Tag Archives: Real Simple

Fridays at Home: Well-Done Mantels

30th March 2012

Last Friday, my friend Jacob called me to go vintage shopping with him. The different shops around here know us by name, and we kind of love it. ๐Ÿ™‚ His boyfriend’s sister and her two girls were coming to stay with them all this week, so they had to spiffy up the house. They bought their house about 7 months ago, but they’ve been busy, so we needed to kick it in gear and put some finishing touches on the living room. One of the key spots: the mantel.

Putting together a mantel is no walk in the park. Next week, I’ll detail what we did to come up with the end product, but in the meantime, I just wanted to show you some pretty stuff because well, it’s pretty outside, and I wanna, that’s why!

I usually see 3 types of mantels: overdone, underdone, and holiday style. Seriously. There are tons of pictures of holiday mantels on Pinterest and the web. But really interesting mantels that make you want to look at each individual piece and wonder where it came from? Not so much. So soak up the inspiration and get ready for next week when we’ll talk about how to put together a great mantel.

Click on any of the pictures to visit the original link.

This first example via Real Simple is just about as perfect as can be. The painting is fantastic as are the two small frames and sea artifacts. But the hoop off to the left of center makes this arrangement for me. It acts almost like a magnifying glass, and I’m in love.

This image is via the blog Sweet Something Design, and I really like it as well, though the large circular mirror is wearing me out. I see it all the time, and unless it’s an antique, I prefer something with a bit more character. However, I really love the small painting and the symmetry of the candlesticks and the branches. It’s not too similar, so the interest is still there.

First of all, can we just take a minute and drool over this mantel from Real Simple? My Domino book has a similar one, and each time I see it, I want to swoon a bit. The arrangement itself is not my favorite, but I really love an obsessive collection. This is certainly a case where 3 is good but 30 are better. ๐Ÿ™‚

This little piece of heaven is from Country Living, and to me, it is just beautiful. Of course, the fresh flower thing only works if you have an English garden out back or some dough from some rich British relative (I don’t know why British, this just looks British to me).

See – this mirror has character. Of course it does. It’s from Lonny magazine. The mirror is old fashioned and has the nautical look to it with the concave mirror. The candle holders frame the mantel, and the oddities on top are interesting – tincture bottles, a small dressmaker form, a statue. It’s really quite beautiful.

This mantel is so fresh and lovely. The greenery in the vase on the right adds color but also height and a bit of messiness to the very organized, well-arranged items. Groups of three work nicely, as in the candles on the left, and that gear is just fantastic. I want one.

PS – Did you spot the lovely globe beside the chair?

This last one is from a Crate & Barrel catalogue, and I almost didn’t include it because of that. But it’s so well styled, and again, the hoops are really unexpected and beautiful. The small frames and photos tucked here and there are fantastic as well. Layering is key, as we’ll talk about next week, and this mantel does that so well.

Happy Friday, loves. What are you doing to relax this weekend? Whatever you do, keep calm and pretty up your house!


Fridays at Home

24th February 2012

Yesterday when I got in my car after class, the thermometer read 82 degrees. Ok, that’s not hot, but a week ago, we had near-freezing temps. Of course, the phrase “near freezing” in Texas means I have to wear a jacket. ๐Ÿ™‚

I always hate, though, how the temperature jumps from chilly to hot. No in between. However, I’m trying to make the best of this sunny-one-day-stormy-the-next weather, and I think today is going to be my Spring Clean day! That is, if it’s sunny. If it’s rainy, it’s prime reading time.

Plus, you guys know my obsession with Pinterest. For someone like me who did this with magazines, a binder, and colorful dividers, it’s a fantastic tool. I’ve also come across some great cleaning tips, and if you’ll click on the picture, the link takes you to Real Simple, and tons of great ideas.

*Via Real Simple

Since I have a lemon tree outside that produces enormous lemons at a rapid pace, I have definitely put pieces of lemon down the garbage disposal. Such a great scent in the kitchen.

I also love the recommendation to use newspaper for cleaning glass. My mom taught me this years ago, and it’s so immensely helpful. No streaks!

This one is just genius. In the South, we rely on fans. Even with the air blasting, sometimes the humid air needs help moving around. Fans also collect dust like crazy. When I first saw this, I thought “Ooooh. So that’s how you do that.” I always tried wiping the blades, and of course, dust would go everywhere.

Now I can’t back this one because I haven’t tried it, but as cleaning my stovetop is my absolute least favorite cleaning job, I will be trying this for sure. (I’ll let you know how it goes). Supposedly, once you get the stove clean (ha!), you wipe it down with car wax, which should help future spills come up more easily. We. Shall. See. Get ready, stove. I come armed with carnauba.

As for daily cleaning, activities, the number one thing that has helped me is having baskets strategically placed across the house. I have one by my reading chair in the bedroom where cases for DVDs I’m watching stay. The remotes go there every morning when I make my bed. There are also some Maddie toys stashed there where she can reach them. On my bookshelves, I have a separate Maddie basket for her hairbrush, leash, toys, etc. It really helps when I’m cleaning quickly to know exactly where her stuff goes. I have a small tray right by the front door where mail goes. I also have a small trash can by the front door for junk mail. We will not get into the box/basket system in my office because you would think I’m crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are some daily cleaning activities:

1. Make bed as soon as I’m out of it. Every day. Because then, at least something has been accomplished. Plus, I love my bedroom and seeing it all nice and pretty before I leave is always nice.

2. When I brush my teeth, I clean out the sink. Toothpaste is a great cleaner for the faucet. I use one hand to brush and the other to clean. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I wash my hands.

3. As I head to the kitchen to grab my protein drink and the bottled water I prepped the night before, I bring my water glass and anything else that belongs in the kitchen with me.

4. When I get home, I prep a very late lunch, and when I’m finished, I put any remaining dishes in the sink into the dishwasher. I also try to do a daily wipe of the countertops because I hate cleaning the kitchen, and it can get ugly. Fast.

5. Put on a load of laundry. I never have a ton of laundry because I do small loads every couple of days. Then while I relax for a bit, I listen for the washing machine and switch clean clothes to the dryer.

6. When I shower after the gym, I try to tidy up the bathroom. Once a week: I keep a scrub brush in the shower so if it’s getting any buildup, I can tackle it then and there. If the toilet needs cleaning, I pour some bleach or vinegar (whichever I have) and let it sit for about 15 minutes and flush away any mess.

7. Once a week: On Saturdays after the gym, I strip the bed and wash the sheet’s duvet. This is also when I do a thorough sweeping and mop. Heck, it just adds to my workout.

So…way more than you wanted to know, but that’s about what I’ll be doing this Friday at home. What are you up to this weekend?

#fridayreads take me away

24th June 2011

#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. I’d love for you to join!

What is Friday Reads/#fridayreads? Readers around the world join together in community to support one another and celebrate the simple joys of reading. Readers can win prizes for participating commenting on the Friday Reads blog, the Facebook page, or tweeting your book with the #fridayreads hashtag.

What is #fridayreadstake me away? It is a new meme for readers/bloggers. I have noticed different readers/ bloggers apologize for a certain book or phase of reading. I say, read. Period. Whether it’s a magazine you’ve saved up for Friday afternoon or evening or a mystery, romance novel, sci-fi, bodice ripper, or New York Times bestseller, Friday is about doing what we love most: reading.

How does it work?

-Figure out what your Friday Read will be

-Blog about why it’s perfect weekend reading and why you recommend it

-Grab my button and add it to your post

-Come back and add your URL to the Simply Linked URL box

-Visit participating blogs to see what they recommend

-Enjoy your weekend

What if I don’t have a blog?

Tell me what you’re reading anyway. Let me know if you need a great suggestion. I’m full of them, and I’m bossy, as are a lot of other people around these parts. ๐Ÿ™‚


#fridayreads take me away

22nd April 2011

#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. Want to know more? Read the original post where I explain why you should join in with what you read on the weekend. Want to write your own post? *Steal* my button. Have your own #fridayreads take me away post? Link up below! Happy reading.

You know, to me, the ultimate read for a Friday accomplishes two goals: a. it takes me away (thus, the meme title) and b. it requires little in the way of thought. Not that I don’t love thinking. I do. [See yesterday’s review of Galore.] However, Friday afternoon and evening I selfishly claim as “me” time. Last Friday I stuck to my guns and took my copy of Real Simple and had my pedicure. This week is Good Friday, so I will be at church with the fam in the afternoon. Plus, work is still progressing on the bookshelves, but YOU, I hope, will be reading.

So what do I recommend you read this week?

To be perfectly honest, I have an ulterior motive. I really really want you to read Leviathan. I read this and reviewed it here way back in October.

Westerfeld creates an alternative history to World War I, full of steam-powered machines and biologically-altered creatures, who assist in war. It’s steampunk – set in the Victorian era, it’s fantasy at its most believable.

Leviathan is about a young man destined for great things and a young woman prohibited from dreaming of great things because of her gender. It is also about how each goes about forging his or her own way, regardless of society. Fantastic fun.

And I really want you to read it because I plan on reading….

I am almost embarrassed to tell you how long I have been intending to read this sequel. Leviathan is a real cliffhanger, but I guess since I had to wait (all of two weeks) for Behemoth to come out, my excitement waned. However, this is a perfect book for a Friday, and I am really anxious to start it and re-enter the lives of Deryn and Alek. Plus, if you read the first, I can tell you what I think about the second, and it will be a whole thing. Ya know? So get cracking.

What are you up to this beautiful day, and what are you reading for Friday Reads? I’d love to hear all about it and check out your blog!

jenn aka the picky girl

#fridayreads take me away

15th April 2011


#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. Want to know more? Read the original post where I explain why you should join in with what you read on the weekend. Want to write your own post? *Steal* my button. Have your own #fridayreads take me away post? Link up below! Happy reading.

This will probably be a familiar theme, but until classes are over and the last grade is assigned, this picky girl is going to be a basket case. Too much to do, too little time (though look for a post next week about teaching Persepolis and what I’ve learned). I’m trying to remember that I don’t absolutely have to have grades back to students within a week (they want them the day after they’ve turned in an assignment) and that I should try and have some sort of life for the last 12 days I am 29. That’s right folks. Only one more #fridayreads take me away post before I’m the big three-oh. So, where were we? Oh yeah.

This week I’m recommending you read… (drumroll please)

M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. Any book really. I had never really read a “cozy” mystery until this past fall, but my mom really enjoys them. I picked up the first Agatha Raisin when it was cool and rainy outside and haven’t looked back. They’re light fare, that’s for sure, but who wants more than that on a Friday afternoon? Not me. Agatha is middle aged, divorced, and a bit bored. She has bought a house in Carsley, a small hamlet where the ladies, however friendly, call one another by surnames only and tea is mandatory (though often deadly). Agatha is also in the habit of poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, and too often that ends up in a hairy, hilarious situation.

The other great aspect of the Agatha Raisin series is that, unlike some series, there is really no need to read them in order. They are short, not too sweet, but definitely fun. Agatha’s antics tickle the back of the neck of this feminist, but I quickly get over it and just enjoy the ride in the lazy little town Agatha has made home.


And speaking of lazy….all I plan on reading today is this:

Isn’t that the most beautiful cover? Maybe it’s simply that I am craving all that energy the cover talks about, but when I got home from a really horrible day Thursday, this cover made me want to break into song and dance, run through the grass barefoot and drink lemonade. I need some “me” time, and I can’t promise I won’t be in a pedicure chair when I flip through this – cover to cover.

So…whaddya think? Doesn’t reading while having a pedi sound like the best kind of #fridayreads take me away? What will you be doing/reading to ease the stress of the week?

jenn aka the picky girl