Monday, December 13, 2010

The BIZZ: Makeshift office

     Holy cow my boyfriend's house is so cold!  Soon I will be moving into a tiny carriage house in the back of one of my landlord's many rental properties.  The little hovel is behind the house of my mother's child hood friend Lucy Lowe.  I intend on calling it "The Rabbit Hole" and within its walls I hope to create the important structures to both my cleaning business and my musical/philosophical/artistic career.

     Until I move, I am forced to set up a temporary office but I'm finding it difficult as the whole house is an ice box!  On this fair monday morning, here I sit on the floor, as good as anywhere, with a blasting hot heater burning my outer sweater made shell.  It's amazing outside - cold, sunny, windy, with tiny sparkling flakes powdered throughout the wind gusts, looking as if someone peppered atlanta with glitter!  Never have I seen it so wintery in December!

     Monday's are great for office work.  Somehow I have collected all that I need at the foot of this chair and table that most people would be utilizing to their organizational advantage.  Yerba Mate and vegetable soup are working to keep my energy powered up.  Every once in a while, one of the animals will come steal a little of the warmed floor real estate which I am currently perched upon.  I am so grateful that this is working at the moment.  Cheers to making do with makeshift situations!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Book B.U.G.


If you have ever thought of entering into the cleaning service industry, then this is an excellent book to help you on your way!  I have read it nearly front to back and I am using it to create growth and stability in my own business.

*Some of it's greatest qualities include:

Small chapters
Excellent break down of info
Very thorough regarding topics
Gives a good idea of challenges

*My one concern is that perhaps it is too vague in certain instances.  I have been in the business for 4 years, so when I read about the challenges involved, I know exactly to what they are referring.  However, I feel that someone who has no previous experience with the industry or of ever having employed a cleaner, they might have a tough time understanding why some of things are necessary or which ones, for instance, are not necessary.  This is a pretty light criticism....really overall I feel the book is a mighty good resource!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Accidents Happen

Today I had a slow and mindless day wrought with varying degrees of difficult challenges!
-Two vacuums died, mine and the client's
-The house was taking a long time to clean
-I was behind schedule and to top is all off
-I broke the client's amazing salt and pepper shaker!

I wish I had a photo of the shakers, instead I have a photo of the note that I left in a hopefully-not-so-futile effort to make light of the situation!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cleaning Tip number 7: Impress the Guests with 5 Little Details!

It easy to forget the details when you start cleaning the house.  I find that once you get started and get some big things out of the way, it generally starts to look good enough to stop.  Still if you want to impress the company, there are a couple of details that you can clean that people tend to take note of, albeit, in a subconscious way mostly.  Perhaps the reason that people take note is because they are the things that are rarely done and so suggest a very clean and healthy person.  In any case, these little cleaning challenges are incredibly easy, very quick and quite effective at impressing guests!

1.  Clean the mirrors! - people always stop to look in mirrors and they will therefore always notice if they are dirty!  vinegar and a paper towel or black and white newspaper make quick work of this!

2.  Wipe the baseboards and corners in the bathroom! - When guests use the bathroom, they have time to notice the details.  Hair and dust always make their home on the baseboards but you can clean it easily.  I like to use a microfiber cloth and run it along the boards and corners.  Another cool trick is to use toilet paper and just throw it into the toilet when its dirty and flush!

3.  Clean the sink in the bathroom. - Again, especially if its a dinner party, guests will be washing their hands.  Wipe the sink in the same way either with microfiber or toilet paper.  If you use microfiber, you can also wipe the faucet, which will effectively polish it to a beautiful shine!

4.  Clean your the corners of the room! - Literally, grab a microfiber cloth or duster and especially when  there's a light near by, dust the ceiling, joint, and baseboards.  Cobwebs hang out here and dust really does collect here along the seam of the walls.

5.  Clean the fronts of your kitchen cabinets. - It really does make a big difference!  If these are not very dirty, then I would definitely say instead to clean your kitchen floor!  The cabinets are a really such a small but helpful detail.  However if you don't have a clean kitchen floor, the guests probably won't even notice the cabinets!  These details will help them feel good about where dinner is being cooked....i promise!  Even if you had a sink full of dirty dishes, but the kitchen floor and cabinets were clean, no one would make a fuss except to maybe help you do them out of gratitude for such a lovely night.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The BIZZ: Getting lost in the mess!

Perhaps it's best to hear it from me, yes, even when you're a cleaning lady you can get lost in your own mess.  Even cleaning ladies can make messes like you've never seen!  I must say, it is a rare occasion!

It is my observation that a mess starts in a very subtle fashion.  The seedlings of fantastic disaster lay dormant in the dirty dishes from lunch that you don't have time to clean, the blouse that you just spilled part of your lunch on, the thing that your cat knocked off the mantle to the shadowy depths of the back side of your entertainment console, the email that you didn't finish and subsequently forgot in the draft box thereafter, and the meeting that you cancelled because you were starting to feel sick.  At particularly critical times in the year, all of these little seeds sew right into the fertile grounds of the mystic makings of a perfect storm of mess!

Needless to say, I've been through it!  One of the most blessed effects of being a cleaning lady is helping others weather the storm, but what happens when the storm is hitting the cleaning lady?  Thus you shall see the enormous possibility for mess making at its finest!  A tribute to my tragic stress maker -the mess, and the ways that I combat it:

1.   dirty dishes - do the big ones first so that there is less in the sink (visually it'll make you fee like there are less to do, even if you have more tiny pieces than big ones)

2.   taxes - sit down every night and tackle one folder of receipts OR work in one hour increments.  I also seek advice from the internet, other business owners, and referrals for accountants.

3.   moving - pack 5 boxes a day (you can do it, it's easier than it sounds!)

4.   broken cv boot on car- no money? no time?  list options available to you, ask around to see if any one has any other ideas, you may be surprised what you can come up with!

5.   getting sick - stop it in the beginning!  Some home remedies are to gargle with baking soda water, eat a raw clove of garlic a day, and pick up some vitamins - rest is the best though!  Go get meds from the doctor immediately and pay careful attention to your body's signals/communication!

6.   clients getting sick - be flexible!  Look over the schedule and try to increase your flexibility by determining the relevance of scheduled daily activities.  Also gain the cooperation of other clients in your efforts to be allow for rescheduling

7.   dog getting sick - assess the situation, if immediate care is unnecessary, then save time and money by talking to other pet owners, do some online research, and try a few different remedies

8.   loosing things - The most important 3 things for which a special place should be made are your keys, your wallet, and your phone.  Find a place for each -which may be a place all together like by your bed!  When you put them in that place for the first time, say to yourself "I am putting these here so that I won't forget where they are"....if you say that everytime, your brain will create a catalog of corresponding space and object.  You will find yourself putting them there by habit in no time!

9.   dirty laundry - Assuming you are low on time or funds, my advice is to grab a big bowl, throw in a couple pairs of socks, undies, and necessary pants or shirt.  Fill it with water in the tub.  Add some detergent and agitate with your hands.  When you are done, ring out the clothes and hang over the shower rod to dry.  They are usually ready by morning!

10.   vacuum breaking - Not many people realize that vacuum repair shops still exist!  Try getting a quote on work from one.  You'd be surprised how little it can cost!  Also if you loose parts many online stores offer parts individually or as a set.  You could also try asking friends.

11.   out of cleaning products - If you use commercial cleaners, there are many alternatives!  You probably have everything you need to create a new cleaner right in your pantry!  Look online for a new recipe!  I'm working on posting my favorites soon!

12.   training new employees - Go ahead and write  a list of the most important lessons.  Create small workable scenarios for the employees to experience, then stick to the list.  Extras can be taught once they understand the root/most important lessons.

13.   the cold shoulder from friends less busy - I would say be aware and talk frankly to anyone that may feel neglected.  Make a plan of action with this/these person/s like texting "how are you" and funny jokes or meeting them once a week for lunch.  Whatever it is that you decide on, and make sure it is something you can actually do, stick to it and the person will have less anxiety and frustration with the fact that they miss YOU!

14.   roommate can't pay rent - Talk to the roommate and be open!  Get as many facts as possible and write them down, especially if it happens to be a complex situation!  Determine what the worst case scenario is and become ok with it on some level.  Then problem solve an action plan from there including people to talk to, surmising flexibility financially and in the scheduling, possible ways to make extra money, and an end goal that you and the roommate both agree on.

15.   internet connect broken - the library has free internet!  Also there are tons of little coffee shops, grocery stores, laundry mats, etc. that might be able to help.  If you don't have a laptop, there are computers available at both the library and your local college.  At the college you will probably have to pose as a visitor, with a badge, etc. but the effort might be worthwhile!

16.   computer broken - Call some one who has a laptop to assist you.  Look up possible problems on the internet.  If it looks like you can do the work yourself, attempt it.  If not, take it to any one of the local best buys for the "geek squad" or look up a local, self employed tech!  I like the self employed techs because they are usually dependable, reasonable in price, and on call.  It's also nice to directly support someone's income!

17.   phone broken - phones are way to expensive!  Talk to friends and see if someone has an old one you could borrow or buy.  Look on craigslist too -there are some great deals!  After no luck with either of those, check to see if your phone company has any online deals...and at very last buy one from the store.  if you have to buy from the store, call a couple stores first and price the phone that you want.  Many companies allow their franchised locations to run different deals and prices based on the economy of the area - meaning you can find some great deals if you are willing to do a little research!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cleaning Tip number 6: Efficiently Eliminating Dust

Dusting one's house seems easy enough but there are a few tricks that can help you to capture the dust more efficiently!

Dust is a collection of very small particles that land on surfaces in you house.  They are produced by many things around the house like clothing, paper, foods, skin cells, plant matter, and dust mite feces.

That's right, I said dust mite poop.

Typically dust collects on surfaces in layers.  A clean surface can become quickly covered in a fine dust.  Bits of debris or water rings can stick the dust directly to the surface!  In kitchens, there is usually a thick layer of grease under dusty surfaces due to cooking and regular usage.  When surfaces haven't been cleaned for a while, and especially when domestic animals are present, surfaces can form a thickly caked layer of dust on them that may even require a bit of scrubbing!

"Layers of dust" drawn by Clementine Willowilde

There are a few ways to go about cleaning dust off of surfaces.  Two main dusting methods exist that I know of and they are wet dusting and dry dusting.  Wet dusting is when one uses a dampened sponge or cloth to remove dust from a surface.  Dry dusting is when one uses a dry duster, dust cloth, sponge, microfiber, or feather duster to lift dust from surfaces.  There are definitely jobs around the house that require one method over the other but sometimes it just comes down to personal preference!

Wet Dusting

Wet dusting is appropriate for those situations in which you are dealing with thick dust that is clinging to surfaces, many times with a greasy under layer or stuck on debris.  It is also best for controlling loose dust from flying up into the air as you are cleaning.  If you have allergies, this is a great way to dust the house so that you can optimally eliminate dust while deterring its migration to other surfaces through it flying off into the air.  There are however a few drawbacks.  One is that the sponge or cloth, if too wet will leave streaks on a surface.  The other is that it is time consuming.  It usually requires the cleaner to rinse the sponge or cloth often and it is difficult to employ on intricate or spiky surfaces.

Wet Dusting with a sponge may leave streaks or residue!

Dry Dusting

Dry Dusting is most often executed with a cloth or feather duster.  These days there are some great new tools to use like swiffer dusting wipes, microfiber clothes, and dusters of various bristle types.  Some products even claim to use static electricity in the lifting process.  An old wives type method includes dusting with old dryer sheets because they have anti cling and dust trapping agents in them.  The pros to this method are that it is extremely quick and good to use when dealing with intricate surfaces or lightly dusty surfaces.  The downside to dry dusting is that loose dust often escapes back into the air to be inhaled by you or to land again on already dusted surfaces.

Dry Dusting with a cloth maybe release dust into the air!

So when cleaning a house, test a couple surfaces.  Figure out what type or thickness of dust that you have and be prepared to have a couple different tools ready so that you can clean well!  You may find that you have a particular personal preference when it comes to methods and products.  By cleaning up dust and debris you help to secure your own health and to also improve your homes air quality.  

Happy Dusting!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Mark of Excellence and Green Seal, Inc.

(The use of this picture is in no way an endorsement or certification by green seal of this website.  It's primary purpose is to illustrate an example of the Green Seal logo and to provide a link to the site for further explanation and education on their services.)

The logo above belongs to a remarkable non-profit organization. It has created a network of people and policies devoted to creating guidelines that will guarantee the earth friendly methods and products of our current and future marketplace.  Any measures taken to create solid standards by which consumers can benefit when it comes to knowing products and deterring "green washing"are a worthwhile effort!  

This article is about more than the "seal of approval", it is about understanding why we need these organizations to create standards, how standards are created, and what people are behind their creation! 

When I read an article on Molly Maid's move toward certifying their green methods and products, the first thing to peek my interest was the use of the Green Seal.  I'm always skeptical of the ways in which companies are certifying their products and services because as of yet, there are no standards for which all products and services are responsible.  A company can say that they are "natural" for doing something as small as having ingredients that come from the ground!  And although this is a good thing generally, it does not certify that the company is benefitting the earth or you in anyway.  

After reading over the Green Seal website and browsing their certification processes, I am sufficiently excited about the idea of this non-profit using their power to gather resources that not only benefit the companies involved but will benefit you as well!  It is interesting to see a not for profit organization so directly benefit profit-based organizations.  Literally, by certifying your service or product, a company is creating a basis of trust that will effect their economic success, especially in an market niche devoid of a basic framework of standards.

Organizations like Green Seal will become incredibly important in constructing the framework for our sustainable future.  Whether you are on board or not, the influence of projects like Envirolution and Green Seal are going to be the foundation of our policies, by which, we will attain a more healthful and benefitial lifestyle.  In other words, despite your position, this is the place at which to make the power play!  By educating yourself and/or getting involved in these projects, you can have a small say in their direction.  

Knowing is half the battle and the other half is taking action when appropriate and at the most crucial times.


info from
Arthur B. Weissman, Ph.D.President and CEO, Green Seal
Dr. Weissman has over 25 years of experience in environmental policy, standards, and enforcement. He joined Green Seal in 1993 as Vice President of Standards and Certification, becoming President and CEO in late 1996, and he served as Chair of the Global Ecolabelling Networkfrom 1994 to 1997. Prior to joining Green Seal, he was responsible for developing national policy and guidance for the Superfund program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He also served as a Congressional Science Fellow and worked for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. He holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in physical geography and environmental science, a masters in natural resource management from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a bachelors degree from Harvard University.


Above is the president of Green Seal.  It is good to know a bit about leadership, the history of the leaders, and their goals.  I think his time with the E.P.A. is worth noting and also the Panel on which he will be speaking.  The E.P.A. is the general government organization that is responsible for creating standards for various products and procedures (similar to the F.D.A for foods and pharmaceuticals).  However, there is not a standard government enforced matrix of responsibilities set up for companies that  will guarantee to consumers that they are taking measures to benefit the body and the earth.  That is why projects like Green Seal are necessary and have a lot of power!

In conclusion, it is easy to see why Molly Maid completed the certification process for Green Seal's approval and support.   Consumers demand accountability and the industry is still figuring out the processes by which to secure that accountability.  Anyone who finds a way to evolve will secure their chances at success!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The BIZZ: Striving for Perfection and The Human Condition

My job is to relieve your stress.  I swoop in when you need me and I help to reduce your responsibilities, thus alleviating some mental strain caused by deadlines and such.  It is my wish to always provide the most perfect, affordable, punctual service in town.  I have many obstacles to overcome in achieving this goal, but none seems so daunting as the cultural obstacle of homogeneity.
     I say cultural because now after the influence of industrialism and the manufacturing boom, we are enjoying the fruitful bounty of a consumer market in which our products are virtually identical.  The integrity of a product is almost completely founded on its ability to be homogenous thus creating some substantial reliability.  In other words, the level at which a product is produced and presented must be maintained in order for the public to feel as if it is a good product.

    The problematic nature of this way of marketing and consuming reveals itself when it is applied to those items and services which naturally deny homogeneity like unprocessed foods (fruits, veggies, etc.), and customer services (service industry jobs, repairs, etc.).  It is not natural for these things to be homogenous amongst their various groups and services because they are acted upon by nature and the human condition.  The trend amongst companies is to show a strong reliable hand in acting upon nature and the human condition to bring you the highest quality, most perfect, unchangeable, product or service possible.

     It is amazing.  I am apt to give in to the awe felt by seeing all my tomatoes look the same and feel the same.  I am apt to feel secure about the ability to so easily replace something beloved because there are 10 more of them at the store just the same as the first.  I am amazed to see a company use technology to subvert the discrepancies naturally produced by the universe.  There is no better example of the power of our consumer culture.

    And even as I have made a strong argument for the pros of such a cultural phenomenon, the cons are becoming more and more evident through time and process.  What we hold as an ideal may in fact be breeding an unadaptable, inflexible, dead end mentality.  What feels like progress now may be creating our future stagnation!

    The issues with homogeneity are complex.  Ground zero of the problem may actually lie in the focus of our ideals as professionals.  Systems of homogeneity are in place to create more reliability and less waste.  However, ultimate sustainability in a business or community relies on the entity's success at being adaptable.  The focus on homogeneity leaves no room for difference.  Homogeneity is the steam roller that creates, in its extremity, moderation....but then as the saying goes, "everything in moderation...including moderation."  In other words, if we eliminate the differences than we don't have to allow for them; we don't have to adapt to them.  If we don't have to adapt, then we don't have to be flexible.  If we don't have to be flexible, then we can feel confident in showing no affectation towards differences positive or negative across the board.  With this power, we serve to conquer nature instead of cooperate with it!

     That's heavy.

     I want to bring this conversation back.   I want to bring it back to the moment in which you hold in your hand the power to choose.  You hold in your hand the leafy green spendy money that this world relies on to turn its business cogs and lube the household processes.  In this moment I am asking you to take a look at the tension.  Observe closely the tension between the goal of (as of yet unattainable) perfection and the natural order of imperfection.  In some cases it can be paired down to man-made versus nature made, but not all situations will be so forthcoming.  Scrutiny of a very patient and accepting manor may be necessary to gather all the information that will support the power of your choices.  And as you choose the source from which your item or service follows, regard for yourself how the source of that item or service serves this world.

     Do not be afraid to be self serving in creating a world that will allow for your differences and the differences of others.  Sustainability is only possible through community, connection, creativity, growth, and change.  By this, I mean that I am relying on you to make decisions that will benefit yourself and others and that you are relying on me for the same.  In this way, we create the connections of trust between us that create society.  We create our environment and our communication from this.  In THIS way, we thrive.

I do not have to show you that I am the most punctual, perfectly clean, most affordable cleaner ever, because the heart of my work lies in my ability to be trustworthy, compassionate, knowledgeable, and helpful.  In THIS way, I will serve you best.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Files and Forms: Chore list for Roommates

Here is a simple chore list that you can use if you have roommates.  It can also be adapted to include other chores and other living situations (family, or office).  Another good thing to add at the bottom is "supplies needed" which will be a place to write in things like toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, etc.

Chore List for Roommates

Keeping Order: An Interview with the Artist Jocelyn Krodman

     Upon entering her house, I was surprised to see that Jocelyn Krodman, a local artist and business professional, had a dustless, clutterless, fussless layout.  As a woman that sees a lot of messes and makes plenty around my own house, it made me wonder why her house was so clean and how did she do it?  Not only was it clean (no dust to be seen anywhere!) but it was also nicely organized and extremely cozy!  My curiosity sparked, I demanded an interview so that I could bring to you the secrets of a lady not so different from you and I.

Visit her etsy page at:

Top Ten Tricks from Jocelyn Krodman:
1.      1.     It’s okay to be sentimental but get a grip!
     Surround yourself with what you love.
     Less is better or at least easier.
     Hide unuseful things like clutter in aesthetically pleasing compartments around the home.
     Clean along the way -1 hour now vs.a whole day later.
     Only keep useful and beloved items.
     Fewer options creates more freedom.
     Create specific areas for specific activities. – work space for work and sleep space for sleep.
     If you like all the spaces in your home you won’t be afraid to use them.

At the House of Jocelyn Gayle Krodman June 13th, 2010
Listen to the audio file here!

CW:  How does your house function for you in your life?

JGK:  When I first moved into the apartment, I traveled so much that it took me a while to decide if I even wanted to rent a space.  Was it going to feel like storage?  I am someone who’s very affected by my environment.

CW:  In what kind of atmosphere did you grow up?

JGK:  We moved a lot.  My dad’s job took us to other states so they’d hire movers.  When you don’t have to move yourself, the natural inclination is to take everything!  After years of doing that and living in houses with basements, we managed to accumulate a ridiculous amount of crap!  The house itself was never cluttered, or didn’t seem so.  My mom has things around, and as I got older that started to bug me, but it typically doesn’t bother me in other people’s homes.  My parent’s home is like an extension of my home so I guess that’s why it bothers me more than if I walked into a stranger’s house.  I’m like “mom, why do you really need that” ?!  But she loves it, and I like to surround myself with things that I love too.  So, if she wants to have that little elf, let her lave that little elf.   
            Our house was typically clean.  We always had someone that would come to clean every other week.  It was a clean environment until you got to the basement.  It was not until two summers ago when I was moving to Nashville but staying in my parent’s house until the moving date that I discovered that it hadn’t gotten so bad that you could hardly walk down there.  The basement is the same surface area as our house and yet its filled with boxes, things that aren’t even opened…It was ridiculous! 
            Finally I was like “mom, I’m gonna be home this summer, you’re home, you’re a teacher, you don’t work, let’s tackle this!  You want to?” and she was like “ yeah, it’ll be fun!”.  We spent about 2 months, okay maybe two weeks, but it was daily…it was a full time job!  My dad had saved all his paperwork since 1972 and he had saved every mini soap from every hotel he had visited.  We had to confront him!  I thought “do you really need this”?  People’s sentimental attachment to things is so fascinating to me!  I understand being sentimental but do you really need a huge cardboard box full of checkbooks that you can’t even pick up?!  Probably not. 
            I was like “ how about this… you pick out one checkbook out of this box and you can keep that”.  That was the rule I made with him…he got to keep one checkbook.  It was ridiculous.  No one needs all that stuff, but then there’s things like all my childhood toys and my mom had saved every pair of shoes that my sister and I had worn as children. I was grateful that I had a mom that thought it was important enough to keep that stuff around, but do I need EVERY pair of shoes?  Probably not.  Do we need every single toy?  No.
            You know the pound puppy that I got on Valentine’s Day in first grade that little Joe or whoever I had a crush on got for me; I want that!  (And I still have it!  His name is Pierre because he looks like he has a mustache!)  I have my mom’s sentimentality to thank for that, but do I need everything?  I appreciate the sentiment, but you have to get a grip!

CW:  But I do think that some people have trouble figuring out the level of importance of their things.

JGK:  And some of it is superstition.   My mom can’t throw away photographs.  We have all of them!  She thinks that the person will drop dead as soon as she puts it in the trashcan.  It’s rubbed off on me too! I would feel terrible for throwing away a photograph.  I have tons of photos I don’t need. 

CW:  So then what do you do with all the stuff, like photos, or gifts, or momentos, that you don’t want to get rid of? 


CW:  (I thought that was the punchline to a joke but she was serious)  Well what would you do if you didn’t have that?

JGK:  Typically I try to store things around here in a way that is aesthetically pleasing.  Like, I love old suitcases.  I use them in decorating and they are just great for storing stuff like that!  I have a couple of train cases in my bedroom.  They look great but open ‘em up and you’ll find all types of clutter!  But I know where they are and they are organized too.  That’s my “go to”.  You know, “I’m looking for THIS item” and I know where it’s gonna be. 

CW:  And all the cases kind of look different too, so that you can tell which one has what.  That way you’re not just looking through unmarked box after unmarked box stuffed in your closet!
            So how do you maintain the order around your house?  I know you talked about productive procrastination which is when you are cleaning house for example instead of doing some other type of work, but when you’re tired and you don’t really want to do anything, how do you keep it clean?  What are some of your self imposed rules?

JGK:  I’m not typically faced with situations where I’m having to take the time to clean my house or put stuff away because of you do really small things like that all along the way and keep up with it, there’s never a time in which you’re like “oh god, I have to stay home and do this today!”  I do have days where I’m like “I need to spend an hour picking up” or doing dishes, or whatever else it is that needs to get done, but it’s never this overwhelming problem because I just don’t let it get to that point.  
            I remember in college, I had this one chair that I would just throw stuff on.  Do you know what lesson I learned from doing that?  Well I had this toy snake and it was filled with barley and a mouse had begun to live inside it but I didn’t know!  One day I was like “I’ve got to clean the stuff off this chair; it’s disgusting!”  I started finding what looked like food and I was like “I don’t eat in here, what is this barley stuff?”  So I realized the mouse was living inside the snake that was on the chair under all this stuff and I FLIPPED OUT!  I threw everything away that was on the chair, gone in the trash, and I don’t ever do that anymore.
            Even if I’m tired and I throw my dress on the chair beside my bed, the next day I throw it in the laundry or hang it back up…takes two seconds.

Thanks Jocelyn for opening up your home to me and the viewers of ATL Clean Extreme!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Challenging the Idea of sustainability: Net Zero Buildings?

This is pretty cool!  I've been reading a lot of online material and some of the first things I've come across are ideas for sustainability presented by the EPA.  I just read the building section.

  • 80% of the pop live in urban communities/cities
  • 40% of energy consumed in the US is by buildings
Their solution?  Net zero energy buildings?  Read the pdf.

Picture from

In my research I am realizing that it will be necessary to tie all this info back into houses, cleaning, my life, your life, and why one should even bother reading this post.  I hope I will be able to do this.  I do think they are all connected, all necessary, all worthy of consideration, and all worthy of priority to varying degrees.  

These ideas that are being presented concerning the environment and people are not new ideas.  They are the tentacled evolving process of understanding ourselves, our lifestyles, and our atmospheres.  In that way, I see the connections between my work, my life and my research.   The power that you and I gain through this understanding is similar to the power that we suddenly realized we had when we played telephone as kids!  

Did you hear the info correctly?  Will you tell the next person exactly what you heard or decide to tell them something different?  Do you even remember what you were told?  

At the end of the day I think we are all just playing a big ol' game of telephone.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Challenging the Idea of Sustainability

My friend Caleb sent me a link for this group that creates forums, groups, and events to support sustainability measures.  I took a quick look at it and tried to understand what it was really about.  I realized that I don't really know what sustainability is and why we should implement it??

While I am tackling the task of researching various charities, green initiatives, cleaning methods, products, chemicals, why's and how's of everything business and internet involved, I wondered what is it that we are headed towards?  Where am I going?  Where am I leading people through the information that I present?

I am therefore going to share most if not all the info that I am currently reading so that we can at some point have a good and thorough discussion on our responsibility as humans to ourselves and the world, what we are doing now, and where do we see our future goals leading us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clutter REDUX: One Surface at a time

Its a long and laborious task to organize...

  • especially if you haven't done it in a while
  • don't have permanent homes for belongings
  • or you are a notorious tinkerer constantly unleashing a storm of projects upon your home space


One method I've been implementing lately is the "clean a surface a day" method.  It literally involves choosing a table, chair, corner, or shelf covered in stuff and minimizing it to several organized piles or putting things away all together.  It has been a big help and I've been doing it in the morning so that I feel like I've accomplished something for myself early on.   Here's an inspirational before and after picture set!


Here's a couple of thought provoking tips from  Read more on the site!
  • Don't keep things you don't like.
  • Don't keep things for other people.
  • Aim to reduce by a definite number.
  • When its in with the new, it's out with the old!
  • Prepare yourself mentally, never say never.

Mr. Potato Head Skillz

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The BIZZ: Adventures of Research and Gain

It strikes me, in my daily adventures, that nothing is more true than the statement "nothing is as it seems".  The constant flux that i experience between the plans that i've made and the execution of those plans is sometimes wildly unsettling.  The natural process of forecasting, troubleshooting, and accomplishing is at best an organic amalgamation of time, effort and luck...near as I can tell at least.

Here is a great list of tips to helps myself and my readers make the most of our time and energy when planning!

My favorite from the list is this one because most people know that they need help but don't know where to begin!  It's hard to get an idea of the things that you know you can do yourself vs. all the other options below for instance.

Learn to delegate by making a list of tasks that fit into the following categories:
    Tasks only you can do. Tasks you should do, but others could do. Tasks you could do, but others would if given the responsibility. Tasks others should do, but you can help with if necessary. Tasks only others can do.

Here's a great quote to lead you through your day!

"Enjoyment is not a good goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activities."
-Paul Goodman

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse: Learning to make origami butterflies

I just thought I'd make a small demo video to teach anyone who might like to know how to make an origami butterfly. The cheesiness factor is intense but it's my first try at something like this so what can one really expect!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse: The Butterfly Campaign

I sat in my house one day with no money for materials, with boxes of tea in the cabinet, with a cup of tea in my hand, with a project due date pressing on my time, and a question in my mind.  How can I use the things that I have in abundance to make up for the things I lack?  I looked around the kitchen.  Nothing was more freely abundant than the trash that I produced through my constant tea drinking habits!  Drinking somewhere between 5 and 10 cups a day, I went through boxes of tea at a rate which probably only smokers understand.  I had tea bags and teabag sleeves, clogging my trash in a 2 to 1 ratio with any other material in the can!

Days earlier I had heard of an artist who had focused on using all his trash in a month period to make an installation that spoke to the creative use of waste and the massive amounts a person is able to produce!  I thought it was cool that he had simultaneously asked viewers to consider what materials are relevant in art while indirectly asking his audience to consider the amount of waste that they too produce in a month!

At the time I was getting into the art of origami and attempting to use it to modularly build large scale sculptures.  I had just learned that the western origami master, Robert Lang, had developed a type of paper called "foil paper".  I discovered that my tea bags were made of pretty much the same material, so I began to fold with them.  I saved box after box of tea, and fold butterfly after butterfly.  At the end of a year, I actually had more than 400 butterflies and I made an installation called "tea time migration:  365 days".  It was made of origami butterflies and the title referenced the migration of the monarch butterfly, the journey from one point to another, and my tea drinking habits.

Here are some other amazing artists and their trash inspired art!

  • Shrine - upcycled materials 

My own contribution now includes the butterflies from my previous project!  I am now using them to raise awareness about repurposing, recycling and reusing materials, to clean, to reduce waste, to create, and to inspire!  The butterflies will be all over Atlanta!  I hope you find one!  The next phase of the butterfly campaign is to sell a selected amount on etsy to raise money for a local charity!  The info for this next step will be in the next segment of this 4 part article!

The Butterfly campaign on repurpose recycle reuse with origami butterflies of Cleaning lady lifestyle

Thanks for reading!

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