In the Hot Seat

When we moved, we had a “pivot”.

Our old house closed escrow three weeks before our new house did, and we were officially homeless.

Into the gap stepped my beloved mother-in-law. Her empty rambling house would fit us all, and would you believe it, she had booked a three week trip to New Zealand months ago for that exact time frame. Now we were house-sitters.

I had learned by this point to not even be surprised.

I had been high-fiving God on an hourly basis since the whole moving process began.

This is how He rolled.

The first week in my mother-in-law’s home was lovely. Everything that could possibly be done, was done. There was nothing left to do but get the kids to school, sift through paperwork, wait for the phone to ring.

I wandered through her sunshiny house, reminding myself that the calm before the next storm of activity was a chance to be on vacation. After putting our property into tip top condition, it was a welcome chance to rest up. (If you think we had “movers” or “housecleaners” or “gardeners” or “leprechauns” doing anything for us, you haven’t read enough of my blogs. You’re cute. No.)

When the second week of waiting began, I found myself looking sideways at the living room. We were, of course, not making messes around the house, and being tidy in general.

But maybe mom wouldn’t object if I just dusted out one row of bookcases? If I put everything back exactly into the position it’s in? She won’t notice, will she? Just to pass the time a little.

I was halfway through the den when I came to my senses.

I forced myself to put down the cleaning supplies and step outside for some fresh air.

Just look at her pretty gardens, I mused. Her hummingbird feeders glowed ruby red and roses competed with multiple arrangements of succulents.

Five minutes later, I was washing windows.

It just felt like it should all sparkle at the same time, like a fireworks show.

In the third week of our pivot, things began to shift back into momentum, and I could not help moving into the faster currents with them.

I started scrubbing shower tiles and deep cleaning refrigerators and if Hubby had not physically restrained me, I likely would have become a chimney sweep.

Mom was coming home the next day and we were leaving simultaneously, and I surveyed the house that night with more than a little dread. There was no way she was not going to notice that her house had been turbo-cleaned by a crazy person.

I really couldn’t remember doing most of it. It just sort of happened.

I looked, aghast, at the shiny stovetop and the organized tea canister and wondered if maybe I should scatter some laundry around to distract her.


I am so sorry.

I need a hobby.

Here’s how to clean your stove. In case you need a hobby, too.

If you already crochet or ice sculpt or watercolor, you are exempt from cleaning ovens and reading the rest of this blog. You’re welcome.

For the two of you left, do this before you go to bed at night:

  • remove knobs, top racks, overhead vent mesh and run in the dishwasher with the dinner dishes
  • remove the inside racks and lay them out on an old towel in your bathtub
  • fill the tub with hot water and a half cup of dishwasher detergent until they are submerged
  • give it a swish, then soak overnight
  • remove and wipe dry in the morning before Hubby needs a shower
  • no? use a tub in the backyard or do the process inside sealed, doubled plastic trash bags
  • inside the oven, scrape out the big chunks of burnt gross with a rubber spatula
  • make a paste of baking soda and water and smear it everywhere except the heating element
  • rub it in a little if you like to play in mud, be careful to not cut your fingers on the back where the element ties in….ask me how I know this
  • remind me to install a new light bulb in there, it’s been out for months
  • smear it on the inside open oven door, too, but not the sealing gaskets

In the morning, after everyone is out of your way, take a wet cloth and wipe out all the gunk which has turned from white to black literally overnight. You can clean in your sleep! You are that good!

Just keep rinsing it all down the kitchen sink, because now it’s on it’s way to clean out the pipes too, you Wonderwoman, you.

Once you hit bedrock, there will be some smaller spots still stuck to the bottom. Stop making pizzas in there, people.

Put a little fresh baking soda paste on it, and spritz with some vinegar. Give it a rub till it comes clean. You didn’t run out of elbow grease, did you? Stop whining.

If it makes you feel better, empty the clean dishwasher and put the shiny bits back on.

There. See? Better.

Once you’ve done your worst, take a look at that window. The one you still can’t see through, even though it doesn’t matter because the little light in there burned out and you are too lazy to replace it. Ahem.

We can’t have that after all our hard work, can we? No ma’m, we cannot.

I use a razor blade to scrape out what’s still stuck to the glass window and also to remove the black rings around the burners up top. I’ve used it on glass top, stainless steel top, and traditional enamel top, muttering to the slime, “You’re not the boss of me!”

So far it’s worked out. But try a small spot in the back before you go nuts, just to be sure. Anything plastic will be scratched forever and I don’t want to hear about it in my comments section.

High Five everybody!


Comment (5)

  • Ria| January 22, 2016

    I turn on the self cleaning button

  • Bonnie Sommerville| January 22, 2016

    If I go on vacation, will you come and stay at my house? We have plenty of room!

  • Anonymous| January 22, 2016

    Great blog, I can relate, my hubby thinks I’m obsessive. My last experience like that was cleaning my son and daughter-in-laws house, working every day but Sunday it took me nearly a month. They had gone to New Zealand for a year and loaned the house to three pro lacrosse players and their dogs in exchange for taking care of their Saint Bernard. They lacrosse players were out of the house when I began and it was a true adventure and a great way to get in shape and loose weight.

  • Barbara Abel| January 22, 2016


  • Stephanie| January 22, 2016

    What? I thought cleaning was a hobby! I have felt guilty after cleaning a friend’s house while she was away. But we were taking care of the dog so it was just an extra favor. I think I inherited this from my mom. I love reading your blog!

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