Monthly Archives: November 2013

Diary of a Dryerless Dame: Sunny & Cold!

We’ve been without a dryer since last January and I’m happy to report that even on these frigid winter days (with no wind, taboot!) we’re still able to do our laundry for less! Here’s a glimpse into a one load day …

Christa Clips: Save-at-Home-Mom puts laundry to soak first thing in the morning and waits until the RED  ZONE is finished before starting the washing machine to SAVE on hydro.

Christa Clips: Save-at-Home-Mom puts laundry to soak first thing in the morning and waits until the RED ZONE is finished before starting the washing machine to SAVE on hydro.

Filling our top loading washing machine takes little (if any?) electricity so I fill it with water first thing in the morning, add soap, stir with a long handled spoon from the dollar store and add clothes to soak until I put down the lid to start the cycle when hydro rates change from RED ZONE (on-peak) to YELLOW ZONE (mid-peak) rates at 11am. Ideally we’d run the washing machine during the time-of-use GREEN ZONE from 7pm-7am but I find that the clothes are too wrinkled if I leave them overnight and I just don’t have time to hang them until the kids get on the school bus at 8:30. I figure the fact that we’re paying mid-peak time-of-use hydro rates is more than offset by the fact that we don’t run a dryer.

No wind-chill factor?!  That's rare! Indoor drying is the only option on these days unless you like jeans-icles!

No wind-chill factor?! That’s rare! Indoor drying is the only option on these calm and cold days unless you like jeans-icles!

As soon as I saw that there’s no windchill today, I knew I’d be drying my load of laundry indoors. Not a problem – I’ve got some great drying gear and a super indoor system!

Hernessing the head from the afternoon sun in our west-facing patio doors, combined with the floor heat vent make for ideal air-drying conditions!

Harnessing the heat from the afternoon sun in our west-facing patio doors, combined with the floor heat vent make for ideal air-drying conditions!

While the wash cycle was running, I set up my drying rack and hanging gear in front of our south-west facing patio door over the heat vent. The sun pours through from 11:30-3:30ish at this time of year and is more than enough heat to dry most clothes and even towels. Dress shirts go directly onto hangers, socks & undies onto the octopus/spider thingy from IKEA and I love these tall slender drying racks from Canadian Tire to trap the warm air from the air vents.

Giving the dress shirts a quick snap-like shake and getting them onto hangers straight out the washing machine usually gets out all of the wrinkles for us. No ironing? Yes, please!

Giving the dress shirts a quick snap-like shake and getting them onto hangers straight out the washing machine usually gets out all of the wrinkles for us. No ironing? Yes, please!

The sun shone all afternoon and the dress shirts were dry and wrinkle free by the time the sun dipped behind the neighbour’s roof at 3:30, as were the yoga pants, cotton t-shirts and pj bottoms! I sure am looking forward to when the days get a little longer in December – even JEANS will dry in a day when we have 5 straight hours of sunshine! The socks and undies were still a little damp and I moved the spider hanger to the bottom of the drying rack to catch some serious air until 5:00!

Dryer free living is totally do-able!

Everything was dry, folded and put away by dinner time. The drying racks & gear all have a place in the laundry room (we just did a mini upgrade – pics in an upcoming blog post!). Our 10 month dryer costs are holding steady at $3 (from that “i’m flying to Cuba tomorrow” underwear emergency!) and I really feel like I’ve finally got a handle on the weekly ebb & flow to ensure that we’re not surrounded by drying racks in the evenings and over the weekend.  Dryer free living is totally do-able!

 

 

 

How to Clean Up 2nd Hand Skates and Keep them Looking NEW!

Don't shy away from buying used skates because they look a little worn. In her latest budget hack post, Christa Clips shares tips for cleaning up old skates 3 steps for keeping them looking and gliding like new.

Don’t shy away from buying used skates because they look a little worn. In her latest budget hack post, Christa Clips: Save-at-Home-Mom shares tips for cleaning up old skates + 3 key steps for keeping them looking and gliding like new.

New skates are an expense that our family hasn’t had to face yet, even though our kids have been growing out of one or even two pairs each winter. We’ve been fortunate so far with finding gently used skates at local Thrift Stores, consignment shops and garage sales but this year I could only find a pair in very poor condition for our daughter. At $3.99, I decided to take a risk and see if I could clean them up: other than the rusty blades and discoloured plastic, it looked like they were used only a handful of times with mint condition boot liners and clips.

With less than 30 minutes of elbow grease, a few pennies worth of cleaning materials, and a $4 skate sharpening, I’m happy to report that we have a sparkly pair of new-to-us skates and we had a blast at our first Family Skate of the season! Here are a few quick tricks to cleaning up old skates and rusty skate blades:

A little elbow grease at home before getting skate blades sharpens can make even the oldest skates look shiny and new.

A little elbow grease at home before getting skate blades sharpened can make even the oldest skates look shiny and new.

Remove Rust From Skate Blades

  • Put a tbsp of CLR on to the edge of a steel wool pad and scour for about 5 minutes. I used Grade #00/very fine and could have used oil or WD40 if we didn’t have any CLR on hand.

Sharpen the Blades

  • All skates blades, new and used need to be sharpened on a regular basis.  Note: brand new skates must be sharpened before using them the first time, otherwise the blades will have no sharp edges to catch the ice and your feet will slide apart with no way of stopping them. Think “Bambi on Ice” … it ain’t pretty and it certainly ain’t comfortable!

Get Rid of Old Stickers and Residue

  • Goo Gone easily lifts old price tags, name labels, hockey tape, and any other adhesives that make second hand skates look even more worn than they are. I use a few drops on a small square of paper towel or a rag.

Polish the Plastic

Get more out of your Mr. Clean Magic Erasers by cutting off a small portion for each use.

Get more out of your Mr. Clean Magic Erasers by cutting off a small portion for each use.

  • A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great for removing dirt and discolouration of plastic moulded skates. Instead of ruining a whole sponge, cut off just the amount you’ll need so the rest of the sponge stays nice for next time. For both skates, I used 1/6 of a sponge and still had a little bit left intact for some spot cleaning on the kitchen walls before throwing the piece in the garbage.

Important Safety Note: I wore rubber gloves and thoroughly washed and dried the skates after using all of these toxic products on them.  Little hands will be touching these skates, and even if they’re wearing mittens, those mittens are very likely to go into eyes, mouths and noses (ugh!) so I don’t take any chances with chemical residue.

Replace the Laces

  • These particular skates don’t have skate laces, but many of our other second hand pairs do. Replacing old laces that are stained or frayed is an inexpensive way to make a tired pair of skates look new again. If the laces are too long, try to avoid trimming them, or you’ll have more frayed laces on your hands. Simply wrap the laces around your ankles as many times as needed before tying the bow. If the laces are too short, don’t try to skip a few holes or hooks to “make-do”. Skates are designed to support your ankles and it’s my opinion that you should use all of the fasteners that your skates are equipped with.

Once you have your skates looking lickety-split new again, take good care of them and they’ll continue to sparkle.  

3 tips for keeping your skates in good condition:

  1. Always dry skate blades with a towel or old face cloth after each use. Wipe the snow off of the bottom of the skate boots too, so they don’t drip on to the blades once you’ve stored them away. We keep our “skate rag” with our skates so we never forget it at home.
  2. Always walk on rubberized or wooden surfaces with your skates unless you’re wearing protective skate guards. Stepping on cement will dull the blades and you’ll end up spending extra money on skate sharpening, or worse – replacing the blades and/or skates.
  3. Never store your skates with the guards on. Even if the blades and guards seem dry, moisture can collect and cause rust to form and then back to the skate sharpener you go! If you notice a striped pattern of rust on the bottom of your skate blades, you can be sure that wet skate guards are to blame. If you want to protect your skate blades, use an elasticized terry cloth or fleece guard. Don’t rely on the material to do the job of tip #1 though – that’s begging for rust.

Skating is an activity that our family enjoys for 5 months of the year. Buying second hand skates and taking good care of them makes skating a budget friendly choice, and since we re-purpose our bike helmets and use our regular snow suits, there are no other costs associated other than the odd sharpening and the $4 entrance fee for our family. Better yet, the Ottawa River has FREE admission for a few months each winter!

Let’s Talk Coupons! #cdnmoney Twitter Chat RSVP

Join us for the next #cdnmoney Twitter Chat to learn about couponing in Canada. RSVP at christaclips.com to be eligible to win PRIZES!

Join us for the next #cdnmoney Twitter Chat to learn about couponing in Canada. Follow your hosts @commomcentsmom @christaclips and tweet with the hasthag #cdnmoney – RSVP at christaclips.com to be eligible to win PRIZES!

We’re talking coupons, coupons, and nothing but coupons on the #cdnmoney Twitter Chat on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 from 7-8pm ET. Join host Hollie of CommonCentsMom.com and guest host Save-at-Home-Mom Christa Clips as we discuss practical couponing tips:

  • What are the best coupon apps?
  • What does all that fine print mean?
  • Can we really save money by couponing here in Canada?
  • Have you ever seen coupons in Canada for ___________?

Ask your couponing questions, share some of your savvy, and connect with other money mindful tweeps!

RSVP here and engage in our Twitter chat to be eligible to Win PRIZES! 2 lucky #cdnmoney twitter chat participants will win:

  • $25 in Canadian Coupons from Orville Redenbacher
  • Canadian Coupons for a 6 month supply of Cottonelle

To be eligible to WIN prizes:

  1. follow your #cdnmoney twitter chat hosts @CommonCentsMom and @ChristaClips
  2. RSVP (using linky below) prior to the end of the twitter chat at 8pm ET on Tuesday, November 19, 2013
  3. engage by tweeting and RTing during the #cdnmoney chat  – ask your questions about couponing and share your savvy savings tips!
  4. #cdnmoney twitter chats are open to an international audience, but only those residing in Canada with a valid Canadian mail address are eligible to win the prizes this week: they’re Canadian coupons and would be of little to no value to those residing in other countries. New participants are always welcome!

New to #cdnmoney twitter chats? Common Cents Mom aka Hollie Pollard, is the host of the #cdnmoney money chat on Twitter each Tuesday evening and is considered one of the 75 most influential mom bloggers in Canada.She blogs about life and how to live it well on a budget (needless to say, I think she’s swell!). Check out Hollie’s post about “How to Participate in a Twitter Chat” and don’t hesitate to drop a line in the comments below if we can help get you all set-up to join us!

We look forward to chatting with you about coupons at Tuesday’s #cdnmoney Twitter Chat!

Hollie & Christa