TGHP Day 7: Ready to take on Cobra Kai

I didn’t post yesterday. A lady cannot possibly blog every single day and maintain her wit and charm, or she’ll get the vapors. No one wants the vapors, so yeah. I took a day off from this. I did not, however, take a day off from housewifing, . Today’s entry is all about wax–not the hair removal wax that I have already proven is too dangerous for me to have– and is a review, because I am a helpful kind of lady when I don’t have the vapors.

 

Image

Step 1: Wax on. Step 2: Wax off. Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until desired level of gleaminess is achieved.

All right. Review time! Here we go!

First is Butcher block conditioner:

Image

 

The butcher block conditioner is a new love of mine, and while it’s not super retro-y, it is super handy to have. As I mentioned before, I picked up some battered (and not in the good way, like mozza sticks are battered) podwood/monkey wood/acacia midcentury  snack bowls at the thrift store for about $0.99 each, and the butcher block conditioner took most of the scratches right out.  I then tried it on my rolling pin and wooden spoons, and they looks better than they did when they were new.

This stuff is really easy to apply, is food safe, and has no significant odor. I’d say I’d buy it again, but considering how little I had to use, I think I’ll be having to bequeath the rest of the bottle to someone upon my death of really, really, really old age.

Verdict: If you have heirs to whom you can give wood conditioner, buy this stuff. Its great!

 

Next is Johnson’s Paste Wax:

Image

 

As I told you guys last time, I got a new-to-me vintage dining room furniture set. It’s gorgeous and I love it, and I need to stop talking about it before I dissolve into a fit in excited, incomprehensible babbling and idiotic hand clapping.

I used Johnson’s on it, and while I like it, I also hate it, but I like it… but, I hate it. It gives a great satiny shine, and the wood feeeeeeeeeeeeeels good after being waxed and buffed. It leaves a really nice finish, and doesn’t seem to attract dust and pet hair like furniture dusting sprays do.

(You know there’s a but coming, right? Wait for it….)
But.
(There you go. I bet it feels good to get rid of that “She’s going to say but” anxiety!)
But. It stinks like shoe polish, and I got The Vapors at least twice from the fumes while buffing. And holy cow, it is a chore to buff off completely. As I was buffing and buffing and buffing, I realized that pretty much every housewife who used Johnsons would be able to compete in a pro arm-wrestling circuit, if there was such a thing. It is work.
I actually feel like a whiny baby for about complaining about buffing the table. Apparently, ladies of the time used to do their floors regularly with this stuff. My hat is off to them, but I think I’ll stick with my new fangled floor products. Waxing my floor by hand is a serious limit for me. No. Just no. 
The Verdict: Johnson’s paste wax provided a great shine, a weird headache from the fumes, and a workout like I’ve never had before. I don’t know how I feel about this.
Last up is Jubilee Kitchen Wax:
Image
I saved the best for last, and I’d like you guys to meet my new best friend Jubilee Kitchen Wax. (“Guys, this is Jubilee Wax. Jubilee Wax, these are the guys.”) This was taken off the market for approximately a gazillion and four years, but has recently returned much to the delight of people who are far better housekeepers than I.
And, I admit that I can totally see why. I’m in full on love with it. I guess it’s meant to polish and protect your stove front, your fridge, your toaster and other kitchen food-prep-things, and it does. Everything is reflective and much cleaner looking, and fingerprints seem to wipe off much easier. However, it really shines– pun fully intended– in the bathroom. I wouldn’t use it on the floor or tub because of slipping risk, but omgomgomgomgyouguys, everything now glistens in there, from the faucets to the green tile someone installed to halfway up the wall because it was 1952 and green wall tile was the hip new craze, like the twist or um….going to the sock hop with your best gal in one hand and a malted shake in the other. Anyway, water spots wipe right off, pet hair doesn’t seem to want to stick to the tile, and my bathroom is now so much easier to maintain.
The Verdict: I can’t talk right now, I’m too busy gurgling delightedly over the shininess.
I waxed on. I waxed off. I’m ready to blind Cobra Kai with my shiny appliances, wood furnishings and bathroom tiles. Go me!
 
 
Advertisements

TGHP Day 5: The Midcentury Era Thinks You Suck (And So Does Your Spouse)

Today, I really didn’t housewife it up much because the lovely Johnny Rotten and I were out shopping. I finally harangued sweet talked him into going out to look for a dining room table that ISN’T a patio set reject from before we were married, and surprise of all surprises, he not only agreed to look, but we are having a Duncan!! Phyfe!! reproduction!! from 1940ish!!! dining room set!!! delivered some time within the next week.

Image

I guess I’m both cute and vitamin-enriched lately, because he just couldn’t resist my pleas for a real table.

So anyway, I’m 31 flavors of stoked about that, but I really didn’t do anything midcentury at all today, other than the daily tidying up that has become the norm around here. I’ll be posting photos the moment the set arrives, because YOU-GUYS-ITS-SO-PRETTY-AND-AWESOME!!!

Speaking of pretty and awesome though, did you know that you’re not? I mean, I personally think you totally are, and I mean that for each and every one of you, but the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s would beg to differ. In fact, they’ve been meaning to talk to you about a few things.

Image

First of all, your stocking maintenance has really been lacking lately, and you spouse can no longer admire you.

Image

And if you aren’t serving him breakfast in bed on your knees while he’s inexplicably dressed in a suit and tie, you’re wifing so wrong.

 

Image

I mean, he’s willing to be benevolent, but let’s face it, you’re pretty inept at ALL THE THINGS. Sorry to tell you, but you need to know.

 

Image

Your choice of coffee is so bad, you deserve to be physically assaulted.Image

Even if you’re an outstanding cook, and your choice of coffee is superb, you’d still better not get older. Your husband won’t love you any more, and understandably so.  Girl, THAT SKIN. Stop it.

Image

It’s not just middle aged women with middle aged skin that go unloved. If you don’t brush with the right toothpaste, 4 out of 5 dentists agree that your husband will stray.

But really, there’s one problem that’s more of a problem than the rest of your (many, many, many) problems.

Image

You haven’t cleaned your nether regions with Lysol, and you suck as a person. More importantly, you suck as a wife.

Image

No. He would not. In fact, it seems pretty clear that you disgust him in every single way he could ever think of, and even in a few ways he hadn’t thought of. Maybe you should go talk to your friends instead?

Image

Just kidding. You disgust them too.

 

Holy cow, you guys. I need a cookie and a hug just for reading through all of those.

TGHP, Day 4: I’ve been possessed!

Today I baked like a woman possessed. I have seen The Exorcist, and it wasn’t that kind of sweary, head-spinning possession, so Im figuring it was a much friendlier ghost that possessed me. Maybe Julia Child? Everything I made today turned out well, and I was irrepressibly cheerful and Google tells me that she passed away in 2004, so it’s entirely possible.  I don’t mean to get all “It was a ghost” on you guys, but really, all the evidence points in one direction.

url-2It was her!

First up was a simple pumpkin bread with dried cranberries and pecan bits. I didn’t take a picture because it was a gussied up boxed mix, but it turned out splendidly. I made two pans of it– one decoy cake for the family to try today, and one for the freezer for midmorning teatime with company.

It’s funny that I make decoy cakes, but that’s how it has to be with Batman in the house. If she sees a baked item cooling, she will help herself to it, regardless of whether she’s been explicitly forbidden to do that very thing or not. Frosting gets poked, the cookies dwindle until there are only 3 left on the cooling rack (“there’s still some left. Maybe if I space them out evenly, mom won’t notice 90% are missing?”), and cakes end up gouged. Its impossible to recover from in any aesthetically pleasing way.   She can help herself to the test batch, make suggestions on how it might be better, and most importantly, leave the real baked goods alone.

IMG_20140109_085709Batman wuz here!

Anyway. The pumpkin bread was pretty darned good. The “recipe” is simply to make the mix as Ms. Crocker tells you, then stir 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried cranberries into the mix before pouring in your pan and baking.

It was easy. Too easy, as a matter of fact. I understand how those prepackaged cakes are great for the career gal (that’s what we call them, way back here in nineteen-fif-sixty-mumblemumble) but it wasn’t really what I had in mind for baking today, so I ended up developing a recipe.

Wait. That sounds far too fancypants and gives me far too much credit for knowing what I’m doing in the kitchen. I did develop a recipe, but it was more because I didn’t realize until halfway through making a recipe that I was out of a key ingredient or six and had to substitute on the fly. You know how your home ec teacher told you to alwaysalwaysalways read through recipes before you actually did anything, just in case you didn’t have everything you needed? Naw. Unnecessary. Just have a sense of adventure and call it ‘recipe development’, and you’ll be fine.

Recipe I kind of invented: The Fruited Cinnamon Roll Things, or, “What happened to all of the raisins?!”

IMG_20140109_061151

You’ll need:

Dough of your choosing, dried fruit, spices, butter, brown sugar.

Use your favorite cinnamon roll dough. I made mine in a breadmaker’s dough cycle, because I felt far more like pushing a button than actually kneading. Use your breadmaker, make it the old fashioned way, or use some pre-made cinnamon roll/pizza dough from your grocery refrigerator case. Seriously, do whatever you want. Even if I were going to come to your house and judge you for your choice, you could be condescending and tell me that you were simply developing a recipe, and there’s nothing at all that I can say about that. Fair’s fair, and shhhh…. I do this all the time.

For the filling, I used 1 1/2 cups chopped up dried fruit mix (apples, apricots, peaches and plums) and a handful/end-of-the-bag of pecan bits, tossed with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg, 1 tsp of ginger, and a dash of salt because the salt shaker dropped out of the cupboard and landed in my bowl, spilling some. I’d say a scant 1/16 tsp of salt, but feel free to omit that part because it’s messy, unnecessary and startling. Use what you want though– I’m not here to tell you how to live your life or how to bake fruit into things.

Roll out the dough, brush with 2 tbsp melted butter, then sprinkle about 2/3 of the filling mix on to the dough. Roll it up and pinch to seal.

Lightly spray your pan with baking spray, then melt 1 tbsp of butter in there, and sprinkle the rest of the filling mix into the pan.

Slice the filled roll, then place slices into the prepared pan. Let rise again until doubled in size, which for me was about an hour.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown and your house smells ah-MAY-zing.

It_smell_good_Img01 When you get this look on your face, they’re done.

Take out of the oven, let cool for twenty minutes, invert onto your serving plate and glaze.

Since I had no idea how to make a glaze, I sort of winged it. I know it’s this thin frostingy stuff that has no flavor other than “toothhurtingly sweet”, so I aimed for that. I used 2 tbsp of milk, a dash of powdered ginger, and 2 tbsp of date molasses in a glass measuring cup, then topped up the measuring cup with confectioner’s (icing) sugar until it measured just over a cup. I stirred it until it was smooth, then drizzled over the warm rolls.

Johnny Rotten deemed them “blue ribbon at a state fair” good.

Batman’s response to them was “Mrrrrrhhmmmmpphhmm”, with two thumbs up, because her mouth was full.

They’re really rich. They’re really sweet. They’re really great for getting rid of those ends of boxes of dried fruit that I had sitting in my pantry.

IMG_20140109_062243I’m actually really proud of these, and I think I should be.

Julia-Child

You know, maybe I didn’t actually channel the ghost of Julia Child today. I think I did something more important: I channeled the spirit of Julia Child, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

TGHP, Day 3: The Golden Age of Hot Dogs

Please forgive my lateness on this post. I was headachy and feeling yuck last night, and everything I wrote reeked of hot dog water and self pity.

Apparently you couldn’t swing a cat in a mid20th century cookbook without either hitting a gelatin mold recipe or a recipe involving hot dogs.

From the Good Housekeeping ‘Keep Cool Cookbook’, published in 1967, came yesterday’s lunch.

Image

It’s obviously a loafy thing, and we all know how I love loafy things.

I couldn’t see that photo and just pass it by, you know? It’s too full of hot dog and loafiness. It’s the year 1967 itself, mixed into a pan and baked lovingly for 35 minutes.

Image

See? Easy, especially if you decide that the gravy is an “over my dead, cholesterol riddled body” accompaniment and don’t make it.

So yes, I made it bright and early in the morning, so I wouldn’t get lost in my cleaning fume high and forget.

Image

There’s a bottle of 2008 Albarino with it, because 1) I am a lady of class and distinction, and 2) what else would you have with hotdog loaf thing?

Unfortunately, it was stone cold and full of semi-congealed hot dog grease by the time that Johnny Rotten was due home for lunch. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on it, despite his desperate hopes that I would, so I cut off a generous slice, and grilled it with a bit of butter in a pan like I would a grilled cheese sandwich, and hoped for the best.

He tentatively, gingerly cut off a piece, and put it in his mouth like he was expecting it to bite him back.

“This.”, he said, then paused.

“Ahuh? This what?”, I encouraged.

“This is actually really good. It’s like a corn dog, but the crispy grilled outside makes it better than a regular corndog! You should make this again!”

I couldn’t believe that I didn’t notice that before. Cornbread plus hot dog equals corndog, no matter how you make it or what you call it. This frankfurter loaf is the perfect food for people who love corndogs but are irrationally afraid of food on sticks, who really love loaf pans, or maybe live in an area where sticks are hard to find or something.

Image

Someone should tell this guy that he can just use his loaf pan, instead of going out to look for sticks on the frozen tundra.

Final judgment: Frankfurter loaf was a success. Not just an “It’s okay for a vintage recipe” success, but a “nom, this is good, you should make this again” success. Would recommend.

Murphy’s Oil Soap, or, Hey, Does This Smell Like Church to You?

While The Good Housewife Project doesn’t actually start until Monday, I had some time today, and since I have company coming at the end of the month, I’d better get to cleaning when and where I can. I’m not going wild though– the experiment hasn’t started, and no one is making breakfast for anyone yet. That’d just be craaaaaaazy.

It strikes me that housewives of olden days seemed to be able to make whites whiter, brights brighter, wood surfaces gleam and floors sparkle in a way that I have never figured out. Maybe it’s that those homemakers just had better cleaning and laundry products than I do, because it’s not at all that they worked a whole lot harder than I do at homemaking. Just kidding, they totally worked harder. But, since I have acquired some retro cleaning products, let’s give them a try anyway, shall we?

First up in this series is Murphy’s Oil Soap. I think I got mine at Target, but I’m sure it’s available pretty much in every cleaning aisle, everywhere.

Image

Murphy’s AND a gold flecked formica backsplash in one photo? All I need is a healthy phobia of communism, and I’d swear I’ve invented time travel.

I’d never, to my knowledge, used Murphy Oil Soap. I knew it existed of course, but I always figured that it was for people who actually cared about the gleaminess of their wood furnishings.

I opened the bottle carefully. Because I sort of paid attention in Mr. S’s high school chemistry class, I knew better than to stick my nose over the bottle and breathe in deeply, and wafted the scent towards my delicate little nose instead.

The scent was sort of…. lemony? Ish? I couldn’t really place where I had smelled this particular smell before, but I knew that I had.

Then it hit me, and I bellowed in a ladylike way for Johnny Rotten to come here RIGHT NOW. He came running out of the bedroom, probably thinking that I had injured myself again. He saw me standing there, very uninjured and holding a bottle of cleaner with a confused look on my face.

“Hey, um, does this smell like….church…. to you?”

He stuck his nose over the bottle and breathed in deeply, because he obviously didn’t have Mr. S as a chemistry teacher, and wrinkled his nose.

“Yeah. That’s church. In a bottle. Can I please go now?”

He wandered off, leaving me to my elation and my scrubbing. See, I figure that the ladies in churches probably have many talents, but they seem to be world class pros at two things: potluck food, and cleaning. Finding a church worthy cleaning product was guaranteed to be as good as finding a church fundraiser cookbook. There’s a reason why “Edna Mae’s Perfectly Mediocre Apple Pie” is never featured. It’s always “Edna Mae’s World Famous Apple Pie” or something. It’s all about reputation. Cleaning products should be the same, I reasoned. If it’s good enough for their gleamy needs, it’ll definitely be good enough for me and my dull, fingerprinted wood items.

Holy cow, yeah. After using it,  I’m a believer. It took off all dustiness and fingerprints, and wasn’t strong smelling or harsh on my skin while I was cleaning. Once I finish this bottle, I will be purchasing it again. It’s good stuff, and after getting used to the smell, I quite like it. It’s clean and nostalgic.

Verdict: Murphy’s Oil Soap has been around for more than a century, and for good reason. It’s a winner.

My husband is standing in the way of my wifing

Johnny Rotten’s initial reaction to The Good Housewife Project was dismaying at best.

I announced that I would be getting up in the morning when he does, so that I could make him breakfast. Please note that I have made him breakfast a handful of times over the years, mostly because he was recovering from surgery and needed to have something in his stomach so he didn’t get all pukey from his medication. I’d like to say that I was doing it because I was nice and loving and caring and a Good Housewife, but I’d be painting myself to be far more nice and loving and caring and Good Housewifey than I actually am. Mostly, I did it so that he wouldn’t be hurt and vomiting, because that would be messy and smelly and very unpleasant to clean up.

Anyway, I told him that he was going to be getting breakfast every single morning for the next few weeks.

He looked at me, and a shadow of terror flickered across his face.

“But I don’t eat breakfast”, he said quietly.

“But you will! And I won’t even make it scary. I promise I won’t make you eat a pancake and sausage gelatin mold or anything!” I noticed the terror on his face, and forged ahead bravely. I know he thinks he knows what he likes and wants, but he hasn’t read the books on how a Good Housewife is supposed to please her husband, so his opinion really shouldn’t be taken as some hard and fast rule.

“Um. Yeah. Well, I like just coffee. And quiet. And, lets face it,  you’re pretty grumpy in the morning.”

“I won’t be if Im making softboiled eggs and toast triangles. It will be my pleasure to start cooking at 5 am every day, to ensure you get off to the best start possible!”

Image

This is not an egg. This is LOVE, simmered gently for exactly 4 minutes.

You’d think he’d believe me. You’d think he would be enticed by softboiled eggs. You’d think. He wasn’t, and he informed me that while I was welcome to get up at an ungodly hour, it was entirely too early to listen to me swear at eggs and make death threats to the toaster.

I didn’t say another word about it, because I was too busy saying a prayer of thanks about not having to get up to make eggs know that a Good Housewife wouldn’t argue over such petty matters, and would choose to respect her husband’s wishes and speak in dulcet tones or something.

 

Housewifin’: The Rules of Engagement

As you already know, I have decided to pretend Im a productive, cheerful 50s housewife for 3 weeks instead of actually being a 10s slovenly, snarky housewife. Why? Heck, I dunno. Maybe I want to get the house cleaned well and properly. Maybe I’m looking for a challenge and/or absurdity. Maybe I’ve lost my mind.Image

If you guessed, “She’s lost her mind”, you’ve guessed right!  Please grab your winner’s spoon and stay afterwards for your era-authentic prize– a big steaming bowl of weiner mixup!

If I’m going to do this– and I so am– there have to be clearly laid out rules of engagement, no? I need to have direction and a schedule, or I seriously run the risk of reworking this task in my head until it involves nothing more than me watching Mad Men episodes while drinking old fashioneds all day in bed.

Its been a bit tough finding good information on what life was really like for post war brides. Obviously, families then were as different as families are today, so what life might have been like for your grandmother isn’t necessarily what life was like for mine. The television and advertisement portrayal of housewives of that era ought to be taken with a grain of salt too. Im sure that Leave it to Beaver had just as much in common with the average woman then as Sex and the City has to the average woman now. Grains of truth? Yes. But perhaps, even likely, not the whole truth.

Anyway, I’ve had to cobble together what I think it may have been like then, and I have had to figure out how to fit my 2014 life into that idea for a few weeks. It’s not a time machine, and it’s not perfect, but I think– hope?– that it’ll give me a good sense of the spirit of this self imposed assignment.

From what I’ve gleaned, the housewife of the 1950s:

-attempted to make her home consistently pleasant, welcoming and clean.

-attempted to make herself attractive to be around, both in physical appearance and mannerism. It seems this is was mostly for the benefit of the husband.

-was thrifty, organized and capable of a wide variety of tasks

-filled a support role in the lives of her children and husband, providing them with a stable, relaxing environment to the best of her ability.

This all sounds pretty good, and I think I could definitely stand to build new, better habits.

Im going to attempt to follow a 50s housewife schedule and meal plan as faithfully as I can, but I am not going to be spending money or permanently ridding myself of modern conveniences so that I can look or act the part more accurately. I’m totally going to make an effort to stash the yoga pants (my dear, sweet yoga pants, for whom I already pine…) and look far more presentable during the day, but I’m certainly not going to be shopping for a poodle skirt so I can look 1950s while making this effort. Likewise, Im not putting my washer and dryer up on Craigslist so I can hunt down an authentic washboard and laundry mangle. My cell phone stays with me, and it stays on, and no one will get hurt.

Im also not about to compromise my family’s health by insisting on a full 1950s menu. Good grief, have you SEEN the amount of cream of mushroom soup they put on everything? Have you? It’s the sloppy, gloppy, brown lumped definition of terrifying. I dont think any of us would feel very well at all after a sudden switch like that. So, 4-5 dishes a week will be pulled from my vintage cookbooks, but I am not going to cook up all meals from the cookbooks.

Finally, I’m aiming for that general time frame, and Im not terribly concerned about it being a little wrong. Some of my cookbooks are from the 60s, some are from the 40s, and Im definitely not going to starve because those books are a few years off. I suppose everyone is just going to have to Deal With It. To make it up to you, I’ll be posting choice recipes from my collection, and daring encouraging you to try them. You’re welcome and/or I’m sorry for that.

So yeah! This officially starts when everyone goes back to school and work, and I’m looking forward to it!

Photo: ‘You’re welcome’ and/or ‘I’m sorry’ should be said again. Did I mention yet that I’ve probably lost my mind?

Image