My Easy Three: Keeping it Clean and Fresh

Summer is here and so are the sweaty odors that come with it.  It isn’t a glamorous topic, just keeping it real.  Here are My Easy Three tips for June!

Swim Wear — It is an investment every year to add a new swim suit to your poolside frolics.  You can extend the life of your suit by taking just a few minutes to wash it out after each use.  If you don’t have time to soak it in a gentle detergent like this set from Everything But Water, at least rinse it out with cool tap water before hanging it to dry.

I keep a set of these detergents (Woolite is good, too) in my swimwear drawer.  It only takes a capful of the cleaner to your pail of water, add your suit, let it soak for 3 minutes, rinse, then soak in the protector, skip the rinse, wring, and hang to dry. Chlorine, salt and sun deteriorate the delicate fabrics of your swimwear and by washing your suits after every use, you can keep them just as fresh as the day you bought it.

Smelly Sneakers — working out, hiking, yard work, and so on makes for odorous sneaks.  When we traveled to Turkey a few summers ago, one of the best tips shared by a Container Store employee, were these Mini Moso Charcoal Deoderizers.  They are naturally safe, help to absorb odors and moisture, are renewable by recharging them in the sun and after two years of use, they are biodegradable.  Just plant them in your flower beds when you are done!  They come in sets of two for $9.99.  I have several sets and stuff them in all my active footwear when not in use.

Baking soda is my friend. Remember that hot sauce commercial where the Grandmotherly voice says, “I use that SH*& on everything!”  Well, I do use baking soda for a variety of uses and not just in my biscuits.  I buy a bag just like this at Costco and fill a bin in my laundry room.  I add a scoop of soda in the laundry powder dispenser.  It mixes in with the detergent pod and keeps the inside of the washer clean (if you have a front loading machine you are familiar with that odor), and it deodorizes my towels, sheets and active wear.  I also add a scoop every time I clean the litterbox. In addition to being a multi-tasker, baking soda is inexpensive and safe to use.

If you want more of My Easy Three tips — visit my other ideas for Organization and Homekeeping.

Have a fabulous Friday!

My Easy Three: Accessory Organization

My Easy Three is a series I started in January to share inspiring ideas that are doable and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

This month, I focused on my closet using a few products from The Container Store, taking advantage of their 15% off closet storage sale. Warning:  I am showing you my underwear drawer!

First up, we might as well get the “unmentionables” out of the way.  I purchased the 3-section twill drawer organizer.

What I like about the drawer organizer for lingerie is I can fold my undergarments and organize them according to color and type. It helps me to see what I have, access it quickly and keep it neat and tidy.  I purchased three organizers.  The first easily held all my lingerie, the second I used to organize shape wear, and the third for my tank tops.

Second, I wanted a way to see all my brooches and pins.  Some belonged to Mother, and others I’ve picked up on my own either new or in antique stores.  These low-heeled shoe boxes are made for a narrow profile shoe like a flip flop.  Wonderful on it’s own, I decided to use it to stack accessories on the glass shelves I hung on the wall in my master closet.  I wanted a space for my accessories that had the feel of a boutique and these stackable boxes are pretty and functional.  I can easily see what I have.  If you know what you have you will wear it!

Third, over the last several years as I have switched to wearing glasses more than my contacts, I have curated an eye wear wardrobe. I mean, you can’t wear the same glasses everyday!  I feel like eye wear is jewelry for the face.  I needed a place to house all my eye glasses so I can easily access them and keep them protected.  These stackable boxes are perfect for my prescription sunglasses, too.

If you want to catch up, here are projects from January and March.  I wonder what I can tackle for May?  Do you need inspiration for a project? Be sure to leave a comment for Mrs. Twist and she will get to work with ideas just for you!

My January Easy Three: Organization

Finishing up my January new year clean out.  Although I purge throughout the year, January is a great month to tackle a few projects.  I shared two stories previous to this post here on cleaning and here on recycling and re-purposing.  This post is about organization — specifically my three favorite products for keeping supplies organized.

First, I took advantage of the Container Store Elfa sale and got a gift wrap cart. I went through all my ribbons, bags and wrapping paper and did a major purge. Sometimes this takes two go-arounds since at first you think “I sorta like it, I might use it” then you have to do a good stern talking to yourself with “be serious, you will not use that because you haven’t in three years.”

It comes with five drawers which I designated for big bags, medium to small bags, tissue paper, gift tags and ribbon.  The side compartment holds rolls of paper.  I’ve got plenty of room to grow into the cart.  Any bigger and I would feel like I had to fill it up.  What I like about the cart is I can move it from the closet to my work space, plus since I can see it I am less likely to buy unnecessarily.   I can see several other great uses for this like scrap booking, stationary, crafting, etc…  A really good investment.

Second, I love Container Store multi-purpose bins.  I have them all over the house. Recently, I went through my pantry again and reorganized and decided to use these bins to store my canned goods.  I had been using the stacking stair for my canned goods, but I could never see what I had or glass jars were perilously sitting on the edge of disaster.

shelf of peril before
after

This system makes me only purchase what I need.  If the bin is overflowing, I have too many items.  I can easily pull out the bin, place it on the counter and return it.  I can also stick a note on the bin when I am doing an inventory for grocery shopping.  The chalkboard labels are from Michael’s and peel off.

My third favorite — glass jars.  I use them for dry goods.  Again, it helps me to see how much I have on-hand and makes it easier for me to prepare my shopping list.  The larger jars for staples like flour and sugar are from the Container Store.  But on a recent visit to Ikea, I found this smaller jar perfect for things like raisins, rice, popcorn and bread crumbs.  Super affordable at $2.99 a jar.

I use turntables in the corners of the pantry for things like syrup, sauces and vinegars.  Next to the dog food, I have the small bin with pet meds, their shot records and copies of dog food labels so when we have a petsitter it’s all handy for her to access.   I have a few empty jars for staples I may add to the pantry for later.

So, that’s a wrap.  I hope these “Easy Three” were helpful.  Be sure to share if you tried any of these tips, or have your own to share.

My January Easy Three: Part Two

Today, we are talking about three simple re-purposing and de-cluttering tips – part two of “My Easy Three” things to start your January off on a great start. Part one here focused on cleaning.

Recycle Greeting Cards – of all kinds

I recently went through all my stationary, everything from note cards, stationary, old Christmas cards and even Christmas cards I have received recently.  Did you know St. Jude’s Ranch for Children will accept all-occasion greeting cards, year-round?  The program recycles the cards to create new ones.  The proceeds from the sales of the new cards help to support programs and services for abused, neglected and homeless children, young adults and families.  Read more about how to send in your cards and stationary here.

Clear out your inbox, unsubscribe/Install the free phone app Hiya

The first of each month I go through my inbox and delete old emails — especially from all the retailers.  I will subscribe to a retailer to receive a coupon, or you’re added to their list when you make a purchase, but then they keep sending emails — sometimes daily.  Retail emails fill most of my box more than personal emails.  If you go through and unsubscribe to most everything on a regular basis, eventually you start to see your inbox getting smaller.

Six months ago I added the free app Hiya on my phone.  Hiya identifies the calls you want to pick up and automatically blocks the ones you want to avoid.  For example, I kept getting repeated calls from numbers I didn’t recognize.  Once I put Hiya on my phone, the calls reduced dramatically because Hiya recognized the source as solicitation or fraud.  You can click on the number to see where it originated from and Hiya provides a report of the type of call it detected — in my case Fraud Income Tax Collectors — with feedback from customers who answered the call.  Hiya then blocks the call.  Now I no longer receive all the annoying solicitations and potentially fraudulent calls.  Seriously, the only calls I receive now are from people I want to talk to.

Create a virtual libraryEatYourBooks.com

My friend Kathy reads the newspaper, so that’s how I get my news.  My mother used to put clippings on my bed so it’s sweet that Kathy will find things she thinks HWaT readers might want to know.   EatYourBooks.com is a virtual clearinghouse with over one million recipes creating a search engine from hundreds of cookbooks.  Once you sign up (which looks like the basic level is free), you add the cookbooks you own and your recipe index is created.  You can also add magazine subscriptions and create shopping lists from recipes.  Interesting concept.  Have any of you tried this?

It’s a good practice to go through your cookbooks periodically to cull the books you don’t really use anymore.  If I bring a new cookbook into my library, one book must go.  You can also scan copies of the few recipes you like, then donate the cookbook.  We have a “Friends of the Library” retail store in our community that will take all kinds of gently used books, sell them, and use the proceeds to purchase new books and software for the public libraries.  Community Centers also need books of all kinds for their literacy programs.

Stay tuned the next “Easy Three” for organizing.

My January Easy Three: Part one

More than any other time of the year, January seems to be “the month” that we kick it into overdrive with cleaning, organizing and clearing out the clutter.  So, in a three-part series, I am sharing my “My Easy Three” tips or ideas to help you.

Starting with cleaning, here of are my favorite products and one must-have for your home keeping library.

Baking soda.  Love it.  We purchase it in bulk at Costco and keep it in a labeled bin in the laundry room.  I put a scoop of soda in the soap dispenser when I do laundry that I know either has stains or odor — especially great for towels, sheets and whites. Using it in the wash seems to keep the front loader washer smell at bay.  I also use it to remove pet stains (read this post here) and we put a scoop in the litter box everyday.  Here’s a helpful checklist from the Arm & Hammer website for other uses of baking soda.

Next is a household cleaner from Young Living.  The Thieves line is amazing.  “Formulated with the power of Young Living’s Thieves oil blend, you can get a deep clean without dangerous or synthetic ingredients. Thieves cleaner also includes the scent of Lemon essential oil for an even more uplifting aroma. Chores will feel like less of a chore with the sweet-and-spicy scent and effective cleaning power of Thieves Household Cleaner.” Here’s a great video to watch here.  It’s concentrated and you add water to dilute it so it goes a long way.  Miss Bee’s job is to make up a bucket and wipe down the baseboards and doors.  I use it to mop the floors and wipe down the counters.  The line also comes with room spray, which I use to spray the mattresses when I clean the sheets and I diffuse the essential oil if anyone in the house is sick.   It’s pretty much a multipurpose product which leaves my house smelling fresh and clean.

Last, The Complete Book of Clean by Tony Hammersley.  She has a beautiful blog called A Bowl Full of Lemons.  The book is not available until April but can be purchased for pre-sale. If it’s anything like her previous book “The Complete Book of Home Organization” which I own, I cannot wait for her new book. She includes tips and techniques for keeping your home clean, including recipes for making your own cleaning products with schedules and checklists to keep you on track.

I hope these Easy Three tips inspire you!  Next time I will share my favorite organization products.

Getting Ready for Guests — Home Tour, Checklist and Free Printable

We’ve made the food and picked out what to wear  Now it’s time to ready the space your guests will slumber after a delicious meal.  Here is the room I have created for guests when they come to stay…

guest-bedroom
Guest Bedroom

And an easy checklist to help you ready your guest room:

1)  Dust everything, including the headboard.  No one wants to sleep in a dusty room.
2)  Vacuum the floor.
3)  Put on clean linens and wash or put your comforter in the dryer with a laundry sheet to freshen it up.  Make sure there’s an extra blanket for guests that are always cold and fan for those who are always warm (that would be me!).
4)  Make sure the bedside table is equipped with a new box of tissues, bottled water, and a clock or device charger.
5)  Gather up toiletries like toothpaste, a toothbrush (my friend Kathy NEVER remembers her toothbrush), hand lotion, a razor, chapstick, mouthwash and put them in a basket in the drawer.
6)  Make sure your bathroom is clean, with clean towels.  Is there extra toilet paper handy.
7)  Is there a new bottle of shampoo and conditioner and bar of soap in the tub?  New bottles look fresh and inviting rather than half used ones with soap dripping down the side.
8)  I always have a first aid kit ready with band aids, alcohol wipes, antibacterial ointment.  Tuck it into a clear box.  The Container Store has a cute one here.
9) Windex the windows so they have a clear view.  You would be surprised how dirty your windows get from keeping the house closed up during winter months.
10)  Most grocery stores have $3 bouquets of flowers.  For a minimal investment you can put a pretty bunch of flowers next to their bed making your guests feel welcome.
11)  Light a candle or run a diffuser in their room with something soothing like lavender.

Other nice touches are new issues of magazines, some treats for late night snacking like an apple, granola bar or chocolates in a basket at the bedside or on the bench at the end of the bed along with their fresh towels.  I usually try to keep bottled water or a carafe and glass with filtered water so guests don’t have to make a late night trip to the kitchen for something to drink.

guest-room-bedside-table

guest-towel-on-bathroom-counter

In the bathroom, monogrammed hand towels are such a personalized touch, with fresh flowers and a candle.  It’s like treating your guests to a visit to a day spa.  Kohls and Kirkland’s always carry inexpensive, monogrammed towels.  You could purchase a few with your guest’s initial and send them home as a thank you gift.

I also have an apothecary jar full of travel sized toiletries for guests to choose from.  Fill your soap dispensers, too.

phoebe-bathroom

Another nice touch is your Wifi password in a pretty frame on the nightstand.

wifipasswordsample28129I found a printable from I Rock So What several months ago and saved it to my Pinterest Printable board.  There are so many creative people out there willing to share their talents by pinning them to Pinterest.  Please check out my board.  There are tons of cute tags, printables and art.

You can go to her site and download the image and add your own WiFi passcode.  I used Paint and it was super simple.

 

Remember…”Hospitality is when someone 
feels at home in your presence.”

Wednesday’s Weave: Steam vs. Iron

steamerAbout a year ago, I jumped shipped on ironing and invested in a steamer. It has changed my world.

I purchased the Rowenta 1550 Upright Garment Steamer from QVC (it’s on clearance right now). I have this in my closet and since it’s on wheels I can move it out of the closet to my bedroom if I have several pieces of clothing I want to do at one time.

There are a few reasons I decided to use a steamer…it’s easier on your fabric especially things like silk.  The steam helps to freshen my garment.  I don’t get the water stain from the iron when it leaks water (Ugh).  And it’s super fast, taking only one minute to warm up and no ironing board to put up and down. I pull something from my closet rack, hang it on the steamer, steam the wrinkles out and done.

steamer-2

It’s a breeze when I need to get wrinkles out of sleeves or pant legs. Because it has a built in wardrobe, you can hang a coat or blouse on the top and steam it.  It comes with clips for pants and a pull down valet to help you steam from both sides.

So, while I still have my iron and ironing board waiting in the wings just in case, if my great relationship with Mr. Steamer continues…the iron and I will be breaking up.

What to Pack for a Conference

16-1-3

This summer I went to a blogging conference.  Believe it or not, I usually don’t make time to think through what I am going to pack and just willy-nilly throw things into a bag and go.  Before I started running a household, I did make time for this.  In fact, Mother always taught me to make a list, by each day, of what I would wear, including shoes and accessories.  But now, most of my energy is spent making lists for Mr. and Miss Bee while I am away, cleaning and making sure the house is perfect when I leave.  This time, because I knew I would be meeting new people, networking and spending time out of my room in workshops from morning until evening, I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed to be prepared and comfortable.

This post is more about essentials than what to wear, but I will toss in a few suggestions on this.

16-1I took a canvas tote bag that my friend Molly Cox from PoppyCox, Inc. made for me. It was the perfect size to carry.

I packed a stylish pair of tennis shoes.  These are Skechers Memory Foam and are super comfy.  Perfect for running between flights, to baggage claim to the taxi.   They came in handy in the evenings when I would walk to dinner to get some exercise.

Inside my bag:

  • A pencil case — kickin’ it old school, I dipped into Miss Bee’s overstock of pen/pencil cases and packed fun, sharpened pencils, a big white eraser, pens and a highlighter.
  • Calling card case — again, I defer to Miss Bee on this.  She gets a monthly Ipsy and every order comes with a makeup case.  I used one to put all my calling cards and ones I collected during the trip.  At night, I would go through each card.  It was fun to see everyone’s personalities come through.
  • Snacks — A small baggie with granola bars.  This was helpful because by the afternoon I needed a pick me up.

day-designer

  • My Day Designer.  This was where I took notes, wrote inspirational quotes and planned my goals for my return home.  It is beautiful and functional. Whitney English in launching her 2017 line next week…perfect Christmas gift.
  • Makeup Bag — I tucked in ChapStick, Systane eye drops, hand lotion, a package of chewing gum, a few mints, and my favorite wipes from The Container Store.  They come in mint, lemon and lavender scent. They are the perfect refreshment for your skin.
  • The other great use for a tote bag is to store all the handouts and giveaways from vendors.
  • A good water bottle is helpful to stay hydrated.  In this case, I was in a hotel conference so I had access to plenty of iced tea!
  • A soft wrap when the room is cold.  This can easily fit into your tote.
  • Last, I took “hostess gifts” — a praline wrapped in a fun paper bag with my calling card taped to it with washi tape.  I share these with presenters at the end of class and to bloggers I admire and had the chance to meet on this trip.  Mother always taught me to take a thank you gift to every party I attend, and this was no exception.

praline-favors

Corals and Cognacs has a great post on “How to Pack Your Carry On Like a Boss” including the really cute printable.  I’ve always thought it would be helpful to have a personalized travel check-list saved in my PC so I can update it and print it before every trip.  Stop. Reinventing. The. Wheel.

travel-checklist-packing

Did I leave something out that is essential for your bag?  Please share!

Wednesday’s Weave — A Well Designed Life

Day Designer

One of my favorite tools for staying organized, especially when I am planning my blog posts, is my Day Designer by Whitney English. It’s not only pretty on the outside with gold hardware corners, but the inside has all sorts of great features like daily goals, planning sheets, to-do lists and daily inspirational quotes.  I took it with me to my blogging conference recently and filled the empty pages with notes I took from the workshops I attended.  So, all my blogging tools are in one place.

During one of my evening Pinterest searches, I came across a beautiful list from Day Designer “50 Best Practices for Living a Well-Designed Life.” I’ve only shared the top five tips.  If you want the entire list visit here.

2016-08-30 (3)

I mean, if you only did the top five, you’d have an awesome day.  On the rest of the list, I thought I’d share the tips I can use the most:

Ask for Help When you Need It — Sounds so simple, yet why is it hard!

Take a Detox bath once a week with Epsom Salt — This is coming up on a blog story.  Mother always had several cartons of these salts on hand.  I thought they were just for old people.  Wrong.  This is good stuff.

Don’t try to strengthen your weaknesses.  Big.  Big. Big.

Go for experiences, not things.

Write at least one thank-you note a week on real stationary, not an email.

Change your thoughts if you want to change your life.  Big. Big. Big

I challenge you to print the list, put it somewhere you will see it and check off the things you can try, maybe for the first time.  It may be life changing.  Thank you Day Designer for sharing it with us.

Easy, Breezy Laundry Room Project

julie laundry room finishedThis is the finished laundry room of my bestie Julie.  Back in early spring, we set our calendars for me to drive down to Austin to help her with the “Great Laundry Room Cleanout of 2016.”  It was about a 4-day project starting with this…

julie laundry room pile of stuffDon’t judge.  We all have spaces like this in our homes.  A room we just keep piling things to get to someday (garages count, too).  Before you know it, the pile has grown so much the thought of trying to find a home for everything is overwhelming.  Then, you do nothing because it’s paralyzing on where to start first.  Projects like this require assistance. And, I love to organize!

There a few things Julie wanted to address about the room that weren’t working for her.  First, those hooks on the wall became a negative because it allowed for clutter to build up.  All the spaces were filled to the brim with linens, towels and items that belonged in other parts of the house. The table, that was supposed to be used just for folding clothes right out of the dryer, became a catch all.julie laundry room before clean out - Copy

 

Before you can use a space efficiently, you have to define how you are going to use it.  I suggested Julie create a Laundry Room Pinterest board and pin photos of how she wanted the space to feel and look — even down to paint colors.  She wanted it to be pretty, functional, clean and clutter free.  She’s lucky because working in her favor was the size of the laundry room and lots of storage cabinets (I have envy here, because my laundry room is the size of a closet).

This rack of clothes was a problem, too.  Set up to be just a holding area until clean clothes could be put away, it turned into a closet.  She fixed that by purging her closet and found a home for the rack of clothes in the laundry room.  Even though Julie is the one to use this room the most, I asked her husband and son what they wanted us to accomplish with this re-do and they both echoed Julie’s goals — a clean, clutter free space to do laundry.

julie laundry room clothes rack - Copy

 

We started early the first day by clearing EVERYTHING out of the room.  I mean all of it.  Not a shelf or cabinet had an item left.

julie laundry room empty large cabinetjulie laundry room empty small cabinets

It was obvious to her, as we cleaned out, what could go immediately into the trash, for donation or re-sale.  The items for donation went straight to the van for delivery later that day.  Julie set up card tables in the living room for all the items we needed to sort according to their category.

julie laundry room living room piles

Completely emptying a space allows you to see a blank canvas, inventory your items, and decide the best way to use them in the “new space.”  For example, we realized that cleaning supplies were better relocated to her kitchen utility closet because that’s the space in the house where she starts and finishes her housekeeping, not in the laundry room.  It was important to Julie to keep the laundry room just for as it was intended, laundry and storage of bed and table linens, towels, pool and swimming supplies, blankets and laundry supplies.

Once the room was cleared out, she decided what needed to return to the space, and how many of each item she really needed.  We all have things we like to collect…Julie’s thing is to have a nice assortment of bed linens. When you are helping someone clean out their stuff, try to be respectful of what’s important to them, but also guide them to see realistically what could stay or should go.

Once we determined what was going back in, we shopped for a few containers to store her items to keep them visually separated.  We gave the room a good cleaning and went to Sherwin-Williams to select her paint.  We used this lovely piece of pottery as her inspiration for the colors she wanted to use in her laundry room…

pottery inspiration

We painted all but one wall Special Gray SW 6277, and one feature wall Emberglow SW 6627.  It gave the room the perfect pop of color.

paint colors

Julie selected shelves from the Threshhold selection at Target.  A few of the decorative accents were from Target, but we also shopped her house for items, too.  The school house clock is from Target and it makes the space!  It’s the perfect size to fill the spot above her mason jars filled with laundry pods.  The cool phone she found on Amazon because the 80’s called and wanted the other phone back (see below).

julie laundry room with clock

julie laundry room finished

The blue drop leaf table came from her husband’s grandmother and it was important to them that it return to the room.  But, they are keeping it cleared off and flipping it out to fold clothes.  We love the blue color.  The mid-century modern mirror came from her Aunt and helps to conceal the circuit panel.  Plus, I think every room needs a good mirror to reflect light.

julie laundry room with rug

We repeated the blue color with an indoor/outdoor rug from Target.  A vintage fan sits in the window for days when the room gets warm.  You can see the inspiration pottery sitting on the shelf above the washer and dryer.

julie laundry room with sink

Here’s the pop of orange at her sink area.  That beautiful piece of art belonged to her mother-in-law and has all the colors Julie loved.

julie laundry room with button lamp

This little lamp is one of my favorite pieces.  We found it at Target and filled it with Julie’s mother’s vintage button collection.  Julie has memories of looking through the buttons growing up and it’s a sweet reminder of her Mother every time she turns on the lamp.

linen shelf

This is a perfect photo of how we replaced everything back on the shelves tucked away in labeled wire baskets.  All her blankets rolled on the bottom shelf.  Baskets for swim suits for the lady and men of the house. Bed linens in their own baskets according to size.  Extra pillows for guests. Pool towels.  On the top shelf are flannel sheets for the winter, picnic blankets and extra linens for the futon.  Notice how we kept three shelves empty?  You always want to keep any space 2/3 full when you clean it out, a trick I learned from my own organizing guru — Elizabeth Jones from Nest and Transformation.  The little laundry cart came from her friend Kristi and is perfect to house Julie’s ironing supplies and, since it’s on wheels, it can travel around the house when needed.

julie laundry room with shelf decor

One last photo from her wall decor — a mason jar filled with clothespins, small bowls for loose items, a beautiful piece of pottery that repeats the blue and orange Julie loves, a vase of flowers and a sculpture that belonged to her mother-in-law.  The empty space is a treasure coming soon — a newly framed vintage art piece with all the inspiration colors.  Tip:  To determine shelf placement, cut strips of brown wrapping paper the size of the shelf and stick to the wall with painter’s tape before you commit to drilling holes.

I am really, really proud of Julie and how hard she worked on this project. She embraced the need to part with things that weren’t working in the room and re-invent her items to reflect a fresh, new perspective.  I’ve heard positive feedback from the entire household that the laundry room is one of their favorite spaces in the house!  The best part, we rewarded ourselves with cake…

congratulations cake