Thursday, March 12, 2009

12 March 1955 "TV, Steak and Kidney Pie, and My Rant"

Tonight on NBC would premier :A Connecticut Yankee with the Cast: Eddie Albert, Janet Blair, Boris Karloff, Gale Sherwood



It is coming next year! planned obsolescence is beginning. Why stand up to change the channel? Why have such a small screen? Why have such a bulky screen? and it goes on.


Last night I made Steak and Kidney pie. I was excited the last time I visited my grocery store to see that they offered for the day, both liver and kidneys. I snatched them up. As mentioned before, my husband did not like the liver as a large piece, as I had cooked it (though I thought it was quite beautiful tasting) but said today, that he would eat liver again, but wanted to try it cooked the other way I had mentioned it, that is in strips, pan fried.

He did like the Steak and Kidney pid and I loved it as well. Here it is before it went into the oven, the crust construction was not my best piece of artwork, but I actually wanted to keep it rather 'rustic' looking. Next time (and believe me there will be a next time!) I may add some decorative pastry leaves etc. The crust looks odd in the photo, but it turned out golden brown and flaky.



Here is it served Hot for dinner.


And here it is today for lunch. I think it was actually better the next day. The flavors really had a chance to marry and it solidified nicely. Hubby had today off, which is unsual for him, so we partook of this today and it was really wonderful. I would highly reccomend it. Even if you think it sounds odd, it is worth a try. The steak is merely inexpensive stewing beef and Kidney is not dear, I think my one pound package was around $2.00.


Here is a more american version of a meat pie. This is a great recipe advert from one of my magazines. Though I would probably not buy premade beef stew ( I would just make my homemade and put in the pastry), I am sure it is good. And I could not find in my store a package of this boxed pastry dough, but I have a wonderful recipe in one of my new favorite cook books : the 1951 edition of the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cook Book. It is my new bible. It is my endeavour to eventually try many of the recipes, as they are definitely of the 'gourmet' variety and what would have been considered so in the 1950s. There is a great recipe in there for a Pastry Mix which you can make ahead and store. It is as follows:


Pastry Mix

6 cups pasty flour or 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 cups vegetable shortening ( I would use Lard or you could use butter as well)
Sift flour with salt. Cut in shortening as for Plain Pastry. Store in covered jar in the icebox or cool cupboard.

For 2-crust pie use 2 1/2 cups of the mix and sprinkle 1/4 cup ice water overmix by tablespoonfuls, stirring it in with fork until just enough has been added so that you can pat the dough lightly together to form a ball. Handle as little as possible and do not knead! wrap in wax paper and chill. Then roll out as needed.

ENGLISH STEAK WITH KIDNEY PIE

1 lb. beef round steak
1 beef kidney
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. lard or drippings
1 med. sized onion, chopped
1/4 c. chopped pimento
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 c. water
Pastry for 1 crust pie

Cut round steak in 3/4 to 1 inch cubes. Remove tubes and fat from kidney and cut in 3/4 to 1 inch cubes. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge steak and kidney cubes in seasoned flour (reserving any extra flour) and brown in lard or drippings. Remove meat from frying pan. Add onion to drippings and cook over low heat until transparent. Pour off drippings, add pimento, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and water to onion in frying pan and bring to boil. Stir in browned meat cubes and any remaining seasoned flour. Invert 9 inch pie plate over pastry rolled to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut a circle about an inch from rim of plate for top crust. Cut a design in crust to allow steam to escape.

Cut a second circle about 3/4 to 1 inch from edge of top crust to provide pastry to circle edge of pie plate. Moisten edge of plate and top with outer circle of pastry, adjusting to fit. Turn meat mixture into pie plate and cover with top crust. Seal top pastry to edge and flute. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Makes 6 servings.


I was thinking today about my project. It was originally as a challange to myself, for the novelty, and to hopefully trick myself into some of the routine I felt was commonplace to a homemaker at the time. (Oh, and to have an excuse to wear a petticoat and hat and gloves!)

Obviously, I cannot live strictly to 1955. The fact that you are reading this typed on my computer is a blaring example. But, in 'giving up' some of the modern things, what I have come to realize is this is not about time-traveling but more about changing the future. The things I have forced myself to give up due to it being 1955 have come to show me the power those things weilded.

I never watched alot of tv, but I certainly watched my share of design shows. I loved BBC America, and shows like Project Runway. Yet, by not allowing myself to have these anymore( I mean they are not possible as there is no more tv per se in my home.) I can only watch 'tv' that is 1950s. I do occasionaly watch these shows, but there are days that go by where I have not even thought of entertainment on that level. And when I do watch a show I find myself very antsy. Where I once could happily sit with some tea and muchies through a Sunday afternoon of Changing Rooms and Project Runway marathons, now to get through an half hour episode of Father Knows Best is almost like work. And, on some level, I do consider it part of my 'job'. The watching of such shows is a sort of research.
If I can digress a little more here concerning such shows. I used to, along with my modern compatriots, make fun of such shows of the 1950s. I am, however, finding them to have a certain element of endearing truth. Such as family is important. Be honest. Think of others. Be considerate of your neighbors, friends, relations. Your actions have consequences.
I LOVE Father Knows Best, and before this project I had never seen an episode . So, for me, it is honestly a new show. It is funny, because I find their clothes more normal now, than when I look around me in public. I now notice, when I go shopping for example, how slovenly people dress. What would have been considered just casual clothes to me, now really have that 'work clothes' look to them. Now, not that you should judge a book by the cover, but then again somtimes you can. You certainly could be a serial killer and dress up clean and neat, or be a saint in rags. However, I think for the average masses, who are neither killer nor saint, really represent themselves in their clothing choices. AND I have found, surprisingly enough, by changing your outfit, you actually change your own self-image and emotional state. I know, because it has happened to me.
I have always felt I had a good amount of self-esteem. I thought I felt good about myself and confident in my place in the world, but when I slip on that girdle and hose, a simple skirt and cardigan, reach into my scarf drawer and tie some silk around my neck, I feel a sense of myself and place that is quite unique. Even my work clothes have a sense of style and grace that I enjoy that is merely taking a few more minutes to prepare myself. My highwaisted jeans with one of hubby's flannel shirts tied at the waist, a neck scarf and head scarf. Nice comfortable flats and I really looked pulled together and yet completely comfortable to work.

I think somewhere along the line (most likely the 70s) we began to think that 'nice clothes' were for 'special occasions'. Well, don't you want to feel special more often than weddings, funerals and holidays? Are your friends and family not worth your looking nice? What we now view as post-war propaganda to 'make over' a person into a mold, or make everyone conform, is in actuality just dressing to express your place in the world. You are worthy enough to be dressed nicely to go shopping. It is as if you are telling yourself, "Darn it, I am worth wearing that nice dress today. Why do I have to keep it for 'special occasions'?"
Even nice dishes and cutlery end up being relegated to 'special times'. My vintage friend used to use paper plates because it was 'easier'. She now finds herself glad to take out those dishes gathering dust in her closet to use everyday. It is better for the environment and saves money and certainly makes your day feel more structured and it is nice to look forward to dinner at a table with nice plates and conversation. It is as if we care more for the coporate sponsers we advertise to us, that we allow them to have our dinner and conversation time! I would much rather talk to my friends and family over dinner, than hear about some new soap product or rather or not Paris Hilton did or didn't do this or that!

I think what is really missing from our modern world, at least from my little bit of it, is structure. We, as a modern generation, feel so much freedom and so 'above' routine or necessity to 'look nice' or eat at a certain time with nice things, that we often find ourselves floundering around feeling as if we don't have any control. We have no time to do this or that or any time to spend with our friends and family. When really we just need more structure.
One of my best revelations so far (and don't laugh as I am sure many of you were already so organized) was this simple concept. MAKE A DAILY LIST.
Such a simple thing. Some words on paper. A matter of minutes with a pen and a pad, but my, how it has changed my life! The vast array of what I need to do and would like to do would loom before me, taunting my like some old halloween skeletons, jangling before me. All I needed to scare away those Bogies were a pen and a pad.
Each morning I think about what I need to do, with a schedul I have made for my week already, and what I would like to do (depending on the weather for example as Spring is upon us.) I make that list at my little desk with my cup of coffee and I feel like the 'homemaking executive'. There it is. In black and white. Sometimes seeing things written affect us on some level, maybe all those handouts we had to do at grammer school. And, by the end of the day, if most of that list is checked off, I feel so good. It is a challange and a guide. If they could bottle that feeling you get when you walk up to your list and slide your pen through that item done and put it in an energy drink, they'd sell gallons of it!

This idea of lists and organizing has really got me thinking how the modern world does not really, on a personal level, reward such behavior. It is expected at work. You do your work and get it done or you don't get paid. Then when you are off work you relax. Somehow it feels as if your work is more important to you than your own free time. Aren't YOU worth a list of things to get done and check them off? Even if the list is:
see a movie,
talk to my husband for one hour about global warming,
have coffee with my friend
and read three chapters in my book.
Obviously don't be a time nazi about it, but if you really did want to have time to read today, then your worth it. Visit with your friend for awhile and watch tv for awhile but don't just waste your time. It is YOUR time and you deserve to use it not WASTE it.
I know it sounds almost anal, and I am far from anal believe me, but somehow along the way we seem to have lost our own improtance. We seem a generation of ME ME ME, but with that me time we waste it fulfilling the needs of the consumer society in which we live. We need the tv to tell us what is entertaining. We have to buy things at the store to feel good for that hard day at work. We don't have enough time to get to cleaning and cooking (cuz of our tv time) so we will just throw some prepared food on our laps later and toss that pile of clean laundry in the corner; we will get to it later. But, don't you deserve to live in a nice house? Aren't you worth a dinner at home with napkins on laps and nice wine? We don't mind going out and spenging 12.00 on a hamburger at a restaurant, but we could spend less on a nicer home cooked meal in your own home where there are no tips, rude waiters and your dogs can be with you (I love my dogs)
So, I know I am rambling on again, but it just really hit me today how much of our modern world, the simple actions we take, are so affected by things like tv and 'modern concepts'. I think by my giving up these things that I felt were not 1955, I have begun to realize how we don't really need alot of them. And by taking on actions that I felt were important to people in 1955, I am finding that they are as important today!

Why don't we live like this today? I find myself asking. Certainly we think things cost more, but is that it, or do we just need to buy more things. I know it is not the same for everyone across the board, but I am just finding, maybe we are just mindless consumers who don't want to really think about how we spend. If it is important to get more of our time and life back then maybe you don't need a car for every member of your family. Maybe you don't need multiple cell phones or any at all. Or maybe one cell phone and no home phone. Do you need to buy a new car and pay it off, when you can buy one five years old and buy it outright? How many new clothes and shoes do you REALLY need? It is just a matter of choice, but it is YOUR choice. You can change your daily actions and life.

For me, even the making of my bed is really a 1955 concept. I didn't do it everyday before 1955. Now, I don't even think about it, I just do it. After hubby is off to work and the kitchen is all clean and dishes put away, I make the bed and straighten up the room. Now, I find myself sometimes going in there to relax. An organized clean room really makes you feel like a special guest in your own home. Think of it- a life long vacation in a hotel that caters specifically to your needs. It's true you are often the bell hop and the chef, but you can't beat the price and you can stay as long as you want.
I think one reason we have such celebrity and star worship in this country, is we view these people as the lucky ones who get to wear nice clothes and go to nice places, well, whats stopping you? So, you cant' afford a $10,000 gown, but one you make yourself or get on sale for 50.00, if it makes you feel good, isn't it the same thing. And so you can't afford some high-end restaurant, set your table with your 'nice dishes' get some good wine and make a great gourment meal for yourself. Why live your life vicariously through some media ideal, when the real thing is much more fun AND rewarding. You don't have to be rich and famous to be happy. You can wear nice clothes whenever you want and eat at your own table set with nice things and good food made by your hand and actually save money in the process. It is more work personally, but if it results in your having to do less actual labor/job work to pay for all the things that somehow make your not having to cook your own meals, make your own clothes, entertain at home necessary, isn't it worth it? Wouldn't you like to spend half the amount of money on igredients and take the time to cook and eat at home. If you did it enough you might find you don't need to work as much. It is a strange consumer cycle we are all stuck in. Just really evaluate what and where you spend. That seems to be the key to homemaking in the old days and this key should be used by all of us nowadays for our life. You don't have to be a homemaker to make these good decisions.

Maybe I am just spewing nonsense and most of you think I am crazy, or perhpas you already do these things and are thinking, "well, I know that already". But, you see, I did not. I just didn't know it. Know one ever taught me to sew or cook. I had to learn to do laundry on my own and only recently saw how wrong I was doing it. No one simply said, look at what you are spending and evaluate if you need this or that. Just because it is easier to buy prepared foods, have two cars and buy your own clothes doesn't mean it is the only option. But, in trying to limit myself to things in 1955, I am realizing how these limits can really make a happy life for us. Why save up all year to rush through two weeks of a holiday when you can make more of your daily life a great vacation?

I was talking with vintage friend the other day and she is not a homemaker. She has a full time job. She was telling me how she really would like to be a homemaker. Now, she doesn't have a husband, but she lives with her fiance'. When I started talking with her about if it could be feasible to stay home, you realize it is BUT, there is always a but, it might involve getting rid of things we think we NEED: such as, two cellphones, two cars etc. IF you stay home and your husband works relatively close by, why have two cars? If you have things to get done that day, drop him off and you have the car. If not, let him have the car and you will need to stay home and get your work done, because it is a job. You cannot say, "Oh, never mind I will go off and get some starbux instead". Because, again, I really think many people believe being a homemaker means you have a lifelong day off. Not true. In fact, I never leave my place of work. It is always there and ALWAYS needs my attention, but it is my responsiblity as the boss of this outfit, to make sure I budget my time so I can have an official 'punch out time' at the end of the day. And in treating it like a job, I make sure I meet deadlines, don't overspend, make sure my work area is clean. I mean, when you are at work you follow all the rules set by your boss and your job. Why not have those same rules for your home and yourself even if you are not a homemaker. It is still your home.
So, back to my friend. At first she balked, as many of us would, "live without my cell phone? only one car?" But we have to realize people used to do such things. In fact in our own living history we all lived without cell phones. Our consumer socitey is SO good at what it does, that we have no memory when it comes to consumption. We have short term memory when it comes to purchasing. Who can remember not having cell phones, well it wasn't that long ago! "Oh, I need my cell phone, I can't live without it," even though ten years ago you would never have even thought of it.

Now, many of us are concerned about the environment and such, what better way to reduce our carbon footprint then to get rid of one car! We started adding up the cost of insurance, excise tax, inspection each year (at least here in MA), gas and the hidden cost: When you can just drive where you want when you want, you spend more! If you cannot take off for starbux, you won't have spent five dollars on a cup of coffee. When I think of what I used to spend on one coffee! I can buy coffee beans for the week! AND I don't give myself atitude when I order my own coffee at home and if I want to leave a tip, it goes in a jar for me!
Another moment of revelation for me happened the other day. I had bought the closest thing to a sponge mop I could, as I saw these existed in 1955. I had seen an ad in my vintage magazine for a sponge mop and so went out to get one. So, I thought, good this is better than my old swiffers, I just use this sponge over and over agian and then only need to buy the refill. Not everytime I mop.
Then I thought about it. The consumer socitey is beginning in the 1950s. Here I am merely buying the 1950's version of the swiffer. I checked and the refill sponge was 8.99. Certainly, I do not need to buy it as often as swiffer refills, but I do need to buy it. Then I saw a 100% cotton mop was the same price as one sponge refill. The mop head detaches and I can wash it and use it probably indefinitely! Then I went back even one step further, before mops, you got on your hands and knees took a brush and some soapy water and did that. No product required but the buket and the brush that was probably your mother's old one. This sort of backwards analyzing has really opened my eyes. The levels at which we spend is amazing. No wonder so many people think they cannot afford to have one spouse work and one stay home. But, if you do want to think and treat it like a real job ( which means take it seriously and realize sometimes it is a messy hard job) you could do it.

There is another level of spending that is part of our consumer society that I am become to laothe. It is a type of spending that seems on the surface to be saving you money, but in fact is still part of the whole ploy to pull you in and spend. For example, I found myself buying a shirt at old Navy the other day. It was very vintage inspired and was marked down to $4.00, I HAD to buy it. And, true I could NOT make this shirt for this price. But, then I had to stop and think, what does this shirt really cost? Such stores exist on the suffering of other human beings. I know that sounds crazy, but how do you think such places can sell you a shirt for four dollars? It certainly is not because the local neighborhood tailor is making it for them. But, China (to whom we are increasingly becoming indebted to) has tons of people and they do not care how they treat them. They literally have children sewing shoes for pennies while we buy them for hundreds of dollars, or we buy somthing really cheap because, we could never make it that cheap. But, do we need that many clothes? Wouldn't we rather pay a little more, have less, but buy it from our neighbor who runs a dress shop?
We are apalled when we think of the Holacaust and wonder, "How did people let it happen?" And yet, we buy without thinking! We just wonder around like mindless zombies with our pocketbooks open, mindlessly buying because it is so cheap I HAD to buy it!
I have mentioned Walmart before, because I am always baffled at how good they are at the game they play. Their whole concept is 'good ole america'. Yet, they undersell small business until they are forced to shut down. They buy from China. There is a price for everything and if we don't pay it for the product we are paying for it in our destorying of a way of life we may still want. I am amazed at how easy it is to fall prey to them, for example, I found a blog the other day that was about being green and getting back to the earth. It showed how to make your own jam. It went on about nature and picking your berries locally etc and then in the list of things needed, it said, 'All of these things are really cheap and available at Walmart'. It just really hit home for me.
Really? Pick berries from your local farm, but buy the supplies from the beast himself? Or why not just buy on ebay or from your local store. Then you are helping out your local economy, or buying something used, so it doesn't have to be manufactured again, thus being even more green and thinking local!
Many people pine for the old days and wish we could return to the local downtown where little johnny can go to the five and ten and get a soda at the counter. You know all your neighbors, there is the local butcher and bakery. But, we act as if some magic Genie came and took it all away. We don't want to have the accountability to accept that is is OUR fault it is gone. But, in accepting that we can see that we can also bring it back, HOW? Stop shopping chain stores. DON'T go to walmart and Home Depot. I know, "It's cheaper there, " you will say. But, is it? Is it okay to help purpetuate the continuing harm to others so we can save $1.00 on some cleaning product we could proably just make with vinegar and water anyway!

It makes me sad, because we as a collective in this country could make a difference, but we won't want to because, oh, it'll be too expensive. But, we don't think, well, maybe we could buy LESS things support locally and still only spend the same amount. And what about when all stores are only chains and corporations and China calls in its debts, then what? Then they can charge whatever they like! No wonder we pine for the good ole days, but we need to be like those people and work harder locally, and think before we spend.
I know I might sound like a fanatic, but this trip to 1955 has really shown me self-worth and self empowerment. I can say, "No, I won't go to walmart or Old Navy I will shop locally and make it myself if I can". I needed the guise of a time-travel project to do it, but then I realize, I could have just done it anyway. Any of us can just make the decision to buy less, buy local, make what we can and barter for what we can't. We don't need a cell phone for each of us and everyone their own car. What saddens me, is I think it will only take such a huge financial crisis of epic proportions to get us to HAVE to return to these ways. When, really, we can do it right now. We can change in our own backyards and it would ripple out like a stone dropped into a pond.

A good lesson in consumerism is your local dump. If you have a local one, go to it. Just go there and look at it all. I am surprised by the decreased number of my own garbage bags by the simple act of using cloth napkins, rags for cleaning instead of paper towels, mop instead of throw away swiffer, toilet brush instead of toss away scrubber, not stopping for coffee and bringing home that throw away cup. Even my vintage Kirby vacuum uses no paper bags. It goes into a cloth bag inside another cloth bag and emptys out of the bottom. Both of those bags are washable. These few changes have already decreased the amount of garbage bags (bin liners) I have at my curb as well as what I spend on products.

It somehow has seemed that the very act of being a grown up, which means thinking things through and being responsible for your actions, is just disapearing from our community landscape. Why?

It is fun to scorn or scoff the homemaker, at home cooking for her family, keeping her house. "She is a slave" you might think, and yet happily go through life working hard to pay for all the things the tv and society tells you you need. Now, honestly, who is the slave? The woman who gets to be her own boss, design her own surroundings and use her own imgainations to make do with what she has? Yes, indeed, poor slave. What a sucker, now I need to go work more hours at my loathsome job so I can pay for the gas to get there and then shop to buy things to make myself feel better and not have to go home to that messy house.

Even single people can be their own homemakers. Because really, being a homemaker simply means being in control of your own life, thinking before you buy, and making your surroundings the best they can be for yourself.
That is the type of slavehood I like.

57 comments:

  1. i NEED shoes...

    otherwise i agree with everything you have said

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  2. Welcome to my world. A wonderful wonderful rant. Thanks so much Donna.

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  3. Ah, but Weenie_elise, don't you think a few pair of nice shoes, and some vintage ones are better than 25 pair of cheaply made payless shoes that wear out and are pumped out in third world countries? You can still have shoes, but good ones made to last!
    Jenny-you are welcome, I am glad I am not the only one showing up in this world!

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  4. WOW! that was long but very interesting and very true. I really ejoyed reading what you had to say and it has made me more aware as a homemaker:)

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  5. Preach it, sister!

    I have been saying the same thing for literally YEARS. Until my son was born, we always had one car. That was 17 years of just one car. We now live a half an hour away from most of civilization and my husband didn't want me to be without a vehicle with a baby at home, so now we have two.

    I still don't have a cell phone. I honestly don't want one.

    We don't have cable or satellite TV. (We use rabbit ears which really don't work well, but that limits the TV time!) Mostly we watch videos and DVDs from the library or SwapaDVD.com.

    Most of our clothing comes from yard sales (with brand names like L.L.Bean and Talbots to name a couple).

    I line dry my laundry summer and winter.

    Etc., etc.

    We've also been living on one income for 14 years.

    It's all about choices and priorities.

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  6. Another great post full of insight about values in life. I agree with you that we don't really need all the things we take for granted and I try to think before I buy something.
    I've tagged you, see my latest post! (But you don't have to do it if you don't want to)

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  7. I came here via Little Jenny Wren and I am glad I did. A long read but well worth it.

    Thank you for reminding me about the simple things.

    I love being a homemaker.

    Tania

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  8. I clicked on the ad about the TV to read all the details. LOL about the magic light! On a serious note, I see that the remote control TVs start at $399.95 which is lot of money!

    A lot of the shows from the 50s are very entertaining. As a kid, I watched ( in reruns) I married Joan, My Little Margie, Life of Riley, and The Bob Cummings Show to name a few. There are others but I'm trying not to bring up any that haven't premiered yet for you! :)

    I enjoyed that section of your post about how we are mindless consumers. Mr. Hairball didn't own a car when I met him in '91 so for our entire courtship and marriage we have "made do" with having only one car.

    I *do* understand that not every single household could or would want to live on one income and that's fine. Everyone though, should be aware of where their money is going every month. That way they can decide for themselves whether their spending habits are helping or hindering them from achieving the goals they say are important to them.

    My kitchen is quite small and what I do is mist or wet the floor with my cleaner of choice, throw down one of my old 'cleaning' towels, and 'walk it' across the floor. Kind of like this Cuban Mop but without the handle!

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  9. WOW! Great post!!
    I have just resigned from my job and am going to be a fulltime homemaker. I have been really concerned about how I am going to structure my days so I don't end up frittering time away. My kids are grown up and moved away so I have no time schedules to meet.
    I will start doing lists again which I did when my kids were small so that I can get the most of my days.
    Thanks for this timely post and to Jenny Wren for directing me to it, I really needed to read this today.
    Cheers, Michelle.

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  10. i can't have lots of pairs of really nice expensive ones?

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  11. Weenie-you can have whatever you want. In fact I am not trying to tell anyone what to do. In fact, when you can afford it I think someone should be able to get it without guilt, but I was really talking more about people who feel they don't have enough money or time and are always working away and seem to have disorder in their home. Even tv isn't bad, per se, but how you use it. I just want people to not succumb to the corporate lull of buying and supporting places that are, honestly, inherntly bad. Somtimes really thinking things through allows you to decide what you really want. I mean, since I started this project I have bought about 9 pair of shoes to cooincide wiht my wardrobe. However, I didn't pay much for any of them, and I made sure they fit into my budget. I think you can have as many pair as you want, are you really amelda marcos?

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  12. What a great rant!!

    I too am a homemaker but I haven't gotten back to where I really want to be. The good old days!

    Thank you for writing this and bringing it back to my attention that I need to work harder at achieving the homemaking goals I have set for myself.

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  13. This was a terrific post. Your ideas are so inspiring to me. Thank you.

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  14. Soooo....did we have a mind-meld or something? *grin* Like Roxanne, this has been my rant for years! I realized the folly of my ways about 10 years ago when I read "Affluenza" and then "Your Money or Your Life."

    I sometimes feel like a fish out of water because I'm onto the social conditioning that makes us believe we have to be conspicuous consumers (heck, even now with people being laid off, news reports make us feel guilty for not spending money!).

    Good rant, my dear. Good rant :)

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  15. I really loved this rant! I think you're right, we do live out of our means and for what? worried about making the rent on time? living off of future wages?

    I'm in debt, and your rant really hit home with me. We all need to go back to simpler times.

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  16. Dear Donna,

    What a wonderful post ! I, too, came over from Little Jenny Wren and agree with you wholeheartedly. My husband and I were married in 1953 and have now been married 55 years. During all of those years I have almost always been a full time homemaker. Occasionally I did work outside the home part time or baby sat an extra child if money was a bit tight. We raised 6 children and often it was on a moderate salary. The reason that we were able to do this was because we lived by the principals that you are discovering and sharing on your blog. Many women today who long to be home with their children but who have bought into the notion that "You have to have both husband and wife working today, if you want to make ends meet", could be home if they would go back to living the way you describe. I hope that many women will read your blog and give some thought to modifying the way that they are living. Your blog is very insightful.

    Blessings,

    Mary

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  17. Best Rant EVER. Thank you so much for your thoughts and insights. I do believe you have inspired me to take a really good look at things around here.

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  18. Loving the blog. I'm very much a 21st century housewife but I have a lot of old-fashioned ideas that make most of my peers shake their heads like making my own bread and household cleaners. I just recently started doing my own sewing. My first project was a pair of Lightening McQueen PJs for my son but I've got some nice vintage patterns lined up. More reproduction type things, the original ones aren't quite to my taste, but still tasteful and feminine.

    I also have a mopping suggestion for the other ladies still living in the current decade. The Method oMop. It's a similar design to a swiffer only instead of a paper pad it had a microfiber one which you can wash a few hundred times. I've been using one for about 3 years now and the pad is still in great shape. It's more eco-friendly than a cotton mop too because you just spray a little cleaner on the floor rather than use a whole bucket. They do sell one but I make my own with water and vinegar in a spray bottle. I do still get down on my hands and knees with a brush though, gets in to those corners really well!

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  19. Wow! Again, thank you everyone. I was worried I was being too preachy or crazy after I posted this one. It is funny, isn't it, that I had to time travel to realize how we spend today. I think just taking yourself out of the moment really helps. I see now, anyone can do it. You don't need to restructure your life to a new time period, just step out of your own for a few minutes and think on what you spend. It is amazing how ingrained it is into us.
    I am glad I am not the only one who feels this way. And I see many of you already felt this way, but I am sure glad to be discovering it.
    Mary-If you were a housewife in the mid 1950's you must be a walking encyclopedia of information. I would be glad of any comments or information or emails what have you. YOu were there, so you know what they wore when they cleaned and what was important and what was an average thing to do of a weekend etc. I know you don't represent all of 1950s housewives, but you are the real deal. And, as I am learning and hopefully demonstrating, not only looking back is important, but listening to those older than we are to share their wisdom is important and sort of missing from today. I think many people would be offended to have someone say, well you're older can I learn this and that from you, because our society tells us to look and be younger, I know! But, here you are, the real deal, so please any info or advice for a new 1950's housewife would be much appreciated.
    I am so glad I have actually helped people to take a look at their own spending. It seems to be an unending process, at least it is for me. Maybe our economic problems will be our 'world war' that will force us to wake up and be responsible for ourselves. We shall see.
    Thanks again, everyone.

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  20. Fabulous post, can't praise it enough! Totally inspiring stuff.

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  21. Your GREATEST post ever! I loved it from one end to the other! :) I wish there were much more Americans like you. It is so funny to see the difference from the US to Denmark (/Europe). I didn't know you had so much buying and throwing away. At first I thought your friend using paper plates was a joke! And if you tell me she even has a dishwasher, she should be spanked! In Denmark we can quite often watch programs about how foolish the Americans behave, how many cars they have, how BIG they are, how much they use them, that they cannot walk half a mile, etc. How they live, how BIG their houses are. How they eat, and how MUCH, how much cola they drink ... etc etc etc. If all Americans would listen to you, you could change the world, lady! To the Danish people your filosophy is quite normal, we are not a "Swiffer-nation". We use rags we wash, we line dry, we walk and proudly ride our bicycles, we reuse, we love fleamarkets and charity shops. We cook our own meals, we bake and we hardly never go McD and couldn't dream about buying what equals to Starbux. We are very "green".

    Your tip on writing a list is very well known to me, in fact I'm known for my lists. Being a homemaker for about 7 weeks now (and three more to go), I started writing a "to-do"-list, with everything from small and easy tasks to the bigger and boring tasks. Today, I've just finished washing all my windows, and we have MANY windows, I tell you. And the feeling you get afterwards crossing that task on your list is fabulous. The idea of bottling it is great! :)

    And a remote control - how exotic is that!?!?! :)

    Have a lovely weekend, both of you! :)

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  22. Thanks Sanne, sometimes we Americans forget we are not the only people on this planet, part of our problem. Isn't it odd that right now, any of we Americans could easily 'time-travel' by just moving to somewhere in Europe. It sounds like the average American would have some adjustments to make if they moved to Denmark, but then they would be better for it, more fit and more money saved! You are lucky your country naturally does these things, and I think, hopefully, we can start to change our own country. Of course, we may not have a chance. If our economy continues as it is, we may all be riding our bikes!

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  23. Amen! From beginning to end! I hope this post gets a wide circulation. Now I'm off to make the bed and get Friday's housework done.

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  24. Another great post, as usual. We, as well, have been living our life in the way you have described. There are times when we become lax and give in to chain store shopping, etc., but we always come back to doing things the way you, and others, have described. It's not always easy, especially when you know that the smaller locally owned shop will probably not have everything you need and you'll end up at
    the bigger chain store to finish getting what you need. The temptation is to just go to the bigger chain store where you know they will have everything you need, therefore saving you a trip to another store. But, it really is worth it to buy whatever you can from the smaller locally owned store and get whatever
    else you need from the other stores afterwards. It takes commitment, and not giving in to the "path of least resistence", but it's definitely worth it. I have long stopped running around trying to find the cheapest price for things because, not only does it take more time than I want to spend trying to save a few bucks, but the cheaper prices usually apply to pre-made items and junk foods, which I don't buy very often to begin with. A family could have a budget of x number of dollars per week and spend it on junk or they could take that same amount of money and buy healthy whole foods from the local butcher, produce stand/farmer's market, etc. This is where planning helps so that you are not wasting money on food items that you really don't need for the week. Why does it matter if the meat and veggies are a little more expensive if you are still spending the same amount of money each week, but just not buying junk so that you can afford to buy the good stuff and still stay in your budget? A lot of people don't look at it that way, they just look at the cost of individual items, and
    buy what is "cheaper". Another thing to think about is what is your money going towards in how it shapes the community? As you said, 50sgal, we "choose" what type of community we have according to where we put our money. If people want the local butcher, local grocery stores, local drug stores, etc., to make a comeback, that's where they need to start putting their money...supply and demand. Think of it as investing in your future and your childrens' future.

    The book that was mentioned, Your Money or Your Life, is great. Another good book is Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James. I know she has other books as well. I guess what people need to understand is that living a simple life does not always mean that life will be "easier". I think people get confused by that. In some ways it's more challenging, but so rewarding at the same time. But, because you are living your life in a more simple way, you have more time to do things in a more meaningful, rewarding way. And, to me, that is so much better than life being so fast paced with little reward in the end. Simplifying your life means to cut back on the less meaningful things in life so that you can do the more meaningful things, even if those meaningful things means you have to put more effort into doing it. If it's meaningful, it's worth the effort. Don't look for the path of least resistence in your life, look for the path that has depth, that is the most meaningful to you and your family. Choose your life, create your life, don't just exist in it.

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  25. Sanne, your post reminded me of a lady who went to the Netherlands for a few years and how eye opening is was to her. The people lived such simple, rich lives, yet did not own a lot of stuff. They laughed at the idea of Americans having garages and not using it to actually park their car in because it was full of stuff that just sits there forever in boxes. She said they owned what they used, and had little, if any, extras. When she got back to the US, she had a hard time adjusting to the excess and felt overwhelmed by it all, and couldn't help but laugh whenever she drove by an open garage full of stuff with no room to fit a car. She took the lessons she learned from living simply in the Netherlands and continues to live that way now that she's back in the US. The lessons I've learned from others who have been to other countries, or from others who live their life this way, has helped me over the years to live my life this way as well. To the best of my ability, the stuff we own is used, or, as I like to say, it has to earn it's place in our house. If I notice something is never really being used, it gets donated. I try not to keep "stuff", but rather have things that we use. I have always found it a little funny that people decorate their houses to have a certain "feel" to them, but if they were living their life that way and actually using those things that they only decorate with, their life would be like that and it would inherently have that "feel" without it being "created". The decoration of my house is consistent with, and the result of, who I am and how I live my life, not the creation of an idea or feeling; it's an organic, natural extension of who I am, not a fabrication of an imagined ideal. Did that make sense?

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  26. 50sgal,

    You definitely have like minded women here, and we are absolutely delighted every time you share an insight, evn if we already knew about it because it just re-confirms what we already knew. I'm so glad that you are learning so much, and can change your life in so many ways that will make it more meaningful to you. We are high-fiving you all the way. And, it's always a good reminder, and a swift kick in the pants, when someone shares these new found types of revelations because it highlights areas of our own life where we have slacked off a little. Your comments serve as a reminder of what matters the most, and helping me, at least, to keep my focus. So, thank you.

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  27. Very cool post!

    Your point about "slaves" reminded me about the part in Romans where it says:
    "Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness."
    (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206;&version=31;)

    The Bible often talks about slavery and makes it clear we are all slaves to something. It is what we choose to serve that counts - we can't help serving something. And yeah, being able to make a home is a wonderful slavery, though difficult, like jobs are.

    Oh, I also don't really like big box stores, but Walmart gets an unfair deal a lot of the time, I think. During Katrina they did not do ANY price gouging and many stores gave stuff away free. Walmart is not the problem, they are just responding to a demand and doing a great job of it. You are right, it is up to us if we want to bring neighborhoods and little stores back.

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  28. I don't remember how I found your blog but I'm so glad I did. I enjoy all your posts and this one is outstanding.

    I've chosen to be a homemaker and there are some who don't undertand especially since we have no children. Yet, I love my life and have a wonderful, supportive husband. I worked in offices and retail and believe me, those jobs felt like slavery to me! :o) Homemaking is freedom and the perfect "career" for me.

    Thanks for all the encouragement you give through your blog. Keep it coming!

    Sandra

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  29. What a wonderful post! I do agree with you and I do try, but since my DH is not really on the same page it is difficult and I find myself slipping back into old habits.

    Affluenza was mentioned in an earlier comment, and I rented the videos (Affluenza, and Escape From Affluenza) from the library and they were a real eye-opener for me, woke me up to all the things you are saying.

    So, thanks for the reminders, and I'll forget about the swiffer I almost succumbed to thinking it would make my life easier and my "inner homemaker" easier to find!

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  30. Righteous rant, sister!

    It's quite something that even the possession of more stuff, more "conveniences," etc. changes us so quickly. I've never owned a cell phone, primarily because I see the way it changes everyone who owns one and I don't want to change like that, too. Suddenly, they are incapable of making plans and sticking to them. Every "let's get together" turns into a series of phone calls, leaving everyone around them feeling as if that person doesn't really value the time of others.

    We get lazy with our multiple cars per family. Don't have to think ahead and plan carefully when it comes to groceries and other supplies for the household - because it's so easy to pop out and pick something up. My mother raised three kids without a car (my father drove it to work five days a week). As a result, she had to really plan our meals ahead of time, make a comprehensive grocery list, and if she forgot something - come up with a plan B based on what she had in the cupboard. We also walked. Everywhere. School, the dentist's, piano lessons, the eye doctor's. We couldn't have been overweight kids if we tried!

    It's remarkable to look back and realize just how much affluence has changed our mindset as well as our downtowns.

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  31. My husband has made numerous trips to Russia and Ukraine. One of the standing jokes about Americans is that Americans are never fully dressed without their car. We both got a kick out of that one. I am grateful for the opportunities afforded us in this nation and am unwilling to apologize for it. America is unique in the fact that we have so many different lifestyles. When I lived in Seattle, we owned one car and I used public transportation because it was readily available. I still had to structure my errands around the bus schedule but that it hardly a hardship. I now live in the upper midwest. We live 40 miles from the nearest town with public transportation. Does that mean that I am wasteful for using my car to retrieve goods and services for my home? No, because the same principle applies. I schedule my errands so that I make no extraneous trips. Not only because I'm cheap but because it is sensible not to waste my time. All this to say that it is easy to take shots at Americans as being wasteful, but often it is from ignorance that they are said. Most of the world do not understand the type of freedom that is our birthright. They have lived under a socialist ideation that they cannot understand that we make choices because we can. And it is a good thing.

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  32. I should clarify, I love this blog and am enjoying greatly your posts. My husband and I have discussed many of the same questions that you have been musing over. It is great food for thought. I wish only to convey the thought that it is possible what appears to be wasteful may be only a different way of achieving the same goal. I homeschooled my children so that my husband would be able to see his children on a regular basis. His work schedule would not have afforded extended family time otherwise. We moved out of the metro because we believed it would be better for our children -certainly not out of convenience. But as with any life decision there are things we must trade. We have that choice here. It is not my wish to have "stirred the pot" , only to have brought a different view to the table.

    Michele ( anonymous before)

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  33. An encouraging post. I too came from Jenny Wren. You have made so many points that make good sense.

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  34. this is a great blog... full of many things to ponder... thank you for sharing

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  35. Michele,

    I understood what you said. I guess I should clarify as well that my post was not meant as a jab at Americans and the freedom we have to make choices that are best for our families/life. I just think it's interesting to see ourselves through others eyes, and pause to consider why it is that the choices we sometimes make seems absolutely silly to others. So, it's not so much about being American as it is the choices that people do make, and why, when they do have the freedom to make choices. It would benefit us to use our freedom in a positive way, not use it as an outlet to go downhill.

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  36. WOW! I have been out all day today and just got back! I am so sad I missed all these comments and discussions. I hope others will return for more debate. I see everyone agrees or have similiar ideas. I agree with most comments, but I do need to stay that I stick by my original reaction to Walmart because they do INDEED buy mostly from China which encourages that country to continue to use slave labor, they are not themselves enslaving, but their buying from them is helping just as our buying from them instead of the locals is putting the locals out of business. I don't really think they are 'filling' a role as much as they are part of what corporate america is doing which is CREATING the role in which we then are influnced to serve. I slso don't know that I necessarily agree that as Americans we have a BIRTH RIGHT. I don't think we have any greater rights than the rest of the human beings on the planet and my basic rant is often we are duped into wanting to 'stand behind our country' when what the standard is, is really something only recently created as part of an overall marketing strategy to make us purchase items we don't need. Our country is currently in a situation because such decisions, particularly in finance, were made based on greed and not welfare of our people. I am as American as you can get. My ancestors came over before it was america, my husbands ancestors were on the mayflower, and I even have some native american in me, so some of my ancestors were even here before then, so I definitely feel I am American and proud of it, but I am not going to let, particularly as an American who left other countries for personal freedoms, allow a growing corporate hierarchy dictate to me 'WHAT AMERICAN Means'. Being AMerican isn't about owning things. We should not nor ever want to be defined by our freedom to purchase items. I don't think it is bad to have cars and some people need two , when they are out in the country, even cell phones are inherently bad, but think about how every 3 months there are new cell phones and we need the latest model etc. That is PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE and it is, in my opinion, ruining this country. Now, luckily we are all women so we can have different opionins and still end up all loving each other, but I just won't budge on some points, particularly concerning Walmart which is a large player in the destruction of what we consider 1950s or small town america. They LITERALLY put businesses out of business. They will even sell at a loss to themselves when they move into a town to help aid that. I think they use the guise of 'american value' but really are trying to make their own version of america. NOthing is free and nothing is really that cheap. We all pay for things in the end. We may save money on a product at Walmart, but what has it cost our community. What if the local hardware store has had to shut down? what about the local dress shop? Even a local grocer could never compete with their prices. They have not filled a need, but made a new one, which is we have all the the things you now need, INCLUDING the jobs, so we get all the money!
    So, please excuse me if I refuse to bend on that one point!
    I also think that other non-americans views of us are not poking fun at us, but pointing out what many of us are actually seeing. I used to think socialized living could be bad, and on some level I still agree, in that I don't want the government to nursmide me, but I also see we have no healthcare, education is ruinously expensive and these are both things that we should DEMAND as our BIRTHRIGHT as citizens of this or any country. When I see those who have it all get more while the other good honest folk in the middle our duped into thinking, "hey, it's the American way" it makes me angry and I am angry for our ancestors, that they should have come here to forge a new world for the poeople to only have it be a horrid copy of an antique ideal of a few controlling the masses.
    Well, that is more of my rant. I am really sad that I was not here today to respond more. I love that we can have such discussions as these. Please keep it up, agree, disagree, whichever, that fact that we are debating it means we are thinking about it, and that is what we need to do!

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  37. I meant to say that cell phones are NOT inherntly bad in my last comment.

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  38. Loved this post. Brings to mind the Proverbs 31 woman
    10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
    11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
    12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
    13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
    14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
    15 She gets up while it is still dark;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her servant girls.
    16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
    17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
    18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
    19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
    20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
    21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
    22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
    23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
    24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
    25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
    26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
    27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
    28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
    29 "Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all."
    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
    31 Give her the reward she has earned,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


    Another thought on your final posting in the comments:

    I personally do not want a socialist government. Healthcare & education is not something the government should give us as a birthright. It is something the people should seek out and share. Education can (& should IMHO) be found in the home quite effectively. Even at the college level.
    Healthcare is absurbedly expensive....due to fools who have sued and forced the doctors to take out extra insurance, which gets passed on to us. (I know--- some malpractice suits are warrented, but not all.)
    We have forgotten how to care for our own bodies and run to the clinic for every sniffle. We eat too much junk and are poisoning ourselves, which leads to more illnesses.
    We fill our minds with junk from today's music and television, while forgetting how to read books or enjoying active pursuits; leading to mental ailments.

    These are reasons why I would want to go back in time. To simpler days when we honored our country, those in authority, our homes, our families and ourselves.

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  39. EXCELLENT post!!! I love that type of 'slavehood' too. Homemaking rules! I am learning so much from your posts and am really inspired and encouraged. Thanks for writing! From, Linda

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  40. I enjoyed reading this post very much. It's given me a lot to think about.

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  41. 50sgal,

    I just wanted to comment on what you said here, not necessarily directly to you, but just a response in general. "When I see those who have it all get more while the other good honest folk in the middle our duped into thinking, "hey, it's the American way" it makes me angry and I am angry for our ancestors, that they should have come here to forge a new world for the poeople to only have it be a horrid copy of an antique ideal of a few controlling the masses."

    We have to be careful to safeguard our freedom to choose. Big businesses are big because we have made them big with our money. Government needs to step back and protect this freedom, not take it away. I think the problem is, and our focus needs to be more on the citizens and how their choices are affecting our country. It is the people, WHO HAVE THE POWER (not government). If people would spend their money with the idea of preserving balance in our country and not how it will benefit just them, this problem wouldn't be so bad, and those big businesses wouldn't be so big. It's the ME generation thinking that is causing this. Most people are not living their life, and how they spend their money, with consideration to how it is either helping or hurting their neighbor. For the most part, I have found that people just don't think about it. I don't think it's intentional, they just haven't had anyone point these things out to them.

    Freedom doesn't mean we have the right to be selfish. Freedom means that we have the ABILITY to make choices. We need to bring power back to the people, and our country, by helping them see that their wrong/bad choices are actually taking their freedoms away. The success of a free society is based on the people making choices that benefit the society on a whole, as well as themselves, which sometimes means we don't always get to do, or have, whatever we want, not by letting the government step in, which still puts us in the position of allowing a smaller group of people have power and control over us...big businesses - big government, neither is good. The (big) government should not be the one to "do something" about big businesses, it's up to the citizens to do something about it by not buying from them and keeping businesses smaller and more personal. We just need to continue encouraging people to use their freedom wisely. If people want to continue thinking that freedom is being able to do whatever you want, not understanding that it doesn't mean abusing that freedom with bad choices that ends up taking our freedom away, then we are going to continue going down the road we're on and end up losing our freedom. Freedom is having the ABILITY to make choices instead of someone else making those choices for you; not the choice between good or bad/right or wrong, but the choice between this good or that good. Of course, everyone has the "freedom" to choose bad, but with bad choices you are also choosing to give up your freedom with that bad choice Freedom is not free in this world, it can be taken away. It is up to us to make good choices that help protect that freedom, because not every "I can do whatever I want!" choice protects that freedom. Sometimes a little self sacrifice means that we maintain our freedom and the freedom of others.

    Maybe people need to re-visit the self- sufficiency of a people that Ghandi taught, or read some of the writings by GK Chesterton on society to be reminded of what true freedom is. A person doesn't have to hold either man's religious convictions in order to see the universal truths that comes through regardless of religious belief.

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  42. I think that by only supporting the big business we are in fact taking away such freedoms. We are saying it is more important for me to save a dollar and give it to this corporation that to my neighbor who runs the store and cares about the local school where his son goes and if there is a traffic light on this street. I don't want the government bigger, but I want the goverment to NOT be connected TO the corporate world. If mom and pop store fails, do we bail them out either locally or on a government scale? No, but if a big corporation fails we all bail them out with our tax money which is what the government is using. I just think if people just look back ONE more step, the freedoms of the corporations they are trying to protect as "american ideals" are in fact tyranny in a good disguise. The american buisness and freedom should be on a local level. By supporting more things on corporate level,rather through your votes OR where you buy your products, nicks away at those freedoms everyday.
    I think it is just so well disguised we don't see it. I KNOW I DID NOT SEE IT, until I started only reading news and info out of this time to realize it wasnt alwasy this way. Being american and supporting business meant your local hardware store, not building up a corporation so large it destroys all other business. I used to believe, heck, let this guy build up to a certain point if he can, but now I feel, why can't we have a human aspect to business in that, this guy can build to a certian level and is comfortable, but if his need for more means he becomes so big that he has put out other businesses that provided money and jobs for a community and then when we say that community deserves more money by the hour, that company moves the jobs to a country where they don't care what they pay people, now that community has no jobs from the original local businesses, no big corpoarte store left that wiped out the others and are left wondering where it all want. Freedom is not just for the few who can grow large, it is for all. That is really freedom. I just think we are easily suckered into saying, hey dont hurt the big business, when really the american dream of getting your own and making your own way is getting lost BECAUSE OF the big corporations. I am just realizing all of this lately and used to think the same way. So, I am just expressing what I think I am now seeing. ALso, the concept that it is american to keep growing and getting bigger in business in only in fact another idealogy born in the end of the 19tch century again, if we just look back to our past, we can see that many things we think are 'part of being an american' are not as imbedded into our original idea as many people make us believe it is. I know those mothers did not send their sons and husbands off to die, so that a huge corporation could close down local business, buy from a tyranical country, and dupe us into not want to take care of ourselves but need to depend upon them for our needs! Many people worry about big government, but can't you see how we have slowly been taught by the corporation that we cannot cook our own food make our own clothes etc and need to turn to them for these needs? That is that part that scares me and makes it all seem very, at least to my view of it, unamerican!
    Wow, we are all really ranting aren't we. I love that we are all thinking though, we may be the hope for tomorrow, especially if any of us are mothers.

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  43. And Pl I agree to, and also what is scary is right now the governement really is controlled by the coprorations. The lobbyists and such who are paid to literally stand in line to put forwarda companies rights in voting. BECAUSE they werew allowed to grow so big, now they have enveloped the goverment and it is largely controlled by their interests. SO, right now gov and corporation are interchageable, they both need to be reduced and we can all do it by how we buy and think! I mean only shop locally and try to see who is being elected. It is hard, but if we want a change, we have to do it. It has come the way it is through our generations of lazy people and I am not saying the corporation made us do it ,we have free will, but it is so EMBEDDED in our culture on some level they did 'make us into the mindless non-thinking spending machines' through the subtle use of propagando of tv and media. Thank god the internet allows we separate crazy citizens to rant, huh?

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  44. I just want to clarify that I'm not demonizing big businesses as such, especially if they have maintained their integrity in the process. I do have a problem with businesses, big or small, that care only about themselves and the money. That is not the type of thinking that help support a community and helps to keep it thriving as a whole. I'm not impressed, nor feel any need to support, a business like Walmart that goes and helps hurricane victims when they don't take care of their own workers very well, and they do business in a way that continues to harm/take advantage of children/adults in other countries. Is that what we want the businesses in our country to be built on?
    That would be like me being impressed that my Dad and Mom go out and feed the homeless, but neglected us kids..."Wow, Mom and Dad, you're great!" Yeah, right. I wouldn't be one bit impressed with their "good deeds" if I was
    sitting at home with my brothers and sisters being neglected. Of course, every business owner, even smaller ones, want to make money, but when money becomes more important than people (their customers), they have gone astray.

    Okay, moving on, even with a big business that has integrity, although I would not have a problem shopping there, I would still primarily want to shop at smaller "Mom and Pop" stores though to help maintain that balance (Big business monopolies are not good for society. Even if a business is not a monopoly on a national level, they can become a "monopoly" on a local level if we allow that to happen, which is just as bad). So, I'll shop at bigger businesses but primarily like to shop at smaller businesses, not only to help maintain social/business balance, but also to support my local neighbor and to keep smaller "Mom and Pop" stores, or "small" town America thriving.

    I hope that cleared up any confusion that anyone may have had thinking that I thought all big business is bad (there is always going to be a business that is bigger or smaller than the other guy). As long as it is balanced with smaller businesses (that we help to stay in business and continue to thrive by still shopping at them even though "X" has moved into town), and we do our best to support the bigger businesses that have integrity when we do shop at them, I'm good. :) It all depends on how, and why, businesses thrive.

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  45. "I know those mothers did not send their sons and husbands off to die, so that a huge corporation could close down local business, buy from a tyranical country, and dupe us into not want to take care of ourselves but need to depend upon them for our needs! Many people worry about big government, but can't you see how we have slowly been taught by the corporation that we cannot cook our own food make our own clothes etc and need to turn to them for these needs?"

    Exactly! That is why I mentioned Ghandi and GK Chesterton. It's a basic truth. We should be responsible ourselves, and rely on the help of neighbors, community, and lastly, government, when we need their help. It is not good for anyone to have others do for them what they can do for themselves. The only exception I know of is when there is a mutual exchange of help. In that situation, you are not simply being neglectful, lazy, or dropping a responsibility, but trading one responsibility for another. That's one of the wonderful things about a community that works TOGETHER, not one group of people taking care of another group of people, who can, and should, be taking care of themselves and/or doing their part for the community as a whole, but instead takes advantage of people who are willing to help by sitting back and letting others do EVERYTHING, or just about everything, for them and not giving anything back in return; it's not an equal exchange of responsibilty or support. There is a huge difference between the two scenarios. The more we do for ourselves, and as a community working together to support itself, the less we are dependent upon, or indebted to, corporations or the government.

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  46. PL- I totally agree! I wish I could stick around for more debate, but now I have to get back to my 'project' more of that later. I hope no readers will be scared off from our heated debate, do you think they will?

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  47. Heated debate? I haven't felt like it was heated at all. Intelligent and thoughtful, yes, but not heated. Some people just don't like to touch political conversations, heated or not. But I'm sure you have them a lot to think about even if they haven't joined in.

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  48. Interesting stuff here! Unfortunately, when we can't hear inflection of voice it is difficult to truly be understood. When I said,"... the type of freedom that is our birthright...", it was in relation to those freedoms we posess simply by being born in one of the United States. We have many freedoms not afforded to non-citizens only because we were born here or were naturalized. Freedom of speech, the right to peaceful assembly and the like are our birthright, but as Americans we have no special corner on human rights or freedoms.
    I sincerely apologize if anyone thought that I was hinting that their views were un-American. I did not intend to suggest anything of that kind.

    Michele

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  49. Great post!


    I do work, but I limit my hours to 32 a week by choice. I feel that the extra hours I have to take care of our home and lives more than "pay" for themselves - as far as both my money and sanity go!

    -Allison

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  50. Normally, I don't read comments left on blogs, but today I did, and I LOVE this debate, read all of it. And perhaps I'm a little late now, I don’t read everyday and there’s also the time zone difference to consider. But I’ll love to give you a non-American’s view of many of the points written here:

    I think it is fun you write so much about birthright and freedom, as if it freedom to own a lot of big cars and to ride them only if you need to go a few yards away. They eat up our natural resources of oil, they pollute the air a lot, and how about the day you want to get rid of them? How is that taken care of? Why do you need to have so many cars? Kids can easily walk or ride their bicycles to school, sports or where ever they need to go. All kids in Denmark do so and therefore we don’t have as many overweight kids as in the US. Our cars are generally small compared to yours, the biggest cars we have are the RAVs, but they are SO expensive that there aren’t many of them.

    You have a TV in every room and all of them are turned on although no-one is watching them, they use a lot of electricity which again pollutes, since electricity has to be made too. How do you make electricity over there – by windmills??? I don’t think so. What do you do with all these TVs and computers when you want to get rid of them? Do you send them to dumpsites in India? I’ve seen photos of those horrible dumpsites for electronics in India, they are so poor that they earn money on storing other countries’ pollutant waste.

    All Americans should think of what you leave for the coming generations instead of being so selfish! The only birthright you all have is to behave and think of what you spend and how to get rid of your waste later.

    In Denmark we have ecological (or “green”) taxes on many things from sewerage systems to gasoline, to force people to think of the environment. Everybody gets hit on their wallets if they don’t act the right ecological way. This way it comes natural, even to people who doesn’t care.

    Our big-businesses aren't even big compared to yours! I remember some years ago one of our “big” businesses sold a line of cheap T-shirt which were made by Chinese child workers. When the masses found out we didn’t just stop buying them, we demanded the shop to remove them from their shelves! If you have ever seen these Chinese child-workers walking around in dye or bleach, and later dying a painful death from this pollution or starving, because their salary is ridiculous – you would immediately stop buying such products. If everybody stopped doing this, it wouldn't exist!

    In Denmark we like to pay more for ecological products, like milk, eggs, meat, vegetables, etc. This means better conditions for the animals and the earth - perhaps it doesn't taste better, but it FEELS better! Does it matter to pay what equals to 30 pence more for a bottle of milk, if you know the cows have been on grass all summer, that they have lots of space in their stables and gets ecological food during Winter?

    I thought the story about the garages filled with old stuff was funny. Most Danes clear out things they don’t need, we sell it or give it to charity shops or fleamarkets. Most of us only have things we use, with very few nostalgic or rare exceptions. Of course there are Danes with garages filled with old stuff they either think they need or they don’t have the energy to clear out, but it is exceptions. And our garages are not as huge as yours. To the Danes everything is huge in the US, even the size of you!

    I'm not holy! I have three cars, a quite modern VW Golf (10 years old), and then I have a vintage car for Summer use and a small VW Polo (20 years old) for Winter use. This means we only use two cars at the same time, and during Summer only one (the vintage one), because dear husbands rides his bicycle to his job. Son always rides his bicycle – all year round. My radio is always turned on, I love listening to music when I'm home. My luxury! But I do switch of everything when it's not in use or when we aren't at home. I have a dryer, but I hardly ever use it. I only start the washing machine or dishwasher when it is full.

    PL - thanks for your great opinions and the story about the lady going to the Netherlands, her way of living sounds very Danish to me. I think the Dutch are very much like the Danes, I had some Dutch friends some years ago.

    Donna, your view of healthcare and education is VERY Danish. In Denmark all our schools are free, healthcare (going to the doctor or getting operated at a hospital) is free, living on a old people's home is free - but of course it is not free, anything is! All Danes pay about half of their income to the Danish tax system, this way all these things, and also libraries, highways and much more, are "free"! It will take a lot of years to change that in the US, but then you would not see people suffering in the streets, because they cannot afford hospital bills and you would not have any “illiterates”.

    Sorry, this ended up so long, I got carried away! :)

    At last: Using your common sense never goes out of style!
    And the only birthright we all have is to take care of mother nature for the coming generations!

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  51. Sanne,

    I understand what you are saying, although it’s always painful to be critiqued by an outsider :). I think because most Americans have never left the country to see how other people live, they just don't realize how much they have and how big everything is. Any less, or smaller, seems like a form of suffering...at least from people around me that I know or have talked to. I mean, they have books, workshops, etc. to help people scale back and it's hard for them to do it, which is why they are seeking help. The people I know who have lived in another country for a few years have seen the difference and it has changed their life as a result; they live smaller, life is lived at a slower, more meaningful pace, etc. I've always been a simple person at heart, but what they shared with me about their experiences in other countries helped me to scale back even more in ways that I had already considered simple, compared to others around me. I can't compare my life to those around me, in terms of simplicity, because most people around me live "inflated" lives, and that doesn't give a person a true gauge of what simple really is. So, now I rely on others who live simple lives to consider excesses in my own life that I could live without. It really boils down to the simple true that less is more.

    As far as kids not riding their bikes here, I think most parents are truly terrified of their kids getting kidnapped. Your hear of stories like that all the time, and you just feel safer taking them to their destination yourself and having the piece of mind that they did indeed arrive safely, especially in the bigger cities where the streets are not designed for children to safely ride their bikes to and fro.

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  52. Here is another 'conspiracy' moment. My hubby told me about a report he read that says today people are actually MORE safe than they have ever been, including children. The 'fear' we have of kidnapping etc is just played up in the media and on the news. Who owns and runs the media? Exactly. Who sells cars and gas? Exactly! So, I know I am talking as someone who has no child, but honestly, we talk about not being socialist or big government, and yet our gov. which is SUPPOSE to be of and for the people is actually really run by corpate interests through lobbying. Not only is it sort of bad that we waste the gas and pollute by taking our children to places this way, we rob them of the right to learn to be independent and adult some day. NO wonder we continue to grow generations of spoiled adults. We give no responsibility to young children in this way and then expect them after HS to just magically transform into responsible adults. It is not as there are only bad people in the us and not in Denmark, so I think many of our fears are really feed to us by the media. Well, that's my two cents.

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  53. I think it really depends on where you live. There is at least one case a month in our area where a child goes missing. Of course, compared to how many children there are, that makes the average low, but it makes it no less comforting to see how regularly it happens. Honestly, I wonder how much of their study showing that things are safer has to do with the fact that parents don't let their kids just run around. The number of incidents are down, yes, but that's probably because not as many kids are running around. I think there are too many factors that have changed over time to really know if things are safer, or not.

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  54. I should have included s-xual assault as well. That seems to happen just as often.

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  55. Oh, please! :) There are lots of bad people in Denmark, and bad things happens in a small country too. Latest violence "trend" is to drive by in a car and shoot at innocent people who happens to at the wrong place at the wrong time. But it's true, not much child kidnapping takes place here. So when my teenage son complains that he has to ride his bicycle to his extra lessons in math, I tell him that since we pay a lot of money for his laziness that's the least thing he can do. And now he's proud of being in such a good shape. Ha! :)

    And I'm not holy as I stated in my comment. But the funny thing (for me, at least) is to compare the US to Denmark, the debate here is about what comes natural to most Danes. We live completely different and I think this is a great debate, since so many people are aware that it is wrong in one way or another.

    I did not want to offent you Americans, I just sit in my tiny European country and think many of your views are funny, since it is our daily life here.

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  56. No worries here; I was not offended. I like hearing what other people think. It's good to see things from a different perspective; it helps to make better decisions when you have more things to consider.

    Yes, there are bad people everywhere, and, I suppose, depending on the types of local crimes you deal with, each family will adjust their lives accordingly. The last place we lived I felt completely safe allowing my children to walk to school, ride their bikes all over, and take off to go play with their friends, and they were able to do those things. I miss being able to let them do that type of stuff, but I'm not comfortable allowing them to do those things where we live now. My two oldest ride their bikes in our direct neighborhoods, with the understanding that they are not allowed to stop for any reason. Sad, I know, but that's the only way I feel comfortable enough for them to at least ride their bikes around. We may be moving back to our previous location, YAY!

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