Carrying On

Silhouette of woman watering a garden

Somehow, it’s already July, after the longest/shortest three month period ever. With everything that’s happened and happening in the world, I just haven’t had the heart to write about…anything.

Briefest of updates: The March Housewife Experiment was largely successful. I stopped writing about it in the early coronavirus days, but I did keep it up in practice, for the most part.

I liked the routine, and I loved that my apartment was never dirty. Some of the regular cleaning was a bit much. I don’t know that I need to clean the top of the fridge every week, really. I also never fit every recommended task into a single week, but the attempt was satisfying.

As we head deeper into summer, I will likely lose whatever remained of my ambition. This is what happens when it gets really hot out, pandemic or no pandemic. I think reinstating those daily routines might be very helpful for staying functional. I’ll let you know.

Speaking of staying functional…it’s hard, right? I have absolutely fallen into the trap of constantly checking social media. This means I spend all day learning about new instances of people suffering and the triumphs of injustice. At best, I can channel this into action. At worst, I just stare, and scroll, and stare, and scroll, while feeling my blood pressure creep higher and higher. So I’m trying to find the balance between “informed” and “constantly incensed.”

One of the keys to that balance is the daily rituals and tasks of domesticity. Cooking meals, and making things, and getting dressed, and cleaning up…I suspect this is a large part of how humans across history have kept it together when everything falls apart.

In the past months, I avoided writing here because the stuff I cover seems so small in the face of the world in this moment. But it’s really not so inconsequential–it occupies much of our lives. Moreover, the “home stuff” is what keeps many of us going through the hard work of addressing the bigger picture. It’s not necessarily escapism, it might be that (ugh, buzzword) self-care we’re all trying to practice.

What’s keeping you grounded these days?

The Thrifty Housewife: Freeze Your Greens!

We’ve talked before about how fresh produce is a beat-the-clock race for a lot of smaller households. Fresh vegetables are important, but they do turn into sludge faster than many of us can get through them. If you want to win at produce, you need some food preservation strategies. One of the easiest of these is freezing vegetables.

Frozen vegetables are very nutritious and usually affordable. Unfortunately, issues in the supply chain during this pandemic have made storebought frozen vegetables a bit of a hot (heh) commodity. The first time I went to Aldi during the early, early days of COVID-19 warnings, the freezer case was completely empty. It was startling. Tumbleweeds could have rolled through, unimpeded.

Since then, my local market has consistently had a few things, but not much variety. I’m trying to cut down even further on my grocery trips, which isn’t a problem except for the aforementioned produce issue. So it’s time for DIY Frozen Vegetables.

Most frozen vegetables benefit from a simple process–blanch, shock, drain, freeze. You can also cook them before freezing, but I prefer the versatility of a plain vegetable product. (Note: Tomatoes, winter squash, onions, and peppers don’t need blanching).

So here’s how you do it.

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Using Bleach Like a 1950s Housewife

If there’s one substance most associated with “old-fashioned” cleaning, it’s bleach. Throughout the 20th century, homemakers relied on bleach for its powerful germ-killing abilities.

And, despite a mild obsession with 20th-century homemaking, I almost never use it.

An early Clorox ad promoting using bleach with the headline "A Clorox-Clean Home is a Safer Place to Live In!" and a personified bottle of bleach with a smiling face holding up cards with science facts.

I didn’t grow up cleaning with bleach, I hate the smell, and it’s always seemed…scary. It’s poisonous and corrosive, both things I generally try to avoid.

But we live in interesting times, my friends, and the coronavirus has caused me to investigate, and ultimately, change my position. I decided to learn how to disinfect my household with bleach.

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Housewife Week 2: Report

So the 1950s Housewife Life continues. This week was much like last week. I kept up with the daily cleaning, deep cleaned two rooms, and made some discoveries along the way. OH YES, and a pandemic broke. More on that later.

Overall, my perception is starting to change and I think I’m beginning to see things like my tidy-person spouse does naturally. Case in point, I looked at this sink, and thought, unironically, “The dishes are really starting to pile up, ugh!”

A sink with lots of empty space, a mug of silverware, one bowl, two plates, one glass jar and a cup.
I don’t even know who I am anymore.
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Housewife Week 1: The Report

I completed the first week of my 1950s housewifery experiment! I have now been attempting to be an ideal housewife for seven days!

Things are getting sparkling around here. I did the basic daily cleaning (dust/sweep/tidy) every weekday and did the deeper weekly cleaning in the kitchen and living room. AHB suggests I should be able to deep clean every room in two days, but that wasn’t quite do-able. I suspect that once every room has been deep cleaned, future cleaning sessions will be shorter.

An early 20th century ad for cigarettes, a woman dressed in patriotic clothes shoulders a broom. She wears a sash and stands on a platform. Both read "Welcome Cigarettes". She shoulders a broom.
I would, in fact, sort of welcome cigarettes, because nicotine is a stimulant, and I could use one. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to start smoking, as historically accurate as that would be.)
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