Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Adventures in Housekeeping

In Which I Discover How to Treat a Rust Stain

...Sadly, AFTER I tried to treat it with bleach. Bleach had just whitened my sink and I was about to use it on my bathtub. Why wouldn't I splash a little on a rust-stained counter?

Because the oxidizing action in bleach SETS rust stains, which are themselves a reaction of metal and oxygen. I can't believe I have a degree in chemical engineering and still didn't think that one through. Now instead of a small rust pan-ring on my counter, I have a large orange diagram of an ameoba.

In Which I Set My Kitchen On Fire

I've flirted with this for some time, as I often turn my oil on very high even for non-high-heat things like sauteing, but finally it happened: the oil in the pan caught on fire. Nice big orange fire, too--nice red flames. I looked at my pan, and said, out loud, "My kitchen's on fire," very calmly if I do say so myself. LT, who happened to be at my house at the time, rushed in. I said, "Oil fire," he looked around for anything solid (NEVER put out an oil fire with water!) I handed him a gigantic bag of baking soda, which was not open. "Knife," I said, handing him a knife. He opened it with a few cuts and dumped the baking soda on the fire. Crisis averted. Later he said, "At least I know you don't panic in a fire," and I appreciated this, although I felt pretty panicky at the time--I had to have him come in and put it out!

In Which I Make Soda Bread

I am not Irish at all, but between my name, my reddish hair, and my strong angular features, I swear something weird happens when I walk into an Irish bar. Suddenly my freckles show up and my hair glows real, actual, red; fiddles start playing in the background. I've had people ask me how long I've been in the States. I should learn an Irish accent just to give them a thrill. (Often I pretend to be Irish, actually, even in real life, because no one believes me when I claim I'm a mix of various Scandinavian countries with a little Native thrown in.)

Anyway, even if I'm often mistaken for Irish even though I'm not--that doesn't mean I can't make soda bread, long thought to be an Irish invention when all they had was potatoes and no yeast. It can be made with any kind of flour, gets its rising action from a combination of vinegar and baking soda, and doesn't require special dough rising cycles--you just throw the dough together and stick in a pre-heated oven. Since Titan ate my second loaf of bread this week, I went ahead and tried soda bread instead, since I have several more days to go before I can visit the grocery store--and even when I do, I can only spend negative thirteen dollars. Yes. I am over The Grocery Budget. It turned out fine, although a little heavy. Next time I might glaze the outside, which will give it a crisper crust, and actually mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, which will allow more overlap of the baking soda and vinegar. The taste is quite nice, though--a nice sweet flour flavor. (No yeast taste. Odd.)

In Which I Learn to Apply Contact Paper

I always thought contact paper was for frumps with too many cats. But then I saw some very nice applications in some of my favorite design magazines, and I looked at my plain brown shelf in my kitchen, and I thought, "Hmmm!" So I ordered some nice black and white checked contact paper, looked rather like the pattern used on racing flags, and also threw some tan and green printed diamond paper in for good measure. (It looked vaguely harlequin-like on the website.) The rolls came in about two weeks ago; I cheered at the black-and-white, frowned at the tan-and-green, and let the rolls site under my entry table for weeks. Finally, yesterday, I had a chance to clear off the ugly wooden shelf and apply the black and white.

It's surprisingly hard to apply a very, very long sheet of contact paper with no wrinkles or bumps, but I managed it--I peeled one end off first, stuck it down evenly, and then peeled the paper from under the patterned side in stages, pressing as I went. No, no pics--sorry. But boy, does it look good!

In Which I Learn How to Clean My Gas Stove

My particular gas stove top is a bear to clean because the pilot lights are always on, meaning that any sort of cleaning spray I use immediately fumes up--not to mention even the littlest stain on the stove is continually baked onto it by the heat. Finally I hit upon the bright idea of filling a plain spray bottle with water and just spraying the stove down constantly--this got off a majority of stains, especially with a little elbow grease. For tough stains, I sprayed enough water to make a pool on the stove and sprinkled in a little cleaning powder. And then I applied lots and lots of elbow grease. And hey, presto--clean stove!

Even the LT noticed.

And finally, a product plug: the Pet Hair Removal Sponge. (Brand shown is not quite the same brand as the one I have, but the sponge looks identical.) I got this almost a month ago after the pet store guy had rave reviews for it, but I wasn't ready to try it until yesterday. (Who knows why?) I can tell you: IT WORKS. It is absolutely amazing. The pet hair clings to the sponge and balls (or threads) up, eventually rolling off for easy removal. I cleaned the futon and Titan's bed with no electricity, and no "blowback" from the vacuum! Amazing!

Next trick I plan to try: putting aluminum foil on the sofa to prevent Titan jumping up on it. Will it work? I'll share it here.


alex said...

The rust bit is pretty bad. Maybe you should scold our professors for not teaching you that. If you had posted this earlier in the week, I could have done it for you. A few of them were in town for a conference.

Aarwenn said...

Alex, if you mentioned my name to them and scolded them for not teaching me better, they would express their surprise that the dean even decided to graduate me, as I was never in class in the first place. Maybe we should leave well enough alone.

(Which ones?)

Catriona said...

Definately get a fire extinguisher! Inexpensive and FUN to use if your pan fire ever spreads to your curtains and whatnot. Sorry for the naggy-ness, I just took Fire Warden training for work and am on a bit of a safety bend.