Monday, March 14, 2016

Days 26-31: The Lost Week

It is no exaggeration, this was the week that wasn't. It was terribly depressing to sit down tonight and realize that an entire week has passed by with nothing going on, but that is exactly what happens when you and your children are brought down by a very snotty virus. Tuesday and Wednesday were the worst for my youngest, while myself and my oldest crashed hard Thursday through Saturday. This meant very little got done through out the week aside from top cleaning. I carried on with the top cleaning and weekly grocery shopping but Friday found me unable to leave the couch. Despite this, I did follow the one thing I knew I probably should . . . I got dressed and put on a bit of makeup. I must admit, it did at least help make me feel a bit less disgusting. I knew that I, at least, wouldn't die of embarrassment should a neighbor ring the bell. I also insisted on still cooking every night. I figured it was important that our family at least still be eating healthy, home-cooked food.

Tuesday night I whipped up some Pork Chops Supreme, some lemon buttered potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. All three were recipes from the 1956 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book. So far that cook book has been the best $1.49 I have spent at a thrift store!

Wednesday I managed to roast a whole chicken and just whipped up some glazed carrots and sweet corn to accompany it. Again, I followed the recipe for roasting a chicken in my new, yet old, cookbook.

Thursday I cooked up some old-fashioned patty melts with some roasted potato wedges. This recipe will be another definite keeper.

Friday I made baked tilapia covered in lemon butter sauce. On the sides were reheated lemon butter potatoes, as well as the leftover glazed carrots and the sweet corn. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are being much more careful about being sure to use up all of our leftovers.

Despite still being sick, I hosted a dinner for my brothers on Saturday but in the hustle of the dinner, I forgot to take any photos. But I once again made spaghetti and meatballs, and a cheesecake for dessert. Today the kids seemed to relapse so our day was far from glamorous or relaxing. We just tried to get by. In fact, due to caring for and calming them down, my husband and I did not even sit down to eat until nearly 10 o'clock. But I still made sure to offer a decent Sunday feast of Texas Barbecued Ribs and baked potato. For the salad I used leftover veggies from a veggie tray I had out as an appetizer the night before. 

I am looking forward to starting a new week tomorrow. I hope to get back on track with the experiment and to get back to some of my projects . . . like the dress I started not too long ago. And if the kids are a little more independent this week I can collect some of my thoughts on how the experiment is affecting our family!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Days 24 & 25: One Handed Cleaning

Yesterday was a relatively quiet day for us. After breakfast we worked on painting our upstairs as part of the remodeling project. That took about our entire day. But late in the afternoon I got to work on a spaghetti and meatball recipe from the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book that I had thrifted last weekend.

I am going to be honest, I really wasn't expecting much from this meal. But we were all blown away! 

The recipe will definitely be a keeper, in fact, I will be making it again on Saturday for a little dinner party we will be hosting. Let's hope it will turn out just as good the second time around!

I also attempted a Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert.

But, let's just say, you can't win them all.

Luckily, we were all so stuffed from the dinner we didn't mind missing out on dessert.

Unfortunately, the night went as well as the mud pie. My poor little girl was up all night coughing and crying. We were on our way to the rock bottom point of this cold and we hit it as the alarm went off this morning. I think I spent about 6 hours holding my daughter while hubby was at work. I would have done anything to take her pain away today. Somehow I managed to top clean while holding her and during her 1 good hour today, I scrubbed the oven. I also managed to wash the germs out of all of our bedding. To be honest, the day is now a blur and I am still not sure how we got through. 

Thank goodness for my hubby's grandmother's chicken soup! She always keeps a frozen container filled for me. It was perfect for this hectic and miserable day. 

I wish I was feeling more inspired to write something exciting and interesting about the experiment but I am holding one boogery coughing baby while my husband is aiding my oldest as he gets sick in our bathroom. I wouldn't hold your breath for any exciting revelations about this experiment this week. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Days 20, 21, 22 & 23: A New Adventure and a Cold

Wednesday was the first good day of our week. My daughter was finally in a good mood and we seemed to be off to a great start. I even was motivated enough to make some french toast instead of the usual eggs for breakfast.

After breakfast, I did my top cleaning and scrubbed down the cabinets. Lunch was served and the I started my new adventure. I am fairly experienced at the sewing machine. I am an avid quilter and I love sewing dresses and tops for my daughter. But I have only ever made myself one top. I am intimidated by sewing clothes for myself. But after reading that women who sewed would create an average of 21 to 29 outfits for themselves in a year, I knew I had to face my fears. I was not kidding when I said I would try to create 2 outfits a month during the experiment. 

Luckily, my confidence was boosted when I found a wonderful sew-along for the dress I have been itching to make. Edelweiss Patterns had previously hosted a sew-along that included a very detailed post about adjusting the pattern to fit your body (my number one problem when sewing for myself). So I began following along.

Once I was fairly confident in the fit of my pattern, I was ready to select some fabric. Being extremely economical, both in real life and in my experiment . . . I turned to my pile of thrifted fabric. This pile includes everything from large housecoats, bed sheets, curtains, and tablecloths to fabric yardage. Most of my piles has been items I have gotten for a dollar or less with only truly vintage sheets being splurged on (i.e. $5.00 or less). I came out with 2 bed sheets that seemed like they would work well together. 

I was able to get the fabric cut out but then it was time to finish making dinner. We had my husband's new favorite; Salisbury steak and his favorite green bean casserole. I could see the delight in his eyes when he peered into the oven and said, "is that what I think it is?". 

After dinner, I had to do some work upstairs to prep for our next weekend of remodeling but afterwards we relaxed with a nightcap before bed; Clover Clubs.

Waking up Thursday, I was still feeling quite good about the day before. Unfortunately, this day would not prove to be as fruitful. I thought I would be productive; I thought I would even clean out the fridge again. But, before I knew it I was racing to have the house cleaned before my hubby got home for lunch. I blame the pattern sale at Hancock Fabric's. I had been avoiding the computer during the day but when I got notification of the sale I just couldn't let that kind of discount pass me by. Plus, I am supposed to be sewing my own clothes anyway . . . 

Well, long story short, as soon as lunch was over, I was setting up my machine and getting started putting my walk away dress together. It was my first time sewing darts but it was easier than I expected it to be. Even with the constant interruptions from the kiddos. 

Look at that, it is starting to looks like a dress. I was able to get the rest of the darts and the two pieces of the dress sewn together while holding my littlest just before it was time to start dinner. 

Yay! So happy it is coming together. I am now letting the dress hang for 3 days, as Edelweiss Patterns had advised that all good seamstresses do. This is to let things settle and stretch to prevent warping after hemming. It is hard to be patient and not go running back to finish. Dinner that night was a Bacon and Ranch Chicken Casserole. 

It was delicious and I was told by both my husband and son that the recipe must be a keeper. I then spent the entire rest of my night working on my grocery list. As per the tips in my new, yet very old Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, I was to check the sales and plan my meals accordingly. 

Remember that awesome thrift store find? Well worth it for the amazing vintage pictures and the housekeeping hints that take up a good chunk of the book. I flipped through the stores ad, keeping a note page of all the specials. Then I proceeded to flip through both old and new recipes. I will be making a mix of both this week. I again was going to attempt one shopping trip for the entire week to see if it would be more cost effective. I then wrote out all that I would need and after 3 hours of work, went to bed. 

The next morning, I woke to a sick little girl coughing and sneezing. Despite her running nose, she seemed quite determined to continue on so I decided to go ahead with the grocery shopping. I was thrilled in the end that my 3 hours of careful planning actually paid off. I saved a very significant 60 dollars over my typical weekly spend before this project began. I was floating on a cloud. I had even splurged and bought 2 new lip sticks and a small toy for both kiddos since they were so well behaved. 

Once home, I managed to serve up lunch, top clean the house and scrub down the bathroom all while holding my sweet, but now miserable little one. After cuddling her into a sound nap, I decided I had thoroughly enjoyed the pattern adjusting from earlier in the week so figured I would give myself an even harder challenge. I am going to attempt to create a waist cincher similar to those that would have been worn in the 50's. I dug out the Simplicity 1183 Corset pattern from my pile of patterns that I have bought at the $1.99 sales over the last year and half. And I got to work adjusting on the dress form. 

I got through adjusting the paper pattern and then had to get dinner going. We had some awesome tuna melts, with salad and roasted asparagus.

Then we headed to the basement and worked on cleaning up our lower level of living space. Our main floor has been looking great but I knew the toy room, family room and our storage spaces had been pretty neglected. We got some piles of garbage out, boxed up quite a bit for donating and then headed to bed. 

Today was one of those rare Saturdays that we have to ourselves. We woke up later than we should have and I got to work on pancakes and bacon. After breakfast we all washed up and piled the car full of the donations we had gathered up in the basement. Off to the thrift store we went. After dropping the donations off, we stepped into the store to see if any fun treasures might be waiting for us. I was thrilled to find that they had a freshly stocked fabric section. I found quite a bit of great fabrics for some of the patterns I had just bought on sale. And my kids were thrilled to find treasures of their own. They had done a great job of donating themselves, so I was more than happy to indulge them in some toy cars, a brand new looking Disney Sofia the First Singing Doll and light up Tinkerbell wings for dressing up. And thanks to also being able to use a great coupon, we spent a whopping $16 and walked out with a huge bag of fabric and their toys. 

When we got home we spent more time on our basement. My husband finished cleaning up his work room and I was working on cleaning up our laundry/kitchen storage area. For all the hard work we decided to make dinner easy and fun for the kids. So we grabbed McDonald's! My kids love happy meals but we only get them every once in a blue moon as a special treat. Hey . . . McDonald's was just starting in the 50's so what could be better for a drive thru meal?!

We finished the night with a scoop of ice cream floating in some bubbly root beer! At this rate I will most definitely be needing a waist cincher! Hehe.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Day 18 & 19: I Need a Drink

Well Monday morning it was back to the grind. And the grind was awaiting me earlier than usual as my hubby had to be at work for an early morning meeting. I can't believe I actually was able to pop out of bed even earlier on a Monday, but I did it. It wasn't very graceful, but I did it. Breakfast was cereal instead of eggs or pancakes and I couldn't even stand up to lock the door for him as he left, but the point was, I was up and there for him.

As the sun started to seep into the house I found myself feeling more energized and soon I was back at my normal pace. The stove got it's 3rd scrub down since we started this experiment and the house got a full dose of top cleaning as well as floor mopping. I think the house sort of twinkled with pleasure on Monday. And in the midst of my cleaning high, the tantrums began. Yes, we are quickly rounding the curve into terrible two territory and it has hit me harder than a sucker punch in the gut.

Alone in the laundry room, I found myself going over pep talks in my head as I made my way through the mountains of laundry (Monday is wash day). The sounds of my daughter screaming and shaking the baby gate as if she were going to break it down followed me down the basement steps. It was quite possibly the longest day I have ever lived.

But I am now a firm believer in miracles. Because around 3 in the afternoon, my prayers were answered and she actually fell asleep for an afternoon nap. Okay, maybe it wasn't actually a miracle and was merely the exhaustion that must follow the excruciating work of ridding your body of all of it's water by way of one's tear ducts, but she was asleep and there was silence . . . for TWO whole hours!

I quickly grabbed my son and pulled him into the kitchen where he would be well out of ear shot of his sister. I am so lucky that he loves to work with me. I set us up and we got to work in the kitchen as I started teaching him how to bake. We started with a recipe from 1950 for a Mayonnaise cake and finished up with my son's favorite treat, Banana Muffins with a hint of chocolate chip. It was the exact medicine for an exhausted and utterly frustrated mom. Watching my little guy kneeling on the floor in front of the warm oven growing more and more excited as his muffins rose in front of his eyes was priceless.

We were even able to start the dinner in peace but my little pistol was up as soon as that dish hit the oven rack. At least I got all the cooking done! Dinner was a delicious Shepard's Pie. The evening flew by as everyone seemed to be more relaxed and happy and before I knew it, the alarm was going off again this morning. Time really flies when all is peaceful.

The morning was actually quite enjoyable compared to yesterday. I took my time, flipped through some books and got to work on top cleaning. The house was still in pretty good shape from yesterday's cleaning. Granted, the cabinets are finally showing some dirty spots, but I figured putting that off one day wouldn't kill anyone. Ladies of the 50's must have taken some time for themselves, right?! 

And that is what I wanted to do with my day. I have been missing sewing as much as I used to so I got to work re-purposing one more too small dress into an apron.

It is going to be so nice to have a few frillier aprons to wear as I work. There is something about dressing a little bit nicer that makes things feel a bit better. Even if you are just scrubbing down your bathroom. 

And seriously, why aren't aprons still as popular as they were back then? Can I just say, since wearing an apron during my cooking and cleaning, I have not had any grease stains on my clothes! We are certainly a culture that loves fashion and expressing ourselves through our dress, why don't we try to protect them? On second thought, what a silly question this must be. In a world of fast fashion, no one truly values the outfit they are wearing. They can just replace it if it is ruined. In fact, in 2 months it will be out of style and they will be donating it anyhow. But I digress. 

Back to my day . . . dinner was an easy meal today as we had a bit of snow and I knew hubby would have to shovel before he lost the daylight. So I waited to cook the meal until he actually arrived home and I made a homemade mac n cheese with a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. It was an easy make and I got to work on it while watching my kids running around and throwing snowballs at my hubby. 

After our dinner we tried to relax but my littlest was in tantrum mode again and we spent most of the evening trying to get her to relax. Our efforts paid off but I am exhausted and now trapped under a sleeping beauty. But as my mind cleared, I was able to write a somewhat coherent post and my hubby has offered to make me another malted milkshake to take the edge off of the last two days. I'm going to go sip on some ice creamy goodness. But I promise to try to take a more adventurous stab at the 50's lifestyle in the next few days!