A Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Registration Coupon Code for YOU! Let’s do it, CU!

Thinking about participating in one of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon events this year? Do it. Better yet–let’s do it together.

It’s one of my favorite things to do in CU–we make a weekend of it. We get an iHotel room that Friday night and we cheer on all our buddies running the 5K. We get up bright and early Saturday morning and run our race. And then we spend the rest of the day tailgating and cheering on the runners finishing their half and full marathon races. Join us this year. I’ll save you a seat at our tailgate. Boom.

All of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon race courses are great–fast and flat. You’ll get a beautiful, scenic tour of  Chambana–a lively campus, a revitalized downtown, tree-lined residential neighborhoods and awesome paved park trails. And the best part–there are thousands of volunteers and fans stationed along the course to cheer you along. When I ran the half marathon I was cheered and high-fived the entire 13.1 miles–it was amazing. I’d never been more proud of this community.

If you’ve never participated, this is your year. I promise there’s really no better feeling than running into Memorial Stadium at the end of your race–listening to the roar of that huge crowd.

Then you get a medal. And medals are awesome.

The euphoria you feel crossing that finish line and grabbing your medal rivals the euphoria I felt when I finally birthed Dean after 12 hours of labor (and two hours of pushing). It’s really that good.

This year’s race weekend takes place April 28-30th. So we have 8 weeks to train–plenty of time. Check out these free training plans from Hal Higdon–there’s a plan for every Illinois Marathon race and every level of runner. So pick your poison.

AND–here’s the best part. A $5 off coupon code for your registration–use it before the price increase March 1st. SO TODAY, PEOPLE.

Registering with this coupon code is easy:

  1. Visit Illinois Marathon to start the registration process.
  2. Click the Click Here to REGISTER button.
  3. Select the race you want to register for. (The coupon code works for all races except the youth run, sorry.)
  4. Toward the end of the registration process, enter hatandhermarkers2016 in the “Discount Code” box and hit apply. $5 will be deducted from the race entry.
  5. If you are registering more than ONE person during the same registration session, you’ll want to get everyone’s information entered before you enter hatandhermarkers2016 in the Discount Code box. If you enter the code after inputting everyone’s name, the system will discount each entry $5.

Sign up. Sign the whole family up. There’s good stuff going on all weekend for every age group. So make it a family affair. Because you know what they say. The family that runs together–runs together. Ha.

And I want to hear from you. Let me know which race you’re registering for in the comments below. I’m doing the 10k this year. We can be training buddies.

Here are some pictures of all of us running in the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon races over the years–and tailgating afterward.

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2011. Plus a photo bomb of Sarah Wilson (her hubby Mitch is our only friend who’s braved the Full Maratahon. He killed it.)

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Grandpa Hat and Johnny. A News-Gazette photo. 2012.

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2013.

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Deano. With Nanny and Grandpa Hat. 2013.

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My buddy Mark Palmer. He tweeted while running the Half Marathon. 2014.

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My girlfriend Betsy. I’ve been chasing her since our St Matthew Track and Field days in 1992. She finished a full hour before me in the Half Marathon. Ha. 2014.

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2014.

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2015.

We’re all smiles. And you will be too. I’ll be there cheering you along the way, I promise. See you at the finish line in April. XOXO.

coconut chicken curry for everyone, even the kids.

I love anything curry. And I really love anything spicy curry. But my kids? Not so much. They won’t even eat a speck of black pepper these days.

Here’s a coconut chicken curry recipe everyone in your family will love, even the kids. We’ll use curry powder–instead of red or green curry–so it won’t be spicy. But it will still be full of flavor–and it’s easy to prepare and healthy. You can’t beat that.

I adapted Louise Hendon’s recipe from Paleo Magazine.

Coconut Chicken Curry

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup of coconut cream (skim from the top of 1 can (13.5oz) of coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt to taste

Instructions

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Sauté the chicken in your coconut oil in a medium-sized pot.

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When the outside of the chicken has all turned white add the coconut cream and the chicken broth. Mix well.

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Add in the carrots, celery and tomatoes.

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Add in the ginger and curry powder.

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Cook on medium heat with the lid on for 40 minutes (stirring occasionally).

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Add in the minced garlic, cilantro and salt to taste.

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Cook for another 5 minutes–with one kid up on the counter and the other standing right by an open flame–and serve.

Mother. Of. The. Year, Yo. But I make a mean curry.

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You could serve this over cauliflower rice to keep it Paleo and Whole30 complaint. Or you could serve it over rice. We eat ours like stew. It’s delish. Enjoy!

the first snow day.

I just tucked two sleepy boys into their warm, cozy beds.

And I have a husband–and two DVRd shows (Better Call Saul and The People vs OJ Simpson, don’t judge) all queued up–waiting for me downstairs. But I want to post this blog entry right now, because I want to remember it forever.

. . .

Today was our first official snow day. The boys only go to preschool every other day–and this year’s one and only snow day happened to fall on a school day for them. So I called into work–and we really did it up right.

I cranked the Christmas Spirit and decided to leave the flannel sheets on the bed for another week.

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My house smelled like Christmas Magic.

I had three cups of coffee this morning. Three. Boom.

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That’s butter and coconut oil floating on top–in case you were wondering. It’s the only way to go with your cup–or three–of joe.

We hunkered down and watched the blizzard roll in over our pond. We watched and listened to the wind blow and blow–until all our windows were completely snow-covered.

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Someday I’ll miss having a backyard full of plastic crap. Someday.

We jumped on the bed–for an hour straight.

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Look at them. It was like I’d told them they’d won something. So happy–they both peed their pants a little. That’s when you know you’re having the time of your life. I do that too sometimes–when life gets really good.

We made snow ice cream.

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And if you’re going to tell me you aren’t supposed to eat snow because of air pollution or whatever–just don’t. We had 1/2 cup. It rocked. We’re still alive. End of story.

Daddy made it home a little early and we all cuddled up in our bed. And napped.

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Sweet, sweet snow day naps. I love you.

Sweet, sweet snow days. I really love you.

. . .

It was a really, really good day–this first snow day of ours. Only a few melt-downs (no pics of those, sorry) in between Legos and Imaginext and four games of Monopoly.

There was way more good than bad happening around here today–for this mom and her Marker boys. And I soaked it all in.

I’m leaving it all here–so I can come back and visit whenever I need to. Or they need to.

I hope there was way more good than bad happening around you today too. And I hope you all enjoyed the snow day of 2016. Until next year, blizzards. XOXO.

 

the big, bad house decluttering series. part four.

We made it! Four weeks of decluttering and deep cleaning–part one, part two, part three and now part four–in the books! I saved the best (or maybe the worst?) for last.

Closets. They’re probably my least favorite area to organize–but in my opinion–they’re the most rewarding once they’re done.

We’re going to take it one day at a time this week–so hang in there with me. And I’m saving the bedroom closets for the weekend–because if yours are anything like mine–they’ll take a little longer to organize.

Mark Waldhoff–Licensed Realtor with Waldhoff Gard & Associates is back to coach us through week four with more expert tips. Mark is a licensed broker with Keller Williams Realty in Champaign. He and his family have been decluttering and deep cleaning right along with us. I had a lot of fun organizing Mark’s daughter’s closet this weekend–so keep reading and check out the pics down below.

There’s still time to call Mark for a free home market analysis. He’s happy to meet with you, answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home AND provide you with details about your current home’s value–which is obviously sky-rocketing as you wrap-up this blog series. Boom.

Let’s get after it.

Week Four–Cleaning Out Your Closets

Monday–Mudroom/Coat Closet

  • Start in your mudroom, if you have one. Remove every item from the hooks, cabinets and drawers–and wipe each of those areas with a damp cloth.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out of your mudroom and ask yourself the following questions: Have I worn/used this item in the past year? Will I wear/use this item in the coming year? Does this item still fit me? Is there a better place to store this item?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-items together and try to group items by each member of your family. Place the items back into your mudroom cabinets and drawers and onto your hooks. It’s easy to find inexpensive storage containers or baskets to help keep items like hats, gloves and scarves organized. Dollar Store for the win, again.
  • Repeat these steps in your coat closet. You can ask your hubby, wife or kids to help you with their coats. Or–who are we kidding–just do it without their help–sometimes that’s easier.
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Still need a good place to store my vacuums?! The coat closet isn’t ideal, but it’s convenient.

Mark says, “Mudrooms are a key feature for potential home buyers. When you prep this area for a showing keep in mind: No more than one coat per hook, leaving a few hooks empty. Minimize the number of shoes laying around before a showing. If you don’t have a mudroom, but you have a coat closet consider taking the closet doors off and converting it to a mini-mudroom. It’s a relatively easy project (a good DIY tutorial here) and adds lots of character and value to a home.”

Tuesday–Linen Closet

  • Remove every item from your linen closet-–and wipe each shelf with a damp cloth.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out of your linen closet and ask yourself the following questions: Have I used this item in the past year? Will I use this item in the coming year? Is this item stained or damaged (like those old, gross flowered sheets you got for your bridal shower? Time to buy a new set!)? Is there a better place to store this item?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-items together. And place items back onto your shelves. Here’s Martha Stewart’s tutorial on how to fold a fitted sheet. And she also suggests folding the fitted sheet, flat sheet and extra pillow cases for each set of sheets into one of the set’s pillow cases. I LOVE that idea. I watched her tutorial over and over and over again. I tried to fold my fitted sheet for a good thirty minutes and couldn’t do it?! So I just gave up. My linen closet is still a mess. Someone, anyone–please come show me what I’m doing wrong!
  • Repeat these steps in every linen closet you have. And maybe change the sheets on each of the beds in your house too–because there’s nothing better than clean, crisp sheets. I also washed the boys’ pillows. Just threw them in the washing machine on warm and then let them tumble dry on low.
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Martha Stewart? Are you out there? Someone, anyone? Please come help me fold my fitted sheets.

Wednesday–Play Area/All the Toys

 

  • Start with some coffee. And crank some tunes. This may be one of the tougher areas to declutter.
  • Remove every item from your kids play area–-off shelves, out of drawers out of containers–and wipe each area with a damp cloth. Go ahead and vacuum underneath everything too.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out of your playroom and ask your kids (or yourself if they’re still little) the following questions: Have you/they played with this item in the past year? Will you/they play with this item in the coming year? Is this item age-appropriate? Does this item have sentimental value? Is this item stained or damaged or does it need new batteries (then replace the batteries!)? Is there a better place to store this item?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-items together. And place items back onto shelves or into drawers and containers. I’m a big fan of big bin containers for my kids’ toys. We just throw like-toys into each bin to clean up–and it makes it easy to transport their toys to another room too. I think I found our bins at Meijer, but I’ve also seen some really cute, colorful cubes, bins, baskets and totes from Thirty One (shout out to my girlfriend Angie Kerr who rocks the thirty-one game around Chambana).
  • Repeat these steps in every play area in your house or any area that hold toys (your kids’ rooms, toy chests, toy boxes, stuffed animal collections, etc).
  • Toy organization doesn’t have to be perfect. Our playroom is usually always a mess, but it’s functional–and I’m ok with that. My kids are playing in it every day–so it should be a little messy. But our kids should be able to find their toys, so try to keep things organized and accessible. And the playroom should be easy to clean-up when you need it to be.
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Mark says, “Child play areas are a great spot to show off the “warmth” of your home. Whether it’s a little corner in the basement or a true playroom take the opportunity to make it look fun, usable and orderly. Potential homebuyers get emotionally attached to a home just thinking about how their kids would play in that home. The same staging rules apply here too–for showings keep surface tops as empty as possible with the exception of purposefully placed games or books.”

Thursday–Arts and Crafts/Pet Area

  • Remove every item from your arts and crafts area–-off shelves, out of drawers and out of containers–and wipe each area with a damp cloth. Go ahead and vacuum underneath everything too.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out of your arts and crafts area and ask your kids (or yourself if they’re still little) the following questions: Have you/they worked with this item in the past year? Will you/they work with this item in the coming year? Is this item age-appropriate? Is this item old, over-used and/or damaged? Is there a better place to store this item?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Get rid of the broken crayons. Get rid of the old, hard Playdough. Group like-items together. And place items back onto shelves or into drawers and containers.
  • Tackle your pet area now too. Combine old food. Throw out old pet toys or tattered leashes. We don’t have pets, so I don’t really know what all may be in this area–just get rid of the old stuff and organize the stuff your keeping.

Mark says, “Not everyone loves pets and it can be a major turn-off for some potential home buyers. Whenever possible, hide all traces of your pets for showings–food, toys, beds and litter boxes.”

Friday–Library, Entertainment Center

  • Start with your library, then move to your kids’ library. Remove every book from each shelf-–and wipe each shelf with a damp cloth.
  • Look at every single book you just pulled off each shelf and ask yourself the following questions: Have I read this book in the past year? Will I read this book in the coming year? Does this book have sentimental value? Is this book stained, damaged or missing pages?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-books together. And place books back onto your shelves. I like to keep a few books on our nightstands, and rotate them every so often. So rotate those now, if need be.
  • Repeat these steps in your kids’ libraries too.
  • Do the same for your entertainment center. DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, whatever. Do you really need any of them? If so, it’s time to dust them off and organize them. If not, it’s time to donate them.

 

Saturday and Sunday–Bedroom Closets

  • Start in your own bedroom. Remove every item from your closet–and dust any surfaces. Also vacuum the floor while it’s empty.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out of your closet and ask yourself the following questions: Have I worn/used this item in the past year? Will I wear/use this item in the coming year? Does this item still fit me? Does this item have sentimental value? Is this item stained or damaged? Is there a better place to store this item?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Get rid of any old, extra hangers. Group like-items together. And place items back into your closet. I’m a big fan of organizing by season and by color. Try it–and see if it works for you too. Here are 10 easy closet organization ideas too., if you’re really feeling it.
  • Repeat these steps on every closet in your home. Ask your hubby, wife or kids to help you with their closets. Or–who are we kidding–just do it without their help–sometimes that’s easier.
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Mark (getting caffeinated) and Tessa Waldhoff before we started organizing.

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Tessa, very proud of her ^^BEFORE^^ closet!

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Kacy and Tessa looking at each and every item. Keep? Donate? Toss?

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Mark Waldhoff “helping” by finding an empty storage container.

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Lauren Rae and all her new clothes (hand-me-downs from a stylish sister are the best!) Thumbs up!

. . .

That’s it. You made it. Your house is decluttered and deep cleaned! Doesn’t it feel good to greet spring with an already spring-cleaned-house? Yesssss.

I know there’s always more to do–the dreaded garage, the dreaded car (or minivan) clean-out–but those are posts for another day. I think we’re sitting pretty right now.

If you didn’t finish organizing and deep cleaning all the areas in the series this month–just catch-up next month. Work at your own pace–even if it’s just one area a week. It’s going to take me all of March to clean out under my bed, yikes. And feel free to refer back to this series each year–as Mark’s tips are pretty timeless–I’ll even give the big, bad house decluttering series its own category on the blog for easy access.

Thanks for hanging in there with me this month. Please let me know how things went in the comments below. And special thanks to Mark Waldhoff for all the good tips–we really learned a lot.

Happy Spring (cleaning is done!), Chambana!! XOXO.

the best chocolate chip cookie. of all the chocolate chip cookies.

I have my back patio door open. There’s reggae playing on my Pandora. And I’m wearing a tank top under my apron. Oh, hey spring–welcome back to Chambana.

I’m four days into my Z Pack and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. Praise. The. Azithromycin.

So let’s celebrate spring! And me not having lungs full of crap! Let’s bake some cookies, shall we?!

Here’s my recipe for the best chocolate chip cookie of all the chocolate chip cookies. They are thin. Buttery soft. A little chewy. And you can really taste the vanilla.

They are perfection.

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I use The Comfort of Cooking’s recipe, and they come out like this every single time. I like to dip mine in coffee, but milk works too–if you’re traditional like that.

Thin and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

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Yes, he’s wearing a Ninja Turtle apron. Or his front-cape, as he calls it.

In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add your eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, and beat everything until it’s completely mixed together. Fold in your chocolate chips.

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Roll dough into little (1 inch) balls and place on your baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until the edges are slightly brown. (The cookies won’t look completely baked, but will continue to cook while cooling on the baking sheet.)

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Remove and let the cookies rest on the pan for 5 minutes. You could sprinkle them with a little sea salt while they’re cooling too, that’s my secret ingredient. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Then get to dipping–and eating. Enjoy.

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feeding a cold.

Sick? I think every single person in CU is sick. When I don’t feel well I  want to eat all the things–especially all the warm, comforting things.

We’ve eaten our weight in grandma’s old fashioned chicken noodle soup this week. So last night I whipped up the next best thing.

Comfort Noodles. Another fabulous recipe from Mel Joulwan. These noodles are easy, warm and comforting. And Whole30–they’re made with zucchini noodles instead of pasta. Plus, they’re packed with easy-to-digest veggies and protein–two things your body really needs to heal itself when you’re under the weather. So whip some up now–you can slurp them for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all of the above). Feed those colds–and feel better soon, CU.

Comfort Noodles (I’m cutting and pasting directly from Mel’s blog, because she really nails it. And you don’t need to adapt or change a dang thing. If you haven’t checked out Mel Joulwan’s Well Fed Cookbooks, you should. They’re my favorite cookbooks of all time.)

Makes enough for one person my size; adjust amounts accordingly | Whole30 compliant

Ingredients:
  • 2 small zucchini, julienned (about 2 cups) [Julienne peeler or Spiralizer is essential.]

  • generous 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon almond flour or almond meal

  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 3 eggs, scrambled

  • a handful of fresh parsley, minced for garnish (optional)

  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:
1

Place the julienned zucchini in a colander or wire strainer and toss with the salt until coated. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to drain excess water, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. (You may be tempted to skip this step; I strongly advise against it. This step insures tender, rather than watery, noodles.)

2

While the zucchini is sweating in the colander, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the almond flour with the coconut oil, sprinkle it with a smidgen of salt, then sauté in the pan, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until it’s toasty brown, about 1 minute. Transfer from the pan to a plate to cool. As it cools, the coconut oil will solidify and make “crumbs,” so don’t worry if it’s just brown dust when you take it out of the pan. Kind of mush the dust together into a pile and let it do its thing.

3

Return the pan to the heat and add the zucchini noodles. Sauté until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Push the noodles to the side of the pan, and reduce heat to medium-low. Wait a minute; it’s essential that the pan cools down before adding the eggs. Add the olive oil and garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, about 20 seconds, pour in the eggs and allow them to cook until just beginning to set a tiny bit. Mix the zucchini noodles into the egg and continue to stir gently and continuously until the egg is set and clinging to the noodles. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.

4

Serve noodles in a deep bowl and sprinkle with the almond flour crumbs and minced parsley. Slurping and ridiculously big bites heartily encouraged.

. . .

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I’m going to go ahead and file this under “Stuff I Want to Eat for Every Meal”. It’s really that yummy. Enjoy.

 

 

the big, bad house decluttering series. part three.

Week three. Anybody still hanging tough? It’s ok, I’m losing steam too.

We’ve all been sick around here. So for a week I’ve been running on very little sleep–and a steady stream of Art Mart coffee, my kids’ Valentine’s candy and Sudafed. So, ya–I’m running on empty.

Let’s take it easy this week, shall we? The fridge and freezer. The pantry. The kitchen cabinets and your dining room buffet and/or hutch. And then if you have any energy left this weekend, we’ll tackle some deep-cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

Nothing too crazy. Just take it one day at a time this week–we can do it.

And good news! Mark Waldhoff–Licensed Realtor with Waldhoff Gard & Associates is back to coach us through week three with more expert tips. Mark is a licensed broker with Keller Williams Realty in Champaign. Your house is getting so organized and clean, right? Now’s the time to call Mark for a free home market analysis. He’s happy to meet with you, answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home AND provide you with details about your current home’s value–which is obviously going up as you’re completing this blog series.

So let’s get after it. Part three, here we go. (Here’s part one and part two, if you’re just joining us.)

Week Three–Cabinets, and Kitchens and Bathrooms–Oh My!!

Monday–Fridge and Freezer

  • I spent the morning yesterday reading all about fridge and freezer organization. There are hundreds of articles on Pinterest about food storage hacks. I think I read half of them, but I didn’t do anything they said to do. I have a food storage system that works. You probably do too. So this week, we’re just going to concentrate on wiping down your fridge and freezer surfaces and drawers and getting rid of expired items. You can handle that.
  • Empty everything from your fridge first. Shelves, drawers, doors all of it. Spray every surface with a non-toxic cleaning spray–let is sit a minute or two to get to work on any stickiness or spills. Wipe everything down. If you can take shelves and drawers out, do that and wipe all the cracks and crevices. Also wipe the tray under your water/ice dispenser. Gross, right?
  • Check every item’s expiration date–and pitch the old stuff.  I had some salad dressing that expired in 900 BC, gotta go. Combine any like-items. I know you have three bottles of almost empty yellow mustard, just like me. Combine them.
  • I found one container hidden in the back of the fridge with mystery contents, covered in mold. I can’t even go there. Nothing grosses me out more than the “mystery content container” hidden in the back of the fridge. I didn’t open it, it went straight into the trash, Tupperware and all. Don’t judge.
  • Place all the items back in your fridge, grouping like-items together.
  • Repeat this same process with your freezer. And empty your ice-maker of the old, funky ice and make a fresh batch. Sometimes it’s a good idea to do this once in awhile if you don’t use much ice.
  • Once you’re done, marvel at all the food you’d forgotten you had. Ha. And get to work eating up the old stuff this week before you grocery shop again.
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Before…

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After…

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Found four bags of frozen breastmilk from 2012. WTH?! Time to let these go.

Mark says, “The fridge and freezer are interesting areas. 4 out of 5 potential homebuyers won’t peek inside, but if someone does it’s best to have yours neat and clean. It’s not a deal-breaker, but a clean fridge and freezer is a reflection of your overall housekeeping and first impressions of your home are lasting for a potential buyer.”

Tuesday–Pantry

  • Take everything out of your pantry (or whatever you use to store dry goods, I have cabinets), off the shelves and the floor. Wipe down any surfaces.
  • Check every item’s expiration date–and pitch the old stuff. Combine any like-items.
  • Group like-items together. And place all the items back in your pantry.
  • Here are some pantry organizational hacks–knock yourself out if you have the energy. Maybe someday, I’ll get after these.
  • If you find items that aren’t expired yet, but you don’t think you’ll ever use them–bag them up and drop them by the food pantry. Here’s a link to The Eastern Illinois Foodbank’s website  with some donation guidelines Their warehouse hours are 7am-4:30pm Monday through Thursday and 7am-12:30pm on Friday. No donation is too big or two small. They also accept unopened toiletries, cleaning supplies and pet food.
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Before…

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After…

Mark says, “If you have a large pantry, make sure it’s neat and clean–and organized. If you have a small pantry or just shelves, they should be staged. Make sure there are open spaces and the impression of extra space. All potential buyers love extra storage space!”

Wednesday–Kitchen Cabinets

  • Take everything out of your cabinets. Wipe down the surfaces.
  • Check dishes, glasses and service items for cracks, chips and damage. And ask yourself if you really need that item. Have you used it in the past year? Will you use it in the coming year? Is there a better place to store that item?
  • Separate everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-items together. And place everything you’re keeping back into your cabinets.
  • Repeat this process with any bar cabinets you may have.

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Mine were all in pretty good shape, but I wiped them down a little.

Thursday–Dining Room Buffet and/or Hutch

  • Take everything out of your buffet and/or hutch. Wipe down the surfaces, and the dishes too if they’re dusty. Mine were.
  • Check dishes, glasses and service items for cracks, chips and damage. And ask yourself if you really need that item. Have you used it in the past year? Will you use it in the coming year? Is there a better place to store that item? I get that you may store antiques or heirlooms here, so keep what makes you happy, but get rid of the other stuff.
  • Separate everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-items together. And place everything you’re keeping back into your buffets and hutches.

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Again, mine weren’t too bad. I gave them a quick dusting. My mother-in-law’s dining room hutch–on the other hand–could use some attention. Ha! Love you Nanny Pat.

Friday–Oven, Microwave, Dishwasher, Counters

  • If your oven has a self-cleaner, fire that baby up. Just make sure you’re home to monitor  the entire cycle as a safety precaution (it gets so hot). Wipe whatever ashes are left from the bottom of the oven once it’s completed and cooled. If you want to clean your oven by hand, here’s the way to do it.
  • Spray your microwave with some non-toxic cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe down all the surfaces. Here are some other cool ways to clean it.
  • You can buy dishwasher cleaner. If you do that just run a dishwasher cleaning cycle, as directed. I use a cup a vinegar in my normal cycle once a month and that keeps the build-up away. If you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, here’s the way to do it..
  • Wipe down all your countertops with some non-toxic cleaning spray, and also any appliances you have sitting on your counter. Now’s a good time to decide if you really need that item to sit on your counter. Do you use it often? If not, find another place to store it.

Mark says, “Just like the fridge and freezer, most potential buyers won’t check the oven. But if one does it’s important for it not to look like a college kid has been baking pizzas in it for four years straight.”

*He’s saying this because he saw mine. And mine looks like this. Ha

Saturday–Showers, Toilets, Mirrors

  • I’m a fan of a good old scrub brush for shower and bath cleaning. I spray all my surfaces with a tub and tile cleaner and let it sit a few minutes, and then I scrub everything with a soft-bristled scrub brush. It takes the majority of soap scum and hard water off tile and glass doors. Just do it while you’re showering and then rinse everything off. Clean the shower head and check your shower curtain liner now too. Gross? Is it time for a new one? Dollar Store for the win, folks.
  • Do the same for your bathtub. Scrub-a-dub-dub.
  • Toilets–my least favorite thing to clean. But it’s time to really clean them all well. I do use an anti-bacterial spray for my toilets. And don’t forget to clean around the base.
  • Windex all your mirrors, in your bathroom and everywhere else. I used a coffee filter to wipe all the mirrors and windows in my house yesterday and it worked like a charm. I’ve heard newspaper works too.

Mark says, “The master bath is one of the key zones for potential house buyers. Your shower shouldn’t have a large inventory of shampoos and soaps. Hide your shower scrubber and washcloths. No one wants to see the inside of your toilet bowl either–no matter how clean–so keep the lid closed during any showings. Also make sure the shower is mildew free. Check the corners and seams, and the shower head. Those areas need to be in pristine condition.”

. . .

Week three. You made it. And the end is near–just one more week! Phew.

If you don’t finish organizer and deep-cleaning all these areas during the week, just catch-up on the weekend. I built in a day off for you, just in case.

Let me know how your week goes in the comments. And thanks to Mark Waldhoff for all the good tips. We’ll see you back here next Monday for the fourth and final post in the series.