Archives

Spray It On Thick, Baby

Scent isn’t only my job, it’s my life. I am VERY olfactory. I can relate scents to memories, people, etc. I actually remember someone’s scent before their face. My friends tell me I have “werewolf smell.” I swear I can smell something going bad in my fridge from the second floor of my house.

I LOVE to have a nice clean scent in my house. I love any good scent in my house. And my job is actually creating scent, so it works perfect. But I realize that for most people, this isn’t the case. And even I sometimes run across something in the store and go “OH! I LOVE THAT!” and of course I buy it and go home and try to recreate it LOL. But nonetheless.

I noticed a clean scent in the house can actually trick people into thinking your house is cleaner physically than it actually is. I can’t, of course, smell my own house. My niece, nephews and my BFF all tell me that my house is their favorite scent. Yet they can’t describe it to me. Well, call me Elizabeth Arden.

I’m super sensitive about the smell of my fabrics. I don’t know why, but I LOVE the smell of fresh fabrics and linens. I make my own freshener sprays most of the time, but I have to say that I do love the smell of Febreeze. But it’s damn expensive. Lucky for me, I also love the smell of fabric softener. As a matter of fact, I can’t tell you how many times my other “were nosed” friend of mine and I have gone to Target only to spend a half hour in the fabric softener section opening caps and smelling them.

I was surprised when I was shuffling around Pinterest (if you haven’t joined that site yet, do it. Now. And realize that I’ve just caused an addiction) I saw that someone had made homemade febreze from fabric softener. This didn’t surprise me, what surprised me was all the people that thought this was a NEW idea. Man, I’ve been doing that for YEARS. It’s gotta be going on a decade now. And it’s GREAT stuff, better than the real thing, cheaper, longer lasting and you have more control over the scent. So go on and go sniff the laundry section and pick out your favorite.

This isn’t my favorite, but they didn’t have my favorite in stock. But this is pretty damn good, and it was on sale.

Now grab yourself a spray bottle. A good one too, one that does fine mist.

As far as the “amount” goes, I tend to use LESS than most “recipes” call for. Most recipes call for a 2:1 ratio water to softener. I find that this is nice and strong BUT it kind of leaves a real slick type coating on my fabrics. I find filling the bottle 1/4 of the way with the softener and the rest of the way with distilled water works great. But it’s really up to you. Test and try.

Some recipes also call for vinegar. I skip that. I like my stuff with just water and softener. But again, it’s up to you. Make sure you test an area first too, just to make sure your fabrics can handle your little experiment. I know some of the real cheap softeners can leave oily lookin stains on stuff.

So, pour it into your bottle, add the water, and shake like hell.

Label it cause, if you are anything like me, someone might think it’s meant to clean the counter tops and well, nothing says GROSS like when you realize the counter where you prep your food is covered with a film of fabric softener. Downy seasoned chicken is freakin’ GROSS.

I use dissolvable labels, which aren’t real conducive to nice writing because they come on a FREAKIN’ ROLL but they are easy to get off unlike regular labels.

And there you have it, homemade fabric freshener for super cheap! It works great, too, my house smells lovely.

I don’t know about you, and maybe I’m just a dork, but new cleaning stuff makes me so happy, especially when it’s something that smells great. Nothing motivates my cleaning fits like a freshly scented brand spankin new load of counter cleaner or scented scouring powder. It’s the simple things in life, after all.

Yep, I’m THAT Anal: Another Cheap Way To Organize Your Sh*t

Ok, so some people call me really anal. Organized. I’m really not. I thrive on chaos. Well, certain kinds of chaos.

I am the most classic believer in A place for everything and everything in it’s place. Why? Is it because I’m overly obsessed with a clean house?

No. LOL. My dusty baseboards can tell you that.

What I’m NOT a fan of is spending 809283098 minutes trying to find something and having SO much sh&t in my house that everything doesn’t have a damn place. That’s what I’m not a fan of.

In my humble opinion, life is too damn short and precious to eek out 5 minutes of my time 100 times a day going “where is this? where is that?” and fumbling through cabinets and drawers trying to find something stupid. I’d rather spend time doing something I WANT to be doing be that cooking, being outside, spending time with family, whatever. I may WANT to make that country fried steak but I don’t want to spend 20 minutes out of the hour it takes searching for the ingredients.

It’s all a matter of time murder. Every time I have to fumble to find a sheet, a towel, a battery, the salt, or a light bulb, time is being murdered from me. It may only be little minutes here and there but they add up. At the end of my life I’m not going to say “Gee, wish I would have spent MORE time trying to find the wide tooth comb.” No.

So to me, quick and easy ways to organize things and keep them that way are SO worth it. SO worth it. I AM one of those people who will make “smaller” things and store “bigger” things even though it takes extra space just so it’s easily found and reachable. Let me explain.

I’ll buy a big can of coffee. But I don’t want the coffee cluttering up the kitchen cabinet, or the freezer, since we don’t go through coffee THAT fast. So I will repackage SOME of that coffee into a smaller container, in the cabinet, clearly labeled, and put the big can in the pantry. Ironically, this saves me time and space. I don’t have something huge cluttering up my precious kitchen cabinets. I don’t have to fumble to drag the can out from behind 8 million other things, it keeps more MORE aware of how much I have because I have to refill it every few weeks and it’s nicely placed exactly where it’s easy to get to.

Food, especially, is not always packaged in a way that’s conducive to storage. Know that now. Many times these packages are HUGE because half of them are air. That’s wasted space and more issue to lug out. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to repackage chips for lunches in smaller baggies that you can grab and toss into the lunch box than it is to have a huge, half air bag of chips in the cabinet going stale that you’ll have to re package anyway and end up with another half the bag of broken chips. I like to do it all at once and save the grief. I also KNOW how much I’ve got then, no more “I thought I had more” BS.

So, enter lunch and the kitchen cabinet. I hate making lunches. I really do. It’s an annoying ritual. And I really do like to grab and go. I also like to be able to distinguish “snacks” for me (low carb) and “snacks” for the ones with working beta cells. It creates less temptation for me and tends to keep their paws off things that are very obviously for lunches.

All this lunch stuff is also kept in the same cabinet with my soups, my dried foods, canned stuff, crackers, dinner items, etc. So it gets a little hectic. Let me show you.

You can see my feeble attempt at having bins that can just be slid out. It didn’t work. All the stuff doesn’t fit in there. Baggies or not. I was always digging and GOD I hate digging. It’s another waste of time.

So, I got a brilliant idea.

I often use plastic containers, take out style, in my business for different items. They are all around a useful little tool. Think the containers that egg drop soup come in. They are available at most any food supply store. Try Gordon Food Service, Costco, etc. They are inexpensive, effective, easily cleaned and cute as hell too. Or I always thought so.

So that’s what I started doing. Putting things in those little containers. They come generally in 3 sizes. A squat 8oz, a taller 16oz, and a big ass 32oz. They stack wonderfully. Nothing falling over because they are all the same size diameter. It’s wonderful. They can also be easily labeled and relabeled, they are pretty air tight, they are a glorious little thing.

So I started putting my dried apples, vegetables, banana chips and the like in there. I put some “lunch snack” items in the smaller containers so I can just grab and throw them in. Hopefully they’ll bring back the containers but if not, I won’t cry about it. Candies, crackers, maybe little serving sizes of chips. The possibilites there are endless.

I also stored drink mixes, coffee, loose teas and creamers in them too and boy did THAT free up a lot of space. Drink stuff usually likes to come in fat tubs, which are impossible to stack because they have rounded tops.

My “drink” cabinet looks much better.

Halfway through the snack cabinet looked much better. I had tons more room too. Mind you even here, everything is pushed to the front, the back is nearly all empty on the second shelf.

And that’s only half done. See how much easier that’s gonna be? They are clear, easily seen, easily labeled. YAY! I’m jazzed.

Now they (me too) can just grab and go when they want something. No more guessing.

This will work for nearly anything, don’t just think snacks. Think makeup, in the fridge items like cut up fruit, under the bathroom sink, jewelry, anything.

I resent and refuse the idea that organization takes ass tons of money and a day time television show. I understand the need for aesthetics, yes, so decorate them if you have to. Draw on them with pretty marker or add paper if you really have to. Me, for the inside of a cabinet, I could care less as long as it’s functional.

And now I sleep a little better knowing I don’t have to worry about time murdering on the snack front at least. More time for me to do something I don’t hate.

So, am I really anal? Or am I just really good at prioritizing?

Cheap Ways to Organize Your S*#t

Clutter bothers me. Doesn’t mean I don’t have it, it just bothers me. I’m not completely anal when it comes to organizing or anything. More, it’s that I find when things are NOT organized, I waste SO much time. It’s a time murderer.

I hate digging through drawers to find the measuring cup, which adds 5 minutes to my already pressed schedule. I’d rather know where something is and know I can go get it at any time. It’s a glorious feeling.

I live with men whom, for as much I love them heart and soul, organizing is sort of lost. I find socks in my freezer. I’m not kidding.

I’ve started CLEARLY labeling things. I’ve gone a little apesh*t with the labelmaker you could say. This way there is no excuse. As long as you are able-bodied and you can read, you know where things go.

If you are anything like me, there are places in your house that just piss you off to no end because no matter what you do, they are chaos. I have a couple of those places. You know, the junk drawer or your bedroom closet. One of mine is my linen closet in the bathroom. It drives me insane, no matter what I do, it’s ALWAYS chaos.

I keep the change of bed sheets in there. So every time I go to change the sheets it’s a strange dance of me trying to find the fitted sheets and everything falling out of the closet when I finally grab one (which is inevitably at the bottom of the pile somehow). Then trying to find a pillow case and the same thing happens. It frustrates me. It makes me angry. I’M JUST TRYING TO CHANGE THE SHEETS!

I’ve tried nearly everything: Creative ways to fold them, rolling them, stacking them all nicely. One little blurb I read somewhere said something about tying your sheet sets together with “pretty” ribbon. Really? F*@k that. So that I can watch my beautiful sheet art that I so carefully wrapped end up on the floor of the closet, ribbon a-fray, because someone else wanted to just one pillowcase? NO WAY.

I needed something that would be functional and easy. And cheap. I’d RATHER it look pretty too, just cause I like aesthetics to a point, but it wasn’t a requirement.  I refuse to go to these “organize your home” sites because it’s a bunch of people with way too much money preaching nonsense most of the time, or trying to sell you something. I let it stew in my head for awhile and figured the answer would hit me. I knew baskets wouldn’t work, they were usually too wide for my shelves, not tall enough or not stable enough. Ditto on the plastic bins. And I really didn’t want to run to the damn store and buy more crap to store the crap I already had. I’m not a fan of consumerism.

It did hit me finally. It did.

It’s the holidays, so I have 8 million trillion boxes I got in the mail. You know the ones that you get your mail order stuff in. Brown ones, priority ones, all kinds of ones. I generally put them all in one place until recycle day, then they go to the curb. Or I use them as kindling in the fire. Then I had a little epiphany: I can use those.

They can be used just on their own, but I wanted to decorate mine. For a couple of reasons:

1. I had scrapbook paper I needed to get rid of

2. I needed a reason to take a break from baking cookies

3. I like the idea of my organization being home-made, and nice looking.

So, if you are the kind of person that’s ok with just having boxes there as storage, go for it. But I didn’t want mine to look like used Christmas boxes. Just follow me, you’ll see.

First I took a used mailing box, I do believe I got Mr. Super’s present in this one:

I then had a bunch of scrapbook paper, 12×12 size, that was just sitting in one of my drawers.

And then I cut them into strips and different sizes with a paper cutter, because I totally suck at cutting in a straight line.

Then I grabbed glue. I like this kind of glue

And I grabbed a strip of paper and put glue all over the back of it. I started with the corners of the box, because I figured those would be the biggest pain in the ass. They were.

The good thing about this glue was that it dried clear. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to be neat about it. I just kept putting strips of paper on the corners and worked my way in.

To fill up the sides of the boxes I used scraps, or cut the long strips in half. It really didn’t take long at all, maybe 5-10 minutes per box.

I then decided how many boxes I would need, and what they would be for. So I cut a little strip of paper, turned it over to the white side, wrote the name of what was to be in the box on it in black marker and glue that to the front. So it turned out something like this:

And about an hour later, I had boxes for all the stuff in my closet

That’s so much better! Much more organized, though by no means perfect. And totally free.

Except…do you see that on the top shelf? Do you see that? Next to the humidifier? The black and silver thing. You know what that is, dear readers? DO YOU KNOW!?

IT’S A COMPUTER MOUSE! AND ITS NOT MINE! Why the HELL is a computer mouse in the bathroom closet? Your guess is as good as mine. And THAT is part of the reason why I did this. Not that pretty labeled boxes are going to stop somebody from putting some DUMB shit where it doesn’t belong, but one can always hope!

Clean This…

I don’t know about you all, but I’m constantly wiping off my counters. The damn things don’t stay clean. And as soon as I do clean them, I’ve started cooking again, which means they are dirty again. I go through a whole lot of spray cleaner.

I generally make my own cleaner. It doesn’t take long and it’s super easy on the pocket book. I figure the $3.00 I would spend on some all purpose chemical laden cleaner at the store could be more well used buying something else like kitchen gadgets. Or beer. Or ammo. Or the new Conan The Barbarian. (Ok, TERRIBLE movie, but who cares when Jason Momoa looks like that?!?)

Every once in awhile I’ve been known to splurge on a store bought cleaner. Yeah, it’s pretty pathetic. But I’m a scent person. It’s what I do for a living. So I’m constantly in search of new smells and when I run across a cleaner that smells great, I’ll pick it up. About once a year I do this. Most of the time though, I just make my own and make it smell like whatever I want. Within reason.

The recipe I have calls for castile soap of the liquid variety. Now, I’m a soapmaker by trade (I’ll spare you the shameless plug) but I’m not a fan of making liquid soaps. I like making bar soap and although you CAN make liquid cleaner out of bar soap it’s far more a pain in the ass than just using liquid. And the liquid works better for this purpose.

So I’ve got a tiny bottle of Dr. Bronners Castile Soap. Lavender scented. Beautiful. They also make Peppermint which is awesome. It works great in the shower too. Makes you feel clean especially in summer when you’re all sweaty. Course, I think Mr Super said it best when he used it for the first time. He said to me

“I don’t think I like that peppermint liquid soap in the shower. Can I have more of your soap instead? That peppermint soap feels like someone blew me with an altoid.”

Classy. But kinda true.

ANYWAY, vulgar side notes aside, this recipe is super easy and it works really well. You can always opt for unscented liquid castile soap and add some essential oils to make your own favorite scent.

So first you need your liquid castile

Like I said, I opted for lavender. But you can do any scent you want, or no scent at all, or add scent later. So versatile!

Now you are going to measure about 1 tsp of this stuff into a bowl.

Once you’ve done that you want to add 3 TB of lemon juice. Man, Lemon Lavender. That smells sooooo good.

Mix that up a bit. It’ll look a bit funky, that’s ok, don’t worry. It’ll incorporate. If you want to scent your cleaner, do it now by adding 10 drops of essential oils like lavender, orange, or time. Edible essential oils are best (if you are going to be cleaning counters), and stir that up a bit too.

Don’t worry about the funky consistency. Just stir it up a bit. Now add 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. And stir that too.

Once that’s nice and mixed up, go ahead and pour it into a spray bottle. I just reuse an old sprayer bottle from some natural cleaner I bought awhile ago. Whatever works for you.

And you’ve got yourself a bunch of all purpose cleaner!

When you do the math on this it’s really super cheap. When you figure a 4oz bottle of that liquid castile soap is about $5 and will last you FOREVER considering this stuff only uses 1 tsp of it, vinegar is cheap, lemon juice is cheap, etc, it’s a great deal. It’s also totally customizable.

And don’t worry. You’re kitchen won’t smell like vinegar. The scent dissipates. Truth be told you could use straight vinegar and water and have the same effect, but this is fancier. It has a nicer smell. And I just like it more damnit!

Here’s the recipe

——–

All Purpose Spray Cleaner

1 tsp liquid castile soap, scented or unscented

3 TB lemon or grapefruit juice

10 drops of lavender, thyme, orange or peppermint essential oils–optional

1/4 cup of white vinegar

2 cups warm water

Combine soap and juice. Mix well, consistency will be a little cloudy. Add essential oils and stir.  Add vinegar and water, stir well, pour into spray bottle. Shake before using. Label the bottle well.

Have A Chuck Fest & Other Nonsense

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a very strange reaction to any drama in my life. Some people drink. Other people cry. Even some other people shop. I have what I call “chuck fests.” I start throwing shit out, donating it, all together getting rid of it. It’s a reaction. It’s an odd one.

I could be in the middle of an argument, in the middle of some emotional or financial drama, and all I can think about is all the crap in my house I could get rid of. My BFF has told me that makes sense to her: A sudden need to eliminate things out of my house as a metaphor for eliminating things out of my life, including the current drama. Ok. I’ll buy that for a dollar. I also have random chuck fest itches when nothing is going on. Just…out of the blue.

I do hate clutter. It breeds. It also means shopping. No one gets clutter without shopping. Shopping in this country, consumerism as a whole, has gotten WAY out of hand. WAY out of hand. Let’s go buy some cheap (or expensive crap) that we “need” because we don’t know what “need” means and because it will somehow fulfill my life (it won’t). I’m not judging, I’ve done the same thing myself.

But now in my 30′s, I’ve grown to HATE shopping. I HATE IT HATE HATE IT! Truth be told I never really “liked” it, but now I despise it. The only time I really like shopping is if I’m at a farmer’s market or a natural food place because I’m a foodie. It’s also depressing cause who the hell can afford $21 a pound steak.

Yet people continue to buy and buy and buy. Then they complain about their debt, their clutter, their mess, their unhappiness.  When you are surrounded by crap, packed into your own house like a rat, you aren’t going to be a happy person. Everything is going to take longer to do and it eventually takes a toll on the psyche. We are animals, make no mistake, and most likely meant to live most of our lives outdoors in the open, not surrounded by dollar store junk from Ikea.

The toll it takes on the pocketbook, on the environment, on the psyche, on the workers who have to produce this stuff has all but made me not go shopping unless I have to and always check thrift stores before I head to a mass retailer. That’s not the only reason. I too have a lot of clutter.

I went through a “I could use that” phase several years back. Tag that on with all the stuff I inherited from my mother when she passed, a love of all things crafting and cooking and a weekly trip to the thrift store, a coupon addiction AND a business at home…well, you get the idea. Not pretty.

I started giving in to my chucking instinct. Give this away, toss that, get rid of that. I don’t need it. And I don’t miss it either. Feels good to have the negative space, the room in the cabinets and drawers. It’s easy to clean and organize. I’ve still got chucking to do. I will always have chucking to do.

Mr. B thinks I’m insane when I do this. He keeps telling me that the house does NOT have clutter. The Texan tries to explain over and over that the less stuff in the house, the easier it is to take care of. BINGO! There it is. I’ll admit, the holidays are NOT the best time to have a chuck fest itch with everything else going on. But I’ve learned chuck fests need not take long.

The following tips are just that, tips. Maybe they will help you. Maybe not. What I WON’T do is push some sun shiny happy slappy self help bubble gum psychology you’re ok I’m ok rainbows up your ass. That stuff never helps, all is does is sell books and make people feel bad for not being a shiny happy person. I live in reality. I am not a shiny happy person. I am not a miserable person. I am pretty damn happy, actually. I don’t need to look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m beautiful and that I’m “worth it.” Worth what?! I know I’m awesome. And you should know you are awesome too (provided that you are…just kidding). Screw all the shit in between. I don’t think giving someone tips on decluttering their house has anything to do with teaching them how to have confidence. SO many organizing sites I’ve been to have the M.O.  “Throw it out cause you are worth it!” WORTH WHAT?! WHAT THE &#(@ ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ME HAVING TOO MANY #*$&@* BATH TOWELS?

I have faith in humanity enough to say that I don’t think MOST people need someone to take them by the hand and whisper sweet ego boosting bullshit in their ear to get them to throw away a fallen apart make up case they’ve had since 1989. I don’t know, guess it just doesn’t jive in my head or something. If someone is a hoarder and truly has a psychological issue (which I think happens more than we think) ok, I can see getting some real help in there. But blowing sunshine up someone’s butt isn’t helping, it’s just being cheesy. Most likely for a buck.

There is a SERIOUS lack of sites out there for what I call “people like me.” I can’t stand Oprah. I have nothing against the woman as a person, but ok really. “Aha moment?” I kept hearing that every time her show got flipped on. She had an “AHA” moment. So?! It’s called an epiphany, which I’m guessing the networks think is too long a word to use for us stupid Americans? But one cannot POSSIBLY have a GRAND life changing epiphany every 5 seconds like this woman. Even if you did, would they stick? I’ve gotten those before, and they are all grand and beautiful in the moment, and then 2 days later you’ve forgotten cause either it wasn’t as important as you thought or it was too damn hard to keep up with.

How about just telling it like it is. I’m going to give you tips on how to declutter your living space. Period. That’s it. I’m NOT going to tell you while you do this you are going to lose tons of weight, be more attractive, be absolutely happy, and it will get you on the road to the life you want. Maybe you have the damn life you want, have they ever thought of that? Or maybe you don’t want somebody giving you stupid ass promises they can’t keep and you just want some real life tips on HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR DAMN LIVING SPACE. Really? When did pop psychology become so pervasive. ANYWAY.

I shall teach you, dear reader, how to have a chuck fest that doesn’t take up all your time.

Rules for a chuck fest

1. You don’t HAVE to be in the mood. If you have things that need chucked, get to chuckin’, it won’t take long.

2. Decide on a time frame. Do you have ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? Grab your cell phone and set an alarm because you aren’t doing it for longer than that alarm. If you do you will get tired, eventually burn yourself out and not want to do it ever again. Trust me on this.

3. Don’t pick a project that’s going to take longer than your time limit. If you set your time for ten minutes it’s probably NOT a good idea to go through your closet. Maybe part of your closet.Pick something small like a shelf or a drawer. Don’t start just pulling shit out willy nilly because you’ll just overstimulate yourself. You can even go room to room with trash bag and pick stuff up randomly without ever having to “take something apart.”

4. Do not be afraid to chuck. Donate. Throw away. Whatever. No excuses. No, no one on ebay is going to want your mustard green hair dryer from 1981. You are having a psychological response to reason with yourself as to why you would keep such a thing and then giving yourself desperate excuses to keep it, because we all know you’ll never sell it on ebay. Even if you did, you wouldn’t get anything for it by the time they take out their seller’s fees, paypal fees, listing fees and shipping. Get rid of it. You’ll like the empty space it creates. If it is not truly beautiful or useful, toss it. You don’t need it.

5. You don’t owe your stuff anything. So you bought 5 bottles of conditioner on sale and you realized half way through the first one that you don’t like it. Get rid of it. I would tell you to give it to a friend but it’s too easy to leave it sit there until the friend comes to pick it up (a friend who probably doesn’t want your crap anyway), so just toss it. Either throw it out or give it to a thrift shop (they will take personal care items). You don’t owe your conditioner anything. You made a mistake. You wasted money, ok, granted, but now you know now to do it again. The “I can use this” mentality is dangerous because you also never DO use it, no matter how much you promise yourself. You can’t USE everything you claim to be able to use. Deal with it.

6. Do not attempt to organize anything right now. “Organize” is a fancy excuse for most people to go buy more shit they don’t need like dollar store plastic bins and BS like that. Just put things back neatly for now. Wipe a shelf or two. Then once you get that whole area properly chucked (NOT IN ONE DAY!) you can go back and decide if there is something you can do to make it a little more palatable to you, if it needs it.

7. Go take all the crap you just got rid of and either put it in your car to donate or put it in the trash. Do it. Now. Because you won’t do it later.

8. Be satisfied in the knowledge that you really didn’t get rid of anything you are going to cry over and absolutely need one day. You have more sense than that. You aren’t going to get rid of your mother’s wedding ring or your kids first pair of shoes or your fridge or anything. I wager that you are smarter than that.

That’s it. That’s the start at least. Do this a little everyday. Every other day. When you can fit it in. It’ll get done, just pace yourself.

Please, for the love of god and everything holy, don’t use this as an excuse to go buy or download organizers and worksheets and nonsense of the like. I mean, if you do need an organizer, yay for you. You can get one on your phone. If you need an organizer and actually USE one, you likely already have one and are using it. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have one but would like to be one of those people who DOES use one.

I’ve always been in love with the idea of having an organizer for everything. I’ve even tried that. Scheduling and organizing everything from my business to my home life to my cleaning to my crafts. Quite a bit of money and a lot of guilt later I figured out: I am so not that type of person and I was using creating that little organizer as a way to procrastinate thinking about the house I had to clean, the work I had to do and the thought that maybe I didn’t WANT everything in my life scheduled that way. I kinda like doing what I feel, and as long as my house isn’t trashed, my closets aren’t brimming over, my finances are in order, I’m healthy and happy, well, that’s good enough for me. My life really isn’t in chaos. My life is pretty normal and has a natural organization to it actually. But MAN will those life organizing sites make you feel like you are living in total chaos! Like you’re a dirty, dirty person if you don’t have everything from your dishes to your daily shower gripped by the balls and written on the dotted line. What if life throws you a curve ball? Where’s your damn organizer now? What if you LIKE the curveball? Are you gonna feel guilty because you didn’t check off everything on your list or are you going to exhaust yourself doing it instead of taking that extra half hour to lay in bed and veg out to Mythbusters?

GEEZ Whatever happened to helpful tips, not complete Nazi style overhauls of other people’s lives. I’m not appealing to hoarders here, and I doubt those sites are either. Those people need real help. They live in a dangerous situation. But how about some friendly, down to earth, reality based tips that makes reading these things fun and informative, not overloads of guilt inducing information?

Maybe after reading all those sites you find this particular post boring. It’s possible. Hell, it’s likely. But I’m sincerely trying to keep it simple. I don’t want a window into your life. I don’t want to tell you how to be, what to think, what to create, or how many times a day you should schedule cleaning your toilet.

Just a simple post (well NOW it’s not, thank you very much. NOW it’s a rant!) with a couple tips. Hope you can enjoy the simplicity of that.

If not…well, who the #&$( asked your anyway :P

Measure this

I know so many people that absolutely adore cooking and home shows. I don’t. They annoy me.

First, cooking shows always make me hungry. Seems like I’m always watching them when there’s nothing to eat in the house.

Second, they are totally unrealistic most of the time. Who’s got time to spend like 4 hours on dinner more than two or three times a year? And even then it best have a turkey or a ham or people are gonna be pissed!

Organization and home and garden shows that assume you have a million dollar budget and endless time. I think the people that write these shows forget most of us don’t consider a 500 budget for a new “gift wrapping station” to be frugal.

I used to be addicted to these shows. I really did. Which says something because I don’t watch TV. Like ever.

Years ago I watched everything from HGTV to Martha Stewart. Just for ideas, I suppose. But all I ever felt was guilty that my house didn’t look like that or my little half hearted projects didn’t come out as pretty. You never see Marta Stewart chuck her little paper crafting BS across the room and start cursing God.

I remember watching one of her shows where she made “real” Polish food. I’m half Polish. I grew up in a Polish household and my grandparents were from Poland. I was glued to the TV. I watched her mother, who was supposedly Polish, come on the show and cook these perfect looking fancy shmancy cookies.

They weren’t Polish.

At least. No kind of Polish food I’d ever seen. REAL Polish food to me is full of fat and sausage and grease and the sweet stuff is fried and full of powdered sugar and apricot preserves and prunes. Not wimpy little freakin perfect cookies. I was not impressed.

Still, perhaps just to torture myself, I kept watching the show. And then I remember the day it stopped.

It was an episode where she was in her laundry room. Have you seen this thing? It’s bigger than my kitchen! It has cabinets, and a folding table, and a sewing station. Really? Cool, yes. I’d love a room like that. But really unrealistic for 99% of us.

I started off on a bad foot. F%^k martha and her perfect laundry room.

She started measuring a sweater. I couldn’t figure out why but thought maybe she’s making alterations to it or something. She wrote all the measurements down. Ok.

The she carefully washed it. And carefully dried it in some special manner (she was starting to lose me at this point). And then it happened. She started measuring again. The shoulders, the length, the distance between the armpit and the cuff…I realized with great horror what she was doing…

She measured the sweater before she really delicately washed it and then measured it AFTER so she could gently stretch it back to it’s original size (cause we can’t have it 1/4″ off on one arm, oh no) while still slightly damp.

You gotta be f*)*ing kidding me…

Who the hell has the time for that kind of thing? I don’t know about you but I’m certainly not going to be measuring every sweater I wash in my little crappy, crowded, dirty, cluttered laundry room every time I do a load of laundry. The UNrealism of this ENRAGED me. So I shut her off. Forever. It’s been many a year and I’ve still no desire to watch it ever again.

It’s not the totally ridiculous nature of doing things like that that ultimately made me shut it off. It was a realization: Not unlike fashion magazines and “rich bitch” reality TV shows, programs like that serve one purpose: To make the rest of the population feel bad about their situation and aspire to be more like the people they promote. Why would they want that? Well, probably because you’ll spend more money if you aren’t happy with yourself. You’ll run out to get the latest Martha Stewart collection sweater stretcher at JCPenny and be a good little consumer.

Screw that. My house gets dirty. When I wash as a sweater, I throw it in on delicate and pull it out and hang it on the little drying rack I have. Or if I’m really lazy and don’t have any other laundry to do (which happens like once…ever) I’ll throw it in the dryer on super low dry and keep starting the cycle over and and over again.

I haven’t read Martha Stewart’s magazine in many years, but last time I did, they used to have a calender in the front telling you what to “schedule” for that month. With really important things too like “service the vacuum cleaner” and “service your lawn mower.” Really?!? Who really gives their lawn mowers regular check ups? I mean really? I know “they” (the proverbial “expert HGTV television media Bob Villa” they) tell you to do, but WHO REALLY DOES? You know when my lawn mower gets serviced? When it ain’t workin’ right. Otherwise it’s cutting grass or resting in the garage, not getting a spa treatment and a facial.

So if you are addicted to these types of shows, I challenge you to stop watching them. Live in your OWN world for awhile. I’m NOT the best decorator ok (nothing in my house matches, I can never decide WHAT my style is that week) but I did notice once I stopped with those shows, I became much more accepting of my HOME! HOME! Emphasis on that word. HOME! Not magazine spread. I kind of started liking the fact that I had scattered memories around my house that would never make it on TV. That, even though my furniture didn’t match, everyone that came to my house for a cup of coffee commented on how “warm” a feeling the house had. And when my niece and nephews one year told me that the scent and feel of my home was their very favorite, enough that when a letter from Santa came to their mailbox smelling like “Auntie Jess’s House” (damnit, I should have thought of that but I didn’t!) their mother told them that was because Santa knew that Auntie Jess’s house was one of their favorite smells, and they bought it, it sealed the deal for me. Now THAT. That right there was proof enough that I’m doing something right. That something right had nothing to do with designer jar candles and Ralph Lauren paint.

Don’t get me wrong, this house needs work but it’s mostly for practical purposes. Sure, I’ve got pipe dreams like the rest of us on the how I’d love the house decorated but they are MY pipe dreams at least. Not stolen from HGTV. I’m certainly NOT saying don’t find inspiration, but there is a fine line between inspiring yourself and just torturing yourself or being spoon fed.

I started to notice the further I got from the home and garden TV shows, the MORE creative I got. If I wanted to do something, I researched it myself. I started getting more comfortable putting spins on things. My owns spins. Eventually, those little “spins” became whole new ideas. Some were variations on age old things, others were simply no variations at all but instead a great appreciation with how things were once done and trying to capture that lost art. Some I realized I couldn’t do at all. Ever. (I can’t sew. I really can’t sew. I’d LOVE to, but I’m sewing challenged. I don’t get it. 3 classes and a private lesson later I still have no idea.)

There are hard and fast rules to anything. You don’t wanna mess with certain things. Primer comes before paint. The chicken should be cooked at 350. Strawberry jam needs processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes,  no less. But other things are pretty obvious. If there’s a different way to do something, try it. Do what makes it easier, or do what improves upon it and don’t be afraid it’s not gonna look magazine perfect. Get pissed at it. Then pick it up and try again. Or realize you simply don’t like it and no one can make you. And don’t feel bad about that.

Learn the difference between inspiration and instruction. Somethings are meant to be literally taken and done, others are just ideas. When it’s literal, it’s usually really obvious.

I’m not demanding you shut off the TV, you can do what you like, but try to take it at face value. It’s entertainment. Nothing more. You live in the real world, with a REAL budget, real problems, real time constraints and real ideas. Oh no! You can’t make duck with cranberry sauce and lightly sauteed scallions for dinner! SFW. You’re family will eat your cheesy chicken and broccoli and like it better. Probably more. Oh no! You’re carpet doesn’t match your couch! Well, maybe if the dog would stop tracking in mud it would, but who’s going to buy a new couch and send $300 having their carpet shampooed when bills need paid? Take some Spot Shot and do your best with it when you get a free moment. If that doesn’t work, pass it off as Fido’s art work. You’ve got other things to worry about I’m sure. No one is gonna judge you on your stained carpet. And if they do, tell them to get the hell out of your house.

And I highly doubt, regardless of what TV tells you, that you have time to stretch a damn sweater.

It’s a power thing

I have a job. I work from home, I own my own business. But I also take care of a home. I MAKE this place a home. And I love doing it. I find it sacred. I actually LIKE cleaning. This could be my half Polish blood talking (ok, it is). I HATE the word homemaker. It sounds so 50′s housewife. That is NOT me, as you probably can already tell. I do nothing different that what many a woman before me have done since the dawn of time: I rule my Queendom. There’s some finesse involved, yes, one doesn’t want to be an overbearing ruler. No one should ever EXPECT or DEMAND that you do all this, but if it’s appreciated and welcomed and respected, it’s one hell of a great thing to do. The sun rises and sets on your home. Plus, if you are in charge of the laundry and the food you can always put Icy Hot in the boxer shorts and poison the food (lest they forget…).

But it’s responsibility and work and it’s lovely. Cleaning is one of these tasks. I like the phrase “housebitch duties.” Yeah, I know, it’s offensive, but own it. It doesn’t have to mean “women’s work”, cause I systematically make the guys do it too. It’s only offensive when you take it that way. Make it your own! I can’t stand PC terms, they drive me insane. Have a sense of humor!

That being said, my life does NOT consist of bouncing around my kitchen in an apron and high heels getting meatloaf in the oven by 5. No. LOL. Oh boy no. And anything that will make my duties faster or easier so that I can do some other crazy crap is all good by me. So I have a robot.

Yes, I have a Roomba. Did you ever have a doubt? Home Gadget Junkie. I know.

If you don’t know what a Roomba is, go hide under the blankets and don’t ever admit that to anyone.

A Roomba is basically a vacuuming robot. Check out  irobot.com. They make awesome gifts. They really do. They are a little pricey so there’s something to be said about really considering whether you’d use the thing. And yes, I’ve got the Scooba too. It washes the floor. So there.

This little robot actually picks up WAY more than you expect it too. Here’s the little brat working for me this morning:

That’s right. It’s my slave. I put googly eyes on it so I can look down at it. It’s a power thing. (Thank you American Dad, hilarious episode!)

If you are seriously debating one of these guys, let me quickly break down the goods and bads of this thing:

Goods: You don’t have to vacuum yourself and it’s great for everyday cleaning. It does pretty good size rooms. It gets up quite a bit of stuff. It’s hilarious to watch your dog get pissed at it. It even kinda gets in corners. The newer ones dock themselves and even have a thing where you can set it to get off it’s lazy dock and clean your house on a certain day and time. It has virtual walls that come with it so you can tell it to stay in a certain area. It can go under your tables and couches no problem. It has a spot clean function so if you are too lazy to clean up a spill (like coffee grounds for example), you can pull it out and make roomba do it. It also has a dirt detector so when it finds a really dirty spot, it lights up blue and stays in that space for awhile.

Bads: It doesn’t replace a normal vac. It never will. It fills up really quick and needs it’s brushes cleaned a lot. At least after every cleaning, if not half way through cleaning depending on the amount of pet hair you have. It DOES like getting stuck on things like cords and low hanging curtains. Don’t underestimate this things suction, it’ll suck up your drapes, pennies, pins, all kinds of stuff. Sometimes it gets PMS and decides it wants to stay in only one area of the room. This is really only a problem if you have a big open room like ours, but every once and again it will just miss a big spot. If you have pet hair, be prepared to clean this things wheels and stuff after each cleaning cause it WILL get stuck. They are also not indefinite, the battery DOES wear out so you should let it go dead about once a week. Completely dead.

It’s got this little hair removal tool for the brushes, which is rather awesome. Being a first generation Roomba owner, when I bought my new Roomba and it came with this little tool I was both happy and skeptical. You kind of run this red little tube thingee up and down the brushes in a spiral motion and it’s supposed to remove the hair. And it really does. My Akita is currently blowing her coat and my Border Collie is constantly shedding. If you own an Akita, then you know they are just spectacular perfect dogs, but twice a year they blow their ENTIRE coat and it ends up on the floor in sheets (one day I will learn how to spin yarn and I’ll make Akita Wool! Don’t cringe, it’s no different than lambs hair and lambs roll around in poop. Dogs usually don’t). Anyway, I’ve got TONS of hair, as you can see below. Mind you this is from ONE level of my house AND I vacuumed yesterday.

Roomba Hair Removal Tool

It gets up A LOT of hair.

All in all, it’s totally worth the money IF you are going to use it. Ditto on the Scooba, but that’s an entirely different post.

Some people prefer to just use a stick vac. I hated my stick vac. It didn’t have a hose so it didn’t get into corners. As much as I try to clean, I really don’t want to be doing a full on room cleaning with the vac every single freaking day. Once a week with my Dyson is enough. And the Dyson is AWESOME, super heavy and nearly as tall as me, so you can imagine I don’t want to drag that bad boy out every day either.

Given it’s the holidays, I would love to buy this little thing for damn near every person I know. There are the people who I know wouldn’t use it. My grandmother, rest in peace, wouldn’t use something like this. She’d probably slap me upside for using it and not just using an old style corn broom. The woman STILL used a ringer washer and line dry well into the 80′s. Ohhh, I miss the line dry. AND the ringer washer. I wouldn’t want to HAVE to do that but it’d still be cool to have one of those. They are so gratifying.

Now that I’ve gone completely from robots to electricity free cleaning, I’ll leave you with that. I love the Roomba. And if for nothing else it’s great for days when you wanna boss something around but no one is home