Category Archives: Domestic skills


Longtime readers know what the title of this post means. I’ll explain it to the rest of y’all in a minute.

In the past two hours, I have changed Gertie’s litter; cleaned Hedwig’s cage; scooped out Walter’s litterbox; changed Pongo’s water; scrubbed the shower; decluttered the bathroom cabinet; replaced the bolts on the toilet seat; bleached the tea stains out of every drinking glass Ron has ever used (in other words, every plastic cup and Mason jar in the house); washed a load of delicates; sterilized all the canning jars I could cram into the dishwasher; cleared the counters; cleared the table; cleaned the stovetop; put the dogs out; taken out the trash; and checked my e-mail, all in an attempt to clear my to-do list so I can dive into my favorite summer tradition:


The bad news is that half our tomato plants died while I was in Atlanta. The good news is that I harvested a grocery bag full of ripe fruit off the withered vines … which means that a couple of hours hence, I will be listening to the satisfying plink of canning-jar lids sealing themselves as the jars cool down.

I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled Folk Thursday as soon as I finish. 🙂



I’m a big fan of the Flylady Web site. The main thing I like about it is the timer. It is MUCH easier to deal with a disastrous mess when you’re working in 15-minute increments, with mandatory breaks in between … and at the moment, for reasons too numerous to go into right now, my house definitely falls into the category of “disastrous mess.”

Continue reading FLYing

Things I could do with my afternoon

Ron took my car to work because his car is too low-slung to get through deep snow, so unless I can coax Gretchen into starting on a cold afternoon (not likely), I’m stuck in the house. Here are some of the things I could do this afternoon:

1. Clean the chicks’ cage
2. Plan next week’s lessons
(Rest of list below the fold)
Continue reading Things I could do with my afternoon

Chooks and smoothies

First, the chooks:



And a smoothie (with a tiny gnome in the background, courtesy of Kathryn):


Here’s the recipe, if anybody is interested:

About a cup and a half of crushed ice
About a cup of orange juice
Two organic bananas
About half a cup of frozen organic cranberries
About a cup of frozen homegrown blackberries

Blend until smooth. The blackberries give it that gorgeous dark purple color. Bonus: This recipe is completely vegan.



In 1998, at a Grandpa Pigeon’s store in Fairmont City, Ill., I ran across a clock with a gold plastic crucifix mounted inside a plastic shadowbox at the bottom, surrounded by red velveteen and mirrors and illuminated with red, yellow and green Christmas lights. At the time, I was convinced that it was the Holy Grail of tasteless home decor, and for reasons I still do not fully understand, I passed up the opportunity to buy it.

Early in our relationship, I told Ron about the clock. He assured me that it was not the Grail, because the last known sighting of the Grail had occurred in an antique store in Maine, sometime during the first Bush administration.

The Grail, Ron explained, is actually a plate. Specifically, it is a souvenir collector’s plate featuring a portrait of Jesus, holding a lobster in one hand and draping his free arm around Elvis Presley’s shoulders. Ron’s friend Mike is the only person we know who has actually seen this plate. Sadly, he apparently was possessed by the same evil spirit that led me to pass up the clock, so he didn’t buy the plate. Instead, he went back to his hotel room and thought about the plate. He thought and thought and thought about it. He thought about it all night, and the next morning, he went back to the antique store to buy it.

It was gone.

I didn’t find the Holy Grail today, but while we were at Family Dollar this afternoon, searching for something I needed for school, I found the next best thing:


Interestingly, that 1998 excursion to Grandpa Pigeon’s was actually part of a search I’d undertaken for a big wooden fork and spoon. I had become obsessed with finding a big wooden fork and spoon to hang on my kitchen wall. Big wooden forks and spoons are pretty common … unless you’re actually trying to find them. My family and friends, alerted to my quest, joined the search, which rapidly began to spin wildly out of control, as these things have a way of doing. I now own a collection of big wooden forks and spoons. I think the holy fork and spoon fit right in with the rest of the collection:




Ron thinks that the new fork and spoon are going to fall off the wall and kill Jason while he is eating. (His food bowl is near that wall.) I assured Ron that Jesus is not going to kill our dog. But if I am wrong, I think “Jesus’ Fork Killed My Dog” would make an awesome name for a rockabilly-punk-fusion band.


Decisions, decisions

Here are all the things a responsible grownup would do this evening if she were in my position: write two freelance articles, look up the answer to an editor’s question and e-mail her back, write lesson plans for the pre-AP class, clean the kitchen, declutter the living room, fold the laundry, declutter the office, clean the bathroom, clean the rodents’ cages, run an errand, pick up snacks for homework night, and put stamps on some letters to parents so I can drop them in the mail.

Here is what I am doing: drinking blue Gatorade, blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, and listening to the Grateful Dead. 

What shall I do next?

To be sure, I’ve done a little work today — I bought two plants for my classroom and repotted them, washed two loads of laundry and dried one, stoked the fire twice, and reorganized all the files on my hard drive — but as Saturdays go, this one isn’t exactly the most productive I’ve ever had.

I have about five hours to redeem myself before I head to bed. Maybe I’ll fold those clothes on the bed before I head out in search of that monitor riser so I can get started on those freelance articles….


Keeping myself honest

This isn’t the world’s most exciting blog post, but hopefully by putting the list of stuff I need to accomplish online, I’ll be more inclined to get through everything and thus save myself the embarrassment of having my readers see what a terrible slacker I am. Here are all the things I need to get done this weekend so I can enjoy my Thanksgiving break without having a lot of stress nagging at the back of my mind:

Clean the bathroom, declutter the living room, dust the living room, dust the hall, dust the kitchen, declutter the bedroom, dust the bedroom, clear the kitchen table, put away dishes, clean the stove, clear the counters, do dishes, wipe down the cabinets, clean the fridge, sweep the kitchen, scrub the kitchen floor, wash a load of laundry, fold a load of laundry, wash another load of laundry, fold another load of laundry, wash a third load of laundry, fold a third load of laundry, declutter my computer desk, declutter my other desk, declutter my office shelves, declutter the office floor, dust my office, sweep the carpets, grade papers, record grades, plan the rest of my poetry unit, read the Lesson, work on my Hamlet unit, make a phone call, put together a packet of makeup work for a kid who doesn’t have Internet access, make a pouch for my school ID, make posters for my bulletin boards, design a seatcover for my classroom chairs, make pouches for our magnetic poetry kit words, and watch Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet.

That’s just today’s list. Tomorrow, I plan to run the Route 66 Half-Marathon and watch the new James Bond flick.

We’ll see how much I can get done in one afternoon. The Branagh Hamlet is sort of a prize for getting through the rest of this with my sanity intact….


Crazy afternoon

I procrastinated a bit yesterday — other than running three and a half miles and getting unduly angry over a stranger’s ill manners, I didn’t accomplish much.

Today was shaping up to be equally useless, but after a three-hour nap this afternoon, I decided it was time to start catching up, so in the past hour and a half, I’ve done two loads of laundry; cleaned the stovetop, counters, and kitchen table; swept the kitchen floor; cleaned the refrigerator; picked up the clutter from my office floor; cleared one of my desks; and started the process of rendering a little beeswax we harvested last weekend.

I still have to clear this desk, clean the bedroom, sweep the carpets, clean the living room, clean the rodents’ cages, feed a bunch of scraps to the hens, clean the bathroom, take out the trash, Photoshop a bunch of images, burn a CD of photos, update three Web sites, and read the Lesson.

If I get all the housework done before dark, I think I’ll go wash the car and then treat myself to a slushie.


Purse project

I’ve been promising myself for a long time that I would sit down and figure out how to make a sling-type purse. I finally rummaged through my fabric stash tonight and came up with this:

It’s reversible. And Scout apparently thinks there’s a cookie inside it:

Action shot (please overlook my disheveled appearance — we spent an hour and a half weeding the garden this evening):

It’s not perfect, but I think it turned out pretty well, especially considering I just made up the pattern as I went along. I love that bee fabric….


Crazy busy

OK … in the past 24 hours, I have rendered about 3/4 of a pound of beeswax, harvested peppermint, dehydrated peppermint, crushed peppermint for tea, packaged tea into small baggies, and bought materials to make beeswax lip balm and hand lotion. I’m hoping to make a batch of each in the next half-hour before Ron’s parents — who are in from Illinois this weekend — come to pick me up for dinner.

I would like to note, for the record, that I have great in-laws. Being longtime farmers, Larry and Phyllis did not hold it against me when they walked in this afternoon to find every surface in the kitchen (and most of the surfaces in the living room) covered with cucumbers, tomatoes, jars of honey, beeswax-covered containers, pickles, dehydrator parts, mint leaves, beekeeping equipment, canning jars, and various other objects that might lead the average urbanite to believe that I hadn’t cleaned the house since the Carter administration.

Larry and Phyllis recognized at a glance that we are simply in the middle of a very productive season, and the hyperactive-FFA-convention-on-speed look should in no way be considered a reflection on my housekeeping skills, because every single bit of apparent clutter is actually a critical part of some project that has to be done right this minute because Mother Nature says so.


UPDATE: I made peppermint lip balm before Larry and Phyllis got here. It turned out so well that I gave Phyllis a little container of it to try. We went out to Las Americas for dinner (tripas tacos … mmmm) and then headed over to the fairgrounds to watch part of a horse show and wander around the buildings for a little while. When I got back, I dried the rest of the peppermint and made a double batch of natural honey lip balm and two kinds of hand lotion. The lip balm turned out really well. The lotion is nice, but it’s a pretty unappealing color, so I won’t be selling any. We’re going out for chicken-fried steak and visiting the Tallgrass Prairie tomorrow, which should be fun.