Let it mold.

Oh the veggies in there are frightful,
And takeout’s so delightful
And since the leftover soup’s too old
Let it mold, let it mold, let it mold.

Since the fridge door last was closing
The food’s been decomposing.
That old tuna salad’s growing bold
Let it mold, let it mold, let it mold.

When we finally face the blight
How I’ll try very hard not to gag
But if we hold our noses night
We can load up a hazmat bag.

The eggs have all gone rotten
And the tofu’s best forgotten
But as long takeout’s still sold
Let it mold, let it mold, let it mold.

This was a Monday Mission, which called for re-written holiday songs. For potentially less toxic songs, pay a visit to Painted Maypole.

from behind closed doors

Dear Homeowner,

We regret to inform you that several individuals placed in our care are no longer eligible to continue residence in our facility.

In the uppermost level of the facility, several bagged items have greatly exceeded recommended levels of frost. In particular, the contents of the bag of store-brand Mixed Vegetables have become inextricably melded together.

In the Lower Level, in the departments known as “Vegetable Crisper,” we have become concerned about the rapid degeneration of one Bunch of Celery and several Zucchinis (aka “Courgettes”).

On the Main Level, a large container of Plain Yogurt has only recently expired, yet it is only the most recent such instance. There are several partially used jars of Salsa, Spaghetti Sauce and Various Condiments which should no longer be considered Viable for Consumption. While many are not yet visibly spoiled, our records indicate that these items have been in long-term care far beyond recommended time limits. We have been notified that the opening of the jar of Sweet Pickles, in particular, most certainly pre-dated the birth of your first child.

Additionally, there are many other items whose earthly remains may no longer be identifiable by visual means. There is a glass container which houses, according to our records, what had once been a portion of Canned Black Beans. We consider it advisable that these remains be removed from our premises and disposed of posthaste. Failure to do so may result in additional spoilage and potential generation of new life-forms.

Please remember that while we strive to provided the utmost in Low-Temperature Care, our ability to maintain levels of ick-free storage depends on your upholding your portion of the contract. Should these matters not be resolved in a timely matter, we may consider closing our facilities to further new items.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Your Refrigerator and Freezer

This week’s Monday Mission was to post in the form of a letter of regret. I have done so. Perhaps regrettably. To find more regrettable letters, check your mailbox. Or stop by Painted Maypole.

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you this year? I hope this holiday season finds you well. I know it can be a stressful time of year, especially when you have a lot of people to shop for, and elves to supervise. I’ve heard how those reindeer can get out of hand, too.

Anyhow, as you probably guessed, I’m writing to ask you for what I want for Christmas.

I really have enough stuff, thanks, so I don’t need any trinkets or doodads. I’ve got more books than I have time to read, more DVDs than I have time to watch, more cooking equipment than I have time to use. We have far too much stuff.

So, please, no more stuff.

Actually, what I’d love would be for you to take away some stuff. So, when you come to our house, please arrive with your big bag empty. It might be helpful if you come when your sleigh has been unloaded, too. I mean, we have so much stuff it might take more than one trip. Is there any chance you could also rent a van? You might want to bring a few of the elves along, too.

I’m hoping you can leave us with the things that we really use, and those items that have true sentimental value. You’re supposed to know these things, right? I mean, you know if I’ve been bad or good, so for goodness sake, you must know which pants are too tight. Not to mention that I haven’t worn that pair of shoes in about 5 years or that I have never once used the double boiler.

I also trust that you can find good homes for all our excess stuff, so it can be put to good use, or at least recycled.

Gratefully yours,


p.s. While you and the deer are up on the roof, would you mind giving a good scare to the squirrels that have found their way into the attic? Or perhaps you could offer them a ride on your sleigh. A one-way trip, if you know what I mean.

This was brought to you by this week’s Monday Mission, which called for a post in the form of a letter to Santa. Hosted by Painted Maypole (who is usually quite nice, but is on occasion naughty).

Preparing the Home for Baby (Tips from American Hovel Magazine)

As someone in the final throes of the third trimester, I have spent a lot of time recently sitting in an ob/gyn waiting room. Usually I go equipped with some sort of reading material.

On occasion, though, I have felt compelled to pick up one of the various maternity magazines that litter the waiting area. These magazines give all sorts of largely redundant advice about how not to kill your baby, and what host of $80 products you will absolutely need to give your baby a bath.

Since it’s been a while since I have contributed to American Hovel Magazine (The Magazine dedicated to lowering acceptable neatness standards in the home), I felt inspired to submit a few tips of my own for getting ready for baby.

AHM’s tips for Preparing the Home for Baby

Decorating the Nursery:
Other magazines will advise you about sets of exquisite crib bedding, with coordinating sheets, bumpers, window valences and diaper pail cozies. Not only are these items expensive, but they will lead to your child setting high expectations for style and organization in the future. It is best, then, to make sure the nursery fits in with the decor of the rest of your home. As it is, the room you intend to use as nursery is probably already functioning as a storage area for various piles of clothing and dirty dishes, boxes of bills and junkmail, as well as broken electronics and half-completed craft projects. Many of these items are quite colorful, and will be attractive additions to the baby’s room.

Be advised, though, that it is best to keep power tools, sharp knives, and hazardous materials out of reach of baby, and these should not be stored in the crib or sleeping area itself.

Where the baby will sleep:
While you may opt for a piece of furniture, such as a crib or cradle, it is also possible place your baby in a mobile storage container for temporary storage. Such an item is often called a Moses basket, befrilled versions of which can cost upwards of $200. A laundry basket works just fine. Don’t worry if the laundry basket has dirty laundry in it: the baby would get it dirty soon anyhow. Those buggers spit up like crazy, and diapers leak all the freakin’ time.

Caution should be used when adding dirty laundry to the laundry basket: covering the baby in piles of clothing may cause the little tyke to struggle for air, and may also make it harder for you to find the baby when relatives come to visit.

Laundry hints:
AHM typically advises you to avoid doing laundry. However, with a baby in the house, you may need to do a load of laundry or two over the course the first month.

You may remember the advice to separate light from dark clothing. Also make sure to separate the baby from the clothing. While running the baby through the washing machine may be tempting as a time-saving shortcut, this method is not recommended. Even on delicate cycle.

Home Safety:
With a newborn in the house, safety is always of the highest priority. Make sure that your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are functional, and that your home is moderately free of the squirrels, raccoons, and other potentially plague-bearing animals that typically inhabit your living area and furnishings.

Congratulations, and best of luck to you as you prepare for the arrival of your little one!

juggling acts

It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing major has happened, just a lot of little things that make me realize I can’t quite keep all of my balls up in the air.

I’ve had a lot of demands from work this week that I wasn’t expecting. There’s another deadline at the end of the month, and seeing as I don’t expect to be terribly available then, I feel particularly compelled to contribute as much as I can now. It turned out that a lot of the new data we were adding to the pool for this particular study needed a lot of cleaning up (as well as some of the old data), and I was the one in the best position to clean it up. So I’ve been putting in a lot of hours, including late night hours, this week. I’ve been quite productive, and yet since it was work I hadn’t anticipated, I don’t get the satisfaction of feeling that I’ve made progress. (Especially since this has left me virtually no time to work on my own research projects, and every time I have a pause in the progress there, it takes me a while to get my momentum back.)

Then Phoebe came down with a stomach bug that had been looming at daycare. I had toyed with the idea of keeping Phoebe home, but for one thing, I needed the work time. And for another, it was probable that Phoebe had already been exposed to the bug by the time we learned of the menace. So keeping her home wouldn’t have likely made much difference.

Phoebe is largely okay, though there have been some rough stretches. (This was actually the first time she’d ever vomited, aside from one flukey time when she was a very young baby. She was pretty freaked out by it. And can I just say that I’m lucky I didn’t lose my laptop to the inaugural event, which happened on the couch?) She was pretty chipper by this evening, so hopefully we can put this behind us. (And can I also say that I really, really don’t want to catch a stomach bug right now?)

I am so, so not ready for the new kid to arrive. The guest room still needs to be readied for my mother’s arrival (or for the contingency plan), the infant carseat installed, and there’s some form I’m supposed to send to the hospital that I haven’t even looked at. I haven’t even visited the hospital to find out where to go, where to park, etc., when the time comes. I’m told I’m supposed to have packed a bag by now, but that feels too much like admitting that I may need to use such a bag soon.

When people ask about “decorating the nursery,” I can only laugh. As far as nesting goes, I’ll be lucky if I can find the time and energy to clear out whatever lifeforms are currently nesting in my fridge.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have a few balls to chase around.

decoding real estate listings: a helpful glossary

If you’ve ever spent any time house-hunting, you’ve probably noticed that real estate listings have a certain lingo of their own. Often, this involves descriptions of properties that have been somewhat embellished to make even flaws quirky characteristics sound like selling points. Some of these euphemisms have become standardized, such as the “handyman’s special,” a term for a home that is falling apart in every imaginable way in minor need of repairs.

In order to help you read between the lines in an MLS listing, I offer to you this helpful example and glossary.

Example: a typical MLS listing

Charming and cozy 2 bedroom house. Enjoy summer breezes in this lovingly decorated perfect starter home, with sunny, low-maintenance yard. Modern kitchen, 1 and a half baths, partially finished basement. Homey, and ready to move in!
Location features:
• easy access to freeway
• excellent cell phone reception
• close to amenities
• friendly, mature neighborhood

Glossary of Terms:
charming: run-down
cozy: cramped
summer breezes: house is drafty, may have windows missing or holes in roof
lovingly decorated: all the carpets are magenta, and there is loud wallpaper in every room
perfect starter home: you’ll want to move out as soon as you can afford better
sunny: no trees or shade of any kind
low-maintenance yard: lawn is paved over
modern kitchen: kitchen done in the Modern style, circa 1960
1 and a half baths: the second bathroom has partially-installed fixtures, or there may be a toilet in the basement
partially finished basement: basement features water-stained shag carpet
homey: house has funky smells, possible from cat urine
Ready to move in!: home has been abandoned
easy access to freeway: next to an on-ramp
excellent cell phone reception: under a cell phone tower
close to amenities: across from a liquor and/or convenience store
friendly, mature neighborhood: may be near a strip club or adult bookstore

I hope that this information will be helpful to you in your house-hunting endeavors. If you have more terms to add to the glossary, I welcome your contributions!

This week’s Monday Mission, which I’ve chosen to accept in a roundabout way, was to write a post in the style of a real estate listing. For more listings, stop by Painted Maypole.

Thanks to maja for teaching me “low-maintenance yard” and “easy freeway access,” terms that she may have actually seen in use.

Introducing AHTV: The American Hovel TV Network

American Hovel Magazine, April 2007 coverAHTV
Lowering Acceptable Neatness Standards in the Home
…and Beyond!

Following the incredible success of American Hovel Magazine, the magazine dedicated to lowering acceptable neatness standards in the home, this month will see the launch of AHTV, the American Hovel TV Network. Here are a few shows that you’ll be able to see on AHTV:

  • Fashion Programming
    Laundry Day Style
    Getting dressed can be a challenge on those days when laundry is overdue. But with a little help from our fashionistas, you can throw together outfits that make a statement using what’s left in your closet.

  • Science and Nature Shows
    The Wild Kingdom: Indoor Edition
    Ever wonder what kinds of things are growing in your refrigerator? What sorts of animals have taken up residence in your garage or attic? Tune each week to find out.
  • Sit Coms
    The Oddly Compatible Couple
    Oscar is a messy slob. Felix is a messy slob. What happens when two messy people move in together? Hilarity ensues!

  • Dramas
    Law and Disorder
    A courtroom drama about a group of attorneys whose offices are in constant chaos. They’ll get to the bottom of the case, once they find the tops of their desks.

    The X-Piles
    Is that fuzzy gray thing in the vegetable drawer becoming sentient? Are rooms really disappearing in your home? Did aliens steal your remote? Join special agents Molder and Sullied as they investigate reports of supernatural occurrences.

    Max Clutter, P.I.
    Crime is a messy business, especially when Max gets involved. Join the Detritus Detective each week for a new mystery, as he searches for clues, missing persons, and his missing car keys.

  • Home and Garden Shows
    Trashing Spaces
    See some of America’s most beautiful showroom homes.Then see what happens when real families move into them.

    Martha Stewart’s Not Living Here
    Join our hosts, who are nothing like Martha Stewart, as they give ideas for ways to appreciate your messy home. Topics for upcoming shows include “Loving Your Dandelion Garden,” “Clutter Chic,” and “Feng Shui is not For You.”


This programming is brought to you by…The Monday Mission, sponsored by The Flying Mum, now with more TV programming than ever. Nothing brightens teeth better!

entertaining tips from American Hovel Magazine

American Hovel Magazine, April 2007 cover A few months ago, I shared the news that our home was featured on the cover of American Hovel Magazine‘s April edition, following our interview with that magazine earlier this year. Well, readers were so impressed by the chaotic state of our home that AHM has asked me to write some features myself as a guest author. Here is a draft of the article I’m working on, inspired by having recently had guests staying overnight.

Preparing for Overnight Guests, an American Hovel Magazine feature by guest writer alejna

When you know that guests will be staying over, it always helps to be prepared. If you have a guest room, or believe that you may have one lying around somewhere, it is a good start to find and prep this room. Here are some steps to follow to accomplish this goal.

  • Step 1: Find the guest room
    The first step is to locate and identify your own guest room. A guest room is a room in your house that may or may not have a door. Often, this room will be the place that you have found convenient to set aside items for “temporary” storage: boxes of clothing to be packed up or donated, piles of books and papers, small items of furniture or sundry toys that your child may have outgrown, odds and ends of obsolete technology, mysterious cables, miscellaneous repair or creative projects in various stages of completion, seasonal decor items given to you by your mother-in-law, holiday presents sent by various out-of-state relatives, holiday presents you never got around to mailing to various out-of-state relatives, and/or out-of-state relatives that you forgot were visiting. (Actual contents of guest rooms may vary.)
  • Step 2: find the sleeping surface
    Guest rooms typically feature some sort of bed or convertible sofa-type piece of furniture that allows your guests to sleep in relative comfort. (Many guests find that kitchen floors, front lawns or bathtubs are not terribly comfortable as sleeping arrangements. However, in a pinch, these will do. Make sure to offer a blanket or tarp.) You are likely to find that the bed (or other sleeping surface) can be found under the largest pile of items listed in Step 1.
  • Step 3: clear the bed or other sleeping surface
    Once you have identified the bed (or other sleeping surface, hereafter called simply, “the Bed”), it is time to undertake the most challenging task: “clearing” the Bed. This daunting task may take many hours, and will most likely be attempted when the arrival of your guests is imminent. Be prepared by having ready the proper tools for the job: rakes, shovels, forklifts and hard liquor. You may also find it helpful to have a phone nearby, so that you may call a sympathetic friend or relative to help ease the emotional burden of the task.

    One of the seemingly impossible aspects of “clearing” the Bed is to find places to put those items that have so long been inhabiting the Bed space. The ideal way to deal with this is to carefully sort through all the items, give away or discard those items that are no longer in use, and find appropriate permanent storage solutions for the rest. You will not have the time or energy for the ideal way, because your guests are almost here, and if you could so easily deal with things in the ideal way, you wouldn’t be reading this magazine, because you are neat and organized and you have in the past been likened to Martha Stewart. You will instead need to follow the more expedient method: move the items from the Bed to other spaces around the house that your guests will not see. Suggestions include: your own bedroom, office, car, back yard (depending on the season), neighbor’s yard, or if you have more than one bathroom, in a bathtub or shower.

  • Step 4: Prepare the Bed
    You will find that many guests will expect to find some sort of bed linens in place on the Bed, and that further, the expectation is that such linens will be clean. However, few guests will actually ask if the bed linens are fresh. Therefore, if time is short, and the sheets are not visibly soiled by any previous guests or nesting animals, you may find that a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy is helpful.¹
  • That is all for this installment of hints for preparing for overnight guests. There are other preparation considerations that may be helpful, however, I believe that your own guests are now pulling into your driveway anyhow, so you will just have to wing it this time.


    ¹ For those guests who may have recently visited my own home: I put clean sheets on the bed. Seriously.