But I’m Not a Housewife!

Domestic Bliss, Eventually

Archive for Life

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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I Feel So Lazy Today

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This picture is an illustration of the kind of week it has been. Tim is post-call today and is napping; Casey is always napping; I’m trying to get something productive done today, but can’t seem to get out of my pajamas. 

Today is the kind of day where you feel dirty even though you’ve actually managed to shower. Actually, it’s been a real effort to shower lately. While usually, I crawl out of my skin if I don’t manage to shower by 10 AM, lately, I’ve been disinterested in the whole process. But, I did manage to shower today, and I still feel gross! My hair feels limp and yucky. I’m too fat for all of my clothes and can’t stand wearing the one pair of jeans which actually fit me because they need to be washed. I feel frumpy and dumpy – I guess this is a call to start integrating exercise and healthy eating into my life. 

As for integrating productivity into the rest of today, I’ll spend it making plans for the rest of my week – see, I have the luxury of a spring break since I’m a teacher, but somehow it’s Tuesday already, and I’ve done almost nothing I’d hoped to do. I’d like to blame it on the weather and the flat tire I got last week, but I’m sure it’s really just laziness. (I haven’t even managed to post the recipe for the beet salad I wrote about last week, and all I really need to do is post a link to the New York Times page which it’s on.)

At the moment, I’m taking a break from washing dishes (while those in the tiny dish drainer are drying), watching Disney’s The Rescuers, and trying to interest myself in making lists. I’ve never been a good list-maker – just like I’ve never been a good diary-writer – but I think the reason I never get anything done is because I do nothing for a long time (days, weeks), and then want to do everything I’m not doing all at once. Like now: I simultaneously want to learn to cook, clean my house, finish my lesson plans early, exercise, eat more healthfully, and lose weight. Plus, my husband and I want to start a container garden this year. So, what I end up doing is picking up fifty books from the library on all of these subjects and then perusing them until I’ve lost all motivation to do any of these things (since you may not believe me about the quantity of books, I’ll try to post an actual picture of all the books I have out from the library tomorrow – if I can get off my butt). 

Alrighty then! I shall spend the rest of the evening making lists and dividing goals into doable steps. We’ll see how it goes!

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(P.S. My husband is not very happy that I posted these pics. But my snoozing lads are soooo cute!)


A Tasty Salad and A Very Good Day

Today is shaping up to be a very good day despite the fact that we had a spring snow storm yesterday, and the day before I got another flat tire! 

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Digression: This is the third flat tire in about two months! It started the week after my crazy neighbor yelled at me early one morning for parking in front of his house. The entire street is mostly empty; this is not one of those neighborhoods in which you have to search for parking everyday. But he “didn’t understand why we would be so inconsiderate as to park in front of his house and trample on his lawn.” (You know that strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the curb? We are so inconsiderate!) That particular morning, although there had been snow on the ground for several days, it being winter still, his gardener was about to arrive and would have no where to park his truck. What!? Apparently, this was some special gardening/watering service. Yet, what were they going to water in the winter!? “And besides,” he continued to yell, “when his friends come to visit, they don’t know where to park (because apparently they can’t figure out that the opposite side of the street is completely empty).” 

So, as I wrote previously, after that incident, I had a flat tire on my way to work which was so bad that I had to buy new tires. Then my husband got a flat tire, but was able to add air and the tire was okay. Then I got another one! and am crossing my fingers that I don’t need to buy new tires. Argh! Either our psycho neighbor is harassing us, or there are neighborhood hooligans vandalizing us, or, as my other neighbor suggested, “maybe it’s just a string of unfortunate circumstances.” Translation: The universe is out to get us.

Back to today: It has been a good day! Tim got to come home between clinics to work-out and eat lunch, and I made a gorgeous and tasty salad in continuation of my Mark Bittman inspired cooking streak.

Here is a preview of the salad (I’ll post the recipe and all that tomorrow):

Salad With Garlic Walnut Beets

Please Allow Me to Improvise

Well pat me on the back and call me a Rockstar, I made a kick-ass breakfast this morning:

Wheat Berry Breakfast

My husband has been raving about the merits of wheat berries in the morning and lamenting the fact that I haven’t eaten any of the large Tupperware-full of cooked wheat berries in the fridge. Every morning he has been filling up a large coffee mug full of wheat berries with milk and honey, or with Kefir, and the addition of  raisins and walnuts as the mood strikes, to eat in the car on the way to work. The first time he made them, he made way  too many (which I think everybody does the first time because they swell up so much) and they weren’t cooked quite enough. And because they weren’t cooked enough, they had too strong of a wheat flavor for me. They were chokingly strong – made my throat clench up!

But, he did a second batch and I’ve been meaning for days to make a Waldorf salad with them – like we used to buy prepared at the New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City. I was already well into the production of the salad, having chopped an apple, a pear, and a stalk of celery, when I realized that all the raisins and walnuts were gone. Bummed, I Googled some Waldorf salad recipes anyway, to see what to mix with mayonaise for the dressing. Hmm, it seemed I would need either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, neither of which I had. 

This is when I remembered the fancy, fig vinegar I had bought at a gourmet food store once for Tim’s birthday (with a bunch of other stuff, because he loves to cook and try new things, but which he has never used). 

Fig Vinegar

One whiff of it and knew that it would have enough sweetness and interesting flavor to make up for the lack of raisins. I whisked some with mayo, in a cup with a fork, tasted it, and was sold.

Mixing the Dressing

Dressing

It may need improvement, but it’s a pretty darn good salad and I’m proud of myself for not giving up in the kitchen. It’s been awhile since I’ve made anything other than fried egg sandwiches and instant oatmeal for breakfast, or any other meal for that matter! I’m so proud of myself, in fact, that I’ve made a new category for my posts: Courage in the Kitchen.

Below is a taste of what’s to come tomorrow: I’m finally gonna post my review of Happy Housewives.

Bon Appetit!

Bon Appetit!

Size Matters, Part One: The Living Room

Today I’m posting some candid photos that cen help to explain my recent discouragement with keeping my house clean. Below is a picture of the townhouse I lived in last year. That was the giant living room. To the left of the photo was the front door, the TV surounded by built in cabinets and a fireplace. I got used to keeping it clean when our landlords put the house up for sale and started showing it regularly. There was so much storage in that house and it was brand new so it was easy to hide all of the junk and keep it sparkling clean.

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There was enough room, not only for coffee tables, but for the dining room table as well! (Don’t fret too much, we do have small dining room now.)

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But we weren’t ready to buy when they put it on the market (and didn’t really want to buy in that neighborhood anyway), so we had to move out. We decided to move across town to an older neighborhood instead of staying in the suburb that we were in. We fell in love with this older neighborhood with it’s Victorian houses, and loved it so much that we were willing to give up space, storage, and most difficult of all – a dishwasher! We gave up a dishwasher to live in a real neighborhood! So we moved into this charming Victorian row house and now look at the size of my living room:

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Notice the old bathroom rug on the floor. My twelve year old dog needs it to sooth his old joints when he’s chewing bones, and also to jump up on the couches because his paws slip on the wood. Notice how I’m so apathetic about the state of the house right now that I didn’t even bother to straighten the rug or to fold up the blankets before I took the photos. 

So there you have it. I was willing to give up a few things in order to leave the sterile suburbs for an older part of town that has more character and culture, and shops and restaurants that we can walk to. And, because we moved, we randomly ran into some old friends that we had lost touch with who are living right here! So our blessings are great, but my life as the designated homemaker for this family has become much more difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thankful every day that we live in the neighborhood that we do, I just wish I could adapt to this tiny, old house so that we could live in an organized, comfortable, and nurturing environment again.