6 February 2013

Making house work easy for yourself

You start thinking about making changes to your life, you decide that now is the time, you get all fired up to do something new, like recycling, composting, growing vegetables, baking bread, saving, paying off debt, or whatever. It's fine while that spark continues, but when it dies down a bit, how do you make yourself continue?

When you start new things, set your new systems up so that it's as easy as possible to do it, do it well and continue doing it. Here are a few of the things I do.

Composting/worm farming: keep a covered container on the bench top for vegetable and fruit scraps. Citrus and onion peels need to go in a separate container because worms don't like them.



Feeding kitchen scraps to the chickens: after dinner in the evening, get a bowl and put all the table scraps in it. You can also add stale bread. Leave it in the fridge overnight, take it out in the morning, add leftover cereal and porridge and then take it out to the girls who will love you for it. You can add stale bread to the worm farm food as well.

Growing vegetables: if you've never done this before, start of with a few herbs or tomatoes in containers. That will get you used to looking after plants and watering them, before you're faced with a garden full of vegetables.

You could go from the above to below in a few short years.


Harvesting water: install water tanks or rain barrels, or put out buckets under drain pipes when it rains to catch every precious drop.


Making your own laundry products: write down the ingredients to make what you want and buy them when you do your shopping. If you have it on hand, you're more likely to make it. This does work well, it's easy to make, it will save you a lot of money and reduce the number of chemicals in your home.


Keeping the bathroom and shower clean: do a thorough clean. There is no way out of this, if you want a clean bathroom, you have to start with a clean room. So clean it up, either using Lauren's Karcher methods :- ) or by conventional scrubbing. When it's clean, keep a spray bottle of citrus or lavender vinegar in the shower and give the shower a quick spray and wipe after your shower every day. When you get up in the morning, use the same spray to do a quick spray and wipe of the bathroom sink and bench.




Keeping the toilet clean: like the bathroom, you have to start with a clean toilet. you can clean your toilet in an environmentally sound way, even if it is stained, by flushing the toilet and pouring in half a cup of citric acid. This is natural acid found in lemons, in powder form. You can buy it at the supermarket near the baking goods or buy it in bulk from some bulk food distributors. Do this last thing at night so it will sit undisturbed in the toilet for quite a few hours. The next morning, give the toilet a good scrub. I use a toilet brush with a good edge on it so I can get into all the angles, not a round brush which are usually hopeless. I get my cleaning brushes, including the one above, from my sponsor Biome. When the toilet is clean, you can easily keep it clean by spraying that vinegar spray over the toilet every day if you feel inclined, or a couple of times a week if you don't. Every time you spray and wipe with the vinegar, pour a small amount in the toilet bowl and give it a good scrub with your brush as well.

Saving: find a jar with a lid and start putting your change in it. A change jar will add up to quite a good amount after six months or so and you don't really notice the change going out of your purse or pocket. If you do save a good amount, make an extra mortgage payment or put it aside for birthday gifts.

Reducing what you pay for groceries: If you need to cut $50 off your grocery budget to help pay the mortgage, car loan or school fees, or if you want to pay extra an extra mortgage payment every month or two, don't just take the fifty dollars out. It will be a big shock and you'll end up feeling deprived and resentful.  Cut back on your budget by $10 a week, then $20, then $30 till you reach your target. It will take you just over a month to reach your required cut back but you won't notice it as much. Once you've gone through a few weeks increasing the money taken out, you'll be better prepared to deal with a $50 reduction each week.

Recycling: save suitable jars and bottles to be refilled later and used for ginger beer, cordial and jams. If you have the containers ready to use, it's easy to make something from your excess and store it in the cupboard.


Mending: look at your clothes and household lines as they go into the washing machine and see what needs to be mended, have a button sewn back on or a hem re-stitched. When they're clean and dry again, put everything that has to be mended, in a special basket with a sewing kit, near where you sit at night. It will remind you to mend while you sit.

Cutting down on the ironing: when you hang out the washing, make sure you shake everything before you hang it on the line then smooth out hems and edges when they're hanging. That will get rid of many creases. Don't leave the washing in the basket too long before you hang it out and fold carefully as soon as you take the washing of the line.


I'm sure you have several ways of making your household tasks easier. Please share your favourite tip. It could be just the thing that makes a real difference to someone.


55 comments:

  1. Your blog post are always inspiring me to keep up the homemaking, and I love discovering new ways to be down to earth. I started a worm bin recently and didn't know they don't like onion and oranges, thanks for the tip.

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  2. And this is why I continue and will continue to read your blog. These posts inspire:) Thank you. B

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  3. Fantastic Tips Rhonda! I love reading things like this! Thank you for sharing! Hope you are having a lovely week!

    Warmly,
    Katy

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  4. Hello Rhonda,
    This is so me! I'm frugal by nature, but badly organised, so things often don't seem very appealing & I often slip.
    A good reminder to take small steps to keep on top of things. My husband often says I make hard work for myself, he's right. I need a bit more self disipline.
    Love Angela (south England) UK

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  5. Thank you Rhonda again for such great ideas & tips! Not sure if this helps anyone but usually when I bake or cook I tidy away as I go along. I put things that I have finished with straight back into in the larder/cupboard - that way I have room to work and the kitchen is not too messy by the time I've finished. Kirsten x

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    1. Kirsten, thank you, that is a great tip. I do something similar - I half fill the sink and wash up as I go.

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    2. Makes life a lot easier, I find :-)

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  6. Thank you Rhonda for reminding us of those useful tips.
    I am rejuvenated to keep going!!

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  7. I keep an covered plastic gallon ice cream bucket on my counter for my "wet garbage". I'm not able to compost because we literally have no yard, just a parking space. I do this because it saves me on garbage bags. I'm able to take out the "stinky" garbage each night. We recycle everything we can, bring out the stinky garbage every night and use maybe 1 plastic garbage bag a week.
    I use less plastic AND save myself quite a bit on garbage bags. :)
    - kristin

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  8. Great tips Rhonda! I think the most important tip, which you touched on above, is making the right/good/healthy choice the easy choice. If your kitchen isn't full of healthy ingredients and you don't have a meal plan the easy choice is to order take-away but if you do have those things the easy choice is to cook the meal you have planned from scratch. It's the same with any task really. A little bit often adds up to a lot.

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  9. This post is the very reason I am inspired by your posts. I also wash the dishes and put away things in the pantry/fridge as I cook. I also find planning a menu for the week helps keep us on a budget, and stops unnecessary items being bought at the supermarket. Ann

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  10. Just wanted to say that this post is a really good start for anyone needing a few tips on the path to home making or being frugal or whatever you choose to call it! The only thing that I can think of to add right now is keeping glass jars for storing leftovers or storing opened bags of flour, pasta etc. Or plastic containers if you don't mind plastic - there are so many shapes and sizes of both that you would never need to buy any of those ones that are specially made for storage. You save money and you recycle - win win situation!!!

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  11. When we shower, we use a squeegee over the wet tiles and they stay pretty much clean and streak free. I just clean then with vinegar and water spray and a microfibre cloth every week (or two).

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  12. thanks once again for your great tips, they are always so helpful (& a great reminder for the ones i've forgotten), with the mending tip i place a peg on the item needing repair when i hang it one the line, cause if i've put a lot on the line, i can never remember the one needing repair. the citrus or lavender vinegar is also a great idea - do you just put a few drops of essential oil in normal vinegar? Deb M

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    1. Hi Deb. I steep citrus peels or lavender heads in vinegar for a few weeks, then strain them off and keep the scented vinegar in a jar for use.

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    2. Thanks for this. Is it any kind of vinegar you can use?

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  13. Loved this post Rhonda,
    Just what I needed to read this morning.
    Though not always a bad thing, it's so easy to start off all gung-ho and then burn out later on.
    Patience, Persistence, and Hard Work.

    Bec x

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  14. Put things as near as possible to where you need them, within reason. Or keep everything you need for a task in one place. If you have to go hunt out something, you are less likely to use it.

    Thank you for your sensible advice above. :-)

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  15. I don't have chooks but I do have a compost bin and just keep an ice cream container in the second sink. I was finding it would be a pain to clean or get a bit smelly at times so I have just started lining it with a couple of sheets of newspaper. I find I need to empty it more often but usually no smelly mess left in the container and it has stopped the crows from pulling stuff out of the compost bin. It also increases the carbon content in my compost which is often lacking if I have been slack and not added mulch

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  16. Great tips Rhonda, I've let a few things slip lately but you've encouraged me to get going again! One tip I have is shop monthly, it saves money and time, you need a good freezer though. It takes me only 15 minutes longer than a weekly shop and I save on all that petrol driving to and fro also. If you don't grow your own veg then order a fruit and veg box to be delivered weekly, or go to your local market. The more money you can give to your local farmers, growers and small businesses the better.

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  17. Thank you for the bathroom and toilet cleaning tips. I really want to find a more natural way to do these chores; the chemicals I have been using are so harsh and it makes me less inclined to clean as often as necessary. I will be researching this more.

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  18. If you want to start a herb garden, and know someone who has herbs already - ask for divisions or cuttings. Usually people will happy to share their plants (I'd love someone to take half my mint when I divide it) and this way you get a story/memory that goes with the plant.
    Polystyrene boxes can make good, cheap containers for vegetables - ask your local supermarket or greengrocer and they are often happy to give them away - but do remember to stab with scissors so there are drainage holes!
    Putting your herbs close to the door closest to the kitchen means you are more likely to duck out and use them whatever the weather and easier to water them with any left-over water from the kitchen.

    Karen

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  19. One of my greatest investments has been a small vacuum sealer. If I have food in the fridge that I know won't be used up in the next day, I seal it up and put it in the freezer, even if it is just a small quantity. With roasts, I slice up the remaining meat as soon as we have finished our meal and seal that too. I find I waste very little food using this method and I can also take advantage of perishables on special.

    A great, inspiring post as always!

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  20. I like your tips, Rhonda, thank you !

    Something I like to do, that helped me go from using lots of paper towels in the kitchen, is to tear old bath towels into rag-sized pieces to use for cleaning, wiping up messes, etc. I do keep a roll of paper towels under the kitchen sink, kind of hidden away, in case a guest needs one or in an "emergency", however, I have a mostly paperless kitchen. Also, I use my china, flatware and cloth napkins all the time, even when I have a big family crowd for a holiday, instead of using throwaway items. I rarely iron cloth napkins, just take them straight out of the dryer and fold. Would LOVE a clothesline again, as I once had, and that's next on my list.

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  21. All great tips and sometimes we want to do everything and start nothing so your post has been great. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  22. Thanks for all the wonderful hints!

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  23. Another tip for the ironing is to hang the clothes directly onto hangers on the line. This saves me heaps of time and of course there are no peg markka on the clothes. I use pegs for towels, tea towels, home shorts etc but school shirts all look the same so my son's shirts are on a blue hanger and my daughters hangers are pink. That's for school clothes. When I run out of pink and blue I have 2 other colours however my daughters thirst are obvious they are for a girl so I just use whatever hangers are left over and same with my son's day time clothes t shirts. When they come off the line they go onto the ironing rack/stand and they can be ironed from there. This eliminates the uniforms being dumped in a ironing basket. Also the other live saver I employ is a $5 octopus from ikea which can be found in the laundry section there. I have 3 of them. They look like an octopus with fold down armed which have 2 pegs on each arm. The whole thing has

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  24. Adding to my unfinished comment above... The ikea octopus has it's own pegs on it so I hang all our sock, jocks, and knickers on it. Also if it's raining you just grab one hanger off the once instead of trying to unpeg 30 individual socks, jocks etc. seriously these have changed my life and I've out all my friends on to they.

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    1. I will back you up on this Kathy! We were first introduced to these when living in Japan and ours came back with our shipment - they are a great invention. They are also handy for hanging my daughters wet paintings.
      Living over there also taught us a lot about recycling - bottles must be washed and labels removed, cardboard and newspaper separated, milk cartons washed and collapsed. Rubbish disposal is very expensive and if caught putting waste in the wrong section you get told!
      Yang1

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  25. Fantastic post! Thanks muchly. Even though we all know some of these things it's always good to be reminded of why we should be doing them! Folding clothes and putting them in seperate piles (for each 'owner') as you take them off the line has saved me countless hours over the years - I will always treasure the Aunt who told me to do this.

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  26. Hi Rhonda, love your post, you always have such great advice. I keep an old bin (without lid) near the back door and throw all my paper and cardboard in it. When it is about half full I soak the contents overnight with water (put a brick on top to keep contents fully immersed). This breaks up the cardboard and paper and then they can easily be put on the compost heap as the carbon layer (also add some molasses to the water as this helps encourage the micro-organisms in the compost)
    Leonie

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  27. This is a great post. Short and succinct little reminders and tips to get one through the day. Grand.

    Tips of my own? Hmmm..... I am with you in shaking out the wrinkles on clothes before pinning them to the line. Not only does it reduce wrinkles, but I think the clothes dry faster, too.

    Keep a bag in the freezer where you can add veg scraps until you've accumulated enough to make vegetable stock at home. Its so easy, cheap, and better tasting and health wise.

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  28. Ah Leonie, that's a great tip... I really hate ripping up newspapers for the compost - this might be the way to go for me!

    I need to get into a bathroom cleaning routine... I always hope that my partner will just do it and once he even declared that he would scrub the toilet once a week (my most DETESTED job of all) but it never happened hehe.

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  29. For those that don't have a compost bin or worm farm you can just dig a hole under a tree and bury your vegetable scraps. I have been waiting for my worm farm to arrive and have been burying things underneath the trees in our yard and low and behold a seem to have sprouted enough pumpkin plants to keep the army supplied. Hopefully I can keep enough growing to take to the fruit and veg swap. These are great for seeds and swapping excess fruit and veg.

    I have noticed some deoderant leaves yellow marks on white cotton t-shirts and for kids stains as well hang your washing with stain facing the sun or turn the t-shirt inside out and point the arm pits towards the sun to prolong the life of the shirts.

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  30. Rhonda, can you please give readers your recipe for the citrus/ lavender with vinegar cleaner??

    Great as usual!

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  31. I love hearing other people's ideas. For me cooking more than one meal at a time and freezing one. Or like tonight I don't have to spend as much time making tea because yesterday was my day off and working today so I made last night's tea and did all of tonight's prep yesterday. Feels good to not have to do much when you come home from work.
    I also do a load or 2 of washing everyday. I have a rotary clothes line so when I hang up clothes I hang each person's clothes on a separate side ( 4 sides). This makes it so much easier when bringing it in to put away, it is already sorted.

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  32. Just a couple of tips I can think of at the moment. When washing, I keep a bucket for soaking soiled articles. Come wash day, the stains are easier to remove - just scrub with velvet soap.Also when I get around to dusting, I go around with a damp sponge to remove the dust build up, and then go over again with cooking oil instead of expensive mixtures.

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  33. So many great tips, thank you everyone. I do many of them and won't repeat, so my tip might be that I do a quick tidy up in the house every morning. Takes 10min tops, but stops mess accumulating.

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  34. I love the pitcher and brush for the toilet. (Must find something like that for my own).... About hanging out clothes: try hanging things out in the evening and taking them in in the morning after the dew has dried off them. Or, let them hang for about 24 hours (so long as they get an overnight time). I've had more wrinkles disappear that way than I could shake a laundry basket at. And, as you take things out of the washer, sort them into different peoples stuff, then hang those things together, then take them down and fold them together. And, I keep clothes pins on the line for socks 24/7 and don't bother to take those in which makes it much easier to hang all those little things like socks, panties, hankies, bras, etc. Of course those are the cheap pins and not my nice older ones I had to buy off ebay because I could not find decent ones in the stores.

    For the bathroom: I keep a crock of baking soda for washing my hair and for cleaning the toilet. Just toss a couple tablespoons in the bowl and scrub. No need to flush, just let the next person to use it flush.

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  35. Empty your dishwasher first thing every morning and then load dirty dishes through out the day. Start your dishwasher last thing before going to bed at night so that you can unload again first thing in the morning.

    Have a schedule for laundry. I wash the same things on the same day each week with Wed being my day that various items such as rugs or shower curtains go through as needed. If you have an item of clothing that needs spot treated or mended tie the arms loosely before putting them in the hamper so that you will reminded as you are loading the washing machine. I keep a magnet in the laundry room that I stick to the washer door if I need to remember that something in the load needs to drip dry instead of going into the dryer.

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  36. My tip may be a little bit different as it is geared toward those who have limitations on how much they can accomplish at one time. Due to my health issues, I have days when I cannot accomplish very much in one shot. I have learned to break down jobs into "tiny bites" that I can accomplish throughout the day. If I need to empty and reload the dishwasher, I will empty the top rack and then go back to resting in my rocker, or on to another task that uses a different "muscle group" to allow the first set of sore muscles to rest. The next time I walk into the kitchen I may empty the bottom rack, and then go rest again. This pattern, repeated all throughout the day, allows me to keep up with the kitchen mess and so forth. I never leave a room without carrying one item to its "home" location. I may not accomplish a LOT on a bad day, but at least I accomplish SOMETHING, lol. I approach my hobbies with the same mind set. Some days my tremor precludes sewing/quilting activities. But I may still be able to knit as it is a "larger" motion. So I will keep my knitting near my rocker and when I sit for a rest period I may be able to knit one row before pain makes me stop. Not much...but eventually I will have another knitted washcloth. Every time I leave the bathroom I may remove an item off of the sink top and place it on the bed for safe keeping. After the last item has been removed I will spray down the sinks and vanity top. The next time into the bedroom/bathroom I will wipe it all down and then begin reassembling the toiletries with each future trip. Again, slow and steady is the only way I can accomplish any type of housework. Unfortunately the tiny "bit by bit" method means the areas of my house are never sparkling clean all at the same time, but at least I am still doing some things. I may eventually have to hire someone for the heavier work such as deep cleaning the bathroom or washing down the baseboards, but for the time being I will still eat this elephant of a house one bite at a time!

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  37. I'm firmly in the life with little people stage so I have most tasks broken down into about 5 minute chunks so that when I am interrupted, I can easily pick up where I left off, feel like I did get something done with the time that I did have (there is nothing so discouraging and demotivating as feeling like you worked hard all day yet finished NOTHING), and can give those little ones who are capable a small piece to do so that they learn and feel close to me in what I am doing. This is so key for those seasons when I am working on 3-4 hours of sleep night after night and can't seem to remember what I was doing last after those interruptions.
    This is more of a time management technique but so much of housekeeping relies on that, doesn't it?

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  38. Thanks for the ideas Rhonda! At the moment I can only think of one hint. Years ago a neighbor sorted her washing straight out of the washer instead of just dumping it all in the laundry basket to take to the lines. I thought this was an unnecessary step. Too time consuming. Yet I tried it years later. Now I do it with each load. I have a laundry cart with wheels. I take the things out of the washer. The basket has 4 sides and a bottom. I put all the large mostly flat things in the bottom...the sheets, towels, etc. I will do a pretend load. On one side I stack the wash rags, on the other side soxs, on a third underwear. I tidy each piece quickly as I put it together. flattening the sods and such. How this helps is all like items are in one area. Also some of the flattening and such is done before I head to the lines. Handing things goes quicker and keeps you out of the hot summer sun too. My lines face the sun. Shake and tidy each piece as you hang it if it still needs it done. I usually hang all the little things and undies on the back line. They are easy to find and do that one line at the same time. Then on to other things. Later as I tie the dried things down I take them down in groups of like things. That way the basket is layered with like items and easier to fold and put away too. I hope I have written this in a way it can be understood. Works for me anyway! :) Sarah

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  39. Thank you for another valuable post, Rhonda.

    Julie mentioned Monthly shopping, which I would love to achieve. But how does one get to a point of being able to go a whole month withouy needing to buy? Things such as milk, cheese, cold meats, fruit etc. I buy $50 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables from our local fruit n veg shop... but how do we make it last? How do you make this transistion happen effectively whilst ensuring a constant supply of f&v without having to run to the shop every week?

    Any ideas/suggestions/tips/websites would be appreciated.

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    1. Michelle, when we were doing a monthly shop I still went to the shops for milk, fruit and vegies. But these tended to be smaller shops, not a supermarket. That way you still get the money and time savings of monthly shopping but you've got your fresh produce as well.

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  40. Hi Rhonda read your blog everyday. love it.
    I started small I made a small veg patch, then over the past couple of years its become bigger and bigger, then came more cooking. Then came the chooks, love them last year. This year own cleaning and laundry products. Interesting I run out of laundry powder and use some powder I had in the back of the shelf for a few days, the washing machine began to smell bad. Then back to using yours smell gone, and clothes much cleaner and softer. This year add more debt reduction, we only have the mortgage no credit cards or loans. (learnt the hard way, with a spender of an Ex husband (notice the ex) New hubby is more in line with my lifestyle choice. Work part time at work, the rest of the time at home makes up for full time work.
    Di

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    1. Di, I LOVE getting this sort of feedback. Small steps, always. Well done!

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  41. I save the little plastic bag-clips that come with store-bought bread. (I'm in the United States.) I keep some in the laundry room and when I run across things that need mending, I put a clip on the problem garment. Things that need mending are much less likely to find their way back into closets now. Next step is for me to get more regular about DOING the mending!
    Be well,
    Mary

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  42. I like your idea about leaving the toilet soaking with citric acid. I will have to try that. We do the change jar at our home. I usually keep up with the housework, finding short cuts here and there, once in a while I call a green cleaning service to help me out :P

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  43. After my washing is dry I hang up or fold straight away. I have found that clothing no longer stays in the laundry basket waiting to be ironed (getting more creased as it takes me a long time to get to it) and some of the wrinkles naturally drop out when hung! I iron as need, and find i need to iron less anyway.

    A routine is important, i find if i don't have one, things can be missed throughout the busy week.

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  44. I've been reading your blogs for the past month and have found them really inspirational. I've started making some small changes in my life to live that little bit more simply! I made up 10 litres of your washing liquid the other day and so far, so good. I look forward to never buying laundry liquid again :)I baked your 5 minutes bread the other morning and was a delight to eat for breakfast with my hubby however, the crunchy crust wasn't appreciated by my 20month and 4 year old...not to worry, more for hubby and i! My project this afternoon is to make some orange cordial with my 4 year old. I'm hoping this will be another product I stop buying from supermarkets. Finally, I've started stockpiling as of a few weeks ago and I'm amazed by just changing the way I shop we actually have more food and extra items for when we run out. Thank you Rhonda for writing this blog.

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  45. Water spots on the mirror are one of my pet peeves. I keep a school chalkboard eraser in each bathroom under the sink and use them to buff away water spots each morning.

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  46. Some great tips here - I need all the help I can get! I save my bread bags and use them inside a little bin under the kitchen sink for my food scraps. The lid opens when you open the door, so its easy when you have your hands full.

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  47. Rhonda, I like to keep a small container of homemade softscrub near my sinks and tub/shower. 1/2 c. baking soda, 1/2 c. dish soap (for handwashing dishes), and 1/8 - 1/4 c. of white vinegar. Mix the soda and soap first, then add the vinegar until you reach the desired texture. This works great, and you get a great shine!

    In place of a dryer sheet, I like to use a damp washcloth with a bit of lavendar oil on it. I just throw it in the dryer with the rest of the clothes and it can be used over and over again.

    Thank you for all the really useful tips!!

    Blessings,
    Julie
    www.ourlittleredsaltbox.blogspot.com

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  48. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to
    your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?


    Also visit my web-site :: WEb Fortune Master Online Review

    ReplyDelete



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