Week 1 in my new weekly series Slow + Steady Cleans the House

It's no secret that I am not a fan of housekeeping. "Not a fan" is an understatement :: I loathe and detest it and often take naps instead of picking up a sponge or a mop or a broom. Who wants to spend their time scrubbing toilets and wiping down baseboards when they could be doing anything else?

[How true it is.]

Of course, I'm not alone. My friend L recently asked on her Facebook page if money were no object would you hire a housekeeper or a nanny, and all the responses were a resounding yes for the housekeeper. I think most parents -- whether at home or at work -- would rather spend time with their kid(s) than have to say, "Hold on, sweetie, Mommy has to wash the windows instead of take you to the park."

Heck, even if money were an object (and, believe me, it is), I'd hire a housekeeper to come every once in awhile. The only thing stopping me is my husband. In fact, my mother-in-law has offered on numerous occasions to send her housekeeper to clean my bathroom and kitchen (because they are, in fact, that dirty!) but Rupert has pooh-poohed the idea repeatedly. (It's not that he thinks housework is a woman's job; I guess it's the principle of not having to pay someone to do something we can do ourselves. Along the same lines, he didn't like when our parents sent a gardener over to spiff up our yard. Again, I would rather hire someone to do that occasionally instead of listening to Rupert mumble about the amount of yard work there is when he could be spending time with the kids or studying.)

It's not that I'm bad at housekeeping. On the rare occasions I get around to cleaning, I do a fairly thorough and good job. It's the upkeep that I cannot, well, keep up with. And since I started working almost a year ago, the house has gotten worse. As a result, our house is in perpetual disarray. We're getting pretty close to the point where we would be a good candidate for one of those organizing shows on HGTV.

[My view on housekeeping isn't this extreme ... but it's pretty close.]

I do not jest, nor do I exaggerate, when I say the house is not just dirty, it's a health hazard (I can picture my mother and mother-in-law nodding in agreement). Every surface is covered in dust and/or cobwebs. There are stacks of crap throughout the house. And let's not even talk about the bathroom; it's like a science experiment gone awry. Suffice it to say, it would be easier to completely remodel the bathroom than try to clean it completely (at least, that's what I keep telling Rupert in the hopes of moving along our my remodeling plans). Looking around the house it is just overwhelming; I don't know where to start or what to tackle first.

Enough is enough! I've been a homeowner for over seven years ... let's show some pride of ownership here, people! So I'm starting a new project :: Slow + Steady Cleans the House. I want to take a more organized and routinized approach to cleaning the house and keeping it that way. And I'd like for you to come along for the ride. That means I need your advice and feedback. Part of my housecleaning improvement process will be to learn and to understand how other people tackle their housekeeping. I think your answers will be really enlightening and helpful to other readers as well. So, how can you contribute? For one, you can comment on each week's blog post; but the easier way will be to participate in the weekly poll.

Polls will be posted each Sunday. Results will be announced and discussed in the following Sunday's post. This week's poll is a general view on how often you clean. Not surprisingly, I'm of the "Housecleaning? What is that?" camp. Occasionally I dabble in the "Clean before company comes over" category but usually I just don't invite people into my house. I'd like to change that. Sure, I claim that I don't care what other people think but it's hard not to compare the state of your house with those of your friends' (who also work but somehow manage to keep their homes habitable).

What is your housecleaning methodology?
Clean a bit everyday.
Clean once a week.
Clean before company comes over.
Have a housecleaning service.
Clean monthly.
Massive cleaning seasonally.
Housecleaning? What is that?

Last piece of business :: in order to embark on this weekly cleaning journey (which will, by association, include organizing) I set some ground rules for myself ::
  1. As the name of the project implies, this will be a gradual process. I will not expect miracle results overnight.
  2. No matter the temptation, I will not compare myself to others. I may steal their cleaning/organizing ideas but I will not compare the progress or result of that idea-stealing.
  3. I'm doing this for the kids as much as I'm doing it for myself. I want to set a good example and teach them organizing skills so when I say, "Clean your room" they know how to do it properly and they don't ask me, "Well, why don't you clean your room?"
  4. I will not give up. Even if I encounter some set-backs (i.e., letting dishes or laundry pile up) I'll ease myself back into the cleaning routine.
  5. I am not looking to be perfect, just adequately organized and clean so that housework no longer causes me stress.
All righty, are you ready? Let's get started!


pride of craftsmanship

On my list of "33 Things to Do While I'm 33" are things like travel (check!), get an iPhone (check!), and learn a new language (not so check). And I'm now on my way to checking "take a creative class" off the list.

My sister D and I are taking a 10-week letterpress class at Otis. Like many paper fiends we both love letterpressed items and we were curious about how it works. So we nudged each other into taking this (expensive) class.

Who knew letterpress would be so much work? OK, who am I kidding, of course it's a lot of work! No wonder letterpress stationery costs so much. (And it's very greasy (which actually was a surprise).) Most modern mass-produced letterpress stationery is made using photopolymer plates, which easily allows use of images, patterns, and text. But we're starting off old-school with metal type.

I set the phrase "i (heart) the liberry" because one of my first graders would literally run around the library yelling this. I liked it ... but no body seemed to "get" it so I reset it as regular ol' "i (heart) the library". My idea was to print it in black except use red for "love," which means you pull out the "love" letters and print a batch in black, swap out the letters, and print just "love" in red.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy when it takes two-and-a-half hours just to set and adjust the type and machine. So all I got done was this:

[This sample is on smooth, slightly shimmery paper. The ink "sticks" pretty well to this paper.]

Sure, the phrase isn't complete, but I wish you could feel the lovely impression of the letterpress. I'm pretty happy and proud of the results. It drove me and the teacher crazy trying to get everything just right (he basically told me he hated this project!). But it was well worth the hassle. Truly, it gave me the joy of creating something with my own hands.

[I printed more on watercolor paper, which my teacher didn't think took the ink very well, but it has a nice texture to it. Besides, I bought a whole pad of the stuff so I need to use it up. My idea is to cut them up into business card size and fill in the blank depending on my mood.]


the start of my day

How my work desk is beginning to look every morning ...

I'm also a bit embarrassed to admit (but just a bit) that I had a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast with my coffee.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


The Simple Woman's Daybook :: 10.19.2009

[Topics copied from Ali Edwards's blog, which was inspired by the original Simple Woman's Daybook]

Outside my window … confused weather: cloudy + sunny, warm + breezy, somewhere between a Los Angeles summer + fall.

I am thinking ... there’s so much I’d like to do to “pretty up” the library. But my priority really should be about curriculum!

I am thankful for ... my husband's flexible grad student schedule. We may not have a lot of money but we have the Man of the family around when we need/want him.

From the kitchen ... tuna noodle casserole.

I am wearing ... light gray corduroys + a hot pink tank top (which I get lots of compliments on), both from Old Navy, and black ballet flats.

I am creating ... shelf marker paint sticks + shelf marker frames (whoo-hoo decoupaging!).

I am going ... to Borders to use the 30% off coupon that expires today.

I am reading ... _The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie_ by Alan Bradley, _Leviathan_ by Scott Westerfeld, _No Impact Man_ by Colin Beavan.

I am hoping ... to cancel my gym membership (since I haven't gone in forever) and use the money instead for KPCC membership + a charitable cause.

I am hearing ... the sound of an empty campus, the peacefulness of no kids at school.

Around the house ... Ian is home early from school with a headache + Jordan spent the day working on the couch.

One of my favorite things ... alone time with some coffee (even though what’s supposed to be regular drip coffee tastes suspiciously like hazelnut today) and ideas for what to buy at the bookstore.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... come up with 3rd grade curriculum about the Dewey Decimal system, finishing the shelf decorations for work, sewing up four tagE*blankEs, printing up some stationery at the letterpress lab, and reading three books.

Picture for today ...


what i made for dinner :: broccoli calzones

Meatless dinner, for a change. I needed to use up the ricotta cheese from the other day so I did a search on Everyday Food and found this recipe for calzones.

It's simple but a tad time-consuming to make + cool the broccoli filling and to roll out + fill eight pizza doughs.

The results are, however, pretty good. And even without any meat I found it to be quite filling. You could, of course, add some kind of meat like sausage if you can't bear the thought of eating vegetarian.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


47 months.

Maya @ 47 months :: October 4, 2009
  • Is a total Daddy's Girl right now ... which is fine by me since it means she bothers Rupert in the morning instead of me!
  • Started "Hot Shots," a tumbling class, at school. It's a great way to get her to wear something other than dresses.
  • She can be very lovable + sweet when she wants to be. I get lots of "Mama, I love you all day," which makes my day.
  • On the other hand, she often hits or kicks Ian, usually in the face. Then I send her to her room for time-out and she always asks for the timer so she knows when to come out.
  • Despite beating up on her brother, she enjoys spending time with him and his friend R when they are hanging out in the morning before school.
  • Her drawing infatuation continues. Lately she's been drawing more animals and making bookmarks for me.
  • She's taller than I think she is :: I put the scissors up high since she was having issues with cutting paper up, but it turns out she can reach it on her tip-toes (I didn't notice because she was good enough to put the scissors back after using it). She can also turn on the lights in the house; now, if only she'd turn them off.
  • Has a fascination with butts and boobs.