Stocking Stuffer Housekeeping

The Thanksgiving holiday meant I had a week with no obligations off the property. This hasn’t happened for a while, so I decided to make it a low RPMs week. I’ve done my daily writing sessions (nothing like a new duke to get my fingers flying), and made the grocery run, but other than that I am rolling around in my own private Idaho. Wheee!

For no discernible reason, I decided that I would add to my slack days a goal of getting one thing per day cleaned or tidied up that isn’t on the mandatory routine list. I got the top of the fridge cleared off yesterday (the cats love how warm it is up there). Another day, I organized some kitchen cabinets. My ambitions are minimal: Straighten out one shelf so the little spice bottles don’t come tumbling down whenever I open cabinet door. (That minimal.)

Get after all the folded up and stashed grocery bags. They are a fire hazard, Grace Ann, and you can recycle both paper and plastic.

Compost heap the outdated food gathering dust on the pantry shelves. The raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, and possums don’t know from expiration dates, and the nights are getting chilly.

My really big accomplishment was to put a hook on the outside of the laundry room door, so the cats can’t go in there. (Took me five minutes once I found the right size nail for the hole to guide the screws.) The door closes from the inside (another hook), but I never got around to the outside work-around when the ancient door-knob mechanism died years ago.

The results of my one-thing campaign are nearly invisible to anybody who doesn’t live here, but I intend to persist. It is lovely to not have to wipe paw prints off the washer and dryer every day. It is delightful to open a cupboard without fear of being spice-bombed. The kitchen feels easier to navigate without a hoard of grocery bags crammed between the fridge and the counter.

I might run out of steam tomorrow, but so far… I am liking this trend, for two reasons. First, I’m happier in my house. I don’t see the dirt the way some people do, but I still live here, and my environment has an impact on my outlook. The endless paw prints, the flying cloves… they take a micro-toll on my energy and joy, and why pay extra tolls?

The second benefit came as something of a surprise. This is the time of year when we’re bombarded with requests for donations, when we’re exerting ourselves to be sociable to people we might honestly rather avoid. We’re subtly nudged to be nicer, more generous, more grateful. Heaven knows the world is full of deserving causes, but as we head toward the end of the year, it can feel like one big Go Emotionally and Monetarily Fund Everything.

To donate fifteen minutes a day to the longer term dignity and peace of my dwelling, to be able to say, “That’s a little better!” about the place where I live, feels good. I am deserving of a pleasant home–everybody is–and taking baby steps to bring that boon closer reminds me that charity begins at home.

What will you give yourself in the coming weeks–we’ve all been very good this year, right? What would you like from others?

PS: Miss Dramatic hits the retail shelves on Tuesday. If you’d like an e-ARC, please email me at [email protected], and let me know which device you read on.



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17 comments on “Stocking Stuffer Housekeeping

  1. I would like to bring myself more grace. Telling myself ‘ “it’s ok to feel this” or “you are doing the best that you can”
    And then hopefully I can turn around and apply that same spirit of grace to those around me. I need that desperately!

  2. I think I’m giving myself the ability to say “No” to Christmas dinner with my family. I just did Thanksgiving (there were over 25 people there) and an out-of-town niece and family are arriving the week before Christmas so I will be seeing them, if not more of the local family. I am still wary of lots of people (though I had my latest COVID booster last week) and, really, about the most I have in common with my family is blood. They’re nice enough but I do better easing into things. Plus my partner, whose birthday is Christmas, would also rather not have to share his celebration with them. Don’t call me “Grinch” though because I’m totally fine with other people doing what they want. I’d just rather stay at home with my partner. All I mostly want from others is to be left alone.

    As to your doing little things around the house, I have also been trying to do something small like that, though I don’t manage every day. But I have made some progress and that feels good. I’ve even managed to get my partner to get rid of a few things (that’s like pulling teeth since he’s always worried he’ll need something after he gets rid of it even if he hasn’t touched it in 5 years).

  3. Pingback: Make Way for Dukelings! | Grace Burrowes | I believe in love.

  4. I’m 5 feet tall. Cleaning the top of the refrigerator has never been on my to do or can do list. I salute you! Smaller things closer to the floor I will work on

  5. Things in my house (decorative and/or functional) have a place to be. My life is easier if I don’t have to track things down. I am not a “white glove” housekeeper. If it bothers me, I do it. If it bothers you, you’re welcome to do it. Six decades into managing my own home has built a solid daily routine to which I add one extra thing a day. The extra thing may be straightening a drawer or installing pull-out shelves in a cabinet or painting a room. The complexity or time commitment is immaterial. But I do at least one extra thing every day. The reason is twofold – The routine things I do every day whether done well or not, will be done again tomorrow. The one extra thing brings feeling of accomplishment beyond the usual.

  6. I was doing the “one to a few” things in a day in 5 areas of my space until COVID hit — yes, someone actually coughed on me in a health facility. It was lovely finding a home for several things on a daily basis.
    My gift to myself is getting back to doing that daily.

  7. I’m giving myself the gift of stepping back. I am too busy to get everything done I’d like, and my stamina is also waning. I’m going to go to work five days a week, make sure the (many) critters are fed and watered, the laundry is done and put away, and not stress over what is *not* done.

  8. Grace,
    I am so with you on the little jobs getting done. I’ve been sorting drawers to get rid of things and finishing Christmas ornaments from the last century. I had the embroidery finished in a snap, but the finishing to hang them…the past few days have seen them done. I can appreciate not having spices jump out when cooking and the slow pace suits me just fine. Like the tortoise I do finish eventually.
    Our greetings to your cats from our Lucy and Misty and us, of course.

  9. I’m trying to remember that everyone has something they are living through and give them and me a break. Less homework for kids, more time to make origami figures, an extra smile.

  10. I love the idea of adding one task at a time to the daily grind. It makes projects so much more manageable. Right now, my focus is on the holidays… gifting for family and friends, decorating the house, baking the Christmas cookies, planning a friends’ holiday party. I tend to make lists and spreadsheets and am known to distribute post-it notes around like snowflakes to keep track of everything. At 72 years old, needs must. So I allot the many tasks to specific days on my calendar so by the end of December, everything is done and I can just sit back and enjoy. By planning out the tasks, I try not to overtax myself. Come January, when the holiday rush is over, I will turn my attention to the income tax rush, trying to gather everything the accountant will need to file in a timely fashion. Then I will clean out this year’s files and set things up for the new year. But, hopefully, come February, I will once again get to look around the house and determine what needs reorganizing, what needs pruning, and what (God forbid!) needs dusting… (Maybe the gift I give myself will be putting off the dusting…) Stay safe. Stay well everyone! And Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate!!!

  11. Thanks for your tip about adding one more thing per day to clean or tidy up, that should help me take care of my backlog of tasks. I am a bookalcoholic (Not looking for a cure), with a one or two book a day habit. Thanks for being one of the writers I am enthusiastic about! (Yes, I do recommend your books to friends.)

    Good luck finding a place to ride horses (and find a good horse), I only rode a few times when I was in elementary school when friends brought me along to ride with them (they owned horses). The silliest time was when I rode a horse named Taffy (which was also my nickname). She was a nice horse, but I was really not much of a rider. I was just on a blanket (no saddle), and since I was undersized and skinny, I couldn’t grip with my legs, it felt like I was trying to do the splits. My shoes extended off to each side of the horse’s back. While Taffy was walking, things were fine, but when the others started trotting, she did too, and I started a slow slide down her side. Taffy then slowed back down to a walk as I hung on, and by the time I slithered down close to her abdomen, she was at a stop, so I hit the ground gently. Too bad no one had a camera, I might have looked like a trick rider clinging to her side for that little while. Taf

  12. This is a wonderful reminder to be kind to one’s self. I’m following your lead to do a 15 minute clean up. Results are a sense of order and inner gratitude reflected out to others. Thank you.

  13. Your new strategy? I call it the Power of One. If I’m struggling for energy (emotional, physical, or mental) I keep myself moving in the forward direction with the power of one strategy.

  14. I am not Christmas shopping this year. It’s devastating. The charities want cash, why not my nearest and dearest? I love the shopping, the wrapping, the boxes and bows, so whether it’s a bane or a blessing remains to be seen.

  15. I have just finshed reading about the Ketterings in “Worth” and “His Lordship’s true Lady”. Is there a story about Yolanda? I would love to see what happens there. Thanks,

  16. I just finished Phillip and Hecate’s story! So clever! It kept me up until 1:25! I’d love to read an ARC of Miss Dramatic!


  17. I’ve been trying to get one more thing done on top of my usual, but I don’t have a great completion rate. Some days I do, some days I’m too tired. I do have a similar experience of the things I do get done improving my life by getting rid of small annoyances but I also find great satisfaction from clearing out the clutter shoved to the back of the cupboard. Maybe being more consistent will be my new year’s experiment.

    Random side note: maybe there will be a Nightshade for writing soon!