Saturday, April 4, 2009

4 April 1955 “Taxes, Work, and Remodeling”

This is from the April 4, 1955 Time magazine and thought it was interesting:

In 1949 Joan Ring of Clayton, Mo., a 17-year-old high-school student, made a pilgrimage to the shrine at Lourdes, France, where the Roman Catholic Church has officially affirmed miracles of healing. Joan, a devout Catholic, had undergone an operation for cancer and was seeking "spiritual help" for recovery. A little more than a year after her visit to Lourdes she had completely recovered. When they filed their joint 1949 income tax, Joan's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Vincent P. Ring, claimed the cost of the trip to Lourdes ($2,787.19) as a medical expense.

Last week the U.S. Tax Court, in a precedent-setting opinion ruled that the cost of Joan's trip could not be deducted. Before Joan went to Lourdes, said the court, "she appears to have been making a normal recovery without need for further medical services." The ruling implied that even if a church-accepted miracle had occurred, the trip's expenses would not be deductible. The court found nothing in the law "disclosing intent to treat as an expense for medical care the cost of travel to a place for the purpose of seeking spiritual help."

What do you think about it? Should she have been able to deduct it? Was it part of her healing? Also, can we, today, deduct medical costs? I don’t know.



housewife pic I was thinking I need to really list more of what I do everyday as part of my blog. Every week I add another item or chore to make it ‘second nature’ and part of my routine. Now, I often do more in the first half of the day in 1955 than I would do in three days or a week in 2008. I like that they are becoming commonplace to me, in that I don’t think to list them, but today I was really just thinking about it. Remember, always look back to look forward and appreciate today! So simple and yet SO effective.

So, here it is noon on Saturday. I awake at 8:00 I have started to instigate a routine on weekends, as during the week I was very regimented, but then come weekends we were willy nilly. Now I don’t want to be, as I have said before, a time Nazi, but really more structure usually results in more accomplishment which equals happiness  at the end of the day. So, during the week I am up at 7:00 thus on Saturday and Sunday up at 8:00. I feel better, and really I think it is better for my hubby, as he enjoys writing and the weekends are his main time to indulge in it, so wasting the day in bed often leads to more regret than restfulness. Now, back to my day: Up at 8:00, made steak and eggs and toast. Juice, Coffee, table laid breakfast at 8:30. Then, after breakfast, my hubby and I , as we were not being slug-a-beds, had just finished a nice breakfast in our pajamas and could sit back, enjoy our coffee and talk. And we did. We had a good hour long talk about many things, some of which I want to discuss this week such as, art and the aspects of consumer culture etc. Then, he was off for his morning run, while I attacked the kitchen. Dishes washed, counters scrubbed, floor vacuumed (I love my Kirby) swept and mopped with my ‘Busy Gal’ cleaner (just inexpensive store brand pine-sol). Next, the bedroom. Close the windows which were open to air the room and blankets, make the bed, put a clean set of pajamas under our pillows. Put away clothes on our dressing chairs from night before ( I stopped doing it the day of, as I had seen it is good to air your clothes as well, as if they are not going into the laundry hamper, they need a good airing before joining their compatriots in the closet.) Kirby the rug and floor and then shower time. Today is ‘hair washing day for me’, so I did that, dressed and set my hair for tonight (it is our Vintage dinner and at Vintage friend’s house this evening, so no dinner cooking for me tonight!)Then, off to the new dining room. Sanded the patched holes from last night and reapplied a second coat of wall patch.  Removed base-boards (they are just the hideous builders boards, as we call them, that they always throw on inexpensive construction. It will be replaced by a nice thick 8” baseboard, applied and sanded and eventually painted by me.) Now, a toast and jam, a cup of tea and I am sat down to write this blog. All by noon on Saturday.

It was only when I stopped and was planning the rest of my day that I thought, wow, think of me April 2008!I really can do much more than I ever thought. Learning to budget time and not getting distracted with tv is amazing. It is like gaining super powers or something. “Faster than a Swiffer, able to leap through projects in a single bound, Quicker than a microwave, it is Vintage Housewife!” Now, there is a superhero I can get behind! Flying is great and all, or seeing through steel, but making an entire meal form scratch, baking a cake, ironing, rebuilding a room and still being all dolled up for lunch with the girls? That is amazing! And the best part, it is actually attainable. I don’t think I will ever master flying, but I can do the other. We homemaker should form our own Superhero Legion.

Now, as for part of today I will be working in the new dining room. Inspired by the wonderful flikr site here that one of you was kind enough to lead me to, I am trying to document me more. This site has all these wonderful photos taken by the fellow’s mother. She is still living and writes such wonderful stories to go with the photos that her son is putting up. She was a photographer and documented her early marriage and projects and their son. I am really enamored of her and am finding some interesting parallels between us, so I am going to endeavor to do more images, though staged as she herself did, of my exploits.

donna plastering Thus, here I am plastering in the future dining room. I had to bug hubby to get this shot, but I dug out my old tripod and am determined to use it again. The wonderful lady at the flikr site I mentioned, staged many of her own shots and used a tripod, so there is no reason I cannot do that, as well. I would like, at the end of this year, to have a pictorial record of my accomplishments. I realize doing this project WHILE I am renovating seems crazy, but what a great time to do it, really.  I am really learning time management this year!

Here are some of the holes I have to deal with in the new dining room.holes 1 holes 2

I am really going to consider this the first real ‘re-decorating’ room for this project. The future dining room is in fact a small room off the kitchen hall that was serving as my husbands study. He is now, happily I might add, safely tucked away in his new study which is easily twice the size of this room. He is surrounded by leather, pipes, tobacco, typewriters and computers, in other words he is in his own version of heaven. Now, the new dining room has also served as a second kitchen in this house. This house we have only lived in briefly before our return to the Cape. It was always a rental/summer house. We even divided it into a duplex and when we first moved back last March, we lived on one side until our tenants lease ran out. So, the kitchen for one side of the duplex is now going to be the new dining room. Walls have come down awhile ago (before 1955) to turn the house back into one house rather than a split house. So, this room is rough. There are large holes in the wall, as evidenced by this picture. That is the whole where the plumbing had to be brought through for the kitchen sink that sat in here, now I have , smartly I think, had the plumber bring the plumbing back into the closet of this room and it will become a wet bar. There will be a place for pretty bar ware (vintage of course) and all the wine glasses, and it will be nice, I think, to have running water in the dining room. For drinks and, well, water. So, I wanted to just show some of the bad holes and mess of the room so that when it is done, you can experience what a change it has undergone. I bought all the lumber I need today, decided on the two paint colors, the sky blue for the walls above the wainscot and the ceiling. This will be the backdrop for my mural and the sky ceiling. The woodwork below as well as my antique corner cabinet( I got this at a great deal when we still lived in the city when I was ‘antiquing on the cape’, having no idea where I was going to put it, but somehow I must have known this dining room would be in my future.) This will receive the same color as the woodwork, as will this antique dresser I now use in my kitchen. They will be trimmed out and essentially become built ins in the dining room. I have not yet decided on a fabric for the dining chairs which will also cover one of my wing chairs. The room is fairly small, but I have made room for a corner with a wing chair. I just think a comfortable chair in most rooms is important, even in the kitchen. You often find yourself wanting a comfortable place to sit down and I can see the dining room full of guests after a vintage dinner, cards and drinks and a nice set down on the soft chair watching the fire. There is no fireplace now in this room, but my plan is to install these wonderful vent free gas logs in each room. (well, my plumber will install them, they need to be plumbed to gas)They are nice as they have actual flame with real looking logs and they also heat wonderfully and thus we won’t have to rely on electric heat. And, who ever heard of a proper dining room without a fire? We use our dining room a lot and being able to have a fire at a push of a button will be nice.


woman writing at desk I want to have a day for correspondence, as many of you have been nice enough to write me ‘snail mail’ so I can experience such communication as I would in 1955. I keep putting off getting to all of it, and I thought, “how would I deal with this 1955 style? Easy, just make it part of my day. My routine can be set by me, so gosh darn it, set it!”

I was going to do it on Sunday, as that is often a nice relaxing day around here, but really I need to address it more during my week. So, I think Monday mornings, pre-blog post kitchen cleanup will be my letter time. I even have this darling desk set to help me!deskset box


Well, I need to enjoy this ‘cooking free day’ and get back to my dining room project and back to my garden. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and I will see you again come Monday.

Happy Homemaking.


  1. You've inspired me to be more productive with my weekends (once Baby #4 is sleeping through the night...)!

    Oh, and yes. We can still deduct medical expenses from our taxes. My husband and I use Turbo Tax, and that makes it much simpler.

  2. Thanks once again for your posts. They are so inspiring. I have only found out within the last few years that long sleep-ins on weekend mornings lead to 'more regret than restfulness'. I love your time managment tips and examples from your own life. (Your superhero anaology was apt too.) Thanks for the specifics and ideas. I learn so much through what you're learning...and this helps me become even more productive. Thanks! From, Linda

  3. The picture of you working on the Dining Room is adorable! I love how you tied up your hair (were the curlers or pin curls in at this point?) and that you're wearing real shoes. We never wear shoes in the house as with 5 of us the tracking in of mud, dirt, and general gunk would be too much.


  4. We own two German Shepherds (one of them a long-hair). I love my Kirby, too.

  5. I really enjoyed reading about how you divide up the time in your day, do let us know what you get up to during the week. I'm such a slovenly house cleaner, but your gusto for housework has inspired me, and I even found myself cleaning the stove today with a toothbrush to get into all the greasy ridges. Disgusting but it looked so much better afterward.

  6. Your weekend sounds full on lady!! I'm impressed, especially with the getting up early bit :)

  7. You said:
    "...but making an entire meal form scratch, baking a cake, ironing, rebuilding a room and still being all dolled up for lunch with the girls? That is amazing! And the best part, it is actually attainable."

    Exactly!! I think advertising has turned us into a bunch of frightened wimps, afraid to do ANYTHING because it would be disastrous. Well, you are proving them wrong.

    You go!

  8. Mist-Wow, I don't have any babies to care for (except my dogs and bird of course) so good girl, If (and it is a big IF)we ever add another vintage person to our family, I can see the writing on the wall, but I suppose you just get up face the day and try to work your schedule around the little one. Thanks for tax tip, we actually have an accountant and I need to get all our paper work together for him. I don't know any of the tax laws, I just give him the figures he asks for and then wait to pay, what is it they say, "death and taxes..."
    Linda-thanks, I am glad as I bungle through my experience I can help others. I am, truly, amazed at how much I have 'improved' from Jan 1. Not to toot my own horn, but I am excited about how much I can add to each day.
    S-yes, pin curls in the back as Saturday I set my hair all day. We do wear shoes most times in our house, and we have three dogs and alot of mud. Everytime I try to get into the Japanese habit of shoes off at door, we just can't stick with it. Once I have a new mudroom, then that rule may stick.
    Shay-wow, your two dogs definitely outsize my three ( I have a chihuahua 4 lb, an italian greyhound 10 lbs, and an aging Jack Russel Terrior 12 lb.) In fact the three together probably do not weigh as much as one of your dogs and we have no long hair, except me of course, but not for long.
    Piroska-Thanks, I am glad I am inspiring and I need to really list my daily activites more, as I said I just get used to doing them, so I forget to mention them. I had to laugh about your toothbrush, as I did the same thing on Sunday morning. I always clean the 'icebox' and 'polish' the chrome things in the kitchn (perculator, toaster, cannister set etc) and I spent 20 minutes getting the space between the spout and the body of my perculator shiny. I am not OCD either, but there is a satisfaction to it. I still have alot of learning to do with my own housework and I am getting there. It is also hard as we are sort of living in a renovation, as now I have the new dining room empty and the living room is piled with the extra furniture, but I do keep the other rooms we are living in clean. I cannot wait until I am only doing maitenence cleaning.
    Pretty little pictures-It was full on, and yesterday was a blast as hubby got out the chain saw and we got to some great landscaping and had a wonderful burn outside. The getting up early, I highly reccomend. You get more done and feel better by the days end and are not exhausted come monday morning when that alarm goes off!
    Dr. Julie-Ann-That is exactly how I feel. We just have been fed the idea that work is bad and free time is watch tv play video games and sleep until time to work again. And I know when you are working 40 hours (because I have believe me, in fact more when I had my own business) but many times the hours we are working are to pay for things we dont need like too many cars new cars paying off trips paying off school (which should be free anyway) paying off all our trips to the stores that are so cheap (like old navy gap etc) so, really we need to look at our life as the bits of fun and not waste it. At least that is how I feel. We used to be a two working family, but now we live differently so that does not have to be the way. It helps having a wonderful understanding husband who gets up to work five days a week, but I think I make the rest of his life good and easier to get to work, that is what is nice about the teamwork of a couple in 1950s style one works out the other works home, both are working equally as hard and both are enabling the other to enjoy what free time they do have.

  9. I'm looking for vintage bedroom inspiration since my kitchen happily is a retro diner.

    My issue is that I can't use wallpaper because the walls here are breezeblock with plaster over them so that it's cool in the summer (hazards of the middle east). So I'm considering a mural but I'm a lousy painter so we will see... if anyone has any ideas don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail: Thanks!

    50's Gal - I'm really interested in the wing chair in the kitchen idea. That sounds cool. And about your renovating, aren't you worried that when you fast forward to 2010 after being in 1955 that your taste will change? and you'll find the 1950's decor unattractive?


  10. Vintage Angel-actually my 1955 tastes will still be strongly antique/early american. And the few modern or 'early american' pieces I will incorporate will hopefully hold strong to my design esthetic. I realized I have a particular design or esthetic I am drawn to, but the modern consumer world of home magazines and DIY tv just tricks you into needing to change your design all the time. I am going to hopefully be in a place emotionally that when my house is all done and whatever is left over is getting donated then I want to focus more on my community and belonging and being apart of my surroundings, so I won't "need" to change my "style". If I want to change or add I can sew up an extra set of slipcovers to keep neetly ironed and folded away if I want a different 'feel' come autumn or summer etc. Also, if you cannot paint, there are alot of stencils out there that you can use in layers to look handpainted. A stencil doesn't have to be twee little duckies kissing hearts like in the 80's. Another idea is download some images or scenes you like and make it a toile de juoy, which is just french fabric with usually one colored outlines of bucolic settings. So download some scene from a painting or an image that you like and print it onto a plastic sheet that you can buy that is used for stencils, get out your exacto knife and make your own stencil and do it all over in one color outline. I will think of other ideas and post them to the blog.

  11. Just dropped in to see how it's going. Fabulous!!! It's so inspiring to "see" you have adapted so well. Keep it up!!! And, do tell...

  12. I've figured out how I'm going to decorate my bedroom, I'm going to paint one wall in blue stripes, and the vintage accents will come from fabrics and furniture I'm going to find at the flea market. :)

    I'm happy!

  13. “Faster than a Swiffer, able to leap through projects in a single bound, Quicker than a microwave, it is Vintage Housewife!” – LOVE that slogan! :) I also think you have much more energy now, than if you had a full time job. But I agree – I have always had a full time job and have always planned my time and made lists, and I haven’t watched TV or stayed in bed most of the days during the weekends. I only watch a movie late at night for relaxation with DH (once or twice a week that is), a nice cup of tea and curling up in the sofa, ahh. Then I think I deserve it and I feel good knowing how many things I’ve done during the day – it is a reward then, not just wasting time.

    What a treasure all those Flickr photos are, I’ll look at the album again later. You look FAB in that photo, pls post more like this. I also LOVE to hear about your daily life, what you do and when and how you schedule your time. I think all of us can learn tips from your “time manager project”. :)


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