Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Appliance Theory and Practice

If memory serves, almost every sit-com I watched growing up had at least one episode where Dad messes up by giving Mom an appliance--an iron, say, or a new vacuum--on some important gifting occasion. As it turned out, what Mom really wanted was something soft and feminine, like a cashmere sweater or ... well, a cashmere sweater.

I took the message to heart: Women don't want appliances for their birthdays, anniversaries or major religious holidays that involve gift-giving. So I've always felt a little funny about the fact that what I want are appliances. For a long time, me and the Man were pretty broke (I was 38 and pregnant with my second child when we bought our first house), and I vacuumed the floors with my mom's old canister vacuum and ironed clothes with the iron I'd had in college, which was always weeping rusty water onto the Man's white shirts. The thought of a shiny, new appliance was like catnip to me.

We're not so broke anymore, but for some reason it's still hard for us to buy new appliances. I would like a really fabulous German-engineered iron, for instance, but the one I have (not that college number, thank goodness) is perfectly good. My vacuum works, but there's something wrong with the on-off switch, so that we have to plug it into a power strip and turn the power strip on and off. Still, it works.

I seem to have all sorts of appliances that irritate me but work too well to replace. For instance, I've got an oven that's too small. Whenever I roast a chicken, I have to do fancy things with foil in order to a) get the skin brown and crispy without b) letting the roasting fat pop onto the upper heating elements, which will result in c) lots of smoke, causing d) the smoke alarm going off, so that e) the alarm company will call yet again to ask whether or not our house is on fire.

Smaller still? The freezer compartment of my fridge. It's a side by side refrigerator/freezer, and I suppose there's some reason for this sort of design, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it is. Not that we buy a lot of frozen pizza, but if we did, we'd be out of luck, since the freezer compartment is neither wide enough nor its shelves tall enough to accommodate a pizza box. Bulky packages of any size (say, a sixteen-ounce bag of frozen peas) are ruinous to any sort of established order.

As we approach various gifting opportunities throughout the calendar year, I've hinted around that a deep freeze might be an appropriate gifting choice. The Man always nods at the wisdom of this, but I suspect he watched the same sit-coms as I did growing up and can't quite bring himself to buy me an appliance, even a major appliance, as a gift.

Whoops. Let's put that in the past tense. Guess what I got on Mother's Day? Guess who walked out through the mud room to go get the Sunday papers, saw something out of place on her way to open the door, turned around and found--much to her astonishment--a deep freeze!

If your answer is me, you are correct.

Was I disappointed not to find a cashmere sweater there instead? Not on your life, buddy. I felt filled with love and affection for the Man and the little men. I was also pretty shocked, since we don't do big gifts on the smaller occasions--usually for Mother's Day I get a Merchant and Ivory DVD and flowers and a day off from cooking.

So I spent Mother's Day morning emptying out the contents of my crowded freezer and transferring all the bulky stuff, the nonessential frozen stuff, to my new, beautiful deep freeze. Now I'm just waiting for my peas and beans to come to fruition in the garden. Gonna blanch them suckers and freeze 'em. I'm freezing everything, girls. Watch out.

And for my birthday, I'm asking for a new vacuum. Ah, the romance of it all ...


Susan said...

I've found that my extra freezer is great for my hoarding tendencies. It's a wonderful thing to open that baby and find spaghetti sauce that just needs to be heated through for a delicious meal. Tubs of cookie dough that the kids sell for school? Sign me up for 6 tubs; I've got room. A special on bread at the bakery? I'll take 3 loaves, please. Sweet corn at it's prime? Just give me an afternoon and I can blanch it, slice it off, and put it in dozens of Ziploc bags that I purchase at my other hoarding outlet, Sam's Club. You'll never know true bliss until you can munch on a Christmas cookie in August. Now, were those from last Christmas or the year before?

Freeze on, Babe. Freeze on!

Ali said...

Oh me too, me too. Nothing would say 'I love you' as well as a KitchenAid. In baby blue.

Easy to please.

Angela said...

We had this exact discussion over our evening meal tonight - regarding a friend who only feels truly 'romanced' when she gets perfum eor flowers - but I get ecstatic about a new worklamp [esp if he got it at a reduced price] or an iron [yes, a lovely German steam generating one]
Enjoy your new freezer. And remember, it is not economical to run it half full - so fill up any spaces with skimmed milk or boxes of tea bags [yes you can use TB straight from freezer without thawing!!!]
blessings x

Tracy said...

I have an upright deep freeze in my laundry that died about 3 years ago. What can I say, I seem to have overcome my frozen food hoarding tendencies when I realised that at least once a year we have a major power outage. Last year's was 30 hours. Not so great for deep freezer owners. I do have, though, an upside down fridge with a larger freezer than if it were on the top. It works for me.

I'm with ya on the appliances though. I used to want something irrelevant when I was younger ~ the cordless phone was quite unappreciated as a gift that year. But you know, it's still going 13 years later and I'd miss it if it died. What I'd love now? A Kenwood mixer, a new iron, new pots and pans and new bed sheets for us.

I'm as romantic as you, it seems LOL

Dulce Domum said...

That's so cool. Now you can buy half a pig. I've always wanted to do that. Once the DH bought me a really posh spade for Valentine's Day. I'd just started on the allotment, so it was a great gift.

Danielle said...

Susan and I have oft discussed our hoarding ways. A prerequisite to this is to own a deep freezer. Welcome to the club! We discuss our contents like other women might chat about outfits. When visiting if she asks me to go to the basement to fetch something out of the freezer, I'm delighted. I open with anticipation, and I take notes.

P.S. Having access to spring rhubarb and summer blueberries for winter muffins is my particular joy.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Susan, Yes! I am so excited about hoarding! But I wish you hadn't mentioned Sam's Club. I'm going to have join, aren't I? And there will be all these bargains I just can't resist ... sigh.

Ali, The KitchenAid: you must have one. Start your hinting. I had no idea they came in baby blue--how cool!

Angela, Thanks for the advice about loading the freezer up. I didn't know. My hope is that once the spring peas and beans come in, my freezer will be filled to the brim. In the meantime, in go the tea bags!

Tracy, I hadn't considered power outages. Well, I guess that's why we have a generator in the garage. We've never used it yet, but if the power goes out and I've got a freezer full of the fruits of my garden, you better believe we will.

Dulce, Only half a pig? Why not go whole hog? Har! I may start ordering organic, grass fed beef through the mail now that I have a place to store it.

Danielle, I love that you and Susan have deep freeze discussions. I can't wait til I have enough stuff froze to join in!

Blue Morpho said...

I did the same - I scored an IceCream Maker! I know - it's just a toy really - but I really wanted one. And I saved myself the headache of directly asking or dropping hints and disappointment by posting it on a website for gift giving. That way the man just contributed to it when he felt I deserved a little pick-me-up. There seem to be lots of these online gift registries these days - i used www.dreambank.org