Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Keeping House Like Mama Did

Bette -- 1923

Bette and Pat -- 1940's

Meet my mama.  She was born in San Antonio,  Texas in 1923 to Madge and Jim Davis and lived there all her life until 1990 when she and my dad relocated to Ft. Worth with us.  My mama was a driving force in my life.  I was an only child so I had her undivided attention -- sometimes not such a good thing! However, I pretty much adored her and decided early on the best way to do things was her way -- she seemed to accomplish so much with what seemed like so little effort.

We lived in a small house so the caretaking wasn't as laborious as it is today in McMansions.  Also, my dad worked from 3 p.m. until midnight and she couldn't sleep if he wasn't home so she spent her days with me and then after I was asleep she would do the housework.  Our house was always squeaky clean and smelled of bleach and Lysol.  I know now that probably wasn't great with the chemicals and all but it always felt so clean.  She didn't have a particular routine that I know of -- she just cleaned up all the time! I remember her cleaning up before we went to bed -- I asked her why -- she said that way she didn't have to get up to a messy house.  Made sense.  Wish I could do it. Our house was always really clean, my mother wasn't frantic and overworked and I don't know how she did it -- must have been magic.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was cleaning house.  When we were first married and I was working I had a routine.  We also had a small house and it was so easy to get things done.  Somehow, along the way, the routines have been lost and I am now more of a "I clean it when I see it" sort of gal.  I don't like that -- maybe I should try to re-establish those routines of early marriage.  My house is much bigger now -- it is harder to clean -- too much floor to mop -- too tiring.  I think the folks on the minimalist/smaller house (not TINY house, oh no) have it correct.  I even read an article in the San Antonio newspaper that the neighborhoods that were made up of mid-century houses are booming again after a period of decline.  People are flocking to them and refurbishing them because they like the lower ceilings and the closed floor plans.  I can understand that.  I think those mid-century houses were easier to keep.  I digress.

I think that my mother had the right idea about cleaning.  It isn't something you can ever finish -- it is an ongoing process and I think  where I personally get bogged down is thinking that I am going to clean house all in a day (not going to happen) and then it will be done.  It won't be done.  It will never all be done -- at least for very long -- and so I think an attitude adjustment is in order.  I read this on Rhonda's blog "Down to Earth" and she is right -- quit trying to "finish the housework" -- there is no such thing.

Today is grocery shopping day for me.  Again, a departure from my youthful routine when I would grocery shop on the same day of the week.  I was much better at it when I was young -- now I just sort of go when there isn't anything in the house to eat.  That is not good.

So, I decided to take a step back in time and look at how my mother did it.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my mother grocery shopped every two weeks and she didn't really plan meals -- as in sitting down and writing out menus.  What she did was go to the meat counter and buy enough meat for two weeks.  She hit the produce for whatever produce she was going to buy for the two weeks that would stay fresh.  She did the same with the canned goods, frozen things and starchy items like rice and noodles and such.  She made sure she had enough for two weeks -- like two cans of green beans and maybe a big bag of fresh carrots.  I have decided that is how I am going to approach the grocery shopping this week.  To me that is easier than sitting down and trying to plan meals because when I try to do that all I can think of is tacos and then I go brain dead.  So, I think if I have the ingredients in the house for a decent number of meals then I can move forward and not be so intimidated by dinner!

I have been doing a sugar detox -- fancy talk for "dumping the sugar cold turkey".  It is going well.  I am tackling any "added" sugar, like cookies and ice cream and stuff like that head on and then I am trying to cook more from scratch so I know what is in the food.  I have had a couple of interesting meals that Hubs actually ate.  Now, he didn't say he liked them but he ate them.

Night before last I had pesto chicken with spaghetti squash and a wedge salad.  I don't like blue cheese but Hubs does so if I take some lettuce and dump some blue cheese dressing and some crumbles on it he is happy.  It turned out ok except my chicken was tough.  I hate tough chicken.

Last night I had pork chops with onions and apples cooked in the crock pot.  I pan fried some sweet potatoes and had some green beans.  It was pretty good and I have figured out that I like the plain, old, bone in pork chops better than those thick, butterflied ones that are so popular these days.  He ate all of it and I am finding that he does better at eating my dinners when I don't try to make portions big enough to feed a farmer or somebody who does lots of physical labor.  I think I am getting the hang of it.

Tonight I am having those tacos.  I have developed a recipe for crock pot taco meat that I am going to start in a little while.  I am going to make mexican rice so I can reheat it later and then mix up my salad.  Then, when we get home from babysitting I will be done and it will be ready.

I guess I should take pictures of the food, shouldn't I?  I will try to remember.

So, that is what is occupying my thoughts today.