Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Laundry Management

     Laundry is one of the household tasks that can quickly creep up and then take over. It certainly fulfills the notion that homemaking isn't just the cleaning of the home but moreover the maintenance of it. Keeping up with the laundry can not only be costly in time but also financially as there are many products used to perform the task. There are ways, however, to dig out of the mound of dirty/clean laundry piles and the expense and waste of associated purchased products. 

     The greatest way to ease the burdening load of piled up laundry is to use one of my favorite methods for work- divide and conquer. I try to keep to a weekly schedule so that the amount remains small and manageable each day. I'm also able to use a drying rack to dry the clothes instead of relying on the energy-consuming dryer. I use the following routine:
         Mondays- wash lights, and hang to dry
         Tuesdays- iron, fold and put away lights
         Wednesdays- wash whites (or anything needing 
hot water), and hang to dry
         Thursdays- iron, fold and put away whites
         Fridays- wash darks, and hang to dry
         Saturdays- iron, fold and put away darks
Do Less By... Wearing Less?
      Well..sort of. haha. Is it really necessary to wash every garment or bath towel for each day of use? Are blue jeans really soiled after a day's wear? What about bath towels? Necessity to have a fresh towel every day? (Goodness, I'd be washing fourteen towels a week if that were the case!). Yes, somethings need washing after each use, but others can withstand an extra day, but ultimately, to each his own on this one. 
     Multiple sets of bed sheets are another aspect of laundry that can really clog up the process. When my husband and I did our wedding registry it was recommended to get astonishing quantities of items. For instance, apparently one bed needs three sets of sheets. ...Really?! In practice, I've found that having back-ups for "just in case I didn't get the first set back on in time" permitted the excuse for doing just that. Instead, I've found that it's much simpler to just take them off, wash them, and stick them back on the same day. And yes, bed sheets fit into the Wednesday slot on the schedule. 

Homemade Soaps
     I have really enjoyed using homemade liquid laundry soap this past year. It is extremely cost effective and decreases waste. I'm not having to buy one product for the job, throw the packaging away when finished, and then buy more. The ingredients are simple and really extend the time between repurchasing. I may have only used two soap bars, a partial box of borax, and a partial box of washing soda over this course of this past year. That's about a year worth of laundry soap for under ten dollars! Again, there is also no waste of plastic containers in the trash. I love it!
      The part I haven't loved has had more to do with my distractable self than the product itself. I've had a tendency to neglect to flip the pour spout of my container close, and as you can imagine sizeable portions of several batches as ended up cleaning my floor instead of clothing. Consequently, I decided it was time to switch to a powder version. The ingredient portions are the same as the liquid, but you leave out the water. To make the powder:
                            1 bar Fels-Naptha soap + 1 c. washing soda + 1/2 c. borax
                       1) Cut the bar into small piece. Place into blender until it is a fine powder. 
                       2) Combine all powders in container of choice. 
                            (A gallon plastic bag works just fine for me).
                       3) Use 1 tbsp. (or 2 depending on the size and how soiled the load is) per load. 

Fabric Softener Alternative
      For fabric softener I use apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is a not only a great softener but also cleaning agent for your washer. Don't worry, your laundry won't come out smelling one bit like vinegar! I buy a large two quart bottle of ACV, pour half into another empty ACV bottle, and then top both off with water. I only use 1/4-1/2 cup per load. I really prefer this method over buying conventional liquid softener or dryer sheets because I can use ACV for other purposes in our home and there is far less waste.
     Note: There is another method for extending conventional liquid fabric softener that involves dilution and soaked sponges in the dryer in place of sheets. I tried this method and regardless of the amount of dilution, wherever the soaked sponge landed in the dryer that was where spots and splatters remained on the clothes. We lost some shirts to these stains, so I'd recommend avoiding this method.

Bleach Alternative
      A cup of lemon juice added to the wash can help brighten and clean your laundry. Adding bleach to the wash gives me that feeling of being extra clean, but unfortunately it also ruins the colors on my clothes and towels. I could go with a Bleach 2 alternative, but then again I'm still having to make a special purchase for a single use product. Note that lemon juice can be found in large bottles to make this method more economical.
*I have not tried this method as of yet, but plan to do so as soon as my conventional product on hand runs out. I share this information based solely on research for options for alternatives. Source: http://frugalliving.about.com/od/cleaningtipsandrecipes/qt/Natural_Bleach.htm *

Clothes Rack/Line Drying
     The dryer can use a large amount of energy to dry clothes. Moreover, the harsh heat can wear clothes out faster. A simple alternative is the use of drying racks or a clothes line if you have a yard. If the management of your current housing community doesn't permit clothes racks or lines outside, as mine does, there is still ample opportunity for drying by a window or under a ceiling fan. It takes a little planning and scheduling to allow only a small load to wash and dry per day, but it does save on electricity. 

Homemade Spray Starch
     The can of spray starch is only $.97, but there remains the issue of single use purchase and waste, not to mention the environmental impact of aerosol spray. The eco-friendly sprays are nice, but much more expensive. Instead, I again love homemade. For homemade starch:
                     1 heaping tbsp. corn starch + 1 pint cold water + 1-2 drops essential oil (optional)
    Just mix everything into a spray bottle and shake well before each use. 
*I have not tried this method as of yet, but plan to do so as soon as my conventional product on hand runs out. I share this information based solely on research for options for alternatives. Source: http://frugalliving.about.com/od/colthing/r/Spray_Starch.htm *

What are some of your methods or tips for keeping up with this aspect of homemaking?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homemaking Without Children

           Homemaking and child rearing are two concepts generally tied closely together. The absence of children seems to implicate homemaking as being unnecessary. In fact, a common advice to women is to work up until having children, and then she may choose to remain home. However, at what point during this career period does she gain the knowledge and skills pertaining to homemaking which would enable her to perform in such a capacity when she does enter the home full time? Certainly, God gifts and calls some women to careers outside the home and some within it. This isn't a career woman versus homemaking woman debate. The heart of the matter is this- whichever path the Lord has led you to then that is the path you ought to walk. If the Lord has called you to pursue home and family, then in faith take steps in that direction. 

       And so if the path is homemaking, then how ought it be considered prior to the blessing of children? As practice! I think of the situation as this: how does the performance and success of an untrained employee compare to a well-trained one? Yes, the untrained employee would pick up the hows and whys of the job here and there, but would likely not be near as proficient as the one who had previously been instructed and practiced. Similarly, homemaking, especially if it is a foreign concept, requires education and practice. Do not be fooled into thinking that to remain home is to waste time or life, because in truth it is such valuable practice time! Have faith and trust that God provides and He has called you to your path for His purposes. He certainly isn't going to abandon you now! 

    Despite assurance in the path chosen being a calling and not for my own glory but His, there have still be challenges. In those times, I come back to what has been gained in my own experience in homemaking thus far:

Growth in Marriage
    The time spent together makes a remarkable impact on the strength of a marriage. It is difficult to be highly in-tune to one's spouse and attentive to the marriage when so little time together exists. The more time spent together the closer we draw to each other and our marriage. In essence, in this sharing of life where we become one (Gen. 2:24 & Matt. 19:6). Furthermore, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow (James 4:14), and so to wait "x amount of time" for circumstances to change, or for our responsibility as a spouse and in our marriage to begin is foolishness. Your marriage is now, and so act now to give it the time it deserves. To greet my husband home after a long day of work, to share a meal each day, and to have his presence to confide my heart in are the blessings of time that make the sacrifices worthwhile. I also treasure how we do everything together. Again, it's about a sharing of life. 
      Remaining home also provides ample opportunity to learn and grow together through challenges, conflict, and focusing and working for each other

      Financial disputes rank at the top of marital conflict. It's a tough thing to blend two money philosophies and practices! In following the advice mentioned at the top, the shock of dropping from two incomes to one can create even more tension. It can nearly seem impossible to live well off of only one income, but it isn't. By practicing homemaking prior to children, the opportunity is provided to learn the many ways to cut expenses and manage on one income.It's a matter of having already established sustainable lifestyle choices. If you can live with less now, then you'll be better prepared to wisely handle more later. You may or may not need to keep all the adjustments, but you will have created a firm foundation for your family. Sacrifices quickly become insignificant when you consider that what you've traded for the gain of home and family is far more valuable.

Personal Growth
     Our capacity to change or grow is limited, but the Lord's ability is unlimited. He created us and He knows how to chip away at all that hinders us from life in Him. Once He has our attention, then He can then work on having our complete heart. The core of many aspect of personal growth like character, faith and love is the heart. I've come to discover that marriage is a tool in which He shapes our hearts. Oh, the lessons and work He's doing in my own! There exists a lot of falsehood in shared advice or example in life that we must sift through and seek Him and His will. Consider the time between marriage and parenting to be a time in which the Lord is doing a work in you within the role He has already blessed you. This time is also valuable in growing you to who He wishes you to be when another role is given to you. It's certainly a slow and often unnoticeable process, but a worthy one. 

Home Management Skills
      There is completion of tasks within the home, and then there is the management of the home. There is orderly proactive living, and then there is chaotic reactive living. This is the area that many individuals, like myself, are clueless in conducting. How do I purchase healthy foods economically and prepare dishes that will actually taste pleasant? How do I create and follow a schedule so that the laundry isn't spilling out of the laundry room and my home look an embarrassment all the time? How to I replace a button, redo the hem, take up the sides of clothing? How do I create a warm and inviting decor within my home with a small budget? On and on and on. For the most part, it's a matter of education and practice in attaining better skills as they relate to the home. The time before children is a great time to learn gardening, canning, economic cooking with wholesome ingredients, sewing or mending etc. Hone those home ec. skills that ..well..you were likely never taught ;).This is by no means to advocate reason to delay children, but to simply encourage you to utilize the time you have now to learn and practice the various aspects of homemaking.

Family Practices
     I discovered this past Christmas that the reason that the season's activities are so difficult and stressful to participate in is because they are all things that are capable of being practice throughout the year but aren't. Similarly, customs established within the family of two will more likely remain in the family that expands to include children. It isn't necessary to wait until the arrival of children to begin reaching out and serving others, displaying greater character qualities or even reading the Bible together. Again, this time of homemaking without children is a great time for practice. 

In all this practicing, it is important to understand that perfection isn't the goal but progress is. 

What are some of the blessings you've received in your time homemaking without children?
Enter the giveaway for a set of four cloth napkins!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Etsy Shop Relaunch Giveaway!

To kick off the reopening of the Reviving Homemaking Etsy Shop I'm offering a giveaway for a set of four cloth napkins!

Cloth napkins are a fantastic way to add some pizazz to the dinner table! They're also a great money saver by eliminating the need to constantly buy and throw away paper towels. With cloth napkins you can add some frugal fun by easily switching out your sets for everyday use, special occasions, or in celebration of holidays or seasons.

Four coordinating patterned napkins are included in the set. Each napkin is single-sided with mitered corners, and then top-stitched. The size is approximately 14 1/2" x 15 1/4". They were made in a smoke-free and pet-free home. All fabric has been pre washed and shrunk.

Care: machine wash with like colors and no chlorine bleach. For a crisp appearance, press napkins with a warm iron before use.

Enter below for a chance to receive this set for your table! Thank you for your continued support of Reviving Homemaking! :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Five Question Friday

1. What is the weather like where you are and do you like it?
    The weather is pretty mild where we live. It's nice in that we don't totally freeze in the winter and then are able to have a good growing season for our balcony garden in warmer weather. My greatest dislike is that we are positioned to get strong nighttime storms. I had never even heard a tornado siren until we moved here. It makes me come out of my skin every time it goes off. I'm uncertain if that alarm and threat is ever something I'll "just get used to." haha. (btw, our first day of winter was 60 degrees with tornado warning and siren-- welcome to "winter?" hah. It never ends.)

2. When you're sick what do you seek comfort from?
Give me a bed to rest! I feel like providing myself adequate opportunities for rest is the best source of comfort and relief from illness. Doesn't always happen, but I try.

3. What do you need to do before the end of the month?
   I'm not entirely sure where this question was intended to go. Noticing that my poor little laptop is getting slower and slower, I made cleaning it off a New Year goal. Each month I intend to send photos to either an online service, Cd or printer. It was never really intended to hold much media, and I believe I've overwhelmed it. Whoops.

4. Have you ever served on a jury?
5. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
I'd totally be a sloth! I take forever to get anywhere!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Advertise with Reviving Homemaking

  As part of my big dreams for Reviving Homemaking I'm so pleased to announce that the site is now fully set up to offer advertising space! The idea is simply to continue to offer a sharing and supporting of homemaking. I'm a strong supporter of independent ventures and desire to do what I can to keep that spirit alive and well for others as well. Do you have a blog, etsy shop, ebook, service, product or other endeavor that you would like to create additional interest? Then, consider advertising (via ad, post feature, or giveaway) here! In keeping  with wishing to support small/independent business the pricing rates are set to be affordable at only $5 for a post feature and $10 for 30 days of running a side bar ad. Let's pull together and support one another in our means for pursuing home and family through homemaking! Thank you for your continued interested in Reviving Homemaking!

Visit the Advertising Page for more information!

*Note: I reserve the right to accept or reject requests for advertisement. I maintain a priority of protecting the interest of the blog and readers by displaying only information or products that I can truthfully endorse and recommend onward.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goal Setting for 2012

I like to set goals in various categories, and then break them
down into tiny bites to be munched on each month thoughout the
 year. Keeping all my monthly small portions in a visible spot in my
homemaking binder serves as a simiple & organized reminder as to what is current.:)  
       I love new beginnings- fresh, unblemished and full of potential. The start of another year is a perfect time for reflection on that which was decidedly stale, blemished, and at a dead-end. I believe it's the possibility of cleaning the slate of all the challenges and disappointments that held us back the previously that makes new year resolutions so appealing and attractive. Interestingly enough, nothing has really changed other than night to day. So, is it truly necessary to have a designated yearly timeframe for reflection and goal setting? JWhy don't we do this more often? Just a thought.

      Resolutions are notorious for being broken nearly as soon as they are made. How do we create notions of improvement without the limitation of impending failure? I've discovered a few guildlines as I thought of the upcoming year's potential myself:
  1. Think small. Small doesn't mean limiting achievement, it means maximizing success. When expectations are too gradiose, then the shortcoming may be accompanied by disappointment and unmotivation to press on. Perhaps this is why we often wait until the next year to re-resolute after the intial one failed. So, think small and celebrate the joy of achievement.
  3. Get specific. I could say, "eat healthier." Or, I could say, "replace one conventional food item (name it- milk, eggs, lettuce etc) with an organic/local alternative." Which one would you be more willing to apply? Precisely, the second statement. We often use terms of comparison (better, more, less, -(i)er etc) to set goals but then stumble in clearly understanding how to apply such ambiguious statements.
  5. Determine an extensive timeframe (ie realistic). New Year may happen overnight, but change doesn't. The focus is too often on the result and not on the process. The process, by the way, is practice. If we determine that we will practice a new characteristic or behavior rather than accomplish it, then we're more likely to see it stick. Let's go back to the food example of desiring to eat healthier replace conventional item (defined) with organic/local. I could now say, "replace milk with an organic option for the entirity of this month." The following month, I may keep the milk change and add ...say..eggs. The four weeks gives me the chance to adjust purchasing and usage of the product. In other words, I've given myself the opportunity to practice the behavior before moving on to something more complex or something else entirely.
      I could post my list of goals for the year, but thought it may be less overwhelming and more rewarding to do so as a montly reflection. Yes?

      As I thought further upon this tradition of reflection and resolution, I'm reminded of Jesus and how He can wipe our sins clean. Continually I must humble myself to reflect upon my sin and ask for forgiveness. From there I am reaffirmed and encouraged to seek and walk with Him. Of all the goals or resolutions I may desire to set for myself for the upcoming year, the greatest of all is this understanding. An excellent resource for spiritual reflection and resolution can be consulted in this article: Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year
Do you set goals for the new year? How do you determine yours?

p.s. With the start of 2012 is also the restart for the Reviving Homemaking Etsy Shop! I think giveaway is in order for that, yeah? Watch for the relaunch and giveaway later this week!!! :)

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