Domestically Challenged

When I was a little girl, my mother made most of her own clothes and several pieces for my sister and I. That sewing machine was always on the kitchen table and the idea of using a peddle to make it go fascinated me. Somewhere I have a family portrait (sans the boys as they weren’t born yet) in which my mother is wearing a dress she made. The picture was taken in the late 70s which means the dress is butt-ugly, but you can’t tell it’s homemade.

The rest of my childhood was spent watching my grandmother in the kitchen. She was a fantastic cook and could make anything. She baked too. Never measured, she was one of those eye-ballers, but gosh that stuff was good. Cloverleaf rolls, nut bread, nut rolls, cookies of every kind, pie crusts, homemade meatballs, noodles and sauce. It’s no wonder I had weight issues by age eleven.

The only complaint I have about these talents is, they didn’t pass them on to me. My mother never even taught me how to sew on a button. I know nothing about patterns, how to thread a machine, or the difference between a clean finish and a flat felled seam. And yes, I had to look those up to find an ending for that sentence.

I may have helped my grandmother roll out dough or frost some cookies, but I never really learned how to make anything. I have no skills in the kitchen what-so-ever. I can boil water, follow the directions for whatever comes out of a box, but that’s it. I’m domestically challenged.

Since I’ve never had a man in my life that actually complained about my domestic skills, I suppose I’m not so bad off. But I still hate that these skills once performed so well by the women in my family stop with me (and my sister who is even more challenged than I am if that’s possible). Other than playing softball and a love and appreciation for reading, writing, and music, I’m not sure that I’m passing anything down to my daughter. That’s depressing.

So, I’m happy to say, author Loucinda McGary (aka Aunty Cindy) has offered to teach me to knit during the RWA National Conference next week. I’m not sure how much I can learn in such a short time, but I’m willing to be a diligent student and practice to become better once I come home.

How about you? Are you a Domestic Goddess? Can you make a Halloween costume with one days notice and with one hand tied behind your back? And did you learn all your domestic skills from the women who came before you? Or did you figure it out on your own? And please tell me someone out there is just like me and couldn’t bake a soufflé if their life depended on it?

25 thoughts on “Domestically Challenged”

  1. Elyssa Papa says:

    Terri, knitting is actually easy. If I can knit, you can! Although the only thing I really do know how to knit are scarves. But it’s the easiest pattern! LOL

    Knitting is great when you need to take your mind off of something, and it relieves anxious nerves for some reason.

  2. J.K. Coi says:

    Domestic…not a word used to describe me, no. Since I don’t knit, don’t sew, don’t cook, try my hardest not to clean, don’t iron, refuse to garden…

  3. terrio says:

    Ely – you’ve given me a great idea. Everyone in my family will be getting scarves for Christmas. I actually had one I loved that a friend’s mother made me. But the kiddo lost it. Dang it. It was so warm.

    J.K. – It does make you wonder. LOL! You must keep the hubby happy in other areas. 😉

  4. skirbo says:

    I am *so* not domestic I make all other non-domestic women look like Martha Stewart in comparison.

    Have a great time at Nationals!


  5. JK, I have basically stopped cooking, grocery shopping, etc. I wonder why John doesn’t throw me out on my fat @ss.

    Terri, my mom designed and sewed dresses for a living. I can’t sew a seam (well, I can, but I hate to sew). She did pass on her love of sketching and art to me though. She did not teach me to cook either because we had a tricky gas stove she swore was going to blow up any day. So I taught myself to cook, and was pretty good until John started watching the Food Channel and messed up my kitchen. I am domestic to the extent that I set a pretty table and have ‘tastefully’ decorated my house, but you cannot eat off the floor. Speaking of which, sadie is coming tomorrow so I’ve got to vacuum…

  6. terrio says:

    Sarah – perhaps we were men in our former lives. LOL!

    Maggie – you wear pearls and the twin-set remember? You’re totally domesticated. I wouldn’t know how to throw a dinner party if my life depended on it. Are you still taking orders for clones of Mr. R.?

  7. J.K. Coi says:

    Oh, see there. That’s my thing. I love throwing parties! Is that domestic?

  8. terrio says:

    Well, I consider throwing a party and throwing a dinner party two different things. A party – “we have beer and chips and tunes whoohoo!” I can do. A dinner party – “we have a theme and center pieces and everyone sits down for a three (or more) course meal with wine” I can’t do. The dinner party I’d call domestic.

  9. Quantum says:

    Y’all sound like terrible wife material except Elly. I bet she can cook as well!

    JK, you sound exactly like my wife except than she can’t write novels to redeem herself!

    Actually its all rather nice as my basic cooking efforts get praised to the sky and my scrawny home grown tomatoes are swooned over.

    I also expect a reward in heaven ….angelic smile? 😀

  10. Quantum says:

    Ooops! I forgot that smilies don’t smile here.

    On another site I answered the question: Give three qualities a man wants in a woman… be funny!

    1) A radiant smile that could launch a thousand ships…. but not quite outshine me.

    2) Waspish wit and intelligence to prick my bubble and make me smile if I get too serious.

    3) Passionate and sexy as hell….when not in the public view.

  11. Stephanie J says:

    The Domestically Challenged unite! 🙂 I think you’ll enjoy knitting! I once took it up as a way to bond with my great grandma. I think I’d still remember a few steps but it’s been a long time since I knitted.

    You all give me hope that a man might still marry me even if I disclose my domestic inabilities up front! 😉

  12. terrio says:

    Steph – don’t take any hope from me, I’m single. LOL!

    Q – I was about to compliment you on being a man who cooks but then I read your next comment. I’m not sure how I feel about that angel during the day, devil at night thing. I mean, it sort of fits me (though not sexy as hell) but it still seems unfair somehow. We’d never ask a guy to hide his masculinity or sex appeal in the public view.

  13. MsHellion says:

    I can’t knit. But I *can* crochet. (I crocheted about three or four Harry Potter scarves one year for Halloween.)

    Not a good gardener. I loathe being hot or getting too grubby. (Mud’s okay, but dirt is so gritty.) And everything I touch dies.

    I can cook. And I think people who say they can’t read a recipe out of a cookbook and make it is LYING. It doesn’t take rocket science to measure some normal ingredients and cook it in a pan. And you don’t always have to follow the directions precisely for cooking to turn out. (Baking is a different beast; you have to measure precisely and not leave out stuff.)

    And I’m not feeling sorry about you about the sewing. I had one semester of home economics, about 3 weeks of which we “sewed” a duffle bag. It was the UGLIEST, most pathetic bag you ever saw (it had a zipper–what a joke!)–and we didn’t even deal with patterns because you cut out the pre-pattern and stitched it together. That was the extent of all my sewing experience right there. My mom did the sewing. Then the year mom died, I decided I wanted to make a Halloween costume: a Scottish wench, but I had to make it from a pattern…and I even had to make up my own corset (because back then they didn’t have corset patterns…now you can trip over the damned things). It was a slightly better effort than the duffle bag, but not by much…and it’s taken me about 10 years of Halloween costumes to truly appreciate patterns. There are ones I avoid (collars are horrible!)–and if I can get out of inserting zippers, I will. Anyway…you can sew. You just don’t do it.

  14. terrio says:

    I could learn to sew, I didn’t say I couldn’t. I said she never bothered to teach me which is the annoying part. Because it would have been a nifty little skill to have and she is my mother. She’s *supposed* to teach me thing. LOL!

    And I’ve tried following recipes. I still destroy the food. I don’t know how I do it, I just do. I think the food knows I’m not going to like it. It’s sort of a mutual dislike of each other.

  15. MsHellion says:

    *LOL* I love Q’s comment. *LOL* Very fitting. And British: passionate, just don’t show it in public. *grins*

    I don’t do the smile…but I do laugh. And it’s distinctive…so a guy who loves me is going to have to put up with the laugh.

  16. terrio says:

    Oh, I totally forgot about the Brit aspect. Yes, makes more sense now.

    Nanny just shewed me out of the kitchen. She wasn’t the most patient woman. Could be quite mean, actually. Believe it was the Brit in her. LOL!

  17. You are not alone in the domestically challenged department! I can just barely boil Well, maybe not that bad, but it’s certainly not good*g*.

  18. terrio says:

    I’m starting to wonder if all this loss of domesticity means we’ve come a long way or we’ve gone backwards. LOL!

    Whatever happened to wanting to do it all? I’m thinking we can do it all but have figured out we don’t have to.

  19. J.K. Coi says:

    Oh, I’m busy enough as it is…if I had to do even more I’d pull my hair out!

  20. Quantum says:

    Hmm, perhaps I could rephrase that third quality.

    For a man in love, every fluid movement and every fleeting smile holds the promise of flowering passion.

    So No 3 should be ‘someone I could love’. Hows that?

    Terri, that British nanny explains a lot.
    Perhaps Hellion had one as well! *g*

  21. terrio says:

    That’s a nice revision, Q. And what having a Brit grandmummy explains is why I quick with a comeback and find Benny Hill quite funny. LOL!

  22. Diana says:

    I’m probably going to get shot, but….I sew (and I’ve been told I’m good), I cook (it’s super easy and fun), I scrapbook or make cards (whenever I have the time), I can do dinner parties, I love wine, and I love to clean too.

    This feels a bit like a mail-order bride ad.

    *scampers away*

  23. terrio says:

    Di – what we’ve determined here is that you and Q are going to make somebody fine wives one day. LOL!

    Embrace your domesticity! Someone has to make up for the rest of us.

  24. irisheyes says:

    I belong with the domestically challenged. My mom wasn’t the greatest homemaker. She could sew a button and put a meal on the table but nothing fancy.

    I think I could tackle all of those domestic tasks if any of them interested me, but they don’t. I think that’s probably the key. It never really bothered me until I had kids. I can’t teach them but I do encourage them to broaden their horizons.

    And I’m definitely more of the throw a “party” than a “dinner party” person, Ter!

  25. terrio says:

    Irish – I like this way of thinking. I can look at domesticity much the way I look at science and say it has no appeal for me so I should not feel guilty about not embracing it.

    Perfect! LOL!

    I’d come to your party. 🙂

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