It’s Neaten Your Nest’s One Year Anniversary

Exactly one year ago, I wrote my very first post for the Neaten Your Nest blog. I had no idea where the blog would take me or any of the career opportunities I had dreamed up in my head. As I sit here today, I still have no idea where Neaten Your Nest will take my life, but I do know that I’m loving the experience, the challenges, the learning and the adventure I’m getting out of blogging and setting up a business.

Here are few things I have truly loved about this process:

1) I have gotten to ‘meet’ so many amazing people through the blogging world. Though the amount of information is overwhelming, the bloggers I’ve been able to connect with have inspired me in ways too many to count! I have learned about patience, motivation, creativity, creating the life you want, connecting with your family, amazing recipes and inspiring stories. Check out my blogroll page for just a very few of my favorites!

2) I have learned sooooo much about organizing. The wealth of information available has helped me think outside the box when it comes to organizing. I have found great products, clever tips, and beautiful inspiration.

3) I am absolutely enthralled with Pinterest! It has been a great resource for blog ideas, inspiration for my life and it helps me keep some of my many thoughts and projects organized. You can find me on Pinterest here.

4) The blog has kept me motivated to pursue a dream and, in some ways, it also holds me accountable for following through. Just having an audience helps spur me to action every day.

Here are some things that have been not so glorious in the journey:

1) Writer’s block….There are days when I will just stare at my computer, the words ‘New Post’ taunting me as I try to formulate even one sentence that pertains to my topic.

2) Comparison to others. Since there are so many great blogs and websites out there, I am constantly questioning if what I am doing is good enough, do my posts make sense to the reader, have I interjected just enough humor to make people smile a little, do my pictures look ok (this is my biggest struggle!)? It is a hard lesson to learn that comparisons only defeat you and your purpose.

3) Technology!!! I have gotten a fleeting grasp on a few aspects, but I still have a long way to go. HTML code what? I would love to feel like I have mastered a technological skill set, whether it’s web design, Pinterest, photo manipulation, or anything really. But with the constant upgrades and additions to everything technology related, it’s hard to keep up!

The good thing about the bad things is that I am not alone. The more I talk to people, the more I realize that everyone struggles in some areas, no one is perfect and we can all be amazing in our own ways.

Here are a few of my favorite and most popular posts from the last year:

So what does the future hold for Neaten Your Nest???

~Better photographs to showcase organizational processes, products and more.

~An increased focus on ‘green’ topics. Look for new info under the Green Nest page!

~A focus on organizing the business side of NYN. Look for posts on the business of blogging, files, marketing, etc.

~Features from other bloggers who have expertise in areas where I am lacking!

~Additional Pages and Features here on the site, such as the upcoming ‘Mindful Nest’ series, where we talk about the mental, emotional and other health related benefits to being organized. I will also be working on the ‘Nest Egg’ series, where I talk about financial organization.

If you have been a reader of Neaten Your Nest over the past year, thank you so much for all you do. Your readership makes this whole process worthwhile. If I can help someone or inspire a bit of organizational creativity in this hectic life, then I am doing my job. If you are new to Neaten Your Nest, Welcome! I look forward to sharing many more ideas and stories with you for years to come. Thanks!

~Erin

Spring Greening – (Almost) Green Shower Spray!

Hi everyone! A couple days ago it was Earth Day and I thought, “what a perfect day to give my first green product review.” However, April 22nd came and went and I didn’t get around to this post. Oh well…every day is Earth Day, right? :)

So, I’m talking about my homemade products that I started making with my friend Jen. You can read more about that here. I didn’t want to give any reviews/ recipes until I had actually tried the things we made. So here is the first one!

(Almost) Green Daily Shower Spray

Green Shower Spray

So the reason it’s an ‘almost green’ product is because it has a little bit of store bought liquid dish washing soap in it. However, we used the Dawn Pure Essentials version of the dish washing soap without dyes, so it’s as close as I can get to ‘natural’ or ‘green’ while still containing a commercial cleaning product.

Dawn Pure

The only other ingredients are vinegar, water and tea tree oil. Sooooo easy breezy to make.

When we were first putting this spray together, we had a couple of considerations.

1) We had done some research and found that ‘daily’ shower sprays required just a little bit of the liquid dishwashing soap. However, the actual cleaners which you would only use on cleaning days required more of the soap; some sites said 6-8 oz, some said equal parts vinegar and soap. Jen used equal parts water and vinegar and then added about 6 oz of the soap since she was making a cleaner instead of a daily spray. I just used about 2 Tbs because I wanted a daily spray that wasn’t quite as thick.

2) Tea tree oil is STRONG! We had originally added about 1/2 tsp of tea tree oil to each spray. However, when I got it home and started using it, the smell was overwhelming. So I ended up splitting my spray into two batches and adding extra vinegar and water to each.

My plan was to use this spray in my shower for two weeks and see how it worked. So I started spraying it in my shower every single morning. I also started spraying it on my sink faucet. We have ridiculously hard water and I have struggled with cleaning our bathrooms and kitchen since we moved into this house. I normally scrub my tub and shower every week, but I wanted to really test how this product worked. So I scrubbed my shower to a spotless shine and then just used the shower spray every day for 2 weeks….no scrubbing at all! I just skipped my weekly cleaning, which was actually a nice break for me!

The results?

Well, I would say I normally spend about 10 minutes scrubbing my shower. I don’t know if that’s average or ridiculously long, but that’s how long it takes me to get it the way I want it. After about a week, I can normally start to see the build up caused by our ridiculous water. Well…..not this time! I couldn’t see any buildup after 2 weeks and it took me way less than 5 minutes to clean the whole shower. I was amazed, impressed and ecstatically happy. There are few chores I despise less than scrubbing the shower and this homemade cleaner has completely changed my tune! I absolutely love the results and will continue to use this every day!

IMG_8547Completely unexpected bonus time!!!

Like I mentioned, I had sprayed this on my sink faucet every day too. I have struggled with this faucet (and every other faucet in our house) for two years. When we moved in, there was already calcium build up, water deposits, etc around all of the faucets and drains. Like this:

Faucet - BeforeIt might be kind of hard to see how bad it is in the photo, but I have literally tried to clean these every week for two years using a variety of products. Nothing has ever worked, so I figured my homemade shower spray efforts were fruitless and was really just hoping to prevent any further build up. Well, one day after I sprayed, I just decided to wipe the faucet and a piece of the buildup actually came off. I thought to myself, I must have imagined that. I wiped again, a little more came off. Then more! For the next several days, I chipped away at this ridiculous substance and (with the combined effort of shower spray and elbow grease) I was able to get almost every single bit of the build up off. I literally ran into the bedroom and told my husband it was a miracle. That’s how seriously I thought I could never get these clean. I still have a little work to go, but now the faucet looks like this:

IMG_8552I am beyond impressed with this spray and I actually went and bought 3 more spray bottles so I could have it in the other 2 bathrooms as well as the kitchen.

IMG_8544So, a gigantic thumbs up to natural cleaning product #1. More reviews coming soon!

~Erin

House Cleaning After Guests

I just had a visit from my mom who came in from Phoenix. We had a good time, but now it’s back to the daily grind. I like to clean and do anything I need to do shortly after guests leave. Otherwise, things somehow get left undone for weeks! Here are the things I do after a house guest leaves to get things on track.

1) Wash all linens, towels, etc. – I try to do this asap, as in the same day guests leave or the next day at the very latest. I’m not a big fan of laundry so anything I can do to quickly get it out of my sight helps the queasy feeling a little. :) There’s nothing like fresh linens to make a room feel clean!

POst on guests

2) Clean the guest bedroom and bathroom. – Again, the sooner the better. This one doesn’t really add too much to my normal cleaning routine because these rooms get cleaned weekly anyways. But it’s nice to refill the soap dispenser and put the extra blankets away and any other extra chore that pops up. I also have baskets on the bathroom counter for my guests because we don’t have any drawers in there…it drives me nuts! So I put those away too. These were a little Container Store purchase which you can read about here.

3) Go through any pictures I took while my guest was here. – This includes downloading them on my computer, weeding out the blurry ones or the one’s where I have crazy hair or crazy eyes (which is apparently more often than not), renaming the good ones, uploading them to a photo site and emailing them to my guest. Whew! Good thing I like that process because it usually takes a while.

4) Catch up on emails and to do lists – Inevitably a few things get pushed to the wayside when you have company so it’s good to take a little time to catch up. This could be emails, mail, dry cleaning, or any other chore that just went unfinished while you were entertaining. You don’t even want to see my to do list right now! But doing this blog post was one of the things on my list so…..cross it off!!

5) Grab some tea and take a minute to relax!

POst on guests

~Erin

Spring Greening – Proper Paint Disposal

Have you ever painted any part of your house? Have you ever had trouble deciding on colors? Have you ever had your guest room wall look like this:

IMG_0223

Seriously, the process was ridiculous over here. But we FINALLY chose colors and have painted the whole bottom floor of our house. We had previously painted the kids room so the only thing left is the master bedroom and bathroom. That is a project for another day…..I don’t even want to look at another paint brush for a while.

We have also been cleaning and reorganizing our garage lately and have found a ton of paint cans leftover from the previous owners of the house. Combine those with our recent painting extravaganza and here is what we were left with.

Paint CansKeep in mind that this is just the pile we were getting rid of! We still have leftover paint for touch ups, etc that I am going to find some fabulous temporarily functional way to organize, I’m sure.

So what to do with all of these paint cans? They were not completely empty so you can’t just throw them away. Well, you can, but at the expense of filled up landfills and a chemically infused environment. The best way to handle items like this is to find a hazardous waste recycling place near you. You can search online for ‘hazardous waste disposal’ or ‘hazardous waste recycle’ and hopefully several options will come up. Our closest disposal center is over an hour away, but it is well worth it to know we’re disposing of these items properly. Just to illustrate the types of things these recycling centers do, take a peek at this link. This is for the Colorado Springs, CO facility, but many places offer the same services. Here are a few things that our local place does:

-Recycling or proper disposal of chemicals. This includes paint, but also solvents, motor oil, bleach, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers, and a ton of other household chemicals.

-Recycling of electronics, such as computers, TVs, microwaves, printers and cell phones. Most electronics have components that are harmful to the environment when thrown into a landfill. They must be properly disposed of in a safe and healthy manner.

-Porcelain recycling – They accept sinks, toilets and ceramic tiles which can be crushed and recycled into material used for building roads.

-‘Drop and Swap’ Program – Our facility has an area for products that were dropped off but can still be used, such as paint, primer and oil. These items are offered free of charge to the community.

I have looked into facilities in Colorado, Arizona and Georgia and there are definitely some differences. Some are open every weekday, while some facilities may have a once a month drop off day. Some accept tires and building materials, others don’t. So it may require a little research to find a place to take your items. But it’s worth it. You can clean out your home, garage, shed, etc and know that you are doing the best you can for the environment.

One more bonus of our local place was that it was free! Some of them aren’t, so this was great for us. They did request a non-perishable food donation though. I had a few items I was saving for a food bank, but I hadn’t taken them yet, so we dropped them off when we took our paint cans in.

Imagine that…..a clean garage, consideration for the Earth, and a charitable donation all at once.

~Erin

Spring Greening – Cleaning Green

I have decided to green up my cleaning products. If you read the blog, you might know that I’m already obsessed with using vinegar to clean my house. You can read proof of that here, here and here! I have used vinegar to do about 90% of my cleaning for a long time, but there are several other items I want to ‘Green-Up’ so instead of Spring Cleaning, I’m focusing on some Spring Greening. It’s time to Green the Nest!

My first step was to start researching. You can see some of the fruits of my researching labor on my Pinterest-Cleaning Board. Since I already have vinegar as my go-to guy for all purpose cleaning, I wanted to focus my efforts on several other items.. laundry detergent, dish washing detergent and a daily shower spray are at the top of the list! I won’t give you the play by play just yet because I’m testing the products I made, but here’s a basic rundown of the process.

After I researched and pinned to my heart’s content, I noticed a trend…my friend Jen was re-pinning all of my cleaning pins. Hmmm, wheels turning here. So I called her and said “why don’t we make all of this stuff together?” She was on board, which made me kind of giddy for two reasons. 1) It’s always more fun to jump into a new endeavor with someone else so you can cheer each other on and 2) We split the cost. Bonus!!!

Here is what we either bought or already had:

IMG_0879

I plan on going into detail on the products in upcoming posts, but basically we purchased tried and true cleaning ingredients, such as borax and vinegar (of course!) and threw in a couple of essential oils.

The first and easiest thing we made was just a simple solution of 50% vinegar, 50% water and 10 drops or so of orange essential oil.

IMG_0878A quick handwritten label completed the cleaner!

We also made a laundry detergent and shower spray, but I am currently in the super secret testing phase so I won’t post details until I know how I like them. If you want to learn more about natural cleaning, there is an ever growing number of resources and a great place to start would be my Pinterest board!

Happy Cleaning! Happy Greening!

~Erin

 

The perfect place for sheets!

I have been trying to organize my bathroom closet for months now. For some reason, I just can’t get it where I want it. I finally realized that part of the problem is that I hate the way our sheets look in there. We have a few sets and one of them is a super soft and comfy, fluffy set….but they’re huge! They were all crammed in behind the towels and would topple over. Believe me, I’ve tried the fancy folding…I just can’t get it right. And I usually just want to do it fast and get it over with. So, long story short, my towels decided they didn’t want to deal with the sheets as their roommate anymore. My solution???? Under the bed sheet storage!

Sheets - Under the Bed (1)I bought a rolling under the bed storage bin and my sheets fit perfectly. It also had a lid that can open halfway from either side so it makes it even easier to access the sheets.

Sheets - Under the Bed (2)Sheets - Under the Bed (3)And the best part for me is how the towel shelf in my bathroom linen closet looks!

Linen Closet - Towels

So I’m loving under the bed storage now. I already store my wrapping paper under the bed and I just moved my holiday decor under the guest bed, which you can read here. I love using storage that is otherwise going to waste. The bonus is that I can’t see whatever is under there!

Sheets - Under the Bed (4)

~Erin