Showing posts with label Home Keeping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Keeping. Show all posts

April 7, 2023

MomMom's Apron

I'm an "orphaned" grandchild, having lost all of my grandparents within the last 10 years. I occassionally will find some item around the house that belonged to one of them, like Grandma's old sheet music stand and dresser, an old mayonaise jar that I keep clothespins in, or my Grandpa's old shovel.

My mom's mom, my MomMom (try saying that fast), died 7 years ago, the summer after I got married. My wedding was the last one that our entire family attended, which is a bittersweet memory. One thing I somehow acquired after MomMom's death was an apron of hers.
I wish I knew more about it, like whether or not she made it, or who it came from. I kind of remember her wearing it, but she wore a lot of aprons. I wanted this apron because I've always liked aprons, and enjoyed the idea of wearing something of my grandmother's. It has a classic gingham fabric that is stitched together by hand.I'm just amazed that someone stitched all of those little "x's" by hand to create the apron. There is no machine stitching at all on this.

And I'm sure it wrapped around her small waist a lot better than my large one!
You can see that the pocket is tearing off at the corner, which I'll eventually repair.

Below is a detail of the wrong side of the apron, with all of those tiny stitches, both perfect and imperfect. I'm amazed that women made things like this, all while scrubbing laundry on washboards and minding children simulateously. I can barely wash a sinkful of dishes each day.I wear this all the time, and am of the philosophy of using something, rather than saving it for the future. I'm not one to hide away fine china or keep my Amish quilt folded in a closet between acid-free tissue paper. Things were meant to be used, and MomMom, I'm using your apron!

And if you'd like to win a future, usable heirloom, head over to The Apron Goddess to enter to win a cute apron from The Handmaiden's Cottage. Of course I couldn't resist entering!

January 11, 2024

Stuffing Away the Holiday Leftovers

Driving to the grocery store last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see Christmas trees still glowing in the windows. Those lights are such a mesmerizing sight, and I'm a little sad that I took down the tree and put the decorations away on New Year's Day. However I like starting the new year off by packing up the old and organizing (as I've written about in many posts last week), and this year was no exception.

One thing that helps me organize my ornaments and decorations is to save those heavy vinyl bags that sheets and curtains come in, and use it to hold ornaments. When we moved into our house a few years back, I had to buy curtains for nearly every room, since we have 84" windows.
I kept all of the clear bags to use for something, and that Christmas, I found a purpose for them. It's nice that they're durable, and often have zippers on them. It makes it really easy to see the ornaments inside too. I used a large bag that contained a bedspread to store my wreaths. I just cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside it to give the wreaths some support.

I also use hangers to store my garlands in the attic. Rather than de-garland-ize them, I just hang them over the inside of the hanger (where you would put a pair of pants) and drape a garbage bag over it to prevent dust. Then I hang the hanger on a nail from the rafters. It saves me from having to untangle it every Christmas.

If you're interested in other homekeeping tips, the new SC Johnson website--Right@Home--is the place to go to learn something new. And check out The Parent Bloggers Network for a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card, just for blogging about your post-holiday organizational tips.

January 7, 2024

Wordful Wednesday

We finally moved that dresser downstairs to replace the sheet music cabinet that was overstuffed with papers and junk. See my post from yesterday for photos if you wish.

I brought the drawers down and guess who thought they were toys?
He was running back and forth in them, having a grand old time.
He even gave a standing ovation at the end, where he was clapping (his new thing). And of course, he got lots of hugs and kisses from mama.
But he was still more interested in those darned drawers!

Finally, a bad photo of the dresser in its new home. It's great for storing all the papers, pens, and even the diapers.
For more Wordful Wednesday, visit Angie at

January 5, 2024

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

After the glut of the holidays, I feel compelled to scale back and simplify my life. We've gotten rid of all the cookies and candy and started going for walks again (albeit quick ones due to the cold weather). Once the Christmas decorations are down, it's nice to give the house a good scrubbing and start going though papers and bills. I've finally found places for all of the toys and gifts that SoJo got for his first Christmas so I'm moving on to some other areas of the home.

Here are a few of my goals:
  • Clean the coffee maker. My father-in-law just installed a whole-house water filter for us, so I'm thrilled to have gotten rid of the broken, bulky PUR one on our sink. Now I just need to run a pot of vinegar through the coffee pot and our coffee will hopefully start tasting better again. With our SIGG bottle, we haven't needed to buy jugs of bottled water for the last year.
  • Sort through baby clothes and take some of them along with outgrown toys to the baby consignment shop in town.
  • Move the dresser from the guest room into the living room. Sounds a little crazy, but I like to "shop the house" (as The Nester says) rather than buying something new. With a little ingenuity, you can repurpose a lot of what you already have.
We have this lovely antique sheet music cabinet that I got from my grandma when she died, and since I don't play any instruments, I've been using it for storage in our living room.
It's like our little wooden "secretary" which holds our phone books, stamps, envelopes, pens, tech gadgets, and just about anything that we don't know what to do with.
Clearly, it's a mess, and the short shelves that were meant to hold sheet music just aren't good for holding much else. I've heard more curses from Mr. Geek at this cabinet than anything else in the house. The latch is hard to open and close, and papers get crammed in the back. And of course his beloved collection of Japanese incense is stored in boxes in here, so he hates having to fight with this cabinet to burn a stick.
So the dresser is going to replace this, and hopefully be a place for keeping a blanket or two for chilly evenings on the sofa. I have some boxes and baskets that can fit into the drawers for storing small items, but I think a lot of the stuff in the cabinet is going to be purged. I'll post some photos after we move the dresser downstairs.

November 30, 2023

Weekend Review

I feel compelled to post something, since I've been away from the blog for a few days. It's actually been nice, not worrying about a post or trying to write something interesting and timely. Our weekend was nice, especially having Mr. Geek home since Thursday. We went and got our Christmas tree on Saturday, since we were having such a leisurely weekend and didn't want to try to cram it in during one of the next few, in between parties, guests, and weekend chores.
Someone was not happy about having to go back in that carseat after getting to touch all the different kinds of evergreen needles.
This is a horrible photo of our tree, but I promise there will be better ones to come.
I took it last night after I had decorated it, and today was so gray and rainy that it was pretty dark inside.

Oh, and today, we woke up to GRAFFITI ON OUR HOUSE and garage. It's not like we're living in the inner city here in PA Dutch country. I thought there was an "unwritten rule" amongst taggers (graffiti artists) that you do not put graffiti on a house, unless of course it's abandoned. I assume I'm in the know about these things after teaching art to teenagers. It's only a little bit under the kitchen window, but of course the last residents of this house didn't leave any extra paint behind after they had painted the house. Once the rain and sleet stop tomorrow, Mr. Geek is going to try to scrub it off. If that doesn't work, we'll have to spray paint over it (it's too cold to cover it with latex). At least the garage can be painted over in white, and at least we are going to put siding on it next summer. So that kind of set the mood for the day--sleet and sloppy letters scrawled in gold spray paint. Ugh! Let's hope this week turns out better.

Tomorrow: SoJo and I begin our mommy and me swim class! Update on Monday.

November 4, 2023

Tackle it Tuesday: The Coat Closet

This was way overdue. And the photos don't truly show how bad this closet was. There was a lot of stuff hidden beneath that blue down comforter that I should have let you see.

This closet is in our living room and serves as a repository for everything---coats and beyond. It truly became a dumping ground more recently as Soren began crawling and we'd stash anything we didn't want him to get into in that closet. Which is why I'll assume there was a box of matches in there.
Here are some of the things that were hiding in there, some necessary, some not:
  • one shoe
  • diaper bag
  • laptop bag
  • space heater
  • vacuum cleaner
  • many blankets (for cozy-ing up on the couch)
  • baby toys
  • our fireproof safe (easy access to put mail, etc.)
  • Baby Bjorn
  • Hats, gloves, scarves (all over the place)
  • Knitting basket
  • receipts
  • baby sling
Enough already!! First I took everything out, swept the closet, then sorted the pile into things that needed to stay in the closet and things that should go elsewhere. I had some black wicker baskets from SoJo's room that I switched out with other containers (the ones I stole from his digs kept breaking off pieces of wicker onto his floor--temptingly yummy for a baby). I put the baby carrying stuff in one and blankets in another.
I also wrangled our receipts into the box on the left.
I had an extra shoe pocket-organizer up in the attic that I thought would be useful on the door for hats and gloves. I need to screw it onto the door, since the hooks that go over the door don't let it close so easily.And lastly, I brought in the shoe rack from our back porch mudroom/laundry room. It's hard to deal with putting on and taking off shoes in colder weather in that porch, since it's not too insulated. Boots are another story: they'll remain in the mudroom.The final result: an organized closet!
For more Tackle it Tuesday, visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

September 9, 2023

Tackle it Tuesday: The Pantry

So am I totally a dork if I'm posting pictures of my pantry clean-up? That's a rhetorical question for my non-blogging friends, who I have to face in real life. Remember people, I'm stuck here at home with a baby who is not sleeping so well right now, so I don't really have a handle on what constitutes as sanity. Plus it's raining and I have no car. And I am having bloggers-block.

This thing was way overdue to be cleaned out. We kept shoving things in and when you'd open the door, some box or bag would always fall. And since one of my recent posts was about what's in my pantry, I thought I'd show you a candid shot.

I put on the Balinese Monkey Chant for SoJo (he likes that) and started pulling out boxes and bags. We keep our cloth grocery bags on the door as well as recyclable ones on the side. This is pretty much all of our dry-goods storage space in the entire kitchen. It's desperately in need of a remodel.
That's it! This is proof for the bread winner that I don't just sit at home watching those judge shows.

I'm doubly-dorky because I really like looking at before and after shots of other people's organizing. For more Tackle it Tuesday, visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

August 27, 2023

Tour of Dirty Diaper Central

I've said this before, but I love doing laundry.
This is some of the reason:
I love my laundry room! It's right off of our kitchen in the converted back porch, which makes washing clothes much more pleasurable than schlepping them to the basement. When we bought the house, this place was a disaster, from the old bed sheets screwed (yes screwed) into the window frames as curtains to the grungy, ripped-up carpet to the Spiderman switch plate cover. I so wish I had taken some photos of the "before" condition. I probably thought my camera might have thrown up at the time. I still need to finish painting the wall behind the washer and dryer though (perennial excuse=5 month old baby). We'd also like to install a tin ceiling to replace the mess that's up there.
My husband and very handy father-in-law put in the checkerboard floor (on the diagonal mind you!) and I sewed the curtains for the 7 windows in that small space. It was really hard to find enough fabric without placing a special order, so I went with a tea-stained floral pattern, even though my heart was set on stripes. I've just moved a table in there for folding too. On a side note: I found that red toolbox last week in the trash on one of our evening walks. And guess what was inside: a set of wooden building blocks! I've wanted some of these for SoJo, so I skipped the rest of the way home on that walk. I intend to wash the blocks and paint the toolbox black.
Here's a close-up of my laundry BFFs from left to right: Jar of vinegar which substitutes for fabric softener, my homemade laundry detergent, a spray bottle of starch, and a box of baking soda which I sprinkle over the cloth diapers for freshness and whitening. That lovely sign I won on La Boudoir, a blog I like to visit. In the background is a fabric from the same pattern as the curtains but in a different colorway. I simply folded around a piece of stiff cardboard cut to fit that space and taped the fabric around the back. Then I used velcro to hold it to the wall. It looks much better than what was behind it.
My indoor drying rack, a freebie from a friend.

Baskets for storage on a shelf above the windows.

So what do you think? Am I spoiled or what? Oh, and guess what?
My new clothesline is almost done. Yay!
No more saggy rope connecting the house to the garage. You can see one of the posts in the background behind the line of diapers. We just need to get some clothesline wire and some hooks. My husband's beloved bonsai starter garden is to the left of the steps. He'd be so pleased that I pointed that out to you. The rest of the yard is mine! And quite untidy at the moment.

August 5, 2023

While I'm on the Topic of Fels-Naptha Soap

I also saw in the Homesteading Column of Mother Earth News (love that magazine and have for years!) that you can also use Fels-Naptha soap as an insecticide. I haven't tried this but here's the link with the recipe.

And if you go to the Mother Earth News site, you can get a yearly subscription for only $10!

DIY Laundry Detergent. It Really Works!

When I'm not using Seventh Generation liquid detergent for SoJo's laundry, I use some of my homemade stuff that I created from a recipe that I found in the newspaper in the Everyday Cheapskate column by Mary Hunt. I enjoy reading the column and just found out you can get it delivered to your email inbox for free. Just click here to sign up. She covers all kinds of things from food to finances to health and beauty and the tips are just a sentence or two long so she won't waste all of your precious time with lots of words.

I've saved some money using the laundry detergent recipe she published. I use the powdered in a front loader and it works well, and I can get all of these things in my local grocery store The Fels-Naptha soap is great for pre-treating dirty cloth diapers too. Here's the recipe:

1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax.
(You can also add a few drops of essential oil...lavender is a good choice!---Kathleen)

Mix, and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

Big batch: To make a large batch, grate 6 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, and then add 3 cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well, and store in covered container.

TIP: Homemade detergent will
not make suds in your washer, so don't be alarmed. Fels-Naptha soap is pure and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new high-efficiency washers, as well as traditional washers. You also will notice the need to reduce your laundry softener; in most cases, you even can eliminate the use of softener completely. You also can use white vinegar in the last rinse (one cup is plenty) to remove all traces of detergent.

3 pints water; 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax; 2-gallon bucket for mixing; 1 quart hot water. (You can also add a few drops of essential oil...lavender is a good choice!---Kathleen)

Mix Fels-Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water as needed (you should have about 1.5 gallons of the mixture), and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

July 15, 2023

Countdown to Sand and Sun

In between baby naps, I am here trying to pack and get everything together for our vacation on Friday. Why is it that men can just grab a duffel bag, stuff some boxers and t-shirts in it, and leave. Oh, I know! It's because their wives pack everything else that they need.

Actually, I don't mind, as I am excited to be going to the beach. It's the unpacking I hate. I am cleaning the house really well before I go because at least coming home to a clean house makes it bearable to unpack and get back to the humdrum routine.

After SoJo's baby shower, I saved a lot of those snap-able, heavy plastic bags that onesies and sheets come in, lord knows what I was going to use them for then. I just couldn't think about them clogging landfills. Finally I've figured out something to use them for...packing. I am sorting the baby stuff into short sleeved onesies, pjs, etc. and sticking them in separate bags. Then they can go into the suitcase. I think it'll be easier to find things that way (not that I am packing tons of stuff mind you). They'll probably make good bags if we have any damp clothes on our return home.
I am also bringing some clothespins to use for hanging up our towels off the balcony rail (clipping them under the railing so they don't fly away) and for other things. And I am bringing my Reisenthel market bag to corrall SoJo's toys and other stuff. I love that it's collapsable. Thanks to Candace at My Greening for the tip and the market basket!
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