Airing my Dirty Laundry

ironing

By Liz

When I first meet people and tell them that I am a full time homemaker with a household of 7, I can almost see their faces turn into posters of pity, thinking that I must be buried under loads of dirty dishes and laundry; that my house must surely be perpetually messy and I spend my time chasing after young, disheveled, banshee like children about to climb all over the furniture or take crayons to my walls.

Thankfully, I have paid my dues in that area and those days are long behind me.  My brood is mostly made up of teens and young adults now, but that doesn’t mean that the chores for this full time homemaker cease to exist anymore.



As you can imagine we generate a lot of laundry in our house.  This may come as a shocker and I am probably going to come off as a discredit to my fellow homemakers, but I do enjoy doing laundry.  I know many others may despise this necessary chore, but I find a certain relaxation in it.

First of all let me say, that even though I do the majority of the laundry, the rest of the family does help out and does what is necessary. Secondly, we do not have a designated “laundry day”(with the exception of bedding, that gets done every Sunday) where all the laundry is completed in one day. We do laundry just about every day.  I guess you could say it is done in moderation, just like any successful, diet, exercise, or budgeting program.

I read and hear all the time how exasperated people get when they talk about doing laundry.  This always makes me laugh. What is it about laundry that gets people so beat down? You dump the load into the machine, close the lid and press a button. It’s not like the old days where you had to drag your clothes down to the closest river and beat your clothes on a rock, or even more modern, pull out a bucket, washboard and the most skin irritating soap known to man and scrub until your fingers bleed.

sorting

Our system is a pretty easy one.  Everyone has a clothes hamper in their rooms, when it starts to get full, they are to empty their items into our clothes sorting system, kept in our garage. Our sorting system is made up of 4 large plastic hampers that are designated, one for whites, one for jeans, one for towels and one for colored clothes. When those hampers are brim full, it is time to wash that load.

detergent

We do save some money on our cleaning products. For many years, we had used commercial products, but then I started reading about more cost efficient, homemade products. I was very reluctant and skeptical to try any of these, but one weekend, I decided to make a batch and experiment for a week, if we didn’t like it or it did not do a sufficient job, we could always switch back to the commercial brands. I am happy to say, that it worked out and we now use a homemade version of laundry detergent, thereby, slashing our cost on detergent, “thanks Mary Hunt of Everday Cheapskate”.

washing-machines

Our machine’s are high capacity, energy and water efficient brands and we wash everything in cold water (unless hot is really needed to get something sterilized). I would love to be able to tell you that with all that laundry for 7 people that we save a ton of money by line drying. I love line dried clothes, it was the method we used when I was a kid in the Northeastern part of the country there is nothing like the smell of sun bathed, crisp linen sheets or clothes.  However, here in Texas, it is just not feasible. While yes, we have plenty of sunshine, we also have plenty of dust and allergens being blown around most of the time.

I remember the first time, I insisted to my now husband that I wanted a clothes line in the backyard of our old house.  With some reluctance on his part, I finally got my way. When the day came that the line was up, I could not wait. I did a batch of towels in the morning, got them out and up on the clothes line before I headed off to the office (back in my working days).  Later that day, when I had come home and proceeded to take the clean, dry clothes off of my line, I noticed there was a sticky green/yellowish film on each and every towel.  Turns out, spring pollen had thwarted my efforts that day to try to save on energy, because now I had to re-wash the load and run it through the dryer.  That is how it is here in the Metroplex, there always seems to be something floating in the air.  If it’s not pollen, mold, ragweed or other allergens, then the dirt and dust from all the construction in the area certainly will hamper this kind of effort.

dryer-balls

So our dryer gets used on a daily basis as well and while we know that this appliance is a money sucker, we do what we can to minimize the monetary sting.  We have invested in a set of wool dryer balls to help with static and minimize wrinkles, instead of using fabric softener or dryer sheets; we dry back to back loads as to ensure maximization of residual heat; we clean the lint trap at the beginning of each load; and every 6 months, we pull the machine out away from the wall and clean out the venting system in the back of the machine.

After the machines are all done doing the hard work, I then get in some much needed down time.  I bring my baskets of dried laundry into the living room at a time when no one else is occupying it and start folding and making individual piles for each owner.  Depending on the time of the day, I may turn on the T.V. and catch up on the news while tending to this chore, but more often than not, I do it in silence and use this as my reflection time with my life and with God.

folded-clothes

 

When all the piles of clean, neatly folded laundry is completed, they sit for a short time in our living space.  Before dinner hits the table, each owner has come to get his or her piles and they are responsible for putting them away, just as on Sundays, each person is responsible for re-making their own beds once the bedding has been laundered. Believe it or not, and I am not making this up, when each kid comes to collect their piles, they do genuinely thank me or I get a kiss on the cheek.  And I don’t even pander for it, maybe that is part of the joy I get from doing this task.

Now many of you might not have these same kinds of luxuries, such as older kids that can take care of their own clean laundry and linens.  Maybe you have to fold,  hang up and put away every stitch of clothing, maybe do some ironing and maybe you have to make every bed in your home, and while I agree this might seem like a cumbersome chore, I believe it is all part of homemaking.

Don’t forget, this has become yours and my chosen profession, because we feel it is important to sustain a well balanced, happy home and family; and like with any profession, it may come with some big and tiresome job responsibilities,  but it also has a great benefit program.



Do you have to much Stuff?

 

chaos

By Liz

“Everybody’s gotta have a little place for their stuff. That’s all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff.” — George Carlin

When I was making my first cup of coffee this morning, I went to retrieve a coffee mug from my see through glass paneled pantry cabinet and as I looked up, noticed that these cabinets were housing an array of coffee mugs, vases, cookbooks, pitchers, popcorn bowls and several other items that don’t get used on a regular basis and while my coffee was brewing, I thought to myself, “I really need to weed out all the junk in these two cabinets”. After I poured my coffee, I thought about the cabinet space directly below it that is closer to the floor.  That space is occupied by more cookbooks, large serving trays that only come out on holidays, old food storage containers and place-mats.  I realized that we only really use 2 of the cookbooks on a regular basis that occupy the space in these cabinets and maybe 2 or 3 sets of the place mats come out into regular rotation.

stuff

So I started to make a mental inventory of what I could get rid of from that space, but as I was making that list in my mind, I would veer off to the unused tablecloths and tea set in my dining room sideboard and the pile of refrigerator magnets in my junk drawer and some of the Christmas presents that I received months earlier still sitting in their original boxes on a shelf in my bedroom closet. All of a sudden, I was feeling completely overwhelmed and my head was spinning with thoughts of where I should start this purge?, and when do I have the time?,  and just like that, it usually gets put on the waaaay back burner and this exercise is in jeopardy of not getting accomplished.

My husband, myself and our brood moved into our current house, only a few short years ago.  Our previous house was approximately 1600 square foot, and as the kids started to get much bigger, we always seemed to be on top of one another. So we moved into our current house that has approximately 2800 square feet, much better when it comes to breathing room and personal space for all of us. When we were getting ready to move from our old house, we needed to get rid of a lot of stuff, after all, there were many years of accumulated crap.  We had at least two garage sales, donated countless boxes of clothes and household items and threw out bag after bag of trash, and this was all before we even packed our first moving box. At the time, it was overwhelming and a huge hassle.  I never wanted to have that undertaking again.




I dislike clutter and as I have mentioned before, my home decorating style is minimalist. There are not a lot of knick knacks donning the flat surfaces in the rooms of my house, simply because I despise cleaning all of it.  However, it appears as though my closet and cabinet spaces area a different story. So, because I didn’t learn my lesson during the time of our move, we apparently, still have a huge abundance of stuff.

The problem is the thought of spending the time to go through it to get rid of it.  When I think about it; I get discouraged and feel completely overwhelmed.  I know I have to do it, but it becomes something I procrastinate on. However, then it becomes this double edged sword, and then seeps into my thoughts, day and night and I think…”yeah…I really have to get to that”.

Yes, I am aware of the “one in…one out method” and I really do try to adhere to that, and I also am very aware of designating a specific day to tackling this clutter dilemma. The problem is working up the ambition to do it, because that feels like such a massive undertaking.

So I have decided to take a slightly different approach.  This upcoming weekend, I plan on picking up at least 2 moving boxes, assembling them and come Monday afternoon, plop them down in the middle of my kitchen, bedroom closet or in the middle of my living room.  I am going to start my timer and give myself 30 minutes to physically touch items and determine if it is something that has seen the light of day in the past 6 months and if it stays where it is, goes into the box designated for donation or the box marked for trash.  When my 30 minutes is up, I will be done with this exercise for the day and I will put the boxes into the garage and if they are not full, pull them out on Tuesday, Wednesday, etc…until the two boxes are full.

car

Once I have filled the two boxes, they will go to their final destinations either out on the curb on trash day, or dropped off to the donation bin at our closest Goodwill.  Then I will repeat the process the following week.  Even though it is going to take me quite some time to go through my house using this method, I know that I will still feel a sense of accomplishment and I will be achieving my goal of decluttering my “stuff”, albeit 30 minutes at a time, and I will certainly be making a more contentious effort, while I am out….not to bring home more stuff!




Dusting it Off

dusting

By Liz

Do you like to clean? Do you look forward to getting your home ship shape? Maybe put on your favorite music and sing and dance while cleaning like no one is watching while you do so? Yeah……me neither.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house, but I don’t like to do it.

Many of my family and friends know this about me and have asked why I just don’t break down and hire someone to clean my house.  Simply answered, I just can’t justify my laziness in this area. We all have things we hate to do, but sometimes you just “gotta suck it up buttercup”….right? So if there is any way I can shorten my weekly ritual, and still get clean results, you bet your bippy I am going to find it.

Let me first give you a quick synopsis of my home décor.  There is very little of it. When I was a kid living at home, my mom had so much stuff, it was like being in a museum.  I think because her parents were from the Great Depression era, that way of thinking (never throw anything away) and decorating were a part of the baby boomer generation as well. So back then, in our house, you could always be sure that there was a knick knack of some sort occupying every flat surface that was available in the house, and it was my chore to dust it all!




Needless to say, when I became an adult and moved out on my own, I took a more minimalist approach to decorating. I do have some tchotchkes of my own that I display, but they are few and far between which means, there is a lot less to clean.

The following is a list of the best tools that I have found for dusting that make this chore easy and produce the best results.

1. Microfiber cloths. This wonder material is great for surfaces that you need to dust, but don’t want to put any cleaner on. I use this cloth to knock the dust off of my T.V.s; table top glass framed pictures; and it does wonders getting all the pet hair off of our leather couch.

2. Orphaned, cotton socks. Slip one of these babies over your hand and you now have a 2 sided polishing cloth to use with your furniture polish. The great thing about this tool, is once the sock becomes to dirty and dusty, simply pull it off your hand and replace with a clean one.  Since we are a family of 7, we seem to have an abundance of these dusting cloths, if you don’t have many in your inventory, I am quite sure you can ask friends or family to start saving them for you, even though you might get some strange looks.

3. Walmart’s, Great Value, Furniture Polish. After many years of dusting and trying many different products, this furniture polish is my all time favorite because it works great! It doesn’t go on heavy so it does not leave a thick residue behind. It leaves my furniture dust free with a nice, streak free shine to it; and the answer is NO… I am not getting compensated to say this.

4. Ostrich feather duster. I love this tool, I use it every week, sometimes 2 times a week to dust the whole house (if the spirit moves me)without using my furniture polish and cotton socks. It is easy and I can glide through my entire house and dust off all surfaces in less than 15 minutes. I generally use the polish and sock method about once every 4 to 6 weeks. A helpful note: only use 100% ostrich down feathers for the best results.  Ostrich down is softer, more pliable, and more valuable than run-of-the-mill feathers. Forget cheap synthetic dusters, brightly dyed chicken-feather dusters, or even regular ostrich feathers. They don’t work.




You might be asking; what is the best way to keep these tools clean?…glad you asked.  To remove the dust from your feather duster, simply take it outside and shake it upside down vigorously. If you require a more thorough cleaning of the duster you may use warm soapy water, followed by a clean water rinse, then hang to dry.

For both your cotton socks and microfiber cloths, proper care is a snap. No fabric softener, no bleach, no heat – that’s all you have to remember! Wash in the washing machine with detergent only. Tumble them dry on low heat or no heat.

Now let me add that these aren’t all the tools I use for my deep spring cleaning, all of them make an appearance during that time, but a few more come out as well, but that is another article to be had later on and just a reminder that these products are meant to be used in this fashion for maintenance of your dusting needs. If you have neglected your dusting duties and are starting from a position with a few inches of dust on your surfaces, you will need a deep cleaning first, and then you can maintain your clean surfaces with these 4 products.