Sunday, February 28, 2016

Days 16 & 17: A Completely Distracted Housewife

The last 2 days have seen me being a complete failure of a housewife. But mostly due to missing the house part of housewife. I found myself very rarely in the house. Saturday was another day of working on my upstairs sewing room, though a much shorter day due to a birthday party that we were to attend in the afternoon/evening.

I did still wake up early and serve a breakfast before the work began but after that I was in full out get everyone ready to get out of the house mode. But I did follow the lessons I have learned of the 50s and I made sure that my hair was well done, that I was dressed in some of my best and that my lipstick was on! I actually gave pin curls a try and found that they held somewhat better in my hair than my usual curling iron curls.

I also received another fun delivery during the afternoon, the last 50's book I had been awaiting.

The Complete Book of Absolutely Perfect Housekeeping: An Uproarious Guide for Disorganized Housewives (with Neat Solutions to Sloppy Problems) by Elinor Goulding Smith and published in 1956. This book sounded quite entertaining so I was excited to get my hands on a copy to read. I have a lot of reading to do in my future. 

Today was also a completely housewife-less day. I did manage to quickly prep a breakfast for the family before heading out for a day of thrifting with two of my favorite people, my mother and my aunt. We ended up spending the entire day digging for treasures and I was thrilled to come home with some wonderfully retro finds. 

First, a metal dress form that will be a wonderful decoration piece once my sewing room is finished. With a little bit of dressing up I think it will be a wonderful addition.

Next were some vintage patterns. While they are not 1950's patterns they are all from the 60's. I think the classic shift dress will never truly go out of style. 

And finally a few cookbooks that will hopefully make it easier for me to cook meals that would have been true to the decade. 

Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook, unfortunately this was not the original 1954 version, this is one of the many re-publications. This one was published in 1996.

I was thrilled to find Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, Second Edition, published in 1956.

This was a fun and unique find. A cookbook released by the Milwaukee Gas Light Company in 1959.

Between the three of these I hope to come up with some fun and interesting meals in the next few weeks. It was a wonderful day of digging and discovering fun little treasures. But when I came home, I discovered the frustration of a house that has been neglected for 2 days. How is it possible for it to look like I never even cleaned it after a week of non-stop cleaning. I can't wait to straighten it all up tomorrow morning. 

But for now, I have to go sip the amazing old fashioned chocolate malt that my hubby just whipped up for me!

Day 14 & 15: Testing Some Tips and Recipes

I am behind in my posting thanks to a very busy weekend and some pure exhaustion late last week. But I am finally on and catching up since I have been a failure of a housewife today. Thursday was a fairly low key day for me. I woke up, made the breakfast and got to work on top cleaning in the morning. Well, when I got to the bathroom I did pause to re-grout some grout lines that had been worn quite down. The house was looking amazing by lunch time. After lunch, beds were stripped and washed and I worked on washing all the windows. I decided to try a tip from Heloise's Housekeeping Hints and I washed the windows and mirrors using newspaper instead of paper towels. Wow! What a difference. I had no problems with streaking when I wiped down the mirrors!

Mail came and with it were 2 much awaited deliveries. The first was a pattern I had ordered during the Butterick pattern sale.

This is the only pantsuit I have seen that I actually thought was cute so I figure I have to give it a go. Interesting tid-bit; during the 1950's "each sewer made between twenty-one and twenty-seven garments a year - mostly dresses" (Ketteler, Judi. Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution). In keeping with the experiment, this means I will have to try to sew 2 garments a month. This will be a bit of a rocky challenge for me as I am still somewhat new to sewing my own garments.

I also received a wonderful 1950's book in the mail, The Housewives Handbook by from W.H. Wise & Co., published in 1953. 

I can't wait to start dipping into this one. 

Dinner was not going to be an award winning dinner. I decided to take a stab at a quick meal that I found in a vintage ad, a bean bake.

I mostly decided on this due to the fact that there have been 2 cans of Van Camp's beans sitting in the pantry since the summer. Unfortunately, the only thing I could not add was the green pepper as I hadn't really planned too well in advance. I also used Velveeta as my cheese. 

Let's just say, absolutely not a winner in our book. Thank god that I thought ahead and boiled 2 hot dogs for the kids on the side just in case. And if it weren't for the salad I prepped I would have gone pretty much hungry that night. The only one who did like this meal was my hubby and I am convinced that is only because of his love for Velveeta cheese. 

After dinner, I sat and began working on my meal plan for the next week and a grocery list. I decided to follow another tip from Heloise's Housekeeping Hints and try to shop in as few trips as possible. Thanks to the modern convenience of having my own vehicle and being able to shop at a Supermarket, this meant I would be able to attempt to buy for an entire 7 days. Unfortunately, this also meant 3 hours of my night were spent meal planning, list making and coupon clipping. However, that 3 extra hours and extra hectic shopping trip would mean a weekly savings of approximately 25 dollars. Every penny counts!

The next day I was up before the alarm and made a breakfast of eggs, toast and an orange. I should have been top cleaning but instead I sat down and devoured an entire book in about an hour and a half. I must note, before this project and after having both of my kiddos, I had yet to read an entire book aside from the Great Gatsby a year ago. This book was the earlier mentioned Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution by Judi Ketteler. For a sewing enthusiast this book was down right fascinating. I loved reading about the history of sewing in the American household. Of course, I especially loved reading about sewing within the 1950s as it gave me some insight as to how a housewife might have been utilizing her sewing skills. The author fully recognizes the downsides of this era in American history but goes on to say, ". . . there was an amazing flow of creativity - an electricity that ignited a culture of great design. That creative energy found its way to women and their sewing machines, and they created their own art. American history is all about contradictions. When you reflect on the history of this country, it's not uncommon to feel both ashamed and proud in the same breath. But I think you can recognize the flaws of a time period and still cling to an irrational love of it. Such is the 1950s." I am especially jealous as I read about the accessibility of sewing in this decade, of being able to purchase fabric at major department stores as well as at the local five and dimes.

My attention is quickly diverted though as I realize it is now nearly 9:45 and I have yet to get ready or top clean. I rush about to get set and start a really half hearted top clean as I prepare to race to the grocery store. Despite the long list, I manage to get through the store in record timing, thanks to a well organized list. As I mentioned earlier, my savings makes me proud of the time I spent on the process. My joy is quickly diminished as I break 2 eggs on my way into the house with what feels like thousands of pounds of food. 

Over lunch I quickly flip through some recipes to find a use for the two broken eggs before they spoil and after lunch I begin whipping up some chocolate mousse. As the chocolate sauce is cooling in the fridge I get on with my chores of cleaning the bathroom. Once again, I decide to steal a tip from Heloise's Housekeeping Hints. I run upstairs and grab our old broom. Once back in the bathroom I sprinkle some cleaning solution on the tub and get to scrubbing with the broom rather than bending over the tub with scrub brush. 

It really did work just as well as the scrubber and it saved my back and knees a world of ache! Thank you, Heloise! 

Once the chores were finished up I sat down at the sewing machine and whipped up a surprise for my grandmother who had been over earlier in the week and had mentioned that she could not find a toaster cover anywhere. After only an hour and a half of work I had a toaster cover that I would surprise her with on Saturday.

Dinner that night was a modern recipe of fish and chips. This consisted of cod with an almond crust and sweet potato fries. 

The meal was good but took a lot longer than I had hoped to prep and it left a mess of splattered oil on the stove. I did a decent wipe down but the stove is definitely looking forward to a thorough cleaning on Monday. 

We spent the rest of the evening indulging in one of our favorite movies from the 50s, the Seven Year Itch, as we indulged in our delicious homemade chocolate mousse.

This recipe will definitely be a keeper!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Days 12 & 13: Baking Up Some Goodies

These last 2 days have been the best 2 days of my experiment. I think we are finally finding a bit of a groove. Even the kids seem to be getting used to the routine. They know that if they wake up early that I am in cleaning mode so they lounge on the couch reading books and playing with toys. Yesterday was the first day where I had finished cleaning before lunch and I decided rather than tackling another area to thoroughly clean out I would instead work on a little baking and sewing. I got some delicious banana chocolate chip muffins baking in the oven and sat down to re-purpose an old dress into something new again.

The muffins were delicious!

I only have 2 aprons that I have been wearing and washing on repeat since starting the experiment. I have longingly eyed some adorable aprons on Pinterest and I decided this dress would make an adorable new apron. The first step was to cut the dress open up along the back seam. 

I spread the dress as flat as I could on the floor in order to plot where I would cut. I also made sure to carefully cut the zipper away from the dress. Once I seam rip the excess fabric off I will have a perfect zipper for a future sewing project. 

I then laid another apron over the dress and traced around the edges at the top. I measured from the front middle of the dress hem to the front middle of the apron hem. I then marked this measurement all the way around the dress, measuring from the hem up. I chose this method rather than tracing the existing apron as I wanted more a of a skirted apron for a dressier look. I then cut along all my lines. At this point I had to break to finish making our dinner. We had some delicious meatloaf with glazed carrots and some of my hubby's grandmother's potato salad that she had sent over. 

Yum! Once we were all well-fed, I actually indulged in a little more sewing before we sat down to some television. 

I added lace to the skirt's under layer and some bias tape around all the raw edges of the soon to be apron. I only made it half way through and decided to call it a night so I could relax with the family. 

This morning I seemed to pop out of bed (this routine is definitely becoming natural) and cooked up a nice breakfast of over-easy eggs, toast and oranges for hubby and I before a long day of snowy, cold weather. I sent the hubs off to work with a container of my fresh mini muffins for a mid-day snack and got to work on the house. Everything got dusted, all the floors got swept and the bathroom got a full wipe down as well. And I finished with 15 minutes to spare before lunch time. 

I have been busting my butt for 13 days so I decided today I would take a little break after lunch and I sat on the couch with the kiddos and we all read books. I actually finished my recently started, Heloise's Housekeeping Hints by Heloise Cruse. Despite being published in 1962, the book had a ton of great tips that I jotted down to try out! It was an easy and quick read and gave me a much better idea of the type of routine that a homemaker would have had each day. I can say, just thinking about their laundry day makes me achy and exhausted on their behalf. We have it oh so much easier nowadays. 

My doorbell rang, and I found my grandmother standing on the stoop dropping off fresh strawberries and grapes in the midst of our winter storm. I love my grandmother! I knew instantly I had to bake up something yummy to go with the strawberries. I, unfortunately, do not have an angel food cake pan so I had to settle for some pound cake. 

As the cake baked I went back to work on my soon to be apron. I finished binding the raw edges and began adding ties which I made from the cut off bits of the skirt and from some remnants in my scrap pile. The final touch was to add some pockets made from the skirt scraps and bias binding. 

I think this is going to be my new favorite apron. How could anyone feel bad in an apron as fun and flirty as this? It may even make scrubbing dishes more pleasurable . . . maybe . . .

Dinner was served up between the finishing touches. Ribs had slow cooked in the oven for nearly 3 hours todaym which was perfect for keeping our house warm and toasty as a wintry wind kept it pretty frosty outside. I served them up with some baked potatoes and more glazed carrots. 

And our dessert, absolutely divine! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Days 10 & 11: Finding a Routine

I wish I had something brilliant to share about day 10, however, I must admit that day 10 did not even feel as though it was a part of my experiment. Aside from waking up and making our breakfast, it was a very busy Sunday that found us spending most of our day away from the house. And once we were home I was pre-occupied with getting my fabric set up on the new built-in shelving unit. 

But I can say that my body seems to be falling into a routine. I did not even set an alarm for Sunday and yet I still found myself awake and shuffling to the kitchen before the rest of the household. Today seemed to secure the routine the housework may follow as I found myself repeating last Monday's tasks but at a much faster rate. Thanks to last weeks very thorough scrub down of the kitchen, I was able to complete cleaning the oven (inside and out), cleaning the counters and cabinet doors, and sweeping and mopping the floors within 2 hours. I was also able to manage all the laundry during the day as well. The upkeep of the kitchen has been most worth while, as I find myself feeling happy and relaxed in the room. I suddenly don't mind cooking or dish duty! It is also amazing to finally feel as though our space is working for us. I used to think we did not have enough counter space or cabinet space. But by simplifying what we keep and better utilizing how I store it, my kitchen seems to be more than enough for us. 

Dinner was also hitting the table shortly after hubby got home. Tonight I served up some stuffed cabbage with mashed potatoes and extra cabbage leaves on the side. 

After dinner, I scrubbed down the dirty dishes and headed upstairs to finish the set up of the new shelving unit for my future sewing room. Now I can access all my fabric without digging through bins in our storage room. Perhaps it will inspire me to finally get some projects done during any free time that I might find. 

Unfortunately, I have yet to find the time to sew anything since starting the experiment. That has been the biggest down side of the experiment. But I am still hopeful that as the housework becomes a bit easier to complete with constant upkeep that I will find more free time during the day for reading or sewing. It has also been extremely challenging the last 4 or 5 days as my youngest has been experiencing a bit of the terrible twos. There has been a lot of cleaning while holding 30 pounds on my hip which has led to some very terrible back pains. Hoping that this too will ease up in the next few days. 

On the bright side, though too drained to come up with witty things to write as I report my daily experiences, I am sleeping like a rock (a very unusual thing for this momma who used to stare at a ceiling until 3 in the morning). It is quite a good feeling to have your eyes heavy the moment your head hits the pillow and to not wake randomly through out the night. Speaking of heavy eyes . . . I am off to rest up.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Days 8 and 9

Friday was a fairly productive day, despite a few distractions that started off my day. Breakfast was a bit rushed and I fell behind in my morning to-do list due to some internet distractions but once I got going I was on a roll. I finally followed a more decent morning routine, making all the beds, dusting, and sweeping the house. I managed to do an overhaul cleaning of our living room and scrub down of our bathroom. I even did some baking using a recipe I found in a vintage Nestle advertisement.


I also managed to get dinner on the table shortly after hubby arrived home from work. We had delicious crab salad sandwiches and some mashed sweet potatoes on the side. 

It is safe to say that both recipes will be keepers. The rest of the evening was my usual "mommy break". I spent 2 hours at my favorite thrift store digging for some treasures. I found some great dresses to help me stay inspired to dress my best (and it will feel so good knowing that I did not spend more than $1.75 on any of them). I also scored a great vintage style sleeveless blouse for 75 cents. I will have to share pictures as I get to wearing them. I came home and served my congo bars for dessert as well as a Tom Collins to thank my hubby for an evening to myself! We watched two episodes of I Love Lucy for some good hearty laughs and headed to bed. 

This morning I beat my alarm to waking up and got a breakfast served before my dad arrived to help us work on our upstairs revamp! We are creating a sewing studio up there to allow me to fully indulge in my hobby. I consider myself a very, very lucky housewife! Today the goal was to finish my built in shelving for storing my large array of fabric (I love indulging in both quilting and garment sewing so there is quite a wide variety I keep on hand). 

And finish we did! I cannot wait to start arranging some fabric on there tomorrow. It has been very difficult to be sewing out of storage bins as we have been working up there. I pretty much had the day off from chores as we then ordered a lunch in for the hard work and we had plans to go out to dinner. But before dinner while the family was distracted, I did a little bit of a sewing. Nothing fun, just some mending. But to stick with the feeling of being in the decade (and to help sew through the thicker items I needed to mend), I pulled out one of a few vintage machines I love. 

This is my Singer Slant-O-Matic, and let me just say, my old machines stitch oh so beautifully. They make the straightest stitches that just cannot be matched by my modern machine and they will sew through my thickest fabrics. I used this funky lady to reapply some jersey patches that had begun to fall off. Tomorrow I hope to use her to create an extra apron or two for this week. As my cleaning routine becomes more routine, I hope to find more free time in the day to make a few attempts at sewing myself a couple of retro inspired garments to wear as well. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day 7: How Did They Do It All?!

Well it has been another red letter day for this chica. I got through the breakfast and then things came to a stand still. I know it is because I broke my new routine and took the computer out to take care of emails before evening. I have been trying so hard to keep from spending my days on devices. I completely gave up Facebook and I have been doing a quick check of emails in the morning and a more solid chunk of email time in the evening. Starting off on a bad foot made it hard to climb up out of the hole I had dug myself.

Suddenly it took me forever to get ready for the day. How is it possible to have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. I still managed to put my face on before rushing out to the grocery store but it left me having to do my hair in the afternoon. It also meant that I only briefly got to catch up with the hubby as I caught only the last 5 minutes of his lunch break. I gave myself and the kids a late lunch and then I dug an even deeper hole by checking out pinterest for apron inspiration. What was I thinking?

Okay, I know what I was thinking. I have been wearing an apron all day during the cleaning and cooking and, well, not only are my two aprons getting a bit beat up but, now it seems like a great way to accessorize. And I am really missing my time at the sewing machine. I am on day 7 and I have yet to finish my work in time for dinner and that means I have not gotten any sewing time. I am seriously hoping that next week will go better now that the house has experienced a cleaning overhaul. We shall see.

This left me with only 2 and a half hours until dinner. Luckily, dinner was another leftover. The salisbury steak my hubby loved had enough left for another dinner and lunch so I figured I would serve it up tonight since I was already in the hole. I quickly stripped all the beds in the house and got the sheets going in the wash. I then cleaned the mattresses with baking soda and a solid vacuuming. And then I forgot that I do not possess super woman strength and I began attempting to turn our king mattress. Oh boy. That one must have been quite the sight for my kids to behold. I must say, my bed cleaning routine definitely kept them entertained as they sat happily on a cloud of pillows on my bedroom floor.

While the quilts were being washed I raced to straighten the aftermath of the tornado that ripped through my living room, also known as my kids' daily play routine. I vacuumed the rug, swept the floors and got dinner into the oven to reheat right as my hubby was walking in the door. Ugh. Another day of an incomplete house. After dinner I was finally able to put beds back together. This means I have only just started to relax for the night, though it is now time to serve a dessert . . . banana splits anyone?

But, I do look forward to some free time this weekend to dive into some books from the library.

Yes, I am cuddling my pup and her long nose photobombed the pic!

I hope these books will help me have a better feel for the times and what women were going through. And seriously, how did they do it all? I am really hoping one book in particular will be helpful . . .

I only got to read 5 pages so far but I must admit . . . I totally judged this book by it's cover and expected a boring book of how to upkeep your home. But I was delightfully surprised by the writer's humor and my interest in the content. I am looking forward to getting further into this one. Maybe she will help me find some more time for sewing. Haha. While not written in the '50s, the book was published in '61 when the author was in her forties, so I have to believe that the book will have some relevant content pertaining to the '50s lifestyle. 

And finally, two books with some apron sewing projects in them. Have I mentioned lately how much I love to sew. You will hear about it more on Saturday as I complain about how much of a mess our house becomes as we continue to work on building a sewing room on our second floor! I am only going to assume that a '50s housewife may have been willing to kill for a dedicated sewing room . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 6: Accomplished and Exhausted

I am exhausted, but the good kind of exhausted. I finally finished the top to bottom kitchen cleaning. Today I took everything out of the pantry, cleaned the pantry shelves and doors and reloaded in any unexpired food. I also took the opportunity to organize it all and found I have more space than I thought I did. I even managed to have a spot for keeping the toaster so it is not sitting out on my small counter.

A drastic change from the overflowing booby trap that this once was.

I also finished up the few cabinets I did not get to yesterday. Same process. Everything out, cabinets cleaned inside and out. Then I sort through their contents deciding what we need and what we have just been hoarding away. The "needs" go back in the cabinet and the hoarded items into the donate box. My initial clean up of each room is taking a little longer than I expect normal clean ups to go (or so I hope) due to my recent reading of both of Marie Kondo's "Tidying" books. I found them to be extremely motivating and I am loving the results as I work my way through the house.

I moved on to the appliances, starting with the fridge. I pulled everything out shelf by shelf checking expiration dates. Then I pulled out the shelves themselves, disassembled them and gave them a good wash down in the sink. Our house is equipped with what I so lovingly refer to as a "mini" fridge. Our fridge seems to be apartment sized and is a funny fit for a house. In fact, it doesn't even fit in the cabinets that surround it. There are all these weird gaps around it. Clearly the kitchen was built around a larger fridge that the previous owners moved out with themselves. I actually would always complain to my hubby about this fridge but after cleaning it up and reorganizing the interior . . . it suddenly seems to be just perfect. Just right for trying to make sure that we are only buying what we need and using what we have.

Believe me . . . that bottom shelf was bathing in a beautiful puddle of my oldest's red cherry juice and a colorful mix of onion skin bits mixed with year old crumbs from random spills before I scrubbed it to perfection.

Next was a thorough cleaning of the microwave and dishwasher. I know these are not appliances that most 50's households had but I am trying to care for them as a '50s housewife would have cared for them. I actually have been hand washing my dishes, despite thinking that I would continue using the convenience of the dishwasher. I have been enjoying putting smaller loads away at a time and have also been trying to conserve our quickly dying dishwasher. But I am finding I enjoy my quiet moments in the kitchen while I hand wash. I turn on some Frank Sinatra and have a few moments to collect my thoughts after a long day. The kids seem to avoid a mom standing at the sink with dirty dishes.

The sink got scrubbed down and the cabinets were cleared off, cleaned and then reorganized to have as little as possible on them. So happy to have a designated work space now. Hopefully I will be able to keep it all this way. That will be the true test of the experiment.

See . . . not a lot of counter space but when left as bare as possible at least I am afforded some prep space.

Finally I vacuumed up all the debris from the cleaning frenzy these last 3 days and then steam mopped the whole kitchen. Yes, my steam mop will be up there with the Keurig and Crock Pot in the list of appliances I will not be sacrificing for the experiment. And with that it was dinner time and this tired housewife decided to make good use of the leftovers from the pulled pork from day 2. At least now there won't be any waste. And it was pretty good after a reheat in the oven with a little 7-up on it as a make shift marinade. Dessert will be boring as well as we are just finishing off that cake I made on day 2.

It felt good to have a significant accomplishment today. I even think I heard the appliances let out a sigh of relief today. Their crappy modern day caretaker was replaced with an experimental '50s housewife who finally removed years of grime with a strong dose of elbow grease. Who knows, maybe my dishwasher will thank me by letting me squeeze one more year of use out of it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 5: Do I Have to Talk About It?

After a grocery shopping trip this morning, it was back to attempting to get through the kitchen. Today was going to be the day that I finish getting through it and actually manage to straighten the other rooms of the house. Or it wouldn't be. But I got through all the cabinets. All that is left is the fridge and pantry (as well as a good scrub down of the microwave and dish washer). Even though my modern appliances were not something found in the typical 50's household, I still want to care for them as they would have been cared for had they been invented that early. Perhaps tomorrow will be my day of success.

After a long afternoon of cleaning, dinner was kept simple. I am now spending my evening indulging in some reading of a book my hubby picked up from the library for me, The American Dream: The 50s by the Editors of Time-Life Books. I haven't been able to put it down. It has been so interesting to read of the ups and downs of the time trying to understand what the culture would have been like. I am hoping to eventually get my hands on a women's magazine from the time to see more of how they were advertised to, and what sort of articles were being presented to them.

On the plus side, our dining room is being used more than it ever has been before. After dinner we clean the table and it seems like everyone congregates to be together, especially since we are trying to limit our TV viewing to only an hour or two before bed. Tonight I found myself reading with my youngest on my lap at one end of the table while the hubby and oldest were working away on a puzzle on the other side. It was a very peaceful way to end our day.

Things I learned today: the experiment is actually providing some good insight for all of us. As I have been cleaning through and simplifying what I keep . . . we had enough tumblers and glasses to host a banquet . . . I have noticed the rest of the family taking second looks at things that have been tucked away in closets. Today my oldest came to me with a pile of items for the donation pile. He informed me that he had duplicates of the items and asked me, "mommy, why would I need more than 1. I can keep one and someone else can have the other". Perhaps we will all take away a few lessons from the experiment!

Day 4: Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Today was the day that I think I finally found my stride in this experiment. I bounced out of bed at 7:15, still groggy but not feeling as run down as day 1. Straight to the bathroom for a dab of makeup and more in time for making our breakfast. We sat down to a light but refreshing grapefruit and coffee. I saw hubby off and turned to see both my kiddos standing in the dining room. Wow! Even they are picking up on the new schedule.

While they played in the living room, I changed my clothes and then proceeded to cover up my clothes as I was going to tackle laundry and the oven today. I was actually going to attempt to tackle the whole kitchen but let's just say, the oven kicked my butt. I am quite embarrassed to post the before picture of the inside of my oven which I have never really given a great scrub. And don't mind the baking soda covered photo. I realized I should take a photo half way in. Yes, how embarrassing. I had already scrubbed a bit of grease off of the window. It was that disgusting.

I had to break half way through as I was 2.5 hours in and had to get dinner started and lunch on the table. But after lunch I got back at it and finally saw some success about 2 more hours later. I cleaned it using only baking soda, vinegar and some scouring pads. What a difference some elbow grease and a scouring pad makes! Hopefully after another scrub next week it will be somewhere near perfect.

I managed to also clean the exterior of the oven, moved the oven and cleaned the floor under and around it and got through cleaning out half of the cabinets in the kitchen. I was able to find some unneeded items in the cabinets and got the shelves cleaned and doors washed down as well. It is nice to finally see some progress. I am hoping to finish the kitchen tomorrow. I also sincerely hope that once I get a good scrub down on everything in the house than things will move faster in the following weeks as I re-cycle through scrub downs. 

Things I learned today: scouring pads are my new best friend and that the crock pot is still one of my favorite appliances in my house (sorry I know it wasn't introduced until 1970 but it is my key to sanity on busy days). But I also learned that those headscarves women wore in the '50s were not just a hair accessory. After an hour of cleaning and fighting loose hairs that kept falling into a dirty, greasy, sudsy mess in the oven I ran and grabbed my scarf I had found at an estate sale (I think it was 50 cents or less) and tied it up around my head. Not only did it add a nice pop of color to my outfit but it saved my hair from needing to be washed before dinner time! 

I finished, folded, and put away 4 loads of laundry in between scrubbing and managed to have dinner on the table shortly after the hubby returned from work. And it was a vintage inspired meal, some delicious salisbury steak over mashed potatoes with some cheesy green bean casserole on the side. The hubby loved it so much he asked me to keep it in the rotation.

For dessert, we are going to dig into that practice cake (sorry still can't share pictures)!

Day 3: Does Valentine's Day Count?

This post will be brief, as today was Valentine's Day and I am blessed with a husband who does not believe I should have to do much on this "holiday"! We ended up taking the day very easy, watching a bit of snow fall and working on a puzzle as a family. Lunch and dinner were ordered in so I really did a whole lot of nothing towards the experiment.

I did still follow my morning routine though and I got to wear a vintage styled dress that I found at the thrift store. It was a total splurge for me at $8.00 but it was so unique I just couldn't pass it up. I actually had to look up the brand on the label to see if it was real vintage or just "imitation".  I am going to count my thrifty find as being an accomplishment towards the experiment as it means I have continued to adhere to spending as little as possible to stay within budget.

I did not slack completely though. I did make dessert using some of the reserved egg yolks from yesterday's baking marathon. Despite the failed custard attempt, I decided to try my hand at crème brûlée. We sat down to dessert, took a bite and devoured every last bit! Phew!

The crème brûlée paired with a Tom Collins nightcap was the perfect way to end our Valentine's day.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Day 2: Already Slacking

Today was not the prime of my housekeeping days. Waking up today was much easier, though it helped that it was a Saturday and I got to sleep in a bit. I got up at 9:15 and followed my new routine. Into the bathroom, hair brushed and lipstick on. I bounced straight to the kitchen where I got some coffee brewing and french toast with hash browns cooking.

The kids woke up early on their own today and were thrilled to eat a good breakfast. Though my son threw a bit of a fit over having to try sparkling fresh squeezed orange juice. Let me say that again, my son was crying about having to drink fresh-squeezed juice. He cried for his processed apple juice. One day I will remind him of this tid-bit. But it was so wonderful to all sit and start our day together.

And then, I failed on house-keeping. I got up and left the house, the kids and the dishes for the day. It started off innocently enough. I just wanted to unload the pile of donations that we had prepared as we clean out and attempt to live a little more simply here. But, when my mother and I go out we get trapped in some strange time warp . . . EVERY time! I don't know where 4 hours went but I got home much later than I wanted to. So cleaning did not happen again.

But I got back on schedule and started to bake a practice cake for a shower that my mother and I are throwing in a few months. Easy right? And not really 1950's related aside from perhaps the do-it-yourself aspect. But after separating egg whites for the cake batter, I looked down at the yolks that I was about to just toss (yes, modern me would have tossed them). Ugh, just admitting my wastefulness on the internet is making me blush a bit. But thinking of the few things I have gotten to read up to this point about the era, I knew a 50's housewife would have used every bit of that egg. In fact, now that I think of it, perhaps I should have saved those egg shells and seen what I could do with those as well. I will improve with time, I swear. In any case, as my cake baked I started looking up recipes to use with the egg yolks. Once the cake was out and cooling, I had some egg custard baking away in the oven.

In the end I spent 8 hours working on the practice cake. Nothing really exciting there, especially since I cannot even share the pictures of it. Just a picture of my practice fondant flower.

It turned out beautifully but it is going to be a surprise for the shower. Thank you to a modern convenience that I refuse to give up for the experiment, I was able to still have a dinner on the table amongst all the baking. I love you, Crock Pot! It wasn't an old fashioned meal, but a good housewife would use up all she had without wasting. So it was pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw and roasted potato wedges The potatoes were my substitute for french fries since I am going to try not to buy prepared foods for the experiment, aside from snacks and such for the kids (baby steps here . . . I am not that good of a housewife)!

Putting the fondant on the cake took much longer than I had hoped (I did make the fondant from scratch though)! We ended up not having much of a night since I finished the cake just before 11:30 and needed to get to bed. But we had just enough time for a night cap. Hubby greatly enjoyed a Gin Rickey and I have found a new drink of choice, a Cuba Libre.

We dipped into our fresh egg custard and quickly dumped the remaining bit in the garbage.

I somehow managed to screw up the custard and had a chunky yet milky mixture that just left us gagging. I froze the remaining egg yolks from the cake so I will try again another time.

There certainly was no problem falling asleep after all the baking though!