Friday, January 15, 2016

8 Smart Choices That 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
Kelley  &  Holley

50 comments:

  1. Hi Linda! I had to chuckle at the point about putting away Christmas. We finally took down our (fake) tree yesterday! Like you, I just love the lights and the peace I feel when it's up in my family room. But...it's time, just as you said.

    Love the idea of opening windows. I often feel like my house is a mash-up of dinner and breakfast smells in the winter. Not to appealing, if you ask me. I have to wait for my husband to vacate the premises though, he would not like the added heating expense. So...shhh!

    Have a great weekend, curling up with your laptop, books and blankie. Sounds wonderful! My sister from Boston and her family are due in town in a few hours. It'll be great to visit with her.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. You've chatted about all the things I love ... lights and peace. Open windows. Laptop and books, blankies and family.

      What more could a girl want?

      Have a blast with your family, Ceil. I love that you've kicked off this conversation, my friend!

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  2. Well, the Christmas items are packed away...and sitting just around the corner! Maybe they'll find their way to the attic this weekend. ;-) And the frig? How I'd love to hire someone to clean that bad boy! Good list, Linda. Happy New Year!

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    1. Yep, there's always something mysterious hidden in some far corner of that cold box!

      Only the brave go there!

      Good to see you again, Kristi ... welcome back, friend!

      Delete
  3. I'm actually slurping a bowl of soup as I read this, my friend. Love tip #1! Fresh air really makes a difference, doesn't it? Bringing something home with me from my walk sounds lovely, too! I remember my mom did that one year with cattails and we had a mess on our hands several weeks later when they went to seed, lol! And why is that we think we have to "save" the nice things? I'm with you - - use . . . with care! Inspiring list, Linda!

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    1. June, a bowl of soup is sounding mighty good about now! Tomorrow I'm whipping up a huge pot of ham and bean to share with my mom. Can't wait!

      And yes, yes, to using the nice things, the vintage stuff, the wedding gifts. You can't take it with you, can you ...

      Weekend blessings, friend!

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  4. Great suggestions, Linda! I'm a huge fan of opening all my blinds every single morning, and if it's not too cold, I also open the front door so I can see out the glass door all day. I've got to have the outside coming in as much as possible. It's amazing how much these "little" things really are huge. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm with you, Lisa! Opening the shades is the first thing I do after my feet hit the floor. And I do the same thing with the front door, too ... although not in the winter.

      I love light anyway I can get it.

      You shine, girl!

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  5. A very timely post, Linda, as I have on my mind to take on some house projects while hubs is away. I find that those tasks seem to help you go beyond just cleaning-up and uncluttering your home. Funny how God does that.

    Waving hello from Chicago! Sending hugs and warm thoughts your way.

    xoxo

    Beth

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    1. Won't he be delighted when he returns! Will he recognize the place?

      Won't matter ... he'll only have eyes for you, dear!

      ;-}

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  6. Thank you for very good suggestions, Linda. I'll supervise the family to ensure they do as you suggest. I really love good honest hard-work. I can sit and watch it for ages.

    God bless.

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    1. Now THAT'S funny, Victor! My husband just loved your comment when I read it to him.

      Men ...

      ;-}

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  7. Okay, Linda, I hear you! We have taken down all Christmas decorations outdoor and on the main floor, but our tree is still up by the fireplace in the family room in our basement. I promise to get it down by next weekend. It brings me so much joy and I didn't get it up till the beginning of December this year. Thanks for the great list!
    Love,
    Pam

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    1. Might as well leave it up and enjoy the lights on these dark winter days, Pam. Some years I can't wait til all the stuff is down and put away. And then there's years like this one, where I could have enjoyed it all another month!

      May your weekend be serene with or without decorations, friend!

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  8. Excellent advice! I especially like the 'open windows' idea. Fresh air is such a blessing!

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/01/your-dying-spouse-106-time-to-worry-fmf.html

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    1. Especially in those warmer climates right about now!

      Breathe deep, friend ...

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  9. I've done a few of these as well. It's hard to find the energy once early afternoon dark sets in. I'd never thought of opening a window - great idea. Breathe.

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    1. I kept a window open last night just to hear the rain.

      Marvelous!

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  10. Great ideas. Open those windows! Breathe!

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    1. Thanks for being persistent through those comment glitches, friend! You're fabulous!

      ;-}

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  11. Linda, these are all great tips! Loved visiting with you today! My heart smiled as I imagined opening up the windows to let the fresh breeze in! Thanks so much for sharing! GOD bless you, beautiful friend! :-)

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    1. The smiling heart ... what a delight! To Him and to those who gather 'round us.

      Thanks for the gentle reminder, Tai. I long to live like that every hour.

      Weekend blessings, friend.

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  12. You remind me how glad I am to live in a more temperate part of the country. As I learned while #1 daughter lived in PA for 4 years---living in the frig is hard work!

    Great post--full of wonderful ideas!
    Blessings, Friend!

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    1. Brrr up here in the northeast ... Texas looks mighty fine mid-winter, Lulu!

      ;-}

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  13. You are a true New Englander when you can throw open your windows when it's 15 degrees outside, Linda! I'm all for fresh air, but have never thought about doing that in the dead of winter! ;-) I'm always grateful for the snippets of life that you share with us here, my friend. And I am so jealous of your daughter's lovely heirloom snagged from her neighbor and lovingly restored to its former glory. She's like her mama, it seems to me. Able to care for what is broken, tarnished and worse for wear--bringing it (them) back into a beautiful redemption of sorts! Hugs to you, dear friend!

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    1. Well, you're just plain sweet, dear Beth! Thanks for the encouraging words ... don't you love how God takes us as we are, broken, tarnished and worse for wear and brings us back to life through Jesus' redemption?

      What an analogy you've painted for us. Beautiful!

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  14. Some wonderful ideas to bust the winter doldrums! And those endless unfinished projects, that is a great idea to just pick one and finish it! Wonderful fun ideas to do :) Enjoyed your post!

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    1. Yay! Good-bye winter doldrums. And let's hear it for finishing up those random undone projects on these cold gray days.

      You're motivating me, friend. For my basement shelves are calling me, calling me ...

      ;-{

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  15. Lovely ideas and so simple. I would love to see a picture of the finished buffet. I am sure that it is a treasure. It's amazing how a few simple touches go a long way in not only sprucing up your home but in refreshing your winter ho hum attitude!

    Have a beautiful Sabbath!

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    1. The buffet is stuffed with craft supplies and games and treasures for two lovely little ladies. The lower doors stayed off so games can easily be pulled in and out.

      Truly impressive, a real labor of love ... especially in the middle of her work in tax season!!

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  16. The problem with me cleaning though is that my mother brings back old stuff inside. Ugh.

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  17. Windows wide open,,,for freshness!!! That's my favorite.
    Happy New Year, Linda.
    How have you been? Good to see you are enjoying your new home.
    Hugs and Many Blessings to you

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    1. Happy new year to you, too, Ifeoma! I hope it's started off with rest-fueled joy ...

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  18. Refreshing post! I'm totally opening my windows when I clean today!!! Thank you for brightening my morning with your awesome tips!!
    Happy Tuesday!!
    #RaRaLinkup
    Megs

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    1. Ooohh ... I'm glad this worked for you, Megs! Happy cleaning!

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  19. Oh, Linda, there was fresh air flowing out of my computer screen as I read your post! Love all these ideas! I cleaned off and organized a book case the other day (as I was listening to a pod cast!), and it felt like losing a hundred pounds!

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    1. You're spot on, Michele. I feel the exact same way when I minimalize or organize or somehow take care of ridding myself of excess stuff.

      I knew I wasn't the only one! Thanks for sharing that this really does work in impacting who we are!

      ;-}

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  20. Winter nesting never looked so inviting with all these refreshing projects you have here! I recently received new appliances so am back to cooking favourites, and baking again with confidence. The quilt is so lovely! What a treasure. And I love the idea of gathering those boughs, however we have nothing really living here...but maybe I could gather up a pine cone or two.

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    1. Winter nesting ... I love how you worded that, Lynn! Nesting any time of year is a pleasure, but right about now it's simply a necessity! Be cozy as you putter, friend ...

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  21. nice ideas to get us through the winter months. It's just settling into winter here on this rather tiny island. The wind is crazy! I haven't been outside today and will wait till tomorrow to walk the beach again.

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    1. I hear ya', Kara ... the wind's been wild this week, the waves stunning when we go to call.

      Off-season's my favorite season, for sure ...

      Be warm as you wander those beaches!

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  22. Linda,
    What are those vintage boxes (trunks) your books are on? Do they have a story?! :) Love, love, love the idea of getting rid of clutter and things you don't use. It's so easy to overlook things because you get used to them and you don't realize what a difference it makes when you can see the space again. I'm not sure about your first tip on opening the windows when it's 15 degrees out -- you are a brave woman!! :) And I keep my windows closed tight even when it's nice enough out since I don't want any lizards or frogs crawling in to take up residence! :) xoxo

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  23. OH no no no no! No lizards or frogs in the house!

    ugh.

    Those are 2 tool boxes ... one was my husband's grandfather's, the other I picked up along the way somewhere. The big one holds our collection of slides {like we'll ever look at all of them again?} and the smaller one holds snapshots.

    I'd like to think I'm super organized, but then I'd be kidding myself!

    ;-}

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  24. Wonderful suggestions! My favorite is opening the windows for sure. My husband thinks I am crazy but I crave the fresh air. And it is bright, cheery and uplifting even if only for a short while. Thank you for the encouragement. Visiting from Purposeful Faith ♥

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    1. Sometimes a little crazy is a good thing, right?

      Glad you're here, Nannette!

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  25. I adore this post. I am going to start at the top! Open the door! It was 5 degrees here Monday morning and the front door was wide open, why you ask? We had cleaned out a pantry closet Sonday afternoon and a container of lamp oil cracked and yes, the petroleum smell festered in our nostrils. Bye bye Christmas. Packed and gone except for one little strand of battery op'd LED lites in a crystal vase on my kitchen shelf. Refrig? no littles here so it stays pretty clean. Bathroom? top to bottom clean and hubs got the ladder and took the globe off the light so I could wash the bugs out (how do they get in there?). Bed linens are clean not new! Just recycled a mess of magazines. Fresh evergreen branch in an apple cider jug in the kitchen. No paint project but the laundry room has been reorganized from stem to stern. I believe we are kindreds!!!

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    1. Wow, Susan! You're such a breath of fresh air, yourself, such an encouragement to all who'll read your input into this conversation here!

      I'm absolutely inspired! Thanks for sharing your accomplishments!

      ;-}

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  26. I love opening windows and allowing the fresh air to blow the curtains and breathe life into a room ~ love fresh linens, too :)

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  27. LOVE all of these! I do many of these on a regular basis! I always have one of our kitchen windows open... Whole year around. I have to repaint a bathroom soon... Have a beautiful weekend!

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda