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Tips & Tricks Tuesday🏑

Yesterday after I posted my microwave confession I decided I should embrace my cleaning obsession and make it a weekly share. I’m nonstop searching for and trying out cleaning and household products to find the best of the best. I’m also always looking for things that make my life easier and more efficient. So why not share so others can benefit from my crazy! πŸ€ͺ

Ever since I was younger I remember loving to clean, dust and reorganize my bedroom. I would randomly decide I needed a change and try to move around my furniture and reorganize. I loved helping my mom clean!! One of my jobs would be cleaning the carpeted stairs and I would use a heavy duty cleaning brush to get all the junk stuck in the crease….it would be so satisfying to get those suckers spotless! Oh and cleaning the giant solarium windows were another favorite! See this isn’t new, I was definitely born this way! Lol! Once in college after a breakup I spent days scouring my dorm room and our suite kitchen, I wreaked of cleaning products for days!!

Ok let’s move on, so every Tuesday I’ll share something I’ve found that works either for cleaning or any random tip that I’ve found makes life easier.

Today I’m starting with my hardwood floors because they were trashed after the holidays! My house is predominantly hardwood and I love it because it’s so much easier to clean than carpet! But my floors take quite a beating. Shoes are worn in the house, my littlest one is known to drag chairs around so she can reach things and my son bounces & dribbles ALL the balls!! I’m constantly yelling at the kids to stop running, pick things up and don’t drag stuff across the floor. Don’t judge on the balls in the house, totally my husband’s fault because he thinks it’s great that the kids are ‘practicing.’ πŸ™„ Not so great when a soccer ball kicked across the kitchen beheaded a pricey Disney Tinker Belle cookie jar I loved 🀬 Ok back to my floors…

I always clean my floors with Pine-Sol multi-surface, the one that says safe for use on hardwood floors. And I always say “that’s the power of Pine-Sol baby” multiple times while I’m cleaning 😬, it has to be done. But seriously, it smells so amazing and gets all the greasy or stuck on stuff up quick and easy. The real secret is how to get the floors sparkling. Holloway House Quick Shine is the trick and I buy a big bottle from Walmart . Put some in a simple spray bottle and don’t dilute. After my floor has dried completely, I spray a small area at a time and spread with a wet mop. I use a bucket with a little bit of water and a separate mop. I recommend using a separate mop because the solution is a bit tacky, I just buy one from the dollar store so I don’t get it confused with my regular mop. After you do the entire floor you need to let it dry completely because it is a tiny bit sticky when wet and you will see footprints. And voila done!!! Amazing shine! If your floors are super dull you can repeat and polish again once it dries. My floors seriously shine like new when I’m done without having to do anything expensive or permanent.

Go ahead, try it and tell me what you think!

~Elena 🧼

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Tis’ the Season πŸŽ„πŸ’Œ

It’s Christmas card season and I couldn’t be more excited! There’s just something about sending cards to family & friends near and far that I truly love. I remember even when I was younger picking out cards and writing a list of who I wanted to send to. I would check each name off as I sealed the card. As I got older my cards got nicer and the list got longer. Since having a family we’ve switched to photo cards and they tend to change from year to year as well. First it was the simple photo paper cards and now we’ve upgraded to card-stock with metallic shimmer or fancy edges. It does get pricier and pricier, every year I gasp as I close my eyes and hit the order button πŸ™ˆ. But there’s something about actual, real mail that just warms my heart. We print or order return address labels to match and my kids pick out special Christmas stamps at the post office.

So much more than sending cards, I love receiving them! We’ve moved quite a bit in our married life and sadly people get busy often loosing touch. But come December I get to see pictures of families who’ve grown, shots from peoples vacations, new homes, pets and a little glimpse into the lives of people I don’t get to see regularly. Every year we hang our cards on display somewhere in the house. A few years ago we moved them to our front entryway. From day to day I catch my kids loitering around the front door reading cards and looking at pictures. Every so often they’ll ask how we know someone and I explain whether it was a neighbor, colleague or distant relative then sharing with them where that person lives or a special memory. It’s such a great, personal way to keep in touch in our digital world.

Recently on a trip to the dollar store my girls asked if they could buy cards to write out for their classmates. My 12 year old has been doing it since she was in preschool. I would let her pick out a box of cards and help her write names on them. Then she would seal them up and tape a candy cane on the outside. Now I find both my girls sitting and addressing cards to their classmates and friends. My littlest making sure she has Christmas stickers sealing up the back and handwriting ‘Love’ followed by her name on each and every one! (My son not so much πŸ˜‚ )

I sometimes worry this tradition will end. It’s cheaper and easier to send a Merry Christmas text, or a mass email. Our lives have gotten so busy. The holidays so hectic. Lists get longer and shopping is out of control. So many people just don’t write cards anymore for whatever reason. I only hope my girls continue as they get older and pass this same Christmas tradition down to their kids, we could certainly all use more happy mail in our lives! πŸ’Œ.

~Elena πŸ’–

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Ten tips to survive holiday shopping πŸ›

This morning didn’t go as planned at my house. We seemed to be getting everything done and I had my day all planned out. But as the bus pulled up my 5 year old took off running back into the house crying. I can’t tell you why and she doesn’t seem to know why, but it knocked my day all out of whack. I had to drive her to school which put off my shower, laundry and errands it was downhill from there. I figured I would get stuff done at home and run errands after lunch. Bad choice! TJMaxx at 12:30 this time of year is not a pretty sight. And there is really nothing I need in the world bad enough that will make me torture myself by standing in that line! Needless to say I didn’t stay and ran to get groceries instead. There are a few things I’m pretty adamant about when I go shopping especially during the holidays! Planning ahead is key, so I thought I would share some of the tips I tend to go by.

1. Write down the sizes of your family members and keep it in your phone. (Stay tuned for Apps that help with this in #5!) It makes gift shopping so much easier when you can easily check shoe sizes and clothing sizes without second guessing yourself . Also helps avoid unnecessary returns and exchanges.

2. An App for all your reward cards is such a time and space saver. The KeyRing App is my favorite. I have all of my reward/loyalty cards in there. You can scan at any store from the app and even keep a photo of the front & back of each card . There’s even a Share option so I can easily share any card with my husband.

3. Make a list. How many times do you run errands and get home to realize you totally forgot the one place you needed to go to most πŸ˜– so frustrating!!

4. List what you need to get at each stop. This helps so much with not forgetting things and also to help stay on track.

5. AnyList App is such a time saver. No more forgetting lists on the kitchen counter and shopping blindly. I have a list for the grocery store, a dollar store list, Costco list, etc. I also keep a list year round with ‘gift ideas’ for people. This is such a huge help!! My husband might randomly mention a cologne at the mall or point out a style of shirt he’s got his eye on, I take a quick second to enter it in my phone and when a holiday comes up I’m all set!

6. Shop immediately when stores open. This one can be tough for me because I want to workout when my kids leave and then shower but I need to adjust my day, especially this time of year . Stores are quieter and so much cleaner when they first open. Plus it’s so much easier to get help if needed when stores aren’t crowded.

7. Check for store coupons before you go. Many stores have coupons right on their websites. You can’t always pull them up while you’re out whether it be bad service, not enough time or you forget. So take the time to check before you go. If all else fails ask your cashier. Lots of places have them at the register and will scan them for you if you just ask.

8. Always ask for and keep receipts. This helps so much with returns/exchanges… and often items may be reduced even more in the next day or two so having your receipt can get you money back.

9. Ask for boxes. I have gotten out of this habit because I didn’t think anyone did this anymore. I was at Loft not too long ago and the girl asked if I needed a box and she even boxed the item for me! It doesn’t hurt to ask πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

10. When in doubt buy it!! I second guess myself and make the mistake all the time of overthinking, without fail the item is always gone when I come to my senses. You can always return the item in a reasonable amount of time but once it’s gone it’s gone!

I actually love shopping but I can’t stand crowds, long lines and messy stores so these ten tips really help things run smooth and keep me from 🀯lol!

~Elena πŸ’–

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How in the world do you find time to read? πŸ“–

I get asked this question all the time! I love to read but I go through seasons in life when I just can’t seem to find the time. My ‘To Read’ list just gets longer and longer. I have a stack of books on my nightstand, a long queue list at the library and a ton of book screenshots saved in my phone. But I seriously love to read! So I decided I needed to prioritize and really do the things that make me happy.

We all find ourselves with ten or fifteen minutes here and there when we have time to kill. But instead of using those minutes wisely we scroll through the phone. What does that get me? 20 minutes of lost time!! We spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting at the doctors office. Waiting at the car mechanics. Waiting for our kids to come out of sports or after school activities. Waiting because we arrived somewhere early and don’t want to walk in yet. So I’ve totally changed my way of thinking. I always have a book with me. Whether you like hard copies or ebooks, you can always throw it in your purse or on the front seat of your car. It doesn’t take much planning to make sure you have it with you when you leave your house. Sometimes I have both the e-book and a hard copy. So now I read when I wait for my middle schooler to come out of cooking class. Or when my son has soccer and it’s freezing out, I’ll wait in the car and read. And I’m not much of a small talker so having a book on my lap in a waiting room really keeps people away πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ Believe me you look 100% smarter in a waiting room reading then you do staring blankly at a phone screen πŸ€“πŸ˜œ

Next …invest in a good book light. Not the crappy dollar store ones (believe me I’ve bought tons) but a good book light that attaches nicely to your book. This comes in handy at night in bed or even evenings when you’re waiting for someone in your car when it’s starting to get dark. When my husband is watching sports, a Halloween movie or a Carpenters documentary on tv πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ (it’s true) I’ll whip out the book light and can read without feeling like I’m disturbing anyone. My 12 year old now takes my book light in the car so she can read when I’m driving the girls to gymnastics in the dark.

Last, and this took my entire life until this past year to learn, if you can’t get in to a book it is ok to put it down! Don’t force yourself to read a book you’re not enjoying. I would hate to give up on a book. Then I would find myself re-reading chapters because I couldn’t understand things or I would avoid reading because the book just wasn’t working for me. So I have a 100 page rule. Some books just have a hard start but if you stick with them they are amazing!! So I try to make it to 100 pages. If I’m near there and still can’t get in to it, I allow myself to put it down. Most of the time I find that around 50 pages in it will grab me and pull me in, but if not I don’t feel bad moving on.

That’s it! It really just takes prioritizing a little bit. I enjoy reading and when I finish one that I really Love I’m so excited to start another. If you’ve read anything amazing lately let us know, there’s a little more space on my nightstand πŸ˜œπŸ“š

~Elena πŸ’–