Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Donna Reed, I am not.

Apparently.

I’m one of those “I’ll do laundry today” people who starts a load, gets distracted by life, then gets back to it a couple of days later. Please tell me I’m not alone.

So, I assumed it was my own laziness that led to THE STANK. You know THE STANK. It’s not necessarily a mold/mildew smell, but it’s that scent that, should you happen to finish the load without rewashing (SUCH a waste of energy and water, my Lord) and actually wear the clothing, your nose is perma-wrinkled all day. It’s a lingering smell that is downright distracting. THE STANK.

Then, I stumbled upon a little tip about washing one’s washing machine, particularly if it’s an HE. At first, I thought it was a total Danny Tanner move, like cleaning his rubber gloves or vacuuming the vacuum (which I’ve actually done…doesn’t work great). But, then I thought to myself, “Huh. Maybe this would help with THE STANK.” See, even after an overnight, THE STANK was seeping in quicker and quicker and getting to be a terrible nuisance.

So, I tried the tip and it worked. Here I am to pass along the wealth.

As with most of my natural cleaning favorites, this tip comes courtesy Clean Mama. Seriously, what doesn’t she know how to clean? Her post has great advice depending on the type of washing machine you have, and suggests either chlorine-free bleach or white vinegar. I’m working with a HE top-loader and, of course, used white vinegar.

Yup. Just that easy. And it has worked phenomenally! No more wasting precious resources (water and, of course, the soap!) to re-wash stinky clothes. You can do this monthly or as needed.

Bam!


Oh, and stop by last week’s post to weigh in about, well, this here blog. Please and thanks!

The Organizational Snowball

Sometimes the most empowering achievements in life are the simplest, aren’t they?

As you guys know, we’ve been doing plenty of organizing, purging and simplification around our humble abode lately. Some are big (why hello, there, basement), others are what I call “steps” (I’m attacking my side of the office a little at a time), and still others are a quick one-and-done attack.

Today, I’m sharing one that’s made a big impact, although you wouldn’t know it by walking around my house. I feel like playing the “colder, hotter” game with you all. No, seriously, keep looking. Not in the living room. Nope, cold, stay out of the kitchen. Dining room? Warmer. Getting warmer.


HOT! Bingo. That’s our dining room sideboard. Or server. Or console. (Not really, too big for that.) Thingamajigger that holds china and other random sundries.

We fell in love with its ’20s/’30s vibe when we were in Vermont on our honeymoon. We filled it with gorgeous china (the stuff we use once a year…maybe), decor stuff, and…crap. Crap, crap and, just for fun, a touch more crap.

It had reached the point where the top two drawers were so full that I’d pull them open a couple of inches, toss an item back in, then close it as quickly as possible (pushing pretty hard to jam it shut). Just. So. Cluttered. But, those were the only drawers that I used with any regularity. (Remember: extemporaneous china in the bottom drawers/cabinets.)

We’ll just put you through one of the drawers’ craziness.

I had a dream of purging and making one side into decor-type stuff and the other one into a kidcentric spot. Turns out, it wasn’t too hard. And I need bigger dreams.

Just had to recycle a couple dozen super old magazines. That seems to be the theme with my house purging; magazines multiply.


I mean, really. Just check out that kid side. It has made our summertime projects and “lessons” (a couple of workbooks) so pleasant. Well, the workbooks are pretty fun, anyway, but being organized has made it such a simple, more enjoyable thing.

Aaaaand the other side. My grandmother’s dictionary, some thank you notes, random decor stuff…and a cat toy that we’ve gotta keep in hiding. Ultra special, that dangly toy.


Aside from stuff that got tossed, here are things that either a) went in the basement (rafia, red and white ball garland that I LOVE using at Christmastime, homemade pennant garland, some random hardware, hardly-used trays) or b) off to Goodwill (frames!).

I utilized my good ol’ tips of 1) usage: figuring out what still has a purpose (sorry, old magazines), 2) placement: what actually needs to be there, in the dining room area and 3) getting creative: using organizational tools in different ways (a silverware organizer turned into our art supply caddy). Super helpful, super simple.

Somehow, heading to the basement after seeing such an organized little space was the kickstart I needed to dig in down there. And, the rest is history. Er. Mostly done. (We’re having the walls painted this weekend, then can move the stuff back to have an ultimately super organized space after that. Squeal!)

So, there you have it. The snowball that started the avalanche of purging. Here’s what’s up for the next few weeks:

– Finishing the basement stuff
– Office stuff (and possibly even moving ALL my stuff outta there…we’ll see)
– Hadman’s closet
– My clothes 

Anyone else using summer as an excuse to organize crap? Or are you just, y’know, having fun like most people? 😉 Do tell!  

Basement Organization – Home Improvement Crap

Welcome to “Basement Organization, Pt. II – Battle of the Clutter”!! I worked my belly off during the little man’s nap time (seriously, I had him rubbing my aching baby bump when he got up) to organize the stuff that Dave had pulled off our shelving units over the weekend. We have one unit that’s dedicated to paint (which used to house paint, but we had a “tipping over” incident) and another that has tools, electrical stuff and other odds-and-ends things for around the house.

Oh, and there was other random crap cluttering up the space.

Seriously. This is what we were dealing with when I walked into the basement:




Just lotsa wrong goin’ on. Stuff got moved. Stuff got tossed. It was fun. And my tips from our first weekend organizing came in super handy. Like stuff with like stuff, FTW! 


Hey, look! An old TV. (Which will replace our current old TV when it kicks the bucket. Not kidding.)


The stuff on the TV has actually since been taken care of, and the box on the right is stuff for Dave to go through. Otherwise, tools on the bottom two shelves, odds and ends organized by “type” (electrical stuff, cleaning chemicals, sundry tapes, safety gear) on the top two. 



Since we’ll be painting the rest of the floor (Dave started awhile back) and hopefully the walls, this stuff is all going to have to be pulled out and moved, but I needed to get it out from the middle of everything. They don’t look it, but they’re totally organized – interior, primers, Drylok, and exterior. My favorite semi-gloss trim paint lives on the shelving…because it deserves it.

So, how’re we doin’? I need to turn my attention back to the clothing situation and organizing around the washer/dryer area, plus we’ve got a Lowe’s trip to make (I’d like another shelving unit to organize kiddo stuff and maybe totes and some spray paint for a freebie I recently scored).

One thing I’ve realized is the tumbling dominoes of organization rule. The more space that opens up (little by little), I realize that it loosens me up mentally to purging and storing stuff from other areas. Like, I’ve got some stuff from the garage that I’d rather have inside than in an outside space, and our office is in dire need of decluttering. This doesn’t mean shuffling crap we don’t need around, but giving serious consideration to what’s needed and how often it’s used, then storing appropriately.

I’m super inspired by small living and mindful living websites and blogs lately, so that also helps in my mindset. Anyone else trying to live a more fulfilling life with less?

Basement Organization

We have two spaces in our house that overwhelm us with “stuff” — our office (which I hardly use and Dave uses regularly) and our basement. Since we’re up in the air as to whether or not we’ll find a new house before the little one comes along, we’re trying to be proactive, both by getting wicked organized in case we do sell and move OR in the case that we don’t move, we’ll have simplified and found more room in the process. Win-win, really.

This weekend, before I had a chance to even take “before” pictures (crappy blogger), we headed downstairs to see what we could get done. One toddler naptime turned into another and, of course, we still have lots more to work on, so I’m sure I’ll be chatting about our basement a bit more as we continue our purging/organization fun. I’m hoping to get down every day this week (during naps or after bedtime)…yup, it’s that bad.

On Day #1, while Dave sifted through all of our home improvement items (lots of sanding blocks!!), I turned my attention under the stairs. This is where all of our holiday stuff lives, along with gift wrap, gift bags, ribbon, etc. I didn’t move everything out, but organized and sifted through and evaluated…and ended up with this:


Here are some of the strategies I used to organize the space:

Put Similar Items Together – Believe me; it wasn’t easy in the beginning. Walking into a basement that has become more and more of a dumping ground over time is downright panic attack-inducing. But, my #1 organization tip is to dive in by making piles of (or simply separating into) similar items. Don’t obsess about the sheer vastness of the stuff; put on your blinders and start making piles.

So, now my Christmas stuff is with, duh, the Christmas stuff. (I’m saying “duh” to myself, BTW.) Gift bags are organized specifically by birthday, characters (like, superheroes or Peter Rabbit), and new baby, then there was even a separate bag just for the generic, anytime bags.

This was the first moment (among many) that I realized, JOYOUSLY, that I don’t need to buy a new gift bag for a long, long time. Same goes with tissue paper. And Christmas wrap…and tape…and ribbons…and boxes of all sizes. Holy crap. Literally all I need for Christmas is some new sticker tags to go on gifts (and maybe one wrap of “Santa paper”). Knowing that we’ll have a newborn at Christmastime and realizing that I’m all set with that side of things calms me. “And knowing is half the battle!” Speak to me, Transformers.

Location, Location, Location – Doesn’t it just make sense to keep the things that you use most often closest to you? In this case, it’s gift bags, which we use (and reuse and reuse) with unapologetic abandon. So, keeping those behind the Christmas stuff would’ve been silly. Front and center they are. 

This will also apply to the totes of baby/toddler clothes (of which we have, I believe, 8…I only wish that wasn’t true, and we bought very, very little of it ourselves). Why keep the 18-month stuff at the top of the stacks when we’ll need newborn and 0-3 months first? It also helps direct you as to where certain items should go, as well as help you analyze whether you need the item at all. If something’s automatically being shoved to the back wall, why? If it’s an “once-a-year-but-need-it” thing (ahem, Christmas crap, I’m talking to you), then fine. But if it’s an “I really don’t know when we’ll use that” thing, say ba-bye.   

Get creative with storage – Not everything needs to be perfectly packed in totes with labels typed in a label-maker. I mean, sure, that’d be great, but sometimes a tote takes up too much spaces or doesn’t fit your needs. (Although, I highly suggest using them for storing kiddo and maternity clothes; they don’t breathe as much as I might like, but they’re the easiest solution I can think of for now. Plus, the transparent or semi-transparent ones, you can just shove a piece of paper labeled with a marker for what’s inside along the side and see it – no tearing or getting messed up.)

So, aside from boxes we have been saving FUH-RE-VER, I grabbed things that either were heading for the donation pile or are hardly used. So, a random blue basket that I haven’t used in years just happened to fit all the tissue paper perfectly. One large seen-better-days gift bag holds all the rest of the “can be used” ones. A cheap, heavy duty glass hurricane candleholder worked as a makeshift gift wrap holder (and if it breaks, I truly won’t shed a tear). A random nail or pipe protruding from a wall or ceiling overhang is a great place to hang a string of Christmas lights.

And always, ALWAYS stack as much as possible. All those baskets you see would take up mad space if they weren’t piled up. It is what it is.

Expect All the Emotions – The rush and joy I felt has made me actually excited to head back down to the dungeon, I kid you not. I’m like a purging monster. “Must. Purge. Mooooorrrre.” And finding cards and gifts that kids gave me years ago while I was teaching at a different school? Heartstrings!

But, it hasn’t all been a high. First of all, while I’m pretty active during pregnancy with yoga and, like, not slowing down, the baby has definitely stopped me in my path a few times. “Seriously, Mama. Too much. Go get some water, sit down, and thank me later.” I can always tell that I’ve overdone it; not a matter of “if” but “when.” It’s how I roll, I guess.

At the same time, there have been frustrations and tears. Tears = finding a platter that was my grandmother’s shattered. Frustrations = the sheer mass of stuff that we actually had little control over in the first place (stuff that was passed along that we didn’t want or need).

It’s all part of the game, though, and the best emotion that I’ve cultivated is RELAXATION. No, seriously! While it’s definitely hard, sweaty, dirty work, I’ve discovered exactly the stuff we have. I’ve realized that THIS is when you overbuy.

How many times have you had to get a gift for someone so you bought more tissue paper, not realizing that you already have enough in storage? Or because you don’t know what you have in storage from awhile back, you buy yet another pair of black work pants? In our case, I’ve been starting to mentally gear up about getting some cold season maternity clothes and post-maternity COOOOLD weather stuff. (The last baby was born in July.) However, after going through all the hand-me-downs and stuff I had, even in summer, I’ve discovered a lot of items that will work! It brought a calm to me that I haven’t felt in awhile.


How many of you have a space in your house that’s overrun by clutter or needs organizing? When I head down tonight, I’ll probably be heading back to purging clothing (this does NOT excite me) or to organize and figure out storage for the home improvement stuff Dave sorted. That has spread out, big-time, so to get that up off the floor and truly organized will be a good feeling. 

Spring Cleaning, Simplified

This year, I’m not stressing about spring cleaning. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing some high-octane cleaning; it just means that I’m not going to break a huge sweat or give up my long-awaited-for warm days.

Here are a handful of simple but super helpful ways I’ll be gettin’ ‘er done. (Hate that phrase.)


Do all the jobs. Wow, that DOES sound overwhelming. What I really mean is that when I do ceilings, I’ll take a broom with a microfiber cloth and “sweep” all the ceilings in the whole house while I’m at it. (Spoiler alert: Already did this. While on the phone, even.) Or, when I do the fans, I’ll wipe all of them down and only do the “take off every single light cover and wash/dry” if absolutely necessary. All the woodwork at one time. All the vacuuming at one time. Etc, etc, etc.

Sometimes, I try to do a room at a time (like last year) and, sometimes, it works fine. But, this year, I kind of prefer doing the jobs I feel like doing at the moment and getting them ALL done. Also, once I get out a particular cleaning product (say, the Old English for our woodwork), it’ll be nice to just put it away when the job’s done.

Stretch it out. While it sounds like a buttload of work doing the above clusters of jobs, I’m not doing them all at one time. Instead, I already started the cleaning process and am doing a quick 5-10 minute job before work in the morning or at the end of the day, or a longer one on the weekends (sometimes a couple). It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Use the least amount of products possible. I love multi-tasking cleaners. We use a Method all-purpose cleaner made with mostly-natural ingredients that does glass, wood, ceramic…frickin’ everything. We also love our Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, which can be used on pretty much anything and everything you can imagine. Sure, this time of year I take out the big guns (like Old English), but for the most part, it’s simple. Kind of the point of this post. 😉

Enjoy the clean. By doing little jobs here and there, it highly reduces the amount of stress we put on ourselves. Know what else reduces it? Enjoying the clean stuff.

Throwing open the windows not only helps to freshen up your indoor environment, but also lifts your spirits. Opening the curtains after you’ve washed and rehung them helps the light come in and – yup – same thing, lift your spirits. Or just plopping down after you’ve finished a job and allowing yourself some relaxation time by way of a book or movie is totally allowed – even if you haven’t finished ALL the cleaning yet.

I can’t say how many times I’ve looked in my newly fresh (and deodorized, woohoo!) fridge just to enjoy a job well-done. Seriously.

Do you guys all spring clean? What are some of your tips and tricks for getting your spring cleaning done? We’d love to hear them in the comments! 

Coat Closet Clean-Out

You can always tell the season has changed when I start getting the (occasional) itch to clean again. Okay, okay. Of course I clean the rest of the year…but this is my “that’s driving me nuts, I’ve gotta get it CLEAN already!!!” time of year.

This is what led me to pulling out 85% of the contents of our living room coat closet to finally, FINALLY reorganize, purge a bit, and create some additional living space for a certain someone’s toys. #notDave

Here’s what we started with…


Crappy pictures to the rescue! Dun dun-dun duuuun!!

Things had just been piled up and up and added to (super generous relatives + super adorable toddler = 4+ winter coats in the same size, and various hats ‘n mittens), so it was time to pack away those items that we’ll use in the future. We didn’t actually end up getting rid of a ton, but they found new places to live. I did some major shuffling and grabbed some fabric totes and baskets from the basement to see if I could work something out. (Spoiler: I only needed one!)

Here’s how it looks today:

Not earth-shattering, but kind of a game changer for me. Those four plastic bins of toys are out of eye-shot in the living room (I’ve still got more purging to do of toys…big time) but within reach of the little guy. If I had put them high up, every time I open the door he’d inevitably notice them and demand that they come down. Sometimes making things more easily accessible actually lessens the demand. #themoreyouknow

Up top is deceptively simple, as well. I stuffed anything diaper-related into the (duh, Meg) diaper box, moved the tennis rackets to the basement, and weeded out the bin leaving behind only the items we use, both winter AND spring/summer related. (It also has our cat essential – lint brush.) On the right side up top is where we store our board games, but there was also room to toss H’s awesome Mickey Mouse sleeping bag. It’s the little things, y’know.

Here’s a close look at our toy storage:  

Legos, wooden train set, “Little People” & other figurines, and bigger Lego pieces and cars.

This is the part that I’m most excited about. We’ve got a bookcase chock full of books in the little guy’s bedroom. We also had acquired a stack of random books, magazines (“High Five”! Love it!!), and kid-friendly comic books on our ottoman. It was time to figure something out.

So, with that one fabric bin from the basement, I created our own downstairs library. I’ll switch out books here and there to create some interest, but it’s awesome to be able to pull this out and have some quiet-ish reading time on the first level of our house during the day. We’ve honestly waited to read numerous books as a family every evening in our bedroom, but this makes it more of an “anytime” occurrence.

Whatchya think? It definitely has me glancing around at the other spring cleaning activities I’ve yet to undertake! I’m just encouraged that we were able to open our windows to let some of the good, clean air in yesterday (even if it was 40 degrees – a heat wave, I tell ya!).

Holiday Cleaning


Things may be fully holiday decorated at our house, but things seem more disheveled than usual. I’m pretty sure it’s because we a) have a super small house, b) bring so much additional “stuff” in (like gifts, Christmas cards, wrapping, etc) this time of year, and c) didn’t plan ahead and clean before the onslaught of the holidays. So, today’s just a brain dump of all the “unfun” stuff to do so that my brain isn’t swimming by Christmas. Let’s blame my mother; she always had the house quite clean for the holidays. I always assumed it was because we were having a special guest (Santa) come; it was probably actually because of the REAL guests (family) coming. Duh, Meg.

Anyhoo, some of this I’m sure I won’t get to, but I also have T-W-O whole weeks off for the holidays, so I foresee a “New Year project” or two here…

Kitchen walls/shelves. My open shelving area is a bit of a hot mess. The dishes we use all the time are perfectly clean, but the shelves themselves have a layer of grease (which attracts more than a little dust and probably cat fur) and need a good scrubbing and reorganizing.

Kitchen cabinets. Also in the kitchen and also in need of a good scrubbing are my cabinets. The insides are also SUPER disorganized (namely the bottom ones, which hold all cookware). Truth be told, a scrub + paint job are in order. Blah.

The damn “V.” Okay. So. Over Hadman’s crib, I applied papier-mache letters that spell out “LOVE” when he was a baby. They’ve worked perfectly up until this point. One day, while he was supposed to be napping (that’s a whole other issue lately), I hear over the monitor a weird clicking noise. Come to find out, he had pulled the “V” off of the wall and started using it as a clapper — tearing the middle of the letter so that he could “clap” the two sides together. I. Was. Livid. He got pretty upset, too. He’s still asking where the V is and I have a hard time not snarkily responding that he’s responsible for the death of the V. (sigh) I don’t say that. But I want to. :-\

 Office disorganization. This is an ongoing headache. For now we’ve just gotta pick the place up and make it look presentable, but ultimately we’ve gotta figure out our storage and do a total overhaul of how we use the space.

Gifts are messy. I love giving gifts, and even kind of enjoy wrapping them. But, keeping the joint somewhat picked up is a pain. I always end up with a bag containing tags, ribbons/bows, tape, and a pen that I use for the whole shebang, and generally keep a large box of boxes, bags, tissue paper, and gift wrap nearby, but I’m not one to schlep the whole thing down to the basement when done only to drag it back up later. Maybe I’m just lazy? We also have a HUGE gift that arrived, box in shambles, that’s giving me an eye twitch.

This is all aside from the fun “responsibilities” of the holiday, of course, and the usual upkeep of the joint. Can you say floor mopping? 🙁 I was hoping to get a chore or two (along with a fun “chore” or two!) out of the way today, thanks to some inclement weather, but that didn’t turn out to be very bad. Blah.

I didn’t really do a good fall cleaning this year, so if I had I’m sure I’d be less bummed about these jobs. So, please don’t take this as complaining as much as my own mental checklist of crap I have to do — and commiserating, if you will! 🙂

What about you guys? Any chores you dread doing but that you’re sick of having hanging over your heads this time of year? 

 

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

I’m sure there are about eleventy billion blog posts with that title since, say, 2001. Make this eleventy billion…and one. 😉

So, anyhoo, cleaning sucks. The only person I can remember encountering who LOVED cleaning was…hmm…Danny Tanner. And he was fictional. Highly doubt Bob Saget’s even remotely like that in real life.

So, while my house is far from perfect, I thought I’d share a handful of simple tips that I use to keep the Monster of Filth from overtaking our lives. They definitely also act as a stress reliever, believe it or not.

Invite someone over every two weeks. (Or at least pretend like someone might stop by at some point.) You know that one big whirlwind clean that you do when company’s coming? The one that feels a bit like a workout? Y’know, before your MIL (or, in my case, mother) drops by? This is it.

Do it, then do it again in two weeks (one week if you can; my average is two, and there’s nothing wrong with that). You’ll notice that it won’t be as huge of a challenge when you do some of the other tips below; it’ll get easier as you go.

Plus, it feels nice to sit back and enjoy the cleanliness (and friendship, of course) at the start of a weekend, which is usually when we have folks over. (I clearly don’t subscribe to the “you’re my friend, I don’t have to clean before you come over” theory. I will, at the very least, pick up and vacuum for you. It’s the least I can do!) Even with a newborn in the mix, I try to hit the priority areas: bathroom surfaces/potty and main living areas.

Slow and steady wins the race. It sounds contradictory to the last point, but after that one big cleanfest, pick out the chores that you need to complete more regularly. Then assign them a frequency: daily, a couple of times a week, weekly, and monthly.

Maybe you need to dust and vacuum more often (vacuuming is a common thing for us with a toddler dropping food and playing on the floor where cats may be traipsing litter). Maybe your bathroom can use a quick once-over weekly, as well as your floors. Stretch these jobs out over the course of a week. Scrub the toilet and wipe down of all bathroom surfaces Monday, vacuum Tuesday, sweep and mop Wednesday, etc. Then when it’s time for your “company clean,” you’ll only have some of the deep-cleaning stuff to do.

Do something everyday. I’m not talking about the fact that my grandmother mopped her floors daily. (True story!) I’m saying that you can pick from that list and, depending on your mood and energy level that day, do ONE thing.

Mind you, this could include smaller, regular stuff like putting dishes away or folding a load of laundry all the way up to Old Englishing (totally a word) the woodwork or touch-up painting. Simple and small or big project, it all counts. This is essential to remind myself when the newborn exhaustion hits – do only what you can do, even if it’s one small task. Which leads me to…

Get into the habit of picking up. Every night when our older child’s in bed, we attack the main living area. Some days he hardly touches the toys, but most days (and especially on weekends, during the summer, or lately with Mommy on maternity leave), the place looks like a tornado hit. And don’t get me started on the holiday toys that have exploded into every nook and cranny of our lives.

So, we try to pick up. Our stuff, his stuff, whatever we can do. It really only takes about five minutes, depending on the day’s activities, and it makes a huge difference when we come down the stairs, bleary-eyed, the next morning to a relatively neat house. We’ll also do all the dishes in the sink and make sure there’s a load in the wash. Don’t get me started on cat toys, though. Those, I like to leave out for our boys’ mental stimulation, so I really only pick them up if company’s coming. Is that weird?
Find what works for you and stick with it. Some people prefer doing all the dusting in their entire house at one time, then doing another chore the next day. Others like getting one room done at a time, even if it involves dragging out the vacuum and all the supplies needed to clean it each day for each room. I usually do it the first way, but I can swing both ways. I’m hip like that.
And there’s no right or wrong way. Seriously, whatever you’re comfortable with, just do it. It’s kind of like how I budget. I know it’s not the way a lot of people would be comfortable handling money, but it works for me.
So, what’re your cleaning tips? Do you have any goals you’d like to make publicly to clean something more or in a more efficient way? Go ahead! We won’t make fun of you if it doesn’t happen. Promise! {Or feel free to share your least favorite chore!}

Gotta Stay on Top of My Life, Gotta Stay on Top of My Life

Is it just me, or is September kind of like January’s nerdy kid brother? Given all the back-to-school craziness and a return to “normalcy,” I tend to be confronted with the fact that I clearly didn’t do enough of a productive nature over the summer (even if I actually got a ton done). I flounder and stare face-to-face at a necessity to get my life in order. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Teachers, parents…hey, even single or retired folks. Something about that chill in the air, am I right?

January’s the cool kids’ turn to pick some resolutions in an attempt to kick start some positive change. I see September as a quieter, yet tad more frenzied time to do the same. All those lists that people consider on January 1st are just as relevant on September 1st. Perhaps because they’re not under a microscope as much, they may not be as intimidating…maybe?

So, obviously I’m taking a few steps to “stay on top of my life.” (If you don’t know the Kids in the Hall already, I beg of you — check out the video. If you’re not into a bit of bloody violence or quirky humor, please, for the love of God, don’t click. Oh, and this was a huge part of my adolescence. Explains lots.) For a simpler take on this, I provide you with this hilarious (or, if you’re not in the know, ridiculously random and stupid) take…


Yeah. I made that. Ahem.

Back to the point. Given that September is equivalent to January, I thought I’d share a little list of the “resolutions” I’ve already started working on. Some are relevant to being back at school and having more structured time (which means focusing on using my time more wisely) and others are just good ol’ self improvement things.


For the record, I hate the word “resolutions”, too.

Bed by 10pm (on school nights). Dang nabbit, I’m doing this. Depending on the night, falling asleep by 10 is easier than…coming up with an analogy. Other nights, my energy level is higher and I’ll force myself to lay down, sans TV/cell phone/any screens whatsoever and read. It’s helped me get to the conclusion of the book I’ve been reading ALL SUMMER, so that in itself is pretty rad. It also makes me far less grumpy come 6am. Um. Generally.

Getting in some exercise. I’m not taking on the PXButtKickandLiftChallengeXXI or whatever, but I’m hoping that by incorporating variations of cardio/Pilates/yoga/core strengthening, I’ll be gaining some much-needed extra energy as well as *hopefully* toning up some of the squishy bits. I’ve already mentioned it, but Spark People is a great free site that provides a variety of videos at various levels (hello, beginner!) and numerous lengths. I’ll probably move on to other sites if these ones aren’t cutting it anymore, but for now they’re perfect.

I think one of my issues in the past is that when I get it in my head to do something — anything — I go gung-ho initially and have a hard time following through at ANY pace. Apparently it’s something my father did in areas of his life. When it comes to exercise, I’ve done this but also burnt out thanks to overdoing it from the start. So, I’ve started out by doing one medium-length or two shorter videos at a time, breaking a good sweat but leaving myself feeling energized rather than totally zonked. I’ll build on.

Oh, and I’m doing this 3-4 days during the week and 1 day on weekends, while keeping track a) the exercise(s) and b) duration of workout on our family calendar, partly for motivation and partly because I have the memory of a…of a…I don’t even know what.

Setting boundaries. This. Is. Hard. I fall into this trend of not leaving school until after 4:30 (our contract says we can leave at 3:30). And it’s not like I’m doing anything super important. I’m just fiddling here and there with stuff that can totally wait ’til the next day. So, I’m trying to leave by 4 (and earlier on Fridays, can you imagine…). This helps with the aforementioned exercise goal (fitting in the exercise, a shower, and getting dinner underway before the guys get home) and will help me stay focused during the day on what needs to get done instead of putting stuff off ’til the end of the day.

“Money money money mooonnnneeyy. MONEY.” (That stupid song that’s used for “The Apprentice.” Gah.) I’ve mentioned this lately, but I’m going to be paying close attention to my spending, writing down my purchases, analyzing where my cash is flowin’ and why, and researching some ways to keep it under tabs.

For those in the balcony seats, let me project: I’M NOT GREAT WITH MONEY. It’s tough to admit that, as an otherwise generally responsible adult who thus far HAS been fine with moolah. (And I don’t have massive student loans as an excuse like my awesomely-getting-on-top-of-it husband.) But, yeah. We’re looking at some pretty big goals as a family and if I don’t focus on this area of life, it’ll be my fault. Not cool.

Thank goodness for cool, approachable sites like Our Freaking Budget. We also glean some good advice from Dave Ramsey, so you don’t have to leave any “Dave Ramsey is a GOD; we got rid of $1 million in debt and now have $1 million in savings thanks to him!” spiels in the comments…unless you want to brag. In which case, go on with your bad self.

Oh, and I’m even considering taking part in one of those “zero spend” challenges. Maybe. We’ll see. I’m gonna go cry now.

Planning meals. This one will help with finances but I’m also highly interested in seeing if meal planning truly does help me a) cut back on food waste, b) save ka-ching at the super and farmers’ market, and c) make life easier. I’ll check back if it does and let y’all know. And I’m on the hunt for real food cook-ahead and slow-cooker meals. SO hard to find slow-cooker recipes without a can or bottle of something super processed to bring it all together (and undoubtedly make it yummy).

Simplify, as always. This is kind of a life goal that sits on my shoulder everyday. I’m pretty lucky, though. It’s more like the cartoon angel version on the right side rather than the naughty/devilish kid on the left side. So, there’s that. But, yeah. PURGE is the name of the game. A lot of our house is looking more and more like “us”, and I love that, but we still have storage spaces (and, heck, out-in-the-open spaces like the toy explosion storage in our living room) that need another once-over. The basement is also in dire need of straightening and hoeing out (who you callin’…) AND painting, so there’s that.

The thing that sucks for me is that, well, again…I’ve got my dad’s gene of needing the motivation before getting up and DOING something. Takes me forever to finish a project, but once it’s done, it’s done pretty darn well. So, I can’t say on Monday that I’ll plan on working on the basement Saturday. I may wake up Saturday feeling motivated to do something else that’s equally important. Or play with Hadley all day. Or sit on my tush watching the world whiz by (while the laundry’s going…because at least then I’ll feel like I did SOMETHING). Whatevs.

But, I think the only way to break this is to just DO. Like, we wouldn’t have gotten our recent front porch project completed if Dave hadn’t said, “Okay, I’m going to start this.” (Once he started, I had to finish, so I didn’t want to let his hard work be overshadowed by my laziness.) And, believe me. I did NOT feel like doing it, but when it was done…well, awesomeness ensued.

Live in the moment. Observing the changes in Hadley. Enjoying the humor that my students pump into random lessons. Looking for moments of simple joy and lucky experiences. Contacting friends to hang out or come over for meals or meet up for coffee. In general, remembering to savor the good and hold onto the bad momentarily. 

Hey, look! Seven things in my list. Whatchya know? So, what about you guys? Do you feel like this time of year is a bit like New Year’s with its feeling of “let’s start this season on a new foot”?

Or are you just psyched for pumpkin spice everything? Really, though. Who can blame you?

One-Ingredient Bathtub Fix

For as long as I can remember, I couldn’t find a product to clean all the years of built-up grime from our tub. I scrubbed as much as I could, so I resigned myself to pretend that it was clean enough for us. Y’know. The surface grime was “clean” so the guilt wouldn’t overtake me when I threw my 2-year-old in. *gulp* Seeing that written, I feel guiltier and guiltier about that.

Well, since my plumber-extraordinaire stepfather’s coming up with ways for us to deal with the horrible bathtub walls, I figured I should make another attempt at scrubbing it. He had suggested a highly toxic solution we’ve all heard of and a razor blade. Seriously. I’m nothing if not lazy, so I wanted to try something else first.

And it totally worked!

Yup, that’s all it took. After wetting the tub, I dumped in the baking soda. (Note that mine’s a generic brand. Use the cheapest you can find.) Be sure you toss it everywhere — sides, especially. You don’t need a HUGE amount, but be sure it’s thick, especially where any grime is particularly caked.

Allow it to sit. Since I was busy chasing a little one around, I let it sit for about 1-2 hours, but less may work, too.

Then, I got a green scrubby (technical term — you know the kind, not TOO rough, but enough friction to work) wet and added a little more water as I scrubbed. Most of it got loosened on its own, but the rough spots needed some good scrubbing. This took about 15 minutes, tops, for a HORRIBLE tub. Sorry I didn’t have a “before”, but I guarantee it’s as clean as it could possibly be. LIKE NEW.

I was worried I’d have to break out the white vinegar, too, but it wasn’t necessary. If you find that you’ve scrubbed (or don’t feel like scrubbing THAT much), do a wipe-down and rinse again, and throw some more on for another hour or so.

Just know that if you leave it too long, it’ll cake on and might be tough to scrape off. All you need is a little water to loosen up the situation and scrub your cares away.

And, now it’s time for the hubs and my stepdad to attack the walls. 😉 I have a feeling I had an easier job.

Do you have any cleaning projects that you’ve been putting off *gulp* years to finally tackle? I can’t be the only one…can I?