Tag Archives: housekeeping

My EXPEDIT rolls two deep


I think this picture embodies what is wrong about modern shelf decor. Sure, it looks gorgeous. It looks pleasant and organized. It has coordinated colors. But where are all the books? It’s a bookshelf! There are more vases than books on it. It’s a vaseshelf. Is this all the books these catalog-dwellers own? They must be very involved in their jobs/hobbies/kindles.

My EXPEDIT (www.ikea.com) is groaning under the weight of every cube filled, some with two layers, and on the very top, a row of cookbooks held up with bookends and more cookbooks.

So many books! You can never have too many, right? Our book collection is the sum of my husband’s fascination with Russia, Canada, philosophy, Philip Roth, Vladimir Nabokov, and Proust and my obsession with books about commodities, horse-racing, epidemic disease, and the works of Milan Kundera, Anita Shreve, Ha Jin, along with both of our inability to get rid of classics, art books, and literary criticism.

I have moved this collection personally once, packed it three times, and attempted to curtail its growth many times. I had movers complain about the number of boxes marked “books” (also subcategorized, if you must know, alphabetically for fiction or topic for non-fiction) like I was trying to kill them with my book-hoarding. It’s not SO bad. It was like 50, 2-cubic-foot boxes the last move. Sure, it’s a lot, but I know people with more. I guess they have houses. And don’t move very often. Sigh.

What troubles me, is that there is a little third person in this apartment who is pulling in the books at an alarming pace, not met by either of her parent’s acquisitions or offset by their willingness to part with “History of Ukraine.” And her books take up ridiculous amounts of space on her very own EXPEDIT, since many of them are made of cardboard and only have one line of text per page. Ridiculous.

She’s already two-deep in one cube. The madness is apparently genetic.

20 Domestic Demon Tips

I’m not even going to pretend that I’m any sort of Deity, when in fact the thing that is WRONG with my dwelling is most likely that I dwell in it and make messes of all sorts. Also, the cat. [Sidelong glance across the room. Cat yawns and walks away.]

But I know that blog readers love household tricks like toddlers love cellphones, so I’m going to attempt to give you my list, as totally uninspired as it may be. And just for reference, I’m not taking ideas from any other blog because then why would you be here? You could just go there?

1. To rescue white clothes (not synthetic fibers) from yellowing due to age or stains, you can soak them in 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, then pour off all the liquid but leave the clothes still wet and place them in a plastic garbage bag and tie it shut tightly. Let this sit for 24 hours and then run the clothes through a regular wash cycle. They will have a new life. You can’t do this TOO often, because bleach damages the fibers, but it’s good once in awhile.

2. If you simply can’t get a stain out of an otherwise good piece of light-colored, natural-fiber clothing, consider dyeing it with fabric dye that you can buy at most craft stores. It’s cheap and pretty easy and most stains will disappear under the new color. (Notable exception, oil stains may not.)

3. After cooking, when your skillet is really dirty, add dish soap and hot water while the pan is still hot on the stove and let it sit there on the turned-off burner. The heat and soap gets the de-griming action going faster for later washing.

4. To get an enameled pot or pan really clean after many uses, you can scrub it with powdered laundry detergent and water. This takes of months of stains and build-up.

5. Old toothbrushes make excellent scrub brushes for around sink hardware and along grout. Just spray the with cleaning product and go to work.

6. Speaking of teeth, toothpaste and a toothbrush is the best thing to use to clean pearls.

7. My sister told me that to clean a bad-smelling suitcase (the fabric kind), you can wet it down with vinegar and water and let it sit for a few hours and then rinse it off with water. After they dry, they will smell fresh. It works pretty well!

8. Don’t throw away your dry cleaner bags or the hangers/pins/clips. Take them back to the dry cleaner! I hate throwing away plastic, knowing that it will spend 100,000 years in a landfill. Most dry cleaners I’ve used, are happy to reuse hanger, pins, clips, and undamaged plastic clothing bags. If they won’t accept these things, many plastic bag recycling bins will also accept clear bags and metal hangers can be recycled with metals in most places. Check your local recycling guidelines for details. And if you CANNOT recycle the clear plastic bags, save a few now and then to use as drop cloths for painting, crafts, or under messy projects.

9. When packing up clothes for long-term storage, be sure that everything has been recently washed (on HOT if possible) and dried thoroughly. If you suspect a stain, be sure to treat that area well before the last wash. After the clothes have gone the drier, give them time to dry from the humidity of the drier as well, before folding. Layer the folded clothes with fabric softener sheets periodically in your storage container to keep them fresher. All of this goes for Space Bags as well.

10. Large size plastic salad shells from the grocery store, when washed out and stripped of their labels, make excellent storage boxes for shoes and flip flops.

I use this one!

11. Chocolate truffle boxes also make nice earring and necklace storage.

12. Keep your fine silver jewelry stored in small ziplocks, with the air pressed out, just like the jewelry shops do. Use silver polish only when necessary, as the oxidized silver layer gets stripped off, leaving a new layer silver to be oxidized.

13. Tights, nylons, and other garments made of spandex or lycra can become brittle when dry, so if you haven’t worn them in a long time, put them in a steamy bathroom before putting them on to avoid tears, runs, and snags.

14. It is best to iron cotton shirts while still slightly damp rather than drying completely first.

15. Alcohol will make glass streak free if you pour it over the surface to rinse off the surface. This is useful when you are trying to make stemware absolutely sparkle. The alcohol will evaporate and leave the surface clear without any wiping or towel drying. You need to use 70% ethanol or ethyl alcohol or higher. As a bonus, you’ll also sterilize your glass.

16. To ripen hard avocados, put them in a bag with an apple and tie shut. A day or so on the counter will make them ripe and ready to eat.

17. Instead of recycling all glass jars (from things like pickles and sauces), save some, scrub off the labels, and use them to store things you buy in bulk or that come in non-reclosable plastic bags. You can even put a nice label on the new jar or paint the lid so that it looks nicer.

18. Keep nuts from going bad by storing them in the freezer.

19. Store fresh herbs that are on stems like you would cut flowers, in a vase of water on the counter, instead of in the fridge.

20. Most glues and inks will dissolve in acetone, so if you have a stubborn label or ink stain, you can try nail-polish remover. Just be careful not to use it on silver, or polystyrene, which will cloud.

Kitchen Floor Post

Why is the kitchen floor only clean for 5 minutes? It’s the strangest thing. I feel like no matter what I do, the floor gets ridiculously dirty so fast. Didn’t I JUST sweep? Didn’t I mop yesterday?

And before you are all like, “Shannon, be honest, are you just one of those obsessive housekeepers who likes everything to be sparkling and your ‘dirty’ floor is really just fine and there’s only a tiny bit of dirt over in one corner and you are totally overreacting” let me just say, I am NOT that person. If you have the misfortune to know me, you know I’m not that person.

My floors are not “omg, keep Architecture Digest busy in the hall while I do a last minute swiffer!” dirty, but neither are they “omg, keep CPS busy in the hall while I scrub with bleach” dirty. They are somewhere in between, somewhere like “omg, please let the UPS guy not look at my kitchen floors too closely.”

What would help is the cat making a modest effort not to get his food everywhere. But the cat helping? Surely you jest.

I spent like 20 minutes trying to find the counters, so did not get around to the floors tonight. Not that it would have mattered because they’ll be dirty again tomorrow, much like the toddler who likes to leave whatever she’s been eating on them. At least washing her is adorable…