December 31, 2008

Wednesday, December 31- Daily to Do List, Plus Yesterday’s Pics

Posted in cleaning, daily to do lists, laundry/ clothing, product reviews tagged , , , at 2:45 pm by allisonwonder

Ugh- this computer is unbelievably sluggish today. Don’t get me wrong, I know the feeling, but I had a migraine yesterday- what’s your excuse, NetVista?

Speaking of yesterday, here are the before, during and after photos of my grout cleaning job (I know, the lighting stinks, but you get the idea):

dsc07801

 

 

 

 

 

<before

dsc07799 < baking sodadsc07797<after

Can you see a difference? Some of the darkest spots are gone, but that’s about it. we’ll try again next week.

As for that Method Daily Shower spray there… it’s OK. I like it a lot better than spraying nasty, less-natural chemicals into the bathroom air, but it smells a bit like hairspray. Tigger, however, LOVES the stuff- they’re practicallya couple:

dsc07807

OK, on to today’s list:

 

Kitchen

dishes (as needed)

sweep

wipe countertops and sink

stains, spills and smudges

clean microwave

clean out fridge

wipe down appliances

tidy cupboards

 

Bathroom

wipe sink and shower after use

hang up towels

put bath toys away

wipe counter and floor as needed

wash towels

 

Living Room/ Dining Room

sweep floors, spot clean messes

tidy floor and flat surfaces

take baskets to appropriate rooms

 

Bedrooms

make beds

tidy

laundry in hampers

change bedding

 

Basement

tidy toys and craft area after use – didn’t use- still a mess

litter box- quick scoop

food and water for cats

finish laundry

Other:

write thank-you note to the nice couple from the in-laws’ church who gave us a Christmas present

walk to post office- –  nope- had AJ go instead 🙂

make mom’s birthday card

put Christmas boxes in basement

*also planted bulbs in a pot (narcissus) to grow indoors, vacuumed the couch and washed the kitchen floor. We might have company tomorrow night, so I want to have as much done now as I can.*

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December 30, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Posted in cleaning, daily to do lists, laundry/ clothing, shopping tagged at 2:41 pm by allisonwonder

To Do: 

Kitchen

dishes (as needed)

sweep

wipe countertops and sink

stains, spills and smudges

 

Bathroom

wipe sink and shower after use

hang up towels

put bath toys away

wipe counter and floor as needed

clean toilets, sinks, counters, mirrors and tub

steam-mop floors

 

Living Room/ Dining Room

sweep floors, spot clean messes

tidy floor and flat surfaces

take baskets to appropriate rooms

roll up the damn rug and put it away for now

 

Bedrooms

make beds

tidy

laundry in hampers

 

Basement

tidy toys and craft area after use

litter box- quick scoop

food and water for cats

 

ALSO:

groceries

wal-mart

finish laundry  (almost)

 

OK, so the things that actually got done today are crossed off. I didn’t get through it all, but I think I did pretty well, especially considering the fact that I had a migraine today (complete with nausea- yummy!) AND I did the shopping with the kiddies in tow. They’re good boys.

I bought Borax today for the first time. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to use it for, but I know it’s something. I also got a bigger box of baking soda, because I’m going through it rather quickly these days. I tried it on the grout in the bathroom today; i have “before” and “after” pictures, but they look the same to me. I know the wall’s clean, but my grout’s not sparkling, dammit! Oh- this book says I can try Borax on that. Excellent.

OK, I’m off to take more Advil and put myself to bed. It’s 10:00- late for me on a night when AJ’s working. Tomorrow’s Fridge Clean-Out Day… I hope the excitement doesn’t keep me up all night…

 

Housekeeping Schedule- First Draft

Posted in cleaning, laundry/ clothing, Waste Disposal tagged , , , at 2:28 pm by allisonwonder

It’s pretty clear to me that I’m incapable of keeping on top of stuff without some kind of schedule. I’m forgetful, and let’s face it- there are many things I’d rather be doing than cleaning the tile grout in the bathroom. One of my christmas presents this year was a book called “Green Clean” by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin (thanks, Jenny and Chris!), and I’ve modified the suggested daily/ weekly/ monthly tasks from that book to reflect what I think will need to be done around here. I’m sure some of this will change, but for now, my goal is to stick to this for a month and then re-assess things.

So, for now, here’s the daily To-Do list:

  • kitchen: dishes (as needed); sweep; wipe down counters and stovetop; stains, spills and smudges (as needed); clean sinks; take out compost (as needed)
  • bathroom: wipe shower/ tub dry after use; hang towels to dry; put bath toys away; wipe down counter and sink
  • living room/ dining room: sweep floors, spot clean messes; tidy and return items to where they belong;
  • bedrooms: make beds; tidy; laundry in hampers
  • basement: tidy play area; scoop out kitty litter; feed cats

Sounds like plenty to me, especially when there are other tasks that need to be done every week… oh, and then there’s the whole “looking after the kids” thing… and cooking…

The weekly To-Do list:

  • kitchen: clean out fridge; steam-mop floor; garbage and recycling; clean drains; wash rags and sponges; clean microwave
  • bathrooms: sweep and steam-mop; toilets; clean sinks, mirrors and fixtures; empty trash; wash towels
  • living room/ dining room: steam-mop floors; vacuum rug and furniture; clean inside of windows and computer screen; dust
  • bedrooms: wash bedding; dust; laundry; sweep floors
  • basement: sweep entire floor; empty litter bucket and take out

Monthly tasks:

  • kitchen: wash out compost bucket (this would be weekly if we weren’t using paper bin liners); wash inside of fridge; clean oven; clean small appliances;straighten cupboards
  • bathrooms: drain maintenance; wash shower curtain and bath mat; clean grout
  • living room/ dining room: clean under furniture; wash outside windows (as needed)
  • bedrooms: steam-mop floors; dust; air out pillows; vacuum mattresses
  • basement: empty and wash out litter box; steam-mop floors; rotate toys 4x per year*

That’s it for now… any suggestions?

*These guys have PLENTY of toys. I try to keep some put away so I can rotate the selection occasionally- that way they have “new” stuff to play with, and they don’t get sick of everything.

December 26, 2008

Holy Spending, Batman!

Posted in food, money tagged , , at 12:41 pm by allisonwonder

Can I just say, first of all, that it’s extremely difficult to make a budget when you have no idea what certain necessities (like, say, heat and light) are going to cost every month? I guess we’ll be getting those bills soon enough, but in the meantime, I’m kind of stuck.

While I’m waiting for those, I’m going through our other expenses from last month, according to our bank statement. One advantage of not having any credit cards is that everything gets paid for directly from the bank, so everything’s on the one statement. There are, of course, those pesky “GM/WD” entries- cash withdrawals from bank machines- but that’s understandable around Christmas, as having only the one statement makes secrecy difficult. Also, Tim Horton’s doesn’t take debit- Ack!

Here’s a scary figure: we spent over $1000 on food last month (mid-November to mid-December). That’s more than double our normal food budget. Now, that’s what we spent at grocery stores, and occasionally Wal-Mart; some of that might not have actually been food (we might have bought diapers at the grocery store or something like that). Also, that includes both stocking a new pantry from scratch AND a significant number of convenience/prepared food items that we needed before we had a stove or a full-sized fridge. Buuut…

It just seems like a lot. I’ve been saving receipts, so I’ll go back and have a look at what we actually bought, see what we’re spending on things (milk, for example, is horribly expensive around here). Then it’ll be time to figure out what I’m willing to do to save money on food. I’ll bake bread sometimes, and I’ll plan to cook using fewer convenience foods (not that fresh meat and produce are cheap, but it’s got to be better… right?)

If we’re trying to save money, I could probably turn the heat down a degree or two, as well… it’s not tropical in here by any means, but we’d survive if we were a bit colder. Right now, we’re just enjoying the novelty of a heating system that works well and consistently.

December 25, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 am by allisonwonder

dsc07425

December 22, 2008

Bakin’ Bread- My First Attempt

Posted in food tagged , , , at 10:12 am by allisonwonder

Baking bread just seemed to make sense for me. Simon is addicted to toast with butter, and though homemade bread is a bit heavier than the store-bought kind, it’s got fewer preservatives and ingredients that I can’t pronounce, and it’s cheaper (in theory)*. Might even be something Simon could help with.

I came across this recipe on The Simple Dollar a few weeks ago, and it got me thinking about all this stuff- enough that I decided to give it a try. What follows is the ups and downs (or rising and punching-down, if you will) of my first attempt at a loaf of white bread- with pictures!

10:00 a.m.- so far, so good; yeast mixed according to directions on jar (1/4 c. water, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 3/4 tsp. yeast).

yeast 1

10:10- add flour as described in recipe… seems flaky, definitely not glommy enough, even though I only added the minimum amount of flour. Looks nothing like his picture. Re-check ingredients, but everything looks good. Guess we’ll keep going…

flaaaake

10:20- after beating the sh*t out of this lump for almost 10 minutes, the damn thing is still too hard- something is obviously wrong with the solid/liquid balance here. Another look at the directions reveals that his yeast apparently calls for 1 FULL CUP of water… that would do it. We’ll set this one aside and see if it’ll rise, but it doesn’t seem likely**.

dry

Back to the drawing board, then. If I don’t try again right away, I might not do it at all- and I’ve got a whole jar of yeast in the fridge to use up.

10:30- Attempt number two looks better so far- good and glommy after the first bit of flour is added.

better batter

10:35- more flour added, equalling 3 cups. This looks a lot more like the TSD photos.

dsc07466

10:50- bread has been kneaded for 10 minutes; it was much easier with softer dough! I had help, too…

My little helper

Time to let it rise… this means waiting for an hour. Waiting’s no fun, and Simon wants to beat up some more dough, so we start on another loaf, just for the heck of it.

No warming area on our stove, but my bedside lamp gives off a bit of heat, so I move that to the kitchen to keep the dough all toasty-like.

dsc07474 < Yeah, it says 1987. We’re warming it old-school today.

12:00- Time to punch, flatten, roll and put ‘er in the loaf pan…

dsc07475

… and wait AGAIN…

dsc07479

1:15 p.m.- into the oven she goes! Hmm… maybe I should lower that rack next time, eh?

dsc07478  <after a few minutes in the oven

1:45- BREAD! Yeah, like I’m going to wait for it to cool completely before I cut a slice for each of us…

dsc07481

Mmmmmmmmm! Bready goodness.

VERDICT: I will definitely do this again, and once I’ve mastered white bread, I’ll try some different flours. I’m not saying I’ll be able to make all of our bread, but we definitely won’t be buying as much in the future. I’m going to need to be careful about how much I eat, though. :S

 

*This does not take into account, for example, that I will eat WAY more homemade bread than store-bought.

** No rising for this bread. Rest in Pieces, un-glommy bread

December 19, 2008

Shelf-Help

Posted in decorating tagged , , at 1:33 pm by allisonwonder

I like to think that I’m good with bookcases- specifically with making them look nice, rather than construction, though I can knock an Ikea BILLY shelf together if need be.

Take, for example, the corner shelf in our living room/dining room. I love this shelf, by the way- one of the best second-hand deals we’ve ever found.

corner shelf <Pay no attention to the unfinished bottom shelf…

I like balance… space… and things that make me happy. Library shelves, full of books from end to end, top to bottom, are great for libraries, but display shelves are different- for me, anyway. I’ve got my old books out (which I do actually pull out to peruse occasionally), my favourite faux blooms, and lots of pictures. Nothing’s formal, most of the picture frames don’t match, and there’s nothing there that’s just around to show off- if I don’t love it, it doesn’t go out.

upper shelves

It looks casual, but I think about things like depth, layers and balance when I’m arranging shelves (which I probably enjoy too much, actually). Books are standing to the left on the second shelf, so they start at the right on the fourth; the books lying on their sides function as a bookend, but the horizontal lines make it a bit more interesting to look at. The picture on top of the stacked books fills in the space, and the tin pewter frame in fromt of it adds a different texture. I like how the flowers come down at the front (which was actually an accident- I didn’t know where to put them when I was unpacking, so I stuck them up there), which adds another layer to the whole thing. See? I think WAY too much about this stuff.

middle shelves

I don’t think these shelves are completely done, especially the middle ones. There’s nothing wrong with them- I like having one shelf in the middle there just for stuff other than books, and the figurines add different heights and depth to the display, but… I don’t know. It needs something. The shelf below that is alright, too, but definitely unfinished. The books on the right balance the antique books on the upper shelf nicely, but the left side of this one seems too enpty, even with the otters there. “Pip” and “Pop” (as my mom named the otters when she gave them to me) might need to be replaced.

As for the bottom shelf… I’d like to put photo albums there, but anything on a low shelf is vulnerable to attack from the Ikester, so I’m not sure.

Now, there are other people who prefer a more utilitarian shelf- a shelf that will hold as much well-organized stuff as possible. My hubby’s one of those people. He has no problem with a nice-looking shelf, but he prefers to have his book and movie collections out where he can see them. I just want to be clear on something here: I love my husband. He loves his movies. Therefore, I want him to have easy access to his movies and be happy with how they’re displayed. But I’ve got to do something with this:

movie shelves< this, plus 300 DVDs

The movies are extremely organized- alphabetically and by genre. It’s a good system, and it makes for easy browsing… It’s just not pretty.

Eh, some day we’ll get closed cabinets. For now, if he’s happy, I’m happy. It’s all about the compromise, folks. 😉

December 17, 2008

Product Review*: Natura Cleaner & Cloth

Posted in cleaning, product reviews tagged , , , , at 9:41 am by allisonwonder

Home Hardware carries a line of cleaning products called “Natura”- they’re cleaning products that contain natural ingredients, though the lack of an ingredients list on this or any cleaner means I don’t know whether it’s “all-natural” or not. That said, at least it doesn’t scream “ANTI-BACTERIAL!!!” at me, and that scores points right away. 🙂 Spray-cleaner, soft cloths, laundry detergent, dish detergent, toilet cleanerbamboo clothespins if you’re in the market for some.

I’ve only tried two of these products so far: the all-purpose Natura Cleaner and the Natura Cloth.

The cleaner’s been able to handle anything I’ve thrown at it so far**. It’s made with Australian Tea-Tree oil, which I’ve heard is also useful for reducing pimples and boils (the oil, NOT the cleaner!) thanks to its natural antiseptic properties. This cleaner smells AMAZING, too- maybe even amazing enough to convery this gal from her method lavender cleaning spray.

$4.97 for 650 mL

Now, the Natura Cloth- this thing is quite amazing. I bought it to use on dishes, because the other cloths I’ve used always get so friggin’ SMELLY after they’ve been wet a few times, even if I remember to rinse them and hang them up. Cloths and sponges just seem to be breeding grounds for stinky bacteria. The commercials for this one said it wouldn’t stink… and that was, in fact, a speck of truth in advertising. Just as a test, I’ve kept using this one for several weeks without tossing it in the laundry, and it smells like the first time I used it (ie odourless). It’s nice and thick, too, and it has a bit of texture that’s good for scrubbing. Made from 100% natural wood fibre… yet really soft. Huh. Weird.

Please note that if you leave chunks of food stuck to this cloth, the food will start to smell. The cloth has antibacterial properties that keep the wee buggies from breeding in it, but it’s not going to spread that to anything it touches (counters, toilets, bits of crusty spaghetti). Rinse the damned thing, though, and it’s all good.

Natura Cleaning Cloth

$3.97,  40x40cm

VERDICT: I’m definitely going to try some of the other products from this line- most “natural” cleaners are way more expensive than these ones, and I’m happy with the performance so far. Incedentally, I know that vinegar’s a cheaper ‘natural’ cleaning fluid, but I can’t stand the smell it leaves behind. Blegh. Good on fries, though.

 

 

*For the record, I’m not getting anything for reviewing products- I’m just telling you about stuff that I paid good money for, letting you know whether I think it was money well-spent. I can tell you I’m more likely to try out natural products, but I’ll be honest about how well they’ve worked for me.

** technically, anything I’ve thrown it at, I guess.

December 12, 2008

Just in case you’re planning on flying to 1924 this holiday season…

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:19 pm by allisonwonder

The New Book of Etiquette doesn’t have a lot of advice on travelling byplane, as “it’s still new enough to be thrilling for most of us!” Still, there must be something we can learn; after all, as Money Grubbing Lawyer* pointed out a few days ago,  flying was (in theory, at least) a far more enjoyable experience in the early days of commercial aviation.  

so, without further ado, Lillian Eichler’s tips for airline travel:

-“On most of the large planes, passengers are given glassine envelopes containing cotton and chewing gum. The  experienced traveler pads his ears with the cotton and chews the gum to adjust his ears and throat to higher altitude. This is one occasion when chewing gum is not frowned upon as a vulgarity!”

-“The cabin of a plane is so small, the passengers in such close proximity, than any attempt to observe social formalities is quite out of the question. Nobody waits to be introduced- everybody talks to everybody else- strangers are drawn to the common thrill of flying.”

-“It is not customary to tip airplane hostesses. However, if a hostess has been especially kind and attentive and the passenger wishes to show his appreciation, he may have a small, impersonal gift such as a box of candy or an interesting new book mailed to her after the trip is over.”

*(for advice on keeping flying in the present more tolerable, read his post. Don’t go expecting Air Canada to hand out glassine envelopes, now.)

December 10, 2008

The Care and Feeding of Uniforms

Posted in laundry/ clothing tagged , , at 10:58 am by allisonwonder

So my AJ was working late the other night, mhich usually means he’s home around 1 a.m. and then on call after that. Right after he got in, though, he had to go back out- some idiots had got their car stuck in a neighbour’s lawn while they were driving on it in the snow as a joke… don’t ask.

Long story short(er), AJ came in cold, wet, and with mud splashed all over his pants. His work pants. The ones it’s best to have dry-cleaned, but which I’ve been washing at home. Crap.

I have enough trouble with his uniforms when it’s just regular dirt and not lawn slime. Everything goes in the washing machine on the gentle cycle; the pants get hung up to dry, and the shirts go in the dryer, low heat. It’s just the damned creases that are a problem.

I’ve pretty much gotten through my adult life thus far without having to do any significant ironing. I’ve never had any disasters (fire, flood, melted polyester, plagues of locusts and/or frogs), but I’m far from comfortable with the process.

So… the pants have to hang to dry, so they get folded along the creases, hung over a hanger and left to dry in the bathroom (since the laundry area may or may not smell like cat poo at any given time). They end up having little bits of ambient cat hair stuck to them before they’re dry (and often before they’re hung up), but it’s what I’ve figured out so far. The shirts need to be ironed, though- those sleeves need to look nice and crisp, don’t you know!  I haven’t had any problems with that so far… except for finding time to do it when I don’t have two enthusiastic, would-be helpers trying to grab the iron. That and the fact that our mini-ironing board sits about 10 cm off the floor, which brings the friggin’ cat hair back into the picture. And crumbs. And occasionally play-doh, if I’m not careful. But at least I only have to worry about the sleeves and collar- the rest of him’s covered in body-armour, which I’m reasonably sure does NOT have to be ironed. Ever.

AJ happened to mention one night that I might need to starch the shirts sometimes. ‘Cause, you know, I’ve done THAT before. Time for a trip to Home Ec 101? I think so!

But this mud, I just don’t know. The game plan right now is to let it dry, brush off as much as I can, and wash, hoping for the best. Any thoughts?

 

EDIT: Well, well, well… At least I know how to do collars properly, now!

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