Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Motherly Advice......The Nifty-One-Fifty and Best Ever Home Made Cleaners...

A few years ago, I developed a habit called a Nifty-One-Fifty.
That's 150 minutes of uninterrupted time to accomplish the tasks in my day.
It is a way of disciplining myself to have a dedicated 2 1/2 hour slot first up in my day, to get tasks done, keep on top of housework and other commitments and allow myself the rest of the day to do as I please.
It also gives me an effective way to schedule time in the day for self-care, and nurturing others.
That's important too.
Here's how it works for me
I need to discipline myself in order to get things done in a timely manner. You too?
I'm no angel.
The computer calls, as does the sewing machine and my vast collection of cookbooks, so it's easy to get distracted.
Using my Nifty-One-Fifty to accomplish the mundane in my routine, is both rewarding and motivating. I know that if I cram as much as possible into that first 2 1/2 hours of the day, the rest of my time is my own.
I schedule Nifty-One-Fifty's in four main areas of my routine.
1. Shopping and food preparation
2. Cleaning and home maintenance
3. Gift creation, home furnishings and other creative endeavours
4. Self-nurturing and self-maintenance
Shopping and food prep
Over the years, I've stretched my weekly shop, to one every ten days. This works better for me, and for our budget, allowing me to accumulate fresh produce at bulk prices, and nab good bargains when they're available mid-week.
So, once every ten days, I allow a Nifty-One-Fifty for shopping and one  for meal prep. That's usually a single five hour block on a quiet day. That sounds a lot, but I buy everything I can in bulk, and pack and pre-prep as if we were a restaurant or commercial kitchen, thus reducing our grocery bill, almost eliminating the need for fast food on busy nights, and maximising food shelf life and storage space.
I pre-marinate, pre-portion, pre-prepare, and par-cook almost everything for the week in that block of time. 
You can read more about my methods here.
I've actually grown to enjoy and value my food prep and grocery shopping days. It's a challenge I set myself, to feed the family well on a tight budget, and I love coming up with new and creative ways to do just that.
This week alone, I've mastered gluten free pastry (pastry has always been my nemesis), home made wholegrain mustard, added bacon and egg pie to my repertoire (not quiche..a different thing), and I'm about to give gluten free scones a try. Scones and pastry are something we all miss in going Gluten Free, so this will be a real coup!
In June I managed to come up with a great gluten free pizza base that the family loved, so I'm really proud to now be recreating our old favourites, in versions that are kinder to our tummies.
Pizza base recipe here.
Allowing myself these dedicated blocks of time to find new and creative ways to feed the family well on a budget (and really...don't we ALL have a budget?), spurs me on enormously. If I was just prepping meal by meal, I wouldn't do this at all. It's a great strategy, and I've come to really enjoy these food prep sessions. They've actually become  more of a 'me time' than a chore. What a great outcome :)
Cleaning and home maintenance
Cleaning. Sigh. No-one loves it, but we all have to do it. Personally I like to get it out of the way quick and dandy so I an relax with a nice read or some sewing, baking or socialising.
Here's what I do to make the task fast, pleasant and effective.
First of all, let me tell you that I've researched and trialled products extensively in my lifetime.
So worked, some didn't.
As the years have gone by, I've overwhelmingly returned to homemade cleaners. They're less expensive, they smell better, they work just as well, and I can replenish them at will. Of course, they're mostly more environmentally friendly too.
That said, it's not all about products, it's also about your routine.
During my Nifty-One-Fifty, I treat cleaning, maintaining and beautifying my home as if I was employed for that responsibility alone by someone else.
I do not take a break, I don't stop for a cup of tea, I don't look at my phone or the computer, and I certainly don't watch television.
I dress for the job in comfortable clothes, closed in shoes, and have my accoutrements for the job tidily arranged in a bucket, just like a professional cleaner.

I have a system of working top to bottom of the home. Not upstairs and downstairs as we are on one level. But ceiling to floor. Many of you probably do the same.

It's pretty much: Dust ceiling and light fixtures for cobwebs, dust pictures on the walls, dust flat surfaces, polish and shine wooden surfaces like side tables and the kitchen bench, clean the bathrooms, sweep, vacuum and mop.

I make the task easier by using my favourite Miracle Cleaner.
Here's the recipe:
5 1/2 cups tap water
1 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid
3 dessertspoons Lectric Washing Soda
1 tablespoon essential oil eg. Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Neroli, or a combination of any scents or essential oils you like
Mix the Lectric Soda (Washing Soda Crystals) with the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and pour into a bottle for storage. Decant into spray bottles as required and use as you would any other spray cleaner.
I like to tint mine with a drop of food colouring and store it in thrifted cut glass whisky decanters. My last batch was pink, and this decanter set me back a whole $2.
My favourite bathroom cleaner is also home made.
Here's the recipe...
Pour half to one cup of Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) into a container, and mix enough dishwashing detergent with it to make a paste about the consistency of toothpaste.

The way I use this is a little unorthodox but very effective. I put on body exfoliating gloves kept just for this purpose. Then I take a teaspoon of the paste, and smear it over the palms of the gloves, and rub and scrub all over our shower recesses and basins with my gloved hands. Rinse and repeat if necessary. This works like an absolute charm and for some reason, the showers stay cleaner for longer. Fabulous.
I use this furniture polish:
1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup generic olive oil
30 drops lavender essential oil
Pour into a spray bottle and shake well. Shake before each use to disperse the oils evenly. Use by spraying lightly over wooden surfaces, and polish with a soft cloth. A dessertspoon of Glycerine really helps with the shine if you have it. It's available in the medicinal section of the supermarket and is very inexpensive.
I love this glass cleaner:
4 cups water
2 tablespoons Ammonia
Pour into a spray bottle and shake to mix. Apply lightly and wipe away with a soft, lint free cloth.
I've heard you can use white vinegar in place of the Ammonia, but this is so cost effective AND effective that I don't mess with it too much. You buy the Ammonia in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket.
To prevent the vacuum cleaner being a bit smelly (which they do get occasionally), I clean the filter thoroughly after each use by giving it a bit of a bash on the stair rail outside, (careful you don't inhale the fine dust), and spray it with my home made deodoriser/room spray.
Home made Room and Home Freshener Spray
I buy my spray bottles from Aussie Soap Supplies here, but many suppliers have them these days.
Many tutorials will tell you to use vodka, or other stabilisers in home made sprays. I have to say I've rarely done this for my own use, or for gifting, as the amounts in which I produce and use them, really don't require long shelf life.
I simply use boiled, cooled water with a little Witch Hazel added to help disperse the oils, adding whatever combination of scent I like. I keep the fragrance light so that it's not overpowering.
Some combinations for our home made freshening sprays are....
To 100mls boiled and cooled water mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Witch Hazel  try adding one of these combinations:
4 drops each Green Apple fragrance oil and Lemon essential oil.
4 drops Jasmine essential oil (expensive but lasts ages).
6 drops Christmas Tree fragrance oil from Heirloom Body Care (I purchase many of my fragrance oils from there)
4 drops each of Wintergreen and Scotch Pine for when the Winter ills and chills hit.
6-10 drops Rose fragrance oil...just because I love it so much.
4 drops each Lavender and Peppermint, which is calming and refreshing together. I find this wonderful when I have a migraine.
4 drops each Sandalwood and Neroli, which is just lush and heavenly.
Home made Citrus Cleaner

This one looks gross, doesn't it? But it's a wonderful bathroom and general cleaner for areas that are a bit stubborn.
You can use any citrus peels, but I have a Makrut (Kaffir) Lime Tree, which we grow for the leaves to use in Asian dishes. Alas the fruit is indedible, and smells like soap or disinfectant, making it ideal for this.
You just throw the peels and pith into a jar, and cover it with white vinegar. Leave for four weeks. Strain through muslin, and decant into a spray bottle.
Done. I love it for cleaning the bins, the kitchen bin cavity and my Falcon/Aga stove. Brilliant. And really, made from something we usually throw away.
Between those home made cleaners and a bit of elbow grease, our home is sparkling and welcoming in no time at all.
Using the idea of a Nifty-One-Fifty in other areas of your life
These Nifty-150s have taught me the value of quality time and concerted effort in so many other areas of my life, and sometimes an N150 (as I now think of it), with my daughter and/or husband, or children or grandchildren is just what the doctor ordered.
Whilst my daughter was on her mid year University break recently, I scheduled many an N150 with her. I just know in my heart, that the opportunities to have 2 1/2 hours with her in a single stretch, are rapidly diminishing as she grapples with adult life.
I try to schedule N150's with my sons and their wives, and my grandchildren too, although that isn't always easy. If we manage one a month, I feel I've achieved something.
Husband gets his share too of course, but then we do see each other daily and for lengthy periods of time as he is semi-retired now anyway. So that's less of an issue.
Remembering to schedule time with your nearest and dearest is such an important adult skill. I think many of us do it automatically, but if not, perhaps it's worth considering a Nifty-One-Fifty, a Power Hour, or even an Extreme Fifteen with those you love most.
Speaking of Power Hours and Extreme Fifteens, those can be useful time slots for other tasks too.
I appreciate that not everyone has a 2 1/2 hour stretch in which to accomplish what they'd like to in a day. I don't always either.
But any amount of concerted effort in ANY area of your life will make a difference to you and those you love.
From cleaning, to sewing, to cooking and gardening.
I've learned to love my Nifty-One-Fifty's, no matter what I'm doing. They give me a valuable sense of achievement each and every day, and that's a good feeling.
What are your strategies for a clean, happy home, a well controlled budget, a great routine, and a contented family?
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  1. Thank you for posting such a comprehensive list of cleaning recipes and links to other interesting information and recipes. I agree that the homemade cleaners save a fortune and work just as well. I have timber floorboards in my kitchen family area and over the years my husband has insisted on buying steam mops, electric brooms, and other gadgets but I keep coming back to a good quality cotton mop to wash the floors with. I haven't tried some of the cleaning solutions that you have posted so I will give them a whirl. After I do a big clean I like to look over the house with 'visitors eyes'to see if anything needs some extra attention like marks or scratches on skirting boards. So far as the garden is concerned, I have made it my mission to make sure that the greenwaste bin goes out full every fortnight. This is good because I will prune, weed and trim regularly which ultimately keeps the garden work manageable. Thanks for your inspiration. Love Janiebabe

  2. Hi Mimi, thankyou for this post! I love this idea. I use some of those homemade cleaners but hadn't known about others, so thankyou. Today I did a big cookup of sausage rolls and salmon quiches for the freezer. I loved reading how you go about your shopping and food prep - its an area I need to work on. Your strategues are fantastic because I can sometimes feel overwhelmed and as if I am in the kitchen and cleaning 24/7. I have been employing a "2 bucket a day strategy" to my garden which is full of weeds. I weed out 2 buckets full and walk away. Doing this every day for two weeks has made a big difference and I can see I'm getting there. Cheers, Clare

  3. Mimi thankyou so much for your recipes for spray. I always thought you had to use vodka so this is a refreshing change. I'm printing them off now for future reference. Have a great week!

  4. I have a jar of citrus peels steeping in vinegar on my counter right now. :) Every time any kind of citrus fruit is on sale, I pick up a bag and make a batch, and then I drain it into an old gallon vinegar jug and compost the peels. It's less expensive, no harsh chemicals, and I too enjoy making something out of what is basically trash. :)

    I like this post. Being ready to do housework is absolutely a mindset, and I've had to do a lot of work to regularly get myself there and turn myself into the kind of person who puts down the computer, walks away from her book/knitting, and does things like scrub the toilet or prep dinner. It's been a long process, but I'm much happier with how I'm able to focus on what needs to be done these days. I listen to a local radio station while I do all these things, which turns whatever I'm doing into a much more pleasant and interesting task! Whatever works, right? :)

    Thanks for such a lovely post!

  5. Dear Mimi, a great post. I have written down the home cleaning recipes, and will certainly give them a try. Am reading my way through your food preparation ideas. Thank you. Best wishes Lyn

  6. Thank you so much for these recipes. A few weeks ago I made your shower/tub cleaner. I've been having a difficult time keeping our subway tile clean surrounding the bathtub. Your cleaner works like a charm. I've been using it the last 3 weeks and I can't recommend it enough!! Plus, there are no smelly fumes:)



I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx