As I’ve mentioned before, my least favorite task is folding and putting away clean laundry.  I’ve been really busy lately, focused on my diet, exercise, and studying – but I’ve managed to keep the house in good-enough-for-company shape…except (no surprise here) the master bedroom.  Though I refuse to let the bed go unmade, piles of laundry, both clean and dirty, have formed.   I blame my lack of a dryer for the dirty piles, because I haven’t had time to go to the Laundromat to dry towels…so I don’t want to wash them.

I need a spare hour and a half to tackle this…but with all my time and energy focused elsewhere, I don’t feel like I have that amount of time to devote to it.

This morning, pushed to my limit with the mess, I got the bright idea that maybe it doesn’t have to be 90 consecutive minutes.  Maybe I can just spend 5 minutes here and there and get our room back into shape.

So, how much can you really get done in 5 minutes?

Surprisingly, quite a bit.  I tried it out this morning.   I needed to cool off for a few minutes after blow-drying my hair (does this make anyone else extremely hot?) so instead of just sitting down and drinking my coffee, I tackled half of the can-be-worn-again pile that had formed on my side of the bed.  Tonight, before I get into bed, I’ll spend 5 more minutes and hopefully we’ll have one less pile.  Maybe I can talk the husband into donating 5 minutes for the cause too.

Once we get the room back in order, 5 minutes a day would be enough to keep it in order.  It takes about 2 minutes to make the bed (which I don’t count right now), one minute to hang up the days rewearables or put the dirties into the hamper and put away shoes.  That leaves 2 minutes to spare!  That could include dusting one day,  vacuuming another, folding laundry one day, and putting away the next.  Okay, some of those may take more than 2 minutes…but it wouldn’t take more than 10.

I actually adopted this idea from my mother-in-law.  I’ve heard her mention that when she doesn’t want to clean, she’ll set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and clean until it goes off.  Sometimes, she’ll continue until the room is clean, and others, she’ll just work the 30 minutes.  I don’t feel I have 30 minutes at a time to spare (yes, I am keeping myself that busy)…or at least not to spare on my least favorite task…but I can spare 5 minutes, twice a day.

I’ll report how many 5-minutes it takes to tame our room…and then I’m going to do everything I can to keep it that way…so long as it doesn’t take time away from studying – ha!

What can you achieve in 5 minutes?

The Best Time to Clean

I don’t really know what has happened to me in the last 5 years, but I have changed from loathing getting out of bed to being a morning person.

This week, my husband and I have started to figure out our new routine.  This is his third week at his new job, and our first week without a houseguest.   We’ve started going to be early (like 9pm) and both waking up early (5am for him, 5:30 for me).  Some mornings I’ve worked out and other mornings, I’ve cleaned.  I came to the realization this week that I am a morning person, as I found myself thinking “I love this!” while washing dishes after I had folded and hung up laundry – all before going to work.

Taking 30 or so extra minutes in the morning to straighten up a little or wash last night’s dishes makes coming home so much nicer.  There’s no dread over knowing what’s waiting to be done inside; it’s already done.

This completely baffles me, as up until a few years ago, I was the type of person to sleep as long as possible, hitting the snooze button at least 4 times.  Heck, up until this month, it was hard for me to get out of bed at 6.30, knowing the husband got to sleep in for another hour-and-a-half.  But now I really do love it.  This might have something to do with our new addiction to coffee and the awesome new 10 cup programmable coffee maker we just bought ourselves last week, but it really is nice to have time to do some of those necessary-but-unlikable tasks when I’m fresh (and caffeinated) rather than at the end of the day when I just want to relax.

Thank you, coffee maker, for fueling my coffee addiction AND cleaning obsession. (Image from Google)

Thank you, coffee maker, for fueling my coffee addiction AND cleaning obsession. (Image from Google)


This post is thanks to Laundry Day on Saturday, in which I washed, folded, and put away 1 load of dog blankets, 2 large loads of towels (weighing 46.5 pounds wet), and 3 sets of sheets.  Had to wash the dog blankets because I washed the dog (and then had to deep clean the bathroom too – pet peeve:  wet hair, dog or human – GROSS); had to weigh the towels because I had to dry them at the nearby laundromat (the fuse box our dryer runs on is currently out of commission) and 30 pounds is the limit to one dryer.

As a disclaimer, I learned this technique ten years ago working for a woman who ran estate sells.  Though I’ve used this technique since then, it’s still not easy.  And though I’m no master, I am usually pleased with the end result.

Step 1:  Hold the sheet with the outside facing you.  Locate the 4 corners.

Step 2:  Place one corner on one of your hands, and the adjacent corner on the other hand.  Make sure that the sheet is not twisted.


Step 3:  With a corner still on each hand, place the corner hanging below each hand on that hand (so that there are two corners on each hand and the sheet is folded in half).  You must make sure the sheet is not twisted.  To me, this is the hardest part of the process; it often involves setting down one hand’s corners at a time.


Step 4: Place all corners on one hand by putting touching the tips of your fingers together and rolling the corners from the top hand onto the other hand.


Step 5:  Lay the sheet down on a flat surface and pull your hand out.   The tips of the corners should become one corner of rectangle that the sheet is now shaped.  All elastic edges of the sheet should be towards the center of the rectangle and all edges of the rectangle should be smooth.


Step 6:  Fold the short side of the rectangle into thirds, hiding the elastic edges.


Step 7:  Fold the remainder in half, then half again.


As a bonus, I stack the folded flat sheet, fitted sheet, and one of the pillowcases, then place the stack into the other pillowcase, fold to close and store.


As I’ve struggled to perfect this technique, I found this video from Martha Stewart, which shows this process.  I do the corners a little differently (my way is easier in my opinion than sliding your hand down and finding one corner at a time; when I tried it this way, the sheet always ended up twisted like the poor lady in the video).  You can see that it’s still a battle, even when you know the technique.


Just a quick post for accountability:

Friday, our house guest went home for the weekend, and we had some friends over for a cookout.  I love that the house was already in order and that I could spend Friday afternoon making barbeque sauce rather than running around the house like crazy having to clean.

Most of the couples we had over have small children (there were 10 adults and 5 children under the age of 4).  I learned that “clean” is not the same as “child-proof” – as those babies will find everything that I had overlooked and put it in their mouth.  It didn’t help that we have a lot of art and breakable things that looked like toys to the kids.  Luckily, there was no damage done – to the house nor to the kids.

The rest of the weekend was relaxing, as I caught up on laundry, studied for my exam, and vegged on the couch with the husband.

My cousin should be back up tonight to stay this week with us again, so one more week of hosting house guest.  I have a few things I need to catch up on tonight – putting up yesterday’s washed laundry and clean dishes – though I’m sure we’ll be going out to dinner.  It was easy to keep the house in good shape while our guest is there, but it hasn’t been good for our routine – which is still being established since the husband just started a new job last week.  We love having guests…but I’m ready to fall into a routine.  How old does that make me sound?

Advice for Newlyweds when moving in together

This post did not start out this way, but as I was writing about hosting a cookout tonight and being thankful I had stayed on top of my cleaning schedule, I took random tangent.  But then I thought, “This is actually something that someone may need to know” – and it does deal with organization and cleaning, so I’ll go with it.  Plus, I think the advice is applicable to anyone.


At the time of our wedding last summer, my husband was 28, and I was 27.  We waited until just before the wedding to start moving in together, so he had lived in an apartment, and I had owned my house for several years.  This means we each had everything we really needed for our current living arrangements.  And that means we had two households worth of stuff to consolidate.




Not to mention, I had lived in the house for several years AND accumulated a lot of junk.   When you’ve got 1,750 square feet of space to yourself and you like to hold on to random junk, you can accumulate quite a bit.  I’m talking stacks of old bills I thought I needed to hang on to for who knows what reason, magazines I never read but thought I might someday, several random bins of who-knows-what that I had attached some sort of emotional meaning to and couldn’t throw away.  That kind of stuff – you know, junk.




Then we’ve got shower and wedding gifts.  We are both blessed with large families and many friends and while we had dreams of a small, intimate weddings, that was quickly out of the question.  And not to sound gift-grabby, but a large wedding means a large amount of gifts – and that means you need a lot of space.  I had been displaying the gifts from our showers in the living room, thinking I did not want to start using them until we were settled in together – but that got a little out of control.




Then, if you’re a DIY bride like I was, you’ve got wedding stuff.  I won’t really get into the massive amount of stuff that I had to make our invitations and programs as well as decorate the church and reception venue, but I will say that because I am creative and like things my way, plus we didn’t want to spend an excessive amount of money, I wanted to do just about everything myself – and that meant there was A LOT of stuff.  Trying to keep it organized so everything could easily be taken where it needed to be the day before the wedding was not easy.  And that stuff doesn’t just disappear after the wedding.  I had already lined up several other brides who wanted to buy some of the things I had, but some of the stuff was still around for a while (some of it still is…).




We started the merging process a little at a time.  A few weeks before the wedding, while the wedding gifts were starting to pile up in the living room and wedding stuff was starting to pile up in the den, we slowly started bringing over boxes of his stuff and going through my stuff.  He would bring over things from one room at a time, and we would work on deciding which items we would keep and which needed to be donated.  The things to be donated were piled into the guest bedroom.




Somewhere in the middle of this whole process, we decided it was time to finally finish the living room renovation by having carpet installed, and we got such a good deal on carpet, we though we’d have the bedrooms redone.




So here’s my point and advice:  the merging of two households creates a lot of stuff.


It’s going to take time to organize. Don’t be surprised if it takes a little while to set up the house.  It’s not going to happen overnight.


Purge before trying to consolidate.  BOTH OF YOU – not just the one moving.


Create a plan.  Talk about space constraints, ideas for the spaces, and maybe even a sentimental objects limit.


Don’t attach emotions to inanimate objects.  Placing sentimental value on things leads to hoarding.  Okay – maybe that’s a little extreme, but it does make it unnecessarily hard to get rid of things (which is why it’s a good idea to talk about that before you start!).


Compromise and be respectful of one another.  Work together – you’re on the same team now.


Go ahead and start using the gifts.  They take up too much space to store.


And do not, I repeat, do NOT think it’s a good time to renovate something amidst all the stuff.


I will say that even though the house was a disaster at times, the whole move in process went really well for us, other than just taking so long to get organized.

How Often Do You Clean Your Fridge?

As I mentioned in my previous post, our refrigerator has been out of commission for the last 13 days.  But not any more!  I met the repairman at the house and within 30 minutes, he had replaced the motor; the fridge was cooling again; and I had spent $300.  OUCH!  I have to keep reminding myself that it is cheaper than buying a new one.


After the repairman left, I emptied the fridge of a few things that I didn’t put in the coolers and wiped the shelves and baskets down again.  Then I noticed the shelves on the door.  GROSS.   As much as it pains me to admit, I don’t think they have been wiped out since I first bought the fridge…almost 4 years ago.  Nothing was spilled on them, but they had collected some trash.  I took the fronts of the shelves off, washed them, and wiped down the shelves before replacing the fronts.  After wiping down the top, which had collected quite a bit of dust, it’s as good as new again.


Clean fridge...time to grocery shop...

Clean fridge…time to grocery shop…


But that got me to thinking, how often should I deep clean the fridge?  I never thought the refrigerator was dirty, since we’re really good about getting rid of old items weekly and wiping up as needed.  I put “deep clean the fridge” on my cleaning schedule to be done once a month, but I was thinking more of quickly wiping down the inside and out and going through the contents to throw out anything that had expired.  I wasn’t really thinking about taking out all the bins and shelf fronts to wash…or pulling the fridge away from the wall and vacuuming up dust bunnies.  That’s another task I hadn’t done in 4 years until last week when the husband pulled the fridge out to see if he could repair it; another thing I don’t want to readily admit, the back of the fridge was fuzzy with dust.


While I know both of those tasks need to be done more than once every 4 years, I don’t think it is necessary to go to that extent monthly.  My hope is that the monthly semi-deep clean will keep it in good condition, and I’ll do the overhaul twice a year.


So how often do you clean your fridge – deep clean or otherwise?

Cleaning Schedule

Since I decided that being a better housekeeper was going to be one of my 2013 resolutions, I’ve been looking at a plethora of daily cleaning schedules.   A simple Pinterest search brings up a ton.  I’ve looked and pinned quite a few, but none were quite the perfect fit for me – so I made my own.

One of the favorites that I found suggested making a 4-week schedule to include items that need to be done monthly, like checking the smoke detector batteries and changing the air filter.   The article included a template, so I started there.

The article also has some good advice, so if you’re interested in the template or the advice, here’s a link.

I decided to do a couple of things a little differently than this schedule.  I did away with the “owner” heading that the template includes since this is my resolution, not my husband’s.  However, I’m sure that he will be helping out with the tasks, and he’s more than welcome to mark them off the list – I just didn’t want to assign him anything.  I also decided to include a few things I want to do daily, such as wash the dishes, wipe down the counters, and go through the mail.  I also broke some of the “deep cleaning” tasks out to do separately, such as cleaning the inside and outside of the fridge on a different day than I clean the rest of the kitchen.  I lumped areas of my house together to deep clean, such as the kitchen, dining area, and den, which are all open to each other.

Cleaning Schedule.xlsx

This first 4-week schedule is going to be more of an experiment than a firm schedule, one reason being that we’re going to have a houseguest for the first two weeks, so I’m sure I will be off schedule more than on.  I also have a feeling that some days will take 30 minutes to complete the tasks, while others will take 3 hours.  I’d eventually like to find a balance, so I left space at the bottom to track the time.  Ideally, those deep cleaning days that take 3 hours to complete could be broken up into one-day-a-month tasks, but that would make the schedule incredibly long and daunting.   I may work that way anyway, marking “deep cleaning” off on the day I finish all the tasks.

Deep Cleaning Tasks

I know there some things I forgot, like cleaning out the gutters monthly and any once a year tasks, like cleaning the carpets, but it’s a start.  If you have a cleaning schedule you follow, feel free to share or link me to it!

I am also happy to report that yesterday, I finally tackled the piles of laundry in the master bedroom and reorganized the closet as well as the dresser drawers.  Today was more laundry (sheets to prepare for our houseguest), and I implemented another organization tip from the article that suggest turning the clothes hangers backwards:

Store extra sheets inside of one of the match pillow cases; found on Pinterest via Buzzfeed.

Store extra sheets inside of one of the matching pillow cases; found on Pinterest via Buzzfeed.

Good Intentions

All day yesterday, I was planning to go home after work and tackle the piles of clean laundry in the master bedroom.  I have no problem doing the laundry…until it comes to folding and putting away.  Sadly, my husband is no better, so we usually just leave the clean clothes in piles in the laundry baskets until we wear them and they make their way to the hampers to be washed again. All day, I was thinking of organizing my closet as I put away my clothes…until about 7pm, after we had eaten dinner, washed dishes, and cleaned the kitchen.  We then decided that we needed an ash bucket for our fireplace, so we ran to a couple of stores to find one.  Then, since we’ve had so little downtime during the holidays, I let my husband convince me to watch a couple episodes of his favorite show…which meant I went to bed later than planned, without hanging up the clothes.

If it had been any other chore, I probably wouldn’t have put it off, or if we had a tv in our bedroom, I could have multi-tasked it.  But such is life, and I am now planning to tackle it this afternoon, since I only work until noon today.

In my planning, I found this tip on Pinterest that I would like to implement:

Found on Pinterest via Buzz Feed

Found on Pinterest via Buzz Feed

I was really hoping I would be sharing a picture of my closet with all the hangers backwards instead of the original tip, but I really like this idea.  I did a big closet purge this past August after our wedding to make room in the master closet for my husband’s clothes, but I know there are still items that I rarely or maybe never wear.  I am pretty excited of the idea that by this time next year, they will be out!

2013 Resolution #2: House-Keeping

If you’re wondering, 2013 Resolution #1 is to pass my three remaining sections of the Architectural Registration Exam.  Along with 5-years Bachelor degree and a 3-year internship, to become an architect, I have to pass 7 exams; I’ve taken and passed 4.  And though I’m sure I will mention how time-consuming and challenging studying for the exams is from time to time, this blog isn’t about that, so enough said.


Resolution #2 is to be a better housekeeper.   I would like to be able to entertain guests without spending several hours (or days) cleaning before they arrive.  I would like to not be embarrassed when someone drops-by because my kitchen is a wreck and there are muddy dog prints on the den floor.  I would like to offer friends and family a clean place to stay if they are in need, without having to shuffle things off the guest bed.


Maybe I need a little disclaimer here that I’m not a complete slob.  The house is never really THAT bad.  But there are times when we’ve been so busy that the house does become a bit disorganized or days when I come home tired from work and don’t want to do the pile of dishes in the sink from dinner the previous night.  And there’s no denying that we either need more storage or less stuff.


However, what really led to this resolution was the holidays.  My husband’s two brothers and their families came to town for Christmas, and we offered our guest bedroom to lighten his parents’ load.  In preparation for houseguests, I spent the entire weekend before, including Friday afternoon and most of Monday, deep cleaning.  The house looked amazing, but it took way to long in my opinion, and I came across some pretty gross stuff – like thick blankets of dust build up on the lampshades and ceiling fans.  I spent the majority of Saturday cleaning the smallest room in the house – the master bathroom – scrubbing grout, tile, floors, walls, toilet, and sink.  The temperature outside all weekend was in the 60’s, so I guess I was in the mood to “spring clean” while the husband did the same for the yard.



Last night, this resolution was put to the first test – sudden need to entertain.  One of my husband’s high school friend’s was still in town for the holidays, and we wanted to get together with him, his wife, and another couple.  With the exception of the master bedroom, we’ve managed to keep the house in pretty good shape (neither of us are good about putting away clean laundry).  The yard is another story, though.  We had a huge ice storm and had lots of limbs, branches, and tops of trees come down.  Clean-up on the yard will be ongoing for a quite some time, and the yard tools and cold weather gear have haphazardly found their way into the den…along with our dog, who no matter how much I dry him off, always manages to leave dirty paw prints on the stained concrete floor.  We offered our house, then did a quick 30-minute clean-up to get it back into shape:  washed dinner dishes, swept, mopped up muddy paw prints, vacuumed, and picked up and put away the random things that had found their way out.  Back to a clean house.


So, long story short:  the house is currently clean (except that I need to put up quite a bit of laundry – tonight), and I intend on spending a little time each day to keeping it that way.