Housewife Challenge – Days 7, 8, & 9

Ugh, this week has been really tough to motivate. Day 7 I barely made my morning straighten up chores. I folded the previous day’s laundry and worked on upholstering my ottoman. It’s one of those small footstool storage ones like you find at target. I’ve had this red one since …. forever. At least since college so 10 years? It resided in storage for four years with a bottle of leaky bleach on top of it for at least a year. The top was all molted in color, the rest of it faded, and generally bright red doesn’t match anything in my yellow room. I just so happen to have this “sailor” coastal fabric that’s survived three purges. Originally I bought it to be a makeshift headboard back when I had no money or space for a real headboard. Somehow it always survived the decluttering, usually with me saying “I must use it in x months” and then not doing so. Well I finally used it! The ottoman started to look a lot better but I didn’t finish it.

I ran so far behind and did so little on day 7 that I never finished reupholstering the lid of my ottoman. Instead I whipped up a Philly cheese steak meatloaf. I eliminated a step in the cooking process that saved me doing a few dishes and it still turned out excellent.

Day 8 was a complete and total failure. My biggest accomplishment for the day was getting dressed at 4pm and emptying the dish drain.M’s friends came over to a board game I don’t like and one of them brought dinner for us. As soon as I finished eating I escaped back to doing nothing. Truly a waste of oxygen kind of day.

Day 9

It seems my guilty conscious is working on me after yesterday’s laziness. I managed to turn off the computer for two hours, during which time I finished my ottoman lid and whipped up a pillow case with the left over fabric. Cleaned everything up  did a cursory straightening of my room. Wiped down the bathroom. Cooked fajitas.

Housewife Challenge – Days 5 & 6

Day 5

Wish I could say I started the new week with gusto but mostly started it with (what feels like) failure. I managed to do a 10-minute tidy that took care of the biggest messes in the house, I aired out the house, and I took an extensive walk. In the morning I did the dishes from the weekend and put them away. And that’s it. Didn’t do my chore of the day or my project of the day. Didn’t have two hours of non-computer time. Didn’t work on my blog. Nothing. I felt incredibly lazy.

Day 6

Started off the day feeling as lazy as yesterday but guilt finally took over around 2pm and I managed to get all of my morning chores done, the laundry done, and half of yesterday’s project-of-the-day and half of today’s. Washing the doors and door frames takes a lot longer than it should and it took nearly twenty minutes to detail three doors, front, back, and borders. They have never been detailed, however, so they were really bad. If I make this a semi regular thing (once a month) it should go a lot quicker. Later I whipped up a meal (freezer soup) and cleaned the kitchen.

Life (and Death) Gets in the Way – Housewife Challenge Setbacks

Before I began the housewife challenge I made a deal with myself: The challenge would be paused on days that M was home. This meant that on weekends especially but also on holidays I would suspend the challenge to just spend time with him. Well on Friday M conducted a work meeting for home. He and his coworkers got here about the time I normally do all my projects and chores and they were still here at the hour I normally clean the kitchen and make dinner. Being a work function, I hid away so as not to disturb them and accomplished very little for that day. Therefore, last week I only did four days of the challenge. Let’s be entirely honest – I could have done some of my housewife challenge for M’s meeting but was too lazy. I was still toying with it as a failure or as a “non-day” when I got the other bad news.

Friday, the day M had his meeting, brought tragic news. My cousin who has been going through chemo for colon cancer went into organ failure. The doctors didn’t give him much time to live. My parents made it down to his side to say goodbye and comfort his family but it took an emotional toll on all of us. He died Saturday evening. Aunts and uncles should die before cousins. He was the first non-grandparent to die. I am sad and my heart breaks for his family and his parents. Anyways, there will be a funeral, probably later this week, and I’ll go down there, thus suspending the housewife challenge for at least another day (possibly two depending on circumstances). My challenge will now end in mid-April instead of early April.

Remember: presence with family and friends is more important than a picture perfect house.


Housewife Challenge – Day 3 & 4

Day 3

Wednesday, day 3, I found things much harder. I felt incredibly lazy and gave in to my computer and played games. Around noon-thirty (yes, that’s how I say it) I got off my butt and managed two hours of yard work. I weeded the area for my new planter beds, set down weed mat, filled with soil, and leveled it all out. About thirty minutes after finishing the clouds rolled in and it started raining. Rain is my nemesis and I can never get much done when it rains. (I live in California so this isn’t normally a problem.) I managed to straighten up the house a little bit but completely didn’t clean the kitchen. Made ultimate grilled cheeses for dinner. Overall failed my evening chores but am so proud of the yard work I got done.

Day 4

Terrible winds and driving rain killed most of my productive energy. I braved the storm and went grocery shopping. The key to grocery shopping is to have a list. I got everything on my list and only one thing not on it. At least I got my chore-of-the-day done and then had food for dinner. A small break in the storm had me taking my daily walk where I proudly got to be the neighbor busybody. A tree had fallen in the road two blocks over and I called it in. I then picked branches of flowers for a bouquet which stunk to high heavens – resulting in my airing out my room. Later I had M guilt me over my project-of-the-day and whipped out some curtains for my yellow room (which I’m no longer sure about). Overall a successful day.


Rain really does kill my creativity. Always shop from a list. Tasks don’t necessarily have to be done in order, they just need to get done.

Housewife Challenge – Day 1 & 2

Day 1

First day started off pretty well. My walk was a bit delayed due to rain but between breaks in the storm I managed to get in a very cold one. I knew it would take me longer to get the house straightened up since I haven’t done a good straightening in over a month. It took the better part of my two hours without computer to get through the living room, bathroom, master bedroom, and yellow room. The remaining time was spent starting my project-of-the-day – to clean all the ceiling fans and light fixtures. All of the bathroom light bulbs above the sink were unscrewed, wiped down, their fixture wiped down, and put back. As I was doing that I realized in the four years I’ve known M and two years I’ve lived here, they’ve never been cleaned. I also wiped down the blades of the master bedroom ceiling fan using the pillowcase trick. I’ll need to pull out the ladder in order to really clean all of the light fixtures, which was too much of a pain yesterday. So while I accomplished a part of my PotD, I didn’t get it done.

The afternoon found me putting potting soil in a seed tray in the side bathroom. It got the floor very messy but it’s all together and three rows of peas have been started. I’ll need to sweep up the dirt again today; yesterday it was mud. Then I vacuumed the upstairs and downstairs of the house, completing my chore-of-the-day. In the evening, I cleaned up the kitchen, finished all of the dishes, swept, and made a quick meal which M was kind enough to clean up for me. Overall it was a very successful start.

Day 2

My morning tidy and straightening went well enough. I got a few extra spots cleaner than day one but soon ran into the problem I knew would come up. On day one I did most of the easy straightening and now on day two I finished the easy stuff and moved into the medium/harder stuff to straighten. Soon I’ll have to do the hard stuff like paper piles and boxes. My two hours without computer were a bit harder to cope with and I ended up starting my project-of-the-day (PotD) – detailing the stairwell.

Detailing the stairwell took a lot longer than expected. The idea was to vacuum, wipe down walls and baseboards, and replace the ugly curtains that came with the house. I had a set of hand-me-down grey curtains to replace them but they were about two inches too short. Luckily, the manufacturer had sewn in an extra fold, so I spent over an hour seam ripping the two panels. When I was done the curtains were the perfect length.

I got in a walk mid-afternoon before finishing my PotD. M was late getting home, which worked out really well for me as it gave me time to clean the kitchen and make a quick meal. I got my laundry all done, including the bedding, and folded and put away all of M’s things. When M got home, he helped me straighten the bed skirt and the whole room looks much better now.

Things I didn’t get done: folding my laundry, vacuuming the stairs. Overall another successful day.


The schedule here.

30 Day Housewife Challenge (HWC) – Schedule

After being inspired by JenbutneverJenn (and trying to adapt her schedule for three attempts), I have a housewife schedule challenge that I’m willing to try. For thirty weekdays I will try to do all of the following things. I am not doing these things on the weekend or on holidays (which I don’t think there are any coming up). The challenge will last from February 26th until April 6th. I might add one or two weekend days when M pulls out the fridge and oven for me to clean behind. I will allow myself to adapt this schedule.


  • Before 10am everyday – get dressed, eat breakfast, make beds
  • Air out house for 1 hour everyday
  • No computer from 10am-12pm
  1. Go for walk – to get the blood moving and feel energized
  2. Do a 10-minute tidy of the house
  3. Straighten all the rooms, do a light dusting of each room
  4. Sweep floors
  5. Clean bathroom counters and sink – wipes are okay
  6. Complete regular chore-of-the-day
  7. Do project-of-the-day – special tasks like detail the stairwell, clean the oven, finish gardening milestones, etc
  8. Create a blog post/work on blog
  9. Do dishes
  10. Clean kitchen – wipe down counters and stove, sweep and organize
  11. Make Dinner
  12. End Day

Mondays- Vacuum (I expect tidying to take longer & I’m unmotivated on these days)
Tuesdays – Laundry
Wednesdays – Yardwork
Thursdays – Errands
Fridays – Clean Bathroom(s)

Later in the challenge I’ll use the two hours no computer time to deal with outstanding projects.

Remember if things get overwhelming to steer into the skid (take advantage of your natural rhythms). This schedule has been adapted to do just that.


Review of JenbutneverJenn’s Housewife Challenge

Last year I ran across a fabulous housewife challenge created by jenbutneverjenn. Based off of her extensive research from 1950s magazines and home-economics literature of the day, Jen lived a vintage housewife schedule for two weeks. Her original list was thirty-eight items long and included making an authentic 50’s dinner every night. You can find her original schedule here. I was fascinated. Here was a very detailed way to try and live my day. I wanted to live it. I wanted to conquer the list. I failed. Repeatedly.

The list needed a few minor modifications for my first attempt – a planned single day of living the schedule to see what needed improvement. I removed a couple of items that don’t apply to our house (like fixing cocktails, and flushing drain pipes with water – Californian, conserve water). With only a few items removed, I still had troubles with the list. Our houses are not laid out the same at all and I found myself making twenty more trips than usual up and down the stairs to do first the master bedroom (upstairs), then the living room (downstairs), then the bathroom (upstairs), then the kitchen (downstairs), etc you get the idea. She had ‘eat breakfast’ right away on her list and I can’t eat until I’ve been up for at least an hour. Needless to say, the pacing of her list wasn’t good for me.

So I adapted the schedule. The new schedule still contained most of the same items only in a different order better for my use. With the 30-item list, I was able to follow this schedule for three days before becoming overwhelmed by it (or maybe bored). The list still didn’t leave a lot of room for flexibility. I still had to dust before I could meal plan and still needed to run errands before lunch (which was an actual scheduled item). I found a positive thing from this portion of my trials. Dusting on day one sucked. On day two it was easy. On day three it was so easy I actually busted out the dusting polish and everything got really shiny and nice looking. But then day four I didn’t feel the need to dust. And by day five I had pretty much given up on dusting ever again. I’ve tried to adapt and follow modifications to this schedule multiple times since then, but it never seems to stick.

While I love Jen’s schedule and her following blog posts, it really isn’t for me. It has inspired me to try these housewife challenges multiple times. Like in today’s era, 50s housewives all had their own routines and patterns. You couldn’t exactly copy another person’s routine and hoped it worked for you. Instead you had to take inspiration from these routines and incorporate aspects into your life that worked best for you and your family. Remember to follow and enhance your own natural rhythms.


(In following my natural rhythms, I’ve finally come up with a schedule I think works. Click here to read it.)

Creating Wins

Sometimes it isn’t any single big thing that brings us down but a series of smaller things that slowly build up. The garden that isn’t growing, the car that temporarily isn’t starting, the cat that puked a hairball on the floor. On their own, they are minor setbacks, a bump towards success (or your morning coffee, thanks cat). You feel sad about the first one but think of all the other things that are going right. Then the next one hits. Oh well you deal with it. But then another and another and another until a series of small problems cloud your ability to see all that is going right in your life. You can’t complain, because none of the problems are really big enough for sympathy, yet still you feel sad. You may feel like you need a big win that isn’t coming.

Well when to many small things pile up, it’s time to take control and create a series of small, tiny wins. And hopefully, all those tiny wins will add up to larger and large wins, until your low is a distant memory. Below is a continually growing list of tiny wins you might be able to achieve.

  1. Make your bed – So cliché but a made up bed can put the whole day on a positive note. It’s a perfect small win everyone can accomplish, gives you a clear flat surface, makes a room look instantly cleaner, and if nothing else, feels great falling into a bed that’s been made all day. This short video has a wonderful explanation (that basically says the same things I just said).  Bonus points for making a bed with fresh sheets, leaving you with something clean for at least a week.
  2. Create lists of goals and weaknesses – Okay, so this one is a whole lot bigger and perhaps not a super win on the outset.
    1. Goals – Make a list of your goals, whether they are daily, weekly, yearly, or lifetime goals. Goals can be big, but you should have many small goals. They don’t have to become habits (in fact trying to build a habit and failing may be another setback) or have life altering implications. “Today I’ll drink one glass of water,” when normally you drink none. Perhaps sometimes you forget to brush your teeth or floss, make the effort to do so. Written goals can later be broken down into steps that can become small wins. This is my favorite website/app for dealing with my to-do list.
    2. Weaknesses – perhaps a much more depressing task is the list of weaknesses or problems in your life. These are the things truly driving you nuts. It could be the car needs work and has become unreliable, maybe an unbearable coworker, perhaps you feel unaccomplished, or lazy, or unhygienic, or ungrateful, or not affectionate enough, maybe the bathroom really really needs to be cleaned and you don’t want to do it. Figuring out spots that drive you nuts is a key step in solving those problems. Perhaps these weaknesses don’t need to be written down, but try to have a small list going in your head of things you want to improve.
    3. Bucket List – I’m going to put this here because it is a list but these are more life goals. Create a bucket list in a spiral notebook and review it regularly. My initial bucket list goal was 450 items. These are not your “to-do” items but special or once in a lifetime events (clean the bathroom shouldn’t be on there, replace bathroom tile could be). Make items big and small, done in a day, the adventures of a lifetime, places you want to visit, items you want to own, life goals you want to accomplish. Avoid vague language (see below) like “floss more”. Check them off with a date of when they were accomplished, add more items as you think of them, scour the internet, friends, and family for additional ideas, and revise once a year or so to take off impulse additions. Refer to this master list whenever you are feeling particularly low and see if there isn’t an easy win (a small thing) you can get from your list.
      1. Here are 15 examples from my bucket list; as you can see, they vary from done in a day or two, to lifetime achievements: 1) Get Married (check). 2) Visit Germany. 3) Get a fainting couch. 4) Watch Ben Hur. 5) Write 50,000 words in one story. 6) Read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. 7) Get a kitten. 8) Line driveway with pinwheels. 9) Make fajitas using all home grown veggies. 10) Nap in a hammock. 11) See Vermont in the fall. 12) Have a conversation with a native speaker in another language. 13) Do a paint by numbers. 14) Hold plank for 5 minutes. 15) Make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  3. Avoid vague Language – Try, might, more, less, someday, etc are all vague adjectives. Do use precise language. Don’t “try to lose weight”, Lose 5 pounds. Don’t “floss more”, floss once a day. Make your goals and actions into concrete measurable actions. Don’t “drink more water”, drink a glass of water a day. If you need some motivation on using precise language watch the speech on “very” from Dead Poet’s Society. If you can measure something you can tell how well you’re doing. (I had floss more on my list, but as I never flossed, did flossing once count? Did I need to floss once a week for it to count? How could I make that a win? Eventually I revised to floss once a week which is much more attainable.)
  4. Clean up your trash piles. Go around the house and throw away all of the trash and take out the recycling. It may not do a lot, but it will feel freer.
  5. Clean something – Sweep a floor, wipe a counter, put away the clean dishes, start a load of laundry, vacuum, take out the expired goods in the fridge, anything really. You don’t need to do it to perfection, you don’t need to sweep every floor in the house to count it as a win. Just clean something, one little thing. You’ll feel calmer in your space and it may motivate you to do more, resulting in more and more wins.

Monday Musings and How to Get Back on Track

For the lazy housewife it is SOOOOO easy to get behind. Even if we are *almost* caught up, a small change in schedule can throw us off and voila! we’re back to having a lot left on our to-do list. Below is my hectic two weeks and after the musings are some tips to help overcome those hectic weeks.


A lazy week in late January ran into a mini “vacation” where I went home to see my parents the first week of February. I was gone all week and thus, of course, accomplished nothing in my own house. Mom and Dad like my toned down spicy chicken chili, where I removed a bunch of the jalapenos and didn’t add ghost pepper. I did get to see the space shuttle Endeavor (awe-inspiring), dinosaur bones, and really expensive gems at the L.A. Natural History Museum. The epic rose garden was unfortunately closed but I enjoyed the museums nonetheless. I also got to play with Ma’s digital camera. Mine is about ten years old now with a spot on the lens so the pictures come out worse than my phone. But Ma has this fancy digital camera (Canon Rebel T5) that scares her it’s so fancy. So I played with it the entire time home. Took over 200 pictures in three days. It was great and now I’m thinking of asking for one for Christmas. Dear readers, I’m sorry none of these posts have pictures yet. That’s the procrastinating housewife for you. [And as I went to add some of those pictures WP got angry and won’t let me show them to you. I’ll try again later – perhaps.]

It was good seeing my parents again but my house is now chaos. The kitchen is a mess from three men at home; I haven’t vacuumed in a fortnight; all my holiday mats (which seemed fine in January) are horribly outdated; I’ve been neglecting my blog. Getting home was wonderful but I quickly noticed all the little things that needed to get done. But it was the weekend and the routine on the weekend is to be lazy with M. So I did that (not that I needed much convincing).

Today I am full of energy! I managed to get most of my laundry done, half the weeds in the backyard mowed, the floors swept, my laundry finished, put up the pirate ship shower curtain after six months of procrastinating, and went shopping. I finally bought a food dehydrator which I’ve been looking at for a year. Did all my research and settled on the Nesco Snackmaster 5 tray thingy (essentially this without kit). I used wedding money to buy it. Now I just have to use it.

For major musings: I’m thinking of scheduling a spring cleaning week the first week of March. It might be a great time to clean some back logged areas. Also, for the next couple of weeks, most of my chore time has to be spent on the backyard garden. I’ve got a number of projects and everything needs to be started by end February.

Tips to Get Back on Track

  • First, realize you are human and it is okay that not everything on your to-do list must get done right away. Have ants invaded your house? Are you behind on bills? Well, maybe you need to worry a bit and get a move on, but if your house is still standing and everyone is still alive, it’s probably okay that your living room doesn’t look perfect. Accept that you are human.
  • Second, along with the first point, remember you are your harshest critic. Others (usually) don’t notice you haven’t wiped the counters for three days, they don’t notice the slippers aren’t neatly lined up in the hall, and no guy will notice the Easter decorations still up in May. So you are your own harshest critic. Don’t worry if it takes a little bit longer to get back up to snuff.
  • Start with your regular routine stuff. Just build in a bit extra time for each step. So it takes an extra load of laundry, twenty more minutes to wipe down all of the counters and sink, and five extra minutes to change the bedding.
  • Tackle areas that are driving you (or those around you) nuts. For me this is dealing with the dishes and mowing down weeds.
  • Make a list of the things you want to get done or revise your old to-do list.
  • Relax – after all you are a procrastinating housewife. Did you do  a few things? Great, the rest will keep until tomorrow.

Winning My First Chili Contest

One thing I rather like to do as a housewife is make new recipes. Last year I found this amazing recipe for spicy white chicken chili. Today, M’s work held a chili contest and he asked me to make this chili for it. Lo and behold it won! By a landslide! The flavor is yummy and savory. It’s quick to put together. It’s great with cornbread.

Find the original post (outside link) on The Cookie Rookie here.

In our house we like it SPICY so I’ll usually put 4+ jalapenos in there, seeds and all, and often will add a teaspoon or so of ghost pepper powder.

Spicy White Chicken Chili

5-6cups chicken broth (I use 2-3 bullion cubes)
6cups shredded chicken (I use about two chicken breasts)
2 15oz cans white beans, drained
8oz salsa verde (About half a salsa jar)
1tbsp oil
1tsp chili powder (I use chipotle pepper instead for a spicier kick)
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic (or however much feels right)
2 jalapenos diced
1 poblano or anaheim pepper (I often omit this)

  1. Heat onions, peppers, garlic, and oil in skillet until onions are transparent.
  2. Add everything to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook ~10minutes.
  3. Serve with cornbread to sop up all that yummy goodness.