Porch 5.0

Time flies pretty fast. One day you’re moving into your new apartment, and the next thing you know it’s been five years and you’re still in the same apartment!

Ok, so for some people this doesn’t seem like much cause for celebration but when you’ve moved as often as I have in the past fifteen years or so, staying in one place for five years feels like a real accomplishment.

One of my favorite things about where I live is my little patch of green in the city, my porch. It’s my number-one hangout from May-September (weather-permitting) and is the best place to read, write, draw, drink coffee or eating a meal. (Food has this way of tasting better in fresh air, doesn’t it?)

Even before I start getting my outdoors ready for spring, I started planning ahead of time the kind of plantings I want to do, and I go over last year’s notes to remind myself which plants were winners and which ones not to invest in again.

I get lots of inspiration, too, from browsing gardening books, and snooping other people’s gardens on Pinterest. I’ve got a couple of green-thumbed friends on Instagram that I like to steal ideas from as well.

Space, time and financial constraints mean that sometimes my plans aren’t always that elaborate, but I’m always trying to find a way to make things cozy. Thoughtful lighting, seating, plus special handmade gifts from artistic friends always seem to make an environment more inviting.

Here are some highlights from last year’s porch:

One of the many joys of last year’s garden was the amount of herbs that I was able to grow, and I’m excited to try more varieties this year, and start them earlier so they have more time to become healthy and strong. A lot of my planters need to be replaced after a damp, rainy winter so I’m excited to see how the landscape will change with some new additions.

The garden bug has spread to some of the other porches and balconies in my building, and we’ve already been in talks about making a more coordinated effort this year. After all, it is Canada’s bicentennial, and it’s always nice to have an excuse to do something special.

I may just have to break out a flag or two.

KBwB-BFlower-50How did your green space turn out last year? What did you learn? What are you looking forward to in your garden this season? Comment below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. And send your pics please!

If you’re looking for more outdoor and household projects, click here to see what I get up to around my home. I’m also usually on Pinterest hunting around for great decor ideas, both inside and out.

It Ain’t Easy Cleaning Green

“How do you find the time?”

“Doesn’t it cost more?”

“Why would you be bothered?”

These are some of the questions I get asked about my (mostly) eco-friendly cleaning routine. Some people seem surprised that this is important to me which puzzles me, because I can’t understand why taking care of our environment isn’t important to all of us.

Don’t worry- I’m not here as an ecological warrior, but as a blogger obsessed with trying to make her life more efficient and productive. I can tell you with confidence that making my cleaning routine greener has not been a waste of time or effort-if anything, it’s streamlined things even more.

Of course, sticking to a regular cleaning routine helps me avoid crazy deep cleaning sessions that in the long run saves me time and cuts down on the amount of cleaning products I use. That translates into more me-time, and more moolah in my pocket. Researching the best ways to clean has also spared me the extra time and effort I would have normally put into tackling the same spot over and over again.

Cutting down on the number of products that I use around my home has also saved me time, effort and money. You honestly don’t need twelve different cleansers for each individual room. Believe me, your cupboards will thank you too.

Making the switch to more eco-friendly cleaning materials has been pretty painless as well. In fact, I even make some myself. Some people may think making your own cleaning products is a drag, but you’d be surprised as how a few simple ingredients can go a long way. The few extra minutes it takes to mix up some new supplies is a trade-off for the money it saves you, plus it rids your home of nasty-smelling, potentially hazardous chemicals.

I still use paper towels to help out with the really heavy duty messes (keep in mind, I have a dog!) but I love using my reusable cloths and rags for all of my other cleaning needs. My mop heads are reusable as well, so everything gets dumped in the machine for a heavy-duty wash, separate from all of my clothes and nicer household items. They come out fresh and clean without me having to lift a finger (other than pushing some buttons).

But honestly? One of the greenest practices I’ve embraced is learning to live with the dirt a little bit. I always have people and dogs coming in and out of my place so over time I’ve come to accept the fact that it’s fruitless to expect the house to be perfect all of the time. I would end up spending all of my free time cleaning my home instead of enjoying it, and my time with guests would be ruined by my constant cleaning.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t clean your house, but lowering your expectations from hospital-clean to mostly clean saves you time, money, electricity and effort. Dare I say it? It also might make you a little bit happier.

KBwB-BFlower-50What are some of the ways you’ve adopted an eco-friendly approach to your cleaning routine? Let’s care for our houses and environments by sharing our tips with each other in the comment box below. Or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and I may include your thoughts in a future post!

The approach of spring has got me in the mood to chat about all things housecleaning all week long. If you’re feeling the same way, may I suggest this post, this post, this post, and this post for more ideas on how to refresh your home in time for the new season. If you’re feeling ambitious, click here or here on ways to get your household more organized.

 

Spring Cleaning for Superstars

If you’re reading this, I bet you like spring cleaning. I suspect that you’re interested in productivity and organizing just as much as I am, and if I’m right you’re here not because you don’t know how to clean, organize or be productive. You’re here because you want to do better.

Well, eager beavers: this one’s for you. There’s all sorts of weird and wonderful household tasks that often get neglected until they become a problem. A spring cleaning (or any seasonal cleaning routine for that matter) offers the opportunity to catch up on all those nasty little loose ends that we somehow miss.

You get a gold star if you’ve done any of the following:

  • Use a barely-damp microfiber cloth to wipe down light bulbs in ceiling or wall fixtures, and on your table and floor lamps. Keep your bulbs dust-free can actually improve the quality of light in your home.
  • Everyone’s favorite blue-and-yellow furniture store recommends tightening any screws and making adjustments to furniture once a year to prolong the life of your pieces and ensure your safety.
  • Toilet tanks need loving too: just strap on some gloves, grab a cloth or a sponge and give the inside a quick wipe to check for rust, mildew or calcium deposits. (All no-nos.)
  • Check electrical cords for dirt, grit, dust and any potential frays and tears. Just make sure everything’s unplugged before wiping extra-dirty cords down with a barely damp cloth (rubbing alcohol swabs or wipes are also good for particularly grimy areas).
  • Coffee grinders need a little bit of extra attention to keep things in tip-top shape. Pamper yours by cleaning the coffee grit out of the grinding mechanism, and off of any blades. (Again, please check that you’ve unplugged everything first.)
  • I always feel extra good about a spring clean if I’ve vacuumed and scrubbed the closet floor.
  • Keep shower heads and faucets flowing freely by filling a plastic baggie with white vinegar and using a rubber band to secure the bag around the faucet. Leave to soak and simply remove the baggie when done. Let the hot water run to clear away any residue.
  • Use spring cleaning time as an excuse to go over any home or appliance warranties, insurance policies or manuals to check for recommended service dates, etc.
  • Check batteries and service dates on all smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, alarms and extinguishers.
  • I run the risk of sounding like a Monica here, but when was the last time you cleaned your vacuum cleaner? Or any of your other cleaning appliances or tools for that matter?

If you’ve done any or all of these tasks, then you’re a spring cleaning superstar! And remember, a true spring clean doesn’t stop at your indoor space- it extends to the exterior of your home as well! Use the nice weather as an excuse to address any necessary home maintenance issues and then mosey on over here for some tips on how to get your gardens and patios ready for spring.

I can feel a change in the air already and the days are getting lighter. Oh, I’m sorry, that was just your awesome spring cleaning super power shining like the sun down from the sky!

KBwB-BFlower-50Congratulations! You’re a spring cleaning superstar. If you’re still feeling motivated to get things done, I’ve got more ideas on how to decorate and organize your household here, and more ideas about organizing your life here.

Still feel like you need to brush up on the basics? I’ve got some tips here on how to have the best spring clean ever, and here on how to develop a kick-butt cleaning routine of your own.