In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

How To Clean Up After A Blow Out

In 10 easy steps. These things I know. I have thrown many the blow out (including the one where my dad and brother were arrested CHARGES TRUMPED UP! and many parties included beer bottles empty of everything but horrible chew spittle. That is the smell of my youth. I had a lot of red neck friends.)

1) If you can manage it, before you go to bed, put away any leftover food you want to keep. If you let it sit until morning, you'll have to toss it and the house will smell. Plus, Germy! Also, fill an empty wine bottle with a little water -- you can add a touch of dish soap if you want. Splash the tiniest amount into each wine glass- especially the red wine glasses. (Do not touch the wine glasses in any other way.) This will save you scrubbing time tomorrow. Water is the universal solvent, which is the only thing I retained from 9th grade physics. You should also drink water. Hydrate!

2) Plump all the cushions. Really. This will make you feel better tomorrow when you come downstairs in the morning.

3) The next morning, after you've tiptoed through the trash and stickiness on the floor and gotten your coffee (at a nearby cafe because who can manage to make coffee in this mess), get your trash can and walk around ruthlessly throwing out everything that's garbage -- paper cups and plates, potato chip bags etc. Carry a separate box with you for recycling all those empty bottles of Cuervo. Take out the garbage. Swish a little bleach in the bottom of the garbage can. Will make things instantly more sanitary.

4) Clean up your kitchen. I know it seems BACKWARDS to do it before you've brought in any dirty dishes but it's much more pleasant to do dishes in a clean kitchen and clean sink. Wipe down the counters with something that smells like grapefruit. It will make you feel healthy. This is from Williams Sonoma, where I had my first job after college. I got in trouble for not dusting right.

5) Gather then wash all your dishes in categories: all the little plates (wash), all the platters (wash), all the bowls (etc), all the glasses. They are much easier to deal with this way -- they will fit in the dishwasher easier, or nestle into one another in the dish rack. Do the glasses last -- they are easily broken so you want to make sure you have the room to treat them properly. Spread out a clean dish cloth and upend the wine glasses as you wash them.

6) Take a long break. House Hunters International may be on! Plus your kitchen is clean, save for piles of moist, scrubbed dishes, so you can make huevos rancheros. (heat a can of black beans with a little chili powder. Crumble up tortilla chips from the bottom of that bag wedged in the couch cushions and pout them on the plate. Scramble or fry a couple of eggs. Some people dopnm't like the yolks running amok. Put the beans on the chips, then top with the eggs. dig around until you find some cheese to grate on it, and sour cream if you have it, and dump the salsa you have leftover from last night. Eat. Watch TV. Hoarders is on! If that doesn't inspire you to finish cleaning, I don't know what will.

7) During commercial breaks, put away a category of now-dry dish -- just little plates, or just platters. Continue till done during commercials only. Feel superior to the hoarders (this is not difficult, and really is a very low bar to set for yourself. You should be ashamed). Remark to your boyfriend/roommate/mother that what they should do is give the hoarders 30 minutes to make a list of all the things that they want to keep. The trick is that they can't make the list in the presence of the stuff -- they have to be outside the house, perhaps in a clean, well-lit cafe. Anything not on the list gets tossed. Ta-Daa!
8) By now your house and kitchen should be food, garbage, smell and dish free. Put on a moisturizing or skin clearing masque. Put on clean socks, get out your Swiffer wet jet and run it around the floors. Throw all your dishtowels in the laundry.

9) Take a shower. Admire your moist, clear skin.

10) Clean up your huevos dishes. Order in Chinese food.


  1. 11) Invite people who will help clean up. My friends know that if they spend 10 minutes tossing empties and trash before they leave, it will increase the chances of me throwing another blowout exponentially.

  2. I think I've fallen in love with you.