Friday, March 23, 2012

Reset: Kid Bedroom

I opted to only do my daughters' room today.  Jack's room is pretty clean and we went through things when we painted.  Plus I need to do his closet organizer still.

Not bad.

This room wasn't too bad.  I felt burnt out yesterday, but today I had a lot more energy to do this room and I'm so glad I paced myself.  I ended up with time to make some nice improvements.  Here's the before.  The worst part was the giant box of clothes on the dresser (left).  Luckily I found out last night my neighbor is expecting a girl and wanted the clothes.  That was easy!

First thing in any bedroom: make the beds.  Also, opening the windows helps things feel better.  (5 minutes)
 I struggled knowing where to start in this room after I made the beds.  Should I clean the floor?  Under the beds?  Dresser or bookcase?  Should I even do the bookcase?  So I made a list and that really helped.  On the list I added things I wanted to declutter/minimize another day: blankets, books, shelves, toys. I opted to do the dresser first and then the shelf above it.
 The pink tote had clothes I'm saving for a church clothing exchange.  I love donating to that, but it isn't until August and I really don't have a good spot for it.  So for now it stays on the dresser.  I really tried to put items in their proper place.  I also moved some of my girl clothes out of the pink tote and into the box.  Dresser tops: 10 minutes.
 Next was the long shelf.  It used to be in my kitchen but when we redid things there wasn't a spot for it.  So it went into their bedroom.  This is the catchall box I have in their room.  Whenever there's something random lying around it goes in here.  It's supposed to be cleaned out weekly, but it's been at least a month.
 I usually get out the major boxes that hold the toys and set them near the basket.  Then I just start sorting.  This took about 15 minutes.
 Each girl gets a box that can hold little random things they love.  Once it gets full we clean it out together and they can help choose what stays.
 I moved a roll of paper from the small bookshelf near Munchkin's bed and now the shelf looks like this.  A little better.  But I'm not convinced I want to keep it.
 At this point things are looking good.  It's functional.  But I've only put in 30 minutes and I have the energy for more.  I gave myself 60 more minutes since we had gymnastics after that.  One of the new problems was stuffed animals.  I made a container for them last week but it needed to be hung on a wall, so I decided to do that.
Beforehand, there were two spice rack shelves on the wall.  I moved one
 and put the animal cage in its place.  Likey.
 Another problem was too many books.  I had them just sitting on the bookshelf ready to fall off.  Plus, I don't like that bookshelf anyway.
 So I decided a book purging was in order.  I sorted all the books into categories: nonfiction, classics, baby books, early readers, favorite picture books, and books I didn't like.
I took the ones that fit on this shelf and put them away.  The rest would go either into and under the bed tote, or on the spice racks.
 All that was left were the books to get rid of.  I ditched anything I didn't actually enjoy reading.  We had a lot of books that were just plain poorly written (yeah, I'm looking at you Disney) or no longer interested anyone.  Munchkin didn't want to let any go and was getting sad so I told her she could choose four to keep since that's how old she is.  It worked!  The rest are outta here!  Hanging the cage and sorting books took a little less than an hour.  It was timed perfectly.  I could have lived with how it was, but since I had the energy, I did more.  Now I primed to go through the toys!
 Looking good eh?  I LOVE this room without that eyesore bookshelf next to the bed.  And the spice racks really do look cute!  Thanks Pinterest!!!
Okay, now it's your turn!  If you feel like doing a house reset and want to show us your before and after pics and your time, join up!  I hope it works!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reset: Bathroom

Today was the bathroom/laundry room.  I chose to do this room today because it's also my laundry day and laundry burns me out regardless of what else is going on.  Remember how it looked 2 days ago?  Not too bad.
I want to say one thing before I start.  If you are doing this, please remember you're not spring/deep cleaning.  You're just getting things to a functional level.

With bathrooms I like to start with the toilet.  There' just something about a clean toilet.  No, I didn't take pictures.  Because I had to stand so close to things I really couldn't get many pictures that actually showed anything.  So I'll just walk you through it.  
Toilet:  clear off anything on the tank and anything near it on the floor.  It's much easier to clean that way.  I'll leave it to you how much to clean.  I wiped mine down with Lysol wipes today because Saturday is my Bathroom Sanitizing Day and that's the day I clean everything with my steam cleaner (I LOVE my steam cleaner).  Normally I don't like these wipes (I don't like things you can't reuse), but I keep them around for when I need a quick cleaning.  Wipe the seat, lid, and lip and clean the bowl.  You can live with just doing that.  I needed to sweep the floor too.  If you have time then feel free to do more, but since I was tired from laundry I didn't include it with my house reset.  7 minutes on toilet area.Once it's clean replace anything that NEEDS to go near it.  Like a garbage can.  No clutter!

Next I did the sink area.  Pretty basic, just remove everything and clean the surface.  Put away anything that belongs somewhere else.  I mean put it in it's place, not just put it on the kitchen counter!  Replace the minimum number of things that go near your sink.  I also refilled the soap dispenser and changed hand towels.  5 minutes.
 Nice and clean!
I did the shower last.  I leave it last because visitors don't use it and I want the toilet and sink clean so I'm not embarrassed if anyone uses my loo.  If you have a guest bathroom, I recommend doing that one first.  It relieves a lot of stress to know people can use the bathroom comfortably.  Then do your own and then your kids.  It's like an oxygen mask on an airplane.  Secure yours first, then your child's.  I used to leave my room for last and then it never got cleaned.  So that has now become one of my rules.
For the shower, I put away all bath toys, tossed empty shampoo bottles and wiped under the other with a sponge.  The tub itself has a slight ring and the doors are pretty clean, so I didn't worry about cleaning them.  If yours aren't though, take 10 minutes and clean them.  I prefer non-toxic cleaners for the bath because I'm really sensitive to chemical smells.  I like to use my steamer.  But I also know when a shower/tub is really bad, sometimes you just need to save time and just spray it down with lime-away.

One secret I learned a few years ago was to put Rain-X on your shower door (I also use it on the tile) after it had been cleaned.  I don't have space for a water softener so doing this has SIGNIFICANTLY lowered hard water build up.  I simply wipe the walls with a squeegee or dry rag after showers and everything stays nice and clear.  I have to do this about every 2 months.  Anyway, 10 minutes for shower.  I also spent 5 minutes sweeping the floor.

So I spent just under 30 minutes cleaning the bathroom today.  I want to remember that anytime I don't think there's time to clean the bathroom.  There is!! Most of it is just putting away random items and wiping the surfaces.  This was great because it was also laundry day and I wanted to plant some seeds as well, plus I had a church meeting.  When you know your day has a lot of activities, either take a break, or just do something small.  Put away things in a box or do one surface.  Or even just maintain the rooms you've already done.  The whole point of this is maintaining sanity.

Tomorrow I'm doing my kids' rooms.  They're generally pretty clean so it wont be very dramatic (I think my kitchen was the worst room), but it will feel good to be done!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reset: Master Bedroom

This one has a lot of pictures.  Mostly because I couldn't get a good shot from any one place.  The joys of small rooms right?  Anyway, there's like 20 pictures in this post.  But since that's worth a thousand words that means you have less to read!
I was nervous about my room because it has become the dumping area for the last 3 weeks.  But I dived in this morning and learned something important: I don't do well with this stuff before 9am.  Maybe even 10.  It was too cold to go outside so the girls were either bothering me or bothering their brother-trying to do school work- and things got a little tense.  Lesson learned.
Shall we begin?

pic name pic name pic name
Starting left: The cedar chest has become the house catch all.  The floors had all kinds of laundry, toys, boxes that didn't fit on the cedar chest...general stuff.  And that bookcase has been a procrastinated disaster since it made its way into my room 4 months ago.
With any bedroom, always make the bed first.  Everything seems easier once the bed is made.  I don't know  if it's because it takes up so much space or because you can use it to organize other things.  It's such an easy and quick thing and makes a difference.  Making my bed took merely 5 minutes.
don't judge the lack of cuteness.  We plan to get a murphy bed next year so I don't need to invest in cute linens.  Plus the lighter cover was in the wash.
Next I put away the scant load of laundry left in the basket (tomorrow is laundry day).  
This also took only 5 minutes.
Next I picked everything up off the floor and put it on the bed.  It's much easier to just stay bent over and have everything where it's easy to see.  
It was mostly kids toys and some books at this point so I put everything away or in a box.  I was surprised this only took about 10 minutes.
Ahhhh, I can breathe.
Oh wait.  I still have to do the cedar chest.  Ugh!
I have mixed feelings about this piece of furniture.  It was a wedding present my grandfather made and it's lovely.  But  it's too big for any place I've ever lived in.  And it's a clutter magnet.  If I could find a way to magically keep clutter off, but still be able to access my fabric inside then I'd like having it more.  Maybe it should hold food storage...
So I just dug in.  If it had a place in my room I put it away.  If it belonged somewhere else I put it on the bed.  It was hard to stay motivated at this point and I had to open a window and put on peppy music.
This was discouraging. 
So I put away the big things like laundry and the blanket and made piles for each room.  I moved full boxes to the cedar chest and empty ones onto my bed.  I went through 3 boxes of random items in 40 minutes.  It was tedious.  But encouraging!
When I was done I had boxes of the following: living room, bathroom/hallways, one for each child's room, and one for papers that needed to be filed.  I put them all on the cedar chest, just in case.  This was good because we had a Bandaid emergency I needed to attend to, plus a lengthy break for snuggles and kisses.  After that I felt recharged and ready to put away the stuff!
The stuff on the bed was to go to the shed or car. 
I debated doing the easy boxes or the hard one first.  Ultimately I went with the hard living room one since I'm doing the kids' rooms and bathroom next.  It took about 20 minutes.
Very full, large box of random living room items.
But it was easy to put everything away because I had cleaned it yesterday.  I mostly put things near the bookcase they belonged in and then went around the room putting those things away.
Now my living room still looks great (pretend there's no nasty carpet), and my bedroom looks like this.
The kids rooms were easy: "here _____.  Put this stuff where it goes."  See?  Easy.  2 minutes.

Two things I did not do: I did not file the box of papers or organize my bedroom bookcase.  Filing the amount of papers I let build up (it's been 2 months) is a very big project that I am going to do when I have a few hours to myself.
I also chose to leave the bookcase alone because I knew I couldn't do it in less than an hour and I had already spent an hour and a half.  I try to keep it close to 2 hours (or less!) so I don't get burnt out.  This bookcase has never been organized.  It served as a pantry until we got an actual (freestanding) pantry, and we wanted something to hold more of our ever increasing supply of books and games.  So trying to organize it today would have only served to sabotage my house reset.  It's functional.  That's all we're doing.  We're not selling our homes, we're just making them functional again after stress.
I am so excited to hear about everyone who is doing this!  It's really nice to know I'm not the only one whose home falls apart a bit when life happens.  Thank you for being human.
I thought it might be fun to do a linky party on Friday.  I've never done one before so I'll have to google how to do it.  But if you're interested and have been doing a house reset, you can link up and show us your before and after pictures.  Seeing progress in pictures is motivating!

Tomorrow: the bathroom.  I don't have a picture because you saw it yesterday and it looks the same.  The sink is dirty, the toilet needs a scrub, and the shower-actually, the shower isn't too bad.  Since there's no clutter from other rooms, I'm going to estimate 30 minutes.  We'll see!

Learn to Index, Win Money!!

Wohoo, a giveaway!! Two $50 Visa gifts cards and one $100 Visa gift card!
Not from me, but from something I believe in.  
1940 census
As a history nerd, I love this project!  In just 2 weeks, April 2, the 1940 census records will be released for the first time.  Now if you've ever done any genealogy work, then you know what a blessing census records can be.  For the first time, the census will be available as a digital image.  What needs to happen is indexing.  It's easy and doesn't take much time (although more is certainly better), and your kids can even do it! What's indexing?
Indexing is when you look at the image and enter what you see into a data field.   For example, from their website:
"If you see the name Robert in the image, you type it in the designated cell in the grid. The names, dates, places, and other information you enter will become part of the online search, opening up that record’s information in ways that weren’t possible before."
I'm waiting for this to happen with all the Norwegian parishes.  I REALLY want to find some ancestors and since I don't read Norwegian I have to wait for the records to be indexed.  Let's be cooler Americans and get together and get all this entered!!
You and I can help by teaming up with the 1940 U.S Census Community Project sponsored by, and other genealogy groups.  To give us a little encouragement, two qualified entrants will be chosen at random to receive a $50 Visa gift card and one qualified entrant will be chosen at random to receive a $100 Visa gift card! 
All you have to do is download the Indexing Software and complete a practice batch by March 30.  Click on that link for all the info.
You can learn more about the project, or become an ambassador yourself, by visiting the 1940 Census website.  

As part of ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reset: Living Room

Today for my house reset I did the living room.  This is the room that anyone who comes to my house sees.  It would be done the first day if I didn't know that a clean kitchen makes everything else function better.  Plus, not that many people come to my house.
All right, so same thing with this room, I started with the smallest, easiest area.  It's like a debt snowball: start with something you can do quickly.
First was the piano: I cleared off things that didn't belong, wiped and polished it, and put a new scripture to memorize up on the white board.  15 minutes.
Before.  Not too bad.

After.  Ah!
 Next I did the tv area.  Why do I have this area? (sigh)
Oh well, it's there so I'll clean it.  I cleared off the top (put everything where it goes, not just move it) and wiped it down and labeled all the unlabeled green boxes.  I also took down the unused picture frame since I STILL have not gotten the picture printed.  I also mailed off something sitting on the top I was supposed to mail last week.  30 minutes for tv area.
 By the way, I don't have a leak in my roof.  It's the camera.  Or a ghost.  OooooWooooooh!
And since I'm being truthful, that big box of baby clothes was moved to the girls' room.  I have no idea where to put it until I give it to my friend.
Bookcases.  I have 3.  Well, 4, but one is in my room.
Didn't I JUST purge books last year?  Oh wait, then I decided to homeschool.  All right, I suppose 4 is fine.
It's not that it's an awful mess here, it's just that things haven't been put away and they're starting to stack on top of each other.  Each one took 30 minutes.  It seems like a lot, but I moved some shelves and really put things away.  Tedious things like pens and crayons.  And then I labeled things.  Labels help my husband to know where to put things.  I like labels.

The one on the right is my homeschool bookcase.  Left is office  and cub scouts.

This next book case was pretty easy.  It has reference and religious books.  Mostly it just needed to be spruced up.  Apart from 1 thing.  We had SIX BIBLES.  This is in addition to the ones we take to church.
 So I cleared off the top (including 3 of the bibles) and put those things where they go, then I dusted and straightened the shelves and moved some books around after taking out 3 more bibles.  Only 15 minutes.
 Also, can you see what my light is on in the corner there?  A useful spot for a bucket of wheat.
Now the rest of the room, I took the bag and a box of tools to the shed/carport, made the kids take their books back to their rooms, picked up (and mostly tossed) the papers, and vacuumed.  Thoroughly.  So this was 30 minutes.

 Total for the living room was 2 1/2 hours.  It felt longer today, but when I stopped the vacuum the kids and I looked at each other and smiled.  It felt so good to be in that room.  It just plain felt good!
Later I walked into the bathroom/laundry, which is tomorrow's room.  Honestly, the worst part is above the dryer.  I was feeling peppy so I gave myself 15 minutes to just see what I could put away.
Almost ALL of it.  I was happily surprised!  And very proud that I stopped there.  I'm already looking forward to cleaning tomorrow because I didn't overdo it today.
Tomorrow: clean the bathroom (should be under 1 hour) and start the worst room in the house.  MINE (gulp)