living life, choosing joy

Monthly Archives: April 2013

msm cleaning

Challenge #30 (the LAST challenge!): Clean all the electronics (computer, TV, iPad, iPod, smartphones, etc.). 

It’s the last day of the challenge, and I can’t say as I was super excited about this task. Not that I don’t think that its something that needs doing, but it just sounded BORING!

But I decided to focus on my laptop anyway and knock out the task quickly. The screen and in between the keys was in need of a cleaning.

Here’s what it looked like in between the keys BEFORE:


Pretty dusty and yucky.

I would have loved to use some Dust-Off or something, but I didn’t have any. My husband suggested trying q-tips and rubbing alcohol.


I got each swab moistened in the rubbing alcohol and ran them in between each key.

The computer was off when I started, but then I must have pushed the right combination of buttons (not the power button) and some different screen came up. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I pushed another button and it changed it to a different language!


I turned off the computer and finished up my cleaning with the q-tips and then wiped everything down with a rag and cleaned the screen too.


These are the very gross looking q-tips when I was finished – yuck!

And here’s a close up of the keys AFTER:


Not 100% dust-free/factory new, but still, quite an improvement. And anyway, I’m not really sure how else I could have cleaned between the keys.

In other news…

I stopped at Big Lots today (a new one just opened up nearby) and I found a great deal on some snacks for Benjamin.

IMG_11602 Earth’s Best Organic Happy Snax for $1.00 each! I consider that a deal, so I snapped up two of them.

And he was quite a fan :).


How did you do on the last task?? Any tips on how to clean your keyboard??


msm cleaning

Challenge #29: Clean one thing (such as a dresser drawer, microwave, oven, etc).

Today I chose to clean out my craft cupboard. You have already seen the craft suitcases, but there is more (oh so much more!) craft stuff. It’s not really that the cupboard is so large or so badly disorganized. It’s actually the opposite problem. It’s quite small and it doesn’t take much to get it looking bad!

The cupboard does double duty as the changing table in Benjamin’s room.


In case you are wondering, that’s a monkey pillow pet for him to rest his head. He seems to do much better when it’s there. (Thanks Aunt Lynn!!).

I have the doors secured, but so far he hasn’t seemed interested in getting in to the drawers.


Inside the cupboard: BEFORE


Inside the top left drawer: BEFORE


Inside the top right drawer: BEFORE

The drawers’ “unofficial” main function is basically to hold anything that I’m too lazy to put away in to the proper bin, or something that likely has no home. As such, they are generally a mess.

I didn’t clean through every bin in the cupboard. They are pretty well labeled and organized inside. Instead I tried to stay focused on putting away stray items and cutting out some stuff that either can go back to the suitcases (larger paper scraps and cutouts) or to the bin in the garage (contact paper, old books to be used for a yet-to-be-determined project, and a few empty (but useful) boxes). And I did throw out/put in the donate box a handful of things that I have not used or needed to use in a long time.

So here’s the after (about 30 minutes of sorting):


AFTER: Labeled bins, photo albums and paper – that’s it!


AFTER: Top left drawer. I think I might make this my “project in-process” drawer

I put the paper cutter in the drawer because I use it often and wanted to make it easier to grab.  The two packages of felt are (supposed) to be used for busy bags, and the heart picture frame will eventually have a photo (or similar) in it and be hung on the wall in Benjamin’s room because it color-coordinated well.

And those things in the back left….


A small collection of “lids” from baby wipe packages. I have been saving (some) of them with the intention of doing something. I think maybe a busy bag? All I know is that they are good for something because Benjamin LOVES to open and close them. But for now, they stay in the drawer.


AFTER: Top Right Drawer – just a glue gun, extra glue stick and a large package of popsicle/craft sticks from Dollar Tree

I am happy with the fruit of my labor. Now the real test will be to see how long I can keep it that way…

In other news, Benjamin got some “new” hand-me-down blocks from a very kind friend, and he LOVES them! If he isn’t dumping and throwing them, he is dragging around the wagon full of them.


Doesn’t he look happy?? 😉

What did you clean out today? Any ideas on what to use baby wipe lids for??

msm cleaning

Challenge #26: Surface clean a bedroom or the bathroom(s) or you can vacuum and/or sweep the floors in the house

I can’t believe there are only a few more days left in this challenge! I have really loved the motivation not only to clean but to blog daily about something :).

I wasn’t sure which task I wanted to chose for today, but then Benjamin decided to give himself an oatmeal shower at breakfast this morning (not unlike any other morning really, but this time it happened to involve peanut butter), so there was definitely a bath in his future. So while the little guy was having a good old time in the tub, I decided to take advantage of my mandatory lifeguard duty and clean the bathroom at the same time. I can’t say that it was super dirty or anything, but I hadn’t been keeping up with my daily wipe down either. This challenge has really forced me to keep the floors cleaner (woohoo!), so this ended up being super easy. I just sprayed everything down, scrubbed out the toilet, wiped up the dust/hair on the floor and cleaned the mirror. And that was it! Done before bath time was over :).


Bathroom – BEFORE


Bathroom – AFTER

I also spent a few minutes sweeping the kitchen/dining room tile and putting away some clothes that ended up on the couch.

Now I get to spend the rest of the day enjoying the beautiful weather and playing with Benjamin. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend :).

Which project did you choose today? Are you happy or sad that the challenge is almost over??


msm cleaning

Challenge #25: surface clean or deep clean your kitchen and/or living room

OK, so I should have looked a head to today, and then I could have saved cleaning out under the kitchen sink for today instead of doing it yesterday!

Oh well. I guess now I get to be creative.

I made a plan to set the timer for 20 minutes and do the following:

  • Clean kitchen windows inside & outside
  • Clean dining room sliding glass doors inside & outside
  • Sweep Tile (again!)
  • Spot clean anything dirty or sticky on the tile
  • Clean stove top (as best as I can in the allotted time – it’s pretty bad, so who knows??)
  • Move everything and wipe down counter tops
  • Straighten up utensil drawer

Stove Top – BEFORE


Utensil Drawer – BEFORE

And here is after a bit of work…


Stove Top – AFTER

The stove top is not as good as it could be. I mainly just got the “gunk” off the drip pans. I don’t know how to get the baked on stuff off…any suggestions?? I have tried many, MANY different things, and still…nothing. Maybe I should just get some new drip pans??


Utensil Drawer – AFTER

I finished everything else on the list too, and had a clean kitchen once again.

And then Benjamin…


his after-nap smile 🙂


…what happens when mommy asks “where’s your belly button?” and he’s wearing a onesie 🙂


his favourite seat in the house – right by the (clean!) dining room doors.

Did you spend any time in the kitchen today? Any tips on cleaning the stove top drip pans??(I seriously need some help!!).

msm cleaningCleaning Challenge #24: Clean your linen closet

So….I have already cleaned all TWO closets in my whole house. What to clean, what to clean?? (Personally I believe that this is a GOOD problem to encounter!).

But I looked around anyway and I then decided to clean out under my kitchen sink. I already clean it out about twice a year. So I guess this counts as the first :).


under the kitchen sink – BEFORE

It gave me the opportunity to wipe everything out and evaluate my cleaning products, as well as whip up a new batch of all-purpose cleaner. I’m trying to switch out my products for all-natural/homemade products. I’m not quite there yet, but as I run out of something I try to replace it with something better. The only thing I can’t seem to find a good recipe for is dish soap. If anyone knows of a good mix – please share!!


my homemade cleaners

I finally wrote the names of the cleaners on the spray bottles along with the ingredients – yay for me!


under the kitchen sink – AFTER

I like keeping the cleaning supplies in a caddy so I can grab everything at once to clean the bathroom. I keep all my sponges, smaller cleaning supplies, samples, etc. in the plastic box with a lid on it just in case the sink ever leaks. That way it won’t ruin everything down there if it does.


And as a reward for a job well done I indulged in a Coke (something I rarely do, but I got it free at Stater Bros. this week! Can’t pass up a free Coke!)

How often do you clean out under your kitchen sink? Do you have any neat tips or tricks for organizing your cleaning products?

msm cleaningChallenge #23: Sweep and vacuum all the floors in your house

I decided to stay focused on one area today: The Dining Room.

I do try to sweep the tile in the kitchen and dining room daily, but that doesn’t always happen. Also, I *hate* mopping the tile – almost as much as I hate cleaning the bathroom!– so it doesn’t get done very often, even though it’s on my weekly chore list ;). Tackling the Dining Room and tile today seemed like a good move.

Here’s the before of the table and floor (although you can’t really see how dirty it was!)


Dining Room – BEFORE

I cleared the table and put everything away (including Benjamin!), moved all the chairs out of the dining room, swept the floor, and then mopped all the tile.

And here’s the table and floor after some good old-fashioned elbow grease


Dining Room – AFTER

The roses are from the bushes on on our front patio. My husband cut them yesterday and made me a beautiful centerpiece. (I’m pretty sure it’s because he’s in love with me ;).)


sweet, homegrown roses

And here’s what the munchkin was doing while I was cleaning


Pretending to sleep!

In other news…

We had another baby-proofing fail. 😦


What did you work on today? How do you stay motivated to clean your kitchen floor regularly??


msm cleaning

Challenge #20-22: Surface Clean Living Room and Kitchen, Surface Clean the Bathroom, or Surface clean the Bedrooms

The kitchen, living room, and bathroom actually stayed pretty clean over the weekend. A nice benefit of participating in this challenge,  I guess 🙂 .

Benjamin’s room wasn’t too bad. We have been working on implementing “clean up before bed”, which usually means mom and dad are putting away the toys while Benjamin watches. We’re working on it ;).

But I still did some general straightening, dusting, and vacuuming of the floor, as well as vacuuming the edges of the room (which REALLY needed it!).

My Little Helper

I had some more help with the vacuuming — I think he is actually a little afraid of it when it’s on – I usually find him hiding ion the kitchen when I use it!

Here’s the Before of the bedroom:

Bedroom - BEFORE

Bedroom BEFORE: not too bad

I also decided to tackle the bedroom closet. It really is a hodge-podge place to store anything and everything, not dissimilar to the hall closet, except for the addition of clothing. I kind of did everything all at once, so here goes.


My Side of the Closet – BEFORE

Jewelry Center

This is my jewelry area. I made the necklace hanger out of an old ruler and repurposed paper clips.

Nathans Side - BEFORE

This is Nathan’s side BEFORE

Closet Idea

I just started doing this again with all my clothes. I turn the hangers around so they are hanging on the rod backwards. As I wear an item and return it to the closet I turn the hanger back the right way. At the end of the year, I can see what I wore and what I didn’t, making clearing out the closet even easier, since I don’t have to remember if I actually wear a certain item.

This is our DVD collection, which used to be twice as big. Since we got rid of our TV last spring, we have thinned the herd a few times. But we still want to keep these, at least for now. We do watch movies on our computer, so they aren’t completely useless (yet)! One of the reasons I decided to tackle the closet today is to empty these bins and put them in to the closet.


Benjamin loves to play with the DVD’s. I think he believes that they are all his.

Which I did :). All alphabetized (of course!), and very accessible.

Dvd Storage

My Side - AFTER

My Side of the Closet – AFTER

Nathans Side - AFTER

Nathan’s side of the closet – AFTER

All the diapers and wipes got moved to the empty wicker hamper in front of the sliding doors to free up room for storing clothes that are too big for Benjamin. Not loving the white basket for storage, but it’s all I have for now. And as you can see, we have some room left over too – yay!

Bedroom - AFTER

The Bedroom – AFTER all of my cleaning

Moving out or Getting Rid of

This is what I am moving to the garage (there’s room in there!), and a few things that I’m getting rid of.

It was such a productive morning that we went on a walk through the park to celebrate.

Morning Walk

Look at the cute smile 🙂

What did you do today? Clean out any closets? Do you have any tips for closet organization?

msm cleaning

Day 19 Challenge: Clean your entryway, sweep your garage and/or vacuum out your car

I would vacuum out the car, but we only have one and it is gone with my husband at work :).


this is where the car would be 😉

So instead I decided to clean out the stroller


You would not believe how many cheerios fell out of this thing! I could hardly believe it myself!

It looks so much better without cheerios, leaves, and crumbs in all the crevices. It also got a good wipe down with a damp rag. Ahh, much better :).

One of my goals for this year is to clean out and organize the garage. Nathan and I have been working on this goal as we have time. Sometimes we take 15 minutes and just make decisions, while other times we spend a few hours going through boxes and bins. It has been a work in progress for what feels like forever! And we did make significant progress on the garage this past weekend (when we thought we were getting a second fridge), so it has recently had some cleaning.

So here are the BEFORE pictures (blech.):


The shelf wall BEFORE. Ideally, I would love to only need half of the shelves and just get rid of all the junk!


The “Get Rid Of It!” Pile. I am SOO not a fan of having this pile in the garage!!

Now, I know that the task for today was to sweep out the garage, but I decided to spend a little bit of time sorting out the “Get Rid of It!” Pile.

This pile is a junk heap of: donate, sell, give back to rightful owner, give to someone who said they wanted it, and evaluate for trash.

I got going with this project, and it really didn’t take me long to process each item.


Here it is “in-process”


A full view of the garage when the door is open


Donate Pile


Sell Pile


things for Nathan to decide on


Junk pile wall AFTER – only the “To Sell” pile remains!


The Shelf Wall AFTER: It doesn’t look a whole lot different, but I did do some organizing. Over half the stuff is baby/kid stuff, so I’m not really able to do much with that for now.


Here’s what I swept up off the garage floor.

I will be donating my pile tomorrow, and Nathan said he would evaluate his items tonight. And I have decided to try my hand at selling some items on Craigslist. But since I have wanted to do that for over a year, I am imposing a goal of selling the stuff by May 31st. Otherwise, it’s being donated! And the recycling will be going back…soon.

There’s still more to do in the garage…but I am happy with what I accomplished today :). I still hope to have a really good photo to show off in a few months when the garage is COMPLETELY done!

And for those interested, here’s what Benjamin was up to today…


Here’s my little escape artist at work…


…and proud of it!

What did you tackle today? Anyone sort out a pile in the garage, or clean cheerios out of their stroller??

msm cleaning

Challenge #18: clean out your refrigerator and/or organize your pantry

I can honestly say that I have a love/hate relationship with my pantry. When it’s clean and organized and running great, I’m in love with it. But when it gets crowded and disorganized and haphazard, I HATE going in there! Maybe I’m just a fair-weather friend?

Either way, it’s another one of those tasks that I tend to put off until “sometime soon” comes around.

So I guess today is that day 🙂 .

Lets have a look:



This is another project that my husband worked on and made awesome :). You might notice if you look closely that there is a hole cut out specifically for the vacuum cleaner handle. Totally custom! {and totally necessary, since neither of us factored it in to the original design! 🙂 }.

And here are the shelves up close and personal:


Top 2 Shelves BEFORE


Bottom 2 Shelves BEFORE

I didn’t empty everything completely because I had just done that a few weeks ago. I mainly grouped stuff together and finished labeling everything neatly. I like the shoe boxes and moveable baskets because the cupboard has very deep shelves. If I can move a whole basket at once, it makes it a lot easier to find a runaway can of beans.

Here’s what the main pantry looked like after:


Pantry AFTER

And more closely…


Top 2 Shelves AFTER


Bottom 2 Shelves AFTER

I love using clear shoe boxes, and of course, I LOVE my labeler! {Does anyone else love their labeler??}.

IMG_0871 IMG_0878

And here is the Baking Cabinet. Technically part of the pantry, but it’s not too exciting since I didn’t do any cleaning — it always looks like this.


And this is my additional storage for canned soups and chili


This is actually a drawer from one of those Rubbermaid chest of drawers. It fit perfectly and I really like it! It makes it so easy to see at a glance how much of something I have on hand, and even better, I don’t have to get down on the floor to find something in the back of the cupboard :).

I cleaned out the fridge too, but it’s boring in there so I will spare you a photo ;).

So how did you do on today’s challenge? Do you love or hate to clean out your pantry? Does any one else have “labeler love” out there??



msm cleaning

Challenge #17: wipe down your doorknobs and light switch plates

Today’s challenge was a quick one – yay!

I started out with two nice bright white rags and a bottle of homemade cleaner.


And then cleaned all the door knobs first before moving on to the switch plates. My Dining Room switch plate is part of the large mirror that takes up most of one wall. When looking at it critically, it seemed to be the worst of them all.


Ignore the junk on the table in the reflection!

I took off the cover. It was pretty dusty and yucky behind it. I don’t think that I have ever taken the cover off once in the five years we have lived here.


I used the vacuum cleaner hose, a dry toothbrush, and some toothpicks to get all the junk off the switches and the dust behind the switches too.

And then…

IMG_0784 IMG_0785

All clean 🙂


Proof I actually cleaned! note: most of the really dirty stuff was on the outside door knobs!

After the quick(ish) task of cleaning the doorknobs and switch plates was complete, Benjamin and I spent some time playing before afternoon nap.

We played with Thomas…


…And then of course we had to taste Thomas…


we read a few books…

IMG_0847 IMG_0831

…and we were very happy taking pictures…


…until it was nap time {Poor little guy is teething now and just won’t stop drooling, hence the drool on his romper today}.


sweet dreams little guy 🙂

Happy to have another spring cleaning item crossed of my list :).

How did you do on this challenge today??