This was the weekend for taking stock. The weather is turning slightly away from ultra muggy to bearable. I’ve actually gotten out my duvet cover and turned off the overhead fans. What I overlooked all summer is now glaring: the tiny spot on my white linen slipcovers, the one unlined drawer in the kitchen cabinet that drives me crazy because I ran out of lining paper just a strip short of finishing the job in the spring, and the stair treads that need to be repainted every year.
A fall arrangement of dried flowers, orange snooker balls in a wooden trough (found in a second’s store), a painting by Nantucket artist Paul LaPaglia and a burnt orange painted folk art table from Spouter Gallery add a touch of fall color scheme to my living room. The reindeer candle holder from a yard sale is a year ‘round staple and has a twin on another table.
My summer clothes all need washing and put into plastic containers or clothes bags – go into a box to be sent to Key West in January. Why is it that every white t-shirt has a stain or spot I didn’t detect all summer? Everything in my house is assessed to see what should be replaced, refurbished, or is okay for another season.
All this “stock taking” precipitated an imminent off-island trip to the big city of Hyannis on the Cape. I hate to admit it, but all my basic needs can be fulfilled in this place where they have a Home Goods, a Dollar store, a K-Mart, a T.J. Max and Marshalls. In other words – I’m discount deprived.
Three or four times a year I get my discount fix. I leave the island in the morning with a duffle bag filled with lots of oversized empty plastic shopping bags and come home with every single one filled to the brim. And then I am sated for several months. I’ll be ready to start my fall clean-up. As I assess, clean, put away, I am also thinking about simplifying as an overriding theme. Here’s my to-do list if you want a head start for creating your own. It’s a beginning, if not the be-all for fall clean-up.
- Wash all slipcovers, one at a time. Simplifies the job. I’m in no rush. Here’s a tip that came from my friend Liz who heard it on an NPR interview with a Heloise helpful hints type person – can’t remember the name. Hydrogen chloride in the wash brightens and takes out spots better than bleach AND it’s really cheap. Tip: Put slipcovers back on while slightly damp so they dry tight and fit right. If you dry completely they may shrink and will be hard to fit back on.
- Clean all blinds and window sills, curtains if you still adhere to this type of window covering. I made drapes out of linen tablecovers years ago for my living room windows. All four are different. I wash them and dry slightly, then hang while slightly damp – no ironing necessary.
- Replace all summer plants to Autumn mums in yellow, burgundy red and burnt orange. It’s so easy to go from summer to fall. Stop and Shop has the for $5. Bucks a plant. Can’t beat that!
- Wash all placemats and cloth napkins. Buy new napkins. I bought a set of mismatched French bistro linen squares with blue stripes on one side when I was in Calistoga. They wash and dry soft and I love them wrinkled.
- Bring your garden inside. Fill a large ceramic bowl with fresh veggies from the garden or farm and use as a centerpiece on a dining table. Jon is into making tomato sauce from end of summer field tomatoes. He found an easy recipe in the N.Y. Times a while ago and we’re freezing small containers for the winter.
My mismatched curtains made from linen tablecloths, white slipcovers and an eclectic mix of “artwork”.Changing paintings around from room to room so I don’t stop “seeing” them. Now a favorite that I bought in Key West last winter is in a different spot that’s more visible from where I spend the most time.
- I found great smelling soap in a boutique in San Francisco. I put a bar on top of the towels and sheets in my linen closet. Every time I open the door it smells great and reminds me of that trip.
- Wash cotton quilt to fold and keep at the end of the sofa in my den for cool nights watching t.v.
- Assess bathroom towels and bath mats and replace if necessary. White or neutral colors only! Summertime is hard on towels. Lots of use especially if you’ve had company.
- I plan to impulsively buy a quart of paint in a fun, new color that attracts me. I will paint something with it. It might be a small table, a kitchen chair, maybe the inside of a drawer. I’m not sure yet but I’ll be ready.
End of summer hydrangeas make a beautiful bouquet on my dining table.