Monday, July 28, 2008

Garbage Disposal

My mother's wrist puncture wounds got infected, so that means she now has a huge splint on her left forearm and has to wear a sling. This also means that I have to do most of the housework. I just spent about 75 minutes doing dishes and I noticed, the same as I did a couple days ago when doing dishes, that the black rubber of our garbage disposal opening is a nasty yellow color. I Dawn'd it up and wiped off the crap with a wet paper towel. Much to my disgust, it was filthy!! Not just old (what kind of black fades to yellow anyway?). Feeling very un-green but determined to get the nastiness away from where we clean our dishes, I used many paper towels in the same way to get under the rubber surface, too.

You guys, it looked like FECES. :(

I looked online for ways to thoroughly clean garbage disposals and came upon Tim Carter's article primarily offers solutions for smelly garbage disposals, but the ideas are great for everyday switch-flippin'-water-runnin'-food-crushin' fun. He says, in a nutshell:

Grind up the garbage with the water running into the disposal. Then, when it's finished, turn off disposal and stop it up. Fill the sink 2/3 of the way up with water, then add soap generously; finally, let the soapy water run into the disposal and turn the disposal on. The blades will swirl it around, effectively cleaning up that nasty poo-maker. (Ok those two are my words, not his.) There are many more great suggestions at Thrifty Fun.

Thanks to AboutAppliance for today's image.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 26, 2008


This past week, I house-sat for a family I've also been babysitting for. The family went on vacation to Disneyland for the younger daughter's 4th birthday and asked me to care for their 2 dogs, 2 cats and 2 rats. It was an interesting experience... culminating, on the last day, with the dogs running away and my mother's wrists being punctured by one of them as we tried to lead them back home. She had to get stitches, and it was very traumatizing, but she'll be ok.

I learned a lot from observing their house. Keep in mind that it's a pretty busy household, but here is what I noticed:

  • Box clutter: We had this problem at our apartment, too, of keeping enormous boxes for no reason. And I've talked about it a lot. :) This family had a four-foot tall empty box from a portable air conditioner just sitting in the master bedroom - they got the AC unit two weeks ago, around when I started babysitting! I know that they might want to keep it for the two little girls to play with, but big boxes should have a proper home, either in someone's play area, the garage or in the recycling.

  • Clothes: I have a feeling the little girls are a tad spoiled. I love them to death! But they haven't yet learned the value of picking up after themselves. Ok, fine, they are four and eight, but still! Keep those adorable hampers accessible, not jammed in an already-bursting closet. I do like their dresser system, though, when they use it! The eight-year-old has categories for each drawer, and the "star drawer" is specially for pajamas.

  • Garbage: It was difficult for me to find a trash can in most rooms of the house. The kitchen didn't even have one! So I used some Safeway bags that I assume were for that purpose. Even more sad, the recycling was hard to find as well. I admit, it may be because I'm not used to their system and they don't need/use labels. But I've found in my own living spaces that having a trash and recycling in each room (or at least most rooms) makes things a lot easier. It's funny how lazy we can be if the recycling is even one room away!

I tidied up as best I could (and as much as I dared, for fear of seeming rude), but I was depressed to see that all my work had been erased when I went back two days later to babysit. Toys and food all over the floor! Kitchen table hardly visible! I guess I shouldn't try to change them if all they're paying me for is animal care and babysitting...

Thanks to Housesitting for the photo. :)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sites I Like #7: Children of Hoarders

I guess I never realized how ashamed I should have been (by society's standards) of the state of my house. I'm still not ashamed, because I know that it's not entirely my responsibility. But I found an interesting site for the community of children of hoarders.

Today's site: Children of Hoarders

The subtitle of the site says "for the adult children of compulsive hoarders," but I think it's useful for anyone connected to a compulsive hoarder. There are numerous videos on the site, including "Possessed," which I posted about before, showcasing the long-term emotional turmoil that clutter brings with it. The site is just full of resources, and I think it's great that this exists just like communities exist for children of Alzheimer's patients and alcoholics.

There is a well-run forum, too, so you get the full experience of empathy and support. One board in the forum mentions P.I.S.S., which stands for Post-Intervention Stress Syndrome, an unofficial disorder discussed by the COH community. "P.I.S.S." was coined by a COH member and is brought on by the significant anti-climax that comes at the end of a de-cluttering undertaking. Interesting, and what a catchy acronym...

For me, the fact that I couldn't invite people over during my childhood wasn't embarrassing; it was just something that was. It was a fact of life: all my friends could have me over, but having people over at my apartment just wasn't done after about third grade. My friends were all polite about it, but I'm sure they sensed that something bad was the reason they never saw the inside of my home.

And now, the main trouble of having clutter is the tension between my mother and me. It's hard to actually de-clutter without having a fight most times. But now I know I'm not the only one who has had this experience!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, July 14, 2008

Be Even More Greener

Things you may do to be green but may not do the most efficiently:

In this age of the green trend, more and more Americans are recycling. This is definitely a good thing! But old habits still die hard - you may still choose the wastebasket over the recycling bag out of laziness. I'm certainly guilty of this! But just remember that there are so many things you can recycle! Jewel cases, styrofoam (just find the right service!), many plastics, and the traditional paper/plastic/glass/aluminum. Depending on your location, you might even be able to get money for these things! Think twice about our rising landfills when you want to throw non-biodegradables in that garbage!

Many people have a great routine set every year for spring cleaning, which I truly admire! But you can always do better. :) Instead of viewing it as a horrible chore that you have to tackle on your own because no one else around the house helps, make it a fun family event! Make a game out of organizing and cleaning out for the kids, and devise rewards for the grown-ups. The outings to Goodwill etc. can be fun mini road trips, too.

Shopping green is the best kind of shopping. You feel great about your purchases and can sometimes save money, like when you buy local at the farmer's market. But make sure you get the most out of your experience. Don't buy fancy green products unless you NEED them and will USE them! Otherwise it's just more clutter and a waste of money. For example: knickknacks made of reused plastic bags are great, but are they going to clutter up your home more/will they get any use? Also, try re-using the produce bags when you shop at the farmer's market. I have more about plastic bags if you're interested. :)

Anything I left out?

Thanks to Tales at Twilight for the image.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Safeway is King

Yesterday, my mom and I did a buttload of errands. Some de-cluttering, some not. We were all over the place! The best part of the day was finding the recycling center back behind a nearby Safeway that recycles lots of stuff and offers CRV (California Refund Value). They even take #6 styrofoam (those huge annoying blocks)!!! It was a bit ironic that we found out about the styrofoam though, because we had just tossed a huge collection of styrofoam blocks, after coming up short on recycling resources. (Waste Management told us it counts as garbage in this area so we could throw it out. My mom says they were just trying to steer business their way, which sucks because throwing out styrofoam is SO BAD for the environment!)

Moral of the story: your city probably has some amazing resources that are hidden behind random grocery stores or other weird places! Do some hunting and find these great places.

Anyway, things are looking better every day! I drew up some ideas I had for floorplans when we're ready to move stuff around. I have one for my room and one for the living room. Maybe I'll post them tomorrow! In the meantime, my friend L and I are hosting a hillbilly hootenanny birthday party for ourselves tonight, so I might not post till late tomorrow. :P

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quick Tips

I'm back! I didn't post for a few days because the traffic was really low and it bummed me out. But here's a short and sweet update with some tips:

  • A lot of our clutter was huge empty boxes! I don't know how we amassed them, but I think it was the whole "this could come in handy someday" idea. I was kind of relieved that most of the boxes were empty, because it was so easy to just break them down and recycle them. Try ridding yourself of these space Napoleons (=coup d'etat, really bad joke, etc.) today and see how much more open you can make your home.

  • Always be careful about letting clutter pile up again once you clear it away. Make sure everything has a place and that things go there! A lot! All the time even! If you don't do this, you might end up using every possible flat surface as storage, like we did, and it can get ugly.

  • ARGH BOXES! I'm still bothered by the topic. Let's discuss. Even despite and during this whole process, our living room is still full of boxes, but it's not empty stereo boxes or empty shoe boxes. It's boxes of the things found while de-cluttering that are marked "to keep." Problem is, they're those awful white cardboard boxes with handles that people use for cleaning out their cubicles when it's time to move on. This won't do. I'm thinking of switching them out with something like this in something bright - green or red maybe.

  • The whole box thing has resurfaced because I'm making big progress on our front closet. I mentioned that earlier but I'm still really happy because hopefully soon we will have somewhere to put the boxes so that visitors won't be appalled and affronted by them.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, July 7, 2008


I've become very fond of seeing the dirt and dust washing off my hands after I take a break from de-cluttering. It's some sort of weird relief, like seeing the burden of the clutter just flowing down the drain.

Today I was working on our front closet, and it made for my favorite kind of de-cluttering: old photo discoveries! It's so weird to see my own face grinning up at me from over ten (and sometimes over fifteen) years ago! I was a cute little butt head. Here are some of my favorite photos so far! Check back later and there might be "after" photos haha. Probably not.

My treasured stuffed tiger. I could never decide on its gender, but s/he is still with me today. Ragged and sad.

Don't blame me, it was the 90s.

"No wonder Clark was such a weird cat." - My mom.

Not a morning person. Even on my birthday. Or maybe I was just irritated at photo time.

That's a shark on my face. I don't know why.

I would put dates to these faces, but a) some don't have them, and b) laziness! Always laziness.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wishlist #4: LCD TV

Hey hey it's that time again! That time that hasn't come around for a while because I kind of forgot about it or stopped being greedy. Probably the first, though, since I'm greedy 24/7/52/12/365-6. Anyway, the pictures would all look the same since I'm specifically wishing for a standard flat-screen LCD TV for my fancy apartment dorm in the fall. So I'm just listing my favorite one.

And, to sate your eternal desire for visual aids, I'm listing the top 3 craziest/most awesome TVs I found on the internet today at the bottom of this post. So scroll to your heart's content.

1. Sharp LC19SB24U 19" LCD HDTV - $270

I don't know much about researching these big purchases, but I do know this:

  • I have a good, solid, bulky cube of a Sharp 13" TV that has worked pretty well for 8 of the past 9 years I've owned it. So I kind of trust Sharp as a brand.

  • I want 19" because my roommate and I have had a disappointingly small TV (similar in bulky cubeness to mine) for two years that makes TV gatherings frustrating. College kids: does this happen to you?? In fact, the two of us talked seriously about getting a new TV for next year. Funny since now we'll be living in the most expensive dorm and neither of us can really afford a new TV but whateva!

  • I have spoken. I want this TV. Grey's, 30 Rock and The Office will be oh so much more awesome. I might even start watching House with this glorious TV, who knows. I keep meaning to, but gosh, my TVs right now are just so subpar.

And now! These are not as crazy as I planned! Mostly they are childish! But I know you skipped down here to see what they are, so I present to you: weird TVs!

a. High School Musical TV

Oh HSM. How terrible your actors are. How catchy and stupid your music is. How slutty your stars are. Yet no one can resist you. This TV is kind of awesome, if only for the clever locker storage design and the many brain cells it will suck out of a generation of kids. We can't have them turning out smarter than us, after all. We know only too well how helpless the baby boomers seem in comparison to their kids. What do I click to get Internet? Anyway, there's also an iPod dock.

b. "The Japanese Crazy TVs"

These aren't all that crazy; in fact they're really cute. But I always wonder about the practicality of stuff like this, which you kind of outgrow past oh, twelve, and have to either throw out or declare "quirky" when it's really not. Or I don't know, maybe it is but I don't get it. I could see either of the two TVs on this link in something like Toy Story though. (Incidentally, I hope they don't do any more of those, because I've lost all faith in sequels/etc.)

c. Dynatron

I am so confused by the post stemming from this image, but the caption says that it is "the most expensive TV set manufactured in Britain. Assembled by thousands of highly trained paramecia in 1948, it was called a ‘Dynatron Ether Sovereign’." I enjoy the name and its ridiculous size, so I bestow it on you and your eyes. Maybe you can make some sense out of the link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, July 4, 2008

Clutter Personality

I've noticed a pattern or two as I've been slogging through the living room. Today, as I was starting to clear off the third of three sitting spaces (1: couch, 2: love seat, and 3: big chair that goes with the couch), I thought to myself, "There is SO MUCH PAPER here." That reminded me of this article I read on clutter personalities.

I revisited the article today and decided that, out of the five personality types listed there, my mother must embody at least four, these being: the hoarder ("This might come in hand someday!"), the deferrer ("I'll think about that tomorrow!"), the perfectionist ("Next week, I'll organize everything--perfectly!"), and the sentimentalist ("Oh, the little darling!"). The fifth is the rebel, who's still bitter about mom's nagging to clean that room.

This melee of personality types may make it sound pretty bad, and it is, but I do acknowledge that it could be a lot worse, like those people in the video I posted a couple days ago. But I think the combination of all these deadly personality types makes me understand a bit better just how much my mom needs someone else to take initiative in de-cluttering.

The paper-pileup is definitely a byproduct of her hoarding personality. She brought me up to always consider that something might be useful later and to never get rid of anything if you can help it. But this is only sensible to a point. There were receipts up the wazoo on the chair I was cleaning today, from Jack-in-the-Box nine months ago (that depressed me a lot) to endless printouts from online. I really don't think proof of your Junior Bacon with Cheese is going to come in handy soon OR later. has some nice tips on how to eliminate paper clutter.

Think carefully about what kind of clutter personality you have, then take the appropriate steps to de-clutter yourself! This is a very important step that I'm feeling the weight of right now.

Thank to this site for the image.

P.S. I hope the people who have found this blog with similar projects underway are finding my tips and progress helpful/inspiring in some way! Always feel welcome to post comments about your own progress and projects. :)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gramercy Green

Oh man!!!!!! I just got an e-mail saying that my room change request to be in this dorm of insane perfection for next year went through! I'm on the 11th floor and I'm so excited. Expect dorm room posts soon (it's relevant I swear!)...

You don't understand the adrenaline and the screaming that is happening right now... at 9:30 a.m.

Edit: Sorry I don't think I conveyed my excitement adequately in this post...


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do It Yourself

Well, it's been a busy past few days! Not only with de-cluttering, but with birthdays and hanging out with my best friends for summertime fun and trying to get myself a job. I did de-clutter one of our couches in the living room. However, I sat down on it today and realized it's a depressing spot! It receives almost no light, even though it is about five feet from the window. Of course, this is because one of our bookshelves is placed illogically and uglily between the two! Hmm. I can't wait to start the re-arranging part of our project. In the spirit of DIY thinking*, here's a fun link about how to fuse plastic bags to make stuff! Just don't inhale those hot plastic fumes, kids.


* Ok that's kind of a stretch, from my progress to "DIY" but I don't have much to write about...

Stumble Upon Toolbar