vegas) was long a hidden side trip from the Strip; now it’s becoming a hot destination for mountain biking. One hundred miles of single-track spider through the desert, undulating through sagebrush, slipping between cliffs and tracing the paths of wild mustangs. The cacti and views seem unlimited, while coyotes lope through the lowlands and bighorn sheep prance up the hills. Las Vegas Cyclery (800-596-2953; www.lasvegascyclery.com) offers full-suspension mountain bike rentals—try a Cannondale Rush or a Santa Cruz Blur—and leads tours through Red Rock Canyon, turning Sin City into Spin City.



San Francisco: Hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail
The trouble with most hikes is that to get to the view, you’ve got to stagger to the summit. Not so with the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 164-mile halo around the über-deep, über-blue lake. The loop trail, completed in 2001 and now open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, darts in and out of deep green forests and dances along alpine ridgelines for near-continuous peeks at winking Lake Tahoe. It rolls just enough to stay refreshing, with no lung-busting slogs up steep slopes. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association Web site offers free, printable maps, route recommendations and camping suggestions (www.tahoerimtrail.com). For wildflowers, the best time for the Tahoe Rim is July. Hikers with a couple of weeks to spare can aim to through-hike the whole thing (trailheads are about a three-hour drive from San Francisco), while day trippers might consider the 12.4-mile journey from Spooner Summit to Snow Valley Peak for prime panoramas.

Portland: Kiteboarding Hood River
For the world’s greatest natural wind tunnel, drive 45 minutes east of Portland to Hood River, where the Columbia River Gorge churns with consistent 20- to 30-knot breezes. Long littered with windsurfing sails, today its waters are joined by pillowlike kites dipping and twirling in figure eights as kiteboarders skim the river and catch air. First-timers will want to sign up for a few lessons from Big Winds Kite School (888-509-4210; www.bigwinds.com). After learning how to control the kite—vital for safely harnessing the wind—you’ll spend a couple of hours on the water, getting the feel of speed beneath your feet as you twist and turn the kite. Rookies, meanwhile, can learn freestyle tricks in an advanced clinic from Hood River Waterplay (800-963-7873; www.hoodriverwaterplay.com) or simply head to one of dozens of sites, rated beginner to expert and provided by the chamber of commerce (800-366-3530; www.hoodriver.org).

Nashville: Whitewater Rafting the Ocoee
When you drive the three hours from Nashville to Ocoee, Tennessee, you shift into Eastern Time Zone—while the ground shifts into a topsy-turvy river. The Ocoee River hosted whitewater slalom events during the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, and has maintained all of that world-class froth. Tumbling through the Cherokee National Forest, it boasts rapids that are Class III (moderate, irregular waves requiring complex maneuvers, as defined by American Whitewater) and IV (intense, powerful and turbulent). With Nantahala Outdoor Center (888-905-7238;www.noc.com), the premier eastern river outfitter, paddlers can choose from two options: a five-mile, 90-minute trip on the Middle Ocoee, which rolls through such named rapids as Broken Nose and Double Trouble; or a four-hour, 10-mile Upper and Middle Combo, which thrashes rafters over ledge drops and through the Olympic Section. Dry out with a night in a lakefront cabin on Lake Ocoee (Ocoee Inn, 800-272-7238; www.ocoeeinn.com).

Austin: Cycling the Texas Hill Country
Ninety minutes west of Austin hides the town of Fredericksburg, where German bakeries meet Texas Jack’s, the Western wear emporium that outfitted Lonesome Dove and Gunsmoke. But increasingly this part of the Lone Star State is becoming known for its heart-pumping biking rather than its quirky heritage. Fuel up with fruit kolaches at Hill Country Donuts & Kolaches on Main Street (830-990-2424), and find cycling gear and maps at nearby Hill Country Bicycles (830-990-2609). Then hit the Willow City Loop, a 55-mile ride that climbs and falls through the surrounding rolling meadows, which are cooler and greener than much of the rest of Texas. For something shorter, consider the 37-mile Luckenbach Loop; for something longer, head toward the towns of Boerne and New Braunfels. Though wineries are sprouting up throughout the region, the best place to dismount is back in Fredericksburg, for live music at the Ausländer Biergarten (830-997-7714).


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9 Quick Island Escapes September 6, 2015

Never underestimate the restorative power of an island, especially if you’re a city dweller.

There’s something about watching the mainland fade into the horizon that helps you distance yourself from stress and drudgery. An island is a world apart, even if it’s as close to downtown as an exurb. And most of the many islands off the thousands of miles of U.S. coastline are small and can be fully explored in a day—on bike or by moped, if not on foot.

Some islands by the city offer shopping and smart restaurants; some offer a window on a different culture or times past. But they all present natural beauty, usually with a complement of flora and fauna that feels connected to the nearby mainland, yet exotic.

A final note: Unlike all the others, one of our destinations, Padre Island off Texas, is connected to the mainland by road. This makes Padre more accessible and in some ways may make it feel less like a world apart. While its link to the mainland makes it less of an island retreat in the strictest sense of the word, it deserves to be represented here as a great city getaway.

California: Santa Catalina Island

Somehow, a road trip seems less than the ideal way to escape the daily driving grind of La-La Land. For many Southern Californians, a much more psychically satisfying getaway is a brief sojourn to Catalina.

With its mix of small-town charm, meandering beaches and hilly backcountry wildness, Catalina casts a wide net for its 1 million annual tourists. Those who choose to do more than shop and eat can ride a rental bike or hoof it into the woods (mostly owned by the Catalina Island Conservancy), kayak, snorkel or scuba.

Ferries leave for Catalina from San Pedro, Long Beach or Dana Point up to 30 times a day, depending on the season. You can also hop a small plane from LAX or even a helicopter from Long Beach or San Pedro.

Note: In May 2007 a wildfire burned several square miles of interior chaparral on Catalina, but the principal town of Avalon was spared.

Massachusetts: Boston Harbor Islands

If you’re admiring a gleaming Boston skyline several miles to the west and endless miles of ocean to the east, you must be floating in Boston Harbor, right? Actually, you could be on solid ground, on one of the 30 smallish Boston Harbor Islands, accessible by ferry from downtown and the South Shore.

You’ll start your closer-than-the-suburbs marine adventure at Georges Island, which features Fort Warren, home to captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Then, if you’ve got a bit of ambition, you’ll fan out by free water taxi to Lovells, Peddocks (which features a marsh and a pond), Bumpkin (shell beaches and wildflowers) or Grape (wild berries and other edibles) islands to get away from the crowd.

Inexpensive ferries run frequently in the summer from Long Wharf or Fan Pier in Boston or from Hull or Quincy south of Beantown.

Michigan: South Manitou Island

For Traverse City folk who seek a well-packaged wilderness experience, South Manitou Island is an ideal day getaway. Part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, South Manitou is a formerly inhabited 8-square-mile isle 16 miles out on Lake Michigan.

Two top destinations beckon hikers: The west shore’s perched dunes and, on the island’s southwest corner, a stand of some of the world’s oldest and largest Northern white cedars—they measure up to 18 feet around. There’s also a 100-foot-tall lighthouse that wasn’t always successful during its 87-year career. This is good news for divers, who frequent the 50 shipwrecks clustered around the island.

The 90-minute ferry from Leland, Mich., leaves you for four and a half hours on South Manitou before the return trip. Bring your own lunch; there’s no food service or groceries on the island.

Ohio: Kelleys Island

It can be almost disorienting for Ohioans when they find themselves on Kelleys Island, one of five major Lake Erie isles. But to drive just over an hour from often-gray Cleveland and take a 20-minute ferry ride to a miniature oasis on a giant lake—it’s a wonder.

Kelleys covers just a few square miles, which makes it perfect for navigation by golf cart, on a bicycle or on foot. You can visit historic houses, forests and your choice of sandy or rocky beaches. Check out the Village Pump, a watering hole frequented by the boating crowd. The biggest attraction in the island’s state parkis the Glacial Grooves.

Ferries bustle between Kelleys and the mainland port of Marblehead; air service is available from Sandusky.

Rhode Island: Block Island

If you love the idea of an island daytrip off New England but find Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket too rich for your blood, Rhode Island’s Block Island may be just the place for you. With the village of New Shoreham surrounding the ferry landing, Victorian hotels with wraparound verandas, long sandy beaches and 200-foot bluffs, Block Island offers the beauty of its better-known neighbors with less fuss.

You can hang out all day in the town and on its beach or roam the island’s 10 square miles on foot, bike or moped—or even in your car, if you insist.

Ferries for Block Island, some of them double-speed, leave year-round from New London, Conn., or Newport and Galilee in Rhode Island. Galilee is 40 minutes south of Providence and an hour and a half south of Boston.

South Carolina: Bull Island

Here’s one barrier island on the East Coast that won’t ever be smothered in million-dollar vacation homes: Bull Island, part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Six-mile-long Bull was inhabited in the 19th century, which explains the extensive system of roads and trails. Otherwise, this rustic island of beach, marsh and infernally buggy interior is devoted to wildlife, including the egrets, herons, pelicans and dolphins you may see on the ferry ride over and, on land, the elusive red wolf and loggerhead turtle.

The ferry leaves the mainland from Garris Landing—an hour’s drive north of Charleston—several times a week during the warmer months. The 30-minute boat ride is narrated by a naturalist.

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