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Our family reached an interesting milestone today – we are now a two crock pot family! I’m not talking about owning two crockpots (I’ve done that for awhile), I’m talking about needing to fill two crockpots for one meal. Yep- one crockpot completely full is not enough for our family. We use the meal for dinner and lunch the next day and I’ve been going without lunch because there isn’t enough to go around. So tonight I filled both crockpots with Green Chicken Chili and it feels a bit like I’ve arrived!
My parents were raised in big families – my dad comes from a family of eight children and my mom comes from nine! I don’t know how my grandmothers kept everything and everyone under control, clothed and fed. And that was before the days of crockpots!! I know they had to prioritize the things they spent their time on. How else would they get the essentials done? Just laundry alone would have been a momentous task (remember hanging things on the line to dry).
So, because it is New Years, I might as well talk about resolutions. I have a resolution to simplify my life – I’m going to call it “grandma-ing” my life! I went to the trusty internet for info on what that might entail. I found a great article about a couple that had taken on a “50’s housewife experiment”. The things they learned, and incorporated into life, were eye-opening! So let’s dive into the 50’s! Some of my favorites:
Less distractions – Today’s interactions include wife at the computer, husband staring at the phone, kids playing video games or entranced with other screens. The 50s housewife was a smart lady and she would have none of that. She greeted her husband when he arrived home, the kids were spit shined and she was looking her best. She aimed to have dinner timed so they could all enjoy it together.
Resolution – We do pretty well with dinner, but the greeting is lousy. My goal is to greet each other when we arrive home and really LISTEN. Listening means no screens, in our hand, near us or on.
Making do – You know the old adage “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Well, my grandmas were pros at this one. My maternal grandma made the most amazing bread – by hand, until the day she died. But I didn’t know it was homemade for a while because she kept it in Wonder Bread bags. I think she probably reused those same bags for 20 years because I never saw her actually buy bread from a store! Why get new bags when those still worked? We are such a throwaway society. Here are some great ideas:
Resolution – To use some of these ideas! It keeps items out of the land fill, saves money and uses your creativity.
The plastic bags you get when you buy bulk items, produce or bread – can be used as lunch bags, ice bags, even shower caps
Paper bags – including the type flour and sugar come in – can be reused or cut open and used as package wrapping
An empty tissue box can serve as a great plastic bag holder
You can clean your windows and glass with crumpled newspaper instead of paper towel (and you can still recycle the newspaper afterward)
Newspaper can also be stuffed in shoes to remove some odors
Jars can always be used for storage or for keeping bulk foods (plus, your stuff is less likely to get pantry bugs when it’s in an airtight container rather than a bag)
Besides storage, a cleaned can would be used for making candles
Old, worn-out clothes were cut for rags. “Twinless” socks made for great “dust puppets” (slip one over your hand and do your dusting that way!)
Vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, water and soap (esp. castile soap) can clean just about anything – and they’re safe to dump down the drain or have around the body
Mens and Womens roles. I always thought this was interesting…the roles of the man and the woman in the family. Our “modern” world has had it’s way with these roles, and for some reason, in mixing things up, things just got mixed up! As a professional working woman, you might say I’ve been emancipated. I’ve been freed from the drudgery of the kitchen and trying to make a man happy. Or have I…?
Resolution – It turns out I actually like working in the kitchen, and when we are all working together, I want to do things for my family! It’s not some out-dated social norm – it’s about showing everyday kindness, appreciation and effort towards people you love and respect. So I am going to remember why I do things for my family and find joy in helping them have joy! I watched my grandmas do it for years (not always with joy, but there was enough) so now it’s my turn to don the apron and follow their lead.
Prettying up is worth doing. The only time I ever saw my grandma without her hair done was when we were on our annual lake Powell trip. Other than that, she was up, hair done, dressed and ready for the day before anyone was even stirring. She didn’t get fancy – very little makeup up her clothes were more for working than show, but she always looked nice. There is something to being “put together”. It helps you feel like you actually are.
Resolution – To comb my hair and brush my teeth before noon, even on a work at home day! I may actually even get ready for the day whether I’m going anywhere or not. I think there is an advantage to spending a couple of minutes preparing for the day. You feel like an adult that has their act together. So I’m not going to get fancy, but I’m going to spend enough time to do my hair – in memory of grandma.
May you simplify and get back to the things that really matter this new year. It’s going to be a great one!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen