My Special Circumstances (for Today)

My Special Circumstances (For Today) at

Monday morning, my husband drank his coffee out of a cereal bowl.

To be fair (to my slob self), our cereal bowls do have handles and could technically be called really big mugs.

But still . . .

I hadn’t washed dishes since last Friday.

I know. I KNOW I have to do dishes. I KNOW it is the habit upon which the state of my home balances.

I totally know.

But y’all, I had special circumstances.

Unique circumstances. (I would love to say really unique, but there’s no such thing. Unique is unique, so degrees of uniqueness aren’t possible. That’s your language lesson for the day week month year.)

I have ants.

Ants everywhere.

Ants marching in lines across my cabinets. No matter what I do, no matter what I scrub or block or remove, the ants keep doing their ant thing in my kitchen.

So I’ve been avoiding my sink. Belly up the sink and you’re guaranteed to find an ant crawling on your shirt or your arm or your NECK very soon.


But guess what happens when special circumstances keep me from doing my dishes?

1. We run out of clean dishes.

2. My kitchen gets really messy.

3. My husband drinks his coffee from a cereal bowl. (A cereal bowl with a handle . . . but still.)

Reality doesn’t stop because of my special circumstances.

While special circumstances may keep me from doing what I need to do, the results of me not doing what I need to do still happen.

Results have no pity.


But really, though, I’m the Queen of Identifying Special Circumstances That Justify Avoiding Tasks I Didn’t Really Want to Do Anyway.

So Monday morning, I used the last of my cinnamon in a desperate attempt to get the blankety-blank ants to stay away from the point where my belly meets the sink.

It kind of worked. A few fewer ants made it onto my t-shirt. My cinnamon-stained t-shirt.

What special circumstances are you facing that keep you from doing the things that have to be done, no matter the circumstances?

Podcast listeners click here.

Oh, and if you want to know how to pronounce “blehalalala” just click the play button below to hear this post in audio form.

--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1
    AlysonRR says:

    Try borax for the ants – sprinkle it under the doorsill(s)/windowsill(s) where they’re (probably) coming in. That’s always been all we need to do, but you can sprinkle it on their trails, too, if they’re particularly persistent or if you can’t figure out where they’re coming from. I, too, am the Queen of Special Circumstances. Good for you for overcoming!

  2. 2

    I KNOW this wasn’t a request for advice……but, have you tried Borax for your ants? We got some last summer because ourawn service treated for bugs outside (never again) and the ants moved in. I did both methods at the same time so I don’t know which one worked better. I mixed sugar and Borax dry and left it in a small dish or lid. Then I did the one where you mix water, sugar and Borax and wet cotton pads and lay those around. Seriously, I saw a couple the next morning and then never again! I would Google the exact instructions because I’m probably mixing something up but it really worked.
    Thanks again, really loving the blogcasts!

  3. 4
    Heather says:

    Borax mixed with something sweet (honey, syrup, jam) for a “sticky, wet bait”, and powdered sugar for a “dry bait”. I put a piece of tape down (2″ wide tape) on my surface (wall, counter, or cabinet) and then put some of the sticky mixture on the tape to make clean up easy. The ants surround it within minutes. I then follow the ant trail and head outside to locate where they are entering the house. Outside, I sprinkle the borax/powdered sugar mixture around the foundation of the house, and when I find the mound, I put the end of the “wet bait” by the mound. Ants aren’t any fun! Good luck!

  4. 5
    lydia purple says:

    i can just picture the ants having a party on all those dirty dishes…. we used to have ants in our former home all the time… until i found out that they actually built their home inside the plastic window frame (from there was always a trail into the kitchen and one outside to the lemon tree. i thought they live in the tree, which was not so…) so i cleaned the window frame with a huge ant-ocide… poured boiling water through the frame, that’s an instant ant (and just about any pest) killer. boils them right up. no chemicals involved, only cleaning up the tiles from dead wet ants.

  5. 6

    I found this last year, mainly an outside solution but also chemical free… Used coffee grounds and also black pepper will clear ants out like there is a picnicapalooza down the street! (I am loving your blog by the way… I feel I have found my home away from home. And I am sure I will be here daily to help motivate the Slob of this Hut!)

  6. 8

    I’m a new fan who discovered your blog when a couple of other bloggers whom I follow promoted the recent Bundle. I decided that if I purchased the Bundle I would get sidetracked from my priority for the summer: getting my house in order. Your book about drowning in clutter caught my eye, and since then I’ve had a marathon of listening to your podcasts and reading your blog, interspersed with a few sprints of clutter removal.

    As for your question today, my special circumstances involve pots and pans that I have burned food in, after having become distracted and focused on projects more fascinating than cooking for a slob of my ilk. I know that if I soak these pots and pans in a baking soda/water solution, the charred food will usually come off quite easily. I’m sometimes tempted to delay running the dishwasher until the baking soda has done its magic so that I will have a fuller load. . . Combine this strategy with Slob Vision, and I can end up with a “no-clean-spoons crisis.”

    Speaking of spoons, the most useful organizational tip I found before discovering your blog was the “silverware-drawer concept.” I’ve been sorting my stuff into categories, preliminary to decluttering; ahem, as a way to procrastinate decluttering? It hadn’t occurred to me that I needed to move on to the “container concept.”

  7. 9

    Oh Nony! I am sorry about the ants — I am in Colorado, and we get ants too. So far, knocking on wood, they haven’t appeared in my living room yet, but I am expecting them any day now! LOL! BLERG! Good to know about Borax — will buy some at the store this week!

    My special circumstance is just being OVERWHELMED by life right now…Work is overwhelming and now my house is COMPLETELY OVERWHELMING me. I have started donation piles, and in fact a bunch of them are in my car…for over a month now, and have yet to make it over to Goodwill! We just have STUFF everywhere — I just don’t know where to begin. I know I just need to take my car over to Goodwill…and at home, just pick somewhere to begin and do it for small increments of time, but with 2 little boys (5 & 2) its just SOO HARD!! Pity party! 🙁

    • 10

      I know that overwhelmed on every side feeling all too well and I don’t even have little ones to throw in the mix. When it got like that for me I decided I couldn’t worry about the donations and just focus on stuff that could go directly in the rubbish for a few months. It made a big difference.

  8. 11
    dannyscotland says:

    Ants stink. We have them, too. I’ve tried all the natural fixes and finally just went out and bought the poison-filled ant bait things. I finally got rid of mine that way, along with the fact that winter came and they apparently died. Or not. They’re back now that it’s spring. Stupid ants.

  9. 12
    ZaftigWendy says:

    Adding my voice to the borax chorus. Borax mixed with syrup – use the cheap stuff – left in disposable paper saucers in all the places you see them. It doesn’t kill them right away. They take it back to the nest, share it ’round, feeding it to the queen as well, and poof, they’re all dead.

  10. 13
    Marybeth S says:

    My special circumstance is a pinched nerve in my back.I bent over to get Moma’s walker out of the car and wham! Now it hurt’s all the way to my foot.I was supposed to use the sling blade on the back yard today(I know,it shoudn’t get that bad) so the insurance man could walk all the way around the outside of the house.Thank heaven,he doesn’t come inside.Maybe it will be better in a couple of day’s and it won’t rain before I get out there and get it done.

  11. 14

    Terro brand liquid bait packs. A little snip and place where you see them. It’s borax based and easy to clean up. In a couple of days, no more ants.

    • 15

      Yes! We used to have a miserable case but Terro finally did them in. Waaay cheaper than a pest service visit.

  12. 16

    I tried a chalk line with ants one time and it worked for awhile, most of them wouldn’t cross it.

    My circumstances are that I’ve been on bed rest with a bad back (which is slowly getting better). So loading and unloading the dishwasher was hard (I did squats) and laundry was hard, and I hate waiting for my family to come home and help as I don’t like looking at it.

    So sometimes I let the dishes go depending on how I felt that day, or I did squats to load or unload, which was great for my legs, I guess. 😉

  13. 17

    One good thing to get rid of ants is to sprinkle talcum powder along where they are walking and when you are rid of them sprinkle it at their point of entry if you can find that it works a treat and is safe to people and pets too.

  14. 18
    Valerie Park says:

    I love the comment “Results have no pity”! I think I’ll be using that one.

  15. 19

    you know, the ants probably loved that there were dirty dishes with food flecks on them for them to consume. just sayin’ 😉 (we have blankety blank ants right now too. try Terro)

  16. 20

    Talcum powder has worked wonders on ants for me! Apparently they don’t like walking through it. And it doesn’t kill then either because I’m a big softy. My special circumstances mean that I AM tidying and cleaning (not working at the moment). I never thought I would enjoy it so much, I certainly like the results!

  17. 21

    Special Circumstance: The (2 year old) dishwasher broke. Before the guy came out to fix it, I was all Gung-Ho with Old School washing by hand & being proud of not letting that slow me down. Tuesday, when the guy came there was nary a spoon marring my kitchen – so he could work without hindrance (and so I wouldn’t have to apologize). $90 later he said he would need to bring it to the shop (due to ITS Special Circumstances) and hope to get it fixed for another $250 -$300 more. *sigh* We decided to pass. Figuring we could buy a new one for not too much more than this. Yesterday was Wednesday- our Senior son’s birthday, tonight is middle school daughter’s concert, life goes on. Ours – not the Samsungs.
    The kitchen is a disaster. I was doing the ‘poor me pile up the dishes’. But, I am once again encouraged/motivated to DO, whatever the Special Circumstances. So, Thanks!
    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men!

    • 22

      We found a dishwasher curb side. I know… Ours had died, no budget to spend on a new $300 motor. It had no gross odour, some calcium build up. We decided to try it. Rednecks that we are, we set it up in the back yard adapted the garden hose. Dh looked at the water connection…,the little filter was plugged with hard water deposit. Ok….let’s see what it does! Connected it and it ran all the cycles. It even has a water heater in it, sanitizing cycles. Not dependent on there being hot water in our tank is a perk(3 teens…ugh) After we determined it cycled. We took apart all the interior parts, since there was obviously a water restriction, there was calcium deposit and lots of stuff in the bottom..ewwwwww. We’ve seen it before. Cleaned it, ran a LemiRinse machine clean through it. And it sparkles!!! All the white deposits, even on plastic components, are gone. So look in classifieds for a free one, good chance it’s not running right, or pull yours our if it’s a water issue. We have had issues before and had some one out to fix. Watched what they did. We have how not bought new dishwasher in almost 10 years. Maintenance saves the machine. Recycling ‘distressed’ machine saved us &$

  18. 24

    I for real just laughed out loud. We have such a big ant problem right now that I’m contemplating burning the kitchen (it fixes dirty dishes also). Thank you again for being so relatable and real. Sending this too my husband so I can say “it’s not just me/us”. ( reading your books again by the way).

  19. 25

    I justified my not cleaning up the mother’s day BBQ dishes for Sunday. My husband left for out of town Monday, so I wasn’t doing them then either. I had to, had to also. I feel your pain. I had no ant problem to blame either. Just my laziness.
    Thanks to you and your wonderful podcasts, I survived.

  20. 26
    Donna toffelmire says:

    Hello, I know you didn’t ask for advice. Ha but here it is.. Windex.. We have ants in our kitchen right now too 🙁 So the only thing I had on hand to spray was windex… It actually kept them away for almost two days! then when I see new ones I spray again. since my counter needs to be wiped off at least every two days. Can’t believe it’s working! Not too sure why or how.. But it’s working 😀 i was gonna buy bait traps for them, but most of those things make the ants come to it and then they carry posin back to their nest. Was very happy to see that spraying my counters with windex made them run and hide!

    • 27

      My aunt called the day after this post went up and also suggested Windex. I only had off brand. Evidently, it was like some sort of party food for these particular ants because there are now 3x as many!!!

      But thank you for the advice. I’m totally willing to try anything right now!!!

  21. 28

    My special circumstance is when anyone in the house gets sick but especially when I do. If I am busy all day and have to take care of sick people on top of that, I am not going to want to do dishes too. I could always push through whatever mild cold I have but I really hate to. So, dishes sit a long time under those circumstances.

  22. 29

    I had two weeks of jury duty… which was mentally exhausting due to the case I was on. Dishes piled up and I’m still cleaning off my table. I was doing so well up to that point, and I was so tired for those few weeks that I fell into all my old bad habits. And I’m wishing I hadn’t.

  23. 30

    Okay, it’s fact and in writing. Your sense of humour IS funny!

  24. 31

    I also would have ant problems, but I place Bay leaves in the corner of EVERYWHERE! This seems to work for all bugs. I’ve chosen to opt out of a dish washer, even against wiser advise. Sometimes, no…everytime I wash dishes I say I’m getting one. Then I remember as a kid, scraping the crusty food off the well sanitized dishes. I hate doing dishes, there is always something better to do. But when I wash them by hand, I know they are clean. Thanks for being real!

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