10 Tips for Keeping a Clean House for the Holidays (Without Harsh Chemicals)

This post is in partnership with Bon Ami, but all opinions are my own. 

The holiday season is (almost!) upon us, my friends. It seems to get earlier every year and always sneaks up on me while I’m not looking, all full of cheer and ready to pounce. This time around, however, I’m trying my best to be prepared. I am admittedly not a neat person by nature (my house is usually a hot mess of toys and discarded clothes on the ground, dishes in the sink, and piles of unfolded laundry), but during the holidays, I really, really enjoy a clean home. In addition to the fact that I simply appreciate my holiday decorations better when the house is clean, we have more people in our home during the holiday season than the rest of the year combined. Out-of-town friends stop by, my in-laws stay with us for Thanksgiving and my sister for Christmas, and we host Christmas Day at our house. (Did I mention that we throw my daughter a birthday party in our home in late December?) It’s important to me to keep our house clean and beautiful during the holidays, and over time, I’ve discovered the best ways to ensure this happens. The holidays can be a stressful time, especially if you’re entertaining; these tips will put your mind at ease so you can relax and enjoy friends and family during the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Let the kids help!
If your kids are young like mine, they might actually even (gasp!) ask to help. (My 3 year old absolutely loves having a “job” when we’re cleaning.) Make it a game, use a chore chart, or even remind them that Santa rewards good behavior! Especially during the holiday season, it’s helpful to maintain in terms of keeping the house clean, so give your little ones a task each day, like helping scrub the counters with the #1 staple cleaner in our house, Bon Ami. Bon Ami is nontoxic, eco-conscious, and contains no harsh ingredients, so it’s safe for children and pets. (It’s also been around and trusted since 1886!)

2. Stay on top of dishes.
There’s a lot of cooking and baking (and eating!) going on during the holidays, and it doesn’t take long for dishes to pile up. I really try to get each dish rinsed and in the dishwasher immediately following a meal. I also try to clean pots and pans as I’m cooking. Bon Ami‘s natural soft abrasives (feldspar and limestone) are tough at removing cooked on food. (And if you do have to let your dishes and pots sit, Bon Ami is perfect for removing dried on food as well.)

3. Stay on top of fridge cleaning.
In the same way that dishes pile up during the holiday season, food tends to pile up in the refrigerator. I always try to start off the holiday season with a deep clean of the fridge and freezer by throwing away old food, removing the good food, and using Bon Ami to clean every last inch of the interior. I usually sprinkle it straight on the shelves, and for the doors and racks, apply it with a damp sponge or cloth. Once it’s sparkling clean, I put the food back in an organized fashion. For the rest of the holiday season, I’m very careful to promptly remove expired food or old leftovers and keep the rest of the food in the fridge and freezer as organized as possible.

4. Vacuum every night.
I’ll admit that I’m a lazy vacuumer (is that a word?) the majority of the year, but this simple task of making sure you do a quick vacuum each night before bed is a game changer. We also have a robot vacuum that while not fool proof, is great for getting under furniture. I run that every night during the holidays while I’m asleep.

5. Clean counters (kitchen and bathroom) every night.
Just like my nightly holiday season vacuuming, I make sure that both kitchen and bathroom counters are clean before I go to bed. It only takes a few minutes and makes a big difference in how the house looks (which is important to me when I know guests will be frequently stopping in!). I just sprinkle a little Bon Ami on the surface and wipe off with a damp cloth.

6. Wash towels, wash cloths, and sheets frequently.
Staying on top of the laundry in general is incredibly helpful this time of year (and any time of year, really). But during the holidays when I know we’ll have a lot of people popping in, and sometimes last minute guests staying with us in addition to planned guests, it genuinely lowers my stress level to know there are always fresh, clean towels, wash clothes, and sheets on hand.

7. Scrub the sink.
I let the sink go way too long most of the time, but during the holidays, I give it a nice scrub every couple of days. Bon Ami has been the clean sink solution in my family since I was a little kid. My husband actually makes fun of me for the profound sense of joy I get from studying the sink before I clean it, sprinkling Bon Ami in the sink and on the faucet, giving a gentle scrub, and then basking in shiny, spotless surfaces. It’s one of my simple pleasures. Truly.

8. Remove household stains.
Stains (I’m talking everything from coffee to wine to marker to hair dye) are the last thing on my cleaning to do list most of the time. But during the holidays, I really appreciate having the house as clean as possible. At the beginning of the season, I go through with my trusty can of Bon Ami and a damp cloth, and clean the stains off surfaces in my kitchen and bathrooms. It’s very satisfying to watch the stains scrub away without using harsh abrasives or chemicals. It even got permanent marker out of our white kitchen chairs and rust rings out of our bathtub.

9. Clean toilets weekly.
I have some horror stories about unexpected guests dropping by when waaaaay too long had past since I last cleaned the toilets. (Okay, so not horror stories, but definitely a lasting feeling of deep embarrassment.) During this time of year when guests are frequent, I set a reminder on my phone (sounds silly, but hey, it works), to give the toilets a nice deep clean. Bon Ami works incredibly well on porcelain, and can be used anywhere on/in toilets except inside the tank.

10. Clean the stovetop every morning.
I know I recommended vacuuming and cleaning counters every night, but I save the stove for every morning right after breakfast. It’s another area of the kitchen that I tend to ignore, but during the holidays when it’s constantly being used, I make sure to clean it everyday. As soon as we’re done with breakfast, I remove the burners and sprinkle some Bon Ami on the stovetop. A few swipes of a damp cloth and it’s shiny and spotless without having to use harsh chemicals.

I hope these tips help keep your house nice and clean during this holiday season, the same way they have mine the last few years – both so you can welcome guests with less stress, and so you can relax and enjoy your space with your own family.

And if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I can’t recommend Bon Ami enough for your holiday cleaning needs. It’s one of those products I feel genuinely excited about recommending, not only because it’s incredibly effective and has been trusted in my family for generations, but also because it’s free of things that I prefer to avoid like harsh perfumes, chemicals, and dyes. Even the can itself is eco-conscious (made from 65% post-consumer recycled materials and recyclable).

If you have any other tips for keeping your house clean during the holiday season, please comment or email me. I’m always adding to my list!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Beginning e-collar conditioning

dare e-collar

I have started e-collar conditioning with Dare this week. This process is not cruel, and it involves no punishment.

What it does involve is her learning that very low static stimulation, which I can barely feel, can be turned off if she comes to my side. This process started on a long lead, and now she is doing it off-leash.  Eventually, this low level stimulation will be used to proof other obedience commands.

We are using the Einstein Mini Educator. Her working level, the level where she can feel the stimulation, is at a 6.  The stimulation levels go from 1 to 100.

People hate on these collars because they can definitely be used as a harsh aversive, and yes, they can be used to hurt the dog.  This way of using lower levels of stimulation to proof obedience, though, really isn’t more aversive than a gentle tug on a leash.

So hate these tools all you want. They are effective and are not abusive if used correctly.

 

 

Natural History

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Make a Dog’s Day is October 22nd!

As part of their “Subaru Loves Pets” campaign, the auto-maker has had October 22nd designated as Make a Dog’s Day, the focus being on adopting an underdog – one who is disabled or older – from a shelter. The National Day Calendar describes it more broadly: National Make A Dog’s Day on October 22nd provides … Continue reading Make a Dog’s Day is October 22nd!


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10 Fun Halloween Themed Hair Ideas

10 Fun Halloween Themed Hair Ideas
10 Fun Halloween Themed Hair Ideas
10 Fun Halloween Themed Hair Ideas

About a year ago, my daughter had ‘Crazy Hair Day’ at her preschool, and because it was right before Halloween, we decided to make pumpkin buns. It was honestly much easier than I’d anticipated. I just used doughnut bun inserts to create two buns, bobby pinned them in place, coated with orange hairspray, and cut down green pipe cleaners for the stems, which I inserted right into the middle of doughnut buns. So fun!

She asked me the other day if we could do this again the week of Halloween, and said she’d love to try a couple of other Halloween themed hair ideas as well. I came across so many cool ideas while Googling and browsing Pinterest, and thought I’d share some of my favorites. These don’t have to just be for kids either! I usually just do a simple costume for myself where I mainly wear accessories, so these are perfect for getting in the spirit without the pressure of having to go all out.

  • pumpkin buns (two minis or one big)
  • spider hair (bun on top with eight braids hanging down)
  • spider braids (hair in two french braids with plastic spider rings attached down them)
  • spider web bun (bun on top with cotton spider webs bobby pinned over it)
  • crow bird nest bun (large doughbut bun with a black bird attached)
  • creepy bird next hair (tease/rat hair, add tons of hair spray, and insert sticks)
  • Bride of Frankenstein hair (tutorial here)
  • dirt hair (spray or paint hair black and attach rubber insects)
  • witch hat hair (spray or paint hair black and molded around a foam come to form witch hat)
  • devil horn hair (tutorial here)

If you have any other ideas I might have missed, let me know in the comments!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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My Dog Won’t Potty on Leash!

Do you ever have problems getting your dog to potty when on leash? We’ve heard from numerous readers whose dogs either won’t pee on leash or won’t poop on leash–or who refuse…



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DogTipper

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Cheesy Smile

A friend of mine owns VanEss Doggie Day Care here in Canton, Ohio. He posted this the other day on their Facebook page under the heading, “Say Cheese!” Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Easy Halloween Pizzas

Easy Halloween Pizzas

I originally shared this recipe last year, but we’ve been making them nonstop around here this month, Halloween is in 3 weeks, so it only seemed right to share again. The original recipe I shared was for all plant-based, vegan products, but we have made them with regular cheese too, and I have updated the recipe to reflect this.

These are so easy to make and so much fun! My kids love them as an after school snack and for lunch on the weekends. They’d be perfect for a Halloween party too. They’re yummy food and a craft in one.

Vegan Mini Pizzas
Vegan Mini Halloween Pizzas

Easy Mini Halloween Pizzas
Makes 6 mini pizzas

INGREDIENTS

6 english muffins*, halved
3 cups shredded cheese or vegan cheese (we usually do a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)
1 cup jarred pizza sauce
black olives
green olives
green pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Placed halved english muffins cut side up on a baking sheet, and top each with pizza sauce until covered, then top with cheese shreds. (If you want to make a mummy pizza, use the cheese shreds to form “bandages”.) Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted. Then get creative! To make a jack-o-lantern, create a face with black olives and sliced green pepper, and a pumpkin stem from green pepper. To make a spider pizza, top with a vertically halved black olive for the body, a horizontally halved black olive for the head, and sliced black olives for the legs. To make a mummy pizza, use green olives to create eyes. To make a monster/Frankenstein pizza, top with a piece of sliced green pepper and small olive pieces.

Mini Halloween Pizzas
Vegan Halloween Pizzas
Mini Halloween Pizzas

Happy Halloween snacking!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Friday Funny: Baby’s First Guard Dog

I’m thinking this dog can take all comers! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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Classic Kids’ Halloween Costume Ideas

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids
Family Halloween Costume Ideas

Yes, I know it’s still September, and trust me, unlike the majority of blogger/IG influencers/whatever-the-label-is-this-month, I cling to summer until the bitter end (and beyond). But today is officially the first day of fall, and deciding on Halloween costumes is my favorite part of fall. So here we are.

When it comes to Halloween costumes, I am a sucker for simple, timeless costumes. So much so that I spend way more late nights than I should probably admit browsing online for classic costume ideas. This post may even look a little familiar to you, as I’ve shared a roundup of classic costumes for kids before. (Don’t worry though; this one is new and improved, and actually organized in alphabetical order this time.)

Essley’s first two Halloween costumes were a handmade black cat and a simple bumble bee. Two years ago, when she was old enough to decide for herself, she asked to be a pumpkin (as seen in the photos above). That sweet pumpkin might have been my favorite costume to date. (I bought this one, which we still have. It’s incredibly well made and so cute in person.) That same year, Emmett was a skeleton, via a pair of simple skeleton pajamas (we got these, which are only $ 15) and a black baby beanie. The following year, Essley decided to be a mermaid, which while much fancier than the others, is still a timeless costume. (Here is a similar one.)  Emmett decided to be a dinosaur (similar to this costume) that year, and the costume was minimal and adorable. Last year, Essley chose to be a butterfly and Emmett a shark (this costume, but in grey). Essley got creative with her costume which I absolutely loved. (We bought this set for $ 16 then added face paint and antennae.) And both costumes remained (at least in my eyes) classic. This year, their potential costumes ideas have changed multiples times, and I am well aware that the days of them choosing simple, more traditional costumes may well be over. I am, of course, 100% behind that as well. This is their holiday, and they should enjoy it in their own ways.  (You’ll still find me obsessing over classic costume ideas at 1 AM on most nights in October.)

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

  • Angel
  • Ballerina
  • Bat
  • Bear
  • Black Cat
  • Bumblebee 
  • Butterfly
  • Clown
  • Devil
  • Dinosaur
  • Dog
  • Dracula
  • Dragon
  • Fairy
  • Frankenstein
  • Ghost
  • Ladybug
  • Lion
  • Mermaid
  • Mime
  • Monkey
  • Monster
  • Mouse
  • Mummy
  • Pirate
  • Princess or Prince (handmade rather than character)
  • Pumpkin
  • Shark
  • Scarecrow
  • Skeleton
  • Superhero (handmade rather than character)
  • Vampire 
  • Witch

If you have any other classic costume ideas, please share! Is it too early to wish you a happy Halloween?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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How to Walk Two Dogs at Once

This post includes affiliate links. Walking two dogs at once can be twice the fun…or twice the challenge! When the dogs are large and strong, the task of one person walking two dogs is one that…



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DogTipper

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