Noone ever tells you this!

Housework, if it is done right, can kill you. ~John Skow ---------

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Starting off the New Year Right - Organizing Once again

The week after Christmas I started working in my attic so that I could better organize my Christmas decorations when it was time to put them away again after the holidays.  I spent days cleaning out old clothing and knick knacks and then took them to Goodwill.  Then I spent a day getting out all the Christmas stuff that I haven't used in years.  I let my daughters pick what they wanted, set some back for grandchildren, then again took a big box to Goodwill.  My attic has never been so clean.  I bought storage boxes for my ornaments and the remainder of my Christmas stuff and everything is neatly put away so I'll know where to find it.  I even labeled a box of vintage items that I'll sell on Ebay at the beginning of next Christmas season - I was too late doing it this year.

Today a tackled another job that I've been meaning to get to.  My kitchen has limited storage space, but  I do have two nice pull-out drawers that I haven't made good use of.  Things have been mumble-jumbled in there for quite a while - it's really a catch-all for odds and ends.   I have many pots and pans - one for every occasion and just about any size you can think of - and many pot lids to go with them.  Don't you just hate to store pot lids?  I try to store them with the pots, but that makes stacking the pots difficult so today, I decided to clean out those two drawers and make a place for lids. 

Wow, how junky these drawers have gotten!  Hmm....everything but the kitchen sink in here but no organization.

No wonder I can never find anything.
Almost to the bottom of the drawer - but still a ways to go!

Finally there with fresh paper down!
Now the top drawer is holding all my lids.  To keep them upright and a little better organized, I put some of them in a box that fit just perfect at the back of the drawer. 

Now, the bottom drawer is empty with a fresh white lining so time to start filling it up.  Do I really need all those pie plates.  Actually this is after I took two of them out to take to Goodwill.  But there's a pie plate for just about any size pie I want to bake!  Besides, I might break one.  
I don't need those two lids though!   Someone will.   They're vintage, so I'll take them out and list them on Ebay.
Just like I listed the pretty vintage Pyrex Pink Daisy casserole dish on Ebay below:  It's worth quite a bit and it's just been sitting there forever in that drawer.

Aha!  Doesn't that look better?  A place for my KitchenAide Mixer blades - plus room for that old General Electric hand mixer that I received in 1966 for a bridal shower gift.  It still works like a charm.  They don't make them like they used to.  Also room for those Pampered Chef things that I thought I needed, but can do without.  Maybe I'll sell those on Ebay too.  Now I can find things.....and I'm wondering why didn't I do it before now! 

I surely hope I don't wait as long to post another organizational job as I did before this!  I'll just have to keep telling myself - "one step at a time"!  Happy organizing!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I have not done well keeping up with my "Chaotic to Orderly" blog this summer.  I'm blaming it on my chaotic and busy summer schedule.  Our seasonal business takes us to the coast for four days out of seven each week and there's not much room left for blogging about housecleaning.
Keeping two homes is a bit of a challenge.  It seems we're always cleaning up one of them in order to go to the other and vice versa.   I must admit though, that it's much easier to clean our tiny place at the beach than it is our rambling old big house with the high ceilings where spiders love weaving their little webs. 
I'm thankful that the seasonal business is coming to an end soon - only about five more weeks and we'll be home for good until next May - then it's starting all over again.  But speaking of seasonal - it's time to start packing away the warm weather clothes and get out the cool weather clothes.  Here in the South, we still have some 80 degree plus Fahrenheit days through October, so I always leave out a few transitional clothes to pack away later when it really turns cool.

Here's a few tips that I try to follow as I'm packing away each season's clothing:

  • Go through your clothing and pull out what you haven't worn all season.  If you haven't worn it this year, odds are that you won't wear it next year.  Give gently used items to a charity re-sell shop - you'll be glad you did when you're not faced next Spring with the decision to keep or toss.
  • Take time to launder or dry clean and neatly fold any clothing before packing away.
  • Clean and disinfect plastic storage containers before putting your clothes away.  Also line plastic with a sheet to prevent fragile items from picking up any discoloration from a colored plastic
  • Store like colors together - darker colors could bleed onto whites
  • Store in a cool dry place.  I store my items in flat plastic containers under my bed.  It's a tall bed with lots of place to store shoes and clothes underneath.  I store my husband's in empty suitcases in the closet since we don't do much traveling in the winter months.  Try to avoid attic spaces or basements.  They're damp in winter and hot in summer - which can really damage your clothes.
  • Our clothing that's been dry cleaned finds a spot in the back of the closet as do most of my dresses and my husbands sports coats and nice pants. 
I love bringing out my my good comfy Fall and Winter things.  They're much more forgiving of waistlines and varicose veins than my summer things.  Just thinking about it makes me want to get a cup of hot chocolate, a blankie and good book - turn up the gas logs and settle down for a long winter's nap.  See you next summer!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blame it on Mama

If you've been reading this blog, you realize that I am not Ms. Suzy Homemaker.   And those who know me well know that I am a master at placing blame for my inefficiencies on other people.  Well, I have always blamed my messy housekeeping on my mother.  I was always the “outside” worker in my family.  It was my job to help in the garden, mow the grass – feed and water the animals, etc.  My mother didn’t particularly enjoy housekeeping either so we had a house cleaner, Miss Josie, who came in on Saturdays - and it took us the rest of the week to find what she did with all our stuff.

I can remember going for sleepovers at friend’s houses and we all had to pitch in to wash the dinner and breakfast dishes.  I very rarely had to do that at home .  The dishes just always seemed to get magically washed sometime between bedtime and breakfast.  On Saturday mornings, under stern instructions from Miss Josie, I did have to pick up my room and put all the dirty laundry in the hamper.  “Girl - you ought’a be ashamed o’ yourself, piling up those dirty clothes like that – don’t yore mama teach you nothin’!”  I can just hear her say it now.  So logically, it was my mother’s fault for not teaching me to clean house.

But recently I had a revelation, which I have quite often now that I’m retired.  Not the Biblical kind of revelation but like the revelation of realizing that the job you held for almost 30 years will not crash just because you left – or like the revelation that not working means you can’t spend as much money – you know, those minor little things.  Well, anyway, it hit me that I only lived in my Mom and Dad’s house for 18 years and I have lived in my own for 45.

Children do learn by observing the adults in their lives.  But we have plenty of time in our adult lives to learn what we need to know.  Maybe I’m just a slow learner. Whose fault is it anyway that I haven’t learned how to keep a clean, organized house?  You’re off the hook Mama - and you did teach me how to love, laugh and be a good mother so you did OK!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Backsliding on Chaos

The month of July has brought a boom to our summer business at the coast - so much so that I feel that I have been backsliding on my quest of turning chaos into order in my house.  We've been spending four nights at the beach each week and 3 nights at home.  I barely have time to catch up on laundry and paying bills when I'm at home.   My poor kitchen is suffering from loneliness and depression.  She's depressed that I brought a bushel of peaches home and plunked them on the counter and haven't yet found the time to prepare them for the freezer. She's depressed that I made a quick trip to the grocery store this morning for pantry stocking items and didn't have time to put them up before leaving to go sit with my grandchildren while their mom is working.  She's not happy that I haven't swept and mopped her floors this morning after hubby tromping in and out from a rainy wet, and then freshly mowed lawn.  She's lonely because I've not been spending enough time with her.  She does have my rooster collection on the shelves to keep her company but they're the silent type and not very good companions.  But we'll work it out somehow.
My quiet little eclectic rooster collection

I did stumble across a cleaning tip last night that I thought was worth sharing.  My guest bathroom doesn't get a lot of use since we're not home enough to have guests so I've noticed lately that the sink is discolored right at the drain - nowhere else.  I don't know if it's sediment or minerals in the water, but it looked dirty.  I've used cleaners on it to no avail, so I thought I would tackle it with something stronger.  As I looked in under my sink in my lonely kitchen, the first thing I saw was a box of dishwasher detergent.  I remembered that I had luck using the gel kind on some outdoor furniture one time, so I thought that using the powder kind in my sink might work.   I shut the drain plug, sprinkled some in and turned on the tap just enough to make a paste.  I left it for a few minutes and then scrubbed it off.  My sink looked like new!  I'm not sure why it worked, but it did such a great job, I'm going to try it on other things in the future - not just in the dishwasher. 

Speaking of dishwashers,  I recently posted on how to organize your utensils in your dishwasher so they would be easier to sort when it's time to take them out and put them back in the utensil drawers.   Now it's time to clean the dishwasher itself.   I borrowed this tip from a website called Tipnut.

Cleaning the inside of dishwashers isn’t high on To-Do lists since they do a great job cleaning themselves while they wash dishes. Sometimes though there may be a few rust stains, detergent or mineral buildup or even an off-smell inside your dishwasher that you want to get rid of. Here are few quick & easy tips for cleaning things up.

  • Using citric acid to clean dishwashers is a popular trick, here’s how you do it: Fill the soap cup with 2 tablespoons of powdered citric acid (some even recommend just filling the soap dispenser with powdered Orange Tang since it contains citric acid) and run the dishwasher through a full cycle. This is especially good for removing rust spots inside the dishwasher (you may have to do more than one treatment).
  • To remove buildup of minerals or stains, run a full cycle with vinegar, here’s how you do it: Start the dishwasher and once it fills up with hot water, open the dishwasher and pour in a cup or two of regular household vinegar. Let the dishwasher finish its cycle. Another method is to set a bowl filled with 3 cups of vinegar on the bottom rack of an empty dishwasher. Let the dishwasher run for a full cycle.
  • Borax or Baking Soda Freshener: After dishes are done for the night and the dishwasher is dry, sprinkle a layer of Borax or baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher. Close it and let it sit overnight. The next day take a damp sponge and scrub the powder into the inside walls and door of the dishwasher. Remove most of the powder then run a full cycle on empty to remove all traces of the powder. Another method to freshen up the dishwasher is to toss in a cup of baking soda to an empty dishwasher then run it on the rinse cycle.
Smelly Dishwasher Tips:
If your dishwasher smells, you could have food trapped in the bottom filter. After running a load of dishes, remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher and look for any crud trapped in the filter on the bottom. If there’s food trapped in the holes, you’ll need to remove it and clean it. Also look around the gasket (particularly at the bottom where the door and dishwasher meet), you could have an accumulation of gunk in there that needs to be cleaned.

This is going to be my project for this evening when I get home.  I'm sure my kitchen will be a lot happier.  I may even get a start on preparing my peaches for the freezer. 

The key is not to tackle too many projects at the same time.  If you can't obligate yourself to a couple of hours of organizing, just tackle a small fifteen minute project.  You'll be surprised at how those fifteen minute segments can achieve your goal of going from chaotic to orderly - one step at a time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Declutter - one room at a time

 I don't know about you, but when I'm living in a cluttered space, I tend to feel overwhelmed, despondent and guilty all at the same time.  Sometimes I just ignore it, hoping the clutter will go away all on it's own.  I tend to get distracted from one chore and try to do another because it seems to need it more than the first.  Distractions tend to demand your attention and you find yourself going around in circles.  It's difficult to find things because there's so much clutter to have to look through.  Clutter confuses and refuses to let you have peace of mind.  

Recently I started decluttering my house - one room at a time.   I started with the kitchen, then moved to the den and then into the foyer.  My next project will be the dining room where everything we bring into the house tends to end up until we move it to where it should be.  My dining table is a virtual dumping grounds for things that don't seem yet to have a space of their own.   We bring something into the house and the very first place it goes is on the table.  It eventually gets sorted out and put in its proper place, but not quickly enough.  I keep vowing to stop this habit, but old habits are hard to break so I came up with something I hope will work.   I recently bought cute wicker storage baskets at a yard sale (remember, I'm frugal) and plan to keep them near the dining room table.  My plan is to label them so it will be easy to sort things by room and just cart things one room at a time instead of randomly carrying things room to room.

I have some tips for de-cluttering that may come in handy for you. If you will just do one room per week, you'll find that soon you will have de-cluttered your home and made it a peaceful and calming place to be.
Here’s how:
  • First, choose a room to do this week. Don’t try to do your whole house at once, it will be too overwhelming. In the beginning, skip the closets and drawers that are out of sight for now. You can do those later - for now just focus on what you can see.
  • Start with the big things. Is there too much furniture in the room?  If so, have a yard sale or donate them to a charity. 
  • Clear all flat surfaces. Desktops, tabletops, countertops, etc.  Get a couple of boxes and a trash bag and start clearing everything off.  Remove all papers, piles of stuff, little junk, knick-knacks, anything.  Put it on the floor.  That may sound drastic but now you'll be forced to deal with it.  Use one of the boxes to deal with the things you want or need to keep.  Try to find a place for those things out of sight - not on your flat surfaces.  The next box is for the things you can give away or yardsale.  Put it in the trunk of your car so you'll not be tempted to get it back out and keep it.  The trash bag stuff should be thrown out NOW - again so you'll not be tempted to retrieve it from the garbage.  Now put back only what you really want and need on your flat surfaces.  Doesn't that look better?
  • Repeat this process for any other “stuff” in the room, including stuff on the floor.
  • Be merciless.  The more you can get rid of, the better!
  • Pat yourself on the back!
Housekeeping is an ongoing process.  Work on de-cluttering daily if only for fifteen minutes at a time.  It won’t last long if you don’t have a system and develop habits to keep it that way.

Now sit back and enjoy the peaceful look of your home without all the confusing, distracting clutter!  When I get to that point - I'll let you know.  I'll just pray that I can learn to practice what I preach.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Frugal Organizer

I'm normally a very frugal person, but my first thought when I started my project of organizing my chaotic house was to hop in my car and go buy storage things to make my job easier.  I was thinking about closet shelves, drawer liners, cute baskets and boxes to put on shelves to make my "stuff" easier to hide.  I thought about those little magazine storage boxes that look cute on your book shelves and turntable gadgets for your kitchen cabinets. But then it hit me - I'm trying to simplify by getting rid of stuff, not buy more.

The first thing I did was look around my house - I haven't yet had the stamina to clean out my attic - that will be a wintertime chore.  We've had some 100 degree days lately, so I know what my attic feels like.  Usually when I open the door to my attic, I slam it shut again because I don't like what's facing me.  Besides, attics in 100 year old houses are scary.  Although it was scorching hot this week,  I braved it and found a few things I can use.  I found baskets, office organizers, vintage pretty bowls and dishes and even an old magazine rack.  There was even a unique little drawer that I had saved when my computer desk fell apart a while back (see, I can't throw anything away).  I found a neat old green wicker hamper and proceeded to haul out a few items - if not to use in my current project, at least I can use them as I progress in my goal to be organized.

My goal this week was to do a little organizing in my den.  I had some magazines and books stacked on the floor beside my reading chair that really needed to be cleared away and as much as I wanted them to, they were not going away by themselves.  The den was beginning to look a little disheveled so it was time for action.

Time to get rid of some of those magazines!  I had planned on clipping recipes and things out of them but it just never became a priority.  I began by throwing some of the older ones into the recycling bin, some of the newer ones I saved for my son-in-law's law office, and then there were a handful that I couldn't let go.   I took an office file folder holder and stacked them in it for display - magazine front covers are so pretty, they should be displayed!  The books were the same way - some I'll be giving away but I have a stack that I've been given or have bought and haven't gotten around to reading just yet.  They went into one of the baskets I found.
books to be read

Magazines displayed in a file folder upright tray.  Check out the article on the BHG cover - Get Organized - I think I need to read it.

I placed the small magazine rack I found on my old Eastlake table with some of my "coffee table" books that I had just laying around.  They look much neater contained.
My mother's handmade quilt went in the green wicker basket along with some throw pillows (I'll probably spray paint this basket another color since the green is a little wild for the rest of the room).
Pens and spare change go in old ruby red glass and the remote goes in a vintage rectangular milkglass bowl.  A gold chocolate tin is in the background to collect this and that things that hubby likes to put on the lamp table.
All of this organizing started a cleaning frenzy.  I pulled out all the furniture, took the rugs outside and aired and beat them before vacuuming them, swept, dusted and damp mopped the hardwoods.  My den and foyer haven't been this clean in a long time.  I've concluded that when you start organizing, one thing leads to another and all of a sudden you're really seeing your way through the clutter!  It makes it more fun to document what I'm doing and taking pictures along the way.  All I needed was some motivation - and a public declaration that I was going to do it!   I've got more accomplished in my house in the last month that I have in the year and a half since I've been retired!

Frugal me!  I didn't spend a dime.  Bring it on - I'm ready for anything now!  I'll let you know later what I did with the little drawer out of the broken desk - I knew it would come in handy one day. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Being single in a married world - One sock's story

As told to me by a lonely sock:  "We were both born to be part of a loving couple.  The two of us were meant for each other - we complimented each other in so many ways.  Our dreams, our goals were the same - we were a perfect fit.  What she did, I did - every step of the way.  "Whither thou goest, I will go" was our song, and now when I hear the lyrics, I'm sad because suddenly, I find myself without a partner - she disappeared without a trace - she didn't even say goodbye.  Now I find myself single in a married kind of world.  I am no good without her."

Does this look familiar?
This is my mismatched sock box - sort of a "singles club" for lonely socks.  Do you have one too?  This one is kept beside my bed where I fold laundry so that I can match when or if the other shows up again.  Eventually, most sock's partners do show up - they either get separated in different laundry loads or get left behind in the washer or dryer - making the single sock a "couple" again.  I have a rule of thumb that if they haven't made their appearance in about a month, they get relegated to my husband's workshop for wiping up oil spills or to my broom closet where they can be used as dust cloths.

Here's some tips on how to keep socks together:
  • Buy men's socks in bulk packages - 10 whites for sport socks, 10 blacks and 10 browns, etc for dress or casual socks.  Then if you lose one, just wait until you lose another and you'll still have a matching pair.  The same can be done with women's socks.  Trouser socks and sport socks for women come in bulk packages also.
  • Buy an inexpensive mesh lingerie bag for each family member's socks and place it beside their laundry hamper.  A 12" X 18" bag is about $2.  Just toss the whole bag in and you'll never have to match socks again.  In a perfect world, it could work that way, smile.
  • Rubber bands also work well.  Place a bag of rubber bands within easy reach of the hamper and ask each family member to rubber band their matching socks together before putting them in the hamper.  Some people use safety pins for the same purpose, but I'm always afraid they'll come undone in the wash and give someone a pinch.
If these tips don't work, do what my granddaughters do.  They buy bright and crazy pattern socks and mismatch them.  It's fun and trendy, but only the very young can get away with it.  If I were to try it, I'm sure I would hear giggles and laughs saying, "look at that old lady wearing mismatched socks - she's probably either blind or senile" ---- and they would be about half right!

The last I heard from the lonely sock, he was doing a rendition of Three Dog Night's lyrics:
"one is the loneliest number, since you went away".........