Dishes and kitchen chores

dishwashing (2)A friend of mine and I both live alone. You’d think it’d be simple to keep up on dishes for just one person, but we both have found ourselves struggling with dirty dishes piling up in the sink and on the counter. I started paying attention to my actions in the kitchen, and I may have found the answer(s) to my dishes situation.

  1. I realized I wasn’t emptying the dishwasher right away after it was done running its cycle. The dishwasher would sit full of clean dishes, thus not allowing me to place new dirty dishes into the dishwasher. So the new dirties ended up in the sink. “I’ll get to the dishwasher later.” When I finally did make the effort to get caught up on dishes, not only did I need to fill the dishwasher with new dirties, I also had to empty it of the clean dishes first, making the chore that much bigger (and less likely to be done).
  2. When I’d finish a meal, I’d walk over to the sink and think, “It’s just one plate (cup, fork, bowl, whatever), so I’ll just set it down here by the sink and get to it later.” Several meals later of “waiting until later,” I would end up with a good amount of dishes piling up in the sink or on the counter. The easiest thing is putting it into the empty dishwasher, but since that usually hasn’t been option (see #1 above), how hard is it to handwash a single plate, cup, and fork? Yeah, you guessed it, “I’ll get to it later.”

When I had three kids and a husband at home, we needed to keep up on the dishes, because if we didn’t, we’d run out of clean dishes completely after just a couple of meals. Plus there were extra hands working on the chore, not just me. But living alone, there’s no worry that I’m going to run out of dishes, so it became easier to just put off the dishes until later.

My friend is also going through a similar situation of not having anyone else in the house after 18 years of other people using the dishes, too. It really is a different ballgame when you’re taking care of one person rather than a family. And if you’ve been trained over years and years of feeding a crowd, feeding and cleaning up after one person is more difficult than I would’ve thought.

I may write a short series of posts about some of the changes that happen when you suddenly find yourself living alone or with an empty nest for the first time. Any interest? This dishes scenario would be Part One.

Anyone else out there struggle with dishes or other kitchen-related chores? Any tips you’ve found helpful? Or particular problems you face?

Maybe we can all brainstorm in the comment section about dishes. I know I’d appreciate hearing other people’s tips/ideas.


My current inspiration …


Wish my cats did this!

Several people have told me that these posts I’ve been writing about my on-going struggle with my messy house have been inspiring. We all need inspriation, right? My inspiration started last month when I realized I wanted to try a new chicken recipe and share it at dinner with a friend of mine. But I realized I was too embarrassed to have her (one of my dearest friends) into my house for a strictly casual meal. She’s been so sweet about it, very encouraging. The other day she told me, “Just close the doors on the rooms you don’t want me to see. I promise I won’t snoop.” But how do I close the door on the living room or kitchen when my house is open concept? 😉 Anyway, my inspiration continues to be wanting to cook that chicken dinner. When I finally make it, I’ll share the recipe here if it turns out well.

I’m in the process of writing another post about how I figured out where to start, so perhaps that will be helpful for some people. I know I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do first. My focus is going to change this week, however, from inside the house to outside. I just got a notice from our property managers (I live in a nice 55+ mobile home park), and we need to have our lots looking spic-and-span by mid May for property inspections. So I switched my priorities. Yesterday I spent most of the day weedeating the long grass in the ditch behind my home, and then did some weeding by the house. Today I cleaned the carport (put things away, swept, hosed down everything, washed the car). And started weeding in another spot.

On Friday I’m hiring a girl to come help me with some of the things requiring bending or lifting that my hip won’t allow me to do. I’m fortunate in many ways that I have the time to dedicate to these projects (semi-early-retirement due to health issues). But I also need to be careful not to over-exert myself. It’s a careful balancing act some days.

My office is one of my upcoming projects. I really need to be able to get back in there to access supplies and materials. I keep having to buy new things because the things I already have are buried. A lot of it happened at the holidays when I just sort of used my office as a dumping ground for things that needed to be moved around for holiday displays. Then when the holidays were over, I was just too tired to deal with everything so I tossed the holiday stuff into my office, too. I’ve cleared a path so I can walk into the middle of the room now, but nothing’s useable. Maybe I should take a photo of the “before” and then again after I have my office back.

Do you think it would be helpful and/or inspiring for people to see what a mess it was (currently still is), and how with a little work you can get a lot done you when you focus on one thing at a time, a little bit at a time?

It helps me to know if it helps others when I share these sorts of things.


I’m back … I think. :)

I started posting housework themed posts on my Facebook page, and suddenly I found this blog coming back to life.  People have been reading the posts and pages, downloading and printing out the chore charts, and telling me how my openness about homemaking struggles are such an inspiration to them.

Wow.  And here I’d thought about shutting down this blog at the first of the year when I was making decisions about my online presence going forward.

I’m going to start posting my thoughts and experiences here, as well as my Facebook page, so you’re bound to be able to keep on things, one way or the other.

I recently started learning to watercolor, so now I have an additional thing I need to keep organized and clean:  art supplies!  I don’t have a dedicated spot for doing art, so it takes over my kitchen table.  Sometimes I feel as if I spend more time taking out and putting away my painting supplies than I do actually painting.  Suggestions welcome.  Ideally when I get my decluttering and cleaning caught up, I’m going to turn to the spare room into a art/craft/sewing room.  But that’s probably several months away.

Let me know if you’re out there reading this.  Just a quick comment to say hi would be awesome!  😀


Floyd the Flamingo


My current inspiration to clean …

broom-womanI’ve been off school for the summer and enjoying the unusually nice weather we’ve been experiencing (but now with all the fires in Washington State, it’d be great if the rains returned ASAP!).

I’ve actually been accomplishing a lot of decluttering and cleaning this summer.  I decided not to share my process here, though, until I knew it was actually going to work.  I was tired of seeing my best intentions end up being for nothing.  Again. And again.  And AGAIN.

So, what’s been my secret to actually getting all those things accomplished that I’d been putting off for a long time?

Binge watching the TV show, Hoarders.


the hoarder in you book coverI also read a book this summer by one of the psychologists who work with the show (The Hoarder in You by Robin Zasio) and realized that without too much effort, I had the potential to become something more than just a regular messy and unorganized person.

That was eye-opening.

And more than a little bit scary.

Hoarding often begins with some sort of trauma and loss (which I’ve definitely had my share of the past ten years or so).  Hoarding is sometimes an expression of fear of losing something else.  And hoarding is often the result of just being so overwhelmed by life that you give up.

Yes.  Yes.  And yes.   I’ve felt all of those things.

But I realized this summer while watching the show that I can actively choose to let go of the things and the stuff and the clutter that was starting to find it’s way into my home.

A bit about me and why I  ended up with so much clutter:  After for a few years working at an antique mall and buying/selling items, I’d accumulated a lot of things that were being stored for resale later.  When I returned to college full-time, I stopped working the resale/antique business, but still had a large accumulation of things that I just had a difficult time parting with, or even actually identifying as “junk” or “clutter” since the items had been originally purchased for business purposes.

I had an “Ah ha!” moment recently and realized that the investment I’d made in those items was just a business loss, and I needed to move on and let them go. All of them. Books, decorative objects, art, random furniture, dishware, china, kitchen gadgets.  All wonderful and useful (and even valuable!) items. BUT they had become nothing more than clutter in my life and my home, and it was time to release them back to the thrift stores from whence many of them came originally.

I found that there were quite a few people on Hoarders who had previously been resale, antique, or junk dealers whose homes had become their storage and staging area for their businesses, and then basically the business inventory had overrun their home and their lives.  I was well on my way to becoming one of them.

Honestly, I still have trouble when I stop by a thrift store or a garage sale to keep myself from thinking, “Oh, I could sell this!”

And yes, I probably could sell it.  And at a profit.

But I’m not doing the business anymore, I don’t want to do it anymore, and so I consequently need to stop the habits of mind that led to the accumulation of too much stuff in my life.

This summer I’ve also sorted through my personal bookshelves.  No easy task — I had over 3,000 books!  I still have a lot of books, but I actually emptied several bookshelves, and feel much happier about the collection I currently have.  There were a lot of books I no longer agreed with and that actually made me somewhat upset when I’d see them on my shelves.  So why was I keep them if I felt unhappy when I looked at them?  Because they’re BOOKS.  And I LOVE books!  But I realized this summer that not all books are created equal, and that some are actually damaging to my personal well-being.

So this is a long, rambling post about how I’ve been spending my summer.  Reading, binge-watching Hoarders, cleaning, decluttering, and enjoying the sunshine.  Not a bad way to spend the time off before my last year of Grad School.

There’s actually been something very healing about the process, too.  I feel stronger.  Lighter.  Happier.

It’s a good thing.  🙂

Off and running! Not.

So, did you read yesterday’s post?  I was all excited about starting a new month, a new week, a new Monday, a new weekly Chore List.

Hm. Nice thought, right?

Well, this is what the day was going to look like:

Everyday Chores:
[ ] Make bed.
[ ] Fill/run/empty dishwasher.
[ ] Clean kitchen sink/counter.
[ ] Sweep kitchen floor.
[ ] Ten Minute Tidy of living areas.
[ ] Empty garbage(s).

Monday’s Chores:
[ ] Clean fridge.
[ ] Clean fingerprints off doors, switches, and appliances.
[ ] Check pantry and kitchen cupboards for empty boxes/bags on shelves.

But this is what my chores today actually looked like:

  • [X] Emptied dishwasher.
  • [X] Ran another load of dishes (which I didn’t empty).
  • [X] Vacuumed the living room carpet.
  • [X] Did a haphazard Ten Minute Tidy.

::: sigh :::

I was totally overwhelmed with the last week of school and the pending homework/deadlines.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  😉

Tomorrow is another day.

Contest for a book giveaway of one of my books

41rIlTMZdiLThroughout the month of June 2015, to celebrate the beginning of summer, I’ll be running a series of giveaway contests.  During the last week of June, there will be a Grand Prize so you’ll want to stay tuned.  🙂

The first book to be given away will be an autographed paperback edition of my newly re-released book  The Original Simple Mom’s Ideas Book: Hints and Hacks for Home and Family.

All you need to do in order to enter the contest is submit Your Favorite Frugal Tip in the comment section of the following blog post:

And if you didn’t know I’d started a small publishing venture, here’s a quick history of what’s up:

Tomorrow’s the first Monday of a new month

de-clutter-mmAs soon as Grad school started up last fall, I promptly let this blog sit all alone with no updates, etc.  It was unused and unloved throughout the entire school year.  Poor little bloggy thing.

Anyway, today I realized that tomorrow will be the first Monday of a brand new month, and I thought I remembered writing a post about a similar situation last summer.

Yep, I did.

So here’s the link to last year’s post (that could just as well be today’s post).

Care to join me in implementing the Chore Lists afresh? 🙂

Doing dishes …

dishwashing (2)by Debi

In her essay, “Trouble Man,” Dodie Bellamy states, “I’m a lousy housekeeper, and by the end of the week dishes are stacked on every available surface of my kitchen.”

Me, too. Surprisingly, even with an automatic dishwasher, the plates, cups, pots, and pans still pile up.  My problem is that the dishwasher needs to be emptied prior to loading in some fresh dirty dishes.  Maybe it’s not so much that I’m a lousy housekeeper, but that I’m a lazy one?  Emptying the dishwasher just seems like too much work.  In reality, it isn’t a lot of work when I actually do it, but my mind tends to make emptying the dishwasher seem like a huge task looming over me that will somehow disrupt my entire day.

Bellamy listens to Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack while she’s getting caught up on the week’s backlog of dried on kitchen gunk.  Sometimes I listen to music, too—my favorite dishwashing CD is the soundtrack to the No Reservations movie.  But usually I listen to the soundtrack in my head.  Either a song stuck in my brain, or just my quiet ruminations on life.

There’s something soothing, almost mesmerizing about doing dishes. The mindlessly repetitive, rhythmic movements.  The warm water and fragrant bubbles.  It’s satisfying to take the kitchen from complete disarray, and return it to a clean, shiny state.  Is that why I procrastinate?  Is it less satisfying on some internal level to just do little clean-ups here and there, but never have the transformational experience that comes from a complete overhaul?

Many things I’ve written have developed after a time of quiet personal reflection—believe it or not, usually while standing at the sink up to my elbows in warm, soapy water, gently scrubbing my plates and glassware.  Standing in one place, actively involved with a mindless physical activity, seems to release something creative in my mind.

Many writers over the centuries have used the mindless activity of walking as a physical meditative process.  For me, while I thoroughly enjoy a good walk, I tend to get so caught up in the sights and sounds, people and birds, creatures and weather around me, that my mind isn’t quite as free to wander as it is when I’m staring at a corner and small window of my kitchen.  The kitchen almost works as a sensory deprivation chamber.  There isn’t much to see, or hear, or experience.  Just the warmth, the steam, the water, the suds, the rhythms of the washing.

I wonder why I delay doing the dishes when it’s such a fruitful, creative time for me?  I have no answer.

But on that note, I have dishes awaiting me.  Meditation time draws nigh.

Too much stuff

Interesting article from the Seattle Times this week  …

Too much stuff: We collect it all our lives, then what?

Update after the clothing purge …

If you missed the post about how I purged my clothes closet, start HERE.   Then be sure to come back.  🙂

Today I felt regret for the first time about something I’d gotten rid of in the Great Clothing Purge.  I was looking at a fashion blog for women over 50 (yep, another sign I’m getting older) and there were some adorable outfits that I loved, but they all involved a blue jeans jacket.

I’d purged my denim blue jeans jacket.

Oh, the regret—  the remorse—

The pain of knowing it was gone.

But then I thought back as to why I’d sent it to Goodwill.  Did it bring me joy?  Well, yes and no.

Yes, I loved having a denim jacket and knew I could wear it with almost anything, BUT the jacket I had was actually a men’s jacket and didn’t fit well.  Whenever I would look at myself in the mirror while wearing it, I always felt like things looked nice … but …  the jacket was boxy.  I felt it made me look like a short, fat, almost-square person.  Not exactly the look I’m usually going for when I get dressed in the morning. 😉

I realized as I worked through my regret, that if I had a denim jacket that was cut for a woman’s body, I would wear it at least once a week, if not more.  Turns out, it wasn’t a matter of a blue jeans jacket not bringing me joy; it was a matter of the fit of the jacket not bringing me joy.

So I now have a new item on my shopping list:  A women’s tailored denim blue jeans jacket.  Something I know I will love, it will bring me joy. and I will wear it regularly.

Now I have joy again about that denim jacket which I had momentarily regretted parting with—the jacket taught me a valuable lesson which I can now take with me into the future of my shopping, my closet, and my clothing.