Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Pursuit of Tidy ~ No. 1

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Ah, the perpetually tidy home – highly sought after, rarely attained.  While having a tidy home is not everyone’s top priority, I have yet to meet an individual who adamantly prefers to live in chaos.

Admittedly, I have often sat on the tidier end of the spectrum.  Yes, there is photographic evidence to suggest that as a child, some of my favourite toys were of the “homekeeping” variety, most notably, my Black and Decker Junior Dustbuster.  I would often take it with me on family trips, play dates and on one occasion, to school for show and tell (I wasn’t the most popular child).

This enjoyment of all things “homekeeping” has followed me into adulthood.   When my husband and I moved into our first apartment together, I celebrated the occasion by picking up a copy of Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook.  For a recent birthday, I excitedly received a new vacuum cleaner and garment steamer from my husband.  When Marie Kondo released her now famous book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I purchsed a hard copy for my bedside table and an electronic copy for on the go (what if someone asks me for tidying advice on the street?)  For better (or worse), some are just born with the tidy gene.

However, tidy gene or not, life can be a tornado of deadlines, dance lessons, dinner, dishes and diapers.  The pace of daily life does not often allow the time necessary to maintain a perfect home.  The pursuit of perfection may leave you feeling inadequate, so I suggest that you instead, pursue tidy.  Wherever you sit on the tidy spectrum, there are simple habits you can adopt that will significantly impact the look of your home.  The best part, many of them only take a few minutes a day.  They key is consistency.

In the first of what I expect will be a reoccurring series on this blog, I present to you, four simple ways to pursue tidy:

Make the Bed 

“Why make the bed now, when I am just going to unmake it later?” Chances are you have either heard this phrase or uttered it yourself at some point over the course of your life.  While it may seem too small to matter, starting your day by making the bed gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment.  It is a quick win!  You feel organized, empowered and ready to take on the day.

The practice of tidying your bed linens each morning is what Charles Duhigg refers to as a “keystone habit”, meaning that it can trigger a domino effect, spawning other positive practices throughout your day.  In his book, The Power of Habit, Duhigg notes that, “making your bed every morning is correlated with increased productivity and a greater sense of well-being.”  It’s not that a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending, but somehow, those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.

Ultimately, the theory is, that once you adopt the habit of making your bed, you will crave a little more organization and overall tidiness in the rest of your home and in life.  I don’t know about you, but that is certainly a risk worth taking!

There is a fine art to bed making (cue my husbands laughter).  If you are interested in upping your game in this area, here are a few resources from one of my favourite homekeeping gurus, Martha Stewart:

How to Properly Make a Bed

How to Make a Bed

Clear and Clean the Bathroom Counters and Sink

Does the thought of cleaning your bathroom send chills up your spine?  Like many, this is one of my least favourite tasks because the bathroom is home to grime, hair, sneaky bacteria and fungus.  This coupled with regular daily traffic; bathrooms can get out of hand quickly.

However, there is one thing you can do everyday that will up the tidy value of this room.  Once you are finished your daily preparation (shower, hair, makeup etc.), take a few minutes to put away your beauty products and toothbrush and wipe down the sink and countertop.  Whether you decide to bust out that trusty Lysol wipe or use your favourite natural solution with a microfiber cloth, the choice is yours.  My current favourite is “The Ladies” Bathroom Cleaner by Murchison-Hume.  I recently came across this brand and am obsessed with the natural cleaning power, the gorgeous australian white grapefruit scent and the countertop-worthy packaging!

While this is not meant to replace your regular bathroom deep clean, these few minutes will help to keep your bathroom looking its tidiest.

Clean the Dishes, Counters and Sink

The household kitchen was originally designed for preparing meals; however, over the past few decades, this room has morphed into the epicenter of the home.  Kitchens now have a multitude of uses – a place for gathering with family and friends, a makeshift home office, an entertainment center and a children’s art museum to name a few.

Essentially, the kitchen is the heart of the home, which also makes it the room that sees the most traffic and left unattended, the room that can easily become a nightmare.  Picture this, you wake up from a restful night sleep (like a Tylenol PM kind of sleep), put on your luxurious robe and head to the kitchen to make that first cup of coffee.  As you stroll into the kitchen, that smile is smacked right off your face by the load of dirty dishes sitting in the sink, last evening’s spaghetti sauce, now dried like crazy glue to your countertop and with the amount of crumbs your slippers have just picked up, you could make a loaf of bread.  Quel Nightmare! 

To awake in better spirits, try spending a few minutes each evening tidying your kitchen.  If available, enlist the help of a family member or friend to finish this task more quickly.  Following dinner, load your dishes and utensils in the dishwasher and clean all hand washable items in the sink.  Next, tackle the countertops and sink with your preferred surface cleaners.  For my granite countertops, I use Method’s Daily Granite and for my sink, I use a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  While regular white vinegar will do, I don’t always care for the odour.  So, often I will mix a little of The Laundress’ Scented Vinegar in with my water instead.

Trust me, the few minutes spent refreshing your kitchen each evening will ensure a brighter morning.

The Nightly Tidy

To all my readers living in clean and tidy homes, I salute you.  For all those who do not, this one is for you.  If you adopt only one new habit in your pursuit of tidy, this should be it!

All you need is a basket and 15 minutes.  Set a timer, pick up that basket and make your way around the home, picking up what doesn’t belong.  The dog toy in the middle of the living room, throw it in the basket.  The mail on the dining room table, throw it in the basket.  While you’re at it,  pull the television remotes out of the couch and put them in their proper home.  Straighten those throw pillows and fold that blanket.  If you still have a few minutes, put your shoes in the closet and hang up your jacket.  Mark my words, you will be shocked to find how much you can accomplish in 15 uninterrupted minutes.

Need a little motivation?  Go out and find a beautiful basket that you can use for your nightly tidy.  The great thing about a nice basket is you can leave it out all the time.  If one evening, you only have five minutes to tidy, you can leave the basket with those items out and not worry if company comes over unexpectedly.  The items are corralled and ready to be put away the next night.  Just remember, the items have to eventually be put away!  Otherwise, your tidying basket will become an untidy mess. A few baskets below for inspiration:

Jacquelyne Basket – Pottery Barn

Sierra Basket – Crate and Barrel

Branas Basket – Ikea 

Wherever you are in your pursuit of tidy, embrace it.  If you are the tidiest of tidy, then put your feet up and enjoy your handiwork.  If you aren’t quite there yet, don’t fret! A few minutes a day and you’re on your way!

Embrace Autumn

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William Cullen Bryant once referred to autumn as the year’s last, loveliest smile and I could not agree more.

For those who are fortunate to experience all four seasons, you will know that autumn marks the annual transition from summer to winter.  The evenings arrive noticeably earlier, temperatures begin to cool and pumpkin spice is abundant.

The word autumn is derived from the ancient Etruscan root autu – and has within it connotations of the passing of the year.  It was then borrowed by the neighbouring Romans and became the Latin word autumnus.  Before the 16th century, harvest was the term often used to refer to the season; however, as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns, the word harvest lost its reference and autumn as well as fall began to replace it as a reference to this time of year.

While the past few days in Southern Ontario have been dull, wet and grey, we have enjoyed some beautiful autumn weather and I am hopeful for more before the season ends.  From Thanksgiving to Halloween and every apple orchard and pumpkin patch in between, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.  With that said, here are a few of my favourite ways to embrace autumn:

Visit your local farmer’s market, apple orchard or pumpkin patch – While some associate farmer’s markets and fresh produce with spring and summer months (especially in Canada), autumn brings its own bounty to enjoy.  Apples, pumpkins and squash… oh my! For me, it wouldn’t be autumn without a trip (or several) to my local apple orchard.  That first bite of a crisp, fresh apple right from the tree sends me straight into autumn fever.  Why not visit your local orchard, patch or market this weekend?  Not only is it a lovely way to enjoy time with family and friends, but it is also a delicious and healthy way to add variety to your autumn menu.

Decorate your home – In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving a few short weeks before Halloween, so needless to say, there is quite a lot of opportunity to decorate one’s home for the season.  Whether you enjoy recreating an episode of The Walking Dead in your front yard, or you prefer a more simplistic, natural approach, there is décor for everyone’s taste.  One of my favourite ways to decorate for the season is to create simple tablescapes comprised of miniature gourds and pumpkins.  This is a beautiful and easy way to add a touch of autumn to your home without breaking the bank, though zombies are fine too (Yikes!).  Need some inspiration?  Look no further than Southern Living Magazine’s Fabulous Fall Decorating Ideas.

Give thanks – With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there is no better time to reflect on all that you are grateful for.  In the hustle and bustle of life, many of us (myself included), too often focus on what we do not have or what is not going well.  Whether you reflect privately in a journal or share more openly with family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner, there is nothing better for the soul than taking time to acknowledge all that is right and good in your life.  Better yet, take this one step further and begin a daily or weekly gratitude journal.  If you record three things you are thankful for everyday, by this time next year, you will be able to reflect on over a thousand things to be thankful for.

Sip some soup – As summer nights give way to cooler temperatures, I often find myself craving food that is warm and soothing.  Most often, I desire hot soups bursting with fresh, seasonal vegetables and spices.  Butternut squash, lentil kale – not only do these soups sound like coziness in a bowl, but they are also loaded with nutrients that will do your body good.  Here are a few recipes that may tickle your taste buds.  The question is, which one will you make first?

Admire the fall foliage – While each season brings its own unique beauty, there is something majestic and enchanting about turning leaves.  As splashes of red, orange and yellow begin to dot the tree lines where I live, I can see why many argue that fall is the most photogenic season of the year.  Over the coming weeks, I plan on taking every opportunity I can to get outside and admire the gorgeous hues.  For my Canadian friends who would like to maximize their viewing experience, Jane McLean provides her take on the best places to view fall foliage in Canada.  To my American friends, check out what Forbes deems the 10 Must-Visit Fall Foliage Destinations.

Grab a scarf – The crisp change in the air often marks a welcome change to my wardrobe.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore my summer dresses, but come October, I am ready to pull out my luxurious scarves, riding boots and flannel shirts (yes, I own flannel).  I love introducing the season’s deeper hues into my wardrobe and this year’s colour trends are no exception.  Pantone’s Fashion Colour Report for Fall 2015, “weaves neutrals with a range of bold colour statements and patterns to reflect a landscape of hope, fun, fantasy and all things natural.”  This season, I find myself drawn to the colours, “Marsala”, “Biscay Bay” and “Cashmere Rose”.  Visit Pantone’s Colour Report here and find your favourite colours for this season.

Enjoy a seasonal delicacy – In Canada, Starbucks released their Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) on September 8th, and since that time, the length of the line at my local Starbucks is evidence that we all enjoy our seasonal treats.  Perhaps, you are a PSL fanatic or maybe you prefer a delicious apple fritter or donut from a vendor at your local fall fair.  Whatever your preference, go ahead and indulge!  Sip that steaming cup of apple cider or eat that second slice of pumpkin pie.  Enjoy, for much like the PSL, autumn does not last forever!

However you choose to embrace autumn, I wish you a plentiful and colourful season!