Getting ready for Summer Part 1: Spring Cleaning

3/31/2015 - 9:24:03 AM
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Spring, that sweet time when windows are pushed open wide, the birds sing their little hearts out every morning, laundry gets a sweet smell when hung outside, asparagus and strawberries are just around the corner, and we start thinking of spring… cleaning. We can’t really help it, it’s ingrained in us from generations of our mothers spring cleaning and there is something about all the fresh air to get us revved up and motivated to get things done.

Spring cleaning is a drag, though thankfully it’s not as much of an undertaking as it used to be when people practically took apart their houses to scrub them down, because they pulled up all their carpets to beat the dust out of them outside, and washed down their walls to get rid of the smoky build up from the previous heating season. However even if we don’t have to pull up all our carpets to take them outside to beat the dust out of them or wash down walls covered in a smoky film from old-fashioned heating methods there’s still that spilled coffee on the living carpet that wouldn’t all come out, and all the light fixtures that you’ve avoided looking at because you’ll see about 50 dead spiders.

Tip for enjoying spring and summer to the ultimate: Clean up.

We’ve heard it suggested that modern homes no longer need that energetic sweep of all dirt, intruders and dust every year when the daffodils bloom but it seems as if there is a good middle ground to reach about spring cleaning. It is true that since we don’t heat as we used to our houses get less dirty, but we’re willing to wager that there are still pockets of your house that need some extra attention. Besides, who really wants to live near those 50 dead spiders in their lights all year long?
The snag is most of us really don’t have an entire week, or sometimes even an entire day to devote all to cleaning and don’t know when we can hit it. For that we have a couple of tips.

1. Figure out a reward for getting it done

“This is a little backward” you might think. We reward ourselves after we get something done, not before. True, but you haven’t rewarded yourself yet, merely taken the first step that involves the motivation to get started at all. The idea to this step is getting your brain used to the idea that you can get something done for a really good reason as this is what keeps you going when you get started. The old hold-out-a-carrot trick works just as well for us in a different way if we figure out why we’re doing it and what we expect to gain by getting it done. It makes the work seem to go faster if we know why we’re doing it rather than just pushing ourselves to get it done, for example: if we know that we will gain contentment and satisfaction from having a clean house it’s much easier to work and enjoy it. However an excursion for ice cream, or a meal out sure can motivate as well.

2. Make a list

The most popular way to clean anything is room-by-room, and there is a great reason to do that because you miss less and it’s easier to keep your head on straight while seeing accomplishment. No one ever goes through rooms hit-and miss when really cleaning instead of straightening and this is a great approach to spring-cleaning your house.

The flip side is that old room-by-room method still works great if you have a large chunk of time to devote just to cleaning, but if you only have a few hours here and there it’s easier to split by category. Stop and think of something you’ve noticed lately that has to be cleaned. First thing that pops into your head. Now think of whether you have more than one of those in your house.

• ceiling fans and light fixtures
• heating vents
• tops of furniture
• under beds
• top shelves of closets

From your master list you can add one of two things to your to-do list each day and knock them out slowly through out the next few weeks instead of stressing about all the things you don’t have time for.

3. Clean where the sun don’t shine

Most of us clean semi-regularly and if you don’t this blog post probably isn’t for you, but for those of us who do we know what we regularly hit while cleaning. Usually it’s surface or a little beyond so this makes the focus of spring-cleaning more about the places you can’t see: closets, inside light fixtures, under beds and furniture, behind the fridge and stove, etc etc. If you’ve hit something lately then you can decide whether to hit that again or let it go for awhile, but generally we work on what we see right as we step into a room so this is the time to reverse clean and start from the inside out since you’re likely to get the rest another time.

4. Swap cleaning with someone else

Have some sisters, cousins or friends that you love to work with? Swap work. Tell them you’ll help them wash their windows if they help with yours. The old saying “many hands make light work” has it’s basis in fact and can make a job not only lighter, but faster. 12 windows split by 3 is a much more time manageable task than 1 person tackling all 12. The side benefit is free entertainment and quality time with family and friends.

5. Organize: Use this time to get rid of last year’s clutter

Clutter is inevitable, and when it builds up too far it can get really frustrating and counter-productive to a clean and inviting home so this is the perfect time to get rid of it. There are different tips to remember for different categories of home goods and items:

  • Clothes - Don’t fit, don’t love, don’t serve a purpose, shabby - Toss or donate them
  • Kitchen - Go basic. With the exception of articles used for canning, special occasions or sentimental value you might not need them. For the rest think of what you can borrow from a friend and donate/sell if you will only need it once or twice a year.
  • Home goods - Keep it minimal, make it beautiful, but keep it comfortable. Get rid of the rest.
  • Toys - Keep only what will inspire your child to be creative, not just entertained. Not all entertaining is bad, but kids can’t develop properly if they don’t discover and build things. Don’t overwhelm them with too many toys.
  •  

Take stock of what you have. If you need new towels put it on a list to watch for a sale, and get some first-class rags from the old ones. Linens, same thing. Keep your home fresh and tidy.

Bonus Tip: Make plenty of green smoothies to keep your energy up and fresh. We’ve found this to be an amazing way to keep going and get in essential nutrition and value.

Green Smoothie Recipe

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups spinach, fresh (tightly packed)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup mango (diced)
  • 1 cup pineapple (diced)
  • 2 bananas 

Directions: 

  1. Pack the leafy greens into a measuring cup and toss into blender. Add water and blend together until all leafy chunks are gone. Add in mango, pineapple, and bananas and blend again.
  2. Chill smoothie

Bonus Easter Recipes

Antipasto Salad

  • 1# veggie variety mix
  • ¼ # salami ( or add a bit more pepperoni sausage)
  • ¼ # pepperoni sausage, chopped
  • ½ # asiago or aged parmesan cheese (could sub cheddar for milder flavor)
  • 1 (6oz) can black olives drained and chopped
  • 1 green & 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (.7 oz) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • ¾ c. EVOO
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain, and cool under cold water.
  2. In large bowl combine the pasta, salami, pepperoni, asiago (cheese) black olives, peppers and tomatoes. Stir in envelope of dressing mix.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To prep the rest of the dressing whisk together the olive oil, (EVOO) balsamic vinegar, oregano, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over salad just before serving.

Tip: This recipe is large so for smaller families cut the recipe in half.


Deviled Spring Peepers

  • 6 Hard-cooked eggs
  • ¼ c. Shredded parmesan
  • ¼ c. Ranch dressing
  • 1 t. Dijon mustard
  • Dash of pepper
  • 5 carrot chips
  • Olive bits
  • Dill sprigs

Directions

  1. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each egg so it sits flat. Cut about ? off the top of each one and carefully remove yolks. Put in small bowl and mash with fork. Add rest of ingredients and stir until well blended. Spoon into the egg white bottoms and replace the tops.
  2. Cut olives and carrots into little bits for eyes, and make the face of the little peeper. Lay on bed of kale and refrigerate until serving. 




“Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the sunrise from on high will visit us.”

Happy Easter! 

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