Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Get Rich Quick Homemaker Schemes

I don't know many homemakers who have heaps of extra time to "stuff envelopes and make $$$" or "get paid for shopping!" There are offers all over the World Wide Web that are targeted toward the domesticus vulgaris. Pity de po' foo' who falls for those get-rich-quick schemes.

Honestly, I barely have time to shower and smear on some concealer and lip balm, let alone spend hours stuffing envelopes.

But what bothers me is the fact that smarmy, creepy business folk out there seem to think that homemakers are dripping with free time and are desperate for an extra $16.50 every month.

Homemakers' time is valuable. As our financial adviser, Dave Ramsey, likes to say, "We don't do get-rich-quick. We do get-rich-slow. And it's not a scheme." Part of your job as a home economist is to manage the money flow. And as you manage it wisely, you will see the value of being a homemaker.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sad, Sad Story With a Happy, Happy Ending

Once upon a time, about a year ago, I bought a steam cleaner at a local grocery/clothing/jewelry/electronics store. It was fine. Until it stopped working.

So, I called a local repair shop to see if I could get it repaired. The five minutes I spent on hold and the five minutes I spent talking to the repairwoman (I know, you thought I'd say repairman) were the best ten minutes of my life--as far as buying a steam cleaner is concerned.

Let me tell you what she told me:

1. Take the steam cleaner back to the place where you bought it and get your money back. Most places will take back a defective or broken product within a certain window of time. I had only had the steam cleaner for a few months and had used it maybe twice.

2. Never buy a Bissell. At least not a current model. They have this weird bladder system, they are constantly in for repairs, and end up collecting a lot of dirt, mildew and junk inside. Eww.

3. Spend at least $200. That will get you a high powered motor, a spinning brush, a hose, and a huge box for your kids to play in.

4. Hoover is a great brand. The repairwoman said that Hoover steam cleaners are built well, are easy to use, and easy to clean out. That's been our experience. We've used our Hoover steam cleaner on carpet, tile,
slate, mattresses, upholstery, and even our two vehicles. (Let me tell you, ain't no better feeling in the world than a steam cleaned van after a two-day road trip with four kids.)

We followed her advice and are happy, happy, happy with our Hoover steam cleaner.

The End

Friday, May 9, 2008

All-Purpose Cleaner

Here is a recipe for and easy and effective all-purpose spray cleaner. It's the only cleaner I use. It's tough, effective and can whoop a counter clean faster than yo' mama.

I use this all-purpose cleaner on windows, counters, walls, doorknobs, and children. I also use it as an air fresh'ner.

All-Purpose Cleaner
1 squirt of liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap)
15-20 drops essential oil
2 cups water

Give a little squirt of liquid soap into a squirt bottle--maybe a couple Tablespoons. Add 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. I use eucalyptus, camphor, orange or lavender. Then add enough water to fill to the top. Shake gently to blend.

I challenge you to clear out your under-the-kitchen-counter area today and replace all those nasty old bottles of chem-i-clean with this fabulous, fresh spray cleaner.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Commercial Grade Vacuum

We have finally found the perfect vacuum. No Consumer Reports hype. No whirling cyclone of dust inside a transparent container. Nope. It's a commercial vacuum (I found her at a janitorial supply store) and it broke two of my vacuum rules.

Broken Rule #1
: Has to be a Kenmore
Why we broke the Rule: It turns out that Kenmore really is a great brand, but it's not the brand that the "industry" uses. I'm talking about maids, janitors and really smart housewives. We chose a
Sanitaire DuraLux by Electrolux SC9180A Commercial Upright. It beats the b'jeebers out of dirty carpet and is quieter, sturdier and lasts FOR-EV-ER! The two different vacuum gurus I talked to said that the Sanitaire vacuums tend to have a lifespan of 20 years. And that beats our Kenmore by fifteen. The price was only 30% more than the top model Kenmore.

I believe that housewives deserve commercial/professional grade when it comes to cleaning
tools and supplies. While it's true that I'm not cleaning a hundred hotel rooms a day, I still want high quality tools that will withstand heavy use.

I'm also a stickler for high end customer service (even at low end stores). The gal at the Sears store was under the impression that I enjoyed waiting for her while she complained to her boss about another employee. While it was fascinating, I chose to leave.

Broken Rule #2: Has to have a "dirt sucking meter"
Why we broke the Rule: Does one really need a light up sensor to tell if the carpet is clean? Our old vacuum (bless her heart) had a dirt sucking meter. It was cool, but did it really make our carpet any cleaner? Then only thing it really told me was that the sensor thought there was no more dirt.

Our new vacuum does not have a light telling me that our carpet is clean, but she does have a wicked metal and brush beater bar. And that scares me. There's no way our carpet can possibly be dirty after that good of a beating. (You don't sass this vacuum back.)

I'm happy. And the next time I buy another vacuum, I will be the same age as my mother is now.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Laundry Problems Solved (Phew!)

Have you ever stood over your washing machine (assuming you use top-loading) wondering if the detergent should go in first (and perhaps never make its way to to dirty clothes on top) or last (and perhaps never make its way to the dirty clothes on bottom)?

I've have pondered on this question...perhaps a little too much. Not to the point where I neglect other important ponderings (such as, Is 'coconut-based ionic surfactant' really 'sodium laurel sulfate'?).

Although dizzied and frenzied by the stench and sheer volume of our laundry, I have managed to come up with a satisfactory answer to my laundry question.

The answer is: laundry lasagna. A layer of laundry, a layer of detergent. A layer of laundry. A layer of detergent. A layer of laundry. A layer of detergent. Sprinkle wash with 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serves 6.