An Early Breakfast

“If you want an early breakfast, you must have potatoes and cracked wheat or oatmeal boiled the day before; then coffee can be made, beefsteak cooked, potatoes stewed or fried in American style, the mush steamed or fried brown, and griddle cakes begun or eggs boiled, in fifteen minutes from the time you come down.  Time yourself by the clock, day after day, until you can do this.” -1884

I must admit, ever so humbly, that I have mastered the art of pulling boxes of cold cereal from the cupboard and cartons of yogurt from the refrigerator, and turning on the coffeemaker, all in less than 15 minutes.  I’m a blur of housewifery in action.

But a fast breakfast isn’t always the cheapest option so I’m always looking for ways to save time as well as money.  How am I working to speed up the breakfast process? The advice from 1884 holds true. Plan ahead!  Why is it that any job, however simple, seems to take less time in the evening than it does in the morning?  Here are a few examples that have helped me.

 

  • I cook 2-3 times the number of potatoes I’d normally cook for a meal, then store the rest in the refrigerator.  I’ll shred them up and fry into hash browns, with a fried egg on top or slice them up for a fried potatoes.  Precooked potatoes also give me a head start for breakfast burritos.
  • I always make multiple batches of muffins, waffles, and French toast.  They freeze and reheat just fine.
  • I soak oatmeal the night before.  I combine equal parts oatmeal and water with a spoonful of yogurt in a saucepan.  In the morning, I add the same amount of water again, with some sort of fruit and heat it up.  By the time it’s warmed, it’s cooked and ready to eat.
  • I schedule a breakfast routine.  Sunday is always cold cereal, Monday is oatmeal, Thursday is pancakes or waffles.  Having a regular routine reduces my need to think and not having to think always speeds my life up considerably.

These are a few of the strategies that I’ve intentionally begun to use.  It’s been an incredibly useful plan once it’s established.  Not only is breakfast served with less preparation time, but I get on with my day sooner because there is less clean-up involved.

Do you have any tips to make your breakfast routine smoother?  If you ask me, there’s no such thing as too much help in this area!

A Little Lesson in Laundry

Have you done your laundry this week? As I was doing mine, I thought that I’d collect some of the most valuable tips I have learned and share them with you. Sadly, most people don’t see laundry as a skill. In treating it as a simple chore, many housewives have missed the finer points, of which here are but a few.

 
1. Don’t keep reminding family members to clean out their pockets. Do it yourself! It provides the housewife with a Source of Income, including the highly valuable Garage Sale Quarters. Keep an inconspicuous jar or piggy bank in the laundry room to collect your earnings. I scored with $.97 in one pant’s pocket alone this week.

2. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we send a couple of loose pairs of pantyhose through the wash cycle. Add a bra or two and you have the makings for a family puzzle night.

The Meticulous Housewife hanging out laundry. Note the absence of undies on the line.
3. Speaking of undergarments, be strategic about hanging them on the line. Yes, you may have gotten fabulous clearance deals on underwear following the most recent holiday. But remember, your neighbor won’t be able to look at you in the eye when you see him around town. He’ll be wondering if you’re wearing the St. Patrick’s Day underwear with “Lucky” splashed across the backside or perhaps those Christmas wonders with candy canes that say “fa la la la la” all over. Or maybe the cheapie panties you love that sag in the backside or have lost any sense of elasticity. We all give our neighbors reasons to question our sanity, but let’s not encourage the rumor mill to run any faster.

4. And for yet another thought on this same topic… When tossing underwear into the washer, make sure one leg is not caught over the center agitator. Those panties will never fit you the same again. Unless of course, you have a disorder in which one thigh is 8 times the size of the other, in which case finding underwear is just one of your many problems.  Note: This sage advice is not simply a theory.

Now, housewives, armed with this newly-discovered wealth of knowledge–let’s get to that laundry with renewed vigor!!

Using What We Have on Hand

…we women should seek first the kingdom of righteousness in making ourselves efficient users of those things around us, things we can be bountifully supplied with at all times, before we aspire to become users of articles that come from distant parts and are not always easy to get.  -1905

Healthy food blogs nowadays have become a little wearisome.  The recipe looks delicious,  but wading through the ingredient list is complicated–

  • lard (home-rendered from grass-fed organic heritage pork fat)
  • milk (raw, organic, A-2 spring milk, preferably)
  • mayonnaise (homemade from organic avocado oil and organic brown eggs)
  • honey (raw, local) and my favorite,
  • pastured eggs (because eggs like to roll in the grass under open skies as much as anyone else!)

Anything less than the finest quality ingredients will result in irritable bowels, a leaky gut, gout, and cancer (or worse!), so we’re told.

Of course we want to provide our families the best of everything.  But sometimes, the best is cost-prohibitive, out of season, or simply not easily available to us.  If we could afford it, I don’t think any of us would decline a juicy, garden-grown tomato for one of those dry, tasteless ones shipped from parts unknown in the winter.   It’s not as if we intentionally bypassed all the cheap, raw, grass-fed milk available at every convenience store in town and drove to the next county to buy a farmer’s expensive pasteurized, homogenized, antibiotic-laden skim milk.  Only in recent history have we had access to food sourced from all over the world.

We women often feel pressured to supply our families with the very best quality ingredients at any cost.  To those of us struggling to maintain grocery budgets, health experts advise, “What you don’t spend in quality food now, you’ll spend in medical bills later!”  How discouraging is that?  I hardly think that a cause of death has ever been attributed to “consumption of imitation vanilla” or “a chia seed deficiency.”  Stress causes health problems, and maybe the pressure to eat perfectly increases stress?

No one can guarantee a formula for perfect health.  In ancient times, absolutely everyone ate organic, free-range, non-GM food, but Jesus had no end of people that needed healing and Hippocrates had enough business that he became the “father of medicine.”

Take heart, housewives.  We’re all doing the best that we can in our own way.  Don’t feel guilty or be made to feel that you love your family less because you don’t have the resources someone else does.  The American pioneer women didn’t have cassava flour, quinoa, avocado oil, or even name-brand essential oils tucked into their covered wagons, but they managed to muddle through life fairly well.  They made the most of the limited variety available to them.  It must have been adequate, because thanks to them, many of us are here now.

It’s very simple, really.  Learn the basic principles of cooking and eating healthily and be content with doing your best.

Being Happy

From 1925: I was once very subject to the blues and given to worry. I discovered that the blues were just self-pity; worrying was doubting my Heavenly Father. Worrying does no one any good and may do a number of people real harm. So, as someone else had said, “I have to live with myself so I decided to have good company.” I’ve been through much poverty and ill health. I do not yet possess many things needed for comfort and my health is still not good enough to permit me to do many things I wish to. However, it is gradually improving and I can say life is very good.

There are so many things for us to be thankful for: a morning when all things are covered with crystal frost and the sun comes up so clear and bright we can see a million diamonds; a clear, frosty morning when the very air makes us feel the joy of just being alive and our hearts are so full of joy we can almost fly; the first patch of green grass brought forth by the first glorious days of spring, the first flowers and all the later ones. Oh, how I love my flowers! Truly, my heart is glad all the year because of them. I cannot spend much money for them but I try to have something new each year. All winter I can remember the beauties of last summer and anticipate the loveliness next summer will bring. I love my vegetable garden too, though it is a tiny one. Two people do not need much and all our children are now making gardens of their own.

When middle age comes we are given time for some of the other things we have long wanted to do. Perhaps it is to read or take up that almost forgotten music, or do our fill of beautiful needlework. But perhaps the thing that makes life the most worthwhile is the love of family and true friends. This is one of the richest blessings life has to offer and cannot be overvalued.

 

This post shared on the Wise Woman Linkup.