Cleaning, Hoarding, and Regular Folks

You may or may not recall that I tried a new cleaning schedule a while back.  It was in February of this year, to be precise.  I would love to report that our house is spotless and miraculous and a perfect representation of Type A cleanliness after seven months of a strict cleaning regimen, but it isn’t.

We try so hard to work enough and rest enough and enjoy each other’s company, and somehow cleaning never seems like the best way to enjoy time together after work.  Sigh.

I will try new things–tweaking my daily routine to include a few more minutes of cleaning here and there.  But for the moment, I intend to take the easy way out.  For the moment, I’m going to think about the show Hoarders.

About once a month, I watch five minutes of Hoarders just to make myself feel better.  Do we have stuff scattered all over the house that we should have thrown out or given away ages ago?  Sure.  Do I remember the last time I vacuumed an entire room?  Not really.  Does it look like this?

photo from

photo from

Not yet!  Yay!!!  Time to watch a new episode of The Mindy Project and cook up some tasty food in the moderately clean kitchen.

Grown-up Life Habits

I’ve lived on my own for a while now–going on eight years.  Don’t get confused by that statement.  I’m happily married and have had roommates off and on for years before the whole marriage thing happened.  But for the purpose of this post, I’m going to define “on my own” as a time in which no one I live with is going to willingly clean the bathroom.  The point is that I should have some clue what I’m doing by now, especially in the bathroom cleaning department.

The other point is that it’s easy to shirk your adult responsibilities.  Really easy.  For the better part of a decade, I’ve been carefully avoiding cleaning.  Not in a gross way.  I like having tidy countertops and putting away clutter when possible.  But when it comes to cleaning supplies and mops and such, I stay away whenever humanly possible.  There are always at least 2-3 dog hair tumbleweeds in our house.  Even when I vacuum, there’s a tumbleweed hiding in a corner that multiplies instantly.  I’ve seen it happen.  


photo by Mary Lou Saxon Photography

In the name of nearly turning 30, I’m making a mid-February resolution.  I’ve already gotten better at keeping the dishes in their proper place (a.k.a. not in a stack of filth by the sink).  Clean laundry is a more consistent thing in my life.  Steps have been taken, and I haven’t run out of clean underwear since 2008.  Now it’s time to tackle the real cleaning.

And since I’ve learned one or two things in the last eight years, I’m enlisting the wisdom of other people to get me to a cleaner house.  Here’s the plan, compliments of Apartment Therapy:   


1. Surface clean living room and kitchen (pick up stray items, dust, sweep, vacuum)

2. Clean bathrooms (toilets, showers, floors, walls, mirrors)

3. Surface clean bedrooms (put away toys, clothes, dust)

4. Surface clean “extra” rooms (basement, office, play room)

5. Surface clean living room and kitchen

6. Clean bathrooms

7. Clean all interior windows (white vinegar and newspaper works great and is cheap!)

8. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house (don’t forget stairs)

9. Surface clean bedrooms

10. Deep clean living room (mirrors, baseboards, dust artwork)

11. Clean bathrooms

12. Clean out closets (hang up clothes, mittens, jackets, hats)

13. Surface clean “extra” rooms

14. Deep clean bedrooms (organize drawers, check under bed, tidy closet, dust artwork, fans, lights, mop)

15. Surface clean living room and kitchen

16. Deep clean bathrooms (clean inside drawers, inside of trash cans, tops of mirrors, tile, mop)

17. Clean all door knobs, phones, entertainment equipment (remote controls), switch plates, banisters and other things that are repeatedly touched.

18. Clean out the refrigerator, take stock of food, organize pantry

19. Clean entryway, sweep porch (if you have one), clean out car (because they’re often our home away from home)

20. Surface clean living room and kitchen

21. Surface clean bathrooms

22. Surface clean bedrooms

23. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house

24. Clean linen closet, straighten towels, sheets or regular closet if not applicable

25. Surface clean living room and kitchen

26. Deep clean kitchen (scrub appliances, wash trash cans, base boards, wipe down and straighten cabinets)

27. Surface clean bathrooms

28. Surfaces clean bedrooms

29. Clean one item you’ve been meaning to get to and haven’t (deep clean your stove, wipe down all light fixtures, tackle a particularly unruly area)

30. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house

They have some other useful tips about keeping your house in order on that post, so I would encourage you to give it a quick read.  It can’t hurt to see how somebody else stays on top of life.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be one step closer to functional adulthood by the time I get to 30.  Fingers crossed.


Closet Clean-out/Clean-up

I like to look at the small closets in my house as a good thing.  At the very least, they force me to keep the extra stuff to a minimum.  Right?*

The problem is that even though I love to get rid of things, I still have more stuff than closet space.  If things are perfectly organized and arranged, there is exactly the right amount of space, but how often does that happen?  About twice a year.  Do you think anybody would mind if I wear yellow sandals every day?  They’re really easy to spot in the heap of shoes on the closet floor.  Anyway, I need to get rid of more stuff.

In order to do that, I have to make deep cuts.  Do you know what I mean?  I’ve already culled through my stuff a couple of times since I added any significant number of items to the stash (read: there’s been more getting rid of things than buying going on).  So what’s left to give away?  The stuff you can never quite bring yourself to get rid of–the shirt that you love, but that doesn’t fit or the pants that don’t go with anything.  The favorite shoes with the ever-increasing hole in the sole.  The shirts that have multiple holes in them from way too much wear.

Who wants to get rid of a favorite t-shirt?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I know I still need to do it though.  And while I’m at it, I think I’ll try to gather the clothes that are missing buttons and do something about that.

photo by Zimmergimmer

I have this habit of wearing things in a way that accommodates their missing buttons.  The sweater that I’m wearing now, for example, has two missing buttons.  They’re both at the bottom of the sweater, so I just don’t button it up all the way anymore, and I pretend it’s a conscious fashion choice.  Some shirts are missing buttons near the top, in which case a good undershirt does the trick.  I have a few skirts that lost buttons at the waist, so they require belts.  Yeah, it’s getting kind of ridiculous how many items of clothing I deal with in that way.  Time for some button-sewing-on, folks.

Why the interest in cleaning out closets today?  A) Free time, and B) New roommate for the summer starting on Sunday night.  (Excited about that.)  I like to at least start out any roommate situation with my junk in order and out of the way.  It doesn’t always stay that way, but it’s a helpful beginning.

*Just to clarify, I have three closets in my house, and I choose to only use one of them for my clothes.  I used to spread out among all of the closets, but that seems unnecessary, and I couldn’t ever find anything.  It’s nice to have open closets that aren’t full of junk you never use.

Reading When There’s No Time

I started this great book a few months ago.  It’s called The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster: 100 ways to make life more efficient.  Really, what’s not to like about that?!

Lots of people who are experts in their field have written a few pages about how to do something quickly and well.  It’s kind of my dream come true.  I spent most of college and grad school figuring out how to write a high quality research paper in the least possible time.

My only complaint is that I recently ran out of reading time.  My free time that used to go towards cleaning my house and lazing around with a book vanished into thin air, and now Peanut languishes in piles of his own dog hair while I try to muddle my way through a minimal number of chores.

I don’t mind my loss of reading time.  I’ve read plenty in the last few years to get me through a dry spell or two.  Even so, I have a proposal for the experts of The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster.

Why not make things easy for your readers?  Why not start the book with the chapter on speed-reading?  Then the people who need the book most will actually be able to finish it before the library starts sending the cops after them.  Just a thought.  Instead of teaching me how to sell a house on page 5 and making me wait until page 135 for reading suggestions, you should make sure I actually make it to page 135.  I didn’t.  Now I’ll never know how to read a page in two to five seconds.  (Okay, so I did scan the chapter on speed-reading after I found out that it existed.)

This to Get to This

My entire plan for the day looks more or less like this:

So that tonight I can have a good time with the girls.

And tomorrow I can do this:

Photo from the U.S. National Archives

And on Sunday, I can dress up like this:

Photo by Nikki.Jane

And watch my friend exchange these with her fiancée (although his isn’t this frilly):

Photo by Winged Photography

And then on Monday, after all of the festivities are over, I will finally get to this:

Photo by KoolPix

House Guests

You already know that I love my house.  If you don’t, you could read one of about ten posts about that.  This one is ever-so-slightly different though.  Today, I love my house because it lets me have guests.

My old apartment had two beds in one bedroom.  It was kind of a high-class dorm situation because I moved from a two-bedroom apartment to a large one-bedroom to a tiny one-bedroom over the course of three years.  I could stay in the twin bed when parents or close friends visited, but it definitely wasn’t a set-up that encouraged me to invite new friends to stay with me while they were in town.

Now I’m fortunate enough to claim not one, but two extra bedrooms.  It does seem unnecessary most of the time.  I even occasionally switch bedrooms so it feels like I’m using the whole house.  It’s kind of like when I used to pile every one of my stuffed animals into bed with me so that none of them would feel left out.  (That was about 20 years ago, for the record.)

Then there are times when all three bedrooms are full.  That’s been the case for the past few days, and it’s been great.  There are people coming and going all day, and it makes the house feel like your favorite coffee shop that only your good friends know about.  This particular coffeehouse even lets my dog hang out all day without parental supervision, so that’s a plus.

Anyway, the point is that I’m glad friends can stay with me now, new and old.  And if I’m really confessing, I’ll also say that I didn’t vacuum or dust for this round of guests.  It’s a little gross, yet strangely liberating.

One List to Rule Them All

This is my every-third-week Friday off/Saturday at work combo, and I’m feeling prepared.  Some weeks, I just glide through the Friday like it’s an extended nap break before my workday on Saturday.  This won’t be one of those weeks.

I have a list that contains eleven things.  Count ’em.  These aren’t weak sauce list items, either.  I didn’t even separate things under the heading of “clean.”  That could be eleven items, right there.  Vacuuming, dusting, clean the stove, clean the fridge, mop the floor, sweep the porch, clean the bathrooms.  (Darn it, that was only seven things after all.  I wouldn’t ever clean the baseboards or polish the silver, but that would take us to nine things.  Two more?  Anyone?)

Anyway, you get the picture.  If I’m half as productive as planned, my house will be a sparkling example of domesticity when I leave for work on Saturday.  The bathroom will have a glistening coat of paint in this color: Tarrytown Green.   I will have money in the bank, food in the fridge, an organized pantry, a weeded and mowed front yard, and a car with freshly changed oil and so on and so forth.  I will also have a tan, a happy dog, and will skip to dinner at a friend’s house by 6:30 with nothing else on my list.  Right.  You believe that will happen, don’t you?  It’s a totally realistic list.  I specialize in realism.

And I wish equal measures of optimism on your Friday.  Enjoy!