Friday, August 31, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Still at it!

My 30 days ended weeks ago, but I am still finding things to deep clean. Just today, I spent a couple of more hours in my office, resulting in a large trip to the garbage bin. When I looked in the bin to deposit the trash, I was reminded of another deep clean.

Since I was on a roll, I hauled another load to the local thrift store. Those of you who didn't think I was a hoarder, have to be changing your mind by now. One Extremely large garage sale, a dozen trips to the thrift store, listings on craigslist, and I can still find a trunk full to give away. No wonder my mother kept bringing me cleaning supplies in an effort to kick start me!

Summer Dreams

 When I was a kid, my parents made sure to give us lots of great memories. One of my favorites happened in the summer. The public swimming pool had family night once a week. On that night you were allowed to bring inflatables! As a child that was a big deal. As if that wasn't enough fun. After our swim, all seven of us would pile into the family station wagon and drive to "the A&W" to get a milk jug full of root beer, then home. At home, we would sit on the front porch, swatting bugs, talking to passersby, and sipping on our root beer floats.

As you could probably imagine, root beer floats remain one of my favorite flavors of summer.

Today was that last day of daycare before school starts back up, so I brought in ice cream and root beer, so that 60 kids could have a taste of old fashioned summer. The best part though, was that I brought in too much, so we got to have them again at home with My Vet!

(Don't you just love these cute glasses I picked up at a garage sale in Iowa?)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Window Seat

The previous owners of my house loved to ad random details, even if they didn't match the style of the house. I like clean modern lines, so I have been slowly removing the random bits of ginger breading, and other froufrou bits. One of the remaining thorns is the portal window in the girls room. (We do not live on a boat, it isn't a nautical style home, just another random detail. Aarg Matey!)

Since my oldest starts Kindergarten in 2 weeks, I decided to fulfill one of my childhood fantasies. I am building a reading nook, and every good reading nook needs a window seat. I have some scrap wood from an earlier demolition, and I have a bit of extra time today. So here goes.

I started by finding a basic plan that I liked. Then measured my space, and then recalculated all of the pieces so it would fit my space, and the lumber bits I salvaged. I remembered to grab my safety glasses, and to measure twice, cut once. (Thank you Norm for all those years hosting The New Yankee Workshop.)

Because I was using what I had, I ripped some wider boards down with the table saw, before cutting them to length. After I had all of my boards cut to length, I pre-drilled and fastened them together. It took about 1 1/2 hours start to finish. I even used the air compressor to blow the sawdust off the tools before putting them away. My recent surge in cleaning, is sticking with me!

Once my box was built, I used putty to fill the screw holes, sanded, primed, and painted. I like to paint outside as often as possible. I find that things dry faster, and the entire project moves along at a quicker pace. Be certain to work in the shade though. Paint doesn't usually dry well in hot, direct, sunlight. I had the added bonus of being able to watch an American Bald Eagle soaring over head. Having not grown up here, it always amazes me to see such awesome sights during regular daily activities.

She was ready to go to the Splash Park,
but kind enough to help me out.
Here's another look so you don't have to scroll back up.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sundried Tomatoes

Good thing I had a helper. We had a lot of produce to
get through!
Another day of bountiful harvest. Last time I blanched and peeled a bunch of the tiny ones. I really didn't want to do that again, but what can you do with that many cherry tomatoes? I like salad as much as the next girl, but really?

I found some inspiration online, and got started processing this afternoon. I also found that most "sun-dried tomatoes" aren't actually dried in the sun. It is a very simple process though, with tools and equipment, most of us have on hand.

First round using red cherry tomatoes
I had some help cutting hundreds of cherry/pear tomatoes, so that we could try our hands at sun-dried tomatoes. We cut them in half, crosswise as recommended. I don't think the crosswise is anything more than prettier though, the few that were cut 'incorrectly' still turned out yummy.

After about an hour, the house started to smell delicious. I look forward to making some focaccia bread this winter to go with some of the stews I've been canning. I did 4 trays with slightly different seasonings, They all tasted awesome. They do not even come close to comparing to store bought. So flavorful and yummy!

Here is what we did:
*Cherry tomatoes - remove stems, rinse with fresh water, cut in half crosswise
*Parchment paper - line bottom of a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan, then place tomatoes cut side up with sides touching (they will shrink so it's OK to pack them in tight)
*Season to taste - I did 4 pans. One with gloves of garlic arrange amidst the tomatoes. One sprinkled with basil and kosher salt. One sprinkled with just kosher salt. One with onion salt.
I did 2 batches, 1 red, 1 yellow and it all reduced down
to this!
*Olive Oil - drizzle lightly. I just used my Misto to spray it lightly.
*Bake at 225ยบ for 3 hours (time is approximate, if they are still wet/moist go longer) The safest way to store is in a freezer bag in the freezer, remove as much air as possible. They should be good for 6-12 months (Longer in deep freeze, shorter in fridge/freezer combo)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 30

Sunset on Lake Kabetogama.
I get to coast right on out of this challenge, Not. Being day 30, of a 30 day challenge, I could procrastinate no longer. My office has become the dumping ground of the house. As I cleaned the house, I did my best to no longer say "I'll get to it later". It was a self preservation move. I knew I had a room in my house Full of "I'll get to it later" things. It was the room that when company came I ran through the house grabbing random things, threw them in this room, and shut the door. You can imagine after 8 years, how bad it got.

115th blog post and I finally had the courage
to show the world.
I have a dream home office. Even now after 7 hours of cleaning, I am no where close to that ideal. I have made significant strides, and I am hopeful that my re found obsession will eventually get me there.

Look closely at that before, there is no floor. I have been sitting in this room all month long as I told you about my progress, and refusing to look around me. My tunnel vision is impressive, right? My Vet stopped in to check my progress and exclaimed "There is a floor!" It really was that bad.

I made so many trips to the garbage bin, recycle bin, and trunk with donate items, I lost count. I estimate half of the stuff is gone. At that rate, I only have 9 or 10 more deep cleans of this room to achieve my ideal.

Even though I am not satisfied with my office yet, in general the house is in good shape. In response to your support, encouragement, and questions, I will be posting some follow ups this week. I am working on a down loadable 30 day deep clean list, to motivate you. I am also going to post photos of a whole house tour, so you can see all the afters's brought together.

Thanks for sharing this latest challenge with me. I am sure that I another self improvement challenge is just around the corner. So no need to fear a withdrawal from my sordid life.

Monday, August 13, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 29

Grateful for the bear proof food locker to set the camera
on, so we could take this!
Counting today, I have 2 days to finish my deep cleaning. Uh oh! I have lots to do in the next 48 hours. 

I also learned last Monday, that in addition to Monday's chore of cleaning the kitchen, I have to clean up from the weekend.

This week it means, laundry, and washing and storing all the camping equipment. We drove up to Voyageurs National Park for a new adventure. Living in MN, we often see eagles, but not too many bears. We had been hoping to see bear, while we were boating on Lake Kabetogama, and we did. We then chose a campsite a couple islands away. :-)
Everything catagorized and organized!

I am always really tired after a trip, and I try to rest a few days. Not this time. I threw my lifeless body back into cleaning, as I chanted "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!" On Friday, I left you during my clean/purge of the garage. Today I am back in there, to finish up. I have put away 2 of the 3 boxes I brought out from the basement, have 1 different container to come back in, and filled another garbage bin.
My pile of wood for up coming projects!

I have decided to leave one area a small mess. The pile of plywood is staying, until I design and build this year's addition to the Christmas display. The clean has felt good, but I am itching to get to a mini project!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Days 27 and 28

My Vet helped with this one, so we
could get it done on time.
It's my fourth and final weekend of the challenge! I still have areas that I haven't gotten too, but things are looking pretty awesome around here. Our driveway area has a giant pothole that is reaking havoc with our cars, and the piles of brush have been piling up as this challenge progressed. Now that all of the stumps are out, it is time to fill the various holes in the yard.

In order to stay true to the challenge, and still enjoy our summer. I decided to accomplish this weekend task, during my spare time during the week. That way we could go camping this weekend. It made for some really long days, but I am glad we did it!
My Vet carted off the brush for me. I grabbed a shovel and a wheelbarrel and got to work. I cleared all of the mulch out of the area, and spread it in my cleaned out pines. I wheeled away several loads of top soil and filled all those holes in the yard. I will seed in the near future. My goal was to remove all of the soft top layer, so that the gravel being brought in would pack down tight and create a nice, firm area for driving and parking trailers.

I am also doing the same thing behind the garage where the bulk of our winter firewood and the garbage cans are stored. I even called the garbage company about replacing the recycle can that has had a broken axle for years.

I know that throughout this challenge I have been finally tackling problems that have been evident for years, I am not exaggerating. Things had really gotten that out of control. No wonder I just kept thinking "I would get to it later", I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. If that is you, I am working on a easy to follow checklist for you to do what I did.

We now have a clean, uncluttered arrival home from any direction, and also spent some great family time "Up North"!

Friday, August 10, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 26

Clear path, and wheelbarrow no longer
exposed to the elements.
Hello. My name is Cindy, and I am a recovering hoarder.

I am extremely glad that today is Friday. The weather is superb, and my energy level is holding strong. I mowed the lawn and then spent a little over 2 hours cleaning the garage. I had cleaned it out for a garage sale earlier this summer, mistakenly giving me the impression I could do it in an afternoon. It seems as though I mostly just pushed stuff out of the way, and not actually organized, cleaned, or purged.

I am glad no one was here today, to hear my off key singing to the radio, with occasional outbursts of "Why did we save this crap?"

The floor was in pretty good shape, as I had mopped that before the sale. I got all the shovels, rakes etc off the floor and finally hung. I cleared a nice large path from the door, finally finding a spot for the wheelbarrow!  And purged my garden bench.

***Sigh*** Still needs to be done.
But the shelves... I am going to have to spend another afternoon to get that done. I also have several boxes of stuff from my basement clean, that need to find a home in the garage. I also, filled another garbage bin. (I had to start prepping for a family camping trip. Which is why I quit before finishing)

In addition to the garbage bin, I once again used craigslist to push my rubbish onto some other unsuspecting hoarder. Throughout this clean, I have been able to creatively get rid of much of the clutter. I could have spend $100 if I would have tossed in all in the truck and headed for a landfill. Instead it was free, and re-purposed!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 25

Cleared out and vacuumed, looks like I still need to bring
out the carpet cleaner on those floors!
After a long week of unanticipated tasks, I finally had a day where I accomplished my list and then some! I got to yesterday's carpet cleaning, cleaned the kids and guest bath and bedrooms, cleaned out the convertible, vacuumed out the truck and did a quick touch up vacuum in my car. If that doesn't sound like enough, I also had time to run several errands and pay some bills. Lots of little things added up to a big feeling of accomplishment!

I am still a bit worried about finishing my list of deep cleans in the next few days. I appreciate any encouragement and prayers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 24

I washed the master bedroom windows yesterday.
Inside only, so still a little cloudy.
In anticipation of a long day. I got started with today's cleaning, yesterday. Although I am not sure if that actually made today seem longer. Helping take almost 40 kids to the children's museum, is going to wear you out, regardless.

Tomato, Tomato, Tomatoes!
After getting home, I had intended to fired up the carpet cleaner and head to the master bedroom.  Then I walked through the alley on my way home from the daycare, and right by the garden. My tomato plants were full. I could not, put off picking and processing another day. So I settled the girls, and grabbed the largest bowl I could find. I then proceeded to fill it two times. I added them to the tomatoes that had already been ripening on the counter. I had plenty of work cut out for me.

I blanched and peeled all of the tomatoes, including the cherry tomatoes. Yep, this obsession of getting rid of things, is reaching truly crazy levels. I then used them to make a large batch of Chili and Tomato Basil Soup. I then processed them in the canner based on the ingredient with the longest processing time. I consulted my favorite canning book for times and pressures.

5 hours of effort in one small image!
In order to not fall behind, I will clean the carpet tomorrow, in addition to tomorrow's deep clean.

I am already beating myself up, a little, for not getting to it today, even though I cleaned extra yesterday.  ***Hint, Hint, please keep your "fail" comments to yourself. :-)***

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 23

Bug graveyard, hanging over the dinner table.
Thanks for stopping by today! I am going to be quick so that I can get the kids hair washed and watch some women's sand volleyball. :-)

My regular cleaning called for the living room and stairs today. I am still really loving my new vaccum. In addition to dusting, vaccuming etc. I also dead headed the house plants and pruned where needed. I also cleaned out the light fixtures, throughout the house

The most notable thing about my day, is everywhere I look, I smile. It feels really good to have cleared out all the clutter that has been weighing us down.

I can't wait until I can reduce the deep cleaning agenda for the week, and get to some fun projects that will make some of the spaces even better! Painting, woodworking, and sewing are much better ways to spend my afternoons!

30 Days to Clean: Day 22

Not YET 100% dried paint cans.
It's Monday again, and I apparently had too much fun this weekend. I spent the better part of today, cleaning up from the weekend. I contact the garbage company about removing old paint cans, and contacted Culligan about removing a really heavy old water tank.

The helpful gal at Culligan suggested using the air compressor to remove the water, in order to make it light enough to lift out. Obviously she does not follow this blog. Since I knew that the hose wouldn't reach the basement. I grabbed the foot pump we use for the air mattresses when camping and got to work. Even lighter, it was still really heavy. I muscled it out and then used a trolley to get it to the garage. I did then, use the air compressor to blow out the remaining water. Then loaded in the trunk, and headed off to St. Cloud.

Finally, late in the day I was able to tackle today's cleaning. The kitchen goes fast, as I keep up throughout the week. I really only needed to wipe down the faucet, and wash the floor. For deep clean I emptied out the display cabinets in the dining room and completely dusted the shelves and the dishes. I intentionally went light on the deep clean after my busy day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Days 20 and 21

Rediscovered Craft Center
I'm back! Friday is an outside day, and it was hot. Having a history of heat stroke and knowing I would be outside in the heat making balloon animals for five hours, I needed to be careful. I also had to check the new tent, load the trunk with marketing stuff, and pack everything the girls and I would need for the evening.

Thanks for letting me take a day off. It was pointed out to me on Friday night that it takes 21 consecutive days to make a habit, and I failed at day 20. Um.. thanks?

I know I made the right choice though. when I get to the end of the challenge, I will be only cleaning on weekdays and resting with family and friends on weekends. This current pace is unsustainable, and acknowledging my limits will hopefully prevent another spiritual break in me.

I even fixed, the sagging shelves.
This is my second to last weekend of the challenge, so I better finish the basement. I finished organizing the last few areas of shelving, swept away a lot of cobwebs, stepped on a lot of spiders, and mopped the floors. It is now ready for a dousing of creepy crawly killer, followed by some fresh paint.

I also mowed the lawn, picked up some free paint at Ace Hardware for a future project, took the new to us boat on its maiden voyage, canned some salsa, and tried my hand at homemade baked corn chips.

I think I made up for Friday?

One of the best things about this weekend was having friends over. We went boating again then had dinner at our house. Usually I am running around the house all day, trying to make it presentable, and not succeeding, because I started out so far behind. This time I watched a movie with the family, and read some. I only ran around for about 30 minutes, and that was just getting the kids ready to boat, and dinner ready for the oven!

Having a clean house is positively affecting more than just the environment. It feels like so many other areas of my life are suddenly getting under control too!

DIY: Baked Corn Chips

I have more tomatoes than I can eat, it is time to start canning. After a trip to the local farmers market for cilantro, I had almost everything I needed to make some salsa. What I didn't have, were some chips for the all important, testing portion of the recipe. Thankfully, I had some corn tortilla's on hand. So I whipped up some chips ASAP.

I like kosher salt, but you could really just use regular table salt. My Oil Sprayer is a  lecithin free, home-made, version.
**Update. Every oven is different, so time will vary. If yours aren't crisp after 10 minutes, bake longer. They should be a deep golden color. Hope that helps. Also eat them while still warm. They are intended to be eaten right away, and will not stay crispy overnight.

Post Juice Fast

I am feeling like a turtle, not the hare. I am faithfully charting me food intake and exercise. I am staying below the recommended calorie intake for a person with my frame who wants to lose 2 pounds a week. Thanks to my cleaning challenge I am getting lots more exercise. Yet, I am only losing 1 pound a week, but I did lose a pound!

At this rate it will take longer, but I will still get there. Most of us fail, because we don't get results fast enough. The prize is finishing the course, getting there fastest, doesn't change the prize. I will choose to find happiness in the one. Not disappointment in the two.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Day 19

Kids 'clean' vs. Mom clean
I feel like I did a lot of cleaning today. Yet, at 7:30 I was just starting to clean the carpet in the girls room!

 During nap, when I normally get a lot of my cleaning done, I grabbed the neighbor girl and headed out to run some errands on my bike. When I got home, my new vacuum had arrived. I of course, had to assemble it and vacuum the entire house immediately. I love it! I have had many vacuums with the spiny thing, hand held attachment. Until now, I have never had one that actually worked. It has awesome suction power, and is way lighter than my old vacuum.

When I was done playing with my new toy. I had to get to work and clean the bathroom. I found a powerful, hard water stain, cleaning agent in the bucket of cleaners that my mom brought me, long before I started this clean. It works really good, but I can't breathe with out a mask. I don't know that I should be using it in small enclosed areas, like bathrooms...

When I do the master bath, I also clean the master bedroom. When I clean the kids'/guest bath, I also clean the kids' and guest bedrooms. My kids are expected to clean up toys etc. but I haven't started them vacuuming and washing stuff yet. When they offer to help, I let them, knowing that I will have more to clean up in the end. I like to encourage them now though, so later it won't be so bad.

The girls ended up going to bed only an hour later than normal. They fell asleep fast enough, I got to watch some Women's All-Around Gymnastics!

30 Days to Clean: Day 18

I worked from 5:30 am to 5:00 pm today. That made it tough to get into a deep clean. Fortunately, I deep cleaned the master bath last Wednesday. I made quick work of my regular cleaning, and washed some clothes. Laundry once again led me into my deep clean.

I cleaned out my dresser. Yep, I emptied every drawer, removed old, worn out, grown out of, and miss matched items. I even found some socks I've been holding on to since the early 90's. It's things like that, keeping my garbage man busy during this clean/purge.

There is no way I am going to post before/after photos of my skivvies. Giving me no choice, but to tackle another laundry related deep clean. The extremely gross Laundry Sink. This sink gets so gross, so fast. I clean it out, a few times a year, and it still gets that bad.

Since time was a major factor today. I am hopeful that I finally get around to cleaning some carpets tomorrow.