On Matters of Domestic Economy: Spices, Cleaning, Using What you Have

Ah, the glamorous life of the self-employed . . . I just spent an hour on my hands & knees high suction vacuuming the landing carpet in a cross-hatch pattern.

It has been cleaned, but not deep cleaned for some time. Because it’s the main path to the bath, bedroom, attic and office, it is used, daily — but not cleaned often enough for such a high traffic location.

I should deep clean it at least monthly. I haven’t, for oh, to be generous, “It’s been some time.”

Been pecking away at the other cleaning and storage problems. One problem I’ve not had a solution for is platters, cookie sheets, that is, larger flat things. The cabinet where our spices are is underutilized. The spices and the shelves they’re on overfill it, but there’s a lot of  empty space there too. Last night I realized that this old retail bottle rack I had might fit my favorite spice bottles?

It does. So, if I move the spices into the rack atop the counter, then I can potentially move the platters, cookie sheets, etc. into the narrow cabinet instead of it being used as a spice rack. There’s extra spices stored elsewhere, so it doesn’t store everything. Adding the rack isn’t going to change that, but it might make something else work better.

We’ll see!


On Matters of Domestic Economy: Linens

One of my fascinations since my preteens has been housework manuals. This started at least in part with my Dad, who expected that (somehow) I’d magically (it  came with the female DNA?) acquire the skills and knowledge to “keep house.”

Which of course is nonsense. Women have no more innate capacity or knowledge of cleaning and housewifery than men do. However, I digress.

We’re going to be building a wall along one edge of our master bedroom. This will create a hall with 2 large storage closets. I intend to use one for  cleaning supplies and linens, out of season clothes storage will probably fill the other.

Another scheme we’ve hit on is to turn part of our sunroom into a mudroom. This depends on getting at least one new door first, but it too will answer a continual mess-maker: what happens when you walk in the door with groceries, mail, your coat, wallet, etc.

I have been looking for ideas or designs for linen closets, storage closets, and mudrooms accordingly. An obvious first place to look is my  “housewifery” books.

I found a”Linen List for the Home,” by Better Homes & Gardens. This is from My Better Homes & Gardens Home Guide, Holbrook (ed), Meredith Publishing, 1933. I list what they say you need first. How many we have and any comments are [bracketed].

  • Sheets: 6 to a bed [I have no idea how many we have. Interesting that there’s no provision for winter sheets!]
  • Pillow Cases: 3 to a pillow [Again, I have no idea how many we own. We use fewer pillows than we own as we have some for guests.]
  • Mattress Pad: 1 to a bed [1, although I’d love to find an old fashioned one with the elastic strips on the corners instead of the “fitted” type which seems to be all you can buy these days. Again, they solved a problem I didn’t have!]
  • Blankets: 2 of different weights for each bed [Let’s see, plastic blankets 2, wool blankets, 2 from Curts, 3 from church sales. Depending on the weather, we use a greater or lesser quantity of these.]
  • Comforter or Quilt: 1 for each bed [We have 3 comforters and 2 quilts, see comment for blankets.]
  • Bedspreads (if washable): 2 for each bed [1, it’s also used as a lightweight summer blanket]
  • Dresser “covers” {I think they mean dresser scarves?} 2 for each dresser [0, I use a length of fabric]
  • Bath Towels: 6 per person [We use terry towels: 2 per person, 2 are out at any one time, 2 in the laundry]
  • Hand Towels: 6 per person [0, we use the bath towels]
  • Wash Clothes: 4 per person [Also terrycloth, We own 4, we share one.]
  • Guest Towels: 6 hand towels for this use [0, see hand towels. If we had company, I’d give them their own towel and hook in the bathroom (our towels hang from an old-style luggage/coat rack; I got tired of folding towels on a bar!]
  • Bath Mats: 2 for each bathroom [2, they’re rugs and I made them. We only have 1 set]
  • Glass Towels for the kitchen: 6 [Flatwoven towels, not terrycloth. I have no idea how many dish towels we have?]
  • Rough Work Towels: 6 [There’s a basket of “cat towels” which are used for everything except greasy car stuff: mopping up spills, animal bedding when required, etc. When I get new terry bath towels, the old towels become “cat towels.”
  • Pot Holders: 6 [2, I use professional baker’s pads. They aren’t pretty after a while because they scorch and stain (and it doesn’t come out even when washed) but they work fine and I store them in a drawer.]
  • Hand Towels (for kitchen use): 6 per person [? see glass towels]
  • Linen-damask tablecloth set: 1 for small dinners [0]
  • Hem-stitched cotton or colored with napkins to match: 1 set [4]

Interestingly enough, the end of the article talks about how big towels, napkins, etc. should be, finished, so the expectation is that you’re making your own.

One of my favorite stores has sheeting material on sale. I intend to buy enough tomorrow to try the “great sheet experiment” I’ve been threatening for a while. The idea is to use only flat sheets. I hate fitted sheets, because they wear differently than flat sheets. I hate having two types of things when one will do, and as I’ve previously blogged, I hate being held hostage by the manufacturers and retailers so that I have to buy more stuff than I need in the form of a fitted sheet, top sheet, and two pillow cases at a time. Although I apparently am not the only one, as stores seem to be offering sheets singly, again.

I noted at Sears a little while ago that a major manufacturer had small packages with 1 top or 1 fitted sheet or I think 2 pillow cases. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any king flat sheets, so I didn’t buy one. I would have, just on general principle, if they’d had what I wanted.

So, I’m going to buy the sheeting and see if I can DIY flat sheet. No sides to hem as you use the selvage. That leaves 2 hems, top & bottom.  King flat sheets at Macy’s start at $65 or so. The fabric is about $40, plus shipping. We’ll see!

Dollar Shave Club — Not!

I don’t care if they have the best product at the cheapest price anywhere, ever. We will NEVER buy their products, EVER!

Why? Because they have completely overwhelmed pinterest. Every search you do, no matter wtf it is, they pop up. This isn’t smart advertising to me, it’s annoying. Or it was mildly annoying the first 150 times it happened. It has gotten beyond annoying and I consider it pollution. It’s one of the reasons I stopped using pinterest as much as I had, the annoyance of dollarshave.com’s “ads” that aren’t “ads”. I intend to tell pinterest my reasoning too. I understand people using the site for advertising, but if you put in “food storage” for example, shaving products don’t have a lot to do with it.

Dollar Shave Club just lost themselves a customer, probably several. I refuse to be annoyed into giving someone $. I am a curmugeoness in training and I take my job seriously!


Back to Mundanity and Suburbia

So. Cleaning the house. What’s next? Yesterday I cleaned off the cat bench. The cat is now using it. I have a large batch o’ books to dispose of. (Of course.) This frees up the part of the bathroom closet where the plastic bin of catfood had been living, which is rather nice!

But I don’t really have a plan today. My take-away lesson from doing the hallway the other day is that if I divvy the work up into small, doable chunks, doable in about 3 hours or less, start to finish, I have no problem with cleaning things. The cat bench had been on my radar for a while. I suppose I should pick up the “clean the pantry” task I’d started. I’ve got 2 of 5? shallow shelves cleaned. If I only allow myself 1.5 hours start to finish. . . Hmmm. Let’s see 1/2 hour to get things torn apart. Whatever I have done, that’s how much I clean. 3/4 hour to actually clean, 1/4 hour to put stuff away. I wonder if that would work? It’s certainly short enough, and if I had to do something else after the cleaning, it would be easy to do the 15 minutes of putting things back together almost any time.

Reality, instead of Planning: Because of another need, today’s purge was paper. We needed to find something and did, but in the process cleaned out a section of the office.

Making Life Time Goals When Very Young Can Be Problematic

I remember being about 4 or 5 and deciding that I had to hide emotionally. I remember the day, where I was, etc. That’s fine.

That decision that I wouldn’t let myself  “go crazy”  and I’d hide, somehow, has served me very well. But the 4 year old’s perceptions have also cost me a lot. The “going crazy” that I was so worried about, the losing control, wasn’t going crazy, but depression.

It kept me from clinical depression or maybe worse, yes. But being afraid I really was crazy as my abuser said kept me from talking about it — for decades.

I’ve just dealt with something similar, this week.While at the writing workshop I wrote a poem (so called) about wanting to jump off a bridge and that I wouldn’t. I rarely let people read that stuff, and it doesn’t matter anyway. If I can find it, I’ll post it.

But through one thing and the other it occurred to me that I just don’t  talk about this stuff, the suicide thoughts or violent act thoughts, because. Because?Well, it’s because that little kid decided it was “crazy” and I couldn’t let people know.

For the past few days I have been talking about this for a few different reasons. One, I’m tired of being scared I’m “crazy.” If this is crazy, it is, and I’ll deal with it, or not. but I’m sick of running away from it. Two, I’m really, really tired of fighting myself and being scared of what’s inside me.

I came up with a way to describe this, the pain and the “world” today. It’s sort of like a musical chord: top  note… what the world sees… the middle (and was MUCH bigger for most of my life) was the pain… and the bottom is the suicide, etc. stuff.

The suicide thoughts are fleeting they pop into my head and then out. Happens throughout the day,  every day — and has as I can remember. So I finally talked to my therapist about this and she said, “Why would it be crazy? You’re presenting yourself with options. Trauma survivors almost all do suicide ideation. Suicide is the absence of pain; trauma hurts.”

So, again, in my weird, mixed-up way, this IS normal. It isn’t an indication that I’m crazier than I “appear” to be, it’s still part of the abuse/PTSD I already know about. Maybe, just maybe I can stop being terrified of myself  for the last decade or so of my life. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

I apologize to anyone who tried to read this before. WordPress is having some problems, I guess. I didn’t write this as one paragraph. Fixed it. Saved it. Opened it up, it was fine. Decided to add this apology. Opened up the post again, and again it was a single paragraph. So. if you’re reading this and it’s one long-winded narrative without paragraphing, now you know it wasn’t created that way — THREE times!


Today’s Test

is the new floor treatment. I’ve wanted for a long time a way to fill the gaps between the variable-width pine floor’s planks. It’s another way this house traps dirt and grunge. I found this: (link) and have bought some 1/4″ jute twine as a result. But where to put it?

Most of the planks in this house run 7′ or so, not something I want to do as a test or learning piece. Last night I realized that wasn’t true with the transition between the two main rooms downstairs. So, today’s job was to remove the furniture etc. from the downstairs hall, clean the floor well (in process), clean the bookcase (done), remove everything (done), clean the walls as long as I had everything pulled out (done) and then fill the gaps around the transition board with the twine. A learning experience which won’t take  me all day or moving all the furniture, etc. along a 7′ span!

Of  course, I’ve found stuff to get rid of (at least one book as well as stuff which was dumped here/doesn’t belong. There’s a dumping ground piece here (a lidded casserole) but everything which won’t fit or is obviously trash is going OUT!

Phase II coming up! The floor should be about dry. I need to get a spackle knife and spackle an anchor hole in the wall. If I was truly ambitious, I’d take off the trim, sand it and prep it for painting by using some of the remaining primer. But I doubt I’ll get that involved.

My other job today if it doesn’t rain, is stripping the new metal bookcase I got yesterday. This will be more than enough sanding, etc. for me. Why do people buy nice steel bookcases, let them rust a little and then spray paint them (badly) silver on top of the rust? It looks like crap and probably did when newly done. I now have 2 of these. They were cheaper than they would have been otherwise, but it’s going to take much labor to get the crap silver paint and rust off before painting them again, decently this time!


Chump, not Change

I feel set up. Maybe just by circumstance, but I’m there. I thought I was winning, finally. Hah!

Spent 50 years determined to fight the f’n pain. Can’t win against that, it’s the PTSD. It hurts. Can set it aside, partial win. The pain isn’t driving me any more.

Spent 10 years determined to write my story and because it was so hard to do, forget almost everything I know about writing stories. I thought I was done with the endless job of wading through my particular map of hell, but No! Wait!

It needs to be rewritten.

Years and miles away I said to myself that I’d do almost anything to not be a character in an Ibsen play. Win-win-win . . .Big time NOT!

Mr Ibsen must be laughing his f’n head off.