20 May 2010

Getting Down and Dirty

Yesterday, Day 3 of the 50s Housewife Experiment, was kitchen deep-clean day and probably the most work-intensive of all the weekly chores. It involved doing the obvious stuff (tidying the surfaces and floor) but also cleaning out the fridge and freezer, the oven and all appliances.

I own a *lot* of appliances so this task easily could have taken all day - but since I'm pretending to be in an era where my beloved gizmos weren't readily available to the 50s housewife, I figure I didn't have to clean what didn't exist. It was the one day that acting like my microwave, dishwasher, blender and the rest of my space age gadgets were merely a fantasy was a pure delight and not a source of sulking.

Sadly, I was not spared from deep-cleaning the oven, something I've only done twice since getting it in late 2007. (STOP JUDGING ME.) I got nervous that I was going to really soil my dress from getting in there, so I opted to strip off my clothes and work "au naturel."

Thank Papa Smurf that I don't actually live in a time when a) you'd leave your door unlocked and b) have friends and neighbours who could just pop by unexpected - because that scene was not pretty. Some weirdo out there might think it kinky for someone to be cleaning in the nude, but cleaning an oven that really needs the elbow grease forces one into positions and movements that even desperate, meth-addicted porn stars would decline. I somehow managed to get that black oven soot on my shins, biceps, shoulder, forearm, cheek (of the facial variety!) and ribs. In the end, it was worth it to ditch the gitch.

Here's the sponge that I used on the oven:

It was white and tall and new when I started, destroyed and humiliated when I finished. You can see from the marks where the blue underside shows through where my fingers had been pressing. I actually had to do little hand exercises afterward to work out their soreness.

No wonder things like The Gilbert Vitalator, apparently the Power Glove of the 50s Housewife, were heavily advertised in magazines at the time. Who wouldn't be frightened to put a mini milk truck with electric claws on their hand (and scalp!)? Should anyone be brave enough to strap it on (where is none of my business), I found one on eBay.

Onto more pleasing topics: Meal planning! According to Patrick, yesterday's food hit it out of the ballpark, which means I am finally brimming with self-worth as a woman. The day started with french toast and sausage (with all the necessary beverages, including fresh-squeezed orange juice).

For lunch, he had the leftovers from the previous night. He'll get leftovers for lunch again today, but will likely do a "classic" brown bag lunch on Friday.

Dinner was running a touch behind (I think he had to wait a whole 20 minutes) so I fixed him up with a dry gin martini garnished with a poorly sliced strip of lemon zest to tide him over. Then it was a green salad with Italian dressing (pronounced "Eye-talian" just to be old-timey), a pseudo lamb stroganoff and tomato juice cocktail (yes, he turned his nose up at that last one). I realize this was twice that we've had lamb this week, but from the weekly menus I've seen in my household guides, it was fairly normal to buy a big cut of meat and break it down into two or three meals (which is exactly what I did. Remember, I'm also responsible for making this as economical as possible!).

Patrick was very pleased with the lamb stroganoff. Secret ingredient? Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup. It's not a day in the 50s housewife kitchen unless at least one can is opened and its contents are dumped onto what would have otherwise been considered food. Hurrah.

The dessert was also his favourite thus far. It was a health abomination called Marshmallow Chiffon Custard. It was basically a bunch of marshmallows melted in whole milk with a beaten egg. It was then chilled and served with a few berries on top ("This could have done without the fruit," he so helpfully suggested as he gingerly avoided the only part of the dessert that had nutritional benefit).

Now that all the major areas of the home have been deep-cleaned (I did the bathroom scrub on Monday), I anticipate the rest of the days being easier to keep up with. Hey, I might even manage to - gasp - go outside today!

Image Sources: Art Can Sell and Vitalator advertisement, circa 1952

11 comments:

Janice 2:36 pm, May 20, 2010  

Being too lazy to look anything up, and being on the cursed dial up connection (it took 10 minutes to load the blog), did they not use those smelly, dangerous oven cleaners in the 50s?

Foxy Renard 10:28 pm, May 20, 2010  

OMG, first off: did you actually clean naked?!?! OMG. Hahahahahaha, you are a freak.

Second: how devastating was it to ruin perfectly good lamb with canned soup? HORROR!

Teresa 11:44 pm, May 20, 2010  

Too funny Jen - I'm enjoying reading this! So, have either of you gained any weight yet?

Next time you try this, please come to my house. I could really use a 50's house wife (god only knows what is under my bed!) and I can even supply the kids.

Anonymous,  11:45 pm, May 20, 2010  

wow, you got a fresh cleaning rag AND a new cleaning sponge! lucky you!

-mel

Jen 8:24 am, May 21, 2010  

Thanks again for the comments, people!

Janice: Hmm, maybe they did. I'll poke around my magazines to see if I can find an Easy Off (or the like) ad. If I do, next week's oven-clean is going to be blissfully fumey.

Foxy: Yes and yes. Ha.

Teresa: Glad you're enjoying! I haven't weighed myself yet. I figure that would be too depressing and I'd probably quit. I have a feeling this 50s housewife thing is a one-time deal, though!

Mel: Yes, I felt very special to have such luxuries come my way. Ha.

Christie 11:21 pm, May 21, 2010  

J and I discovered a 1950s-1960s "personal massage tool" at our church garage sale a few years ago. We were laughing our asses off - I kinda want to know what parishoner it belonged to!

Katie,  12:54 pm, February 05, 2012  

I desperately want the recipe for the Marshmallow chiffon thing! Please tell me? Pretty please?

CM 10:07 pm, June 06, 2012  

Hey I just stumbled across your 1950's house wife experiment. First love it. Second I'm pretty sure house wives wore trousers and button shirts either old ones of their own or their husband's old cast offs to do the cleaning in. I can't for the life of me remember where I read that. So there was no need for you to clean in a dress or naked hahaha. They of course made sure to be out of their cleaning clothes and refreshed and into something pretty for the master of the house.

Anonymous,  9:14 am, May 09, 2013  

LOL Just found this and you are a riot! You are lucky you didn't get oven cleaner in any sensitive areas, that could have been painful! :) Boy did this bring back memories of my Mom being a nut trying to make everything perfect before the old man got home, who by the way never noticed anything she did, oblivious to all the work she did around the house and time spent cooking. ( no microwaves or packaged meals back then)

aquaman 11:01 am, January 25, 2014  

please, can I get the Marshmallow Chiffon Custard recipe? It is a must!

Anonymous,  8:18 pm, July 13, 2015  

My mother taught me a couple recipe's with mushroom soup that I still use today in a pinch and my family loves it! (judge me to your hearts content! LOL) And my mother in the 70's and 80's totally had a weekly schedule and made all of her clothes and most of mine until I protested in 3rd grade. She was so under appreciated! I will see her this summer (it has been 5years), I will mention your blog, thank her, and ask her "What can I do for you? I have a free day."

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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