Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Housekeeping Report #1

It's not actually summer yet, but it's beginning to feel that way. A string of days in the mid-80s, the garden out back actually starting to look like something. Absolute panic on my part when I think about keeping children entertained for the next eleven weeks.

So I have that summer feeling, which is akin to a New Year's feeling, which is to say, that feeling that makes you want to get everything in tip top shape and organized and clean and breezy. You want to shed all heaviness--heavy food, heavy blankets, heavy blanketings of dust on the furniture.

To that end, I've been cleaning out closets. First, I tackled the upstairs linen closet, forcing myself to stuff a huge bag full of sheets and towels we never use (but I've kept on hand "just in case"), the lovely Winnie-the-Pooh pillowcase my mom made for Jack, which he seems to have no use for anymore, go figure, and yes, even quilts. Bad quilts. Quilts that serve no purpose in my life, as they are, well, ugly.

After the linen closet, the downstairs hall closet. Forced myself to chuck shoes that I once loved but will never wear again, even though in their day they were quite fabulous. I love shoes, but there's no point in getting nostalgic over them. Life's too short. Also abandoned Will's tennis shoes from first grade, his cleats from second grade, his basketball shoes from last season that had to be replaced three weeks in due to a sudden growth spurt ...

And yesterday I did something I've been meaning to do for ages and ages. If you're like me, you rip recipes out of magazines even if there's only the remotest chance you might make them some day. Maybe you've been reading a lot about quinoa lately, and Cooking Light has five pages of quinoa recipes. Rip, rip, rip. You've never been able to pass up a recipe for cold sesame noodles, and here's one in Wednesday's cooking section of the paper. Rip. And so on, until you have several cookbook's worth of recipes--that you never, ever make. Never. Why is that?

I don't know. It probably has something to do with the fact that my children protest just about anything that doesn't involve a slab or red meat or macaroni and cheese. So I dream, but my dreams come to nothing.

Yesterday, I sat down with several binders and a pile of page protectors, and I put together three cookbooks. Well, first I got real and threw 85% of my recipe collection into the recycling bin. I have recipes that are eighteen years old that I've never once attempted. Actually, I held onto a few of those, just because they from my early married life, and it's fun to see what kind of cooking I aspired to back then.

The remaining recipes I put in one of the three binders: Summer Cooking, Fall and Winter Cooking, and Everyday Cooking. The everyday recipes are the old standbys--the Cheesy Chicken Chowder, the cold tuna pasta Salad, the spaghetti pie--my greatest hits, so to speak, the recipes I hardly need recipes for anymore, but can never find when I go looking for them.

It was a big job, but I sat out on the screened porch and listened to the Snap Judgement podcast, and I got 'er done.

So all this to say, mostly what I've been doing the last few days is walking around and looking in closets, and in the laundry room (really my laundry closet; it's a miniscule space),  where my out-of-control recipe collection lived. Everything looks spiffy and organized. Next up, the shelves over the washer and dryer, which are filled to the ceiling with things we no longer use. Hello--fingerpaints, anyone?


Bread and Roses was one of my favorite housewiferly blogs for a long time running, but it's been on a sabbatical for close to two years. Now Dulce's back and posting on a fairly regularly basis. Go visit her and say hey!


Angela said...

Thanks so much for alerting me to Dulce's return!

Pom Pom said...

Go! Go! Go! I'm impressed with your recipe work, Frances. I haven't looked at a recipe for months. I might do that when school is out.
I hope I get inspired like you are!

wayside wanderer said...

Well, you are making me feel lazy and unaccomplished as I sit on my back porch sipping various beverages. You inspire me, though, to do some cleaning of some sort very, very soon. I liked how you put it "shedding all heaviness" because that describes how I feel perfectly. Happy Shedding!

GretchenJoanna said...

Sifting and sorting recipes is one of my favorite relaxing activities. While I'm doing it I never have the urge to eat, so it must be one of the most spiritual and healthy ways to spend my time.

Angela said...

Look, are you SURE about this tutu society? I am not going to buy expensive dancewear - it must be cheap frills!

Tracy said...

Hey you're on a roll!!! Meanwhile I've been puddling around in assignments and finishing up my Uni semester. Your week sounds way more productive.

I notice there's not mention of the A word (attic)!

Every year it astounds me - you're getting beautiful warm weather that makes you want to do stuff while we're beginning to get into winter. Cold, lots of rain and grey Melbourne skies (which will probably last for months). I'm dreaming of the 3 weeks we spent in Colorado Springs two years ago. *sigh*

Dulce Domum said...

Thanks for the advert, Southpaw.
My cupboards are a disgrace. I admire your dedication to such a job...especially in 80 degree heat...shouldn't you be sitting on a porch sipping mint juleps and intermittently talcing yourself? Or do I have a distorted view of what goes on in your neck of the woods?

Gumbo Lily said...

You are so good! Good to let go of stuff, and to spiff up closets.

I thank you for the heads up on Dulce Domum's blog. I've missed her.


Jo said...

I do hear you about the giant recipe collection. There are just not enough days left in my allotted span to try out all the recipes I've collected over the years. Especially since I cook about fifteen different dishes over and over and over... because the children will eat them! I am so enjoying your blog!

Heather said...

I am constantly ripping recipes out of magazines or copying them down into a notebook from a book from the library. I hardly ever make them. It's an obsession.

Ali said...

I am impressed at your pre-summer purging. But unwilling to get off my own sofa, it seems. No wonder my cupboards look as they do.

debbie bailey said...

So what about the attic? :-)