100 Days to a Happy Housewife

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HappyHousewife.jpgI have the results!!

First, thank you to all of you who gave me such great ideas for my upcoming blog project. There are several ideas I'd like to put into practice in the future--some when I have more focus, some when I want to do something less long term. For the purposes of this go round, though, I've selected my friend Hala's suggestion:

1. Get one of those seriously enormous vintage housekeeping hints/domesticity books. The sort of thing filled with instructions on how to do things that you didn't even know people did (I'm supposed to be sunning my rugs?*) I have like six of these books. I could send you a couple. Also, have at least one modern book, just to check against.
2. Choose one thing or category of thing from the book and do it each week.
Sometimes this thing will be ridiculously out-of-date, and you'll have a funny post. You'll acquire skills on keeping your house in order, though, which you do want anyway. Also, I'd be really interested in your blogging your thoughts on gender and housework and such as they come up.
You can illustrate this whole thing with photos of you in cute retro cleaning outfits you get from etsy.
It would be awesome. A feminist stuck in the suburbs decides to undertake mid-century domesticity

And I'm going to do it for 100 days. That's right. Starting tomorrow, Saturday, May 1, and going through Sunday, August 8, I am going to do my best to become the perfect mid-century housewife.

Rather than using one book as my reference, I'll be using several, and introducing those to you as I go. My plan is to identify several things each week to tackle during that week, then blog to update you on how it's coming. I am not promising posts every single day, but I plan to blog at least five times a week for the weeks in between now and BlogHer (which conveniently falls during the last weekend of the project).

The purpose of this project is several-fold. First, it's something to get my blogging fingers warmed up again. Secondly, my big suburban house is a disaster and I could use a little domesticity. Third, I think Hala was right on that undertaking "mid-century domesticity" is a fantastic project for a feminist stuck in the suburbs. I will laugh, I'll probably cry, I'll definitely snark, and I'll likely learn a few things along the way.

If you have suggestions for the project, please let me know--I'm definitely flexible and I'd love feedback. Look for notes from my first day as a domestic goddess tomorrow!

(Huge thanks to Julia Lutgendorf, who you can visit at www.julialutgendorf.com, for my fabulous 100 Days to a Happy Housewife log!)

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Life List (in progress)

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For a couple of months, I've been reading along as Karen Walrdond works on her Life List. As someone who is already really into goals and the importance of writing them down, I've always wanted to make one myself, but never actually done it. So, yesterday, I started.

I'm not finished. This list should have at least 100 things on it. But this is a start, and I'll amend it as I think of more.

Do it. You'll feel better.

  1. Skydive.
  2. See a Klimt painting in Austria.
  3. Sit for a portrait.
  4. Run a dog rescue.
  5. Be someone's mother.
  6. Write a novel I'd want to publish.
  7. Visit Freida Kahlo's house in Mexico City.
  8. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  9. Do a major art installation project.
  10. See the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in all four seasons.
  11. Throw a wine-tasting party.
  12. Go to a barn-raising.
  13. Learn a new sport.
  14. Attend an artistic or spiritual retreat.
  15. Be a godparent.
  16. Speak at my alma mater.
  17. Visit the Elephant Sanctuary.
  18. Get a Ph.D.
  19. Volunteer for disaster relief.
  20. Have a rose garden.
  21. See the Northern Lights.
  22. Sail on a sailboat.
  23. Teach someone to read.
  24. Eat 100 local foods in the regions to which they are local.
  25. Tuck my hair into my waistband.
  26. Go on a trip with my mother.
  27. Organize a major charity event.
  28. Work with a dog visiting elderly hospital/hospice patients.
  29. Throw a surprise party.
  30. Have a dress custom made.
  31. Got to a dog show.
  32. Attend the birth of a child.
  33. Visit the sites of 5 revolutions.
  34. Have a cocktail named after me.
  35. Ride a motorcycle.
  36. Stay overnight at the Chelsea Hotel.
  37. Visit Rogue brewery.
  38. Observe the Supreme Court.
  39. Be in a movie.
  40. See the sun rise in Spain.
  41. Drive an American muscle car.
  42. Go zip lining in Costa Rica.
  43. Have a beignet in the French Quarter.
  44. Take Mark to Crater Lake.
  45. Attend an EPL football game.
  46. Write a collection of short stories based on the old women I've known/heard stories about.
  47. Stomp grapes.
  48. Take a road trip alone.
  49. Attend the Sundance Film Festival.
  50. Host a big family holiday celebration.
  51. Write a song.
  52. Have a non-canine or feline pet.
  53. Publish an article in a national circulation magazine.
  54. Plant a tree and watch it grow.
  55. Embroider or cross-stitch a sampler.
  56. Collect over 100 bottles of wine.
  57. See an animal being born.
  58. Visit Jim Morrison's grave in Paris.
  59. Do 108 sun salutations for Globa Mala.
  60. Take a trip by train.
  61. Learn to make doughnuts as amazing as my mom's.
  62. Go to thrift stores in/around every major U.S. city.

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A contest and a plea!

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Since we moved to Virginia, my blogging has gone downhill. I can't say why for sure--I have the time, and I'm still very interested. Be that as it may, though, I am barely squeaking out a few posts a month, and I hate it. With BlogHer looming in the increasingly near future, I feel especially crappy about not providing my readers with any content, or myself with the outlet to write and communicate that I know I need.

So I need a boost. A project. A way to get back into blogging. I've been thinking for a while about what that boost might be, and I'm coming up blank. I started listening to this book, Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant. Basically, she started a blog to document her project of spending an entire year putting all of Oprah Winfrey's advice into practice in her own life (and the project later became a book). It's fascinating. It's not all about Oprah--it touches on all sorts of things. I've always liked stuff like that--people who do something every day and blog about it. The Little Brown Dress Project. All the blogs that post daily outfits. My friend El's husband's hat-a-day blog. Even my own History Making Women series. I like the idea of committing to doing something every day for a set period of time and following through on that commitment--it demands some discipline, which I could frankly use, and the rote-ness of it adds something to what you get out of it.

So, this is where you come in. Give me a project. I'm gonna decide on the time frame, and it's going to depend on what it is, but I want you to task me. Tell me what I should do.

And I'm serious about this, so there's a prize. Whomever gives me the idea I take up gets an extra special sample basket, made up of stuff from the Little Black Box and Out of the Box sampler boxes I get every month. Not just the stuff I didn't want, either--the good stuff. But here's make your suggestions fast, because this contest ends in one week's time, at midnight on Thursday, April 29. My plan will be to start my new task on May 1.

Go!

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Treasure Map

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Do any of you do treasure maps? It's a bit woo, I'll admit, and I definitely have issues with a lot of the Secret-esque "power of positive visualization" crap behind it. That said, I believe in setting goals (obviously) and I like the idea of visual representations of what you want for your life. So, last year, I made a treasure map.

Last year's map:
Treasure map

I'm not sure how much it "worked." Some of what that map shows came to fruition, some didn't, some is still in progress. I'm amused to see a woman working out with a Wii on the map--I had forgotten that I included that, and I've been using my new Wii every day since I got it. There's also a clipping showing a woman working from home, which I've been doing since September. Other things--learning to knit, selling my bath products--haven't happened and likely won't (they don't reappear on this year's map). Looking at it, I feel an overall sense of progress and growth, which has to be at least part of the point. So, this year, I did it again.

This year's map:
Treasure map

I'm not going to go through every picture or word included, but some things that the clippings I chose for my map make clear are that I want another dog (possibly a German Shepherd), I want to read and write, I want to work on my physical health and strength, and I have fears I want to conquer. These are all worth while things to focus on. I plan to hang the map in my office/walk-in closet, where I will see it every day.

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Who, me, late adopter?

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I'll admit to being a late adopter. I didn't get a cell phone until 2002. My iPhone is two models old, even though I've had it less than a year. I resisted iPods forever and never moved beyond the original Nano. I don't know how to download music or watch television online (not anywhere but Hulu, anyway). It took me until it had been off the air nearly 10 years to watch Buffy. I never really like things until everyone else it completely over them. And I have always been completely anti-video game. The last one I remember playing with any enthusiasm was a Pac-Man game that took quarters to start, and I believe I had to stand on a stool to see it at the time.

But this week, the skies opened and I saw the light. The Wii light.

Seriously, y'all, I love it. I am embarrassed to admit it, and even more embarrassed to admit it like three years later than everyone else, but I love it. Bowling, golf, tennis, boxing (especially boxing), yoga, balance games, aerobics--I like it all. The game where I make combinations of numbers adding up to ten by thrusting my hips in their direction? Brilliant.

I think part of what I dig about it is that it allows me to do things that I am truly not coordinated enough to do in the real world, like hula hoop. I've always wanted to be able to hula hoop, and the Wii shows my little avatar swinging three at a time! And actual boxing might require me to feel actual pain, or even cause it in someone else, but I can beat the crap out of my animated opponent and feel no guilt.

Do I think it's going to solve all my exercise problems and magically remove 20 pounds from my ass and thighs? Not very damn likely. However, I do like that it has a feature that allows me to weigh my pets and track their weights. How incredibly odd to have added that! And though I think it's ideas about my "real" age (45) and BMI (solidly overweight) are bullshit, I enjoy the obsessive tracking of not only weight, but balance tests, that it engenders. I do so like to track things.

It is quite possible that my loving-bordering-on-romantic feelings for my Wii were jump-started by my realization, upon first getting on the Wii balance board scale, that my scale is, and has been since we moved, almost 15 lbs heavy. Nothing like magically removing 15 pounds from my self image to get me on your side. I suspect, though, that it's a bit more than that--the damn thing is just entertaining. It's fun for me by myself, though I hesitate to call it an actual exercise tool, and it's fun for Mark and I (so far we only have one controller, so we can only play golf and bowling competitively), and it's fun with friends. I'm interested in what other games I can get and what else it can do (I totally want a dancing game). I, God help me, see what all the hype was about.

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2010 Goals Check-In #3

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OK. I have got to get a better grip on time. Much like February, March just completely eluded me. Where have I been?

So it's time for goal check-in. And I know before I even begin that it wasn't a good month.

1. Take at least one overseas trip.
This is not in the cards for the spring anymore. Mark's job is too busy, and my freelance work is taking a lot of time as well. We're now hoping for a summer or (more probably) fall trip.

2. Read 30 books.
I'm in the exact same place here that I was last month--four read, three in progress. I haven't read a page in the last month. That's really embarrassing.

3. Get to a healthy size.
I'm back to walking Ata for an hour or so every day, which is great, but that's as far as I've gotten with this. I did just order a Wii, so I'm hopeful I will use that to get some exercise in. And I need to re-commit to a better diet.

4. Save $500/month.
Doing this, and I even managed an extra $500 this month from a freelance check.

5. Give 5%.
I think I might be a little bit under for this month, but I'm close, and I'll make it up.

6. Start retirement savings.
Done and I even have a plan for put my next freelance check in the account to help fund it for 2010.

7. Join something.
Haven't done a thing here.

8. Write a novel.
It's not a novel, but I am writing some fiction right now, which I'll count as progress here. I'm at the point where I can at least pretend I am working towards something.

9. Create something.
I completely failed on the tea towel swap. Ug. Negative progress here.

10. Remember birthdays and send cards.
Still not doing well here--I even failed to send my brother a card this month. I did buy a few new cards the other day though, so I'm recommitting for April. Mark's mom's birthday is a week, so I'll start there.

Now that I'm through the list, it's not quite so bad as I thought. Not great, but not as terrible as I expected. Gotta do better next month.

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