Category Archives: Cleaning

Hot Spot Check Up: Kitchen Island

I do love my kitchen island.

And I love to put stuff there.

Lots of it.

Everyone does. If you came over, I bet you would put something there.

It’s a big clutter hot spot for me. It’s a nice big flat space and it’s just out of the reach of our 1-year-old. It’s a  great work space. It’s just begging you to put something there.

The problem is that too many somethings are put there and not cleaned up and put in their proper place, and then other somethings get put on top of those, and so on and so forth…

The status of my island makes a big difference in how my home looks and feels. My post Island Watch 2011 gives a pretty good summary of how bad the island gets – with pictures of piles of clutter.

I am going to post a picture of my island every week for the next four weeks (I think every Wednesday) to help me keep it under control. It looks like it might work, because I stayed up last night and cleared it off.

So here’s a picture of the kitchen island today:

Other Updates:

  • The kids and I picked up the kitchen and living room, we swept the living room, and the kids picked up the basement/play room/family room themselves. Yay!
  • I still need to clean out the fridge and finish the kids’ clothes project.
  • I still need to go through those “hiding” baskets and boxes of clutter. My goal is to get through one basket by Monday.

What is your worst clutter hot spot right now?

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Filed under Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter

Man on a Mission, Woman on a Journey

On Saturday, Mr. RSS was on a decluttering mission. Watch out. Don’t get in the way. The man gets focused and stuff is going out of the house!

He was moving so fast that I couldn’t get all the before and after pictures, but here are a couple of pictures of clutter loaded in the car, ready to go!!

BIG artificial Christmas tree, baby gear

Printer, TV, TV stand

It’s so interesting how different we are in how we declutter. We have the same goals, but the process is different.

 
Mr. RSS’s typical decluttering process:
 
  • Pick an area, or just pick stuff up that is sitting around the house (usually larger items)
  • Make quick decisions, move quickly, sort quickly(if required),
  • Get the stuff out of the house ASAP

He’s really about action, focus, impact. The end result is always great, but it can be a little crazy when he’s in his focused mode of decluttering! He doesn’t declutter as often as I do (of course he’s at work most days), but he does get a lot done in a short period of time. Sometimes he is tossing with such abandon that important things can get accidentally tossed, and I need to watch him closely to be sure he doesn’t toss one of the kids!

My typical decluttering process: 

  • Pick an area
  • Sort things
  • Decide what needs to go, pausing to think about each item
  • Organize and clean up
  • Put the clutter leaving the house in a bag/box/pile and place it somewhere waiting to leave the house
  • Take the clutter to the car and deliver

It’s not usually a fast process. I’m thoughtful about it. Too thoughtful, I think. I debate with myself. I get distracted. Sometimes I can complete a project in a day, but this process often takes days or months because I stop working on one project to start another one, or I just need to deal with daily tasks and responsibilities. But when the project is finally done, it looks great!

Since Mr. RSS moved the extra TV and stand out, I was inspired to get the basement family room/playroom back together. So check this out:

We started on the project about 5 min before this picture was taken. I brought the toy organizer down from the kitchen and dumped all of the (unorganized) toys/junk from the bins into the white laundry basket. We used baby wipes to clean the bins.

I got them started, then left them to work on the sorting/putting away and told them to get me when they were ready for me to inspect.

When I came down to inspect, they had made great progress. I helped them with finishing up.

There were a few things we just weren’t going to get done that day, and that was OK with me, because we were making progress. We did not get under the furniture. We did not get to this pile that was originally a decluttering pile of black trash bags, but that has changed over time and it now needs a project of its own.

Some things were added to that declutter pile, and here’s the trash:

And now the finished project!:

I know Mr. RSS and I are both learning a lot in this process, and I think we can really learn from each other. We balance each other in many ways, and I think we are on our way to being a great decluttering team!

What does your decluttering process look like? Is it different than others in your home?

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of organizing. Check it out for simplifying inspiration!

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter, Kids, Toys

Oops. I did it again. | Learning how often to clean out the refrigerator

Doesn’t it seem like I  just cleaned out the refrigerator? And I really thought I was doing a pretty good job of using the food that was in there. Turns out I was following a couple of my 10 ways to waste food.

If it weren’t for this blog, I would have no idea when I last cleaned it out, but now I can look back and see that it was in April. So it looks like every 3 months is not going to work for me. Boo!

But the good news is that I did clean out the refrigerator, I have a fresh start again, and I have learned more about what I need to change to make it better the next time!

Of course, I have pictures!

Before:

The Process:

I like to do the real deal and take out all the shelves to clean them.

This was a sad thing to find behind a drawer. I’m pretty sure it was maraschino cherry juice. I scrubbed it for a long time.

Food Waste:

I think I’m the most sad about the blueberries. :-( Some of the cheese is because something leaked into the cheese drawer.

After:

I went grocery shopping today, so it doesn’t look as cleaned out as it might have otherwise.

Those little serrano peppers down there are the first harvest from our little garden. Yay!

What I learned:

* I need to clean out the refrigerator more often. I’m hoping once a month will be enough. Pretty please?

* I need to clean out the refrigerator before and after a trip. Some of the things in the waste pile were there because I couldn’t remember for sure if they were leftovers from before our trip or after.

* I still need to clean out the condiments, gunk, and whatever else is lurking  in the door shelves. We tend to have a lot of condiments. So many that they won’t all fit in the door. I would like to limit the number of condiments to what will fit in the door, so that they are not crowding the rest of the refrigerator.

* I tried a new strategy of cleaning out one shelf at a time as I could grab little bits of time. I thought I would like it, but I really didn’t. I much prefer doing all the shelves at once, then all of the drawers together.

* I know that being more consistent with menu planning and shopping with a list that I actually look at while at the store (unlike today), will help me. I’ve been thinking about posting my menu plans to keep me accountable.

* I need to make banana bread more. And banana muffins. And feed the monkeys at the zoo…

So how is your refrigerator looking? And how often do you think it should be cleaned out?

I’m linking up with Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing and The Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday.

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Food Clutter, Food Waste

Weekly cleaning update 2 | Children’s books | The kitchen floor

Remember how I was working on a weekly cleaning schedule? I even posted an update of the first week. Well, I thought it would be good to post an update as it’s been almost a month since my last update.

This is what I managed to print out before our printer broke again:

The checks mean yes, I did it; the x’s mean nope, didn’t happen. So I’m about 50% on this week also. The next week, I tried to keep track on a little piece of paper, which I promptly lost (big surprise), and then I fell off the wagon on the whole “keeping track of the cleaning” thing.

But, I can say that the habit was starting to form, and I think maybe I’ve been able to hold onto my 50%-ish status on getting this cleaning stuff done.

I think I’d like to revise this file to be more of a chart with a grid-type checklist. A chart that would last for a month would be better. A new stinkin’ printer to print it would be nice, too! (Sweetie?)

I also wanted to show you a couple of other projects I was inspired to do recently!

I organized the kids’ books!

Before (this picture is actually from a few months ago, but this is a very good example of how the books usually look in the kids’ room):

It really bugs me when books are all over the floor getting stepped on!! Ug! Yes, there are more books under the toys.

I did some minor decluttering and got rid of 3 books, but mostly it was an organizing job.

After:

This actually only represents about half of our children’s books. I’ll show you the rest another time. :-)

At some point, I would like to get a little bookshelf for this spot. I think it would make it easier for the kids to manage and keep up themselves.

Now for the infamous kitchen floor!

I recently showed you how I sweep my floor. Well, with my nicely swept floor all ready, I got inspired to get it really clean! That’s right. Me on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. I always think of Cinderella (before the fancy ball) when I do this. Let’s just say I don’t think of Cinderella very often. ;-)

This next picture was taken under the table. It’s really bad.

Before:

Floor after sweeping. Yes, after.

Some spots were really hard to get clean. I had to get a little creative. Turns out a couple of them were gum. Gum?! I don’t know how I could have missed gum on the floor until it got to this point. But here we are.

Sorry, no pictures of me scrubbing the floor. Maybe next time. Maybe not.

But seriously. I’ve got good news here….

After:

 
Hooray!!!
 
By the way, I’m planning to do some posts where I revisit some of the areas I have previously decluttered and cleaned up. Fun, fun!
 
How often do you mop/scrub your floors?
 

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Kids, Organization

Island Watch 2011

This is Elizabeth with Ready Set Simplify reporting. We have been following this story since March of this year. The disaster on Kitchen Island has been an ongoing struggle for its inhabitants.

Here’s a shot of the island we dug up from January 2011:

Here you can see the disaster continuing to unfold in March:

Here’s the situation by the end of May:

But it looks like things are changing on Kitchen Island.  Help arrived recently from Kristen from The Frugal Girl. She knew of the disastrous situation on the island, and offered to help. Here’s the story.

———————————————————————————————————————

OK, I’m losing the reporter bit, partly because I just really need some exclamation points! (See?)

So my friend Kristen offered to come over and help me declutter. Because she’s super nice, and guess what? She actually likes decluttering. We chose the island for obvious reasons! Kristen is not just frugal, she is a lean, mean decluttering machine!

As far as method goes, I think I would say we just picked up each item and made a decision about it. Seems simple, eh?  For some reason, I just couldn’t seem to do it myself. I think it’s the overwhelming factor. Having a friend there really helped!

This is the recycling just from that day!

And Kristen took these things to Goodwill for me (awesome):

Here we are together! Kristen’s daughter. Lisey gets the photo credit on this one:

If I look a little shocked/dazed in that picture, it’s because this was right in front of me:


Photo credit: The Frugal Girl

Woo hoo!!! Is that exciting, or what?!!

Here I am enjoying my island:


Photo credit: The Frugal Girl

Thank you Kristen! By the way, Kristen posted  a picture of our somewhat spontaneous walk to the beach  when we were finished with the decluttering.

Do you have a daunting decluttering project? Getting help from a friend is one way to get it done!

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Declutter

How I sweep my really messy, cluttered floor

Like most kitchens, my kitchen gets a lot of traffic and is one of the most popular places to be in our home. With 3 kids, including a toddler, it gets messy and cluttered in an instant. As you might guess, I’m not on top of it as I should be, and either are the kids. We’re working on it!

Yep.

 

Hmmm...hm.

When I think of the “classic” way to clean up and sweep a really messy floor, I think of these steps:

1.  Go around and pick up all of the clutter on the floor, putting everything away in its proper place. Throw away/recycle larger pieces of trash.

2.  Sweep.

This is what I used to try to do. Sort of. Every now and then-ish. Not often enough. The going around picking up things and putting them away part is really overwhelming when there is so.  much.  stuff.  all over the floor. Seriously.

But it does need to happen. Because the little crumbs, food and dirt need to go. Those things actually bother me more than the bigger clutter.

So one day, when I was somewhat frustrated with the situation and I really wanted to sweep the floor, I switched the steps. I just started sweeping. I swept up everything into a big pile. A really big pile. In some weird way, I felt empowered.

I remember that one of the things on the kitchen floor that day was a ride-on toy. I swept it into the pile, too. And I liked it.

The floor was cleaned up really quick, except for the one big pile, which I then sorted and dealt with. It’s been about a year that I’ve been doing it this way, and you know what? It works for me. For now, anyway. Of course the goal is not to have everything all over the floor to begin with. We are getting there, and I think my sweep piles are getting smaller!

Here are the steps I use for cleaning my messy, cluttered floors:

1. Sweep up everything on the floor that is not in its proper place. IF there are wet/sticky things, like banana, pick those up separately. Sticky-wet-messy things do not work well in this method. Trust me on this one.

This is my sweep pile. A nice big one. See? I got the ride-on toy in this one, too!

2. Sort. Put the toys together (or have your children come and “rescue” them from the pile), the books together, the kitchen stuff together, etc.  Toss or recycle the bigger trash.

Trash, toys, laundry

Little bits to sweep, books, kitchen items

3. Sweep up the little bits.

4. Put everything else in its proper place (I’m thinking maybe if I use the phrase “”proper place” enough, it will sink in and become second nature to me.)

So if you ever find yourself overwhelmed with a messy cluttered floor that needs cleaning up/sweeping, shake things up a bit and try this method.

I’m linking up for Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family.

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Clutter, Food Clutter, How To

Weekly Cleaning Schedule – Week 1 Report + cake

Are you ready to hear how my first week or so of having a cleaning schedule went?

This is a condensed version of the cleaning schedule I was attempting:

Monday – Friday
- unload dishwasher
- 1 load laundry
- 15 min a day(timed) cleaning/decluttering  in 1 room or area:
- 5 min. (timed) focused on paper clutter
Saturday
- unload dishwasher
- 1 hour of cleaning/decluttering in needed areas
Sunday
- unload dishwasher

Here’s the story. I started the week by making a handy-dandy document with the cleaning schedule  and the ability to keep track of what I was accomplishing. Great, right? But then I couldn’t print. We’ve been having printer issues. So I decided to use a handy-dandy piece of scrap paper to jot down how I was doing instead.

Here’s how it went:

(I put the successful cleaning days in bold!)

Saturday: I really meant to do it!

Sunday: Dishwasher unloaded in the afternoon + a load of laundry!

Monday: I did it all!!! The 15 min. of timed cleaning was spent in the kitchen

Tuesday: OK, I know I did the dishwasher, and then I lost my scrap piece of paper(Grrrr), so the rest is from memory. I think I did everything on this day, too!   

Wednesday: nope

Thursday: ummm, hi.

Friday: Unloaded the dishwasher, did some cleaning for sure but forgot to time myself, no on paper clutter, yes on laundry

Saturday: Super busy day because we were celebrating all of the spring birthdays(kids) in the family at my house. So we had 7 adults and 4 kids here in the afternoon/evening. Dishes were unloaded, and there was certainly lots of cleaning, Mr. RSS and the kids did most of the cleaning because I was still finishing this My Little Pony cake:

Rainbow Dash

For this little birthday girl:

Happy Birthday, Ella!

Sunday: Dishwasher unloaded, check!

Monday: found my scrap paper on the island, 1 load of laundry and that’s it for cleaning. Fun day with friends at their community pool, though. : -)
I also want to add on this Memorial Day, that I am so thankful for those who have fought for my freedom. So thankful.

My 97 yr. old grandfather (a veteran), helping little Anna

So I accomplished my goals 50% of the time for my first week. I’ll take it! And the good news is that Mr. RSS fixed the printer, and now I have my schedule posted on the refrigerator! And now I’m off to eat a piece of cake…. Yum. Cake.

I linked this post up with Life As Mom’s Birthday Cake Round-up!

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Filed under Cleaning, Declutter, Time Management

Weekly Cleaning Schedule – First Try

I have something of a love-hate relationship with schedules. My personality is more spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, yet I find that schedules and structure really help me. In fact, I think as I get older, I crave structure and planning more.

In the comments on my last post, Barbara gave an example of her daily cleaning schedule. I loved the simplicity of it, and decided to try something like it for myself.

I’m trying to write down key tasks instead of cluttering everything up with things that I will do anyway even without seeing it on a list. I think I have a tendency to write down too many things on my schedules and “To Do” lists.

Do I really need to put “make lunch” or “put Anna down for a nap” or “spend too much time on the computer” in my schedules and “To Do” lists? No! I will do these things without the reminders!

I think I do this because I want my lists to represent all the stuff I do in a day, so that I feel like I’m getting more done. And of course it feels good to cross things off a list! But then if I am looking at a huge list of things to get done, I get overwhelmed, and important items in the list get lost in the sea of list-stuff. So, of course, I need to simplify.

So here’s my first try at a weekly cleaning/decluttering schedule. I’m sure it will need some adjustments, but I am trying to make it simple and attainable. I have “unload dishwasher” every day right now, because I am really trying to make that a habit, but I think once it comes naturally to me, I could take it off the list.

Actually, I’m not sure that any type of cleaning will ever come naturally to me, but I can dream, right?

Monday – Friday

- unload dishwasher

 - 1 load laundry

- 15 min a day(timed) cleaning/decluttering  in 1 room or area: 

Living Room
Kitchen
Master Bedroom
Kids Bedroom 
Nursery
Bathrooms
Basement

- 5 min. (timed) focused on paper clutter

Saturday

- unload dishwasher

- 1 hour of cleaning/decluttering in needed areas

Sunday

- unload dishwasher

I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes! I love your input and ideas as usual!

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Filed under Cleaning, Declutter, Time Management

Getting ahead of the things that make me fall behind

I had a lightbulb moment the other day. Sort of  a revelation. My mind was spinning all morning trying to figure out why I struggle so much with keeping up the house. Well, I didn’t figure it all out, but in the process of all the mind spinning, I realized that I should focus on some of the things that seem to have a domino effect in my day.

Like dinner. I struggle with getting dinner ready on time.

So I thought about it and backtracked through a typical day.

When it’s time to start dinner, I can’t just start cooking. First I have to wash any pots,  pans, and knives I might need to use. And I might need to clear out at least one side of the sink. And clear/clean some counter space. And find the ingredients – including the ones that are still in their grocery bag on the floor left from a few days ago.

This is why it takes me so long to make dinner!

Then the table needs to be cleared so that we can eat. And when dinner is done, the dishes all get piled up in the sink with the rest of the dishes from the day, because the dishwasher has clean dishes in it that were never put away. 

After that we need to rush through homework and getting the kids in bed, which usually ends up being late because dinner started late.

Then the kitchen gets cleaned….or at least the dishes…usually. And then there’s laundry, and I have to check email and my blog, right? I get to bed too late.

So if I can put away the clean dishes early in the day, then the dirty dishes throughout the day should be able  to go right into the dishwasher. This helps with both the dishes-piled-up-in-the-sink problem and the clearing the counter/table problem!

I should be able to actually start cooking dinner sooner, which should help the evening routine to go smoother, etc, etc! I know, it won’t always work perfectly, but I think if I can get ahead of the dishes thing by simply emptying the dishwasher early in the day, that will ultimately help dinner to be ready on time!

Check it out!

Of course I have known before that this would be a good and helpful thing, but I don’t think I realized what a big impact it could make on my whole day. I know for some of you this is a ridiculously obvious thing, but for me…I needed a lightbulb moment!

What other things help you get ahead of the crazy?

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Goals

How to clean out disgusting leftover food containers from the fridge -or- Ridiculous Procrastination

What you will need:

  • disgusting leftover food containers from cleaning out the fridge
  • determination/bravery
  • sink/dishwasher and soap
  • garbage disposal/ trash can/compost bin

Helpful and recommended:

  • the ability to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose
  • rubber gloves and scrub brush
  • nice smelling candle
  • open windows/doors
  • baking soda and/or lemon peels

The Steps

1. Prep work: Learn how to waste food.

2. Clean out the refrigerator and put all of the disgusting containers on the counter by the sink.

The reusable containers are mostly in the back in this picture and hold old (some very very old) leftover food.

3. Plan to clean them out. Sometime soon. If you really like them to be extra mega-mold-disgusting, procrastinate:

  • Try to wait until both the sink and the dishwasher are empty on a trash collection day, during nap time for little ones, when you are well rested and the laundry is done.
  • Secretly hope that someone else will clean out the containers for you.
  • If you have understanding friends coming over, just leave the containers there.
  • If you are having a family birthday party for your son, put the containers in a trash bag and hide them on the back deck.

I am not kidding.

4. When you are finished procrastinating, (For example, when a new babysitter is coming over on a nice warm day and you are afraid she will find the trash bag of disgusting moldy food containers on the deck) get out your supplies and your determination.

It does not matter if your candle is from the wrong season, just use it!

Can you feel the determination and bravery represented here?

5. Work quickly!  Breathing through only your mouth(to avoid the dreaded odors entering your nose), dump/wash/scrape the stinky moldy food into the disposal/trash/compost container.

6. Wash the containers well with soap and water, and/or run through the dishwasher. (Maybe even twice if there is a lingering odor. It happens.)

7. Wash the sink well, clean the disposal with baking soda and/or put lemon peels down it. Take out the trash or compost container.

8. Continue nice smelling candle and open windows/doors until necessary.

9. You did it! Good for you! Don’t let this happen again! DO NOT repeat!

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Filed under Cleaning, Food Waste, Funny(I hope), How To