Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to Clean Everything


I have been seeing tons of blog posts lately about how to clean, what to use, and how often to do it (otherwise known as a cleaning schedule). A good cleaning goes hand-in-hand with the decluttering mission I have set for myself for the next 40 days. But it's the attitude about cleaning that I think most often needs work. 

When I first realized I was going to be a mom of two--and how in the world was I ever going to get it all done then?!? ;)--a good friend recommended FlyLady. She has lots of folksy advice about how to get your house in order, starting with shining your kitchen sink. I followed her daily all through my pregnancy and long after little Bela was born. I still rely on several of her strategies. One of my favorites is the Weekly Home Blessing Hour. My interpretation of it is that 1) there is NO wrong way to clean. 2) if you do the same things every week you'll see improvement.

Calling this chore a "home blessing" has charm, too. A clean house is a gift I give to my family. It's not about impressing the neighbors or winning some imaginary award. It has real purpose: Dusting means we won't all be sneezing. Vacuuming means we can play on the floor. Mopping means we won't stick to the floor. Heheh.

I am still working on getting my schedule under control so I can have a regular day & time for this routine. Here, though, is my rough list, broken down by frequency.
Ideally, the monthly chores would be broken down and done either weekly or bi-weekly. Most of what is on this list is what I do, although some of it is still just a goal. The empty spaces are for notes. If you would like me to send you my list as a PDF printable, just shoot me an email at marycarriepickett {at} gmail {dot} com.  Have fun cleaning!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pop of Color Project

One of my personal resolutions (inspired by Ben Franklin's 13 virtues) is to do One Project at a Time around our house. Right now I am working on our main living area. Not only is this the living room but also the kitchen, dining area, and entryway/home office. It's a busy little space! 

Last fall we upgraded our living room with a big beautiful sectional in a neutral fabric. My thinking then was that there were so many colorful toys we didn't need (couldn't handle??) any more pattern or color. 

But now it is February. I have spring fever! And a little pop of color is exactly what we need. 

I decided to make over the corner of our living room nearest the kitchen. There was nothing on the walls, and at its highest point the ceiling soars to the roofline. Since I love the look of gallery walls, I planned to do something symmetrical with six total framed prints.  The bottom of the top row would be inline with the top of the doorway in order to maximize the high ceilings.

With that design in mind and a sale paper advertising up to 50% off frames plus a coupon for an additional 25% off, I skipped off to Michael's. I ended up finding a set of frames & mats in the clearance section. The kit contained two 8x8, two 8x10, and one 11x14 frames. All for $20! I bought two sets (couldn't use my 25% off coupon. grrr!) and re-imagined my project with the 8x10s both above and below the 11x14s. I set aside the 8x8s for another project.

Filling the frames
I wanted a different look for inside the frames than what I have done in the past (either family photos or kids' drawings). Using images I have come across via Pinterest I selected a few favorites, and made this collage to see how they looked together. 

Using Target's online photo center, I ordered the four images as 5x7 prints. Since it was Saturday night and I wanted to do some shopping anyway, I selected in-store pickup. *I'll be honest, the resolution on some of the prints was not great. This didn't bother me since I just used those to go higher up on the wall.

For the two 11x14 frames, I used pages from a book that Bela no longer wanted but that I just adore Madeline and the Cats of Rome. There was lots of blue, yellow, and green in the pictures, which was just the spot of color I wanted.

Rounding out the space is a purple polka-dotted phalaenopsis I bought during the orchid show at our university over the weekend. It's sitting on top of some coffee table books in that corner, and its height closes the distance between what's on the floor and the pictures on the wall. 

Overall, the corner has been transformed into a bright, happy spot!

Phalaenopsis: $25
Frames (two sets): $40
Prints (approx.): $6
Madeline book: already had
Total cost of project: $71. 

Sharing here...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: With Blue


I am in love with the fun pattern on this fabric.

And this one, too. Both are cheap--only $8.98 per yard.

I think they would look great in a room with some stripes like the one above.

Here's what they look like together:

It won't work in our main living area, but maybe in our someday basement remodel....

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Hobby, Blogging

 “Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great.” 
Comte de Bussy-Rabutin

There's so much on my mind that I want to share with you all today. Where to begin... 

Today is my first day in the office after a mid-winter break. The kids were off of school for President's Day on Monday, and yesterday too. I stayed home with them, knowing I could work harder today and the rest of the week to make up for it. 

One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah from Clover Lane, has a semi-regular feature called "Ordinary Days"--just a snippet of life in her family of eight. I think it might be inspired by Katrina Kenison's memoir The Gift of an Ordinary Day, which I highly recommend reading. 

For me, these four-day weekends at home with my kids are the most EXTRA-ordinary of days. The very best of my life. We didn't do anything earth-shattering. We barely left the house. But it was memorable. Seeing Griffin complete (five days early!) his book report on the life of Benjamin Franklin made me glow with pride. Bringing up from the basement Bela's little kitchen and seeing how much fun she had making pretend smoothies filled me with my own delight. 

Now for you doubters. There was plenty of down-time. Normal life still happened. There was sibling squabbling and too much screen time (for all of us as I escaped into Facebook posts and pinning). But the comfort I feel after a few days at home, unscheduled, is what the purpose of our home should be. 

I also happened to find something yesterday, like a gem amidst rocks, that was the answer I'd been looking for. Because since the start of this year, I've been asking myself "why am I doing this??" Why am I sharing our home, our lives, and our messy closets with people I don't even know. But then I found an article about Simple Mom founder Tsh Oxenreider. If you are not familiar with Simple Mom, it is a mini-empire composed of bloggers writing on a range of interesting subjects. 

She started it all as a hobby after being diagnosed with depression. This bit resonated with me, I guess, because I'm not so thrilled that when I go home tonight there will be no homework to help with and no "smoothies" to pretend to drink. Our house will be unnaturally quiet until Sunday at lunchtime. 

Caveat: I am not depressed, but I did start this blog at the end of the worst of times. The second year of divorce--and shared custody--was the hardest for me, I think, looking back. It's like the analogy of holding a glass of water. For a little while, it's no big deal. You hold it, and eventually it feels heavy but that makes you feel strong. Then you start to kind of wish something was underneath your arm, holding it up, besides air and grim willpower. Then it starts to slosh and spill, and you have to figure out what the heck to do with that glass.

So this blog, stupid as it may sometimes seem, is my hobby. It's sort of fun. More importantly, it's my way of proving to myself that I have overcome the sadness of this situation. I am divorced. I made a poor choice by marrying a man who did not share my values, and now I live with the repercussions. But every day is also a chance to live more in line with what I know to be right, and that is GOOD. It's not an ideal life, for sure, but we are thriving.

Also, it strikes me as funny that I started a blog about home improvement as a DIY for my psyche.  :)  

For those of you less comfortable with these touchy-feely posts (and I'm right there with ya), I'll post about something decor-related tomorrow. Just wanted to get this monkey (of why I'm writing this dumb little blog) off my back...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

40 Bags: Day 2

 "Comparison is the thief of joy."
Teddy Roosevelt

I didn't fill any bags yesterday for my 40 Days Project. I did read through all of the inspiration posts, though, and picked up some tips to share. 

Number one is to be yourself. Authenticity. If you are doing your own 40 day/40 bag project, then what your house looks like at the end should make YOU happy. It's not about doing what everyone else is doing or having what everyone else has. We all have different schedules, different levels of busy, and different priorities and needs.

For me, it's easy enough to fall into the trap of looking too much out there, and not enough inside me. In fact, doing projects can be a distraction of its own, leading away from the intentionality I want to create. It's a slippery slope between inspiration and comparison.

My top pins from last week. I still love them, even if I won't paint any of my doors purple, make a succulent wreath, or visit Disney this year.

My second favorite tip is how much good an old-fashioned cleaning can do to change your perspective about your house. I'll write more about that later...

Are you doing a 40 days/40 bags project? Have you started, or are you still planning like I am? Please share!

Monday, February 18, 2013

40 Days: Decluttering This House

Happy Presidents Day! The kids and I are home today. Work is closed, school is closed. Our house is a mess... 

I think it's natural. We are stuck indoors more because it's winter. There was a huge influx of stuff a few weeks ago. Life is busy. 

But it is not how I want to live.

So, even though it's a little late, I'm going to start 40 Bags in 40 Days. Here's more explanation on what it is. Go through the links. They really are genius. 

Maybe I'll have some inspiration or tips as I do this thing. Maybe I won't. Hopefully I will have a lighter, tighter house by the beginning of April (Easter is on March 31 this year).

p.s. I am hoping to read this book to the kids today in honor of the holiday. Otherwise, it will  end up in the "To Go" pile.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday I'm In Love #5

Happy Friday! I hope everyone is recovered from yesterday's love fest. My valentine and I celebrated by going out to a new restaurant for a delicious meal. Despite the fact that we gave up sweets for Lent, we also ate some chocolates while watching our new favorite television series, Elementary. It's a modern day Sherlock Holmes with Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy from Trainspotting!) as recovering heroin addict Sherlock and Lucy Liu as his addiction companion Dr. Watson. {Could I have used some commas in that last sentence? I don't know and I don't care, let's move on to the shopping!}

Joss & Main has a curated sale by decorator and design blogger Amanda Eck. I "met" her a few weeks ago via another blog when I discovered we both have a passion for Kidz Bop. Such a cool mom! Once I visited her blog I learned that we also both love Starbucks, and she is super nice. I was quite certain then that I would find loads of stuff to love in her sale--and I did! I've selected a few pieces by room, and I present them here for you to enjoy.  :)

This selection would be for our master bedroom. The colors are in line with what we have now, and I like the mix of masculine & feminine energies in these three pieces. We already have a bolster in a zebra print so I think that would coordinate nicely with the ottoman, which I would place in front of the turquoise settee. We don't actually have room for all these pieces, though, so moving on to the kitchen...


This striped rug from Dash & Albert is an indoor/outdoor rug, which is a style I am pretty fond of. I really want a runner for in front of our sink/dishwasher to protect the hardwood from my sloppy way of loading said dishwasher. I also have a serious thing for turquoise dishes. This collection is from Paula Deen.

This last vignette is for the living room. I've been trying to figure out how to add in a punch of color. What better way than throw pillows. These two would add some fresh green to our otherwise overly neutral space. The gold end table would also add a nice, light touch. I am obsessed with gold & brass pieces lately, which just goes to show "never say never" as I thought those were so passe a few years ago.

You can click over to the sale here to see prices, availability, and the rest of the collection. And go here to visit Amanda Carol at Home. Have a rockin' good weekend, y'all...

Just like him, I had bleached white hair then, and now I'm au naturel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Source for Swanky Elegance

I saw this picture in a Crate & Barrel catalog recently, and it was as if my two worlds had collided!

The top book in this boozy vignette is the Illinois Reports, the official publication of that state's Supreme Court. Michigan has its own version, and most of important of all, I know how you can get a copy.  How giddy are you right now???

Called the Index to Special Sessions, it is sold for only $35 by the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. Free shipping!

Anyone who is an attorney or loves an attorney should get a copy. Anyone (and, really, don't I mean everyone??) who LOVES this picture should get one!

The stories inside the special edition are pure gold! This book contains the official transcripts of the special sessions of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1988 through 2003. Memorials, groundbreakings, portrait dedications, investitures... All inspiring stories of leadership and the personal stories of the justices who shaped Michigan's legal heritage for the last quarter century. Told by those who know them best: their families, friends, and colleagues. 

*I work for the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, and am paid by them to raise awareness of Michigan's legal heritage, although they may not have meant this way...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy birthday, house!

Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of the day I got the keys to our house!!! And the desire for a new house has never been stronger... I didn't actually go so far as to call my realtor, but I did do an online search. 

I fell in love with this house. It's an upstairs house (my kids' way of saying two-story). Near friends. Within walking distance of my alma mater. There's a tree in the front yard, perfect for a tire swing. 

I would take off the storm door and paint the wooden door green like the shutters. I'd clean up the shrubbery, re-seed the lawn, and edge the walkway. Already it would be such an improvement. 

Or so I thought until I accidentally drove past it today. I had pictured it being in one neighborhood but it was actually in another, which was disappointing. Then, I saw what bad repair the exterior was in. For sure it would need new siding. Possibly new windows. And who knows what else that can't be covered over with style (things like plumbing, HVAC, insulation, chimney...). The only bonus was that the garage was larger than I thought and there's a third story. Can you say dedicated floor for a playroom??

Of course, then there are the interior photos. 

First, the good. I love this fireplace, and I can picture this room decorated with our sofa and a big shag rug. A pair of wingback chairs with white slipcovers would look great in front of the window. 

The entry is small, but how classic with the staircase right there. {By the way, ALL of the light fixtures look original to when the house was built in 1936. This is the only cool one. I dig how it looks like a disco ball, certainly indicating that this house could be the party house.}

Then there's the seriously out-of-date kitchen, which I felt I could work around. The brown range looks kind of coppery, like all the elite brands were unveiling a few years ago. I would paint the walls a rich, contrasting lapis lazuli. And save save save for a kitchen remodel.

This is how I imagine the kitchen looking after my remodel. It was part of the 2010 Colorado Home of the Year by O Designs. Check out more of the stunning photos here. The blue is lapis lazuli and the chandeliers, white cabinetry, and large wood block island are what I would want to replicate. 

Because then there is this sad photo of the kitchen.

Unbelievably, it all goes downhill from here.   :(

So, on second thought...
Our house... three years ago!

I am appreciating the newness of our house a little more today. Even with its lack of a second story, mature trees, or real neighborhood.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: #4

I'm not gonna lie, I was having trouble motivating myself to get out of bed this morning. So what if it's Friday? I still have to fancy up and commute into work. I have to pay bills today, and just maybe file my taxes. Then there's all the housework waiting for me at home.

But, when I looked out the window at the snowy vista that is our world, I got a little happy. There used to be a snow bunny in my soul and she still smiles whenever she sees big white snowflakes flurrying around. 

In honor of being happy right where I am, today's "Friday I'm in Love" post is dedicated to winter.

images via here; here; here; and here.

Sure, you can't buy any of these things {except that Stormy Kromer center top; isn't it darling?? keep your ears warm and look chic!}. These are the experiences that make life worth living: hot chocolate, sledding, and being outside in nature with a good buddy. The rest of the quote reads "Summer bodies are earned in the winter"--which holds promise to me not just of swimsuits but of warm sun & sand.

And, yes, just yesterday I was wishing for summer or at least late spring. Whatever... I'm fickle. :)  Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Coupla Things About Me...

Inspired by the lovely Emily of Jones Design Company comes today's day-in-the-life post.

Smitten Kitchen

loving: salted caramel anything and the Smitten Kitchen. I am in heaven, thinking about this recipe. This is what kitchens are for (and also why I need to start running...)

reading: Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, and becoming the best-version-of-myself one page at a time, even if it's taken me over a month to read it...

waiting for: a weekend with my lovey catching up on all our favorite shows together. The only big question we have to answer is which show to watch first: Mike & Molly or Elementary.

excited about: Bela and Phil's first daddy-daughter dance next week. :)

trying to: stay warm and stop shivering.

working on: little Happiness Project-like resolutions. Check out Gretchen Rubin being interviewed here. And so excited that Griffin may have chosen to do his next book report on Ben Franklin since it was his virtues chart that inspired her.

enjoying: working from home once a week. bliss!

using: Amazon Prime for free, fast shipping. Valentine's Day is only a week away...

J. Crew cashmere hoodie
Wearing: leggings and a hoodie. does life get better than this?? maybe in a super-soft cashmere hoodie...

Bunkbeds from Rosenberry Rooms; Parsons table desk; Amy Butler Paradise Garden fabric
planning: a fun, colorful re-do of Bela's little girl bedroom...

singing: nothing! I am "fasting" from the radio right now in order to cultivate a quiet mind. No Carrie-oke this week...

needing: a camera...

learning: to make fun collages with PicMonkey {see above}...

listening to: the hum of my computer and the ticking of the clock...

wishing: it was summer already, or at least late spring...

doing: one thing at a time, poorly...

dreaming of: paint and window treatments galore...

Click here for coupon

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Red & Pink Hearts

Bela and I spent the weekend tracing hearts, cutting them out of scrapbook paper, and pasting littler hearts onto bigger ones. Now our handiwork is hanging all over the house. Everywhere I look there are beautiful red & pink hearts, which has gotten me in the mood for Valentine's Day.

Red and pink are such bright, cheerful colors. Which is exactly what I need to get through February!  I'm not sure I would actually do anything permanently with red & pink in our house, but these designer rooms are definitely fun!


I'm crazy right now for some bench/chair seating, and this room is no exception. While pink chairs might not work in the majority of households, this is a fun vignette that totally works. The shades of red in the window treatment and pillows tie the pink mid-century modern chairs into the otherwise neutral space.
Sarah Richardson
This girly bunk bed room was designed by none other than Sarah Richardson. The graphic wallpaper of pink palm trees and flamingoes with the red polka dot pillows and ottoman are dreamy! Since the room is mostly white, the red & pink aren't overwhelming. Since red is one of the lesser used colors for a little girl's room, I am loving its unexpectedness!

The pink interior of this secretary is a nice contrast to the black paint and brass accents. {Doesn't that big ornate brass frame just look so fancy?? LOVE it!} Painting the inside of a piece of furniture is a really good way to incorporate a fun color into an otherwise traditional or neutral space. Not to mention, it would definitely designate this as my desk. ;)

Design Sponge via The Pink Pagoda
For over-the-top color, though, this room takes the cake! I love the mix of bubble gum pink walls and red chairs--pretty much everything in this style should be painted glossy red, in my opinion. It just.looks.amazing! The teensy bit of aqua and green on the table (pitcher & plant) is repeated in the pattern on the chair cushion, which balances the intensity of the room's color.

I'm also excited about this e-book from Positively Present. The ABC's of Self-Love is only $8 and features some beautiful graphics that could be printed and hung for daily inspiration... I'm guessing there are some great insights in here and who couldn't use a little more self-love???

Any fun plans for celebrating LOVE day where you are?? Do tell.  :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday I'm In Love: #3

Catalogs from both Pottery Barn and West Elm arrived in my mailbox this week -- with lots of gorgeous items and good tips inside! Some of my favorites are the focus of this week's Friday I'm In Love.

From top left: West Elm items: wire mesh trash bin $39; curved storage basket $54; modern weave storage collection $39-$89; small rectangle lacquer trays $32 (plus $7 for monogram);  wire terrarium $49-$129. Pottery Barn items: beachcomber tray $31; savannah recycling bin $79; toscano wire basket; and green mercury glass bud vases sold out :(

Baskets are the kings of storage (and they are currently 20% off at Pottery Barn!). In the above collection of images, I love the mixture of natural and industrial provided by the juxtaposition of the seagrass and metal baskets. This provides a good sense of balance, and contributes to a more harmonious home.

As you can see above, when it comes to baskets, I like to have a variety of sizes. A bird's nest-sized basket can contain remote controls in the living room, or makeup brushes or wash cloths in the bathroom. The metal trash can would double as fantastic storage for bottled water or bags of chips in the pantry. Larger baskets like the curved storage basket or savannah recycling bins (which roll!) can hold bulkier items like blankets & pillows, toys, games, or sports equipment. Let your imagination (and the needs of your own home) be your guide!

Trays are another fun option for additional storage. These brightly colored ones from West Elm can be combined & stacked for some bright pops of color, or used on their own. Trays are great for corralling loose items like papers, as well as grouping like items. Use a tray for all of your morning coffee needs, or create a pretty vignette with crystal and candles for Valentine's Day decorating. The best part of trays? They are totally portable so you can easily move it out of the way as needed. 

Ultimately the reason for baskets, bins, and trays is not to stash your stuff (although that works in a pinch!) but to create a soothing visual palette. Seeing a row of similar looking baskets is more calming than looking at a jumble of things, all differently shaped and sized. 

I am also digging terrariums right now for the exact opposite reason. They are such a fun way to bring the grounding elements of nature indoors. Seeing the soil beneath the beautiful green plant reminds me that spring is right around the corner. Big bummer about the green mercury glass bud vase collection, though. Between when I started this post last night and today, they have sold out.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!


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