Category Archives: Housekeeping

Make-It Monday: Easy shower scrubber

scrubber

Here’s a cheap, easy timesaver for you, gleaned from one of those Pinterest-clickbait listicles. I’m not sure where the idea originated, as several variants on it have been making the rounds for a while, but the upshot is that you fill a dish wand with soap and vinegar, hang it in your shower, and use it to wipe down the walls and fixtures after you shower, thus keeping soap scum at bay and obviating the necessity of scrubbing.

You will need:
Hook you can hang in or just above your shower
Dish wand
Vinegar
Dishwashing liquid

Install the hook. (Protip: Command hooks are worthless for this. I want to love them, but I’ve never had any luck getting the adhesive to work in humid conditions, and the inside of a shower is about as humid as it gets.)

Fill the dish-wand reservoir halfway with dishwashing liquid. Most of the Pinterest versions of this will specify Dawn, as if it has magical properties, but the brand really isn’t important. I think we used Costco’s eco-friendly store brand, but whatever you have on hand is fine.

Fill the reservoir the rest of the way with vinegar (either apple-cider vinegar or plain distilled will work), screw the cap on, and shake it up.

Hang the dish wand from the hook. Before you step out of the shower each morning, give the dish wand a good shake and use it to wipe down the inside of the shower while it’s wet. Takes about 30 seconds and knocks down the soap residue before it has a chance to dry and leave a film on everything in the shower. Not bad for something that costs less than $5 and takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together.

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: Broom and mop storage

This is such a simple thing, I’m not even sure it deserves its own entry, but it has come in really handy, so I’ll post it anyway.

I got tired of knocking over brooms and mops every time I pulled the stepstool out of its spot next to the refrigerator, so I got online and found myself a nice wall-mounted storage rack to take advantage of an unused space next to the basement steps.

Any time I can get some benefit out of an unused space, I'm calling that a win.
Any time I can get some benefit out of an unused space, I’m calling that a win.

The model I bought cost about $15 and has pull-down plastic hooks between the broom-storage brackets, making it perfect for storing my broom, dust mop, sponge mop, dustpan, watering can and plastic-bag dispenser. It’s out of sight, easily accessible, and makes use of a previously dormant space — all essential in tiny-house planning, and very helpful even in our house, which is about twice the size of most tiny houses.

I can’t remember what brand mine, is but it’s very similar to this one. I highly recommend one if you’ve got an out-of-the-way spot to hang it.

Eco-Saturday: Fruit-fly trap

Score one for Pinterest: After an infestation of caffeine-junkie fruit flies this summer, I ran a search for organic solutions to the problem. This one, courtesy of Suburban Turmoil, kept coming up.

For any method to work on a long-term basis, you have to start by finding the source of your bugs. In our case, the flies came in with some dodgy bananas, invaded the compost bucket in search of coffee grounds (apparently a great favorite of fruit flies — not that I blame them) and decided the filter on the underside of the lid was an ideal place to raise kids.

To eradicate the larvae and eggs, we replaced the filter, and to kill the adults, I used Suburban Turmoil’s technique:

Get a Mason jar with a lid. Fill it about halfway with apple-cider vinegar. Add a couple of drops of dish soap, put the lid on the jar, and shake until it’s good and sudsy. Open the jar, add enough water to bring the bubbles up to the top, and leave it out overnight.

Your fruit-fly trap should look like cheap beer with a nice head. Try to suppress the urge to drink it.
Your fruit-fly trap should look like cheap beer with a nice head. Try to suppress the urge to drink it.

The bugs will smell the vinegar, think you’ve got rotten apples for them to snack on, and become trapped in the suds when they try to check it out.

Gross.
Gross.

I caught the better end of 30 flies the first night, and over the next few days, this sneaky little trap killed at least 100 more. Every time the suds died down, I closed the jar and shook it up again, adding soap or vinegar as necessary and replacing the solution a time or two until I stopped finding bugs in it, which took maybe three or four days.

I don’t know the blogger over at Suburban Turmoil, but I definitely owe her a beer for this excellent solution to a really annoying problem.

Emily

Checking in

Good Lord. Did I really just go almost three months between posts? Ridiculous. I promise I’ll try to do better.

Since my last post, I have:

* Spent a week in October painting murals in Tucumcari — one on the side of Tee Pee Curios and one in a garage at the Blue Swallow. It was a great vacation and a wonderful way to relax without slacking. I also established some good habits while we were out there — namely, walking a lot more and getting up a little earlier — which seem to be paying some health benefits I’ll discuss at length in a future post. I’ll try to put some pictures up soon, too.

* Swapped my chickens for another flock of quail. I swore I wouldn’t mess with quail again, because last year’s flock was a pain in the arse, but some ratfink snitched to the city, the very week our chickens FINALLY started laying, so Hazel (whose parents live in the country, and whose mommy wanted to start raising chooks again anyway) now has her very own flock of buff Orpingtons. Rather than give up fresh eggs altogether, which would be letting the terrorists win, I dragged the quail pen out from under the deck and exploited that loophole in the city code, with the help of a couple of small tools that proved to be a giant help. I plan to have a post later this week on everything you need to know to make quail as easy and fun to deal with as chickens.

* Held my first book signing. I sold 31 copies and raised about $350 for my hometown library’s history room, which was cool. I also got to see my sixth-grade English teacher, who is one of my favorites, and whom I hadn’t seen in the better end of 30 years, which was even cooler.

* Created a detailed plan for paying off debt, reducing our environmental footprint, and prepping for an eventual move to a tiny house somewhere in or near Tucumcari (which, for the record, doesn’t have any ridiculous anti-chicken ordinances in its city code). I’ll be sharing some of that over the next few weeks.

* Lost 19 pounds, mostly by eating at home more as part of the aforementioned debt-reduction plan.

I know I’ve scoffed at New Year’s resolutions in the past, but the one I made two years ago (to blog recipes and eco-friendly projects every week) resulted in a lot of good, useful content, some of which has been shared pretty extensively on Pinterest, and the one I made at the start of 2015 (to develop a taste for hops) resulted in drinking a lot of high-quality craft beer and making friends with some really interesting local business owners, so I think I’m going to unveil a few goals/resolutions/projects for 2016 in the next couple of weeks. At least one of them will involve posting here more regularly, because I miss it. 🙂

Emily

Lent, Day 7

Day 7 of my giving-up-random-objects-for-Lent project:

lent7

I bought this to heat-set henna after I moved. I used it maybe three times before I discovered my gray was finally coming in at an acceptable rate, whereupon I stopped dyeing my hair, as I’d always promised myself I would do just as soon as I had enough gray to make it worth the effort of growing out a dye job.

I haven’t used this dryer in over a year, and I’m not planning to use it again. It needs a new home, where it will be loved and appreciated, and I think I know just the place. We have a terrific organization here in Cape called Safe House for Women. Safe House provides all kinds of services to victims of domestic violence — including, as the name suggests, temporary housing.

I feel fairly confident that an organization designed to serve women can put a barely used bonnet dryer to good use one way or the other. If the residents don’t need it, they can stick a price tag on it and sell it at the thrift store to raise a few bucks. Either way, it’s a good dryer that isn’t doing any good for anybody on a shelf in the basement, so away it goes.

This project really is a lot of fun. The total randomness of the objects I’m clearing out of here is amazing.

Emily

Lent, Day 6

Day 6 of my giving-random-objects-up-for-Lent project:

lent6

Ignore the terrible photo quality; my iPhone was having a temper tantrum. Focus instead on the coolness of this find: Four unused CFLs I found under the kitchen sink. I think I bought these on sale several years ago and never used them because LED bulbs got a lot better and a lot cheaper before I had a chance to install the CFLs.

Although they pay for themselves over time, both LEDs and CFLs are still a bit out of reach for a lot of people, so these will go to a food pantry, where someone who can’t afford a $5 lightbulb can install them and see an immediate drop in the power bills.

I think this is my favorite of all the stuff I’ve put in the giveaway box so far.

Emily

Lent, Day 5

Here’s Day 5 of my giving-things-up-for-Lent project:

lent5

I bought this hot pot when I worked at the hotel and had an office in a separate building. I have no idea why someone thought a hot pot needed to have Hello Kitty on it, but it was about 10 bucks cheaper than the less embarrassing models, so I took it to the office and used it to boil water for French press coffee, which I think I made about three times before I forgot to clean the press in a timely fashion and ended up with fuzzy white mold growing all over it. I think that was about the same time my boss decided it would be OK for hotel employees to use the coffeemaker in the lobby, so my penicillin-producing French press went into the trash, and my hot pot collected dust. I have no idea why I brought it with me when we moved. I don’t use it here any more than I used it in Tulsa.

Anyway, it’s going into the box with the other stuff.

By the way, I assume we’re all clear on this, but in case you’re just joining the fun: I’m not posting the random objects I’m giving up for Lent to make myself look sweet or generous or whatever. I live in a 730-square-foot house, so getting rid of things I don’t need is a largely self-serving proposition. My motives in posting the stuff I ditch are threefold:

1. To make sure I remember to put something in the giveaway box every day.
2. To give friends and family who live within a reasonable drive a chance to call dibs on anything they want.
3. To give myself a visual record of the diversity and ridiculousness of the largely unnecessary crap I buy — which, hopefully, will discourage me from accumulating more.

If seeing this project happens to inspire somebody else, so much the better; I imagine most of us could benefit from reducing our household inventory once in a while, and this is kind of a fun way to do it.

Emily

Lent

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Thanks to a quirk of the schedule, I’m now on Day 9 of a 10-day stretch with no days off, and on top of that, we’ve had several nights of subzero temperatures that forced me to move the quail into the garage; the better end of a foot of snow, which required quite a bit of digging out once the streets were cleared (and a 1.5-mile walk home from work in 5-degree weather while we waited, because getting a ride to the office at 2 p.m. is much easier than getting a ride home at 11 p.m.); and outrageously dry air that gave me terrible headaches two mornings in a row before I figured it out and plugged in the vaporizer. Anyway, here I am, and I’ve got an idea to share.

Today Yesterday was the first day of Lent, and somebody on Twitter started a thread asking people what they were giving up.

I’m not Catholic, so I don’t usually observe Lent, but as I was looking at another tiny-house website during some down time at the office, it occurred to me that I really need to start shrinking my inventory of unnecessary crap around here.

One thing led to another, and as I waited around for AP to send over a story I needed for the front page, I hatched a plan: Instead of giving up one thing for Lent, I’m going to take another positive step toward shrinking my environmental footprint by giving up one thing per day.

Once a day, probably right before bedtime, I’m going to go through the house, find one thing I don’t need and don’t use, and donate it to someone who can put it to good use.

For Ash Wednesday, I am giving up this:

lent1

Clock radios are nice. But I haven’t used this one since I got my iPhone, which has a perfectly reliable alarm clock built right in, and I’m not likely to use it again, so out it goes.

What are you giving up for Lent?

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Stove scrub

Ceramic cooktops are pretty. In the showroom. Where nobody has actually used them. In a kitchen where they get daily use, ceramic cooktops are a pain in the arse, because every time a pot boils over or something gets spilled, it chars a ring around the burner that won’t come off with ordinary cleaning, and you can’t just scrub it off with a pot scratcher, because you’ll scratch the stove. Gaaaah!

Fortunately, baking soda and a moderate amount of elbow grease will take care of the problem without destroying your skin or the cooktop.

For this project, you’ll need:

Baking soda
Four rags
A spray bottle filled with water
A spray bottle filled with vinegar
A Scotch-Brite pad (the off-brand is OK)

Start by spritzing down the cooktop with water.

Spray the stove down with water.
Spray the stove down with water.

Sprinkle baking soda over the dark rings around each burner. Lay a rag over each burner and spray it down with vinegar until it’s completely damp. The baking soda will fizz and bubble when the vinegar hits it. This chemical reaction will help loosen the charred mess that’s stuck to the burners.

Lay wet rags on top of the baking soda.
Lay wet rags on top of the baking soda.

Leave them on there for a half-hour or so while you go do something else, then remove one of the rags and take out after the rings with a Scotch-Brite pad and more vinegar as needed to keep the baking soda fairly wet and fizzing.

Use some elbow grease.
Use some elbow grease.

Wipe off the vinegar and baking soda, then wipe down the stove with a damp cloth to remove any residue.

Clean and shiny.
Clean and shiny.

The front burner you see above is the one on the right in the “before” picture below.

Before.
Before.

Feel free to gloat over your handiwork when you’re done.

After.
After.

You’ll have to scrub a little bit, but no more than you would if you used a commercial scouring powder, and this method is cheaper and easier on the environment.

Emily

Excuse my dust.

I haven't really gotten any more coordinated since 1976.
I haven’t really gotten any more coordinated since 1976.

I’m playing with a redesign on my site to make it a little more representative of what I write about most of the time. (The bridge is pretty, but it doesn’t really say “hippie crap,” which — let’s face it — is the main focus of this blog.)

In the interest of getting the preview feature on WordPress to work a little better, I’m going to put up several test posts with random photographs in them so I can see how the image-heavy themes work.

Once I settle on a theme, I’ll be playing with widgets and customizing it, and unfortunately, there’s not a good way to do that behind the scenes. Don’t freak out if you pop in to see what I’m doing and find something that looks nothing like you were expecting. If stuff is jumbled and words are printed on top of each other and everything looks like hell on a platter … bear with me. This, too, shall pass. I hope for this to be more art-driven when it’s finished. The good news for you is that a photo-driven theme will require me to, y’know, post more photos.

Anyway. Gratuitous photo at the top of this post is just there so I have a photo to work with as I look things over. It kind of reflects how I feel when I’m redesigning something, though.

Emily