You can feel it, can’t you? The burst of energy? The desire to get outside. The need to just do something. The whole spring renewal thing is legit. Hence why it really is wise to harness some of that new-found energy and put it toward…spring cleaning! It is a thing and it is a super smart thing to actually do. After being cooped up for the winter now is the time to shake off the cobwebs, both figuratively and literally. But now that I’m back to being a homeowner after many years of loft living, tackling the spring cleaning to-do list can feel rather daunting. When strapped for time, spring cleaning is hard to get started. However, I’ve found a formula that will help you get it done without feeling overwhelmed. Because there’s nothing better than the sense of accomplishment when you complete a good cleaning sesh. And neat, clean spaces have been proven to lower stress and anxiety levels! We all need that. If you use the tips below, I promise you’ll get to the aww, I just got off work on a Friday-afternoon feeling asap.

To kick off your spring cleaning regimen, map out your cleaning game plan. Dedicate 15 minutes to organizing all of your cleaning supplies and deciding which rooms you plan to tackle and the products you’ll need. Then, assign a day to tackle each of those spaces. This step will keep you from feeling completely overwhelmed when you aren’t quite sure where to start.

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Then, it’s time to clear the clutter and prep for the deep clean. Bedrooms and bedroom closets are hot spots for clutter, so they’re often a good first room to be cleaned during spring cleaning. And for more than one-in-four Americans, the pantry and kitchen drawers also gather clutter. I recently tackled both my pantry and my closet and could not be happier with the result. When it come to cleaning a pantry (or cupboards – the definition of pantry can be loosely applied), ditch anything that is expired or you haven’t touched in at least six months. You can check out my pantry organization post right here for how I pulled my pantry together.

I took a similarly tough approach to sprucing up my closet for the new season. Since I finally have my own closet, I have no excuse not to keep it organized. Why is that always so much easier said than done?? Anywho, I finally tackled the beast. Anything really worn out or looking sad? Out. Anything that doesn’t fit well? Out. Anything I haven’t worn in six months (excluding seasonal items) out! That actually opened up some space, but you’ll have to wait until next week for the rest of my closet tour and my spring wardrobe wish list.

how to tackle spring cleaning on apartment 34

Once key spaces are clutter-free, tackle the most dreaded chore on your list first. According to The Clorox Company’s recent survey, if Americans could give up one chore for the rest of their lives, scrubbing the toilet would be the first chore to go. Deep cleaning the bathrooms is most definitely my least favorite cleaning activity – I like organizing the stuff – attacking the actual dirt just grosses me out. But things like Clorox® ScrubSingles™ Bathroom Pads, which are preloaded with cleaner and feature a scrubbing surface designed to attack stubborn bathroom stains, and the Clorox® ToiletWand®, a pre-loaded toilet brush that cleans, sanitizes and disinfects your toilet with a refillable, disposable head, both clean up tough messes the easy way. Done and done. And once you conquer your most dreaded space, whatever it is, the rest of your spring cleaning chores will feel like a walk in the park!

how to tackle spring cleaning on apartment 34

To keep yourself motivated through your cleaning sessions, allow yourself to take breaks. Snacks and screens, whether be it the television, computer or smartphone, are the most popular ways to take a break during cleaning sprees. For women in particular, snacks, checking e-mail and catching up on social media are go-to ways to break up a long cleaning session. So set the phone in the other room until you finish a task and then you can give five minutes of Insta-stories time (are you kinda addicted? yeah, me too). Creating even larger incentives for yourself, such as hosting a get-together for the finale of your favorite TV show or taking a well-deserved staycation once you tackle everything on your list, will also keep you motivated throughout the cleaning process.

how to tackle spring cleaning on apartment 34

And you can always look for ways to make your life easier. To tackle dust I use Clorox® Triple Action Dust Wipes, which are dry, non-abrasive wipes featuring an interlocking weave that traps and locks dust, allergens – even pet hair. I use them on furniture, electronics, blinds, frames, baseboards, floors and more. Pro tip, to keep guest areas low maintenance put potted plants next to your guest bed instead of fresh flowers so you don’t have to worry about wilted blooms and dripping pollen falling everywhere.

how to tackle spring cleaning on apartment 34

While the list can sometimes feel long, you can, in fact, power through spring cleaning without devoting your life to the task. Simply make your list of the must-tackle projects and check ’em off one-by-one. I can even get my kiddo into the act. He thinks sweeping is the cat’s pajamas. Although he really only moves dirt from one part of the floor to the other, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Below I’ve listed out what I would recommend tackling this spring cleaning season:

 

SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST

> Dust all crown molding, baseboards, light fixtures, ceiling corners

> Wipe down all blinds, clean curtains or any other window coverings

> Clean all doors and windows inside and out

> Disinfect all door and cabinet knobs, as well as counters and other hard surfaces

> Disinfect remote controls, dust & disinfect all of your other frequently electronics, keyboards, mouse, your phone (make sure to follow instructions – they can be sensitive to various cleaners)

> Change out any air vents and filters throughout the house

> Thoroughly vacuum all rugs and clean floors under them

> Wipe down all furniture, making sure not to miss corners of shelving units

> Clean out all your counter top appliances as well as your refrigerator, oven and microwave

> Swap out all bedding, flip your mattress, clean the mattress coverings

> Clean under the bed

> Disinfect your toothbrush holders, soap dishes, shower curtains

> Clean out your medicine cabinet/vanity

> Wash all your make-up brushes and throw out expired or seldom-used make-up (this post is helpful for that)

To make this “Season of Clean” less daunting and more fun, Clorox is sharing 30 days of content on its Springvent calendar. Whether it’s a cleaning tip, life hack, recipe to reward your accomplishments or DIY project, Clorox is providing fun and unique ways to help you enjoy the spring cleaning season. For additional motivation along the way, visitors to the Springvent calendar can enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win exciting prizes. Clorox will announce one winner each week, for a total of four winners. Learn more at SeasonOfClean.com.

 

For even more peeks into our house (I swear it’s going to be done soon!) – CLICK HERE.

 

original photography for apartment 34 by Michelle Drewes

This post is in partnership with Clorox. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting collaborations that I’m excited about and that have kept apartment 34’s doors open

If, like me, you’re a huge fan of picture rail shelves (I’ve used them repeatedly over the years, like here and here and here), but are hesitant to drill permanent holes in your wall, you’re going to love this Idea to Steal. It offers a super creative away to display your treasures.

idea to steal: innovative displayidea to steal: innovative display

This is literally an Ikea hack. Rather than drill into your wall, you can create your own leaning picture rail display. Simply screw some picture rails into a run of black marble patterned Ikea countertops and you’ve got a flexible, moveable display case.

Books, art, magazines and odds and ends suddenly become an eye catching focal point – especially if you style everything in a monochromatic color palette. And I’m always a sucker for black (case in point, my new dining room). You can use this leaning display to create a still life in just about any space – a living room, bedroom, office. Even a hallway. And the best part? You can change the look whenever the mood strikes.

I smell a spring project coming on! What do you think? Are you into this idea?

 

For our entire Idea to Steal archive, CLICK HERE.

 

design by Pella Hedeby for IKEA | Photo by Karl Anderson

Apartment 34 on Instagram

Who else is feeling pumped about all things Spring right now? Fresh colors, new styles, lighter flavors – I don’t know what it was about this winter, but the hibernation was legit. But the new season is working  it’s magic. I’m finally feeling ready to break out of the doldrums. It’s time to be social again! I’ve never properly broken in our house so I think it’s high time. It’s the perfect excuse to break back into the bar cart and put some of that spring energy into a fresh cocktail idea.

Now, my love of margaritas is well-documented. Margaritas just equal fun. And when made right, they’re absolutely delicious. It’s no wonder they’re most popular cocktail in the US (interesting, right?!).

tiki rita recipe on apartment 34tiki rita recipe on apartment 34tiki rita recipe on apartment 34tiki rita recipe on apartment 34

I’ve become a bit of a margarita connoisseur over the years and have figured out the formula to a stellar drink. The number one rule? Top shelf ingredients. Your margarita is only as good as what you put in it. Obviously that starts with great tequila. The first time you have truly good tequila, I promise your mind will be blown. My choice for top shelf tequila is Patrón. The second secret? Fresh everything else. We served margaritas at my wedding (it was in Mexico after all – you can see a glimpse here) and my dear father-in-law juiced over 50 limes by hand! But you know what they say. A little hard work makes the reward so much sweeter.

To celebrate the most popular cocktail nationwide, Patrón has crafted 7 artisanal recipes that showcase the versatility of the margarita and its endless variations in flavor profiles—from spice-infused to classic citrus. I got to put their “Tiki Rita” recipe to the test.

tiki rita recipe on apartment 34tiki rita recipe on apartment 34

A Hawaiian-inspired version of the classic, this margarita is still light and refreshing but with a distinct spicy note – as in from your spice cabinet – not hot. It combines both fresh lime and fresh grapefruit juice as well as a spice-infused liquor call Allspice Dram. Thankfully, you can pick up all the ingredients at most liquor stores or your favorite bottle shop. I found everything for this cocktail at BevMo. And while I don’t normally rock the kitsch that tends to accompany all things tiki, I did find these adorable tiki shot glasses! I think they’re the perfect way to pay homage to the drink’s inspiration. And isn’t the color just gorgeous? Scroll down to get the entire recipe!

tiki rita recipe on apartment 34

RECIPE: PATRÓN TIKI RITA

Ingredients

2oz Patrón Reposda
.5oz Patrón Citrónge Orange
.5oz Fresh lime juice
.5oz Fresh grapefruit juice
.25oz Vanilla syrup
.25oz Allspice Dram
Grated nutmeg
Lime wheels
Hawaiian sea salt rim

Directions

1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill.
2. Strain onto fresh crushed ice in a high ball (or tiki!) glass that has been rimmed with Hawaiian sea salt.
3. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg, a lime wheel and fresh cloves.

Check out all of the “Margarita of the Year” recipes by visiting patrontequila.com and casting your vote for your favorite on Twitter and Facebook for a chance to help name the #MargaritaOfTheYear. Of course, I’d love to see the #TikiRita trend! Vote for your favorite Margarita by doing one of the below:
1. Using the recipe Hashtag – #TikiRita – on Twitter/Facebook
2. Vote on the Patrón Margarita of the Year website by clicking RIGHT HERE

 

photography for apartment 34 by michelle drewes

This post is in partnership with Patrón. The perfect way to enjoy Patrón is responsibly. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep our doors open.

Now that the days are a little longer, the sun a little warmer and blossoms are starting to pop, I suddenly have the urge to fill our house with all things green. While I’m certainly no green thumb, I have managed to keep this fiddle leaf fig tree alive for three years running (to learn how, click here)! And though I still love the little guy, options for spring greenery that go beyond the fiddle leaf feel fresh these days – say that 10x fast!

spring greens on apartment34spring greenery on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34spring greens on apartment34

Whether you can fit an entire tree in your living room, or can nurture a hearty monstera leaf, finding a unique plant will give any room new life. From bathrooms to bedside tables, bar carts to hallways, really any space can benefit from that punch of a pretty bit of greenery. For some of my favorite house plant options and more details on how to care for them click here and here.

Happy spring!

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Childcare. Until you have a kid, you have no idea what a weighted topic this is. Everyone has opinions on who should do the caring of the child, how the child should be cared for, how much someone should be compensated for said care and on and on. There is so much to unpack when considering childcare options, I had a hard time deciding where this post should focus. While we’re now entering the throes of pre-school applications and will soon face the fun challenge of figuring out childcare when your kid is only “in school” three half-days a week, I’m going to save that drama for another post. Instead, I’m going to share my harrowing childcare experience as a cautionary tale. I hope it will help someone following in our parental footsteps to avoid the mistakes we made.

talking childcare on apartment34

Our kiddo was born in early April (he’s almost 2, ahhh!) and thankfully both I and my husband had substantial parental leave. So those first few months were nothing but sleep deprived baby bliss. I did manage to blog during that time (which truthfully, I now regret – I wish I could have just let it all go and cherished the fleeting moments of the newborn phase. But it can be hard to surrender, especially when this space is kinda like my first baby…but back to my story).

In what felt like was a blink of an eye, both the hubs and me had to go back to full-time 9-5 work. While I was sad to leave my little dude, I was also excited to have a part of me back – but that’s a different topic that we actually discussed right here. Having no immediate family in the Bay Area, we had to look for outside help. At only four months old, Carter seemed too teeny for the daycare route (though I know many moms who did it and loved it). We decided to hire a nanny – and quickly. The timing kind of snuck up on us. Luckily we had a referral, who we interviewed briefly and who seemed great so we hired her on the spot.

Now, choosing who is going to care for your kid is a major decision. It impacts all factors of your life. It affects your stress levels, your peace of mind, your ability to work, even how you parent. If you have someone who comes to your home, you’re essentially welcoming someone into your family. They’re going to see all the warts we usually try to hide – how long we leave dishes sitting in the sink, your underwear hanging on the drying rack, what you look like with bedhead! You’ve got to get real comfortable with whoever is caring for your kid real quick. I should know this – I was a nanny all through college!

Unfortunately, I learned finding said person is a lot easier said than done. I quickly discovered that while caring for the child is a nanny’s primary job, so many other factors are of critical importance. Are they reliable? Are they on time? Are they thoughtful? Do they pay attention to details? Do they communicate effectively? Are they open to feedback? Are they respectful of your home and possessions? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’re likely in trouble. To rely on someone to help your life run, only to have them be constantly late, or not show up at all, break things, lose things, lock themselves out of the house, lock themselves out of the car, be incapable of adhering to schedules or to follow instructions – that all adds copious amounts of stress to an already overloaded mom’s plate. To boil it down: it’s really hard to have your shit together when you’re a working new mom, so you really want to make sure your childcare provider has their shit together – otherwise everything turns into a stinking hot mess.

Without getting into the details too much, let’s just say our first nanny did not work out. So then I was back on the childcare hunt, frantically asking friends for referrals, getting on all kinds of mommy listservs and jumping on all the babysitting websites and apps. San Francisco is a very competitive market for nannies. Good ones get snatched very quickly.  After interviewing multiple candidates – which is nearly a full-time job in itself mind you – I thought I’d finally found a good fit. Someone a bit older, with a bit more experience, good references. We even did a trial run to see how everyone felt. I thought we were golden – but we were also leaving on vacation. So I paid this potential nanny in advance to retain her while we were away for two weeks. Upon our return, she promptly quit, claiming a job closer to her home just happened to come up and she just had to take it. She did not return our money.

Second lesson learned: sign an employment contract. Employment contracts with childcare providers solve a lot of problems. They help lay out very clear expectations. They make sure everyone agrees upon responsibilities and job duties, on payment schedules and sick leave etc etc. While we had in fact negotiated one with this second nanny candidate, we only established verbal agreements, rather than ensuring everyone signed on the bottom line before taking our vacation. Leaving us with no legal leg to stand on. And out a boat load of cash. Big mistake. Huge, as they say.

And so there I was, back to square one yet again. Needless to say, I was both panicked and super anxious at this point. Could I not trust my own instincts? Did I not know what was best for my kid? Am I that bad of a judge of character? Probably not. It’s just that finding really good, reliable, honest, loving, caring people is hard! So in desperation (because I’d been without help for a month now and I did have this little ole blog to run and my husband couldn’t take time off work. I can’t image what a mom who doesn’t work for themselves would do. Our childcare policies in this country are a travesty. But that is yet, another post. So back to my story). For our final go-round, I turned to the pros – a nanny agency. They do a lot of the legwork for you including initial screenings, background checks, interviewing references and ensuring all candidates are highly qualified and who they say they are!

Thankfully, the third time was the charm. After diligently interviewing multiple candidates (with interview questions the agency helped us with that really got into how a person reacts to crisis, conflict, and their personal philosophies on childcare), checking references and doing an in-home trial, we found a wonderful nanny who our son loves. While not everything is picture perfect all the time, I have identified my childcare deal breakers: be reliable, be trustworthy, try your best and help my kid learn and grow.  With all those boxes checked I can go to work feeling good. And that is quite the relief. We have to remember that Mary Poppins is in fact, a fairy tale.

So how about you? Anyone else have a harrowing childcare story to share? I’m sure some of the other mamas do – living scattered around the country and with different aged babes – we’ve been through it all. Check out their posts below!

Alex | Jen | LeahHeyMama | Cyd | Natalie | RebeccaCatherine | Sarah | Caitlin

For our Real Moms archive that includes topics like breastfeeding, going back to work, self-care, co-parenting, travel & more  CLICK HERE

After more renovation woes than I’d care to admit, (have I mentioned the leaking walls, or the flooding crawl space? Let me know if you want to hear those harrowing homeownership tales) I’ve finally reached the point where I get to think about things other than drywall, contractors or paint colors. I get to start adding some jewelry to this ensemble. And the jewels are always so fun. Art, rugs, light fixtures and my personal favorite – accent chairs. I’ve always felt that a good chair can inject a room with some serious personality. And with this house, I want to make sure I pick the perfect piece. No grabbing the latest trend at some knock-off store this go-round (though no shame in that game). But with this house, I’m in it for the looooonggg haul. Just think about the years (literally, years) it’s taken me to get here!! My accent chair hunt is a very deliberate, slow process but one option has worked its way up towards the top of my wish list: the Arne Jacobsen Drop chair.

arne jacobsen drop chair on apartment 34 arne jacobsen drop chair on apartment 34arne jacobsen drop chair on apartment 34 arne jacobsen drop chair on apartment 34

The Drop chair was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958 as part of one of his most famous designs, the iconic Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The Drop was designed along with what have also become iconic mid-century designs, the Swan and the Egg chairs, but the Drop was originally produced in a very limited number exclusively for the hotel. After more than 50 years in hibernation, Fritz Hansen recently relaunched the Drop. It is a small chair with a big personality and it is as fresh and vibrant as a new design but with a rare heritage. The design of the back combines a warm embrace with freedom of movement, resulting in a surprising level of comfort. They come in both plastic mold and a few come in leather or an upholstered fabric. Different colors are released each year. This year I’ve spied maroon and dark gray. Maybe it’s the fact that it is (finally!) 75 degrees in San Francisco or that the cherry blossoms are out or that pinks are actually growing on me (gasp), but I’m kinda loving the pastel options. They’re like little easter eggs dropped into a room.

I’m still working on my final furniture plans for various rooms but I wouldn’t be surprised if a cute little Drop chair landed in there somewhere. What do you think? Are you loving this accent seat?

For all the progress on our house to date, CLICK HERE

For what I’ve learned about renovations, CLICK HERE

For the rest of my favorite furniture finds, CLICK HERE

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