Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homemaking - What I don't do.

I was trying to think of a topic for a new blog post and it occurred to me that when it comes to homemaking that we tend to use our blogs to tell others what we do - the food we bake, the rooms we decorate, the gardens we plant. If you have followed my blog you would be aware that I bake my own bread, grow some of our own food, teach my children at home, love to decorate my home at Christmas and have recently set up a family business. I have been asked by others how I do it all and the answer to that question is 'I don't.' There are many things I don't do - oh I would love to do many of these things but I have come to realize that I will never master every homemaking art, that I will fail miserably at some and that there are only 24 hours in a day and I must determine which of the home arts and household activities I choose to pursue and those I will let go.... so here is a list of some of the tasks I don't do. You might be surprised but I have my reasons. That is not to say I will never do them.  There are seasons in a woman's life and who knows, maybe I'll dust that sewing machine off one day in the future. All I ask is that you don't judge me if I never get round to doing some of the following things...


1.Make my own laundry powder/liquid. I know many of you do. I made up a batch once and was disappointed with the results. It was also another activity to add to my ever growing 'to do' list that needed some serious editing and this was one task that I chose to take off and I don't feel guilty about it. I buy an Australian made phosphate free/septic tank safe laundry powder in bulk from the automotive parts shop - actually my husband usually buys it. As he is in the automotive trade he can buy it at a reduced rate.... after all mechanics do have dirty overalls that need washing! It's very reasonably priced and lasts us for ages.

2. Knit my own dishcloths I never learned to knit though I do know how to cast on and can do a few rows of garter stitch but that's the extent of my mastery of this home art. I was inundated with booties/jumpers/hats from the knitters among my family and friends when I had babies so had no need to pick up the needles and knitting never became a skill I needed to master. Am I upset about this? No, it's not something I am very drawn to but I can understand why many find it therapeutic. I'm happy to admire their creations and occasionally even buy a knitted item and in doing so support a local, handmade business and I'm grateful to those who buy the handcrafted cake stands and soy candles in teacups I make.

3. Make my own soap/beauty products I've certainly considered it. I have books with recipes for all manner of homemade beauty products. I know with some time invested I could master it - would have to be in the evenings when my young children are not around as caustic ingredients are involved in the process but it's another activity to add to the list. There are lots of soap makers in my region. I have friends who make soap. So for now I'm purchasing local handmade goats milk soap - the one I buy is long lasting and doesn't turn to a gloopy mess on the vanity. I'm very happy with it.

My twins in matching outfts.
Skirts and bows are handmade but not by me!

4. Sew my children's clothes - very often. I can sew, I own a sewing machine, I can transfer a pattern, I know what tailor's tacks are and what a seam allowance should be. I sigh when I see the beautiful hand sewn dresses that some mothers make for their girls. If I am honest, machine sewing frustrates me -when fabric puckers or a seam is not straight. My back is turned when at the sewing machine and I need to concentrate as I am very much a novice. I cannot give my attention to younger children as I can when I bake. My house falls into disarray if I sit for too long at the machine. I sometimes find hand sewn dresses  for my girls at garage sales for just a few dollars and take delight in that but I buy most of our family's clothing online from a company that sells many designer garments at drastically reduced prices. Most of the time I am paying less than the cost of fabric and patterns. Recently, I needed a liner for a vintage picnic basket. I had found some gorgeous vintage fabric covered in roses. I considered making the liner myself but decided to ask a friend who is a skilled sewer and pay her for her time. She did a beautiful job. I did not feel guilty!

 5. Have an immaculate home. If you were to call over now you would find skateboards/scooters on the patio that could really do with a good sweep - when you live surrounded by trees, leaves on the patio are a constant.. Only needs a breeze. Gumboots piled at the door. All good intentions of organized shoe storage after adding numerous pins on my 'beautiful storage' board on pinterest have not been realized. If you come to my house and see the boots in a neat row please realize I did that frantically 5 minutes before you arrived! There are signs of children everywhere - legos, blanket cubby houses/dens and a trail of peach foam bullets down the hallway. Signs of mum everywhere - stacks of plates and china on the buffet unit and a huge drill press on the dining room table. Signs of dad and ongoing renovations - power tools and piles of Bunnings receipts. Signs of life in this home. People live here and do stuff!

6. Make every meal from scratch. I love to use fresh ingredients and most of our meals are cooked at home but I do make use of some pre-prepared ingredients. I always have jars of Aldi's organic pasta sauce in the pantry to make a speedy spag bol on days when we are running late. You will find snap frozen vegetables in my freezer and a jar of preservative free curry paste in the fridge together with a tub of Greek yoghurt and Aldi's feta cheese. I don't make my own pasta and I don't feel guilty about that but I would feel guilty about using pesto from a jar right now to stir through pasta as I have a huge crop of basil in the garden. It's quick and easy to make so the pesto is homemade but the pasta is not. I'm okay with that.

7.Always shop at farmers markets. I used to have an idealistic picture of the shopper I would be. It featured me in a flowing dress, wicker basket in hand perusing organic produce at the farmer's markets and selecting cheeses to pop into my basket along with a bouquet of flowers at the trendy deli store. The reality is a 30 minute dash around Aldi. I shop there because it saves me money and time, they have a good organic range and Australian olive oil at an affordable price. I don't shop at the deli for cheeses, pickles and oils because I can't afford their prices. There is rarely a bouquet popping out of my basket - it would cut my grocery budget and I can fill up jars with herbal bouquets from my garden for free. I shop less at the farmer's market after the last stall that had all organic produce at reasonable prices (and my main reason for visiting the markets) had to pull out of the market - I was informed by the stallholder, a result of losing funding for the supported employment project that ran the market garden and stall. I'm still bewildered about that.

8 Fret anymore over the things I never achieved or have mastered. I have mentioned this before - I am a failure at making macarons. Two attempts resulted in pastel pancakes. Still tempted to give it one more go because I know how good they look on my cake stands. I don't really care if they are a flop again. I'll be happy to stick to fair dinkum Aussie afternoon tea fare - slices, thick and chunky and rolled in coconut or dusted with icing sugar which will still be served and enjoyed at afternoon tea for years to come! Cake decorating is another skill that has eluded me so no Lightening McQueen cakes for my boy's birthday. I  have no plans to join classes. As long as the cake has candles my children are happy!

These are more things I do not do but don't have time to list them all. I don't have guests every weekend even though hospitality is a passion of mine. I've kept this list to homemaking but there are other activities I don't do. I don't play the piano and we are not a musical family unless you count singing in the shower or worship time at church. I don't go to the gym, cycle, run or power walk. I don't have elaborate skin and make up routines. I don't write ebooks, speak at conferences or attend committee meetings. I don't run a ladies Bible study or lead any ministry programme at church. (We are involved as a family in a ministry to international students.) I don't keep this blog updated as much as I would like to.

What are some of the things around the home that you don't do? What do you not make from scratch? What are your homemaking/cooking shortcuts? What did you try but never master? Do you ever feel the pressure to accomplish all those homemaking projects you see pinned on pinterest or blogged about on blogs? To be good at lots of things and have 'pinworthy' pictures to prove it?


 A cake stand awaits macarons but I'm sure the family will not mind if they never eventuate!

Maybe next time I will share about my third attempt at macarons when my oven gets fixed. Still waiting on the part it needs and for the electrician to come back and fix it so all baking is on hold at the moment. Will it work or will I only have pastel crazy paving spread across my baking tray? Might be a fun post. If enough people dare me to try it I might give it a go, take pictures along the way and post them whatever the outcome.

May your Easter be most blessed as we celebrate life and remember the One who died and rose again that we might live and enjoy His presence forever.


A Primitive Homestead said...

Sounds like you live the real life. All that matters is our families are loved and know it. I know it's easy to make everything look perfect in a 3X5 picture. Our home is lived in. There are not enough minutes in a day to do it all. I like homemade homegrown food but not always an option. Blessings! Lara

Pam said...

I love this post Ann, what a relief to read and even hold the freedom in ourselves to express to all "I can't do it all". None of us can. We all have our gifts, our passions our delights, but all too often the temptation to keep up with all those amazing things is a set up for failure and discouragement. I love your list. I have done several of the things you don't do, but there are also many of those things on your list that I don't do either... and many that you do that I don't. I love your description of your house... I find great comfort in the idea of a house filled with life, family, children, activities of all kinds... none of which contribute to an immaculate home. How often I have cleaned my home perfectly only to see it messy and dusty a day and half later. I have never made macaroons either, or sewn my children's clothes very much (I have made a few things, but not very many... I am not a seamstress, but do enjoy sewing if I can ever get to it). I love the idea of making everything from scratch
but cannot manage to do it; I love to eat healthy food and low sugar... but am not always consistent the way I should be, because I love a little comfort food.. and so does my family. I rarely go to farmers markets, but would love to if I could find more of them close to home, I long to grow and make everything I eat... but it is impossible. Oh you are a treasure, Ann, and a kindred spirit and a blessing. Keep doing the wonderful things that "you do", and continue being blessed with your beautiful family and life that the Lord has given you. May it be so for all of us.
Love and Blessings,

Chris said...

I actually look at people who can achieve quite a lot in their lives, and more often than not, I discover they're either retired, don't have children yet or they've had kids, but they've left home.

When we have children to be responsible for, there isn't a lot of time to focus on difficult or extremely detailed tasks. I've always wanted to focus more on my painting and artistic side, but I know it's a deliciously selfish pursuit that will have to wait until the kids are making their own lives as adults.

I haven't managed to make my own soap yet, but I would like to try it one day. I do make my own laundry soap, but then saw a bulk supply of septic friendly laundry powder recently, and wondered if I should try that instead?

We'll be having a new baby sometime in May/June, and I've been looking for "alternatives" to my usual routines. As I know how demanding new babies can be on schedules, and I'd rather keep my sanity for my family's benefit, than feel like I have to do it all.

Did you use disposable nappies or reuseable ones? That's my current quandary at the moment. I will probably try both, as I know there will be those days the sun won't shine and I don't want to go and buy a clothes drier just for nappies!

Camille said...

I *SO* enjoyed this post, Ann. I agree...we must be careful not to overdo things and keep everything in proper balance...as the LORD enables! How quickly we can become condemned by the achievements of others...but, it ought not to be! Our standard is the Word of God and what HE requires of us...not what *Good Housekeeping* magazine tells us is the standard. Hmmm...I love to cook from scratch, but, like you, I do rely on some ready-made things like spaghetti sauce stored in the pantry for those *crazy* days. I enjoy making homemade bread, but, in this season it's not been happening. And, that's okay. Like you pointed out...there are seasons, and we must embrace them. :)

Love to you!

mashelly said...

great post...its all about keeping it real

Monika said...

Thank you for this post! I would like to do everything very well, but it does not work. I'm learning not to be satisfied with myself. God bless you, your family's beautiful!

Unknown said...

Great post Ann, so good you keeping it real, I think we tend to get a bit of a skewed view of reality when we usually only see the pretty and the perfect on blogs!

katherine said...

Thanks for sharing from your heart...my heart feels a bit lighter after reading your words. Happy Easter!

Amelia said...

*big smile* I know how you feel!

I always say... K.I.S.S. Keep it simple sweetie!

It looks like you are doing a great job. : ) Nothing like a peaceful, joyful home.


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