But I’m Not a Housewife!

Domestic Bliss, Eventually

Archive for April, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Wow! I blink my eyes and weeks have passed since I last posted. It’s been so long that I’ve begun to develop anxiety about posting again. It all started when I worked some extra hours at work. Then we acquired ants in the kitchen and I was battling them for days! Then the weather was bad here in Denver, a snow storm that cut out our Internet for a couple of days. Then, I started to develop carpal tunnel like pain in my arm and gave up knitting and typing for a while. Then there was the funk I was in. I get those from time to time. Finally, my husband bought me a terrific book (which I’ll post about soon) which inspired me to go to the library and bring home a giant stack of books to read…instead of writing myself.

Well, I think those are all the reasons for my absence. Since I’ve been gone, we’ve been doing some exciting things, though.We are still trying new grains and new greens in the kitchen. I wish I could say that my house was getting cleaned and organized during this time, but it’s been two steps forward, one step back with that area of my life. We invited friends over to grill with us and I cleaned voraciously. I managed to get through a very, very large pile of mail that has plagued our dining room, organized and stack them neatly in a box that could be hidden away when company comes, but when I lifted the box a day later, the bottom fell out and the mail is now in a nasty heap on the floor of the sun room. But, I’m making an effort, and that’s all I can do really. Move forward one step at a time. 

There is another excitement in my house these days. We are growing heirloom vegetables from seed and our seedlings are sprouting and growing strong! My husband and I literally sit and stare at them, maybe not for hours, but for a surprisingly long time! 

So, there you have it. I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long. I’ll try to catch up. Pictures of things we’ve cooked, the book Tim bought me, and the seedling we are growing are forthcoming.

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Marriage Monday: Do I Spend Too Much Time With My Husband?

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First of all, don’t laugh at this picture! I’ve been meaning to start writing a marriage column on Mondays for weeks now and I was dying to have a sort of logo for it. Not wanting to worry about copyright laws, I decided to use a picture of my husband and me, and this was the only one I could find on short notice. It was the first photo ever taken of the two of us, when we were dating. It was also the onset of us spending all of our time together.

On with the post. Some people, such as Darla Shine in her book Happy Housewives, suggest that it is unhealthy to spend all your time with your husband. I suppose some couples would go insane if they didn’t have their “guy time” and “girl time” respectively. But that type of genderization of activities is something my husband and I don’t really buy into. Well, to a certain extent. Yes I do enjoy sewing and knitting and watching “Chick flicks” (that even I roll my eyes at but still want to watch) but my husband doesn’t really do much that requires that he hang out with “the guys” without their spouses. He doesn’t hunt, fish, camp, mountain climb, watch or play sports, or even really get into video games, (and he doesn’t need to be out at bars trying to feel like a single guy and flirting with other women). Besides, on the occasions he does do any of those things, he would rather have me there too! 

The only time we really go out is with our favorite local couple. We either have dinner and play cards at their house or we actually go to a bar where we compete in a weekly pub quiz. (We often place in the top three, sometimes even get first place. Yes, I guess we’re dorks.) The husband in that couple watches March Madness, but he doesn’t do it with my husband, he does it at home with his wife, who is probably making jewelry in the same room. Meanwhile we are at our own house watching DVDs we’ve rented from the library, such as Globe Trekker and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Sometimes I’m knitting and he’s reading the Sunday or Wednesay New York Times. We make dinner together. We eat together. We used to go to the gym together, but I’ve stopped going. See? We do have some “girl things” and “guy things” that we enjoy, but we can usually be together while doing them.

Then there are weekends. The particular day that I conceived of this post, we had spent the entire day exploring Denver together. We had brunch somewhere, roamed some old book and antique stores for hours, got some amazing deals on work-pants at Goodwill (seriously), ate ate a fun bar, while looking at some of the books we bought, went to a movie, and went home to do lie on the couch together. It was right after this lovely day that I read the segment in Darla Shine’s book about being closer with your girlfriends than your husband. Now, she didn’t write it without a lot of thought:

I’ve been sitting here thinking for a few minutes about how I should write this step. I think it’s a very important step, and I want to make sure you don’t take it the wrong way…so, here it goes…

Your husband should not be your best friend. He’s your husband, and obviously you should have a very deep bond with him, but you absolutely must have another outlet in your life. You’ll never be a happy housewife if you wrap your identity entirely around your husband and children. 

(And somewhere in the book she says the only thing she really needs her husband for is sex and that’s about it. When I find it I’ll edit it into this post.)

I know my regular readers must think I really have it out for Darla, and I don’t! It’s just that I’m a very critical thinker and I don’t like over simplified generalizations that are not thought through. 

Some of what she said above is true, we should maintain and nurture our female friendships, especially when we become mothers, but what if your husband is your best friend? What if you really do enjoy doing everything together? My sister recently told me that on Saturdays the whole family likes to go grocery shopping together. She, her husband and all four kids. And they really enjoy it, gasp! Now, I do believe that if you spend 24 hours a day with anybody, you’re going to get fed up with them for a bit, but the truth is, I can stand my husband a lot longer than I can stand most other people, and he has said the same thing about me. 

Now, a couple of weeks ago, I did have a girl’s night. One of the girls’ husband and daughter were away for the night, so we stayed up late and had a kitchen dance party. We played disco and hip hop and danced like crazy (while drinking a few cocktails) and we marveled about how this was more fun that we ever had as single women out at bars. But, the truth is, we often have dance parties when our husbands are around, after we get fed up with playing cards. Sometimes we can get them to join us in the kitchen, being silly and dancing, other times they are in the living room playing Wii

I know this type of life isn’t for everyone, and if you bicker a lot with your husband, you may need some time apart. (But, I think all that bickering is a separate issue.) And, if you are spending that time with your girlfriends trashing your husband, you are doing your relationship more harm than good.

Okay, I have tons more to say about this subject. but I’ll leave it here for now. 

Tell me, do I spend too much time with my spouse? Do you?

For Those Who Have Everything (And Need To Keep It All Organized)

Have you heard of Blis (Best Life Information System)? If you are a reader of I’m an Organizing Junkie, you probably have (I think I found out about it by clicking on an icon on that blog). It’s a database to organize every single aspect of your life. According to the website:

BLIS is organized into 7 thoughtful sections: calendar, to do & to plan, home, health, activities, my choice, and address book. The web pages print easily to beautifully pre-designed pages; perfect for saving hard copies in the stylish leather bound binder. 

You can view the demo here.

I think it looks really cool, but I can’t believe how expensive it is! I guess I would expect it to have a one time fee of $125, like most software, not a yearly fee. What happens when you can’t pay that anymore? Do you lose everything you’ve saved?

I just don’t think I can afford something like that… (*Sniff*)

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Love it! For Writers Who Use Macs…

 

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I’m telling you about my new word processor, Scrivener, not because I’m being paid to (I’m not) but because it’s an awesome product and I have writer friends with Macs who might be interested in it (you know who you are). It is amazing and cheap at only $40. I’m still using my free 30 day trial (which only counts down on the days you actually use it, and therefore lasts a long time), but I will definitely save up to buy it when that is done. The reason I’m in love with it, is that I can save what would normally be many separate files in Word or Pages, all together. I can then work on one piece at a time or link them all together. 

Another great feature is that you can view the synopses of each of those pieces like index cards on a bulletin board, and then move them around like you would in real life. Isn’t that cute?!

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I’m totally, totally in love with it. I’d love to hear from other people who have tried it too. If you are at all interested in it, check out this video preview of Scrivener. Do it!

The Real Rules For Girls

The Real Rules For Girls

I may have mentioned before that I worry about teenage girls these days, what with half naked women on every billboard, the Pussycat Dolls being marketed to elementary school kids, and Girls Gone Wild commercials every other second on a popular cable channel – one that bleeps out bad words but advertises that young college girls should be naked and gyrating all over each other on camera if they wanna be normal (that would be Comedy Central, in case you weren’t sure). Ugh, I could go on, and on, but what would be the point? The bottom line is it was hard enough when I had to go through it; I can’t even imagine what it’s like to grow up a girl today.

So, to be honest, I obsess about what all this media does to the minds of young girls, to the point that I read stacks of YA (Young Adult) novels with a secret hope that there will be something in them to assuage my concern, some kind of magic advice that will get them through puberty and young adulthood with their inner-selves unscathed.

That in mind, I picked up this book at my local library and enjoyed it cover to cover one evening. It ain’t perfect, but it’s got a lot of good advice in it about overcoming shyness and being in control. My favorite parts are the ones that insist that you won’t want to know, much less, date the popular football star when you’re an adult, and that your first boyfriend is really just for practice. 

Your first boyfriend should be like the first pancake, just a tester to see if the griddle is hot enough.

One more pearl:

Don’t whine. Whining’s for those who can’t ask for what they want.

I wish I had learned to ask for what I want at an earlier age – in all areas of life.

P.S. I didn’t even know that Courteney Cox Arquette wrote the foreward to this book, as my copy came from the library and that is where the library puts it’s branch sticker.

Recipe: Beet Salad With Kidney Beans and Romaine Lettuce


Beet Salad1

As promised, here is the recipe for the roasted beet salad that my husband and I ate a couple of times for lunch last week. The beets were based on Mark Bittlman’s recipe, which he shares in a video: Beet Salad With Garlic Walnut Sauce, and in and article:  A Divorce for Beets And Goat Cheese .

Bittman’s Recipe:

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)

2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Beet Salad 3

I followed his recipe (without using measurments) until I got to the orange juice part – I had unwittingly drank the last of our orange juice that morning, so I used a splash of white wine vinegar, and some of that fig flavored basalmic vinegar that I used for my Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad the other day. I just kept adding olive oil and the two vinegars until it tasted right and there seemed to be enough of it to cover the beets. Next time I’ll add the walnuts last though, because it turned out a lot more nut-buttery than I would have liked. 

Meanwhile, I was also baking sliced whole wheat pitas with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. These turned out great. They are nice served warm and chewy, or baked until crisp, like the ones you buy at the store.

To assemble the salad, I mixed up a regular vinaigrette in a cup, with a fork (this contains about 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar, in this case white wine vinegar, salt and pepper or cayenne), and tossed it with the chopped romaine lettuce. Then I added a layer each of kidney beans and beet salad. It may sound like a lot of work for a salad, but I kept the beets in a tupperware and we ate it for lunch several times. I must say, I was pretty proud of myself for throwing this together while my husband was napping, and then for having it ready to assemble the next day when he unexpectedly came home for lunch! Go Jess!

Beet Salad