When I was growing up my Papa called me his princess. My husband and son treat me like one to this day. Yet, for the longest time I was a pauper to the clutter in my every day life in my home and my finances. Then one day I decided it was time to stop living like a pauper and to be the princess everyone thought of me as. This is the journey I took to de-clutter all aspects of my life and become a true PRINCESS!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


As I was growing up we always had hand embroidered muslin tea towels (dish towels) that had the following lines on them along with a figure doing all the chores listed:

"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday."

I started thinking about this as I worked on my calendar trying to organize my time budget.  I realized that while my seven days were different to some extent they were also the same in some ways.  Or at least some of the same chores.  No I don’t iron or churn, but I have done a lot of both in my lifetime.

While setting up the time budget I realized it would be best if I had one set thing each day that I wished to accomplish along with the day to day chores and working on the pet room of the Princess Plan as I went.

So I set about designating certain days for certain chores every week.  Continuity, I have found, is very helpful in eventually accomplishing your goals. 

As I went through my Outlook Calendar I designated certain days of the week for certain chores.  While your days might be much different from mine here’s how my week shapes up.

Errands on Monday

Porches and outside work on Tuesday

Webfoot Tub Designs work on Wednesday

Wardrobe work on Thursday

Gardening on Friday

Family projects on Saturday and Sunday

How I came about this seven day general plan was simple. 

MONDAY: Most merchandising and mystery shopping jobs start on Mondays, since I always combine errands with those jobs it just made sense for me to make that the errand day.  On weeks that I don’t have jobs or they must be done on a different day I simply will swap out with the designated day for the job and do the errands that day.

PORCHES AND OUTSIDE WORK: With 90 acres there is always outside work needing done, and a porch or three that needs swept or otherwise tended to.  Tuesday was chosen because I often need a bit of fresh air after a mystery shopping/errand day.

WEBFOOT TUB DESIGNS WORK: Two very active days need to be followed by a more leisurely paced day for me.  Designing cards and making them is pleasurable and since we’ve decided I’ll cut back on mystery shopping and pick up more on the business a mid-week scheduled day to allow myself to play while designing cards for Webfoot Tub Designs sounds perfectly normal to me.

WARDROBE: I hate to admit it, but we all three have walk in closets that are so tightly packed we simply cannot walk in to them.  We all three have clothing that either we can’t wear, won’t wear, or it needs repair in the closets.  Unfortunately 99% of the clothing is in need of a total replacement, or at the very least needing repair. 

This point became very clear to me as we packed for the lovely three week vacation we just had.  I could NOT find my long black skirt that was the basic piece my evening wardrobe for Las Vegas was planned around.  I had just wore it a couple of weeks before.  I remember laundering it and hanging it up.  But I cannot find it in that over packed closet of mine.  Neither could either man. I finally found it after we returned.  It had slid off the hanger it was on and down behind other things stored in the closet floor.  That is truly, truly sad this closet needs a total revamping. 

So on Thursday every week my pet project of the day is to work on getting all three of our wardrobes in tip top shape and do a major cull out of everything that needs to go, cherished memories or not.  Truthfully, why am I hanging on to a pink Walt Disney World t-shirt that is so full of holes I’d be embarrassed to be seen in it.  Yeah I know it’s from our first trip to the most magical place on earth, but it is also 31 years old and worn out. 

I am a seamstress, I’ve sewn since I was about five.  I’ve owned and ran a successful custom historical business for fifteen years, sewn for others most of my life.  I have a basement full of fabric, a few sewing machines, a serger, thread by the dozens of spools, buttons galore, and much more.  So why are we not wearing well fitting clothing in the latest styles?  Laziness on my part.

The excuse is I never seem to have time.  So now Thursdays are wardrobe time.  I’ll cut, snip and sew my way through that basement accomplishing two things at once.  Clearing out of all that sewing stuff and dressing us properly. 

Thursdays are now for wardrobe work, closets, sewing and mending.

GARDENING: I chose Friday for gardening for a simple reason, I could possibly have help with it every Friday afternoon.  Both men are very good at helping me with the gardening chores and both are off on Friday afternoons. 

I want to go to year round gardening to help cut our food budget and to make us healthier.  That means scheduling at least one day every week for gardening of some sort.

I started off by planting some flower pots of herbs for the kitchen window and the baker’s rack in my office since it is December after all.  There will be more articles appearing as time goes on about doing this on the Mind Your Pennies blog.

After all gardening doesn’t have to be hard, it just needs continuity.

FAMILY PROJECTS: Anyone who has been on yahoogroups with me over the years, or who have been following my blogs knows we do a lot together as a family.  We work hard and we play hard.  The men are both off on these days so it only made sense to schedule those days for family projects.  Whether it’s a major chore like taking down all the dead trees, or a family outing Saturday and Sunday are scheduled for these events on my new time budget.

Please keep in mind these are not all day plans like the original daily chores list of old, but a project to work on each day along with my day to day chores. 

Each day, or as many as possible days a week I try to work some on each of the following:

1.   General tidy-up.  This is simply a pick-up/clean-up of areas I’ve already got quite tidy and want to keep that way.

2.   Home cooked from scratch meals, this includes menu planning,  food preservation and food storage.

3.   Animal care, with a ranch full of critters there is always something that needs to be done.

4.   Paperwork of all sorts, if you don’t keep on top of it, it will overtake and suffocate you! I am trying to go as paperless as possible in our day to day lives.   The paperwork also includes budgeting, Quicken entry and all those little extras we all seem to have.

5.   Laundry, the never ending monster.

6.   Listing items for sale as I uncover them while working on the Princess Plan, then getting them shipped out/delivered on errand days.

7.   Blogging, whether it’s actually getting a post up, or merely writing down a concept for a blog when it hits me, I try to accomplish something on a blog each day.

8.   Busy work, this would be knitting, embroidery (tea towels anyone?), crocheting, journal writing, needle tatting, sorting mail, whatever,  while watching 1-2 hours of tv a day with the guys in the evening.

9.   A bit of genealogy research when I can squeeze it in.

10.                     Communications, be it telephone, email, chat, snail mail, facebook or responding to queries on my blogs a certain amount  of time is spent each day communicating with the outside world.

11.                     The Princess Plan, I do something, even if it’s only picking up and completely getting rid of 10 items per day on my room of the month to accomplish my overall goal of getting this place totally decluttered.

12.                     Organization.  There is always some organization project going on here.  Currently it’s the pantries—they are driving me crazy!  This is on top of the daily pet project and the Princess Plan.

That’s my top 12 for each day.  

By working with the Outlook Calendar, I can pretty well plan my day working with the daily pet project and the top 12, while still allowing the flexibility of life happening, as it always does here on the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch.

Now that you see how I am working on setting up my time budget you may have got some ideas on doing your own.  Or see perhaps an improvement that could be made with mine.  All in all it is always a work in progress.

So what would be your seven day main project and your day to day top 12?  Have you set up your time budget yet?

By the way if you want to know more about the original daily chores list there is a very good webpage at the Herbert Hoover Archives http://hoover.archives.gov/LIW/pioneering/pioneering_pepin-chores.html that will give you a good idea about what Laura Ingalls Wilder meant when she wrote about the all day process of daily chores.

Jan who sometimes let her muse distract her from her daily chores and lead her to writing long ramblings like this in OK


Monday, October 29, 2012


As you have probably noticed I’ve been VERY lax on keeping this particular blog up to date.  That’s because I’ve had nothing to report.  While I’ve maintained the status quo of the house I have not made any great strides in getting it totally decluttered within the 12 month period I set for myself.

I have no excuse other than the lack of planning of my time to properly do the job.  Several things have happened in the last few months that have let me procrastinate far too long on getting the job done.  It seems I’ve always got something going that gives me the excuse to not do the deep cleaning I vowed I would get done.

However, I have had an epiphany and I believe the Princess Plan is about to take priority over everything else.  What caused this decision?  It wasn’t any one thing, but a series of several things.

Up until now making “spare” money, aka: gazelle feed for our debt snowball has been the main priority, and to some extent it still is.  However, there comes a time and place where you have to draw the line on what you will/won’t or can/can’t do.  I reached it this last week.

I have been doing non-stop back to back mystery shopping and merchandising jobs to the point that total exhaustion due to the lack of sleep and the physical strength put out to do the jobs had me constantly alternating between being cranky and whiny to feeling physically ill.   NOT a good thing and definitely not fair to my family. 

Luckily for me fuel prices started climbing ten cents at a time on a near daily basis.  Anyone who does mysteryshopping and merchandising knows that if you do not carefully pick your shops, plan your route and your day wisely you can end up making little to no money.  I cover this aspect of mystery shopping in my Sometimes You Have to do the Math post on the Seethe USA the Mystery Shopping Way blog.  There is always money to be made mystery shopping, but you have to be selective and set priorities. 

I had gotten away from those priorities and was basically taking any job that I would make even a few cents at.  Not a wise thing.  As a result my house was starting to backslide, we were starting to eat out more and more.  That made my budget backslide, and I was neglecting my family and pets. 

Just as I was starting to re-evaluate my priorities a friend posted on the Dave Ramsey Group that she too was having priority issues.  Once we started openly discussing it several in the group admitted they too were having to re-look at their priorities for all the same reasons.  We all wanted to be debt free, so we all tended to focus on making money and sticking to a zero dollar based budget and earning extra cash to be debt free faster.  We all were therefore finding we were letting other aspects of our lives slip.

Kathryn suggested we set up zero time based budgets for our busy lifestyles.  I think the plan is brilliant.  The timing of her post could not have come at a better time. I’m very frustrated with how far behind I am on my Princess Plan schedule and I NEED to cut back on mystery shopping due to the rising fuel costs.

However, I also NEED to make the income so we can get debt free.  Of course doing the cleaning I am planning with the Princess Plan would net me things to sell.  So it would be a mythical win/win situation.

Basically her idea is to deal with a daily/weekly schedule the same you would deal with a daily/weekly budget.  She pointed out the similarities between time and money budgets one of her posts.  Here’s what she wrote.

1) it's very easy to get into a position of lurching from one schedule crisis to another, just like it's easy to get into a position of lurching from one budget crisis to another.  The antidote to that is planning a time budget, just like planning a monthly budget.


2) We are prone to spending time on what we like, just like we're prone to spending money on what we like, thus leaving out other important items from our time/money budget.  An odd corollary is that we're also prone to having other people tell us how to spend our time, just like we're prone to having other people tell us how to spend our money, with similar results - we live per their priorities and not our own.  The remedy for that is to decide for ourselves, how much time we're going to give each item in particular (if any), and each category in general, then stick to that budget.


3) Working with a zero-base time budget has all the same pro's and con's as working with a zero-based money budget.  The pro's are that you can see exactly what is available, and how to make the most of that time.  The con's are that it takes regular effort to track, plan and anticipate time needs.  Another con is that we are very quickly put on notice that there's simply not enough time to go around, and we have to make some hard choices.  “

Building on this idea you can see how simple the concept is.  You have a set number of hours in a day that you have available to accomplish certain things, just as you only have x amount of money in your household budget. Just like with a financial budget you would build from the must do’s first. 

In my case that would be the care of the family and animals—something I have been lax in.

So right off the bat I need to schedule time for feeding and releasing the farm animals and playing with the pets.  I know that 30 minutes is required to do a proper feeding and releasing each day. 

I have 15 hours a day I schedule from 7 am to 10 pm.  That brings the schedule down to 14 ½ hours. Later in the day, particularly during very hot or cold weather, I would need to allocate time in the afternoon schedule to do a major watering of the birds.  This can take 45 minutes to an hour to do. The nightly feeding and put up of the animals are part of the men’s schedules.

 Other family care items in my time budget are meal preparation, and scheduled family time each day.

Meal preparation depends on the meals on my menu for the day.  A simple bowl of cereal has almost no time involved for breakfast, while biscuits and gravy can take a lot longer.  It also would depend if it was a baking or bulk cooking day.  Therefore, the allotment of time for meal preparation would be variable each day to some extent.  For more information on this see my Patterson’s Pantry blog.

The family time is used for entertainment.  If we are scheduling a family meeting for a certain day that gets additional time.  I generally allow approximately an hour for tv watching, chatting or similar activities that are non-chore for being together and relaxing.  People with small children would definitely need to schedule more of course. We are all adults in this household and work together on chores so we actually have more together time than most families.

Other daily/weekly/monthly priorities would include things like bill paying, daily general house clean-up, work at home job activities, deep cleaning, grocery shopping, yard work, sewing, and the very special ME time.

Each person needs to determine their own zero based time budget according to their hours they have available and their own priorities. 

I’ve started one for myself.  I use the calendar on my Outlook email program.  It is broke down in 30 minute time slots and makes the “budgeting” of time easy.  You can view it by the month, week or day and it can be color coded.  I’ll expound more on this another time in another blog post.

So based on Kathryn’s idea and my own priorities here is how my schedule for tomorrow looks.  Normally with the Princess Plan in mind I would do all my deep cleaning time for the office, because I am determined to make Webfoot Tub Designs a thriving business.  Until the office is cleaned and organized that is going to be very hard to do.  So it must be my main focus as far as cleaning goes. 

However, I have suddenly come to realize that I need some additions to my wardrobe.  This means I need my sewing area in the basement cleaned to some extent so I can easily create the clothing items I need.  I also have several other projects of household items I need to make as well as organizing my food storage so we don’t lose money by wasting stored food.  This all requires some work in basement clean-up. 

With two main focus rooms I must split my allotted cleaning time between them.   This is what Kathryn meant by life putting unscheduled obstacles in your path just as Murphy can hit your budget.

There is also the occasional true Murphy hit.  Right now my daily schedule has the guys going out after dinner to put up the birds, water and feed them.  While they do that I clean the kitchen.  Usually we finish about the same time.

However, last night the birds were spooked and did not want to go into the pen.  Then Sean spotted something wrong with the Toulouse hen, Serenity.  So he called me to help him get hold of her and check out the problem. 

While our geese have all been hand raised and are use to us, they still don’t want to be held, it’s simply not in their nature.  We have two that like to be petted on the chest, and several that will eat out of our hands, but none want us in their space too close.  So when one has a problem it’s a two to three man job to doctor the bird.  A Toulouse is a big bird and quite strong, so Sean knew he needed back up.

It turned out to be a minor problem, but it created a 30 minute delay in our schedule.  We had to adjust family time accordingly. 

Adjusted time can never get brought back, but you can adjust your schedule for subsequent days to accommodate the loss of time by setting priorities.  Working to complete the priorities each day in the highest position first and then if you have to move a lower priority item to another day it is not a problem.

You also have to allow for errand days and such.  That’s why my schedule is done daily.  Here’s my schedule for tomorrow.  By looking at it you can see I’ve got places I could tweak out 30 minutes to an hour if I needed to for “emergencies.”

It also has several easy to do chores and little reminders.

7:00 – 7:30 am—this is prior to my actual “work day” beginning.  –Set out tonight’s dinner main dish out to thaw, personal morning time.


7:30-8:00 am—breakfast and morning emails.  Now this one seems like a no-brainer, but it is important.  I tend to skip breakfast, which is not a good thing for numerous reasons.  I also tend to spend way too much time on the computer doing emails and facebook.  So placing the time limits helps with that.

8:00-8:30 am—kitchen/dining room tidy-up and dinner pre-preparation.

8:30-9:00 am—feed and release—this usually includes a little “extra” time with the dogs.

9:00 am- 12 noon—errands,  this includes grocery shopping and an oil change for our dually truck.

12:00-12:30 pm lunch at home, mid day emails, and bill paying.

1:00-3:00 pm Princess Plan—the office

3:00-3:30 pm Pet play time and an afternoon treat for all

3:30-4:30 pm Dinner pre-prep, living room and landings tidy up

4:30-6:00 pm Basement/sewing area clean-up

6:00-6:30 pm dinner final preparation

6:30-8:00 pm dinner and family time

8:00-8:30 pm kitchen clean-up

8:30-9:30 blog work

9:30-10:00 pm set tomorrow’s schedule and retire for night.

You’ll notice there is nothing in the schedule for cleaning of the master bedroom or bathroom, that’s because it was a lower priority than getting the oil changed and purchasing a few perishable groceries.  Tomorrow’s schedule will include time for those rooms.

If the weather allows it might also include some outside work, each day would be slightly different.  I do not include cleaning of the upper floor in my schedule because that is ds’ domain and his responsibility. 

Tomorrow’s time schedule also does not have a major watering time slot in the schedule.  Because I am including errands for both men in my errand schedule in the morning they did a major clean-up of all the watering tubs and filled them to max late this afternoon for me.  They will top all the tubs off again with the nightly put up tonight.  Because the weather is cooler we can adjust the watering this way. During extremes of temperature such an adjustment cannot be made.  Tuesday’s time budget will include watering again.

The main thing is to have priority items each day and ideally being able to budget enough time for each one.

If you have something that is a set day each week/month, then adjust your “budget” accordingly.  Church every Wednesday night, then that goes in lieu of the family time, but then that is a family activity right? 

Dinner with the in-laws one Sunday a month, build your schedule around that based on your priorities.

Just like your financial budget nothing will ever be completely constant.  Life happens, and you must adjust accordingly. 

When that life happens, you simply adjust.  Also like a zero based budget with snowball tendencies a la Dave Ramsey there will come a time certain priority jobs will no longer need to be priority and you can “snowball” your priority time to another project. 

An example of this would be my deep Princess Plan cleaning of the office.  Sooner or later I will have that office to the daily tidy-up only stage.  Then that block of main cleaning priority can be moved to another area, say the basement to complete it.  Just like you kill your bills by snowballing your spare cash, you will kill your big time consumers by snowballing your allotted priority time.

Now one more thing.  As you who have read my posts for years know I do not do “to do” lists, I do goal lists.  This looks surprisingly like a “to do” list.  But it is not, it is a time budget of goals for the day.  The world will not end if I do not keep to the budget.  Life happens, live it!

Jan who is often known for spending much more than 30 minutes on pet play time in OK

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Welcome your highness.  I am Princess Jan, or at least I will be after I complete this next year.  No I am not of royal birth, nor did I marry into royalty, although I am married to a true prince of men.  I have a plan that will take me from the throes of being a mere slave or indentured servant to my home ,my debt, and yes even a few relationships I’d truly be better off without—but that is for another time.  They are no one of importance and I’ve merely let them be a bother to me far too long.  It is time to move past their emotional vampire ways and move on to being the Princess my PaPa always called me.

In all seriousness we are all paupers in one way or another in our lives, perhaps it’s debt, perhaps it’s a cluttered house, perhaps it’s merely a lack of organization or education.  Whatever it is, we are all paupers one way or another.  Only I’m tired of being one.

My big sticking points are clutter and debt, well and those lingering relationships, but enough on that part.  Clutter and debt are two things I KNOW how to deal with, but simply haven’t, or at least not totally dealt with.

While the health department isn’t going to shut me down, the house is far messier than I’d like anyone to see it and Lordy don’t open a closet!  The debt…well that is one I cover heavily in my "Mind Your Pennies" but how to deal with it is also a major part of the Princess Plan.

I actually developed the Princess Plan several years ago and then life happened, as it often does, and I drifted away from it.  I’m tired of drifting.  I’m tired of waiting for my  knight to ride in on his magnificent horse and save me from the clutter of the house—Heck I’d even take Mr. Clean’s white tornado, but since neither has showed up it’s time for me to earn my crown.

So I decided the best incentive is to air my “dirty linen” so to speak and blog about how to get from clutter to totally clutter free in a year.  A YEAR?  Woman are you nuts?  I can hear you all saying that right off the bat.

Yes a year, because I am talking total declutter, scorched earth, no holds barred, everything but the walls and essentials MUST go.  Only I don’t want to just order in a dumpster and a back hole to do it.—Although that is a thought.

A lot of what we have has worth to others.  If it has worth, then it can help free me from being a pauper to debt as well.  Or it can be a charitable donation and help others.  So it all must be sorted properly, discarded in one way or another or put up completely organized.

This will take a long time.  After all I have a 3,300 square foot home, a large basement, a huge garage, 7 out buildings, a cargo trailer and a fifth wheel all to declutter, and we won’t even discuss what all needs to go on the 90 acres that holds all this. 

What is sad is when we moved in here in 1997 we only had the house, basement, garage and barn and all of them were nearly empty.  I had empty closets, drawers and cabinets!  We have simply accumulated…don’t get me wrong, we are not hoarders.  I rotate stuff out of this house on a regular basis, lots of stuff.  I have a real need to be clutter free.

However, I do understand how easy it would become a hoarder and I actually know a couple.  I strive to not be one.

So that brings us to this blog.  “The Patterson Princess Plan”.  I am starting this challenge to myself on June 1, 2012 and I ask you to come along for the bumpy ride.  I’ll start out posting a basic concept of how the PP works, in case you haven’t already read it on my other blog “See the USAthe Mystery Shopping way” or been on a list where I have discussed it previously.

I’ll post the goals as they come up, how I did on them, ask for advice, invite you to join me in decluttering your own home, give helpful cleaning tips, as well as recipes for things like cleaning products, potpourris, suggested reading and websites and much more.

Please join me on my ride to find my own crown and yours. 

Jan who has promised herself she would do this for way too long in OK