Ahhh…March. We’ve had some warm weather, finally, though there are still spots (like my front yard), that are still snow-covered. Today I have actually had the windows open a bit, and the sun is shining! It won’t last too long, since Mother Nature can be cranky this time of year. A cold front with possible snow is headed our way, but even if we get snow now, we know that soon we will be outside and warm – planting, gardening, and grilling! Before the weather gets toasty, it’s a good time for some spring sprucin’!
Every February and March, it seems the cold here drags on, but this year it has seemed especially long. I can’t wait to get in the garden and give everything a good cleanout. I’m always amazed, though, at how tough nature can be, and how plants that survive after winter injury can come back the following season as pretty as ever!
We’ve seen the signs of spring coming, with pink skies at sunset and melting snow, but it isn’t quite “stay outside all day” weather just yet.
Before the season changes, we’ve been crossing off from our “need to do” list: things like getting old lamps rewired, replacing broken appliances, organizing storage and closets, and repairing things that just need attention from normal wear and tear. We didn’t design our house, but like that it’s not a “typical” layout. I especially love being in my kitchen. While I’m a “place for everything, and everything in its place” kind of girl, I am NOT a minimalist. Long before Pinterest existed, with it’s wonderful pictures of kitchens decked out in 40’s and 50’s goodies, my kitchen style was “vintage/retro”. My kitchen was “modern” in 1995, with the cooktop on the island and the half wall looking over the family room. We aren’t going to do a major remodel, but one thing that’s bugged us is the overhead lighting in the soffit above the island. For over twenty years, it has housed now-outdated flourescent lighting. The lights aren’t bright, the bulbs are expensive and hard to replace, and they (frequently) burn out. The soffit housed four fluorescent, long bulbs in two sizes. One end eventually burned out completely, and even with a new bulb it didn’t work. We removed them completely and added an outlet in the soffit. We then added a strand of remote-controlled LED strip lights. They come in various sizes; ours cost less than $20. Bright and cheerful, they remind me of lights in old fifties diners. Imagine green lights for St. Patrick’s Day, or red for Christmas! For everyday, I like the turquoise to compliment my retro aqua walls.
So easy to use, we’ve also put LED strip lights around the perimeter of our vintage camper awning at camper rallies in the past. I can’t wait to again open and spruce up Gidget – a few more weeks!
While we like that the layout of our home is not cookie cutter, sometimes I wonder what they were thinking when they designed the closets. There are two closets in the master bedroom. My husband can barely fit his clothes and shoes in the smaller, square closet. I got the larger of the two – a strange, smaller than normal “walk-in”. In 1998, on a trip to Denmark, we visited Kronborg castle. The castle’s roots start as far back as the 1420’s, complete with a creepy, dark dungeon. Since then, my closet has always reminded me of that space!
I’m a “collector”, but I like my surroundings neat and tidy with things in their places. However, when it came to our closets, I was starting to dread putting laundry away. When I get new clothes, I don’t get rid of the old ones. Just because something can still fit, doesn’t mean we should wear it! We do tend to have larger wardrobes in New England because we have four distinct seasons, but I’d save old clothes too long, thinking, “I can wear this to workout/clean house/garden in”, for example. I had also saved outdated clothes because they were still wearable, but after 25 years, I had clothes older than my daughter, or dating back to my twenties (and I am turning 49 at the end of the month). I got rid of old shoes or anything faded, pilling, stained or that could not be repaired. Uncomfortable? Out it went. If it no longer fit, or just wasn’t “me” – goodbye. Now I can see what I have, and made a list of what I needed. I threw out what couldn’t be used, repaired, or repurposed, and donated the rest. The amount of time I save when putting up laundry or getting dressed is worth the time spent organizing everything. Cleaning out closets is good for the soul!
Spring cleaning is a good time to replace things for lighter formulas and colors. Cosmetics can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Washing brushes with a little mild shampoo and letting them air dry can ward against breakouts, especially important with mask wearing. Replace mascara every four to six weeks, and any cosmetics that smell “off” or are past the expiration (many creams and cosmetics last eighteen months). My favorite lipstick is Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick in “San Francisco”, a perfect go-with-everything peachy pink with a hint of shimmer.
Now’s the time to start feeding houseplants and shaping those that need a little pruning before putting outside for summer. A little vermicompost on top of the soil of potted plants gives them an added health boost. Bags of worm castings are now easily found online or in garden stores, or make your own indoor worm bin. Your plants will thank you!
I also cleaned out my seed box for the coming season. Seeds can be used after the date stamped. Some seeds are viable up to five years, but only if stored properly. To test if your seeds are still usable, put some seeds between damp paper towels, then inside a plastic bag. Ten is a good number, so a percentage of good seeds can easily be calculated. Viable seeds will sprout within a maximum of a few weeks. Drop larger seeds like peas in water; if they float they are good. Store seeds in paper envelopes between seasons; plastic can make seeds sweat and mildew.
Outside, it’s mud season here now. My yard is like a soggy sponge when we walk on it, with sticks and twigs from winter storms. However, it’s a smart idea to check for burn bans in your area before you start any fires!
We recently drove through a brush fire on a back road to a neighboring town. It was a warm and windy day, and the smoke was terrible! Firefighters and police were on the scene, but seeing how fast it was spreading was frightening! The ground was still wet from snow melting, but it didn’t stop the dried brush, dead trees and leaves from flaming up. Outdoor brush clean up will need to wait a bit longer; our days have been pretty windy here!
My daughter and I recently spruced up her pet albino corn snake’s enclosure. Noodle got a bigger aquarium (snakes prefer length over height in enclosures). Chipped aspen is a comfortable substrate, and he loves the silk plants! Pet stores charge up to $15 for faux greenery, but we added more color for just $1.00 from our local dollar store. We repurposed a treadle sewing machine as a stand. I never thought I would like a snake, but after having Noodle, I can say I do not dislike snakes.
I’ve spruced up and cleaned out several cabinets and our storage closet. Kids get older, our tastes change, and sometimes we just need to neaten our space. Decor is what makes a house a home, but clutter can be stifling. Have you heard of the Buy-Nothing Project? When decluttering, you can give usable items away to others in your community. In our town, there are two “Buy Nothing” groups on Facebook. “Gifts” are posted, as are “wishes”. Most participants use a plastic bin with a lid for their gift recipients to pick up items from. Nothing is better than hearing back from someone who is so excited to get an item that you no longer could use or wanted to pass on for someone else to enjoy. It was really fun to hear that something I passed on to someone else made her so happy, and coincidentally, on her birthday, to boot!
I’ve got a lot on my plate this season. Taking a breather and sprucing up here and there gives me an energy boost, without feeling overwhelmed. There’s an old Danish saying, that can be applied to any situation that might be overwhelming: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Hope everyone has a good rest of the month of March! Remember to leave a comment so I know you dropped by!
Until Next Time… Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Great post. I should be more active on my own but for now I am enjoying others. Yep, ready for spring to arrive down south, here at The Poor House Ranch. I am trying to be patient so I think I will go clean out my closet. Hugs.
Hi Daizy, I hear ya! We just learned today that more snow and ice are on par for Friday. Enough already, Mother Nature! I am looking forward to some warm weather. This is the month I get really homesick for my southern roots! Happy Sprucing; thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Nicole, thanks so much for your refreshing post! I have also spent the winter doing necessary work…sorting and organizing and digging into storage. I love your retro dress. My 20 year-old granddaughter is into retro clothing and I have had fun buying her some dresses. They look so cute on her and bring back memories of my mother’s clothes from the 40’s. Happy Spring and blessings to you.
Hi Deanna, thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed today’s post. I love that your granddaughter is into retro! I think I started my love for retro clothing around her age, a few years younger – Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink was my first inspiration, as was my grandmother, who once gave me a dress she had sewn in the 40s. I wish I still had it! Happy Spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Your LED light strips are a great idea. Fun changing colors! I need to declutter for sure…you’ve inspired me. Happy March…flock of robins in the yard yesterday. There is hope spring is on the way! Be well.
Hi Judy, thank you! I owe the LED strip idea to my husband; he came up with it. We just love how it turned out. Today it is green for St. Patrick’s Day.
My daughter and I got so excited on Monday because we saw our first flock of robins in a field on our way home! We are getting snow and ice on Friday, but they say by the afternoon it will be gone. Next week is supposed to be really spring-like…fingers crossed! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I have to commend you on your spring cleaning. I am in the process of doing that as well. It’s like going shopping in my closet which I love, but there are a lot of things for me to donate. The Buy-nothing project is fabulous. What a terrific community plan! This might be something our neighborhood could institute. Before I sign off, I have to mention your kitchen. What is not to love about your kitchen. It is so unique and interesting. Thank you for sharing the pictures and ideas with us. Take care, Candy
Hi Candace, You are so right about “shopping” in one’s closet. I am now putting together pieces I would not have thought of before, because now it is so much more organized.
Isn’t the Buy Nothing Project great? I think the ladies who started it were genius.
Thank you for the compliment on my kitchen. It is a happy part of our home, and my favorite place to be.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy Spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Noodle is such a great name. Like the new lights. Can’t wait for it to be Spring!
Hi Heidi! Isn’t that a cute name? Audrey came up with it. We can’t wait for spring, either! We all have a had too long a winter this year. Welcome spring and all things green! Thanks for reading and commenting, my dear farmgirl friend. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I really enjoyed your blog, I read it from start to finish. It has given me inspiration to clean out my kitchen cupboards. Thank you. I hope to hear from you again. Linda
Hi Linda, thank you so much! Yesterday, we tackled organizing our chest freezer. It was something I was putting off, but so glad we did so that we do not waste food or buy meat we do not need to buy yet. Thanks for reading and commenting! Happy organizing! Put on some good music and the time will fly by. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Enjoyed the ‘looking for Spring’ talk! And seeing your treadle and white sewing machine! I love vintage machines and irons!
Hi Cheryl, thank you so much! I love vintage sewing machines so much. They have such charm! Happy Spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Hey Nicole! I always love reading your blog. Just a thought: While I know someone would benefit from your clothes, have you thought of cutting them up and making some little keepsakes which would provide family and friends with memories of you for years to come? I picture Audrey presenting her grandchildren with little pincushions that you made using pieces from your vintage style dresses. I can picture their tears of joy, can’t you?
Hi Marietta, I love the pincushion idea! I do cut up and reuse fabric from clothing when I can. I have used my husband’s white workshirts to line masks when his shirts wear out, and have always kept buttons. I don’t know if you read my blog a few months ago about my dear, dear friend who passed from cancer. She had bears and pillows made from her favorite pajamas. She sent one to me and a heart pillow to Audrey on her birthday, her first birthday in Heaven (she had a friend make them and send them out after her passing). My bear means so much to me, and when I have a bad day, I have given it a hug. The pincushion idea is adorable – can’t you picture them in old china teacups? Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
You’re little shamrock sewing machine doilie is absolutely adorable. I love little touches in a house like that, almost like little surprises when you stumble on them. They make a space and a home ultimately personalized
Hi April, thank you! My friend, Marietta O’Brien hand makes them. She makes the most beautiful spool pin doilies! My favorites are her pansies – so much detail. She also makes hearts and snowflakes. Let me know if you want one – I can send you her info. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I would, but unfortunately I don’t sew…(wish I had that skill, just haven’t learned. Yet. 😉
We just had a blizzard and have 4 feet of snow on the ground. It has inspired me to do absolutely nothing. But I’ll do something – eventually. Cleaning would be a good place to start – eventually. The teacher who gave pet snakes must be an interesting person.
Hi Marlene, Oh my! Four feet! Hopefully Jack Frost leaves us all soon.
The teacher with the snakes is very interesting. He was one of my daughter’s favorites. Wonderful teacher. She had some of the best teachers in our schools, and one is now a close family friend; we have been friends for years now. Teachers are very important people to kids. Hats off to them. Although, I don’t think the school bus driver appreciated all the snakes in tupperware containers coming home with all the kids on the bus that day…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I love your blog. I too take the early months of the year to clean out cabinets, closets, etc. for a fresh start. We currently have old rope lighting above our cabinets in the kitchen that need to be replaced. Your LED strip lighting looks like a good option. Looking forward to your next post and Happy Almost Spring!
Hi Sally, thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoy “visiting” with me. I bet the LED lights would work for you, too. I am so happy how mine turned out. Happy spring sprucing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
My husband and I finally went through the deep freezer. We found more gallon bags of berries and grapes than I thought I had packed away. Last month I used the Squeezo strainer, and the Victorio with its grape-seed spiral in the strainer, to make the base and then the work began. Eric pitched in and we made mixed berry jam (raspberries, elderberries, mulberries, & blackberries) and loads of Niagara grape jam. When we were done we had made 77 jars and have started to gift some of them out. They do taste so good and fresh! We did have trouble finding lids and more jars as many folks are doing the same. Now we are set for a few years! Ellen in Ohio
Hi Ellen, oh your jam sounds so good my mouth is watering! Hubby and I went through OUR chest freezer yesterday. We organized it so that the oldest meat is on top. I used a small magnetic dry erase board and we made a tally of what we have so we don’t buy more of what we don’t need. It is funny you mention that you could not find lids. I have had a terrible time finding any jars or lids here, too. Strange times. Happy canning, thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
YAY! Spring! Pretty China dishes, & seeing your treadle sewing machine! (I live in NE Ohio, near Amish communities, and they still use treadle sewing machines!)
Hi Barb, today we learned that Friday will bring more wintry weather (snow) but that next week should be brighter and warmer! I can’t wait! I love treadle machines, too. We used to live in Pennsylvania, not far from Lancaster. I have a beautiful but simple quilt I bought from an Amish farm. They were the nicest people, and all of their quilts were made on treadles. I think that is just the neatest thing. Thanks for visiting me…how is the weather in Ohio? Hopefully spring is on its way to you, too! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Nicole, I feel like I have been right there with you cleaning out closets & cabinets. We are downsizing from a 2,800 sq. ft. house to a smaller one in the next few months. There is so much that has to go, but it has been fun remembering all the things we have come across & making sure someone else will enjoy it. I live in the upper mountains of NC near the Tennessee and Virginia state lines. We have had a few snows that lasted a few days. Now we are in the rainy days & then we dry out. Then it rains & it dries out again and again. But things are beginning to green up a little. We can’t wait to be able to get out in the yard again. Your blogs are great! Looking forward to your next one. Joan P.
Sounds like you have had some crazy winter weather, as well. When things start to green, it is such a welcome sign. I agree, it IS fun to go through closets and cabinets. Good luck with your move, and thank you for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Last year at this time I’d gone through all our closets, craft cabinets and storage spaces. This year? Nothing! I’m hoping with warmer weather, the need to tidy will sprout!
I love your lights! I added a few strips around the picket fence in my breezeway that surrounds the basement stairs. Such a quick an easy way to add warmth to a room.
I hope Spring truly is right around the corner for ALL of us!
Hi Laura, Thank you! I hear ya – some years I have more motivation to clean out things than others. I bet your lights look awesome on the picket fence. They are a great invention, don’t you think? Happy Spring! Today is cold, cold, cold but next week looks better for us! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I really enjoyed reading your post and I Love your kitchen.
Spring cleaning is so refreshing especially when we can get rid of stuff that we don’t need anymore.. empty spaces to put new things.
I’m like your hubby though “ snakes “ are not something I would want to keep…I usually run whenever I see one but it has a great name.
Hi Nancy, thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t like ALL snakes; growing up in Texas I was scared of all the poisonous ones. Snakes do serve a purpose, though. I guess I just don’t like the ones I don’t know are there, lol. Funny story: two years ago my husband was mowing the yard on his lawn tractor. All of a sudden I heard screaming. I ran, thinking he fell off the tractor or something. He was fine, just pale as a ghost. In the yard, just mere feet from where he was, was the biggest rat snake I have ever seen in Connecticut. It was dead, but looked like it was ready to strike, from its position on the lawn. It had FALLEN from the SKY! A red-tailed hawk had dropped its lunch, and it almost landed on my husband! It took him awhile before he finished the lawn after that! I like Noodle because he is very docile and small – and won’t get any bigger, lol! Anyway, thanks again for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
It seems every one is cleaning out items no longer needed. The photos are lovely.
Hi Marilyn, thank you! Being home so much, I guess it makes us see clutter we didn’t before, lol. Organizing and cleaning is also one of my favorite stress-busters. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I’m back to reading the Farmgirl blogs, starting with yours. My father was a…a place for everything and everything in its place person and I take after him…maybe not quite as strict as him lol. Your read was so refreshing. This is the first year in quite a few that my health has let me get a head start on spring cleaning and weeding out THINGS. We still have plenty of snow and with the warmer days we still have some single digit temps at night and cooler days. I always have a bag started with things headed to Goodwill. I keep adding to it until the next trip (two hours away) to deposit it. Did this teacher find out if it was ok for the kids to bring the snakes home? If I was that bus driver I would of went on strike xxxx
Hi Colleen, First off thank you so very much for reading and commenting! Secondly, may you continue with improved health! The temps here have been so cold, too, but next week they say we may get warm weather. We dodged three inches of snow today that was supposed to happen but never came, thankfully.
As for the teacher, he is a wonderful teacher, but was young and no, did not ask first about sending home snakes. He was told he could no longer have them in school when, that same year, one escaped and was later found down in the school office, lol! I still can’t believe the bus driver let the kids all go home with tupperwares full of snakes! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Just want to say that I always enjoy your blogs and appreciate the new ideas they inspire in me! Thanks so much!
Hi Andrea, thank you so very much! That means a lot to me. Thank you for reading and commenting, and have a Happy Spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Always such fun to stop by…had to stop and say the vintage dress is adorable, the remote LED lights do give a great diner vibe, and love your new bio picture with the telephone! Fun to visit on a chilly day in Ohio…we had snow earlier this morning. Heartland Farmgirl…Mary
Hi Mary, Thank you so much! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole