Affresh Blog

April 29, 2013

Cleaning with the West Wing


I’m still waiting for the Jetsons robot that swirls around the house and cleans the house, dusting lamps, vacuuming under sofas and loveseats, making the bed and washing to dishes.

Until then – I take a little comfort in my mobile devices making chores a little more enjoyable.
I don’t know about you but I don’t like to clean in silence. It just makes the whole fact that I am cleaning and not, oh I don’t know, shopping or enjoying an espresso and a good book – well, not fun.

So I got in the habit of throwing on a movie as I moved from living room to kitchen to bathroom to bedroom. But I had to turn up the volume so I could hear it over the vacuum or while I was moving from room to room. Then I got myPod. And Aretha Franklin, Adele and yes, sometimes Metallica was in my ear while I did the dishes.

But then I couldn’t hear my phone if it rang.

So I used my phone.

But then I got tired of the music.

Now, though… Now I do dishes while watching old episodes of “The West Wing.” Sometimes it’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Sometimes it’s “Cheers.” And to be honest it’s like a break in my day. A break from the endless news cycle, the newspapers, news alerts, the stack of books on my coffee table waiting to be read, the stack of books on my nightstand I’m in the middle of reading… And don’t even get me started on the emails.

It’s funny how a small adjustment can turn what felt like a chore into a bit of recreation. I’ll take it.

What is your accompaniment of choice? Music? Movies? Tell us!


April 23, 2013

Cleaning for Guests


When my family decides to come and visit me in New York, it’s pretty infrequent and everyone usually makes the trip at different times. However, this past month my mom came for a weekend and then my dad, step-mom and two half-siblings visited the weekend immediately after. From a cleaning standpoint, this was ideal (from a resting standpoint, not so much).

I have to admit, my apartment is not always ready for guests. I sometimes wonder what I would do if cell phones didn’t exist or if I lived in the suburbs and the threat of “drop-in” company had to be factored into my life. It actually might be better if I was forced to keep everything clean. But since I always have ample notice when people are coming by, I tend to clean up just for them.

Knowing that I only had to do one big clean and then just slightly maintain it for the week between visitors really made me happy.

My bedroom is where I jam stuff that I don’t want out in the open. So when we have friends over, I just close the door so everything else looks presentable. I knew I couldn’t get away with that this time and that I needed to do something with all of the clothing that’s scattered around. My husband has an ever-rotating “floor pile” of dress shirts that need to go to the dry cleaners, and honestly, once I got rid of that I was really motivated to keep going. I dusted the blinds, made the bed, washed and folded everything…it felt so good!

The bathroom is something that should be easy to keep up with, but just isn’t. My hair sheds everywhere, so even after I mop and wipe the surfaces one good session with the hair dryer really defeats me. But it’s so much easier to keep up with it when you do a really thorough job the first time! (Have you ever tried affresh kitchen & appliance cleaner on your bathroom sink? I love it!). It makes me want to keep my apartment tidy all the time.

And since the kitchen is the first room that everyone sees when they walk into my place, a clean cooktop and sink are really important. Luckily, I was already on a roll so I just went at it. The affresh products really cut through grime and I felt like the time I normally spent was cut in half. Plus, was I actually enjoying myself?

I was probably just excited that I was going to be getting so much family time in, but I have to say that I was proud to show off my sparkly apartment. And it makes me want to keep it looking nice for as long as possible.

Maybe I can get my sister to visit me next…


April 17, 2013

Spring’s Not-So-Secret Nuisance


I love spring weather – well, who doesn’t? The frigidness of winter slowly dissipates and we’re finally able to remove the layers and layers of clothing we’ve been bundled under for months on end. Grass looks green again and the sun occasionally reminds everyone how awesome it can be. Even the dreaded “spring showers” are usually pretty great too. Rain without the threat of a heavy wind chill cutting through the air can be actually pretty refreshing. And who ever complained about May flowers?

That being said, spring showers can also create a whole new problem for your home – mud. Mud is spring’s little secret no one likes to talk about but everyone has to deal with. Whether you’re working in the garden for the first time since last September, your kids have just come in from playing in the newly snow-free yard, or your dog reclaims his old stomping grounds out back, mud gets into your home a lot easier than it is to get rid of. Like your in-laws at the holidays, mud can get real comfortable in places it’s least welcome.

So how do you combat this unspeakable truth of the season? Well, the easy solution is to live in New York City and not have a garden, kids, or a dog. But enough about me. The best way to get mud out of your carpets is actually the simplest. Just follow these quick steps and you should be good to go:

• Make sure the mud has dried completely, you won’t do much good if the mud is still damp. Now brush off the dried mud as much as you can which will also loosen the caked in mud that’s really settled in there.

• Take either a white vinegar, club soda, or even a little bit of liquid detergent and apply to the mud stain. You won’t need to use much, you’d be surprised how a little goes a long way.

• Now that you’ve applied the liquid, simply blot the stain with a dry rag or towel until the mud comes up. If the spot dries and the mud still hasn’t disappeared entirely, just repeat the process until it’s gone. But remember to blot the problems spots, never scrub. Scrubbing could make the stain spread and your headache worsen.

Now that your mud stains aren’t an issue, go fire up the grill or take in a baseball game. After all, that’s what spring is all about!


April 09, 2013

Don’t think about it, just do it


That’s what my grandmother always says. Whenever I have a problem, a challenge or am faced with anything in life, my grandmother has the same advice every single time.

“Don’t think about it,” she says, with the wave of a hand. “Just do it.”

I know it sounds … like a sneaker ad… But it’s really good advice and it seems to crop up when I least expect it.

But her voice crept into my head not long ago when management let the residents of my apartment complex know that they would be conducting their annual inspections recently. It’s funny how content one can be being incredibly messy – until one is going to have people in her dwelling space.

My spare room was, at one time, used for guests. But over time, as my schedule got busier and guests became more sporadic it went from spare room to catchall. There are extra lamps, a television, my desk (which sadly does not get used enough), a guest bed, boxes (and boxes) of notebooks and … well you get the idea.

Some people like to make an organized plan of cleaning. In some cases, that’s my plan of action. While I have a particular method to cleaning the kitchen, it’s a completely different story when it comes to the rest of the house.

Don’t think about it, just do it…

Even with a weekend chock full of things to do, physical fitness training, wrapping up work items that didn’t get done from the week, writing articles for other outlets that need to be finished by their deadline, I dropped everything suddenly and cleaned out that room.

And it wasn’t just a surprise – it was a relief. Until the other day, I never opened the door to that room to hide the mess. Now, I don’t mind going in there.

I might even clean my bedroom.

I said ‘might.’


April 01, 2013

April Fool’s…fun?


April Fool’s Day is kind of the worst.

It can be especially bad when you’re that gullible person everyone plays tricks on. I say it’s not gullibility at all, I’m just too trusting. Yeah, that’s it.  April Fool’s Day 2005 left me in the middle of the Carousel Mall in Syracuse, NY, crying my eyes out.

But I digress.

Remember Invisible Ink? It was dark blue, you could squirt it on anything and it would eventually disappear. I thought it was great. And when April 1st rolled around I figured I had the perfect excuse to use it.

My sister and I decided to give it a test run while our mom was at the neighbor’s house so we sprayed it all over one of the living room sofa cushions. It was a light colored couch, and we immediately panicked because it wasn’t disappearing fast enough.

The only trick we had in our arsenal was to pour water on it to make it go away. Since the sofa was now soaked, we didn’t know if the ink was gone. So my sister grabbed the hair dryer from the bathroom and started to blow dry it.

Which burned a hole in the couch.

Brilliant kids that we were, we flipped the cushion over and thought we had gotten away with it. We didn’t know adults flip couch cushions periodically. So while at our dad’s house a couple of months later, Mom called, calmly asked what happened and then proceeded to start screaming at us when she got the details.

Long story, short, parents may want to supervise children if they’re assisting in cleaning anything.  And maybe stay away from Invisible Ink.


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