Monday Motivation: Holiday Cleaning and My Favorite Cleaning Products

It’s Monday and you know what that means…my day to launch something to keep you motivated for the week.  Today it’s housekeeping.  Pretty timely since your house was likely filled with family, friends and like me a college student home for the holiday.  They’ve all left you with full stomachs, great memories and a dirty house.  Well today is your lucky day!

If you don’t already know about Clean Mama’s website to help you “keep a clean house while still enjoying your family and life with simple cleaning routines that’s perfect for busy homes” you are going to love her free downloadable December calendar.

Visit her site for your own printable and tons of resources for all her cleaning supplies, books, recipes, oils, labels and tips she employs to keep her home clean and enjoyable.  I love a clean house, who doesn’t, but sometimes it is so overwhelming to think “ugh, I’ve got to clean the house today!”  Then you start with one project, see a stack of other stuff you go through, then you get distracted, go to change the litter box, wait wasn’t there something cute on Instagram I need to look at, go to the kitchen for a drink and see dishes in the sink, unload the dishwasher, notice the microwave is dirty, start to clean it, then go back to project #1, and start the whole process over….

“What if I told you that you could spend just minutes a day on cleaning and homekeeping and you’d have a clean home all week long? Those mundane tasks like laundry and loading the dishwasher will become part of your repertoire and daily routine and you’ll become one of those people that welcome visitors and guests. Keeping a house clean and tidy comes naturally for me and I love the practice of homekeeping.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, forget everything you thought you knew about keeping a clean house. Realize that it’s perfectly normal to loathe or resent cleaning. This is because you’ve let it control your life and you’ve set it on a reactive mode instead of proactive and automatic. Let’s change that!”

Here’s her calendar for December just in time for you to apply on Saturday.

Until Saturday, use this week to put stuff away from your holiday gatherings. Just do your simple routines, but wait to tackle your cleaning until Saturday and see if following her suggested routine helps you.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite cleaning products.  I love Mrs. Meyers  products and this time of the year is perfect for the holiday scented line — like the orange clove, Iowa Pine and Peppermint multi-surface cleaner.  They also have a Peppermint candle that I think would be perfect as a hostess gift.

And during the holidays I love to have full bottles of liquid handsoap in the powder room.  How about the Mrs. Meyers Pine scent?  Visit Mrs. Meyer’s through 11/26 for 10% off your total purchase and free shipping!

And my favorite laundry detergent that I have been using for over a year — Molly’s Suds Original for Sensitive Skin. It’s scented with peppermint oil and is super concentrated.  I only use one tablespoon scoop that comes with the soap.  It’s formulated for HE washing machines and ever since I started using it my front loading washer no longer has a foul smell.  Plus, the clothes smell clean.  I have it on auto delivery with Amazon to save money and I never run out.

I hope this post leaves you excited about starting a cleaning routine.  Have a fab week ahead!

Christmas Ornament Storage

I had such a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.  I enjoyed time with my besties in Austin, ate yummy meals with family, and had a sleepover with my sweet great niece.  She loves to spend time with her “Aunt Mizmee and Uncle Doe!”  I especially relished the bedtime snuggles and reading the Christmas Story to her.

And with Thanksgiving being a tiny bit earlier, it gives us a whole extra week to decorate and enjoy all the Christmas decorations.  Mr. Bee put lights up outside and I decorated four Christmas trees!  I know that sounds exhausting.  Want to know my trick? A few years ago, my friend and personal organizer Elizabeth Jones from Nest & Transformation, worked with me to organize all my Christmas decor so I know exactly where everything is.  I have an area set aside in my attic with all my storage bins and it has helped me to enjoy the holidays!

That’s my tip for this week:  Take time to organize, sort and purge any decorations or ornaments you no longer use.

I stocked up on ornament storage boxes like these from The Container Store.  Each box is $16.95, holds 75 ornaments and comes with cardboard inserts to keep each ornament safe and snug.

I organized and labeled ornaments by tree, so if I just want to decorate the family room tree one evening, I know which box to pull off the shelf.

She helped me to go through each of my ornaments and throw out broken ones and repair a few with glue.  I only kept the ones that were meaningful to me.  If they didn’t bring me joy then I placed them into the donate bin for someone else to treasure.

We created bins for each zone in the house like kitchen, powder room, mantel, entry way, Christmas pillows, books, party supplies, baking tins, etc…  This helps again to simplify the process so it’s not so overwhelming if I just want to decorate a little at a time.  If I am doing some baking, I know exactly which bin stores all my baking tins for gift-giving.

Now is the time to do this process so next year your decorating will be a breeze!  It may take a little more effort this year, but I promise it will pay off when you’re getting it all ready for 2018.


Easy Stovetop Potpourri

Rachel Schultz

This weekend while you are gathering up all your Thanksgiving recipes — see Mrs. Twist’s Thanksgiving Guide here, make this easy three-ingredient stovetop simmering potpourri to fill your home with the smell of clean.

Slice one lemon, add three rosemary sprigs, one teaspoon of vanilla and enough water to cover.  I let it sit on the stove at a low simmer.*  It filled the house with the smell of the soaps you purchase at Williams- Sonoma.  I had all the ingredients on-hand, especially the rosemary from the bush in the garden.

And here’s a time-saver from PureWow for the holidays regarding cleaning — fake a clean home!  “A deep clean would be lovely, but you’ve got 45 minutes, woman. The most important thing you can do: Clear every counter and tabletop of clutter and hide the mess away, you can deal with that stack of mail in the hamper later.  Then give each surface a spritz of all-purpose cleaner for a little extra shine. No one will be scrutinizing the corners of your baseboards anyway.”  Try a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Apple Cider multi-purpose spray cleaner for your countertops — people will be so obsessed over how yummy your house smells they won’t even notice the cobwebs!

That’s a tip I need to tattoo on my arm — why do we clean before company comes when the mess is after they leave?  I am raising my hand guilty on all counts on this because I get so overwhelmed with cleaning before a party that it makes me crazy.

*Be sure to add water, as needed, and never leave it unattended.  Turn the stove off when you leave the house or go to bed.

My Easy Three: In the Kitchen

My Easy Three are achievable tasks you can apply to keep you and your home organized.  For September I’ve got three easy things to do in the kitchen.

First — go through your plastic storage containers.  Every few months or so, I sit down on the floor in my kitchen in front of the cabinet that stores all my plastic and glass food storage containers.  I take each base and try to find its lid.  Does the lid snap on easy, does it even fit?  Is the container stained, warped? Toss or recycle the rejects.I got a set of Pyrex glass containers from Costso.  They are easy to clean and don’t melt or warp in the microwave or dishwasher.  I keep the lids snapped on and stack them in the cabinet.  Having this nice set means I only need a few plastic or disposable ones for food I might want to give away.  For those containers, I stack them inside each other and I use a divider to stand up the lids.  It keeps everything neat and organized.

Second — Do the same process from your travel cups and mugs. Do they work, are they cracked, stained, do they have matching tight fitting lids? Do you even like them?  Recycle all the ones you don’t have an attachment to. Do you really need 20 travel cups?  I have 3 travel mugs and about 8 tumblers with lids like this.  I like to drink from something with style not a faded, old Quicktrip cup.  I stack the cups and keep the lids in a long, skinny drawer divider and the straws stored upright in a cup.

Third, — Kitchen towels and dishcloths.  Go through each one. Is it faded, torn, stained?  Some can be recycled to the cleaning or car wash container in the garage.  Invest in a new matching pretty set for the fall.  I roll my towels into cylinders and keep about 20 in a drawer.  This method keeps the drawer from being over stuffed with towels.  If I bring a new towel into the drawer, I clean out the drawer again.  Here’s a pretty set for the holidays from Williams Sonoma.

What’s a constant trouble area in your home you’d like help with?  Leave a comment and I’ll try to help.  For more ideas from My Easy Three check out the Homekeeping and Organization tab under HomeStyle.

Keeping it Clean: Free Printable from Clean Mama

Since 2009, Clean Mama has been teaching people how to keep their spaces clean and organized with ease and style.  Her site is full of all sorts of resources — printables, schedules, products, and all the tips, tools and tricks to helping you achieve your homekeeping goals.  I follow her on Instagram and recently joined the 7-Day Simply Clean Start Challenge which helps you establish a cleaning routine. #cleaningismyjam

Her trick:  Focus on just one task a day Monday through Saturday.  By the end of the week, you’ve tackled your entire house.  For example, Mondays is bathrooms only -whether you have one or five, that’s all you do is clean the bathroom.  Tuesday is dusting (which is my LEAST favorite chore. B-O-R-I-N-G), and so on.  You can check it all out on her site and in her book Simply Clean which I plan to purchase with my $50 Amazon gift card I won from the gym for achieving an exercise goal!  Winning!

In the meantime, click here for Becky’s free August printable. During the summer Miss Phoebe has been earning her allowance doing housekeeping chores. Now, she can just use this list to see what needs to be done! Again with the winning!

Note:  I was not compensated for this post.  I’m just a fan of clean and Clean Mama.

How to Roast Bell Peppers — The Easy Way

I really love bell peppers — red, orange and yellow being my favorite, green not so much.  Did you know that in addition to their their varied colors and taste, each differently hued bell pepper has a unique array of nutritional benefits?  Green peppers feature an abundance of chlorophyll. Yellow peppers have more of the lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids. Orange peppers have more alpha-, beta-, and gamma-carotene. Red peppers have more lycopene and astaxanthin, two other important carotenoids.  So, regardless of the color, bell peppers are a very healthy vegetable to include in your diet.  My favorite way to eat them fresh is with hummus or roasted on pizza.

Over the weekend, I did a massive purge of my refrigerator contents.  I took every shelf out so there was absolutely nothing in my refrigerator.  I made a pail of vinegar and hot water with a dash of liquid dish soap and went to town.  I grossed myself out with the gunk in my fridge.  But, it’s all sparkly clean and I found myself opening the door every so often just to peak at it’s beauty.

Revelation — From this exercise, I learned that I don’t need “jars” of pickles, olives, peppers, or bags of produce anymore.  They just go to waste.  Lately, I have just been visiting the salad bar at Whole Foods and Albertson’s and buying what I need.  If I am making a pizza — I buy 10 olives.  If I need spinach, I buy a handful. If I need peppers, I am going to roast my own.

You can roast them over a flame on your stove or grill, but I like the easy method the Barefoot Contessa uses.  Watch her video here.

Ina’s Roasted Red Peppers

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil over the peppers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

And the best part, I can put them in these French glass terrines from the Container Store!  Elevate your food by storing it in a beautiful container is my motto!

I use these in my pantry, too, which you can see featured on the Container Store website showing how I use glass jars and the multi-purpose bin in my pantry.  #containyourself.

What’s one thing you can cut back on buying that can help you save money and refrigerator space?  Please share!

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

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

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. 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.