Monthly Archives: April 2011

Shopping down the bunny trail…

Easter is this Sunday!

With all of the crazy weather we’ve had in the past week, it seems hard to believe that this coming Sunday is the day that represents the full-on break-out-your-gardening-gloves arrival of Spring. I sure hope the Easter Bunny is bringing us some consistent weather this year! Are you ready for the big Bunny’s visit?

The Easter Bunny is believed to have originated in the Southwestern area of today’s Germany. The tradition of Easter Bunny visits was brought to the US by the Pennsylvanian Dutch community in the 1700’s.

Easter postcard, 1907 Image courtesy of Wikipedia

In case the calendar has caught you off guard or your name isn’t Martha and you haven’t been weaving your own Easter basket ribbon since St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve pulled together some bunny shopping finds.

All of the pics below are linked directly to their stores. For last-minute shopping ease, most of these stores are probably close to your home, but the stores that aren’t have great shipping reliability. Better find your hippity hoppitty, Easter is on it’s way!

Salt & Pepper shakers

Small bunny topiary

Vintage Bunny dinnerware

Modern rabbit wall clock

"Bunny Hop" game

Sisal bunny

Decorative pillow

Bunny sundial

Classic print by J.J. Audubon

Set of 3 "No Evil" rabbits

"Brer Rabbitt" wallpaper

Felt bunny placemats

Table lamp

Set of 3 German paper eggs

(You’ll notice I didn’t offer links you to any candy. I’m not taking responsibility for those Cadbury creme eggs you are already eyeing “for the kids”.) Do you have any favorite bunny items in your home? What is the best thing the Easter Bunny ever brought you?

People who live in glass houses…

…are very, very lucky.

Since Spring is finally showing itself this year, I though I’d share a weather-related daydream of my own. I long for a conservatory. Here in the US, we have “sun rooms”, which generally means something along the lines of this:

Image courtesy of greatadditions.com

These can be very nice, but I love the idea of a more old-school feel in a glassed in room. A “conservatory”, which is the original British term for  a sun room, looks like this:

Image courtesy of townandcountryus.com

The most famous conservatory ever created was by Sir Joseph Paxton in the United Kingdom. This is him:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Sir Joseph had started as a mere gardner at a stately home in the English countryside. He played around with glass and iron to build small structures to grow and heal ailing plants on the estate. Glass and iron were not considered serious building materials in his day, but his little buildings worked and word spread to other estates. Here are some of his original structures today:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

That’s right! Today, we call his building a “greenhouse”. Sir Joseph then took his knowledge and entered a national architecture competition to build the grand hall of the 1851 Great Exhibition. Other competing architects scoffed at his non-existent credentials and his concept. A building out of glass?! Lunacy! This was his winning design:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Nicknamed “The Crystal Place”,  this conservatory sat in Hyde Park, London. It was an enormous breakthrough in architecture. (Such a breakthrough, today, would be something along the lines of building an entire skyscraper out of plastic.) The building stood 1,848 feet long and 135 feet high, enclosing live, fully grown elm trees that had already been living in Hyde Park. The building’s interior was 772, 784 square feet on the just on the ground floor. Here’s a portrait of the inside, with Queen Victoria presiding over the opening ceremonies:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Here’s another view, which shows the 27 foot tall Crystal Fountain:

Image courtesy of artesmagazine.com

6 million people visited the 1851 Great Exhibition. (That number was equal to 1/3 of the UK’s population at the time.) People came to see the amazing building and all of the wonderful exhibits of technology inside. The biggest, most popular attraction inside? The very first installation of public restrooms. There were massive lines just to see the restrooms. No one had ever considered such a thing before! Imagine.

After the exhibition was over, Victorians began to find ways of bringing the new technology to their own homes. Umm…I mean the conservatories, not the restrooms. Conservatories were a much more pressing need in a fashionable home. Can you blame them?

Image courtesy of townandcountryus.com

Dreamy. I know having my own conservatory is really a dream because I’d still need the perfect garden to gaze out of my conservatory upon, but I can still dream. (Did you read about my other daydream habit?) If I had one of these, I’d spend every weekend morning it, doing things like enjoying the sunshine, eating a lazy breakfast, reading a good book, listening to the sounds coming from the garden.

Then, of course, there is the dilemma of furnishings. Do you make it an airy dining room?

Image courtesy of waterfordconservatories.com

Or do you make it a lovely sitting room?

Image courtesy of townandcountryus.com

Ooh! How about a nearby pool, for early morning dips and late night floating under the stars? Yes, please!

Image courtesy of townandcountryus.com

You could even use the conservatory in a totally different way, like making it your kitchen.

Image courtesy of townandcountryus.com

Maybe you only need a small conservatory off the back of your house.

Image courtesy of theroyalenglishcompany.com

Maybe you don’t want your conservatory attached to the house at all.

Image courtesy of townandcountryus.com

Such decisions! How would use a conservatory? What kind of lazy weekend plans would you move to a new glass room? Have a great weekend!

Save money and trees as you clean

Psst! How much do you spend on paper towels?

Yes, you. How much do you spend?

The very best deal I can find on a regular basis is around $10 for a 8-pack of “big-double-roll-select-a-size” paper towels.

I hate having to buy paper towels over and over again. And I hate unpacking them from that big plastic pack because I hate the smell. It smells all petroleum-ish and I think, “Who am I paying here? How many trees died for this pack of paper towels?” (Try it yourself. Press your nose to a new roll of paper towels and inhale. Mmmmm: oil-companies-getting-rich and deforestation.)

So, I did something about it. And it saves me lots of money. (Do I have your attention now?) It also saves trees. Here’s what I found:

These are microfiber cloths.

Oh, I know you’ve probably heard of these before and seen certain brand versions of these for dusting. But these are different. You can do a lot more that dust with these babies! I’ll show you how. First, let’s go to a store we all have nearby:

Image courtesy of Target

We can all agree on Target as a common store in our lives, right? Now let’s go find some microfiber cloths! Here we are in the mop-broom-dish-brush aisle and here are some microfiber cloths for cleaning:

Okay. There are 4 of them for $10.29. Hmm. I will wash them and re-use them, unlike paper towels. They do come in pretty colors. Is this really the best deal? $2.57 per cloth? Oh wait, there’s another option closer to the dish sponges:

Okay, now that is a “3-in-1” cloth, whatever that means. The packaging seems to suggest I can use it on multiple surfaces…3 of them. It’s still one cloth, though, isn’t it? One cloth for $3. Yeah, that is not a better deal. And I don’t really need the cloth to look green to know it is a green alternative for cleaning. Is that why this one costs more? Let’s look in that one other place I know about:

Now, here we go!

12 towels for $10?! That is more like it! 83¢ a towel is a much better deal!  And they are just grey and white…which is the exact color of the dust buffalos I chase out of the back of the bookshelves. And these are much bigger, too! Twice the size of those other towels. Why are these such a deal?

Oh.

We’re in Target’s Automotive section. These towels are for detailing a car. And they are in ANY store’s automotive section.

Here they are in Wal-mart’s Automotive section:

15 towels for $9.87, which is 66¢ per towel.Remember the first set of four towels we found at Target? Those were $2.57 per towel. Aren’t those marketing people clever?

Well, if you can detail a car with one of these towels, I can really scrub my kitchen with one! And I won’t have to buy more of them every month. And there won’t be anymore paper towel lint caught on my fridge doors when I’m done.

You can use these cloths, any microfiber cloth, with any cleaner. Put some elbow grease into the cleaning and the cloths will solve most challenges. I use a very little amount of water on one to clean my laptop and tv. We use them with furniture polish on the hardwood floors. We’ve even scrubbed the cooking surface of our gas stove with them. Here’s my stack of microfiber towels with its regular companion, my bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s. (You can read all about this little cleaning gem here.)

There are only two things you can not do with these cloths:

  1. DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER ON THEM! It takes away all of their magic-clingy-ness forever. (Yes, that is the scientific term.)
  2. Don’t put them in the dryer. They will shrink in a hot dryer.

How is this solution sounding to you now? It would be cheap to implement, since you were gonna blow some money on those disposable paper towels anyway.

Let’s recap:

  • Cheap purchase price for lots of product
  • Saves you money from future purchases
  • Saves you carrying bulk pack of paper towels to car & house
  • Saves trees
  • Less money to mystery petroleum & tree killing companies
  • Less garbage/recycling to put out on trash day
  • Multiple surface uses
  • Multiple cleaner options
  • Washable
  • Stack nicely in a smaller area in your cupboard

Wow!  Win-win-win-win-win. Do you even need another reason?

Okay.  I’ll leave you today to think about this:

Image courtesy of NASA

Earth Day is next week.

Are you doing anything to pitch in and help this year?

Mood Board: Spare Room to Elegant Office

This room was designed for a newly retired couple. After shedding their busy work week lifestyle, they wanted a new home office to keep their computer gear, printer, etc. all in one place. They wanted an office that made it easy to Skype with their children and grandchildren. They also wanted an office to have decent seating for reading the newpaper and watching a little tv news. Their only real concern was that they didn’t want it to look like an office…

This room had been “the spare room” for several years and had become a catch-all room for many odds and ends. The first thing we had to do was decide what to keep, so we had some sorting to do. We kept the cream colored Roman shade that was already in place over the window. We kept the simple opaque glass overhead light fixture, but we lowered the brightness of the three bulbs. We kept a small rattan coffee table from an older relative’s estate. We kept their three big file cabinets of personal records and bills, we just moved them into the room’s closet. Everything else was donated, relocated or set aside in the garage for their annual neighborhood yard sale.

Both husband and wife had already agreed that they wanted the walls to be blue. We chose this smokey blue as a lovely contrast to the rattan coffee table we already had in the space. The rest of the brown tones in the room were chosen with the same warm tones as the rattan for a sense of continuity.

The first piece of furniture chosen was the armoire. This room had to be an office, but we wanted something practical to hide the printer and their laptops when they weren’t in use. When the doors of this armoire are open, they reveal two cork bulletin boards, the printer, each laptop on its own shelf, a cordless phone, a webcam and a small tv. When the armoire is closed, as you can see, it just looks like a wardrobe.

The area rug was chosen to define the seating area on top of the existing cream carpet. The simple gold-on-gold pattern brings a little dimension to the floor without making it a focal point of the room. The gold accent is repeated in the two wall mirrors which help add a little sparkle to this office. You can also see some gold tones in the two framed prints that the client picked out.

To create a casual feel, two differently-styled seating options were chosen for the room. The leather recliner gives the room a nice masculine note and is great for leaning back with a laptop. The curved, tufted sofa adds a slightly more dressy touch to the room. It also provides the perfect place to Skype with family, using the computers and webcam in the armoire. A variety of throw pillows work with either the chair or the sofa, making the seating that much more adaptable to enjoying a good read.

The two small, curved end tables repeat both the curved pattern in the rug and the warm wood tones in the new armoire and leather recliner. The two table lamps have a classic vase profile and give off an easy glow for reading.

Finally, we wanted to bring some tactile nature into the room. Plants are normally an afterthought for most people, but they can really help bring a relaxed mood to any room, not to mention some natural air purification. For this room, we chose a large ficus to sit on the floor and a simple glass vase to be filled weekly with fresh, seasonal flowers.

By closely examining the goals for the room, the new furniture is both practical and beautiful. By balancing the warm and cool tones within the color palette, the room feels inviting and relaxing.

Unique, affordable, comfortable living.

The Perfect Guest Room, part 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a list of tips for “The Perfect Guest Room”. All of my tips are about making your guests feel really welcome and comfortable. I’ve divided the tips list into two posts so it won’t seem tedious to read. This also allows me to explain my “why” for each point, which I normally just talk through with my clients.

None of these tips are hard or expensive to do. You can implement them a little at a time, as your budget allows, toward a perfect end product. Most of the tips just require a little planning and organization. Once you set up a great guest room, it almost takes care of itself.

Forewarning: I’m gonna give it to you straight in these two lists. I’m gonna tell you all the things guests are too polite to mention. I’m not trying to be rude, either, just honest. Most people think their home is the exception to the rule. Or, that any guests “won’t really notice” all the things about their guest room that the hosts already know, in their hearts, are really not so great.

The Basics

Bed

  • Quality matters. The guest room is not where your old furniture should go to die. Do not put your own old, used mattress in the guest room, especially if you KNOW it is uncomfortable. Replace that old mattress with something comfortable, basic and on sale.
  • Size matters. Less-than-a-queen-size bed is most adult’s version of a bad night’s sleep, even if they are alone in that bed.
  • Use a bed skirt. We all store things under the guest bed. It is prime real estate for storage. Just don’t make you guests look at your jumble of stuff. A good bed skirt in a neutral color (white, cream, etc.) hides a multitude of sins AND all of your Christmas wrapping paper.

Linens

  • Use a mattress pad.  For just the same reasons you use one on your bed, buy a basic one for the guest room and use it.
  • Guest linens should be used in the guest room only. Keep them separate from the rest of the household and they will last longer.
  • Have four pillows on the bed.  One pillow per person just looks like a prison bed nowadays. Decent pillows are only $10 a piece at Target. You won’t have to replace the pillows for at least 5 years, because they are on the guest bed.
  • Two of those four pillows should be “soft” and the other two should be “firm”. Put a firm pillow behind each of the soft ones when you make the bed. Every guest can choose just what they need to sleep well.
  • Always have a spare blanket visible in the guest room. You don’t want guests digging through your linen closet in the dark at 2 am.
  • Keep the bed linens luxurious feeling, but neutral. The bed should be inviting to everyone.  No heavy, dark stripes and no pink, swirling flowers.  Classic, neutral bedding also needs less updating.

Nightstand

  • The bed should have a nightstand on both sides of  it. If you can’t fit in a traditional size nightstand, consider a small but sturdy table as an option. Just make sure there is enough surface space for a book or a pair of glasses.
  • If you have the room, use a small dresser with drawers as each nightstand. You can keep the guest towels and linens in the drawers.
  • Place an easy-to-use alarm clock on one nightstand.  A small travel alarm clock works great here.
  • Place a box of tissues on each nightstand.
  • Place a small, nicely lined trash can next to one of the nightstands.

Lighting

  • Change your ceiling fixture bulbs to be 100w or less. If you have more that two bulbs in your fixture use 75w for each bulb. Remember that a bedroom is for resting and winding down from the day. It seems obvious, but many people light their bedrooms as if they were offices.
  • Put a regular size lamp on each nightstand. Use 75w bulbs for these lamps, since people will only be using them for bedside reading or relaxing.
  • If you are using smaller tables as a nightstands, consider hanging two swing arm lamps on the wall above each table. You can find very reasonable prices on these at Home Depot and Lowes. to find the right hanging height, sit in the bed as if you were sitting up in bed reading. The bottom of the lampshade should be right above your shoulder.
  • Whatever window treatments you choose, make sure they are room darkening.  Allow your guests to sleep in a little, even if you don’t.
  • Visit your own guest room at night with the lights off. Are there any outside lights shining into the room? Fix them! (I once stayed in a guest room which featured the home’s outside architecture lights focused right on the guest room windows. All night I was expecting Batman to arrive.)

$4.50 for 8 wood hangers at Ikea

Clothes Storage

  • Leave clothing hang up space in the guest room closet for your guests to use. 1 foot of clothing rail space per person in a guest room is ideal. (There were actual studies done for this measurement. I’m editing the boring parts out for you.)
  • Provide hangers for this hang up space. Not old, bent dry cleaning hangers. Plastic hangers in a ten pack from Target work great.
  • If you have a dresser in the guest room, you must leave at least one, if not two of the top drawers empty for your guests. No one likes to stand on their head searching for socks in the dark corners of their luggage. You also don’t want to look like a candidate for “Hoarders”.
  • A luggage rack is nice, but floor space in the bottom of the closet for your guest’s empty suitcases works just fine, too.

Bath

  • Regardless of how you share the bathroom in your home, remember to leave space for a guest to hang their towels to dry. This can be a simple hook on the back of their bedroom door.
  • Every guest should have their own color of towels. None of these colors should match the towels you use. This saves everyone from that slightly panicked moment in the bathroom. (You know the one I mean.)
  • When you buy new guest towels, run them through the washer and dryer several times before putting them to use. This gets them nice and soft and really gets rid of any fuzzy towel shedding.
  • Have the guest towels stacked nicely and visible in the bedroom when your guest arrive. This is an old school technique, but it immediately shows your guests that you have planned well for their visit.

Those are the basics!  The rest of the list will feature “easy maintenance” and “simple perks”. Look for that post next week!

With one noted exception, all of the images in this post are courtesy of The Company Store. The Company Store offers a great selection of stylish and affordable products, including eco-friendly bedding products and solutions for those with allergy issues. I recommend them because I’ve used their bedding in my home for years. If you ever find yourself in the LaCrosse, Wisconsin area, they have a great outlet!

Beautiful art, delivered daily

One of the issues my clients often need help with is finding great art for their walls. Big, blank walls can be intimidating. If you missed it earlier, check out my “5 Rules for Art in Your Home“. This post is about one of my favorite art tips, because we look at these items every day without thinking about them. What are they?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Stamps! Have you ever thought of stamps as tiny works of art? You’re not alone if you haven’t. If you do think about it, stamps celebrate the very best ideas, culture, history and individuals of our nations. They are competitively commissioned and designed by talented artists in every country. Why not appreciate stamps as the art they already are?

Did you know that the first adhesive stamp was introduced in 1840? The “Penny Black”, shown above, was created to regulate mail rates and eliminate corruption in the United Kingdom’s postal service. Today, an original mint-condition Penny Black is worth around $2,500.

That is a nice return on an antique stamp, but you would hardly cover a family room wall with old, black stamps, right?  Today we have more options. Here is a close-up from a collection from my home:

My husband and I have been on a lot of road trips across the US and we always cheer when we enter a new state. Cheesy? Absolutely. Fun? Yes! When we saw this collection of stamps come out, it reminded us of all those state border signs. We ran to the post office to  get a full set of our own. It cost us only $17. We had an inexpensive matte cut to make the sheet of stamps fit a standard frame, which kept the whole project cheap.  Here’s the colorful, finished art:

Just to be clear, we don’t collect stamps for their collector’s value.  We collect them because they mean something to us or we find them beautiful. (Sound familiar?  Check out the William Morris quote in this post.) Art is very personal, so we only buy what we like.  Here’s another one of ours:

I also have a set of four sheets I just bought to matte and frame together as a little collection. They all feature icons of historic design, which is right up my alley. All four sheets (of twenty stamps each) cost me $2.00.  If this is not affordable art, I don’t know what is!

Sometimes we find stamps that are just beautiful, even if we don’t have a space picked out for them now. I just store those stamps in a simple album, until we want to change things up a bit on our walls.  Like these:

(You can read more about the images from the stamps above here.)

You can hardly see where the stamps divide in this sheet.  Beautiful!

Do you like this idea for art?  What are images you would like to find as art for your home?  Want to look for more stamps right now?

  • Visit USA Philatelic for a FREE copy of their beautiful, quarterly catalog of all current US Stamps.
  • Visit the US Postal Service shop for special stamp collections, supplies and additional stamp decor items.
  • Visit the American Philatelic Society to find a real wealth of info about stamp collecting and finding older stamps.

Savoring home: You had me at “bacon”.

The title of this post comes from the first time I made this dish for my husband. Since then, it has become an All-Star recipe at our house.  This is the old-school Italian bacon-and-eggs pasta, made of items you probably have in your fridge right now. It is fast, clocking in at around 20 minutes once you have made it a few times.  It is real comfort food. (Did you see the title?)  Without further ado…

CARBONARA

(pronounced: kar-bon-NAR-rah)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound/454 grams of spaghetti or linguine or fettucini — We prefer linguine, but any of these three will work.
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 small cloves or 1 large clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp./3 mL ground black pepper
  • 1 cup + more/235 mL + more of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound/454 grams of bacon, fat trimmed and diced —Canadian/British/European readers: this requires “American” or “streaky” bacon. Americans: don’t bother with turkey bacon here, use the real thing and enjoy it!

Trim most, but not all, of the fat from the bacon.

Preparation:

  1. Start pasta water to boil.  Add a palmful of salt to water, then put in pasta to boil for “al dente” directions on the pasta box.
  2. During pasta boil, cook/render bacon in pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Grate garlic cloves into pan and mix well with bacon.
  4. Continue to cook bacon until crispy, about 6-7 minutes, then remove pan from heat.  Don’t remove bacon from pan or drain.
  5. While bacon is cooking, whisk 5 eggs and pepper well in a small bowl.
  6. When pasta is done, drain, immediately return to hot pot and pour in egg mixture.

    "Raw eggs into cooked pasta?!" Stay with me...I won't make you eat raw eggs!

  7. Use tongs to toss egg mixture thoroughly as it cooks/scrambles in the hot pasta.  Be sure to toss the noodles at the bottom of the pot thoroughly to ensure all the eggs scramble.

    Work those forearm muscles! Keep tossing as the egg cooks on the pasta. You can watch it happen.

  8. Add all bacon and bacon oil to pasta and toss well.

    You need all the bacon oil to help with the tossing. The bacon clings to the bottom of the pot.

  9. Add parmesan cheese and toss well. You can add more cheese here, if you want, but not too much or you won’t taste the bacon.
  10. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • Makes 4-5 servings.
  • Need a veg?  Try a simple green salad with a tangy Italian dressing or mix some freshly cooked green peas into the pasta when you add the cheese.  Delicious!
  • Carbonara does not freeze well, but re-heats from fridge well for up to two days.

Sound easy for your weekend? Let me know how it turns out for you!  The picture are a little unbalanced in the focus/light area, and I’ll try to improve this for future recipes. European readers: I heard your request and added the metric for the ingredients list! Does this format work for you?

Mood Board: Putting “classic” into “mudroom”

This mudroom was designed for a busy family of five, which includes three children in elementary school. It is a wide hallway starting at the back door, passing a large coat closet and a door to a small laundry room, ending at a door into the kitchen. When I was hired, the mudroom had become the home for abandoned book bags, orphaned gloves and wet umbrellas. White walls, white floor tile and the bright glare from a “builder’s special” light fixture did not help the cause. The clients wanted “function” and any “welcome home” we could add along the way…

Color is the first order of business for this white room. This warm green is a classic color that will wear well in a scrub-able eggshell finish. This mudroom is also a transitional room between outside the house into the inside of the living space. This soft green color will smooth the transition by bringing a little of nature inside. This is also why we chose the collection of antique insect prints for some more wall color.  You can see how the colors of the delicate creatures feel right at home on the green walls.

To make the floor more practical and less slippery, this indoor/outdoor rug adds to our colors from nature. The bold print will also be very forgiving as wet boots and shoes track in dirt. To remove those shoes, a sturdy bench was placed just inside the door. The woven seat is a very durable old design and brings some natural texture to the room. A painted metal umbrella stand next to the bench limits the distance any drips can get into the house.

Function dictated the next three items in the room. A large clock over the back door works toward keeping everyone on time. The large heavy dresser provides organization.  The top of the dresser becomes the place to drop the mail. Every child now has their own drawer for book bag storage. Mom and Dad each got their own drawers for keys, sunglasses, etc. We also drilled little holes in the back of the dresser to run their phone charger cords right into the drawers. The last drawer is supply storage for road trips:  maps, extra sunscreen, wet wipes, and other miscellany. The large mirror spreads some light around the room and helps keep everyone looking their best as they leave the house.

Lighting was our real “welcome home” tool. The plain overhead fixture was swapped for something more elegant. The frosted glass globe near the ceiling helps to diffuse the light more softly and masks the profile of the energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulb. A large, heavy, urn-shaped lamp with a creamy fabric shade sits on top of the dresser. The classic profile and texture of this lamp is real eye candy for the clients. Once again, the bulb is a compact fluorescent, to keep energy costs at a minimum. We also put this lamp on a timer, which allows it to turn on at dusk every evening. Since the back door has a window, the lamp gives a cosy light to anyone coming in from the cold.

By adding classic, sturdy pieces of furniture and a durable rug, this mudroom now has “function” and flows well in the client’s lifestyle and home. Using some of nature’s color palette and warm lighting has also brought some “welcome home” to this family’s busy days.

Unique, affordable, comfortable living.

New Blog Feature: Pinterest

Today’s post is about a new feature on the blog and how to use it. As I’ve checked my readership stats on this blog, I’ve noticed that the Mood Boards are particularly popular. You can see examples of these here, here and here.

I’ve been thinking about ways to offer more Mood Board-like content for those who do like it. I’m not going to turn this whole blog into a huge blog about mood boards, so if you are not the biggest fan of them, don’t worry. Instead I have added a new link to my Pinterest account.

 

If you’re not familiar with it, Pinterest is a social networking site that “pins” pictures of things you find “interest”-ing to a giant visual board. (See how they came up with that clever title?) Here’s what makes the site really awesome: They don’t just pin the picture to the board, they link the picture back to the original source, automatically.

“How can I used this fabulous technology for the design good of others?”, I thought to myself. Just see for yourself!

Click the on the sidebar link right there →→→→→→

I’m using my pin boards as a giant mood board for you. I’ve organized it into some easy-to-sort-through categories and will post beautiful things for you to browse and get inspiration from at any time. If you want to buy the item I’ve shown, just click on the picture and it will take you to the place to buy it. (I get no compensation from any links, pictures or sales. You can read about my position on that in my legal policies here.)

If you browse to the bottom of my current pin boards, you’ll see something that is starting soon for all of you serious Mood Board fans:

A FREE, fully designed room every month.

I’ll include the wall color, rugs, furniture, lighting, decor and art suggestions (see Rule #2 here!). Everything will go well together and the shopping is already done for you. Use it for inspiration, use the whole design for a room in your home or just “window shop”. It will stay posted for the whole month, then disappear as I post the next month’s room.

If you have an idea for a category of home design goodness, let me know. I’ll be adding new items in all the categories as I find them or as I think of them. Stop by from time to time and check out the new stuff.

Those of you who follow CARO Interiors on Facebook or Twitter will get my Pinterest updates instantly. I hunt for real deals online, so you may get in on some goods sales!

Don’t you love it when a friend shares a great shopping deal with you? Me, too. Now, I can share my finds with you!

We now return you to your regularly random interneting….

Save your jean pool

Jeans: can’t live with out them…can’t get them dry on “low” in under 2 hours.

Ya with me?

A good pair of jeans can be expensive. We are a family of tall people, so even finding a good pair in the right length can seem like a quest worthy of Tolkien. When we do find a good pair, we try to make them last. Risking the shrink factor in the dryer is just not on the table for us. So, we air-dry all our jeans. This saves on our energy costs, so we count it as a greener living choice, too. But, oh,*sigh*, the waiting….

It used to take 2 -3 days for our jeans to fully dry.

Enter my husband. We’ll call him Mr. CARO.

Mr. CARO is the Laundry Czar at our house. Through years of noble laundry experimentation, he has developed…nay…perfected a jeans playbook for all seasons. In the interest of saving the life of even just one pair of jeans out there, I share his 3 best jeans tips with you here:

1. Wash your jeans inside out, with the buttons and zippers closed. The jeans manufacturers use the friction between pairs of jeans to help give them that trendy I-wore-these-building-railroads-in-the-1850’s faded look. To keep your jeans the same color you bought them as, turn them inside out.

2. For the fastest air drying, use the hanger technique shown below.

Get a few of these types of hangers:

They are often called “skirt hangers”. We use them for jeans, too. Clip the bottom row of clips, to the top row of clips. Like this:

Bottom clips to top clips...

...clip #1...

...clip #2.

Now, clip your wet jeans by the waistband, using all four of the now-bottom clips. Like this:

Clip the back of the waistband...

...clip the front of the waistband...

...done.

This allows more air to the waistband area, which always takes the longest to dry. This also allows some air down the legs of the jeans. Hang the hanger anywhere you like for drying. Your jeans will dry much faster than you expect.

3. Use those fancy new hangers to make more room in your closet.

Fold #1...

...fold #2...

"...clip the jeans onto the hanger along the folded leg seams...

...to get 4 pairs of jeans on one hanger.

A big thank you to Mr. CARO for his fab hand modeling! Do you have any laundry tips you can share with the rest of us? Any other going-greener laundry fans out there? Leave a comment!

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