Spring Cleaning 101: Follow These Steps to Save Time and Energy

For many of us, spring cleaning is a dreaded task. You have a year (or more) of dirt and dust to get rid of, and you’re looking at hours of spraying, wiping, vacuuming, mopping, and sweeping. Sound familiar? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Below are some foolproof tips to help you strategize your time and minimize frustration, so pull on your cleaning gloves and turn up the music as you check each of these items off your list.

Tip: Before you begin, do yourself a favour and complete some basic stretches, like these, to help prevent muscle pulls and strains.

In the kitchen:

  • Work top to bottom – wipe away dirt and dust from the upper cabinets and counter-tops before sweeping and mopping the floor.
  • Before spraying and wiping up counter-tops and dining room tables, use a napkin to push crumbs and dust onto the floor. Vigorously shake place-mats and tablecloths above the floor to get rid of crumbs.
  • If possible, move tables, chairs, and appliances aside in order to get your broom/vacuum/mop into hard-to-reach places.
  • To avoid back pain when sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping, bend your knees rather than your back. So, instead of bending at the waist, bend both knees while keeping your torso straight, letting your arms and legs do all the work.
  • Sweep towards the centre of the room, creating one big pile. If you have a mini duster and dustpan, squat down (instead of reaching down) while you sweep the pile into the pan. If you just have a large broom, it helps to have someone else hold the pan in place while you sweep the contents into it.
  • Clean your microwave and electric kettle with vinegar – find out how and why that works here and here.
  • Be careful to not use too much spray on counter-tops as that can leave a grimy or greasy residue.
  • Dishwashers and ovens often come with a self-cleaning option, so let those run if they’re available.
  • After mopping the floor, use an old bath towel to absorb the moisture.

In your bathrooms:

  • Use an all-purpose cleaner that will work on every surface – the floor, sink, faucets, shower tiles, tub, toilet, counter-tops, etc. (Browse through eco-friendly cleaners here.)
  • Wipe away streaks on your mirror with a soft cleaning cloth (as opposed to napkins or paper towels, which often leave behind bits of lint). Use the all-purpose cleaner or a specialized mirror cleaner.
  • If possible, turn off your ceiling fan and overhead lights and wipe them by hand or use a small vacuum to get rid of dust and mold.
  • Sweep up – you may be surprised at how much dust and hair will appear.
  • For a really deep clean, don’t forget to scrub shower curtains/doors, wipe the insides of cabinets and cupboards with a wet towel, throw bath mats and towels into the laundry, and use a disinfectant spray to clean the garbage bin and doorknobs.

In your bedroom:

  • Dust accumulates everywhere, so make sure to wipe everything down (including window sills, bedside cabinets, desks, lamps, drapes, and so on).
  • Remove everything from your cabinets, bookshelves, and drawers. Use a dampened cloth to wipe up the dust from the shelves and drawers, then let them air dry while you reorganize their contents.
  • Place everything from your closet on your bed or couch and open the windows to let your closet/drawers air out. Optional: spray Febreze fabric freshener or a homemade air freshener onto your clothes and into your closet and drawers.
  • Sweep and vacuum the floor and rugs, making sure to get into the corners, closets, and underneath beds and desks.
  • Throw your bedsheets, pillowcases, and pajamas into the laundry. Dry-clean or machine-wash your duvet if it hasn’t been washed in at least 3 months, or simply let it run for a cycle in the dryer on the lowest heat setting to fluff it up and get rid of dust.

For the windows:

  • Use a streak-free cleaner and a soft cloth (microfiber is best) for a sparkling finish.
  • For larger windows, a squeegee may come in handy to cut down on time.
  • Don’t forget to wipe both sides (though you may want to hire someone to clean the outsides if you have very high windows).
  • Rather than spraying and wiping random spots, try to go vertically or horizontally to limit streaks.
  • Use the all-purpose cleaner to wipe away dust and grime from the window sills.

Happy cleaning!

Architectural Digest’s Style & Design Tips for April 2017

Did you know that Architectural Digest has been around since 1922? The cover design and magazine layout have changed multiple times since then, of course, but to this day the magazine still remains a renowned international resource for home design and decor. Its staff must already be hard at work on changes and improvements for the publication’s upcoming 100-year anniversary!

April and May are popular months for spring cleaning and home renovations, so with that in mind, I hope you’ll get some good information from the below tips.

1. Don’t be afraid to break the rules when decorating.

Monogrammed pillowcases, Serpentine sofas, brightly-painted walls, and vibrant art all made appearances in this month’s issue. No matter how “out there” your decor may be, the magazine reiterates that the idea is to showcase your style, so don’t worry about what others might think of it! So don’t hesitate if you want to display an undulating couch or paint every room a different colour.

2. Incorporate ethnic pieces for a “global flair” and patterned floors, pillows, and carpets for a “geometric punch”.

Whether it’s a Persian rug, Moroccan bowls, South American textiles, or African sunset paintings, there’s no doubt that worldly accents make you appear more worldly. This has been a recurring theme in many issues of Architectural Digest, so we can assume the trend is here to stay. Also, adding geometric designs around your home will brighten and modernize your space. Start with something small, like a lamp shade or picture frame, and work up to floor-length curtains or the floor.

3. Old-school glamour is making a comeback – think opulence by way of stunning jewel tones, brass accents, and porcelain.

Both jewel tones and brass accents are reminiscent of Old Hollywood glamour, which the magazine says is a very sought-after theme right now. Stunning jewel colours such as emerald, ruby, sapphire, and gold (as seen on the April cover) can instantly take your dining or living room from boring to elegant.

4. Architecture works inside, too! Majestic archways, wooden dining room tables, and oddly-shaped furniture will never go out of style.

If you want to display cool furniture that no one else will have, pick up an exposed wood table or an art deco-style piece. (IKEA has both, and at affordable prices.) Arched windows, entryways, or doorways, as seen here, can make your home look like it was designed by a world-famous architect. And who doesn’t want that?

5. Jazz up a plain bathroom with eye-catching tiles and mosaics.

Tired bathrooms, be gone! As explained here, mosaics and punchy tiles can make your powder room look big and extremely stylish. FYI: placing fun wallpaper over boring walls and installing cheap yet chic sink fittings definitely counts as redecorating.

6. Turn your bedroom into a mix of nostalgia and comfort.

Decorate with simple elements from your childhood that take you back to the easy, carefree life you likely had as a kid. Patterned bedspreads, vintage mirrors, and wooden headboards are a good place to start. Often, modern bedrooms feel too reminiscent of a hotel room; while that works for some people, others may feel more at ease in a room that feels like the space they grew up in.

 

 

15 Awesome Things That Happened Around The World in 2016

There’s no denying that 2016 was a rough year for many. Situations in Syria and Istanbul worsened, terrorist attacks happened everywhere from Florida to France, and many issues surrounding climate change and human rights went unresolved. To those of us who were paying attention to the daily news, it felt like the bad stuff just kept piling on. However, like I wrote in my previous post, there’s no use in condemning the entire year because of what happened during it. 2016 saw many positive changes in the world, too! Here are some of them:

  1. Child mortality rates have decreased by more than half since 1990!
  2. Volunteers in India planted almost 50 million trees in one day in order to help reverse effects of deforestation and climate change! In a country where smog levels are at an all-time high, this is a big deal. Read more here.
  3. 600,000 square miles of Antarctica’s Ross Sea will be designated as the world’s largest marine life sanctuary, safe from detrimental human activity!
  4. Pakistan finally made “honour killings” punishable by law! More here.
  5. The World Health Organization has declared Sri Lanka malaria-free! The country has not reported a single locally-transmitted malaria case in three and a half years.
  6. Eight months of passionate protesting at the Sioux Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota resulted in the U.S. government rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline! It would have transported 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily underneath the Missouri River (close to the reservation), leaving the tribal land vulnerable to devastating oil spills. Major victory for locals, although the fight is not over.
  7. As of 2016, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities agreement has been signed by 160 countries and parties! The international human rights treaty is intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
  8. Graduation rates have reached an all-time high in high schools across the United States!
  9. The Paris Climate Agreement, which has been joined by 122 parties (including China and India), entered into force on November 4, 2016! The central aim of the agreement, as stated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius” and to “combat climate change and adapt to its effects.”
  10. The number of homeless veterans in the United States has decreased by half since 2010, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Interagency Council on Homelessness!
  11. The number of wild tigers is increasing for the first time in a century! Why is this important? Giant pandas and manatees were also taken off the endangered list in 2016.
  12. Groundbreaking peace talks happened between the Colombian Senate and the Farc (the country’s largest rebel group) after victims of the country’s bloody conflicts lobbied the government for peace! According to the BBC, the revised agreement aims to end an armed conflict that has killed 260,000 people over 50 years.
  13. Kenyan grandmothers in the shady Korogocho slum received praise for learning self-defense moves as a way of preparing to fight off potential attackers! You go, grannies!
  14. In 1999, Bertrand Piccard became the first person to fly successfully around the world in a hot-air balloon; in 2016, he completed the first circumnavigation of the globe without using any fuel, flying 40,000 km on solar power to promote the use of renewable energy! More on this incredible story here.
  15. 2016 was one of the safest years in aviation history! Despite the horrific plane crashes that did happen, there were relatively few crashes and deaths compared to other years – the current statistic is 1 death in every 10.7 million travellers.

There you have it, friends! A list of 15 incredible advances and accomplishments that 2016 should be remembered for. Feel free to leave a comment detailing other awesome changes that you know happened last year. We have a long way to go in making the world a near-perfect place, so here’s to hoping 2017 will see even more positive changes!

Happy 2017! Let’s Make This Our Best Year Ever

Welcome to 2017! Here’s to good health, happiness, and success. How did you all ring in the New Year?!

What a year 2016 was – there was a lot of devastation both locally and globally as well as a collective horrified disbelief at the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential election. However, there were also a number of very positive things (coming up in my next post) that were happening in the world at the same time. This year, I really hope the scale of these positive changes will widen to include issues in countries that have ongoing crises, such as Syria, Turkey, Iraq, South Sudan, and the Congo. Additionally, I’m hoping to see more global developments in the areas of climate change, minority rights, women’s rights, persons with mental health issues and disabilities, and prison conditions. A few ways we can help include educating ourselves and others about world issues, becoming activists to represent issues we’re passionate about, doing what we can to ease the suffering of those who need help, and reminding ourselves and others to never lose hope. Continue reading

Holiday Gift Guide For Everyone on Your List

We’ve all been there: it’s less than a week until Christmas Day and you haven’t even started to buy gifts for your friends, family and/or colleagues. You want to find presents specific to their hobbies and needs that are also within your budget, but you don’t have any idea where to start. Well, today’s your lucky day! Below is a list of affordable items that will make everyone on your list happy, whether they’re a techie, a beauty junkie or a foodie. Happy shopping!

Gift Cards

Restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, clothing stores, electronics stores, drugstores and more will have gift cards for purchase, which is why they make a great gift for people who frequent those places. Alternatively, a prepaid Visa card or amazon.ca gift card will give the recipient the freedom to purchase whatever they like.

Beauty/Skincare Sets

You can find awesome $12 stocking stuffers (for both girls and guys) or $25 makeup kits at Sephora. If there isn’t one located near you, local drugstores or beauty supply stores will also have value sets for face, skin, nails, and body care.

Small Tech Accessories

This portable phone charger would make a very useful gift, as would these stylish earbuds, this iPhone charging dock and this portable Bluetooth speaker. Continue reading

Architectural Digest’s Style & Design Tips for November 2016

For many people, myself included, Architectural Digest is the interior design and decor Bible. The magazine is my go-to when I need stylistic and architectural inspiration or am searching for unique vacation spots to add to my bucket list. Every month, I eagerly snatch up the latest edition at my local drugstore and slowly make my way through it, savouring each page. As long as I’m doing that, I may as well take note of some of their design and decor tips and list them here for you to peruse. Enjoy!

1. Furniture patterned with vintage floral and woodland details is very in. 

Think pastel-coloured pillows and blankets detailed with pink roses, kitchenware painted with forest scenes, and even furniture carved into branches, such as this stunning bench from Currey & Co. These details make for timeless statement pieces!

2. Don’t be afraid to mix textures and styles, but do choose complimentary colours. 

American decorator Mark D. Sikes mixed vintage English and modern Californian styles to give his Los Angeles home an elegant yet relaxed vibe. To make sure nothing looked out of place, he chose a simple colour palette of blues and whites for his furniture which are coupled with light and dark brown wood accents throughout the house.

3. Channel your love for certain countries or traditions through unique art and cultural items.
Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2016: What Are You Thankful For? 

As its name suggests, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family and give thanks for what we have. It’s also a time for turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie, though unfortunately the excitement over these seasonal foods often overshadows the real purpose of this holiday!

My family’s tradition is a simple one: we either cook a turkey dinner from scratch or order one from Summerhill Market in Toronto and spend the day talking and laughing as we share a delicious meal together. Today’s dinner from Summerhill was, as always, very tasty; dessert was a creamy cheesecake baked by yours truly (recipe courtesy of my aunt). I took pictures but was salivating (okay, drooling) in a most unladylike fashion at the sight of the meal and couldn’t spare the time to snap better ones. Continue reading