Being Sick Sucks.

This week was a blur.  In the role required by my secret real identity, I work at a university and this was the first week of the spring term.  I saw more people this week than I like to see in a month.  It was crazy.  Their faces all ran together, and in my head they just exist as a singular talking head giving me reasons why they hadn’t registered for classes yet.

As an added bonus, I contracted some sort of plague that wasn’t severe enough to merit sick days (nor contagious with coughing or sneezing) but did call for OTC medication that put me in enough of a fog to make it feel like I was in an episode of Scooby Doo.  Thursday night I got home and crashed early enough to get rest for Friday, and Friday night I took some burly antihistimines that launched me into some funky dreams involving my childhood home and Jerry Lewis (?).  I slept most of yesterday.

Mr Incredible spent yesterday doing laundry.  Wash, dry, fold, put away.  He changed the sheets on Boo’s bed.  Can I get a round of applause for Mr Incredible?  Because he totally lived up to that name yesterday.

As an added bonus, it was raining, so there was no outside time at all.  Boo was largely left to her own devices. She watched more TV than we prefer under normal circumstances, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  At the end of the day, her playroom looked like a Barbie/Superhero Opium Den after a wild night of partying.


I blame Wonder Woman.

Yeah I don’t know why everybody has to be naked and face down, but apparently that’s the rule.  Lucky Strawberry Shortcake has her clothes permanently on or she’d be on the walk of shame too.

I’m better today.  It’s amazing what 20 hours of sleep in 2 days can do for one’s health.

This week we’re finishing the first month of the House Blast.  When I started it on January 1, I had no idea that anyone would pay attention.  I figured a few of my friends would humor me, and it would likely fizzle out (like most New Years’ resolutions do…) within a couple of weeks.  But it became a Thing, and there are 300 cleaner bathrooms in the world because of it.  The interwebs are amazing.

Next month we’re going to do the master bedroom.  I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to approach it.  It’s not like a bathroom, which is all about functionality.  Our bedrooms are where we land at the end of the day.  It’s the most personal space in the entire house, I think.  Without delving into HBO Late Night topics, it’s where we need to recharge and reconnect with ourselves and our spouses (as applicable…).  There needs to be room in the bedroom to allow for us to prepare for the upcoming day.

And that’s how I’m going to approach it.  Stay tuned.  The end result is going to be amazing.


Cleaning your shower doors: Two man enter, one man leave

OK.  Shower doors.  Let’s do this.

The crud on your shower doors is most likely a lovely mixture of soap/product scum and whatever minerals are in your water.  I live in the Desert Southwest, and our water practically has to be run through a sieve it’s got so much gunk in it. We regularly replace shower heads because they clog up from mineral deposits.   A good long term solution if you have hard water is a water softener, but I realize that may not be practical for everybody.  Look into it, though, and add it to your list of possibilities.  The LimeAway website has a great map that lists hard water areas across the country.

There are a ton of “best way ever!” methods on the interwebs to get shower doors clean.  You may have to experiment a little.  Here are the top two methods, using the least-possible caustic products:

  1. Abrasive:  Be careful here, because you don’t want to scratch the glass.  No SOS pads, no Comet or Ajax.  Get a non-abrasive sponge (I like these), use plenty of water, and try any or all of the following products.
    • Bar Keeper’s Friend–this is a fantastic cleanser.  It’s gentle and unless you’re taking out your aggression while you clean (it happens…) it’s unlikely to scratch the surface
    • Corn Starch mixed with water to form a paste, rub on door, gently scrub, then use a clean damp rag to wipe off the paste and then a third clean rag to “polish” .
    • Baking soda mixed with water to form a paste as above with corn starch.  Extra rinsing here.
    • Soft Scrub
    • Mr Clean Magic Erasers.  We all know them, most of us love them.  Personally, I don’t have time for these on any space bigger than about six inches square.  Give me a block the size of a shoebox made out of this stuff and we’ll talk.
    • Dryer sheets.  Seriously, yet another use for these.  Love it.  Get a dryer sheet really soaking wet, squeeze a little plain blue Dawn on it, scrub.  Rinse well.
  2. Sprays:  Sometimes, caustic is necessary.  I don’t like it either, but if it solves the problem well, then once or twice a year won’t be the end of the world.  These methods tend to be the Happy Fun Ball of homekeeping.  Get some gloves, open a window, and put the kids and the dogs outside when you do this.  Please follow all manufacturer instructions and recommendations, especially when they talk about “test it in an inconspicuous area”.
    • Lime A-Way.
    • CLR–this is my personal favorite.  I love this stuff.  CLR ain’t messing around.  It cleans the bejeezus out of a bathroom and leaves it all shiny.  A+.
    • Anything from the Scrubbing Bubbles product line.  This stuff is hit and miss for me but it’s worth a shot.  The automatic thing you hang in the shower that is supposed to magically clean it while you’re off living your life didn’t work, but the foaming cleaner is good for touch-up cleaning, rather than dealing with A Situation.

So try these.  Any or all of them.  When you find the one that breaks down your specific mixture of solid shower grossness, please share it so we can all benefit from your experience.

NOW.  Once it’s clean, the hard part is over.  Maintenance is going to be critical here.

  1. Get a squeegee for each shower.  New rule in your house:  Anyone who takes a shower squeegees down the glass and the walls before they step out.  This means EVERYONE.  It takes less than 30 seconds.  No exceptions.  A squeegee in the shower will revolutionize how you clean a bathroom.
  2. Look into getting a water softener.  Yes, it’s an investment, but how many more times in your life do you want to spend a day scraping hard water off your shower?
  3. Take a good hard look at your personal products.  What  do you use to clean yourself?  Because that’s what makes up a lot of the stuff you just spent two hours dealing with.  I know we love our potions that make us look and smell pretty, but that stuff lingers, obviously.  Simplify.  Invest in greener products, because gentler products can be used to clean up after them.
  4. I’ve seen recommendations to spray your shower down with Rain-X once it’s super clean.  This is a good idea (it works on your car, right?) but be super careful about getting any on the shower floor.
  5. In the interest of full disclosure, this is my shower, unstaged (I may have folded the towel hanging on the door).

    This picture was taken through the shower door.  Yeah.  Who's bad?

    This picture was taken through the shower door. Yeah. Who’s bad?

That gets cleaned twice a month, but we wipe down the glass every day.  This is what I mean by maintenance.  Please note the squeegee, and trust me when I say that that is the tool that makes all the difference.

House Blast 2013

On January 1, I got a wild hair and posted some crazy talk to the Get A Grip Facebook page.  I’d stepped back a little bit from organizing, mainly because it was starting to feel kind of contrived.  Declutter!  Take control!  Blah blah blah!  Whatever!  I needed to find a focal point.

I called it House Blast 2013, and the response has been astonishing (in a good way).  It’s a pretty simple concept:  in the course of this year, we’re going to do a guided, motivated, realistic overhaul of the stuff in your house.  Every day except Sunday (even God rested on Sunday) I’m going to post a task, a goal, an idea, a plan, SOMETHING that is going to lead you in the direction of getting organized, room by room.

I think it’s important to lay down some assumptions, so that we’re all on the same page.

  1. This isn’t your #1 priority.  You’re not anxiously anticipating my daily offering.  You’ve got other stuff going on, and my words, no matter how wise, are not going to dictate your life.  It’s cool.  My hope is that the One Extra Thing that I come up with for you to do is something you can fit into your day without it becoming one MORE thing, which is something else entirely.
  2. You have different rooms than I do.  One month, we may do “guest bedroom” which may translate into “extra room where junk goes to die” in your house (like it does in everybody’s house, seriously…).  We’ll need to trust each other, and adapt.  I’m open to feedback.  If the current month’s room doesn’t have a place in your floorplan, don’t panic.  There’s bound to be something close that will be applicable.  Stay with me.
  3. Not Everything Needs To Be Perfect.  For realsies.  Most of the time, good enough is good enough.  This is about living on the path of least resistance, and not having to dig through a mess just to get through the day.  I read this article on Lifehacker, about Clearing to Neutral.  That’s all we’re doing, just resetting the space and taking it back to the starting point.
  4. I will occasionally post pictures of my actual home, in the interest of Full Disclosure.  In these pictures you will see that my actual home is not perfect.  There are spots and stains and stuff on the counters and all the things that come from living in a home like a real person.  You will also see, hopefully, that when a home is organized, when the aforementioned detritus of daily life is dealt with on a regular basis, it becomes manageable.
  5. I am always going to be open to requests and suggestions.  I have a pretty good idea of how a bathroom gets piled up, but you may have something going on that I didn’t think of.  Tell me.

Five things.  I like that.

January is obviously the master bathroom, or whatever bathroom in your home in which you get yourself ready in the morning.  February is going to be the master bedroom.  Mid February, I’ll let you know what March’s room will be, and so on.  We’re going to focus on the rooms where you and your family/housemates/pets spend the most downtime, which means we’ll be creating your very own soft spot to land before we worry about fixing the “company” spaces.  Your home needs to be comfortable for you, and once it is, it will be more comfortable for anyone else who swings by.

For those of you who are new to Get A Grip, here’s a link to The First Post of the blog.  I started this as a sort of escape hatch from my actual day job, and it has become a lot of fun for me.  I write like I talk, which means there may be a little bit of cursing (you’re welcome to do so as well, but let’s keep it PG-13ish if we can…).  I understand that there’s nothing more personal than the contents of your home, and that some of the things we hang on to are kept for reasons other than utility.  We’ll talk about it here and on the Facebook page, and you can email me at anytime if you want to chat one on one.

If you like what you’re seeing, stick around and tell your friends.  We’re going to keep this nice and easy.  Again, this isn’t about making your home into a perfect palace, because that would be impossible to maintain.  This is about being able to sit down at the table to eat a meal, knowing what you have in your house and where you put it, and not panicking if someone calls you and says “Hey I’m in the neighborhood and I’ll be there in 10 minutes!”

We got this.