Tag Archives: House Work

DIY Dishwasher Detergent & Rinse Aid

Since my homemade laundry detergent has been successful I have branched out into making my own dishwasher detergent and rinse aid. I have a little bit of shop bought powder left then I will run a trial of the homemade batch.

Watch this space for an update next week 🙂

The “Rinse Aid” is simply white vinegar with some lemon essential oil mixed in and the Dishwasher Detergent is a 50/50 mix of Bicarbonate of Soda and Borax Substitute.




Month of Organising – Getting Started


Organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up

A.A. Milne 

I have decided that February is the month in which I am going to have an organising blitz, my husband is already taking refuge! I do find life easier when I can find things and everything is “sorted”. A little effort now should free up my time giving me more time to play and do fun things with the little ones.



Since we had a dry day yesterday I took our son out on his scooter, there’s a cycle path close to the house and the railway line runs alongside it, he loves trains so its a winning combination!





How am I going to plan?

Time (and energy) can be in short supply so my idea is to spend anything from 15 minutes to an hour each day “sorting” something out. That way it’s not taking up too much of my day and I won’t dread doing it.

This weeks achievements

Our spare bedroom is a bit chaotic, it’s the dumping ground for all sorts of stuff and its the room that we put of doing anything about, I guess that we all have one of those places!  There’s no bed so it is mainly used for books, filing cabinets, the ironing pile, sewing machine and that kind of thing. I spent an hour on Wednesday filing paperwork and tidying the bookcases and it already looks better. I will try to spend another hour next Wednesday doing some more.









I have also been refilling my cleaning and laundry supplies this week. A couple of weeks ago I found some large labels for 29p a pack and have been using these to label the jars that I keep my supplies in. I had previously just written on the jars in pen but this was prone to rubbing off so I’m much happier with this now. As each jar needs refiled I will add a label.









We were given several calendars at Christmas, one is in the kitchen with all of the family info on it and I have used the other to make a note of the renewal dates for household and car insurance policies and contracts. If I was being super efficient I could add reminders to submit meter readings and other things…..hmmm maybe next week!







The final bit of organising I have done this week was I have made some “bread mixes”, I was making bread and weighed out most of the dry ingredients into tubs so the next time I make bread I only have to add yeast and wet/fresh ingredients.














I have a few ideas about what I would like to do next week, hopefully I can make some more progress. When I am busy at home I’m not shopping or spending 🙂

Our Weekly Housework Schedule

Housekeeping is like being caught in a revolving door. —Marcelene Cox

Housework, nobody likes it but its got to be done. I try really hard to keep onto of it and am beginning to realise that a little regular effort goes a long way. We have some tasks that are done every day and others that are done on a weekly basis.

Some days I just didn’t know where to start or I got rather fed up of trying to remember which tasks I still had to do. I made myself a schedule, boring I know but it means that I now have a list of what needs to be done each day.

Please do not think that I spend all day cleaning, far from it! I like to spend as much time as I can with my family during the day so most of the list is completed when our son is at nursery in the morning or when our children are in bed. Our house is certainly lived in and is by no means pristine!

I should also point out that these tasks are in addition to the housework that we feel needs to be done each day such as wiping work tops, sweeping the floors, loading / unloading the dishwasher etc.

Heres a screen shot of my list, Ive linked to the attachment so you can download and amend as you wish 🙂 Hopefully it works! Please let me know if you decide to use my template and how it works for you.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.31.41PWM Cleaning Schedule







13th February 2014: Updated laundry days to Monday and Thursday to ensure that the machine is as full as possible.

I love finding things I forgot I had!

I found this blackboard in the loft and it’s great for writing down some of the jobs I need to get done. I was going to buy a white board but this saves us a few pounds


Our 2014 Budget

A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Dave Ramsey

We have sat down this morning and decided on our weekly / monthly budget for 2014. We have 2 adults and 2 young children (3 years and 10 months) so the budget allows us enough room to buy fresh local fruit, veg and meat in addition to our weekly milk delivery. We typically overspend on “other” meaning lunches out, treats etc so this year we are having a focused effort to rein it in.

Heres the breakdown:

Milk – £5 per week

Fruit & Veg – £10 per week

Meat and Fish – £20 per week – this is probably too high but we can adjust down after a few weeks

Other food and household – £30 to include snacks for children that can’t be made at home and baby milk until our daughter is 1

Eating out, soft play, treats – £20

Total Weekly Budget: £ 80 or £4160 per year

Of course we would love to live on less but we feel that this is an achievable budget for our family. The other food and household budget will reduce once our daughter turns one and we no longer have to buy baby milk. Im continuing to make my own laundry detergent and as many household cleaners as I can to reduce the amount of “nasties” we use but also to help our budget.  Our meal planning will also continue 🙂

Winter Ready and Energy Saving

The year that our son was born (2010) saw some of the worst snow we’ve had here in a long time. Since then we have gradually started to make more preparations for winter and for the first time this year we are looking to reduce our energy consumption without being cold. Here are some of the things that we are doing.


Food – We’ve made sure that we have some extra items in the freezer such as bread, fish fingers etc so that if we can’t get out then we have enough food (but not too much!) should we be unable to get out to the shops. We have also bought some cartons of long life milk.

Outdoor – Theres an extra bag of chicken food in the shed, our supplier is at the top of a very long and bumpy road so when its icy it’s just not possible to get there. We also have a snow shovel and a supply of grit / salt so we can keep our path and the bit of road directly behind our drive clear.

Car – The kids each have a warm blanket in the car as well as extra hats and gloves. Theres a small snow shovel, ice scraper and de-icer as well as an extra blanket.


Windows and Doors

We have added extra insulation to as many of the windows and doors as possible, draught excluders are plentiful! I made a draught excluder a few weeks ago, its pretty basic but effective.

Draught Excluder

Windows have blinds up and the living rooms and bedrooms all have lined curtains too, we have made sure that the curtains don’t cover the radiators. We try to have the blinds open whenever possible during the day to  let natural lights and warmth in. We close the blinds as soon as it starts to get dark, this way we conserve as much heat as possible. I’ve also put a curtain up at my back door as it has a fair bit of glass and is draughty! We are in the process of putting foil behind the radiators, downstairs is done and upstairs will be done in the new year.

Kids Curtains

Curtain at back door

Heating and Hot Water

The heating thermostat sits at 18 degrees (16 if it’s not too chilly) 20 is usually the maximum, our downstairs is open plan so we lost a lot of heat upstairs as the stairs are in the living room. Our heating is on all the time but we control it by the thermostat, most of the radiators in the house have individual thermostats so each has been adjusted accordingly. Set to low in rooms not used much or that don’t need heated. Our children are aged 3 years and 8.5 months so we are not comfortable having the house much cooler. In addition we have bled all of the radiators.

The hot water is set to come on for a certain amount of time each day, this gives us enough water for a shower for each of the adults, any cleaning and a bath each evening for the children.


We are trying to only have 1 or 2 lights on where possible especially in the evening when the kids are in bed, keeping doors closed is something I’m trying to teach my other half! We are in the process of switching our lightbulbs to LEDs. So far we have changed the most used lights downstairs and I’m impressed at the brightness however it is costly and therefore slow process. Hopefully it will be worth it!

General Electricity

We use a lot of common sense like making sure chargers are switched off and unplugged when not in use, nothing plugged into extension cables that’s not being used and everything downstairs except the heating and fridge freezer is turned off at night. All of our appliances are A or A+ rated with the exception of the tumble dryer which is B rated.

We have also shopped around and got ourselves onto the best energy deal that we can. According to our energy provider we use less than the “standard amount and we run a very energy-efficient household” but I feel that we can do more.

We did invest in an energy monitor recently and it is proving to be an interesting and useful addition to the household. I plan to do a separate blog post about this later.

photo 2

I will only know if we have successfully reduced our energy consumption by comparing this years usage to last year so it feels like a long time to wait! Im interested to hear if anyone else has any suggestions?

Home Made Laundry Powder Trial

As part of our goal to reduce our waste and consumption I’ve decided to make my own laundry “powder”. There are many “recipes” available for laundry gloop and a dry alternative which I’m calling “powder”. I  chose not to make gloop as it’s a longer process and I don’t have a big enough pan that I’m willing to sacrifice for this purpose!

When our daughter came out in a rash I actually took the time to read the ingredients on the detergent bottle and quite frankly I was amazed at the number and names of the listed ingredients. I was also surprised that some do not list specific quantities i.e “xyz 5-15%”.  Its our personal choice to try making our own detergent and work out if it’s any different to the normal shop bought detergent.

The basic mixture I made has 3 main ingredients, I referred to my book on green cleaning for this (link below). The ingredients are Borax Substitute, Soap Flakes and Soda Crystals, at this stage I have not added any essential oil as I would like to try out the basic version first. I do occasionally add a couple of drops of essential oil into the machine drawer though, this is instead of fabric softener.


All I had to do was put on some rubber gloves, mix the ingredients together then store in a suitable container. I read that 1 tablespoon of mix is enough for a lightly soiled load and 2 tablespoons for a heavily soiled load.

I did a test today on a 30 degree cycle (lightly soiled load), the clothes look clean and smell clean. There was little to no suds in the machine which is apparently normal but it will take some getting used too. It will be interesting to try it on a heavily soiled load and for whites….updates to follow on this.

finished detergent

In terms of  the basic cost of ingredients, it works out at about £1.01 for 50 tablespoons of detergent (yes I did measure it all out!). Best case 50 washes works out at £0.02 per wash and worst case 25 washes works out at £0.04 per wash. There is also the delivery cost to consider when ordering products online, I order my products in bulk so in this case it would be less than 50p to be added.

Does or has anyone else made their own laundry detergent?


Site where I buy my products: 

Freezing Vegetables to Prevent Waste

We have been buying a fruit and vegetable box from the local greengrocer (recently discovered) and last week I had one lonely turnip left. Rather than let it go to waste I peeled and chopped it, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes then I immediately put it into iced cold water. Finally I dried it with kitchen paper and put it in a freezer bag. I will use it in stew, soup or simply cook for 6-8 minutes with a little butter added. A year ago this would have been put in the bin!

Here are some pictures of the process.


You can freeze loads of vegetables in this way including broccoli (best packed in rigid containers so its not damaged), cauliflower florets, butternut squash. These are usually able to be stored for 12 months.

Im finding that having some vegetables prepared and stored in the freezer makes life much easier when it comes to making soups and stews, all i need to do is put them into the pan, no peeling or chopping required.

I was also given a whole load of cooking apples, these have been peeled and stewed, I’ve made some into individual sized apple crumbles which I have frozen with the crumble uncooked. All I need to do is take them out of the freezer and cook them. I’ve stored the rest of the stewed apple in plastic boxes in the freezer.

Anyone for a Hot Drink?

After watching a TV program recently about households looking to reduce their energy consumption I got some ideas that I want to try.

As I went to fill the kettle this morning (never to the fill line) I tipped the water back out into a jug. I then used my mug and the babies cup and measured out exactly what I needed for my cup of tea and her cooled boiled water.  The pictures are below, the first showing the first amount and the other picture showing the actual amount.



This isn’t an exact science and the amount of water I normally put into the kettle each time will vary. However it does show me that I should pay more attention as I am most likely using a lot more electricity per boil than I need. I would definitely recommend giving this a try.

Pennywise Cleaning Cloths

Since we are trying to reduce our waste and consumption I decided to try and “recycle” an old cotton bed sheet into some cloths that we can use for polishing the car and other jobs around the house and garden.

The sheet!


I cut it up really roughly, Im not needing the cloths to be an exact size or shape!


I then ran round the edges with the sewing machine to stop the edges fraying.

Some of the finished cloths


I got around 20 cloths out of 1 single bed sheet that had been lying around in the garage! These will be put to good use 🙂