Order

I think order speaks for itself. Order is so crucial to everything we do. Order helps to create a sense of calm and balance, vital to running a smooth and efficient home. Ever have that sinking feeling, like things are getting ahead of, or behind you? Believe me, I do as well, but I have found several ways to keep on top of things. I’d like to share my ideas for you here. Use some as inspiration for your own home.

My tip for keeping the car clean (on the inside!) during those snowy months

When the snow really flies around here, it gets into everything and all that grit and slop that comes with it wreaks havoc with the car mats.  The fabric absorbs all that melting snow and now your feet are soaking in wet floor mats, not to mention that they are impossible to dry.  Of course I realize that there are rubber floor mats out there, but the problem remains – when the snow melts on them it runs off the mats and again into the cloth ones.  I solved this issue by placing a towel on them.  The towel absorbs the wet and can just be taken out and laundered regularly.  This keeps your feet dry and prevents the melted snow and grime from soaking your floor mats.

I want to emphasize however, please be careful not to get them bunched up on the drivers side, you want to avoid them getting stuck under or around the gas or brake pedals!

I always keep a stack of old towels in the trunk of the car.  They can come in handy in emergencies, especially if you have small children spilling drinks or whatever!   When my children were younger, it seemed there was always someone getting car-sick and the inevitable stomach flip-flop.  The towels came in extremely handy and once again they could be laundered or just thrown away.

Displaying Family Treasures

I recently came into owning a collection of heirloom pocket watches that were in my husband’s family.  They all have a bit of history attached and some were quite intricate and beautiful.  However, what to do with them??  They had come out of being stored here and there in drawers and I hated to do the same.  I feel that items that are unique and give you some joy should be out to look at.  I purchased a glass box and have them out, this way the collection stays together and keeps them clean and contained at the same time.  If you have special items that you would like to have out, but are not sure what to do with, here is my advice.  Primarily, items displayed should have the same ‘theme’ to keep them from being put out at random.  This way it is obviously a “collection” and not just clutter.  Containers such as glass boxes or domes help to protect your precious pieces.  Shadow boxes are also terrific for making unique displays for collected items, see my post on Shadow Boxes I had made with baby mementos.

This side table holds pictures with a common theme. All are baby christening and first communion pictures. The mementos are baby cups and first shoes.

Cleaning the Garbage Disposal

Use this tip to keep your garbage disposal fresh and the blades sharpened.  Simply grind up ice cubes while running cold water.  Continue to add ice if they melt too fast.  The grinding of the cubes will keep the blades sharpened and will freshen the inside of the disposal.

Removing Blood Stains

When we first moved into our new home, my son had a nose bleed – in the playroom with the white carpet – what was I thinking?!  Anyway, I didn’t go crazy and allowed him to see another day because I learned of this foolproof method.  Hydrogen Peroxide.  That’s it, hydrogen peroxide.  Do not ‘work’ the stain beforehand.  Simply pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain.  You will immediately see a foaming action.  When the foaming stops, blot the stain with some slight pressure, if on carpet.  It may not all come out right away, so then pour a little more each time blotting until it is gone.  No need to follow with any rug cleaning products as the hydrogen peroxide is as pure as it gets.  This can be used for laundry as well.  Treat the stains in a sink and do not dilute with water until the stain is sufficiently gone, then launder as usual.

Hydrogen peroxide is so inexpensive, I always keep several bottles on hand in the laundry room.

Removing Candle Wax from Linens and Candlesticks

I am certain that everyone has had candle wax drip on their table linens before, and naturally it crept its way down the candlesticks or dripped onto them along the way.  Here is a foolproof method that has always worked for me.  Simply place your crystal, silver, glass, pewter, marble, wood candlesticks or holders into the freezer.  Walk away and go do something else.  When they are sufficiently frozen, remove them and the wax should simply flake off with some nudging with your fingernail or a toothpick.  Any ‘smudge’ that is left can be washed off with soapy hot water or place in the dishwasher if they are dishwasher safe.  It’s that simple.

To remove candle wax from linens, follow these steps.  First scrape or peel off any “thick” deposits.  Then at the ironing board, place 2-3 paper towels under the wax stain on the fabric.  Place 2-3 paper towels on top of it as well (creating a ‘sandwich’ of paper towel, fabric, paper towel).  Then with the iron turned up high, iron the paper towel using a slight back and forth motion.  The wax will melt and be absorbed by the paper towels.  Move the paper towels or replace as needed until all the wax has been melted and absorbed.  Then wash the linens as usual.

No need to fret over candle wax again!

Closet clean out time!

The kids are back in school, life is back to a structured style, and perhaps you are back to a rhythm, or just ‘controlled chaos’ as some of my freinds like to call it.  Summer is the time for crazy, no schedule, haphazard, camp here and camp there days.  Now that school is back in session, it is possible to carve out some time to tackle overdue projects.  One of them is closets!  Everyone has their own ideas of when and how to take on the kids’ closets, but what about your own.  I have a method I have always used when managing what goes into and out of my closet.  Whenever I purchase something new, say a new pair of pants or a dress, I immediately go through and pull one out.  One item in and one item out.  My philosophy of this comes from getting dressed in the morning or an evening out, you are sure to pick the newest item in your closet.  Makes sense, you just bought it, presumably, you love it and it makes you feel great.  This is how I control my closet from taking over the house. However, in the fall and spring I like to take a once over and really reconsider what I’m keeping.  The process works something like this:

Ask yourself, “Have I worn it in the last 12 months?”

Am I keeping it because It was expensive, even though it’s only seen daylight once?

Does it still fit?

Have I worn it so often that people are beginning to think I’ve installed a family dress code?

Then, here is where the answers will dictate what to do with the cast-offs.  If they were expensive items or items that have had little to no wear, consider consigning.  Consigning clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories has become very popular in the last few years.  It’s a great way to earn a little extra for yourself while not feeling bad about buying something that you hardly ever wore.  The process is simple and a phone call to a local shop will fill you in on their policies.  Plus once you receive that first check it’s hard not to be addicted to turning over your wardrobe.  Otherwise, donate and move on.  Be firm with yourself and purge.  It’s hard not to beat that cleaned-out feeling as well as helping a good cause with your donations.  Plus, now that you have that extra room……….

Effective Packing

With the holiday season once again upon us, many of you may be traveling to visit relatives or just to get out of town!  With all the restrictions of the airlines these days we no longer have the luxury of showing up with numerous pieces of luggage for a quick weekend jaunt to…..anywhere! Packing has to be efficient and effective to get as much as we need into a bag that fits airline standards. I feel that packing is an art. My husband is always amazed at how much I can get into a suitcase. Here is a simple strategy that I always follow.

Separate your shoes and place in plastic or cloth bags individually.  Place these around the perimeter of your bag or at the base together the way they come in a shoe box – heel to toe.

The spaces between the shoes are perfect to stuff rolled up underwear, coiled up belts, socks, etc.

Now fill the center with any cosmetics or toiletries – naturally wrapped or in cosmetic cases to avoid leaks or spills.

Atop the shoes and such, I usually place things that can take being squashed such as jeans, fold in half otherwise they become too bulky, t-shirts and sweaters.  Keep the layers even, think of a cake – fill to the edges.  Fold your items wide and flat, this way you have more even layers and your clothes will arrive less wrinkled.  Often people think that if you roll or try to make your folded shirts small you will have more room.  On the contrary, think of the neat stacks of polo shirts you often see in stores.

Finally, and here is my best tip!  Save those dry cleaning bags, because as I once learned from a flight attendant, when you wrap your clothes in plastic they miraculously arrive unwrinkled.  Believe me this works.  Place the item you wish, flat in the dry cleaning bag, then fold as normal.  The bag actually becomes part of the fold.  Place these items as your top layer.  The plastic acts as a cushion and protects your clothes.

Happy Travels!

School Supplies

Sometimes, in our good intentions to re-use school supplies from the previous year, our school supply cabinet can get a little ‘out of control’.  Now, at the beginning of the school season, before we head out to buy our supplies, we go through the supplies and see what will be kept and re-used and what will be donated.   Then it’s off to re-stock.  Of course kids love to get new things – who doesn’t?!  But it is nice to be able to knock some of the items off the list because we already have them.  I usually buy extras such as the glue sticks, pencils – naturally, and folders to keep on hand.  I realize these can be purchased at any time of the year, but when it’s back to school shopping time, these items are so inexpensive it’s silly not to get them to keep on the ready.

Family Dinners

I think many people find that the end of the day can be chaotic.  Just coming home to a pile of mail, a dishwasher to be emptied and children needing help with this or that – never mind throwing in the occasional school “project”, there is alot to juggle.  The thought of a sit down family dinner at a ‘set’ table sometimes tends to take the back seat.  Personally, I have always felt that dinner is the most important meal, not necessarily nutrition-wise, but for family time.  Reconnecting after a day of adventures for everyone.  Here is a method I’ve always used to alleviate some of the ‘end of the day’ stress so as to enjoy dinnertime with family.  I always have the table set before the kids get home, or before I go off to do errands.  Yes, that means that it is sometimes already set early in the afternoon.  It’s just one less thing.  I try to prepare vegetables or anything else that can be done ahead.  Pull out pans I will be using and have them at the ready.  If I know I’ll be boiling pasta, I’ll even have water in the pot ready to just be turned on.   It’s essentially doing as much as you can beforehand.  It’s using your time efficiently. Also, you’ll help to reducing that overwhelming feeling of all the things that need your attention at the end of the day.

Polishing Silver

I love silver.  Teapots, sugar and creamers, trays, decorative frames and items.  When grouped together and gleaming, silver can look very luxurious.  But with silver, comes the tarnish – which some people loathe so much, they rarely take out their silver to be used.  If you’re a “Downton Abbey” fan, I’m sure you’ve wished your tea would be served out of one of those gleaming teapots!  Personally, I don’t mind polishing silver.  If you keep on top of it, there really is very minimal effort.  I usually polish about 2, maybe 3 times a year.  I have used many different types of polishes.  I recently purchased a silver tea service that was so badly tarnished and had residue from past poor polishing.  I experimented with the following method and in less than 15 minutes my entire set was shiny as new!  This is my new go-to method to clean my silver!  So try this and I’m sure you’ll be hooked back on your silver and dragging it out of the closet to put on display.

What You Need – these are small amounts, increase as needed

Materials:
• Aluminum foil
• Glass dish or aluminum baking pan (the disposable types used for roasting turkey, etc.)
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 tablespoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1/2 cup white vinegar
• Tongs to remove silverware from boiling water

Instructions:

1. Bring water to a boil. When combined with the other ingredients the water will activate the baking soda and start the process of transferring the tarnish to the foil.

2. Add the dry ingredients into the pan and slowly pour in the vinegar. You will cause a slight reaction, so pour carefully! It is possible to clean your silver without adding vinegar, but the vinegar will dramatically speed up the process.

3. Pour in the boiling water and then place the silver into your pan, making sure each piece is touching the foil. Try not to let any of the pieces overlap. This should only take about 30 seconds but if you have heavily tarnished pieces you may need to let them soak a few minutes longer.

4. Use tongs to remove the silverware and work off any remaining spots by buffing dry.

I rinsed my silver under warm water and then dried.  If you want to store your silver, wrap it tightly in saran wrap and it will remain tarnish free until you need to use it.