Decorating Truths from Erma Bombeck

I’ve been thinking about house cleaning lately, it’s really never ending.  You could rationalize constantly cleaning and always find more to do.  And a clean house really is the sister to a pretty house.

Here’s what Erma has to say about it:

Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick.

There’s something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she’s only measured water in it.

And just for fun

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life

Purely judging by the cover, this book looks like it was written just for me. My goal in keeping house isn’t perfection, it’s creating an environment that best serves our family. So usually, that means order.  And simplicity.

SimpleMom is hosting Project:Simplify at her place right now.  It’s not a quest to create a perfectly clean house.  It’s about creating an intentional, organized, uncluttered space.  Clearly I need it, I liked all her buttons so much that I used all three.  I’m even cluttery with my buttons.  It’s not too late to join in and tackle your hot spots in your home. Our hottest spot it the corner of our kitchen counter where we drop the mail, school papers, receipts, ear buds, a dog bone, my discarded jewelry, stray legos….you get the idea.

What’s your hot spot?

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  1. You may not know you are famous to me but you are. Thanks for helping me turn my ranch into a cottage!

  2. My hot spot is definitely my kitchen island. It starts off in one corner…and then quickly TAKES OVER the whole thing! The worst part is my island is 12 feet by 8 feet…HUGE! That’s really sad {and embarrasing} but I’m glad that I’ve shared now :)

  3. My dining room table is THE worst! We can’t even eat on it. That’s sad.

  4. Colleen P. says:

    The dining table, no matter what I do it’s still covered with stuff! All the time!

    Today’s post struck me as especially funny because I just pulled a muscle in my back vacuuming. Not the floors in the house, oh no, I was vacuuming out my husbands really tall truck! How, you may ask, can one possibly put ones back out vaccuming a surface at waist level with a hose attachment? Well you have to go back a few weeks and see that I caught a cold, which turned into an earache, which was in fact an ear infection, which filled my left ear with fluid, which gave me constant vertigo FOR A SOLID MONTH! So, I was trying not to turn my head in order not to get dizzy while vacuuming the truck, twisted myself into a pretzel and pulled a muscle.

    Yeah, my doctor laughed at me too. But he then took pity on his poor silly patient that never comes in when she needs to and gave me medications for the ear infection AND for the pain.

    Erma was right though-housework is dangerous and should not be undertaken lightly.

  5. love this post! Erma Bombeck’s quotes are hysterical & right on the money! Love the buttons from simplemom, too – that’s the designer in me going on.

    My hot spot is (if not the whole house) the dining room, turned dumping ground for everything.

  6. I used to have the same hot spot. But I made some changes. I have a hoosier cabinet in our kitchen eating nook – just as you come in from the garage. I bought some baskets and other organizers and now all the stuff that was out on the kitchen counter is in that cabinet. Plus more! One upper side hold all dog treats, etc. Drawer on that side has dog meds, dog paperwork (vet receipts, vaccine info, etc.). Lower large cabinet on that side is extra dog bowls, dog dry food, etc. Other side of cabinet – upper cabinet has baskets, etc. for mail, bills – paperwork. Lower cabinet houses my sewing machine. Has really worked out well for us.

    The hot spot now is the table in the breakfast nook! LOL not near as bad though.

    Another hot spot that I cured was bathroom vanity. I now keep a basket with my most frequently used items (shampoo, conditioner, night creme, chapstick, etc.) stuff that I use day in and day out. Evidently I have a problem with leaving this stuff on the vanity. Hate putting stuff that is used so much in the cabinet then out of the cabinet. So now it goes in the pretty basket which goes in bathroom closet. And if I get lazy and leave the basket sitting on the vanity – at least it’s a pretty color!


  7. At the risk of whining – well there’s no way around it, I’m whining – our whole house at the moment is a hot spot. We sold several pieces of borderline functional furniture and the few things they were housing are now stacked atop the pieces we’re keeping, while we hunt for suitable replacements for the old pieces (I know what I want, and they’re always plentiful on CL except for now, apparently, when I need them). Depressing. I spent February getting rid of every last scrap of cardboard in our house, because two moves in two years had me at the end of my tolerance for boxes. Now I need a few boxes. Dangit. Insert picture of sad clown here [ ].

  8. I LOVE this!! I’ve been feeling like the worst wife ever trying to keep {get} my house clean. I’ll be visiting Project:Simplify for sure!

  9. My hot spot is definately the island in my kitchen.
    It catches all the bills, school papers, buttons, jewelry, nails, screws, receipts, cameras and anything that is on the table when it’s time to eat! I have tried and failed to keep it clean and uncluttered!
    I have baskets in the pantry and shelves, but its just easier to throw it on the island!
    Help please!!!

  10. I have an awkward closet that becomes a catchall for EVERYTHING–definitely our hotspot. I love the ‘misspent’ quote.

  11. The corner of the kitchen counter and the top of the dryer by the back door. It’s perfect for stowing things. Looks horrible, though. I was trying to follow her with the paper clutter, but got lost under the mountain of it and stopped. Sigh.

  12. Honestly, Nester, the real question is…”what’s NOT a hot spot?” ;) They’re all hot right now!

    Love Simple Mom’s buttons. Leslie over at “Goodbye House Hello Home” is also hosting something similar each Monday called a “Purge Party.” It might be neat for me to work on this and post to both.

    LOVE Erma Bombeck. That chick had it all right!

  13. I love Erma Bombeck; thank you for featuring her today. Other women want to be glamorous and beautiful movie stars; I would give my 52 year old teeth to follow in Erma’s footsteps with just a smidgen of her wit and charm. She, to me, was a real woman and my top pick for accompanying me to be shipwrecked on a deserted island any day. In actual fact, I’d have paid for that vacation; what fun she was!

  14. I’m actually old enough to remember when Erma wrote her newspaper column – boo hoo!

  15. My desk. Which is really sad, because I work from home and am finishing my degree work. So, every time I am ready to study, I have to spend 5-10 minutes handing out everybody’s belongings, papers, etc to put away.

    So, today I am getting magazine holders for the wall NEAR my desk – and will label them for everyone to put stuff in!

    And I will be whipping people with wet noodles – or holding things for ransom – in order to make it work!

  16. I’ve never heard of Erma, but I’ve decided she’s a very smart woman.

  17. favorite erma housekeeping tip..”.save (or buy) get well cards…when you know unexpectd comapny is coming…quickly put the cards out on the mantel or shelf…people will think ‘oh poor thing she has been to sick to clean’ “…i’m thinking that erma was on to something… they might even go buy you some perk me up food…or flowers….or offer to fill the dishwasher for you…or pick up the children from school…or….

  18. Our hotspot is a tie between the chest at the foot of our bed, tops of our dressers, our loveseat, the media console under the television or the kitchen counter tops – basically all the relatively large/flat spaces in our tiny studio apartment! I have been working really hard at keeping them clutter free with just a few minutes here and there daily to reduce the build up (per Fly Lady’s instructions). Some days are waaaay more successful than others but now I’m onto a 2nd consecutive week of clutter-free hot spots and feeling good! Definitely going to check out Simple Mom for some encouragement/tips.

  19. My kitchen island, I’ve actually thought of ripping it out.LOL There are just the two of us but at times it looks like three more people live here, of course we each blame each other for it. :)


  20. End of kitchen counter – worst hot spot in the house! Seems as if I am constantly sorting, putting away, and calling children to claim their belongings. The holding things for ransom idea mentioned by Jenn might be just the ticket. Love it!

    • Just so you know, I never hold things for money ransom – but rather for a chore or errand that needs to be done – anything from cleaning out the fridge (for the older kids) to picking up the dog mess in the dog run. I have found that work ransom is the best!

      And I hold my husband’s things for errand ransoms! Nothing like not having to go to the bank, because hubby is doing it on the way home!

  21. Our dining room table is always filled with on-going projects. Which is usually fine because, sigh, we eat in front of the tv. But, the clutter just looks really bad. I have a plan to put a table up in another room to make a “on-going projects” space. Maybe that will allow the dining room table serve it’s original purpose.

    And, the table by the non-foyer back door.
    Egads. Must find a solution.
    Shelves maybe – at there really isn’t much floor space.

  22. I love Erma’s wisdom : )
    My office is always a mess. It seems that what ever doesn’t have a “place” finds it’s way to the office or “junk Room” as hubby has resorted to calling it. I really need to get a handle on it : )

  23. Love Erma! I remember when my kids were little…at some point I realized I was constantly walking around in circles. I just stopped…mostly I tidy up, but the whole deep cleaning thing…can’t do it any more. Once or twice a month I will go crazy on the floors, but that’s it.
    Thanks for the fun post.

  24. The kitchen counter between the fridge and the wall is the worst hot spot here; luckily you can only see it if you’re directly in the kitchen. But I’ve always had a problem with flat surfaces…they all tend to collect junk.

  25. I run a daycare in my home, and the first room visitors walk into is the main daycare area…. it’s a hot spot and one I’d really like to make more visitor friendly but still fun for the kids. That’s my goal this summer while I have the 2 1/2 months off

    Oh, and Erma Bombeck rocks!

  26. Love Erma Bombeck and thanks for posting that quote! Here’s another one of hers…

    My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint. ~Erma Bombeck

  27. Carol Ann says:

    Oh, how I miss the wit and wisdom of Erma Bombeck. Thanks for taking me back to her outlook on life!

  28. “Just get rid of it. You know you want to.” I live by this phrase!!!! I watch Hoarders religiously just because I get so excited watching them throw things away!!!! It’s a sickness…. ;)

  29. My mom always referred to Erma Bombeck as her patron saint.

    And after seeing Organized Simplicity on your sister’s blog, I bought it. It arrived today and is perched atop the clutter on my counter. I should take a picture of the irony.

  30. a great post.
    reminds me that I would rather have great relationships with my family than with the blank walls of my home.

  31. Our hot spot is the wet bar right inside our front door. I’d like to say it’s filled with beautiful glasses and decanters but it’s the drop spot for the mail and anything else I am too lazy to put away. One day I hope it will be a lovely sight but not now. My desk runs a close second!

  32. Love this! I want to join!

  33. “The Green Thing” is my hot spot. It is a green secretary desk that I got at Pier 1 a few years ago to hide the clutter…it’s jam packed and now the clutter is on top. Goodness!

  34. My hot spot is basically the same as yours: we call it the “high counter” because it is bar height. (We don’t eat there or have bar stools because that’s just more clutter. We already have two perfectly good places to eat). So, not eating there makes it the perfect drop-off place, right?

    Time to go toss.

  35. I think my main hot spot (I have more than one; I’m even cluttered with my clutter) sounds like a first cousin to your hot spot. But then, with three boys and dogs and Legos and whatnot, I guess it stands to reason that we might have some of the same clutter.

    Five weeks? From the look of things around here, I’d five months–or maybe five years–to get rid of the stuff. Of course, in five years all my boys will be off to college or beyond. So maybe I should be thankful that I’ve got them around to be messy! And who am I kidding? A lot of this junk is mine, anyway! :)

  36. This post speaks to me on so many levels! Thank you for putting up the link to that book. It’s officially at the top of my To Read list. My goal for this year is to declutter so I’m not constantly feeling like I have to clean clean CLEAN! And I love your site because you’re helping me to do that. I’ve also learned to change the way I feel about the state of my home. It’s more important for my house to be comfy and functional rather than some unattainable idea of perfection (which doesn’t sound very comfy!) Your post has inspired me to tackle our kitchen table (which is our hotspot for everything from kids’ toys to spare oil filters) TODAY! Wish me luck!

  37. My kitchen table is my worst. Same as one of the other folks, it starts in the corner and then spreads. I wonder if my kids will resent no eating at the kitchen table when they are grown. lol.

  38. Robyn :) says:

    The rocking recliner in our livingroom(where hubby dumps his stuff) and the desk chair(where I dump my stuff)

  39. LOL @ the cluttered buttons remark. You’re a hoot!

    This is so timely for me…just this week I had a visit from my childless, hyper-active, clean-house obsessive aunt (not that there’s anything wrong with being childless, but can someone who has never had children understand the challenge of keeping a clean house with three children (6, 5, and 2), the older two which I homeschool. Honestly, I barely get past the day-to-day chores (washing dishes, sweeping, making beds, etc.) much less deep-cleaning.
    But anyway, while she was here I saw my house through her critical eyes and found myself feeling self-conscious and even a little ashamed of my home. And now I’m ashamed of feeling ashamed. My home is not perfect, but it is my home, a sanctuary for our little family. Yes, the baseboards need dusting and the pantry needs organizing and the refrigerator needs wiping out. But I have three precious little souls whom God has given me the responsibility of training and nurturing and when they are grown (way too soon) I will have plenty of time to scour the sink. I recently read, “The days are long but the years are short.” I’ll let their handprints stay on the glass another day :).

    Now…let me go visit this decluttering blog. I need all the motivation I can get!

  40. Ahhh, I am such an Erma Bombeck fan! I remember she said that the laundry room is the most dangerous room in the house because things disappear there (socks, etc.). She said it’s like having our our Bermuda Triangle!

    Warmly, Michelle

  41. I think I was about 11 or 12 when I read The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why am I in the Pits (or something like that). This post came at such a good moment. Since I began seriously pursuing painting, my never very diligent housekeeping has um, slipped. I think I’ll see if I can check some Erma Bombeck books out of the library. My house may not end up cleaner, but maybe I’ll feel better about it!

  42. I want that book! The cover looks amazing! Hmmm my hot spot right now would have to be the countertop as I wait for my pantry to get finished. It is driving me insane!

  43. My car is my hot spot. It’s a wasteland for paper junk, Sunday School take-aways, crumbs, sucker sticks, toys, sticks, broken cell phones, rocks, sand, you name it!

  44. My worst hot spot is my sewing studio cutting table. I can’t just finish a project and clean up after myself. I have to /almost/ finish a project and leave it in the corner of the table while I cut out something new. Pretty soon the whole thing is toppling over onto my work and I am sad.

    I also have a “mommy pile” which collects on my kitchen counter. I am getting better at keeping it cleanish, but it is just full of junk that I need to find a home for. Like the kids’ school pictures from OCTOBER that are still in the pile because I’m “going to give them to people and I don’t want to just stow them in a closet.” Sure. Right. I’m gonna do that.

  45. My favorite quote:
    “Boring women have immaculate houses”.
    I live by it ;-)

  46. Love Erma Bombeck quotes – she was so right on. Wasn’t it Ms. Bombeck that said,
    Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing?”

  47. I always LOVED Erma! I miss her and her funny quips and stories. Thanks, Nester, for a warm fuzzy today, in her honor.

  48. OH! Erma, Nester and COFFEE!!! It’s gonna be a good cay

  49. You mean, my hot spotS?! ;)

  50. My SPOT? My entire house! :-D I am going to check out Project: Simplify. My problem is that I would much rather go out and live life then stay home and de-clutter (duh – who wouldn’t, right?). But I did clean out my foyer closet yesterday morning instead of playing on Facebook and it is wonderful! And yes her buttons are adorable. Thanks for the great post!

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