Archive for the ‘cleaning’ Category

Last night, preparing to welcome in 2011, I was pondering New Year’s Resolutions.  I still make them, though over the years I have learned to make concrete, do-able resolutions rather than broad sweeping ones like “get fit” or “get organized.”

In that vein, I started to contemplate.  I recently read some “best resolutions” in a magazine and one lady said she vowed to try 3 new recipes a week.  I thought, “that’s a bit too much, but what about one new recipe?”  Then I got to thinking, “I’d really like to clean my office out this year and make it more of a haven, but how to do that?  Maybe clean up and get rid of one thing a week?”  Could I do anything else, one thing at a time?  Eventually, my resolution crystallized into “one new thing.”  I plan to try to do at least one new thing per week this year.  It may be a new recipe or signing up for a cooking class or a new fitness move from a magazine.  Small or large, it doesn’t matter.

Then I thought a little further.  What would these new things do for me?  Hopefully they’d be good.  Maybe I should call it “one good thing.”  Then I thought, heck, good things happen every day, maybe I should resolve to take note of them.  That’s when I decided to go out today and pick up a  pretty journal to keep next to my bed and every night look back on the  day and make a quick note of the “one good thing” I could say about that day.  It’s not a gratitude journal, it’s just an acknowledgment that every day brings SOMETHING that’s good, no matter how tired and cranky and down we might feel sometimes.

Of course I will pursue “one new thing” as well.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?


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As school and work pick back up, I realized that I would have a hard time keeping up with the house cleaning.  We clean the kitchen regularly, at least wiping down counters and washing dishes every night, and I spend a little over an hour each weekend making sure all the bathrooms are clean (read about my bathroom routine here).  Laundry also gets done about once a week, with my son preferring to do his own, which cuts down on the number of loads I have to do.

But the one place we tend to fall down is when it comes to dusting, vacuuming, and dry mopping.  I usually wait until either we are having company, or it gets too gross to stand.  My spouse doesn’t like to do any of those chores any more than I do, but is bugged by it all the same, and suggested that we hire a cleaning lady or cleaning service.  In speaking to a friend, I found that a cleaning service would set us back at least a couple hundred dollars a month, and I really feel uncomfortable giving strangers keys to my house.  But what was the alternative?  I don’t mind doing SOME cleaning on the weekend, but I don’t want to blow my entire weekend doing more work!

My kids both get a fairly small allowance since we pay for most of their needs including gas for my son and the occasional movie or football ticket for my daughter.  My son makes extra money walking a neighbor’s dog, mowing the lawn, and picking up after our dog on a weekly basis.  My daughter always felt a little put out that she didn’t have a way to make extra money like her brother.  So, I thought, why pay someone else to clean my house when I can hire my daughter?  Some people might feel it should be a kids chore, either associated with allowance or not.  But I think they approach it a little more positively when it is something they choose to do to earn money, rather than something they are being forced to do as a chore.  Both kids understand that if they don’t do the job well, they’ll either have to redo it in order to get paid, or they’ll lose their job, just like in the real world.  We also have them deposit half their “pay” into a savings account so they can build up a nice nest egg for a worthwhile purchase, maybe a down payment on a car when they are a young adult.

So today I walked my daughter through her cleaning routine.  I will continue to do bathrooms and laundry, but she will be paid for a weekly cleaning of the family room, dining room, living room, and office.  Her tasks include dusting, washing all glass tables (we have 5!) and the glass on the front and back doors which the dog slobbers on, vacuuming the carpet, and dry mopping the hardwood floors.  Even in the training phase, it took her only about an hour.  She will be paid $10, half of which goes to the bank.  When she was done, I asked her if she thought it went ok and whether it was too hard, and she said it was fine.

So I am hoping this will work out.  My daughter is pretty diligent about most things, but has been known to decide things are a hassle and give them up a little easier than her brother, who watches the lawn like a hawk, willing the grass to grow so he can make a little extra money:).  Both kids know that if they put one of the jobs off too long, it will be done by a parent and then they won’t get paid.  Never been a problem with my son, so I am hoping it becomes a habit for my daughter.

For now, though, I have a new cleaning lady, and I feel good about helping my daughter learn some new skills and make some extra money.  A friend even suggested that if my daughter gets good at it, she might hire herself out to some neighbors who might not want or need the skills of a fully-fledged cleaning person.  We’ll see how things go in the next few months and then I might suggest that to my daughter.

Sigh, now if only I could convince a kid to go weed my flowers beds!

Wishing you a lovely weekend and a clean and organized house,



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It’s difficult but the destashing/decluttering continues and progress is being made.  Yesterday, after waffling a bit about the handspun yarn I had, I emailed the middle school art teacher to find out if she wanted it.  She was thrilled to have it so I grabbed the box that was stacked behind my chair and went digging in the closet to find two more. Hey, what are all those notebooks in the closet?  Log books from my soap making days.  I kept the most recent one (probably the most refined recipes) and tossed the rest in the trash on my way out the door to take the yarn to school.  I was not going to allow any time for second guessing!  It felt really good.

Today I went through 3 boxes of of fiber and yarn and posted them for sale on a Yahoo group for buying and trading fiber related stuff.  I did have to stop and fondle a particularly soft batch of wool and silk mix, but then reminded myself that I really don’t enjoy spinning anymore.

The piles are getting shorter and I am happy.  Just packed up a book I sold online – out of print and the lady is thrilled to find it and I am thrilled to send it off where it can be loved:).

Time to go work on dinner.  I bought a pork loin on sale and need to go turn it into the correct shape for pork stir fry.



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Yesterday I posted my grand plans for “a box a day….”  Seemed so simple, so straight-forward, and it is, but it does require a bit of an attitude adjustment.  Yesterday I tackled box #1, which held a bunch of framed pictures in 1980’s style frames, which seem a little garish now, along with things like patches from grade school summer camp, prints I had bought on vacation over the years intending to frame, and a big file with every piece of paper associated with my study abroad trip in college.

Pretty easy to go through really – study abroad papers trashed, pictures taken out of frames and frames designated for Goodwill.  I struggled a little with the prints, but realized that if they weren’t on my walls 20 years after purchase, they weren’t likely to go there anytime soon and don’t really fit my decorating style now anyway, so into Goodwill they go.  The patches were also a struggle, but I really have no use for them.  If I ever get around to scrapbooking my 1970’s era photos, they COULD go in the scrap book, but would make them lumpy so I am just going to let them go.

Today I moved on to the next box.  A box filled with handspun yarn from my days of spinning.  There are at least a half dozen boxes just like this one.  I really wasn’t an expert spinner and spun small varieties of stuff, so I really can’t sell it, but i am so through with fiber arts.  Now I am struggling where to donate it – I am not sure it is something that works for Goodwill.

I read an article recently describing several of the ways people think when they are trying to declutter.  One personality is the “perfectionist” – the person who has to find the optimum way to get rid of the thing, whether it’s to get the best price for it, give it to the right charity, or dispose of it in the most green way.  THAT IS SO ME!  It can be paralyzing.  I think I am going to email the middle school art teacher and ask if she has a use for the yarn.

Since I felt I hadn’t “dealt” with the yarn,  I went through a box of craft books and listed them for sale on a craft group.  If they don’t sell, off to the library, except the one that is out of print and likely to be worth a good $40-50.

So, I am making progress but it is a little hard going.  Let me know how you are doing.

Best regards,

Lynn Zentner

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Regular readers will recall that last summer I did set out on several decluttering attempts.  Made some progress, but still have way too much junk.  Last week, despite fighting a rotten cold for almost 3 weeks, I set out to clear a bunch of boxes out of the garage that have been there since our basement remodel 2 years ago.  We had a big outdoor bash this past Saturday and we had some concern that it might rain, so I set out to clean the garage so that the party could move in there if necessary.  Naturally, my cleaning resulted in a beautiful sunny day on Saturday and no need for the garage, but I am still glad I got to it.

There wasn’t much time to sort through things, so for the most part, I moved all the boxes that I needed to sort into my (very small) office.  They are now a towering wall behind my desk chair.  One of my summer goals is to turn my office into a relaxing oasis and I can’t do it with the wall of boxes behind me.  So yesterday I told my husband that my goal over the next couple of weeks is to go through a box a day and trash, donate, or sell whatever is in that box.  I started yesterday by listing 13 pounds of plastic tri beads for sale on the Yahoo group, AbandonedCrafts.  I used to make girls beaded socks to sell at Craft shows, but haven’t been to a craft show in years and my major client, my daughter, lost interest in the beaded socks years ago!  Today, my goal is to go through a box of old “desk stuff” that seems to have followed me around in that box since college.  If it hasn’t been on a desk in over 20 years, I think it’s time to get rid of it!

I figure that in about 2 weeks, I should have conquered the wall behind my desk.  I was recently given a gift card to Target and my reward for a clean office will be to use that gift card to replace something in my office with an object that better fits my “Oasis” theme.

Wish me luck!  By the way, I will surely be Freecycling some of this stuff.  I highly recommend you check out your local freecycle group (mine is on YahooGroups) for getting rid of things that may be usable by someone else, but may be something you can’t sell or drop off at a donation center.  Last week I was able to give away a nice oak fireplace mantel and surround as well as a gigantic piece of shower board that my husband had used as a dry erase board.  The people who picked the items up had a use for them and I was glad not to send them to the landfill.

Please join me in dejunking – try a box a day or even a box a week, if you are busy with work.  Just think, you could be 52 boxes lighter by this time next year!

Best regards,


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I’ve got the food storage blues this weekend.   We have a narrow storage area in our basement that we have filled with shelving.  I use about 30% of the shelving for longer term storage of non-perishables and things like cereal, crackers, noodles, etc.  I think of it as my own personal store.

Wednesday I was off work and went out for the last items we needed for Thanksgiving.  Since I was at Aldi’s, I did a bit of stocking up and brought home things like egg noodles, bran flakes, and graham crackers to put away in the basement pantry.  As I went to put the noodles away, I picked up the last bag of noodles on the shelf to move it to the front and noodles spilled all over.  Looking at the bag, I saw a ragged little hole that had clearly been made by little teeth – MICE!

I groused a bit and carried the bag upstairs to throw away.  My son is working on a physics project where he has to build a bridge out of spaghetti.  I went downstairs to check to see if we had any thick spaghetti.  Picking up the last bag of spaghetti off the shelf, and surprise, a jagged little hole in the end – the mice apparently love noodles.

OK, now I’m getting ticked.  A couple of dollars gone and I count on my food storage to be there when I need it.  Dug out a couple mouse traps and baited with peanut butter and set one on the shelf and one on the floor nearby.

Yesterday I go downstairs to check the traps and one is sprung, but no mousie caught.  I rebait the trap and start looking around at my shelves – could they have gotten into my cereal, my Cheezits, my crackers?  I have enough trouble keeping the kids out of my Cheezits and now I have to compete with the mice too??

I check the boxes and none are chewed.  Then I wonder about the 6 packs of Keebler cookies purchased at the Kroger mega event….

Pulling out the first bag, safe.  Pulling out the next bag – corner chewed, toss in trash.  Pull out the next bag of chocolate covered peanut butter wafers – not only is it chewed, but it is half empty!  Darn little mice must be rotund after that feast.  In all, 3 bags of cookies go in the trash – at least they only cost me about 25 cents each after coupons and the mega event.  So I pick a trap off the floor and set it on that shelf and pull all my favorite foods off the shelf and stuff them in a Rubbermaid tote.

As I wake up this morning I recall that I have several bags of leftover Heath Bars (our FAVORITE candy) left over from Halloween.  Oh no, the mice have gone after the crinkly packaging, did they get into my favorite candy??

Despite singing malicious little ditties about assassinating mousies, I knew I would feel guilty when I actually caught one.  I went downstairs this morning and one trap was still unsprung but completely licked clean of peanut butter.  The licker on the other trap was not so lucky – one plump mousie gone to great mouse beyond.  And I did feel guilty.  And a little sick.  But less so when I did indeed find a bag of Heath bars nibbled.  They couldn’t go after the Twix, which I do not love quite as much as Heath.  These mice are sugar hounds.  They even got into a bag of Splenda – yuk.

So there are now 3 new traps set for tonight.  I have whatever I can put into storage bins.  I hate to go after any living creature, but I can’t have them in my house nibbling on my food storage.  I kind of hope it was just the one guy.    We’ll see tomorrow.  For now, I’ve got the food storage blues….  In the future, may need to hire a cat….

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I have been working on my pantry lists and will post those soon.  But today I want to comment about how our home decluttering is going.  Last week, my daughter finally got around to cleaning her room – something we’ve been asking her to do for a while.  She is a bit of an odd bird in our family – because of her sometimes impish behavior, we occasionally tease her that we found her under a car at the hospital after a band of pixies left her there.  But sometimes I am more convinced that she is the long lost love child of Peter Walsh and Niecy Nash!    You see, everyone else in the house has packrat tendencies to varying degrees, but my daughter, while not always the neatest person in the world, regular goes through clothes and belongings and purges what she no longer wants.   She doesn’t seem to develop the kind of sentimental attachment to things like the rest of us do – when she is done with something, she is done with it.   Every two months or so, I come into my bedroom to find a mountain of things on my bed that she has purged for Goodwill.

So it was no surprise that while cleaning, she decided to do a major purging.  She decided she was done with her toy chest full of stuffed animals, so we hauled that out of her room and she now has space for her guitar and saxophone, both of which she practices regularly.   Her interest in stamping and scrap-booking has waned, so out rolled a sterite cart full of supplies.  Unfortunately I have not entirely abandoned interest in those crafts, so that cart rolled down the hall into my office to at least be sorted through.   I did go through it a bit already and found alot of old grade school supplies that my kids have outgrown but are still in good shape.  I will ask the 2nd grade teacher across the street if she can use them.  Otherwise, I’ll try to give them away on FreeCycle.  We certainly don’t need 5 bottles of mostly full Elmer’s School Glue anymore!

My daughter also took the time to go through her clothes and filled a bag with cast offs as well as another bag full of old toys, books, and knick knacks.  She even gave up a pretty doll given to her by a dear former neighbor – my daughter knows what most adults are still figuring out – she didn’t need the doll, which was collecting dust and didn’t fit in with her vision for her room, to treasure her memories of our neighbor, who moved away several years ago and who was like an adopted grandmother to my daughter.

I was able to lock my dear Roomba vacuum in her room the other day for a couple hours and let it have free run of the floor, getting in the first good vacuuming that room has seen in quite a while.  I can do the same in the dejunked and staying that way master bedroom.  Daughter is enjoying being able to work at her desk and sit in her easy chair again.   I am enjoying being able to walk in and drop off laundry without tripping over things.

Meanwhile, yesterday I noticed that my dear spouse was no where to be found until I heard lots of noise from the basement storage area.  He continues to go through the accumulated office junk on some of the storage space down there – some things that have not been taken out of boxes since we moved here almost 14 years ago!  The garbage can is filling fast as is the pile for Goodwill.  I will load the van today and take a load over tomorrow.  They have inspired me to do some work in the garage today.  My first goal is to get the donation pile loaded into the van and then bring in a load of Nancy Drew books to list on EBay.  I looked the other day and it looks like they may be worth a little bit, so I will try selling rather than donating them.  If I have time after that, I will do a little more sorting in the garage.

All this dejunking also makes you think of keeping things clean around the house.  We regularly sit at the little cafe set on the front porch, but I have been bugged for at least a week at the cobwebs under my chair.  So today I hauled everything off the porch and hosed it off, then swept and hosed off the porch itself.  It will make sitting out there alot nicer and probably took less than a half an hour.

It’s a beautiful day out, but it will be even nicer if you can clear some junk out.  Join me in doing some dejunking today.  Let me know how it goes.

Best regards,


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