Showing posts with label Cleaning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cleaning. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How I Get Things Done: Doing 5 Things In One Area


I am often asked how I get things done. I know I am a single mother with busy kids so that means I have to get things done. Of course, I enlist my kids into helping because, most of the time, it is their mess. At the end of the day, though, most of the work falls on me to keep the house running smoothly and to get things done.

I often don't feel like doing anything. Morning is my best time to get things done because I am tired at night after being at work most of the day. When I get home, I don't want to do anything including cooking. I often have prepping and homesteading tasks to accomplish. I have blogging to do. I have an Ebay store that needs daily attention. 

I have things to do! 

Crazy, right?

This is how I get things done: I choose an area and get five things done in that area. 

I will grab a piece of scratch paper or use my Any.DO app on my phone and make a list of five things I want to get done. I often will have a list for the morning and one for the evening. My morning list will usually have errands I need to run in town. I also focus attention on and have a list of five things to do in my Ebay store and for my blogging activities in the mornings. 

My evening list is usually more specific to an area at home that needs attention. I do most of my homesteading tasks in the evenings. Most of my prepping activities will be in the evenings. Most of my major housework will be in the evenings. Altogether it is really overwhelming, but by breaking down the tasks and focusing on one area, I can get more done.

I like to have my list written down or noted on the Any.Do app so I can keep on task. I am way too easily distracted and will lose focus easily. I need to see the list in print to keep on task!

For an in-house example of what I would do: If I am in the living room, I will put five things away. Usually that alone makes a huge difference! I will fold the blankets and put them away, put the throw pillows back on the furniture, make the kids pick up the toys, put away read books and magazines, and put the dirty dishes in the kitchen. The living room is instantly looking better and I feel accomplished.

For a more specific example, this was yesterday's list:
Buy garlic to plant in the garden
Plant garlic in the garden
Stake the area planted and put twine around the stakes for a barrier
Buy pots for the herbs
Repot the outdoor herbs and bring them inside for the winter.

I also pulled up the tomatoes plants while I was out there waiting for the kids to find the twine and stakes. I should have been more efficient and brought them out with me! But that is life sometimes!

That list was all about gardening and I felt great getting that all done! Especially with colder weather coming this week!

When I make a list of five, I am doing it to keep the list and my life simple. I don't feel overwhelmed. I am doing what I can in this area at that moment. I still make supper, do dishes, and do laundry, but I am getting more done than the basics.

The side benefit of doing five things is that I can stop there and feel great about what I have done. Usually though, when I start doing those five things, I start doing more during or after those five things are done. Case in point: pulling up the tomato plants while I was waiting for the kids. 

Depending on where you are at in life, your list might be different. I remember my kids being little and thinking that having five toys picked up was a great achievement! The joy of the list of five is that you can make suit your life and where you are at in life. 

How do you get it all done? Do you use this method too?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Don't Throw Away Those Old Bed Sheets: 22 Ways to Reuse Old Bed Sheets!


Do you have this problem - a pile of old bed sheets that for whatever reason are not suitable for your bed anymore? Or your kids are not into Barbie anymore? Or the dog decided to play tug of war with them while drying on the clothes line? (Real story!)

What to do with them? I hate to throw them out. I tried to give away the kids' sheets to friends or family when my kids outgrew them. However, I still have a pile of old sheets that I keep around just in case.

I am huge believer in reusing and recycling whatever I can. I know people who throw away their old sheets which seems like a huge waste to me. Those sheets have at least twenty-two ways they can be reused!

1. Make cloth napkins. Cut the sheet in fourteen inch squares and hem the edges.

2. Cut them in quilt squares. Just make sure to label them if they are 100% cotton or cotton blend. According to my mother, you want use similar materials when making quilts.

3. Use them as paint drop cloths, either under you or the project as you paint.

4. Cut into cleaning cloths if the material seems to be absorbent. Again, I would hem or run a stitch around the edge of the squares.

5. If the material is good enough, you can make shirts, skirts, boxers, or little sundresses out of the sheets.

6. Make pillows.

7. Make curtains.

8. Make bandages for the first aid kit. Just tear in 3 and 4 inch wide swathes to use on wounds or to use with a tourniquet. 

9. Make ghost costumes for Hallowe'en.

10. Make play curtains and tablecloths for play houses for kids.

11. Cover seats in vehicles to protect the seats.

12. Cover and protect furniture from grimy kids, pets, etc.

13. Protect plants from frost.

14. Use as shade in the summer from the sun.

15. Use when you go camping for bedding. No need to take the good stuff when it will just get really dirty!

16. Tear into strips and make a mummy costume for Hallowe'en.

17. Make them in togas for a costume party. Toga!

18. To wrap around objects when moving.

19. Use as a backdrop for pictures to look more professional.

20. Lay down on the ground to sit on or have a picnic on.

21. Use as a tablecloth when eating outside.

22. Make an inside fort by draping the sheet over a table.

How would you reuse those old sheets?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent Revisited

I don't usually mess with my recipes once I make them. Especially my cleaning recipes. If they work, why mess with them?

Also I hate to fail. Usually failure costs money and I hate wasting money too.

The truth is that I liked my homemade laundry detergent, but I wasn't in love with it. It worked great, but I thought it could do better. I didn't like what it was doing with my whites, but I have resigned myself to a lifelong affair with OxyClean. I guess that makes me a little demanding, but I can live with that.

Also I wanted to find something that killed the smell of clothes that have been a car too long. Those who have teenagers in sports might feel my pain.

I started doing some research and found that just about everyone makes their laundry detergent just a little differently. Some recipes have more borax than I used. Some recipes used more bar soap. Some added essential oils. Some omitted the borax altogether.

So many options...more confusion for me....

I finally decided to mess with my original laundry detergent recipe. I felt a little hesitate to do this. I decided to add another bar of soap and a 1/2 cup more borax.

Revised Homemade Laundry Detergent



6 Cups Hot TapWater
1 Fels-Naptha Soap Bar
1 Soap Bar of Your Choice (I use Yardley)
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax

1. Grate both bars of soap into a 3 quart saucepan. Add 6 cups of hot tap water and stir. Melt the soap on medium low heat on the stove until completely melted.

2. Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. Add the washing soda and borax. Stir until dissolved. Add melted soap and stir again. It will start to gel.

3. Fill the bucket full with more hot tap water. Stir. Place lid on bucket and let sit for at least 8 hours so it can properly gel.

4. When ready to use, open lid and stir again to break it up and easy to scoop out.

5. To use, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of laundry detergent to your load depending on the size of your washer and the condition of your dirty clothes. I use 1 cup because I have a commercial grade super size washer.

As always you can add essential oils to give this laundry a light scent. Research combinations that work for you.

I love the results of this laundry detergent. I feel it does a better job of cleaning the clothes and getting the smell out of neglected practice clothes. I also like the light scent I get from using the second bar of soap although it is certainly not necessary.

Am I done experimenting? No. I want to get to using products that are non-toxic and I am not there yet. I also want to try using castile bar soap in place of either Fels Naptha or the other bar soap. Both have some questionable ingredients that I would like to eliminate.

Sometimes messing with recipes pays off in the end!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

monday's homestead barn hop

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Simplify The Life and Mind: Home

Simplifying the life and mind is to get rid of the stuff not needed anymore. Needing less to live better.

When I talk about simplifying my life, I am not talking just about the material things I own. I am talking about the commitments I have, the obligations I try to meet, and the people in my life as well as our homes.

For now, I will talk about the home and things we have in it. As this series goes along, we will get to the rest of the simplifying of our lives. As you will see, this all flows together and one thing will lead to more.

In my home, the worse the house becomes, the worse I become. I become grouchy, disorganized, lazy, cluttered, emotional, and very frustrated. I like my house to be clean. Not a perfect clean, just a liveable clean. You will never see the dusting done every week and the dining room table totally cleared. But you will see things being picked up, put away, and cleared walkways. That is my goal every week.

What does your home look like? Is it something you can live with or is it cluttered with things?

Things can become the issue to simplified living. We have things that we become emotionally attached to for some reason or another. That can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. I always need to ask myself why I am attached to things. Too many things becomes a problem to living simply.

For example, my third daughter's room is a constant disaster. She is a collector of things. She finds a purpose for almost everything. While that can be an admirable trait, she is disorganized. She loses things very, very quickly. If she was clean and tidy, she would know that everything should have a place and put it there. If there is no space, the thing should find another home or she needs to discard something else. She could put something down and not be swallowed by the mess in her room.

Truth be told, my office could be considered a mess. I am constantly working on cleaning and organizing the desk and the room. I have learned to deal with the mail right away, to keep a big trash can in there under the desk, and not to keep even a piece a paper if I don't have a purpose for it. I do have a problem with getting things organized in a timely matter, but I try. Having it cleaned up and organized goes a long ways towards my sanity being intact.

So how can you apply this to your home? I have a few tips.

First thing I do is walk into a room and ask myself what bothers me about that room. Is it messy? Is it cluttered? Does it look like a museum of things? I will then proceed to mentally clean the room paying attention to all surfaces: floor, tables, furniture, shelves, counter tops  In the past, I have realized that I have way too many knickknacks, too many pillows, too many small appliances sitting out, too many cans and bottles on top of the  bathroom counter, too much furniture for one room, too many toys, etc.

Then I will go through that room, organizing and decluttering. For the kitchen I will look at what is sitting out on the counter. Sometimes we have small appliances sitting out that are not used daily. Find a place for them. I have cabinet where I stash mine at, but as you can guess, I had to clean that out first to make them fit. I have a lot of things in the kitchen that sit on the counters waiting to be put away in the basement or on the pantry shelves. I tackle that next. If I notice that my cabinets are cluttered, I will go through them and reorganize and get rid of unneeded items. Unbelievably, I can do this once a year and still get rid of a box of things.

Then I will clean the room paying attention to the surfaces of the room. Sometimes a problem comes up then that I didn't see before. Too many knickknacks, something the kids stash on a table behind something else, DVDs overflowing the shelves holding them, etc. I will declutter those items and keep cleaning.

Step back and take a look at your work.

Do you feel better? Do you like your sense of accomplishment? Do you feel calmer knowing that the room is clean and ready for you?

I love that feeling!

Simplifying life starts with you and your home. Starting with a calm, peaceful place for you to come home to will kick down the door to the rest of your life.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
Erica

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Decluttering Life and Mind

Lately I have been doing a lot of decluttering at home. As I alluded to in Monday's post, I have been noticing things. The more cluttered I am in mind, the worse the stress seems. If my house is really messy and very disorganized, I feel disorganized and sort of lost with what I need to do.

If I go through a pile of papers and deal with them, I feel better. If I clean, tidy, and organize a shelf, I feel better. I feel less stressed when I accomplish something. Going through a pile of papers is an accomplishment. Cleaning off a shelf is an accomplishment. Fixing the broken lampshade is an accomplishment.

I like feeling accomplished. It's good for my self.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a clean house. More times than not, I think we can be hard on ourselves about having a clean house and we unintentionally cause more stress. I can't have any more stress in my life. So having a perfectly clean house is not going to happen.

However, I like knowing where everything is. I like having a place for everything and for everything to be in place. When my house gets cluttered and disorganized, things are hard to find. I get stressed out, disorganized, and very cluttered in my mind. Then I tend to get angry and take that out on the people around me with unkind words and reactions. That is not the kind of home I want or life that I want to live.

What this all comes down to is the need to simplify. If I have too much stuff, too much clutter, and I struggle to find things, my life is not the simple life that I need to have. Part of living the simple life is being organized and getting rid of the clutter that intrudes on your life and mind.

I know people who have tons of things because of their jobs, hobbies, kids, and whatnot. You would never know they do because everything has a place and they are organized. They know they may need some tools and can find them right away. They have all the sports things put away and if that closet becomes too full, they declutter it and get rid of anything that is not needed anymore. Their lives are much more simple because they know where everything is and when they have no need of something anymore, they give it away.

That is the simplicity that I strive to achieve in my life. It is not difficult to get to this life. I will talk more about this next week.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
Erica

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Re-evaluating Routines

I have been re-evaluating our household routines for the last few weeks. What I was doing was not working anymore. I have been following FlyLady for quite some time now. She has been wonderful for decluttering my house and getting into a routine. She believes in baby steps and that worked for me, especially after my divorce when I was trying to get my feet back under me again. I would highly recommend her for anyone wanting to declutter their home and start a household routine.

In this stage of life, I am finding that this no longer works for me or for our household. Not that we are done decluttering. We are never done decluttering. That is a constant with a household of our size. But only working on one room a week with a weekly cleaning of the house? That is just not working anymore.

However, I will keep the doing of one load of laundry a day. That has been a game changer at our house! This makes laundry day look a lot more attractive! Shining the sink will also be kept. Believe it or not, I feel better seeing a clean, shining sink every night before I go to bed.

I have been reading Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman. I love this book! She gives so much great advice on how to manage a large family. One of the things that she does is have a day set aside for different things. She does Laundry Day on Monday, Kitchen Day on Tuesday, Office Day on Wednesday, and so on.

This routine appeals to me on so many levels. I would know on what day I am going to do something. No more trying to fit this in or overdoing on one day. She still emphasizes doing a daily house clean up which we do already.

In addition to this, I enjoy and follow the Today's Small Thing that Mrs. Ridge posts daily at the Home Sanctuary blog. I love the fact that she finds things to do that I would never have thought of. Some days the Small Thing might be something done around the house and some days they might be something for just you! I will continue to do because they are fun!

Now I just need to figure out my routine. I have a tentative idea of what it will be. I am sure this will need tweaking. I also need to write down my goals for each of the days so I have a list to work from. I may not accomplish everything on the list, but having something to aim towards helps so much.

So here is what my days will look like:
Monday: Office Day
Tuesday: Kitchen Day
Wednesday: Cleaning Day
Thursday: Gardening Day (summer, fall), Project Day (winter, spring); may also be a catch-up day
Friday: Errand Day (groceries, stores, etc.)
Saturday: Laundry Day
Sunday: Rest Day (because I firmly believe we need a day to relax!)

I realize this will take some tweaking. With kids being in sports, some of these days will get switched around depending on the priorities of that week. But I think it is workable! Now to get a list of goals for each day written down and posted for me to look at!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

All-Purpose Cleaner - DIY Style

I have been using this recipe for All-Purpose Cleaner for three months now and I love it. I had previously used Lysol 4-in-1 All Purpose Cleaner, but I did not love the toxicity of the cleaner. I use this now and I think this cleans and disinfects better than Lysol did.

I got this recipe from Better Basics for the The Home by Annie Berthold-Bond. Please check her book out! It rocks!

Basic Formula For Antiseptic All-Purpose Cleanser

Up to 1 teaspoon antiseptic essential oil (thyme, sweet orange, lemongrass, rose, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, birch, lavender, or tea tree)
1 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups hot water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve and blend the minerals. The author suggests spraying this cleanser onto a surface, then leave for 15 minutes or so before wiping it up with a rag, to give the essential oil's antiseptic qualities time to work.

I use sweet orange essential oil when making this because I love the citrus scent. I would also suggest buying a heavy duty or thicker plastic spray bottle. I tried to reuse the Lysol spray bottle, but after awhile the bottom bowed out making it impossible for the bottle to sit flat. I found that the borax is caustic and can cause this.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cleaning House Guilt

I have Cleaning House Guilt (CHG). Does anyone else ever get this? I think it should classified as an illness, but I doubt any doctor would take me seriously. I just know that when I get CHG, it takes over my life. I start to view myself as lazy and undisciplined. I come home from work, sit down for a few minutes and...see a mess. I see everything I promised myself I would get done. Yesterday. Three weeks ago. Last year.

The best way I can describe CHG is nesting for the unpregnant and unexpecting. I start feeling like my house has to be clean. My house needs to be in order and organized. My projects need to be done before summer is done and fall gets too chilly. Everything needs to be done before I contract Cold Weather Syndrome (CWS). Again, this is another "illness" that no doctor will take me seriously on. With CWS, I just want to hunker down under a blanket with my books, notebooks, laptop, and a TV remote. I don't want to move or go anywhere unless more of the same is involved. Sounds familiar to you all?

With CHG, I can not comfortably relax. I sit down in my recliner and then think "I should be doing this and then that. I can relax later." All I can think about is Dane is having his 7th Birthday Party on Friday with 20 of his classmates and a few other friends. Why should I feel like I need a clean house for a bunch of 6 & 7 year olds? Clean and then have to clean again? Seriously? CHG is an "illness" alright.

Is there a cure for this? No, unless a vacation to Hawaii is affordable. (And it's not right now.) So I am cleaning house and ignoring my other priorities in life except my kids and possibly Rob. The great thing about CHG is that the kids can be included. Kids can actually help reduce the symptoms by helping clean too! Awesome, yes? Kids like to be included and doing everything their parents do so this is a great way for everyone to spend quality time together. Just be sure to ask nicely, bribe maybe, and not scream at them. Screaming at kids is not good and provides unsatisfactory responses. We can't be having that.

So I will be coping with my CHG tonight by cleaning & mopping my front entry way and throwing my slipcovers in the washer tonight. Possibly trying to get more of Jordan's lovely possessions back into her room because I would like my living and dining rooms back.

Good luck coping with your CHG! Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

For the last year, I have been making my own dishwasher detergent. I use the powdered version as I haven't found a liquid one that I like and works well. My kids have their doubts on the powdered version working well, but if they would keep up on the dishes and not let the food dry to the dishes they would find out differently!

The great thing about this recipe is that it uses some of the same ingredients from the homemade laundry detergent. I like stuff like that - makes life easier!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

3 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
30 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
2-5 packets of unsweetened powdered lemonade (optional)

1. Mix washing soda and borax together in a container or bowl. I prefer to use the container that will be storing the detergent. Less mess.

2. Add the 30 drops of lemon oil in a random pattern. If you add it all in one location, you will have some clumping issues.

3. Mix the oil in the washing soda/borax. Using your hands works really well here because you can break up the lumps easier. Just make sure to wash your hands well afterwards!

4. You can be done at this point. I add the powdered lemonade to help clean the dishes as well as the dishwasher. That is optional, however.

For those with hard water, you might want to add some kosher salt (1/2 to 1 cup) to help soften the water and not have the detergent clumping in your dishwasher.

Just add 2-4 Tablespoons of the detergent to your dishwasher and start the machine. You can use less for lightly soiled dishes or light loads and more for full loads or heavily soiled dishes.

This does make a fairly good sized batch of dishwasher detergent. I like that because I don't have to make it as much!

Try this out and let me know!

Have a great day! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seven Ways to Save Money on Your Laundry!


Laundry can be so expensive! The cost of laundry detergent, the cost of electricity to run the washer/dryer, and the cost of the water used can add up quickly. The costs go up even further when you add in the extras like fabric softener, dryer sheets, and laundry boosters. 

I don't know about you, but I don't like wasting my money this way. Laundry doesn't have to be so expensive! 

I have several ways that I save money on doing laundry. Many of these ideas are not original and I give credit to those that I have taken them from. I just don't remember who you are! Thanks for the ideas though!

How can you save on your laundry? Let me count the ways...

1. Make your own laundry detergent! I have two recipes for homemade detergent: original and revamped! Both work very well and are very cheap!

2. Make your own washing machine cleaner! How? Fill your washer full of HOT water. Add one gallon of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Let the washer go through the wash cycle and then turn it to the spin cycle before it drains. (Open the lid during the wash cycle. You will either be amazed or grossed out by the stuff floating around the washer!) The vinegar also helps clean the hoses after the washer drains and makes your washer smell much better!

3. Cut your fabric softener sheets in half! I do use fabric softener sheets in the dryer when the weather turns cooler. I tear the sheets in half and use only one half in the dryer. They still get rid of static cling and soften the laundry just fine. I also only buy fabric softener sheets when I have high dollar coupons for them. 

4. Use vinegar in your rinse cycle! Using a 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle of the washer will help with the smell of the laundry and soften the clothes. The smell of vinegar will go away when the clothes whether you use the dryer or the clothes line/rack.

5. Use dryer balls! I use dryer balls when I dry towels to soften and fluff the towels. I don't use fabric softener sheets on towels. I know people who use dryer balls for all their laundry with good results.

6. Maintain your dryer! I use a Dryer Cleaning Kit to keep my dryer in tip top shape! By cleaning the vent and vent hose, your dryer will run more efficiently and will not have a reason to catch on fire! Also take an old toothbrush to your dryer filter so you will have a good air flow in and out of your dryer.

7. Hang your clothes up! Dry your clothes outside on the line or inside on the clothes rack - either way you save money! We all want lower utility bills and this is perfect way to do it! Your dryer will last longer too!

I hope you try these great ways to save money on your laundry! 

Thanks for reading, 
Erica

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