Archive for the ‘Cleaner & Greener’ Category

Wordless Wednesday: In the Garden

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

We’re getting ready to garden for the summer. Living in coastal Southern California means a lot of plants can go in the ground in March and seeds can be started for sure. Spencer and I picked out some seed packetss at the store: strawberries, corn, green beans and a lettuce mix. Possibly carrots too. We’ll get tomato plants in May.

Rather than weed the side yard (ugh), I decided to just turn the relatively weed free former herb garden into a strawberry patch. Spencer helped, with varying degrees of success. Much dirt was thrown, most stay out of eyes, so yay?


Pointy rake is pointy

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Work-Life Discord

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I don’t talk about my old job very much on here, mostly because I quit almost two years ago (holy crap!), but it’s been on my mind lately as I have been thinking hard about how I can organize and streamline my life, which is my ultimate goal for trying to knock out 12 things every month. It’s a recurring theme on the blog because just about once ever quarter, I think that I can’t go on this way and I post about cleaning, or organizing* how I am really changing this time. And then… I never do.

In my former worker-bee life, I held a position that required organization and focused on improvement and I was good at it. So, my utter failure of this at home is sort of hilariously ironic. Last night I was working on gathering our documents for taxes and I swear I went through the mail stack on our counter for the fourth time in a month to find some of the 1099s. I pulled out at least a shoe box full of recyclable junk mail. I couldn’t help but think that I never would have let this happen at my old job. I had a touch it once, then act or file when ever possibly and I kept as little paper around as possible. It helped that I had a shred box a few steps from my doorway and I didn’t have to do the actual shredding myself, but that excuse only covers the confidential/financial papers.

I need a plan and maybe need to start with some baby steps. I need to be realistic, we have a toddler who can reach most of our counters: piles are out of the question. My gut instinct is to run to target and buy some delightfully cute organizing bins and maybe I will but I am writing this post as a way of hitting the pause button first. I need to think about what I need, what I would like to accomplish and what I would like to prevent.

I need to organize my life. Apps are a start, but that is only my digital life. Unless an app is going to magically sort my paperwork, I need to get on the ball at home too and start keeping my household paperwork in order like it is my job, because essentially, it is.

Look! I drafted this post Wednesday morning and by Wednesday evening, I had done all this planning:

You know it is fancy because it is written in crayon on old paper from a work conference to make it all official. So, basically I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I want to organize all the things. It’s like a sickness, happens every year when tax gathering take forever and I think I should never let this happen again.

Edited to add: I should clarify: we have a system for bills: they are immediately pulled from the mail, we open and write the due date on the envelope and they are tucked (date sticking out) into a paper monthly calendar we keep in the kitchen. My issue is with all the other mail – bank statements that need to be filed, miscellaneous offers and business-type mail, magazines, catalogs, that sort of things. 

How do you organize mail and papers? If your answer is I process everything into color coordinated bins the second I bring it in the house, don’t tell me. Well, you can tell me, but now how sad it is making me – clubbing baby seals sad, thinking there was one more cookie when there isn’t sad.

*this room is finally clean. After photos to come – a year later…

An App A Day…

Monday, March 19th, 2012

keeps the doctor away? I don’t even know what that means.

I need some app help. I have an iphone, macbook and an ipad, so am looking for apple functionality although Spencer basically stole the ipad so I am not even sure I should be counting that one. Well, anyway. I have needs.


As I said in my 12 in 2012 redux post, I would like to start logging calories and exercise again, but I can’t find an app I love. I’ve tried the sparkpeople app, which is ok there are lots of foods and I like being able to search the user added foods, but a lot of the time those are wrong. Also, the exercise part seems to grossly overestimate the calories burned using the elliptical machine. I tried the Losing It app, but it doesn’t have most of the food I eat and I am too lazy to manually add a certain type of granola bar so I just pick something else and I’m not sure how accurate that might be. So, still looking.


Looking for a list or to do list app, but mostly for grocery store and target list. I tried Errands, but don’t like the interface to enter things or go get them. This needs to be easy because I can barely remember to write things on the board, let alone remember to look at the list before I go. Someone on twitter recommended Out of Milk, which sounded perfect, but I couldn’t find it in the app store.  I need a grocery app with the ability to make a list by store and have multiple stores: ie make a target list, a trader joe’s list, etc. In an ideal world, they would be linked in some way and I could put something on a list in more than one store and it would take it of any list when i checked it off.

This isn’t really an app so much as I am looking for a cleaning schedule. I really want to get better about routine cleaning things, like fridge, mini blinds, medicine cabinets, that sort of thing. I don’t know how often these sorts of things are supposed to be cleaned. If I could find even a chart (that isn’t quite as overwhelming as Martha or the Fly Lady) I could input reminders into google calendar or something. But an app would be awesome.


I need to move beyond laptop stickies and rouge word files for blog management. What to people use to keep track of stuff? I use a calendar for deadlines, but what about for ideas, links, inspiration stuff? I’m all over the place with where I read things online so I don’t have a consistent method and I end up losing things because some are pinned, some are bookmarked and some are starred in my reader.

And what do people think about link posts? I was thinking about bringing back 5 things I love this week (I think it has been over a year, I think, since I have done one), but I feel like link posts are all over the place right now. I’m starting to think that unless they have a specific them or are from a really good curator, the posts can be a little boring.


Getting Rid of It

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Once, I wrote a blog post about having too much stuff. And guess what, here it is  a year later and not only do I still have too much stuff, I have more stuff. Sure, I have managed to unload a few things, about 5 dvds and 10 books and a few garbage bags of clothes to the thrift store, but that barely made a dent. I emptied one of the closets I tend to stash stuff and this is the result:

And that is just the view from the doorway


So. Time to try again. I’m so torn. I could have a ton of stuff gone and just have a donation truck come and be done with it. But there is a lot of stuff. Would it be worth it to try and make any money? Not much is high dollar, so where should I draw the line. I could make some cash, but it could take some time. But. I’m a stay-at-home mom, I technically have time. Maybe I just need to prioritize better.

I’m also having a horrible time keeping up with housekeeping, in part because there is nowhere to put anything away. I figure I have about 15 hours a week of no toddler time, not counting the hours after bedtime because those are too variable to calculate. I’m basing this on 2 hours, twice a week for preschool and 1.5 hours of nap time every day.

What I would like to do over the next 3 months in improve my quality of life – organize my home, make some money and streamline my chores. I also would like to make some time for writing, but that is pretty much just a hobby, so excluding the odd paid post here or there, I definitely need to start making other things a priority during my dedicated task time.

I thought it would be fun to blog my little life makeover, share the tips and tricks I find as well as let you guys know the best ways I find to get rid of stuff. I’m also going to try out some time management apps for both the apple and android platforms. Good times.

To start, here are my preliminary goals:

Daily (by the end of each day):

  1. Dishes done, sink empty
  2. No clean clothes in dryer or laundry basket
  3. Dining room table cleaned off
  4. Drinkv64 ounces of water (I think this will help with my chronic headaches)
  5. Bulk of the toys and books put away


  1. Clean bathrooms
  2. Mop kitchen floor
  3. 90 minutes of working out
  4. Vacuum under couch/chairs
  5. to be determined

So, those of you laughing about what surely must be the deplorable condition of my home need to realize that I do all of these things, just erratically. And I sweep my kitchen floor pretty much daily, I just don’t mop it very often.

Also, we aren’t hoarders. We just have a lot of stuff and don’t like to throw it away. Heh. What has had a big impact though, is that we sold my parent’s house right after we moved into this house, so a lot of boxes of pictures, photo albums and mementos just got shoved in to closets. And we never dealt with it.

The second layer of weird stuff came when we emptied our upstairs to have to wood floors installed and stuff ended up shoved everywhere because right after the floors were done, there was the baby shower then I was working 70 hours a week to try an get my job set up for maternity leave and nothing ever got sorted out. And then there was a baby. Add to that the stuff we got when my husband’s grandfathers died and general baby stuff accumulation and it just ends up a mess. I never made fixing it a priority. Until now.

Obviously the additional component to all of this is that i need to just stop buying anything that isn’t consumable, like food or crayons. I need to get Spence a Halloween costume and I did buy a few decor items, but I’m hoping to craft a bit through the holiday season to use up the stuff I have and not buy anything more. I’ll make an exception if buying one thing (like a wreath form) will us up more things (like skeins of yarn and flowers that I already have).

I also need to figure out how to not let incoming stuff mess up the progress. I need to get preschool to paperless: reading flyers and writing down dates as the stuff comes in, ordering scholastic books right away, etc. It has only been a month and there is a small pile of papers. And the art work – need to figure out how to display, store or trash that, too.

Essentially, I need to get us down to only having things we use or love. I think organizing and purging will happen first, while working on sales, if possible. I’m just not sure if trying to sell things is worth not having them in the house anymore. I wish they had a What Not to Wear for houses.

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