Typical Saturday Clean Up

This Saturday has been pretty typical – I got up around 8 but then stayed in bed since the dogs were snuggly and read for another hour. I had a to do list already so I started by loading up the car and cleaned up in the living room and kitchen (which is forever messy).

My first stop was out at the cemetery where I left some fake poinsettia flowers at my grandparent’s gravesite. The older flowers were dead or falling apart so I put them in my car toΒ  throw away at home. I also stopped by my cousin’s resting place, straightening up one of the solar lights that had been knocked over by the fierce winds this week.

It’s a beautiful place, high up on a hill overlooking the surrounding farmland with the city in the near distance. But it’s also a sad place where I have 6 family members buried. It’s like this thistle that I found out there one day, beautiful and stunning but also painful.

2011_06_05 (04)After the cemetery, I drove back into town and stopped at Ace Hardware for some screws. Even years after leaving the electrical contractor where I worked, I still think in terms of the purchasing lingo that I used! I got a box of 1″ flat head wood screws for a project I’m working on (right now that project is in the boring stages of staining, buying stuff, and waiting for wood to cure).

After Ace it was over to consignment shop #1 where I handed over 15 items to sell in the next 60 days and sold one item in the store while waiting! The clothes they wouldn’t take went right back into the car and over to Goodwill.

Now, Goodwill in our town is closing in 7 days so I am in a frantic rush to drop off as much stuff as I can.Β  43 more items were given away and are all tracked on my handy donation tracker sheet! As soon as I got home that was stapled to the receipt and went right into the taxes box.

By this time the library was open so I swung by to drop off the books and movies I’d borrowed and then went a few blocks over to Palm Gardens where my grandparents lived for 5 years. There I donated a stack of magazines, a small Christmas tree (super small, fit in a paper grocery bag) and a wreath with holder. The man I talked to said they had a new resident moving in who would love the decorations so I hope it brightened his/her holiday!

At this point I was technically “done” with my errands but the wood for my project was tearing up the sponge paintbrushes I use for staining. So I went over to Michael’s to grab some extras and ran into my aunt and uncle. We caught up for a few minutes and after a long time in line I was heading home.

Note to self: this is why I don’t shop the Saturday before Christmas. Jeeze.

Thanks to the Carmelizer blended drink I picked up from Dutch Brothers, I had lots of energy when I got home! The car got emptied out and I managed to tame all those hangers. I spent an hour in the backyard scooping, picking up sticks from the neighbor’s tree, raking leaves and then cutting back the roses.

I’m just about halfway done with the rosebushes now, but the 96 gallon toter was full and overflowing so the rest will have to happen after the holidays.

I’ve got Christmas decoration bins to put in the garage, presents to pack in the car, clothes to wash and a second batch of stuff for consignment to gather for Monday.

This is a pretty typical Saturday. And I’m writing about it because I think we’re all fooled into thinking that life is a Pinterest snapshot and we’re all just floating from perfectly themed holiday party to remodeled bedroom to vacation destination. There are boring weeks, no matter who you are. There are projects that stall or seem to take forever. There are jobs that no one wants pictures of whether it’s scooping frozen solid dog poop or ironing clothes.

I’m writing about this stuff because it’s tempting to say “nothing” when someone asks what you’ve been doing. But this is the stuff in our lives. The salmon I’ll cook tomorrow and the books I’m taking to the library to donate. It may not be glamorous or fun-filled or Pinterest-worthy but this is life. My life.

In other “boring” news I am finally out of tea lights! Thankfully these go on sale after the holidays so I’ll pick up a bunch and continue to burn the larger candles I have. I picked up a laminator for $20 on sale at Amazon but now my printer won’t print so I can’t finish labeling all the storage boxes in the garage.

And I really want to finish off the upholstery job on my footstool with the right piece to cover the bottom. Should I just grab a remnant of white linen from my stash or find something in navy?

This is not a good underbelly look for such a beautiful footstool:

2013_11_30 (18)Finally, how long until my wood stops stinking from the stain so I can assemble the pieces in my new project?!


Stuff I’m Liking

Here’s what I’m crushing on this month….

Screenshot 2013-12-18 17.49.051. The comforters have been a vexing point ever since I got the 2 queen beds in this house. Half of my comforters are double/full and barely cover the bed and it’s insanely hard to find fabric that I like. Solution: a King duvet insert like this one and a cover that I can wash easier than a comforter.

2. This super simple remote camera for my DSLR from Amazon – because we all love a good selfie πŸ˜‰

3. A kickass comfy armchair for my office. Ever since moving out a bunch of furniture (more on that later), I’ve precious few places to sit in the office. I love these overstuffed chairs for two and think a brown leather one like this would look great in the house!

Screenshot 2013-12-18 17.58.164. My car has been a reliable vehicle for 7 years now and I only slightly regret not buying the keyless entry when I got the car (but I did keep the cost under $16,000).Β  I can pick up one like this for not too bad but then need to have it installed. Detail, details.

5. A really cool chandelier like these for the living room and dining room (and the electrician to go with them!). Aren’t these cool? It looks like a jellyfish hanging from the ceiling!

Screenshot 2013-12-18 18.09.22I really need the lighting in the living room but might hold the electrician captive to install a few other lights in the bathrooms, hallway and hall closet…

There you have it, a few of the things I’ve been obsessing over lately (3 out of 5 for the house!) and are on my mental “should buy” list!

15 Minute Speed Clean : Master Bedroom

I know I posted these out of order because I actually did the master bedroom Friday morning, 15 minutes before I rushed out the door for an appointment.


DSC_0004(Above: blankets tend to get thrown on the bed… and clothes on the chair!)

DSC_0005(Above: Some of the clothes fell down in the closet and the shelves look pretty cluttered)

DSC_0006(Above: Looking back at the bed – there are magazines and medications on the nightstand plus tissue from my 3 week on-going cold. To the left of the bed you’ll see the pillows the dogs knocked off in their play)

What I did:

  • Made the bed (huge difference right there!) and straightened up pillows
  • Straightened up blankets that I use to keep warm (again heat is out)
  • Put away clothes including a few folded sweaters and lots of socks
  • Picked up the clothes on the floor of the closet
  • Put away magazines on the nightstand
  • Opened the curtains for some natural light

And that’s it! I had very little time and wish I could have done more but check out the difference in the pics!


DSC_0022(Above: Making the bed, even imperfectly, makes a big difference visually)

DSC_0025(Above: I cheated and closed the curtains, but did pick up the clothes from the floor and straightened up some things)

DSC_0024(Above: Nixon dive bombed the pillows [it’s a problem] and I moved the magazines, cleaned off the chair. You can see Jackson in the doorway of the office. Lurking.)

What I’d do with 10 more minutes:

  • Put away the suitcase which goes back in the closet corner
  • Dust the bookshelf by the back door
  • Dust the headboard
  • Put old magazines in the pile to donate (to assisted living home nearby)
  • Vacuum (if mine worked)
  • Clean the mirror
  • Dust the picture frames and get down cobwebs

I don’t want you to think that 15 minutes solves everything – it’s not freezing time! But as you can tell just a few minutes on the big things can make a visual difference. I love my curtains here because it’s so easy to pull them closed and hide the clothes. You don’t need a lot of time to make the house look much better.

Next up: Master bathroom, kitchen and dining room!

15 Minute Speed Clean : Living Room

I totally cheated on this one and made it 20 minutes πŸ™‚ You’ll see why in a minute!

This is probably my most used room after the office – I work from the couch late at night, am busy with a half dozen fabric projects despite the fact I don’t sew, and this is where all the Christmas stuff happens. Plus the dogs.


DSC_0026(Above: It looks worse than it is, but this is the view from the front door)

DSC_0028(Above: corner by the door has a messy bookshelf, the ironing board, a chair piled high with blankets)

DSC_0029(Above: more Christmas tubs, books on a table, the couch cushions and cover have been stripped off)

Yes, the dogs had to move into every single shot.

What I did:

  • put the couch cover out in the garage to be washed
  • Straightened up the couch cushions (which Nixon promptly squished)
  • Folded 4 blankets and layered them on the side chair
  • Cleared off the TV bench
  • Moved the Christmas tubs to the hallway
  • Moved the bookshelf to the garage
  • Picked up a lot of stuff and put it away in other rooms
  • Put out half of my recycling (non-shred stuff)
  • Consolidated the shredding boxes by the fireplace
  • Ran a bead of caulk along the mantle in one spot

Then the timer went off and the room still looked like a disaster. So I started the timer again and kept going, if only to finish the caulk on the fireplace!

  • Smoothed out the caulk, put the tube away in the garage
  • Moved the Christmas tubs underneath the window and piled the fabric boxes on top
  • Moved over Jackson’s big bed
  • Put the ironing board in front of the Christmas tubs and hung the shirts to iron
  • Moved the side chair in front of the fireplace

Then I felt like it was “done” for now, despite the projects that still exist. Here’s how it turned out (with a dog in every shot):

DSC_0050(Above: There’s less visual clutter, even if the couch cushions get squished in 30 seconds)

DSC_0047(Above: Christmas tubs to sort through, ironing, moved out the bookshelf)

DSC_0049(Above: Now a clear path from the hallway and front door to the kitchen. Jackson’s finally laid down on his bed to keep out of the way!)

What I’d do with 10 more minutes:

  • Finish the shredding the papers and put that box in the office (it slides under the desk nicely)
  • Sweep the fireplace mantle
  • Iron the shirts and put away the ironing board
  • Vacuum (if it worked… seeing a pattern yet?)

I’m still not 100% happy with the room since it’s the first thing you see walking in the door. The dog keeps squishing all my pillows on the couch and the room feels smaller with all those Christmas bins in the way. But since I’m hoping to get the decorating finished this weekend all I need to do is fold up the ironing board and put it away to access all my decorations!

Plus I know that the visual clutter in the room is worse because the adjacent kitchen and dining room are still a mess. Don’t worry, those are coming next!

15 Minute Speed Clean : Bathroom & Hallway


The guest bath didn’t start out too bad. Here’s the before:

DSC_0030(Above: clothes hanging on the shower curtain rod, lots of clutter on the counter, floor needs to be swept)

DSC_0034(Above: Bathtub is dirty from rinsing off outdoor furniture, need to put away the soaps and scrub the tub)

DSC_0031(Above: bunch of stuff on the counter top, dirty sink and mirror)

What I did:

  • quickly cleaned the glass on the big mirror, dusted the other mirrors and towel racks
  • emptied the trash and re-lined it
  • swept the floor and did spot cleaning for a few marks
  • refilled the dog’s water dish and put it on a towel
  • cleared off the counter top and cleaned it well
  • swapped out the dirty towels
  • re-arranged a few things
  • put away the medications (in the hallway), towels (in the cabinet)
  • straightened up the curtain, moved jackets to the garage
  • lightly scrubbed the tub, realized I needed more time


DSC_0039(Above: cleaned off the counter and washed the sink, put away everything except the candles and soap)

DSC_0036(Above: closed the curtain, refilled the dog’s water bowl, swept, hung more wash cloths)

What I’d do with 10 more minutes:

  • scrub the toilet
  • really scrub the bathtub

(since I knew I’d need to do more scrubbing I decided to draw the curtain and go back later when I have more time to deep clean)

At this point I had a few minutes left so I took these pictures then did the hallway.


DSC_0043(Above: it’s hard to see but there’s a white extension cord on the top left corner which collects dust and dog hair)

What I did:

  • swept the hallway
  • picked up the rug and shook it out

Really you can’t tell the difference so I didn’t take an after pic :-p

What I’d do with 5 more minutes:

  • dust all the pictures in the hallway
  • clean the baseboards since they’re pretty dusty

Since I don’t really need a full 15 minutes to clean the hallway it usually gets added on like this. It’s kinda fun to “beat the clock” even when I know I’ll spend another 15-20 minutes scrubbing the bathtub and cleaning the toilet later. Neither are terrible but I want to do the job right.

Note: I did finish up the bathroom on Saturday. Using a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and dish soap I mixed that up in a spray bottle and then doused the tub. I used a dish scrubber to wipe down the tub and rinsed it out with hot water. Because the drain was a little slow I followed that up by dumping baking soda in the tub and sink drains, adding vinegar and flushing with hot water.

15-minute Clean: Office

I may be posting these out of order but here’s my 15-minute speed clean of my office.

Before: DSC_0011(above: note the papers overflowing on the chair and desk, the stepstool in the way and the roaming comfy blanket on the chair)

DSC_0010(above: yes the dog sits in the middle of the room, paint on the floor and window sill, a better shot of the desk mess)

DSC_0012(above: really big tangle of cords, my bookshelf is overflowing with stacks of stuff and on the floor the dogs destroyed something cardboard while playing in front of the space heater)

DSC_0014(above: Jackson is really in the way, drop cloth and paint supplies all over the floor, a pretty messy looking bookshelf in the closet)

What I did:

  • picked up a lot of small pieces of trash on the floor (thanks dogs!)
  • moved all of the paint supplies and step stool to the closet
  • moved all the papers I’m filing/reading to the spare chair
  • folded blankets and moved the doggy bed out of the way
  • cleaned off the desktop
  • put away a lot of little cords
  • hooked up my USB manager properly
  • dusted the lamp, printer, extra monitor and bookshelf
  • re-arranged some of the baskets/boxes on the bookshelf

What I would do with 5 more minutes:

  • set up the laminator in the closet properly
  • vacuum (if mine worked…)
  • do a deeper clean of the fan on the desk- it’s dusty and driving me nuts
  • sort the papers on the chair better



DSC_0015(above: the desk is cleared off and all the paper mess is on the extra chair. I kept the blankets because my heater is broken but they’re straightened up now)

DSC_0018(above: moved painting supplies into the closet and moved the dog’s bed back. Jackson’s already found his spot!)

DSC_0016(above: managed all those cords better, moved around some of the boxes on the bookshelf and straightened up the leaning notebooks until I can go through them. Dusted the furniture and electronics)

What I wanted to do, but didn’t:

  • touch up the green paint around the window sill
  • pull out the desk and tall bookshelf to paint those baseboards
  • sit in the middle of the floor with ALL of those papers spread out
  • straighten up the cords mess in the closet

Total time: 15 minutes

15 Minute Speed Cleaning

A friend of mine recently commented that her entire house was a disaster. That all she wanted to do was decorate for Christmas but the house was too messy.

I think we’ve all been there whether living in a studio apartment or 3-story home, it’s easy for the busyness of life to take over and you go into “survive the day” mode and then you look up and everything is askew.

I know it happens to me, oh, weekly? In writing out my response and sharing some encouragement I decided it would be fantastic to post here and give some examples of how I do this.

My own list has a process, a method to my madness because, well, I’m the Systems Gal.

Here’s the priority and a little bit of my rationale:

1. Put on real clothes. No yoga pants. No slippers. Brush my hair, pull it back, hell, put on a little bit of makeup. I usually don’t put on my ring because I know I’m going to be moving fast and getting my hands dirty but otherwise, suit up!

2. Go to Starbucks and get the most potent drink they have. Hot. This is your fuel. Get the disposable cup because right now you don’t need another mug to wash.


3. Come home and go to the kitchen. If the dishwasher is clean, empty it. If it’s dirty, fill it up and run it. While the dishwasher does it’s thing wash and dry ALL of the larger pots/pans that don’t fit. Put them away.

4. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start in the kitchen – it really is the heart of the home and I’ve found that when the kitchen is a disaster I can’t even find the energy to cook and eat meals.

Here’s what I do in the kitchen:
a. Work around the room and clean off all of the counters.

b. Don’t focus on putting things away in other rooms just yet, put away things in the kitchen, maybe use a laundry basket to gather up all the things that belong in other rooms.

c. Wipe down the counters as you go, sweep everything into the sink.

d. Finish by cleaning the sink.

e. Sweep your way out of the kitchen then grab that laundry basket and return things.

Now you’re ready to work on the next room – bring the timer along you’ll have 15 minutes per room and you’ll want to make the biggest impact in that time. The goal here is speed, not perfection.

There are a few strategies I use when working on my whole house.

First, I have “a dump spot” in each room and that’s where my stuff goes when I’m cleaning. So I’ll “dump” the clothes to put away on the dresser top, the office supplies on my desk chair, the rags and cleaning supplies in the bathroom sink.

This ensures that I’m not doing popcorn cleaning which is a little like bouncing around from space to space doing a little bit of work and realizing an hour has passed and the place pretty much looks the same.

With this tactic everything gets “dumped” in the room and then sorted and put away during those 15 minutes.

Now there is one very important rule – once a particular space is clean you can’t “dump” stuff in that room again. So, let’s assume I finished up the office and then found post-it notes, my label maker and Sharpies in the Garage where I was labeling boxes. Each of those things goes into my laundry basket but when I get to the office they get put away.

Second, I have 2 boxes ready at all times for donation and consignment. Next to the donation box is a tracking sheet on a clipboard so as soon as I come across something I’m donating it is recorded on the sheet and goes in the box. Same for consignment.

My third tactic happens before I even start cleaning – I decide what order I’ll go in, typically from the most public rooms to the least used.

Here’s my order today:

  1. Kitchen
  2. Guest bathroom
  3. Living Room/Dining Room
  4. Office
  5. Master bedroom
  6. Guest bedroom
  7. Master bathroom
  8. Hallway
  9. Outside
  10. Garage

The next set of blog posts are going to take you through my house with this method including before/after pics. Be patient, the blogging will take 3-4 times longer than the actual cleaning πŸ˜‰

The best thing about this process is that you’re going to figure out what things don’t have a home and then you know where your cleaning/organizing needs some help!

Once everything is a little more “done” I can turn my attention to larger projects. This is not the time to pull out your sweaters and reorganize your filing cabinet and sort pasta in the pantry. This is simple, my-house-looks-like-a-tornado-landed emergency cleaning.

Now note that there’s not a whole lot of deep cleaning because I’m guessing that most of your “mess” is in the form of clutter and things in the wrong place instead of actual dirt. I’ll cover what gets cleaned in a follow up post!