Spring Cleaning

April has been the beginning of spring and the start of my spring cleaning! The last time I deep cleaned my house was this past summer which you can follow in my previous “Dirty People” posting under the “US” section or the “cleaning” tab. During my summer cleaning frenzy, I spent one day per room working around my house in 10 days. This was an absolutely necessary but exhausting process. This time around, I have decided to do an average of 3 rooms per week, taking 4 weeks to work through the house.  I’ve been moving a lot slower this go around, and making notes, of small projects I’d like to do shortly after I finish. These are extensions of spring cleaning; like purging clothes, getting rid of extra junk in the basement, and giving away old books we no longer want around. The list is getting longer, and I am realizing I need to move quicker or the warm spring weather will soon capture me to the outdoors before I finish inside! So far, I think I like stretching the cleaning process out to give myself time in between for daily life. And in all reality, this is all I really have time for when you add in daily chores, taking care of Ella, cooking, work, and my prior commitments. I must also add, that despite my feeling the need to clean baseboards and wash curtains twice a year, having a clean house makes me feel good. All the hard work, does pay off, at least in a temporary bit of relief that for the day, I can see beyond a layer of dust.

Here has been my spring cleaning schedule this go around…

Week 1: Clean the basement, the car, and our attic.

Although we have periodically purged unnecessary boxes and sporting equipment from the basement, we now have a large pile of things that need to be sorted through and dropped off at the DI or trashed. Fortunately, we had just thoroughly cleaned the basement with our mouse hunt this winter. I spent one afternoon vacuuming out my car and wiping it down, sucking up many Cheerios and Craisins. Lastly, I deep cleaned the upstairs attic which included removing and washing my furniture slip covers. There are still some things I’d like to go through making room for less holey linens and a few new books.

Week 2:  Cleaned the living room, family room, and bedroom.

The hardest part of cleaning these three rooms was moving the furniture to vacuum and wipe the baseboards. Our bedroom furniture is so heavy and the bed so big I couldn’t get under or behind it. This was certainly the most frustrating part. In my living room, I was able to clean out our very old fireplace after a long winter. There were several cobwebs and dust on the blinds and windowsills that got wiped off. I polished all the furniture with a homemade olive oil and lemon juice polish. The furniture got vacuumed and the bed got stripped and everything washed. My dressers and closet where re organized although I still need to go through and purge clothes. I felt like I had accomplished something this week when I could look around and see a much brighter living area.

Week 3:  Cleaned the bathroom, hallway, Ella’s bedroom, & laundry room.

This week I wiped down the entire bathroom including under our claw foot tub and behind the toilet. The blinds and curtains were cleaned and all the baseboards were wiped. These were definitely the dirtiest baseboard yet! There is not much to cleaning our hallway but Ella’s room  took two days working around a toddler. I spent quite a bit of time rearranging her room, boxing up outgrown clothes (thanks to old diaper boxes), washing curtains and linens, and re organizing dressers and the closet to pack away her baby things. I’m looking for a few new and fun things to add to her room. I found personalized growth charts on snapfish.com which I hope add to her wall. I also hope to create a family tree out of wall stencils. We’ll see when this project gets done! The laundry room is our everything room. I had stacks of papers to sort through and baskets to re organize. Pete helped me move the washer and dryer to pick up lost socks and vacuum up dust balls that had collected. This was the busiest week of cleaning. Lastly, next week I have the kitchen left to finish my month of spring cleaning.

Week 4: The kitchen

I saved the kitchen for last for two reasons. The first is, this is the room I dread the most because it’s the dirtiest, most chaotic, and the most used. It therefore gets dirty the quickest. Ending with the kitchen will help me be able to see more of the finished product when it’s done as the rest of the house doesn’t get quite as filthy as fast. This process will probably take two full days of cleaning out the refrigerator, drawers, pantry, and then moving appliances getting the dried food shoved behind hard to reach places. Then there are the blinds, the oven, microwave, and the food stains splattered everywhere on the walls. Needless to say, this will be hardest job and the longest.

Once the kitchen is complete, I plan to do one more quick swipe of the rest of the house revisiting with a quick clean. Then it’s off to purging and working on my smaller projects before moving outside to the real “spring” cleaning. Gardening, planting, and yard work!

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Daily Routine

The art of staying at home and organizing your day around a compiled list of chores and daily routines might sound fun, but can quickly turn both complicated and frustrating. Daily routines, housework, and cleaning are hot topics in our world today. Everyone is looking for ways to accomplished more in a shorter period of time; ways to do and be everything; and ways to put a checklist of satisfaction to the chaos and dissatisfaction associated with today’s hectic lifestyle. For us “stay at home” moms, it gives a sense of achievement amongst dirty dishes, repeated temper tantrums, and diaper changing. If you do a google search for daily routine, you will find yourself hammered with almost 9,000 hits including blogs galore, websites, and books to answer all your questions and needs. Flylady.net is one popular website offering helpful tips and hints on planning your day around routine. I own the book House Works by Cynthis Otwnley Ewer owner of organizedhome.comI love her book, and have found many helpful tips on deep cleaning, and daily tasks.

I must confess, that despite the unlimited knowledge and resources available on the subject of daily routine, I still struggle with what an organized home looks like. I often picture clean countertops, dresser drawers with neatly folded shirts, kitchen cupboards with rows of organized can goods, and a wiped down fridge without that gunk caked on the shelving. Since being at home with Ella, I have tried several different weekly routines. I started with categorizing chores based on days. Monday was laundry, Tuesday was ironing, Wednesday food shopping, you get the point. But I would jump ahead of myself and end up ironing on Monday and needing to head to the grocery store a day early. So then I tried, each day to do one house cleaning job, one fun project, one load of laundry, bake one thing, etc. But I couldn’t keep up, and got frustrated quickly. As Ella’s napping has changed and her activity during the day has increased my need for more attentive monitoring, I have modified yet again. Here is what i have found to work thus far.

Each day my goal is to accomplish the following things:  Load and unload the dishwasher  Do 1 load of laundry   Sweep the kitchen floor   Make my bed   Pick up the house   Wipe down the kitchen   Wipe down the bathroom sink and toilet   Feed, water, and check the chickens

Usually, I can get two or so done in the morning before Ella naps in the afternoon, but sometimes  nothing gets accomplished until I have a quiet house. (Note: For those of you, who never have a quiet house, I suggest setting your goals low, using quiet play time, or having the children help as tools to get some things done during the daylight hours. But being that we only have one kid, I may not be much help to those with multiple children. ) This also doesn’t include some other basics like showering, cooking dinner, baking treats, exercising, or running errands.

Then I have a weekly list that look something like this:  Vacuum  Mop floors  Clean the bathtub  Water plants  Iron clothes   Update budget  Clean out car  Clean out fridge  Pick up dog poop  Plan out meals and the week  Clean out emails  Contact family  Straighten up laundry room (which is our mail and “drop off” area for everything)

I allow myself the whole week to accomplish these things and just note which days I get what done. This gives me more freedom during the week to pick and choose what and when I need to get something done. It also helps me track how long its been since I’ve dusted or cleaned the toilet. I have found this offers more flexibility in my weekly routine.

Lastly, I make a small list of goals for the month. Sometimes these don’t get finished or even started and so then they get bumped to the following month. But it helps me remember projects I want to do during down time. Some of these things have been photo albums, Christmas shopping, thank you cards, canning, etc.

Organizing my daily life around these lists, has helped free me from the burden of always feeling like I should be cleaning or never watering the plants. It has been a helpful balance of guidance within a daily routine.


Dirty People

Work hard… Play hard! Because this has been Pete’s motto (and mine) over the years, we do little sitting around, lots of outdoor playing, and therefore, our house can get extremely dirty really fast. Despite different standards, we both desire cleanliness. Pete is more of a pile guy, while I am more of a wait until I can make it perfect girl. Since being at home with Ella, who doesn’t seem to grasp this concept of cleanliness yet, my house is dirtier than ever! Each day, during nap time I go around and pick up “things”, make the bed, unload the disherwasher, etc. But somehow by the end of the day, everything is dirty again. Then about twice a year, I get a drive to “deep” clean. I think deep cleaning is a lost art that women use to do years ago when they would pack away winter curtains and comforters and pull out spring items. I doubt if I have no time to deep clean, most other women don’t either. Some might hire maids to do this job, but I get a kick out of the challenge.  So, over the next 10 days my goal is to deep clean our entire house. Well, minus the basement… that is Pete’s job. Let me also prefis with a few tips on the grunt work that I did. In anticipation that the house would get worse while cleaning it, I did a light cleaning job prior to the deep cleaning. I thought this would help my OCD behavior when trying to wash basebaords I wouldn’t be too distracted with dust on bookshelves. I also washed the bathroom shower curtains and bathroom curtains ahead of time. (I have a claw foot tub and it takes 3 shower curtains to go around the whole things.) Pete and I cleaned out our closets and I went through all loose papers floating around. I also threw away all old food in the fridge. I’ve decided for motivation, and also accountability, I would blog my progress. However, I am only allowing myself blog time post all chores. I might also add that my plan it to spend time picking up my house before bed so that I may have a fresh start in the morning. Maybe you too will be energized to wash a few curtains or scrub a full baseboards. Ok, here we go…

Day 1: Kitchen I

The kitchen is the most daunting, intimidating, and dirty part of the house. I therefore, decided not only to start with it, but to split it into two days. Today, I cleaned the refrigerator, the freezer, the microwave, and all the cabinets including the pantry. Tonight, I’ll run a self clean on the oven. I organized my freezer into four sections bread, meats, frozen fruits and veggies, and frozen meals, etc. I took a few wet wipes and wiped down all the shelving in my refrigerator including many can’t see spots. Unfortunately, a few things did get tossed. I dusted and vacuumed out the inside of each cabinet, removing everything inside and then reorganized where some things went. Ella helped with this part. In the pantry, I put some floating items in cans and jars that I had laying around, and grouped items by can and dry goods and baking goods. Hopefully, this will make it easier to find what I’m looking for. It’s a good thing I split this into two days, because it literally took me all morning and part of the afternoon to complete just those things!

FYI: After I finished cleaning the kitchen, I left for a few hours while Pete took Ella for a run. When I returned home, Pete showed me this peach, and said “Great job deep cleaning, but you seemed to have missed something”. I just cracked up laughing! Yeah Kristin, way to miss the obvious!

Day 2: Kitchen II:

Today, I completed my kitchen working from top to bottom. I must say, after a 10 mile run this morning and a 5:30am wake up, I am really pooped! Today, I used a feather duster, several rags, vacuum, broom, mop, and two natural home made cleaning products. Last night, I was going through my recipe book and found these home recipes for cleaning agents. I was again motivated to go GREEN! For a general cleaner I put 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar in a spray bottle. I used this to clean my door, baseboards, counters, and floor. I then made a furniture polish using 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/8 cup lemon juice. I used this to polish my table, cabinets, and high chair. Here is what I did today…

I began by dusting off the top of my cabinets, window, and the molding above the doorways. I then vacuumed and wiped down the blinds. I followed with the baseboards and vacuuming behind the refrigerator and stove. (Side note: If you remove the bottom drawer of your stove you have easy access to what is underneath without the hassell of moving it.) I then cleaned off my stove top and polished the stainless steel with a special cleaner. I followed with the dishwasher and refrigerator. I then polished the table, cabinets, and highchair. (After cleaning them of course.) Lastly, I put away my dishes in the dishwasher, washed and reloaded what was left, cleaned the countertops moving everything in its path, swept and mopped the floor. I might also add, although I almost never do this, I did get on my hands and knees to wash the floor. This way I could scrape leftover food products that had been caked on for months. However, I did forget one thing… dusting off the light fixture, which I will have to go back and do this evening. I went ahead and took pictures since, sadly, my kitchen won’t look like this when my deep cleaning project is completed eight days from now.

Day 3: Bathroom

Well, it’s 10:00 pm and I confess I didn’t finish my chores for the day. In fact, here is a picture of my kitchen right now! (One day after deep cleaning it.) It certainly has been a very long day however, and as much as I did not want to clean the bathroom tonight, I did. After a morning run, a 8 mile hike through the Uintas, and a cup of coffee… I began tackling our whitest room. White because I have white and blue towels, white shower curtains, white curtains on the window, white blinds, white bath mat… you get the point. Everything was washed and BLEACHED prior to cleaning today! I began with dusting off the tops of the molding, the blinds, cabinets, etc. I then cleaned the tub, the sink, and toilet. I cleaned out both medicine cabinets, and wiped down all the baseboards. I got behind the toilet and under the tub where dust loves to go, wiping down the floor with my vinegar and water mixture. (I did have to vacuum some first too of course.) The floor got swept and moped lastly. I did do two things I have never thought to do. I cleaned out the toilet bowel brush/container by filling it with water and vinegar, and letting the brush soak. I also removed our baseboard air vents which collect a ton of dust! I washed the vent off and tried to vacuum out the inside. I wasn’t that successful, but something is better than nothing in this case I guess. I then went into our little hallway and did the same thing. Wiped from top down and cleaned out our hallway dresser that contains extra bathroom accessories, like toilet paper. Here is a picture of this baseboard vent that got removed and cleaned. I should have a before and after picture because disgusting doesn’t quit describe its condition. I now believe in hiring someone to come out and clean all the air ducts in your house. Probably worth every penny! The bathroom wasn’t as bad as I thought, the hallway was actually worse. But tomorrow I will have double the work, as the rest of my house has suffered from the neglect today. And its laundry time again, as every single rag has been overly used!

Day 4: Laundry room

The laundry room in our house is right off of the kitchen and also serves as the mail room, key area, phone and bag drop off, cleaning supply stash, etc. A few months ago, I had Pete build me a shelf and bench set to use as a storage area and organizational spot for all our “stuff”. This has helped tremendously with the lost key, wallet, and dog leash problem. Everything now has a home, even those unused phone books. Today, my goal was to reorganize what had been cluttered in this area, and do a top down cleaning. I began with dusting off the blinds, which have been hand-made to fit our awkward shaped windows and therefore, I did not dare take them off to wash! The cobwebs were found and destroyed behind the washing machine and dryer, along with all the lost dirty socks. Pete helped me move both monster machines and vacuum behind them. I wiped down the tubing and baseboard, and then did the same thing behind the bench. I have created a cleaning tub that holds everything I would need to clean any part of the house. This way, I can cart it around with me instead of running back and forth. That’s the idea anyway. I also have three baskets that sit on my washing machine. One for our clothes, one for Ella’s clothes, and one for dirty towels, dish rags, etc. It makes sorting and doing laundry super easy. The shelf that hangs on the wall holds a basket full of computer, phone, and camera chargers, and a basket full of craft/misc things like tape, scissors, markers, etc. I can hang coats there in the winter or running hats in the summer. On the top of the bench lays our charger, and the three baskets on the bottom of the bench hold outdoor things, dog stuff, grocery bags, and phone books. Of course, there is our calendar for full view so that no one forgets important appointments or work schedules. We have our recycling bin and dog bowl in here along with the baby gate and drying rack. Its amazing what can fit in this tiny space! The main point of today’s posting is to share what has helped me become more organized. I love this little room because it’s not only practical but incredibly functional!

Day 5: Family room

Our family room is also our entry way and the central social location in the house. We have a couch, loveseat, and chair in the room which comes in handy when we have people over.  The fun part of today’s cleaning task was not re organizing but re decorating. I have a fair amount of molding, doorways, and baseboards to clean. I worked from top down beginning with the ceiling fan. I moved the furniture and worked around the room finding toys, hard crackers, and dust to be vacuumed up. Don’t tell Pete but I even moved the bookshelf to clean the thick layer resting behind it. I pulled the cushions out from the couches and chair vacuuming out the crumbs underneath and on top. I polished the furniture, and even moved the books on the bookshelf dusting off months of collection. Once the room was completely clean, I worked on a little reading/play nook for Ella. Although, I don’t believe in big toys for kids, it’s mainly because we have absolutely no room in our home for them. I have also never been a fan of kids taking over the house with “stuff”. Ella does have lots of other toys in her room and in the attic, but this is the central location where she spends most of her time. I try and swap out the toys every now and then to give her variety.

Pete and I are pretty neutral people, so I have added some soft blues in the room including a rug that is on its way. I love having one chair on the opposite side of the room with a little table that serves for sipping coffee, reading, or blogging! Unfortunately, the one thing about this room that I do NOT like, is the carpet. Because we have so much traffic coming and going in our house, and because we are dirty people, our carpet pays. I have had it cleaned several times and someday we hope to rip it up refinishing the painted hardwoods that lay underneath. I want my family room to be a place where people walk in and want to sit and stay for a while. A place that embodies comfort and peacefulness. A home that is clean, yes, but more importantly a safe haven where other’s know Christ is present.

Day 6: Bedroom

Today I was reminded of why I have taken on this cleaning task. I woke up exhausted, unmotivated, a little down, and ready to throw in the rag. Not atypical of what happens half way through projects for me. And as I moved slowly through our bedroom attempting to move unsainly heavy peices of furniture; I was on my knees dusting and vacuuming those darn baseboards, when I said to myself… this is the test Kristin. You see, after being at home for a year, working a small amount, but mainly enjoying motherhood; I started craving a challenge. I began feeling complacent in my daily life, and a little too comfortable. Now, don’t get me wrong, a deep cleaning project, is really no faith challenge, but it can be a character test. Because half way through this silly project, when I want to stop; do I have it in me to finish what I have started? Or do I quit because thats the easy way out. This is so true of the many things we face each day. And I have begun to find myself choosing the quiting road. This time, I needed something that I knew would make me tired, frustrated, and stretched to push myself to go the extra mile. And so on my knees, I realized this is how we should take our faith. We need to challenge our beliefs, question our God, and then push ourself beyond comfort to reach a greater goal. In the end, there is not only a sense of accomplishment, but a growth that can only be had through dirty and uncomfortable situations. So, yes, I cleaned my bedroom today, and although all I wanted to do was crawl up in my clean bed, I prayed to my God,  ”may I seek you out with the same drive I have to complete a to-do list.” For I was reminded, in the midst of my filfth, our God is there to cleanse us from our sins, and one day bring us to completion.

Today’s cleaning job included washing the sheets, curtains, pillows, comforter, and mattress cover. (I even rotated the mattress) I did my best to vacuum under the bed and furniture. I cleaned out both dressers and the closet having fun with Pete’s ties. Despite being a small room, there was quit a bit of dust and dog hair laying around. I am most bothered by the dust bunnies that are still laying underneath our bed where I could not reach, although I guess perfection is not really the point.  With my afternoon left, I have a whole rest of the house to tend too…oh yeah… and a child. Anyone cleaning with me yet?

Day 7: The Red Room

We call this room the “red room” because the walls are painted red, but also because we don’t know the purpose of the room. The owners before us used it as a dinning room, and I suppose it could be a fancy living room, but for us it has been empty for the past four years. We just recently got two chairs and moved my mom’s old wash basin in there. Really, its been a decorating tug-o-war and therefore, hasn’t been touched. Pete wanted to turn it into a bar area with a pub table and dart board. I wanted a big long family style table for entertaining. The one thing we could agree on was turning it into a library and reading area. Now it will be a perfect spot for cold winter evenings.

This was the quickest room to clean primarily because its used very little, and there is very little in it. It made for a nice cleaning day! I did move the books on the shelves to get the dust behind and underneath, and at least got all the baseboards and floor vacuumed. The room; however, still feels like it needs decorating help. Right now, I am using the dresser and wash basin as an end table and buffet to hold table clothes, serving dishes, etc. I still have no clue what to do with the mantle, and there is little on the walls. This room will probably be the last to feel complete, but at least it will always be clean!

FYI: I am not including window washing in my deep cleaning process. This will be done separately in the Fall.

Day 8: The Nursery

The one caviot to cleaning your child’s room is that they are around to undo what you do.  Since kids are really good at making messes, this can get tricky. Ella loves to go through her dresser drawers pulling things out, so I spent time rearranging where I stored items. For example, the medicine basket had to get moved from the second drawer to the top drawer. I also put away infant gear that wouldn’t be used again. Finding a spot to put everything was a little difficult. I wasn’t sure what to put in boxes in the basement, what to clean, and what to keep upstairs within reach. I boxed up her infant carseat, gathered together and boxed up all breast pump equipment, and stored her clothes in bins that I placed under her crib. In the changing dresser, I kept blankets, sheets, towels, burb clothes, etc while the other dresser has all her clothes, socks, shoes, and medical supplies. I was able to keep most infant items in the closet with room to spare. Hopefully, the new organization will make for a safer and more organized room. I took apart and washed all the bedding and curtains, vacuuming all hard to reach areas. I found lots of lost cutips, toys, and socks. The room itself wasn’t too dirty, but it was chaotic. Sorting and re-arranging a kid’s room seems to be a constant task, as they grow, and out-grow so much.

A child’s room has the potential for fun and creativity. I love the idea of having a chalkboard, tons of books, coloring paper, and a little table to be creative at. That seems a bit too much right now, so instead we have gotten Ella her own rocking chair, ottomon full of toys, and a few big and fun stuffed animals. She has a little rug to play on and big french doors to look out of. I love that the room gets lots of bright light during the day. I have two cork boards with the pictures of our family hanging on a shelf in her room. I thought it would be a fun way to learn who her cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncle’s were. Although small, I look forward to experimenting with Ella’s room and working with her as she grows to have a place that encourages her mind and spirit.

Day 9: The Attic

Cleaning the attic did not really occur on day nine. I put it off three days, so I actually cleaned the attic on day twelve. Between working on Friday, and Pete being out-of-town this weekend, I was unable to pull myself upstairs until yesterday. The attic is a new addition to our home that Pete began and finished during my pregnancy and early arrival with Ella. It is our guest area, TV room, and kid play space all in one. We use it for community gatherings, football games, or mom groups. I have a storage closet upstairs that I put all my linens in, and Pete built a desk in the wall where we supposedly can sit and do work. (We have yet to get a chair for this) I plan to make the wall leading up the stairs a kid photo opt, and one day the bump out window will be a big reading nook with lots of pillows for Ella. It’s the biggest room in the house; however, because we didn’t enlarge the roof, the head space is slightly short for us taller folk. We have had a few bumped heads coming up and down the stairs. The attic works great for our needs, and hopefully one day will work for someone elses.

Yesterday, I went around the baseboards and vacuumed behind and in the furniture. I dusted the banister and desk area. I found lots of toys stashed under the couch and chairs. I cleaned out the linen closet, and wiped down all the dog hair on the stairs. It was a quick room to clean.

As I look around at my home this morning, I realized almost two weeks have gone by since I began this project. I am so thankful to be done and to have had the time to do this deep cleaning. It feels great knowing the air we are breathing might be a little less dusty and a little cleaner than before. But seeing the pile of dishes in my sink, I am reminded of how quickly things get put in the wrong spots, never get put back into the right place, or just get dirty. I am always surprised how quickly this can happen. So although my home has been cleaned from top down, it is quite messy, dusty and dirty again. I could spend another day re-cleaning what has been destroyed, but I don’t think I will have the time, not today at least. And that’s ok. I think I’ve realized it feels more like home looking around in the morning knowing yes, my family and friends have spent time here with me, than seeing a clean and empty house and knowing its because I have been alone. I suppose I’d pick the clean house every once in a while, but the dirty home full of familiar voices and laughter more days than not. Maybe, this is what God has taught me through the grim and grease; that we need one another and more than anything I desire fellowship and community.