This week Mrs. Catherine challenged us to declutter/spring clean/beautify our kitchen. I have been going through my few cabinets on a regular basis in the past few months, so there wasn’t much to declutter. But what my kitchen really needed was a good spring cleaning and even more a new coat of paint on the walls. I couldn’t do that myself, so I talked to my husband about it, who agreed it should be done. Yet he ended telling me that it couldn’t be done this week. But on Wednesday morning, he called me from work informing me that his father who couldn’t go into the fields because of rain, offered to come and paint the kitchen. So, I had about 2 hours to cook our main meal AND prepare the kitchen for the painting job. This is the kitchen before: I quickly started cooking the soup and while it was cooking I started all the preparations. First I had to clear the dining room table, which I use for my sewing, so that it could be used to temporary house some kitchen things. So, I put away all my sewing. Then I started taking down all the plates from the walls and other knick-knacks. I washed the right away and dried, so they would be clean when ready to go back. I packed them all in baskets padding them with old tablecloths. I also made a temporary “kitchen” on the living room table, moving the microwave there and the hot water kettle. I cleared all the counter space, took down the curtains and seat cushions and between cooking and putting things away, the kitchen was ready around 12 noon (here still in the picture I am finishing frying the pancakes (crepes) for dessert. The table and the chairs were moved out a little later after the children ate. My father-in-law came and painted the kitchen with the first coat of paint. After my son tried to help him =), I took the little children on a visit I had to make so he could finish the job in peace. Unfortunately the kitchen hadn’t been painted in a long time, so one coat didn’t do the job. It had to be painted again the next morning. So, I decided to spend the evening to clean everything I could. I discovered quite a few neglected jobs. One of the being the bottom of the hanging cabinets. Since the counters were clean, I had better access. Boy, did I discover quite a bit of dirt and old splatters on there. But I scrubbed it all clean, as well as all the tiles. I also gave the outside of cabinets a good cleaning. As well as the hidden side of the stove and refrigerator. The next day, I picked up my father-in-law and he finished the painting job. Now it was my turn to finish cleaning. It took me quite a while to scrub the floor well, but I got on my knees and discovered a lot of stuff that the mop usually skips =). But it was nice to clean the floor when nothing was in my way. In a few hours the kitchen was back in it’s normal state: I also washed the windows and the curtains. It all is sparkling now. I am so happy! My oldest daughter also organized three cabinets with dishes and I turned to the more difficult ones. This is a corner cabinet where we keep some cereal, snacks, medicine and tea/coffee stuff. This is my cooking/baking cabinet which is closest to the stove. I wish I had more space, but that’s all I have, so all my spare food is in the pantry on the lower floor. The last cabinet I did is the corner cabinet, which houses all the plastic. That’s organized at least once a month, but it’s always a mess. Half of the cabinet is totally hidden in the corner, so to get anything out, I have to half crawl in there. In the deep “dungeon” are all my tray, cake holders, pitchers thermoses and other things. So, my kitchen got a new coat of paint, all the cabinets are clean top, front and bottom, windows and floor are cleaned well, curtains are freshly washed, most cabinets are organized. All I have left is to deep-clean the oven and refrigerator/freezer. I am so thankful!
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
After sewing a whole series of PJ’s for my children, it was time to sew something for myself. I had tried to sew a grey knit shirt, but fabric wasn’t stretchy enough and ended up small. Also I had to redo the neckline several times and so I go discouraged. But I decided I had to get myself going. I had a leftover fabric from a nursing shirt I did about two years ago. I like that shirt so much that I am still wearing it, although I haven’t been nursing over two years. But I knew that there wasn’t enough fabric left for a long-sleeved shirt, which I really wanted, since this is a pretty warm knit. The pattern is a traced sweater that I had modified over time to fit me better. But no matter how many times I switched the pieces around on the fabric, I couldn’t get a long-sleeve shirt, not even a ¾ one. So, I decided to just make the sleeves as long as I could. I thought I will just add some fabric at the bottom, but then decided against it. I didn’t even have enough fabric to do the binding, but fortunately I still had some blue decorative elastic. I must say that I did the neckline three times, until I got the right ratio. I don’t know why I chose this neckline, it was one I like on a summer shirt, but maybe on a warmer shirt it could have been a bit higher. But this is going to be a nice shirt for the in-between season. I would like the sleeves a bit longer, so I am still debating whether I should add a piece of fabric, covering the seam with the decorative elastic. But I can’t decide whether the sleeves should finished then with more elastic or just turned under. I will probably wear it a few times and decide whether I want to change the sleeves. I am glad this one came out good.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I admit it: I love being organized. But I also admit that I have tried many ways and tools to achieve it. I tried professional planners, simple printable forms, my own complicated customized forms, 3x5 systems, you name it. But somehow I always come back to a simple spiral notebook :-) as a daily tool. Now, I am working on a household notebook, meaning a folder with all the important information and schedules. But that seems to be more of an backup, an archive for me. I just can’t run around the house all day with a large folder. I tried it. I don’t have enough counter space to keep it open. Another problem I had with trying to use the folder is that I like to check things off, add little notes where needed. When I tried to put my pages in page protectors, I got tired of pulling papers out to do this. I do not have any erasable markers right now and when I did have them, I didn’t like them. They never came completely off and they were way too thick to write with them. So, I put holes in my printed papers and just keep them like that in my folder. Still, the folder is something that is standing next to my computer and is not taken out more than once a day (either in the morning, when I do some planning or in the evening). I plan to work more on it and put some information and master schedules in it. But for constant daily use, I just keep a regular spiral notebook at my side (and a pencil). I just start a new page for each day, write my do to list on it, what I am going to cook, who I need to call. I also write my girl’s chores for the day on it. I copy any immediately needed information on it (like a phone number I need to call, a recipe I just looked up or any other notes). I feel free scribbling on it :-) , making notes, crossing things off. When I used a planner I was too perfectionist about it. I worried when I made a mistake, when I skipped several days, when I didn’t write nicely, etc. With a spiral bound notebook, even if there is some information that I don’t think is wise to keep or the children scribbled over it, I can just tear out a page and not worry about it. When I finish a notebook, I go over it one more time, noting if there is any important information I should copy somewhere. After that it’s gone – into the furnace! =) No guilt. It has served the purpose. I have tried to look better organized with a neat planner or notebook, but I am finally admitting that this works best for me.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
On the MakingItHome email group we were supposed to be working on our laundry rooms this week and take a look at our laundry schedules. Well, I do not have a laundry room (but hopefully will have in our new house, yeah!) I have written about my “laundry facilities” and habits in our household in previous posts, so I will not repeat them. Here they are for those, who have not read them yet: Laundry in My Home Part1 Part2. There are also several pictures there. I did however tidy up the area around the washer in the upstairs bathroom. There is not much work there, since I try to keep it clean on a daily basis. Still, here is a before/after pictures. I did throw out some things and moved others to a better place. As far as a laundry schedule, I don’t think I let members of our household take turns doing laundry in this particular situation. So, I wash the clothes usually. But the older children are being taught to sort the laundry, to hang it up correctly, to fold it and all of them have a responsibility to put away their clean clothes. I am also teaching them to hang up their clothes properly and keep an order in their closets (because this alone can ruin all of the work you with with washing/ironing/folding.) The younger ones are learning right now to fold properly socks and underwear. And to fold their own clothes. I need to make a better effort to teach the older ones to iron/press. I am also teaching my oldest at the moment to handle the spinner, which can be a pretty dangerous thing, so I don't let the younger ones touch it. This is my general laundry schedule for the week. But often it changes, because the clothes we wear vary and there are not always same needs. M - 1 load dark, 1 load light (both 40 Celsius) T - 1 load towels/whites (60C), 1 load dark or light (40C) W - 1 load dark, 1 load light (both 40C) or as needed Th - bed linens (usually 40C or 60C), blankets or curtains F - handwash items, 1 load light or dark (40C) I try not to wash clothes on the weekend, but sometimes I do a load on Saturday, but hardly ever on Sunday. About twice a month I boil, handwash, starch kitchen towels. About once in two months I wash all curtains. Decorative items get washed when deep cleaning a room.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
We have been waiting the whole winter for some snow. The rest of Europe got a pretty good share of it, but somehow we didn’t get any. As March rolled around, even without the snow, we were all ready for spring and the weather started to really get nice. Then suddenly, last Sunday, the weather changed and by Monday morning we woke up to a white landscape and had to pull out our shovels to clean a path from the house to the street. It basically snowed all Monday and part of Tuesday. It also snowed last night. The children were not excited at first (they had really hoped for spring), but when I pulled out the snow pants and the sled, they quickly adjusted and rejoiced in the winter fun! The snow storm on Sunday night was so strong, that it messed up the electricity lines, so we were without electricity and water for most of Monday morning. The children went to school, but were quickly sent back home, since the heating was not working. The children were so excited (although they are going to have to make up the school time sometime.) Today the snow started melting, so it was not suitable for playing anymore. The streets are dry again, but everything else is covered with snow. In a way it was very nice to get a “late present”. But now when this one melts, I truly hope that spring is on the way. I think we all are getting a bit of a cabin fever and want to be outside much more. I hope that the sun comes out again and dries the ground, because our dirt is very muddy and the children cannot play on grass until it’s completely dry. I think I am ready for spring!