How to be a domestic goddess! Or at least pretend to be one.

by Harriet Saunders 
from the novel The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything by 

Francine Lasala 

*Author’s Note:
Helpful Hints
Harriet Saunders is a supporting character from
my second novel,
The Girl, the Gold Tooth
& Everything. As one of my main character Mina’s only friends, harried
Harriet helps ground Mina in her life–in fun and irreverent ways! The character
herself is a cocktail / composite of all the frazzled mothers I have known,
myself included. In this “Anything Goes” post, I imagined someone had asked
Harriet to write a home-making column, sharing some of her best tips for
domestic bliss. Please leave me comment sharing one of your most incredible
household hints, helpful or horrid. I’d love to hear them. Enjoy!

is the new black.

Who says that? I say that! In this day and age,
it’s much more important to over-parent your kids. To get down on that filthy
floor and play with them rather than clean it. Of course there does get to be a
point when cleaning is necessary. In that case…

clean your house in full.
Straightening up is really all you ever have to
do, most of the time. Just let the neighbors’ kids leave their shoes on when
they come over so you don’t have to explain to their parents why their
once-white socks are as black as your soul. (If you don’t care about their
stupid parents and what they think, by all means have those kids run around in
their socks and pick up some of the dirt and grime while they’re at it. Mop,
schmop. Am I right?!)

If you
must scrub, don’t wimp out on the chemicals.
Especially if you clean as infrequently as I do.
As well-meaning as vinegar and baking soda are, they’re just not going to cut
it on a toilet bowl ring that’s had months to set in. No. You’re going to have
to go with the strongest cleaning chemicals you can legally buy. If they burn
your skin and your throat when you breathe them in, you’re doing it right.

If you
want your husband to help you clean, clean naked.
You know you can get your husband to do whatever
you want him to as long as you ask him when you’re naked. Also, cleaning naked
means no bleach stains or other crap on your clothes, which is kind of a plus
because god knows, if you’re hanging around your house with your kids all day,
your clothes are crappy enough as they are.

have rugs.
Why? Listen to these words. See these words in your carpets. Play-Dough. Mashed potatoes. Rice.
Grape juice. What else do you need to know?

“all-socks” loads of laundry.
This one may seem practical, smart even, but I
have to be honest with you, it’s just plain lazy. The whole thing about where
do the socks disappear to… It’s no great mystery, folks. They get tangled up
in your other clothes. Speaking of socks, instead of going through the torture
of sorting and balling them up, when they come out of the dryer just pile them
into a giant tub you set in the hallway and let everyone fend for themselves.
It’s great fun! Especially in the morning.

Fact: I haven’t been able to keep even a single
article of clothing unstained since I got married. If I went to task to remove
all the stains in my clothes, there would be no time for drinking. So what’s my
solution? I don’t bother–and neither should you. Look, any mother who walks
around in fresh, crisp, immaculate clothing is just doing a disservice to every
other mother out there. If there’s a stain on your shirt, wear a dramatic scarf
or necklace to divert attention. (Unless the stain is by your neck. Then I
guess you’re probably screwed.)

see… Let’s see. Oh yeah. Sewing!
Is never worth it. Never.

Dogs make
excellent vacuum cleaners.
Or so I am told. Sammy, my husband, won’t give
in to a dog right now. As if he’s the one who’s going to take care of it! A dog
is a great investment–and cheap if you’re smart about it. If you have enough
kids under the age of eight in your house, throwing and dropping food all over
the place, you won’t even need to buy dog food. Think about it.

Have an
even number of kids.
I don’t know why more people don’t know this,
honestly. When you have an odd number, someone’s always left out, and you can
bet that little bugger’s going to be up your butt looking for a bud. Give the
kid a bud. (Then go grab yourself a Bud or a bottle of gin or whatever’s going
to get you through having all those kids.)

dinners that seem like more effort than they are.
I’ve learned you can make pretty good things with
practically no involvement on your part, and also make the people who live with
you think they’re getting something special while you’re at it. (Be careful of
cooking too well, however. You don’t want them to expect it.) Here’s a recipe:

With Meat
(I suppose
you could say “bolognese” if you’re feeling fancy, but that seems like a lot of
trouble to me. And I’m sure more goes into bolognese, but I don’t really care.)

Olive oil
A sweet onion, roughly chopped (some people call
this “country-style” but let’s be honest
that it’s “lazy-style”, okay?)
Some garlic (I’m not going to tell you how much,
that’s between you and your spouse)
A splash of wine, red or white (you know,
whatever’s open)*
A can of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
A package of ground beef
A box of pasta

1.  Toss into a pot: olive oil, onion, and garlic. When it all gets nice
and soft and hot, splash in wine, then pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt
and pepper. Simmer.
2.  Cook pasta in boiling water for however long it says on the box. (If
you made the pasta fresh by hand, you’re not doing this right.)
3.  Brown meat in a frying pan. Don’t drain it. (Blah, blah, blah
health. But who cares. It’s better this way.)
4.  Now: The sauce goes in to the meat; they both go over the pasta. And
you’re done.

Did you just make special “homemade” tomato
sauce? You bet you did, you clever thing! Now pat yourself on the back, pour
yourself a drink, and go catch up on The
Real Housewives of Whatever

* Please
note: Dry vermouth is very cheap and not that tasty. And if you, like me,
prefer to save every last drop of your wine for drinking, I say buy a giant
bottle of dry vermouth, keep it for cooking, and be done with it. (If you do
ever run out of wine or vodka, you can probably tolerate some vermouth over ice.
I’ve suffered it. I didn’t die. Drop a couple of olives in there and it will
almost kill the taste. And remember, it’s cheap! So why not?)
Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter  

The Girl, the Gold Tooth &  Everything
Barns & Noble
A fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire filled with quirky characters and unforgettable moments of humanity! 

Mina Clark is losing her mind-or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year-old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake-a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. 

When a trip to the dentist leaves Mina with a new gold crown, her whole life changes. Slowly her memory and her mojo return. But when everything begins to crash down around her, she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, of if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she can trust is the one she fears the most. What’s it all going to cost her in the end?

Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres (fiction and nonfiction) through her company, Francine LaSala Productions. The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, and four feature-length screenplays, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York. Contact her:

6 thoughts on “How to be a domestic goddess! Or at least pretend to be one.

  1. Love it!! I'm so stoked to get more from Harriet – I thought she was SUCH a fun character. And her household tips are priceless. Had a big, goofy grin the whole time I was reading.

    For my tip, I might just expand on one of yours if that's okay. Cats can sometimes be good vacuum cleaners too. A few years back, I left my cat, Priscilla, with my sister for a few weeks while I was traveling. I found out later that she had kept Priscilla shut in the bathroom because she wasn't getting along with the other cats. (Yeah, I'm still pissed about that.) Anyway, Priscilla was a very messy eater, so twice a day, my sister would open the door and let her cat, Bugsy, in to eat all the kibble crumbs around Priscilla's food bowl. 🙂


  2. ROTFLMAO I love Harriet! Her household cleaning tips are spot on (or off since she doesn't like to remove stains.) I think my favorite is – use your dog as a vacuum cleaner. I do this all the time when I'm in the kitchen with my dogs, “Simon, look, I dropped a potato chip/piece of chicken/broccoli floret! Clean that up for me!” 🙂

    Francine, you are brilliant for coming up with all these tips. I have one to add to Harriet's list – Think of your closets and drawers as garbage dumps. It makes straightening up for guests really easy. Just pick up anything that's littering your floors or furniture, toss it in a closet or drawer, shut the door/drawer, and voila, your house looks clean without you actually having to do any cleaning. Out of sight, out of mind, I always say.


Anything you want to say about this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.