The Vinegar Trick and Some Magic

Hi, folks. Been a while!

I decided to update this thing because I have discovered a really cool trick to help keep dishwashers (and your dishes) from smelling funky, and it’s too good not to share with the tens of readers who follow this blog. (And just a quick note, everything here is solely my personal opinion and I was not asked to plug any specific product.)

You know how your dishes can be “clean” right from the dishwasher but they smell disgusting? Like someone blow-dried on some nasty invisible funk smell? Well, that wet dog, “earthworm” smell indicates that your dishwasher itself needs a really thorough cleansing in the crevices you can’t reach. Think about if you dipped your toothbrush in the toilet–you wouldn’t want to put it back in your mouth, right? Well, that odor tells you that your dishes have gone in the toilet.

Okay, now that we’re all grossed out, I’m going to recommend a product called Dishwasher Magic.


That stuff is the bees’ knees. We use it every 3-6 months in our household to clean the mechanisms in the dishwasher which do the actual cleaning of the dishes. It not only gets rid of calcium buildup but it disinfects; it claims to get rid of both salmonella and e.coli. That’s a winner right there.

But the second thing you can do, and the trick that inspired this post, is to use good old-fashioned white distilled vinegar as an in-between rinse. I do two things with this: I fill the rinse-aid container with vinegar instead of Jet Dry, which helps with spots and overall cleanliness; I also use a “vinegar rinse” every few cycles (or when I start to smell funk) and pair it with the light or delicate cycle. What that means is, I take a tall glass and fill it halfway with white distilled vinegar, place it securely on the bottom rack where it sits flat, and turn the dishwasher on the delicate cycle.

That’s it!

Seriously, that’s all it takes. I’ve even tested it by putting some “clean” dishes that smell like wet dog in the upper rack of the dishwasher with the cup of vinegar sitting on the bottom, and they come out smelling fresh (read: like clean glass and nothing else).

It saves your sanity, a little money, and you don’t have to actually scrub out the dishwasher itself.

It seriously works and, if you’re like me who has strong smell aversions, you will want to start doing this right away.

Hope this helps anyone out there who is washing everything by hand because the inside of the dishwasher smells like a garbage heap. Let me know if you try the Dishwasher Magic or the vinegar trick and what you think!


FitBitter and Thirty-Fiveness

Kite Aerial Photography above Prescott, MI Explored!

Photo courtesy of George Thomas on Flickr

I’ve hit some invisible milestone in my life’s journey. Tripped over it is more like it.

Maybe it’s better to say I came to a crossroads. Perhaps it’s because this year marks ten years since I graduated from college. Inwardly, my eyes widen at the thought. Has it really been ten freaking years? Followed by: holy crap, a lot has happened in a decade.

As I began my college journey at twenty-one, I was twenty-five when I graduated, so ten years since that point in time goes from exactly mid-twenties to exactly mid-thirties. The differences between twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five are so remarkably different, it takes my breath away. And sometimes makes me laugh, since I’m the same-but-also-different person from who I was at 25.

By now, lots of people my age are parents; I am not one at this point. Still, it is not a little awing to watch almost everyone you know become a parent. I’m going to borrow the imagery that the metamorphosis is akin to watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis–they’re the same beings, but markedly different. My basic point is that even not being a parent, hitting thirty-five is a particular time in life where I’m re-prioritizing my priorities. What’s next? What do I want go glean from life? (And also, oh God, I only have five more years before I’m 40!)

Case in point: I’ve napped far too long on the subject of my health. After I dealt with some health issues between 2011 and 2012, I thought it would be easier to get all disciplined about taking better care of myself. Unfortunately, in the wake of chronic stress from work, then suddenly finding myself engaged and doing All the Wedding Planning, those events did the opposite of motivating me to get more exercise and change my nutritional intake and habits.

I know most women love using a wedding as a reason to go all kinds of crazy about slimming down to fit into a dress, but that just wasn’t and isn’t my style. I felt I couldn’t handle the pressure to look a certain way on top of managing all the other zillion details going on in that eighteen-month planning period. And ultimately, I am relieved for multiple reasons that I did not give in to that notion.

Fast forward to early July of 2015, where I had been ruminating for what feels like an eternity on my health and habits, and I had my moment where I made the decision I was going to do something differently when I decided to just step on the scale and face what I’d been avoiding.

The number that stared back at me jolted me.

The perfect word for being at a loss for words

The perfect meme for being at a loss for words

I decided, in a flash and with zero hesitation, that I was changing some things. This could no longer stand.

Normally, the infantile part of myself that is scared to make changes, particularly when it comes to self-care and exercise, would rear her ugly head and paralyze me. Somehow, the in-charge adult upstairs managed to lock her in a closet so I could do what I needed to do without over-analyzing everything to death, as is my proclivity in life.

where-the-magic-happensI knew that if I was going to do something 180 from my current lifestyle, and if I wanted to effect long-lasting habits, I was going to have to try something I hadn’t before.

With a deep breath, I began researching fitness monitors and, with the recommendation of a coworker, went with a FitBit HR charge. It comes in two colors: dude/unisex and more feminine/plum. Normally, I would have gone for the plum but the plum stands out more, in my opinion, and I wear a lot of black, so I figured the black one would “blend in” as much as one can.

I usually avoid wearing anything on my wrists, including bracelets, but this wasn’t about what I wanted to be doing, something I’m still reminding myself of, and wearing a fitness device certainly isn’t a fashion statement, no matter what the companies purport.

Another reason I chose the fitness monitor that I did is the FitBit app ranks quite highly, if not at the top of the pile, and now that I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks, I can see why.

It is simple-pimple to use, for starters. All of the metrics it tracks are cool and convenient, especially if you’re a metrics/stats nerd, as I am. I’ve used it to track my sleep but as time has gone on, I find that being such a light sleeper makes me much more aware that I have the FitBit on, so I usually take it off at night. Still, for an occasional nap or just for experimentation’s sake, it really is eye-opening to see how restless one is during sleep hours.

A trend I noticed right off is that I went from pretty highly restless, as high as 33 times a night, to far far far less restless, maybe 1-7 times a night, especially as I increased my workouts during the week. There would be long stretches of “radio silence” showing on the app, which means deep sleep, and I began noticing I was generally more refreshed in the mornings, even for work and waking at 6am.

FitBit will send weekly progress reports, award arbitrary “badges” along the way, and I gotta admit it’s cute when the FitBit does it’s little happy dance when I reach my step goal for the day. (And for anyone interested, Zumba classes give you lots and lots of steps to help knock down that goal.) I’ve made friends with a wrist unit and for the time being, we’re on good terms.

The bottom line here is that for the first time in a really long time (and in some aspects of this, first time ever), I’m utilizing the tools at my disposal, e.g. a gym membership and a fitness monitor, to help me actively work toward long-standing goals that have been sitting on a shelf in my brain collecting dust for a long time. I also fully admit that having a supportive spouse who is along for the ride is half the battle. We are both eating healthier, making activity a priority, and enjoying not feeling completely wiped out every single night from a day at work. Exercise seems to be breathing life into the precious few hours we have in a given day for personal time, much as I hate to admit it, or even as much as I hate to get sweaty and gross to attain it.

The hardest part of all of this, honestly, is going to be remaining patient and focusing on the journey, while at the same time keeping my eyes on the end goal. It’s so easy to give up. And boring, frankly. People get all excited when they first hear that you’re making lifestyle changes and then after a week or so, forget about it until one day, they’re like, “Are you still doing that?” Yes, yes I am.

To be perfectly Stuart Smalley about it, it’s all about “progress, not perfection.” So here goes nothing.


Forget the water cooler–it’s all about the headache medicine.

Desk skeleton

Photo courtesy of Witty nickname on Flickr   An interesting phenomenon has been occurring in my office over the past couple of years, though it took place so slowly I hardly noticed it. I keep a desk drawer full of personal items at work. I presume most people, especially women, have at least one. All […]

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I have been away from the writing machine for a while. I didn’t disappear into a vacuum (though I have my days I wish I could). My energies have been focused on the other arena of creative work which I have written about a lot since 2014–that being crochet. There is so much to learn […]

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Pastel Mania

Pastel Swabs_zoesays

It being Spring means my love for pastels can blossom for a month or two before it has to shrivel away again for ten months. Most people associate pastels only with babies. I get that. Should I ever have children, I will have an incredibly difficult time narrowing down colors for the baby’s room. (Official […]

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The Angst of Buying a Blender

It looks like a regular blender, right? But....$500?

Daily married life, thus far, hasn’t proved to be an entirely different experience than when my husband and I were just “boyfriend-girlfriend.” I take comfort in that. However, one subtle shift has taken place: buying things for the home. Unless I purchase something completely personal to me that doesn’t wipe out our savings, everything else […]

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On Making and Selling

Well hello, friends! It’s been a little while. Here are some thoughts I jotted down about being an artist and making money at it. — While there are some questionable “arts” out there, generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say that most people who create can be termed an artist of some kind. Not […]

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Being super "we" and "us" makes me feel like Meg and Hamilton Swan sometimes.

Happy New Year, friends! I took a little sabbatical from posting in the latter part of 2014 and there is good reason for that. On October 25, 2014, I married my best friend and the most wonderful man I know. After almost two whole years of engagement, planning a wedding, and designing a honeymoon that […]

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