10 Easy Rules to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

10 Easy Rules to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

For those of you that know me personally, you know what an organization freak I am. Every now and then, someone asks me how I do it. Instead of spending a couple hours going over every single thing, I decided to make a list of my most important cleaning and organization rules.

When you see something out of place, take the 2 seconds it would take to fix it. For example, each time you put the groceries away is a perfect time to clean out the fridge. Throw away the empty carton of eggs before putting the new one in, pour the last of the ranch dressing into the new bottle you just purchased, wipe the spilled milk crusties off the shelf before replacing the new gallon, throw out the left-overs from last week, etc. Another example: when you’re having the children put their laundry away, teach them how to put the clothes nicely in their drawers in neat piles and fix those clothes that got unfolded in that mornings rush hour!

When ever you buy something new, throw out the old. Simple rule: when you buy a new pair of black pumps, get rid of the old pair. When you buy a new bra, get rid of one old one. When you get new socks, get rid of any with holes.

Never put anything away dirty. This is especially important in the kitchen. Never put your appliances away dirty. After each use wipe off the entire appliance with a clean rag, and don’t forget the cord.

Have a place for your dish rags. There is nothing worse than the smell of a dirty dish rag! Purchase a few hooks for underneath your kitchen sink. After each use: rinse, ring and hang your rag on the hook. This allows you to use the rag for 2-3 days without the stench. Also, keep a set of disinfecting wipes handy for bacteria.

Keep cleaning supplies in every bathroom and your kitchen. Keeping paper towels, disinfecting wipes, window cleaner, toilet cleaner under each sink allows you to clean on the spot. This is why: bathroom mirrors get dirty very easily, yet on the way to get the cleaner from the hall closet, you get side track by another project and the mirrors don’t get done. But if you had the cleaner under the sink, how easy would it be to clean the mirror real quick as soon as you splashed toothpaste all over it? By the way, a clean mirror can fool any one in to thinking your bathroom is clean! (I only keep paper towels & disinfecting wipes under my kitchen sink). Make sure to “child proof” those cabinets if you have little children at home.

squeegee-on-showerUse a squeegee on your shower after each use. If each person who uses the shower would take the time to do this, it would cut down on hard water stains. Which means, much less time scrubbing the shower. Plus, your shower can go a little longer between scrubbings.

Never go to bed in a mess and never leave home in a mess. You get home from work, make dinner, and just want to relax. That’s fine. However, don’t go to bed leaving clutter every where. Then you have to wake up to the mess, and you find your day has already started off on the wrong foot. Take the time after dinner to do the dishes. Make the kids help. Then set the timer for 15 minutes and have all family members help straighten up. You will be amazed at how much gets done in 15 minutes with every family member helping! The same rule applies when you leave the house in the morning (it shouldn’t be that bad if your family did the 15 minutes the night before) and before you leave to go out of town.

Make your bed every day! Every bed in the house should be made every day. Even children as small as 3 can help make their own bed. Make it part of the morning routine. As soon as each member of the family rolls out of bed, the first thing they do is make their bed!

Prepare the night before. Check your calendar, then get lunches made, lay out clothes, load the backpacks, etc. Any thing that can be done the night before—do it! Mornings run so much smoother if things are prepared and there is no reason for panic.

Choose a mop cloth that can be washed. Don’t use the traditional sponge or rag mops. Then you have to find a place for them to hang dry, they are very hard to keep sanitary, and you must replace them often. Plus, you have to have a mop bucket or you use your sink…YUK! By choosing a mop cloth that is detachable, you can machine wash and dry the pad. You don’t have to waste money buying disposable or replacement pads.

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Not Back At It

Not Back At It

I have to apologize for not updating my blog in such a long time. For those of you who know me on a more personal level, you understand my struggle with chronic lower back pain for the past few years. It finally got to the point where Ibuprofen and heating pads simply weren’t cutting it. It was affecting my job, family, and normal day to day stuff.

After going extended periods of time without a full night’s sleep, I finally decided enough is enough. Trying to figure out how to sleep with lower back pain was a constant struggle. My biggest issue was that most of my life, I’ve been a stomach sleeper. I’ve now learned that is the absolute worst position to sleep in. It hasn’t been easy but I’m gradually turning into a side sleeper after going through some trial and error and finally finding a comfortable pillow (2 words… shredded latex!).

One of the best things I’ve bought is an acupressure mat. I’ve always wanted to try acupuncture for my back pain but we simply can’t afford it since insurance won’t cover it. While the acupressure mat is obviously not the same thing, it’s a similar idea. You literally lay on a mat which has hundreds of sharp plastic spikes on them. It’s such a weird feeling. It’s slightly painful but in a good way. The first time I laid on it, I started picturing the tiny spikes going through my skin and thinking I’d get up covered in blood. Well, the spikes never actually break skin but it causes blood to flow to that part of the body which also releases endorphins. It’s a fantastic way of quick pain relief. Too bad it’s only temporary.

inversion-tableI’ve also been doing a lot of research on inversion therapy. For those that don’t know, inversion therapy is when you lay on special inversion table where you lock your feet into place and literally rotate the table until you are hanging partially (or fully) upside down. It’s mainly used for those with bulging or herniated discs. The idea is that we put so much pressure on our spines during the day (sitting, standing, walking), that by hanging upside down, the pressure on our spine is reversed and can actually “decompress” (add more space between) the joints in the spine. So, do inversion tables work? Well I’ve only been using my table for a couple days but it really feels like it’s helping a bit. I’m not quite to the point of being completely inverted (still need to get used to the feeling) but it’s getting easier each time.

My doctor and I have already discussed the possibility of surgery for my bulging discs but back surgery is not something I want to make a quick decision on. I’m committed to first exhaust other treatment options if I can. If anyone has had any success with a particular treatment for their back, I’d love to hear from you. I hope to make a new post in the near future that my lower back issues are a thing of the past.

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Ugh. We have a leak!

Ugh. We have a leak!

You know how as a homeowner you can sometimes feel like something is about to stop working? Well it happened and it wasn’t pretty. I guess that’s the life of home ownership. Everything is fine one minute and then the next minute you’re freaking out because something’s busted, you don’t have a clue what to do, and all you can think about is what the damage will be at the end.

Ok, so our water heater is older than our teenage daughter but still… when you find your water heater is leaking in your basement, it comes off as a shock. I tried convincing myself it must have been something else like condensation or something but my husband set me straight and we knew our water heater was toast. Fortunately, we have a water shutoff valve within easy reach so at least the damage can be contained.

Turns out that the water heater had been leaking ever so slightly for a few weeks. We couldn’t quite pinpoint where it was leaking from since it was a REALLY slow leak. We checked the usual home improvement forums and a few plumbing related sites. After going through diagnosing the water leak, we narrowed it down to the leak somewhere near the bottom of the tank. The hope was that it would be a simple fix like the drain valve but unfortunately, it appears to be the tank itself. Shouldn’t really come off as a surprise since the water heater is so old but it wasn’t the conclusion we were hoping for.

Now my husband is a pretty handy guy but replacing a gas water heater is not really in his comfort zone. We decided to bite the bullet and let the pros do the install once we found a new water heater. I figure I’ll do some research and find a good deal on a high efficiency water heater and we’ll actually be able to lower our energy bills. We’re not planning on moving anytime soon so I’m not really stressing about the cost since it will end up paying for itself.

We did end up looking into a new tankless model (which we’ve heard good things about) but at about $5k? Ummm… no thanks. We’ll be just fine with another giant tank in the basement. There are actually quite a few different water heater types including these “hybrid” models which weren’t really that much more than a normal unit but it wouldn’t work for our application without a whole lot of modification ($$$). So, standard 50-gallon gas model it is.

Ended up getting a good deal at Lowes even though I tried my best getting a better deal online. Who would have thought that a big, heavy, appliance would be expensive to ship across the country. Right? Instead of using Lowe’s professional services to do the install, we contacted a local plumber who agreed to do the install a couple hundred less that Lowes. The plumber ended up picking up the water heater the next day and installing it in a couple hours. I wouldn’t recommend finding a water heater leak just as the weather is getting colder but going a day and a half without hot water wasn’t the end of the world.

 

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Our Trip to Maui

Our Trip to Maui

Long time to hear from me and I apologize for that. Lots of things going have been going on. Recently me, my hubby and kids took a trip to Maui, Hawaii. It started like this… last month we were looking for a great vacation spot to unwind and relax, away from the hustle and bustle of every day life in our city. We had several vacation spots in mind, like in Florida, and Colorado– but in the end, after a lot of thinking and planning, me and my husband decided on Maui as our final destination. It seemed like the perfect (read: WARM) spot!

Apart from the beautiful Hawaiian scenery, sun-kissed hills, lovely breath-taking views, and endless dining and sight-seeing options, I think a lot of our decision came from the fact that we both visited Maui as kids and loved it. We wanted this to be a great time for our kids – not just us! So, the time came for us to pack up and leave for our trip.

mauiThe first few days we stayed at a hotel right next to the beach. I took advantage of this time to take my 8 year old daughter for swimming and snorkeling lessons that first day. The life guard even gave a class on beach safety and talked about using a life jacket to keep safe. It was valuable information that we were able to use while at the beach. That said, I did a lot of research on my own before our trip. According to lifejacketadvisor.com, 90% of drownings happen near the shore. That was surprising since I always thought it was out at sea on a boat.

Per a close friend’s recommendation, we went to the local Costco and purchased a couple life jackets for the kids instead of renting them. The best life jacket for a 50 pound child is supposedly the Stohlquist and they happened to have a good deal on it. We picked up two, a smaller size for m. (we ended up reselling them before we went home for only a slight loss… much cheaper than renting for the entire week)

Anyway, our next location to continue our tropical vacation was at an exceptional resort in West Maui. I had the opportunity to spend time at some unique places while there – like the Art Collection Tour, which is home to one of the biggest corporate art displays in all of Hawaii! The lady that showed me around directed me to some ancient artifacts from an old ship that dated back to the early 1700s. Alana, my oldest, was so thrilled to see all the historical items. She loves history!

We were treated like royalty at the Royal Feast Sunset Dinner Cruise. The view was just incredible. We were helped to a meal of grilled carp and tropical rice, and for dessert we had pineapple soufflé.

Next, was the West Maui Molokai Helicopter Tour. Myself, and my hubby and 2 kids got to see all kinds of breath-taking views from the helicopter. We must have taken a ton of photos of the water, the hills, trees, and beautiful tropical leaves that sprinkled the land.

I can’t forget about the trip to Hot Island Glass, where we got a tour of the glass blowing facility, and got to see many of the beautiful finished products. There were so many different kinds of vases, decorative glasses and fancy plates to admire. I even got to pick one out to display in my home!

Although my 2 year old, is a bit young to appreciate the entire experience, she did enjoy herself. And our family is sure to share the memories for years to come.

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The Trim Healthy Mama Craze

The Trim Healthy Mama Craze

I often tell myself, “time to go on a diet”, then I eat everything in sight. Has this happened to you? I do not know why I can’t use the word DIET; I just think the word gives me a negative mindset. I know I need to lose a few pounds and I have come to the conclusion that losing weight in my mid-thirties is a lot more difficult than in my twenties.

In reality, I need to lose more than a few pounds. I can’t even share the number of pounds I should lose without blushing. I just kept telling myself I was just still carrying around the extra weight from having a baby. My youngest is now two; my oldest is eight. I really can’t hide behind the baby weight excuse anymore. As I stare at my husband, I realize he could lose a few pounds too. I do not want to give you the impression he is overweight; he just seems to be carrying a few extra pounds around his mid-section.

So, I have decided to create a new mindset, “time to get healthy”. If I focus on the need to get healthy, I will not use the dreaded “diet” word. Focusing on eating and living is not just for me, I want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that will give me a better chance of seeing my two children, graduate from high school, go to college and eventually marry the person of their dreams. If I had the money and time to do so, I’d totally look into how to become a certified nutritionist, especially after seeing how much a nutrition can make. Maybe some day…

After spending an afternoon researching and talking to a few friends, I decided the Trim Healthy Mama plan was the right option for me. I had not heard of this type of plan before I began my research. Honestly, I think the title attracted me at first. Of course, it could be a typically fad diet but something about it seems a bit different from the norm.

Fooled Ya Pizza (YUM!)

Fooled Ya Pizza (YUM!)

One of the greatest aspects of this program is eating delicious food. Normally, when I heard the word “diet”, I envisioned tiny servings of tasteless food. With the Trim Healthy Mama plan, I am able to make all sorts of delicious foods. The portions are not small; the whole concept is eating the right food combination to help lose and maintain my specific goal. I also like the fact; I do not have to count calories. Counting calories always made me feel like a failure every time I would go past the recommended intake amount.

Convincing my husband was a difficult task in the beginning. But after the first week of trying Crabby Patties, Zucchini Fires, Volcano Mud Slide Muffin and the Sunday Crock Pot Roast, he was more willing get on board with the new healthy eating mindset.

Even though we have just started this journey, I am hopeful for a positive, healthier lifestyle.  I like the fact that the book includes references and verses from the Bible. The fact that two sisters started this program and succeeded, give me hope. I like the fact that the program was designed by real women who know the struggles of trying to lose weight.

I recently spotted the most amazing red dress that I want to wear for my anniversary party in six months. For me, having a goal of fitting into the dress and surprising my husband helps me stay on track.

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