Morning Prayers

We have so much FREEDOM in Christ that we are often very lax in our prayers.  When I see the rigidity of other religions I am reminded of two things:

1) We are FREE in Christ - free to worship at any time, anywhere (not to mention freedom from our sins); and  2) We sometimes abuse this freedom.

We end up not praying regularly or with solemnity, or deeply.  We can jot off a "Help me, Lord" in the car, or in the bathroom.  Other religions may find such familiarity disrespectful.

But since we are FREE in Christ to pray anywhere - and prayer in secret is encouraged - we often forget to bow down before our Lord!  We forget the power of praying ALOUD to our Father.

I know that 60 years ago it was still common for a mother and child to kneel in prayer at bedtime.  What happened?

My New Year's Resolution is more intimate, respectful, worshipful prayer, first thing in the morning, out loud.

This year, we can all set the example for our children by bowing down before God, and standing up and raising our hands to Him, in our home, in the morning, not in a haphazard manner, but with real respect and awe, like the prophets of old.

To help get our lives in order, and get our priorities straight, prayer should be the first thing we do every morning.  Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God..... May God bless you in this New Year!


How to Wake-Up 45 Minutes Earlier

Arthur Sarnoff
It is important to change your body’s rhythms – that will take at least one week.  The KEY is that you are changing your NIGHT rhythm while actively changing your MORNING wake-up rhythm. 

If you go to bed at midnight or later, your body gets less deep rest.  Every hour you are in bed before midnight is like TWO hours after midnight to your body. 

In order to change your rhythm you must know your natural rhythm – how many hours does your body WANT each night – without using an alarm clock to get up, and without forcing yourself to bed at a certain hour?  Mine is 9 hours.  When I worked, I never got 9 hours, so I always had to make up for it on the weekends, which totally ruined most weekends.  My husband also needs 9 hours.  Many people only need 8, or even 7.  Some need 10 or even 11!  You must know this before you can correctly and successfully set your internal alarm clock.

You know you have successfully changed your clock when, after even a bad night’s sleep, you wake up at the correct time (before the alarm), and WANT to go to bed at the correct new time.

It doesn’t work to say, “I think I’ll get up at 7:30 and bed at 10:30” and just begin doing it.  Your body revolts…it won’t let you fall asleep early, and you’ll be cranky upon arising.

I have successfully changed my rhythms over the past 10 years to allow for changes in schedule, without turning into a grouch.  Recently I changed from my DH’s schedule of midnight to 9:00 am, to 11:15 pm-8:15 am, and then again to 10:30 pm-7:30 am.

Here’s how!  I credit Rhonda Britton with first telling me I could change my life 5 minutes at a time.

Day 1:  Set alarm 15 minutes earlier.  This gives you the jumpstart you want.
Day 2-7:  Set alarm only 5 minutes earlier each day.

I know it's not really what you want to hear, but this way works. If you do the full 45 minutes, or even 10 minutes, your body will lapse back to your original time on weekends, which will then keep you up later at night, and then Monday morning you will be LATE!   

Five minute increments work like a charm because it is gradual and your body wants to beat the alarm clock up by 1 minute or so.

Think back to how difficult it is to change your (and your children’s) internal clocks to adjust to Daylight Savings Time.  You grouch for at least a week - until you have reset.  Reset gradually one week before DST and you and your little ones won't grouch.  Promise!

45 minutes is a reasonable change.  The best scenario, if you need to wake up even earlier than 45 minutes, is to keep this new time for several weeks.  You know you are successful when you are yawning at your new bed time, and are awakening before your alarm clock.  Then you begin the process again.

I would love to be one of those people who arise early…but realistically, I can only get to bed as early as 10:30 pm.  To set my goal earlier would result in many failures.  I need 9 hours most nights, so most days I realistically will not be up before 7:30 am.  I’ve just had to adjust to these facts!

If you are the exception then you don't need to be reading about how to wake up 45 minutes earlier - you just magically jump out of bed, happy and smiling, and can change your schedule on a whim.  But that isn't MOST of us!

Good luck and be patient as you change your life 5 minutes at a time!


Happy Organizing

Arthur Sarnoff 1955
Rule #4: Nothing on the Floor No More! ...Once you have a firm grip on the fact that a floor is not a big shelf at your feet, you can begin to clear the space…  from page 23 of The Beverly Hills Organizer’s Home Organizing Bible by Linda Koopersmith 

Murphy’s Law means my neighbors only come to visit when my house is a mess.  No one drops by when it is sparkling.  Therefore, we now e-mail each other when our house looks especially good.  We pop over and ooh and ahh and laugh and compare notes.  We all have had hoarding tendencies and paper problems, and we all love FlyLady. 

Keeping house is not about perfection or having model homes.  It’s about living and doing our best, without stressing over the small things.  But when those small things cause major problems, it is time to dig in and find new ways to solve the nagging little problems that cause continual frustration.  We need to constantly implement them, because we so easily slip back into old ways.

Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your LifeThat’s where Julia Morgenstern helped me.  I listened to her audio tape on Organizing from the Inside Out and did the steps.  I highly recommend her book or tape (she even has a DVD now, but I haven't watched it).  On graph paper, I quickly outlined my rooms.  I wrote down what the room holds, the activities it supports, the supplies it has, and storage available.  Then I was able to assess what worked, and what didn’t. 

She asks a series of questions that I answered in writing, and then, with my goals in mind, I was able to 1) determine how to change what didn’t work, 2) if things were stored in the proper room, 3) what needed to be decluttered, and 4) how to organize what was left.

My goals were:  A clutter-free home (although clutter goes and comes in again); a relaxing, comfortable place we want to spend time in, a place to read, write, do genealogy, scrapbooking and homeschooling. 

What I expected to achieve when I decluttered and got organized:  Enjoyment of my environment, gaining both energy and calm from our space.

Issues at the heart of my organizing challenge:
 1.     Entry: dumping ground; magazines and mail don’t have homes (Solved – two pretty bins on kitchen desk)
2.     Front room: bookcase cluttered.  Need open spaces.  Husband needs his own space for his items.  (Solved – only books in the bookcase – looks cleaner.  Lined books to the edge, like I noticed they did in a visually appealing library I visited.  Rearranged the furniture to show more blank wall space; removed coffee table; bought DH his own beautiful wooden floor holders for magazines and papers. Created a shelf in the bookcase just for his books.)
3.     Dining: Need places for bills, genealogies, pictures, recipes, baby info, menus, home fliers, warranties and repair paperwork. (Solved – a pretty bin on kitchen desk for bills, moved everything else into the front room walk-in closet in its own see-through plastic bins.  Put recipes into a photo album. Put menus and warranties into their own binders.)
4.     Linen closet: Too many things, and it’s unpainted and ugly.  (Decluttered, but still need to paint)
5.     Junk room:  Too many papers and unused stuff (Ugh.  Still there.)
6.     Bedroom: Papers and blankets need homes.  Need shelf sorters and risers.  Need more drawers.  (Solved – papers put in room they need to be used in, bought the sorters & risers at Big Lots, used plastic zip bags for blanket storage; used suitcases for off-season clothes; put more clothes on shelves instead of buying drawers.)
7.     Bathroom: Floor needs cleaning, door painted, more storage. (Solved – Hooks over shower doors for towels, gathered items into small plastic shoeboxes for in-cabinet storage, removed rarely used items to linen closet.)

Needed:  A drop-off table when coming home, instead of using the couch or the kitchen table.

·       I also went through and put one or two trash cans in each room of the house.  I put them and other items where I use them. 
·       I designated a huge basket at the bottom of my entry way closet as “the give-away closet.”  The second we have an item to give away, in it goes.  I drop items off once a month.

The House That Cleans Itself: Creative Solutions for a Clean and Orderly House in Less Time Than You Can ImagineI was excited to get the book The House That Cleans Itself because she was going to give me more ideas than what I thought of doing on my own.  This should have been a great book.  Her premise is to rearrange your house to suit your needs.  Right before I read this book I did this for my house and it works.  Well, the book was fun and motivating, but it ultimately failed me because she only gave one example – her entryway (big deal!).  If she had detailed each room I could have borrowed some great ideas, I’m sure.  What insights did she have?  What changes did she make?  A fun read, but disappointing.  If you’ve never thought about rearranging your house to suit you, you may get something out of it though.  I probably would have liked the book more if it had come out the year before I thought of doing her suggestions on my own! 

The Beverly Hills Organizer's Home Organizing Bible: A Pro's Answers to Your Organizing PrayersNow, next to Julia Morgenstern, the lady that helped me most through her books is The Beverly Hills Organizer, Linda Koopersmith. Her book Home Organizing Bible is so good I paid full-price for it at the bookstore.   It has plenty of pictures and ideas.  I love to read organizing books, and I’ve yet to find one better.  The thing I liked BEST about her book is she showed me HOW TO USE all the organizers on the market!  I realized that for about $300 I could totally organize every room in my house!  Now, I didn’t have $300, so I went to Big Lots instead and bought what I could there.  Her rule:  Measure First, Shop Second.  I put on paper what I wanted to do. 

I bought risers for my canned food, a shelf for my freezer, shelves for under the sink and in bedroom closets, shelf dividers so my husband’s jeans didn’t fall into his folded shorts, 4-shelf shoe racks, put shelves up in my front-room closet, bought plastic drawers for the closet, wicker baskets for homeschooling books that sit out, shelves for videos, small wire holders for Ziploc bags and wax paper that could be attached to my pantry door, a caddy for our remotes in the front room, a bakeware rack to keep my casserole dishes on their sides and easy to grab instead of stacking, a rack for my pot lids, and more.  I also made drawer dividers using cardboard lids covered with contact paper.

Because she explained HOW to use these items, and had a picture of them, with a picture glossary also at the end of the book, I was readily able to implement.  I compared prices online but didn’t buy.  I went to Big Lots, Home Goods, and The Container Store with my price list.  My budget was $100.  I bought all of the above.  I didn’t get everything she suggested in her book that sounded great due to my limited budget, but the changes I implemented made a HUGE difference! I highly recommend her book.

Happy Organizing!

Janine  www.keeping-house.blogpot.com


Finding My Way Home

Photo by bridgetroll
Finding Your Way Home by Lucynda Koesters is the most complete book I own on figuring out how you can stay home with your child, and I bought every book I could find on the subject.  Many are good, but this is the best.

Part I includes 10 compelling reasons, in full chapter detail, on why someone would want to stay home. She discusses the needs of infants, toddlers, grade schoolers & teens. She discusses mental and physcial health, your marriage, family life, and having no regrets.

Part II discusses your options, your finances (which is excellent), contingency plans, your new life, the Porch Swing Test, and even creating an action plan (very useful).

Part III discusses how to be successful at home. Daily schedules, managing your children and your house, staying motivated, creating a safe haven, weekly routines, and being at home.   There is also an addendum for single parents and how they can come home too!

I wrote to the author in early 2005 after reading an article she had written in Stretcher.com.  I was only 8 weeks pregnant and making more than double what my husband made, because he wasn’t working full-time. 

I detail our conversation and the advice she gave me about how to bring our grocery bill into alignment with our soon to be greatly diminished income in my book How to Thrive on One Income.


What Time is Dinner?

What time do you plan on eating dinner?  Most organized women begin dinner preparations at 4:30 p.m. OR, preferably, before breakfast!  Early risers lay out all the nonperishable ingredients and dishes, and do preparation such as chopping celery and grating cheese.  Shocking, but true! 


I'm not an early riser, so in the beginning 4:30 p.m. was always my starting time, unless I was using a crock pot, in which case preparation must be done in the morning, and at 2:45 p.m. if using a bread maker.  You must begin at 4:00 p.m. if you need to clean up your kitchen beforehand.


If you plan to eat at 6:00 p.m., then 4:30 is your LATEST starting time!

Have a child set the table.  Check his or her work.  Make sure you have taught them properly, and remember to SMILE and praise them!  No criticizing!  Ask your children to come up with a centerpiece.  Keep a Bible handy to read a passage right after dinner.  Use themes whenever possible, esp. to tie into a Bible story.  Get a manners book and practice.  Tell them WHY we use manners, and that we are showing consideration for others.


I once heard a French woman say that American women get fat because they eat bland food standing up.  French women take pride in what they cook, and serve it as though at a fancy restaurant, even if she doesn't own good china.  Even if it is just for YOU at lunch, set the table!  It seems silly, but it works and helps keep off the weight.  My lunch at the table helps me savor the moment of being home with my child in my cozy home.


If your DH gets home much later than when you need to eat, set his place and when he comes home warm up his food if at all possible, instead of throwing it into the microwave and him eating in front of the computer or tv. 


It took us YEARS to accomplish a nice evening dinner routine, even though it is such a simple thing.  My child and I eat at 6:00 p.m. or earlier, as daddy doesn't come home until after 7:30 p.m. 


My Dear Husband shared that he really liked it when I remembered to turn on the porch light.  It made him feel welcomed.  He also liked it when the table was clear and inviting – which was rare for the first 5 years of our marriage.  Since I do not cook meat, we decided that whatever I made would be his appetizer – if he liked it.  That would take the edge off his hunger and he'd get his nutrition.  Then he was free to make his meat, etc.


It was a very difficult process, as our tastes in food are complete opposites.  I like any type of pasta except spaghetti.  He only likes spaghetti.  I like sweet sauces; he likes spicy.  I eat vege-burgers; he eats meat.  I like raw veges; he likes cooked.  We couldn't even agree on our mustard and mayonnaise.   I like my food piping hot; he likes his room temperature.  I like to eat and move on; he likes to linger and take hours, esp. when surfing the net or watching a movie.  Sometimes he'd take so long the cat would finish his meal for him!  I get up in the morning and eat first thing.  He eats hours later.  When I'm making an early lunch, he is eating breakfast.  When I'm beginning to make dinner, he's just finishing his lunch.  He is definitely on his own schedule!  We eventually worked it out, but it took a long time.


A word about Nutrition

Eat For Health: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2 book set)In "Snowbound with Betsy," each morning mom poured orange juice from the squeezer into everyone's glass!  Now, I have an orange tree and I've only done this a few times.  But it is an inspiration.  However, even if you use "fresh-squeezed" o.j. from your grocery store, the point is that you have personally looked into what juice is best served to your family, and that it is available for you and your family every morning.  This is what normal used to be.  This is our goal.  


Based on what you read about nutrition for your family, YOU need to decide what comes in from the grocery store and goes into your child's growing body.  I recommend "Disease Proof Your Child," "Eat for Health", and "Eat to Live," all by Joel Furhman, M.D., if you don't know where to start. 


Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids RightWhat YOU feed your children NOW will determine if they have a long and healthy life or a shortened and sick one.  It really is YOUR responsibility.  YOU are accountable.  It IS that important.  (I am preaching to myself, too!) 


Not only does what you feed your children now affect how often they will be sick as children – catching colds from other children at the playground, classes, or schools – but it affects their ENTIRE life span – if they will develop asthma, diseases, cancer, etc.


It is a MYTH that children need to get sick as children in order to build their immune system. (I am not talking about eliminating germs.)  If it were true, then school teachers would be immune from their students' colds and flus.  However, since most school teachers eat about as well as their students, they also get sick as often. If the myth were true, then the school teacher would no longer get sick. (The funny thing is I often hear teachers brag that they no longer get sick – yet every time we see them they have a cold.) Proper nutrition helps make a difference.  A teacher that eats plenty of fruits and veges won't get sick as often.  It is the same with children.  However, if your child isn't eating as well as he needs to be, and he is around other nutritionally-deprived children, he will probably get sick, thus causing weariness for the entire family.  

The person who decides what shall be the food and drinks of a family, and the modes of its preparation, is the one who decides, to a greater or less extent, what shall be the health of that family.  ~Catherine Beecham and H.B. Stowe 1869


Better Grocery Shopping

We cut 60% from our grocery and eating out budget when I quit working. 

photo credit

Sorry! This post was so outdated that I removed it.  An updated and greatly expanded version appears in my book How to Thrive on One Income.    


A Word Study of Titus 2:3-5

1951 Arthur Sarnoff
The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children; to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

These are not suggestions; they are God’s will for us!

To be Sober:  To be moderate, self-controlled, humble, well-balanced, steady, calm, cool, collected, quiet, thoughtful, serious, earnest, sincere, use common sense,  to do one’s duty, to simplify, and to learn to make wise decisions and judgments.

To Love Their Husbands: Be sexy for your husband!  Love on him physically and provide a place he wants to come home to.  Meet his physical and material needs in the home.

To Love Their Children:  Seems like an easy one, but I hate it when I hear mom’s bagging on their teens.  Or telling others they can’t wait for them to get back to school.  How sad is that?  I’m so thankful my mom didn’t treat me that way – she wanted us at home!  Hold your little one’s hand – train him – don’t let him get away with throwing off your hand.  It is secure for him when you hold it.   They do need to be trained when they are a toddler, though, and you will reap the benefits for years!   Smile, smile, smile!  Many times each day look into their eyes and smile.  Play games in between chores.  Teach them the why of things, not just to do it. 

To Be Discreet:  Sensible.  To show discernment (quick and accurate detection) or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech!  Prudent (or even prudently silent!).  Wise in avoiding error.  Wise in selecting the best means to accomplish a purpose.  Circumspect.  Courteous.  Polite.  Honest dealings.  Considerate.  Careful.  Thoughtful.  Discerning.  Well-advised.  Cautious.  Highly sensible.  Has foresight.  Foresight implies prudent care for the future.  Prudent means capable of conducting oneself wisely and judiciously.  Judicious means directed or governed by sound judgment; wise. 

Chaste:  Pure.  Virtuous.  Decent in behavior and character.  Pure in thought, word, and act.  Modest, decent, respectable and honorable in all things.  Worthy of respect.  Pure – without taint; innocent, especially of unlawful intercourse.  Undefiled. 

Keepers at Home:  Keeper - One who watches, guards and maintains.  Being on guard, watching, caretaker.  Home – Seat of domestic life.  The vital center or seat.  Abode of one’s family.  One’s abode after death.  The abiding place of domestic affections.  Keeping the home is more than just staying at home – it is having a heart that is fixed upon our homes and family.  Sanctuary of peace, love, and order.

Good:  Genuine, joyful, virtuous, valuable, competent, ready, kind, benevolent, merciful, hardworking, agreeable, pleasant, congenial, honorable, faithful, gracious, wise, friendly, well-behaved, proper, becoming, honest, sincere, pious, devout, untainted.  Virtuous – pure, of moral excellence, chaste.  Benevolent – promoting the prosperity and happiness of others, kind, charitable, and generous.  Pious – dutiful and loyal to parents and family, devotion to God, not profane or secular.

Obedient to Their OWN Husbands – Respectful.  Yielding, willing and eager to accomplish injunctions or desires, abstaining from that which is forbidden.  Attentive.  Dutiful – a sense of duty prevails; heedful of the comfort of others, courteous.  Yield – to give precedence to another.  A lot of women are obedient, yielding, attentive and respectful to their male bosses and pastors, but what about their husbands?

Collecting these definitions has been quite an eye-opener!  I urge you to do your own Word study.  It is much more meaningful when you WRITE these definitions down yourself. 

I used a dictionary from the 1940’s and found that the words were much more descriptive than my most current dictionary.  I also incorporated definitions from Debi Pearl’s “Created to Be His Help Meet.” 


Keepers at Home - A Sacred Responsibility?

I knew that God had called young women to be “Keepers at Home” (Titus 2:5), but someone recently pointed out to me that raising my son at home is a “sacred responsibility.”  God has given me a sacred responsibility!  Am I living up to it?  Am I doing what God requires of me?  Am I wasting money?  Wasting the hours of my life?  Wasting the hours of my son’s life?  Am I content?  Fearful?

In the past I have been very unhappy with our home.  It just wasn’t what I had in mind.  Slowly, through prayer and hard work, I have accepted the house and have been making it more ours.  There were so many little detail things I could have done to make it nicer, and I am finally accomplishing them.  My heart is now fixed on my home.

I have always wanted to “keep house,” but not moving into an empty or clean home when we married really put me off balance.  I felt I was failing miserably, first because I worked and didn’t have the time, and then when I came home the baby took all my time.  After much elbow grease and decluttering, the house is finally coming together, and now I am really reveling in being at home.

When I get fearful, looking ahead to bills that will need to be paid, I wonder how in the world we will ever make ends meet.  But then I remind myself that I have been saying this for more than five years now, and something always comes our way…refunds, unexpected gifts, or just skimping and saving on necessities.  (This week I learned that I can save on electrical rates by having my washing/drying and dishwashing finished before noon!)

But most important of all, when I get fearful and wonder if I will be compelled back into the workforce, I remember that it was God Himself who called me to stay home and take care of my son, my husband, myself, and our home.  He is the one who said I am to be a “Keeper at Home.”  I have not called myself home.  HE wants me home, and it isn’t a suggestion either, it is His will! 

I’ve given up trying to buy happiness, after realizing that most of my purchases became clutter and didn’t live up to their happy-factor. 

I’ve realized that matching china dishes on holidays do not matter…but using our prettiest glasses every day, and treating my family like company, does. 

I’m giving away more, and trying to get less. 

I don’t go shopping looking for what I might be missing, or for pretty items to camouflage a dirty house. Instead, I’m deep cleaning and purging “what if” items. 

I’m also no longer reading to find the perfect answer to my problems (I found it! It was a book called “Fascinating Womanhood”!); now I just read for pleasure and to better myself, after my work is done.

Housework is just the daily duties that must be done to have life run smoothly.  Some days are going to require deep cleaning, and some are just going to require basic chores.  Some days all the work will get done, on other days it will be a little bit messy. 

When I have laundry to do it is done with a good attitude, not with a scowl.  Instead of lamenting that my washer and dryer are in the garage, I notice that I can hear the birds, watch a few butterflies, and see the clouds through the trees on my way to the garage.  I can even fold some laundry outdoors while my son plays.  It is very peaceful. 

And most of all, I am being a Keeper at Home, the one who watches, guards and maintains our home…the vital center of our life…the abiding place of our domestic affections.  I want our home to be a sanctuary of love, peace, and order. 


Organization and Doing Hard Things First

I have always wanted to be “at home” and so I am reveling in it.  I thoroughly enjoy each day.  I know I have taken excellent care of our son, and myself….but my husband and our home?  Well, I had wimped out.  It “wasn’t my fault” I came into a dirty, cluttered up house.

I have always wanted to care for my home, and did just fine before I married my husband.  I enjoyed cleaning, laundry, and decorating to a degree.  I’d get up early and bake muffins and light candles and dream about the future.  After I got married and real-life hit, I wasn’t quite so good as I thought I would be about being a homemaker.  It was easy to just pick up after me, but do HIS laundry?  Clean up his kitchen messes?  I certainly was not his slave, and I was feeling like a martyr. 

Once I “came home” I first adjusted my attitude, realizing that while I finally had my dream of being home, my husband still had to go off to work.  (He still has to arise every day to meet a deadline, he can’t nap after spending two hours at the park, he is limited to eating what he can bring to work or by how much cash is in his wallet, he has to drive to and fro, he can’t pick and choose activities and appointments and the time to meet.)

Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your LifeI realized that picking up after him wasn’t that big a deal, as long as he wasn’t purposefully being difficult (he wasn't).  Then I tried to meet him where he was, by trying out laundry baskets in strategic dropping places.  (Update - he always uses baskets now!)

I gave a lot away, and I assigned homeless objects to permanent places.  I sat down and began planning my rooms and their functions, and thought out and implemented ways to make our home run better and look nicer, like putting all our cell, video, etc. cords into baggies inside a pretty wooden bread box under the outlet we charge them in.

I used Julia Morgenstern’s Organizing From the Inside Out to help me – and DID the steps.  It was difficult to take time out from stashing my clutter to plan, but the plans I put into place after completing her steps ON PAPER are still working today, several years later.  When you consciously prepare and plan to take care of life, it frees you to live your life.

I took an online class from Nikki Hunter on homemaking.  Before, I felt like I cleaned and cleaned but my house would be messy again in 2 days…or 3 hours.  I was always overwhelmed.  The first assignment was to choose one room at a time and detail clean it.  I chose to do my most difficult room FIRST (the kitchen), instead of doing the easiest room (our bedroom) like I usually do.  I did a concentrated focus, while listening to a book on tape, and put everything else on hold.  I put it on my calendar and cleared out the time.  It took 10 hours the first day and 7 hours the next.  I was shocked it took so long, and didn’t realize I had so many kitchen cabinets.  But everything is DONE and looks fantastic.  Instead of rushing around daily picking up things and trying to do the entire house, I detail cleaned each room, building on top of each other. (Update - 4 years later, I'm still benefiting from this decluttering and detailed cleaning day.)

Because I have a clean base to start from, I have been able to keep on top of the dishes and daily finish each chore without getting sidetracked.  This allowed me to move on to the bathroom.  It has now been purged of excess and is squeaky clean.  Next came the living and dining rooms, and with so many now clear horizontal surfaces, the place looks bigger and it is easier to clean.  I haven’t touched the junk room and patio room yet, but they will be done, too, eventually!   Fully completing these rooms and not moving on to new rooms until one was finished, worked wonders. 

I know I am living my life to the fullest.  I am no longer running around shopping, trying to make my house look better with cute things I could buy.  I am no longer neglecting the household chores that were “too difficult” for little ol’ delicate me.  I’ve put away crafts that took too much time.  I still read, but I take my job in the home seriously, and my house is really beginning to come together. I wish the same peace for you!

If we don’t own it, we don’t have to take care of it, and we have more time to do what we want.  ~Kathy Peel, The Family Manager


Detoxing Your House

Wendy Hilty 1955

When I first moved into my new husband’s house, I developed asthma.  The place was so dusty that I would begin itching whenever I entered it (he hadn't been living in the house).  I began to see an allergist and found I was extremely allergic to dust.  When we removed the carpet we were relieved to find hardwood floors underneath.  Eliminating the carpet eliminated my asthma.

Decluttering all the rooms & drawers took a long time (I still have one room I call the junk room that is filled with family memorabilia I haven’t gone through yet).  But during this time of clearing out clutter, I began to feel physically bad.  We found lots of products, including banned pesticides like DDT, and I began to wonder just how much my new environment was affecting me.

I bought the book Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd which has 400 pages of How to Determine If a Product is Toxic To You, How Safe is Your Home, Indoor Air Pollution, Household Cleaning and Laundry Products, Home and Garden Pest Control, Water, Drugs and Medications, Beauty and Hygiene, Food, Textiles, Home Office and Art Supplies, Home Furnishings, Babies and Children, Pet Care, Finding a Safe Home, Harmful Effects of Common Substances and Household Poisons.  Whew!  It is a veritable bible of information.  You’d think that after reading this book my home would be detoxed, wouldn’t you?

I did great for awhile, and eliminated many toxic substances from our home.  But slowly items began to creep back in, or were never eliminated.  “I’ll use this up, but not buy more (glass cleaner).”  “But it smells like clean (degreaser).” “But my friend highly recommends it (grout cleaner).” “Mom always used it (dryer sheets).” “I don’t have a spray bottle to make my own products and I can never remember the recipe.”  “Grandpa gave it to me (a plethora of half used cleaning supplies).”

Why David Hated Tuesdays: One Courageous Mother's Guide to Keeping Your Family Toxin and Allergy FreeThen I got pregnant and jumped back on the bandwagon when I read the awesome book Why David Hated Tuesdays, One Courageous Mother’s Guide to Keeping Your Family Toxin and Allergy Free by Amilya Antonetti, Founder and CEO of Soapworks.

She has an incredible story of how she slowly came to realize her very sick child was ill because he was highly sensitive to chemicals that are “normal” in every home.  She wrote down what David ate, wore, when he slept, when he was happy or in pain…and found he was always sick on Tuesdays.  She realized she always deep cleaned the house on Tuesdays and a light went on. 

It’s a fascinating introduction to how she detoxed her home, and gives us “Good, Better, and Best” advice on what we can do to improve our home as well.  It is 241 pages of wisdom.  It is not dry reading; she tells her story and David’s reaction to products on each page, and it’s like reading an interesting journal of what she learned about products (especially those cute baby products!) and the alternatives she began choosing, or making.  She gives recommendations, and asks you journal questions for your own journey to health. 

So you’d think my home would be toxin-free now, wouldn’t you?  But I was still addicted to dryer sheets, cheap detergent, bath tile sprays, floor cleaning products….  I’d eliminated a lot of cleaning products, but there were still parabens and preservatives like formaldehyde in my cosmetics, hair products, lotions….

The Healthy Home: Simple Truths to Protect Your Family from Hidden Household DangersAnd then last week, I picked up the brand new book The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and his son Dave Wentz, with Donna K. Wallace.  This book is enjoyable to read - a page turner that made me jump up at the end of each chapter (even at midnight!) and get into the room I was reading about and check out what was in the products I was using.

The first thing I did (from the first chapter on the Bedroom) was take a look at what I was sleeping in.  I discovered that my pajamas were not pure cotton as I had assumed.  The top had nylon, rayon and cotton, and the bottoms had cotton and 40% polyester.  My pajamas are on 11 hours a night!  He discussed the reasons why we should only sleep in cotton, organic if possible.  I tossed most of my family’s pj’s and kept only the cotton ones. 

But then I noticed that a seldom itchy spot on the back of my neck wouldn’t leave me alone.  So that day I stripped the bed and washed the sheets, and instead of using dryer sheets, I used vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of the washer.  The next morning my neck began healing.  Tiny spots on my face also began healing.  I could feel them healing! 

After each chapter, where the three writers go through Dave’s home and outline the dangers in each room of his (and our) home, I went through my home and looked at each product they mentioned.  I threw away 3 bags full of lotions, shampoos, baby care items, cleaning products, soaps, silver polish, laundry aides, paint…you name it.  If it had a major toxin in it, out it went!  I’ve been using vinegar and water, and bon ami, borax, baking soda, and have ordered washing soda.  I plan on making my own laundry detergent, and I’ll let you know how that goes! (Update - just okay.  I switched to free and clear detergents instead.)  They give such great, readable and doable information.

In the kitchen I took my aluminum foil out of my oven, I tossed the plastic wrap, and I checked each plastic dish and container I own and tossed anything that wasn’t a 5.  They also discuss what to use in the kitchen (not Teflon!), what to eat, drink, how to cook, and supplements to take (without pushing a product!).  One thing that is repeated throughout is to fling open your windows!  Outside air (unless you live next to a freeway?) is always cleaner than inside air!  And turn off WiFi at night.  Their website is www.myhealthyhome.com.

Household Cleaning: Self-Sufficiency (The Self-Sufficiency Series)Last book:  Household Cleaning, Self-Sufficiency by Rachelle Strauss.  I love this book because it takes each product and says:  What is _______? (floor cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, detergent)  How do they work?  What is in them?  Dangers to You, and lastly, Keeping it eco-friendly.  It is a small, easy to read book that lists the basics you need to know. 

Just a few of my notes from The Healthy Home – there are hundreds more in the book:

Clothes:  Stay away from acrylic, polyester, acetate, triacetate, nylon, and anything static or wrinkle resistant, permanent press, no iron, stain proof or moth repellant. 

Avoid beauty products, or any products, with Formaldehyde: Quaternium 15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidozolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin.

Also avoid, especially in children’s products – parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl), mercury (thermisal), lead acetate, diethanolancine (DEA), synthetic color pigments, propylene glycol (PG), coal tar, toluene, phenylenediamine (PPD), petrolatum, and aluminum. 

Aluminum is found in antiperspirants, some medications, aspirin, cake mix, pots, foil, cans, processed cheese, self-rising flours, frozen dough…

Take acidophilus that has active and live cultures.  Calcium, magnesium, vit. D to keep teeth healthy.  Spend 10 minutes each day in the sun with no sunscreen.  Milk cancels out its calcium benefits by being acid-producing and drawing calcium from your bones.

Don’t buy products with triclosan or triclocarban.

Buy “green” nonstick pans, or an iron skillet.  Use stainless steel water bottles, not aluminum.

Use low-VOC paint, incandescent bulbs, castile soap, essential oils, vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda.

Stop using pesticides!      Wear gloves when cleaning!      Open your windows!

I hope you are inspired to detox your house, and remember to take the toxins to a household round-up; please don’t discard into the landfills.

The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started. ~ Dawson Trotman