Where to Start: Deep Cleaning Your Bedroom

Welcome back to my series on deep cleaning! This week: bedrooms!

Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

Bedrooms are likely the most important room on your deep cleaning list. Why? Because a bedroom is the cleanest dirty room in everyone’s house. It’s easy to change the sheets, pick up the floor, run the vacuum around and call it good. But it’s also where you probably spend quite a bit of your day (asleep or awake), so it’s truly worth spending the time to clean deeply every once in awhile.

The biggest issue most people face while cleaning a bedroom is getting sidetracked by decluttering as they clean. Bedrooms hold a lot of personal items, so it’s super easy to focus on sorting clothes in your closet or looking through your jewelry collection. That’s why I suggest setting an objective before you start cleaning a bedroom and giving yourself one day to reach your goal. If you want to spend that full day decluttering your closet or the couple hours you have free one day turning and vacuuming your mattress, go for it. Or if you want more of a full-room effect, focus on an all-surface clean (that means clearing, dusting, and cleaning fans, lights, walls, windows, table tops, etc. and not worrying about the insides of drawers or closets). Taking too much on can get really overwhelming, so make a realistic goal and keep in mind how much time you have and what will have the biggest impact so that you can make solid steps toward improving your living space.

Listen to TSwift and get it doooone! / via Giphy

My favorite approach to deep cleaning a bedroom is the bed/surfaces combo, and I think it’s a great place to start deep cleaning a bedroom. Here’s what I do if I have a full day:

  1. I start by removing my sheets and laundering my synthetic down pillows, the covers of my foam pillows, and my comforter. The goal here is to wash anything detachable from your bed (non-foam mattress toppers go in the machine too!). If there’s anything that can’t go in the washing machine, put it outside to air out. If you don’t have an outdoor space to air things out, fluffing and vacuuming are usually the best alternative.
  2. Once the washing machine is going, I start from the top down and give the ceiling a once over with a duster (as I said in my post about deep cleaning living rooms, this is always a good approach!). Clean off light fixtures, fans, and get into the corners (where you will be amazed by the cobwebs you didn’t notice!). Cleaning from the top down is super important in bedrooms because they can get very dusty and air quality is important, so you want to eliminate as much dust as possible and get it to move towards the floor.
  3. Next, dust and vacuum shades (brush attachments work best for me) on floor and table lamps and any picture frames/wall hangings. If you’re feeling very clean-y, hit the glass on those frames with some glass cleaner (use my homemade recipe!). For some reason in my mind there is no more extra cleaning task than cleaning the glass of picture frames that don’t really need it. It’s like washing walls — it makes me so unnecessarily smug.
  4. Dust and polish (I use Ecos Furniture Polish + Cleaner, which I like because the smell isn’t super overwhelming) nightstands, bureaus, and any other horizontal surfaces. Again, don’t worry about closets and try not to get sidetracked by items in drawers. If you have a lot of clutter on surfaces (like makeup or perfume bottles or jewelry), just move it aside to clean the surface underneath and move on. It’s great to reorganize your jewelry collection or clean out your shoe shelf, but trust me — it will prevent you from finishing the cleaning at hand and ultimately you will get less done.
  5. If you have a plush headboard, vacuum it and the mattress. The mini carpet heads (which are actually for furniture) are perfect for this. My headboard is a dust magnet, and every time I clean it I’m surprised by how dirty it’s gotten without me noticing (maybe I’m just very unaware of my surroundings since I don’t notice this or the cobwebs on the ceiling?). I don’t particularly like using baking soda to clean the surface of my mattress (I find it messy and honestly pretty ineffective), but I do spray a solution of a few drops of tea tree mixed water or even some white vinegar to disinfect the mattress and headboard material.
  6. Finally, the floor! If you have carpet, thoroughly vacuum it, but focus on getting under the bed and any other furniture you can move. Actually moving the furniture is almost always better than just using an extension to get under it, but beds and full bureaus can be tough to move without help. Do what you can! If you have hardwood or laminate floors, take the time to vacuum and mop the floors, again focusing on getting under furniture. It’s tough to worry about getting under furniture during a normal day of cleaning, so a deep clean is the time to get into these more involved tasks.
  7. Last, but certainly not least, put everything back! Set aside time and energy at the end of cleaning to remake the bed, put on fresh sheets, and bring everything in from airing out. I have often gotten so invested in cleaning the bedroom that the comforter was still in the dryer at 8 p.m. It’s awful when you’re exhausted from cleaning all day but can’t get into bed because you stripped all the bedding and got overly ambitious with your cleaning. It’s a good idea to set a timer for the end of the washing machine cycle (so nothing sits in there too long) and a reminder for an hour or so before you need to stop cleaning (if you have to eat dinner at 6, for instance, remind yourself to start putting things back around 5). That way, the room where you relax can become the room where you relax again!
Now dance around your clean bedroom! Dance! / via Giphy

Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your squeaky-clean bedroom! Bedrooms can be tough rooms to tackle, but it’s so worth it. A bedroom really should be a kind of sanctuary, so it feels really good to take time to clean that space and make it nicer for yourself and those you share it with.

Thanks for reading!

Cleaning When It’s Too Hot to Clean

It’s gross hot today. According to my weather app, it “feels like” 104 degrees. At 5 PM.

via Giphy

It is with this in mind that I’m taking a break from my series on deep cleaning, because a) it’s been pretty hot all around the country this month and I feel like this is more relevant this week, and b) there is no way that I am doing any deep cleaning this week and writing about it will make my blood boil (jk, it’s already happening because it’s 104° outside). Also it’s summer or whatever, so I guess this won’t be the last time this stuff might apply.

Though I now live in western Washington where it’s almost never this hot, I grew up in sunny southern California. And not beachy southern California. Angry suburban desert southern California. 95° on Halloween, Santa Anas making everyone in town lose their minds, the whole deal. I lived in an old house with poor air conditioning and always drove cars that were old and too unreliable to run the AC without overheating. In short, the desert was not fun for me and my mental health now takes a nosedive whenever it gets above 90°. So you can imagine what happened early last week when I saw the forecast for an historic, record-breaking heat wave:

I didn’t handle it well… / via Giphy

I may have panic bought six boxes of popsicles. We may now be out of all those popsicles. I have no regrets.

Heat waves basically mean you can’t do anything but the essentials, especially if you don’t have AC. No yard work besides watering (limited during drought conditions), no big projects that mean moving around too much… the goal is basically to stay as cool as possible, and the best way to do that is by staying still. So before I get into the rest of this post: if you don’t have AC or if you are just getting through the heat any way you can, STOP right now and take care of yourself, your family, and your pets. Heat stroke and exhaustion are no joke, and extreme heat takes a big toll on our mental health. Just do the bare essentials like washing whatever dishes you need, because though it helps to have a clean house, it should never be prioritized over your physical or mental health.

All of that said, if you have AC and/or live in a place where it’s not over 100° for just a few days, I have a few methods for making my house feel a bit better and cleaner without generating a ton of heat. Extreme heat often makes it difficult to do much of anything, and though some parts of the desert cool down quite a bit at night making it possible to get stuff done in the early morning or evenings, most places stay hot well into the evening (it will still be in the 90s at 9 PM here). That rules out running a vacuum (instant room heater), vigorous movement, opening windows, etc. Even running the dishwasher during the day generates a ton of extra heat (can you tell that I’m a blast to live with during a heat wave and not intense at all?). So instead of fighting against this or just running the machines anyway, here’s what I do:

  1. Clean in small bursts. Because moving around a lot during a hot day isn’t too fun, I clean in small bursts, usually less than 5 minutes. I avoid getting too vigorous and focus more on straightening up. Making the room feel cleaner can help your house feel a little less stuffy when you’re stuck inside with the shades drawn.
  2. Surface sweeps are your friend. Awhile ago I realized that have cluttered countertops makes a huge difference in how I perceive a room. It feels much airier and cleaner when counters, coffee tables, and tables are cleared. Since I don’t do a ton of cleaning period in the heat, I make an extra effort when it’s super hot and I’m stuck inside to keep my kitchen counters clear and clean, and it makes a big difference for me.
  3. Worry about sheets, but not much else. Having clean sheets makes a bedroom feel a lot cleaner, and it doesn’t create a ton of heat or require too much movement to change them. Sleeping in a hot room is already the worst, but clean sheets (especially if, pro tip: you get them a little wet and stick them in the fridge) will make a big difference. Don’t worry too much about everything else in the bedroom. Just keep things basically hygienic and the floors clear and let the rest wait until it doesn’t feel like anger as a weather pattern outside.
  4. Consider appliance swaps. When it’s super hot and I need to vacuum, I either sweep or use my stick vac instead. A stick vac generates a lot less heat, so if you live in a hot place and can afford it, I highly recommend thinking about buying one! Similarly, if running the dryer makes your house hot, use nature’s dryer outside. After all, if the heat’s going to be here it may as well be of some use.
  5. Find “hot weather” work. Do you know what my aunt and I did on the hottest day of last summer? We pressure washed the patio. It was like an adult splash pad with a purpose. If you’re champing at the bit to get something done but it’s prohibitively hot, choose something like washing your car at one of those do-it-yourself car washes or pairing your socks in front of a fan. Focus on things that are easy to do while stationary or involve water and shade. If you’re outside, though, remember to hydrate!
  6. Take it easy on yourself. I said it above, but I’ll say it again: cut yourself some slack. Being in extreme heat is a major weather event like a snow storm. Your first priority is to stay safe. If you’re in a place where it’s hot for most of the year, that still holds true. Look at it this way: when it’s -20° and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, you probably won’t find people outside trimming trees. Most people shovel the walk, look after their animals, and do anything else that needs taking care of. Then they go back inside and leave the rest until spring! It’s ok to do that with a heat wave or a hot summer. It can wait until cool weather, even if that means it waits a few months.

Stay cool and safe out there, friends.

Thanks for reading!

Where To Start: Deep Clean Your Living Room

Welcome back to my series on deep cleaning! This week: living rooms!

Everyone on the internet has a nicer house than me. / Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

Living rooms are a bit tough to pin down when it comes to deep cleaning. First, it’s tough to get your spouse/kids/pets to stay out of the living room long enough for you to really get into a cleaning groove. I have no good advice there: I use threats and distraction but neither really works. Second, it’s tough to find (or give!) good guidance because living rooms tend to look a little different for each home. After all, as the name suggests this is where we do a lot of our “living” and that looks a bit different for everyone based on individual circumstances, needs, and priorities. Some folks have a glorified play area for their kids, some have merged the space with their dining room, some have a full on workstation in these wild WFH times. Unlike a bathroom or a kitchen, living rooms have a more fluid place in our homes — they can be whatever we want (or need) them to be.

Every time you try to clean your living room and someone wants to “watch their show.” / via Giphy

Though the specifics vary widely, living areas of all kinds can really benefit from a deep clean. We do so much “living” in these spaces that they often get pretty run-down pretty quickly, and it’s tough to find the time or space to go further than clearing off the coffee table and vacuuming the rug. So if you only have time for a partial deep clean, don’t worry! Go in stages, take breaks, and cut yourself some slack. It’s up to you how much you want to do and when you want to do it, but it’s always worth taking care of yourself by taking care of your space.

  • Start from the top down. When you really don’t know where to start, this is the best place for any and all rooms. Start with the stuff on the ceiling and work your way toward the floor. I like to use a vacuum to get rid of cobwebs (you can also use a rag tied around a broom head or a long-armed duster) and then clean off light fixtures and ceiling fans with a clean rag and some all-purpose cleaner (patch test if using on paint!). Nothing says “I’m deep cleaning” better than getting out a step ladder, and I’m always amazed at how much there is to clean once I get up there.
Does Miyazaki like cleaning as much as I do? The cleaning animation is so satisfying! / via Giphy
  • Clean your walls. Is this very extra? You bet. But there’s a real case for doing this every once in awhile. First, you will feel a smug sense of cleaning superiority when you casually mention you spent the day cleaning your walls (just kidding, people will think you’re over the top and scary, but it’s still worth it). It can also extend the life of your paint and make your home smell cleaner. You only need to do this every year or two, so I highly recommend taking some time for it because it makes such a difference in how your room looks and feels! Here’s a couple of approaches:
    • The easier: Get yourself a magic eraser, a rag, and some very watered down cleaner that you have patch tested on your paint. DO NOT skip patch testing for the cleaner or the magic eraser! Seriously, depending on your paint you could stain/damage the wall and end up with more of a mess than you started with. I’ve had the best luck with a spray bottle filled with 1 part Simple Green to 3 parts water, but you could also spot clean with Zep’s Foaming Wall Cleaner (use with an open window — this stuff is powerful but works wonders!). Once you’ve got everything assembled and tested, use a brush attachment to lightly vacuum the wall surface or dust with a clean dry rag. Then go on a dirt hunt (this is what I call walking around with cleaner and a rag and cleaning anything I see that needs it). Use the magic eraser on the really stained areas and the cleaner/rag over any other visibly dirty areas.
    • The advanced: Start with the brush attachment and thoroughly vacuum the wall (use a light touch so you don’t scratch anything). Work in roughly 4’x4′ squares. Remove any art/wall hangings as you go. Now get a clean mop (preferably the large, flat rectangular kind) and a bucket filled with warm water and, you guessed it, a patch-tested all purpose cleaner of your choice! The idea here is to basically mop your wall the way you would your floor. Use light pressure and again, work in squares to make sure you get everything. Once you’ve mopped the whole wall, go back with a magic eraser or rag to remove any spots the mopping didn’t completely remove. When the wall is dry, go back over it with the vacuum to pick up any dust or hair still stuck to the wall (trust me, this is an important step). Re-hang anything you took down and voila! Super clean walls.
  • Detail your seating area. Whether you have a couch, lounge chair, or a few cushions on the floor, all living rooms have somewhere to sit. Most of us give these a once over with a vacuum and call it a day, but it’s worth paying this area extra attention every so often. To deep clean a chair or couch:
    • First remove anything that can be laundered and do so. Cushion covers, slip covers, blankets–wash all of it. Next, anything that can be removed but can’t go in the washing machine should either be put outside to air out or thoroughly vacuumed.
    • Now, to the furniture itself: start by vacuuming thoroughly. Get every nook and cranny you can reach with an attachment. This step should take you awhile — at least 10 minutes per piece. Set a timer if you need to. The idea is to be thorough and really get as much dirt and dust out as possible. If you can, get underneath and vacuum the underside. Don’t be afraid to go over the whole piece a few times!
    • If you have a carpet cleaner and your furniture is cloth-covered, get in there and clean the whole piece. Take extra time for the spots that see a lot of traffic: the head and arm rests. If you have leather furniture, go over everything with a leather cleaner (I’ve even used some saddle soap on occasion to pretty good results).
  • Clean your art. Now that you have super clean walls, spend some time on the stuff you put on the walls. I usually dust things off during regular cleans, but occasionally I like to go through with glass cleaner and clean off all my frames really thoroughly.
    • If you have anything not in a frame or covered with glass like a wall hanging or sculpture, you can either go over it with the brush attachment on your vacuum or, if it’s in really dusty condition, use a toothbrush to clean out the nooks and crannies, hit it with the vacuum, and then use a clean rag pulled over your finger tip and some gentle all-purpose cleaner to get at any stuck-on gunk.
    • If you have delicate hand-painted items like an oil painting, you can either stick to dusting or take a page out of art restoration experts’ playbook: use a cotton swab and your saliva. Normally I don’t recommend spit-shine as a cleaning method, but saliva contains amylase (an enzyme that breaks down food) and is actually really effective for cleaning delicate paintings. It’s safer than water, believe it or not. I will say that using a cotton bud and spit is a long, arduous process, so maybe don’t do this unless there’s a spot you need to get out or you have a couple hours to spare. Simply stick the clean cotton bud in your mouth to wet with spit and then roll delicately back and forth over the painted surface. Be very gentle and don’t scrub — the friction could damage the paint.
See? The spit thing is real, no prank. / via Giphy

There are always plenty of things to clean, but these are a good place to start. Though cleaning your walls and art can apply to other parts of your home, I recommend taking deep cleaning room by room so you don’t get burned out. Deep cleaning can be really satisfying, but it’s also really taxing, especially when you realize you have to put the room back together after taking it all apart to clean it. I like to leave a little time and energy at the end of a big clean to re-stage the room. Put the cushions back, rehang the wall decorations, put away the cleaning supplies. Then, you can relax and enjoy your space!

Thanks for reading!

Pandemic Habits I’ll Keep

If it’s been written once it’s been written a thousand times: the pandemic has and continues to change how we live our lives, in both big and small ways (I know — super original statement). Some folks have been talking about getting “back to normal” and some maintain that life will never be the same (honestly, they’re probably both right — life has a way of being achingly normal and shockingly bizarre at the same time), but most everyone has drastically altered their everyday behavior from pre-pandemic standards. I’ve been thinking a lot about the world after the pandemic and the habits I adopted as a result, and there’s a lot I like and will probably keep doing. Let me be clear at the outset, though: 1) the pandemic is ongoing and probably will be for awhile, and 2) it isn’t my intention to make light of a serious time — I get that many of these are trivialities.

Photo by Leohoho on Unsplash
  • Wearing a mask. I like that masks have been a little more normalized. I used to feel weird about wearing one in public, but they’re great for allergies, for keeping your germs away from others if you’re sick, and even for helping me breath a bit easier during the Northwest’s awful fire season. I’ll keep my collection in regular rotation and while I may not wear them in public constantly forever, I’ll keep wearing them when they’ll help keep myself and others safe or stop my head from feeling like a bowling ball each spring.
  • Washing my produce and taking food out of boxes. This may sound a bit odd and probably isn’t for everyone, but at the beginning of the pandemic I was in full panic mode and started disinfecting my groceries. I began washing all my produce and taking items in paperboard (cereal boxes, snacks, etc.) out of the box before putting everything away. And even though it’s a bit extra, I will probably keep doing this for the foreseeable future for two reasons: produce washed immediately stays fresh waaaaay longer, and getting rid of the boxes early saves a ton of space.
  • Paying attention to my mental health. This one’s a bit more on the serious side, but the past year has been TOUGH. I’ve kept up my talk therapy via telehealth, and it’s been really helpful. This year I really learned the importance of putting my health — mental and physical — first, and I’ll continue to make extra room for self care.
  • Saying ‘no’ to events I don’t want to go to. I’m a super private introvert, so I’ll be honest: the pandemic didn’t hit my social life all that hard. If anything I see friends more now that folks are more open to Zoom happy hours and the like. But yeah, I’ve definitely been glad for the built-in excuse of the pandemic meaning I didn’t have to go to some event I wouldn’t have wanted to attend in the first place. It’s not strictly a habit of saying ‘no’ that I’m after: it’s recognizing that I can just admit I don’t really want to go somewhere and that I am allowed to value my time.

Again, I know we’re not out of the woods yet and the pandemic will probably continue to change how we live, but I think it’s interesting to think of the unexpected benefits of this brave new world. I guess I’m bright-siding it, but it’s nice to think I’ve learned something good from all of this.

Thanks for reading!

What Ben Franklin (and Mark Twain) Taught me About Productivity

I have to go to the dump. It’s my Ben Franklin.” This was my response to the Starbucks clerk’s polite “So what are you up to today?” (I know, I should just say “nothing much,” but the clerk at the drive thru is one of my five weekly social interactions in COVID times.) Needless to say, she was a bit confused. The pandemic has really eroded my conversation skills.

What is a “Ben Franklin,” you ask? Well, the short answer is that it’s my family’s shorthand for something we don’t want to do. The long answer, however, which is what blogs are for, is that it’s sort of a creed we’ve taken up. A way of life. My mom always told me Ben Franklin said that you should to do one thing you don’t want to do every day. Trusting, as all Americans do, the word of that wacky inventor, I took the maxim to heart. Just one thing, each day. Simple, but kind of revolutionary (pun 1000% intended). Call the doctor. Figure out that insurance question. Go to the dump.

This guy got stuff done. But, you know, so did my guy Twain. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. PD-US-expired.

But here’s the kicker: Ben Franklin never said this, Mark Twain did. I know, I know, plot twist. We still call our one thing a day a “Ben Franklin,” mainly because a “Mark Twain” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. But regardless of who said it, the advice still works.

Ben Franklin actually is a bit of a productivity guru in his own right–people still write about and use his block scheduling and 13 virtues. But while he’s got a lot to say on how to be productive, he doesn’t have much to say about how to motivate yourself to be productive. (This is as good as it gets: “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” Cool, Ben, will do.)

Mark Twain said, “Make it a point to do something every day that you don’t want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” I love this, mainly because it explains how to actually build good habits. Just one thing. We can all wrap our heads around just one thing. It’s like a 10-minute exercise video–even if it’s been a day, I’ve always got 10 minutes.

This guyyyyy. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. PD-US.

When I started college, I was very shy and had trouble speaking up in class. I went to a university where it was kind of a prerequisite to speak up in class and was even part of our grade, so this quickly became a problem. I went to one of my professors and told him I was worried about my participation grade going down because I didn’t feel comfortable giving my two cents. “I listen,” I said, “but it’s just hard to get involved in the conversation.” And he gave me Mark Twain’s advice: “Just say one thing per class. Write it down if you have to. Don’t worry about whether it’s clever or good or right. Just say one thing, and then you don’t have to do anything else.” That’s how I know this advice works. I said one thing during each class period, and slowly, I became more comfortable with speaking up in class. And it was pretty painless. If I wasn’t feeling like speaking up, I could just say one thing, and if I wanted to, I could say more.

Now there are a lot of people who have said something similar. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Always do what you are afraid to do.” Eleanor Roosevelt said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And that is also good advice that I’ve taken to heart. But I still go back to Twain, because it’s about building a habit and handling the everyday kind of tough stuff. It’s not necessarily about fear, it’s more about making steady progress and getting the things you’ve been putting off done. I’m not really afraid of changing my car’s oil, I just don’t want to do it. But if I make it a point to do one thing each day, the oil will get changed. And it will be pretty painless, because I just have to do the one thing.

So whether you call it a “Ben Franklin” or a “Mark Twain” or just “my one thing,” give this a shot. Start today, or tomorrow. Just pick the thing that’s been bugging you to get done and just do the one thing. And then you’re all done!

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Decluttering in the Time of COVID

I read somewhere last summer that Goodwill was having trouble dealing with the volume of donations brought on by lockdown. Apparently, people got stuck in their houses, realized those houses were waaay too crowded to be stuck in, and decided to use their newfound free time to box it up and throw it in the garage until it was safe to donate. But recently, I heard that in some places Goodwill now doesn’t have enough donations! They’re actually losing money, and not because people aren’t shopping there because of COVID-related fear — go figure. (Goodwill has actually done a lot of good during the pandemic and most have safety protocols to keep customers and employees safe.)

Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

What I really find strange about all of this is that it was actually the other way around for me. Lockdown and all the fear and uncertainty surrounding it set me back in more ways than one. In 2019, I was merrily KonMari-ing and Swedish death cleaning my way to peace and happiness. In 2020, I was stress-hoarding butter (yeah, I can make it through life rationing toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but I NEED EXTRA BUTTER) and keeping old yogurt tubs by the truckload.

Last summer, I wasn’t ready to give anything up that I “might need later.” I bought extra food when I went to the store in case they ran out of something (I had one packet of yeast left when everyone decided to take up stress baking) and so I’d have to go out less. I thought twice about getting rid of old clothes because 1) I live in Zoom purgatory now so why bother and 2) shopping for clothes in person kind of stresses me out now. Living in a pandemic upended all the things I used to tell myself while decluttering: “You can always buy it again if you end up needing it.” “There will always be enough.” “If you get rid of these clothes that no longer spark joy, you can enjoy shopping for some that do!” Instead I thought, especially when shopping for food: “What if they run out and I really need it?” “What if the factory shuts down because of an outbreak?” “What if I lose my job and can’t afford to buy more?”

I bought so much bottled water during the first lockdown. A somewhat panicked decision, in hindsight. Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Obviously, this wasn’t the healthiest thought cycle. Like most people, the last year has been pretty fear-driven for me. Fear of the unknown, it turns out, is kryptonite for people like me who coaxed themselves towards minimalism. But here’s the thing: it turns out, that wasn’t really a sustainable way of decluttering anyway. All the ways I told myself it was ok to get rid of something relied on me being able to get a new one or buy more stuff. Of course a pandemic that disrupted the supply chain and upended the economy would make me think twice about only buying the groceries I needed for the week!

This is an ongoing process for me, and I’ve been turning over this realization in my mind, trying to figure out what it means for me. I like my life with less clutter in it, but I also don’t want to force myself to let go when I still am dealing with a lot of fear and anxiety. My lizard brain is starting to chill out, and I’m starting to be able recognize items I no longer use or need again and be okay with letting them go, but I still worry about the what-ifs. It’s an uncertain time, and it probably will be for awhile. I do know I want to find a more sustainable way of letting go, in all senses of the word. I want to get rid of what I no longer need, but I want to make sure it’s recycled, if possible. I want to buy new if I need to, but not just to get a serotonin boost from “treating myself.” Mostly, I just want to find some peace of mind — go figure.

Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Kitchen Unitasker (For the Person Who Hates Them)

Thanks to years of watching Alton Brown, I have a pretty healthy dislike of unitaskers. I don’t like clutter, and I tend to just MacGyver anything I don’t already have on hand.

via Giphy

But obviously there’s a “but” here. One unitasker I bought and have kept, used regularly, and loved for over 5 years: my hamburger press.

via Amazon

This is my particular model, courtesy of Amazon. Granted, it’s pretty cheap and doesn’t take up a ton of room, but for those who are wondering why anyone would need a gadget like this (kitchen minimalists, you know who you are), I’m just saying that this is worth it. I have had some truly microscopic kitchens, but I’ve kept this little press through them all.

Did I buy the press because I love burgers or do I love burgers because I bought the press? / via Giphy

Weirdly, though it’s clearly a meat-oriented tool, it’s actually super useful for vegetarians and vegans. If you want to try making your own veggie burger mix, this tool goes a long way in helping you achieve a more consistent, easier-to-handle patty. Same goes for the meat-eaters; patties are easier to handle and cook, and you can make stuffed burgers (again, you might wonder why you would need this, but stuff a burger with blue cheese and get back to me).

Long story short, despite this thing saying it’s 3-in-1 like it does sooooo much more than make patties, that’s all it does. You put the meat in and use the handled top to press down. It’s really not rocket science. But I will say most people who see I have one say, “huh, that’s cool” and have ultimately splurged the $10 on one of their own.

So that’s it. That’s the post (forgive me, I got my vaccine yesterday and I am dragging). This thing is cool, and I’m just saying it’s worth having. Even if you don’t eat burgers all that often, you’ll find you’re more likely to make them (or any puck-shaped foods).

Also, if you’re going all out on burgers, I highly recommend the Bob’s Burgers cookbook (you can buy a copy here). It may seem like overkill, but we’ve made a fair few of the recipes and it’s actually a really solid cookbook.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

PSA: You Don’t Have to get anything done today

This post might be more for me than anyone else, but maybe someone out there is feeling the same way I am today. I feel burnt out, lazy, calm, happy, panicked, and anxious. My brain is this girl:

Because my brain is full of feelings, I decided not too worry about getting anything other than the basics done today. Food can happen, necessary spot cleaning can happen, but otherwise, I gave myself the day off.

I had grand plans this weekend, especially today: I was going to clean the tops of my kitchen cabinets and put wax paper down (a tip I saw on the Kitchn like 4 years ago and have yet to try), clean my balcony, get all my weekend chores finished, cook a couple of meals for the week, and repot a bunch of plants. As of this evening, I have started dinner and cleaned up the kitchen a bit. That’s it, that was the day.

My lack of energy and enthusiasm can be pretty comfortably blamed on Daylight Saving Time, but I think there’s something deeper at play here. I have a tendency to give myself a lot of “shoulds” and “have tos.” “I should get started on spring cleaning.” “I have to get started on work, I’m way behind.” “I should finish what I started.” I get in a cycle. I even start telling myself “I should take a break … so I can get more work done!” But today, I thought about why I “have to” do anything today. And after I listened to my head for a bit, I thought two things: first, good lord, I must be an exhausting person to be around, and second, I deserve a day off from “should” and “have to.”

It’s true that I’ll probably have more energy for the week after I gave myself a break today, but that’s not necessarily why I did it. I just really needed it, I was in a position where I could take it, and so instead of cleaning the tops of my cabinets today (I WILL clean them eventually), I sat on my couch, rewatched some episodes of AP Bio, worked on my cross stitch project, and just relaxed a bit.

Like I said, this post is probably more me justifying myself to myself than anything else, and taking a break isn’t anything revolutionary, but hey, if you need a break, take a break. We’ve been in a pandemic for a long time, it’s been really stressful, and you’re allowed to have feelings about it and anything else that’s making your life tough today. So if you need to today or any other day this week, take a day, take an hour, take 5 minutes if that’s what you need. You deserve it, and if it helps, you have my permission (I ask my therapist to give me permission to take a break or feel angry all the time, and it weirdly helps?).

Have a good week!