Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Walk Through

Over the years, my cleaning style has ebbed and flowed; my daughter tells me I could write a book on feng shui, (and wonders why I don't just do what I know, lol!) 

Recently I've been shifting things around, with the goal of moving my Atelier into the back section of my living room, at 10 x 10' it's about 2x the space of my dining nook! My harps and a chair will move into the nook (5x6') and I'm reorganizing the seating area.

I've moved a couple of bookshelves, have a pile of books to donate, and my living room currently looks worse than before I began! But, .... it's on its way.  I enjoy watching Melissa Maker's Cleaning videos, and tips from Rachel Hoffman of UFYH for inspiration.

Living room corner

I especially like Rachel's reminder that "Company ready is good, but you ready is better!" She suggests cleaning in small blocks of 20 minutes, resting 10, (or more) and takes into account chronic health problems and depression, which can form roadblocks to having a welcoming habitat! Her compassionate style is a welcome change from guilt. 

Bookshelf switch
One of the habits that can help keep things clear is to do a couple of Walk Throughs each day. A "walk through" is basically going through a room, attending to things you notice are out of place or trash, and dealing with them. Dishes to the kitchen, throw away or recycle trash, neaten a surface. This is something "neat" folks do automatically, and makes a big difference when we incorporate it!

It's a concept kids can learn, and can help with. A quick check for toys and shoes which need to be put away, and dishes bussed takes just a couple of minutes, who knew?! 

What are some of your favorite routines and tips for "you ready?"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cleaning with kids

We've all been there, the house is a mess, the kids are up to their ears in toys, gack!

I spent a lot of time in just that muddle when my kids were young, and still go in stages of less and more organized, with all the kids flown! When my grandkids visit, they are good about putting away what they got out, as they know I expect it! And if they mention it's messy, I ask what they want to help clean up, lol! 

A gal in one of my FB groups recently asked for tips, as her husband will be working a second job, they've got a 2 year old, and the house is already messy, meals are haphazard....
Two is a great age to begin to engage a child's help, and instill the idea that everyone who shares the house pitches in! When they help out, try not to correct or criticize, do show gratitude, and admire their work!

  • Go with simple one dish meals, crock pot, stir fry, and have big salads made up. 
  • Choose from your family favorites, and add more as you think of/try them
  • Wash and cut veggies and some fruit, store in lidded containers with compartments, for easy, nutritious snacks. 
  • Look for crackers etc with limited ingredients, and shop the outside isles
  • If you've got a farmer's market, have them help choose new veggies to try, and old favorites. 
Cleaning with a toddler/kids
  • Aim for at least one 20/10 each day (clean 20, rest or share time with your kid for 10) and do another round when you can. Tackle the things that bother you most first.
  • Find an hourglass children's timer, so s/he can set their own.
  • Get the child/ren interested in helping, two is a GREAT age to begin! Carry a dish to the dishwasher, help put silverware away, wipe a table, ...(don't correct things in front of them! It's getting done!) 
  • Partly fill a spray bottle with water and a squirt of dish soap or Dr Bonner's, and invite them to spritz the stove or fridge for you ("three sprays!") My 6 year old grandson LOVES using the spray bottle! 
  • Make a game of picking up before lunch or outside time. Sing a pick up song, and chip in. Make it fun, and something you do daily.
  • Get outside when you can! Walks, a trip to the swimming pool or a park. Holistic docs suggest kids play outside a minimum of 45 minutes a day when they can. 
  • Have a small basket or bin for favorite books, and read! Have the child choose one, and you choose one. Go ahead and read it again! Limit screen time, for them and for you! 
  • My grandkids are 6-18, and I've watched 4 regularly from infancy up. I "use my psychic powers" to predict the chore they will do, the vegetable they'll pick, whether they'll put their shoes by the door or in the hall, ....
  • Hide toys around the room, and see who can find/ put then in the right basket first
  • Have a trash can handy, and invite them to find 3-5 things to throw away.
  • Streamline! Get a shelf unit and containers, from simple with colorful Dollar Store baskets, to an Ikea set! Colors engage kids in picking up, and help code what belongs where. During a break, check out pinterest for ideas that suit your family
  • Rotate toys! Have an area (garage?) you can store categories of toys they've lost interest in, and bring it out again in a few months. When you notice toys everywhere, go through (probably on your own) and stash some away. This is good to do around holidays. (* their special toys excluded!)
  • Have their clothes in low drawers, tops in one, pants/ etc on a second that are labeled with a photo, for easy put away. (One friend's son dumped drawers out when he was a toddler, so they needed to have his drawers in another room! And be sure they are stable and won't tip)
  • My 6 and 12 year olds attended an awesome co-op
    Playschool from 3-5 or 6 and learned social shills and team play and cleaning. I helped in the classroom regularly, and it was great to watch them go from chaos to tidy in about 10 minutes! 
  • Each choose the area they would clean by putting their photo in a chore chart, and they often cleaned an area they weren't in that morning! (Bonus, try learn "I can clean even when I didn't mess it up!!") 
  • Each section of the room was roughly dedicated to something, a playhouses, block area, dress up, touch table, pixels, blocks, art, snack table (with low shelves and dishes to serve themselves) there a way you can do more of this at home?
  • Playgroup!  If you're a SAH mom or dad, find ways to engage with other kids and adults! A playgroup, where kids play and parents observe/visit is awesome. My daughter and her friends met in a childbirth class, 18 years ago, and had a picnic after the babies were born. It has evolved into a playgroup, then as the kids grew into a Moms Group,  with monthly adult get togethers, a summer beach trip, a couple's get away, and several family trips to Disneyland! 
  • to find one, check Bulletin boards, the library, swimming or gymnastic class, local FB groups, homeschool groups, look for the right for for your family! 
You're able to be home with your kids, appreciate the opportunity! That was the norm when I was growing up on the 50/60s, and now I realize how lucky I was! 

I hope you can use these ideas to spark your own, and please share your own tips in the comments! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Clearing the Decks

We've all got them, areas or a whole house full of too. much. stuff.  Do you get bogged down just thinking about it? I do a good job for awhile, then get busy and Things multiply!! 

Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates, and likewise, energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. It can be a vicious cycle, clutter is both a symptom and cause of heavy or stagnant chi, of struck life force.  And fortunately, movement of either prompts flow in both!

When we clear physical, emotional and mental clutter and stagnant energy in our environment, we free and release the stuck energy that keeps us in a holding pattern of exhaustion, overwhelm, and/ or procrastination. 
Clearing clutter also enhances sleep, clarity of thought, vitality, sparks joy, enhances prosperity, and healthy weight! An added bonus, clear space requires less time spent cleaning, and easier upkeep.

Take a moment, and think how you feel in your messiest space. Notice your posture, and sensations in your body. Take a breath and shake that out!
Now, picture walking into a beautiful, serene space, perhaps in a spa or retreat center. Notice how your body reacts, is your breath fuller? Do you feel like you can take up more space? Stand taller? 

If you're ready to dig in, here are some tips from my inspirational friend Gwynne Warner, Feng Shui consultant, on clearing clutter and setting a more harmonious environment.  

 Basic guidelines:
  • Pick a day when the wind is not to strong, nor eerily still. When the wind is strong, wealth can't accumulate - this can be a good time to get rid of dated documents, files, or office paper!
  • Choose a time you feel the most energized, daylight and morning are great
  • Wear bright colors, orange, yellow, red are yang and give energy. (Blue, grey and pastels are more yin, and better for relaxing) 
  • Take breaks for crying, dancing, breathing, drinking water, eating a good snack. After 25 minutes, feel free to stop for the day, or take a 10 minute break, and do some more! 
Before you begin:
  • Start to sift the stagnant energy of the area by increasing yang (active) energy
  • Turn on all the lights (bring in more light if it's a dark area!) 
  • Open windows and doors in the space - even just a crack
  • Burn incense: sandalwood, juniper, nag champa, or spritz with essential oil in water/ use a diffuser: orange, Neroli, bergamot
  • Clap or ring bells to "wake up" the space
  • Play uplifting, joyful music, or a video on cleaning that space, or, ...
  • Have a Waterbottle or big glass of water with a sprig of mint, lemon and cucumber.
While You Clear Clutter
  • Clear in blocks of 15-45 minutes - set a timer, and take breaks. -- My favorite patterns are 20/10 (especially good if you have chronic health challenges or are depressed) and 45/15. Even 5-10 minutes is better than Ø ! 
  • Gather 4 bags, bins or boxes, and Mark:
  1. Trash (things someone else would toss)
  2. Recycling (ditto - I have a tall white trash basket for recycling that I bring into the room I'm working on) 
  3. Donate / gift/ sell
  4. Transit to another area

  • Pick up one thing at a time and ask yourself

  1. Does it LIFT MY ENERGY when I think about it/ look at it?
  2. Do I absolutely LOVE it?
  3. Do I actually USE it? (Or have another like it)
  4. Do I NEED it?

  • If your answer is, "No! It's clutter and it has to go!" place it in the appropriate box. 
  • Pick up the next item and ask the same question.

After You've Finished Clearing Clutter for the Day

  • Empty the trash immediately, outside your home
  • Take recycling to your bins 
  • Take things in the transit box back where they belong (if that area is also cluttered, put it close, books by the book shelf, etc)
  • Put items to donate etc in your vehicle (or separate area)
  • Sweep or vacuum
  • Spray with aromatherapy/burn incense
  • Look at the area you've just cleared, and congratulate yourself! 
  • Woo hoo, we did it! Even if you only spent 10 or 20 minutes, it is that much more than nothing! 
After You've Cleared Clutter from the Entire Room
  • Clean the room - I personally love Melissa Maker's "Clean My Space" videos and blog! Her 1, 2, 3 room sweep is great (and works great for minor clutter!) 
  • Use simple cleaning products (Melissa has tutorials on making your own!) Scent with lemon grass, pine, basil, orange or rosemary if you wish.
  • Bring in or buy fresh flowers
  • Sit in your favorite chair and admire the room, you did a great job!! 
  • Reward yourself! (Hint, think experience rather than retail therapy!) 
Staying Clutter Clear
Are you great at doing "Bumble-Bee Cleaning" (BBC) just before someone comes over? I am! Rachel Hoffman of UFYH reminds us that we are important, and suggests we clean for ourselves, not just for company! "Company ready is good, but you ready is better!"
  • After an area or room has been Cleared of Clutter, it's easier to keep it that way if you do a little every day! Set the timer for 20 minutes, and do a basic reset. 
  • Notice where Things tend to accumulate, and streamline ways you deal with those. 
  • UFYH offers great tips for getting on top of the clutter. (And there's a Facebook group, Team UFYH (official) which offers awesome, shame free group support.)
  • Melissa Maker's video on maintenance has great tips on "keeping it up." She has videos for each room, I like to put one on while I'm cleaning! She also has one on getting motivated
  • To assist yourself in being neater, hang a 50mm faceted leaded crystal sphere (Gwynne carries these in her online boutique)
  • Take advantage of charity yard sales, and donate items (they'll often pick up)
  • Houston Clutter Fairy, Gayle Goddard has a MeetUp and posts videos with monthly tips on tackling different areas. I was intrigued with her statistics on Boomers, and the number of us drowning on clutter! While we use technology, we often don't quote trust it, hence keeping paper etc we don't really need to!
  • Compile list of daily, weekly and monthly basics in a way that works for you. 
  • If you share a space, engage others in cleaning if you can, ... Clean anyway, if you can't! 
  • If it starts to pile up again, pick a messy area and stare at it. Do nothing. Breathe. Stare at it. ...ideas may begin to percolate... Breathe. Stare at it, breathe. When you can hardly stand it, take another breath. Then dive in, using these tools!
Happy clearing! 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cold Brew Chicory Coffee

For years I've sipped herb tea and infusions, with occasional forays into drinking coffee. My mom was fond of green tea, and for a brewed drink, choose Sanka (instant decaf, 'sans caffeine'). With recent studies promoting health benefits of drinking a cuppa daily, I've been drinking some, usually black (! I was fond of flavors, which were also pretty sweet!) 
Råskog cart (mine's cream)
Saturday I went on a field trip to Ikea with a couple of friends, seeking a Råskog cart for art supplies. We played a grand game of shop-till-we-collapse, ... getting the cart and other goodies, eating dinner, shopping a bit more, ... and I picked up a little French press and some organic whole coffee beans. 
I have a little electric mill I generally use for spices, and wanted to grind my own. My friend suggested making iced coffee concentrate, and so I looked up some recipes for proportions 

I liked the idea of adding chicory, which I have from Mt. Rose Herbs, and checked out their site, finding this article. I decided to go half and half, so got out the grinder, and did a course grind of 1/4 cup coffee beans, adding 1/4 cup roasted & ground chicory at the end for one more grind.

The next step was putting the mix in a quart jar, and covering with filtered water. The last addition was a teaspoon of powdered Reishi mushroom, then capping the mason jar, and setting
Cup from Alyssa
it on the counter to steep overnight (6-12 hours, at room temperature.)

Reishi and other tree fungi are considered adaptogens, beneficial for daily use. Studies have shown Reishi to have potential for protecting the neurological system, inhibiting tumor growth, and aiding liver regeneration.

In the morning, I poured 1/2 of the cool coffee blend in the French press, and after pressing, filed with 1/2 cup filtered water. Mmm.

I left the rest to steep longer, then pressed and refrigerated it. I covered the grounds with 4 cups of water, and steeped a second time. After pressing, I poured some of that into my new "water bottle" ice cube tray (long and slim) 

My cup of choice was my Christmas gift from my granddaughter Alyssa, which she made in her HS pottery class! Didn't she do a great job? I love the glaze and the round belly! She made her mom a matching vase, which is equally lovely and loved.

Last week I cleaned up and rearranged my front porch, and painted my front door a yummy Cosmic Cowgirl Magenta!  We had a long, cold and wet winter and spring, it's lovely to have a temperate spell, and I'm enjoying sitting out in the morning with my journal.

I think I'll add turmeric and a dash of pepper tomorrow ... 
What's in your cup??