Ode to a Fridge

The doors open to reveal your soul
Oh, dear, in there is an uncovered bowl
Of eggs, flour, and butter so sweet
For cookies we’d all love to eat

Alas the shelves are loaded down
With food that once was golden brown
But now it sports a fuzzy do
My nose wrinkles and the kids cry, “EW!”

I’ve failed you my lovely fridge
With food that builds a nasty ridge
Of hardened goo along the shelf
I have to clean it off myself

But now you’re clean so off I go
To fill you with things that I know
The family will love to make me cook
When I’d rather sit and write my book.

You’ll hear it a lot around my house.  About every 2-4 weeks I say, “If you want me to buy food, it’s simple– clean out the fridge.”  I don’t tell them when, how, if, where, why.  I figure, if they want FOOD, they’ll do it.  Self-preservation is a great motivator.  Sometimes, the pickin’s in this house are so slim that they don’t delay.  Before I’m done with my reminder and promise of food, they’re in there pulling out the nasty old stuff and wiping down shelves.

(This is where a REAL blogger would post pictures of her gorgeous fridge with a single fuzzy container that looks suspiciously as if it was “grown” for this purpose.  I obviously do not have a REAL blog.  I have pride.  It’s sinful, but hey… I tell it like it is.)

Other times,, they wait a day or three.  Those always crack me up.  They’ll ask what is for lunch and I’ll tell ’em– “Leftovers.”  Of course, most of the leftovers in there are sporting fuzz. So, those things get pulled out.  They used to get put back, but someone (I have rocket scientists for kids) figured out that if you just put them in the sink, there’s less to do on clean out day.

Now, if they’d just figure out that there’s almost no clean out day if they just keep what goes IN, coming back out for a meal…

MMMWWWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAA

Yeah, right.

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Cleanly Beautiful…

I tend to think of beautification as a project.  Making something, arranging something, organizing… I rarely think of cleaning as a beautification process.  I wonder why that is?  I mean, what else could cleaning be?

Yesterday I woke up feeling out of sorts.  One of my earliest posts of the day on my stamping board was,

I woke up today and thought, “I’m not happy,” so, I looked around me and started doing things that would make me happy.  A little decluttering and some Murphy’s Oil Soap and I’ll feel a lot better.

It did too.  A few hours later I posted on Facebook, “Today, happy smells like Murphy’s Oil Soap.”  It did.

I found myself wondering just how often I over-complicate things.  Yeah.  Probably much too often.  One of the things that makes me happiest is when I look around me and my house and life is “clean.”  It’s silly, but clutter stresses me.  Dirt depresses me.  And yet, how often do I ignore those things in order not to obsess over them.  I tend to be very “either/or” about that.  You’d think the queen of complaining about a pendulum could at least balance order and cleanliness, but come on.  Since when am I logical and rational?

I don’t care how perfectly decorated any place is.  I don’t care how amazing someone’s craftiness or artistry is.  If the place is dirty, it won’t look nice.

I have old hardwood floors.  From what the previous neighbor told me (she was here when the original owner moved in), these floors were never sealed.  The people who bought our house were so eager to move in, they didn’t wait for the floors to be done right.  There are times that this bothers me.  After all, shiny floors are pretty.  Because these floors are old, beat up, stained with black marks here or there etc., I tend to let them go much too often.  How silly of me.  The floors are still my floors.  They look beautiful when cleaned.  In fact, when they’re clean and oiled, I happen to like them– just as they are warts and all.

Yesterday I needed an infusion of beauty.  My first inclination was to find fabric I liked to replace the ugly door shade.  Um… yeah.  Still wanna do that.  However, it wasn’t the solution.  Not really.  What good is a pretty door window cover if the doorjambs are dirty, the floor is dirty, and the first thing you see when you step into the room is a cluttered table?    I thought so.

Oh, and you know the old decorating trick about having a large mirror on a wall to give the illusion of more depth to a room.  It only works if the mirror is clean.

Just sayin’.

Inspirationally Speaking…

Rewards.  Have you ever tried to use them for yourself?  “I’ll just finish folding this laundry, and then I can relax and read a book…”  Sound familiar?  If I buy something to decorate with, I often tell myself I can put it up as soon as I get the room spotless, decluttered, and perfect.  It usually works.

But once in a while… and I’ve never been able to pinpoint what makes it happen, it fails.  I stare at my pretty new thing and I cringe.  I don’t want to scrub the walls, declutter the closet, scrub and oil the floors and furniture, and vacuum the couch and chairs.  I just want my________ (fill in the blank) so I can enjoy it.

I used to resist.  Yes, I did.  I resisted.  I punished myself for having anything TO declutter or clean and wouldn’t let myself have fun with whatever I was doing.  Yeah.  I’m mature.  Well, it happens once in a while.  I get realistic.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I bought this vinyl cling tree with tiny little individual leaves (Just in case you ere curious… it took FOREVER to get up and my muscles are still exhausted).  I’ve had it for a week.  I didn’t touch it because I wanted to be a “good girl” and clean up the room and finish some of the things I’ve been putting off for a while.  You know, things like cleaning off the table, scrubbing and oiling the floor, scrubbing the dirty walls, and oiling the kitchen counters.  The problem is, it failed.  Big. Fat. Failure.  Just sayin’.

So, yesterday, with the help of my super strong and thoughtful daughter, Braelyn worked hard to put it up.  I wasn’t going to have something so encouragingly pretty (and in my direct line of sight) sitting in a brown tube forever.  Besides, I need the tube to ship the poster I have for the blog contest.  Just sayin’.

Well, something I always forget is how inspired I am to work AFTER I do something pretty.  It’s like I can’t stand to have my new decor surrounded by dirt and clutter.  It works.

Thought you oughtta know.

Oh, and the tree?  A lovely Decor Element from Stampin’ Up!

Life Lesson #2924820

So… you’d think after all these years, I’d have learned this little ditty.  Guess what?  I didn’t.  I get it now, but ummmmm well, ummm… ok, so I’m just stupid.  Sue me.

Ready for it?  Just because you buy something new, remodel something, replace something… doesn’t mean it won’t need to be redone, repurchased, or maintained.

Example?  Sure, I’ll give you one.  My new kitchen.  I designed it for an easy to clean, simple to organize, and to be a well-oiled machine.  For some idiotic reason, I forgot that I’d have to clean out cupboards, wipe them down, reorganize, and repair things when they got dinged.  I don’t know why, but for me, doing that huge job seemed to tell my brain, “There you go, you’re done. ”  Ummmmm yeah.

I’ve done this with a lot of things.  Couch.  I bought a new one 10.5 years ago.  Guess what?  It’s shot.  I remember when I bought it, I told myself, “This’ll last us about ten years and then we’ll need to replace it.”  So why am I so irritated that I was right?  I thought people were supposed to like being right.

Sheesh.

So, I’m off to organize and clean one corner of the kitchen.  I’ll just do a few sections at a time, tossing what doesn’t make me happy, keeping what does, making everything pretty… it’s a good life.  I need to let myself enjoy it!  And I need to quit thinking that once done means over.  Why do I never learn that one?

Confessions of a Reformed Perfectionist~

I have a natural tendency toward perfectionism.  This was also reinforced by my mother’s constant admonition, “If a job is worth doing…”  come on, finish it with me, “It’s worth doing right.”

I learned over the years (from the time I was small) that if I couldn’t do it, do it right, and finish, I didn’t want to start.  Cleaning, projects, crafts, you name it.  I can’t stand knowing it won’t be perfect so I don’t want to start or finish.  I just exist.  Now, honestly, I do have exceptions to this.  For example:  when it comes to quilting or sewing, my idea of perfect is not “without flaw.”  My idea of perfect in that realm, cooking, and a few other areas is, “Finished.”  When it’s done, it’s perfect… even if it’s flawed.

However, this has never translated naturally for me, to other areas.   For example.  Cleaning the bathroom.  You’ve heard people say that this housewife or that one gave some part of their housekeeping job ‘a lick and a promise’.  I can’t DO that naturally.  If I start to clean, I haul everything out of whatever it is, scour it within an inch of its life, possibly repaint/paper/surface in some fashion, and then start OVER again.  Because I want it “perfect.”  And if I can’t achieve that perfection, I don’t attempt it at all.

Yeah.  Ask me how that’s workin’ for me.  Sigh.

So, in the past year or two (especially since being diagnosed with asthma and all the joyous garbage that goes with that), I’ve tried to do something different.  It isn’t easy and it isn’t necessarily satisfying, but it is effective in its own way.  I call it “efficiency cleaning”.

Take my bathroom cleaning today.  It needed it for a long time.  Yes, we’ve kept the toilet clean, the mirror and sink wiped, and the floor mopped/swept.  However, that’s what I call a “lick and a promise”.  Basically, I’ve kept the biggest parts of the mess under control while not really keeping the room CLEAN.  (see, that perfectionism thing again).  Today, I did something different.  I’ve been doing this a lot lately and it really does make a huge difference around here.  I cleaned.

Pick yourself up off the floor.  I’m not talking about “get it done one way or another”.  I’m talking about not letting yourself get bogged down in minutiae.  So, I went in the bathroom, got my wet rag and squirt bottle, and wet down the wall.  Yep.  I had to scrub walls today so I just did it.  I didn’t stop for ten minutes and fight a corner of dirt that I couldn’t get easily.  I just scrubbed the wall.  When I was done with one wall, I went to the next.  If something didnt’ come off easily, so what.  I kept going.  And going.  And going.  While I wans’t the Energizer Bunny, I was consistent.  I pulled tape from around the shower and scrubbed.  I didn’t get it all but I got off what I could.  I scrubbed everything I could and then rinsed the rag, put away the cleaner, and stopped.

What a concept.

Is that bathroom “clean” in my preferred method?  No.  Is every particle of dirt gone?  No.  Is most of the dirt gone?  Yes.  Isn’t that the point?  Get the dirt gone?  Is it better to have 95% of the dirt gone or none because you’re waiting for that 100%.  If you keep waiting, there’s that much more dirt to get off later when you finally get around to it.  But, if you scrub off that 95%… and then the next time you get 1 more percent… and then the next time maybe one more… pretty soon, you’ll have that thing 99% clean (you can not keep it 100% clean.  It’s impossible. )  Even if you only get 50% of it clean it’s still 50% more clean than it was.

I’ve taken this approach to everything.  If I see a door that is dirty, I clean it.  I used to spend days agonizing over the fact that I didn’t have the time (or lately the strength) to clean all of the doors in the house.  So what?  So I only have one clean door and seven dirty ones.  So.  What.  At least I have a clean door!  Next time I have time I can finish the others or I can do one more.

If every time I go into the bathroom,  I wipe the sink when I’m done, it’ll stay clean.  If every time I go into the kitchen, I move the junk from my little “china cabinet”…  it’ll always be nice and clean.  Sure, the island might have stuff not put away on it, but at least the little hutch is clean.  Something is clean.  I can walk into that room and sigh with the realization that there is one clean spot in that room.

Do I still want all of my house spotless at all times?  Yep.  Do I still want to clean every bit of it all at one time rather than piecemeal?  Yep.  Am I finally realistic enough to realize that having something partially clean is better than waiting for the “rainy day” to come for me to clean it?  (we live in the desert… we don’t get many rainy days)?  Yep.  I finally get it.

And I think things will stay nicer looking living with imperfect cleanliness rather than perfectionistic waiting.