Hot Dog! Tips for the Dog Days of Summer   Leave a comment

Happy Fourth of July!


If your dog isn’t usually a digger but ruins the yard in the summer, the problem is most likely the heat.  Dogs dig into the soft, moist earth as a way to stay cool.  These hot, hot days are just as brutal for dogs as they are for us.   On the other hand, if you have a dachshund, terrier, or similar breed that was bred to hunt vermin underground, they’re just exercising their natural instincts.

Make sure your pet has shelter and plenty of water.  If you have a long-haired breed, a black dog, a brachycephalic (squished face) breed, or one that was bred for much cooler climates such as the Husky, indoors is  the best place for them.

Brachycephalic (squished face) breeds such as pugs and English bulldogs cannot cool themselves effectively due to the shortness of the muzzle.  Remember, dogs don’t sweat.  (They do have some sweat glands on the bottom of their feet, but not enough for sweat to constitute much of their cooling system.)  Heat strokes are common in these dogs.  Be sure to keep them inside or only let them out for very short periods when the temperature rises.

Thinking he needs a shave?  While it’s tempting to shave down a hairy pooch in the summer, it’s not always a good idea.  Hair and fur coats actually help insulate from the heat as well as hold heat in.  They also protect vulnerable skin from the sun and help keep it from drying out.  Unfortunately, lots of fur also makes parasites like ticks harder to find.  Some breeds “blow coat”, or shed badly during the spring and summer to release the undercoat they put on for insulation in the winter.  If frequent grooming isn’t possible for you and you must shave Fido down, remember, a shaved dog is an indoor dog.

Nothing holds pet dander and dust mites like upholstery.  If your pooch has a favorite chair or couch, try throwing a sheet or specially made pet blanket over it so that you can launder it regularly.

Sweeping borax into cracks and crevices on the floor or letting it sit on your carpet and dog bedding before vacuuming will keep flea eggs at bay.  Check your entire dog daily (or more, in some areas) for ticks, especially under droopy ears and around the collar.  Natural repellents containing essential oils like clove and citronella (not Deet!) are helpful preventatives.  In some areas, or when infestations are already present, these steps may not be enough.  Talk to your vet about stronger forms of pest control.  Don’t forget to mention that you are concerned about pesticides in the environment and ask for the most effective, but least toxic product.  Please don’t spray pesticides on your yard.  Not only are yard sprays ineffective at keeping pests off your dog, but they also kill beneficial insects and ultimately end up in our water supply.

Finally, the Fourth of July is great fun for you, but rarely for your dog.  More dogs go missing on this night than any other night of the year.   The repeated thunder from fireworks can be terrifying, and a panicked dog can and will do things you wouldn’t expect.  Keep your dogs indoors to keep them safe.  Even outdoor dogs can be brought into the garage.  A kennel is not only more comforting for your dog, but it can give you peace of mind that your house and your dog are safe.  Lastly, be sure all of your pets are wearing current ID’s, just in case.

Happy Fourth!


Posted June 29, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized

Pretty, Dog Proof Kitty Litter Boxes   Leave a comment

Ten years ago we had a pug dog named Bosco.  He was a great family pet, save the shedding and his affinity for “kitty crunchies.”  Not the kind in the bowl, the OTHER kind of kitty crunchies.  As if the cats tracking kitty litter out of their box wasn’t enough, Bosco would sort of explode out of the kitty litter box making an even bigger mess.  Also, I no longer wanted to kiss him, and the bits of kitty litter in his face wrinkles were sort of repulsive.  My solution?  I bought a big rubbermaid tub, about 18 gallons and 24″ tall x 18″ wide.  I put about 5

Actual box, we just cut a hole in the lid.

inches of kitty litter in the bottom then put the lid on.  From the lid, I cut a hole about the size of a plastic flap kitty door (i.e., a little bigger than a cat’s head and shoulders.)  Voila!  A pug-proof cat box!  Not only could he not get in, but the cats didn’t kick as much out.  I patted myself on the back and went on.

Fast forward ten years: I’m looking at kitty perching shelves on, and I come across their April giveaway, a ModKat.  Yes, it’s much sexier than my rubbermaid tub.  It’s cube-ier, shinier, and the hole isn’t all jagged, but the design’s the same.  They did make one improvement, the lid has ventilation holes, presumably so that litter will fall off the cats’ feet and back into the box when they exit.  If a pretty kitty litter box is worth a hundred bucks to you, then just buy this one.  If you’re more thrifty, the Rubbermaid tub works just fine.  We’re actually still using ours, but it’s in the garage now.  The cats can access it through a kitty door.

ModKat comes in many colors.

The ModKat still isn’t your style?  Check out these retro kitty litter box hiders from Paul McCobb.

retro kitty litter hider

Paul Mccobb's Retro Kitty Litter Hider

This one will set you back almost $500, but that’s still a lot cheaper than remodeling your own bathroom!  (Still, much more expensive than rubbermaid tubs.)  It has simple clean lines with a grasscloth front and hinged side door for easy access.   It can be custmized with a variety of colors and finishes.  Get your own or explore more mid-century modern kitty box hiders at

Apparantly, moderncat readers are quite creative.  Check out the DIY plans for this kitty litter hider.

Also Pug Proof

The entrance hole is unseen on the left side of the cabinet, and kitties must walk across a carpeted shelf to get to the litter on the right side of the cabinet.  That means that the litter clinging to kitty feet will be trapped in the shelf carpet before exiting.  Love it!

The Refined Feline also carries litter box hiders as well as beautiful kitty towers and perches.  This one is only $199, but it may not be pug-proof.

Did I mention the Rubbermaid tub was in my utility room?  If it had been more exposed, it might have needed to look nicer.  Then again, if I had had a Modkat I probably wouldn’t have wanted to hide it in the utility room!

Posted June 27, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Top Ten List- What NOT to Buy   Leave a comment


You don't need this!

Are you mindlessly buying junk you don’t need because of clever marketing?  A cheat sheet of some of the worst offenders:

1.  Swiffer products- Dusting hasn’t improved at all, but the marketing geniuses behind Swiffer are able to sell an expensive, disposable, unneeded product over and over and over and over again.  You can dust with almost anything that’s soft.

2.  Artifical Fragrances like Glade-  They’re toxic and they give a lot of people headaches.  If your house smells bad, it’s probably just dirty.  Try getting the carpets cleaned, cooking with less grease, and smoking outside.  Put a box of baking soda near problem spots like the litter box.  And keep a natural essential oil spray or a box of matches in the bathroom.  Those waxy cone things and plug-ins that you think make the bathroom smell nice actually make it smell like a public toilet.

3.  Pull-ups- See Stop the Pull-ups Madness!

4. Clorox Green Works– This bleach company just wants your money and they don’t give a flip about the environment.  If you want to go green, use a product line that started that way like Seventh Generation.  They actually care about your health and the health of the planet.  If you just want cheap, try baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice.  These three will clean almost anything for pennies.

5. Veggie washes- They’re about as effective as water.  Pesticides soak into the fruit or vegetable and can’t be completely washed off, so buy organic when possible.

6. More cleaning products- Your house isn’t dusty because you haven’t purchased the right cleaner.  Your house is dusty because you haven’t dusted it.  The only thing you could purchase that would help with that is a maid service, and you can’t get that at the store.

7.  A Juicer- You get the sugars without the fiber.  Buy a blender instead.

Single Serving Bananas


8.  Bottled water- Yes, it’s better for you than sodas, but nowhere near as good for the planet as a reusable water bottle.  We like Kleen Kanteens for their big mouth and dishwasher-safeness.

9.  Organic junk food- It’s okay once in a while, as long as you know it’s still junk food.  Organic potato chips and poptarts may be better than conventional, but still far from healthy.

10.  Single serving bananas–  This banana wrapped in plastic is such an environmental atrocity we don’t expect it to be around long.  But, avoid overly packaged products of any kind when you can.

Plus, a bonus!

11.  Air purifiers-  Buy a houseplant instead.

Posted June 21, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized

Stop the Pull Ups Madness!   5 comments

Pull ups

Pure Evil

Diaper manufacturers have done a great job of convincing consumers to keep their children in diapers longer, sometimes much longer.  Diaper manufacturers have no interest in potty training your child, only selling more diapers.  Not only is this a headache for you, but it adds tons of waste to our already overburdened landfills.  See What’s Filling your landfill?

A Pull-up (or similar) is simply a diaper with elastic.  When using Pull-ups you aren’t teaching the child to use the potty, you must teach a child to *stop* using a diaper, something a child has done since birth.  Guess what?  That’s crazy hard.  I assume parents buy Pull-ups with the intention of avoiding the occasional mess, but ultimately add what may be years to the potty training process.

The debate rages on regarding disposable vs. cloth diapering.  Disposables are clogging our landfills but cloth diapers do consume quite a bit more water and energy than disposables.  While there is such a thing as compostable diapers, they aren’t readily accessible and will still take a toll on the environment.  Let us not forget the greenest option: potty training.

training pants

Not very evil.

I’m not suggesting the “elimination communication” technique, where you learn to read your baby’s subtle cues and then rush to put the child on the potty before he’s even able to walk there himself.  I’m simply urging you to avoid purchasing Pull-ups which actually extend the age at which your child is “trained”.  Remember, before Pull-ups, preschoolers didn’t come to class with diapers on.

When your child is ready, usually around the age of two, simply stop buying diapers (and Pull-ups!)  Explain what is

Once upon a potty

Almost no evil.

happening.  Watch a video or read a book or two about using the big kid potty.  (There are many helpful books and websites on this topic.) Then put on the underwear and get on with life.  Yes, there will be a couple of accidents.  But, accidents are unpleasant.  They are supposed to be.  They cause an activity to be stopped to change.  They feel gross.  The child will quickly become aware of how to avoid such unpleasantness.  And, yes, if the weather permits, a few days naked on the bottom half is strongly recommended.

Voila!  You saved money, saved the environment, saved your sanity.  Wasn’t that easy?  Ok, maybe it isn’t easy.  But at least now it’s over!

Posted June 17, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

What to Get the Dad Who Has Everything   Leave a comment

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2011.  What to get the Dad who has everything?  Nothing.

Well, no-thing.  Do (or purchase) a service for him instead.

-Mow the lawn.

-Turn over the garden.

-Build a compost bin.

-Hire a maid service.

-Clean the bathrooms.

-Wash (or detail) his truck.

-Prepare a meal (or a dozen.)

-Give golf lessons (or any lesson he might enjoy.)

Dad doesn’t need more stuff, he just needs to know you care.  Get busy doing for Dad!

Posted June 15, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized

A Green Martha Stewart?   Leave a comment

I wish!  But, I have learned a thing or two about green cleaning as the proprietor of a green cleaning biz.  I also have 3 children, ages 15, 14, and 6 and have also learned a thing or two about sending snacks to school, the importance of organization, and fun projects on a (tight) budget.  I’m crazy about our 3 dogs (well, at least two of them.)  And, when a client asks me a question I’d love to have a blog to slap up the answer for the whole world to see.  Now, I do.  Happy reading!

Posted June 13, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Clean Little Secrets   Leave a comment

1.  The 10 minute tidy.  Company’s coming and you’ve only got 10 minutes?  Grab a laundry basket and run through all of the main rooms picking up toys, laundry, and out of place items.  Tuck the laundry basket in your closet.  Promise me you’ll actually put things where they go by tomorrow.  Refold or replace bathroom towels and wipe down counters.  Spray something fresh but not too heavy like a diy essential oil spray or a linen spray from the Good Home Company.

2.  Aromatherapy.   Using the spray from above, mist shower curtains so the humidity releases a pleasant scent during showers.  Or, put 10 – 15 drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball (or wadded up toilet paper square) and suck it up with your vacuum.  The scent will be released while you work.

3. Razor Blade Scrapers.  Pick one up at your local home improvement store and keep it handy at all times.  It’s one of the greenest cleaners there is because it’s mechanical, not chemical.  Use it to scrape burnt on food off of the stove.  If you’ve let the soap scum build up way too long on the tile in the shower, scrape it off.  It’s easier than scrubbing.  Use a plastic scraper for spots on floors.  Sometimes you can remove hard water deposits from glass doors with a scraper.

4. The olive oil trick.  Olive oil is great for buffing stainless steel fridge doors and moisturizing dry wood.

Posted June 13, 2011 by wellmaid in Uncategorized