Five Ways to Spruce Up Your Home This Season

Knee-deep in spring-cleaning? This may be the right time to not only tidy up, but makeover your home too with some spring style. Color changes and unique accessories can make a facelift easy and inexpensive.

Reuse, recycle and rearrange

The most simple and low-cost way to update a room in your home is to rearrange the furniture. Move sofas closer to the windows or place sitting chairs at an angle to give a room new life. Switch up pillows and throws throughout the house by changing what room you use them in and update photo frames with new family pictures from the year. The best part: It’s all free!

Accessorize with pops of color

Swap neutrals and dark tones for lively robin-egg blue, bright yellow or bold red. “One pop of these colors in artwork or a lamp always brightens a room,” says Vanessa De Vargas, owner of the interior design firm Turquoise. Make an old piece new again, such as a side table, with spray-paint. “These personal items become conversation pieces that tell a special story.”

Bring in patterns

Instantly update multiple rooms by swapping heavy, dark linens for light fabrics. “Brighten a sofa with colorful patterned throw pillows; place a patterned blanket over the arm of your sofa or end of the bed; and use colorful striped towels in the bathroom for a clean resort look,” says De Vargas. Lastly, trade dark drapes for bright shades, which will add luz and warmth to a room.

Paint an accent wall

Painting an accent wall in a main room of your home is the perfect statement-making, yet inexpensive update. “If you want to think a little outside the box, stencil a design against the back wall of your dining room.”

Spring Refresh: Organizing Small Spaces

If you don’t have thousands of square feet at your disposal, it doesn’t mean your home needs to be filled with clutter. “Live with what you use and love,” says Kittie Lonsdale, design and small-space organization expert of Lifestyle Space Design. Use that motto, along with a few design tricks and organizational tips, to have your small space working for you in no time.

Tips for Organizing Small Spaces

Start by paring down what you have. “If you haven’t used something in the last year, it’s likely you don’t need it,” says Lonsdale.

  • Put it away when you have it in your hand. Everything should have a place.

  • Uno in, uno out. Keep the balance by purging every time you buy something new.

  • Invest in organizers. Hang organizers on the insides of closet doors, such as a jewelry armoire with mirror, a shoe rack or a metal basket system to put dead space to work.

  • Throw away basura bins. Instead, install trash bag holders inside cabinet doors in the bathroom and kitchen to clear valuable floor space.

Tricks for Decorating Small Spaces

Using her experience living in a 10 by 17 foot studio, Lonsdale says simple design techniques will open up any small space.

  • A narrow room will appear wider by placing furniture, such as a sofa, across the space.

  • A pair of mirrors facing each other on opposite sides of a room will have the effect of widening it. “If they are adjacent to windows, they will multiply the view,” says Lonsdale.

  • Create an entry “zone” -- even in a studio. Place a narrow glass shelf and mirror behind the door, and a single flower in a bud vase on the shelf for welcoming feel.

  • Keep furniture low so it doesn’t interfere with sight lines. “The eye will travel around the room uninterruptedly, and it will feel larger,” says Lonsdale.

  • Paint the walls an “expanding” color, such as light green, blue or gray. Next to white trim, it will look clean and sophisticated, and make the space look bigger.

Food Storage Made Easy

Keeping your cocina stocked with fresh foods is a great way to ensure a healthy diet for la familia. But a big shopping trip can become messy if you forget what you bought. Avoid wasting comida and dinero by properly storing all your food items, with tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Food Storage Made Easy

A stocked refrigerator can be a blessing, but “it’s a good idea for people to think about air flow and make sure they can see that air will be able to circulate,” says Kasey Christian, a spokesperson with the NCHFP team. Avoid overcrowding by cleaning out the refrigerator regularly. A full freezer, on the other hand, is more energy efficient than a partially filled one. To stay organized, Christian recommends keeping a list of what you put in and when it was packaged. When shopping, note “sell by” and “use by” dates.

Storing Hierbas: Dried herbs and spices should be stored in airtight containers, in a dry space away from heat or light (think: clean cupboard). Herbs stored in the cupboard can be kept for one to two years, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Fresh herbs require more maintenance to last. Herbs such as basil and cilantro can be stored for up to a week on a table or countertop, in a glass with about one inch of water. Be sure to trim the ends before placing in the glass. Herbs can also be wrapped in a moist paper towel and stored in a re-sealable bag. Different herbs need different levels of moisture: cilantro and parsley need more, while herbs such as rosemary and thyme need less.

Storing Verduras: Most fresh vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within an hour of purchasing at the grocery store, with the exception of veggies such as sweet potato, tomatoes and onions. Colorado State University provides the following guidelines for storing commonly consumed vegetables in the refrigerator.

  • Corn and mushrooms - Up to two days
  • Green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and peppers - Up to one week in the refrigerator
  • Carrots - Up to two weeks in the refrigerator

Storing Fruta: Most fruits can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, with the exception of apples, avocados and bananas. Peaches, nectarines, pears and plums should ripen at room temperature before refrigerating. Check all fruit before refrigerating to make sure there isn’t any mold (or remove any moldy pieces) to prevent spreading.

  • Berries such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries - Up to two days
  • Green and red grapes, peaches and pears once ripe: Up to five days
  • Cut melons such as cantaloupe and honeydew - Up to one week
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit - Up to three weeks

Storing Carnes: Meats are the most important food to refrigerate or freeze immediately after purchasing: They should never be left out for more than 1-2 two hours. When storing meat in the freezer for longer than two weeks, take it out of its original packaging and store in a freezer storage bag.

  • Chops (lamb, pork, veal) - Up to four days refrigerated; up to six months in freezer
  • Ground meat - Up to two days refrigerated; up to four months in freezer
  • Steak - Up to four days refrigerated; up to one year in freezer
  • Lunch meats - Up to four days refrigerated; up to two months in freezer
  • Cooked meats - Up to four days refrigerated; up to three months in freezer
  • Chicken and turkey - Up to two days refrigerated; up to one year in freezer

Peso por Peso: Invest & Build Your Wealth

Making a resolution to invest this year, but don’t know where to begin? Las Fabulosas sits down with financial planning expert, Louis Barajas, to find the best financial strategies. According to Barajas, it is important to look at your life in defining milestones. “Look at goals beyond today -- wedding, home, kids, college -- then it becomes clear how important it is to start saving,” says Barajas. Here he shares three tips for building wealth through investments.

Build a Cash Foundation

Before you can begin investing it is important to build a liquid foundation for everyday emergencies. A common misconception is how large this fund needs to be. Barajas suggests a healthy base is around $2,000, or a similar amount that could cover a health issue or car problem that may arise unexpectedly.

Invest in Retirement

Once you have a cash foundation, it is time to start investing. Where is the first place to put your money? “Retirement,” says Barajas. “Work to achieve a well-diversified portfolio with different asset classes.” He also notes that if you are investing in real estate, it is extremely important to have your accountant look at the deal first. “You want to make sure it cashes out before you end up losing money sustaining the property,” says Barajas.

Automate Savings

Barajas stresses how crucial it is to get started right away. “Don’t just make a resolution, go right to the bank and start a system for saving.” Automate your savings and investments by having them taken right out of your paycheck before you even see it. “To make something powerful, you need to make it practical. Keep it simple,” says Barajas.

Familia Summer Barbeques

With a month left of summer vacation, kids -- and padres -- want to spend as much time eating al fresco. Las Fabulosas serves up ideas for grilling up yummy meals and chevre backyard activities for any age.

All-Americano: Micro-burger Sliders

Start by heating up mini challa bread buns, or any other sweetened bread, on the grill until crisp and brown around the edges. Then divide your ground beef into three-ounce patties and cook until medium rare. Next grill finely diced onions and peppers and serve as garnish. Finally, smear a teaspoon of goat cheese on the top bun for your mini-cheeseburger.

Fun Actividad: Speaking of bite-sizes, ever thought of setting up a mini-golf course or a mini-bowling lane in your back yard? Though game sets can be as complex as you want, there are also very simple ways to set them up. Creating a bowling lane is as simple as setting ten water-filled plastic bottles at the end of a grass lane that’s outlined with streamers.

Latin Savor: Grilled Shrimp with Ajo

Add and wisk fresh thyme, fresh garlic, ground red pepper, salt and black pepper into a half-cup of olive oil in a bowl. Next, slide your shrimp onto bamboo skewers and marinate them with a brush. Leave shrimp on the grill for about two minutes on each side. While the shrimp is cooking, fill up a separate pot with a half-cup of olive oil. Add thinly diced garlic, and heat up to 275 degrees F, never reaching a boil. When the garlic chips look crispy, pour a few spoonfuls of the garlic oil over the shrimp and serve. For an extra garnish, top your dish with chopped cilantro.

Fun Actividad: Nothing announces the arrival of summer eating like the clanks of horseshoes in the backyard. But since the metal variety can wreak havoc on your backyard, use a plastic set that comes with pins and horseshoes. Your home will be a popular destination all summer long.