The Art of Washing Dishes

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dishwasherThis past week our automatic dishwasher broke down.  Between all the normal busy stuff and my severe lack of mechanical abilities, it took a week to get repaired.  Nothing overly complicated once I tore it apart – just a split drain hose.  However in the mean time it meant we had to go old-school with regards to doing dishes.  For some of you this is a no brainer.  For others (like my kids) it was new and uncharted territory to navigate.  I’ll share with you the art of washing dishes by hand as taught to me by my grandmother.  The bonus is the magic that occurred over this week…..

I know that pretty much anybody can wash dishes by hand.  It doesn’t require a college degree and everyone usually has all the required tools – water; dish soap; towels; and willing hands.  That last part was the push for us.  Teenagers are usually un“willing” to do anything unless it includes using a cell phone; iPod; iPad; the internet; or cable TV.    

THE ART – As a young person I was shipped off to my grandparents for a couple of weeks every summer.  It’s amazing the things you can learn from somebody 60 years older than you…Like how to wash dishes by hand.  First of all is the normal prep work.  All table debris must be scraped into the trash (grandma did not have a disposal either).  Dishes were pre-rinsed and stack to the left.  Fill the left sink with hot water and dish soap.  It the right was the Rubbermaid strainer rack.  So here’s the process:

grandma dish washing soap familyGlasses First – always wash the glasses first because your water is the cleanest and glasses usually are not greasy.  Because they are clear, you want the glasses to be spotless when done so they get the cleanest water.

China second – much like glassware only your plates; cups; saucers and bowls are not clear.  And if you’ve done a good job of pre-rinsing your soapy water should still be quite clean.

Silverware third – notice we’re getting progressively “dirtier” dishes.  One note about silverware…always stack it in the strainer handle down.  This also applies to filling your dishwasher too.  This is so that any soapy residue rinsing may have missed drains down toward the handles…not towards to part you put into your mouth.

Pots/Pans last – These will really soil your water and take a lot of elbow grease to scrub and clean.

As my son pointed out during this process, “why don’t you just get fresh water each time?”.  Well first of all that is not how grandma did it, and second its wasteful.  If you really want to conserve more water consider using a small plastic tub in your sink.

THE MAGIC – now that the basic mechanics of washing dishes is covered, let me tell you about what happened this past week.  My teenage son usually is like a hermit in his bedroom.  He has a wide screen TV; wireless internet; cable; his laptop; and every other gadget known to man.  Now before you jump to conclusions, he’s not spoiled.  He works full time and goes to school too and bought everything himself.  The point is though, aside from eating and using the bathroom, he sees no reason to leave his room.  But this week instead of just loading the dishwasher and going back to his man-cave, we had dishes to wash – by hand!  OMG!  The brutality of it all..the horror. 

Dishes washing hands grandmaIt actually turned out fairly well.  In our house we have a rule.  Whoever cooks dinner does not have to clean up.  So this left my 19 yr old son and I doing dishes together.  The magic of this was that it turned into an unintended version of “quality time”.  While doing the dishes (grandma style – not Gangnam Style) we were able to have intelligent conversations.  What are his dreams and aspirations?  How was his new job at the Honda plant going?  Investment strategies; IRA’s; 401K’s; college; technology advancements; social issues; Lance Armstrong doping scandal; Hurricane Sandy; Politics and Obamacare; owning a home; relationships (girls)…etc.  It was really a great experience to have these talks while doing the dishes.  It was not the normal sit-down lectures and other painful approaches to getting him to grow up and mature.  I enjoyed it and remarkably I think that he did too.

Maybe next month the Comcast cable/internet connection will go out for a weekend – magically!

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How to Build and Use a Water Level

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Plumb BobI had to lay some buried drain lines on my property to address problems where water was pooling and causing mud holes. Once I had dug the trenches my next problem was to figure out how to accurately measure the slope of the drain lines to ensure the water would go where I wanted.  I’m basically too cheap to buy a laser level or a transit; and too inept to use a string level with any accuracy.  So I decided to build a simple water level to make sure my drain lines were right.  Here's how I did it......

Water-bound with Toddlers

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While it may be true that “Those who are lucky enough to live on a lake are lucky enough,” for those of us who are not lucky enough, we must pull our wet and wild goodies from beach bags not from our lakeside cabanas.  Thirty-six years of being a water bug have taught me I absolutely must have these... 

Weekend at Home

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The first day of college marks the automatic fall break countdown. Students live for long weekends that provide a significant pause from the noise of university life. For the past few weeks your son or daughter has lived independently.  Family systems differ from these independent routines. Don’t waste limited time fighting over petty misunderstandings with your son or daughter during a long weekend. Read through the following Do’s and Don’ts of weekends at home to keep the peace and provide the perfect college getaway for a maxed out college student.

The #1 Thing to Teach Your Kids About the Internet

Average: 5 (1 vote)

girl on pcAt some point every parent will eventually realize that our kids are more technically savvy than we ever will be. What was innovation and magic for us is commonplace for them. They grew up with computers; cell phones; tablets; ipads, ipods, iphones; i-this and i-that devices are everywhere. They don’t have conversations…they text; tweet; post; blog; and Reddit / Pinterest their daily encounters. So here is the hardest thing you will ever teach your kids about the internet…

Super Easy Toilet Clog Fix

Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

toilet boy cute babyAs a follow up to a prior article on unclogging drains, I wanted to share this simple method for clearing plugged toilets. Now I’ve taken a lot of crap over the years about this topic, and I wish somebody had just told me about this fix 20 years ago. From a very early age both of my boys have had “issues” using the toilet. One believes there is no such thing as using too much toilet paper, and the other must have a colon shaped like a Pringles can – OMG. And the only thing that has changed over the years is they are now older, bigger, and still being a pain in the commode. Now on to the easiest fix you’ll ever find…

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