A is for August: The Rest of the Kitchen!
Laundry and Life

Random Thoughts on Dishcloths, Irons and Bread

It's probably a bit early to do this, but I had to make a quick status report on the kitchen clean-up project!

As of 8:45 this morning, the kitchen sink and the dishwasher were empty (!) and both the island and the table had been cleared and wiped down after breakfast. A fresh trash bag was placed in the waste bin, and the old trash bag had, in fact, left the building. Also, much to my homemaker heart's delight, my bottom drawer was filled with those freshly laundered kitchen cloths I've referenced in previous posts:

Progress_cloths

With 30 clean dishcloths I can tackle any mess!

In case you are interested, I buy these cloths by the dozen at Target. ($4.99 usually; $2.49 when on sale.) They are wonderfully absorbent, wash well, and are a great alternative to paper towels. I find we go through about four a day.

Another good sign - yesterday's dishcloths are not still sitting, sodden, in and around the kitchen sink. Nope, not today. Instead, they have been wrung out and hung up to dry (before laundering) on the shower rod! Not only that, but fresh cloths were placed at the sink first thing this morning. :)

Aaannnd, drum roll please - I made pumpkin bread - before noon! Yep, those clean counters (and that empty sink) finally spurred me into some home baking action!

Progress_prep

See now, this is the rub when it comes to baking - I love to bake. And my family loves it when I bake! But it often seems like it's just going to be so much work. Not enough time, not enough space, not the right ingredients on hand. But here's what I learned when I started the process today (nothing new really, just some common sense kicking in):

  • The freed up counter space that initially inspired my baking impulse, also allowed me the room to line up all the ingredients and the equipment. Once it was all laid out it seemed more doable. My grandmother - possibly the finest homemaker I've ever known - always had her supper prep. set out on the kitchen counter early in the day. Efficient and comforting at the same time.
  • Because the sink and the dishwasher were both empty, there was somewhere to wash things and space available in the dishwasher for the used equipment.
  • Clean as you go - my mum has always told me! So as I used an ingredient it would be promptly returned to its spot, and as I finished with a utensil it was rinsed and went right in the dishwasher.
  • When I was done, and the breads were in the oven, my kitchen was back to the way it had been 20 minutes before. And even better, my family had fresh pumpkin bread with lunch! :)

Progress_breads_2

A sight for sore eyes ...

This recipe is pretty easy to begin with, but I think there's an even easier way. It's a standard quick bread recipe that you can use for any number of 2-cup measures and mixtures of "wet" ingredients. But the ingredients are numerous and cumbersome.

What I would like to do is make up containers (or baggies?) of the dry ingredients, all sifted and pre-measured, and keep those in the cabinet (or the fridge?). The 2-cup mix-and-match ingredients can also be made up and stored ahead - 2 cups of mashed pumpkin or squash, applesauce or grated zucchini, mashed carrots or bananas. It's a great way to use what's in season and freeze it! (Peach butter bread is delicious!) But do you see how this would make whipping up a quick loaf (quite possibly my family's favorite food) even easier?

An easier method = more yummy breads = a very happy family. Home ec. at its most basic. :)

This is another area I'm working on - the planning out and preparing of meals ahead of time. A while back (during pregnancy #3 I believe) we had a great system in place, using compartmentalized Ziploc containers. Inspired by Lunchables, which my (deprived) children covet but are never allowed (poor things) - "homeschooler hot lunches" we called them! :)

Hot_lunch

O.K. so nothing's actually hot, but the kids still think it's fun!

On a not-so-hot note - we had a small household crisis this morning when we needed the iron and couldn't find it. Absolutley no idea where the iron was. Did we even have an iron? Ah yes, dh remembered we did in fact once own an iron - but it had been lost in a springtime flood. And the ironing board? Well, we couldn't find that either, but it's not much good without an iron anyway.

This doesn't speak well of my homekeeping skills, does it?

No, normally I'm not a big ironer. But we really did need it this morning to iron a logo onto ds's VBS crew leader shirt. True to form, we left this simple task to the last minute - obviously time management is another area I need to tackle - only to discover we were pitifully iron-challenged an hour before VBS would begin! Fortunately, my mom, who lives but a mile from us, let us borrow hers.

In my (rather weak) defense, we don't have a lot of opportunities for ironing - dh has his work clothes done at (an environmentally friendly) dry cleaners. But really, that's a poor excuse. Every home should have a good working iron! And come to think of it, we do have clothing that could stand to be pressed - though perhaps that's why we don't wear that clothing too often! There is something to be said, though, for wearing, and caring for, our Sunday best - and my friend Helen says it beautifully here.

Honestly, though, I do love the idea of irons. Despite never using mine (or noticing when it's gone missing), I love looking at them, reading articles about them, comparing the brands. Helen wrote another wonderfully inspiring post about her new ironing board not too long ago - and I don't think I ever told her how much I enjoyed it! Thank you, Helen! :)

Bottom line, ironing represents a level of homekeeping I'd like to achieve. I would love to be the type of homemaker who's in need of a good iron, (who actually knows where her iron is), and who has - no, makes - time in her schedule for ironing. Say, an hour or so once a week, well before Sunday - for pressing some fresh laundry, perhaps misting it with lavender water first, stacking it in tidy piles on the shelf or in a basket ...

Am I over-romanticisizing things? Perhaps. But surely one can find a little simple elegance in ironing - that is, if one can find her iron in the first place. ;)

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