Cleaning, Organizing, & Eco

Put A Lid On It

Inspiration can come from the strangest places, so I wasn’t even surprised when I saw some cool old canning jars in a recent Pottery Barn catalog and needed to take a closer look. Upon closer inspection I realized they were antique bell jars filled with shells, sand, and even just ocean water with fancy labels that said things like “Mikonos” and “Fiji”. Adorable. So I looked around and realized I had at least one or two keepsakes from each and every vacay that John and I have spent together. Why not put them on display instead of in a box in the closet? So after a trip to Michael’s to pick up 6 canning jars (for just six smackaroos) I returned home and slipped the items into little labeled jars of my own.

Now we’re hardly as posh as the imaginary family who loves in the Pottery Barn catalog, so our labels (hand written with a fine point Sharpie on clear tape) boast locales like San Diego, Rehoboth, Madeira Beach, Alaska, and the Outer Banks.

But they’re just as charming lined up on a shelf in our sunroom near the back door (which we pass through at least five times a day). And it’s nice to glance at our little vacation time capsules on a daily basis instead of keeping them out of sight (and out of mind). I even made a little reminder of our old life in Manhattan complete with our last MetroCard, a buy-ten-get-one-free hot dog card from our favorite little hole in the wall, and matching business cards from the advertising agency where we met.

It’s nice to know that even when we go somewhere sans sand and shells, we can still stick little keepsakes (a ticket stub, a matchbox, a hotel key) into a $1 jar to fondly remember the trip. In fact, to document our Alaskan honeymoon, I used a rock from a hot stone massage that we enjoyed along with a tiny ceramic bear from a craft fair in Anchorage. I can’t wait until our modern day snow globe collection takes over our entire three-tiered bookcase… better start planning some more vacations. And since everyday objects work just as well as shells and sand, it’s no big deal if we don’t make it to Mikonos or Fiji for a while. Whew.

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Move It Or Lose It

This weekend we helped John’s sister and brother-in-law move into their fabulous new home (that they just happened to design themselves) and along with some obligatory back pain we took away some pretty fail-safe moving advice. And now that we’re in the know, we figured we’d share the wealth. After a picture of their breathtaking new kitchen of course:

Moving Tip #1: Clean top to bottom. When you’re cleaning something in your new home (like the kitchen cabinets before you load in all your dishes, or a closet before you add the linens), it only makes sense to start from the top. This way any spare dirt or dust that doesn’t stick to your rag won’t end up dirtying the shelf below that you’ve already cleaned.

Moving Tip #2: Touch things once. If you’re carrying a huge box of bathroom stuff, it makes no sense to toss it into the foyer assuming that you’ll get to it later. If it’s already in your arms, you might as well take it to its final destination. Why bend over twice?

Moving Tip #3: Save the seated tasks for last. It’s much easier to rest when you’re doing stationary projects that can be accomplished in a seated position, so save folding clothes or organizing drawers for the very end of the day when you can pull up a chair or sprawl out on the floor. (Here’s one of the last projects that I completed while perched on a stool: installing dish dividers into their island’s fabulously deep drawers).

Moving Tip #4: Don’t bother unhanging clothes. Unless you’re moving across the country and have to ship your items, drop your clothes (hanger and all) into oversized black garbage bags. Instead of wrestling hangers and clothing into a restrictive box (or taking the time to unhang and rehang everything) it should only take a few giant bags and a few minutes to pack your whole closet. Then simply deposit the bags into the right room, and you’ll have everything back into the closet in about 60 seconds.

Moving Tip #5: Toss stuff you’re so over. You’ll probably move lots of stuff that wasn’t even good enough for your old house (so you sure as heck won’t be whipping it out in your new one). Even though you moved it all the way to the new place, cut your loses and toss it (or donate it) before it takes over the closets and cabinets in your new abode. From editing glassware and silverware to old clothes and even bathroom stuff as you unpack, you’ll feel fabulous about your fresh start (look at all the stuff Emily and Todd left out for the garbage man).

Now it’s your turn to share the wealth. Tell us your favorite moving tips for the next time we get roped into helping our seemingly nomadic family and friends. And stay tuned for the stunning “after” photos of their amazing new home in the coming weeks…

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