Friday, August 12, 2011

i love clean

I have been a busy girl.

My last post was a bit of a sob story about how messy my life has become a midst the busyness of summer fun. And, in the past ten days, I've pulled it all together and then some. Things are looking up.

First things first. I use to be a perfectionist and I was happiest when my entire house was clean. Now, I am not so perfect and I am happier more often than not. I am okay with good enough rather than perfect. Therefore, I decided not to focus on the fact that my entire house was in shambles but rather to work on the places that we spend the most time. Which means, I basically skipped the second floor for now and will get to that later. The parts of the house where we do our living needed attention first.

The living room and dining room, our main living space, had become a disaster zone. It looked like a tornado had come through leaving remnants of summer fun in it's path of destruction.

The camping gear got reorganized and sorted out, washed, organized, then stored back in the basement where it belongs. The kids desk in the dining room that collects Everything was completely emptied, recycled, tossed, and cleaned. One can now actually sit at the desk and write something if one was so inclined. Everything that didn't belong was put away which left our living space feeling empty, dusty and filthy.

As I've said before, I am an all or nothing kind of girl.

I started by cleaning the windows inside and out. Then, dusted everything. I swept and mopped. It was beginning to look more like a place to actually do life rather than pass thru on the way to somewhere else. I sat down for a few minutes to admire my work and was feeling rather inspired. So, I rearranged the living room furniture. And, finished it off with a lovely pitcher of hydrangeas and mint picked from the yard. Ah, so much better than the chaotic mess we'd been living with for the past few days. I love when I move the furniture and it looks better than ever... like why had I never thought of this arrangement before?

On to the garden. I spent a morning pulling weeds and cleaning up the yard while the kids slept in. I didn't worry about the front yard, my focus was the garden. It looked pretty rough. Weeds were popping up through the straw mulched paths. Everything looked wild and out of control. But, as I started pulling weeds, I had an epiphany. The straw makes for easy work of pulling weeds. I'm sure the seasoned gardeners already know this and it's probably why they use it. But, me, I just hadn't really thought of it that way. So, it turned out to be an easier task than expected and within an hour, things were looking up. The pulled weeds were just added to the paths to become mulch as the sun dried them out. It worked like a charm. I crawled around on my hands and knees piling up straw and straightening the paths out. Not a pretty sight but it got the job done efficiently and quickly.

Tomato plants were trimmed, beds were watered well. Cucumbers were wound around their trellis (a clothes drying rack placed on it's side). Herbs were trimmed back and their trimmings were used as fragrant bouquets in my kitchen windowsill.

The next day was front porch day. It was hot outside and the kids had friends over. We made an agreement that they could all go swimming IF they helped me scrub the front porch. I love our front porch. People stop and look at our porch all day long. It's one of the best things about the house. But, it's big. And, it was filthy. Usually I use a pressure washer every few months to get it good and clean but the presser washer is MIA. So, we did it the old fashioned way... with a bucket, hose, and a couple of brushes. First we took everything off the porch. Then, proceeded to clean which, of course, ended in a giant water fight. I finished the real cleaning while the kids went down to the pool. I scrubbed every spindle and pillar. When it looked sparkly clean, I put everything back, added a fresh tablecloth and flowers. And, again breathed a big sigh. I love clean things.

The day after that was back porch day. While the back porch is significantly smaller than the front porch, it gathers three times as much stuff. It's basically our mud room. We come and go thru the kitchen door and out the back porch. Now it holds not only our coming and going "stuff" but also all the gardening clutter, the barbecue, the recycling, the extra camp chairs we take to concerts, etc. etc. It holds everything. So, I started by emptying it entirely and gave it the same treatment as the front porch got... a good scrubbing, hosing, washing, and a little more scrubbing. Then, I put back Only the essentials. I cleaned up the garden cart and put most of the big tools away in the garage leaving only the ones I use often. I am such a happy camper when my environment is clean.

Last but not least was the kitchen. It's tiny. Like walk in closet tiny. Someday, when I have a modern kitchen with real kitchen cabinets to hold our dishes, a garbage disposal, and a dishwasher that really works, I will be so very thankful. for now. I am content and efficient in my tiny kitchen as long as no one tries to open the fridge and the dishwasher at the same time. The upside of all this is that it's easy to clean. In two hours, I had cleaned out the fridge, wiped down the cabinet fronts and appliances, mopped, and organized. It smelled pine sol good (I know I should be using some other less toxic cleaner but I am kinda addicted to the smell of pine sol).

In a week, I tackled our living space bit by bit and by the weekend we were ready for house guests. I realize that all of the above could have been done in a day if that was all I did. But, that's now how the real world works or at least not my real world. Kids still need to eat. Sleepovers and playdates still happen.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is still served. The kids got ready and packed for camp. We had doctor appointments and grocery shopping. Laundry and laundry. While it may have been quicker to just take one day and do it all, for me, it helped to break things down into manageable, daily projects so I could still spend time with my kids and have a little fun.

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