Spring Cleaning is Here!

Image Credit: Stellan Herner, Skarp Agent

It’s true, friends – spring is right around the corner. And you know what spring means? Spring cleaning, which happens to be one of my favorite annual activities. No, I’m not a serial cleaner during the year, but there’s just something so lovely about that season where you’re forced to open your doors and windows, air out the home and unclutter a winter’s worth of excess.

Such a fresh, freeing activity, yes? Tell me, how many of you plan to spring clean this year? Anyone planning any serious renovation projects while you’re at it?

I’d love to hear all about them in the comment section. In the mean time, remember the old adage (that has become my decorating motto in recent months!): A place for everything and everything in its place.

Happy cleaning, friends!

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Common Household Solutions: Where To Hang Kitchen Towels?

After spotting this image of a Mark Olson-designed kitchen on Desire to Inspire (shout out to two of my favorite bloggers, Kim and Jo!), I noticed something I hadn't ever thought of before: kitchen towel storage! Because I'm in the process of renovating my dream home, I've had function on the brain for more weeks than I'd like to admit and am astounded I hadn't yet thought of where to hang my kitchen towels.

When renovating or re-designing a space on any scale, the questions to ponder are endless: where to keep winter boots? Where will I store my jewelry? Where will the bar of soap go in our shower? It's enough to make my brain explode.

Now, when it comes to kitchen tea towels, I'm of the school of thought that you can never have too many. I rarely keep paper towels handy and almost always opt for clean-up of the cloth and linen variety. So, here's a basic, handy list of creative ways to hang that endless supply of tea towels in your kitchen (and no, the oven handle does not count!):

1. In the image above, you'll see a handy towel bar installed on the kitchen island. I love this idea!
2. Why not DIY a peg board for miscellaneous spatulas and towels to hang beautifully in the open?
3. The ENDO magnet clip can stick to your fridge and hold even the heaviest of tea towels.
4. In the image below (courtesy of Design*Sponge), a simple nail in the wall provides the perfect resting place for a tea towel (or apron!). Or, you know. The oven handle.

What do you think, readers? Where do you hang your kitchen towels?

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Why I’ll Never Hire a Housekeeper

Ever since I was a little girl, the epitome of success was whether or not your home had a hired housekeeper. I'm not sure where the conception began, as now, I can think of at least twenty better depictions of success that don't involve a dustpan and broom. And although one of my life rules is to "Never say never!", I have a feeling housekeeping is a service I'll forever forgo.

Here's why:
1. It may be the only exercise I get.
It's true; I'm the laziest gal you'll meet. Aside from my daily yoga, my idea of exercise is a trip to Target. In my car. But hey! I'm getting out! And walking aisles! That's got to burn calories, yes? No. But what does burn calories? Vacuuming. Dusting. Laundry, scrubbing floors and washing dishes.

2. The pre-cleaning phase amazes me.
I have many family members who employ regular housekeepers, and I find that the routine is always the same: they clean so their housekeeper can clean. Yes. It's true. They like to call it "pre-cleaning": the stage where you de-clutter, sort and fold so the housekeeper can get to the real work. To me, this seems insane. Why not take it one step further and throw a sponge on the counter since you're already focused on the task?

3. I love a challenge.
For me, life is about two things: doing what you love, and doing what you love to hate. Cleaning falls into the latter category for me, as there's nothing that I despise more than dusty, allergy-induced Saturday mornings when I'd rather be brunching. Yet I have to admit: I get the craziest rush from cleaning my home. Sure, I'm exhausted after a marathon cleaning session and never want to see a rubber glove again, but the feeling of accomplishment that follows is not unlike climbing Mount Everest for me. It's an adrenaline rush I'd miss if I simply handed over the mundane task to someone undoubtedly more capable.

So, what about you? Do you currently have a housekeeper? Would you ever hire one: why or why not?

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5 Eco-Friendly Ways To Clean a Carpet

It may not be exciting or glamorous, but carpet cleaning is one of those household chores I find immensely satisfying. Ahh, the joy of obliterating dirt, odors, and who-knows-what from beneath your feet and those of your guests, kids, and pets! Regular cleaning is also, of course, essential for maintaining the life and look of the carpet itself.

Yet many commercial cleaning products aren't so healthy, containing toxic chemicals that pollute the air and water and irritate sensitive skin and noses. Fortunately, there are plenty of greener ways to keep a beautiful carpet and home. From DIY stain removal to hiring a professional, here are five solutions for carpet cleaning with the environment and your personal health in mind.

  • Freshen with baking soda – The star of any green cleaning toolkit, baking soda is inexpensive, non-toxic, and actually eliminates odors rather than simply covering them up. To deodorize a carpet, lightly sprinkle with baking soda, let sit 10 minutes, and vacuum. Add a pinch of crushed, dried lavender buds to the baking soda for a pleasant, and totally natural, fragrance.
  • Lift stains with club soda – Believe it or not, this is one of those old-fashioned cleaning solutions that really works. To remove coffee, wine, mud, and other stains, cover the stain with a small amount of carbonated water, let it fizz for a few seconds, and blot with a clean, white cloth (avoid rubbing, which can ruin carpet fibers and set the stain in deeper). Repeat if necessary. Although this works best on fresh stains, it's worth a try on set-in stains. And since it's just water, there's no need to rinse it out like some products.
  • Steam clean with vinegar – Using a wet-cleaning machine? Instead of filling it with a commercial cleaning solution, which may be heavily fragranced and laden with chemicals, try vinegar. A solution of equal parts distilled white vinegar and warm water can lift stains, deodorize, and disinfect. Don't worry about the odor – it will dissipate once the carpet dries.
  • Dry clean with eco-friendly powders – The dry cleaning method consists of sprinkling an absorbent powder over the carpet, working it in by hand or machine, and then vacuuming thoroughly. For the health of the planet as well as yourself, your children, and pets, use a non-toxic, biodegradable cleaner such as FLOR Grab Dry with a hand scrubber or HOST dry powder and machines.
  • Hire a green professional – These days a lot of businesses advertise themselves as "green," but how can you know if the claims are true? Don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure they use cleaners that are non-toxic, low- or no-VOC, and biodegradable. Some cleaning services also use energy-efficient equipment and are mindful of water usage. Check out EarthTalk for good advice including names of national businesses and commonly-used cleaning solutions.

Note: Before using any carpet cleaning solution, be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions and test for colorfastness on a small, inconspicuous area.

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