maandag 20 november 2017

Easy Dinner Ideas

One pot pasta.

Somehow this idea of hers was very controversial. Mine was made with onions, garlic, rasped carrots (and probably bell peppers but since the picture is from last week I forget) which were stir-fried first, then I added pasta, water, a jar of stewed tomatoes and a can of tuna. It tastes quite decent, but don't forget to stir while cooking so that your pasta gets equally cooked on all sides!

vrijdag 17 november 2017

A Question For My American Readers

This morning I have been watching one of those homemaking videos I wrote about and the lady said they were using something like 3 kWh per hour when their heating system was on. I was like did I hear it good, because we use 3 kWh per day on average (yesterday it was only 2 actually). Of course, we heat with gas which is quite expensive,too; but still utility bills in the USA must be huge. Can anyone enlighten me about this issue? 

donderdag 16 november 2017

Something Lovely For In Your Home

I thought this blog misses something, for instance, a nice picture, like this one:

(Click on the photo to enlarge)

The little wooden tray with a moose, a pitcher and a candle holder is a present from someone. Aren't they cute?And though it's not exactly Christmas yet, I thought it's OK to start decorating for it a bit:) For those who don't know, God Jul apparently means Merry Christmas in Norwegian. Bought it at a Scandi Christmas market last week.

dinsdag 14 november 2017

The Real Housewives Of America

A new generation has grown up and quite a few young women choose to stay home, with or without children. Being more media-savvy, they popularise their lifestyle on YouTube, like this lady who in this particular video describes her favourite household products, but also makes one- day-in- your- life kind of videos, gives advice on budgeting, meal planning etc.

Another recent video features a young African-American lady explaining why she chose to be a housewife even without kids. She makes a good point that if you are home you'll have time to help your distant family, like your aunts and nieces, something which used to be considered normal, but not anymore since family ties are getting weaker.

This young wife explains what housewives without children do all day (it's not eating bonbons!)

Another housewife explains her choices in this short video, and, of course, there are plenty of young mothers sharing tips, like this and encouraging each other. 

The real housewives of America aren't some lazy gold-digging brats but nice, intelligent, hard-working women who are simply not so driven to compete in the work world but like to take care of their homes and families and they want their choices to be respected. There is nothing wrong about that!

zaterdag 11 november 2017

The Importance Of Schedules

Chapter 2 of Home Comforts discusses the importance of establishing routines and schedules. Without a system of sorts, you'll either feel that your work is never done and lose your motivation, or fall into emergency mode when housework is only done when domestic chaos becomes unbearable. The author discusses setting priorities (such as health and safety) and keeping lists.

She gives an interesting example of an elderly gentleman who has a housekeeping book and writes down the contents of all the closets and cupboards. Cheryl also gives lists of daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual chores and then discusses them in more detail. For working people, she suggests at least some minimal amount of cleaning to be done right after breakfast, before they go to work, so that you return to a reasonably clean house.

Here I'd like to stop and give a suggestion to homemakers without small children who are home alone for the biggest part of the day. Morning is the best time for errands, doctor appointments and visiting, and if you go out in the morning and spend a couple of hours outside, you'll come home rejuvenated and won't experience this feeling of restlessness which comes from being cooped up the whole day.
In this case, her advice also applies to you: try to make your bed, wash the dishes and do at least some picking up, so that you come home to a reasonably decent looking house.

Mrs Mendelson then goes on to discuss weekly routines. According to her, the traditional routine of washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, sewing on Wednesday, marketing on Thursday, cleaning on Friday and baking on Saturday was still used till the end of the 1960s. Just for the comparison, Little House In The Big Woods mentions nearly the same weekly schedule, except that Thursday is churning day, and Wednesday chore is mending, not sewing. 

The author states that sewing and baking are rather obsolete, but still suggests people continue using a modified version of the weekly routine, and gives her ideas for working couples with small apartments and big houses. One interesting point she makes is that it's more efficient to designate a special laundry day than do a load each day; or at least to do it twice a week. I have been pondering this issue and it appears to me that the old weekly schedule still makes sense (with the exception of churning, of course:).

I know many people don't iron but I still do, and since I have no dryer, my laundry is never dry all on the same day, so Tuesday is the day when I do the most of folding and putting away anyway. Cheryl, by the way, suggests choosing a second day for mini-laundering and having Wednesday as the odd-job day, used for mending, paying the bills and doing odd jobs. Ironically, in the Little House times it was a mending day, too; and those who sew can still use it as a sewing day. You can still market on Thursday, clean on Friday and bake on Saturday and so preserve an old tradition from dying out. I should add that if you don't usually bake, Saturday can be used for cooking something extra, then freezing it in.

A funny thing is that Mrs Mendelson keeps talking about how easy modern housekeeping is, even for working couples, and then proceeds to give quite an extensive list of weekly chores, like changing bed linens twice a week (the last info I've read on the issue is that up to once in 2 weeks is still considered hygienic); washing the whole bathroom including tiles (an abbreviated version of it costs the housekeeper 1 hour), and cleaning your fridge every week (takes me more than 1 hour). How are you supposed to do it all after your normal working hours is a riddle; though, to be fair, she suggests doing major housecleaning on Saturday for working couples.

She then encourages people to do a yearly spring cleaning, discusses the order of work and debates whether vacuuming should be done first or last. I freely admit that I do it first, which is apparently wrong, but it suits me just fine so I doubt it'll change. In conclusion, the author mentions little touches such as fresh flowers or baked goodies to make your house homey. All in all, lots of useful info in this chapter.

woensdag 8 november 2017

Home Comforts

If you are a traditionally-minded woman, there are some books which are a must for your library, like Fascinating Womanhood, Little House On The Prairie series, and, of course, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. Now I have a somewhat vague idea, that I have reviewed this book before, so I'm not going to do it again, however...

However, I recently have decided to re-read it and it appeared as a good idea to write my thoughts about some of the things (and advice) she gives. Apparently, there are still lots of folks around interested in the subject of housekeeping since my latest post on the topic was quite a success.

The first chapter of the book is called My Secret Life and Cheryl goes into detail describing her personal experiences and the facts that in the circles she moves, overtly domestic women are ostracised. She talks about her family history and then delves into what could be called the philosophy of housekeeping.

Have you ever asked yourself why is it actually important to keep house, especially if you have a small household with grown children? You may even live alone so why bother? Most chores are rather repetitive, you wake up, you make your bed etc etc, and so every day. Now, Cheryl comes up with a simple but stunning explanation: because otherwise, your home won't feel like home, and without a proper home you don't feel safe and it will affect  your mental and physical health.

She also warns against LARPing as a homemaker instead of being one. Just doing some crafts can't really substitute regular housekeeping and create this special "homey" feeling. Here is a relevant quote: "...the way you experience life in your home is determined by how you do your housekeeping." (Ch.M., Home Comforts, Scribner Trade paperback, 2005 ed. p.5) All consequent quotes will be from the same edition, so that I'll only add the page numbers.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of restlessness? I think lots of people do nowadays. Well, apparently, it can be explained by the fact that since homemaking has become unfashionable, the comforts of home diminished greatly which in its turn, created a feeling of homelessness, of not really belonging anywhere.

Mrs Mendelson claims that American home life is in the state of decline which is detrimental to health and well-being and she even goes so far as to compare an average middle-class household with the 1900s industrial poor farming out their children to institutions and living in unsanitary conditions.

She is careful not to blame feminists though. Changes in family life evidently just happened out of the blue. She sort of hints that partly it was due to the invention of labour-saving devices but then goes on to say that all these devices were already present in the 1950s, and women still stayed home and dusted. She further states that some women of that generation were unsatisfied and taught their daughters to have careers which she claims, was a good thing, but then goes on to decry the consequences of it, as in lack of domesticity.

Anyway, she does mention the role MSM played in the whole thing by showing "degraded images of household work and workers" (p.10)  and reinforcing negative stereotypes. (I'm shocked, shocked I tell you! Why would MSM do such a thing? Could there be some sort of agenda behind it?) Cheryl calls housekeeping "the most thoroughly pleasing, significant and least alienated form(s) of work" (idem) and encourages her readers to be domestic.

She even touches on classical literature, mentioning Dickens, Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy who all extolled the virtues of good housekeepers, such as Agnes from David Copperfield, an example also used in Fascinating Womanhood , and reminds us that there was time, not so long ago, when life was much harder and homemaking was one ongoing struggle against dust, dirt, nasty smells, pests etc and that 1950s women loved their modern homes and enjoyed keeping them clean and sparkling. It symbolised their victory over forces of entropy.

Mrs Mendelson also discusses housekeeping standards, their disappearance and whether housework is arbitrary or superfluous. It's interesting that she mentions that folks used to iron everything. It's my personal opinion based on some real life experiences, that ironing had the same function an automatic dryer fulfills now (I don't have one, btw). When you iron wet clothes, they dry much sooner, instead of hanging for a week and contributing to the mold and mildew growth.

The summary of the chapter is that housekeeping in general isn't discretionary but something necessary for your mental and physical health, however small your household could be.