How to Clean for a Party (the good enough method)

I am not the most fastidious housekeeper. You know this about me. But in a few weeks I’m hosting a baby shower for my friend Cassie and lots of ladies I don’t know very well will be here and I’d like to project at least an illusion of responsible adulthood. I’ve been googling how to make it happen and here’s what I found:

1) Focus on what the guests will see. For this party, that means the living room, dining room, and downstairs bathroom. In those rooms I’ll dust, clean all the pet hair off the furniture, wash the curtains (again with the pet hair), and give the floors a good detailed vacuum.

2) Declutter. For the most part, an uncluttered space looks clean from afar and a cluttered space looks junky even if there’s not a speck of dust. So I’m gradually working through the entire downstairs to put things away and clear piles that may have accumulated. It’s especially important to focus on the entryway, since this is what folks see first.

3) Take your time. I am not one for marathon cleaning sessions spread over 1-2 days. My house was a wreck when we got back from Texas a few weeks ago and I’ve been gradually getting it back into shape little by little. I’m cleaning for the party the same way–I already dusted and vacuumed under and behind the living room and dining room furniture, so the day before the party I can just do a quick pass again. I’ve got a big list written out of things I want to do and I’ll try to knock off a couple each week.

4) Wipe smudges. This one is a biggie in our house for some reason. Smudges of dirt on doors, stair railings, and light switches look really bad, but they’re super easy to clean. It’s so satisfying to go around the house with a magic eraser and have all those spots we touch every day looking good again in no time (I already did this too).

5) Bring in reinforcements. I haaaaate cleaning bathrooms. Hate hate hate it. And the truth is that I am just not detail-oriented enough to do a really good job. I’m thinking of bringing in a cleaning lady just to tackle the bathrooms. This is more cost-effective than hiring someone to clean the whole house, especially since the lady I have in mind charges by the hour. I could get two hours’ worth of cleaning for about $30.

My entire house will definitely not be spotless for the shower, but it’ll at least look good enough that I’m not embarrassed. And the truth is that I enjoy living in a clean house! We deserve to have a home that’s clean and comfortable. If I could afford it I’d totally hire a cleaning lady to come every week (and someone to mow the lawn, too) so we could spend less time maintaining our home and more time enjoying it, but even without help I can keep my home looking nice by just doing a little bit every day (and maybe shutting the door to a room or two).

image from here

I’ve been searching for the perfect blanket to fold over the back of my office/playroom sofa for months. The top cushions are a favorite spot for all three of our pets because, hello, it’s a cushy spot right in front of the window (it’s also the ideal vantage point from which to await our arrival home). I finally found a solution I’m really happy with, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

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My friend and blog sponsor Brandi asked if I wanted an old dropcloth she had no use for and I gladly accepted it, thinking I was sure to find something to do with it (I’ve used dropcloths for all sorts of projects, like a floorcloth, a slipcover, a pouf, upholstery fabric, window shades, and Christmas stockings). When I got it from her I realized that it was huge! I started to fold it up on the office rug so I could store it neatly when I realized it could be folded to pretty much the exact dimensions I needed for a blanket. I laid it over the sofa and WOOPWOOP it looked great! I really like the more subtle tone-on-tone look. It’s like a little visual vacation as your eye travels up from the high-contrast rug.

The couch is covered in a washable slipcover, but the cushions are such a pain to wrestle in and out of their covers that I really only wash it every few months. The dropcloth can easily be pulled off every few weeks for a quick wash to keep things looking nice. Plus when I have something special coming up (like the baby shower that I’m hosting in two weeks) I can wash the slipcover ahead of time and then spread the dropcloth across the whole sofa to keep pet hair from accumulating before the big day. Dropcloths are really soft once they’ve been washed a few times and you can pick them up for cheap cheap cheap at hardware stores or online. The fabric actually looks and feels a lot like linen! And someday if I get tired of this arrangement the dropcloth will be free fabric for me to use in other projects. Winning!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! We were busy busy busy–between a crawfish boil with friends and a day trip to visit family I really didn’t get much done at all around the house! I may or may not have absolutely nothing to blog about this week. We’ll see how productive I am today!

Let’s be honest. First birthday parties are not about the babies. They’re about the parents. It’s a chance for the parents to say, “We’ve successfully cared for this tiny tyrant for an entire year, cheers to seventeen more!” I told myself that I couldn’t start planning Jack’s first birthday party until I submitted my LCSW application–I completed my practice hours over a year ago but had never gotten around to applying for the exam! Well a few weeks ago I finally got the last of my paperwork together and Jack and I drove across town to deliver it by hand to the state social work board. Then I went home and promptly began pinteresting party ideas! Here’s what I’m envisioning:

jack's birthday moodboard (320x570)

Sources from top to bottom: swoon events, dreamlite photography, go graham go, moulage collection, sweet treats boutique

I love the idea of cupcakes. It’s good portion control for tummies big and small and Jack can have one of his very own without requiring a dedicated “smash cake.” My sister is an excellent baker and agreed to try her hand at this healthier recipe (bonus: it looks delicious!). I’m really not into anything “themed,” so I think I’ll stick to simple decor. If I can get myself organized enough to order prints I’d love to have a bunch of photos clipped to a clothesline showing Jack from in utero to today. I will definitely take advantage of this free printable to add a little flair to the cupcake of honor, especially since it ties into the colors I’m liking (blue, yellow, and green, the same colors I used in Jack’s nursery and in more muted shades throughout the rest of the house). And I could totally try my hand at some pretty lettering on a chalkboard to memorialize some of Jack’s stats (or outsource it to my friend Cassie, who is really good at that sort of thing). As for food, I’m thinking simple summer fare like sandwiches, potato salad, hummus, guacamole, fruit kabobs, and a cheese tray. We’ll probably just invite immediate family and close friends, and celebrate with extended family a week later when we see them for the Fourth of July.

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s a beautiful day in Baton Rouge and Jack and I are planning on making the most of it! I hope you do too!

I don’t have much to write about today, which is part of why I’m posting later than normal (mostly it’s because Jack is teething and driving me B-A-N-A-N-A-S), but I wanted to show you an updated pic of my veggie garden.

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You can see that some grass is coming up, and I decided to cover the lower four squares for now unless I decide to plant something in them (I just tacked down some cardboard). I did sow some basil and okra the other day in two empty squares. Here’s the updated layout.

sfg layout

I forgot to add the sugar snap peas to the diagram above, but you can see them coming up gangbusters next to the tomatoes. That’s the quickest I’ve ever had anything come up from seed! The lettuce and spinach are not really doing much. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s already too warm for them or because I used seeds left over from last year. And so far the asters are looking much better than the zinnias (or lack thereof). I’m still planning to add some marigolds if I find myself in the seed aisle! I looked the other day when I went to pick up Jack’s swing and that’s when I got the basil and okra, but I couldn’t find any marigold seeds.

Also, an update on my new compost bin! I moved about half of my pile into it the other day. The old pile had packed itself down quite a bit, but once I got it all stirred up there was a lot more there than I thought. I filled the entire trashcan and the old pile still looks as big as it did before I started. Maybe as the stuff in the trashcan breaks down into compost I can fill it with more materials from my pile until it’s all gone. I’ve been doing a good job of collecting kitchen scraps in a container in my fridge and bringing them out to the conveniently located compost “bin” every few days. The lid does pop off when I try to roll it around the yard, though, so I’ll look for a bungee cord next time I’m at the dollar or hardware store.

Can anyone advise me on the best way to battle the grass without hurting my plants? After this growing season I think I’ll cover the whole bed with several layers of newspaper and cardboard, but what to do until then?