Category Archives: workarounds

New Ideas About Cleaning

Aside from the PTSD, bad habits and panic attacks, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had one other major problem about cleaning up the house. No one ever taught me how! This means that no one ever showed me the “right” order to do things. I was taught at boarding school how to make a bed, clean a toilet or trash can, but not how to make a schedule or plan to cover the basics, regularly.

And, I admit, that doing anything regularly wouldn’t have happened anyway, because of the panic attacks. Cleaning is like writing a novel or any other longer piece, you have to keep slogging away at it I’ve found. Difficult for me, if not impossible for much of my life.

That said, I have discovered a few things:

  1. Always clean more than you have to. That is, if the dishes are done and you have 1 item in the sink, find a candlestick or decorative something to clean too. This also applies to sweeping the kitchen, putting clothes away, whatever. Especially if the chores aren’t involved or big, add something minor. Cleaning the bath counter? Wipe down the box on the shelf, etc. etc. etc.
  2. Hard surfaces, impervious to water are the easiest to clean; where soft surfaces, which absorb water are the hardest.
  3. Clean the areas used the most more than others.
  4. Clean the most obvious areas first. (I have [had?] a tendency to clean closets and drawers when the urge to clean hit me. Before I realized the clutter was what I needed to feel safe, it was dumbfounding to me that I could spend a whole day cleaning and you couldn’t tell. This is, of course, backwards from the way most people work. And that’s the reason why those “toss this” lists really didn’t work for me.
  5. Find whatever works for you and run with it. I spent DECADES trying to use flylady or other cleaning plans, and couldn’t.  This caused more of the internal I’m stupid, flawed, and just screwed up mantra.  I figured “Of course this doesn’t work for me and it does for Mary or Jo. It’s me after all.” I finally accepted that I couldn’t adopt someone else’s plans, I had to come up with my own — in my 60s!

I Do This — Do You?

I buy used durable goods, like blankets.  We have quite a few blankets, almost none of which were bought new. A few were, one’s an heirloom, but more were bought used, especially the wool ones. I love wool blankets, and even used they’re rarely cheap!

So, buying a blanket with moth holes, or missing its binding, is not new for me. I’d rather pile them on the bed and just enjoy the warmth, rather than be bent out of shape because I can’t find the perfect piece.

I was thinking about this because I’d just looked at a few sites pushing the idea of buying something only once. That by buying quality items, then the inevitable replacement isn’t necessary. I like the idea, and as I was going through the blankets today I was thinking about it:

  • Two of the blankets I bought new in 1984. They were replacements of two blankets I’d bought the year before and had taken to the dry cleaners, which burned down before I got them. So, I got another pair. The plastic carrier for one of them has split and was put into the trash today. I can store both of them in the other carrier when I put them away next spring.
  • Two LL Bean Polartec blankets we bought shortly after we got here. They’re over 20 years old. The used-to-be-feral kitty loves Polartec, all happy claw kneading and deafening purrs, so whichever one we aren’t using is her current bed.
  • We have a hand-quilted matelese piece which is literally falling apart. This is one of those supremely comfortable pieces you fight the guy to get rid of. We got it at auction about 10 years ago.
  • We have another hand-quilted blanket which DH’s grandmother made. (She made enough quilts for all the grandchildren.) It’s starting to wear, but we’ve had it 30+ years now.
  • There are 3 wool blankets, (white, pink, green) with moth holes. I got these at a church sale on the seacoast 6 years ago. I intend to actually felt these this year, somehow that just hasn’t gotten done.
  • Finally, there’s a plaid wool blanket I got last year from an antique store. It’s nearly the same colors as the 3 wool blankets from the church sale. I felted it right after I got it. Works fine.

The first blankets weren’t cheap, but we’ve had them 30 years, so how much is that? I don’t remember how much the Polartec blankets were, but they’re weren’t cheap either. The others were all cheaper and bought second hand.

Buying used stuff makes it harder to get matchy-matchy if that’s what you want (not my thing).

I have 4 duvet covers, which is quite a lot for just one bed, ‘eh?

We bought one this year and it wasn’t cheap, but we’ve been looking at buying linen sheets. We want to stop buying sheets for at least 5 years. [Buying used sheets is a crapshoot. You get something wonderful which lasts every now and then, or you get a sheet you put your feet through the second time you use it.]

Sheets are insanely expensive for what they are. Okay. If I’m going to have to spend premium money, I want premium goods which won’t need to be replaced in two years! So, we got a duvet with linen content, as a test. Without a quilt in it, we used it as a top sheet this summer to see if we hated the feel of the fabric (No.) We plan to use it as a regular duvet cover this winter.

Two of the duvet covers are home made (not by me) from sheets. I got these used, somewhere, don’t know when. I don’t use them as duvet covers, but heavy pieces of cloth over veggies in the car on the way back from the farm, to haul laundry, etc.

The last duvet cover is a fancy Umbra one we got at BB& B, on last markdown, about 9 years ago. It’s spring green and I break it out mid-winter when I’m completely sick of white, mud brown, black, gray, drab and other grim wintery colors. Combating those winter blues!

So I buy a few premium new pieces and keep them for decades, or buy good used things — and keep them for decades. I’d love to have the $ to just go out and buy premium stuff if I wanted to, but I’d miss the hunt and satisfaction I get from knowing I’ve paid little for something which will help me be a happy non-consumer.

One reason I went through the linen collection this week was to determine WHEN I need to start worrying about buying sheets? When we do, I’ll go looking for linen content, but in the meantime, what we have should last another year or more. The same is true of duvet covers and blankets.

We have one bedspread. I will probably sell it. The duvet covers work just fine.


Tues. 9/26 Five, with one left over

  1. Work on the wood piles (also on to do list).
  2. Change the sheets. Examine the flannel sheets to see if any need to be purchased! 9:50 a.m.
  3. Put out the grass seed on the north side and cover with landscape cloth, as planned.1st piece graded, composted, watered, and cloth put down. 4:50 p.m.
  4. Reorganize the linen closet.10 a.m. also culled the sheets, top/bottom and pillow cases. Yay — less clutter!
  5. Inventory vinegars: do we have enough cleaning vinegar and other types? Any which need to be discarded? (Unlikely.) 2:30 p.m.
  6. Work on the Christmas ornaments again, now that I have pins! (Couldn’t find mine last week.) 1:30 p.m.

Also: did a partial cleaning of the bath yesterday, that should be finished today.

Tomorrow is dump day, so any prep for doing a major cull or starting one will be to my benefit tomorrow!

The sheet cull generated a pile of too small sheets to be sold, turned into rags or sewn together so that they’re big enough. What will happen to them will be determined by their fabric content and “hand.” 11:15 a.m.

Tuesday’s Five

I decided that yes, I need to continue with the kitchen counter effort, but the 10′ counter on one side, 7′ on the other is a bit (ha!) more involved than this list of “things I can do around and between regular cleaning.”

So…. I haven’t finished Monday’s list. I’ll keep whacking away at it this week and note it when it gets done, but it’s time to MOVE ON! There are 3 items outstanding: the 10′ counter clear, cull, clean, using the vac under the bed, and dusting the stained glass.

Today I will

  1. Desmudge door knobs.
  2. Update the grain storage I haven’t looked at lately.
  3. Pick up the laundry room.
  4. Get the prep complete for the Christmas ornaments I intend to make.
  5. Finish the final culling, keeping, and storage of last week’s vegetables.

Some of these are really, really quick and can easily be fit between other work, the door knobs and laundry room, for example. The craft prep is a bit more involved. The vegetables and grains will take some time.

Also, it’s Tuesday, that means a regular job is to go thru the fridge for trash donations. (Trash day is tomorrow.)

So, I have 6 items to do on top of the usual laundry (first load started), dishes (had caught up last night, there’s not much there), cooking, writing, etc.

The unfinished items were unfinished due to the fact that I soft threw my back out while doing something NOT on this list: getting the 2nd new dresser from the shed’s porch area. It got its drawers removed, everything got cleaned and it was moved inside. Somewhere in there, I did something that nearly threw my back out. So, my progress on the remainder of my day’s chores was not huge!

I’m beginning to think that the wisdom of not having lists on the weekend is so that I can catch up!

Long Term Work

I have a large notebook for my journal. The journal is for:

  • Dates and appointments
  • Life goals
  • Long-range projects
  • Seasonal chores
  • Figuring out and doing the next steps for the long-range projects
  • Tracking milestones as they occur

Many of these are things which I suppose you could put on a vision board. I haven’t.

I wanted to do the planning this way because I have had too many date books, organizers, plans, etc. They were all separate — which creates its own mess. I don’t need more messes or complications, I need less.

What’s not in there? The cleaning plan. The cleaning plan is broken into two main pieces: everything else and “stuff.”

In my world, STUFF =  things which make up clutter. That is, it’s usually items you can pick up in your hand.

Stuff/clutter is my bugaboo. I needed a way to organize dealing with it that it didn’t lean on the PTSD. I needed a way which was organized and not so complicated I’d never do it. I think I’ve found it!

The house won’t magically be clutter free in a week or even 2-3, but it might be in a few months. I’m doing 5-6 pieces a day, usually 5. Today I will:

  1. Declutter the entry
  2. Clean/clear a shelf in the pantry
  3. Work on the kitchen table
  4. Clean/clear a shelf in DH’s office
  5. Clean/cull (as req’d) the potato/onion baskets in the pantry

Some of this will take very little time, the entry for example, as I just cleaned that not too long ago! Some of it will take a bit longer: the piece in DH’s office, the baskets. NONE of it will take hours to do and the culling, cleaning and organizing can be done interleaved between the day-to-day necessities of laundry, dishes, writing, gardening, and other projects.

By the way? I do this Monday – Friday only. It’s work. I have other projects and things to do on the weekends!

So far, so good! If it keeps working, I will do what I can to detail the process and make my plan available here. (I could use 2 people other than me as testers in a while. If you’re interested in being a “tester,” let me know!)



Do It Better?

Every now and then I go looking for help online. I want help with decluttering, organizing, saving money, recipes, home decorating, gardening, food preservation, and other topics.

This morning it was saving money and decluttering. I found an article which had enough new information in it that it generated and “action item.” That is, I have to share the article with my husband and discuss if any of these apps make sense for us. That said? You may be interested too, so here’s the article:


If you’re interested in my money-saving philosophy, you can find that here.

I took the 2nd Hoosier to the auction house yesterday. This won’t save us $, but will get a little bit back. I’m not expecting much, < $100, but still it’s money we didn’t have, whittles away at the “too much furniture” situation, etc.

The other topic I wanted info. about was decluttering. I keep thinking someone else will have a better idea. But alas, I haven’t really found anything new. The process of decluttering is the same: deciding if you’ll use something, if so, keep it. If not, get rid of it: trash, swap shop, donate otherwise, flea market, etc. The only new thing I found this morning was someone who did this in a more organized fashion than I do: with 4 containers (store, trash, donate, or put away), a tablet/pen to make notes for future organization issues, reminders, etc.

It isn’t the process that makes me want help. I have no problems with that! It’s the sheer amount of doing it that needs to happen.

Eventually, I want to host a “stuff swap.” This is where you invite people to bring 2 boxes per couple (1 box per person) of things you’d be willing to give away, invite friends on a certain day/time for a meal, lunch most likely, and to bring their boxes too.

Put the owner’s name on one short side of the boxes, and mix ’em up. Then anything in the boxes is fair game for anyone. Assuming your friends are polite and honest, people swap stuff without problems. The only kick is that you have to 1) return an unwanted item to its original box and 2) take home items in your box which weren’t taken.

It looks like our roof will *finally* be completed Friday. Hurrah! Now if we can just get the chimney folks to actually call us back, we may not freeze this winter! We have an appt. for getting the chimney fixed — hurrah #2!



And Again. . .

The chimney people were here yesterday. We need a new connection to and chimney pipe, $xxxx money — again. Considering we heat mostly with wood, this isn’t optional,  it must get fixed, ASAP.

We figured out how we’d pay for it last night and have a few questions for the guys before we say “Do it.” But this is one disaster we sure weren’t anticipating! DH left them a message today, so we’re already in process.

My long-term lesson from this is that we need to change when we get our chimney inspected and cleaned. NOT at the end of summer, but at the beginning or middle. Much longer to recover from unforeseen issues! If it was June or the beginning of July, I wouldn’t have panicked as much as I did.

was diligent. I think I called for the appointment a month ago but they were busy with a large construction job. Just the same, next year the chimney gets inspected in MAY, not August.

Re coming up with the money, I took down my beloved 6 slot candle fixture. I love it and have since the day I found/bought it. However, a wall-mounted candle fixture is not practical in a LOG home. Especially a log home with only one place it might be safe to use it (the stairwell) and that’s impractical because, oh, it’s the wall facing the stairs and over 6′ off the ground. Soooo. . . . I’ve debated and thought about it and left it where it was, several times, until today. Today I took it to the antique shop.

Tomorrow I talk to the fellow who manages consignments for the high-end antique shop hereabouts. Assuming things go as expected, the marble/wrought iron table will go to them some time next week. (I’ve already talked to the delivery guy once, we’ll talk again the beginning of next week.)

At the antique store, I marked down (a lot!) the Hoosier. If it doesn’t sell for that price, I’m prepared to haul it to the auction house where we bought it, next Tuesday. I also took the Victrola horn I’d gotten at auction earlier this year. I fell in love with the images of pendant lights made from them, but hadn’t realized they were so BIG! Even looking at it at the auction preview didn’t really get that point across. But when we got it home? Yep, same problem as the six candle holder. Nowhere to put such a thing! (The image is from etsy, NOT mine!)

victrola horn lights from etsy

There’s one of our fave white elephants this weekend and although we’re up to our eyebrows in home improvements which require us to work like dogs to get them done ASAP, I still came up with ideas about how to sell at a flea market this weekend AND donate the unsold stuff to the white elephant.

If that doesn’t work because the home improvements take too long? We’ll go anyway, and there’s another white elephant in the town on the other side two weeks later we can donate things to! I’ve always planned that whatever unsold stuff I had left by Columbus Day would be donated, somewhere, or 90% of it anyway. I’ve already done major donations twice this summer of unsold stuff. I find things (mostly those we already own) put them in the booth for a while, mark them down if they don’t sell. If they still don’t sell? I pull some of them and just donate them to a thrift shop. Or, I pull the stuff and set it aside as flea market fodder. Then I do a flea market. If it doesn’t sell there? It’s usually donated. I pack the car so that one side of it is made up of things going to the dump’s swap shop.

Other news: the memoir is approx. 1/3 retyped and the reformatting is in process (Well, Word is winning the battle, but I’m determined!) The first third has always been my bugaboo, it’s the background, about the years of abuse. The middle section is about meeting my current husband and more healthy behavior slowly but surely becoming my norm.

Anyway, had two breakthroughs: got the first 1/3 of the memoir redone, again, and got through the first major headache in the reformatting. So, onward!