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A house neat enough to impress the 'Queen of Cats'

 

Last updated 1/4/2007 at Noon



When I was about seven I read the book “Cinderella” and remember being quite impressed with Cinderella’s remarkable housecleaning abilities. The book told that Cinderella’s stepmother made the girl clean and scrub until the house was “neat enough for the ‘Queen of Cats.’” At that age I realized that you had to wash dogs, but cats cleaned themselves. I also realized that Cinderella had done a pretty good job if she not only impressed the peon cat but the “Queen of Cats.” For some reason this story inspired me to keep my room clean. I wanted to be just like Cinderella and Cinderella not only cleaned her own room, she cleaned the whole house.

At age sixteen my parents sent me to modeling school in San Francisco, where I not only learned to how to model but was also schooled in the art of closet and house organizing. The organizing and cleaning curriculum was of greater interest to me than the study of modeling and I learned organizational skills that I still practice. None of this information is revolutionary, but it has proved useful over the years. I will incorporate some of these tips, as well as others, in this article.

Forget “spring cleaning” – I think “winter cleaning” makes more sense. The holidays are over and you need to take down the decorations and clean your house anyway. A fresh “New Year” attitude prevails. Also, we have enough days during the winter when we can slide open our windows and let the fresh flower-scented air in and the smell of the dry Christmas tree and stale poinsettias out.

Newspaper and junk mail management

During the holidays things are so busy that newspapers and mail seem to multiply and begin to take over if you don’t keep a handle on it. It is a good idea to set aside a few minutes each day to read the newspaper, save any interesting articles for later, then toss it in the recycle bin. Just don’t let your “articles saved for later” pile take over!

Unmanageable mail

In the last few years, junk mail has seemed to increase over its already incredibly unmanageable amount. To keep a handle on it I open my mail over the trash can in the garage, and then it isn’t allowed to take root in my living room or study.

‘Winter cleaning’ for closets

This might take a two-day weekend. Empty your closet and set up piles labeled “Keep,” “Donate” and “Toss.” Some advocate a “Sell” pile too, but in my case, I find that selling an item just doesn’t warrant the amount of energy expended unless the item is particularly valuable.

Vacuum the floor, dust the shelves and ready the closet for restocking. Portable shelves are easy to install and plastic drawers are handy too. You can find freestanding plastic drawers large enough for sweaters and pants or small enough for jewelry.

First, sort through your hanging clothes to see if there is anything that you haven’t worn all year, that you know you will never wear again, and deal with those items. Then do the same for shoes. I tend to hang onto shoes too long, so to actually take my shoes and look at them “up close and personal” I find that some are actually too worn to keep any longer. I use a cloth hanging shoe rack that is also good to store small purses. Padded hangers are good for clothes and don’t leave the marks that plastic hangers do, but if space is at a premium, realize that they do take up more closet space than metal or plastic hangers.

Kitchen organization

Pull out the dishes and utensils one cupboard at a time. This doesn’t apply so much to china or silverware that is not used very often, but to drawers with plastic items, cupboards with cans of food and other items. I have deep kitchen drawers where things tend to get lost in the black hole in the back. Dragging out some of those items once a year is good for me. I ask questions like, “Do I really need this sun tea jar from the ’90s?”

Everyone has odd kitchen items that you rarely use, have never used or never intend to use. It’s time to let someone else store them! When it comes to re-stocking your kitchen items, “Lazy Susans” come in handy. I use them for canned food as well as for spices and even coffee mugs. It has been said that Thomas Edison invented the “Lazy Susan,” naming it after his daughter. Thanks to Tom, my spices and other items are now more readily available!

Bathroom organization

It is easy to keep an above-sink cabinet organized, but it is more difficult to keep an eye on what is going on below the sink. You will be surprised, like I always am, to discover what has somehow gotten shoved to the back: expired insect repellant, bottles of glass cleaner with one inch of fluid left in the bottom and two half-filled bottles of rubbing alcohol. Also, over the year, I seem to collect more than my share of those little hotel bottles of shampoo and have found that the Angel Shop of Fallbrook will take them off my hands and then deliver them to Casa de Emparo, a shelter for battered wives and their children.

A clean, organized house gives one a feeling of satisfaction and enables you to focus on other projects. When I leave my house for the day and it is in order, my heart is light with contentment.

 

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