Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Phony Housekeeper in 13 Steps

Back in the day, one of my favorite “cheat” cookbooks (as opposed to the real deal like Julia Child) was The Phony Gourmet by Pam Young and Peggy Jones (still available at http://amzn.to/142Nx0Y ) Their sassy, familiar tone filled with family dynamics made the book fun to read, and the food was pretty darn good, too.

The philosophy was that you could fool people into thinking that you were a better cook than you were and/or that you spent days preparing the repast when in fact you whipped it up in minutes.

What’s not to like, right?

One morning in water aerobics, some of the ladies were talking about household cleaning cheats. It sounded like a topic many of us could relate to: The Phony Housekeeper.

In my culinary mysteries series (Mission Impastable out this summer from Oak Tree Press), Gina is the compulsive one who cleans just because; Maria cleans out of habit; but Alli isn’t so drawn to the domestic duties of cleaning. Oh, she doesn’t kick piles of clothes out of the way--well, not often--but she sees little need to dust something because it will just get dusty again. Same with her bed--in only a few hours it will be messed up again, so why bother.

I kept a cartoon on my bulletin board for a long time:

         Clean and Hide--another example of when two different words
mean the same thing.

I think Alli would like these 13 “Phony Housekeeper” tips culled from my own and others’ experiences:

“I never put the vacuum cleaner in the closet. It stays by the front door. That way, if unexpected guests drop in, I say, ‘I was just getting ready to clean’.”

“If I have company coming that includes tall people, I clean the top of the refrigerator, otherwise, leave it. Nobody will know.”

“I’ve been known to put all kinds of stuff in the oven and dishwasher to stash them until after company leaves. But don’t forget them and run the appliance. I’ve lost some good magazines that way.”

“I keep a can of furniture polish and a rag on a table in the living room. If somebody comes to the door, I tell them they interrupted my cleaning.”

“If the house looks tidy, it doesn’t have to be clean. People assume it is.”

“I throw stuff in the shower and pull the curtain. Voila! Instant clean.”

“I spot clean the floor rather than mopping the whole thing. I look for spots and wipe them with a wet paper towel.”

“Have you ever stuffed clothes that need folding  under chair cushions. It works if you only have a few pieces and somebody shows up at your door. Once I looked for a blouse for three weeks before I remembered where it was.”

“I blow dust off surfaces on my way to answer the door.”

“I answer the door with a cleaning rag and bucket in my hand so it looks like I was interrupted.”

“I keep a little spray bottle of Mr. Clean behind a shelf door. I spray each room with it and it smells like I just finished cleaning.”

“I have a pretty basket in the living room. When the doorbell rings, I throw big stuff, like toys, into it and cover them with magazines.”

“I never apologize for how the house looks. I ignore the dirt and clutter, and then my guests must, too.”

What are your Phony Housekeeper Tips? Or, are you afraid to share them so we all know?


  1. I love your attitude, but another way to cope with this is to not invite people over! Then you don't have to even attempt to clean up! Hahahha!

    1. Duh! Of course, Janet! How could I forget that one? That would be the ultimate Phony Housekeeper strategy! Move that one to the top of the list! Thanks for stopping in.