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The 20 Minute Get Off Your Booty and Clean Challenge!

When I started this blog, back in January, it was with the intention of getting some pretty damaged areas in my life repaired. Mostly, our finances were in distress  and quite frankly my house was a total disaster.  I started blogging again, and started some research.  WordPress was completely new to me, my old blog was on Xanga.  I was desperate for a community, to find someone who understood and to find new ways to improve my imperfections.

A severe back sprain in 2009 has caused havoc on me.  I still have issues with it on a near daily basis.  IT HURTS and no, I am not a pansy.  My dental office calls me Xena because I had a deep root cleaning and my first cavities filled without ANY pain management.  I can deal with some pain, I’m a tough chick.  Yet, this back issue has been the bane of my ability to suck it up and move on.  Unfortunately, the overall consistent cleanliness of my home has severely suffered.  If you knocked on my door today and asked to come in the house I wouldn’t let you in, simply due to embarrassment.

Well, the no spending challenge is complete, and while I am glad it’s over, I really enjoyed writing a series about it.  I am hoping that some of you will be interested in participating in a house cleaning challenge with me!  A few months ago, I made some house cleaning playlists to go along with a 20 minute a day cleaning schedule.  I followed through with parts of it here and there, but I wasn’t really focused on getting into the routine and making it work.  I’m hoping some of you want to help with that!

Is your home a little out of shape?  Do you need some encouragement to make it sparkle and shine?  If so, come and join this challenge!  In 20 minutes a day you will have your house shining!

The 20 Minute Get Off Your Booty and Clean Challenge!

I am looking for that community.  I want some other bloggers to come forward and offer to take this challenge with me.  In order to participate you would have to do the following:

1.  Clean your house for 20 minutes a day!

2.  Take a before and after photo for each area you clean!

3.  Give me permission to use your photo in my post (with a link to your blog of course)!

4.  Either write about it on your blog with a link here, OR email me your photos and a quick message about what you did for the week. (you do NOT have to post every day!!!)

5.  Make sure your submissions are to me no later than Thursday at 5:30pm CST.  The posts will go up the next day!

 

I am looking for 5 bloggers who are ready and willing to put the embarrassing mess out there and who are excited and PUMPED UP to get their houses clean!  If you would like to join this challenge, please comment below or email me at mendedwheels@gmail.com.  YOU MUST sign up no later than Sunday June 1, 2014 at 2:00pm CST.  I will make a post later that evening telling you what we should focus on for the week!

If you don’t want to participate full-time, but would like a pat on the back, follow me on Facebook!  I think it would be fun to post the best transformations of the week there for individual recognition.

Let’s do this ladies!


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31 Day No Spending Challenge Week 4

31 Days Final Thoughts

Please visit Ruth, at Living Well Spending Less to read all the details of this challenge.

It’s Thursday evening as I am writing this, and although the month technically doesn’t end until Saturday, I think it’s fair to say the lessons I have learned will not change in the next 48 hours.  Let me recap week 4 so far and then I’ll tell you how I felt about this challenge and where we’re going from here.

Week 4- Spending went a bit crazy.  Any other month of the year, I probably would not have felt guilty in the slightest about the spending, but because I challenged both my husband and myself to not spend, there is some guilt.  I rarely spend money on myself other than (ick) smoking and eating out.  I have had more and more trouble over time finding clothing and shoes that fit properly.  I hate shopping for clothes and even more for shoes.  Shoes used to be my addiction!  In fact, a prior boss never really knew how short I am, 5’4, until I stepped out of my shoes in front of her one day!  Ha!

Between weight gain and water retention issues finding clothes and shoes that fit have been a nightmare.  Last week the only pair of pants I had that fit finally decided the world needed a glimpse of my bare thighs, and although I protested this decision, the distinctive ripping sound and breeze proved I lost the argument.  Now, I had no pants fit for public viewing, no shorts, a pair of flip flops (that I wear at work no less, because really…who sees my feet?) and a broken ego.  I had to go shopping.  It simply could not be put off any longer.

Luckily, it was Memorial Day weekend.  I HAD to go to Catherines, a company not well-known for being inexpensive, but they carry are large variety of sizes.  When I arrived with my friend, Tammy, they were having a huge Memorial Day sale.  My intention was to try to find a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans for around $100.00.  Well, the sale was spend $200 and get $100 off.  Leaving me right at my $100 clothing budget goal.  I was able to get 2 pairs of jean style capris, a pair of khaki shorts, and pair of shoes that FIT, and a pair of earrings to hit that final $200.00 mark.  I still feel a bit guilty, but I am trying to get over it.

We also did not quit smoking.  There is no excuse and no reason, we just didn’t do it.  I AM going to spend the month of June cutting back just to see if I can wean myself down.  My husband is really good at cutting back, but I struggle with it.  I don’t like being a grumpy ogre, but I need to face that addiction and move along.  Life is about moving forward!

I’m still really annoyed with the health insurance issue.  We pay about $230.00 every 2 weeks for insurance, so our budget was off by $690.00.  We did not hit our savings goal, nor did we pay off any of the extra bills I hoped we would have gone.  Bright side, the health insurance starts on Sunday, all of our bills are paid and there is money in savings.  I need to double-check my budget for the beginning of next month, but I think we will be able to transfer over another $300 or so into savings, meaning we have about $450.00 in savings.  That is $450.00 more than we had last month, so overall, I am pleased with that progress.

On another bright note, I was playing around in a new photo editing program I found and designed the idea for my blog header.  I was able to change some things and redesign the header myself in Photoshop and I am absolutely in love with it.


What we’ve learned

1.  Sucking it up for the month has its challenges.  We were not perfect, but certainly better.

2.  We need to add a small amount to our monthly budget for clothing.  Letting it go too long is just not acceptable, especially when I need to look professional for work.

3.  We need to really work on making sure we have the correct food on hand for packing lunches.

4.  We are also going to consider upping our grocery budget a bit and adding some nicer meals to our at home budget so we’re not tempted to eat out.

5.  Even though my husband does almost all of the cooking, he would like more input from me on dinner ideas.

6.  We need to budget for date nights.  When we don’t plan them, we end up nickel and diming our entertainment or eating out.

7.  International Delight Iced coffee in the Mocha flavor is a very acceptable replacement for buying coffee elsewhere.

8.  When we work together and agree to not spend, it goes much better than the push and pull of a couple who are not on the same page.

9.  Using cash and envelopes has made budgeting so much easier!

10.  We need to start adding extra categories to our budget for things like, minor home repairs, car maintenance, and possibly even a “Oh crap it’s not an emergency, but it’s urgent” pile.

11.  I missed a few MAJOR sales over Memorial Day Weekend.  I need to consider awesome sale cycles even for no spend months in the future!


Final Thoughts

We’re glad it’s over.  We absolutely would do it again, perhaps a few times a year when we have 3 paychecks in one month.  For now, we’re glad to be able to breathe a bit and say we did it, not perfectly, but we did it.


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Pressure Washers Rock!

Ummmm. I had NO IDEA concrete is so nasty.  I grew up and still live in the South.  It’s not uncommon in the summer time to run outside barefoot and check the mail, or if you’re a kid, just to run around and play, all while hoping you miss the random sticker patch in the yard.  Another common scene in the South is what I call, well, tree sperm attacks.  A.K.A. pollen.  This year seemed particularly bad for pollen, and I think it’s still causing havoc!

My husband and I purchased a new Homeowners policy this year.  In order to make everything spit-shined and perfect for the inspection we had to take an entire day to do yard work.  This was of course during the time my husband hurt his ankle and was off of work.  My AWESOME brother came over here and slaved away like a crazy man ALL DAY LONG.  My back crapped out on me about 4 hours into it, but he kept plugging away for us.  Oh, and when I say ALL DAY I mean the following chores were completed:

All leaves raked and burned.  We have 7 trees if that give you any idea of the work.

The Sump Pump line was dug up, replaced, re-threaded with a smaller pipe and covered back over.  It’s about 100 ft. of pipe.

The roof was swept down

The gutters were cleaned out

The porch was cleaned top to bottom

Weed eating happened through the whole yard

Mowing occurred

Out of all the things that were accomplished that day, there was NOTHING that impressed me and grossed me out more than pressure washing the concrete.  I haven’t ever cleaned the concrete.  It never crossed my mind that you need to clean concrete, well aside from sweeping it!!!  In fact, I don’t know if the concrete has ever been cleaned since it was poured to make our back patio.  (I didn’t own the house then!)

Pressure Washers ROCK!

First, let me say that when dry, the concrete did NOT look that gross.  I had no idea it was THAT nasty until my brother started using the pressure washer.  Here is what it looked like before he started officially washing it.  Yes, you could see a bit of green mildew and of course there was pollen everywhere!

Pressure Washer and Quilting Class May 2014 001

And as the process continued:

Pressure Washer and Quilting Class May 2014 002

Overall the project is pretty easy.  You just hook a garden hose into the pressure washer, turn it on and go to town.  However, we did budget extra on the water bill for it this month.  You also have to be mindful of water pooling while you are working.  It also works best in teeny tiny rows for maximum cleaning power, so it is time consuming,  and of course you get a bit wet while doing the work.  I think it was well worth it!

 

Pressure Washer and Quilting Class May 2014 008

 

All the concrete looks so much better.  Now, if I could just find a way to use one in the house!

Tell me how pressure washers have worked for you!  Do you own one, borrow, or rent a washer when you use it?


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The Ways I Cut My Shower Time

Ok, here’s the total truth about me.  The older I get, the more I struggle with being late.  It’s a cold hard fact in my life.  Sometimes I do great, sometimes not so much.  Sometimes it’s because I goof off in the mornings, and sometimes it’s simply because there are few things I love on this earth more than a nice hot shower, especially when I am just waking up!  More often than not, standing in the shower and enjoying my wake up time cause me to be late.  I made some changes to my shower routine and it has cut it from 20-25 minutes down to about 10.  If you want to talk about saving money, a shower uses 7-10 gallons of water PER MINUTE!  This is saving over 100 gallons of water per day!!!  That’s a lot of money going down the drain!  Literally!

Shower Secrets

 

Hit the snooze

First, if you have a smart phone, you need an AMAZING song for your alarm in the morning.   I use Don’t You Mourn the Sun from the Twilight Eclipse soundtrack.  I hate getting up in the morning, so I find it funny.  It also has a fast an amazing beat, so it’s a good one to get up to!  The second my alarm goes off in the morning, I hit snooze.  I am usually taking my husband to work when it happens, so I now have a consistent 9 minute timer going off to keep me on track. I allow myself a single 9 minute cycle in the shower!

Brush your teeth in the shower

Honestly, I started this habit long ago because I got sick of cleaning toothpaste globs out of the sink.  However, I have pretty long and thick hair, so it takes a bit to saturate my hair to wash it.  I use that time to brush my teeth.  I also don’t have to clean the sink out when I am finished brushing.  Time and money saved on cleaning!

Only wash your hair every other day

This one is a hard one for me.  When I get hot I sweat like crazy and it all starts coming out of my head before anywhere else.  I struggle with dry hair though because it’s curly, so it’s better for my hair to wash every 2 days.  On the days I don’t wash, I scrub my scalp with my fingertips and condition again.  I wash my body while my conditioner is working its magic!  Cash saved on shampoo!

Organize your shower

Get the junk out of your shower.  It’s easier to clean if you’re not having to move a lot of stuff around and you can find everything you need quick!  There is no reason to have 5 kinds of shampoo 3 types of soap and a bunch of clutter in your shower.  If you have to share a shower with someone try organizing it with baskets like this.  Cash saved by not wasting beauty products!

Turn the water to cold

This closes your pores, helps seal your hair shafts and cools you down.  It’s also a big incentive to get out!  I almost always sweat when I get out of the shower, so this helps cool me off so I can dry faster!  Needless to say it will also wake you right up if you’re still sleepy! Cash saved by not using more hot water!

 

Have any other tricks?  Tell me how you get out of the shower fast!

 

 


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Pinterest Tested! Listerine on the Feet!

You will have to forgive me in advance for the not so superb quality of the photographs in this post.  I also want to warn you that A) I have water retention issues so my feet were really swollen this particular day and B) I DO NOT have pretty girly feet.  Deal with it!  I am half of my Dad too!

Vinegar and Listerine

 

I, like most bloggers spend entirely too much time on Pinterest.  Many of the tips and tricks on Pinterest are fantastic.  However, I have seen lots of tips and tricks and wondered about the true ability of those particular combinations to produce results.  Enter the Listerine and Vinegar recipe.

I was spending time with my sister in law, Kara, and we were talking about blogging, how much I enjoy it and how it relates to Pinterest etc.  When I mentioned possibly trying out a “Does it really work?” section on my blog, she needed examples.  I used Listerine and Vinegar removing dead skin from your feet as an example.  Her eyes lit up and I knew immediately I was in trouble.  Of COURSE she had the products on hand.  OF COURSE she wanted to try it right then and there to see if it worked.  So, I reluctantly agreed and we tried it out.

Little bowls and big feet!

Big feet and little bowls do not go well together.  I also had to keep fighting away doggies who were super excited to try and drink the blue treat!

Flip Flop tan lines are awesome!

We transferred the liquid and my foot to another dish.  You know you’re jealous of that awesome flip flop tan line!

Listerine and Vinegar Foot Soak

I thought we should check on the progress while were waiting and sure enough, there was a line on my foot where the liquid covered it.

Side by side comparison

After the 15 minute soak time, I did a side by side comparison.  The left foot was treated the right foot was not.  As you can see, I fight dry skin on my feet A LOT, so there was an improvement on the left foot compared to the right.

BUT

Would I recommend this to anyone else?

NO

First, the amount of skin that came off, to me, was the equivalent of soaking your feet in a hot bath and rubbing then with a towel.  I don’t really see the point in spending any extra money on a product combination that gives the same affect as hot water.

Second, water doesn’t turn your toes blue.  Seriously. My nails and cuticles were blue!

Blue Toes!