Nicole’s Favourite Things: Spring Cleaning Edition

I just walked the dog without gloves on, this morning I had to put sunglasses on for my drive home from the yoga shala at 6:35 am, and there are buds on the trees, people. Buds. It’s spring!

It’s also supposed to snow this weekend, which is another sign of spring in the city, albeit a less pleasant one.

Let’s circle back. Spring! Which leads us to spring cleaning. My mother used to do massive spring cleaning every year: washing walls and windows, shampooing carpets, the whole thing. My mother-in-law told me once that HER mother-in-law used to wash walls monthly. In the kindest way, she said “That’s just too much. Once every three or four months is sufficient.” I know she was trying to put me at ease, so I didn’t reply that I never wash walls unless they are to be painted immediately, and often not even then. But I do a kind of spring cleaning: purging closets – although mine is still in “Lululemon avalanche mode” even after a major purge, which indicates that I probably have too many clothes – cleaning cupboards, throwing out expired medicine and sunscreen. This year I had to do even more than that because of the receipt of my new downstairs fridge and freezer.


My pantry shelves AFTER the grand purging and reorganization. This would be a much more dramatic photo if I had thought to take a before photo.


My new fridge and freezer! I love them. I can grocery shop and not have to tearfully shove produce around. Also, I can have cold beer AND food at the same time!


Nicole’s Favourite Things: Spring Cleaning Edition

Is it weird to have a Favourite Things dedicated to spring cleaning? I don’t actually mind cleaning; it’s not like I’m vacuuming in my pearls and heels or anything, but I find it satisfying to have a clean, tidy house. And there’s something nice about switching flannel sheets for regular cotton ones, and taking the extra blankets off the beds, and putting the winter gear away even if it’s going to snow this weekend and we need to take it back out.

Donate and Recycle

Enough about the potential snow. Isn’t it rewarding to clear out boxes and bags of old toys, books, and clothing? There’s always someone who can use them. If you’re like me, though, you can go through the purge with no issues but then forget to drop off the donations, instead leaving them in a giant pile at the bottom of your stairs. And by “your” I mean “my”. Luckily, if you’re in Calgary, there are a number of agencies that do regular pickups: I often donate my items to the Diabetes Association or the Alberta Association for Community Living.


I’m 95% of the way there!


This weekend the guys and I did a lot of raking and garden clean up. To me, this is the most satisfying thing about spring, cleaning up piles of dead leaves and plants, and noting the tenacious little sprigs of green underneath. Some people swear by doing this in the fall, but I find that insufficient plant cover leads to dead plants in the spring, and so this is what part of my yard looked like, pre-clean-up.


This is now the view from my kitchen window.


You’ll have to trust me on this: it looks better and greener. It’s all relative. Note that my windows really need cleaning, which leads us to…

White Vinegar

Vinegar is my favourite. I use vinegars in cooking, but white vinegar is the best, and cheapest, cleaning product out there. My friend Dawn wrote this list over at Yummy Mummy Club, and I agree with it all, and more. I use vinegar and water to clean the hardwood, the bathroom floor, windows, kitchen appliances, shower doors, and cupboards. Once in a while I heat up a cup or two of vinegar in the microwave, and add a drop of dish detergent to it, and it cleans away all soap scum. You can also use it in place of bleach to shine your sink, a la the Fly Lady. Just don’t go overboard shining your sink, like Hannah did. It can only lead to madness in the end.


See how clean the shower doors are?


The sink, the mirror, JUST NOT THE GRANITE. Do not use vinegar on granite! Also please ignore the burned out lightbulb.


Vinegar works on tiles too.

Hair and Beauty

I know a lot of people who wash their hair with apple cider vinegar and swear by it. Well, I’ve never tried that, but I have put coconut oil on my dry, processed ends and it works a dream. Of course, you need to really shampoo it out afterwards. I am currently in love with Herbal Essences Bye-Bye Breakage, because my hair is pretty breakage prone (see also: dry and processed). It smells a lot like that shampoo from the 70s, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, which is probably why I like it so much. I like to use it and then ask my husband if my hair smells terrific. He does not understand the reference. Usually he just nods. It’s fun living with me!

Further to turning 39 and being on the slow boat to 40, I bought myself Olay Total Effects Foaming Face Cleanser and I have to say, after two days of using it, I do feel like I have “glowing, younger looking skin”. Generally I’m slightly skittish about buying new face products but I think this one is a winner!

Internal Cleansing

I’m not talking about clearing your mind and Ommmmm Shanti, although that’s a good idea. I’m talking about digestive cleansing. Don’t worry! I’m not going to suggest seasonal colonics or anything gross like that. As I mentioned before, I was having trouble buttoning my jeans after my hedonistic vacation alcohol and chip consumption. Since I’ve been home, though, I’ve been having a green smoothie every day for lunch, and voila! Pants are now button-able. I’m also trying my hand at juicing these days, which is very fun and tasty, although the juice I made today – featuring an excessive amount of Swiss chard – tasted exactly like 1970s-style health food. Back to the drawing board and stay tuned! Excellent, non-grass-tasting juice recipes are coming soon to a blog near you!

Wow, was this the most boring, housewifey post I’ve ever written? Possibly. Let’s make things a bit more interesting, how about a giveaway? Leave a comment and let me know if you spring clean, or if you like smoothies or juice, or, well, whatever. Just say hi! Giveaway closes April 30. Prize to be determined! Maybe a 4L jug of white vinegar! I kid. It will be much less functional and practical than that!


  1. happy geek says

    When I was home every day I did a Spring cleaning. Now I do it in the summer when I am off. This week off I am playing board games with my kids and napping occasionally. Because of the NEVER ENDING COLD.
    I do like a good smoothie. With some of the three pounds of baby kale that hubs brought home. The non-kale eating husband. But that is another story. 🙂

  2. Those are some mighty shiny shower doors, MacPherson! (I’m not sure exactly what I was going for there, but I don’t think I achieved it). I love cleaning and purging when I do it, but it takes a lot for me to get in that groove. It’s so satisfying, though – a few weeks ago I finally got the coffee table by the living room window cleared of crap that had been there since Christmas, and the table behind the sofa that has all the homework and school stuff on it. That was all I did, and my friend walked in for dinner the next Saturday and said “why is your house so clean?” Set the bar low, that’s my philosophy. Now, off to see how much vinegar I have. Kisses!

  3. Melody Baker says

    OMG YAWN. Can we please change the subject?
    For instance we could discuss whether I should buy a pair of shoes with Lucite heels. Tom thinks that sounds porn star-ish. But look!
    The giveaway better not be vinegar.

  4. Aha! I wondered where I learned the MAKE THE VINEGAR HOT trick, from your blog!

    Yes, love spring cleaning but usually because it is the transition between teaching and marking. A good use of time while procrastinating 🙂

    This year, not so much. The horrible sad day last week wrung me out followed by sick sick sick kidlets on their first doses of antibiotics while I am a horrible mom for trying to now work while they are home contagious.

    Don’t know when “spring” cleaning might happen this year, late June, maybe?

    Thanks for the chuckle in the meantime, envy your upright freezer since there is no room in my basement for that!

  5. I have an unnatural (according to my husband and kids) love of purging stuff. Because no one else in my family shares this love, I have to wait until a day when I’m home without the kids and then I tackle their closets and drawers and purge like crazy. I purge my closets and drawers twice a year: when I take out all of my winter crap and when I put it away for summer crap. My best friend has me come over when she needs to clean out her closets just so I can repeat the mantra “have you worn it in the last year or two? No? Give it away!” If I could make a decent living purging stuff I’d do it in a heartbeat. I may have an issue….

  6. Spoken like a true Canadian. There is a point in the “spring” season where I give up on layers and demand that spring offers us some warm weather. She’s a fickle bitch eh?
    Since we are in the midst of kitchen renos gone wrong, I’ve been purging like crazy. It feels good to let go of the ugly towels that my mother in law crocheted.
    I went to a witch doctor yesterday (ok he was a holistic guy) and he mentioned doing an internal cleanse too and then taking vitamins for my hair loss. He said that you had to clean the pipes before you fill em up again.
    I’m considering it. Makes sense.
    Speaking of vinegar, did you know that Americans’ find us weird for putting it on fries?

  7. I will take repainting walls over washing them any day. And I did not know you could use vinegar and water on hardwood. (You do not have to mail a prize all the way to PA; I just wanted to chime in.)

  8. No special spring cleaning here, but I do need to clean out some of the kids’ drawers if I ever want to close them again, especially now that we need both warm and cold weather clothes accessible at once.

  9. I really only feel like cleaning when it’s two days before my period. AND NOW YOU KNOW.

    I think the smartest thing we ever did was put that plastic-wrap stuff on our windows this winter (sorry, west coast.. “winter”) to keep the drafts out because the other day we took the plastic-wrap stuff OFF our windows and there is way more light now, also the windows are clean because they were protected by plastic-wrap stuff. OK it was ugly but my husband has lost some weight so he’s cold all the time and well it’s over now. The plastic stuff. Till next year, I suspect.

    I so desperately want a big freezer. So tired of weeping when I put groceries away and walking past all the giant bags of frozen fruit at Costco.

  10. I spring clean grudgingly but nowhere nearly as intensely as my mom. I do the windows,wash the curtains and vacuum behind furniture. I also do the purge and pull out summer clothes and pack away winter stuff. Ok did I win? I want that vinegar loll


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