Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chester and the cheese treats

Once upon a time there was a dog named Chester.


Chester's owner decided to start a dog treat baking company called Dog River Biscuit Company. She made Chester the company mascot.
When it came time to set up an Etsy store, Chester's owner decided that there should be a picture of Chester  with the treats he inspired.

So she took a picture.


But Chester isn't a professional model so he didn't know how to pose. So Chester's owner tried again, explaining that he should look at the camera.

So he did. But he didn't really like his hat and requested a wardrobe adjustment. His owner denied his request.

Chester thought modelling was a lot of work.


So they rested and tried again, this time without the hat. But Chester was still annoyed so he made his ears all sad and droopy.




Then, after some more cajoling and a treat of his own...




They got it just right! 


THE END.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dirty scuffed shoes no more

Have you ever heard the fashion axiom that if your shoes and your handbag look good, no one will ever notice that the rest of your clothes aren't designer? Well, I've never been able to test that theory because I've never (or rarely) had shoes or a handbag that were in impeccable shape. No more!

I have a pair of cheap mustard yellow microfiber flats that I bought at a random store in my hometown when I went to California for my brother's wedding last December. I had decided at the last minute to wear a dress I'd had shipped straight to my parent's house instead of the one I brought from home and I didn't have the right shoes to go with it.

Anyway, I love these shoes. They're comfortable, they go with more than you might expect and I always get compliments on them when I wear them out.

However, they are not very well made and they get really gunky really fast. And because they're microfiber and not my typical leather (damp sponge) or running shoes (don't care), I wasn't sure how to clean them until I saw this:



That's a very dirty microfiber sofa, by the way. And here are my very dirty microfiber shoes.


Shoes, sofa, what's the difference, right? Yeah, okay, so this could have gone badly. But it didn't! Following the directions at The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking, I sprayed the shoes with alcohol (at the back, in a small spot just to make sure the color didn't come off too), scrubbed with a Magic Eraser and then waited for it to dry to see if it worked.





And it did! See?




Then I brushed the parts I had scrubbed with my trusty scrub brush just to get the nap of the microfiber back in order. Don't those shoes look new? I'm calling it a resounding success.

So here's what I learned. First of all, the Magic Eraser was not the tool for the job.


It disintegrated. It kept falling apart, like, in chunks. However, since the only scrubby sponges I could find had dark green scrubbers and the instructions specifically say not to use those because the color could transfer, it seemed like the best option. Now that I know it works though, I'll be keeping my eye out for sponges with white scrubbers.

Second, spray bottles are surprisingly hard to find. I went to Walmart, Target and a couple other random places before I found the treasure trove of spray bottles...at the Dollar Tree. Which also had flamingo swizzle sticks, but that's a post for another day.

I'm so glad I was able to fix my shoes. One of the reasons I'm glad I have so much time now is that I can do things like spend an hour hunting down spray bottles, another 20 minutes spraying and scrubbing shoes and yet another hour ironing a sheet so I can take pictures for the blog!

Now if only I could figure out how to remove navy blue food coloring from my cuticles...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Puggle Love

Chester at Wylie Wagg in Fairfax

This is Chester. Chester is our puggle. Ain't he cute?

And those are my feet in my Sperry A/Os, which I wear basically every day. I have another pair, but I like these ones best.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Clean ALL the things!

clean all the things

My husband and I are fans of Hyperbole and a Half. Don't click that link unless you want to spend several hours down Allie Brosh's crazy laughing out loud, spitting your milk, tears rolling down your face, falling out of your chair laughing rabbit hole. Especially don't click here. Or here.

The point is, Flylady has people do what she calls the "Weekly Home Blessing Hour" which is basically the genesis of my own cleaning routine. I never liked the name. Never. Corny, saccharine, yuck. I guess it works for some people, whatevs.

I CLEAN ALL THE THINGS! (Thanks, Allie.)

Here's what this is supposed to look like. Over the course of the week, you do "missions" based on "zones" in the Flylady system. Eh. I tried to get behind this, but it got old really fast. We have a small place and it just doesn't need that much cleaning. Sometimes I'll get in a groove and wipe off baseboards or clean cobwebs out of corners or wipe down the kitchen cabinets when they need to be done. That's enough for me. Then one day a week, you do the "home blessing hour" (yuck) and tackle the things that need to be done more frequently, spending no more than 10 minutes on each item so you don't get hung up on doing it perfectly.

Anything to curb my perfectionist tendencies is good so I like her theories even if some of the practcie doesn't work for me. The other aspects of the Flylady system that have stuck with me are doing specific things on specific days (like library day). I also do baking day (Tuesday), ironing day (Tuesday) and errand day (Friday). Thursday is CLEAN ALL THE THINGS day.

Here's what clean all the things looks like at my house:

1. Dust - Especially when the windows have been open. I don't move knickknacks or dust behind books or anything crazy. Just run a cloth over the obvious surfaces and sometimes over the obvious clutter. Hey, if it's dusty, I'm gonna dust it. Sometimes I'm inspired to put stuff away, sometimes not.
2. Vacuum - Chester doesn't shed much, but he's still a dog so I actually do this fairly carefully. I don't move furniture except the dining room chairs, but I do try to get up most of the hair.
3. Mop - The bathroom and kitchen are moppable so I use a Swiffer dry cloth and then a Swiffer wet cloth and mop them. Both together takes about five minutes. Not as eco-friendly as a real mop, but so much more convenient that I won't change this.
4. Clean mirrors - We have three and they get kind of grungy so a quick swipe of a Windex sprayed cloth does the trick.
5. Clean bathroom - Spray the shower with mildew remover (not great ventilation), wipe down the sink and the shelf above the sink, clean the toilet.
6. Water plants - I would never remember to do this if it wasn't on this list. Also keeps me from overwatering.
7. Change bed sheets and towels - I don't like to spray mildew remover in the bathroom when there are towels in there because it has bleach in it. And the sheets just need to be washed every week, especially Chester's.

The whole thing takes a little less than an hour.

In the Flylady system, she has you do this on Mondays, but that always seemed strange to me. Our regular social engagement occurs every other week on Saturdays. We have four other people over to play Dungeons and Dragons and while they're not the pickiest crowd, I do like the house to be at its tidiest when we have company.

All of this actually keeps the house pretty neat, along with staying on top of dishes, laundry and clutter that piles up on the dining room table and coffee table, which takes maybe half an hour each day. SO the rest of the time I am free to take the dog to the park, do my workouts and run my business. Yay!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Library day

When I was a kid, my mother was a stay-at-home mom for a while. I vaguely remember a system of index cards that kept us organized, which may have been the SHE precursor to the Flylady system that I still sort of follow. I've never asked, but it seems familiar. Anyway, one of the index cards specified "library day" which was good because even as a child, I motored through books. We probably took out Beatrix Potter's entire oeuvre about two dozen times.

Since becoming a stay-at-home mom to Chester, our puggle, I have reinstated library day. I go on Mondays. The main reason I am fanatical about keeping it to one day a week is that then the items I take out are all due on the same day of the week so I actually remember to return them. No fines!

Every once in a while, one of the new blogs I've found through Pinterest comes up with a book recommendation. Generally they're new or very popular books so I often have to place holds on them and wait for a couple of weeks until a copy becomes available. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but it's fun to get emails from the library telling me that my books are ready to be picked up. It's like getting a notification that a present awaits me on the shelves at the Fairfax County Library.

I'm a renewed fan of the library. It's much cheaper than buying books. Plus, I always tried only to buy books that I thought I might read more than once and some of these definitely don't fit that category.

Here are a few of my latest reads. Some are light, beach* type reads. Others are a little more serious. All were excellent in their way. I haven't read Mad Women yet (I just placed the hold today), but I have high hopes.

*Please don't take library books to the beach. I worked as a library volunteer in high school and it was awful when books would come back with sand in them. We had to recover them, which was time consuming and messy. So just don't. Please. Pick up a cheapo used paperback.

Source: powells.com via Alison on Pinterest
Source: powells.com via Alison on Pinterest
Source: amazon.com via Alison on Pinterest

Friday, July 6, 2012

Stains, stains go away

I think everyone(?) gets them. They're those nasty yellow stains in the underarms of white shirts. Well, faced with throwing out three different white v-neck t-shirts, I decided to see if there was something I could do about it.

I remembered seeing a post floating around a month or so back about how to get stains out of clothes so I did a quick search and found this:


Ah ha! With a little Dawn, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, I should be able to get them out. Yay!

So I tried it on this shirt:

That picture has a funky border on it, but no filter. It really is that yellow and gross.

The recipe called for two parts Dawn to one part hydrogen peroxide, plus "some" baking soda so I just sprinkled it on as I scrubbed. I probably used about half a tablespoon on each arm. Then I let it sit for an hour as described and threw it in the wash on hot with a bunch of other whites. I didn't use bleach this time though because on another website I read that bleach can make this type of stain worse.

And here is the result. TOTALLY WOW. Excuse the blurry picture, but you can see that the stain is gone!


Let's look at them side-by-side.


Huge difference, right? I'm kind of amazed actually.

I did try another recipe that omitted the Dawn on another t-shirt that I bought exactly the same time as this one and had exactly the same type of stain. It worked, but it wasn't the amazing transformation that this recipe effected. There was still the hint of a stain so I went back and used the same mixture on the other t-shirt and it worked just as well as it did on this one.

Now I don't have to buy new shirts for a while. That means I can buy this instead.

Source: etsy.com via Alison on Pinterest


Yay!
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