It's that time of the year and we make New Years Resolutions and we all hear that voice in our head say: I never keep them! Why should I even make them?
The New Year offers us all a chance to regroup and start fresh and to reinvent ourselves for the better. We've just come through the sound and fury of the holidays - and our homes, nerves, and bank accounts reflect it.
What better time to get a grip and try to do it right than this clean slate of a new year looming ahead? In that spirit, here are my 7 resolutions that can rejuvenate you, your home, and your family. And the best part? They all build on each other. If you accomplish No. 1 then No. 2 is easier. If you nail No. 4, No. 5 is a cinch.
Try it! (What do you have to lose?)
resolution #1: downsize, darn it!
Resolve to make the new year an organized one by cleaning up, downsizing, dividing, and labeling.
Consider instituting this post-holiday rule for getting rid of clutter: for every new item (bathrobe, earrings, slippers) that arrives, three things have to leave the house. Call it the get organized, one-for-three rule.
Before anyone puts away presents, he or she must fill a minimum of three bags for donation to a charity of his or her choice.
Now move on to your holiday stuff. Any decorations you didn't use this year?
Chances are you won't them next year, either. These go in the donation pile.
Go through your drawers, your closets. Yes, you want to keep a few cozy T-shirts and jeans for Saturday sports or painting with the kids.
But you don't need two dozen. Donation pile.
And that collection of hotel shampoos that you've been working on for the last decade? Did they start out green - or is that part of the aging process?
This is going to be an organized new year, remember? You don't need them all (if you did, they wouldn't be there.) Donate these to your neighborhood shelter.
resolution #2: divide, conquer and label everything.
I know. Getting organized was already on your list, anyway. But we all still need a friendly nudge to get things going the right way.
The perfect time is now - a new year ahead; and you've downsized. You've got a little room. Now you can finally put everything where it belongs.
I suggest adding just one more item to your inventory that will simplify the process tremendously: a labeler.
By getting rid of what you can and organizing what's left, you're well on your way to an organized new year.
Neatly typed labels make all the difference when you've reorganized because you and the family have virtual directions for putting things back in their new places.
For example: When you take down your tree and your Christmas decorations, take time to label each box. Put down what is in the box and also the category and a box number.
In other words, the label on a box of Christmas ornaments would say: Christmas. Ornaments. 1. On the last box, underline the number so that you know it's the last number. That way next year you will know whether you have all your boxes.
Now find a corner of the garage, basement, or attic to store all the Christmas boxes together. Apply that same method to your whole house, starting with closets and drawers, ending with your neatly labeled storage boxes and bins in the garage.
resolution #3: a neater, cleaner home.
Now that you've de-cluttered, organized, and downsized, cleaning should be a breeze. Often, clutter is what really makes cleaning hard.
Have you ever cleaned before a cleaning person arrived? People laugh when they hear this, but they don't understand that 80 percent of cleaning is picking up stuff and returning it to where it belongs so you actually have some surface area to clean.
And tidying is a job that outside help - no matter how efficient - can't do. To make the job easier, first have a schedule of when you do what: Laundry is Monday nights; bathrooms are Saturday morning; trash is Sunday nights, etc.
That makes sure that nothing gets forgotten and spreads the work out into manageable portions throughout the week. Then do the actual cleaning room by room. Don't allow yourself to dart all over the house.
When I clean the living room, for example, first, I pull everything moveable out to the hall: rugs, knickknacks, throws, plants. Now I have clean surfaces to dust and vacuum. Then I return the accessories, cleaning each one as I replace it.
Invariably, there is still a pile of stuff left in the hall - stuff that didn't belong in the living room in the first place. I return these to their proper homes.
And BAM! One room is ready! Repeat the process in all your other rooms.
resolution #4: simpler, saner lives.
We not only ricochet through the house as we clean. We ricochet through life just as madly and inefficiently.
Downsize and organize family activities so family breakfasts and dinners won't be endangered times in the year ahead.
We rush our children to hockey Karate and ourselves to meetings. We race around town getting groceries, pet supplies,
Breakfasts are a free-for-all-mad-dash most mornings. Dinners are endangered. Homework goes on into the wee hours of the night. We didn't grow up like this. What happened?
We unwittingly veer into the fast lane of family life and get stuck there. A lot of it is peer pressure.
Allow everyone in the family a maximum of three hobbies, not to exceed three commitments (practices, meetings, etc.) per week. If you have more than two kids, the limit might be two hobbies. And the interests can change with the season.
Now look at your own hobbies and interests. A little tougher, huh? Parents not only have hobbies they love to do but also commitments they should do. Sports, volunteer time etc
Save at least two time slots per week for something you love to do. Limit volunteering to two more slots. 2017 is the year to learn to say 'No' - and mean it. It's a crucial part of the success of your resolution for an organized new year.
Finally, make your outings more efficient by grouping errands geographically. Write down or map out all the places you have to drive each week (basketball, volleyball, preschool) and then write down all the errands you have to do each week (groceries, appointments, gas).
Now assign at least one errand to each outing so you can accomplish a minimum of two things with each trip.
resolution #5: save money.
If you faithfully adhere to resolutions No. 1 and 4, this resolution will wonderfully take care of itself.
We waste money on things we don't need, and on too many expensive extracurricular activities. Cut those out and you're halfway home. For the other half, make a couple more lists.
Resolve to save money this year for the things you really want and need.
First, list all the bills that have a fixed amount that must be paid in a month: mortgage/rent, health insurance, car payments, tuition, etc. These are fixed costs and you can do nothing about them.
Now list the necessary expenses with fluctuating costs: gas bills, electric bills, phone bills, groceries. Set up a budget for each and try to cut back on usage.
Finally, list the fun-only expenses: golfing fees, lessons, clothes, Starbucks, movies, dining out, etc. Set a budget for each.
And for best results, include the kids in the process for this one. Tell them how much is budgeted for family entertainment and let each kid vote on how at least part of the money should be spent.
Many parents find that the best approach is to set older kids' allowances at a sum that would actually cover his or her entertainment expenses for a month. Then they get a life lesson on managing money.
Does Kevin want that cool new game controller? Fine, he can buy it - with his money. Of course, he won't be able to eat at McDonalds or see a movie for the rest of the month. And he might just choose to go with that. Kids are a lot thriftier when it's 'their' money. Go figure.
resolution #6: take care of yourself.
All of the above resolutions are about helping you take care of yourself. If your home is clean, efficient, and organized, you are taking care of yourself.
Take care of yourself by allotting time for a long bubble bath or an occasional spa day.
If your time and money are well-managed, you are taking care of yourself. How? Because when your life and home are in chaos, you're stressed out, right?
If your home is well organized, you should also have time to eat healthfully, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.
And remember those time slots to allow yourself? Don't cut corners there.
Your slot could be as extravagant as an occasional day at the spa or as simple as taking a long tub bath. You choose. But do it!
resolution #7: be the best you can be.
Again, if you have accomplished resolutions 1 through 6, this one will take care of itself. If you find time to be good to yourself, you will find the time, energy, and patience to be good to your loved ones.
One just flows from the other. But you cannot go directly to Resolution No. 7. These resolutions are like building blocks. If the bottom layer is unstable, you can't build on top of it.
So take a deep breath and start with No. 1. Don't expect to finish the resolutions in a day, week, or even a month. This is a continuous process, but one that will pay off for you in the year ahead. Happy organized New Year!
Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the organizing products and tools to help you create a more organized home in the year ahead!
As Ned Stark would say, winter is coming and in many parts of the Lakeland and for that matter many parts of Canada, the nights are getting longer and much colder and the fuzzy blankets are starting to come back into use and we are starting to look at our pooches as foot warmers once again. You know what that means: It’s time to fire up your fireplace! Before you stack the logs and strike a match, there are tips, tricks and safety measures to keep in mind.
For starters fireplaces and vents should be inspected and maintained at least once a year. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your chimney, you’re probably overdue. And while you may think that cleaning your chimney and hearth is a daunting task reserved solely for professionals, doing the job yourself will prevent someone from cleaning out your wallet.
How to Clean Wood-burning Fireplaces
1. Avoid Messes
Cover nearby furniture and carpet with old sheets. Wear old clothes and gloves and keep a trashcan lined with two bags nearby to dispose of the waste. You don’t want to have to a ton of laundry, mopping and sweeping to do once the chimney cleaning is done.
2. Clear Debris
If you don’t use your fireplace frequently, remember this: Birds may build nests in the flue, making the chimney unsafe. If you want to know how to clean a fireplace, the first thing to do is remove bird nests from your flue as they can leave unsanitary, mite- and parasite-infested material into your home. Experts recommend going up on the roof or using a broom stick to remove the nests. To keep animals or birds out of your chimney, secure a top-sealing chimney damper to the chimney flue.
3. Clean the Firebox
The firebox is the area where the logs in your fireplace burn. During the cold months when you do actually use your fireplace, the firebox should be cleaned out around once a week. Remove the andirons and grate and take them outdoors to be scrubbed and set aside. Remove loose ashes with a fireplace shovel and place in the trash can. Sweep up the loose dust and line the fireplace with newspapers to catch the brick and flue debris.
4. Clean the Bricks
Use a wire brush and scraper to loosen soot. Clean off soot-stained bricks with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Use a stiff bristled brush and gently scrub stains with the solution.
5. Clear Out Creosote
Creosote deposits are a natural byproduct of wood burning in your fireplace. If not thoroughly cleaned, a strong odor can emit from your fireplace come springtime when the humidity is higher and the air conditioner is turned on. To clean mild creosote buildup in your chimney, use a paste made from baking soda and warm water. Dishwashing liquid can also be very effective when tackling stubborn substances.
How to Clean Gas Fireplaces
While it’s true that gas fireplaces burn cleaner, that doesn’t mean you can skip giving them an annual scrub. Here are things to remember when you clean your gas burner:
1. Turn Off the Valve
First and foremost, make sure the gas is off. It’s an obvious step, but worth the double-check.
2. Vacuum Debris
For the ultimate burn, you’ll want to make sure there isn’t debris inside your fireplace or close to the vents. Simply vacuum around the area to suck up dust bunnies and dirt. While you’re at it, inspect around the area. Chips in the glass or corroded fake logs can cause bigger problems down the road. After inspection, give the logs a brush down with a cloth or paintbrush, and you’re good to go!
A clean fireplace isn’t just a beautiful thing, it’s also a healthier thing, too. The less grime and old ash, the better for your health. On top of that, you can’t beat the peace of mind of a good, solid clean.
For a helping hand for a top-to-bottom shine throughout the house or your business , remember that you can always turn to Black Bear Custodial Services 1-780-815-5472
In this day and age many people are wanting to clean their homes and offices with much more environmentally friendly solutions. I have put together a few cleaning solutions so that you can rely less heavily on commercially created cleaning products. These mix-it-yourself cleaners use environmentally friendly ingredients — like baking soda and vinegar — and are quite inexpensive.
1. ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER AND DEODORIZER
Great for: Kitchen counters, appliances, and inside the refrigerator
• 4 tablespoons baking soda
• 1 quart warm water
How to use: Pour solution on a clean sponge and wipe.
2. HEAVY-DUTY SCRUB
Great for: Rust stains on porcelain or enamel sinks and tubs
• Half a lemon
• 1/2 cup borax (a laundry booster; find it in the detergent aisle)
How to use: Dip the lemon into the borax and scrub surface; rinse. (Not safe for marble or granite.)
3. DISHWASHER STAIN REMOVER
• 1/4 cup powdered lemon or orange drink
How to use: To remove rust from the inside walls, pour the powder (which contains citric acid or citric acid crystals) into the detergent cup and then run a regular cycle. Repeat as necessary
4. GLASS CLEANER
Great for: Windows and mirrors
• 2 cups water
• 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration)
• 1 to 2 drops of orange essential oil, which gives the solution a lovely smell (optional)
How to use: Combine ingredients and store in a spray bottle. Spray on a paper towel or soft cloth first, then on the glass. Hint: Don't clean windows on a hot, sunny day because the solution will dry too quickly and leave lots of streaks.
5. LAST-RESORT CLOTHING STAIN REMOVER
Great for: Badly stained washable or bleachable garments
• 1 gallon hot water
• 1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent
• 1 cup regular liquid chlorine bleach (not ultra or concentrate)
How to use: Mix and pour ingredients into a stainless steel, plastic, or enamel bowl (not aluminum). Soak garment for 15 to 20 minutes. If stain is still there, let it soak a bit longer, then wash garment as usual.
6. MARBLE CLEANER
Great for: Natural stone countertops
• A drop or two of mild dishwashing liquid (non-citrus-scented)
• 2 cups warm water
How to use: Mix the detergent and water. Sponge over marble and rinse completely to remove any soap residue. Buff with a soft cloth; do not let the marble air-dry. Caution: Never use vinegar, lemon, or any other acidic cleaner on marble or granite surfaces; it will eat into the stone.
7. GREASE CLEANER
Great for: Oven hoods, grills
• 1/2 cup sudsy ammonia mixed with enough water to fill a one-gallon container. (Sudsy ammonia, which has detergent in it, helps remove tough grime.)
How to use: Dip sponge or mop in solution and wipe over surface, then rinse area with clear water.
8. BRASS CLEANER
Great for: Non-lacquered cabinet pulls, bathroom appointments, and more
• White vinegar or lemon juice
• Table salt
How to use: Dampen a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice, then sprinkle on salt. Lightly rub over surface. Rinse thoroughly with water, then immediately dry with a clean soft cloth.
9. WHITE RING REMOVER
Great for: Anywhere you've accidentally left a water ring (but not on unfinished wood, lacquer, or antiques).
• One part white non-gel toothpaste to one part baking soda
How to use: Dampen a cloth with water, add toothpaste mixture, and rub with the grain to buff over the ring. Then take a dry cloth and wipe off. Use another soft cloth for a final shine. Polish as you normally would.
SAFETY TIP: NEVER!! combine ammonia-based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach, such as powdered dishwasher detergent. The fumes they'll create are extremely dangerous. Before doing any mixing, read the product labels first.
All Hallows Eve
With Halloween quickly approaching the gremlins and ghouls will be swiftly going door to door and while some will be nice, others will be naughty and possibly give more tricks and be somewhat of a nuisance to your trees and exterior of your house. Now if you are unfortunate enough to have your tree or house toilet papered try to remove the TP quickly that night before the dew and damp air makes the paper moist and a lot less manageable. Using a rake with a long handle will allow you to take the paper down from the trees and do not allow the paper to sit on the ground as wet and soggy toilet paper is much more difficult to pick up when wet.
Another great trick for those monsters that come a knocking at your door, is being egged. If you happen to have this done and you know it occurred, take a garden hose as soon as you can to wash down the siding of your house or to wash your vehicle as the egg can stain both the house siding and the outer protective coating of your cars finish. Either way a timely intervention can greatly reduce the headache of having the egg damage your investments.
There are plenty of other issues that can rise up from the grave on this night of children and frightful creatures, but keep a clear and calm head and you will make it through. Children are delights but some can be a handful and patience and keeping a watchful eye out for those that decide to try their hand at redecorating the exterior of your house can reduce the risk of your house being a target. An ounce of prevention can stop a ton of work.
That is all for now, i will continue to bring you small snippets of cleaning ideas and run throughs. If you have any suggestions please leave feedback on our contact page.
Thank you for reading and i look forward to reading your replies.
Ian Blackburn is the business owner of Black Bear Custodial Services and 30 year veteran of the CAF.