The Joy of Cooking for Others

We had two of our older friends visit this weekend. We are in our mid to late twenties and they are in their late fifties. I made burgers for the first time along with pasta salad, and the wife of the couple brought this delicious lemon pie. You can tell she’s an experienced baker.

I never knew burgers were so simple. I always thought that they, along with many other foods, were processed and hard to make. But literally it’s just ground beef, salt, pepper, and you smash it into a burger shape. I mean, mine came out kind of lumpy and not circular, but the taste was pretty good. The first attempt came out way too thick and small, but subsequent tries were successful. Add some American cheese and dang, who needs McDonald’s? 😀

The pasta salad was probably the first thing I ever made “from scratch” last summer, and I’ve made it plenty of times since. This is the recipe I swear by:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14385/pasta-salad/

I made A LOT of pasta salad. It seemed like an insurmountable quantity, but after we took a good stab at it that night for the dinner party, we took it to our church potluck the next day (and kept a little bit at home for ourselves) and people finished it. What a glorious feeling when people, complete strangers and ones you know alike, enjoy your food!

We didn’t get tired of the burgers after two days of it, so I made another batch from the ground beef from the freezer. We are going on day four of burgers and there’s one meal of them left. Good to know that my growing fetus is also enjoying them too. She just kicked me in agreement.

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“This Mass isn’t holy enough.”

Recently I went to Confession and apologized for “slacking off” and not going to our parish mass, a Latin mass that’s about a 15 minute drive away that only offers a 7:30 AM and 10:00 AM Mass on Sundays. Instead, we’ve been going to afternoon Novus Ordo masses, at 4 or 5 PM, closer to our home.

It’s not like we have any good reason to miss the 10 AM mass, other than the fact that I’ve been pregnant and have been feeling more lazy and tired.

I felt so bad because the Latin mass is so much harder to get through, so it feels like I’m doing more for God that way. It’s longer, it’s pretty much all in Latin, and it’s much harder to follow. The priest doesn’t face you or address you except during the homily. He’s mostly just saying the prayers quietly up at the altar.

On the other hand, the Novus Ordo Mass is much more comfortable and the one I’m more used to. We get to sing songs, everything is in English, and it’s shorter. Much more digestible. The “dumbed down” version.

The Confession priest promptly told me that it was not a sin to miss the Latin Mass and that Mass was Mass. He’s right, of course. But it made me think about why I feel so bad about missing the Latin Mass when my husband feels no guilt at all. Maybe I was using that Mass as a point of pride (which is a big no no). Hey, look at me, I’m going to this fancy pants Mass that I can’t understand, because it’s so holy and ascetic. Look how much I’m suffering for God. This is a ticket straight to heaven! Because it’s harder!

That is probably not the way that God wants us to approach Mass. Because the priest was right. Mass is Mass. And if we start disagreeing with that and thinking that one is holier than the other… well, I’ve been down that road. There are groups that think like that, but they’ve been kinda sorta excommunicated by the Catholic Church. No bueno.

By the way, I’m not saying that people who go to Latin Mass are stuck up. On the contrary, they are super nice and friendly and gosh, every day I wish I were more like them. I think people who attend frequently go because they honestly enjoy it. They’re not thinking about how great it looks, like I was. That’s just how they prefer to worship.

I just don’t know if I should strive to be more like them, since I know that there are so many different ways to be holy. Maybe my path isn’t like theirs. Only time and prayer will tell, I suppose…

Used Crib and Banana Bread

Yesterday (Saturday) morning I woke up and felt kind of restless. Now that I’m more experienced as a stay at home wife, I’m not running to the grocery store every two to three days because I forgot to buy something. So I don’t get to get out of the house that often.

So Hubby and I went on a garage sale spree! It’s one of my favorite parts about living in the Midwest. Garage sales are alive and well. You just pick an area of town that’s wealthier than you would ever hope to be, pray that the good weather holds, put on some sunscreen, and head out with some cash! Who knows what adventures you’ll find! And you meet the nicest people here. And I get to use those haggling skills my Asian mother taught me.

The results:

-1 red Christmas velvet dress for Baby ($0.50, but we bought a snack from them, so $1 total at this place)

-Two maternity tank tops and one maternity dress for Mama (myself) for $5

-A pair of cute peach summer sandals for Mama (I’m spoiled beyond belief) $5

-Sims 3 video game for Hubby $3 (we bought this at the Goodwill at the end of the trip but I’m counting it as part of the garage sale spree) (and to show that we didn’t just buy things for me)

-A barely used Target crib and crib mattress $50

Yeah. That last one was a doozy. I had to just sit in the car for several seconds and wonder what the heck just happened. We had no plans of buying anything big. I would have been happy if we didn’t buy anything that day. But a crib??? Aren’t you not supposed to buy those used? Especially from strangers? Am I a horrible mom and my baby’s skin is going to dissolve her first night in the crib?

But we must have stood there for twenty minutes just discussing it and Googling what we had to watch out for. The mattress is waterproof with literally no visible wear-and-tear. All of the parts were wrapped in plastic and well organized. The women selling it were really nice. The younger one claimed if she were having children anytime soon, she would have used it herself, and that was after the sale had been made.

Sometimes you have to just let go and let God. I felt at peace with it. So did my husband. So that’s our life. I’m dying to tell my mom about what happened because I managed to get the price down from $70 (which was already an incredible deal) but I think her apprehension about the used mattress might outweigh the sick savings we got. I’ll tell her after we’ve used the crib a while and no catastrophes arise…

Then we got home and were a bit short on food for dinner so I scrounged up some banana bread with the Kitchen Aid we got for a wedding present. I’d never used it in the five months we’ve been married, so it was a virginal experience. Kitchen Aid did not disappoint. Banana bread turned out way better than it did the first time I tried making it with manual labor (i.e. hand mixing, i.e. the worst).

The Lovely Bread, now gone from existence because we finished it in one sitting:

Easy Recipe for Simple Women:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/241707/joys-easy-banana-bread/

Life is good, life is sweet.

-BH

Monthly Allowances, Method cleaner, and Mops

When I stopped working, I had read another housewife blog discussing a monthly “allowance” for the wife. Even though this sounded totally demeaning right off the bat, I realized after a couple of months that I needed it, because otherwise I was afraid to spend any money at all. Psychologically, I felt like since I wasn’t explicitly bringing in any money, I shouldn’t spend any money that wasn’t absolutely necessary for the good of the household.

However, this is the exact reason I became a stay at home wife. I knew there was inherent immeasurable value in a housewife’s work, and I wanted to see if I could find self-worth without a paycheck. I wanted to show myself that there was nothing wrong with me getting a cut of the money from my husband’s monthly income. Whether I saw it as a “thank you” from my husband or as my legitimate share, I had earned that. Through my cooking, cleaning, and general care of the house, I shouldn’t feel bad about using the money.

I’m still mentally working on feeling ok with this, but then comes the second question.

What do I spend the money on?

The first thing I tried was makeup. I currently don’t wear any. I bought $30 worth of sunscreen, eyeliner, and eyeshadow from CVS. I wore the makeup once, didn’t get much out of it, and then never thought about it again. Fail.

I also came across the Youtube channel Beauty and the Beastons, where Tiffany, a stay at home mom of two, wipes down her kitchen every day with this pink cleaner.

Pink! 

I’ve always been the type of gal who always buys the generic, store-brand, no-frills version of everything. But it was PINK. 

The idea sat dormant in my head for a couple of days. Then one trip to the grocery store later, I came back with my first kind-of-unnecessary personal purchase.

Isn’t she beautiful?

So I wiped down my entire kitchen. It was a blast.

Image result for gif having fun

Because this stuff smells better than vinegar and water, which was my economical cleaning solution from before. No wonder I never wanted to clean. White vinegar smells soooooooo bad. I actually think it makes my restroom smell worse.

The cleaning kick continued. Tiffany used this to mop her kitchen:

O-Cedar Easy Wring Spin Mop & Bucket System with 2 Extra Refills

so I thought, well, Tiffany has never steered me in the wrong direction before. But this O-Cedar Easy Wring Spin Mop and Bucket System costs a pretty $34.00…

Real talk, I never helped my mom mop the kitchen or bathrooms when I was growing up. She never asked, and I never offered. I had only mopped at my ice cream job. My husband had to take the stars out of my eyes and tell me that with our tiny kitchen and bathroom, the Fancy Expensive Bucket System was kind of impractical.

So I had to pivot and make my own “Beginner Housewife with a Tiny Kitchen Floor” Mop and Bucket System. I had an old Swiffer mop and some mostly clean rags sitting around. My end result is what you see below:

Ultimate Fragrance Experience? DON’T MIND IF I DO.

Fancy camera shot for the viewers.

I apologize for the nasty state of the rag.

My pride and joy.

This was the second time I’ve mopped our kitchen since we moved in four and a half months ago. I was initially too embarrassed to admit this, but I might as well be honest. I’m a beginner! It was also the first time I’ve mopped the restroom. You can go ahead and vomit now.

Looking forward to even more adventures ahead. Signing off now.

-BH

Apple Pie Bars

This is the dessert that motivated this blog because I just really wanted the world to know this happened. Look at that lattice crust. WHO EVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE ABLE TO DO THAT? Thank you, Great British Bake-Off!

Raw:

Fully cooked, half eaten:

The recipe:

I primarily do recipes that I find on the boxes/bags of other ingredients. I actually never look at recipe books, even if my husband strongly hints that he’d like me to learn said recipes. He jokes that if he ever wanted me to make something for him, he’d have to print it out and tape it to the back of some box that I can find. That’s sad but definitely true.

A New Road

In the past six years, I’ve had the following “life paths”

  • education reformer
  • researcher
  • author
  • teacher
  • data analyst
  • back to author

In fact, ever since I was in preschool, I’ve thought about what my career would be. My parents gave me an ultimatum my junior year of high school; this was the year I had to do decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It started with “maybe I’ll be an architect…” And you can see it didn’t stop there.

Finally a year ago, after a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to quit my full time job and become a housewife. My family thought I had gone nuts. There are still friends out there I haven’t told yet.

But I’ve been learning and growing a lot these past few months. I’ve been writing fiction on and off since I was like, seven. I’m twenty-five now. And recently, I tried to immerse myself in that world again, writing and crafting characters and sinking hours into the worlds I created. But it wasn’t the same as when I was a kid. It was full of people, but I just didn’t care about them.

But yesterday I made apple pie bars for the first time ever, and they were delicious. And my husband and I finished half of it in a day, a.k.a. they won’t survive until tomorrow. I’ve never liked cooking or baking. Actually I told my husband maybe a week ago, “I really hate cooking.” But could it be that inside a mixture of flour, butter, and sugar is actually what I’ve been looking for for eighteen years?

Maybe it’s the “career” I’ve searching for all along.