About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: What I Know About Housekeeping

(This is Martha Stewart's house, not mine)

I do not keep a perfectly orderly house.  However, I love to have people over without being embarrassed about how my house looks, so I have learned to do a quick good-enough pick up.  This usually involves putting things in my bedroom and shutting the door, wiping down surfaces, a quick vacuum job and putting mix brownies in the oven.

Recycling and composting save a lot of room in our garbage cans.  I have a recycling system that consists of six kitchen sized trash cans with lids lined up in our mud room.  They are labeled: "Paper", "Plastic", "Aluminum", "Tin", "Glass" and "Corrugated Cardboard".  Any paper that we don't recycle (junk mail/credit card invitations, old bank statements, etc, we burn in our wood stove (IMPORTANT: DO NOT RECYCLE FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS!!).  We don't have curbside recycling here, so once a week or so, I take the recycling out to the dump, which is also an opportunity to watch the eagles.  A local woman has a composting co-op here in Douglas.  On Mondays, we put out our full compost pail, and she picks it up and leaves us an empty one.  I am thinking I am going to try paper bags in our kitchen trash can instead of plastic bags, because our trash is no longer wet.

I use rags instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper ones.  I put a stack of white terry cloth rags (old washcloths) in a basket on the kitchen counter, and put the roll of paper towels in the rag bin to remind me to use rags instead of paper.    I also wash out my plastic zip lock bags and hang them to dry instead of throwing them away.

I am a terrible hoarder of magazines!  See Magazines: An Addiction And A Giveaway .  I do feel guilty about this, if that counts for anything!

I am a little obsessive about sorting laundry.  Doesn't everybody have separate hampers for "Blue/Green, Red/Orange/Purple, White/Yellow, Black/Brown/Gray?  

I am trying to eliminate commercial chemical cleaning products in my home.  We all have asthma, allergies and/or skin conditions.  I make my own laundry detergent .  I do use Spray and Wash Stain Stick for grease spots, but if I figure out how to make my own, I'll let you know!  I also make my own disinfecting cleaner  by mixing 2 tsp. borax, 4 tablespoons white vinegar and 3 C hot water.  I add a couple of drops of lavender oil to make it smell good and pour it into a spray bottle.  I use white vinegar and water to clean windows and mirrors (when I actually clean my windows and mirrors!). 

I hate scrubbing floors, but when I do, I use a rag and vinegar and water on my hands and knees.  In between times, I use my steam mop.  It feels thankless because our wood floors desperately need to be refinished, which will involve moving all the furniture, moving out and kenneling the dogs for a week.  Not to mention a lot of sanding.  Not something I am looking forward to!

(This is my house, not Martha Stewart's)


  1. Hi Paula! Good post. If I wrote well, I could have written it, except for the recycling and wood floor/dogs parts. I must be a little compulsive about laundry, too, because I have 3 bins: red/pink/brown, blue/green/black, and white/light. As beautiful as Martha's house is, I think your house looks more welcoming.

    ~Paula Rutherford

  2. Your home looks better than Martha's because it is a home!

  3. You encourage me to be better at recycling. Love the Our Lady of Guadalupe picture. I have a small shrine in my office.


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