housekeeping 101: 5 ways to get your butt in gear when you just don’t wanna

“I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty mediocre at housekeeping.”

Anne Taintor

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My house is finally quiet after an hour of convincing my kids to go down for a nap (Seriously, though. Can you remember there ever being a time in your life when someone had to persuade you to have a nap? Me neither). Now I’m sitting on my couch, sipping a cup of coffee, staring at my domain, and searching deep within myself for the motivation to keep chipping away at the chaos that is my living room and kitchen. Housekeeping: it’s not rocket science but it is hard work.

I find myself in this scenario pretty often. Not the quiet house, but the “trying to get motivated to do the hard work” part and over time I have developed a few tricks to get my butt off the couch, some of which occasionally work. Today, instead of putting my tricks into action I have decided to put them into a nice little guide. Maybe then one of us can have a clean house.

So without any further ado, I give you…

Housekeeping 101: Lesson 1

5 ways to get your butt in gear when you just don’t wanna.

1. Imagine Bugs

I’m naming this one first because it really is VERY motivating. You can feel free to imagine whatever kind of insect, rodent, or pest that is the most relevant to you. Our last apartment in Victoria had a bit of a silverfish problem so I found that picturing in my mind’s eye a family of silverfish feasting on my breadcrumbs and dust at night could usually motivate me to sweep and vacuum. In the summertime, thinking about a trail of ants when I’m tempted to leave a sticky spill on the floor for another day seems to do the trick.

When it comes to deep cleaning, you could try getting a full on infestation. I’ve tried this technique as well and  I have to say that having sand fleas was was quite effective in getting me to steam clean my carpets and wash my curtains (Side note: I don’t recommend bringing large amounts of driftwood into your house- no matter how cute the Thanksgiving centerpiece turned out). Closet decluttering and mouse-nest-hunting can be one and the same, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Once your infestation is under control, you might try my next tip:

2. Host a regular gathering

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As anyone who’s been to my house can testify, I am a firm believer that your house does not have to be perfectly clean in order to have people over. In fact, I think we should all just throw that myth out the window right now. Loneliness and isolation are a major issue in our city and, according to this article in the Georgia Strait, “those aged 24 to 34 and people living in suites in houses (such as basement apartments) reported higher rates of loneliness.”  I wonder if all my fellow basement suite dwellers are sitting alone in their caves thinking that their suite isn’t clean enough/bright enough/open concept enough/ big enough/minimalist enough to have their friends over; I say enough of that! In fact, I challenge you all to invite someone over this week and not clean up at all AND (this is the tough one) not apologize for the mess. It is both a humbling and liberating experience.

And now that I have released you from the feeling that your house HAS to be clean to have friends over, we can get back to our original topic. Consider, for example, you want your house to be clean for sanitary reasons (not just for the sake of appearances) but have trouble getting down to it- oh, the monotony of it all. Company is very good for this as they can be used as leverage to motivate yourself to clean the house. I tend to procrastinate cleaning my bathroom and am always amazed at how fast I can clean it in the 10 minutes before guests arrive (or in a 5 minute trip to the bathroom when I realize that I forgot to clean it after they arrive). Seriously, it makes me wonder why I was putting off all week. Which brings me to my 3rd motivational technique.

3. Do it as fast as possible

Set a timer for 5 minutes (0r 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or 10 seconds if that’s all you can handle) and clean as much as you can as fast as possible. Make a game of it, see if you can beat your record from last time. Alternately, put on a peppy song and speed clean for the duration of the song. I recommend this song:

About 7 minutes of peppy speed-cleaning candy right there.

However, if you’re really having one of those days, and find you just don’t have the pep for 10 minutes, or even 10 seconds of speed cleaning, please refer to my next tip.

4. Do it as slowly as possible

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When you’re tired and sluggish, your body is weary from pushing 100 pounds of toddlers and stroller to the library and back, and you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of chaos and don’t know where to start, I recommend that you work as slowly as possible.

Pick any spot. A shelf or a corner perhaps. The smaller the area the better. If you need to sit down to access it, that’s ideal. For example, you might try detailing the armrest of your couch. Or maybe take a minute to research recipes on Pinterest.

Or you could take the global approach. Instead of focusing on one area or one task, focus on one item at a time. Some days I find myself slowly orbiting my planet like a robotic space probe looking for signs of life, sending data to my brain as I handle and identify each misplaced item, one at a time. Beep boop beep…garbage…beep boop boop…toy…beep boop beep…dirty laundry. The key here is to keep up any sort of forward momentum no matter how slow because, as we all know, if you’re not working against the toddler tornado it WILL consume you.

And my final tip…

5. Use one housekeeping task to get out of another housekeeping task

This is my final tip and a favored technique in our household. There’s nothing like a well-timed trip to the washing machine the minute a child declares he/she a has a poopy diaper. “Can you do it, honey? I’m just putting a load in.”  Sometimes Addison and I even fight over who gets to do the dishes and clean up from dinner while the other one gets the kids ready for bed. I just love to pop on some headphones around 8 pm and get down to wiping table and chairs and sweeping the post-dinner debris, or propping up my laptop on the window sill and washing the dishes to an episode of my current Netflix interest, productively tuning out the toddler wrangling in the background.

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Alternately, it can be difficult to do the dishes, if the act isn’t helping me get out of some other responsibility. In which case, I put them off until there is some other task that I need to do but want to do less than the dishes. You could try this technique as well. Or just wait until it becomes absolutely necessary due to lack of counter space. Whatever happens first 🙂

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Happy Cleaning!

30 things

I can’t wait until I’m all grown up

 because then I won’t be sticky.

Isaiah Lacasse

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During my many perusals of internet articles and opinion blogs, something that I’ve really picked up on is a general feeling of disdain towards my generation, the Millennials.

The internet is very critical of millennials and I take personal issue with some of these critiques, the first one being the claim that we’re soft because of all the participation trophies we received as children. This offends me, mainly because I feel ripped off. I never in my life received a single participation trophy and I participated a lot. Yes, there were a few participation ribbons, but no trophies. And seriously, even as a child, I knew the difference- it was just a matter of knowing your colours. Primary colours= good. Anything else= not good.

The second criticism that I take issue with is the claim that we all need to grow and move out of our parent’s basement suite. This one hits home, and my rebuff is that you can be a grown-up, and do all sorts of grown up things while also living in your parent’s basement.

I think the #adulting hashtag phenomenon was born out of the Millennials need to prove to themselves and to the world that we really are responsible adults. So in that vein, I give you my own list of Thirty Activities that I Participate in Proving that I am Indeed, All Grown Up.

  1. Blowdrying my hair and using hair products I didn’t really do this in my youth, so the fact that I do it now really makes me feel much older and wiser.
  2. Registering my child for preschool Filling out those forms, dotting those I’s and crossing those T’s, I. am. a. grown. up.
  3. Signing cheques It’s a powerful feeling. In that moment before I put pen to paper, I feel that I hold all the power in the universe in my fingertips.
  4. Vacuuming underneath my couch cushions Yeah that’s right. Sometimes I lift em right up and vacuum right under em. GROWN UP!
  5. Using a spreadsheet My father would be so proud.
  6. Packing school snacks Thinking ahead. Considering things like shelf life and nutritional value
  7. Receiving my children’s colouring pages from Sunday school Saying things like, “Great job, honey! Let’s put it on the fridge when we get home!”
  8. Using an Eyebrow pencil I know teenagers probably do this as well, but the point here is that didn’t when I was a teenager and I do now, which means… grown up.
  9. Driving a car and filling the tank with gas. Although usually I try and put this off until Addison does it…
  10. Updating my credit card information
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  12. Working in the garden while my kids play in the yard Just like my mama
  13. Making a meal plan (Breakfast for dinner, all week long)
  14. Making doctors and dentist appointments for myself and my whole family
  15. Paying my own dental bill Sometimes I don’t want to be all grown up.
  16. Putting important papers in a file
  17. Knowing the location of important papers (in the file!)
  18. Calling my credit card company about a mysterious purchase
  19. Running Errands Everyone has errands, but I think calling them “errands” is what makes this inherently grown up.
  20. Drinking Diet Coke I don’t do this very often, but when I do I feel a strong sense of adulthood.
  21. Cutting my kids fingernails Attending to the personal hygiene of another human being is very grown up.
  22. Having a huge set of keys I have a huge set of keys! I only know what three of them are for. I have no recollection of adding so many keys to my key chain.
  23. Misplacing my keys I know this sounds irresponsible, but I think the fact that I often can’t find them is proof that I have an important set of keys to begin with. #grownup
  24. Cleaning the garbage out of the car My husband would probably argue that I never do this, but really honey, sometimes I doooo!
  25. Flossing my teeth. Nothing says, “I pay my own dental bills” like flossing your teeth.
  26. Feeling sick after eating a hot dog. One remnant from my childhood is that I still really love hotdogs, but hard proof that I am quite grown-up is the fact that I feel pretty sick after eating one.
  27. Thinking that I should go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m still working on this one, but I think the fact that I’m thinking to myself “I should go to bed at a reasonable hour” shows how grown-up I am. Teenage me would never have thought that. Seriously, can you imagine a teenager or even a college student thinking or saying something like “reasonable hour”?
  28. Finding missing things when nobody else can. Yes, I do still lose things. But since becoming a Mom, I’ve also become great at finding things no one else can find. The secret is knowing that I’m the only one who throws stuff away. So I know that if I didn’t toss it, it has to be somewhere.
  29. Listening to the CBC Patriotic, dignified, cultured, and all grown-up.
  30. Turning 30 And you know what they, 30 is the new 20. Which means I must be an adult now.

 

quantity over quality, and other new year’s resolutions

This is the day that the Lord has made

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

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Now that I’ve made it through my New Year’s funk, and 2017 is chugging along nicely, I want to put down in writing some of my plans and goals for this year. What’s the name for that again, oh yeah, New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. Eat More Salad. 

Unless the meal IS salad, I don’t make salad- it just feels like a nuisance. But this year I’d like to change that. If anyone has any very delicious, and EXTREMELY QUICK AND EASY salad recipes, please can you share them with me?

2. Focus on Quantity over Quality

This probably sounds weird and a bit anti-trend, but this year I’d like to edit myself less and just put all my creative endeavors “out there” without worrying about how good they are or what the response will be. My main ambition for this blog is to practice writing, so I think the best way to accomplish that is to do it more often. So hopefully, you can expect more posts but… they might not be very good. You’ve been warned. And as always, thanks for reading!

I guess that’s it. I don’t have any more New Year’s Resolutions this year.

 

 

 

old technology I want my kids to know about

I got my first smart phone a couple months before my oldest was born, which means he has never known life without this multifunctional tool. My children take for granted that this little rectangle their mom seems to love so much is home to a camera, a photo album, a map, the voice of his grandparents, a messaging center, a gaming system, a flashlight, a music player, a toy catalogue, and much more all in one.

This irks me, so I’ve started collecting and compiling a list of things I want to collect, to teach my kids about all the single-function gadgets I thought were so cool when I was a kid. For them but also for me, because I still happen to think these things are pretty fun 🙂

So without further ado, here is Part 1 of Old Tech I Want My Kids to Know About:

1. Non-digital Photography

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One day I think it would be really cool to develop film in an actual dark room, to show my little techies that photography has not always been so instant but since I’ve never actually done that myself, this old school Polaroid camera shall do. Now I realize this is still “instant photography”, but there is no screen to look at the pics right away, AND the photos actually take around 10 minutes to fully develop, AND (and this is the big ones) the film costs around $3-4 per photo- there will be no taking 300 selfies of your nostril with this bad boy.

Addison hunted this camera down for me for Christmas and it seems to be in working order but I’m just waiting until I have an awesome photo shoot idea to test it out because given the cost of the film each picture kind of feels like an investment! I can’t wait to share the results though 🙂 Not sure how I’ll do that though- I guess scan the photos into the computer? ORRRR I could snap a pic of the photos with my iPhone. Oh the irony. (I think. Is that irony? Or is it meta? I can never be quite sure).

2. A Clock-Radio

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It’s a clock, it’s a radio. Two functions, that’s it. (incidentally, it’s actually very difficult to find JUST a radio). I love listening to the radio, the CBC in particular. I like that you just turn it on and you get what you get. There’s something sweet about tuning into the same live programming as people across the country, it’s like the original social media. I had not been able to tune into my favorite radio show for a while because the streaming feature on my phone app isn’t streaming properly, so RADIO was on my Christmas list this year. Addison hunted down not one but two old-school clock radios for me so we tuned in many a day over the holidays. I find that radio buzz quite comforting actually, and I hope my kids will come to think so too.

3. Calculator

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Single function AND solar powered. I used to love playing with these when I was little, I would type in all sorts of imaginary calculations. The buttons are so much more satisfying to press than a touch screen. And what I really love about them is that besides spelling a couple cheeky words, you really can’t get into much trouble. No phone calls to China, no accidental purchases, etc.

4. Acoustic Piano

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I will always prefer an acoustic piano over an electric- no matter how weighted the keys or authentic the sound. There is something about a real piano that makes a house feel more like a home.

When I teach piano lessons I love opening up the piano at some point to show my student how it works. It looks intricate and complicated but what it comes down to is just a hammer hitting a string. It’s simple and it makes sense to me, which is probably the same reason I gravitate to all low tech stuff.

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That ends part 1. I will add more to the list as I build my collection.

What would you add to the list? What low tech, or old tech gadget would you love to share with your kids?

ordinary days

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The sparkly happy dust of Christmas has settled, and I’ve packed all my New Year’s gusto and motivation into 8 boxes and loaded it off to the thrift store. The holidays are over, and the reality of life and snotty colds and snow and cold is really hitting home. It’s official. I’m in a funk.

It seems to happen every year around this time (although I think this year it hit a bit sooner than expected). I become what I call “creatively frustrated” for lack of a better term. Antsy, discontented and with no focus. I can’t listen to music without feeling depressed that I will probably never be a famous musician (which has never actually been my ambition). I can’t scroll through my favourite Instagram feeds, usually such a source of enjoyment, without becoming depressed that I will probably never be a true artisan or crafter. It’s all a bit ridiculous, I know. I have all this creative energy leftover from Christmas and I feel like I should be working on some GREAT and AMAZING project of some sort but I don’t know what that Great and Amazing project should be. Hence the frustration.

Yesterday was one of those days. It wasn’t a bad day, it was actually a nice, slow, and could-have-been-pleasant-had-I-been-in-a-different-mood day. But long. And just so ordinary. And…dare I say it… it almost feels like a swear word…boring. I was bored. Bored to tears almost.

My intentions were good. I sat down with the kids in the morning and made a plan of fun for the day- Play Lego, Wash Dishes, Bake Cookies, Eat Cookies, Go for a Walk, Eat Lunch, Two episodes of Paw Patrol, Colouring at the Table. But as it were, besides Eating Cookies, none of our planned activities turned out to be that fun for me. Some of them were even decidedly NOT fun. It was just a boring, antsy, funky kind of day.

And so it goes. I’m putting all this out there for no reason in particular. I guess as a confession of sorts? A resolve to go to my room and come out when I’m ready to change my attitude or something like that?

What do you think, do any of you ever get into a seasonal funk? And more importantly, what do you do to un-funk? Addison thinks it means I should stop drinking coffee, and I’m like WHHAAAAAAAAAAT??? That’s a crazy idea.

I guess I will start by looking at these pictures. Because really, it’s not such a bad life all in all.

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I mean, seriously.
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Come on, now

 

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Ok, I’m better now.

 

 

why a blog: part 5

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I’m not an “I write therefore I am” kind of person. I don’t have to write. I can pick it up and put it down without much mystical compulsion involved. That said, I do enjoy writing and it is an endeavor that I like to revisit in its various forms.

As a child, it was short stories (that usually ended quite abruptly as I got bored of my plotline), poetry as a teenager, songwriting as a young adult, essays as a student, and now meandering blog posts and sporadic journal entries as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve missed writing since finishing all my scholastic endeavors. I enjoy the process of carefully curating words, elucidating my thoughts, even researching, organizing, then presenting material in a way that makes sense.

I enjoy the process and I would like to be better at it but it’s not easy for me to find the focus without those menacing deadlines I loved to hate and procrastinate all through high school and university (Full disclosure: I have about 15 incomplete blog posts that I can’t seem to finish). It’s hard work for my mental machinery now that it’s rusty and I tend to edit myself as I go rather than just getting the words on the page which makes me very. slow.

I would like to become quicker and less calculated so I’m trying to write more often as a way of clearing the path from my brain to my fingertips. I’m blogging as a way to practice and develop a skill I deem valuable, using whoever reads as my test audience. So if you’re reading, welcome to my process and thanks for being here!

I aspire to write in a style that is engaging, efficient, honest, and humorous because that is the style of writing that I like to read. Engaging and efficient so that any topic could be interesting and I don’t lose your attention or waste your time by using more words than necessary. Honest because I am inwardly critical of pretentiousness and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. And humorous because it’s nice to laugh.

If you’re reading and have a penchant for editing, I am very open to your input! Please feel free to comment with all sorts of red marks (about my writing, that is, not my character or life choices :p). But please be kind because I am extremely sensitive and tend to hold grudges for a long time. Just kidding. I am thick skinned like a tortoise.

And as always, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

sunrise fritatta

 

I must be a millennial (those millennials, amiright?) because I can’t make or eat something delicious without taking a picture of it. And even though I’ve talked about this dish before, here it is again. The Sunrise Fritatta, invented by moi, the solution to your break/lunch/dinner dilemma.

I’ve made this with several different kinds of meat- bacon, sausage, breakfast sausage, or as in the version below: salmon.

For this batch I started by thinly slicing new potatoes and red onions, tossing them with some oil and salt and pepper, then spreading evenly across my biggest pan, and placing them in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. I have found the thinner sliced potatoes equals more delicious flavour, whereas if you do big chunks they can be quite bland.

While the potatoes and onions are roasting, I cracked 12 eggs into a large bowl, added a splash of milk or cream, and whipped them with a whisk until completely mixed.

After 10-15 minutes they were halfway done, at which point I took them out and added salmon fillets with a bit more oil and salt and pepper and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. I start checking the fish around the five minute mark because its easy to overcook it.

*Side note for all you budget geeks out there: it was a bit more expensive to buy the fillets rather than the whole fish but in my books the time saved is worth it, especially because I ended up splitting the fish over a few meals. The package of 9 fillets cost around $15, with which I made one batch of salmon chowder for a dinner with 5 adults, and frittata for 3 lunches for two adults.

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While the fish was cooking, I sliced two tomatoes, and finely chopped some fresh herbs from the garden.

After the fish and potatoes were cooked, in a stroke of genius I took half out and placed them in a pot for a salmon chowder (perhaps a recipe for another time. Just kidding, I will only ever post fritatta recipes :p :p). Then, leaving the oven on, I broke the rest of the salmon up into smaller pieces and redistributed them across the pan, spread my tomato slices evenly on top, sprinkled the fresh herbs, then poured the egg mixture on top.

After a final sprinkling of salt and pepper, I put them in the oven one last time for about 20 minutes or until the eggs were fully cooked.

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Once cooked, I slice my Sunrise Frittata into 12 pieces which usually works out to be 3 lunches each for Addison and I. I pop Addison’s into separate containers to bring to work and the rest into one big container for me to eat at home when I get sick of grilled cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs. I haven’t yet convince the kids to eat it but apparently frequent exposure is the key to getting picky littles to try new things, and that part I’ve got down.