Saving your time, money, and sanity … since 1997!
IN THIS ISSUE:
– “Dear Readers”
– Simple Living Quote
– Guest Article: Housekeeping – Where to Start?
– Featured Blog Post: Avoiding Mosquito Bites
– Back to School Home Organization Tips
– Letters to the Editor / Reader Tips
– Assorted Information (books, other resources, etc.)
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It’s almost time for back-to-school here … and I know in lots of areas,
school’s already back in session. In honor of the annual exodus to
the local schools, I thought I’d include a helpful article about back-to-
school organization tips. Whether your kiddos are heading to the
school across the street or to your kitchen table, a little organization
goes a long way to make things run more smoothly.
I’ve heard from a number of readers who are homeschooling and are
looking for inexpensive options to the high priced all-encompassing
curriculum available for sale. As a former home educator, myself,
I have some thoughts (strong opinions may be a better way to express
what I think LOL) on ways to save money on curriculum and supplies.
“Homeschooling with a Rock Bottom Budget …”
And here’s August’s Question for YOU …
What’s your favorite tip for saving money on back-to-school expenses?
I’ll compile a representative list of responses for the next issue of
Simple Times. Just send your tips to me at DSimple@aol.com
Have a wonderful week!
–Editor, Simple Times eNewsletter
–Author of the popular Frozen Assets series; A Simple Choice: A
practical guide for saving your time, money & sanity; and Frugal
Living for Dummies®
To browse my books and other resources, go to:
SIMPLE LIVING QUOTE
“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what
you do not say.”
– Martin Luther
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Maxine’s Housekeeping Tips
SUBMITTED BY: Maxine in Idaho
Part #5 – Housekeeping: Where to Start?
Today’s tip is about where to start cleaning. You can skip over this
if you’re an ace housecleaner.
Most home organization books suggest that you start with 4 boxes:
PUT AWAY, GIVE AWAY, STOW AWAY and THROW AWAY.
As you move through a room cleaning, items that you find that can’t
be put away in that room are put in one of the four boxes. PUT AWAY
is for stuff that has accumulated and belongs in another place. GIVE
AWAY is for items that are still good, but that you need to give away.
STOW AWAY is for items that need to be put in storage in the base-
ment, garage, or wherever. THROW AWAY, of course, is for garbage.
(This is a method I’ve never really gotten the hang of. I do something
similar without all of the boxes. I’d explain it, but since I just wing it,
“the method” is subject to constant change!).
OK, start in! Deal with every single item as you come to it. Anything
that can’t be put away in the room where you’re working goes into
one of the 4 boxes. Although some authors suggest that you clean
every nook, corner, cranny and closet at once, I make a distinction.
Realistically, it takes most of a day to clean a room this way. If you
don’t have time to do it all at once, clean the room and come back
to the closets. You might feel more like tackling them if the room is
Except for the daily 5 minutes, I’ve found it is easier for me to clean
a room and just keep at it until it’s finished. If you don’t have the time
or energy for that, just work for an allotted period, such as 15 or 30
minutes. Stop cleaning early enough that you can put away or throw
away the contents of your 4 boxes.
Also, remember that it’s a lot easier to clean a clean room than a
dirty one. This won’t be a big problem if you have been giving the
room 5 minutes a day – but I know you, you’re only doing the rooms
that everybody sees! (at least that’s how I usually do it). In rooms like
bedrooms, I’ve found that it helps to strip the sheets off the bed before
you start working your way around the room.
Where to start? The experts recommend that you pick a starting place
and start cleaning your way around the room. You can start anyplace,
but right by the door is usually a good spot. (I tend to begin wherever
the mess is so great that it is what I see first when I open the door).
As you go from room to room, train yourself to work in the same direction
(it’s easier to see what you’ve done if you have to stop and come back
to it). When you’ve finished the perimeter, hit the middle of the room.
When one room is finished, proceed to the next. Sandra Felton, founder
of Messies Anonymous, calls this the “Mt. Vernon Method,” after the
way George Washington’s home is maintained for the public. (Sandra
also notes that cleaning Mt. Vernon is easy – George isn’t there to
mess it up!!).
Most pro house cleaners also clean from top to bottom – knock cobwebs
off the ceiling, dust, and then vacuum. The idea is that gravity eventually
pulls everything to the floor, so that’s the place to finish. If you prefer a
different order, do what you like. This isn’t brain surgery. I don’t think the
order is all that important.
When you get to the windows, don’t forget to dust the blinds (close them
and dust the surface, then open and re-close so that the other side is
exposed, and dust it). Vacuum the headers on drapes – the dust and
cobwebs will amaze you. Wash the curtains if they need it and are
washable. You can remove a lot of dust from curtains and drapes by
taking them down and tumbling them in the dryer for awhile with NO HEAT.
If the pit you are cleaning is the kitchen, I’ve found that it helps to first
unload the dishwasher, re-load it and start it running. Then, as you work
your way around the room and find other dishes that didn’t make it into
the first load, stack them neatly by the sink. If you have a double sink,
you can put the nastiest ones to soak in one of the sinks. (You’re
probably going to want to have soapy water in the other sink for wiping).
As you are cleaning, keep your eye out for problems and start figuring
out how you will solve them. For instance, my best friend has lived in a
house for 23 years that has ONE towel rack in each bathroom and NO
medicine cabinets. Just fixing those two problems would make a huge
Also, be sure to have wastebaskets in every bedroom, as well as the
kitchen and bathrooms.
Now, if you are like me, you have a closet full of cleaning solutions.
You just KNOW that when you find the right one, all of your house-
cleaning woes will be over. Not!!!!!!!! I also bought into the Don Aslett
(another cleaning guru) idea that I needed janitorial supplies to clean
a home. Except for concentrated spray cleaner that I dilute with water
(because it’s cheaper – I get this at Costco), I now stay pretty much
away from janitorial supplies for two reasons:
(1) Sometimes they aren’t better – they are formulated for situations
that we aren’t dealing with at home. For instance, I just washed my
kitchen floor with something that cost $18 a gallon about 8 years
ago. It doesn’t actually clean any better or faster than Spic’n’Span,
and it doesn’t smell nearly as good.
(2) Sometimes, stronger is not better. Some years ago, I asked a
friend “in the business” to get me something to clean soap scum
off the shower door. My husband, who believes that if a little is good,
a lot is better, slopped it all over the shower and then proceeded to
clean the bathroom sink with it. He took all the finish off the faucets
in both the shower and the sink. Rookies have no business messing
with stuff they don’t know anything about!
You can probably clean just about anything in your home with the
– Mr. Clean or Spic’n’Span
– Powdered cleanser, like Comet. It’s OK to buy a Soft Scrub or
gel-type product, too, if you prefer it, but you’ll probably need the
powder for some jobs.
– Spray window cleaner. Do NOT use all-purpose spray cleaner like
409 on mirrors, because it will remove the silvering. Just another
lesson from Max’s School of Hard Knocks.
– Any other product that you find you use a lot and like. Or that you
currently have around the house. I am in the process of using up all
of those products to free up the storage space for other things.
– Stuff you keep around the house for other purposes: baking soda,
vinegar, chlorine bleach, etc.
– Rags. It’s OK to use a sponge if you prefer one. But you’ll still need
rags for a lot of things. Old terry cloth towels are to be treasured.
After you’ve cleaned the toilet, put the rag in the laundry and get
a clean one.
When you finish with a room and are putting things away, don’t feel
that you have to find a perfect home for every item in your GIVEAWAY
box. We are not giving away puppies, after all! I find it most helpful to
get rid of this stuff immediately. Sometimes there are one or two items
and you know someone who would just love them. Call her now! Give
the rest to Goodwill! (The best person for a particular item is someone
who wants it badly enough to pay for it). Do it now!!!! Do not let your
GIVEAWAYS clutter up your home while you try to adopt them out.
It’s OK to save it for a garage sale if you know you’re going to be
having one in the next month.
If you are cleaning your whole house, start with the living room and
entry (what people see first) and finish with the kitchen (the hardest
room to do). Clean the other rooms in any order you prefer. Don’t try
to do more than one room a day, or you’ll poop out before the finish.
Sorry this was so long! There are still a lot more topics left in me,
including how to organize a closet and an easier way to clean a
small bathroom. So stay tuned.
One final tip: Those of you who have started doing the 5 minute thing
are probably finding by now that some rooms don’t take the whole 5
minutes after the first or second day. (Bedrooms are a good example).
Use the rest of your 5 minutes to clean out ONE drawer. In a week,
you can easily clean your whole dresser.
SUBMITTED BY: Maxine in Idaho
Editor’s Note –
If you missed Maxine’s article about the five minute thing, it’s here:
DEBI’S FEATURED BLOG POST
Avoiding Mosquito Bites
One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes from getting the bite on you is
to avoid being the main attraction at your local mosquito theme park in the
first place. Understanding a bit about mosquito behavior can help avoid
calling unnecessary attention to yourself.
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BACK-TO-SCHOOL HOME ORGANIZATION TIPS
Copyright Juliana Montgomery
Used with permission from EzineArticles.com
As your kids go back to school, crazy schedules challenge your
ability to keep up and mountains of school paperwork begin to take
over your home. There are some simple home organization tips and
strategies to help you keep track of it all and keep your home in order.
1) Make a master schedule.
It is a lot easier to keep track of everyone if there is just one place in
your home where everyone’s schedule lives. My personal preference
on this one is having a whiteboard calendar where I can easily put in
appointments and erase them as necessary. If everyone in your family
has a different color on the calendar that can help keep straight who
is where. This is one of my favorite home organization tips because it
helps immediately streamline scheduling for the whole family.
2) Create some organizational routines into everyone’s day.
Taking time every day to get organized is a great habit to instill into
your kids. Take some time to help them organize their schoolwork
projects. Help them figure out how they need to plan out their day and
their week so they can get everything done that they need to do. Who
knows, with this home organization tip, maybe you will even pick up
some things that will help keep you organized every day.
3) Make sure that schoolwork that comes into your home has a place
Because if it does not, chances are that it will end up in all sorts of
odd and unusual places in your home. If you want to keep clutter at
bay, this is one of those vital home organization tips. You need to
make sure that your kids know where their schoolwork belongs and
what the consequences are if it is found elsewhere in your home.
Making sure that schoolwork has a place in your home will save you
headaches and wasted time looking for schoolwork at the last minute
in the morning.
4) Have a “needs action” board or place in your home.
If your kids need permission slips signed, a doctor’s note, a picture
for a class project, money for lunch, etc, having a board or place where
all of these kinds of things live is a great time saver. Make it a house
rule that everyone checks the board daily. That way you can make
sure that you kids get what they need from you and you do not have
to try to track them down to get them what they need.
A little organization can go a long way as school gets underway and
everyone gets busy with crazy schedules. A few home organization tips
can help you keep your sanity and keep you and your kids organized.
Get more home organization help at http://www.YourHomeIsOrganized.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Juliana_Montgomery
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1506911
Feel free to forward this newsletter to your family and friends!
Debi’s Daily Housekeeping Chore Reminders –
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR / NOTES / READER TIPS
We’d love to hear YOUR tips and ideas for simplifying daily life.
Send your simple living comments and tips to: DSimple@aol.com
Re: Chore Lists
Thanks for your lists! I’m actually starting to make headway in my
house! Where I have things that don’t apply, I substitute in a different
chore and it works out well! (Ex: I don’t have an outside deck or table,
so I cleaned carpets today. And my DOGS appreciate the reminders
for clean water!)
– No name given
Re: Chore Lists
Thank you for these lists… they remind me to do a little every day. I’m
not a fan of big ORDERS to follow, but your lists are short and doable.
To subscribe to the email version of the Chore Lists, you can either
sign up by going to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dailydebi/
or send an email to: email@example.com
You can also find an abbreviated version of the DailyDebi Chore Lists
posted each day at: http://www.facebook.com/thesimplemom
Simple Times Online Archives
SIMPLE TIMES RECOMMENDED BOOKS
Book list for frugality and simple living
Go to: http://snurl.com/simplebooks
As always, a special “Thank you!” goes out to Gary Foreman
and the friendly folks at The Dollar Stretcher for making this
mailing list possible!
== http://www.stretcher.com/ ==
EDITOR’S BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
Books and resources by Deborah Taylor-Hough
DEBI’S ON-LINE RESOURCES:
Personal Blog: http://dsimple.wordpress.com
Cooking Ahead: http://frozenassets.info/
Cheap Eats: http://eatingcheap.wordpress.com
Kids’ Books: http://snurl.com/books4kids
A Personal Note:
About to wrap up my season at the college radio station. I put
in my two week notice on Monday … so a week from Sunday
will be my last on-air shift.
Definitely having mixed feelings about it. I know it’s time to move
on to new challenges and new adventures, but the station has
been such an important part of my life for the past two years. It
just feels sad to think of that door closing. Along with the assorted
changes in my own life, there have been changes at the station,
as well, which makes it not feel quite so homey or part of what I
want to continue in my own life. So it’s a good move all around,
I feel lighter and optimistic about the future now that I’ve put in my
notice, and the changes it’ll be bringing to my life are unknown but
exciting. So I suspect it’s just the last “letting go” that’s hard right
now. (And sitting by folks in meetings who have a hard time holding
back their tears about my leaving probably adds to the mixed feelings
I’m experiencing this week.) But it’s nice to know I’m loved.
On another note, I’m officially registered for college again this Fall!
Looking for work wasn’t … um … working … so I realized I’d actually
have more money available to meet our month-to-month expenses if
I were in school full-time rather than looking for work. So at the end
of September, I’ll officially be on campus as a University of Washington
Husky! Go, Dawgs!
If you’re a praying sort of person, I definitely need some positive
thoughts coming my way between now and when Financial Aid for
Fall quarter kicks in … there isn’t quite enough to keep the bills paid
this month but once school starts, things will be a bit easier.
Oh, and I fell and almost broke my nose this month. Life has been
quite busy and interesting!
AMAZON AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER:
Throughout this newsletter and on my blog and Facebook page, you’ll
sometimes see links to Amazon.com for various books and other resources.
To try to supplement my family’s income, I’m an “Amazon Affiliate” which
means if you click on one of my links and buy that product, a small
portion of the sale (about 6%) will be sent to me from Amazon. It won’t
effect the price you pay or add to your bill in any way. It’s essentially
Amazon’s way of thanking me for sending a customer to them.
If you’d like to help our family a little financially, anytime you enter Amazon
through one of these links, it will keep track of anything you order for about 24
hours and I will receive a small Affiliate payment from Amazon. So if you’re
going to be online shopping anyway, this is a simple way to help our family
make it through this difficult time in our lives as we struggle to keep afloat as
a single-parent family.
Thanks in advance!
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