Here we are, a week from Easter weekend, and there’s a lot to plan and do in a very short time frame. Today I am prepping for a photo shoot that will take place tomorrow here at Connecticut Country House. The shoot is definitely one more big thing that I am adding to my already overfilled plate – but essential to capture this time of year – the Easter festivities.
One of the great things about getting ready for this shoot is that it forces me to think about all the parts that make this holiday so special at Connecticut Country House. It’s time to play a little with various options. Starting with the vibe of the whole affair – the overall springtime decor, the table, the flowers, the Easter baskets, and of course – the food. Once I figure out my so-called theme, it makes me so much more focused as to what I need to do.
I hate to say it, but the very first thing – the most important thing – we need to tackle is none of the above. It’s the dreaded cleaning. It’s just one of those things you have to do, in order to make room and time for what you really want to do. So as of today, here’s the cleaning part of my to-do list (which will be shared with Murph’s honey-do list):
1. Clean windows. O.K. I agree this is a humungous task, but I don’t have to do them all (thank goodness), and all at once – approach it in stages. Determine where the bulk of your entertaining will take place, and focus on that area. If you have any glass on the entryway door – that one is crucial to do – literally makes a brilliant first impression!
2. Air out the house. The windows have probably not been opened much since last fall. Now’s the time to let some fresh air in!
3. Upholstery and lampshades. Give all your sofas and chairs a good vacuuming. And while you’re at it – don’t forget the fabric covered lampshades – the brush attachment is perfect for that. If you have cotton slipcovers like me, at least once every season, toss them into the washer, but don’t dry them completely – leave a tad damp. Makes wrestling them back onto the frames so much easier. Once they’re back on their respective pieces, you may just notice that the room smells a little fresher.
4. Clear off surfaces. Now’s the perfect time to edit. Organize by putting stuff away or throwing out. I have found that over the winter months, when indoor living reigns supreme, a lot of stuff has accumulated here, there, and pretty much everywhere! I hate it. I find that after I edit, and there are just some things that don’t fit into a closet, cabinet, or drawer – baskets of all sizes are my saving grace!
5. Dust and wax. I have learned over the years to dust surfaces before vacuuming. Rule of thumb: work from top to bottom. A good spray wax (Endust) or lemon oil is key to polishing up beautiful wood surfaces and highlighting wood grain.
6. Clean mirrors and glass in frames. Checking for dust on vertical surfaces is key too. Mirrors and glass on framed artwork or photographs tend to get overlooked. A little Windex does the trick.
7. Wash floors and vacuum rugs. Now that all the stuff has fallen onto the floor, it’s time for a really good vacuuming and mopping. In the spring, I roll up my rugs to expose the old wood floors, and store until next fall (but I definitely give it a good vacuuming before storing). My floors get a good cleaning (and I get a really good work out) with a bucket of hot water and Murphy’s Oil Soap.
8. Clean silverware. Depending on how I decorate the table – I pull out the good silver. I do like a little bit of a patina, so I use a liquid silver polish (Goddard’s Silver Dip) – dip the pieces in quickly and wash with soap and water. Done. Just takes the black tarnished edge off.
9. Iron linens. Nothing like crisp and clean table linens. With my handy spray water bottle and spray starch at hand – they turn out beautifully. A long time ago, my Mom taught me to take linens and clothes out of the dryer as soon as they are done and hang or fold immediately – this prevents excessive wrinkles. And with a really hot Rowenta iron, a spritz of water and starch – just beautiful. Whenever possible, I like to keep up with this task and store all in one place for easy access and always at the ready.
10. Check glasses. The day before I check all the glassware I’m going to use. Sometimes glasses can be a little spotty right out of the dishwasher. To avoid this, I wash them by hand with soapy hot water – but here’s the secret – rinse well with very cold water. Let air dry. No spots!
I find that the more I can get accomplished a day or two before my event (with exception of the windows and slipcovers – this weekend is ideal), the chances are greater for me to enjoy the day of.