Healthy Tea Part 2: The Many Benefits of Green Tea

Yesterday, I shared Health Benefits of Green Teawith you my recipe for sweet iced green tea. I also mentioned that green tea is a healthy alternative to sodas and other sugary drinks. Today, I want to share with you some of the many benefits of drinking green tea. I highly recommend drinking it regularly for your health, and replacing unhealthy drinks with it is a great idea. The health benefits of drinking green tea are overwhelming, so I have listed just a few.

Green tea may help you lose weight! While some studies show little results to this claim, others show that the antioxidants in green tea help to boost your metabolism and help you shed more pounds! Yes, you will still need to eat less and exercise more, but if green tea can give you a boost and help your efforts, I say go for it!

Green tea is known to lower cholesterol levels. Sounds unbelievable, right? But it’s true! EGCG, the antioxidant in green tea can prevent cholesterol from being absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream. I would still recommend a low cholesterol diet, but in case you slip now and then, it is great to know that your green tea is helping to protect your heart and arteries!

Green tea is anti-bacterial as well as anti-viral, making it great for a whole passel of illnesses and diseases. It can help eliminate dental problems, can fight against the common cold, and I have even heard reports of it fighting cancer. While following the advice of your doctor is always recommended, adding green tea to your diet couldn’t hurt, and may actually help you get better!

Green tea can help improve brain function! The EGCG found in green tea has been shown to change the brain and improve memory and cognitive ability. It can help you stay more focused and alert, thus increasing your productivity. While green tea has less caffeine than coffee, it may be more effective in improving mental clarity as it functions along with the other compounds found in the tea.

Green tea can help give you more energy! While improving brain function, the caffeine in green tea helps to give you energy. As I mentioned before, there is less caffeine in the tea than in coffee, but this is actually a good thing. Drinking coffee can give you jitters and may contain a little more caffeine than is healthy for you, causing your body to go into overdrive. Green tea may actually be a better option because the caffeine, along with antioxidants and other compounds not found in coffee, work together to improve brain function as well as increase energy levels without too much of a boost.

I could go on, as the benefits of green tea are many. But these few alone are enough to convince me that adding green tea to a healthy diet and active lifestyle is something I want to do. Just two cups a day can make a difference, while still others shoot for drinking five. However many cups you choose to drink, be assured that you are improving your health with every sip!

Healthy Tea: How to Make Sweet Iced Green Tea

As a parent, I am always on the lookout for healthy alternatives for my family. We generally eat healthy meals, eating baked or grilled foods instead of fried, or steamed veggies instead of processed pasta or potatoes. When it comes to drinks, we try to keep plenty of water and sports drinks instead of sodas and other sugary drinks. We snack on fresh fruits and veggies, and we keep granola bars in the pantry instead of chips.

Even with all that Iced Green Teahealthy eating, I still have a confession to make… I LOVE sweet tea! Probably more than I should. I used to make a gallon of tea and put two cups of sugar in! All that sugar is really bad for the body, so over the last year, I have worked super hard to get away from drinking so much of it. These days I rarely make sweet tea, but some days I really miss it. Every once in a while, I will make a cup of hot green tea sweetened with stevia, but it just isn’t the same.

A few days ago, I went with a friend to our beginning of the year homeschool meeting, and she had a water bottle filled with green tea. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before! I can make some iced green tea and sweeten it with stevia just like I do when I make it hot! So I asked her how she made it, and she actually only made just enough for her one bottle full. I wanted to make it by the gallon because I had a feeling the rest of my family would love it just as much as me. When I got home, I got busy experimenting, and I have perfected my recipe to just how we like it. Hopefully you will like it too!

What you will need:
5-6 green tea bags
Stevia
Water
Ice
1 gallon size pitcher

Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Add tea bags to the water and allow to steep for about 5 to 10 minutes. While the tea bags are steeping, add desired amount of Stevia to your pitcher and stir into a small amount of water until dissolved. Add ice to this mixture. After steeping the tea bags, remove them from the water and pour tea blend into the pitcher. Add water to fill pitcher, and stir. Enjoy!

The amount of stevia you use is a personal preference. It also depends on the brand of stevia that you use, as they aren’t all created equal. The brand that I used measures cup for cup like sugar, so I used a cup. Other brands don’t have fillers, so it will take less of it to get the same amount of sweetness. You will have to tweak it to make it like you want.

Sneak Peek Tuesday – What I’ve Been Up To

I have been super busy these last few days working on some things for you! I am so excited about my plans, and the things in store for this site!

First of all, I wanted to show you the new items I listed in my Etsy shop today. Go check it out!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SimplyPunkin?ref=search_shop_redirect

Also, I made an apron a few weeks ago that I think I am going to make again. It was a doozy of an apron to make, mainly because I had to learn a new skill to make it. I have never cut out and made my own binding before, so I gave it a whirl, and here is the finished product!

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I think this is my favorite apron I have ever made, and I have enough fabric to make another just like it. If you have never made your own binding before and would like to learn, this should make you happy. I will be making a how-to video, and show you how to do it too!

Also in the works are some beginner sewing kits, complete with how-to instructions along with all the materials you will need to complete them. All you will need is your sewing machine and a can-do attitude. I will walk you through how to make a really cool pillow, and before you know it, you will be sewing like a pro!

Have a Happy Tuesday, and keep coming back. I have lots in store for you!

 

Dog Grooming at Home: How Grooming My Own Dog Saves Money

I will never forget the day I got my sweet little furry dog. She was a six week old shih tzu, and when my husband walked up with the tiny ball of fur, I was instantly in love! She was a Mother’s Day gift, and was one of the best gifts my guys have ever given me. After mulling over names for a couple of days, we finally settled with Trixie, and the fun began!

Dog Grooming at Home

One of the down sides to having a dog is the expense. Many times people don’t consider how much having a dog will cost them. There are normal things like food, toys, and a crate. But then you have veterinary expenses, such as getting the dog spayed or neutered, annual shots, flea and tick prevention, heartworm prevention, and the unfortunate incidents when sickness hits. Plus, you have to consider the aging dog, who will need additional care. And if you have a dog with long hair, you will need to consider grooming expenses.

This is where I find it easy to save money. For several years, I would take Trixie to a groomer. The groomer would bathe her and cut her hair, then send her home looking all adorable with cute bows in her ears. This does save time, but it costs money. For Trixie, it is about $30, which doesn’t seem like a lot. But she needs to be groomed every two weeks, and that adds up. So I decided that I would try my hand at grooming her myself.

This was rather interesting, to say the least. The first time I tried, I found myself taking her to the groomer to fix my mess! But after a couple of times, it became easier to groom her. The most difficult part of grooming Trixie is doing her feet. She really doesn’t like for me to mess with her feet, so it can sometimes be a challenge to get her to cooperate. But it is well worth the effort. Not only am I saving money, but grooming my own dog gives me an opportunity to bond with her.

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To groom your own long haired dog, you will need the following:
– A grooming kit
– Grooming Scissors
– Nail Clippers
– Dog Shampoo
– A Dog Brush

Start by giving the dog a good cut with the clippers. Trixie usually loves this because it is a good massage for her, but in the beginning she was afraid of the clippers. If your dog is afraid, give him/her a chance to get used to them. It may take a little time, but stick with it and be patient. I usually cut most of her body hair a little longer than her tummy, but I still cut it pretty short since this allows for more time between full body grooming sessions. You can change out the guards that come with the clippers to find what length you like best for your dog. I try to cut her tummy and around her bum really short, as this helps with keeping her clean. Be very careful as you go around the face and ears, especially the eyes, as they can be easily injured. Sometimes it is easier to use scissors around the face, but it will depend on your dog.

I usually shave the underside of Trixie’s ears and pluck the hair from inside them. This helps prevent yeast growth and infections, as she is prone to getting ear infections. Follow your veterinarian’s advice here, as each dog is different in how they need to be cared for.

I hardly ever clip Trixie’s tail hair with the clippers. I have done it before, but only because she had some tangles that I couldn’t get out and cutting it gave me a fresh start. Usually, I stand her up and hold her tail straight out. Then I use my scissors to cut the hair all one length.

After cutting her hair, I clip her nails. You have to be very careful not to cut them too short, but sometimes accidents do happen. If this happens to you, place a paper towel on the affected area and apply pressure. Dipping the foot into a baking soda and corn starch mixture can also help stop the bleeding. I would recommend using some styptic powder, as it really is the best option to stop the bleeding.

Be sure to bathe your dog regularly, but not too often. Bathing a dog too often can dry out and irritate their skin. Not often enough can result in too much oil, matting, and a dirty dog. I recommend using an oatmeal shampoo, as this is soothing to the dog’s skin.

Grooming Trixie has been such a great experience for both of us! It gives us some good bonding time, and my wallet thanks me for saving so much money!

 

Five Things I Learned as a Homeschool Mom Taking College Courses

Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a mother. It’s mostly all I wanted to do. And when I actually became one, it was truly one of the best things in my life. My husband was very supportive of my dreams, so I was able to become a stay-at-home mom when my oldest was 4 months old. He is 16 now, and aside from a few part time jobs, I have made it my life’s purpose to stay at home and take care of my boys. But I do realize that at some point, kids grow up and move away. That means in a few short years, a new chapter of my life will begin. I wanted to be at least somewhat prepared for that, so a few years ago, I decided to start working toward my degree. And let me tell you, it was a very big change in the life of our family!

We are a homeschooling family, and at the time that I enrolled, I also worked part time at our local grocery store. It didn’t take long to realize that something had to go, so I quit my part time job and focused only on our studies. Of course, there was still the normal day to day stuff that had to be done as well, so I was a busy mama!

Two years ago, I finally earned my degree in Business Administration. I was so proud of my accomplishment, but mostly it made me happy to see my boys proud of what I had done! They had seen the hard work that went into earning a college degree, and having them see the reward was a great experience. Along the way, we learned some things; things that we wouldn’t have learned without my college experience. So today, I want to share those with you.

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1. You have to let some things go! When I was in school, “Let it Go” became my motto. I learned during those days that my husband and kids are just as capable as me, so if I truly didn’t have time for something, I let it go. I will never forget the day, at the end of a hectic semester, when I sat down to catch up on matching socks. I had three baskets full!! It took me a WHILE to match up all of those socks! The point here though, is that letting socks pile up is not the end of the world. When you have to choose between cooking dinner and matching socks, dinner wins every time.

2. School is hard! Okay, yeah I already knew that. But it had been a long time, and I had forgotten just how hard it really is. This realization has been good for my kids too. We homeschool, so it’s my job to prepare my kids for college. Whether or not they choose to go is a different matter, but either way, I want them to be prepared for it. When I tell them they need to be prepared because college is hard, they know exactly what I mean. They have seen it first hand!

3. Balancing school and family can be tricky, but it can be done! Taking classes online instead of on campus was a tremendous help in this area. Yes, I had deadlines, but I didn’t have to attend any class at any particular time. I could work at 8am, 3pm, or even 2am. This helped with scheduling things for my family, and making sure I could be available for them when they needed me. The most difficult thing for me to manage is time, so I had my work cut out for me. I had to learn which activities were wasting time, and which ones were necessary, and plan accordingly. One thing I made sure to do was make time to spend with my boys. Touching base with each of them is super important to me. So I would take time to hear them tell their silly stories or just to sit in their rooms at night for a little while and build a Lego house. You would be surprised what your kids will tell you when you’re just hanging out. Keeping an open line of communication means making sure they know you are there for them, and that you hear them.

4. Sleep when you can! When I was in school, sleep was scarce. I was up each night until 2 or 3am, then back up again by 7, so I learned to take advantage of opportunities to sleep. I would sneak in a 15 minute cat nap each afternoon, as this was a life saver! I don’t know how sleeping for 15 minutes can rejuvenate a person, but after a short nap, I felt new again. Sunday afternoons were the best times for me. My husband was always home on Sundays, so he could take care of house and home while I slept for a few hours. Actually, I’m not sure what I would have done without him!

5. Families work together! I am so thankful for my guys! My husband worked so hard to help me while I was in school. He would go to work each day, then come home to cook dinner and handle the kids for the night while I studied. Some nights I didn’t have as much work to do, so I was able to help him. The kids helped pick up some slack too, helping with house chores like cleaning bathrooms and taking care of the dogs. It is true that so many things went undone during that time, but we would always manage to find a day each week for catching up. In between semesters, I would use my spare time to do things that I had let go. One time, during spring break, I spent part of the week cleaning and reorganizing the attic! I would use these times to groom the dogs and clean carpet stains, or deep clean the bathrooms and kitchen.

I don’t regret my choice to go back to school and complete my education, but those years went by like a whirlwind! I truly enjoyed my classes and my professors, and even made a few new friends! Our family learned a lot along the way, mostly about time management and helping each other. And at the end, when I walked across the stage to get my degree, it was truly worth all the effort.

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New to Homeschooling? One Thing You Shouldn’t Expect

I’ll never forget our first year of homeschooling. My little kindergartner and me… we were gonna have school at home, and I had big plans. Our home at the time was fairly small, so I didn’t have the space for a school room. But I did have a small office, and I had all of our books lined up on the shelves perfectly. I had charts and schedules. I had all kinds of great plans for my little man, and he was going to learn SO much. I was going to be like those other moms on the internet who had it all together, and our homeschool was going to be perfect! Boy, did I learn a lot that year! But this is the biggest thing I learned: The one thing you should not expect as a homeschooler is perfection!

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Making a schedule doesn’t mean that your day will go exactly as planned. I learned that life happens, and schedules and plans don’t always work out. Any one of a gazillion things can happen and we need to be flexible. We may have littles who need our attention. We may end up spending more time on a difficult subject that we planned. We may get a call from a friend in need. The roof may get a leak or the dog may throw up. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a schedule or plans for each day. Just be prepared to shift things around a little.

Sometimes we make schedules and charts and plans that don’t even make sense for our families. Now, I am a big fan of charts and schedules. (I am even working on a free download for my readers!) But when you make a schedule, it is important to consider your family’s tendencies. Consider your children and what will realistically work best for them. One mistake I made was expecting my son to do his math work first thing in the morning. He is not a morning person, and he is certainly not a math person. Of course, my thinking was that if he did the most difficult thing first, it would be out of the way and he could enjoy the rest of the day. What I didn’t realize was that, for him, doing math first thing was setting the tone for a really rough day. It took me a while to realize what had to change. When I allowed him to start doing math later in the day, I noticed a big change in his attitude.

Your child is not perfect, and will have to work harder on some subjects. Both of my boys are smart and they each have subjects that they excel at. But they both also face challenges in certain subjects as well. Some days are just hard. In our case, there have been days that we wanted to throw the math book out the window and burn it! And yelling makes it way worse. Don’t ask me how I know. Ahem… Patience is key here. Take a ten minute break and come back with a fresh mind. Pray and ask the Lord how you can approach the subject matter. Break it down into small pieces. Sometimes you just have to put the book away and try again tomorrow. And that’s okay. As long as your child is making progress and giving it their best, It’s okay to spend a little extra time on a topic that they don’t quite understand. When they get it, have a celebration! Cause I promise you, they will get it. And when they do, you will be SO proud!

Planning is essential for homeschooling. Have a vision for what you want to accomplish in this endeavor, and work toward the goals you set for your children. But be prepared for a bumpy road. As with anything worth working at, homeschooling can be hard and you will have frustrating moments, and you will even sometimes want to quit. Perspective is everything. Be prepared for things to not go perfectly, and you will have a much better experience. You will find that watching your child learn and grow and succeed is a most wonderful experience, and it is WELL worth the effort it takes to get them there!

Motivation to Reach Your Goals

Do you ever need motivation to reach your goals? Earl Nightingale said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

UntitledI am a perfectionist. It is really sad. Really. I often find myself not doing things because I think I can’t do them right or because I think I don’t have enough time to do them right. Procrastination is my downfall. This blog is a classic example. I have always wanted to do this! So I sat down and laid out a plan for my blog. I spent lots of time on it too! Lots of time. It was a super plan, elaborate, but simple enough that anyone could do it. I wanted to share my knowledge with the world, so I thought about how I would do it, and I put a plan together. Well, a few weeks ago I found those plans. I was looking for something and came across the very notebook that I had filled with scribbles and outlines. It was full of drawings and notes I had jotted down. I had written journal entries about why I was doing it and what my goals were. Then I saw it. It was right there at the top of the page. I was sick. I wrote all of those plans SIX YEARS AGO!!! Six years have gone by, and I remember writing all of those things like I had just done it yesterday. Time has flown by!! And I have no excuse for not having followed through with my plans except for the fact that I am such a perfectionist, and I thought it would never be good enough, so I kept putting it off. And that brings me to the point of this post.

If you have a goal or plan… If you have an idea that you just know will work… If you know that you will be good at something… DO IT NOW!!! You can do it, and in six years look back and see how far you have come. Or you can *not* do it, and in six years look back with regret, thinking of how far you *could* have come. Simple enough, right? Simple enough.

Whatever your vision is, go make it happen. Perhaps you want to lose weight or be more healthy. Maybe you have a business idea. Or maybe you want to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Maybe you want to be a missionary overseas. Maybe you want to run for public office. Maybe you’re like me, and you just want to start a blog! Whatever it is, you will never reach your goals if you don’t start taking steps in that direction.

Now GO!! Do your thing!

Don’t Like Water? Learn to Love it With These Tips!

Several months ago, I started a journey to weight loss. I started out great, but somehow found myself falling back into the same old unhealthy habits. It was Christmas, y’all! All those cookies and cakes and candies seem almost impossible to walk away from! Then those candies somehow tend to hang around the kitchen for way too long. Now that the holiday season has gone (along with all those yummy but oh so unhealthy snacks!!), I want to get back on the weight loss wagon and try again, this time actually sticking to a healthy lifestyle. And one of the best tricks to losing weight is so easy! Just drink water!

Water TipsDrinking water instead of sugary drinks and sodas will make you feel so much better! I have found that when I don’t drink enough water, I begin to feel tired and I have to drag myself through the day. Water hydrates the body, which helps everything in your body function better. When I say everything, I mean everything! Water helps flush toxins from the body by making the digestive system and the kidneys work properly. It hydrates the muscles and joints, making movement and motion easier. It energizes the brain, helping you with memory and concentration. Water promotes heart health. It hydrates your skin, making you look more beautiful. I could go on, but I’m pretty sure you get the point. Water is essential for your health!!

When I talk to people about the benefits of drinking water, the most common response is, “But I don’t like water!” Trust me… I get it. I don’t like it either! Water is so bland and boring, and just doesn’t taste all that great. If you have been drinking mostly sodas and sweet, sugary drinks, water can be difficult to get used to. I have always loved sweet tea. No joke, I used to make a gallon of tea each day and sweeten it with not one, but TWO cups of sugar! So believe me when I say I know how difficult it is to quit the sugary drinks and drink water instead. There are a few things that I recommend when making the switch to water that I think will help.

The first is sparkling water. This is my favorite option, mainly because I like the carbonation, and it tastes a little better than plain water. If you like the fizz in sodas, sparkling water is a good alternative. You can buy these at your local grocery, and they come in different flavor options. Most stores even have their own brand that costs a little less than the popular brand names. Over time, this can get expensive, especially if everyone in your family is making the change. To save money, I would recommend getting a soda maker and make your own. There are several different brands of these makers, so be sure and do your research to make sure you get what is right for you and your family. You can also add flavors and infuse fruits to find the flavor you like.

Second, you could buy regular bottled water. Most people who drink bottled water have brand preferences. This is mostly because bottled water comes from different sources. You have to pick which works best for you and go with it. As with buying bottled sparkling water, this can get expensive. A great alternative that will save you money is a home water filtration system. You can have a whole house system installed, or simply attach a smaller version to your faucet. You can also choose to go with a water filter pitcher. These are great if you want to keep your water cold in the fridge. The filtered water will taste much better than water straight from the tap.

I have a fruit infuser water pitcher that I really like. You can use it to infuse fruits into your water for enhanced flavor. My favorite is lemon, but I like blueberries and raspberries too. It also comes with a tea infuser, so you can make fruit flavored tea. The ice core is great as well since it keeps your drink cool and you don’t have to worry about it getting watered down.

Hopefully these tips will help you learn to love water. It will certainly aid in your weight loss efforts. Choosing water over sugary drinks alone can drastically improve your health, so make the choice to drink water and be healthy!

 

Keep It or Toss It? Decluttering Made Easy!

If you know that clutter is taking up too much space in your home, you have taken the biggest step. Yes, admitting any problem is the most difficult part of solving the problem. But now that you know clutter is a major issue, what next? Well, I am here to help you answer that question. Knowing what to keep and what to toss can be tricky. After all, you never know when you might need some of those things you are holding on to. And if you’re being honest, you know that it can be downright hard to let go of some things. I am right there with you, my friend. I have had to go through the same frustrations myself. So to help you overcome this problem, I have put together some tips. Getting rid of clutter can be easy! Just take it one step at a time, and before you know it, your home will be clutter free.

So my advice is to just pick a room and start working. If you find there is too much in a space to let go of, pick another place and come back later. I started in my bathroom cabinets. Let me tell you, I had more personal care products than I knew what to do with. Why I actually kept 15 bottles of lotion and 12 different brands of hair gel, who knows… but they were filling the cabinets, and I could find other ways to use that space. So I purged. But I started there because I knew it would be the easiest. I had no emotional attachment to a can of hair spray that I never used or a bottle of perfume from ten years ago.

The first thing you need to do is visualize what you want the space to look like. Obviously you want it free of clutter, but what does that really look like to you? If clutter has overtaken your life, you may not know what your living room looks like without piles of magazines and newspapers or extra furniture that you don’t need. Visualize it. Think about what you want to see when you walk in that room. Keep this vision in mind, and make it your goal. For my bathroom cabinets, I wanted to be able to open them and actually see what’s inside, and I wanted to use the space to keep bath towels and wash cloths. Before decluttering, I only saw piles of stuff.

Do you actually use the item? This is the biggest question to ask yourself. If a bottle of lotion had been in my bathroom cabinet for more than a year and I hadn’t used it, I threw it away. It was obvious that I would never use it, so why keep it? This question is really helpful in the kitchen. Do you actually use all three of those crock pots? Pick which one is your favorite and donate the rest. Some kitchen gadgets are simply not necessary, so determine which ones you use and which ones you don’t, then donate the rest. Clothing is another thing that can be difficult to purge. If you haven’t worn an item in a year, then you probably won’t, so donate it. If clothing is out of season, pack it up for next season when you will need it. This will also help your closet look a lot more organized, and you will spend much less time looking for something to wear every day.

Getting rid of the clutter in your home will help you have a more simple life, and can bring you more peace. It will be easier to clean your home, you will have less stress, and you will find that you have more space than you thought. And believe it or not, you will find that you have more time on your hands. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may think, so start today. Take your time, and before you know it, you will see your home become the haven you have always wanted.

Three Tips For Keeping Your Microwave Clean!

Okay, so let’s be real for a minute. How does the inside of your microwave look? If you’re like most of us, it could probably use a little cleaning. I would be lying if I said that mine is always clean. With four people using it, I find myself wiping it out pretty often. If you use your microwave frequently, it can be difficult to keep clean, but with just a little effort, it is possible.

Microwave1. Cover food while cooking/heating. This is the biggest one, as it prevents food from splattering all over the microwave, cutting down on the time you spend cleaning. You can use plastic wrap for this, but be sure to cut some holes for ventilation to prevent a food explosion. There are also covers called splatter guards that you can purchase for around $5. These are plastic, but there are some that are bpa free, so you won’t have to worry so much about chemicals leaching into your food.

2. Wipe with a sponge daily. After dinner, as a part of cleaning the kitchen, simply wipe out the microwave. Again, this prevents messes from becoming too much to handle, and it only takes a few seconds.

3. Steam clean weekly. This is so easy! Simply fill a microwave safe bowl with half water and half vinegar. Heat until the mixture is boiling and creating steam. Let sit for a couple of minutes so the steam can soak into any soiled surfaces. Remove the bowl (carefully, as it will be hot!) and wipe out the microwave with a sponge. Not only does this remove food and hard to remove splatters from the microwave, but it also sanitizes, killing any bacteria that may be in there.

No one wants to heat or cook food in a nasty microwave. Following these three tips will help keep yours clean!