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  • The Key to a Clean House: Less Stuff

    Key to a Clean House: Less Clutter - chieffamilyofficer.com

    Our kitchen light had been acting up for years, but the other day it finally stopped turning on when the switch was flipped {it did eventually turn on, but it was rather unpredictable!}. So we decided we couldn’t postpone the work any longer, and had an electrician out to replace the light as well as the old, rattly ceiling light/fan combo in the back half of the kitchen.

    Since I knew they’d be working in the kitchen, I removed everything that I could – my back up laptop, small appliances, a couple of small butternut squashes … everything that didn’t need to stay found a new {sometimes temporary} home.

    When the work was done, I walked into the kitchen – and delighted in the bright light, but marveled even more at how great the cleared countertops looked.

    Although the workers were neat, there was still some cleaning that needed to be done. And normally I hate cleaning and put it off for as long as possible, but I discovered something that might just revolutionize my home: It was incredibly easy to clean the kitchen because I didn’t have to move anything. It took just seconds to wipe down the counters. I used wet and dry Swiffer cloths to give the floor a quick scrub. And I even washed my dish rack and its mat – all in about 15 minutes!

    Then it hit me: If I cleared out the clutter from the rest of the house, the rest of the house would be easy to clean too!

    And then maybe I wouldn’t put if off for as long as I do.

    So now I’m on a quest: to declutter my house from top to bottom, wall to wall. I’m going through my own stuff, but also anything and everything that’s in a common area, as well as the kids’ room. I know it’s going to take a while – I’m giving myself the year to go through everything, so that hopefully by the end of 2014, my house is optimal easy-to-clean shape.

    Do you have a secret for keeping a clean house?

    This post will be linked to Thrifty Thursday at Living Well, Spending Less.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by David Castillo Dominici.

    The Secret to Keeping Laundry Under Control

    Secret to Keeping Laundry Under ControlAfter nearly three years as a full-time work-at-home mom and numerous attempts at developing a cleaning routine, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t mastered keeping my house clean all the time.

    However, the one housecleaning task I have mastered is laundry.

    Here’s my big secret: Do at least one load of laundry each day.

    It really is possible, even if you work full-time outside the home. If you have a newer washer with a timer, you can use the timer setting to start a load in the morning so that you can switch it over to the dryer when you wake up. Before you leave the house, remove the dry clothes and spread the items you especially don’t want wrinkled over the top of the pile. Alternatively, before you leave for work, load the washer and start it as soon as you get home.

    I actually do about ten loads of laundry each week, between clothes, towels, sheets, and baseball pants (which require their own load with extra OxiClean and special whites setting). On the very rare occasion when I’m completely caught up on all of the above, I’ll wash a blanket that doesn’t need to be washed every week.

    Every once in a while, I won’t be able to do any laundry at all. But because I’m caught up, skipping one day doesn’t escalate a bad situation, and it’s not hard to get caught up the next day.

    As an added bonus, I’ll share my secret for getting white baseball pants white: Spray the worst stains with OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray. Then fill a bucket with Oxiclean powder and water (preferably warm, but I use cold since I don’t have hot water in my garage where the washer is). Soak the pants in the bucket at least overnight. Wash in hot water with more Oxiclean powder, plus a soak setting if available. Then cross your fingers when you pull the pants out!

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Natara.

    My new dryer and new clothesline: Spending & saving at the same time

    You might have paused for a minute there and thought to yourself, why would she get a new dryer and new clothesline at the same time? After all, they’re both used for drying clothes and you wouldn’t use both at the same time.

    Well, there’s a simple explanation. The dryer died last weekend, and although we went early on Monday morning to buy a new one, the earliest it could be delivered was Thursday.

    Now, I should explain at this point that I do laundry at least six days per week, sometimes seven. So the idea of letting all the laundry pile up for almost a week was horrifying. I would have a literal mountain of clothes and towels.

    I’d been wanting a clothesline for a while, for energy efficiency reasons. It’s always seemed like a waste to toss the occasional small load into the dryer. But there really isn’t any place in our house for an extended clothesline, nor any space to set up a drying rack. So it wasn’t until the old dryer died that I decided I had to have a clothesline.

    My darling husband set up the clothesline to runĀ  wall to wall in the garage. I felt so domestic hanging clothes up on it, and it reminded me of hanging clothes up to dry with my mom when I was little. Because it’s a relatively short line, and the drying time was so long, I could only wash a half load of laundry each day (maybe two if the load consisted of quick-drying items like dish towels). Still, it kept the laundry from piling up to an overwhelming level while we were dryer-less, and I look forward to using it on small loads in the future.

    So we did spend quite a bit this last week, between the dryer, delivery/installation/haul away, and the clothesline and clothespins. And I’m very happy and grateful that we have more than enough to pay off the credit card bill in full when it arrives. All that hard work to establish a solid emergency fund and give ourselves peace of mind has paid off again.

    I also expect to recoup some savings over time. The new dryer should be a lot more energy efficient than the old one – which was a Maytag that I suspect was approximately 40 years old. The delivery man commented that old Maytags were built to last a long time, whereas new appliances only last eight to twelve years (our old washer was also a Maytag and approximately 40 years old when it died a few years ago). And of course, we’ll also save when I can use the clothesline instead of the dryer.

    Does anyone else use both a dryer and a clothesline?

    The Importance of Backing Up Your Data

    Thankfully this post has nothing to do with anything going wrong with this site (knock on wood), and everything to do with iTunes. As you might expect, with all of the Amazon music deals I’ve been posting, I’ve added a fair number of songs to my iTunes library lately. So you can imagine how upsetting it was when I installed an iTunes update last week, and as has happened before, it deleted my most recent library.

    After While freaking out, I finished the Ralphs match ups, and after a {long} while, discovered that I can change the library by pressing the shift button while opening iTunes – it prompts iTunes to ask me to choose a library.

    Now here’s the catch: You need to have a recent version of the library backed up somewhere to open.

    The great, wonderful thing: I’ve recently gotten in the habit of backing up my files once a week onto an external hard drive. So I had a recent version of my iTunes library readily available. I was able to transfer that file to my hard drive, and then open it as my current iTunes library.

    It was such a huge relief to not have to manually add songs and try to recreate playlists from memory – which would be all the worse because iTunes does not allow you to sync an iPhone without deleting stuff that’s not on the computer.

    So … if you don’t regularly back up your files, I highly recommend that you start doing so. You might even do as I do, and set up a weekly email reminder that it’s time to back up your files. I actually send myself two such weekly emails – one to back up this site, and one to back up my hard drive. In addition to being able to restore data, it would be far easier to grab the external hard drive if we had to evacuate our house in an emergency – it has copies of our digital photos, music, and various documents so pretty much everything I would want anyway!

    Now go back up your files … I’ll still be here when you’re done :)


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    Prepare for the weekend with a Weekly Home Blessing Hour

    The most valuable thing I’ve learned from FlyLady is that I don’t have to clean my house perfectly to make a difference. One of the ways FlyLady teaches this lesson is through the Weekly Home Blessing Hour, which is “the time FlyLady spends slipshod cleaning her home” by vacuuming, dusting, mopping, polishing mirrors and doors, purging magazines, changing the sheets, and emptying the trash.

    My favorite part of this is the vacuuming because, as she puts it, you only vacuum the middles – i.e., the middle of the floors. “Just the middles” has been my mantra more than once when I haven’t felt like vacuuming.

    FlyLady does her Weekly Home Blessing Hour on Mondays; I’ve been trying to get in the habit of doing mine on Fridays, so that my house is ready for the weekend, which is when we spend the most time together in it as a family. My habit is very much a work in progress, but I try to at least vacuum and clear the floors and tables. I find that this makes the house as a whole look and feel clean, especially when you first walk in. And that’s always a good feeling.


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