Good morning and welcome back. A week off was just what I needed to recharge my depleted batteries. I find myself with lots to write about (a lot to do myself) so I am going to jump right in.

After a lovely and quiet Christmas, I got up on Saturday ready to begin my new year’s cleaning. I started with my mudroom. I first spent about 20 minutes with my notebook and pen just looking around, figuring what was working and what was not. I looked with eye toward both convenience and safety as my home’s main means of egress is through this space. I realize that my problems won’t be just like yours but my problems and how I solve them might give you some ideas for your own space.

My mudroom is long and narrow. As you walk in the back door, the washing machine and drier are on the short wall on your left. Bruce built a set of deep shelves over the washer and hung a clothes rod over the drier. I had let this area get cluttered with built up ironing and a basket of unmatched socks. I went through the cleaning supplies I keep on the shelves and made a list in my notebook on what I need to replace and resources for finding more sustainable cleaning supplies.  I cleaned the appliances really well, matched the socks and caught up on the ironing then moved to the long wall.

There I found the reason for my lack of ironing. I have a very old, really heavy ironing board. It is such a pain to pull out that I only do it when I absolutely have too. On the list went a small, portable ironing board. I want one small enough to fit on my kitchen table and light enough for me to easily carry. Next on the long wall is a hanging wooden bookcase that Bruce built to hold hats, mittens and scarves. The top of the cabinet held some small stoves I built when I was researching Just In Case. I tossed those out and went through everything, matching mittens and mending hats. I pulled out a lot of the extras, washed and dried them really well and packed them away in an upstairs closet. With fewer things to keep together, I hope we can keep this area neater. Next on this wall are two rows of ten coat hooks. These were a mistake from the very beginning. They are cheap and light and did not hold up well at all. What I really want are the kind you used to find in school, heavy and indestructible. In my notebook went a reminder to stop at the hardware store and ask them to order new, heavy-duty hooks. I went through the coats, removing the out-of-season coats, mending a couple that needed new buttons or hems redone. I am lucky to have a huge closet upstairs to put the things I won’t  need until spring.

Now on to the next short wall. Here is the door to the kitchen and next to that, our small freezer. Bruce hung a very nice cabinet over the freezer that was supposed to hold my year’s supply of jelly and pickles but, with the shelving we put in the basement, I no longer need for that purpose. I cleaned out the cabinet and now it holds my supply of kitty food. That matters because it gets those bags off the floor and freed up some space. On the final long wall, the same wall with outside door is a wierd closet.  Bruce built it when he put in a shed and rebuilt the basement bulkhead. It is just large enough to hang the heavy coats. I have always had a problem as some of our wool coats and big, canvas barn coats were always breaking the plastic hangers and falling off wire hangers. I replaced all of the hangers with good quality wooden hangers and that problem was solved. I finished up by washing the floor and the doors. The room looks fresh and clean and functions a lot better. Bruce took the measurements for building a small wooden bench. Now we will have a place to sit and remove boots.

We have decided to make our house a shoe free zone to keep so much dirt from being dragged inside. In my notebook is a reminder to look for a pretty basket to hold a bunch of slipper socks for people to wear if they like. The bench and basket will sit in the spot we used to keep the cat food bags.

Keeping your means of egress free of clutter really matters if you have to evacuate in the night. I was always searching for my pocketbook as there were so many coats, it was always getting buried. If I need my car keys in a hurry, this could be a real problem. Now I have a dedicated hook and can find it when I need it.

When I begin a big cleaning project, I find it helpful to begin with a space that is smaller and easy to finish in a day. It is so motivating to see the results. I am going shopping on Wednesday. One of my sons gave me some gift card and I am going to use them to purchase the things I listed in my notebook as well as a can of paint. As soon as the wather improves I plan to repaint the space. I am also going to buy a wireless doorbell as people who don’t know that they have to walk through the mudroom and knock on the kitchen door often assume we aren’t home as we can’t heat them when we are in the living room.