Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Clean, Dry and Serviceable Guest Post by Cerise Cherry (Mom)

I'm one of the last of a dying breed, I love being a housewife and stay at home, no worky-outside-the-home woman. That doesn't mean I am lazy or even uninvolved with the outside world and I am no moron. I've had two computer user groups, one for Macs and one for PCs and a paper crafter's club. I managed a thriving ministry for my late husband and created and maintained the website for a television network. I've written and published hundreds of newsletters, so as a rule I'm a busy woman.

After my first husband of 34 years passed I knew I wanted to remarry. I love being a housewife and I'm good at it. The man I finally married after being a widow for two years used to say, "I like things clean, dry and serviceable". I always added, "and aesthetically pleasing"! When we dated he showed me the home he had built for his late wife (also married 34 years). It was 5400 square feet of Mission style awesomeness. I thought to myself, "whoever gets this will be one blessed woman". I didn't dream at the time that it would be me. I lived in a 550 square foot barn converted to a bachelor's apartment by it's previous owner. My first husband had made it pretty and liveable for us when our home had to be completely re-plumbed. This huge home my then "boyfriend" built was completed all but the interior finishes. He and his late wife had already purchased the oven, stove, microwave, and they awaited installation in the 1200ft. garage.

After we were married hubby began talking about finishing the "big house". After two years of arguments, compromises and a lot of hard work on his part it was done. We moved in this past March and I've been working to make it "cozy" and our sanctuary. One of the things we compromised on was the floors. He wanted WHITE shiny tile throughout the house. (Back to that "clean, dry and serviceable" thingy.) I imagined myself on my hands and knees trying to keep the floors shiny. He imagined me with a janitor's mop and bucket (which he purchased). Along came my lovely daughter with the Norwex floor cleaning system. I'd never heard of Norwex and was extremely skeptical with it's efficacy. (That's fancy for effective! I learned that from reading some of my daughter's blog posts. I homeschooled her to love learning and she has far surpassed me in a bunch of areas. She is presently homeschooling and raising three kids of her own.  Wild). Anyway, I let her demonstrate the system to me. Shiny floors are a lot of work if one uses the traditional mop and bucket method. Plus, the water here is so hard you can get a concussion in the shower. Hubby purchased a pricey filtering system from a well guru in Florida and we still have hard water, it's just not AS hard as it was!

I began purchasing Norwex products to replace ALL of my old cleaning products. I learned I could dump all the toxic and harsh chemicals I'd been using before. Not only that, but in dumping the poisons I'm also saving money! More importantly, my home can remain "clean, dry and service" for a modicum of labor. I use the Norwex microfiber dust mop first. I can get the entire 4200 square feet of floor in about an hour. Then I do rooms that need scrubbed. I typically use the tile mop head (they are all velcro onto the metal mop head and interchange). It took us a while to figure out the best way to mop. I learned that the best way to deal with shiny floors is to use distilled water in a spray bottle. I use the tile mop (DRY) and spray a few of the 18" tiles at a time. I go over them with the mop and then move on. Because I use distilled water, I am not forced to polish the floors. I don't use wax, the shiny finish is simply there because there are no chemicals, no cleaning products or residue from even vinegar water. Hubby tried to prove that mopping and then rinsing the floors with vinegar laced water would work, "just as good". It left one heck of a mess that the Norwex mop cleaned with 1/10th the effort. He had spilled sweet pickles all over the floor. The janitor mop and soapy mess left a dull film ALL OVER THE FLOOR! I was so unhappy. He has come to the conclusion that I am the housewife and I truly know how to keep things the way he likes them. He's better at NOT HELPING. Probably because I don't like help that isn't help.

I must add that a great deal of Norwex microfiber products are laced with silver making them germ removing wonders. The silver works to inhibit bacterial and microbial growth, so it isn't creating super germs in the cloth itself. Independent clinical tests proved that Norwex Baclock microfiber (1/200th the thickness of a human hair) leaves surfaces 98% germ free. That's far better than the most popular cleaning chemicals on the market. I do NOT get a single penny for sharing this information with you. I am recovering from an autoimmune illness and do everything in my power to stay clear of chemicals that assault my system. If it works for me, it can help others. I am ALL for that.

My home is "clean, dry and serviced" and I like to think aesthetically pleasing. That's amazing considering we usually have four rescued cats, a rescued chihuahua and beagle in the house all day long. Our two male cats are wild as march hares and keep me on my toes like a mother with fourteen toddlers. Keeping footprints, cat hair and spilled food and water up is a daily maintenance job and I wouldn't even try with traditional methods. Norwex even has pet care products and I own those as well! Written by Cerise Cherry

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Gift giving... organized

Giving gifts can be overwhelming. Especially when you haven't given it a thought until December 1st and you've seen a million posts about the holidays. Don't sweat it though!

Make a list! Write down everyone's name. If you know for sure what people want, write that down. Make a copy and keep it on your phone or in your wallet so you'll always have it with you.

Some people are harder to shop for. So that's when you start brainstorming. Pinterest is a great place for that. If you are creative, you can make things. I love making things. I crochet, knit, sew and more. I'm sewing this year as I just don't have the time to crochet or knit.

If you can make things, DO IT! It's personal and loving and people love the unique. Especially if you can make something based on their interests. Star Wars themed mug? Dr. Who scarf? Cowboys can coozie?  There are plenty of things that are simple to make, just takes a little bit of thought and time.

If you don't have time, then shopping will be your next bet. Make a list of the things you want to buy and then compare prices. Don't just buy it at the first place you shop. Did you know that you can buy toys at Hobby Lobby or Michaels and you can use a coupon? Joann's takes competitor's coupons and you can stack them! Thinking outside of the box is your best friend. Check out Amazon and Snagshout if you have the time to wait for shipping. If there's a doubt that it will get to you in time, have it sent to the person. They'll be fine without the wrapping paper, I promise.

PS. Snagshout is really real. It works. I've saved ALOT of money. They don't know I'm writing about them. :-)

How do you keep your gift giving organized?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Out With The Old...

If kids understood how easy we have it.

Here's a great website I found about how hard everyone had it: http://www.oldandinteresting.com/history-of-washing-clothes.aspx

We don't have to haul water from a great distance. We turn on a tap.

We don't have to boil water to cook or clean. Well, I do boil water to disinfect my Norwex, but I don't mind at all.

When I was first married, I cleaned my husband's jeans with a scrub board in the bathtub. I remember carrying my son's cloth diapers, a mile to the laundry-mat.

Why? Because I believed deeply in what I was doing. I didn't have a choice.

The media doesn't talk about the generation that is going back to the ways of old. More and more people are bringing chickens to their suburban homes. More and more mom's are breastfeeding. Using cloth diapers, growing their own food, teaching their kids at home. Let's celebrate THAT! Let's embrace the things that work instead of complaining about those that don't.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Junk Mail...

I think most of us know that junk mail belongs in the trash. Yet most of us still have piles of mail to deal with even after culling through the junk. Remember the organizer's favorite rule of thumb, you should only touch it one time. Pull it out of the box and immediately deal with it then and there. If you are in your car, have a bag for trash and deposit it where it belongs. Anything you need to keep, put in your purse or a shopping bag that will come into the house when you get home. Only the most important should actually enter your home. When I have loads of money, I plan on paying the bills the minute I get them in the mail so I don't have to think about it again until the next bill. I love auto-draft, but I can't do that right now. One day...

I still have a couple piles that need my attention, but they're low on my priority list right now. The system I have works well though. I have a planner with a folder just for my monthly bills. As soon as I get that month's bills, I put them in my planner. That way I'm sure to budget and plan for them and pay them on time!

Anything that I need to file and keep for proof of purchase or other government paperwork goes into an expandable file folder. I can take that with me at anytime and I know that all my important stuff is in one place. How do you know it's something you should keep? Well tax-related issues should be kept. Any proof of income like check stubs and such. Keep your resume' up to date too. Keep a copy of that. Rebates, insurance, warranty... you get the drift. If your money is involved, you need some proof. One day I'll have a fire proof safe too.

A shredder is a very nice tool for every home. You can sit and shred as soon as you sit down. Then if you have a firepit or fireplace, you can just use the shreddings for firestarter.

You can limit your junk mail with websites and signing up for paperless billing. Just a special note: if you sign up for paperless billing, please take a moment to print out the necessary hard copy for insurance or book keeping. If you weren't able to print it when you have an emergency, you might be in a pinch.

How do you keep up with mail at your house?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The refrigerator... sigh.

The refrigerator is such a vital piece of equipment for our every day lives. We take it for granted. It is so important to keep it clean. You can spread germs and food will spoil rapidly if we ignore it.

Just like most things, it just takes mind over matter. Get a short chair or stool and grab a trash can. Check the dates on condiments and the leftovers. Pull everything out of the fridge. Set it on the table and then grab a drawer out of the bottom and fill with soapy water. Scrub it with a scrubber or cloth and wipe clean and dry. Extra moisture can lead to faster food spoilage.

My rule of thumb is, if it doesn't get eaten in 24 hours (like leftovers) it gets tossed. We have a compost, so nothing ever really  goes to waste.

If something spills and dries and becomes difficult to clean, I really like using baking soda and vinegar. It really works to break up the molecules. The baking soda is abrasive enough to get the job done yet won't scratch glass or anything.

Life is messy. I need to move the fridge and clean out underneath. I did it around Passover, but it needs to be done again. Ugh. The fridge we're using is very small for four people so it isn't heavy to move. Remember to dust your coils too while you're at it.

And just like dealing with junk mail when you grab a piece of mail you ask why are you keeping this? Ask yourself, why are you putting this in the fridge?. Will anyone actually eat it? Ask your family before you put it away, will you eat this tomorrow? If you don't have any takers, to the compost it goes. If you continually have too much food, cut back your portions or invite more people at your table. And perhaps you can put it in your freezer and use it in something else. Like extra steak could be great in a soup. Now this is turning into a cooking post. You get my drift though. If you buy a dressing and no one likes it, look at using it as a marinade with meat. Don't let it sit unused for six months.

What are your fridge hints?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Doing the Dishes

Doing the dishes used to give me panic attacks. No... seriously.

A huge pile of dishes after every meal.

For most of my adult life, I have not been able to eat out. First it was personal choice and then it was finances. It's just too expensive.

So every single meal (3) each day of the week (7) is 21 meals a week... that's a lot of dishes. I care about my environment and also the expense, I couldn't afford paper plates.

Who washes the dishes? I do. It's the job that is never done. You have to eat. There's no choice about it. I'm teaching my children and they get very excited when the sink is empty. They're learning that a pile of dishes is really lame.

I do my best to wash as we go. It's challenging to do but it really saves time. The food doesn't get stuck on the dish if you wash it as soon as you are finished.

But there are days when the dishes are just piled. We have errands to run, appointments to keep and it just gets pushed down the to-do list.

So I've found the key to happiness! NETFLIX! I'm not kidding. I have an awesome window sill above the kitchen sink. Whether I use my smartphone or my laptop, I watch something just to get through the drudgery of getting them done.

I used to listen to audio books while I did the dishes. I can't seem to keep a cd player working, so streaming video works well too. So whether you have music, a book, or a movie... getting your mind off of the task and multitasking makes doing the dishes less of a pain. I'll do another blog post about ways to actually do the dishes. But I have the whole month of December. :-)

PS. I actually look forward to doing the dishes!
There isn't much that makes me as happy as an empty kitchen sick.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Saving Time with Laundry

Sort laundry: If you have many people in your family, I highly recommend getting multiple dirty clothes hampers. One for each person in the family. Then teach them how to do their own laundry. If a child can pull a laundry basket on a string, they can use a stool and put laundry in the wash. They can turn buttons and they can turn it on. This is a necessary skill that everyone needs!

Consistency: Instead of doing laundry one long horrible day, do laundry a load at a time throughout the week. When I worked full-time outside of the home, I did a laundry load at dinner and put it in the dryer at night. This also helps babies sleep with noise and makes them sleep deeply. (Perks!) In my home, we are all home more than we're away. This allows us to keep laundry going. We have a timer to help remember to get the clothes out of the dryer (it's in a barn outside of the house, so it's easy to forget).

CULL: When the weather changes, I notice that laundry gets to be out of control. Why is this? We have two seasons colliding. It's not quite warm and not quite cold, so you've got short sleeve shirts, sweaters, skirts and whatnot. It can get overwhelming. Sort the clothes that you like but can't wear right now and take them out of your closet. Put them in your attic or somewhere they can't ruin. If clothes don't fit properly or have tears, decide if you can get them fixed within 24hours. If you don't have the time or money to get them fixed, throw them out or repurpose them. (Make warm bedding for stray animals, cut up and use for rags, etc...) Once the season is in full swing, you should only have the necessary clothes for that appropriate time. Don't keep things that you haven't worn in 6 months. If you don't wear it, someone else might. That's why we have thrift stores and clothing closets. This is a great lesson for kids.