How I’ve been keeping busy…

I’m busier now than I have been in ages! Most everyone has started distance learning, including our family.

Thankfully, Big Kids’ teacher is in communication and sent us an email with tons of great resources and links. I am trying to keep the kids entertained without relying on screens all day (even educational screen time). My kids are not motivated by worksheets either, so we need to do hands-on stuff.

Besides schoolwork, we’ve started our annual spring garden. Big Kid and I donned masks and hit up the local nursery. We picked out Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, and a hanging strawberry plant in addition to a few kinds of seeds. Our patio looks great, and the kids are outside daily tending to their plants and harvesting ripe strawberries. I kept the pots from last year’s garden.

The other night after the kids were settled, I decided to clean out the junk drawer (ok, 1 junk drawer, we have a couple), the utensil drawer, and the silverware drawer.

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I threw out old condiment packets, broken serving spoons, knives with broken/chipped handles, lids that had no corresponding cups, and I vacuumed out each drawer.

After I had completed that herculean feat, I dove headfirst (metaphorically) into the pantry.

I pulled everything out pantry and set it on the counter.

I checked all the expiration dates. Anything expired got the boot.

92843855_2893563990733604_4081992026843774976_o92828483_2893564054066931_3193846550136619008_oWhen all of this madness started a few weeks ago, I had gone to the store to do my weekly shop, and so many of the things that I’m used to buying were not available. I decided to purchase some alternate products from what we usually have in the house. Some were met with success, some were not so good- I’m looking at you Fideo Noodles.

As a result, I filled a reusable shopping bag with some food that did not cut the mustard. I took most of those items over to our local blessing box to help some of our neighbors in need. The rest I shared with some of the neighbors on our local free food group.

Our pantry is horribly laid out. It is very narrow and deep.  The dangerous part of our cupboard is you cannot reach all the way in the back without help. Last night I used a very long spatula to assist me. One of the things that I found was baby food. Little Bit is 4 1/2. I managed to clear out the pantry 100% and then refill it and move items around so it is easier to gain access

I get food in the mail or events from brands to cook with and post about on social media. Most of the time they give me a couple of each item, rarely they send cases. There were a lot of odds and ends of food from PR campaigns.

I’m also working my way through our closets to get rid of broken toys, clothing we’ve outgrown or don’t wear, or junk. I’ve come to realize that after all of this is over we’ll need to replace our towels (Our current set is from our wedding 12+ years ago), the kids need new sheets, and Big Kid is getting a new bed (which was in the works before Covid struck). And I’ll probably have enough clothing for a clothing swap- Both kids are mid-growth spurt.

It may seem like a lot of busywork, but we haven’t had a deep clean/in-depth declutter since we moved in- 5 years ago. I go through the kids toys several times a year, as well as their clothing and books. But, I’m bad about doing it with household goods and my personal items.

Today was more of a lazy day for us: We played some games, did some sight word writing, played Bingo, and made this stuff called Ooze Baff, which was 100% gross, do not recommend. If you want to try it, I bought it at Dollar Tree. For a Dollar.  In a little while, we’ll have bath time, and I’ll read to them. We may pull out the couch into a bed and all cuddle on the couch for a bit.

I would love to hear about how you and yours have been keeping busy! Leave me a comment!

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!

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.