Birthday Favorites: Stuff Around the House

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today’s topic is household hints! Here are a few things I’ve been loving around our home this past year:

1) Norwex Cleaning Paste on the Stove

When we were buying appliances for our new house, people seemed to be pretty opinionated about smooth stovetops. Either you love ’em or hate ’em, apparently. I was told numerous times, “Don’t buy one!! They are SOOOO hard to clean!”

In the end, we went with a smooth-topped stove, and I haven’t been sorry. If it doesn’t get cleaned right away, stuff can stick on pretty good, but then a brilliant friend said, “I just use Norwex Cleaning Paste.”

Norwex Cleaning Paste

Well, now. That stuff is AMAZING! I already had some, but wasn’t using it much. It requires some scrubbing , but it gets everything off.

I love it when people share their cleaning tips!!

2) Hang-Drying Our Laundry

Although I’ve done this off and on in the past, it was our “Electricity Fast” last fall that got me back into the habit again. That little experiment saved us about $70 on our hydro bill! We did more than just stop using the dryer, and most of those changes became habits, but hang-drying laundry is my favorite one that stuck.

At first, it seemed like a lot of extra work, for a small amount of savings. I think we calculated a savings of about five dollars a week for me to hang our laundry instead of using our dryer. But then there’s less wear and tear on our clothes, and in the end, it’s easier for me. That probably sounds weird, but here’s the thing: I hang wet clothes in the closet, where they belong anyway. They dry cleaned up already, and there’s so much less laundry to fold.

hang-drying laundry

When I first got pregnant in spring, and felt horrendous, I couldn’t be bothered with hanging all our clothes to dry, so I got back into the habit of stuffing everything into the dryer, and then I was left with mountains of wrinkled, clean laundry that wouldn’t get cleaned up until the next week. Someone was always freaking out about not being able to find their clothes in the mornings (“It’s somewhere on top of the dryer…!”), and it was grumpy and chaotic, and I didn’t like it at all.

As soon as I started feeling better, I was back to hanging laundry to dry, and I came to the conclusion that for me, it’s just easier! For most of our clothing, I only handle it once. I dry some things on racks, but folding it takes minimal time, because the majority of our laundry is already put away.

3) Google Calendar

I got a smart phone this last year. I always said I never would, but I changed my mind when I started missing appointments because of having the wrong information written down, or not having my pocket calendar with me. Also, my mom and friends kept asking when I would start texting, and it finally became clear that while living at camp, I did not need a smart phone, but living in the “real world” would be much easier with one.

I’m not on it that much, but with all of the appointments I make each week, I love having a way of entering in activities and events that will show up on my phone, and on our home computer.

I also wrote about how I love doing menu planning on our Google calendar. What I’m making for supper can depend on what we’re doing that day – in the city all day means the slow-cooker will save the day. Being at home all day means I should plan to “cook ahead”, and make sure we have enough granola, or cooked chicken and beans packaged in the freezer. Combining menu planning with our schedule has made things work much smoother.

menu

4) Room-Darkening Curtains

We’re super blessed to have massive windows in our living/dining room areas, but it gets pretty toasty in here during the summer afternoons. And we’re blinded by sunshine at the supper table. Which is great and all, but one day, I suddenly woke up to the fact that my light, breezy curtains were doing nothing to keep out the sun and heat.

My first big project of the summer was finding room-darkening curtains. It makes such a huge difference!!! Yes, we could just turn on the air conditioner, but I would rather save some energy, and close the curtains for a few hours each afternoon.

new curtains

5) Curtain-lengthening Trick

This one kinda goes with the previous favorite. In my search for new curtains, I found exactly what I was looking for at IKEA…except they were a foot too short. We have nine foot ceilings, and I love having ceiling-to-floor curtains, but it is really hard to find curtains that length.

Enter another brilliant friend: she just bought some contrasting fabric, and added a strip to the bottom of her curtains. Since it looked awesome at her house, I decided to try the same thing myself, and although it was a bit of work, it saved me the cost of custom-made curtains.

I actually like how the curtains look better with the strip at the bottom – it adds some interest to otherwise plain curtains.

curtains

Alright, now I want to hear from you! Please, please share! Seeing as two of my favorite tips come from friends, I think it shows how important it is to share the love! Don’t keep your household secrets a secret!:) Tell me how to make my life easier – especially with a new baby on the way…

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4 thoughts on “Birthday Favorites: Stuff Around the House

  1. I’ve used Google calendar for years and love it! I’ve also lengthened curtains but I cut a 6″ piece off first, added the contrasting strip and then sewed the bottom back on. I used to do that with my daughter’s dresses (although not 6″!) when she was a toddler.

    My new thing is freezer to crockpot cooking (using crockpot liners which my sister Karen had never heard of) and I just posted on my blog yesterday about how I’ve prepared dinners for the rest of the summer. Talk about sweet relief!

  2. My biggest household “secret” that makes my life easier is enlisting the help of the kids. There are their standard chores that must get done after each meal but then there are the extra chores – like cleaning out the van or folding laundry, etc. – that they do if they want to earn time on the computer or the right to watch a movie, which in our house is an earned privilege that only happens on occasion. It works wonderfully! The kitchen was a disaster yesterday and with the promise of a movie, they all worked to clean it while I was at CrossFit. They were happy – I was happy. My van is so clean, thanks to P wanting to earn computer time. So, my kids are my secret! 🙂 PS: Love the cleaning paste, too!

  3. Hmmm…this got me thinking that I really don’t have a lot of good tips in keeping my house running smoothly…which maybe explains why it’s always in the state that it is. 🙂

    I guess one of my tips involves enlisting the kids too, but in a bit of a different way. You know how things tend to gather up all around the house where they don’t belong? A hair brush here, a stuffed toy there, scissors & crayons over there…well, every once in awhile I just call out “Main floor clean sweep!” and the girls know it’s their job to take a walk through the main floor and take anything that is theirs that isn’t where it belongs and get it in its rightful place!

  4. Great stuff! One thing I love around our house is homemade lavender soap. My hands are always soft, moisturized, and I just love the scent of it! It’s fantastic knowing there’s no bad chemicals in it either 🙂

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