Friday, January 22, 2010

22 January 1956 “Thank You Note, Scheduling, Organizing, and WISH lists.”

I want to first thank all of you for being such dears with my silliness yesterday. Normally, I try not to let things upset me too much, but by my very nature I tend to take things to heart. And, as a lady knows, sometimes we are particularly more susceptible to emotions, enough said on that point.

I felt so honored, indeed almost not worthy, of your kind words and responses yesterday. I felt rather the spoiled child who feigns a skinned knee to get a kiss from mummy. Although, in all truth, I was hurt by the comment only in that I felt I had first offended and second, lost a friend.

I smiled this morning when I got to the end of the comments of the post and found this response from our reader SallyGrace:

SallyGrace said...

I am not a follower or a rah rah commenter, but I hope you take this in the vein I mean it in.
I read the comment that makes you sad and although the poster disagrees with you I don't think they did it in a hateful or cruel way. They have their opinion and you have yours. Oh boy do you have yours - sorry I couldn't stomach reading your novella of a reply.
But as others have said - it is your blog and your right to say whay you want and how you want to. In addition you are also in control of accepting and deleting comments.
In our everyday lives we are surrounded by people with different opinions and beliefs. I don't understand why this particular anon poster made you sad - but I wouldn't worry about it. I am sure at your age you have realized that not everyone is going to agree with you.
And may I add - blogger has spell check. It is your friend. I wish you would try it out. Ex: It is discern, not descern.

My spelling is deplorable!  And don’t even get me started about grammar! I am an absolute heathen when it comes to punctuation and grammar! I fear, particularly in my response comments, I become so ‘fired up’ or ‘heated’ that I just let  letters shoot from my fingers in all directions, hoping that a few of them will land in some semblance of sentence structure. And then I fire it off with a ‘send’ without any reference to spelling. In that heated state, boy can I go on! It is true that many of my responses are novella length and probably unreadable due to my irrational spelling habits. But, so many of  you are so kind you treat me as the kind old aunt who ‘will go on’ but you love her anyway, and for that, I thank you.

There was a time when spelling was not standardized and a gentleman might be apt to spell the same word multiple ways in one letter, but I am afraid I cannot claim that distinction. My fault is in the heated action of my ways.

What I need is Hemmingway and a red pen to go at most things I write.  I am nothing , if not Long Winded! You have only to look at any of my posts to see that. Maybe Santa will bring me an editor this year, I wonder if he could fit one in my stocking?

A kind reader emailed me an Erma Bombeck quote that reads,

“If you can't make something better, you can always laugh at it!” 

And that is exactly what I am doing. Thank you all.

Now, another reader had sent me a letter asking to expand on scheduling. I had meant to address this question yesterday (before my little episode), she writes:

When you have time - would you mind writing a blog entry or stuff on your apronrevolution website on PLANNING and ACTION please? i found this interesting in your blog entry a few days ago - about learning re planning week, month year etc.
Also thank you for the entry on routines  (and any more you'll write on this I'll gladly read!). It was good to read about making hair/nails/etc a thing to put into routine as I don't do this and see self-care as important in terms of being able to run a household - but how do we fit it in??
Thanks again!

Now, I am not an expert on planning, of course, but 1955 has taught me its importance. Without planning and a schedule and lists, the very act of homemaking becomes a chore. With a schedule, list, and the ability to be elastic WITHIN that structure, keeping a home becomes not only manageable, but rewarding and yes, even sometimes, FUN!


I think the first moment I realized the difference between running about like a crazed headless chicken to ‘catch up’ with the house and the reality of the schedule came to me while making a list. I was a few months into my year 1955. Everyday I would test the boundaries, trying one more thing, adding new recipes and scrubbing under the furniture not just around it. I was sitting down with my various lists, feeling rather frazzled, when I realized, “Ah-ha! a wish list merged with a schedule” I remember I got out my little notebook ( I find if I keep one in my apron pocket through the day, little bits of inspiration are not lost, or phone numbers or ideas etc).

My hand could not keep up with my fevered brain, “I want to sew “X” amount of dresses, and bake bread, and have a dessert always available, I have to have time to draw and I want to learn embroidery. Oh, and set my hair too! Ironing sheets and starched petticoats!”

Well, you get the idea. I went on like a child contemplating Christmas. It was fun. I had sat down and wrote out all the things I would like to do and have time for while also maintaining a clean organized home.

Sat back exhausted from the exercise, the list suddenly loomed before me. If  I were in a Hitchcock film, this would be the point a spiraled disk would swirl behind me and my hair stand on end.

“How?” thought I, “Could all of the things on this piece of paper fit into one year, heck into one lifetime!” Feeling dejected, I sipped my tea and most likely pouted a bit when it hit me: Why couldn’t a make a schedule for my life month by month and week by week scheduling in all the things I wanted to do WITH the things I HAD to do. Of course I couldn’t write a symphony, a novel, paint 50 cupids on the bedroom ceiling all in one week while putting three meals on the table AND cleaning the bathrooms. But, I could prioritize. I could lay out a calendar for the year (or a twelve-month, if you were starting in March, for example, then into February of the next year).

For some reason, for me, the idea of one year seems a doable time frame. It might be different for each person, but I like the look of ONE YEAR. It has to it a sense of the tangible while still holding the far reaching mystery of the FUTURE.

I even made lists for things that would affect the budget. I knew I wanted to save “X” amount of money or spend “X” amount, but I had liked getting lattes in the modern world. In other words I had WISHED for that simple pleasure, but did not want the modern aspect of the cost of it.  So, for that wish list to working list I made a little vintage shaker of cinnamon and sugar and on my ‘scheduled moment’ of a break, I would heat up milk in a pan with a little sugar and vanilla, fill a large (vintage too!) drinking glass half full with this and the rest coffee and sprinkle that little shaker over the top. That act, similar to what I had done and would look forward to at Starbucks for the sum of five dollars, was now rather inexpensive, fit into my wish list AND my budget and still gave me the same visceral pleasure. And I could sit and read a magazine or a chapter in a book as I would in Starbucks, but in my own clean home with my dogs with me.

Now, you can take this as far as you like. You certainly do not have to be a ‘list Nazi’ marking out every breath of your day into a list. AND there are varying degrees of schedules. As I said, there is the yearly schedule, which must be elastic, and then the monthly schedule, which can be more solid, next  your weekly schedule which will become your friend and then the Daily List, which though the most set in stone can always have unchecked items move to the next day’s list. This last list, the daily list, it the one that becomes dust by the end of the day. You have either checked it off or moved unchecked items to the next day and you are done with it. Either toss it away (or keep it for posterity) but it is the ‘self-destruct’ portion of the homemaker’s schedule.

The Daily List I always write out, regardless the schedule. I have my schedule there to view on the wall of my little sitting room to refer to. And, as you get ‘into’ your base schedule certain things will become natural. You won’t think about it as much because you know Monday is wash day, so you are just prepared for it. It is a fact.

homemakerofficeThis brings me to a ‘work station’.  (You can click on this image from one of my homemakers manuals and read what they say there about this topic) Any executive worth his salt is given an office. Some have immense city views and private washrooms, that is up to you, your budget and your home. Even a made over walk in closet can become ‘Homemaking Headquarters’. But, even if it is the end of the dining room table, make sure there is at least one or two drawers where your schedules, pens, some reference books on housekeeping can live .Without giving yourself and your tools a proper real home how can you say to yourself you are serious about being organized and an executive homemaker?

Now, here is a sample list out of my old Homemakers manual.schedule You can click on it to get a larger version, even print it out if it will help you get started thinking about a schedule.

Now, here was the next phase of me for my scheduling. This was just my own plan and it might work for you.

1.) Make a WISH LIST of all you would LIKE to do (have hair done, nails done, wear nicer clothes more often etc)

2.) Make a NEEDS LIST of all that NEEDS to be done to run your house for ONE MONTH and ONE WEEK. (this can have a blurred line as well. For example you NEED to feed your family and children but you would LIKE to feed them more homemade meals. So the time spent now on the NEED might need to expand to include homemade, or more time scheduled earlier in the day to pre-prepare a meal to ‘pop in the oven’. This is what I mean by being elastic. Then as making a certain level of home made is normal, then a new list is made with that on the NEED and now you have more room to schedule the LIKE as your skills increase. It is all a learning process and as with anything practice and rote makes what was once a challenge, soon second nature.

3.) Next, break the WISH and NEED list into three groups:

A.Personal Care

B. Cooking/Baking

C. Home Care.

I think the reason it is good to initially make one list of NEEDS and one of  WANTS,  is it allows you to begin the process of really looking at your life in these two fields. It gives it an easy division. Then you can more easily prioritize the wish list with your desires and then with your YEARLY SCHEDULE. (for example I might want to have ‘do my nails’ right away, this week in my schedule, but ‘wear a dress everyday and look nice even for the grocery store’ can go next month between learning to bake bread and pie’)

To break down the WISH and NEED list more, as above if you have a WISH list for Personal care. Your Need list might read: shower daily, brush teeth, comb hair (hopefully) etc. The things you need to do. But the WISH list for personal care will include nail care, feet and elbows, time to set hair (and this is part of  the SKILL SET: learning to set hair) Which leads me to another list.


Make a SKILLS list. Here is your opportunity to both make a tally of what you would like to learn and then fit it into your schedule (learn to make bread, pastry, how to can veg and fruit) and these can then go into the YEARLY SCHEDULE (A calendar with good spaces to write on or even better a book of the year with each page given a date).

This also allows you to look down the road and think, “well ,learning to can food is best in late summer early fall when the fruit and veg is ripe and canning supplies are abundant at my local grocer.)

Now, with that list break those down into the Three.

A.  Personal Care B. Cooking/Baking C. Home Care.

This now allows you to focus on what skills you NEED and those you WISH for. You may know how to make a basic dinner and you need to do so for your family, but maybe you want the skill of making a more elaborate dish or preparing more homemade or even dusting off that old French Cooking book. So, I think you get the drift of the thing.

And, if you have children, maybe you even want a skill and wish list for them as well. Perhaps you now read to them at bed time and find this a need. But maybe you would like to share an activity with them or perhaps you have always wanted to play the piano (Personal Wish List) so put that on the Personal Skill list and you and little Johnny can take piano lessons together, thereby sharing a skill with your child and yourself and having an experience together.

I find that the more you break it all done, it actually becomes less confusing. Because, when you are done you have all these WISHES and NEEDS and SKILLS  laid out before you.  Suddenly you feel in control to move things about and plan out the year. Then it doesn’t feel impossible but approachable, as you know you get up, make a rough list for the day, check the list you have made for the week and get going: ACTION.

A trick I have just recently taught myself is the use of index cards. If you are starting out new with the above break down of lists, then you can transfer the various parts of the Lists onto these cards. Then, much like a game of solitaire with your year, you can sit down and shuffle out this want this need etc. Before you know it you will have made a fine plan for the year and all those things you wanted to try won’t seem so unreachable or something to just think about and then feel guilty about not doing. You will have scheduled it. So, doing my nails will be as easily to check off the list as clean the toilet.

I now have made a separate bulletin board for the blog/website. There, on the wall, I can tack up and rearrange my little cards for the WISH of what I would like for the site, the NEED, which is to try and add something each day and the SKILL which was learn Dreamweaver (not an easy task, but scheduled time allowed me to do it).

I recommend a bulletin board as well. (it doesn’t have to expensive. I have actually used some leftover board I had from my old studio. It was one of those 4’ x 8’ foam boards you find in building stores, I think they are used to block noise or some such, and cut it to your desired size. You can also easily cover it with any fabric you like and even if you can’t sew (YET, you CAN learn to sew, go ahead put it on the WISH and the SKILL list, you know you want to!) you just use spray adhesive on it and press over your desired fabric and then just use pushpins/tacks.

As I said earlier, if you can carve out some space as your ‘office/sitting room/headquarters’ it does much in the way of allowing you to address the schedule to have it up on the wall where you can refer to a monthly list and also move about cards with skills or needs on them.  It makes it feel more in control and you can sit back during your scheduled break, with that cup of tea and look at it.

You will be surprised how quickly all the idea of it as work changes into passion and excitement. When you want to take a ‘break from it’ you will find yourself thinking about it and going over it. You will realize, I do not have to hurry up and get it done so I can sit around but that the doing of it the ACTION is the fun bit and really LIVING your life. This happened to me. I came to see that I wasn’t scheduling some things to get done in between my time I wanted to sit around and do nothing, but that my sit around time was being scheduled less and less as I found the Doing the Fun bit!

For those of us who are SAH there is no reason we cannot do more and yet be less stressed. It is true for those of you have to work as well, you just need to adjust your schedule differently. Although I do not have a job outside of the home, per se, the Website has become like a job in that I need to now add this into my daily schedule along with the blog and my usual household work (never chores, farm hands do chores homemakers do their WORK).

It is the unplanned days that seem crazy because there is no structure to them. Somewhere along the way, having to plan or organize went out of fashion and would either be made fun of, ignored, or called ‘being anal’. Well, from someone who has lived both ways, I can say to wake up knowing I have things ‘to do’ mapped out by ME and that I can also change it around, if need be, as long as I stick to A list, is so much more exciting and rewarding then waking each day and thinking, “I wonder what is going to happen today? Oh, I have to do this and I forgot that is suppose to be done, oh, drat that is coming up tomorrow!”

Even if you think this ‘scheduling’ a bit over the top, try it for a week at least or a month and see how you respond to it. You can go as detailed as you choose and that is why it is wonderful because YOU are in charge. It is YOUR ACTION that is making  your days and your life. Why be passive TV watchers, when you can be active participants in your own reality show called: LIFE.

doubleduty closet It is images like these in my homemakers manuals that spur me on as well. Such a simple little two closet design (you can click to read it larger). Even this, in its own way, is like a schedule in 3-D as you see the top shelf of one of the closets holds ‘spot removal’. You know where to find it, it has it’s place and it is on the physical ‘list’.

storage And images such as this which show even the smallest bit of space can be used to organize and keep life easier. Much like our own lives, we can take a few minutes here and there to make little ‘storage cabinets’ in our day to hang up the skills and wishes we have and make a place for them. Think of the time we waste with tv and computer. Just take 10 even 5 minutes of the tv time and the computer and now you have that extra time for doing your nails or setting your hair. Give it a try.

It might not be for everyone, certainly we are all made differently. But, I think most of us who are drawn to the HOME as either a homemaker or just from some innate feeling, the ultimate goal is to have a clean place where you can find what you need and have what you need to get the job done, look pretty doing it and have time to yourself. Time to sit and read, soak in the top or spend 20 minutes showing your daughter the importance of having pretty clean healthy nails and hair. (I need to interject here as well, because I can see how such a statement as that could be countered with, well isn’t it more important that my daughter have a strong mind than rather she has pretty nails? To that I say, she should have BOTH a strong mind through reading and thought and education AND understand that to care for herself is important both for her own HEALTH and that to feel good and beautiful outside can only strengthen a strong mind and constitution. I don’t know why we have come to feel that one is either pretty or smart. We should all strive to be as pretty and as smart as we are able. We all have different features as we all have different mental capacities, but I feel it is our DUTY to excel in both. That’s my 2 1/2 cents!)

The old ways, the ‘old days’ may be many different things to all of us, but that sense of calm, clean, beauty of the middle class home that so many people in the 1950’s either had or those who did not were drawn to on shows such as Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, are tangible things that can be achieved. That sense of order, justice, place, beauty, rules and yes laughter and love, is an innate need we humans have. We, as an animal, want to huddle together in the warmth and share and feel protected. And the chaos of clutter, not knowing what to do next and meals whenever all to the cacophony of multiple tv and computer noises will not make a content rational person. Especially if one is raising children, schedules and order must ONLY make life easier and teach a lesson to a child that amongst the insanity of the world one can always make their home the calm refuge where you can feel safe because you know when meals are served, where your clothes hang or go when dirty, when to wash up and take time for personal grooming and how the reward of leisure time is all the sweeter when it has been earned for the day.

So, I don’t know if that is helpful. I am going to copy most of this over to the website under the ‘vintage life lessons’ under scheduling and I think I will put up some pictures of lists laid out, maybe, to make it clearer.

I am sure many of you read this and think, well of course that is what you do, but I know, for me and my generation, the idea of schedules, order and work as the reward is somewhat an alien concept. So, for any of you out there (as indeed this post was made by a request from one of you) who do want to learn to schedule and get order back into your life, I hope this helps. If not, let me know and I will try to spell it out in less words. As SallyGrace said, ‘my novella of a response’, I can go on, I know!

Tomorrow I will share some recipes, I made my own for a coffee cake last night and it is delicious!

Have a great day Apronites and remember, ACTION. We can do it and do it in style!

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