Thursday, July 28, 2016

0 Home Maintenance Week!

This is the first summer in years that I feel like we have given ourself some grace and time off from around-the-clock house projects (although there are always plenty to do).  It has been so wonderful to dedicate our evenings to parks and baseball and our weekends to bonfires and boat rides with Grandma and Grandpa.  All this soaking up summer fun is great until that classic cartoon crash and burn motion sets in; the one where the character is moving along swimmingly and then suddenly slams into a brick wall, smooshes their face, slides down the wall only to have a flower pot fall and land on their head.  That's how I felt this week.  I started to realize that there are some very necessary household projects/maintenance items that really need to take place each summer (as well as seasonally). So, Bryan and I decided to take the entire week to tackle a variety of not-so-fun but oh-so-necessary tasks around the house.

As I type up this post I am covered in paint with dirt under my fingernails and ready for the longest hot shower and massage available.  But I wanted to touch base with y'all to say hi, and to share the items we are choosing to tackle this week in lieu of playing in the sun or even working on the exciting and tranformative house projects (although I did sneak in one of those too, goodbye birch tree wall stencil).


I give the windows inside a good cleaning every few weeks or so, but the outside windows go far too long without a proper scrub down.  I recently picked up an extension pole window cleaning kit (similar) and after I got started with it, I thought about switching professions to Certified Window Cleaner.  There is something so exciting and satisfying about watching the windows go from dusty and dirty to sparkling and gleaming in seconds.  The window cleaning tool definitely made this chore quick and easy in terms of reaching all of the windows around the house.


I shared the process I use here, but this year I also found a magic eraser cut the total time down even more.  I took time to scrub down each door (especially around door handles), as well as trim around doors and windows and all of the moulding and risers down our stairway.  I also grabbed a few old paint brushes and touched up scuffs and dings on the trim and walls (thank you paint cabinet organization!).


Coffee machines can generate build-up over time, so a quick descaling every few months will keep all of the inside components and tubes free and clear of anything on the gross side that you don't want added to your morning brew.  Some machines offer special descaling kits, but I have found that running hot water through the machine with a bit of vinegar also works quite well.  After descaling, I find that all of the heat and steam makes it the perfect time to give the entire thing a good scrub on the exterior surfaces as well.


It was time for us to change our furnace filter, as well as the filter for our automobiles and refrigerator water.  Other filters you may want to consider checking are range hoods, vacuums and air conditioners.


This took us a few different days this week because we get weeds through our pavers out back, as well as in all of our garden beds and landscaping around our home.  Oh, and up through our retaining wall out front and through cracks in our sidewalk.  Our grassy yard is consistently maintained and weed free... but everywhere else needed a lot of attention.  This is one of my least favorite jobs, but necessary nonetheless.  And really, it is kind of amazing the difference pulling some weeds makes to overall curb appeal.  Good gloves were a sanity saver, and we also treated areas with a few types of weed killer so now I am crossing my fingers my plants survive and the weeds don't. We also trimmed back a few of our shrubs, giving them a little shape and symmetry.


Three of our bedroom windows had small holes that grew over the last year.  We purchased a roll of screen and replaced the screen on those three windows using a simple spline rolling tool (we were also able to reuse our previous spline).  Shoo flies, don't bother us!  This quick project only took about 10 minutes per window and is a great alternative to purchasing an entire new frame.


We did a quick walk through of each room to check the mechanics of any technology, appliances, plumbing and windows.  We also walked the exterior and checked around windows and doors, the lighting, the gutters and the garage fixtures.  We found that our turn cranks on our front windows are worn, so we took the steps to hunt down the window manufacture to order a new one.  This is when it is really useful to keep your home details and contractor digits filed away in a safe place.  We also found that one of our hose spigots is leaking and we purchased the replacement parts to attempt to fix it ourselves.


Our fridge, washing machine, dishwasher and range all received good muscle filled scrubs, and the washer and dishwasher were both cycle cleaned.


For this task, I took our vacuum to each of the floor and ceiling vents, as well as the cold air returns (removing the covers and vacuuming inside).  Additionally, I took the time to vacuum out the lint vents on our dryer, both inside and behind (using these tips).


Last but not least, I used my pre-printed basket labels and took a trash and donate bin to each room in our home.  I gave myself 10 minutes in each space to declutter and find things that no longer serve a purpose for us.  This is by far my favorite seasonal task, it feels so good to let go and reap the benefits of a clean slate.  For this task I like to set a timer which helps me make quick decisions.


I created a sweet and simple printable that I used all week, and I love it so much that I will be using it even more for additional projects around our abode.  Here it is for you to print and enjoy also.  It is always rewarding to check something off of a list, and a little color is a great way to keep chores a smidge more exciting.


And for you digital pals, have you tried Brightnest?  I recently added it to my phone and think it will help to keep me on better task with a few of these types of home maintenance items.

I like that it will remind me to complete important household tasks (instead of letting them go for too long), and that it also provides helpful tools and tips.

How do you handle these types of important household tasks?  Are there certain to do's that are worth hiring out?  Do you do these seasonally or just as needed?  I found I was more inclined and motivated to do these projects by selecting ten things, dedicating this specific week to them all, and not stopping until they were done.  Once I got into a groove, I found myself just going from one thing to the next.  Now, our home is happier and we can get back to enjoying it again!  I think I will make sure to put a reminder in my planner to find ten things to focus on every quarter/season.

Here are a few more resources with additional tips and checklists for annual and seasonal home maintenance:

Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape: An Incredibly Handy Home Maintenance Checklist
Yearly Home Maintenance Schedule
BHG Home Maintenance Checklist

Friday, July 22, 2016

6 UHeart Organizing: Serving Up Creative Outdoor Storage

The reason I initially fell in love with blogs is because they offered me ideas and inspiration and motivated me to think outside of the box.  My favorite posts are always those "Why didn't I think of that?" kind.  The type that offer up a completely smart solution, with just a bit of creative thinking and a few simple steps.  Of course, reading blogs with pretty pictures, relatable moments and stories, life hacks and product recommendations are also big winners for me, but there is just something so wonderful about inexpensive and smart little tweaks that anyone can do around their home.

Courtney has been a regular around here for years, and she always receives a thumbs up from me in all areas of her blogging talents, but I especially adore her ability to turn something ordinary into something that is both darling and extraordinary.  She is one smart cookie, and she is here to share her most recent patio update which may spark your own light bulb moment.

Summertime and the living is easy! Well, actually nothing could be further from the truth. We are mid-move and relocating after nearly ten years in a home is a bit bananas. The project I am sharing today was born of necessity. The only space we have put together is the outdoor patio of our new home. That has allowed us to relax and enjoy while we work on indoor projects. But the only time we have a second to breathe is in the evening when it cools off and we need a blanket. I really wanted to find something that would store my blankets and also provide us with some other function. So with very little, I created some outdoor storage that now acts as a side table and a serving tray when we entertain. And it's all thanks to a laundry hamper!

I am thrilled to not only have the storage for my blankets, but now I have an end table to set down a drink or style just for fun. This entire area is covered so that makes this project possible. It would be great for any covered area, a front porch or indoors. I am not sure it would hold up well under direct heat from the sun. So let's get started! It's super simple.

Step #1: Look for any laundry hamper that provides the look you want. The reason I went with the laundry basket is that it has the height I was looking for. And it just so happened to be this pretty color which goes with our color scheme out here.

Step #2: Pick up a round wooden disk from Home Depot ($6) and two handles ($3.50 each). And that's it!!! You will also need some white paint (or any color you choose). I used paint I already had at home.

Step #3: Place the handles in the desired location and make a dot in the center of each hole. This will tell you where to pre-drill your holes.

Step #4: Use a drill to attach each handle. I chose to pre-drill the holes and then unscrew them. I just like to know that it all works before I go to the trouble of painting. You could skip this step and drill after the disk is painted. Totally up to you.

Step #5: Apply two coats of paint. You will also want to add a coat or two of poly-urethane to protect the paint

Step #6: Once the paint is completely dry, add the handles. Allow the tray to set overnight before placing anything on top just so the paint doesn't stick.

And there you have it! A side table as well as storage for blankets or anything else you can dream up. You could even store toys in here if you have little ones.

And now when the sun sets I can now cuddle up with the blanket. So nice to have it right there.

You can also remove the tray and use it for entertaining which I love to do. I love the way the gold handles play off of the white tray.

So while we may be knee-deep in boxes and packing, we do have one place to hang out and relax. I honestly can't function unless we have one area pulled together. Are you that way? Hope you can find a spot indoors or out to create a little extra storage the next time you spot a laundry hamper. And as always, thank you to Jen and her sweet readers for allowing me to hang out here today.

Hi! I'm Courtney, the author of A Thoughtful Place. I am a mom to two and passionate about home decor, DIY, fashion, gatherings, and the occasional life lesson. I love finding simple and accessible ideas for infusing style into all aspects of life. While an average day can often be hectic, A Thoughtful Place hopes to inspire you to find beauty and style in each and every one.

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