Building Habits – Week 2

Last week I started to practice the habit of having all dishes washed, dried, and put away before going to bed. This way, when I get up in the morning and start making breakfast, the kitchen is clean and easier to work in.

I am very happy to say that I was successful every night other than Friday night. We celebrate the Sabbath from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night and I don’t do any housework on the Sabbath. Dishes from all of Sabbath were washed and put away on Saturday after sundown. It was really nice having a clean kitchen all week.

This week I am going to continue building the habit of having all dishes washed before going to bed. Because that went so well, I’m going to start building another habit of cleaning the cat boxes every morning. My kitties deserve cleaner litter boxes. Hopefully I am successful this week as well!

Habit #1 – at the end of each day, all dishes will be washed, dried, and put away.
Habit #2 – at the beginning of each day, both cat boxes will be cleaned.

A new goal

Months ago, I started working on smart habits. For some reason, I allowed myself to become lazy and let my newly formed habits lapse. Now that I’m starting to get serious about my homemaking, I want to dedicate myself to building good habits.

Lara encourages people to start with small habits that will build on each other. Instead of saying that “I want to keep my house clean” I will start with smaller habits. Once I establish those smaller habits, I will find that my house naturally stays clean.

The first habit I want to establish involves eliminating dirty dishes. We are constantly washing a couple plates or forks while soaking pots sit in the sink. Ew.

Habit #1 – at the end of each day, all dishes will be washed, dried, and put away.

I’m almost ready for bed and all of my dishes are washed. It’s a great feeling.

Sabbath preparation

I am SO glad that tomorrow is Sabbath. We will not be attending church as my hubby isn’t feeling very good. But to have a day to stay home with no chores and all that time to study the Bible or read or sleep! It sounds lovely.

Today I cleaned the apartment quite a bit for the Sabbath. I like cleaning the bathroom on Sabbath because that somehow makes the whole apartment feel cleaner. I just have to put a plug in here for 7th Generation tub cleaner. That stuff is super cleaner! My tub just keeps getting cleaner and cleaner every week that I scrub it out. I also washed our sheets, vacuumed the floors, swept the kitchen, washed all the dishes, ironed our church clothes, and straightened up around the living room.

This morning I decided it was time to make beans. I have a recipe to make refried beans in the crock pot with no added fat, so they aren’t technically “refried.” They taste pretty good, though. The beans have to cook for six hours but don’t require an overnight soak. They were done at 4:30 this afternoon, so I mashed them up and stored them in the fridge.

The plan for dinner this evening was to have burritos with beans, rice, tomatoes, etc. We were out of fresh vegetables so we ran to the store after hubby was off work. On a whim, I checked the frozen section to see if Morningstar Farms is making vegan burger crumbles yet (nope, no luck). Instead, I noticed that Boca Burger now has a vegan burger crumble. Hurray! We bought a bag and quickly switched to soft shelled tacos. AFTER I made beans, of course. Oh well. They’ll be good for the weekend and early next week.

My kitty seems to be feeling a bit better today. He’s not as hot to the touch and he has a little bit more energy. He still spent most of the day sleeping on my pillow, but I think he’s on the mend.

Caught up

It’s so nice to have all the housework caught up. I know housework is never “done” but it’s so much easier to stay on top of it when you’re not deep cleaning all the time. Today I came home from my workout, ate breakfast, washed the dishes, and spent some time cleaning the kitchen. There wasn’t much to do – wipe off the counters, wipe off the cupboard doors, clean out the microwave, sweep, and spot mop the floor.

Because I didn’t have to spend much time on my cleaning today, I spent extra time working on my Japanese. We don’t have money for college classes, so I’m using resources online. Today I studied for two hours. Usually I aim for an hour a day, 6 days a week, but I studied way more than was planned this afternoon. My brain is fried. In a good way.


Today is the third day in a row that I have washed, dried, and put away ALL the dishes. I think it’s a personal record.

My schedule is working fairly well so far. In the mornings, I clean. I’m assigning one room to each day and cleaning it thoroughly, plus completing the chores that have to be done every single day. Then I spend the first hour after lunch studying Japanese. I feel like I’m learning a lot since I’m finally putting in the necessary time.

After studying Japanese, I work on whatever project is in progress. Today I spent more time in the afternoon cleaning off my desk. I made myself decide: am I going to throw this away, put it away in its proper place, or file it? I forced myself to choose one of the three options instead of merely shuffling things around the apartment. It took hours today. My desk cleaning is almost complete, other than a few odds and ends that I will finish up tomorrow.

Now if I could just find time to quilt… I keep putting off the quilting because I feel that everything else is more important. Hubby says I need to make time to quilt instead of only pulling it out after everything else is done. I just feel guilty spending time doing something fun instead of productive, though quilting is both fun and productive. Tomorrow I’m definitely setting aside some time to work on my quilt.

Busy times

Why is it that house guests wear me out so quickly, even when I love them? I wouldn’t trade this time for the world, but the pace of our days is much busier than I am used to. Combine that with my increased exercise these past two weeks and Sabbath couldn’t come at a better time.

We’ve already been really busy. Wednesday evening, hubby and I took my brother and his wife to the Phoenix Art Museum. When we finished exploring the museum, we stopped by the library, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and ColdStone. No worries; I’m being strict with my diet and didn’t partake in either Starbucks or ColdStone but both smelled really good.

Thursday morning, we completed a 45 minute cardio session with a P90X DVD. The workout didn’t seem as hard as the Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred DVD. The P90X cool down left much to be desired so we left the house and walked 2.5 miles. In the afternoon, I taught my brother and his wife how to play one of my favorite games – Ticket to Ride. They seemed to enjoy it and my hubby and I enjoyed the opportunity to play with four total players instead of our usual two.

Thursday afternoon saw me spending another hour or so finishing up my mom’s cloth napkins. Then we all carpooled up to The Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom. The restaurant has really good hummus. I wish I could figure out how to make my hummus taste like that.

After dinner, hubby, myself, my brother, and his wife all stopped into Macy’s to search for a birthday present for my mom. Her birthday is the second week of June but we will be celebrating it over Memorial Day (along with my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day). My brother is traveling to Iraq the first week of June so we are cramming a bunch of celebrations into one long weekend at the end of May.

This morning I skipped my exercise. I was just too tired from all the running around we’ve been doing. Thankfully, I’ve been waking up about 20 minutes before the rest of the house so I’ve had quiet time each morning to read from the Bible. That’s a nice blessing. Later this morning, my brother, his wife, and I visited a nearby mall looking for the present he couldn’t find last night. After an hour and a half of visiting nearly half the stores in the mall, we declared it an unfruitful trip. At least we got a lot of walking!

Now my brother and his wife are off to pick up his daughter. They, my mom, and her boyfriend are going to a concert tonight. Hubby should be home any time now, as soon as he finishes with his client. Because I’m the only one home, I took the opportunity to catch up on dishes and tidy up the kitchen. Then I decided I might as well vacuum. While vacuuming, I figured I might as well sweep the kitchen and clean out the cat litter boxes. Even though I’m very tired, the work kept calling my name and it’s a pleasure to know that my hubby will return home to a clean house and a calm wife.

I think I’m going to read for awhile until my hubby calls to say he’s on his way home. I picked up several Christian nonfiction books about marriage and homemaking and I’m excited to see what I can learn. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and a very restful Sabbath!

Cleaning the bathroom

I finally got off my lazy behind and cleaned the bathroom. I scrubbed down all the walls, cleaned the sink, sorted through the medicine chest, scoured the toilet, and mopped the floor.

Everything except the tub is spotless. The tub is daunting as it has several years of dirt buildup on the bottom and no amount of cleaner and elbow grease has cut through the grime. Yesterday I picked up a bottle of Seventh Generation tub and tile cleaner, hoping that will do the trick. I ran out of energy this afternoon so I’ll be tackling that pesky tub tomorrow morning. You would think that all the extra work would teach me to stay on top of the housework so that cleaning is maintenance instead of scrubbing. Ha.

In my effort to eliminate clutter, I pulled everything out of the medicine chest and from under the sink. In total, I trashed 21 items from the medicine chest and another 13 from under the bathroom sink. It was just stuff we didn’t use – cleaners that don’t work, shampoo that I can’t stand… If we don’t use it, why hang on to it?

The apartment is finally starting to feel clean. The living room is messy right now because we still have a huge pile to drop off at the donation bin, but it’s all coming together. I am determined to get into the habit of daily cleaning so that I don’t have to deep clean like this. It takes company coming to get motivated to really clean and that shouldn’t be the case. I should be cleaning for God, for my husband, and for my sanity. I can think so much better in a clean and uncluttered house.

If you need to clean your house, what are you waiting for? It’ll be worthwhile.

Spare Bedroom Revisited

Our spare bedroom looks so much different than the picture posted yesterday. I can see the carpet! All I have left to do is clear out the last few things that we are eliminating, vacuum, and make the bed. That’s it!

I closed the door on the closet. If I can’t see it, it’s not a mess, right?

Tomorrow I’m going to tackle the main bathroom. I’m going to sort through the medicine chest and under the sink and scrub the sink/toilet/floors. The bathtub is going to have to wait as I still haven’t figured out how to get it clean. Elbow grease isn’t working, neither are three different cleaners.

It feels good to purge junk out of our home. I’ll have to look again in six months and determine if there are even more things that can be eliminated. Less clutter, less waste, less cleaning. I’m all for less.

Spare Room Progress

I have been spending all of my time cleaning and sorting through JUNK in the spare room. I am determined that the room will be clean and organized by the end of next Tuesday. I have 4 working days. Instead of keeping up with the dishes, vacuuming, etc., I have done nothing but cook and clean the spare bedroom. I’m resorting to using the dishwasher during the week. *gasp*

Here is what our spare bedroom looked like on Sunday morning:

And this is not the worst it has ever looked… Here is our spare bedroom at the end of today:

Much better, but it is still ugly. Here is what our “dining room” looked like a couple hours ago:

This is how much stuff has to still get moved out of our apartment and I’m not even done in the spare bedroom. We’ve already dropped off four boxes of books, several boxes of clothes, and hubby took out three boxes of trash right before I snapped this photo. It really is disgusting! Every time a box of books or clothes or JUNK leaves the house, I feel a little bit more relief. That is less JUNK I have to pack up and move someday. That is less JUNK that I have to organize or clean. That is less JUNK that I have to rummage through to find what I’m looking for. If it’s been boxed up or stored away for the past four years, we obviously didn’t need it.

So I am making a lot of progress. I’ve been keeping a running tally of how much JUNK has been carried out of here and I will post it once I’ve finished with the spare bedroom. All of that money wasted. All of that time we’ve already spent carting it from one residence to another. All of that eyesore. And I still have to tackle the spare bedroom closet. Ugh.

Who knew I had so much?

Why is it that my house always gets messier before it gets clean? In the book I just finished reading, The Rewards to Simplicity, Mrs. Pierce recommends cleaning out closets before tackling the rest of your house. At first, this seemed backwards, as no one but myself and hubby ever see the closets. Once I finished reading the chapter, her advice made total sense. When you clean out the closets, you have room to store and put away the stuff around your house that should be in your closet.

With that objective in mind, I started cleaning out the closet in our master bedroom. I should have taken a picture first. We had stuff piled up on the two shelves so that they couldn’t be utilized. Two long racks were stuffed full of clothes. I had stacked two boxes on the floor and one on the shelf that was full of winter clothes and clothing that didn’t fit at the time I packed the box. Too bad I forgot where my winter clothes were packed and went through this winter with only half of my sweaters.

I discovered that our cats picked a big hole in the carpeting to the rear of the closet and one of them had peed on a jacket that had fallen on the floor (that explained the cat pee smell that we couldn’t pin down). That will teach me to not pick up my clothes. The cats are no longer allowed in the closet.

I pulled out all the clothes that fit in one of these categories:
1 – They don’t fit and I don’t like them anyway.
2 – I don’t like them.
3 – They don’t fit my standards of modesty (my skirts have gotten longer and I rarely wear pants).

The clothes on the right side of the chair are those that I’m keeping. Most are winter clothes and need to be packed (and remembered) for next winter. I’m also keeping the clothes draped across the back of the chair as they finally fit again. Yay! The huge stack on the floor is getting donated to charity, all in great condition.

I’m not sure what to do with the jeans… there are five pairs sitting on the chair right now, most too small but in good condition. Even when I reach my ideal weight, I won’t wear them. I’ve been collecting jeans for awhile to make a denim quilt but I kind of feel like I should donate the pairs that can still be worn. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them.

I have a lot of clothes and I only wear a small portion of them. Is this where the 80/20 rule comes into play, only wearing 20% of my clothes 80% of the time? In my need/desire to simplify, I’m cleaning out the closets. I can’t wait until I can actually find the piece of clothing I am looking for!