Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Cleaning Ain't What It Used To Be

Karen's Ready to Spring Clean!

Pet's Spring Cleaning Elixir


After the rough winter we’ve had everyone heralds the imminent approach of spring with “Yippees” and “About times”. Spring is my favorite time of year. All of a sudden the great outdoors really looks great. Greener, clearer, lighter. I know from living in places where there’s supposed to be only one season, spring still shows up every March. Many years ago, when I was very young, spring didn’t hold the same magic. As a matter of fact it terrified me. Why? My mother was a spring cleaning fiend.


I also dread spring but for a totally different reason. Hay fever! I also had a cleaning fiend in my family, my grandmother. As soon as the first flower sprung from her garden she wrote out her schedule for a top to bottom house cleaning. She did things the old fashion way, we’re talking the Victorian era! : ) Room by room she literally would take everything out clean the walls and the floor till there was not one speck of dust left. Each piece of furniture was waxed till it gleamed. The rugs would be taken outside, aired a then beaten till they couldn’t chook out any more dirt. When she was done she had the cleanest house in town. She dared anyone to give her the white glove test. She never had any takers. My grandmother was only four foot eleven but she could kick anyone’s butt when it came to spring cleaning.


Too bad hay fever hits in places where there’s no hay. My theory is when you don’t get a good hard freeze, all kinds of bugs, and weeds and dried up plants, they linger spreading histamines and making you sneeze. Hope you’re stocked up on Kleenex. We sniffled a little bit in Queens, NYC where I grew up but at my house we had no time. Every spring we got busy changing the whole house to its summer time mode. The heavy oriental rugs lifted and stored, replace by light woven ones. Slip covers slipped over chairs and sofas. Light, airy curtains replaced heavy drapes. Phew. Looked like a different house. Every last room got switched from winter to summer. Me? I think changing my closet from winter clothes to summer clothes is a large enough pain.


I hear you, Pet. People don’t believe I actually have a winter wardrobe living in sunny Southern California. When I first moved here I didn’t need one. My blood was still thick and when everyone was complaining about the 50-degree weather I was running around with short sleeves. Now I’m a total wimp. This year it was actually cold enough to wear my grandmothers fur coat! But back to cleaning, sounds like your mom was in Victorian mode when back in Queens. I just don’t have the energy of a Victorian woman. I’m lucky if when I spring clean I get my office desk cleared off and the curtains washed. And don’t get me started on my closet from hell!


The Victorian women had huge houses and twelve kids to put in all those rooms, but they also have something we don’t have. Help, lots and lots of help: upstairs maids and downstairs maids, cooks and gardeners. Think of what we could do with that kind of help. Spring cleaning time came around and we could point and say, “Clean this, scrub that, paint here and there too.” The weather’s turning warmer and outside calls for me to do my spring cleaning. That is get out in the garden and pull the flowers from last year, get those little weeds popping up, spread the mulch and prunes the roses. The best part of early spring cleaning in the garden is NO BUGS! They’ll be here soon, the tree Frogs are chirping so can cut worms and beetles be far behind?


I have my hands full with the inside. Lucky for me when spring springs my hubby likes to do the outside cleaning. As soon as the weather stays nice and there’s no threat of rain, he’s in the yard prepping the barbeque for the next big cook off. He cleans the gazebo, puts out the wicker furniture cushions and the hammock takes its place beneath the Chinese elm tree. Of course once he’s done all that then I catch the gardening bug and want to spruce up the yard. But this year I’m holding myself back won’t let myself go outside until I’ve tackled one of the big things on my giant house cleaning to-do list. But somehow by the time I get to the closet from hell the garden is calling my name. : )


Isn’t it nice though how once the closets are transferred and straighten, once the rugs are beaten (in my house where a new puppy lives they’re more like eaten), curtains washed, garden planted, mulch down, etc. etc. etc. how great everything looks! And smells. Clean house, spring flowers, fresh air, maybe pollen free for a change, is a delight to the olfactory senses. The greening hills are as easy on the eyes as a clean house. Spring is my favorite time of year. With nature so new, now’s the time to try out new recipes, get a new hair style, buy new clothes. Yeah! Welcome sweet spring time even though she’s calling us to clean the house and garden. We’ll suffer through that just to reap the rewards of the season.

Here’s a delicious soup I made today using new potatoes from California, thank you. Yummy!

Ham and potato soup


3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes

1/3 cup diced celery

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

3/4 cup diced cooked ham

3 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or

to taste

5 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk



Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.


In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.


Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.


The recipe looks yummy. Maybe once I’m done with my spring cleaning I’ll whip up a batch. But one of my big problems is the tons of distractions you have in the city. Today I went to see a fashion exhibit of all the costumes designs that were nominated for the Oscars this year. I was amazed to see all the detail up close and personal. The costume for Young Victoria won this year and they were truly stunning. The pleating and tucking are so meticulously done, not to mention the amazing fabrics that were used. I’d much rather look at them then my dirty drapes! I have no trouble finding an excuse not to clean in tinsel town. But this year I promised myself I’d give the house a good cleaning top to bottom. Now I don’t promise to get it all done in the spring. At this rate I might finish my spring cleaning right before Thanksgiving. : )

Happy Spring cleaning everyone!

1 comment:

WENDY said...

Finally catching up on my blog reading.Spring cleaning,taking everthing out of the room? OH MY GOSH.Even being retired I dont have enough time or energy to do that. I did tackle the closet from hell,I have one too.I dread it every year but somehow manage to get er done.Everyone here in de knows the horrible winter we had,the worst in years.So this year I am looking forward to opening the windows,doors and diving into spit shinng my house.Ill just have to keep thinking of Karens grandmother and her energy.And how nice everthing will be when its DONE!!!!