One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the last year is how to be more efficient at everything. From my job to our errands to even this blog, I’m constantly looking for ways to make everything on my plate more streamlined and easier to handle.
So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite high-efficiency spring cleaning tips with you guys, in case any of you are struggling with how to re-organize and streamline your homes this season! From bills to laundry to taking care of our son, I’ve found a few ways to make everything go a little smoother, and I’d love for you guys to chime in with any of your own as well.
Multitask: You’ll almost never find me doing just one thing. I’ve constantly juggling a to-do list that’s a mile long, so when I have a few extra minutes, I try to find small things I can knock off quickly. My phone is terrific for this! Waiting for the laundry to finish? Order paper towels from the Amazon app. Sitting in traffic on the way to a meeting? Perfect time for a chat with my mom. Instead of letting everything pile up until it’s unmanageable, I knock small items off my list every time I have a spare minute.
Set Short, Incremental Time Limits: Over time, I’ve noticed that I’m exceptionally productive right at the end of the day. After a while, I learned to put this habit to use, and it’s honestly changed my life. If I need to do something, I give myself a reasonable, but small, window to do it in, and tell myself I’ll only do it for that long. Folding laundry? Ten minutes. Prepping dinner? Twenty. I even use the timer on my phone sometimes. I build in breaks along the way so that I’m not rushing from task to task, but setting time limits means that I don’t end up wasting an hour procrastinating about something that only takes ten minutes. It’s a game-changer!
Thing Big: There’s a limit to the projects that you can get done in ten or twenty minutes, no matter how efficient you are. So I also set aside time for bigger projects, every few months or so. Things like re-organizing the pantry or researching home improvement projects that I want to put more time and thought into before tackling them. Springtime is the perfect reminder for projects like this, and I have a few on my plate right now that I’m making some good progress on.
All About Efficiency: Our house was built a few years ago and one of the big luxuries in a new house is that you find new, energy-efficient appliances, including our beloved washing machine and dryer. (And, yes, I’m not exaggerating at all when I call our washing machine “beloved” — living in a walk-up apartment in New York for years without a washing machine made me learn that a washing machine is not something you ever, ever take for granted. Oh, New York real estate. Good times.) But even a high-efficiency machine can use a boost to save you some time, water, and money. Tide’s HE Turbo Clean™ detergent is brand new and is the #1 recommended detergent by leading HE washer manufacturers. Conserving energy is a big plus in our house, particularly as we start to teach our son about the importance of conserving water and natural resources.
How does it work? Good question. HE Turbo Clean™ detergent saves time and water to make sure your machine is running at peak performance. It uses quick-dissolving Smart Suds™ technology to help prevent HE Machines from running additional rinse cycles. Skipping those additional cycles can save you up to 25 minutes and 10 gallons of water! And the best part is that it’s faster and more efficient than the usual laundry process, leaving you with more time for everything else in your day.
What are your favorite spring cleaning tips? To learn more about the new Tide® HE Turbo Clean™ formula, visit Tide.com/HE!
Disclosure: I partnered with Tide® to bring you this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Tags: home · sponsored
When my friend Julie posted a snapshot of her nursery for her soon-to-be baby girl, my jaw dropped. Four seconds later, I had recovered enough to text her and ask if I could feature it on Sugarlaws — that’s how beautifully she designed this room.
Thankfully for you guys, she agreed, and I couldn’t be happier with how the photos turned out. I’d love to feature more of our friends and family on Sugarlaws — there are so many beautiful home, style, and mothering tips that are way beyond what I could dream up, and sometimes it feels selfish to keep them to myself!
Take Julie: she was a buyer at Christian Dior before moving to Houston (I know. Seriously.) and now she runs her own boutique in West U. (For you Houstonians, she also does interior design and styling!) So it’s no surprise that she has impeccable taste.
But this nursery?
As you guys know, my fashion and home decor style is all about the bold, bright colors, but what I love most about Julie’s nursery is that she went the opposite route: peaceful, delicate neutrals. What a gorgeous, serene room for her baby girl to grow up in!
Since opening Julie Rhodes Fashion & Home in October 2013, I’ve been busy with my interior design clients and the day to day running of the store and have had less time to spend on my own home. It was so fun to work on this space and to be my own client, so to speak.
I wanted to invest in pieces that my baby could grow into and that would be timeless. When I found the the inlay dresser, I fell in love and ended up designed the rest of the room around it. I had the antique chandelier in one of our guest rooms and chose to move it to the nursery to dress the room up a bit. I didn’t want the space to feel all white or too baby pink. Mary McDonald’s blush color was a nice compromise and allowed me to use grey and taupe colors to balance everything.
I added the rug at the very last minute, to ground the space and give some color and texture to the floor (I also figured it would be easier to replace a rug than carpet, in the event of an explosive diaper or spit up situation!) Ultimately, I wanted this nursery to be beautiful, but also practical and to live up to every day life as my daughter grows up.
Drapes & Valance: Custom (Custom, Mary McDonald fabric)
Crib Linens: Custom (Custom, Mary McDonald fabric).
Antique Venetian Chandelier (Boxwood Interiors)
Dresser: Restoration Hardware Baby & Child Amira Inlay Dresser
Art: original Le Rire magazine covers (Custom framed). Paper Source map of Paris (Custom framed).
Book Shelf & Marble Side Table (Source: Julie Rhodes Fashion & Home)
Charles & Ray Eames Elephant: Here.
Rug: Restoration Hardware Baby & Child Tivoli Trellis Wool Flatweave Rug
Tags: baby · home
What a year this one has been!
I’m charging head-on into 2015, but before I do, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on all the wonderful moments from this past year. So, if you’re new to this blog or you missed a few posts here and there, I’ve pulled together some of my favorites from the last 12 months.
This marked the birth of our son, which turned my life upside down in the happiest, most wonderful (and yet totally overwhelming) way possible. I think my favorite post of the year was on my decision to give up the idea of being a “perfect” parent and to focus on enjoying time with our son. This is something I still struggle with nearly every day, but realizing it has made our lives so much happier and better. If you’re going to read one post I wrote in 2014, head over there.
In other news…
I briefly turned into Godzilla at the sound of our baby crying… and wound up breaking our freezer.
The best advice I received as a new parent: Just Wait A Week.
Our baby broke a $500 jar of Vaseline. Oops.
I shared Baby Bear’s birth story, the most incredible night of my life. And I surprised myself by dreading those newborn weeks so much, and then finding out that I actually liked them.
We had an epic meltdown in the grocery store.
I wrote letters to our son at one, two, three, four and five months… and then somehow completely forgot to keep going. Baby Brain, people. It’s a real thing. I’m hoping to revive these in 2015! (And, if you want to get all technical about it, I technically wrote two letters to him at one month old… with no recollection of the first when I wrote the second. I blame the two combined hours of sleep I was getting per night at that point.)
I wrote about our decision to vaccinate, and why it shouldn’t be a decision at all. Please inform yourselves about the facts on this incredibly important issue, for the safety of your child and others.
I wrote about our struggles with breastfeeding and the solution that worked for us, as well as two posts on nursing mom style tips (here and here). I wrote about the products you actually need as a new mom (hint: it’s not a wardrobe of pint-size newborn clothes)!
I wrote about why parental leave isn’t just a women’s issue — engaged dads make for happier families, and paternity leave is important too.
And finally, I wrote about life as a working mom, and the challenges I’m juggling with balancing my career and our family.
Baby bump posts took up the first four months of the year! I had so much fun styling my growing belly! At the time, I felt huge and totally self-conscious, but now I look at those pictures with so much joy. This pink ASOS dress and this LOFT top were my favorites of the whole pregnancy. And this festival-inspired dress at sunset continues to be one of my favorite photos of the year.
I wore head-to-toe leopard print at eight months pregnant. And full-on sequins. Because, hey, why not?
Post-partum dressing was a big challenge, but I did my best! A great tropical-themed outfit here, and our puppy Rambo had a cameo over here. I did a number of fun collaborations, and this dressbarn style was a big favorite, as was this White House Black Market summer style. I waited nine months to wear this Mara Hoffman dress, which is basically the most perfect thing ever.
I styled an outfit for our imaginary life in California, the one we almost lived. And I shared my top five tips for dressing stylishly while pregnant.
And last but not least, I was featured in the July issue of Glamour magazine! Thanks again to my wonderful readers for pointing this out to me — without you guys, I never would have known!
Our crockpot was the workhorse of 2014 — life with a baby inevitably makes the slow cooker into your most valued possession. They’re great for creating healthy, easy, low-stress meals that won’t burn when you leave the kitchen eleven million times while preparing dinner. I loved our Southwestern Chicken Stew and BBQ Chicken for easy weeknight staples.
I also focused more on breakfasts than ever before, and made egg dishes with quinoa and avocado toasts that were delicious and super healthy, and blueberry sour cream pound cake that wasn’t so healthy but was really delicious.
And finally, you guys know me. There were some dessert creations this year, obviously. Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies that were surprisingly awesome, as were my No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars.
And finally, a two-ingredient cocktail that can’t be beat: Kahlua and Chocolate Ice Cream. Yes. I went there. And it was glorious.
(Caramel Sandwich Cookies weren’t the worst thing in the world, either.)
I shared our “ttc” (internet slang for “trying to conceive”) story, and ups and downs of finding out that I needed surgery almost immediately after we started trying to have a baby. For silly superstitious reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable posting this until after our son had safely arrived, but so many families struggle with infertility, I think it’s important that we share these stories openly and honestly. So I did.
My biggest, most epic pregnancy meltdown: The story of the ceiling fan. (Or: Why Pinterest and Pregnancy Hormones Don’t Mix.)
I wrote about my nervousness with all the ways that our life was about to change, the same way I felt about leaving New York when we moved to Texas.
I tried to remember to enjoy being pregnant, and not just focusing on when the baby would finally get here. (It’s tough, at the end, let me tell you.)
I confronted the terrifying reality that new parents have no idea what they’re doing. And that I’d probably do just fine anyways.
I ate an entire chocolate cake by myself.
And on that note, I wrote about pregnancy weight gain. I spent way too much time freaking out at the numbers on the scale at the beginning of my pregnancy, when I gained way over the “recommended” amount… which was, ultimately, exactly what my body and our son needed.
And finally, despite the many, many posts about pregnancy, I wrote about the fact that there are so many wonderful ways to create a family. Sure, pregnancy is one, but what binds a family together isn’t genetics: it’s love.
In October, we left the baby behind for a pretty amazing trip to Mexico. I slept for, like, fourteen hours a day. And it was basically the best week of my life.
I made over our breakfast nook and created the most gorgeous nursery in turquoise and white. My IKEA dresser hack went viral on Pinterest, and well deservedly so. At under $400 for all the supplies, it simply can’t be beat.
Chad and I had our five year anniversary, and I shared our very unprofessional (but totally wonderful) wedding video here.
And in September, we lost our beloved dog Calvin, who I still miss every day.
I shared some meditation tips for beginners — one of the biggest changes in 2014 was that I started meditating on a regular basis, and it has improved my outlook so dramatically. If you haven’t given it a try, I definitely recommend it!
I wrote about our new puppy Rambo, who eats poop. We like him anyway.
I had an incredible baby shower, and was so grateful to celebrate with our wonderful friends and family.
I cancelled my trip to New York for Fashion Week because I was pregnant, and then promptly reconsidered. I ended up going at seven months pregnant and had a total blast — my video diary was posted here.
And I capped off the year by finally telling you guys about my disastrous Christmas dinner in 2013. Oops!
What a year! Just writing this has put a huge smile on my face. It’s been a crazy, wild ride and a joy every single day. Can’t wait to share 2015 with you guys, too.
Tags: baby · food · home · life · style