Aug 16, 2010

Housecleaning 101: Fight fire with fire

When I dashed out the door Friday afternoon to scoop up a car load of girls and haul them to the mountains, the house wasn't in shambles, but it wasn't really clean, either. Laundry was done, but not put away.  Bed was made, but I didn't have time to change the sheets.  Dishes were done, but left to dry next to the sink.  You get the picture.

Our return was heralded with suitcases full of dirty laundry, shopping bags of new acquisitions, and quite a few leftover groceries, which I frugally refused to throw away when we packed up our belongings yesterday.  The house-sitting son worked most of the weekend (that's his excuse and he's sticking to it), so tidying up behind us or himself was not high on his list of to-do's either.

So here I am with a clean desk: a peaceful island in a churning sea of wreckage.  (Kind of makes me just want to hang out at the desk all day, but I guess that's not really an option.)

How do I clean a ravaged house?

Conventional wisdom says, "dig in and clean."  Phooey on that.  I figure I should first make a BIGGER mess, THEN I can really clean up.  (Otherwise, I would be cleaning up, only to mess it up again.  Two birds, one stone, all that.)  So instead of launching an assault on the mess, I grabbed some buckets, headed outside and picked grapes.  I should have picked them last week, but I knew there was no way I could squeeze juice- and jelly- making into that schedule, so I took my chances the birds and insects would leave a few for me and indeed they did.  I enjoyed our "cold snap" (those weather forecasters have a zany sense of humor) and sweated and swatted long enough to pick about ten pounds of grapes.  They're smaller than last year, probably due to the dry weather while they were ripening.

As expected, the grape juicing process made a mess - bright purple splotches and stains on the counters and several sticky pans and a Foley food mill to wash up.  Much better to do this all at once, eh?

Good news:  the kitchen is now much more respectable.  Now on to tackle the laundry and get fresh linens on the bed before bedtime!