Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our First Giveaway Winner

Middle Class Modern's first ever giveaway ended tonight at 7 EDT. Whose the winner of the collection of Malco Products, including Jubilee, Zud, and Twinkle?

Using the lucky number was commenter number 7...

True Random Number Generator  7Powered by RANDOM.ORG
...Relia Mazing! Who says she always needs more cleaning products.

Thanks to Malco for sponsoring the giveaway, and thanks to all of you whom entered.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Get Organized For Spring

This isn't a spring cleaning post (although one is probably in the offing!). This more a list of things you need to do now, while winter is still hanging over all of our heads, so you can really enjoy the warm weather that's just around the corner!

Photo From How Stuff Works

1. Clean Our Your Air Conditioner

Few things are worse than waiting to turn your a/c on until you really need it (I'm one of those people who puts it off as long as possible) and then it not actually turning on! And naturally this happened to multiple other people, so the HVAC repair people can't get out to you immediately...

Improve your odds by following these simple instructions on cleaning your window unit or central air system. Yeah, they need cleaning. Then give them a test run so you can make sure everything is ready to go!

Photo From All Natural Store

2. Find A Farmer's Market

I'm a huge farmer's market booster. During the summer season I usually go at least once a week. The vegetables are, naturally, out of this world but you can also buy local honey, meat, eggs (and even meet the chicken who laid them!), prepared food,'s amazing! Use this link to find your local farmer's market.

Photo From My Lot

3. Get Your Clothes Ready

Our master bedroom boasts of one fairly small closet and one chest of drawers. So we rotate our clothes in and out, using the larger closet in the spare room to store our out of season clothes. Right now our summer stuff is in there but over the next few weeks I'll start moving sweaters and sweats into the closet and pulling our summer wear back into our bedroom

This is also a good time to go through your clothes and decide what you need. J and I both need flip flops and summer shoes. I'm digging these Hogan turquoise striped canvas thong sandals although they are WAY out of my price range.

Here's a great link with ideas for organizing out of season clothing.

4. Set Up Your Outdoor Space

Photo From 1927 Countryside

We've lived here two years and we still don't have a good space outdoors for hanging out. I'm currently digging these benches made from pallets. We have a small deck, but these would provide a LOT of seating and we could pop a small circular table like this into the space for dining.

Speaking of dining, we don't have a grill! Crazy! We are SO getting one this summer. I'm not sure if it'll be a simple charcoal grill or a fancy gas grill with side burners, but I LOVE grilling out and it is past time we created an outdoor cooking space.

Emily pondering how much she hates flea meds.

5. Get Your Pets Ready

First, lets talk flea meds. I'm so conflicted about them. I don't like the idea of these chemicals coursing through Emily's body (we haven't used them yet on Nola, but given her health issues I'm even more leery of using them on her). I don't know if you've ever gotten any of the meds on your hand, but as soon as it hits your skin you get the WORST taste in your mouth. Gross.

However. Where we live is over run with fleas (maybe because we live by the lake?). All the neighbors battle them, too. And the more natural remedies we've pursued, and even giving Emily a weekly flea bath, doesn't work during summer. So we do all the prevention stuff but if we see a flea we break out the big guns for a couple of months.

If you are planning a summer vacation that includes the pets or includes them boarding somewhere while you are gone, remember to make get copies of their medical records from their vet and make sure they are up to date on their rabies and kennel cough vaccines.

Cavalier Motel, Outerbanks

6. Plan some summer fun!

We haven't been anywhere together in FOREVER. I'm busily pinning all sorts of ideas so we can plan a little getaway. Some of my favorites? Figure out a driving route that includes all major landmarks, a list of all factory tours by state (J would love this!), and I love the idea of this website where you plug in your start and ending places and it fills in all the cool stuff you could do along the way.

I love the beach, and I love vintage-y places (J interprets this as "Tracie loves to stay in places that makes me think of the Bates Motel") and I think the Cavalier looks AWESOME.

7. How Old ARE Your Sneakers?

My current sneakers are ancient. And I don't know if I've ever mentioned this on the blog, but I have scoliosis (former Boston Brace wearers, represent!), crazy flat feet, and overpronate like CRAZY. Ergo, I'm incredibly hard on my shoes.

I've heard good things about running shoes with metal springs. I KILL the cushioning in my sneakers, and these are supposedly very durable, along with providing lots of shock absorption (which I need). I'm planning on ordering some soon.

This is a good time to think about getting new running shoes, because hopefully we are all about to be more active as warm weather hits.

Affiliate links are included in this post.

What steps are y'all taking to get ready for spring?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Day In The Life

Last Tuesday I kept running notes about my day. Welcome to my world, everyone. Updates are in italics.

5:00 AM: Once or twice a month J has to go in for labs. These appointments are always soul crushingly early. Sometimes they are quick appointments; sometimes they last for HOURS. Luckily, today should be a quick appointment. Also, I'm just the driver so I get to go in my pajamas. #TheresAlwaysASilverLining

Unluckily, I didn't go to bed until 11 and J had a hard night. I should've slept on the sofa, because I think I got maybe three hours of uninterrupted sleep. Where's the coffee?

6:00 AM: Emily and I are hanging out in the car, waiting on J. I'm using the time to get a jump start on my day- going through my inboxes, proofreading today's post one last time, approving and responding to a couple of comments (the pedipaws post was rather controversial!).

6:30-8:00 AM: Time to get ready! First I head off to the kitchen and throw together the ingredients for chicken and lentil stew.  I know I won't have time to make dinner later, and I'm hoping it'll be ready for me to pack some up and take it for lunch. And I don't like to leave J without anything to eat.

Afterwards I grab a shower and quickly get dressed. So quickly I put my heel through the hem of my slacks. I have enough time to quickly hem it back and run into the spare room to press the hem.

There's a slight problem.

Where the *?!!??!!!((***!!! is the ironing board cover? Where? I very vaguely remember taking the cover off for some reason but I can't remember what that reason was OR where I placed said cover. I toss a folded beach towel on the board cursing myself the whole time. (Five days later and I STILL don't know what I did with the cover!)

Kiss J and the furries good-bye, head out the door.

8:00-9:00 AM: Commuting. Someone remind me why we moved so far out? The sun is out, the traffic is slow moving, and I feeeel the lack of sleep. Also, I realize halfway to Atlanta that the lunch I carefully packed? I left sitting on the kitchen counter. Awesome.

9:00-2:00: Although I usually do my freelance work from home, occasionally I venture forth to a client's office. This is one of those days. Luckily? I love these clients! And although they have a lot of things that need addressing, they make time to take me to lunch. I love going out to lunch. I especially love Mediterranean sandwich shops (I have a lamb shawarma. So delicious!)

Photo From Ever New Recipes

They have a huge project they need done YESTERDAY, so when I leave I know that they alone are going to keep me very busy this week, since they need it finished by Friday...

As I'm putting my stuff back in the trunk, I spy the box of recycling that's been chilling back there since Sunday. Whoops. (Update: Five days later I finally managed to drop the recycling off. This occured because of my embarrassment as I edited this post.)

2:00: As I'm walking back to my car I get a text from J. There's a problem with one of his prescriptions. I call the drug store. They tell me they didn't receive the refill authorization. I call the doctor's office. I very clearly remember speaking to the office IN PERSON about this refill. They remember it, too. The problem? It's what the problem ALWAYS IS.

Doctors' office apparently no longer call in refills. They use a service that faxes them into the pharmacy.

Faxes. Them. In.

Has there ever, in the history of technology, been a piece of equipment that works the way its supposed to as RARELY as the fax machine? And why in the $%%^^&&*^%$#@$ are we still using this god-awful dinosaur in 2013? FAX MACHINES SUCK.

Honestly, my most feared phrase in the English language? "I'll just/can you fax this." AHH!!!!!! Let's just accept the eighties are over and scan/email these documents like the adults we are! When something goes awry with an email, there's a trail! There's the initial email! Faxes are akin to sending needed information in a bottle and tossing it into the ocean! Who knows when it will finally show up!

The issue doesn't get resolved, but the pharmacy loans us two days worth while this issue is resolved. (Update: It was, indeed, the fax machines fault.)

3:00-3:40: I'm home! Emily and Nola are happy. J thanks me for dealing with the refill snafu. I check in on the blog, go through my blog and business emails, change clothes, and head out to my part time job. There's more blog business than usual to attend to this week, mostly because I'm arranging Middle Class Modern's first ever giveaway and publishing my first sponsored post. Yay!

4:00-8:00: My other job. I drink lots of caffeine. No one feeds me awesome Mediterranean sandwiches.

8:00-midnight: Grocery store run. I load up on caffeine, milk, and cat food. Get home, jump in the shower, finally have some of the stew I made this morning. Delish. (Alas, a better blogger would've taken pictures.)

When I flip on the television I'm super disappointed, because at some point during the day I became convinced it was Wednesday. Modern Family, no The Americans. At least there's an SVU marathon.

 Cozy in my pajamas I catch up on a couple of smaller freelance projects, prep the Jubilee post for Wednesday morning, and then attack my new project. Around midnight, as I'm drowsing over my laptop, Miss Nola Kitty jumps in my lap and demands cuddles. I take it as a sign and put the laptop up for the night.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Giveaway: Clean It Up, Heritage Style

This Giveaway is now closed!

It's with great glee (and dare I say...jubilation!) that I announce Middle Class Modern's very first giveaway!

The fine people at Malco Consumer Products have put together a gift package of their heritage cleaning products, including Jubilee®, Grease Relief®, Twinkle® Silver and Brass & Copper Polish, Mr. Coffee® Cleaner, Zud®, and Bluette®. (I reviewed Jubilee last week...) These are classic, heritage cleaning products Malco has reintroduced to the market. For those of us dealing with old houses and old house surfaces, these products make a lot of sense!

The Details

The Prize: A collection of cleaning products from Malco Consumer Products

How To Enter: Leave a comment! It's really just that simple. If you'd like to earn extra entries, follow me on Pinterest or like Middle Class Modern on Facebook. Leave a comment for each action you take! The comment can be as simple as "Pinterest." If you already follow me, leave a comment for each platform!

Lets Make This Fun: What's your least favorite thing to clean? (Mine? Bathroom grout. Eww.)

Number Of Winners: One

Prize Ships: Directly from Malco to the winner! This contest is only open to those in the United States.

Da rules: will pick the winner.

So...who what when where why: The contest ends on Sunday, March 24th at 7pm EDT. I'll announce the winner Monday, March 25th. 

Full Disclosure: I wasn't paid for hosting this giveaway. (Malco did send me a sample of Jubilee to review.) Pictures from Malco.

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's Pi Day, And It's Also Date Night

Okay, its more like Date Afternoon because I have to work tonight! 

But the main point? It's Pi Day, the day we celebrate the never ending number 3.14etcetera. Did you know it's also Einstein's birthday? Seems appropriate, no?

Y'all, I've been absolutely SLAMMED this week. One of my freelance clients needed a big project done ASAP, we've had lots of J medical appointments, and I've been working a lot of hours at my other job.

All of this means I haven't had a lot of downtime and we certainly haven't had quality time (roughly defined as time we are both awake, in the same room, and I'm not attached to my laptop!). So a miniature dinner and a movie geek fest seemed appropriate and needed. Because of time and money crunches, it was important we have a cheap and easy date night.

First we needed dinner. I hit up my freezer stash. In honor of the day, I had to serve pie, right?

A Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie was waiting in our freezer (um, along with my paint roller). How much do I love an on-theme dinner that also is J's favorite AND requires very little hands on time from me? If you need to add some frozen pies to your freezer, Marie Callender's is offering a coupon good for a $1.50 off of any one of their frozen pies. The link is live through March 21, 2013 and the coupon is good through March 31, 2013.  Affordable and...

Easy! Prep is as simple as removing the pie from the box, wrapping the edges of the crust in a strip of aluminum foil and placing it in the oven on 400 for about an hour. And during that hour I can catch up on some other work. Awesome. Check out Marie Callender's blog for great entertaining tips and other great tips! Also on their website you can review and rate any Marie Callender's frozen meal. I'm super curious about the Chicken Corn Chowder Pot Pie. I love chicken corn chowder generally (I love almost any chowder, generally!) so this sounds awesome.

Ahh...a happy J! True confession? We're totally going to eat in bed while we watch our movie! It's a holiday, so rules of normal civility just go flying out the window! (Right?)

Now, for the next part of our Pi Day Date Night/Afternoon? A viewing of Star Trek. One of our favorite movies! The next entry in the JJ Abrams reboot comes out in May and we are ridiculously excited. We're going to have leave the house for that date night! Although, knowing us, we'll still probably end up eating Marie Callender's frozen chicken pot pies before we go. For now, watching a DVD in bed while eating a yummy dinner seems a fantastic treat. All in all, a cheap and easy (and super enjoyable!) date night treat!

So how are y'all celebrating Pi Day this year?

(I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jubilee In My Sad Bathroom?

I was sent a free sample of Jubilee to review on this here blog; however I wasn't paid and all the opinions are mine! All mine!

Our bathroom kills me. One of the things I liked best about this house is that came with a completely intact pink tile bathroom. Nothing says "Eisenhower was president when this place was built" quite like a candy colored tile bathroom, right?

What kills me about this bathroom is that it's in horrible condition. Decades of renters and poor maintenance haven't been kind to the vintage tile and fixtures.

My biggest complaint is that no matter how often I clean the bathroom it ends up looking dingy and gross within days.

Jubilee Kitchen Wax is a heritage product. The first occupants of Casa MCM could've used it when the tile was fresh and new (...although I find it hard to believe the tile was ever cleaned before we moved in! SO GROSS!!!!). Malco Products licensed the product from SC Johnson (from my research it appears the product was sometimes referred to as Johnson's kitchen wax).

I read a lot of vintage housekeeping manuals and kitchen wax is often mentioned. Y'all know that I believe in green, DIY cleaners. However. My grandmothers' generation were fantastic at making things shine, and more importantly, MAKING THINGS LAST. They used this product for a reason.

Jubilee claims you can use it on wood, enamel, ceramic tile, Formica, et cetera. I was obviously most excited about the ceramic tile part. I wanted to try it on the floor (which is just awful), but the bottle states "not for use on floors." Yeah, waxed ceramic floors in the bathroom might be a little dangerous.

I wiped down the tile walls as usual. Then I used a piece of Frog tape to mark off part of this wall, so I could really see the difference between using the Jubilee and not. I applied a small amount of Jubilee to a damp sponge and attacked the wall. Then I wiped it off with a clean white rag (all according the instructions.)

Wow. It REALLY made a difference. The grout, which always looks so bad that I usually think only regrouting will make it look better, showed the biggest difference.

You can really see the difference in the corner grout. Jubilee also cleans as it waxes.

Here's a picture after a few days went by.

The bottom has attracted its normal amount of pet hair, Tracie hair, and general weirdness. The top still looks shiny and like it's been recently cleaned.

(This bathroom is SO HARD TO PHOTOGRAPH REALISTICALLY. I mentioned back in the day that it always looks so much shinier and nicer in pictures!)

The only con to Jubilee is that it, in my opinion, it smells strongly. Not bad-just strong. After I opened the window it wasn't so bad.

I love how it made the tile look. I'm painting the bathroom next weekend (YAY FINALLY) and then I'm going to try waxing all the tile. I'll report back if I change my mind, but I doubt I will. I really think Jubilee wax might be the solution for making vintage tile look new and fresh. EASILY.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Recreate This Space: Making Danish Modern 2013 Modern

Photo From Retro Renovation

Have I mentioned how much I love Pam from Retro Renovation? She posted this amazing ad from 1952 featuring Danish Modern furniture from the late, lamented Rich's Department Store. Amazing how truly modern this vintage ad looks! I mean, I think I could live pretty happily in the room as is.

Also, as proof that nothing is ever new in home decor? This entire space is greige, the particular gray beige (...which is really taupe, in my head anyway) which took over the colorscape in 2012.

However, there are some dated elements to this amazing space. The window treatments The huuuuugggggeeee mid-century lamps.

So then I decided to use this as an inspiration and piece and design a very modern take on this room.

The Eisenhower Sofa from Thrive Furniture seemed a no-brainer when recreating the original Danish Modern space. I like the oatmeal-y gray textured upholstery. You might get lucky and find a couple of vintage sofas you could recover! I mean, I'M never that lucky, but still!

CB2 Arc Lamp
While I love the original, huge, unbelievably tall table lamps I do think they are dated. What I like best about them is their sculpturalness. So I thought a couple of these lamps would fill in nicely, adding height and interesting shapes to the room. I'd place one by the arm closest to the window on one sofa and place the second lamp on the desk side of the room on the other sofa, just to break up the symmetry a bit.

West Elm Andulsia Rug
I love the bright yellow and green the floor cushions bring into the room in the original picture. While I'm not a floor pillow kind of person I do like a good rug (and hate the monochrome carpet Rich's used in their ad). So I went with this West Elm harvest gold rug. The room needs a small shot of pattern!

West Elm Desk

Here's another West Elm pick. A wonderful, leggy desk barely peeps into the corner of the original ad. Instead of going with another set of Danish Modern legs, I decided the organic metal legs of the Metal Truss Work Table were a fresher choice, while honoring the simplicity of the original piece.

Room and Board
This Room and Board dining chair isn't the chair of my dreams, but its close. I wanted to mix another shade of gray and more shapely legs. I really like how it subtly recalls the designs of the era directly preceding the Danish Modern/Mid-Century Modern era.

So many pictures of "styled" fifties interiors feature coffee tables placed in completely unusable locations within the room. I like a coffee table in front of the sofa, where I can place a drink or prop my legs. I didn't want to cover up the yummy rug, and there's SO MANY FANTASTIC LEGS going on in this room I didn't want to add more. The clear CB2 peekaboo table was the perfect solution. It provides lots of workable space without creating additional visual clutter. This helps maintain the sleek modernity of the original concept.

The original windows had some bizarre oversized valance and curtain combo happening. A simple bamboo roll up shade brings the room into 2013. It also layers in another warm texture. I do like how the window treatments are floor to ceiling and definitely think this new fictional room should follow suit!

Ikea's AINA curtains appear to have a fantastic linen-ish texture. I love this soft gray, especially against the bamboo shades.

One Kings Lane
My initial impulse would be a whole wall of questionable art over one of the sofas. However. I do like the restraint shown by picking one, perfect piece. It appears the artwork in the ad might be a large pencil drawing or lithograph.

Eh. I love both of those things, but not here. Here I think a bright splash of color is needed. So this vintage piece that brings in the grays and yellow from the rug and gives the room a sense of movement.

Plus...I love seascapes.

Now, wall color? I couldn't decide! A true white? A warm greige? What do you guys guys think?

While there are affiliate links (Amazon, One Kings Lane, Thrive) I really do pick the items I love best when I do these kind of these posts!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Care And Feeding of Dog and Cat Nails

Or, how to give a dog a manicure (and also a cat. More than that in a moment).

I think I've alluded to this a few times, but Emily isn't the sort of girl to spend the day at the doggie spa. Partly because I'm cheap; partly because Emily gets a little nervous when it comes to grooming.

So we DIY it.

Here's Emily, right before I ordered the Pedi Paws. She DESPERATELY needed a pedicure!
Now, I figured out how to cut Emily's hair pretty quickly (trimming scissors, J's hair clippers), but her NAILS were awful. Since she was a tiny puppy Emily has HATED anyone messing with her paws. She hated having her nails trimmed at the groomers. She wasn't any more fond of me doing it.

Image From Amazon

One night I saw the PediPaws commercial, pondered it, ordered it off Amazon.

Here's where I admit I'm capable of an intense amount of dumbness. I thought the PediPaws ...well, I don't know what I thought it did, exactly. But it was along the lines of I thought it clipped the nail, but had a sensor that kept it from clipping the quick.

I don't even know.

That's not, by the way, how it works. It's really like a little Dremel. In fact, a brilliant friend uses a Dremel on her basset hound's nails.

My honest opinion (and I paid for the PediPaws , and other than throwing in an affiliate link am not getting paid for this post)? I LOVE IT.

Emily doesn't necessarily adore it, but she will let me trim her nails with it. If I toss her a couple of Whisker Lickins she'll lay there contently while I grind away.

Now, let's talk Nola. Nola's previous owners declawed her front paws. Not a decision I would make. Her back claws are intact. She also has a benign tumor on her chest. Unfortunately, she has a bad habit of scratching at said tumor until it bleeds.

I googled around for information about using PediPaws on a cat. The response was mixed, with lots of people saying their cats' nail didn't reach through the safety cap of the pedipaws.

I didn't have that problem. Again, with the help of Whisker Lickins (Emily, the dog, refuses most dog treats but is addicted to these; Nola acts like they are her heart's true desire.) Nola will lay in my lap and let me dull the edge of her claws.

All in all, I'm very happy with my purchase. The PediPaws only came with two filing heads, but I bought mine in October and use it regularly with both pets and I just switched to the second head. Amazon sells PediPaws replacement filing heads for around $6.

Oster also sells a version; I'd love to hear from any of you who have used it.


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