Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bathroom Drawer Revisited

In a previous post, I added a before photo of the last holdout in my bathroom purge: a bathroom drawer.

And here it is now.

I have no idea why we have such an abundance of oral hygiene products, but we do.  We also have a disturbing number of lighters (11) considering neither my husband nor I smoke.  Actually, a couple times a year he picks up the bad habit for a few weeks.  Apparently he's not good at keeping track of lighters. Anyone have any good ideas for getting rid of them?  Do I just toss most of them in the garbage?  Is that even safe?

Since the bathroom is pretty well in shape now, I'm going to be moving on to my daughter's bedroom.  The biggest obstacles there are a drawer of sentimental stuff (ALL of the cards from my first daughter's birth and a bunch of manuals for baby gear) and her closet (a catchall for all kinds of random family stuff).  Now I'm very practical when it comes to the sentimental stuff.  I have no problem throwing out those cards.  My husband, on the other hand, thinks it's imperative that we keep it all.  I know from experience (thanks, Mom!) that someday we will need to get rid of this stuff; we'll be downsizing to a smaller place or just needing to use our space more efficiently.  And we'll have to pass along this stuff to our daughters.  And then they'll have to find a place to store it.  I've got the proof, handed down by both sets of parents, in our basement storage room (the last room in the project, for good reason).

So, any suggestions on how to handle the sentimental overload and convince my husband it's a good idea to pare down?  Or will I regret it someday?

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Name Is Joanna, and I Have a Problem

I can't put my finger on it.  Something has changed.  Once again, I'm losing steam.  I've learned that, much as in my experience with my children, just as you get into a really good groove, something changes--a new found ability to crawl, climb, or walk, the ability to suddenly reach higher drawers, an incoming tooth, a bad cold, potty training--and things get thrown out of whack.  My maintaining is out of whack.  I'm not sure why.  A busy week?  My husband out of town for a few days?  The sweltering heat and humidity?  New planting and gardening projects? A renewed commitment to exercise?  An increasingly alert (and therefore demanding) baby?  I know that those really aren't good excuses.  I had free time this week.  I read an entire magazine in one sitting, people!  So am I just tiring of the tedium that is housekeeping?  After all, it's one of the things that really is never ending.  I guess the key to to just take it one day at a time.  Is it bad that I'm comparing housekeeping to overcoming addiction?  Huh.  Is there a 12-step program for laziness?

How do you all stay motivated to keep it up day after day?  Ideally a clean house (or at the very least, clean countertops) would be reward enough, and initially it was.  But I'm slipping.

On the positive side, I did get my final bathroom drawer cleaned out this week.  After photo to come.  Granted, this blog is the ONLY reason I cleaned that drawer.  Whatever works, right?

Oh, and I prettified the blog.  Just more proof of my procrastination.  Uff.

UPDATE:  After posting this entry, I looked around at my messy place and immedately started shopping online for a new swimsuit.  What do you do when you want to procrastinate?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Am Not Alone

So just when I think I must be the messiest, most cluttered person I know, my sister steps up and lets me know I'm actually not.  Case in point, she sent me these pics after my recent bathroom decluttering post:

By the way, this doesn't include her makeup drawer.  I'm still waiting for that photo.  So sister, my loyal blog readers (all 10!) will be looking forward to some "after" photos.  Get to work! 

And in the spirit of total disclosure, I still have one more bathroom drawer to get through.  Take a look:

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Waited 15 Years for This?

A couple days ago, as part of my ongoing bathroom purge project, I got rid of a TON of makeup (most of it never worn out of the house).  It was a sad reminder of all of the dollars I've wasted over the years trying to find the perfect (or at least acceptable) lipstick/eyeshadow/eyeliner.  I wish I had a before photo or even one of all of the crap I threw out, but I don't.  You'll have to take my word for it.  I've talked about this over the last week or so with my best friend, my mom, and my sister.  Apparently I'm not alone here.  We've all got a stash of unused cosmetics.  Why are we keeping them?  We don't use them.  And not only does this extra makeup mean more clutter, my friend reminded me that, for health reasons, we are supposed to get rid of makeup regularly.  I guarantee I won't miss anything I threw out.

I'm pretty sure I've had my old makeup bag since I started wearing enough makeup to warrant a makeup bag (about 15 years).  The problem is that there is nothing wrong with the old one.  Granted, it isn't very cute, but it worked just fine.Tonight, as a reward for clearing out all that old unused makeup, I bought myself a new makeup bag.  I'm not sure it's worthy of having waited 15 years (that's half my life!), but it's cute enough and much better than the old one.   



The "makeup" drawer I cleaned out looks great.  Other than my "everyday" makeup, I kept only a handful of additional products. They're stashed in a small bag way in back.

P.S. I swear the big banana clip is only for hold back my hair while I straighten it!
P.P.S. Now if I would only get rid of some of the 9 lipsticks stashed in my purse.  One thing at a time.  One thing at a time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stocking the Pantry

Every few months we make a trip to Aldi to stock our pantry.  When I say "stock" I mean "STOCK."  Those who know my husband will understand.  He has emergency preparedness anxiety.  We can't be too prepared.  He would love to have enough food stocked to last us a year.  We had two overflowing carts at Aldi today, and his exact words were "We didn't really get that much." 

Here's some pictures of what we brought home.  There was actually more than this.  Excuse the few other things in these pictures, but we got home right at lunch time, so I cooked us a quick meal before I put things away.

Here's the pantry before.  Not bad.

Here's the pantry after.  .

Here's the overflow that will be stored in our basement until we're ready to use it.  And we do use it.

You're probably thinking 1) we're crazy or 2) we're awesome.  After the first couple of trips to Aldi I thought we were crazy.  But after doing this a few times, I've grown to appreciate the fact that I can make fewer trips to the store.  I HATE grocery shopping.  And if I can make fewer trips or even shorter trips, I'm game.  We have the space, so why not?  By the way, people, Aldi is cheap.  Way cheap.  And great for pantry items.  You can't get everything there, but it is worth a special trip if you've got the room to stock up.  Just remember to bring a quarter for you cart. 

Think I'm exaggerating my husband's preparedness anxiety?  Check out the first-aid corner of our bathroom cabinet.

Told you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Good Advice from My Bathroom Drawer

I started to uncommittedly (is that a word?) clean out my bathroom drawers yesterday.  They pretty much look like my kitchen junk drawer but with a decidedly hygienic and cosmetic slant.  That said, I did find a few surprises.  Apparently at some point in the past I cleaned out my purse, and having no good place to put the junk in my purse, I put it in a bathroom drawer.  Makes sense, right?  Hence, the college i.d. and random notes I found today.  One of these random notes includes a quote from 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever, by Steve Chandler.  Apparently I was feeling a little unmotivated even then; also, at my old job I had free online access to business self-help books.  This is something I carefully copied down on a post-it and taped to my computer monitor.  It's good advice, especially for me.  I may have to find a new place to put it.  Preferably not in a bathroom drawer.
Look Bad.  Take a Risk.  Lose Face.  Be Yourself.  Share Yourself with Someone.  Open Up.  Be Vulnerable.  Be Human.  Leave Your Comfort Zone.  Be Honest.  Experience the Fear.  Do It Anyway.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Taking It to the Box

I'm just about to start working on our upstairs bathroom.  I've been dreading it.  I'm just not ready to face the many, many unused eye shadows, lipsticks, and "free" Clinique makeup bags, but I'll save that for another post. 

One thing in the bathroom that will be quick and relatively easy to take care of is our medicine cabinet.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one guilty of buying medicine and then forgetting about it for 5 years or until the next move (whichever is longer).  I remember a bottle of iodine (I don't even know what people use iodine for, but we had it) in our medicine cabinet growing up, it was there for as long as I can remember—at least 15 years or more.  And it was still there when I was graduating college and my parents were moving.  In fact, I'm going to make a point of checking my parents' medicine cabinet for the iodine the next time I'm at their house.  If it's there, I'm going to toss it.  I bet you they'll never notice.

One thing I think I've finally learned is that just because medicine is sold in economy sizes, which may ultimately make the per-pill or per-ounce price cheaper, doesn't mean I actually need the economy size (unless we're talking Tums and I'm pregnant).  After all, medicine does expire.  And not only does it clutter up your bathroom, it's a hazard for kids, and unused medicine can be dangerous to the environment if not disposed of properly.  But it's not just over-the-counter medicine that's the problem.  I've got leftover prescription drugs from the birth of my first child—she's now fully potty-trained—and I've added a whole new batch of the exact same meds from the birth of my second child. 

What's a safe way to get rid of all this excess?  The federal government suggests the following:
  1. Check for a local collection program.
  2. Check with your pharmacy.
  3. Follow the federal guidelines for prescription drug disposal.
Luckily for me, our community has a collection program for prescription and over-the-counter medicine.  So tomorrow (or sometime in the near future), I'll be packing up the reminders of our previous pain and suffering and taking it down to the drop box at our local police station.  And they will dispose of it for me.  I like that!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Losing Momentum

I'm afraid I'm losing momentum.  I was away from home last week for four days, and despite doing a decent job of picking things up before we left (isn't it nice to come home to a cleanish house?), now that we're home I'm just not feeling it.  I did take time today to clean off the counters three times--the first time cleaning off the stuff we piled on there when we got home from our long car trip and then again after supper, and again after a trip to Target.  So at least that's still on track.  The bedroom is another story.  I'm giving myself a pass today due to unpacking, tons of laundry, and a rather busy day, much of which was spent away from home.  My goal for tomorrow is to finish up laundry and get the bedroom clean. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Best Gift

From one mom to another, the best gift to give and receive?  A clean house.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  I hope you came home from work, ate something yummy, put your feet up, and read your book. Enjoy your clean house.  I was happy to do it for you.  And thanks for always cleaning up my house when you come to visit.

Seriously, why is it always easier to clean someone else's house?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Progress Report: Week 3

It is the end of week three, so I thought I'd share a little of how this little cleaning project has affected the state of my home.  In other words, is my house clean?  Here's how I'm doing so far:
  • Clean kitchen countertops
  • Clean closet and drawers
  • Bedroom floor clear of clothes
  • Laundry done more frequently
  • Bed made
  • Clean linen closet
What does it not include?
  • Anything not listed above.
Stopping by unexpected, one would get the impression that my house is very messy.  And one would be correct.  I'm taking it one step at a time.  No need to hurry through this.  The point isn't just a clean house, it's to develop the habits needed to keep it that way.  And we all know it takes time to develop good habits. (Why can we develop bad habits so quickly!?!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Solution to My Grease Problem?

As I was roaming around on the Internet in a few minutes of free time yesterday, I found Tide's Stain Brain site.  It's a handy little resource for finding the solutions to all sorts of stains.  Not surprisingly, they recommend Tide for everything.  But they do offer some instructions for exactly how to pre-treat specific types of stains.  They also offer tips for treating stains while on the go (and presumably away from your Tide).  More importantly, they display user-submitted advice, so you can get suggestions that don't necessarily feature Tide. A free Stain Brain iPhone app is available with the same information, useful for when you're away from home. (I hear some people do actually leave their homes once in a while.  Maybe I'll try it sometime.)

It does, indeed, have a solution to my grease stains, but I haven't had a chance yet to put it to the test.  Apparently I've been very careful lately (pats self on back).  I'll let you know how it works when the time comes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Babysitter-Cleaning-Time-Saved-vs.-Time-Spent Ratio

I work from home while taking care of my two little girls.  Usually it means I'm working early mornings, late nights, and anywhere I can squeeze in a hour or so between diaper changes, feedings, burping, potty trips, kissed owies, reading, cooking...you get the idea.  It gets particularly challenging when I have a deadline.  For some reason my two-year-old just doesn't understand deadlines.  Go figure.  When I start stressing out over an impending deadline, my husband loves to suggest I hire a babysitter. Brilliant idea! We have three available right on our cul-de-sac. The babysitter will come, I will work, and my deadline woes be damned.  Then I open my eyes, take a look around, sniff the stale air of my dirty house, and quickly equate the babysitter-cleaning-time-saved-vs.-time-spent-ratio.  It goes something like this:

Time saved  = Hours babysitter comes − Time spent consoling sad toddler who doesn't want mommy to go − Time spent frantically cleaning to make the house presentable − Time spent nursing baby (babysitter can't do that one)

Let's fill this in with the figures from a typical day:

Time saved = 3 hours − 15 minutes − 1 hour 15 minutes − 30 minutes

Time saved = 1 hour

Now it gets tricky.  You see, I've now paid the babysitter for 3 hours.  Is this three hours of pay less than my pay for the 1 hour of productive work time?  Yes, but not by much.  Call me lazy, call me crazy, but sometimes it's just not worth it.  Now I've tried explaining this to my husband, but he still loves to throw out the babysitter as the answer to all of my problems.  One day it will be.  I'm hoping once school is out (when my babysitters are readily available) I'll be far enough along in my project to knock that 1 hour of frantic cleaning down to a solid 15 minutes.  And that will make for some pretty sweet math.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Housekeeping on the Laptop

Every couple of days I go through my e-mail, sort by the From field, and delete all those daily and weekly corporate e-mails that, at some point in the distant past, I've signed up to receive.  You know, those e-mails that mysteriously start showing up after you create an account in order to buy something wonderful, join a giveaway, or cast your vote in a critically important online poll (the blue dress, definitely the blue one!).  Or the e-mails you once enjoyed reading but haven't sparked your interest lately.  They show up as often as every day, and I delete them.  And I delete them.  And I delete them.  And I delete them.  So tonight I'm going to take 10 minutes (tops) and unsubscribe.

So goodbye Target, Menards, Hawaii Visitor's Bureau (I was wishful thinking), Fossil, and about 5 others.  I'll still visit you once in a while, but from now on it will be on my terms.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

There's an App for This

About a month ago, before I started this whole housekeeping project, I discovered the HomeRoutines Task Management iPhone app.  (I have a bad habit of browsing the Apple App Store when I have nothing better to do.)  I immediately downloaded it.  HomeRoutines has all sorts of fabulous features for those who like to check tasks off a list as they progress through their day, with a strong emphasis on housekeeping.  I've always been a cleaning list-maker.  Usually listed by room and then marked for priority, my cleaning tasks just seem to multiply when I write them down on paper.  And I like that--the more detailed, the better.  Yes, I could just write down "clean bathroom," but I feel so much more productive when I:
  • pick up bathroom
  • wipe counter
  • clean sink
  • clean mirror
  • dust
  • clean toilet
  • sweep floor
  • mop floor
  • empty trash
  • clean shower
And who wouldn't?  That's what's so great about HomeRoutines--it's completely customizable.  You can make your cleaning routine as simple or as extensive as you like.  And you still get the satisfaction of adding that check mark (actually, it's a star) to each item as you go.  It's got lots of other helpful features, including zones of focus, a timer (quick, sweep that floor!), and the ability to sets daily and weekly tasks, as well as a general To Do list.

Now it's confession time.  I haven't actually been using the app...YET.  I will.  But trust me, I'm starting way behind, here.  As I've said before, my goal is to work through the house room by room, purging, organizing, cleaning, and maintaining.  Once I've tamed this beast of a house, I think HomeRoutines will be a good daily motivating tool for keeping the mess under control.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pulling back the Covers

I've decided it's time I act like a grown-up and start making my bed every morning.  I didn't say this housekeeping challenge was rocket science, people. This is a habit many people pick up when they are just wee ones. I was not one of those kids. I've never been a morning bed maker.  My excuse used to be that I often left for the day before my husband was out of bed.  When I started working from home, I decided that the dogs would just mess it up anyway, so what's the point? (That is, indeed, my dog in the photo, demonstrating my argument rather nicely.) And now with a toddler, I could use the same excuse.  But now that the dogs aren't nearly as playful as they once were and my little girl usually just slips under the covers for a mellow game of pretend sleep, I'm running out of excuses. I honestly think it just doesn't occur to me to make the bed in the morning.  Seriously, I'm lucky just to get myself dressed for the day. 

You may have noticed I said I'm not a "morning bed maker."  What other kind of bed making is there?  I make my bed at night, right before I get under the covers.  I like it to be nice and neat and put together properly.  I guess I will just move that step up about 17 hours, and I'll be golden.  So, from this day forward, I will make a conscious effort to make my bed every morning and keep my countertops clean.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Everything but the Skeletons (Revisited)

Mission accomplished!  I spent the good part of yesterday afternoon taming our linen closet.  I have to say, it looks great.  I didn't go out and buy any special organizing stuff for this one.  I just worked with a few random boxes and containers I had on hand. 

I learned that people do not need an endless supply of cleaning rags (grease-spotted shirts make great rags!).  This is all the more true for those who rarely clean.  I promptly threw out an entire garbage bag worth of rags.

Originally I thought this closet would take me days to get through.  But once the contents were spread out across my bed (I should have thought that through), I realized this was a one-day deal.  In and out.  And here it is before and after.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Everything but the Skeletons

Lest you think I am naturally an organized person, I bring you this.

This morning my daughter discovered the linen closet.  Don't get me wrong, she's known it's there.  But this morning it occurred to her that she could find all kinds of interesting things in there.  Her bathroom stool has given her the new-found ability to reach new heights...and she's taking full advantage.  I put a kibosh on that, but I'm afraid it will be a matter of only hours before she digs in.  Since it's a sliding door, and I don't know of any way to childproof a sliding door, something must be done.  The project in the bedroom is almost complete, so the linen closet will be my next area of focus.  Technically it's the linen/light bulb/gift-wrapping/art supplies/stationery/rag/iron/game/shoe closet.  And it's out of control.  Don't believe it's as bad as I say?  Take a look.

Yep, that's bad.  At least if it's cleaned out and organized I can attempt to keep the toddler damage to a minimum.  I'm going in.  And if you don't hear from me in the next couple of days, you know where to find me.

On a completely unrelated note, I started Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred yesterday.  I'll give you an update in about 29 days.