The Cleanliness Code

July 18, 2012

Filth is something I’m very familiar with. I grew up, after all, on a horse farm with barnyard cats, half-feral dogs and enough land to scamper gleefully without seeing another person for miles (or so it seemed). But as I have gotten older with a home of my own, I have grown to appreciate the serenity of spotless surfaces gleaming reverently in the sunlight.

While they say cleanliness is next to godliness, it is not the divinity I seek in order, but more an expression of the love of place. When we care for our things, we extend a warmth and respect for our surroundings and ourselves. It is as if our environment mirrors what is going on within us (I am fully aware of the level of chaos a teenage mind must experience. Daughter’s room says that so nicely!).

At a trade show recently I found the funniest doormat that read: “If you’re not God, take your shoes off!” I can hear myself saying that to my kids. Can you?

For years I battled a disorderly desk, but lately I have found even here a sense of calm. It is as though my Universe has rightly aligned itself. All tops are spinning on their axes. All is well.

If your life is overtaken by clutter, take a closer look at what you need to release. Everything holds energy. Do you want that kind of energy around you? The Cleanliness Code dictates that you let go of the baggage. If you do, your world will find a new order. And you, my friend, will have the smoothest surfaces to prove it!


Time-Saving Household Tips

January 25, 2012

HGTV sent me some cool tips I just had to share. Because even though we have a lot of time-saving devices in our home, we often feel we can’t bother cleaning, as if it’s taking us away from something more important.

I don’t know about you, but I find a messy house to be a stressful place to be. So take these tips and run with them. Courtesy of HGTV whose latest issue (February/March) already hit the stands January 17th. Grab your copy while you can!

Dirty Little Laundry Secrets from the Pros

It’s the chore that never ends! Get it done easier and faster with tips from our crew of washing and folding experts.

–          A sink for hand-washing: A two minute soak in the sink isn’t enough. You need to soak stains for at least 10-30 minutes to really make a difference.

–          Bins for sorting: Don’t just separate by color but also by material. You don’t want to wash fuzzy fabrics like chenille and flannel with corduroy or permanent-press items, which can be magnets for lint.

–          Countertops for folding: Don’t fold clothes hot right out of the dryer (we know – we all do it!). You can wind up with creases that are hard to get rid of.

–          A rod for hanging: A rod is hey for keeping shirts smooth and crease-free. Take collared shirts out of the dryer a few minutes before they’re dry to prevent the neck from stretching and the collar from getting floppy.

–          Did you know: You should clean the inside of your washing machine to keep it and your clothes smelling fresh? You can put the lint screen from the dryer in the dishwasher? Hot pink, bring green, and electric blue can bleed more than other colors in the washing machine? Using too much detergent can actually make your clothes dirtier.

–          3 stain busters to have on hand: Rubbing alcohol for ink. Raise armpit stain remover for getting out touch sweat stains. Blue dawn dish soap for grease.


When was the last time you cleaned…

HGTV’s experts reveal common household items that might be getting neglected in the cleanliness department. Here are some tips on how and when to clean your hair brushes, pillows, coffee makers, produce bins in your fridge, etc. – and the answers may surprise you!

–          Your hairbrush: Beauty experts recommend washing your hair brush every two months. First pull out all stray hairs with a comb. Fill a sink with warm water and a squirt of soap or mild shampoo, and soak your brush for 15 minutes. (If your brush has padding, boar bristles, or a wooden handle, swish it back and forth in the sink and then rinse to prevent the brush getting waterlogged.

–          The inside of your coffee machine: Clean your machine after every dozen brews. Insert a coffee filter and fill the reservoir with two parts white vinegar and one part water, and run the machine through one full cycle. Then, repeat the process twice with cold water and filters.

–          The produce bins in your fridge: Scrub your bins every few months to keep produce flavors fresh. Empty the drawers and remove them from the fridge. Dip a cloth in a mixture of 4 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart warm water, then wipe down the inside and outside of each bin. Avoid household cleaners, which can make food taste like chemicals. Be sure to rinse the bins in warm water before returning to the fridge.

Have any other time-saving tips to make your surroundings squeaky clean? Write in and let me know!

Space Awakening

September 8, 2009

You may have ignored its calling, but its crisp edges slice your skin as you enter it. The cool of fall may have only peeked once or twice through the late-summer haze. But its undertones can be heard, if ever vaguely, beneath the sound of the cicadas.

Oddly, I have welcomed its siren-like beckoning this year. Perhaps it has to do with the heat wave that swaddled us interminably during our vacation in Virginia. I am ready to release the heat to far-away plains that have waited patiently for its return in the Southern Hemisphere.069_69

Just as the seasons teach us the ebb and flow of life, so does the space awakening process I developed while living in impossibly small places during my entire married life. We enter; we depart. We carry in; we carry out. While I never reach the perfect balance, I have learned how much negative energy clutter holds for me. As a result, the space awakening process liberates the energy tangible items hold.

If you feel ready to engage in this de-cluttering process, here are a few guidelines to help you on your way.

Three-step Space Awakening Process:

For Beginners: Toss out three things you no longer need. They can be as simple as three old pens that no longer work or three items of clothing that no longer fit. Silently thank the pens for their service, then say good-bye.

For the Intermediate: Go to one drawer and empty it. Evaluate what you’ve been keeping and why. Then, if you really don’t need it, give it away or a give it a toss.

For Advanced Declutterers: Identify every item in a room you no longer need. Hold a yard sale, sell it on eBay or give it to your local charity.

Liberate your space from the things that do not serve you. Help other family members to do the same. As you consciously lighten your load, you will invite new things to enter your life. Just as surely winter follows fall, your life’s rhythm will be in more harmony with your surroundings than ever before.

Taming Kitchen Beast

July 15, 2009

We’ve all been there in that space of unutterable chaos. Well, at least if you’ve ever lived with kids for even an hour…

Space Clearing

July 12, 2009

Whether we carry our baggage inside or out, we all have our own load to bear. My ten year-old daughter’s room is no different. Her biggest issue is The Paper Plague. She starts projects, usually stops mid-page, then stuffs it messy roomin a drawer, on a surface or under her bed. We tackled her desk, then her floor, then her drawers. By the time we had gotten to her shelves, I had engaged in full-blown ruthlessness. I even tossed old paint-by-number pictures that never made it in their frames, much less on the wall.

We engaged in what Arielle Ford calls ‘space clearing’. When we unload our junk, we make room for new experiences. I tried to convey this notion to Sophia:

“All of your unused paper is in this drawer,” I happily pointed to her top desk drawer that was bulging with supplies. “All you need is a new concept,” I told her, mimicking what my cosmetician had told me just a day before (of course, she was trying to sell me a new product line; I was merely trying to sell Sophia on the idea of cleanliness!).

Toss out three things you no longer need. Go to one drawer and empty it. Evaluate what you’ve been keeping and why. Then, if you really don’t need it, give it away or a toss.

I can already breathe easier in Sophia’s room. Now, all I need to do is tackle my own…