Monthly Archives: April 2012

How To Trim The Fat Off Your Laundry Load


Do you love housework?

Do you love that your weekends are often spent sorting and folding and colour blocking your laundry?

Or does the sight of your laundry loads, whether dirty or clean, often end up overwhelming you, frightening you, or sending you into a state of utter panic?

The last statement definitely applies to me. And for years now, I’ve been threatening to do something about the never ending pile of laundry that seems to be growing exponentially as my kids get older and as each day passes with me in an increasing tizzy.

The other day, I neglected all household duties and day- dreamed about another time and place when things were briefly much more manageable. I thought back to last summer when we we gave ourselves a ’6 weeks without-a-home vacation’ and travelled to the mid-northeastern frontiers of Quebec and visited the beautiful St. Lawrence River, Charlevoix and Tadoussac regions (will post more on this later). We were waiting to move into our new house and our old house had closed several weeks before. Therefore, with no home, we were forced to put away all our possessions in storage and minimize our daily necessities and belongings. All of this “storing away” felt incredibly liberating. And we managed to live very happily in those six weeks with nothing but a few essentials. When we finally returned and moved into our new place, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could actually do without most of the things we had placed in storage.

So…yesterday, I finally did something about it. I commited to reducing our laundry load to something more manageable. I decided to purge ourselves of all unnecessary items of clothing and limit the number of options. Already, I can breathe deeper knowing there are at least two laundry loads less to do! We are by no means living a completely simplified lifestyle yet. But I consider it one step in the right direction.

To pare down your wardrobe, start with what you love and ‘really need’ and work from there. For seasonal and hand-me-down clothing, label clear plastic storage bins with season, gender and age to refer to for future use, or consider passing along items to someone who may need it. For all other items that you’re not sure about, place in a very dark black plastic bag or dark rubbermaid bin. From here you have three viable options: Either store away and look at these items again in two weeks (and let me know if you actually decide to keep all of these items!), give to friends who may be in need of such items, or donate the clothing to a charity of your choice that picks up used clothing such as the Diabetes Foundation or Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Essentials for each family member (this also serves as a great travel essentials list for those that don’t want to pare down their clothing list permanently….yet!):

-4-7 underwear tops

-4-7 underwear bottoms

-1-2 long underwear (for winter consider polyproplene/wool)

-4-7 pairs of socks (1-2 sport, 1-2 everyday, 1-2 dressy)

-1-2 pairs pajamas/nightgown

-4-7 tops/blouses (per season; 1-2 active wear, 1-2 of each of your favourite colours (approx. 3 colours), 1-2 dressier tops)

-2-4 shorts/pants (per season; 1-2 active wear, 1-2 everyday wear (e.g. jeans/khakis, 1 -2 dressier pairs)

-2-4 skirts/dresses (per season; 1-2 everyday wear; 1-2 dressier ones)

-2-4 cardigans/knit sweater/fleece (change according to season)

-1 blazer

-1-2 ties (men)

-1-2 jackets/coats (1 nice coat, 1 all season jacket/parka; change according to season)

-1-2 pairs rain pants/ snow pants (chnage according to season)

-2-5 pairs of shoes (1 runner/athletic shoe, 1-2 everyday, 1-2 dressier pair, 1 pair of slippers/warm knit socks, 1 pair rain boot/ 1 pair winter boot; change according to season)

-1 toque/sunhat (change according to season)

-1 scarf/neck warmer

-1-2 pairs of gloves/mittens

-1 pair of sunglasses

-1 pair of goggles

-1 swim vest/PFD

-1-2 swimsuits

-1 towel

-(1 toiletry kit) non-clothing related but essential!

-(Family First Aid Kit)-non-clothing related but essential!

Rhythm: Part Four


Rhythm: Part Four.

Rhythm: Part Five


Rhythm: Part Five.

Rhythm: Part Three


Rhythm: Part Three.

Rhythm: Part Two


Rhythm: Part Two.

Rhythm: Part One


Rhythm: Part One.

How I Got My Cleaning Groove Back or Really…How I Finally Discovered My Cleaning Groove


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Photo Credit: Quentin Bacon, House Beautiful Magazine

I’m glad to say that after 5+ years of motherhood, I have finally been able to bring my house to some semblance of order….no kidding folks! It really took me this long! When the kids were younger, I had many plans of how to tackle the job. The problem was, there was never enough time to get these plans accomplished. Schedules would inevitably be thrown off, I would be too tired at the beginning, middle or end of the day to do what I originally set out to do, and/or I just needed down time after work and taking care of the kids and housekeeping was the very, very last thing I would think of doing.

Sure, bathrooms and floors got cleaned (eventually!) and especially just before guests arrived…and fully prepared meals were rare but available… if I had someone dedicated to watch over the kids for a few hours!! I definitely did not have it under control on most days!

The thing I’ve realized though is that having cleanliness and order in the house really seems to help unclutter a lot of the clutter that accumulates in our heads on a daily basis. And when you’re already overwhelmed with being a parent, having a messy, unclean house is no help at all and often leaves you feeling more stuck and disgruntled. I’m sure many of you can relate!

We managed those earlier years by giving up other ‘essential’ things (more on this later!) so that we could hire a very lovely lady who helped us out once a week to do the cleaning. And if you can afford to do this when your kids are young…I highly recommend this. I realize for many, this is not an option. And I am very appreciative that we had this opportunity. And for various reasons, now we’re back to managing house and homekeeping on our own.

So what to do if you don’t have the extra help? I’ve spoken with my friends and family and searched the world wide web high and low, and have come to the conclusion that most people do something very similar to me. Melissa’s blog, The Inspired Room has some really great ideas. You can read a sample of her suggestions for keeping a tidy house in under 5 minutes, here:

http://theinspiredroom.net/2009/08/08/four-daily-routines-how-i-keep-my-house-clean-enough/

As for me, I try to keep up with this routine (which I really have only begun in the last few months) and can say that it really does help me keep my family’s sanity in check.

Here’s what I’ve learned works for our family (may be yawn-inspiring but for some quite exciting depending on what stage of life you’re at!):

Mornings:

Me time (shower, qigong/yoga)

Quick clean of bathroom

Put away any remaining clean and folded laundry

Take all laundry down and start wash (without complaining that no one ahem- e.g. the ‘hubby’ has!)

Write, read paper, space out, whatever before everyone is up

Breakfast

Unload dishwasher and drying rack

Clean Kitchen Area -I use Meyer’s Clean Day to finish the job…it makes me happy and the added expense is worth it in my opinion

Prepare lunch

Fix up bedsheets in each room (as fast as possible…duvet covers are great for this)!

Do a 5-10 minute Tidy Living Room Frenzy with kids just before heading out to Park/Daily Outdoor Time (with perhaps a bit of persistent nagging and without trying to yell louder than I need to on my more desperate days)

Take out garbage and recycling (again without complaining that no one else has done this yet before rushing off to work)

Afternoons (when one kid is in school):

Drop off daughter at school

Meet up with friend/ Break for an hour while little one rests/quiet time (hey we need our breaks!)

2 weekly grocery shops/ prep for dinner

Pick up daughter from school

Play time with kids outdoors

Finish Dinner Prep

Dinner

Evenings

Dishes/ Clean kitchen while other parent does bathtime

Storytime

Put kids to bed

Sweep and wash floors

Prep for any future meals if necessary

Fold laundry

Down time/ go to sleep!

In addition, I am now trying to simplify our life even more by reducing the number of clothes we each have to something more manageable. Of course it’s great to have a selection of clothing especially in a four season country like ours, and also to get hand me downs to add to your children’s wardrobe…but how much of it do we really, really need? And how many loads of laundry are we really realistically able to handle? Over the next few days, I will be paring things down drastically..all in an effort to control the daily onslaught of laundry, which somehow piles up miles high before I even realize it. Stay tuned!

What are some of your daily routines at home that help provide sanity in your household?

Happy Easter! How to Naturally Dye Your Easter Eggs


Thought I would share this post again in honor of the start of Spring and in celebration of Easter.

(With a little one who just turned 8 months, I’ve been relying on simple arts and crafts for the older children such as water colour and wet-on-wet painting with a fresh spring colour scheme. We are reusing our beautifully natural-dyed eggs from the previous year and enjoying the rest of our time playing outdoors in this fantastic spring weather.)

Happy Easter!

…………………………..

It’s Easter Monday and we have had a beautiful long weekend with family. This year, we decided to celebrate rebirth and spring both indoors and out. We began with a trip to our local farm, Riverdale Farm, where children and adults alike can enjoy the daily activities of the animals and their caretakers. My older daughter is enrolled in a wonderful program there called, Little Farmers, where the kids learn about each of the different types of farm animals each week. This week the focus was fittingly on chickens and eggs.

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In keeping with the chicken and egg theme for Easter, we decided to naturally dye our hollow Easter eggs.

To do this you will need:

-8-12 eggs
-skewer sticks
-4-8 toothpicks
-8-12 strands of approximately 10-12cm length twine/ thin string
-15 yellow (Spanish) onion skins
-2 tbsp white vinegar
-pot of water

Directions:

Peel the outer skins of 15 yellow onions. Place in medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and 2 tbsp of white vinegar.

(At this point if you choose to dye hard boiled eggs that are red in colour, you can insert whole eggs into water as well.)

Bring pot to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. (For those using hard boiled eggs, remove eggs at different intervals following this to achieve variation in desired colour.) Use a sif to separate onion skins from natural onion dye.

For those wishing to use hollow dyed eggs which you can later attach to string on branches for decoration follow these additional steps:

While waiting for pot to boil, you can remove egg yolk and whites from your eggs, by puncturing top and bottom of eggs carefully with tip of sharp knife. Make sure to make holes on bottom at least a 1/4 size of your smallest thumbnail.

Use skewer stick to push through hole on top and bottom of eggs and to puncture egg membrane.

Cover top hole on egg with mouth and blow the egg white and yolk out through bottom hole into medium sized bowl.

Do this for all the eggs. Rinse and store in egg carton.

Dip hollow eggs into boiled onion dye and let dye sink in for up to 20 minutes. Remove at different intervals for achieving yellow, pink and red colour. For a stronger reddish brown dye, leave eggs in dye overnight in refrigerator.

For a more finished look, coat eggs in olive oil which gives them a nice sheen.

To display your hollowed-out natural dye eggs:

Tie a small knot on end of each string of twine and insert toothpick that has been cut to 1 cm length into knot before tying tightly once only. Thread end of string and toothpick vertically into top hole of egg shell until stick is fully inserted. Once in, the toothpick should fall into a horizontal position easily to hold string in place. You can also attach string through egg holes with clasps or tape. Tie string with attached egg onto branches such as forsythia or pussy willows in a vase for a beautiful indoor decoration. Or plant in plantar outdoors.

Enjoy!

Here’s what we did in pictures:

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Originally posted on The Parenting Passageway:

 

(Interestingly, I have not changed this original post as much as did the other posts in this series so far except to add some information.  Some topics are just tried and true, I think.)

 

(The original disclaimer to this post also still stands:  this post is directed toward day-to-day marital issues, not marital issues where physical or emotional abuse is taking place.)

 

Yes, we are back to one of my favorite soapbox issues: your relationship with your spouse, partner or significant other (and to my single mommies, I am sorry that this post today probably won’t have a lot of challenging information for you! :))

 

As mindful parents and as homeschooling parents, what happens between the adults in the household is vitally important.  The Gesell Institute book “Your Eight-Year-Old” talks about how the eight-year-old is acutely interested and aware of the quality of the relationships of…

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Day Three, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother


Day Three, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother.