Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Before rumors start that I hopped on the back of a Harley Davidson roaring through my po-dunk farm town in a leather-clad moment of Bridges of Madison County desperation to follow my heart's desire of romance and excitement and passion, I figured I better post something.


*Collective groan*

No, the truth is much more boring than that. I didn't meet a scruffy, muscle-bound, charming stranger with haunting blue eyes. Instead I've racked up over 7 hours of volunteer time this week and I've still got 5 to go--namely, I agreed to help replant a garden at Happyland Elementary. I'd grossly underestimated how much time that project would take. You'd think that I, of all people, would know better, wouldn't you?

I've learned a few other things this week. This morning I discovered that applying hand lotion before practicing yoga is a Very Bad Idea. Particularly when moving into Downward Dog. With slippery hands on a yoga mat that position quickly becomes Face Plant.


I've also been researching various topics for a New! Top-Secret Book Project! Did you know that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) there is no such thing as a safe air freshener or spray? Not only did I discover ALL! CAPITALIZED! WARNINGS! telling pregnant women to avoid these products, there's consensus that they're quite dangerous. Whether you're using a Glade Plug-In, Ferbreeze or some store-brand can of spray in your bathroom, they're all made with the same chemicals used in paints, paint thinner, fuel and varnish--terrifying things like formaldehyde and phthalates. The chemicals in these products are linked to cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, hormone disruption and dizziness. Pretty darn scary if you ask me. Reader, I'm begging you to rid your house of these products STAT. For your health and for your family's. Here's a link to one of the articles if you'd like to read more.

I've never bought any of these products because a) they're unnecessary, and b) I've always been suspicious of their effectiveness. I've got asthma and I'm sensitive to smells and airborne particles, so I avoid fragrances, chemicals, sprays and cheap perfumes as a general rule. But it's astonishing that these products are even allowed to be manufactured and sold.

Now it's your turn to share some information with me. I finally finished washing all my windows and screens and I'm keeping the screens off the windows this winter until springtime. I figure I can mend the holes more easily over the winter months, they'll stay cleaner, it'll make it easier to wash the storm windows again come springtime if they're off, and without the screens we'll have less obstructed daylight coming in--especially with the long winter ahead. I've never done this before, so I'm asking seasoned window-washers what is the established screen protocol.

Spill it, reader. Screens on or off? And do you use air sprays and air fresheners?


  1. I'm with you on this. I also have allergies to air fresheners... they give me migraines... but people have told me it's "all in my head". LOL. Yes, yes it is! But that doesn't mean it's not true! It's good to see some documentation of it. I had a roommate who seemed addicted to those glade plug-ins. She would rather plug one in than look for the source of the odor and eliminate it. I would find the plug-in and throw it away. She'd get another. Needless to say, THAT didn't work out!

  2. I just leave the screens on all year long.

    Interesting article. As far as sprays we only use Lysol in the bathrooms when we really have to.

    I'm curious about the Scentsy. I know a couple of consultants and only have one. I'm also curious about soy candles. We just got a new soy candle store in town and my sister has a soy candle on her Christmas list.

  3. My Mom always took down the screens every winter. I think she said they stayed cleaner that way.

    greeneyedmom asked about Scentsy. I have a burner and their fragrances because my friend is a distributor. I find they are a lot less irritating than candles. I also have to say that Slatkin Candles from Bath and Body Works are much better than generic or Yankee Candle. They are the only ones I can burn that don't irritate my breathing.

  4. I'm with you on the air fresheners. Once I had read about the toxicity of them, I threw all of mine out. For air freshener, I use a simmering pot on the stove with apple skins or orange peels then I add a few spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.

    I've become really quite the anti-toxic freak. I don't use ANYTHING that has "fragrance" since that usually means parabens.

    Glad I'm not the only one concerned about this.

    Have you read 'Slow Death by Rubber Duck'? It's an interesting and entertaining nonfiction book about the highly toxic chemicals we come across in our everyday lives. I enjoyed it and unlike many of those kinds of books, it didn't freak me out. Instead, it wraps up with sane advice for reducing a family's exposure to the discussed chemicals.


  5. No to air fresheners! When I need some artificially fresh air I just pour a little pine sol into a kitchen sink of hot water. (I have a hard enough time breathing in all the Axe deodorant spray in which my 12 year old marinates himself.)

    I have no idea whatsoever how to clean screens. Never done it. Betty Homemaker I'm not! :)

  6. Downward Dog into Downward Faceplant DOg. Hee.

    Do you hire out for windows? Because I have some that need to be done.

    I don't use much in the way of air freshner, only in bathrooms sometimes when the smell is nauseating. Cinnamon boiling on the stove is a lovely smell, and easy to do if needed. Also the smell of fresh pine boughs (which is why I love Christmas trees and refuse to use artifical ones).

  7. Martha recommends you take the screens down, but I never have. Too lazy, I must admit. I thought about doing it in the house we live now but they are special screens and it's more complicated than simply removing them. So once again, they are staying for the winter.

    As far as air freshener is concerned, I have never used it and doubt I ever will. We're rather fond of the old 'light a match' method in our bathroom. I do, on occasion, use a scented candle. Not too often though, because it can be overbearing. I'd rather stew pears or something.

  8. I have a friend who had complications with her pregnancy and child's health due to painting. She also worked on an airplane and I think something in there caused problems, too.

    Good luck on your project. I hope you get a ride on the back of that bike soon! ;)

  9. we have a scentsy plug-in and it's not too strong. other than that, we have some "hospital" strength odor removing smell that we sometimes have to use. not often, but there are those times...

    never took the screens off. i'm afraid i wouldn't know how to put them back on. besides, where would i store them? but, if you're washing windows, i'll give you my address and you can drop on over.

  10. ...screens on all year. It's nice to be able to crack a window without critters getting in.

    N to the hail NO no no on "synthetic" air fresheners etc. with my one exception being an extreeeemely rare toot of lysol for the toilet when the cat leaves a real stinker. I go for old fashioned incense, essential oil on my body, or candles. Plus the natural nice smells of whatever's around. (laundry, flowers)

  11. Screens on -- and windows open, baby! High of 75 today!

    I occasionaly use Febreze orange because it actually makes a poopy bathroom smell okay. This means, of course, that my son will actually use it instead of standing outside crying and hopping up and down. Limited use of unnecessary luxury.

    (Do I have to read the article? Really? Don' wanna...)

    We also have a few soy candles that are probably not TOO toxic, right?

  12. No air fresheners or any smelly stuff.

    We leave our screens on all year.

  13. Growing up in NJ, we always took the screens off for the winter. But further south, we leave them on; there are always those days in November and March (and even February) when we can actually turn off the heat and open up those windows for some fresh air!

    I despise all those air fresheners. They give me an instant headache.

  14. We have at least some windows open year-round, so I would have no idea-but the idea makes sense.

    I do use Febreze occasionally because of the dogs, but never any other fresheners--I'll follow your link.

  15. I don't use sprays or air-fresheners and you've just reminded me that I need to wash my windows. I've never taken the screens off.

    Good luck with the TOP SECRET BOOK PROJECT!

  16. Screens on except for the patio... those are stowed in the garage.

    We might die without Febreeze in the restroom. I'm afraid to follow your link since I suspect it's going to tell me upsetting things about what will happen if I continue to use anti-stinker in the loo.

  17. I NEVER EVER use sprays or air fresheners. Great Tip: (feel free to share, it's from "Make it Fast, Cook it Slow" the crockpot bible from Stephanie O'Dea)

    Fill your slow cooker with water, and a handful of baking soda. plug in on Low, and leave the lid off. Let cook for many hours. I did this once when we had been making a traditional Portuguese pickled pork-and-garlic dish, and it got rid of the vinegar/garlic/pork smell AMAZINGLY. I did it again when there was just a stale sort of smell in January, and ahhh, it was great.

    Sometimes I burn nice candles. I love them. Safety hazard though.

    Good luck with book! How exciting!

  18. I am too lazy to remove screens. Plus, I have nowhere to put them.
    Air fresheners: once, at the supermarket, I spotted the "Method" brand air freshener called "Sweet Water." I HAD to know what "sweet water" smelled like, so I sprayed a little into the air and sniffed heartily into the little cloud of freshener. My nose burned for hours!

  19. Long ago and far away (well, in the same house, but before we got serious and replaced the windows) we had to replace screens with storms and vice versa. I still remember the first winter here. We kept putting off the Great Window Chore and finally got to it - in February. They were all uniquely sized due to the age of the home. Some were labeled. We labeled the rest.
    And then we called Wasco Windows and said "Help!"


Spill it, reader.