Decreasing the daily dirty dishes pile


Spring-type wooden clothespin
Image via Wikipedia

Sunday afternoon, while our family was visiting at Karl’s grandmother’s house, I noticed an old Southern Living book. I say old, but it really isn’t old — it’s from 1997.

I didn’t know it, but, apparently, Southern Living compiles every single recipe from one year and publishes them in a nice hardback book. Included in this book are their best suggestions, tips and ideas from each magazine that year, too.

As I wiped away a little drool* from a photograph of a Grilled Bacon, Cheese, and Tomato Sandwich, I noticed the words “weekend guests” in the “From Our Kitchen to Yours” feature on the opposite page. I enjoy having guests over and can use all the tips I can get when it comes to hospitality without the headache, so I continued reading.

In 1997, a woman named Mary Alice Carmichael of Birmingham, AL, sent in this helpful tip for tackling the stacks-of-drinking-glasses-beside-the-sink problem:

[She] cleverly clips the problem with hand-painted clothespins. Before friends arrive, she decorates each pin with a name and asks each guest to clip one onto the glass they’ll use for the weekend. (Clips are to be removed while sipping, of course.) Once Mary Alive bids guests adieu on Sunday, she tucks the clothespins away in a special place until their ‘owners’ return for another stay.

While I do not have weekend-long entertaining issues, I do have four children. One of my pet peeves is the kids’ use of a different cup every single time they want/need a drink. It isn’t all their fault, though: if their cups mysteriously find their ways to the sink or the dishwasher while left unattended, well, the kids have to get a new one.

A few years ago, I tried a similar solution to the cup problem with colored rubber bands. Each morning, the kids would choose a color and put the band around a cup. But, inevitably, colors would be forgotten or changed, bands would be thrown into the garbage or the desk drawer, or someone forgot about the band-system altogether.

I think Ms. Carmichael’s suggestion could be the holy grail for my cup issue. First of all, I can turn it into an art project. Not only do my kids love to paint, they also personalize every single thing they own. (I guess that’s a by-product of living in a family of 6.) Second, I don’t think they’ve ever seen a clothespin; it will be novel. Third, a personalized clothespin will not get tossed into the trash nor put in the desk drawer. Finally, by placing a little strip of magnet on the back, we can store them all on the refrigerator, which just happens to reside near the cabinet with the cups/glasses AAAAND…wait for it…where we store the beverages. IT’S PERFECT!

*Just kidding about drooling on your book, Mima!

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4 thoughts on “Decreasing the daily dirty dishes pile

    1. Southern Living is full of great ideas! I love the picture, too. I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but it reminds me of a palace like Versaille. Buckingham Palace, maybe?

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  1. Love your new look!

    My solution is a little more crude: each child has a disposable plastic cup with his name written in sharpie, except we don’t dispose of the cup until it breaks, cracks or leaks. Yes, it means they have to be washed/rinsed and not dishwasher-ed but it sure saves on the number of dirty dishes!

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