15 March 2012

The great spring clean: my favorite things

So far this week, I’ve shown you the benefits of my hard work around the house over spring break, mostly in closets and storage spaces. I did a lot of other stuff too, though – like polishing floors, clearing our kitchen counters and cabinets, emptying and organizing our master closet, scrubbing tile, pulling weeds, et cetera et cetera. And originally I was going to show you that today, because holy crap, that was hard work.

But because you’ve all champs for sticking around while I showed you my messy closets and cobwebby garage, I thought I’d instead show you a few things that made this week of housework bearable. Even, sometimes, enjoyable. Let’s call this My Favorite Things, Spring Clean edition, even if none of these things are truly directly related to cleaning.

1) The Hunger Games Trilogy, on audiobook

Any audiobook helps hours fly by, but for an awful job like spring cleaning, a good book is essential. And we all know how hand-flappingly good the Hunger Games trilogy is, because we’ve all read it! Right? Right?! If you are not nodding along with me, get thee to a library immediately.


If you’re behind on the Hunger Games phenomenon, you should catch up soon – the movie based on the first book comes out next week! Mr. P and I are planning to see it, which is a big deal since I go to the movies maybe twice a year. Because it’s been a year and a half since I read the books, I enjoyed a refresher this week listening to the books while cleaning. I admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the voice actress, but when one is spending the day scrubbing floors, one must not be picky.

2) BBC Sherlock

I briefly mentioned, waaay back, that Mr. P and I mostly spent our lazy anniversary celebration watching Netflix, and how we discovered BBC’s latest rendition of the consulting detective at 221B Baker Street. As I said at the time, I was obsessed. And now? Uh... still obsessed, actually.

Now, let me be clear: I was never really a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, in the original books or any of the movies. It’s not that I didn’t like Sherlock Holmes, it just... didn’t hold my interest. BUT THIS. THIS SHOW IS INCREDIBLE.


Benedict Cumberbatch is the most bizarrely handsome and intriguing Sherlock, and Martin Freeman (who is adorable, and made of kittens) is his flatmate John Watson. The execution of the stories in modern day is impeccable and delightful and entertaining and well worth your time. If you have Netflix, hurry up and watch the first season – the second season will be broadcast here in the United States on PBS in May!

Also worth nothing is that the seasons are short, with only three episodes each, but each episode is a full 90 minutes long. Which is fantastic for a lot of reasons, but the salient point here is that that I only had to put down my spray bottle and rag once every hour and a half to hit “Next” on Netflix.

Now, you probably can’t clean while watching Sherlock the first time, because the show needs your attention. But I’m on, like, Sherlock marathon number fifty. So I guess what I’m saying is... if you don’t have Netflix, I could probably perform a fairly accurate re-enactment for you.

3) Homedics massage pillow

Mr. P gives great backrubs, he really does. But I have knots in my shoulder that would fatigue even the most skilled and persistent masseuse. And my shoulders were especially lumpy after days spent lugging junk around and crawling around on my hands and knees. Fortunately, I have this wonderful invention, a shiatsu massage pillow:


I received that as a gift a few Christmases ago from my parents, and boy was that a good call because I use this thing all the time. The one pictured is the one I have, but it’s oddly gone up in price now that they have a newer model. In any case, they both do a heated shiatsu-like massage; you just position it where you want along your back, turn it on, and wince and yelp as it gets those lumps out! Okay, maybe the wincing and yelping is just me.

4) Melatonin

Sometimes I think I never learned how to sleep like a grown-up. I’m still stuck at four years old, reluctant to go to bed, making myself overtired, and then getting frustrated because my body is so tie-tie and yet my brain won’t shut up. Add my poor sleep habits to my anxious and obsessive tendencies exacerbated by our upcoming move, and you have an excellent setup for an insomniafest.

Thank goodness for melatonin:


After a few nights of insomnia, I finally took one of these melatonin tablets about an hour before bed. And instead of hours of tossing and turning and panicking and getting up “just to add one more thing to the list”, I just... went to sleep. Huh! So that’s how that’s supposed to be done!

In general I try to avoid “brain drugs” because... well, I’m a neuroscientist and despite the wealth of literature I just don’t like messing with the brain if I can help it. But this stuff is over-the-counter (you can find it at Target and pretty much everywhere else), and I no longer wait two hours to sleep only to spend the evening dreaming that I’m missing my class while outrunning a monster tornado-hail storm. Placebo effect? Actually works? Too tired to remember all the things I was supposed to be freaking out about? I can’t say for sure, but it allowed me some well-deserved rest during a hardworking week, and that’s what matters. Take that, anxiety! Bam, melatonin’d!

So there you have it, my roundup of the fun and useful things that kept me going through the great spring clean. I hope that if you are facing a spring clean yourself that some of these items can keep you going!

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