how to arrange flowers

We’ve all had the phone call.

You know.

The phone rings and you pick it up and it’s your brother’s girlfriend’s cousin’s best friend’s mother who is having a jewelry party and she wants to drop off a catalog for the event next week.

Or it’s your mother’s co-worker’s sister’s aunt who needs you to teach the Sunday School lesson and she wants to leave the book at your house.

Or your daughter’s cheerleading coach is dropping her off after practice and wants to talk for just a minute.

Just a minute.

Or your neighbor wants to stop by and discuss the last episode of American Idol over coffee.

And you hang up the phone and look around and realize your house may or may not closely resemble the latest episode of Hoarders.

No worries.

You totally got this.

All you need are 14 minutes and some of my proven tips to faux clean your house for company.

farmhouse kitchen organization

Step 1:  Put on shoes

You are going to need them to sprint.

Kind of like getting ready for a clean-up marathon.

So lace up your sneakers and line up at the start line.

If you are brilliant and are already wearing shoes, congratulate yourself and skip to step 2.

farmhouse kitchen

Step 2:  Light candles

You want to do this at the beginning, so the wax has time to start smelling.

If you open the door and greet your catalog bringer or your American Idol talker or cheerleading coacher with the gentle aroma of a salty ocean breeze, they get distracted.

It’s a proven fact.

Pomegranate and lemongrass make cobwebs and smelly socks fade away.

kitchen farmhouse style

Step 3:  Fill your sink with soap and water

Turn on the faucet, plug the sink, add dish soap and fill with water.

Then take all the dirty dishes and place them under that beautiful, foamy soapy water.

Next, collect all the cups and plates and other assorted dishes from different rooms of your house and add them to the sink.

The soap looks super cute and it looks like you were about to do dishes and were interrupted by the door bell.

farmhouse white roses

Step 4:  Pick one room to stash everything in

You only really need to concentrate on the rooms closest to the doorbell.

Picking those up gives the illusion that everything else in your house looks just as clean as those rooms are.

Choose a room out of sight as your stash room and just toss everything in there.

Then close the door.

Do not.  I repeat.  Do not open the door or reference that room in any way.

Act like it moved to Tahiti.

kitchen counter

Step 5:  Wipe down your kitchen counters with something that smells good

Don’t take a lot of time on this step.

Your dishes should be in that soapy water, leaving the counters free.

Spray a cleaner that smells good and wipe down.

This creates the illusion that you just cleaned the entire space.


Step 6:  Finish it all off with red lipstick.


You only have one minute left.

Spend it wisely.

Don’t worry about the rest of the make-up.  Don’t worry about your yoga pants with paint on them.  Don’t worry about the cobwebs or the pumpkins in your hutch in the dining room.

Apply red lipstick and tell yourself how amazing you are.

And that your house is clean.

And that your messy bun is perfect.

You got this.

And when the door bell rings, you and your amazingness….

….can answer it with a smile.

PS  I skip step 6 because I’m usually already wearing red lipstick.

So I fluff the pillows instead. 🙂


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  1. Image for Sherry Sherry

    Karianne amusing as usual but I can't pull off red lipstick-would have to be pinkish. I wouldn't even have to do that cuz I'd be outside and wouldn't hear the phone-it doesn't come outside w/me. Sherry

  2. Image for Jenny Jenny

    I grab an empty laundry basket (if that exists) and load everything from the kitchen table and countertops (all those stacks of school papers to sign and mail to be opened and the random items my kids leave lying EVERYWHERE) and it all goes into that laundry basket which I then stow in an out of sight room. After my surprise guest leaves, I pull the basket out and put it all back. Quick clean!

  3. Image for Eilis@my-heart-lives-here Eilis@my-heart-lives-here

    Great plan! When I was in high school a realtor called to show my family's home when my mom was out. The house was a mess so I threw all the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and covered them with a cutting board that fit the top of the sink. Then I ran around and tidied everything else. My mom came home during the showing and was impressed that I had gotten the house clean so fast. Then.... she proceeded to lift up that cutting board to show the prospective buyers how big the sink was! I like your bubbles better.

  4. Image for Terri Terri

    Of course you are already wearing your famous signature red lipstick!!!! :) ... lolol... Love these little tips!!! The candle thing is absolutely my go to !! click on a wax burner ... or light some candles!! Makes all the difference!!!!!!!

  5. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    What a great way to start my morning! Coffee and your post. Absolutely hilarious. Thanks for the smile on my face.

  6. Image for Leona Leona

    14 minutes ??? Thats my panic time alone. And I so wish I didn't have carpeting in the living room. Speakers on leave shoe prints and I drive my husband nuts when I say "take your shoes off, I just vacuumed". So the laundry basket trick works for all that little stuff you have not put away. I fill it and put it behind doors on the washer or dryer. Candles work in the winter, but fill the sink up with Kaboom...although my husband hates the smell. My bigger problem is when I have no makeup on....fright night, or the doorbell rings and I still have my jimmies on :{{

  7. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, you crazy girl!! This is why we are friends!!! I may or may not have melted Tupperware when I preheated an oven after doing the shove to clear the kitchen. But my countdown must include cleaner in the bathroom. Just call me a charter member of Phi Slamma Cramma. Happy Thursday!!

    1. Image for Kris Kris

      I laughed as hard reading Leslie's comment as I did Karianne's "cute" soap bubbles. I purposely try to leave the living room/dining/kitchen area (all visible from the same space) kinda sorta picked up, just in case ... I would add to all of the brilliant comments that Lysol cleaning wipes and Windex window wipes preferably with a light lemon scent) can be lifesavers. Sometimes, though, there is no saving a situation. Like when the plumber came today to install a new shut-off water valve at the water main in my basement. The basement isn't pretty ... but then he wanted to enter all of my bathrooms, even the one at the back of the house off of my bedroom, to check to see that the water was working properly when he was done. The bedroom is MY version of Phi Slamma Cramma, and that's on a good day! Yikes!

  8. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Love your suggestions! You could just put up a ladder and say that painting or construction is going on!!

  9. Image for Patricia Patricia

    If only the kid with pink eye and dog that smells like .. well.. dog... would stay in Tahiti for the rest of the day

  10. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    WOW your funny but its so true!! I have done something just like that but without the red lipstick..LOL!! Love the way you tell it!!

  11. Image for Stacy Simpson Stacy Simpson

    I'm crying laughing because I do all of that! And I can picture your messy bun bouncing around as you sprint thru your house!

  12. Image for susan b susan b

    Glad to see that I'm not the only one!!! I definately need to get me some yoga pants - the old gym short look does NOT look classy with lipstick!!! And maybe I missed it before - but do you have a source for the canvas (?) totes on the shelf of your island?

  13. Image for SheilaPearson SheilaPearson

    Brilliant, Karianne! I always leave my vacuum cleaner out so people think they interrupted my vacuuming. But, I have learned a few new tricks about faux cleaning from you today. Could you possibly make a downloadable PDF for me to hang next to my phone? I'm no good in panic situations.

  14. Image for Lisa at celebrate creativity Lisa at celebrate creativity

    Sounds good, Karianne! Although, I still think I would need at least 16 minutes-lol. I already employ tips #1 and #4. Wearing shoes around the house is definitely more comfortable, especially with hardwood floors. As for that room that bears the brunt of all things stashed and hidden away.... I'm certainly not looking forward to one day having to clean up that space. Have a lovely weekend, Lisa

  15. Image for kathy kathy

    I like the laundry basket idea. If it has clothes in it, throw them in the washer or the dryer. I sometimes use these ideas when it is time for my husband to get home and I have been playing all day. I love the Phi Slamma Cramma comment above and your Tahiti thought! Cleaning the bathroom mirror is also good to do if you have 35 more seconds!

  16. Image for TwoPlusCute TwoPlusCute

    We call that quick clean, "clean what the mother in law sees". Which is highly inaccurate as - at least a Greek - mother in law sees EVERYTHING (and will even look under the armed chairs to find cobwebs). But I digress and have one more tip to add: use the dishwasher as a secret (and airtight) container and stash all the dirty dishes, puns, pots straight in. Now, I am on to do step no 1 and put on some shoes - and getting out of my jammies would be a good idea as well... :)

  17. Image for Jere Jere

    I had a dinner party one night and as the guests were leaving I spied dust on the piano that corn could have been planted in..needless everyone viewed the same "cornfield" ....I did not panic. I just asked everyone to sign the new guestbook. Laughs were had by all . Jere

  18. Image for shelley shelley

    Too funny...we've all done this...I once had to scramble and for some reason I felt I needed to hide the cat's food I threw it in the oven to hide it...later that night I preheated the oven and smelled burning plastic...opened the oven door to find a melted cat dish with burnt cat food seared onto the oven grill...yeah...good times! I must have forgotten my red lipstick and it thru me off my game...

  19. Image for Eileen Eileen

    Laughed at this post....and the comments! I don't use live candles, but I stampede around the house spraying lavender like a loon! I like the sink idea. I use the vacuum in the middle of the room idea, too. Not picking up the phone works as well!

  20. Image for Jeanne @ I Dream of Jeanne Marie Jeanne @ I Dream of Jeanne Marie

    Hi KariAnne, What a great start to my morning...and as I read it I realized I "needed" it today. I try to use a plan from The Flylady, Marla Cilley, where her daily plan helps you clean your house in what she calls "zones." She also has a funny phrase that I love.... it's called CHAOS... Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome." That's me much of the time... I sew doll clothes and when someone comes over I usually have threads all over I'll probably skip the red lipstick and use a lint roller on myself! Thanks for another great post KariAnne, Blessings, Jeanne

  21. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    You are simply amazing -- I'll be over in a few minutes -- don't clean up anything I want to make sure my pantry is presentable in case you want to show your visitors your amazing pantry :-) And my Hubby and I love Laura's Sage Evergreen candle. It smells heavenly!! And your attitude of don't sweat the small stuff is catching. Big hugs!!

  22. Image for Colleen Colleen

    Great tips! I usually zip around with an empty laundry basket and put everything in it and shove it in a closet. Or, I just pretend like I'm not home when my doorbell rings. LOL! Okay, not always but I want to...

  23. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    I have used the sudsy water in the sink trick many a time. Works wonders. :-) So do candles, especially if you need to banquish pet odors. Heh. Great tips. Can I settle for sort of red lipstick? Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Cecilia

  24. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Miz karianne, you could just go out the back door and Accidentally run into them as you come around the house....and exclaim.....oh! I didn't know your you were here already! Do you have time to sit on the porch for a min? Or I tell them to look for me in the garden, cause that's where I'll be....then I make a bee-line out there! All very good tips, and like Leslie, I'm also a member in good standing of the Phi Slamma Cramma. Funny

  25. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    These are perfect! I will add one addition to the lipstick, I run a quick brush through my hair...and make sure my pearl earrings are on. That way it looks like they caught me in the middle of leaving the house! ;)

  26. Image for Pamela Pamela

    I hate to burst the bubble but when someone uses products to clean just before I come we have to sit on the porch and if they light candles I actually have to turn around and leave. I'm highly allergic to artificial chemicals/fragrances as many others are these days. Be a friend and simmer some apples and cinnamon on the stove instead.

    1. Image for Donna Donna

      My sister-in-law has the same sensitivities as you, so that's what makes this perfect!! I always say "Oh T, I was just cleaning...are you going to be ok to come in?" I'm not belittling your allergies, I just saying how I make them work to my advantage... Thanks for the tips, this was nice to read that you maybe have these same issues and really nice to see all the other women in the same boat!!!

  27. Image for Vicki Vicki

    Great tips! I never wear red lipstick, but if I did, I probably could skip all the other steps - my lipstick would be so distracting! Guess I better go buy some red lipstick!

  28. Image for Susan Susan

    Now that's so funny! I am outside gardening as soon as it gets warm enough , I seem to get caught with dirt between my toes and half way up my legs because I'm always in flip flops. My hair is in a messy bun and there is usually a bit of dirt on my face or clothes, but it when I'm the happiest,I love working in the sunshine :)

  29. Image for Laurie Davis Laurie Davis

    Oh how I adore you & your red lipstick!! Please please write a book. The way you tell your tips takes all the scary drama out of a guest drop by! I'm serious about the book!

  30. Image for PJ PJ

    Wasn't it Phyllis Diller who said to put out some Get Well cards so anyone who dropped by would think that any mess was there because you had been ill?

  31. Image for Kelly Kelly

    Love it....very timely as I am having a party on Sat with no time to get to the cleaning. My only other challenge is dog hair, any suggestions for that? I can't quite figure out how to incorporate it into my 'look'

  32. Image for SHIRL SHIRL

    If I had a home that looked like yours I wouldn't worry one second about someone coming to see me. It is beautiful probably even when dirty. But your idea is good and I do it a lot. But don't pass the word around.

  33. Image for Maria Maria

    LOVE this post! I do the candle trick too. For some reason I feel very self conscious about how my home smells to other people (and I want it to smell good) so candles are a great way to ensure that it smells fresh and clean (I have scent called Fluffy Towels that works wonders). Thanks so much for sharing this clever post with us on #shinebloghop this week. So glad you were able to join us again today!

  34. Image for Deborah Deborah

    It's a great list! Completely fantastic! The dishwater is a totally rad idea! I think when I move my tossed-everything-in-and-shut-the-door room to Tahiti, I'll just go along! Happy week!

  35. Image for Caryn Caryn

    I learned a good trick from someone....put all those dishes in the oven! It's amazing how fast you can clean those counters off &'stash stuff in the oven! Of course you have to remember to take it out before you turn it on for dinner!!!

  36. Image for Kristin @ Pink Camellias Kristin @ Pink Camellias

    This is so funny! It is so hard to keep my kitchen and den clutter free with three boys, two dogs and my boys' friends coming in and out of the house. I can have everything put away on Friday and then it looks like a bomb went off Saturday! One day last week I picked up three pairs of socks in the den! My dining room and living room stay nice, so if someone drops by, we chat in there - that helps! My house never gets too out of control if I follow Fly Lady's routines - they really work (but you have to do them!)

  37. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    KariAnne, you're so funny! Where did you get that wit? This was one time when it was worth it to also take time to read the comments (and suggestions) from the peanut gallery (your public) and it was especially amusing and interesting to me, since I had just been offering some of my own tips to friends on FB. (I don't have a blog, or anything, but I enjoy writing, and I have an interest in home decor.) I had said to use fresh flowers as a distraction, because no one is going to look at your dust bunnies when they can look at the beauty of God's handiwork. I had also suggested using a Scentsy for quick aroma. It's safer than candles, and so easy to use, with the flick of a switch. I guess we all know about sweeping things into a container, to be dealt with later, but I would never put things in the oven, as some have suggested. Too risky. The things we do for pride! My squirming is usually over my appearance. Maybe I ought to invest in some yoga pants? ...or better yet, one of those pretty caftans from Soft Surroundings! I could keep it on a hook near the door, and don it at the last minute, almost like a genie. Ha! (Probably wouldn't work for you, cause one of your kids might answer the door first. Uh, oh!)

  38. Image for Linda Linda

    Oh yeah! How many times...but the soapy water is a new one. Reminds me of sauté onions when try to decide what to cook for dinner or are so far everytime.

  39. Image for Stacey Stacey

    Oh yeah, these are my kind of tips! I keep things pretty tidy but we do have a dog and cat. We also have a grown son and husband here who leave large shoes around. It never fails when the doorbell rings, there are things sitting around. Sometimes it's my vacuum cleaner because right in the midst of vacuuming, I remember that Karianne or another blogging friend might have posted something wonderful and I walk away from the vacuum. You understand... Do you ever just turn into a freak and start tossing things in the direction that might not be visible from the front door? Why yes, I do that. :) Thanks for this laugh today. Things that point out the absurdities of life are always the funniest to me. So glad you shared this at Thoughts of Home because this really is home.

  40. Image for Ashleigh Ashleigh

    What a fun post! I was chuckling to myself while agreeing with what you wrote! I would love it if you would stop by my weekly link party and share this with everyone : )

  41. Image for DaLynn McCoy DaLynn McCoy

    Too cute!! I skip the lipstick because, well, because I don't usually wear makeup and that would make it weird. ;) It's funny to me that you included the lighting of a candle!! We do that... not sure what's up with the smell at our house, but I'm happy to let you blame it on dirty socks (and sweaty boys). With 5 kids, at our house, everyone gets an assignment! Someone picks up living room clutter, someone clears off the furniture, someone has to do the kitchen table, it's usually me in the kitchen, and someone does a quick wipe-up and stock in the bathroom in case our guest needs to borrow it. ;) Thanks for linking up at Christian Fellowship Weekend! Be blessed!

  42. Image for Jemma Jemma

    Good Morning ! Of course the title to this post has had me smiling ever since it arrived in my inbox:) My husband was out of town all week and I was busy in my garden and on this computer, and well it was just me. So, how dirty can a house become...expect for a few lingering crumbs. Before he came home I did some quick dusting with lemon furniture polish and threw some pinesol in the sinks! I was happy to see you joined us at TOHOT too:) Love this post! Jemma

  43. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    First you spray some lemon dusting spray around, then use some PineSol in some areas. Also leaving the vacuum out works and say, you just caught me on my cleaning day. You are so funny!!!

  44. Image for mare mare


  45. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    SUCH FUN, KariAnne! I've spent years honing my quick-clean talents, too ... I once mentioned to friends that I find a challenge in "staging" my clutter as if for a photo shoot. I'm SO eligible for membership in Leslie's "Phi Slamma Cramma" ... ! You hit a nerve with this one ~ many of us are frequently caught off guard and have created our own system for hiding clutter. And yes, this even gives us comfort ~ it's the old "misery loves company" adage ... I've learned a new tip or two, such as lighting candles first so they get warm enough to actually BE fragrant! And I've now realized "CHAOS" is my new illness! Keep these laughs coming, dear! Your humor helps us begin our days in a cheerful mood, lifts our spirits. One note of warning, though. When left too long once, my soap bubbles disintegrated, exposing contents and "grey" water ~ no longer a pretty sight!! kj

  46. Image for Theresa @DearCreatives Theresa @DearCreatives

    Brilliant! You might have had your shoes on, right? Yes, yoga pants & red lipstick & candles. Thanks for sharing your oh, so awesome reality of cleaning in a rush at the #InspirationSpotlight party. PInned & shared.

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