Homemade Grout Cleaner

– johanna | June 1st, 2012


Photo Source: Property of Flooring Liquidators

Grout can become dingy pretty fast. It is important to seal grout, with a penetrating sealer, to help keep bacteria and grime out of the pores. Sealing the grout also helps to make it waterproof. Grout sealer stops the water from seeping through the pores of the grout and underneath the tile. To keep tile and grout looking it’s best here are several homemade cleaners that are affordable and actually work.

For Basic Cleaning:

Combine equal parts table salt, baking soda and white vinegar into a bowl. Mix to form a paste. Use a sponge to scrub the mixture into the grout. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe the grout clean with a damp rag.

Mold and Mildew:

For Colored Grout: Dampen a rag with white vinegar and scrub. Let sit for a few minutes. Wash grout with soapy water and rinse.

For Light Colored Grout: 1:1 ratio of bleach or use Hydrogen Peroxide. Spray the peroxide onto the grout. Let it sit for five minutes, then wipe the grout clean with a wet rag.

Hard Core Grout Cleaner for Floors and Bathrooms:

Combine 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup household ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 7 cups warm water. Scrub grout with mixture using a toothbrush or grout brush.

If this does not work, use Ajax Oxygen Bleach Cleaner Heavy Duty Formula. (This is the magic ingredient in the Magic Eraser.) Sprinkle Ajax on the grout. Use water to work up a lather. Let sit for 30 minutes. Wipe up cleaner. Mop the floor to remove any leftover residue.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

| No Comments »

Recycled Trash Into Treasures

– johanna | November 16th, 2010


If you are still not sure what to gift this upcoming holiday season take a look at all the things you can make from recycling items you may already have at home.

CraftGossip.com and CraftBits.com is home to some really great quick last minutes gift giving ideas.

Plastic Bottle Fairy Houses

Cardboard Doll House

Foam Board Dollhouse

Fabric Dollhouse

Tube Bracelets

Pillowcase Tote Bag

Baby Sock Advent Calendar

Towel Kittens

Fabric Garland

Recycled Can Ornaments

Necktie Purse

Cardboard Coasters

22 Uses for CDs: CD Lamp

Paper Bag Art Journal

Placemat Scrapbook

Plastic bottle Wire

Magnet Bottlecaps

Vertical Hanging Herb Garden

Bowl Lampshades

Cardboard Butterfly Observatory

Technorati Tags: , , ,

| No Comments »

Family Togetherness: Sunday Family Counsel

– johanna | October 19th, 2010


Photo: property of Lily Jane Stationery

With the start of school also means the addition of all the extra curricular activities. Household schedules can become pretty hectic. Sunday Family Counsel is a way to meet up with the rest of the family to plan the week and work out any conflicting schedules.  In our home we meet together on Sunday night to go over the calendar and finances. We plan the weekly menu inviting suggestions from the gang. We also discuss any needs and reasonable wants. We can plan time for completing both home and school projects, schedule outings and even chores.

Family Counsel encourages communication, teaches leadership, time management and financial responsibility.  Create a suggestion box or a dedicated notepad to jot down notes and ideas throughout the week to be discussed. Be sure to come prepared with the necessary documents and calendars. Follow an itinerary to keep things moving and to insure you do not forget anything. Jazz up the meeting by serving dessert or offering a chance to win a door prize.

Technorati Tags: , ,

| No Comments »

October Resolution: Face the Lion- Accomplish a Difficult Task

– johanna | October 12th, 2010


Photo: “Dandelions” by Kitchen Table Medicine,

Source: Courtesy Photo Bucket

I am a horrible test taker. To this day I get sweaty palms and start to second guess myself. I learned in college that the answers to the tests were not straight out of the book as the teacher would profess but their own version of the answer. I am a hands on kinetic learner. I knew back then it was difficult for me to process information spouted out at me from the chalk board. So I always chose to sit in the front row and took almost word for word notes. At home I would faithfully read the text book and dutifully did my homework. I could explain the where and why verbally but once I sat down with a scantron in from of me the lights went out.

I was venting to a friend of mine I worked with one day. She was older than I was but from the first time we met we became fast friends. It was like we were soul sisters. We must have known each other in a previous life. She gave me the best advice. With a big smile on her face she told me, “You have to face the lion before it can become a dandelion.” The following Monday I marched into my professor’s office to see if he could help me figure out what I was doing wrong. I was really scared of the man. Talking to him was a difficult thing for me but I faced the lion and he actually was nice. He encouraged me to take notes then write an essay on the pages I read. An assignment I gladly took on in hopes of scoring higher than a C.

With the final exam approaching fast, I geared myself up. I sat in my usual front seat, took detailed notes (he actually gave us the test questions and answers), then went home and studied. I read the book, took notes and wrote and essay. I memorized the test questions and answers he gave us in class. A funny thing happened on test day. I was perplexed as to how I should answer several of his questions. For you see, there were two correct answers. One, I was certain I had read in the book; however, there was another answer straight from the professors list of questions and answers. I went with the professor’s answers and received my first A. Hallelujah!

My quest to chase the lion was not yet over. I felt cheated. I thought what if every test I took that semester I actually scored higher. According to the book I was right. I was not about to let some arrogant professor fail me. So once again I marched into his office and explained to him my discovery. He was not happy to be told that he was wrong. The following week when the grades were posted I got an A in the class. “Once you face the lion, it will become a dandelion.”

I use the same mantra with my children everyday. The little guys can become frustrated with everyday tasks that we take for granted. Simple actions such as putting on a shirt can drive them into a tantrum. I do not accept can’t in my house. Yoda tells us, “there is only do or do not, there is no try”. If you cannot do it you can ask for help. Accepting defeat and whining about it is not an option. There will be many things we cannot do in life. As long as we can stand there and honestly say that we did our absolute best then we have nothing to whine over. If we never made the attempt, however; how will we know that the lion starring back at us is nothing but a dandelion?

This month’s resolution is to accomplish a difficult task. Think of things in your life that seem overwhelming or that you would like to change. Think of things you have been wanting to do but have not felt up to the task. Seek out help to overcome this burden or research ways to master the problem.

–If you are shy that could mean breaking out of your shell a little.
–Write down your biggest fears and come up with ways to overcome them. Make it your new goal for the New Year.
–Accomplish a task that you have been afraid to do or keep procrastinating.
–Learn that new hobby or trade.
–Take a risk as long as it does not hurt anyone or result in negative consequences.
–Learn to live within a budget to get out of debt.
Host a dinner party.
–Simplify your life and home.
–Reconnect severed ties with family.
–Stand up to peer-pressure. If you do not feel good about something stop participating.
–Break off unhealthy relationships.
–Go back to school.
–Stand up to a bully.
–Be positive.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

| No Comments »

October Website Review: On Being Frugal

– johanna | October 5th, 2010


This month’s website review covers several websites. I am sure there are thousands of fabulous sites that offer the latest in coupons and deals. These are just a few of my favorites from this year. I use them all. It takes me about an hour to write up my weekly dinner menu and comb the coupon sites, grocery store site and local advertisements for deals.

If you are new to clipping coupons, just curious or even a veteran this story “If I Didn’t See It With My Own Eyes” by Jaye Watson, will take you on a step by step journey on how to get the most for your buck.

The following websites offer coupons, giveaways as well as tips on the trade.

My Frugal Adventures


Money Saving Mom

Coupon Cooking

Hip 2 Save

Coupon Cravings

True Couponing

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

| 1 Comment »

Raising A Leader

– johanna | January 4th, 2010


Washing dishes

To become a successful leader kids need to learn responsibility somewhere. That begins in the home when they are young by building their confidence through applauding small achievements. Some may have negative feelings toward chores because of the way they were brought up. I know I often felt like I was a slave rather than a kid but as I matured and gained insight I realized the responsibilities thrown at me as a kid has taught me how to be self-reliant as an adult.

Chores can be a positive and constructive way to build confidence and teach leadership through responsibility. Boys especially need chores. We are no longer a society that sends our boys out to work in the field all day. They relish the satisfaction of a job done well. Boys love to solve problems. They also need structure and to be held accountable. Give them a task and help them learn how to go about completing that task by giving them clear concise directions but with a little leeway for creativity and a consequence to hold them to it and they will radiate confidence.

Chores are also a way to teach our children how to one day care for their own homestead; moreover, chores teach them to respect property and accountability. Boys should learn to cook, clean, do dishes and mend clothing just like girls should know how to care for their car, take out the trash, repairs and mow the law.

Know What Is Expected- Be Consistent.

I think we can agree that chores are not on our kids list of top priorities. Whenever my mom would ask my brother to clean up his reply was always “I am eating.” Somehow he was absolved without any further discussion. My daughter though she is three takes after he Uncle Todd. When asked to clean up she will lie down and feign she is oh so tired.

If you implement a system you have to be ready and willing to be consistent because they will fight you on it. They will push the boundaries a little to see how tough you are. Lay out the rules so they know what is expected of them and hold them to it. We are a team and we work together to keep the home functioning.

– Use a chore chart to help them keep track of the chores they are responsible for. There are a myriad of charts out there. Behavioral charts use motivational cues such as rewards. Chore charts can be a spinning wheel to cards. Just search Chore Charts in Google Images to find something that fits your family.

Set a time frame. Something like all their chores must be done before school or by dinnertime. For younger children the consequence might be if you have to pick up their toys you get to keep them. The next day when they ask to play with them you calmly remind them why they are put away and that they may have them tomorrow or they must earn them back. For teens you might take away a privilege. They can’t go out with their friends, play video games or watch TV.

A timer works well to keep them on task. If they insist they are too tired or hungry to do their chore set the timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off they must complete the chore or there are consequences.

Play to the age group.

Create the habit of cleaning up by introducing the concept of chores at an early age. Kids can learn at one year of age how to pick up their toys and throw away their diaper. The little ones love to imitate mom and dad hard at work. Let them contribute in their own way even though you will have to go back later to “fix” the job. Little ones can help vacuum, sweep, wash dishes and help make the bed. As they grow look for tasks they are good at and those that will help improve developmental milestones.

Since our kids are young their chores are pretty simple. I help the two year old clean the loft, the three year old has to keep the downstairs free of toys and clothing (since she is the one who usually puts them there) and the five year old chooses a task to complete each day. It could be emptying the laundry baskets or shredding papers. They are also responsible for cleaning their own room as well as helping set and clear the table. It was interesting to note one day when our five year old left something downstairs and the three year old got onto him about it. She was showing accountability for her area.

Make a list then have them choose the one they would like to be responsible for. I mentioned that the two younger children have specific household chore they are responsible for overseeing each day while the oldest may choose. When dealing out chores the first criteria to take into consideration should be age and the second the child. Our oldest is five and a highly creative kinetic learner. We know that he performs best when given the leeway to do it his way. Our daughter does not like change. She prefers to know what is expected of her in advance.

Make chores fun.

Play to a child is their job. Some days it is a struggle to get the kids to finish their chores. Other days they beg me to let them help me with mine.

– The kitchen floor becomes a skating rink. Wrap wet rags around their feet and let them skate to mop the floor.

– The sink becomes a car wash. Little ones love to play in the suds. They may start out playing with their cars and end up washing dishes, the chairs, the cabinets and even you.

– Play a game under the blanket to make the bed. The kids can pretend they are in a cave. Spread the bedding out over them smoothing the edges to make the bed. Reaching in from the bottom of the bed grab their feet and pull them toward you and off the end of the bed. Then attack them with tickles and kisses. move on to the next bed.

As a mom I understand the biggest hurtle is time. School and extra-curricular activities do not leave much time for quality family time or responsibilities at home. Your plan and how it is carried out depends on your family dynamics and the specific chores. After a six hour day at school the last thing I want to ask of my child when he gets home from school is to complete his chore, especially if he has homework and sports practice. We have tried early morning chores before school. Before bed time did not work either. We have small children who go to bed early to ensure they get the maximum sleep needed. In the mornings it is a race to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door. We have found right before dinner works best in our home, if weekdays are too hectic schedule chores on the weekends.

Technorati Tags: , ,

| No Comments »

May Website Review: Inhabitots.com

– johanna | May 1st, 2009


Jill Fehrenbacher is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Inhabitat.com; a weblog devoted to tracking sustainable living trends in design innovation. Inhabitat.com’s philosophy considers not only design, but also the materials used, practices, function and purpose. They are somewhat frustrated with the growing hype on “Green Design”. Simply stating “good design is not about color, style or trends – but instead about thoughtfully considering the user, the experience, the social context and the impact of an object on the surrounding environment.” “No design can be considered good design unless it at least attempts to address some of these concerns.”

In the summer of 2008 Inhabitots.com was born. Jill was pregnant anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first baby. For many, the birth of their first child marks a turning point and often times an urge to step back, slow down and most recently ‘go green’ by way of housing the use of organic products and food. Committed to the belief “that becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style or ideals”, Jill launched her campaign in “sustainable design for the next generation“. Inhabitots is a supplement website created for children and parents who are interested in sustainable modern design for kids.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

| No Comments »

The Traveling Snack Bag

– johanna | March 30th, 2009


While we teach the kids the importance of sharing, sometimes it is better to choose your battles. So it is with the case of the one-eyed woolly monster. My friend relayed a story once about her husband and cereal. Growing up, it was first come, first serve. If you lagged behind, there was a pretty good chance you would not eat or find disappointment that your favorite cereal was all gone. To compensate, the boys would overeat on their share of cereal.

Some days, my kids behave like they are going to starve to death fighting over who holds the snack bag; or how much the other can have. They act like a one-eyed woolly monster; a term I got from Caillou. His mom used a similar term to describe his moody and selfish behavior. To remedy the problem, I give them each their own snack bag. When we travel, it is the same. They each get to pack a lunch and snacks. They enjoy being in charge of their own bag. Many times, they surprise us and offer to share their snacks with a hungry brother or sister who has gulped theirs all up.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


I Love Cleaning My Kitchen Table Chairs

– johanna | March 26th, 2009


I did it. I covered my chair cushions with clear vinyl from the fabric store. I know for years it was a decor no-no. I thought so, until I saw a picture in “Traditional Home”. If Clinton and Stacy from “What not to Wear” were here, I know they would say, “Just because it is in a magazine, does not mean you should do it.”

My sister-n-law, Natalie, gave us her slightly used table and chairs, all from Ikea. What I love most about the chairs, are the seat cushions. The fabric is actually a cover. I did not know that until the first time I removed the cushions from the chair to measure for replacement material. I threw the covers in the wash instead of buying new ones. They have been spilled on, stained, and bleached until there is no hope left.

The chairs in the magazine looked fabulous. Originally, we looked at other styles of vinyl, but I was not satisfied with the selections available. I found some decent upholstery material on sale for a dollar and decided, if it is going to last, I would have to cover it with the clear vinyl. It is not like I went and covered my living room couches and chairs. Most important of all, they are kid proof. I giggle every time I swipe the rag across the chair seat. Cleaning is a cinch. No more scrubbing. No more bleaching.

Scout out fabric discount stores, yard sales and thrift stores for deals on fabric. Belive it or not, I used to find beautiful fabric at Walmart. When I decorated our first house, I found amazing deals at a $2.00 fabric store. Material that regularly costs between $15 – $20, was $1.00 – $10. Other tools may include a pair of scissors, a staple gun with staples and 1 1/2 inch foam. WikiHow has a step by step tutorial on how to reupholster a dining chair.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

| No Comments »

Neighborhood Yard Sale

– johanna | March 21st, 2009


With the arrival of Spring, home improvement centers often showcase storage and organization products to aide with the task of spring cleaning. This is the time to go through each room and determine what needs to go and what can stay. The experts suggest using a box for trash, one for charity and one for stay. The Fly Lady recommends tackling room clutter in 15 minute segments.

What to do with all that clutter? Coordinate a neighborhood yard sale. Have those participating chip in to pay for advertising and to help make signs. I went to a neighborhood garage sale when I lived in the North Bay. There were homes who had used items to sell and there were homes that sold baked goods or handmade crafts.

Check with the city to see about any permits needed. Try selling any unsold items in excellent condition on Craig’s List or Ebay. We want to squeeze out every penny we can. Beware of hidden charges, though. Ebay takes a certain percentage of the sale so make sure it is worth the time and effort. You also want to make sure you calculate the shipping properly. Sometimes it is just cheaper to drop it off at a charity.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

| No Comments »

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >