Friday, April 30, 2010

Questions for mommies III

I can't remember if I posted these questions already. If I have, let me know!!! But if not, please share your thoughts!

- If you and your spouse are from different countries, how do you teach your kids both languages? And does that affect how and when they start talking?

- Do you prefer a high chair or a booster seat? I don't like how low the booster seat is but I've heard that high chair kinda keeps baby away from the table... Ideas?

- How do you establish and stick to a schedule/routine with your child?

- What do you do when your toddler sends you to time out?

Project Organization : Laundry

Who here loves doing laundry?!

Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

I wouldn't say I hate it, but I don't like it either. And I'm yet to find a way to tackle this tedious job that works for me.
now if I had this laundry room.... the story would be completely different!

The biggest problem is that I usually forget I'm doing the laundry and get caught up in other household chores and then a day or two later I'll remember that load of whites in the drier. Or I'll start wondering what happened to that green shirt and then I'll find it at the bottom of the hamper.

I used to leave one day of the week for laundrering. That didn't work.
I started saving two days... that didn't work either.

Now I do one load a day. One SMALL load a day. So far, it's been working well. I don't get overwhelmed by the huge pile of clothes that will have to be folded after, I don't forget that I'm doing it and it keeps the hamper relatively empty.

Still I know some people have amazing laundry systems like this one

Either way it's a daunting taks and anyone who actually enjoys doing this has my eternal respect. But for us mortals who do dread this, here are some more helpful tips I've found.

  • Toss items that need dry cleaning into a special basket or bag as soon as you take it off. This way, when you are ready to go to the cleaners you can just grab them, rather than having to hunt for them in all the dirty laundry (ugh!)
  • Make a habit of always keeping a spare of laundry detergent, dryer sheets and whatever else you use regularly. That way you never have to drop everything and run to the store to complete your laundry (or use that as a reason to not complete the laundry...)
  • Put Away the Clean Clothes in a Flash!
  • Keep hangers and a folding hanging rack near the dryer. Save steps by putting hanging items directly on hangers rather than folding and toting them first. As you fold clean laundry, place items in baskets by person to simplify the process of putting it all away. Get everyone in on the act. Even small children can help put away some of their own clothes -- socks, underwear, etc. Older kids can put it all away. If you share the burden, it's not so overwhelming.
  • We know it's hard, but go through your drawers and closets and purge things that are never worn. Putting laundry away is much faster and more pleasant if you don't have to struggle to cram the clothes into an overstuffed space.
  • Set a side a small drawer or basket for socks that have lost their mate in the wash. Sooner or later the other sock will turn up and the pair can be put away with all the others.  
  • Consider sprucing up and organizing the laundry area. A clean and well-organized space makes any task more enjoyable. 
  • Schedule set laundry days and stick to them. It's amazing how much more you can get done when you have a schedule.

And in the meanwhile... what is your secret to tackling the laundry monster?!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fabric Blocks, Burp Cloths, etc.

You all know how much I love sewing. I've done a lot of stuff already and it seems like the internet has never-ending ideas for sewing, crafts, homemade stuff.

So the other day I gave a total homemade gift to my sister-in-law at her baby shower: a basket full of little good things for the new baby. Burp Cloths, fabric blocks, blankets and a changing table cover. All made by me, with the help of my sewing machine.

I must confess I dont have any imagination whatsoever, but the world wide web is always there for me...hehehe.

What a great present when you make it all yourself?! I think it is fantastic. It doesnt mean that if you just go to the store and buy something really cute, it wont be as meaningful as the one made at home. Of course not!!! I jsst think when you make at home you can be more personal and even save you lots of money!
Nowadays with all these baby showers and birthdays, you gotta find a way to save a little bit and give a good present to all.

So, many of my friends were asking for a tutorial teaching some of the things I made lately.
The blocks I made I saw an idea on a web site but they didnt have a tutorial for it... I just had to figure it out myself. Although, they had the tutorial for the burp cloths and I just made my version of it.
Homemade by Jill is such a cute blog that I love to go there and find great ideas. There you'll find the tutorial for the burp cloths and some cute baby bibs.

The other day I came across this other fabulous blog Make it and Love it . I found a real simple and easy tutorial for the blocks. You have to check it out!\

Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!!!

Post by Beka

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just a Good Quote

"Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself."

--Sheri L. Dew, "Are We Not All Mothers?", Ensign, Nov 2001, 96

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mommies shouldn't get sick

Do you all agree with me when I say that moms shouldn't get sick??? How are we supposed to care for sick children when we're also sick? Well, I'm lucky enough to have a husband that helps a lot, but...What if he also gets sick?

Well, that's pretty much what happened this weekend. Actually it all started last Wednesday, the 21st. It was a holiday here in Brazil and we went to a hotel. As soon as we got back at 1 a.m, my daughter started throwing up. She has been coughing a lot lately, and sometimes she would throw up in the middle of the night from coughing so much, but this time it was different. I knew it wasn't just from the cough.

After cleaning up her crib, switching her to my bed, taking off the sheets from my bed, sleeping on towels and getting new towls until we ran out, we decided to take her to the emergency room. I think I must have slept about two hours, max. It is quite funny too, because that night when we got home from our trip I was so exhausted and so happy to just lay down on my bed and sleep.

The doctor told us it was a viral infection which means the whole family would probably get it as well. On Friday (two days later) when I wrote about this on my blog and posted some pictures of Jasmine's barf (I know, gross), I started feeling a little weird. I thought it was because of that whole experience of taking pictures of throw up and looking at it on the blog. That whole day I had been feeling as if my head was floating, like everything around me was in slow motion. Now it all makes sense. That night I finally went and threw up after I couldn't possibly hold it in any longer.

(One thing is for sure: I cannot have morning sickness! I HATE throwing up! So, I don't know how some of you do it. Seriously. You're awesome)! Anyway... ;)

Then, right after me, it was my son's turn. We got sick at the same time. I only had my husband to save me and he wasn't feeling good either. It is so sad to see such a small child throwing up like an adult! It is just not fair! Poor thing, I felt so bad. And I didn't have the strength to get up and get him when I saw that he was starting to feel sick. Luckily, my husband was still sort of good.

(Okay, now single moms - I also don't know how you do it. You're amazing).

You probably already know what happened next, and I don't want to gross you out any longer.

So here's a picture of me and my son right after it happened to him. Misery!

We're doing a lot better now, although my kids are still going #3 (that's know what I mean). A lot. I hope they get better soon but right now I'm just so thankful that I'm able to take care of them. It was only a two-day ordeal for me and I know that many of you have it a lot worse.

So now I would like to hear some of your stories. Have you ever been incapable of caring for your children for one reason or another? How did you deal with it?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Project Organization :: Decluttering

I have found that the number one problem in my home is clutter. CLUTTER is the reason for all other problems and cause of all my frustrations.

So lately I have made my number one goal to de-clutter every inch of my home and of my life as well. I'm always reading blogs, websites and books on organization (it seriously is a hobby of mine!), and these are the top tips I've found on de-cluttering.

  1. Declutter for 15 minutes every day. It’s amazing how much you can get through if you just do it in small increments like this.
  2. Don’t allow things into the house in the first place. If you are on a mission to get rid of clutter, make the commitment to not add more clutter to the already existing clutter. Even if you find a cute little whatever that will go great with your decor. Wait until you are done! And even then, think about it, real hard, you don't want to just start cluttering again!!!
  3. Donate stuff you’re decluttering, so you don’t feel bad about wasting it.
  4. Create a goal, write it and make it visible — maybe you just want to declutter your closet, maybe it's your entire house. Either way, an unwritten goal, is nothing but a thought!
  5. Start at the corner by the door and move your way around the room, doing  the superficial stuff first – surfaces, empy the bin etc. Repeat, but do more the 2nd time around – ie. open the cupboards.
  6. The 6 month rule for spices:  if you don't remember using it in the last 6 months, get rid of it. This goes not only for spices, but for other foods in your pantry like those chocolate sprinkles from last years birthday party. Also, if it makes you feel any better, spices older than 6 months loose their taste and potency anyway... 
  7. Use the “one in, two out” rule. The rule: whenever you bring in an item, you have to throw away two other items. First you cheat, by throwing out two pieces of paper, but soon you will have to move to big stuff. I've always done this with clothes. Before I go shopping, I go through all my clothes and pick out what doesn't fit, what I don't like and so on to give away. Then not only do I have room for my new clothes, but I also don't end up with a clother stuffed with clothes that I don't wear.
  8. Make your storage space smaller and more minimal. If you have lots of storage, you’ll fill it with stuff.
  9. Clothing rule: If you haven’t worn an item in 6 months, sell or donate it.
  10. The One-Year Box. Take all your items that you unsure about getting rid of (e.g. “I might need this someday…”), put them in a box, seal it and date it for 1 year in the future. When the date comes, and you still didn’t need to open it to get anything, donate the box WITHOUT OPENING IT. You probably won’t even remember what there was in the box.
  11. Declutter one room (including any closets, desks, cabinets, etc.) before starting on the next one. Spending time in that room will feel *so* good, and it will be so easy to keep clean, that it will motivate you to do more!
  12. Keep a list in your planner labeled “Don’t Need It – Don’t Want It.” When you’re out shopping and run across some kind of gadget or other item you crave, note it down on the list. This will slow you down long enough to reconsider. Also, seeing the other things on the list that you nearly bought on impulse really helps.
  13. Internalize that your value is not in your “stuff”. It is just “stuff”. And realize that your value grows when you share your “stuff”. Hoarding is a selfish act.
  14. Have someone else (who you trust!) help you go through things. They don’t have the (sometime’s irrational) emotional attachment that you might have, but can still recognize if something should be kept.
  15. Gift everything. Books you’ve read immediately get recycled among friends, family or local libraries. If you buy a new gaming system, donate your old one – and all the games.
  16. Toys. leave only a small box of toys out. Your kids will get plenty of entertainement from those toys, and once they get tired from it, you can switch it up with other toys that have been hidden and it will be like Christmas morning every 2-3 months.

I'm not saying you should throw away everything, but at least with me, I know I am guilty of keeping things just in case I ever need it... only to find three years later that I never did need it.

So be smart with what you keep, be even smarter with what you buy and you won't need to go through decluttering!


Do you have any other tips on decluttering?! 
Who out there is also on a mission to declutter?! How has it been?
Share! share! share!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mess Stress

I've been wanting to write about this topic before I even created this blog. I think I just wanted to get it out of my system. ;)

The truth is (and I just figured this out), the way my house looks is the main trigger for my mood swings. Whenever my house is messy and/or dirty I seriously go crazy. You're probably thinking, "Well, why don't you just clean it then?" - But as a matter of fact, I have just finished cleaning. And it is getting messy fast. So fast I can't catch up. Whenever I am cleaning one part of the house (like the kitchen for example) another part is getting messy.

Gone are the days where I used to clean the whole house. Nowadays I always have to choose a day to clean one thing (like wash the balcony for example) and then just pick up the messes around the house. How am I supposed to vacuum, dust, sweep, mop, iron, and everything else while I have so many other things I should do when the kids are napping?

There is also the pollution issue here which makes everything worse. The house gets dirty so fast and it is so much harder to clean than the houses in the United States (or at least where I used to live in the U.S). Clothes here don't come out of the dryer all neat and straight, most of the time you have to iron them. And I am blessed enough to have a dryer because most people here don't have one. Most people here don't even have a dishwasher and a garbage disposal. I'm also fortunate to have both (although the garbage disposal has never worked so it doesn't count).

I just wish I would clean and the house would stay clean at least for a couple hours. Is that too much to ask? Probably. When you have kids it is. I guess the solution to this problem is just to take a chill pill and accept the fact that I will never live in a 100% - spotless clean house, ever! Lately I've been trying not to stress so much about it. Just laugh it out. But sometimes it gets a little bit tricky.
I have a gazillion tupperware containers. Maybe I should just get rid of them!

I also don't have any more high enough spaces to hide things. Why didn't home builders ever think of this and put cabinets close to the ceilings all over the house? We have high enough shelves but they're meant to display decorations and picture frames and not remote controls, crayons and computer cords. For those of you that are wondering, we do have childproof locks on a few things but some don't work with our cabinets and drawers.

Anyway, I would just like to know if I'm the only one that gets a little bit stressed with a messy house. How do all of you deal with this? I would love to hear what you have to say!

ps: Don't say the solution is not to have kids because that isn't the point. I love my chipmunks ;)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Project Organization :: Mommy Binder

Ever since I was little my mom has had this binder, which we always called it Mom's Binder. She kept all sorts of things in that binder... and in the past couple of years I've come to realize that's it's because of ideas like having that binder that makes my mom awesome.

Ok, so it's a binder, but what's so great about this binder?

Well, you know those random little things that just seem to travel from one drawer to another and from one table to another but don't really have a home but are important enough that need to be right there when you need it? Well, that's what she kept in this binder.

- Ward/School directories
- Important numbers
- School calendars
- recipes to try, coupon clippings
- etc.

I have to modify this binder every once in a while to fit our needs. But as of right now this is what my binder looks like:

I have tab dividers for each of the following topics:

- Past Menus
- Recipes to Try (they go here before making it to my recipe book)
- Directories
- Thomas
- Misc

Pretty self explanatory right?

Then on the front flap pocket I have some note cards which is where I write the final version of the weekly menu, stamps (which I'm currently out) and some envelopes/cards.

I also keep a calendar where I write down the menus for that month which then will go to the past menus tab. (which I still have to make for this month! eek)

There are also some blank pages where I can scribble and write stuff on. I put the grocery sales paper things in here when we get them so I can use them for the menu planning, along with other coupons that I get/find.

On the back of the binder I have some other folders that hold other important things. One for the apartment and emergency information and so on and one for a program for which I'm part of that ends with a whole lot of handouts that I need to keep and have handy)

Anyway, that you should give you a general idea of the purpose of this binder. We all have different needs which will lead to different tabs, folders and sizes of binders.

My mom used to have a folder for each one of us, where she kept all school notes, field trip notices and anything else that she needed to keep, look or sign.

For me, the best has been the directories section. I can not tell you how many ward directories I have lost. I never know where I put them, so I can never find them when I need them - which only leads to a whole lot of frustration.

Under Thomas' tab I keep those handy dandy milestones and charts that he gets at every doctor visit, his nursery art work and anything else that I get that's related to him and that I haven't figured out what to do with yet.

Last but not least, on the very back, I keep a list of important numbers. This binder was also left handy for us and babysitters, so numbers had to be kept together and at arms reach.

There are some very fancy Mommy Binders out there. Like THIS ONE, and THIS ONE and even THIS ONE.

But really, why spend all that money when you can put one together for a fraction of the price and that will meet your needs 100%?!

Other things you can include in your binder:
- a calendar for more than just meals, include activities, important dates, birthdays, appointments.
- coupons
- handouts and pamphlets worth keeping
- appointment reminders
- bills to pay

It's really up to you. Maybe you just need a binder to throw some random things in so that they are not everywhere, or maybe you'll turn this into a planner/agenda sort of binder.

Either way, I'm sure it will help. So if you are tired of losing your ward directories or never knowing where you last left the stamps - join me and make your self a Mommy Binder!

PS: As always, if you're going to make one of these - I highly recommend making it cute and fun. We all deserve a little color and cuteness in our lives, especially in between spit ups and melt downs! ;oP So, if you're going to make one of these, I strictly forbid you to simply get a plain white or black binder - yuck! If you're not going to make a cover of whatever for it (notice mine is just a note card glued to a piece of paper - took me maybe 35 seconds?!) get a colored one and then enjoy putting this together!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Home-Made Facials

Have any of you ever tried to make your own facial? Do you have any great recipes that you could share?

Here are some recipes if you would like to try one or two and let us all know how you liked it. Between all of us trying one or two of these we can figure out which ones are worth using and which ones are not.

For trouble-prone skin - Mix oatmeal with water to form a paste, spread over face avoiding eye area, allow to dry, leave on for 10/15 minutes, rinse.

For normal to oily skin - beat egg white until frothy, spread over face, allow to dry, rinse.

For oily skin - wipe cucumber all over face, allow to dry, rinse. Use witch hazel for a toner.

For removing blackheads - mix egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice, spread over face, allow to dry, rinse. (I am very excited to try this one :)

For spots - blend oatmeal in a blender until it's powdery, add some lemon juice to make a paste, apply to face, allow to dry, rinse.

For a face scrub - mix olive oil and Kosher salt, scrub gently, rinse with warm water, apply a moisturizer after. This recipe could also be used on elbows, feet, or any rough skin area.

* TIPS: With all of these recipes you will want to make sure you avoid the eye area. Using upward and outward strokes is suggested to really get into the pores. You should always start with hot/warm water to open up pores and end with cool water to close pores. Moisturizer should be applied immediately after towel drying face to keep moisture in skin. When rubbing facials on face use your last 3 fingers (not your thumb or index) so that you don't put too much pressure on skin.

If any of you have any tips, recipes, advice, experience to add please do :) I look forward to hearing about these recipes! I plan on trying a few of these this week as well!

Monday, April 12, 2010

nursing dilemma

I have a dilemma that I thought I would run by all of you other mommies. I am nursing my 5 month old but I seem to be drying up on only one side. Now my baby isn't getting enough to eat so I have started to give her a bit of formula. I really want to nurse her at least until 8 months because we just can't afford formula. Is there anything I can do to get that side producing milk again? Does anyone know why I would dry up on only one side? I nursed my other two and that never happened!

Friday, April 9, 2010


I thought a lot about how to write this post on Couponing… Well, I decided to write about my personal experience and to direct you to the websites that have taught me most of what I know. I check these websites daily. They list the deals, so it is much easier! Here are the links:

Couponing is awesome…but, mark my words, it can consume your life! I have always used coupons here and there, but I started really using them hardcore in last January. I do not necessarily love couponing, but I LOVE, LOVE saving money! It I such a rush for me! My attitude towards coupon changed once I realized that they are just like money. Would you throw away money if someone gave it to you? I am sure you would not, so, same thing with the coupons! I have been able to literally save my family thousands of dollars just by being organized, determined, disciplined, nice, firm, fast, and balanced. Here are some of the highlights of the great deals I was able to score:
- Huggies Diapers for 1.99 a package
- Free Dove and Olay body wash
- Free Toothpaste and Mouthwash
- Free tissues, and much, much more.

Yes, free or close to. That is the goal! Now here are my golden rules of couponing:

1. Be Organized: The first thing you will need is a coupon binder to organize your coupons according to categories. They explain it all in detail. I have my binder in categories with the coupons I think I will use. Before I go to the store, I get the coupons from the binder and sort them into the stores I am going. Little note clipped to them helps me to find the products I am looking for faster. I always keep my coupon binder in my car.

Also, ALWAYS keep your receipt! If something you bought today goes on 50% off next week, with your receipt you are able to take it back (as long as it is unused) and re-buy the item for the current price. Also, it is handy to have the receipt to take the item back if you change your mind.

2. Be Determined: If you want to get a deal, get the deal! It might take you running from store to store several times, but if it is something worth it for your family, don’t quit! I bought 45 packages of Huggies Diapers @ $1.99 a package at Walgreens, saving my family over $450. Since I do not clear shelves (buying everything and not leaving others the opportunity to enjoy the deal), it took me 3 trips a day to 3 different stores to purchase 2 to 3 packages per store. I also did not care of sizes; I just bought whichever sizes they had and then made more trips to exchange for the sizes I needed.

3. Be Disciplined: Couponing takes a lot of discipline. You can get coupons from many different sources: weekly newspapers, online, magazines, etc. I have found it very helpful to clip them and put them away as soon as I get them. It does not happen like that all the time, but I have procrastinated before and it was not good!

4. Be Nice: Being nice is so, so very important in every aspect of life, but if you want to coupon, and be successful at it, being kind is fundamental. You will need the cooperation of cashiers and managers, and they are much more willing to help you if they know you are nice about things. Also, being cordial to my fellow couponers is very important to me. I do that by allowing others to go ahead of me in line if I have several transactions and they only have one, by not cleaning the shelves, and just being thoughtful of others.

5. Be Firm: Now, there will be times that the cashiers, managers and fellow couponers will make your life a little difficult. If you are on the right, if your coupon is valid and it does not against the stores’ coupon policy, be firm about it.

Today I bought this gorgeous art on canvas at Bed Bath and Beyond using a 50% competitors coupon from Michaels, the cashier was not sure about it, but I was firm, since I had previously checked with the store about using it. She called the manager who finally authorized it. I was nice, and I was firm, and they listened. I have called Wal-Mart, Target, Olive Garden and other corporations’ Customer Service when I feel wronged by their local staff.

6. Be Fast: If you want those diapers @ 1.99 a package you will have to act fast. I found out that my local Walgreens gets trucks on Thursdays, so I was there as soon as I could to get the deal. Most places run great deals, but they last only for a week, sometimes less.

7. Be Balanced: As I mentioned, coupon can rule your life if you let it. For me it is only worth it was long as I am enjoying it. January, February and part of March were a little crazy for me because I was trying to stock up on items that were at incredible prices. Now I can just relax and enjoy not having to buy some necessities for a while. My family always comes first, so balancing my time is very important. I go out to shop after I put my baby girl to sleep and I always try to be back in time to kiss my little boy goodnight. These cherished moments with my family are priceless, and definitely what matter most.

I hope this is helpful. Again, this post is about my personal experience. I would recommend going to the websites I mentioned above to read about how to get started. These ladies, Collin and Sarah, are professionals, and they have some really helpful tips as well. They also have tips on each store. I recommend starting with one store only, then moving to others. Each store has different couponing policies. Please let me know if I can help you fellow mommies with anything.

(Post written by Kelly Hammer).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Natural skin care

I decided to research natural skin care to go along with the green cleaning subject; here are some tips I found that I am going to try as well:

Tip 1: Give yourself a dry brush exfoliation (this is done with a natural soft bristle brush)
  1. Stand in the shower, water off
  2. Starting at your feet, start brushing in small circles towards your heart. Apply very light pressure, avoiding broken skin, skin rashes, or areas where the skin is thin, such as the face or inner thighs.
  3. After you've finished both legs, move on to your arms. Brush from your fingertips, again towards your heart.
  4. Reach around and brush from your back towards your stomach.
  5. When you are finished, begin showering.
For me this tip is more difficult because showering is a major task in and of itself. I have to do it while my baby naps and the other two are watching a movie quietly and it seems like war breaks out whenever I do I am going to try this tip on the weekend when my husband is home to help with the kids =)

Tip 2: Rev up your Digestion
  • Good skin is a reflection of a good digestive system.
  • The most two common sluggish digestion culprits are not enough water and not enough fiber.
  • Suggested things to boost fiber are: more whole grains, apple, cauliflower, nuts, dried fuits, beans and legumes, flaxseed
Tip 3:
Invigorate Sluggish Circulation
  • One of the best things you can do for your skin, stress level, and overall health is to get moving!
  • Inactivity can affect skin and promote bloating and puffiness, acne, cellulite, and loss of muscle tone.
Tip 4:
Avoid Excess Sugar
  • Most people do not realize this but excess sugar is considered one of the main causes of premature aging.
  • Try a gradual approach - in the next week, choose one thing you're going to do to decrease the amount of sugar you consume.
Tip 5:
Eat some good fats
  • They are needed to make cell membranes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
  • They are also particularly important to people with inflammatory conditions such as eczema and acne.
  • People with essential fat deficiency sometimes notice bumps on the backs of their arms.
  • Suggestions: flaxseed, cold water fish, avocado, fish oil supplements

Monday, April 5, 2010

Green Cleaners

I'm having some serious issues with my dishwasher lately. It's not washing the top rack and the detergent isn't diluting. I just found these amazing ways you can use vinegar, some I already knew but in the dishwasher????!?!?! Wow, I'm going to do this RIGHT NOW. I'll tell you if it works.

Here are some other ways you can use vinegar for cleaning purposes:

  • Laundry. Use 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar during the laundry rinse cycle instead of a commercial fabric softener. It'll cut down on lint and also break down the harsh chemicals of the detergent, which is great news for those with sensitive skin. For added greenness and savings, invest in reusable dryer balls (found at Target and many supermarkets and pharmacies). They may look like doggie chew toys, but they're phenomenal at fluffing up your clothes.
    Cost Comparison (per load):
    Fabric softener (washer and dryer): $.08
    Dryer balls and vinegar: $.02
  • Kitchen. Use a solution of one-part vinegar to one-part water (1:1) to clean kitchen surfaces. (Again, due to vinegar's acidic nature, test on grout and tile before using, and shy away from marble.) Instead of expensive dishwasher detergent, toss half a cup of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher.
    Cost Comparison (per dishwasher load):
    Dishwasher cleaner: $.15
    Vinegar: $.10
  • Bathroom. Pour three cups of vinegar in the toilet to get rid of rings. For continuous cleaning, pour three cups into the back tank once a week to keep the bowl fresh. Vinegar works great against soap scum and hard-water stains, even ones that have been around for years.
Here are some other "green" cleaning products:

  1. Lemon. Commercial cleansers have long sung the praises of citrus, hyping the presence of lemon prominently on their labels. It's no wonder: Lemon's cleaning powers extend beyond a fresh scent. Its acidic properties can cut through grease and grime better than most manmade products.
    • Living Room. Use a ratio of one-part lemon juice to two-parts olive oil (1:2) for an all-natural furniture polish; finish off with a soft, dry cloth (recycled, of course). If you have cats, lemon peels in your potted plants can deter them from digging -- or worse.
      Cost Comparison (per ounce):
      Furniture polish: $.42
      Olive oil and lemon: $.35
    • Kitchen. Halve lemon and sprinkle with baking soda to scrub dishes. Dump leftover lemon (or orange) peel into your garbage disposal to eradicate nasty odors.
      Cost Comparison (per cleaning of garbage disposal):
      Commercial cleaner: $.43
      Leftover lemon peel: $.25 (or free, if you've already used the rest of the lemon)

  2. Baking Soda. This seemingly benign white powder serves dual purposes: as an abrasive cleaner and a frontline odor fighter.
    • Kitchen. Make a paste with water for tough stains on your counter, or store an open box in the fridge to keep it smell-free. To more easily clean the stalactites that have formed in the microwave, boil two tablespoons of baking soda in a mug of water, then simply wipe out the gunk.
    • Laundry. Use a water-and-baking-soda paste on most fabrics to remove stains. Or put pure baking soda into sachets (stuff old socks or pantyhose) to remove odors from olfactory offenders like stinky sneakers.
    • Bathroom. Sodium bicarbonate can even help clear drain clogs. Just dump a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of that other clean-all, vinegar. This may take a few tries, but it should clear even the nastiest of clogs -- with a lot less fumes than chemical methods.
      Cost Comparison:
      Commercial drain cleaner: $3.00 (per suggested use -- I usually used the whole container, at $6 a pop)
      Baking soda and vinegar: $1.50
I found this article at

Friday, April 2, 2010

Project Organization :: Bills Bills Bills

Oh bills... all those endless bills and other paper things that we know we should keep and  we know we should be keeping safe in case we ever need it.

I used to have my file drawer and put all the bills and important paper things in that drawer. I hated doing it though, because the drawer was so full that it was a pain to put things in it. Plus, putting things in it, also meant that I had to take things out. 

Once I found a site that said listed all the bills you should keep and for how long you should keep it. Tax info : forever, Bank statements : 1 year, Bills : 1 year, and so on. 

Seriously, can you imagine a more boring task?! So, of course, I never put the things in the file drawer and they just piled up around the house. 

But, going back to what I started doing this year - since I hated having to take things out and so on this is what I did:

I bought a file folder (you could also use a file box like the one above) for 2010. Labeled each tab for a different thing, since we don't get many things on the mail anymore (long live online billing!) I made some general labels : Bank Accounts, Credit Cards, Car, Utilities, Health, Tax, School and so on. 

Now, starting January 1st 2010, everything goes in that file and nothing comes out. For all the bills and so on that we had for 2009 I put them in another folder that I got for 2009 and same thing for the things we had from 2008. These folders just get put away and forgotten in a little corner. If I ever need something from a previous year, I can just go to that folder (that get the year written on the front all big and bold) and pull it out!

That file drawer is still in use. I keep the permanent things in there - birth certificates, ids, passports, and those sort of things that stay. 

The current folder stays in an accessible spot and every time I get the mail I open it next to the folder and put it away as soon as I open it. No more mail laying around. No more figuring out what I need to take out and what needs to stay. 

And make it fun! Get colorful, cute and fancy folders! It's totally worth the extra buck, and whoever said that just because it's bills they have to stay in an ugly folder!? 

(I got this idea a long time ago from the blog


Do any of you have any other wonderful tips on the matter? 
I remember from our first post on organization a lot of us struggled with this... 
What have you done that has worker? Or what are you doing that isn't working?!