Monday, March 11, 2013

Preparing for My 2013 Spring Cleaning

Mondays are a busy workday and errand day for me. By the time we get home from my teenager's tutoring session, we're starving and eat dinner right away. We're not left with a whole bunch of time in the evening for projects, so I'm keeping tonight's Spring Cleaning project very simple. Mostly I'll just be gathering supplies and taking inventory of my cleaning products.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

Honeysuckle Counter Spray, by Mrs. Meyers

  • Make menu plan for the week ahead; create grocery list
  • Need to do any hand washing of laundry? Stockings, Spanx, fragile lingerie or other linens? I like to set things in the sink for a nice soak, then go finish them and hang them to dry during a commercial.
  • Will you be sleeping in a freshly laundered nightgown or pajamas tonight?
  • Try to toss out one tired old T-shirt tonight. This will make room in your dresser for something lovely. I bet we all have five or six ratty old T-shirts we could get rid of if we were determined enough!
  • Slice fresh fruit and leave it out on the counter for yourself and your family to enjoy tonight.
  • It only takes about 3 minutes to stir a box mix of muffins or banana bread, 10 seconds to pop it into the oven, 10 seconds to take them out when done, and a couple minutes to clean up and recycle the box. Have you baked fresh muffins for your family lately?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Planning Spring Cleaning and Collecting Supplies

Basil Blue Sage All-Purpose Cleaner, from Caldrea

Tonight I'm mostly going over my multiple cupboards where we store cleaning supplies, taking inventory and trying to consolidate them. We do have childproof locks on my cabinets, but I'd prefer to have all my cleaning supplies in one place, ideally. I might still stash a countertop cleaner under the kitchen sink next to the backup dish soap and the dishwasher detergent, but there's no reason to have Windex and toilet cleaner stored there!

I'll see if there's anything I have too much of (did I buy too many cans of Orange Pledge, or have I just been neglecting my dusting lately?) Then I'll make a shopping list for any cleaning products or supplies I might need. I know I definitely need another scrubber sponge or two.

After I'm done taking inventory, I'll see if there are any items I can get rid of to declutter (I recently got rid of my rarely used Swiffer stick). Then I'll make a plan for the rest of my Spring Cleaning. I want to do quick and easy projects on weeknights, and major projects on weekends.

And this year I'm focusing on not just cleaning and maintaining my home, but replacing and renewing. If I have grotty looking old towel hangers in the bathroom, it's time to replace them with new ones. If the wood molding in a bathroom is looking dingy and scuffed, it's time to think about tearing it out and installing new molding. I'm not up for any big home renovation projects, but so many things are easy to replace right away - inexpensive lamp shades, heater vent covers, filthy stained light switch plates, etc.

What cleaning supplies are you low on?

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Tea Forte's Garden Harvest White Tea

I'm so excited to try Tea Forte's new white teas for Spring 2013. The new flavors include Peach Rhubarb Preserve, Tupelo Honey Fig, White Cinnamon Sage, Wild Apple Ginger and Tangerine Rosemary. They sound so tasty!

Garden Harvest at Tea Forte

LOVELY BLOGS: My Custard Pie

"Honest food, fresh ingredients, and a slice of life in Dubai." I find this blog SO fascinating! Sally originally was from Gloucestershire, England, and relocated to Dubai a few years ago. I am really enjoying her posts - lately an Italian restaurant review, a review of Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat" book, and her experiences at a Women and Wine event.

http://mycustardpie.com/

My Custard Pie on Facebook

LOVELY CRAFTS: Paper Source's Easter Crafts

Right now Paper Source is featuring so many adorable Easter and Spring craft kits you can make with your kids. There's a bunny garland, an egg garland, a paper bunny kit, an Easter place card chicks kit (does anybody use place cards anymore though?) and die-cut eggs and bunnies. Also check out this intriguing paper carrot box.

Easter Crafts, at Paper Source

LOVELY HOME FRAGRANCE: Maison Luxe from Archipelago Botanicals

I'm always a sucker for beautifully packaged candles, so I was excited to see this new line from Archipelago Botanicals. I finally got to smell these in person at the Seattle Gift Show recently. I didn't personally care for "Manor" (Sandalwood, Raw Vanilla and Amber) but I loved "Palazzo" (Permission, White Nectarine and Olive Wood) and "Chalet" (Bergamot, Lemon Leaf and pressed flowers).

Maison Luxe at Archipelago Botanicals

LOVELY MOVIES: Somewhere in Time

I admit it, this sappy 1980s movie is one of my favorites. This website is a lovely resource for the film. I just learned here that "Somewhere in Time: The Musical" is debuting in Portland Oregon this Spring. I'd love to go see it if I could slip away! Check out the galleries for behind-the-scenes photos and nice photos of Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve.

http://somewhereintime.tv/

LOVELY SHOPS: Bellflower Bay

I wanted to share this vintage and antique jewelry Etsy shop with you. I don't know the owner and they didn't ask to be featured, I just have enjoyed browsing here so much. This is exactly the style of jewelry I prefer to wear: vintage Victorian pieces. I love the geometric shapes of the gemstones and the delicate touches. I haven't bought anything from here yet - I doubt dainty Victorian rings will fit on my age-fattened fingers, sadly!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BellflowerBay

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Chickpea, Fennel and Citrus Salad (Bon Appetit)

Hazelnut Coffee Cupcakes (The Cupcake Project)

Kahlua Chocolate Decadence Brownie (Worth the Whisk)

Keeping Books Alive (Martha Stewart)

Mango Pineapple Salsa (Brown Eyed Baker)

Pumpkin Pineapple Spice Muffins (Foodess)

Sweet and Sour Citrus Chicken Stir Fry (Our Best Bites)

Time-Saving Tips to Get That Hour Back (Organized Island)

20 Irish Recipes for St. Patrick's Day (Bon Appetit)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy March - Spring Cleaning Begins!

Mrs. Meyers "Radish" Scented Cleaning Products

I normally begin my Spring Cleaning on March 1st or as close to that as I can get. But this year, I had a houseguest visiting to attend Emerald City Comic Con with me. I did have to (choose to) do a lot of cleaning before she arrived. I get nervous about how much dog and cat hair is all over my house, whenever someone visits who isn't a pet owner.

Now, today, I'm ready to start my Spring Cleaning. I'd rather do all my heavy cleaning and organizing for the year, right now while the weather is bad. (It's been lovely and sunny lately though, but it's Seattle, so I anticipate some rainfall in our immediate future.) Cleaning now will will free me up for sunny spring walks with my dogs in April (in between our rain showers) and lolling with a book on a sunny patch of carpet instead of washing windows and working hard on the house a few weeks from today.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Look over your budget for the rest of the month. This month you might be spending extra for cleaning supplies, organizing supplies or replacements of old towels, pillowcases, etc. How much can you budget for these things, if they're important to you?
  • Look over your list of upcoming birthdays this month. Write cards tonight and mail them in the morning for anybody with a birthday this week. For further-out birthdays, order flowers, and prepare to send gifts for those people you plan to do that for.
  • Do you need to make any doctor, dentist, vet, haircut or salon appointments for yourself or family members? Any appointments coming up this week you don't want to forget about?
  • Is it time to lube and oil your car or take it in for other maintenance tasks?
  • Are you attending any plays, musicals, concerts or symphonies this spring? Buy tickets now if you haven't yet.
  • Do you know where you're going for Spring Break (if you have kids and are planning to travel). Travel booked and paid for? Arrangements made?
  • Take some time to look over your budget for the next month. Need to budget for any birthday parties, a St. Patrick's Day party, an Easter Brunch or other festivities? Don't just do your financial budget (which is very important too) but make your time budget. Do you have time for gardening, homemaking, work, projects - but also time for family, friends, pets, and very importantly, yourself?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Beds

"Jocelyn" Floral Duvet Cover, from Pottery Barn

My first Spring Cleaning project involves all the beds in my house. I'm going to strip all the sheets, duvets and comforters to launder. I'll even take off the dust ruffles and mattress pads to launder, too. I plan to vacuum the mattresses, flip them, and Febreze them a bit as needed.

Then I will move the beds, vacuuming under them and removing any items that shouldn't be under there. (I keep a flashlight and a telephone under my bed, and that's about it nowadays).

"Colette" Bed, from Crate and Barrel

This year I'm paying extra attention to the condition and quality of items in my home. (Last year was more about decluttering). Is it time to upgrade or replace any of my bed and bedding related items? I don't have a headboard or bed set - is it time to get one, or am I happy without one? New nice, clean, comfortable pillows cost just $12 or so at Costco or Target. When's the last time you bought new pillows for your beds? I try to replace mine every year, shuddering and thinking of a year's worth of dust mite buildup in them. I keep some of the older ones for guest pillows, but usually we don't end up using them. Is it time for a new dust ruffle, a new mattress pad, or a new mattress entirely? How old IS your mattress and box springs?

Damask Stripe Sheets, from JC Penney

Are your sheets torn, faded, tired looking or pilling? Time to get new sheets? Do you have just one set of sheets, or do you have seasonal sets like I do? (Flannel for fall and winter, cotton for spring and summer?) Sheets can be a really big investment, so I only replace them every five or so years. I recently bought a set of damask stripe burgundy sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond for my winter bedding set, but they tore right away in my washer, and they look wrinkly, so I'm kind of frustrated.

Tonight my household members will go to sleep in freshly cleaned beds. My washing machine is sure going to get a workout!

LOVELY BLOGS: The Harried Homemaker Preps

I'm enjoying this blog on homesteading, survival and being prepared. I don't tend to gravitate towards "prepper" blogs, but I find this lady's info on gardening, food storage, and canning to be really helpful in my own quest to economize more and create more things myself.

Recent posts include Perennial Vegetables for Your Survival Garden; Indoor Seed Starting; and how to know how much to plant.

http://theharriedhomemakerpreps.blogspot.com/

LOVELY CRAFTS: Fabric Dollhouses

These are adorable! I'm wondering if I'm actually brave enough to attempt one for my niece. She'd most likely love it and carry it around with her everywhere, if I could actually make myself sit down and try it!

Fabric Dollhouse Tutorial from UK Lass in the US

LOVELY FOOD: Moonstruck Chocolates for Easter

I always look forward to seeing what Moonstruck Chocolates is offering for their seasonal Easter collection. This year there's the usual adorable colorful Easter Egg truffles, a dark chocolate rooster, some cute calico bunny chocolates, and a gorgeous hand-painted artisan egg.

Easter Chocolates, at Moonstruck

LOVELY HOME FRAGRANCE: Sheet Spray

Not everyone here is going to want to spray chemical fragrances on their sheets. I personally really enjoy doing so. My favorite from this line is "Beach Days," with "Line Dried" a close runner up. When you're mid-week and it's not time to wash your sheets again already, it can be really comforting to freshen them up with a lovely spritz or two.

Sheet Sprays from The Good Home Co.

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Cobb Salad with French Dressing (Fructose Free Me)

A Crunchy Granola Recipe to Welcome Maple Syrup Season (Chatelaine)

Double Chocolate Stout Mousse Cake (Sprinkle Bakes)

Etiquette Redefined in the Digital Age (NY Times)

Homemade Yeast Doughnuts (Calm Optimism)

Lemon, Rosemary and Zucchini Bread (Tastebud Temptation)

My Lazy Gardening Secret (Slate)

Potato and Rosemary Pizza (Williams-Sonoma)

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake (Sweetapolita)

Soda Bread: Sugar Added, Fairies Optional (NY Times)