Remove odors from garbage disposal – Cut up a couple of lemon slices into quarters, drop in, turn on the cold water, run the disposal for about 20 seconds. Odors gone! Once it has stopped churning, be sure to reach in and remove any rind pieces not ground up.
Remove lime scale from drain board and taps – Use half a lemon to rub over them. Leave a minute, rinse, and shine with a dry cloth.
Exfoliate and clean your feet – Mix up some lemon pulp and brown sugar, rub. Rinse and moisturize. This could be especially good to do as summer approaches and we may want to walk around barefooted!
Highlight your hair – This is much better for you and for the environment than commercial bleaches. Mix the juice of one lemon with one teaspoon salt, and comb it through your hair. Get out into the sun for a couple of hours. Note – don’t do this too often, as it will dry out your hair. How often, then? Depending on your hair, perhaps every couple of weeks.
Keep fruits from browning – Add lemon juice to freshly cut apples or pear slices to keep them from turning brown.
Repel weeds – Sprinkle lemon juice around areas in the garden to repel weeds, though not near plants you want to preserve.
Cat Pee Repellent – If your cat has a favorite chair or sofa that it likes to use as a litter box, make a lemon-water mix and lightly spray it on the spot. The cat won’t go there again.
Ann and I continued, and mostly finished, emptying and transforming Bill’s office. It will become a guest room.
The room’s closet was chock full of boxes, office supplies, tools, three-ring binders, more financial records, and other varied items. We cleared it, separating items to be tossed, recycled, shredded and donated.
Next, we finished emptying a bookcase, which had held framed family photos, and many books. In an earlier session, we had placed some of them in a bookcase backing up to the big desk. We completed that task.
Moving around the room, we finished clearing off the desk. At last report, Ann said that someone from her church might want it. Once it’s gone, and the carpet has been cleaned, the room will be more ready to become the planned guest room.
When all was done, I showed Ann the saved photo of how the room looked from the hallway before we started working. A big bonus, she now could look at the room from outside without feeling overwhelmed about how it needed to be changed. That accomplished, she now could do the fun part – choose furniture and accent colors to go with its warm brown walls.
Since it’s spring (or trying to be, here in rainy Vermont), here are some (not-necessarily-just-spring-cleaning) tips about items you can put in the dishwasher. Some will be surprising!
• Baseball hats: Set your dishwasher to the least warm temperature setting and be sure to turn off the drying cycle, which can damage hats. Forms to help hats keep their shape are available through some retail businesses, but that’s not necessary if you remove hats and reshape them for drying.
• Light switch covers: Once a year, unscrew them all for a good cleaning. Be sure to put the screws in a safe place so you don’t lose them.
• Hair brush: Use your fingers or a comb to pull out as much hair as possible, so the drain won’t get clogged.
• Flip flops: Wash away dirt and grime in a quick cycle.
• Plastic succulents: It can be nearly impossible to dust a fake succulent — especially where the leaves connect. Luckily the dishwasher can hit all those hard-to-get places.
• Sponges: You may have heard that you can microwave a sponge to sanitize it, but that actually is a fire hazard. A safer bet? Place it in the dishwasher with your regular load of dishes.
• Plastic toys: Did you know that plastic toys (that don’t use batteries) can be sanitized in the dishwasher?
• Silicone oven mitts: All things silicone can go in the dishwasher, which means your mitts can get a bath.
• Refrigerator shelves: You could take these out and scrub them by hand, or you can more easily wash them in the dishwasher. Smaller shelves will fit standing up (like your plates), but a bigger shelf might need to lay across the rack.
• Ceramic cabinet hardware: These knobs are notorious for collecting germs. Also, if they have textured patterns, the grooves might collect even more unwanted “friends.” Instead of scrubbing them with a toothbrush, unscrew and place them in the utensil holder of the dishwasher.
Emma contacted me in mid-December, asking about a possible Christmas present for her wife Megan. Their basement was cluttered with some of the usual stuff. It also had excess tools. Could I help Megan decide about duplicates? Could I ask if she really needed five hammers? If needed, could I approach the task with tough love?
After a series of back-and-forth emails, they decided to hire De-clutter Me! The holidays and their aftermath took over, then Megan went to visit family in South Africa for three weeks in February. We finally settled on a Saturday morning in the early spring. Christmas in April – what a hoot!
We first focused on the tool bench. Working top to bottom, we cleared its upper and lower shelves, work surface, peg board and two drawers.
We next turned to shelves along the back wall of the basement. First clearing the floor in front, we then moved some things around and eliminated (what another client has called) “visual noise.”
Our time used up, Megan felt good, and excited to continue on her own in the afternoon. Would I return if she got stuck or needed more help? Of course! In a few months’ time, would I come to her office to help with reducing the piles of paper? Of course!
A few days ago, I came across excellent tips in a file. Here’s a sampling from the archives.
Since clutter tends to expand to fill the space “allowed” for it, move items from your junk drawer into the smallest drawer in the room. Keep miscellaneous storage bins small to keep them from overtaking your rooms and closets.
Creating a to-do list is a great first step, to get things off your mind and onto paper. The second step is crucial – schedule appointments with yourself to actually accomplish the written tasks. Checking them off, or crossing them out, can be surprisingly satisfying. Try it. You might like it!
When dealing with paper, have as few file categories as possible. Instead of, say, a file for paid cable bills, consolidate all paid bills into a file for the year. The more streamlined system also will keep your drawers less crowded.
As previously suggested, collect bills that are tax-related in a file for the year’s taxes. They could include child care, education, medical bills. Also add to the file – charitable donations, online purchases for paying state sales tax. (Yup – I’m honest about that!) Keeping a file of tax-related information, and adding to it all year, might help to make filing your taxes a bit less “taxing.”
Do you forget your lunch? Leave grocery lists on the counter? (I can’t count the number of times I’ve done that…) Solution – place your car keys on top. You likely won’t get far without them.
While oiling a favorite wooden spatula this morning, I thought to write a Timely Tip about it. I prefer it to silicone, since wooden utensils won’t scratch pots and pans. Wood also won’t leach chemicals or chemically react with hot food. Here are some care suggestions for your wood utensils and/or cutting boards.
¥ DON’T put wood utensils or cutting boards into the dishwasher. The intense steam and extended time in hot water will crack the wood.
¥ DON’T let the utensils sit in water to soak for extended periods of time.
¥ DO wash the utensils in hot, soapy water fairly quickly after use.
¥ DO pat the utensils dry with a cloth and let air dry.
¥ DO rub with a slice of lemon and let air dry if any strong flavors have seeped into the wood.
¥ DO apply mineral oil to the wood to prevent it from drying out and cracking. If you’ve not done it before (if old or new), do it once a week for a month, then once a month for a year, then yearly for life. You likely can find inexpensive mineral oil at your local hardware store. I pour a bit onto cutting boards, then spread using paper towels. For utensils, a bit on paper towels, then rubbed around does the trick. Everything will look great, and nice patterns may emerge that you hadn’t seen before.
After our two “double session” days working in the basement, Ann and I started transforming another room. Her husband Bill, who had died several months previously, seemingly kept every piece of mail ever sent to him during their many years together in the house. His office had lots of paper, most of which could be recycled or shredded. There also were boxes, CDs about computer operating systems, political buttons, books, office supplies and other items to be discarded or given away. Our task was to de-clutter the room to make possible its transformation into a guest room for visitors, including grandchildren.
As with the basement, we started at one point in the room and started working our way around it. Some interim result photos follow.
During our next session, scheduled in several weeks, we will continue working our way around the room, as it changes into a warm and welcoming guest room.
As Judy, Robert and I finished our pantry session, I suggested that they consider hanging a grid on its side wall – if there were studs to support it and whatever weight it would hold.
Robert promptly bought one and hung it. He then hung skillets from it, making some kitchen storage space less congested. Part of the fun and utility of grids is their flexibility. It’s usually easy to change how they’re best used.
We all know that being happy at home isn’t just about filling it with objects we love. You can find new satisfaction there by adding a few simple practices to your routine and, before you know it, these habits will refresh your life, both inside and outside your walls.
From starting your day off on the right foot, to carving out “me time,” to taking care of chores in the moment — it’s the little things in life that go a long way. The best part is that they are so easy to do you can start adding them today!
1. Wake up early – even if you don’t have to.
2. Make your bed right away – for a tidy start to the day.
3. Fuel up with a real breakfast.
4. Wash, dry and put away dishes – or place them in the dishwasher – as soon as you’re done with them.
5. Carve out a bit of “alone time” for yourself.
6. Especially effective during the winter, lift your spirits and add some beauty to your home by buying fresh flowers, even if just a relatively inexpensive bouquet from the grocery store. Maybe split it up and place some flowers in each room. To keep them fresh for as long as possible, change the water daily and snip the stem bottoms on the bias, so their cells can best absorb the fresh water. I often get them at a well-known national discount grocery store. They usually last for two weeks!
7. Take a walk, to keep your body and mind active.
Newlyweds Judy and Robert asked for help. She moved into his house several months before their wedding. Since they’re middle-aged and avid cooks, they have all that they need. Some things, like spices, were in unneeded multiples.
As we discussed first working in their basement, Judy said, “Let the festivities commence.” All righty, then!
We would work top to bottom, organizing some shelves that weren’t really all that bad. Similar items, like for baking, were grouped together better. Plus, since the basement floor very occasionally gets wet, we would clear it.
We brought some things, like spices, upstairs, for easier access in their pantry. Its spices already were alphabetized. Some were old. We tossed them. We took cans of cat food out of cardboard packaging and stacked them, to save space. We discussed a wall grid, to use some extra space and to hang some often-used skillets that wouldn’t fit elsewhere in the kitchen.
There were so many spices, including some from Judy’s former home, that Robert arranged them on the floor.
When we were done, Robert smiled and said, “You have made a permanent impact on our house.”