Archive for the ‘Household Chores’ Category

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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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 to apologize – I started back to work last week after a summer off and found that putting up a daily blog post was getting to be harder than I thought.  Sometimes I can get to one during my lunch hour, but otherwise I end up posting when I get home from work and am dead tired and not entirely coherent!  I will keep trying, but if you don’t hear from me for a few days, I am just swamped.  Meanwhile, if you are a regular reader and enjoy my posts, shoot me a message to encourage me to keep it up.  My blog stats show that people are visiting my pages, but it would help to know that people are reading and actually finding my posts interesting or helpful.

Beautiful weekend here in the Midwest, if you like it on the cool side, which I do.  I am trying to get out into the garage each week to do a little decluttering.  I have set a goal to be able to pull one vehicle (the car I drive to work) into the garage before the first frost.  Last year I was scraping frost off the car each morning and that is pretty stupid when I have a perfectly good garage.

I have been going through a lot of things that have been dragging after me for 20 years or more and evaluating whether I really need to keep them.  Since I am a University professor, I am having a hard time parting with old engineering textbooks, but I have been trashing all the old notes from classes unrelated to my area of specialization.  I think I will cut down on some of the textbooks and notes I have kept eventually, but Peter Walsh suggests thinning the easy stuff first.  I have also destroyed boxes of old files related to my thesis research.  I have the theses themselves and have not had a need to go back to all my old notes ever since I graduated, so I figured I did not need them.

A few weeks ago, I started listing things on eBay that I knew I did not want, but that may have a bit of value.  I decided not to overwhelm myself, but to try to put up 3-5 listings each Sunday.  Sunday is a good time for me to spend the afternoon listing things (it takes longer than expected even though the process is MUCH easier than it was 10 years ago when I first signed up for eBay) and is a recommended time to have auctions close, since more people have time to surf eBay on a Sunday afternoon.  Before I spend a lot of time and listing fees putting things up, I do a search for completed auctions on similar items to get an idea if it’s worth the time and energy to list my items.

Last week, my first auctions closed and I got bids on 2 of 3 listings for a total of $26.  This week I have 7 listings up and currently have bids on 2 items totally about $60, but I hope they go a bit higher before they close.  I have a few things up for auction that I would not have expected to have any value and are doing quite well.  That is always a nice surprise.    Yesterday one of the shades of our kitchen pendant lamps broke (cheap pieces of junk, it turns out), so we’ve decided to replace them with nicer ones that unfortunately are also more expensive, so I’m hoping for some good eBay outcomes to help pay for those.

This afternoon’s task will be to find 5 more things out in the garage to list on eBay and also go through a few more boxes.  Slowly but surely I am making progress.  Let me know how you are doing.

Best regards,


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If you are a regular reader, you know that I have set a goal to clear out the clutter in our garage enough to pull a car in before the first frost.  Progress has been slow, but we keep chipping at it.  Yesterday, though it was quite hot, I spent about an hour out there going through boxes and trying to consolidate – things I want to keep, things I want to sell, and things I need to get rid of one way or another (trash or charity or Freecycle.)

My main goal was to start collecting anything I thought might have some value on Ebay and start getting things listed.  In particular, I wanted to gather up all the Nancy Drew and other series books, which have been packed in many boxes and were scattered all over the garage, and get them into decent lots for Ebay.  I think I did find them all, but before I start in on the Nancy Drews, I thought I would experiment this week and list some of the lesser known series, so I put up three auctions and we’ll see how they do.

I also realized that there are still about 6 heavy boxes of college textbooks and notes out there – most of which are mine – I think my husband already dealt with his.  As Peter Walsh says, treat them with respect or get rid of them.  Since they haven’t come out of their boxes in the 14 years I’ve lived here, I need to get rid of them.  I have already dug out anything I thought would be helpful for teaching the classes I teach now at the university, so my next task is to go through those boxes and junk the notes and give away the books.  I don’t think our library likes donated textbooks, so they’ll probably go on Freecycle.

The piles are getting smaller and I feel like I have a plan, so that keeps me motivated to keep at it.  How are you doing with your garage cleanout?  My husband cleared a huge amount of junk off the basement shelves in the last couple weeks, so once we do decide what to keep, we may actually have a place for it!  Then again, I am trying to reclaim my office and it sure would be nice to get all the Christmas decorations out of the office closet so I would have more room to organize craft supplies….

Will keep you posted.  Next week – daily pantry tips.

Best regards,


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As we continued our decluttering and cleaning this summer, we noticed the old wooden play set in the backyard.     With two teens in the house, no one has been on it much in the last couple years and the path out to it is overgrown with weeds.    My husband and I discussed what to do with it.  Pull it down and throw it out?  But aside from some discoloration of the plastic swings and slide, it was still in OK shape.  I said that first I would try putting it on Freecycle.

So yesterday afternoon I posted an offer of a free wooden play set to anyone willing to come take it apart and haul it away.  I thought I would be lucky if I got one or two responses.  Within an hour of the moderator approving my post, I had 8 emails in my mailbox!

The nice thing about Freecycle is that it is up to the person with the item to decide if they want to give it away first come, first serve or pick someone randomly, or whatever.  I generally go with first come, first serve, but try to avoid people who will be “no shows” or decide they don’t want the item.  Once I post it, I’d like to get rid of it quickly.

So I read through all the emails and was struck by one lady who said she had been looking for a play set for her son for over a year and she said they could pick it up in the morning, so I offered it to her first.  She emailed back right away and said how thrilled she was.

As promised, she arrived this morning with her husband, her boy (adorable), and a trailer.  They had it pulled apart and loaded in about an hour and I could tell her little boy was just tickled to have it.  Her kids are about the same age mine were when we put up the play set many years ago, so that was kind of cool.  I even found the instruction booklet in my files and gave it to them, though her husband seemed pretty handy and probably didn’t need it.

So our play set is gone in less than 24 hours since I first posted to get rid of it and to a really nice family to boot.  Now I need to think about what to do with the enclosed, sand-filled bed out in our woods where the play set used to stand.  It’s just a tiny bit sad to see the thing go since it signals the end of an era, but I’d rather have my clean yard and have someone actually using the thing.

I highly recommend your local Freecycle group for anything you need to get rid of that might still be useful to someone but may not be suitable or easy to donate to Goodwill or another charity.   I have found new homes for a surprising number of things that otherwise would have just been thrown out.   I have even given away a dozen of the plastic buckets that cat litter comes in.  They are handy for a lot of things, but one family can only use so many!

Look around your house and see if you have anything to Freecycle.   Because you usually handle things by email, you can respond in your own time, rather than having the phone ring off the hook, as happened to us when we put a “free” ad in the newspaper.

Best regards,


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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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