Sunday Care Tasks: Setting Up Your Week For Success!

One thing I’ve been doing is reframing chores and tasks around the home as Care Tasks. This makes them morally neutral. There is no shame, no guilt. These are tasks we do to take care of our home and our family. Thanks to KC Davis (You may know her as Domestic Blisters on TikTok, her website is Struggle Care).

Sometimes I do these tasks on Saturday, but usually, I do it Sunday morning all the kids are watching cartoons or playing video games. It takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours, but I find that carving out a little bit of time could really help frame the start of the week in a positive light.

  • Go through the kitchen inventory (pantry/fridge/freezer) to meal plan. Chop vegetables, make a salad, make food for adult lunches. Our produce comes on Mondays, but usually by late Saturday or early Sunday I still have stuff that needs to be used up. In that case, I roast a tray of veggies or make up a quick salad, or if I don’t think we’re gonna be able to eat right away, I will prep them for the freezer. I try to meal plan around the food that will expire or go bad first. Meaning that we tend to have green salads first, then followed by other foods.
  • I repack the snack box for the week.  I buy larger snack/lunch food for the kids and fill the snack box. I have a “secret” (at least to the kids) location where I store large boxes of snacks. This is the kids from devouring all of the snacks quickly. 
  • I update the family calendar as needed. We have a wall calendar in the kitchen that I update weekly/as needed when there are things the kids need to know are happening. I also update the calendar in my bathroom on the vanity, and both kids have wall calendars in their bedrooms with events/holidays they need to know about.
  • I make sure all the laundry is put away: I hate doing laundry, it’s my least favorite chore. So usually Saturday night after the kids are in bed or on Sunday I will make sure that all of the laundry that has been washed over the past few days is dried, folded, and put away on Monday morning, I don’t have to hear the screams of, “I don’t have anything to wear! “
  • Take out the trash. Also not a favorite task (it’s heavy and I have tendonitis in my right elbow so carrying is tough), but getting it done helps the week feel a little easier to get started.
  • Clean out/repack the kid’s backpacks. This includes plugging iPads to charge, checking folders for anything that needs signatures, refilling water bottles, and checking lunch bags for any mystery food left from the last week. 
  • Update my care task list for the upcoming week. It is in the notes section of my phone, and it’s a checklist that I can easily check off completed items.

If I don’t get everything done at one time, I break down them into what needs to be done. Kids need clothes for school, charged iPads, and food/snacks. Everything else can wait until I have more energy or some help.

There is no shame in asking for or hiring help (if that is available to you). If you find yourself in need of some care or gentle coaching on how to organize and clean while you are feeling stressed, I recommend KC Davis’ Book, How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing.

Frugal Cleaning: “Magic Blue” Cleaner- Great for the Bathroom!

It’s not really magic, but it gets your bathroom (and kitchen) clean without much elbow grease or fuss.

I recently discovered this concoction, and It’s definitely worth sharing. And the best part, you probably have all of the ingredients in your home. If not, a quick trip to Dollar Tree will get you going!

I went to help my mom this week, and I thought I’d clean her bathroom. Our area has the worst hard water (lots of minerals in the water), so cleanings bathtubs and showers are a lot of work.

Enter our magic blue cleaner!

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup blue dawn hand dishwashing detergent liquid (I know a lot of people call it soap, but technically it is a detergent).
  • 1 cup water (I used tap water)

Pour the vinegar and water into a spray bottle, add Dawn, screw on the lid and shake until the Dawn has dissolved.

Spray on the dirty areas, let sit for about 10 minutes, wipe off (I used a scrubby sponge), and rinse.

The recipe makes a lot, I tend to pour it into smaller spray bottles, so I can have one in each room (bathrooms and kitchen).

It also works great on cleaning toilets, countertops, and sinks too!

Let’s Start Fresh in 2022!

Starting fresh means different things to different friends. For some, it’s New Years Resolutions to Eat Better, Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend more time on Self-Care. Whatever Starting Fresh means to you, I’m here to help.

For me, Starting Fresh means grabbing new calendars for the kitchen, kid’s rooms, and my room (I have a bulletin board next to my vanity with a wall calendar so I can review each day while I brush my teeth in the morning). I update the calendars each month with appointments, days off school, birthdays, etc. I usually get free calendars in the mail towards the end of the year and use those. For the kitchen, I get a Holiday a Day calendar and use that- It’s a great way to include silly “national” days into the meal plan or weekend plans. Like National Pizza Day (it’s in February) or National Bake Cookies Day (that was yesterday- we’re celebrating today).

Other Ways I Start Fresh Each Year (and keep it going through the year):

  • Inventory my Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry (and donate/share any unwanted still-in-date food). You can buy my inventory sheets here on Etsy.
  • Deep Clean/ Organize one area of the house each week. Start small. I start with the front coat closet.
  • Clean my car out. If you are a parent, you know. I take a laundry basket and a trash bag down to the car, and once the trash is out, and the stuff that needs to go into the house is in the basket (and back upstairs), I take my car to the carwash and pay $20 to have someone else wash and vacuum the car (and clean the windows inside and out).
  • Get rid of stuff that no longer serves you. I like to start in my closet. It’s a great chance to weed out clothes that no longer fit or serve me, and I can donate or share them.  I tend to do one area a month. I work on it for 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so it is not a mental burden.
  • In the same vein, do a toiletry/beauty/makeup purge. Travel-sized/sample-sized toiletries can be donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters or local rehab/inpatient centers. Makeup and personal care items do expire (check out this article from Insider for more deets). If it smells weird or has a strange texture- toss it!
  • Space out Appointments or other “Adulting” tasks. As someone who had two mental/behavioral health appointments, an IEP Meeting, and a doctor’s appointment last week, I can assure you I was mentally and physically exhausted. As it was the end of the year, provider time was limited, so I didn’t have much of a choice, but going forward, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 “Adulting”/appointments per week. Otherwise, it is overwhelming and everything else, like tasks of daily living, gets pushed aside (shower, what’s that?).
  • Spend time Doing Stuff I Like. Yeah, seems weird? Spend a little time doing something that makes you happy. Play a game on your phone for 10 minutes, read, do a craft, work on a project, play Legos with your kids, go for a walk.

A content creator I really like, Rayna Cohen put it simply, ” Allow yourself to enjoy the new energy of the new year.”

My kid’s school sent out a Kindness Calendar for January. I plan on incorporating some of these RAOK throughout January and beyond.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you are Starting Fresh for 2022!

Easy Home Maintenance: Cleaning Your Box Fans!

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngRecently, we noticed that our box fans weren’t providing much cool air. Before dropping over $150 to replace them all, I decided to see if cleaning them would improve their airflow capabilities. After all, they were still functioning mechanically, they weren’t putting out the air flow they used to.

With temperatures in excess of 80 degrees almost all year round here, box fans are a needed appliance in our home. We can’t go without them, as running the AC is cost-prohibitive.

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Oh dear.

These fans are all about a year old, and while I have vacuumed the front and back of them previously (I do it once a week), they had never been taken apart and cleaned.

Gather all the tools needed before you start. For this job you will need:

  • A sheet to cover your work area.
  • A screwdriver (our fans all have Philips head screws)
  • A dish to hold the screws while the fan is disassembled
  • All-purpose cleaner. I used Comet Lilac Bliss- it’s what we had in the house, and it worked really well.
  • A stiff-bristled brush. I used the brush I use to scrub the soap scum/hard water deposits out of the bathtubs (like this)
  • Rags or really scratchy paper towels. You need something that will trap the dirt.
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a brush attachment.
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Before: This stuff was tough to scrub off!
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Once again, my Dyson Vacuum saves the day!
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After: So fresh and so clean!

Here are my tips for deep cleaning your fans-

    1. UNPLUG THEM! It seems like a no-brainer, but I’m going to remind you to not clean appliances that are still plugged in.
    2. Remove the front and back plastic pieces of the fan. Ours were held together with 6 screws.
    3. To remove the dirt/fuzz/cat/hair/whatever grossness that was on the fan front and back, I placed them in the bathtub and sprayed them down with all-purpose cleaner. I allowed them to sit for about 20 minutes while I cleaned the fan blade and fan case.
    4. Using all-purpose cleaner and a rag, carefully spray and wipe the fan blades, both front and back sides.
    5. Using the vacuum hand tool with the brush attachment, clean the interior of the fan case, as well as the backside of the fan motor. I was amazed at the amount of fuzz, dirt, and hair was around the intakes for the fans.
    6. Once the fan blades and fan case are clean, return to the bathroom and scrub the fan front and back. Rinse and dry completely.
    7. Reattach the front and back to the fan case, plug in and test out. All 6 fans worked 100% better after being cleaned. This is now a chore that has been added to the end of season home cleaning list.
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Re-assembled and working like new!

Cleaning all of the fans took about 2 hours, and that included time to make snacks for two very starving kids, let the cat in and out a few times and help with math homework. Without distractions, I could have gotten done in about an hour.

In the future, I may invest in some of these Box Fan Filters, which until today I had no idea existed.

Taking care of appliances, like these box fans is just another way that we are able to extend the useful life of often-used items in our homes, and that saves us money in the long run.

Talk Back: What types of small things do you do to extend the life of your small appliances?

PinchMe: Sample Tuesday is Coming 10/8/19!

Every time I post about PinchMe, someone says that they miss the window of freebies, so I’ve decided to start posting heads up when I get the emails!

Sample Tuesday is coming up on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, and they’ve got a bunch of amazing new samples you won’t want to miss!

Click here to RSVP to the Official Facebook event to get a reminder on Sample Tuesday and a chance to win 1 of 5 amazing deluxe PINCHme boxes.

P.S. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the samples for you to claim:

  • Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream
  • Scotch-Brite Glass Cooktop Pads
  • Clorox® Scentiva® Disinfecting Wet Mopping Cloths
  • Garnier SkinActive Fresh-Mix Sheet Mask
  • Barilla Creamy Ricotta & Arugula Pesto
  • Rael Organic Tampons
  • Peace Out Dark Spots
  • Heinz Mayochup Saucy Sauce
  • Move Free Joint Health Ultra Triple Action Tablets
  • Chlorphen-12 Allergy
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup with a Blend of Veggies

Remember to fill out your advanced profile in order to boost your chances of receiving samples! Don’t forget, the new samples go live on Tuesday 12pm ET!

Home Maintenance: Cleaning your Vacuum

IMG_6712.jpgI know, I know. It’s hilarious to think that you should clean an appliance that is designed to clean, but really, if you think about it, if a vacuum cleaner is clogged with dirt and hair it can’t do its job.

And that sucks (see what I did there?).

After reading the manual that came with our vacuum, I set to work.

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Freshly Cleaned

First, I took the canister off, dumped it in the trash, removed the filter, and washed them both. I used the blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. For the canister, I used a brush like this.

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Strings, hair, and a PIPE CLEANER???

Then I removed the brush housing assembly, removed the soleplate, and clipped the hair and thread off the beater bar (that’s the thing that goes round and round and has little brushes on it). Once the beater bar was clean, I washed the soleplate and brush housing assembly.

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Before being cleaned, but after being de-fuzzed.

I used a smaller brush like this, and also a straw cleaning brush to get into the tiny nooks and crankies. I think for next time I’ll be ordering a set like this:

It’s got all the size brushes you’ll need to clean out vacuum cleaner’s various parts. 

After everything was clean (it took about an hour, that included interruptions from the kids who needed snacks, cartoons, etc. And of course, the cat was starving and needed food RIGHT.NOW), I set them out on the patio bench on an old worn out towel that I use for cleaning. IMG_6706.jpg

The next day everything was bone dry and I re-assembled the vacuum cleaner and took it for a test drive. It was like using a brand new vacuum!

I clean my vacuum about once every six months. It helps keep it in good running order, which means it will last longer. Our previous Dyson lasted us 11 years, and I’d love for this one to last at least 11 years!

If you want to try it, I recommend that you check the owners manual for tips and instructions!

Day After Christmas Traditions- Helping Others!

file0001189581306.jpgOne of the things that I like to do on Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas), is to clean out the fridge. It seems like a strange time to do it, but I like to end the year being able to start fresh. Here is a list of stuff I’ll be doing today:

  • Clean out the fridge and toss/recycle/compost (I have a friend who takes compostable stuff for her bin) the unwanted/expired stuff and containers.
  • Go through the oft neglected kitchen cupboards and pull out kitchen gadgets and stuff we don’t use. Figure out whether to integrate them into daily life or donate them. I’m in a Facebook group that brings neighbors together, so I’ll probably post the stuff there before I take it to AMVETS.
  • While doing laundry, I’ll pull out the kids clothes that is started to get outgrown. I’ll also pull out clothes from their drawers that don’t fit/they don’t wear and separate into two piles: pass along to friends and donate. I did my clothes a few weeks ago. I’m still waiting for husband to do his….
  • I’ll also go through the linen closet too. I donate old towels and sheets to the local animal shelter.
  • On the sly, I’ll go through the kiddos toys and pull out the ones that don’t get much play. We’ll donate those. The toys that are broken, missing pieces (oh hi, every puzzle in our house!), or are just junky will get tossed.
  • I usually start entering the tax info I have into Turbo Tax today, but I started last week, so I’m all caught up. I keep a manilla Folder in my desk with the tax year written on it, and I toss tax paperwork and receipts into it as we  get them, so at the end of the year, it’s not a huge rush to gather everything for tax time.

I’ll also be doing the meal plan for this week, as we were busy with family yesterday.

Good, Clean (House) Fun with Oh Goodness!

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 9.09.01 PM.pngDoes anyone really like to clean? I like when my house is clean, but I do not look forward to actually cleaning my house.

I don’t enjoy spraying who knows what surfactants, artificial fragrances (or worse, “natural” flavoring or scents like castoreum..eww), or harsh chemicals (the thought of bleach makes my eyes water). And yet, I’m not one who wants to spend hours mixing up my own house cleaning products.

IMG_0242.jpgSo when Annie from Oh Goodness contacted me to tell me about her awesome products, I was down to try their awesome DIY cleaning kits.

She sent me their Glowing Collection, which contains the reusable glass containers, ingredients and directions to make:

You Shine Dishwashing Powder (35-40 loads)

You Sparkle All Purpose Spray (16 ounces)

You’re Brilliant Scrub (8 ounces)

The one thing I like is that I know all of these ingredients. I use them all in other ways around the house. It’s all non-toxic (but that doesn’t mean you should eat it- DON’T EAT IT), it’s easy to make, and it actually cleans! I’m sure you’ve read online and seen all over Pinterest how you can clean your kitchen with peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, etc. Those are all great, but I’ve never had results with those ingredients like I have with my Oh Goodness kit.

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mix, mix, mix, mix and here are my finished products!

15 minutes after opening the box, reading the directions, (stopping to make a snack for the kids) and mixing, I was in business. I cook 90% of our meals, so my kitchen is always in need of some kind of cleaning.

I started with the kitchen sink. I have no before picture, but let’s just say it was.. icky.

A liberal scoop of You’re Brilliant Soft Scrub, and a quick scrub of the sink with a sponge and ta da:IMG_0236Can you hear the Angels singing? I can! I even scrubbed the black flange into the garbage disposal that keeps the whirling chunks of food from flying out of the garbage disposal.

The You Sparkle All Purpose Spray got my counters clean like whoah, and the entire house fills with the bright scent of lemons every time I run the dishwasher (which is seriously two times a day)..

I love that the containers are recyclable and reusable. The littler bottles the coconut soap and essential oil came in got a good scrubbing and the kids use them in their toy kitchen.

Oh Goodness wants to share their cleaning glory with two of my readers! Entering is easy.  Click here, or use the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll choose two winners on 11/20/17- Remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter!

Cleaning with Lemons: Three Frugal Cleaning Ideas!

Living in Southern California, everyone knows someone who has a lemon tree. Maybe you have one, and while you enjoy a cool glass of lemonade and maybe a slice of lemon meringue pie, you aren’t really sure what to do with the rest? Here are a few of my favorite ways to clean with lemons.

The oil found in the lemon rind (the little “sacs” or circles on the exterior of the peel) are the same oil in the bottle of Lemon essential oil you will find in any health food shop. This oil is purported to have anti-microbial properties. So in addition to smelling good, it will chase away germs!

1-Banish nasty garbage disposal smells. You all know the smell I’m talking about. Quarter a lemon (or cut into smaller pieces if the lemon is large), turn on the disposal and drop the pieces in one at a time, giving the disposal 20-30 seconds to pulverize the lemon piece before adding the next one.

2-Slice up a lemon, toss the slices into a microwave safe bowl, add about 1/2 cup water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Afterwards, CAREFULLY remove the bowl of water (It will be hot!!) and wipe down the inside of the microwave with a damn cloth or sponge. The steam from the heating water will loosen up the icky crud built up inside your microwave.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.30.50 AM3-Household cleaner. Now this is my favorite homemade cleaning solution. Most of you have everything you or do you need to create this. To get started zest 2 to 3 lemons into a mason jar. Realistically, you can use any glass screw top container it doesn’t have to specifically be a mason jar. After you have zested the lemons, place them into the glass jar and pour enough vodka in to cover the lemon zest pieces completely. You do not want the lemon zest pieces to be exposed to the air. Next, screw the lid on, and store in a warm, dark place. You’re going to shake the mason jar once every week or so for 6 to 8 weeks.

After that time has elapsed you are going to strain off of the lemon zest solids and discard them. You can run them down the garbage disposal if you’d like and it will help your garbage disposal so nice and fresh. I don’t recommend eating them or cooking with them.

The remaining liquid will be a yellowish brown and that will be just fine. This liquid will not stain.

Pour this solution into a spray top bottle, like this one available on Amazon, and use it where you would use any household cleaner such as Spic and Span or Windex. The alcohol is great for cleaning the bathroom mirrors, as it does not leave streaks on the glass. It is also great for cleaning stinky toilets, bathroom sinks, and your bathroom countertops.

In the kitchen the alcohol is great for helping and cut the grease on the stove top, and it’s great for cleaning countertops as well.  However, because this solution contains alcohol keep it out of reach of children. It does not taste good, however it does smell good and it might be an attractive nuisance to children.

You can also mix a little bit of this liquid with salt or baking soda to form a paste to get the baked on gunk off of the outside of your tea kettle or pots and pans. Simply spread the mixture on scrub it with a sponge and rinse off. The abrasive nature of the salt or baking soda mixed with the liquid is great for removing baked on masses, or years of cooking accumulation.

I keep a spray bottle of this lemon liquid as I like to call it under the sink at all times. I use it to clean my countertops in the kitchen to wipe down the inside of the refrigerator. I even use it to clean the kitchen sink.

Overall it’s very inexpensive and it’s a very effective cleaner.