Sunday, December 30, 2007

Housecleaning as a business

I have cleaned houses for money for the past 25 years. I find it satisfying on a personal level. I have made many friends among my cleaning clients. People marvel at the fact that I enjoy it. I just do. I always look around, after I've finished cleaning a house, and admire my work. I bask in the compliments of my customers.

I will delve into my methods and organization of my tasks. First of all, I usually always start in the kitchen of a house. I wash dishes if there are some to be done. I wipe down countertops, tables, stove top, and then sweep, mop. With the other rooms, I dust each room, pick up, then vacuum. In the bathroom I clean mirrors and sink, then bathtub, then toilet, and move on to sweeping and mopping. In a bathroom I will usually put a cleaning agent in the toilet and let it sit until I'm finished with everything else, then clean it last. I have found that using a spray cleaner such as "Mr. Bubble" in the shower, and letting it sit for a few minutes, will work on soap scum buildup very well. Sometimes a scrub pad is necessary to get rid of a build up of scum on a shower wall.

Some customers dislike the smell of cleaning chemicals-in that case I use baking soda, and vinegar. This works very well on just about any surface. Baking soda is good for sinks, countertops, stove tops. Vinegar is good for mirrors, for glass shower doors, and will remove calcium deposits on faucets and fixtures if left for a while to soak.

In later posts I will share some more information about various cleaning tasks, and give advice on the business.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Composting your kitchen waste is a good way to create good soil for your garden. I have a small area in my garden designated for this. I have a big plastic container in my kitchen for saving all waste, except for anything with fat in it. I save coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit peelings, and parts which aren't eaten, potato peelings, egg shells, tea bags, also fruit or vegetables which have gone bad.

I dump this container, when it is full, into my compost pile. Occasionally I use a shovel to mix the waste with dirt and turn it over. I also add grass clippings, dead garden plants, etc. After several months all this waste is rotted and becomes a very rich soil which can be put in my garden to enrich the soil.

One interesting thing that happens occasionally is, plants sometimes come up in the compost pile as a result of seeds that were dumped there. This is a fun surprise which I enjoy very much!! Also, birds and rabbits come to feast on the vegetable and fruit scraps before I dig them under the compost heap. An added bonus!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Cactus bloomed!!

I am so excited! I was cleaning up the kitchen, and caught a glimpse of bright pink in the deep window sill where I keep a few plants. I looked close and there they were! Two beautiful blooms. I took a picture which I will post on here later. The thing is-I water that plant once a week and otherwise, except for putting fertilizer spikes in it, I haven't done a thing. And this is so remarkable that it's blooming just in time for Christmas. I am now a believer in Christmas miracles for sure.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Animal Watching in the garden

My garden is a good place for attracting and watching wild birds. I keep some parts of the garden area "wild" by allowing native plants such as the chamisa bush to grow. I also make sure I keep water containers available. Even now, in the winter, I see many different birds coming in to get water. Quail, doves, pigeons, and other species, are regular visitors to my little oasis.

Sunflowers provide seeds for the birds to feed on, and they feed on insects. Some flowers attract birds and hummingbirds.

I might mention, also, that I have plenty of lizards, rabbits. The rabbits rest in the shade on hot days. I have the rabbits fenced out of my garden, but they have free rein around it and in the compost area where I have seen them eating lettuce scraps, and other vegetable parts. The lizards love hanging out there. When I water, I see them scurrying around there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gardening in the NM desert

I'll begin this section of my blog by saying-I love plants, and I love to see things grow. I have a little spot in my back yard that I have used for 16 years. I've noticed that I have to enrich the soil out there in the spring with compost, and fertilizer. Also, I've noticed that with the very hot summers, certain things won't grow. I think global warming is taking effect. This past summer the only plants to survive were sunflowers, parsley, zinnias. I resorted to growing a lot of things in the shadier areas of my front yard. I also noticed that when fall cooled things off, many plants did so much better, and bloomed into late October. Some plants continued to bloom until about two weeks ago when we had a very cold spell.

I have decided that I will research plants that grow well with heat and not much water. I will plant these things out in the garden area this spring. I may try again to grow a few vegetables, but the summer heat may be too much for these plants.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Getting Ready For College

Getting into college is not difficult for homeschoolers. Many colleges like homeschoolers because of their independent study habits and individuality. A high school diploma can be obtained from a high school long distance curriculum, or it can be obtained by GED testing. We opted for the GED tests. My daughter received a certificate of high school graduation after completing the tests.

Another important aspect is ACT, or SAT testing, depending on what the college of choice will accept. It is a good idea to do this test twice, because on taking the test the first time, the student will find out what areas he, or she needs to prepare more thoroughly for. There are ACT practice, and study books which help greatly!! I would say to take the ACT in the fall of the senior year, and then again in the spring.

One thing I forgot to mention is-when the student is a high school homeschooler, he or she will be able to study independently. A parent should supply the guidelines and appropriate books and the child, in my opinion, can make up their schedule, and do the work at their pace. At this age, my daughter was also working part time, and participating in community theater performances.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Style of Teaching

I will explain what our daily schedule was in this blog. First of all, I had a day planner. I would sit down weekly and go over subjects and create lesson plans and projects. We alternated subjects during the week. Our school started at 8:00AM and would usually end at noon. I would sit with my daughter, explain the lesson and then have her complete an assignment or worksheet. We had tests also, on a weekly basis. On some days we would just watch PBS or a video to cover science, history, etc. Also field trips were considered lessons.

In New Mexico we are required to keep an attendance record. I printed these forms off of various sites provided by other homeschoolers, and each day I would update and file the attendance information.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Explaining Unschooling

Unschooling is a teaching style where the child is free to pick what they want to learn. Of course, in our case, my daughter did have to learn the basic subjects, but then could choose other subjects she liked.

Unschooling is a good way to start out if your child has been in public school and needs a way to unwind and relax. To give them a break for a while from schedules and demanding assignments is a good start to homeschooling. Some families always stick to unschooling and use no formal lesson plans.

Good ways to implement this is to take them to the library. Let them spend some time in the children's section, and encourage them to check out books. Also, computer and TV offer interesting and educational activities and viewing. A family outing to an interesting or educational site would qualify for a school activity. Also, online, there are many sites from which you can order free lessons and materials for study.

My daughter's choices were such activities as guitar lessons, doing a Shakespeare play with her homeschool group. (They did it all on their own), taking keyboard lessons on the computer, etc. There was never a lack of something to do.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Homeschooling and Socializing

Contrary to a myth about homeschooling-that homeschooled kids stay in the house and don't have a life, or friends-there is so much going on. Kids can play community sports, take a class at the local high school, and make friends. As my daughter grew older she went to a swing dance class at the local college, joined the community theater group, worked part time, and had friends who went to regular school as well as her homeschool friends. She did all the things most teenagers do, including going to two proms. Also, there were field trips to museums, skating rinks, places of interest here in our area, bowling, also family Christmas parties, and other activities. She also loved to swim, and even took golf lessons.

Hints for Homeschooling

I started Homeschooling my daughter in the 5th grade. This decision was made because she was tested and declared gifted. Yet her school did not wish to help her because she was not a team player. (She didn't like to play sports). I thought this was crazy!! So, I withdrew her from school. I found a homeschool group in town and got started.

We never used a strict curriculum. I got books from different sources, and used other avenues of learning. Our homeschool group did field trips once a month, and we got together a couple of times a month for social activities. My daughter thrived on this style of learning. We spent about 3 hours a day on lessons. Some were on the computer, and sometimes watching a PBS program was a science lesson. I guess you could say this was "unschooling".

Before I continue explaining some methods and ideas I used for homeschooling, I will say that my daughter is a freshman in college this year. There was not a problem getting her admitted. I am so proud, as her teacher, and parent!!!!!!

One homeschooling option is called Unit Studies. Using this option, we decided on a subject my daughter was interested in. We then gathered any, and all materials we could find on this subject. We spent a couple of weeks immersed in learning about it. For example, we did a Unit Study on Egypt. We gathered information from the library, online, and I even ordered her a little box of Egyptian items such as papyrus, an Egyptian game, a little explanation of the written language, and pictures. We did a lot of these studies through the years.

Other options were other homeschool parents teaching classes. We had people with degrees which qualified them to teach spanish, science, art, etc. There was usually one class a week on each subject. Each "teacher" had the classes at her or his home, or a donated space in the community. We also had PE classes in the community gym or baseball field.