Friday, October 21, 2011

continuing the saga of cleaning

You know how some people are really great at cleaning and organizing and list making? They make a detailed list of everything that needs to be cleaned and actually DO IT?

When I start to read those lists (even my own ones that aren't as long) I feel like this. OVERWHELMED.
When I do actually make a list even a really really basic one that doesn't make me feel like that, I tend to forget where I put the list or even if I remember where it is I will forget to look at it.

BUT this is the first week (probably ever) where I've actually made a plan for cleaning and house things and actually did it all!
So, for any of you creative types like me who have a hard time being consistent and keeping up with those little cleaning things (that really are easier if we keep on top of) perhaps my new strategy will help you too.

Rather than having a list I thought up some things for each day that will help me remember what to do. The first day MONDAY is just sort of to get caught back up over the weekend. I couldn't really find a picture that fit perfectly, but I call this one "the bad weekend"... and what do you do on Monday?

It's "Make up Monday" ... which almost always means (for me) doing something extra in the kitchen. All the dishes that I didn't keep up with or all the bags of stuff that I didn't unpack from an outing. Essentially, it's anything that you need to clean up that you didn't get around to... it could be the little things you haven't done in forever (like wiping out the fridge or microwave) or it could be something else. Note: whatever you do it's not to do EVERYTHING you haven't done! And do NOT do the things that you've already planned for the other days this week. There are other days to do a little more or extras here and there too... so don't kill yourself. Just catch up enough to make you feel like you aren't drowning from the weekend anymore. The point is to at least do one thing. Obviously you can do more if you feel like it, but this plan is all about doing a little bit at a time.
Tuesday is a triplet -- "Toilet, Tub, Trash Tuesday" .. Clean the toilet and tub and empty out all those little trash cans all over the house. This week I hadn't done the toilets in quite a while so I didn't get to the tub, but that's okay! Next week I'll spend more time on the tub and less on the toilets. It's all about a little bit each day NOT about spending a crazy amount of time on ALL the details ALL the time. Find the balance that works for you.
Wednesday is "Water plants Wash Windows Wednesday" I was always forgetting to water my house plants and just barely keeping them alive with how much I watered them. I'm hoping they will actually grow a bit now. And, if I keep up with this I might even let myself get some orchids that I've wanted for so long! Oh, and the "wash windows" part for me includes mirrors, but again it's not about doing ALL and EVERY window and/or mirror. It's about balance and doing the things that need it the most and spending less time on the things that don't. Next week you can give some extra attention to the things that you skimmed over this week.
Thursday is "Dusty Thursday" or "Thirsty Thursday" .. at least that's how I remember to dust. Again, dust the things that need it. The ceiling fan might really need it one week and the bookshelf might need some extra attention another week, or if you have a lot of rooms in your house you can focus on the main room or big dust catchers and then rotate the other rooms. Depending on how dusty things are you might need to do a quick vacuum or sweep as well to pick up the dust bunnies. I like this feeling of flexibility because if I feel like cleaning more then I will and if I only have time for the very basic things like wiping off the piano and TV then so be it. No guilt. Any progress is going to be better then doing nothing!
Friday is "Floors Friday" -- for me this means mopping and vacuuming. This week I vacuumed on Thursday though (because the dusting had gotten backed up and it needed it) so I focused my attention to mopping. I didn't clean the floors upstairs though since it took so long to do the floors down here, but that's all right because next week I can just do a quick mop and spend some more time cleaning the floors upstairs and in the bathrooms.

My every day cleaning is doing dishes and vacuuming and sweeping the main rooms as needed and laundry is done as needed too. I don't like having one laundry day because I can't get it all done in one day as easily as just doing a load a day for a few days in a row as needed. Just remember to fold and put things away right away and it will be easy. I used to have a big laundry day and it would take SO long to fold and put everything away.. like two hours it seemed. NOT anymore! Now that it's spread out I just have to spend 15 or 20 minutes total on laundry for the day.

I've finally gotten myself to the point where I don't think over and over how much I HATE emptying the dishwasher or folding clothes. I've "owned it" and can do these things with virtually no pain now! That's what habits do, they make something that used to take a lot of thought and attention and turn it into second nature and easiness.

Come up with your own catchy phrases to remember what you want to do each day and the habits you want to work into your life!

Here's mine again to give you a starting point..

"Make-up Monday"
"Toilet, Tub, Trash Tuesday"
"Water plants Wash Windows Wednesday"
"Dusty Thursday"
"Floors Friday"

And you will have a SPECTACULAR Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

More organizing!

The new dress up area!!!
...necklaces ready to make any girl look fabulous!
Anyone can add a little rod to their kids room! I needed this so that they could learn to put their clothes away instead of leaving them all over the floor. I will be installing some hooks for them as well for jammies and other clothes that don't go back on the hangers (My girls change their clothes so often throughout the day that it's a bit silly to teach them to put stuff in the laundry when it's not even dirty.)
My lovely unfinished wardrobe/office thing that I found at a thrift store now has shelves! And thus, is organized the way I want it now too. I hope to have it stained before Thanksgiving.
This is a bit random, but our tea wasn't fitting in our cupboard very well so I got a shower thing from the dollar store and turned it into a storage rack for our tea.
Okay, THIS idea was not mine! I got it off of Pinterest (Here are my pins in case anyone wants to check them out.) I am SO excited about Pinterest and all the ideas that I'm getting through other people. It's such a great way to organize my thoughts too. I pinned some of my favorite things and then they were all in a file for me to see (outside of my head) and sort through what I really liked. Great for homeschooling too! I'm going to be going back through my pins for those homeschooling project ideas as well.

All this project entails is clothes pins, hot glue, and bamboo sticks (or any stick.) I got a bunch of four bamboo sticks at the Dollar Tree (along with a big pack of wood clothespins) hot clued them to the bamboo and tied some twin (that I already had) to the ends. For 2 bucks I made a lovely way to display my kids art that is so much better than just taping them to the wall or fridge. It just looks more organized this way and didn't take long to do. When we run out of space I'll simply move their art to their own notebooks and hang more.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Toasting marshmallows!

Our dessert tonight was toasting mini marshmallows over a candle!
The girls loved doing it AND eating them
Add a chocolate chip and we've got some super yummyness here. For those of you who aren't gluten free, let me suggest some vanilla wafer cookies to make a sandwich?
Renna didn't toast them much, but she enjoyed eating them.
It took a few minutes to do it really well and not like the poor thing on fire.
Over all it was a big hit! Lily wants to do it tomorrow. :}

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Decorating and my style

I've been trying to figure out what I really like. For too often I just sort of got used to making the things that I have work. I'd recover or paint them, but they didn't really reflect what I really like. So now (while I'm still not spending much money) I want to focus on which things I truly do appreciate with colors and styles. I was borrowing a rocking chair and needed to get my own eventually. I found this little gem at a thrift store. The comfort level is pretty good and I LOVE the style of the arms and rockers.. it just hits me right when I sit on it. Cost? $24.24. (Why don't they just say $25?) Anyway, I'd originally only wanted to spend 20 on it and you don't know how I stressed over the 4.24 "over".... when I talk about "spending a lot" my perspective is probably quite different than most of you out there.
So, I FINALLY decided to go and get it. I was already thinking that I'd recover it since the fabric colors weren't my favorite. Well, I already had this red fabric. It was an impulse purchase off a fabric clearance rack. I almost NEVER do that. You only buy something that you have a plan for, right? Well, this red fabric was going to be a project. Every time I looked at it I just melted with it's beauty. I've decided recently that rather than stress over things that "match" I need to just go for what I absolutely LOVE and THEN figure out how to make it all "go together".. right.. so I stayed up late last night and put this new fabric over the chair. (Also tightening in some screws and so on.)
It's actually quite a few layers. Some extra padding and a red under the top fabric (which is a netting sort of fabric and is see through.) I sewed it all on by hand because that was the easiest way for me to do it. Took 4 hours... just a couple movies. No big deal. :}
I love red for an accent!
Speaking of style and stressing out. I've always LOVED cobalt blue fancy glassware of all kinds. I found these glasses at the "Dollar Tree" and at first didn't get them. I loved them, but worried that they didn't go with my glasses or the colors that I already had. You know what I realized? I like a few random colors thrown into the mix! The blue feels so festive and fancy! It's perfect for special occasions and that's what they are for. :}
I got this highchair for a shower gift, but it's just so awesome that I had to post a picture. :}
I found this red vase at a thrift store for under $2! I will use it as a vase of course, but it's pretty just as decoration as well.
A fan that I got at the fair this year for like.. $4 I think... it's not real wood (plastic) but is fabric and not paper! I love love LOVE fans. I actually got this to keep in my purse and use, but it's been cool enough here now that I didn't think I'd need it till next year. Oh, and notice something in my mirror there? .....
TWIGS! I've been watching a lot of episodes of "clean house" and getting design and organizing ideas and they use sticks a lot. I thought it looked neat and I found that cobalt blue vase at a thrift store for $2.50 or so and the sticks were from the Dollar Tree! (My two favorite stores apparently.) ;] It took 7 bundles to fill this large vase.. I probably would have been fine with 5 or 6 but I like how it turned out! I see it in the corner there every time I come up our stairs.
I've been working on a crazy quilt for about a year now (from the fabrics that I got at the bridal shop back in the day when I was a seamstress there.) I was trying to decide what color sashing I'd like around the blocks. Black? Red? Cobalt blue? Aqua? hmm.. how about ALL of them! Don't worry, it will be awesome! I'm excited now and want to finish it, but at the same time I don't want to finish it because I LOVE embroidering on it! I've decided that when I'm done with this I'll just have to start on pillows and throws and purses or something since I enjoy doing it so much. :}
Oh, the last thing about "style and decorating" is my $5 rug. You have no idea how much I can stress about spending $5. The rug I had in here before was so old that Lily said she wouldn't walk on it, but now I wash my dishes and make dinner in my tiny little kitchen and look down at my rainbow rug and it just makes me happy!

The point of all this for me is.... to be able to enjoy what I have and what God has given to us. I know I'm talking about getting "new" things, but none of them are high priced things by any means. I was so used to just figuring out what I "could" do with something to make it look good that I forgot to choose things that I liked already. I've learned that in the long run it costs less to choose things that I really will like. Add that to my "making things work" attitude and it's easy to not spend a lot yet still get a fabulously decorated house (well... a real designer might not like it, but as long as WE do then it's all good.) :}

Anyway, it's been fun to figure this out. Organizing and decorating is like an intricate puzzle to me. I like to figure it out and put all the pieces in the right spots to function and look the best. Being in a small place is a challenge, but I keep going back to the thought that it CAN all work great... I just need to figure out how to do it. :}

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Organizing the kids stuff!

Here I am -- organizing everything AGAIN. But.. it get's better each time! I'll give you the run down.

What did I do? Picture labels so the girls can learn to put away and organize their own toys, and a way to organize their art and memories!

The locked closet idea is still in place for things like their dress up box for one (because that is a terror to clean up at random moments that they decide to dump it all out... so.. it comes out only upon request.) But I wanted to have some more things out in their room that they could learn to clean up and put away on their own.
How did I do it? I took pictures of the "sets" of things that were going to go in each tub. The picture above has toys that all sort of "go together" so I taped the picture on a little tub from the dollar store, filled it with those toys, and put it on their shelf.

I also have a basket for each girl (from the dollar store) that goes on our stairs. I taped their name to their own basket and I can fill it with the toys that they leave downstairs. Well, at the end of the day I can help them learn to put their own things away (ALL the way away! Into the containers and with the lids CLOSED and so on.) This is a super great habit to help them develop.

The next thing that I did was take all their art off the walls in my dining room. The visual "clutter" was just getting to me, and I needed to make some white space. I got a couple three ring binders at Walmart (under $2 each) and bought some page protectors (I think it was like 25 for 3.50 or something) and took down their art and asked them which ones they wanted to keep and which they wanted to throw away. The ones that they wanted went in their albums!
The other use for these notebooks is that they are not "scrapbooks" as well. When the girls want to scrapbook with me I just have to print out a picture for them (or choose from the stash that I've saved for them) and they can glue and add stickers onto the pages that they already painted or colored.
Lily enjoyed this and I think they will enjoy their art even more with pictures and memories attached to them too!