Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 14 - Smudging & cleansing #cgsc2015

We've made it! It is Day 14 and the day before of All Hallow's Eve, Hallowe'en, Samhain to the Celts. There are lots of sites out there that explain the history and symbolism behind the celebration of Samhain and while I could get into great detail here as well, that hasn't been the purpose of this challenge. I'll save my history and spiritual lessons for another day ;). Suffice to say, Samhain traditionally begins at sunset on October 31st and lasts until sunrise on November 1st and it is during this time that it is customary to honour our ancestors. We want to invite our ancestors into our homes and remember then, let them know that we respect them and some of them are probably missed quite dearly. Samhain is also considered the end of the Celtic year, to let go of that which did not serve us in the previous year, take a deep breath and begin to plan how we want to see the new year manifest.

Today is the culmination of our hard work to prepare our homes for the coming event. We've tidied, organised, released unnecessary clutter, and got things all spic and span for our spiritual guests. We've also done all this for ourselves, getting rid of the old so we can make room for the new. Creating a space we can feel comfortable returning to, a haven, from the stress of the outside world. It doesn't matter how much you did, but that you did do something, nothing has to be, nor will it ever be, perfect. Better really is good enough, plus you've got the stagnant energies in your home and very possibly in yourself as well. I am so proud of all of you and all you've accomplished, I am so honoured that you let me come into your homes and your lives to share this challenge together. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

If you have them, now is the time to pull out your crystals and herbs. If you've not done so already, the crystals need to be cleansed. There are many ways to do this, be aware of the solidity of the crystals you have chosen though, for example, selenite is actually water soluble and if you try to cleanse it with water it will begin to fall apart on you. Also, always be aware of the toxicity of some crystals, unpolished malachite is very dangerous and should never be handle with your bare hands. Methods to cleanse your crystals including passing them under running water, through the smoke of burning incense or smudging herbs, placing them under a full moon, placing them out in the sun, and even as simple as flowing your own energies through the stone.

First we are going to smudge our homes, even if you have not done so for all the previous days, for the end of the year it is very important that you smudge in a counter-clockwise/widdershins direction. The purpose of this is to banish all negative energies and widdershins is the direction of banishment. Choose your smudge based on your own likes/dislikes and intuition. Burning sage is very common but it is not the only way. You can use other herbs that you prefer, you can have a spray bottle with water and salt in it, Florida water is also great, or your favourite incense, use a bell, or even the clapping of hands. The tool is not the point, your intentions are what makes the banishing work.

Once you've chose your method open up all the windows in your home, even if it's chilly out, this is important, the energies need escape routes. If you can open the doors too, but if you have fur babies you don't want outside then definitely consider their safety first. Step outside your front door with your smudge and close the door, smudge yourself at this point, bathing in the smoke, water, or sounds. Immediately reenter your home turning to your right. You're going to sweep the smoke, spray the water, or clap your hands from as high as you can reach down to the floor, up and down as you walk counter-clockwise around your home. If you have multiple levels, decide the best path for you. Personally, I like to start from top to bottom, thanking Mother Earth's gravitational pull for helping with this banishment. Travel through every room, reach into every closet, around each window and doorway. If you like to sing, then do so, or put some music on, if you have a mantra, use it, or if you prefer silence then by all means, enjoy the silence, it is a rare commodity in this busy world.

Continue all the way through your home, keeping with the widdershins direction the entire time. The last room should be the one to the left of your front entry as you once again return to the threshold of your house. Open the door again, smudge the entryway while still standing inside. If you want to say something here, then say it, whether aloud, in your head, shouting or whispering, tell the past, the negativity, that it has no place in your home and it must leave. Now.

That's it! If you like, light some candles to start to bring in the light, but otherwise, your home is ready to receive your ancestors, to celebrate the year that has past and the one we look forward to. Close windows and doors when you're comfortable to do so (or uncomfortable if it is cold, lol). Enjoy a snack and a drink, but save some to offer to the Universe, Mother Earth, and/or your deity. Blessed Be!

I can't wait to hear of your experiences over the course of these two weeks. If you've learned anything about yourself, about your habits, do you hoard things? Do you hoard past baggage? Are they connected in some way? I would love it if you could share your feelings as you went through the challenge, what was the hardest to release, what was the easiest, and how you feel now as we have reached the end. I would also very much appreciate any feedback! As mentioned at the beginning, this is my first (but hopefully not last) time taking on such a project. I enjoyed doing this and I do hope that I have somehow helped you, even in the smallest way and I'd love to hear about that. I'm also open to any suggestions. I do have ideas of my own on how to change things for the future endeavours, but I always appreciate constructive criticism to help me hone my ideas into something that is helpful to another. Thank you again and Goddess Bless.

Have a Blessed Samhain, Me Pretties!!! xxxx

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 13 - Furniture & Floors #cgsc2015

I have these excellent things to write about as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, by morning they're always a distant, vague memory of something brilliant. So here we go with something that is likely completely different than what I came up with in the middle of the night. Let me start, via illustration, of how to NOT clean your floors....

Mickey Mouse and David Stutler both taught us that Karma in the form of mop and bucket is a force to be reckoned with! Don't mess with magick, Me Pretties!

With that disclaimer said we will grab a duster, a vacuum, a couple of soft rags and a spray bottle with some furniture polish. Start wherever you feel called and get dusting to rid your furniture of all those energy sucking, vampire-like dust mites. Upholstered furniture can be vacuumed up, be sure to get into the crevices, couch diving can even be profitable sometimes ;). Polish up any glass furniture with your favourite window cleaner and make the wood furnishings gleam with some olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice (recipe below).

For the floors we're going to start at the front entry and end at the front entry, as in previous posts, travelling widdershins (counter-clockwise) around your house. Sprinkle your carpets with plain baking soda (or make up a jar of the recipe below) and leave that until the hard flooring is all clean, or at least 30 minutes. Sweep and/or vacuum as needed all the lino, laminate and wood flooring in your home, then mix up a bucket of the same cleaner from Day-11 and scrub the year's accumulation of negative, literal and figurative, grime away. Vacuum up all the baking soda and the nasties lurking in your carpet (you can use the baking soda on upholstered furniture as well). Finish up with a symbolic sweeping of all the past year out the front door; use your besom if you have one or a corn broom, but any broom will do, you could even fashion a quick a besom with a broken tree branch, some dry grass or twigs, and twine or even duct tape, be creative.

And there you have it Me Pretties, Day-13 done did! Have a beautiful one!

Furniture Polish
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or light olive oil
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Add to spray bottle and shake well. Use a soft cloth to polish.
Carpet Deodorizer
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of dried rosemary, lavendar or a blend of your favourites, or
  • 15-20 drops of your favourite essential oil
  • Combine in a large jar with a lid, shake well.
  • Sprinkle on carpets and vacuum up after 30 - 60 minutes.
Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps."Far away, there in the sunshine, are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow their lead." ~Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 12 - Windows n' Doors #cgsc2015

Not sure what is up with me but I've been excessively tired the last couple of days so posts are coming in late, my apologies for the lateness each day me pretties. On an up note, we are nearing the end of this challenge and I have to say I've really enjoyed spending this time with each of you, I am so grateful for such a wonderful group and have loved all the sharing, support and encouragement. I may have to come up with another challenge as I'll miss all of you after this is all done!

Today is all about clearing the dust, dirt and negative energies of the year from all our doorways and windows. Let the sun (& the beautiful full moon) shine in! I've hummed and hawed about where to start this time as I really feel it is appropriate to end at the front entry, brushing the last of the negative energies out the door with a firm good riddance and a kick in the ass ;). But, I think we can both start and end there as we have with other challenges. Grab you bucket from wall washing and using the same wash formula we're going to wipe down the door frame, but not the door itself yet.

Also on hand you need to have your favourite window cleaner. Natural cleaner is of course always best but truth be told, I've not had a great deal of luck with the quality of clean with vinegar and water. I can't stand that blue stuff though so I use a product called Invisible Glass that I buy at Costco and cotton "flour sack" towels. The streak-free clean on windows in mirrors is hard to surpass so window cleaner is the one and only chemical cleaner I use. I will post a natural cleaner here as well too, one thing I do recommend though is never use paper towel (except the resusable kind, Bambooee, that stuff rocks); cotton towels, soft rags, or blank newspaper are excellent for window cleaner (best disposable paper I ever used for windows was the wrap we had for breakable items at a retail store I worked at, but I have no idea how to get that for home use).

As before, we will work widdershins from the front entry, so to our right we go. Dust and wash the casing/frame of each door and window, then wash the doors, windows, and mirrors. Our coat closet directly to the right in our entry is a mirrored sliding door, Invisible Glass is my best friend *stupid grin*. Closet doors, bathroom doors, other entries into the home including side doors, garage entries, and sliding patio doors, plus the doors and doorways into each room of your home. Along the way we're going to do the inside of the windows as well, at least the ones you can reach. If you have a good sprayer on your garden hose and if it is not too cold out I recommend at least a decent rinse on the outside doors, windows and steps as well. Last, but not least, we're going to open up that front door and give it and the threshold a good scrub down, dump the water outside if you can, or down the tub drain and envision all those negative energies flowing out with the dirty water. There it is, that sense of clean energy as you walk back into your home, so relaxing and yet so invigorating, isn't it?

Glass Cleaner
Because who doesn't love Faerie doors?! ;)

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 - 3 drops Dawn (optional)

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. Tomorrow is furniture & floors, so get your bucket, rags, brooms, mops and vacuums ready. Friday we're smudging, decorating, and setting up our ancestor altars so consider anything you may need for that. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll love ya tomorrow Me Pretties (and today, and yesterday ;) )! xx

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 11 - Wall Washin': Let the Cleansing Begin #cgsc2015

At this point most of the decluttering and releasing has been done in the major areas of your home. We've covered the entries and halls, master bedroom, kitchen, bathrooms, living and dining rooms, the craft and office areas/rooms. Things are looking much tidier and managable, your home feeling more and more like a place you want to spend your time in rather than avoiding certain areas, especially the bedroom which should always be your retreat. If you'd like to add finishing touches, plants and candles are lovely, throw in some fall colour if it will work with your current decor. And most importantly do remember, our goal is to make things better not perfect, perfection is unattainable unless you stop living in that space. Live in your home, it is neither a museum nor a show house.

Cartoon by Isabella Bannerman.

Having said all that we are not finished our work by any means. Now begins the clearing out of the negativity and stagnancy of the old year. The next few days we will open up the windows while we wash and smudge away any ickiness lingering in our homes. Today we will begin at the highest point in our home that we can reach and start washing away any gloom and grunge lingering from the past year.

We have a two story home, so I am starting with the wall surrounding the front door as it faces the stairway to the second floor. Dust the cobwebs out first if there are any and then wash the walls (I've included the "recipe" I use when cleansing, rather than simply washing). So you know the doors and windows are coming tomorrow so no need to clean the door frame or door at this time. I will wash that small bit of wall and then head straight up the stairs, washing the right side of the stairwell as high as I can reach. At the top of the stairs on the right is my son, Caleb's room, which I also use as my crafting space as he is only here every second weekend. Continuing to the right into his room I'll wash the walls in 3-4 foot sections, top to bottom, travelling widdershins back to the door. Back into the hallway takes me to Abby's room, the main bathroom, Alex's room and then our master bedroom with en suite. Returning into the hallway to wash the east wall and continue back down the opposite side of the stairwell.

From the front door again I will work to the right and widdershins around the main level hallways, bathroom, den, kitchen, dining room and living room. The den has recently had all the wallpaper taken down and walls scrubbed and painted, the kitchen actually has completely brand new walls and ceiling, so both areas will not be actually washed (paint is too new) but I will still do a symbolic washing and cleansing of the rooms. Heading into the basement only half of it is finished so I'll dust and wash what I can and symbolically cleanse down there. Back up those stairs, wiping on my right side (also newly painted so symbolically for me), around the corner the last of the main level entry and I finish up at the front door again.

Some practical tips for this task. A long handled duster is excellent for getting into those hard to reach corners. Our dollar stores here carry quite a variety here on the cheap but if you don't have one and cannot purchase one, no worries; grab a soft towel or a good size micro fibre cloth, use some large elastics and wrap the bristles of your broom with the cloth. This will work brilliantly with exactly the same results. When I'm doing a wall cleansing (which, truth be told, is the only time the walls really get a good wash anyway) I use the following:

Wall & Floor Cleaner
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of Dawn (optional)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves or 10 drops rosemary essential oil
Change the water often when it cools down too much, emptying the bucket in the garden, preferably watering your trees. If you've no garden to water the bathtub works well too, visualize the water getting to the roots of the trees nearby so the energies can be reused by Mother Earth. If you're not a fan of rosemary, or if another herb or herbal oil calls to you go ahead and change it up. This is about your home and what appeals to you, what brings you joy and uplifts your spirits :).

And that is it for Day 11, can you feel the stagnancy and negativity flowing out the windows?

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. Doors and windows tomorrow, aren't you excited? ;)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 10 - Office and Craft Area #cgsc2015

Alright then, let's get crackin' sorting our offices and craft areas out. I was sure I had a picture I could show you of the one time my craft area was actually nicely organised but I can't find it so I guess it's about time I get on redoing that so I can do a photo of it organised again.

A good place to start is to sit down and really think about what crafts you love the most and in particular, which ones you will be working on over the next six months. This should give you a reasonable idea of what you need to keep on hand. Most of us will have at least a corner in a room or a closet dedicated to craft and/or office things. If you don't, you may want to do so now, create a spot, whether it's an entire room or just a rolling cart of drawers specifically for craft and office. Obviously, if it is an entire room you can have both in the same space, I still recommend separate shelving for each. If you've only space for a couple of Rubbermaid totes, do keep office and crafts separate if you can. As you sort your supplies, organise them either by like item or project, whichever suits you best, release anything you are really unlikely to work on in the next few months and toss those projects you had hoped you could fix when reality just did not match the photo on Pinterest ;).

As mentioned in a previous post, I'm not a fan of plastic containers, and while mason jars have some use in the craft area one still needs places to organise larger collections and larger items; for this I like to use plastic shoe boxes and drawer sets. Sure I could get a stack of beautiful baskets and some wooden drawer organisers but my budget really doesn't have the room for such so plastic it is. If you have the budget, by all means, it is far better for the environment to go au naturale. For the most part though, there is nothing interesting to mice in here and I certaily have no plans of eating anything out of my crafts so I'm not concerned BPA leakage, lol. This is a photo I took today of my craft closet, it looks better than the reality, trust me ;). As you can see the latest trend in chalk labels come in very handy here and the chalk pens they have now make it even easier to label your different drawers and baskets. So go ahead and figure out what system will work for you and get that shite organised so you can actually use it :).  Cheers!

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. You will likely notice there was no Day 9 post. Via my Facebook event I noted that Day 9, which was Sunday this year, would be Sunday Survey and Share Day. Essentially a day to review what has been accomplished already in your home, complete any of the previous day's challenges that need it, and to share your tribulations and your trials. And that is where Day 9 disappeared to :). See you tomorrow!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 8 - Living & Dining Room #cgsc2015

At any other time the living room and dining room in our home, while far from perfect, were certainly the least cluttered space, mostly because they do not have closing doors to hide the mess. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Or at least that appears to be how I try to fool myself, like a kid told to clean their bedroom, stuff it in the closet and under the bed, "look Ma, all done. Can I have my laptop back now?" However, at the present time, all the "under beds and closets" (rooms with doors that close) are already at capacity themselves; as explained in a previous post, we kinda got hit by an avalanche of events. And to be perfectly honest, though I'm writing this for Saturday, I myself am several days behind on the challenge and tomorrow won't change much as I'm gone all day again, lol. So for those of you concerned you're behind or not doing much, you're not alone ;).

The living room is generally our in-between place before we call it a night. After supper is done most families retire to the couch to watch some TV and/or surf the net. We should make this room a place we like to hang out not just crash and burn. Personally, I've found if it is not a huge cluttered mess I'm more likely to shut the TV off and encourage a family game night or go for a walk. Weird maybe, but there it is.

Let's begin again at the entrance and move to our right, Cha Cha Slide style ;). ♪♫To the right, to the right, to the right♫♪ Have your boxes ready for sell/donate items, etc., don't forget the bags for garbage and recycles too; I know we did a surface clean out at the beginning of this challenge, but now we're getting into the nooks and crannies. Couch diving, here we come! You can work in rounds by choosing to start with one project, then moving onto another after that one is done, say grab all the out of place items into a box for putting away later, then go through drawers in the side tables and such, then move onto another specific task or work on one shelf unit, or one piece of furniture at a time.

My personal modus operandi, if you've not already guessed, is the "pile and junk it method". I haul pretty much everything into the middle of the room, clean/dust and vacuum the furniture, then I plop myself on the floor (actually, with my joints it's more of a fall to the floor) then go through that big nasty pile. Start with the largest items, usually before I sit down for those, and work down until all that is left is literally garbage. If I go shelf by shelf, desk to table, I actually am far less likely to get rid of what needs to really be gotten rid of. You see, that beautifully empty, dust-free shelf or table top? I don't want to fill it back up with a shit load of crap again making me far pickier about what can go back. But that is just me. As I've said all along me pretties, you gotta do it youuurrrr waaaaay (key Tony Bennet, I think, can't remember and I canna be bothered to look it up lol). This is also a good time to vacuum the upholstery, test an inconspicous area first but that stain remover I mentioned before is great on couches. Give your real wood furniture a polish as well, two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice mixed together and a soft cloth and you can make that mahogany shine. Now, you guessed it, do the same in the dining room. Bam, done!

There has been some discussion about dusting door and window frames, wiping walls and cleaning floors. By all means do a quick sweep and vacuum, especially after piling all that shit in the middle of the floor. But as for the rest, we have a day for that coming too as we'll be doing this in a special, cleansing way to rid our homes of the last bit of grime and negative energies. So patience me pretties, we're getting there! ;) Have a stupendous Saturday!

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. Decorating will also come next week, do start thinking about things you'd like to add to make rooms Samhain ready and cozier for the coming winter.

Day 7 - Bathrooms #cgsc2015

My brain is not cooperating with me, or is it not cooperating with the universe?? Either way, it's being very closed-minded (pun intended) with fibro-fog so hopefully what I write makes some resemblance of sense. I've turned on my diffuser with some cloves and orange, that should help to clear the fog some. I prefer rosemary and orange but the rosemary has gone missing and I'm too lazy to hunt it down.

I am notorious (in my hubby's mind anyway) for browser tabs. My computer will generally have two to three browser windows open each with at least a half-dozen of tabs of articles I would like to read soon. Every few days I go through and clean them up, reading what I'm still curious about, pinning recipes and other ideas or simply closing those that I've clearly lost interest in. The one tab that I've been keeping open for some time was a Huffington Post blog article by Laura Probert, 10 Unconventional Ways to Use Writing to Help Your Business, I finally read it AND added it to Pinterest as she had some really good points to share.

The first thing that caught me is that she too is a healer, I have no idea what she is a healer in but it still felt like a connection as to why I needed to read this post in particular. Aside from that, one of the biggest points for me was to take a moment to ground, center and relax. When I'm stressed that I have to write I forget to do this and I think it shows in my writing, which becomes more mechanical and less "me". So do forgive me if I ramble on sometimes, it's merely my brain trying to reconnect to divine.

You have likely noticed that with each room we are doing a great deal of releasing, organising and tidying but no actual cleaning; no need to worry, that's coming ;). We will do some cleaning today in the bathroom though, just the usual scrub down of sink, toilet and shower/tub.

Whether you have a single, small bathroom or several the process is the same. In the toilet bowl place 1/4 cup Borax, 1 cup of white vinegar and if you have it a 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil (a citrus oil or even lemon juice will work in a pinch), give it a stir with your toilet brush, leave it to soak and move on to the vanity.  Start at the entry and clear the vanity top of everything, wipe it down, scrub out the sink and the faucet (vinegar is beautiful for polishing up chrome). Of all the items you cleared off, what should return to the top, what should be put away until required and what should have been trashed a long time ago? Now we're basically going to do the same in the tub/shower. Clear any shelves and the sides of the tub and scrub it all out. Only put back what you need there and I highly doubt it is three bars of soap, five bottles of body wash or the razor that is long past its prime. Rinse out your cloth and wipe down the outside of the toilet, top to bottom, paying close attention around the hinges of the lid and bolt covers at the bottom. Now take you toilet scrubber and give the bowl a good scrubbing making sure to get under the rim, flush, scrub again and that should do the trick.

Now we can attack the cabinets, shelves, and your linen closet; if you keep your bathroom supplies elsewhere then that is what you will be working on. Pull out anything that is very clearly destined for garbage or recycle immediately: empty toilet rolls, shampoo bottles or the plastic wrap from the tp your teenager stuffed in the back corner. Go through everything else, for bathroom items keep your favourites and get rid of those half bottles of lotion, etc that you tried but did not really care for. Organise under the cabinets and any drawers as best works for you and your household. Sort through the towels and say good bye to the ratty ones you are keeping for rags, if you have a plethora of towels save the favourites (colour, texture, size) and donate or sell the rest. We can do the same now for all the sheets and blankets that are in the linen closet (don't worry about sheets or blankets in other rooms, just the closet for now). Give the cabinets shelves a quick wipe down (or scrub out if necessary) and organise what you have decided is worth keeping into the way that works best for you.

That's it! And yes, I'm rushing this post out today so I bid you adieu and see you tomorrow me pretties xx

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 6 - Kitchen Part 2 #cgsc2015

Today the focus is counter tops and lower cabinets in the kitchen. Last time I did this in our kitchen (when we still had cabinets) I discovered we had had visitors, of the four-legged variety, they reportedly like cheese but my experience is they prefer chocolate or peanut butter. I didn't find any mice lurking behind the rice container, but they had certainly left the evidence of chewed cereal boxes and those lovely wee black pellets aka mouse turds. Not the most pleasant discovery amongst your food that is for certain so a great deal got thrown out. Hubby was somewhat skeptical to be honest as they had never had squeakers in the house, but my CSI skills regarding mice are pretty well honed after living in a mobile home in the middle of a farm for seven years (one year was so bad I was catching them by the tail and chucking them off the deck). Mice can chew threw damn near anything and fit in the tiniest of holes to get to food so I'd learned in my own kitchen, glass & metal is best, they had even chewed the Tupperware (the real McCoy) so yup, no more plastic storage if I could avoid it. The moral of my story, mason jars are our friends!

If you'd like you can continue to work widdershins on your cabinets from the kitchen entry but I'm going to tell you my cheat, I start under the kitchen sink. Why, you may ask. Because it is usually the worst for collecting crap that doesn't belong, de-cluttering the numerous half-used bottles of cleaners requires little emotional energy and once that cabinet is all cleared out, looking sparkly and organised, it often helps jump start the releasing process so the other cabinets are actually easier. Then I will go widdershins from that point ;).

I have multiple chemical sensitivities so I had long since switched almost entirely to homemade cleaners. Even those that claim to be full natural can irritate the fuck out of my sinuses and skin so easier to just make my own. You can clean just about anything with hot water, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, borax, and Dawn. Yes I do know that Dawn is not homemade, but if they can wash cute duckies covered with nasty oil then I'm quite sure it is safe. Even if you do not have sensitivies I still recommend the homemade cleaners as they are so much easier on you, your home and the environment and there is more than one way witches are green! There are numerous recipes on the interwebs that you can find using these ingredients to make cleaners for every occasion. I did post one in the postscript in, "A few housekeeping notes" and at some point I plan to sit down to make a booklet of recipes I use but in the meantime Google and Pinterest rock ;).

Look through your cabinets and on your countertop and make a plan, mentally or on paper. For the countertop take a good look at what is there. What do you absolutely, without a doubt, need to keep within quick and easy reach?  Providing you have the cabinet space then that is all that should be on the counters! Small appliances, such as the toaster, kettle, coffee pot, if used daily or nearly daily, those can stay but there are many that you most likely do not use as regularly so if you can, give them a home out of sight. Some small decor items are nice, especially if they are also functional. A vintage jar to hold the larger cooking utensils, a ceramic frog keeping that scouring pad off the counter and even a nice basket of fruit, but do try to keep the clutter to an absolute minimum.

Work through the cabinets housing the baking dishes and cookware. Some things are nice to have multiples of, such as a couple of loaf pans - who wants to make one banana loaf at a time, but five pizza stones is probably excessive. I may as well tell you right now, I have a severe bias against non-stick cooking pans, I think the fucking things are toxic and not worth the convenience both for health reasons and environmental. If you can afford quality stainless steel, enamel coated and/or cast iron cookware please get rid of the teflon, even if it takes you a few years piece by piece. One scratch in a non-stick pan and you are suppose to chuck it (more waste and more money spent) but a good quality stainless steel pot or cast iron frying pan is actually quite easy to clean, cooks your food far more evenly and can literally last your lifetime and then some. *Climbs off soapbox.* Moving on, we'll be doing the same as every other cupboard or cabinet we've been diving into, if you haven't used that juicer in a year, have three mandolin slicers, or the mastermixer is missing parts, darling, send it packing.

Other areas that most likely need to be de-cluttered and reorganised in or related to the kitchen are the lazy-susan cupboard, the fridge and the pantry. For dry or canned goods, if you know you will not ever cook with it and it's still sealed, your local Food Bank or homeless shelters are ALWAYS in need of food. Organise by like items, it is far easier to find two cans of mushroom soup to make a casserole this way than if haphazardly put away (labels on shelves are awesome if you have kids and significant others that have trouble following your organisation). And as mentioned before, store dry goods in glass, such as rice, flour and even raisins and chocolate chips. They are then safe from bugs and rodents, glass is reusable nearly forever, and, in my humble opinion, it looks sexier than an eclectic mess of boxes and plastic containers. I think Chef Michael Smith has the sexiest pantry ever, but I couldn't find a good photo online of it so here is one similarish.

Here are some more great tips for kitchen organising from Tidy I particularly liked the lazy susan in the fridge and the measuring cups on the back of the cabinet door with the conversion chart. Brilliant!

Let's shake a leg and get to it! What was the oldest food item you found? I found some that was literally vintage here! How about duplicates, what did you have the most of one item?

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. Here is a post I wrote when I was still living in my mobile home on my mason jar obsession. My Pretty Nuts

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 5 - Kitchen Part 1 #cgsc2015

The kitchen. The heart and hearth of our homes. When family gathers, it's often in the kitchen, when we have house parties the busiest room seems to always be the kitchen. Our morning wake up regularly starts here with coffee or tea and this is where we are sustained in body. Important decisions are made in the kitchen and the little comforts are found here; the smell of supper being prepared, cookies baking, bread rising, coffee brewing, so many of our olfactory memories can be associated with the kitchen. Remember when your parents prepared those special holiday feasts, mmmmm turkey roasting or Grandma's amazing scones and shortbread. Mom or dad getting us a warm glass of milk after a bad dream, a hot cup of cocoa after playing in the snow, homemade popsicles and ice tea on hot summer days.

Being the busiest area also means the kitchen is usually one of the biggest areas of clutter in our home. Because we tend to spend so much time here, everything and sundry follows us in. Inevitable junk drawers begin to grow a life of their own and who knows what in the hell is in the very back of the very top shelf of the corner cabinet. Expired dry goods, tupperware with no lids and lids with no tupperware, the retired blender that was tucked behind the flour, in case the newer one craps out. Unopened mail piles up on the counter by the kitchen entrance and the rest of the counter is a jumble of small appliances and gadgets.

Even a small kitchen can be quite daunting in the task to clean it so this room will also be split up into two days. Today we are going to focus on the upper cabinets and any freestanding shelving/cabinets such as baker's racks. As with the other rooms we will continue to work widdershins (counterclockwise). Maybe it is just me, but I really feel the difference of the energy of working one direction or the other. When I want to bring in something new, do a blessing or call in positivity, it feels natural to work deosil (clockwise), and conversely when it is time to banish or release widdershins really does seem to help focus the energy to let go.

One cabinet at a time we will go through our kitchens. I'm pretty sure by now you've gotten the gist of how this goes but hey, I'm here to give you that extra kick and kicking I shall do ;). Coffee mugs, drinking glasses, wine glasses, and beer mugs, determine how many you really use, match them up or find your favourites and the rest go to the give away. If the handle is nearly off, if there is a chip in the glass, or there is only half the cute cat picture left on the mug, it's time to chuck it. When you throw out glass or ceramics do be sure to dispose of them properly so that no one can get cut on it. Go through the rest of your dinnerware and dishes and do the same with all of it. If you have Granny's china and you hate it, I'm going to be honest here, then she really would rather you did not keep it. Take a good picture of the collection, another of the pattern and sell it to someone who will truly love it. Or if you have other family members that whined they didn't get anything from her, pass it on and tell them to quite their bitchin' ;).

How to NOT clean out your kitchen ;) (Scenes after ours was flooded this past February).

Spices, pastas, and raisins, oh my! Put your hand up if you were absolutely certain you had a jar of cloves but be damned if you can find it to make that delicious pie, so of course bought a new one, and of course found the original months later buried in the back of middle shelf, behind a really old bag of peanuts. Yeah, that's what I thought. Though a lot of dry goods do not spoil, they still have a shelf life. On Still,
Do Spices Ever Go Bad?
Answer: From a safety perspective they should be fine, but when it comes to flavouring your food, you may not be very happy with the results. As seasoning makers like McCormick point out, spices do not actually spoil. But when it comes to quality, the story is different. Over time, spices will lose their potency and not flavor your food as intended. As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years, ground spices for about 3 to 4 years and dried leafy herbs for 1 to 3 years.
Their website is a great resource for deciding should it stay or should it go now ;). 9 Foods That Last Forever is a great article too :). Continuing with food, though canned goods have a really long shelf life too but if you accidentally bought pumpkin pie filling instead of canned pumpkin or hate tomato soup why do you still have it in the cupboard? Two words: Food Bank.

Don't forget your before and after photos, especially the pile of what you have decluttered.

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. Thank you to everyone for your patience with me, love you me pretties xx

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 4 - Entries and Halls #cgsc2015

I was having a hard time today deciding on Monday's challenge. Partially I think because my mind is currently elsewhere, mostly with tomorrow's early morning start as I am working the Federal Election here in Canada. I flipped and flopped over thoughts and ideas, kitchen, bathroom, something simple, something more, and nothing felt right. But as per usual some relaxing in my own quiet (but very cluttered) office with the door closed and the Universe spoke. So guess what? As the title obviously implies, today we're going to work on our entries and halls.

Company is coming darlings! What is the very first thing they generally see? The main entry as they walk in the front door of course. So, let's stand at our threshold and look through the eyes of our visitor. Wait! Fuck that! Forget the visitor, this is your home! You should be walking into a place of refuge, the calm after the storm, peace descending from the moment you walk in. Ok, that's a bit corny, but seriously me pretties, you LIVE here, it should feel good to come home! Tell me how you feel as you stand there looking in from your front door. Is it welcoming and relaxing? Or are you tripping over shoes and having to dump your coat on a chair in the kitchen because the closet is too stuffed. Is your entry into your abode - into your inner sanctum - calming or just one more stress in the day?

This isn't necessarily a big challenge, but I do feel it is still an important one. Big or small, your way in, and through, your home should not be an obstacle course, nor should it feel bland and dull as dishwater. Take a few moments to envision what you would really like to see. It does not in any way have to be grand and ostentatious (unless that is what you would like), it should however always feel like home.

Most homes have a coat closet at the entryway, or at all entryways, so we'll get that all cleared out first. Same as your bedroom closet, pull it all out into a big pile, every last shelf and hanger of stuff. The grocery bags, the old shoes, the items piled on the top shelf and long forgotten. Sweep or vacuum out the closet including wiping the closet bar, that top shelf no one ever sees and the back corners where cobwebs have gathered. Now decide what do you really want in there and make a plan.

I personally feel that if it's not something to do with either exiting or entering your home, it doesn't belong. If you must use some of the space for storage of things from other areas then use smart storage. Bins, boxes or baskets are awesome organisers but useless if not labeled. You can buy cheap chalk labels and chalk pens at most local dollar stores right now as chalk is "In" ;). They make excellent labels that can be changed easily as needed. Organise and create a system of whatever you are putting in there. A basket per family member or one each for different items such as gloves, keys, hats, etc. Obviously I have no idea how big or small this area is, this is your space so make sure it will work for you; if it doesn't work, you won't maintain it. And remember, KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)!

Go through all the coats, jackets, sweaters or what have you that were hanging up. The ones from the 90's in the very back, time for those to go, same with the shoes back there. Light jackets won't cut it for the next few months for most of us so if you love it and it is in good condition move it to storage until we do the spring clean. Pull out the winter wear: parkas, the gloves, hats, boots, and scarves. Go through it all, determine your favourites, get rid of the excess. Really, no one needs 20 pairs of gloves! Mismatched items and mittens with holes, you know what to do with those, the extra sets, give away or sell as appropriate. Shelves for shoes are a great addition if you don't already have them and if it gets pretty mucky where you live like it does here then be sure to have a boot rack that you can rinse off regularly. We keep a boot brush on our front step to get all the snow and mud off that we can before even coming inside, best invention ever. Make sure there are a few extra hangers for guests to hang their things and close the closet up. A quick sweep or vacuum of the entry and hallway. Done did!

Now some decorations to come home to and through the hallway for visual interest, decorate by the season if you like, the dollar and thrift stores make this easy and inexpensive. A welcome sign, some pretty pictures, a bench to put on shoes and even a tall plant if you have the room. Make sure the light bulbs are in good working order. I really recommend not going higher than 60 watts, preferably in a yellow hue; a well lit space is great, but it should feel comforting and not blind you when you flip the switch. For decor I'm fond of antique mirrors and vintage artwork, wreaths and inspirational word wall stickies are lovely too, whatever you like, just not too busy and again, there is no need to spend a fortune. An entry rug to catch the remainder of the day's dirt on your shoes, something with a pattern that doesn't show dirt as quickly, and a hallway runner if you like.

Stand on your threshold again. How do you feel this time? I'm hoping you'll have a smile of content on your face, "This is my home, I AM home" *happy heart*. I can't wait to see your pictures from the front door :). Have a marvelous Monday me pretties!

Love & light,
~Síonaínn **  ƸӜƷ  **

Ps. My apologies for the lateness of this post today. If I don't manage to get Day 5 written tonight it will be later in the evening tomorrow as well as I have a 14-hour day ahead of me. I appreciate your patience with me xx 

Image Credit: Architect Wiki