My Summer (Housekeeping) Vacation

Summer. In Texas. During an epic drought.

I’ll say it again:


We’ve let the garden go to sleep (read: die) early this year. As mentioned before, we usually shut down in July as I find it difficult, personally, to justify the amount of water to keep the large raised bed going. If you’re on my FB page, then you’ve seen the last harvest of the spring/summer garden.

And so it’s time to turn my attention to other things. Like jumpstarting a major, multi-week project that I dropped in pursuit of several trips. Catching up on some of my freelance work. Painting my toenails. Waiting to replace my dead laptop so that I can upload pics again.

I’ve also decided that it’s time to get my house in order, having fallen into neglect in the wake of an extended family illness and aforementioned family travels. (Why it takes me weeks to unpack completely is a mystery to me. But it does.)

Let me say up front that, in my opinion, housekeeping is one of those things that you get out of exactly what you put into it. The frustrating part is that two days later, all the work seems to have been erased. Housekeeping is the Achilles heel to my perfectionism. Or maybe it’s the foil to my visions of domestic tranquility.

Oh, who am I kidding? I find  a few other things more interesting than cleaning. Like, well… everything, actually.

Fortunately, I have this very nice book, see…

which holds the promise of all sorts of fabulous secrets to homekeeping, but in a less breathy style than Martha Stewart. Author Cheryl Mendelson is a New York lawyer-turned-novelist and has a kid. The book’s been around for over a decade, but I imagine if she’d have started her career later, she’d have probably blogged a bit and we’d all be tweeting the heck out of her stuff.

Her stuff, packed into 884 pages (with index), is definitely worth reading. It’s chockful of all kinds of sensible advice, the kind that nudges you to action but doesn’t make you feel guilty. Well, not too guilty. When I found the monster-sized volume last night, at the bottom of an embarrassingly large pile of books in my bedroom, it only took a read-through of 5 pages to propel me into the kitchen to give that sucker a proper cleaning. I also folded three loads of laundry. (She had me at the application of the  “broken window theory” to household maintenance. That did it. I grabbed a sponge and cleaner but quick lest we all become anti-social deviants.)

By 1 am, I was all set to type up a housekeeping schedule, using Mendelson’s book as a guide, but then I hit Google and found this divine little Excel document. I’ve tweaked it, printed it, and placed it on the fridge. It looks solid enough to keep me going while not overwhelming my time, either.

So, big news, I’m working my way through the checklist this July.  Exciting, eh? But Lord help me, come August–when the new plants go in the ground–I really want to feel confident in my housekeeping skills again… or at last.

Your tips, advice, and housekeeping philosophies are welcome here, there and yonder

Red, White & Grew promotes the victory garden revival and other simple, soulful and earth-friendly endeavors as patriotic acts in an age of uncertainty. Interact with us on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Thank you so very much for all of this, including the less breathy, more serene, human and realistic approach … I sincerely needed this!

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