Monday, December 17, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

When you get dressed in the morning, stick your socks in your back pocket, instead of on your feet. You never know what you might step in between your bedroom and your shoes, and it's easier to clean bare feet than socks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Every once in a while, don't clean up at all for a play date. Just call it "Social Darwinism": nature's way of weeding out the wrong kind of friends.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Housework HORSE: Official Rules

Brief Synopsis:

HORSE with housework. Poker-style bidding.

How to Play:

1. Issue a housework challenge to one or more members of the household. Announce what task you plan to tackle, and how long (or how many, depending on the task) you plan to spend doing it. For example, "I'm going to spend two minutes unloading the dishwasher," or, "I'm going to pick up four toys from the living room floor, and put them away."

2. From the time you complete your task, the challenged party (or parties) has one hour to respond. They may choose one of three responses:
a) Call. They agree to do the same (or equivalent, by agreement) task that you did. If they are successful in competing the task, play passes to the next player, until everyone has met the challenge. Then the round is over, and no one gets a letter.
b) Raise. They agree to do the same (or equivalent, by agreement) task that you did, and also add an additional task of their own choosing. If they are successful in completing both tasks, play passes to the next player, until everyone has met all of the challenges.
c) Fold. If the challenged player does not wish to complete any of the tasks, they may fold, and take a letter in the word "HORSE" (or some clever alternative that has to do with housework). Failure to respond or complete your task within an hour is treated as a de facto fold.

3. Keep a tally of everyone's letters in a prominent location. If someone spells the word HORSE, they lose, and something terrible will happen to them. You can decide what the punishment is for losing, but I'm leaning towards the dirtiest, most hated household chores.

Some Ground Rules:

1. All challenged parties need to be at home when challenged (and not about to leave for a scheduled activity).

2. You must state the parameters of your task BEFORE embarking on it. You can't raise the stakes just because something took you longer than you thought it would, or because you got some cleaning momentum and kept going past the end of your declared time limit. (Aside: You are allowed, even encouraged, to do more than the challenged task; it just doesn't count for the game.) You also can't retroactively issue challenges. I can't spend an hour doing dishes, then sit down and say, "Okay, now you spend an hour doing dishes or you'll get a letter."

3. If you choose a task that only you are capable of doing, or that can only be done once, you must be reasonable in your consideration of equivalent alternatives.

4. Game may be paused by mutual consensus (or parental fiat) for meals or other family activities.

Tips and Tricks:

1. Bid small at first. It's easier to get up off your butt to do a small task than a big one. Once you're both up cleaning and have a bit of momentum, you can raise the stakes.

2. If everyone calls, no one gets a letter. This can be a good thing, and it works especially well when playing with small children, because they like it when everyone wins.

Special Rule: The Shootout

Choose a simple, easily repeatable challenge, like picking up one toy, or washing one dish. Cycle through the players, repeating the task in quick succession until one player opts to not complete the task. That player gets a letter, and the shootout round is over. (Although remaining players may choose to continue playing, elimination-style, if desired.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Step One: Lose a (very) dirty dishcloth somewhere in the house.

Step Two: Deep clean half the house while looking for the source of the awful smell.

Step Three (optional): Find the dishcloth somewhere obvious, like the middle of the dining room table, and wonder why on earth you didn't look there first.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Use what you've got.

"I was doing a quick wipedown of the bathroom and after I sprayed everything with the cleaning stuff I realized my papertowels were downstairs and I was waaaaaaaay too lazy to walk down there and get them so I looked in the cabinet and I saw a box of overnight maxi pads so I just opened a few of those, stuck them to my hands and used them to wipe off the cleaning solution. It was surprisingly effective, I suggest you give it a try (you know you're curious to, now!)" (submitted by Rhian)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crappy Housewife Camping Tip of the Day

When you get home from ten days of camping, make laundry soup. Fill the bathtub with hot water and several scoops of Oxy Clean. Add all of the filthy laundry, and let it soak all day, mixing occasionally. When you're ready to wash it, transfer to the washer in small batches, using a Rubbermaid tub.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Dirty more dishes.

I used to think that the ideal number of dirty dishes was "as few as possible", but I have recently made the discovery that the ideal number is actually "enough to fill the dishwasher once a day". It seems counterintuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. I used to only ever use the dishwasher if I was behind on dishes (which, admittedly, I usually was), because it seemed wasteful to run a partial load, and if the dishes sat in there for more than a day, I would go crazy looking for things I use every day (like my kefir strainer and my DMIUFCEM) and have to dig them out of the dishwasher and hand wash them after all. Dishes that sat for longer also needed more of a pre-scrub (or more of a post-scrub, if I didn't pre-scrub them) than dishes that were washed the same day.

So, my amazing discovery has been that: More dirty dishes = Running dishwasher more often = Actually washing fewer dishes. Hooray!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

When you're taking baby wipes out of a standard wipes container to refill a travel wipes container, flip the container upside-down and take your wipes from the bottom. This way, you don't have to rethread the top wipe every time you take some out.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you have enough dinner leftovers to make another whole meal, pack them up and freeze them. Then, flip ahead a few weeks in your day planner (or online calendar or menu planner), and write "leftover __________ for dinner (in freezer)". This kills two birds with one stone: you don't have to worry about the leftovers being forgotten, and you'll have one day a few weeks from now where you won't have to plan anything for dinner!

(If you're extra geeky, like me, you can make it an event on your Google Calendar, then set a 24-hour reminder so you'll remember to take it out of the freezer.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

When you're doing a big cleaning job, remove the lid from the trash can. It might only save a few seconds every trash trip, but over the course of a few hours of heavy cleaning, it really adds up.

(If you have a cheapo trash can that you have to open with your hand, like ours, it saves you even more time, because you can carry two-handed loads over to the trash without worrying about how you'll get it open once you get there.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Words to Live By

I can't go grocery shopping, because I have no fridge space to put things away.
I can't clean out the fridge, because I have no counter space to move things to.
I can't clean the counters, because they're covered in dirty dishes.
I can't wash the dirty dishes, because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes.
And it's my husband's turn to empty the dishwasher.

No matter what the problem might be, you can always find a way to blame someone else.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Whenever possible, use the same dish for preparing and serving food. Unless your fancy aunt is coming over for dinner, I don't think anyone is going to care if you serve your rice in the pot it was cooked in, or if you just move the crock from the crockpot to the table when it's time to serve the food.

On a related note: Whenever possible, use the same dish for preparing and eating food. For example, I make my morning coffee with a one-cup coffee maker that brews the coffee directly into my mug. No pot to wash! And I make my smoothies in wide-mouth mason quart jars, which serve triple duty. The measurements on the side save me using a measuring cup, the wide mouth lets me use my immersion blender rather than dirtying my big, cumbersome countertop blender, and when it's all done, I can just drink straight out of the jar like a giant cup!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Let your kids sleep in their clothes. That way, when you're too lazy to get everyone dressed in the morning, no one ever has to know.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Get a chest freezer, and stick it right in the kitchen where your clutter-covered-kitchen-table-that-you-never-eat-at-because-you-can't-get-at-it is. I could probably split this tip up into several posts, but here are the reasons I love my in-kitchen chest freezer:

  1. Frozen food keeps colder longer in a chest freezer, so it's not as big of a deal if I don't rotate through the freezer stuff as often as I should.
  2. I have plenty of space to freeze leftovers rather than putting them in the fridge, where they often spoil before I remember to consume them.
  3. The top of the freezer is a huge, flat surface that can be used as a countertop. However, it has two advantages over a regular countertop:
    1. You have to open the freezer sometimes, so it regularly gets cleared off completely.
    2. It is open at the side, so you can set the trash can right beside it and shove trash or vegetable peels right off the edge into the trash can.
  4. When you have easy access to the chest freezer, rather than it being stowed away in the basement, you're more likely to use it.
  5. Several square feet of additional ferrous surface for the kids to put magnets and artwork on.
  6. When you order pizza for dinner, you don't have to worry about making room in the fridge for the leftovers - just stick the whole box right in the freezer. (Added bonus: When you pack frozen pizza for lunch, it stays cold until you eat it.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Don't hide your Crappy Housewifery. Advertise it, and you'll be the most welcome houseguest around.

We just got back from a road trip, and we visited and/or stayed with several friends along the way. At every house, my hostess would say to me, "You know, I normally get so stressed out when company is coming, but I read your blog, I knew you wouldn't mind!" And then we get to relax and have an enjoyable visit, without anyone worrying about the fingerprints on the windows. Win/win!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you're using pasta sauce from a jar, don't waste your time heating it up. Just put the cold or room-temperature sauce on your hot pasta and stir. Not only does this save cooking time and stop you from dirtying a whole extra sauce pot, but it also cools the pasta down instantly to the correct eating temperature for kids!

(Addendum: If you like a lot of sauce, or if you like your pasta to be really hot, you can modify this tip. Spoon one portion of sauce into the bottom of the bowl you plan on eating from, and heat it up in the microwave while you are serving the kids their luke-warm bowls. Then, when your sauce it hot, just put your hot pasta on top of it, and stir it up!)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Buy good dishwasher detergent. I used to think the detergent didn't make a difference. I also used to think that I had to presoak and prescrub all the dishes. As it turns out, my two misconceptions were connected. On a whim one day, I bought a detergent that said something on the label about getting out caked on food. I tried it out on a load of spaghetti dishes that had been sitting for a week. Out of a full load of extremely crusty dishes, I only had to rewash 2 or 3. Those are pretty good odds (considering my experiments with my regular detergent and crusty dishes usually resulted in a 50% rewash). I'd rather rewash a couple dishes than prewash all the dishes. It's simple math!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

At least once a year, convince yourself that you don't have to be a Crappy Housewife forever. Buckle down and commit to some kind of crazy system or scheme. (My annual scheme is Hour-a-Day April.) Really, truly believe that you can change. Work your tail off as long as the motivation lasts.

And then, if it doesn't last forever (which it never does), at least your house is in better shape than it was before. Having a clean house once a year is better than never, right?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Invite friends over for leftovers. You might be bored of them, but they are new to your friends!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Out of clean dishes, and it's almost time for dinner? You could wash some dishes, or, you could have a Finger Food Buffet! Tonight, instead of washing, and then re-dirtying, 4 plates and 4 forks, I piled all the ham on one platter, stuck it in the middle of the table, and we all went to town. I actually didn't even make any proper side dishes today. We just ate our ham with slices of homemade bread, and had some apple slices for dessert. (We eat well-balanced meals most of the time; one slightly lopsided buffet isn't going to hurt anyone.)

Added bonus: The kids think they have won the dinner lottery! They get to eat all the ham they want, and they get to eat with their fingers! I'm the best mom ever!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Don't watch Hoarders. It kinda makes this blog feel a whole lot less funny.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Find a hobby that requires a clean __________. That way, you will be motivated to clean the __________.

Ever since I started baking bread, my counters have stayed relatively clean, because I need counter space to roll out the dough. I don't enjoy cleaning counters, but I do enjoy baking bread, and the desire to have a place to roll out the dough usually outweighs my lack of desire to clean the counters. (If I really don't feel like cleaning the counter, I can always use the machine to bake the bread, but I like the way it tastes better when I bake it in the oven, which is a pretty good motivator. Plus, I have to do find *something* to do for the hour and a half while the machine is doing all the hard work mixing and kneading the dough for me.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Use Vis-à-Vis Wet Erase Markers to label leftovers. They write beautifully on glass (you'll recall that glass is one of the best fridge storage materials), and the ink comes right off with just a little water (and no scrubbing!).

Some other uses for Vis-à-Vis markers:
-leave messages directly on windows/mirrors/fridges/doors for your spouse or housemates
-leave reminders for yourself on things you need to clean (toilets, windows, etc)
-hang an empty picture frame and use it as a to-do list or menu or weekly schedule
-help a preschooler tell time by circling the number on the clock that the big hand will be pointing to when it's time to go
-draw mustaches on framed family portraits

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the Vis-à-Vis marker company, and I didn't receive anything in exchange for writing this post. I just like this product.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Keep a disposable plastic spoon inside the Ovaltine container. That way, you don't have to dirty a new spoon every time you make chocolate milk. What's that, you say, you still need to dirty a spoon to stir? Not if you use a sippy cup! Just screw the lid on, put your finger over the spout, and shake!

Note: Putting your finger over the spout isn't technically necessary, but sometimes, shaking creates enough pressure to open the valve (especially if you are making warm chocolate milk), so it's a good precaution.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

When demoting a worn-out shirt to the rag bag, cut it up. That way it won’t find its way mysteriously back into your husband’s shirt drawer. Depending on what sort of rags I am low on, I cut up new additions differently. If I think I might want to use it as a painting smock for an adult, I might cut the sleeves off (for a child, cut the back open top to bottom). If I need dusting cloths, I’ll cut it into small pieces, throwing away the hems and seams. If I’m not sure what I’ll need, because my rag bag is overflowing, I’ll cut straight across under the armpits, throwing out the top half and saving the biggest solid chunk of fabric for future use.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you have a cookbook that won't lie flat (like the one that came with my bread machine), put a clear glass casserole dish on top of it to hold it open to your page.

Added bonus: If you spill ingredients while you are baking, they will land in the casserole dish, rather than in your recipe book.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Squash your toilet paper rolls into ovals when you hang them up. This slows down the unrolling and encourages people (especially little people) to use less paper. It's not going to stop your curious toddler from unrolling the whole roll, but it will slow down the "yank->whee!->yank->whee!" process, and it also adds a tell-tale clunking sound that serves as an "Uh oh, the baby is unrolling the toilet paper" alarm (which is slightly more effective than the usual "Hmm, the baby has been quiet for too long" alarm).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you're struggling to clean gunk out of a groove, check to see if the item comes apart. I spent years being annoyed at a little gunk-accumulating groove in my hand blender, using all kinds of brushes and pointy objects to try to get in there, then one day I realized that the blade part screws right off. It's so much easier to clean, now!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Choose one mug to be your Designated Mug I Use For Coffee Every Morning. I have a tendency to not wash dishes unless I need them to use right now, so mugs are one of those things that I will shove to the side while washing the dishes I have fewer of, like my one cutting board (I used to have three, whatever happened to the other two?) I only drink coffee once a day, but somehow, whenever I finally get around to washing all of the dishes, there are at least a dozen dirty mugs sitting there. (I suspect that dirty mugs may breed on counters. There certainly always seem to be too many of them to fit in the cupboard once I finally get them clean.)

So, the last time I got all the mugs clean, I chose one to be my DMIUFCEM. As soon as I am done my morning coffee, I wash the DMIUFCEM, so it will be clean and ready for the next day. Haha, just kidding. The next morning, while my coffee is brewing, I search the house for where I left the DMIUFCEM, and wash it out when I find it. It just had coffee in it less than a day ago, and it's about to have coffee in it again, so a quick rinse will usually suffice.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Start a Casserole Club. One night a week, you make two casseroles for dinner, and bring one to a friend. And one night a week, you don't have to make dinner, because a friend will be bringing a casserole to you. It's so simple and brilliant (if I do say so myself). My Casserole Club makes sure that my family gets at least two proper dinners every week: One that someone else cooked for us, and one that I had to cook because I was cooking for someone else (which somehow is a much more effective motivator than just cooking for my family).

For full Casserole Club details, see my other blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Plan a play date on your birthday, so the house has to be clean. Then go out for dinner on your birthday, so your house can stay clean for one whole day. It's like giving a birthday present to yourself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

I don't have a dishwasher so I do all my dishes with a brush and soap. That's a lot of brushing and soaping, and in particular, I get sick of picking up that bottle of soap over and over to squirt it on stuff (liberally!). So I make a little puddle of soap at the back of the sink, next to the faucet and just dip the brush in it over and over. Works great. Also sets a great example for my 3-year-old who likes to squirt soap, glue, mustard and anything else that can be squeezed out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you have a toddler who is always getting into the trash, try turning your trash can around so the lid opens towards the wall.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

What do you do when you're cleaning out the fridge, and you have to dispose of items that are semi-liquid/semi-solid (like soups and stews and spoiled milk)? You can't put them in the trash, or it might leak, and you can't put them down the drain, or it might get blocked up (unless you have a garbage disposal, in which case, ignore this tip).

Put a strainer/colander in the sink, and dump all the soups, etc. into the strainer. The liquids will drip through and go down the drain, and the solids will stay behind, to be thrown in the trash. If you want to be really thorough, run some hot water over the solid gunk to dislodge any sticky liquid or jellified broth before dumping it all in the trash.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

When you're making your morning coffee, make an extra cup for your afternoon iced coffee. Put it directly in a tall drinking glass (so you don't need to dirty another dish later) and stick it in the fridge. If you take sugar in your coffee, add it now, while the coffee is still hot and the sugar will dissolve. Then, when you have a hankering for iced coffee later in the day, all you have to do is add the milk!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If there is something in the kitchen that you need to remember to do before bed, like moving the hot broth that is cooling on the counter into the fridge, leave the kitchen light on. Then, when you're on your way to bed, you'll have to go back into the kitchen to turn off the light, and you're more likely to remember the broth if you have to walk past it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you use browned butter to grease your casseroles, it is tastier, and also, the telltale black flecks stick to your pan so you can tell if you've scrubbed all of it or not. You won't miss a spot!

(Submitted by Shreyas)