Help With The Housekeeping | une femme d'un certain âge

Thursday Miscellany: Domestic Gadgetry And Travel Plans

Hands-free mop wringer and mop. This thing is crazy good!

Help With The Housekeeping

Our kitchen and bathroom renovation is mostly done. It’s just down to the detail work, which seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. I’m saving the next big reveal for when the last light fixtures are in and dangling wires removed. I spent several hours yesterday wiping down cabinet interiors and beginning to move stuff back into the new space.

A friend of ours brought over this mop and bucket combo for cleaning the hardwood floors, and I have to say it’s crazy good. I’ve always procrastinated when it came to mopping, mostly because I hated wringing and cleaning the mops. This wringer works like a salad spinner that you pump with your foot. No bending, no hands in gunky water. For wood floors, she recommended this hardwood floor cleaner (used diluted in water).

Once we get settled into the new kitchen, the entire house needs to be pulled apart and cleaned due to all of the dust. It’s a rather daunting project, so I’m planning to tackle it one room at a time.

And we still have a lot of exterior work to be done, which will take a few more weeks. The back stoop has to be rebuilt to accommodate the wider door, the windows in the front part of the house (original from 1941) are being replaced, and the exterior needs to be cleaned up and painted. After that the next project is refreshing the landscaping.

Travel Plans

Historic buildings in Dijon, France

And now on to something a bit more glamorous than mopping floors…we’re starting to finalize our travel plans for late Spring. We’ll be heading back to France, this time spending a few days around Dijon and Lyon, then to Paris for a whole week! Our main motivation for visiting that region was food; it’s supposed to be a foodie paradise. But there’s also beautiful countryside and historic towns to explore, and maybe we’ll stumble across a brocante or two.

Do you have a favorite household gadget?

Stay in touch.

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  1. Linda Boardman Kerr
    January 25, 2018 / 3:52 am

    Knives–high carbon ones that stain easily but sharpen like a dream, are what I use most. The most beautiful “gadget” is a large mortar and pestle which sits on my island.
    DIJON will be wonderful. I have always wanted to visit it and follow in M.F.K. Fisher’s footsteps: where she and Al lived, that first restaurant they visited, etc. Hope to some day.
    You are SO lucky to be able to visit France so often!

  2. January 25, 2018 / 6:13 am

    I’ve really appreciated the steam mop I learned about on another mid-life bloggers page – makes caring for my floors so much easier than my decades of wet mopping! I’m thinking of getting one for our home in Aix en Provence too – which, by the way, Linda, is where MFK lived – we often mention that when we walk down her street 😉

    • Liz in Paris
      January 25, 2018 / 8:50 am

      Bonjour Ambiance d’Aix! Just wondering if you could divulge which steam cleaner you chose. I’m looking at various models at the moment but don’t know anyone using them and would appreciate a reco. My provisional shortlist comprises Karcher and Dupray. I live in Paris but have a cottage in the country too and that’s where I need the steam cleaner. Many thanks in advance!

    • Linda Boardman Kerr
      January 25, 2018 / 10:53 am

      I went to school in Aix, for a semester in college. We go back as often as we can. It’s my Happy Place!

  3. Harriet
    January 25, 2018 / 6:20 am

    Oh Paris, and all of France! I so want to see it all! I agree with Linda that a good knife in the kitchen makes light of chopping and cooking. We remodeled two bathrooms at the same time a couple of years ago. We were displaced for about 9 months but the end result made it worth it. Even cleaning up all the dust! My house hadn’t been so clean since the day we moved it. Gratifying!

  4. Margot
    January 25, 2018 / 6:24 am

    Our floor guy said simply water and vinegar for hardwood floors but after 12 years I’ve started occasionally brightening them up with Bono. It does seem to add just a smidgen of slickness to the floors as well as shine.

  5. Marguerite
    January 25, 2018 / 6:26 am

    My favorite gadget is a stick vac by Black and Decker. It’s like a dust buster and does a fabulous job on those pesky crumbs on the kitchen floor and rugs. We have travel plans now to fly into Paris mid May. Trying to decide where to go from there. I’m thinking Provence and hubs is interested in points north. Hmmm. FYI Femme, we’re starting our master bathroom renovation next week!

  6. Greta
    January 25, 2018 / 6:31 am

    I’ll be curious where know where you’re going in Dijon. We’re going to be there for a few days as our barge trip through Southern Burgundy starts there in May.

  7. Patricia
    January 25, 2018 / 6:34 am

    Sue, how are you getting on with the spin mop? I have the same thing, but the brand is Vileda (bought in Canada). The spin mechanism is great, but I find the mophead is way too thin, causing the plastic triangle it’s affixed to to keep flipping over – it’s very annoying and I worry about it damaging the floor. I’ve found your brand on Amazon and would try out their replacement heads if I thought they were any good. Thank you.

  8. January 25, 2018 / 6:41 am

    In Dijon, check out La Dame d’Aquitaine, a wonderful restaurant. I almost cried the food was so good. By the end of the meal, the staff were all around my table, telling me about the different dishes. I loved it. Gorgeous setting, in a 13th century crypt.
    I wish I could find the names of the restaurants I liked in Lyon. Though you can’t go wrong, honestly.
    You must visit Carcassonne!

    • (another) Susan B
      February 5, 2018 / 7:50 am

      OMG I’ve eaten there, 15 years ago. So delicious, so atmospheric–glad to know it’s still good.

  9. Suz
    January 25, 2018 / 8:25 am

    Great to hear your run is almost complete. From what you have shown us, it looks fabulous!
    My favourite household gadgets are a Dyson cordless stick vacuum (a V6, newer models available now) and my Vitamix blender (Professional Series 750). Who knew one could “just love” a small appliance!
    And so nice that you are able to visit France again. Looking forward to your travel wardrobe post and well, really, all your posts as usual.
    Suz from Vancouver

    • Elle
      January 26, 2018 / 6:32 am

      I have a vitamix in my wish list for smoothies and soups. Is it hard to clean? What do you use it for?

      • Suz
        January 27, 2018 / 4:15 pm

        No it isn’t. There is a designated cleaning program that you can use – fill ~halfway with hot water and a few drops of dish soap, and the clean program runs for about 40 seconds. Sometimes I wipe it out with a dish washing sponge using firm pressure, taking care not to get too close to the sharp blades. It is a little cloudy but I don’t get too fussed about that! Highly recommend this appliance! Suz

  10. sosusam
    January 25, 2018 / 8:27 am

    Thanks for your bucket/mop/hardwood floor cleaner recommendations! I know, it’s a bit sad to get so excited about such mundane things, but your reco’s came at the perfect time. 😉 As for your travel plans, they sound glorious. Must be so fun to plan the trip in the middle of winter (even if it’s a warm-ish California winter).

  11. Carolyn from Oregon
    January 25, 2018 / 8:31 am

    My favorite housecleaning weapon is the McCulloch steam cleaner. Steam gets things amazingly clean without chemicals. It was perfect for getting all grit off the new tile floors, countertops, stainless steel and glass shower doors after our remodel,. I know some people rave about using it on wood floors – I don’t dare try it on ours. It can do damage if used on the wrong thing so you need to make sure it is safe for every surface. I only use it every couple of months, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for routine use. That and microfiber cloths make a big difference to me.

    My late sainted mother would be doubled over with laughter if she knew her daughter was actually giving housecleaning tips.

  12. Sasha
    January 25, 2018 / 8:46 am

    Lyon is our home away from home … a great city, especially for those of us who find Paris (and L.A.) almost a little too exciting. Yes, it prides itself on food and restaurants, but there’s plenty to see as a tourist, as well as interesting neighborhoods for strolling, easy access to the outdoors, and more. One recommendation: walk around the Croix Rousse and visit the Maison des Canuts, which recounts the history of the Lyon silk industry in a historic building.

  13. January 25, 2018 / 9:20 am

    You will love that area. The food is excellent but can be a bit rich. You should definitely visit Beaune for the wines and Macon and Tournus are also interesting towns.

  14. Marceline Miller
    January 25, 2018 / 9:30 am

    Best “gadget” is really a eebsite– “the ,FLYlady” (Marla Cilley) keeps the site completely free and does sell some high-quality , extensively tested products. Can’t say enough good things about Flylady!

    • Brenda
      January 25, 2018 / 10:28 am

      Please say which you find most useful? The Rubba Scrubba? The mop? Looking for a way to clean our new hardwood floors.

      • Brenda
        January 25, 2018 / 10:28 am

        PS – thank you so much!

  15. Peggy
    January 25, 2018 / 9:42 am

    After years of trying various floor cleaning methods for our wood, tile, and laminate flooring, always keeping our dogs’ safety in mind (constant kitchen floor licking and their closeness to the floor), I found that a good microfiber pad and plain water on any pole cleaning device works the best. The microfiber cleans all the gunk with little effort with no residue left behind – and no chemicals.

  16. Elizabeth Ferry
    January 25, 2018 / 9:56 am

    I’m a pretty new follower but enjoy tremendously. We are Italophiles, not Francophiles, but I totally appreciate your amour. I was also lucky enough to have mentors to whom it was not the sign of a shallow being to love fashion.
    I live in a town that has a seminal piece of architecture that brings to mind your photo today. Is there a way to attach it?

  17. Nicole K
    January 25, 2018 / 11:50 am

    Nothing to add to the cleaning device department, but after a major renovation of our home 5 years ago, be sure to have your heating ducts clean before next winter! Lots of dust settles in there during the reno and you don’t want it blowing out next January.

    Congrats on the near completion and upcoming travels. All of it is very exciting!

  18. Duchesse
    January 25, 2018 / 2:51 pm

    I have to have that mop/bucket thing! Would you happen to be in Paris b/t May 1 and 19? If so pls let me know!

    • Susan B
      January 25, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      Hi Duchesse, unfortunately it looks like we arrive on May 31. Drat!! (But I’m lobbying le Monsier for a fall visit to NY and Montreal…will touch base if we can make it happen!)

  19. Sandra
    January 25, 2018 / 3:59 pm

    We visit Lyon often-it is a beautiful city. Be sure to check out Tete d’Or Park there as well as the Roman arena. The Hospice in Beaune is very interesting if you’ll be stopping there.

  20. January 26, 2018 / 3:12 am

    Such a timely post, Susan. Just orderd the mop/bucket and floor cleaner product. Thank you.

  21. Elle
    January 26, 2018 / 6:39 am

    Great post, Sue. Lots of positive changes for you! A relaxing trip after sorting out the house sounds perfect.

    May I add a question? I’m wondering is anyone has a less-toxic cleaning product to recommend that can really work on bathroom & kitchen grime? The odors and health implications from the tradional supermarket offerings are starting to get to me.

    Thanks all,

    • Susan B
      January 26, 2018 / 6:55 am

      Elle, I’ve begun using diluted white vinegar for cleaning just about everything else in the kitchen.

      • Elle
        January 27, 2018 / 10:04 am

        Great reminder, thanks

  22. Barbara
    January 26, 2018 / 11:38 am

    Susan, I have used that mop and bucket combo for about a year now and I love it! I have hardwood, cork and tile flooring and it works great for all types. The mop heads are easy to clean in the washing machine after every use and they last a long time. My favorite cleaning product is Simple Green. I buy it in the concentrated form in a gallon size from Sams club. After our whole house remodel 4 years ago it was invaluable for cleaning up after construction.

  23. Judy
    January 26, 2018 / 6:14 pm

    Took a road trip not long ago driving after a week in Paris through Champagne, Diijon, Lyon, and places in between but getting to the south of France was a dream. St. Paul and Eze are spactacular. I would go back just to see those two places. Very dreamy. Must see!!!

  24. Jo
    January 28, 2018 / 9:48 am

    The best taste au citron I’ve had in France was in Dijon, at a little bakery close to the central market! Of course find the Choquette de Dijon and rub its belly for good luck!

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