housekeeping

Routine Makes it Easier 

countryside-15326_1920

 

So this one time my apartment got roaches.

There’s an interesting split on the Internet regarding bugs. Actual, scientifically driven or professional sites are basically like ‘sometimes bugs just happen. They come in on a box or up through your drains or on some dog food.’

…Unfortunately at least some bloggers imply that roaches mean you’re filthy. I won’t name names, because I don’t have them at this point, but nothing like adding shame to the mix.

Guess which one my anxiety disordered brain internalized.

However, both camps both stressed the same thing: roaches mean you have to have a pretty intense cleaning routine in place.

That apartment has been sprayed, rapidly is becoming ‘my old apartment’, and it’s been 11 days since the last roach sighting.

One of the odd things to come out of it is the realization that routine is pivotal for us mediocre housekeepers.

-Do a serious deep cleaning. Whether you’re just establishing habits or fighting pests, housekeeping will be easier if you’re not fighting backlogged grime. I actually hired someone to help me and it was money well spent.

-Make small changes and build on them. I started by sweeping and taking the garbage out daily, then worked up from there every few days. Don’t expect to go from nothing to everything overnight.

-Spend serious time looking at your schedule. Watch how your day flows and what is best accomplished when.

-Find the best tools for the job. Taking the garbage out at night is easier on me mentally with half sized bags.

-Try to keep the same order. It will start to feel familiar and almost like muscle memory.

-The more you do it, the faster it gets. The days you have to do heavy cleaning like floors will move slower but normal days will speed up.

-Buy supplies you like to use. It’s simple and obvious but if you’re not fighting your toolbox, you’re more willing to do the work.

-Work out a schedule for the big cleaning. I started out trying to bleach my cabinets daily. Unless there are many hands to help you, don’t try to do deep cleaning every day. Set up a monthly schedule.

-It’s okay to fall. Don’t sleep in the ditch. I don’t take out garbage when the skunks are out. I bought a garbage can with a lid. It gets bleached weekly. It’s okay if the bag has to wait overnight, but it has to go the next morning. It can’t just sit there, waiting. Life will happen. Let it.

-Sometimes stuff just happens. If roaches are a pure filth issue, then a chunk of New York City and multiple American Southern states are gross places. Life will do things like encounter pests, experience depressive episodes, or family deaths. Deal with it, calmly and quickly. I don’t mean to sound harsh, truly, but getting on top of the situation will be easier if you don’t blame yourself or panic. Figure out what habits need to be shifted and do it.

-Ask for help. Seriously. Ask someone to come in and help you get going, or teach you new ways of cleaning that might streamline the process. Turns out I’ve been doing my floors wrong and that’s why they’ve always looked terrible. Who knew.

Recommended Cleaning Supplies

And I do mean recommended. I’ve been asking for suggestions for this series of posts, and this is the question that got the most responses.

Not all of us are trained in the high art of cleaning. Or, again, we’re young enough to be just learning. Mix and match from this list to create a cleaning kit. The list runs from crunchy-green to conventional products.

Soaps

Dawn [I prefer the Platinum but a lot of people swear by the original blue]

All

Tide

Dr. Bronner’s [castile soap in general]

Oxyclean
Woods and Furniture 

Lemon Pledge

Olde English oil

Bona

Murphys oil soap
Solvents, Cleaners, and Fluids
Bleach

Ammonia

Scrubbing Bubbles

CLR

White vinegar 

Windex

Easy Off

Lemon juice 

Rubbing Alcohol 

Hydrogen Peroxide 

Zep

Clorox bleach scrubbies

Vodka [don’t downplay vodka. I use it everywhere in the house.]

The Basics toilet cleaner

Toothpaste  [for grout]
Tools

Brillo pads

Steel wool

Gloves

Squeegee

Magic erasers 

Bucket

Grout brush

Toothbrush

Toilet brush 

Kitchen cloth

1 roll paper towels

Mop

Broom

Microfiber wipes

Spray bottle

Scrub pads [look like sponges but feel like Brillo, often green]
Scrubs and abrasives 

Comet

Bon Ami

Bar Keep’s Friend

Baking soda
Brands

Myers 

7th generation 
Essential oils 

Tea tree 

Clove

Lavender 

Lemon

Orange 
Diy General Cleaner 

In a spray bottle, mix a splash of vinegar, water, a squirt of dish soap, and 5 drops orange or lemon oil.

Homestead Updates

I’m not going to call this the start of a new column because those always fizzle out on me if I say ‘hey guys I’m starting a new column’. So maybe I’ll write this one again some time soonish, or not. Maybe I’ll get the Haunted Western New York stuff going again-the 2,000 or so hits I’ve gotten on those tags this weekend make it look like people are interested (no, I’m not the one making the claim that there are ghost dogs in Rochester. Promise.) or the Sunday Legends stuff active again.

What Lit the Fires Again?

Facebook. And not the Horrific Knits page either. I’ve been heavily active in a network of secret women’s only spaces on Facebook and one of them turned out to be a homesteading page where we sit around and talk about the uses of dandelions and how to grow mushrooms. Me being me, I don’t need to be the center of anything, but I need to feel ~involved~ and it turned out that there’s a need to talk more/develop more projects for apartment spaces. Since I live in an actual apartment-apartment [as opposed to a duplex or floor of a house or other larger than what I’m talking about here space] I was like, well, okay. And it built up from there, when I decided to start addressing questions about homesteading for newbies and/or urbanites.

A Minor Piece of Housekeeping

I mentioned this on Facebook about a week ago and a grand total of 8 of you saw it so I’ll say it over here now: part of the reason that my ‘I promise to come back to blogging’ was delayed as long as it was, was a series of major-ish life shifts and that included a fairly major change to my work schedule. I now work a slightly unconventional Wednesday to Saturday 10 hour swing shift…so expect a sort of potential long term-temporary scheduling change here, with entries going up consistently between Sunday and Tuesday, with potential posts on the other days.

Projects

I haven’t touched fiber or canned in forever. Both are on the list for things to incorporate again as soon as possible. Small steps, darling readers, small steps. Right now I’m getting my patio garden going again and running some small, simple ferments.

I’m trying that tomato hack with an heirloom tomato from Top’s (is it weird that we can buy heirlooms in the grocery store? I’ve been told that it’s weird). I have no real news to report on that experiment, since it’s been a total of 2 days and the only issue I’ve had so far is that the ‘cracked’ crock pot that I was using for planter wasn’t as cracked as I thought it was and the tomatoes got flooded out. Twice. But they’re in a much better drained pot now.

I had a photo that made it obvious which meme I was talking about but it’s disappeared into nothingness. It’s the one where you slice the tomato and plant those to get them to sprout. We’ll see if this works. I also have some garlic in a grow bag.

tomato onion

I’m running some small ferments right now, I have jalapeños and some apple cider vinegar going in canning jars.

jalepenos

[This next section will include both not-delicate language and discussions of minority religious practices. This is your cue to leave if you don’t like either.]

Hedge

So we just had a sabbat and in an attempt to demystify part of my woo-woo-shadow-worker-I-have-no-idea-what-the-hell-she-means life I will tell you what Beltane was like this year. It was good, I want to stress that. I danced the May pole for the first time in several years (I’ve graciously decided to redefine fertility as abundance for myself in an attempt to make peace with that aspect of my religion. Because. no to babies. I have no idea where the hell I would put one, in the damn bathtub?). It was a nice pole, we had -a lot- of women. It was an insanely women heavy dance this year. That’s neither good nor bad, it was just an observation. It was cool and dark and damp all day.

We sat around talking about poop and bone broth. At several points during the day I remarked that this is how I can tell that I’m now an adult…my informal start to summer with the first public ritual I do all year was marked by grumpiness about teeth, bodily functions, and what a great idea it is to stock up on canned goods and meat when it’s on a 5 for $20 sales. I’ve crossed a line, folks, there’s no going back now.

And I realized I wear way too much jewelry to ritual. I’m bordering on a stereotype.

jewelry

Welcoming 2016, and Other Rambles

winter-5701_1920

This has been an interesting two week period, that ended a generally positive year.

I would love to tell you about how wonderful the holidays were-but if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, one of my writing ethics is the idea of actual reality, not the weird manufactured reality that bloggers put on to get hits for their media. You know the one, that nasty, shifty little reality that makes people think that Pinterest is actually what life looks like, no one burns dinner, and the holidays are awesome for people prettier than yourself.

So, as to not belabor a point, this year’s holidays sucked but we’re now into 2016.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about the word for 2016. Last year was the year of grounding, or center, or peace, it all gets to the same place. This year will be the year of Do-what’s holding me back, really, other than myself? So I’m exercising more (I love the pedometer apps for my phone), knitting more, generally doing more-with the exception of this last weekend and I can honestly tell the very negative difference.

Oh…and I’m getting married. Not, as in, tomorrow, but sooner rather than later.

So a lot of my interests and hopes for 2016 are fairly trivial, in the end-I want to both buy less makeup and buy more products that will actually make me happy, I want to actually have cosmetic skills I’m satisfied to talk about, I want to find more new content for here again, after a quiet 2015. But there’s big things in there as well-I’ve been brooding on why the current ‘New Warrior Goddess’ archetype that I keep seeing all over Facebook bothers me so much, there’s that whole ‘apparently I’m eloping?’ thing, and I really, really need to work on getting my finances back in order and move to a bigger, less drafty apartment.

We’ll see how this plays out.

Apple Spice Kitchen Simmer

apple-661694_1920

I’m slowly starting to do [seriously Memory Month was the best thing I’ve done for this blog yet] [spoiler: do is 2016’s Word of the Year. More on that later] again. It’s not a happy thing. It’s a fighting against the current thing, a I really don’t want to be doing this thing. But I know that it’s like exercise-I might hate it when I’m doing it, but eventually I’ll be glad that I did.

Speaking of which, I took myself on a wander yesterday, which is why I finally got around to trying a kitchen simmer. I got in the habit of taking myself out on dates when I was going to SUNY Oswego. The idea was that I am an introverted, impatient thing, and if no one was going to take me, I would take myself. I haven’t done it in years but there has been oddities in trying to plan Thanksgiving this year and it sent me into a minor tailspin. I went and got myself a new lipstick, took myself on a lunch date, and wandered through Kenmore enjoying the cold. There’s about three days a fall where I like the cold and then I remember it’s Buffalo and it’s going to be cold for six months…

I came home and made a pie. Which left me with cores (and a recipe to go up later this week). And led to finally trying a kitchen simmer. My building is decently old, and even when it’s freshly cleaned it smells a little musty from the basement. It gets worse in the winter. I want my home to smell good, but Mid can’t handle candles.

This is a very simple project, and it will appeal to the idea of using as much as you can for as long as you can. You can simmer it for a couple of days, adding more water as you go. You’re not eating it so letting it sit overnight isn’t an issue but that’s about as far as I would let it go.

Apple Spice Kitchen Simmer

To a medium sauce pot, add either several apple cores and peels, or two chopped apples, cinnamon sticks, and a good sized dash of pumpkin spice. Let simmer slowly.

You can add cranberries, oranges, or vanilla for variety.

Summer of Ghosts

summer of ghosts

This is going to stand in for my normal mid July housekeeping post. We’re less than a week off of my festival run, where my ability to update will depend on the strength of my signal and if it occurs to me to do so. So next week may be silent, or almost silent, or at least infrequent.

I’m not doing Ghost Month or Retro Month this year. Instead I’m going to be working with ghosts and hauntings all summer, at least until the end of next month. I’m hoping to get a heavy dose of vintage/retro stuff in there. It’s not going to be all horror, all the time-don’t worry about that. But that will be the concentration for awhile. It’s actually easier for me to do longer themes than it is to try to get material together for a single month.

This theme will also overlap with Operation Autumn (more information to come), so it’ll be fun to springboard off of one into the other!

Top Sources of Traffic, 2014

Unsplash

Unsplash

Trying to juggle everything I want to write about is sometimes difficult.

I want to write about knitting, about spinning, about websites I find, whatever the current monthly theme is. I have a post about eye shadow that I’ve been sitting on for six months.

Sometimes I write entries that are intended on being series-whether or not the series actually ends up going anywhere may be a different issue.

Sometimes entries are place holders, or ways of holding onto information for myself.

This is one of those posts. I normally dislike traffic posts because there’s normally a concrete number involved, and frankly, while I seem to have a delicate blogging ego anyway, I come away feeling vaguely disgruntled and jealous.

However, I am interested in seeing where my traffic comes from, which is ultimately helpful for knowing where to put my energies in 2015.

So, here are my top traffic sources for 2014. I’m only listing sources above a certain threshold, and trust me, the first well out strips the last in terms of number of hits.

1. StumbleUpon-StumbleUpon’s effect on my stats this year was actually heavy enough it earned its own post earlier this year.

2. Search Engines-This was actually my biggest surprise this year. I was expecting this to be a lot lower.

3. Pinterest-This was another surprise, I also thought it would be a lot lower. It is, however, a lot lower than what ‘experts’ in blogging will tell you that you’re definitely going to get. If anything, StumbleUpon and Pinterest should be reversed if the ‘experts’ were right.

4. Facebook

5. The Prairie Homestead (blog)-This site used to host a homesteading blog hop that I liked to link up to. Unfortunately, she has since stopped hosting it and I’ve never been able to track down the current hosts to see if it’s even still up. It might be and I’m just hitting it at the wrong times, I’m not sure.

6. Little House in the Suburbs (blog)-Another blog hop

7. Frugally Sustainable (blog)-Another homesteading hop

8. New Life on a Homestead (blog)– Co-host with one of the hops already listed

9. Being Frugal by Choice-(blog) Homesteading hop

10. Reddit-This might have been the biggest surprise of all of them, if we take StumbleUpon’s effects out of the equation. I personally don’t add any material to the site itself. Maybe I should try a blogging board over there.

So the big take aways from this for me are:

-Center on homesteading blog hops. I mentioned this earlier this year on my how-to on blog hopping, but it turns out that I really get little to no traffic on ‘mainstream’ or ‘mommy’ blog hops. So if I’m really short on time or patience, I should put my energy there first. Because ‘mainstream’ hops didn’t even come close to hitting this list, and while all hits are good hits, sometimes you really do need to prioritize.

-Keep on with the StumbleUpon. A very, very rough estimate of the average number of hits I get from StumbleUpon a day is in the 200-250 range. And that’s an average; an outlier day might be closer to two thousand. It’s happened, and for a blog my size, that’s sort of a big deal.

-Pinterest is helping me, sort of, but it’s probably never going to be the huge traffic driver that it’s made out to be. And that’s not just for my own content; I’ve noticed since the algorithm was restructured even pins with much better photos than mine are not getting any traffic. Unless it’s a woman in a top hat, and then that pin will get so many repins a day I’m tempted to delete it just so I don’t have to keep seeing her face in my notifications.