Crikey, all this free family fun is wearing me out! While I look forward to our daily runs, games and swims, it doesn't get the washing on and off the line or the vacuuming done. For days I've been telling myself that it doesn't matter, that family time is more important than housework and indeed it is, but it eventually it got to the stage where even I couldn't stand living in a perpetual pigsty any more. The final straw came when my in-laws popped in recently and my mum-in-law mentioned that a friend of hers saw that someone with the same name as me had placed an advertisement locally, offering cleaning and housework services. Mum-in-law described how she had burst out laughing when the woman asked her if it was me and I joined in merrily. 'I reckon! I don't have time to do my own housework, let alone someone elses!' I went on, stating indignantly how it always bugged me, the number of people who thought I did nothing, just because it never occurred to them that I worked from home. 'That was nice of your mum to stick up for me!' I smiled to Noel after they had gone. 'Er - I don't think that was what she meant dear', he laughed. 'I think what she actually meant in telling the lady there was no way on earth that it could be you was because she knows how bad you are at housework!' Well that burst my bubble I can tell you. 'I'm NOT bad at housework!' I pouted, 'I just don't get time to fit everything in!' Then and there I decided I would prove everyone wrong and devote the entire weekend to cleaning our two-storey house from top to bottom. Where had it all gone so wrong? In the past I have tried really hard to follow the same Flylady cleaning program used with such success by SS members and don't get me wrong, I think it's brilliant - I'm just rubbish at it, that's all. Giving your home a domestic 'blessing' once a week all sounds very idyllic, but what about for families like ours who desecrate theirs on a daily basis?
By this I don't just mean people, but the animals too. I wonder how many times Flylady's stepped out into her immaculate laundry to find rabbit poo left in a smeary trail across the floor and ending in a discarded pile of cotton-tailed fluff in the toilet? I suppose I should be grateful that the cats at least TRIED to drag the contents of their unwanted rabbit's bum into the most appropriate room, but believe me, removing dried on bunny-poo stains from pale pink vinyl floors is no easy task. And then there's the bird feathers - hundreds of them scattered across the laundry and bathroom at least several times a week, again by my intrepid feline hunters. No matter how I try to pick up every last one, there always seem to be just as many still lurking under the shelves, behind the washing machine and even floating in the toilet bowl. Add to that a patch of dog wee on the new carpet, a red wine stain on the ceiling (don't ask) and a round patch of luminous green 'slime' left helpfully under Ali's bed by a young visitor, not to mention all the other everyday spills, crumbs, dirt, dust and pawprints and I'm fighting a constantly losing battle. Of course, the ideal solution would be to banish the kids, animals and possibly even Noel forever to live alone in a neat and orderly home but being a rather unlikely outcome, not to mention rather boring and sad, I needed to come up with another plan to restore my home to a picture of domestic bliss. A plan for tackling REAL PEOPLE'S MESS. And, thanks to a recommendation I received from a Simple Savings member just in the nick of time, I found the answer! For others like me who are simply unable to function in a world of Control Journals, daily email reminders and new steps to add to the 'to-do' list, Realistic Living is a no-frills, easy to follow guide to clawing back control of your home, room by room. It's 100% free, no joining necessary and written in a humourous chatty style by an Australian who understands REAL MESS. Thanks to this smart and simple plan I was able to successfully tackle one room at a time - and I actually enjoyed it! The boys couldn't understand for the life of them why their mum was singing the Beach Boys 'Fun Fun Fun' at the top of her voice while enthusiastically cleaning the toilet. I finally tipped the rest of the Coke Zero bottle down there, which should hopefully now put an end to curious guests asking 'Er - do you know you've got a bottle of Coke in your toilet?' I most certainly do and it's been doing a marvellous job too! In the words of Kim and Aggie from 'How Clean is Your House', I found that the best cleaner for most other jobs this weekend was actually good old-fashioned hot soapy water - even when it came to removing the rabbit poo stains! I got rid of so much clutter I filled up an entire trailer and wondered why on earth I had never thought to get rid of the stuff before. At last, life felt so much simpler!
It took me the WHOLE weekend to complete my mission, but I finally got there. Just as well, as some friends turned up unexpectedly and ended up staying for dinner. They were suitably impressed at my sparkling clean, clutter-free home but were even more impressed when I took them out to the garden to pick dinner. Noel and Liam had been fishing that morning and brought home fresh snapper and mussels, which were cooked to perfection on the barbecue. We picked a huge potful of runner beans, half a dozen sweetcorn cobs and threw together a salad of handpicked tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and red onions and hardboiled eggs. Our guests were even given a guided tour of the worm farm in action after they asked why I was throwing all the scraps into a blender. I felt very Linda Cockburn-ish as we all sat enjoying our delicious meal - everything on the table had been homegrown or caught. Mind you, it was only by sheer luck that I wasn't serving up roast chicken. 'Big Girl', the boss of our chicken coop has gone clucky again. This happens more often than not and when it does, all the other hens go off lay as she won't let any of them near the nesting boxes. Noel's had enough - 'because of her, those chickens are costing us money, not saving it!' and vowed he would put an end to her cluckiness once and for all. As with the sheep, I'm not happy about it - 'Big Girl' is a bit of a character and I don't want her to meet an untimely end, but she is certainly having a negative effect on our free range egg production! Luckily the weather dawned perfect for a fish yesterday and she managed to escape another day as Noel and Liam went off hunting fish instead of fowl. Talking of sheep, we have now acquired two new ones - Hank and Stan - from the neighbours. I'm hoping against hope that these ones are smart enough to leave the fruit trees alone. We are also acquiring three more chickens from the neighbours as they have just moved house. I for one am delighted about this, as theirs actually do what chickens are supposed to do and lay eggs. I'm just hoping that being integrated with our hopeless lot isn't going to put the cobblers on their egg-laying abilities too!
Yes, Maxine and her family have moved on to pastures new, literally. I shall miss my Simple Savings partner in crime! In fact, I'm wondering if it's something I've said lately. There are only four houses down our road and in the three years we've been there every single one of the neighbours has moved, or is moving. Maybe we really are as barmy as we make out! I guess I will just have to keep up the savings effort by myself. I did end up making myself the perfect camera case as recently described after reading this hint. I managed to pick up a black canvas bag of perfect shape and size for just $2.95 in a discount store. I had still kept the box from when I bought my new camera and simply popped the inserts inside the bag, which of course moulded themselves to the camera perfectly. I'm so glad I read that hint first before contemplating a visit to the camera shop again! Ali is at home from school today - he's been sick all weekend with a nasty cough and cold, so have been searching the Vault and Forum for suitable recipes which will soothe his sore throat. I found just the recipe I wanted for Chicken Noodle Soup in the Forum and am going to have a go at making this week's Hint of the Week Home-made Yogo's for kids. That should make more than enough to keep the little chap happy for a while! One new hint I am definitely keen to try is one that I hope will cut down our huge cheese expenditure. While I don't eat meat, I do eat cheese like it's going out of fashion and have always bought it the exact same way as the contributor of 'Deli shaved cheese a cheaper option', but this way sounds far more sensible! I'm also going to aim to try one new 'older' hint from the Vault each week by browsing the categories. With a friend's birthday coming up soon, I've chosen this one from the Gift category 55 cent birthday gift. I would never normally have thought of this idea and gone out and bought something instead, but with four children and a new mortgage, I know she will appreciate this much more!
P.S: About the slime on the carpet - I'm not joking! You know that gooey slime stuff that comes in a pot for kids? One of the kids' friends managed to upturn the whole tub of it on the carpet and there is now a large fluoroescent green circle on my new carpet - boohoo! If anyone knows how to get rid of this impossible stuff, please email me!