Tuesday, March 24, 2009

24 & 25 March 1955 "H.G. Well, Computers, A New Book, Cooking, Decorating and Chickens"

"At last I came under a huge archway and beheld the Grand Lunar exalted on his throne in a blaze of incandescent blue . . . The quintessential brain looked very much like an opaque, featureless bladder with dim, undulating ghosts of convolutions writhing visibly within . . . Tiers of attendants were busy spraying that great brain with a cooling spray, and patting and sustaining it . . ."
—H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon

The newest calculating 'brain' was installed in Monsanto Chemical Co.'s St. Louis headquarters. To IBM, it was the "Model 702 Electronic Data Processing Machine." To Monsanto and awed visitors, it was simply "the giant brain." Seated at its control console, a man has at his command the computing ability of 25,000 trained mathematicians.

In just twelve machine-hours the brain will do 1,200 cost reports that normally take 1,800 man-hours; in barely two hours it will complete a financial statement that takes a staff of accountants 320 hours. For Monsanto's chemists it will open up new horizons by rapidly working out complex equations to help discover new products, improve old ones, find out which of dozens of technically "correct" answers' to problems are the best.
[so it begins, the computer. Governments would have probably killed then to have 1/10 of the power that I am using to talk about how to clean your kitchen or make a cake. I hope we can now use our abilites to learn how best to be human so we can go forward with technology the right way. I used to think there was no 'right' way. Things were more subjective. Now, I know the right way is they way of Humans, community, and personal knowledge over endless faceless greed. I want Rosy the robot maid NOT the Terminator!]

I am very excited, as well you all should be, as I just got this in the mail today! I couldn't believe it when I found it on ebay. It is even better than I had hoped. It was published 1951. Just to give you a sample of what great things this book will be teaching us, this book goes into detail addressing the construction of rugs and how to make your own rugs! It is very thorough and I am really excited.There are even before and after shots of redecorating a room. This mingled with the previoius book I had posted about from 1908 will be a great comparrison of that time span and will cover all a 1955 woman would know from her grandmothers time to her 'present'. Be excited, as I am!

Here is my latest cake. I liked the recipe, but it was rather light because I used some squares of an actual chocolate bar instead of baking chocolate, as I normally do, and so it was lighter. My hubby, who does not like very sweet things, really likes it. The frosting is two kinds mixed. I made this new recipe, which was good, but I felt it was too runny, so I made up a batch of my 7-minute frosting (see previous blogs for recipe) and added this to it to make the frosting you see. It made a nice stiff frosting ( if you do make it, though, when you add the two frostings together, add a handful of confectioners sugar then let it sit for a good hour, it will bet a nice stiff consistency. It is a sweet frosting so paired nicely with the more mellow not-to-sweet cakes. It is nice to have a dessert always going, as vintage friend popped in last night as we were sitting down to dessert and I could dish her up a piece and a cupa and it was lovely.
This was a nice sidedish I just tried. I, of course, always have potatos in the house. There are some lovely ways to make them in my Boston Cooking School book from 1951. These were really good and I thought very 1950s as they have both a cream sauce AND pimentos in. It was yummy.
This is the white sauce recipe you use with the potato dish. I love what is says here: "Learn to make a perfect white sauce, not only for itself but because it is the basis of many sauces."
I am beginning to get to that point where I see cooking not as a bunch of random recipes, but a skill-set that you build up and then build out on. My attempts in the kitchen are beginning to result in my making up my own recipes. Last night I wanted to make a Ham and Cheese Souffle' but only had a recipe for a cheese souffle, so I began to think about what it takes to make a souffle rise and how it works and realized chunks of ham would not cut it. SO, I say my blender and it hit me, puree! So into the blender when the bits of ham I had diced and slices of sharp cheese and I just poured in what seemed the right amount of milk and ta-dah! This went into the other parts of the souffle. I will show pics and more of that tomorrow, now here is a picture of the original Pork Shoulder that I cooked with the above potate dish. It was so good. I slow cooked it for a few hours and basted it with, what else, brown sugar and syrup glaze. This is a bone in pork shoulder and I really prefer it to the precooked smoked boneless pre-cut hams. It cooks nicer and juicer and and you get so much more bang for your buck. I believe this 8 lb pork shoulder cost me around $7.00 on sale. We have had it for this meal. Then it went into two lunches for hubby, last night I used part of it to make my ham and cheese souffle and today the bone and the remainder of the meat will go into a bot to boil. From that I will get some great soup to eat and freeze and before it is a soup, I will take a cup or two of the stock and freeze that for future use. This is the kind of 'freezer' use I like. I really get so much out of one cut of meat. ALso, having the bone in is important. Any good chef will tell you that the meat and a stock and soup are only improved by having the bone in. The marrow and such add greatly to the taste. The skin being left on also really helps seal in the juices and I like scoring it. True, it looks like a pigs skin, because IT IS. I just feel, as I have said before, almost more honest about my food when it is in this form. Almost as if I am respecting the animal in a way by saying, yes you were alive and now you are going to feed my family. But, you know, we homemakers often have a running dialogue in our heads! Also the dogs LOVE this crispy skin. I will cut it up into strips and bake it crispy and the dogs love it AND they are cheaper than dog treats and I know there are no preservatives in.

This concept of really using as much of an animal is really part of my trying not to waste. I bought some lovely cow heart on sale yesterday. I saw it and it was only .70 cents so I bought two packages. I knew there had to be recipes for these in my cookbook and there are. I just think, why let this part of the animal go into the dumpster. We killed the thing, at least have the decency to eat as much of it as we can! I love organ meats, kidney liver brains etc, but I do not know if I have ever had the heart. So, it will be exciting to see what it tastes like. Some people might think "Ick the heart" but honestly, should we just throw away bits of the animal because we think they might be icky? They might not, and why not NOT waste MORE? What do any of you think? Have any of you had heart befor? I Adore sweetbreads and we know that is brain, but if you have never had it made properly in a french restaurant, you don't know what you are missing. There was actually a great little french restaurant tucked away in a basement in Boston that had the best sweetbreads. But, now I can simply try to make them myself. But, then when I do use the 'restaurant budget' you can bet it will be for something good, I mean I can make hamburgers, or whatever at home, I am only going to eat out now if I know I can have very well prepared foods beyond my own current skill level.

Now, onto some decorating:

Dorothy Draper gives us this advice for ceilings and wallpaper.

"As you select your wall paper it's a good time to decide aobut your ceiling. If you don't wnat to paper it, the ceiling can match the background color of the paper.Or it can match a dominant color in the pattern of the paper. For instance, in a room hung with flowered paper the ceiling might match the pink of the roses or the pale green of their leaves."

I know wallpaper is definitely having a renaissance right now, and brava or bravo, not sure what gender wallpaper is! Anyway, I have never ever hung wallpaper before, but I am determined to use it in my decorating scheme.Have any of you ever hung paper before? What am I getting myself into?

Aren't these dreamy wallpapers? I know I could never afford them, though I am writing to find out. They are from SecondHandRose in NYC. They are actual vintage papers NOT reproductions. I think if I paid alot for them, I might be scared that I would ruin them, but it is fun to dream. I am sure I can find some things that are similiar new.

I know this paper seems rather silly, but I ADORE it. I really want it for my first floor poweder room! I wanted to do it over in grey and pink. I already have a lovely silver accented mirror in there and could just see this in there along the top of a half wall of lucious pink tile! YES, I said PINK TILE! I know, but living in 1955 you really begin to have such lovely doll house fantasy's of pink! And, if you see, it still fits with my overall home scheme. The pink and red in the warm color, the touches of the blue I love in the plants and you can see the shades of brown and tan in some of the fish and everyroom whould have some black to ground it as this paper demonstrates. Have any of you paper in your bath and if so, how does it hold up. This would be for a powder room, so it is not as if peopel would be showering or taking long baths in there. [Addendum: I just recieved an email and this paper is $200.00 a roll! Wow, I think reproduction will have to do. That is out of my budget, plus now I am really going to try and redo this place with fleamarket, local thrift sale finds, the free dump shop, some paint fabric and cheaper wall paper and of course my 1955 Homemaking powers of creativity and ingenuity!

Speaking of the dump. I mentioned our dump as a great 'swap shop' where you drop off things you don't want but SHOULDN'T throw out. After all, one mans garbage IS another man's treasure. So, here is my hubby this past Sunday playing with his new free toy. It is a great early 1960s typewriter and it is truly portable. He already has visions of sitting in a chair in the yard, pipe in mouth with this little devil typing away. Free things...how fine, indeed.
Isn't this 1876 Copeland creamware dreamy?! The colors are wonderful. I am not sure if any of you noticed my french chair upholsterd in orange in one of my photos, but this would be perfect with that fabric.

I am certainly not in the market to spend on such things, but a gal can dream can't she. AND, if you are going to buy something precious that you don't NEED but just WANT, make it something with some intrinsic value because then you can always 'sell it off to uncle when your in need of some stumpy' as they say. You can find bargains. My 'good china' which is bought mostly due to is having my favorite blue in it, was not expensive, as I got it marked down at a sale in an old antique store, but as a set it could be sold for more than I paid for it, if I needed to.Or, if you have children, the joy of having things that were passed down is priceless. I know I have things that are not terribley costly that were, my grandfathers, but becuase of that, they are all the more precious to me. I think this idea of something you care for and have your whole life and leave to your children, is sort of missing a little today as well. Unless you are really wealthy, most things people buy today are throw-away. Yet, what we pay for computers today would certainly have been an expense our ancestors would have put onto somthing of real value that you could still own. I doubt lil Tommy will be happy to see in the will that he gets Nana's black and white 386 laptop. I know our modern technology can't but help be throw away, but I wonder, if you are not into video games with your computer, could we stop buying new computers now, at the current stage of technology, as they can handle graphics of youtube and Hulu, and are fine for emails, blogging an such. Could we honestly stop at some point. When I say, we, I mean anyone who thinks, you know, this computer is fast enough and cutting edge enough for me. I don't want to stop progress, but I also want to think for my family when is enough technology. Wait until computers are screenless or whatever space-age future they have and then buy a new one.
I really want to take my computer I have now and turn it into a sort of 'vintage look' with wood I can polish etc. There is a movement now of people who do this, called Steampunk. I guess I would want mine to be more Eams meets early american.

I was thinking today, no surprise there, that I really seem to come to this cross-roads everyday: What is ME and what is the character Me in 1955?
This project has just become so engrained, enmeshed into my life, that I often find myself confronting a new idea with a question, "wait, would I want to do that in 1955?"

Then I have to say to myself, "Look, Self"(housewives have often, intimate, and sometimes heated debate with themselves!) "You do not want to just try and be some one-dimensional 'character' or 'art piece' of what you think a woman in your circumstances in 1955 would do. You want to take on the aspects and ideas of her world and then see what YOU would do."

Case in point: I am now the proud owner of some chickens. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. The amount of eggs I go through is incredible, and I love the sound of the Rooster (though we have to make sure the ole' boy is locked away at night as he wakes up hubby and presumably some of the neighbors!)

So, I put to myself, "well, here I am a middle-class homemaker in 1955. My husband works in the city. We live in the country/suburbs. There is abundance everywhere, but I was a young lady during WWII. I know what rationing is and may therefore still have the habits of that time as well."

You see, I worry if I am trying to justify things that might seem like an ecological/safe or green thing to do know with what my 'character' would do in 1955. It is true keeping a garden and chickens certainly became suburban practice in the 1940's, but would I have worried about what the bridge club thought?

Then, I go one step further in this line of resoning ( My conversations with myself often go on for a long time, I am rather long-winded with myself!)"Honestly, I am not a character." I say, " I am a person and I really think the concepts, morays and ideals I am picking up are true to the time period and earlier and might seem like the 'in thing or green thing' now, only because we lost our way along that path somewhere. What seems like a modern 'green' concept, is really just natural living in 1955"

My point is this: Here I wanted to sort of make a character to portray to myself in order to experience history at first hand as possible. Now, the things I am learning are becoming such a part of me that I do not always see them as some character-set. This project has forced me to really face myself in the mirror and try to separate project from whom I thought I was. I realize, now, that only the project is forcing me to do somthing that we all SHOULD and will do:evaluate our life.

We are confronted daily with a barrage of information and physical stimuli. We are told what to eat, when to eat it, where to buy it, how much to pay etc. Overload of info at every street corner and we take it all in stride, but really it can often silence that voice in our head which tells us who we really are or what we would like to strive to be. Although, I am not truly in 1955, in some way I have shut off some of those voices. I no longer watch tv and that is a big distraction. The tv silences that voice in your head that tells you, "Hey, what are you doing GO LIVE YOUR LIFE, this is it, don't waste it tryin to decide what toothpaste to buy or if joe or sue are going to be the next american idol".

I also no longer read modern magazines. This, at first, I didn't really think about. Now, however, when I go to a modern bookstore, there are SO MANY MAGAZINES. Everything has a magazine. It is another way to separate out little bits of who we might be. An entire book on just kitchens for example. When I read my magazines and my homemakers manuals, they cover EVERYTHING in one book or issue. You can literally learn how to strip a chair down to its base, refoam and wire it etc. There was a certain level of ability that was just expected of you as a human being then, that now is almost gone. Think of the layers of skill we no longer use. Even cooking. It is not really that hard. Yet, we zombie ourselves to the store, buy prepared foods, pop it in the food heater (micro) and eat it in front of the tv while it tells us what better frozen meal to buy next. I know I know, another rant and all because of chickens!

I also now only listen to music before and up to 1950s. This at first, I thought, would be hard. I certainly think there are alot of great modern musicians out there. I adore Joanna Newsome, and I thought, "This will be hard". But what I have found is not that I listen to the same amount of music, but replace it with'oldies', but that, in fact, there are hours that go by in the day where I listen to nothing. I can be in my little sitting room having my afternoon 'homemaker break' with a cup of tea and a book and it is quiet. The dogs rustle in their heap of blankets. The parakeet rings its little bell, maybe the rooster crows. But, it is silence. It is as if I can hear the actual voice in my head.

The endless need for sound and visual stimuli has become such a normal part of modern society that I had not realized it until it was all shut off. I have to say, I really like silence. Now, I would probably go mad with it all the time, but I can see if I were in 1955 and I had children who would watch tv and such in the evening, during the day while they were at school, you could see how this would be a time of bliss for the homemaker. I think someone my age, too, would not have succumbed to the soap operas. I would have grown up without tv and of course had radio, but I would have had alot of freedom to use my imagination. I would have craved the silence during the day. Even in the grocery stores and such there is always music. One aspect I am upset about our little local store that I will be doing my marketing at next week, is since the renovated they added a flatscreen tv to the wall over the newspaper rack. WHY? It just sits there spewing 'news' over the printed news. This was not here last summer and this is a genuine old store. Crooked wooden floors, old shelves with canned goods individually priced with now scan bars, but now A flat screen tv? And they have taken away some of the seating where many locals would sit and chat over coffee or have a good town gossip, now what? Are we suppose to stand there and watch the news instead of converse? Very odd, indeed.

Even toys, which are really a big business growing in 1950s, begin to give the distraction to kids. To prepare them for the noise and information of adulthood and really on some level, take away a little of their silence.

As a child in the Depression, I would of had very little in the way of toys. Even if I were still staunchly middle class, I would have had nice dolls and miniture tea sets, surely, but that is most likely it. I would have had a freedom to go and run and be free that is no longer available to children. Even, during the 1950s, this was being discussed. The new generation of children were not given the freedom of their parents. Perhaps it was the war that scared the new mothers. Watching a child leave the house could feel as if they never would come back. I do know that I have no children now and we have no plan for any, but this is the point in my life where I have most thought about possibly having one. However, now I am not sure what I would do. I do not think I could raise my child completley in the modern world. Would it be unfair to the child, as he would then possibly not relate to others because of it, like Branded Frasier in that movie where he was raised in a bomb shelter completely free from modern norms. I used to not even think there was any big deal with video games, but now I cannot honestly say that I would even let him know they existed until he discovered them at a friends house, but I would want him to learn to play and create on his own first. SO, perhaps it is good we do not have children, maybe I would warp the poor thing into some sad vintage human who was self-reliant but unable to communicate with others as he who have no modern pop-references or know how to play video games. I have to hand it to all of you parents out there, how do you make the decisions on how to create and grow your child?

So, trying to get back to my main point: I am not a character, but a real person. I do not really live in 1955, but am trying to recreate as much of it as possible in so doing I am closing out alot of the 'modern world' and that is making me open my eyes, hear my own voice, and become, I hope, a better person. IF not better, at least someone I can respect.

Now, when I look in a book that says I can reupholster a chair, make a souffle', build a bookcase, make a rug, and also look pretty for my husband AND myself I don't think, "They were crazy back then." but "Oh, okay, I will try that tomorrrow and the next day add one more thing to that."

Life is for living not just watching.

I could see how I can come off as some sort of 'conspiracy theroist' when I make such statements as "THEY don't want you to entertain yourself" or "THEY don't want you to be skilled enough to make your own dress, your own rug and curtains and lampshades, do your own nails, grow your own food, etc" But, honestly, if we all learned to do HALF of what is in my latest Homemakers Handbook, we would spend alot less money by merely making things ourselves and wouldn't need the latest tv because we would be so busy living our lives and adding to our skills that we would laugh at the idea, "What? Sit in front of that thing for hours watching someone else live their life? I have jam to put up, I am braiding these rags from the ragbag to make a rug for the front hall, and I have to make a cake for the local charity, No thank you".

Have you wondered why reality tv is so big? It is because now it is allowing you to vicariously "LIVE" through others. It gives you the perception of whatever the life is they are portraying, all while you sit down and consume more products! I know, I did it.

I have found so far that when I come upon somthing that I think is going to be too hard or is a bit scary [like I am a little scared next week about only shopping local and keeping to my budget] that once I do the thing I find it was not hard but challenging and learning.I was actually a little worried about not getting to shop at my Stop and Shop (grocery store chain on the east coast) next week for my food. Then I just said to myself, "Self (see, you have to really sit yourself down somtimes and have a good heart to heart) Self," I said,"Stay in your dollar amount budget. If you have to buy LESS food, then so what? Make what you have stretch to fill the week. We are just so tricked into thinking that we have to have SO much around us and it is so easy to just pop down to the store and use our debit or credit card and just get 'a quick meal', when really we are spending more than we need to! Case closed. We buy too much. You cetainly would have had less in 1944 then 1955, so I just figure I will have to make do with what is in my icebox and my pantry next week.
When you do your own cooking you realize how meals are actually put together. You can see that if you are low on somthing or you have leftovers you know how to make it stretch and make it into a new meal. I honestly believe this very basic skill of cooking so so important to the money saving of the majority of America and yet there is no push nor need to learn it. Why is it required to read Dickens in school but not learn how to make three basic meals?

So, fianlly (I know I am like a rollercoaster of rant) back to my very original point: The Chickens. I don't know if A middle class homemaker in 1955 would have had chickens, but I know THIS middle class homemaker of the new 1955 does.

After hubby left this morning, I took my pile of scraps and a bucket of water and headed out to the little darlings. At the end of each day there is alwasy something that I won't give the dogs and won't make it for 'leftovers' that goes in a little bowl, "for the chickens'. In this way, not only am I making less garbage, but I am putting it into an animal that then uses it to produce that wonderful perfect ingredient for cooking: THE EGG. There is a feeling of connection when I do this. Again, maybe it is all the time I spend with myself thinking too much, but I stroll out (today it was bitterly cold) with my little bowl. Sometimes the dogs follow me, today they chose to stay bundled up in blankets. I pull open the door to their house and they come rushing out; the cluck cluck of their 'good-morning' and the confidence of the rooster. I open the door to their run and they come up to me, for I am the bringer of wonderful table scraps. Today they had the leftover pancakes (some of which went to the dogs as well) and the end of my romaine lettuce. A few green beans that didn't get eat last night. Then, there is that magical moment, when I go into the chicken house and see, in perfect little circular nests ( I swear they make honest to goodness perfect little nests out of the hay I give them. I don't use straw, I think it is too picky, and the hay smells so wonderful) lay the eggs. Like magic, there they sit waiting to be made into souffles and breakfasts and yummy cakes. How distanced we have come from our food.

I know not everyone can have chickens where they live, but you would be surprised that people even in the city, keep chickens. I guess it is a new thing that many people are trying to lift the bans in their cities to allow them to keep chickens (just hens NO roosters, as you know you don't need a rooster, but ours was an accident and so I am gonna keep him. I actually thought of eating him, but I really think he does a good job of protecting my gals) If any of you have the land or the opportunity, go for it! If you don't like it there are ALWAYS people looking for good laying hens. The satisfaction from watching these pets that provide for you table is worth it ten-fold and their feed is quite cheap especially when supplemented with your table scraps.

So, I am not telling anyone what to do or how to live their life, there is plenty of that IN your life already, but even if just for one day, turn off the tv the radio, grab an old book (no modern magazines) and see what you hear inside. Think, "what if this were my everyday? Would I go batty without my show. I need to watch this or that. I don't want to not have distraction!" See what all that noise is really hiding. I think when someone cannot live without distraction, they are trying to silence something in them. Just listen to that something, it might be the real you screaming to get out and live.

Well, that is my rant for today.
Until tomorrow, happy homemaking, and listen to your inner voice, it might be trying to get your attention.


  1. What an awesome post today. The way you step away from being a mere 1950's character and truly ponder what YOU, the 1950's individual, would think during daily life...so intriguing it almost blows my mind.

    I am also tired of upgrading electronics for the sole reason to upgrade. Do we need every advancement? No.

    As far as kids, it almost seems like the world conspires against parents. Just when you think you've made a decision, the main stream media or heck, even the school district, allows/encourages something you'd never thought would be considered "OK." The village that supposedly "helps" raise kids is on acid or something...it's scary out there and I don't just mean the identified predators.

    I think you've mentioned this before, but just the fact that you have warmed up to 50's decor is testament to advertising and the affect exposure has on our opinions. Advertising does form us to an extent, whether we like it or not.

    I'm happy for you and the chickens. Waste not, want not.

    Working hard at www.sccworlds.com

  2. Ahem. (Throat clearing for the sake of a brief rant of my own.) The "What Can A Poor, Powerless Parent Do" school of parenting drives me batty. My husband and I have two children who have no TV/video games/nasty, "kid friendly" food in their lives. DH and I assume that WE'RE the parents and we get to decide what's in our children's long-range best interest. Our son thinks his life would be better with an iPod and a DS but he's 8 and I'm 38. It's my job to know his adult years will be infinitely better if he loves books, isn't overweight and has a long attention span.

    Both of our children have a wide variety of friends, converse easily with adults, eat kale and don't seem to be suffering any ill effects from their vintage lifestyle. Take courage, parents!


  3. I truly believe it is possible to raise a family with old fashioned values. We may not dress like the 1950's but I believe our lifestyle is very traditional to 1950's. I don't necessarily "love" to cook but I make homemade food because I love the flavor. If I eat a food at a restaurant that I like - I try to make it at home from scratch because it always tastes fresh and far better quality than I can buy premade and frozen in the grocery store.

    My children know about video games but they don't play them often as they mostly prefer to interact with one another. They love books and board games because we play board games together as a family and reading is part of our daily lifestyle so much so that our youngest child at 2 thought something must be wrong because "everyone" knows how to read - why don't I?

    I think the key to raising children is to teach them responsiblility to themselves and others, courtesy, manners, compassion, love, charity, respect, etc. but most of all to spend family time together. As a parent we must be consistent with our expectations as to what constitutes good behavior and be prepared to deal with inappropriate behavior swiftly.

    Congratulations on your chicken flock. I wish I could have chickens. They are such a joy.

  4. I have to say that I really enjoy reading the rants, and your right, its amazing what you hear in the silence. I wanted to say that I have hung up wall paper before, I was about 16 or so and it came out crooked but I think that was because I had lack of cordination and I didnt have a very big bucket of water. Its not that hard, I think you could do it. Isnt it amazing all the things you feel you can do when you dont have tv? My hubby and I are going to try to make our own head and foot board for our bed, vintage or at least vintage looking...of course!

  5. Rant on girl! Get it all out!

    Bathroom wallpaper: Just be sure your first sheet is "plumb line" straight! I've had papered bathrooms (not vinyl either!) for years and love it.

    Silence: My 50's mom occasionally had a record playing. My husband's family always had a radio with western music playing. Other families had musical members who played piano or whatnot. It really was a "case by case" function. I still prefer silence, while my family likes sound.

    DIY: 50's neighbors shared skills: one neighbor knew leatherworking and taught belt and purse making, another knew gardening, another upholstery...plus there were often "adult ed" type classes offered through County Extension agency (home economist were the teachers) who taught home skills in cooking,sewing, decorating etc.

    Chickens: Apartment dwellers might consider raising quail instead. The little jelly bean sized eggs are tasty treats raw, hard cooked, or scrambled and each quail produces its own unique pattern of egg. I've had suburb neighbors raising chickens for eggs, most loved it, until the chickens moulted or got sick. I'm tempted to try a chicken at least once!

  6. I love to read all the cooking and recipe parts of your blog posts. I am not much of a cook and I am trying to improve. I've ordered a couple vintage cookbooks due to interest of recipes you've posted and I can't wait to get them! One is for breakfasts, brunches and morning coffees and one is for refrigerator desserts - my grandmother always had fresh dessert and I would love to find a few quick and delicious recipes to use in my rotation.

    Great post!

  7. P.S. - I am jealous of your chickens. I have been lobbying for a few for our yard for some time (Buff Orpingtons, I think) , they are great for gardeners keeping nasty little pests at bay, they are fairly self-reliant and don't need a lot of room. And they give you fresh EGGS! Both my grandmothers had chickens and there is nothing like cooking with and eating fresh eggs.

  8. For the record, I don't come from the "What can a Poor, Powerless Parent Do" school of parenting, either. Just sayin'...so much seems like a conspiracy against parents, that's all.

    8 years old is an innocent, fun age. The real fun comes when they learn to drive and then...away to college. At some point, you will not have control. Yeah, I know...they will do the right thing because that's how they've been taught. Pray you're right. You will never know 100%. You'll always be a mother, but they will not always be children. Then, all you are left with is prayer.

    Parenting is hard. I don't care how tough you are.

    (now my rant's over)


  9. Wow, I have been out in the yard all day today-HEAVEN!! wiht my vintage friend working on my veg garden, putting up fence etc. So many things to respond to, will do so later. I am definitely pro-chicken. I have one orpington, she is great. I have only four hens and a rooster and they keep me stocked up. It is amazing, though I do not have any spare to share. I amy add a few more hens this summer. They are esy to care for and their droppings are GOLD in the garden! In fact, I will clean out the chicken house this week and get that into my soil soon. I also lost some Koi this winter as it was colder than usual, but hey, they are still a part of this yard, their little corpses going into the garden and providing the plants with nourishment to feed us this summer. It was a great yard day today, I hope if anyone had sun they were able to enjoy it.
    I also am amazed at all you parents. You sound like you know what you are doing. As I said, I would NEVER presume to give one ounce of advice as that is one job that you have to actually do before you can teach I believe. I do know that were hubby and I to change our mind about children, it would be hard in that I really think I would raise the child 'vintage'. I don't know that I could not. It is all very hard.

  10. Hi, Donna- Sounds like a wonderful day working on your garden. It's cool and cloudy here so I'm a bit jealous.

    First, I loooove the wallpaper. Too bad it's so pricey. Perhaps if you tell them about this project they'd give it to you for 1950's prices? Just kidding, but a girl can hope, right?

    As for raising a vintage child, well it sounds nice but unless we lived on a farm in the country I think it's be hard. I limit my kids' tv and computer time but there's so much they hear about from their friends I think it's better if I guide them thru it rather than hide them away. For instance I really don't like some of the Disney shows but I use them to point out things and ask them questions about what they'd do in a similar situation. We also talk a lot about how tv shows are just that- a show and not real life. And what's included for ratings, capture the audience, and marketing of other Disney shows and products. We also talk about the commercials that they are constantly exposed to and that we don't need everything that's advertised, or how a product may not work the way it's shown on tv.

    One thing I love about our neighborhood is it feels old fashioned. It's an old neighborhood- most of the homes built in the 1930's and 40's. Many kids walk home from school or ride their bikes or scooters. It's really sweet so see the throngs of kids skipping along, laughing. Some parents walk with their kids but many don't. It feels safe here, which is sometimes a false sense of security I know, but most mothers are SAHM so there's always someone around to help. We also have block parties, ladies cocktail parties, and it's not uncommon for new neighbors to receive Welcome to the Neighborhood treats. So even if my kids watch some of those over the top Disney characters they live in a distinctly different world- and I mean different in a good way.

    Well, I think having chickens would be fun. But I have a question- you mentioned having a rooster by mistake. Don't you need a rooster so the hens lay eggs? Or do I need to learn a little more about the biology of poultry?

    A family on our street had a rooster for a while, even though our village prohibits farm animals as pets. They got a chick as an Easter gift and then the chick grew up. We live further down the street so the cockadoodaldoo-ing was quaint, not annoying. No one said anything but I think they figured out that their immediate neighbors were tired of the noise. Our houses are very close together. If my neighbor has her kitchen curtains open I can see into her fridge. So, as you can imagine, a loud rooster at 5 am would be a problem.

    On another note- I have a 1940's copy of The Womans Home Companion Cook Book. It's lovely. I didn't know they made a housekeeping book too. If I remember correctly Womans Home Companion is a magazine too. Have you any seen any?


  11. S-I actually have Many womens home companion magazines and love them. And NO you don't need a rooster to get eggs, just fertile eggs. It's like a woman gets rid of her eggs but with a man she may have a baby, get it?
    Your neighborhood sounds like a dream! You sound very lucky. I, too, do not like Disney and I think it a good idea to let your children watch but then train them to see the reality of things. I guess that is really just the idea behind the whole thing, that you teach children to question and really evaluate situations. I think I may never be a mother, and before I would try I have a lot of decision making to do about how to raise and educate them. It is tough, I imagaine. Luckily, we do have close neighbors, but not close enough to see in one anothers homes and we also have a country feeling around here. It is really a summer place, where I live. I suggest chickens to anyone to try, they are a treat and especially if you have children, to teach responsibility and the fun of watching a chick grow to a full size chicken etc.

  12. This was a great post. You give me so many ideas. I have wall papered for years with the paper wheat paste style and a no match pattern is the easiest if you have never done it. If it is a match pattern then some times you have to drop match meaning drop the pattern down at each on going sheet and this causes some waste. In any case it is a great lesson. Be patient. Keep in mind a bathroom (with tub and or shower) can cause mold behind the paper to form if you do not have a fan. In a lav, as we now call a half bath, you would be ok.
    As for the chickens, they are lovely. Being from New England originally, I like Rhode Island Reds. I have some now but may have to give them up as I am moving. So sad. Looking forward to more blogs. Do consider writing a book about your year. It would be great. Sign me up for a copy!

  13. "First, I loooove the wallpaper. Too bad it's so pricey. Perhaps if you tell them about this project they'd give it to you for 1950's prices? Just kidding, but a girl can hope, right?"

    S, I had a good chuckle over what you said here. I could just imagine the pause they would have when asked the question. Wouldn't it be great if they actually did that?

    Also, it sounds like we raise our kids very similarly. We limit their tv and game time as well. We also discuss the rights and wrongs of a movies as long as the movie in general is okay. This is a good way to teach the kids how to discern life around them.

    Raising kids well really has to do with being actively involved in your child’s life; actually raising them, not sitting on the lines and hoping for the best. It is our responsibility to teach and guide them. We have never been the type of parents to tell our kids, “Because I’m the Mom/Dad and I said so.” We explain our reasons to the kids and teach them the logic behind our decisions. They may not always agree with our reasons or explanation, but they still have to respect our decision. There are times when we have changed our mind about something because the kids pointed out a logical reason for us to do so. As long as they don’t challenge our authority as parents, we have no problem with them challenging our reasons if they really think our reasons are wrong, etc. This has been a great lesson for them in learning how to have respectful, fair conversations with others based on facts and not just letting their emotions blind them to reality and simply argue. Like I said, as long as they remain respectful, especially of our final decision after a thought out discussion, we have no problem listening to their “arguments” and allowing them to learn, through their conversations with us, how to use logic and reason in conversations with others. They have become very good communicators, and have learned in the process how to be fair themselves in the decisions they make which affect others, not simply doing whatever they feel like. This relationship we have with our kids pours out into every aspect of life, helping us to help them use logic in seeing why we make the decisions we do for their lives, which helps them to understand the decisions we make for them without resentment…even if they wish it didn’t have to be that way. For example, with computer games, they would love to play more, but we explained our reasons for limiting them, including the scientific finding on the negative affects that it has on the brain. They understand, and respect our decision, but it doesn’t stop them from wishing it would be okay for them to play as much as they want to. Just having the understanding of our whys keeps their wishing from becoming resentment that they are not getting what they wish for.

    Anyhow, 50sgal, I’m sure you would make a great Mom as long as you balance out the way you live your life with the logic and reasoning that kids need to be okay with the decisions that their parents make for them.

  14. My grandmother had pink tile in the kitchen, now I will have to find the pictures of it, but rant away!!!

  15. I had an epiphany recently when my pediatrician recommended I give vitamin D supplements to my baby. The doc said that some children are getting rickets because they have sunscreen slathered on all the time. I asked my doc if getting some sunshine a few times a week would take care of vitamin D. She said yes. So now I slather sunscreen at the beach, but not for our daily play/walks in the Northeast!
    What I'm trying to say is that some of the ways you are labeling "vintage" might actually be moderation if you compare across a few decades. So I go for moderation in what I do with my children. Like, my daughter likes to watch videos at Grandma's house, but we don't have a TV. Like using sunscreen on the blazing beach but not at the park. I make lots of vegetables, whole grains, cook from scratch and that is what we eat - not a separate meal for the kids, but often a cake or cookies around too. My daughter is 3 and she eats everything.

  16. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has conversations with myself. ;o)

    I don't have my own chickens, but buy my eggs from a friend's parents off the farm. We have our own beef. There is a difference in farm-fresh food, as compared to mass-produced.

    I thought of your shop-local challenge for next week. I try to do that when I can, but as you know sometimes the budget demands finding the best price, wherever.
    I will participate if I can.

    Oh and quiet....love it! Especially in the warm months when I can hear the birds, the cattle coming home to drink, a car driving by, and the breeze in the trees.
    It's restful to the spirit to have a quiet household.

  17. Well, I know both my grandmother and my mother-in-law had chickens in the 40's, 50's, and 60's in the suburbs. So, yes, a middle-class housewife would have chickens.

    Our neighbors had a flock of chickens that loved to roam in our backyard. I LOVED watching them squeeze through our picket fence. It was pretty funny looking. Unfortunately, the coyotes and dogs picked off the chickens one by one (we had a rooster up in our tree for about a day after it had been chased by a pit bull).

    If it weren't for the dogs and coyotes, we'd probably have chickens.

  18. I just love your blog! :) I've told you before, but I will tell you again. It is long posts but I love every part of it, and I take notes to remember to comment on what I want to comment on, here we go:

    Hearts are my favourite dish, but they have to cook for very long. If it is whole hearts give them about three hours in a pot, if it is thick slices give them 1½ hour. It is the strongest, fatless and most delicious muscle on the animal, so it is just old-fashioned people who doesn't like plucks who will not eat them.

    Having a ceiling painted a colour that matches the wallpaper, why haven't I ever thought of that before??? Such a lovely idea, but I suppose it has to be pastel colours. In Denmark the ceilings are always white. And putting up wallpaper is not that hard, you just have to be careful to watch the pattern fits. Go to the internet, I'm sure there are "how to do's" for you. Be also careful using that long flat brush to get all bubbles out of the paper when mounted on the wall.

    Congrats on the chickens, sounds like a party having them in your home. And stay to that rooster, if the neighbours don't complain, because he makes the hens happy. :)

    I often think of the Depeche Mode song: "Enjoy the silence", I hate that the TV is on if no one is watching, but we almost always have the radio on. I love love love vintage music: Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sam Cooke (my favourite), Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole - all the vintage crooners. They put me in such a good mood, but I also adore the silence, especially when being home alone. It pampers my mind.

    You said: "I do not think I could raise my child completely in the modern world." No one thinks they can, but we all can! We all grow with the task, if not, no children would be born. I was a child-hater until I was 28, I thought they were ugly, they smelled and they were noisy (I really did)! But then I think my clock started ticking, so at almost 30 I got son. And I had never ever babysitted, so I knew absolutely nothing about children. Just trust your intuition.

    We have always had an egg-timer on the TV/pc/videogames, then it was out and play, climp the trees, ride your bicycle or roll your scates - use your fantasy, boy! But I think TV in Denmark differs very much from the US. I've heard that a Dane watches 2.45 hours TV on average a day, I don't even watch 2 hours a week!!! Normally, DH and I watch a great movie once a week, and normally on Sunday evening, when we are tired and want to have a cosy time before starting the new work week. Ohh, work, I will go to work again next Wednesday, ough! :( This weekend we will visit my lovely little cottage at Moen, it is my mum's birthday, so it'll be cosy.

    Gotta work on my Microsoft certification, I keep failing, stupid questions that have nothing to do with reality! :(

    Have a lovely weekend - and I must say I love the way hubby and typewriter matches your other blue things! :)

  19. Fantastic blog! So glad to have discovered you. I can see I am going to spend quite some time catching up with your other posts!
    Isabelle x

  20. With regards to raising a child "vintage." Hmm, I don't dress "vintage", Cath Kidston is about my limit, but my home is full of old things (I'm a collecter, as you know), I'm a pretty dedicated housewife, so therefore our family relationships could be said to be vintage, although I'm politically left-wing my moral values are extremely conservative by today's standards (deplore "hook-up culture" believe that society needs to be more civil and modest and less materialistic so on and so forth)so I suppose you could say I do lead a vintage lifestyle.

    I think if you want to raise children in a vintage way you need to ask yourself, "why?" My insinct is that you're embarking on this 1950s journey less because of your aesthetic values and more because of your moral ones. You've talked on your blog about costume and self-resepct, community values, family life, less materialism and so on, forgive me if I'm wrong, but is it the old-fashioned social attitudes of the 1950s which appeal? If this is so then it is perfectly possible to raise a child in such a way and would be a very good upbringing indeed (if I do say so myself)!

    The values that a child learns in this kind of home equip him/her to go into the outside world with confidence, knowing that they are valued and that they should value others, that relationships matter more that material goods and that ceativity and imagination are important skills.

    In terms of practicalities. I walk my kids to school, I cook them proper meals, they have a limited use of the telly*, we play board games on a Saturday night and go for walks in the country for fun, they have a set bed time, say grace before meals, enjoy all sorts of projects. They're not perfect kids, but I'm not a perfect mum , and so far, although the eldest has remarked that we live a little differently** to some of her friends I've always explained to her the reasons why.

    However, I have always allowed them to choose their own clothes (as long as we don't have any Bratz-style outfits) and have always allowed grandparents to buy DS consoles and games and so on.

    *I'm the boss of the telly, if I don't like the programme shown then they have to turn over or turn it off.

    **No trips to Disney (SAHM can't afford flight to Florida and expensive two week stay), strict bed-times and no watcing Little Britian until you're 15!

    Well, I hope this helps. Good luck with your experiment in living!

  21. First off, thanks again everyone for wonderful comments. I sometimes look forward to reading the comments on my blog as if it is the morning chit chat over coffee with the girls (and boys as sometimes they do comment and I appreciate it we need male input too!)
    Jeanne-My MIL had Rhode Island Reds. I don't have any now, but my favorite are the Aracaunas, they have adorable 'beards' and lay beautiful colored eggs, also one polish and one buff orpington and our Rooster, I believe he is a chochin, is so beautiful I just might enter him in the county fair this year, how is that for vintage fun!
    PL-thanks for the vote of confidence for motherhood (though still no plan as of yet.)Wouldn't it be great if they did that! I don't think they would, I suppose I could aske them and tell them I would mention them on the blog, but I already did!
    Margo-that is amazing, I never thought about that. I guess moderation in all things is what is good. That is why it is silly to think, "Oh, butter and bacon, so bad for you" but in moderation it is not and in fact butter is so much better for you than the imitation margerine whip they sell nowadays. I see they had it in the 1940s and really pushed it in the 1950s, but again, it was money driven. It was cheap and easy to make as you need to get no diary, just chemicals and food coloring. Moderation is good.
    Kay-It must be lovely to hear the cows moo, do any of them wear cowbells, that sound always makes me think of bucolic paintings of 19th american or the french paintings, happy smiles of ladies in large dresses whipping in the air, a shoe a loft, silk breechs and cows lulling in the background. Too much Art History, probably.
    Dr. Julie-Ann-was your MIL also the one who had the maid? That is good to know, now I can have my chickens and still feel I am appropriate to my project. You could have chickens, by the way, just not free range, or if you free range them, make sure you have a sound chicken house for them to come home and roost in. When you get them as chicks they are under a brooder (heat lamp) and if you keep them in the chicken house until they are older before you let them out, they will sort of imprint upon that building and know it is 'home'. Then at night they will go in there to sleep, you close and lock the door and no deaths, though you may still lose one here and there, my chickens have an eclosed run. I would love to let them free range in my yard, and once I get all my fencing up I have planned, I might try it. However, they will go wherever they can fly and though it is not very high, they could go over a low fence. They are happy in their run, though, and I have shrubs and things planted in there and when summer comes they will get piles of cut grass and all the weeds plucked from the garden and any worms I dig up that I might want to give them (though as a gardener you want those left around, but the chickens deserve a little treat now and then) It is hilarious to watch them eat spaghetti!
    Don't get my started on chickens, I could write a blog just about chickens! and I have enough to do already ;)
    Sanne-Thank you again, for loving my blog. I always look forward to your comments and your letters! I am glad you have had heart. I think I may try cutting it into strips and pan frying it (it is one of the recipes I have in my cookbook) and see how it turns out. I love sweetbreads served on greens so maybe I could serve that heart that way. I really am trying to think of all the parts of the cow we should be eating and NOT wasting. There are so many recipes for ox-tail soup and I don't know if I could even find an oxtail. It sounds like your natural mothering talent just kicked in, I am not sure if that would happen with me. I guess there is only one way to find out, but we are not sure if that is a path we want to take.
    Suzys vintage attic-Welcome and I hope you enjoy yourself. We are all friends here and in our virtual coffee klatch we can vent about anything.
    Dolce Domum-You sound like a great and thinking parent. You are missing NOTHING by not going to Disney. I know some people might get mad at me, but there is so much I do not like about Disney. They legally had copyright law extended to 75 years beyond the death of the copyright holder. They are so worried that they won't make money from every aspect of their 'work' and what is funny is most of their early cartoons are just rip offs of other peoples copyright, The little Mermaid for example! The cost, the lines, the plastic, the waste, I think your family is better not going. I can't see a better example of a wasteful overconsuming society that refuses to grow up better exhibited than through Disney. And, I don't really like the message in many of their works. I know, I know people will be upset, but this is our Coffee Klatch, so I can vent. Love everyone, love.
    and Dulce, you are right, it does seem the morals and intrinsic respect for other humans that I do covet from the past, although I think part of that, as you too mentioned, is dress. I think when you care enough to 'dress up' for yourself for any old day, even if only you and your family sees you, is part of that self-respect, and honestly, don't they, those most dear to you, also deserve to see you at your best? Why save it for strangers and special holidays?!

  22. 50'sgal, if I were to dress "vintage" it would be 1930s...Homer Simpson-style drooling going on here over crepe print bias cut frocks...

    Anyway, I think your thoughts on clothing can also be extended to other aspects of formality. For example, sitting down to a family meal, setting the table, treating each other as we would a guest...consideration, manners and so on. We should do this because we value and respect those we choose to live with, those we care for and love.

  23. So true Dulce Dormum, in fact every morning hubby and I sit down to a well cooked breakfast (by me!) with linen napkins, appropriate cutlery, and civil conversations. The last minute rush of cold cereal and disaray is a thing of the past, or should I say a thing of the present, and we are happily sat down in the past, being civil, napkins on laps and doors being held open, please and thank you's all round!

  24. There haven't been any maids in my family (unless you count the cleaning service I had for a short time when I was in grad school). None of the middle class people I knew had maids so I struggle when you talk about middle class women having had maids. Upper middle-class, I can see, but no one that I knew growing up in the 60's.

    I come from women who had careers (my maternal grandmother even owned several beauty shops) AND were able to be successful homemakers, too, without a lot of fuss and bother about it.

  25. About your chickens flying - if you clip their wing feathers on one side they can't fly high enough to go over the fence. It doesn't hurt the chicken.

  26. oh, anonymous that is great and Dr Julie, I guess it was some other commenter, she said her mother or mil was middle class with three children (some daughters) who went to college and they had a maid growing up. I thought it was you. Also, it doesn't matter, as the interview misunderstood me and I actually don't have 'gussie' any longer. She is, of course, around, but there is no regular days like we had before, so I guess I am bumped from upper-middle to just plain ole middle again!

  27. Welcome to the plain ole middle class...we missed you! *big grin*

  28. Wonderful post, again.

    I agree with you about much modern media. I have a theory that the sudden glut of "hard job" reality shows (Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest catch, the ones about loggers, etc.) is due to the fact that so many people just pass their days in offices, doing abstract tasks. The thought of doing something physical, outdoors, and more "real" holds appeal or at least interest.

    I would also love to have chickens!

    Sorry to be commenting on old posts, I was out of town (in NYC) for a long weekend.


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