Chores Feed

Cozy Corners: Laundry Closet

A project in progress!

New laundry set up


The units above were just installed, but we are planning to re-do this laundry closet - spruce things up a bit and make it more efficient for the head washerwoman. (Aka, moi.) But it's been a bit of a funny story, getting these new units in place ...

What happened was, a few weeks ago I was running a wash when we suddenly noticed a strong odor from the basement. Kind of chemical-y, definitely burn-y. Well, we determined it was the washing machine and that the motor had burnt out. Both the washing machine and dryer had been here since we moved in (no idea when the previous owners purchased them) and were quite inefficient. Our clothes were never quite cleaned thoroughly (sometimes they plain smelled funky) and the energy drain was awful, too.

Moral of the story: it was high time to buy a new washer-dryer set!

So research ensued and we decided on Samsung, front-loading units - and last week, Holy Thursday to be exact, they were installed. I ran my first wash - a laundry comprised of Little Bear's baby things and my brand new pair of (very pretty) spring pajamas ... 

Some time later I went back downstairs to see if the wash was done ... and it was stopped so I assumed it was. I opened it up and realized it was still soaking wet! So I closed it back up and tried to start a spin cycle ... only everything just locked up! And then it stayed that way ...

So here we had a soaking wet wash locked in the washing machine and nothing we did seemed to budge the situation one way or another. We called Samsung (the manufacturer) ... and they had us call Best Buy (the installers) ... and we finally got a repair appointment to come ...



Mind you, this was but a few days before Easter ... and I had table linens to wash! Not to mention Easter outfits and the usual array of dirty laundry a houseful of people creates. And meanwhile, that wash - the one with all those tender little clothes (and my brand new pajamas) - just sat in that broken machine.

Sopping wet. 

Anyhoo, I'm rambling on, and this is becoming another one of my long stories, but on Wednesday of this week the repairman came and opened the unit for us - informing us a defective sensor was at fault. Not in transport or installation or use, but right at the point of manufacture. Thankfully the clothes - though wet and a bit smelly - were not awful.

So fast-forward to yesterday, when a new unit was delivered and installed and I am happy to say it is working beautifully! I've run several loads and I am very pleased with the way the machines are cleaning our clothes! And that original (smelly) wash? It washed up just fine and does not smell at all - except for a slight hint of lemon ...


 I must pause here to express my gratitude to my dear mother who went above and beyond doing laundry for us while this whole fiasco unfolded. And by that I mean, LOTS of laundry. (You never realize how much dirty laundry you create until you have to load it up and hand it over to someone else!)

So the picture above shows you another cozy corner in my home - the laundry closet which is in the lower level - near the bottom of the stairs and mudroom - and a stone's throw from the "man cave," lol. I was so happy when we first toured this house because it was such a nice little spot. Not huge, but efficient - with doors that close the whole zone off entirely. Those wire racks were there too (we removed the lower one to make room for the taller units). 

We'd like to re-do this laundry "room" a bit by painting the walls a soft blue/green (that says "clean and fresh" to me) and installing some better shelving or perhaps cabinets. The "pedestal" drawers in the bottom of the units are wonderful storage areas - for detergents and the like - but since I have a toddler in the house we'll use them to store something non-toxic for now.

So please stay tuned for more laundry-themed posts! I'll keep you posted on our progress. :) I will also be organizing my laundering materials - the products we use (homemade is a goal!) and any equipment like an iron and folding table, bins/baskets etc.

(Perhaps an old-fashioned, outdoor drying line?)

I hope you'll be willing to share your laundry routines (and secrets?) as well!


Well my friends, I'll be off now ... but I wish you all Happy Friday and a very pleasant weekend ahead. We are beside ourselves with excitement here in New England because our forecast calls for several days of sunshine and temps in the 60s, near 70!

See you here again very soon ...

Setting Up a Housekeeping Calendar ...

(Part Two)

Housekeeping calendar 4

Happy Tuesday Wednesday Thursday, my friends!

(It's taken me so long to finish this post, I have to keep changing my greeting, lol.)

Well, here at long last is the second part of my Housekeeping Calendar post! I'm still working on this rather large project, and it's taking me a while to get all my cards written out ...

Housekeeping calendar 1

I'm pretty much working on it whenever I get a chance, using the large post-it note grid to guide me as I write out each day's tasks. (Explained here.) I'd like to get the whole year's worth of cards filled out, but so far I'm taking it a week at a time. I find it helpful to look over the coming week's cards ahead of time, so I can see if there are any extra chores that might need special supplies or preparation.

But on to the calendar itself! As you can see in the top photo, I have filled a small bin with index cards (one for every day of the year), and 12 tabbed monthly dividers. Each one looks something like this (today's yesterday's card):

Housekeeping calendar 8

The upper corner has the date and day of the week and then I have listed my housekeeping tasks for the day - weekly, monthly, seasonal/annual. At a glance I can see what needs to be done according to the master cleaning schedule I worked out recently (which I explain in this post) ...

Wednesdays are my kitchen days, so I've listed the basic upkeep tasks here: sink, counters, fridge/freezer, appliances, wipe surfaces, floor

I also do laundries daily, M-F.

Also on Wednesdays, since I'm working in the kitchen, I find it a good time to start my meal plan and marketing list for next week.

Two monthly kitchen tasks that are assigned to this particular (1st) Wednesday of the month:

wipe cabinet and drawer fronts

empty fridge/pantry of old food

run disposal with ice/citrus peels

Now, I know without a doubt there will be days when I don't get much of my card done (case in point yesterday, lol), but as I've said before, that's OK. I can only ask myself to do the best I can and some days my best won't include anything other than feeding, dressing, listening to and loving up my kids. Nonetheless, the tasks are there for the doing if time and energy are available.

A few of you asked when in my day I am fitting in these extra tasks (on top of the daily must-do's that often barely get done) and the answer - right now anyway - is whenever and wherever I can. With an active toddler and a special-needs son as well as a busy high schooler needing rides here and there, it's tough to designate a set time for doing chores. I do like to do things early if I can, so I try to "get on with it" before the day really gets going - but later in the day works sometimes, too ...

For example, yesterday was a long day, and not much on my card got done. But then as I was preparing supper - waiting for water to boil and a timer to ring - I grabbed a damp cloth and started wiping the kitchen cabinets and drawer fronts. In less than 20 minutes I was done. It wasn't a deep cleaning, mind you, but the fingerprints and spills were gone. (I never realized we spilled so much coffee, lol!)

*Just for the record, I don't usually do chores during nap time. I try instead to rest - and blog! - while Little Bear sleeps. Case in point, this very moment! It's a good chance to recharge my batteries! :)

Before I wrap up, here are a couple of "cozy corners" from Tuesday's cleaning (bathroom zones) ... 

Cozy corners master bath

Above is the master bathroom ... and below is the foyer half-bath.

Cozy corner foyer bath

We have four baths in all here, which is a big change from our old house where there were two (but only one working!). There is also a boys' bathroom upstairs with a shower and tub, as well as a small bath with a shower in the basement. The two shown above get the most use - for some reason the boys use the foyer bath most of the time - and they also prefer our shower - so these are the two that need a real cleaning each week.

Several readers also remarked on how my calendar is similar to the index card system described by the "Slob Sisters" back in the 1970s. And YES! I LOVED that book and even tried their system a time or two through the years. When I decided to use index cards for this new housekeeping calendar I was tempted to read back through that book of theirs, but decided not to. I liked what I had planned and since I'm easily distracted I would be second-guessing and changing things up and would probably try to over-complicate my idea. I remember (I think) they had cards for each task and some cards were white (daily?) and some were blue (monthly?) and so forth. I do highly recommend their book - Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise - for some great ideas and a good laugh, too. They're very funny ladies!

Ok, I'd best wrap up now as I finally seem to have reached the end of this post and may actually press "publish" before the baby wakes up! Let me know if you have any questions about my housekeeping calendar ... it's going well so far, I think! I will do another post about my master lists and delegating tactics ... and I still have that cleaning supplies post to get to! I would love to talk homemade cleaners and using essential oils in our housekeeping ... Speaking of, are any of you planning to do Spring cleaning this year?

See you all again soon - or as soon as I'm able! And thanks, as always, for stopping by.


Cozy (Clean) Corners ...

Family room 1

Hello, my friends ~ and Happy Sunday!

I thought it would be fun to share pictures of the corners I clean as I dig into my new housekeeping calendar. So for instance, I took these pictures last Thursday. On Thursdays, according to my weekly routine, I concentrate my housekeeping efforts in the family room and adjoining sunroom. Basic cleaning duties include de-cluttering/tidying, dusting/wiping surfaces, vacuuming rugs and sweeping floors. And because it was the fourth Thursday of the month, I had two extra chores on my card:

* clean out copy corner/check printer supplies (above)

* wash the baseboards and registers (below)


I cannot tell you how messy that above cabinet corner was before I got to it today! There were so many papers strewn about - laying on top of, and around, the printer - miscellaneous toys and whatnot in piles ... the bottom cabinets were open a bit because stuff was spilling out from inside. (I kid you not.) So I first decluttered and neatened the whole area, then I wiped it down (hand-vacuumed behind the printer) and got it all pared down and clean. And now it just makes me so happy. :)

The cabinets do still need re-organizing. They've basically held the same mishmosh of paraphernalia since we moved in - copy papers, and oddly enough, tech stuff like cords, keyboards, and other things I can't even name. What I'd like to keep here is stuff for the printer - paper, ink etc. - and maybe ... other supplies for homeschooling? Paper, pens, pencils, rulers, etc.? Maybe also, movies to play on the dvd player? I'll have to think on this a bit. The bottom cabinets are obviously quite accessible to toddler hands ... so maybe that will be a toy cabinet ...

The registers were a bit of a pain to clean, but boy did they need some attention. They were quite dusty and there were even some old spills ... I wiped them down with hot water and then dried them off as I went along. The heat was on at the time, so it was a bit tricky, lol! (Not to mention I had a "helper" crawling along beside me trying to alternately climb on my back or pull off my sweater.)

But you know, I really appreciated my housekeeping cards last week. They kept my immediate tasks in one place where I could quickly refer to them throughout the day. And what I'm finding is that, although I'm not getting everything done, I am able to get more done than I previously thought possible. Tasks don't actually take quite as long as I fear imagine they will!


Well my friends, thanks so much for joining me today ... I hope to have my next housekeeping post up early this week ... I will go through the cards and show how I'm using them as a calendar. And I will have some more cozy corners to share with you next week, too!

For now, Happy March! See you here again very soon ...

Setting Up a Housekeeping Calendar

(Part One)

Routine planning 1

Hello, my friends! Today I'd like to share with you a project I've been working on for the past few weeks: creating a new housekeeping calendar. I'm still ironing out a few details, but I am quite eager to share it with you all ... so here goes!

 As I've mentioned before, I still have yet to set up a new housekeeping routine - one that works for this house, which is decidedly different from our old house. Now mind you, I'm not a white-glove kind of gal, but I've been feeling badly about the lack of upkeep around here. Now that Little Bear is a toddler, I find myself spending time in the oddest places - huddled in random corners, behind draperies and under tables. Toddlers love sliding down a wall and just hanging out by the baseboards ... sharing a snack in a doorway ... or dropping small toys behind the bed. And what I've been noticing - while catching crumbs and rescuing toys - is that there is a lot of wear and tear happening to our "new" house. Smudges, stains, scratches, lurking dust bunnies and gritty bits caught in crevices. For example, the layer of dust along the register behind our bed ... ? Oh, my.

Now, I'm not asking for my house to be pristine - that would be fruitless and, frankly, boring - but I don't want to let things go on as they are. I need to find a way of doing a few things each day, as I can, that will keep our home's condition at a certain standard: hygienic, presentable and comfortable for my family. And by "hygienic," I mean clean enough for healthy living; wholesome. Also, on a practical level, I'd like to keep the overall value of our home intact as much as possible.

So, I figured during this long house-bound winter I could turn my attention to my surroundings and start making amends - on paper first, and then hopefully in practice. Because as with anything, I like to think before I do, and so first, I would need a plan ... 

And here's what I did. :)

Routines 1

I started with a list of things that need to be done daily. I just walked through my day and wrote down what we are already doing and what I would like to see done in addition. In composing this list, I referenced previous lists I've made, as well as information found in favorite household books and on Pinterest. I live by my own standards, but often I'll see something on someone else's list that I've overlooked.

Weekly planning notes

Once I had the day mapped out, I did the same thing for the week. I thought about our weekly rhythm - what days take us out and about, and what days allow more time spent at home. I gave each day a zone - bedrooms on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday, etc. - and filled in each day's grid with its obvious to-do's. I then went in search of more information to add, as described above. 

Planning routines 1

Now, I've made cleaning lists before, but for some reason, just thinking about and writing down all those tasks doesn't actually get them done. Go figure, lol! But it's hard to keep the big picture in mind when you live your days hour-by-hour, just keeping up as best you can. Things like "dusting lampshades" and "vacuuming stair treads" kind of fade into the background when you have more pressing matters in queue, such as smelly diapers, dirty dishes and hungry kids ...

What I need, I decided, was a daily calendar with housekeeping tasks listed out for me beforehand - the must do's and the could do's - so I don't have to think about it in the heat of the (smelly/dirty/hungry) moment. A calendar that would be entirely devoted to housekeeping only - and yes, I can hear some of you saying, "Oh, Dawn - another calendar?" ;)

But yes, I think another calendar, one made just for housekeeping, makes sense for me. I might write "bedrooms" on my Monday planning page, but I can't list out all the steps. And for some reason, no matter how often I clean bedrooms, I still find it helpful to read each task separately: strip beds, tidy and wipe surfaces, vacuum, launder bedding, etc. That's not all going to fit in my planner!

Anyhoo! I decided to get EVERYTHING listed out and then schedule EVERYTHING according to how often it should be done ... keeping in mind, however, not EVERYTHING will ever get done ... but that's ok. It's a step up from what I'm doing now, which is clearly not enough. And my motto is, it's always good to get things down on paper. It's a good place to start ...

(Still with me, lol?)

To continue creating the master list, I walked through every room in the house and just wrote down things that need attention. I began with my Monday zone - Bedrooms & Upper Hallway - and simply looked the whole area over, writing down what would need cleaning (the when came later.) I started with one wall and moved along ...

Wall a week 1

... mentally assessing any and all cleaning tasks. Little things like "make the bed," and big things like "clean closet shelves." At this time, I also started a separate list of "projects and issues" to address in each room (for example, dress up hearth, replace master bedroom mattress, find bureau tray at flea market, etc.).

(Now, don't think for a minute I didn't move a whole lot of laundry out of camera range before taking this picture!)

Finishing up the in-house list, I consulted with Bill on areas with which I'm not as familiar - the garage, attic, basement, outdoor buildings, vehicles, grill and driveway/patio/deck etc. Though we do share chores around here, he has his zones and I have mine. ;)

Finally, I wrote out a list of housekeeping tasks that don't really have a physical space but are quite important in running a home - filing school reports, renewing subscriptions, updating addresses, arranging travel plans and filing taxes, etc.

Once I had all my tasks written out, I started to work on a schedule ...

Routine planning 2 

To start this next step, I covered a poster board with a grid of post-it notes, creating a month at-a-glance framework. Starting with the first Monday of the month, I wrote out the weekly tasks (clean bedrooms, upper hallway, laundries, trash & recycling) and then checked my master list of bedroom tasks for monthly chores. I kind of randomly assigned monthly (and seasonal/annual) bedroom chores to different Mondays of the month.

I just worked through my task list and as I wrote a task down on a post-it note I checked it off.

Routine planning

(Can you see now why this post has taken me so long, lol? The project itself took forever and is still ongoing!) 

By the way, I'm not a housekeeping expert, so I referenced various sources to determine how often these tasks should be done - Home Comfortsfor one, which is a great resource for housekeeping information. Also, considering I can't seem to get my daily chores done, never mind any extras, this could prove to be an exercise in frustration. And perhaps it may be ... but at least I have something to keep in mind and works towards. 

New routines 2

To further organize myself, I set up this grid for monthly tasks at a glance ...

Now as I organized tasks into time slots, I started thinking about how my daily housekeeping calendar might look and work. I considered a few different designs - binders, clipboards, etc. - but finally ended up choosing an index card system ...

New routines 1

But! Since this post has gone on quite long enough, I will stop here for now ...


In my next post I will show you how I've organized the index cards as a daily housekeeping calendar. (There might be some multi-colored cards involved, too.) I will also talk about how I'm planning to delegate some of these housekeeping tasks - because honestly, I'm only one (often busy, usually tired) woman! And in a future post I'd like to tackle the topic of housekeeping supplies, because I feel having the right equipment, stored in a convenient way, is half the battle.

Also, if you'd like, I will share my master list of housekeeping tasks. Not that I think it's necessarily something that would work for someone else, but like I said, I find it helpful to see other people's lists because it inspires me when making my own.

Ok, that's all for now, my friends! Thank you so much for joining me and as always, I hope you all have a wonderful day/evening ...

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will see you here again very soon!

Every Day Has a Story ...

Candle on napkin

Happy Wednesday, my friends ... long time no see!

This post has been an open draft on my computer for some time now ... but things have been a bit topsy-turvy here with all the snow! We're in a short lull now (weekend storm ahead!) and I'm trying to get back on track. Thanks for your patience as I worked on this long-promised post!

So today I'd like to talk about something I mentioned in a previous post - about how I like to give my days "stories." It's really quite a simple concept - not very original or life-changing - but I think it's a great exercise in getting yourself one step closer to a "system" that works best for you. And that's something we've been talking about recently: how do we establish routines that help us manage the needs of our family and home? (While keeping our own health and happiness in mind?)

I have always "written stories" when planning out big projects like holidays, seasons and parties, but it works well for all kinds of things - mornings, bedtimes, Sundays, babymoons, and spring cleaning, etc. I like to start by envisioning a story for whatever it is I am planning - so here's what I do, in a nutshell:

I simply grab a piece of paper and a pencil and take a few - or several - quiet moments to think about what it is I am trying to plan. I imagine how it looks, what is happening, who's present and how I feel ... and create a vision that is, perhaps a bit idealized, maybe even unattainable, but will ultimately represent my true hopes and values.

I know that sounds a bit elaborate for something so commonplace, but I really do feel this "mental exercise" helps. And I don't know about you, but I can use all the help I can get when it comes to managing my responsibilities - namely, my family and home! 

But before diving into the days individually, I begin with "my day" in general ... so I imagine waking up and going through the motions of the day. I try to think about how I'd like things to be, ideally ...

  • My bedroom is neat and I'm up early enough that there is quiet around me.
  • I have a cup of fresh coffee thanks to my sweet husband ...
  • Phone in hand, I take time for a bit of contemplation: prayer, news, and email
  • I have clothing laid out and the bathroom is tidy and set up for quick washing and dressing.
  • I leave the bed freshly made and head downstairs ...
  • (Bill has helped with changing and dressing Little Bear. Earlybird is most likely up and he's been given juice and a snack.)
  • Coffee is hot and the kitchen is neat as a pin after a thorough once-over last night.
  • Breakfast is warm in the crockpot (or set out on kitchen table, ready to assemble).
  • I check my journal-binder and look over the day's agenda.

(And so on.)

As I read back over these rather comforting thoughts, I see where I can take action to make this more of a reality. (Underlined words indicate where action is needed ...) I can see that a lot of morning "joy" begins the night before, so I add tasks to my evening routine with that in mind ... set coffee maker to brew before bed, tidy bedroom and master bath before bed and set out washcloth and hair tie, and outfits for myself and the younger boys. Charge phone and have apps/subscriptions that allow for daily prayer, news updates and email. Etc.

(NOTE: This is not what happens, exactly ... not everyday, anyway ... this is an ideal situation!)

As for planning the days themselves, I begin with Sunday because this is the day I really want to get right. In fact, this was the day that kind of kicked off my daily stories, because I was so frustrated that our precious Sundays were starting off harried and ending up as a catchall of missed chores and last-minute errands!

So my ideal Sunday has a story like this ...

  • We (some of us) attend early Mass ...
  • We are not rushed, things have been organized the night before: donation envelopes, church clothes, Crackerjack's Mass signature card, my "nice" pocketbook :)
  • We arrive at Mass early so we can sit quietly and pray, read over the bulletin, relax/absorb, connect with our fellow parishioners ...
  • A light breakfast (bread/muffins/fruit) is ready when we get home, along with fresh coffee and Sunday punch. 
  • We have a quiet day, there are no outside commitments, and we don't shop or run errands.
  • Instead, we spend time on home-oriented projects, visiting perhaps, and there's a big family sit-down dinner in the early afternoon.
  • Over dinner, we talk about the week's homily and any church news, as well as the week ahead and family goals/schedules.
  • Time is spent outside whenever possible - in the garden or as a family, on a hike or bike ride. "Walking the boundaries" together to see how the property is faring. 
  • I spend time catching up on correspondence with family and friends.
  • I read back over my week's journal and index information.
  • I spend time with Crackerjack, updating his assignment board and discussing expectations.
  • I might spend time baking for the week if I didn't get to it on Saturday.
  • I look over the household budget - organize receipts/statements from previous week; talk with Bill about upcoming week's expenses.
  • I prepare homeschool materials for week ahead and the boys' daily task cards.
  • I place grocery order for the week.
  • The trash and recycling is organized for morning.


And remember, this is my STORY ... not always my TRUTH. At least not in its entirety. :)

And as you can see, the exercise kind of morphs into a more traditional list of things to do, but still, it's part of my vision to have time for these things. And it's safe to say, every vision includes the whole house being neat and clean ... whatever the day or occasion ... but it is also safe to say, that's a pretty high horse to climb! But a clean home, to my mind, is the canvas for much family joy and a balm to the spirit as well ... but that's a post for another day. :)


I've had these stories in my head for years, and I like to revisit them in quiet moments, especially when I'm tweaking my routines. (I can put myself back to sleep at night by walking through a story in my mind ...) But I'm now going to keep these stories printed out and stored in one of my binders (either my main planning binder or in the general housekeeping binder).

And from here I feel I can start making some helpful day-by-day task lists that will assist me in creating the kind of week I want my family to live. That I want to live. I know what I do as a wife and mother is important - I don't suffer any insecurity on that front - but when I connect my homekeeping "heart" to my everyday routine, it makes the whole process that much more meaningful and rewarding. I think so, anyway. Does that make any sense, lol?


Oh my goodness, this is so long-winded I'm afraid I have surely bored some of you, but I hope there is some items of interest here for my like-minded homekeeping friends! Honestly I can (obviously) think and talk about this topic at great length ... in fact, I have often thought, I would actually read a novel(la) written entirely about a housewife's days spent caring for her family's home, through the seasons and the ups and downs of everyday life. There wouldn't have to be any drama or suspense ... it would still be exquisitely interesting to me! For example, we are listening to Little House in the Big Woods right now - a wonderful story for the children to hear for many reasons (and especially during our own long winter) - but my favorite parts are the detailed sections on Ma's chores and home keeping! And I often find myself appreciating how simple life was back then ... but then I remember how "easy" we have it nowadays. (I don't face down any bears when getting milk for my family!) And it keeps it all in perspective. :)

Ok, that's enough from me, I think! I'll be back again soon - hoping to have my routines post up next. (Or perhaps, the wall-a-week cleaning post.) But I'd love to hear from you if you have time ... about your own stories, and if you do anything similar when contemplating how you'll manage your week at home, with your family. Or maybe you do this with your work? Bill has been sharing with me how at the office, his team works together to come up with stories for how projects will go ... and then breaking them down into tasks that will make sense to everyone and move them closer to their goals. I loved hearing about their method and he loved hearing that I've been doing something like this (in my own humble way) for years!

Right. I'm off ... lest I continue, lol. Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Working on New Routines ...

Good Wednesday morning, my friends!

Routines 1

While I'm working on a post about my new chalkboard wallies (discussed briefly at the end of  yesterday's post and teased at my Facebook page), I thought I'd share this with you briefly this morning ...

As I've mentioned, I'm re-working my housekeeping (and familykeeping) routines which have been in need of a tweaking since our move and Little Bear's arrival. (In other words almost two years now!) When I'm tackling a project of this size (in that, there's a lot to consider) I like to break it down into sensible steps.

So ...

1. Figure out what needs to be done daily to keep everyone clean, fed and happy. Write it all down - from waking up through lights out.

2. Go room-by-room and write down all cleaning tasks (the daily and extensive) as well as any issues/projects for each room (repairs, redecorating).

3. Take a good look at our weekly rhythm - what days are quiet? what days are busy? - and give each day a "story." How would I like to see each day play out? Write this down, too.

4. Divide all tasks according to frequency: daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal/annual. Create a master page for each division.

5. Figure out a way to keep these tasks visible and on track - I like to check things off as I go. Make it a printable of some kind.


 In the photo above you see my first step is underway; I'm thinking about my day - how it unfolds and what should be done. To the side of my list I'm jotting down thoughts - what would make these activities easier to accomplish? How could I make my day go more smoothly? (Ex. Use a pink sponge for the high chair so it's easier to keep separate from general sponges. Keep daily agenda and devotional in basket by bed for early mornings, etc.)

*I drew the sun just for fun!*

So that's where I'm at now! I'm hoping to have my whole day "tasked out" by the end of this day and perhaps start working on that room-by-room chore list tomorrow ...  

Now, I don't mean to imply I'm doing anything original or particularly inspiring - I'm sure you've all done things like this before - but I know so many of you (happily for me!) love to talk about housekeeping, I just wanted to share. :)

But I'll keep you all posted!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, my friends ...

Pucker up ~ It's National Lipstick Day!

Victorian woman's face

Good Tuesday morning, my friends! I have a quick question for you today:

Do you wear lipstick, and if so what shade?

I myself wear it on occasion. On a daily basis I use a simple vanilla lip balm just to keep my lips moist. If I'm leaving the house I do apply a light bit of makeup and that includes a hint of lip color. I like shades that are a near-match to my natural color, with just a bit of a boost. I cannot wear anything pale, nude or frosty. And pink and orange don't suit my coloring at all - I need something in the red zone.


I used to wear a particular shade of Neutrogena lipstick called Rose Suede - I don't think they make it anymore. These days I am more apt to wear Burt's Bees Red Dahlia (which is actually quite sheer) and just recently I received Philosophy's Frosted Animal Crackers Lip Gloss as a gift - not something I would have chosen for myself, but it's actually quite light and sweet. It adds just a bit of shine - a touch of "glam" if you will. (And it's super tasty, too!)

Burts bees

Animal cracker gloss

If you have a moment, please drop me a note and let me know your thoughts on lipstick. And as always, have yourself a great day!

See you here again very soon ...

Kitchen Chat, Week 9: Kids in the Kitchen!

Bs&c graphic 2

Good Monday morning, my friends! And welcome to another Kitchen Chat!

I can hardly believe we're on our ninth week already ... has Downton been off the air that long, lol? I think we will do one more week of kitchen-focused chat, and then we'll switch our domestic "gears" a bit and step out of the kitchen ... and into the garden!

But for today, I'd like to discuss our kids in our kitchens ...

Sometimes we want them out of our way, and other times we want them to step up and help. I love to bake with my boys, and I appreciate help with the dishes, but the kitchen is mostly a "Mama" domain.

What's it like at your house, with your kids? If you have a moment, please answer some or all of these questions in a comment below ...


Do your kids help out in the kitchen? 

What do you enjoy doing/making with your kids in the kitchen?

How do you keep your "little kids" busy while you work in the kitchen?

Any favorite resources or recipes to share?


I woud say my kids like to help out in the kitchen ... sometimes. And some of them, more than others. They're all pretty good about helping if asked ... and emptying the dishes, bagging and taking out trash and recycling, and putting away groceries are chores all on them nowadays. My Earlybird does love to help cook, especially baked goodies. He loves to help out with that when he can ...

Little Bear, up until recently, would sit in his exersaucer while I got the dishwasher unloaded, or started supper or something along those lines. Now that he's much more active he doesn't have much patience for that contraption anymore! He loves to cruise/crawl around the kitchen - which is really cute, but not exactly conducive to getting any work done!

Right now, I time my kitchen work around naptimes and/or snack time (he'll sit in his high chair and "watch") ... also, I'm very fortunate to have a fantastic babysitter in Crackerjack. When I need help, he's always happy to play with his baby brother for a while.

A few books to recommend:

Family meals

Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen

Kids baking

Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking

Usborne children's cookbook

Usborne Farmyard Tales: Children's Cookbook

Grow it cook it

Grow it Cook It

I've also found excellent recipes to make with (and for) kids in several magazines - Kiwi, Family Fun and Parents, especially.


Well my friends, I look forward to hearing about your kids in your kitchens! I could probably say a whole lot more on the subject, but in the interest of keeping this post brief(ish) and getting it posted sooner rather than later, I will wrap things up and perhaps jump into the comments later as I can ...

So for now, and as always - thanks for stopping by! See you here again very soon ...

Let's Talk Laundry, Shall We?

Yes, let's.

O in laundry 1 

Little Bear suddenly regrets asking to help with the laundry ... there's just so much!

O in laundry 2 

Nothing but laundry as far as the eye can see ...

O in laundry 3

 You mean, we have to fold ALL of it?

O in laundry 4

Well, I'll just sit here and look cute. It's what I do best.


My friends, how are you keeping up with your laundry these days? Is it something you do once a week, on an assigned day? Or do you do a little daily till it's done? Or do you wait until there are absolutely no more clean clothes available - aside from swimsuits and mismatched socks - then really get down to business?

I'm just curious ... our laundry feels pretty out of control these days. According to my "housekeeping routine," Mondays and Tuesdays are supposed to be my laundry days. But really, I'm doing as much as I can over the weekend and then a load or two through the week as opportunity (and/or need) presents itself.

My biggest issue, as odd as it sounds, is clean laundry. I get the whole wash-and-dry cycle going pretty well but the crucial step of "folding and putting away" somehow escapes me. The stuff sits in a laundry basket (or two ... or um, three) and we pick out what we need through the week. It's clean - but obviously, quite wrinkled. Well, we're heading into another weekend which means squeezing in as many loads as I can, and so laundry's on my mind ... and my to-do list ... and I thought I'd ask what you all do.

Thanks for your thoughts if you have time to share them ... but either way, I'll see you here again very soon!

Children and Chores ...

A very interesting article in this past Sunday's Boston Globe Magazine:

Put Them to Work:

"Children don't belong in factories, but they shouldn't get a pass on toiling at home. Here's why it's so important - to the whole family - that kids grab a sponge and get busy."

By Agnes R. Howard

How do you feel about your own children's chores? Could/should they be doing more?

I'm at a point right now in this pregnancy where I'm looking at what my kids are doing and if/how I can ask them to do more. I tend to think they're doing plenty, but then I read lists of what a "__ year-old" can handle and I'm usually a bit shocked.

Food for thought today, my friends ... just wanted to share!


4 things that made me smile today ...


1. Re-doing my chore cards ...

New chore cards

The old ones had gotten rather dog-eared, and some of the tasks were outdated, so I made up a brand new set. Love those soft rainbow colors!

2. A new package of file folders ...

New file folders

It always catches me by surprise when my file folder crate reaches "full circle." I'm nearing my annual "refresh time" so I picked up some crisp new folders at Staples the other day. This time around I chose some soft brown recycled folders ... still working (ever working) on the planning sheet to "go with."

3. A batch of homemade hot fudge sauce ...

Fudge sauce

It's National Chocolate Mint Day, dontcha know! And I happen to be a BIG fan of chocolate + mint ... have you ever grown chocolate-mint (the herb)? It's lovely! Well, I had grand plans to make these today but extra time and energy were hard to come by. (And not that I don't adore Girl Scout cookies, but EB can't have them.) So instead, I bought some mint-chocolate ice cream and cooked up some of this sauce to make it all kinds of special. (Fyi, I'm craving chocolate something fierce these days - even though it gives me terrible heartburn!)

4. Something funny & sweet my middle man said ...

Since I was feeling super-tired today, I told the boys I was going to lie down for a rest ... So Crackerjack asked, "Are you really tired today, mom?" And as I crashed on the couch I said yes (or maybe I just nodded, I forget) and then CJ said:

"Well, that's a good thing isn't it? It means the baby's working really hard at growing something!"


What made you smile today?

Money Monday: Kids, Money & Chores

Happy Monday, my friends!

For this week's topic, I'd like to talk about kids and money and household responsibilities ... so here are my questions for you:

1. Do you give your children an allowance, and if so, must they earn it by doing chores? 

2. How do your children handle their money - deciding what to spend, save, and give?

3. Do your children have jobs outside the home?

My answers:

1. Our children receive an allowance, and while it's not tied specifically to chores, there is the understanding that being a member of this family means helping where you can and when you're asked.

2. We allow the kids to decide how much to spend, save and give (and it's their responsibility to keep track of their allowance), but recently we've asked them to make some thoughtful decisions about this system ... especially in regards to giving.

3. Bookworm does lawn work and pet sitting for relatives and neighbors. Crackerjack does weeding for my dad and earns a tidy sum for himself each week. (My dad insists on paying the boys even though I insist he not, lol.)

KG leafy branch 2

And here is the breakdown of our kids' chores. We don't post a checklist - for the most part, they just know what they're expected to do - although, reminders are certainly helpful!


Bookworm (17):

keep room/bed neat

take care of his stuff (clutter)

help with end-of-day neatening

refresh cats' water

brush cats

play with cats

fill birdfeeders

empty dishwasher

put out trash & recycling

help Dad with lawn (mowing, raking, etc.)

help Dad with snow shoveling

clear dishes

bring in groceries

cook some smaller meals for himself (bagels, sandwiches, salads, reheating)

vacuum (on occasion)

assist with carpentry and household repairs

keep track of library bag

babysit (on occasion)

Crackerjack (13 next week):

keep room/bed neat

take care of his stuff (clutter)

help with end-of-day neatening

fill cats' dry food dish

brush cats

play with cats

help fill birdfeeders

empty dishwasher

some food prep (getting his own toast/cereal/fruit/sandwiches/snacks)

put out trash & recycling

help with lawn care (weeding, raking, mulch, etc.)

help with snow removal (cleaning off cars)

clear dishes

bring in groceries

vacuum (on occasion)

Earlybird (10, special needs)

make his bed/help keep his room neat

water plants

help with garden

help with birdfeeders

neaten toys and clutter

help clear dishes

help with some cooking

help with compost

help with dusting, sweeping

help wash/dry laundry


Currently, I'm trying to work on a better sense of budgeting so that my boys understand that it's important to be thoughtful with our money. I'm even considering going to a cash budget for a time so we can all see just where and how quickly the weekly monies go. It's so easy to whip out a card at the cash register but if you've gone over budget it's not as readily apparent ...

Bottom line ~ money is not something to be taken for granted, and being smart about how we spend means we can save - and give - more. And our responsibility extends beyond a simple list of chores ... it means being careful with, and grateful for, all that we have.

Well, my friends, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. I know it tends to be a hot topic! But as always, I thank you for stopping by and wish you a good day ...

See you here again very soon!