Work in progress

15 November 2007

This is the quark I made from my yoghurt last week. It drained for four days before I could get back to it, but that's fine as long as it's kept refrigerated. The cheese on the left is savory with cucumber, red capsicum (red pepper), green onion and salt and pepper. It's great on crackers or a sandwich. The one on the right is sweet with honey stirred through it. It's delicious on toast for breakfast. I also collected a small jug of whey that I'll use to make a cake and pikelets (flapjacks).

Housework never ends! You could work half the day just doing what needs to be done in your home, or you could work to a schedule and have your chores organised for the days during the week, but even if you stuck rigidly to your schedule, you'd still have to do it all again tomorrow or next week. Because housework never ends.

I used to struggle with this. I had real trouble coming to terms with the endless nature of it. How could you ever want to do any chore, and get joy from it, when it would never end? No matter how well I did what I had to do, there would always be something else to do tomorrow - or I would have to do the same thing, over and over again.

When I first starting living simply, this was the one thing that didn't just fall into place for me. If I wanted to live well, get joy from the simple things that made up my day and provide a good home for my family and myself, then I had to look at my chores in a different way. I am one of those women who, although I've worked outside the home most of my life, when I became a full time homemaker/housewife, I wore that badge with pride and wanted to live up to the true and full meaning of the name.

So I started thinking about the never-ending nature of housework, as that was the bit that bothered me the most. I didn't have a problem with most of the chores themselves. One of the things Hanno impressed me with early on in our relationship was his attitude of "It has to be done, I'll just do it." So I started with that and I just did what had to be done. I made sure I didn't do all the things I liked doing on the same day, and sprinkled them throughout the week so there were always days I did chores I liked doing - like cooking, baking, gardening and mending with things I didn't like so much - like cleaning toilets, ironing and vacuuming. That worked! But no matter how many times I packed the dishwasher or cleaned the shower, or how well I did it, it still had to be done the next day or next week. Hmmmmm.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. If housework never ends then I should get rid of that feeling that if I clean the fridge out or mop the floor, then that's done. Over with. Finished. Completed. All fixed. If housework never ends, then I never have to finish it. Eureka!

When I stopped thinking that I'd work through my chores, get everything finished and then they'd get messed up again so I'd have to start over again, and replaced it with I'll do the ironing, mopping, washing up, make the beds and bake today and if I don't have time for the mopping, I'll do that tomorrow, that made a difference. I continued working with chores I liked, mixed with those I didn't like so much, and that worked well for me. I also changed things to better suit the way I worked. I stopped vacuuming so much and started sweeping. I liked sweeping, so I could still keep the floors clean without the vacuum cleaner. Now I vacuum once a week and sweep the rest of the time. I stopped using the dishwasher and started washing up by hand, and found I really liked it. I stopped ironing everything we wore and now just iron my work clothes and the napkins, tablecloths and pillow slips that I like ironed. I stopped washing everything that had been used once and now only wash what is dirty or smelly - this helped reduce my washing to two or three loads a week. That made a big difference to the amount of housework I did and also cut back on our power and water usage. A big plus.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to live in a clean and comfortable home that you can enjoy with your family and friends, then housework is a part of your life. If it's inevitable then you should try to make the most of it. You might end up liking most of it, like I do. Rethink how you work. Just because you've always done something one way, it doesn't mean it has to be like that forever. If you can modify something to better suit how you work, do it. Streamline your tasks and don't aim for perfection. Take breaks. Do everything you do well and find the pleasure in it - it will be there lurking, you just have to find it. Be proud of what you achieve every day because you are providing a comfortable home for your family, you are making the most of the resources you have and looking after what you own. That is a good thing. And most of all, stop thinking that you'll never get through it all. Housework never ends, so don't try to finish it.


  1. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I like the new picture of you! Another great post! It gets you thinking. Thanks!


  2. Hi Rhonda,
    I hope you are well. I was wondering if you think quark could be made from soy yogurt? Do you have instructions how to do this? Thank you kindly.

  3. "Housework never ends, so don't try to finish it."

    Wow. That statement is just what I need to convince my son.

    Thank you.

    1. What a liberating statement! Sort of eliminates that frustrating feeling at the end of the day when you haven't completed a "to-do" list. I think this one statement has totally changed my thinking about house work and home keeping.

  4. Hello Rhonda, Thank you so much for your daily post. Great new picture. Red is a great color on you. I hope your doing well. I was sorry to hear about the negative post awhile back and want you to know that I have thought of you often and I hope that your beautiful spirit was not crushed. Thank you for creating "Down to Earth" and sharing with us your wisdom and inspiration.

  5. Hi Coleen, thank you.

    Hi Lyn, I've never made soy yoghurt but I don't think there'd be a problem making it into quark as long as it is a firm yoghurt. Why don't you make a small amount and see what it's like. And let us know what happens. : )

    I hope it works, Mary. ; )

    Hello Barbara, thanks for saying hello and for your kind words. I'm fine and happy and looking forward to each new day. I hope you are too. Take care.

  6. Hi,
    I Like your new pic. you look Beautiful in red.
    Another great post.
    Have a great week.

  7. Two or three loads of washing a week sounds like total bliss. I battle with 10-15 loads per week and 10 of ironing.

  8. I love the new picture. You look smashing! :)

    Thanks for the great post!

    Maria S.

  9. Another wonderful post Rhonda!! Love the new picture! Red is your color girl!!!!!!!

  10. Love the new picture!

    By the way... ever heard of "Skyr" (pronounced "skeer")? It's made in Iceland and is very much like you have made here. It has rennet in it which classifies it as a type of cheese ~ though it is a very thick and clean tasting yogurt. It is made with skim milk, so it is low fat. It is also very high in nutrition. AWESOME stuff. You eat it plain in a bowl with a little half cream-half milk (there's some fat for ya)with a little sugar sprinkled on top.

    If you ever see it sold anywhere, TRY IT! I know you'll love it.

    Take care,

  11. I love the ideas of "Housework never ends, so don't try to finish it." I think it will be my new motto.

  12. Hey, Rhonda! Just wanted to comment and agree with everyone else by saying that your new picture is smashing :)

    I was just pondering yesterday about never-ending housework. Sometimes I'm okay with it, and other days it really gives me grief. Especially with a 3-year-old running right behind me, undoing my cleaning in 5 seconds! ;)

  13. Hi Rhonda Jean :) What a wonderful way to look at cleaning! A "continual work in progress" kind of thinking is a positive approach at the get-go.

    By the way, the new picture is wonderful! You look just lovely :) and Lib is right about the red. Love, Q

  14. Thank you all for the compliments. I think everyone looks good in red. : )

    Heather, I've never heard of Skyr but I'll look out for it.

  15. Nice pic Rhonda! I love your housework philosopy and I think I might kind of do this already. I do what I can each day and I know it will always be there for me tomorrow. Today I did laundry and more baking :)

  16. Love your new picture! I really struggle with housework, I don't mind dusting and vacuuming, but I HATE cleaning bathrooms and the kitchen!!!! And, of course, the ironing!! I am going to take your advice, and start mixing the unlikeable chores with ones I like, perhaps get the miserable ones out of the way first then "reward" myself with some time in the garden, or some baking.

  17. At the moment I tend to only do the housework that I can do one-handed (the baby always wants to be in the other arm) or that is absolutely necessary (when he's asleep). Then I discovered that if I thought about doing things one-handed as a distraction for a cranky baby, rather than a chore being done slowly and inefficiently, it didn't bother me if it took all day to get the dishes back in the cupboard.

  18. Hi Rhonda,

    How do you use the whey from making the cream cheese? I have some left too and don't really know what to do with it. Thanks.
    I was wondering if you could do a post about how changing your lifestyle has influenced (or not) your health. Thank you.


  19. Hi Rhonda;
    Every morning once the kids and hubby are off, I sit with my coffee and read your blog. Your words are just what I need to get my day going, they are like a big hug from a good friend. Housework is never ending and you are so right when you said to mix the chores you hate with the chores you like. I really hate ironing and so today I will watch some TV, perhaps a cooking show and iron. You never know I just might be able to tackle that huge amount! Have a great day!


  20. Okay, I have to admit, I read your blog daily. And your posts on cleanliness and houswork always make me more than a little envious. So, tell me...was your house this wonderfully clean and organized when your boys were toddlers? Because for me, I cannot pull it all off on a daily basis. Or even weekly for that matter.

  21. Rhonda,

    You look stunning in red.

    Another great bit of advice. Thank you.

    By the way, my son started his own change jar. Another great bit of advice from your financial posts. He has only been working a few months, but he saves 40% of his money, pays tithe, a smidgen of rent (to his father and I), his own gas, his own health insurance, truck insurance, and life insurance.

  22. What a great post!
    I had fallen into that trap...
    Now I know that I will never be finished and just try and enjoy it!
    Have a wonderful day!

  23. Good morning Rhonda,
    Love the new photo, Its so Christmasy (if that is a word) lol. You have a great idea on how we should think about our work. I like it! Thanks so much Pam Watts

  24. Rhonda, as a perfectionst and completed projects lover, I struggled with the same thing. Now I don't pull out my chores list anymore, looking at it and saying, "OK, this needs to be done". Rather, I just do everything as part of the peaceful rhythm of a day. And I love it.

  25. Hi Maria, I'm using the whey in a banana loaf cake. You could use it in any cake or muffin recipe, or even for pancakes. Just substitute the whey for the milk you would have used. Regarding my health, I've been very lucky in that I'm generally pretty healthy, and have been most of my life. I think that's more to do with my parents than my lifestyle. I guess the difference I have noticed is an improvement in mental health. I'm not cranky anymore, I take disappointment on the chin and I don't worry about anything. I think that is due to a more relaxed lifestyle and the feeling that now I really own my life.

    angie, when my boys were little my house was bedlam! LOL I'm a morning person so I'd always get up early to do various things before they were awake. One of the things I always did was pick up toys and clothes and I would try to do as much as I could before they woke.

    Kate, just do what you can, love. Don't stress over what isn't done. In ten years time you won't remember that you didn't vacuum the floor or wash the dishes, but you will know if you've made each day count with your children. It sounds like you've got the right attitude.

    Happy ironing Alexia!

    Excellent Kim. Those good habits will pave an easier road for him.

  26. RJ, how on earth do you eat so much of the quark with just the two of you? Do you use it as the main protein part of a meal, or is it just something to smear on a cracker? And is the whey used as a milk replacement in those recipes?

  27. For me, one of the great pleasures of housework is that it requires very little mental effort; this means that it is time that you can use for 'thinking' in a way that is not possible so much of the time. And there's that curious reward that comes from willingly doing a job that has no end, all too often unappreciated and taken for granted.

    Housework is an invaluable contribution to your family life, and to me, it is good for the soul too.


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