Hello,

I'm Katrina Rasbold, webmaster, for Eye on Soaps (that's the site where you are currently perusing around).  This new EOS column requires a particular degree of introduction.  Those of you who have followed my Nonsoapy Journal, know that I am *cough* cleaning challenged, both in practical application and in motivation to, well,  practically apply anything to cleaning. 

In one particularly boisterous pissin contest, my friend (EOS columnist) Kathy Hardeman and I began swapping pictures of our icky houses to see which of us would win the nastiest house contest.  Learning of our fun, Carolyn jabbed her slim and trim arm into the air and proceeded to jump up and down squealing, "Oooh!  Oooh!  I wanna play!  I wanna play" and promptly fired out her own extremely messy house pictures.  >:<

Amateur.

I can't remember if Kathy or I won... I think I did ultimately with my Garage of Death tilting the scales in my favor.  I'd like to share with you now the heinous pictures of Carolyn's messy house.  Those of you who have a sensitive nature might want to turn away.  It's fairly horrific.  I'm surprised DFS isn't on her doorstep to take her kids out of this filthy living environment:

The white arrows will lead us on our path through the melee that is Carolyn's house. 
You'll notice immediately that the cedar chest is NOT completely closed, there is some red
thing on the chair and the small pillow behind the resting child is completely out of
alignment with the larger pillow.


Pfft.  Window blinds are completely asymmetrical with their open:closed pattern.

DOES THE MADNESS NEVER END?? 
These light switches should be ALL up or ALL down! 
Not completely akimbo like this.

Some sloppy person left this nice monitor lying haphazardly on the table!

Carolyn's kitchen... in need of MAJOR help. 
Note the phone wire that does NOT descend
in a straight line from the jack to the floor,
the crumbs on the table and the refrigerator
magnet that is frightfully askew.

AGAIN with the blinds.  >:<

As you can see, via my sarcastic tour of Carolyn's house in its "messy" state (she was totally disqualified, but we still loved her), Carolyn is MORE than aptly qualified to tell those of us who are cleaning challenged what the hell we are supposed to be doing.  If Carolyn came into my house, she'd probably take a full round of high powered antibiotics (and a particularly long, hot, soapy shower with a brand new loofa) immediately afterwards.  I love Carolyn... my friend, my columnist, my Diva... but I fear her.... I fear her as Scrooge most feared the Ghost of Christmas Future.  Carolyn's long, hard, accusing stares freeze my blood and act as a domestic conscience I had hoped never to encounter.

Now, she is yours too.  It's too late.  You activated the process when you clicked this link... all innocent and trusting.  You belong to her now.  Your cleaning-lethargic and scrubbing-apathetic little soul is in her steely talons and you might just as well comply or damnation is nigh... a damnation that you could never envision in your darkest Fly Lady tortured nightmares. 

No, I won't always be prefacing her column with such dire warnings... but it's best you know... for the first column at least.

Because Carolyn is, after all, the Diva of Cleaning, there are a few rules you must accept before coming into her presence for an "adjustment."

1)  You must never, ever question her, criticize her, correct her (because you're wrong, just accept it), mock her, address her informally without the "Diva" title or look her directly in the eyes.  In fact, don't look at her at all.  You're supposed to be cleaning and looking at her wastes precious time when you ought to be making some progress.  (slacker!)

2)  You may write her with specific cleaning related questions, provided you are respectful, sincere and again, use the Diva title when addressing her.  "All Hail the Diva of Cleaning" written at the bottom of your letter may earn you special rewards (or may not... but... maybe).

3)  Most importantly, do NOT... (pppsssttt... come here, I have to whisper this part or she might here... sound travels exceptionally well in a pristinely clean house) *do not EVER be fooled by her skippity, joyful, light-hearted sounding style of writing.  She has teeth and claws and other sharpened body parts and she is NOT afraid to use them.  Trust me.  Any sense of joviality in this column is a ruse to woo you into familiarity before she goes in for the kill on the dustbunnies under your bed!*  (NO ma'am!  Nothing!  Just clearing my throat *cough*) 

4)  Lastly, once you have perfected all of Carolyn's (Diva of Clean) cleaning techniques, the practical exam for your final grade will be held at my house.  Just give me a call and I'll hurry you right in to get busy.  I am also offering my own home up for practice in advance of the test, as much as you need (that includes all aspects of cleaning).  Certainly, as many of you as can fit within these walls are welcome to hone your skills at cleaning them and all that is stacked within them.  It's the least I can do.

Have fun with our newest column and learn, learn, learn!  It is with great pleasure that I introduce:

CAROLYN ASPENSON, THE DIVA OF CLEAN!!!

*good luck*
Katrina

(Katrina scutters away very, very quickly)

* * * * *

Iím so excited! Katrinaís asked me to write another column for EOS and scary as it sounds, Iím sure this will be my most favorite! Let me give you a bit of background information here...

Hello, my name Carolyn Ridder Aspenson and Iím a Cleanaholic. (Here is where you say, ďHi Carolyn.) I havenít always been a cleanaholic. As a teenager my mother would battle me daily to make my bed and clean my room. Those terms were foreign to me. I preferred the security of my things around me. All around me. As a matter of fact, my friend Nancy and I still laugh about finding a two week old pizza underneath my bed. Hey, at least it was under the bed, right?

I started to notice changes in myself when I was a sophomore in college. A first time dormer at Indiana University, I had a roommate who wasnít necessarily the cleanest gal around (nor was she the shy-with-the-boys type either, if you get my drift!). Since the dorms were no bigger than a walk-in closet, something within me felt the need to keep it neat and organized. That living arrangement lasted one semester.

After the messy, sleazy roommate from hell experience, I opted for a single dorm room and reveled in my cleanliness. It was cool! My space, my things, my control. After all, thatís what being clean is all about to me...control.

After college and a bout back at moms where I reverted to messy kid status, I got my very first apartment. I remember the night before I moved in. I sat on the floor in the main area and just breathed in deeply, sucking up all of the positive energy of freedom and control. That place was never dirty except for the time I was gone and my dog opened a two pound box of cookies and spread them all over the floor, eating some and puking them up. Temporary set back but certainly not something to cry to mom about! The dog, on the other hand got a nice talking to!

Iím now 37 years old, married with three kids and a husband who donít believe in garbage cans. Theyíre not by any means dirty, but they cannot put something back where it belongs to save their lives! It is a full-time job picking up after them each day. I find things in the oddest places; Morganís robe underneath the dining room chair (she looked for it for three days but thatís a whole different column!); my husbands keys in the freezer (I have no clue about that one!). When Iím not picking things up, I spend my time cleaning and organizing. Iíve even been known in my times of insomnia, to get out of bed and reorganize the kitchen cabinets at two am. Scary, yes. Borderline obsessive? Most definitely! My previous boss thought I walked around with a vacuum in hand 24/7. I confess, I do vacuum often. I have to, Iíve got a dog and a cat. (But you wouldnít know it by looking at my house!) My basement storage shelves are a plethora of Rubbermaid containers and I get excited after Christmas when they all go on sale.

Yes, Iím even starting to scare me now!

Iíve been part of this family now for almost six years. Living with them, that is. Itís been a terribly hard adjustment, to put it mildly. Gone is some of my obsessive cleaning behavior. I still clean something everyday and Iíve learned to simply close the kids bedroom doors to stop the compulsion to clean them after they leave for school every day. I still spend Saturdays cleaning for about three hours in the morning. Sometimes I go all out, others I just do the basics. But if anyone of you came into my house right now, you would be shocked to know Iíve got a dog, cat and three kids. Iím proud of that!

Recently Katrina, Kathy and I exchanged pictures of our homes online. They laughed that I thought mine wasnít entirely clean - but when clean means not one single thing out of place in the whole house, itís hard to meet that criteria. And thatís what I expect from myself. Do I meet that everyday? No, of course not. But I admit, I try very, very hard.

Katrina was getting ready to clean her house today and I mentioned a few cleaning products I like to use. She suggested I start writing a weekly cleaning tips column and I, sad and pathetic as it sounds, thought it was a great idea! If I could just help one person have a cleaner house, I would be a success at life! Okay, so thatís not really what I thought, but it seemed to fit the obsessive behavior pattern!

So hereís the first of many columns about cleaning. Iíll offer suggestions; product recommendations; information on products that donít work and tips and secrets of us cleaning obsessives. I may even provide an organizational tip or two. Some will be my own, some hopefully suggestions from you and some from books and things that Iíve acquired over the years. (Yes, I have books on cleaning, so what!) I hope you enjoy my column and my tips and that you use them! I promise theyíll help!

Cleaning Tips of the Week:

1. Cleaning pet urine
Dilute the stain with a cloth dampened with water. Do not soak the spot. Then clean the area with a solution of one quart water and one teaspoon white vinegar. Also pick up a pet bacteria/enzyme digester at your local pet store. You may not be able to smell the urine anymore, but believe me, they can. This will help neutralize the odor and make the spot uninteresting to your pet (therefore they wonít gravitate to it again!) Keep in mind these things need to penetrate the carpet and the pad but they work slowly. After youíve applied the digester cover the spot with plastic and step on it several times until the area is well saturated. And please, follow the digesters directions carefully. If the stain is older you might not be able to get rid of it but still use the digester because it will still take out the smell.

2. For a quick trick to make the house look clean because guests are coming soon, clean all the doors in your house. Scrub them from the top down with soapy water. You can even use those new Mr. Clean sponge things, which will clean almost anything, including dirty walls. Also wipe down the top of the door frame. This will brighten any room and makes a house look instantly clean. (Do I sound like a HGTV cleaning expert or what?! This is soo much fun!!)

3. Got kids? Got kids who like to write on the walls with crayons? Me too! Got a solution?  I do! Scrub the marks with toothpaste or an ammonia soaked cloth. Rinse the area and dry it off. Never, ever leave a wall wet! The paint can get streak marks from the solution and they donít come out!

4. Quick cleaning option for wood floors: Use a piece of wax paper under your dust mop. Dirt sticks to the mop and the wax serves as a shiner for your floors.

5. When youíve got to clean your window sills, which I hate because they are ALWAYS dirty, rub rubbing alcohol on them.

Okay, I could go on and on but then I might not have more for next weeks column and that would totally devastate me! Please, if you have any ideas or recommendations, email me at carolyn@eyeonsoaps.com. Iíll be sure to list them in my columns!

Go yonder and clean!
Carolyn