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How we are dealing with Mosquitoes this year!

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Homemade Mosquito Repellent

Thanks to a friend last year introduced me to this awesome recipe for a Homemade Mosquito Repellent.   I can spray this on my clothes or on my skin and I won’t be bit.    It is amazing stuff.

 Materials:

  • 15 drops lavender oil
  • 3 Tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 10 drops of citronella oil or lemon-eucalyptus oil
  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice
  • Spray bottle

Directions:

Combine above ingredients in spray bottle. Fill remainder of bottle with water, water/vodka or water/witch hazel mixture.

I used water and vodka and it worked great.   I purchased this Essential set from Amazon it is perfect for this application.

If you would prefer to purchase a good insect repellent I strongly suggest this AVON skin so Soft with picaridin   This has worked very well for me.

Prepare your yard

Fairfax County has information about mosquitoes and how to prevent them in your yard.

I suggest installing bat houses around the yard.  Bats eat a lot of mosquitoes each night.    We have 2 but our bats haven’t used them 100% of the time so we will be adding more this year.

We use a handful of Tiki Torches in the yard and use a citronella oil  that we find does help get the mosquitoes confused and we get less bites.

Education

Teaching kids how to prevent mosquitoes.  Fairfax County has created the Fight the Bite campaign

If you get bitten

If you have a lot of bites and get a strong reaction talk to your doctor about taking Benadryl or other anti-histime.  It will help decrease the reaction immediately.   In addition, if the bites are very swollen they may not be mosquito but chiggers and they too are painful.   Talk to your doctor if you don’t know what the bites are.   I’ve had to do this myself.   You may need a strong cortizone cream.

Don’t scratch!  This is so much easier said then done.  To prevent scratching I strongly suggest using a Lidocaine cream or antithetic so that it will be numb.  There are so many on the market.   I’ve used lidocaine for waxing, and even tooth gel works great.

Per my dermatologist I have to put bandages on them.  It is essential to prevent yourself from scratching and I do scratch even when I don’t realize it.  Oops!   I like the Dollar Tree bandages the best since they are a little less sticky so they will stay as long as I want and then come off when I need them too.

I hope this helps you!   Have a great summer!

Thank for supporting Redberrydeals!  Some of the links are Amazon affiliate links.

 

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ReStore – Habitat for Humanity – DIY Home projects

One of my favorite places to buy cheap discounted house materials is the ReStore – Habitat for Humanity.  If you haven’t been to one of the local locations in NOVA, I strongly suggest you do. They have a location in Alexandria, and Chantilly.

ReStore – Habitat for Humanity has donated materials that come from home owners and builders.   Materials including tile, cabinets even paint that was used once.  You can donate just about anything to them too.  Light fixtures, ovens, and dishwashers are available.   We’ve found electrical material that my hubby was looking for and couldn’t find at any other store.

Click HERE if you are interested in donating items to the ReStore.   You can even schedule a pickup.

For our current house we bought some beautiful Bruce (named brand) hardwood flooring at the ReStore several years ago that we used in our upstairs hallway.  Wow! We got it for about $1 a square foot which is a lot less than anywhere else.  I don’t recommend this project for a beginner because it is a challenge but it is an example of getting good quality materials for a fraction of the price.  It turned out great!

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Dollar Tree: XXL Bulk Stor It Bag for $1

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I’ve been working around the house to re-organize as my 2014 goal.  I have to share this.   I’ve been going to a couple different Dollar Tree stores and finding some great products to help.  I found this XXL Bulk Stor It Bag.   You can see here it is pretty big.  I have it next to a regular gallon Hefty bag in the picture above.  This is holding my extra slip cover for my Ektorp sofa.  I can then store it under the sofa perfectly.   The best part is this seems to seal better than the Space Bags that easily cost $2-$4 each.  This is only $1!   Imagine all of the other things you can store in these type of bags.

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My Laundry Schedule

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Back in 2012, I asked about how others did their laundry and heard several different responses.  In December 2013,  I asked my friends on Facebook how they handle all of their laundry and the responses got me on a mission.   I had to figure out a new system for my family.

Step 1:    I got everyone in my family a laundry hamper that fits ONLY 1 X-large load of laundry.   This is key!  If the hamper is too big then the loads get overwhelming.  If they are too small then it just seems like a waste of water and time.   The Jall hampers from IKEA work great and the price is right currently $4.99 each.

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Step 2.  I also created a hamper system for towels and delicates.  Towels are the easiest items to clean in my opinion so whenever I get a load of towels I can throw them in the laundry and put them away easily.  I love this picture by the way because my 2 year old took it.

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Step 3.  Everyday I do at least 1 load of laundry.  I find that it isn’t as overwhelming as it may sound.   Whoever has a full hamper that is the load for the day.  I don’t sort by colors and whites.  I throw it all in.   Since the laundry is only that person’s laundry the sorting is super easy at the end.  My daughter’s laundry will be taken to her room and the boy’s laundry will be taken to their room.

Step 4.  Label each of the hampers.  I used Vinyl with my new Silhouette Cameo.

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Step 5.   When I put the laundry away for items that need to be hung up I do it as I take them out of the dryer.   I have a shower curtain rod hanging in my laundry room and I put hangers on it.    Then all I need to do is put away the rest.   That is it!

How do you do your laundry?  Do you have a system?   What do you think?

 

$1.00 off Spot Shot Stain & Odor Eliminator

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Making My Home-Made Dishwasher Detergent

April 2013 –
As I was working on cleaning up the kitchen last week, I was thinking about the fact I was getting low on dishwasher detergent and needed to find some good deals.    I just haven’t seen or heard of any recently.     In addition, I’ve become very interested in using healthy products in the home such as Shaklee Basic H2.     I did some simple searches and found several websites offering their recipes for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent including DIYnatural.com .   This got me very excited because I have most of the ingredients at home!  Not only would this be healthy but also cheap!   Now the question was would this really work???

From Homemade Dishwasher Detergent including DIYnatural.com:

Soap recipe

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (for scrubbing action)

Use 1 Tbsp per load (you can use a heaping tablespoon if you feel the need, but we do not).

Each batch yields 24 ounces of detergent. We recommend storing in a container you were going to dispose of anyway, like an old yogurt container or coffee can you can fit it under your kitchen sink. Feel free to double the batch, or multiply to create any amount you’d like.

I needed to find Citric Acid.  Where do you find Citric Acid?   There were suggestions the FAQ on their site such as Amazon, and Lemi-Shine , and most stores sell canning products with Citric Acid.

I headed to my local Walmart and compared the prices and what I could tell by the labels and found Dishwasher Magic Dish and Spot Remover.   It said its main ingredient is Citric Acid so I went ahead and purchased 16 oz for $3.50.  Note:  I only need 1/2 a cup for this recipe.

I came home and followed the instructions above and as you see in the picture came up with a container.  One of the suggestions is to continue to mix it by shaking it so that there are less clumps.  Clumping is a problem with this mixture especially for high humidity climates.    I did just as mentioned and so far so good.  Then I read, there are some people using the Silica-Gel packets that you get in medicines and other products to absorb moisture and add them in.   So whenever I find one I throw that in for safe keeping.

Then using it!   I put a tablespoon in the bottom of the dishwasher and then another half-tablespoon in one of the cups.   I also have solid Jet Dry that I use since our dishwasher is more than 20 years old it doesn’t have the fancy Jet Dry dispenser.

It turns out the dishes have been coming out very clean.  I’m so impressed!   I can’t seem to get them to come clean like that with any of the name brand detergents.   I know we have hard water but this recipe works great and with the solid Jet Dry it really works.

I love my old dishwasher!

September 2013 –

I wanted to update this post and say that I’ve been so happy with this recipe and even my skeptical husband really is impressed. We use 1 tablespoon in the bottom of the machine and a little less than a tablespoon in the cup that closes. The dishes come out perfect.

I have recently purchased the Citric Acid from Amazon and it works just as good as the Dishwasher magic.

Our environment is pretty humid in the woods which causes it to clump up a bit. I put several of the moisture packets (silica gel) into the mixture so that it doesn’t clump as much and I gently shake or stir it regularly.

I find this batch lasts us about 3 weeks and we do at least 1 to 2 loads a day.

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Day #18-28 -30 Day Cleaning Challenge

Day #18-28

I’m going to challenge myself by following the 31 Day Cleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom.     She is using the chart from Fresh and Organized. So, I’m a little off the same schedule but we are getting most of the things done.

Day 18:  clean out your refrigerator and/or organize your pantry I’m amazed how fast time has past!  It has been over 10 days since I updated my blog.  Trying to keep up with it all is hard work.   Even though I haven’t been good about posting here I have been great at keeping up with my daily activities for this challenge or doing something on the list.

I did go grocery shopping and re-filled the pantry and refrigerator.  I do need to clean out the refrigerator!

Day 19:  clean your entryway, sweep your garage, and/or vacuum out your car.  We didn’t get to this on Day 19, but my hubby cleaned the front porch on Day 26.  It was awesome!       I did clean up some of the bedrooms and even vacuumed every room in the house including the basement!

Day 20, 21 and 22: surface clean living room and kitchen, surface clean bathroom(s), or surface clean bedroom(s).    We worked over the weekend and cleaned up the family room and kitchen.   I even had my daughter help with the downstairs bathroom.

Day 23:  sweep and vacuum all the floors in your house.  Since I had already done this over the weekend, I caught up on cleaning the kitchen and putting away some of the laundry.

Day 24: clean your linen closet.  I should have worked on cleaning out one of our closets.  We don’t have a linen closet but we have a lot of other closets.  I did go through some of them earlier in the month and pick out things to donate.  (This would be a great challenge each month!)

Day 25: surface clean or deep clean your kitchen and/or living room.  I didn’t get to deep clean but I did keep up.  I ended up deep cleaning the kitchen on Day 27.    We did a quick clean around the house and vacuumed the family room before we had guests over.

Day 26,27 and 28: surface clean a bedroom or the bathroom(s) or you can vacuum and/or sweep the floors in your home.  I ended up surface clean the kids bedrooms on the 26th as well as the hubby vacuuming the front porch.

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Day #15-17 -30 Day Cleaning Challenge

Day #15-17

I’m going to challenge myself by following the 31 Day Cleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom.     She is using the chart from Fresh and Organized. So, I’m a little off the same schedule but we are getting some of the things done.

Day 15:  surface clean the living room and kitchen. We had a huge playdate at our house that was a bit larger then I was planning for so I quickly had my daughter and I clean as much as we could. I ended up filling up a basket of items from our dining room and put them in the upstairs guest room and papers were put back into the office. My half organized office is back to piles again. 🙁 I had my daughter help me and clean one of the bathrooms later in the day. I did put some laundry away.

Day 16:  deep clean your bathroom(s)  I ended up doing some cleaning in the family room instead and it was so good to vacuum most of the rooms on the main floor. We had babysitters come over to watch the kids while I got some other things done.

Day 17:  Knobs and handles –  I decided not only to tackle that I would also deep clean the kitchen and re-organize a couple of the cabinets. Wow! What a difference!

redberrydeals_kitchen_day17

This is the before and this is the after of the back part of our kitchen which we call the butler’s pantry. See how I have so many appliances. I found lots of unused or not used correctly space. For example the 2 bread makers that we love to use are now sitting in the lazy susan which was being used for cereal which half the time is being put on the floor by one of the boys. Moved the cereal to the pantry.

 

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This are looks and feels so clean!

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I got so excited at finishing my first project and the kids were playing and being very good I decided to tackle the next portion of the kitchen!  Yes, this is what my counter looks like after lunch.

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This is after I cleaned up the counter and ready to clean out that cabinet above it.

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The process of sorting things out and figuring out what we use and don’t use or forgot we had!

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The end result a well organized cabinet with markers, pencils, crayons and paint ready for craft time.  I also put stickers in a plastic bag so when we find stickers we have a place for them.  I used cans from canned food for the markers and plan to decorate them later.   I love this all organized!

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Day #6-14 – 30 Day Cleaning Challenge

Day #6-14

I’m going to challenge myself by following the 31 Day Cleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom.     She is using the chart from Fresh and Organized.

Has it been over 8 days since I posted on this Challenge?  Well, I have to admit I have been doing the challenge!  When I get on my computer I have been doing a lot of other things like finishing up my small business paperwork, creating some embroidery items for customers and working on a new up and coming sewing forum.   Feel free to check it out!   It is called 4 the love of fabric.com. It is a paid subscription forum. It is a great place to talk and learn about sewing, quilting, and embroidery.

Day 6:

Clean Bathrooms – Since the bathrooms were basically already cleaned from a couple days ago I didn’t feel I needed to again so I continued on working on the office paper work.

Day 7:

All interior windows –  This is still on my list.  I used the rest of the weekend to catch up on keeping the kitchen and family room clean.

Day 8:

Sweep and vaccum all of the rooms in the house – I’ve always wanted to do this!  I’m not joking.  But, my house is always a mess in some room.  So I made it a challenge on Day 12 and Day 13 to do this challenge and I almost succeeded.

Day 9:

Surface clean bedrooms – I worked again on my daughter’s room the master bedroom.   We got several loads of laundry put away.

Day 10:

Deep clean the family room –  I actually did some of this.  I cleaned the TV, dusted around the hearth and some of the base boards.

Day 11:

Clean the bathrooms – I wanted to do this but I needed to catch up again on the kitchen, laundry and other chores.

Day 12:

Clean out closets – Hahah!  This one is a challenge so I went back and did the sweeping and vacuuming of the house.   The best part is I remembered I have a Roomba.  I forgot we had one.  We have the original one.  My hubby had it in the basement so I used it in there both on Day 12 and Day 13 since it really needed it.   We have a lot of kid toys down there and it helped to convince the kids to clean up the toys because the “robot” doesn’t like to vacuum toys.

Day 13:

Surface clean the other rooms – Besides vacuuming the other rooms and doing some more laundry.  I did tackle the guest bedroom that has a bit of everything.  It has the donation pile, the consignment sale and my extra sewing supplies.  I had my hubby take the donation pile to the Salvation Army today – total of 5 bags.

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Day #3-5 – 30 Day Cleaning Challenge

Day #3-5

I’m going to challenge myself by following the 31 Day Cleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom.     She is using the chart from Fresh and Organized.

Day 3:

Surface clean the bedrooms

Day 4:

Surface clean other rooms

Day 5:

Surface clean kitchen or living room/family room
This is hard!   My kids and I worked hard on the bedrooms and only got to 2 of them.  It was a lot of hard work for 2 hours with 3 small kids.  I got pretty exhausted and it did cause me to fall behind on my other chores like dishes.   Here is the before of my Doodle’s room.

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Here is the before of the boys’ room.

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Yesterday we had outside activities so I fell behind again on working on the  “other” room.  I did put some items away in the dining room and I even cleaned up the family room a bit and vacuumed it.   It still needs more cleaning even after that quick clean up.   Then today the kids spilled a bag of popcorn all over the floor so I need to re-vaccum.  It is never ending!

My goal this weekend  is to get the office cleaned! My husband and I are on the same page to get it looking very clean and re-organized.  I plan on catching up on coupons and we plan on working together to get rid of papers we just don’t need to keep.   One that has continued to work well for us is our receipt envelopes which is part of our message board.    This method has saved us so much time and stress.  Yes, we have been doing this for over a year and it has worked!   As soon as we get a receipt for anything we put it in the monthly envelope and if we need it again we know exactly where to go!

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Day #2 – 30 Day Cleaning Challenge

Day #2

I’m going to challenge myself by following the 31 Day Cleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom.     She is using the chart from Fresh and Organized.

Per Money Saving Mom:

Your project for today is to clean your bathrooms.

  1. Clean the toilets.  I usually just use free shampoo or if I toilet bowl cleaner I use that and let it sit.
  2. Take everything out that doesn’t need to be in there.
  3. Including taking the rugs and washing them, if I haven’t already done this recently.
  4. Clean the sinks with a microfiber cloth and Shaklee Basic H2.
  5. Mop the floor to get the dust and grime up.  It’s been awhile.
  6. Rinse out the tubs and spray them down.
  7. Clean the mirrors.
  8. Clean the front of the cabinets.

Woohoo!  I finished all of the bathrooms.  Thanks to my daughter for helping me.    She helped mop the floors and wipe the sinks.   We were done with all 3 bathrooms in about 30 minutes.

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Oh how I love my clean guest bathroom.

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Master bathroom!

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