10.29.2012

Creating a Beautiful Home

I am giving away my own copy of "Creating a Beautiful Home" by Alexandra Stoddard because it worked for me. (Contest is over now)

I read this book about two years ago and as I went through the chapters I kept a list of potential changes I would like to make.  Each chapter discusses a room and has a list of ideas for your own home.

I love to read books like these, but rarely do they have suggestions that might really work for me.

I know this book did, because when I picked up the book last month and looked over my list, I discovered that I had implemented almost all of the (practical) changes!  I had forgotten that I even had the list.  Writing things down truly is powerful.

This is when I knew that I had to give this book away to bless someone else.

If you are a subscriber and would like a chance to win this book on November 10, 2012, please leave me a comment and I'll put your name in the hat.

Jezebel?

Once I left work to stay home with my baby, none of my clothes fit.  No more cute suits.  No sleep, therefore no make-up...you many know what I mean.

But a few years ago I met a beautiful woman at my new homeschooling group.  She has a positive attitude, gracious spirit, and an obvious love of her darling husband (DH), but she also dressed cute and stylish.  I, was trying to cover up, spend no money on myself (now living on one income), and dress modestly. 

With Christmas money I went to a fairly expensive chain store.  My money didn't go far but I matched and felt good - navy pants, top & lace overshirt.  I asked my DH how he liked it and he replied, "Nice, but not very sexy."

SEXY?  I'm not trying to be sexy!  I'm going about in the world trying to dress nice and modestly!

But then it hit me - I had lost my ideal - to be sexy for my darling husband.  My beautiful friend was wearing clothes that pleased her husband.  She dressed for him. 

Let's Eat Out by Elvgren
I was finding the modest/sexy dichotomy difficult.  As a mom and a Christian, I wanted to be "angelic."  Not worldly and caught up in fashions.  But MY modest dress was too unbecoming.

As a wife, especially when at home, I needed to be attractive to my husband.  I rarely left the home without make-up, but I'd be a mess until 3:00 pm with all the chores and homeschooling to be done.  I really needed to do better with caring for myself first thing in the morning.  It's cold on winter mornings, so if I wanted to stay in PJs until noon, they needed to be darling pajamas, and/or PJs I could open the door while wearing.

The picture I chose for my blog represents me well.  A brunette pouting that my cooking skills aren't yet up to par (but trying!).  An attractive but fairly modest dress, looking kinda sexy for hubby. I found a pretty undergarment line that matches my personality.  I was horrified at the name, Jezebel, but I love how they make me look. 

My husband  is glad that I am no longer hiding from him, but dressing FOR him.  And as an added plus, I have found that I am more motivated to eat better!

Looking good IS a big part of learning how to "keep house!"

10.20.2012

11 Products That Help Me Keep My House Clean

picture of Audrey Hepburn
 from Fabbrunette.com
1)  Goo Gone.  I lived with an old, sticky mark from masking tape on a wood door for 9 YEARS.  It was there when I moved in. I had tried cleaners and a razor blade but to no avail.  One day my darling child stepped in gum on our front walk.  I got out the "goo-be-gone" (as I called it) and quickly cleaned up his shoe and the sidewalk within minutes.  Then I looked at that sticky mark on the door at zapped it with GOO GONE and it disappeared in seconds.  Nine years and it required a 30-second fix.  Also works GREAT on removing stickers from items.  Highly recommend you keep some in your cabinet!

2) Shark's PURPLE floor sweeper.  I use this several times a week to vacuum my entire house within 30 minutes.  This is for hardwood and vinyl floors - NOT for carpets.  I do use it on area rugs and kitchen rugs, but it would not clean a carpeted house.  I think it holds a 45 minute charge and has a nifty release button for dumping the dust (but I still have to pick up the bottom sweeper and dump that, too).  Do not get their GREEN one!  It doesn't hold a charge the full 30 minutes, it doesn't have the release button and it broke after 3 months (3 days after Target's return policy expired).  So don't buy these at Target.  Get it at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon.  SO worth the money because it is easy, light, and gets the job done quickly (I hate to vacuum with a heavy vacuum.)  One problem is that after 3 years my handle broke in half.  Now it is "kid-sized" and whenever our neighbor's daughter is over I just have to say, "Who wants to vacuum?" and they both come running, fighting over who gets to vacuum which room!  Well worth the money!

3) Magic Eraser.  Incredible!  Pencil marks on walls that were there for 3 years gone in minutes!  A wall that had an ugly mark from moving furniture disappeared in seconds!  Soap scum from the shower doors gone in less than a minute!  I do wear gloves when I use this product.  I use the Target brand.  So worth having on hand.

4) Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser Mop.  When we put in a white vinyl kitchen floor I cried that night, knowing I'd made a huge mistake.  I wanted to lighten up the room.  But I realized that this floor, that I thought I was so careful in choosing for its "cush" and finish, was going to be a big pain in the neck to keep clean.  It was.  We use at least 3 rugs near the fridge, stove and sink.  Mopping has been a nightmare. Until I found Mr. Clean and his Magic Eraser Mop.  I buy a new head for $8 every month at Target and it is money well spent because my floor sparkles after I use it!

5) Command brand Damage-Free Hanging.  Someone left a package of these on the free table and they were an answer to prayer!  Seriously!  I had been asking God how to handle my cord problem in my front room because the mess distressed me.  It took me longer than I care to admit how to decipher the instructions on the package, but once I tried to assemble, it was a cinch.  I immediately put these little white hangers every few inches on my white baseboard and attached the white cord into them and it magically blended into the wall and I no longer see the cords.  I also hung up a red streamer birthday banner that covers the entrance to my son's room that children love to run through.  Each year it fell down with the thumbtacks.  This year - perfection.  Birthday swirling streamers that hang from our dining room that always fell when the a/c or heat went on now stay up without a problem.  And the little clips are also EASILY removable when you want to remove them!  I am SO impressed with them.

6)  Self-Stick Felt for the bottom of chairs, dressers, tables, magazine racks, and pretty much anything that sits on the floor.  If you didn't already know, felt on the bottom makes anything heavy easy to move across a room.  I like to clean behind my bed headboard.  Simple now.  Change the furniture around?  No problem - it just glides across my hardwood floors.  Dining room chairs - much easier to get in and out of.  I paid $3.50 for a box of 113 at Big Lots.

7) Foaming Bleach.  I have been battling mold and grime in my shower because I can't stand bleach.  My dear friend, of whom I asked advice because her house is always immaculate and she had recommended to  me #2 and #3, said I'd have to buckle down and do it.  She recommended foaming bleach (I used the one with the happy Scrubbing Bubbles on them).  I sprayed and left it on for 3 hours.  Then I rinsed and sprayed again.  Left for 2 hours.  Rinsed and used #8 for the final job.  She said I might have to do this for 7 days.  But I don't see why.  It's so clean!  But perhaps it won't last?  Time will tell.  (By the way, she recommended CLR for some other problem spots that I haven't got to yet.)

8) Bleach Grout Pen by Tilex.  This was perfect for filling in the the spots that #7 didn't work on.  Loved it!  I used #3 on the shower doors.  I have a new shower! 

9) Razor Blade.  I use my razor blade in the kitchen whenever I am on a long call.  My cabinets are from the 1970's - a pretty wood, but was covered in grease when I moved in.  Took me YEARS to remove it all.  I scrubbed with several products and then finally got out the blade.  I use it to scrape off grime, easily chip off dried food splatters, specks of old paint from window glass, and grime from corners.  One night on the phone I scraped my entire bread board (which is not used for food - it's an extended counter space).  Has saved my sanity many times.

10) Playtex's Dishwashing Gloves.  I like this brand because it is thick.  (However, I still cannot wash knives in them.)  Because I keep my gloves out I am much more likely to clean up the kitchen timely after meals and snacks.  I detest dirty dishes, but with my gloves it is no longer a big deal.  My kitchen is much cleaner when I use them.

11) Vinegar.  I no longer use white vinegar in my cooking, but I sure use it in my cleaning!  Mirrors, glass (careful not to spray on wood), down sinks with baking soda, and as a fabric softener in my clothes washer.

I have also found that wearing a beautiful and becoming apron for cleaning (not cooking) helps me keep in "clean" mode and keeps me from getting side-tracked.

I hope this helps you!