End of Summer Pool and Spa Care – For Less Work Next Season

This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Clorox Pool & Spa to encourage us to make the most of the last days of summer.

When I was a kid, Labor Day weekend was kind of the last hurrah of summer. We’d hang out by the pool and laugh, eat way too much food, and spend a lot of time yelling “Mom, watch this!” as we did some crazy jump into the pool. Lots of good memories!

After Labor Day, though, we spent less time in the pool as the nights grew colder and the days shorter. There may have been a weekend or two we’d try to get in a last shot of summer, but for the most part pool time was over. Toward the end of September I’d go to the pool store with my mom and get the few things we’d need to close up the pool until the next spring. I remember following a checklist very carefully because one year we didn’t close our pool right and it was a huge mess when we uncovered it at the first sign of pool weather the next season.

Friends back east are starting to talk about fall and cooler temperatures. There’s less “let’s hang out by the pool” and more “can’t wait to get the fire pit going”. So even though we don’t have a pool, we’ll be marking the end of summer as the temperatures begin to get cooler. Closing your pool doesn’t have to be daunting. Here’s a checklist, which includes the Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue™ product to get you started.

Pool Closing Checklist:

  • Check for algae and brush all pool surfaces
  • Remove debris from water and skimmer baskets
  • Test and balance water
  • Adjust Free Chlorine to the high end of 1-4 ppm
  • Check and clean your filter
  • Shock the water and let it circulate at least 6 hours using the Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue® product
  • Apply an algaecide to prevent algae growth
  • Shut down equipment per owner’s manual, this may include a partial water drain
  • Cover your pool if desired

Following these closing tips will keep you covered for the season and the benefits of the Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue® product is added security.

The Shock XtraBlue® product is a 6 in 1 shock with algae-killing crystals that does the following:

  • Kills and controls green, black and mustard algae
  • Kills bacteria
  • Clears cloudy water and removes swimmer contaminants (body oils, sweat and lotions)
  • Reduces chlorine odor
  • Improves filter performance
  • Won’t impact pH

This product is quick and convenient and available in an easy-open, easy pour resealable bottle, which makes it safe for households and easy to store.



Feng Shui Update 2011 – Year of the Rabbit

Feng Shui Year of Rabbit

Image (c) 2011 Sara Hawkins

As the Year of the Rabbit hopped in about a month ago, I got a sense that my world was no longer in harmony. Things didn’t feel right. I felt a bit off. Sure, part of it was my poor attempt to self-medicate. But there was more to it.

I no longer felt comfortable in my bedroom. I know some of that is due to CycleGuy living in the San Francisco Bay Area. But it’s something more that just missing him. The master bedroom seems like a black hole sucking my energy.

And I don’t want to spend any time in the formal living or dining areas. They became catch-all areas for papers, mail, deliveries, and all kinds of things. There was no longer the feeling of comfort and quiet that I used to feel.

Then there’s my office. It became my haven. A place to escape to and spend a lot of time. Since the bedroom wasn’t right, I’d stay up late working. Adding to my being tired.

My feng shui master, Lisa from Feng Shui Arizona, came over and went to work to get things back in balance and harmony. I didn’t tell her what was going on so I wouldn’t influence her work. And if she wasn’t spot on, I don’t know what to call it.

Fortunately, I don’t need a lot of fixes this year. Unfortunately, sleeping in my master bedroom is not good for me. Based on several feng shui principles that part of the house is harboring so much negativity for me it’s no wonder I haven’t been able to sleep well. And even more unfortunate, there isn’t much to fix it.  The negative energy in my bedroom this year is sickness. Ack! Just what I’m trying to cure with my homeopath, my bedroom is working against me! Good thing BabyGirl loves to sleep in my bed – now I just sleep in hers! It’s like camping.

In an attempt to protect me for this year, I have 3 pendants I wear. They’re in the photo at the top – a rat, monkey, dragon trio. I thought people would notice them and say something but so far no one has said a word. That’s what I love about feng shui. That it’s very natural and not attention grabbing.

I had to clean up the garage and I have a few other things to buy for the house – a new cactus, a clock with a second hand and a few things from Lisa’s store. I already added my happy cat, a mechanical waving cat which is the closest thing to a cat we’ll ever have in this house. And Lisa put more coins around the house and I placed the requisite bottle of water in the pantry and refreshed my jar of distilled water that sits in the backyard outside my bedroom window.

I’m looking forward to the positive energy levels returning and bringing Shalom Bayit (peace at home) back. Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit!

Have you felt places in your home no longer ‘feel right’? You might just be right!


5 Tips for Gearing Up For Spring Cleaning

Feather Duster

The other day I was looking for something and I became so frustrated having to dig through drawers and cabinets. I never did find what I was looking for. And after about 25 minutes I actually forgot what I was looking for because I had taken everything out of the cabinet to organize it. I also got so annoyed that I had all this stuff that I never use.

While it’s not officially spring, I figured not is the time to start thinking about spring cleaning. It’s a great time to purge my home of all kinds of things I no longer use and to organize cabinets and closets. As a clean freak it’s also a time for me to move things and vacuum and dust and wipe down areas that have been neglected for a few months.

I thought I’d share a few tips on how to make spring cleaning easier and, dare I say, fun. Now I don’t promise you that you’ll be begging to clean your neighbor’s house but you’ll probably have a better time than in the past.

1. Turn on music that gets you singing and moving.

2. Focus on one area or one thing. Don’t tackle everything at once. It’s was there yesterday, it’ll be there tomorrow.

3. Get all your supplies ready ahead of time. Make sure you have the right products for the job. Try using eco-friendly products to limit your and your family’s exposure to chemicals.

4. Dedicate a set amount of time. You don’t have to spend the entire day, or weekend, scrubbing and making your house shine ‘like the top of the Chrysler building’. Set out a reasonable block of time, and keep track of that time. You can easily end up spending all day cleaning, and then feel that you’re still not done. Be methodical but don’t get overly focused on minutiae.

5. Be methodical. Professional cleaners don’t circle a room cleaning here and there and back again. Clean one area then move on. Cleaning shouldn’t be a workout. Yes, it may be hard work but it shouldn’t be a gym substitute.

Make a plan and get things ready. In many parts of the country it’s still too cold and gloomy to take on spring cleaning. But once the sun is out and the days are gorgeous you won’t want to spend much time inside, much less using that time to clean. So get ready and plan some time to get cleaning! You’ll thank me when you’re out enjoying a nice spring day with your friends and family.

Do you have any tips that help you make the most of your spring cleaning?


Keeping Flowers Fresher Longer

Vase of Roses

Did you get a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for Valentines’s Day? Do you want to keep your Valentine’s Day flowers fresher longer? Here are a few tips:

1.  Fill the vase with fresh lukewarm water.

2. Cut the stems of each bloom at an angle with a sharp knife to allow more water to be absorbed.

3.  Place the vase out of direct sunlight in a cool non-drafty area.

4.  Refresh the water and trim the stems 1/2 inch every other day.

5.  In place of flower food, fill the vase with 1/2 water and 1/2 lemon-lime soda.  The sugar in the lemon-lime soda will feed the blooms and the acidity in the soda will keep bacteria at bay.  If you do not have lemon-lime soda, you can achieve a similar result by using a teaspoon each of bleach and sugar.

This is great to know so you can get the most out of your flowers, regardless of the occasion!


How Confidence Saved Me $170

Phoenix water isn’t known to be the tastiest or best. It’s actually ranked #53 in a recent study of Best City Water. And if you live in Phoenix or have ever been here and tasted the water then you know full well why I have a drinking water purification system.

When CycleGuy and I bought our house almost 13 years ago one of the first things we did was call Kinetico and have them come out and install a reverse osmosis (R/O) drinking water system and a water softener. Nothing too crazy for most Phoenix homeowners. Most people I know have an R/O system.

About every two year we’ve had the filters replaced. I’d call up the Kinetico people and have them come out. When we had the system installed that’s what they said to do. And so I did.

Remember, that was long before the internet. Well before it was posible to shop around and find some other company to do this same thing. Also, there is only one Kinetico authorized company in Phoenix.

Fast forward to last month. When our filters need changing our system stops. It won’t allow for water to continue to flow through if the filters can not do their job. Sounds like a great plan, huh. I think so. I don’t want to drink nasty water.

I went to the files and grabbed the invoice from the last time, getting ready to call. Then I saw how much I paid for the tech to come out for what amounted to about 15 minutes – $212! (pick up your jaw from the ground!)

Yes, in my foolish state I paid $212 for water filters. I was incensed! The filters were actually only $75, but the  trip charge was $125! One Hundred and Twenty Five Dollars! To come out to my house, turn two holders, take out the spent filter cartridges and put in the new ones. All in about 15 minutes. That’s the equivalent of $500/hr! I’m a lawyer and I don’t charge that kind of money. I must be in the wrong business.

This time, though, I said NO WAY! I’m smart. I can figure this out. So I pulled out my owners manual to find out what filters I need. But that wasn’t helpful. I was going to have to open up the cartridge holders. After about 30 minutes and spraying myself, under the sink, and half the kitchen with water I got the cartridges. Phew! It was not as easy as I thought it would be.

Thankfully the internet is full of all kinds of companies.  I found Water Filters Online and searched for my cartridges. It took me about 20 minutes. I checked and double checked and triple checked that I was getting the right filters. There are two filters of different size so I didn’t want to get the wrong one and my system not work.

The filters arrived in about a week and my crazy idea would be put to the test. Could I do this myself? And in the process save myself money? I knew I could. I believed that I’m smart enough to put in two water filters!

It took me about 10 minutes to get the water filters in and then figure out what I’d done to turn off the R/O system so I could turn it back on. If I’d remembered what I’d done to turn that contraption off it probably would have taken all of 3 minutes. But no! I’m there with my head under the sink turning all these turny-things hoping not to spray myself.

I DID IT! Once the air cleared the system I had water. Black water, but water nonetheless. I wasn’t worried about the black water because it’s a carbon filter and that’s normal. I knew that would happen.

An hour later and having spent only $45 I had clean drinking water again!  I was so proud of myself for believing I could do this. I’m relatively handy around the house. But I’d read the owners manual and the directions for changing the filter and it’s very confusing. I had watched them do this many times that I knew if I could find the filters I could probably do it. And if I couldn’t then at least I’d have the filters and they could just come change them out.

It sounds hokey, but a little confidence sure helps. Now, I had $170 extra money that I could use toward something else.

Do you think you can tackle a project and save a few bucks instead of calling a service person? I bet you can!

Disclosure: I paid for my own water filters. WaterFiltersOnline.com has no clue I have this fantastic blog. Lucky for you, you do!