Category Archives: Homesteading

House Cleaning in Rural Mexico

My house cleaning routine is completely different now that I live in rural Mexico when compared to living NOTB (north of the border). The way my mother and grandmother cleaned didn’t transfer to this new land without carpeting and linoleum floors which meant I had quite a bit to learn. I’m sure my mother-in-law thought I was a useless wife.

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty (literally) with some tips I’ve learned along the way to keep the house, perhaps not sparkling clean, but at least bearable.

Most cleaning supplies, buckets, sponges, bristle brushes, mops, dustpans, brooms and so on, are found in the jariceria. Soap and detergents can be bought at the abarrotes (corner store) or supermercado. It’s a limited selection though. Most places carry fabuloso which comes in a variety of scents and pinol, which is “pine” scented.

There are even places you can buy cleaning supplies in bulk. Paper towels can sometimes be found at the desechables (disposable) place, however, most abarrotes and smaller supermarkets don’t carry them. I suggest using a cut-up towel if you can’t find paper towels. It can be washed and reused endlessly.

Living in rural Mexico means dirt roads, dirt paths, and dirt lawns. That dirt seeps in under the door and through open windows. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to reduce the amount of dirt inside your home, which ironically means reducing the amount of dirt outside of it.

The first line of defense is a broom. The broom is a mighty weapon in the battle against dirt. Brooms come in plastic and natural varieties. The ones made of twigs or straw are really the best for the dirt work outside your home.

Use that broom to sweep any loose dirt from in front away from your house. The broom is what you’ll use to sweep the loose dirt from the back of your house as well. Furthermore, the broom is used to sweep the loose dirt inside your house.

Your broom needs a super sidekick for the best results. Invest in one of those long-handled dustpans, not one you have to bend over to use. You’ll do a lot of sweeping in rural Mexico you’ll be thankful. Don’t just sweep the dirt outside. It will find a way back in. Sweep it into the dustpan and put it in the trash.

The plastic broom becomes an even better tool when combined with water and soap. With soapy water you can use the broom to scrub cement floors. Depending on the texture of your tile, you might use it to scrub those too. For example, the tile we have downstairs is smooth and a mop works well. But the upstairs tile is rough and a broomy mop does a way better job.

A broom can also be used to scrub the walls. Most walls are textured and you can’t just wipe them down with a wet cloth without getting bloody knuckles. So, use a broom. 

If you have throw rugs, a broom makes a heck of a rug beater. Brooms also work to knock down cobweb buildup. Surprisingly enough you find chimney sweeps readily in Mexico, which work great for the same purpose. 

Next, you may need a mop. Let me tell you, a mop won’t last nearly as long as you expect it would. But hang on to the wooden mop handles because, for some reason, broom handles are prone to breakage (probably all that scrubbing). A nail or two and your broom head has a new handle. 

Mopping is done differently here than how I learned to do it. Here it involves at least two mops and a bucket of soapy water. First, the mop is dunked in a bucket of soapy water. Then it is hand wrung. Some broad swishing about the floor follows. After that a DRY mop is swished over the same area, reducing the water residue. This is repeated until the entire floor surface has been cleansed. Mops are left to dry with the strings up, handle down.

When building your home, take this into consideration. Once you are ready to install tile, be proactive and buy brown floor tile, preferably with speckles that already resemble dirt. NEVER buy white tile even though it is usually cheaper. Choose dark grouting as well, not light. Also, smooth tiles may be easier to mop but are slippery when wet, so not the best option for bathrooms, kitchens, hallways or anywhere else where water accumulates.

Don’t be shy about using the water that you’ve used to wash clothes for mopping. We have a washer that we catch the gray water from the outtake hose in a bucket for this very purpose. When we hand wash, we do the same thing. 

Some cleaning can be reduced in intensity or avoided altogether if you are wise. For example, don’t buy white towels. I know that it gives your kitchen or bath a bright, clean feel, but it won’t last. Instead, buy brown towels. Seriously. The same goes for bedding. White sheets???–PLEASE! You’re just asking for trouble. Dark colors, like brown, are good. 

The reason I suggest this is because Tide Ultra is not available at the local super (supermercado). Instead, you’ll find a paltry selection of overly aromatic laundry soap which can’t quite cut the mustard, literally. I use Foca liquid detergent which is biodegradable and has a very mild scent but doesn’t get clothes as clean as my detergent did way back in the day when I lived in another country.

Since the detergent available is not great for stain treatment, a scrubber bristle brush works is another tool you’ll want to add to your cleaning arsenal. You really need to put some muscle into scrubbing at those stains. though. After you’ve scrubbed the bejesus out of those chili stains, hang the garment in full sun for some natural bleaching. 

Bristle brushes work for the walls in your shower too. Take one in while you shower and scrub away. The floor is already sudsy from your shower, so go ahead and broom scrub it then too. 

Whether your washer is indoors or out, a washer cover goes a long way in keeping dust from accumulating in the wash barrel. Covers are easily found for square washers as well as the round chaka-chaka ones at the places that sell blender lids.

Roma powder detergent works great to clean grease off the stove. On some stoves, it’s possible to put aluminum foil around the burners and stovetop which can be changed out as needed. Remember, prevention is the better part of cleaning valor. 

Dusting is a never-ending battle. You can buy a feather duster or make your own from your backyard fowls’ plumage. The roving carts that sell the chimney sweep brushes also carry feather dusters. A slightly damp cloth will do too. 

Most kitchens have a vitrina which is like a pantry cupboard. Use that to store your dishes. Make sure to replace broken glass doors. It keeps the dust build-up to a minimal. If you have knickknacks–keep them in a vitrina as well. 

A few stores carry products like Windex that you can use to clean your windows and mirrors. I’ve found that an auto detailing cloth works well to wipe them clean. I don’t bother with the exterior side of the windows unless they are extremely dusty. I do run the chimney sweep brush over the screens periodically to knock the dust off, however.

Flies make icky dirt speckles when they poop. Having screens in your windows and keeping the doors closed will curtail that. Those sticky fly traps will reduce the population and keep the poop speckles down too. 

Trash accumulate can be a problem in some areas. In town, the trash tractor comes by three times a week to collect your refuse. Where we live, it doesn’t. We burn some of our trash every other day or so. We recycle plastic containers, cans, and caguama (beer) bottles by taking them to the appropriate recycling center every month or so. For other items, we shop mindfully. For instance, we drink Cafe Oro because the glass jars it comes in make excellent pantry storage containers. 

If you are a financial position to do so, consider hiring a cha-cha, the term used for the cleaning muchacha (girl) even if she’s older than your mother. The cha-cha will come to your house for as little as 200 pesos a week, depending on the number of days and hours you require. It’s a fairly common practice even among the middle class and it provides a much-needed source of income for the women living in rural Mexico. While she’s scrubbing away, be sure to take notes on her techniques. Be sure to share them with your other clueless friends (and me in the comments below).

Realistically, you’ll need to learn to make peace with some dirt living in rural Mexico. It comes with the territory. Do what you can each day and don’t stress about the rest.

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Homesteading

Flash Sale– Ultimate Bundles Herbs and Essential Oils Bundle 2019

What's inside Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle

If you remember, in June Ultimate Bundles compiled the Herbs and Essential Oils bundle and were so kind as to include my modest contribution “Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico.”  Well, I’m happy to report that November 18-19 is the final flash sale for this amazing stockpile of information!

For two days only, the bundle, which includes 29 ebooks, 4 printables, and 7 ecourses, is on sale for $37.  If you want the cheat sheets, the price goes up $10. You’ll also have the option to add the Self-Care bundle, which is another incredible set of resources. 

The Herbs and Essential Oils bundle contains 40 products worth over $700 if purchased separately. It will continue to be available until June 2020, but at the price of $49.97. Additionally, the flash sale comes with three bonuses that the regular sale doesn’t include:

  • Puro co – $15 Gift card!
  • The Oil Collection – Pair of leather diffusing earrings (worth $19.99)
  • MadeOn – Cocoa Orange Lotion Bar & Peppermint Lip Balm (worth $16.75)

 So this flash sale is quite a deal!

Buy the bundle now!

So let me just share some of my favorite ecourses. Herbal Academy’s Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus was naturally one of my favorites. Several of the herbs suggested for improved focus and reduced anxiety are even commonly available in Mexico. Score! 

The Healing Powers of Tea was a fun short course. You know how I love herbal teas! More Than Weeds: 5 Common Plants to Forage for Food and Home Remedies highlighted herbs that often grow right in your backyard. I’m still making my way through the 29 eBooks! I never get tired of eBooks about herbs!

If you aren’t interested in these fascinating ecourses, printables and eBooks and only want to get my book, well, then I’m also happy to announce that the eBook version of Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico is now available for pre-order. 

So to recap, in Breaking Herb News, November 18 and 19 are the only two days for the Flash Sale on the Herbs and Essential Oils from Ultimate bundles and my eBook version of my paperback book “Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico” is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Get your bundle now!

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Herbal Academy’s Herbs for Animals

I have a few information tidbits from Herbal Academy that I wanted to pass along. First, they are giving away a free Cold and Flu Ebook that I’m sure you’ll enjoy whether you use these herbal remedies to keep healthy or to treat the bug that has you down. I know I’ve been loving my copy! Garlic honey, natural cough drops, and fever tea are just some of the recipes you’ll find in this little gem.

Captura de pantalla (117)

Many of these recipes were taken from The Herbarium monograph database. The Herbarium has a collection of articles, plant monographs, podcasts, videos, charts and tutorials and Short Course Intensives that are only available to members. And right now, Until October 31st, you can use the code COLDANDFLU for a one time discount of $10 off a membership to The Herbarium and get access to all that herb knowledge.  

Support your pet's wellbeing with herbs, only through The Herbarium

The newest intensive is Herbs for Animals. Those of you that have been following my blog for a while, know that we often use herbal treatments with our animals when they are ill or injured. And while you might not have the same animal variety that we do on our homestead, there may be a fur-baby in your life that would benefit from herbs.

The Herbs for Animals Intensive covers common ailments, dietary considerations, and appropriate herbs to help you support your pet’s well-being naturally. Is your dog terrified during thunderstorms? Is your cat skittish or moody? Wouldn’t you like to know more about flower essences used for emotional support to treat these problems? Then the short intensive course Herbs for Animals is for you!
The Herbarium Membership for Herbalists

So don’t wait, and get your membership for The Herbarium and access to Herbs to Animals along with the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive I talked about a few months ago. Use the code COLDANDFLU for $10 off and start increasing your herbal know-how today!

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Filed under Animal Husbandry, Health, Homesteading, Natural Healing