there are few things better than returning from vacation to a sparkling clean condo knowing that you don’t have any housework to do before real life begins again. well, expect maybe a few loads of laundry.

unlike my friend and old roommate, katey, i don’t really enjoy the act of cleaning – i’d just like things to magically clean themselves. sadly, if you want the results you have to put in the work (deep; life lesson).

unnamed i made my checklist: i’ll need to scrub the bathtub and clean the oven. i’ll have to vacuum the shag rug 900 times (don’t get a shag rug, they shed so much!), dust all the shelves, and the kitchen could use a deep clean. it needs to get done, but so does all the work and the life things, like volunteering and gift buying.

then i said a silent little prayer that the birds and mice from cinderella would show up at my condo.

and that’s when Mad Maids came into my life and i jumped at the chance to leave it to the professionals. not quite magical cartoon characters, but close enough – and probably better at the task at hand.

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a lovely couple arrived at my place too early sunday morning to get to work. i offered up my cleaning products, broom and vacuum, but they brought everything with them (and more). after a quick little tour around my condo – and i mean quick, it’s 650 sq.ft., and you can see all the rooms from the front door – i headed out to philosafy for a morning of coffee and writing.

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it’s such a great feeling to leave your condo knowing when you arrive back it will be clean, and done much better than you could or would do.

about two hours later, i got a text saying they were just finishing up. getting off the elevator i could already smell the clean – it smells like lemon, vinegar and happiness. i was so impressed; the sinks were sparkling and it somehow looked bigger. i expected it to be clean, but i didn’t expect my bed to be remade so perfectly, and the inside of my microwave scrubbed.

i love my little condo on the regular, but that much more when it’s looking all shiny and new. the few days leading up to christmas vacation are always a stressful whirlwind for me, so it felt great to cross something off my to-do list. even better that it required no effort on my part. all i have left to do is pack (and so much work).

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if you want to put a big smile on someone’s face this holiday, Mad Maids has gift cards available for their incredible flat-rate services.


do you like cleaning? have you had your house professionally cleaned?

thanks Mad Maids Cleaning for making this post, and my squeaky clean condo possible.

sister is the best gift giver. even when she tells me to have low expectations she’s somehow managed to conspire with my friends to ship my favourite things to ontario (last year she surprised me with gift cards village ice cream and analog, with the help of jess). and then there is me. occasionally i’ll have a stroke of brilliance and think up the perfect present, but most of the time i struggle in comparison to sis. this year, she has everything bought and wrapped, and came up with the ideas for our parents and grandma. me? i still need to buy her a few more things.

if she still needed ideas for me, i would send her this blog post. but since she doesn’t, you can use it as a guide for yourself or a lovely lady in your life. because this? this is a good list.

happy shopping!

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future is female sweatshirt, $70
mission’s newest boutique, fieldstudy shop, has a wide arrange of carefully handpicked items, chosen with its craftsmanship, beauty and functionality in mind. my favourite being this cozy navy sweatshirt. the future is female, duh!

alberta ornament, $20
no matter the season, there is a piece of A.V’s work in my house; the passion she has for her home in the rockies is found in her stunning photographs. for the holidays she’s turned her alberta love artwork into a gorgeous christmas tree ornament. a few years ago i bought one for my grandma, and if i ever put up a tree of my own, it would be the first decoration on it.

peppermint halo, $27
this roll on by saje natural wellness is my lifesaver. if there is someone in your life that regularly gets headaches, you’ll want to put this in their stocking. the mix of peppermint, lavender and rosemary is cooling, refreshing and soothing. i apply it under my nose – it often suggests temples, but i find my eyes water when i do this – to relieve pain.

reza wrap choker, $65
this is not the first appearance of coutukitsch on s&s. dorian creates some really cute things. i don’t have too many trendy pieces of jewelry, but these chokers are adorable, probably because they remind me of a fancy female version of a bolo tie. i’d mostly suggest them to smaller-chested ladies, because the dangling of the cord could get caught in some cleavage.

rivadavia shirt, $35
dolly varden outdoor clothing is a calgary-based premium performance apparel company that offers technical, functional, outdoor clothing that is also fashionable and affordable. this shirt would work with jeans, paired with tights for a hike, and it will also look really cute under that fieldstudy sweatshirt.

planter, $25
kenzie from milk and honey decor makes the most adorable planters in dinosaurs, skulls, pokemon, and more. they are the perfect desk decoration for your office, or a little addition to your shelves. she also offers a range of pet bed covers and home decor, too.

toque, $25
it is winter after all, you need to bundle up! this bonjour toque from chapters will make any outfit jaunty. i think every outfit deserves a little bit of whimsy, so why not add it in a pop of colour, or a french greeting!

molido polish, $25
skwiik (pronounced squeak) is a natural, vegan, cruelty-free and fair trade company specializing in bath and beauty products. you can feel good using these products, made locally in the calgary neighbourhood of bridgeland. $1 from each purchase of the molido polish goes to CEPIA (culture, education and psychology for infants and adolescents) in Costa Rica.


which would you pick for underneath your tree?

i don’t often make trips to calgary’s deep south. if i were driving that far, i’d rather actually go to montana. as a downtown dweller and northwest worker, it really takes something special for me to go south of 22X. for a few months two years ago, i thought that a boy was special enough for that, but i was quite mistaken – i’m good at that.

a few weeks ago i headed back to Seton (the scene of the dating crime) to mix and mingle with foodie friends at starbelly open kitchen + lounge.

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we lifted a glass to honour the memory of Jonathan Sobol and welcomed new executive chef, Paul McGreevy. the starbelly family also welcomed new GM Derek Mihalik and sales & marketing manager, Danielle Kondruk.

it was my first visit to the restaurant that offers made from scratch, home-style cuisine. starbelly’s menu changes with the seasons, to showcase the natural flavours of calgary’s backyard.

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the suburbs are usually scattered with big box stores and chain restaurants, so starbelly is a welcome addition to the south. they take “local” to a new level by sourcing fresh, regional ingredients from community suppliers and make everything in-house, whenever they can.

but local doesn’t mean boring. we sampled passed appetizers that included ahi tuna in a coconut curry, and elk bacon. starbelly also has a seasonal cocktail menu that includes spiced rum and eggnog for the holidays, as well as a belly warming old fashioned.

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while their dinner menu looks delicious, i would definitely suggest going for brunch because bacon pancakes are a thing!

want to try them? you can, because i’m teaming up with starbelly to giveaway a $50 gift card. enter below!

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

photos courtesy of starbelly.