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Posts Tagged ‘homemaking’

Remember back at the beginning of the year when I was participating in the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and making all kinds of progress, and posting impressive updates?

Well, along about week three, we got the flu.  For the second time.  As you might expect, that derailed basically everything except survival.

But a new challenge started last week, and I jumped at the chance to pick up where I left off.

Week One is supposed to be the Master Bedroom, which I did thoroughly in January.  In addition, I have kept up with it in the months since, and have even gotten rid of more things.  So I only needed to devote one day.  I went through the closet and drawers, and got rid of two small bags of clothes and a stack of books.  I did not go through all the jewelry and the sentimental things–I think once a year is enough for that.

I don’t have any pictures from the first day as there just isn’t that much change to show.  For the rest of the week, I worked on the hallway outside my office  I was SO EXCITED to tackle this area!  Here’s before:

 

What a mess, right?  Things were constantly getting knocked off  the top and on to the floor, and every time I walked by all that mess it made me sad.

This was the perfect time to tackle this area, because most of this is homeschooling material, and my homeschooling days have ended.  Lorelei will enter 8th grade at the local public school in August.

So I went through all of the homeschooling books, and got rid of some of them.  I probably should get rid of a lot more, and I admit that putting them in boxes and moving them into the garage, which will be the VERY LAST THING that ever gets minimalized, is just punting the problem down the road.  But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, right?

Lorelei is spending some time dog-sitting for my sister with Emily, so I did not have her much-needed assistance with this project.  Therefore there is another box filled with things that she will need to go through.  Not my box, not my problem!

I’ll show you what it looks like now, and then I will explain what I’ve put there.

 

This shelf and this area now mostly belong to me.  I am feeling happy that as my children grow and sort of leave, I am able to claim more space in this house for myself.

I love that the top is currently bare.  I hope it can stay that way.  I might consider putting some pictures or decorative items there, but the space is crowded and things might get knocked off.

The top shelf is primarily books I have received in exchange for my honest review thereof, or have won via social media giveaways.  I probably don’t need to keep them all; that’s something I will revisit next time I go through the challenge.  At least I want to keep a list of them.  I am also keeping whatever books I am currently reading on that shelf, and my extra journals.  Most of these books were previously stacked in a dusty heap on the bottom shelf, and some were sitting in a cardboard box in my office, a space that has now been freed up!

Second shelf are Catholic project items.  For example, I have a binder for the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and it lives there.  My prayer journal is there.  My binder with various Advent and Lent and other liturgical year tools is there.

The bottom shelf is a work in progress.  It currently contains homeschool materials that I borrowed from others and need to return, and extra folders, notebooks, and such that may be needed when school begins.  I’m thinking that we will need space for extra paper and school supplies for use in doing homework and I am willing to use the bottom shelf for that if need be.  I will have a better idea how I will use that space by the next Challenge.

Finally, in the corner you will see a couple of totes.  Yes, I found a use for some of the many totes that were taking up space in my bedroom!  One of them is holding a lot of prayer journaling supplies–scissors, glue stick, colored pens and pencils and markers, Catholic coloring book, prayers, prayer cards.  The tote keeps them contained, and if I want to go elsewhere to journal everything is ready!  The other tote is holding a special Christmas gift from my husband–a monthly subscription to a mystery to solve.  It’s really fun but also takes time we don’t seem to have, so I am keeping it all organized here so that when we devote an evening to working on it, everything is ready to go.

So there you have it! Next week is bathrooms.  Again I expect to spend one day on them, and then I am planning on working on the laundry room and the upstairs hallway for the rest of the week.

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Well, it’s been a WEEK, y’all.  And what a week it has been.  Three of us (including me) had the flu, and school was closed three days for snow and super-cold (for Tennessee) weather.  Staying on task under such circumstances was challenging.

But it’s supposed to be a Challenge, right?  So I persevered, with Lorelei’s (somewhat less enthusiastic) assistance.

This week was bathrooms, of which we have FOUR. However, one of those belongs to Emily (that is to say, it’s the one she uses and it’s full of her stuff, even though it’s also the one on the main level that gets the most use overall).  I can’t minimize someone else’s stuff (at least, not an adult someone’s).  I hope she will be inspired by my efforts and do it herself some time soon.  The other bathroom is in the basement, and was Jake’s domain before he moved out, which means all the drawers are still full of his stuff.

So we worked on the two upstairs bathrooms, the master bath and what we call the kids’ (i.e. Lorelei and William) bath.

It was super time-consuming to make all those before-and-after pictures I used last time.  So I’m not doing it, especially since I am already behind posting this.

KIDS’ BATHROOM

bathroom 13bathroom 25

Well, that’s the overview and I don’t blame you for being confused because not much happened there except rearranging things.  I wish I could have convinced Lorelei that we don’t need that Christmas bear to remain on display at all times but “it has always been there” is hard to argue with.  Anyway, the meat of this project was the drawers and cabinets, which I had been wanting to tackle forever but had avoided thinking it would be such a pain and take SO LONG.

Y’all, that took 15 MINUTES, tops.

We threw almost everything away.  I’ll bet we had 20 packages of unopened dental floss in there, just for starters.  (What that says about Lorelei’s dental hygiene shall go unremarked upon.)  Anyway, what wasn’t garbage was either relocated or organized and then it was on to the master bathroom.

MASTER BATHROOM

bathroom 1bathroom 10

Right away you are going to notice two things:  one, there’s not a huge difference; and two, I’m only showing you half of the bathroom.  I’m already fairly organized about my bathroom and all that stuff on the counter is more-or-less regularly used.  I like it out there where I can see it and don’t have to worry about putting it away all the time.  So the biggest change was getting rid of the coffee maker, which was purely aspirational as I have not used it ONCE in the six years it has been sitting there.

As for the other side of the sink, that is John’s side, and it desperately needs minimizing, believe me!  But he is going to have to buy in, and we are still working on that.  However, drawers and cabinets are ALL MINE, so see below:

bathroom 7bathroom 11

There is another cabinet and three more drawers but as you can tell from the picture above I am already pretty organized about the bathroom so there just wasn’t much of a change–not enough to justify pictures, anyway.  Am I oversharing by letting y’all see all that motel lotion I have collected?

I’m really pleased with this last little bit–the area around the bath, which required a little trip to Target. 🙂

bathroom 6bathroom 8

A little more detail:

bathroom 9

And that’s a wrap!  Next up, the kitchen!

Read about Week One: Master Bedroom

Read about Catholic Minimalism

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My house is a mess, y’all.

I’ve never been the best housekeeper, but my home usually had at least a couple of neat and presentable rooms that were suitable for unexpected guests.  That all changed about five years ago, when I started working at home.  Something had to give, and housework was that thing.

When you have to quickly clean a very messy house, it’s easy to overlook details like dusting, especially hard-to-reach areas like ceiling fans, air vents, and baseboards.  So when the folks at e-cloth offered me the opportunity to review an item, I was excited to pick the Flexi-Edge Floor and Wall Duster:

Here’s what the e-cloth website has to say about this ultimate dust mop:

  • Removes dust, dirt, hair, cobwebs and allergens from floors, walls and ceilings
  • Better than Swiffer®* and other leading floor duster brands:
    • Outperforms – cleaner floors in less time
    • Multi-purpose – cleans floors, walls & ceilings
    • Stronger stick – does not bend during use
    • Re-usable head – 100 wash guarantee saves money over disposable cloths
    • Environmentally friendly – significantly less waste than disposable cloths
  • Flexi-edges clean into corners, baseboards and easily around legs to chairs, tables and any other furniture
  • Lightweight and highly maneuverable

I’m not going to share before and after pictures here, y’all.  Sorry, the before is so dusty it would be embarrassing.  But let me just say this thing works!  E-cloth claims that their fibers break up, lift, trap, hold and remove dust, dirt, oil, grease, grime and over 99% of bacteria from any hard surface, using just water (or in my case, since I was only dusting, without any water at all!).  You don’t need to use any chemicals, and all e-cloths are reusable–the company claims you can save about $200 per year by eliminating your need for chemicals and paper towels.  The head on the Flexi-Edge comes off and can be washed in your machine (or just rinsed off during use).  I don’t dust very much so that thing is going to last about forever around here.

What I like: I live in one of those houses with (I’m guessing) ten-foot high ceilings, and even worse some places because of the architectural features are much higher than that and out of my reach.  With its telescoping handle, the Flexi-Edge allowed me to extend my reach to those cobwebs in remote corners.  Its unique fibers trap dust rather than just dislodging it, so that the many layers of dust on my ceiling fan did NOT fall on my bed as I feared but instead stuck to the head of the flexi-edge.  As you can see in the picture above, the edges are flexible (hence the name!) which makes it ideal for cleaning baseboards.  The head also swivels around in all directions.

Which leads me to my only complaint–if there is a way to lock the head in one position, I couldn’t figure it out.  And so I sometimes found it a little too flexible when I was trying to reach things about my head and it would spin around to a less-helpful angle.  When using it on the floor this is not a problem.

The Flexi-Edge is a $24.99 value (which I did receive for free for my honest opinion herein).  What’s really cool is that you can buy extra heads for only $9.99, which might be nice to have on hand in case one is in the wash.

There is a lot more great information about how awesome e-cloth is (they have many other products)–including the fact that they’ve been picked by Real Simple magazine as Best Product in three cleaning categories–and I would encourage you to visit them to read more, especially if you want to clean in a way that is more environmentally friendly.

And now I hope I have done enough to convince you that this is a product you would like to have–because here is your change to win your very own Flexi-Edge!  There are multiple ways to enter this giveaway which you can access by clicking on the link below, and you can come back every day to enter again!

Flexi-Edge Giveaway by e-cloth

e-cloth Flexi-Edge DusterOpen to US residents over the age of 18 only.  Giveaway ends at midnight on 7/20/2015.  I was provided with the Flexi-Edge in return for my honest review; as always, my opinions are my own.

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There was a room in the “new” wing of my high school that was referred to as the “home ec” room.  There were sinks and a cooktop in there, but the days of anyone being taught the domestic arts as a part of the Knoxville Catholic High School curriculum were long gone by then and the very idea is probably laughable to today’s students.

Me, I wish they had taught me how to sew.

Yes, I know that it’s incredible, domestic goddess that you all no doubt believe me to be, but I can’t even sew on a button.   Shoot, at this point I can’t see to thread a needle anymore.

Once upon a time, in Girl Scouts, I did learn some basic sewing skills, and even made a pillow once.  That was 37 years ago, y’all.  And 26 years ago (when my “skills” were still relatively fresh) I decided to mend a tear in my favorite pair of pajamas, and ended up sewing them to the sheet of the bed I was sitting on.  That’s when I gave up in disgust.

I’m a great cook, and that’s way more important, right?

Time was, all women knew how to sew.  We all learn to cook, more or less, because feeding yourself and your family is a necessity, and back in the day, so was clothing them.  If you’ve read the Little House books, you’ll remember there is much discussion of the buying of cloth and the making of dresses, especially in the later books when Laura begins to help Ma with some of these tasks.  At some point she notices the tension in Ma’s face and is surprised to realize that Ma hates sewing as much as she does.

Today, sewing is a hobby for those who enjoy it, thankfully.  For those who hate it or can’t do it, there are options.  Mima was our family’s solution when I was growing up, and even when Emily was little.  Although crocheting was what she really enjoyed, she was capable of all the sewing we required;  so when we needed a costume for a play, or something mended, or our pants hemmed, we got overnight service.  But by the time my kids needed their uniforms altered, Mima couldn’t do it anymore.  There was a nice old lady in her neighborhood who was a seamstress, so we moved on to her.  But one day I called her and she no longer answered her phone.  We found a local alterations establishment to use.  It now took longer to get things done, and needless to say it cost more.  A lot more.

Because this is the kind of thing I tend to leave to the last minute, (as in the day before school starts) a lot of creative solutions to my inability to sew have arisen.  Pants have been rolled up, glued, stapled, and duct-taped.  These temporary fixes often remain until the item in question has been outgrown.

What brings this to mind today?  This afternoon Lorelei is selling Girl Scout cookies in front of the Walgreens.  She wants to wear her Brownie sash (everyone apparently gave up long ago the idea of Scouts buying the entire uniform).  Now, I only succeeded in buying the Brownie sash and the items meant to adorn it in December, even though Lorelei has been a Brownie all year, and I’ve procrastinated since then about getting the things onto the sash so she could wear it.  But last night I got some fabric glue, and this morning I stuck them on there and it seems like the job will hold long enough (she won’t be a Brownie any more after this school year!).

brownie sash

 

But wait!  Those of you in the know are getting ready to remind me that you can iron those things on now!  What a blessing!

Except I don’t own an iron.

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