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What’s Up Magnolia?

Elizabeth Woodall and Melissa Johnson

Donuts on Cake

We are both retired teachers who raised two children each. We had assumed that the reason that we had not kept up with the housekeeping chores was because we were busy working at our paying jobs and raising kids. That certainly was always our excuse for smudgy windows and gritty floors. Now there are no small children in our houses... or big ones either. Having retired from the workforce we enjoy much more leisure than at other times in our lives, yet never has housekeeping seemed to “spark less joy” than now.

For starters, there is too much “stuff” our houses. Trips to the Salvation Army, garage sales, and throwing out are not enough to eliminate the decades of accumulated things. Cookbooks, grandma’s cast iron, worn bedspreads, winter sweaters that don’t fit anyone anymore, old year books, fading stationery... you get the idea.

Each year Elizabeth wraps her grown daughters’ prom pictures or make-up caddies in Christmas paper and “gifts” as much as she can back to them. We recently heard of a phenomenon called guerrilla gifting that we are considering adopting. Using this decluttering strategy, a person visits a friend and slips an item that needs re-homing into a logical location. One might place a coffee mug in a kitchen cabinet, a vase on the sideboard, or overly fragrant hand lotion onto the bathroom counter.

It has occurred to us that perhaps modern technology will help with the drudgery of cleaning. The dishwasher and washing machine have certainly done much to free up time for the modern family from once recurring and tedious chores. Recently Melissa purchased a robot vacuum cleaner which can come on with a timer, painstakingly map the rooms, returns to its home, and dumps the canister into the dock. She’s looking for the drone version that will do the cobwebs on the ceiling.

Now here we are: we have the time, we know what it ought to look like, and yet we still struggle with the dailiness of mess, clutter, and cleaning.

We heard the other night on late night television that organizational guru, Marie Kondo has “cried Uncle”. She recently had her third child and the author of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has admitted defeat. “Whew,” that takes the pressure off. If the professional is rethinking her position, then who are we to stand in the way of enlightenment?

Here is a recipe for an orzo pasta salad that we are very fond of. A great recipe especially if you grow basil. No dusting or mopping is required to execute this.

Orzo Florentine Salad
1 lb. Orzo pasta
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup basil julienned (roll the leaves up together and slice thin)
1 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
1 bunch green onions sliced small
1 ½ lemons juiced
1 bunch spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse in cold water and drain. Toss with 2 T olive oil to keep from sticking together. Make dressing of remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Add all the other salad ingredients and toss with orzo and dressing.

If this is going to sit a while add the toasted nuts right before serving.

*optional advice: if basil is out of season Mama (Sally Johnson) suggested using chopped parsley and dried basil.

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