Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Cleaning Phase Three: Home Sweet Home

If you have been participating in all of the phases of the Spring Cleaning Series, then you are probably making great progress. By now, you should have purged as much negativity as possible from your life. You should have at least your first draft of plans for leading a debt free, financially productive life. Now let's take care of home.

Work Schedule

Being a homemaker is a full-time job. You wake up early to make breakfast and prepare the kids for school. You stay up late working overtime for either your spouse or your children. You travel, shop, plan, organize, keep financial records, set appointments, cook and clean. You are an administrative assistant, chef, nanny, advice nurse, accountant, stylist, maid, handyman and more. You should organize your day accordingly.

When you wake up in the morning, consider that as your time to get ready for work. Dress yourself, feed yourself, and prep your mind for your day. Your work day begins the moment you begin to do for someone else. Whether you are starting breakfast or waking up a child, your work day has begun. Within two hours of beginning your day, you are required to take a break. Eat a snack, take a 15 minute walk, watch tv, do whatever you want for yourself and only yourself. Get back to your normal duties for no more than 3 hours. Take your lunch break. Eat, nap, completely relax. Continue about your day the same as you would if you were a full-time employee for someone else. If your spouse is the type to take over for you when he comes home you will be in great spirits by then. I make dinner between 4 and 5pm so that when my husband comes home, my work is done for the evening. Everyone eats, cleans up behind themselves and then crashes. If you aren't able to clock out at 5 or 6pm then take longer or more frequent breaks throughout the day.

Set a true schedule on a planner for yourself. Jot down exactly what you need to do and at what times. You will be less likely to feel down on yourself when you aren't able to accomplish something that day. You can simply reschedule it for another day.

This isn't just a good way to organize your day. It helps to maintain a positive frame of mind. Depression among housewives is very common, especially if the she was once the bread winner.


Once your child reaches preschool age, they are ready for age appropriate chores. Preschoolers enrolled in daycare are being taught to put away their toys and nap time blankets. Why can't your child do this at home? My 4 year old makes her bed, picks up her toys, puts away her folded laundry, and dries the dishes. My 8 year old, soon to be 9, washes dishes, wipes the table, maintains his room, washes is own laundry, puts it away, picks out his school clothes, vacuums, sweeps, curbs his dogs, and cleans his bathroom. By delegating age appropriate chores, I am able to focus on other tasks. It becomes less stressful trying to maintain the household. There are less things on my to do list.

The rule of thumb when delegating tasks is to only assign tasks that one can handle. My husband can't cook, so I don't ask him to cook. But he is strong enough to walk both of our beastly dogs at once. So he does. He's tall enough to dust the ceiling fans, water my hanging plants. He also loves to take care of the cars. When I'm too tired to gas up the rig, wash it or sit all day for an oil change, he's excited to do it. So I delegate to him.

Family Time

Don't be lulled into believing that the only way to have family time is around the dinner table or over a board game. My family bonds while watching The Walking Dead. We also don't always bond all at the same time. My son and I bond during grocery trips. He loves math so he gets to calculate our total. He likes to feel like the future man of the house, so lifting heavy items and grabbing what I need off the shelves makes him proud. My daughter and I bond when we bake together in our matching aprons. Find out what your family likes to do and do it. It doesn't always have to be a Cosby Show affair.


Romance doesn't always mean sex, but it doesn't men no sex either. The only person as important as your child is your spouse. It's easier to neglect the love of your life when you have so much to be accountable for in the first place. So don't put so much pressure on yourself. There doesn't have to be an over-the-top stage performance to maintain the romance in your marriage. As far as sex is concerned, there is always the morning shower, lunchtime liason, or after dinner dessert. If your spouse has any time off available at work, choose a day to use it just for the two of you. Go to a movie. Have a picnic. Make love all day until it's time for the children to come home from school. If your children attend a daycare center, let them stay later. My husband and I maintain the mood daily by "cupcaking". Using affectionate nicknames, sending silly text messages, pinching butt cheeks and stealing kisses. Little seemingly ridiculous acts like these keep us in the mood until we can have time alone together. If that time is a long time coming, we at least get to enjoy each other until then.


Whether there are home improvement projects or small crafting projects, chances are they are undone and piling up in your home. When you're a crafter or a DIY-er, it can be difficult to resist a sale on items necessary for really cool projects you've seen online. The trick is simple. Remind yourself that the same sale that is happening today, will happen again. Don't start another project until you've completed your current project. You will experience the sensation of accomplishment rather than overwhelming frustration or chaos. I like to set timelines for my projects the same as I would a work assignment. My timeline is based on my expendable income. I budget one project per payment received. So, for the first two weeks of the month I made custom screens for all of my windows and my patio door. This project cost me less than $20 but it was very time consuming since I had other things to do on a daily basis. I also have a lot of windows. The last two weeks of the month are being spent planting my organic garden. Next month is summer dresses and regalia.

When trying to maintain a happy home, think simple. Don't be quick to take on too many tasks or projects. Your role as a homemaker is just as important as the role of the bread winner. Pace yourself with schedules and enlist your family members for help. Only then can they appreciate the weight of what you do daily. Always remember to laugh.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kids Dinner in 10

So you forgot to thaw dinner and your kids are hungry NOW. Here's a dinner that is ready in 10 minutes. 

After the news about metal showing up in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese products, I sought an alternative and found Back to Nature at Costco. It's creamier and tastes more like restaurant style mac and cheese. 

I combined two boxes and followed the directions on the package. While it cooked, I fried some bacon and crumbled it on top. My kids killed it and still had plenty of time to play before bedtime. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Disney's Cinderella Review

On Friday, March 13th 2015, Disney released the live action version of it's all time top grossing fairytale, Cinderella. The movie stars Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, Richard Madden as Prince Charming, and Lily James as Cinderella.

Before I begin with the details of the review, let me state that this movie was not marketed for children under the age of seven. There have been scores of little girls arriving to theaters in their little Cinderella dresses. Perhaps they were lulled into believing that this film would be as engaging for small children as its predecessor Maleficent. But this film is more for those fans that fell in love with the actual story and less about the children who fell in love with the scenery.

I went into this film with full-fledged enthusiasm. Cinderella is and will always be one of my favorite fairytales of all time. After seeing Maleficent, another of my favorite fairytales, I had hoped this live action film would live up to what Angelina Jolie and Disney brought to the screen. It did not.


We all remember Disney's cartoon Cinderella. She was a natural beauty who's kind nature and beauty were so overwhelming that the wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters did all they could to rid the world of her grace. In this film however, Cinderella was completely underwhelming. I am not judging the beauty of Lily James. I'm judging the performance and the way the character was written. The cartoon Cinderella was never without a sense of self-preservation. At one point, Cinderella breaks down in tears because she just didn't have it in her to keep overlooking the ugliness around her. She attempted to stand up for herself more than once. But in the live action film, Cinderella was a complete and total push over to the point that she instantly became the most annoying character in the film. She was weak and naive rather than good-natured. She was helpless rather than seemingly hopelessly trapped in a bad situation. There was nothing to like about her or to draw me to her at all. I could not identify with her on any level. This hurts the film greatly. Cinderella left so little of an impression upon me, she could have been completely removed from the film and I wouldn't have noticed.

The Wickedness

The cartoon version did a far better job of illustrating the evil nature of the stepmother and her daughters. There were reasons to hate them all. But in this live action film, there wasn't much to hate. There wasn't an abundance of work to do. There wasn't a re-occurring theme of degradation in the interactions between Cinderella and her stepfamily. In fact, There was a very in depth storyline for the stepmother that allowed us all, much like with the movie Maleficent, to understand and therefore take pity upon Lady Tremaine. By the end of the movie, I wanted to know more about the stepmother rather than Cinderella. Perhaps Disney will do an Evil Queen live action series to follow Maleficent. If they do, remember, you read it here first.

Costume Design

This changes everything. Gone are the days of Cinderella weddings with large flowing white gowns and Victorian lines. Her beautiful blue dress was adorned at the shoulders with the birds that once flew around her in the cartoon version. But what I love most about that infamous dress was the way it reminded me of Scarlet O'Hara's red dress in Gone With The Wind. But again, Cinderella was muted in comparison to the wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine.

There was never a moment when Cate Blanchett's mere onscreen presence did not upstage the title character. It is clear how Ms Blanchett became such a decorated actress in the first place. It would seem the costume designer wanted to remind us all of that by taking extra care when it came to her costumes. Even when her character was at her ugliest, Lady Tremaine's costumes were astronomically more gorgeous than the two most important dresses in the film, both of which belonged to Cinderella.

Let us not forget the fairy godmother. She too had amazing costume design. First appearing onscreen as a haggard old woman, she still had more beautiful clothing that the title character, Cinderella. The make-up was so excellent, I did not recognize Ms. Bonham Carter at all. Once she morphed into the beautiful Fairy Godmother, my attention was once again on her and not the title character. Unfortunately, this was the running theme throughout the film. Prince Charming, the footman, the stepsisters, the other members of royalty, all other characters where far better costumed than Cinderella herself. Perhaps the only negative was Helena Bonham Carter's teeth. She seemed to have difficulty speaking with them. But I am not sure if they were part of the costume or her own teeth. I don't want to make any personal attacks so I won't say much more about her teeth just in case. I will express my disappointment at the attachment of her bottom lashes. It's as if the make-up artist spent so much time making Cate Blanchett beautiful that he or she forgot to line Helena's bottom lids to hide the weft on the false lashes.

Despite the constant overshadowing of the supporting cast's costumes, the star of the wardrobe was certainly that intricately designed glass slipper.  I've never seen a such a gorgeous shoe. Stores everywhere will no doubt stock their shelves with knockoffs. Let the shopping madness begin.

The Cast

First, a nod to the writers and the casting directors who chose to make this a multicultural film without forcing it. If this were a real story, it would be reasonable to assume that an eligible Prince Charming would be met with princesses, queens, duchesses and the sort from kingdoms all around. After all, royal weddings of that day and time were intended to join kingdoms and preserve wealth and build empires. This allowed for many different cultural faces throughout the film. It was refreshing and seamless.


You will notice that I don't have much to say about the story. This is not an oversight. There really isn't anything to be said for the story or the speed of the film. The best part of the film was the race to and from the ball. Outside of that, this movie was completely unimpressive. That being said, if you're in love with the fairytale of Cinderella, you will enjoy this film. If your child is at least old enough to enjoy the storytelling rather than waiting for something to happen, he/she will also enjoy this film. My 4 year old daughter asked to leave and watch Maleficent. My 9 year old son fully enjoyed it. "I liked that the handsome Prince was so rich and got the girl and saved her." He said. There was something about the underdog story that appealed to him. When I pointed out that this was the same mushy, girly fairytale that we watched a cartoon version of, he was shocked. The live action led him to believe it was just a regular romance movie where magical things coincidentally took place. He compared it to Maleficent, which he preferred due to the violence. However, he also said he would watch it again if his sister wanted to do so.

Cinderella and romance enthusiasts will love this movie. Everyone else, will love the costumes, diversity, and nothing more.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Cleaning Phase Two: Restructuring

If you have participated in Spring Cleaning Phase One: The Purge, you have no doubt freed yourself from negative people. You should notice that you are involved in less dramatic confrontations, passive aggressive attacks, and your environment is generally less negative. You may also notice that those whom were banished from your palace have attempted to recruit others to stand against you. Misery loves company. If this is in fact taking place, sit back and let it happen. One of my favorite movies is Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchette. There was a scene where she was presented with evidence of eminent treason, had certain people merely signed the incriminating document. Her response, "Let them sign it. And let it all be done." Needless to say, those who committed the treason ultimately met their demise. I am not encouraging merciless ruthlessness. I am suggesting that if your friends and acquaintances are easily converted by your enemies, let them go. They have in effect, purged themselves.

So, what does that leave you? You may have fully surrounded yourself with worthless derelicts. Purging them all has now left you feeling a little empty and alone. Fear not, for you are merely accustomed to living in a toxic environment. Once you build a nurturing environment for yourself, you will become pleasantly accustomed to being happy.


As with all plans, you must start with a strong foundation or idea. You are ground zero. If you are weak-minded and open to destructive elements, that is exactly the type of environment in which you will live. My best friend of 19 years has a catchphrase she has uttered since the day we met.

"Do not mess with my food, my money, or my sleep."

I always found the list to be comical. What of your family? What of your friends? In asking those questions, I discovered the secret to her success and the reasons for my failures. I was taught that family, friends and loyalty are everything. I soon learned, I couldn't feed myself or pay my bills with people. In fact, those people would likely keep me up at night and cause me to inadvertently negatively impact my own ability to acquire food and money. Let's apply her catchphrase to the logic of restructuring your personal life.


First thing's first, How do your provide for yourself? How do you keep food in your mouth, a roof over your head? Is it welfare, loans, theft? If the answer is anything other than employment, you need to shift your focus here. Why are you on welfare? What are you doing with your 48-60 months of cash aid? Are you lying and concealing information to maintain eligibility? Are you not bothering to seek and maintain gainful employment because it's easier to sit home and collect a check and wait for food stamps? Why? Why is this way of life good enough for you or your family? Why is the idea of working for a living and not having to answer to anyone or lie to maintain eligibility not more alluring than the opposite?

What of those whom are not on welfare? Is pride preventing you from providing for yourself? When it comes to providing the basic necessities for yourself or your family, no job is too small for you. Of course, there are limitations. If your entire paycheck goes to childcare, then that doesn't make economic sense now does it? 

Let's talk child support. So many women beat their chests and wax poetic about not needing a man for anything. Men won't file child support against the mother because of the belief that it makes them less of a man to take money from a woman. Let me pose the following question to these people: Do you file taxes every year? The answer is "yes". The reason is that people want and need the money that the government took from them, which they are indeed entitled to have refunded. So, why would these parents not want to act with the same logic when it comes to claiming their child's child support? This is not about your ego or relationship. This is about the quality of life your child deserves. The same is true of back child support. Many parents get away with not paying their share by waiting out the child's 18th birthday. But did you know, you have the legal right to sue for back child support, even after the child is 18 years old? If the parent passes away, having a court judgment will entitle you to funds from the estate. These funds could help with college, the first apartment, the first grandchild.

What about your bills? Add them up, if they total more than your rent, you need to make some immediate changes. If you receive subsidized rent, calculate this by using the amount of rent you would be paying if you weren't receiving public assistance. Your debt should not exceed 1/3 of your income.

By restructuring the way you provide the necessities in your life, you will find it difficult to remain in your current state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.


On the surface, it may seem like this is the same as "food". For the purposes of this post, "food" refers to your necessities. "Money" refers to your financial goals. What type of career did you want to have before the existence of the catalyst that changed your life? What style of life, comforts did you aspire to have? If you envisioned living in a two-story house with a baby grand piano in the family room, start envisioning what it will take to get there. Goals are not achieved by merely daydreaming. The daydreaming is almost literally the brainstorming of your goals. At some point you have to map out a plan.

You need decent credit to purchase a home. If you have focused on securing your necessities, then you are gainfully employed. Now you need to calculate the necessary amount of income to improve your credit. Focus on small debts first. These are the debts that can be paid off in one to two payments. Do not freak out when your tax returns have been claimed for a debt. This means the debt has been paid. Don't let the debtor off of the hook either. If a debtor has taken your tax returns, demand in writing an immediate update of your credit report. Demand a receipt for payment and verification that the debt has been cleared.

Once you have tackled your credit, calculate the amount of money needed to purchase a typical home that you imagined. How much is a baby grand piano? How much is the furniture that you would place in that home? Start saving aggressively to meet your deadline. If you aren't willing to sacrifice or to put in the necessary amount of work to achieve your goals, then you need to choose new goals.


What keeps you up at night? Is it your health, your relationships, your bills? Tackle it immediately. Don't become a passenger on your own plane. Be aggressive with your health. Excuses for why your health is not under control amounts to a shorter life span. Make plans, seek medical assistance through your insurance carrier (that is why they're paid), make active changes. Failure is not an option. You have one life and one body. The same is true of mental health. What others think of your spiritual or mental health beliefs is irrelevant. You live alone inside your own mind. They have no say, therefore, what they say should have no impact on your quest to improve your mental health.

Sometimes, what keeps you up at night are your relationships. So many conflicts can be resolved with simple communication. I have a family member that violated my confidence and told another family member something she shouldn't have. She told some truths but she also told many lies. She created conflict within the family through Facebook. Things got even more out of hand when she attempted to recruit my sister to turn against me. When that didn't work, she got angry and began a tirade against me. When I confronted her, she denied being mad at all before subsequently deleting me from Facebook. This was the immature way to resolve issues. The proper way to deal with her anger was to take advantage of the fact that I came to her in the first place, and to tell me how I upset her. I am a reasonable person. I would have made any necessary changes to maintain that bond we had that was so newly formed. But alas, I am unforgiving. Her opportunity to declare a mea culpa, or to reach a resolution with me has passed. She has proven to be dishonest and untrustworthy and therefore, she is barred from re-entering my life.

Twenty years ago, I would have lost sleep over the situation I just described. I would have lamented the loss of the relationship. I would have felt like a failure for not being able to maintain that bond. I have since matured, and I am now wise enough to know, not everyone deserves a place in your life. Being a related to someone does not entitle them to be a part of your life.

There are many changes one can make to improve their quality of life. Try not to make them all at once. I would advise securing your "food" before all else. Perhaps jumping ahead to securing your "sleep" may be more practical as upsetting relationships can impede your progress. This is also why this Spring Cleaning Series begins with The Purge. Build a stronger, healthier, happier self so that you may "live long and prosper."

The Red Housewife is available to answer reader questions on Twitter @theredhousewife and through email