Living without a dishwasher (and how to cope with dish-dirtying aversion)

What is wrong with this kitchen? Look closely. Remember I am very lazy and messy. Your first thought might be that the kitchen is actually clean. And yes, that is quite the anomaly. But the real problem is (dun, dun, dun) the lack of a dishwasher.

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I spent twenty minutes cleaning the kitchen just to take this picture … or maybe I just stuffed all the dishes in the oven … hmmmm… Perhaps one day the truth will be revealed.

 

Now I know many people don’t have dishwashers and they can be considered a luxury like fresh air and clean water. But I’ve pretty much had one my whole life and now I’m spoiled. And I’m already a messy person, so not having one just contributes to the ongoing messiness of the house.

See what I mean:

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Maybe I just need more counter space to stack the dishes?

Because of the trauma that comes with seeing so many stacks of glass, porcelain, stoneware and plastic, and the trauma of having to spend minutes upon minutes with my hands immersed in warm water, furiously scrubbing last night’s mashed potatoes from each plate, I’ve developed what is considered a dish-dirtying aversion––I’m afraid of dirtying dishes. Every mug of tea, every bowl of cereal, every slice of pizza that is set on a plate equals (gasp) more time in front of the sink.

At first I tried to think of ways to fix the problem.

1. Not eat. Ha.
2. Use paper plates. Sigh. That would be bad for the environment.
3. Tape a sponge to MoJo the cat’s paw and set him to task. While the thought of making the cats finally earn their keep was enticing, I knew in the end it wouldn’t work. Their arms are too short and their work ethic is poor.

So I’ve developed a few coping strategies to minimize the dish-dirtying, and I will share in hopes of helping others who also suffer from dish-dirtying aversion.

1. I give you the “paper towel plate”

Anything that is stiff and dry works well on a paper towel plate. Think toast, bagels, cookies, crackers. Be warned that the paper towel plate is flimsy compared to the traditional plate and if not handled carefully crumbs can easily spill from the towel to the countertop or floor, thus creating a whole new mess and a potential floor-dirtying aversion.

2. Another solution I’ve used is the “plate repeat”

You see the same plate can be used more than once, especially if the same food item is being eaten each time. For example, when I make my husband a bagel sandwich for breakfast, I just wait for him to finish and then I plop my sandwich on the same plate. Ta da. Two meals, one plate. Your ability to implement this solution will be affected by the timing of meals (do you both want to eat at the same time?), the gooeyness of the meal (sometimes reusing a plate is just icky. Sometimes.) and your tolerance for pet hair (I’m not sure how it happens, but every used plate has at least one cat hair glued to it).

3. This is one of my favorites: “the package is plate”

By definition, “the package is plate” means the packaging that said food product comes in acts as the plate. It works with a can of chili (just dip the spoon right in), an apple pie still in its tin (put the pie on your lap and go to it), and leftovers from last night (just peel back the foil and dig in).

4. And lastly you can create a “mouth burrito”

This is an advanced move and should only be attempted by those who REALLY don’t want to do dishes. First you set out all your ingredients. Then pull off a small piece of tortilla and put it in your mouth, add a pinch of cheese, a spoonful of beans, and a squirt of hot sauce and then chew. Repeat as many times as needed to equal the consumption of a full burrito.

And there you have it. Jennifer Windram’s strategies for living in a non-dishwasher house. Any questions?

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The Non-Bucket List: Things I’m happy to never, ever do

When was the last time you did something for the first time

In the last twelve months, I’ve challenged myself by starting my own business and speaking in front of large groups of people–on purpose. I’ve finished my first manuscript and sent it off to my very dear beta readers. And I’ve tried new things like petrifying my own fruit and making yarn pom napkin rings for my cousin’s bridal shower.

It’s a great feeling to take on new challenges, but I’ve also taken the time to reflect on the things that I’ll never do, or more than 99% likely won’t ever do–my Non-Bucket List. Here is a sample of that list for your reading pleasure:

1. Fold a fitted sheet. I’ve spent countless minutes of my life trying to force these unwieldy pieces of fabric into a perfectly shaped square or rectangle. I’ve seen how-to videos and picture tutorials, and yet my attempts have resulted mini tantrums and an overwhelming feeling of exasperation. Now they are immediately placed back on the mattress (Okay that was a lie. They sit in the dryer for at least 8 hours before they make it back on the bed) or they are wadded up into a ball and jammed into the linen closet. I see no reason to change my ways.

Silky Green by EvelynGiggles

See, this person has the idea. Just crumple it up and put it away. You will never get those hours spent trying to fold it back. (Silky Green by EvelynGiggles via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0)

2. Run a marathon. I know this on a lot of bucket lists out there, but the thought of running for miles on end is exhausting. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. My argument used to be that running that long of a distance was ridiculous. No animal in the wild would run like that if they didn’t have to for survival. Why would we do it for fun? Then I saw this article: Wild Animals Have a Hankering for Exercise. I guess I was wrong. But that hasn’t changed my stance. I’ll get my endorphins from a bite of chili pepper, or even better, a bite of chocolate.

Frederick Marathon by Ken Morrill

See this woman checking her watch. That would be me. Like every five seconds, wondering when this awful activity would be over. I would have abs just like that too. I already do. They’re just hidden under a little insulation. (Frederick Marathon by Ken Morrill via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0)

3. Hike Mount (Fill in the blank): This is along the lines of number two, but with the added risk of: oxygen deprivation, lightening strikes, fall related injuries, avalanches, hypothermia. You get the picture. I’m all for accomplishing really cool things. That’s why I wrote a book. No need to get frostbite or be airlifted from the top of a mountain due to high altitude cerebral edema, also known as HACE. The voices in my head are scary enough.

Guided Nature Hike Program by USFWS Mountain Prairie

Now this is my kind of hiking. See how it’s relatively flat? And the two girls have stopped to check out something very interesting on the ground? This is the perfect ruse to get other people to stop so you can rest. “Oooh. Look at this rock. Have you ever seen a rock like this?” (Guided Nature Hike Program by USFWS Mountain Prairie via Flickr Lic CC by 2.0)

4. Play with a Ouija board: As some of you may know, I sort of believe in ghosts. I like to think they are all nice, and they’d like nothing more than to enjoy a nice BBQ on the back patio with the rest of us living folk. But I’ve seen too many Poltergeists and Amityville Horror movies for my own good. So why would I invite any old spirit into my house? And then make it answer questions for my own amusement, spelled out, letter by letter?

Ouija Board Ad 1968 by Justin Wilson

Okay, so if you’re going to summon random spirits to your house, this is what you’d ask? “Who’s Debbie’s date to the prom?” Why don’t you just ask Debbie? “Should we go steady?” I’m guessing the answer is no if you are asking a piece of cardboard. (Ouija Board Ad 1968 by Justin Wilson via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0)

5. Drink another Mudslide: In college, I thought this was the best drink ever invented. It had alcohol. And chocolate flavoring. And about a zillion calories. Now, I’m much too refined to drink Mudslides. I drink boxed wine instead.

Mudslide by Stupid Systemus

My mudslides never looked this fancy. (Mudslide by Stupid Systemus via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0)

 

Joady's Bday Dinner for Tracy (2009) by Pat & Keri

I had the college version that came in a bottle. No fancy chocolate drizzle, or glass to drink out of for that matter. (Joady’s Bday Dinner for Tracy (2009) by Pat & Keri via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0)

So, if you are planning to run a marathon up Mount (fill in the blank), where everyone folds fitted sheets at the top and then plays with a Ouija board while drinking mudslides, you can count me out. Unless you replace the Mudslides with champagne. I might reconsider if there is bubbly involved.

The law of diminishing returns as it applies to bed making

There is something magical about a made bed. It creates a sense of accomplishment, tidiness, and organization. It means that you are a doer, an achiever, someone who knows how to tuck in the sheets and fluff the pillows.

Then, there are those who argue that it’s a waste of time. This is because (unless something goes terribly wrong … or maybe right), you will just unmake it again at night when you go to bed. So what’s the point?

For most my life, I’ve identified with both sides of the debate. I love it when the bed is made. It’s like the whole room sparkles.

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Imagine fancy sparkles all around the bed.

Of course, this requires effort and motivation, both things I don’t always have a lot of.

Sometimes, I rationalize that I shouldn’t waste precious hours (okay, minutes) on something so fleeting and meaningless (in the overall scheme of things). I could spend those minutes editing my book, or posting comments on Art’s epic comment thread. (As an aside, Art from Pouring My Art Out has been working tirelessly to break the record of number of comments on a blog post. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over there in my kitty cat pajamas and zebra slippers. As of now, his post has over 15,000 comments. You should check it out).

So, on these days, I leave the bed as is: no tucking, no straightening, and no folding.

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Day 1 of no bed making. (Don’t mind the cat, she’s always looking for attention)

Sometimes the bed goes unmade for days and it begins to look like we sleep in a vortex of sorts.

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You can see the mattress pad has slipped off the corner – this always happens on my husband’s side. I think it’s because he spins like a hotdog on one of those roller things. I, on the other hand, am the blanket stealer.

Then after a few more days it looks like this:

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Now, this is after about a week of no bed making. The mattress pad is off both corners, the comforter is completely sideways, and after a little digging I found the book I lost two days ago.

So, you might start to think that I just randomly decide whether or not to make the bed, depending on my mood, or very busy blogging schedule. Well, it’s not really true. I’m about to confess to something big here: I use bed making to keep my husband’s expectations low. And it’s a very calculated process.

You see, I work from home on a very part time basis and my husband works full time at an office job.  We haven’t set any expectations about who is responsible for what around the house, but I like to do a little cleaning here and there, so the house isn’t a disaster when he comes home.

And, as I pointed out the beginning of the post, there is something magical about a made bed. And when he comes home and sees the bed is made, it looks like I did something with my day. I was accomplished and organized. I achieved something amazing, even if the rest of the house is still in ruins. I can say, “Look, honey, I made the bed.” And his eyes light up and he lavishes me with various sentiments of approval, “it looks amazing” or “yes! I love it when the bed is made.”

Now, the one caveat with this is you can’t go and make the bed every day. More bed making does not equal more awe and praise. It is the law of diminishing returns. More bed making will eventually result in diminished wonder and awe. Worse, bed making will no longer be seen as an amazing accomplishment. It will no longer be seen as special. It will become the expectation.

So, if you ever come to my house and see the bed is unmade, you now know why.

And if you come by tomorrow, the bed will be made. Because, based on my calculations, tomorrow might be bed making day.

Airing my clean, but wrinkly and unfolded laundry

Laundry

Courtesy Boston Public Library via Flickr

Washing machine – check. Clothes dryer – check. Detergent and fabric softener – check. Piles of dirty clothes – check and double check.

I have all the modern day supplies and equipment to do a load of laundry. Yet, I struggle. I just can’t bring myself to sort, carry, load, unload and fold my clothes. At least not on regular basis.

Honestly, I haven’t done a load of laundry in at least two months. And I don’t even really have to wash the clothes; the machine does it for me.

Now, I’ll clarify and say that I am not walking around in ketchup stained, smelly T-shirts. My husband has picked up the slack and lovingly tosses our clothes in the washing machine each weekend. He usually remembers to transfer them to the dryer. But this is where he begins to slack off. Once they’re dry, they sit atop the dryer or on the ironing board or even just live in the dryer for a while.

This where we currently stand with our laundry (both Martha Stewart and my mother will surely be disappointed):

Dryer

One load in the dryer, where it would probably stay for the rest of the week, except there’s a load waiting in the washer right now.

clothes on dryer

Another load on top of the dryer.

clothes on ironing board

And one in the laundry basket on the ironing board, just begging for a cat to come sit in it.

Like this

Like this…

Or this - double trouble.

Or this – double trouble.

Of course, I’m not picking on my husband. This is far better than I do each weekend.

It’s even become a running joke in our house. Whenever I’m looking for something that happens to be in the basement he always says, “It’s in the basement, by the washing machine … Oh, I’m sorry. You aren’t going to know where that is. So there’s this big white box and you put clothes in it…”

He thinks he’s really funny.

But what is it about laundry? Why is it I can unload the dishwasher? Or vacuum the rug? They’re not my favorite things to do, but I still do them.

I don’t even have to use one of these when I do laundry:

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Courtesy Jennifer C. via Flickr

Is it because laundry becomes an all day ordeal, even if I’m not actually doing the washing? Is it because it reminds me of all those Sundays getting ready for the dreaded work-week ahead? Do I just hate going in the basement? (I really do hate the basement). Am I just waiting for the day that there’s an App for that?

What are your thoughts? Is there something you dread and put off until someone else does it? Do your cats go straight for the basket of clean laundry, making it all furry and wrinkly? Are you one of those crazy people that enjoys doing laundry?