Tag Archives: homekeeping

28 Days to Hope for your Home (e-book Review and Giveaway)

Keeping a home has always been… what should I call it? …an impossibility a struggle a challenge for me. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my mom’s attitude. Bless the woman, but she had a poor attitude towards staying home, keeping house, taking care of children; she bitterly resented not having a career outside the home. (I know, Mom’s not to blame for the mess I’m in — I take total responsibility. But drawing on my experience, I realize the vital importance of training our daughters to smooth their way in the future.)

I remember hearing her say, more than once, that she was raising her daughters to “have a good career and pay someone else to do the drudge work.” While we were off at school, the house magically cleaned itself. Well, really, I know it didn’t, but I saw little of the process. When I went off to college, my roommate had to teach me how to use the washer and dryer in the dorm basement.

My Saturday job was cleaning the bathroom. I grew up knowing how to clean a bathroom!

Since I loved chocolate chip cookies, I tended to hang around when Mom baked them. (She did most of her baking, too, when we were at school, but there were a few times I remember adding ingredients to the mixing bowl under her direction, turning on the mixer, scooping out spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a greased baking sheet…) My cooking skills were pretty limited when I left home. My repertoire included the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies, milkshakes in the blender, sandwiches, and heating up canned soup.

My older sister taught me a few more skills, the year we shared an apartment (some years later). She was quite a good cook, and I learned a lot from her about taking basic ingredients and turning them into good food. I also learned a little about keeping an apartment clean with an intensive weekend cleaning session, but not a whole lot about daily upkeep. I certainly wasn’t in charge and didn’t give housekeeping any thought; I just did what my sister said to do.

Over the years of having my own home, I’ve been frustrated by the difference between how I’d like the house to look, and reality. I can’t tell you how many how-to-keep-house books I’ve read over the years. I finally came to the conclusion that I know all the theory, but reading isn’t going to get the house clean so much as doing.

I’d try, in spurts, and burn myself out pretty quickly. I tried different systems. Some worked better than others (Sidetracked Home Executives was one, and FlyLady was another), but if I got sick or life got busy I couldn’t keep it up. Not to mention my lack of self-discipline (I need a bumper sticker that says I’d Rather Be Reading) or cluelessness about setting up a cleaning schedule and sticking to it. Add to that the clutter (mostly paper and books) that keeps adding up, and you’ve got a problem. I mean, I have a problem. So does my family. I’m not the only one who didn’t learn how to keep a house from my mom — my daughters are in danger of the same thing, for different reasons!

28_Days_to_Hope_web-286x300Then along came A Slob Comes Clean. (Yes, I was still reading about cleaning, more than actually doing it. However, my reading had changed from books to the Internet.) I read the title of Dana White’s book with a jaded eye: 28 Days to Hope for your Home. Yeah, right, I said to myself. I’ve seen this kind of thing before. Only, this was different. It wasn’t promising a clean house in 28 days, it wasn’t promising a clean house with no effort, nor a house that (practically) cleans itself. This book was promising hope. Believe me, when you’re feeling desperate, hope sounds good.

Just reading about the book at the webpage was different. I got the feeling that Dana knew exactly how I felt. (In chatspeak: BTDT.) Moreover, she wasn’t offering a spotless house in 28 days. She was offering four habits. Four. Would four habits really make that much difference?

Like I said, I was desperate. I bought it and downloaded it to my Kindle. (I don’t have a Kindle, mind — I would like to, someday, but that’s another story — but I do have a Kindle app on my PC.)

I read the Introduction. Well, okay, Dana calls it something else, but it serves as an introduction of sorts, taking you gently by the hand and leading you into the meat of the book. Which, for meat, is (figuratively speaking) already cut up into small bits, set out on the highchair tray, ready and waiting.

(Let me make this clear: I am not saying that the author’s tone is demeaning or that I got the feeling she was talking down. Rather, she was rolling up her sleeves, getting ready to get into the trenches right alongside me, after already having been there at the start of her own battle. I’m mixing my metaphors between battle-hardened soldiers and highchairs, but, as FlyLady so eloquently puts it, Baby Steps…)

I shook my head, reading Day 1. This is too simple, I thought. It’s not gonna work. It’s just too simple.

Nevertheless, I rolled up my sleeves — see, Dana, I’m not just reading but doing and following your example — and I did the assignment for Day 1. I must admit, I peeked ahead and read through the first half of the book before I could restrain myself and return to trying this program as it was designed, one step at a time.

As I went through the first week, I got the eerie feeling that Dana was right there with me, reading my mind. (Well, in a sense… she really has been there. That’s why this book has worked for me as well as it has. She understands my mindset, because her mind appears to run along in a similar fashion. Poor woman.)

By the end of the second week, something was working. I wasn’t sure exactly what. Having little-to-no homemakerly instinct made it difficult to realize that, while I was doing so little that was different from the way I’d managed (or rather, not managed) before, new habits were being laid down, and (let’s mix in another metaphor for variety, shall we?) dominoes were beginning to cascade. In slow motion, but one domino had knocked against another, and… We’re talking hope, here.

So I made the book assigned reading for the girls.

I knew I was on to something when one of them said, “Wow, Mom, this sounds doable.”

Let the training begin.

Dana has a new book out, which I haven’t read yet, called Drowning in Clutter? (It’s on my list. Yes, we’ve graduated from the 28 Days program, after several re-starts, and we’re decluttering, in fits and starts as we work around debate tournament schedules and flu epidemics.) Anyhow (almost distracted myself, but whew, I got back on track), you can get both e-books together for a discounted price.

Right now, Dana is offering a special discount to my readers. Click here to go to the order page for 28 Days to Hope for your Home. Use the special code SWEET to get either e-book for $4 or the pair for $6. This deal is good until midnight, 2/6/2013, so if you’ve been looking at one or both of these titles, it’s a good time to order.

******************* But I promised a giveaway! *******************

…so here it is. Leave a comment below, and on Valentine’s Day I will draw a name for a free copy of 28 Days to Hope for your Home. If you decide you can’t wait and go ahead and buy the book and not wait for the drawing, Dana has promised to refund your purchase price if you win. Please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win. Comments are moderated, so your email will remain private.

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Disclaimer: In a burst of desperation, I bought 28 Days to Hope for your Home. I did not receive a free copy for review, nor will I receive any compensation for writing this review. However, the links in the review are affiliate links, so if you buy the e-book by clicking on a link in this post, I will receive a portion of the sale, which (if I didn’t mention it before) I hope to add to what I’m saving to buy a Kindle. Thanks!

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First Thing Monday Morning: A Day Late, and…

…do you remember the rest of that old saying? (a dollar short, in case you were wondering)

It reflects the frustration of missing an important deadline because you forgot to record the date on your calendar, or you forgot to look at the calendar, or (if you’re like me) you looked at the calendar but at the wrong week!

Yesterday I was the poster child for people who are calendar challenged. I got a call early, saying that there was no play practice that morning. That was certainly a relief, because I had not gotten word in the first place that an extra play practice was (as it turns out, it was not) scheduled. I glanced at the calendar and went on with my day…

…virtuously staying away from the computer because I was going to get some neglected things done.

(things can get neglected when you struggle with time-related issues, like calendars and schedules, and self-discipline issues, like routines)

Boy, did I feel good.

right on up to the point (about 5:30 pm) where I realized what day it actually was, and that I’d missed an important annual event put on by our homeschool group, something we’d all been looking forward to for weeks.

I’m still kicking myself. This is after kicking myself all yesterday evening, diving into housework (scrubbing is a great outlet for anger and frustration) and throwing a grown-up sort of tantrum — which involves, first, badmouthing oneself out loud, and then when the kids protest, taking it private. The problem with this solution is that it doesn’t really solve anything or prevent future flakiness.

I have got — at this late date — to establish routines, to get my physical surroundings under control, for starters. I’m so distracted and distractable, I’m feeling less and less of use to anyone (including myself).

One of the reasons for First Thing Monday Morning is accountability, a way to stay on track, though of course you have to get on the track before you can have any hope of staying there. Another reason is to share resources that have helped me. This week’s planned-but-not-scheduled-ahead-of-time (I’m learning to do this but I got busy last week and my scheduled blogging time on the weekend didn’t happen) was to be a book review. There’s this mom who’s written an e-book about getting on track. I got the eerie feeling while reading, that we were twins separated at birth.

The book is called 28 Days to Hope for Your Home and has a subtitle of (not for the mildly disorganized). If you want a preview, you can go to this link and see what I read when I first stumbled across the book. (FYI, that link is an affiliate link. If you were to decide to buy the book through that link, I’d get a little pocket money. And thank you.) You can read her latest blog post here. (Not an affiliate link. Just in case you were wondering.)

If you’re desperate and want to get started now, and not wait for the book review, you can get the e-book. I’m not trying to hold you to a schedule. (Just me.)

I bought and downloaded her book in a moment of desperation, and have been applying it for about ten days now. It’s helping. Things are getting better around here. I’ve even started the girls reading the book; they need it as much as I do. But I don’t have time today to give the book justice, so here’s the plan: this week I’m going to be working on next week’s post (imagine that, thinking ahead) and First Thing next week you’ll see a book review. (If the creek don’t rise… as my sister-in-law is fond of saying.)

So, since we started talking about calendars and how slippery and difficult to manage they can be… we’ll wrap up with talking about calendars. How do you manage yours? What are your favorite tips for keeping your schedule straight? Share them here in a comment, or link up at Blogger.

Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom, revisited

In case you thought I meant myself, well…

That’s so not me. But I’m working hard at it. Have been spending three hours a day, once our schedule emptied out for the summer, going through the piles. Dejunk, recycle, donate, you name it.

Letting go

One of the things I’ve had to let go is my perfectionism (Down, I tell you! Down!) It would be really nice, say, to have a garage sale of all the stuff we’re getting rid of. However, I realized that such a thing would be a downer, a drag, in other words, putting on the brakes. It would add a level of organization to a job that is, frankly, almost overwhelming. You stuff your house full of two decades worth of accumulation, with only two real dejunking sessions over that span of time, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Sono Harris, with her annual (or was it every six months?) purge, had a better idea.

If it must be done, ’twere better done quickly

No, I have to get the stuff out of the house quickly, while my resolve is firm. Having it pile up in the garage, waiting for a yard sale, is too much of an energy drain.

Recycle — for budget-friendly dejunking

It’s as much as I can stand to recycle, and the main reason I do that is that recycling gets hauled away “for free” while additional trash bags (if they don’t fit in the trash can) generate a fee of about $10 each. A dumpster is several hundred dollars. It’s amazing how much you can cut down the trash going out for collection if you separate out the paper and plastic. Oh, and it fits with today’s environmental focus, too.

I’m really good at sorting. It’s the “getting rid of” or “letting go” that has stymied me to this point. Recycling is sorting, so it’s not that hard. Storing up treasure for a garage sale is a sort of extended “letting go” that I know I can’t manage at this point. Maybe once I’m organized I can do a regular purge-and-garage-sale, but I know I’d just be throwing an obstacle in my way if I tried to do it during this huge take-back-the-house campaign.

Got to keep the momentum going.

(If you, on the other hand, want to profit from your purging, go for it. I hear that it’s a good idea to price as you go — then you don’t have to go through that pile of stuff in the garage yet another time and make more decisions. Either that, or hold a sale on a donation basis. Let people offer what they think an item is worth.)

I’m not going to offer before-and-after pictures on the blog. While I’ve found these motivating, on other blogs, I don’t really want to show the world all my clutter. You’ll just have to take my word for it. There’s a lot of it around, sitting in piles. Some of the piles are neat. Some piles are hiding in boxes, masquerading as organized clutter. (There’s an oxymoron for you.)

And for another thing, I can’t find the charger for my camera battery. I’m hoping it will emerge sooner than later, as the clutter gets moved out of here.

Confessions of an Organized Mom" blog

Not mine. From "Confessions of an Organized Mom" blog. Mine may look this bad. Or worse. Or maybe not as bad. But it's getting better. (Monty Python, anyone?)

In other news, the Organized Homeschool Mom blog has moved, so I thought I’d post the updated link for your convenience. Good stuff there.

Happy organizing! Is that an oxymoron, too? Well, no, I don’t think so. Though I used to have anxiety attacks when I’d try to get rid of stuff, this time, it’s getting easier to let go with each load that leaves the house. We can talk more about that later, I hope.

Natural cleaners

I was going to do a post using the Simple Woman’s Daybook prompts, but ran out of time. Then I thought about doing a Gratituesday post, but again, while I have more blessings than I can count, I have no more online time today!

So instead, I’ll post a link to an article I just printed out, about natural cleaners. Looks like some good recipes, some of them similar to what I’m already using.

The reason I went searching for info on natural cleaners today, was because I still use bleach in one area… no, two areas.

1) laundry – specifically, unmentionables. Those things can really use disinfecting. I’d like to do something else. I’ve heard of using hydrogen peroxide or tea tree oil, but never specifics, like how many drops (of the oil) per load, and if you need to dilute it in anything before adding, or how much peroxide to add per load. Help?

2) kitchen sink – My kitchen sink is white porcelain, and it can get pretty stained. Every few months I’ll fill it to the brim with hot water and add a cup of bleach, then let it soak for an hour or more (often when we’re going to be away from home). I first got this tip from the FlyLady, and it works beautifully. Doesn’t scratch my old sink, either. How else to get the stains out?

If you have any insights, please share! (How much tea tree oil, for example, or how much peroxide, or would peroxide work to make my sink white and shiny, or is there something else?)

Making a Home, update

Well, we got some of the living room done, and we really did have a yummy dinner: baked chicken and rice and stir-fried kale. Added bonus: cleaned out my refrigerator yesterday, even though it wasn’t on my list. Something spilled, and so I hauled everything off that shelf and cleaned, and one thing led to another, and pretty soon… Well, the inside of my fridge is now clean and organized. Sure makes cooking easier.

I know I’ve mentioned Mrs. Clean’s website before, but I was just poking through the printable checklists this morning, needing a more organized approach to our cleaning routine, and once again I found the lists and advice for tackling various cleaning jobs to be motivating and encouraging.

 

Cleaning resource!

Stumbled across this site today while looking up berry stains — that is, how to get berry stains out of clothing. How did the berry stains get on the clothes, you ask? Not because we were berry picking, sad to say. (mmm, fresh U-picked organic strawberries… am going to have to organize a trip soon)

No, for some reason there was a packet of berry jam on the car seat, and someone sat down on it, and the rest is history.

Anyhow, after reading through the berry stain treatment, I did a little exploring and was very please to find information on cleaning with natural ingredients.

Chore planning resource

Since January’s a great time to work on getting organized, I’m going to be focusing on some of the websites and tools available, at least for the next week or two.

Motivated Moms has a planner available in several formats. They’ve taken all the typical home chores and spread them out through the calendar year, and included a few extra personal-care things, like taking your vitamins. You can get it with or without a Bible reading plan built in.

I’ve used this planner for a few years. Sometimes I’m good about it, and sometimes it goes by the wayside for a week or month or more. I admit it, I’m scattered. If I were more methodical, I might not need a chore planning calendar. On the other hand, there’s something about checking off items on a checklist, that even my born-organized friends seem to appreciate.

I was going to try to go without their planner this year, but I’m already finding that without their prompts I’ve forgotten to water my plants. I’d sigh, but the tool is available, after all, and it’s not too spendy ($8 for a year), so I should count my blessings, bite the bullet (to mix a few metaphors), and use it.

Yes, I just now bought and downloaded the PDF file, and I’m printing out the page for this week. Here’s a sample of what I bought. They have samples of their other products, too (just scroll to the bottom of the page at the link). There’s even an app in the App Store (I have no idea what that means, being still in the dark ages so far as cell phones is concerned). They used to offer the out-of-date planner for free, but I don’t see that on their website now. (Could be there and I’m missing it, or could be they left it off.)

Anyhow, I heard somewhere that when you check things off a checklist, something in your brain releases feel-good chemicals, serotonin or something like that. If you need a checklist to help you keep your plants from dying of thirst, to remind you of myriad homekeeping details (albeit in bite-sized pieces, a few things a day, to keep the whole thing from being overwhelming), or just to get the serotonin flowing, it’s a good tool.