Making Works-For-Me Wednesday Work For You (Or, Sex Sells Even WFMW)

The Well-Rounded Woman and I talk blogging a lot. Often we talk about how to make the Works-For-We Wednesday carnival work for us. We’re totally jealous that Shannon created the carnival, because if even ten other people sit on her site like we often do on a fine Tuesday night, boy! is she racking up the pageviews.

Before we get to our tips, though, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank Shannon for bringing us together each week as we discuss which post we should link up, and whether Shannon will be tricky and early this week or tricky and late. (By early I mean 9:27 pm and by late I mean 9:35 pm MST; that Shannon is trick-y.)

Making Works-For-Me Wednesday Work For You

1. Write a short(!) post about a useful tip. You can try linking up a clever book review, but people read through the WFMW posts for actual tips that can make their lives better or easier or sweeter-smelling.

2. Link up at the very beginning or at the very end. Middle children will tell you that it’s easy to get lost in a crowd of clamoring voices.

3. Follow the Ding-Dang rules. This won’t actually help you get pageviews or comments, unless you subscribe to the idea of karma or the Golden Rule, but you’ll breathe easier knowing you didn’t sleep your way to fame and fortune. Honestly, nothing makes me wish I had a taser set on stun more than going to a reputable blog and seeing that they’ve stolen (yes, STOLEN) traffic from someone else’s blog without linking back to the carnival. (I’m not talking if you forget once or twice, or if you honestly didn’t realize there were rules, but . . . YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. That’s all I’m gonna say. For now.)

4. Choose your Mr. Linky caption wisely . . . Titles with words like “sex” in them do quite well. This can be a post about sex (Am I the Only One?) or a post about the importance of scheduling (The Unsexy Morning Routine). Sometimes it’s tricky, since the linky caption is supposed to be only four words long (see #3), but it’s usually doable.

I’m pretty sure that if someone followed all of these rules she would be blog-famous in approximately 47 weeks. But I gotta be honest. Number one is the hardest for me to do. I keep trying, though, because even if Works-for-me Wednesday doesn’t translate into instant bloggy stardom, I live in hope that my real life will be enriched and organized and enlightened by my sometimes-frantic searching for just one useful tip to share.


WFMW: Real Tips! Microwaves, Snopes, and Diet Coke Bombs!

I hesitated to post this tip, because I am probably the last person on earth to know about it. But I finally tried this method of cleaning my microwave, and IT WORKS! (Thanks Mom; it wasn’t that I didn’t believe you. It just sounded too easy).

If your microwave looks like, say, this:

[Oh, I give up. Dirty stuff just doesn’t look as dirty in pictures as it does in real life. I wonder if this is sort of like a dirty-anorexic-distortion, where instead of looking fatter that your really are, things look cleaner/dirtier than they really are.]

Anyway, to clean even gunky dried-on spaghetti sauce, exploded black bean soup, and splattered sweet potatoes, simply place a glass container full of water in the microwave and turn it on High for about 5 minutes. Then wipe off the soggy ickies, and, voila:

In other news, Danielle sent me a video about a bioluminescent Mountain Dew experiment. Boy! Was it exciting, and Mountain Dew by itself is practically glow-in-the-dark, so I assembled the necessary ingredients:

I had to try it for myself even after Dick looked it up on and found that it was a false urban legend. Unfortunately (and not surprisingly, I guess, though seriously disappointingly), Snopes was right; it doesn’t work. (I’m glad I’m not as cynical as Dick; I’m sure he misses a lot of fun anticipation that way.)

But never fear, I know a fun soda pop trick that does work! The Diet Coke and Mentos Bomb is fabulous, and would make a great Last-Hurrah-of-Summer family activity.

Diet Coke and Mentos on the 4th of July from jane on Vimeo

Look at that! Actual tips for Works-for-me Wednesday:

1) Clean your microwave with boiling water.

2) debunks too-good-to-be-true tricks.

3) Diet Coke and Mentos make for FUN TIMES.

You can thank me later.

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Does It Matter? Blogging Rules

I was fascinated by the discussion on Rocks in My Dryer last year after Shannon’s Does It Matter? post. She asked whether a political candidate’s (non)fidelity mattered to voters. She had a bunch of great questions, but the one that I’ve asked myself is: “Can I fully trust a leader who cheated on the most important vow he or she ever took?”

Now, I know that there are no vows in blogging. And the stakes are much lower than a presidential election. Why, some people blog for fun. But other people view their blogs as businesses, and many are quite good. I enjoy their posts on blogging, especially, because I vacillate between seeing my blog as a “letter to the world, That never wrote to me,” and something that could provide income in a million years.

So my question is, on blogging: Does following the rules matter?

If you discovered that a blogger you admire appeared to be engaging in some shady practices, would that change how you viewed their blog?

Would you ask them to clarify the situation, hoping there was a good explanation for the apparent shady-ness?

Have you ever asked a question and then wish you’d never asked?

Last week my link on RIMD’s Works-for-Me Wednesday (WFMW) was deleted (long story, my fault, not the point). I was a little upset because my server was down, but the bottom line was that I hadn’t followed the WFMW guidelines, which clearly state that a post-specific url is required.

But it got me curious about Shannon’s enforcement of WFMW guidelines, especially when a friend pointed out to me that a blogger we both enjoy had not been following them. Have you ever asked a question and then wish you’d never asked? Here’s some advice:

For those who wish to continue in happy ignorance: If you see what looks like shady practices, ignore it. It doesn’t matter.

For those who wish to continue to appear honorable: Don’t lie about something that I can check on the internet in approximately four seconds. Especially if it’s something small, something that doesn’t matter.

Because here’s the deal. I don’t care what you do. I mean, I do care, especially if you’re someone I’ve practically idolized up ’til now. But I care even more that you would not be honest about it.

In blogging: Does honesty matter?

I explained this whole situation to my family over the weekend (sorry!), and my younger brother said, Who cares, it’s a BLOG.

True. Who cares?

One part of me wants to write a big expose piece, because DANG IT. SHE LIED. The other part of me (the better part, the part that reminds me I am far from perfect, the part that listens to Dick, who says we should ‘reprove in private and praise in public’) knows that there’s no way I wouldn’t sound like a jealous, petty tattletale (I prefer whistle-blower).

So I’m trying to forget it. I’m trying not to care. But here’s my take on blogging (and life). Following the rules matters. Honesty matters. The end.

Duck, Duck, Blog: The Art, Business, and Technology of Doing The Blog

doris day teacher's petFor those of us not attending BlogHer, I thought I’d compile everything I know about blogging. This is sort of like the (unfair to teachers) maxim: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” The list will make up in candor what it lacks in exhaustiveness. Go on, ask me how much I make on my BlogHer Ads. (I have no idea. Still missing my password, but my headline circle editor is on the job).

You can tell a lot about a person and their blog based on which aspect of blogging: Art (Writing or Photography or Quilling), Business (making money or expanding an IRL enterprise); or Technology (coding or design or web development), inspires their posts. A great blog will usually be artistically rich, income-generating, and technologically sophisticated, though there are many exceptions, and a great blog for me may simply be one that minimizes my angst.

Whatever your goal(s) for your blog, it’s good to explore the other aspects, if only so that if and when your interests or goals change, your blog will be set up to shift/expand more smoothly. Continue reading

All you ever needed to know about manners, and how to teach them to your kids

Berenstain Bears Forget Their MannersEverything I know about manners I learned from The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners. Brother and Sister Bear are just about as impolite as it gets. And then there’s Papa Bear, who’s basically Homer Simpson in a bear suit. In fact, if I were Promise Keepers: Men of Integrity, I’d be suing Stan and Jan Berenstain for their belittling representation of the American father figure.

Mama Bear, on the other hand, is shown as the fount of all wisdom and motherly goodness, which I have no problem with, in theory. But her Politeness Plan goes against everything learned from behavior modification studies, being a system of punishments for bad manners with no reward for good manners. (Good manners are their own reward.)

So it’s no surprise that a sound Theory of Teaching Manners is based not on the parental units, but on the actions of Brother and Sister Bear, who scheme to subvert the Politeness Plan by being overly polite, hoping this will irritate Mama into scrapping it altogether. Instead, as Brother and Sister enjoy the happier, sunnier, all-around celestial harmony that is greater politeness, they gradually forget to be overly polite, and, of course, the over-politeness never bothered Mama in the first place.

Game Plan: Overly Polite

It’s really quite easy to teach manners. Simply model good language. For example:

“Please, Sally dearest, say May I have a glass of milk, Mommy dearest? or you won’t get anything to drink all day.”


“Please, Susan dearest, put your freakin’ boots in the closet right this second or I’m throwing them away.”


“Please, Spot dearest, sit your tookey down before I come whack it so hard.”


Take it to the Next Level: Thank You

After you’ve taught your kids to say “please, xxxx dearest,” you’re ready to move on to possibly the most important phrase in any language: Thank you. Learning and using “thank you” in a foreign country is the best thing you can do to promote cross-cultural understanding and world peace. That and “I’m sorry”/”Excuse me”/”I’m just a clumsy tourist; please don’t judge all Americans by my cluelessness.” In Japan, for example, we used “sumimasen” liberally, to great effect.

Imitation: the Easiest Form of Parental Abuse

The Overly Polite Politeness Plan is highly effective. Sally, Susan, and Spot now often say “Please, Mommy dearest.” However, we’re still working on the “Thank you, Mommy dearest.” Here’s how it comes out as of today:

Sally (7): “Thank you, Mommy dearest” (snark, smirk, eye roll).

Susan (3): “Gank you, Mommy dearest” (sweet smile, syrupy singsong).

Spot (1): “dat do” (get the video camera: SPOT CAN TALK!).


Teaching manners by the book is what works for me this week. Head over to Shannon’s for the most amazing list of every tip you ever needed, and many you never could have imagined.

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Recipe for a Happy Summer, and some encouragement for Hillary

Sally’s school year is dragging on endlessly, which is fine with me. We’ve been house-hunting for months, but now that the weather is fine, my requirements have changed from 1) good neighborhood, 2) open floorplan, and 3) four bedrooms to 1) fenced-in yard, 2) fenced-in yard, and 3) fenced-in yard. In fact, since even with the housing slump we’re still poor-ish, next week we’re going to start looking at empty lots and tents.

In the meantime, here’s my recipe for a Happy Summer:

Now that you’ve got the kids occupied, it’s time for mom to have some quality time. If you get tired of reading blogs (I know, like that could EVER happen), put your computer to some good use. On sites like PrimeTimeRewind and Hulu, along with the network stations sites (,, etc), you can catch up on all your favorite shows.

You might be thinking that TV is just so … so … shallow. But there are lessons to be learned and inspiration to be gotten. Tonight Hillary Clinton is (probably) (maybe) realizing that she is not going to win the Democratic nomination. Other women have faced similar setbacks, though, and I’d like to offer some encouragement to Hillary, inspired by Phyllis on The Office. In the season finale, Goodbye, Toby, Phyllis faces her toughest assignment: party planning. As she gets overwhelmed at the enormity of it all, she shares:

When I was a little girl, my mother told me I could be anything when I grew up: teacher’s aide, nurse’s assistant, some sort of volunteer. But now, I just don’t know.  

Despite these discouraging thoughts, Phyllis goes on to throw “the best party” ever. Complete with bouncy castles and fair food. I think Hillary probably needs a big hug, and to remember that she can still be anything she wants to be: teacher’s aide, nurse’s assistant, some sort of volunteer.


And that’s how I responding to “Mom, I’m bored” this summer.


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Man Laundry

works-for-me wednesday logoLike the Man Cold, Man Laundry is similar to Woman Laundry, yet inexplicable in execution. Why can’t a man do laundry like a woman?

It’s not a matter of intelligence, of course. Dick went to graduate school at an Ivy League Institution, but really that is nothing compared to the fact that last night he cleaned up copious amounts of Sally’s spaghetti vomit. He even threw the bedding in the washing machine.

I know, I know: I should be happy that he knows where the washer and dryer are, and stop with the quibbling about how it gets done. So, I will restrict myself to giving one simple tip for Man Laundry. A tip that I know Dick is eager to learn.

Eager because he actually asked me today why I buy liquid detergent when it has such a serious design flaw. And he might have a point. Men often approach household matters from a fresh, innovative perspective.

The wisest thing my brother-in-law ever said was in defence of hanging the toilet paper the wrong way. “It’s harder for the kids to unroll it that way.” I ran some experiments to test this theory, and, much as it pains me, I have to say he’s right: It is harder for a malevolent 18-month old to waste an entire roll of toilet paper if it is not flapping on the top.

Man Laundry Tip

To avoid this:

And this:

Rinse the dispenser in the water as it fills the washer. To be more specific: 1) dump the detergent in the washer, 2) fill the dispenser with the water pouring in, 3) dump the dispenser (in the washer), and 4) repeat as necessary.

Dick says that he does rinse the cap once, and I conceded that it often takes seven or eight rinses. Whenever I stand at the washer and rinse the cap, I remember Mr. Raine’s chemistry class, and how he taught us that scientific principle where each time you do something like rinse a cap, you never get all of the detergent out. Instead, each time you get a certain percentage, and so you have to do it over and over to get that same percentage of whatever’s left. You’d think that since I remember this from high school that I’d remember what it was actually called and be able to describe it coherently, but then you’d remember that I have three kids and am lazy.

Anyway, Dick thinks the fact that you have to rinse the cap eight times means that it’s engineered wrong. All I know is that our water is so hard that powdered detergent often doesn’t dissolve, and since I am a granola-girl dropout, I don’t see homemade detergent in my near future. I did buy this liquid stuff at Costco, though, so all the free food samples surely cancel out the flagrant misuse of monetary resources.

Next time we’ll cover:

1) Hot water is for whites, only.

2) Building relationships with pre-wash treatments.

3) Sorting by color is not really optional, especially if #1 has not been mastered.

4) Not drying shrinkable, favorite pieces of clothing (especially if your wife is getting fatter anyway).

5) Removing crayons from pockets BEFORE placing in dryer (bonus points for not mentioning that your wife has done that one before).

Any other ideas for Man Laundry Tips?

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