Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dishes, dishes everywhere

Last week (maybe two weeks ago), we had some friends over for a semi-potluck dinner. It was quite delightful as these are friends we live close to, but our busy schedules tend to keep us apart for longer stretches than we like. Here was our menu:

Course 1: Cesar salad with homemade dressing
Course 2: Homemade veggie lasagna and red wine
Course 3: (brought by our dear friends) Homemade brownies with Izzy's ice cream and white wine

Everything was delicious! And I'll take this time to tell you my darling friend's brilliant idea for pre-portioning brownies. She used her muffin tin (standard size). Duh, right?! Brownies don't rise like muffins do, so you just fill each cup about 1/3 full, bake monitoring the brownies carefully (don't want 'em to burn), and let cool before removing from the tin.

Once our friends left, however, a rather horrifying stack of dishes appeared. *Knowing how much I hate doing dishes, I will never ever ever ask company to assist in doing the dishes. So anyone how comes (or has come) to my house, don't feel bad. That said, I'm happy to assist others if they request help with dishes while I am enjoying their kitchen.* It was late and we were tired so we called it a night and went to bed. Normally, this doesn't bother me. I'm very comfortable leaving dishes for the following day Carl to take care of later. :) But this time....whoa. However, it gives me the perfect opportunity to show you how I like to organize my dishes when I DO decide to tackle the task.

  1. Before I even begin to fill the sink, I arrange/organize my dishes according to their shape and size, as this dictates the order in which they'll be cleaned. For example, all the big plates go into one stack, small plates in another, cereal bowls in another, and tupperware is stacked according to shape and size. Not only does this let me see how much of everything I have to wash, I can maximize our counter space (we generally have a pot still on the stove, our pull-out cutting board out and full, and/or a few dishes still on the table). 
  2. This next step might be different for some of you, but we have one giant sink (never again!). So we have a plastic tub that sits in our sink that we fill to wash dishes. After sorting the dishes, I put all the silverware in the tub, throw in some dish soap, and start the water.
  3. As the tub is filling up, I wash the silverware and place it in the drying rack.
  4. Next come big and flat items - biggest plates first, smallest plates second.
  5. Then soup/salad bowls, followed by cereal bowls.
  6. Small tupperware containers and their lids.
  7. Big mixing bowls, baking pans, pots, etc.
  8. Glasses. 

This system allows me to maximize and creatively fill the space of our drying rack. If my drying rack is full and I still have a number of dishes left, I'll let my first round dry and put them away, coming back later to do another round. Now, if you were to talk to Mr. S, he'd tell you a completely different method for washing dishes (cleanest to dirtiest). There isn't a right or a wrong, simply a different.

How do you tackle dishes? Do you spend any time sorting and organizing before you start, or do you just dig right in? 

~Ms. S

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Please let it not be as hard as it looks

So I may have gotten myself into quite a mess while perusing my favorite fabric/craft store. You see, I got myself this Amy Butler mini dress, tunic, & tops pattern (plus fabric to make three of them). They will be amazingly cute once put together and I'm excited about that. But, once I got home I read the pattern. Yeesh! I think my mom may be getting a lot of phone calls to get me through this one. And you'll be reading updates of all my mishaps. You're welcome.

~Ms. S

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Dreaded Shower Curtain Liner

I had one of those moments last week, as I was turning on the water for the shower, where I saw the tub for the first time in a long while. And looked closer. Grabbed my glasses, and practically smashed my face to the floor to get an even closer look. It was filthy!!!! Grime, slime, and muck lined the lower walls, and the corners (which is what grabbed my attention in the first place) were just plain scary.

No time to clean the shower right at that moment, but it had me paying attention to other the shower curtain liner. Knowing the state of the tub, I dreaded taking a careful look at the liner. Yep. As predicted, it was a horrific mess.

Have any of you run into this problem? Please don't answer that question if the answer is 'no.' I have a hard time figuring out the best way to clean the liner, and have tried all sorts of things before with no luck. Too bad they don't come with a manual full of cleaning instructions. (If they do, now would not be the time to tell me!)

Our liner has magnets or weights in the bottom corners to keep it closed even when the water is hot and steamy. The problem, as I see it, is that the weights don't allow the curtain to air out, and they cause the curtain to trap gunk up against the walls of the tub. This also means the bottom of the liner gets gross easily. Mine was bad enough I was ready to toss it and just buy a new one, but my practical side got the better of me. I mean, I don't just toss my jeans in the garbage when they get grungy and need a good wash. Therefore, the shower curtain liner deserved a chance, too.

I cleaned the tub really well, and I thought maybe I could sponge most of the gunk off of the liner, too. But that didn't work well at all. I contemplated risking throwing it in the washer, but decided we don't have enough money to replace a washer if I ruined it. So I did the next best thing I could think of - filled the tub with hot water and a mix of non-chlorine bleach and Mrs. Meyer's All Purpose Cleaner. Couldn't tell you the ratio, as I initially measured, but then just poured...and poured....and poured. I let the liner and our bath mat soak in this solution for 1.5 hours. As I pulled them out to dry, I could see that this had done the trick for the curtain liner, and helped (but wasn't as effective) the bath mat. The best part is that this method didn't require hours of scrubbing needlessly. The scum just came off as the liner soaked. Hooray!

Do you have any methods for cleaning your shower curtain liner? And do you clean it regularly?

~Ms. S

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


O.M.G. people. OMG. I did not realize it had been over a month since my last post!!! My most sincere apologies and gratitude to those of you who still check periodically. Life has been crazy busy what with school winding down, buckling down seriously with job searching, and taking a couple weekend trips. I really haven't done much interesting by way of cleaning or organizing because I haven't had the time or energy to do it. Which is kind of unfortunate because our house could use it at the moment - especially our dining room table. It has been sorely abused and neglected for the past several weeks. Never fear, table of ours, Monday is my last full day (bonus: no kids that day) and after that I have some projects lined up.

Here are some things to look forward to in coming weeks:
  1. Deeper clean than usual (likely to include tips, reviews of tips read in magazines, and things gone horribly but hysterically wrong)
  2. Finally pulling together a cleaning/organizing calendar
  3. Baking projects, as it's been far too long since I've done this thing I love so much
  4. Sewing!!!! Can't share all of them, as some will be gifts, but will be sure to document the processes, as I tend to do things more creatively than necessary
I probably need to channel the energy of one of my students who last week, upon being told that she would be a kindergartener when she came back to school after summer break, leaped to her feet, threw her hands in the air, and exclaimed, "I'm SO ready for kindergarten!! I can do anything!!!!" Maybe with that can-do attitude rooms in our house will look like the ones in the magazines. Maybe. Though I'm starting to believe the only people whose rooms actually look like that are 1) people with waaaaay too much time on their hands, or 2) people with waaaay too much money to pay lots of other people to make their rooms look (and stay) that way. Or maybe both.  

What do you think?

~Ms. S