Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Week 3: Pantry and Kitchen Nook

Week two of the 14 Week Home Organizational Challenge was the pantry.

Of course I am taking it slower and using two weeks for some of the rooms, so I did the pantry in week three.

The "before" pantry wasn't terrible, but can always use a good clearing out. 

First, we pulled everything out. Since I just cleared this out last year, there weren't too many expired items, but still some we had to toss. 

Then we wiped everything down, including the baseboards and floor. It seems as if this pantry collects dust bunnies as they scurry across the tile floor and get sucked under the door. 

After everything is culled and cleaned, you can sort the food into categories and replace back on the shelves. 

Our "after" doesn't look terribly different. It was a lot emptier, but then we went to Costco. And yes, those are chocolate covered potato chips from Costco that you see. Dear Husband (DH) snuck those into the cart when I wasn't looking. Can't say I'm complaining. 

The other area I looped in to the pantry was the kitchen nook. The kitchen was a big enough task in itself so I put the two smaller tasks together.
Here is what it was before, cluttered with all our kitchen cleaning bins.
It started with dusting things like ceiling corners and the ceiling fan (thanks to DH for tackling that one!) Then washing the windows, window frames, table, chairs, and baseboards. I also spot checked the walls for any scuffs that needed a magic eraser. Then to wax all the wood trim.

I had gotten down to cleaning the floor, and this is where I got stuck:

Yep, the vacuum cleaner decided to go on the fritz. Six days before we had 20+ people over for a Super Bowl party. Awesome.

So here is where the nook stands for now. All clean except for the floor. Somehow I doubt the vacuum can get fixed in less than 5 days. DH, bless his heart, was already having a crummy day and still tried to take it apart and fix it for me. Be still, my heart.

Due to preparing for the Super Bowl party, we took a week off of the deep-cleaning so we could get everything else "good enough" for guests.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 2: Kitchen Finished!

How often can you really say that your kitchen glistens? For a brief period of time, mine did!

Following the 14 Week Home Organization Challenge (Kitchen Week), everything has been cleaned. For some reason they think you can deep clean your kitchen in a week, which is nonsense. Last year it was my first time doing this and it took me four weeks! I am giving myself a break and allowing two weeks for the big tasks... like the kitchen.

It all started with the cabinets: they were emptied, vacuumed, wiped, waxed, "stuff" culled, and then re-stocked. That alone took a solid week for 40 cabinets!

To the left you can see my "cooking station" so I have everything in reach when cooking/baking.

To the right is just a lot of miscellany. I have a little bit of room here where I might move some of my homemade canned goods to.

I still have one cabinet that is too full, but it has the small appliances we need but don't use terribly often.

Next was backsplash, counters, sink, small appliances (microwave, stand mixer, etc.), stove, dishwasher (make sure you clean the filters!), fridge/freezer (inside and out), baseboards, and floors.
I found it helpful to work in a "top-down" approach, that I learned from my mom. (Thanks Mom!)

See that glass paned cupboard on the right? That contains teacups from previous generations of women in my family.

The top one is from my paternal Great Grandma circa 1910's? The middle is from my paternal Grandma's collection, and the bottom from my maternal Nana's collection. I have space for three more on the other side of the sink and I am hoping to have Mom and MIL each pick out a set that "represent" them, to add to my collection.

In case you are wondering, here are some of my favorite cleaning products that I use:

Don't be too envious of the kitchen... this week I am to tackle the pantry and kitchen nook. Yeesh.

But first, what's needed after two tough weeks of cleaning the kitchen? Puppy snuggles! I love how much she loves her dad.

You may remember that Mom is also doing the challenge with me!! This is her first time doing it, so everything is going to take a lot longer. Perseverance is tough, but needed. Go Mom and Dad!

Here are some of the results of their hard work. Looking good!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Week 1: Kitchen

I promised to try and keep this updated with my progress on the 14 Week Home Organization Challenge

Well the first week is the kitchen and while some people can get it done in one week, but since Dear Husband (DH) and I both work full time, I planned on taking 2 weeks. Since this is my second year, I have less to sort through so it should take us less than the 4 week it did last year.
This first week it mostly looks like this: a disaster

From all angles...
We have 40 cabinet drawers or doors. 40! It is amazing, until you have to clean them. Since we didn't have enough room to take everything out at the same time, we started with kitchen tool and gadgets.
After pulling all the things out, we wiped down the cabinets with Murphy's Oil Soap, then waxed them with Feed-N-Wax like last year. We then culled any items we don't really need, and put everything else back.
Then we repeated the process for the tableware (plates, glasses, silverware, etc.), then for pots and pans, and eventually spices and food staples (flour, sugar, etc.)

Thankfully we were able to take a small break this weekend when we had SisX and her husband, BroD, over.
DH needed to bottle his latest batch of beer, so BroD helped with that while SisX and I worked on other projects.

And what's the best treat after a successful day of projects?
A stout float using home brewed beer!

Oh, and Eva was not to be outdone... her project was destroying a felted wool ball she got for Christmas.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Christmas

We had a great, relaxing Christmas season:
We visited with friends and family, watch movies, read, nap, ate WAY too much good food. There were a couple of short illnesses to deal with but plenty of sleep, homemade soup/stew, and fluids got us back on our feet in short order. 
Among all this excitement, I didn't take any pictures. Not a single one. I can't believe it. 
It was just such a nice, chill vacation that we spent our time enjoying it rather than trying to document everything. 

Here was the Christmas card we sent out: 
The only time I had was during a Packer game, so I decided to embrace the theme and convinced Dear Husband (DH) to step out into the snow during time-outs and commercial breaks until we got a good picture. 

I did a bit better with my diet over Christmas (+1 lb) than over Thanksgiving (+3 lb), but it still leaves me three pounds over my "stable" weight that I want to maintain. I think what helped is keeping up with calorie counting over the holiday, so now I just need to keep making smart choices and not binge on leftover candy!

We did have a little Christmas cocktail party, and the Christmas Mocha Rum Punch was amazing. SisX and I dug the recipe out of Mom's 1970's TriDelta sorority cookbook. Those ladies sure know how to party.

The big decoration we added this year was a fake Christmas tree. We still had our normal (4 ft) real tree with sentimental ornaments on it, but we wanted something bolder for the front window since we don't have outside lights yet. 

DH has very strong opinions about needing a live Christmas tree in the house for the holiday, and I couldn't agree more. There is just something about the smell and look that makes the mess completely worth it.

I found a pre-lit one on sale, and it came in just 4 easy pieces and needed to be "fluffed" out to look more real. I picked up some ribbon and silver+blue ornaments (some plastic and some glass), but I couldn't find a topper I liked, so I just made a giant bow out of the ribbon and stuck it on top. 

I like how some of the ends are "feathered" or frayed so there are more color tones and looks fuller. 

The other complicated decoration I do every year is the Santas on the mantle. Every year my Nana would send an an ornament from a Hallmark Keepsake series.

When she passed, I was in the middle of the "Father Christmas" ornament series, so I have continued to buy the new one each year. I feared last year was the end because there were 12 of them, but the 13th did come out this year.

Yes, the stocking on the right is Eva's with her latest Rally-O and Agility ribbons she earned in December. 

Here is the latest addition to the collection from this year.

The first week of January is usually time for me to set up my "system" for the year. I am trying out this new "Commit 30" planner this year, where you write goals and objectives and make shorter, actionable steps to those goals each month, week, or day. 

One of my goals is to continue getting the house in order. You may remember that I tried the 14 Week Organizational Challenge last year. Not only do you clean, but you cull everything you can, room by room. Well I made it through week 8-10 last year but couldn't quite finish. Since I work full-time and only have the evenings available, this year I am giving myself more time for each task (so it is really the 23 week challenge for me.) 
I have also recruited Mom to be my accountability partner! She will be trying the challenge for the first time ever (so proud of her!), and we are going to encourage each other to keep up and finish the challenge. Oh, and I'm ignoring the basement because that cull and clean will take the rest of the year!

Wish me luck! I will try to log a little bit about each room. Besides, keeping busy will be good for me right now; I am like a sulky preschooler because my best friend is moving away. Why is it so hard making close friends as an adult?