Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring cleaning day 1

In second grade my hippie music teacher taught our class a song about the arrival of winter titled "Something Told the Wild Geese." This is what I remember:

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go
Though the fields weren't frozen
Something whispered, "Snow."

I think of that stupid song all the time now because there are tons of Canadian Geese that live in a mile radius of our house. I think they must be imported to make everything appear "quaint" or something. Regardless, I know spring is approaching because the geese are back! (We almost hit one with our car the other day.)

So, it's appropriate that today was the start of spring cleaning in our house.

First, the symbolic changing of the wreath from this DIY one I made this winter (and plan to hang for years to come)

To this one, which screams "SPRING"

We accomplished a lot today. I stayed home and took care of chores while Matt ventured out and handled errands. (I realize this is a little cave-man, cave-womanish of us. Cave man leave, cave woman stay home.) I accomplished everything on my to-do list in about five hours.

Step 1: Garage. This is the one that has been bothering me the most recently. We have so much sand (and probably chemicals) that we've tracked in on our boots, the dogs' paws and our car tires.

The garage itself didn't start off that dirty:

But after about 10 minutes of sweeping, I had this beauty of a pile. To put this in perspective, it took me five full dustpans to remove all this from the floor.
Then I looked at the shelf in the garage. I'm thankful that this is something the previous homeowners installed, because it's the perfect amount of garage storage space for us. As you can imagine, we don't believe in clutter. Still, I needed to sort through it all.

Here's what we have in the garage storage space:
  • two medium-sized suitcases
  • two large coolers
  • all the paint we've bought since we've lived here, about six different gallon cans
  • some paint supplies (brushes, rollers, tape, etc.)
  • a drink tub for parties
  • flattened boxes and bubble wrap for mailing (both of these items are being stored to!)
  • car-washing supplies
  • Matt's mountain-biking gear
  • empty pots for gardening
  • headrests for Matt's car
  • dog food
  • bag of bags (you know, shopping bags you will eventually use again....everyone has this, right?)

There were some odds and ends mixed in there that are getting donated to Good Will next week, but other than that all I needed to do was group like objects together, and take a minute to gather all the car-washing supplies:

Matt's mountain-biking gear I have relegated to one carton:

And now that storage space is a little more appealing

Step 2: Closet purge. We have an exceptionally organized master closet, but it still needed a look over for any winter clothes we did not wear this season. Those clearly need to go out the door. Next week I'll share with your photos of our closet, but so as not to overwhelm you, before you do a major closet overhaul make sure your closet only contains the items you need. Here's what we took out of the closet and will donate next week:
A few of the items in here are items that other people have given to me as hand-me-downs. This happens to me all the time. A friend will say, "This is too small for me, but it will probably fit you" or "This is a little tight in the chest for me, so maybe it will work for you." Yeah, I am that guy, and I'm OK with being 28 and looking like I'm 15 because hopefully when I'm 50 I will still look like I'm 35. I will accept that. The point, though, is that hand-me-down clothes rarely work out.

Oh, and we also donated some never-used kitchen items and some books that we never plan to read again.

Step 3: Window washing. This is another one I've been looking forward to, and I am not being sarcastic at all. The worst is when I am looking out the windows on a weekend when the sun is out (since it's rarely out when I'm home during the week). I can just see the caked-on dirt that has been whipped up during this winter's storms.

I've picked up a couple tips with window washing in the last couple of years.

  • First, I use the one-part vinegar, two-parts water DIY cleaning solution that I store in a spray bottle.
  • Even though I've used newspapers in the past, I didn't have any on hand today, so I went with paper towels. 
  • Also, I go over every window twice. First I spray the window and wipe it down using first horizontal motions and then vertical motions. Then I go over the window with a clean towel, either by flipping the towel I am using over or by just grabbing a new one. This is the strategy to use to minimize or, if you're lucky, completely eliminate streaks.

The windows here may look deceivingly OK (look closely at the spots on the window)

But here's an example of what I got off the outside of one window

Because I have those windows from the future that actually pull out of the frames for easy cleaning, it really is pretty easy.

Here's how I start: I pull down the bottom window first, and then I lay the top one over it.

Then I clean the outside of the top window; then the inside of the top window; then the outside of the bottom window; then the window ledge; then the inside of the bottom window. This system makes the most sense for eliminating run off and other dirt from hitting the recently cleaned surfaces.

It took me a little less than two hours to clean all the windows and glass doors in our house. That's 17 windows and doors. Not too shabby. Also, I am only this thorough about once a year, maybe twice if we're lucky. 

Step 4: Outdoor patio. This is where Matt came in. First he swept our deck, that you may recall was covered in two feet of snow about a month ago.

Pretty sad looking, eh?

Then he brought up most of the patio furniture that had been stored in the garage.

But it looks its best when the umbrella is open. Here's another stupid confession: this is our -- count them -- fourth umbrella. Yes, we have gone through one umbrella for every year we've lived here. Two flew away and one broke. In all events we were the people who left the umbrella open while we left the house. Really dumb. At the end of last season we got this umbrella on sale and we only keep it open if we're outside. 

For dramatic effect, the open umbrella
Next on the spring cleaning to-do list is a major vacuuming session, the likes of which our house has not seen in years (even though Matt vacuums the whole house every Sunday). We'll also clean the bathrooms a little more thoroughly than usual, and we need to work on our front garden and our backyard herb garden, but that will be in due time. More on those events later!

Remember: most of the time I do about 45 minutes of cleaning/straightening/organizing on a Saturday. But today was a day for the record books. I did this a little early in the season (or a little late in the winter, whichever you prefer) because 1) this winter has been too long and I am ready for a change and 2) we are really busy the next few weekends, so I didn't want to put this off.

Next up...the tale of a vacuum cleaner repair that might help you regain your faith in humanity.

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