Getting Organized…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home, Habits, Organizing

Lately, I have really been on an organizing kick. I do enjoy sorting, clearing-out, organizing and straightening the small spaces in my home. I love a quick reward and I can usually do a closet or pantry in very little time (from start to finish about an hour or less).

Also, I find it is so rewarding every time I open the door and see a neatly organized space. Last night I organized our master bedroom closet… I must admit that I made my husband come up and look at it (he was very kind).

My approach to cleaning and organizing is to begin by hauling everything out of the space… making a huge mess. (This probably helps me feel a little better about the final product.) I then sort items into similar groups… shoes, my clothing, my husband’s clothing, suit cases and bags, hats, ties, keepsake boxes…

Next, I sort these groups into four piles or trash bags:

    1. D.I. — Code for Get rid of It.

   2. Trash

   3. Fix It Up!

  4. I use it, I like it, I love it… KEEP PILE.

When I do this regularly, the first three piles/bags tend to be small. (When I first began learning how to organize I would set a goal to eliminate a certain percent… such as 50%.)

After I have cleared out the excess clutter, I begin placing items back in by similar groups. I try to put items that are used most frequently at or near eye level. I place heavy items near the floor and lighter items above my head (which is pretty much everything… :0). Also, I find it very helpful to keep items where I use them the most.

Organizing Tips

–Have multiple sets of scissors stored throughout your house wherever you use them frequently.

–I store our playdough in the dining room, where my children use it.

–Continually eliminate clutter.

–Do you have a shirt that always puts you in a bad mood because you don’t like the way it looks on you or feels. Get rid of it. (My husband had this problem with a shirt… every time he would wear he would come home totally depressed. The shirt no longer resides in our home…)

–When an items begins to become worn out either fix it, throw it away or sell it. I am amazed at what we have been able to sell through eBay and our Online classified. (I have also purchased several items other were ready to trash which I have loved.)

–If you love it – keep it.

–Use small bins, baskets or plastic tote boxes to organize small items such as belts, scarves, undergarment and socks.

–Hang purses and bags from large hooks so they don’t lose their shape.

–Use bins, shelving units, hooks, basket and rods to accommodate a variety of items.

–Group clothing by season, use and color.

–Store items that are used infrequently at the top or back of a closet.

–Invest in a cute pair of rain boots… all the really great closets seem to have them… :0).

Images from Real Simple, “31 Ways to Make Over Your Closets.”

15 Minutes to a Clean Kitchen

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home, Habits, Kitchen Design, Kitchen Tips

(Image from House Beautiful, “California Kitchen.”)

I love a clean kitchen (including a well organized pantry). It is the room that for me most dictates my mood. If the kitchen is clean, the house is clean… or at least much less dirty. I try to spend 15 minutes each morning straightening the kitchen – right after my family finishes eating breakfast.

(Image from House Beautiful, “Cabinetry with Period Charm.”)

Here are the nine things I do to keep a tidy kitchen:
1. Fill sink or dishpan with hot soapy water. Place dishes into the water to begin soaking. While my dishes begin soaking, I quickly sweep the kitchen and dining area (typically, we only eat in these areas… so it is easy to locate dirty dishes). I place these dishes on the counter near the sink. Next, I wash the dishes by hand or load rinsed dishes into the dishwasher. (I grew up without a dishwasher, so I typically wash by hand… even though we have a dishwasher now.)

Now I need to pause here and comment on the importance of washing dishes, pots and pans just after using them… as soon as I finish frying eggs in a pan I begin soaking the frying pan, quickly rinse dishes as you cook, wash dishes after each meal… this saves me so much time.

2. Pick up trash from the table, countertops and floor… throw away.

3. Put away all items that go in the kitchen… In my kitchen, everything has a designated “homespot.” This helps me and my family keep an orderly kitchen because everyone knows where to put items away.

4. Place items that go into other areas in our home into a tote box, laundry bin or basket. These items will be redistributed later… the second I start putting things away in another area is the second I begin a new project so I try to focus on one task at a time.

5. Wipe down countertops, appliances and the backsplash. I have found it helpful to keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water (about a 1 to 3 ratio) to quickly spray down our oven vent and other areas that kitchen grime builds up.

6. Sweep or vacuum the floor. Spot clean as needed. About once a week I do a mop down of the floors… if my children are outside playing in the mud (like right now) then I will do it more frequently.

7. Take out the trash and reline with a trash bag… I don’t know why, but I always forget to put a bag back in the trash can. Also, frequently (once or twice a week) I will spray the trash can down with Lysol to kill off bacteria and odors.

8. “Sparkle the sink”… by spraying with a little bit of vinegar or window cleaner and wiping down any water spots. Run disposal as I clean the sink.

9. Redistribute items in my basket to their proper “homespots” throughout our home.

** This process takes only 15 minutes each day. If you feel this will take longer be sure to get your family involved. Have children scrape-off their dishes, clear their settings, wipe up spills and tuck in chairs. I have found that even at a very young age children can do an excellent job helping with proper instruction. My son who is six is responsible for taking out the trash whenever it is full; my son who is five sweeps under the table after meals with a little hand-broom; and my daughter who is four is responsible for wiping off the table.

** Also, because I don’t like to pick up scraps of papers, rocks, broken toys, sticks and other treasures my children have collected… if it is left out (and not in their “Keepsake Basket”) then I throw it away. I know it sounds mean, but it helps me know if it is important for them. If I think it might be important, then I will give a warning that any items left out will be thrown away shortly.

Cleaning Products

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home

Routine households cleaners need to be able to create a clean, fresh and sanitary environment, but it should not pose health risks to the family or the environment. This balance can be achieved by using very common household items that have proven their effective cleaning abilities throughout the years.

Some of these more vintage cleaners may require more time and energy to help maintain the home, simply because they are not as corrosive as their more modern counterparts. The intense level of toxic material that are found in many modern cleaning agents can actually cause harm to the environment, the health of our family and be destroying the surfaces which you are trying to maintain.

We should always begin cleaning with the most mild cleaner and slowly work towards more abrasive and toxic cleaners. By maintaining a regular cleaning routine these products will be very easy and effective.

Some simple and financially wise cleaners that can be used routinely in the home are listed below:

1. General All-Purpose Degreaser: For cleaning simple spills and greasy fingerprints around the home, simply combine 2 cups of warm water with 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Simply spray the area allow a minute or two for the dishwashing liquid to penetrate the surface and wipe with a clean damp cloth. This will be safe on countertops, wood and stone surfaces. (PH Level is neutral 6.5-7)

2. Bathroom, Kitchen Sink and Oven Cleaner: A gentle, yet effective cleaner that will remove stains without scratching surfaces is a paste mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part baking soda. To add additional cleaner power substitute water with dishwashing liquid, mixed with baking soda until you have created a think paste. For more stubborn stains a touch (pea size amount) of toothpaste can be added for extra whitening power. (PH Level will be somewhere between 7-9)

3. Soap Scum and Mineral Deposit Remover: Simply soak a rag in either vinegar or lemon juice. Cover area with the rag for a few hours. Wipe and rinse excess. (PH Level will be near 3)

4. Window Cleaner: 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. (PH Level will be near 3)

5. Hardwood Floor Cleaner: 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. (PH Level will be near 3)

Alkaline household cleaners (PH 7-14) are best for cutting through grease, oil, fats, proteins and other common household dirt.

Acidic household cleaners (PH 0-7) are best for cleaning areas that will have calcium build up and rust (typically areas that have high levels of water use… bathrooms and kitchen sink).

The more neutral the product the easier it will be on our bodies and our environment.

** PH Levels for Common Household Cleaners
Chlorine Bleach 13
Ammonia 12
Oven Cleaner (Containing Lye) 12
Tub and Tile Cleaner 12
Borax 10
Baking Soda 9
Dishwashing Detergent 6.5-9
Vinegar and Lemon Juice 3
Toilet Bowl Cleaner 3

Ten Habits for a Clean Home…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home, Habits

Enjoying a clean home is simply a matter of developing clean habits… Here are ten of the most effective “clean habits” we can develop to keep a more tidy abode.

(Photograph is from Country Living)

1. Make your bed. When you get up in the morning you should immediately make your bed. This will tidy up any bedroom.

2. Put things away as soon as you are done using them. When you do not put things away you create a new “dumping ground” for everyone who walks by… so instead of one item to put away it will quickly become many items to put away.

3. Have a “home spot” for everything, yes, everything in your home. If you know exactly where the scissors go it is easy to not only find them, but also to quickly put them away again. (The home spot should be near where an item is most often used.)

4. Throw away junk mail while you are going through the mail. I have a trash can at the foot of the stairs in our garage, so as I walk from the mailbox to our home I can sort the mail and throw away the trash… typically the additional clutter will not make it inside our home.

(Photograph is from House Beautiful)

5. Shine your sinks… this one is essential for our family because we have insanely hard water… after you use the sinks grab a dry hand towel, washcloth or tissue and wipe down any water spots or soap residue. This is important for both kitchen and bathroom sinks.

6. Keep several small trash cans in high traffic areas of your home. The more convenient your trash cans are the less likely trash will end up somewhere else.

7. Wash pots, pans and dishes as you cook and immediately after eating. Dishes are sooo easy to wash when they are freshly used… you will very rarely have to “scrub” anything. This habit alone will save you so much time.

8. Wake-up your home and put your home to bed every day with a quick 5-20 minute straighten of each room… it is amazing what you can do in 5-20 minutes of focused quick cleaning.

9. Get rid of stuff… get rid of stuff… get rid of stuff. It’s simple – a home with less “stuff” is easier to keep clean.

10. Have cleaning supplies mixed and ready to go in commercial spray bottles. This one is very handy when you are dealing with unexpected messes… like a sick child.