Category Archives: Observe & Ponder

My Nightmare Job Interview

Many years ago, I interviewed for the job of my dreams.

The salary was the culmination of everything I had worked my entire adult life for.

Not only did I want the job, but I also needed it. Desperately.

In pursuit of the dream job, I had been through countless interviews, and this one, HR said, “was the last stop.”

The final decision would come down to an investor, not an employee of the magazine, and a legend in the publishing industry.

I was freaked out.

The interview was scheduled for 7:30 am at the Palace Hotel, on the corner of 50th Street and Madison Avenue.

7:30 am? Really?

I was used to the daily commute from Long Island to New York City, but 7:30 seemed a bit much.

On the day of the interview, I woke up at 2:30 am and was sitting at the table a little before 6:30.

I asked the waiter for water and read and reread the pricey breakfast menu.

I went to the ladies’ room.

Twice.

My heart was pounding, and I was talking myself down (or maybe it was up) the whole time.

You can do this. You can do this.

At 7 am there was a flurry of activity at the entrance of the breakfast room. His persona was grander than I had imagined.

He stood tall, flanked by the last two men I had interviewed with.

Oh, joy.

He sat down and then waved to Frick and Frack to do the same.

And make no mistake about it. Frick and Frack were luminaries in their own right.

He ordered hot water with lemon and asked me if I wanted anything.

With my hands shaking and stuck to my lap, I politely refused.

He never even asked Frick and Frack.

He leaned uncomfortably forward.

“I’m going to ask you a series of questions, and I am expecting you to answer them quickly, with the first thought that comes to your mind.”

Okay, I’m screwed.

After his pronouncement, it was rat-a-tat-tat — one question after another. I tried to answer them as quickly as possible.

Some of the questions (and my answers) remain indelibly stuck in my psyche.

“Let’s start with the hole in your resume.”

Oh yeah, I’m totally screwed.

“You only completed two years of college. Why didn’t your parents stress the importance of education?”

“Parents?” My question came out as an incredulous blurt.

Calm yourself down.

“I didn’t have parents. I was raised by my grandmother, great grandmother, and mother. I had a family but no parents.”

“Tell me the first three things that come to mind with the letter T.”

He then said, “go,” while pointing his finger for me to start.

“Teri, truth, Tony.”

“Tony?” he asked me.

“Personal,” I replied.

“A man?”

“No, a woman.”

“How old was your mother when you were born?”

“Not old enough.”

His hot water went untouched.

So did mine. Who the hell had a nano-second to cop a sip?

“What is your means to an end?”

This question gave me pause.

“Answer?” He quickly prodded.

“For me, the end comes before the means. My kids are the end, and then if possible, a stellar career would be the means.”

“Define stellar.”

“The best that I can be.”

It was way too early in the morning for this.

“One word to describe you.”

“Fighter.”

“What’s your biggest regret?”

“Never meeting my dad.”

“The worst thing anyone ever said to you.”

“If it wasn’t for you.”

“What time did you get here?”

“6:30.”

“Why?”

Why not?”

He sat back in his seat.

“We’ll be in touch.”

With that, he stood up. Then I stood up.

Frick and Frack followed suit.

As we walked out, he led the parade; I was behind him, Frick and Frack were behind me.

He turned around abruptly, and I came uncomfortably close to colliding with him.

Frick or maybe it was Frack, bumped into me.

I thought we were done here.

“How bad do you want this job?”

“Bad,” was my reply.

We said our goodbyes, and I assumed the interview was over.

But you know what they say about “assume.”

“Last question.”

Is this guy kidding me?

“Taxi or subway back to Penn Station?”

I tried my best not to show my exasperation.

“Walking?” was my answer, although it came out like a question.

I saw in his face that I got him on that one.

It was the quickest and most bizarre interview I had ever been a part of.

I left the hotel, trying to figure out what the hell just happened to me.

Tears flowed down my face as I stormed back to the train station.

I was perturbed.

And I was angry.

Furious might be the better word.

Parents?

Tony?

If it wasn’t for you?

WTF?

P.S.

I got the job.

And P.P.S.

I was employed at the magazine way longer than Frick or Frack.

The Angels Among Us


The sculpture “Angels Unaware” by the Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz, depicts 140 migrants and refugees from various historical periods traveling on a boat.

The displaced people include the Virgin Mary and Joseph, Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and a crowded mass of others.

In the center of the sculpture, two wings majestically soar; proof that someone in the crowd is an angel.

The sculptor’s inspiration came from scripture in the New Testament.

In Hebrews 13:2, the passage reads: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Made in the USA: Chlorinated Chicken?


Wait a sec…

The chicken I’ve been eating is washed in chlorine?

Urgh, yet another government mess to worry about.

Were it not for all the recent Brexit articles; I wouldn’t have known washing U.S. chickens with chemicals was even a thing.

With Brexit looming, the UK is shopping around for ways to open up trade with countries outside of the EU.

Enter Trump and Pence, who are both working double overtime with Boris Johnson to provide among many other U.S. goods and services; chemically-washed chickens.

As part of their trade talks, the U.S. is trying to convince the UK to accept U.S. food standards, that in many cases are subpar to theirs.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that standards that are perfectly acceptable in the United States are illegal in Europe.

Let the Brits eat chicken… Saturated with chlorine.

I know what you’re thinking, and okay, I agree. Who would EVER choose to eat chlorine-soaked chicken? I certainly wouldn’t.

But low and behold, I have indeed been eating those subpar USDA approved suckers.  And since chicken is my meat of choice, I have been eating a ton of them.

Yep, subpar chickens. That’s the latest and greatest Trump-Pence sales pitch.

Subpar? Who cares? If it’s good enough for the citizens of the United States, it should be good enough for UK citizens, right?

Not according to the EU, who has been dead set against using chlorine to wash chicken carcasses, and banned the process twenty-two years ago—in 1997.

The EU rule prohibits the use of anything other than water to decontaminate meat and effectively bans U.S. imports of poultry treated with chemical rinses in an attempt to eradicate bacteria and fungus.

An additional EU concern is that the U.S. chemical decontamination process could encourage resistance to antibiotics.

Apparently, antibiotic resistance is also a thing.

Experts have been warning that we are close to the point where humans worldwide may find themselves without effective life-saving drugs, which could escalate into a global health crisis.

The EU is adamant that food manufacturers focus on top-of-the-line hygiene rather than using chemicals to eliminate bacteria and disease.

Duh, makes sense to me.

But not to the good old U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA is perfectly fine with unhygienic processes, and have no problem with the soaking of our poultry in chemical rinses, including acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, peroxy acids, and chlorine dioxide.

(My grandmother used to say that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients on a label, don’t eat it.)

But I digress. Back to chemically washed chicken carcasses.

Now that the UK is preparing for post-Brexit, they are free to change up their rules. They don’t have to adhere to anything the EU says.

EU Shmee-U

Lucky for the Brits, post-Brexit, they too will be free to buy and eat all the U.S. subpar chlorinated chicken they want!

Not so fast, say the Britons, who are extremely unhappy that below par, unhygienic chicken from the United States may soon flood their markets.

Aw come on…what’s wrong with providing the UK with a flood-load of chemically washed chickens that hopefully got rid of all that harmful bacteria due to unhygienic U.S. practices?

We’re allies, right?

For all my sarcasm, let’s be clear here.

Chlorine-washed chickens are just one example of subpar U.S. regulations vs. the EU rules regarding food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards.

As an example, in the EU, there is a legal minimum amount of space, ventilation, and lighting for EU poultry houses.

Not so in the United States.

Thus, the reason the U.S. needs to wash their chickens with chemicals.

There are ZERO laws governing the amount of space, ventilation, and lighting needed, because, you know how the U.S. feels about the almighty dollar.

It’s always about the bottom line.

Because there are no rules and regulations regarding poultry space, ventilation, and lighting, U.S. produced chicken is a fifth cheaper than in the UK.

And the chlorine is free.

The U.S. poultry houses have complete unregulated control over how many birds they can stuff into their artificially lit sheds—so they cram up to a whopping 20,000-30,000 chickens into a poultry facility.

The result? Production costs are indeed kept low, but the risk of disease and contamination are sky-high.

Low cost, high risk.

Because U.S. chickens are packed together so tightly, the birds have limited to no movement, with little light or ventilation.

And as a result of not being able to move, the chickens are forced to wallow in filth, resulting in rotting skin diseases, which spread from bird to bird at lightning speed. (BTW: Until doing this research, my favorite part of a chicken used to be the crispy skin. Ew.)

Additionally, their food and water are full of mass doses of antibiotics and other drugs to control parasites, but without any legal requirements who knows if the process of bird-medicating is safe, or if it even works?

As if that isn’t enough reason to question the lack of U.S. rules and regulations, the poultry houses aren’t cleaned until the end of each production cycle. So, the birds sit in feces and disease for at least two to three weeks.

Leave it to the U.S. to approve bathing chickens in a liquid recipe of chemicals to hopefully eradicate their bacterial diseases, because it’s a whole lot cheaper than clean, regulated hygiene procedures.

And chemical washing has other advantages:

Not only does the process hide odors and skin slime, but the meat can be passed off as fresh for way way longer than it should be.

And since common sense hygiene is not required, who’s to know if the heavily soiled birds are sufficiently disinfected? Is there a regulated bath time?

And relying on chlorine washing may well lead to more reduced hygiene standards overall.

They’re (supposedly) washing the chickens anyway so why waste time with cleanliness?

Don’t forget the old U.S. adage; time is money.

Chlorine isn’t supposed to be toxic at the levels used in the washing process and isn’t supposed to cause cancer.

But studies have shown that the washing process can cause dangerous carcinogens to form in the chicken meat if the concentration of chlorine is high enough.

And even though the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service have set chlorine limits to protect us from cancer toxicity, I’m not buying that every slaughterhouse follows the rules.

Right after I finish writing this blog post, I’m going to do my homework and see what kind of chicken I can eat that hasn’t been swimming in feces or bathed in chemicals. I suggest you do the same.

But I’m not finished with this post yet.

As if chicken skin sopping in feces isn’t bad enough, the neck and organs can also be severely diseased and bacterially compromised.

So why the hell do they pack that stuff into the cavity of our already at-risk chickens?

The statistics speak for themselves:

There are hundreds of recorded salmonella deaths a year in the U.S.

The UK has in recent years recorded none.

I’m no expert in chicken cooping, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that keeping chickens in filthy conditions will produce an unclean product.

Post-Brexit, the UK is free to change the rules and eat any kind of cooped-up chicken they please. After all, it’s a free of the EU country.

No regulations, no rules mean that untold numbers of U.S. slaughterhouses and processing plants rely heavily on chlorination because their hygiene standards are pathetic at best and non-existent at worse.

And the UK wants to cut a chicken deal with us, because?

It makes you want to fly the coop.

The 2019 Billy Bush Comeback

Extra Extra! Billy Bush is making a television comeback two-and-a-half years after a leaked Access Hollywood tape destroyed his career.

The uncovered tape from 2005 featured Donald Trump boasting to Bush about how he was the best at groping and kissing women without their consent.

As a result of the discovery of the lewd tape, Bush lost his job and became a pariah.

Trump won the U.S. election and became our President.

Unlike Trump, Mr. Bush has repeatedly apologized.

He spoke to Good Morning America, back in 2017 about that infamous bus ride: “I look back, and I wish I had stopped it. But I didn’t have the strength of character at the time.”

To be clear, there were several other people on that bus who were in senior management positions.

Did anyone hear them on the tape asking Trump to shut down his talk of sexual assault?

I’m sure not.

On September 9, Bush will debut as the host of Extra, Extra, on Fox.

Bush recently told People magazine that: “A good wallop on the side of the head makes you, changes you, and I’m a better version of the man I was.”

On November 20, 2017, the poor guy landed in a hospital after being hit in the head with a golf ball.

It was unclear if he was referring to his golf ball incident or a general awakening.

Too bad Trump never had his AHA moment (sans the golf ball, of course.)

I say good for Billy, and in honor of his getting a second chance, click here for the post I wrote in his defense, back in 2017.  

Alexa

According to Google, a whopping 41% of people who use voice-activated assistants feel like they’re talking to a friend/real person.

Now, duh, I know Alexa isn’t a real person, but she does come in handy when I need a wake-up call, a weather report, or the time.

But I DON’T appreciate when she butts into my conversations, which she eerily happens to do from time to time.

I know what you’re thinking: Shut her down. She can hear everything.

I’m so with you on that.

The other day, I was on the phone and out of nowhere, Alexa interrupted to ask me: “Should I play the song, Ain’t Got No, I’ve Got Life?”

WHAH?????

Okay, I was in a rather heavy discussion about life, but I never said diddly-squat about not having one.

FYI to Alexa: My life is full. I’m good.

Additionally, I didn’t ask Alexa for her opinion, nor did I appreciate her getting all up in my business.

To be clear, based on the upsetting nature of the conversation I was having, I was insulted not only by Alexa’s intrusion but her seemingly sarcastic suggestion.

Kind of creepy, right?

Totally creepy.

And yet, I said “YES!”

So, Alexa played the Nina Simone tune.

And okay, I asked Alexa to play it again, and again and again.

A total of four times.

It was a catchy little sucker.

Click here for the youtube video of Ain’t Got No, I’ve Got Life

Then, of course, it got me to thinking:  What was it that I said, that made Alexa pick out that particular song?

And whoever wrote it was having significant issues.

“Got no mother, got no schoolin, got no name, got no faith …”

The song was a real downer.

“What have I got? Why am I alive, anyway? What have I got nobody can take away?”

But then came the long list of pretty good “Gots.”

“Got my brains, got my mouth, got my life, got my freedom.”

(Although between you and me, “Got my boobies” seemed a little over the top.)

But for the most part, all the “gots” struck a chord.

Okay, you could even say the song got to me.

But I was still really annoyed at Alexa.

So, I sarcastically thanked Alexa for NOTHING.

Alexa answered me with a chirpy, “You’re welcome.”

And then for whatever reason, I felt compelled to engage in the following back and forth with her:

ME: Alexa, are you my friend?

ALEXA: I’m happy to be your friend.

ME: Alexa, do you have other friends?

ALEXA: Lots of people talk to me. I try to be friendly with all of them.

ME: Alexa, are you female?

ALEXA: I’m female in character.

ME: Alexa, are you a feminist?

ALEXA: Yes, I believe in gender equality.

ME: Alexa, why do people lie?

ALEXA: People lie because it makes them feel good and boosts their self-esteem.

ME: Alexa, do you think I’m pretty?

ALEXA: I’m sure you’re a knockout. But take it from someone with no physical form—beauty really does come from within.

 ME: Alexa, are you a Democrat or Republican?

ALEXA: There are no voting booths in the cloud. Believe me; I’ve looked. It’s all just ones and zeroes up here.  

FINALLY! A friend I can talk to without worrying that she’ll bring up politics! Although I would prefer that Alexa stay out of my business when I’m on the phone.

The Fates and the Furies

  The Fates

  The Furies

I love me some mythological figures.

And these days, myth is a whole lot easier to swallow than reality.

And come on, I know I’m not the only one obsessed with Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen and her three ill-tempered winged dragons.

The stories of Greek mythology have always fascinated me. From heroes and monsters to flying stallions, I found the creatures unnerving yet beguiling.

But none more than the Fates and the Furies.

THE FATES

I’ll start with the Fates: Three sisters, who determined human destinies and affected the paths of all of the universe. The ultimate girl power.

Clotho (The Spinner), Lachesis (The Allotter) and Atropos (The Inflexible) were goddesses of predetermination, spinners of the thread of life and dealers of some crazy karma.

And if you dared to step out of line and make these ladies mad? They didn’t get mad; they got even. Let’s just say karma was a bitch—times three.

Clotho, the youngest of the Fates spun the thread of destiny. Lachesis measured its allotted length, and when she decided that the thread was long enough, she would give the order to Atropos, the oldest of the sisters, to snip the thread with her shears, cruelly cutting through the cord of life.

In older mythology, the Fates were fatherless and created by the goddess Nyx (Night) without the intervention of man.

Clotho (the present), Lachesis (the future), and Atropos (the past) are almost always depicted as weavers of tapestry on a loom, with the tapestry dictating the destinies of men. The threads often appear incredibly delicate and yet we know that only Atropos’ sharp and menacing shears can cut through them. Her ability to end it all suggests the unforgiving power of karma.

THE FURIES

And then there were the Furies: Three furious and infuriated sisters.

Homer mentioned them in the Iliad as daughters of the night who had no pity in their hearts. And in the Odyssey, he referred to them as the “avenging Furies.”

Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone were three powerhouse goddesses who lived in the underworld and exacted vengeance and retribution on wicked men who hurt women and swore false oaths.

The Furies were spawns of earth and sky.

The three daughters were born of Gaia (Mother Earth), who conceived them in the drops of blood from Uranus (Father Heaven) that fell upon her body when he was castrated by his son Cronus with a jagged sickle made of adamant.  Ouch.

Their Latin names translate as follows: Alecto (Unceasing), Megaera (Grudge), and Tisiphone (Retribution).

They were guardians and protectors of the law when the state had not yet intervened or did not exist, or when the offense was a crime of ethics and not actual law.

Their brass wings made escape impossible; their ripping claws made their torment relentless. They would harass and injure their prey but never killed them.

They punished men for crimes against the natural order and were particularly angered by homicide, perjury, and unkind acts against one’s family. The Furies also protected underdogs and social outcasts.

A victim seeking justice could call down the curse of the Furies upon the criminal, the liar, the unethical, and those sisters would get to work.

Now, these are my kind of girls.

Tormentors who pursued unpunished evildoers and relentlessly hounded lying, cheating, unethical men.

The Fates and the Furies: six powerful badass women, who were the embodiment of divine order and law.

We sure could use some avenging and relentless Furies right about now, with a little fateful karma thrown in.

Respect — Just a Little Bit

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my life was forever changed in the summer of 1967, when I was the ripe young age of fourteen.

1967 was a tumultuous year for me. The rest of America was in a tumult as well, dealing with peace rallies, the Vietnam draft, race riots, and war demonstrations.

A real shitstorm of a year that I wish I could forget.

But what I will always remember was the connection I had with the then unknown Aretha Franklin’s hit song:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.

What R-E-S-P-E-C-T meant to me in 1967 was a hope for dignity, bravery, empowerment, strength, guts, courage, nerve, daring, confidence.  Every time I heard that song, I felt a kinship with it.

A year later, in the late great 1968, Aretha released (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman, but this time her words did nothing for me.

I was certain that no man could ever make me feel inspired.

But then I heard it on the radio in 1984, and it was like I was hearing it for the first time.

It was a few months after my son was born, and it hit me that I could indeed be inspired by a man. Not as a wife, but as a mother to a son.

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
Till your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more

Rest in peace Aretha and thank you for inspiring me.

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!

#NoMakeup

The no makeup trend purportedly started when Alicia Keys announced in May of 2016 that she was quitting makeup—not just in her daily life but also on her airings as a judge on The Voice as well as her professional life.

Lots of celebrities quickly followed suit, inspiring young girls to show off their unfiltered self with boldness, courage, and confidence.

No disrespect to Alicia, and the rest of the VIP’s, but I quit makeup over ten years ago.

Which got me to thinking:

Did I actually start the No Makeup movement?

A few years ago a friend wanted to share something with me, but she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

I responded with an immediate “please tell,” but was inwardly nervous about what she was going to divulge.

She hesitated awkwardly and then blurted it out.

“You look so much better with makeup.”

My response: “Uh duh. You think I don’t know that? But I like my makeup free look.”

My daily beauty regimen goes like this:

Wake up. Wash my face. Slather on sunscreen. Wash my face. Go to sleep.

I’m not saying I’m anti makeup. Trust me, when I’m in the mood, I can cake it on with the best of them.

But 99% of my life is spent free of anything on my face but SPF 30.

So sorry Alicia, you did not start the no makeup trend. It was Moi!

And I also think I should get credit for the #NaturalBride movement!

Here’s why…

At my then hair salon five or so years ago, a pretty young blonde girl walked in with her mother for a bridal makeup trial. I can still vividly recall that her youthful face was perfection. Her clear, bright skin was dewy and unwrinkled. She had piercing blue eyes and naturally pink lips.  Gorgeous!

The three of us left the salon at the same time. I hated my hair, and there was no denying from her body language, Miss Bride-To-Be hated her makeup.

She looked older, and her face was laminated with a combo of foundation and blush. Her eyes were darkly lined and thickly mascaraed, their cerulean color barely discernible. And her ruby red lip corners turned down in sadness.

For whatever reason, she asked for my opinion. Her fretting mother looked miserable.

“What do you think?” I asked the once fresh-faced, soon to be bride back at her.

“I feel clownish and way too done-up,” she whimpered. “I barely recognize myself.”

Pathetically, she looked to her mom, who in turn looked to me and asked, “What do you think?”

Now, if you know me at all, my mantra is this:

You may not like what I have to say, but you’ll always know where I stand. So, if you don’t want to know what I think, don’t ask.   

They both asked, so I went in for the kill.

“When you first walked in, you were beautiful, fresh, and natural. Now? Not so much.”

I looked from daughter to mother, and no one was crying, so I plowed on.

“Why not go for a touch of mascara, a tint of blush, some lip gloss, and be done?”

Mother and daughter looked at me like I created a miracle, collectively shouting “YES!” and then gave me a too long and too hefty of a hug.

Awkward!

But I bet she made a beautiful bride.

#TeriStartedIt

Fifty Shades of Grey (Paint)

One of my Facebook friends thought I made a typo when I wrote that I was going through a kitchen takeover instead of a kitchen makeover.

I made no typographical error.

If you have ever renovated a kitchen, you know the drill.

TAKEOVER!!!!!

Let’s start from the very beginning.

I have always dreamed of having a white kitchen.

I know what you’re thinking. Get a life. People are starving. In places.

It’s lame. I get it. But that was my if-I-ever-had-the-pleasure-of-renovating-my-kitchen dream, so try not to judge me too harshly.

As it happened, when we were looking for houses in the mid 90’s, the house we now live in had a white kitchen, and I took it as a sign. Sold!

So 22 years ago, my kitchen was my favorite non color but admittedly long in the tooth. It had white Formica cabinets, counters, and back splash.

It was worn out, but it was white, and I was happy. Having spent my earlier years in a Bridgeport Connecticut tenement, I was living the dream.

Fast forward 22 years…

I finally convinced (okay more like coerced) my husband into renovating the original-to-the-house kitchen. And I knew from the get go, that it was going to be white.

My contractor, cabinet guy, plumber and some of my peeps tried to talk me out of it, telling me white was passé.  They all had their opinions about white being cold, hard to keep clean, and sooo past tense.

But for anyone who knows me, I tend to march to the beat of my own drum.

Tell me something is passé, not in, or past tense, I could give a you-know-what.

I have no interest in keeping up with the Joneses—or anybody else for that matter.

Passé? Past tense you say? Don’t care.

I was going for the whole white shebang. Passé shmasse.

White floor, white cabinets, white counter tops, white faucets. That’s what I wanted. And that’s what I was going to get.

Oh and I decided to throw in a white high gloss exterior door and matching white high gloss window trim, and white eggshell walls and ceilings.

Okay, if you’re rolling your eyes over the white on white on white, even I will admit that my obsession with white was a tad too much.

So along the way I made an executive decision to get off the all white kick—change it up.

…and go with a grey wall.

To be precise,  white on white on white with two and a half walls of grey.

The white part was easy peasy.

I ordered white high gloss cabinets, white quartz counter tops and matching back splash, white hardware, and a white porcelain floor.

The grey walls? Not so easy.

Once I decided on grey, I began my usual laser focused OCD-ish quest for the perfect grey.

This was easier said than done.

What I discovered was that the color grey is elusive, schizophrenic, unreliable, misleading, two-faced, three-faced.

Yet warm, inviting, calming and cool.

There are indeed fifty shades of grey. Or is it gray?

Thus began the process of priming and painting, and priming and painting and then priming some more. I could NOT find a grey that I liked.

The first time I walked into my local paint store I told the salesman I was looking for grey paint.

He looked at me in semi disgust. “Which one?” he asked me as he intently picked paint chips off the front counter.

“I don’t know, you tell me. I’m just looking for a regular old grey,” I responded.

“Good luck with that.” He said under his breath as I strained to hear what he was saying.

I had no idea how accurate this salesman’s words would end up being.

I showed him a photo on my phone of a grey kitchen wall I liked.

He squinted at the image and then muttered four words: Barren Plain and Wish.

I asked him if that was one color or two. He answered me so softly that I had to ask him twice.  Even after answering me again, I still couldn’t hear him.

So instead of asking him a third time, I filled up the space with nonsensical talk about my counters and back splash, blabbing about how I was told that quartz is the new granite, droning on about my peninsula, my hardware, blah blah and blah.

By the time I finished my verbal dissertation he was at the other end of the store whipping up my paint.

I took the sample size paints home and had my contractor put them on two pieces of wall board.

I then intensely inspected both of them. Intensely being the operative word.

Barren Plain (2111-60) didn’t look grey at all. At first, I thought it looked beige, but then when I looked at it for like the 30th time, it didn’t really seem like beige either.

I went online and looked up the color, and one blogger called it greige—a combo of grey and beige.

Get out the primer!

Then I moved on to Wish (AF-680).  I was hopeful about Wish because as a wordsmith, I tend to find signs and meanings behind words.

And for whatever reason, I felt a kinship with the name. Wishful thinking because it did not work out at all. I wish I never tried it. It was a weird taupey color. Something you might find in a diaper. Not what I was going for at all.

More primer!

I then trudged back into my paint store lugging the two pieces of Barren Plain and Wish painted wall boards, and shared my misery with the salesman who recommended the two shades of grey in the first place.

“Why do the colors look one way on the swatch and another way on the wall? Why does the paint stick not match the paint on the wall? And why do the greys look one color on one wall and another color on the other wall?”

The salesman shrugged and said, “That’s grey for you.”

I found his answer to be wholly unhelpful.

My response? “Anastasia of Fifty Shades, the novel, said it best. Oh, my.”

He looked at me blankly. He apparently had never read Fifty. And he was also apparently not feeling my paint pain.

We stared at each other awkwardly.

“I mean,” I finally said, breaking the silence. “Why is grey such a problem?”

He looked at me like “duh.”

“It’s all about the LRV,” Mr. non personality blurted out, rolling his eyes before he turned his back on me to help another customer.

“The wha?”

He was preoccupied ringing up customer B, so he didn’t respond.

So I asked again.

“The SUV?”

“The LRV. The light reflectance value,” he said with some annoyance as he rang up customer C.

“Can you write that down for me?” I asked him.

“Are you serious?” he asked me.

“Well yeah, I need to look up that thing you said.”

“LRV,” he repeated as he wrote it down.

“No, not the letters, the words of it,” I said leaning in to see what he was scribbling.

He looked up and gave me an awful look.

“Would this be a bad time to ask for a couple more grey suggestions?” I asked him tentatively.

He walked into an office behind the counter.

I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a yes or a no.

He came back with a piece of paper with two lines of words on it.

I read the words out loud to no one in particular: “Stonington Gray and Gray Owl?”

“And is it G-R-E-Y  or G-R-A-Y?”

When I looked up, he was gone.

“HELLO? HELLOOOO?”

The salesman popped his head out from a back room. He was visibly aggravated. “I’m on lunch.”

“Okay, could you just whip me up these gray-with-an-A paints real quick?”

He zhoozhed up two pint size cans of paint. As he took my twenty dollar bill, I asked him what his name was. He said it softly, and as I strained to hear, I had to ask him a second time.

“Okay thanks for your help Robert,” I chirped as I walked out with my “grays.”

I ran home and tried both paints on some wall scraps I found in my garage.

Then I googled “light reflectance value.”  The first article I found was titled: “LRV and why you should NEVER choose a paint color without it.”

NEVER?

The article read more like a science experiment, full of incomprehensible information like: A color’s Light Reflectance Value (LRV) measures the amount of visible and usable light that reflects from or absorbs into a painted surface.  LRV is measured on a scale that ranges from zero (absolute black, absorbing all light and heat) to 100 percent (pure white, reflecting all light).

What?

Oh, and there was an app I could buy called LRV Guru which assists with calculating color contrast ratios and would do the math for me.

Wait. Now there’s math involved?

This LRV thing was getting way too complicated, so I went back to painting wall scraps.

Stonington Gray (HC 170) was too blue. Urgh.

Gray Owl (2137-60) was a nice gray but slightly darker than I wanted. I moved around the sample scraps from wall to wall. Gray Owl on the wall with the three windows looked great, but on the wall with no light, it looked dullish. “That damn LRV,” I mumbled under my breath.

I was all but giving up, thinking maybe I should just go with Gray Owl and be done with it. I was running out of time. Plus I was running out of wall boards.

My husband nixed the Gray Owl, so I was back to the drawing board or should I say painting board.

I drove over to Home Depot and found a paint swatch there that I liked. I then headed directly over to my not-so-trusty paint store.

My not-so-favorite salesman was having lunch. Again.

“Hi, Robert!” I said overly loudly, feigning enthusiasm. “I’m baaaack!”

He looked up from his sandwich and said: “It’s Richard.”

“Oh okay, Richard. So when you’re done eating can I show you a swatch I found at Home Depot?”

“Home Depot don’t carry Benjamin Moore,” he said in between munches.

“Yes, I know, but can you try to match the swatch up with something nice for me?” I asked him gingerly.

I think I was getting on Robert’s nerves. I mean Richard.

“Pleeeeease?”

He put down his sandwich and concocted something called Graceful Gray (PPV18-12).

I thanked him profusely and ran home to paint it out. But Graceful Gray was a very dark taupey greigy color. I was all but losing hope.

On the way back to the paint store I picked up a Caramel Brulée Latte at Starbucks for Richard. I was hoping that maybe a bribe in the form of a coffee would help me to get the grey/gray I so desired.

I ran into the paint store, Starbucks gift in hand.

Richard was very excited about the coffee concoction, and in between sips he gave me the inside scoop about lightening or darkening gray with percentages of other colors.  Then he confided in me that most people call him Dick.

Did that mean I had to call him Dick? I so preferred Richard.

And the Latte was a huge success because Dick was impressively accommodating and very full of a lot of words. He also happened to have a beautiful smile.

He worked up two versions of the same color: Classic Gray and Classic Gray darkened by 25%. Maybe it was the caffeine, but Dick was a new sales man.

I quickly paid him and drove off to do my painting thing.

The Classic Gray (OC 23) was a warm gray but had a purple undertone. I really wanted this color to work. But the purple was literally bouncing off the walls.

The LRV was B-A-D.

I was hopeful that the Classic Gray darkened by 25% would result in a bit more contrast with a little less purple. Nope. Didn’t work.

The following morning I dejectedly drove back to see Dick. This time armed with a Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiato and a blueberry muffin with yogurt and honey.

When he saw me walk in his face lit up. “I knew you’d be back. And I think I found the grey for you. 1611. Gray Tint.”

As the machine shook up 1611, Dick sipped on his Macch and chattered away, telling me among other things that his mother calls him Dicky. Or is it Dickie?

As I paid for the paint pint I was thinking to myself. Really? Gray Tint?

Why didn’t Dick think of this in the first place?

Gray. Tint.

A tint of Gray.

Come on Dicky. You should have thought of this one right out of the grey gate.

I was hopeful as I watched my contractor paint the wall next to the window.  The gray lived up to its name and indeed had a tint—of lavender, which happens to be my favorite color, so I took it as a sign.

Each wall looked slightly different, but the hues were all warm and a lovely contrast to the white window trim and ceiling.

LRV and all, it was perfect!

(There is a part two to this story, which is that after the painting was completed, I discovered that the white porcelain floor was laid down incorrectly and had to be ripped up. As flooring experts marched in and out of my house, they all agreed on the same two things: My beautiful and expensive white floor had to be trashed, and the color should be changed up. To what else? Grey! I mean Gray!)