Thursday, December 30, 2010

To be wilder.

When Laura and Almanzo Wilder left the Dakota Territory to make their home in the Ozarks of Missouri, they built their home from materials they harvested from their land and named the place Rocky Ridge Farm. Being a Laura expert *grin*, I happen to know that she was roughly five feet tall. In the books written after the Little House series, Laura's notes and essays about their home and being a farm wife detail the design of their house and specifically of her kitchen. Her cabinets were flush floor to ceiling to eliminate places where dust could gather, a large cabinet was built into the wall separating the dining room and kitchen with doors on both sides so that dishes could be removed on the dining room side to set the table and put away on the kitchen side after washing. And her counter tops were of the perfect height, if you happen to be a farmer's wife of five feet.

Taking Laura's example to heart, I am an advocate of thoughtful attention to the art of homemaking so that things can be done both well and as easily as possible. To this end, I am a fan of the dishwasher. I did not have a dishwasher for almost 20 years. Can you believe this? Barbaric. Once I got one, I wondered what I ever did before. It makes me more likely to cook and bake knowing that clean-up will be easy. I have a first floor laundry as well, a left-over from my grandparents' lives here. They didn't have a spot for a laundry on the first floor but they found it anyway and it too, makes my life easier. Our fireplace was once wood-burning back in the 1970s. My grandfather converted it to gas and after we moved in, the Mr. replaced it with an updated gas log that has a remote. The shower added to the basement keeps our upstairs bath clean and neat all the time. All of these things require money, to be sure. And no one understands better than I that money is not always there. Hindsight has taught me, however, that I spent away dishwasher money several times over. The trick being that I never had $500 extra lying around so I spent it in fives and tens over the years. This was foolish and regrettable. I think the Wilders and my grandparents had in common the wisdom of moving slowly, planning carefully and delaying instant gratification.

In the short and cheap plan, there are other ways to make a home. Start with a schedule, with paper and pen write a calendar for the care of your home. You'll need to play around with it over some time but your goal is to find the plan that makes life the easiest because this will be the plan that you will adhere to. Consider the seven days of the week and block off the ones that are not to be used for chores. For me, Sunday is immediately blocked off. I want my Saturdays free as well so my next step is to do as much as I can to have as little to do as possible on that day. Next, consider a maintenance plan. I think it's silly to wear yourself out once a week to have a house that becomes increasingly messy day by day. What basic things need attention daily? If you do this, you will not have an all day cleaning on your schedule at all. And, your home will be nice every day. Examples? Wiping down the bathroom, putting away clothing, cleaning the kitchen, making the beds, picking up before bed each night.

My final advice is that when the time comes to invest money, give this careful thought as well. Remember that grout needs scrubbing, light colored carpet will need regular cleaning, textured flooring will trap grime. Pergo floors can be cleaned with white vinegar and water or water alone. Pergo may require money saved over a longer period of time but it will give itself back in time not spent on hands and knees scrubbing linoleum. Trendy furniture will grow tiresome more quickly than your bank account will refill to replace it. Cheap furniture will wear out before the same account is able to buy new. Give thoughtful consideration to a realistic budget that includes both money and time to save it and make the best choice of quality and timelessness you can. If you aren't sure which floor or couch or tile to choose, walk away and let your thoughts settle. Whatever is lacking in money can be made up for in time.
If you are of a mind like mine, home goods make wonderful gifts. The better you know yourself and your plans for your home, the easier to tell people exactly what you would like when gift-giving occassions arise. Do you really need another Yankee Candle for $20 or might a great platter for Thanksgiving be better?

If you look around and wonder where to start, choose a day within the next seven. Then choose a time that is not already occupied. Then call a meeting with yourself, a pen and paper. When you identify what you can do today and do it you will find inspiration to figure out what can be done this week. Before you know it, you will be living every day in the house of your dreams. Some of the dream will be reality and some still in your heart but dream away. Live in a place worthy of dreaming.

Image: Bed linens changed Thursday evenings. Nick & Nora jersey sheets from Target, a gift from my sister. Photo pre-new bedroom set!


Pat said...

Blossom away Sweet Pea!

Mrs. Mac said...

You are definitely a Laura expert (it takes one to know one;) .. Homemaking is an art .. you paint it well :)

Patty H. said...

Timely post for me.
Need to make that 'date' w/ pen and paper.
Patty H.

Trish said...

I have from the start of my marriage had daily chores...never let anything get away from me. For whatever reason, I don't mind doing dishes and have always loved keeping my home neat and dust free.
Tom always has a list of chores, upgrades etc...he is a blessing!
Enjoy it all Sara...Our homes are our castles...Lovely post sweet girl!
P.S. And this you may find quite shocking... but in my old age laundrocizing isn't something I dread. LOL.
Love you!