I am a true homebody at heart, and anyone who knows me knows I can be pretty particular about what I like at home. From my favorite coffee to my favorite red wine to the brand of sea salt I like best, I’m…kind of picky, I’ll admit. So, Annabel and I thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful to you) to share some of the tried and true things for the home that we would rather not live without. This week, it’s the “Jen Edition,” and our next edition will feature Annabel’s favorites. So, let’s get this house party started!
I’m kind of a broom and vacuum fanatic. And I love my vacuum. A lot. My Miele vacuum is lightweight, portable, and it sucks up everything under the sun. I love that I can switch between vacuuming an area rug and the wood floors with a flick of my foot and I won’t scratch up the floors. I love that it takes a vacuum bag because it’s tidy and easy to empty the full bag and replace with a new one. I love that there are attachments and settings for vacuuming more delicate things like lampshades and upholstery. It’s easy to use on my stairs and it tucks away in a small corner of the closet. And, maybe my favorite part is this: With kids, I’m constantly sucking up things that have no business getting into the vacuum. Miele makes their vacuum so that most of the main parts (like the hose and all that) can be taken apart and reassembled in a really intuitive, quick way. So if you suck up a bunch of hair scrunchies or colored pencils and they get stuck midway, slowing down your suction, it’s easy to get in there and get them out. Polly Pocket pieces and Legos beware—they’re goners for good if they get sucked up. (And, in case you’re interested and on a dishwasher hunt, I also swear by my Miele dishwasher).
Favorite Natural Stone Counter Top Cleaner
When we put in a new quartzite countertop in our kitchen a couple of years ago, I wanted to be sure to use a gentle cleanser on it (Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone that is quarried, like marble and granite. Sometimes people confuse quartzite with manmade quartz). I read rave reviews somewhere online about the concoction outlined below, and I decided to try it. I love it—love the smell of the essential oils in particular! Love the low-cost price just as much—because really the rubbing alcohol is what you go through fastest, and it’s the cheapest to replenish.
+ 1 clean spray bottle
+ 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
+ A couple of drops Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
+ A few drops of your favorite essential oil (mine is lavender)
Fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water and give a good shake!
Favorite Clothes Steamer
I’d never even had a steamer until I took part in this spring’s One Room Challenge revamping our own master bedroom. When I decided on linen drapes for the windows and linen sheets for the bed, I thought it might be a good idea to get a steamer to make sure things were looking their best before having the room photographed. I bought this mini OGHom handheld steamer and I’ve never looked back. Now, earlier in this post, I mentioned how much I love vacuuming—well, that’s about how much I hate ironing! So, I find that most of the time I use this little handy handheld steamer whenever I need to de-wrinkle my clothes. Definitely it’s not the same crisp, starchy finish an iron will deliver, but it does the job good enough for me and my clothes and I love it!
Favorite Home Fragrance
OK, full disclosure: I’m a home fragrance junkie. I know, I know, many people these days are trying more and more to use all-natural products in their homes and be as free of harsh chemicals as possible. I get it. I really do. And I know that’s what I should be doing. But, I just have a weakness for things like scented candles and reed diffusers and even plug-in electric diffusers. I can’t help myself. It makes me really happy if I walk in my house and it just smells nice. And it makes me really unhappy if I walk in and it doesn’t smell nice.
Over the years, I have tried a lot of different products. I was a home fragrance serial hoarder. I even had a drawer in the bathroom I called my “candle graveyard,” where unfinished candles went to die when their scent didn’t make the cut, but I felt too guilty to throw them away because there was still perfectly good unused wax and a wick in there. Now, finally, after years of trial and error, I’ve found a home fragrance that I stick to (well, at least until my next blog post on this topic…or until Gwyneth deems some new fragrance the be-all and end-all thing to have in her latest Goop newsletter). But, for now, this is what I swear by:
I like it because it’s not too sweet and cloying. In fact, when you first plug it in, it may even be a little too strong and piquant. But it quickly mellows and just gives off a really nice clean, welcoming scent every time you walk in the door. And remember, I have three kids who play smelly sports and we cook with garlic a lot. Now, I do realize fragrance is a very personal thing, so I won’t take offense if you’re not with me on this one. But for me, (for now), it’s just right. Not only that, but with the highway robbery that so many luxury home fragrance brands charge for their products (and believe me, I’ve tried those too), the $6.95 price tag for Pier 1’s oils could not be any better. I buy it in bulk.
Favorite Metal Polish
As the kindergarten teachers say about glue, "a dot does a lot." I use Simichrome on my polished nickel kitchen faucet, my pewter vase, and my silver candlesticks. But the Amazon write-up says it’s good on “any uncoated, non-ferrous, metal surface including, brass, gold, silver, aluminum, magnesium, pewter, chrome, sterling, copper and stainless steel.” Dab it on a microfiber cloth and go to town!
Got any favorite things for the home that you can’t live without? Let us know!
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