Monday, February 18, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! Week 7- The Dining Room

OK, I am going to just jump in feet first and say it- I am so excited about this week's challenge.  Why, you ask? 

One, we are DONE with the kitchen.  Finally.  And two, because my new dining room is pretty simple.  Dining rooms tend to be areas that only get used a few times a year and otherwise go unnoticed.  This one is getting a lot more use than usual with all of our visitors, and in our case, it doubles as a school room, but that's another post!

If you have a separate eat-in area of your kitchen, include that in this week's assignment.  


This week- The Dining Room

 Your assignment-

  • Clear everything out!  That means empty drawers and clear off flat surfaces.  Once a room is fairly empty it is easier to clean.
  •  Now that those furniture pieces are cleared out, time to clean them up and make them shine!  Clean top to bottom. I love to Murphy's Oil Soap a few times a year, but up to you!

  • Pull all the furniture out from the walls and clean behind each piece, vacuuming or mopping, whichever is applicable.

  • Now is also the time to deep clean your table and chairs.  If you have one in the kitchen, sorry, but go back and hit it, too.  Not just the top, but the legs and all.  Chairs too!  Just think about how many dirty hands touch the rungs and sides of chairs.  Ok, don't think about it- just scrub!

  •  Other areas to clean- mini blinds (did I tell you I loathe mini blinds?), windows, curtains (yes, take them down and wash them), chair rails, light switches, and chandeliers.  This is the time to get it all.

  • Last big area, the floor.  Just like in the kitchen, work your way around the baseboards and then on to the floor.

  • So all that stuff you pulled out of the buffet and such- time to declutter!  Evaluate and purge what you do not need, then put it back, neatly please.  We are currently using this dresser as a "hutch" because my daughter doesn't want it in her bedroom.  This is actually the third house we have done this in, and it has grown on me.  Inside it are things like placemats, tablecloths, and a few silver trays I use for entertaining.  After weeding out so much last year, we can now house school supplies in the six outer drawers.  Yay me!

 A few notes, especially for those of you with formal dining rooms!

  -So here's the deal- grandma's china may be lovely but if it does not get used it is just taking up space.  If you love it and use it, keep it.  If not, give it to someone who will.  A few years ago I finally let go of one of our Christmas china sets.  Now I have only one, but someone somewhere is now enjoying the other set (I hope).  Win win!

 - Almost 25 years ago I thought it was a great idea to register for 12 wine glasses and 12 champagne glasses, along with 12 of a lot of other things I did not need or use.  Eventually I gave our movers a break and passed them on (you are welcome!).  Yes, they were pretty, no they were not necessary.  Ask yourself if everything you have you really need.

 -Yes, I admittedly own several sets of dishes.  (Although not Christmas ones anymore!)  I promise I often feed large groups at a time and I use them.  ;)  Again, if you use it, keep it.  If it is just sitting around for some day, it may be time to let it go.

 -Yes, you CAN have too many tablecloths and placemats.  Ask me how I know.  I now have a few less.  Grandma's old "antique" tablecloth was lovely, but, with a few holes in it, I was not going to use it. Sensibility trumped sentimentality.  I think she would understand.

  -If you entertain and can justify owning glass plates and a punch bowl, by all means keep them. I do.  But if not, most churches have sets like that and are usually more than happy to let you borrow theirs in a pinch.  Again, make decisions that are right for you and then be happy with those decisions.

Remember, our goals include deep cleaning all those surfaces, de-cluttering what we don't need or simply do not use anymore, and reorganizing.  This is what can happen when you put your mind to it-

The local Goodwill store likes us these days!

Tired yet?  Trust me, this is probably not going to be a one-day job for most of you. If you do not have a dining room at all, then make that kitchen table sparkle and reward yourself with a treat.  Chocolate works great!

6 weeks of challenges down!  How are you doing?  We love seeing all of your pictures each week and are amazed at all of the people still with us.

Blessings and happy cleaning!
 Intro Week
Week 1- Holiday Decorations
Week 2-The Pantry
Week 3-Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers   

Week 4- Fridge, Freezer and Floors
Week 5- Recipes 
Week 6- The Stove and Loose Ends

Monday, February 11, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! Week 6-The Stove and Loose Ends

OK friends, with your recipes done we are ready to embark on our final push for the kitchen.  After this we will really only spend one week in each "area" of our house so be ready for some serious digging in!

But this week- we should have called this "the week that almost did not happen!"  Seriously!

The first time we tackled 34 Weeks of Clean years ago my friend, Cristi, from Through the Calm and Through the Storm reminded me of Kitchen Countertops!  I personally did that when we did the cabinets, but failed to mention it to you. SOOOOOOOOO, if you have not tackled that area yet, today is going to be the day.

And the loose ends- are you ready?

Your assignment this week-

The Stove/Oven and Microwave, tops of cabinets, windows, blinds, and light fixtures.  Hang in there - I promise this is the end of this room!  The good news is that after this deep cleaning we should only need a light weekly maintenance to keep it sparkling.  At least that is my story and to keep you as friends I am sticking to it.

So our final push-
  • Clear/clean off any counter top space you have!  Clear them off, clean them up, and see if you can keep them clear!  Now THAT is the challenge.  Is it just me?  We always seem to have one place that collects things- let's just say the battle is real, friends!  Get rid of the piles you have sitting there (I KNOW I cannot be the only one) and resolve to not let them creep back up on you by next week...or tomorrow.  I challenge you to only put half of what you take off those counter tops back- it might seem stark at first but you will be surprised at how much neater it will look and how much more prep space you will have.  Out with the clutter, my friends!

That pile has GOT to go!  It is a constant battle.

  • Microwave- Clean it!  Inside and out!  This is a good job for a teen, just saying! ;)

  •  Stove/Oven- This is a good job for a maid, but since I cannot convince my hubby I need one, I guess I am the one tackling this one.  Yay for automatic oven cleaners, yuck for the burnt smell no matter what.  I admire you who can keep the bottom of your oven clean.  I am not one of those people (obviously).  I have tried. I have failed.  Crack your door or window if you can to get rid of the smell!  And for the record- who else thinks that those pizzas that say cook directly on the shelf should be outlawed?  I mean really, who thought melting cheese dripping all over the oven was a good idea?  No more, I tell 'ya!

Hopefully a little baking soda, vinegar and hot water will make this good as new.  I will keep you posted!

I have had a love/hate relationship with my past gas stoves, but I do love the one in our new house.  Praise be to the woman who begged her husband to put it in.  Shame on him though for allowing her to put in TWO stoves. And dishwashers! But I digress.  Anyway, this one is is much easier to pull apart and clean.  Which is a good thing because while my husband's cooking skills are good, he and his bacon are messy!

  • Tops of cabinets.  Make sure you not only take all that decorative stuff off the tops and wash off the LAYERS of dust, (anyone else?), but then also take the time to vacuum or wipe the layer of dust off the cabinets.

  • If you have blinds in your kitchen, now is the time to wash them down.  You can dust them on a regular basis, but they do occasionally need a good, deep cleaning!  I have taken ours down in the past and put them in the tub, but our current ones are wood so I just do them slat by slat.   If you have curtains (smart you!), just wash them and rehang.  While you are there, wash those windows and wipe down the ledges!

  •  And last but not least, wipe off any light fixtures you may have in your kitchen, replace any burned out lights, and check your fire extinguishers.  If you do ot have one, these new small ones are handy to have around and be found at Walmart and such.  Consider this your friendly public service announcement.  You are welcome.

Wow!  We are DONE with the kitchen!  Take a step back, admire your hard work and pat yourself on the back!  Imagine me cheering yay you!  You did it! 

Let me also take a second to encourage you to keep moving forward.  We all have busy lives.  Some weeks are crazier than others.  Sometimes we get a lot done, other times we should just celebrate that the children got fed and bathed, right?  It's ok!  Embrace the life the Lord has given you and celebrate the time you have to enjoy it!

Next week we are moving out of the kitchen- get ready!
Happy Cleaning and many blessings,

Intro Week
Week 1- Holiday Decorations
Week 2-The Pantry
Week 3-Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers   

Week 4- Fridge, Freezer and Floors
Week 5- Recipes

Monday, February 4, 2019

34 weeks of Clean 2019! Week 5- Recipes

OK friends, we are going to take a week's detour from hard cleaning - week 3 for Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers took me about 4 hours and week 4 of Fridge, Freezer and Floor was hard (and cold) work and I need a break!  Next week, we will be finishing up the kitchen and moving deeper into our houses, so be ready!

But real quick, let me answer a few questions I get asked frequently.

Why schedule one space a week and why so slow?  Here are my thoughts.  A few of them anyway.  Consider it kind of a spring cleaning project that you can do once a year.  Yes, we should be cleaning more often than that, but if we are all being honest with ourselves, some things simply do not get done as often as they should.  Things like blinds, ovens, and behind furniture.  Anyone else?  By concentrating on just one area each week, we run less of a chance of burnout- ask me how I know this!  It is easy to start strong and be excited, hence all of the amazing pictures you all have been sharing, but then real life sets in, we get a little lazy, and all of a sudden time has gone by and something else has demanded our attention.  I get it, because I can be guilty of it.  Accountability, and in my case, checklists, have a great way of motivating people.  If you missed my post last week on Weekly Cleaning, make sure you check it out!

And so why the checklists?  For your ease and motivation!  To help you think outside the box and to help hold you accountable.  Just pretend each time you check something off I am standing there nodding my head and smiling.  Especially on those hard projects.

And let's face it, everyone's definition of hard project will be different.  That being said, NO AVOIDING the hard projects.  If we get to one you REALLY do not want to do, I am willing to bet it is the one you need to do the most! ;)  Just do it, and then enjoy the weeks you are excited about.  Not all will be exciting, but all will get you one step closer to taking your house back!

Let's do this! 

So this week is a simpler project- recipes!

Ok, maybe not simpler, but at least no scrubbing is involved.  More organizing, and I LOVE organizing, remember?  But, be forewarned that this is a little more than just straightening things up a bit.  This project usually takes me several hours.

I often have recipes in several places.  Some places they belong, some they do not.  Let's just say I like to pull recipes out of magazine and copy them off the internet faster than I can file them. It is a bad habit of mine. Well, one of many, but who is keeping track?  Anyway, this is what happens-

I had two file boxes of older, tried and true recipes.  One for only desserts and one for anything else.  Last year, after careful consideration of ALL the recipes, yes one by one, I threw out half and put the rest into just one box.  I asked myself with each one I touched, do I fix this, do I like it, am I ever going to fix it?  

There is NO reason to keep a recipe I am NEVER going to fix because my family would not eat it.  Other recipes that got the axe were ones with a million steps to them.  I know my life and I know my tolerance level- I am not a chef nor do I desire to be one.  Time to trash the recipes that do not fit into my busy life. Quite frankly, I am tired of copying new recipes onto those tiny little cards I cannot read anymore, so last year I adopted a new-to-me system.  Hold on to your hats!

Three Ring Binder.

 Yep, that is it.  Silly easy, huh?

I divided sections into categories that make sense to me and then put the recipes in page protectors. (I even have a new one this year with Keto recipes.) Makes clean up easy when I have tiny helping hands, and makes it much easy to file recipes I pull out of magazines or off the internet.

So here is your assignment:
  • Get those recipes organized.  If you have a system that works for you, yay!  Go through it and throw out the ones you don't use.  If not, go buy an inexpensive three ring binder and give it a try!
  • Don't forget those cookbooks!  I used to have about a million more.  I even collected a series from Southern Living.  They were beautiful but I NEVER used them.  I finally took them to Goodwill several years ago.  It was time to stop carrying around (we moved often remember) 15 cookbooks just because they were pretty!  Go ahead - pare down, you can do it!

This is what it looked like last year!

Yes, this is really what I kept!

And about these little things.  You know that impulse aisle in the grocery checkout aisle?  Well, it is not the candy that gets me.  Well, that gets me too, but it's those little themed recipe booklets that call my name.  They seem fun at the time.  But I cannot tell you the last time I actually used one of those recipes.  So I went through every one last year, yes I did, and pulled out about 5 recipes I wanted and KNEW I would actually use.  They went into my 3 ringed binder and the rest went in the trash.  Yay me!!  A year later- I have not bought one new one!  A small victory!

See, no cleaners or rags involved.  'Til next week! ;) One more week in the kitchen, friends. Hang in there, we are almost done with this area.   Remember, we are on a quest to take back our homes.  That means we are not only cleaning, but de-cluttering and reorganizing as well.  More things mean less room. More things take up space we could use otherwise - in our homes and in our heads!

Have fun and keep only what you need and will use!


Intro Week
Week 1- Holiday Decorations
Week 2-The Pantry
Week 3-Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers   

Week 4- Fridge, Freezer and Floors

Friday, February 1, 2019

What Our Weekly Cleaning Looks Like

Since we are 4 weeks deep in our 34 Weeks of Clean series, I have gotten several questions about our weekly cleaning schedule.  No, for the record,  I do not ignore the rest of the house while we "34 week" it!  While we do concentrate on one area a week for deep cleaning, decluttering and organizing, there are still other places in the house that get dirty through the week and have to be cleaned.  Bummer, right!?

Let me begin by telling you I do not believe there is a right and wrong way to do this.  I have tried many different ways and in different seasons, some have worked better than others.  This is just where we are now.  When I was a kid I helped my mom clean on Saturday mornings.  I use the term "morning" lightly, because I am an only child, and it took the two of us a long while to clean. (She did hire someone to help her AFTER I left for college, true story!)  I remember often putting on loud music and the two of us working until the whole house was done.  If you didn't work, you didn't play later.

I am sure I did a lot of complaining then but I look back at those days with a smile.  Projects are always more fun with friends, right!  And they often get done more quickly.

That being said, I do not do our house all in one day at this point in my life.  My two girls are grown and the boys, well, we would just not do as well as I would like.

So here is my method, quite similar to my 34 Weeks method.  One room or area a day!
Here's what it looks like for me- And yes, I have it posted because I cannot remember one minute to the next, more or less one week to another!

Monday- Living Room
Tuesday- Laundry and Hall Bath
Wednesday- Master Bathroom
Friday- Dining Room and Library
Saturday- Bedroom
Sunday- Towels/sheets

Now I know that leaves some spaces, but that is where my family and team work come in.  

They also have a similar chart, but with their areas in it.  So the boys both have days for their laundry, bedrooms, their bathroom, taking out trash, scooping the yard, etc.  My oldest kindly keeps up with our third floor, the kitchen there included, as that is where she lives currently.

Keep in mind, this is weekly cleaning, not necessarily deep cleaning.  I do try to do baseboards the first week of each month, and because I have learned the hard way, I do the blinds in each room weekly now.  Proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

In a perfect world it works great!  News flash- we do not live in a perfect world, so some days get missed and the next day I have to double up.  Such is life, but in general I try hard to stick with the plan.

Is it a perfect solution?  Maybe not, but it works for us.  Give it a go, see what you think, and adjust to your needs in this season!

Happy cleaning, ya'll!