Category Archives: Home Sweet Home

My House

Today, for the first time in a long time, I feel like writing. I always know it’s time when I start doing it in my head.

When Mike and I bought this house six years ago, we looked around at the laminate flooring, the big kitchen with lots of cupboards, the open space, bare walls and thought, “This is going to be wonderful.” It was so much bigger than our apartment (actually, it may possibly be smaller than the apartment, as the apartment building we were in only has two bedrooms in the 800 sq ft range and up) and we imagined having a kid or two more here and being very comfortable.

Well, here we are, three kids later, six of us in this house. And I still love it. I’m just ready to move on. I have various cupboards, rolling plastic drawers, file cabinets, shelves, etc. holding up all our stuff. This house would be perfect for a single person, an older couple without any kids at home, or a couple who have not had children yet. It was perfect for us with just Jenny, and if we had only ever had her, it may have been enough for us for a long time. But three little boys thrown into the mix and it’s getting to be time to move.

Trouble is, there’s just so much left to be done. There is work on the outside of the house, work on the inside of the house, painting, cleaning, organizing, and eventually packing – which I particularly dread. But I know it has to be done, all of it. We bought this house for next to nothing, really, and if we fix a few simple things, we should make around $100,000 on it. That’s a good chunk of change to put into a new house. But if we don’t fix things up, we’ll be looking at a good deal less. Putting less than $5,000 into the house to make around $20,000 (that’s just my estimate) seems worth it to me.

Anyway, in the middle of all the work that needs to be done, there are still dishes and laundry and sweeping up to do. And four little kids to take care of. And in another month, two of those kids to homeschool. So, right now, I’m praying for motivation, strength and patience. Motivation to keep up on my everyday chores, strength to make it through the next few months, which I’m sure will be tough, and patience with my kids, who will be caught in the middle of all this busyness and quite possibly will not like it one bit.

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For the record

Chocolate chip cookies made with part butter, part peanut butter are, in a word, fantastic.

Like, really, really good.

Mike said he doesn’t like them that much more than regular chocolate chip cookies, but I’m a big peanut butter fan, so for me, they were awesome. I will make them again. And again.

Here’s my recipe, in case you’re hunting for a good one. The best trick I know is to NOT overbake these. Pull them out when they are just barely brown on the bottom. They will actually be just undercooked inside, but not to the point of being doughy.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (or, if you like, Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

3/4 cup softened butter (or for the peanut butter variety, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup peanut butter)

1/4 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar

Blend butter and sugars with hand mixer until fluffy.

Add 1 egg and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups flour (I use unbleached all purpose), 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt (if you used salted butter or peanut butter, use 1/4 tsp salt). Mix dry ingredients into wet.

Fold in chocolate chips. I never measure them, but just make sure there is a decent amount mixed through the dough. I’ve also used peanut butter chips and they turn out double-yummy. Did I mention that I like peanut butter?

Round on spoon and drop onto cookie sheets. Bake for eight minutes (that’s how long they take in my oven, hey may take longer in yours). Allow cookies to sit on pan for one minute before removing to wire rack to cool.

I have adapted this recipe from one a dear friend gave me years ago. Thanks, Marcy!

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Filed under Food Blogs, Home Sweet Home

Paint

Paint is amazing. Primer, two coats of colour and my living room no longer looks like a run-down hotel room. Rearrange the furniture and it’s even better. My body is protesting after a few days of painting and cleaning and cleaning and painting…but it’s done. One room down, three (or four) more to go.

Oh, and my dear friend and her husband just had their first baby today, a girl. She was one of my bridesmaids and the first of any of them to get married and become a mama. I’m thrilled.

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Filed under Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Life, in general

Home Sweet Messy Home

We’re home. And it feels good to be here. Unfortunately, we came home with more stuff than we have room for. We also came home to a house that wasn’t all that clean to start with…so now it’s a total wreck.

I’m trying to chip away at the mess this week, but I’m still recovering from the nasty bug we all got when we were away, and so are the kids (which means grouches abounding). I’m tired and would really rather lie around all day. I have so much to do and wish it could be done this week, but I’m a realist and have to admit that there’s no way that’s going to happen. So I’ll just do what I can this week and try to work hard over the weekend when Mike is home to help with the kids.

No matter how messy it is here, it is good to be here…sleep in my own bed, cook in my own kitchen. Vacation was good, but I’m always happy to come back home.

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Filed under Home Sweet Home, The H Word, Holidays

My Feelings about Housework

Every so often, I think it’s a good idea to reflect back on the reason I started this blog, and in particular, the reason I named it what I did. I’m going on four years of blogging in June, and while I mostly talk about my kids and my “everyday life”, I still feel pretty much the same about housework. Otherwise known as “The H Word”.

Just before Christmas, I found a brilliant fridge magnet that sums it up: it says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste on housework”. My thoughts exactly. Thank you, fridge magnet creators. You read my mind.

I go back and forth between guilt and peace when it comes to the state of my house. It’s small, for one thing, so it’s very hard to keep clean. The lack of storage means that there is a lot of clutter. The four children under the age of six mean that there are lots of toys, book, clothes, etc. These factors make me feel okay about the way things are. I’m at peace with the fact that this is not the time in life to expect spotless floors and clear countertops. There will be crumbs on the floor and dust on the shelves. I have my hands full with the needs of my husband and children. And really, I would rather hang out with my kids than clean up after them. They’re only young for so long and then it’s gone.

The other side of this is the terrible thoughts I get when I imagine people dropping by unannounced. I imagine that pretty much everyone keeps their house cleaner than I keep mine. I know that it’s not true (um, have you seen Hoarders? Shudder…), but can’t help but think that way anyway. My mother and mother-in-law are both very neat people by nature who like things in their place. They don’t seem to mind a bit of cleaning, unlike me. I feel like pitching a fit every time I’m forced to do it. I feel better afterward, but feel like a pouty teenager when I’m in the middle of it.

I tell myself that things will be better when we have a larger home. Right now, we live in 768 square feet. Yes, it’s small. Very small, especially for six people. I wrote about that in a previous post, but it’s very relative to this subject as well. Maybe I use the size of my home as an excuse to avoid cleaning, but it works well enough for me.

Anyway, when it comes down to it, I try to do the basics. Keep the dishes and laundry done. Keep the bathroom from growing unidentifiable things in the corners. Make sure there aren’t too many things on the floor for Ben to munch on. It might sound lazy and irresponsible to some, but I know there are other people who feel the same way. There will be a time in my life when my kids aren’t home anymore, and maybe then I’ll spend more time on housework. Or, maybe I’ll spend all my time in my studio (the dream one), writing and creating. Who knows.

For now, I’m happy to spend my time getting to know my kids, who are growing up way too fast. Spending my free time using my brain instead of my elbow grease. I’m not alone in this, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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Filed under Home Sweet Home, The H Word

The Battle for Space

No, not outer space (sorry sci-fi fans).  Storage spaceLiving space.  I’ll explain.

I recently discovered, thanks to our yearly property assessment, the actual square footage of our house.  We bought this house in 2005 and somehow never knew the exact square footage.  That information, along with the year the house was built, had been “lost” according to the previous owners.  So we were given estimations – 800 square feet and built sometime in the 70s.  The figures were not far off, but still not quite right.

According to the property assessment information I found online, the actual square footage of our home is 768 square feet. The house was built in 1970.  The date doesn’t matter much to me, but I was quite surprised to find that I am living in 32 less square feet than I thought I was. 

But 32 square feet isn’t really much, right?  What difference could it possibly make to live in an actual 800 square feet instead of 768?

Well, 32 square feet is 4×8 feet.  A four foot by eight foot room would be quite narrow, but would make a great storage space.  Or, we could split that space up and make four small closets.  How about an extra bathroom?  From my rough measurements, our bathroom is around 5×8 feet.  Maybe we couldn’t fit a full sized bathtub in a second bathroom, but we could certainly fit a shower stall, toilet and pedestal sink in four by eight feet.

Honestly, I feel a little bit ripped off – here I thought I had more space than I actually have!  On the other hand, I’ve been receiving all sorts of comments about it from friends who live in more space but still feel cramped.  This makes me feel pretty good about managing to live in such a small space with four children.

What I keep explaining to people is that the problem with a small house and lots of kids is not the amount of people in the home, but the amount of stuff.  If we could just get rid of all our stuff (okay, most of our stuff?  some of our stuff?), we would have far more space, less clutter and no issues with storage problems.

So what kind of stuff is taking up all this precious space?  Well, here are just a few things we have a LOT of:

Games, movies, clothes, craft supplies, books, blankets, sheet sets, towels, small appliances, toys, gadgets (cameras, computer related items, etc), keepsakes.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  My house is full of junk.  Some of this junk I want to keep.  The books, games and craft supplies will stay, although it would be great to move some of them to a shed outside where we could have  easy access to them.  The games are kept in a six and a half foot tall bookcase that eats up a good piece of my living room, and while I don’t want to get rid of them, it would be nice to reclaim the space.  I know for a fact that we have more clothing than we need and more movies than we even watch – those could easily be picked through and slimmed down.

While I long for a larger house and all the trimmings (can you say “play room”?  craft space?  two bathrooms?  sigh…), I also wish to enjoy the time I have left in the space I currently have.  I constantly look around and let out heavy sighs at the clutter and mess in this house, and when it comes down to it, the mess comes from too much stuff.  I’ve also been wondering if we couldn’t last another year in this house, which would give us time over the summer to take care of landscaping issues and possibly give the house a new paint job on the outside.  It would also allow us to save more money to help with the costs of a new house being built.  This is still a new idea, and while it is a little bit scary, it’s also exciting.  What if we could weed out some of the stuff and make more living space available in this house?  Something to think about anyway….

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Drumroll please

Get ready for what might be the strangest thing you’ve ever heard from me.

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

Why, you ask?

Ready?  Are you sitting down?

I spent it cleaning.

Yep, that’s right.  I cleaned like a maniac.  Well, for me, anyway.  My kitchen was, to put it nicely, filthy.  It is now sparkly and clean.  Okay, so the counters, sink and stovetop are sparkly and clean.  I didn’t quite get to the floor. It felt so good to look at it after  hours of work (yes, hours) but the rest of the house was still trashed. I gave up for an hour or so and decided to put the rest off until another day.  Then Mike called at 4:45 and said he’d be home by 5:30 and I just knew I could finish it by then. 

So it’s still looking pretty cluttered in certain areas, but you can see the floor now and it’s not covered in crumbs and dust bunnies.

I get the feeling that regardless of what is wrong with me, this whole feeling down thing has become cyclical: I feel bad and so I don’t feel like cleaning my house.  I don’t clean my house, it gets messy, which makes me feel bad.  See what I mean?

Anyway, things aren’t perfect and I’m well aware that I’m still on a bit of a high from the results of my cleaning spree, but at least now I know.  Apparently a good bit of productive cleaning – not the kind where you just move the mess around – is good for my mood.

A small step.

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