A few of you may know that my first foray into online writing was a newsletter called “Tea With Dee”. It focused largely on homemaking. I started it in February of 2005 and wrote more or less consistently through 2011. I picked it back up in the latter half of 2013 for several months but gave it up entirely when I started this blog and its corresponding newsletter.
The other night it occurred to me that I might share some of my writings from those old newsletters here on Life With Dee. They were often very personal and those of you who didn’t read that newsletter or my old blogs might enjoy the stories and the opportunity to get to know me better.
The following story was from the very first issue.
(Originally published in the Tea With Dee newsletter via Yahoo Groups, February 9, 2005)
I loved to play house as a little girl. My cousin, Sue, who was also my best friend, lived next door most of our growing up years. Our grandparents lived right behind us and the two of us spent many an hour playing in their den. We each had a favorite corner where we would set up our *house* and play dolls.
We also had a playhouse in their backyard. One of my fondest childhood memories is the summer we decided to fix up the rather primitive playhouse. My brothers and Sue’s younger brother also got in on this.
There was no window in the playhouse but this didn’t stop us from making a pair of curtains out of old dishtowels that our grandmother gave us. We made a little bed for our dolls out of wood and bricks. (Continuous remodeling is a family curse so there was never a shortage of building materials for our projects.) We swept and cleaned and washed all the little dishes we kept out there.
We then did a bit of “landscaping”. This was the desert so we weeded the area immediately surrounding the playhouse and then raked the dirt smooth. We collected good-sized rocks from all over and used them to border the “yard” around the playhouse, complete with a walkway to the door. I think we tried to plant a tree of some sort but I can’t remember the details about that. It might have just been a branch we cut from a tree.
We worked really hard for several days. We then planned a little open house complete with entertainment. I think my brother played his guitar and we all sang something. We invited our parents and grandparents for this grand event. What a fun time we all had!
I can’t help but think that if someone had told us we had to do all this, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. In fact, I don’t think it would have been fun at all. Why was all that work enjoyable as a child but cleaning my house and weeding flower beds now more often seems like drudgery? Could it be my attitude about it? As a young girl I wanted nothing more than to grow up and have my own home and children (I didn’t think much about the husband part in those days – ha!). I would daydream about taking care of my cosy little house and rocking real babies instead of dolls.
I married quite young and well remember those early months of our marriage. We rented a small, one bedroom apartment for the first nine months. We started with very little and didn’t have much money but it was still a pleasure to turn that plain little apartment into our home.
We didn’t have a sofa at first so I took one of those tri-fold lawn chairs, opened it out flat, covered it with a quilt, and then propped throw pillows against the wall behind it. You know what? I didn’t mind this makeshift sofa one little bit. After all, I finally had my own home and I was delighted with it. I loved serving dinner by candlelight on our pretty china, even if it was only hamburgers.
We then bought our first house. It was quite old and fairly small. It needed a lot of work but we were so happy to no longer be throwing away money on rent. I will never forget our first spring there.
The elderly lady who had owned the house before we bought it had planted lots of flowers. I have always adored flowers so it was a real thrill to discover each new bloom. There were lusciously scented old fashioned roses, irises, peonies, and honeysuckle covered the entire back fence. Each day I would go out and cut a few flowers. I had vases and other containers all over the house, filled with flowers. The kitchen was barely larger than a walk-in closet, the bathroom only had a tub – no shower, I had no washer or dryer, no dishwasher, and just a very old window air conditioner in the living room, but those flowers made up for all that.
Our next home was a brand new mobile home. We were planning to build a house on an acre adjoining my parents’ land but thought we should live out there for awhile first in order to be sure we wanted to live in the country. It was only two bedrooms but it was 80 feet long and everything was sparkling clean and new. There was a dishwasher and a huge garden tub in the big master bathroom. Oh, how I loved that tub!
Some of our busiest years were spent in that mobile home. Chris was 18 months old when we moved in and Lisa was born during the seven years we lived there. I also went to nursing school during that time. Despite all that, I still enjoyed keeping house there, although we were getting a bit cramped toward the end of that time.
After I graduated from nursing school we decided that instead of building a house in the country, we would buy a house in town. We found the most charming 1930s era house in a great neighborhood. The minute I walked in the front door I knew this was the house for us. It had nine foot ceilings and all those vintage details that make older homes so attractive. The kitchen was huge and still had the original metal cabinets and large porcelain sink with built in drainboards. Some cute wallpaper and some 50s collectibles turned it into the most adorable Betty Crocker style kitchen imaginable. The house only had one full bath and a half bath off the master bedroom, but the three bedrooms were huge.
The house was very well designed and quality built. It was such a joy to decorate this cosy little house. And a pleasure to keep clean and tidy. We all loved this house but finally decided we wanted to move to the country.
We have been in our current home for 7 years. It is situated on 40 lovely wooded acres, complete with a pond and a guest house. The main house is fairly large and two stories. It was decorated in very unattractive 70s colors when we bought it but we quickly remedied most of that and have gradually made improvements over the past several years.
Our biggest project was the kitchen. That had been my biggest disappointment with this house. After enjoying such a cute kitchen at our previous house, the dark, cheap cabinets, dropped ceiling with fluorescent lighting, and poor design did nothing to make me enjoy spending time in there. David completely gutted the old kitchen and we now have my dream kitchen.
For some reason, over the past 2 or 3 years I have lost some of my enthusiasm for housekeeping. I am a neat nut by nature so the house is generally fairly tidy and my kids insist it is cleaner than the homes of most of their friends. Still, I often feel as though I am just going through the motions and doing merely the necessary tasks. It often seems as though all I do is routine maintenance but rarely get to the fun parts of homemaking, like decorating and rearranging stuff. I also find myself rushing through my daily tasks instead of enjoying them like a little girl playing house.
I doubt I am the only one in this situation so I plan to explore this in future issues. How can I get back the joy in homemaking that I used to have? Stay tuned and maybe I will have some answers someday.
In the meantime, here are a couple of favorite housekeeping resources:
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I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you like to read more of my ramblings about homemaking and such from that old newsletter or is better left in the past?
My “Betty Crocker Kitchen” from the 1930s house
My current kitchen