Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Full Swing of Things

So I'm making dinner right now - meatloaf tonight! - and as I was pulling supplies out of my pantry I wanted to write a quick post at the same time.  I want to show you a few things about my own pantry that help to keep me organized and save money at the grocery store.

Where I find many people have problems beginning the organization process is finding a starting point.  What I try to do is pair like items.  In order to show you what I'm talking about I'm going to walk you through how my pantry is separated.  First of all, what you can't see (until you see the next picture) is that there is a right side to this pantry.  This side that we're looking at now is my breakfast/lunch/snack side and the right side is dedicated to dinner/baking and supplies. Now, I've broken this down even further.  On the top left shelf I keep breakfast cereals, and on the top right boxed pasta.  I put these up top because their large boxes make them easy to see.  I'm short, so the top shelf is reserved for large, visible items. The next shelf you can sort of see that the left side has a shallow return to it; I keep snacks there.  Its visible for the kiddos and easy for me to just reach in and pull out raisins, or popcorn or whatever.  Then I have (left to right) crackers, chips, quick oats, oatmeal then we get into rices.  The next shelf is for breads, tortillas, and to the right there is peanut butter and back up jars of applesauce and pickles.  See the round thing?? Some of you may remember those as spice racks, I use/used it as a baby food holder. AMAZING! I put breakfast foods on top and dinner foods on the bottom and it worked wonders.  Now that my baby isn't really a baby any more I'm phasing it into my tortilla holder. Smart, huh? And you can see that sodas are on the bottom shelf, in that basket I keep odd powdered drinks like kool aid and lemonade.  So you can sort of see my distinction here between grains as well as items that would typically be used in association with other items. 

This side is the dinner/baking and supply side.  The top shelf is dedicated to items that are not used often.  The next shelf (from the left) has canned goods and then baking needs. The next has dry seasonings such as slow cooker packets, shake n bake, and soup mixes. Oils. And then Ziploc, cling wrap and tin foil.  The white tub on the far right houses all of our over the counter and prescription meds.  Its high enough the kids can't reach and its deep enough they can't even see whats inside.  The last shelf you can see I have two baskets of kitchen towels. The one on the left is bar towels that I use for cleaning. The basket on the right keeps the hand towels. I know you think I'm crazy now... Then I have kitchen bags that my son likes to pull out. Tucked in the corner is my stash of grocery bags (we are not that green). I like to use these for small trash cans in the bathrooms.  And the big box on the floor is our cardboard recycling but it doubles as endless fun for my toddler.

Before I go to the grocery store I plan the whole weeks dinners.  I write at the top of the page the dinners then I make a list of ingredients needed.  I go to the pantry and the refrigerator and cross off all the items I already have.  Then I have my list and I go shopping. Having my pantry organized so I can see what I have saves so much money because I'm not buying something I already have.  For working wives and moms, this will save you so much time! Make your dinner list the night before, check your supplies and get your shopping done quick the next day.

The other reason I wanted to write about this topic ( I know I've hit on it before) is because next week there will be a lot of places in our communities planning on making Christmas dinners for people who need a place to go or a free meal.  You can do a very small thing by cleaning out your pantry and in turn be someone else's Christmas miracle.  If you don't know where to donate, look up your local Catholic parish, many have a St. Vincent De Paul pantry. 

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Until next time...


P.S. oh, btw, the desk is coming. we didn't get it last weekend but my hopes are still high!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Office: the update

I can hardly contain myself. You think by this age I'd learn not to get my hopes up but I feel like a seven year old. I'm wondering if Christmas is coming early for me today!!

I told you in the last post that Hubby changes cars like he does socks. Well a deal might be going down today! And that means my we will go pick up my new desk this weekend!

If I sit and think about this too much I begin to examine what I am really getting excited about...the hours of frustration that will occur putting this huge desk together. Not to mention the countless interruptions from the little people.  Oh. Last but not least, putting all the junk up and realizing I need to spend even more money to get it to look just the way I want. I LIVE FOR THIS! Its progress people.  I've figured out that nothing in life is ever complete, it's all just progress.

I heard an amazing thing last night from Betty White of all people and I think everyone needs to meditate on this idea, "Don't look back and say 'that was great. I wish I would have appreciated it then as much as I do now.'" She said, "realize its great and appreciate it now."  We all turn into horses in December. You know how horses were those blinders on their eyes so all they can see is what is in front of them and nothing distracts them? Well, come December we all put on the blinders, where all we can see is Christmas and we ignore everything going on around us and just try to make it to the finish line.  Is this you? Are you just now realizing it's you?

I really hope you all are enjoying the little things going on around you. That you appreciate the little things you have and remember those that have not. 

Until next time....slow down and smell the pine trees!


P.S. I'll let you know if we get the desk! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Office Project: End of the Year

So, first I need you all to understand that since February of this year my family and I have been living out of boxes. Did you know that? Yep. And for a few months this summer in the midst of my hubby's work transfer we were shacking with family. Thank the good Lord that only lasted two and a half months because any longer and we might not be on speaking terms.  I might be exaggerating but I certainly didn't want to overstay our welcome and I was eager to get back to our family routines. Anyway, So we have been in our new house now for 5 months this week (where has the time gone!) and the last room still to be unpacked and settled is my home office. 

This weekend I began getting the room ready for the desk's mid-December arrival. (hoping!) This task quickly turned into something much greater than just making space for a desk. Something that had completely escaped me until this moment and then inspired this very post. It's the End of the Year. It is time to get our paperwork in order for the next 12 months. To set aside important tax documents. To make sure policies are current and placed in a safe location.  This is HUGE! And easy - or at least I hope I can show you how to make it easy. 

So I'm going to start by showing you some pictures of the office. Note that these are actually after shots. I have a lot of work ahead of me but this is what I live for.  I also hope that this dispels any illusions you have of my home as being a perfect clutter free environment. That is so false. But I try and this room is the black sheep of the house.

Are you shocked?? 

I picked up these bookshelves at Target for 30 bucks. It's functional, not gorgeous. But my hope is when its all said and done the bookshelves are simply a blank canvas to all of my treasures.  You also get a glimpse into my foyer though that door. 

This big, empty wall is where the desk will go. I know it doesn't look very big but with all the stuff in the way i couldn't get a good angle to take the picture. That miniature french door leads to the kitchen - cute huh?

And here (with the mini french door to the left) is my secretary.  I adore this piece of furniture. ahh.

Now I'm going to show you the central nervous system of our family's filing system.

Tidy, huh? This milk crate thing that the files are sitting in is my temporary travel container. But all the files are still relevant.  Here is a breakdown of subjects for the files. In front, the first one is titled work. this is where Hubby sticks all of his pay stubs. There are several times when your asked to show prior months pay stubs. A recent example for us is purchasing our new home. But I like to keep these things to keep track of vacation available and other pertinent information provided on these things.  Next is labeled 'Kids.'  Here I keep the kiddos shot records and school handbooks.  Next file is 'Dogs,' in which I keep vaccination records and AKC information.  Now a big one, 'House Invoices.'  I am not talking about bills here. I'm referring to things at our home which require quarterly or annual renewals such as our septic system maintenance or pest control contracts.  When the new one comes these get replaced.  Next file is for 'car titles.'  Those of you that know my Hubby know that he changes cars as frequently as he does socks.  So we keep these handy for the next sale/trade/barter.  And finally I have a file for items that I want to put in scrapbooks.  
Now for the next shocking photo:

This is all the junk I pulled out of it to shred.  All of this paperwork had been accumulated over the past 12 months and by simply going through it and purging the items that were outdated or obsolete I reduced the amount of paperwork we have by at least 80%. 

I mentioned bills earlier and this is how I keep bills organized...

I plan on getting an accordion folder that is a bit more attractive but this does the job. I keep each months bills in this folder and that way if i ever question paying a bill its here.  I never put a bill in here unless it has been paid. At the end of the year I put all of the year's bills into a zip lock bag and keep them for one more year.  Unlike taxes that you must keep for 7 years - if there is going to be a discrepancy in paying a bill it will usually be in the next 4-6 months.

Some of you may be thinking about the more important paperwork such as homeowners insurance, auto and life insurance, wills, tax information, birth/death/marriage paperwork and home valuables receipts and warranties. I keep all of that in their own folders inside of our fireproof safe.  Obviously, I'm not going to share that in the www for all to see. 

I hope that these labels though help you shuffle though what to keep and what not to keep. And I like the motto that if I haven't needed, seen or used it in the last six months - it needs to go. Now is a great time to start your new year off on an organized foot. If you have any questions about how to adapt filing to your personal needs post your questions. Until next time, Happy Cleaning!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project: Home Office

That's right! We're going to start our first project together, my home office!

The delay in starting this project until now has been finding (and being able to afford) the right desk for my needs.  I have an existing secretary that must stay in this room. If your eyebrow just raised, a secretary is a type of hutch and base where the center area folds down into a small writing surface.  I bought this gorgeous unit several years ago when I first moved to Atlanta. I love it! Anyway, finding something compatible is priority.

As far as function, I need a place not only to store items that don't need to be seen I also want a space to display a lot of my nick-knacks and chatchkis. I want something that will be able to store books, baskets and boxes. My electronic needs are not extensive. I have a desktop that I want to hook up as well as a printer, that's it. 

After MONTHS of looking this is what I have settled on:

It's Ikea. I have bought several pieces from them over the years and have always been impressed with how well they hold up considering the price.  I know its not exactly fine furniture, but I figure with two little ones I don't need to spend a whole lot of money on something that will probably have a princess sticker on it within 24 hours.

This office is going to be MY room. No kids allowed. I know Husband won't come in if that's where the bills are.  Bills are like his kryptonite.  This room is going to reflect all the books, pictures, artwork and other artsy, feminine things I have collected over the years.  This will be a place I can go to read, work and get inspired.  I can't wait to start this project and I am so happy you all are coming along. Your comments are always welcome. And there are two incredible designers that have always been my sounding board that I will particularly be interesting in hearing input from. ;)

Until next time, when I show you some scary pictures of what we're working with, Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Ooo. Also I'll be posting pictures from Christmas decorating here shortly after turkeyday!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Give a Little Love

Have you been bitten with the Holiday Bug yet?  Well maybe after reading this post about giving (and clearing out space doing so) you'll be more inclined to find the holiday station on the radio.

I know the next few weeks can be the craziest time of year for many of us. Especially those of you that actually host the holidays at your home, God bless your hearts.  But this is also the perfect time of year to clean out a few places in your home and make room for the goodies coming your way next month.

The Pantry -

If you look around you will find many places that are in need of food this time of year. Several churches collect food for food banks and soup kitchens. But one of my favorite places to donate canned and dry good to is the local senior center or retirement homes.  Our elderly are often forgotten when it comes to donations and food donations are a huge blessing.  Also, If you're feeling extra giving go sit with them and enjoy a cup of coffee. I promise you won't regret it and you'll probably hear a good story. If you have little ones, have them make a card or ornament. Maybe you teach them about giving through a Bible verse. Have them take it to the seniors. Your little people will warm their hearts and you'll teach the kids a great lesson too.

Closets -

Just open the door and take a look. I'll tell you what is in my hall closet: my vacuum, a couple of pictures I have no place for in the new house, a space heater, and board games. Does that sound familiar?? How about blankets and towels?? Clothes that you'll never wear again? As long as these things are gently used you can donate what you will not be using anymore.  Ask for a new set of towels for Christmas. Get new, age appropriate board games for the kids.  And that brings us to ...

Toys -

Get older kids involved or send little ones to Granny's for the afternoon. Grab a big box and dig in. There are several ways to recycle toys. Do you have a family friend you can pass them down to? a church that is taking toy donations? Goodwill?  How about a children's hospital?? or what about consignment sales?  Consigning takes a lot of time and dedication but at least you see a monetary return. But since this post is about giving I digress.  If your considering donating to a hospital be discerning. Toys with several loose parts and pieces probably won't be practical. But discovery tables, walkers and other self contained toys will be put to good use. If its your church ask the coordinator what might be needed and see if you have something useful.  Its important to remember that even though you are benefiting by clearing out some space in your own homes you don't want to burden the charities by giving them stuff they can't use.

I hope you all are inspired to give a little back this season. Its good deeds and giving that make heartwarming moments.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Whole Lot-a Holiday

Okay, first of all, I feel like I'm being slung-shot into the holidays this year. I want to scream at the TV and radio and say "stop it." I need a break. A week to catch my breath after Halloween. But that is not going to happen so, here we go.

So ultimately one of my major "to-do" projects is a full garage makeover complete with a top to bottom organization system.  That's not going to happen until we will the lotto, or at least not this year (all 8 weeks that are left). But in order to keep the chaos to a minimum I store out holiday decorations in color coded bins. Since we just took down decorations for Halloween they get put away in an orange bin with a black lid. The Thanksgiving decor is making its way out of the orange bin with the brown lid. Christmas is a different story - everything is kept in clear bins with red tops. In order to keep down on too much stuff I limit every holiday to one bin. The exception in Christmas - there we keep three. One and a half are dedicated to ornaments and the other one and a half to the larger items.  Putting storage limits on your seasonal decor forces you to really evaluate what you have each year and purge to make room for the new stuff. If you're looking for a place to donate your gently used decor contact your church, local police department and soup kitchens.  All of which collect these items for families not able to pay for a for such things.   

If you're the entertaining type and have your holiday themed wares such as chargers, napkin holders, candle sticks and similar smaller objects store these in their own fabric bin that fits in the shelves of your lower cabinets. Push them all the way to the back and store the things you use year around in front for easy access. Your items will be tucked away and if you color code these bins as well they will be easy located before your next party.

I really hope these tips help keep down the clutter and make for worry free entertaining. If you have a tip please share by commenting to the link on facebook.

Until next time, happy cleaning (and organizing!)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Keeping Dry

Hello all! So the topic today is going to be a quickie. Tonight is our anniversary and I have 4 minutes before dinner comes out of the oven.

Dryer vents are intended to circulate air through the damp closes. The dryer itself only provides heat and tumble action. It is incredibly important to keep the vent clear of debris for two main reasons:

1. Its a fire hazard peeps! Seriously. I don't understand the science of it all but it is on the list of common causes for household fires.

2. Money, boo! The harder your dryer works the more energy it uses and the higher your bill is. That right there is enough of a reason for me to get in there and clean it.

So to begin your going to unplug the dryer and pull it out. Its not heavy, you don't need help. Next you'll need a flathead screwdriver to loosen the strapy deal that holds the vent to the wall. remove that and wipe out what you can reach with your cleaning rag.  Here is the real issue. For those of you in newer construction (I would say 90's and newer) your dryer vent most likely goes up the wall and out through the roof. If I ever meet the idiot that came up with this design I'd like to smack him and make him get up on my roof next time - idiot!  Anyway, if you clean this vent out once a year you'll save yourself having to get on the roof. The serviceman I had to have come out said he uses a leaf blower once a year. This is the best way I have found.

Now my case was a bit more severe. The previous homeowner obviously had no idea either, so 9 years of lint had built up! Lint was literally an inch thick all the way around the vent. There were clogged all the way up the wall. Brian had to get up on the roof and use a screwdriver to pry out a clog at the roof of cement hard lint that had gotten wet and compacted.  I spent 3 hours with a 20' drain snake snaking out the vent. 

This was only half way through the process. I pulled out twice this amount.

 Now, it is important to go ahead and do this the next nice day you have before the weather gets too nasty.

I hope you all had a great Halloween. Only 8 weeks left to the year! Can you believe that???

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Double Header

I thought the title appropriate as we are currently in the middle of Playoffs for the World Series. GO GIANTS! That's right, I'm a band wagoner. Haven't watched a game all season and I'm a fan. Whoot!

The other reason for the title is because I'm going to cover two topics. First, is vacuum maintenance. It's a necessary evil. I've been racking my brain and there is no humor in it. No witty remarks. And those of you who personally know me know that I need a week to come up with something witty. I know, its hard to believe but my alter ego writes these posts. 

The second topic is when to teach your kids to clean up after themselves.  Interesting, I know.

Vacuum's:  Here's the deal folks, its super important to clean the machine. Bagless or canister your vacuum came with a user manual that has maintenance that will not only extend the life of the machine but also its productivity.  I know none of you still have your user manual and that's okay. Get your vacuum out beside you and go online to the manufacturer website. Enter in some info and BAM! There is your manual.  Now, I suggest you download this to a house folder on your computer for later reference.  And this tip is for way more than vacuum's. Don't clutter up the house with all these manuals you'll loose anyway. Download them and stay organized. This tip is especially useful for parents. Cribs, swings all the way through electronics. If you have to put it together, resale it, clean it, download the user manual.

Alright enough about manuals. Now you have it. Read the instructions carefully and follow them. In my case, I have several cleanable filters that take 24 hours to fully dry before I can run the vacuum again. 

In the meantime I get a old comb and a pair of scissors, a washcloth and a small bucket of hot soapy water (not sudsy, just soapy).  You'll also need both a phillips head and flathead screwdriver. And because I'm crazy I also get a q-tip and extra cotton ball.  You're going to get your vacuum on the floor, on its front side so that the rollers are exposed. Remove the coverplate to fully expose those rollers. We all know that hair and string get wrapped around those but here is the bigger problem.  You loose suction when those things don't do their job. So clean it all up in there. While you're in there check on the belt and make sure there is no noticeable ware spots.  Put the coverplate back and stand the machine upright. Check all the hoses for clogs, especially at the bends. Now lay the machine back down on its backside.  Using a damp washcloth wipe it down, all the nooks and crannies. this is where I use my q-tip and cotton ball. But that might be excessive.

I know I used the "would you eat off of a dirty plate" on you all already but let me hit you in the wallet now.  I spent 170 bucks on my vacuum. That is sort of middle of the road as far as vacuums go. But I don't have two hundred bucks to be throwing around every time a belt breaks or it looses suction because I don't know how to clean the thing.

Now for the second half of this blog: When to Teach Your Child to Pick Up After Themselves

The other week I overheard a mother of a girl the same age as Alice, say that she is not going to make her daughter put on her own shoes, "she's only 3."   Well this sent my head spinning. Alice puts her own shoes on. Am I forcing my child to grow up too fast?? Is this going to be the 1st point in her life that she realizes I push her too hard?? No, its just shoes. And I want my child to be self-sufficient. If she needs help she asks for it and I give it. Not a crisis. But it did get me thinking about the different ages to start introducing chores.  So it's no surprise that I clean a lot.  I started getting Alice involved too. I would hand her a dust rag or a wipe and show her what to wipe down.  These days though she has responsibilities. Toys come out and are played with all day. Great But Alice is responsible to pick up those toys and put them in the respectable bedrooms.  Eli's toys in his room and her toys in her room.  Then once a week she has to clean both her room and her brother's room.  He's only one, so I charge Alice with teaching Eli how to pick up his toys.  We sing songs and make up counting games to make it more fun. I always sit in the room with her and remind her where things go. But these are her "chores."  Here is what I have noticed: fewer toys now come out of the room. I even have started noticing that when she is finished playing with something it gets put away.  

Now when I mentioned to a couple of mothers that this is what my 3 year old is responsible for they looked at me like I was breaking child labor laws. But I think this is exactly what the experts are talking about when they tell us to teach our children early and they will have better habits later.

Opinions please....

Until next time.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Breath Easy

Hello people! I was going to dedicate this blog to vacuum maintenance but am going to push that one off another week as I was inspired this week to cover a different topic.

I got may hair done this weekend and in talking to the stylist discovered her son too suffers from allergy induced breathing problems. I talked to her about all the research I had done when Eli was diagnosed with his issues and she was shocked to discovered there are things you can do to indoor environments to prevent flare-ups and make those who have breathing issues more comfortable. I want to share with y'all these tips that have helped and also some things that maybe you never considered.  And as you read I've added a few tips to help out as we approach the winter months. Lets call them bonuses.

1st: Windows are often neglected in several ways and not just cleaning.  Most of us have blinds or curtains that block direct sunlight but this also blocks our view of what is lying in those sills and panels.  Pull these back and we all know what we will find; dust and dead bugs. Okay fine clean them up. But Wait! Dead bugs are very brittle and those parts brake off and get kicked up into the air. Those particles get inhaled and can severely aggravate someone with sensitive allergies. The best way to begin cleaning is by vacuuming off the windows. I told you my vacuum was my best cleaning tool. And doesn't the thought of inhaling bug parts totally gross you out!
Secondly, if you live in an older home and you suspect your windows are drafty there are two key remedies to sealing up those pesky windows on the cheap. The first I am not a fan of unless you have a really bad window problem. At your local hardware store they are selling window sealing kits that include adhesive tape and plastic. You tape the plastic to the interior of your window and effectively stop the draft. However, the designer in me gasps! The alternative is spending approximately six bucks on a box of caulk rope. You pull it off like a piece of sting cheese and press it firmly all the way around the interior window casing. You won't be able to open your windows til next spring but, you'll save a ton this winter on heating bills.

#2: Dusting. So I'm sure most of you are aware that the old feather dusters don't do anything but kick up the dust. And if you listen closely to the commercials for these Swiffer dusters they claim to pick up some percentage "more" than the typical feather duster. Not good enough for me. But before you pick up your bottle of Pledge let me tell you that those chemical cleaners can do more harm than good when it comes to breathing. Most of us have our own cleaners because we like the way it smells. I love when something "smells clean" it makes my endorphins swim in delight. I would die happy if everyday my house smelled like Fabuloso (the purple one).  But those smells can get the best of someone with allergies.  The best way I have found to dust is with a bar towel and a small bucket of warm/hot water with a very small amount of dish soap.  No strong, offensive odors. No harsh chemicals that may damage delicate finishes. Just good, old fashioned clean. 
Here is a tip too to cut down on airborne dust and to prevent waking up with a dry throat during the winter months. Run a humidifier in the bedrooms at night. My pediatricians are saying to run these things throughout the year not just when the kiddos are sick. And I have read that since its adding moisture to the air it is weighing down any airborne dust. Great investment- just be sure to clean regularly to prevent mold growth. I use vinegar. 

So there you have it. . ..for now. We have got to get to vacuum maintenance!  You wouldn't eat off of a dirty dish would you?? Don't tell me if you do.
Ta ta for now and happy cleaning.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pass the potatoes...not the germs

Hello All.

So I am writing to you on five hours of sleep interrupted by alarms to dole out medicine to my baby.  My vision is blurry and my head is pounding. If the coffee doesn't kick in in about 3 seconds I'm tempted to bathe in it and let the caffeine saturate my entire body. 

I've mentioned before that my little Eli has had some breathing problems in the past. By all outward appearances he is a happy and healthy baby boy. And most of the time he is. However, because of his issues in the past he is more susceptible to contracting illnesses than most.  Especially respiratory stuff. Last night his fever spiked to 104. He has never had a fever so high and was lethargic. I was terrified. During the 20 minute drive to the ER I was either praying or wondering why we moved so far away from civilization.  Momma was a wreck.  Once he was all checked out and we found out it was a respiratory infection I was told that about 80% of the patients they are seeing in ER right now are coming in with this same virus! And they said what is worse is a lot of people are making two trips to the hospital because they are reinfecting themselves.

This brings me to the topic of this blog. Everyone is wiping down handles on the supermarket buggy, and lysoling the phones at work and washing their hands with hand sanitizer whenever they see a bottle in public. But what are you doing once you've been sick? Do you replace your toothbrush after you've been sick? How about the kids stuff, bed sheets, pillow protectors, favorite blankets or softies, and yes even TOYS. 

Here is what should be done after the kiddos are sick to prevent reinfection of themselves and others:  Softies (includes blankets, sheets, stuffed animals) throw all the stuff you used to comfort the little ones into the washing machine. If its stuffed animals use the gentle cycle. And drying is really the most important part - the heat from the dryer will kill any germ still living on your stuff. Use the dishwasher for toys that don't have little areas you can't get into to dry thoroughly. The steam from the dishwasher can get into all those nooks and crannies and if everything doesn't dry properly you can get mold and mildew growing inside and then you have a whole new world of problems. The safest way to take care of all of this though is to fill your sink or bathtub with a few inches of warm to hot water and add a little bleach. There are instructions on most bleach bottles for this purpose so please follow the recommendations! Make sure you wash off all the toys and get all the surfaces. Dry as best you can and if you cant get to it don't worry the bleach will not only help it dry faster but will inhibit growth of any unwanted germs.  For the bigger toys, wipe it down with antibacterial wipes.

Don't forget to wipe down cribs too! Tables, door knobs, door casements, cabinet doors, etc. Whatever your baby may have touched make sure you run over it with disinfectant.  Toothbrushes get replaced (that goes for when adults get sick too). And don't reuse sippy cups or pacifiers until they have been disinfected by the dishwasher. 

Its Fall now, my favorite time of year. But it's also cold and flu season so stay hydrated, take a multi-vitamin to help your immune system fight off bugs and most importantly go outdoors and enjoy! Next weekend we are taking a big family trip to a pumpkin farm's fall festival! Until next time, stay healthy.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lightening the Load

Did you ever watch 'Overboard" with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell? Remember when he got home from work and found the boys throwing grapes at the mouth of a catatonic Goldie?  I sometimes find myself feeling like this by the time Hubby gets home from work.

When I stopped working I threw away my slow cooker.  I heard the gasps, thanks. It had been passed down three generations and 'low' no longer worked. The food either turned out ice cold or burnt to the bottom of the dish. And besides, I thought "Well, now I have the time to make meals for my family." Wrong.  I have spent a little over a year learning how to be a "homemaker."  I had this glamorized idea of what life would be as a house wife. Wrong again.

I have decided that I need a slow cooker again. One that works this time. Dinner needs to cook itself while I take on my million other tasks. And the fact that it is one dish sort of thrills me deep inside.  I loath doing dishes.  I would rather scrub toilets. 

So, this afternoon I will be making my way to the store and buying a slow cooker. Tomorrow night dinner will cook itself.  I'm very excited, but I need to get back to work or we'll be eating peanut butter and jelly in a tortilla for dinner. 

Later this week I'll be posting the next cleaning blog and I'll let you know how dinner turned out.

Bye-bye for now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Refrigeration Nation

Get out you vacuums again friends!

I’m sure everyone knows about cleaning out the refrigerator every now and again. It usually happens when it gets a funk you can’t locate or you spill something and have no choice but to take everything out and clean.  (Quick tip: stick an open box of baking soda in both the fridge and freezer to keep the odors down)  But I bet that is the extent of your fridge cleaning knowledge. It was for me.

I am so lucky to have both my father-in-law and brother-in-law going to school right now for HVAC.  This education includes refrigeration units. So recently my fridge was on the fritz and started peeing small amounts of water on the floor.  I freaked out!  My oh-so-wonderful B-I-L took a look for me and in the process taught me a HUGE lesson.

First, below the doors there is this vent looking cover, he took that off.  It is simply held on there with some push clips so it comes on and off very easily.  Next he got down on his belly and took a look at the underside of the refrigerator.  He said “ew.”  He explained to me that you have set of coils down there that coolant run through. Theses coils are what keep the fridge cooled off. He explained that when they get a thick covering of dust and dirt it acts as a thermal layer warming those coils and not allowing them to do their job properly. This totally makes sense right?? So to protect these coils there is actually a grill or grate just like one your car. That grill is in place to catch as much of the dust as possible before it clings to the cooling coils. It’s like the first line of defense. Well apparently the previous homeowner was unaware of this also because there was 9 years of yuck under my fridge.  He used the vacuum to clear off the grill and then my array of different size and shape bottle cleaners to clean off the coils.  He used canned air that you normally use to clean crevices of office equipment to blow out some more chunks.  This was a big ordeal that night. 

Here is the low down on why this happens. Dust moves across your floor, you can’t help it and a lot of times you don’t even see it. But in the case of your fridge it sucks in air from the floor to run past these coils, thus attracting the dust. This includes, and in my case was mostly, dryer lint.  So here is what you need to do, take off that vent located at the bottom of your fridge once a month and vacuum the grate. If you do this and don’t allow your coils to get covered your fridge will not only stay cooler and perform better but it’s going to SAVE YOU MONEY because the machine does not have to work as hard and use as much energy.

And you know what else?? My fridge stopped peeing.
Until next time, happy cleaning.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Take it to the Mattresses!!

I think I will typically wait a bit longer between posts but as I mentioned in the introductions there are a few things I have learned that everyone needs to know.  With that said I understand that many of you work and this weekend you might spend a few hours doing your routine cleaning. Here is what I purpose:

Empty your vacuum canister first. (side note: Does anyone still use bags??) Make sure you get it good and empty. Now go change your bed sheets. When you take them off hoist the vacuum onto the bed and vacuum that bad boy.

Here’s why. I have heard two disturbing things recently regarding our mattresses. First, who hasn’t heard about the bedbug epidemic making its way across the country? If I see one more giant bed bug on my computer monitor I’m going to scream. This totally gives me the heebie-jeebies.  These nasties feed on dead skin. Gross.

Secondly, there is a radio ad I’ve heard saying that you should replace your mattress every 8 years because it can double its weight in body oils and dead skin. Whaaaaa!  Seriously. So I don’t know how many of you have priced mattresses recently but these things cost a lot of money.  I have one of those memory foam beds. That sucker cost thousands – I’m keeping it for the next twenty years!

Okay, so now you know the why. Here is what I found when I vacuumed my mattress: I filled the canister over half way. You all need to do this. Not only will it prolong the life of your mattress but also for those of you who have allergies you will sleep better.  And for the rest of you – you just don’t want to be sleeping on that nastiness.  

I want to know what your reactions are when you do this.  Post either here on the blog or to the facebook link. Good-bye till next time and happy cleaning!


Thursday, September 23, 2010


So i recently wrote a e-mail to one of my besties who has a design blog and told her there were a few cleaning topics that i have come across that need to be shouted from the rooftops. And of course the modern version of shouting from rooftops is blogging. She suggested I get started myself - Hi, I'm Amanda.

BTW, if you are at all interested in design, specifically rules to live by in decorating your own home, check out the blog 'Orange + Peach' here on blogspot. Fabulous and funny.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I am married to a car enthusiast. An extream car enthusiasts. He's all man and doesnt think twice about walking through the house after waddling around on the garage floor for the past two hours. Meanwhile, I hold my breath, praying that he doesn't brush up against my walls.  He doesn't use the mat that I placed at the door from the garage to kitchen to wipe his feet before he comes inside. And he places his dirty closes on top of the empty laundry hamper. I love every bit of him! He is an amazing man, husband and father. He makes me lauph til my stomach hurts and I wouldn't change anything except the amount of money he spends on cars.

I am a mother of two little kiddos. Alice is my 3 year old and Eli just turned 1.  Alice is begining to be able to help pick up toys and throw things away etc. Eli on the other hand follows around after me tearing apart what I just put together. When I vaccum he stands in front of me and tries to mount the machine moving back and forth as if he were about to tame a wild mustang.

I have a degree that I paid way too much money for in Interior Design. I dream about how I can organize my home like you see in those Good Housekeepping and Southern Living magazines.

And finally, my inspiration or rather what has made me a passionant cleaning maching: tv.  No kididng.  Have you seen the shows on the documentary channes called 'Hoarders', or 'Hording: Buried Alive' or even 'Clean House: Messiest homes in America'? If you need motivation to purge I recommend watching these shows. You will be on a manic cleaning spree in less than 24 hours.

Okay, so that is me and this is the beginning of my blog.  Buh-bye til next time.   A.