Mother’s Day #GiftofClean

Mother’s Day and my 21st anniversary fell on the same day this year. While I enjoyed a weekend away my kids held down the fort.

Now, often when the kids are on their own (even though a few of them aren’t really kids any more) the house tends to get a little dirty. Since the kids know I love a clean house they decided to make that my gift this year.

I couldn’t believe when I walked in the door and saw my sparkling kitchen. They had even polished all the normally covered in fingerprints stainless steel appliances.

My oldest son explained in great detail how they had spent Saturday night working together to get the house clean by “mom’s standards.” That’s a little joke in our house because often my children will clean to their standards (meaning popcorn kernels belong under the couch) instead of my standards (popcorn kernels belongs in the garbage).

Not only was the kitchen clean, the rest of the house looked great too! The kids shared what they cleaned and were so proud of their work.

My little girls were excited to give me the Mother’s Day cards they picked out and Cora was really excited because my card from her had a sticker. She suggested I put it on my computer, but I told her I would put it on my journal instead. :-)

Even Cora my littlest got into the action by wiping around the doorknobs and baseboards. The Scotch-Brite non-scratch sponge does a great job getting dirt off and doesn’t damage the paint!

It was great to come home to a clean house after a fun weekend away. Since the house was clean we spent the rest of the day hanging out and relaxing. My kids definitely knew the best gift for me this Mother’s Day!

I’m partnering with Scotch-Brite to share cleaning tips and ideas this summer. All opinions are my own. 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Kitchen Remodel

When we purchased our house we knew the kitchen needed to be remodeled. The formica counters were coming apart at the seams (literally),  the linoleum was peeling up and so dirty you couldn’t get it clean, and the cabinets were coming apart and smelled like old smoke.

Not only was it in bad condition the flow of the kitchen did not work.

If you opened the refrigerator door it hit the island. When the fridge was open you could not enter the kitchen through the garage. If the oven door was open you could only stand next to it not in front of it because there wasn’t enough room between the door and the island.

We had a laundry room next to the kitchen that was also very small. It was so narrow that you had to stand next to the water and dryer to get clothes out because with the door open you couldn’t stand in front of it.

It took us almost six months to figure out exactly what we wanted to do in the kitchen and laundry room and another six weeks to complete the job.

Since we decided to move walls, gas, and water lines we hired a contractor to do the work. Neither my husband or myself have much experience with remodeling and while we are always trying new projects and learning we felt this was something we were unable to tackle without significant help.


This was the refrigerator that came with the house. You couldn’t open the doors all the way because of the island. It was also tiny.


Kitchen before: Blue/green laminate counters, white laminate cabinets, gray linoleum floors. This is the view from the sunroom. We thought getting a French door fridge would help with the space issue, and it did, but unfortunately we bought a fridge that was too big for the space and ended up taking off the molding to make it fit.


The small closet pantry was between the garage door and the fridge making for a very narrow entry into the kitchen. We come in to our house through the garage so this was not optimal.


Kitchen sink side of the kitchen.


Doors to the sunroom. The opened into the kitchen.


Sunroom/ breakfast room. This room had indoor outdoor carpeting and leads to our deck and pool

view from door

View from the garage entry into the kitchen.

sink before

View from fridge across the kitchen.


We also had a desk in our kitchen. This really limited our cabinet space and quickly became a resting place for all our junk.


Laundry room right off the kitchen. It was too small to have a large washer and dryer, so the stacked unit came with the house.

We decided to move our laundry room to the basement. I know many people prefer having laundry on the main level, but we really wanted a large pantry and turning the laundry room into a pantry was the easiest way to do that. We also wanted more space for the laundry and moving it to the basement gave us a large laundry area.

We wanted to connect our kitchen and sunroom so we needed flooring that could hold up to wet kids coming in and out of the pool all summer. We chose a porcelain tile that looks like wood. It has some texture so it isn’t as slippery when wet as wood or tile.

I also wanted something that could handle seven kids, their friends, and the numerous visitors we have in our house all year. I needed something that didn’t show dirt and was easy to clean. I found this WOW tile from Colli and fell in love. It is very different, and definitely not for everyone, but the second I saw it at the showroom I knew it was exactly what I wanted. I also knew it was BOLD so I spent a few weeks agonizing over it but finally decided to go for it!


There are several versions of this tile if you like the look but aren’t looking for such statement flooring in your house. This tile comes in 6 x 36 planks and is porcelain.

We tore out the pantry and moved the fridge creating a wall of cabinets.



I opted for drawers because I think they are so versatile in a kitchen. We use our drawers for pots and pans, cookie sheets, tupperware, and plastic dishes. Many people asked us why we ripped out white cabinets and replaced them with white cabinets. If I could have kept our cabinets I would of, but the smell was so bad I didn’t think we could.

We purchased Sequoia thermofoil maple cabinets. I did a ton of research before deciding on the thermofoil. I really wanted white cabinets and everything I read said the thermofoil would hold up better than painted white cabinets.


I decided on a glass backsplash. This was probably the easiest decision I made in the whole process. I saw this pattern (it comes in 12in square sheets) and we ordered it.


As I mentioned earlier we moved our laundry room downstairs and turned it into a pantry. I LOVE my walk in pantry. I also debated about this for two months and it actually held up our remodeling job. I’m so glad I did it though.


We went with black granite countertops. It is absolute black and is inexpensive for granite and is available almost everywhere. I knew with my bold floors the counters needed to be plain.


I switched from a double sink to a deep single sink. I did this in my last house too and I love the big sinks! We ordered the Kohler K-780-VS Cruette Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet in stainless steel.


We purchased a Jenn-Air microwave, dishwasher, and gas range. The dishwasher and microwave are pretty standard, but I did opt for an upgraded range and I love it.

We purchased a Whirlpool refrigerator that was cabinet depth. My contractor was pretty insistent that we have a cabinet for the fridge and I didn’t really understand why, until the kitchen was done. I do like the fridge much better in the cabinet.


Now that the pantry closet it gone there is plenty of room to get in the kitchen from the garage. Also we opted to not put in an island. I thought it would clog up the kitchen so we decided to go without it. I figured I could always add one later, but it is much harder to take one out.

So far we LOVE not having one.


We decided to remove the doors permanently to the sunroom. We wanted the rooms to feel connected and thought removing the doors and keeping the flooring the same was the best option. We have a table in this room now (that needs to be painted) and we eat in this room all the time. Now I just need to get something up in front of the ugly pool pump.


View from the sunroom to the kitchen.

My living areas are painted Sea Salt by Sherwin-Williams, so we went with Misty in the kitchen and sunroom. It is a very light grey that looks blue depending on the light.

The changes are pretty drastic but I when I created these side-by-side before and after photos I realized how much really did change with our remodel.


Kitchen sink close-up view.


Laundry room turned into pantry.


Sunroom before and after. Floors Colli Wow Winter.


Fridge and pantry view before relocation and wall of cabinets after.


Kitchen sink view

We’ve been living with our new kitchen for about six months and I love it! The only thing I would do different is get the dishwasher that could have a cabinet panel on it because the stainless steel dishwasher is ALWAYS dirty on the front panel.

I’m happy to answer any questions about the remodel in the comments. We’ve done several other rooms in our house DIY style and I’ll be sharing those with you soon.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Dyson Hard Floor Cleaner Review

I’m hard on floor cleaners. In my first ten years of marriage I went through nine vacuums and replaced my mop several times a year. I’m not really sure why this happens to me except I really, really, really dislike dirty floors.

This problem has multiplied in magnitude now that we own the “sheds enough to make a blanket every day” dog. He’s a good dog, but oh my word does that dog shed.

But I digress. I’m hard on my floor cleaners and I expect them to give me beautiful clean floors.

Here’s a picture of my floors. Aren’t they wild? I absolutely love them, but understand if you don’t. They are definitely different.

wow winter wood look flooring


Back to keeping them clean.

When I heard about the Dyson Hard I was interested. I’ve never owned a Dyson, but everyone I know who has one RAVES about it. I mean really, these people are kind of crazy about vacuums.

When they offered to give me one to try I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Especially because the Dyson Hard claims to remove dirt and grime at the same time. So no more sweeping and mopping. And to be honestly over the past few years my mopping usually consists of my taking a paper towel, getting it wet and using my foot to clean the floor.

I’ve been using this thing every single day for over two months. Usually we use it two to three times a day, and I love it. I now understand why people rave about vacuums because this thing is awesome.

dyson hard

Here’s why I like it.

It is a vacuum for hard surfaces. Hardwood, ceramic, porcelain, and laminate the Dyson Hard can be used on all of these surfaces. It sucks up small particles of dirt and dust and… DOG HAIR!!!

What is nice about this vacuum is that you attach a cleaning pad to the bottom of the vacuum so not only does the vacuum suck up all the dirt, it also cleans the floor. So sticky juice spills, muddy spots from snow boots, slobber from the dog or the baby, marker, and sticky unidentified marks- these are all gone.

I got a demonstration in the store and it worked really well, but I figured they probably kept their floors pretty clean there so I wondered if it would really pick up the dirt and then clean the floor and not just smear the dust, dirt and dog hair on my floor in a wet gross mess.

It didn’t. Really this thing is amazing.

It is cordless and has a docking station that only took my brother-in-law a few minutes to install in my pantry. It comes with the long handle attachment for cleaning the floors and then two additional attachments for vacuuming things like couches, curtains, stairs, cars, car seats, etc. It is also compatible with the newer Dyson attachment systems.

The handheld vacuum is very powerful and lightweight enough for my kids to use to clean up their cookie crumbs out of the couch and dog hair off the stairs. (Can you tell I have a thing about dog hair?)


I also have my kids use it to “sweep” up after meals.

According to the manual the battery lasts for 15 minutes, but honestly it seems like longer. I’m able to do my kitchen, dining, and breakfast room floor without needing to recharge. It recharges pretty quickly, but honestly I’ve never had it die on a job that wasn’t finished so I’m not quite sure how long it takes to recharge.

Now, if I could make a few improvements to this product here’s what I would suggest.

  • Make the suction intake a little bigger. While this vacuum does a great job on dirt, dust, pet hair and small pieces it won’t pick up a cheerio when using the floor sweeper. If you are using the handheld attachment the intake is significantly bigger.
  • Make the pads last a little longer. While the vacuum will last for several rooms, the cleaning pad needs to be changed after one room, if the room is really dirty and sticky. Since I use it mainly for spot cleaning and vacuuming this hasn’t been an issue for me. But if your floors are regularly very sticky you will need to change the pads more often.

When I review items the one thing I always ask myself is- would I buy this item if I didn’t get it for free?

After having the Dyson for over two months I can say with certainty I would buy it. We use it several times a day and it has really made my life easier when it comes to cleaning my floors, especially in the kitchen and dining areas.

You can find out more about the Dyson Hard on their website. They are available for sale online and at your local retailers.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Small Touches for the Holidays

Christmas is my favorite time of year. It’s the only time of year I tolerate the cold and enjoy being bundled up! I absolutely love finding the perfect Christmas tree, decorating, and enjoying visits from family and friends.

I also love finding little things that make my house more inviting this time of year. Whether it be an always full cookie jar, hot chocolate ready to be served, scented soap in the bathroom, or fancier dish towels I’m always looking for ways to make this month a little more special in our home.

Did you know that smells can make your home even more inviting? I learned a few years ago that Disney World pipes in the smells of pastries and muffins in the morning and popcorn in the afternoon on Main Street! No wonder I’m always hungry when I’m there!

You can do the same, without the Disney price tag from Glade® with their scented holiday line of products. One item I particularly love this time of year is scented candles. Maybe it’s because it gets dark in the middle of the afternoon here or that I’m reminded of my childhood baking days with my dad, but I love candles that make your whole house smell fabulous!

This year Glade® has an entire holiday line available at Target, including the limited edition Sweet Holiday Treat™.

This scented candle will make your whole house smell like you’ve been baking all day! Perfect to light before holiday gatherings or to cover up the smell of someone baking all day!

Glade® also has several other holiday scents available, including

  • Glade® Apple Cinnamon Cheer TM
  • Glade® Sparkling Spruce TM
  • Glade® Pure Vanilla Joy TM
  • Glade® Frosted Berry Kiss TM

​As a child who grew up with an artificial Christmas tree, my favorite scent has always been Sparkling SpruceTM. It is a great way to get that Christmas smell without the constant battle of needles and the occasional tree falling over!

These candles are available at Target (and we all need another reason to head to Target this year, right!) You also enter to win them on the Real Simple website.

The first year we were married we didn’t have a lot of money. I made all of our Christmas ornaments because we could really afford to buy any (and we lived overseas so there wasn’t much of a selection!)

Twenty years later, we still have a few ornaments remaining from that first Christmas. Over the years I’ve learned that you don’t have to spend a lot to create a warm and inviting home.

It is the little personal touches you add that can help make your house more inviting this time of year.

Get festive this holiday season with the Glade® Limited Edition Winter Collection available exclusively at Target. Inspired by the best feelings of the season, the Glade® Sweet Holiday Treat™ scent lets you indulge in the irresistible scent of rich cocoa, toasted nuts, and creamy caramel. The 2013 Glade® Limited Edition Winter Collection was inspired by the nostalgic, spontaneous, snowy, moments that build up to the holidays. Creating memories with loved ones defines the season and the holiday lineup from Glade® is just as memorable.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glade®. The opinions and text are all mine.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.