So Fresh and So Clean

The days are getting shorter, your to do lists are getting longer. How’s a girl supposed to keep the house clean? If you’re anything like me, in order to get back on track with your cleaning routine, you need a free day {because they are so easy to come by…} where you can wake up one morning, grab a cup of coffee, and take the entire day to do nothing but Deep. Clean. Everything. Now we’re talking.

Most of the time, I can get by with an hour or two of “spot cleaning” here or there, but there are about 4 times a year when I just need something more. Typically, these line up with the season changes, so I’m already in the spirit of change, kind of like right now, actually. There’s just something wonderful about waking up to a spotless and refreshed house that makes you not want to leave {HA! As if I needed another reason..}

Now, doing a whole house deep clean isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes the right mindset, attitude, and most of all, it takes a house so messy you can’t stand another day of it. It also takes zero interruptions, for example, a husband saying he’s bored every twenty seconds.

Since I like sharing so much, I thought I would share some tips on how I stay sane and organized when a deep cleaning marathon event is on the horizon, so without further ado, I present to you my “husband isn’t home to get in the way, finally have a free day, house is a disaster” cleaning routine.

  1. Make a checklist – No, I’m not kidding. This is the first thing I do every single time. It helps me remember what I want to accomplish, and it’s gratifying to check things off! You can also appreciate the work you’ve done once you see the list diminish.
  2. Clean one room at a time – This isn’t mandatory, but it helps me stay on track. This advice comes straight to you from my momma. Her theory is that when you have a large task at hand, it makes it less daunting when you can at least walk into one room knowing that it’s completely done. Here’s the order I typically use:

Ø    Master bedroom

Ø    Bathrooms

Ø    Guest bedrooms

Ø    Living Room {heads up, if it’s the fall time, like now, it’s a good time to check and ensure that your fire place is in functional order. FYI, ours is not. Looks like a call to the repair man is in order at the Alley Homestead…}

Ø  Finally, the kitchen. I save this for last because this is typically the most trafficked room in our home and usually has the most work ahead.

  1. Open the windows – Let your AC or heater breathe. Turn it off, open your windows, and let the fresh air make your home feel renewed. We’ve actually had our windows open for about a week now and it just plain feels better. I also like to turn my essential oil diffused on to further cleanse the air. This weekend was a chilly one, with rain in the morning and sunshine and cool winds in the afternoon, and this girl loved every minute of bundling up and having the windows open and the sound of leaves rustling.
  2. Multitask when you can – Work smarter, not harder people. If you’re washing sheets for the master bedroom, throw the guest sheets in there as well. Same with blankets. If you’re needing to take a minute to fold the laundry, make sure you have the tub in a deep soak, or turn on your self-clean mode on your oven. Make sure you’re maximizing your time.
  3. Make it fun – When I first get my coffee in me and I’m getting my head together to start cleaning, I put on a Netflix or Hulu show that I’ve already seen on to distract me and keep myself entertained while I start cleaning. After a while, I need something a bit more fast paced to keep myself going, so I switch to Pandora and throw on a fun station, like 90’s hits or Hip Hop BBQ radio.
  4. Don’t forget the miscellaneous chores – This is the perfect time to give those pups a bath {you have fresh sheets, after all..} or to clean your makeup brushes. You’re already in cleaning mode, so why not get everything in great shape? Your day well spent will bring weeks of content.

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I bought these placemats at Dollar Tree and I cut them to fit the size of the shelves in my fridge, that way when I need to clean my shelves, I just remove the mat and clean it instead of stuck on goop in my fridge drawers!

 

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Walmart SCORE – these new products are incredible! I used the Plink drain cleaner on every drain in this house to make it smell nice and clean stuck down objects. The Dishwasher cleaner will be used tonight, and I’m excited to clean the dishwasher!

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How incredible is our new macrame wall hanging? A friend’s wife made it for me, and she is in the process of creating a business, “The Knotty Momma!” More details to come. 
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Spent all Sunday with a screwdriver and these slippers

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I had the most random thoughts while cleaning this weekend. Everything from “How the heck do you clean a cowhide rug?” to “can dogs glare at you?” to “I really think I’m annoying Cholla with my Abba sing along.”

What are some of your “deep clean day” rituals? It seems like this is the exact way I clean my house every time. I’d love to hear how you clean your home! Stay tuned next time for some of my favorite face cleansing products. In the meantime, here’s some pictures of some neat new cleaning products I found, as well as how clean the house looks now!

 

 

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Green Thumbed Alley’s

Does anyone else have two days in a row that are just so utterly opposite of each other? Because this is happening to me at the present moment – so please tell me I’m not the only one!

The past two days, I’ve felt like I’ve had it all together – I’ve gotten to work early, had successful days at work, watered all the plants and vegetables and moved them into the sunshine, taken walks at lunchtime and then taken the dogs on 2 mile walks after work, gone to the gym, prepped dinner, swept + mopped all the floors, had all the dishes done, and been in bed at reasonable times. I felt like I had been nailing this week.

This morning I woke up and drove halfway to work before realizing I was still wearing my UGG slippers, then when I got to work, I got off the phone and instead of hitting “end call” on the phone, I turned off my lamp. Some days, you just can’t win.

That being said, I want to share with you a marvelous weekend that Charles and I had last weekend {the weekend before Easter}! My husband and I have been focusing on curb appeal for the house, and we have been having a blast in the process. A few weeks ago, I shared with you the two small flower beds that we fixed up on both sides of the garage, and we are loving how much such a small change created such an impact to the appearance of the house. Sunday was all about tackling the swampy pit of grass and dirt that sits in front of our guest bedroom window. All that was there was a dead tree that blocked sunlight from the house and the dead limbs sprawling everywhere actually made the house look smaller! Needless to say, it had to go. My husband and his handy friends Chad & Matt got to work to remove that tree last week! I am so pleased. Since the tree was finally removed, and the ground was finally dry enough to create the flower bed, Charles and I took full advantage and started our next curb appeal project.

Let me just show you the “before” picture {sans tree..I forgot to take a before picture while the most hideous tree known to man was still there..what kind of blogger am I?}

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We set out to Lowe’s as soon as they opened, coffee in tow, to get our supplies. They ended up not having everything that we needed, so we got what we could and off to Southerlands we went.

PSA – Are you a member of Southerland’s text message “Garden Club?” If you aren’t…you are missing out on 25% off trees and shrubs every day!supplies2supplies1supplies3

45 garden paver stones, 35 bags of top soil, 9 bags of compost, 12 perennials, 6 boxwoods, 3 bags of mulch, 4 succulents, 2 adorable little purple plants, 2 lavender plants, 1 cute little plant that I’m not sure what it’s called, 1 elephant ear, 1 aloe vera plant, and 1 weeping willow later, we were finally ready to start our flower bed.

It took us about 7 hours total for this project, including shopping for supplies. Here’s some pictures of the progression / after:

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Doesn’t it look about 50x better? We were both so pleased with how much of a transformation this made to our home. And it was fun to do together! We laughed, listened to music, enjoyed the sunshine…We even ended up having enough rock left over to make small flower beds around the mailbox and around a tree in our front yard. We haven’t planted anything yet, but hope to this week sometime.

 

In addition to planting flower beds, we used two of the succulents, one of the lavender plants, and the aloe vera plant and planted them in the cutest {and most inexpensive} terra cotta pots from Wal-Mart, of all places. I think the mossy green color pairs perfectly with the orange, rusty colored pots. I’m actually quite surprised at how much I love having these little guys inside the house, it just makes the kitchen feel more homey and bright.

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We also re-potted some of our vegetables that we have been growing, since they need bigger homes! The tomatoes, cayenne peppers, jalapenos, and green onions are all re-homed into their bigger pots, and the mint and lavender are starting to sprout now, so they are still in their little homes.

 

I have to tell you, Charles and I are both loving having our own little garden and nice flowers around. I enjoy going home at lunchtime so that I can take a walk around the neighborhood and put the vegetables and plants out in the sunshine. I enjoy going home after work and watering all of the plants, then taking the dogs on a walk. It’s been my routine these past few weeks, and it’s become more something I look forward to than something I have to do.

 

I can’t wait to show you a few more things Charles and I have been working on for around the house to make it feel more like “us.” It’s supposed to be a cold weekend, so who knows what all we can accomplish to the interior of our home this weekend..Stay Tuned!

Ho Ho, XO!

Welcome to my witching hour. I hope my post will be at it’s prime today because of the fact that I’m writing it during my favorite hours of the day — the wee hours of the morning.

`Everything is so peaceful between 5-7am. So peaceful. The peace is only intensified during the Christmas season. Everything during life is so chaotic during this time, I’m rushing back and forth from one place to the other, only to come home and have a to do list as long as my arm, so getting to spend a few hours knocking out the essential to do list items during a time of day when it’s oh so silent, my husband and sweet pups are sleeping, and the Christmas tree lights and twinkling just makes my soul soar. Now, of course I only get to enjoy these hours during the weekend – when I should be sleeping in – because I have to work at 6am during the week, and usually, I do sleep in..until at least 6:30 on the weekends, but today I had to take my parents to the airport, which means no “sleeping in” for me. {I foresee naps in my future..} Luckily, I got to spend some much needed time prepping for my husband’s 30th birthday lake weekend, and I can’t WAIT to share with you the fun things I have in store for him.

Okay. I’m sitting in bed with Milli the doberman curled up in the tiniest little ball next to me, I’ve got a cup of french vanilla coffee in the cutest sweater mug you ever did see {thanks, Katie!!}, and the winter morning light is starting to pour in the bedroom. Let’s start this post.

I know I just shared a few drinks with you a few months ago {ahem, I have been drinking that Cranberry Moscow Mule for WEEKS now..each time it just keeps getting better, so I hope you loved it too!} but I wanted to share a more “big batch” recipe with you that will be perfect for your holiday hostessing. I was doing a lot of soul searching Pinterest searching, and was trying to get inspired for a new Christmasy cocktail.

Can we pause for a moment to talk about the HYSTERICAL names for Christmas Cocktails? I’ve found everything from Santa’s little helper, Santa’s little ho ho, Jingle Juice, Grinch Green Punch, Rudolph’s tipsy spritzer, Yuletide Mules, the Red Rudolph..I could go on and on. I just love every single name! It makes me feel all holly and jolly inside. I perused all of the recipes, and I just couldn’t find one I was amazingly excited to make, so I decided to put my own twist on a winter sangria. I adapted this from a “secret sangria” recipe I found on Pinterest. First of all, why do people call things “secret recipes” even after they have shared them with you? I don’t understand. More like not so secret sangria.

I hope you enjoy this little recipe I’ve concocted, and I hope you get the chance to use this at your Christmas gatherings. Never miss an opportunity to get boozy with family and friends that you don’t always see! I’m giving you the “Big Batch” recipe, but feel free to adapt for yourself! Oh, and I’ve named this cocktail “Ho Ho, XO” 

  • 1 can La Croix {or Aquafina sparkling grapefruit water, or Fresca, or Squirt..}
  • 1 bottle champagne {Don’t use extra dry. Use either Brut or Spumante. I honestly think Spumante may make this drink too sweet with all of the other sweet flavorings in this sangria, so Brut would probably be your best bet. Because, you know, me being a professional bar tender and all…}
  • 2 cups vodka 
  • 1 cup white juice {You can use white grape peach, white grape, white cranberry..whatever you want, just make it kind of fruity tasting}
  • 1/2 can frozen limeade {softened..}
  • Garnish {cranberries, pomegranate seeds, rosemary..whatever you’d like, really!}

You stir it all together {..and you turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about! 10 bonus points to you if you read this singing “do the hokey pokey”} in a big pitcher, and let it chill. Letting it chill isn’t necessary, you can pour this into a glass and drink right away, however, one, I like to make things ahead of time when I’m anticipating a large group, and two, I like the different flavors to get a chance to blend a little bit better.

Now, clearly in the pictures below, I only made enough for one person. Do as I say, not as I do, alright? It was just myself drinking this and I didn’t want to make enough for a party until Christmas Eve. Also, I wrote this post on Saturday and didn’t get it uploaded until Monday..don’t hate me.

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Have a few glasses of this drink and it’s you that’ll be merry

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bottle popping struggles

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Glaring at your husband / photographer

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Fallidays calls for Yuletime Mule-time

God Bless Charles. Sometimes I think God looked at Charles and said ” Let’s keep his youthful innocence in tact throughout his adulthood,” and it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. That being said, with youthful innocence comes zero tact filter. I just got told “Oh my GOD why are your elbows SO DRY?” To which I promptly responded, why the hell are you feeling up my elbows? So here I sit, blogging and having a cocktail and slathering my elbows in lotion. Good Lord.

I’m not sure about you all, but this past weekend was just what the doctor ordered. My husband and I went to the lake and did absolutely nothing. I mean it. Nothing. I pretty much stayed in pajamas, took a soak in the tub, watched the Razorbacks {it’s hard to be humble..}, cooked sloppy joes, drank mimosas, and listened to a lot of music on the patio. Let’s just clone that weekend & play it on repeat. Thankfully, I got some much needed rest after a few hectic months.

I’m not sure if it’s the weather causing me to have seasonal depression {not depression because it’s fall, more like depression because it’s NOT FALL YET}, or all of the traveling, or just life in general, but I have felt a bit..melancholy these past few weeks. Literally as soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m fast asleep. I have been taking naps. I haven’t wanted to get out much. I haven’t put too much effort into my appearance. I just haven’t been myself! Does anyone else out there have little spurts like this? I’m especially crabby when it’s cloudy outside for lengthy periods of time. If it’s not thunderstorming or snowing, get away from me, you pesky clouds. As soon as the sun comes out in most situations, I’m like let’s dance! Let’s play music! Be my friend, ily.

To help remove me from my slump, I thought I would share two Autumn Cocktail recipes with you. My thought process, albeit flawed, I’m sure, is that by drinking autumn drinks this week, we can will the autumnal weather our way.

I’m not sure if any of you are the same way, but I get into spurts where I obsess over certain drinks: sometimes if I get into a “wine phase,” I’ll drink wine for months. Sometimes, it’s beer. Currently, I’ve been obsessing over Moscow Mules. Have you jumped on the Moscow mule train yet? If you haven’t, here’s a few seasonal twists to a classic drink {and as an added bonus, mules have the same base no matter how you tweak them, so a lot of these ingredients you’ll already have on hand:

APPLE CIDER MOSCOW MULE

  • 1.5 oz vodka of your choosing {I choose Titos! Partly because it’s fun to say..and partly because whenever you order a Mule at a restaurant, they always offer you Titos..so I figure that’s legit..}
  • 2 oz. Apple Cider. You can buy the apple cider or you can make it yourself. If you make yours homemade….then congratulations, because you are officially better at life-ing than me.
  • Ginger Beer: Some people use ginger ale, which should theoretically work fine, but I don’t find that it’s gingery {is that a word?} enough for me in my mules. You can also use alcoholic or non-alcoholic ginger beer. You have options!
  • Lime juice: I use the juice of half a lime, because I don’t want it too tarte + sour, but some people need more lime to cut the ginger taste. Adapt as needed. I also use lime wedges for garnish.
  • Garnishes: I used cinnamon sticks + apple slices, and used a cinnamon sugar blend to make a cinnamon sugar rim. Get creative!

CRANBERRY MOSCOW MULE

  • 1.5 oz Vodka: We’ve been through this part already.
  • 2 oz. Cranberry Juice: You know, actually any cranberry blend would probably be good. I know the cran-apple is delicious {actually, I’m using cran-apple right now and cheating on the recipe..but regular cranberry juice will work perfectly as well!}
  • Ginger Beer – Once your other ingredients are added, fill to the top with ginger beer.
  • Garnishes: I chose a sugar rim, sugared cranberries, and rosemary {because I just think rosemary adds such a pretty touch, don’t you?}

I love my mules in a nice Copper Mug {you don’t have to break the bank, try a copper plated mug from Wal-mart!}, but stainless steel mugs or mint julep glasses add a great touch as well. I love making drinks like this for gatherings and get togethers, because they are easily converted into “big batch” cocktails. My only struggle is that now I have two cocktails that I need to drink. Wait, that’s really not a problem. I don’t know what I’m thinking.

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Cholla photo-bomber

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FALLing in Love || Prints + Textures

Let’s just take a moment to admire my current condition: I’m sitting in my PJ’s {still} at my OWN house — high five for being home — we have all of the windows open, it still smells like last nights fire in the backyard, & I get to babysit my favorite one year old wild man tonight. Oh, and I’m on cup of coffee number 2. Oh, and the Hogs are playing Bama tonight. Oh, and I’ve got a sleeping puppy on me. I really don’t hate this day. 

My 9 week traveling spree has {almost} come to an end! I only have one or two more small weekend trips planned for the next few months, and I couldn’t be happier about it! {That being said, Nashville? You treated us WELL and we can’t wait to plan another trip..}

When we were in Nashville, there was one thing that stood out to me the most:

IT ACTUALLY FELT LIKE FALL!

Don’t get me wrong, we have had a few “fall-ish” days here in Arkansas, but we pale in comparison to the amazing Nashville weather. Arkansas, you can do better. Typically, by this time, we are at least in the 70’s, so I’m hoping we can drink some of the Tennessee kool-aid and start seeing some cooler temperatures.

While in Nashville, I got to wear some amazing fall clothing pieces from my closet, and it honestly made me feel renewed. I felt good in the clothes that I was wearing. I felt confident in the clothes I was wearing. I felt comfortable in the clothes that I was wearing. It was nice to get a bit chilly during the morning and evening hours. I was in “basic girl” fall heaven. All that was missing was a PSL…

Maybe it’s the fall weather that I experienced in Nashville, maybe it’s the fact that it’s the first week in October, maybe it’s because I’m going to a pumpkin patch with my cutie pie nephew this weekend, but for whatever reason, I wanted to share some prints for fall. Some of these you may not expect to be a “fall pattern” or a “fall print,” but hey, I like them, and who’s writing the blog post here?

Since my previous last time ended up being waaaaay longer than I intended it to be, oops, my bad, I’m going to make this one short and sweet. Let’s get right into the clothes, clothes, wonderful clothes. Yes, I realize that by posting pictures of said clothes, I’m setting myself up for my sister coming over to raid my closet. I see you.

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Easy like Sunday morning

I’ve come to learn that whether you’re going through a rough time in your life, whether you’re stressed out to the max, whether you’re not feeling well, or whether you’re fit as a fiddle and everything in your life is going perfectly, one thing will always remain the same:

When you get home from work after a tiresome and long day, you want to get as comfortable as possible. It’s a fact. Home is a place of comfort, it’s a place where you can relax and replenish. As soon as I get home, the work clothes come off, the comfy clothes go on, and the hair goes into a bun. I joke around with my poor husband that he never gets to see me dolled up, because whenever we are at home together, I’m always in sweats!

Even though I love getting comfy when I get home, I typically don’t categorize myself as a t-shirt kind of person. You’ll never catch me wanting to throw on a hoodie with my favorite college on it, you won’t see me in line at concerts to buy a memorial t-shirt, It’s just really not me. {The one major exception is during Razorback season and maybe, just MAYBE you will see me in some hog related shirt..but it won’t be your typical cotton- polyster blend material shirt} Maybe it’s because I have a short neck and hoodies / high neck shirts just make me look uncomfortable and like I’m twelve, or maybe it’s the supremely uncomfortable fabric that keeps me at bay, but regardless, I just never have the feeling of “I need to run to the grocery store, let me throw on this t-shirt.”

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against t-shirts, I have nothing against people who wear t-shirts. I, more than most, LOVE to go home from a long day and get comfortable. But for me, t-shirts just aren’t going to cut it. I need soft material, I need oversized material. Lucky for you, I’ve found a few “holy grail” comfy sweatshirts {they are lightweight! Don’t worry!} that are cute enough to wear around town but cozy enough to cuddle in at home. You know when you see those movies where the leading lady has the most perfect sweatshirt when she’s at her house just lounging? The perfect sweatshirt that doesn’t make her look bulky or frumpy, but casual and relaxed? I think I found the exact one that they were wearing.

Ladies / gentleman / anyone who is reading right now, I introduce to you The Weekender sweatshirt by Z Supply{check this sweatshirt out here}. Maybe it’s exhaustion, or maybe I’m just this corny, but it makes me want to go all Dr. Seuss…I would wear this sweatshirt in a boat, I would wear this sweatshirt with a coat, I would wear this sweatshirt in the mall, I would wear this sweatshirt to a ball…

I’ll stop now {but just know I COULD keep going!}

In all seriousness, I was so obsessed with this sweatshirt when I bought it a few days ago in the olive color that I went out and bought it in the grey color less than 24 hours later….and I’m probably going to get the dark gray/navy-ish…color as well, don’t think I’m scared. As an added bonus, I picked this up at a local boutique called Hazel’s Haven{check them out here!} and scored this sweatshirt for $38.50!       {WAIT…………….. so you’re telling me I can SHOP LOCAL and SAVE. MONEY?} Hazel’s Haven has proved it possible.

Since it’s been such a wild ride this week, I only took a few pictures in this sweatshirt, but you can see more on Hazel’s Haven’s Instagram, as well as on the Z Supply website. Next week, you’ll see a fun collaboration post with my talented sister, which will be the first segment in my Shop Local, A Guide to Fort Smith, Arkansas series that I’ll be running for the next couple of months. Stay tuned, and stay in touch!

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This picture is purely to show you the slit in the sides of the top — So adorable

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