Monday, July 8, 2013

When life happens, just add vinegar!

I've been avoiding  post for this simple reason:  life has been happening!  We have had so many stressors lately, including a move after only being in a rental for 6 months.  In addition, we had friends coming for a visit for the 4th of July holiday.  Whew!  My heart still flutters thinking about all that work to do. I really felt the bitterness in my mouth over this situation, much like vinegar.

We spent the final two months in that rental trying to find housing for our family of seven.  Nothing could be found!  There was nothing larger than a two bedroom in the paper, on Craigslist, through friends, and even advertising in the paper for a rental.  We really were afraid we'd have to resort to moving into our Airstream with five kids.

Now, I know, what an adventure to live in a camper, but the cost of doing that were far greater than renting a home.  This might be a great, cheap adventure for a couple with no children, but we couldn't weed through the cost..  It would cost extra to grocery shop every other day or so, instead of shopping for a month at time, and the laundry!  Fifteen loads of laundry a week, at about $8 a load in the laundromat, would have been a huge expense.  So we prayed and prayed and then prayed some more.

Then on the first week of June (we had until the 30th to get out), we got a lead that actually panned out.  In fact, that week, we had three different offers for houses to rent.  Unfortunately, this house was a mess, but seemed like the best option for us.  It had dogs living in it before we came.  There wasn't a room in the house that didn't have fecal matter in it, not to mention the horrid smell. The landlord, hadn't even begun to clean up the house.  We negotiated a lower rent in exchange for the labor of clean, painting and fixing the house back up.

Well, it's almost been a month, since we've started, and I have to say, I'm not exactly sure it was worth it.  I am extremely thankful to have a roof over our heads and we were even able to keep our chickens.  I have spent countless hours trying to get dog urine and poop out of carpets, walls, and decking.  My best find for all the cleaning?  Vinegar!!!!  I can't believe after all the different things we tried, spraying everything, including carpeting with straight vinegar has been the solution!
 Here is just an example of what my decks look like.  These stains are actually in the sunroom, that enters into the house.  It has no ventilation, so when you would walk into the front door, you almost passed out from the stench!  Be thankful, this isn't scratch-n-sniff!  It was so bad my kids would cover their faces with their shirts to get in the house!
We borrowed a power washer from a friend and spent an entire 8 hours spraying all the decks down.  It got better, but it was still pretty smelly!  I honed it down to this area by the front entryway, poured a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water on it and scrubbed it in with a brush.  Then I waited for it dry.  Miracle of all miracles!  It doesn't smell anymore.  Don't mind our clutter, but you can see that is much better.  I can't help those spots where the boards have been damaged, but it looks and smells a hundred times better.  I found this great rug at a rummage sale for $9, so I put that to cover some of the nasty look of it.  
I can't begin to tell you about the plumbing problems and other projects to do in this house.  It seems like when one thing gets fixed, another breaks.  Oh well, such is life I guess.  I'm just thankful to be with my family under the same roof.  The moral of the story is when things seem really bitter and bad, just add vinegar to clean it up!

How have you handled less than desirable rental properties?  How do you get landlords to bring them up to better standards?  I'd love to hear your ideas on the subject!.