Several weeks ago one of my best girlfriends invited me to a flower arranging class at Avant Garden. We both share a love of home and garden (and Ina Garten!), and so it was such a treat to have a girls night celebrating flowers. As we stepped through the golden doors and into Avant Garden’s beautiful shop, we were greeted by what they deem their Flower Bar – endless vases of fresh and fragrant blooms. Flanking the flower bar are floor to ceiling sapphire hued cabinets filled with books and luxury home decor, as well as incredible art – this store is a real treasure trove!
We made our way downstairs and after nibbling on macaroons, the class began. We learned about the importance of using clear tape to create a grid for the flowers, as well as techniques to trim stems and how keeping arrangements in the fridge at night will help them last longer. Much to everyone’s delight, we were given a “recipe” and told to choose our favorite flowers from the flower bar for our arrangements. I loved this part because at other flower arranging classes I’ve attended, we’ve had to recreate a sample arrangement, and so having the freedom to choose our own colors and flowers really let us all have fun and be creative. And everyone’s arrangements looked different – some were teeming with pinks and greens, others with yellows and oranges, and others with whites and blues. They were all absolutely stunning! I chose purple and white hydrangeas, bright pink peonies, pale pink roses, and delicate greenery to fill in – all of my favorite flowers and colors nestled into one special little pave style arrangement.
While we snipped stems and tucked flowers neatly in the vases, the class host’s played flower trivia and some of the attendees even won prizes. I had so much fun at Avant Garden’s flower arranging class, and look forward to attending another one again soon. Here are a few pictures and if you live in Dallas, try to pop into their store!
I love organizing, and often a trip to the Container Store for a single seagrass basket will turn into an hour long visit wandering the aisles. Everything is so much easier to find when its in the right place, and a clutter-free organized house brings a true sense of calmness and serenity. Color coding, woven bins, label makers – yes to all! We recently organized our pantry with clear containers and bins, and what a difference it made! I can now easily see how much almond flour we have, or if we need oatmeal or crackers, and walking into the pantry is so much more enjoyable. Now, I just need to do the rest of the house!
On my journey to learn about home organization this past year (our new house was the perfect motivator to organize), I discovered the most amazing company – The Neat Method. The Neat Method is a lifestyle service committed to providing a more luxurious and smartly appointed living space, and they are incredible at their craft. Founded by two truly talented and charming women (they are best friends too!), Molly Graves and Ashely Murphy, the Neat Method specializes in everything from organizing a cluttered closet or entire home, to coordinating relocation logistics.
The minute I learned about The Neat Method, I knew I had to interview Molly and Ashley, and learn more about their method to neatness! I know you will love them and Neat Method as much as I do, and so, here are all their tips on spring cleaning, and how to stay organized. Enjoy!
I love that you met serendipitously while shopping in SF! Tell us how you two bonded over your love for organization and created the idea for Neat Method.
Our meeting was definitely fate and the creation of NEAT Method was very much the same. We met for a cup of coffee to talk about living in our new city of San Francisco and compare notes on our favorite spots in our old city (chicago). During that time, I (Molly) told Ashley how I was formerly a kindergarten teacher and my certificate was not valid in the state of California. Then Ashley explained that as a personal trainer, she lost all of her clients when she moved across the country. When Ashley asked me what my new plan was going to be, slightly hesitant, I told her that I wanted to be a professional organizer and I had a secret love of color coding and organizing. This is one of those things that people hear and think that you are totally CRAZY, or they are the exact same way. In Ashley’s case, she was not only exactly the same, but she started an organizing business on the side of her training in Chicago. The entire sequence of events seems like the starts aligned for us, and we both really believe that they did!
Organizing an entire house can be overwhelming! Where do you start?
As organizers, we just jump right in! When it isn’t your stuff, the task seems a lot less daunting. BUT if you are trying to start organizing your own space and don’t know where to begin, we always recommed starting with items that can expire (think spices, foods and medicines). This will give you a baseline of when the last time was that you REALLY did a full clean out 😉
What are your must have/favorite organizing products? Be it clear bins, woven baskets, etc.
Are little extras like labels, color coding and drawer liners a must?
When we organize for people, ABSOLUTELY! People love a great reveal and the details are what makes the space really “shine”. We have never been a fan a drawer liners because they just create more work and make it much harder to actually clean out the inside of a drawer but drawer inserts are for sure at the top of our list! We are however, realists. We don’t expect you to keep your scarves color coded and folded in the basket in your closet – that is for a great reveal. We do believe that you should keep your scarves all in that basket moving forward so that you can always find what you are looking for. Labels keep an entire family in check. It’s a little hard to put things in the wrong place when the bin is clearly labeled :).
What tips do you give clients so they stay organized?
We recommend becoming more aware of how much you bring into your space. Start to notice every shopping bag, grocery bag, etc and you will see that you are constantly adding to your space. The best thing you can do is to always have a donate bag going so that you can easily add to it at all times in an effort to even the flow of items coming in and out.
Spring cleaning is top of mind for many right now. Any tips on how to de-clutter and organize?
We recommend starting on and easy space to transform so you become inspired to keep going! Do a makeup drawer or bedside table to get in the organizing mood!
What is the most common mistake people make when trying to organize their house?
Hands down the most common mistake is purchasing organizational solutions before you have really gotten your hands on the space. Take everything out, categorize it and then plan where everything will live. From there, it is time to buy new product. Always buy product LAST!
What’s the most popular space people ask you to organize? (Pantry, closet, etc)
Pantry and closet are really a really close tie for first. Depending on the season, it will change. During the spring, wardrobes are popluar and holidays pantries are big because people are cooking for family and guests :).
Do you have a favorite project to date?
Oh geez! Every project is special to us in it’s own way. Some of the spaces are pretty magical and some of the clients are what make the project so fun. It would be really hard to give one now that we are in cities across the US.
What are your top five tips to keep in mind when organizing?
1. Check expiration dates 2. Matching hangers makes everything look better. 3. When in doubt alphabetize and color code 4. Label label label 5. Don’t be afraid to eliminate!!
Earlier this year I battled a sinus infection, and through the sniffles and fatigue, I dreamed of brighter and healthier days. Thanks to a tried and true antibiotic and lots of hydration and rest, I made a full recovery and was back to chasing the boys and our regular routine. And thanks to having my tonsils removed last fall, it didn’t manifest into strep or tonsillitis like the many times before. Most recently spring allergies and a cold have had the best of me, and it’s had me thinking about how grateful I am for my health. We tend to take our health for granted as we go about our action packed days, but truly it’s so very important. Eating well, exercising regularly, and sleeping at least eight hours a night all contribute to our vitality, however there are a few other things we can do to boost our immune systems and recover from illness.
And so, here are my tips and I hope they help you next time you’re feeling under the weather!
Drink hot water with lemon and ginger!: Hot water with lemon and ginger is my go-to anytime I feel like I’m getting sick. Soothing and delicious, the vitamin c in the lemon and antioxidants in the ginger will help to fight off any illness and kill bacteria. This drink also helps to alleviate congestion so you can breathe easy.
Up your vitamin C: To stay healthy, try to regularly eat foods packed with Vitamin C – think crisp red pepper, sweet strawberries or juicy orange segments. And if you feel a cold coming on, up your Vitamin C intake with a supplement. It won’t always prevent the cold, but it can help lessen the duration.
Take a hot Shower: If you have congestion (nose or chest) take a hot shower. The steam will open up your nasal passages and chest and help you to breathe a bit better. If you have a fever though, stick with lukewarm showers until the fever breaks.
Eat super foods: Superfoods are nutrient dense foods filled with vitamins, minerals, friendly bacteria and antioxidants that nourish our bodies and help strengthen our immune system. Some delicious and nutritious superfoods to add to your diet include spinach, oats, citrus, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and berries.
Rest: You know that feeling when you are a bit rundown and on the verge of getting sick? That is your body telling you need rest! Whether you’re getting sick or are sick and trying to recover, get in bed (if you can!) or relax on the sofa and nap, watch a great movie, or read a book. Try to go to sleep early too!
Gargle with saltwater: If you have a sore throat, try gargling with a warm glass of saltwater. The saltwater draws out fluids from the infected throat, and can provide relief. To make the rinse, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz cup of warm water. Gargle at 3 to 4 times a day.
Use a humidifier: A humidifier can soothe your sinuses and airways and help you to breather easier if you have a congestion or an upper respiratory infection. We use a cool mist humidifier in the boy’s rooms anytime they have a cold, and it really helps. Just be sure to clean it often!
Hydrate: Sick or not, it’s vital to stay hydrated and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Clear/moisturize your sinuses: I love Simply Saline and often use it year round, especially when I’m sick or if my allergies are bothersome. If you have a cold and congestion or even dryness in your nose, try a little simply saline spray to moisturize your nasal passages and flush out any allergens.
Take probiotics: I’m a big believer in probiotics, and taking them to prevent illness as well as when you are sick to recover faster. Probiotics help to balance the friendly bacteria in your gut, and can even help with digestive issues and allergies. You can find them in fermented foods such as yogurt, or take them in capsule form.