Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stuck On The Living Room

I LOVE the clean porch! It has been a BLESSING in our lives that these four areas (porch, entry, dining room and kitchen) are clean and tidy! My son even said today how much easier it is to pick up when the space is clean!

But this post is about being STUCK. Stuck like I haven't been during this process in the past. Moving forward has been a natural thing but now that the living room is next, I'm stuck.

I've actually walked into the room several times and don't know where to start. I get overwhelmed and succumb to it. This is a problem!

This weekend, John and the kids actually purged out some old kiddy videos and they need to be given away. John is making room for videos and dvds from his dad's collection. Me? I've been crocheting. NOT what I need to be doing!

So where to go from here? I need some inspiration. And some active self-government to make me do SOMETHING! Anything. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Living Room - BEFORE

I have to confess that I'm really dreading doing the living room. This is going to be a big job. This is the largest room so far and seems to be a dumping ground and area of general disorder. I do have a vision...SPACE. I want to experience a vast area of carpet when it is finished! So as I specified in this post, I have a process to begin a room...take "before" pictures and evaluate What Do I See? (WDIS)

The pictures are pretty much horrifying and I have an enormous list of WDIS! Here it is:
-furniture, chairs without a home
-misc boxes full of misc things!
-tote bags full of misc things!
-dirty laundry, socks
-bedroom pillow
-water bottles
-dirty dishes
-empty storage boxes (heLLLLOOOO?!)
-box of 3 ring binders
-plush toys
-media (dvds, cds, video games)
-3 nesting tables
-lego box
-blue tub of ??
-yarn, crochet projects
-green basket for blankets
-box with old Game Cube system
-mini tv
-cd player
-white trash bag with misc stuff
-mantle has keepsake school projects like ceramics and artwork

I have some serious concerns about tackling the living room. For the first time, I'm going to have to do some purging...there are things in this room that need to be "dealt with" (box of binders, for example). I have a rule that with each room, I can't just "migrate my junk into the next room". We also have a board game issue, not sure how that is going to get solved. I think I'll begin with picking up the trash, laundry, dishes and sorting things by "type" just to get started. Not sure what the next step will be.

Usage...currently, this room is only used for viewing movies as a family on the weekends. Sometimes John will watch or play a video game during the week, but it is rare these days. Wow, a room only used on the weekends for maybe 4 hours total...that is interesting! No, wait, Daniel and Sarah play their one hour of Wii on Saturdays, that counts. The pleasant reality is that once it is clean, the kids WILL use it during the week for projects and play. It is the brightest room in the house and they will enjoy the floor space to spread out (can't wait to do the sunroom, too!)

-The Christmas tree lives in this room in December, which is just around the corner.
-My first thought is to move the guitars upstairs, but the truth is we don't use them upstairs...well...that's not true, John will grab one and strum for the kids as they get ready for bed. Now that Sarah has repaired her guitar and it works now, we have two guitars again. Maybe they belong at the top of the stairs in a little space by Dan's room...hmmmm. That could work...easy access but out of the path of activity.
-I like the openess without a coffee table, but what if we set up the floor chairs with a low, skinny table? That would be very functional for a little snack with the movie, but not sure there's room and takes away from floor space for kids.

I see the room containing the two bookshelves, the tv, the boxes on either side of the tv with video games and equipment, 2 folding fig chairs, want a new lamp, like the green chair, want to put up curtains behind sofa (or maybe even put them on either side of tv-hadn't considered that until now - that won't work with the bookshelf, must go behind sofa), chair, sofa and THAT'S IT! Where is all this stuff going to go?

Decorating: I want to sell the artwork above the mantel. I have my eye on this to replace it. I won't be the first in my family to own sister has one and so does my friend Michelle! Oh well, I really like it and it will fit the space nicely. The artwork that is currently there just doesn't create a focal point like this wall candleholder will...and I purchased that art for the old house (it looked great there, but not here).

I might need a small table to put the cd player and mini-tv on. Or maybe these items could get stored in the sunroom when we install the counters.

Considering painting the wall between the bookshelves. Maybe pulling the gold from John's chair?

I think the next step is to GO IN THERE and make PILES. Then I can see what I have to deal with and make a plan. Here goes...

Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Oil A Teak Dining Table

My mom gave us this table as a wedding gift (20+ years ago)...I love it with more with each year that passes. Along with the table, which has a thin teak veneer, she gave me a bottle of lemon furniture oil from the store where she bought the table. She instructed me to "oil" my table when it looked "dry" and minimize sun exposure. I've oiled it maybe once a year and finally used up the last drops in the bottle last year.

Our table gets some sun exposure (not great for a teak veneer table) and hasn't been oiled in quite some time. I started to notice gray areas, a sign that the wood is REALLY thirsty and drying out. This of course is awesome if you have solid teak outdoor furniture, you want it to dry and get gray, I understand it makes it stronger and will last "forever".

Since I was out of lemon furniture oil (and the store has gone out of business), I started looking online for "how to restore teak table" in hopes of finding something I could purchase online. I decided to make this post in hopes someone else out there WON'T FOLLOW THAT ADVICE! I read people BUFFING a teak veneer (!), polishing with furniture wax (!) and various other things that would have ruined my table if I had done it!

USE LEMON FURNITURE OIL. It is lighter consistency than mineral oil, this is the stuff to use. I found Wieman Lemon Oil on eBay and I'm so happy because it is exactly what I was looking for.

The table drank up over a CUP of oil! It looks beautiful! Even my husband noticed (that's REALLY good)!

So, just wanted to tell ya!

Final Kitchen-Before and After

This is almost unbelievable to me! I do have tears in my eyes because there were times when I thought, "is this even possible"? If you haven't been following from the beginning, what you must understand is that this has been a PROCESS...I didn't take the photos at noon, clean up and then take photos again at 2pm. I took the "before" pictures one day just in the course of really was that messy! I took them in faith...knowing that someday I would complete the process in the kitchen but not knowing when...or how. Want to walk through the process of cleaning up the kitchen? Click here.

The kitchen is room #4 in this tidy-house process...I started with the dining room, then front porch and entry...then the kitchen. I started with ONE COUNTER which I blogged about here on September 7th. My final "after" pictures are here posted on October 3rd.

We have been enjoying a CLEAN, TIDY KITCHEN for over two weeks! It still looks like the "after" shots! Every night I pick up in the dining room and habits have formed. The front porch looks like the "after" pictures and the entry is still clean except for a chair I brought home from Grandma's which will get dealt with when I do the living room (which is next). I took "before" pics of the living room (oh my!!!) this week and am "eager" to post those and dive into the living room process.

Where are the front porch final before and afters? I need to retake my "after" photos of the front porch because they don't really correspond with the original photos very well. As always, stay tuned!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How I Conquered Our Laundry

Well...this is a super surprising post for me. As I stared at the empty laundry baskets today, I realized we've actually got the laundry tamed! That is SHOCKING but it really is laundry baskets are EMPTY and each family member has most of their clothes in their dresser drawers! I actually WANTED to do a load of laundry but I didn't have any dirty clothes to wash (OK, that is SICK!)!!!!! This has happened several times recently so I thought I'd tell you about it. With that information in hand, I wanted to document what has worked for us. I'm not sure any of this information will be helpful to anyone, but I find it interesting nonetheless! I can't believe I'm actually writing a post about our laundry!

We've been married 21 years...I have felt buried in laundry for over t.w.e.n.t.y. years, people. I've known for some time that we lacked a "system" or "method" for getting the laundry done. So last year I started paying attention to what worked and what didn't. It has been a process, but I can see we now have a laundry routine that actually works. It has something to do with whether or not I work. :)

My thoughts:
-no matter how many containers/baskets I buy, John and I prefer to toss our laundry on the floor...just the fact, Jack. I came to a point of accepting this behavior and learned to work around it.
-the children bring the dirty laundry downstairs twice a week (Monday and Friday). That way the heap is managable. Each child has a mesh/wire dirty clothes basket/hamper in their room and the parents have the heap. The kids collect/gather it all twice a week and deposit it into the baskets downstairs (picture one above). Often they'll take a big black plastic trash bag upstairs and gather all the laundry into the bag. Then they bring the bag downstairs and dump it...then I'll sort it into the laundry baskets. But since I'm really caught up right now, they just bring down one mesh/wire basket and empty it directly into the washing machine!
-I run a load of laundry every morning.
-While the load is running, I fluff what is in the dryer from yesterday. Then I fold it while blazing hot. I only fold hot laundry because I don't believe in ironing and no longer own an ironing board.
-Because I'm current with the laundry, I know when I'm really backlogged. In that case I try to do three loads a day (like sleeping bags, coats or when we return from a trip) to catch up.
-the kids help me fold the whites, which get run about once a week...Daniel hasn't caught on yet, but every few weeks I add something new for him to learn to fold...first the undies (yes, we fold our underwear), showed him how to organize the socks, helped him fold washcloths and now his undershirts, hee hee, ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
-my husband takes up the folded towels and puts them in the linen closet (thanks honey!)
-when we moved into this house, I noticed this large rack at the entrance to the garage. It is a big black wire shelf that looks like it belongs in a retail situation. It is perfect for fresh, clean, folded laundry! John's goes on the top (he can reach it because he's tall), then my rack, then Dan's and Sarah's...once a week the kids officially empty their racks into their dressers. So everyday when I fold my hot laundry, I put it on the shelves. I don't sort anything...I just stack according to whom it belongs...they end up sorting it when it gets to the drawers. The rack is about four feet from the dryer so I can fold, make stacks and then tuck the stacks into their shelf for someone else to deliver back to the dresser!

The one shows the garage/laundry room...I have four dirty laundry baskets. One for John's clothes, one for towels, "other" and whites (the whites go in the black basket). John takes his clothes off downstairs and deposits his dirty clothes in his bin each night before bed. This is a tremendous help to me because right now he only has four shirts (he's been losing weight) and I have to make sure he has clothes each day for work! I can monitor what he needs by how full his bin is.

Next photo is the black wire shelf. Then the pile in our master bathroom where our clothes always end up. Then the kids gathering dirty laundry...or are they playing instead? We have a rule..."no fun allowed while doing chores"...bad children. hee hee. (Can you see two children in the pile of dirty laundry? Sometimes if the pile is really big, they toss it onto the landing and jump into it! Who allows this kind of behavior!?!)

I like how Vicki Norris notes that there are several actions for doing the laundry:
-gather (kids)
-sort (me)
-wash (me)
-dry (me)
-fold (ironing is against my religion) (me, sometimes John, kids fold whites with me)
-put away (kids, John)
Don't you think it is helpful to view the task of doing laundry this way?

Here's a fun tidbit. My wonderful mother-in-law blessed me with the gift of her favorite ironing board when we got married. She thinks it is the best ironing board and wanted me to have one, too. I used it three times. Seriously, I'm an oof at ironing. So last year when her favorite ironing board gave up the ghost, she was devastated to learn that her favorite model was no longer being made. GUESS WHAT? I had a perfectly nearly new ironing board to give back to her! I'm sure that's what the Bible means in Ecclesiastes 11:1, "Cast your bread upon the waters..." Ha ahhahhahaahahaaaaaaaaa. Uh-hum, I think that's incredibly funny.

Right now I'm focusing on getting the dirty laundry into the proper basket...I noticed I was tossing dirty items in front of the garage door (instead of doing the "oh-so-difficult" task of opening the door and dropping the item in the basket on the other side of the door)! I had heaps of dirty laundry right in front of the garage door!!! Duh.

I also want to mention I spend exactly HALF of what you do on dryer sheets. Why? Because I cut them in half. They work about the same and I save money. Makes me happy. And-yes-that is a pink tutu around my hot water tank. I ordered it off Etsy because I had the idea that I wanted to make handtied tutus as window valances at one time...I didn't know what to do with it, so I decorated!

Oh my goodness, I've written a book! What else do you want to know about my laundry? Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Final Entry-Before and After

Mind boggling. The entry is STILL CLEAN. I am so aware of my surroundings! Today we received ten packages from UPS...I had to pull them off the porch and into the entry. I went through each box, emptied the contents, tossed the packaging I couldn't use and broke down all the boxes. Dan took them out immediately since the recycle can was at the curb poised to be picked up. Viola, a clean entry again! We can do this!

First post and before pictures of the entry are here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Final Dining Room-Before and After

WOW. It's been almost two months since I started this process in the dining room. We have some new habits and the dining room has stayed clean this whole time. Amazing. Every single night we clean it off and we just don't junk it up like we used to...what a delight!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lego Outpost Invades Kitchen!

Just minutes after snapping the kitchen "after" photos, the kids moved their Lego outpost onto the smooth surfaces. WHAT FUN! They had a ball this afternoon. They moved their outpost onto their project counters at the end of the day (so my counters are STILL clean)!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kitchen - AFTER

Wow. I'm in shock. Honestly, these photos don't do it justice! If you were interviewing me and asked, "So, how does it feel"?

I'd respond with, "I feel FREE"!

I really pushed myself today, finishing up all the counters. (Floor and cupboards and frig to come later). It's so weird to say this, wasn't "hard". In the past, I would have scurried about trying to clear a path, but this was really different. I've taken my time (leaving us to live in a heap for awhile) but that has been good because I've had to do some problem solving and identifying how I really use the space. I've come to understand how vital this is to my process for each room.

I let my family know about the different areas/zones and what is expected of them...1) the kitchen is NOT for putting stuff down...put it away where it belongs, don't dump it on the kitchen counter and 2) the only area they should really ever need is Counter A and E to put dirty dishes.

How magnificent it was to COOK in my kitchen tonight! I had an entire counter open to cut up the chicken, which I cleaned up as I went (I like that)! I decided I would "treat" myself to a fresh hand towel everyday while fixing dinner...I can use the towel to clean up afterwards! Yay! After dinner, almost everything fit in the dishwasher and it is all STILL CLEAN! (how I started cooking for my family, see my other blog

Not only do I feel "free", but I also have a sense of...cautious concern. I know what it took to get me here and I have yet to prove I can maintenance this area. So I tread lightly as I move forward, very aware of the work yet to come...

Kitchen "Before" Photos Are Here

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kitchen Process Gains Momentum

After a couple weeks of dealing with an unexpected death in the family, I am blogging again. My precious father-in-law passed away just three days after learning he had lymphoma. About 6 weeks prior, he had part of kidney removed because they thought he had carcinoma (so removing the tumor would remove the localized cancer). We are all heartbroken to lose Grampa. He was 75. My life must go on, so with a little hesitation, I move forward with my own life.

Today is Sunday. Since Friday, I've been mulling over how to tackle the remaining chaos in the kitchen. It's been nearly three weeks since doing Counter #1 (A) and establishing the Sandwich Station and prep area. This has been working really well for me and continues to stay clean as I make sure to remove any items and wipe it down each night.

I'm a visual person and NEED to SEE my kitchen to continue this process. I totally enjoy using my computer and making diagrams like this. So my focus is 1)identifying "areas" and 2) deciding what should happen in those areas of the kitchen. This has been a surprising exercise because I've never really thought about any of this prior to entering this area of self-education. In the past, I simply cleaned off the counters...only to quickly messy them again soon after.

If you have an interest in which counter gets used for which purpose, you can click on the photos to read the detail. Here's a summary:
-Counter A is the Sandwich Station and prep area
-Counter B is a combination of counter and bar counter. G is a small bar counter with space for chairs (to the far right). I've chosen to put those chairs in the playroom for easy access. This way the kids can utilize the space near the bar as they love to pay with their toys on the floor. The goal for this area is simply to STAY CLEAN unless we are doing a puzzle or project. I use the bar area for filling orders for my online business pretty much daily.
-Counter C must stay clean at all times so we have space to put things that we pull out (or need to put into) the frig. It will be wonderful to have a clean space to pour milk for dinner and prepare cereal for breakfast!
-Counter D is a small area that is ok for dirty dishes to hang out.
-Counter E is designated to be clean and clear at all times. This is a space for dirty dish overflow and where I keep a counter-sized trash can. This trash can is a plastic grocery sack that sits next to the sink for easy disposal of everything that comes through that area since my garbage can is NOT located under my sink, but across the room.
-Counter F is difficult to reach. I've put the toaster in this "deadish" space which seems to be working. I also like the toaster on Counter C (and may move it) but I don't like the crumbs which always end up in the silverware drawer (directly underneath Counter C).
-Counter G is the bar area used for puzzles, projects and filling orders.
-Counter H is a junk magnet! It is the tiny space in front of the microwave, just perfect for "setting things down" if you know what I mean. This spot is now OFF LIMITS. We need it to stay cleared off so 1)we can open the microwave(!) and 2) the microwave can open when the cutting board is pulled out.

The purpose of this post (for me) is to introduce the up and coming "after pictures" for the kitchen. "Before" pictures of the kitchen are here. It's pretty gruesome and all the stuff on the counters is what I'm dealing with tonight as I prepare for "after" photos tomorrow.

Things I'm doing tonight:
-cleaning Counter H in front of the microwave ("a-don't-set-anything-here-EVER" zone)
-cleaning up crumbs and drips on the oven
-cleaning and purging Counter C (emptying and recycling water bottles)
-purging off Counters E, B, F, G (finding places for each and every item & wiping counter)
-maintenance Counter A & D before bed (as has become habit)

Every night I've been picking up the dining room, entry and Counter A before going to bed. It doesn't take but a couple minutes and the rewards are fantastic! Coming "after" photos!!
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