Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tips to Keep Your Home Clean During Indoor Construction and Renovation

So recently my husband and I have been doing some home renovations, mostly in the kitchen. The process has definitely been stressful, but will be well worth it when we are finished. My old cabinets were sinking down, the counters were swollen from water damage and the whole thing was dated with pink tile back splash (my mother-in-law says it was peach). On top of that we found other surprises which I will cover in a bit. Over the course I have come up with a few tips to keep the home clean and keep your sanity during indoor renovations.

All the drywall and insulation that was removed after finding black mold

First, do not clean anything while work is being done. Cleaning at the same time someone is doing the work during the day is very counter productive. You should allow the workers (whether you or contractors) to finish up for the day before cleaning anything. Think about it, you just dusted off a shelf in your new open floor plan living room, then the worker drills something. Guess what, now there is more dust flying around the room. Just wait till they leave or finish for the day and I promise you will get all the dirt when you are done cleaning.

Second, do light dusting daily on all of your shelves in the home. Sawdust gets everywhere. Start with the rooms furthest away from construction so you can use your cleaning cloth or duster a little longer before it fills up with dirt and dust.

Third, use a hand vacuum every day to clean out things like new cupboards and base cabinets the worker just put up (PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYTHING LIKE GROUT IS DRY FIRST SO SAW DUST DOES NOT GET STUCK IN IT). The saw dust is going to be a bit more like wood chips than dust. So get the big stuff out with a hand vacuum first then dust out the smaller stuff when finished. It is best to work top to bottom. Again, PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYTHING LIKE GROUT IS DRY FIRST.

New surfaces before the tile went up

Fourth, clean all of your floors daily even in non construction areas. Vacuuming, light sweeping and mopping will go a long way. You would not believe how many nails, broken tile, sawdust, etc gets on all of the floors in the house. I even found a nail in my master bedroom carpeting clear on the other side of the house (we think it got stuck in a tennis shoe crevis). Last thing you want is a foot injury from a random piece of material.

Fifth, use a lightly dampened cloth to wipe down new surfaces like new counter tops once everything has set. Wait till all adhesives, grout, etc have dried.

Sixth, when you find surprises like bugs and black mold, take care of it immediately. We took down the base cabinets and found solid black mold (about 4ft by 8ft of solid black wall) So much that we knew it was in insulation. My husband and I had a ten minute conversation and told the contractor to replace the whole wall of dry wall and insulation. We even put up green board so that mold was less likely to show up there again. That was a good thing we did because when the contractor took down the dry wall we found a carpenter ant infestation that had just started. We called Orkin Pest Control that day who sprayed it while the wall studs were still exposed. Hopefully, we do not have another issue for some time.

The Carpenter Ant Surprise

Finally, and most important, DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. Big stuff such as bugs and a ton of black mold like we found is okay to sweat over, but don't let emotions control you, even the "I like this thing" kind. Being over emotional over things like materials to buy can lead to impulsive buying of things you do not need and wont use. It can also lead to impulsive decisions on important things that really need to be thought about.

All in all I hope this helps some of you keep the home clean and keep emotions from making you lose your mind.

All done

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ten things you can clean in the dishwasher besides the dishes

We all know that you can wash dishes in the dishwasher. Thus the name dishwasher. However, there are many other things you can clean in there besides pots, pans and plates. The fact is you can use this machine to clean and sanitize just about anything that can take on water. Here is a list of ten things you can wash in the dishwasher.

1. Eye Contact Case and Eye glasses.

I started with this one because many readers don't think twice about this.
For eye contacts, many think that the contact solution is enough to keep the case clean. However, that solution does not clean or sanitize most of the case at all. So it is still carrying bacteria that may also end up in your eyes. Throw it in the dishwasher silverware compartment. As for glasses, think about this. How often do you set those on tables, counters, in purses etc? What did you touch today then later touch your glasses? Yeah, any bacteria that was there is now on the glasses on your face. You can set these in the top rack opened like you are wearing them.

2. Plastic sandwich bags

That's right. With a good wash these can be used again. If you set them on four prongs (two on each end) it will keep the bag open for the soap and water to get in there and wash them. They also dry quicker this way.

3. Trash cans

I personally hate scrubbing these things in my tub. If the trash can is short enough, you can wash it in the bottom rack. Just make sure you pulled all the trash that was stuck on the bottom out first.

4. Bathroom containers and soap dishes.
You can put any metal or plastic bathroom containers such as tooth brush holders or soap dishes in the dishwasher. Just be careful with ceramic ones. For those do not use the hottest setting, rather use the coolest.

5. Car Hubcaps

You read that right, car hubcaps. Simply put a small cereal bowl full of vinegar in the top rack, put the hubcaps in the bottom and viola. You have clean scrub free hubcaps while you wash the rest of the car.

6. Pet toys

Do your pet's toys get gross? You can wash them off in the dishwasher. Put plastics in bottom, and stuffed on top.

7. Metal fixtures

You can put clogged shower heads, gunky sink faucets, cabinet and drawer handles all into the dishwasher. I recommend rubbing baking soda and using a bowl of vinegar in the top rack to really combat mineral buildup.

8. Vacuum filters

I put mine in the silverware rack because it is small and even flies off of the top rack. You may also want to rinse off large debris first like hair.

9. Sneakers, sandals and croc shoes

You can put many shoes in the washer such as flip flops and sneakers. The only ones that cannot go in are leather, suede and wood.

10. AC vent covers

This is one thing that rarely is thoroughly cleaned in any home. Just unscrew them, put them in the bottom rack and wash in a pots and pans cycle (hottest and longest).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Homemade Clothes Softener Made with Rosemary Herbs

So I found this recipe some time ago, but never got around to posting it. I love it a lot and it actually enhances the cleaning power of my liquid laundry detergent recipe, as in it helps get rid of the really bad smells in my husband’s ACU (Army Camouflage Uniform) and PT (Personal Training) clothes. Many military spouses can tell you some marines, soldiers or sailors can and do come home stinking to high heaven. My old softener was not really working that well. It just added clean cotton smell with sweat and wet dog smell on really bad ones. The detergent was helping and for the most part got most of the smell out on its own, but sometimes the smell did linger and I had to wash the clothes twice. Here is how I put this to a real test. During the week long sitting period you will see in the instructions, I kept two sets of PT uniforms washed and another one not. When my husband was not doing PT with the unit, he would wear the dirty ones so the smell kept adding on. When the one week was up I washed both the uniforms that I washed every day and the one that was not washed all week. For the test run, I used the liquid detergent recipe and this recipe. I must say I did not expect much since Downy did not do a good job before this. I was completely surprised when all three came out not only not smelly, but they smelled better than the Liquid detergent recipe and Downy combined. So I am definitely using this again and feel it is a good one to put up on this blog. I am probably going to make a gallon worth next time so I do not run out so quickly. If you want to do that as well just quadruple the recipe.

Measuring cup
2 Container (I used a large mason jar for the first and an empty 1-gallon Downy container for the second that had been cleaned out, which was more than enough)
Mesh Strainer (can use a cloth if you don’t have one)

3 cups Vinegar
1 cup Vodka
1 sprig of Rosemary (approx. 4-inch-long stick with green leaves attached)

First you need to take the scissors and cut up the sprig and leaves. You want the pieces to be somewhere between ¼ inch to ½ inch long. Put the pieces into the container. Now pour the vinegar and vodka into the container. Close the lid and put the first container in a dry area. Let it sit for one week. As this sits the natural rosemary extract will be coming out of the leaves, making it smell nice. The vodka actually helps this process. After the time is up, use the mesh strainer and pour the liquid into the second container carefully. You do not want to keep the leaves inside the new container as overtime the green chlorophyll will come out and can stain clothes. Now it is ready to use.

Usage instructions are as follows

Pour into the softening dispenser. Or as you would normally do with your softener before.
¼ cup for small load
½ cup for medium loads

¾ cup for large loads

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Homemade Washing Machine Cleaner

So you just washed your clothes and the still stink and so does the washer. Chances are it is not the detergent you are using rather it is the washer itself. So how do you clean the behemoth of an appliance? That is more simple than most people think and should be done at least monthly to keep the machine performing at its best. Here is a recipe I have found that works really well for getting the stinky smells and soap scum out of the washer.

Measuring cup

1cups Washing soda
1/2 cup Borax
2 cups Vinegar

to make and use
First, mix the washing soda and borax in a bowl till evenly mixed. Then pour the mixture into the detergent slot. If you do not have a detergent slot, that is okay. Then pour the vinegar into the softener slot. If your washer does not have either the detergent or softener slots, that is okay. Just pour the washing soda and borax into the drum and pour the vinegar into the bleach slot.
If your washer has a self-clean setting, set it to that and run the washer.
If your washer does not have a self-clean feature, set the unit to the longest, hottest and deepest water setting. So say for mine I would set it to hot water, heavy soil and large load. Now run the washer.

Once the cycle has ended make sure to check the drum for powder that did not dissolve (should not be any). If there is run a rinse cycle. After that you are done.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weekly Shower cleaner

We all know scrubbing the tub and shower can be a real pain in the rear. Especially on the lower back. I find this is doubled when you have hard water. My state in particular has a ton of calcium and lime in the water. So how do you scrub that off without breaking your back for too long or putting a few chemicals on the tile and porcelain? Baking soda and salt. Both have great scrubbing qualities that do not require a lot of muscle at all. The baking soda can also easily scrub the grout which I find is the hardest spots. This recipe I find works for me but if you do not have a shower head with a hose, I highly recommend having a regular cup ready to rinse at the end instead.

Shower head with hose (or Cup if you do not have a hose attached to the shower head)
Measuring cup

1 cup Baking soda
1 tbsp. Salt
Water as needed

First measure and mix the ingredients together in the bowl until salt is evenly distributed. Wet your sponge or cloth and dip it in the bowl on the side you intend to use for scrubbing. Rub it onto the tile and tub in circular motions. Do this until the bathing area looks and feels clean. The tub and tile should feel smooth but not slimy with the exception of the mixture being on it. Use the shower head hose to rinse off the baking soda and salt when finished. To polish wipe dry with a clean dry cloth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fun to Watch Homemade Sink and Drain Cleaner

So this one is a very familiar recipe. That is because it almost the same as the toilet cleaner recipe, if anything it is just simply doubled. However, its use is a bit different than just cleaning the porcelain sides. This recipe can also help clear your pipes of minor clogs and also for regular maintenance of your bathroom and kitchen pipes for both sinks and tubs.  Also much like the toilet cleaner, this recipe is fun for kids to watch as the baking soda “magically” disappears.

Materials you will need to make and use this recipe are
2 measuring cups (one for dry baking soda ONLY and the other for vinegar ONLY)
1 scrubbing sponge or cloth

2 cups of baking soda
4 cups of vinegar
Water (enough to wet sponge, fill sink, and check the drain)

To use
First, wet your sponge and dip it into the baking soda with scrubbing side down. Scrub the sides of the sink with it. Do not worry if you do not get everything off during this part. Every four to five scrubbing motions (whether circles or up and down is up to you) dip the sponge again. When you are done cleaning the entire area take the drain stopper out if you have one. Pour half of the baking soda (1 cup) down the drain. Slowly pour half of the vinegar (2 cups) down the drain. Let that sit for 30 minutes before going onto the next part.

Now after 30 minutes go get the kids. Put the drain stopper back in and close the drain. Fill the sink with water. Pour the rest of the baking soda into the sink. Then slowly pour the rest of the vinegar. Put the sponge in there with it as that will rinse it out and sanitize as well. Watch as the sink and sponge starts to fizz. Let that sit for about five minutes and then open the drain. If the sink is still slowly draining you can repeat the first part. Run some water once the sink has drained to rinse the porcelain and the drain. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Travel Tips

When I was dating my now husband, I flew....a lot. Why? My husband was active duty at the time. I was flying about every other month. Over that time I have learned a thing or two that can be helpful for most. Here are a few tips for traveling that can help anyone traveling.

How many days will you be gone will depend on how much you pack. One rule of thumb is to pack half the number of shirts and pants for the number of days you will be gone. Of course the exception to that is underwear. One per day for that. Example you will be gone 8 days, then pack 4 shirts, 4 pants and 8 pairs of underwear. If you will be gone for a few weeks, then pack 7 of each.  Many hotels, particularly on a military base, have a wash room for visitors. Also most gas stations have travel sized laundry detergent packs. If you have a special event such as a wedding, then do not include that outfit in your number of shirts and pants or skirts.
When putting them in your baggage, remember, tuck and roll. I like to fold all my clothes in half, tuck in sleeves, then roll them up like a Twinkie. This saves a ton of space in your bags.

Gifts and Souvenirs

If you plan on buying a few souvenirs, I suggest packing an empty back pack or duffel bag. You can simply use that as a carry on or personal bag when you go home. Also you have less of a chance the baggage workers breaking any thing fragile.

If you know you will be giving and receiving gifts that will be in large enough quantity to have their own checked bag, ship them to your destination. Even most hotels will hold packages at the desk for you as long as you notify them that they are being sent.

Devices and Chargers

For the travel day, make sure you charge all the devices you are planning to use while en route the night before you leave. If you are going on a long flight that will be more than four hours, you may want to bring at least one fully charged back up battery or power bank.

When packing tablets and laptops, make sure you do one of two things. Either put the device in a pocket you can access quickly, or use a carry on bag that has a pocket that folds flat when unzipped like the one in the permalink. Many of those bags will have some sort of "checkpoint friendly" label on the pocket. Remember, do not put any chargers in the same pocket as the laptop or tablet. Your bag will be pulled aside. You will have to rearrange it, and it will be rescanned.

As for other items, if you can live without the item or simply do not need it during that time, then do not pack it.


Although I do not have any I have traveled with them. I do know babies and children can be unpredictable, but maybe some of what I have done and seen other parents do will help.

 For babies and toddlers, if they are beginning to eat at regular meal times or you have an idea what time they will be hungry try to get a flight that is scheduled to take off at that time. Eating and drinking will help to alleviate ear pressure naturally when they swallow. Also Transportation Security Administration now allows formula to go through as long as you notify the officers and if it can be screened separately from the bag, so only put it into a plastic bottle. 

Bring their favorite toy or two. These can be very comforting in a time where it is loud for little ears.

 Distractions work wonders. I encourage bringing travel board games, cards and electronic devices for the kids too. Especially ones loaded with tv episodes or movies for long flights.

Use Smart Phone Apps for airlines and airports

Most if not all airlines now have apps where you can do everything. If you have a smart phone use them. You can check in, get your ticket and have the bar code scanned at the gate all from the phone. that will male one less thing to worry about losing. You can also check your flight status

Many airports also have apps. These will have flight status as well, but many of them also have GPS location services inside the airport. This is extremely helpful if you get lost trying to find your gate or just need a bite to eat and want to see what they have to offer. For instance Orlando International Airport has a Chili's, while Charlotte International Airport has a neat little fudge shop(best place ever).

 check in

For all airlines you can check in up to 24 hours before your flight whether online, on that airline app, or over the phone. You will want to do that to have one less thing to do at the airport. If you have checked bags you still will want to check in ahead of time. Doing so will expedite the process for everyone. Also remember that extra back pack you put in your checked bag for souvenirs? If your bag is overweight you can now use that to take some pounds out and not have to pay extra fees.

Read your ticket

 For either electronic or printed ticket make sure you know what terminal you need to be in. The last thing you want is to be on the wrong side of the airport when the plane starts boarding.