How to Start the Perfect Bedtime Ritual

You know the saying “laughter is the best medicine”? Sleep might be a close second, if not a tie for first.

After a good night’s sleep I feel like a new person. I’m more alert, creative, and able to take on challenges. It’s such a magical thing, yet I’ve read that Americans are more sleep deprived than ever. Our tired bodies and minds need to rest – and heal.

There’s no time like the present (which also happens to be National Sleep Awareness Week) to look at our sleep habits.

Improving our sleep starts with our bedtime ritual.

I created a little acronym to help us…START >>

{S} Soften the landing

This lovely bedding is from Crane & Canopy. #affiliate

First and foremost, your bed should be the center of attention. Make it as cozy and welcoming as possible so when you enter your bedroom, all you want to do is kick off your shoes and sink down in its soft embrace.

Here are a few ways to make your bed more special:

  • Splurge on your bedding. We {should be} spending at least 8 hours a day here, so it’s worth the investment. Pick out the most beautiful pattern with the softest thread and treat yo’ self.
  • Layer on the softest blankets and pillows so it’s like a cozy nest every time you land.
  • Make the bed every morning so at night it feels like you’re entering a new space.
  • Freshen up your sheets by washing them at least every two weeks. Once a week is ideal.

{T} Take care of your body

Right before bed is the perfect time to check in with yourself. You’re already brushing your teeth and washing your face. What else needs attention? If your muscles are tight, maybe do some gentle stretches. Here are some yoga poses that are wonderful before bed.

If your mind won’t settle, try relaxing in a hot bath with epsom salts. The magnesium in the salts will help lull you to sleep – among plenty of other great benefits. Pair that with a cup of almond milk or camomile tea, and you’ll sleep like a champ.

{A} Adjust the air

The best way to appreciate a warm, cozy bed is to set a cool temperature. In fact, the suggested bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees to get the best sleep.

Another thing I like to do is make my room smell nice. (You know me and my thing with smells.) I spritz my pillows with fresh lavender water right before bed. The fragrance is so relaxing, and the recipe is super easy. >

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 1/4 cup Vodka
  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • Mix all of the ingredients together. Pour into a spray bottle (or two). Store in the refrigerator.

{R} Remove distractions

Your room should be a quiet, calm space that you can retreat to when needed. Clear off your night stand, add fresh flowers to make it pretty, and (…here’s the tough one) put your phone away at least an hour before bed.

This is non-negotiable, though, if you want a more restful night. Research shows spending time with smartphones late at night is contributing to a national epidemic of undersleep. Yikes.

Ideally, we’d leave them in the next room so we’re not tempted to answer texts, emails or Facebook notifications. Since I use my phone as an alarm, I keep it next to the bed – but with the ringer off. It’s still hard to ignore sometimes. #workinprogress

{T} Thank the day

Taking a moment to feel grateful at the end of the day has been a game changer for me. Instead of focusing on what went wrong and playing conversations over and over in my mind like a bad song on replay, I try to shift my focus to what went right.

What did I love about my day? Even if it was a crapper, what redeeming qualities can I dig up? Did I get to hug my kids? Did my dinner taste delicious? Does my bed feel good?

Making a commitment to writing these things down in a journal or on a piece of paper that goes in a gratitude jar can literally change our lives for the better.

That’s a START, anyway. I’d love to know what other bedtime rituals you have.

Until next time, I’m wishing you sweet dreams.

Kate

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High Fives on High Five Day

I’m smiling as I write this because of the fact that there’s such a thing as National High Five Day. I mean, what a day maker. And this year it looks like there’s a great cause attached to it.

The best way to celebrate this cool holiday is to throw some high fives in the air like you just don’t care. You can bet I’ll be doing this all day. And I’ll be using this for some inspiration.

In addition to celebrating friends and strangers, what about the things we depend on every day, but take for granted?

I thought it would be fun to share a few things around my house that make my life soooo much easier. And for that, I’m high-fiving all of them – personally. >

{ONE} The Keurig

Dear Keurig, I love your perfectly measured one-cup servings of any hot drink of my choice. You’re there for me every morning – without fail. Unless I forget to descale you, like that one time last month when you stopped working. That was on me, though.

I thank you for your consistency, for your prompt service, for keeping me from wasting coffee at the bottom of a large pot, and for pouring me a cup of tea immediately after serving Brandon his dark roast. You’re truly magical, and I high five you.

{TWO} Baking Soda

To the large yellow boxes of baking soda in my pantry, freezer, bathroom and laundry room, I know I’ve never told you this before, but you are my favorite multi-tasking genius. You keep me from having to stock up on a bunch of cleaning supplies that are full of chemicals.

I can pour you down the drain, around the shower, over nasty spills, and into smelly laundry bins – and you always do your job. I feel like your abilities are endless, and I’m still getting to know all that you can do. High five for being a true champion.

{THREE} Mini Purse Inside My Purse

Hello, little purse that carries all of my lady essentials and over-the-counter medicines that I don’t want the general public to see every time I open my large purse. I appreciate your demure nature…quietly and eternally riding shotgun next to my wallet.

You’re my go-to source for any of life’s unexpected situations: both medical and beauty related. There have been many times when I don’t know what I would have done without you. Hive five for being my best kept secret.

{FOUR} Rubber Bands

My dearest stretchy, round wonder, you’re on this list for the many practical ways you come to the rescue. Like the time my pants were too tight and I had to extend my waistline. Haha!

I even wrote a post about you several months ago. And even since then, I have found more creative ways to put you to work. Double high fives to you.

{FIVE} Gratitude Journal

Finally, I’d like to thank my gratitude journal.

While your pages are filled with lists of things I’m grateful for, I don’t know if you’re actually mentioned. I do see the irony. So today, I high five you for many reasons. For keeping me focused on the blessings in my life – even on the crappiest days. For keeping me accountable…when I see you on my nightstand, I’m reminded to stop and jot something down. And for helping me archive memories that I will one day look back on and smile, yet again.

Now for you, my friend and reader! I’m super excited you’re here and am sending you virtual high fives. I also wish you a beautiful day.

Blessings,

-Kate

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A Few Tips for Organizing Taxes

While it’s not the most glamorous topic, we’re smack dab in the midst of tax season. In fact, they’re due on Monday. So I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips on how to get organized and stay streamlined moving forward. >

{ONE} Create a special space

This is my closet-turned-home-office space. You may remember the makeover post from awhile back? I’ve loved having this area and use those file folders on the left for collecting all kinds of paperwork – like receipts for my taxes.

Nothing is more stressful than getting to tax season and not knowing where all of those important documents and receipts are located. For many people, they’re in a pile with the bills or they’re “filed” in a teetering stack of papers on your desk.

First and foremost, it helps to create a space for yourself – even if it’s a file folder on your desk – to collect and store important tax documents. Ideally you’d use this space throughout the year. If you itemize your taxes and/or have a freelance business or other small business, you’ve probably already started gathering paperwork for next year’s taxes. So now’s the time to get ahead of the game.

{TWO} Make it pretty

You might need to motivate yourself to actually use the space you’ve set aside with pretty files. Here are some beautiful floral folders that are pretty enough to frame for your walls. <3

{THREE} Label appropriately

You can save yourself loads of time come tax season just by strategically labeling your files according to what you can deduct from your taxes, such as medical bills, education, donations, etc. It’s one of those simple, but significant difference makers.

If you create a folder for each category that applies to your home or personal business, it’s so much easier to tally everything up at the end of the year. And you can use these pretty file tabbies above compliments of Sissyprint!

Here’s a list of the most common deductions to guide you along.

{FOUR} Go digital

One of the best ways to declutter your desk (without just tossing everything) is to convert receipts, quarterly reports, statements and any other paperwork to digital files. If you’re given the option to receive a digital copy of these items, go for it. And be smart about how you store and backup these files on a hard drive.

If you’re given hard copies of anything, consider using a mobile app, such as Shoeboxed. It’s a receipt tracking and organization tool that scans receipts with your phone’s camera and instantly archives and extracts details such as vendor, amount paid and date. The cool thing is that it’s IRS-accepted, which eliminates bookkeeping headaches down the road. I’m sure there are others, but this is one I’m most familiar with.

{FIVE} Toss it out

Once your taxes are filed and you’re (possibly) waiting for a little cash return, the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to keep all of that paperwork or find a place to store your digital documents. It’s perfectly acceptable to go through and toss certain files.

Here to guide you is this super helpful article I found. It gives us a checklist of what tax records you should keep and what you can go ahead and shred. >

Good luck pulling your paperwork together. I hope it’s a smooth and easy process. See you on Friday with some fun discoveries of the week.

Blessings,

Kate

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Friday Wrap: Adulting Like a Champ

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you really feel like an adult – even though you’ve officially been an adult for many, many years? That was me…this week.

I was in “get ‘er done” mode, and checked tons of things off my to-do list. Many of those things were very grown up, too, like prepping for taxes and getting an energy audit on the house.

Before you start yawning, though, check out some of the highlights from the week. Adulting can be way more interesting than expected.

{ONE} Updated Front Door Decor

This was by far the most fun project on my list, so we’ll start here. Easing into things.

I decided it was time to take down the “Happy New Year” message on my front door and replace it with something else seasonal – like a heart for Valentine’s Day!

I actually made this, y’all!! 

My inspiration came from this wreath. But when I looked for a heart-shaped form, I couldn’t find one…anywhere. I ventured into the “Valentine” aisle of Hob Lob, which is 40% off right now, and I found this wooden plaque. #bingo

First, I made bunches of burlap rosettes using this tutorial >>

I skipped step #8 since I was gluing these directly onto a flat surface.

And this is a closeup of what mine looked like.

Once I had all of my burlap blooms ready, I hot glued them onto the wooden sign. I had to overlap a few of them so you couldn’t see the wooden sign underneath.

Tip: Wear an old pair of gardening gloves when using your hot glue gun so you don’t burn the ever-living prints right off of your fingers. Speaking from experience.

The final step was adding a pretty pink ribbon to the top of the heart and calling it good & pretty!! (Then peeling the glue from your throbbing fingers if you forgot the gloves.)

{TWO} Completed an Energy Audit

Now this is where we get to the real adulting.

We have a few drafty rooms in our house, and our electric bills seem pretty high, so I’ve always been interested in having our energy company come out and do an audit.

They’re totally free, but they do take several hours. And you need to be there to see all of the things that need fixed…or in our case, caulked!!!

If your window ledges have cracks like this, you can apply caulk so you’re not leaking precious hot (or cold) air out of your home.

The whole process was super educational. For instance, I learned that the five recessed lights in our kitchen, which have incandescent bulbs, cost us $6/month in energy alone. LED lights only need 1/4 of that amount. And that was just one example. I literally have two pages of notes!!

When the energy people left, they gave me a free kit that included three tubes of caulking (thank you very much), a package of weather stripping, LED lightbulbs, and all kinds of other odds and ends.

This is just a small sample of the energy-saving stuff they gave me…for FREE!

I highly recommend going through one of these. It’s definitely worth the time.

{THREE} Prepped for Taxes

Taxes stink. There’s no way around them, though. So the best we can do is try to be organized, right?

I keep folders in our home office (remember that sweet little nook?) where I collect “all things tax related” throughout the year.

Sometimes having pretty folders helps me stay more organized.

We itemize our taxes, so our receipts from donations, business expenses, medical expenses, etc. all go into files as we collect them.

When it comes time (like right now) for year end statements, W2s and other important tax stuff that comes in the mail, I can simply add them to our files. And then we’re ready to rock our meeting with the accountant in no time at all.

Tip: H&R Block does our taxes, and they provide a handy envelope that includes a checklist on the outside. If you don’t already have something similar, you can download a checklist here.

{FOUR} Organized the Coat Closet

I have been so frustrated by our coat closet lately. I mean, look at it. >>

Coats were falling off their hangers and hats, gloves, and scarves were spilling out of bins on the overhead shelf.

Side note, I gave myself a half-point of credit for having bins in the first place. But we obviously didn’t use them very well.

I spent a quick 20 minutes organizing. And I promise it was only this long, because that’s all of the time I had between unpacking groceries and running to get the kids from school.

Here’s what went down. >>

  1. Removed all of the coats we never wear and bagged them for donations.
  2. Hung all of the remaining coats the same direction and picked out all of the white hangers. That instantly created a uniform and clean look!
  3. Dumped all of the hats, gloves, scarves and other misc. items on the floor and matched/sorted.
  4. Found a shoe caddy and stashed all of the newly sorted items inside.
  5. Got rid of the mismatched bins (overhead) and narrowed them down to three clear bins.
  6. Lastly, I put some of the odds and ends, like rain ponchos and detachable hoods, inside the upper bins.

Look at the instant transformation just with the same color hangers – and coats hanging the same direction.

A hanging shoe caddy is perfect for storing small items like gloves and mittens!

I put things we don’t use very often, like rain ponchos, in the matching overhead bins.

Now hopefully I won’t feel so embarrassed when guests need a place to hang their coats. Welcome to my closet nirvana, everyone!

{FIVE} Joined a Book Group

This is a legit book group, too, that’s organized through a church in our area. (So I probably won’t be making 3-gallons of sangria for this gathering) Lol!

This is a 12-week course about Calming My Anxious Heart. And heaven knows I could use some of that. Just going around the circle at our fist meeting and having to share about ourselves made me feel off-the-charts anxious. (Am I the only weirdo who feels that way?!)

Our first gathering was on Tuesday, and so far so goodish. I’ve been challenged to memorize scripture and uncover the secrets to contentment. All things I’ve never done before. But I’m sticking with my plan to stay “open” this year.

And, I’ve decided to keep this verse near over the next 12 weeks…

After such a productive, grown up week, I can’t wait for a weekend full of movies, board games, girl talk, family snuggles and a few glasses of wine with my sweet B.

I hope you have a playful weekend planned, too!

XoXoXo,

Kate

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Create a Welcoming Entryway

Happy Friday and almost-Thanksgiving! With the holidays quickly closing in, I’ve been thinking about ways to spruce up the house.

I’m starting with the entryway, because, well, that’s the start to each person’s visit. That’s where I welcome my sweet friends and family. Plus, it sets the tone for the rest of the house. If it’s filled with shoes, backpacks, stacks of paper and random toys, you can pretty much guarantee the rest of our house looks the same.

I want people to feel relaxed and welcome when they come over, so here’s a plan we can all try.

Five steps to creating a warm and welcoming entryway.

{ONE} Declutter

The easiest way to start is to take a quick look and spot anything that doesn’t belong. Take a large basket and put all of the misplaced items inside. Then carry them to their homes. Shoes go in the closet. Backpacks go in the bedroom or a mudroom on a hook. Toys go in their bin. You get the picture. This is a great job for the kids, btw.

{TWO} Plan the space

Next, decide how you want to use the space. Do you need a spot for umbrellas? Are you short on storage and need to add a place to hang coats? Is your entryway fairly large, so you need to divide the space with a table? Make a checklist, which makes the next step much easier.

{THREE} Furnish

Look for pieces of furniture that best fit the space. I’ve seen some super creative ideas. (In fact, I’ve posted some photos down below.) If you don’t have room for a table, would a small bench work? If there’s wall space for a mirror or large piece of art, this would be the perfect spot to show it off.

{FOUR} Personalize

Add accessories that only you could add, like photos of the family or an antique typewriter from your grandmother. It not only makes the space feel more like you, but also helps create some conversation.

{FIVE} Check your senses

Now that everything is in place, be sure to add fresh flowers and a fragrant candle or diffuser to engage the senses. You can also add accessories that add pretty colors to the overall look of your space. Color can be a powerful thing.

Some of my favorite entryways I’ve seen so far >>

That seafoam door is gorgeous. And it’s perfectly paired with a colorful rug and neutral walls and accents. I could swoon.

This is so clean and simple. You could easily swap out the pillows for each season, too.

If you need an entryway that also serves as a closet, this is a pretty way to keep things organized. The hooks are lovely, and the little shelf under the bench for shoes is brilliant.

Not much room for a table? No problem. Build a custom shelf on a wall that serves as a table. Isn’t this beautiful?

Not every entryway needs a table. I like this arrangement of stacked seagrass suitcases resting under a large (and meaningful) poster. PS. I also really like that light fixture.

Here’s another solution to not much room for a table…a shelf made out of pretty wooden corbels and a long piece of rustic wood.

Not many houses have a distinct room as an entryway. This is so pretty, and I love the detail work on the table. It reminds me of an antique sewing table for some reason.

This style is a bit more homey. Benches make a great substitute for tables. You can load them with pillows and other soft items like blankets to add  texture and color. I also like how they personalized the space with the “Est. 2010” artwork. I’m assuming that’s when they were married? Cute.

This is styled so well. I love how it’s eclectic with the plaid baskets, wooden sign and metal table, yet it’s all pulled together through the symmetry of the lamps, flowers and even pumpkins. It just works.

Oooh, doesn’t this just scream “Fixer Upper”? The natural elements of the wreath and wooden accents are wonderful. If I walked into this entryway, I’d expect the rest of the house to be a natural retreat.

I hope you’ve had fun exploring some ideas with me. Enjoy your weekend and I can’t wait to connect back next week! In the meantime, check out all of the amazing bloggers through these link up parties.

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XoXo,

Kate

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Halloween 2016!

Since Halloween is on a Monday this year, I hope you’re having a weekend full of fun so you can enjoy the mystery and magic of the holiday.

Here’s what we’ll be up to in the Andersen house…

OOTD

My girls and their friends will be decked out like emojis. They saw this idea pic on Pinterest, so we made our own.

We took a plain yellow tee from Hobby Lobby and used fabric glue to add the details of the emoji face. We used felt, since it was easy to cut and glue.

Tip: Use a piece of chalk to draw the details of your face on the felt before cutting. It’s easier (and less permanent) than pencil or pen!

This was our Pinspiration. We plan to add black leggings and tutus. We’ll also add big yellow bows to their hair. Cute and super easy!!

I don’t usually get super dressed up, unless we’re going to a themed party. But I do like to wear a little something festive when we take the kids out to trick-or-treat. So I found a cool spider at Walmart, and I plan to turn it into a headband with some hot glue and a bow made out of black tulle. Here’s some inspiration I found online.

spider-headband

I’ll pair this with a poncho, which is another easy DIY project. I found a black poncho at Walmart. (They have tons of them in stock right now!) And I’ll add strips of glittery tape to make “webs.” My goals is to have it look similar to one I saw on Grandin Road. Wish me luck!

Playful food

We plan to head over to a friend’s house for dinner tomorrow, and I’m bringing my favorite pumpkin-shaped cheese ball served with purple tortilla chips.

I’m also going to whip up some cinnamon bats (which take less than 15 min…promise they’re that easy) and I’ll serve it with this fruit salsa.

{recipe}

{Cinnamon bat recipe} > PS. I’ve also made these bats brushed with olive oil and sea salt (instead of the cinnamon sugar). Then I served it with something more savory – like hummus or salsa.

Check the list

Y’all know how much I love lists. Well, I made a Halloween checklist a year or so ago – and I still like to glance at it to make sure I have everything covered. Feel free to check it out.

I also have an easy Halloween menu if you’re having company over or want to serve a fun meal for the fam.

No matter what, I hope you have a goulishly good time, my friends.

XoXo,

Kate

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3 Tips for a More Enjoyable Laundry Room

Depending on how you feel about the chore of cleaning clothes, the laundry room might not be your most cherished spot in the house. I totally get it. I’d much rather spend my time in a craft room than a chore room. But laundry must get done, as the funny quote above explains.

And laundry rooms are those places in our homes that are never quite big enough or have enough storage. In fact, for many of us it’s more of a closet than an actual room. So how do we learn to love this little spot?!

Here are three things we can do right now.

{ONE} Keep it simple

{via}

{via} This is pretty much my dream laundry room. I love the simplicity, soft colors, open space and no sign of dirty clothes. Lol

How do we get remotely close to this beautiful image? Start by taking a picture of your own room. Whether that’s a mental picture or an actual “before” picture, that’s your call. But take a snapshot as-is. Find all of the things that don’t belong.

Are there piles of shoes, stacks of towels, lingering pieces of mail or anything else that makes the space feel cluttered? If so, you can actually feel pretty good, because this is an easy fix.

Help the shoes find their closets, the towels find the bathroom, and the mail find your desk. Have a place for everything, and put everything in it’s place. I’m a big fan of that philosophy. It might not always look perfect, but at least there’s a plan.

Once you’ve cleaned out all of the non-essentials, you’re already on your way to a much happier space!

{TWO} Make it productive

Understanding that this room isn’t always the most ideal (too small, not enough storage, also the dog’s room and mud room)…it’s important to make it as productive as possible. Assign every square inch to a specific task.

For example, can the space between your washer and dryer be used for storage? Can the top of the dog crate also serve as shelving?

This is where some Pinspiration can come in handy. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make your laundry space more productive.

Use all of your horizontal surfaces. In this picture, the top of the washer/dryer is used for folding and sorting. They also added a shelf between the cabinets to create room for pretty storage baskets. Even the top of the sink offers a spot to store detergent.

Add standing shelves. If you don’t have built-ins or room on the walls for shelves, think about adding bookshelves with baskets to gain some extra storage.

Play hide-and-seek. Here’s another great way to think about storage. Look for hidden places, like the space between your washer/dryer. These are great spots to stash dirty clothes or even laundry supplies.

While we’re on the topic of hiding spots…

I thought this was a smart way to handle an ironing board. It’s attached to the bottom of a drawer so it slides in and out of a cabinet. That way it doesn’t have to be out in the open when not in use. I also like the boards that fold down from the wall.

Double down on your space. If you have to share your laundry room with your pet or even your craft supplies, here are some lovely ways to handle the mission.

In this house, the dog bed is perfectly color coordinated with the walls, so it fits right in. The cabinets can hold all of the pet supplies, too!

Here’s a cool basement that’s one part laundry room, one part craft room. I love the open shelves that allow for baskets and any other odd-shaped supplies that need to be stashed. Keeping the walls white makes the room feel cleaner. Don’t you think?

{THREE} Let it be personal

Finally, I think it’s helpful to add a touch of your personality to the room. If you can’t make yourself fall in love with the act of cleaning clothes, at least you can make it a place you enjoy looking at.

In the picture above, I love how they added a pretty curtain to cover the sink and a stylish rug to warm up the room. There’s also a personal touch hanging on the wall.

How do you create a personal space for yourself?

Think of three things you love the most. Your kids? Your playful pup? The beach? Yoga? A bucket-list item, like spending a summer in Paris? Now find a photo or object that reminds you of these things, and put it in this space.

No room on the walls? Place a picture frame on the shelf next to your detergent. So you give yourself a reason to smile each time you reach for the soap.

Other ideas to make your room a little happier:

  • Paint the room your favorite color
  • Add a rug to make it feel more cozy
  • Display your detergent in a pretty jar – instead of its store-bought boxes
  • Place a jar of fresh flowers next to the sink
  • Light a candle in your favorite seasonal scent
  • Buy nice hangers so you’re more likely to use them
  • Place a dry erase board on the wall for inspirational quotes or love notes from the kids

I hope that was helpful and that you have a lovely day!!

-Kate

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How to Have an Easy-Clean Kitchen

This quote made me laugh. Mostly because it’s spot-on with how I feel about cleaning. I don’t mind organizing stuff, but cleaning is another story. I can procrastinate like a pro.

There are two times a year when I actually don’t mind cleaning: spring and early fall. And fall is probably ranked higher. Maybe it’s my way of nesting before the cold air arrives and our family huddles inside for the next few months?

Anyway, as I was feeling the (mostly unfamiliar) need to pull out my cute rubber gloves and start scrubbing, I decided to jot down a few of my easy-clean tips.

{You can buy them here}

Aren’t these adorable? You can buy them here.

This post will be the first in a series of how to quickly and easily clean a few special places in our homes. For starters, I’ll focus on the heart of the home.

For me, that’s the kitchen.

I found an article in Huffington Post recently that listed the five dirtiest places in the kitchen:

  1. Refrigerator drawers
  2. Dishrags
  3. Can opener
  4. Blender
  5. Countertops/sinks

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by this list. Dishrags and sponges, yes. I get that. In fact, I don’t really use these. But refrigerator drawers?! Eww! These items will definitely be on my tip list.

First, the supplies

Think of these as ingredients for your easy-clean kitchen recipe.

  • Rubber gloves
  • Lysol wipes
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Lemons
  • Spray bottle
  • Newspaper
  • Baby oil (optional)

Now, for the tips

{Dishwasher}

dishwasher-cleaner

This one is probably the easiest, so we’ll start here. Pour ½ cup of vinegar in the detergent cup and run the (empty) machine for a full cycle. Then move on to that dirty fridge. Lol!

{Refrigerator}

lysol-wipes

Toss any old food and wipe down the inside of the fridge – especially the meat and cheese drawer handles (just read that Huff Post article!) I really like Lysol wipes for this job so I know I’m truly disinfecting things.

Next, close the fridge, grab a fresh wipe and clean the outside handles.

{Can Opener}

can-opener

I have a handheld opener, so I’ll just drop it into the dishwasher. Otherwise, I’d wipe this down with Lysol, as well.

{Blender}

blender

Wipe down the entire base, including the buttons. I think the nastiest place is down inside the center – where the container goes. I’ll wipe that area the best.

{Counter and Stove Tops}

counter-spray

We have granite countertops, which is porous, so I use ½ cup baking soda with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle to clean and sanitize. I’ve heard equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide also does the trick.

For my glass top stove, I’ll just clean it like my countertops with the baking soda/water spray.

{Oven}

oven-cleaner

Sometimes I’ll use the self-cleaning function, but I don’t always have time to babysit while it cooks. I feel weird having it on while I’m away. So…I’ll make a paste of baking soda and water to scrub the bottom of the oven.

To get the tougher “gunk,” I’ll add a few drops of vinegar to get it to fizz and loosen any debris.

{Microwave}

microwave-cleaner

The microwave is another “fix-it-and-forget-it” kind of chore. Fill a bowl with ½ cup water and ½ lemon (squeezed into the water). Microwave for 3 min. Let sit for 5 min for the steam to do its trick. Then open and wipe clean. Voila!

{Kitchen Sink}

sink-cleaner

While the microwave is doing its thing, I’ll take the other half of lemon and use it to scrub my sink.

First I’ll generously sprinkle baking soda around the sink. Then I’ll use the lemon like a scrubber. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with fresh water.

{Trashcan}

trashcan

I can’t believe this didn’t make the top five list of dirtiest spots in a kitchen. Regardless, I’ll clean the exterior really well with a Lysol wipe.

After I take out the trash, I’ll line the bottom of the can with fresh newspaper and sprinkle some baking soda on top to absorb any odors. You know I can’t do weird smells. #gag

{Stainless Steel Surfaces}

stainless-steel-cleaner

If I’m not totally out of time or energy, I’ll put a few drops of baby oil on a cloth and wipe away all of the germy fingerprints.

If you want this list in a handy, dandy printout, you can download it here!

That’s all for now. Stop back tomorrow for five tips on sprucing up your house specifically for fall.

XoXo,

Kate

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5 New Uses for Cupcake Liners

Happy Friday, sweet things. If you’ve been following me this week, you’ve noticed a theme: new uses for old things.

fresh-start

Today is a third edition that’s all about cupcake liners. These colorful paper discs can be incredibly handy – and pretty. Read on!

cupcake-liners-in-a-jar

{Look how smart this is. Glass spaghetti jars are the perfect size for a sleeve of standard cupcake liners.}

Before we begin, did you know…The paper baking cup became popular in the 1950s? They were produced by by an artillery manufacturer called the James River Corporation. They were motivated to produce something different in the post-war era because of the declining military market. So…cupcakes it is!

Okay, now here are five brilliant ways you can use cupcake liners – outside of a muffin tin:

{ONE} Gardening

Flowerpot Liner: When you don’t want your soil pouring right through the bottom of your flowerpot, it’s good to put a barrier around the drainage area. You can use rocks or even broken pieces of another terra cotta planter.

For another idea, drop a cupcake liner down inside the pot when planting. The liner won’t completely clog the hole, so water can gently drain through.

flower-pot-liner

{TWO} Serving

Drip Catchers: No one likes popsicle juice running down their arm on a warm day. Right? So make a simple drip catcher out of a cupcake liner. Yay!

P.S. These fruit and veggie bars are super delish!!

popcicle-holder

For a quick tip: I folded the paper liner in half and punched a small hole for my popsicle stick.

hole-punch-trick

Drink Covers: Another serving trick is to take a paper baking pan, which is like a sibling to the regular ‘ol cupcake liner, and place it over a drinking glass. I put it over a large Mason jar in the pic. below.

The “lid” keeps annoying bugs out of your glass. And if you’re really thinking ahead, you could have people write their names on the top so it serves as a drink label, as well.

drink-cover

I used the same hole-punch idea by folding the baking cup in half and punching a spot for my straw. Cheers!

baking-cups

{THREE} Driving

Cup Holder Protectors: If you’re not a fan of crumbs or strange, sticky substances getting jammed down inside the cup holders of your car, let me introduce you to silicone cupcake liners.

These magical things fit perfectly down inside your cup holder and can be easily removed, washed and returned at any given time. You can find them here.

{FOUR} Decorating

Paper Peonies: Oh, how I love a bundle of fresh peonies. When they’re not in season, like now, you can whip up a batch of these paper beauties.

These are made with cupcake liners that are all in various shades of pink. So pretty!

{source} The full tutorial can be found here, too.

{FIVE} Celebrating

Party Garland: Looking for an easy way to jazz up your next party? These party garlands are a cinch to string together.

I’d recommend putting something (like straws cut into 1-2 inch pieces) between each of the cupcake liners to help spread them out a bit.

Mini Ghosts: With Halloween right around the corner, I had to give you a perfectly themed idea. Much like yesterday’s post.

Take a large white cupcake liner, draw a cute or spooky face on one side, and then place it over a battery-operated tea light.

ghost

Here’s what it looks like assembled together. Wouldn’t it be cute to put like a dozen or so of these on a mantel or down the middle of a table?

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In addition to pulling off some of these tricks, I hope you can squeeze in a little baking this weekend, because who doesn’t appreciate a little lovin’ from the oven? Cupcakes rock.

In fact, my girls like to invite friends over to play Cupcake Wars. >>

cupcake-wars

This was a picture we took a couple of weeks ago at an overnight party. See the M&Ms getting dropped down into the batter? These girls had lots of tricks up their sleeves!

Oh, and for a quick baking tip, did you know to put uncooked rice in the bottom of your cupcake tins before lining them with your paper cups? The rice soaks up moisture and keeps the liners from getting greasy during baking. Gotta keep those liners looking pretty.

That’s a wrap – for now. Here’s to a great weekend all around!

XoXo,

Kate

CupFiveonfriday

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New Uses for Egg Cartons

Hi, friends! For the next installment of “new uses for old things,” I’m sharing ideas for egg cartons.

egg-carton-2

I’ve been on an egg kick lately since they’re packed with so much protein – and I’m on a Whole30ish diet. (I’m not as strict as the book would like me to be, but I’m definitely cutting out lots of carbs and cheese.)

Anyway, I’ve been collecting tons of egg cartons and decided to find ways to repurpose these interesting little boxes of cubicles.

First, a fun fact: Did you know a British Columbian newspaper editor invented the egg box out of paper in 1911? The invention was the result of a debate between a farmer and hotel owner over broken eggs – and both parties were blaming the other.

Now for the list. These ideas fall into two simple categories: practical and just plain pretty >>

Practical

A Cupcake Carrier

What a great way to get those cupcakes to the school party without squishing them onto a tray or inside of a plastic bin. The lid might be optional – depending on how elaborate you’ve gone on the frosting,

OR…A Deviled Egg Dish

I know this isn’t too far from its original purpose, but somehow it delighted me to see this simple idea. A picnic plus.

Junk Drawer Organizer

Those mini egg holes are perfect for collecting thumbtacks, safety pins, or other small odds and ends that land in your junk drawer.

Nail Polish Holder

I like how this is stacked or elevated so you can easily see your polish colors. If I walked into your bathroom and saw this display, I’d think I was in a nail salon. Gel or no?

K-cup Corral

Yes, please. I take all of my K-cups out of their original box as soon as I get home from the store. Is that just me? Then I just stick them in a drawer by my Keurig. I think this egg carton trick will keep them from sliding around when I open and close said drawer. Yay!

Pretty

Picture Frame or Mirror

Can you even believe those gorgeous flowers? They’re made with egg cartons!! This picture shows them glued to the edge of a mirror. You could do the same with a picture frame.

Flowers for Keeps

Here’s another source that shows you how to make show stopping egg carton flowers. You could hot glue these to pretty much anything you wanted to beautify. I’m thinking packages, lamp shades, Mason jar lids, headbands, napkin rings…

Tabletop Fairy Garden

You know how much I love a good fairy garden. Well, look at this darling idea that uses pieces of egg shell right in their cups to pull off the perfect miniature garden.

Herb Garden Gift

This might be the next gift I assemble for someone. It’s such a simple, yet beautiful idea. It’s a half carton, so it’s not too cumbersome. And like the fairy garden idea, this also uses the egg shells. This time they’re seedling starters. Cute, right?

Bats for Halloween!

I couldn’t leave you without sharing an idea for our next holiday: Halloween!! Look at these spooky bats, which are super easy to make. I think they’d look so cute dangling from the lights over our kitchen table or across the mantel.

I hope you’ve had fun scrolling through the list. Links to these projects are found under each photo, so be sure to click for more details.

Swing back by on Friday for the final list of the week. This time: new uses for cupcake liners. You won’t believe what these little paper cups can do.

See you then!!

XoXo,

Kate

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