Project #1 The Closet… Before and After

For some strange reason I thought today, Tuesday night, was the right time to start a project I’ve been putting off since I moved on August 13. I decided to tackle the hall closet. Now, let’s put this in perspective here. The problem has not gotten any better since August 13. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. By today, the closet looked like this:

Bad news, huh? I had in my mind that this task was going to take hours… days even. There were boxes to break down, stuff to organize, and really, that pile was pretty high. I began at 8:00 p.m. Two hours later, my closet looks like this:

Perfect? No. Better? Much. And this, is how I spent my time while watching the State of the Union:

Those my friends, are the moving boxes that I finally broke down. Those boxes saw me through four moves, and while they were officially through their U-haul declared useful life, disposing of them was a huge psychological task. It says I’m not planning on moving, and so I don’t need to save boxes just so I can start packing them mere months after I’ve unpacked. It also says that if I do move, I can now afford to buy a few new boxes. Amazing.


Work, Life, and the Never-Ending Search for Balance

The other weekend, I had the most amazing experience. Thanks to a Wednesday snow day, and the promise of a three-day weekend, I found myself extra motivated to aim for a weekend without work. I got my lessons planned by Thursday, planned out a schedule for busting out my narratives that included finishing early and not working at all on the weekend. I stayed later on Friday, wrote four more narratives and then headed off to my yoga class after which I didn’t check any work e-mail, or touch a piece of work until late Monday night. Instead, I spent Saturday with a friend exploring Wellesley where we relived our favorite Mona Lisa Smile scenes and promised to return in the Spring when there are even more photographs to be taken.

Sunday was church, followed by an afternoon at a friend’s house where we commiserated as we watched the Patriots lose. (Seriously, how did that happen!?) And finally there was Monday, spent at another friend’s house making cards, and swapping crazy teaching stories before Community Group. By the time I arrived back home, at 9:30 Monday night, I felt like I’d been on an extended vacation.

This, to me, is balance. Where a well-executed plan leads each weekend to feel as though it’s time spent away from the normal routine. It’s rare that I actually feel this way at the end of the weekend, but as 2011 progresses, I am increasingly eager to make sure that I experience this kind of balance more often.

Thursday: Bedroom

Ahhh… the bedroom. This is admittedly not a great shot, but it’s the two-room studio thing again. There are only so many angles from which I can take a picture without showing off one of my other zones.

Thursday is going to be bedroom day. This area tends to gather a lot of misplaced items by the end of the week, and I always find it nice to come in on Friday and see the room all cleaned up. It’s nice to squeeze in an afternoon nap where possible…. and I find that’s most possible when the bed is made and the room is clean. So Thursday’s plan:

  • Dust bookshelf, dresser, and bed
  • Vacuum carpet (this probably should be done twice a week… it’s beginning to show it’s age)
  • “Clean Sweep”
  • Deal with any clothes that have found their way onto the edge of the bed or the (gasp) floor of the bedroom.

Wednesday: Bathroom/Hallway/Laundry Day

No photo… sorry! The bathroom is where I like to dump most of my clothes. They seem to find their way there after my morning shower or my admittedly frequent evening bath. So, without further ado:

  • Return clothes to their proper place
  • Reorganize/declutter toiletries
  • Wipe down mirror
  • Scrub down shower, toilet, sink
  • Mop floor
  • Dust furniture in the hallway
  • Swiffer/Vacuum the hallway

Every few weeks or so, Wednesday will need to become “Laundry Day.” It’s easier to do it on Wednesday because it doesn’t interfere with the weekend (like today, when it just has to get done), and because the Bathroom/Hallway routine can easily be incorporated into another day of the week.

Tuesday: Living Room

Sorry for the blurry photo… I’m learning to take indoor photos, but I don’t have a tripod yet. The lighting is better than my previous indoor photos… but I clearly need something to stabilize the camera!

Anyway, This is where I spend most of my time. It’s a backwards view onto the couch, because I live in a two-room studio and the opposite view would show you my bedroom. I’m hoping to get a screen at some point, but it’s not a huge priority because I like how not having the screen makes it feel more open. Because I spend most of my time here, it is a HUGE accumulator of clutter. There’s the Christmas cards project that’s still hanging out on the floor, the giant basket of DVDs, the books in the library basket that I haven’t read in two months (and are now accumulating fines)… the list goes on. So… Tuesday is “Living Room Day” on which I will complete the following tasks:

  • Dust the television, side table, and entry way
  • Vacuum or Swiffer the floor (depending on the level of dirt)
  • Cull through book bin, pull out anything that needs to be returned to the library, etc.
  • Rearrange blankets on the couch/rocking chair
  • Do a “clean sweep”… return any items that are just hanging out in the living room to their proper place.

Monday: The Kitchen

I cook during the weekends, and all too often this means that the kitchen needs attention on Monday. Sure, it’d be great if the dishes all got washed and put away on Sunday, but that’s often not the way it works. So, Mondays are going to be deep kitchen cleaning day with the rest of the week devoted to maintenance.

Monday’s routine:

  • Put away dishes
  • Scrub counters
  • Clean stove
  • Soak and scrub sink
  • Clean microwave
  • Shake out table cloth
  • Tidy up desk area
  • File mail
  • Dust bookshelf and desk
  • Vacuum floor


  • Bi-Weekly: Mop
  • Monthly: Clean out cupboards, empty refrigerator, clean refrigerator

In the end, I’m hoping to see a little more of this!

Snow Day!!

I’m so grateful for this day to lounge around, and just be. There’s no need to go outside and run errands, there’s no need really, to get anything done at all. In spite of that, (or perhaps because of the fact that I have endless hours to spend at home) however, I’m feeling compelled to start a spring cleaning list:

  1. DUST and VACUUM… everything… under the bed, in the closets, under the couch, behind major furniture, etc.
  2. Tackle the linen closet… you know the one that has become my “I’ll just throw this in there” closet.
  3. Unclutter. There are many candidates for this particular task including: my dresser, my clothes closet, under the sink, my desk, my files, the bathroom… you get the picture
  4. Deal with the nagging tasks I’ve been putting off since moving: i.e. breaking down boxes, putting up curtains (or deciding not to once and for all…)

I’m thinking I will tackle one item each week… and my hope is to be done by spring. I mean really, who wants to spend a beautiful spring day inside!?

The Best Laid Plans

I disappeared for a few days. Why you ask? Well because I set out to make a pot of this chili on Sunday and ended up with a thumb that looks like this:

One trip to the ER and three stitches later, all my plans for the week flew out the window and in flew a few buckets of self pity. Anyway, I’m on the mend, and while it’s hard to do most serious housework one-handed, I’m at least ready to start brainstorming about what needs to get done!

Daily Routines

Daily routines are the worst. I never ever ever want to do them. And then, I’m bummed out when I don’t do them, and I wake up in the morning, and they’re not done. It’s like at school with my morning message. Part of my afternoon routine is to write a morning message on the board before I leave. I HATE having to do it in the morning. It just one more thing I have to do during an already busy period of the day. I love the feeling of walking into the room and just knowing it’s done. And yet, it is like pulling teeth to get myself to do it in the afternoon when all I want to do is leave. I’ve started thinking about though in terms of a gift that I’m giving myself. When I can fast forward in my brain to the Jen that has to walk into my classroom in the morning, and anticipate the pleasure I’ll receive from doing the onerous task now, I’m often able to get the job done. I need to begin to incorporate that thinking into my every day life.

And so, without further ado, the daily routines.

  • Morning: make the bed, open the shades, pull the shower curtain back over the bathtub, put laundry in the hamper and dishes in the dishwasher, empty dishwasher if necessary, pack lunch
  • Afternoon: sort, file, and recycle mail; chore of the day; empty lunchbox and refill waterbottle, spend time reading the Bible
  • Evening: put laundry in the hamper, wash dinner dishes, put dishes in the dishwasher, run the dishwasher if necessary, pull down the shades

Readers, I know you’re out there since you pop up every so often in my blog stats… help me out here. What am I missing in my list of daily routines?

Still to come: a weekly chore routine, and pictures of the first week’s work!

No News is Good News

I’ve been at a loss for words these last few days. I’ve started a few posts, and then abandoned them because really, I have very little to say. The beginning of the year is always tough like that. The holidays are over (although I still haven’t taken down my Christmas tree), and winter is just settling in for a LONG stay. I’m more than ready for spring already, but I’m fighting the urge to count down, and am trying to live in the moment. Because really, spring will come soon enough.

The countdown has long since been something I’ve been known for. I count down EVERYTHING… but it’s really been getting to me lately. I mean, what exactly is it that I’m counting down to? I have this one life to live… and a quarter of it is going to spent during the winter. Am I really going to insist on rushing through a quarter of my life? That seems somewhat foolish. Still, the living in the moment thing is easier said than done when there are moments that you’d rather not live through… moments you’d just like to pass. It’s a challenge, but it’s one I’m taking on for the new year.

Anyway, I’ve also been spending some time (again) thinking about really implementing some routines. When I first moved into my apartment I created a list of daily and weekly routines that would help my life to run more smoothly, and help me avoid spending every Saturday morning scrubbing down the apartment. While I have to say the busy-ness of life contributed to their being an epic failure, I’m ready to begin again. I’m thinking there will be blog posts… with pictures to kick off the new routines!