Hope you get everything you wanted this year:
A Year-Long Experiment in Vintage Beauty
Tag Archives: Housekeeping
“Many men complain that women have an appalling tendency to relax after marriage…they leave their gadgets out in the open…” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.
Lately I’ve been doing a TON of craft projects–cross-stitch, art cards, all of my letters (so many letters!) wrist cuffs, pajamas! But nobody likes a mess, Ian especially. He hates clutter, and he’s taught me to hate it too. I’ve gotten to the point where I actually make my bed. I know, like a real grown-up, right?
But let’s face it–craft projects are clutter just waiting to happen! There’s thread and fabric scraps and Mod Podge stacked all over, not to mention the books (I bought The DIY Bride the morning after my engagement, as a little present to myself). I wanted to keep things neat and tidy, so I decided that the best way was to, you guessed it, craft!
I am glam geek girl, so I took a page from my favorite video game, Chrono Trigger, and made a Lucca-esq box for all my needles and thread. I stained a basic wooden box with cherry stain and then hot-glued on metal corners from Idea-ology, then added decorative steampunk-esq gears. I cut felt flags like you might find at the Millennial Fair and also added a decorative clock face, of course.
Inside, I covered two pieces of cork board with green fabric and hot-glued them to the top and bottom. The top holds all my skeins with pushpins, and the bottom holds all my tools: tiny scissors, an “antique” felt needlebook and a pincushion in the shape of a Nu, complete with googly eyes. It keeps everything neat and contained, plus it looks AWESOME.
On Having It All And Nothing At All
Today I put on a cute outfit, went to the dentist and had three cavities filled, scrubbed the upstairs bathroom (full), cleaned the downstairs bathroom (half) vacuumed all the rugs, swept everything, laundered the linens, dusted, laundered the clothes (three loads), washed dishes, folded the clothes, made dinner, participated in my local government while simultaneously being at my job, laundered bath mats and updated my company’s website.
I had it all! Work! Career! Man! Home! Clean teeth!
And it all kind of sucked.
I felt so alone. Everywhere I turned, someone was snarking, either directly at me or in my direction. I sat through an hour-long meeting where a woman shouted about bags of leaves on the curb, zoning laws, and possibly some combination of the two. I sat patiently while Ian sulked about the car even though his sulking makes my guts rot from anxiety. I sat patiently while my father-in-law ranted about banks and how too many people destroy old beautiful homes. And I did this all without screaming, “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” because I am a lady. But inside, I’m pretty sure I’m developing an ulcer from the constant stress of trying to make everybody happy. Because if I don’t sweep, the house won’t get cleaned. If I don’t cook, everybody eats garbage in front of the TV. Being a reporter means going where the news is, whether it’s a city council meeting or a murder scene, so I am constantly on high alert, waiting for the phone to ring.
My boss, Jim, remarked the other day that I try too hard to be helpful, which often shields other people from blame and piles it on my doorstep. This is very true. Because I’ve learned that if I don’t try to fix it, I get blamed by the party I’m shielding, and if it doesn’t actually get fixed, I get blamed by the original party. It’s like being the middle child at work and at home. It’s like being asked to do sorcery.
Arlene would say to grin and be pleased that I have a job and a home and a man to take care of (in my case, two). But f*** if I don’t want a day where no one snarks at me, where someone helps me carried my load, where I’m not asked to constantly asked to explain away or shoulder what feels like the entire world.
Cooking Terms and What They Mean
Because all those women in the 1940’s clearly just microwaved a pizza before they got married!
“Buying Food” (1950)
If I’m going to cook for Ian and my Panel of Gentlemen, I guess I’d better learn how to buy food–that Hannaford can be so confusing sometimes!
Putting the “Lady” in “Homeless Lady”
The reason I have not been posting these past few days is because Ian and I had to leave our house due to some sort of massive plumbing failure that struck at 1a.m. on Friday. We have no water, and don’t know when we’ll have water, so we’re living with his dad until we can find a new place to live.
But I am not deterred from my quest. If anything, it means I get to fuss over Ian AND his dad, set up a new household . . . but if my posts aren’t as frequent for the next few days, just trust that somewhere in upstate NY, I am primping and preening and tidying and packing.
But back to the good stuff.
For a week I followed Arlene Dahl’s advice to get up, put on makeup and look pretty for when the man of the house arises. I ditched the “gay housecoat” the second day in, realizing that my loud lumpiness was not exactly impressing Ian. The second day was harder than the first; my friend Ari was visiting and we stayed up late chatting, so I was exhausted and kept trying to make excuses for why I should stay in bed.
But I got up and got ready each and every day. And I started to enjoy the time to myself. I felt more prepared to take on the day, I was relaxed when Ian did get up. I had time to have a cup of tea and write a little. It was nice, and I intend to continue.
Arts & Crafts: Ruffled Apron
I have always loved making and altering my clothes. I’ve turned tee-shirts into dresses, sweater sleeves into socks, plain black jeans into gothy D-ring bell bottoms (take that, Hot Topic!). I made two of the dresses I wore to my grad-school dances, one disco-ball sparkle a-line inspired by the B-52’s and, for my graduation, a modified version of the pink dress Geena Davis wears at the end of Earth Girls Are Easy, because Geena Davis is my idol.
I’m a craft geek, and I’m not afraid to show it.
A few years ago, my sister Hilary bought me Megan Nicolay’s awesome Generation T, which, along with the sequel Beyond Fashion, has hundreds of ideas for what to do with tee-shirts. I’ve made throw rugs, placemats . . . heck, the hoodie I’m wearing as I type this is just an Old Navy one with the image from an vintage XL Morrissey tee-shirt stitched onto the back.
The way I see it, If I’m going to be cooking for my man, it’s probably a good idea to have an apron so I don’t get bacon grease all over my gay housecoat. Good thing Beyond Fashion has project #41, “Central Cooking (Ruffled Apron).”
I used my The Odd Couple (Female Version) cast tee-shirt (I was Vera) and tacked on, a la project #79 “Tattoo You,” cut-outs of Princess Peach and Gizmo from two other shirts.
I do all my sewing by hand. Not because I’m retro, but because that’s how my grandma taught me. My Home Ec. teacher in 8th grade was supposed to teach us how to use a machine, but she always forgot the materials and would pop in whatever PG rated movie she’d forgotten to take back to Victory Video on her way to school. My take-away from 8th Grade Home Ec. was that Alaska is a very stupid movie and Thora Birch is not a very good actress.
The project was fraught with the usual peril that strikes whenever I sit down to be crafty (just because I do it doesn’t mean I’m all that good). For starters, I cut the Odd Couple square too small, so now Peach and Gizmo sort of obscure the title, and the date, and the last part of Neil Simon’s name (measure twice cut once!). Because it is January, and I live in upstate NY, my fingers went numb sewing the miles and miles of ruffle (96 inches, to be exact . . . and then sewing another basting stitch back through it to gather)
But despite the craft agony, the result is just as cute as the one in the book, and will keep me clean as I slave over a hot stove.
Seriously, get this book. And while you’re at the bookstore, get me a new copy of Generation T–mine’s falling apart from use.
Happy New Year!
“It is important to be fresh and attractive in the morning as it is at bedtime–even if it means you have to get up 10 minutes earlier to wash your face, put on a little makeup, brush your hair and slip into a gay housecoat.” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.
Up at 8a.m. from a dream that Ian bought us a really nice little house. I don’t think he wanted me to go, but today’s the first day of my new, glam life!
Not sure what a “gay housecoat” is and too afraid to google it. I hope my red kimono will suffice and not send Ian into the arms of his secretary. If he had a secretary, I’m sure he would run to her now. With my blue fleece “cozy” pajama pants, my tie-dyed fleece socks and my red wool “JOIKE” sweater (from MST3K Santa Claus) I look like a hungover clown. Time for makeup!
Does having makeup on from the night before count? The hot pink eye shadow I wore to cover the New Year’s Gala refuses to budge. Two face-washings later, I can finally smudge on some eyeshadow. I try out a few new ways of combing my hair, but within moments, it has fallen like Fort Sumter in the same slightly-right part. At least it’s combed.
I’m already wearing lots of red, so I try to find a lipstick that’s a little more neutral. In my train case I find a copper lipstick I wore when I was going through my weird, androgynous Brooklyn phase, where my style icons were Tom Waits and Benicio del Toro in Sin City–lots of ugly button-down shirts, suit jackets and off-putting cosmetics. Arlene would not approve.
The lipstick backfires the neutral test. Two tissues later it’s left a faint, pretty trace. I slap some gloss on it and declare victory.
Ian is still asleep, so I decide to tidy up so he wakes up to a pleasant household (except for my housecoat). By 8:36 I have lit the furnace, finished the dishes, swept the kitchen and dining room, folded the clothes he left on the chair the night before and put away some stray things. I feel a surprising sense of accomplishment.
When Ian does wake up, he doesn’t really seem to notice except to snicker at my kimono.