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Spring Queening: The Bucket List

April 5, 2009


I like to have a cleaning kit, a great caddy or other container that fits all of my essentials and can easily be toted from room to room with little effort. It’s enough that I’m actually cleaning, I don’t want to have to haul a lot of crap around in the process. I also don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping for new things that need replacing or upgrading, so I’m sticking to two online stores—shopOrganic and The Container Store. Shop Organic has a phenomenal selection of eco-friendly cleaning supplies (and virtually everything else for squeaky green living!) and quick shipping, and I can order from TCS online and pick it up at the store near my office. (Not only do I get to earn frequent flier miles through AA’s shopping program, they’re also having a 25-percent off everything sale until April 13!)

Because this year’s spring cleaning marathon is something of a recommitment ceremony to my keeping a neat home, I’m restocking a new kit, based loosely upon Real Simple’s thorough cleaning supply checklist. I prefer an open container (of beer) over a more organized caddy, so to replace my trusty orange Home Depot bucket, I’m going for Casabella’s eclipse bucket. Its 2.5 gallon capacity makes it plenty big for holding bottles and accessories, and it’s also made of recycled soda bottles (yay!). It’s also green and pretty. I’m also considering the matching “cleaning system” which features a 30-percent recycled aluminum pole that fits three attachments—mop, broom and floor duster—that are all made from recycled soda bottles as well.

I started switching to more natural and eco-friendly cleaning products a few years ago, and I’m so excited there are so many great ones to choose from these days. I recently discovered shopOrganic on Twitter (@shopOrganic), and was amazed at the selection of well, absolutely freakin’ everything to completely green your world…and in bulk too! Natural, organic, vegan, kosher, raw…from toothpaste to tortillas. And plenty of great green cleaning supplies!

  • Howards Naturals Kitchen Cabinet Cleaner and Polish: Made with Brazilian carnauba wax to cut through oil-based kitchen grease, this will bring back the much-needed shine to my kitchen cabinets, which haven’t been touched since they were repainted far more than a year ago. And it’s lemongrass-lime scented!
  • Howards Naturals Wood Cleaner and Polish: Made with soybean, coconut and palm oils—with a natural sandalwood-tangerine scent—this will gently polish the bookcases and living room furniture my dad made for us years ago.
  • Bon Ami: This hard-to-find mild abrasive is chlorine-, fragrance- and dye-free and contains biodegradable detergent, making it a natural and effective cleaner for appliances, sinks and even cookware.My parents used to use this in their concession stand they had when I was growing up (don’t ask), so I know how well it works. The aftermath of making funnel cakes is nasty.

We’re at t-minus five days ’til the spring cleaning marathon begins. I’m hoping for nice open-window weather and maybe even a little sunlight. Tomorrow, the pre-decluttering begins after we finish the attic floor and can move some stuff upstairs. But that’s another story.

Next: The Final Countdown!


Spring Queening: Make a Plan

March 27, 2009


I can’t put this off any longer. It’s time. This house is in desperate need of a good spring cleaning. It’s time to use Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook for something other than a decorative accent. The weather is finally decent enough to throw open the windows for some fresh air, and boy do we need it. I’m creating a strategy to transform this place into a sparkling show house. I’m serious.

But you can’t just rush into something like this. Oh no. You have to have a plan. And the plan is to take full advantage of an empty house when my husband goes to visit family in a couple of weeks. I know, it’s sad that my husband is going out of town and my grandest idea is to clean the hell out of the house. But it’s so much easier when there’s no one around and you can crank up the music and have a good time. Plus, it gives me time to make a plan.

Instead of tackling this masterpiece in one day, I’m going to spread out the work over a couple of days. To keep myself on track, I’m consulting all of the great room-by-room checklists available over at Real Simple. The first wave of battle will be the kitchen and bath. Best to get the really dirty business out of the way first. The next day, bedroom, living room and dining room. Which isn’t so bad since the living and dining rooms are basically one in the same. And if everything stays on track, by the weekend I’ll be able to focus completely on the most horrible mess of all, my office. It’s indescribably cluttered. Books, magazines, crafty things, tools, junk. It’s all there. And my desk is a nightmare too. This room needs some serious attention. I’ve always had messy offices, but this is just simply beyond reason. But not for long.

Next: The best thing about spring cleaning? Buying new stuff!

Green Dogs

March 22, 2009


We’re constantly greening some aspect of our lives here, and lately we’ve been turning some of that eco-attentwp-econap-2tion to our dogs, Bailey and Céilí. When it was time for new beds, I started searching for replacements that were green and stylish–not necessarily an easy task. There are lots of awful-looking dog beds out there in dull, boring colors, but I found some fabulous, and well priced, alternatives over at Suburban Doghouse. Made from recycled plastic bottles, the Eco Nap by West Paw Designs comes in a variety of cool hues; we have Green Tea and Willow. An extra-large bed keeps 40 bottles out of a landfill, and according to West Paw, the company has already diverted more than 409 tons!

Another favorite eco-friendly dog stuff maker is Planet Dog. If my dogs would actually play with toys, this is where I would get them. However, my guys are only interested in looking cool, so we’re left up to pd-3097-2tmaking a statement with accessories. The adjustable hemp collar and leash are fantastic and come in some very mod–and naturally dyed–colors, and the leash is fleece-lined and very comfortable on the hands. Bailey rocks the orange, while Céilí stays true to her Irish name with the apple green. And the fact that the collars coordinate nicely with the dog beds is merely an aesthetic coincidence.


March 19, 2009


If you Google “keep calm and carry on iphone” you’ll find Schtickers, this fantastic site that sells loads of cool skins for laptops, iPhones and iPods, including a fine selection of Keep Calm and Carry On stuff. The prices are great, but what’s even better is the collection of free iPhone wallpapers. FREE! There’s everything from butterflies to biohazard symbols, and you can even create your own (the same goes for the skins!). I freakin’ love the crown on the home button above.

Stairway to Heaven

March 17, 2009
John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones

Just a quick programming note: the attic ladder was successfully installed on Friday. And I do not want to hear the sound of a pneumatic tool in my house ever again. But it’s fantastic—there’s quite a bit of storage space up there, and it looks like we may not have to add any insulation, which means next weekend the husband and I are putting down a floor upstairs! I’m all for laying down some sheets of plywood up there and calling it a day, but he’s all about these click-together floor panels that frankly are overpriced and stupid. I don’t want to spend a day drilling into the ceiling joists, I just want to create a surface and put crap up there. Tell me I’m right on this.

The one thing about the new door I didn’t realize—until the night before it was installed—was that it would be so wide that it would knock the existing ugly brass sconce off the wall (good), but was probably not even going to give me enough space to put a new light in (bad). And I’d decided to go cheap with the Glam sconce from CB2, too. The wall is so narrow, maybe three inches, and the door clearance is maybe the same, so the only thing that’s gonna fit is one of those stick-up lights. And that’s no good. And any other spot on the ceiling would be awkward I think. The ceiling is mostly attic door now.

So now I’m in search a wee little wall light that’s flat and pretty. Like me in 10th grade.

Fab Five: S & P Shakers

March 16, 2009


I passively collect salt and pepper shakers. I only have six or seven pairs, and don’t intend on having a special shelf in my kitchen for them any time soon. However, when something so freakin’ cute like Alessi’s Forrest Gump set (above) comes along, one begins considering adding to one’s collection. Held to a tray with magnets, the shakers are two little cartoony trees, while a red, angry hedgehog-ish creature serves as a toothpick holder. He’s straight out of an old Super Mario game. Too cute.

I found those on Bibelot, a cool little site that I discovered while Googling “sparkler birthday candles.” Seriously. And they have them, along with loads of other great stuff, and lots of S & P shakers. Here are a couple of my other favorites at Bibelot, and other collection-worthy sets.

  • Colorful recycled melamine shakers by Zak. The eco-friendly design is part of a larger Confetti collection of other kitchen goodies, like mixing bowls and various dining pieces.
  • The “salt and peeper” shaker is simple genius: twist the little birdie’s head and its eyes change from blue to white for salt, and to black for pepper.
  • From favorite site Pedlars, this eco-friendly cork set gets a mod kick from its chrome accents.
  • And finally, over at Velocity, this clever and just a tad kooky Sea Salt and Jester set from Cerealart was created by Marcel Dzama, and is crafted of porcelain.

Easy Chair

March 12, 2009

f_14776Despite the fact that it’s currently raining and cold (even though it was sunny and in the 70s yesterday), I’m thinking about the backyard, and sitting on the deck. This is an area that has been paid little to no attention, despite my efforts last summer of an umbrella and folding chairs I repurposed with cute weatherproof fabric seats and a few coats of spray paint. The chairs are fine, but the umbrella promptly cracked when it blew over during a very bad storm.

Someday, in the not too distant future I hope, the deck will be bigger and become a real extension of the house. But until then, I cannot get too involved with my outdoor day-cor. I’ve had my eye on DWR’s Cafe Chairs for a while; you know, the ones in every outdoor cafe in the land? They were affordable before, but now they’re 15-percent off and free shipping. Shipping’s always a bitch, but it’s their 10th birthday, so yay for that. I’m finally going to get a couple of those to go with the other pair of chairs, and am now in search of a side table and maybe something a little bigger. Oooh, something ottoman-like, but not. No cushions, I can’t deal with that right now.