Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Dining Room Is Cleaned

I have joined yet another on-line cleaning challenge. This one is from A Bowl Full of Lemons. It is a fourteen week program to thoroughly clean and declutter every single room in your house. (Even though it is called a home organization challenge--it really is a spring cleaning challenge.)

This week, our focus was on the Dining Room.

You know how you know that you are going to clean something soon--and so it all just sort of goes to h*ll right before you clean it? That's kind of what happened here.

I broke it up into several days--all of which have blurred together on me. But here's what I did:

1. Unloaded the Expedit and washed




There was some weird film of greasy dust in each one.

2. sprayed spot cleaner on the spots on the drapes.

3. reconsidered and rearranged items in the china cabinet.

yep. There's a box of Christmas crackers on top of the coffee cups in there. I remember telling myself when I bought these that I really must remember to use them! Blast.

4. Wiped down the printer cart and tidied the baskets.

5. vacuumed the window screens and washed the insides of the window.

6. vacuumed the baseboards.

7. emptied the room--and washed the floor with Murphy's Oil soap. Then, I rinsed it. (I never, ever rinse it.)

8. Put the chair cushions into the washing machine.....and.....

9. Threw the drapes into the washing machine and hung them up wet to dry (so I could avoid ironing!) Didn't work.

But here we are. So lovely.

(I have it set up for every day--as a quasi home office. It coverts to a room for dining quickly and easily.)

still have to mount that picture properly

funny how one thing can pull everything together and make it look so coordinated and deliberate. That black and white buffalo check table runner which I bought for my Christmas table does that for me.

Big sigh.

This week: The "launch pads."

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Cure: Catching Up.

I feel quite behind, even though I've been working on the Cure or Cure related tasks nearly every day.

Time to catch up and come clean.

Assignment #1: Clean the Floors.

I did this...but only in the way that one would clean the floors during a regular weekly cleaning. I didn't bust out the stain remover for the stains in the carpet. I didn't get out the special wood floor cleaner and clean my wood floors. I just swiffered (upstairs) and vacuumed (downstairs). I did seewp the stairs thoroughly. (And two weeks later, I notice, they need to be done again.) I did not clean the kitchen floor at all.

So, in a way, I feel like that assignment still needs to be done.

Assignment #2: Make A List of Projects.

Assignment #3: Purge the Pantry.

Assignment #4: Set up an Outbox

Assignment #5: Declutter a Drawer.

I did this one very, very late, just before bed.  I actually asked someone on the AT Cure thread to tell me what to pick and I was told to clean either a drawer from the bedroom or the bathroom. Since we don't have drawers in our bathrooms, I chose the bedroom--but I chose the one where Ikeep my miscellaneous bathroom "toiletries." I never got around to blogging about it, so here we are.

Assignment #6: Clean the Kitchen.

Janel gave up the option of cleaning either the inside or the outside surfaces of our kitchen. Since my cupboards were long overdue (as well as the fridge and stove) I chose "inside."

I love it when my counter top is clean. I just wish I could keep it this way!

 I worked on it one drawers and one cabinet at a time. I was going to do a grand post when I was done--but I still have one cabinet left to do--and the floor, of course. Naturally, heavily used areas, like the stove top, counter top and the table need to be cleaned again.

Assignment #7: Observe: The Ten Minute Meditation.
I rarely do this one and I don't plan to do it this time, either.

Assignment #8: Clear a Closet and Assignment #9: Work on Your Project.

 Assignment #10: Get Your Get-Together Together.
Not having a get together.

Assignment #11: Clean the Bedroom.

Like the kitchen, this was a really big project.

I had a full day off to devote to it and enough bed-linens in reserve for the first time in a long time (namely an extra mattress cover and some pillow covers), so I didn't have to wait until all of the laundry was done in order to redress the bed. So, I was "done" in one day--not like the kitchen.

mid-way through the first day

But, then, the next day--also a day off, I decided to take down my curtains and wash them--and re-hem one of them.  But, fortunately, before I actually re-hemmed, I realised both panels had shrunk--so, now I have two curtain panels I need to re-hem--and no curtains on my bedroom windows. And no after pictures, either.

Assignment #12: Media Fast.
If I do this one, I'll let you know. The night it was scheduled for, I had to work.

Assignment #13: Lighten up the Living Room.
I think I am going to do the Dining Room instead.

Assignment #14: Medicine Cabinet Clean out.

Assignment #15: Look thru the Linens.
It wasn't that long ago I tackled this one.

Assignment #16: Scrub the Bathroom.
I really have to do a major overhaul of this room. The ceiling needs to be stripped and re-painted, the walls likewise. The grout in the tub/shower area needs a thorough scrub.

I just avoided it all weekend, really.

Assignment #17: Catch Up Day.
Believe it or not, I did nothing. Nothing. 

My husband, son and I did get out and see The Revenant, though. It deserves the hype it's getting. Glad I saw it even though I actually had to bring my coat up to my eyes and peak through it for some scenes. So gritty.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Menu Planning 2.0

I do up our menu plans each week, now. I find it easier to catch the sales that way!

My menu planning process is dead simple, really.

1) What's on Sale?

 I look through the weekly flyer to find out what is on sale. You could do this with multiple flyers if you shop at more than one store.

The store I shop at has a digital flyer where I can click on the item I want to buy--and when I am done, it generates a shopping list I can print.

I have a ceiling for how much I will pay for meat "on sale." This week, only the chicken breasts met my price point. Fortunately, I have other meat stockpiled in the freezer purchased throughout the month when it was on sale.

2) What Do we Have?

Clipboard and pen in hand, I go downstairs to the freezer and check on what we have.
Turns out, there's lots.

So, so far I have two lists--what's on sale and what we have.

The third piece of information I need is my work schedule. You may need to take other activities into account. I like to know when the kids are working, too.

2) When Am I Working?

If I am not going to be home to make supper--then I either plan something the kids or Chris can make--or I plan a crock pot meal. Turns out I have one shift next week that's from 1:15pm to 8:15 pm. Definitely a crockpot night!

Another night, I work until 4pm--so that is going to be something dead simple.

3) A Source for Recipes.

Recently, I have been using to find yummy calorie conscious recipes. I also have my trusty recipe binder. A pinterest board is another option: but if I used it to sort recipes, then I would probably have separate boards for each category: chicken, beef, fish, crockpot, vegetarian. Given the rising cost of meat, I now plan at least two vegetarian meals per week.

4) My Menu Planner.

I use a word document with a place for my schedule, dinner, and notes on the top half and a place for a shopping list on the bottom half. The shopping list is divided into categories, like so:

sorry, we print everything on scrap paper: you can see the other side bleeding through.

Whenever I choose a recipe, I type it next to the night I want to make it and then look it over for ingredients we need and type them into the appropriate category.

I will also add the sale items in a different colour so I don't have to flip through pages of stuff. (I do bring my print out for back up and clarification.)

Ta Da!

Here's my completed menu plan (and shopping list) for the coming week.  As you can see, this late in the month, all I really need is fresh food (and the sale items).

All set for grocery shopping this afternoon!

If you'd like a squeaky clean copy of my menu planning form, you can download it from Google Docs in two formats:

1) a WORD document:

2) a PDF document:

Do you menu plan? Would it be better if you did, or are you fine with deciding that day?

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Medicine Cabinets

I did these not too long ago. Looking back, I see, to my shame, that I didn't even attempt to clean the shelves. I was probably rushed.

I was a tad rushed doing these, too.

The upstairs bathroom cabinet.

Those prescription bottles were empty.

I had to use my scraper to get up the gunk on the bottom shelf.

It was quite nasty. But it is all gone now, thank goodness!

Downstairs didn't take long.

You know how the organizing advisers always say to sort and keep "Like with Like"? They usually mean things like all the bandaids and bandages, etc should be kept together. But not in my cabinet. "Like with Like" means things of similar height will be grouped together.

I also did the cabinet beside this one. It took a little longer.
I forgot to grab a "before" shot!

This is all a precursor to the weekend assignment coming up, of course: cleaning the entire bathroom! I'll focus most of my efforts on the one downstairs. I need to clean and seal the grout.

It's really not going to all that fun.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

A Project at Mom's: Tool Organization. Day One

So, when we left off, we were staring at this:

For now, my plan is to remove the cabinet and the card table and set up some shelves. Since I can't really build anything right now, they're going to have to be those black resin shelves. She has a few of these units throughout. Here's one on the porch--wouldn't you know it? It's already holding some tools.

I actually bought another one--I wasn't going to even attempt to extricate this one! But I might use a few of the baskets on it!  

This porch needs to be torn down and replaced--another reason to get the tools into the house!

I've also bought some plastic bins and I'm going to try and use them to wrangle some organization out of the mess that way. The goal is to make the tools accessible--easy to find--easy to put back.

But first, I needed to get that cabinet down and see what's going on with the window back there.
What a chore! It took me probably twenty minutes to find a screw driver. Then, I had to spend another ten looking for a work light so I could even identify the screw head! I will be so happy once this is done!

Anyway I got it emptied and down. Then I brushed the walls with a corn broom. Her old dryer used to sit here and the area was just caked with lint.

That's a seriously boosted photo, folks. No way is that area that well lit. It might be when we're done, though.

My Mother had an addition built onto the side of her house about twenty-five years ago. (It's the area with the little shed roof to the right of the front door in the photo above.) That addition totally blocked this window--it no longer had any access to the outside. However, she had used it for two things:

1) Her outside tap ran through the opening, and
2) Her dryer vent also ran through it.

The animals who worked on her house decided to run the heating duct through the opening. And I suppose that would have been OK--except they never sealed it back up.

Never. sealed. it.

In a climate where it can go forty degrees below zero. In a climate where it is below freezing five months of the year.

So, I have to seal it up. Obviously. But it isn't all that obvious exactly how I am going to manage it.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cleaning the Cleaning Closet

The stars aligned.

One of the projects on my project list just so happened to be an assigned Cure Project!

I first organized this closet--I call it the Cleaning Closet because it holds most of my household cleaning supplies--as well as other essentials like lightbulbs and hand towels and vaccuum cleaner bags--back during the Spring Cure of 2011.

It has been working well for me all these years--and I hadn't touched a thing, since.

So, as you can imagine, things were, ahem, dirty. Namely, the carousels, or lazy susans, if you prefer.

This project was only supposed to last 30 minutes. Didn't matter if we didn't get done, Janel said. Just start.

So I started at the top. Emptied everything out. Wiped down the shelf paper. Washed the carousels.

After 30 minutes I had this:

and this:

and this:

I couldn't very well leave it like that, now could I?

So, I swept out the bottom and then, carefully, put everything back.

I managed to fill one bag with trash (doorknob) and two bag with donations (floor). It was mostly stuff related to the dog we don't use anymore--including two stuffies. The animal shelter should enjoy them!

That felt good. A big win.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The House Project List for 2016

One of the best assignments of the January Cure is to make up a list of projects we want to complete around the house. I love doing these--they set the tone for the whole year. 

Last year's list was quite extensive--and we got a fair bit of it done too. Some of the projects we did are linked to blog posts and some we've done and haven't posted yet.

I have carried over some of the items I didn't get to on that list to this one, so this will replace that one.


There are a lot of weeds, there, right where I want some decent plants. But you can appreciate how shady it is. This is July. Noonish.

Maybe one shrub this year. I may give up on deciduous. A low growing cedar, perhaps?

Front Entry:

  • Replace ceiling fixture. done, not blogged.
  • Wash lower walls and baseboards.
  • Paint the wall to match the back hallway? done, not blogged.


  • Finish staining the handrail and topcoat
  • Touch up paint nicks on stairs. (Yes, already! We only finished in September.)
  • Sew new curtains for window. 
  • Make or buy and install screen for window. (summer breezes!)

Coat closet:

  • Install a hook for the step ladder

Cleaning Closet: 

  • clean turntables holding cleaning products. Done! One of the January Cure's projects.
  • declutter, done. (see above.)

Living Room:

  • Wash and iron curtains
  • spot clean, bleach and wash slip cover  done.
  • spot clean carpet

Dining Room:

  • Rehang this engineering print.
  • Scrape up paint on the floor done, not blogged
  • remove resin on floor
  • sand and remove resin topcoat on table. Replace with a matte topcoat or rebuild table top?
  • attach legs to the top of the table.


  • Touch up paint on cabinets.
  • Scrape up paint spots on the floor. done.
  • Put up hook for pendant light cord by plug in.

Downstairs bath:

  • Clean grout
  • repaint walls
  • make hole for fan bigger and/or buy a better fan. Chris made a bigger hole, but it didn't seem to solve our problems.
  • figure out why the toilet isn't flushing properly and fix it.
  • Redo ceiling panels. (Scrape and sand off peeling paint, prime and re-paint or varnish.)  Chris re-sealed with a shellac based varnish, but they are still yellowing.
  • Wash ceiling in tub/shower area. Re-paint?
  • Paint the back of the bathroom door. Done!
  • Install hook or towel bar on door (or both).
(There's a one room challenge starting April 7th. This just might be a candidate!)

Upstairs bathroom:

  • Wash walls. Walls washed and painted. Almost. We've been at this bathroom refresh for a month!
  • Remove wire shelving? done.
  • Remove clog in toilet plumbing we bought a new toilet! Post to come.


  • Organize paint supplies. Done.
  • Paint stairs and re-tack stair mats
  • Declutter basement storage area with the recyclables and the bottles and cans.


Scrape up paint in hallway and dining room
Call phone company to install jacks on main floor
Sell/Donate the boxes of books in the garage. Done.
Begin the process to wire the house properly.

I'm also involved in a few projects at my Mom's this year. It's going to be a busy year!

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