Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Three Strong Women in My Life


Mommy, Mammy, and Grammy Nadeau

My first fourteen years were spent living with my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  Many on the outside thought our living arrangements were unusual. To them, I was living in a broken home.

To be clear, there was nothing broken about our home, our relationships, or our bond.

And sure, we struggled, but there was a lot of big love.

My desk area is covered with photos of me with the three women who shaped and steered my life.

I often gaze at us and wonder: Who was I to them? And who were they?

I was known as mon petit chou to my grandmother and my grandmother’s favorite to my mother. And since my mother was my great-grandmother’s favorite, I like to imagine I was in the same treasured category as my mom.

My grandmother barely knew her father, and my mother and I never knew our fathers at all.

I was an only child, and so was my mom, so the three women in my life were all the family I had—or needed.

My great-grandmother lost her mother when she was four, so I can only assume that she knew her father well. Unfortunately, I never asked her much about her life.

I do remember her telling me that her husband, my great-grandfather, had been involved in a terrible accident which rendered him a vegetable. I never forgot the story because even at a young age, I felt her pain. She told me that he spent most of his adult life in an asylum. And I could see from the telling, she was ashamed.

Through ancestry.com I was recently able to find a 1930 census document with my great-grandfather’s name on it. He was indeed a patient at the Augusta Maine State Hospital for the Insane and spent at least 25 years there before he died in 1951.

We were four women, with no male heroes. A dysfunctional familial band of female strength on the one hand, full of unspoken male loss on the other.

There were no men in my early life—and that suited me just fine. Not that I knew any better.

How strange it is, then, that having been surrounded by women for most of my life, that I’ve never had a lot of female friends. In high school, I had maybe three close girlfriends. In college, I had one.

Even today, the females in my life are few and far between.

I suppose it’s because of those early days of being surrounded by loyal, compassionate, and unconditionally loving women.

But that was then, and this is now.

Perhaps I expect the women in my life to live up to a higher standard. Maybe a standard that is virtually unattainable.

I just don’t know.

We were four strong until at nine years old, my great-grandmother passed away.

And then after many weeks of tears and broken hearts, we were three strong.

My grandmother died when I was thirty.  I lost a heart wrenching chunk of me and an enormous safety net.

She was my safest place.

Down to two strong.

She left me at a crucial time in my life. I threw up for weeks after her death thinking I was heart sick.

It wasn’t my heart. I was pregnant.

Boy did I need her guidance.

And then things went wrong. Really wrong. My life took some spins and turns and crashes and burns.

You could say I joined a circus for a few years.

I made some naïve and terrible choices. Didn’t we all?

Down to one strong.

How I wish I would have asked my three strong women more questions about their pasts, their loves, their dreams, their aspirations, their regrets.

There are so many things I don’t know about them. I have way too many unanswered questions.

And way too many whys and hows and sorrys.

I so wish I could turn back the hands of time to live and love them all again and begin anew.


Me with my grandmother circa 1953

Spring Cleaning Tips

I am writing this blog for my own benefit,  because I know if I write my spring cleaning tips in a post it will be forever immortalized on The Teri Tome.

This way next spring, when I can’t find my spring cleaning check list, I’ll know where to go!

Spring has sprung, and I know what that means.

I’ll be cleaning, and my husband will be…

…I know what I have to do, but I don’t really want to.

And I don’t really need a checklist, because I know the drill.

Wash the windows, wipe down all my ceiling fans and lights, change out the cabinet shelf liners, degrease the kitchen, give the refrigerator a full clean out and clean up, wash the curtains, vacuum under the beds, tip top the bathrooms, degrunge the grout, and so on and on and on.

I’m already exhausted and entirely turned off.

But I gotta do it.

And my husband?

He knows I gotta do it too…

So here are some tips:

Clean your glass shower doors: The easiest way to remove hard water stains and soap scum? Dryer sheets. Yep. Try it. Wet a dryer sheet and working in a circular motion, clean the glass. If a film remains simply wipe it off with a glass cleaner and paper towel.  You can also use dryer sheets (unused or used) to buff spots off mirrors, bathroom, and kitchen fixtures.  They also remove rings around the toilet and are great for baseboard cleaning.

Shower scum: Fill a dish wand with half vinegar and half dish soap. I highly recommend blue Dawn. (Make use the Dawn is blue.) Then scrub away. You can also use an old sponge, Dobie pad, toothbrush or scrub brush and just dip into a cup of the same solution.

Degrunge your tiles and grout: First sweep or vacuum. Mix warm water and powdered oxygen bleach to create a thick paste consistency. Not runny. (OxiClean is the best). Do not use regular bleach. It won’t work. Then apply the bleach paste to the grout with a sponge and let it sit for 5 to 30 minutes. For large surfaces work with small areas, so the solution doesn’t dry on the surface. Then take a scrub brush and tjuz it around. (Or is it zhoozh?) Whatever. You get the point. Then rinse with hot water.  As the grout or tile dries, it will brighten up without the hassle of heavy scrubbing.

Removing mildew from white grout: Try using a bleach pen. This method is tedious, but the payoff is worth it.  Use the pen to draw the bleach into the grout lines. The pen allows you to target the grout without getting bleach all over the tile. Wait 10 minutes and then rinse. For really mildewy grout, you may need a second application. It can also help to gently scrub the bleach into the grout with a toothbrush and then wait the 10 minutes.

Remove stubborn toilet and bathtub rust stains: If you have a lot of iron in your water and struggle with rust stains in your toilet or bathtub, the perfect solution is a product called Acid Magic. Acid Magic is the user friendly Muriatic acid replacement, and is safer because it won’t burn your skin and has up to 90% less fumes. But make sure to take all the precautions you need to, like wearing gloves and safety glasses when using it. To clean rust from toilets and other porcelain surfaces, add three parts water to one part Acid Magic. Apply the mixture to the rust stains with a sprayer, brush or foam pad and watch the stain dissolve. Rinse with clear water. You can also use it full strength for stubborn stains. Avoid getting the acid on metal parts because they can discolor.

Remove tough stains from vinyl flooring: f your vinyl floor has marks or stains that won’t come off, try using Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Using rubber gloves dampen a white rag and rub it on marks and stains.  Don’t use anything but a white cloth to avoid color staining.

Take advantage of your dishwasher: You can save yourself a ton of time by washing all kinds of stuff in your dishwasher. Be sure there are no plastic parts that won’t be able to withstand the heat and run them through a “normal” washing cycle. Some examples of stuff you can run through your dishwasher on a “normal” cycle: silicone oven mitts and trivets, toys, figurines, kitchen brushes and sponges.

Ceiling fans: Take an old pillowcase and spray the inside with Pledge, Endust or any all-purpose cleaner. Slide the case over the blade and then slowly draw the fabric back. All the dust and dirt will stay in the pillowcase instead of flying everywhere.

Keep your refrigerator squeaky clean: Wash the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water. Loosen hardened spills on fixed parts by wetting the area with the mixture, allowing the residue to soften. Use a toothbrush to scrub crannies.

Lint free television and computer screen cleanup:  Spray a touch of screen cleaner to a coffee filter and wipe away the dust with no lint worries.

Clean your blinds: Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a bowl and get a sock to put over your hand. Dip the sock in the solution and then run it over each slat of the blinds to remove any dirt or dust.

Remove tarnish: Place sterling or plated silver in an aluminum pan. (It must be aluminum.) Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda over the silverware. Keeping the pan in the sink to minimize splashing, pour enough boiling water to cover the utensils. When the tarnish disappears, remove the silverware and buff with a soft cotton cloth.

Wash small neck decanters and pitchers: Fill the bottles with water, drop in a tablet or two of a denture cleaner such as Efferdent, let stand overnight. Then scrub with a narrow nylon brush.

Stainless steel appliances: For an impressively clean shine, put some rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth and wipe those annoying fingerprints away. You can also use a drop or two of olive oil.

Your couch: Baking soda can help remove lingering smells and break up stains on the fabric. Start by brushing off the surface of the couch, then sprinkle baking soda on the area you want to clean. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then vacuum it up using the brush attachment.

Quick and easy way to clean up dust, dirt, and crumbs:  Use a lint roller to pick up dust, dirt, and crumbs pretty much anything your house.  It’s perfect for lamp shades, drawers, tablecloths, carpets, and window screens. If you have fabric that needs a face lift, lint roller it!

Remove kitchen/bathroom cabinet gunk: Mix together a solution of vegetable oil and baking soda, and then use an old toothbrush to scrub all that gunky stuff out of the corners of cabinet surfaces.

Get your rings to shine again:  The safest way to clean an engagement ring or any other type of ring with precious metals is to mix warm water with a small amount of blue Dawn dishwashing soap and let the ring soak for about 10 to 20 minutes. Then use a soft toothbrush to make it sparkly clean.

Get rid of mold: Clean mold the same way you clean cuts. Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Wipe the mixture on the moldy spots and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Then scrub the area to remove all mold and stains, and wipe down the surface.

Hardwood floors: Make a magic solution by combining 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon castile soap, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, with 2 cups warm water. Then pour the mixture into a plastic spray bottle. Apply this cleaner over stained hardwood areas, wipe with a soft cloth and you’ll be amazed at the shiny results. Take special care not to get your floor too wet while cleaning.

Porcelain tile floors: Start by sweeping the floor to remove any dust on the porcelain tiles. You can use a dry dust mop or a vacuum. Use a damp sponge mop and a solution of 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of water.

Quartz countertops: Wipe countertops clean with a damp cloth. Use a mild, nonabrasive detergent soap for deep cleaning.

Erase Scuff Marks: Clean off shoe scuff marks from vinyl flooring with a clean, dry tennis ball. A light rub and heel marks are erased.

Outdoor aluminum chairs: Combine blue Dawn with warm water and scrub with a Dobie pad. Then rinse very well.

Trex Decks:  Combine an equal amount of water and white vinegar and use a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. Rinse thoroughly after use and do not leave the vinegar in contact with the surface. A nylon scratch pad or toothbrush can be used on harder to clean areas.

Quartz composite sinks: A wipe down with a damp Magic Eraser works every time.

Magic Erasers are indeed magic. You can use them on pretty much anything.

And blue Dawn works miracles on most stains. Just take a white cloth and dab it with a touch of Dawn (only blue), then rinse it off and wait for the shockingly positive results.

Happy cleaning!

Oh, and if I missed anything, please share your cleaning tips with me!

And if you have any brilliant ideas for how to get my husband to help me, fess up!