Cleanly Beautiful…

I tend to think of beautification as a project.  Making something, arranging something, organizing… I rarely think of cleaning as a beautification process.  I wonder why that is?  I mean, what else could cleaning be?

Yesterday I woke up feeling out of sorts.  One of my earliest posts of the day on my stamping board was,

I woke up today and thought, “I’m not happy,” so, I looked around me and started doing things that would make me happy.  A little decluttering and some Murphy’s Oil Soap and I’ll feel a lot better.

It did too.  A few hours later I posted on Facebook, “Today, happy smells like Murphy’s Oil Soap.”  It did.

I found myself wondering just how often I over-complicate things.  Yeah.  Probably much too often.  One of the things that makes me happiest is when I look around me and my house and life is “clean.”  It’s silly, but clutter stresses me.  Dirt depresses me.  And yet, how often do I ignore those things in order not to obsess over them.  I tend to be very “either/or” about that.  You’d think the queen of complaining about a pendulum could at least balance order and cleanliness, but come on.  Since when am I logical and rational?

I don’t care how perfectly decorated any place is.  I don’t care how amazing someone’s craftiness or artistry is.  If the place is dirty, it won’t look nice.

I have old hardwood floors.  From what the previous neighbor told me (she was here when the original owner moved in), these floors were never sealed.  The people who bought our house were so eager to move in, they didn’t wait for the floors to be done right.  There are times that this bothers me.  After all, shiny floors are pretty.  Because these floors are old, beat up, stained with black marks here or there etc., I tend to let them go much too often.  How silly of me.  The floors are still my floors.  They look beautiful when cleaned.  In fact, when they’re clean and oiled, I happen to like them– just as they are warts and all.

Yesterday I needed an infusion of beauty.  My first inclination was to find fabric I liked to replace the ugly door shade.  Um… yeah.  Still wanna do that.  However, it wasn’t the solution.  Not really.  What good is a pretty door window cover if the doorjambs are dirty, the floor is dirty, and the first thing you see when you step into the room is a cluttered table?    I thought so.

Oh, and you know the old decorating trick about having a large mirror on a wall to give the illusion of more depth to a room.  It only works if the mirror is clean.

Just sayin’.

Inspirationally Speaking…

Rewards.  Have you ever tried to use them for yourself?  “I’ll just finish folding this laundry, and then I can relax and read a book…”  Sound familiar?  If I buy something to decorate with, I often tell myself I can put it up as soon as I get the room spotless, decluttered, and perfect.  It usually works.

But once in a while… and I’ve never been able to pinpoint what makes it happen, it fails.  I stare at my pretty new thing and I cringe.  I don’t want to scrub the walls, declutter the closet, scrub and oil the floors and furniture, and vacuum the couch and chairs.  I just want my________ (fill in the blank) so I can enjoy it.

I used to resist.  Yes, I did.  I resisted.  I punished myself for having anything TO declutter or clean and wouldn’t let myself have fun with whatever I was doing.  Yeah.  I’m mature.  Well, it happens once in a while.  I get realistic.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I bought this vinyl cling tree with tiny little individual leaves (Just in case you ere curious… it took FOREVER to get up and my muscles are still exhausted).  I’ve had it for a week.  I didn’t touch it because I wanted to be a “good girl” and clean up the room and finish some of the things I’ve been putting off for a while.  You know, things like cleaning off the table, scrubbing and oiling the floor, scrubbing the dirty walls, and oiling the kitchen counters.  The problem is, it failed.  Big. Fat. Failure.  Just sayin’.

So, yesterday, with the help of my super strong and thoughtful daughter, Braelyn worked hard to put it up.  I wasn’t going to have something so encouragingly pretty (and in my direct line of sight) sitting in a brown tube forever.  Besides, I need the tube to ship the poster I have for the blog contest.  Just sayin’.

Well, something I always forget is how inspired I am to work AFTER I do something pretty.  It’s like I can’t stand to have my new decor surrounded by dirt and clutter.  It works.

Thought you oughtta know.

Oh, and the tree?  A lovely Decor Element from Stampin’ Up!

Life Lesson #2924820

So… you’d think after all these years, I’d have learned this little ditty.  Guess what?  I didn’t.  I get it now, but ummmmm well, ummm… ok, so I’m just stupid.  Sue me.

Ready for it?  Just because you buy something new, remodel something, replace something… doesn’t mean it won’t need to be redone, repurchased, or maintained.

Example?  Sure, I’ll give you one.  My new kitchen.  I designed it for an easy to clean, simple to organize, and to be a well-oiled machine.  For some idiotic reason, I forgot that I’d have to clean out cupboards, wipe them down, reorganize, and repair things when they got dinged.  I don’t know why, but for me, doing that huge job seemed to tell my brain, “There you go, you’re done. ”  Ummmmm yeah.

I’ve done this with a lot of things.  Couch.  I bought a new one 10.5 years ago.  Guess what?  It’s shot.  I remember when I bought it, I told myself, “This’ll last us about ten years and then we’ll need to replace it.”  So why am I so irritated that I was right?  I thought people were supposed to like being right.


So, I’m off to organize and clean one corner of the kitchen.  I’ll just do a few sections at a time, tossing what doesn’t make me happy, keeping what does, making everything pretty… it’s a good life.  I need to let myself enjoy it!  And I need to quit thinking that once done means over.  Why do I never learn that one?

We Have a Winner!!

Ok, so it’s time to do the drawing for the coolest book on housekeeping to hit the market since Martha Stewart got out of the slammer.  If she’d had this drill sergeant on her side, she might never have found herself behind so much iron and concrete (being too busy keeping her house running in ship shape to have time to goof around with scary things like insider trading (why does that always sound like organ transplants to me?) and such.

As always, I use my trusty favorite integer generator, to determine the winner.  Well, except for the times when I’m getting entries from more than just comments on a single blog post.  Then I do the old hat trick.    I digress.  Anywhooty, off I went to aforementioned and punch in the numbers…

I want 1 integer between the numbers of 1 and 39.  It spits out…

Well, lookie there.  Number 28 is the charmer this time.  So, who is going to have the cleanest house in the neighborhood?  I don’t know.  Shall I look?  Of course I shall!

Off I go to check… count carefully.  Count again to be sure because I don’t want to risk the wrath of militant dust bunnies who dare to fight the attack of the Drill Sergeant, Heidi!

Well, look at that.  Jennifer.

Now, I don’t exactly know which Jennifer it is, but it’s not my Gabby gal from what I can tell.  This Jennifer has an msn email that references underbloomed items of a floral nature.  Just sayin’ to help you figure out if you are the winner.

Me, I’m off to upload this baby so you can download it.

The rest of you, get thee to Lulu and buy said download copy and get your houses ship-shape before the drill sergeant comes and makes you drop and give her 20!

Book Review: Bootcamp For Lousy Housekeepers *WIN COPY!*

Title: Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers

Author: Heidi Schapp

Publisher’s Synopsis: You’re buried under piles of unfolded laundry. You can’t set the table because all your dishes are dirty. You need to dust, but every countertop is covered in newspapers and last month’s unpaid bills. Every drawer in your home is a junk drawer. Does this sound familiar? Do you want to manage your home better, but just don’t know where to start? Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers is the book that can help you transform your home from “messed” to “blessed” in a month (or less!) and keep it clean FOR GOOD!

Drill Sergeant Heidi Schaap teaches you what to clean, how often to clean it, how to maintain your newly-cleaned home and more!

Ok, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.  After all, I have another blog where I try to remember to keep a daily journal of my “weight loss through housework” progress.  In addition, my daughters were actively involved in the finishing of this book!  My daughter Braelyn took the cover photo while my daughter Kaylene posed trying hard to look like a mean drill sergeant while she wanted to laugh.  That’s just how those things go don’tcha know.

This book was inspired by the old fashioned notion of a day’s work for each day of the week.  Ma Ingalls and her “Wash on Monday…” and so forth.  So, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you open it up and find the week broken up into neat and tidy days for the reader to do her work.  There’s a laundry day, a town day, a garden day… you get the picture.  Chock full of forms, ideas, and even a reminder to polish those shoes (as every good Drill Sergeant would do), Heidi has created a book that’ll kick your butler into shape!

This book also comes with lots of hands-on help.  The author, Heidi, has a helpful BLOG where you can keep up with the daily chores, ask questions, and get new tips for making your home run as smoothly as meringue in a mixer on baking day.

As helpful as it is, this book isn’t for everyone.  If you struggle with thinking ‘organizationally’ you might need a lot of help in how to implement the program.  What is easy for one person isn’t always clear and understandable to another.  Look at the book previews, see the samples, and ask questions.  However, if you just need a book to help you organize your work and get it done, this might just be the book for you.  Caveat:  The book will help you plan and organize it.  I am very disappointed to discover that it doesn’t work like house elves and do the work while you sleep.

I bought a digital download for review purposes and as a giveaway.  I want a hard copy for my library because, after all, my kids are involved and I’m a mom.  I need a hardcopy!  However, I wanted to give someone else a chance at this marvelous book.  The book will be permanently deleted from my computer once I know the winner has received it, so Heidi isn’t going to lose a penny!  No worries!

Leave a comment and tell me the one job you love and the one you hate to be entered into the free drawing for this exciting book!  (Well, as exciting as you can get over housework!)

A Home Within a Home~

You can buy this little beauty from

You can buy this little beauty from

There’s no place like home.  You know, whether humble, you’ve roamed, with or without palaces… there’s no place like it.  No matter where you go, no matter how wonderful it is, there’s always that “aaahhh” feeling when you step back into your own house, kick off your shoes, and collapse in your own little corner of the world.

Imagine how everything in your house feels when it’s where it belongs.  See, we all need a place to “live”.  There’s a reason that “living out of a suitcase” is considered sub-standared to real life in a home.  Within every house, there are lots of residents who have their own homes.  It’s like your house is one big apartment complex and each item in it belongs in its own apartment.  Some things, rarely leave their homes.  You know, a couch, a recliner, the coffee table… they are homebodies and really don’t enjoy getting out.  From time to time, they upgrade to a nicer apartment or downgrade due to budgetary constraints, but most beds, dressers, and dining room tables move in and stay put– sometimes for life!  Other things like the baby’s toys, your shoes, a book etc all take trips from their homes.  Imagine how discouraging it must be for the book to find itself an unwelcome guest in the dresser’s house!

Some things, however, move into the complex and wander the corridors looking for an empty place to live.  A new knick-nack, tool, or even the brush may never be given its own home.  So like transients, they wander the halls hoping to find an empty place to call their own.  Of course, under the couch might not be the ideal place, but they’ll move in if no one helps them find a permanent residence they can call home.

I know, I know.  It’s a silly way to state the obvious, but I’ve been thinking a lot about house ordering in the past week or two.  As I’ve droned on about so much that you’re probably sick of it, I just did my little craft nook in my room recently.  Before that time, I rarely sat down at my machine.  Doing so meant taking it out, leaving it up for days, and then putting it away unsatisfied with what I’d gotten accomplished.  Since I’ve set up that little corner with everything being assigned a home, I’ve made four skorts, 2 pairs of capris, three shirts, a roman shade, made a skirt, and that’s what I can remember at the moment.  It’s so rewarding to skip in there, pull out my cutting table, reach for my scissors that are always in their home on the hook on my pegboard, reach for thread that is where it belongs, grab the seam ripper, tape measure, pencil, or fray check from exactly where I know they’ll be, and have no stress, no fuss, no muss.  It’s fun to sew when everything is readily accessible, in their home, and waiting to be used.

This is true of my children as well.  When we scrub up the living room, clear all surfaces, organize their coloring and drawing materials, put games on the shelves correctly etc… suddenly they want to use those things.  They want to be in here, doing things near us, talking to us, and tension is pretty much unheard of.  However, if the room is cluttered, noisy, or the things they want to use too difficult to access, it won’t happen.  Now that my room is clean and organized, would you like to guess where the favorite hang out is in my house right now?  Would you like to guess who is the fanatic about keeping things clean and kicking them out if they leave a mess?  Yeah.  That’s because I know I won’t want to go in there and sew or make pretty paper things if it’s a nightmare like it was back when it was a catch-all for the rest of the house.

Do yourself and your family a favor.  Give every item in your home a home.  If there is no room for it, either get rid of it or evict something else and move it in.  Whatever you do, give each item in your house a home.  Your possessions will be used instead of abused, you’ll know where they are, and you won’t replace the extension cord fifteen times because you didn’t know where you put them the last time.  If they always belong on a hook at the back of the sink cupboard … you’ll know right where to find them, won’t you?

It’s a simple principle.  It’s one that, for the most part, people use without thinking about it.  However, most people (who are not or have learned to overcome the C in OCD) have a dozen or two things that are homeless in their homes.  If they have too much stuff, it’s usually worse than that.  One thing that’s important, the home has to fit the item.  Just as you wouldn’t put a six foot eight inch man in a house with six foot ceilings, don’t try to stuff six girls’ worth of clothes into one dresser.  Not that I’d know anything about that.  I mean, it may seem logical that a large drawer each for things like socks, undies, and pjs would be sufficient and they could hang the rest in their spacious closet, but the fact is, it’s not enough.  Just thought you oughtta know.

Simple principles, but I’m going to break them down even simpler.

  1. If it walks, is dragged, carried, or in any other way enters your door, it needs a home.
  2. If you don’t have room for it to have a home, it can’t stay or you must evict something to give it a home.  Everyone needs a home.
  3. When your homes are overcrowded, find new ones for things you don’t need anymore.  It’ll give the rest of your things a chance to “breathe” and likely will help them last longer not having to “rub elbows” with other things quite so often.
  4. If your house seems to have a lot of clutter about, either things aren’t staying at home enough, or you’ve missed one of the other three things up there.  Do something about it.

Home-  there’s no place like it.  The song said so and John Howard Payne wouldn’t lie.