Princesses Taking Over?

Oh, how I love this website a friend posted on Facebook! It has Christmas catalogs from times past. I’ve been looking through all the old toys, some that I had as a kid! It’s so much fun! http://www.wishbookweb.com/the-catalogs/

One thing stands out as if it was a billboard. In the 1970’s and before, most of the girls’ toys were miniatures of mom’s tools. There were little vacuum cleaners, brooms, dishes, play kitchens, irons that plugged in and heated up, blenders and ovens that made real food, and baby dolls. Lots and lots of baby dolls, and things to care for them. Little girls, through play, were being taught to be moms, to take care of their homes, and to think of it as play. They were proud that they could copy their moms in their grown-up work.

But now, in this world where women are in the workplace, where a woman can be anything she sets her mind to, what are little girls being groomed to be? Doctors? Lawyers? Teachers? Executives? Entrepreneurs? Homemakers? No. It seems, through the marketing of their toys and clothes, little girls are now being led to think they can be princesses.

Princesses!

This amazes me. In this world where women want to be empowered, we are teaching our daughters to fantasize about being born into a life where they don’t have to do anything but be beautiful and wait for their prince to come sweep them off of their feet. This seems like it is the opposite of what the women’s movement has worked for all these years.

Now, I am by no means a feminist, but I am truly grateful for all the extremely hard work and hardships my foremothers went through to enable the women of my generation to be able to work at something besides housekeeping, teaching, (two professions I love and have done, but aren’t everyone’s cup of tea) and prostitution. They have opened up the world to us, and we are grateful.

And I don’t think there is anything wrong with little girls dressing up and pretending to be princesses. I think it’s adorable and fun. And I think it’s endearing when a daddy calls his daughter “Princess”. And since I have never raised a daughter, or had a granddaughter (yet), I have no first-hand experience to say that Disney is really taking over. This is just what I observe in the general public and in the stores. And for some reason, it’s bothered me enough to share it here with you.

So what do you think? Are my observations anything to be worried about? Is commercialism dictating how our children play? Are little girls pretending to be princesses over everything else? Are they still playing mommy and teacher? Do they pretend to be a builder with Legos? Do they still pretend to make dinner for their baby dolls, and clean up their toy dishes afterward?

Play is really the work of childhood. – Fred Rogers

 

 

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MeeMaw’s Orange Chocolate Chip Cake

When Hubby and I got married and his family and my family converged to become Our Family, one of the things included in that merger was our old family recipes. This weekend, I got to try one of Hubs’ mom’s recipes.

He had mentioned that he wanted an orange chocolate chip cake for his birthday. I Googled and found Ina Gartner’s sumptuous recipe, only to discover that what Hubs meant was he wanted the cake his mom used to make.

So I called my sister-in-law and got the recipe. It’s a brownie type cake with no icing or glaze. It doesn’t need any. It’s very moist and oh-so-good!

Funny that in 30 years of marriage, this is the first I’m hearing of this cake. Wonder what else I’ve been missing?

Meemaw's Orange Chocolate Chip Cake

MeeMaw’s Orange Chocolate Chip Cake

Preheat oven to 250°F  (Yes 250°. You cook it low and slow.)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Mix the above dry ingredients lightly together in bowl and set aside.

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated orange peel (You’ll need two large oranges.)
  • 1 cup soured milk*
  • 1-12 oz bag chocolate chips (I like to use Nestlé’s semi-sweet Tollhouse chips.)

In a large bowl, cream together shortening and sugars with a fork. Beat in eggs until creamy. Mix in grated orange peel then soured milk. Add flour mixture slowly, stirring as you do. Don’t over-stir. This stuff is more like muffin batter than cake batter, so over-mixing might make it less fluffy. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a 13×9 cake pan that has been greased and floured. Bake for 50-65 minutes at 250°F until golden and done. (The recipe says 50 minutes, but at that point, mine was still pretty wet in the middle. 65 minutes was perfect for mine.)

Hubs says his mom used to make this as a Bundt cake. Sister-in-law said she tried it, but it didn’t work for her. I might try it next time, just to see.

Let me know if you make this and how you like it!

*Prepare soured milk by mixing 1 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup of milk. Set aside for about 15 minutes to sour.

The Kitchen Sponge or “What Stinks?!”

I hate to throw things out if I can make them usable again. Take the lowly kitchen sponge. Not much in your home gets as stinky or germy, as that sponge except for maybe the trashcan and the garbage disposal. Not even the toilet has as many bacteria.

A kitchen sponge is moist and full of little crevices where bacteria can make their homes. With just a couple days use, a sponge can harbor millions of harmful molds, yeasts, and foodborne pathogens, no matter how well we rinse them out. And then we take that nasty thing and smoosh those germs all over our kitchen counters and dishes. 

Yuck. 

And dangerous. While we think we are cleaning, that sponge is also spreading things like salmonella and e coli around the places we prepare and eat food.

Sponges cost all of about fifty cents each, so why not just toss it in the garbage when it starts to stink? 

Because in order to be safe, you’d have to use a brand new sponge every two to three days. At about $.50 a pop, that could get expensive. You could use a dishrag, but it’s no better germ-wise unless you launder it daily. And paper towels, while safer, would also get expensive.

But there’s good news! You can kill 99.99999% the germs in your sponge and make it smell fresh again in about two minutes! 

Simply get the sponge wet (pretty wet, but not dripping), then put it into the microwave on high for two minutes. (All microwaves are different. The first time you do this, watch it to be sure the sponge doesn’t dry out too much. Be careful taking it out of the microwave. It will be hot.) 

And there you have a nice, fresh kitchen sponge. You’ve saved $.50 quicker than cutting out a coupon for new sponges, and maybe saved your family from a case of food poisoning. 

Another way to clean your sponge is to put it in the top rack of the dishwasher when you run it. This works just as well as using the microwave, but only if you have the drying cycle turned on. The drawback to this method is that it usually takes me 10 minutes of looking for the sponge the next morning to remember I put it in the dishwasher.

I used to soak my kitchen sponge it in a little bleach and water for a few minutes. This refreshes the sponge, but according to the USDA, it kills the germs about as effectively as just letting the sponge dry out, which is not very well at all. And if you are like me, well, let’s just say I’d better be wearing all white and move my colorful kitchen towels to another room before I pour the bleach.

Sanitize your sponge in the microwave or dishwasher as part of your regular kitchen cleaning routine everyday (or at most every two or three days), and you will keep your family safe by disarming the most hazardous bacteria spreader in your home. You’ll also save money, because your sponges will stay fresh and last a lot longer.

Welcome to More Than Happier

When I was a little girl, my mom was the model housewife. Our home was spotless. The laundry was always fresh and hanging in our rooms. Dinner was on the table at My Mom, 19644:20 every evening when my dad walked in the door. Our closets and other storage spaces were always organized. She did crafts, made some of our clothes, kept a
garden and canned the vegetables. She did her grocery shopping and errands, and went to the beauty shop every week. She attended PTA meetings, made cookies for school and cakes for bake sales. She was a Girl Scout leader, and at times had a job outside the home. Somewhere in there, she found time to take us kids on outings, to hang out in the pool with us, and to read novels for herself.

Of course, I didn’t know my mom was a human dynamo. Most of my friends’ moms seemed to be just like her. So I assumed that when I became a housewife, I’d be just as productive. This was the career I’d always wanted. I studied under my mother’s tutelage for years. I learned how to make a bathroom shiny and sanitary, how to put the perfect sweeper marks in the carpets, and how to polish furniture like nobody’s business. And even though I never liked cooking, she managed to teach me how to put a decent meal on the table. She did all she could to prepare me to follow in her near-perfect footsteps.

Except that I am not perfect like she was at this. Or maybe it just looked like she was perfect, to her little girl.

I’ve been a full-time housewife for over 25 years, and for all my high ideals, plans, goals, experience, and know-how, it’s still an everyday struggle. Not that I don’t know what to do, or don’t want to do it, but that it’s hard to maintain the energy and focus to do it. And I figured if I have this problem, some others might, too.

So I decided to start this blog to talk about homemaking and other things that are made more fun and easier when done in virtual community. I hope you’ll find it both helpful and entertaining, and I hope you’ll put in your ideas and ideals, so we can learn from each other.

Ready? Let’s go!