Spring Cleaning: Computer + Internet

Yay, the dining room’s done!!! So now what?  Nothing quite as dramatic unfortunately, but still important house things.  I want to get the entry way and upstairs hallway painted (walls + trim), tackle some landscaping now that the weather’s getting nice,* give the micro-bath a mini makeover, and, of course, tackle some Spring Cleaning.

Dun dun DUUUN

I don’t know what it is about the change to spring that prompts the crazy cleaning sprees in everyone, I mean, wouldn’t winter make more sense because everyone’s holed up inside with nothing better to do anyway?** Maybe it’s because you’re finally able to open up windows and air everything out, and the outside seems all clean and fresh so people suddenly get the urge to keep up.  Either way, I don’t think I’m the only one who goes on a spring cleaning rampage.

I kicked off my rampage with my computer.

springClean_comp1Files

I have a nasty habit of saving random crap all over my desktop.  So periodically I delete the old stuff and move the important into properly organized folders.  My two big computer clutterers are photos and design projects. Photos I break down by year and then any specific events/trips.  I have specific folder for blog related images too.  For design projects I have WIP folder with current projects arranged by title and sub folders for each for Design, Web, and Finals.  Once the project is complete I have a Completed Projects folder arranged by year and then project.  This is also a good time to back up any files on an external hard drive and remove any non-essential files from your main computer.

Email

I love gmail, but the virtually unlimited storage means I get lazy about deleting, and seeing a full inbox kind of drives me a little crazy.  First I look for mailing lists I’ve ended up on and unsubscribe from any that I don’t care about.  I also use the search feature to hunt down specific senders so I can delete whole pages at a time.  I also created a spam account awhile that I use for anything that needs an email but I know will never send me anything useful.***

Facebook

Spring cleaning Facebook?  Boo-yah!  I don’t mean deleting everyone you haven’t physically talked to in the last year (although if that’s your thing, knock yourself out).  I recently discovered the Acquaintances option and I have found Facebook zen.  Have someone who posts what they ate for breakfast every single day?  Have someone who shares every single page/article/video they find?  Have someone who just”likes” a lot of things that that are not at all relevant to you, or gets tagged in a ton of stuff from people you don’t know? I’m fine with this stuff in moderation but it was getting overwhelming!  BAM!  Acquaintances to the rescue!.  Facebook will weed out only the “important” stuff to show in your main feed, but you can always navigate to your acquaintances list if you feel like you’re missing out. It’s not 100% perfect, but it definitely tones the feed clutter waaaaay down.

If you’re logged in you can go right to https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize This will populate a list of suggestions for who to add to your acquaintances list and you can select in bulk.  It’s not perfect though and won’t show everyone on your friends list.

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If you want to add someone who doesn’t show up here, look at the menu to the left of your normal feed.  Acquaintances should be right under the Friends heading.

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If you click on it you’ll now see your Acquaintance feed and to right hand side you’ll see a search box with Add Friends to This List.  Voila!  Facebook Zen.

Other Stuff

If you’re feeling really ambitious you can also tackle your Pinterest boards.  I periodically weed through my Likes and decide if they’re worth assigning to a board, if they actually only link to spam, or if they’re still only in that limbo that is Likes.

Pinterest has basically taken the place of my Bookmarks, but if you’re not a crazy pinner that may be the area for you to clean up.  Do the links even still work?  Are they organized so you can find things?

For phones and tablets you can see if you have apps you never use that are worth removing.  Just be careful if you don’t actually know what something is, and google to see if it’s an essential process.

There’s also the physical cleaning of your computer–vacuuming out keyboards, cleaning screens, dusting out towers.  Depending on your monitor you’ll want to search for the best cleaning method so you don’t end up damaging it. Apple recommends dampening a lint free cloth with only water and wiping off the screen.  Don’t spray liquids directly on your screen though.

Nothing too crazy right?  A few key areas still make a big difference for me in how less cluttered my electronic life feels.

 

*Ok, so it’s been raining all week, but it’s “nice” in that I no longer need my winter coat

**Can you tell I’m so not a winter sports person?  I prefer to hibernate under the couch.

***if you’re wedding planning, seriously do this and get a Google Voice number to give to sales people… I had to lie and tell a David’s Bridal sales person that we had eloped early just so she would stop calling me!  (buying a different dress elsewhere wasn’t enough of clue apparently) Google Voice will automatically transfer calls to other lines, but you can block numbers with a single click.  Also super useful when car shopping.

AT January Cure Week 4

This was a really light week for me since most of it was addressed when we moved over the summer.

Monday: Media Fast

Ugh, I HATE the media fast.  I tried.  I did.  I spent and hour measuring and hanging curtains in our dining room, I did dishes in a timely fashion… and then I went back the the computer.  Fail.

Tuesday: Lighten up the Living Room

The focus on this one was paring down your accessories… which we did when we moved.  Our decorative objects sat packed away for months after we moved so I was able to be a little more objective when I unpacked and placed them.

Wednesday: Cabinet Clean-out

Again, done during moving.  Nothing makes you more willing to throw stuff out than the prospect of packing it up and hauling it with you.

Thursday: Look Through Your Linens

My closet clean-out choice was our linen closet… but we don’t tend to collect linens anyway so there wasn’t much that needed to be done.

Weekend: Flowers + Bathroom

Wow… I failed at the weekend…or won the weekend… I’m not sure which.  Friday night We decided to try and get into to the concert at Paisley Park.  It was announced on Twitter, tickets were only at the door, and there was no mention of whether or not Prince would be preforming (but I guess sometimes he just randomly does).  But it was funk night with Pho and Graham Central Station so Matt really wanted go.  Participating in a party at Paisley Park with a possibility of a Prince performance is just one of those things you should try and do if you live in the Twin Cities.

So we went, we got in, we danced, and Matt even saw Prince wandering around*.  We left around 1:30 because my feet were killing me** (and it was after the scheduled bands were done) so we didn’t get home until after 2.  As far as we can tell we didn’t miss an impromptu Prince performance, so I don’t feel too bad about being the one to make Matt leave.

Why am I mentioning this all when I should be talking about Cure progress?  Because I usually go to bed around 10 so this was a crazy late night for me.*** I woke up on Saturday feeling mildly hungover, and I had only had wine with dinner the night before.  I then proceeded to accomplish absolutely nothing on Saturday.  After dinner Matt suggested a trip to the hardware store to pick up outlets so we could try and fix that fiasco on Sunday, but I declined because then I would have to put on real pants.

On Sunday we actually Got Shit Done.  Some shit at least.  We went to the hardware store, got new outlets, found a new light fixture for our pantry, and picked up so extra storage bins for the basement.  We also picked up another sheer panel for the dining room and weekend flowers while we were at Target.  I got 3 different vases out of these $5 spray roses and the greenery left over from week 1.  Pretty sweet, huh?

ATCureFlowers4

Matt attempted to replace the kitchen outlets and then we discovered that they’re on the one breaker in our house that’s a 20 amp instead of a 15.  Doh! This might explain some of the earlier issues.  We’re just so goddamn brilliant sometimes. We didn’t want to head back out so Matt tackled the pantry light instead.  We had to convert a wall mounted lamp to add a pull chain and there was success all around!

We also got some assorted crap moved out of the living room, did a general clean of the bathrooms (no deep clean needed since we did that as we did the makeover) and tried to corral the paperwork that has a tendency to accumulate in the dining room… so it’s not like I completely slacked off this weekend.  I also worked on a couple mini-projects that will be putting an appearance later.

Oh, and because it’s bathroom weekend (and I clearly haven’t rambled on enough yet…) here’s my current though for the micro-bath.

microBathMoodBoard

 

*I saw the silhouette of a short guy with a big afro with his back to me, so I guess I did too?

**Matt is under strict orders to never let me wear those shoes again if we’re doing any significant amounts of standing/walking.

***Yes, I know, I’m old.

AT January Cure Week 2

Monday: Make a List of Projects

Oh boy, this is going to get a little lengthy, bear with me.

Entryway

  • Add a boot tray (front door and back)
  • Organize Landing Strip
  • Mirror

Living Room/Family Room

  • Put away Xmas decor
  • Unpack remaining boxes
  • Hang curtains
  • Corral DVDs

Kitchen

  • Frame & hang artwork
  • Add curtains
  • Add shelving
  • Replace wibbly-wobbly outlets
  • Touch up paint on cabinets
  • Remove paint splotches from floor

Dining Room

  • Clear off & demo bookshelves
  • Patch walls
  • Redo moldings
  • Add tin ceiling
  • Hang (and hem) curtains

My Study

  • Fix outlets!
  • Clear out random crap
  • Add shelves to closet
  • Hang curtains

Matt’s Study

  • Hang curtains
  • Remove ceiling tile
  • Connect ceiling light to switch
  • Add closet door
  • Replace moldings

Bedroom

  • Excavate dressers
  • Hang curtains
  • Add jewelry storage
  • Excavate closet
  • Remove closet door mirror
  • Fix baseboard trim

Tuesday: Purge the Pantry

Our pantry is in relatively decent shape at the moment.  This is probably because we only moved in 6 months ago there’s no better pantry purge incentive like moving.  Our pantry is also not very deep so we don’t tend to lose things in its depths.  We do need to tame our tupperware  though and corral some smaller items in bins.  The pantry will get a complete over-hall, hopefully within the next year, but it’s functioning decently for now.

ATCure2016_pantry

Wednesday: Set up an Outbox

We were actually ahead of the game on this one and already started an outbox with a bunch of tupperware from our pantry. I added old hangers some clothes I don’t wear anymore as I worked on other projects during the week.

ATCure2016_outbox

Thursday: Declutter a Drawer

BAM!  I…. didn’t clean out any drawers, but I DID clean out my closet and found some clothes I didn’t even know I had (that’s a good sign your closet desperately needed cleaning).  I also picked up some foam core board to redo the dividers in my underwear drawer though.  I never put my existing ones back after we moved and I just made use of Kohl’s Intimate Stock Up Sale to refresh said underwear drawer.  I disliked my existing dividers (HOFTA from IKEA–too flimsy and doesn’t fit perfectly in a MALM dresser) so I’m going to make my own with the foam core (although I will not be sharing a picture of my knickers on the internet when it’s done.  sorrynotsorry).

Weekend: Flowers + Kitchen

There wasn’t a lot of deep cleaning to do in the kitchen since we’ve only lived here 6 months and I did a full kitchen overhaul when we moved in.  Instead I chose to do a general cleaning and then tackle a couple of the smaller kitchen projects from my list: touch up cabinet paint, replace wonky outlets, hang curtains.

The outlets turned out to be a way bigger pain in the ass than I anticipated.  Our wiring is a little jacked up (yay for old homes?) which makes things incredibly frustrating.  First one of the outlets sparked on me AFTER we cut the breaker.  Turns out it was still getting a very slight current from somewhere (which one of our testers could detect, but the other couldn’t), but we couldn’t link it to a specific breaker so we had to cut the power to the entire house.  Has anyone else had this happen to them?  Because it’s absolutely mind boggling to me.

The other 2 outlets I was working on were easier despite having some weird existing wiring happening.  Unfortunately after we brought the power back on only 1 of the 3 outlets I replaced actually worked.  ARGH!  We have idea what’s wrong with one (see “weird existing wiring”) which should be annoying, but fixable and I’m hoping the other one is just a randomly defective outlet, otherwise I’ve got nothing.

ATCure2016_kitchOutlets

At least they LOOK way better, right? We’ll fix them, but at the moment I’m still swearing at them so it’s probably better to take a break.  I also think I’m going to need to do some drywall patching around the switch/outlet pair since the reason they were all wibbly-wobbly was that the hole for the electrical box was cut too big so the tabs on the top of the outlets aren’t able to brace themselves against the wall.

By the time we were done fighting with the outlets I was all “I hate electrical!” and “Screw the curtains!” but I did touch up the cabinet paint (it suffered from a couple small drips when we painted the walls), remove the splashes of over-spray from the floor (from when I spray painted the radiator), and did a solid cleaning so I’m calling it a successful weekend.

My flowers from last weekend are still going strong (go carnations!) so I’m going to wait to buy more until this bunch needs to be tossed.  Maybe I’ll buy a new potted plant though?  Menards has some nice looking spider plants and Phyllis (my cut-leaf philodendron) is looking all hella sad.

ATCure2016_phyllis

Whomp whomp.

 

Previous Tasks

Week 1

 

AT January Cure Week 1

Despite the fact that I’m not living in an apartment anymore, I’ve joined Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. It just seemed like a good way to kick start the year, it will also replace the current Weekend Reports for the month since I’ll just do a weekly wrap-up instead of a daily post.

There is nothing like the start of a new year to kick yourself into gear and make changes that last. And no, I’m not talking about resolutions, which have a sneaky way of fading along with the holiday glow. I’m talking about taking just one month and investing some effort (21 do-able assignments in total throughout January) toward a cleaner, more organized and more peaceful home. If you are ready to get your place back in shape (and reap the rewards for the whole rest of 2016) the very best way is one manageable step at a time, during our once-a-year-only January Cure. By the end of the month, you’ll be have a cleaner, fresher, more organized home, guaranteed!

Sounds pretty good, right?  At least until you start to take naps… which is exactly what I did on Day 1.  Luckily, Friday assignments are pretty much weekend assignments so I had 3 whole days to tackle Assignment #1: Flowers and Floors.  Except I actually spent those 3 days taking more naps and binge-watching Doctor Who so I’m starting now.  Yeah, don’t follow my example for sticking to a schedule.  Ever.

I dropped Matt off at the bar to watch the Packer game.  I realize most Minnesotans would probably refer to it as the Vikings games, but we’re from Wisconsin so tough cookies.  I tend to be slightly more productive when Matt’s out of the house, which is a little weird since it’s not like he gets in my way on anything when he’s here.  I picked up so flowers on my way home* and have already cleaned up the floor in the mudroom (which was living up to its name) and swept and mopped the kitchen and pantry.  My favorite wood cleaner is Method’s Almond Scented Wood Floor Cleaner. I also have a Rubbermaid Reveal mop, which has the ease of a Swiffer, but you can refill with your own cleaner and the pads are washable/reusable (I’m also pretty sure I didn’t pay anywhere near $50 for mine.. wtf Target?).

Unfortunately dropping Matt off at the bar interrupted my Doctor Who Binge in the middle of a two-parter** so I’ll possibly go back to slacking for this evening.  There’s a pint of Izzy’s Midnight Snack in the freezer too so apparently you shouldn’t follow my example for New Years Resolutions either….

ATjanCure1

 

*From the most expensive damn grocery stole in the area, so I semi-cheated an picked up some carnations and a bunch of greenery since I am not paying $15 for daisies.

**With Zygons no less! And, yes, I know I’m way behind on this season.  I haven’t seen Star Wars yet either, so THERE.

Conquering the Closet

Oh the bathroom closet… It didn’t quite fit with the Brown Bathroom of Despair, it was more the Green Closet of Gloom.  Seriously people, painting the inside of a closet dark green (with painted brown shelves) when it is not lit is a terrible idea.  It’s like a black hole.  But green. The existing shelves… I don’t even know what’s happening there.

bathroomBefore4

Yeah…. this is a perfect example of a poor use of space.  It had to go.

The first step was demoing the shelves.  Should be pretty easy, right?  Wrong.  Some jerkwad had put layer after layer of paint over the screw heads so a screwdriver was completely useless. Using a combination of a hammer and brute strength I managed to get the shelves out.  The walls were already in pretty bad shape so I few more holes to patch wasn’t a big deal.

Originally I thought I’d need to skim-coat the entire inside of the closet.  Thankfully it didn’t come to that.  I used a putty knife to scrape off all the the peeling paint, then spackled over all the uneven bits.  After priming it looked pretty respectable, especially since it was the inside of a closet, so I just painted it all and called it a day.

When my mom and step-dad were in town the other weekend Matt and my step-dad went to work on the shelves (mom and I baked cookies).  I had gotten a sheet of 1/4″ MDF cut down to size earlier (I figured out the height I wanted the shelves, then measured the length since the closet is underneath our attic stairs so most of one wall is angled). I chose 18″ as the depth since it’s nice and deep, but not so deep that you end up losing things in the back.  Since my miter saw can only go up to a 12″ cross cut, I had to get everything cut to size beforehand. The hardware store people were very helpful, just in a “oh, isn’t that cute, she’s building shelves, is your husband going to help you with that?” sort of way that makes me grind my teeth a bit.*

I outlined what I wanted, and left the men to the technical stuff.  I mean, I had Christmas cookies to bake, I can’t do everything. The shelves are attached on 2 sides with cleats (we used 1×2 pine since we had that already, there were already 1×4’s where I put the top shelf so we left those there).  After some discussion we skipped using a cleat on the angled stair wall since we weren’t sure how stable the plaster was and we didn’t want the screws to end up going through the stairs.  We ended up adding legs to that end of the shelves for added stability.

bathShelves1

We also anchored the shelves to the cleats with L brackets so they couldn’t accidentally be knocked loose somehow.  If your walls are nice and square and even you could probably screw directly into the cleats.  Our walls are from a time when “square” didn’t really exist so things are slightly wonky. You can also tell we used inexpensive pine for the cleats, but only from this angle so everything does actually quite nice when you’re not sitting on the floor.

bathShelves3

The shelves, legs, and cleats got painted  after everything was dry-fit (but before it was all anchored in place).  I didn’t bother painting the edges of the shelves since only 1 would be visible and I figure it would be easy to paint an edge once the shelves were all installed.  I was actually right about that too. The shelves took a coat of primer and a coat of paint (BM Advance) and look SO much better now.

bathShelves2

The top shelf isn’t quite level but would not be worth the effort to fix it given that these are closet shelves and won’t be seen too much.  We would have had to rip out the existing board, patch the hell of the wall, put up new cleats, and repaint everything around them.  Sometimes it’s just not worth being an anal-retentive perfectionist.  Sometime I even recognize those times.

The  door was taken off shortly after we moved it and has been replaced with a tension rod and curtain.  The cat box is in the closet so it needed to be easily accessible for our furballs and I didn’t love the idea of keeping the door open constantly. Curtain it is.

bathShelves4

Can you feel that? We are SO close to being done! I’m crossing my fingers for a Christmas miracle especially since my mother-in-law and brother-in-law are coming to visit the week after Christmas so it would be really nice to have it all done.**

 

*I will say I take a rather perverse sort of pleasure in waltzing into a hardware store in a skirt and heels and then surprising the more chauvinistic employees by actually knowing what I’m talking about. This however was not one of those days and as I was clearly dressed as one who is Getting Shit Done.

**She’s like the least judgmental person ever so I’m not worried about that, but it would be nice to have a bathroom that’s not a construction site for guests, ya’know?

Best. Tub. Cleaner. EVER.

Want to see something shameful?

This is our bathtub:

tub1

And this is our bathtub after I pulled off the grody non-slip sticker things.

tub2

Can I get a collective EEEEEEWWWW? Yeah, I thought so.  I’m a little ashamed to have my watermark on them…. although I am posting these filthy pictures on the internet so apparently I have no shame.

This nastiness is one of the many issues lurking in the Brown Bathroom of Despair, but it’s also the easiest to do something about.  And who doesn’t love scrubbing a tub while recovering from some crazy back spasm thing?*  Well, ya’know, desperate times and all that.  Thankfully I mastered claw foot tub cleaning a while back so it’s actually not too bad.

Here’s what you need:

  • Baking soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Dish Soap (I’ve heard other people say that the blue Dawn works best and it’s the only one I tend to have on hand so I haven’t tried others)
  • Sponge.
  • Spray bottle

That’s it.

Sprinkle the tub with a coating of baking soda (a mesh strainer or flour sifter can help you sprinkle more evenly).  Then fill a spray bottle with vinegar and good squirt of dish soap and spray down the tub surface so there’s a nice vinegary paste over the whole thing.  Let it sit about 15 minutes and then scrub away.  You shouldn’t have to use too much elbow grease since the baking soda does most of the work. Finish with a good rinse and you’re done!

Ta-da!

tub3

It’s not perfect but SO much better.  I think the only way to get it perfect at this point would be to completely re-glaze anyway which is not high on our priority list at the moment.  We’re hoping to completely gut the bathroom at some point in the future (probably WAY in the future) and Matt’s even talked about replacing the tub with a non-clawfoot.  *gasp* I’m going to fight to keep it though.

The vinegar/dish soap combo also works wonders on soap scum.

Note: I’ve only ever used the baking soda/vinegar method on enamel tubs so I don’t know how acrylic stands up to it.

Matt and I also tackled plumbing for the first time today!  And were successful!!! The fill valve in the upstairs toilet was faulty.  Basically the water in the tank should fill until it causes the float to, uh, float and that will trigger the water to stop… only ours kept getting stuck so the water wouldn’t refill until we reached into the tanked and jiggled it loose.  We also tried to add a dual flush system at the same time but the one we picked up didn’t quite fit our tank. I’m not going to make any claims of being a master plumber and certainly have no intention of reinventing the toilet-fixing-tutorial wheel, so if you’re looking for a how-to here’s what we referenced.

 

* I realized a few days later that my back spasmed like the second I turned 30.  WTF?  Matt lost his super memory as soon as he turned thirty (he can’t even remember my favorite flavor of ice cream anymore, it’s sad) and I apparently will have my body just rebel against me.  Awesome.  The bright side is that I’m now officially old enough for the NSFW deck of Exploding Kittens.