No Way, Duvet.

Duvet Cover Clips CollageHere is a tip for keeping your comforter snuggly in it’s place inside it’s duvet cover: use comforter clips.  We picked these puppies up on a whim a few years ago at Bed Bath & Beyond and they’ve been great.  Unlike the “Pedi-Paws” motorized nail file that we also picked up on a whim because B insisted we try it on KP.  That was significantly less successful, to say the least.  She barks and bolts from the room if you bring it near her.  But the comforter clips rock.  They cost around $5 and are worth every penny.  A balled-up comforter is no fun, especially in the middle of the night, and especially if the balled-up part ends up not on your side.  Then all you have is a scraggly section of loose duvet cover and no comforter meat.

The clips look like padded binder clips, and fasten to the inside corners of both the duvet cover and the comforter.  To use them, turn your duvet cover inside out and lay your comforter flat on top.  Fasten one clip to each corner (clipping both the comforter and cover together), flip the whole thing right-side out, and close up your duvet cover as you normally would.  The clips will hold the comforter nicely in it’s place, with no rearranging required until the next time you wash your duvet cover.  And that’s it.  Yep, it’s really that easy.

Side note, that’s obviously not our bed pictured above, but we are looking at this similar-looking headboard from Ikea (our bedroom is ridiculously boring and empty), and I’m thinking of getting the bedding above at West Elm on sale right now.  Thoughts?  I can’t decide if it’s too cartoon-y.

Faking It.

How to fake clean your home

Yep.  Guilty.  I totally “fake clean” my house, and I love it.  And actually, it’s really not anything to be ashamed of.  I’m sure many of you do the same, or worse, you don’t even fake clean.  Although my idea of heaven is taking a shower in a sparkling bathroom, putting on crisp clean PJ’s, and getting into bed with newly washed sheets every single night, reality is that there are too many other things in life that require my time and attention that it’s not possible to be constantly cleaning every room in my house.  Even before A came along it was a stretch to find the time to do a good deep cleaning each week.  So I’ve always done it every 4-6 weeks, with weekly “fake cleaning” in between.  It’s really easy; my weekly tasks take about 30-40 minutes in total and could still be pared down from that, if needed.  And the best part is that I don’t waste an entire day cleaning my house, meaning more time to spend with A, B, and KP, more time to go on long runs, more time to catch up on lost sleep, and more time for organizing!  Well, the last one probably isn’t always true, but you get the gist – giving yourself a break now and then means more time for doing other things that are meaningful and enjoyable to you.  And even I will admit that’s way more important in life than having a gleaming white toilet.

Here are the things I (try) to do every weekend.  And I don’t necessarily do them all at once.  For example, when I know I’ll be away for a weekend I’ll take 5-10 minutes a night during the week to do some of them.  And depending on the amount of human and/or animal residents in your house, there may be other things that you choose to do in between deep cleanings.  But these are my regular weeklies:

1. Pick up / straighten up in each room.  I do this in one big sweep through the house, starting in our kitchen.  It sounds like a lot but really it does not take more than a 1-2 minutes each room!  Kitchen: put food away in fridge/pantry, dirty dishes in sink or dishwasher and clean dishes in cupboards.  Living room: re-stack magazines on coffee table into neat piles, put randomly strewn items back in their places or toss into baskets, put important papers from the week together in a safe place and discard/shred what isn’t needed.  Bed & Bath rooms: put clean laundry away and dirty laundry in hamper, put out fresh towels and dirty ones in the hamper as well.  Also put items lying around back where they belong, or toss into a drawer so they don’t create clutter and gather dust (which then requires more cleaning!).

2. Disinfect Kitchen/Bathroom surfaces.  For this I rely on one of my two favorite “Power Tools” (pictured above): Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes.  These double-sided wipes are such a time saver.  One side provides regular disinfecting action and the other is textured with mini scrubbers that attack more serious messes.  They really can be used anywhere in the home and do just as good a job as the old spray-and-scrub routine, in significantly less time.  I use them to clean up the kitchen every night, and I leave a container of them under the bathroom sinks to do quick weekly scrub downs of all surfaces (counter, sink, toilet seat and rim, tub, and even walls/floors if needed).  Side note: I cannot take credit for finding these fancy wipes.  My sister-in-law turned me on to them at her shore house a few summers ago and was equally excited about their awesomeness.  She digs neat things too.  You know you have problems when you both gift cleaning supplies to one another at Christmas…

3. Vacuum heavily used rooms.  This is where Power Tool #2 comes into play: my Miele Olympus Canister Vacuum.  Aside from having great suction, this vacuum has an adjustable height handle that swivels well enough to maneuver the tight spots in our house, it is exceptionally lightweight (which is key because we have 3 flights of narrow, twisty steps), and it stores away nicely in the one and only (very) small utility closet I have in the kitchen.  Vacuuming weekly will help keep dirt, dust and grime from accumulating too much on your floors in between major cleanings, and really does help everything look a whole lot cleaner.

And that’s it.  Three steps to a fake clean home and a real happy you!

All In a Weekend’s Work.

Well what started out as a crazy week ended on a pretty relaxing and productive note.  Unfortunately I caught a cold midweek and ended up giving it to A & B.  They were about 2 days behind me so I endured serious cold crappiness for a few days and then switched to playing Nurse Jane to everyone else.  Welcome to mama-hood I guess.  It’s times like these when I wish KP had opposable thumbs.  The good news, however, is that we are all feeling much better, and the colds forced us to spend the last few days of our vacation relaxing at home in sweatpants.

And A & B having colds wasn’t actually all that bad…being stuck at home yielded the perfect opportunity for me to go on a complete organizing binge!  In between my many trips to Rite Aid and comforting my sick little kid and sick big kid, of course.  Starting Saturday morning I attacked almost every floor of the house.  I couldn’t stop.  While working on flipping to winter clothes I decided our coat rack needed to be reorganized, doing that led me to things needing to be put away in drawers, opening those gave me serious anxiety so I had to straighten them up.  It went on like that until Monday night.  It was epic.

Here is a brief recap of my work over the weekend, in no particular order:

1. Summer Clothes (& Winter Clothes that still don’t fit yet…sniff sniff) – Took most warm weather clothing out of our room and put them into bins and bags accordingly.  Labeled everything for easy access in attic.

2. Winter Clothes – Brought winter clothes that fit out of the attic.  Arranged hanging clothes, sweaters, and boots in our closet and put warm shirts, tights, and cozy socks into my dresser.  Coats, hats & gloves went on coat rack.

3. A’s Room & Closet – Took out the 0-3mo clothes that are too small (such a big girl!), moved in the 3-6mo clothes, organized her closet (as best I could – anyone who’s tried to fold baby clothes will agree there is no point, the clothes are as big as the fold), and re-configured the contents of her changing table.

4. Maternity Clothes – HAPPILY packed these away into storage bins and hanging bags, although I must admit that I will miss that elastic waistband on my jeans at times…

5. Nightstand Drawer, AKA Kipple Graveyard – Did a major overhaul here.  Where old photos, papers, buttons, and headbands once went to die is now an organized oasis for random things that actually belong in a nightstand drawer. Big thanks to MKY for the cut up gift box tip, and to B for getting so many ties for Christmas.  They come in the perfect sized boxes.

6. Cleaning Products Under Kitchen Sink – One of the lesser exciting projects, but still pretty satisfying.  Put the most frequently used cleaning products and supplies into a shallow bucket with a handle for easy transporting around the house, organized the rest by size and frequency of use.  The result is a very appealing under sink area.  If you’re ever over and find yourself under there you’ll enjoy the view.

7. Fridge & Freezer – I like starting the year with a clean fridge and freezer.  Tossed old condiments, sauces, and super old frozen items.  Also wiped down all surfaces inside the fridge.

8. Coat Rack – Another quasi-lame one, but we really needed it.  B still had a 2008 World Series ticket on a lanyard hanging up.  Not a joke.  Took summer jackets and raincoats up to the attic, replaced them with wool, down, and fleece.

9. Diaper Bag – A’s Grandmas will be taking care of her for the next few months, so I took out everything I’d been toting around on maternity leave and got it ready for them to use.

10. Work Bag – Sadly transferred things from the diaper bag back into my work bag.  Goodbye Maternity Leave, it was truly a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope to see you again sometime in the future.

HNY & HBD MKY!

Two shout outs for this New Year’s Day, 2012.  First, I would like to wish my new Keep It Neat community a very Happy and Healthy New Year!  We’ve only known each other a few weeks, but I can tell already we’re going to be best friends.  I’d also like to wish a very Happy Birthday to my good friend MKY (it was yesterday), who was very instrumental in the creation and naming of this blog.  She shared the above picture with me just last week of her junk drawer all nicely organized, using cut up gift boxes from Christmas.  I think it’s a gem.  You can check out some of MKY’s other neatly rustic thoughts and ideas on her blog: rusticpeace.tumblr.com.