Captioning Your Memories (or “You Did What to That Antique?!”)

A couple of years ago, I cleaned out the boxes in our “attic”. I got rid of the stuff we thought we might use again when we put it in the box, but was now obvious we never would. When I cleaned out the memory boxes*, I got rid of all the things I couldn’t remember why we’d saved or what they were. There were little bits of paper, champagne corks, broken toys, pressed flowers, and other things that brought no recollection of any happy time enjoyed with them. I’m sure these objects were important to us at one time. I’m certain that if I could remember when we got them or what memory they stood for, it would warm my heart and maybe bring a tear to my eye. But at this moment, it was nothing but stuff taking up space.

That’s when I started labeling our memories.

I don’t have the best memory to begin with. Thank God for the advent of digital photography. Without the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the years, I probably wouldn’t have much memory of individual events at all. And here’s where I should be telling you that I print out a small photo of the event that goes with the memory item, and put both in a Ziplock bag so they stay together when I put them into the memory box. Then when I go through the memory box in years to come, the photo instantly brings back a full recollection of the day.

But I’m not that organized. And I just thought of that idea this minute. And it might take too much effort to find and print the photo. I tend to like to do things the most expedient (read: easy) way.

So what I did do when I cleaned out the memory boxes was to write little snippets of the memories on small pieces of paper and attach them to every item that might not be remembered the moment it was again discovered. A baby’s shirt might say, “J wore this to the first baseball game he ever attended. Nana & Papa came with us” and the date as best I could remember it. I didn’t write out all the details, just enough to bring to mind the rest of the story.

And just this moment, I decided I’m going to call this “Captioning,” because it is just like putting a caption on a photograph.

Now when I put stuff into our memory boxes, I put a tag on them of some sort, a caption. What use is a memento if you can’t remember what it stands for?

I do this on lots of stuff in different ways. My favorite is the wine corks. I only started liking wine on my 50th birthday. Four people gave me red wine, but I wasn’t a wine drinker at all. I wanted them to know I appreciated their gifts, so we opened a bottle at the party. I was surprised to find I actually liked it! Since then, Hubby and I have been exploring wines a little. So when we have a bottle on a special occasion (or a Wednesday), I write the date and what we were doing on the cork, and then save it in our big glass jar. It’s a funky scrapbook of family memories.

Someday someone is going to replace our laminate flooring. When they do, they are going to find the memories all four of us wrote on the sub-floor the day we installed the flooring.

I caption the scorecard when we are playing any game that requires the score to be kept on paper, like Scrabble or Password. I write at the top of the score pad who’s playing, what else we did that day, and the date. When we play again, we can go back through the memories of other fun times.

I also (now some of you may cringe at this, especially if you love antiques) write on the undersides of old furniture. Hubby and I love to look at old (especially mid-century) furniture and household things and speculate about the life they have lived. Who owned this? How long did they have it? Was it a happy home? Things like that. So for the sake of whoever owns some of our pieces later, I’ve written some of the history on a hidden part of it. We have a lamp table from Hub’s grandfather’s house from the 1940’s or 50’s, an old drop leaf table Hub bought for me when I was away at a ladies’ retreat in 1985, a clock his parents got when they first got married, and a few other pieces on which I’ve written the history as I know it on some hidden part. Monetarily, it might decrease the value, but historically and sentimentally I think it increases the value.  

So what about you? Do you do anything like this to help you and those who come after you know what made special objects special?

*Memory Boxes: I have always kept a box with a lid on it in each family member’s closet. They are marked with their name, dated, and numbered in succession. When there is a memento from a special event, it’s labeled and dropped into the memory box. It’s lazy scrapbooking, but it works. When the box is full, it goes into the attic, and a new box is started. I only hope is that now that my kids are getting to the stage of leaving the nest, they going to take all their boxes with them!

It’s Kor-REEN not Kor-RIN

Yesterday, Dan Haseltine, lead singer of Jars of Clay, tweeted, “Officially Pronounced:  Hass-el—tyn e (silent e) or Hassell tine.  or Hasselhoff without the hoff but with the tine.  not teen.”

I know how he feels. All my life people have been mispronouncing my name. Even as I sat in the doctor’s office waiting room yesterday reading that tweet, the doctor walked by and said, “Hey Corrine! I’ll be with you in a minute” pronouncing my name incorrectly, as if there were no “e” at the end.

I usually only correct people if I am meeting them for the first time. After that, I don’t want to embarrass them or myself by saying, “Um…we’ve known each other for a while now, and you still can’t seem to get my name right.” It’s usually somebody that I don’t see very often, so what’s the harm if they say my name in that way that sounds like fingernails on the chalkboard…I mean…if they say it incorrectly? It’s better than embarrassing them.

Or is it? Sometimes the people you don’t see very often become people you work with, and then it gets uncomfortable.

We have been going to our church and have known the staff casually for about eight years, but not in any way where they had to use my name much. I guess I wasn’t even really aware that everyone at the church pronounced it wrong. Okay. I was very aware. But heck, how do you correct the entire church staff?

Once a year, our church puts on a concert. I’m in charge of the volunteers and selling tickets. A year and a half ago, we were getting ready to bring in Phil Wickham. I got a message on my phone from our music pastor. It was the first time he had ever called me and gotten my voicemail. His message started with, “Um…I noticed I have been pronouncing your name wrong for years. You should correct me.” We were both embarrassed, but we laughed about it. The fact that it was funny made it easy to spread the story around to others in the church, and thus correct everyone at the same time. Of course, now that I let them pronounce it wrong for so long, it’s even harder for them to remember which is the right way. But they do try, and I love them for that.

I may never meet some of you in person, but when you read my tweets and this blog, you should be able to pronounce my name properly in your head. So here is a very short tutorial.

I was named after the French movie star from the 1950’s Corinne Calvet. As my mom sat in her high school typing class typing the name and dreaming of her someday when she would be a wife and mother, she changed the spelling to Corrine, and decided on the pronunciation.

My name, Corrine, is pronounced Kor-REEN . Think of it like the stuff in bleach, chlorine. They end the same, “rine”, which you’d think would be pronounced “ryne” with a long “I” sound instead of a long “e” sound. That’s the way computer voices pronounce it, Ko-RYNE.

Mostly people call me Corinne, which is pronounced Kor-RIN. I know they don’t mean to say it wrong, but that pronunciation just grates on me. I don’t know why. I guess because it’s not my name. I think it sounds harsh that way. I often wonder which I’d prefer if I just came upon the name, and it wasn’t my name.

Click here to hear the difference between how I pronounce my name (the first entry) and how you should not pronounce my name (the second entry). 

I’ll also answer to KREEN or Ker-REEN. Seems like a less-formal version of Kor-REEN. That’s how my family has always said it, so it feels homey. My cousins always sang “Corrina, Corrina” to me, or “Kreen in my coffee, dirt in my toes” while they were teasing me. I don’t know where they got that last one from, but at least they pronounced it correctly.

If you tell a woman you like her new (shoes, outfit, purse, pillowcases, anything), she will tell you where she got them and how much money she saved (with her coupons, because they were on sale, because she found a little imperfection and told the salesgirl she refused to pay full price, because she went to the discount store where it was half off what she saw it for at Macy’s last month). We like to show you how clever we are.

One of Those Days (or Little Victories)

It’s Monday. Not only is it Monday, it’s one of those Mondays. And they don’t necessarily have to happen on Mondays. It can just be one of those days. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about, those days when you don’t know where to start, or can’t get started at all.

I know I want to blog, but if I sit down, I may not get up again. I have a whole day ahead of me, so it would be a great time to clean my office. But it’s been a week since I cleaned the upstairs, and it’s time to do that again. If I don’t do it today, I don’t know when I’ll get to it, and then it will take longer because it’ll be dirtier. I also need to make a grocery list for the dinners I plan to make this week; it would be great if I could knock out the shopping, too. There are a few bills I need to pay, and some stuff I need to get ready to mail, and some phone calls to make, and on, and on, and on.

And really, this is most days, isn’t it? But on one of those days like today, my energy level is low, and my brain doesn’t seem to want to do anything but lie on a cerebral couch and eat mental bonbons all day.

For us women, I blame hormones. Those little chemicals dance around our brains and change us from week to week back and forth in varying degrees between super-women who are conquers of all we set out to do, to blobs unable to do much but retain water.

I know your first thought is, “Coffee!” But sadly, caffeine and I have a love/hate relationship. We can get along for a while, and then BAM! It turns on me, collecting in my body and causing anxiety attacks. What kind of friend does that to you!? So I try to stay away. Even when I can take it, it rarely helps me go-go-go. So the drug of choice for the masses is usually a dud for me.

Days like this, I can spend so much of the day trying to decide what to do that there ends up being no time to actually do it. And then I’m depressed that I wasted the day.

I have found that inactivity breeds inactivity, meaning the more you sit around doing nothing, the harder it is to get started. When you don’t know what to do, just do something! Anything! And one thing usually leads to another, and another. Next thing you know, you’re checking things off your to-do list and feeling like a champ!

I didn’t mean to go all Little Mary Sunshine on you. This piece of advice sounds much easier than it is. And it is the kind of thing our moms said to us when we were teenagers. We usually rolled our eyes and huffed at her, maybe throwing in an “Oh, Mo-ther” in that annoyed “You’re so yesterday” tone. But she was right, and if we can just kick ourselves in the butt a little and get one little victory somewhere, it helps to get us going.

That’s what I call anything I accomplish, a victory. It’s a victory over the to-do list and procrastination, and that feels so good!! Once I finish this blog entry, it’s a victory! And that gives me a little rush of excitement, a little adrenaline, and fuels me a little to start towards the next victory.

What about you? What is your secret to getting going when you don’t know where to start, or don’t feel like doing anything at all? 

How to Clean Your Bathroom

“Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.” – Lord Chesterfield

Earlier, I said I was going to talk about how to clean a bathroom. Today’s the day! I can feel your excitement right through my keyboard as I type. (If this were on Twitter, I’d be hashtagging it #mundane.)

So yeah, it’s not the most exciting thing to talk about. In fact, cleaning the bathroom is my least favorite job in the whole repertoire. But it’s got to be done, or things get smelly and nasty and just plain unsanitary.

I thought twice about posting this, thinking there must be lots of other sites that had this information. When I looked I found that most make the job too hard. Some start with taking everything out of the bathroom that can be removed, including the shower curtain. Really? Every week? Not this girl. I like to do a thorough job, but keep it simple at the same time.

I’ll tell you what products I have found to be best, but really the most important products are elbow grease and a good sponge with a scrubby side. And the order you do things is up to you, as well. I usually start with the toilet, because I don’t want to be kneeling next to a dirty toilet as I clean the tub. Sometimes I start with the shower, because it’s the biggest part of the job, and I want to get it done first. It’s a mental trick I use on myself to make the job seem easier.

Ok. Here we go. (Basic instructions in bold text.)

  1. Remove the rugs, give them a shake or five, and then sweep the floor. It’s easier to sweep before you clean, when it’s dry. The floor tends to get wet when I clean the bathroom. I sweep the bathroom dirt out into the hallway, before I vacuum the hall. Easier than using a dustpan. And yes, you should take the bathroom rugs outside and give them a good shake, but that takes longer, so I shake them the best I can inside without getting stuff everywhere, but well enough to remove all the dirt from them. Leave the rug outside the bathroom until you’ve finished cleaning.
  2. Flush the toilet, lift the lid and seat, and then squirt toilet bowl cleaner up under the rim of the bowl. You don’t have to use a lot, just enough to go around the rim once and cascade down into the water. Use a good toilet bowl brush (good = enough bristles so you don’t scratch the bowl with the metal part, and doesn’t come apart when you use it) to scrub (and I mean scrub) every inch of the inside of the bowl. Don’t forget up under the rim where the water comes out and mildew hides, and down deep where the water leaves the bowl, and along the water line where stains hide. Flush the toilet, and rinse the brush in the clean water. I keep my toilet brush in a plastic cup in my bathroom cleaning supplies box, which I keep under the bathroom sink in one of the bathrooms. It’s much simpler to keep all your supplies together in something plastic in which you can carry them around, than to have to gather them when it’s time to clean.
  3. Using a disinfectant wipe or a paper towel and window cleaner, wipe down the entire outside surface of the toilet. Start at the top, because it’ll be the cleanest part. Be sure to turn the wipe over and use clean surfaces as it gets full of dust and hair. It might take two wipes. I start with mine folded, and unfold and refold as needed, and try to just use one. Depends on how much hair we’ve all shed this week. This is, without a doubt, the nastiest part of the job, especially if you have little boys.
  4.  Take the shampoo, soap, etc., out of the bathtub/shower and spray the walls with cleaner. Let the spray do it’s magic on the walls for a couple of minutes before you scrub. These cleaners work well, so let them do as much as they can before you start wiping them off. I really like Mr. Clean Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner. I also like the Scrubbing Bubbles spray, but I think the can runs out a lot faster and ends up costing more. I’d love to learn to use vinegar and water, but I have to get over the mental block that it’s not clean unless you use chemicals capable of taking the skin off your hands or killing you if you accidentally mix them and inhale. Scrub the walls with the scrubby side of a wet sponge. Rinse the sponge as it gets dirty. I scrub the walls in with a circular motion, because even though the spray bottle may tell you no scrubbing necessary, soap scum and hard water build up always need a little help. You can tell that by the way it’s a little harder to scrub the parts of the walls the shower water hits. If your perfectionism is flaring, use the edge of the sponge to scrub the grout between the tiles. Rinse the walls. If you don’t have a handheld shower head that allows you to easily hose the walls down, get one. Those things are invaluable for washing dogs and kids, too!
  5. When you rinsed the shower walls, you should have gotten most of the tub or shower floor wet. If not, wet the tub/shower floor. Sprinkle with a powdered cleanser like Ajax or Comet, and scrub the entire inside of the tub, soap dish, and faucets with the scrubby side of a really wet sponge. Rinse the tub well. Dry the chrome surfaces with a clean towel so they shine. I actually spray the tub with bathroom cleaner, then sprinkle it with cleanser. I find the two work better together than separately. You could use Soft Scrub, but it doesn’t work as well for me, and it’s more expensive (Comet & Ajax are less than $1 in my area for a nice sized can). Of course, if you have delicate surfaces like natural marble, please use whatever works best for that. Always read the warning labels of any cleaner before you use it. If your tub is extra dirty and weekly methods just aren’t doing the trick, do what I did here.
  6. Dust the shelves, picture frames, top of the shower curtain rod or shower doors, top of the medicine cabinet, and the top of the tile where it meets the wall. A damp towel or sponge is good for this. Damp, because in the bathroom dust doesn’t just lay there, it’s stuck there by hairspray and humidity, so it needs a little water on the sponge to get it moving. It’s best to take everything off the shelf, wipe off the shelf, and then dust/polish the things as you put them back on the shelf. This is more thorough and really easier than trying to dust around your perfume bottles and whatnot.
  7. Scrub the sink, faucet, and area around the sink with cleanser. Dry the faucet and area around the sink with a towel and make ‘em shine! I always save this for almost last, because I need the sink to rinse out my sponge when I’m doing the other things, and to wash my hands after I clean the toilet. Oh, didn’t I mention that part? Please wash your hands, or your rubber gloves, after you clean the toilet!
  8. Wipe down and polish the knick-knacks around the sink. I have a cup for holding toothbrushes, a decorative liquid soap dispenser, and a three ounce Dixie Cup dispenser around my sinks. I use very hot water and some of the liquid soap to wash the toothbrush cup, then I dry it and fold a paper towel to put into the bottom to catch water that drips off the toothbrushes, so the bottom of the cup doesn’t get slimy and mildewy. I change the paper towel when I clean the bathroom. Then I refill the Dixie Cups and soap, as needed. Put out a fresh hand towel.
  9. Polish the mirror. I use Windex and a paper towel to clean the mirror, but this is another area where I want to learn to use white vinegar and water. Someday. Cleaning a mirror is hard, because it tends to get streaky. Here’s how I do it. Fold a paper towel in half, then in half again. This gives you several sides to work with and gets the most use out of that towel. Spray the mirror (or half the mirror, if it’s a big one) with a quality window cleaner like Windex that contains ammonia. Clean the mirror with the paper towel with big, sweeping motions. Wipe with one side of the paper towel to clean it, and then turn to a dry side to polish it. It may take two spray/wipe sessions if the mirror has toothpaste splatters on it, or turns out streaky. So one turn to clean it, and one turn to make it shiny and streak-free. The key to no streaks is to leave the mirror a little wet. So if you have streaks, spray lightly with the window cleaner and then wipe it lightly. Another thing to try is to polish it with no window cleaner but lots of elbow grease and a microfiber cloth or dry towel (not a fluffy one. A worn out towel works better.)
  10. Mop the floor. Be sure to rinse the mop really well after you mop around the toilet, otherwise you just push that stuff around the floor. Ideally, we would mop the area around the toilet last, because it’s more sanitary to clean from cleanest area to dirtiest, but the toilet is seldom by the bathroom door, so you’d have to walk over your wet floor to do that. It’s not like you’re going to leave dirty footprints, so you could do that. Just be careful and don’t slip on the wet floor. When the floor dries, put the rugs back.
  11. Stand back and admire your work! After you put hard work into any job, you should always take a minute or two to pat yourself on the back. You’ve earned it!

Once in a while, you should also wash your decorative towels, rugs, and shower curtain. You can also make your shower curtain liner last longer by putting it in the washing machine with some towels to clean it.

So how do you know it’s time to clean your bathroom? Ideally, you should clean it once a week. At least, those are the parameters my mom set up when I was cleaning our 1.5 baths at home as a teenager. So I strive for that, but there’s not always time to do a thorough job. When that happens, just clean the toilet bowl and shine everything else up real quick with a paper towel and window cleaner or a towel. The goal is to keep nature from letting you know you haven’t cleaned it in a while with mold and mildew growing in the toilet and shower. Don’t ask how I know this happens.

And when that does happen, tell your family it was a test to see how long it would take them to pick up a toilet brush and clean it themselves. Then go into a rant that if skillfully done, will end with them sending you to a spa for a much needed day off while they clean the whole house for you. Yeah. That never happens, but a girl can dream!