Archive for January, 2014

Whistle While You Work: Cleaning Checklists To Keep You Sane

Monday, January 6th, 2014

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There is nothing more frustrating than spending an entire day cleaning your home, only to have it completely in shambles again the next day. Want to keep a clean home but don’t have access to a crew of helpful woodland housekeepers like Snow White? You can by maintaining a cleaning schedule.

Think of your desk at work. Do you function better when it’s piled with papers or when it’s clean and organized? Most likely, it’s the latter. The same goes for your home.

I feel much more in control of my life by keeping up a quick 30-minute daily cleaning checklist (which can be broken up throughout the day), as it keeps my home clutter-free, and also provides the benefit of reducing the time it takes me to do my weekly chores.

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Below is a list of cleaning items that you can tackle throughout the year (courtesy of Household Management 101):

Daily
* Pick up clutter and neaten each room in the house
* Clean up the kitchen after each meal
* Deal with spills immediately
* Put away everything that comes into the house (mail, groceries, etc.)

Weekly
* Clean all the rooms in your home (dusting, floors, etc.)
* Laundry
* Menu planning, making grocery list and grocery shopping

Quarterly
* Sweep garage, basement and attic
* Wash or air pillows
* Wash windows

Bi-annualy
* Air and turn mattresses
* Clean drapes and curtains
* Wash rugs and clean carpets
* Clean basement, garage and attic (this is a great time to make a larger donation to your local Goodwill or thrift shop with items you no longer need)

If this list is overwhelming, start simple. Challenge yourself for one week to make your bed each morning, and clean up clutter around the house before you go to bed at night (including hanging up clothes, putting away shoes, etc.). It only takes a few minutes, and you will be amazed how much better your house will feel by doing those two simple starter tasks.

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Once you have a couple of weeks under your belt, work your way up to doing the full 30-minute daily cleaning checklist, and then keep moving up until you are able to complete the checklists for the entire year.

The key is consistency. Bryan and I clean our house every Thursday night. Why Thursday night? Because cleaning on a weekend day was taking away “our time,” so we decided it bummed us out a little bit less to complete our chores on a work night. Everyone’s schedules are different, so you might have to do some trial and error to find what works for you, but stick with it, and you will soon find that keeping your house clean is less of a chore.

New Year, New Resolutions

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

I do it each and every year — I kick-off a fresh new year with stale resolutions. There are a few I’ve rotated through over the last few years, sometimes revisiting them in tandem. Resolutions are great; but I think I’ve been doing them wrong. This year I decided to ditch those musty, old resolutions and try a few new ones on for size. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Capture More Memories. I’ve always loved taking photographs, I have boxes of photos from my teenage years and even more from before I was married. Over the last few years I’ve gotten out of the habit of carrying my camera. Most of the photos I have are sitting on my iPhone or iPad — I can’t remember the last time I printed any pictures. Rob and I have only a handful of photos (aside from our wedding photos) that aren’t couple selfies. In 2014 I want to take more photos and find creative ways to print and display them.

2. Be Stylish. I love fashion — but all too often I haven’t allowed myself to wear the clothes I’m crazy about for fear of what others might think. Two big things happened to me in 2013 – I turned 30 and accepted a new position that requires me to do a lot of running around but still be meeting ready. It’s time to clean out the closet. I want to explore fashion, define my style and learn how to dress my shape.

3. (Finish) Learning Something New. There is a ukulele in the corner of my bedroom collecting dust, an unread book about toy camera photography on the coffee table and several boxes of jewelry making materials in my art room that have sat untouched for the last few years. Last winter I took a sewing class and all I want to do is keep sewing – I want to prove to myself that I can stick to something and get really good at it.

Sure, I still want to lose a few pounds, I’m determined to conquer my schedule (must stop double booking myself!!) and I want to quit drinking diet soda. But, let’s be honest, those are probably things I’ll work on and wrestle with forever. I want 2014 to be the year where I learn to cut myself a little slack and resolve to enjoy life more! I can’t wait to share more with you about the progress I make with my 2014 resolutions here on the blog!

Happy New Year!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink, Resolve

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

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A few years ago I looked in my kitchen pantry and found New Year’s Resolution inspiration. Our pantry was chock full of plastic bags even though I took reusable bags to the store every time. I did take them to the grocery store every time but the problem was that I forgot them every single other place I went. Headed to Target? No bag. The drugstore? Nope. The mall? Not a chance.

My very first environmental resolution was born. From then on I’ve tried, with varying degrees of success, to set an environmental goal for myself every year in addition to my other resolutions. If you are making resolutions this year, consider adding a green resolution. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Bring your own bags, every store, every time – Reusables aren’t just for the grocery store. Put some extras in your purse or trunk for use anywhere you would usually get a bag. Just don’t forget to keep ‘em clean!

Use a travel mug for coffee refills – Most of the big coffee shops welcome reusable mugs and many give discounts. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts offers a “refill” price of 99 cents for any size reusable mug and if you dine in that refill price is for a bottomless cup.

Don’t idle your engine – In modern cars, the break-even point between idling and the gas required to restart is only ten seconds. Any time you are parked and waiting for something, kill the engine to save money, gas and carbon emissions.

Try a new fair trade product – Coffee and chocolate are the easiest switches because, well, they’re delicious and easy to find high quality product in fair trade versions. Your favorite coffee shop brew is probably already fairly traded but if you’re not sure just ask when you order your next (reusable) cuppa joe.

Pass by the drive thru – Reducing your fast food trips by as little as one per week can make an impact. Fast food is easy and cheap in the short term but when we rely on it too heavily the costs to health, environment and social justice start to add up quickly.

My green resolution this year is to try out some new eco-conscious iPhone apps that will give me more info to make good decisions and remind me to make better choices. What kinds of changes are you looking to make? Do you have any favorite apps or tips for making more conscious choices? Please share them in the comments below.