Friday, June 12, 2015

Tools of the Trade- Man Art

I can NEVER find the right gift for my husband and our house tends to be a little girly in the decor department. So, I was inspired to create a little 'Man Art' for our house. I haven't decided on the perfect place just yet but I also decided to share this custom wall decor in my etsy shop. Father's Day is coming up!

I would also look great in a boys bedroom, Man Cave, workshop,etc.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

MOVING MILITARY-STYLE: PART 2- Prep for Packers/Movers

It is hard to believe that I wrote my original Moving-Military Style post over 3 years ago!  Since then we have done two more cross country moves, dealt with two landlords, and bought a home for the first time.  Both moves with packers and movers this time.  While having all that extra help is a major plus it doesn't mean that there isn't a ton of prep-work to do.  Sure, you can just wake up on 'Pack Day' and let the professionals do all the work but that will most likely end up leaving you with a big mess for unpacking later.  Their job is to pack everything as quickly as possible and they will box up everything as is.  That means trash stays in trash cans, junk drawer items just get dumped into a random box and your toilet brush may very well end up mingling with your dishes.

Here are a few tips that we have picked up from our own experience and from horror stories from fellow military families...

1. Prep starts with Planning-  a few weeks out from Packing Day make a list.  I am a big fan of lists (I even made one before writing this post).  Detail all the things that you need to get done before the packers arrive.  Packing your travel with you items, taking stuff off the walls, and organizing needs before they arrive.  I shared my to-do list from our last move in a previous post: Preparing to PCS...Again.

2. Go Zip-Lock Crazy- This is a tip a friend of ours gave us two moves ago and it has made unpacking SOOOO much easier.  Bag all the small items that are meant to stay together.  Each drawer in the kitchen, storage baskets around the house, small bathroom items, undies drawer, Legos, desk drawers, etc.  We found large, and extra large storage bags (generic brands are just fine, I like the ones with the zipper so they are more secure) the 2 gallon size are perfect for kitchen utensils.  Not only does this help insure that you don't end up with 1000 push pins dumped in the bottom of a box (can you tell I have made that mistake) but makes it a lot easier for the packers to quickly pack and for you to quickly unpack later.  I even fit the entire-full silverware holder in one bag.

3. Tangle Prevention- I have spent hours trying to get one knot out of a necklace and trying to get all the TV/Computer/Power cords separated.  A little prep can save a ton of time later.  I roll up all my necklaces (costume and nice) in plastic wrap before each move.  I have a lot of necklaces so I end up with a giant 'roll' but it makes for super easy unpacking and a lot less headaches.  Hair ties, zip-ties, rubber bands, plastic bags, painters tape, etc. are all great ways to secure all of your cords in neat little rolls to help keep them in order.

4. Cord/Remote Box-Find a central location for a 'parts' box (or even one for each room or floor of the house).  Packers usually ask that you have all electronics unplugged before they come so go ahead and start grouping all these items together.  We usually take this box with us so that we aren't searching for it when the cable/Internet guy comes to our new house.  Include everything from cords, router, remotes, etc.  I also label each cord by wrapping a piece of blue painters tape or a post-it note taped to it so I know which TV/Computer/Printer it goes with.

5. Trash Bag Organizing- In an ideal world, the Packers would neatly and orderly hang all of your clothes in well marked boxes, then gingerly move them on and off the moving truck so that you could just quickly and easily transfer everything into your new closet.  The reality is that many moving companies don't even use hanging boxes, they get tossed around like crazy, they are not concerned with keeping it organized for you and if there is spare room in the box they will add anything and everything that they can fit.  Group your hanging clothes into trash bags (still on the hangers) and label them clearly.  I used pink labels for my clothes, blue for my husbands, green for our sons and separate winter, summer, pants, dresses, maternity, etc.  That way when we get to our new house and my husband realizes that he needs a random pair of dress pants right away we can find them quickly without having to unpack every box the first night.  I also bag all of our drawers, that way the movers don't have to gather up my undies and we can just dump everything right back into the same drawers at the new house.

6. Dirty Don'ts- Packers will pack everything!!  Including the trash still in your trash can's, toilet bowl brushes (these things really gross me out), wet mop heads, and anything else that is in their path.  They also don't care if those nasty things are in with your perfect clean guest bath towels.  Don't assume that you can just go around ahead of them the day of and move stuff out of the way either, they are faster than you think.  The night before, make sure to take out ALL of the trash, bag anything that you don't want touching other things, and designate a 'DO NOT PACK AREA' for items you are going to take with you or will need to use for your move out cleaning.

7. DO NOT PACK AREA- We always set up an area before each PACK DAY to start setting aside all of the items that we are either going to throw out last minute or move ourselves.  I like to use a closet or bathroom where I can close the door and put a clearly marked sign letting them know not to touch the stuff inside.  Some of the items are valuables that we just prefer to keep with us like jewelry, precious photo albums, baby books, personal documents, etc.  But we also set aside cleaning supplies that we will need for the move out cleaning, moving related documents, clothes, toiletries and travel needs while we are between houses (make sure to account for unexpected delays- our moving truck was delayed an extra 10 days last move- check out a suggested list here).  Also, remember to pull anything out of this area that you DO want them to pack and move it somewhere else.  I made a pile of packable things on our guest bed and just made a big note asking the movers to label those things for the bathroom that they came out of.

We usually have a large plastic bin in the kitchen too for items that we know they won't pack (liquids and perishables).  This way we can still access them up until Pack Day but they are out of the way.  Also helps us know what to try and use up so we don't have to haul it cross country ourselves (or throw out if we don't have room or have an overseas move).

Important documents you may need to set aside and keep with you:
- military orders
- new lease
- mortgage info
- hotel/RV park confirmations for the move
- pet vaccine info for hotels that require them
- medical records for all family members
- printed driving directions- in case you don't get phone service in the middle of Texas
- landlords move-out checklist
- info for new utility companies
- passports/ birth certificates/ marriage license/ power of attorney/ SS cards/ etc. (just make sure to keep them secure)
- info for new schools, jobs, etc.
- anything and everything that you may need within the first few weeks of getting to your new home or that would be a MAJOR issue if they went missing during the move

8. Move-Out Cleaning-If you are on a tight schedule or just don't want to deal with it, check around with local cleaning companies for one-time move-out cleaning specials.  Many companies in military towns especially offer special services designed just for this.  Also, be sure to check your original lease agreement and see if you are required to do anything extra like have the carpets professionally cleaned or sprayed for bugs.  Local companies usually have special move-out rates for these things too, price a few different places and make sure to save copies of your receipts for your landlord.  We try and do as much of the cleaning ourselves as possible to save money and to make sure that we are going to get our full deposit back.  Landlords tend to love military families because we are all very thorough (we need that deposit $$).  We try not to buy new cleaning chemicals for a few months before a move so that we can use up every last drop and not have to move too much with us or throw out full bottles. I also have a firm germ policy of replacing things like toilet brushes (yuck again), mop heads and plungers at each new house.  Those things need to be switched every so often anyway so a move is a great time to start fresh.

Here are some areas to be sure not to miss when cleaning for a move-out inspection (based on things previous landlords have checked for):
- in, under and behind appliances (unless landlord prefers you not to move large appliances)
- air vents- change out filters, clean returns and vents in all rooms and baths (we just get the cheap filters for move-out and change them day of inspection so they are pristine)
- fireplace
- cabinets, drawers, closets, shelves- inside and out- remove any drawer liners and wipe everything down really well
- bathrooms- every last nook and cranny- bleach and mold remover are a must here
- floors- leave all floors until the last minute so they are sparkling when the inspection happens
- dust everywhere- blinds, moldings, corners, etc.
- windows- inside and out- Windex makes a spray that attaches to a hose for outside that is quick and easy.
- garage/ outdoor areas- knock down cobwebs, pull weeds, sweep, etc.
- touch up- paint, nail holes, etc. - some land lords prefer you leave these though so they can have it done professionally so check with them first.

9. Know your Movers- If you get to choose your movers then ask around and check online reviews to find the best option.  We usually don't have a say in the matter though so we get to know as much about them as possible to make the process smoother.  Ask them ahead of time for a list of what you need to have prepped for them.  They should come to your home in advance of the pack day to determine how much stuff you have not only to determine the size of the truck needed but also to see how long they think it will take to pack and how many people they will need to have working on Pack Day and Move Day.  Make sure that they see everything inside and outside your home that they will be packing including garage and attic items.  Pay attention to what they decide on, if it sounds like their assessment is too small or they aren't going to have enough time/people make sure to let them know your concerns.  We had two moves in 6 months, accumulated more things and somehow the second moving company estimated that we had much less stuff than the first move and didn't send nearly enough boxes or packers.

Keep documentation on the moving company with you and make sure to get the moving truck driver's contact info. and give him yours.  Double check the scheduled delivery day and call a day or two before to make sure nothing has changed.  Take a picture of the truck's license tag and if for some reason your things will be stored somewhere before moved make sure to find out where and who will be moving them.  We learned a lot of this the hard way.

Find out what items they will NOT move.  This usually includes- plants, liquids, batteries, candles, perishable items, ammunition, basically anything that will die, spill, melt or explode in high heat.

10. Notify your Landlord- again, check your lease.  Some landlords require a certain amount of notice of your move-out so that they can begin the process of finding a new tenant or planning any cleaning/renovations between tenants.  If their notice requirement seems excessive (typically 30 days) check your State laws and be sure to let them know that you are military .  By law, they have to let you out of a lease if you provide military orders and if need be you can always get help from your JAG office on post.  Give them notice in WRITING, an email is fine but be sure to keep a copy of it for yourself.  When you notify them ask for a list of move-out requirements (they should have provided one when you signed the lease but not all do).  Also, schedule a move out inspection.  Many landlords don't require you to be present for the inspection but remember that if you have already moved and they find something wrong they will just take it out of your deposit and not give you a chance to fix it yourself.  We have been charged for someone having to pull a few weeds and change a light bulb.  Very Frustrating!

I have started informing my landlord of a potential move as soon as I know an approximate date.  We sometimes aren't given 'official orders' until the last minute or an exact moving date until a few weeks out so it is a good idea to just give them a heads up and send them the specifics as soon as you have them.

11. Final Prep- The morning of PACK DAY things to do:
- remove bedding from all beds and group together in trash bag or pillow case (so you aren't searching for the fitted sheet in new home)
- bag pet beds- who wants dog hair on everything
- Put Obvious (but sometimes very necessary) Labels on rooms so Movers know how to label boxes.  I don't know how many boxes we had after our first move that just said 'Closet' so we had no idea what part of the house to even begin to set them for unpacking.
- Don't forget to empty washer/dryer/dishwasher

12.  Get out of the way, if you can-  we are lucky enough to have a travel trailer that we use for vacations so we always move-in to it a few days prior to Pack Day so that we can make life a little easier on us.  Obviously, this isn't an option for everyone so if you are able to stay in a hotel or with a friend for a few nights you might want to.  Or, plan ahead and set aside sleeping bags, air mattresses, etc. so that you can be prepared to possibly not have a bed to sleep in.  Often, Pack Day is actually several days and then you may have to wait around for the Move-out day too.  You will also most likely not have your things right away when you get to your new home so be prepared.  If you have kids or pets try and find someone that can help watch them or have a plan for keeping them entertained and safely out of the way.

13. Expect the Unexpected- Nothing will go exactly as planned.  Our Packers showed up a day early last move (mis-communication somewhere) so our perfect plans for me staying out of the way with our toddler while my husband was on site went out the window since he was still working that day.  Thankfully, we had very friendly packers so they were understanding of the screaming toddler and gave me time to do my last minute prep.  We also moved during the busiest moving season so several events led to our truck being delayed 10 days.  We did get compensated for having to stay in the RV park longer and eating out every meal (save receipts) but that took several weeks so we were glad to have some extra money set aside and plenty of our own belongings with us (and access to a laundry mat).  It actually worked out in the end because it gave us time to finish painting and cleaning our new house and thankfully we now live close to family that were more than happy to entertain our toddler.

14.  Keep an Eye on Things and Speak Up (politely)-  We have had some AMAZING packers in the past that did a better job than I ever would have expected.  But, unfortunately we have had the opposite too.  We got the 'new girl' once who packed our nice china at the bottom of a huge box with heavy books on top.  We caught that one in time because we noticed the lid of the box bulging sitting next to our china cabinet and nothing labeled FRAGILE.  I knew that the movers stack those boxes five or six high in the truck so I went snooping since I knew whatever was in it was going to be crushed.  We did however miss the fact that on that same move they threw a few oddly shaped items in the back of the moving truck without boxing or wrapping them, they didn't survive.  We also had un-packers use our particle board entertainment center as their own personal umbrella during a rain storm and it hasn't been the same since.  I wish I had asked them to hold off for a minute on that one- they could have taken a little break and let the storm pass.

15. TIP and Treat- If you are nice to them, they will be nice to you.  Of course, accidents and slip ups still happen but usually the people helping you move mean well.  They are doing a tiresome job and often don't get paid very much or get many breaks.  Much like waiters, they make most of their income with tips.  So make sure to provide drinks, snacks and even a meal if they are there for a long time.  Doesn't need to be fancy or excessive and you can even ask them what they want and order or run out for it.  We usually have donuts/bagels in the morning, pizza or sandwiches for lunch and plenty of drinks and ice.  I have tried to put out healthier items thinking that they probably get sick of pizza but they are human just like the rest of us and usually skip the fruit and go for the chips.  We also try and tip, the amount varies depending on how many people the company sends and how much we can afford at the time.  My husband even went out and got a couple of 6 packs for the guys that moved us on a Holiday weekend.

If you are properly prepared before your next move, you can avoid a lot of unexpected mishaps and unnecessary stress.  Moving is never stress free, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare.  I try to look at the upsides to the moving process.  It is a great time to clean out and purge unneeded junk in your home, reorganize in a fresh new place and of course always fun to explore your new home and community.

Friday, June 5, 2015

American Design in Paris

How amazing is this Parisian living room?!?  
Can you believe this is an apartment? Full disclosure, this is not my design but I did recommend navy pillows haha! The architecture alone is incredible but every last finishing touch is just perfect. From the dainty gold side table to the expertly accessorized green book shelf and every detail in between I could go on for hours about this Parisian perfection.
 The structured sofa and angled rug, tufted chairs and antique accessories make the perfect blend of formal style and inviting comfort. Have I mentioned 'perfect' enough?

The best part about this design is that most of the major elements were purchased here in the U.S. so getting a similar look doesn't require a trip to Europe. While some elements are a bit pricier from stores like Restoration Hardware many are completely affordable Home Goods finds. This design didn't happen over night, they have been collecting some of these pieces for years from various travels and antique stores and have used them in several different ways in different homes. Would you believe that this 'designer' isn't even a professional? Just someone with really good taste (and a pretty awesome designer as a sister).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Family Restaurant Re-Do: Chef Buddy's

  A while back, my cousins made the brave decision to purchase a little local American Italian Deli and sandwich shop when the original owner's retired.  On top of that, they moved the whole thing to a brand new location!  Since it was a hometown favorite, they decided to keep as much of the original feel as possible.  This meant not only keeping all the favorite menu items and family friendly atmosphere but also repurposing a lot of the original design elements in a fresh new way.
I have worked on several small restaurant projects in the past so I was more than happy to give a few tips to my AMAZING cousins Holly and Josh and help reassure them on their great design choices.

They put in a ton of work and they did an incredible job creating a clean, fun and inviting deli that continues to be a local favorite.

The outside of the building was a bit rough when they bought the place so they chose some classic and professional looking paint colors to clean it up and give it a crisp backdrop for their restaurant sign and logo.  The building is in the adorable downtown area and now stands out to anyone passing by.  Too many great restaurants scare customers away because they don't have the right curb appeal.  

 The original location had black and white tile floors so they decided to keep with that tradition and emphasize it a bit more with this large scale, stained concrete in a checkered pattern.  They even did their research and chose yellow and gray for the walls because they give a clean and fresh feel while the red accents help trigger your appetite.  Although, I think they also just liked the way they all went together.  
 Throughout the space, they re-used several major elements from the original restaurant.  This not only helped them with their budget but also helped the regular and long time customers feel at home and know that they were still dining at Chef Buddy's.  
 Bright, clean and fresh are all important factors for any restaurant but especially for a deli.  Less is more when it comes to restaurant decor.  There are way too many things to keep up with when running a restaurant as it is, no need to add extensive dusting to the list.  The live plants used throughout the space not only add color and clean the air but they also represent a personal touch since Holly's family runs a local plant nursery as well.
 I love that they re-used these menu boards from the original Chef Buddy's location.  

 Efficient and comfortable seating. 

The Chef Buddy story wall reminds the customers and the new owners that while the space is new there is a lot of history behind this great restaurant. 

Not to be forgotten, they continued with the clean attention to detail in the back of house and bathrooms.  Can you tell they are parents?  I love the great changing table area that they created.

 Such a professional looking space, inside and out.  From the functional and great looking displays to the perfect blend of professional printed and hand written signage, they didn't miss any detail or opportunity to really utilize the space.  Chef Buddy's is clearly a loved local spot that lets customers know they are in for a delicious meal before they even place their order.  Oh, and the food is pretty awesome too!

 If you find yourself in beautiful Lake Placid, Florida be sure to stop by Chef Buddy's at 381 E. Interlake Blvd.  for a delicious meal, great service and an amazing atmosphere.  
(And tell Josh and Holly that their cousin Melanie sent you.) 

Lived-In Living Room

Seems like every design blog out there has pictures of perfectly put together living spaces.  No clutter, pristine furniture and definitely not a toy in sight.  I don't know about you, but I don't live in that world.  Even at it's cleanest, our house always has toys, clutter, dust, old furniture that we would love to replace, major and minor renovation projects that need starting and/or finishing, etc. etc.  
Don't get me wrong, I can stage a house for sale or even just long enough for a picture to near perfection but the homes that we actually live in are ALWAYS a work in progress and ALWAYS a MESS (more often that not a really big mess).  So to share our living room design I decided NOT to "stage" it but instead just to show it off the way it looks when we are actually living in it.  Well, at least while the toddler and crawler are sleeping.  The toys in the corner (and from every other room in the house) tend to takeover when they are awake.  

This first picture is the before/after when we first moved in just to show you what a difference a coat of paint can make.  The before beige wasn't terrible, it was just boring beige and I wanted something different.  The best part is that I was pregnant at the time so ALL the painting was left up to my husband and I didn't have to lift a finger.
 I LOVE how the paint color made the gray in the fireplace marble POP and made the white moldings really stand out.  We plan on eventually upgrading the carpet to some sort of hardwood or laminate but for now it is nice to have a little cushioning for our wobbly crawling baby.  We are also working on creating a baby safe cover for the fireplace that I will share soon.

See what I mean about a "lived-in" living room?  I couldn't even get our dog to leave her bed during my cell phone photo shoot.  The boys nap time is also her nap time since they don't leave her alone if they are up.  My biggest NEED in our home is always storage space.  I even went against my own frequent mover advice and bought the larger entertainment center so that I would have more baby proof storage/display space.  It of course backfired in this house and we had to place it on an angle for it to fit in the space.  I always recommend for other frequent movers (military or not) to purchase smaller, more flexible furniture pieces so that they will be more likely to fit in any home you may end up in.

Many of our accessories are Trinkets from our Travels, things that we use frequently like books, toys, and storage baskets or are just personal things that we love.  I also use this space as my 'office' since I am usually pulling triple duty as stay at home mom, interior designer, and blogger.  So, I have my laptop, paint swatches, design magazines, etc. stashed in the yellow secretary desk (thrift store find that we previously used as our china cabinet but recently gave a yellow face lift).  I also keep a portable file box in the bottom of the pillow basket so that it is easily accessible but out of sight.
 Another one of my favorite storage pieces is this vintage trunk that was a gift from my husband.  He is one of those rare guys that pays attention (and actually remembers) when I point out liking something in a store.  I know, I'm pretty lucky.  It not only serves as a great place to keep our more precious belongings (wedding album, baby books, yearbooks, kiddie artwork) but also provides extra seating for guest.  The white side table was my grandmother's but the original top didn't survive one of our moves so I replaced it with the metal tray (which was my grandpa's grilling pan) and sprayed the whole thing white, except the green rubber handles.  The chair and lamp are more thrifty finds that I have given face lifts over the years.

 Our well "loved" sofa is towards the top of my would love to replace wish list but for now works great for our not so neat and tidy toddler.  I wrote about some of the other pieces in the room in a previous post which you can find here.

Finally, I am pretty proud of our DIY ottoman (post coming soon).  We needed something small enough to still allow for plenty of play space but padded, sturdy and in a kid friendly fabric.  It isn't perfect but not too shabby for my first tufting project and my husbands first indoor furniture project.  I am ready to tackle an upholstered headboard next.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Not too Shabby Scraps

It is definitely HEATING up around here so we are busy getting our house ready for Summer. I'm super excited to share these projects that were completed completely with scraps we had around the house. Of course, my husband and I are both admitted DIY hoarders (it's a serious problem but in this case very convenient). 
The first project took me about 5 minutes. I had a little fabric left from an old pillow project, twine and the chalkboard that I use for random holiday decor (Hobby Lobby). Just a little help from the staple gun and we now have a super cute and easy summer door decor.

Our pallet flag took a little more time but was still pretty easy. My husband disassembled, cut and reconfigured an old pallet into this flag shape and I did the painting (so maybe just easy for me). It was originally a little brighter but we let it get bleached by the sun when we lived in the desert for a short time and I actually like it better than before. 

Finally, I am really excited about our "new" back porch buffet! The best part, it was totally free! My dad had given us a bunch of scrap wood for our boys play set and this was all leftover. My husband made a modified version of an Ana-White table and I couldn't be happier about how it turned out. 

Can't wait to see what else we can make from scraps around the house! I'm sure my husband is excited too😉

Thursday, May 21, 2015


When people find out that I am an Interior Designer they often assume that we must have a perfectly put together home filled with beautiful brand new furniture.  I wish!  The truth is, like everyone else we have more important things that our money tends to go towards (kids, food, bills, bills, bills) so while I would love to have a house full of Restoration Hardware for now we have to find more thrifty ways to decorate. 
Slowly but surely we are transforming our guest room from a hodge podge of random extras to an actual guest retreat
The soothing wall color is Mindful Gray from Sherwin Williams.  I found these vintage prints at Country Home Furnishings of Cataula recently and couldn't pass up the $15 steal! The frames were a little out dated but nothing some spray paint couldn't fix (I'm obsessed with spray paint).  

I found these pillow covers at Hobby Lobby (another obsession) and instantly brightened up the room from our old black and white motif. The dresser is a hand me down from my grandmother (Hobby Lobby pulls) it needs a little TLC but the size is perfect as a nightstand and it is very functional for extra storage. We try and keep at least two of the drawers empty for guests and use the others for office storage (this room doubles as our office space, I'll share that in a future post). 
I still have plans to paint the mirror but haven't decided on a color. 

The Target lamp shade helped to tie in the teal drapes that I have had since college.  They are in great shape and are the best black out curtains I have ever had so I can't part with them.  I think I originally found them at Pier 1.  I combined two Pinterest ideas to create the "Be our guest" Wifi password frame (more spray paint).  The coasters are from one of our road trips out west and the tray is not only a great place for guests to store tiny odds and ends but was also a wedding gift.  
When we have guests in town I try to put some fresh flowers out, always have clean towels ready and keep a stash of tiny toiletries in case they forgot to pack something.  
This room, like every room in our house is always a work in progress but thankfully our guests are usually pretty understanding.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PCS e-design service

It's PCS season again!! After two cross country moves last year alone we are thankfully,  not moving again this year (at least not that we know of yet).  So since I have a little more free time,  I am offering a military family geared e-design service to help you get through the stress of how to set up your new home.  I know first hand how hard it can be to uproot and move to a new place (over and over again) and that one of the most important aspects of every move is to try to feel at 'home' as soon as possible.  This affordable e-design service will help guide you on how to re-use your existing pieces in your new home and if needed I can help you create a budget friendly shopping list.  Please visit my design website for more details...


As is the case of almost every area of our house, this particular room is still a work in progress.  But, as you will see in the before pics below we have come a LONG LONG way.  After a thorough cleaning (see my post on move-in cleaning) my local handy man (very local since he is also my husband) did a great job with the new paint and tile.  I installed new hardware and then the decorating began...

What we still want to work on in this room...
- Framing the mirror
- change out the faucet
- fix the baseboards (waiting to finish all the floors in the house and do this all at once)
- Maybe put in new countertops (not likely since these are in good shape and it's not a top project priority)
- Paint the cabinets (we will keep them white but they are in need of a little touching up)

The wall color is Sherwin Williams Languid Blue SW6226. Tile is Daltile Sandalo in Castilian Gray.  

The towel bars, towels and shower curtain are all from Target, hooks from Ikea.   The real stars of the show though are our adorable baby boys.  I just had a few home photos blown up through Shutterfly and displayed them in these colorful frames from Homegoods.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


So admittedly, I am not the tidiest person in the world (no surprise to anyone who has been to my house).  But while I have no problem living in my own mess, I am still a germaphobe when it comes to thinking about who else has been somewhere before me.  While I can't always sanitize every inch of a hotel room (one of my favorite parts of owning our own travel trailer) I can at least make sure that every new place that we live is spic and span and has a clean slate for collecting our own personal germs.  Of course, as a military family we have had lots of practice with move-in cleaning and I have also somehow gotten roped into helping several of my family members with their moves over the years.  

Everyone knows how to clean the obvious places, floors, kitchen, bathrooms, windows, etc.  But there are a lot of little nooks and crannies that get overlooked, especially if you hire someone to professionally clean for you.  We have had professional cleaners come in before, which is a huge help for all the major mess areas but I ALWAYS give everything a good sanitizing myself too.  Think about it, no one is going to clean your house as well as you since it's your tush that will be sitting on that toilet.  

So here is my list of places that people tend to overlook when cleaning a 'new' home:

1. Walls!- no, you don't have to scrub every square inch but you might want to take some disinfectant to a few key areas.  
  - Back splash- food, grease, and who knows what else.  They may look clean but just remember you will using this area to prep and store your own food so cross contamination is very likely.
  - Around toilets- the toilets themselves should be an obvious place to clean but the complete area around them are often overlooked.  walls, floors, nearby cabinets and outsides of showers/tubs are all in the 'splash zone'.  Super gross, I know but a necessary area to address.  
  - Behind towel bars- think about it, every time you get done wiping your entire body with a towel and hang it back on the towel bar that towel then rests against that spot on the wall.  It did the same thing with the hairy guy that lived there before you so make sure and sanitize that spot.  
  - Eating/cooking areas- not just the kitchen but the breakfast table, bar, dining room, etc. get a lot of food splatter (especially if toddlers have lived there in the past).  
  - Areas you are painting- not necessarily for sanitary reasons, but a good dusting is highly recommended before you paint anything.  Not only will it help paint adhere better but it will also help keep mysterious specs out of your paint job.  I recommend a Swiffer type dust mop to reach high areas and to make the job go a little faster.  
2. Handles-doors, knobs, cabinets, light switches.  Any area that has frequent contact with any ones hands not only gets germy but also grimy and dirty looking.  Lysol and a rag can go a long way but for tough spots (around door knobs often get a lot of dirt transfer) try a Magic Eraser
3. Holders- drawers, shelves, medicine cabinets.  Anything that holds your toothbrush, towels or unmentionables probably held someone else's before you so give it a good scrubbing.  Clean all cabinets and drawers inside and out.  You know that toothpaste splatter on your bathroom mirror, get the last guys off before you add yours.  
4. Hangers- toilet paper holder, hooks, towel bars.  Think about it, when do you change the empty toilet paper roll?  Yeah, that is when everyone changes it, so clean that entire area.  If your TP holder has one of those springy plastic things just throw it out and get a new one.  They sell them everywhere, dollar store, Walmart, even the grocery store.  

5. Cleaning Tools- washer/dryer, disposal, dish washer, sink drains, tub jets, shower heads.  All the things that are used for cleaning, DEFINITELY need to be cleaned themselves.  For the appliances, check the hardware store for cleaning products specifically designed for these areas.  For your sinks, tubs, showers make sure to get every nook and cranny including the overflow drain.  I always run a jetted tub with cleaning solution (I prefer bleach but check to make sure it won't ruin your jets) several times before I ever step foot in the tub myself.  

I hope this list doesn't gross you out too much.  These are of course all things that you should clean in your home regularly anyway but my most thorough cleaning always comes when we first move in (or when we have a guest coming to stay).  Also, if you live in a brand new home don't just assume that none of this applies to you.  I have been on many, many construction sites that are much nastier than you could even imagine.  Even the best contractors have occasional disgruntled employees who are just plain nasty so clean that tub before you take your first bath.  

What areas do you make sure to give an extra good scrubbing in a new home?  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Favorite Flowers

 My mother-in-law recently fell in love with a piece of art that would be perfect for her Tuscan inspired screened in back porch but was not ready to fork out the hefty price for something that would be hanging outside.  So, she asked if I could attempt to create something similar using some pallet wood that we have been hoarding (was holding all the tile that we recently installed).  My husband was more than happy to have a way to get rid of it and an excuse to use some of his tools.  After he created the 'canvas' I got started on the painting.  I intentionally went for a rustic and rough look since it will become more and more weathered over time anyway.  Can't wait to see it displayed on her Tuscan porch (in Florida).

After starting the Sunflower project, I was on a bit of a painting kick (and in need of a few Mother's Day gifts) and decided to keep going and make some smaller pieces for a few other momma's in my life.  The Amarylis was for my grandma-in-law (GG) because she sent me a beautiful one last year when we were living somewhere with very few flowers.  
Black Eyed Susan's are my mom's favorite flower and have been since my Dad first picked some for her 42 years ago.  He occasionally still stops on the side of the road to pick a bunch for her and brings them home in whatever fancy container he has on hand, usually a coke bottle.