Spring Cleaning + a DIY!

I don’t really know how I feel about Sundays. I really like that I get to be at home..sipping coffee, working around the house, & watching Netflix, but then there’s that impending moment where you realize “I don’t get to sleep in tomorrow!” and “It’s going to be 5 more days before I get this bliss again.” I’m currently caught between the two emotions, but I’m more on the happy side. The sun is shining, it’s beautiful outside, my sweet sweet nephew is coming over this afternoon, and the handsome husband is coming home in a few hours from the lake. And a happy Sunday to you!

I stayed home this weekend while Charles went to the lake for a few different reasons. First, I had a hair appointment on Friday afternoon that I was NOT going to miss. Second, our house needed a good cleaning + we needed groceries, etc. The plan for me was get my hair done on Friday afternoon, meet some girlfriends for dinner, and then Saturday morning, wake up and start re-organizing the kitchen, scrubbing everything, cleaning windows, cleaning the clutter in the guest bedrooms, wash the sheets and all the laundry, etc. I had lofty goals and I was in the right mindset to accomplish them. It’s so much easier to get things accomplished when your husband is out of town. I know you feel the same way.

This plan was on track until I woke up at 3 am on Saturday with what I believe to be food poisoning. It. Was. Miserable. I didn’t sleep, I had a headache, I was sick to my stomach..you name it, i had it. PLUS it was dreary and cold outside which didn’t help matters. Luckily I managed to get out of bed for short periods at a time in the morning, and was able to get all of the laundry done / sheets washed. I even managed to go later in the morning and stop by the local farmers market for some nice flowers before picking up some soup for myself. And look at these vintage taper candle sticks that I found for .99 cents at a thrift store? I was SO pleased. Luckily, we live in a day and age with Walmart to go groceries, so I even ordered my groceries from bed and all I had to go was pick them up. DIdn’t even have to get out of my car, & I went in my pjs. Luxury!

I did manage to finish all of the dishes, most of the dusting, washed the insides of all of the windows, cleaned the bathrooms, etc. I even felt well enough last night to go sing at church and go to dinner with my parents. I woke up this morning feeling SO refreshed and ready to go {I know..why couldn’t i have just felt this well and motivated yesterday?}

I want to share a quick DIY with you for something that helps me when I’m cleaning, and I hope it will help you, too! It’s DIY Toilet Bombs! There are literally the easiest things you’ll ever make, and they work SO well. I use these when I’m cleaning the toilets and it greatly extends the amount of time I need to go before I have to scrub the toilet again. It’s a busy time of year, one where you’re having BBQ’s, cookouts, bonfires, friends over, etc, so what better DIY is there to help with the increased bathroom traffic? I actually use these as garbage disposal cleaners as well. They are all natural, reduce odor, and clean + prevent dirt. Here’s how to make your own!

Here’s the cast of characters:

  • 1 + 1/3 cup baking soda {reduces odors, keeps clean}
  • 1/2 cup citric acid  {all natural! This is found in the fruits that we eat and causes the “fizzy” sensation of the bath bombs. It can be a pain to find..I found it by the mason jars in Wal-mart, but it took me three stores to find some!}
  • Essential oils of your choice  {I used a mixture of grapefruit, lemongrass, and lavender!}
  • Spray bottle of water  
  • Some sort of ice tray / silicone mold   

First you start making the bombs by mixing together the baking soda and the citric acid in a bowl. Mix well!

Next, take your spray bottle of water and add in your essential oils. You don’t need to add three, I only did because I love the way these smell. You really only need one! Don’t be stingy with the drops! You need between 30-50 drops of oil total. Shake well in the spray bottle of water! {added bonus, you’ll end up with leftover water + essential oil mixture..I recommend using this as a pillow spray to help you relax at night! I use this mixture on my pillow and can instantly feel myself relax and fade away into a fast and peaceful sleep!}

Next, spritz the citric acid + baking soda mix with the water {I used a small bottle and spritzed about 10 times at once.} IMPORTANT: make sure you don’t spritz more than this at one time, or else the citric acid will all fizz up and won’t work with the toilet bomb. Mix up well, and then repeat the spritzing and mix again. You’ll end up doing this for about five minutes. You know you’re done when your mixture has the consistency of wet sand.

You should be able to take a handful of the mixture, squeeze it in your hand, and have it stick together like below. That’s how you’ll know you are ready to go.

Once it’s reached this consistency, you’ll begin placing the mixture in your ice cube trays or silicone baking molds. I searched HIGH AND LOW in Target for some cute silicone ice molds {pineapples, hearts, ANYTHING} but all I could find were these regular ice trays. But get creative!! This can be SO fun. Make sure to FIRMLY pat them down in the trays, and don’t fill the trays too full, because this mixture will rise. Let sit in the trays for about 6 hours or less if they are hardened, and then remove.

Toss a “cube” into your toilet and let the fizzing begin! I swear you will fall in love with this DIY, you’re cleaning routine will thank me!

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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!

Every Day Skin Care Routine

Oh what a beautiful morning {or at least it is here in Arkansas!}

The sun is shining, it’s warm, the birds are chirping, the wind is blowing, and I have all of my windows open to let my house breathe {because even houses need a break!}

Last Sunday, we chatted about my lazy Sunday routine. The last several Sundays around our part of the world have been kind of gloomy, chilly, and thunderstormy. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those types of days where you cuddle up and nap all day, listening to thunder in the distance, but I am so thrilled that it’s so lovely outside. I’ve got a fresh pitcher of mojitos made and I think I’ll spend some quality time lounging around the backyard today!

On lazy Sundays, I typically pay a little more attention to my skincare and my haircare routines. I typically do a hair mask as well as a face mask and let them sit for an hour or so, and just amp up my everyday routine since I have the time {and since I typically don’t put on makeup on Sundays if I don’t have plans.} Today will be no exception, but it got me thinking that I wanted to share my every day skincare routine with  you all! I’m always on the hunt for great {and affordable…} skin care products, and I’ve picked up some fantastic finds lately.

Before I get started, I wanted to let you know that all of these products I actually use. This is not an ad, and all opinions are my own. Let’s get right into it!

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1- Burt’s Bee’s Cleansing Oil {view it here!} :: I don’t know about you guys, but I’m the kind of gal that gets home from work and wants to wash the whole day off of me. Makeup {and the bra…don’t lie…I know you do this TOO!} are typically the first two things to go. Burt’s Bee’s cleansing oil is an oil that you pump onto the back of your hand and put onto a dry face {again, I repeat, a dry face, as oils don’t work well when wet} and it instantly melts your makeup off and cleans your face. It’s even gentle enough to put right onto your eyelids, which is a big bonus for the contact wearers of the world like me. You can buy this at any drugstore.

2- Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water {view it here!} :: Once I use the dry oil by Burt’s Bee’s, I typically have racoon eyes, so I take a cotton puff and follow up with the Micellar Water from Garnier. Have you ever heard of Micellar Water? I hadn’t until recently. Micellar water lifts up dirt and makeup off of your face with ease. I use this instead of an astringent, as astringents {though I do love the tingly feeling..} make my face red and blotchy and typically irritate my skin. This water is gentle enough to put on your eyes, and it removes all excess makeup that the oil left behind {and bonus, it has no scent, so you aren’t stuck smelling like rubbing alcohol like you do with a lot of astringents..} Again, you can find this at the drugstore and it’s so inexpensive — especially when you consider the amount of product you get.

3- Garnier Invigorating Daily Scrub {view it here!} :: After removing the makeup with the first two products, I go in with this scrub, which has gentle exfoliating beads {nothing harsh} and smells like spearmint! I promise you, this is the one part of the morning {other than my coffee} that I truly look forward to. It has a spearmint smell and it is cool to your face, it instantly wake me up and depuffs my still asleep face.

4- Garnier SkinActive Miracle Anti-Fatigue Wake Up Gel {view it here!} :: Phew. Try saying this one three times fast. This moisturizer doesn’t feel as thick as most I’ve used in the past, and when you apply it to your face, you et that instant cool and refreshed feeling. A little goes a LONG way with this product, so you don’t have to apply much. I add about two drops of Orange Oil to this moisturizer, as orange oil brightens your face, and my face tends to look fatigued and a little drab if I skip this step!

5- Rodan + Fields REDEFINE Eye Cream {view it here!} :: Oookay, so this one isn’t quite a drugstore find and it’s a little on the pricier side, but it lasts FOREVER! Once my moisturizer dries {I cannot stress enough to you guys, whether you’re doing your makeup or your skin care routine, wait until the first product dries before using the next…it’s imperative}, I use this eye cream to get rid of wrinkles and crows feet, and let me tell you, this. stuff. works. I found out about it through a friend who sells it, and I have been so impressed. This is something that’s worth every penny and you should all probably go run out and try it right now.

What miracle products are you currently using? I’m always on the hunt!

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Sundays are for snuggles..

Is it just me, or does anyone else out there get “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson stuck in you head when you think of lazy, cozy sundays? I feel like the two go hand in hand.

No matter what kind of bottomless list of to-do’s my husband and I have to accomplish, somehow when Sundays roll around, staying at home and lounging around in comfy clothes cuddling on the couch with Cholla and Milli {who always, I repeat, always have to squeeze in between us like toddlers..}, and watching a movie {or a golf tournament…} seem to take precedence on our sundays.

This Sunday is no exception. Even with our never ending list of things we probably absolutely should be doing, we still felt that Pho Vietnam and movie watching on the couch will trump our chores today. I know that they say “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content,” and don’t get my wrong, I know there’s validity to that statement, but in our world, Saturday’s are for adventures and Sunday’s are for snuggles. 

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When I lounge, I love a few tried – and – true things: A messy bun, a cozy sweater, and some sort of ripped denim. This sweater is from a local boutique with the sweetest owners {that are also sisters!}. It’s called Indie {how perfect is that name for a boutique? As a special treat for all of you – they just announced today that they will be launching their online store very soon! Go enter your email address here and be the first to know when they go live!} I pair this sweater with a variety of pieces in my closet – jeans, maxi skirts and even over floral dresses for a unique twist. I still kick myself for not buying the grey version of this top when I had the chance. My ripped denim is my absolute favorite pair. You guessed it, they’re from Suite One and they are the brand JustBlack {like I could make it through the day without wearing at least something from Suite One…}

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I also have a love for rings. Rings are kind of my kryptonite – they’re my favorite accessory bar none. The two gold rings are from Suite One and I am wearing one as a regular ring and one as a midi ring. The midi ring by my wedding ring is also from Suite One. The final ring I’m wearing is from Old Navy {find it here!}.

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I love drinking coffee throughout the day on Sundays. I’m not really sure why, but I just love cuddling up under a nice blanket and sipping on a hot cup of coffee. I switch up my mugs often – I’m kind of a coffee mug addict. The mug I used in this picture is from Target {this one here!} and I’m loving the funky flair it has. I originally bought a few of these to use in place of copper mugs when I drink my moscow mules, but the cup is versatile and can be used for hot or cold beverages.

What are some of your favorite things to do on a Sunday? If you want to stay in bed all day, I hereby give you permission {you can thank my by hitting the follow button… }

Don’t forget to check out my instagram to stay in touch – link is in the sidebar!

And we’re off

Home Office

With many sleepless nights and countless cups of coffee behind me, I’m STOKED to finally bring to you all Right Up Our Alley – A fashion and lifestyle blog by ME {Michele Alley!} When you have a last name like Alley, you sort of, kind of, are required to use it anyway you can.

To kickoff this party, I want to tell you a bit about myself {don’t worry, this won’t be an every-blog-post-occurence {trust me, this is not that kind of blog}.

My name is Michele Alley. I live in a small town in Arkansas with my husband Charles and our two overly adorable dobermans, Cholla and Milli. My husband and I both has 8 to 5 jobs, but we are very much work-to-live and not live-to-work kind of people. We enjoy being together, living life slowly, and enjoying every minute. I’ve always had a love of writing things down – you’ll never rarely catch me using my cell phone for notes or grocery lists – I’m a pad and paper kind of girl, and blogging has always been something that’s excited me.

As far as my style goes, I wish I could tell you what you’ll expect to see from this blog. My style varies – you’ll catch me in things that are on the more edgy, funkier end {such as below}, or you might catch me in something very minimalistic, such as blue jeans and a cozy sweater. My fashion varies based on my mood – I usually dress the way I’m feeling…I guess that explains why I can never pick my outfits out in advance. I break a ton of “rules” of fashion {mainly because I don’t know all of the rules..and who doesn’t love to break a good rule}. I’m a religious offender of the hairband on your wrist faux pas {sorry mom, you taught me better!} My nails are bare a good deal of the time, although I’m trying to get better at this one. My closet is basically work-to-play fashion, if I can’t find some way to transition a piece from work to play, I have a serious mental tug-o-war situation going on before I make the purchase. I’m truly bringing you things that are “Right up Our Alley.”

It took me a long time to find my style and stop purchasing things just because everyone else was! Feeling confident never came easy for me, but the game is changing. I hope you stick around on this blog, I hope you share with your friends, and I hope you find the fashion that is right up your own alley.

With that out of the way, let me bringing you my first outfit! You’ll probably get sick of me talking about my FAVORITE place to shop {Suite One Boutique in Fort Smith, AR – check them out here!} This entire outfit was from Suite One Boutique – and you can find in store or on their website.

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ShoesQupid – lace up and peep toe, and for UNDER $50! Insane. Jeans – JustBlack – inexpensive and they feel like pajamas. And the fit? Nothing better than the fit. V-Neck tank – Lush – comfiest thing you’ll put on, guaranteed. I have them in four colors, and they also come in regular v-neck tees. Bralette – not sure on the brand, but from Suite One as well, for only $20! It’s criss-crossed, which adds such an edgy and interesting touch to anything you wear it with.

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Check the blog out on instagram – rightupouralley – and stay tuned for a fun giveaway! {Oh, and if you want to click the follow button to the side here, I wouldn’t hate it!}