Daily Cleaning Tips

cinderellaWhile going through some paper work the other day, I came across a notebook where I used to jot down daily “to dos.”  Taped to the front was a list of daily chores that one could do that takes less than 30 minutes per day.

I’m at a place as a homemaker where I do not need to refer to a list like that anymore.  It is very much ingrained in me how to keep my home tidy with little to no effort.  I am not talking about a deep clean!  I’m sure you will find enough dust bunnies under my couch to fill your Easter basket, but simple cleaning techniques that make you feel good to be in your house!

I did not know where I cut out the list from, but leave it to the good old internet to find it for me. Actually, I could not find the original article on Real Simple (one of my favorite resources, btw!), but ended up finding it here:

How To Clean Your Home in 19 Minutes

From there, you’ll be able to click on links that will take you do an expanded article on the actual Real Simple site for each room.  They will also provide you with tasks you should do monthly and then seasonally.

I cannot stress enough how much of a good habit this is to form if you are not already doing it.  I rarely have to “deep clean” because by wiping everything down often, messes don’t build up.  It’s also to your benefit if an emergency comes up or someone happens to drop by–your own is always at the ready.  I love leaving my home knowing it’s not in disarray and coming home and not having to do any housework if I’m not up to it!  Everything is wiped and put away.

Have any housekeeping questions you’d like to ask me?  Feel free!  It’s not a glamorous topic, but it’s something I know I want to write about on the blog; how to keep a home without going crazy.  I’ve only been at this a little over a decade now, so I’m no expert (That’s my mom!) but I have definitely found things that worked–and did not work–along the way.

If you’re like me and to need to keep these types of task lists in front of you, I’ve created a Word document that you can print out and hang up somewhere .  Again though, there will come a point where it’s second nature and you’ll laugh that you ever even needed to refer to a list.

How To Clean Your Home in 19 Minutes
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Happy Cleaning!

{Funny e-card above via}

The checkup.

I’ve written about a visit to an OB/GYN’s office before on a blog that, sadly, was mistakingly deleted.  I’ll go ahead an assume you’re okay with that.

But here we are again.  And, if you one of my male friends, feel free to look away now.

Yesterday I went for my “annual” checkup along with a mirage of other blood work just to see where I am with my health.

I put annual in quotations because it had been four years since I went to an OB/GYN.

Why?  Because I was embarrassed about my weight.

My former OB/GYN (and only former because we moved) was kind but always made remarks (not nasty, just observational) about my weight.  Not that he didn’t have a right to!  It just made me uncomfortable and sad.

Since I left the teaching profession and, thus, no longer needed an annual physical I have been able to avoid stepping on a scale at a doctor’s office.  Because, of course, it’s so much easier to pretend our problems do not exist.

I’m in a place now of taking control of my health (and not giving way to excuses) and so the appointment was set.

It’s funny what God will choose to use as teachable moments.  As I’m getting ready for the appointment yesterday morning, it dawned on me how the sin in my life relates to my weight.

It’s easy to try to ignore and pretend that everything is fine.  The fact remains though, the problem is still there.  And it’s hurting me.  In fact, it could kill me.

Much like avoiding doctors who I knew would tell me a truth (One I already know, mind you!), I avoid telling my brothers and sisters in Chris of sin issues in my life. I avoid confessing it to God–a truth HE knows.

I do not have to step on a scale to know there is a problem.  And I act like that toward sin–if I don’t say it out loud; if I don’t think about it…it does not mean God doesn’t know.  Because, duh, he does.

It does not even have to be about sin.  Perhaps it’s an emotional struggle or sadness or a difficult choice that needs to be made.  The choice not to talk about it in order to not have to face being told what to do or have a wrong way of thinking pointed out is no different that the avoidance of stepping on a scale because I’m afraid of what I will see.

But I no longer want to be afraid.  I want to step fully into the promises that I have been told.

And so I stepped on a scale yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at how far I have come since my heaviest weight.  It felt good to see that lifestyle changes in regards to food and exercise have been, albeit slowly, paying off.

…for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. ~1 Timothy 4:8 ESV

While it is a great thing to remember my body is a temple that houses the Holy Spirit and therefore knowing what I put into it is important, it will never be more important than my spiritual growth. Physical exercise, the number that appears on a scale, and the inches I lose will never outweigh the importance of spiritual discipline and striving for a pure heart.  I can exercise my brains out, but if I’m not putting even more time into reading my Word and building on my relationship with Christ it will all be for naught.  After all, what will matter more when I stand before Him?

Yes, physical checkups are of great importance, but the spiritual checkups of my heart hold far greater–eternal–value.

I can look at the past decade and see the “weight I’ve lost” spiritually.  It is not a pride I take in myself, because I know I did not do it.  It is all of grace; I am such a different person than I was.

But I see the areas that still need work and a heart that has so much further to go.

I will no longer be afraid of physical checkups because the scale does not define me.

I will no longer be afraid to share my spiritual shortcomings because those failures do not define me either.

He does.

1tim48
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The Great Escape.

I know how I am in my home.

I am the girl who does either one of two things: clean and organize and be uber productive or lay on the couch watching bad reality T.V. or scrolling through my social media feeds.

So if I have to do something that’s not cleaning, organizing, or scrolling through the answers of the latest Buzzfeed quiz friends have taken, it’s hard for me to concentrate.  Which sounds like an excuse, and it is.  I should be able to focus and have some amount of discipline. But when you’re a bona fide neat freak, it starts with noticing a crumb on the floor.  And then you go to the kitchen to get the sweeper vac when you notice a few dishes in the sink.  And then you think, Why DON’T I put that load of laundry that’s sitting in the washing machine to run? And before you know it, you’ve taken every single dish out of your cabinets to rearrange them with all the cups you took out.

Not that I would have experience with that, or anything.

And so, knowing my limits–or rather, limitations–I packed up my bags and headed to my neighborhood Starbucks to spend a few hours working on some research I needed to gather.  I’ll admit, mainly I headed there because every time I walk into one, I want to be one of the cool people with their laptops open furiously writing in their notebooks as they study or talk business.  As a college commuter, I did not get that experience.  I went to school and drove back home.  Home, literally, was always where my heart was.  It was worth the few bucks I spent on bottled water, just to say I was a customer, to grab that cozy corner table and their free Wi-Fi.  I’m not saying I didn’t check Facebook or email; but without the temptation to clean or put something away, I gave a good few hours toward this project I need to get done.  Ah, it felt good.

I don’t want my title to be mis-leading.  I read in a book recently–or maybe it was a blog post or comment–a response to this notion of needing “me” time.  The person stated it was a lie and it was selfish.  I never thought of it that way, and it made me pause.  I can see where this person is coming from.  Society pats us wives and mothers on the back (and men too!) and tells them they deserve to escape their homes, their families, essentially their lives in the name of mental health.  We’re quickly urged to book that massage or plan that girls night out.  While I don’t think those things are inherently wrong in and of themselves, I can see how a sense of entitlement can creep in when we becomes dissatisfied with our everyday lives and feel we have somehow earned, or deserve, the chance to escape.  So I’m on the fence because while I agree we do need alone time, I do not want to cause anyone to stumble who may not actually be able to do that.  I’ve been there!

My great escape is simply knowing that there are things I have to do and knowing the best place to do them.  In my case, I do have the “luxury” of a couple of days off a week and so the things I need to do on those “off” days may not all need to be done in the home.  If I  had a baby or young child, I’d probably be tied to my home as most of my young mom friends are.

So this post won’t necessarily be for my young mama friends (sorry!), but just an encouragement to those in other stages of life that sometimes it’s worth it to treat yourself to a cup of coffee (even if it costs a ridiculous five bucks) to set your mind on things besides the plates in the sink and the whites in the dryer that needed to be folded, like, yesterday.

Some of my best research, reading, devotional, and “quiet” times have come from the outside.  And, again, that doesn’t mean I do not need to learn how to be disciplined in my home.  For the most part, I am.  But it’s those special “treat” days that I get to look forward to that help along the way.

So maybe I still don’t know if I agree with “me” time or not.  But I will vouch for knowing the environment you work best in and working it out with those in your life to get there.

ordinary{via}

The Waiting Game

I am currently reading an amazing book, Glimpses of Grace, in my church’s ladies Bible study.  One of the overall premises of the book is to “encourage [woman] to see the reality of God’s grace in all of life, especially those areas that often appear to be boring and unimportant.” (Quote is from the description of the book on sites where you may purchase it from.)

We spend some time each week looking at our lives and sharing how things that could, and usually do, bother us are opportunities for us to see grace.  Grace in what God has given us.  To extend grace toward others.  Thankfulness for all we have been given.

And so it was on Tuesday–right before the book study, mind you–that I found myself waiting in a doctor’s office.  Just a few weeks before, I had told someone how [insert my full name] waits for no doctor, but I may have over-exaggerrated.  I showed up early (because sometimes you’re blessed enough to be seen before your time).  I knew I would be late as it was, but I was so surprised to get an appointment so quickly having only called the day before that I grabbed it.

But 3:30 came and went.  Then 3:40.  By 3:50, I did go to the receptionist to see where I was in this dreadful process, and I was next.

By 4, I was apologizing to my sweet, patient boy who was waiting alongside me.  He enjoys HIS Bible class as much as I enjoy mine and hates to be late.

4:05.  I made a pact.  If they did not call me  by 4:10 we’d leave, as it was better to go for an hour to our classes rather than miss it completely.  I made it to 4:08.  I knew they would take me to the examination room and I’d probably wait another 1/2 hour for the doctor.  (I’ve worked for them.  I know.)  I knew I could not handle it.  Calmly, I walked back up to the reception.  Smiled.  Stated I needed to be somewhere and could I please get my co-pay back as I would not be staying any longer for the appointment.

Away we went.  And made it to our classes by 4:30 as had been my plan all along.

So why am I sharing this story and what does it have to do with a book that I’m reading?

It’s in moments like those that God’s grace in my life is evident to me.  How far I have come; how differently I react than the person I used to be.

Old me would have been angry and terse and making SOMEONE feel bad, because how dare do you allow me to wait?  My time is super valuable after all, right?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

It’s in moments like that I can finally practice recall.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  ~James 1:19-20, ESV

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,   ~1 Thessalonians 5:14, ESV

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control;against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23, ESV

The words bound on my heart finally see the light of day in my ability to practice what I so often preach to the little human sitting beside me.  Because it’s so often easier said and memorized and learned than done.

I’m practicing patience; remembering that not everything has to or will happen the way that I want them to.  There is no one sitting in that office out to get me.  I can think it’s wrong what the general human population goes through in doctor office waiting rooms, but it doesn’t give me good reason to react in a way that doesn’t glorify God.

He was so patient with me.  So patient.

And on the beautiful flip side.  I see the additional moments of grace created by sitting in a waiting room:

*I have no choice but to rest. I’m wearing a monitor that counts my steps and I can see by the number that appears on my little screen just how much and how hard I worked that day.  Had I gone straight home from work and picking up little man from school, I would have only continued to work; to find something to do.  My mind and my hands don’t know rest when it isn’t forced upon me.  I got to sit.  I got to breathe.  There was no task, no errand, for me to do.

*I got to finish the chapters I needed to read for the class I was heading too.  The week flies by and the desire to read ahead of the day of class just doesn’t happen.  The margin I create on my days “off” fell by the wayside and there I was about to enter the class without being prepared.  I read in peace.  And it was good for my soul.

*I watched the first few minutes of Dr. Oz.  I love that show.  And my little man loves to watch it with me.  We chatted.  I spent time with my littlest guy.  And that is always good for my soul.

Above all, I hope I demonstrated to him how to properly react when things don’t happen the way you expect and people, like doctor’s, fail you.

1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss oftemper, irritation, or the like.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: towork with patience.

The ability to exude or feel patience in my now now now mentality is a slow process; one that I must practice; one that must become habit.  A habit that I fail at often in my hurried-can’t-be-bothered-life.

But a quality that I see glimpses of grace of every so often.

It will never be fun for others to dictate your time.  To let it go when someone cuts you off. To see the person in front of you in the supermarket line using 1,001 coupons when that’s the only lane open.

But I clothe myself in what honors Him.

God is patient with me daily.  And I am so glad He is.
patience
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Some helpful tips.

This post will consist of things that, yes, I have Googled.  Or Bing’ed.  Or Swagbuxed.  (Google totally got the monopoly on that verb.)  If I needed to look them up, I’m sure someone reading this might say, “Oh, that’s good to know!”

How to Dispose Cooking Oil
Place used oil in a sealable (non-recyclable) container and discard with regular garbage.  (In other words, DON’T put it down your drain or flush it down your toilet like your mother does!)

Be sure to wipe excess oil off of pots, pans, etc. with a paper towel before washing.

How to Dispose Medication
I know NYC has special collection days if you want to get rid of old medicine.  But if you must throw it in the trash, put it in a bag and throw it in the trash.  There are other methods (that I did not write down), just do not put medications down the drains!

How to Clean a Washing Machine
1) Fill your washer full with hot water to the largest load setting.  When it begins to agitate, add four cups of distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda.  Let washer agitate until mixed well.  Turn machine off and let sit for 30-45 minutes.

2) Let the washer run through a whole wash cycle.  (If possible, turn the knob to spin cycle as the water drains.)

3) When the washer is empty, take a rag, a 1:1 part solution of hot water and vinegar and wipe down the inside.  Remove fabric softner dispenser if possible.

4) Allow machine to air dry before use.

***

I did not write down references in my notebook as I looked these questions up, but I can say I’ll look at a bunch of sites and pick which is the most thorough and gives (what seems to be) accurate information.

So let me know if you handle any of these questions differently!