Lessons in Domesticity

Posted on | March 18, 2011 | 16 Comments

When I was growing up, for some reason I equated the ability to fold a fitted sheet with adulthood.  I thought that somewhere along the way, you learned the trick to folding those damn elastic sheets into something beautiful and flat like my Grandmother’s sheets and like the ones in my parents’ house.

Only here’s the thing… I am very much an adult.  I don’t get carded at liquor stores.  I don’t get whistled at or heckled by construction workers.  I can even rent a freaking car.  But guess what.

I can not fold a fitted sheet.

And I’ve seriously tried.  I got that Housekeeping Handbook by Martha Stewart and I studied the chapter on laundry like I was taking a second bar exam.  I followed the steps one by one and I STILL can’t fold a fitted sheet.  It is one of the many reasons we have TWO sets of sheets in this house: one for my bed and one for J’s.  That way I don’t have to fold any of those damn sheets. When we do the laundry, the sheets are washed, dried and placed neatly back on the bed… none of that funny folding crap.

There are just so many things I’ve seen other women do with relative ease that I just can not master.  It’s not just fitted sheets.  It’s things like ironing… how do you iron without creasing?? I always crease.  And things like hair… my hair looks messy no matter what I do.  How do you women get all shiny and perfect? I use Pantene! Where is my gloriously swishy and shiny hair!? Why does my hair look like I washed it with the bar of Dial left over from 1982?

And then there is my most recent domestic failure.

It’s one I repeat often.  See, I am a lot of things.  And I do a lot of things well.  And I like to think that somewhere deep inside me, I am an amazing cook and baker.  Sometimes, I come up with awesome dishes all on my own but most times I stick closely to a recipe.   Husband says I am 50/50 on dishes I create and I bat a 1000 on following a recipe… except when it comes to baking.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I am a fairly decent baker of things like brownies and cookies.  What I do NOT do well, is ice a freaking cake.

Honest to God.

How do people do that? Am I just too impatient?  Do I not let the cake cool down enough?  My cakes pretty much always look like the neighbor’s four year old smashed a fist in it just before I tried to ice it.  They taste good but the look so horrific.  The center sinks down.  The sides droop.  Pieces of cake get mixed into the frosting.  The frosting starts to melt and run down the sides.

It’s atrocious.

How do you people do all this stuff? I see the pictures.  I have been to your houses.  You seem to have everything all figured out and you’re all “here, have a glass of homemade wine that I made from some grapes I grew in my spare time and take a seat on the loveseat.  You like the slip cover? I sewed it yesterday from the drapes that my mother was going to throw away.”  Seriously? I can’t even use a Bedazzler! Have you seen the people who use them? That thing is clearly idiot-proof.

Is there a class I can take?  A Happy Homemaker class that will teach me how to do these things? Because I am sick of sucking at them.  I’d like to quickly fold a fitted sheet.  I’d like to ice a cake with a flourish without getting covered up to my elbows in confectioners sugar and sweating like a whore in church.  I’d like to iron a pair of pants without splashing water on them, creasing them sideways and rendering them unwearable for at least a day.  I’d freaking LOVE to go to work looking like a professional woman rather than an amateur drag queen.

Maybe I just need to pull out my Housekeeping Handbook and read it cover to cover.  Surely Martha can help me.


16 Responses to “Lessons in Domesticity”

  1. LegallyInsaneMommy
    March 18th, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

    We’re related. I have finally found the person my sister was switched with at birth – it must be you. I can not fold a fitted sheet. She can. I can not iron. She can. I can not ice a cake or make perfectly shaped cookies. She can. But I’m a damn good student and lawyer and she’s not (sticking tongue out) – so there!


  2. Jana A
    March 18th, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

    Oh how I love thee… I can’t fold a fitted sheet and I have that same craptastic Martha Stewart encyclopedia on how to do it. We own two sets of sheets like you. No folding required. I don’t iron simply because I suck at it. That’s why God put people on this earth to open dry cleaners… to iron my shit. I need that lesson, too. maybe there’s a session we can go to together. It’d be like a little retreat! 🙂

  3. FocusedonHappy
    March 18th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

    Sometimes I wonder how the shiny women with perfectly pressed clothes and nicely folded sheets ever find time to a) learn how to do those things and b) do them on a regular basis. I barely have time to make sure the bathrooms are clean and we don’t eat mac ‘n cheese more than once a week. So the fitted sheets stay balled up in the linen closet. Shh… don’t tell my mother in law.

  4. Shelley
    March 18th, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    Who folds sheets? I just shove them, balled up, in the basket in my closet. (Our house is stupid and doesn’t have a linen closet. Obviously, a man designed the house without a womanly opinion.)

    If your icing is melting, the cake is too warm at the center still. I let my cool so it feels room temperture to the touch and then stick it in the fridge for a while. And I think a metal spatuala is the trick to icing. I always use this one: http://www.cutco.com/products/product.jsp?itemGroup=1756

  5. Heather
    March 18th, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

    This cracked me up — my friend and I were convinced that the ability to fold a fitted sheet was something mystical and magical that happens the second you become a mom.

    So when I got pregnant, I called her up and said “So, around January I may acquire the ability to fold a fitted sheet” and she SQUEEEEED knowing exactly what that meant 🙂

    (BTW, I still can’t do it… If I focus intently for like 10 minutes, I can maybe do a passable job, but who has 10 minutes to spend trying to fold a friggin’ sheet?)

  6. Mom on a Line
    March 18th, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

    If you lived closer to me, I’d suggest you hire my mom (except she can’t help with the hair). Her job is doing the stereotypical wife things you discuss above for others who are too busy. She also teaches how to do these things and more, like sewing.

    Despite having such a handy mother, I can’t fold a fitted sheet, at least not neatly. I shove them into storage.

    One thing I can tell you about though is icing a cake. It does sound like you need to wait longer for the cake to cool. At least 10 minutes in the pan and another half an hour out of the pan and it should not be warm to the touch anywhere. Then you need to plop a large quantity of icing on top and move the spatula or knife outward, trying to stay moving in the same direction. Do not lift up on the spatula/knife, gently push down and go off the edge. As soon as the knife is lifted, the sticky icing rips the cake top. If you get too thin with the icing, you are more likely to life the cake top off. I hope this helps.

  7. Fellow working mommy
    March 18th, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

    Hey Law Momma (I’m a fairly new reader and fellow working mom, and I really like your blog!)

    I can’t fold the fitted sheet either and I gave up on ironing LONG ago. I also don’t understand people who are concerned about wrinkled sheets- and I’ve heard there are some freaks out there who IRON their sheets! Ironing a sheet would be like my laundry Everest…

    If you have room in your house what about using a steamer instead of an iron? A friend of mine who always looks completely together steams her clothes.

    As for hair- consider something besides Pantene. I have several friends with great hair who use it and swear by it. But I have also heard from several hairdressers that it is the worst thing ever for your hair, though none could tell me why without going into very complex hair science. They weren’t trying to sell fancy expensive stuff to me either, they told me other drugstore brands could work much better. For what it’s worth I love Paul Mitchell’s Super Skinny line. It leaves my hair all hair-commercial-shiny and bouncy, and the serum somehow lets me blowdry it in no time (seriously. miracle product.)

  8. Quiltymom
    March 18th, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    My mom is a magician with laundry, but I watched youtube to learn to fold a fitted sheet.
    Ironing, I can do–I’m former military. For pants, turn them upside down so you’re holding them by the legs. There are seams running down the sides. Take one pantleg and fold it lengthwise so that the inner seam and the outer seam are lined up on top of each other. Lay it on the board and iron from the seam toward the edges. Don’t lift the iron- wiggle it gently back and forth, leading with the pointy end. You should end up with a crease running down the center front and back of each leg. If you do not WANT a crease, then iron as above without pressing over the edges. Put the bum area over the end of the board so it’s only one layer of fabric and gently iron.
    My hairdresser hates Pantene– she says it has a ton of wax in it that builds up in your hair. Try a few washes of the good stuff and see if it helps with the shine.
    Rock on, momma.

  9. Brigitte
    March 18th, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    Forget the sheet thing, I know how to fold fitted sheets … but why bother. Cake: let it cool longer, put in fridge if necessary. Ironing: again, forget it … it’s worth whatever it costs to take your lawyer clothes to the cleaners & have them do it. You have more important things to do with your time (spending time with J & husband) than wasting it ironing & folding stuff that doesn’t need it!

  10. Jess@Straight Talk
    March 18th, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    My cakes look like they’re covered with oreo cookie frosting bc well, all the crumbs mix into the frosting. Whatever throw on some sprinkles and it’s all good.

    As for the sheets…that’s why they sit in the laundry basket. Duh.

  11. Alena Chandler
    March 18th, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

    Yes you need to let the cake cool off more. Also most people who have cakes that don’t sag on the sides it’s because they cut the top off to make it perfectly flat. That’s my opinion from watching Food Network.

    I know how to fold a fitting sheet, but I’m not sure if I’m doing it Martha’s way. And my Mom made sure I knew how to iron, it was a requirement. But I rarely iron. I mean I know hot do I just don’t.

    However things I don’t like to do or I’m not good at….cleaning out the fridge, gardening, having cute little parties for holidays and such.

  12. Jessica @ Raising an Owlet
    March 19th, 2011 @ 1:48 am

    I don’t even bother to put away laundry half the time, I just dig through the hamper until I find what I need, so folding a fitted sheet is rarely a problem. But when the urge does strike me, I have no idea how to fold one either.
    And as for ironing, I just use a squirt bottle with water and smooth out the wrinkles by hand. Does it look ironed? No. Is it less wrinkly? Yes. And since half of my clothes are unfolded in the hamper, the squirt bottle trick works wonders.

  13. Mom Went Crazy
    March 19th, 2011 @ 2:15 am

    You know, I’m just like you. I think some people are better suited to other things. You’re a lawyer, I run a business. I can bake decent enough cookies, my kids always have clean clothes, our home is neat enough but I’m decoratingly-challenged.
    You and I are better suited to the business world. Let’s leave the arts and crafts to the betty crockers.

  14. Aim
    March 19th, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    The sheet thing is genetic. I can’t do it either, despite my sweet and patient friends showing me over and over.

    Also? My icing of cakes is bad. I just get yummy organic fruit and cover it all up so it still looks edible 😉

    And, finally. The people who always look put together, i think, pay someone to do a lot of the shit that is domestic so they have time for all that primping!

  15. kristin
    March 19th, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    Being a”betty crocker” isn’t genetic. My mom irons, folds bottom sheets, and does all that crazy stuff. I refuse to iron, and my fitted sheets are balled up in the closet. I do suggest you get a few generic fitted sheets, you are one stomach bug away from doing laundry at 3am!

  16. Shelley
    March 21st, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    I had greasy nasty hair issues and I was close to shaving my head to get rid of the problem. Instead I went to a salon and got a chemical treatment for color damaged hair (apparently they have a variety of treatments to pick from). It’s like a 15-20 minutes process of applying crap and rinsing it and applying more crap and rinsing it. But… it works! I got it done at the end of December and no longer have greasy hair issues. I can wash my hair every OTHER day and not have any trouble.

    My hair stylist also told me to use a clarifying shampoo once a week. If you use a clarifying shampoo too often it strips the oils from your scalp and hair then your scalp over produces to make up for it.

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