How to Keep a Clean House by: My Mom

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My Mom’s kitchen, this morning–before 10:00 am!

My Mom, Cathy Forsythe, is a Clean Person. Caps for emphasis. Actually, to truly communicate her organizational and cleaning skills, perhaps I should type CLEAN PERSON. Or even:

CLEAN PERSON

What I mean to say is, my parents’ house is always lovely–and clean. Clutter-free, no-dirty-dishes-in-the-sink, no-hair-in-the-bathroom clean. The dining room table? When they’re not eating, it has placemats and salt and pepper on it. That’s it. When my Mom complains that her house is dirty? It’s actually cleaner than my house when it’s clean for company.

It was this way when I was growing up, too–except, of course, for my room. Because whether it’s my nature or it was some weird reaction to having a Clean Mom, I grew up an irredeemable slob. I actually unearthed a checklist my Mom made for me when I was about 14. Not only does this show how nice my Mom’s handwriting is, but it alludes to how horrifically messy I was. I remember wading through knee-high piles of clothes, books, and plates:

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It’s even in a plastic sheet protector! I’d like to say I took this to heart and mended my ways, but I really didn’t. And while I’ve gotten a lot better since marrying my husband and getting a house, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately with two kids and the unending piles of books and things taking over my dining room table. So I went to the source and asked my Mom for her advice! She wrote me an email later that day:

I was thinking about your question yesterday about how I keep the house so neat/clean. Thought I’d share some things that worked for me (not quite so regimented now).

1. Weed out the Clutter

First off, clutter makes me nervous so I don’t have a lot of things I don’t use or love.

Guys, my Mom is totally right. There are days when I feel like I am living her origin story, as I hold up my children’s toys and ask, “But really, when did you actually play with this last?” This is also why I’ve switched to a 10-item wardrobe and cleared the heck out of my closet.

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This Great Room is a great room, am I right?

2. A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place

Second, I try to have everything in an assigned spot so it’s easy to find, with things I use often handy.

Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up said the same thing, but I trust–and listen to–my Mom more. Hopefully I can follow this.

3. Timing Is Everything

Third, I try to stay ahead of things to make things easy to tackle. Dishwasher run at night and emptied so it was ready the next morning. Not as critical now of course! I still neaten up the house before bed. We make the bed first thing in the morning (I think you do too?).

I am going to incorporate the dishwasher tip tonight–my day generally starts with me delaying doing the breakfast dishes until I empty the dishwasher. If something comes up (it always does), this means I’m struggling to clean the whole kitchen right before I make dinner. No more!

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Living room!

4. Make a Weekly Schedule

I did find the thing that really worked for me was a regular schedule. I cleaned house, washed sheets and towels on Monday, clothes laundry on Tuesday and grocery shopping on Fridays. Wednesday and Thursday were used for projects, volunteering, and fun. Saturday morning I gardened while Dad golfed!

This makes so much sense to me! I need to figure out what is going to work for our schedule. Also, this reminds me of Ma Ingalls’ schedule: “Wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, churn on Thursday, clean on Friday, bake on Saturday, rest on Sunday.” Um, I’m glad I don’t have to churn every week.

5. Create Systems–and Assign Them Accordingly

I guess I really like systems, I was always missing stains on your Dad’s clothes so I finally put a bottle of stain remover under his bathroom sink and told him to pretreat his own stains before putting in the laundry!

I wish I could have Sarah do the same–but two is probably a little early for that. I have started having Scott and Sid do the dinner dishes while I’m putting Sarah to bed, which helps a lot.

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Look at those shelves. This pic is from when my parents first moved into this house, but it still looks nice. How?!?

6. Let Something Go

We also had that great play space downstairs that I could ignore if needed!

Phew! In our house, I also can shut the door to our basement and let the kids run wild while I entertain upstairs.

7. Limit the Interruptions

Another thing occurred to me is the difference with social media and internet. We didn’t have to react and reply to texts, twitter, Facebook, and emails. Lots of interruptions now that we didn’t have!

This is probably the hardest guideline to follow–not just because I do a lot of side projects where I need to answer email or post things on social media in a timely manner, but because the advent of this technology makes me feel obligated to respond in real time. I’ve been toying with the idea of just putting my phone away for an hour or two at a time every day–stay tuned!

Thank you to my wonderful Mom for passing on her wisdom to me (again), hopefully I can follow it this time. Hope you all find this helpful!

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Twin Peaks: Life Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, But a Mystery to Be Lived

SPOILER-FREE!

[Editor’s note: I have a guest blogger today, and it’s my husband, Scott Allie, editor of such comics as Hellboy, Fight Club 2, and Umbrella Academy. He loves Twin Peaks and David Lynch with a mad, passionate fervor, and Episode 8 of the revival spurred him to write about art, storytelling, and his old friend the One Armed Man. Enjoy!]

Last night I went to bed with a feeling (and today woke up with that feeling) I’ve had just a handful of times in my life, where I lost track of the line between myself and an experience of art. The first time was when I saw Eraserhead, an experience Mike Mignola has likened to having the flu. I felt it more strongly after I watched the pilot for Twin Peaks in 1990, staring for hours at a bright patch on my dorm room ceiling from a streetlight below. I haven’t only felt this with Lynch’s work. Eyes Wide Shut did it to me. Books by Chuck Palahniuk and Patrick McGrath have done it. I hate to admit that no comic has done it, but it’s the truth, as much as some of them have gotten under my skin. If anything could, it would be Hellboy, if I could experience it more from the outside.

But nothing has affected me as deeply as the first time I saw Lost Highway. The night turned into one of the weirdest in my life, and there are no shortage of weird nights . . . I was disoriented, couldn’t communicate well. The NIN song from the film, “You Are the Perfect Drug,” could’ve referred to the film itself. After freaking out my sister, who I was living with at the time, I went to my neighborhood bar, former Mayor Bud Clark’s Goose Hollow Inn, to find my friends—who immediately shut down any conversation about the movie, which they were going to see in the morning. (I ended up joining them, then seeing it a third time before the next weekend.)

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Me and Al Strobel, Twin Peaks‘s One Armed Man. The moment this picture was taken, I was telling him my grandfather died.

I went to the bar for a pitcher. We all knew everyone in the place in those days, so while I waited for the server, the old guy drinking alone at the bar greeted me. I told him I’d seen Lost Highway and felt unhinged. He said, “Well, David likes to fuck with you,” at which point I remembered this particular barfly was Al Strobel, the One Armed Man from Twin Peaks. Al was there at the Goose most nights in the mid nineties. I’d fanned out about the show a couple years earlier, and had frankly sort of forgotten.

That night Al told me, “David’s a painter.” At the time I didn’t realize that it was more than a metaphor. He said Lynch isn’t necessarily telling a story, but putting something in front of you so you can look at it and experience it, and accept whatever it makes you feel.

A motto I’ve heard lately that I try to live by is that “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” Art definitely isn’t a problem to be solved. In college, my best friend told me “Perfect art should kill the spectator,” and I’ve always thought he was on to something. When last night’s episode of Twin Peaks, Episode 8, was over, I told my 12-year-old son, Sid (that’s right), “You just saw the strangest hour of television there’s ever been.” A dozen smarter critics than me have said that this morning, and I don’t think of it as a debatable point. I would argue that it was also the greatest hour of TV.

In the early 1990s, Twin Peaks inspired some imitation, but the more lasting impact was the permission it gave talented storytellers to open up the television medium. I like to think cable television will go through another bizarre evolution in the next couple years, taking big chances. I hope the auteurs of this so-called Golden Age of Television get the message: “Trust the audience. Go even farther.” Maybe comics, and even the movies, can do it too.

J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress

10-Item Wardrobe Prep: Summer 2017

Hey everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I was busy podcasting and doing load upon load upon load of laundry, while enduring 100-degree weather. Oh Portland, why do you go from rain to trying to kill me in June?

But! I’ve also been putting the finishing touches on this year’s Summer 10-Item Wardrobe, which means I had to go through last year’s to evaluate the condition and usefulness of each piece. Join me and see who lives . . . and who goes to Goodwill.

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Fisherman’s wool sweater, vintage.

Oh, this sweater. I really loved it. I’m also glad I got it for about $40 on Etsy, because this sweater is full of holes. I noticed a couple right after I received it and tied them off, but I keep finding them, and it really is super bulky and heavy and warm, and I just can’t make it work. Boo.

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J Crew Factory jeans.

These jeans are pretty great, but have I mentioned it is super hot this summer? These jeans will go bye-bye until next spring.

10-Item Wardrobe

Gap cropped white jeans.

Same for these babies.

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory striped dress. I love this dress. I wore it until I was eight months pregnant last year and it still looks great.

I loved this dress so hard. I bought it in 2012 and wore it before, during, and after my pregnancy, but the neckline started to unravel, and it is gone.

10-Item Wardrobe

Floral dress, made by me maybe five or six years ago? Pattern by Amy Butler.

This dress will liiiiiiiive foreverrrr (™ Queen) and I am keeping it.

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory chambray shirt.

This shirt! I also bought this five years ago and wore it over and over again, but the underarms finally got discolored and I had to donate it. Geez, will I have any clothes left?

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J. Crew Factory striped short-sleeve shirt.

A keeper! Whew. I just got this last year, and so far it’s just as durable as its long-sleeved counterpart. I am pleased.

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J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts.

So this kind of sucks, but I’m sharing. I was one size in J. Crew Factory before my pregnancy, and I was one size smaller after my pregnancy. I knew it wouldn’t last. I resisted buying new clothes! But I did. And now–I’m back to my original size, and these give me camel toe, and I may keep them in reserve in case I get food poisoning or something but . . . gone.

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J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts.

Ditto! Buh-bye.

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J. Crew Factory striped dress.

I still love this dress, but I do not wear it often enough for it to be part of my 10-Item Wardrobe. It’s been kicked up to special occasion wear, because Portland is hella casual.

Uhhhh . . . so I’m only keeping two out of my 10 items! Fortunately, I did save some older shorts, and I do rotate things in and out of my wardrobes, so I didn’t have to buy all new things. You’ll have to wait until my next fashion post to see this season’s wardrobe (the suspense!), but I can show you the one piece that’s pulling it all together!

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Merona pink cotton cardigan.

It’s wrinkly in the picture (I’ll take a better one later) and I got it for free at my friend Melissa’s Naked Lady Party (a clothes swap, don’t be scandalized), but I really love this sweater! I originally picked it to wear (as Audrey) at our Twin Peaks brunch, but it’s perfect for summer: lightweight, a great color, and a flattering fit.

Stay tuned, true believers! I should post my full Summer 2017 10-Item Wardrobe Wednesday . . . if I can get all this laundry done!

GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017

Happy Monday! Thor Stuff, Twin Peaks & 10-Item Wardrobe

GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017Happy Monday, folks! Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the summer. I’m using this little lull to catch up on my blogging, woo!

Local Happenings

GeekCraft Expo PDX concluded June 11 and–whew–I was tired afterward. It was a great show. Our exhibitors are so great. Not only are they insanely talented and obsessed with all things geek, but they’re genuinely nice people! You can find all of our Portland exhibitors here. Up next: the GeekCraft Expo Seattle Holiday Market November 25-26!

It seems like as soon as I slow down a little, something else pops up that I cannot resist! I’ve just started working with Pairings, which bills itself as “Portland’s Weirdest Wine Shop and Bar,” and they are amazing. I went to their “Salmon 5 Ways with Rosé All Day” event right before Mother’s Day with my co-parent, Myndi (she discovered the place), and I had such a great time! Pairings focuses on making wine fun and accessible, so they pair wines to adjectives and personality traits–which means they have wines paired to Harry Potter characters, female superheroes, astrological signs, and more! Next they’re pairing eight wines to eight characters from Animal House. June 22-25, $25!

Geekery

Did you know that I am now nerd famous? It is TRUE. Well. Kinda. Anyway, the latest episode of my podcast with Miles Stokes, Thor: The Lightning and the Storm, is up! We’re going through Walter Simonson’s epic 1980s run on The Mighty Thor, and we’ve finally reached one of the most hard-hitting, metal moments in all of comics: the Executioner’s Last Stand!

I’m also recording a guest spot on Titan up the Defense, another local podcast I enjoy immensely. Brothers Hub and Cory alternate reading (and discussing) New Teen Titans and Defenders. I have a ginormous soft spot for New Teen Titans (thanks to my cousin Bryan’s collection), so I’m psyched to join in. Plus! They allow drinking during podcasting! Miles would never. Ha!

Finally, I’ve been invited to guest on Comic Book Cover Story, a podcast that features my good friend (and former TFAW co-worker) Sean Wynn and Kurt Loyd!

Fashion

With summer right around the corner, I need to spruce up my Spring/Summer 10-Item Wardrobe, so I’m going through my current clothes and shopping with my mom later this week. Get ready for a post next week, and maybe a prep post this week!

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is in a category by itself, because really . . . where would you put it? I just have to say episode 7 was intense. I admit I was kind of wavering about where it was going. I actually love “Dougie Jones,” but it’s super frustrating how no one will take him to a doctor! I mean, a man supposedly shows up one day with new hair and wardrobe, 20 pounds lighter, and can barely string one word together? Come on. But I love it. I love every moment (almost). I sit with my eyes as wide as possible, in silence, absorbing every second.

Confused? You really should have been prepared for that. But Laura Hudson’s wonderfully written Twin Peaks recaps may help.

That’s it for now! Man, I’m just glad I got to blog today. Do you have any Twin Peaks theories? Wardrobe hints? Other podcasts to check out? Put them in the comments!

Felicity American Girl Doll Restored

An American Girl Restores a Felicity Doll (and Loses Her Mind) Part I

Felicity American Girl

The original catalog: Felicity Merriman!

This past weekend seemed like it was going to be ordinary, perhaps even a little boring. I didn’t need to record an episode of THOR: The Lightning and the Storm, we didn’t have major plans–we could just laze around the house and take Sarah to the park at Buckman. As we left, we noticed a garage sale across the street and strolled by. As I walked past random books and toys, kitchenware, and clothing, I spotted her lying on a blanket. Felicity.

Ragged and frizzy, her signature side tendrils nowhere to be seen, wearing purple glitter shoes with a crumpled “Rose Garden” gown, Felicity was instantly recognizable to me as the redheaded Colonial American Girl doll I used to quietly squee over as a teenage babysitter going through the children’s Pleasant Company catalogs. And now, for $30, she could be mine my daughter Sarah’s! The lady even threw in a stand.

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Garage sale Felicity: needs a little cleaning up.

A quick history: Pleasant Company introduced their line of American Girl historical dolls in 1986. The original three included Kirsten, the Swedish pioneer, Samantha, the ladylike Victorian, and Molly, the spirited WWII-era girl. Felicity, the spunky Colonial lass, was introduced in 1991–about the time the catalogs started flooding my neighborhood. They were (and are) of very high quality, with period-accurate clothing, accessories, and furniture, and each came with a line of books that dealt with such topics as war, child abuse, slavery, and other weighty issues.

They also were (and are) very expensive. In 1991, a Felicity doll and paperback book was $82. Add her entry-level accessories, and the total came to $108. A full Felicity set in the early ’90s, including the hardback books, clothes, tea set, school set, party set, winter set, toys, clothing, furniture, horse, and dozens of other items came to $1,332. I am not kidding. I did the math.

So owning a Felicity doll was out of reach, not only because I was 16 years old (the horror), but also because there was no way in heck I could have afforded it. But when I was younger, I had a very deep appreciation for dolls (I had two Kimberly dolls I was slavishly devoted to), and I was very impressed by the level of detail that went into the clothes and accessories when I pored through the catalogs. She had a Shrewsbury cake set with tiny cookie cutters! A silver chocolate set! I rued that I was not a younger–and richer–woman.

With all this swimming through my head, I handed over the cash and took my Sarah’s Felicity doll home, where I took to the internet to do some research. It appears that this Felicity doll is an early, pre-Mattel one: she has the softer red eyelashes, and there is ribbon edging at the base of the wig. The body is in great shape structurally, as are the eyes. The main issues were dirt, ink, and glitter on the limbs and face, frizzy hair that needed a good brushing, and someone pierced her ears. Also, while she still had her original “meet” dress, it was stained and crumpled, and she was missing the original shoes, stockings, and undergarments.

Fortunately for me, there are hundreds and hundreds of American Girl videos on YouTube, most shot by actual pre-teens. Did you know you can straighten an American Girl doll’s hair?!? Or curl it? While I won’t be trying that any time soon, I did learn that the best way to clean the doll is to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which I quickly did, removing the ink from her feet and glitter from her face. I brushed her hair (I even found a few tendrils) and tied it back, then hand washed the dress and hung it to dry.

The next day I touched up the dress with the iron and redressed Felicity–much better! She has “official” undergarments coming her way thanks to my Dad, who wants my Sarah’s doll to be properly dressed, and I may have found replacement stockings and shoes for cheap on Amazon, and I may have ordered them.

But my biggest find? The Pleasant Company actually released doll dress sewing patterns, for those girls who had crafty moms, grandmas, or aunts. While I found some physical patterns for a pretty penny on Etsy, I found free pdfs online at AG Playthings. So, if I want to go totally crazy and make her a mob cap or a Christmas dress (who am I kidding I am totally crazy), I have the option.

Felicity American Girl Doll Restored

Ready for some new shoes and stockings!

I mean, I have time, right? Sarah is only two, and the dolls are meant for kids eight and older, right? I’ll totally be done playing with my her Felicity in six years.