Tag Archives: Home life

My Hero: Gro Rollag

August 2007

I found the epitaph I want on my gravestone. It is from a book by David Laskin, called The Children’s Blizzard. He was describing a woman, Gro Rollag, who immigrated to America from Norway in 1873, “According to family lore, she was not the most conscientious housekeeper because ‘she preferred reading to housework.’” Wow, that was like looking into a mirror. It is even better than the Erasmus quote, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

Here is an exact Me-quote from this week, “Go look on the couch for some panties, just move the clothes around, and if some fall on the floor, that’s ok.” I think part of the reason my house is usually trashed, is because I am interested in doing things.

Visiting a friend recently, I noticed her house was really picked up considering she has two pre-schoolers and a full time job. However, her only hobby is drinking beer on the deck. There is nothing wrong with that, but it really doesn’t make much of a mess, even if you do it every day for two hours. Try scrap booking for two hours a day on the dining room table, then picking up after yourself, or piecing a quilt, or sitting at the computer, writing. My opinion is that people with clean houses aren’t often very interesting.

I like to cook, and most of our meals are from scratch, even mac and cheese. The Schwan’s man actually dropped us because we weren’t buying enough from him. I like to read, I am currently in the middle of three books, and any number of magazines, I like to write, I am currently in the middle of six essays, and am doing reconnaissance for an attempt on a serious article about an ancestor of mine. I belong to two book groups. I scrap book, but not at home usually.

I fall into that category of people who have a hard time getting things done, because of perfectionism. Yes, my books are organized by the Dewey decimal system. Seriously, and the fiction is alphabetical by author. I think when the time comes to get a part time job, I will apply at the local library, and put the above information on my resume. I still just toss my children’s books at the shelf. So far.

I am a sucker for containers. I think to myself that if I get enough containers and systems going, I could conquer the world, or at least clean off the peninsula in my kitchen. I have to admit, my dirty laundry system is working pretty well, my four-year-old actually will sort her clothes into the different tubs I have set out, without me asking. She doesn’t always do it the way I do, but I can usually see her logic. My clean laundry system still needs some tweaking, maybe I just need one of those sectional couches.

My only other defense is that the TV stays off most all day in my house. We watch PBS over breakfast and lunch, and otherwise the TV collects dust. This goes a long way in explaining why my house is always trashed; my kids are actually doing things all day.

This is what I did during naptime today.

June 21 2007

This was the first post in my first Xanga blog. I was a stay at home mom, and pregnant with my fourth child when a friend suggested blogging. I didn’t know what I needed, but this was it. Xanga saved my sanity. And believe it or not, I still have several friends I made on the site.

Organizing Recipes for Fun

What a luxury, today I spent all afternoon organizing my recipes. These would be the ones I tear out of the paper, various magazines and get from the Country Woman subscription Grandma gives me for my birthday. I purchased a binder, made some tabs and stapled recipes to sheets of paper. To deal with the magazine ones that took up a whole page, I simply used my punch to make three holes along one side. It would take too much time to copy them all out, and they might not be any good anyway, so this way I can rip them out and toss them if we don‘t like them.

I found some really sturdy plastic Post-It tabs that were tough enough to flip through. Now I don’t have to mess with cramming teeny pieces of paper into slots. I first used the tabs to make dividers for my recipe box several years ago. The dividers that came with the box were woefully lacking. If I wanted to find a breakfast casserole I never knew if I should look under “casserole” or “egg and cheese dishes.” Now I file it under “breakfast.” I never used the “lamb” tab, so now I have a “snack tab.” It works very well for me.

Why do I save so many recipes, when it is mathematically impossible to use them all in a single lifetime? I come by my recipe problem honestly, and from both sides of the family tree. My step-dad accused Mom of having too many recipe books and claimed that she had never used some of them. That was a mistake, because she is now working her way through them making a meal from each one to prove him wrong. She said he’ll be surprised some day because she has a book of just cookie recipes.

My father’s mother, the one who blesses me with Country Woman, has an archive of stuff she’s clipped out of the paper for over 70 years. It must rival the Library of Congress’s recipe collection. I need to remember to ask for a tour next time I am home, or she will surely think nobody will want to deal with it when she is gone, and she will toss the whole collection. God forbid! My dad gave my great grandmother’s original Better Homes and Gardens cookbook to me for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I use it occasionally. It has her notes in it, and she was quite a cook. On my wish list is a Fanny Farmer cookbook. I think that was one of the first cookbooks widely published.

I heard an essay on National Public Radio by a woman who made every dish in her Julia Child cookbook over the course of a year. She must not live in Grand Island. Even though I shop in a town of over 40,000, I am unable to find “exotic” ingredients such as bean sprouts in my regular store. I do have the option of several stores, but hunting through ethnic Mom and Pop groceries, or unfamiliar supermarket floor plans for obscure ingredients with three pre-schoolers is not my idea of fun, especially since none of the other stores have carryout. Recipes with ingredients such as prosciutto and gruyere strike fear in my heart because I know I will never find the right stuff. I know that ham or Swiss cheese would work, but surely these others are better, or the recipe would call for ham and Swiss cheese. I long to get my hands on some fresh mozzarella. Until then, I will just hang on to my recipes and wait 50 years until I can bequeath my recipe collection to an unsuspecting grandchild.