Tag Archives: housekeeping

Front Hall Closet Makeover

As I have mentioned before, we don’t have a lot of storage space in this house so every bit has to count.

Our front hall closet will the be repository of every winter boot, glove, scarf, coat, slipper, etc used by the four of us, so it needed to be well-organized.

Here are the “Before” pictures. Note the jumble of miscellaneous stuff on the upper shelf.


And the floor was crowded with shoes that haven’t been worn recently, brooms and mops, a gym bag, etc.


After: I started by moving the brooms to a basement closet where I installed hooks to hold them all. I purchased four clear plastic bins and labeled them with their new owners’ names.


The hanging shoe rack will be limited to slippers or other indoor shoes, and dog walking apparatus (leashes, bags, and paper towels for cleaning his feet after a walk).


The shoe cleaning stuff (that was in the cardboard box on the top shelf) is now in it’s own bin on the floor at the back of the closet. The rest of the closet floor will be **strictly limited** to outdoor shoes.


[Hard-assed mother anecdote: Alex tends to leave his shoes directly in front of the door upon entering, rather than taking the, oh, 6 seconds to put them in the closet. On at least two occasions in the summer, after warning him about this, he “lost the privilege” of using said shoes for 24 hours. He had to run in his “back-up” running shoes, poor boy. I may need to resort to this again as the effect seems to be wearing off.]

I (heart) Craigslist


We have a Bowflex 3.1 series workout bench to get rid of. It’s like new, but we simply don’t have room. It was holding piles of professional journals next to Zs desk in our bedroom until I cleared it to get it ready to sell (i.e., take pictures.)

I listed it this afternoon on the Toronto Craigslist, and had 3 offers within 15 minutes of the ad going live. Someone is coming to buy it at 8 pm tonight (if it will fit in his car.)

[Update: bench is sold! It was picked up as promised this evening.]

The fight against consumerism

This is an area that I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’m one of those “next new things” kinda gals. My eyes are attracted (distracted?) by the shiny and fresh. I like technology, design, efficiency, and, well, newness. This is diabolical recipe for accumulating a LOT of stuff.

Zen Habits never fails to make me think. Daily. And today, a guest blogger provides “9 Tips to Throw off the Chains of Consumerism.” He begins by reminding us

You already have everything you need. Those of us lucky enough to have been born in this time period in the Western world are experiencing an abundance few of our ancestors could have claimed. Food, clean water, shelter, law and order are almost guaranteed.

Why doesn’t it feel this way? Despite this amazing abundance, why are so many people dissatisfied? Are we doomed to always want more than we have, even if it won’t bring us more happiness?

Go there to read the rest (and get the 9 tips!).

Eckhart on Holiness

Counsel 4 (from Counsels on Discernment) speaks “Of the profits of self-abandonment, which one should practice inwardly and outwardly.” In particular, these words struck a chord:

People ought never to think too much about what they could do, but they ought to think about what they could be…We ought not to think of building holiness upon action; we ought to build it upon a way of being, for it is not what we do that makes us holy, but we ought to make holy what we do….as we are holy and have being, to that extent we make all our works holy, be it eating, sleeping, keeping vigil, or whatever they may be. (emphasis added)

In my current vocation as wife, mother, and keeper of the home, it is easy to bemoan the sameness, the drudgery, the lack of concrete results in so much of how I spend my day.

Kathleen Norris’ little book The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work speaks exactly to this. She compares women’s work to liturgy…acts that are repeated and that can have a contemplative aspect that is often overlooked. Acts that can be transforming and holy.

I haven’t come across my copy in our unpacking yet, but I’m due to read it again. It’s slim, at only 89 pages, but an inspiring read for all who mother.

Big Declutter

With Z off work this week, we have big plans to get the house in some semblance of order for visitors later this month.

We’ve ordered new broadloom to replace the filth that was in this house when we bought it. (Oh, and it is a filthy bright yellow carpet. I think this was the first thing that Z told me about the house…that it would have to go immediately.) The carpet covers the entire second floor plus four flights of stairs. Home Depot has this interesting product called Puresque that apparently helps to clean the air in the house, and that’s what we’ve ordered. It likely will not get installed before visitors arrive, but definitely before Christmas. We will tackle removing the old carpet ourselves, so if you have any pointers, leave them in the comments!

On Sunday, we went through Z’s clothing. I gently encouraged him to bless others with things that he no longer wears, either due to fit, style, or wear. It is not easy for him to part with clothing, particularly “good” things even if he hasn’t worn them for years, or dislikes them. I dropped two large green bags of clothing off at Goodwill today, and our closet is much lighter. (I am very good at keeping up on clothing management, and I don’t buy a lot, so my stuff is already minimal.) We will install some modular shelving over the next few weeks, much like we’ve used in previous houses. It’s amazing how much space you can create simply by organizing your storage space. This should let us get what was our Atlanta garage shelving (and is now holding excess clothing) out of our bedroom….ahem.

Last night and this morning, we installed a new sink and faucet set in our basement bathroom (which will be used by our house guests.) The previous one was white enamel and had huge gouges in it where you could see the black metal underneath. Plus a sloppy touch-up job. So it looks 100% better now. It’s only our second time doing this kind of plumbing, but it was easy and cheap. The actual hardware cost just over $100 for both pieces plus a couple of plumbing bits, and with self-install, it can’t be beat!

Tomorrow, we have some movers coming to deliver our dining room table to a local woodworking shop to have it resized. We originally bought the table for our dining room two houses ago. It is a harvest style with a hand-planed top and rope trim on the apron, but is nine feet of solid wood, and doesn’t fit in our current house. The table-top has been wrapped in moving blankets and leaning against the fireplace in the living room. We are having it shortened to five feet and will have two leaves made with the left-over top. It seems like a lot of expense, but we have 10 chairs and a buffet that go with it, all in the same Canadiana style. Plus, we love it.

The same movers are also taking a three-piece set of leather furniture that was bought for us by Zs employer in Atlanta when we were first in the city. We’re lending it (probably permanently) to one of Z’s cousins for his basement. This moving will let us re-arrange the rest of our belongings and free up the guest bedroom that, to now, has been stuffed with extra furniture. Or, at least, it will get us quite the distance there.

I think I’m moving past the grieving stage with this downsizing and starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This will be a great house when it’s organized and not cluttered and stuffed. We’re getting there.

Lesson for the day: Focus

From Stacks and Stacks Clutter Control:

So many times, we are so overwhelmed by the amount of things that need to be accomplished that we do not know where to start and we find ourselves running around in circles. We try to become super human by trying to have the perfect lifestyle and we take on too much. Then we wonder why we never finish tasks or really accomplish things to the best of our ability.

For some unknown reason, we seem to think that if we are doing three things at one time that we are really accomplishing things in record time. This is the time to step back and reassess. We need to learn how to FOCUS on the task at hand. One job plus one thought, equals one accomplishment that is well done. Pick out your number one priority task and stick with it until it is totally accomplished.

This has been my life for the past 3 months. So much in the house is unfinished because I have been trying to do everything at one. The post has some good tips for improving task focus.

Grape vines

When we first moved into the house back in July, we noticed some grape vines at the side of the house, over and around the porch. We both commented on how nice it would be to have a pergola over the deck covered in vines, blah, blah, blah.

We made a couple of half-hearted attempts to cut them back away from the maple tree at the edge of the property, but they have invaded the poor thing. I’ve called a couple of arborists to get estimates on removing the vines and disentangling them from the tree.

Here’s the “before” picture. I’ll post an “after” once the work is done.