Category Archives: cleaning

Reclaiming

My husband has low expectations of me. Not that he doesn’t think I can’t do things, but he doesn’t expect me to do things. Since all the kids (except one, but his time is coming) have had the flu lately, and my hands and lap have been very busy, I haven’t gotten much done around the house lately. I made banana muffins for lunch the other day (making muffins was much easier than trying to find something everyone would eat), and I made a double batch (I have five children at home. I always make a double batch.) My husband pronounced me most amazing for baking when all kids were sick. How did I ever find the time? (See? Low expectations.)

I spent the afternoon reclaiming some valuable real estate today. The counter top in our kitchen is a catchall. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door (unless you walk in the front door, but who uses the front door?). It sets the tone for the rest of the house. Lately, the counter top has been collecting paint brushes, tools, medicines and dispensers, and cell phone chargers. Which may not be too bad if you have a large counter top, but ours is only about 5 feet long. Really. And the kettle, french press and dish drain board take up permanent residence. So today I cleaned it all off. It didn’t take me too long, but it made a very big difference. That and picking up the toys that littered the living room floor and running the vacuum were my accomplishments for the day. In a Very Small House filled with a lot of people, it’s the little things that make a big difference.

It wasn’t much, but my husband thinks I’m a goddess now. I think it even made up for the fact that we didn’t have supper until 7:00. Because even goddesses need to nap when they have the flu. Right? Maybe I should turn off all the lights so he won’t see the laundry I didn’t get folded. I could pretend the power went out.

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Reducing

I’m not really sure what kind of blog this is. It’s kind of a gardening, furniture painting, house decorating, homeschooling, whatever-I’m-thinking-about-right-now kind of a blog. If it looks like I lack focus and that my posts are all over the place talking about a whole lot if different things, well, it’s because I sometimes have trouble focusing, the hours in my day are all over the place and I’m interested in a whole lot of different things.

Right now, I’m interested in getting my house in order.

I think it’s interesting that whatever is happening in my life is what I notice most in others. You know, like when you’re pregnant, it seems like everyone you see is pregnant. Buying a new car? Seems like most of the cars you see on the road are the make you’re looking to buy. For me lately, it’s been all about stuff, living simply, reducing. Seems like every blog I read is talking about getting rid of more stuff to make room for more living.

I know it sounds silly, but one of the hardest things I need to conquer as I decide whether to keep or get rid of something is fear. Weird, isn’t it? I mean, here’s a shirt that I don’t really like, and that doesn’t fit me very well, but I have a hard time getting rid of it. Why? What if I suddenly need a shirt and have no others and I got rid of this? What if we couldn’t afford to buy clothes and all my other ones wore out? Then I’d regret getting rid of this shirt. I know, it sounds kind of dumb all typed out like that in black and white. It makes me understand why my grandparents, who lived during the Depression, keep every single rubber band and plastic bag they come across. Because you never know.

Now don’t go thinking that I live my life in some fear filled state, trembling in the corner, afraid to try anything. So not me! But when it comes time to get rid of clothing, it’s a tough one. It was finally realizing this about myself that helps me go through our stuff with a much more critical eye. The first pass was easy. This time I’m being much more ruthless. But when I’m all done, I think I should get to buy a couple of wardrobe staples.

Kitchen Tip: Cleaning up Dough

We’re all still feeling a bit under the weather. Some are getting better, others are not. Last night I was pinned between two littles who weren’t feeling very well, so Josh and Maddie made supper for us with a little assistance from Zach. Maddie was in charge of the soup (Spicy Potato Soup), Josh was in charge of the biscuits. It all turned out very well. (Sorry, no pictures.) I hadn’t realized how little recipe cooking Josh had done. Oops! I have a lot to teach him before he leaves this fall!

I do have one tip to share that I thought was common kitchen knowledge, but apparently isn’t. When you’re cleaning up after you make any kind of dough – bread, biscuit, pizza, etc. – clean your bowl and utensils with cold water first. Hot water makes the dough sticky and glue-y. Cold water makes it easier to scrape off without having glued on dough stick to everything. After you scrape off as much as you can under cold water, then wash as normal in hot water. Easy cleanup!

Thankful for the Oxen

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

Proverbs 14:4

 This verse was going through my mind as I was cleaning my house today.  I used to clean model homes part time. You know, those showcase homes that builders build for people to walk through and actually believe that they too could live like that if they bought that model from the builder.  I learned something very important when I was cleaning those houses – no one really lives like that!  We used to clean them twice a week, at night when everyone was gone. We WERE the cleaning fairies. And let me tell you, those houses could get dirty. And no one lived there. (Get it? There were no oxen, and we STILL needed to clean the “trough”.) So it is impossible and completely unrealistic to try to maintain the home you live in to look like a model house.  Be thankful for the oxen – your husband, your children, your pets. Because they are blessings.  And keep that in mind when you’re cleaning the trough.

Making Wise Decisions

As the Keeper of my Home, one of my main responsibilities is to keep my family safe. I seem to be getting bombarded with information lately that is telling me I need to be more diligent at this. Take for example MSG in tomato sauce, mechanically separated chicken in my soup, and now the ingredients in my dish soap. I use Palmolive because I seem to be able to use less of it than other brands. Now I need to look for an alternative or find a way to make my own. Want to know what’s in Palmolive? Check here.

Is anyone else as frustrated as I am at how many unsafe products are being sold to us?

Cleaning Results

The hall closet cleaning carried over to cleaning off the baker’s rack, which carried over to cleaning out the pantry. Why? Well, stored in the hall closet was the box of Tom’s Grandma’s china that his parents sent us back in October. We stuck it in the closet because it was packed so well, and at the time we weren’t sure whether we were staying or moving. We’re still not sure, but I decided that Grandma’s china doesn’t belong in the back of the closet, it belongs out – so how pretty would it be displayed on the baker’s rack? However, in order to make room for it, I needed to clean of the other items we already had there. Then, in order to find a home for all those things that were displaced by the china I had to clean out the pantry. That took most of the afternoon yesterday. I still have a couple of things I need to find a home for, but its taking shape. The cleaning domino effect continues.

Another result of cleaning out the closet – Zach and Maddie have found a new place to play. Tom came home the day we cleaned it out to find them playing in the closet – they had on their swimming goggles and snorkels and were pretending they were underwater explorers! How fun! Yesterday they did all their school work in the closet, then spent time in there with flashlights making shadow puppets on the wall.

You know, in the last year, we have gotten rid of enough “stuff” to fill another house. The more we get rid of, the more we realize we need to get rid of! I guess its an ongoing process. That would be the “keeping” part of “housekeeping”. You don’t “housekept”, so its not something you do once and then you’re done. Its ongoing (hence the “ing” at the end of the word). And you can’t put it off to do later, that would be future tense, as in, “I will housekeep.” Someday, my children will housekeep, so they can use future tense, but for all of us who already have a house, or an apartment, or an RV, or a boat, or a space of some sort that we’re responsible for, we can’t use the future tense – that would be procrastination. Kind of like what I’m doing right now as the laundry sits in the dryer waiting for me to come fold it. I need to get that done, but its lunchtime, and I’m hungry and need to feed the munchkins, so laundry will get put off just a little longer, then on to finish cleaning out the pantry. See? Ongoing. Housekeep-ing.

Cleaning Cycles

So, something happened to January. I’m not sure what it was, but it disappeared before I knew it! We had company, but still, you’d think I would have noticed that we were actually IN January before it left! And now, here we are. February 6th!

I spent this afternoon cleaning out the closet under the steps. It looks great! Except I now have an abundance of things that were in the closet but I don’t want to return to the closet (since it doubles as our tornado shelter, and I don’t want to spend precious minutes trying to dig out our shelter from behind a pile of stuff when we really need to take cover). So, to find a home for all the items that are still out, I need to clean out another room – maybe the laundry room. There’s a shelf above the washer and dryer where I could put a lot of these things, but the shelf is full right now, so if I clean it off and organize it, I might find the space I need. Does this ever happen to anyone else? You clean one area, and as a result you clutter another, so need to clean that one, then end up cluttering another, and so on, and so on. I think we need less stuff.