Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Managing and Organizing Your Bills

I'm a huge fan of filing, I mean how can one NOT be? Right?? Who doesn't love a nicely organized file box with matching folders, and printed labels? Exactly! Ok, ok, I realize I "may" be in the minority here, but a pretty common problem is that we all tend to be pretty lazy and unorganized when it comes to our bills and personal documents. In every household there seems to be that same mail pile all disheveled on a counter top or table somewhere, and before you know it your electricity is off because you forgot to pay your power.

The most fool proof tactic to pay bills is setting up automatic payments. I have this set up through Comcast, Verizon, my financial aid, car insurance and a few other little pesks. The only thing I need to remember is to pay rent. This not only guarantees your accounts are not delinquent, but also saves on paper and postage (and late fees!).

If you prefer the old fashioned way, but still seem to miss your due dates, you'll need to set up a file system using the supplies listed above. First, you will need to label the first 4 folders by quarters of the month (7th, 14th, 21st, 31st). Second, take inventory of all the bills you receive, including statements, important documents (insurance- car, life, house), contracts, etc. Create a file for each of the documents titled by the company name (Comcast, Progressive, Bank of America Checking, Bank of America Savings), and put them in alphabetical order after the quarterly bills files.

When you get a bill, check the due date and place it in one of the quarterly files that is at least 1 week earlier than it is due. So if the due date is the 18th, put it in the 7th file, that will allow sufficient processing time and give you a grace period if you can't get to it by the 7th. You will need to get into the habit of checking your folders every week to pay the due bills. Most email systems have a "reminder" function, that will help you remember to check your bills. After you pay a bill, write a little note on the bill that is was paid and when, "PAID- 6/14/09", and file it back into it's own file.

Bills and important documents vary with length of time to keep filed. The following should be kept a year: bills, statements, paycheck stubs. Tax documents should be kept for 7 years. Every now and then to keep the clutter down, go through your files and take anything out that has expired this length of time. Just make sure you shred it for privacy protection and then, of course, recycle! (Keep it in a bag, though! Loose "confetti" is a no no!).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Baking Soda Exfoliator

Who else here suffered from painful, humiliating acne as a teen? Whole else here still gets painful, humiliating break-outs? It's a fact of life, we all get zits. You can have good skin days, and bad skin days, but all we can really do is find a happy medium with a system that works best for us. I've tried a million different products (high five anyone?) and one concoction that I am very pleased with I learned from an interview with Queen Latifah. She recommended mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with a dollop of your facial cleanser as an exfoliant. The baking soda granules are so small that they exfoliate without irritating the skin. Anything bigger can cause minuscule "cuts" in the skin which causes irritation and redness.

I do this twice a week- it makes your skin smooth without feeling like you just had microdermabrasion done in the shower. I keep a little tupperware container in the shower so it's handy and keeps dry. You can also use it as an exfoliating, oil absorbing mask if you have oily skin like I do. Make a paste with the soda and a little water, smear it on your face and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

More and more new products are being released on to the market that are natural, organic and biodegradable. Even places like Bartell's has an entire section devoted to natural products. Here's a list of natural facial products that I have used and like, or have heard great things about. (Scroll over to view links).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Real cleaning supplies

There are WAY too many cleaning products on the market. You only need a few simple things and you can clean anything you need (with a few exceptions of course). One of my goals was to share real effective ways to clean your house/apartment because there is too much effort being put into cleaning, and usually with too many harmful chemicals that are bad for you and the environment. At my cleaning job, we didn't use "green" products because, I will admit, they are not as effective. As much as i love bio-degradable and natural products, they just don't do as good of a job. but if you rotate your products, they work fine. the major problem lies in when you have serious caked on scum. I have done some research though and try to use green products in my own household as much as I can. This blog should help you decide on what kind of products you would rather use and what their substitutes are.

The Complete Cleaning Kit

To make life easier for you, get a bucket that can hold your supplies. This way when you need it, you can grab it and you're good. This is mine:

A few supplies that are absolute staples are: feather duster, 2 scrubbie sponges, a large plastic cup, toilet brush, tooth brush, squeegie, and about 20 white rags (wash cloth size). These are the tools of the trade that you must have. Below I have listed the cleaning products with natural substitutes.
Chemical ----------------------Natural

Orange citrus cleaner ------Lemon juice, vinegar and water
Comet------------------ -----Baking soda

--------Windex-------------------- Vinegar and water
Toilet bowel cleaner --------Baking soda and vinegar

---------------Pledge ---------------Mineral oil or Murphy's soap
--------Bleach ------------Vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda
Wood/tile/linoleum/etc. floor cleaner------ Vinegar and water

In my own apartment, I don't hardly ever use any of the chemical cleaners. One in a while I do use the Orange citrus cleaner (you can pick this up at Home Depot or Lowes) for it really cuts through soap scum, food, mold, etc. If I can give something, like my bathtub/shower, a really good cleaning, I can usually keep it up with natural products.
The basic point is you have to think about every product you use, from the dish soap that you wash your dishes with, to the lip balm you basically eat several times a day. What are in the products you use, and where does it go? In your body? Into our streams that run into the ocean? Imagine if just the population of Seattle all switched to natural products, think about how much pollution would be reduced?

So with these items in mind, I plan to go through some steps on how to clean areas like your bathroom and kitchen with both chemical and natural products. But that will be for another day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I had braces growing up like most of us poor saps did, and constantly suffered from canker sores. The brackets would always cut my lip and sure enough a canker sore would appear the next day. I never found much relief from over the counter products, and to this day I still will get a sore if I even think about accidentally biting myself (and no smart asses, I don't have oral herpes).

I'm not sure when my mom learned this, but she taught me to put a little dab of alum right on the sore and it would magically disappear. Alum is a chemical compound like salt, and is most popularly known as a pickling agent. You can find it in any grocery store in the spice aisle. It stings like crazy but it literally pickles the sore. Hold out your cheek or lip, place a dab of the powder or granules (power is easier), and let it sit till your saliva dissolves it. Reapply about 3 times a day. That owie will be gone in no time, sparing your body of ingesting those extra chemicals in a medication.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I was going to post my first "tip" tomorrow but I'm too impatient!

Recycle Caps with Aveda

I LOVE this program. Plastic bottle caps typically cannot be recycled for they are small enough to jam recycling equipment, therefore it's easier for our city to toss the caps rather than find a solution to this problem. I recently read on Seattle's guidelines that any lid or cap larger than 3 inches is fine, anything smaller is a no go. Aveda, a great social and environmentally conscious company, has created the Recycle Caps program by teaming up with a recycler that can recycle the caps into new recycleable items. I said recycle 4 times in that last sentence. All you have to do is save your caps and bring them into a store. Keep a little bucket on your counter top or a baggie in a close by drawer and before you know it, you'll have a nice little collection of caps! I have so far made about 4 trips to different stores and the employees are very nice and appreciative of the donation, almost like they never get drop offs! Click the link above to learn more about the program and the guidelines for what they accept.
I was a cleaner for a high end cleaning service here in Seattle for 6 years through out my mid-20's. I have cleaned for several top Microsoft execs, a certain online bookstore CEO, a famous rockstar, a leading coffee CEO, a real estate mogul, and on and on......I have learned several tricks of the trade and continue to be surprised at how little people really know about cleaning!

One day I was helping my friend Aimee do a deep clean on her house and as we were going through her stuff somehow it came up that she had too much shit in her life. In response to that universal illness I told her that we need to "un-shit her life". After I left I got to thinking about how I have a weird collection of "how to's" and remedies floating around in my head. Why not get it out and down on paper? Why not write a book, direct it at young people like myself and my friends, and call it that oh so clever catch phrase, "un-shit your life"? I did some brainstorming, brought the idea to my friends and they all loved it. The book would include everything practical that a young independant wo/man would need and want to know, such as a "how to clean" by using commercial and natural cleaning products, natural remedies, recipes, organizing ideas, decor ideas, and budget coaching.

I jotted down some ideas and made an outline but it soon went the way of the buffalo as I was hot in the midst of finishing my BA in Finance at the UW.

On top of my cleaning experience, I am an avid recycler and have a great interest in environmentalism. I remember introducing my family to creating a recycle bin next to the garbage bin for misc. papers, plastics, etc., at a very young age and soon came the vegetarianism. About 2 years ago came my next venture, vermi-composting. I just couldn't handle throwing away so much wasted food when it could be put to other uses! I did some research with my mom and we both created a worm bin each. I recently gave a bunch of worms to my friend Alissa who had me over last night to help tend to them for they were sickly. After a little chatter she suggested I do a worm blog since I love those slimey little guys so much. After I went home I thought, why not? But instead of just worms, why not resurrect my "un-shit" idea?

Thus the creation of this blog. Hopefully it will be interesting, and if you have made it this far you just might continue on! My aim is a little Martha Stewart, mixed with some Sara Snow, sprinkled with Suze Orman and then baked to a golden Kathleen Hanna.

Wish me luck, and less rambling. If you have any ideas to contribute, please do!

Un- what?

"Un-shit your life"- to rid your life of useless shit. This blog is a collection of hints, tips, ideas and stories that I have gathered from my family, friends, articles, the internet, rumors and life experiences. Please share your own!

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