Category Archives: Cleaning Up

On Being Frumpy

Isn’t frumpy a colorful word? Love it.

I do not, however, love being frumpy. Which I largely am — largeness being the majority of the problem.

This isn’t a post-baby frump. It’s definitely been at least post-high school, but most likely life-long. (Can juveniles be frumpy?) When I think back to my first days of college, I picture myself in this awful plaid tank top and think wow, what a square. Little makeup, if any. Hair unkempt. Generally unpolished.

And the same is true today. Truer, even. My complexion’s generally clearer, so I don’t even bother with cover-up. Don’t own any foundation. Mascara’s definitely outlived the recommended shelf-life. Hair an undefined color between used-to-be-blonde and not-brown. “Unpolished” comes back to mind, overall.

And overall, I don’t have a problem with this. I’m me. I’m reasonably comfortable in my skin. Primping feels like a waste of time, in that its effects generally wear off quickly. And I just don’t enjoy doing it. I’d rather be doing something else.

But there are times when it gets to me. Earlier this week I was at a professional conference. My attire was neat but not dress-to-impress. My makeup was non-existent — again, didn’t feel a need to impress these strangers. My hair was not in a great state, having had to rush out the door with it still damp.

A woman from a national group was keynote speaker at the conference, and she expressed interest in speaking with those of us working at the grassroots, local level. She seemed genuine about that. But when I tried to engage her in a brief conversation later in the day, it was a no-go. Quite possibly she was a) busy or b) not getting the probably-too-subtle signals that I wanted to converse.

My appearance, though, probably did nothing to help my cause. This … woman? girl? person can’t have much of value to lend this conversation. She can’t keep herself together — how can she contribute professionally? It’s hard to take her seriously.

Having a baby around does not make grooming and primping any easier. We’re lucky to both get out the door in the mornings with all of the items we need. My appearance still just doesn’t rank high on my priority scale. (Sidenote: Chemicals are also a concern of mine here. My hair looks better highlighted, but breathing in all those chemicals during application scares me. And what is makeup but more chemicals? I think part of the reason my complexion has cleared up is that I’m not putting chemicals on it.)

I’m not sure how to conclude this post — only that I’m aware of my frumpiness (frumpyness?) but not obsessed with it. Not really even worried about it. Just aware. And hoping it might disappear without me having to put any effort toward it.

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Filed under Cleaning Up, Personal, Scary Chemicals in the News

Lasagna: A Great Freezer Meal, and Other Updates

Lasagna was on the schedule for dinner tonight. (I’ve started making a Google calendar for my meal plans. That way I can not only look ahead to my plans, but I can look back at what we’ve had recently.)

When the afternoon got busy, I started to worry that there wouldn’t be time to make it. But I remembered, once I got started, how easy it is to make. The time it took to go from meat-browning to slipping it in the oven was exactly the amount of time the baby was happy to sit in her bouncy chair. I use the recipe on the sides of many Creamette lasagna noodle boxes, though I usually find it here. You don’t have to buy oven-ready or otherwise-special noodles. You don’t have to boil them in advance, either. (I use hamburger instead of sausage, unless I happen to think to buy sausage.)

And best of all, lasagna works great for me in the freezer! I like to cut it up into individual pieces and wrap them in foil, then you can slip them in the oven just as they are when you want to eat them. (And you can re-use the foil you baked it in originally for the wrapping.)

What are your go-to freezer meals?


Still not thrilled with the homemade dishwasher detergent. I don’t want to throw it out, though, either. Anyone have a recipe to recommend?

A friend sent a laundry detergent recipe that I hope to try in the next few days!

Baby wore her first two cloth diapers yesterday afternoon. I think they’re still a little big for her — looked like they were pushing her little thighs uncomfortably away from each other. Also, I think I’d like to try the flushable liners and get a wet bag before we go whole-hog. Recommendations for either? Have heard about the Planetwise bags quite a bit so far.

We had salads last night and I still hope to get one down this evening, child-willing!

And one last thing: A blog recommendation. Maria had a great post about “Saving Green by Going Green.”


Filed under Cleaning Up, Diapering, Links of Interest, Personal, Recipes

‘Sell By’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Throw Out By’

It’s a pretty regular occurrence in my fridge that there’s a bag of spinach or carton of eggs that’s not used up by its “sell by” date.  I remember being told that it was okay to use eggs after that date, but … is it really? What about the spinach?

I never really did find out about the spinach — which is especially irksome as it’s the title photo of the following article — but did learn some more about how long things keep.

(I learned it from a Google search.) Here is a Business Week slideshow and article.)

  • “Sell By” is a date for sellers and selling, though it helps you gauge an item’s age.
  • If your fridge is cold enough, milk can last 2-5 days beyond sell-by.
  • Meat should be used or frozen within two days of when you brought it home, regardless of the sell-by date, because most of us don’t keep our fridges cold enough.
  • Ground meats should only stay in the freezer for three months. (Wow!)
  • This article suggests cereal should be used within six months of purchase. I know the boxes are dated generally a year out, though…
  • Eggs can be used 3-5 WEEKS beyond sell-by. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re super-fresh.

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Filed under Cleaning Up, Green Living, Home Maintenance

Cleaning: Let’s Just Say We Did?

I’m not the cleanest of people.

(Or maybe that’s an understatement, former roommates of mine might tell you.)

But in the not-so-distant future our tiny human will become mobile and grabby, and my ways will need to change lest I want to make daily trips to the E.R. I’m frequently pledging to get my act together like most messy people do, anyway.

I have an inkling that I might need to make a cleaning schedule: this room on Mondays, that chore on Tuesdays, etc. But what chores are really worth doing, and how often? If they’re not overtly filthy, how often should you really bother to clean a window?  Vacuum? Dust? What else is there?



Filed under Cleaning Up, Home Maintenance

Scary Chemicals: Help Me With Dishwasher Detergents

Whenever possible, I like to use natural products. For one, they’re better for the earth. But second, God knows what the chemicals in the products we use every day are doing to us. Every week there’s a new study about something causing cancer.

I already use Seventh Generation laundry detergent (although my mom says she’s found it leaves her whites dingy), Seventh Generation dish soap, and the Menards natural toilet and bathroom cleaners.

But one place I’m having trouble is with dishwashing detergents. I used to use the Seventh Generation, but it just wasn’t getting things clean enough. Upon a recommendation, I started using the Cascade Complete pacs, and those work really well (when we keep salt in the water softener…). BUT, they are not natural. Does anyone have recommendations? I’m getting to the end of a bag of Cascade tabs and would like to try something new.

(Also, I’m looking for a good natural stain remover, now that Baby has joined our family.)


Filed under Cleaning Up, Green Living, Scary Chemicals in the News