...because home doesn't happen overnight.

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

The winner is Katie who would choose the Vibrance bouquet in remembrance of her mother.

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What are your guilty pleasures? I have a few.

*Slipping into freshly laundered bed linens.

*Buying any and all shelter-related glossies and / or books.

*Staying up way too late reading said glossies and / or books.

*Letting the boys play Minecraft for the 30 minutes of peace and quiet.

*Making spontaneous trips to Trader Joe’s.

*Taking advantage of Ikea’s kids-eat-free Tuesdays to “just look.”

*Driving alone.

*Eating alone in my car.

*Eating anything slathered in cookie butter.

*Eating anything covered in dark chocolate and considering it healthy. Because, antioxidants!

*Binge-watching “Breaking Bad” via my sister’s Netflix account.

*Searching “Danish” and “midcentury” on eBay.

*Allowing Mabrey to skip her nap in anticipation of an extra early bedtime.

*Locking the bathroom door.

*Subscribing to Amazon Prime.

*Pretend-searching for houses on realtor.

*Pretend-searching for vacation rentals on airbnb.

*Hiding Mabrey’s favorite book for a week because I can’t bear to read it one. more. time.

*Getting dressed, curling my hair, putting on makeup then staying home and thinking I clean up nice.

*Blasting pop music in the car and singing along at the top of my lungs while my kids look on in horror.

*Making a weekly batch of chocolate oatmeal no-bakes “for the kids.”

*Texting Steve to pick up takeout on his way home from work.

*Daydreaming about all the things I will do when I’m an empty nester.

*Rationalizing this: cleaning house = exercising.

*Sneaking a drink of water during my least favorite parts of Tracy Anderson DVDs.

*Stalking vintage rugs on etsy.

*Stalking houses in real life.

*Showing up to my tennis drill early for the extra 15 minutes of childcare.

*Swearing by fancy pens because they make my horrible handwriting look better. (In reality, my handwriting is a lost cause.)

*Keeping fresh flowers in the main bathroom and on my nightstand.

(I could go on and on…)

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Sometimes those fresh flowers come all the way from a mineral rich volcano in Ecuador BECAUSE I’M WORTH IT. Ha! In all seriousness, The Bouqs is a new and easy flower delivery service that delivers fresh bouquets directly to your door from the farm. The farm practices sustainable, responsible farming as certified by The Rainforest Alliance. Flowers are cut the day before they’re shipped so they arrive fresh and last longer. (The bouquets are so fresh that it sometimes takes a few days for the flowers to fully open.) Prices are competitive because there are no middle men and no tacky add-ons like stuffed animals and candy. All you get is a lush bouquet wrapped in simple kraft paper.

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Order a bouquet for yourself or send one to someone special. I divvied up a larger bouquet into three smaller ones: one for the main bathroom and two for Mabrey’s caregivers at tennis. I am so grateful for their help. (And those extra 15 minutes of me time!)

Are fresh flowers one of your guilty pleasures, too? The Bouqs is offering up a six-month delivery service to one lucky reader. See entry details below.

PRIZE: one six-month flower delivery service, courtesy of The Bouqs.

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Visit The Bouqs here, register for an account and browse the selection. Then leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite bouquet.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, April 6th, 2015. One random winner will be announced Tuesday, April 7th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: I’d love to hear your guilty pleasures! No judgments ;)

*This post sponsored in part by The Bouqs. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog! Please use the discount code MARCHBLOOM to score 15% off your order.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

clean house

It’s no secret that one of the perks of living small is a quicker cleaning routine. Our previous house was >2,700 square feet laid out over two floors and it took me a good 1-2 days to clean it thoroughly. At the time, I was working as a pharmacist and eventually I hired a housekeeper to come in once a month for a deep clean. (Initially, I felt extremely guilty and hoity-toity about hiring help. But the first time I came home to a clean house that I hadn’t cleaned, all negative feelings subsided.) I would try to follow a daily cleaning schedule to stay on top of things in between the deep cleans but I felt like I was constantly cleaning. Cleaning that house was the bane of my existence.

Fast forward to 2015 and cleaning still isn’t my favorite pastime but it’s much less painful in a smaller house. Not only do I have less house to clean, I have less stuff to clean. And I love it. I gave up the daily cleaning schedule in exchange for once-a-week whole house cleans. Daily cleaning isn’t necessary in this smaller space and, honestly, I enjoy an entire just-cleaned house. Otherwise, I start thinking about what isn’t clean or what I have to clean the next day.

At first, I did whole house cleans on Saturdays. I thought that everyone would pitch in and things would go more quickly. This went on for months unsuccessfully. Yes, everyone was home. Yes, everyone had a job to do. But it wasn’t quick. At all. We didn’t have a good rhythm. Not to mention, we were spending our rare family time cleaning. And as soon as the house was deemed clean, everyone was home to mess it up again in no time.

So I made the executive decision to stop cleaning house on weekends. Now I clean house on Mondays and, I have to say, it’s wonderful. We do laundry over the weekend but it’s a task that is easily broken up and sprinkled into our schedule with little disruption. On Sunday nights, we do a quick pickup of the entire house. On Monday mornings after everyone is off to school / work, (Mabrey and) I clean. I finally have a good routine and can clean the entire house in a little over an hour. I start wiping, dusting and vacuuming in the kitchen and then work my way into the living room and mudroom. Once the common areas are done, I check off the bedrooms. (Bed linens are washed over the weekend so things go quickly.) I use a Bona floor mop on the hardwoods throughout before moving on to the bathrooms. I finish up in the master bathroom where I clean the tub while I shower to save time. When I’m all done, I have several hours to enjoy a clean house before the post-school / post-work chaos ensues. I savor it.

Of course, we still have daily chores (emptying dishwasher, post-meal cleanup, litter box scooping, wiping down bathroom counters, taking out the trash, putting toys away, etc.) to attend to during the week but those are things that happen regardless. I think the biggest difference with this cleaning routine is that I’m not cleaning in anticipation of guests when I clean on Mondays. It’s more of a maintenance thing and I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor afterward. On the weekends, I’ve stopped fretting about our house’s appearance and focus on the people around me instead. Plus, I realized that most of our guests don’t really notice the difference between a Saturday clean versus a Monday clean (as long as we tidy up, wipe down the bathroom counters and swirl a brush around in the toilets before their visit). One weekend we had our good friends over and when they arrived I was folding a pile of laundry in the living room. My girlfriend said, “I’m so happy to see laundry in your living room! It’s like a real house.”

What about you? How long does it take you to clean your (big or small) home? Do you follow a daily schedule or do you prefer whole house cleans? Do you clean on weekends? Any advice for quicker cleans? Obviously, this routine works for us because I’m home. If you work outside of the house, don’t feel guilty about hiring out if you can afford it! And I would encourage you to choose a day of the week that allows you to enjoy your clean house as much as possible on your time off.

P.S. – A quick cleaning tip from my grandma: Lay old newspapers or used tissue paper on the top of exposed upper cabinetry to collect dust. On cleaning day, just fold up the papers and replace. Easy!

P.S.S. – My quick cleaning tips are: 1) Start with a tidy house. (I’m easily distracted if I have to walk into another room to put something away.) 2) Keep cleaning tools and products close to where you use them. 3) Let little kids wipe down base cabinets and call it done even if you would do it better. 4) Buy a smaller house! Get rid of stuff!

More cleaning-related posts: how I clean the globe lights, how I clean the wood floors.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

03.23.15 / Made Me Smile

Dayton Art Institute

Dayton Art Institute

dayton art institute

dayton art institute

The last few weekends have been good to us. No snow, no traveling, no big projects, lots of exploring. It’s been wonderful having a wide open schedule and making (or not making) plans on a whim. I feel like much of the time Steve and I are tag-teaming our parenting responsibilities, so it’s nice when we actually get to do something all together as a family. And it’s more fun being a present parent than a serious one with a never-ending schedule.

This past weekend we visited the Dayton Art Institute and it was perfection. The kids were in awe and asked tons of questions. (They were mostly questions about boobs.) Sometimes I forget that we have one of the best art museums for kids in our backyard. If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, you should check it out. It’s not too big, not too small. A current exhibition, The Last Supper by Julie Green, was especially moving and it sparked an interesting conversation with our oldest. I love it when art does that.

I’m also loving…

*The hits of black and dark olive in this row house by Mazen Studio.

*Benita’s DIY bar cabinet featuring a Superfront door.

*Sunset’s special small space style issue. (So fun to see familiar homes in a different way!)

*The kid-friendly lunchbox of my dreams.

i carried a watermelon

*I carried a watermelon.

*The idea of a zero waste home. (Not sure I have the discipline to hit zero but every little bit helps, right?)

*Clare’s new large format prints. Use the discount code HOUSETWEAKING at checkout to score 15% off any purchase.

*A gauzy, floral robe for the summer ahead. (I wish it had been in my hospital bag when I had my babies!)

P.S. – It’s snowing now.

images: 1-5) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 6) etsy (listing unavailable)