Easy Ways to Keep Your Spaces Clean!

“Cleanliness is close to godliness.” And it’s true, when things are clean and organized we tend to feel almost like gods for making it happen. But how quickly the mighty fall. Having a dirty and/or messy space can feel overwhelming, which can lead to the worsening of the problem. Below you will find my tips and tricks for keeping your space clean and organized so you, too, can feel like a god.

Pick up immediately.

Now, by this I mean that instead of just kicking your shoes off your feet and leaving them lying around for anyone to trip on, put them away immediately. It becomes less of an ordeal later if you put in the effort when you’re already taking off your shoes, which is effort itself. You won’t have to later stop what you’re doing to put something away or clean a dish. It’ll already be where it’s supposed to be! Plus, if you put things off, it’ll not only make doing it later extra effort, it might be forgotten entirely. Making a habit of doing things immediately and when you think of them leads to tidier spaces.

Spend five minutes at the end of the day tidying up.

I don’t know about you, but I always sleep better once my space has been tidied for the night. A cluttered room can reflect a cluttered mind. If everything is put away before bedtime, I believe it symbolically tells your brain to put away the worries and cares of the day. Plus, you’ll wake up and there’ll be only one thing to do . . .

Make your bed first thing in the morning.

Making your bed is a small action that has a big payoff. Mainly, it makes your whole room look better in less than five minutes. Making your bed is a small accomplishment, which can lead to better self-confidence for the day because something was immediately accomplished upon waking. Also, if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have already tackled something not unpleasant, but not enjoyable either, which makes you feel productive and will likely increase your productivity throughout the rest of the day.

Have a designated cleaning day at least once a week.

Here I mean cleaning, not tidying up. Break out your Windex and Clorox, it’s time to get clean! Replace and wash your sheets and towels. Clean the entire bathroom and kitchen. Dust and vacuum your room. Doing these tasks once a week will ensure that filth does not build up in your spaces, and cleaning will therefore not be an ordeal done once a month – or less. It’ll be a quick endeavor you do one or two hours a week, and we all know that’s practically no time at all.

Basically, my advice is to stay on top of things. Don’t procrastinate. That’s how filth accumulates. You can do it!

The Benefits of Journaling

Dear Diary,

Today I’m going to talk about the benefits of journaling on my blog.

Journaling has many benefits. Among these are emotional benefits, which lead to physical benefits, and an increase in the amount and quality of what one writes.

So let’s start with that obvious. By committing to journaling at least once a week, you’re already writing one more time a week than you normally would. Writing is a craft best improved, like many others, through practice. Journaling is an excellent way to do so. Another reason journaling is a great way to practice writing and make writing a habit is that the source material is you. Your thoughts and daily doings and thoughts about those daily doings are what you’re writing about. This could blossom into something bigger.

Journaling is also a great emotional exercise. Why do you think movies depict teenage girls writing in their journals all time? Journaling forces you to look at your day and process your feelings about it. Emotional stability can help with stress and pain management.

Go find yourself a pretty journal, one that makes you excited to fill its pages. Get a pen you love to write with, so you actually write in it. And get to writing!

Cheer Up, Buttercup!

Do you ever wake up and it’s raining and the dog pooped in her crate overnight and you forgot a homework assignment and you’re down on yourself the whole rest of the day?

Me neither.

But, if that were hypothetically true for me, this is what I’d do to cheer up.

I’d name everything I was grateful for, even if it was something as simple as breathing and a full belly.

I’d walk my dog and be patient with her as she sniffed everything and searched for the perfect place to do her business.

I’d journal about how I was feeling, no matter how silly or stupid it seemed later.

I’d watch something funny, or at least some favorite of mine that’s uplifting.

I’d talk to a friend, whether in person or on the phone. I’d vent about my life, then be sure to ask and listen about theirs. Other people’s problems and triumphs are a good distraction from your own troubles.

I’d cuddle my dog and kiss her silky little head, knowing that her love is unconditional and eternal.

I’d list everyone I know loves me, and remember that they still love me, too, no matter how badly I feel or how badly my day is going.

I’d read an engrossing book and lose myself in its pages and story.

I’d eat something delicious and healthy. A full belly makes for a happier perspective.

I’d drink water. Being adequately hydrated means you’re more awake, which means you’re in a better mood, most of the time.

 

Sunday Morning Classical Playlist

En Bateau – Claude Debussy

By a Sleepy Lagoon – Eric Coates

Sailing By – Ronald Binge

Nessun Dorma (instrumental) – Giacomo Puccini

Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 – Edvard Grieg

The Blue Danube Waltz – Johann Strauss II

The Swan – Camille Saint-Saens

Gymnopedie No. 1 – Erik Satie

Romance – Rachmaninoff

La Mer – Claude Debussy

Anniversary Dinner – Pinterest Style

The picture you see above is the finished result of our belated third anniversary dinner. I decided, since it was cold and rainy on the one night we could do it, to have an indoor picnic in the tiny bedroom that I share with my little dog in the four-bedroom apartment I share with three other women, two other dogs, and a cat. My little bedroom was really the only space we could use for any privacy.

All you need to duplicate this is you or your significant other’s favorite recipe (the one that you can stand), a few things from the dollar store and cheap section at Target, and lots of love. (I know, I know, cue retching noise.)

The things I got from the dollar store are: tea lights, a plastic tablecloth, and wine glasses. The things from the cheap section of Target are: a bunch of fake roses in a glass vase, a short string of battery-powered lights, and more candles. Because I am a college student, I also didn’t have wine glasses, so those were procured at the dollar store as well.

I made the boyfriend’s favorite dish: chicken parmesan, or a variation thereof. I made the sauce myself, using no recipe at all, just prior knowledge from watching my mother and grandparents’ make endless batches of sauce. After heating the olive oil in a saucepan, I seasoned it with garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil, and added the onions. Then the canned tomatoes were poured in, and I crushed them with a wooden spoon in the pan. Unfortunately the tomatoes, being whole, had seeds, but this was overlooked during consumption. A splash of red wine, and I let it stew for a while on low heat.

The boyfriend helped with the chicken and the salad like the decent adult he is. I forgot the flour step of the breading and had him dip the chicken in egg, then Panko breadcrumbs. The chicken cooked in a pan for about five minutes, then was placed on a baking sheet, drizzled with sauce, and covered in mozzarella. He slid it into the oven, set at 350 degrees, until the coating was golden under the white and the red of the cheese and the sauce.

The pasta being boiled and the salad made (nothing special, just a lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, and diced apples, dressed with honey and apple cider vinegar), dinner was ready. Beverages were red wine for me, beer for the boyfriend – while I love wine and dislike beer, he’s a beer drinker to the core.

I had spread the red plastic tablecloth on the floor, and the boyfriend helped me move my trunk to serve as table to the center of it. I draped the battery-powered lights across the trunk, lit the candles, and we brought in the food. It was romantic with candlelight and delicious, especially so since we made the meal together.

Please feel free to like, comment, share, and replicate!

Five Favorite Movies

In no particular order:

  1. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Though this film is a Woody Allen film, I absolutely loved it. The premise of this film is strikingly similar to games I used to play and stories I used to write as a child. Plus, it takes place in Paris! With an all-star cast of characters we all know and love from the Lost Generation, this is a delightful movie.

2. Moonstruck (1987)

A classic, this film reminds me of my own family on the maternal side, albeit my family is much larger. A film that at first glance seems serious, it is a comedy that capitalizes on everyday hilarity and the awkwardness of family.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

One of the best movies of all time, in my opinion. Jimmy Stewart is charming, and the whole film you’re rooting for him, even when that means he doesn’t get what he thinks he wants or needs. Funny and touching, a film for the family, never gets old.

4. Rebecca (1940)

This is one of my favorite books, and one of the few book-to-movie adaptations whereI believe the movie told the story better than the novel. Though it’s difficult to believe that Joan Fontaine is as plain as the heroine in the novel, everything else about the characterization remains consistent to the novel. A great book, the story really shines in the form of a film. Alfred Hitchcock does not disappoint.

5. Ever After (1998)

A retelling of the Cinderella story. As previously stated, I am a sucker for a Cinderella story. The relative historical accuracy of this film is gorgeous and lends a sense of truth to the story. Danielle is feisty but obedient, because she desires what we all do: love. Her stepmother, played by the beautiful Anjelica Houston, is a formidable but understandable villain. The ending is most satisfying.

 

Four Favorite Children’s Books

DISCLAIMER: Though these books all feature strong female protagonists, this list has not been assigned a title that excludes any gender. It is important for true feminism that all genders see many different types of people in positions of strength, whether those positions follow traditional gender roles or not.

  1. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle

An excellent introduction to science fiction, this book is engaging, chilling, and enlightening. This book is important not only for this reason, but also because it stresses Meg’s worthiness, despite her lack of conventional beauty and traditional academic success. It showed how her intelligence was in other areas, and just as valid as any other type of intelligence. This book forces the child to think while it never lets them go until the last page.

2. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

(DISCLAIMER: Judge not this book by its movie, despite Anne Hathaway’s talent.) I’m a sucker for any iteration of the “Cinderella” story. Ella, though, is not the traditional Cinderella. Inflicted with a curse from birth that forces her to be obedient, Ella Enchanted offers an explanation besides traditional societal roles for her remaining with her abusive family. Ella disobeys to the best of her ability, and she is brave and charming and considerate. The book is full of adventure. A great read for girls and boys alike.

3. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

Anne is the funny, lovable, imaginative protagonist of these books (yes, it’s a series – eight books long). Her imagination inspires the imagination of the reader. The descriptions of Prince Edward Island are utterly beautiful. A delight.

4. The Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

I need not tell you why this book is important. Though this book is for the middle-school age reader and older, it is an essential read. Anne is wise beyond her years, even as she goes through typical and universal adolescent struggles. This book shows the resilience of the human spirit and keeps alive the legacy of one of the best writers of the twentieth century, who was struck down in an untimely manner, and torturously and inhumanely.

Social Media

If you follow me on other social media you may have noticed that much of my information is no longer visible, and some social media accounts have been deleted entirely. The reasons for this have their source in my Digital Rhetoric class.

Firstly, in Digital Rhetoric the knowledge that my information is recorded and surveilled was reiterated to me. This disturbed me. Even though I have nothing to hide, it disturbs me that something that is supposed to be fun and a way to keep loved ones updated on my life is something that can be used against me, even if that detriment is just to advertise products I do not need and promoting consumerism and materialism through those advertisements. That is one of the minor evils, but an evil nonetheless.

The other thing Digital Rhetoric has revealed to me is the pervasiveness of social media. In Digital Rhetoric I have been required to create a blog, an Instagram for that blog, and a Hootsuite account for the Instagram. These interconnected medias are almost necessary in today’s supersaturated society, if one wants to be noticed.

Obviously I want this blog to be noticed. But the rest of it? I’m fine with keeping it to myself. I would delete Facebook entirely if it wasn’t for the following reasons: I use it to log in to just about everything else because remembering passwords is not a forte of mine; I have family and friends who do not use any other social media and it’s an easy way to keep them updated on my life; I use it to share this blog; and there are others in my life whom I want to see succeed, and again, Facebook is an easy way to stay updated.

So do not be alarmed that my social medias have become limited or have disappeared. I’m fine. Everything is fine. I was not hacked. I’m just over it.

The Block and the Sludge and the Muse

The block is coming.

The writer’s block.

I know what needs to be written, for the most part. The thing to do is to write through this less-inspired moment until I reach inspiration again. The only way to reach inspiration is not to rest and expect the mountain to come to Mohammed. Resting is all well and good and can help on the journey, but it won’t get you anywhere in and of itself. The only way to reach an inspired place again is to work through the sludge. To write anyway. To write and write and write, even if it’s trash, to write even though you hate every word, to write.

Like I’ve said before, the only way to do the thing is to do the thing. Even when you don’t want to do it. Even when you feel like trash and everything you’re writing is trash and why are you doing this and maybe you should wait until you’re blessed by the muse once more.

Except, the muse won’t work unless you do. While a benevolent deity, she won’t bless a lazy writer. She won’t bless the writer who isn’t already actively trying on his own. She sees the effort, she appreciates it, and then she nudges the writer along to keep the work going. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, but something has to be the first mover.

I am the first mover.

Excuse me, I’m going to go write.

Frustration

My story is coming along well. Vivien (I’ve changed the spelling of her name) and her adventures are slowly gearing up to begin. I’m on chapter five, and I’ve written over thirty pages total.

Still, I feel the story is very much lacking. Or, not so much very lacking as slightly lacking, which is somehow worse. There’s a transition within it that skips “the better part of a year,” and it’s a little awkward. I have nothing to fill that almost-year with, though. There isn’t any major action that occurs in that space of time, so I don’t know what to do with it. Also, the rising action, after a diversion, will culminate soon. But I only have a little over thirty pages!

I oughtn’t worry; I can always go back. This is just a first draft. I can always expand and refine later. I just have to get the words on the page.

Besides, I know this story isn’t my masterpiece. I do think it could be a decent novel or, on my current path, novella, though. It must be written. It must be finished. I don’t know if it will go anywhere. I’d love for it to be published, but if I only finished it and it never saw the light of a bookstore, I’d be content as well.

I guess I’ll just keep rolling along.