Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cleaning house

I am working on some projects at the moment, but none are quite at the point of sharing, so I thought I would do a post on cleaning. I have been meaning to address the topic of keeping our house clean and organized for a while, but this seems like a good opportunity since I don't have a lot of other items to share. When we first got married, we lived in a small apartment, actually a medium-sized apartment and then a small closet-sized apartment. I did most of the cleaning. It usually took me 30 minutes to an hour to clean the entire place. So, it really wasn't such a big deal. When we moved to our house, we continued what we were used to. This led to me being completely overwhelmed when I first tried to clean the house from top to bottom and it took me 8 or 9 hours. Yup. An entire day of cleaning. So, J and I had a sit down discussion where I expressed that we would either need to divy up the cleaning tasks or hire a maid service. We opted for the former. And things have actually been pretty harmonious ever since. The only thing I have to be careful of is to not remind him to do something. He relegates his tasking to certain days of the week, and I get accused of nagging if I remind him. Thankfully, he is really good at doing the tasks he has been assigned. I, however, do my cleaning tasks when I notice something is looking dirty or if we are having company. (If you have been over to our place, the house likely looks better than it does on a day to day basis).

The breakdown.

J's tasks:
J is in charge of vacuuming. He gets home from work earlier than I do on Fridays and does this as soon as he is home. We vacuum every week. This is usually necessary as I make a mess with projects and cooking. Also, after our bed bug incident in 2009, we both like to regularly vacuum. I will spot-clean vacuum every once in a while. J is much better at this than me because, although our vacuum is really nice, it is very heavy.

Taking out the trash and recycling (which I obviously do if he is out of town).

Doing the dishes. I am so thankful to J's parents for this one. His mother cooks and his father does the dishes. This 'norm' got passed down to J such that he just gets up from dinner and starts cleaning. :) I love it.

Organizing. While I like things to be clean (i.e. 99.99% germ-free), I don't always put things away. As my parents know, I have never been particularly good at this. J is the opposite. He doesn't wipe things down with Clorox, but he gets in organized moods (usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings), where he puts a lot of things away and organizes them.

TV and media maintenance.

My tasks.
Bathrooms. I can't say that I particularly love this task, but I do love a clean bathroom. And when J lived a bachelor life with his roommate, his bathroom was not clean. Bathrooms have the ability to get nasty pretty easily. I usually break up my tasks so that I am not cleaning a whole bathroom at once. It becomes a monumental task. Here's what usually happens (along with some tips).

Toilets: about once a month, I visit all the toilets with a scrub brush and Clorox toilet cleaner
Sinks: The sinks we use a lot get cleaned at least once a week with whatever all-purpose cleaner is closest and a paper towel or sponge. If you want to make your sinks really shine, use some Windex on them after the cleaning to make them really pretty. Another tip: if you have soap scum buildup, use a fabric softener sheet (slightly damp) to scrub the soap scum away. It really works.
Showers: I would love to say that these get cleaned more often, but it is usually more like once a month for our shower and whenever it is going to be used for the other ones (showers not in use and dry stay pretty clean). Deep cleaning the shower like I shared in this post happens around annually (at least that's the plan). Normally, I use a shower cleaner and sponge or scrub brush to wash the shower.

For the shower doors, I use a fabric softener sheet right after my shower when the doors are still damp. I then rinse them off. After squegee-ing the water off them, I use some Windex on the glass. This really works, even if you have build up on your doors.

Dusting. I usually do this when I notice a bunch of dust on stuff. Neither of us like dusting, so this will definitely be handed off to our future offspring (someday) when they are old enough. (That's what kids are for, right?)

Floor cleaning. After J is done vacuuming, I will occasionally use wood cleaner on the hardwoods and clean the kitchen and bathroom floors. This happens around once a month. But we do not eat food that falls on the floor either.

Watering plants. Usually when they look droopy. I am astonished I haven't killed any.

Wiping down the counters. Although J does a great job with cleaning and organizing dishes, the counters usually need a wipe down about once a day (or more).

Cleaning jewelry. Obviously, since it's mostly mine. I mention this because I wanted to share an amazing tip. If your jewelry needs some TLC, try this link. It really works.

Joint tasking.
Laundry. This is usually done by the person who notices it is needed. Sometimes one of us will start it and the other finishes it or puts the clothes away. I usually always initiate cleaning the sheets and towels.

Running the dishwasher. We share starting the dishwasher and putting the dishes away.

Problems. Things break. We usually have to deal with this together.

Anyway, this is what has worked for us. And keeps us sane. I still sometimes think about getting a cleaning lady, but I would like to try to hold off until we have kids. I think it would be totally worth it at that point. How about you? What cleaning schedule has worked for you? Do you divide tasks to make them more manageable?

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Lake

Hello everyone! I am pleased to announce that this is the last of my travel posts for the summer! It has been quite the summer of adventures, and we are pretty excited to store those suitcases for a bit. Most of you are probably thinking that we should be sad to see our vacationing come to an end, but we have traveled for about 3 weeks in total this summer, which is kind of a long time to be away from home. And there is something to be said for the routine. (Although, I really wouldn't mind a stay-cation at this point).

Anyway, we left last Thursday evening to head up to my folks home. After staying the night and visiting with them the next morning, we made the rest of our trip up to NY to J's family's lake house. We were going up there for J's grandfather's 90th birthday. We have been going up to the lake every summer since we have been married (and J has been going there a lot more times than that). The weather was the warmest I have ever experienced at the lake. As a result, I had a pretty easy time getting into the water. It was quite nice.

J is the one swimming.

 The lake.

Hawk or small eagle. We couldn't tell.

J and I in front of the lake house.

J and his cousin out on floating chairs.

Taking the boat out.

We saw a beautiful sunset out on the boat.

The island. (Kind of reminds me of the Harry Potter island in this photo).

That night, we had a bonfire and made smores. The next day, we loaded everything up and headed over to the nursing home for the birthday celebration.

Grandpa got a new baseball hat.

Grandpa and his grandsons.

We had a great time up at the lake. It's hard to believe we made it to the end of our trips (and that it's almost August! Where has the time gone?) I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with house projects. I need to make some lists. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A few more words about plants

This post is a small follow up post to my planting post from this past weekend. While we were at the gardening store, I picked up two other items:

1. A terra cotta plate

2. A terra cotta pot and a basil plant (left). Check out how awesome the parsley plant is looking!

I wanted to use the plate under the spider plant in our living room, so I decided to spray paint the plate to match the pot that I had spray painted about a year (or 2?) ago. Spray painting terra cotta is pretty easy. Just wipe it clean with a damp cloth and let it dry beforehand. I did 2 even coats (keep your hand moving and don't overcoat so you don't get drips).

Once it dried (around 48 hours), it was ready for use! I used to have just a plastic plate under the plant, so this is a huge improvement.

Our spider plant is sprouting babies, so it will soon be time to harvest them and move them to a smaller pot, like I did last year.

That is all for now. Hope you are all having a great week.

Oh and if you haven't seen this yet, you must. It is so absolutely adorable.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In bloom

Hello! This is my first house post in quite some time. J and I are still in recovery mode from all the activity this summer. Traveling has been fun, but also exhausting. Especially with my continued sleep problems. I was actually supposed to go to Orlando this past week for a conference. In fact, we were supposed to be flying back today. However, all this travel caught up with me and I just couldn't go. I think we were both pretty relieved to be honest. The conference would have been good, but I have been on edge for so long that I really needed to be home. I honestly do not understand how people can travel all the time and be okay.

We didn't have much going on this weekend, so it was pretty open. Saturday, I felt well enough to do some gardening. So, instead of going to Home Depot, we ended up going to our local gardening center. It was slightly more expensive, but way better quality and I could take my time looking at the options for our yard. J waited patiently by the fans.

I was most interested in getting some new perennials for our front flower bed, but I also wanted to grab some impatiens since they historically do so well in our partially-shaded front. After walking around for 15 minutes looking for them, I finally say to J, "Do you see any impatiens? I can't find them anywhere." At which point, we both looked straight in front of us at this sign and had a good laugh. I guess no impatiens this year! In a way, it forced me to look at some other plants, which is always fun.

 Our front bushes were getting out of control and the pansies we had planted in the spring had completely disappeared.

Our hydrangea was flourishing though. It has really grown quite a bit, which is pretty awesome. The blooms were so pretty when we got back from Europe, but I forgot to take a picture (typical). 

The bushes in the back seemed to take on a life of their own and had hosted a full on invasion of the yard and house. It's hard to see here, but they must have grown 1-2 feet on all sides.

The first thing I tackled was some trimming of the bushes. This is the after shot. The bushes in the back are not taking over quite so much of the yard. I left the hydrangea alone. I think I want to give it at least another year before I start trimming her down. I did clip a few of the blooms. More on that later.

J helped me dig holes for the new plants (12 in all!). The soil was super wet. We have had so much rain, and our soaker hose has been working too well. I ended up removing the soaker hose. I will go back to the sprinkler if our yard is looking dry, but it was really way too moist. The red is a New Guinea Impatien (annual), the second one is Summer Wave (perennial), and the one in the back is a Blue Ridge Creeping Phlox (perennial), which should (fingers crossed) bloom in the spring. The Phlox will spread ground, so I am curious how that will turn out in time.

On the other side, I planted Sedum ("Autumn Fire") in the front (perennial). It should bloom in August/September. Next to it (closest to the walkway) is the Balloon Flower (perennial). Both of them need a little more sun, so I planted them in our sunny spots. I planted another annual, petunias. So, we'll see how they all turn out. The perennials cover the spring, summer and fall blooming times, so I am hoping that we will have flowers 3 seasons of the year. The goal is to add some variety to our front flowerbed without having to plant new annuals all the time.

I'm excited to see the plant mature over time and see which do well and which don't. I'll keep you updated.

 Balloon flower (front) and petunias.

I clipped a few of the hydrangeas and brought them inside. Aren't they pretty? I am hoping to dry them out and use them a little longer. I actually really like the bottom of the mason jar being filled with the wine corks. Looks pretty cool.

 In the kitchen.

It was good to get my hands dirty a bit and work in the yard. It felt ordinary and wonderful. And I now feel rather sore.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!