Monday, September 30, 2013

Staying Organized: 31 Days

This is a tongue-in-cheek post about having your entire life organized.

The thing is, as you can tell from reading the comments, almost everyone wants all the things she listed--date nights, activity kits to keep the kids quiet, a budget.

Thing is, it's really not all that hard to get organized.

You can make a menu plan for a few days, then a week, then two weeks, a month.

You can pare down your wardrobe to the essentials plus a few special things for a season.

You can set up containers, in a drawer or on the desk (or both!) and put markers in one of them, pens and pencils in another.

The thing is to stay organized. Don't buy that cute dress you have no where to wear just because it's on sale, don't put the pen back with the markers, and remember to transfer those receipts from that bottomless pit that you call a purse into the box where they go.

Staying organized is a combination of being organized already and good habits which keep you that way. If one side of the equation or the other is not working, then it's impossible to be organized. I learned that little nugget of wisdom in a Simplify 101 course called, The Secrets of Staying Organized.

During the Nester's annual 31 Day October Blogging Challenge, I'm going to use what I learned in that course (and others) to talk about keeping our (home) lives organized.

I'll have lots to say about battling perfectionism, procrastination and peanut brittle. Ok, maybe not peanut brittle.

But, I hope you'll join me, anyway.

I'll be adding links to the posts as I write them.

Day 1: The Struggle
Day 2: What's It Mean, Anyway?
Day 3: Integrity: Honouring Your Comfort Zone.
Day 4: Perfectionism: A Dirty Word?
Day 5: The Magic of 15 Minutes
Day 6: Time Dreaded Tasks
Day 7: Embrace the Bite, Part 1
Day 8: Embrace the Bite, Part 2
Day 9: Get It Done
Day 10: Finishing the Day
Day 11: Accept Help
Day 12: Be Kind. To Yourself
Day 13: Fixing Systems: Diagnosing What's Broken
Day 14: Tweaking a System: Paying Bills and Keeping Track of our Spending
Day 15: Tweaking a System: Meal Planning
Day 16: Rabbit Trails to Mini-Zones
Day 17: Habits, Part 1
Day 18: Habits and Cues
Day 19: Habits and Rewards
Day 20: Reactive and Proactive Strategies
Day 21: A Clean Home Feels More Organized
Day 22: Schedule Recurring Tasks
Day 23: Make It Easy
Day 24: Make it Fun
Day 25: Write It Down
Day 26: Create Some Breathing Room
Day 27: Slow the Inflow
Day 28: Speed up the Outflow
Day 29: Create Homes for Temporary Things
Day 30: Make Staying Organized Part of the Family Culture
Day 31: Just Say No

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mom's Study: HTCI, Part 3

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I'm doing to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI. Today we're talking about Mom's place. Part One is here. Part Two is here.

Getting Sidetracked

Honestly, I don't know.

Is it better to declutter first, then try and fit your stuff into the furniture you have?

Or, is it better to figure out what furniture you want and how you want it put into the room--and then keep only what will fit into the furniture?

Monday, My husband and I went over to Mom's. Me to choose colours to paint her front entry way and him to install her baseboards.

What we found was Mom is the throes of cleaning out her study--a room she had told me she wasn't going to tackle until "next year."

But, she said, she was so sick of "looking at the mess" that she just had to do something about it--and she had an idea what she wanted to do.

One of the things Clark talks about in both editions of her book is sightlines--what you see from the doorway of the room. She has several suggestions about how to deal with them to give people a first impression of a clean home.

This is what you see when you come in Mom's front door (and look to the left to the study).

Sorry for the blurriness. I had a lot of trouble with the camera that day, it seems.

Apparently, it was all that stuff behind the piano and against that far wall in the study which was driving her nuts. The pictures on the wall were fine, she said, the pictures could stay.

So, while my husband worked on baseboards for the front entry, Mom and I moved furniture and cleaned walls. This is what we ended up with.

However, Mom hasn't really decluttered yet.

I honestly don't know if this is good or bad. On the one hand, there's only so much space and whatever she wants to keep in here will have to fit in it--and no more. It shifts the question in her head from: "what do I let go of?" to "What do I need to keep?" It may be a helpful exercise in self-limiting. (And that's a good thing).

On the other hand, there may end up being no room for all this stuff so it may stay right here. She may get tired of all the decisions which need to be made to deal with it--and everything will stay right here.

I don't know what's going to happen: but the sight-line from the front door does look better!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Converting Zone 2: My Back Entry

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I'm doing to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI. Today we're talking about my place.

I just got my own copy of the book and it is the second edition. The information is essentially the same, but Clark restructured it entirely. The whole CONVERT approach has been sidelined into a chapter allowing her to focus on elaborating the principles behind the concept of a house that cleans itself. I am glad she did it: things are much more clear in this edition. However, I loved the approach of the first edition, sectioning the house into zones and converting the house zone by zone , so I'm going to continue it.

My back entry way has been the bane of my existence ever since we moved into this house. I am tired of being tired of its dinginess and disorderliness. In May, I set about to make the area more functional, washing and repairing the pocket organizer, painting the boot shelf, making a flip flop holder from magazine holders, painting and reorganizing the baskets which line the stair well, even installing more coat hooks, and yes, painting the boards which hold them.

But it is still hard to keep clean.


Short answer: I still hate to be here.

Reading the second edition of Clark's book, part of the reason why became crystal clear. In the chapter titled "Create a First Impression of Clean" Clark mentions four ways to do that:
  1. Control your Sight Zones
  2. Corral Your Necessary Messes
  3. Utilize Camouflage
  4. Eliminate Inevitable Invisibles

That was it. I hadn't looked after the first or the last. In my very first blog entry about this area-- way back in 2008-- I'd mentioned my husband had been patching and sanding the walls for me.

Patching and sanding cracks, nicks and so on is, in Clark's words, "eliminating the inevitable invisibles." Repairing that sloppy grout or caulking which is impossible to keep clean, removing those stubborn stains, and cleaning the curtains are other examples.

I've decided it's time to finish the job already!

Thing is, we could be here a while.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mom's Front Entry: HTCI Part Two

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I'm doing to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI. Today we're talking about Mom's place. Part One is here.

Clearing out the Clutter and Cleaning.

I think that at minimum you need about three things to declutter: a bag for garbage, something for donations and something to hold items that belong somewhere else.

Mindy Starns Clark thinks you need far more than that: and she was right.

1) Trash bag and something to put the bag into to hold it up

2) Garbage bag and something to put it into to hold it up

3) Laundry basket or large plastic bin with handles

This is for things which have an assigned place in a different room. Every time this gets full,  Clark says, stop and carry those items to where they belong and put them away.

Here are the three important ones. I saw an idea on Apartment Therapy to use collapsible mesh laundry holders to declutter. They are holding up the bags.

4) Cardboard boxes with flaps cut off, in a variety of sizes for sorting.

These are for items which you will keep but do not currently have an assigned home.

5) More cardboard boxes with flaps.

These are for “Maybe” items. Put them away when full, put a date on them, and record in your day-timer a date 6 months from now to re-visit them.

6) Disposable plastic cups and tray (for sorting tinies)

7) Permanent marker

8) Blank stickers or label maker

9) A blanket

This gets tossed over it all when you aren’t working on it.
She hadn't though she would need a "maybe" box, but she did, so we set one up.

Yeah, it's a little full! Clark recommends shutting the box up and storing it for six months to re-visit later. I think it will function more like Maxwell Ryan's Outbox

We got everything out of the closet and the doors off.

I got the carpets off the floor. I used an ice scraper to remove the stuff the bottom carpet left behind. Neither of us are quite sure why the plastic/foam backing on the carpet stuck to the floor like that.

We washed the closet, the walls and the floor. And that's where I had to leave things. 
To be continued....

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mom's Front Entry: HTCI Part One

My Mom's front entry way is laid out poorly. Effectively, her front door dumps you right into a wall with the coat closet behind the door. Either you step to the left and enter the livingroom or to the right into the kitchen before you can even close the door.

 I am standing in the kitchen looking back to the front door. The closet is to the left, behind the curtain.

Because of that, we set up this little "entry zone" in her living room. It helps demarcate the space.

We have done our tour and taken our pictures. Here are some of the problems we saw:

sorry for the blurriness
This is the wall that faces you when you enter. Notice her purse on the floor in the kitchen. Living room is to the left--as is the entry bench set up to receive the purse. However, she's always on her way into the kitchen side, especially in summer when you don't have to stop to remove your boots.

For winter, my Mom wants a proper boot tray here for wet boots. However, we agreed that anything here makes moving in and out of this space awkward especially when more than one person comes to visit (like me and my family). We want to see if we can't make room for on in the bottom of the big cubby above.

There are two rugs on the floor. The one on the bottom is apparently stuck to the linoleum.
There are too many things on the floor.
Some of them needed to go into the closet.
Some of them--items leaving the house--need to actually leave the house, or find another home while they are waiting.
This is why things which belong in the closet aren't in it. It's blocked. These things should be in the trunk of the car to be delivered.

This is another reason why things aren't in the closet:

We converted the bifold doors into "regular doors" last year. The problem, of course, is that they won't stay shut, so she has put this elastic over the knobs. The problem with that solution is that there are now too many actions required to open the doors. It is too complicated.

In spite of that, the closet is too full.

(Those drapes by the door are drawn across it in winter to keep out the drafts. She did not take them down during the summer.)

Two people live here--my Mom and my five and a half year old nephew (N).

The entry way has to accommodate everything associated with their coming and going. The car is parked outside at the front.

In addition to solving the problems we saw, we have a few things we need this entry way to do.

  • space for drying winter boots
  • space for drying a snow suit
  • landing spot for N's backpack
  • landing spot for N's swim bag and gymnastics bag and items for music class.

We've brainstormed some ideas to help improve this space. In the meantime, Mom is to declutter the closet and remove the closet doors.

I'll let you know how it goes. We are doing this in real time.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Converting Zone 1: The Front Entry

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I'm doing to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI. Today we're talking about my place. My apologies, it's long.

Clark stipulates that the first zone or area to work on is the entry way.

Mine is essentially ell shaped.

At the stairs the hallway turns left where there are four doors and a dresser.

Identify the housekeeping issues in the area and figure out the cause of them. Solutions come later, much later, but since I am presenting everything at once, I will list those here, too.

  • The front hall carpet and the floor is filthy.
  • -------I have no cleaning routine in place for the floors.
  • solution: schedule a time to clean the rug and floors. Once a month is fine for now.
This needs to be washed in the machine and hung out to dry.

  • The back dresser is piled up with junk.
  • ------Once again, I need a routine for regularly cleaning it off.
  • solution: I think that once I get back to the daily pick up, this will resolve itself.

  • Coat closet is crowded.
  • -----Too much stuff. My husband has probably one too many coats in there, there's ironing which has been in there all summer and the drapes I've been meaning to sew. Time to get those things done.
  • solution: There's not much I can do about this--stay on top of the ironing, I suppose.
closet, before

  • The hall lights are not working.
  • ----It hasn't worked properly since I took the fixture down and painted it a year or so ago.
  • solution: Replace the light bulbs and see if that fixes the problem. It did!

  • The back hallway is dingy
  • ----The wall colour absorbs too much light for the space.
  • solution: Paint with a new colour.

The steps to Convert your area into one "that cleans itself."

1. Clear the clutter.

There really wasn't all that much to do....get rid of the mop I never use.......collect the odd gloves and wonder what to do with them........iron the shirts which have been patiently waiting in the closet all summer.......find a new home for the few art supplies which still remain.  It is no exaggeration to say that I have been working on this area for more than six years. All you have to do is follow the label "Front Entry" to read of all my different attempts at decluttering and reorganizing this area.

drawer before

drawer after

2. Open Up and Clean

....washed the drawer (hint: vacuum it first, then use a damp rag to wipe it out.)
...the dresser top and sides
...the walls, doors and door frames
...the floor
...cleaned the mirrors, the glass in the door, blah blah blah....

3. Neaten, Organize, Solve problem spots.

I think figuring out the purpose of the room or area is absolutely essential to know how to organize it at all. Clark doesn't talk about this in her book though Julie Morgenstern does in Organizing from the Inside Out. An entry way is fairly easy to figure out and it is basically the same for all of us, though the details will differ. Essentially, entry ways need to be set up to handle things coming into and going out of the house and store those things we need to wear outside the house.  As well, it is prime real estate so only the most frequently used items should be here. That means the camo hunting jacket and matching pants would ideally be somewhere else!

closet, after

Here's my in and out system:

The front door is used primarily by the kids to go and from school. My husband pretty much uses the back door (closer to the garage) and I use both. The chair in the hall way captures my daughter's back pack. I have met her half way on this--and I only require her to move it somewhere else--her room, the closet, I don't care--on Fridays. My son's room is on the main floor and he just carries all his stuff into it directly when he gets home.  Shoes and boots stay on the mat as needed. Mail is sorted the minute I bring it in. It is taken to the "office/dining room." Any papers which the kids need me to sign go into my folder on the dresser.

Library books to be returned go into the bucket (now lined with a library bag).  Letters to be mailed go on the shelf. Any papers or other similar items which I need the kids to get go into their folders on the dresser. Bags we use for shopping live in a basket on the floor of the closet.

The coat closet and the one drawer in the dresser. The closet holds coats, and sweaters. (It also holds projects and ironing (there is no where else, I'm afraid.)The drawer has scarves, gloves and hats...and the dog's mitts and coat. We only have one toque each and maybe two sets of gloves. We each have a scarf. That's it. When the kids were little we had more, of course, but not that much more. The more you have, the more you lose.

4. Verify the Rabbit Trails and Set up Stations.

I have no rabbit trails. Really, I don't. My daughter will be leaving not just her backpack, but her coat here soon. For many years I considered it but I decided not to hang up hooks because hanging a back pack and a coat out in the open for everyone to see, here, in my front hallway would be just as ugly as the coat and backpack lying on the floor or set on the chair.

Clark (as well as Garvey at Simplify 101) makes a distinction between a home "good enough" for living and a home that's "company ready." One of the things a house that cleans itself does is convert from the former to the latter pretty quickly. I think that asking my daughter to move these two items when we're expecting company is good enough, thank goodness. I don't know what I'd do if there was my son's stuff to deal with, too.

By the way, the collection bucket for the library books could be considered a station--the rabbit trail all the library books left all over the house. The thing is, we've had a designated spot  for finished library books for so long, I barely even think about it.

The silver bucket is our library book collection bin.

5. Examine Sight Zones.

Is everything within view of the entrance to the room that could turn into a disastrous mess out of sight?
Yes. As much as it can be. Though, I noticed when I was taking pictures that the mirrors reflect and import messes from other rooms. I don't want that!

6. Record Future Improvements Needed.

1. Scrape popcorn off the ceiling of the back hallway
2. Paint the walls to match the front hallway.
3. Paint the trim and the doors in the back hallway.
4. Re-paint the stair risers. They look pretty ratty.

7. Take Steps Now for Ongoing Maintenance

In Clark's book, she has a long discussion about setting up "Quick Cleaning Stations" in each room. It mostly involves keeping things like disposable wipes handy suitable for each of the surfaces in the room. I will not be doing this for this area. Again, if my kids were still littles, I just might stash a package of mirror wipes in the top drawer of that dresser. I remember the kids used to play in front of it quite a bit. And a little hand held vac would have been handy for the dustbunnies which collect in the corners.

8. The Checklist.

The checklist is a review of the principles introduced in Step 9 of the preparation chapters. Unfortunately, it is a long list and it is not entirely clear to me what Clark means, for example, by  “Use your family’s natural tendency towards convenience to keep your house clean" except, of course, to hang hooks in the hallway to catch my daughter's coat and back pack which I've already discussed. I imagine I'll go into this part in more detail when working on my Mom's place.

Next area for me is my back entry way. Hopefully, I'll have a post about Mom's soon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The House that Cleans Itself: Preparation

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I have done and what's left to be done to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI.

Before starting to work in each room, Mindy Starns Clark devotes about half the book laying the groundwork for the action you're about to take. There's a shift in perspective which needs to happen--a shift towards living more simply, towards thinking about your stuff differently and about approaching housekeeping without emotion. They are very important chapters and one of the reasons I'm so enthusiastic about this approach. There are, also, a few concrete steps which need to be taken in order to begin. I'm going to outline them today.

#1. Set up a notebook.

Hooray! My absolute favourite thing to do. (Weird, I know.)

#2 Draw a "Flow Plan." This is a floor plan of your house and yard, (including the car) drawn roughly to scale.

#3. Outline all the zones of your house. Number them in the order you intend to tackle them. Here's mine:

Two provisos:
a) The entryway, Clark suggests, should be #1. (In the book, she uses this area to discuss all the steps of converting your home from what it is to one that cleans itself).
b) Figure out your "Home Base Zone."

The Home Based Zone (or HBZ) is a place that "When it is clean you feel an inordinate amount of satisfaction and when it is dirty you feel an inordinate amount of irritation and stress." For me, that's the dishes and the kitchen counter.

Taken Tuesday morning at 7:30 am. Sorry for the blurriness.

I'm not entirely clear which one you are to tackle first, the HBZ or Area #1, but it doesn't really matter. There are a few things to do before you tackle anything.

The next thing reminds me of the "Clutter Detective Tour" you take in the FUNdamentals of Getting Organized at Simplify 101.

To do this step properly, though, Clark says you have to let your house "fall apart" for a period of time. I do wish I had read this before I started cleaning the house last week! (I hope) I'll never let the house go for two months ever again!

#4. Go through your house following the Flow Plan and write down every housekeeping issue you see either on a sheet of paper in your notebook or these sheets provided by the author here. Then, get up on a step ladder and take a few pictures.

#5a. Print your pictures and sit down and record what you see.

#5b. Get to the cause of it. The most important part of this exercise is to figure out why. Why is the back pack on the chair and not in the closet? (Closet is too far away. The hooks are full) Why are the papers scattered all over the table? (The papers have no proper home. No system for being dealt with.) Why is this particular counter or table top or whatever always cluttered?

I have done this sort of thing many, many times at my house. I am really curious to see what the process reveals to my Mom.

Just one thing, though. It's overwhelming to "walk through" the house this way. I am in the process of doing it and even I am finding it daunting--and my house isn't bad. I am afraid that folks like my Mom who live in partial denial just in order to cope will be immobilised by the exercise. I hope not.

Clark has a few more things for you to do (like talking to the folks who live with you about what you're about to do to their home, going on a prayer walk and setting up a devotional area) as well as a few chapters further explaining her approach.

But with these five steps, I'm ready to roll.

To recap:
1. Create a notebook. (done)
2. Draw a "Flow Plan" (done)
3. Number the Zones in your house in the order you plan to tackle them. (done)
4. Take a Tour (Gather Evidence) (in progress)
  • Write down any issues you see
  • Take pictures
5. Evaluate the Evidence.
  • Figure out the cause of the clutter and disorganization in any one particular spot. Don't over think this.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The House That Cleans Itself

How often do you get confirmation that you have been on the right track all along?

How often do you get the feeling that not only are you one the right track --but that you're probably 80% of the way to your destination?

I had a happy, happy epiphany this weekend reading Mindy Starns Clark's book The House that Cleans Itself.

This is an amazing book.

Clark says, "Rather than change your behaviour o fit your house, change your house to fit your behaviour."

What does that mean? Well, if you put your coat down on a chair by the front door over and over and over again, the solution is not to "train" yourself to hang up your coat. No, the solution is to put a coat rack where the chair is. That's the idea.

Since way back in the days of following Flylady, I have not only been learning how to keep house, but I have been trying to make it as effortless as possible. I am forever grateful to Aby Garvey and the courses I've taken at Simplify 101 that have helped enormously. Garvey's courses, albeit on organizing (and not cleaning per se) are all about how to set up your house and the things in your house to make it easier for you to get things done. Aby and Mindy are definitely kindred spirits.

Last night, I started searching around on the web for people who have followed Clark's approach. There were many, of course, who found the book, got excited about it and blogged about their intentions to follow it. Whether they did or not, they didn't blog about it. But I did find two people who followed through on the majority of the book: Plant City Lady and Proverbs 31. The book has its own blog, here.

I want to join them. But, as I thought about her approach and what I could do, I realised I am about 80 to 90 per cent of the way to a house that cleans itself already. I'm not sure that a series of posts about my using Clark's method in my home wouldn't just turn into a bunch of self-congratulatory nonsense. So, I called my Mom and asked her if we could work on her house using this approach--and if I could blog about it here. She said we could!

I think I'll do both. Mine --because I think it might be interesting to see what I might be able to tweak and improve and because I'd like to share some of the solutions I've discovered. And, I need to "get" that I already know what I need to know. Mom's --obvious. She is de-cluttering with gusto. This project will not only encourage her to keep going, but also give us a comprehensive approach to figuring out what to do and what to do next.

It'll be fun.

Friday, September 6, 2013

ReStart Report: The Bedroom and Living Room

This morning, sliding out from under my clean sheets, I had a pleasant start when I saw all the surfaces cleared in the bedroom.

I always underestimate how long the bedroom will take.

Here's what I needed to do:
Pick up and put away clothes, both clean and dirty!
Bring down laundry hamper of items which don't belong in the bedroom and put them away.
Put away items out on dressers and bedside tables
Put away the stack of books on the floor
Change sheets
Wash couch cover
Vacuum floor

This includes both daily maintenance and weekly chores. I decided not to do the seasonal flipping and vacuuming of the mattress.

I also tackled the living room.

It's hard to explain how much I hate cleaning this room.

It didn't need much: just a general tidy, dusting and a vacuum. But the carpet is in terrible shape and desperately needs a professional cleaning. (It got that way not only because of the dog but because of the cleaners I used to clean up after the dog.)

The upholstery on the couch is also a mess. I've tried steam cleaning it on my own--and probably did more harm than good. I have thought about--and even started sewing a slip cover--but with the dog keeping it clean is probably a lost cause. So, no matter what I do, the room never feels clean and I am afraid I've lost hope.

I apologise for the whining and whingeing.

A shot of the culprit being all nonchalant.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Re-Start Report: The Wednesday Edition.

My hands smell like bleach.

It took me thirty-six minutes to clean the tile in the tub and shower surround.

I always wonder, when I do this "let's get back into a routine and live in a clean house" endeavour just how far to take it. I mean, should I simply do the daily and weekly type stuff-- wipe down the fixtures, mop the floor, maybe wash the bath mat--or should I go all out and scrub the tile, the ceiling, and that barely reachable area behind the toilet which brings my face much closer to it than a healthy person's ought to be?

And that was just the bathroom downstairs.

Upstairs, in the powder room, I washed the wall underneath the towel rack. Anyone want to tell me why the walls streak? I mean, I get that water from our hands must be running down the walls--but why are the drips brown? I haven't smoked in that room since I quit almost five years ago now and I certainly haven't smoked in there since I painted it. It's weird and it's gross.

On second thought, please don't tell me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Report for Monday and Tuesday.

Such a happy place when it's clean!

Here's the list of things which needed to be done:
(Everything I got done is in blue).
  • Wash dishes. All of them.
  • Clean off counters
  • Take bottles and cans to the basement
  • Wipe down counters and stove
  • Clear off kitchen table
  • Clean kitchen table
  • Wash floor
  • Clean fridge
Plan menus for the month. I got two weeks done.

Other than zipping out to buy groceries and vacuum cleaner bags, I didn't get anything done on Tuesday. My husband was home and we spent most of the day watching the TV series Homeland. Compelling--and just like a good book, you have to go onto the next chapter/episode! In a little featurette on the first season's DVDs one of the producers (or the writers or someone) says the series doesn't want fans, it wants addicts. Well, it has two in this house!

Today, the kids are at school, and my husband is back at work. The dog is sleeping. It is so quiet, I just want to sit by an open window, feel the slight breeze and read. But the bathroom breaks remind me that duty must come before pleasure--even though it hasn't so far, today!

Thanks for your comments. They keep me going.

Monday, September 2, 2013

ReStart: Priorities and Plans

It's the start to a new year!

Really. The school calendar defined my life from pre-K to Highschool, four years of Undergrad and then a further six years of graduate work.

Now that my kids are back in the Public school system, they return to school tomorrow along with everyone else in the country! I'm excited. I am looking forward to cleaning my house--and having it stay that way, more or less, all day!

I took the summer off--from everything. I didn't plan it, it just happened. I did spend a few weeks decorating my nephew's bedroom--but I did nothing, absolutely nothing in my own house for two whole months. I'm not sure why I lost complete and utter interest, but I did. I'm not going to try and figure it out, but I'm not going to stop any thoughts which may occur to me, either.

It is difficult to know where to start when every single room needs attention NOW!

The living room needs a vacuum, the dishes picked up and the dvds gathered and put away. Blankets need to be folded and TV trays taken down. (Yeah, guess where I ate all summer?)

My home office/scrap room/dining room is an absolute disaster of papers and clothes needing ironing, books and binders.

The kitchen is outrageous. We even have an infestation of fruit flies at the moment because someone forgot (ahem) to take out the kitchen scraps stored under the sink. The counter hasn't been cleaned in a while, neither has the stove top, or the floor. Ugh. It's all very, very bad. (I'll spare us all a picture!)

I can't clean the whole house in one day. I figure it will likely take at least a week to make the house functional, clean and pleasant again. I need to start with determining my priorities and a plan.

It seems obvious to me that I need to start in the kitchen. As well, I need to plan my suppers for the month.

Start the daily checklist
Go grocery shopping
Clean bathrooms

Continue the daily checklist
Clean living room
Clean bedroom

Clean dining room

Continue with the checklist
Whatever needs to be done
maybe, go to my Mom's and help her with her home office or her bedroom, whatever she wants to work on next.

This week I'm dedicating it to a re-start and a renewal!
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