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!

Is Summer Snacking Wrecking your Grocery Budget?

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Chatting with a friend via Insta yesterday, we were lamenting the “OMG DO THEY EVER STOP EATING!!” of summer vacation.

I’ve never begrudged my kids snackies when they are hungry, but seriously, on days when we are at home, building Legos and watching movies- THEY EAT ALL DAY.  I can’t let them rummage through the cupboard and eat whatever, so I started the snack box (for the pantry) and snack drawer (in the fridge).

We’ve had “The snack box” and the “snack drawer” in our kitchen for about 2 years now.

In the cupboard, I’ve got a basket like this one. It’s full of various types of treats and snacks. Instead of buying individually bagged treats, I often buy a box of whatever (in the photo below it’s animal crackers) and divide the large box into snack-sized Ziploc bags).  It just depends on what is available at Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only on my weekly shopping trip. Those are my go-to snack stores.

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The Snack Drawer in the Fridge
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Pantry Snack Box- Refilled weekly

The Pantry Snack Box contains shelf-stable stuff: Juice boxes, crackers, chips, dried fruit, fruit snacks, individual Peanut/nut butter cups. I usually tuck a couple bags of microwave popcorn too. Sadly, we have none left. I was informed that I *must* rectify that matter tomorrow.

The Fridge Snack Drawer contains some of the following: Cheese sticks, yogurt, Ziploc bags of fruit or veggies (watermelon wedges, strawberries, grapes, carrots, celery, and jicama are just a few favorites), little cups of hummus, guac, ranch dip (homemade with greek yogurt and ranch dip mix).

The snacks vary by week, and I took these pics today- It’s midweek and they are pretty picked over- I did refill the Pantry Snack Box with stuff from the cupboard. That’s my secret- don’t put it all out at once. I stash the extras in the back of the pantry, where tiny arms can’t reach.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know that my weekly family grocery budget is $80. I spend about $25 of my weekly budget on stuff for the snack box/drawer. Sometimes more, sometimes less. During the school year, the function of these becomes for packing lunches in the morning. The Big Kid doesn’t really like sandwiches, and as he’s a vegetarian he gets most of his protein from nuts/seed butter and dairy sources.

I also keep Go-gurt style tube yogurts in the freezer- Those are mostly for Bitty, Big Kid doesn’t care for yogurt too often.

For the grown-ups, there is a basket in the pantry full of protein and fiber snack bars (Along with other more “grownup” snacks- which are sometimes new snacks that the kids veto after sampling). I get those at Grocery Outlet or 99 Cents Only. Grocery Outlet locations in my area always have a great variety of protein bars, snack bars, and protein cookie (Like these, which are also a hit with the Big Kid, so I have to dole them out) for a lot less than grocery or club stores.

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Close-up of the Pantry Snack Box. There is a little bit of something for everyone!

This is how my family keeps everyone fed at home and on budget. I’d love to hear about your family’s ideas to solve this issue.

When Life Gets Crazy…

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Oh, God.. I won’t lie. I had this entire post written, hit save, and it disappeared. Further proof that life is totally crazy right now.

I’ve got 3 weeks left of school, then (fingers crossed), I will graduate from college after a 17-year hiatus. So, I’ve got a lot of stress right now, between my regular responsibilities, studying, and getting ready for a huge almost weeklong camping event with my friends and a lot of my family.

I wanted to share some tips for how I keep it together when life is just crazy. These may not all apply to you, but they definitely help me.

Ask for help. I’ve been relying a lot on family, friends, and our respite hours through San Diego Regional Center so I can get out of the house without the kids to get stuff done. I love them, but sometimes shopping without them is just easier. Having a few hours alone to study in the library is nice. It’s hard to study when Legos are being played with right next to you.

Keeping to our schedule. Granted, there have been some changes to accommodate my schooling, but we are trying to get the kids to bed at night on time (sometimes that doesn’t happen), and out the door in the morning for school.  This includes my visits to the YMCA 4-5 times a week. I really believe that exercise helps me maintain a positive attitude and helps me manage my stress. I also have been continuing to meal plan, even though I sometimes forget to post it.

Be Flexible. This is a tough one for some of us (myself included). Sometimes life gets crazy, and you need to go with the flow. Sometimes that means cereal for dinner, sometimes it means going to bed the same time the kids do because everyone is tired.

Give Yourself Grace. Remember that this portion of your life won’t last forever. It won’t always be stressful, busy, or this hard.

Do What is Right for Your Family. This one can be hard, especially since we live in the era of Pinterest worthy, social media one-upmanship. I’m a fucking hot mess and I’ll admit it. As long as my family is loved and cared for- that’s all that matters. And sometimes that means cereal for dinner!

 

Talk Back: What do you do when life gets busy/crazy/unpredictable? 

 

Weekly Meal Plan!

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Mondays are crazy around here, between my college classes, and Big Kid’s weekly social skills class, we don’t get home until late. So publishing our weekly meal plan is not a high priority after a busy day. I did write it out yesterday while I was at the Y!

This week we are focusing a lot of eating up what we’ve got on hand. There are a lot of changes afoot in my household (there will be an upcoming post, I promise). I’m focusing a lot on the kids, and trying to return to my frugal roots.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Ramen- I’ll post pics on Instagram today. Our local Grocery Outlet had bone broth, and I used Brown Rice and Millet Ramen noodles. poached eggs, and spinach
  • Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner- Waffles made with Kodiak Flapjack Mix and Fruit Salad
  • Wednesday: I’m going to the grocery store, so I’ll probably pick up a rotisserie chicken and a salad
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday:  I’m going out with the girls, so the kids will have Pizza!
  • Saturday: Chicken enchiladas (made from the rotisserie chicken leftovers), beans, rice, and brocolli
  • Sunday: Chicken Soup (made from the carcass of the rotisserie chicken and the remaining meat).

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Host a Frontera Whole Foods Party!

House Party by Ripple Street Frontera™ Whole Foods Party House Party

Houseparty by Ripplestreet has a great party coming up, and they are accepting applications right now!

Show your friends how they can make authentic, delicious dishes for their Cinco de Mayo parties and how Frontera™ products will help them make it quick AND simple. Available at your local Whole Foods Market® for Cinco de Mayo.

This event is only open to residents of the contiguous US.

If you’re selected and confirmed as a host, your exclusive Party Pack will contain:

  • Whole Foods Market® gift card
  • Frontera discount coupons for your guests
  • And more

If you’ve never heard of Houseparty by Ripplestreet, you can learn more here. I’ve already applied!

Five Back Visa Gift Card Deal! #5Back17

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If you are looking for a great way to stay on budget this holiday season, check out the great offer from Five Back Visa Gift Card!

Pick up the Five Back Visa gift card at Office Max, Lowe’s Hardware Stores and Albertsons Family Stores including: Albertsons, Safeway, and Vons. Buy it online at giftcardmall.com. Put your Holiday budget on the pre-paid Visa Card. That way you can’t go over board! No “shopping hang over” in January.

Five Back Visa gift cards work everywhere Visa debit is accepted, but users earn up to 5% back to their gift card when they shop and dine with preferred restaurants and retailers! Find a full list of participating retailers and restaurants at fivebackgift.com.

Here is a scenario where you can save an additional $19.05 on gifts when you buy a Five Back Visa gift card BEFORE you do your holiday shopping at Five Back preferred retailers and restaurants!
1. Grab a $500 Five Back Visa gift card (including the $5.95 purchase fee)
2. Shop at Five Back preferred retailers & restaurants (find a full list at fivebackgift.com)
3. Earn up to $25 back to your card. $25 – $5.95 purchase fee = $19.05! Save even MORE when you double dip on holiday coupons, sales, and shopping through websites like Topcashback or Mypoints!

Check out my post here for tips about saving when you shop online.

And to celebrate this great deal, you can enter here to win a $50 Visa Giftcard! Woo Hoo! Just in time for Holiday shopping (or buy yourself something nice, I won’t tell!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post, thanks to Tatu Digital Media for including me on this awesome offer and giveaway! All opinions are my own!

Holiday Resources For Those in Need

thanksgivingturkey.jpgIt’s getting to be the season of giving, and for some families there isn’t the means to give this year. For some families there isn’t the means for a sit down family meal either.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are more than food and gifts, but no one should go hungry any time of year!

Here are some resources for those in San Diego County who might need some help.

Here is my post with a list of food banks/pantries in San Diego. Meet the Need at Faith Chapel has a lot of great events coming up to help you get through the holidays:

  • 11/19/: Faith Chapel is giving out Food Boxes and Turkeys starting at 10:30am.
  • 12/3: Meet the Need’s first Sunday event will be featuring a limited number of free Christmas trees in addition to the usual free lunch and bag of groceries.
  • 12/17: Faith Chapel will be distributing toys to children in need after the 10:30am service.

Feeding the Flock and several other ministries are sponsoring a Thanksgiving food box (turkey included). More information and sign ups can be found here.

You can also find local food banks/pantries from AmpleHarvest or by calling 211 in your area.

Toys 4 Tots is a well know toy charity, however their deadline to request toys is early November. If you missed the cut off, there are a few San Diego based toy charities that can help out.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.53.34 PM.pngToys 4 Joy has 4 San Diego area events on December 9th. Toys for Joy is open to all children and families and no registration is required. One free toy will be given to all children attending the event ages 0 – 11. Free lunch will be provided in addition to free entertainment, kids activities and giveaways. All four locations have free groceries and one location has free gently used clothing available.

We Care Toy Drive provides 750 toys to local San Diego area kids. You can learn more by visiting their website.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 8.09.41 AMThe Closet on 54th has a great free clothing closet you can shop at once a month, they also have a free food pantry that is open three days a week. You can find more info on their Facebook page here.