Tuesday, January 13, 2015

8 Smart Choices That Will Breathe Fresh Life Into Your Home

It's frigid outside in this neck of the woods.  Icicles hang hardened by blustery wind.  The sky's the color of bleached slate and we nestle inside, ladling hot soup into bowls ready and waiting.

We curl up by the warm glow of candlelight or fireside, faded sweatshirt atop turtleneck layered to keep us warm, fuzzy vests and well-worn slipper socks comforting us with their soft touch.  We embark on endless wintertime hours with a faded quilt tucked snug, books and handwork and laptops at the ready.  Quiet music plays ... or the television drones.

And somewhere deep within us, there's a winsome place that longs for huge breaths of fresh life ... even though spring .  is .  months .  away.

But these eight choices? 

Most are fairly simple.  Yes, they might expend some energy ... and yet only one or two require a bit of cash.  These tasks completed bring a contended sigh of relief.  A smile that wends its way down to the soul.  The encouragement of a job well done.  And gratitude for the haven that over time, has become our space, our place.

Home. 

Yes, these we can do ...
 
 
 
  
 #1.  fling those windows wide open
 
Even if it's only 15 degrees out and the wind is blowing mightily, I've been opening a window or two when I change the linens, clean the bathrooms, or when some heavy-duty cooking threatens to make the house smell like homemade chicken soup forever. 
 
Our rooms are just begging for fresh breezes to visit and flow freely, even if just for a few minutes.  Stale air, nestling germs, and airborne dust mites have no choice but to flee.
 
Sure beats a chemical-laden air freshener, yes? 
 
We definitely sleep better at night when that window is cracked just a wee bit.  And sometimes we may even get to hear a lone bird chirping a solitary winter song.



 
 
 
 



 

 
 #2.  bid a fond farewell to all things Christmas
 
Nobody hates saying good-bye to the window lights more than I do.  I so love their twinkling glow on a dark winter's night, welcoming me home after a long day's work. 

But they've been up and running since mid-October.  Enough already.
 
And it's time to deliver the last of the gifts, read the cards one more time, roll up the wrapping paper, pack the decorations well, and toss or donate anything and everything that's not worth holding on to.
 
Go ahead and keep a little light aglow or a tiny, fluffy snowman here and there if you'd like.
 
But around here?  I'm done and happy to welcome my home back to its simple pre-holiday stillness.  




 

#3.  clean out & clean off the fridge

Inside and out, this appliance is always in use.  Opening the doors, tossing anything that's past expiration or looking a bit strange, and giving it a good scrub down is a not-at-all fun but necessary chore.

And if the fridge is sagging under the weight of endless magnets holding up all manner of receipts, notices, artwork, lists, bills, take-out menus, and photos?

Well, it's time to be ruthless.  Our family to-do list goes on the white board.  That stays.

The kids' pictures are in individual frames that cost about 79 cents a piece.  Love that.

And I always need quick access to scrap paper and a pen.

Done.

Everything else that's been hanging around? 

Outta there. 

 

 
#4.  replace the grungy shower curtain

 
Enough said.  Who needs mold or mildew taking up residence in what should be one of the cleanest spaces in our homes?  For $2.99, I love this crisp, clear plastic sheet that lines the toile curtain.

And while we're in the bathroom, it takes all of about a half hour to empty the medicine cabinet shelves and the random drawers, clean them good, and toss any expired meds and all other objects past their prime.  If you're unsure if a medication should stay or go, give your pharmacist a buzz.


#5.  dig out the good linens & put them to work

 
Far too often we tuck away precious possessions that, put to good use, would give us real pleasure.  This quilt is one of my favorite things, a lovely treasure discovered in my mother-in-law's cedar chest.  Yes, I'm very careful with it and the bed is strictly off limits to the little ones when it comes to trampoline bouncing. 

I use this handcrafted spread often, with great appreciation for the still vibrant colors and exquisite craftsmanship.  And very fond memories of the woman who raised the man I married. 
 
With the right care, some quilts can be wonderful accessories that travel with ease around our homes.  The quilt back up in picture #1 just came out of the washer and dryer after its annual stint as a Christmas tree skirt.  It's also made appearances as a tablecloth {when we weren't dining}, and as a cozy throw over sofas and chairs.  For $39 at a tag sale, that vintage baby's been a real good friend.


#6.  toss those old newspapers & magazines


More than 6 months old?  You can bet that if they haven't been read by now, they probably never will be.  Gently used magazines get shared with family, friends, or donated to the library.  And newspapers get recycled.


#7.  snip something crisp & alive on a winter's walk


Whether it's those wonderful bittersweet vines, fragrant boughs of evergreen, or dried pods and seeds still hanging in there, I love grabbing the snippers and bringing an armload of nature's treasures indoors.  And the brisk walk to head there and back again?  Very much needed right about now.


#8.  finish up a project

 
My eldest daughter couldn't say 'no' to this FREE vintage buffet, a leftover from her neighbor's garage sale.  The thing weighs a ton, and the endless sanding and repair took more time than she would have liked.  But determined to get her car back inside the garage for the winter, she recently wrapped up her big redo. 
 
Now painted a crisp white, the old buffet has morphed into a wonderful storage workhorse with a whole bunch of drawers where the little ones to store their bountiful craft supplies ... and several big ol' cubbies that hold their stash of puzzles and games.
 
All for the cost of some paint ... plus a whole lot of love-fueled energy.
 
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What are you doing to breathe life into your mid-winter home?
 
Any projects underway ... or homekeeping tips to share?
 
Do tell!
 
 
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visiting with Mary & Holley

46 comments:

  1. I am currently under a blanket, even down here in the south. This time of year I just want to hibernate, maybe with a good book! Too bad the world doesn't let me.
    I love your quilts! There is nothing like them to say "home."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blanket? Check.

      Good book? Check.

      Especially yesterday when our furnace bit the dust for more than a few hours!

      Sigh.

      Thanks for kicking off the conversation for this post,Sarah! I just know it's gonna be a good one!
      Stay cozy, friend ...

      Delete
  2. My home is getting new life by simply getting rid of things and cleaning the bare spots.

    A friend visited on Saturday. As our conversation wandered, she mentioned something she needed. I jumped up with an "Oh, I have that!" and transferred ownership of the item on the spot. This happened several times during that visit.

    I was speaking with another friend on the phone this morning. She mentioned index cards and a soup thermos. Those items are now in a bag in my car, waiting to be delivered to her house.

    My husband and I are working on larger purges of belongings and we are both enjoying more breathing room in our home this winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So cool how you're sharing those things that are taking up too much real estate 'round your place, Debby. And believe it or not, we just had the thermos conversation around here last night, too ... and 2 like-new stainless ones are now in our pile headed for The Barn Resale Shop.

      After all, how many thermoses can you use at one time?

      ;-}

      Delete
  3. I'm not sure I'm ready for open windows just yet, but I do love your suggestions, Linda. :) I still have a few Christmas things I need to put away, and I have been cleaning out my fridge. I hope to get in some winter walks soon! Blessings to you, friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lisa!

      It was the lingering smell of roasting meat in the middle of the night that made me realize I so needed to breathe some fresh Hudson Valley air ... even if just a little.

      Maybe I should just sleep outside in a tent.

      mmm ... nope. Too COLD!

      brrrr ....

      :-}

      Delete
  4. Love your suggestions Linda, although my wife would definitely have something to say about opening windows. She already sleeps with a quilt, comforter, and flannel bed sheet. Talk about thinking I have ended up in you-know-where when I wake up! The rest of these suggestions I let my domestic engineer take care of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, what a wise man you are!

      But I'm with her ... flannel sheets, electric blankets, quilt ... AND an open window. You get the best of both worlds!

      ;-}

      Delete
  5. WHEW---and then a nap!!!! Bittersweet---I am so jealous!

    BUT Spring will be coming here---1st of March things will begin to happen! Remind me of my gloating in July when it is so hot you could cook an egg on the sidewalk!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love winter in Texas! Warm breezes, pansies blooming, lots of sunshine ... AND open windows, of course!

      But give me the Northeast over the South come summer, Lulu ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  6. Great ideas! I open my deck door often enough when I am capturing my sunset pictures on my phone. I do have Christmas put away but the snowman collection will stay out a while longer. As for other ways to freshen inside my home-not sure! I will love having the extra time in retirement to do just that! Thank you as always for challenging us during this long winer season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few friends love their snowmen collection, too! I'm sure they'll be keeping company together for awhile longer!

      It's sure cold enough tonight to keep any snowmen alive and well.

      ;-}

      Delete
  7. Two words.

    Hawaiian Pizza.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At ten degrees above zero right now, anything Hawaiian is sounding mighty appealing!

      ;-}

      Delete
  8. The Christmas tree is down!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ho ho ho ... in your spare time, right?

      ;-}

      Delete
  9. Auntie Leela,
    I loved reading your suggestions. While the window idea is a nice one, I would like to stay warm and not freeze my little bunions off. I would love to clean the fridge but I am scared at what I might find. Glad you are finding ways to make your home shine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, it's a bunion-freezin' night out there, Ash.

      But you've made my heart warm with your visit here. In fact, you've made my day!

      Come back again soon, will ya?

      Hugs ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  10. Thanks for all the fresh ideas. A bit cold to open windows today at -20 C in Ontario, but I otherwise love the invigorating smell of cold, winter air :) Having a clean fridge at our place came not by choice - the new stainless steel fridge we got several years ago was not magnetic (surprising right). Once I got used to it (and got a bulletin board for things that actually did need to be displayed), I really loved the lack of clutter!
    Blessings,
    Kamea
    incrementalhealing.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you, Kamea! Everyone needs a good bulletin board, white board, or some command central place in their houses! Saves alot of aggravation when looking for that illusive must-have-right-now piece of paper!

      Thanks for joining us here today. I'm so glad you did!

      ;-}

      Delete
  11. Hello! Visiting from Holley's Link Up!

    Wow, great tips! Thanks for sharing! Here's for a Fresh New Year! Blessings to you and yours!

    www.angiebenju.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you've dropped in. Thanks, Angie!

      Delete
  12. So refreshing! Thank you for these tips. I love how cleaning out the clutter in my home, especially after the holidays, helps my soul to feel a little lighter too. You have a lovely site, and I'm glad to find you through Holley's link up. Blessings, Renee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Renee. Your words have encouraged me today ... grateful I am!

      Delete
  13. Linda,
    I think we're on the same wavelength with our posts today! I had to look up where you were from since you mentioned the blustery days -- I'm sure New York is beautiful -- but cold -- it made me glad I live in Florida! :)
    And I love the buffet -- nice furniture makeover! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, Kristin did a fabulous job on that buffet. I'd love to find something similar to corral all those bits and pieces that need a secure home ... and it would make a cool TV stand.

      Our posts were similar, yes! Great minds?

      Blessings, friend.

      Delete
  14. I don't even know if we are really related! I am in Boston, wearing a T-shirt and drinking an iced tea while reading your blog about fleece, blankets, vests, and being cozy. I love your 8 ideas, but then I went into my room and there are my two large totes that say "winter clothes" on them, and I haven't even taken anything out of them yet except for my gloves! The answer is "NO" to opening the windows to air out the house - that is what keeps my house cozy. Loved the pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're TOO MUCH!! After all these 55+ years, you still crack me up! I'd wager $ right about now that absolutely no one in Boston is wearing a T-shirt and drinking a glass of iced tea while their winter clothes are still packed away.

      No wonder your house needs to be cozy!

      Love you, Marilyn ...

      Delete
  15. OK, OK, OK. I cleaned off my fridge - kind of, but did get rid of the magnetic nativity set, and the countdown to Christmas scrapbook page! I'll clean the inside tomorrow, or not! and i put away a couple stray Christmas stuff....well i mean i gathered them all in one place so when hubby gets home this Friday he can put them away. He is in charge of all things Christmas - of the storage variety. and I did all that because of this blog. would you like to come live with me and coach this ADHD person through the rest of the house! Loved this. thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I'm getting motivated right about now! It makes me smile to hear that this has worked for you, Carol ...

      Won't your man be shocked / delighted / estatic when he returns home tomorrow!

      Thanks for sharing your victory lap with us!

      ;-}

      Delete
  16. Hi Linda! These are such practical things to do to feel new again. My husband and I just plowed through the clutter in our family room. Not because it's winter, but because it's now my bedroom, and the clutter is a hazard for hopping! Yikes, there was some really old stuff hanging around. Our recycling bin is loaded.

    You would just despise our refrigerator. It's loaded with photos and magnets. I can't get my husband to part with magnets. He would paper the whole thing with any size and shape if I let him. Oh well, compromise, compromise. At least our family room/bedroom is looking good!
    Have a good rest my friend,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate that your leg is broken.

      ;-{

      But I love hearing that you guys were able to create a lovely new space for you to rest at night, Ceil. Hopefully, tossing the clutter was good medicine for you, too! And the good news is that if you can't find something you're looking for, it just might be hanging on the fridge!!!

      ;-}

      And you know I continue to pray for your healing, your comfort, your peace ...

      Delete
  17. I can't guarantee I'll get my Christmas decorations put away in the next few days, but I can't wait to open up the windows this weekend. We've been sick and I'm anxious to let the germs out and the fresh air in! Thanks for linking up to WFMW!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WFMW has been one of the consistently best link-ups I've been a part of. Best = new friends coming to call.

      Mary's just taken on the mantle of hostess ... and her link is above at the bottom of the post. If you're looking for a community to share your writing with, check it out.

      ;-}

      Delete
  18. Oh, now I just love this list. I love how coming here is always a breath of fresh air. Seriously, friend, I adore you. Christmas decorations finally came down yesterday (except the bare tree that still needs to be packed up). And I do love when the cleaning lady comes and she leaves all the curtains open . . . while the windows are not open when I come home it just feels fresher. You think she's opens those windows while she's here? My husband is the project man around the house but I would love to spend some time this winter setting up the extra room to be my office. Thanks for the inspiration. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a friend who kept her tree out on her screened in porch with the lights on for quite awhile after Christmas. It was so pretty, even after it's time indoors ...

      And your cleaning lady? She'd have a great time with her dust cloth around here!

      ;-}

      Delete
    2. She was hired to help me through the deployment. So far hubs hasn't asked why she's still coming so I'm keeping her. lol.

      Love our time together today. Much love. xoxo

      Delete
    3. Love that he hasn't asked ...

      ;-}

      Sabbath blessings, Beth.

      Delete
  19. You gave me a chill when I saw the open window! Ha. That had to be cold!! I'm a warm weather person :)

    The old blankets remind me of the ones my grandmother made for us. There is nothing better than those warm hand-made blankets.
    And you've reminded of some magazines that need to be cleaned out! :)
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it doesn't stay open too long, trust me!

      Stay cozy, friend ... and that you have your Grandma's handmade blankets? What a gift she's shared!

      ;-}

      Delete
  20. ok, so here i am again. I cleaned out three of the shelves in my refrigerator. (will do the bins later). Give me a break, I started! Found three partial packages of hot dog buns. who knew. we hardly ever eat hot dog buns. threw one pack away!

    and I am 1/2 done with putting the top of my desk into a box - i will have an uncluttered desk by the end of the day and a box to sort out and go through...and find or created spaces for what i need to keep that doesn't have a home. I will make the box be my goal for next week.

    ok back to my desk. I will l finish it. i will even wipe it off! I can't wait.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're motivating us all, Carol! You go, girl! Please keep us posted with your accomplishments. This is so cool. Your husband won't know what to do when he gets home after his week away!

      Love it!

      Delete
  21. I love these winter-time tips, Linda! And that white quilt in the first photo looks identical to one my husband's grandmother quilted and gave to us years ago. I treasure it . . . as I treasure our long-distance friendship! Hugs to you and have a very blessed New Year, if I haven't already wished you one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those old quilts, the fond memories, our long distance friendship?

      Absolute keepers, my friend.

      Hope you're staying cozy and warm ...

      Delete
  22. I need to do every single one of these! Thanks for the reminders. I drive my family crazy because I never open the windows. I know it is so necessary, but I'm a city girl and get a little fearful to have open windows. I'm going to step out in faith and get some fresh air today ;)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have fun picking and choosing, Candace! As I read all the conversation here, I just get more motivated to get some things done!

      And then head off for a long winter's nap ...

      ;-}

      Delete

Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...

Linda

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