Our house elves are currently on strike.

So…I kind of got a v-e-r-y part-time job. It totally came out of the blue, and I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing it after the busy season is over, but we’ll see.  Spoiler alert: it involves home staging. (Ok, it IS home staging, Lol.)  But more on that later!

I wish MY house looked staged all the time!  Normally our house is pretty clean-ish (I can’t really function in a messy space), and I’m kind of a minimalist anyway, but now since it’s summer and we’re out having fun, plus the kids are home more, there’s just stuff/dishes/legos/etc everywhere.

I watch a few cleaning/homemaking channels on YouTube like She’s In Her Apron or The Daily Connoisseur or Planner Perfect or sometimes How Jen Does It, which are pretty motivating, so I am starting to get a summertime system figured out.

I steal a lot of ideas from the  Flylady cleaning system.  By the way, the FlyLady website is SO confusing, BUT…They have an awesome app!  It’s called FlyLadyPlus and it’s VERY streamlined.  You can just check off the boxes as you go – if you like a super simplified checklist-type system (broken into morning, afternoon, and evening routines) + how to easily clean specific zones in your house, I recommend the app. It’s a great place to start if you are feeling really behind on house stuff!

Or…you can do what I also do sometimes:  write out your routines in a notebook, close the notebook and…never look at it again ;) Good intentions, right?

But I’m trying!

 

 

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I’m glad at least one of my personalities likes cleaning the house.

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Hey, I got a new comforter!  Wait, is that what they’re even called anymore?  I guess it’s technically a duvet.  Whatever, it’s totally fun and bright and boho and we love it.  I was gonna get a more subdued ‘sophisticated’ one, but then… I would die of boredom ;)  So I went for something more ‘me’.

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A close up of our bedside tables (made by Pants last year):

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FullSizeRender (1)Except sometimes mine looks more like this:

(Everyone keeps apple cider vinegar and duct tape on their bedside table, right?) I’ll have to do a separate post on these and some other cool things Pants has made more recently (like the boys’ new desks!)…he is REALLY glad to be able to get back into woodworking again.

Our house layout is sooo weird* and there’s lots of wood trim everywhere, but we’re surrounded by trees, and it feels like falltime all year round, so I love it.  This is our living room where we basically just hold LOTR marathons all the time:.

I do like our kitchen, too, although a gas stovetop on the island?  INCREDIBLY messy.

I’d show you the den, but our neighbor just gave the kids MORE legos (!) so we are in the middle of sorting (me) and building (the boys) like crazy right now:

Here is only ONE part of our Lego storage, yikes:

*We have like, 5 hallways and four flights of stairs…but there’s only two stories?  I don’t get it either.

When the kitchen’s a mess, I’m a mess…

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…so I’m a mess like, 80% of the time ;)  But my kitchen is actually clean today!   I’m looking forward to tomorrow when the kids go back to school so I can breathe get the rest of the house together…simple dreams…

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I will say things are *relatively* clean around here right now since we have friends from Cali coming up to stay with us on Friday.  That’s my preferred cleaning method, by the way – I get in a panic because people are coming over, so the week (or sometimes the night!) before, I clean like a crazy person.  The rest of the time, it’s…eh, livable…

My kitchen is hardly ever all cleaned up though.  In my defense, I do probably cook more than the average person…when I’m home I feel like I am CONSTANTLY cooking/prepping meal stuff.  Like a job, LOL.  But it’s really the only way for us to stick to eating totally clean, and since that’s kind of our goal right now, I cook…

There are a few fun things that make it easier.  Cleaning is obviously the worst part about being in the kitchen, but this little guy helps:

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 This OXO dish scrubber is truly my #1 recommended kitchen tool.  (They also have it in stainless steel.) It just makes doing dishes sooo much easier!

I also recently got these kitchen towels and I LOVE them:

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They are the MOST absorbent drying towels I have ever used – the only kicker is you HAVE to throw them in the washer/dryer BEFORE using them (something about the cotton having to shrink up, I guess?), else they won’t be very absorbent.

Also?  This lavender dish soap:

smells AMAZING.  Even Pants loves the smell.  It’s the only Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap I really like.  I literally *just* ran out of it and couldn’t find it at the store or Thrive Market (wah!), so I grabbed the gardenia one instead.  But that one smells TERRIBLE, LOL!  Like grandma perfume, ugh.  Save me, Amazon Prime…

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Don’t be scared of my bathroom.

IMG_2893Wow, that last post was a long one…But just let me clarify that I do NOT have this whole ‘clean eating’ thing totally down yet!  I am doing *pretty* good, but still learning as I go.  I just know I feel waaay better now that I am more consistently eating regular meals of real food and trying to do juicing, as opposed to when I used to just grab a handful of crackers (ok, cookies) and guzzle way too much coffee…and I think maybe my immune system is getting stronger?  I feel like a cold is trying to come on (I’ve had a croup-y little 8yr old home the past couple days, coughing all over me), but my body seems to be wanting to fight it off.  Apparently with green juice…?

Anyway.  Back to biz…

In December, I was totally overdosing on reading natural living blogs, trying to learn about skincare.  The whole ‘whatever you put on your skin seeps into your bloodstream’ thing was starting to freak me out.  (Mainly because the word ‘bloodstream’ – Ew!)  Last year I already switched out most of my makeup (that I hardly ever wear…sorry Seattle!), but it’s been hard finding skincare products that I actually LIKE that are natural and that i can afford.

Then I thought, ‘Hey, I can MAKE skincare products!’ So I got sooo excited and found a bunch of Pinterest recipes and started ordering ingredients like beeswax and shea butter off Amazon Prime and Mountain Rose Herbs. I was all set to go…until I actually literally started making stuff.  And that’s when I realized…I HATED it!  Making/creating skincare products was a COMPLETELY joy-less process for me…which I totally did NOT expect!  Especially since I do already make a few household cleaners, and that’s not a big deal, and I make up (food) recipes from scratch like, every day.

But I think I just really, really missed all the pretty packaging, the yummy smells, and the fun of just trying out different skincare products.  I did make a decent lotion and a couple things that were, fine, I guess, but I kept finding myself wandering the beauty aisles of Whole Foods.  I DO like handmade natural products…just made by someone else.

We just signed up for a new service called Thrive Market (it’s kind of like an online Costco for healthy products, and the prices are seriously great, with free shipping on orders over $50), so I hunted around on there for a few things, as well as other places.  So here’s a few (NON homemade!) natural products we’re trying out. (Maybe not 100% natural, but close enough that I feel ok about them.)

I’m trying this lotion:

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It’s no Wild Carrots lotion (which is my FAVORITE lotion ever!), and I’m kind of kicking myself for not just getting that one, but I do like the Acure brand, and this was cheaper and on Thrive.

Oooh, something I DO love that I’ve been using for awhile now are Pacifica natural perfumes.  They smell AMAZING!

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These are the most true-to-scent perfumes I’ve ever smelled that are actually affordable.  I’m trying to make the French Lilac  my signature scent (whatever that means), but the Island Vanilla is sooo good too. And I have never gotten a headache from these, unlike other ones I used to wear.

These Ora’s Amazing Herbal chapsticks I ordered off Amazon are just plain cute:

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They honestly had me at the packaging – they come in a 3-pack in a little cloth bag, and the other flavor (somewhere in my purse) is Earl Grey.  Yes please!

We are also really liking this soap/body wash from EO Products:

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I like that the boys can use it for shampoo, and the coconut/lemon one smells SO good.  Which I know shouldn’t matter…but it matters so.very.much. to me.  I think taking a shower is my happy place?  I mean, if I can’t write my daily affirmation in steam on the shower door at 6:30am, my day is pretty much ruined.  I wish I was joking when I wrote that…

There *is* one lone product I made that I will actually make again.  it’s…wait for it…homemade DEODORANT.  I know.  I made this on a whim, since I have NEVER found a natural deodorant that actually works.  But after reading how sensitive our lymph system is, I just don’t feel comfortable with regular deodorant anymore (which is why I rarely ever wore it).  When I tried this recipe, I didn’t expect anything, really.  But it WORKS!  And there’s no baking soda in it, which can irritate your skin sometimes.  Of course, all the ingredients were things I ALREADY had around the house…thank goodness for return policies…

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1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup coconut oil

20 drops Tea Tree oil

10 drops (combo of) Lemon, Orange, and Peppermint essential oils

Melt the coconut oil and mix with the cornstarch to form a paste.  Stir in the essential and Tea Tree oils.  You can set it in the fridge for a few minutes if it seems too liquid-y.  I put it in a cute little glass jar, and just keep it on my bathroom counter.  I made mine about a month ago, and it’s still totally fine.  And I smell good…promise…

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i don’t shave for sherlock holmes.

IMG_1873I do love our new house.  i’m still not sure if it has a sunken living room, and it’s basically the opposite of an open concept…it’s seriously the quirkiest layout I’ve ever seen. like, you can say goodbye to someone in the kitchen, both go separate ways up separate stairs, then meet again like, three seconds later. awkward.

we’re talking wood trim and huge windows EVERYWHERE. i’m in love with it.
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the neighborhood is pretty, lots of trees. and just great, friendly people happy to be there, all the kids and dogs going in and out of each others’ houses…like literally the neighbor’s dog walked into my living room the other day. (?) but the library and trader joe’s are right down the street, so…perfect.

the house is slightly barren right now (getting rid of 15 pieces of furniture when we moved will do that!) but trust, there WILL be shopping ;)my two favorite spaces…

it is SUCH a luxury to cook in a newly renovated kitchen! even if it isn’t my *exact* style, it is lovely and I am soooo thankful for it!  (ignore the white pantry door, it’s getting repainted soon.) 

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our california home tour, part two

a few upstairs snaps…
what…your kids never do this?
ok, honestly?  my kids are never really in their rooms except to sleep.  all the toys, keyboard, art supplies, etc are mostly downstairs, so their rooms are just where they keep their books and special stuff.   they also keep all their clothes in their closets on a shelving unit, so no need for dressers.
pants built the boys’ beds, and the boys used to share a room, but about a year ago we separated them.  sky’s room is really cute, but a little 2011 with the angry bird motif that he was over like, 2 months after we did it…we are definitely upgrading to more ‘teenager-y’ when we move…
sky has a bookshelf under the window on the other wall, and last year pants built them both some cool shelves to hold all their ‘treasures’.  here are sky’s shelves before they were filled up:
during:
aaand…after:
can you tell they have a dad who travels to asia a lot? ;)
sharkey’s room is pretty basic.  except for the ‘zombies’ signs plastered all over his door, lol.  shark’s shelves have a lot of…sharks.
our master bedroom is a decent size, but i just hate it, lol.  it has it’s own bathroom and GREAT closet built-ins, but it’s such a jumble of old ugly furniture!  i tried to make it look cute, but the phrase ‘lipstick on a pig’ keeps coming to mind…but just wait!  pants has no idea the pandora’s box he opened with me when he said, ‘sure, we can get new stuff when we move,’ lol!

our california home tour, part one

btw, i think only one of these pairs of shoes are my kids’…yes, we are that house…

just putting up some pictures of our current house before we box it all up!  we managed to secure a better-than-expected housing situation up in seattle this past weekend, but it bumped up our move date to mid-july instead of our original plan of august first.  so things are moving forward pretty fast around here!

anyway, the house we are currently in has been a great space for our family, on a nice cul-de-sac street with a climbing tree and lots of neighbor kids.  we are going to miss playing with our friends every day!

 but we are definitely ready to move on to the next chapter of our life!  we are also SO READY to get rid of almost all our furniture (except the custom stuff pants’ built) and get several new big pieces when we move…our stuff is soooo old and worn, and it is TIME, lol!
 so…this is what our living room currently looks like:
the back side of the living room is kind of an odd vaulted nook we use for sky’s ‘office’…ignore the fact that it’s so bare – we have already started boxing things up in there.
when we first moved in it looked like this…
and then like this…
i did another post here with details about this AMAZING bookshelf that pants’ built:
 I just love the way pants designed them to fit together with these little wood pieces:
ok, i have to take a moment…we must mourn our old comfy sectional we’ve had for years and years!  this thing has lasted through three different homes, and is practically threadbare now…needlesss to say, it will NOT be making the move with us.  but the memories, wah…
sooo many people have fallen asleep randomly on this couch, lol.  lots of snuggling and hanging out, too.
(i just have to throw this one in…)
across from the living room is the fourth bedroom, which we are using as our lego/toy room.  it first looked like this, then we turned it into more of a game room, but the kids got back into legos again so we changed it back.  now it looks like this:
a lotta lego organizing goin’ on!  and…a fun wall thing-a-ma-jig i did:
in the red bin holder, all the legos are organized by color, and some also by size:
this guy holds things like specific colors we don’t have a lot of, wheels and car parts, etc:
these organizers are from target, and UNDUMPABLE.  this is very important when you live with a little shark terror!
we also have smaller versions too, which hold lego body parts (ew) and other specific little pieces:
a sad goodbye to our navy stair wall…hey, I started this navy trend and you all know it!!
our kitchen/dining room is nothing special…it’s actually the opposite of special, with it’s mismatched appliances and outdated cabinets. if we owned the place I would rip out the whole thing…like what is literally currently happening in our new place right now ;)  but lots of yummy things sure got cooked up in this room!
the ‘art wall’.  guess which drawing was done by pants?  :)
 my coffee/tea station between the stove and fridge:
 I took the doors off these cabs.  because I wanted to.
we’ve had some awesome thanksgivings with the gastronaut here, though!
learned lots of knife skills…
and had over LOTS of friends…
 
oh, and can’t forget the backyard and the side yard
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well, we think he’s a bit of a joke in ravenclaw.

our weekend was…somewhat chaotic, but that’s the usual.  i am making big efforts to ‘talk nicely’ to pants (and the kids)…and I have to say…it’s working.  darn it, my mother was right AGAIN.  she says the best thing you can ever do in a marriage is ‘be polite’.  and of course i’m always like, mom.  that’s so dumb.  uhhh…NOT dumb.  if you take the time to be NICE, people will actually listen to you!  as opposed to if you are just constantly yelling at them, ooohhh…
we are sneaking the kids out of school tomorrow afternoon for a trip to disneyland.  even though sky and i are secretly kind of over going.  but darn it, we already paid for these passes and come hell or high water, we are gonna use them!  i bribed sky with the downtown disney lego store, and pants bribed ME with the downtown disney sephora store, so it’s all good…
we have big news coming (NO. NOT PREGNANT!) but i can’t reveal it yet!  so i will distract you with headwear…
i can’t believe i haven’t put pictures of this up yet!  pants BUILT an AMAZING modular bookshelf for our living room!
he came up with the design himself.  it is GENIUS.  there are 12 individual wooden square shelves, 6 rectangular ones, and 4 drawers.  all the boxes are held together by these little interlocking wood pieces:
I’ve only re-configured the design, oh, like ninety times.  pants loves coming home to individual boxes strewn all over the living room…anyway, here’s a shot of how we are currently using it as a tv stand.  I.LOVE.IT.

i feel lazier than the guy who invented the japanese flag.

so, i have a bad habit.

i love clothes, but i have a real problem with throwing them all over the floor.  yes, like a teen.  in general, i’m pretty neat, but for some reason, i always have clothes strewn all around the bedroom.  which is weird because i keep up with laundry and put my clean clothes away every night before bed.  i think it just happens when i am frustrated and can’t find anything to wear and i’m in a rush.  hence, i try on a million things and then leave them all over the floor.  and then they stay there.  on the floor.  for like, days.

so…the other day after pants made fun of me for it again, we started talking about how we have these bigger, really functional closets in this house (with built-in shelving), so really, what is my problem?
and then i realized what my problem was.  it’s that my closet isn’t pretty.  and i HATE using spaces that aren’t pretty.
pants definitely didn’t get it.
but i immediately ran out and got a few rolls of my favorite ‘renter’s wallpaper’ (which is actually just…contact paper!  easy to put up, totally removable.  aaand…available from the dollar store.) and started pretty-ing that closet up.
ta-da!

i know this paper print is kind of old-fashioned and ugly-ish, but since it was only a buck a roll and just for a closet, it was good enough for me.  with the scarves and the cute top shelf, it adds that girly, vintage-y feel i like.
and now my floor is magically clean!

so…i keep unmentionables in baskets, and the shelves hold folded stuff like tanks, workout clothes, and pants/shorts.  and yes, i only own 3 pairs of pants that aren’t leggings.  i’m working on it.  for some reason i hung up my bathing suits next to my shirts/cardigans.  oh, and i usually keep my laundry basket under the bottom shelf.
dresses on the top. this closet actually goes back really far, like, double what i am showing you here.  there is also a hanging belt rack and a secret shelf under the hanging dresses where i keep a box for our, um…we’ll just call it ‘love stuff’. ahem. i keep purses and shoes downstairs in our coat closet, since that makes way more sense to me.

oh, and if you are using gross ugly plastic or even worse, wire hangers?  IMMEDIATELY run to target and grab a couple bunches of huggable hangers.  it will change your life, i swear!