Thursday, July 21, 2016


The word "housekeeping" stroke people differently. People either like it or hate it. In my case, there's no middle ground. I have tried to be neutral about it and it did not work.

There are books of all different methods to help us keep our house clean and organized and some even promise if we follow it thoroughly our house will practically cleanse itself.

Obviously it is a war on words. If a book is written well enough to win someone's mind or hit a spot many readers have been struggled for a while, the book (method) then for sure would become the best seller on the market.

I remember the Sidetracked House Executives was a hit. I learned lots of ideas from them, such as how to organize your day/week/month/year in the 3x5 cards. Then Don Aslett's book title Clutter's Last Stand was so catchy and the book was such a fun read that I actually learned how to clean (non organically at the time) per his suggestions, especially on the kitchen counter tops. Then Elizabeth George's "A woman after God's own heart" made me aware of how God wants us to be the manager of our own home. Another author was Emily Barnes. Her books were everywhere and I even bought one but I don't think I got much out of it except that later on from somewhere an interview I read that she wished she didn't focus so much on keeping the house to a point where she didn't spend as enough time with her son(s). That was a warning I heeded and have always made sure that I am serving my family before tackling the house chores.

Of course FLYlady hit the ground running and I ran with it, on and off since 1999. I have learned the power of 15 minutes and the importance of the bedroom sanctuary and the swish swash (which you probably have read from some posts I wrote here a while ago). Later in the 2000's the blog world opened my eyes with so many Bloggers started blogging about housekeeping as a business. I meant I literally followed some blogs for a duration just because I loved all the Before and After pictures. Pinterest also did a number to me.

Sad to say that even with all of these reading my house still remained a hot mess for a long time. I did have some progresses for a spell of time when I worked the "methods". But they all crumbled as soon as I got sidetracked - aka got lazy or busy. I struggled with it. You see, by cleaning and keeping the house tidy is a form of my worship to God. Not being able to do a good job at it truly discouraged me. But we do serve a merciful God and a God Who DOES know our heart's desire. I bummed into the "Zero Waste Home" Blog. From there I have learned how to let stuff go. It was a minimalism approach and it made so much sense to me. It was the "important and sentimental STUFF" that's holding me back all these years! What a liberation to have finally found the cause of my problem!

Just as I was ready to tackle the "STUFF" we had three special major events took place this May/June and even though I did not physically do a lot of the planning and executing of the events, they were weighing yet on my mind constantly. I decided it would be best to wait till July is over to begin the journey (hopefully for the last time) of cleaning out my house.

That's when I heard of the Konmarie method. Out of curiosity I borrowed the book from the library (I learned this from the Zero Waste Home - buying is the last resort) and am still reading it. To date, I have to say I am having a hard time accepting her art of tidying philosophies whole heartily. Like many concerned Christians who had read the book commented on the fact that she gives thanks to objects instead of the Giver of all things. That fact bothers me as well. Other than that part, there are practical applications of her ideas. The clothes folding method and the daily purse purging are the two things I am trying out currently.

All in all, I feel that the housekeeping skill is lost since the schools stopped offering Home Ed. Many of our moms walking out of the kitchen in the 60's also contributed to this dilemma. All the chores our grandparents did "naturally" are now the expertise we have to spend money to acquire.

Can there be one way of housekeeping proficiency? Can we learn to love housekeeping? Or at least enjoy it? Perhaps. For me, the minimal mindset has helped a great deal. With all of these information I have gathered through the years ought to help me stay on track. I pray when another life event takes place again I will be ready for it and won't let it take away all the effort I have put in managing and caring of our home.

Since I have to choose either to love it or hate housekeeping, I have decided to love it. After all, there is a joy in doing even the most mundane tasks in life, if I commit myself to it. Surely I have pledged my life to serve my family as unto the Lord, I have tasted the fruit of this labor, it is indeed sweet.

Learned from Don Aslett to always clean kitchen counters from left to right.

Evening Routine ~ A shinny sink always gives me energy in the morning.

I try to keep my sanctuary as clean and peaceful as possible always. I have loved entering our bedroom since the transformation and yes I make the bed first thing every morning after I get up.

This is what my night table is like currently. The Orchid did not last very long in this room. I like to have plants in all the rooms so I may figure out some other heartier plants to put here soon.

One part of our homeschool room. I love this IKEA shelf-cubes! 

THIS has been a HOT SPOT since we moved in. My daily chore for sure.

We are a book family and I am very thankful to have a few built-in bookshelves. I am looking forward to tweak them till I like them. This set up is very soothing to my eyes, so far...

Ha! I can't resist to post this picture. You know who folds clothes this way, right...? :)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Old Skill, New Tool

Do you know how to use chopsticks? Do you ask for a fork in Asian restaurants?
I have been using chopsticks my whole life and have always taken the skill of using chopsticks for grant. It's something all Asians do so no biggies.

We like cold brewed coffee and to use the simple low tech cold brew coffee maker, there are a few must have items. We have been doing the cold brewed coffee for years without any incidents until last month. First the glass jar broke and then we could not find the stopper of the coffee maker. I replaced the jar easily since I have many glass jars in the house but the stopper was a different story. We searched high and low in the kitchen and eventually went to Lowe's and got a plastic stopper replacement (not rubber) and things are back to normal again, Not perfect, but it worked.

Last week when I turned on the garbage disposal, I heard some funny sound but because we were busy with the wedding reception I just decided there were some stubborn orange peels that got down there and needed more time to be ground down so I went on with life. Today, when hubby and I heard it again, I was puzzled and then he shouted: "It's the coffee maker stopper! It has to be it!" I looked at him and looked the disposal mouth and then looked at our hands. Our hands are just too big to reach down there to figure out if it was the stopper. So we grab a flash light and shined down the throat of the disposal and sure enough, there it was - the stopper! Calling our young son over in hope to see if his little hand can reach down there and pick it up, that's when I had a thought! How about my chopsticks? They are skinny enough to reach down there and I can just pick it up like I pick up a piece of meat from the meal plate...
Yup! The old chopsticks and my "skill" of using them saved the day!

Now the chopsticks are my new "long tweezers" on my tool list. How cool is that?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Salt and Baking Soda

Living is expensive. There are so many things tucking at your wallet. House cleaning product is one of them. You want your house clean? there's a product for every nook in your house.

Years ago, when my older children were younger, money was just not there. However, regardless how "difficult" life seemed, we had a wonderful family life. I would not trade my family for anything else.

Lacking of monetary means forced me to look high and low for all sorts of saving tips. I used to be the coupon queen before it was cool to be one. Eating "rubber chicken" before it was a trend among the struggling young families now. And of course, eating organically was super expensive at the time when I realized box foods were not really food. Haha!

In order to eat better, I needed to find other ways to save. My home-made cleaning product was born out of that necessity. Some of the habits from then I still use now.

Since our finance have improved somewhat (after all the ups and downs with unemployment during the late 2000), I have moved away from some of these wonderful home-made cleaning gems. But now that we are doing the Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom, I decided to take a look at what expenses have we gotten relax on. Well, cleaning product was one of them. Hmmm, that is a post for another day.

Back to my current post. Because we had a crazy month last month, I had let my stove top gone to a place I can't and don't want to mention. So this morning seemed to be a good time to tackle it, because, why yes, we were having company. Imagine that!

After I used Melaleuca's Tough & Tender to soak on the crusty, with some what burned-on stove top and scrubbed away. It took forever and the stove top still looked horrible.

Well, my company came and I was not going to work on the stove top while they were here. My friend's mother, who is probably about my age, casually glanced over my stove top and said: Salt and Baking Soda.

Bingo!!! Duh!!!!

I have completely forgotten that trick! Thank you K for the reminder. After they left, I went looking for my box of salt I know I have it here somewhere... We have started eating sea salt so I don't buy table salt anymore. So glad I found a box of Kosher salt in the pantry.

No water needed. Just salt and Baking Soda and I scrubbed away with a piece of paper towel. No chemical smell, no harsh scrubbing. All things natural and all the grease and dirt came off! I am a happy "young wife" again.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Minimize It Monday - Traveling wardrobe

We are home from our whirlwind weekend trip attending our daughter's out of state graduation. Since I am still catching up with all the to-dos this will be a short and sweet post.
When I was packing for the trip, I had only one thing in mind - travel light!
I don't do the capsule wardrobe concept but I do maintain a seasonal exchange closet. I have been methodically building up my wardrobe color, which is black and white mostly for traveling/last minute dress-up event needs. However, lest you worry I am a colorless person (far from it) I do have a closet full of other color clothing, mainly the casual wear. Black and white is my solid, will not go wrong, color scheme for dress-up events. :)
With the "light traveling" thought in mind, I took a quick collection of the clothing I needed for the three days two nights stay, and here was what I brought with me - all in black and white:
Two black pants - one slack and one skinny jeans. One black and white flower long skirt. Two nice tanks - one black and white stripe and one solid black. Two pairs of shoes - one dress-up and one semi casual. Three sweaters - one white, one black and one sparkling (which I didn't end up wearing). Two sets of necklaces, one formal and one semi casual. Two short night gowns - one satin gray and one cotton white with little pink flowers (not pictured - it was a last minute grab) and three sets of undergarment, also not pictured. :)

Everything fit in this small carry-on - I even decided, in the last minute, to keep my nice shoes in the shoe box, which was also in this bag. 

I love simplicity.

And the whole weekend went well. We are so proud of our daughter finishing her college BA degree right after high school. If you have attended college, you'd know the effort it take to finish that race right after high school.

At Baccalaureate night

We even got to celebrate Mother's Day early, in person, this year. And she hand-made me this sweet card. :)

That's it for today!

Have a purposeful Monday!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Minimize it Monday - Calendar Squares

What a super busy weekend we had! I am still recuperating from it today.

As I was contemplating what to minimize today, I saw my planner from the corner of my eye. Ahh. Yes, sometimes, minimizing our busy days is actually a wonderful project to launch, and what better place to see what our days are really like than looking into our family's calendar/planner?

Seeing some empty squares made me so happy. Nowadays, empty calendar squares are hard to come by, no matter what your age is.

Our calendar maybe fuller or emptier in the coming months, it all depends on how we want to use our days. My goal is not to fill it so full that all I would be doing is just to check off the boxes (or squares). We have many milestone celebrations this year so our calendar is mostly full for the summer. I am praying when Fall comes I will be able to minimize the busy squares on our calendar.

Increase empty calendar squares. increase our trust and rest in the Lord for our days.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday for Friday

I have always loved Fridays. It has meant different things through the years. But mostly, Friday always means happiness.

When I was in my youth, Fridays usually meant the beginning of a wonderful beach trip with my siblings promised by our father. We would wait *patiently* for him to finish his nap and then GO!

When I was in my late teen years, Fridays meant a fun weekend to be have with friends.

When I was a newly wed, Friday was always a movie and eating out combo (date night was not a normal term in those days for me)

When I was a young mom, Fridays meant house cleaning days. I was trying to live my newly changed life on other week days!

When we first decided to homeschool our children, Fridays had been mostly quizzes and tests days.

Now that we are homeschooling our last child, Fridays have become a welcoming break from the more strict routine of the previous weekdays. We will watch movies at home when the works are done and eat pizza or home made burgers and fries for dinner. Oh, and ice cream for dessert (ice cream is only served during weekend nights. It has been a "rule" since our first child could eat)

Fridays have always been a synonym of relaxation, easy-peasy days, most of the time, at least.

But for some reasons, our Fridays have become busy lately. Saturdays, too.  I somehow seem to be able to pack these two days solid with lots of to-do's. I feel it and I don't like it. I have noticed our weekends literally just zoomed by, every week!

Today, not sure how it happened, I felt like it is a Friday. I did a lot of errands but somehow in my mind, it felt like a Friday. So I rolled with it. We got our homework done. CC is over now so I mainly just do light review and Language Arts and simple math with P since he is still in the lower elementary level of learning. I spent the day like half Thursday and half Friday, if that make sense. I really like it, and tomorrow I would have a half Friday half Saturday kinda day, I assume.

I guess the weekend seems to last longer when I feel this way? Hmmm... we shall see.

Weekend means family time to us. Perhaps that's the reason I wish to have it last a little longer...

Anyway, I will try this Thursday for Friday mindset for a few weeks and see how we like it (mainly for P and me) and may report back here. :)

Happy weekend!

P feeding a giraffe on a Friday zoo field trip.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Minimize It Monday - Procrastination Piles

We all have them. You know, on the floor or in the bags, the boxes, the baskets, the bins.

When we throw those "to be xxx" into those containers, we had one goal in mind - the stuff will be taken care of after this time or event. The reality is, while it tricked us thinking they are contained (especially in pretty container), 90% of the time, the stuff just sit there. And the containers multiplied. So did our shoulder pain, aka stress.

I have  a few  many of these containers. I call them my Delinquent Boxes (DB). They are mostly papers. It shocked me because I usually process mails that got into my home immediately. Where did all these boxes come from? I decided to grab a box today and examined the content of that DB. Sure enough, most of them are school papers (we homeschool do CC) and bill invoices (regardless I have many bills paid automatically).

Why is that? Why is that I couldn't control this part of my life?

As I went through the DB, my mind was made up to make this my paper de-cluttering project for the duration of this year. I want to lick this monster. Paper piles stress me most out of all other kinds of piles. It is a constant cue that I am either avoiding certain reality or my priority is just not parked in the right place.

So first thing first, I eliminated one bin. Shredded many papers and sorted the copies (which I will go further to cut down before "filing" them) I will, however reluctantly, be sure to change some more statements from paper format to pdf on the company's website.

It is always good to set small goals. My humble goal of sorting through this DB today was reached! I took my first bite of this elephant. I am ready for another bin bite tomorrow.

This was the most recent DB so I started with it... the bin is not even mine....

An hour later... cleared box, clearer mind. The bin will be returned to its owner in a couple of days!

Now onto making a bill binder.

Do you have any Delinquent Boxes?