Brr, it's freezing! The wind is buffeting the house and the lake is a dark murky brown dotted with white caps. The clothes horses have been dusted off and I've even had to run to the wardrobe and dig out my woolly cardie! The boys are both home from school with colds and tucked up with blankets on the couch while they see which one can out-cough the other. Yes, it's that time of year already! The good thing about the change in seasons is that I suddenly feel all domesticated. The crockpot comes out, we all live on stews and 'hearty' tucker and for some strange reason I am overcome with the urge to clean. For the first time in quite a long while I actually feel organised! Quite a bit of that is thanks to a new hint I read in the Vault the other day. Seeing as I can't buy Flylady's 'Sink Reflections' until No Spend Month is over, I figured this was just what I needed. It's called 'Enjoy a tidier home while you save'. This clever lady had had enough of living in a mess and decided she would set herself some housework rules before she was allowed to set foot out of the house. So I started doing the same and it really works! I no longer allow myself out of the house until the dishes are all done, the benchtops are cleared and wiped and the washing is done and hung out. I no longer come home to a house that looks like a bombsite and thanks to my wonderful new powers of organisation I have even found a way to organise my ironing. Instead of opening the linen cupboard to be faced with a backlog of ironing stacked up taller than me, I now take my washing off the line and immediately iron any garments which need it and put them away. It only takes me a few minutes and is far preferable to spending two or three hours every other weekend standing over an ironing board because I can't fit any more in the cupboard and we've all run out of clothes. I just wish I had thought of it years ago! Combined with resurrecting the nightly sink shining ritual from Flylady, I'm living in a happy state of domestic bliss at the moment. Long may it last!
It's much easier to remember to shine my sink now we're using it a lot more. Noel thought I was crazy when I told him I definitely did not want a new dishwasher. He thought I would soon get sick of doing dishes but it's been weeks now and I really don't mind at all. Especially now I've finally found a dishwashing liquid which doesn't give me dermatitis. The humble yellow Home Brand is perfect for my sensitive skin, who would have guessed! I keep hinting heavily to Noel how much more storage space we would have in the kitchen were that big, white noisy contraption removed from under the bench. He still raises an eyebrow at me when I talk about it but I'm confident I'll get my own way in the end!
Just as I got my own way when getting him allergy tested recently. It's only taken two years but you can't rush these things with men! When Liam was found to have coeliac's disease I encouraged Noel to also go and get tested for food allergies as he has suffered from eczema ever since I have known him. 'No, no', he insisted. 'I've had it all my life and nothing's worked except those steroid creams from the doctor'. Which obviously don't work really then, otherwise it wouldn't keep coming back! So I gave up and watched his eczema get worse and worse until we met Alex. At 16 he was so self-conscious and miserable about his eczema he wouldn't even take his shirt off to go swimming and could hardly sleep at night from the constant itching. The poor fella was desperate and said he would do anything to get rid of it so when we stumbled across a hair analysis test while asking for advice in a health shop, he decided to give it a go. The test would take around four weeks and involved simply snipping a lock of hair from the back of the head, as close to the scalp as possible. This was then sent away for intensive analysis - the same rigorous testing as is done with forensic evidence in a crime. The results came back and showed Alex was intolerant to dairy products, as well as orange juice, tomatoes, chocolate and all sorts of other things including aspartame. From then on he took the changes in his diet seriously and cut out as much of the 'bad guys' as he possibly could. It took a few weeks but the difference was beyond belief, his skin cleared up completely and overall he looked so much healthier.
The proof was in the pudding, while Noel's eczema continued to get worse so he finally agreed to go for a test. The results came back yesterday and showed he is severely intolerant to all dairy products, eggs and mushrooms of all things! He is also moderately intolerant to coffee, green beans and cashew nuts (which he loves unfortunately, they're his favourite treat). So we are now a wheat AND dairy-free household! Having 'been there, done that' with the wheat thing I'm not too worried, especially as I know there is heaps of advice and support in the Vault and on the Forum. It will save us heaps of money on cheese and yoghurt too, as we all eat tons of the stuff! The test also showed intolerances to chemical cleaners, which I have no problem with as there are so many great natural cleaning recipes on Simple Savings. Like some other members, I also swayed between using vinegar and chemical cleaners. I would use my vinegar 'spray and wipe' for a while, then have enough of it and buy an expensive chemical kitchen or bathroom spray, thinking things really could do with a good 'going over'. Daft I know, as I would always end up going back to the vinegar! Still, Noel's test results were very timely as only yesterday I purchased two new plastic spray bottles so I could make up some more household cleaners to suit my newly super-organised domestic routine. Now I have no excuse, I HAVE to go chemical free!
Ooh, almost forgot to share my No Spend news! After last week's combination of No Spend and $21 Challenge, I have paid an impressive $620 off my credit card! $120 of this was left over in my household account as a result of my frugal week so I was really happy about that and decided to transfer it straight away onto my credit card debt. However when I looked at the bank balance I thought 'No Penny, you can do better than that this month!' So I transferred over another $500 too! Which I was very glad about when I realised I had racked up a horrible $50 in interest just for that month alone. Doh! Why do I always learn things the hard way?
Fortunately there are some great new tips in the Vault to keep my No Spend mojo on track. I used some leftover veges (including zucchini which are coming out of our ears at the moment) to make a 'Fake Lasagne' the same day I read it and everyone really enjoyed it. As well as getting organised around the house, I'm also organising my tips! There are so many clever members who contribute so many wonderful tips that sometimes it's impossible to remember them all and I end up starting something but not keeping it up. So I'm making myself a favourite tips folder! When I see a tip I really like, I copy and paste it into a Word document. Once I have a full page, I print it off and pop it into a clear display folder, just like my recipe folder of yummy recipes I have gleaned over the years. Actually since joining SS I have three or four recipe folders! I'm confident that with the help of my new folder I won't forget things any more - like the recipe for this 'Home mixed household cleaner'. It sounds incredible, I can't wait to try it out! The only thing that bugs me is how I have missed it all these years. Thanks to the new organised me, I won't any more!
PS - If I go a little quiet over the next week or two, it's because I've got a lot of running to do! Noel, Alex and me have entered in the Auckland Half Iron Man on March 28th. Time's a ticking and I'm way behind in my training. I need to do less cleaning and more running for a few days!