Monday, July 25, 2011

Potato Head

Hello out there, it's just me, hailing you from lady of leisure land.

Today, I've fearlessly attacked the 10 pound bag of potatoes that are beginning to turn into potato spider/crabs as they begin to sprout. There's just something so bizarre about a potato that begins to sprout...I remember when I was a teenage bride, defiantly ignorant of the ways of the kitchen and how once I opened a cupboard door where some neglected potatoes were kept...and I screamed...I literally thought there were some sort of bugs in there. Now the potato monsters got nothin' on me. I just sneak up on 'em with my peeler, and that's the end of it...

The freezer now has two large containers of garlic mashed potatoes, and some packages of frozen diced. Everyone loves potatoes, but no one likes to stand over a sink, peeling. So I just bite the bullet and make HUGE batches and then I feel like I can just wiggle my nose and mashed potatoes are *presto* ready for any busy day. God, who talks like that? I sound like I belong in some sort of instant potato flake commercial...circa 1962. *Sigh*, I am a very lonely woman, born into a very wrong time.

Also made some homemade pizzas, using nothing more than a basic pizza crust recipe, some tomato sauce, some crushed garlic, Italian spices, some mozzarella/cheddar cheese, and a crumpled package of pepperoni languishing in the back of the fridge.
Cranking up the This American Life webcasts makes washing up all the sticky mashed potato gook far more enjoyable. There's just something so enjoyable about listening to the radio while I pound away with the potato masher.

Here is the last batch of diced potatoes ready to flash-freeze. Now, supposedly they say that potatoes don't freeze well, but I am finding contradictions to this traditional household lore. According to one article I found, it's all about the these have been boiled for 10 minutes on low as whole potatoes, similar to what I'd do for potato salad. They have been sliced and diced while they are still a bit on the hard side, yet you can stick a fork in them. Hopefully, they won't turn into mush when I decide to bake them. We shall see....

AND CHECK OUT MY NEW JELLO MOLDS!! Well, new to me, anyway. Lately, the Universe has seen fit to shower me with many a retro treasure, perhaps because the Universe knows that I will take super-duper care of them. These molds were free from a secondhand store, because I had a coupon for a return I'd made long ago. Yep, I know what you're going to ask. Yes indeedy, I fully intend to break open the boxes of horse-hoof, fruit flavored and sugar compounds and create my own wiggly confections. And wouldn't the ring one make lovely mounds of rice! More to come on that!

I've also been blessed with a 1962 Better Homes and Gardens 'New' Cook Book that not only was half price of a copy I had lusted after in a ritzy antique store in my home town, but this one is actually CRAMMED with magazine recipes and ads from the time. On top of this, my copy was proudly signed by a Mrs. David E. Hoover. Looking at the flourishing capitals of her signature, you just know she was a lady of the club, who actually wore hats with netting on a REGULAR basis. I really, really like/admire Mrs. David E. Hoover, and wish I could have spent a day in her kitchen. Somehow, I think I would have had more in common with her than I do with most of the women I know today.
Well, at least I can carefully comb through her cookbook. I feel like I should be wearing white gloves when I go through these slightly flour-dusted pages, partly because that's how museum curators protect relics, and partly because a well-dressed friend of Mrs. David E. Hoover would most certainly have worn white gloves.

Off to take off my apron and put on some lipstick. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making my 'Maid' Piece

Domesticity permeates my art...and this piece is no exception. Right now, it is just being 'underpainted', meaning I am just putting basic color tones in. Shadows and highlights will come later. It will change radically over time. I'm not sure what is going to happen in other elements in the painting yet. There are clothesline poles in the back, and I keep getting a fuzzy image of ladies in evening gowns dangling from the wires...but somehow I think that persistent image seems like the 'easy' route and just doesn't quite satisfy. I do know that the box of washing soap will have "Immediate Gratification" as the brand name. I want to talk about how we emphasize things and status as crucial realities...when I don't believe they matter for much in the long run.

This piece will be entitled, "The Goddess of Fame and Fortune". I like the tongue-in-cheek notion that the goddess who rules the jet-set is a simple hotel maid...

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Same Boat

My grandpa, definitely a dirt farmer
I love to talk to seniors about their memories, and often the absorbing topic of the Great Depression comes up. The obvious, always asked question is: "How did you handle the extreme deprivation?" And over and over, the answer is surprising and the same...perhaps said in slightly different words...but always the same. The answer: "We got through it because everyone was in the same boat. There was no one to feel inferior to, because we were all the same way. And we got out of it together."

As we face a cataclysmic national debt and the fall-out from that, I fear that we will not 'find our way out' the way our great-grandparents did. Our narcissistic need to live our lives like we are celebrities, with our credit card debt, our McMansions, our car payments, our multiple bathrooms that are now a 'necessity', our Gap clothes that are only in our closets for a season, our restaurant dining that now, according to a national statistic is a three times a week occurrance....these are making the economic recession that swirls around us even more terrifying...and we are even more vulnerable.

Our ancestors had many things today that our money cannot buy. One, they had lower expectations. They knew that a paid-for home trumped a luxury vacation every time, and that money saved and hand-me-downs were far more a sign of stability/wealth than spa treatments and fat credit card statements. Two, they were resourceful and thrifty. Back then, they bragged if they made something themselves or got it for a pittance. They canned and gardened and sewed clothes out of flour sacks. Today, we still like to flash and show off the huge amounts we spent on items, our 'bling'. Number three, they knew what really mattered. When you're living in the dust bowl, I'm sure it becomes plain real quickly that the most important things in life are faith, family, friends and food. And they knew that a person never, ever is his or her material possessions. They knew that a man's word meant something, but it wasn't just his word, it was how hard and how honorably he worked.

In an age where so many think that they are automatically special, that they deserve the best in life without earning it, I fear that there will be even more suffering than the Great Depression. Buried in our stuff, we have lost the real treasures.

Truly Living Richly

In the spirit of the last post, check out Amy Dacyzyn, the Martha Stewart of tightwaddery. I have always loved her philosophy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dusting off your dusting know-how

In my cleaning business, I would say that lack of dusting is the prime mess maker of a house. Dust combines with grease in kitchens and over time makes an inpenetrable goop that sticks to every surface, from cups to range tops to the outside of cupboards. To me, dusting my kitchen once a week is every bit as important as keeping up on the dishes and wiping down my counters. This includes the top of the'd be amazed at what accumulates there...and the sides and tops of cupboard doors. I even dust the top of my washing machine and dryer, and the top of the water heater. It just seems to me that things work better if they're not bathed in dust.

Granted, I clean for people with special needs, who often struggle with the organizational skills of housework. It gives me first hand knowledge of a.) how much dust can really accumulate in a house just in a month and b.) how much dust can damage a house. I have seen dust rise like silt waves on walls behind furniture and coat surfaces like a grey lint coat. And I've seen dust bunnies that have transformed into some sort of under-the-bed ferile rodents. When you consider that dust is actually a not-so-lovely combo of hair, skin cells, dirt, and bacteria, and how it can affect the breathing of those compromised with lung ailments such as asthma...well, suddenly, dusting is not just a dainty, busy-work task for a little maid with a feather duster.

The secrets of thorough, quick dusting are to do it regularly and not to look for dust, but instead to dust every surface as if it already IS dusty...whether you can see the dust or not. I use Swiffers--the best invention to mankind--and try to stay away from the furniture polish. (I know that there are waxy buildup is supposedly a thing of the 1950s, but I'm still afraid that my woodworker father will hear the hiss of that lemon-yellow aerosol can from across town and come at the speed of sound, hurtling himself onto my coffee table, braving putting his life on the line for authentic varnished oak.)

So, I use Swiffers (honestly, this is not some sort of product placement, honest), and I work from top to bottom. I do all the upper corners, door frames and lightly brush the walls. Mother-in-law, no smug smile and smeared white glove for you! Working my way down, I then get to the tables, end-tables and seats of chairs, paying especially close attention to the legs and backs of chairs. As mentioned before, I do this religiously every week...every Tuesday, as a matter of fact. Yes, I really am that Felix Unger-ish....

But you can see your reflection in my coffee tables, and that's a cheap thrill.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Today I am grateful for...

Today I am grateful for:
1. A shepherd's pie ready to go into the oven. Just need to grate the cheese to melt on the top.

2. Finishing the last stitch on the second baby quilt. Now I start to learn to knit!!

3. Record low temperatures in my part of the woods, which means that the car won't start, which means that I get to hibernate and do some much needed maintenance on my website and photograph my artworks in this great white winter light.

4. The new book I ordered, "The Drama of the Gifted Child" came today!

5. The new munchkin grandgirls, who showed up early to the party, but sure are beautiful and healthy.

6. New inspirations: a concept for my own art gallery on our future property, and fresh ideas about our future house. I've even had a new burst of insight into creating miniature paintings!

7. It's Friday--enough said.

8. That I'm starting to finally figure out how to take a good photograph of my art...after over a decade! grr!

9. The delight of watching Olivia De Havilland in "To Each His Own" and Norma Shearer in "Marie Antoinette" back to back on TCM today. Both are Academy Award winners and truly deserve the honor.

10.Steaming hot cocoa.