Hiring is the hardest part about owning a business! But here we go!
Is it possible to co-exist with a pet and all the trimmings? Peacefully? Can you really have a clean house and a furry pet? Yes. It's possible. Not perfect but certainly possible! Next to dirty bathrooms (see previous blog), pet hair is a major concern for people who long for a clean home.
Hair can be as fascinating as it is frustrating. You love hair on your head but not in your sink. You want it to stand up, or lay flat but stay out of your mouth! If you have fine hair you may long for thick, wavy hair. If you are blonde you may wish to be a brunette. Your pets fur is what makes it so cuddly but also makes the house a mess. Next to bone marrow, hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body. On a human it grows about 1 cm per month. That's a lot of hair.
What's the fuss about hair right now? It's spring and pets are starting to shed!
A full ninety eight percent of our cleaning clients have pets in the home. We love our endearing pets to no end. They help reduce our blood pressure and give us a more positive outlook on life. They keep us laughing and active and healthy but geez...all that hair!
There are some easy ways to minimize the challenge of all the hair. Washable slipcovers are great. Cat towers that act as fur traps. Putting hair laden blankets in the dryer for 10 minutes with a fabric softener sheet will help loosen hair for the washing machine. Also, add liquid softener to the wash cycle to release more stubborn hairs.
Some furnishings are naturally hair resistant. Hardwood, tile and vinyl floors are better than carpet. Leather and canvas are good for sofas. Ultrasuede is good although I find it harder to maintain than leather or canvas.
My favorite way to remove hair is to vacuum it up. Preferably with a Miele (pronounced Mee Lah). Suction is important but so is ease of use. If you have a great vacuum but it weights 150 pounds are you really going to use it frequently? The Miele canister vacuum is small and lightweight. It fits in tight places and the floor brush has a very slim profile so it will go under many sofas and cabinets, helping suck the pesky hair right out of your life. By vacuuming up the hair, you remove it completely. If you sweep first and then try to collect it in a dust pan, you sometimes stir up a lot more hair and dander. And by the time you get out the broom and dust pan, you could almost as easily get out the vacuum and get a much better clean. After vacuuming, a quick mop with a microfiber mop head will get up any loose hairs the vacuum missed. Swiffers are great, too, but I prefer to use products I can wash and re-use many times. A high quality microfiber mop head will pick up a lot more sand, dander and small particles than the Swiffer, but there is something to be said for the convenience of a Swiffer.
In the end, I think it also helps to lower your standards! If pet hair is constantly aggravating you, then I would say try to re-frame it.....get used to pet hair as a reminder of why and how you love your pet. Think of all the ways your pet loves you unconditionally and looks out for you and your safety. It's a small price to pay for all that good stuff! And if it's too much to bear, feel free to call us for some hair peace.....904-704-0936.
Top Secret Info on How to Clean the Terlet :-)
As household inventions go, I am very grateful for the flushing toilet. Everybody wants a clean bathroom but it ranks lowest as the space a homeowner wants to clean. We love our toilets though. It's a technological marvel! We have given them pet names like "The Can." "The Loo." "The WC." "The Throne." "The Crapper." "The Porcelain Throne." "The Facilities." "The John." "The Pot." Toilets are phenomenal. Think of the alternatives--outhouses, trenches, chamber pots. Noooo thanks. I love my toilet and I want to take care of it. I can live with windows that don't shut properly and faucets that leak but if the toilet isn't flushing properly, or worse, plugged up, it's a crisis. So, I am going to tell you about how I take care of my terlet, as Archie Bunker famously called it.
Archie was one of my favorite characters because he was so, well, Archie. Honest. Outspoken. Cringe worthy. Emily Nussbaum said it best in her New Yorker article titled The Great Divide. She said "Archie was the first masculine powerhouse to simultaneously charm and alienate viewers." Here is a link to her very well written article: The Great Divide April 7, 2014. I find some irony in being a house cleaner. We are loved on cleaning day but we are often the first suspect if something is broken or some item can't be found. Shoes, DS game cartridges, jump drives. It is a love/hate relationship at times. I can't help but think about Archie when I clean a terlet.
As house cleaners, we generally clean the rim, the bowl, the siphon and the exterior of the tank and bowl. Because Florida has such hard water, many toilets get a ring of hard water stain around the bowl. Pay attention as I am about to give you my most coveted trade secret!
Fine dry wall screen. That's it. Cut a screen like this into 2 inch squares. Rub the screen over the interior of the toilet bowl. You may have to scrub a little for normal toilets or a lot for neglected ones. We don't use any chemicals--just the screen and water. It is truly the most efficient and most environmentally conscious way to clean your toilet. Note the screen will not remove rust stains. It will, however, remove the mineral build up, scale, moldy gunk and other just nasty stuff in your toilet! We avoid using acidic products on porcelain. These are vinegar, CLR, Lime Away, Clorox Blue Toilet Cleaner and others. Letting the acids dwell on the porcelain can damage or pit the finish and make the surface harder to clean. Most household bleaches are a base but they can also cause pitting and we don't recommend it. Bleach is extremely corrosive to metals like the drains, the faucets, chrome and brass fixtures. We don't use ammonia for some of the same reasons. It's very corrosive and like all the other products mentioned above, it's a health and environmental hazard. If you clean for 40 hours a week, you certainly don't want to be inhaling ammonia and bleach fumes! So yes, while we are looking out for the best interests of your terlet, we are also looking out for ourselves and our environment. Flushing unnecessary chemicals down the drain is not good for our earth.
When we are cleaning, it helps to understand the anatomy of the object so we will know where build up is most likely to occur. With a toilet, beside the obvious places that are visible, there is the nearly invisible siphon jet hole. It's the little hole in the siphon of the toilet. During my latest plumbing crisis when I had sluggish flushing, a plumber from American Plumbing showed me that a slow or lazy flush is often due to mineral build up in the siphon jet. He used a piece of bent metal like a hex wrench to scrape away the massive build up in my toilet siphon jets. Wow, there was a lot of junk in there and the toilets are only five years old! Since then, I have been maintaining the siphon jets myself. I did not feel the hex wrench got deep enough into the siphon jet hole so I experimented with other things. I found wire strands are good for the rim jets if they have a lot of build up. More more often than not, I find the siphon jets are the biggest problem. A bent coat hangar felt too flimsy for me. If you bend a coat hanger be sure to make some kind of part to hang on to and be prepared for some bruised hands if the build up is great! What I think would work best is a handle hex wrench.
If you can bend this tool enough to be able to slip into the siphon jet I think it works best. Otherwise, a coat hanger will help and the wire rope will work, too. Wire rope is flexible enough to make the bend but sometimes a sharper edge will crack the scale and build up better.
A parting thought about toilets. Many people wrongly attribute the invention of the toilet to Thomas Crapper in the 1800s, but the first, flushing toilet can be traced back to 1596 when British Nobleman, Sir John Harrington, engineered one for Queen Elizabeth I. Thomas Crapper did earn nine patents for plumbing products between 1861 and 1904 and he improved upon the original design so we credit him with bringing the toilet from royalty to the masses. And we have the Chinese to thank for bringing us toilet paper in about 50 B.C.
Mary had a little lamb, it's fleece was white as snow.....does that sound familiar?
What does that have to do with Thanksgiving? The author of that the famous nursery rhyme is Sara Josepha Hale and she is the person who spearheaded the movement to make Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. Her advocacy for the national holiday began in 1827 when she read a diary of a Pilgrim. She began to campaign for Thanksgiving to be an annual, national holiday, writing letters to five different presidents! It was in 1863, over 30 years later, that President Abe Lincoln finally announced our nation would celebrate the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. Thank you Sara Josepha Hale for your tenacity! We also have Sara to thank for our traditional Thanksgiving menu. The Pilgrim's Thanksgiving meal would have been more about venison, barley and Indian Corn. Potatoes had not yet been introduced and certainly there was no stuffing! Sara published recipes for turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie that later became part of our Thanksgiving tradition.
I labored over a company name when I was starting this business and I am happy to announce that I received notice our Federal Trademark has been approved! Yay! It will be published in The Official Gazette on September 30, 2014!
Here is a link: Trademark for A Well Kept Home, Inc.
I have posted on my Facebook page about reading about an Iowan woman who turned 34 and to celebrate the event she chose to do 34 Random Acts of Kindness. I am not so inventive myself so I decided to copycat her. But geez, I'm 52. I have way more acts to commit than she does! When I posted to Facebook others asked me to share the link and when I was searching for the link to my Iowan woman, I found plenty of links where others have celebrated their birthdays in a similar way. And I actually started to read some because so far, I am the oldest person I've seen and I need more inspiration for my 52 acts of kindness. I couldn't help but chortle about some "random acts of kindness" posted on blogs though.....a thank you note to your sister? A phone call to your nephew? Not a random act of kindness in my book. On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend I spent the whole day mowing lawns of homes on my street. Three are foreclosed homes that my home faces, one is an elderly, disabled lady and one is the yard of a Bosnian man who I think is in jail as I last saw him with the police a few days ago. I was asking, could I count the lawns all as separate acts of kindness or was it one big act? Anyway, this big birthday idea is turning into a monumental task! First of all I feel guilty when I'm doing a random act because I feel so fortunate by comparison.
But here I go...I am going to document my 52 Random Acts of Kindness here just so they will all be in one place and truthfully, I don't think many people really read this blog so I feel a little more privacy here!
1. Mowed the lawn of neighbor Shirley, the American Indian from upstate NY.
2. Mowed the front lawn of a foreclosed house across from me.
3. Mowed the front lawn of foreclosed house and neighbor Eddie Murphy (I kid you not), an FBI Personal Defense Instructor in Washington.
4. Mowed the front and side lawn of a foreclosed house across from me.
5. Mowed the front lawn of my Bosnian neighbor Josip Varga who is absent at this time.
6. Gave five dollars and food to a homeless on Beaver Street by the Farmers Market. And had a short conversation about his brother who died the day after Memorial Day and his daughter who was born near Memorial Day. And who was NOT a veteran, as I suspected because he is patently opposed to killing and violence.
7. Donated one day of service to an elderly man whose family is out of town. He is from Dayton, OH and has worked at Wright Patt as an aircraft mechanic. Attended University of Dayton to get his engineering degree.
8. Tossed out random coins at North Shore Park and Playground. Tossed out 10.00 in quarters around for kids to find.
9. Tossed out 10.00 in quarters at Tallulah Park for kids to find.
10. Picked up trash at Tallulah Park while I was there tossing out coins. Hoping that counts as 2 separate acts of kindness!
11. Taped coins to the vending machine at a laundromat in my neighborhood....at Pearl and Tallulah.
12. Placed Yellow Sticky Note Pads in random teachers boxes at Dinsmore Elementary. Total of 10.
13. Visited a local cemetery where I used to run back in the days when I had more dogs and less children. And when I was more fit and energetic! Took photos of the lawn service crew and printed them out and returned to give them the photos.
14. Fed the parking meter for cars parked at the library and near Hemming Plaza last week. Walked around the Hemming Plaza and the library block twice feeding all the expired meters....and boy were there a lot! And I got blisters on my feet because I was trying to dress up more than my usual overalls. Note to self...no one cares what you wear while you randomly feed meters....dress accordingly.
15. I made up 10 supply bags for homeless people. I included 5.00 cash, Q-tips, Band Aids, soap, shampoo, a pair of socks, a wash cloth, a sandwich and some packaged crackers or cookies. Gave them out in the evening around downtown. I have talked to some homeless people who told me that the shelters make you participate in prayers and religion and if they don't want to, then they are not always welcome. So I offered up the bags to people I suspect might have refused to participate in the religious ceremony. Or maybe they just missed the deadline to get their feet in the door? I don't know. Either way....good deed accomplished. I want to count this at 10 separate good deeds but for now I will count it as one and keep on keeping on.
16. Gave out cold Gatorade to three young men at the Farmer's Market who run the fork lifts and take the spoiled or unwanted produce to the dumpster. They are the fellows I see when I rummage for produce to feed my chickens. They are incredibly polite and helpful, as is the Manager I see on duty. I gave out the Gatorade on three separate occasions trying to make sure all the regulars I see got one. OMG I have so many more yet to go!
17. Gave eggs to several elderly neighbors on my street.
18. Gave an employee an extra 100.00 on payday as I suspected finances were tight and she had made herself available for work even though I did not have work for her every day.
19. A deaf woman approached me at Publix on Dunn Ave. I had no cash but I gave her six Clementine Oranges I had just purchased.
20. A homeless lady approached me at Standard Feed asking for money. I am opposed to just handing out money at times and honestly, there are days I need the money to pay my employees or my house payment or JEA. But I did give her a cold bottle of Gatorade I had on hand (I had just left the Farmer's Market and saw none of the young men by the dumpster). I gave her the bottle of Gatorade I had intended to give one of them. Only 32 more Acts of Kindness to accomplish.
21. I bagged up all my empty metal cans that can be taken to the recycling center on Main St. This center is owned by Mr. Koss at 30 W. 52nd St., Jacksonville, FL 32208. On recycling day, I see some regulars who come and raid the recycle bins. They can take the cans to E-Koss and get cash for the metal. One large bag of cans that have not been smashed down gets you about $3.00. Last week I bagged up my cans for more easy picking as it was rainy out that day. I want to add that I know Mr. Koss is a kind-hearted soul. I met him when I worked for Department of Children and Families. He had taken in a young man who was mentally retarded and whose parents had both died within months of each other. The young man's neighbors eventually noticed he was missing and filed a police report and then DCF got involved. But it turns out Mr. Koss had opened his home in Bryceville to the young man. Eventually the state helped the young man get his own apartment but it was awfully kind of Mr. Koss to step in without being asked or without being paid for his efforts. I'm impressed. I like to support his business and of course I am a recycling freak anyway. I think everyone--kids and grown ups--should visit the local dump, the recycling centers and the hazardous waste disposal sites. It's educational and it's science and it's enlightening. Check this out....actually I just learned I am calling it a dump but it could be a landfill or better yet, a municipal solid waste landfill. Here is a link that is very informative but still....a personal visit to your landfill or dump far better: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/landfill3.htm.
22. I donated 10.00 to a young family in Jacksonville, FL who adopted an Indian child who needed surgery. Then I posted on Facebook to try to drum up more support. Then I posted it here to try to drum up even more support. Here is how you can donate: http://medicalfoundationofnc.org/GiveBabyAdam. I hope that link works. I am still new to managing a blog. Which reminds me.....what will future historians think when they start unearthing all this digital drivel we post about funny cats and recipes!?!?
23. Took some unwanted mirrors away for a special person (you know who you are!) who in turn donated the mirrors to someone who really needed them!
24 - 34. On a recent trip to North Georgia and Hayesville, NC, my kids Wyatt and Virgil and I hiked around. On every trail we left Random Acts of Kindness wrapped up in tiny brown envelopes. We left change for vending machines that dispensed water. We left chewing gum, old fashioned candy bought at local stores, book of matches, nail clippers (okay, I was running out of creative things to leave and it had to be small and weatherproof!). Mostly we left money because, who doesn't like finding an errant bit of change or dollar in an old coat pocket? This was interesting though as we left the little envelopes in fairly conspicuous places because we wanted people to find them. Sometimes coming back down the trail we would see a person standing and reading the note but putting it back and not taking it! We had the most fun finding those conspicuous places. We placed them on the long distance viewing machines where you have to pay a quarter to get it to work on top of Brasstown Bald. We placed them on the historic trail markers like at the Byron Herbert Reece trail on Blood Mountain. Then we got more creative and started pinning them to small tree branches more at eye level and adding notes on the outside that read: Pick Me! Or "Sweet!" And we placed some in the small, hollows of trees right on the trail. And if you like poetry then check out the poetry of Byron Herbert Reece. He is one of my favorites but that would be a whole other blog post! I plan to post some photos here soon as soon as I figure out how!
35. Donated a whole bunch of microfiber cloths and dog food to the Northeast Florida No More Homeless Pets.
36. Donated bags of Food to Second Harvest this past week.
37. Donated blood! In case anyone reads this, when you donate blood you get a very accurate cholesterol test for free :-).
38. Donated school supplies to Northshore Elementary--notebooks, paper, pencils, erasers and copy paper.
39. Gave a ride to a person in my neighborhood who has to walk about 3 miles to the nearest grocery store---and it was raining. They were heading home laden with bags that get heavy after the first mile!
40-41. Donated stacks of magazines to the VA Center on 8th Street! I counted this twice because I've done it on two separate occasions and forgot to count the first time.
42. Donated cleaning supplies and some pots and pans to the Springfield Drop In Center at 157 E. 8th Street. It's a day center where chronically mentally ill can go to just hang out and there they do receive training on life skills and have access to a therapist and other professional services.
43. Helped a man stranded at a gas station jump his car as the battery was dead. On Cassatt Ave. I only knew I had jumper cables because I had cleaned out my car!
44. Took some homemade food to a elderly man I clean for. The cleaning I get paid for but the food was optional. He has no family around here and I know from cleaning he could use a home cooked meal!
45-48. I abhor shopping at Walmart but once in a while I just have to go there for something. On my last trip I went in three of the bathroom stalls and I unrolled the toilet tissue about 8 feet and then I put a very new and flat two dollar bill on the roll and re-rolled the toilet paper back up. I'm counting that as three deeds as I am feeling pressured to finish! Oh my gosh!! To be only 35 again!
49. I stopped at Dinsmore Elementary School and without thinking I complimented a school patrol girl on her cute shirt. I know this girl from having subbed for her class before. She is vivacious and outgoing and has involved parents. As I drove away, I noticed another young girl in a not so cute outfit and I felt very superficial for having done what I just did. So I came back around through the line and I stopped and spoke to this other patrol girl and told her that I did not know her name but I did notice that when I drop off my son, I always see her paying such close attention and taking her patrol job seriously. She is the one holding the Stop and Slow Sign for the students in the cross walk. And I told her "thanks" for taking her job as seriously as she does and being so dutiful. This good deed took way more effort than things like "donating magazines" and "pots and pans" as I really had to think about what I said and what I meant. You've seen these parents...they "let" their kids win at checkers and find ridiculous ways to boost their self-esteem by handing out trophies for all sorts of inane things and praising their children for doing things like---not throwing the cauliflower and pooping in the potty. Empty praise. No child should be praised for NOT throwing the cauliflower across the room. I didn't want this girl to think my comment was empty praise so I had to go back and do some reflection and I talked to my son who is in her class. And I am going to make a conscious effort to notice her more often. She is quiet and rarely dresses in a flashy way. But she is there every day doing her job as a patrol. I've been so focused on the obvious needs of others to try to complete my 52 good deeds that I sort of lost sight of what the good deed should really be about. This act of kindness took no money or great effort other than paying attention to people who might otherwise be not very obvious. I am going to try harder on the last few random acts.
Update: I just wanted to note that I have made a special effort to compliment all the patrol kids at Dinsmore on doing a good job.
50. Okay, I am feel I am failing at my Random Acts but I donated paint, paper and teacher supplies to Dinsmore Elementary. Just left them in the Teacher's Lounge with a sign that said "Free, take what you can use!"
51. I donated a whole boat load of food to Kirby Smith Middle School for Thanksgiving. I admit, it's selfish. My child gets extra credit for the donations, but if the class wins a school contest then the teacher also gets some reward which benefits the students yet again. And the food goes to Second Harvest. Win. Win. Win. One more to go.
52. I won a contest recently for coming up with a slogan for a cleaning company in Austin, TX. What fun! I donated half of the winnings to a local agency that supports some at risk or disadvantaged youth. The other half of the money is what I used for the food for Second Harvest.
That's it. I'm done. Not that I will stop with my Random Acts of Kindness but just that I can stop updating this blog entry! Next year I plan to be 40 again!
Who can resist a purple toilet? Not me! Nor pink cotton candy and all kinds of whimsical things. But this purple toilet is part of a prank with a purpose and it caught my eye as a great idea for fundraisers in a community.
Rebecca Szabo-Silfies, an employee for the American Cancer Society in Pennsylvania is pranking people with this purple toilet to raise money to fight cancer.
Rebecca stakes out unsuspecting homeowners and leaves the toilet in a prominent place on the front lawn. She also leaves some instructions--For 10.00 she will remove it, for 15.00 she will send it to a friend and for 20.00 you can get "Toilet Insurance" which means she will remove it and make sure you don't get it back again.
Totally clever Rebecca!
I am a recycling freak. Just ask my kids. I stumbled across this video of children in Paraguay who live on a landfill and have created an orchestra with musical instruments made out of discarded items. It's called the Landfill Harmonic. Local kids had been treated to a concert by a neighboring town. They wanted their own orchestra but lacked even one instrument. Local garbage picker Nicolás Gómez began experimenting with instruments he constructed from trash: Tin water pipes, buttons, bottle caps, and spoon and fork handles make up the body and keys of the saxophones. Oil or paint cans and recycled wood are used for the string section. It is inspiring. And please. think before you toss.
If you don't like dust and don't like dusting, reconsider all that furniture with a sleek, glossy finish! Go for rustic or primitive furniture and you can go months without dusting. Maybe years. Take a look....think anyone is going to notice a little dust on this table?? Not a chance.