Monday

And the Answer Is...

Did you guess correctly? That's right, folks, even though I bought this little tray two or three years ago, it still sports the plastic ring that held its original price tag.



The funny thing is, I didn't even realize that I had left the thing on there until I was posting these photos and saw it for myself. This is yet another reason I suggest using a camera as a part of your mess-fighting arsenal, because sometimes it takes a picture to show us the oversights that are right in front of our own eyes.

So am I the only one in the world who doesn't think to cut tags off after I buy something? Once I posted these photos, I went around the house with a pair of scissors and found three more tags, one of them on a rug I bought about five years ago. I'm not sure why I forget to snip tags, but I do know they can give an area a messy feel--and they don't belong in a House That Cleans Itself.

Pop Quiz

What's wrong with this picture?



Take a close look and see if you can catch my "mess-making" mistake. It's something I tend to do all over the house without even thinking about it.

Curious? Check back next week and I'll give you a close up--and an explanation!

Entryway Solution

Does this cabinet look familiar? It should--there's a drawing of it in The House That Cleans Itself. This humble piece of furniture is what gets me out of the door with the things I need, without making a mess in the front hall.

See how neat it looks when the door is closed? On the top is a small tray for my keys and sunglasses.


Inside the cabinet, however, you'll find all sorts of things like tote bags, library books, items waiting to be taken to the car, coupons, our home's "lost & found" department, and more:



My family makes fun of my labelmaking-gone-wild, but if I don't label things I can't remember what they're for.



Perhaps my solution to the entryway blues could work in your home too.

Time for a Paint Job, Part 2

Take a look at the before photos:





and now the afters:







of this little kitchen. Once again, a can of paint and small investment of time gives a great big payoff.

Time for a Paint Job

What's wrong with this picture?



Nothing that a little can of paint can't fix! See how nicked the chair is? Even when the room is clean, that banged-up chair makes it feel dirty.



In a House That Cleans Itself, sometimes just a little time and a fresh coat of paint can work miracles!



So what could use a little painting touch-up in your house?

True Magic, Part 2

See what a difference the Magic Erasermakes near her refrigerator? Here it is before:



And here it is after:



Obviously, she's got "have a new kitchen floor installed" on her future upgrades list, (and the fridge could use some help as well) but for now some simple wiping with the right tool has made all the difference on the floor, as you can see.

I hate to sound like a commercial, but there are few products that I recommend as wholeheartedly as I do the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
Put simply, it rocks.

True Magic

Okay, you've heard me praise Magic Eraserson here before, but this time I'm saying it with pictures. Take a look at these photos from the house of a friend.

This was her kitchen floor before:



Though the black and white tile pattern is a real nightmare to keep clean, she's not in a position to replace it with a more HTCI-friendly pattern. Thus, I suggested we try sparkling things up with a Magic Eraserand some elbow grease instead.

This her kitchen floor after:



And that's why they call it a "magic" eraser!

Sunday

Show Us Your PAS

Do you have a messy PUT AWAY STYLE (PAS) for which you have found a unique solution? I'd love to share it with my readers!

Send photo(s) and description to Mindy@mindystarnsclark.com. (Or, if you don't have a digital camera, you can use snail mail instead. Send your entry to Mindy Starns Clark, PO BOX 38, Drescher, PA 19025.)

If your submission gets used in a future blog entry, you'll get a $10 coupon to use on my website.

So start snapping today! And if you need more info to understand what I'm looking for, take a look back at the last few entries, starting with the one titled Know Thyself. I've shown how I deal with extension cords and batteries. What would you like to show, both before and after?

Battery Photos

Here's what the batteries look like in a naturally-neat person's home:



Here's what that gadget looks like when I try to use it in my house:



Here's my battery drawer now:



Here's my dead battery box:



If this looks like it would work for you too, ditch that silly battery rack and go and do likewise.

More PASes

What else in your home has a messy PUT AWAY STYLE (PAS) for you?

Socks and underwear?

Then use a drawer or container big enough that you can simply cram your undies and socks in anyway, unfolded and unmatched. Who cares?

The garden hose?

Then get a big outdoor pot and toss it in there in a wad. (Or do what I do and buy one on a spool that you can retract by turning the handle.)

Spices?

Then get them off that messy, visible spice rack and toss them into a bin instead, one that hides inside a nearby kitchen cabinet.

Art supplies?

Again, get a bin that's big enough to scoop them into a give that bin a place in a nearby closet or cabinet. ( I still wish I could get back the hours I spent when my kids were little separating crayons from markers-like it mattered!)

What else has a messy PAS in your world? Think about it, then create a system that accomodates it rather than one which is incompatible with it. You'll soon find that things are staying cleaner simply because you anticpated your messy PAS and created a system that accomodated it.

Take a PAS

I’ve been talking about your PUT AWAY STYLE (PAS), that unique habit you have for tucking away any given item when you are done with it. Another such item that probably has a messy PAS for you is batteries.

I have tried so many lovely little battery racks over the years, but those who are housekeeping-impaired simply cannot have them in our homes. Why? Because our PAS when it comes to batteries is to toss them into something, not painstakingly place them on a rack one by one. Simply ain’t gonna happen!

Here’s what we use in our house, and maybe it’ll work for you too. In our mop closet is a box that has been taped shut with just a hole cut in it near the top and the words “Dead Batteries” written on the front. When we have a dead battery, it gets dropped into the hole. Once a year or so, our township has a recycle day and it’s easy just to give them the whole box (and then go home and make a new one).

Near the closet is a drawer that holds packages of new batteries, loose batteries, and a battery tester. When we need a fresh battery, we go through the drawer, use the tester if necessary, and take what we need. If we run across any dead batteries while doing so, we toss them in the dead battery box. If we buy a new pack of batteries we just toss them into the drawer.

Our neater friends probably have a much prettier system. But by analyzing our way of dealing with batteries and creating a space for it, we’ve eliminated a source of mess in our home.

And that’s what a House That Cleans Itself is all about!

Monday

My Extension Cords

See the blog entry "Know Thyself" from Friday, July 17th, for a more thorough description of these photos. And yes, these are actual photos of my cleaning closet, before and after it was converted.

Here are my extension cords as they used to get put away:



See how they make a bad mess even worse?  
Here’s the solution, based on my PAS:
As with most House That Cleans Itself improvements, I changed the house because I knew that I was never going to change myself!