The game of Thanksgiving prep

I’m hosting Thanksgiving again this year, which is something I love to do. I’m not the least bit intimidated by roasting a turkey or throwing together the family’s favorite side dishes. I play to my strengths, avoid making pies (I can’t make a decent pie crust to save my soul!) and pull off a pretty nice holiday.

I approach holiday preparation as if I’m playing a football game. First quarter is shopping. I hate crowds, which I consider the opposing team. I want to get to the goal with as few obstacles as possible. Second quarter is cleaning the house, which is definitely the toughest quarter for me. I can become so easily distracted. I could use a good coach to keep my head in the game. Third quarter is pulling together the details such as getting the table ready, bringing out the serving dishes and some last minute decorating. I shine in the third quarter because I love making things look special. Fourth quarter is cooking the meal. It’s focus time! You win or lose a game in the fourth quarter. If you fall apart in the fourth, it doesn’t matter what happened in the previous quarters. This is when I pull the husband off the bench and have him run a few special plays. It makes all the difference!

So, the first quarter is over. Shopping is completed and I’m ahead of the game. But, it’s the beginning of the dreaded second quarter. I’ve been away from home a fair amount (just returned from sunny Arizona!), so the house is, shall we say, a little “untidy.”  Unless I stay on top of things, I fall seriously behind on housework. Dust bunnies multiply like, well bunnies! Counters become a dumping ground for mail, newspapers and other miscellaneous junk. Bathrooms go from sparkling clean to resembling those found at remote gas stations. I’m finding it hard to dig in and motivate myself to dust, mop, vacuum, etc.

I could use a few cheerleaders about now, especially if they don’t mind scrubbing a toilet or two!

Looking for yard/garage sale tips

 I’ve made quite a bit of progress decluttering my home (and trying to help my mother do the same). Some items have already been donated to thrift stores, but since we have some furniture and other large scale items, I thought I’d try unloading them via a yard sale. (It has to be a yard sale, ‘cause the husband won’t let strangers near his garage!)

I’ve held one or two yard sales and helped with a few others, but I lack *finesse in this department. Knowing that I don’t want to put in a lot of effort for little return, I began searching the web for tips. I came across the following article, which covers a lot of ground and provides useful information.

OrganizedHome.Com: Clean House, Cut Clutter and Get Organized at Home!

Please feel free to share your yard/garage sale finesse!

My yard/garage sale finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your yard/garage sale finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

A “collector” chooses organization

I recently wrote about trying to help my mother begin the overwhelming task of becoming organized. I readily admit to not being organized by nature (wonder where I get that?), but I have picked up some skills that help me achieve an efficient, calm, organized lifestyle. I thought if mom took an organizational class, her eyes would be opened to a whole new world where there’s “a place for everything and everything is in its place.” Oh, if it had only been that easy.

Mom’s a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of gal. She’s always ready for fun and has the ability to make people feel comfortable. If someone needs her, she drops everything and is there for them. It’s easy to see why she has a LOT of friends. And her friends give her gifts, which she proudly displays. As I mentioned in the previous post, her collection of stuff flows throughout her lovely 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in a seemingly endless display of visual clutter.

Evil Clutter Fairy: "Three weeks after throwing something away you'll need it again."

We attended the organizational class in the summer and she resisted all requests to begin the process of elimination – until a week before Christmas. Mom wanted to host Christmas dinner at her house and understands I have a hard time relaxing while surrounded by clutter. I was fine with her hosting, and she reluctantly accepted my offer to help her get her kitchen and family room organized and festive.

I won’t say it wasn’t challenging, and at times it was even painful, but the process was started. We continued to go through her home one day a week through Feb. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’ve got a long way to go. I’ll keep you updated!

My organization finesse level: 
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What’s your organization finesse level?

If you need some coaching, contact –

House cleaning tips from a professional!

I’m not a great housekeeper when working part time, so I knew things were going to go downhill very quickly when I suddenly found myself working full time. I knew I needed the help of Charla Hughes. Charla owns and operates A Touch of Class Cleaning, Inc. with her business partner and life-long friend Marci Duby. I have to say, having them come into my home every other week and make it sparkle and shine saved my sanity.

Q: Charla, what’s the most common misconception about using a cleaning service?

A: The most common misconception I have found is people feel that you need to be RICH to afford a house cleaning service. This is just not true. The main purpose of getting help with your home is just that… getting the ‘help’ you ‘need’. You may only need your bathrooms and all floors cleaned to ease the stress load of your household chore list, or maybe just the floors vacuumed and mopped. A house cleaning company should be able to create a service that fits your exact needs, no more and no less. The cost of a personally tailored house cleaning service can be very reasonable and made to fit your budget. We hire an auto shop to take care of our cars, why not a house cleaning service to take care of our homes?

Q: Name three things we can do to make cleaning less of a chore?

A1: One of the most challenging obstacles I find is locating the many types of cleaning chemicals and supplies needed. For the bathroom alone, the grocery store sells us products for our toilet, our shower, our sinks and the counters, another one for the mirror and yet another one for the floor! This is insanity and costly! Instead, purchase a large caddy, and then find these simple products: glass cleaner, multi-purpose disinfectant, de-greaser and a floor cleaning product that will clean all types of floors (they are out there). On one side of the caddy you should have 4 squirt bottles that easily fit and contain these products (be sure to label). On the other side place cleaning tools such as a small and large cleaning brush, a pumice stone, a feather duster, maybe some abrasive cleaner such as Ajax, dusting spray and an SOS pad in a baggie. The point is to have ONE caddy that easily and comfortably fits ALL your cleaning supplies for you entire home. Simple, fast and economic!

A2: “Top to bottom, back to front, left to right.” When you enter a room, the most thorough and effective way to clean is to start from your left and work top to bottom, working your way around the room. Along the way, clean back to front, shaking out all debris onto the floor as they are always the last to do. You will be amazed at the amount of time you save by cleaning methodically in this fashion.

A3: Set a time limit. For a routine cleaning, you don’t need to spend all day. Bathrooms on a once every TWO weeks basis should only take 35 minutes and typical kitchens 45 minutes to an hour depending on size and amount of stuff on the counters. Living rooms and family rooms take approximately 15 minutes and bedrooms between 30 and 45 minutes. Keep in mind that this is house CLEANING time limits. Picking up and putting away is not part of the equation.

Q: Now that spring has arrived, is there something specific we should tackle inside our homes?

A: Spring is the BEST time to clean our windows inside and out. Let that light shine in!! It’s also my favorite time to clean out bulging closets. Spring cleaning means little projects that are taken on one at a time. These are extra projects and should NOT to be included in routine cleaning otherwise our weekly cleaning can become very daunting when we try to take it all on at once.

 Extra tip: Finally…. when your home is cleaned, light some candles, turn on relaxing music and sit down with your favorite beverage. You deserve to sit and soak in the essence of a job well done! There is nothing like a clean home to clear your mind and help sort your thoughts. It helps you to turn your thoughts and your attention to the most important ones in your life… your family! And don’t forget to take a mental picture of your home clean and all put together.  Soon your loved ones will walk in the door and their ‘Love Prints’ (aka their stuff), will be back. But be thankful for those ‘Love Prints.’ A happy, healthy home is never without them. Happy cleaning!

My housekeeping finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert     

What’s your housekeeping finesse level?
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert