Get Your Martha On
Around this time of year, I get very anxious. My mother would enter spring cleaning mode in preparation for the Jewish holiday of Passover. It's customary, if not Biblically mandated, for observant Jews to clean their houses from top to bottom, leaving no corner unturned, no crumb left behind, to rid their homes of Hametz or foods that are not kosher for Passover. My mother, who could go head-to-head with Martha Stewart and probably win in a cleaning competition, would observe this ritual cleaning. Windows were washed, bedding was cleaned, cupboards were lined . . . you name it, she did it.
This explains why I get this urge to clean around now. My ambition is great, but inevitably I fall short. As the holiday gets closer and my anxiety peaks, I rationalize that if I just clean my kitchen, I will fulfill my religious duty. So it occurred to me, what's easy and manageable that satisfies our spring cleaning urge? Here are a few ideas:
1. Have your windows cleaned. This is easy. Hire someone. Look at the world through crystal clear glass. It will look better.
2. Wash or clean your bedding. The new high efficiency washing machines enable you to do this at home. Alternatively, spend a couple of hours with a good book at the laundromat or bring everything to a "wash & fold" or dry cleaner.
3. Have your carpets and rugs cleaned. That sofa with the stains that bother you--have it cleaned too.
4. Curtains and drapes: wash, dry clean, or vacuum. Same for blinds and shades.
Now that you can say you've done your spring cleaning (in Laurie Gorelick style), freshen up your decor.
1. Bring in some green. I love live plants. The way my plants look is a barometer of my well being. If they're thriving, it means I've been taking good care of them and, most likely, myself. Plants just need sun and water to be content inside. If you think you have a "black thumb," try something that requires little care. But seeing plants grow and thrive will make you feel good. I promise.
2. Swap those heavy down comforters and flannel sheets for lighter quilts, blankets and percales. If you can, buy a new set of sheets in a soft spring palette.
3. Generations ago, homemakers would slip-cover their furniture with lighter, brighter fabrics to transform their decor for warm weather months. You can adapt this custom without breaking the bank by layering a quilt or throw in a softer palette on your sofa and swapping out throw pillows for some in brighter hues and patterns.
4. Treat yourself to cut flowers somewhat regularly. Seeing nature's beauty on your nightstand as you rouse yourself to shut your alarm clock is a nice way to wake up in the morning.