Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dealing with stress

It's not been all quiet on the home front this week.

I came up with a lovely cold for the weekend, Junior decided that school was for losers, I found out that he's also been hobbiting at school (having second breakfast), and I've fallen behind in laundry and my Bathroom didn't get a Monday scrub because I was a miserable snot factory, and let's face it, I had "The Dumb" which I get with every cold.

Okay, we know the rule, right? Don't post a problem unless you have a fix.

Um. Right.

Well, the cold thing fixed itself, thanks to my mighty immune system, Junior will be getting a parent conference AND I'm no longer going to be making him a fancy breakfast. As for the rest, well, as they said in the Greatest Generation:

I see "Laq" instead of "Lag" most of the time I look at it.

Well, I'm not buying war bonds, but there you go. I bought a waffle iron to make his waffles at home. I suppose there's nothing to stop me from making waffles at home for fun. I've got to scour a bit for some good recipes, as the Betty Crocker cook book I have is just a tad ration unfriendly, not that we've restricted ourselves, but now most of the non-rationed stuff just seems so... wasteful!

Oh sure, I can lay down and let the stress take over. I could give all this up and get back to my squashy life of watching Day Time TV and goofing off on the couch, but that's not a stop on this road to being a better housewyf.

Speaking of housewyf, I have been asked for a more on why I use the "y" and how it differs from the "i" that I use in the Tuesday posts. Well, my thoughts on the wife is that she sees herself as subjugated beneath a man, a servant to her family and nothing more. This is the modern view of the Suzie Homemaker type. I see a wife as what everyone wants to see, but no one wants to be. On the contrary, a wyf (we pronounce it as "wiff" in the Lowe Berth) is the center of the household. While the husband may win the bread, it is the woman that holds the center of his universe together. I've seen others expecting me to post the Meme poster, the one that was never used, but I find this one, that WAS used, is far more the definition of a wyf than the other one.

(My version is red.)

I'm not weak or subjugated or even submitted to my husband, and for those amazing working wyfs, you know that you're coming home to your kingdom and those within had better be prepared to obey. I'm not a great Matriarch, but give me time... give me time.....

I apologize in advance for the rambling nature of tonight's post. I'm still not fully back in control of my cognitive functions. I promise you a good FotHF for you cooks out there, and if there's something that you think needs addressing, let me know, as I'm still new to the blogging thing, and I'm still starting on my Home Front journey myself.

ETA: Here's a Ration friendly Wartime Rice Waffle recipe. I'm intrigued to try it.

Rice Griddle Cakes

1 1/2 cups cold boiled rice 4 teaspoons Royal Baking Powder
1 egg                          1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour                  1 cup milk

Press rice through sieve and add well beaten yolk of egg, and flour, baking powder and salt
which have been sifted together. Mix well and add milk which has been scalded and cooled. Beat
thoroughly. Add stiffly beaten white of egg and bake on hot griddle or in waffle iron.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front: Stay Fighting Fit!

Good Morning Mrs. Jones!

Oh my, Mrs. Jones has got the sniffles yet again. It's cold and flu season, and with the children headed back to school, the household is about to be bombarded with a hail of germs.

Mrs. Smith's children are headed back as well, but she's not getting sick. Ah, here's her secret! She's making sure the family gets lots of dark green vegetables, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and don't forget to wash those sheets once a week!

She's also been paying attention to the signs!

Washing your hands with soap and hot water before cooking, after a trip to the powder room, and before you eat can help keep viruses from spreading. Also, avoid touching your face after shaking hands. Don't be fooled by "antibacterial" soaps, though. The Centers for Disease Control tells us that just regular soap will do just fine and leaves the healthy bacteria to keep your immune system healthy.

If you do get the sniffles, remember:

And of course, don't forget to get that flu shot! Flu vaccinations have been approved for pregnant women and children as young as one year of age. A healthy home front keeps up both production and morale at home and keeps the boys overseas healthier too!

Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Friday!

The part of yesterday's Thursday Post will be played by Friday today, due to long winded scout masters. (Both the Boy and Daddy are SOOO excited!)

So with cleaning:

And being a Mom:

And a wife:

Oh, and cooking:

And crafting:

Sometimes I get a little bit busy. Now, on top of that, there's School, Scouts, and hey, sometimes I like to have some down time too! Oh, and also I have a cold. So, yeah, yesterday's post is late.

Anyway, I promise next week I'll post something more about my cooking, but I wanted to write this week about two main things. The first is why I use the term "housewyf" as opposed to "housewife." The reasoning behind this is literally Medieval. You see, back in the middle ages, wives may have been property without a lot of rights, it was also their job to manage the household, manage the finances, AND manage to hold society together by their apron strings. The men went off hunting, fighting, whatever men do when we're not around (I assume it involves bodily noises and peeing on things), and we were at home with far more power than most people think. Far from a shrinking violet, the average peasant farmer's wife was to be loved AND feared.

The other thing I wanted to write about is how I feel when working out of a clean house on other projects. I thought of it in terms of a story. (Beware before reading that this will give you an idea of how my crazy brain works.)

Once upon a time, there was this little house by a river. Over time the house became untidy, the dirty, then crazy, and as if by magic, the river beside the house became dammed upstream. First only a little, and the water still flowed, then more, and the flow slowed down to the size of a stream, then a Hoover-like dam was built and the flow slowed to a bare trickle. The owner of the house began to become preoccupied by the water that came out of the tap, or the flavored juices and sodas she could buy at the store.

Then one day, she decided to clean up a bit. A crack appeared in the dam, but no water came out. She cleaned up more and even more cracks appeared.  Then she worked very hard to make her house not just liveably clean, but just shy of company clean. The dam burst open. There was no more water, however. It had magically been changed to ten trillion gallons of fornicating monkeys with Attention Deficit Disorder who all needed her attention IMMEDIATELY, when they were not fornicating to make even MORE monkeys.

This is how my creativity has flowed. When I keep my house clean, it flows like a river, constant and easy to manage, occasionally flooding when something piques my interest. When my work area becomes messy, that flow gets blocked, and only after I clean it up again does it come back, not as water that would flow away, but as "creativity monkeys." My friends refer often to "Plot Bunnies" because they seem to reproduce rapidly (rabbidly? rabbitly!) but I have found that once creativity has sparked, it often requires my attention like a small monkey clinging to my head and screaming at everything, hence "Plot Monkeys" (or creativity monkeys for those who are not specifically writers). Normally, in my brain, I can keep these in their little boxes on a shelf, but when they need attention, they hop right onto my head and don't let go usually until I give it to them.

Thus, I have found that whenever I have become creatively blocked it's better to start cleaning up immediately, because if the dam should get too big, the break will be... epic.

Now, alas, I have become lagged a bit in keeping my house, as I am a real life person and not Suzie Homemaker, so I'd better get back to it. Also: Floors are Friday.

I want to add a note as a previous posting of my cleaning supplies caused a bit of a flap dealing with storage. My son can read and has been drinking out of big boy cups for two years, I have labelled the cups that have borax and baking soda, and I keep them under the sink or in the laundry room. Without a toddler roaming around, this is plenty of safety for me. In the event that there IS a toddler in my house, cleaning supplies, even salad-strength vinegar, are placed into a toddler-proof area, whether that includes locked cabinet or simply a high shelf behind a closed door, rather than arranged artfully on my nice table.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fighting on the Homefront: Points with the family!

It's a fine morning, but Mrs. Jones looks distressed. What's the matter?

Ah, yes, ration points and family nutrition can be very confusing. If you don't plan ahead for the week, not only can you run low on points, but you can end up buying a lot of processed junk food and unhealthy things that your family doesn't need.

Here's Mrs. Smith.

She has her points counted, and she is planning her meals accordingly. She is also taking advantage of vegetables right out of her victory garden and unrationed foods like chicken, fish, and beans to really stretch those points. Why, Mrs. Jones, I bet if the two of you worked together, you could grow even more.

What about all those leftovers? If you've gotten the best meat off of your chicken, save the rest and the bones and stew them in a pot for 30-45 minutes to make a fine chicken broth for use in low point soups and stews. Don't forget to add lots of vegetables to make your soups not only tasty, but hearty as well.

The Bureau of Price Administration is holding tight to Beef and Pork rations for the time being. These have lots of protein, which our boys overseas need to stay strong, so to stretch that beef roast for another dinner, try adding cooked vegetables,  gravy or tomato sauce, and top with crushed crackers, bread crumbs or even some cheese and bake for a casserole few can refuse.

And if you're still running low on points at the end of the week, here's a pair of practical and patriotic pork and beans recipes from our friend Prudence Penny.

Baked Beans, Navy Style
  • 1 pound Navy Beans
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbps Molasses
  • 4 pork tails or feet (a few strips of bacon can be substituted)
  • 1 tiny onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
    • Soak beans overnight
    • Cut meat into 1/2 inch pieces, then parboil with beans for about 2 hours. (This means to bring the beans and meat to a good rolling boil, then cover tightly and turn off the heat, leaving the beans in the hot water on the eye.)
    • Lift pork from broth. Arrange meat and beans in alternate layers in large crock or casserole. Add remaining ingredients to broth and enough additional water to bring liquid to within 1 inch of top of beans.
    • Cover; bake from 3-5 hours at 250 degrees. Beans may be uncovered to brown the last half hour at 350 degrees.
    • (This is a great place for those odds and ends from your pork that are rich in vitamins and protein, but low in glamour.)
Baked Bean and Cheese Loaf
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Fat
  • 2 cups Baked Beans, drained and mashed
  • 1 cup Soft Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups grated cheese
    •  Brown onion in fat. Add mashed baked beans, bread crumbs, beaten eggs, ketchup, salt, pepper, and cheese. Mix thoroughly.
    • Pack into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until firm.
    • Serve hot with spicy tomato sauce or ketchup.
These recipes, combined with vegetable side dishes, can  provide a wonderful meal even when the points get low, and eating healthy food helps to keep us strong and helps us raise the next generation to be healthy and strong, too!

And remember:

 Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vim and Vinegar: Cleaning Product Review and Keeping our Chins Up.

It's amazing how much more connected that we are in our modern world, and yet, we are so disconnected compared to women of much more distant ages. Humans, as a rule, require an hour of Face to Face communication with other humans, and in the world of "stranger danger" and "stay in your house" mentality, I find myself instead of real interactions, "Liking" reposts of George Takei from "Friends" I either don't know, wouldn't know by name, or haven't seen in a decade.

Since I have no outside work or social clubs, to stave off the spiralling depression that comes from having little human interaction, I've come to love today's ease of Video Chat. Not even five years ago, video chat was relegated to the deepest of Nerd or Business culture, and now I can click a couple of times and instantly and easily be chatting about recipes with my older sister. It keeps us both saner and has allowed us to become very close, even 200 miles away.

But that's one of the things that makes that poster, which hangs over my stove with many other propaganda posters (NOT including the one that has become a meme, because it was not used during the war), so meaningful to me. It is the morale that I create inside the home that carries over to the rest of the family. A clean house, good food and fresh sheets is nice, but when I am sad it reflects in my family too.

So, with that out of the way, as promised, a review of my Homemade cleaners!

The above is such a great image. I saw a lot of images of vinegar, even Heinz new "Cleaning strength" vinegar, whatever that means, I guess I'll look into it. For now, I have so far used glass cleaner, potty cleaner, and laundry detergent.

Glass Cleaner:

Oh my goodness! I give this an A+! Okay, so you have to put a little work to buff the glass to remove streaks, but once you get the hang of it WOWEE! it's so clean! It's like looking into another dimension.

Potty Cleaner:

Well, it's a solid B, it would probably be an A or A+, but it just doesn't remove the Blue from my toilet. Okay, I'm kidding. I'll give it a good solid A. On a newer toilet, it does not have to remove 30 years of use and abuse. Next week I'm going to let it sit for longer than I did this time, and I bet I'll have even better results.

Laundry Detergent:
It's an A with a but. It cleans well (don't forget to shake) but if you're going to do whites, I would suggest buying some laundry bluing. I don't use bleach since (1) bleach is not exactly healthy for my home environment OR the rest of the world, and (2), the washing mix contains Borax which is "evil neutral" but does the job of Clorox 2, without being yet another chemical. I'll pop in an extra scoop of Borax without worry on most things if I need some extra oomph in my wash, but to brighten my brights, looks like I finally get to feel like a spy.

(To quote Michael Westen from "Burn Notice": Laundry bluing is a synthetic dye that dry cleaners use by the thimble and covert operatives go through by the bottle. It blots out secrets and works like a poor man's dye pack -staining anyone who digs through your trash.)

 So there you go! My infused vinegar is still infusing, so I'll have to give you a review of that next week. What I can tell you is that the rosemary and thyme, though they smell STRONG, they also smell good! (from a distance.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! A Housewife's Schedule.

Fighting on the Home Front!

Good morning, Mrs. Jones, it's another great day for keeping our house clean, isn't it?

Oh my, you look bored! And there's so much to do.

Next door, Mrs. Smith is already working. What's her secret? Let's look:

Mrs. Smith has just as much work to do, but she's concentrated on certain rooms on different days. In the morning, she gets herself and the children up. Everyone is in charge of making their beds. Once the little ones are off to school, it's time to see what the task of the day is.

Monday: Bathrooms.
Tuesday: Bedrooms.
Wednesday: Kitchen and Meals Planning.
Thursday: Shopping and Living Room.
Friday: Dusting and Floors.
Saturday: Car.

After that, there's laundry to get done, and after the children get home, a dinner to get on the table. In the evenings, after dinner and dessert and before bed it's time for a 10-15 minute clean up for the whole family. Mrs. Smith is not overwhelmed cleaning the whole house every day, but maintains her house with an easy schedule.

A clean house provides a relaxing, comfortable place to look forward to and makes guests and family alike feel welcome at home. Keeping such high morale at home gives the boys overseas something wonderful to come home to.

Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Potions Class; or A Long Winded Story About Shower Walls.

First, let me start by saying, for those of you who don't know, my bathroom is blue. I suppose at one point, it was a lovely robin egg blue, but after being blue for thirty years, a couple of years with no tending whatsoever, and then, well, we came along. I haven't been, let's just say, diligent about cleaning the bathrooms. Rest assured I KNOW how to clean a bathroom. When I worked retail that's one of the jobs they always had me do because I would do it quickly and be thorough about it, but when it comes to my own house, before starting over as I have been, I was lax about the bathrooms. After 2-3 months even the nicest bathroom can be a little scary, and mine had gone more than that without a proper rub-down.

I decided to do a House Boot Camp. It's three weeks of working extra hard so that I can get back to eating bon-bons and watching daytime TV. That's what we housewyfs do, right? No? Oh. Right. Back to the Home Front with you, Prudence!

Alright, chemistry time--actually, avoiding chemistry time. Of all of my cleaning supplies, I use NO bleach and NO ammonia. I use mostly Vinegar mixed with other stuff, and occasionally use Borax, a mineral, and Baking Soda/Washing Soda (closely related). I only have to worry when pulling out my big gun: Hydrogen Peroxide. This can be safely combined with Borax or Baking soda, but combining it with vinegar yields something called Peracetic Acid (and Oxygen for those playing the home game). This does not clean things. This burns things. Let's not use this. (EDIT: Peracetic Acid is used in Pine-sol and other harsh chemical cleaners. While this means that I could make it at home, I don't want to. I like my nose hairs in tact.)

Well, I decided, under my usual mantra of "There is very little I could do to make this worse," to try my new Peroxide spray. I didn't expect much, possibly a bit of bleaching. I certainly didn't expect foaming. That was  a surprise. The mark of a good housewyf is never panicking. Never. Spilled juice, broken arms, and the fridge kicking on have the same emotional response to an elite housewyf. So, not panicking, I wiped it down.

It was still blue. I'd like to call this "on the plus side," but I just can't bring myself to say it. On the other hand, it was also no longer starting to turn a startling an moderately violent shade of orange, signalling an infection of Serratia marcescens, a nasty bacteria. I know I need to regrout the tub, and I'm sure the whispering toilet has told me on multiple occasions to either assassinate a pop star or else watch reality television, it's hard to tell. I'll fix that later, I think I have some more caulk, string and miracles somewhere.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! Easy to Make Home Made Cleaning Supplies.

Fighting on the home front!

Mrs. Jones has just returned from the store. What have you got there?

I see, a bunch of chemical cleaners in new plastic bottles.

Mrs. Smith has returned from the store, too. What has she got? Vinegar, Baking Soda, Peroxide, and a few other common household ingredients. Small amounts of these combined can make cleaning formulas just as good as those you can buy in the store.

Buying chemical cleaners in plastic bottles not only fills your house with fumes, but they also waste plastic and chemical plants that could be helping our boys overseas.

Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith!

Oh, and for the housewife who wants her house to really shine, Uncle Sam has collected a few recipes to help us conserve those resources.

Things to keep around the house:
Baking soda and Borax in sugar shakers are great for scrubbing.
Hydrogen Peroxide (with a spray bottle top) for an easy bleach.
Measuring cups and funnels dedicated to cleaning supplies.

Vinegar Infusion Surface Spray: see (I doubled this recipe and used Rosemary and Thyme, my favorite cleaning herbs).

Bathroom Glass Cleaner: (Also from Crunchy Betty)
  • 1/4 c Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1/4 c White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 c Warm Water
    • Mix in the bottle and shake well before using.

Potty Cleaner: from
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum (Found in the gluten free baking section, expensive, but it lasts a while)
  • 1 tsp Glycerine (I'll get back to you where I found this.)
  • 1 c Water
  • 1/2 C White Vinegar
    • Mix items in blender and blend until mixed. Should cling to bowl. I may rescue an old gooseneck bottle, wash it out, and use this. (Anyone wanna try this and report back?)
 Laundry Detergent: Submitted by Mr. Moore
  • 1/8 c washing soda (Arm & Hammer, found in Laundry Aisle)
  • 1/8 c Borax
  • 1/8 bar Ivory soap (making it dye and perfume free!)
  • Gallon Jug
  • Water to fill
    • Grate Bar of soap with fine cheese grater into a saucepan. Put in some water and heat gently until all the soap is melted (about 20 minutes). DO NOT BOIL!
    • Pour a little bit of water into jug to prevent melting when adding the warm soap. Add the Borax and washing soda.
    • Use 1/8 c for HE washers
    • Use 1/4 c for standard washers
    • Shake well before using
I have also been picking up other tips to make my house shine and sparkle. That'll keep 'em flying!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Starting the Journey (Kinda Long!)

Can you imagine? Actually, I suppose most of us can, but this was the scene almost 72 years ago, when the United States, just emerging from another war, Prohibition, and the Great Depression, enters war yet again.

Our troops scrambled, the president reassured us, and people like my Uncle Jim and my Aunt Ellen were seeing what they could do, anything they could do, to fight for freedom from a truly threatening regime. Now, not everything back then was golden and charming, in spite of the image we like to imagine, but Americans pulled together as they have almost no time since. This has been, since studying the 40s for my Decades project in High School, my curiosity, and perhaps my passion.

That being said, I do not wish to completely revert my house or myself back to a time before civil rights and cell phones. In today's modern age, that's just not possible. What I am looking at is applying the principles of the "Greatest Generation" to today's modern world, and hopefully coming out ahead.

What are those principles? Well, during the hardships caused by the Depression and the following wartime rationing, the housewives (housewyves as they are called in my house for reasons to be discussed later) came up with strategies, and where they failed, the government stepped in with advice, pamphlets, and even catchy propaganda based slogans.

During the War, there were only a few things that a woman could do:
  • Take a Job ("We Can Do It!" says Rosie the Riveter.)
  • Join the USO ("USO: Until they're home.")
  • Buy War Bonds ("Let's All Fight!")
  • Feeding the Future Nutritious Foods ("Our food is fighting!")
  • Planting a Victory Garden and Canning ("We'll have lots to eat this winter, won't we, Mother?")
  • Rationing ("Do with less, so they'll have enough!")
  • Repairing ("Mend and Make Do!")
  • Recycling ("Save your cans! Help pass the ammunition!")
There were more, such as not talking about troop movements, and other patriotic things. Now, I only have one job, at the moment, and that's my family, as cheesy as that sounds, and while I am buxome and beautiful, I'm afraid the USO just isn't what it used to be. War bonds, which no longer exist, can be transmuted into savings bonds which don't quite do the same thing, but still mature and end up being an excellent investment in your own personal economy. That leaves the rest of it. Never did the government push for such healthy foods, and community togetherness as when they had these great slogans. (Racist slogans will be avoided, possibly rewritten.)

Today our enemies are clutter, noise, glowing electronic gizmos  that cut into our family time and steal away our attention. I hope that by applying much of the same principles from above, of which I shall go more in detail in the course of this blog, that not only will we lead happier and healthier lives, but that our lives will be better enriched, and that my son will have the life skills and work ethic of those gone before.

As a final note, this is not "Urban Homesteading." As I said, I do not wish to live "off the grid" as my husband does, nor live a "Biblical life" as some women do, or even, as a few rare and wonderful young women do, surround myself only in the items from the period. This is something that is honestly still developing in my mind, but as I've hooked my wagon up to the 1940s, I'm going to see how far I can go to create a comfortable and peaceful "Modern Homefront."

I hope you'll join me!