Lenten #Fail

Lenten Fail

I didn’t even reach the middle of Lent before I bought a book. I told you it would be impossible and, what’s worse, it took me days to realize what I did.

The other day, when I was on the phone with my friend, Tristan, she asked me a question she asks me every few months: When are you going to do another Heloise Post? There is no such thing as a Heloise Post, but it’s what she calls posts I occasionally write that detail how to do something often useful, usually random. You know, because of Heloise? Don’t worry, I didn’t know who she was talking about, either. A few of my “Heloise Posts” include:


A Natural, Non-Toxic Way to Polish Silver (Without Breaking a Sweat). Feel free to pin the heck out of that post; it’s one of my favorite tricks.


A Natural, Non-Toxic Way to Polish Copper.

Brass Polish

A Non-Toxic Way to Polish Brass and Metal.

Apparently, I have a thing for cleaning metals?


How to Dust Under Furniture easily, if not happily.

Leave in Conditioner

All Natural, Tinted Leave-In Conditioner.

I’m sure there are more. I can’t forget the Sharpie Debacle of 2009, and this year I wrote a quick post on how to keep taper candles upright. Aside from that candle post, Tristan is right that I’ve kept my random trivia under wraps. I’ve been trying to tone down the nerd.

I used to think Tristan was the only who made the Heloise connection until one day another friend made the same comparison. I should have acted offended and then danced boldly around a pyre of housekeeping books, but it would have been a touch disingenuous since I own several–both traditional and natural living–and have checked out from the library dozens more.

I love them.

They’re, like, every day science books. The current ones are, for the most part, worthless. They are usually pretty pictures and basic information for the young adult just starting out. (e.g. No Season Premiere party is complete without a signature drink, so get creative! WWCD: What would Carson do?) I do like that they are gender neutral, but other than that they cater to fast society. There are a few exceptions. The Martha Stewart book is pretty good, as is Home Comforts, but those are the only ones I own that I haven’t returned. The best are vintage or no longer in print. If you stumble across a vintage housekeeping book at a thrift store or estate sale, especially from the depression or during a wartime period, thumb through it and see if you don’t learn something new.

You will learn something new. The question is, are you nerd enough to handle it?

  • Descale a tea pot by filling it with plain vinegar and letting it sit for at least 30 minutes. Everyone knows this one, but it’s still awesome and so satisfying. In fact, buy the largest bottle of vinegar you can find and keep it under your sink because vinegar solves almost every problem.
  • Use that small bit of leftover cooked rice in place of oatmeal or hominy in any baked goods recipe. (Found that one in a 1914 periodical on rice.)
  • If your pot of liquid is about to boil over, blow on the liquid as you lower the heat and/or move the pot to a cold burner. The liquid will drop by an inch or two–just enough to avoid a spill–but not forever so don’t act like you’re on a Sunday stroll.

Tristan’s comment reminded me that I wanted to look up some of Heloise’s books. I went on Etsy and found a few from the 60s. While I was chatting away about who knows what, I put three in my cart.

Then I paid for all three but still didn’t remember my Lenten promise.

On Saturday I received one of them and when I opened it up and admired the worn dust jacket, I still didn’t remember my Lenten promise.

Later that night, while everyone else was watching a movie, I snuggled into the sofa with my never-ending supply of post-its and a pencil, and I still didn’t remember my Lenten promise.

It wasn’t until I was out of the “Kitchen Savers” and into the “Take the Strain Out of Stain” that I remembered I wasn’t supposed to buy, rent, borrow, or read anything outside my unread library. Oh, the shame. And not just because I broke my Lenten promise–though that’s a big deal.

I mean, really! Of all the books I’ve drooled over these 10 days, I trip up on a book about home economics. I remember my promise when faced with award winning fiction, new releases, compelling histories, touching memoirs, interesting books on religion, diet, and politics, but dangle a book in front of my nose that tells me how to eliminate the sticky white ring you get at the top of a pot after boiling potatoes, and I’m throwing money at my computer like it’s Magic Mike. It’s embarrassing.

You add a scant tablespoon of bacon grease or oil to the water you will use to boil the potatoes, in case you were wondering.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Jeen-Marie says

    This is such perfect timing of a post, ever.
    I was thinking the other day, ‘I bet Jules knows how to get a stubborn blueberry stain outta little man’s foxy sweater…’!
    Thanks for sharing your resources.
    Good luck on your Lenten quest. Isn’t interesting when the Lenten trips happen? It always surprises me, my reaction and the circumstances of which happens.
    Now back to that blueberry juice-

    • says

      I’ve read that you can stretch the material over a bowl and pour boiling water through the stain, but I’m not sure if that’s for a fresh stain. Everything else I have read involves bleach and peroxide, but I can do some research if you like.

      [Pushes glasses up nose.]

      • Jeen-Marie says

        Ha- I did it!
        Went online and read about fresh lemon juice directly on the stain. I damped the sweater with water and stretched over a glass (thanks for that idea). Saturated sweater with fresh juice 3-4x, rinsed and air-dried. Spot treated with Back-out, washed and VIOLA!
        No more spot!
        Thanks again for the inspiration.

  2. Missie says

    I put museum wax on my hardware store list right after your candle post! Keep the Heloise posts coming. So you’re obviously going to return those books, right? :)

    • says

      Um, no. All sales final! πŸ˜‰

      I put the first book back on the shelf once I figured out what I did. I only took it down for the picture. I received the other two yesterday, and they are still in the packaging–where they shall remain–until Easter.

  3. Susan G says

    I am old enough to remember Heloise, and only here will I admit that as a teenager actually liked reading her hints better than Dear Abby. :) Clearly I am no expert on Lent, but isn’t Heloise more a household tool than a book?

    And I’m SO relieved to know what to do when I’m out of hominy!!!

    • says

      If I had known about Heloise (and I’m old enough to have read her column) I promise you I would have lapped it up like a cat in cream.

      So true about the hominy! Just the other day I was gong to make a double batch of my famous Hominy Chocolate Chip cookies with Raisins but was out of the star ingredient. Had I been thinking, I would have used our Chinese food leftovers.

  4. georgia says

    That’s the whole point about Lenten goals. How clever we try to be and make the target achievable, how our mind plays tricks and we fall, just out of the blue…
    I hope you resume with your Lenten promise. Will you? I hope so…
    Our (eastern Orthodox) Lent is coming up soon and I too have a promise in mind.
    It’s nice to feel that other people fight their battles too. Thanks for sharing :)

    God Bless!

    p.s. Lenten promises aside, this book sounds like a hoot!! I am not the most diligent housewife, but I am a nerd πŸ˜‰
    I’d love reading your picks, or from any home economics type of books.

    • says

      Oh, I’m not giving up! The book went back on the shelf and the other two were delivered yesterday. They’ll stay in the packaging until Easter. :)

      I’m not that diligent of a housewife, either, but my ability to retain facts knows no bounds.

  5. says

    No need to tone down the nerd – I love those posts!! Even if it’s unlikely I will actually use any of the suggestions since my domestic-ness is a little iffy these days, I love to read about the simply awesome things you can do with just a bottle of vinegar. Vinegar! And just home keeping stuff in general. Love it. And your line about throwing money at the computer?! Well that just pure writing gold! :)

      • says

        Oh my gosh – Showgirls! Now that was super awful and so scandalous (at the time). I’ve yet to see Magic Mike, but I will someday. It sounds like a super-guilty pleasure to be enjoyed alone with yummy treats and cozy blankets (also useful to hide my face in embarrassment for the actors – am I the only one who does this)? Please say no!

  6. says

    It’s okay that you fell off the wagon – look on the bright side, at least you’re not having to tell us you broke your lenten promise over a trashy romance novel. Hopefully the books you bought will be of some use to you for years to come. You’ve already made my day with the tip on how to keep that potato ring from forming on my pots!

  7. says

    Well, you’re shameful tale was just in time to knock me out of my own self-imposed misery at failing part of my February commitments (the tone is so much stronger than the reality). Doing a ‘buy nothing month’…with the exception of groceries, bus tickets, and gas for the car (for husband’s work, not mine). My parents were in town, and asked me to meet them at this huge shopping mall (which is not my favourite already), I asked if we could meet elsewhere, but they insisted, and of I went, with the kids. My grocery money went towards new bathing suits for the kids. Trying to justify it, but it is annoying to have failed. On the other hand, the TV has not gone on once this month, walked every day this year, have cooked and baked everything from scratch (even my own cheese!), concentrated really hard at finishing projects at work. So far, I guess the project is about 83.33% successful (using the trusty 10 points for each project).
    Think your brass cleaning project is what brought me here…still using it. Love the house keeping hints, have a few old books of my own, and reference them often (like using milk to seal a crack in bone china).
    Good luck for the rest of Lent :)

    • says

      The famous no-buy February month! I know a few bloggers who have attempted it, but I was never brave enough. I doubt very much I could do it. I can’t be too upset about the book–like you, I’ve walked every day since January, and I never thought I would do that.

      p.s. Nice use of statistics.

  8. says

    My mother worked and wasn’t much into any kind of homemaking (I grew up on frozen dinners), so I read the “Heloise” columns in my grandma’s “Good Housekeepings” like missives from some foreign planet. SO fascinating to imagine…a mom who does and/or cares about such things?!

    Great cover on the book — I’d have bought it, too!

  9. says

    I am feeling so crummy today, and this post made me smile. (Laughing not exactly possible right now. Week 7–or is it 8?–of weekly multi-day migraines.) Thank you. Truly. I loved reading Heloise’s column when I was a kid. Yes, I was that nerdy. I also loved Erma Bombeck and Dear Abby. I was a 40something in an 8-year-old body. It is good to know that I’m not alone. For what it’s worth, I would totally black out a Lenten promise that involved deprivation from books, too. As a boyfriend once told me, the great thing about being Catholic is that as long as you’re truly sorry afterward, you can pretty much do anything and it’s OK. :-) (And no, that line did NOT convince me to do what he wanted!)

  10. jasi says

    bamboo chopstick across the top of pots keeps them from boiling over too. i love those little weird tips but they’re allll over pinterest. i like your posts about either things you’ve done around the home, your opinion, your children’s best quotes. =D

    • says

      I’ve heard of that! And you are right–those tips are all over Pinterest, but I’ve found some of them are bogus and just plain weird. Not that putting rice in cookies screams normal.

  11. says

    Sinner! Oh, it’s okay, just do a little penance and all will be forgiven + right with the world. Isn’t cleanliness akin to Godliness anyway? I do hope you indulge my lust for this topic more, and yes, it does look like you have a predilection for cleaning metal. go figure?

  12. says

    I don’t know what I am enjoying more, the post or the comments!!! As a DRE at a Catholic Church who just had 65 kids make their First Reconciliation tonight, it is a great thing to know that we are not perfect and God going to love us anyways. I can say this because I stood before them all and FORGOT THE ACT OF CONTRITION.

  13. says

    Although we never actually had the pleasure of being allowed to practice this as children, I’ve since heard other credible Catholics put their Lenten promises on the back burner every Sunday. They say because it’s 40 days only after you subtract the Sundays, that’s the day you get to eat cake (or buy books, whichever the case may be.) My mother calls it heresy and I have yet to actually do the math, but I thought it might make you feel a little better. Did your family suspend Lent on Sundays?

  14. HeatherL says

    I didn’t realize there were people who didn’t know who Heloise was! Her daughter currently writes for Good Housekeeping & it is my favorite part. You can read the tips online too. My other favorite cleaning tips are from Melissa Maker of Clean My Space. She tries out the various tips that can be found across the internet and does videos about the ones that work.
    I only started reading your blog last year, so I missed some of your earlier “Heloise” posts. Thanks for the links!

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