March 1, 2007

Yes, I’m talking about cleaning again. And not even in a useful, motivating sort of way like Swistle’s been doing (I love the picture of her twins on that entry. Furiously bleating toddlers are so hilarious when they don’t belong to me), although I do have one handy homemaking tip for you: spraying a bit of perfume onto a lamp’s lightbulb really does make a room smell nice.

Oh, and if your garbage disposal starts to stink, ramming a cut-up lime or lemon into its grind-hole then running it for a minute or so usually does the trick. Using wadded-up newspaper works much better to clean glass or a mirror than paper toweling (no smears, no lint residue). Also, washing your face with honey is supposedly great for your skin.

There! Now I’m practically Hints from fucking Heloise over here. Although I cannot for the life of me figure out why you’re supposed to wash out your coffee machine with vinegar.

ANYWAY. So we met with the housecleaner, who did a walkthrough of our house and talked with us about what we’d like them to focus on. The bad news is, she’s expensive, $90 a visit for a biweekly service. Each visit includes two cleaners working for about 1.5 hours, doing floors (vacuuming and mopping), dusting, counters, showers, toilets, tubs, etc.

I don’t know, it sounds pretty awesome to me. JB is grouchy about the cost and that’s exactly why we’ve canceled housecleaning in the past, so either 1) we both decide it’s worth the investment, 2) we decide it’s too expensive and we figure out something else (a cheaper service, or less-frequent visits), or 3) I decide it’s worth it and every time JB bitches I hand him a bottle of 409 and tell him to go ahead and get cracking.

We’ll see. Our first visit is scheduled for Monday.

In other news that is even more thrilling, except for the part where it’s not, I signed up for Weight Watchers Dot Com, which I’ve been diligently using for, let’s see, about 24 hours now. The website reminded me that I’d registered once before in 2004, when I’d listed my weight as 146, which was sort of encouraging in a way. I mean, at least I haven’t porked up very much since then. Silver lining, silver lining!

I’d forgotten about the obsessive little thrill of entering foods in the online tracker tool, watching things get converted to points and occasionally recoiling in horror. I like the system, really, because it forces me to consider both nutrition/calories and portion size and get realistic about what I’m eating. For instance, the KettleMania “Kinda Sweet, Kinda Salty” popcorn I love with all of my heart and soul and would eat every single night around 10 PM if only I had a constant supply in the house? Has, like, eleventy jillion grams of fat per serving. That’s . . . um, I don’t have a converter handy, but that’s basically a whole shitload of points. I think if I recorded it in my points tracker it would crash the website, immediately after displaying a blinking message: “WHAT ARE YOU, RETARDED?”.

I’m doing the “Flex Plan”, which gives me 20 points per day to expend on the various things I put in my mouth (what?), and I’m hoping I can stay with it long enough to see some real progress. Full disclosure: I’m also hoping (in a fearful, second-guessing kind of way, of course) our attempts at pregnancy this month were successful, so I’m kind of at cross-purposes here, but until the stick tells me otherwise the focus is on belly reduction.

Too bad I don’t have a good close for this yawnworthy entry, maybe something about strippers. How about Dog, instead?




49 Responses to “Dollars and points”

  1. hello insomnia on March 1st, 2007 2:19 pm

    Another housie tip: microwave a bowl of water and vinegar to loosen up the side gunk and clear out any garlicky smell.

    And we had a housekeeper come in once and she was worth the investment. She vacuumed and left a cool design in the fiber. I can’t even replicate that.

  2. robyn on March 1st, 2007 2:25 pm


    I’ve heard good things about Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop Kettle Korn – they even come in single serving mini bags…they talked about this at our last meeting.
    Also – SaraLee Delightful bread – 2 slices for 1 point
    Laughing Cow spreadable cheese – 1 point per wedge (this stuff is a godsend…you can even make alfredo sauce with it)

    Just thought I’d share some favorites

  3. Heather on March 1st, 2007 2:33 pm

    let me tell you…you CAN find a cleaning service for way, way less. when i lived in santa barbara, AKA the most expensive place on earth, my housekeeper was $45 a visit, and she kicked ass.
    also, i am seeing strippers on saturday. so there is your stripper close for the entry.

  4. Ani on March 1st, 2007 2:35 pm

    Oh, yay, DOG! I love her! I miss her! =)

  5. Connie on March 1st, 2007 2:35 pm

    Keep the housekeeper. I don’t even have kids, but I have had someone clean my house for ever. I even had a maid in a 456 sq ft efficiency apartment. When I was unemployed, I mowed my own lawn and stopped eating out so I could keep the housekeeper. It is worth everything not to have to mess with it. Get this– 2 people, 1 dog, 3 cats and a beta live in this house. She comes twice a week. I pay $75 a week. Be very jealous

  6. LLL on March 1st, 2007 2:45 pm

    Hire the bloody housekeeper. Every working couple — even if part time — should have one. $90, if you can really afford it, every two weeks is a small price to pay for reduced stress, less cleaning-based resentment, and feeling like you live in a hovel. JB needs to get over it. I would rather give up lattes and lunches out then give up our housekeeper (who is by herself for $105 per visit in Portland – so $90 seems pretty good). As a way of easing him into the situation you could tell JB you want to try it for 6 months and are willing to reevaluate it then to see if it has helped your stress level etc. Either he will forget in 6 months or you will both realize its value. Other option is have them come every 3 weeks. BUT HIRE SOMEONE. You deserve it.

    On an unrelated note. I just read your Devil You Know entry. Two weeks ago my cousin, who at 47 had battled alcoholism her whole life, jumped off a bridge and killed herself. At her funeral a family friend sitting next to me was talking about alcoholism (her late husband was also an alcoholic), she said alcoholism is a disease and we need to really look at it like one. It’s like cancer: some people have skin cancer and its remved and gone, some have cancer that it treatable with aggressive medication, some people can treat it and battle it and be fine, and some people are killed by it. It’s no different with the disease of alcoholism. Yours is the kind that can be treated with vigilence. You shouldn’t feel embarrased or weak anymore than someone who needs continuing medical treatment. And feel blessed that you can treat it — and hopefully never let it get you to the point where my cousin was — she never could control it and it killed her.

  7. Josh on March 1st, 2007 2:46 pm

    I don’t even try to diet. The failure is both immense and immediate. Instead I date a woman who used to be fat and then lost weight. She looks really good, and isn’t at all judgemental about the gut I’ve been nurturing for the last five years. If I tallied points, I would get 100 every day, and a gold star. Arby’s, here I come.

    And the newspaper tip is awesome. Windows have been mocking my feeble attempts at cleanliness for years with their pervasive lint clusters and smears that only show up after I’m done cleaning. Bastards.

  8. Julie on March 1st, 2007 2:49 pm

    I’m not in any way trying to rain on the merry maid parade, but I’m wondering if you have ever read Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich; there is a whole chapter dedicated to the lifes of housecleaners and the ways that various cleaning companies “save” money when they clean your house. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    Also, if you’ve haven’t read Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs, he has a hilarious chapter about when he hired a maid to clean his apartment.

    None of these stories have ever stopped me from thinking ahout getting a maid myself.

  9. Jennifer on March 1st, 2007 2:54 pm

    The wadded-newspaper window cleaner is most primo for doing your car windows… especially the insides where, somehow, lots of grunge builds up. Newspaper and windex gets them streak-free!

    Aw.. great Dog pics. She’s getting gray in the muzzle, the big sweetie (I can identify with that… the gray part, not the sweetie part).

  10. sundry on March 1st, 2007 3:06 pm

    Yes, I’ve read Nickel and Dimed, and no, this isn’t Merry Maids.

  11. Amy on March 1st, 2007 3:17 pm

    I say option #3 might be your best course of action. But don’t stop at the 409. Also hand him a toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner. Try handing him a broom and a mop. Finally, what about the vacuum? Once he sees your serious about needing the help and he isn’t all jazzed to be that help, he’ll come around to your way of thinking.

  12. Gena on March 1st, 2007 3:19 pm

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you on the whole baby #2 thing. I have 4, though, so I like kids. A. LOT. Obviously. And, if I could afford it, I would have a house cleaning person again. In a heartbeat. Just to help me keep up with the kids, the dog and my mother. Not to mention the laundry. I did 94 loads last month. Can you believe that? Yes, I counted. I even made up a little calendar for my laundry room to keep track of loads done. OCD much?

    P.S. Riley is the most adorable child ever. I sort of want to steal him. I think it is time for me to have #5.

  13. Leah on March 1st, 2007 3:20 pm

    A few months ago we got a cleaning service at work. They come once a week and move all my stuff around and generally annoy the hell out of me. Considering that we previously had NO cleaning service and our floors only got vaccuumed once a year (I wouldn’t eat off them, but they looked FINE), I’ve been trying to convince the powers that be that the cleaners should not come once a week but once a month, if that, especially since we work mostly with paper instead of, say, mud or guts. Ninety bucks is expensive, but maybe not so bad if it’s only monthly?…Also, you just might find that you and JB are tidier in general when you know someone’s going to have to clean up after you. In conclusion, I’m too jealous of your garbage disposal to even think about getting worked up over a maid service. Sigh.

  14. Yams on March 1st, 2007 3:24 pm

    We pay $100/week for the house and yard work. Go for it, it’s worth every last cent. Congrats on signing up for WW but I mean what is the point if pregnancy (hope, hope!) is imminent?? Put that money towards the house cleaning, i say.

  15. felicia on March 1st, 2007 3:29 pm

    Did you read the article yesterday that said low fat dairy foods may increase infertility?
    Just sayin…

  16. Swistle on March 1st, 2007 3:38 pm

    That cost is almost exactly what it is around here: about $30/hour per cleaner. We did find someone who would work for $20/hour–she was independent (I think that might be a euphemism for “cash under the counter,” but I didn’t look into it) rather than with an agency.

    Oh! Oh oh oh! I have a diet toy to recommend. It is the Presto Power Pop Microwave air popper, and we bought ours at Walmart for $12.99. You can use it to make air-popped popcorn in the microwave, or you can add 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of oil and get popcorn that doesn’t have that singed-air flavor. Then you can sprinkle it with salt and Splenda, and it is a respectable substitute for the deliciousness of kettle corn. It’s even more respectable if you wait awhile so your mouth forgets what the real stuff tastes like.

    Really, really hoping for a sibling for Riley. That would be so, so exciting.

  17. angela on March 1st, 2007 3:47 pm

    Throwing a mess of ice cubes in the disposal and then running it helps dislodge stray bits of whatever and helps keep it from smelling.

  18. christen on March 1st, 2007 3:53 pm

    Good luck with the WW. You will be STARVING for the first week, I won’t lie, but suddenly, after about 7 or 8 days, you aren’t. It’s easy if you do it and you can still chow down on fries and lattes. Just small changes make it possible and easy–2% cheese or nonfat lattes and voila! You aren’t eating celery all day, every day. My only tip is to eat all your points and at least some of your flex points. I didn’t lose a damn thing until I ate ALL my flex points and ALL my activity points. And definitely try to squeeze in some activity (walks with Dog and Riley in the stroller when it warms up?) because you get to eat more, and it’s less of a shock to your body. Also? You make me sad with your skinniness since you only get 20pts when STARTING. That’s my GOAL, is to be down to 20pts. Ugh. Good luck to you!!

  19. April on March 1st, 2007 3:56 pm

    We are living in a parallel universe… I am on WW, trying to get pregnant and wishing we could afford someone else to clean the house. I will find out next week if I can throw this whole point system in the toilet. Here’s hoping!

  20. Taylor on March 1st, 2007 4:12 pm

    It just occured to me that it’s kinda sad how I’ve never met you and yet am eagerly awaiting to hear what color turns the stick. ^.^ Good luck!

  21. Caitlin on March 1st, 2007 4:12 pm

    Dude, with the Nickel and Dimed comments, c’mon. No personal offense to commenters, but Sundry is a smart, well-read gal. Plus, we all know she saves her abuse for low-paid women who can barely afford Doritos for AFTER the holy lenten season, jeez!

  22. Fernanda on March 1st, 2007 4:13 pm

    I have to say, if there’s one advantage of living in Brazil it’s the maid service!
    I pay U$200 a month for a maid to come every day, for the whole day ( also a built in nanny )!!!
    But if you ask me it’s a lot to pay not to have Wendy’s, starbucks, Target, taco bell, reese’s peanut butter cups, gap, old navy and soooooooooo many other things only available in the US!

  23. fellowmom on March 1st, 2007 4:41 pm

    I would give up so many things before our house cleaner, like new shoes, seriously. We pay a bit less than your estimate, but she doesn’t clean our finished basement or our office. These areas don’t get used so much and just need occasional light cleaning. If there is a room or two you don’t need professionally cleaned, that might be a way to reduce the cost. Of course, we don’t have any pets right now, but I know from past experience that tumbleweeds of pet hair can migrate great distances and won’t be confined to certain rooms. I also mentioned Nickel and Dimed in a comment to a previous post–interesting read and one of the few behind the scenes accounts of Merry Maids, which seems to have some gross practices, not to mention the compensation issue.

    Good luck with WW!

  24. BethanyWD on March 1st, 2007 4:48 pm

    We live in south Snohomish county and I have friends in the area that pay $100/visit, so I think $90/visit on the Eastside is a pretty decent deal.

    Until my college loans are paid off (2008), no house cleaner for me (I really, really want on just for the bathrooms and floors).

  25. Niki P. on March 1st, 2007 4:57 pm

    I love Dog. She makes me happy. I need a dog again. It’s time.

  26. Liz in Australia on March 1st, 2007 5:08 pm

    Oooh! Fingers crossed for #2!

  27. Katie on March 1st, 2007 5:09 pm

    My parents (and on occasion, me too) have been on Weight Watchers off-and-on for years. My father has lost something like, 35 pounds and my mom is working on it. They’re in their 50s, so it’s harder, you know? But there are a ton of low-points snack foods out there that taste great.

    A list off of the top of my head: meringue cookies, Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (2pts. per), matzoh bread, and more. The 2-pts each snack bars that you can buy in the grocery store aren’t bad, either. Gear toward the chocolate and peanut butter or double chocolate – the white chocolate and other types aren’t so great.

  28. Cari on March 1st, 2007 5:25 pm

    I had a friend who got pregnant after starting Weight Watchers. Perhaps it’s a fertility treatment? Good luck with both.

    PS. I love Dog, too.

  29. Kizz on March 1st, 2007 6:19 pm

    I signed up for online WW on Tuesday.

    I’M HUNGRY!!!

    Good luck on all fronts! I’m in the market for a housecleaner here in Brooklyn. I am not a happy homemaker.

  30. Emily on March 1st, 2007 6:28 pm

    I was convincing myself that I’m not hungry, until you mentioned the Kettle Korn. My stomach is audibly upset now. Must consume butter/salt immediately …

  31. Tessa on March 1st, 2007 7:44 pm

    I can totally answer the vinegar through the coffee machine thing. Vinegar is basically diluted acetic acid. The acid goes through the machine and clears out build up of various ions (magnesium or calcium deposits are the normal ones) because… eh, you probably don’t care about the chemistry behind it. :) But that’s why you’re supposed to clean it out with vinegar. So, yeah. Yay for acid.

  32. Marolyn on March 1st, 2007 7:58 pm

    Congrats on Weight Watchers! Like Robyn above I concur that Laughing Cow Cheese is AWESOME! I had no idea you could make alfredo sauce with it.. I just eat it with Tomato Basil Wheat Thins. I also use plain fat free yougurt for everything ~ from sour cream subsitute to mixing it with salsa and using as a marinade for Chicken George (Foreman) to mixing it with dry soup and dip mixes ( no points!) Hubby and I have been WWing it for a bit and have lost the total weight of an Olsen Twin! Good Luck and get creative!
    Wishing you luck for conception!!!!

  33. raimi on March 1st, 2007 8:01 pm


    I found this great site with lots of weekly competitions, any anyone is able to enter. competitions


  34. H on March 1st, 2007 9:19 pm

    No offense to your darling son, but I love Dog. Well, I really don’t know Dog, but I love looking at your photos of Dog and I’m sure I would love Dog if I met Dog in person.

  35. Jennifer D. on March 1st, 2007 10:00 pm

    We have someone come and clean bi-weekly for $75 each visit. LOVE IT. My husband watches our son and I work full-time and he can focus on the boy, just has to pick up and make sure the house isn’t too messy and he cooks the meals during the week.

    Wouldn’t change a thing.

  36. adoring fan on March 1st, 2007 10:32 pm

    Yay for dog!! I heart dog ever so much!!

  37. JMH on March 2nd, 2007 3:41 am

    Thanks for linking to Swistle. Love her blog! Also loved the pic of her “rebellious cleaning helpers” :)

    I used to pay $75 per month and our cleaning lady only came once during that time…still worth it!

  38. Anonymous on March 2nd, 2007 5:57 am

    Good for you on both fronts.

  39. Joanne on March 2nd, 2007 6:09 am

    It does seem like a lot of money on the face of it, but $45 a week isn’t too bad, when you think of what other things cost $45 a week. Like you don’t pay for lunches, right, at your work place? And if you smoked, it could cost around that much. And if someone isn’t doing any of the cleaning, how can he contribute to the conversation? It just seems like the peace of mind gained would be great compared to the money.

  40. Jamie on March 2nd, 2007 6:36 am

    I don’t know what you drink during the day, but I lost 20 lbs by cutting out the TWO Dr.Pepper’s I drank a day. No added exercise, no watching what I ate, just cutting out the sodas.

  41. Frank on March 2nd, 2007 6:48 am

    Nice ending…not as good as strippers, but Dog is cute.

  42. JennB on March 2nd, 2007 6:54 am

    The vinegar takes any calcium buildup (from your water) out of the works of your coffee maker. Living on a well with hard water, this is a battle I fight as often as you will have your cleaner, which is bi-weekly.

    Congrats on the WW – good luck!

  43. Amanda on March 2nd, 2007 8:35 am

    Boy, I have been getting pressure to get some housekeeping help for years. Slightly more experienced moms are always saying it’s more than worth the money. Watching my 9 month old act as a fur, dirt and unidentifiable dry or gooey food roller is unnerving. It might be nice to have her get two crawls a month sans mystery shit all up on her onesies.

    About the Kettle Corn, being the scholar that I am (snort) I just read about this on the People magazine blog. I think Jennifer Garner and Courtney Cox probably have a little more going for them in the ass shrinking department than whole grain snacks, but what the hell. I’ll be crossing my fingers that you weigh yourself, see that you’re down 7 pounds and then find out you are spectacularly knocked up.

  44. nonsoccermom on March 2nd, 2007 9:08 am

    What a cute picture of Dog! Oh, and Riley too.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you as well – hopefully my husband and I will be more successful this month with our attempts at kid #2. Last week I could have sworn I was pregnant, but as it turns out, not so much. I think the universe is mocking me. Anyway, good luck to you!

  45. Swistle on March 2nd, 2007 9:58 am

    A comment on WW is that the girl I know who pays and goes to meetings (instead of stealing photocopies of other people’s stuff like…other people) says that WW encourages people to switch back and forth even as often as weekly between the Core and Points plans. What I’d do is start with Core, which deprives you of certain delicious categories of foods (fats. sweets. flour.) but at least lets you eat as much as you goddamn want of what’s left. That first week or two, it’s a great comfort to be able to eat my own weight in popcorn and chicken and apples. Then, once you’re used to the idea of dieting and ready to start clawing people’s eyes out to get at their pizza and candy, switch to Points: less food, but better types and more varieties of it.

  46. Mel on March 2nd, 2007 1:15 pm

    I wish you the best of luck with weightwatchers. I have a friend who swears by it so much that I’m considering it myself. And I hope the cleaning service works out for you, too. It won’t be so stressful on you if it does, perhaps.

  47. Deanna on March 3rd, 2007 2:33 pm

    Thank you for being so open about your weight concerns. I’ve always been “healthy” – and I see the photos you post and think “if I were her kind of healthy…” Before this sounds like a fat girl saying “be happy with what you have” what I REALLY want to say is that I feel better knowing I’m not the only one that feels that way. Perhaps someone might look at me and wish they could be more of my type of healthy. Does this even make a damn bit of sense? I just spent two days with my parents in my tiny one-bedroom apartment (damn Atlanta and your high rent), so I’ve revereted a bit back to 8th grade.

    Back to you, which is the point after all, best of luck gettin’ knocked up! I so enjoy reading about Riley and became a fan of your blog while Riley was “cooking.” So, GO SPERM GO! :)

  48. GoingLoopy on March 5th, 2007 1:56 pm

    I hate housework. So I’m all for the “handing the man cleaning supplies if he bitches” plan. Once my car is paid off (less than a year), I’m fucking hiring a maid to clean my studio apartment.

    And the best thing on WW is the sugar-free Popsicle fudge pops. 1 point for two.

    Good luck with Baby #2….you’ll either get to eat real food again, or have more sex, depending on the outcome of the test. Neither of these are a bad thing. ;)

  49. Chlorine Injection Systems on November 4th, 2011 4:44 am

    I’ve recently started a site, the information you offer on this website Dollars and points : All & Sundry has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work. “The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky” by Solomon Short.

Leave a Reply