5 Tips: Shortcuts to Clean, Clutter Free Living

By Kim Vargo / 04.30.14

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For almost 6 years, Scott and I lived in a less than 700 square foot condo. Last summer, we doubled our square footage when we moved into a house down the street, and to say that our cleaning routine has shifted would be an understatement! (Not to mention, we’ve been renovating room-by-room ever since, causing quite the dust storm on the daily.) During this transition, our little family grew from a three pet household to four, and between juggling full time jobs and every day life, we’re often asked how we’re able to keep things looking clutter free and feeling fresh while keeping pet fur at bay. Here are five tips and shortcuts that work for us, allowing us to live our lives and not be a slave to the chore list.

 

ONE: Contain the Clutter

In our former condo, we used an old cigar box to hide our jumble of keys in the foyer, and you’ll find an apple crate in our home for stashing blankets and overflow pillows. Simply by containing the “stuff,” you’ll find that your house will feel visually lighter, and by using atypical outside-the-box bins, you’ll add style with function. Think: oversized woven baskets for toys and board games or a vintage plate for resting your rings, earrings and bobby pins.

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TWO: Mind your pets

Maintaining our pets’ fuzzy coats is huge for us. Not only is it obviously beneficial to their health, but your home will thank you for it! We love the Furminator for brushings, and we wipe off our pups’ paws after walks or outdoor playtime.

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THREE: Take a deep breath

Too many chemicals can linger and feel harsh on the nose, so we opt for lighter pet-friendly solutions such as Mrs. Meyers, J.R. Watkins or good old vinegar + water. For our home’s textiles, we’ll spritz them with our homemade fabric refresher, a solution of distilled water, essential oils and vodka. And as silly as it may seem, we like to “reward” ourselves by lighting a softly scented candle at the end of a quick cleaning spree. Tip: When kicking up dust during a cleaning session, open those windows and allow that allergy inducing dust to escape!

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FOUR: Use the right tools

Gone are the days when you’ll need feather dusters, paper towels and old socks! As simple as this may seem, knowing the right tools to use to get the job done can cut your cleaning time in half. We swear by microfiber cloths and floor pads for virtually everything, as the material allows for dust to be truly trapped within the fabric with virtually no debris left behind. Not to mention, it’s better for the environment; just throw ‘em in the laundry when you’re done! (Below, Jack monitors our progress as we clean up demolition dust.) Newspaper is a great vehicle for steak free windows, and for bathroom cleaning, we swear by Magic Erasers. Fun fact: Magic Erasers are simply melamine foam, an open-cell foam that acts similar to the finest sandpaper for tough jobs!

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FIVE: Create new habits

The best way to avoid an entire weekend devoted to cleaning your home? Fall into daily, healthy habits that show your home you care. Load the dishwasher before bed and fold your throw blanket when you’re done using it. Pick up the least expensive floral bundle a couple times a month and spread the blooms around your home. Remove small pet fur build up using a lint roller on your bedding as a part of your morning routine. And don’t forget – make your bed in the morning! These small tasks take only a minute (if not seconds), yet they’ll save you from a few days or a week’s worth of build up and dust. I promise you’ll be amazed at how much quicker your deeper cleans will go.

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With so many of us having a full plate, so to speak, cleaning your home shouldn’t feel daunting. Allowing yourself 15 minutes every other day to break off manageable chunks will set you up for success! My biggest piece of advice? Know thyself. If you’re a list maker and love checking off to-do items (like I do!), perhaps sticking to an easy to follow cleaning schedule would be most beneficial to you. Do you work best to your favorite playlist and setting aside a couple hours once a week? That’s okay! Find a groove that works for you, but most importantly, stick to it.

 

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Getting in the Frame: Mother-Daughter Selfies

By Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman / 04.28.14

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© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014

As child photographers, we have a responsibility to capture emotion, moments and people that matter most to each other.

We capture families, we freeze the fleeting moments of childhood, and we most likely photograph a lot in our own homes (maybe some of us to the point of annoyance to those in said home).

But when was the last time you jumped into that frame? When was the last time you created your own memory and a memory of you for your children?

In 2013, I took on the challenge of a 365 project. Though absolutely brutal at times, it really forced my hand to get outside of myself, go beyond the comfort zone of what I’d normally shoot. What culminated as I looked back over the past year was that there were more images of me and my daughter than I ever captured before, and moments I can still feel months and months later by looking at these images.

It lent itself to more meaningful ‘selfies’ than I have ever taken of myself, thus resulting in me being in the moment versus being the ‘documenter’ of the moment.

And it felt GOOD.

Let’s be real. No one really loves the camera, especially us women who tend to feel if the hair roots aren’t done, the weight isn’t shed, and the wrinkles aren’t minimized, that we will take a ‘pass,’ thank you.

I’m here to urge you to knock that nonsense out of your brain and think on this… years from now, say 10, when your now six year old looks back on these images, do you think she’d say ‘Wow Mom I cannot believe you allowed yourself to be photographed before you lost those 15 pounds.’ Sounds insane right? Because it IS.

For those with children, years from now they will ache to see you in the frame. Their history is you, so why aren’t you anywhere to be found?

Whether it’s with a dslr, point + shoot or your phone, whether it’s a wireless remote, an arms length stretch, or a camera’s self timer, the time is now to get in the shot. And it doesn’t have to be you both smiling and looking dead at the camera, though that is certainly one way.

It can manifest in many ways… from the silly to the dramatic to the natural fun that happens when kids know that shutter is going to click.

And remember it does not have to be perfect, it just has to have you in it. This isn’t for a client. This is for you. This is for them.

My favorite way to get in the picture and take a selfie? My camera’s self timer.

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© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014

I asked some of my photographer friends to show me their favorite selfies with their kiddos and how they achieved their results.

Summer Murdock had her camera propped on a pillow and just kept hitting the shutter for these amazing fun and in your face moments:

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©Summer Murdock Photography 2014

Susan Keller had a wireless remote for these awesome shots with her son, passing the time the way they love to do. After playing around with a few shots, they weren’t packing the emotional punch she knew they could, so she switched the camera position, where the light was trickier {less bright light, longer shutter speed, not as crisp of a picture she explained} but the results? CONNECTION PERFECTION:

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©Susan Keller Photography 2014

Want your child in your selfie without resistance? Put THEM in charge. Amy’s son Jack had the honor of running and pushing the self timer button for this gorgeous capture.

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©Amy Martin Bernard

And don’t forget, the good ol’ set it up and hand it off method. Liz LaBianca put the settings in her camera and handed it off to her husband to get this beautiful image of her and her new baby girl:

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©Liz LaBianca Photography 2014

Finally, ‘you’ in the frame doesn’t mean you need your entire face or body in thee frame. It can be just even a wee bit of you and still provide all that is needed for the memory.

Like these shots.

My little girl came home to brand new bedding one afternoon which she was so excited to sleep in. I jumped in the bed with her at bedtime and held the camera out in front at arm’s length. She started hysterical laughing and I just shot away. Even though you can only see a part of me, I was there with her, laughing along and embracing the moment and whatever my camera produced.

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© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014

So alleviate the pressure to be ‘perfect’ off of yourself AND the shot, and just let it happen. It’s the best Mother’s Day gift you could give to yourself.

 

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Mother’s Day Gift Box

By Joanna Goddard / 04.25.14

 

This post about Pinhole Press was first published on A Cup of Jo. You can view the original post here.

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Pinhole Press, the company that makes simple photo gifts, has a new collection of beautiful gift boxes. We made the blue one for my mom, and it features a personalized photo notepad, scented candles and Swiss chocolates. The other boxes have soap, tea and jam. They’re super easy to create, and they would be so much fun to open.

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P.S. Past gifts: A notepad and brag book.

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Mother’s Day Brunch: 5-Ingredient Jam Rolls

By Erin Phraner / 04.23.14

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The key to a successful brunch is a simple menu. This Mother’s Day—whether you’re in charge for making the special meal yourself or you’re looking for an easy recipe dad and the kids can tackle—pare down and focus on one fabulous baked good!

This wow-the-crowd jam roll recipe only calls for 5 ingredients, and it’s ready in fewer than 35 minutes. You see, the best shortcut for making breakfast pastries at home is store-bought dough. My favorite: new seamless crescent dough sheets! They’re one solid roll of dough that you can customize a million different ways. Here I rolled ‘em up with good-quality jam, fresh berries and melted butter—topped with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar, you’d never know that the base wasn’t homemade!

Want to show mom how much you really care? Swap in her favorite jam flavor for a personalized treat. You can bake these rolls in a plain 9-inch pie plate but feel free to get fancy with a cute cast-iron skillet or other baking dish of a similar size. Even better: Buy mom a decorative pie plate—love this Poppy Ring Pie Pan from Anthropologie!—bake the rolls in it and wrap it all up as a complete gift for your loving lady.

If you can’t find the seamless dough sheets, no worries! Snag yourself 2 (8-ounce) rolls regular crescent roll dough. On a lightly floured surface, unroll the sheets and press the perforated seems together to make one full rectangle of dough. No matter which dough product you use, make sure you roll the dough up tightly before slicing. Loosey-goosey rolls are difficult to work with—they make a mess and often end up unraveling while you transfer ‘em to the dish.

Looking for a make-ahead tip? Assemble these rolls up to step 4 the night before and store, covered, in the refrigerator over night. Let the rolls come to room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.

Oh! If you’re willing to splurge on an extra ingredient or two, mix a little orange zest and/or raspberry liqueur into the filling. For a quick glaze, whisk 1 cup confectioners’ sugar  and 1 to 2 tablespoons buttermilk until smooth. Drizzle that over the still-warm rolls in place of confectioners’ sugar!

 

5-INGREDIENT JAM ROLLS

SERVES: 6 to 8

 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan

1 (6-ounce) container raspberries

1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam (the jam in the recipe shown is available in this Mother’s Day gift box)

2 (8-ounce) flaky dough sheet rolls (such as Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations)

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

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1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with melted butter; set aside.

2. Stir together the raspberries and jam in a medium bowl, crushing the berries gently into smaller pieces.

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3. One sheet at a time, unroll the dough on a lightly floured surface. Spread half of the berry mixture over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Tightly roll up and place on a cutting board, seam-side down. Slice into 1-inch-thick rolls. Arrange, cut-side up, in the prepared plate. Repeat with remaining roll and berry mixture.

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4. Bake the rolls 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan 5 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Hot Tip: Serve leftovers for dessert! Reheat in the microwave and serve topped with vanilla ice cream. 

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CLOSED: MOTHER’S DAY GIVEAWAY PINHOLE PRESS + BRIKA

04.21.14

We agree – Mom’s the best. But, this Mother’s Day, you can’t blame us for wanting to make you feel special too.

We’ve partnered with BRIKA, the well-known boutique for gifts by talented artisans, to give you the chance to win two gift certificates - $150 to Pinhole Press and $150 to BRIKA. This way, you can buy something for Mom and something for yourself!

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Sharing our mutual obsession for unique gifts, BRIKA brings you a curated collection of well-crafted goods from over 200+ artisans and designers from across North America.

We couldn’t resist this polka dot tote (pictured above) from Anna Joyce. Or, if you are looking to put together a great gift, pair their best selling chevron cutting board by Brad Weckesser with a few photo magnets featuring your favorite recipes. BONUS: Save 20% off your first BRIKA purchase with code: PINHOLE20 (valid until April 30th). 

Whatever you do, don’t wait any longer and enter the $300 giveaway! Winners will be announced May 1st. UPDATE: Natalie C. was our winner. Thank you to everyone who entered!

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