Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shiny Is Festive

One night after dinner, I was in the mood to shine up our appliances. Dinner had been pancakes and my husband cleaned up the pans and bowl, so I guess I felt I needed to be doing something while he tackled that task. I grabbed a microfiber cloth and the cleaner recommended by our landlord and started with the refrigerator.

Within mere minutes the finger prints, streaks, water marks and foot splatters were gone! Next up was the microwave that really needed some cleaning on the inside. That meant taking soap and water and cleaning the platters on the bottom, as well as the sides and top.

And it was sparkly clean very quickly too!

Now the next appliance took longer. The stove top was in need of some deep cleaning to get rid of some of those burnt on foot deposits. I was on a roll, so I tackled this one too. 

It was worth the effort of using the razor blade provided in the stove top cleaning kit provided by the landlord. It does take a few times of going over it in some areas, and it still isn't perfect.

I think we can agree that my efforts here made it better! 

In my final minutes of cleaning, I wiped the dishwasher down with the stainless steel cleaner to get it just as shiny as all the other appliances. (And I just realized I didn't wipe down the ovens! Oops, next time I guess.)

It's funny how spending a little time shining up my appliances on this particular night actually made me feel a little festive! Must be the shiny effect! Do you feel festive by cleaning? 

Friday, December 16, 2016

It's the Holiday, But...

the cleaning still needs to be done! Boo. Most of us don't particularly like to clean. I decided to take advantage of my semi empty refrigerator and freezer and get it cleaned. I find it so much easier to get it done fast, less than 30 minutes, if I have less items to move. On this particular day, I knew I wouldn't find anything old or expired as I keep on top of that for the most part.

I moved items on top to the shelf below and vice versa as I went to cleaning each surface and drying it off. I did take out the two middle drawers and washed them in the sink. After the fridge was done I wiped off the drawers in the freezer. I found this pretty quick as I'm just a day or two from shopping, so my freezer wasn't too full. I completed the entire thing in 25 minutes! 

I recently made a change to where we store our apples, since our drawers are often filled with vegetables. I did try a bowl on the shelf, but there were too many to fit just one bowl. That is when I spotted this open space, a bin like shelf, on the bottom of our side door. Just perfect for the apples! 

I wrote a post about two months ago about how I clean my refrigerator every quarter. Yet, clearly this time I did it earlier and it did need it. So maybe it is a bi monthly task. I think really there are no hard and fast rules. Either works! 

Do you have cleaning tasks you will do before or after the holiday? Are you skipping any you might normally do? 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Mission: Gift Wrapping Complete

I had been waiting for my final online orders to arrive in the mail to do the last of my gift wrapping. I had five gifts to wrap. I was able to put three in gift bags, while the other two needed to be wrapped in paper. It was very effortless because I had all my supplies in one place (that was one of those November Christmas missions).

I made sure to put on the festive Christmas tunes to make it a cheerful event. Oh, and I treated myself to a couple cookies from the freezer! Yes, the ones I made last month. They thawed while I wrapped and were quite tasty!

As I went to put away my gift wrap, I did a quick tidy of my bin. I did see one gift bag and two semi crushed bows that I was ready to part with. I will open it up just one more time this year, to put away the gift bags, boxes and bows. I expect I will do this on Christmas day and have it done in less than a minute.

Oh, and I mentioned this on the Organized Friends Facebook page, but I have a method to keep little hands out of gift bags. Tape! Just seal the top with tape and pull of each year so the bag can be reused. So much easier to wrap in a bag than with paper. And this saves a lot of time!

All gifts wrapped and ready to open on Christmas day!

How are you doing on your Christmas preparations?

Friday, December 9, 2016

December Decluttering Progress

I've been decluttering a little nearly every day this month. My goal, since I have completed my Christmas shopping, is to make sure more items go out of our house this month than come in. I'm not counting consumables, or gifts that will be going right back out to the recipient.

I've made myself a simple tally sheet showing the day of the month on the left of the paper in a column. Then two more columns to the right. One for the number of items that come in. And another for the items that leave. I like seeing how much is going out compared to coming in.

I've completed decluttering our guest room, the dining room and the kitchen. I've started on the bathrooms and two hallway closets. I've also found some random items in other areas of the home as well.

Here's some pictures of things that need to go. And yes, some of it is trash or recycling, but it all counts!

Extra cups, nearly empty food items, old food coloring, mini cupcake pan, measuring cup
(never used), strainer, towels, knives, disposable baking pan and a plastic cutting board. 

Pillows, gift bags, hanger, workout shorts, specialty tape, hair curlers, an ornament,
two Christmas decorations, plastic shelf, CDs for recycling, plastic bags, and a body wash sample.

Gift wrap, packing for recycling, old conditioner, plastic bin, plastic box, expired items (lotion, eye drops, suntan
lotion, lip balm), ornament, head massager, wax melts, battery votives (saved the batteries!),  and miniature figurine.
Here is my tally as of December 8.
Items In: 21
Items Out: 75

I can say that I am on track so far. I have more items leaving my home than are coming in. And that feels especially good to me. I'm noticing it also helps me appreciate what I do have as well. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

December Decluttering Goal: More Out Than In

I can see the light at the end of the Christmas preparations! The list is getting very small now, which means I'm starting to think what I really want for December. I really want time to relax and step away from the  outside world (umm...Facebook primarily).

In addition to making time for celebration and relaxation, I'm also making a December decluttering goal. I want to have less stuff in our home at the end of December than we had at the beginning. I think I may actually track this on a sheet of paper to keep my motivation up and know that I have really done it. Feel free to join me! I'll cheer for you.

I do know that December is a very busy time for so many of us. Decluttering seems like the last thing that needs to be done. But have you noticed that clutter is more noticeable in December? All the extra piles that need to be moved just so you can decorate. Or maybe you are having guests and the guest rooms needs to be cleared of clutter before they arrive!

Anything. I mean anything, you can declutter now in December will be well worth the effort. I'm making sure to get my donation space set aside, since the last box I used became full and has been donated! I usually make a final year donation in the last days of the year, so I already have a plan on when these new discards will leave.

A few ideas for decluttering in December:

  • Christmas decorations! You likely have some you won't put out, that have broken or you no longer like. Don't forget the lights that have burnt out. Those can be recycled at major home improvement stores. 
  • Gift wrap! I have a few gift bags that are my last resort gift bags and they never get used, so I think those will be high on my list to donate. Or maybe even you have been keeping too many gift boxes. Those can go, too. 
  • Extra cards! Or maybe you have last years cards that you received. It's okay to let them go, the sentiment was received and enjoyed for those moments. You don't need to save them long term. 
  • Toys!! I should have put this one first on the list. So many toys come in for children this time of year. If the children are very young, you can do this on your own. If they are older, you need to discuss the idea of the new coming in and the need to let some items go to make space for them. It doesn't hurt to mention other children don't always get that many gifts and would love a new to them toy. I honestly did a better job of decluttering toys with my girls AFTER the holiday. I think this was because the new items were visible and clearly better in their minds than the old! Just a guess, but it worked. 
  • Clothes! Get rid of any clothing you think you are saving for the holiday pictures or events that you know you don't want to wear. Why guilt yourself into wearing something again if it doesn't please you to wear it. 
Do you have plans to declutter in December? What is your motivation? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Progress

I thought you all might want an update on some of my Christmas preparations as the month comes to an end. I have been able to get a lot accomplished because I have been doing a little bit everyday. Some sessions are as short as twenty minutes. Others take an hour at the most.

I have purchased 80% of the gifts I need to buy. A majority of these items have been purchased online. I did buy a few things at brick and mortar retailers.

I have only wrapped two gifts. However, I do have a stash of gifts that are ready to be wrapped and I have more arriving in the mail this week. I plan to wrap on Friday's, but if I see I have time I may wrap more often.

Our home is decorated! We decorated over the course of three different sessions. The first session was the set up of our outdoor tree and lights. That one was quick and finished in about 20 minutes. The next session was the set up of our secondary tree in our bonus room. That was also pretty quick, clocking in under 45 minutes. And the third stage of decorating involved the setting up of our main tree in our living room. I had two helpers, so it was another quick set up, but probably closer to an hour. I also put out our Nutcracker, hung stockings, and put out pine cones and antique ornaments out for display.

I've done some baking! Thus far I have made mint chocolate chip cookie bars and peanut butter fudge. All of it is in the freezer. I finished buying the remainder of my baking ingredients at the store on Sunday. I have scheduled time on my calendar to make two other types of cookies. One of those I have planned for tomorrow. And the final one will be done this weekend when my daughter has time to help.

I decided not to send Christmas cards this year. I did eCards last year and that was a little less work, but I'm not sure I liked it well enough to do it again. This year I feel fine skipping the cards, as I see it as one way to reduce stress during a busy time.

I do have two gifts that will be need to be mailed in December. I have already put that task on my calendar for mailing on Friday, December 16. That date does mean the gift will arrive a little early, but I want it off my plate. I can only imagine the post office will be very busy the following week. I will be at the post office later today to mail something I sold online, I'm making sure to pick up the box I will need for the gifts then, so I save myself a trip.

The reality is I've done a lot of the work and can start thinking about what I want to do to enjoy the season outside of our home. That will take some planning with family, so I will put that on the calendar to discuss this weekend.

Have you started your Christmas tasks? If you started, what have you accomplished?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Mission: Another Tree Decorated

We were traveling over Thanksgiving. I had hoped to have our main tree set up with lights before leaving. That didn't happen.  We did get it up yesterday, just a day after arriving back from our trip. 

I'm going to guess the tree set up was just about an hour, maybe less! There were three of us adding all the ornaments, so it doesn't take too long. We also set out some scented pine cones, our nativity, the stockings on the mantle and some table top decorations.

There were some things I didn't set out this year: Christmas themed picture books, small tree and ornaments, and two Royal Doulton figurines. My husband put them back in the garage. I may pull them out later if I feel we need more in other areas of our home. I'm really liking the simple decorations! I just don't need decorations everywhere. 

Have you decorated your home for the holidays?