June 2014 archive

Creating Your Home-Scent-Home

So many of us spend time decorating our homes so that they are visually pleasing to our families and our guests, but how often do we take into consideration how our home smells?  Of all the senses, smell most readily triggers memories and can influence emotional responses and affects overall feeling.  You can have the most beautifully decorated foyer, but if the house doesn’t smell good upon entry, I guarantee the smell will be the first thing guests notice, not your gorgeous decor.


Think about a time when you might have gone to an open house.  Have you ever noticed that realtors often light candles or bake cookies?  They do this for a reason!  They are trying to create a cozy, homey environment to make visitors feel welcome and able to envision themselves living in that space.


If you bake a lot, your home might already smell like yummy childhood memories, but otherwise, in general, no one likes to walk into a space and be hit with the scent of last night’s dinner.  So take a tip from the professionals and give consideration to the relationship between how your home smells and how your guests feel.


So what does your home’s scent say about you?


Often times, we spend so much time in our own homes that we can’t distinguish any particular smells.  Unless you ask a guest {which unless it’s a close friend or relative, that would just be awkward!} or are away from home for an extended period of time, you won’t really know what your own home smells like.  If you’re lucky, your home has no particular smell, so anyone entering will be indifferent to the scent.  But for those who have kids, pets, older homes, live in damp areas, etc., chances are that your house has some sort of scent associated with it.  And I just learned this lesson the hard way!

I have a lot of pets and it wasn’t until we went away on our recent vacation and I came home that I realized just how much the scent of bird permeated through the rooms!  That’s when I knew it was time to make a change.  {Not to worry, I didn’t abandon Sparky and Lola….they’re too cute!}



If you wear scented lotions or perfumes, you probably spent a lot of time selecting a fragrance that was “you.”  Just as you take time to think about what scent is a good fit for you, also think about what scent is a good fit for your home.  For example, lavender is associated with relaxation and harmony.


Vanilla is another popular option known for relaxation.  Citrus scents, like lemon and orange, are associated with a light, fresh feeling, whereas fruity smells conjure up memories of destination vacations.  Perhaps you want your home to smell in accordance with the area where you live, like the mountains, the grasslands, or maybe the beach.

No matter what you choose, it’s important that the scent reflect your personality and also your lifestyle, so carefully consider what’s right for you and your home home.  And you can use more than one scent so long as they are complementary and don’t permeate room to room.  You might want something relaxing like lavender in your main rooms, and perhaps vanilla in the kitchen.  Go for it!

I personally like my home to smell fresh – like I just did laundry or cleaned thoroughly.  Since chances are that I didn’t actually do either of those things {let’s be honest, I’d rather decorate than clean!}, I rely on Air Wick Fresh Water Scented Oil to help me out.  I used to burn candles, but with kids who play ball in the house and a curious cat who jumps on the furniture, I almost never light them in the main areas of the house anymore.  I also tried reed diffusers, but I didn’t feel like the scent covered enough area in the house.  I also really like Febreeze for eliminating orders from sports equipment or the kids favorite spot on the couch.

Fresh Water Scented Oil


A word of caution – just as with perfume, a little goes a long way, so don’t go overboard!  You want your home to have a nice background scent, not a hit-you-in-the-face smell that lingers on your guests’ clothes even after they’ve left.

Also, while the scent of your home is important, don’t stress about it.  Life happens.  If you have fish for dinner, your home will smell like fish.  If you burn the eggs in the morning or the wet dog runs through the house, well…it is what it is.  But if you can give just a bit of thought as to how you want your home to smell and make a minor change in order to achieve that mood or feeling, then why not give your home’s scent the same amount of attention that you give its decor?  After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression!

What is your favorite scent for your home?  Please share!
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My 10 Favorite Cleaning Products

I have a few cleaning products that are must have’s in my home.   You know, the ones that if you run out, you’ll drive to a particular store to get them instead of settling for another brand?!  But I’ll be honest with you….I HATE cleaning.  I loathe it!  So when I clean the house, having products that do the job right the first time around is a must.  To me, it’s so discouraging to buy a new cleaning product and then discover that it doesn’t work well for the job you intended, which is why I love when friends give me their recommendations for favorite cleaning products.  So today, I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite home, car, and body cleaning products in case they will work for you, too!


Please note that I am not qualified to speak about the environmental and health safety of these products, I can only speak to their effectiveness as cleaners.  Also, this is NOT a sponsored post and I am in no way compensated or incentivized to mention any of these products.  These are just my honest thoughts and opinions.  :)


Sprayway Glass Cleaner

Sprayway Glass Cleaner

One of my pet peeves is cleaning a mirror or a window and then realizing that there are streaks left behind.  Then I have to scrub twice as hard to get the streaks out!  I found Sprayway Glass Cleaner at Target a few years ago and decided to give it a try and have used it exclusively ever since.  Love it!  In addition to glass, I’ve discovered that it works well on my cultured marble surfaces and even easily removes hairspray buildup from the countertops without damage or discoloration.


Bar Keeper’s Friend

Bar Keepers Friend

To be honest, I haven’t tried this product for all of the uses it lists, but I love how well it works to clean my porcelain sink!  If you’ve ever tried to remove the black marks that pots and pans leave in the bottom of the sink, you’ll know that you can scrub and scrub with soap and they don’t come off.  But Bar Keepers Friend will instantly remove them!  I also have a set of dishes that gets marked up easily from flatware and this is the only product I’ve found that will take the marks off of my dishes and make them look new again.


Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

Clorox Wipes

These are my go-to cleaning wipes when I need a disinfectant, especially for kitchen messes and kid spills.


Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

What did I do before the Magic Eraser!  I’ve used it to remove crayon from the walls, discoloration on patio furniture, soap scum on the shower doors {the BEST soap scum remover I’ve found!}, and I even use it for a quick clean of my kitchen sink.  One caveat, though, it does remove a layer of finish off of whatever surface you are using it on, so do NOT use it on flat paint or it will take the paint off the wall.  It also doesn’t work well on glossy plastic surfaces because it will make them matte.  If you’re not sure, try a test patch first.


Shout Wipe & Go


I can’t go anywhere with out these little stain removing cloths.  They really work!  In Hawaii, my 6-year-old decided to sneak a chocolate covered macadamia nut and eat it while sitting on the white bedspread in the hotel room.  Melted chocolate everywhere!  One cloth took out all of the chocolate without leaving any discoloration behind.  And this morning when I was dropping her off at Kindergarten, I noticed she had dribbled blackberry jelly down her shirt.  A few swipes of the Shout Wipe & Go and it was like breakfast never happened.  :)


Stainless Steel Magic


Little fingerprints are forever appearing on my oven, trash compactor, etc. and this is the only product that works well for me.  I personally like the formula in the spray bottle, although I’ve never tried the aerosol version.  I did try the wipes, though, and didn’t think they worked nearly as well.




I only recently discovered Borax and can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on!  I add it to my whites in addition to bleach and my whites have truly never looked better.


Bath & BodyWorks Energy Orange Ginger Hand Soap

Energy Hand Soap

Every year for Christmas, my mom buys me a few bottles of this hand soap because she knows it’s my absolute favorite.  The scent is invigorating and fresh, so I love to use it in the kitchen.


Bag Balm

Bag Balm

Okay, this one is a little out there, especially if you read the label’s description {cow udders – really?!}, but trust me, it works!  Thankfully, I don’t have to use it very often, but if you ever get severely chapped hands, nothing works better than Bag Balm.  The consistency is similar to Vaseline so it doesn’t rub into your hands, but if you put in on at night, your hands will be completely healed by morning.  It’s a bit sticky and smelly, though, so I wouldn’t recommend it for everyday use, but for intensive therapy when your skin is really chapped, it’s “udderly” the best!


Meguiar’s Clay Bar Kit

Meguiars Clay Bar

My husband swears by this car cleaning kit.  Every time he uses this on the car, he has me come out and feel how smooth it is because he’s so happy with how it turns out!  It’s easy to use and not messy at all so if your husband or dad enjoys washing the car, you might want to consider this for Father’s Day!


I’m always looking for something to make household chores easier, so what is your favorite cleaning product!  Does anyone have a good recommendation for a carpet spot remover?  I’ve just discovered a trail of red juice on the stairs left behind by one of the kids….


Please share your recommendations!

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Textile Spotlight: Surprisingly Sophisticated Polka Dots

Polka dot fabric has been in use since the mid-19th century and popular for almost a century now, including use in home decorating.  While original prints consisted of  equally sized filled circles with equal spacing, modern twist on this print include random sized dots with unequal spacing in a variety of colors.  The term “polka” itself derives from the Polish for “Polish woman” and in Czech, it translates to “little woman or girl.”  As such, polka dots are typically thought of a feminine, whimsical and sometimes, even childish.  They are often used in casual or playful environments, rarely transitioning to a formal situation…but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!



A Brief History

According to Slate’s Jude Stewart, once upon a time, the print was referred to by several other names.  “Dotted-Swiss referred to raised dots on transparent tulle,” and in France, “quinconce described the diagonal arrangement of dots seen on the 5-side of dice.” Meanwhile, “[t]he large coin-sized dots on fabric, called Thalertupfen in German, got their name from Thaler, the currency of German-speaking Europe until the late 1800s.”

Some theorize that the term “polka dot” is related to the mid 19th century popularity of the polka dance.  Whether the connection is because the dots reflect short bursts of energy similar to those required in the polka, or to the fact that both the dance and the pattern became popular around the same time, is unclear; however, it is known that the term first appeared in 1857 in Godey’s Lady’s Book.


From Playful…

Polka dot fabrics are commonly seen in nurseries and kids’ rooms with their playful and energetic patterns.  Bright, multi-colored patterns lends themselves to a more modern design flair, whereas more muted, or subtle patterns tend to look more traditional.




…to Surprisingly Sophisticated

You might be surprised, though, that polka dots can also make their way into the grown-up spaces of a home, too.


It’s also interesting to note that a polka dot pattern that could look whimsical or “young” in a room can also look sophisticated depending on the furnishings and other fabrics that it is paired with, as shown below.


When using polka dots, I find that a little goes a long way.  For a more sophisticated look, consider limited multicolored patterns to a small space (such as pillows or art) so that the pattern doesn’t overwhelm the space.  More subtle versions of polka dots can blend into their surroundings and can be used in larger doses, like rugs, upholstered accent pieces, and curtains.


Do you polka???

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