{The Art and Science of Keeping a House - Part II}

Don't you get bored? It must be nice not to have anything to do... Don't worry, I'm sure you'll find work soon! And my all-time favorite...what do you do all day?

I am asked these questions All. The. Time. I recognize that it is no longer the 'norm' for a woman to stay home, especially one who does not yet have children to care for (no need to be rude though, OK?). However, The Husband and I decided early on that this was one way to build a loving, happy home, and that this was the way that we wanted to build ours. From the beginning. So, let's start at the beginning! Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, and the day that gears us up for the rest of the week, so what better place to start our journey through the week of this not-so-typical housewife!

7:16AM on the dot. How do the dogs know? They are like fuzzy, breathing, sometimes stinky alarm clocks. It's OK, it's church day, and we need to get up anyway. With very little variation, my day starts the same way: Try to ignore the incessant whining of the dogs. Take basal temperature while trying to fall back asleep (without choking myself with the thermometer). Roll out of bed. Let the dogs out. Let the dogs in. Feed the dogs. Let the dogs out.

Today is Sunday, so we're headed to Mt. Olivet United Methodist for the 8:30AM service. Luckily it's only about a 10-minute walk, so we can sleep pretty late, and today, Husband chooses to do so. He finally rolls out of bed about 7:55AM, and I actually feel a little bad, since he's done a LOT of work and a LOT of driving in the last 36 hours. I set to work making coffee and getting dressed, then we're out the door. After church we walk home, and as we approach the door we realize that neither of us brought keys. Good thing we live on the ground floor! Breaking and entering isn't a sin if it's your own apartment, right?

Sunday is sometimes a lazy day, sometimes not, but most of the time we try to relax and spend at least part of the day at home together. Today is not one of those days. I make a breakfast of pancakes, ham and cheese omelets, crab cakes, and coffee, and then Jean is out the door to get started on his busy afternoon and evening. He's working on a basement remodel and wants to get up some drywall. Or compound. Or something...I kind of glaze over since he's way more technical than I typically understand. After he's finished with work for the day he has a rehearsal for a Catholic University show, and doesn't plan to be home until 10PM. Looks like I'm on my own for the day!

I make a conscious effort to slow down on Sundays, so after I dust and vacuum the apartment, clean up from breakfast, make the bed, and do a quick clean of the bathroom, I spend most of the afternoon working on my February menu and grocery list. We need to make a bank/ATM and library run as well, but in the spirit of slowing down (and the effort of saving gas), I think I will do those tomorrow since I'll be out anyway. On nights that it's just me, I typically graze on leftovers or turn to something we have in the freezer (Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken and macaroni & cheese are current favorites). After dinner it's shower time before heading to bed to read (currently 'Little Town in the Ozarks' and 'Power of a Praying Wife') and/or watch TV. Good night!

BUSY DAY! After lounging in bed for a while (it's just so dang COLD here!), Husband and I got up and didn't stop moving again until we returned to bed tonight. My day started with the doggy dance and a hot breakfast for us humans. After a quick phone meeting with the boss and some editing work, Husband and I were both out the door and on our separate ways.

Today on my agenda is a trip to Walmart and Aldi. We menu plan a month's worth of meals at a time, and then I make one big trip to Aldi to buy our month's worth of groceries. That way, we stay out of the stores for the most part, which cuts down on impulse purchases, gas, and time. Both Aldi and Walmart are about 15 miles away from us, so it's not practical to make frequent trips. We are also able to take advantage of Aldi's rock-bottom prices. I urge everyone who has an Aldi nearby to visit! OK, stepping down off of my Aldi soapbox...

Next stop is Walmart to pick up a few toiletries and a gift card for a friend who's facing a hard time. I call Husband on the way home to see how his day's going, and it turns out that he's not able to get into the house he's currently working on, so he's agreed to reschedule with the homeowner to come back tomorrow. He heads home to help me unpack the car, then we head out to run the rest of our errands together. On the way home he hits BJ's for dog food, and I hit Harris Teeter for eggs, and once we've unpacked, it's back out we go!

The rest of the afternoon is spent at Pentagon City Mall (returning a pair of jeans and getting a pair of glasses adjusted), the library (we spend a LOT of time at our wonderful library!), and the bank before returning home.

The evening is spent watching TV, making and eating dinner (chicken wings and salad, with homemade chocolate chip cookies and chocolate soy milk for dessert), and just being together. I have a bit more editing and Facebook work to finish up before heading to bed to read.

Today is what we in the housewife business call an 'at home' day. Yay! Thanks to our marathon errand running yesterday, I am able to stay home today and do things around the house. Does this mean I watch soap operas and eat bon bons all day? Ha! Yeah right... Here's my to-do list for this 'at home' day:

Make bed
1 load of laundry (wash, hang dry, iron, fold, put away)
Work out
Clean the bathroom
Get spaghetti sauce in the Crock*Pot
Make bagels
Bake chocolate chip cookies
Dust living room & bedroom
Clean kitchen counters (moving everything off)
Grind coffee beans
Collect/take out trash & recycling
Clean up the yard (ahem...dogs)
Clean off the porch (snow coming?)
Make hair appointment
Post to blog
Finish editing the NSA Annual Conference brochure
Refill humidifier
Make dinner (linguini & meatballs in meat sauce, salad, garlic toast)
...and, when I get to 'rest' it will be to work on knitting gifts for others.

So, soap operas and bon bons? I think not!

Today is one of those days that comes along rarely, but makes me oh-so-glad that I don't work outside the home. The weather reports are calling for a 'major thumping' (their words, not mine) today, including rain and sleet all day, turning to heavy snow in the afternoon, and leaving us with up to/about 10" of snow before we're done. Neither Jean nor I slept all that well last night, so we took today off. From life. We literally didn't get out of bed until after 3PM. After a lazy 'breakfast' of pancakes, ham & cheese eggs, and coffee, we both settled down to TV and our laptops.

Housewifery and owning your own business isn't all lazy days, but once in a while they come along, and it is oh-so-nice to be able to take advantage of them when they do; secure in the knowledge that you've done everything you can to ensure a comfortable, happy, safe, and cozy home for your family.

Another 'at home' day for both of us. Husband was just about to leave for work when the homeowner on his current job text him to say that they were still without power from the storm Wednesday night, so not to bother coming all the way out. We were able to do some work around the house (including vacuuming, making the bed, 2 loads of laundry, cleaning out Jean's car, making lunch, prepping dinner, and LOTS of snow shoveling!) to catch up from our day off on Wednesday before heading to the Kennedy Center for Husband's show. Check it out!

After the show it was back home to switch over some of the laundry, eat dinner (tacos from the Crock-Pot!), and veg with a little TV.

Well, I've lost Husband to the road again! We awoke early and got him out the door for a few hours of work. While he was gone I spent most of the morning working out, finishing laundry and ironing (he might like to have a clean shirt or two to take on the road) and working on several projects for the NSA. After he returned home for a quick lunch, he was off again...this time to West Virginia and upper NW Pennsylvania. I sure do miss him when he's gone!

The rest of my afternoon was spent editing, reading, knitting, and watching Hoarders (if that isn't motivation to clean house, I don't know what is!).

Husband is still out of town, so I've a whole free day to myself. After Jillian Michaels 'shredded' me during my workout, I spent the morning fighting with iPodRip software and setting up some .rar files in my iTunes (oddly enough, while watching Little House on the Prairie...quite the juxtaposition!).

The family is coming by early tomorrow morning and we're off to visit Nana in Annapolis for the day, so on tap for today is:

Strip & remake bed
1 load of laundry (sheets - wash, dry, fold, put away)
Clean the bathroom
Bake shortbread
Bake soda cake
Dust living room & bedroom
Grind coffee beans
Clean up the yard
Refill humidifier

We're back to Sunday! Husband is still out of town (hurry home!), and I've a trip planned with my family to visit Nana in Annapolis. Before leaving I worked out, made the bed, frosted the cake, and started chili in the Crock-Pot. I hope you've enjoyed this trek through a week in the life of a housewife!

{The Art and Science of Keeping House - Part I}

"When you keep a house, you use your head, your heart, and your hands together to create a home - the place where you live the most important parts of your private life. Housekeeping is an art: it combines intuition and physical skill to create comfort, health, beauty, order, and safety. It is also a science, a body of knowledge that helps us seek those goals and values wisely, efficiently, humanely. Such knowledge is drawn from practical experience, family traditions, the natural and social sciences, and many other stores of understanding and information.

Some of this skill and knowledge is directed toward keeping the home clean, but cleaning is only part of keeping house, and in modern homes an ever-smaller part. Keeping house has always encompassed knowing and doing whatever is needed to make the home a small, living society with the capacities to meet the needs of people in their private life: everything from meals, shelter, clothing, warmth and other physical necessities to books and magazines, play, facilities for entertaining oneself and others, a place to work, and much more."

-Preface, 'Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House'

How does this look in practice?
How is this applied in the day-to-day workings of a housewife?
What the heck do we do all day?
Stay tuned for Part II!

{'Tis the Season...for Resolutions!}

Has everyone made their resolutions for 2011? You know the ones... lose weight, fall in love, finally climb that mountain/run that marathon/conquer that 'insert-hurdle-here'. Mr. Finstad and I set a few resolutions for ourselves, and unlike what is usually the case by January 10th, we're still sticking to them! Our biggest resolution for 2011 is more of a goal. Something that we're working towards, and if it happens - great! If it doesn't, well, at least we were working towards something and not just floating around aimlessly. So here's to you, 2011. Here's hoping you help us reach all of our 'DebtHouseBaby' goals in the next 355 days :)

Now for a little gratuitous kissing...errr...I mean...New Years Eve pictures. Enjoy!

Not creepy at all Jean... Not at all...

Who's working on paying off debt, buying a house, and having a baby? This girl, right here, winking at you.

I heart these people, big time. We don't see them enough.

Same with these peeps. Except Nathan, because like Jean, he makes super-creepy faces into the camera.

Aaaaaaand there it is. Happy New Year, everyone!

{Menu Plan Monday: The Fall of the Food Hoarder}

I get a lot of questions and comments about menu planning, mostly from people who wish they could menu plan, but don't seem to think that they have the time or patience to do so. I've been menu planning for a little over a year now (wow...can that be true?!), and I thought that yeah, it probably helped, but it was more of a fun, 'housewife-y' thing to do, right? Definitely. Not.

We returned from our honeymoon on December
3rd (remember these happy people? --->),
and I thought that I was being oh-so-organized by typing up a menu in iCal on our plane ride back from San Juan. Being that I was not armed, as usual, with my cookbooks, internet access, calendar of events and appointments, or trusty recipe box, this menu was hastily written from standby recipes. While this is not a bad way to develop a menu, it helps if you actually follow through and buy the groceries that you need. The best laid plans...

Many of my days this month were spent Christmas shopping, and subsequently, many of our nights held oatmeal for dinner. We even made a Run For The Border a few times (not that I EVER complain about that). That dreaded 5 o'clock feeling took over me more than once this past month. You know the one. The 'what's-for-dinner' question looms over your head, followed by the 'oh-crap-nothing-is-thawed' realization. Luckily I'm somewhat of a food hoarder and we always have oatmeal, powdered milk, eggs, canned goods, as well as other basics in the house, but these still pale in comparison to a solid, well-planned and home-cooked meal. Lesson learned: always plan - and stick to - your menu!

I invite you to take some time in this new year and make out a menu plan. It can be for a week, two weeks, a month, whatever works for you. Start simple - what are some of your favorite meals, your 'go-to' recipes? Write them down, making sure to take into account any night where you might plan to eat out or be away from home, check for any ingredients you might need, and make ONE trip to the store. You're halfway done! now, as long as you refer to the menu once a day or so, and remember to thaw or prepare anything that might need a little extra time, you're on the homestretch to having a home-cooked meal every night of the week, no Beefy 5-Layer Burritos needed. So, what are you having for dinner this week?

Monday: Chicken cordon bleu

Tuesday: Turkey burgers

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Beef stroganoff

Friday: Crescent pizza calzone

Saturday: Meatloaf and mashed turnips

Sunday: Wings & Caesar salad