Deep Cleaning Routines

Angela wrote after reading my Shiny New Year post:  " Terri, could you please speak about your deep cleaning routine? I would love to eliminate the big seasonal clean. As I get older it is just not doable and I find myself always behind!"  Girl, I so understand!  The reason I broke my cleaning down into a 3 month long routine was to eliminate the seasonal deep clean.  Yes, it's nice to have all the house at once all clean and fresh but it takes too much effort the older you get.  I'd rather have it continually clean, rather than just once every six months or so.  You'll note too that I said I do these tasks every three months.

Daily routines are easy and accomplished in a matter of an hour or so.  I've shared before what my daily routine is.  It consists mainly of the top five: make the bed, clean the floors, wipe down the baths, empty trash, clear the dishes.

I divided my home into four zones (five really but you'll see why I say four in a few moments).  I allot one week (six days of cleaning) to each zone.  The final two or three days of the month are usually allotted to maintenance cleaning/clearing in the shed, so I can keep that in some semblance of order, hence that is my 5th zone).  I have monthly cleaning tasks and quarterly cleaning tasks 

Meal Plan for the Week

A quiet finish to the week in my home.  John is not feeling up to par.  He reminds me periodically that he is not sick but simply resting to keep from being ill.  It's cold and cloudy and very windy today.  Ever since we've entered winter season on the 21st the weather has been decidedly wintry.  I'm not complaining.  Winter here means cold days with freezing nights and bouts of rain.  We had rain again last night.  I noted that there was only a 10% chance of rain on the weather forecast.  I should be so lucky with a lottery ticket!

Meals...Nothing appeals to my husband just now.  So I am just making whatever I want myself and hoping he'll eat some of it.  I'm trying to plan meals that are Vitamin C rich, nourishing, aromatic enough to penetrate a stuffy head.

Tamale Pie, Green Salad, Clementines
I'll use thawed chili from the freezer and add corn to the mixture, then top with cornbread  and cheese.  I haven't made a tamale pie in quite awhile and don't want to make a big 9 X 13 pan of it this time, so I'll try to keep the proportions smaller.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup, Corn Bread, Peach Cobbler
Leftovers from our porcupine meatball dinner last week will be 'madeover' into my version of stuffed cabbage soup.  I'll make a peach cobbler with peaches that expire this month.  I hope it will tempt John to eat a bit more.

Sprucing up the Entryways

I wanted to put something on my doors now that the holiday season is over.  Typically winter is my 'bare door' time which is rather depressing when you consider that 9 months out of the year something is usually hung on the doors for decorative effect.  This year, I've decided that winter is not going to depress me with lack of flowers, door wreaths or  curb appeal.  So I've set aside money to purchase pansies to plant in the pots (and parsley and cilantro seeds to sow, nice cool weather herbs), and daffodil bulbs which should make their appearance in a few weeks time to add to the joy.

It meant a good bit of work to create the curb appeal, such as it is.  The leftover pots from summer and fall blooms had to be cleared away.  I had to move a few furniture pieces off the deck and onto the patio.  I rearranged what I left there and then arranged my pots.  Then I hung my wreath on the back door.  I mean to paint this door the same color red as the front door, which I love.  I got it at Walmart and it's a mix called Candied Apple.

All Shiny and New

That's the way I like to face the New though every last thing were all shiny and new and all the old things were swept away.  Well it's hardly ever so, is it?  We face the New Year with whatever cares were ours when we ended the old one.  I don't suppose I'm any different from all the millions that magazine publishers target this time of year...yes and telemarketers and inspirational speakers and weight loss companies and home organization experts.  There's good reason for all this focus and industry:  we all want change with the New Year.

However, I do believe that I have the power to improve my lot each year.  So what am I looking to improve in the coming year of 2013?

I've been walking through my home this past week looking at areas that just aren't working for me.  Some areas are merely cluttered and just need a little time and attention that has been sadly lacking in the past six months, like the back deck and entry, the bookcases, my clothing drawers.  Some have just never worked well at all, like the plastics storage area in the kitchen, that storage area above the trash/cleaning cupboard  and a few other small areas.  Some just need to be refined or completed; what's in place is working well up to a point: my closet, the baking area I set up, the storage area for appliances.

Coffee Chat - Post Christmas/Pre-New Year

Well...It's all over and done now isn't it?  It was a most lovely time for us this year.  We had a long weekend with the littlest grandchildren, and conversations with the older ones.  We had phone calls, and family gatherings of various sorts and of course, there was good food, cookies, presents to be enjoyed.  AND there was lots of hard work, cleaning, holiday work and long days to be got through as well.  It was a long, tiring, glorious time.  I felt positively exhausted in the nicest way when it was all said and done. Christmas night I settled in my chair as soon as John left to go to work.  I turned off the television, settled in my chair with what had become my go to supper in these hectic paced days, spinach dip and corn chips, a few Christmas cookies and small whiskey and Coke.

I gazed at the Christmas tree in all it's glory and decided I'd slowly undecorate it this year instead of all at once.  I decided to remove one set of ornaments each day.  That allows me to keep the tree up until the very last day of this month.  I never leave my tree up for New Year's day.  Not superstition but simply the feeling that I should start a New Year with a clean slate (and a clean house and no evidence of previous holidays).

My interest in leaving the tree up this year is that it's our last year with this tree.  It's shedding, and leaning crookedly no matter how much we straighten it.  The top portion ceased to light up last year, so we bought new lights for that section and this year when I plugged in the tree the whole middle section refused to light up but then suddenly did.  John announced this year as the last year.

This tree was 'ours'.  John chose it and ordered it in early August and it didn't arrive until just days before Christmas.  That was the year of the dock worker's strike and there sat our tree until the strike was over some months later.  It was a big change to go from an 8 foot tree that took days and days to decorate to a four foot pre-lit tree that took just a day to decorate.  I think this tree is twelve years old...It's lasted well. I just feel a wee bit sentimental over it.

Merry Christmas!

No snow for us. Rain and fog and today, thunder and lightning.  Not complaining.  The Blue House yard hasn't had puddles in eons and the rain is very much appreciated.  I'm doing just what one ought to be doing on Christmas Eve, sitting here gazing at the Christmas tree, watching A Christmas Carol and letting my mind wander over tomorrow's menu plan trying to determine if after all I can't come up with one more fab recipe from the pantry?

But then I thought of all of you.  Your comments, your encouragement, your loyalty and steadfastness.  Thank you.  And let me say quite sincerely, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a very Merry Christmas indeed.

Shabat Thoughts - Word Power

"You is smart, you is pretty, you is kind...."  This line from the book/movie 'The Help' has been echoing in my head today.  John often did much the same over our children: "You are smart.  You are handsome.  You are pretty.  You are intelligent."  He believes above all things that what he speaks over our children will be manifested in them.

He often cautioned me to be more careful of the words I spoke.  As a new Christian, I studied my Bible and I became more and more aware of why:

Proverbs 12:18  The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (NIV)

 Matt 15:18, But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.(ESV)

Menu Plans - Holiday Countdown

I've been busy busy busy, just like everyone else I'm sure.  So busy that I meant to write out this week's menu plan last night then got busy with a project and forgot until this evening!  I'm going just as fast as I can, mind reeling with a dozen things and for some reason, already focusing on gifts I'd like to make for next year and I'm not even through with this year yet!  We just won't mention the projects I keep thinking I'd like to start.  I considered one today around noon when I was up to my ears in tasks and lists and had to stop myself.  "Seriously think about this before you start.  Do you really want to spend this precious bit of time doing this task that can easily wait until after holidays or work on holiday lists?"  Well...the answer of course, was to get done what would give me relief from stress so holiday work list it was.  The other job will wait.  It's only one more week and one day after all and then the big rush is over for us here in my home.

Salisbury Steak, Onion Gravy, Rice, Butter beans and Green Salad, Biscuits
Cold and rainy out and all warm within.  For all that this comfort food, truly it comes together quickly.  The butter beans take the longest to cook.  I used frozen hamburger patties and dusted them with flour and seasonings.  They just need to brown either side, then make the gravy, plunk in the meat and cover and simmer while the rice is cooking and the biscuits are made up and baked.

Shabat Thoughts - The Calling

Just after Thanksgiving I had the flu.  The last thing, the very last thing,  I wanted to do was to entertain anyone.  And yet, I had not one but two of my circle suggest a long visit and a third one call on me in the hopes I could offer a bit of tea and sympathy for her own case of the flu.

There are times, when I feel burdened by others' expectations of me, when I want to just run and shelter somewhere until everyone's needs are met and I can sneak out of my hiding place while they are happily occupied elsewhere.  Being an introvert by nature, prone to feel overly anxious about my ability to meet the needs of multiple people at once, I am an unlikely candidate to be favored by others for company.  I struggle with this often when I am hale and hearty.  When I'm ill or stressed otherwise, I can go to pieces over the idea of having to meet anyone's needs, no matter how undemanding they are.

Frugal Week In My Home

In the Kitchen:
If ever there is a month to feel unthrifty in the kitchen, it has to be December.  I find it a challenge and I haven't even begun the baking I mean to do!  To help offset costs, I've been trying hard to avoid any waste.  This week I score high on that.  The only thing I've tossed this week is the butt end of a loaf of Challah bread.  John used most of it for peanut butter sandwiches but that last bit lingered around too long.

Made pancakes from scratch this morning and put some in the freezer for a future breakfast.

Organized the refrigerator so that all the leftovers were in one area.  That worked nicely for supper tonight. I  just took out containers and we played Catch Can.  I only had one item to put back in the fridge.

Using What I Have Celebration, Pt. III

I've continued to take my time decorating.  The mantel got a little decor.  I've since added the two quail to the mantel (they are visible to the left on the small shelf on the wall).  What's on the little shelf now?  A pretty little red bird sitting upon snow covered pine cones. 

This week I focused on two areas: the back door and the dining room table.  Last year I used a pine swag on the back door and covered it with copper cookie cutters and cinnamon sticks.  Two years ago I decorated it with sugar plum fruits (beaded fruit picks).  This year, I wanted something else.  Here's what I came up with:
I added one of the pine picks I bought this year ($3 at Hobby Lobby) to the original pine/berry swag and the porcelain quails I'd been using on my autumn wreath this year.  I love the creamy color on the birds. Not only do they really stand out against the green swag they are gorgeous up close as well. 

You can see the quails  here on the autumn wreath.  At the time I just whitewashed the birds.  The original finish on them was flat brown paint.  I like the cream colored paint much much better.

I was so happy with that, I decided to redo the dining table centerpiece.  Originally I set up the cornucopia with beaded fruits, just as I'd done last year.  I thought it was pretty then, but this year...It just seemed fussy compared to the simplicity of the buffet.  I was setting the table for Shabat this afternoon and happened to see the little green urn I bought at the local flea market.  Wheels began to turn and here's what I came up with:
I had a Styrofoam ball that I'd never used, which I covered with glue and moss.  And in the true spirit of 'use what you have', when the moss failed to stick to the glue, I used floral wire to craft my own u-pins to hold the moss in place.  Then I stripped down the fruit picks and began to work my way around the moss covered ball.  This is the result.  You can see the hurricanes on the buffet in the background match the green urn rather nicely. (I had John move the poinsettia/pine arrangement from the center of the buffet as it kept competing with the urn in the photo.)  John says he likes this much better than the cornucopia which seemed strange to him for Christmas. 

And that's this week's "Using What I Have Celebration".  I'm linking to:

Coffee Chat Sunday - Holiday Helter Skelter

Well, do sit down.  I'll have you a nice hot cup of coffee in a few moments.  We're 'getting by' at present with this single cup coffeemaker but we'll remedy that later this week I am most certain.  There's a chocolate pound cake.  I didn't have time to bake proper this week and knew I'd be starting Christmas baking this week so I didn't have to think too hard about taking that cake from the freezer.  Who couldn't use a tad more room?

I haven't been up to much yet, the week just past still being partly one of recovery from flu and not housekeeping for another week.  Oh my gracious!  It does just sort of slide off downhill doesn't, that housework I mean?  I dusted this morning.  I do so loathe dusting but it is easy enough I suppose when you're decorating to clear off a spot, dust, then put up the decorations.    There's much to be done just yet.  I thinned out the things on top of my big tall bookcase and now that looks too bare.

This Week's Meals

Another week is gone and that means we're one week closer to both Christmas and the end of the year.  Yikes!  We'll be singing "For Auld Lang Syne" before we know it!

I sat down last night and began to try and plan meals for the holiday season starting with weekend before Christmas which is when I expect my family to come if they can make it at all.  I've got a couple of meals planned out but need to work on the rest of them.  For the most part I'm planning to make and freeze and then thaw and heat that weekend.  It seems the best way to manage company and holiday moods and food to me.

In the meantime, it occurred to me last night after I'd gone to bed, that I'd been better prepared if I'd planned this week's meals first and then taken something out to thaw.  Oh. My.  Well I wasn't getting out of bed once I'd hopped in, so I waited until this morning.  That worked out the best anyway, since John came in, got called out to go back to work and I was home alone all morning long to do housework and make plans.

Shabat Thoughts - Kindness

This past week I noted with interest the photos of the young police officer who bought a homeless man boots to keep his feet warm.  The story went viral.

It wasn't long, of course, before the media 'busted' the story.  It turned out the homeless man wasn't homeless, but actually had a place to stay, was an alcoholic and had 'misplaced' the shoes.  Media sources I listened to were outraged that this young officer had provided for someone undeserving.

Of course, since the story initially went viral, there were questions asked amongst the populace about what to do to prevent such things happening and about personal opinions.  Well you know what they say about opinions:  everyone has one.

Using What I Have Celebration Pt. II

I am so pleased to be featured at Hibiscus House for Farmgirl Friday with my Christmas pillows!  I'm joining up again this week, linking through Hibiscus House. 

I'm also linking up with Sunny Simple Life for  Sunny Simple Sunday.

I spent a little time creating this past week.  I wanted new wreaths for my doors.  I stripped down an old wreath and decided to use what I had to make a new one. I will be working on the second wreath this weekend.  In the meantime, I'll show you what I came up with for my front door:

My Frugal Week

My little 'Christmas' project, using just what I had on hand...

In The Kitchen:  

We went a full pay period without purchasing groceries.  I picked up milk and bread and a snack item for us for here at home, but we skipped the whole grocery store experience entirely for one whole pay period.  I spent about the same amount I'd normally spend on one of those 'in between' trips to the store, right at $40.

Second grocery frugal:  we bought a few grocery items while we were on vacation because we always cook most of our meals while we're away.  Does that sound like  I spent grocery money, and didn't really have a savings?  Wrong!  I had money set aside for vacation foods.  It's planned into our budget for the trip.

We planned to visit with the grandchildren (it was the twins first birthday) on the way back home and because that was another over night stay we didn't want to pack up a lot of food to try and keep cold for 36 hours.  We decided Friday to go out to eat for our dinner meal and opted for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our supper.  I think we spent about what we probably would have at the supermarket for snacks and food for Friday on our dinner, so it was an even swap.  And the bonus was not having leftovers to haul about.

This Week's Meal Plan - Gobbleish

I came to a conclusion this weekend: a whole turkey is an awful lot of turkey for just two.  Next year I mean to have my turkey on Thanksgiving Day regardless of who has planned to claim the day.  I mean to have my feast on the feast day and if it's the second time I eat or the first, it will be just as tasty.

I am recovering well from the flu.  IF I stop pretending I don't feel a little weak and keep pushing myself to do just two or three things more.  John has been a wonderful help, doing the bulk of the meal planning and such this past week, but I roused myself Saturday and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two.  I kept the menu simple, no need of four sides and two salads and three desserts for just the two of us.  I made Turkey, stuffing, Mashed potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie.  I put a pie, half a turkey breast, stuffing and a prepared entree of turkey and stuffing in the freezer.  We still have plenty for turkey salad sandwiches, plus two quarts of broth from the carcass and another cup or more of meat bits.  John's mentioned having numerous favorite turkey dishes.  For my part, I'm starting to feel gobble-ish.

Shabat Thoughts - Lost

Two weeks ago we took a road trip to Warm Springs and got lost.  It was the most awesome time we've ever spent being lost and if getting lost were always like that...Well, it could happen  more often! 

But getting lost isn't wonderful.  Getting lost usually ends up with a harsh word or several and every now and then it ends with cold silence and no truce/no surrender flags to show that the war isn't going to end anytime soon.  

At best, being lost momentarily spoils a few miles of a trip. And that's just a road trip.  There are those times when we're lost spiritually, not "I don't know Jesus" lost, but confused and unable to discern the path and feeling like you're in a black out sort of lost, where waiting on God is mandatory.  And very difficult.  Getting lost brings up all sorts of control issues and fears and anxiety and multiple unknown factors.  Getting lost is not nice.

In My Home This Week: All Routine