How To Save Time Cleaning The House

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:02 am on Monday, March 9, 2015

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According to my recent Time Audit, I spend 9 hours a week cleaning my house. I’m still not sure how I managed to spend so much time on my house, but I think it went something like this:

* On the weekends, I would do a half-day deep clean that would take 5 hours and piss me off exceedingly.

* Throughout the week, I would ignore the house, then do a bunch of cleaning all at once. So I would ignore the house on Sunday-Tuesday, then have to clean for three hours on Wednesday.

* The unaccounted for time must then be little things: putting the dishes away, wiping down the counter before making dinner, dealing with the laundry, and so forth. (I did to some cleaning every day, but only the bare minimum.)

Basically, my house would get dirty, I’d spend a lot of time cleaning it, let it get dirty again, and spend even more time cleaning it. It was inefficient and dumb.

So I came up with a system that seems to work a lot better and saves me time. It goes like this:

Every day, clean for 20 minutes
On the weekend, clean for 1-2 hours.

Total time spent: 3-3.5 hours
Time saved: 5.5 hours.

Why does this work? It’s because with the 20 minutes cleaning, the house isn’t allowed to get that dirty.

I’m finding that 20 minutes seems to hit the sweet spot where I do that one or two extra things that keeps the house up. So before, I would put away the dishes and sweep the floor, which would take 12 minutes, and then stop. Now I do that and still have another 8 minutes to fill, so I’ll put away the laundry or clean out the sink or put away my son’s toys. In essence, it forces me to attend to that extra bit of mess that used to accumulate and take me so much time to clean at the end of the week.

I’m pretty amazed at the difference this is making. My house is a lot cleaner and I’m cleaning it less. (It helps that I’m more organized now, too.) Keeping up the house through the week seems to be a more efficient way to clean.

How do you save time when you clean?

Three Seed Catalogs To Check Out

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:58 am on Friday, March 6, 2015

It’s time to plan this year’s garden. And right on schedule, the seed catalogs are appearing in the mail.

Have you ever noticed how the majority of these catalogs have the same plants in them? In every magazine, there are the same broccoli, tomatoes, beans, and carrots seeds you can get anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it can get boring, especially when you start to realize the swath of edible plants out there just waiting to be tried out.

Luckily, several seed companies do go out of the their way to provide access to a more interesting variety of plants. Here are three see I like:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This company, which goes out of its way to “promote and preserve our agricultural and culinary heritage”, provides vegetable seeds that you don’t normally see in the hardware store–purple carrots, white eggplants, peppermint tomatoes, striped beets, purple bell peppers. They are “non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated, and non-patented seeds.” Order Baker Creek’s free–and rather beautiful–catalog here.

One Green World. While this company doesn’t offer vegetables, it does offer other fascinating-sounding trees, vines, and fruits. What exactly is a Tasmania Vine (pictured above)? What does a silverberry taste like? When I finally get around to planting honeyberries or a tea bush, I will look here first. Request a catalog here.

Bountiful Gardens. This is a great seed company that offers “untreated open-pollinated non-GMO seed of heirloom quality for vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains, green manures, compost and carbon crops.” Not only do they have the usual vegetables, they have categories like “mushroom kits” or “unusual hot-weather heirlooms” or “grains, fibers and oil crops.” You can get the Bountiful Gardens catalog here.

What is your favorite seed company? Why?

St Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:27 am on Thursday, March 5, 2015

St Patrick’s Day is coming up. What do you think of cupcakes for dessert this year?

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Peppermint Patty Cupcakes

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Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (Not kid friendly.)

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Lucky Charms Cupcakes

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cupcakes

My 2015 Vegetable Garden

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It’s that time again! What am I going to plant in my garden this year.

New experiment this year: Eggplant! I’ve never grown it before and I’ve recently learned to love it. Plus the plants are gorgeous.

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One Hop Plant (total of three now)

6-8 Asparagus (starting a new bed)

6 Strawberries

3 tomato plants: (Early Girl, Beefsteak, and some kind of heirloom wild card)

4 Sweet Bell Peppers (2 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow)

1 other sweet pepper

(No spicy peppers this year. I grew so many last year, which I canned, froze, and dried. I won’t need spicy peppers for quite awhile.)

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Sunflowers

2 Zucchini Plants

2 Acorn Squashes

2 Melons (Perhaps another Ananas D’Amerique Melon.)

2 Cucumbers

Spinach

Some Other Kind Of Lettuce

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Jerusalem Artichokes (if I can find them. People around here don’t seem to sell them.)

Peas

Leeks

French Green Beans

Stringless Green Beans

Radishes

Carrots

Potatoes

Basil

That’s it! What are you planning?

21 Delicious Breakfast Toasts

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:37 am on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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Buzzfeed surprised me with this cool post on 21 Ideas For Energy-Boosting Breakfast Toasts.

My favorites: Sauteed Kale + One-Egg Omelet + Grated Cheddar Cheese or Sliced Plums + Sunflower Seed Butter + Flaxseed.

Related: Skinny Fried Egg and Avocado Toast

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How I Regained Almost A Day A Week With A Time Audit

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:34 am on Monday, March 2, 2015

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What’s the most precious resource in your life? For me, it’s time. It’s the one thing you can’t get back. So I decided to see if I could free up a few more hours a week by doing a Time Audit.

For two weeks, I carried a notebook with me and wrote down everything I did and how much time it took me to do it. Then I broke all my activities into categories, tallied how much time each one took, and compared them to total time spent. From there, I broke the categories into percentages, so I could tell how much time I spent working, sleeping, eating, watching TV, and so forth.

Why do this? To:

    * Find out what I was really spending my time on.
    * Find extra hours in the week.
    * Learn how to use my time more efficiently.

Writing down everything you do is an annoying chore, but it was worth it because now I have an accurate idea of how I was using my time, and where I was wasting it. I learned a lot about myself in the process.

Here’s a few things I learned:

THE GOOD:

I work a lot. Turns out I spend the majority of my time working, which is fine with me. I love to work.

I read a lot. I was surprised to find I spend a portion of every day reading books. I didn’t realize it was such an ingrained habit, and I think it’s a good one to have.

I spend a lot of time socializing, being active, and playing with my son. All good things.

THE BAD:

I sleep too much. What? An adult woman who gets *too much* sleep? Yep. I was frequently getting over 9 hours of sleep per night. I believe in getting enough rest, but that’s just ridiculous. So I started getting up an hour earlier, which means an extra 7 more hours a week.

I spend too much time cleaning. I was shocked to find that I spend 9 hours a week just cleaning. That’s insane! My house isn’t even that clean. I’m trying a new system out to save time—if it works I’ll save an extra six hours a week.

UPDATE: Related post How To Save Time Cleaning The House.

I spend too much time cooking. In my effort to stop eating out so much, I’ve been making meal plans and cooking at home. The uptick of that is that I spent way too much time in the kitchen and at the table—up to 15 hours a week. Can you ever win? I like to cook, but over an hour of total time on a weekday spent devoted to dinner (including eating) seems excessive. SO I’ve been experimenting with a new system for that too, and it seems to be saving me an extra five hours or so in the kitchen. I’ll share about this in a separate post too.

UPDATE: Related post
How To Save Time In The Kitchen

I watch too much TV. This one shocked me. On a weekday, we watch maybe one or two shows and that’s it–but if you add that up along with a movie or two, and it ends up being 12 hours a week, a major time suck. I figure seven hours a week is enough TV for me, which will free up about five extra hours a week. I’ll look into how to fix that one too.

So: If I address these problem areas, I’ll free up 23 hours a week.

That’s right, if I change some of my habits, I’ll gain almost an entire day of free time per week, thanks to the time audit.

I’d better get started.

Easy Tip To Remove Labels From Plastic Tubs

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:46 am on Thursday, February 26, 2015

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It turns out it’s easy to remove labels from plastic tubs like yogurt containers. All it takes is pure acetone, which is apparently in the beauty section near the finger nail polish removers. Using that stuff, the label wipes right off.

Orange Creamsicle Cocktail

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:40 am on Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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It may be in the middle of February, but that’s no reason you can’t have a taste of summer with the newest drink I made with DIY Cocktails. It tastes just like a Orange Creamsicle.

The drink is also seasonal because it uses fresh-squeezed orange juice–you can get oranges at their cheapest right now. (You can also use store-bought orange juice if you don’t feel like squeezing oranges.) With cream, simple syrup, and vodka, the Orange Creamsicle Cocktail tastes like the popsicle–only more sophisticated.

Orange Creamsicle Cocktail
(Makes one cocktail)

Ingredients:

    1 1/2 ounce vodka
    2 ounces fresh orange juice
    1 ounce cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 ounces simple syrup
    Sparkling water

Directions:

Squeeze the orange juice. Combine juice, vodka, simple syrup, and vanilla in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Add cream. Close and shake thoroughly. Strain into a glass and top with sparkling water. Enjoy!

10 Tasty Vegetarian Sandwiches

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:14 am on Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If made right, vegetable sandwiches are healthy, satisfying, and delicious. The key is to use fresh, quality ingredients (good bread; no crunchy tomatoes). Here’s 10 Tasty Vegetarian Sandwiches I want to try:

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Smoky Vegetarian Beet Reubens: beets, mayonnaise, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese.

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Vegetable Sandwich with Hummus and Pesto: radishes, carrots, cucumber, tomato, pesto, and hummus.

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Portabella Mushroom Cheesesteaks: mushrooms, peppers, onions, cheese.

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Avocado Caprese Grilled Cheese: avocado, tomatoes, and cheese.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Avocado, & Feta Sandwich

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Green Goddess Sandwiches: avocado, fresh mozzarella, zebra tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled onions, and Green Goddess Mayonnaise. (YUM.)

Fava Bean Patties.

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Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches with Zesty White Bean Spread: roasted peppers and zucchini with a white bean spread.

Grilled thin sliced zucchini sandwich w/tomatoes, mozzarella & olivada. Moreton's House 712 Greenwood, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-5923. W: 919 967 2185 C: 919 260 7465 www.nealsdeli.com A100527_F&W_NealsDeli_Sept_2010

Grilled-Zucchini Subs with Fresh Mozzarella and Olivada

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Veggie and Hummus Sandwich: cucumber, tomato, avocado, sprouts, hummus.

A Plant That Grows Both Potatoes And Tomatoes

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:45 am on Monday, February 23, 2015

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How crazy is this? The Ketchup ‘n’ Fries Plant grows both potatoes and tomatoes. One plant grows about 500 cherry tomatoes and over 4.5 pounds of white potatoes.

It might sounds like crazy GMO stuff, but actually a much more natural process–both tomatoes and potatoes are nightshade plants, meaning they’re related. So, this is a cherry tomato plant that has been simply grafted onto a white potato.

Sounds pretty fun to me. This plant would be great if you had limited space in a garden. I’m wagering it would do pretty well in a container, too.

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