To continue our series for those who have better things to do than clean house, I'd like to share a few of the ABCs of mid-20th century housekeeping according to our dear Peg Bracken. This excerpt is from the "Bride's Own ABCs" chapter in The I Hate to Housekeep Book. My particular favorite is Instant Housekeeping, which I plan to try sometime. Unfortunately, my husband reads this blog so I'll have to wait a while until he's forgotten this post.
A is for Alphabet
"The alphabet is a handy thing to have around the house. For instance, you can organize your canned goods with it, Applesauce to Zucchini. Also whatever is in the medicine cabinet, Aspirin to Zinc ointment. Also your herbs and spices, Allspice to Thyme."
E is for Equipment
"Once you've acquired the basic biggish things for cleaning, washing, and cooking, proceed as porcupines are said to make love: quite carefully. Borrow the gadget first, if you can. Swap something for a week, in return for your sister-in-law's deep-fat fryer, to find out if you'd really use it if you had one.
Think of the attachments attachable to any self-respecting modern vacuum cleaner! At least six...all of which you are privileged to use before you drag out the wax applicator and the floor polisher.
But Great-Grandma moved gently behind her broom for a while, then laid the dust with the polish-soaked dustcloth she fished out of her Mason jar, and had time to sit down to read Love or Lechery: The Story of a Good Girl's Temptation, and a rattling good story it was, too."
I is for Instant Housekeeping
"This is for those occasions when you're going to be out of the house all day, but you don't want the house to look like it when your husband gets home.
Therefore, the minute he leaves in the morning, you steam into your Instant Housekeeping, which is usually housekeeping backward.
For instance, your own crash-plan might be:
1. Set the table for dinner
2. Build a modest pitcher of Martinis and set in the refrigerator
3. Lay a fire
4. Throw out the dead flowers
5. Shut all the closet doors and cupboard drawers
6. Do the breakfast dishes
7. Make the bed
Then you can sweep, dust, and all that sort of thing, if there's still time. But remember, when life is rich and full, and the chips are you know where, do last things first."
P is for Plastic Bags
"You will thank yourself for buying only bread that comes in reusable plastic bags and keeping all the bags. You can use these bags in 500 different ways. For instance:
1. Put one on each foot to protect good shoes if you must cook when you're dressed up
2. Use them in your dresser drawers as
- lingerie cases
- glove cases
- hosiery cases
- handkerchief cases
4. Use them as shoe covers when you travel
5. Put wet bathing suits and caps in them
6. Pack food in them for picnics
7. Slide them over ice-cream cartons to catch drips
8. Put cookies or leftover muffins in them to freeze
...plus 489 other purposes there isn't room to list here."
Z is for Zipper
"You aren't so apt to have trouble with them if you make sure they're zippered shut when you throw the clothes into the washer."
I hope that all of you reluctant housekeepers enjoyed this set of tips. Until next time....