Category Archives: Home Management

Saturday Special: Kill the Colored Ants!

Ants Header

We have ants. Again.

We live in a fairly old house, and it’s just not sealed as well as it should/could be. About every 2 or 3 months, we get a good rain (like night before last) and a colony of ants decides they need to seek shelter by moving into our house. I don’t know about you, but I HATE ants. My husband says we need to name them and call them our “kitchen friends.” He is not in charge of dealing with the ants, obviously. He IS in charge of the videoing around here (see below). You’ll see that we are pretty easily amused.

I’ve tried all sorts of natural ant poisons and repellents. Some of them work quite well. Some of them, like diatomaceous earth, are really messy and need to be confined to dealing with ants outside (where it works beautifully!). Other things like clove oil (I like to mix mine in a spray bottle with some water) and cinnamon also work well as repellents, but just don’t seem to be enough during this post-rain periods when there’s a sudden onslaught of the little buggers. My favorite way to deal with them inside is to poison them with a little combination of honey, borax, and warm water. It’s easy to mix up. Works to keep them gone for quite a while, and isn’t so messy that it makes me crazy. The only difficult part is being patient.  I have issues in that department. You need to give the ants a chance to eat the poison, so that means not killing every single one you see automatically for about a day. It’s HARD to let ants run a muck in your house, even if it’s only for a day.  But it’s worth it when they suddenly stop showing up and stay gone for a while.

The ratio that I’ve been using for my poison is:

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 tsp Borax

Warm the water and mix the honey and borax in until it dissolves. Then, place the poison out in the places you are seeing ants.  I usually put mine on wax paper, but tin foil, parchment paper, or the like will work. You just want to make it easy for the ants to get to. You can just pour it in a puddle, pour it on a cotton pad, or you can soak a cotton ball in it. My children are big enough not to eat it, and our dog has never shown any interest in it, but you’ll want to make sure that children and pets don’t consume it.

Again, the key is . . . be patient.

It can take a little while for the ants to find your poison, but eventually they will. At first it will just be one or two.

A few ants

Then, they’ll tell all their buddies and soon you’ll have them totally surrounding the poison and fighting for a spot.

More ants

This time, I decided to try coloring the poison. I figure if we’re going to have ants, they might as well provide some amusement and be colored ants.

To do this, just drop a few drops of food coloring on the cotton pad or cotton ball, or color the whole puddle. I actually colored my cotton pad with three different colors, so we had different colored ants running around. They’re still ants. I still hate them, but at least they provided us with some entertainment this afternoon before they died. It’s ALMOST like I gave them a bigger and better purpose in life. ALMOST.

Before-After-PIN

Later today or tomorrow, the ants will dwindle down to one or two and I’ll clean up the poison and switch back to using clove oil or something to repel them. I’ll have done enough damage to the colony to at least keep them away for awhile, and in the meantime, we can work on trying to figure out where they’re coming from and get things better sealed.

Until next time, my little ant enemies!

As for the rest of you, I leave you with this awesome video my husband shot of one poor little sucker taking advantage of our hospitality.

And, maybe it’s because we’re a homeschooling family, or maybe it’s just that I want to give ants OUTSIDE my house a fair shake, but here’s a little video that shows how cool ants (or ant hills) can really be.

This post linked up at:

Tending the Home Tuesdays works for me wednesday at we are that family

Organizing Paperwork

Organizing Paperwork

Some time last year, I got SO tired of my counters always looking like this:

Paperwork pilesThe amount of paperwork that comes into this house is just insane! I try to follow all the paperwork management rules: touch it once if possible, immediately toss whatever we don’t need, etc. but there is just a certain amount of paperwork that we need to hang onto, either for a short while or for the long-haul.

After thinking it over for a little while, I decided to create a system of file folders and to use one of the doors closest to the counter that is usually the “Hot Spot” for all this paperwork clutter.  This particular door actually goes down to our basement. It’s open most of the time when it’s just the four of us, but if we’re having a party or have more guests in, it’s also an easy door to close and conceal what is behind it.

plastic wall pocket

So, I went to the local office supply store and bought myself some plastic wall pockets; one for each of the major categories of paperwork I felt like I was dealing with. Then, I came home and used some fabric remnants I already had on hand and some Modge Podge (you could use matte or gloss, whichever you prefer) and I covered each box with the fabric. It really didn’t take long at all.  My tips would be: 1) make sure you cut your fabric large enough to wrap around the box, and 2) work slowly and make sure you get the bubbles out.

Organizing Paperwork

It worked best for me to cover the box in stages, so I would do the front, let it dry, then come back and work on the sides, etc. Letting it dry before doing the next step made it easier to pull the fabric taut and get everything smooth.

After the boxes were covered and dry, I added a label (mine are from Staples’ Martha Stewart collection of office supplies). I liked the way the red went with my fabric. You could just as easily print up your own.

Then, I hung them on the door by screwing through the fabric and the pre-drilled holes in the boxes.

Voila! The paperwork definitely didn’t disappear, but it got a lot more manageable, and my counter (mostly) stays clear.

Now . . . next I need to tell you about my plan for eliminating the paperwork altogether! Stay tuned . . .

This post is linked up to:
works for me wednesday at we are that family One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL Weekend Bloggy Reading  Tending the Home Tuesdays

 

Laundry Organization and Child Labor

Laundry Organization

There are days when I think it would be SO much easier if I just did all the picking up and cleaning, table setting and clearing, and general chore duties around here myself. If I went that route, there would be the following advantages:

  1. It would be done.
  2. It would be done like I want it to be done.
  3. It would be done when I want it to be done.
  4. I can’t bark orders/nag incessantly at myself.

On the other hand, the following things occur to me that outweigh my desire to just get things done now, quickly, and well:

  1. My children are capable . . . often of MUCH more than I give them credit for.
  2. My children are growing up into adults who will eventually have to care for themselves.
  3. My children are here. Almost all the time. They make messes. Almost constantly. Those messes must be cleaned up. I have other things to do. Frankly, I have my own messes to clean up.

Which brings me to the matter at hand – Laundry. The never ending, monotonous cycle of sort, wash, dry, fold, put away, wear, get dirty, repeat. This was challenging enough to deal with when there were just two of us. It became exponentially more challenging during the crazy infant and toddler stages. Now days, it really shouldn’t be so bad. And yet, it is. And did I mention that I have other things to do?

At least twice during the summer, our clean laundry situation got so out of hand that my brilliant husband declared it a “Laundry Party!” We played loud music and gathered together around the mountains of laundry. He threw the kids their clothing as he got to it in the piles and told them to fold it. They did. My 5 year-old asked for guidance. We gave it. He executed with his best effort. It was AMAZING. We folded mountains of laundry in an hour or two and had it all put away. Have I mentioned that my husband is brilliant?

By the second time this happened, I realized a few things:

  1. My kids can actually fold their own clothes and put them away (the later part I already knew. They’ve been putting away some of their things, like socks, underwear, and PJs for a year or two). Now, the clothing is definitely not folded like I like it. Nothing is matched into outfits and placed neatly in a drawer. But things are folded AND put away . . . generally in the right area.
  2. I like things folded and put away. I like it more than I like things folded neatly and matched into outfits.

And so, we began a new laundry system at our house that has now been in place and operational for a few weeks.  I LOVE it!

Laundry Hamper Bag

Here are the basics:

  1. Everyone got their own hamper.  Before this, we used a community hamper in our upstairs hallway. I chose these hampers on Amazon because of their reviews. Our bedrooms are upstairs, our washer and dryer are in the basement, and two steep flights of stairs separate the two. I have a tremendous fear of someone falling down our stairs, so I’m fairly particular about what I ask the kiddos to carry up and down them. Based on the reviews, these bags can be dragged and take a beating. So far, I’m impressed. They’ve done great and the kids can manage them quite well. (I actually LOVE the way these bags are used at this blog, but that set-up just doesn’t work in our home at all.)
  2. Laundry sorterI rearranged the sorting area in the basement to make it more kid-friendly. Before, we had those rolling-type sorting carts. They worked fine, but whenever I asked the kids to help put laundry in the washer, they had to practically stand on their heads to reach the stuff on the bottom, and they weren’t always successful. Plus, I just really didn’t like the way they looked or worked myself, and they were starting to break down and need replacing anyway. So, I ordered two sets of these bins from Amazon.
  3. I set up three containers (using bins we already had) in the laundry area – one for each child, and one for everything else.
  4. I got small bags at Ikea that the kids could put their folded laundry in to carry it back upstairs.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each child has two laundry days each week, either Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday.
  2. On their laundry day, laundry is one of their morning chores. They carry their hamper downstairs and sort their laundry.
  3. They take whatever is in the dryer and distribute to the bin for whomever it belongs to.
  4. They fold whatever is in their own bin.
  5. The move whatever is in the washer into the dryer and start the dryer.
  6. They choose either Lights or Darks, based on whichever laundry bin has the most laundry. I created magnets and put them on the washer and dryer with the instructions for operating them, but those really weren’t necessary after the first week of the new system.
    Laundry Instructions
  7. They put the detergent in (We make our own and it just goes in with the laundry itself, not into the compartment on our front loader. This was my son’s one disappointment with the new system . . . he really wanted to get to do something with the drawer) and start the washer accordingly. They use the delay function on the washer so that the laundry gets washed in the wee hours of the morning, so it can be ready and waiting for the next day.
  8. They take their clothes (and empty hamper) upstairs and put them away.

It takes all of 15-20 minutes. After the first week, they have really only had 3 or 4 days worth of clothing to fold and put away at a time, so it hasn’t felt like a terrible burden to them at all. A bonus is that they now really think about whether or not something should really go into the hamper for a wash. Before, anytime my daughter changed clothes (which could happen 2 or 3 times a day) it was just easier for her to toss stuff in the hamper rather than put things back in her drawer if they could be worn again. It’s fine now if she does that, but she bears the consequences, not me.  And I can just fold laundry that’s in the bin for me whenever I’m down in that area of the house.

And now, since the kids are using the washer and dryer on THEIR laundry days, I’m more motivated than ever to get the rest of the laundry that needs to be taken care of done on MY laundry days, which are now Wednesday (If I have time. We have busy Wednesdays with our Classical Conversations Community), Saturday and Sunday. This might mean that I do 2 or 3 loads over the weekend, which is more than I would normally do on a weekend, but the whole system has been working so well that I truly do not mind at all.

And, while we’re on the subject of child labor, I think this method for “attacking” the bathrooms with your children, from Red and Honey, is BRILLIANT! I’m definitely trying this next!

 

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