The Nina, The Pinta & The Santa…Cleana.

Nina-Pinta-SantaMaria-Vacuum-Cleaner

Cheesy title.  So cheesy.  But my South Philly Italian neighbors had me feeling a little festive for today’s holiday.  (Am I the only one who hadn’t heard of DECORATING for Columbus day before?!)  Today was the first Columbus day I’ve had off since I was about 18.  Seriously – we didn’t get off at Maryland (Go Terps!) and both jobs I’ve had since then didn’t recognize it as a paid holiday.  But today I was off, and it was much needed.  It’s been a really busy two weeks for me at work with some travel, a few presentations, and UAT on a big project (User Acceptance Testing for the non-geeks).  Throw in a first birthday party for my girl A and a shower for my girl J and I’ve been exhausted.  So today I slept in (thank you A!), squared away a few things for work in the morning, then totally checked out to spend the day tidying up our house, getting life organized again, and indulging in whatever it was that A was in the mood to do (playing with a shoebox for 30 mins straight, anyone?).  It was a perfect blend of productive and relaxing.  My kind of day.

I started out thinking I’d hit the grocery store and do some vacuuming.  KP is getting her winter coat and her summer coat is shedding everywhere.  I feel like the bottoms of my feet are growing hair they’re so covered in her fur.  It’s majorly disgusto.  But, as is usually the case, cleaning up one area led me to another problem area and then onto another.  And before I knew it I’d vacuumed the whole house, rearranged our pantry, fridge, and freezer, removed summer clothes from my closet, reorganized my dresser drawers, and straightened up A’s closet.  Ahhh.  I feel so much more in control now.  Organizing is totally my drug of choice.

Anyway, most of those tasks were pretty standard for me, i.e. things I do when I have a few mins and am in need of a quick organizing fix.  But the fridge/freezer was a new one, and I’m sure people who know me well are wondering where that one came from.  Well, since inquiring minds want to know, I was intrigued by this article I read on the train home from J’s shower in NYC yesterday.  I always knew that condiments went on the door since they don’t need to be kept as cold (door is always warmer!) and fruits/veggies went in the crispers down below, but I didn’t know some of the other tips in there – like milk/dairy on the bottom, in the back and to the left.  So I’m giving this new fridge layout a whirl to see how things work out.  So far I keep thinking we’re out of yogurt since it’s not where it normally is but it’s only been a few hours.  Patience isn’t my strong suit sometimes.

So that was my holiday.  I feel so much more well rested, and ready to tackle the rest of the work week.  It’s a good feeling.  Did anyone else set sail on some cleaning or organizing projects to honor Mr. Cristoforo Colombo?

Goal Post.

April Goals

With March coming to an end tomorrow, it’s time to set some goals for the month of April.  I took some time this week to write mine down in my beloved planner.  April showers bring May flowers, so we’re possibly looking at the most “fruitful” benefits to be reaped from this month’s goals!  As you can see in the close up of mine below, I’m really hoping to put our home projects to bed (no pun intended), switch over clothes for spring, and up the ante on my training for the 2012 Broad Street Run.  I took a hiatus from racing while pregnant last year, so this year’s BSR will be big for me.  I don’t think I’ll best 2008’s 1:15, but I’m hoping for sub-1:25.  Not quite there yet but we’re working on it.  Anyone have any good goals for April to share?  What about BSR goals?  Happy almost April!

April Goals Close Up

Halfsies!

Half Birthday HatIt’s hard for me to believe, but my little A’s first “half birthday” is tomorrow!  It totally blows my mind that she has been with us for 6 months already; how and when did that happen?!  But, I also can’t really remember life without her.  It’s a strange little dichotomy, isn’t it?  We are so lucky to have our little cute-ster in our lives, and she seems to be enjoying her time with us too.  She’s very curious about lots of different objects and noises these days, and loves putting anything and everything straight into her mouth.  She also enjoys babbling at us and has recently discovered that she can shriek really loud.  She giggles when B tickles her little neck, and is mesmerized by the noise KP’s collar makes when she does her morning scratch-and-shake routine.  Yep, life at 6 months is good.

So in honor of this major half-year milestone, I decided to come up with an official Keep It Neat list of suggested things to do every 6 months(ish) to keep your home and your life running smoothly and efficiently.  Enjoy!

General Home Maintenance:

  • Check your smoke alarm batteries – most people recommend doing this on the daylight savings dates.
  • Change the filter in your HVAC system – you can usually buy a new one at your local hardware store or at the big stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Target.
  • If applicable, change out storm windows/doors and replace with screens – it’s time to get fresh air into the house!
  • Give windows a good cleaning – if they have been shut all winter then they will really need it, and if they are about to shut for the winter it’s nice to send them off in clean style.

Kitchen:

  • Go through your fridge, freezer, and cupboards – toss very old food items and make a ‘donate’ pile for the non-perishables that you don’t plan to use.
  • While contents from above are out of their places, give these surfaces a good wipe-down.
  • Pay some attention to the inside of your oven – scrape off any charred bits that have stuck around (they could be dangerous if they catch on fire), and wipe down the wire racks.
  • Run a few lemon wedges through your garbage disposal to disinfect and keep things smelling fresh.

Bathroom:

  • Check your medicines and prescriptions – toss anything that is way past the expiration date.
  • Give your shower curtain a good cleaning – you can run almost any kind through the washer on a gentle cycle, and just let it hang outside for a bit to dry.
  • Keep your pipes clean – pour some Draino or Liquid Plumr down your tub drain to keep things moving.  Backed-up drains will cause dirty water to linger which can cause bacteria to stick around and build up.

Bedroom:

  • Do a seasonal review of your closet, storing things you won’t be needing and displaying things for the current season.  More details on this here.
  • Flip and rotate your mattress, if you’re into that kind of thing.  I will admit I never do it.  Yep, you caught me.

Life:

  • Rescue your photos!  Print or buy pictures you have taken on vacations at family/friends events, or even just around town.  Put them in a book to flip through, or put them out in frames.  Sometimes we are too caught up with digital pictures and we forget to actually do anything with them, other than email, post, and tag!
  • Computer cleaning – organize and store any important documents, delete old files that you don’t need,  clean out temporary internet files, run an anti-virus scan, run any necessary software updates, back up hard drive, etc.  Think about updating your background too, your eyes could probably use a change of scenery (literally).
  • Goals – update (or create) your list of both personal and professional goals for the year.  And add new ones as appropriate – you can never have too many goals.  But be sure to set priorities if you start to have a lot.  Goal achievement should be about quality, not quantity…

Did I miss anything? Anyone have any other things they like to do bi-annually to keep things in order?

Happy 6 months A!

Spring.

Philadelphia Inquirer - Colored Jeans Trend

I know, I can’t let it go.  First the Duchess, now the Inky!  Everyone wants a piece of new fashion trends sported by the very cool friends of yours truly.  Philadelphia is definitely not the most fashion forward city (I cannot even tell you how many people I pass on a daily basis,  in the heart of Center City, dressed like “The Nest of Death” below – who, by the way, is a real life Philadelphian that I found on Deadspin, aptly named “Sweatpants Guy”), but we are apparently catching on to this whole brightly-colored-clothing trend.  Check out this article from yesterday’s Inquirer talking about the colored jeans trend, how to wear them, and where to buy around these parts.

Philly Sweatpants Guy

Now believe me I’m not one to be doling out fashion advice, but this awesome summer-like weather we’ve been having has definitely made me ready for some pops of color in my own wardrobe.  I don’t think my lower half is up for the challenge right now, but I’ll probably “spring” some of my favorite brighter J.Crew blouses free from their winter hiding spots in the attic soon.  Better yet, I may even check out my favorite retailer’s current spring selection and treat myself to a new top or two.  Or four.  No, just kidding.  Sort of.  OK maybe just one new top.  But some new cardigans and flats are probably order to compliment it.  It was the official start to spring this week.  That’s a good reason, right?

J.Crew Bright Color Tops

J.Crew Bright Colored Flats

Questions Answered: Closet Cleaning.

We’ve gotten some great questions on our Ask Keep It Neat! page and via email (keepitneatblog@gmail.com).  We picked out a few that we felt warranted their own posts.  Today we answer Question #1:

Question:

Hi Keep It Neat!

Confession. I have an addiction to shopping, but I also have an addiction to holding on to clothes too long. I admit, I have jeans with tags on them from 3 years ago and clothes I haven’t worn in years. I keep thinking that “one day I’ll wear these” or “one day I’ll have a need for neon leggings”. What’s your advice to clean up your closet? How long do you hold on to your clothes?

Answer:

Let me first say this: I do not think you will ever have a need for neon leggings.  Unless maybe it’s Halloween, or 80’s theme day at work.  Considering I know where you work, I also know such a theme day will not happen.  Ever.  Now with that behind us, let’s focus on how to keep your closet in order!

I’ve heard before that the general rule of thumb for waiting to donate/toss something you don’t wear is one year.  So if you haven’t worn it in over a year, it goes.  But, I don’t know that I agree with such a strict cut-off.  When you do your next big closet cleanout, take everything you haven’t worn in over a year and put it aside.  Try on each item and think about why you haven’t worn it.  The trick here is to BE BRUTALLY HONEST with yourself, and it might even help to have a friend over while you do this to offer second opinions.  Use the following guidelines to put things into a few different piles:

1. If it’s something you currently love, but you haven’t worn it recently because it doesn’t quite fit, it’s OK to hang on to it for another go-around.  Note – if the piece really doesn’t fit, it needs to go.  Hanging on to things in hopes of “just losing 10 lbs” is just unhealthy.  Wear what fits and makes you feel comfortable now, and stop dwelling on jeans that looked slammin’ when you were 25.  Everything looked slammin’ when you were 25.

2. If it’s something you once loved, but don’t love currently even though it fits like a glove, evaluate further why you don’t like it at the moment.  Too trendy?  It goes.  Too “young” (mini skirt, short shorts, really tight/revealing top)? It goes.  If it’s classic but just not “you” right now, keep it.

3. If it’s something you once loved, but don’t love now, AND it doesn’t fit, it’s time to go.  If it falls in this category but has true sentimental meaning (like, oh I don’t know, an old sweatshirt from when your sorority and your then-boy-interest-and-now-husband’s fraternity did Greek Week together…), put it in a box or bin to store with other important clothes.  But really scrutinize what you put in here – it can’t be a catchall for things you’re being trigger-shy about giving away!

Keep in mind that it may not be enough to do this just once – you may have to go through the process a few times to whittle your piles down even further.  But at the end of the day you should be able to get rid of a decent amount of things and feel good about all that space you just freed up in your closet.  Good enough to go out and fill it back up with expensive jeans and neon leggings probably, but hopefully you will find it within yourself to refrain.  At least take a few minutes to soak in your clutter-free closet and congratulate yourself on a job well done.  And then you may get back to trolling the J.Crew Factory Outlet online…