Monday, February 29, 2016

AT Cleaning Report, Week 4. Days 22-29: Hit and Miss.

I like following lists. I like making check marks beside the task completed. I love the feeling of accomplishment. But a list--especially a list from an expert--does so much more. It makes me feel in control. I feel like everything is going to be all right --cos I'm doin' the list.

But an odd thing starts to happen. If the list doesn't meet my needs, I struggle. Should I modify the list? Would changing this task for that one be OK? If my day is really busy, can I just double up the next day? How much can I fiddle with the list until chaos begins to reign again? That's the real question.

And what about  things which I can see need to be done--but they are not on the list? What about that? Do I do them--or do I stick to the list? Again, how much can I mess with the list before things start to get out of control?


22. Surface clean bedrooms
Instead of doing this, I did the next day's assignment. As you can see I grappled with the questions of the sanctity of the list right away. I decided--my stairs really needed a good sweeping!

23. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house
I did this on the 22nd, as I mentioned. I do not sweep my floors nearly often enough.

I actually skipped doing housework on the 23rd, and the 24th. I did these tasks on the 25th.

24. Clean linen closet, straighten towels, sheets or regular closet if not applicable

Yay! I found a big bottle of soap I'd forgotten I had. We need it, too. Wasn't much to do in here, really.

25. Surface clean living room and kitchen
10 minutes in the kitchen barely made a dent, but it all counts!

So, I did three assignments, today. The bedroom, the linen closet and the kitchen/living room. I found myself wanting to continue. When I went into the bathroom--I noticed the basin needed a wipe down. I debated with myself. I decided the point of the list wasn't the list--but a clean house I enjoy spending time in. Since I had five minutes--I wiped it down.

26. Deep clean kitchen (scrub appliances, wash trash cans, base boards, wipe down and straighten cabinets)
I skipped this one. I did this not too long ago.

27. Surface clean bathrooms
Done. Both.

28. Surface clean bedrooms

now if I can just remember to wipe off the lens before I take a pic!

Done. Again. My bedroom has never been so clean for so long! And great news--my daughter cleaned her room!

29. Clean one item you've been meaning to get to and haven't (deep clean your stove, wipe down all light fixtures, tackle a particularly unruly area)
I am skipping this one, since there are only 29 days this month and doing the next task instead.

30. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house

Hubs did the vacuuming, I swept.

As I write this up to post--I'm looking around me and it is odd. For some reason--for someone who has been cleaning her house all month (almost) --I have a pretty messy house. Things are out of control. It's pretty crazy that I can spend more than 2 hours a week cleaning my house--and still be ashamed to let anyone through the front door.

But honestly? There's no mystery. This is not a plan for people like us. There is no provision for people like me, my husband and my children who don't always clean up a mess right away, put things back where they belong and generally tidy up after themselves. We don't do those things. We're messies.

This plan doesn't allow for messies.

I need the ten minute tidy back in my life.

I also need to commit to doing the dishes (and cleaning the kitchen) every night before bed.

Then a list like this might make sense. So, I'm going to do both, next month. I'm going to tweak things just a bit and we'll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me through this experiment.

If you'd like to see how we rocked this list throughout the month, check out these posts:

The AT Cleaning Report Week 1: A (Very) Partial Success
At Cleaning Report, Week 2. Days 8-14
The AT Cleaning Report, Week 3: Days 15-21

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Friday, February 26, 2016

A Project at Mom's: Tool Organization. A Job Well Begun... a job half done.

When I last talked about this little project, I mentioned that this window needed to be properly sealed up. Unfortunately, it proved beyond my meager capabilities. I had plans which involved insulation and cardboard and plastic--but, in the end, it wouldn't have been mouse proof. Mom's handyman said he could seal it up with a plywood board--so I am going to let him do that.

But, meanwhile, we need a place to put the tools!

It really only took a couple of hours to go from this:

to this:

as you can see, because of the ductwork, I couldn't use the last shelf. I could not move it to the left either as other pipes were in the way as well.

I labeled all the containers so it will be easy to get things out--and, hopefully, return them.

I haven't actually seen my mother in about six weeks, so this was a fun little project to do together.

We need to organize all the screws and hooks and table legs and drapery hardware and the other one and a half million things she has. But one step at a time. We need to make room, first.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

AT Cleaning Report, Week 3. Days 15-21

So, I'm still at it. I'm following this cleaning schedule from AT and blogging about how it is and isn't working for me.  It promises I can complete each task in 20 minutes a day.

Sometimes that's true--but mostly it isn't.

Here's what happened last week.

15. Surface clean living room and kitchen (pick up stray items, dust, sweep, vacuum)
In my house, it will be impossible to do both these rooms in just 20 minutes. I went back to the original list and started reading through the comments. I discovered the creator of this list also spends 20 minutes a day cleaning her kitchen. So, in that context, this makes more sense. 
I vacuumed the living room rug--and then I got on my hands and knees and started scrubbing it. Not what was intended, I'm sure! But I am still deep cleaning the living room from last week.

In order to clean the surfaces in the kitchen, I did the dishes three? four? times. I also wiped down the counters and stove and swept the floor.

16. Deep clean bathrooms (clean inside drawers, inside of trash cans, tops of mirrors, tile, mop)
True Confession time: I didn't do a thing. Cleaning the tile is going to take hours and I just couldn't face it today.

17. Clean all door knobs, phones, entertainment equipment (remote controls), switch plates, banisters and other things that are repeatedly touched.

I have NEVER done this. Why aren't we all sick all the time?

Speaking of sick, I took the day and went to see a doctor about the pain in my hips. He diagnosed arthritis in my lower back and both hips. Then he sent me for x-rays and prescribed an non-steroid anti-inflammatory. I am also doing my best to stay away from sugar.

18. Clean out the refrigerator, take stock of food, organize pantry
Well, I cleaned the fridge on the 15th.  I was scheduled to work a really long day today.

19. Clean entryway, sweep porch (if you have one), clean out car (because they're often our home away from home)

I cleaned the back steps (because why not? They were dirty) and vacuumed the front hall carpet.

20. Surface clean living room and kitchen (pick up stray items, dust, sweep, vacuum)

Good heavens, again?

Oddly enough, both rooms needed far more than just a surface clean. Since my husband was thoroughly ensconced in the living room, I decided to tackle the kitchen.

It was a disaster.


I worked on it until I figured it was at the point where a ten minute "surface clean" would be appropriate.

And yes, ten minutes is plenty when all you have to do is wipe down the stove, table, and counters and sweep the floor. I even had a minute to put out a clean table runner.

I carried on and mopped the floor, wiped down the cabinets, and washed every last dish I could find--including the coffee maker!

It was wonderful!

21. Surface clean bathrooms
Interesting. The downstairs bath really needed the floor mopped.

Right on schedule.

Next week will be the last week. Will I carry on after that? We'll see.

In case you want to read more in this series, you can.

AT Cleaning Report, Week 1. A Very (partial) Success.
At Cleaning Report, Week 2. Days 8-14

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Week 5. Cleaning The Bedroom: The Joy of Habits and Routine

This last week, the challenge at A Bowl Full of Lemons was to declutter and clean the master bedroom.

It was basically a free week.

I cleaned the room within an inch of its life during the January Cure--rotating the mattress, changing the linens--I even took the curtains down and washed them.

Since then, I've been following the 20 minute task for 30 days cleaning schedule from AT: and because of it, I've cleaned the mirrors and the inside of the window. I've also changed the sheets, dusted and swiffered twice. Each. The bedroom has never been so clean! The only thing I did especially for this challenge was to wash the sofa cover and pillow covers on this couch. (It's essentially the dog's bed.)

But I also have a daily routine which I've developed over time--and it keeps the bedroom humming along pretty well.

It starts when I go to bed--and it starts with this chair.

I love this old chair. I found it almost exactly like this at a flea market. Chris has had to reglue the legs back on more than once.

The purpose of this chair might surprise you.

It is not for sitting. It is much too frail for that.

This chair is for my clothes.

I usually just drape my clothes over the seat. I'll hook my bra onto the back. My PJ's are right there--hanging on the back of the bedroom door.

In the morning, after hitting the alarm, I put on my slippers--and leave the room. I don't come back until it is time to get dressed--and that's when the magic happens.

I make the bed.

I really enjoy making my bed. It's a simple thing to do: it's quick and it makes me happy twice over: Right when I make it, of course--and then when I come back to it hours later and crawl in.

After I make the bed, I get dressed. (Sometimes it is the other way around--like when I'm wet and wearing a towel after my shower.) Either I put on the clothes on the chair--or I put on new ones. But I tidy up the chair. The clothes have aired--either it is time to put them away--or throw them in the hamper.

I have one drawer in this chest.

and all the drawers in this chest.

Then, I putz about and pick up any trash on the floor. (The dog pulls it out of the basket.) I hang up our pj's (unless, rarely, hubs has hung his up already).

I put in my earrings.

My daughter made this colourful piece and I love it! This is the best way I know how to make it useful.

Then, I gather up any extra water glasses or other dishes, grab my socks and book if I'm working that day, and then leave to do my make up.

It's a little tidying routine--kicked off by making the bed.

Unless my husband is in it.

My husband has been home since January 11th with vertigo. He's often still in bed when it is time for me to get dressed. So, I can't do my little bedroom routine.

In fact, that's how I became aware it is not just a routine--but a habit. I haven't been able to do it --and I've noticed! I've missed it.

I'm not sure when I started this little routine--it's been years--so I can't tell you how long it has been since it became a habit. I am just grateful it is--and I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been prevented from being able to do it.

Funny that it works that way.

Next in the series is the Master Closet. Again, thanks to AT, I don't have much to do there, either.

Previous Posts in this series:

Week 3: The Dining Room is Cleaned
Week 4: The Launch Pads (or Entryways).

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

40 Bags in 40 Days: Days 3 to 6. The Bunny, the Comic Books and other Difficult Decluttering Decisions.

Preamble: I have decided to participate in an on-line challenge to rid myself of 40 bags in 40 days. I am interpreting 40 bags as a metaphor for simply decrapifying and decluttering. I am focusing on my basement. Yes. Again. Shut up.

Here's my progress report.

Day 3: The Bunny Saga, Comic books and a Mop.

Before he was my husband, Chris gave me this stuffed bunny. Stupidly, in a phone call (and on Valentine's Day, no less) I told him we were pregnant with our first child. Well! As soon as he got off work he hit the stores...looking for a Raggedy Anne or Andy. Of course he couldn't find one--but he did find this.

But he was over two hours late for our Valentine's Day plans and I was livid. I told him what for!

And then he presented me with Mr. Bunny. With the tag on his ear.

Ever since, whenever I'd look at the bunny, I'd wince. I have kept it out of guilt and shame for nineteen years.

I discovered it in the basement, in a box. I talked to my husband. Brought up that day. Asked Chris if he minded if I let it go.

He thought I already had.

(p.s. As a result of working all this through--it's no longer an emotionally charged bunny. It is just a stuffed, dusty, dirty bunny. I'd like to wash him up and donate him to Ronald McDonald house, if they'll take him.)

Er. Scratch that. I had the bunny out to take these photos of it--and my son asked about it.

"Don't you know about the bunny, Ben?"
(He is my first born.)

"You never told me the story of the bunny."

"I've never told you the story of the bunny? Your father gave that to me when I told him we were expecting you. It was Valentine's Day. I've had him for 19 years. Read the tag."

"'I love you Mommy.'"

"I'm going to give it away--unless you want it?"

He wants it.

I asked him if I could keep the tag. He said no. "It's part of history," he said. And off he went with it.

Well then.

I found two large, barely manageable boxes of Chris's comic books. It will be a huge project to get rid of them as he wants to make whatever money is to be had from them.

from Box 1:

from Box 2:


For instant gratification: I took this mop out of my closet (I've already bought--and used! its replacement). I chucked it into the dumpster at work.

Day 4: Emptying out the plastic drawers.

Tedious. Full of scrapbooking odds and ends. I wonder if I'll ever scrapbook again?

 Day 5: The Picture Shelf

This was a lovely half hour project.
Frames were everywhere.

the donate pile:

Day 6: Decluttering Difficulties

My head is going to explode. Too many things to take away!

Here are things I am trying to sort out how to get rid of:

1. perfectly good plastic storage containers (and cardboard file box without a lid).
2. Children's table. Well loved.
3. Kitchen chair. Gah, I loved that set. Last one left.
4. Rocking chair I got at a garage sale for $20. I enjoyed it for years.

1) Should I schlepp some of it to my Mother? (if she wants them.)

2) Should I sell them? For what? List for them for free, maybe?

4) Perhaps I should take the things to the end of the driveway and put a "free" sign on them. Oh wait. It's just a puddle the size of a pond out there.

5) Schlep them to Value Village. (Ugh. Loading up the Jeep. Unloading the Jeep.)


The basement is beginning to look simply amazing.

If you care to read more, check out these links:
Introduction:  The 40 Bag Basement.
Day 1: Clearing the Decks
Day 2: I Can See the Table!

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

The AT Cleaning Report, Week 2. Days 8-14

As most of you already know, one of my biggest challenges in life is cleaning. It is a repetitive, thankless task without lasting payoff.

Checklists (and blogging about them) help. When I finished the January Cure, I wanted a way to keep the house clean--so I decided to use this cleaning schedule from AT. It promises I can complete each task in 20 minutes a day. Sometimes that's true--and sometimes it isn't.

Here's what happened last week.

8. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house (don't forget stairs)

To get it done in 20 minutes, I broke a sweat running around the house like a madwoman with the broom in hand. I switched to the swiffer to do our bedroom--changed the little dusting cloth twice, it was so bad.

9. Surface clean bedrooms

I had no idea what this meant. It shows up a couple more times this month, too. I decided it meant I should put away a few clothes, make the bed and dust. This time.

10. Deep clean living room (mirrors, baseboards, dust artwork)

This was my assigned weekly task for the Spring Cleaning Challenge hosted by a Bowl Full of Lemons. And, as it was a day off, I took the day--never mind 20 minutes. But I tackled
it on the 11th!

11. Clean bathrooms.

It's official. 20 minutes is not enough time to clean both bathrooms. I started with the powder room upstairs since the floor really needed my attention. (Our toilets are not flushing properly and we have floods fairly regularly.) When I was done, I had only three minutes left on my timer--just enough to swish and swipe downstairs. (Running in between floors isn't counted in my time.)

world's tiniest "master ensuite."

12. Clean out closets (hang up clothes, mittens, jackets, hats)

This was the weirdest one yet. I opened my coat closet, looked inside, and grabbed a mop (and spare mophead) I'd been meaning to get rid of since the New Year. I took it to work and tossed it in the dumpster there. Other than that, I was at a bit of a loss.

13. Surface clean "extra" rooms

I decided that my extra room is the dining room. It could also be my laundry room. I was in a huge hurry, so I wound up merely sweeping the floor.

14. Deep clean bedrooms (organize drawers, check under bed, tidy closet, dust artwork, fans, lights, mop)

Already this week, I've swiffered the floor in here, dusted, tidied, and cleared off the surfaces. I wasn't sure what else to do, really. I decided to change the sheets even though it wasn't suggested by the list. That took me my twenty minutes. Then I dusted and swiffered--and put away a laundry hamper of clothes. That took another ten. I honestly don't think my bedroom has ever been so clean! (Though I did forget all about the fan blades!)

I switched to the red because: Valentine's Day. But I'm thinking the plaid was not a great choice!

So, here we are. Another week begins tomorrow. I am already thinking of ways to tweak this list to make it better for me--but a weird thing is happening in my brain as I do that. The list loses its authority, somehow. It loses its status. It becomes just another thing that I do--rather than THIS THING I'm doing. As a result, I feel less inclined to do it. 

Am I making sense--even though it makes no sense, no sense at all?

ETA: When I got home from work this evening, my husband Chris had cleaned up! The dishes were done, surfaces were clear--the laundry had even been taken down to the laundry room. I was most impressed. I have to say that sometimes the pay off to committing myself to cleaning is more than just a clean house. I am so grateful.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

40 Bags in 40 Days: Day 2. I Can See the Table!

Just like yesterday, today wasn't hard either--though this table has been cluttered beyond reason for more than a year.

Most everything has a home: it just wasn't there, it was here! After I'd made the floor inaccessible with boxes and boxes of books last year, I just started dumping things here to be dealt with "later."

Thank goodness, "later" was today!

I just dumped the contents of this entire box straight into the garbage (after fishing out the recyclable jar). It actually came from the top drawer of the dresser in the back hallway. I was keeping it all "just in case." Well, it's time to evict Justin Case!

It took me about 45 minutes to get this far.

I was interrupted by a phone call. I was going to quit and call it "good enough" -- but when I went back down with some laundry, I thought about how great it would be to come down tomorrow and see a clear table! I figured it wouldn't take much to finish up--and it didn't.

Today's "bag" (things collected for donation):

It'll be great to have this space for sorting!

ugh. Hubs insists they are worth "some money." But guess who has to find out?

And today's most satisfying before and after:

Maybe it'll get tougher tomorrow.

If you'd like to read more about this little adventure, you're in luck!

Introduction: The 40 Bag Basement.

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