Christmas Clean Up.

cleaning-up-from-christmas

Sadly, we de-Christmased our house this past weekend.  I always feel like we are putting our decorations back like a week after we’ve put them up.  The time just flies.  The good news is I have a nice organized system (duh) for storing everything so I never feel like it’s going back to some big black abyss for the next 11 months.  Last year I wrote about a few things I use to keep holiday decor at bay, so I won’t go into those details again, but here is a quick picture round up of our Great Christmas Clean Up.

Clockwise from top: ornaments are wrapped in old tissue paper and placed in red ornament box on the left, while all other Christmas decor is stacked in tupperware bin on the right; one layer of ornaments nice and snug in their little square cube homes; all done – ornaments tucked away, mantel/table/window decor cozied up for the year, and lights off the tree and neatly strung for next year; B bringing A over to the naked tree to say “bah bah” – she insisted on wearing her hat and mittens.  Look at that droopy PJ butt.  So cute.

So with that, “bah bah” Holidays!  See you again next year when you sneak up on us, add ten pounds to our JUST “lost the last five from last year” frame, and then leave us with no days off until Memorial day.  Welcome Winter Blahs.

Small Space Scores.

Sibille Furniture Ludovico

I read a really fun article in the New York Times last weekend on living with less in small spaces, in particular how to live in one of the yet-to-be-built 300 square foot “micro-units” recently proposed by Mayor Bloomberg as a [hopefully] cheaper alternative to the mega-pricey standard that has become NY living.  You can read the full article here.  If you choose not to read it (and I don’t blame you, I don’t like clicking around all the time either), I’ll summarize.

The writer of the article decided it would be fun to search for some clever space-saving ways to actually furnish one of these teeny tiny units.  He scored some great finds.  Some are completely unrealistic (a $35,000 mini kitchen on wheels?!), others are utterly weird (a Chewable Toothbrush that doesnt require toothpaste, water, or even a sink?  Blech), but others are actually genius.  My favorites are the Ludovico “desk in a box” by Sibille Furniture (pictured above), the Magnetic Nesting 5-Piece Utensil Kit by Joseph Joseph (clever, stylish, and practical!), and the Hot-Pot BBQ “flower pot grill” by Black + Blum (you heard me right – and it’s such a good idea!).

So if you find yourself snapping up one of these micro units, or are already living in a shoebox of a  pad, there already are some great ideas out there for saving space and multi-tasking furniture and gadgets.  And remember, sometimes you just need to do a little thinking outside the box – er, apartment – to come up with clever ideas of your own.

Pin Up Gal.

(Sort of…)

Like almost every other chick out there, I am into Pinterest these days.  I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed or addicted, but I do enjoy some pinning on my wild and crazy Friday nights spent on the couch.  I know, my social life is just riveting and super hard to keep up with, right?  Anyway, I was pretty excited when I read about the Pinterest Challenge that one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, is sponsoring.  (Side note, I could dedicate entire posts to my addiction to YHL, but that would probably be weird and very unoriginal, so I won’t do it.  But they rock.)  But back to the challenge.  I think Sherry’s quote just about sums it up: “Stop Pinning and Start Doing!”.  So true.  I need to get off my butt (and screen), and actually attempt to do some of the things I’ve pinned.  Those that are participating in the challenge have a deadline of tomorrow to blog about the project they selected from one of their Pin Boards, and/or submit a recap pics to the YHL original post about the challenge.

Unfortunately, I have to be honest here: I’m relatively new to the Pinterest universe so I don’t have a ton to choose from, and I’ve mostly been using it as a place to store ideas I have for making over a few rooms in our house.  So my current pins are a little too big to complete by tomorrow.  No official challenge entry for me this time.  Boo.

But, I was really inspired to at least get started on one of my projects this weekend and figured if I blogged about it, then it would hold me accountable to finishing it…which, as B would tell you, I really need.  I have a serious problem where I go into home projects totally gangbuster, but then fizzle out just before the finishing details.  The strange thing is that this is actually not very like me at all, and for some reason only happens with home projects.  But we can psycho-analyze me and my lack of being able to finish home projects another time. Back to the task at hand.

My goal this past weekend was to start tackling my  “Living Area Update”.  My little A will be more mobile soon and has basically no safe space to creep and crawl in our narrow, steep-staired row home.  So updating our living space to be more baby & family friendly is a serious priority.  Also a priority?  Not spending a lot.  So this weekend we headed over to Ikea to roam the showroom yellow brick road.  Not only did we come out alive, but we were actually pretty successful in our quest.  We ended up with a new loveseat/chaise lounge sofa combo, a new bright rug, a few frames and prints for the walls, and some new white ceramic pots for sprucing up our little “greenhouse” area that sits just below the skylight in our basement living area.  (When I post before & after pics this will all make more sense, I assure you.)  We still need some fun new throw pillows, a narrower media stand to hold our TV and not get on the way, and some floating shelves in two spots.  But it’s starting to look a lot brighter down here and A has a nice carpeted area for playing and to practice sitting up.  And it is certainly a lot more functional and organized.  It’s already a huge improvement and I’m pumped to finish it up and share the results.  So let this post be my teaser and self-motivator.  While I’m missing the deadline for the official YHL Pinterest Challenge, I WILL finish this home project in a reasonable amount of time…

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!