Posted in JUST FOR TODAY, Southernisms

Housewifery

“HOUSEWIFE: A married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.” – Oxford Dictionary.

“Denise, do you work anywhere now?”  A neighbor asked, evidently curious about my constant presence at home.

“Yes.  Yes  I work very hard as a full-time Housewife.”

There was a pause.  A puzzled but pleasant smile.  Finally “Well good for you!” ended the brief conversation.  Other responses have been:

  • “Must be nice.”
  • “It can’t be THAT much work.”
  • “No.  I mean WORK.  You still WORK somewhere don’t you?”

Thanks to popular t.v. shows, the perception of the American Housewife has often been misguided.  Be it the shapely 1950’s mother who did all her housework effortlessly in high-heels.  Or the current “real” Housewives who pass the day in a glut of lush extravagance and bickering.  I am neither young, desperate or have a rich husband.  I can not afford to squander precious resources like time and common sense.

My past roles – Art Curator, Artist In Residence, Art Teacher, Caregiver –  needed little explaining and were often met with respect and empathy.  However the term Housewife is little understood and is sorely in need of rebranding.   To help clarify matters, here are a few personal Q & A.

FAQ

  • When did you retire?

I didn’t retire.  I still work.  I work very hard as a full-time Housewife.

  • Do you work part-time?

No.   I work full-time as a Housewife.

  • O.K. But don’t you do things online?

Sure.  I have a blog and a couple of online shops.  But…

  • Oh!  You’re an Entrepreneur.  Right?

Not really.  Earning extra money for the family budget is just  part of my work as a Housewife. Everything I do from cooking from scratch to making our laundry products is part of my home management.   Similarly, gardening and canning supplements our food stuffs.  Learning to sew and crochet adds to our wardrobe.   Collecting kindling and burning firewood during the winter saves on heating.  Growing and using medicinal herbs in teas, tinctures and salves keeps our immune systems up and medical bills down….

  • Gardening.  Sewing.  Herbs.  Cooking.  You’re  a Homesteader!  Are y’all gonna get chickens?
reuse-art-couple-time
WHAT MY FRIENDS THINK I DO

 

reuse-art-sick
WHAT I THINK I DO

 

reuse-art-old-woman
WHAT I ACTUALLY DO

Images: Reusableart.com

 

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Posted in HEALTH & WELLNESS

Daily Prompt: Paint

via Daily Prompt: Paint

Despite years of providing art education and related services today’s prompt does not call to my mind the studio classroom.  Its air filled with pungent smell of turpentine and workspaces littered with battered tubes of pigment.

No, the Daily Prompt: Paint puts me squarely in my kitchen canning pears.  The connection?  My southern drawl.  Despite my academic background my accent remains thick as molasses in the winter.  And just as sweet, Honey!  So proper enunciation sometimes eludes me.

As noted in a previous post, I’d been fretting about our fire-blighted pear tree.  I was certain that the weaken tree would no longer produce any edible fruit.  But to my surprise it yielded fruit – an abundance of small, but tasty pears.   A few weeks ago I processed our first harvest.  Proudly ladling the pears into pint jars, I announced to my husband the completion of the batch.

“Really?  How much have you canned?”  He was pleased too.

FI Nils Thingvall
Freeimages.com/Nils Thingvall

“Today I put up 4 paints.”  I was triumphant!

“What?”

“I put up 4 paints.”  I repeated.

“Mmm.”  Billy paused then asked: “Are you referring to canning pears or what you do to make art?  Its pronounced pint not paint.  You put up 4 pints of pears.”

“I know!  I know!  4 paints of pears.   That’s what I said –  I put up 4 paaaints of pears.”  I retorted making sure I placed special emphasis on the word in question.  And sulked back to the kitchen.

Billy smiled.  Later he told me he thinks its cute the way I mispronounce the word pint.  “Don’t change a thing.  I love you just the way you are.” 

Aww!  Wonderful man.  I think I’ll make his favorite breakfast tomorrow – biscuits smothered in gravy and a juicy link of saawshag.

 

 

 

Posted in HEALTH & WELLNESS

Dough Nuts

There I sat at the kitchen table sobbing into my flour covered apron.   Its not a pretty picture when a middle-aged woman pitches a fit in her own kitchen.  Why the meltdown?  I wanted to make my own loaf bread.

I had became incensed at the high price of bread.

The hearty artisan breads were nearly $3.00.  I craved their satisfying wholesomeness. But they were beyond my budget.  Instead what I purchased was the bottom tier of the store brand – wheat bread at $0.99.  No taste, no texture, diminished nutritional value.  I’m not even sure why the bread was brown.  It certainly was not whole wheat.  Difficult digestive issues supported my suspicions.  Use your imagination here.

I was miffed.  Why did the most basic of human foods cost so much?  Why so exclusive?  For centuries grains have been grinded, mixed and kneaded into nourishing bread.  How hard can it be?   I decided to give it a try.  I called on my friend Dee, a traditional homemaker, to became my bread making mentor.

“Denise its really nothing to it.  You just have to feel your way through the process.  The more you do it the more easier it will get.”

Dee described to me a rather straightforward process.  Good.  I like simple.   I found a great recipe for whole wheat bread, got all my ingredients together and I was good to go.

AWE SHUCKS! The recipe called for 6 cups of whole wheat flour.  That’s a normal amount.  But what’s not normal is to keep adding a heavy, coarse flour even when the soft dough turns into the texture of sandpaper.  The recipe said to knead the dough for about 11 minutes.  So I did, often adding water to the keep the sandpaper stuck together.  The results: 2 yummy smelling loaves of BRICKS.  I pouted a little bit.  No biggy. This was my first try.  I called Dee for more advice.

“Sounds like you kneaded it too long.  And your flour may have been too heavy.  Different brands of flour will give you different results.”    What?!  Flour brands differ? But the recipe….

“Denise you’ve got to feel your way through the bread making process. Just pay attention to what the dough is doing.”   I can’t wing this!  I’m recipe dependent.   I should be in a 12 step program sponsored by the Food Network.

Forget it.  I bought a loaf of bread from the grocery store.

Two weeks later, Dee’s words were still echoing in my head: Feel the dough.  Let the dough guide what you do….” I tried a second batch.

WHAAAT?!!   My nicely risen bread turned into a heavy lump in the oven.  My eyes filled with tears.

I calmed myself – “Keep it together Denise.  Its only bread.  You can do this.  Women do this everyday around the world.  C’mon now.  Put on your big girl panties and call Dee!”  I’m my best cheerleader.

“But Dee I never knew that preheating the oven was all that important!!” Not during the dog days of a Georgia summer.

Forget it.  I bought a loaf of bread.

Denial began to set in – maybe its not me, it’s the recipe.  I found another recipe that called for a 50/50 mix of the softer white wheat flour and bread flour.  O yeah.  I got this!

WAHHH!!  O DEAR LORD PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY NOW! I forgot to add SALT and had the complete meltdown described in the beginning.

My husband Billy – my second best cheerleader – encouraged me not to give up.  As long as I kept trying I always stood a chance of succeeding.

Billy and Dee were right.  It just takes practice.  Now I make 2 loaves of bread each week.

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My homemade bread.

 

That is if the artisan loaves aren’t on sale!

BTW: I finally found a bread recipe I loved posted by blogger Carol Winn on Mother Earth News.