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Joelle Embres' Blog

By Joelle Embres | Agent in Parkland, FL
  • Donations needed for Thanksgiving Baskets by November 2

    Posted Under: General Area in Coral Springs, Quality of Life in Coral Springs, In My Neighborhood in Coral Springs  |  September 11, 2012 12:39 PM  |  1,924 views  |  No comments

    Donations needed for Thanksgiving Baskets by November 2

    The City’s annual Thanks For Giving event that relies on community help to donate items for Thanksgiving baskets that go to families in need. Residents and business owners are asked to give to this worthy cause as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

    Since 1988, volunteers have made 4,335 baskets for local families. Needed non-perishable items include: canned yams, mashed or flaked potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, canned corn and green beans, canned fruit, and cookies. People also can give monetary contributions to the cause.

    Donations can be dropped off at: City Hall, 9551 W. Sample Road; City Hall in the Mall, 9239 W. Atlantic Blvd.; Coral Springs Gymnasium, 2501 Coral Springs Drive. All donations must be made by Friday, November 2.

    All donated items are placed in baskets, along with a gift certificate for a turkey, ham or main dish, and distributed through local religious institutions to pre-selected families. For more information, call 954-345-2211.

  • Barbeque Cleaning (edit/delete)

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 27, 2012 8:53 AM  |  499 views  |  No comments

    It is the first really warm spring weekend, the flowers are blooming, the grass is green, the bugs are biting, what a perfect day for a barbeque! Only after dragging out the patio furniture, grabbing a cool drink and pulling a couple steaks out of the freezer do you open the cover on the barbeque. The thoughts race through your mind….. we actually ATE food cooked on this thing? Did winter begin before we cleaned up after our last barbeque? Can we afford a new barbeque?

    I actually had a lengthy conversation with a friend on the merits of buying a high end barbeque. His thoughts were, that no matter how nice the barbeque, it still needed to be cleaned. He figured that instead of buying an expensive stainless steel unit, he would just buy a cheap barbeque every other year, and then give it away to charity at the end of the second summer instead of having to ever do a thorough cleaning. This works for him, partially because he has more money than brains, but for the rest of us, we usually have to get that old barbeque to be semi-sanitary again.

    Usually the most disgusting part is the grill and the bottom of the barbeque. Remove the grill, and place it on a newspaper outside. Spray it with oven cleaner, and cover it with a plastic garbage bag. Let it sit overnight, and the next day remove the grill and flip the bag inside out to contain the grease and oven cleaner saturated newspaper. Be certain to wear gloves, as oven cleaner is VERY caustic, and it can burn the skin very easily. Rinse the grill off with your garden hose, but try not to wash the chemical into your lawn, as it has a tendency to kill it.

    The grill may not be perfect, however the bulk of the burnt on grease should come off with the oven cleaner. As a bachelor, I used the argument that the burnt on residue added to the flavor of subsequent meals. That argument went out the window with my old rugby shirt the day I got married, mind you it is probably for the better. There have been studies finding that the carbon deposits from burnt animal fat can be carcinogenic, so there certainly is reason to keep your grill clean.

    If you have lava rocks in your barbeque, remove them (Bang them off, but don’t wash them) to get at the burner and all the gunk at the very bottom. If possible, remove the burner from the barbeque. Spiders love to set up house inside of the venturi tubes (the one or two tubes leading from the temperature dial, to the burner). You can clean the tube up to the burner using a pipe cleaner, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but the less debris there is to clog up all of the tiny element holes the more even you will find the heating. You can actually go around the element, poking each of the holes with a pin to be certain the gas can get through each opening.

    Scrape as much of the grease, rust, lava rock chips, carbon residue, from the bottom of the barbeque. There is likely even a little hole where excess grease will drain down into an old soup can. Be sure it is not clogged, and it is helpful if the collection can is present.

    While the whole barbeque is disassembled, you can rinse it down with your garden hose. Keep in mind that you will likely need to clean your patio or deck when you are done, so do your barbeque first! The outside of the cast aluminum or cast iron lid can be cleaned with a mild detergent, and rinsed well. Failure to rinse thoroughly, may leave a white soap residue, however even with thorough rinsing, the barbeque may still look rough after wintering the elements for a few seasons. Most home center’s carry barbeque paint, this time of year, which is a high temperature flat black paint. It will make your barbeque look almost new, however there is no better idea than to protect the original finish with a $20 barbeque cover.

    There are several different types of grills, including stainless steel, chrome, ceramic coated metal, and plain old iron. Use caution when cleaning a ceramic grill, as abrasive metal brushes can scratch the finish and cause premature failure. With iron grills, season them before using. After the grill has been cleaned with soap, brush with a light coat of cooking oil, and put the barbeque on high heat for 15 to 30 minutes. Some people recommend brushing your grill with oil each time you cook, as it will prevent food from sticking, however a chef I know told me when cooking a steak, you only flip it over when it lets go of the grill itself. If it holds on, let it cook longer, until it looses its grip. And then you flip it ONLY once. I think the best advice is do what works for your style of cooking and your barbeque.

    Re-assemble your barbeque, placing the lava rocks DIRTY side down (to burn off the excess grease) and take it for a test run. Once you hook up your propane tank, get a cup of soapy water, and rub it over the connections and hoses. If there is any bubbling, shut of the gas and do not use the until a professional has checked out the entire assembly (tank and barbeque). When turing on the propane tank, open the knob only half a turn. The barbeque will still get enough gas, and if there is an emergency, it can be turned off with one quick turn, in a matter of seconds. For the first use of the season, it is wise to let the barbeque run on high for 45 minutes or an hour, to burn off all the soap, mildew, bacteria, mold, bugs, moisture, oven cleaner, excess grease, and all of the other things that make barbequing outside the best part of summer!!

    Happy grilling!

  • Stay Cool Summer Cleaning Tips

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 27, 2012 8:49 AM  |  505 views  |  No comments

    Stay Cool Summer Cleaning Tips



     Want to cut down on mold growth in your bathroom grout and shower tracks? Keep your bathroom exhaust fan running while you take a bath or shower and for 30 minutes afterward. It helps eliminate excess mold.

    Stop dirt in its track.

     Your best home investment in summer, bar none, is a sturdy nylon mat—one for each doorway. A no-shoes rule also helps cut down on dirt; create shelving near an entrance where shoes can be left and retrieved easily.

    No-scrub showers.

     There's nothing I hate more than cleaning a hot humid shower stall during summer. That's why I love the Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner. Its heavy-duty formula is sprayed on all four walls automatically, at the touch of a button. You don't even have to wipe it down, and it will clean soap scum and mold and mildew stains over time. This is truly the no-sweat way to always have a clean shower.

    Mirror patrol.

     Mirrors get gunky faster in summer due to the high humidity. Schedule a "Glass Patrol Day" to clean all your glass surfaces in one fell swoop with Windex® Original Glass Wipes.

    Cleaner toilets, faster.

     Cleaning toilet bowls is one of my least favorite chores, especially in summer, when bathrooms really steam up. The textured scrubby pad on the Scrubbing Bubbles® Fresh Brush® 2-in-1 Toilet Cleaning System cuts down on hard-scrubbing time and scrubs better than an ordinary toilet brush. And it's so easy—the long handle helps your hands stay clean.

    Soap alert.

     A hair conditioner I loved always left a ring around my tub. A bath soap my husband also favored left chalky white residue on the shower walls. So we tried out different soaps to see which left the least residue. Keep experimenting until you find what's right for you.

    Dust busting.

     The Pledge® Multi Surface Duster is such a joy to use. It includes a unique multi-surface spray right in the handle—and the fluffy fibers are especially designed to optimize your dust pickup. The bendable head and extra long handle let me dust hard-to-reach areas easily. It just seems to make my dusting go faster, and all that's left behind is a great shine.

    Easy organizers.

     Summer homes seem to accumulate paper of all kinds—extra bills, receipts, tickets, souvenirs, etc. If kids come home with artwork, display it immediately on the fridge with magnets, and then eventually transition it to a Ziploc® Brand Big Bag for longer-term storage. Be sure to mark the bag with your child's name and year. Tack important numbers (for physicians, babysitters, police, fire control, poison center, travel agents, taxis) inside a kitchen cabinet. Designate one drawer just for stubs and receipts and keep them organized in a Ziploc® Brand Container or Ziploc® Brand Storage Bag.

    Cool down and filter.

     Air conditioning does more than keep your home cool. It allows you to keep windows closed so dust stays outdoors. If you like to keep windows open, use window filters that keep airborne particulates and dust out of your home. I purchased mine at my local hardware store and I love them—they also keep out pollen!

    Spot-free sink spouts.

     Wiping your stainless steel fixtures with Pledge® Multi Surface Cleaner will help remove dust buildup, smudges and smears easily.

    Spill-free refrigerators.

     Place shelf liners, available in grocery stores, in your refrigerator drawers. When they become soiled, just replace them and wipe the sides and fronts of the drawers clean—no need to take the drawers out of the fridge.

    Sweet-smelling trash cans.

     Garbage smells even worse in summer heat, but you don't have to commit to heavy scrubbing. Just store extra liners on the bottom of your trash can to protect it from spills and leaks. If a bag gets soiled, just discard it; otherwise, pull up the next bag as your liner. And summer is a great time to spray down your cans outdoors with a hose and a little dish soap—think about doing it when you wash your car.

    Paper is not evil.

     Summer party guests at my home eat on paper plates during informal gatherings. I'd rather be spending time enjoying their company than cleaning up afterward.

  • Organization holds food giveaway in fight to end hunger

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Miami, In My Neighborhood in Miami  |  June 19, 2012 7:12 AM  |  538 views  |  No comments

    Organization holds food giveaway in fight to end hunger


    A South Florida organization is working to provide a helping hand to those in need.

    Curley's House held a food giveaway Monday morning along Northwest 60th Street and Sixth Court in Miami.

    Dozens lined up to receive their box of prepackaged food.

    The organization's outreach is fighting to end hunger in our communities.

  • New memorial in So. Fla. to honor 9/11 victims

    Posted Under: General Area in Miami, Quality of Life in Miami  |  June 15, 2012 12:50 PM  |  525 views  |  No comments

    New memorial in So. Fla. to honor 9/11 victims

    a ceremony will be held for the unveiling of a memorial honoring the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

    A steel beam removed from the rubble at the World Trade Center will take center stage at a new public park on Brickell Avenue.

    Miami joins Plantation, Miramar and North Lauderdale in having a piece of the wreckage on display.

  • Father, daughter meet for first time

    Posted Under: General Area in South Florida, Quality of Life in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 15, 2012 12:44 PM  |  348 views  |  No comments

    Father, daughter meet for first time

    A social media site is responsible for bringing a South Florida woman face-to-face with her father for the first time.

    Fifty-year-old Zoraida Soto of Pompano Beach waited anxiously at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Thursday, for a man whom she had never met. "My mind is going a million miles a minute. I'm excited," she said.

    She was waiting for the arrival of Jose Quiles, her father. She said, "I'm gonna meet my father after 50 years, for the first time."

    Soto was only two months old when she and her mother had to leave her father behind in Puerto Rico to live with family in Chicago. "He got home, we weren't there," said Soto, "so he's been looking for me for all these years."

    According to Soto, she thought her father was dead for many years.

    However, thanks to Facebook, the 74-year-old eventually found his long-lost daughter. Upon their reunion, they shared tears, kisses, hugs, laughs and love. "He says I look just like him. I was wondering where I got this nose," Soto laughed.

    Not only does Quiles have his daughter back; he now has four grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. The family was reunited just in time for Father's Day. Soto said, "It's beautiful to see and meet your father after all these years, and on Father's Day, too."

    Quiles said this Father's Day will be the best one of all.

  • Coral Springs school starts green project

    Posted Under: General Area in Coral Springs, Quality of Life in Coral Springs, Schools in Coral Springs  |  May 31, 2012 6:32 AM  |  704 views  |  No comments

    At the top of a special tree at Forest Hills Elementary School, a bird feeds worms to her babies in a nest.

    This scene greets students and faculty every time they take a walk through the Coral Springs school's new Project Planeteer, an eco-friendly oasis dedicated to getting the kids excited about preserving the environment.

    The scene is the apex to the centerpiece of the project — a mural that features a towering tree adorned with a bear, owl and lots of foliage. The wall painting overlooks a budding garden with purple, blue and red flowers, shiny stone paths, a rain barrel, water tunnels and a sign that reads "Butterflies welcome here."

    For kids to realize they're the caretakers of the environment is huge for our future," Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said. "Anything that offers our kids an opportunity to learn something that relates to the real world is key."

    Runcie was among the dignitaries on hand to help plant the garden's first flora. Another was Principal Barbara Rothman.

    "This outdoor learning lab is a dream come true," Rothman said.

    During the project's kickoff event, the Planeteers (students involved in the project) gave facts about the environment, such as the importance of keeping soil healthy so plants can thrive.

    "Our mission as Planeteers: using, reusing and recycling," they chanted in unison as their final proclamation.

    A Project Planeteer T-shirt was given to the many who donated time, supplies and funds to the project.

    The T-shirt features a bear standing on the Earth saying "Remember … recycle!" It was designed by fifth-grader Michelle Holguin.

    "It's really cool they chose my design," she said. "I just did it for fun and to help the environment."

    The eco-friendly theme extended throughout the school. Each class combinedDr. Seuss' "The Lorax" into activities that integrated science exploration and unity. In this spirit, students teamed up to create a quilt, with each patch expressing how they would save the environment.

    Planeteers also sold lollipops at the end of each school day to raise funds for the sanctuary, which Forest Hills plans on expanding into an organic edible garden.

    "The energy created by this project at the school has been so amazing; the kids have gotten so into the environment and recycling," said Izzy Goldberg, a retired art teacher who created the mural with kindergarten teacher Lydia Pizzirusso.

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