Monday, June 10, 2013

15 Minute Pick-Up

So, how are you doing in beating back the mess around your home?  So far, we have 15 minutes of working on the Big Project, and 5 minutes of getting rid of something old and useless.  Is any of this helping?  Are you starting to see a difference in your environment?  It can be amazing what 20 minutes a day can do!

Now, let's try something new.  We're going to try 15 minutes of picking up/cleaning up at the end of the day.  If you have children and/or a spouse, get them to help. If spouse is reluctant, do it yourself.  Yes, it's aggravating. But it's less aggravating than having a messy house, right?

At the end of the day, we have a total of 35 minutes of straightening up and organizing. That sounds doable, but life will get in the way sometimes. Remember, we're aiming to get this part of the cleaning done 4-5 days a week. If something happens to get you off track, it's no big deal. Just do what you can and keep on plugging away when you have a chance.

Happy cleaning!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Plants Make A House A Home

Recently, we've been talking about decluttering as a way to make our homes more livable and beautiful.  This week I'd like to talk about plants and the nice touch they add to our lives.

Plants are beautiful. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors.  You can always find a plant to suit your unique decor.  Personally, I prefer the kind of plant with delicate leaves.  Other plants have a more modern, geometric shape.  Whatever your preference, you will be able to discover that plant that satisfies your idea of beauty.

Plants are usually inexpensive too.  Your local supermarket is a good place to find plants that are suitable for indoors and are a bargain as well.  Plants also add humidity and oxygen to the atmosphere inside your home and so are a benefit to your health too.

But, you say, "I don't have a green thumb.  I always kill plants."  It could be that you are overwatering them. Give your new friend water only when the top quarter inch of soil is dry. Try to buy plants that are easy to maintain. A quick Google search will help with this. Some of the more popular plants are dracaena, aloe vera, peace lily and Chinese evergreen.

If you want to add beauty and ambience to your home, why not try a new plant today?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Our Home, Our Sanctuary - Part 2

So, did you work on your Big Thing?  Maybe less than you expected to do?  Don't worry, it will get done if you keep chipping away at it, 15 minutes at a time.

Let's try something else to conquer that mountain of clutter.  Throw away one thing a day.  Now, I don't mean something that needs to be sorted and organized before you can throw anything away.  That would be your next Big Thing, after you've finished your first Big Thing.  I'm talking about that old box of crackers or cereal, that plastic container in the back of the fridge, that broken something in the corner.  Something that you can toss in a minute or two, without thinking about it, something that doesn't need any preliminary action before discarding.  If you can donate it, put it with the other things to be donated (you know you have a pile for that!).  If you do that several times a week, you will be surprised what a difference it will make in your home. As the clutter clears your mind will be more relaxed and your home will feel more like a home.

So for right now, we are working on a big project for 15 minutes a day, and throwing away something we don't need or want.  Let me know how it goes!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Home - A Sanctuary

Home.  The word evokes many images of comfort and warmth.  Above all, home should be our sanctuary, a soft place to fall when the world is cold and hard, a refuge from our troubles. Is your home like that?  In this series, we will explore different ways to make our house (or apartment or condo) a true home.

First, we'll explore some physical ways to make our house a home, then we'll move on to the deeper psychological underpinnings of what makes a home a real home.

First, a disclaimer.  I am by no means perfect, or even close, in this area.  I got married and moved two years ago and still have some unpacked boxes.  There are things to be tossed and donated.  Cleaning is one of those things that I plan to do and then life gets in the way.  So I expect to learn right alongside everybody else about how to do it better.

One of the most basic things that we can do to make our homes more comfortable is to declutter.  Clutter not only takes up physical space but also takes up mental space.  It's just hard to relax in a cluttered place. But decluttering is always difficult because there are other things to do, like jobs, taking care of children and husbands, pets, and regular daily upkeep of your living quarters.  De-cluttering seems like such a huge project that would take an even huger amount of time that just isn't available.  You know those home improvement shows where the organizing expert gets a person's home filed and cleaned up and put neatly away all in one or two days?  Well, they have a lot of extra hands to help out!  Hey, I could do that too if I had nothing but free time all weekend and a whole bunch of people to order around!

But most of us don't have either of those.  So, what should we do?

I recently heard a person say "Do the hardest thing first".  It makes sense.  A person uses a lot of mental energy trying not to think about that Thing that needs to be done but keeps getting put off.  Just think how much freer you will feel once that Big Thing is done!

But finding time to do it is hard.  Very hard.  But here is what I try to do.  I try to give just 15 minutes a day to the Big Thing.  I may not finish everything, but I will get something done, and usually more than I think I will, and still have time to cook (and clean up -but that's a different post) dinner. 

Right now my Big Thing is finishing putting away Christmas decorations.  Seriously.  Some health problems sidelined me earlier this year and I'm way behind, even for me.  But I'm determined to get this done before Easter, which is coming up at an earlier time than usual this year.  (Story of the year from a floor's viewpoint - pine needles, Easter grass, regular grass, mud, snow, pine needles again!)

So, what is your Big Thing that you need to get done?  Can you work on it in 15 minute chunks every day?  Of course, we know it really can't be done every day.  Life happens. But if you can work on it most days, that's good.  That's very good.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Best Laid Plans . . .

Years ago I watched a sitcom episode where one of the main characters won a weekend trip to Paris.  Unfortunately, she came down with the flu during the flight and spent the entire weekend in bed.  That pretty much describes my recent vacation a few weeks ago.

My husband and I planned a week away at a favorite state park.  The park is known for its eagle migration in January, and my hubby, who is an amateur wildlife photographer, wanted to get some new eagle photos.  I'm fond of photography as well, though not so fond of standing outside for hours in bitter cold.  I had planned to read, do some writing, and take a few pictures in the warmer afternoon weather.  The husband came down with a bad cold a couple of weeks before our trip, and I thought I was free and clear.  But a few days before we left, I started to come down with the sniffles, which turned into bronchitis before we came home.  Most of my time was spent in the room, trying to summon enough energy to go out for dinner. 

The funny thing is, it wasn't that bad of a vacation.  If I had been sick at home, I would have spent a majority of my time fussing about everything I wasn't getting done (and making myself sicker by trying to do it anyway).  But away from home, with no housework or chores to do, I was forced to rest.  And since my vacation plans included laying around and taking it easy, those plans were not spoiled, other than the physical discomfort of sneezing, coughing and a very congested head.  I got the rest I needed, we had a fire in the fireplace a few nights, and my Kindle kept me company while my husband was out photographing.

Missing Paris would have been a real downer.  But laying around in a cabin for a week wasn't such a bad vacation after all. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Renewal - the word brings to mind fresh starts, new ideas, creativity, reinventing one's self. For me, it's time to renew this blog.

Where have I been? Well, for the past few years I've been planning a wedding, working to save money for said wedding and struggling with unemployment. Time to write has been a scarce commodity.

My new husband and I also moved into a new place. Our apartment is in a lovely old building complete with dark wood features and a faux fireplace that came with an electric heater and simulated flames left behind by the previous tenant. I have always wanted a working fireplace, and this is the closest I'll probably find in the city.

Our home also faces a park, another scarce commodity in the city! Windows let in traffic noise from the busy street below but we have a lovely view of grass and trees and sunsets. And a farmer's market during the summer.

We also have south facing window boxes. Last year was too hectic to do anything with them, though I did enjoy the weeds(?) that sprouted spontaneously in them! This year I have plans for marigolds and herbs, including oregano, rosemary and sage.

Happy spring, everybody!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tomatoes - Not For Me

Well, unfortunately, my indoor tomato plants have failed again. :( Two out of three have died, and the remaining one has no blossoms. Sigh. I think I may have goofed when I put in a fertilizer stick into the pots. They did not react well. Next time I'm breaking one of those sticks into thirds before I try it again!

On the brighter side, I have had a bumper crop of mint, some good turnout of basil from a plant that is on its second year, and parsley and some lettuce. I need to sow some more lettuce seeds soon, so I can actually have enough for salad!

I also bought a chocolate geranium plant which seems to be fairly happy. I can't find my camera, so no pictures for now.

In spite of no-show tomatoes, it is very satisfying to be able to eat some food from my own indoor garden. What a great feeling!!