January 31, 2012

Getting Organized: Deep Cleaning

This month I’m really feeling the need to declutter and get organized.  Cleaning is part of that, and since no one wants to see posts about my *actual* cleaning efforts (uh, or do you?) I figured I’d just set out my new “deep cleaning” plan for the year. 

Back in the days when I waited tables, I saw a deep cleaning system that worked really well.  In fact, it worked so well, I’m going to start using it in our house.  And the fact that deep cleaning in my house won’t involve finding surprise wads of gum stuck under tables or other gritty goodies left by random strangers (I hope?), it should be a roaring success.

And to make things just a *tad* more interesting, Avery will help me share the details of said “plan”!


So here’s how it worked:  each week, a handful of tasks from the deep cleaning list would be assigned to every waiter and cook.  We each had a week to complete them.

For example, one week my deep cleaning assignment might’ve been to pull up booth cushions to clean the cushions and the floor underneath.  Grody?  Um, only in a “dried-booger-or-a-smashed-pea?” kind of way.  So yeah, not at all.


(“Gross, Mommy.”)

The cooks had jobs like deep cleaning the range hoods or pulling out appliances to clean under and behind them etc.

You get the picture.

So the plan is to figure out my own “deep cleaning” system.  I’ll feel better knowing the kitchen cabinets have been wiped out at least once in the last year (boo yah!)

First I need a list of deep cleaning tasks. Then depending on how many chores there are and how often they should get done, I’ll figure out the schedule.

So here goes nothin’:

1. Wipe the rogue food particles and wayward lint off kitchen cabinet fronts and tops.

2.  Wipe out lower cabinets and run any dusty items through the dishwasher before replacing them.  Wiping the dust off a serving dish when a guest is standing in the kitchen chatting is just not very Emily Post.  Not that I’m trying hard to be Emily Post…I just don’t want to gross my guests out.

3.  Same as #2 but for the upper cabinets.

4.  Clean inside of microwave and fridge.  PARTAY!

5.  Clean inside of oven and burner trays (yuck).  Someday I’ll have a self cleaning oven and a flat top stove….but until then….ugh.

6.  Vacuum and wipe down baseboards.  Ever gotten down and looked closely at your baseboards?  Try it. (mwahaha)

7.  Vacuum/dust vent covers, bathroom fans, ceiling fans. 

8. Vacuum and wipe downstairs blinds (ugh – hate this job.)

9.  Clean insides of downstairs windows and doors.

10. Clean insides of upstairs windows, vacuum and wipe upstairs blinds.  How are blinds so constantly dirty?!

11.  Clean screens and outsides of windows.  Got some new stuff for cleaning windows in my stocking this past Christmas (because I’m SUPER exciting like that) that I’m eager to try out.  I’ll letcha know how that goes.

12.  Sweep and vacuum basement floor and stairs, paying particular attention to any 8-legged inhabitants.


So the list is a little long, and maybe I’m in the minority for not already doing this stuff on a regular basis.  But hey, we have to start somewhere, right?

There are 12 items, so I think the best place to start is to aim for getting one done per month.  That’s doable…I think.

In December, when I’m scrambling to get all this stuff done because we have people coming over….I’ll let you know Smile

Anyone have any good systems for getting all these extra cleaning chores done?


January 26, 2012

Getting Organized: Decluttering!

As I mentioned the other day, I’m dedicating the rest of January to decluttering, cleaning, and otherwise starting the process of getting organized.  February will be “Closets Month” so I’ll tackle the organization part later.


A reader brought up a great point in a comment though….where do you start? 

Yeah.  Yuck.  Where DO you start? 

I always start with the question “Keep or toss?”  I’ll pull stuff out of all the usual hiding places.  Then I’ll decide what to keep or toss and group what’s left into categories like décor, cleaning, food/kitchen, office, etc so it can be organized into the right area of the house and not be spread out over multiple closets, etc.

There are three major areas I want to make sure I tackle: décor stuff, electronics, and clothes.

Décor Stuff

Décor items are a pretty big clutter culprit in my house, and they tend to be stored in the weirdest places.  I need to bring all the décor together and figure out what to keep.  If an item is recyclable (like a glass vase from an old arrangement) I throw it in the recycle bin to make the Goodwill load a little lighter.  It gets recycled either way.  Here’s the beginning of the pile-o-clutter:


Electronics (aka E-Junk)

E-junk makes up a pretty decent amount of our clutter, too.  The guilt associated with throwing out a piece of high-tech plastic means we have a small pile going at any given time.  

What to do with old electronics?

As far as I know, there are a few options for what to do with old electronics: 

1)  Sell it to a recycling company online.  Gazelle.com and buymytronics.com are both places I’ve tried out.  Just find your item in their huge database and they’ll tell you if they want it and how much they’ll pay.  They’ll also recycle your items for you if you want to pay the shipping to send the stuff in.  Ipods, computer equipment, cameras, cell phones….you name it….they might take it.

2) Put it out on Craigslist or Freecycle, but don’t expect much (if anything) if the websites wouldn’t take it. 

3) Recycle it.  Our city recycling center takes old electronics, computers, TVs etc for free or for a small fee.  We recycled a huge load of electronics last summer and our fee for all of it (which only applied to a couple things) was $6.  $6 to recycle electronics rather than throw them in the landfill is fine by me! 


Easy way to sort clothes for donation

Last year I turned all my clothes hangers around backwards on the rod.  As I wore an item, I’d hang it back up the normal way.  Anything still hanging backwards now (a year later!) is going to consignment or charity.  If I haven’t worn it in a year, it can go. 

I also realized recently that I have several items still in my closet from high school.  They’re in good shape….but it’s time to graduate already!  Remember the Old Navy fleece “tech vests”?  I think that was circa 7th grade for me…..and HERE IT IS!


I’ve kept it because a fleece vest is a good basic to have around…but the truth is I can’t remember the last time I actually wore it.

I also have a habit of never getting rid of threadbare or holey socks.  It’s just too easy to take them off at night and throw them in the hamper before you remember how holey they are.  But it does get a little embarrassing when we’re hanging out with company and I realize the bottoms of my socks are threadbare.  I can afford to buy new socks, I promise.

So I moved all my socks to another drawer.  Every day I choose a pair from that drawer (even if it means wearing Halloween socks in January like I’m NOT doing today….Happy Halloween!), and at the end of the day, if one or both socks is holey or threadbare, they go in the trash.  If not, they go in the hamper to be eventually put away back in the sock drawer.  I’ve sorted out a ton of nasty old socks that way.

Other random areas where I found stuff to get rid of:

  • Plastic food storage containers:  Do you have the same amount of lids and containers?  I didn’t.  I had a BUNCH of extra lids that went in the recycling bin.
  • Cleaning supplies:  An old bottle of “no scratch” cat spray that hadn’t been used in at LEAST 5 years…  extra ratty sponges from the cleaning kit... a flimsy sweater drying rack that collapses with wet sweaters on it…  all gone, along with a bunch of other junk.

It seems like small stuff, but it really piles up.  As I organize closets in the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll find more junk.  But for now, I’m making good progress toward Step 2:  Organization!

I’m already getting excited for organizing…the ideas are building!


January 23, 2012

2011 Roundup: Top Five Posts

Happy 2012!  For those of you who are new to BurbTales, here’s a round up of the top 5 posts from 2011. 

1.  Master Bath Renovation

First, we kicked the year off with a master bathroom renovation, and apparently, a lot of master baths are in need of similar upgrades, because those posts have been very popular this year. 

We learned how to demolition and install tile, but we hired out the framing, drywall and plumbing to the pros.  Some of my favorite elements of our new bathroom are the wood grain tile floors, the “quoin” pattern in the shower tiles, and our custom-made knotty alder vanity (believe it or not, going the custom route was cheaper than what we found at Home Depot!)

Master Bath B&A

2.  Cloffice

The next most popular post was about our “Cloffice” (closet-turned-office).  The Cloffice was an invention of necessity because we needed to move both our desks out of the old office and into the guest room, so we could turn the office into a nursery.  Because our (haaa-uge) guest room is a whopping 9x9 feet (snort!), two desks and a double bed weren’t going to fit in the conventional sense.  Instead, we got creative with the closet.


3.  Black, White, & Teal Nursery

Another popular post was our black, white, and teal nursery. We thought a black, white and teal color scheme was fun, bright, and neutral enough for a baby boy or girl.  We added black crown molding, a black chair rail, and did two-tone walls with one big teal accent wall.  Then I threw in a bit of lime and decided to add some plum as another accent color if our baby turned out to be a girl (and SHE did!  Check out this post about the plum nursery details to see what I’ve done since the reveal.) 

BWTeal Nursery

4.  PB Knock-Off Wall Art

The number four most popular post was all about the DIY Pottery Barn knock-off wall art I made for the new master bathroom.  This was a seriously inexpensive project.  I don’t know about you, but coming up with bathroom wall décor is kind of tough!  These fit the bill and best of all, they were inexpensive enough that I won’t feel bad when I get sick of them and switch them out.


5.  DIY Magnetic Corkboard

The fifth most popular post was actually one posted in December, right before Christmas.  I was getting fed up with the junk on our fridge and came up with a little organization solution with thumb tacks, magnetic clips, and a corkboard on the inside of a cabinet door.  Voila!  A magnetic corkboard.

Magnetic Corkboard

January 20, 2012

A Few New Nursery Additions

Fabric flower for nursery

Now that our munchkin is here, the nursery’s changed a little bit. 


I mean in addition to the cute little baby who now takes up residence there.  Awww.  The cheeks…..cannot….resist…the cheeks!

Ok.  Anyway!

We’ve gotten some wonderful gifts which have spruced the place up, plus if you’ve been following my posts about the little projects I’ve done in there since the “reveal,” you’ve already guessed that it doesn’t look exactly the way I showed you when she was still baking.

You’ve already seen the hamper liner made from an old curtain panel…

Nursery hamper liner from a curtain

And the black thumb tacks replacing the clear push pins on the flag pennants(yeah, HUGE project there, but you know the devil is in the details) …

DIY colored thumbtacks

I also added a bird decal to the end of the flag pennants.  It’s cuter to have a bird holding the end of the pennants than to just have them ‘blowing in the wind’, no?  (Anyone else having flashbacks to the dress-sewing scene in the Disney Cinderella movie?)

Flag pennants with bird

Next, the wall over the changing table has been improved by the addition of a panel of four cross-stitched “clown fish” made for Avery by a good family friend.  She’s such a happy baby when she’s on the changing table, and part of it is because she LOVES to stare at these fish.  They’re just so colorful, and with that black and white border, how could a baby resist?

Cross stitched clown fish

…and I solved the problem of the cat “camping out” under the crib with a makeshift rigid “crib skirt” made out of – WAIT for it….. – WAIT for it….cardboard.  And duct tape.  And fabric scraps sewn together.  It was a totally free project, and it works great! 

DIY rigid crib skirt

While we’re on the topic of fabric scraps, I used what was left of the crib skirt / hamper liner fabrics to make some rolled fabric flowers.  I’ve seen these all over blog-land and they are perfect little additions to Avery’s nursery tree to make it a little more girly.  Even though some might say it was girly to begin with…I thought it could use a little extra somethin’ for our baby girl.

Rolled fabric flowers

Fabric flowers on tree

Next, Avery’s grandpa (“Papa”) made this amazing stained glass!  Notice how Mickey’s clothes match the nursery colors? 


I’ll keep adding little plum touches here and there (I have a pillow in mind for the glider), but for now, I (still) love the nursery, and it’s (still) my favorite place to hang out with the baby.

Teal nursery with tree

Teal nursery with tree and fabric flowers

Thanks for stopping by! 


Linked up to: Fireflies & Jellybeans, House of Hepworths

January 17, 2012

January 2012: Project Line Up

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog lately and how I want to go about my projects this year.  I can’t get as much done now that I have a baby here, but I still have ideas, and there are still those nagging little things that I see around the house and need to make time for (like the door hinge that’s been held in place with a screwdriver for over a year…?)


Then there are the “wild hair” ideas I really want to try, like concocting some “built-ins” for the master bedroom, or building a rolling potting bench/workbench.  Actually, these probably won’t be attempted until Avery is a little older.  But you never know.

I think the best way to go about the projects I know I can reasonably get done, generally speaking of course – because I love being able to start a project on a whim – is to focus on one concept at a time and then pepper in some fun extras as I go along. 

Here’s my plan for the first half of the year:

  • January:  Decluttering and cleaning
  • February:  Closets!
  • March: Kitchen projects – wall art and lighting in particular!
  • April: Dining room moldings and wall art.  Hopefully also master bedroom moldings as well, since the tools will be out!
  • May: Curb appeal. Being 9 months preggo at prime yard cleanup time last fall meant that *nothing* got done.  Our yard is a HOT MESS! (It’s bad enough that my mom even offered to yank out the dead plants from the porch planters not too long ago.)  It’s also now full of blown-in trash and TP from the neighbors getting TP’d a few weeks ago.  Yay.
  • June: Refinish the buffet hutch.  I’m giving myself a whole month for this one because it’s a big job and who knows how much time I’ll actually get to work on it each night.

These will probably overlap a bit, but in general, I’m going to try to stick to this plan. 

We’ll see how it goes!

In the meantime, I have some updates to the nursery to show you, including a pretty nifty DIY “crib skirt”, some other plum accents (yeah I keep yabbering about the plum stuff), a new gallery wall in our staircase, some other changes in wall art here and there (like, finally hanging some up!) and of course, I’ve got to get to that cleaning and decluttering stuff in the remaining weeks of January.

Oh yeah, and our baby girl is almost 3 months old and smiling away like the adorable little fiend she is!  So, I’ll just leave you with one of her famous first-thing-in-the-morning gummy smiles:



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