Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Review and 2013 Resolutions

2012 was a fantastic year over here in {not so} clean land.  My maternity leave continued, and then ended and I quit my job.  M graduated from her first year of Preschool in June and we had a great family vacation and road trip to Great Wolf Lodge, Portland and Seattle.  We met some amazing friends and had a blast.  The rest of the summer was fairly uneventful, and the school year started with M increasing her school time to 3 days per week at Preschool.  The last four months have seen an increase in my business, and our house has become more busy.  But it's all very exciting.  

My goals for 2012 were to have a better schedule, to eat better and to continue to simplify.  Our schedule has almost been forced into a new normal, with M being in school more.  I've found a relatively comfortable balance between family, house and work, and hopefully will continue to get better at that.  Eating better is hard to evaluate at the end of the year, with the holidays, the treats, the good food.  And simplifying has gone great.  Overall, I think I did a pretty good job at last year's resolutions.

Now, my goals for 2013.

Continue to simplify-I could probably have this as a goal for the rest of my life.  In the last few months, I've found, and gotten addicted to local buy/sell/swap groups, and a local bidding wars site.  I sold my maternity clothes as soon as I fit back into my regular jeans.  No excuses!  Then, after passing on my baby stuff to friends that could use it, I started listing and selling what I could.  And as I started cleaning up different rooms of the house, I found more stuff I could sell, either on the buy/sell/swap group, or if it was a higher ticket item, on the bidding site.  THAT one is fun because if more than one person wants something, and I've priced it right, that can drive the price up.  Items that aren't in good enough condition to sell, I can donate to the thrift store where my Mother in Law volunteers.  A fast way to simplify the house, and perhaps to make some pennies as well.

Do something everyday for myself-part of being a good wife, mom, employee, or person, includes taking care of me.  So whether I throw on wii fit and do some yoga, or take a bath, watch a movie, go for a walk, or coffee, or something else, I want to try to do something every day just for me.  Time to take care of myself, re-focus, and be better able to concentrate on all of the other things I have going on.  

Hold myself accountable more- I have enough lists, or apps, or just know in my head what I need to do but fail to follow through and get them done.  Like house cleaning.  I could very easily get off the couch and go wipe down the counter.  But I don't.  It could take two seconds, but I stay where I am.  If I held myself more accountable to the lists I've made, the daily, weekly, monthly etc tasks I want to accomplish, then I would get a lot more done, and would feel a lot better.  Wait, isn't this why I started this blog?  HAHA!  Ok so I want to use the blog more.  I need more accountability in my life, more follow through.  

What are your resolutions for this year?  Or goals, or just things you want to work on or keep in mind?  Let me know and we can hold each other accountable to get everything done that we need to.  Let's start 2013 with some great goals and some great friends!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

To dishwasher or not to dishwasher

THAT is the question.

When we put our townhouse on the market, in January 2011, we got into the habit of washing all of our dishes by hand, since you can't exactly leave dirty (or clean for that matter) dishes in the dishwasher when you're having open houses.  When we moved here, we were already in that habit and just continued.  We have used our dishwasher on a few occasions, including this week, to wash the dishes after Christmas dinner.

And I've been thinking lately, we have this dishwasher in the kitchen that is EMPTY all of the time.  It would be a great place to store our pots and pans.  OR we could start using the dishwasher again.  When we first moved in, there was just three of us.  Then there was four of us, but one of us was a newborn who didn't use dishes.  Now there are four of us, including a 4 year old and an 18m old who can (and do) get into their dishes and use what feels like every dish in the house almost every single day.  IKEA children's dishes are dishwasher safe, aren't they?

So we're going to try it.  I'm a tad over spending so much time doing dishes.  OR, if I don't get to the dishes, it just piles up on the counter and THEN there's a ton of dishes to do.  So we'll see how it goes. Worst case, we go back to doing them by hand.  But if it's easier, and takes less time, which turns into spending more time with my kids, then I'll take that.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cleaning up after the storm

Now I'm a tad embarrassed to admit this since this whole blog is about cleaning, and tips and all that jazz, but you all know how much I LOVE to clean!

The hubs and I did a great job getting the house ready for hosting Christmas dinner.  We didn't have to rush around and finish the last minute stuff the morning of.  Christmas dinner went so smoothly.  There was a ton of food, everything finished ahead of schedule.  It really was a fantastic day spent with love and family.

After dinner I was beat.  So exhausted and I didn't even want to think about cleaning up.  But after a big meal like that you can't leave it for later.  Thankfully I didn't have to.  Santa had sent a couple of amazing elves over for dinner and they did easily 90% of the dishes, and put away most of the food.  I can't even describe how amazing it was to sit down and visit with people, and then to go to bed on Christmas night and not have to worry about a mess.  AND, how much better it was to wake up the next day and not have to worry about a mess.

A lot of people think that Christmas is all about what's under the tree, or in the stocking.  But spending time with great friends and family, singing songs, playing makeshift table tennis, and having someone clean your kitchen, well those are gifts that won't end up broken or in the trash, or donate bin.

Thank you to my amazing Elves!  You guys are invited to every big party I host!

How did the set up and clean up go for your big parties?  Did Santa send anyone else some fantastic helper Elves?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas prep day 2

Here's my list from yesterday:

Today's plan:1. Finish up the last of my orders.  There isn't much left to do, I promise.  And they're all local, and I've scheduled drop off/pick up with all of them so if they aren't already done (which most are, I PROMISE) they will be on time! 2. Finish up crafts with the kids3. Bake something (brownies, cookies, rice crispie squares, SOMETHING)4. Clean up living and dining rooms-meaning ALL work and kid related stuff is out, and it's vacuumed, dusted and cleaned up. 

What did I get done (or not)?

1. Orders: two items done, one dropped off.  3 left to finish, and I promise the hard part is done, just finishing touches.
2. Not done
3. Not done
4.  a. Dining room table cleaned off and wiped.
     b. Side table cleaned off and wiped.
     c. Couch side tables cleaned off and wiped.
     d. Coffee tabled cleaned off and wiped.  And cleaned and wiped.  And cleaned and wiped.  Darn kids.
     e. Work related stuff (piles of fabric moved downstairs)
     f. Need to move a few last random items and vacuum

So what's on my list for today....
1. Finish up crafts.  Will go do that right now.
2. Bake something.  Will do that right now as kids do craft stuff.
3. Vacuum living room/dining room.  In my defense, the vacuum canister in the garage was full (we have a built in) and I had to empty it, WHICH I DID-BY MYSELF!
4. Finish up orders.  That WILL get done when kids go to bed.

And tomorrow?
1. Anything I didn't get done today.
2. Clean bathrooms
3. Finish cleaning and mop entryway
4. Tidy kids rooms
5. Why do I try to have more than 2 items on my list when I KNOW it won't get done?
6. Bake something else
7. More crafts.
8. More cleaning.   Should I go on?????

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Last Minute Christmas Preparation Dance

Anyone want to dance with me?

We are now one week until Christmas and I'm not nearly as ready as I had hoped to be.  Not only do I still have work to do, I also have some last minute shopping to do and then the house cleaning to START!  YIKES!

Last year, after Christmas, I bought a binder, and created sections, to help me plan my holidays ahead of time.  I bought a folder to store cash, with which I could buy Christmas gifts, food, decorations, etc.  I created a budget ahead of time and made notes.   And take a guess how much money was in there?  Yup-NONE!  I didn't use the system AT ALL!

Pinterest also had a ton of ideas, including week by week cleaning schedules, starting in October!  You can bet I pinned them.  Did I refer to them?  Yup, maybe once or twice.  Did I use them?  NOPE!

So why am I such a good planner-on paper-but struggle at getting it all done.  For some reason, I can figure it all out but I can't execute my plan.  Now I have 5 days to get everything done.  It'll get done, but it won't be easy.  Is it just that I work better under pressure?  Will next year be any different?  Probably not.

So here's how I'm going to get it all done: Tell you guys about it!  Lucky!!!

Today's plan:
1. Finish up the last of my orders.  There isn't much left to do, I promise.  And they're all local, and I've scheduled drop off/pick up with all of them so if they aren't already done (which most are, I PROMISE) they will be on time!
2. Finish up crafts with the kids
3. Bake something (brownies, cookies, rice crispie squares, SOMETHING)
4. Clean up living and dining rooms-meaning ALL work and kid related stuff is out, and it's vacuumed, dusted and cleaned up.

Check in tomorrow to see if I got it all done, and what's on the list for tomorrow.

Are you ready for Christmas?  What are you getting done today?  I can help hold you to it!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our felt Christmas Tree

One super popular pin from Pinterest is the Kids Christmas Tree.  You make it out of felt, make ornaments, presents, etc and stick it up on the wall for the kids to play with, hoping that they leave the real tree alone.

I bought a yard of green felt from Joann's and cut out the tree.  Then I had smaller felt squares that I used to cut out the ornaments and presents. 

At first, I tried attaching it to the wall with scotch tape but that didn't work well.  So as suggested in one of the Pinterest links, I tried the 3M Command strips.  Well, as I discovered with the scotch tape, nothing attaches to felt.  So I sewed the strips on.  Next year, I'll just buy a new pack for the wall.  

The lightbulbs I bought from a friend and local small business Playful Path Felt Stories.  They even sparkle and are a great addition to our tree!

The ornaments were all cut freehand.  Some are circles and some are supposed to look like diamonds.  The command strips work great and the kids love it.  And my tree is left alone!  The whole project cost about $5 for the felt and two sets of command strips.  The ones sewn on to the tree will be permanent and next year, I'll replace the ones on the wall.  

Isn't it pretty?  Adds a bit of Christmas to the playroom!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The last of the Christmas Fairs

My last Christmas event is tonight.  Products are all ready, or as ready as they'll be at this point.  It's time to pack everything up and then tidy up the house.  It's been nice for the past few events, that I've already done the bulk of the work and don't need to have a week of mad rushing beforehand to get stuff ready.  At this point it's just finishing up the custom orders to get in the mail by Monday and then local orders.

In a way, I'm glad the bulk of my business involves shipping, because I won't be rushing to finish stuff up at the last minute.  Which gives me more time to focus on my house and my family.

Wish me luck tonight, I hope my last event of the season is successful!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Introducing....Simon (the magic is real)

Simon is our Elf on the Shelf.  And the kids aren't the only ones who love him.

In December, the kids wake me up and my first thought is 'OH SHOOT-I didn't move the Elf' and I distract them while I go to move him.  But some mornings, ok most mornings, Simon isn't where he was left the night before.  And at that moment, I call M out to find him and I actually can't help her.  In fact, I totally get into the hunt and get excited to find him.

Some parents go all out.  They have Elves who get into trouble, or pull of crazy stunts.  Some have admittedly lazy Elves who hang out in the same spot for a few days at a time.

In our house, the magic is real.  This mama doesn't move Simon.  We wake up and we all try to find Simon.  It's great fun.  And it's all real.

Today, Simon wanted to hang out with our Santa, and M found him on top of our tree.

Do you have an Elf?  What is your Elf's name?  And what's his or her favorite place to hang out?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Keeping Christmas Clean

Well we've put up the tree and some decorations.  And of course, I love it!  I love everything that has anything to do with Christmas.  In fact, as I type this, I can see my neighbor stringing the lights on his tree.  Tomorrow I'll make my husband put up the outdoor lights, while I clean up the inside and put up more decorations.  I just love it all.  Love it so much I'm hosting Christmas dinner this year.  I want to create a Winter Wonderland inside my house and just stay here, all cozy, and have everyone come over.


If I'm making a huge effort to clean up and decorate the house, I might as well have lots of people over to enjoy it, right?

Now I get to spend the next few days figuring out how to keep the 4 year old and 18 month old from getting into everything.