Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Few More Obvious Tips for Not-Very-Good Homemakers

I have a few more obvious tips for you, but only if you are a not-very-good homemaker. If you are a better-than-average homemaker you are probably too busy styling your step-by-step blog on how to make organic cupcakes for your 2 year old's half birthday and won't have time to read this. That's OK. I don't want to waste your time. But for all of you less-thans out there, consider this Festivus for the rest of us who, frankly, are probably in bed balancing our laptops on our stomachs.

Here's the secret to laundry: You just have to do it. All the time. Every day. Well, maybe not every day. There is nothing more to it than that. I read about a lady who had a great system for getting laundry done. She did towels on Monday, sheets on Tuesday, kids' clothes on Wednesday, adult clothes on Thursday and oh my gosh I want to kill myself. You're supposed to wash sheets?

I really don't mind the "clothing" part of feeding and clothing a family. I like to shop for, store, wash, fold, and put away clothes. But I don't like doing any of that with or for food. You might be the same as me or the opposite. Guess what? It doesn't matter either way. You still have to do both. (It sucks to be us. I know, right?) Have TIVO and watch a good show while you fold clothes.  Don't let wet clothes sit over night or they will stink. You can do a little every day or all of it in one huge laundry smorgasbord. Whatever you like. Of course, "liking" has nothing to do with it.

Two fancy "foreign" things you should be aware of and buy are Nutella and Babybel cheese. A jar of Nutella is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Buy Babybel to help defray the cost of toys--My son has been playing with red Babybel wax outerskins for weeks. It's like modeling clay. Gross? Yes well, some of us can't afford salt dough.

If your brown sugar gets hard (and it will if you are not a very good homemaker) put a piece of bread in the bag with it. It will get soft again, should you ever decide to "bake."

If you want to have healthy snacks around [to go with the Nutella] invest in bananas. Bananas are the only fruit I buy except for the occasional apple. I know variety is something to shoot for, but the important thing is that my kids don't have scurvy or rickets. Bananas do you right. You don't have to use expensive peelers to eat them. They are perfect. The best thing about bananas is that you can put them in the freezer--yes, just throw them in--if they get brown. You can't do that with your bags of cantaloupes and kiwis (also known as "good intentions.") When you are relaxed, in the mood, and ready for something a bit more advanced you can make banana bread with those brown bananas. You can do it. I know you can because I can do it. Meanwhile, the bananas will bide their time in the freezer and they won't judge you. Bananas are supportive.

Make instant pudding and call it panna cotta. Why not?

Have a garbage can in every room. Chances are good that you, a not-very-good homemaker, have garbage in every room. Increase your odds of cleaning it up with conveniently-placed receptacles. Maybe we aren't awesome homemakers but WE ARE BETTER THAN THE HOARDERS. HAVE SOME DIGNITY, PEOPLE.

Get Oxiclean Miracle Foam in the pink bottle. It's good to clean your bathroom with and has the perfect clean smell which lingers and inspires. This is NOT A PAID REVIEW.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but get all white everything for your house: sheets, towels, and dishes. It all matches. It all can be bleached. He didn't become Gandalf the Citrus Moderne Dot, did he? White is best because it makes things seem cleaner than they are.

My friend Barbara (you all know Grannybabs, right? She's awesome) suggested this absolute gem on her blog, "Specialization is the key to appearing competent." Memorize that. It's a great homemaking tip. Barbara says she knows how to sew aprons and make homemade mac and cheese, pumpkin cookies, and jam. That's it! But she's really good at those things and people think she's a very  snazzy homemaker. Find your four things and live your life. This is a true pearl of wisdom. Thanks Barbara!

And finally, I'd like to share something that I learned only a few years ago which blew my mind. It is this: Interpret things in your favor. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to tease out what people really mean or could have meant or could be thinking or might have meant to imply. I read this advice in a magazine and told Christian about it. He says he does this all the time. He just assumes people mean the very best. I never do that. I always think the worst. And it makes me feel bad. So I don't do that anymore because as a not-very-good homemaker I've got my hands full without worrying what everyone else thinks about me and my store-bought birthday treats.

I hope this helps.


  1. I like and appreciate the last bit of advice to assume the best. In related news, your name come up in conversation today.

  2. I'm trying to think of the four things I do well. Let's assume after four years that people think I am good at gardening and growing my own veggies (this is the first year it is working). I'm really good at remembering birthdays although while I remembered Sam's I also forgot to do something so I will make up for that. I am a good mom. I will totally own that. My kids aren't perfect, but no kids are. But they are nice and say please and thank you which is necessary in good society. And finally, I am exceptional at constructive confrontation, like when I told the bird lady in my neighborhood that 32 birdhouses in her yard is excessive and that they eat in her yard and poop in mine. You need to confront someone on something? I'll figure out how you can do it and leave the person happy. Most of the time. Sorry to leave such a long comment. It's late, I saw inception, and this is a dream within a dream.

  3. That all white nonsense? I will add my testimony, that I know it is true. You can bleach the crap out of anything, Amen.

    Also, if you have a garbage can in every room then you can blame your husband if they don't get emptied regularly because that's a man's job. I think that was written somewhere in the Proclamation.

  4. SO glad I wasn't eating anything while reading "He didn't become Gandalf the Citrus Moderne Dot, did he?" Classic!

    More mags everywhere should have these posts/columns!

  5. So you fold your groceries? Your fridge must be so well organized. I can do 3 out of the 4 things that Grannybabs suggests so that made me feel really great.

    But I am with you on the sheets. We only wash those when company is in town. Everybody has their achilles heel right?

  6. "Good intentions" produce! YES! I buy this every time I do the shopping, which is why it's better if Paul does the shopping: he comes home with bananas and a few apples. Maybe some grapes.

    My four things are muffins, cookies, fudge, and having lots of children. I put that last one on there because I've found that people forgive a LOT of housecleaning sub-par-ness if they know there are five children.

    I need to figure out something I can swap with Heidi so that she'll do my confrontations for me. I manage to make it so everyone's unhappy AND I don't get what I was asking for.

  7. Here's my tip for sheets -- when I think of it (that's maybe twice a month) I wash ONE person's sheets. Never take everyone's bed apart the same day, because you'll want to cry at bedtime. With my method, everyone gets clean sheets every couple of months, which doesn't really seem gross to me -- no heavy sweat-ers I guess.

  8. I add my fervent testimony to the all white. Plus most kids start using face creams with benzoyl peroxide at some point and let me tell you, all that does is leave bleached out spots on your towels when they wipe their faces. White is best.

    Think about clementines. Even a 2 year old can peel them (and usually in one piece) and they make you feel like you have at least 2 options.

  9. I will second doddles with the clementines.

    And thanks to you and grannybabs, I finally know why it is that people say weird stuff like "You are not lazy, you do so much!" And I'm like, have you SEEN my house/yard/car? Do you KNOW how much time I spend blogging? I've got them all fooled with my weird specialties!

  10. It was one of these "Obvious Tips" posts that turned me on to your blog - I love them! They make me happy!

    And I'm wondering what your four things would be??

  11. Gandalf the Citrus Moderne Dot? Ha ha ha.

  12. Until I had a cleaning lady who does my sheets when she's there every week - I am often touted as a meticulous housekeeper but I always 'fess up and give my gal the credit she deserves - I found that no one got ill if I only changed the sheets once a month. And of course only one person's bed at a time.

    And all white - definitely the way to go. Maybe brown wouldn't even show the dirt though?

  13. thanks, friend. you make me feel good about my lack of ability in the homestead. love the ideas, and will be putting them to work very soon!!

  14. This spoke to me on so many levels...apparently I am what most consider a "not-very-good homemaker." And instead of being sub-par in a lot of things I'm just going to be fantastic at 4 things. That is now my life's goal.

    I have to admit though. The all white thing scares me. White gets dirty. At least with gray or tan I can fudge "clean."

  15. My specialties:

    1. Awesomeness.
    2. Handsomeness.
    3. Humility.
    4. Not really understanding what a specialty is.

  16. Anonymous10:22 PM

    I always love your advice but it makes me kinda sad that your kids don't eat any fruits except apples and bananas. There are so many fruits that are easy to eat (no peeling or utensils required). Strawberries, grapes, plums, apricots...

  17. Grannybabs SHOUTOUT!

    I have white towels and should get white everything else. I love my white towels. Bleach bleach bleach. Babs, I am trying to imagine having all brown linens with the intention of not showing the dirt and it's making me giggle a little.

    I have a solution to the fresh fruit problem, which worked for me. I was always finding half-dead fruit in the fruit bowl or crisper. Finally I got a tiered hanging basket and put it in plain view, nothing in the fridge and nothing wasting away and going moldy in a bowl on the table. This way we see the fruit, so we eat it. I don't have a huge variety--bananas, apples, pears, avocados. Oranges in the winter. Peaches and watermelon in the summer. Kiwi and canteloupe just don't work for me. Even watermelon is pushing it--the chopping does me in.

    Unfortunately I haven't come up with a good solution for remembering vegetables (probably because you usually have to refrigerate them and then do more to them before eating, like chop or steam or grill) and that is why we too rely on baby carrots to make any meal healthier.

    Also, I sneak spinach into a lot of things, like pasta. Put a bag of fresh spinach (or not-so-fresh spinach if it's been there just a little too long...maybe you know what I'm talking about) into the colander before you dump pasta in it. The hot water steams (or is it blanches?) the spinach instantly and then the spinach blends in with the sauce which I dump out of a jar.

  18. P.S. "Interpret things in your favor" just blew my mind. That is totally what I need to start doing. Maybe that will help with my unhealthy habit of dissecting social interaction minutes after it happens. And, my word verification is "ferking."

  19. Last comment. Why are grapes so expensive? They are more expensive than strawberries. Or is that just because I live too far away from places that grow grapes? It's like $7 for a bag of grapes. My kids polish that off in one sitting and I feel like for the nutritional content they might as well be eating, well, anything that's cheaper than that.

  20. Here's a secret to the fresh fruits and veggies deal: wash them and get them totally prepared to eat as soon as you get them home from the store. Cut up melons, wash grapes and take them off the stems, peel and slice anything that needs peeling and slicing (like carrots). Then your kids can just grab them out of the fridge without involving you at all.
    (And that is just one of my four specialties.)

  21. My "good intentions" = wheat germ. I don't know why.

  22. You know I'm all about the white everything.

    I'm incapable of doing laundry. And by that I mean, I'm capable of doing laundry, it's just at the very bottom of my list. Only after everything else is done around the house do I fold and put away the laundry. Netflix Instant Queue helps me out. Want to know what helps more? Teaching my kids to fold and put away the laundry. We did that this last week. And by "we", I mean my exasperated husband.

    I took some cute paper I had and drew pictures of shirts, pants, undies, socks, and sweaters onto individual pieces of paper. I then taped those papers onto my kids' dresser drawers. I like those kind of creative projects, but can't follow through on the execution. Joe taught the kids to fold and put away their clothes in the right drawers. It took two hours for the entire course. If you don't care that all the clothes are perfectly folded in drawers in perfect stacks, this system works. Most kids can follow pictures.

    Sometimes, of course, your six-year-old will show up wearing his three-year-old brother's jeans as capris, but you gotta let that go.

    My other tip is yes, get a housekeeper, but if you can't afford a housekeeper regularly, get one when your mom/mother-in-law comes to visit. Once or twice a year your house gets a deep clean that you didn't do, and your mom/MIL thinks you keep it like that all the time.

    Your neighbor's children will probably love to be paid a couple cents per weed they pick. Spend $5-10 and get a weed-free front yard.

  23. Here are my 4 specialties:
    1. Online Ordering
    2. Feeling Refreshed after a Nap
    3. Interpreting Anonymous Comments in my Favor

    I'm still working on a 4th thing cuz God ain't finished with me yet.

  24. I like it that your readers want you to eat fresh fruit. It shows they really care.

    My specialties:
    1. throwing things away
    2. buying children's books
    3. quiet time
    4. choosing lipstick

  25. I love you! ;-)

  26. Anonymous2:41 PM

    I am a lurker, but your blog is one of three I read religiously. Thanks for the hilarious entertainment. If I was even half as clever and witty, I would blog for sure. Another great way to use bananas and add more fruit is in smoothies. 1 c milk, 6-10 ice cubes, 1-2 going brown bananas, a cup or so of frozen fruit like peaches or strawberries, and a few spoonfuls of sugar. My (4) kids gobble them down, we have one almost every day...especially when the bananas are going bad cuz I aint makin' no banana bread! Oh yeah, and if you add a scoop of vanilla soy protein powder it's a "healthy" substitute for a meal for moms, too.

  27. So I married my husband before finding out that he didn't like sour cream, cream cheese, or Nutella. I'm considering a legal separation.

  28. i like this postl funny and so true.

  29. My four things: homemade chili, breadmaker bread, raspberry freezer jam, and I birthed twins. Four things I'm good at that leave most people unimpressed? Plants vs. Zombies, predicting plots and twists on TV, shoving lots of things in a linen closet, and awesome dancing while I do dishes.

  30. I buy white dishes, towels and sheets. It really works.

    I'm so great at doing the laundry, but terrible at putting it away. Terrible! To remedy this, I got my kids each a basket and let them put their name/doodle on it. Once I fill the basket with folded clothes, I make them put it away. They whine, but the putting away usually gets done now.

    I'm also great at online shopping. I'd rather pay shipping than haul my four kids to the store for clothes. It's one of those "it's worth it to me" things. Everyone has their own worth it things, don't they?

    I'm not so great at regular bathroom cleaning. When I clean it, I think, why was I putting this off? It's not that big of a deal. I hope that someday it is worth it to me to hire someone to clean the bathrooms.

  31. I am partial to "KABOOM!", which I first saw at Costco and assumed it was a Miracle Grow type spray called "Kabloom!" and assumed for years that my dad sprayed it on our flowers every once and a while, but kept it under the sink for some reason. Upon discovering it's real title, I was shocked that my assumption was more clever than their concept, but I'm used to that happening now.

  32. Woohoo! I buy Nutella AND babybel cheese. And bananas. I am set.

    Thanks. I'll look no further for signs that I am a competent-enough-homemaker. I'll just take your word for it.

  33. Wandered over here from Design Mom -- and can't stop laughing.

  34. you are hilarious and your tips are really good. i loved reading your post and will come back.

  35. I have four jars of Nutella in the cupboard, purchased by my husband. He likes to keep it on hand to bribe his coworkers. Seriously. And I use it to make my only speciality, nutella challah bread, and people think I'm super-talented. Nutella works miracles.

  36. First time reader and may I just say thank you very much! Now I am off to develop 4 specialties. I think one of them is managing to not cry or yell when I take my 4 kids ages 7 and under to Costco.

  37. Oh my gawd! Where have you been all my life? Were you brought into this world just for me? Oh...Thank you.
    And you made a Lord of the Rings reference?! Do you mind if I hang on your every word? I swear I'm not creepy.

  38. loving this. am a huge fan of nutella. as i am oxyclean. it's incredible in every way. thanks for your awesome advice. xo.

  39. I really needed this today, thanks!

  40. Anonymous12:04 AM

    I just saw your blog today and started reading past posts and can't stop laughing my bum off. Thank you for that.

  41. Kacy-my favorite line was your #4 in your comment. Luckily I didn't wake my husband up laughing.

    One more banana tip-easier smoothies. Unpeel the ready to die ones and throw them in a ziploc bag into the freezer. Now you just need milk and the banana (who has time for those other ingredients).That's it. Just make sure you use the "ice chop" button so you don't break your blender.

    I also loved your hoarder comment. I'm feeling the dignity in changing my sheets about once a month (or so). Yeah for the not-so-great homemakers (at least we're not hoarders! I'm going to use that on my husband next time he asks me to clean my side of the room!)

  42. HELP! KACY!! Totally post unrelated, but I need your expertise in creating Playlists!

    See, I kind of, sort of, put myself in charge of my own stupid idea and am hosting a reunion of sorts for people whom I grew up with in my old Stake...teens from the 80's

    so...for this Youth of the 80's reunion, I need some 80's music and while I can find several 80's cd's, I know I am probably missing some of the best 80's I beg and plead with you, could you maybe give me a list of say 15-20 songs from 1983-1993 that you think are a MUST for the playlist for this stake youth of the 80's reunion? The reunion is July 31 and I'm just NOW panicking over music!!! HELP PLEASE!! I'm desperate!!

    I don't know what I can possibly offer in return except my undying devotion to reading your blog!!!

    Please, I am totally begging you!
    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

  43. kacy: i've been perusing your blog off and on the last twenty four hours [discovered through designmom. i have a few things to say:
    a) love your twilight post. echoes my thoughts exactly.
    b) so excited to have a source for good reading material!! [your booklists, i mean] thank you so much, and thank you for liking similar book styles as me, and for opening the door into things i would probably never pick up left to my own devices
    c) love your writing. it's awesomely fabulous. can't wait to read more.


  44. We're supposed to have sheets? Crap!

  45. When I was a child, my mom had a super hippie friend who had a gaggle of fun children. Thing that impressed me most when I visited their house? Apart from the fort they were building in the woods and the little pig that ran around the house, it was the beds. Some had a fitted sheet half on them. Some had a blanket and pillow and nothing else. Some had a sleeping bag on top of a bare mattress. No worries. It was awesome.

  46. Girl, it's like you are in my HEAD! I know 4 things I DON'T do well; does that count? :) Thanks for keepin' it real for all us not-so-much-Martha Stewarts!!

  47. I love everything about your blog.

  48. lol love this! I'm totally about the banana bread. I make muffins with them and toss in some of those "good intentions" but guess what? I buy them FROZEN so they don't rot away in my fruit crisper. it's been a good way to still get 'em in those kiddo tummies. you know, for the sole purpose of impressing blog readers (((roll eyes)))
    love your blog, also wandered over from design mom and will stay tuned :)

  49. All my sheets and towels are white. makes me feel like I'm on vacation. Ironically, I have one set of ugly lavender sheets I take with me to our cabin.

    And i lived on nutella and bananas in London. Was tasty but I got very fat.

  50. Anonymous6:26 PM

    You are my new favorite friend! I haven't laughed so hard in days! I love how realistic you are with your #4 specialty. I have one. According to my kids, I make the best mac and cheese. I am not too proud to say 'thanks Kraft for having my back' either. Hey, we all need help in the arduous task of raising happy children, right?! And if one day I rise to more than a not-very-good homemaker, I will send them an adorable homemade thank you note, complete with the latest scrapbook embellishments. :)

  51. Your scurvy comment killed me. I was just explaining to my husband the other day why I brought nectarines on our camping trip (which no one ate, and which got frozen in my cooler, and then smashed): "I don't know why. I never worry at home about our children not eating fruit, but for some reason, when we are camping, I am afraid we'll all get scurvy without it." He looked at me weird.

  52. I think I've just fallen in love with you! This was just what I needed after a week {let's be honest...years} of feeling inadequate and like a horrible mother! I am trying so hard but things are often worse at the end of the day than better. I read all three and they made me feel better. On to the laundry! Keep them coming!

  53. Hey! I own a Grannybabs apron! Thanks Grannybabs, and you could've fooled me. I really appreciate this post, as a relatively new not-very-good homemaker.

  54. Anonymous10:32 AM

    My daughter just sent me your link. I wish someone like you had been around when I was a young mom trying to do my best but usually feeling like pond scum. You are a treat. Thank you for being a voice of sweet humor and reason out there in a nutty/competitive world. I'm inspired and I'm 50! Imagine what brightness you've brought into those in the trenches. Good for you. (I never comment on blogs--that's how motivated I feel)

  55. Anonymous12:35 PM

    loved this post! absolutely brilliant, beautiful and funny! i love reading your blog and i don't read. ever.

  56. you are the veritable Michael Westin of homemakers, especially with the bananas quip. Awesome.

    I'd like to say more, but then I'm the man who takes out the trash, and not the homemaker, so I'll stop here and maybe I'll avoid the nails in my wrists . . . heheh

  57. I just found your blog through the online Parents Magazine. I love it! I especially loved this post as I have a lot to learn about homemaking! I can't wait to check out the rest of your posts. Keep it up!
    Brookeh V.

  58. Deb G6:30 PM

    We live in Phoenix. My hubby sweats so much (he has an extra fan blowing on his side, while I sleep under 2 blankets)I finally bought brown sheets that were on clearance at Target last time. Cause his side turns that color anyway. My family probably thinks I never wash towels because I wash them and put them back up. Same with sheets although they don't get washed as much.

  59. The only thing I don't like about this post is that you're describing a a pink something-or-rather product I can't get in NZ...everything else is solid and valuable gold (things gold is good at being, to be sure).

  60. Anonymous2:09 PM

    Hi My tip (well my 10 yr old's actually!) eat kiwis like a boiled egg, chop the top off and dive in with spoon! Enjoy :)

  61. I'm late getting into the game here, but you missed Faux Enchiladas

    Put a 10 pack of frozen burritos (or chimichangas if you are being fancy) in a casserole dish. Top with canned enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. (I buy mine pre-shredded. It is the same price per ounce and I can use it one handed.) Bake according to the instructions on the burrito bag.

    There you have it. Enchiladas with almost no cooking.

    I think I need more obvious tips!

  62. Hello! Its me and I found your blog really amazing. Your blog post are really interesting. I will visit your blog regularly to check out for your new post. Thank you.. Have a nice day!!

  63. Anonymous5:03 PM

    You are hilarious! This blog is just what I needed to see tonight, and the tips are useful :)

  64. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I'm just seeing this post for the first time and reading while I am ignoring my laundry/dishes/making dinner. I completely agree about the fruit. It drives my husband crazy when we throw fruit away, but I just say "Then why didn't you eat it?".
    GrannyBabs advice is wonderful, but she is not giving full disclosure- she is the QUEEN of laundry. I love it when she is visiting because my hamper is empty the entire time she is here. And she mends and irons! It's truly amazing- and obviously not hereditary.


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