Neaten Your Nest in the News and Blog switcharoo

Hi everyone! I have completed my transfer over to self hosted on WordPress.org. I’m still figuring out the social media side of it, getting my ‘follow’ buttons up, etc so for a few weeks I will double post on both that site and this one. However, please know that soon I will be fully switched over to the new site. Here’s the current news for Neaten Your Nest:

Today I had the amazing experience of being on a guest segment on our local Fox News station in Colorado Springs. I discussed several different ‘green’ cleaning products that you can make at home. I will hopefully have the link up tomorrow so I can share the whole segment, but for now I wanted to list out the products I talked about:

All Purpose Cleaning Spray Granite Cleaning Spray Green Shower Spray Homemade Laundry DetergentHere’s a still shot from the segment. I’ll get the link to you soon!

Foxy Moms Segment~Erin

Spring Greening – (Almost) Green Shower Spray!

Hi everyone! A couple days ago it was Earth Day and I thought, “what a perfect day to give my first green product review.” However, April 22nd came and went and I didn’t get around to this post. Oh well…every day is Earth Day, right? 🙂

So, I’m talking about my homemade products that I started making with my friend Jen. You can read more about that here. I didn’t want to give any reviews/ recipes until I had actually tried the things we made. So here is the first one!

(Almost) Green Daily Shower Spray

Green Shower Spray

So the reason it’s an ‘almost green’ product is because it has a little bit of store bought liquid dish washing soap in it. However, we used the Dawn Pure Essentials version of the dish washing soap without dyes, so it’s as close as I can get to ‘natural’ or ‘green’ while still containing a commercial cleaning product.

Dawn Pure

The only other ingredients are vinegar, water and tea tree oil. Sooooo easy breezy to make.

When we were first putting this spray together, we had a couple of considerations.

1) We had done some research and found that ‘daily’ shower sprays required just a little bit of the liquid dishwashing soap. However, the actual cleaners which you would only use on cleaning days required more of the soap; some sites said 6-8 oz, some said equal parts vinegar and soap. Jen used equal parts water and vinegar and then added about 6 oz of the soap since she was making a cleaner instead of a daily spray. I just used about 2 Tbs because I wanted a daily spray that wasn’t quite as thick.

2) Tea tree oil is STRONG! We had originally added about 1/2 tsp of tea tree oil to each spray. However, when I got it home and started using it, the smell was overwhelming. So I ended up splitting my spray into two batches and adding extra vinegar and water to each.

My plan was to use this spray in my shower for two weeks and see how it worked. So I started spraying it in my shower every single morning. I also started spraying it on my sink faucet. We have ridiculously hard water and I have struggled with cleaning our bathrooms and kitchen since we moved into this house. I normally scrub my tub and shower every week, but I wanted to really test how this product worked. So I scrubbed my shower to a spotless shine and then just used the shower spray every day for 2 weeks….no scrubbing at all! I just skipped my weekly cleaning, which was actually a nice break for me!

The results?

Well, I would say I normally spend about 10 minutes scrubbing my shower. I don’t know if that’s average or ridiculously long, but that’s how long it takes me to get it the way I want it. After about a week, I can normally start to see the build up caused by our ridiculous water. Well…..not this time! I couldn’t see any buildup after 2 weeks and it took me way less than 5 minutes to clean the whole shower. I was amazed, impressed and ecstatically happy. There are few chores I despise less than scrubbing the shower and this homemade cleaner has completely changed my tune! I absolutely love the results and will continue to use this every day!

IMG_8547Completely unexpected bonus time!!!

Like I mentioned, I had sprayed this on my sink faucet every day too. I have struggled with this faucet (and every other faucet in our house) for two years. When we moved in, there was already calcium build up, water deposits, etc around all of the faucets and drains. Like this:

Faucet - BeforeIt might be kind of hard to see how bad it is in the photo, but I have literally tried to clean these every week for two years using a variety of products. Nothing has ever worked, so I figured my homemade shower spray efforts were fruitless and was really just hoping to prevent any further build up. Well, one day after I sprayed, I just decided to wipe the faucet and a piece of the buildup actually came off. I thought to myself, I must have imagined that. I wiped again, a little more came off. Then more! For the next several days, I chipped away at this ridiculous substance and (with the combined effort of shower spray and elbow grease) I was able to get almost every single bit of the build up off. I literally ran into the bedroom and told my husband it was a miracle. That’s how seriously I thought I could never get these clean. I still have a little work to go, but now the faucet looks like this:

IMG_8552I am beyond impressed with this spray and I actually went and bought 3 more spray bottles so I could have it in the other 2 bathrooms as well as the kitchen.

IMG_8544So, a gigantic thumbs up to natural cleaning product #1. More reviews coming soon!

~Erin

Spring Greening – Proper Paint Disposal

Have you ever painted any part of your house? Have you ever had trouble deciding on colors? Have you ever had your guest room wall look like this:

IMG_0223

Seriously, the process was ridiculous over here. But we FINALLY chose colors and have painted the whole bottom floor of our house. We had previously painted the kids room so the only thing left is the master bedroom and bathroom. That is a project for another day…..I don’t even want to look at another paint brush for a while.

We have also been cleaning and reorganizing our garage lately and have found a ton of paint cans leftover from the previous owners of the house. Combine those with our recent painting extravaganza and here is what we were left with.

Paint CansKeep in mind that this is just the pile we were getting rid of! We still have leftover paint for touch ups, etc that I am going to find some fabulous temporarily functional way to organize, I’m sure.

So what to do with all of these paint cans? They were not completely empty so you can’t just throw them away. Well, you can, but at the expense of filled up landfills and a chemically infused environment. The best way to handle items like this is to find a hazardous waste recycling place near you. You can search online for ‘hazardous waste disposal’ or ‘hazardous waste recycle’ and hopefully several options will come up. Our closest disposal center is over an hour away, but it is well worth it to know we’re disposing of these items properly. Just to illustrate the types of things these recycling centers do, take a peek at this link. This is for the Colorado Springs, CO facility, but many places offer the same services. Here are a few things that our local place does:

-Recycling or proper disposal of chemicals. This includes paint, but also solvents, motor oil, bleach, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers, and a ton of other household chemicals.

-Recycling of electronics, such as computers, TVs, microwaves, printers and cell phones. Most electronics have components that are harmful to the environment when thrown into a landfill. They must be properly disposed of in a safe and healthy manner.

-Porcelain recycling – They accept sinks, toilets and ceramic tiles which can be crushed and recycled into material used for building roads.

-‘Drop and Swap’ Program – Our facility has an area for products that were dropped off but can still be used, such as paint, primer and oil. These items are offered free of charge to the community.

I have looked into facilities in Colorado, Arizona and Georgia and there are definitely some differences. Some are open every weekday, while some facilities may have a once a month drop off day. Some accept tires and building materials, others don’t. So it may require a little research to find a place to take your items. But it’s worth it. You can clean out your home, garage, shed, etc and know that you are doing the best you can for the environment.

One more bonus of our local place was that it was free! Some of them aren’t, so this was great for us. They did request a non-perishable food donation though. I had a few items I was saving for a food bank, but I hadn’t taken them yet, so we dropped them off when we took our paint cans in.

Imagine that…..a clean garage, consideration for the Earth, and a charitable donation all at once.

~Erin

Spring Greening – Cleaning Green

I have decided to green up my cleaning products. If you read the blog, you might know that I’m already obsessed with using vinegar to clean my house. You can read proof of that here, here and here! I have used vinegar to do about 90% of my cleaning for a long time, but there are several other items I want to ‘Green-Up’ so instead of Spring Cleaning, I’m focusing on some Spring Greening. It’s time to Green the Nest!

My first step was to start researching. You can see some of the fruits of my researching labor on my Pinterest-Cleaning Board. Since I already have vinegar as my go-to guy for all purpose cleaning, I wanted to focus my efforts on several other items.. laundry detergent, dish washing detergent and a daily shower spray are at the top of the list! I won’t give you the play by play just yet because I’m testing the products I made, but here’s a basic rundown of the process.

After I researched and pinned to my heart’s content, I noticed a trend…my friend Jen was re-pinning all of my cleaning pins. Hmmm, wheels turning here. So I called her and said “why don’t we make all of this stuff together?” She was on board, which made me kind of giddy for two reasons. 1) It’s always more fun to jump into a new endeavor with someone else so you can cheer each other on and 2) We split the cost. Bonus!!!

Here is what we either bought or already had:

IMG_0879

I plan on going into detail on the products in upcoming posts, but basically we purchased tried and true cleaning ingredients, such as borax and vinegar (of course!) and threw in a couple of essential oils.

The first and easiest thing we made was just a simple solution of 50% vinegar, 50% water and 10 drops or so of orange essential oil.

IMG_0878A quick handwritten label completed the cleaner!

We also made a laundry detergent and shower spray, but I am currently in the super secret testing phase so I won’t post details until I know how I like them. If you want to learn more about natural cleaning, there is an ever growing number of resources and a great place to start would be my Pinterest board!

Happy Cleaning! Happy Greening!

~Erin

 

Winter House Prep

Winter arrived late in Colorado this year. We had beautiful 60 degree days until just a couple weeks ago. So we were pretty late with our winter house prepping, but we got it done. We have a lot of outside projects that we like to complete before the cold sets in. We clean our grill and bring it into the garage storage closet. We fill up our wood racks on the deck.

Porch (1) Porch (5)Then we sweep the decks, shake off the doormats and wipe away any spider webs, etc from the porch.

Porch (6)We also have a bunch of patio furniture that we obviously don’t use in the winter.

PorchWe store the cushions in our shed during the winter so they don’t get wet or damaged. This year we did it just in time. A couple days after we did our outside winter projects, the snow set in.

IMG_8015IMG_8016It’s barely gotten above freezing since so now we’ll focus on keeping the inside clean. This is no easy task when you have 2 kids, 3 dogs, muddy boots and a wood burning stove. However, we love having a roaring fire and staying cozy with the family.

There are also other seasonal projects that still need to be done, such as changing out our water and humidifier filters. On my House Cleaning List, I have some of these projects listed. I also need to add a couple to my list, such as change the smoke detector batteries, which we’ve already done this year.

We have also recently gotten oil changes in both vehicles, gotten our 60K maintenance on my awesome minivan and got some new tires on the same awesome minivan.

It’s important to keep track of the things you need to do seasonally or annually to keep your house and belongings in good condition. With regular maintenance, your home, appliances, vehicles and more can stay in great shape.

Are there things around your house you’ve been putting off? Time to cross them off the list!

Pre-Christmas Cleaning

With all of my Christmas listing and Projects around my house right now, I don’t want to let cleaning go by the wayside. I’ve been trying to keep up with my regular cleaning using my House Cleaning Schedule, which can be difficult this time of year. There are so many added events around the holidays and we’re short on time already. However, if I let the house cleaning slide, I get frustrated and let’s be honest….a little crabby. So today I decided to do some regular cleaning such as vacuuming and dusting and then throw in a slightly bigger project…..clean the dishwasher. Now I know that sounds redundant…why should you clean a dishwasher? It’s like cleaning soap.

However, there is always some calcium build up, possibly a little rust and perhaps food particles that didn’t get washed away with everything else. We have VERY hard water so the build up is more than normal. I wanted to clean with a natural product, so I used vinegar, which is what I clean almost EVERYTHING with. Here are the steps:

-Since I had never used vinegar in my dishwasher before I first checked the manual to make sure it was safe to use in there (some brands can have pieces that are sensitive to something so acidic). Sidenote: I keep my manuals in a large binder in the pantry. Whenever I need to reference one, they are all in the same place and close at hand.

Dishwasher (1)

-Then I took the bottom dish basket out of the dishwasher. The top one is actually screwed in and I didn’t want to mess with it, so it just stayed. I wiped both baskets down with a paper towel and vinegar.

-Then I took the spinny thing (technical term) out of the bottom of the dishwasher. It unscrewed by hand and came out completely for easy cleaning.

Dishwasher (2)

I found a wayward purple spoon underneath this spinny thing.

Dishwasher (3)I wonder how long that had been there….

Anyways…you can see some calcium build up on parts of the arm that spins.

Dishwasher (4)

I tried to wipe it off and then chipped a little off with a toothpick but it was still there. So I sprinkled some baking soda on it and then poured a little vinegar on. It was my own teeny tiny version of the volcano we all made as children and then the mess wiped right off. Yea!

Dishwasher (5)

I took the 3 small parts I had removed from the dishwasher and swirled them around in a little vinegar to clean them up.

Dishwasher (6)Then I put everything back into the dishwasher. And I have to admit that even though I was taking pictures and being careful about keeping things in order, I still had to lug the manual back out to determine exactly how these little pieces went back in.

Dishwasher (7)Then I cleaned the inside edges of the door with my vinegar and a little baking soda where it needed it. I tried to scrub really well around all of the seals.

Then I filled a plastic container with about a cup of vinegar and put it in the top rack and closed it up. I hit the ‘quick cycle’ button because everything I read said that this was long enough for the vinegar to clean the dishwasher. While the cycle was going, I cleaned the outside of the door. I did this with my other favorite cleaning tool….Mr. Clean Erasers. These are the best!

After the cycle was finished, I had a sparkling clean dishwasher!

Dishwasher (9)Dishwasher (8)I plan on doing this more often and it will take even less time in the future since I hopefully won’t need to reference the manual. Next I plan on tackling the washer and dryer, so keep an eye out for tips!

~Erin

Make way for turkey…fridge and freezer cleanout

Two of the 15 minute projects in my House Project List were to clean out the fridge and freezer. Though these each took about 20 minutes, I figure they would be small enough to consider ’15 Minute Projects.’ I will not even bore you with a before pic of my fridge and freezer because truthfully, it doesn’t look that different from the after pic. I credit most of that to the fact that I try to do a little cleaning each week. Before I grocery shop, I try to wipe down the shelves and throw away anything that is past it prime. I do it before grocery shopping because that is when the fridge is the most empty each week.
So these photos are pretty much just to prove that I actually did clean the entire fridge and freezer:

I took everything out (except for the frozen veggies in the veggie drawer!) and wiped down all shelves and sides. One added bonus of this project was that I forgot exactly where the shelves in the freezer were. So I ended up putting them back in a slightly different configuration.

As it turns out, I had never really evaluated where the shelves were placed before. The new shelf placement is about a million times more effective. I’m not sure why I thought a GIGANTIC bottom shelf optimized the space because…it didn’t. It was just wasted. The new configuration allows me to fit more items and to see them more clearly. Pretty much everything is standing up on end, making use of the vertical space and allowing me to see all of the labels. Happy Accident!

So here’s the after pic:

It’s not beautiful or stylishly organized, but it’s super functional and works perfectly for me and my family.  Here are some things I like about this project and my fridge!

~I have a shelf reserved for leftovers so I never have to rearrange the whole fridge to put away all my beautifully saran wrapped and tin foiled items.

~I have honestly never seen so many condiments as what we have in our fridge. The obligatory mustard and ketchup? Yep, they are there. However, my fridge is also the home to tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce…are you bored yet? That’s why I love that my fridge has so much room in the door for all of these.

-This project was also timely since we need to make sure we have room for Thanksgiving dinner items! You can see there’s a large turkey on the bottom shelf of the fridge and there is a big bag of ice on the bottom shelf of the freezer. My new rule of thumb is going to be that I ALWAYS want to have enough room for a large turkey and a large bag of ice. That way I will always have room and the fridge and freezer should never get overloaded.

-I’m so glad I was taking pictures for this post because it allowed me to evaluate how important shelf placement is. I recommend taking pictures before projects like this so you can evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Once you have a system that works, you’ll have a photo reference so you can make sure you get things back in the right place.

Is it just me that gets excited about cleaning out the fridge? Probably. But know that if you keep up with it, a complete clean out only needs to take about 15 minutes.

~Erin

House To Do List

I have been working on a list of things I want to get done around the house. As I made the list, I realized it was quite extensive! I have decided that I would like to go through and do a basic organization on EVERY part of my house by the end of the year. Now I realize this is super ambitious since it is the holidays and we plan on traveling in December. However, I want to get everything organized so that I can start the year fresh with my New Year’s Resolution. Yes, I already have my resolution ready and waiting. It is to add a little color to my world. Currently my life is filled with bland, blah, neutrals.

I’m serious, my color palate is lacking any variety. My clothes, paint colors, linens, makeup, everything is a tad boring! So in 2013 I’m going to spice it up. But before I do that, I need to clean everything out. Purging is the name of the game.

Anyways, my to do list is long and kind of confrontational. When I look at it, it’s like it’s taunting me. There are so many things I can’t even pick one so I just stare at it, then add to it, then stare at it some more. I decided to make it more manageable by splitting it into categories. They are:

-15 Minute Projects – these are projects that can be done in 15 minutes or less (obviously).

-Small Projects – these are projects that I anticipate will take longer than 15 minutes, but less than about 2 hours.

-Big Projects – This category involves things like construction, painting, shopping for a piece of art or furniture, etc. It includes anything that will take a long time or cost money.

I typed out all of the projects on excel and printed them. I used green for the 15 Minute Projects, orange for the Small Projects, and red for the Big Projects (see I’m getting more colorful already!)

I used abbreviations for most of the rooms of the house and then listed the project. For the master bedroom closet, I split it up into manageable tasks such as ‘go through shirts’ or ‘go through purses/shoes’. That way I could put more tasks on the ’15 Minute’ list.

Then I cut them into strips and put them into labeled envelopes.

There are approx 60 projects altogether and it turns out, there are about 20 projects per envelope. The good news is that 1/3 are 15 Minute projects. My plan is at least once per day, I will randomly pick a project from the ’15 Minute’ envelope. Or I will have my handy helper pick one out….

He picked out ‘clean the master bathroom drawers’ tonight. So that project is off the list!

The bad news is that there are approx 20 items on the big project list. That means a lot of time and possibly a decent investment to complete the list. So I’m going to focus on the 15 Minute and Small Project envelopes first and get the momentum going. I’ll keep you posted on the projects as they get completed.

The ‘Great Listing’ continues!!!

Break out the lists!!!!

It’s list time at my house!!!  To Do Lists, Cleaning Lists, Blog Topic Lists, Christmas Lists!

I am giving myself through the end of this weekend to get all of my lists together for the next 2 months. I’m literally making a list of the lists I need to make. It’s ridiculous.

The first thing I am doing is re-vamping my Cleaning Schedule, which I originally posted about here. I even mentioned in that post how I was planning on adding a few things, so now is the time. Here is what the schedule looks like now:

Now I will reiterate that I did NOT put daily cleaning tasks on here because it took up too much room and I actually am able to remember what I did on the current day (which is surprising considering all that is swirling through my head at any given moment).

I also want to point out that several of the items on the weekly list, we try to do more than once a week, such as dusting. The way I use the chart for these is instead of making a full ‘X’ by that task, I just put half of an ‘X’ and then complete the ‘X’ when I do the task again.

Since my original post on this, I have added several items:

1) Under weekly, I have added ‘Dog Spa’. We don’t bathe our dogs every week but there’s always something that needs to be done, such as teeth brushing, ear cleaning, heartworm meds, etc. So this is more of a general reminder to deal with the crazy dogs each week.

2) Under monthly, I have added wash windows. I just forgot this on my original list.

3) Under monthly, I have added ‘Clean Appliances’. This does not mean wipe down the parts of the appliances I can see, which is included in the weekly cleaning. It means physically pull them away from the walls and clean behind and under them. My husband and I pulled out our fridge today and to be honest, I was horrified. I will not even share pictures. My actual words were “I didn’t know we had a 4th dog.” That is how big the dust bunny (dust dog) was. I’m surprised it didn’t bark at me for disturbing it’s sleep. Anyways, that’s how this made the list.

So that’s the upgraded list. Thoughts, anyone???

As for the actual cleaning I’ve been doing, I’ve decided a winter version of spring cleaning is in the cards. I spent a good chunk of my day crawling around on the floor cleaning baseboards (check it off the list!) I wanted to check out a Pinterest tip I had pinned to my Cleaning Board here. It suggested using a dryer sheet to clean the baseboards. It not only picks up the dirt and dog hair from the boards but coats it with whatever in the world is in a dryer sheet and actually repels future dirt. I’m not sure if it really repels dirt or if that’s just a nice thought, but it was easy to clean with…no sprays, no damp rags, just scooting around on the floor with a dryer sheet.

I’m also using another Pinterest inspired cleaning trick for mattresses. I know vacuuming your mattress is supposed to get rid of dirt, dust mites, etc, but why not make it smell nice too? The tip I saw suggested mixing baking soda with fabric softener and sprinkling it on the mattress before you vacuum. Well, we don’t use fabric softener, but we do use dryer sheets. Sooooo, I took an empty bottle of Puffs. Wait, you don’t know what puffs are? Then you don’t have a 9 month old! They are the baby version of Cheerios and they come in these cool shaped little plastic canisters. I have to admit I’ve been saving up a bunch of these empty containers for ‘the perfect project’ and I found it! Today I took a container, a dryer sheet and some baking soda:

I put a dryer sheet in the container, added a bunch of baking soda and shook it up. Then I poked holes in the lid of the container and made a ‘Fresh Smelling Baking Soda Dispenser Thing’.

And clearly I put a lot of time and effort into the labeling of the bottle:

At least now I won’t be mixing it up with any Puffs!

Anyways, I just sprinkled it on the mattress, let it sit for an hour and then vacuumed. I was pretty pleased with the results. I’m sure you could also use a sachet of lavender or a few drops of essential oil to fragrance the baking soda, but a dryer sheet worked for me. Speaking of baking soda, there are about a million ways to use this household product and about as many blog posts and articles on what those ways are. I plan to write my own someday (along with a post on how amazing plain vinegar is). I love cheap, natural, effective, safe products and baking soda and vinegar are at the top of the list! Anyways, I’m a LITTLE too excited about cleaning my house, but hopefully I can keep the momentum!

~Erin

Saving my sanity – cleaning schedule

We try to keep up with the cleaning at our house. But with full time jobs, kids, dogs, and activities, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of. Even if things get done, its hard to remember when they were done last, especially when it comes to tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly or twice a year. So I finally made up a cleaning schedule for our house. Here are the basics:

A couple notes on this cleaning schedule:

-I did not include daily cleaning tasks. I figure that if I can’t remember what I cleaned that particular day, then I’m really in trouble.

-The list I made will not ultimately be the final product. I left a little room so that as I think of things that I forgot (I’m sure there will be many), I have room to add a few. I already realized that I left ‘clean windows’ off, so I’ll have to make an adjustment.

– I created a little section for general ‘To Do’ items. I have a calendar that we write events, appointments, etc on, but sometimes I just need a little place to jot down something I don’t want to forget to do.

On to the next step! I couldn’t just tape this to my fridge and be done with it because then I would have to print a new one every week. So I decided to make it into a dry erase cleaning list.

A couple weeks ago, I found an 8″ x 10″ picture frame at a garage sale for 50 cents. Score! I painted the frame with some leftover paint I had and let it dry.

I’m not known for my vibrant color palette, so I went with a neutral gray that I recently painted my pantry with.

Then I just popped the cleaning list behind the glass:

Ta da! A dry erase cleaning list. Now I can write the dates/ months on the list and check off tasks. When the week, month, quarter or year changes, I can just wipe off the marker and start fresh. I even have a little notes field. Here is an example of the board in use:

I only had one dry erase marker in my whole house, so my plan is to go find a couple different colors and maybe one with a finer point, but you get the idea!

I also added some magnetic strips to the back of this so I could hang it on my fridge. Now I have a clear schedule for everyone to reference, and it’s in a convenient place. The other bonus is that since I had all of the other materials, I only invested 50 cents in this project. Yea!

Happy Cleaning!

~Erin