I am not a complainer.
Ok, there was that one time…
Alright. ALRIGHT. I’ve been known to speak my mind.
Fine. Have it your way. I complain a lot. But this winter actually DESERVES my complaints. I’m pretty sure I haven’t opened a window in this house for six months. Stale air and stale attitude.
Now that the thermometer is flirting with above-zero temperatures, we can all get serious about sweeping out the winter cobwebs. You can find some extremely thorough “Spring Cleaning” checklists:
Here, and even
But, I like to avoid biting off more than I can chew when it comes to household tasks. Some of those checklists can make the job of “Spring Cleaning” into a “Started in the Spring and Didn’t Finish the List ‘Till Fall” Cleaning. Reasonable expectations make me feel much more triumphant, and that is why I want to focus on using ONE household cleaner in my Spring Cleaning:
White vinegar. *heavenly choir sings and sun breaks through the nasty, dark skies we have been suffering*
Cheap, green, non-toxic, and versatile. This little bottle of grocery-store goodness is something that everyone should have in their cleaning caddy. It was good enough for your Grandmother, and her mother, so its good enough for you.
If you really don’t want to smell like a chip-shop, a Yummy Mummy Club tip suggests combining some orange peels and your vinegar in a glass container before use. So now, you have no excuses!
Here are ten miraculous things you can do with white vinegar: the little greener-cleaner that could:
COFFEE MAKER CLEAN-UP
Check your owner’s manual first. I have always had success with filling the coffee maker’s water reservoir at least half-full with white vinegar. Then, turn the coffee maker on but STOP it in mid-cycle. Allow the vinegar to sit in the coffee maker for about an hour. Then, turn it back on to finish the cycle. Run plain water through the coffee maker until the vinegar smell disappears (usually two-to-four cycles).
MICROWAVE STEAM BATH
Mix ½ a cup of white vinegar and ½ a cup of water in a microwavable container. Heat on high for three-to-five minutes (until it is boiling). The baked-on crust will steam, and then wipe clean with a damp cloth, and lingering smells will disappear!
Combine equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle (you can easily purchase empty spray bottles at the Dollar Store). Wipe the surface with a paper towel to wash away the grime. Finish by shining with a microfiber cloth.
STREAK-FREE STAINLESS STEEL
Use pure white vinegar in a spray bottle on your stainless steel appliances. A brilliant cleaning person told me to follow this with a microfiber cloth and a dab of baby oil to polish!
Mix a solution of ½ water and ½ vinegar; soak a cloth in the solution and wipe all of your fridge shelves — including the notoriously gooey condiment area.
Submerge stinky dishrags in water with ¼ cup of white vinegar, and allow them to sit overnight in the solution. Rinse, and wash in the machine the next morning. Voila! No more bacteria causing that yucky smell.
In a small plastic bag put two parts white vinegar and one part baking soda. Then tie this around the shower head. Allow the bubbly mixture to sit for the day. Remove the bag and let the hot water run for ten minutes.
DECONTAMINATION OF TODDLER TOYS
In your sink add a squirt of dish soap and a BIG splash of white vinegar to clean baby and toddler toys. Rinse your toys clean and allow them to dry.
I got a recent rap on the knuckles for cleaning my wood floor with a commercial cleaner. Apparently all I need is one part white vinegar and four parts water to get a shiny, chemical-free, clean floor.
WASHING MACHINE WIPE-DOWN
For top loading washing machines, pour two-to-four cups of vinegar into your machine and run on the hottest setting. If you have some real issues with machine smelliness, open the lid mid-way through the cycle and let the vinegar sit in the basin for a few hours before allowing the cycle to complete.
Forget the mammoth checklists for your Spring Cleaning, and welcome white vinegar into your winter send-off routine. I’m confident this little powerhouse will become a staple on your grocery list (and not just because you are making these Salt and Vinegar Potatoes with Rosemary).
If you want another eco-cleaning tip, try making your own goo-remover, or if you’re ready to bust out the summer clothes, read about seasonal clothing swaps.
Bad news, anxiety, cranky family members — there are endless reasons to avoid making phone calls. The hand-held convenience of instant messaging, email, and text has given us another way to avoid the person-to-person contact that comes with picking up the phone and actually talking to a real, live, responding, human being.
There are some messages that just cannot — must not — be delivered by email or text message. Bad news, breaking up, making contact for job prospects, interacting with specific or perspective clients, and even asking how your mom is doing: these things all fall into the category of “you just gotta pick up the damn phone.”
Trust me on this. I have had experience doing this poorly. *cough, breakup text, cough*
Having worked in politics, a profession all about people, I also have had experience doing this well. Sometimes, you just have to make a call you don’t want to.
Coping with your phone discomfort by avoiding it is never in your best interest. According to Psychology Today “Avoidance coping creates stress and anxiety, and ravages self-confidence. It's is a major factor that differentiates people who have common psychological problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, and/or eating disorders) vs. those who don’t.”
Plus, if you’re a parent, modeling good phone skills is an important teachable for the little listening ears at home. My 18-month-old can already imitate me on the phone. It scares me somethin’ fierce.
So, how do you jump the annoying hurdle of making phone calls? All it takes is a little preparation, some “jumping in,” followed by a pat on the back:
Prepare for your call by writing down some key information: whom you are calling, what you are calling about, and what “key messages” you want to deliver.
Key messages do not need to be written like a speech. In fact, bullet notes will serve you best. For example:
Our company is looking to host a joint event with you. Are you interested?
We promised my husband’s parents we would have Christmas with them this year.
I’m not able to make the minimum payment right now. Is there any way you can help me better manage this account?
Some light preparation will make you feel more in-control of the situation. You will be less likely to sidetrack, or forget your reason for calling in a moment of fluster.
Grab the Nike motto and “Just Do It.” Overthinking a phone call can lead you to further excuses not to make it.
So, choose a time in your day when you have limited distractions. Find a quiet location, and put your “tools” in front of you. Your tools being:
A pen and paper, or/and
Your computer, or/and
Some people like to stand and pace while on the phone, while others prefer to sit and take notes. Do what makes you the most comfortable!
Start the call with the right attitude. In most cases smiling while the line is ringing is a great pre-call strategy: fake it till ya make it.
If your reason for calling is bad news, deliver it right away. Small talk rarely lubricates a challenging conversation. Rip off that Band-Aid.
PAT ON THE BACK
You’re done! You are such an urban warrior. Now you get to reinforce your success by reminding yourself of the positive outcomes of the call: Did you get what you asked for? Did you make a new contact? Did you handle a tough situation with grace and poise?
You can even pump yourself up by watching this classic Blondie video:
No matter what actually happened on the phone, you need to recognize your development of a dying skill. Modern technology has enabled our avoidance of person-to-person contact. We are more and more afraid to actually speak to a human being.
When I was a teenager, I hated making phone calls to the point that I would often attempt to enlist my mother to do the dirty work (the shame!). My mom was clever enough to see my discomfort and refuse, saying, “What’s the worst that could happen? They say NO?” They aren’t going to beat you…”
I’ve made many phone calls in my life, and mom has been right. So far, no beatings.
Also, very few NOs.
Now that you’re the master of the phone call, try and stop being late. If you’re feeling extra-saucy, you can institute domestic equality this weekend.
It was only a few months ago that my daughter started sprouting hair. Calling it actual “hair” might have been generous at the time. Tiny buds of fuzz were poking through her scalp like the optimistic greens of spring.
I did what any reasonable mother would do at seeing those first follicles: I went shopping for adorable hair bobbles. Clips, clamps, pins, bands, bows — it was like a child beauty pageant dressing room had thrown up into my daughter’s room.
It was clear I needed a tidy place to display and store the chaos of little girl hair accessories.
My criteria are:
Must be able to see our accessory stash at a glance.
Boxes/drawers were are an option —– drawers and shelves are valuable storage spaces, and not to be messed with.
Must be cute.
I don’t want to make it. I don’t do crafting.
Taking a look at some of my options left me with an alarming conclusion: a DIY-solution was my only option. One problem: I don't DO crafting. I'm no Sarah Gunn.
So, I fashioned this easy solution for the crafting impaired.
STEP 1: BUY A HANGING SHOWER ORGANIZER
This is a great option from the Dollar Store.
STEP 2: BUY APPROPRIATE HOOK FOR HANGING SAID SHOWER ORGANIZER
The Dollar Store has loads of styles, and 3M makes great damage-free hooks.
STEP 3: CLIP AND HANG YOUR HAIR ACCESSORIES ON YOUR CUTE NEW ORGANIZER
That’s it. If you were looking for something more complicated, I am sorry to disappoint. We’ve now been using this shower organizer as the hair organizer for months, and have added a few more features to house elastics and hairbands. This system is working well, and should last us for the foreseeable hair-doing future. Enjoy!
If, like me, you want to easily manage life’s chaos you should check out the beauty of crap baskets. Or if discussing crafting gave you a sense of self-loathing, why not hate Martha instead?