Cleaning: 10-Minutes Per Day

Some people are naturals at cleaning. They thrive on creating a clean, pristine environment for their homes. They wake up ready to tidy up, and it is an essential priority for their lives. They couldn’t imagine living in somewhere cluttered, dusty, or any other synonym for an unclean home. They also likely do not own two dogs and three cats…all of whom are indoor-animals only.

I am not one of these people. But I do know that they exist because my Grandmother is one of them 🙂

Cleaning is a chore to me. I’d much rather be writing, gaming, working out, sleeping, shopping, or really doing any number of things other than cleaning. And while it was easy to decide to just not clean while a child, an adolescent, a college student, or even just living in a small apartment with six roommates in my mid-20s, I eventually reached a moment where I realized that I was nearly 30, and it was no longer acceptable to just not clean my home.

Therefore, cleaning became a mega-chore. First, I had to painstakingly clean, deodorize, organize, and scrub what should have been done years ago. Tears were shed. Then, I needed to maintain the cleanliness. This meant designating Saturday mornings as cleaning time and begrudgingly spending hours making things look neat again. Cleaning became my most-hated chore.

It also meant that my house was pretty-much off-limit for visitors from Wednesday-Friday each week. “Oh God, Saturday is my cleaning day. You don’t want to come over right now; it’s a mess.”

I’d simply never learned to clean. My mother is a pack-rat, and my grandmother is a neat-freak. Whatever needed to be cleaned, my grandmother would do while I let non-perishables collect around me in my bedroom. I didn’t grow up sweeping, mopping, etc. It was a foreign skill. Something needed to change.

I eventually mentioned my plight to my grandmother. It came in the form of me announcing that I wished that my boss would give me a $10K raise so I could afford to hire a live-in maid and never have to clean again. She told me that she was proud of me for finally cleaning at all, but asked why I despised cleaning so much. She became appalled at my Saturday cleaning ritual.

“You’re not supposed to do that!” she told me. “I don’t even do that. You’re supposed to do a little bit every day.”

Over a yummy lunch at her shiny condo, she told me that after my next Saturday morning clean, to just focus on maintaining the cleanliness each day by doing 10 minutes per day.

“Wake up, and set a timer for ten minutes. Put your favourite song on, or one of those podcast things you’re always talking about. Go to a spot in your house that needs to be cleaned, and spend 10 minutes cleaning it. If you feel like continuing after the timer sounds, more power to you. But do at least 10 minutes, and make sure to pick a different room each day.”

She warned me that my home would still not be as clean as her condo since I own a lot of shit and have five animals, and I told her that was okay because her condo’s cleanliness and white carpeting gave me severe anxiety.

So, I gave her idea a shot. I did another four-hour cleaning marathon on that Saturday, rewarding myself with a chicken sandwich and a glass of wine when I was finished. And then, on Sunday, I swept the main floor, changed the trash bag in the kitchen, and wiped off the bathroom counter.

On Monday, I mopped the room with the litter boxes and the puppy pads, wiped off the stovetop, and did a load of laundry.

On Tuesday, I changed our bedding, wiped the toothpaste spots off the mirrors, and placed any moved video game cases and books back onto their appropriate shelves.

It. Was. WORKING.

Now, this is not to say my house can now appear in a magazine. That’s never going to happen, and I am perfectly okay with that. Like I mentioned previously: minimalistic, overly-clean homes give me anxiety. But I no longer have to try to force visitors to come over on certain days and force them to stay away on other days. I don’t wake up saying, “Ugh, something smells.” I don’t have to spend all of my freaking Saturday morning cleaning when I could be resting.

It’s a life-changer.

If you’re like me and do not like cleaning, I highly, highly, highly recommend giving 10-minutes per day a shot. But, do keep in mind that you may need to adjust the time based on your living space. 10-minutes per day works well for middle-class suburban homes. If you live in a studio apartment in New York City, you can likely get away with only 5-minutes per day. If you own a freaking mansion, you may need to set that timer for 15-minutes or 20-minutes per day. If you have no pets or children, your cleaning load will be much lighter than a home with many pets and multiple kids.

Also, please keep in mind that this is just for daily maintenance. I still need to take a couple of hours at least once per month to really deep-clean certain areas, but it is actually enjoyable. I turn on a 90-minute podcast and get to listen to a spooky story while I make amends with my home. But I no longer have to spend four+ hours each week doing so.

Do you have a trusted cleaning regimen, or are you still looking for one that works perfectly for you and your family? Comment below with how you prefer to clean and what works with your schedule, and maybe your own style can help other readers to also gain clean environments 🙂

Scallion Stories

One of the most versatile ingredients that enhances many a meal is scallions. Also known as green onions or shallots, these little babies are available for pretty low a price in most supermarkets.

Making a soup? Add scallions. Cooking some meat? Add scallions. Eggs? Scallions. Pancakes? Scallions. Hell, take your Easy Mac and throw in some scallions for a while new kick!

The best thing about scallions is that they are cheaper than cheap. They can be made available in your own home for FREE.

You don’t need a full garden. You don’t even need a green thumb. You need a bundle of scallions from the supermarket, a cup, some water, and some sunlight.

  1. Grab a bundle of scallions from the supermarket.
  2. Cut 1-2 inches above the white rooted part, so some green still shows.
  3. Place these (with the white roots floating downward) into a small cup of water.
  4. Place the cup in a sunny windowsill and wait! You might see scallion growth by the next morning, or it may take a few days.
  5. Chop the scallions as needed for meals, returning the white base to the cup after use!
  6. Remember to change the water every few days 🙂

Be sure to tag #ScallionStories on all of your scallion photos, and let’s spread the word!

The Joys Of Urban Gardening

One of my new obsessions during this quarantine (I am officially at day 47 since life as I knew it came to a screeching halt) is gardening. And of course, me being me, it has to be done on my terms.

I grew up watching my grandfather grow tomatoes and green bell peppers in my mother’s backyard. I wasn’t a huge fan of either at the time, so I didn’t get to reap the benefits of his harvests. Instead, my gardening memories are of helping him plant each year’s crops…sitting with him in the late morning sun, digging holes with my little shovel, and staring at awe at the ecosystem of never-before-seen insects traversing under the ground. These are memories that I look back on fondly, and I am smiling currently as I write.

However, I never had any desire for a garden of my own until I purchased a house with my husband in March 2018. We purchased a house because our friends were purchasing homes; a nice, middle-income suburban home within a two-mile radius of my mother, my grandparents, and many close friends. Most of these friends were also beginning to plant gardens, so this meant that I needed a garden, too, right?

Wrong. Reoccurring flooding in our basement stressed us to our max, and a garden became the least of our worries for the remainder of the year.

Spring 2019 came around, and I purchased entirely too many plants. I purchased plants for foods we never even ate on a minimal basis, and an excess of it all. Furthermore, I then had no clue how to properly plant them, and my poor husband had to dig up the land to shovel my new treasures into the ground. Thankfully, most of them grew, and we were able to enjoy the glee of walking outside and harvesting our dinner on a daily basis.

Then, July 2019 brought with it the worst heatwave Kentucky has seen in two decades, and all of my crops were roasted. The few that survived were then pummelled by caterpillars and rendered useless.

I had failed.

Luckily, so had most of our friends, so it made me feel less miserable when I’d stare at my ruined garden every time I went outdoors.

In roared 2020. I missed my garden, but I refused to deal with the weather and the pests ever again. I purchased a 30-gallon fish tank from Amazon Marketplace and filled it with fresh planting soil. I selected several flower pots and mason jars and filled those as well. I rigged up a hanging shelf unit (also from Amazon) to place in the windowsill. And then I tossed the remainder of last year’s seeds into each one and drowned them with warm water and Miracle Grow.

A week passed, and nothing changed. I waited for the moment my husband would gently pull me aside and give me the “You just don’t have a green thumb” talk. And after nearly two weeks of sadness, I nearly peed myself when I saw a tiny green leaf protruding from one of the pots. I took a photo and sent it out in my group chat. I rushed over to my husband and showed him the pot. I called my mother.

You’d have thought I’d won the lottery. And I had.

Mother Nature’s lottery.

Each day, something new appeared, and I excitedly catalogued it on Instagram. I bought new seeds, new jars, and grew more and more plants. It’s an obsession, but a healthy one.

My grandfather has a green thumb. My mother does not. I am overjoyed to discover that I have a green thumb, and I also cringe internally upon realizing that my future offspring will one day kill my crops while mommy is on a business trip.

But the best part is that this is the start of an amazing urban garden. I am growing MY crops in MY home for MY benefit. I am sustaining my family from the comfort of my living room and my basement. I am placing our health first, both internally with fruits, veggies, and herbs, but also by placing more oxygen into the air for the benefit of our lungs and the aroma of our home.

The blogs in this category that follow will detail the good, the bad, and the ugly of urban gardening. If you have any questions, please reach out to me on Instagram, and I will be happy to chat!

Calculating Your Macros

In order to properly calculate your macros for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, you need to know how many calories you’re currently eating.

There are ways to estimate this, but people get the best results when tracking their calorie intake for a consecutive seven days. It is extremely important to make sure that you track an average week and weekend (i.e. no special events that alter your diet).

I recommend downloading the free app Carb Manager for iOS and Android to track your macros. Carb Manager is advertised as an app for keto diets, but it has functionality for all macro choices! When you install the app, it will have you create an account and select how you want to balance your macros. As you enter foods during the day, it will show you exactly how you are doing!

It is extremely important that you do not change the way you eat during this week. Why? You want to be shocked. Maybe the way you’ve been eating isn’t so bad. In that case, slight tweaks may be all that you need. Maybe your general diet is atrocious. You need to see how that looks in order to jumpstart your brain into making better decisions for your new lifestyle.

Using a food scale or actual measurement tools are also extremely beneficial for this phase. Many people are surprised to see what 5oz of chicken or 1tbsp of peanut butter actually looks like. Remember to track all of the little licks, tastes, and bites that you consume throughout the day, as these can sneak up on you and add up quickly!

When setting up your tracking app, it will have you enter your height, weight, daily activity level, and goals, and it will provide you with a recommended daily caloric intake from this. Take this figure, and use the chart below to figure out your recommended macros from that figure.

I generally consume 1200 retained calories per day, and I typically live in a weight-loss macro. This means that I should aim for 420-600 calories from protein, 300-540 calories from carbs, and 240-420 calories from fats.

Wait? What did I mean by retained calories? Your workouts burn calories, and you get to subtract those calories! If my workout will burn 300 calories, I actually should aim to eat 1500 total calories in a day, which will leave me with my 1200 recommended retained calories.

If I ate only 1200 total calories and then worked out, I would only have 900 retained calories for that day, which is far too low a deficit. This can trigger your body’s starvation mode reflex, which will actually cause your body to store fat instead of burning it normally!

Crime & Tea | Elisa Lam

When 21-year-old Canadian college tourist Elisa Lam disappears after embarking on her “West Coast Tour”, frazzled family and feds hurry to locate her and accidentally stumble upon one of the most baffling disappearance mysteries of all time.

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