Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

Boosting Energy by Tackling Life’s Nagging To-Do List

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We all have one.  It is a nagging list of items that you intend to do, but never get done. There is always a great reason why you don’t have time to do one more thing with such a full schedule, but deep down, you know that many of the items on the list would only take a few minutes. Some of the things on your list might be routine appointments for yourself, home ownership projects that never get done, paying bills, or an errand that has been looming. How about a really embarrassing to-do? How about the fact that my daughter is four and I still haven’t ordered her birth certificate!? Oh yes, I have a nagging to-do list and it can be a total energy drainer.

I sat down and jotted down my running list of things I need to do. It is the list of things to do that swims in my brain right before bed and causes me not to sleep as well. I did a brain dump on a sheet of paper and decided that this month I would tackle all of the things that have been bugging me.

Some of the items proved to be easier to tackle than I thought. My contacts could have walked away and stood to attention by themselves because I was in desperate need of an eye exam. I called Sam’s Club to schedule an exam and they had an opening in an hour. Within one hour, I got my eyes examined, got new contacts, and took my daughter to go get her ballet shoes (another nagging thing that needed to be done). It was almost too easy.

Other things on the list took much more time. I spent an afternoon ripping out the old caulk on our tub and caulking it with fresh caulk, we repainted our bedroom to a bright and cheery color,  and I spent a great deal of time researching flight prices and getting my schedule together for the upcoming BlissDom conference.

Two thing still remains to be done…getting a birth certificate and sending out thoughtful notes to the grandparents for the holiday gifts. I promise to tackle those this week.

Let me give you an example of how much better tackling something on your nagging list of things to do could be with an afternoon of time invested.

Our bedroom really was in need of a new update. We have lived in our home for six years now and this was one of the first rooms in our house that we had painted.  This room does not get a lot of natural light into it, the art lacked the personality that I want our home to have, and it was cluttered. After tackling our closet, I was ready to make this space our own by updating the paint and decor.

We had an extra gallon of paint leftover from painting our front room and we used this same Honey Bear color in our bedroom. I already owned the bedding and just bought two throw pillows ($12.99 each) from Target to add a new accent color to the room. One shade had not been hung because we couldn’t find the hardware. After decluttering our space, I found the hardware and we hung them in the room. We took down the dated curtains and decided not to hang any at all.

My husband asked for this print of Boston as a holiday gift and I bought a poster frame ($17.99) to frame the art. We miss Massachusetts a lot and this was a way to remember our first married years together and the home and friends that we love there.  This spoke so much more of us and what we love than a picture of fruit in a basket, don’t you think? Again, this pulled in our new accent color without costing us a lot of money.

This little storage crate was one splurge purchase that we desperately needed for putting away bed linens. I have had linens in a basket underneath a side table for years. This made for much more attractive storage and keeps the linens fresh, put away, and dust-free instead of the spot they were in. I put off-season blankets in this and spare sheets for the children. I got it for $79.99 at Target, but they have it on sale this week for $59.99. (Note to self- add a price adjustment to my nagging list of things to do)

The true transformation though didn’t cost a dime. It was the absence of clutter… the wall clutter, the knick knack clutter, the useless objects clutter, the items-that-gathered-dust-but-were-never-useful clutter.

One of my favorite wedding gifts was the bowl that was pictured above. You would have never known it because it was filled with useless items. Emptied and dusted, it makes me so much happier.

The nightstand is empty and waiting for my library books to dive into, the little china saucer my best friend gave me is the perfect place to stick a glass of milk with my late night snack.

There is just so much peace in this space now and I can finally relax. One day spent tackling something that had been nagging me for months should give me many, many days of enjoyment.

(I am continuing to work on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin I recommend you read it too!)

What has been on your nagging to-do list?  Anything half as embarassing as getting a birth certificate for your child? Please make me feel better!

Boosting Energy By Transforming Your Clutter

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

As I shared with you last week, I am working on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.

The first month of her book focuses on boosting energy and has several ways that you can do that.

I have been working on four specific goals for this month.

1. Going to bed on time.
2. Dealing with the nagging list of things to do.
3. Kicking clutter to the curb.
4. Returning to a good exercise routine.

You may wonder why kicking clutter to the curb would be an energy booster. I am telling you, my friends, that dealing with clutter on a daily basis is a huge drain to my energy. No matter how hard I try though, it seems that it is a constant battle. I have papers coming home from school, mail and newspapers, magazines, and a constant influx of randomness that seems to enter our lives. Couple that with the “best Christmas ever”, according to my children, and we have a possible avalanche on our hands.

Yes, it is easy for me to tsk tsk and wag my fingers at others though. Did you notice how I never blame myself in this process? I can watch organizing shows and put myself on a pedestal or blame my children and their toys for the clutter in our home, but do I ever look at myself? Not likely!

Let’s look at a space in my home that is just my space…my section in the closet!

Wow, is that an energy drainer or what? Getting ready in the morning has been horrible for me and this is one space that needed some addressing!

I pulled every single item out of the closet and evaluated if I ever wore it or not. No surprise that there are many pieces in this wardrobe that I am not wearing, many because I simply could not find them! These got pulled into a bag to donate to our local Goodwill.

Using the advice that was offered to me by my closest fashion confidant, Kathy Friend, I sorted these items by color so that I could find what I need quickly and also could discover what areas in my color scheme needed a boost and what areas would need some scaling back.

Oh, black, how I love thee! Just seeing this section in my closet makes me happy. A girl can never have too many black items, in my opinion, although I did take note that my closet is a little heavy on the black and could use a little boost in the browns, greens, and blues. Now I will know exactly what to keep my eye out for when I do my thrift shopping!

To go along with my Type A personality, I also organized my colored section by style. Collared shirts and blazers were together, camisoles and tanks were in the front for easy grabbing, and t-shirts were all together in a row.

This is my closet after! I took out two bags of clothes that I did not wear, got rid of the randomness that doesn’t even belong in the closet, and got rid of non-matching socks or socks from high school (I know, so embarrassing!)

The very best part though is that I freed a shelf up and put not a thing on it. I thought only rich folks had free shelves. In fact,  I have never had a free shelf in my home and I will admit that I always blamed it on the fact that our space/home is smaller. While that may be true, perhaps my clutter is the cause and not the size of the space.

The cost to  transform this space? ZERO DOLLARS! The superstores will have you fooled this time of year and make you believe that the key to getting organized comes in the form of more storage containers and fancy organizers. No, the real key to transforming your clutter is not to organize it… it is to GET RID OF IT!

To remind myself to only keep what I wear, I went back to the Peter Walsh technique of turning my hangers around when I wear something so at the end of this season, I can do another weeding.

Now of course I started to evaluate my husband’s section of the closet and thought how nice it would be if he would go through what he is not wearing. I then had to remind myself of this year’s personal commandment- “I can only change me.”

I moved on mentally and decided to tackle the basement instead.

What area in your home is draining you of energy? Do you have a spot in your house that you are proud of that gives you a boost when you see it! Please share here!

30 Day Challenge: Reducing Clutter In Your Home

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Today I am sitting in a home that has been greatly reduced of clutter. Three cars (front passenger seat, back row of seating, and trunk)… all filled to the brim with clutter from my home. Another load sits, waiting to be distributed to those I know that are in need right now.

It is as though I can hear the drawers in our home give audible sighs as I open them instead of groaning underneath the weight of random uselessness. There is some emptiness in places that once housed chaos.

Even the man of the house has noticed a difference around here. “This doesn’t even look like our house!” he had exclaimed after car load #1 was removed. By car load #3 there was a sense of panic. “Will we have anything left? Please don’t take my stuff!”

You may have been under the impression that I live in a clutter-free existence. I am afraid you would be wrong! What has been removed from my home?

- The purse collection, whittled down to two everyday purses and one special occasion purse. Each gently unloaded of four hundred lip glosses and hand lotions…two items which I never thought I had.

- The size zero, ones and some twos pants are now donated and no longer a painful reminder of the body that I once had. I don’t have to try them on anymore and be disappointed. I remind myself that my size four body is a happier one and remember that my size zero body was when I was depressed and longing to get pregnant. I am the happy and proud mom of two beautiful children who love me if I am a size four or a size twenty-five. Go me!

- The collection of thrift store items that never really fit into my life. I confused my frugality for a need to deal seek and thrift seek all of the time. I can remind myself that I am maturing in my frugality and now know that I am saving a lot more if I don’t seek the deals anymore. A scaled existence is far more frugal than even those items that seemed to cost pennies.

- The mismatched linens, table linens, and cups that gathered dust in my home. Now the space has been freed for the matched existence that I love. I don’t have to shift the mismatched stuff to get the stuff I really adore. Hurray for space!

- Plastic. Goodbye promotional water bottles, plastic containers missing lids, random plastic clutter in my life. How refreshing to open a cupboard and not be attacked by a plastic monster.

- Stuff I have to dust. You will have to find a new place to live because I am tired of dusting and moving you around.

Here is my challenge, all neatly outlined, and what I was able to achieve this month:

October ’09 Challenge

Challenge: Reduce the clutter in our home. I planned to commit to take one car full (minimum) to the donation box each week until we have our clutter problems under control.

Did I meet the challenge?: Yes, I did! The first car load was easy to pull together, but each pile after that seemed more difficult. I had to really think about the things in our home and weigh their usefulness which took more time and thought then I had anticipated. I am very conscious of clutter and try to be careful about this so everything, at first, appeared quite useful to me.

How did it enrich myself/others?: The enrichment that reducing clutter has been immediately evident to me. For one, I am spending less time cleaning my home. When everything has a place and is useful to me, it is much easier to tidy up and maintain my home. The benefit to that is more time to do what I love…reading, knitting, and hanging out with my family.

The best part is that once you start decluttering, it can be difficult to stop. Suddenly I was dumping junk drawers and organizing seasonal clothing, tidying the basement, and clearing out the pantry. This organized living could become highly addictive!

We also enriched other families by making our donations to charity. I know that I am helping keep people employed at Goodwill and I know that the items I have set aside for those in need in our community will be put to good use. It is a fantastic feeling to bless others when we have been so blessed ourselves!

How I Plan to Continue the Challenge: I am going to be more aware of what I am bringing into my home and if I really need the items. I also plan to keep a bin in our garage going at all times to toss items in that don’t add to the quality of my life.

Let’s be honest though… I am the mother of two small children. It isn’t just my clutter that I am trying to maintain. I know that is unlikely that I will have a clutter-free home for awhile. I am honest with myself though and know that as long as they have oodles of space to play and I do the best I can, that is the most important part. I just want to create a home that is lived in, loved, and maintain a space that we all can love and appreciate. It is a modest goal that I know I can accomplish!

Reward- The reward is the new space that I am living in and the reward of the time that I have reclaimed in the process!

Next Month’s Challenge- I don’t eat breakfast…ever. I can count on one hand the amount of breakfasts I have ate this year. This month, I plan to commit to eating something every single morning and see if it has any improvement on my day.

Want to take on a 30 Day Challenge of your own? Read more details about how these challenges can be beneficial and share with me one thing you would like to change this month!

30 Day Challenges to Improve Your Life

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Photo Credit: e.t

I don’t even know how it came up in conversation. I probably said something about wanting to exercise more and my husband probably echoed the sentiments. I may have said something about making a game out of it and then he may have taken me up on the challenge. That conversation 30 days ago is how I began to incorporate a regular exercise schedule back into my life.

When I read, “The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta, he shared how he was able to accomplish many great things in his life. I remember that his list of accomplishments seemed lofty and unachievable to me. Things like running marathons and writing books. He then shared that while the things he had accomplished were amazing, that it all began with smaller goals that allowed him to then build on and up to bigger goals.

Have you ever thought about what you could achieve with a 30 day challenge? I remember how much we achieved with a 30 day no spend challenge, but what if you applied that same principle to other aspects of your life?

I wanted to share with you the steps I took towards choosing my challenges:

Focusing my goals: The first step for me was making a focused and small goal that could be built upon. I think the challenge for me was making a small goal instead of a big one. I am what is commonly referred to as an “overachiever.” I think that is why I fail so miserably at New Year’s resolutions and the previous goals for myself. I also wanted this very focused and small goal to add an element of enrichment that would be beneficial in certain aspects of my life.

For me, the enrichment needs to happen in three sections of my life.

Enriching myself.

Examples- Exercise challenges, challenging myself to one hour of quiet time to myself, reading the Bible, writing in a journal, reading literary classics, drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, watching classic movies, learning/mastering a new craft, cooking challenges, giving up television, taking courses that enrich myself/my business, traveling, photography challenges.

Enriching my family.

Examples- Dating my spouse again, taking steps to improve our family finances, making alone time for each child, sitting on the floor and playing with my children each day, volunteering with my family, teaching my children a new craft/hobby, finding free things to do each day together, cooking with my children, making outdoor living a priority, limiting computer/television time, no spend challenges, trying to bless someone else each day, starting a gratitude journal together.

Enriching my home life.

Examples- Getting rid of clutter each day, organizing the paper flow in the house, organizing problem areas in our home, cleaning out a junk drawer each day, cooking every night, starting a garden, getting my children more involved with chores, taking inventory of pantry and closet clutter, green living challenges/making the home more energy efficient.

Balancing My Goals- I then decided that to make these challenges work for me, I would add something to my life one month and take something away the next month. For example, I add 20 minutes of exercise to each day of my life this month, but the next month I reduce clutter so I have less cleaning to do for the following month. That natural give and take is what will help me fit these challenges into my day and make them work with my busy schedule.

Reward Myself- At the end, I wanted to give myself a reward for completing the challenge. Maybe it could be a night out on the town after taking a no spend challenge or maybe it is catching on a television series after giving up television for a month.

This month was definitely an exercise in enriching myself, but I did discover how much it has enriched others by making this a part of my regular routine. I wanted to share with you what I have been up to and to include you in my 30 day process of challenging myself each month.

August ’09 Challenge

Challenge: Exercise every single day for 30 days doing the 30 Day Shred Workout DVD. My husband committed to 100 sit-ups each day for the challenge.

I had heard great things about the 30 Day Shred bought the DVD a few months ago. I tried it a few times, but would have to give up because I said it was “too hard” or I was “too sore.” The DVD sat collecting dust for a couple of months before I picked it up again for this challenge.

If you are not familiar with this workout routine, it had 3 workout levels that increased in intensity. The workouts were a total of 20 minutes (including the warm-up and cool down) so this made it seem more manageable than attempting a longer workout tape.

I had a lot of fears to overcome to complete the challenge. The workout is extremely hard and I was extremely out of shape. I had to figure out when I would even make time to do it and if I could stick with it for thirty days straight.

Did I meet the challenge?: Yes, I did! It hurt and I was sore for that first week. I never believed that I could do the first level, let alone work my way up to level three. I started with 3 pounds weights and moved to five pound weights as I built up my strength and I can say that I did all of the levels of the challenges.

How did it enrich myself/others?: I have been off of the exercise bandwagon for awhile now and I was starting to feel it. My normally high metabolism began to slow once I hit 30 and I had noticed a definite c
hange in my shape and energy.

To say that I have felt transformed by this experience would be true. I hate to say it, but I actually look forward to doing the workout each day. I do the workout after I get my son on the bus and I have made it a part of my regular routine.

Once I made the commitment to exercise, I started making different commitments throughout the rest of my day. I started having a protein-packed smoothie after my workouts instead of skipping breakfast, I created a salad bar of ingredients so I could eat better at lunch, and I drank more water because I was thirsty for it.

It began to enrich other parts of my life too and benefit my family. I had more energy to play with my children, my kids looked forward to my workout and did it with me (or sometimes just cheered me on), and my husband says he feels like he is dating a new girl all over again.

The added side benefit was that my clothes now fit better and my body feels more toned. I didn’t lose a drastic amount of weight, but I also made few diet modifications and am at a normal BMI. I did lose six pounds though which still kept me within normal levels, but in better shape than I was.

How I Plan to Continue the Challenge: I would like to continue doing this DVD, but work in other routines to add some variation. I plan to continue trying to exercise five days a week now that it has become an important part of my day. My ultimate goal would be to run a 5K with my husband so I will need to add more elements in my routine to help with that.

Overall, this 30 Day Challenge was a complete success and has had some really great benefits to my life.

Reward- I have tucked away a coupon from The Gap that was handed out at BlogHer for a free pair of jeans. I decided I would not cash in on the reward until I completed my exercise challenge. I am excited to be cashing in on a new pair of jeans with my new and improved body!

Next Month’s Challenge- Reduce the clutter in our home. I plan to make a commitment to take one car full (minimum) to the donation box each week until we have our clutter problems under control. I am excited to see how we do with this challenge and what we will discover through the thirty day process.

What are some goals you have created for yourself that you have reached? What is something you would like to achieve?

2009 Family Organizing Tools Round-Up

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Photo Credit: Kamila Panasiuk

Calendars, planners, and online software change each year so for the back-to-school season, I would like to share with you some of the family planning options available to you for the new 2009 school year.

Let’s start with online planners since these are typically a free option for families. Online tools are ideal for clearing the paper clutter from your life and can be easily shared among family members. When using paper calendars, it can be difficult to get your family all on the same page (so to speak) so online tools can be a great option for making sure everyone is aware of those meetings and appointments.

Here is a quick round-up of our favorite online calendar tools:

Qlubb-This is a fantastic tool for getting people and events organized in your mommy life. Qlubb is a web-based group utility that enables real-world groups to easily connect, share and get stuff done. Qlubb brings all aspects of group interaction to one simple and intuitive place. With event calendaring, sign-up sheets, photo sharing, member rosters, file sharing, task reminder service, and bulletin boards, Qlubb provides all the functions needed to easily and actively participate within a group. This online tool is idea for room parents, club organizers, scout troop leaders, PTO, and playgroup activities.

Google Calendar- This seems to be a favorite among families because it syncs so well with everything in a busy mom’s life. Busy families can easily link to one another’s calendars to avoid scheduling conflicts which makes it a very appealing option. You can import events from other calendar programs like Yahoo! Calendar and Microsoft Outlook. You also can set up multiple calendars for different areas of your life, like one for your daughter’s ballet schedule or one for your weekly night’s out with your girlfriends. Party planning and invitations can be done through the calendar as well as setting up reminders for important events in your life. I love that you can share your calendar with your family (or the world, if you so choose) which should help trigger your spouse’s memory for that dinner with your family that he was so not looking forward to.

Cozi- In my opinion, this is one of the best free online tools that there is. I really just love the look and the feel of this calendar. I loved this calendar when it first came out, but they have made a new recent addition and you can now sync to Outlook, which makes adding events a whole lot easier. This software is made with a mom in mind. It is easy to use, color-coded (for each family member), includes pictures of your sweet little ones, helps you with your grocery list, has calendars with alerts letting you know when your appointments are and you can send love notes to your hubby…all from one central location. Left your grocery list at home? Just call Cozi’s toll-free number from any mobile phone and have your list read to you or sent as a text message.

remember the milk- This site is great for our list-writing mommas. You can make as many lists as you like and no one will tell you to put your notepads away. Into tagging items on your blog? Use the task cloud to easily see what you have to do. Want to store notes along with your tasks? You can do that too. Saving gas is always a priority too and you can use the map feature to see where your tasks are located in the real world. See what’s nearby or on your way, and plan the best way to get things done.

Ta-da Lists- Another great site for the list-writing mommas because that is virtually all this program is. It is simple, it takes about ten seconds to sign up for an account and you can make as many lists as you like. You could also be like, “Ta-da!” and have this open on your computer with a giant list of things you need your spouse to do… you know, if you were that kind of spouse!

Online planning has come a long way, but many families still rely on the good old-fashioned paper calendars to get their days organized. Despite using a computer to manage my business, I am still guilty of indulging in paper organizers to manage our hectic lives.

There are many budget-friendly organizers on the market and I wanted to highlight for you a few of my favorites for managing our schedules:

Family Facts On the Go Organizer & Planner- For the past three years, this has been my calendar of choice for my family. This calendar has everything that I need and is the perfect size to still tuck into my purse. My favorite things about this organizer is that it has tear off corners to mark what week you are on, it has a very durable waterproof cover that can withstand the elements, and it has organizing pockets where I can tuck in business cards or bills that need to be taken care of. The calendar starts in September, getting moms kicked off right to school with a brand new organizer. I have converted many friends over to this organizer because it has all of the tools you need right at your fingertips. (Price- $14.95)

BusyBodyBooks Academic Organizer- If you are attracted to a calendar with simplicity and lots of room to write down schedules, then this is the calendar for you. I would compare this organizer to a paper-format of the Cozi online calendar.

These organizers are roomy and have a weekly grid format with a spacious side by side view of your schedule. Each family member can get their own column of activities, making it easy to see who needs to be where. These columns can accommodate up to five family members on each page.

In addition to your standard calendar, the organizer offers extras like a planning calendar for birthdays and anniversaries, another calendar for the next year’s appointments, shopping lists, pockets to store items, a bookmark to mark what week you are on, and plenty of places to leave extra notes. (Price- $17.59)

BusyBodyBooks Wall Calendar- This calendar offers seven columns to arrange multiple and hectic schedules side by side. If you have less than seven family members, like our family, the other columns are helpful for organizing a chore/work schedule and your family’s menu plans for the week.

Other fun elements that make this calendar a winner is the pocket for storage, a place to start tracking appointments for the next year (no more do you have to write in the margins until you buy your calendar) and a place to keep track of birthdays and important emergency information. I also love that this calendar is spiral-bound so that it can lay completely flat when I am filling it out or when being hung on the wall.

Each week is an an entire page in the wall calendar, offering a generous amount of room for recording all of life’s little details. At the bottom of each page is a section for checklists and note taking. (Price- $14.65)

momAgenda- I keep two separate organizers to manage my business and my home life. For the last year, I have been using my momAgenda to organize everything for my website and I absolutely love it.

This calendar is clean and simple, but very elegantly bound. The calendar pages are set up in such a way that they provide ample room to get all of your scheduling needs in it. Each month has two pages devoted towards the month-at-a-glance and then it is divided by week (two pages per week). The weekly pages offer room to categorize which is very useful for a mom who needs to divide her work and home life or just wants to divide schedules. The book has two ribbon bookmarks to bookmark what week you are on and any area other area in your calendar you would like to keep bookmarked. Each page provides a great motivational quote and there are many other sections within the MomAgenda that make it a great tool for moms. For example, a party-planning section, a place to jot down favorite wines, and even a list of favorite websites.

This is higher priced than the other organizers that are highlighted, but I know many moms would get their money’s worth out of this one. The momAgenda website does, however, offer oodles of free printables that can help you get organized this year including a great back-to-school checklist that I plan to use this year. (Price- $45)

Jumbo Dry Erase Wall Calendar- I love dry erase calendars and go to town color coding everyone and making notes on these. I requested this wall calendar as a gift this past year for Christmas, never glancing at the dimensions when ordering it. When I received this calendar, I was shocked to find that it is about the size of an actual wall. After getting over my initial shock, it has been a great addition to our office to organize everyone’s schedules in one spot. If you have the wall space and a big family, I would recommend this calendar for your busy family. (Price- $14.99)

MomAdvice Weekly Planner- What list would be complete without our free printable weekly planner that we offer? I have heard from many families that this is a tool that they use when managing their busy lives. Unlike most planners, our design leaves just as much room for your weekend as the rest of the week. See all of your appointments, reminders and entire To Do list, all on one page. Fits any standard 8½ x 11″ binder. (Price- FREE)

Family Facts School Years Memento Keeper- While this is not a calendar tool, I absolutely have to highlight this as a way to jot down all of those memories and as a way to keep track of all of those endless papers that are coming home from school.

This memento keeper is thoughtfully put together and is built to last with durable pages and a strong hardback cover to keep all of those precious glitter projects safe.

The book starts with pre-kindergarten and ends with your child’s senior year in high school. For each section, there is a section for information about themselves, a spot for their photo, a place for their school information, summer vacation memories, and special memories from the holidays. There are also clever sections that your child can write their signature, draw a picture of themselves, and memories that their siblings and parents can share about them each year. Thoughtfully placed is a pocket in each section for your child’s favorite mementos, report card, photos, or report card. (Price- $22.95)

Do you use any calendar tools for managing your day? What has been the most successful in your family?

Tips for Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Photo Credit: Thomas Lester

This week I really need to do a deep cleaning of my fridge. The science experiments that are growing in there are quite shameful. Now that you know what I will be up to, I wanted to share with you some tips for cleaning out the refrigerator.

I do not enjoy cleaning out my refrigerator, but it one of those things that must be done. I wait until the day before grocery day to do it though because this is the day where there is the least amount of items that need to be moved around. It is also a great time to check my inventory before making the shopping trip to see if I really do need half the things on my list.

When I clean out the fridge, I break out two dishwashing tubs & a cookie sheet to accomplish this task. I fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water (no need to measure this, just an idea of how much to use). The cookie sheet is used to put all of the condiments on and drawers are emptied into the other dishwashing tub to move items quickly in and out of the fridge.

Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.
I use a rag to do the interior and just get the rag wet with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and wipe off all of the surfaces and interior of the refrigerator. If the washing solution begins to look nasty, be sure to chuck it and get another tub full to clean with.
For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow this to set on the stain and then scrub gently and allow the paste to remove the gunk.
Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink. Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water. Now use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout too. Dry throughly with a terry towel.
Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is just not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub, at this time, to their proper homes.
The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, tiny little fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, use my homemade all-purpose cleaner and spray this on your fridge. I then use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside as it is still gentle on the appliance but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.
If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel. If you have soft water, that won’t show any water marks, you can just use the water to clean the exterior.
Now when was the last time you saw the top of your fridge? You might want to hop up there on occasion and give that a good wiping too. If you have a handheld vacuum, use that to suck up any crumbs and debris. After that, use the all-purpose cleaner and give that a good wiping down too.
Just as a side note, after I clean out my fridge, I also empty the ice out of our icemaker and clean it with the same solution and dump all of the old ice out. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is an easy addition to my routine since I already have everything out.

Photo Credit: Webkim

Additional Tips:
When cleaning out your fridge, always use baking soda and warm water to wipe the insides of your refrigerator and freezers- soap or dishwashing liquid will leave a smell and can taint food.
Once every few months, remove all the food, switch off the refrigerator and wipe down all the surfaces. Defrost the freezer at the same time if necessary.
A box of baking soda can be added to your fridge and freezer to neutralize those smells.

Frugal Momma’s Money-Saving Tip:
Make sure that the door seals on the refrigerator, freezer compartment, or freezer are working efficiently by closing the door on a piece of paper. If the paper can be pulled out easily, the seal is worn and should be replaced.
Make sure to vacuum your refrigerator coils (located on the back of your fridge) twice a year. It is recommended that you do this more often if you have pets in the home. Just use your vacuum with the crevice attachment attached to the vacuum hose and give it a good vacuuming. The coils are located either on the bottom of your fridge or in the rear of your fridge. Doing this will save you money because if these are clean, your fridge won’t have to work as hard lowering your bills!

Suggested Reading:

Tips to Keep White Appliances from Looking Yellow (Warning: This does include bleach so be careful with your floors and clothing!)

Refrigerator Repair & Care

Do you have any tips for cleaning out the refrigerator? How often do you do this task in your house?

Play It Again, Momma: Homemade Gold & Silver Jewelry Cleaners

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I like to keep a little dish by my sink to put my jewelry in while I am doing the dishes. I also love to thrift shop so I put my love for thrift and my little dish together and came up with this cute little idea.

I use a thrifted candle holder to put my jewels in. They look so pretty and, if the edge has a nice lip on it, it is a safe way to keep your jewels out of harms way. It also makes your jewelry a pretty display while you are scrubbing your little heart out and cursing your family for not helping you… or praying- whatever you happen to do while washing the dishes.

And, if you so choose, you could also be cleaning your jewelry while scrubbing your heart (as you curse your family or pray).

Here are two handy little recipes to keep tucked away for that special day!

Homemade Silver Jewelry Cleaner:

In a bowl, place strips of aluminum foil in and place your silver jewelry on top of them. Cover the silver with boiling water and then add three tablespoons of baking soda and soak for ten minutes. Mix remaining hot water and a drop of liquid soap into another glass bowl. Place your silver in the soapy water and wash. Rinse with clean water and polish dry your pieces with a soft cotton cloth. Please take care, some solutions that are great for some metals and stones may damage others.

(Side Note- I use this solution for cleaning all my silver jewelry and have never had any problems. This works like a dream!)

Homemade Gold Jewelry Cleaner:

Fill a small bowl with warm water and a drop of liquid dish soap. Allow this to soak for approximately ten minutes. Proceed to brush the pieces with an eyebrow brush (or a similar substation such as a toothbrush) while they are being soaked. Then you should transfer the gold jewelry to a strainer and then proceed to rinsing it off with warm water. Finish by drying with a soft cotton cloth.

Simplifying Our Cleaning Routine Resource List

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

What a fun interview that was and I want to thank Trish Suhr for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with me. I hope that you learned a lot in that half hour and I enjoyed getting to share all of our giveaways this week too.

Click above to listen to this episode at anytime or visit our sidebar on the left-hand side to listen to the episodes anytime throughout the week.
These episodes are also available in iTunes format for you to take on the go!

Here are some of the resources that were highlighted in today’s episode:

Pledge Cleaning Quiz We uploaded this fun little quiz from Pledge to figure out what type of cleaning habits you have. A huge thank you to Pledge Multi-Surface for sponsoring the giveaways for our show this week.

Clean House- Trish hosts this great show on the Style Network. You can catch the show Wednesdays at 10/9 Central.

Gearing Up for Summer- This article will offer some helpful little tips for getting your house ready as summer quickly approaches. Get that grill gleaming again and tidy up that patio furniture so you can really enjoy your time outside this year.

Spring Cleaning For Today’s Mom- This article offers some insight on how to make that spring cleaning a little more manageable this year.

Happy Homemaking the Homemade Way- If you can’t afford the expensive cleaners, this article will guide you into making cleaners at home that are better for the earth and easier on the wallet!

On next week’s show…

Next week we will be joined by Charlene, from My Frugal Adventures, who will be sharing with us her tips on choosing a budget-friendly wine. Charlene has over nine years of experience in the wine industry and brings with that a lot of knowledge on how to spot the best deals on great wines, what pitfalls to watch out for when choosing a wine, and how to care for/store wine so it will last longer.

MomAdvice Simplified: Simplifying Our Cleaning Routines

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

On MomAdvice Simplified, we are joined by Trish Suhr, the amazing co-host of “Clean House” on the Style Network, to help offer us tips on keeping our homes in tip top shape. Trish has some great tips for making our homes the sanctuaries that they should be and offers valuable advice on ditching the clutter in our homes so we can truly enjoy it. Trish is lovely and dynamic and I had the best time interviewing her. Talking to her was like chatting with an old friend and I hope you will enjoy this interview half as much as I enjoyed conducting it!

This podcast airs weekly at 2PM EST each Thursday. Due to Trish’s busy schedule, we did have to pre-record the interview portion, but we will be offering a great giveaway for five of our listeners sponsored by Pledge Multi Surface.

MomAdvice Simplified: Simplifying Home Organization

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

This week on MomAdvice Simplified, my weekly podcast for moms, we will be joined by Stephanie Vozza, the Founder of The Organized Parent and organizational expert, and she will be giving us simple and affordable techniques and tools that moms can used to stay organized in our home.

Stephanie knows that most mothers have been in the workplace (or still are) before their “mom lives” began. She also recognizes that in corporate and home offices, there are tools and standard practices to structure a workday. But when it comes to organizing your personal life, it’s every mom for herself!

Stephanie is going to guide us in this journey towards getting our mom lives as organized as our corporate lives were. That podcast will be airing today at 2PM EST so if you are looking to get your life organized again, be sure to tune in for that episode.

Just for our listeners, we will be giving away a product from The Organized Parent to one lucky caller. Please tune in for this fun and exclusive giveaway!