Sunday, May 31, 2009

31 May 1955 "misunderstanding"

I think perhaps I have been misunderstood because I wrote while I was frustrated with my tenants. I certainly am worried about budgets, but not to the point that I need to get a job. I was merely looking to think, perhaps in the future I will think about things I can do to make pin money.
One commenter mentioned sitting down with my budget and I have to say that one of the main points of this year has been just that. I have my budget down to the penny for groceries, we almost never eat out anymore, gas is at a minimum (especially since hubby now works locally) and I buy no new clothes (either make or buy very cheap ebay or second hand shops).
So, I am sorry to have made it seem I am as desperate as I must have. I have been really evaluting the next step of this project and I should know better than to just type away in frustration. At the end of June it will be my half way mark in this project and I think I am merely moving to the next phase of what that will entail.
Thank you so much for all of you suggestions and if I do take any of them up, I will share their results with you, of course.
Now, back to my post for tomorrow. I plan to have a proper post up tomorrow and to get back to my regular posting schedule. Thank you for being patient with me while I deal with the land-owning unrest of this past week.
Until tomorrow, then.
Happy Homemaking.

Friday, May 29, 2009

31 –29 May 1955 “Memorial Day, Music, Economy, and Rental Blues”

I know Memorial Day is over, but I have had some busy days of late, but still wanted to discuss it a little:


 stock car races The advertisement at left for the stock car races on May 30, 1955 at the Cowley County Fairgrounds at Winfield, Kansas, was published on page 5 of the Winfield Daily Courier of Friday, May 27, 1955.

Here are some images from 1955 Memorial Day parades:

memorial day parade 1 memorial day parade 2

I really thought about the war and that generation a lot over the holiday weekend. It is almost eerie to think that here in 1955 it would be only 10 years earlier on June 6, 1944 the beaches of Normandy were advanced upon by American and allied troops.

This photo of American troops unloading on the beaches in Normandy would be the last thing they would see alive.

normandy It really makes you think and feel for this generation. I cannot imagine worrying about my dear hubby in a situation like this or a father or brother. I don’t want to seem to pick on the baby boomers, but the more I learn of the WWII generation, the more I get angry at their selfish self-centered ways and myself want to say to them, “get a haircut and a job”! I know it sounds harsh, but I can really feel for the feeling of loss and sadness they must have felt to see their world taking many turns for the worse after all they sacrificed for freedom. Though, I suppose their sacrifice was so that we could have the right to do such things, only it does make one want to revere their past in a way in how we live now. When I think of how much the ‘hippy generation’ is still seen as the cool ones and that their fashion and attitudes are still considered des rigueur for the ‘cool set’. It burns my buttons.

Here are some American Soldiers viewing a German tank with a dead German soldier on it. How does one experience this and then manage to come home, marry, go to work 9-5, make a home, raise a family and get on with the business of living? The strength and selflessness of such acts are amazing to me and yet really forgot today. Now, people make fun of those families of the 1950s wanting to make a perfect happy little place for their family and view them as monsters as their spoiled children turn into rebellious teens who don’t care. I really think we need to salute and recall this generation and to really channel their strength. I almost feel a sort of responsibility to still make at least my part of my little world something they would have been proud to make.german tank dday

This Memorial Day I really do Honor them.



may new yorker Here is the New Yorker cover from today, 28 May 1955. I think the color and confident simplicity of line is very mid-century America. A great image of the importance of the day, family. And very telling of the baby boomers. Enraptured and attentive parents waiting patiently for their ‘star child’ to ‘express herself’. Very telling, indeed.

paris match may Here is the cover of Paris Match for today 1955. Audrey Hepburn, such a lady.  Her father was a British Businessman (who was later a Nazi sympathizer and abandoned his family) and her mother had been a Baroness. Hepburn spoke French, Italian, English, Dutch, and Spanish. By the mid-1950s, Hepburn was not only one of the biggest motion picture stars in Hollywood, but also a major fashion influence. Her gamine and elfin appearance and widely recognized sense of chic were both admired and imitated. In 1955, she was awarded the Golden Globe for World Film Favorite – Female. There is a funny story that Hepburn was sent to a then young and upcoming fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy to decide on her wardrobe for Sabrina. “When told that "Miss Hepburn" was coming to see him, Givenchy famously expected to see Katharine. He was disappointed and told her that he didn't have much time for her, but Audrey asked for just a few minutes to pick out a few pieces for Sabrina. Shortly after, Givenchy and Hepburn developed a lasting friendship, and she was often a muse for many of his designs. They formed a lifelong friendship and partnership.”

She also was beginning to change the face of what was to become the ‘new’ figure for women. At this point, Grace Kelly was very ladylike, yet her figure was fuller, then you had the bombshells like Marilyn and Jane Mansfield. Hepburn’s thin boyish ballerina frame will segway the ‘ideal’ of the woman’s body into the 60’s Twiggy. Lovely to look at, but very hard to achieve for most women. I think I once read an article that her form was a mixture of her having been basically starved during WWII and her dancers training. We may have given up the corset and by the 60’s the girdle, but we only lead ourselves to our present state, the unrealistic female form. At least with a girdle or a corset, a gal has a chance to create the ‘look’ of her day. Today, it seems, only starvation and plastic surgery, and expensive trainers can create the ideal female form. Something to think about.

jackie gleason Here is the tv guide cover for this past week featuring Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows. Though I no longer watch tv, I think it still pertinent to mention it’s goings on, as it is really beginning to shape the American persona. I imagine we would have a television, but probably only watch occasionally and possibly for the popular ‘tv nights’ when mid century friends would have a get together to watch a show and serve drinks and food. 

Speaking of tv, when I saw this Martha Ray clip from 1955, I could see the inspiration for Gilda Radner’s  SNL little girl skit.

I would remember Martha Raye from the 1940s when I was younger such as in this 1940s Abbot and Costello movie .

I love how she is really physically funny and yet a great singer!

I was thinking the other day how much like my vintage 1950’s counterpart, I am really drawn to the music of the 1940s. I certainly love the 1950’s music as well, but considering my age, I would have been going to more dances and such in the 1940s and therefore for that music would have a special place in my heart and indeed it does, for both the 1955 me as well as the ‘modern me’. I love this song, and this is a great rendition. I also love the Ella Fitzgerald version.

This version by Dorothy Dandridge in the early 1940s is almost racy by 1955 standards.


Now, the economy. This has been uppermost in my mind in this past week. I found this interesting. It is from April 15 of 2009 but found it interesting to this project. I came across it by chance and did read it, though it is from today, but as it referenced 1955, I felt it was pertinent:

“The US economy has begun to deflate for the first time in more than half a century as a slump in demand pushes energy and food costs lower.

The consumer price index fell at an annual rate of 0.4% in March, the first decline since August 1955, figures from the US labor department showed today. It was bigger than the 0.1% drop expected by economists.”

Now, you know I am not a big fan of Wal-Mart, and what I read in this article made them even less likable. Despite what the president and the chief economical people are saying about this becoming a deflation rather than an inflation of pricing (mainly because we are wising up and NOT buying every little thing, thus keeping the demand low so that cost has to subsequently lower). The head of Wal-Mart went on the Today show and said that we are in for some ‘shaky times’ and other glib buzz words to scare us into rushing out and buying while it is still cheap. Which, of course, is the opposite of the truth. The more we are not dependent upon big stores and really the need to buy and consume, items will become less expensive as demand goes down. I read that this economy is actually a boon to Wal-Mart and is enabling them to beat out places such as Target which would ultimately leave them at the top. Again, I don’t want to be a broken record, but nothing is free. We may pay less for something at Wal-Mart, but we will pay for it in other ways in the end.

I thought a quick definition of deflation is pertinent here:

In economics, deflation is a decrease in the general price level of goods and services. Deflation occurs when the annual inflation rate falls below zero percent, resulting in an increase in the real value of money — a negative inflation rate.

It is rather frightening, as well, as it was deflation, among other things, which did lead to the Great Depression. However, we have the benefit of a time machine, in that we can look back, see what lead up to it and make sure we do not repeat history. We seem to always have such a short term memory for such things as important as economy. I found it interesting that people were suddenly surprised that gas prices were rising again. Hello! We were down to 1.60 a gallon and now up to about 2.40 around here, but last summer it was almost 4.00! Do people honestly NOT remember and did they think because it happened once that was it!

Now, the economy has been uppermost in my mind as well, as I mentioned some of our income comes from a property we rent out here on Cape. Currently my tenant just decided she no longer wanted to pay rent and I was suddenly without that money. I was lucky that she at least packed up and left, as with our states tenant laws, she could have really stayed a few more month without paying before any legal eviction proceedings could happen. I understand these laws are to protect families from slum lords, but when you are just an individual who has to rent out some property, you often are left with no rights. The house we are currently living in, we used to rent out. Before our moving back to it, the tenants on one side of the house (we have since turned it back into a single house) had smashed cantaloupe size holes in the wall of every room, ripped carpeting up exposing floors and ruined fencing and broke a toilet. We were lucky to have them leave, but all the expense of the repair came out of our pockets. But, I digress.

Back to my own current fears. First off, happily so, my hubby was able to find a job locally and therefore quit the commute to Boston five times a week. This saves on gas, need for two cars, and more time together but resulted in a pay cut. Then, that very month it happened, our tenant decided to stop paying. Wrapped up in all the money woes of this situation is the still fresh sadness I had discussed in a post concerning my Mother’s Alzheimer's and Father’s stroke. Here is the story.

The property that I need to rent out is a great old house that my hubby and I bought back when we were first married. It is a great little true Half cape built in 1718. It is post and beam with all the original floors, etc. We have lived in it ourselves off and on over the years and also used it as a rental property. A few years back we had worked it out that My Mother (with Alzheimer's) and my Father would move in. My oldest sister would live in the little barn that we have converted on the property as well. Thus, it was nice to have family there again. We had some wonderful holidays. Great Christmases etc. I had even built, by my own hands, a little studio to use for painting when I visited (the space I was intending to use as my vintage club meetings).

Then suddenly my sister, who was their main caretaker, decided to move out of state. This was not meet with much happiness by any of us and the result was a tumultuous time last summer leaving me alone with the property to handle and rent out. I thought I was done with it.

Now, two days ago, I thought I had found the perfect person to rent the little barn that my sister had stayed in. The man was kind and for the past month I was going out of my way to fix it up for him. I even paid to have a new heater installed etc. I spent the Holiday weekend cleaning out and preparing the place for him. So, when I went there the other day with the lease, happy that I could rent that out and then find some nice family for the main house, he suddenly tells me he cannot take it.

So, there I am, again, alone in the house. I literally stood in the center of the house, it being emptied by the tenant who had just left. Of course, she damaged the door and the fence on her way out and left a giant 1970s tv that I have to some how drag down the narrow antique stairs. But, none of this was upper most in my mind. What was, however, was the rush of sadness. I was again, here alone in the empty house that had held my happy laughing family.

I sat down on the bare floor and just sort of took it all in. It was very much like those movies where someone recalls a past and you see the sort of ghostly images super-imposed along the various parts of the house. There we sat and laughed with mum. We fought over there and then laughed about it later. There was the Christmas tree and all our smiling faces. There we sat for countless dinners, laughing and really believing we were all in this together forever.

Then, of course, it all stopped.

It was just me again, alone, in the empty house. No renters to pay the mortgage and taxes. No one to talk about the sadness of my quickly vacant family. Back to square one emotionally and financially. How did it happen?

This has left me, these past days, wondering what a 1955 wife would do. I think I would try to find a means of income without giving up my job of homemaker. Certainly, the social pressure would be there even more for me to stay home if I had children, but I have none. And, yet, I still feel I would be clever enough to work it all out.

This has brought another element into my project. The fluctuation of finances, but still trying to maintain my vintage attitude definitely adds more challenge. But I honestly feel with what I have learned and discovered so far this year, almost half way through this project, that I can get my finances and stress through this. I will emulate my war time me, and get up brush myself off, set aside the sadness and emotions of it for now, and get on with living. It is so easy to go to the empty house and feel bad for myself and have honest grief, but it does no good after the initial realization that is is, indeed over. I have accepted this, now I need to move on. Perhaps it being mixed up into the economy of my life will force me to take charge more.

I am going to work hard to find the right sort of tenants and perhaps even, at some point, take advantage of my little studio there somehow. I am going to do some research, although I have not much spare time to do it, to approach this as best as a 1955 homemaker can.

Due to this business, I have not had much time to take many photos, but I do have some more of the next stages of my veg garden. I took Sunday off from all that has been going on and hubby and I worked out in the yard. He chopped wood while I put up the next phase of my fence. I addressed the front of the veg garden. Here are some photos.

Here you can see I have put in the posts that will hold up the cross sections.veg fence front 1

This is the beginning of those cross sections. You can see some of my mint from the previous year that had taken over, but I am trying to be careful to preserve what I can as I am them replanting it around the perimeter to be a part of my ‘tea garden’.veg fence front 2

Here are more sections.veg fence front 3

The cross panels have gone inveg fence front 4

Here is an angle shot towards the road. I still need to paint these and to plant more.veg fence front 5

I did find an hour the other day to plant up my second of two raised beds in my veg garden. The three teepees in the back tied together with bamboo have all my cukes planted, both english eating cukes as well as pickeling. The two green topiary forms will hold green and yellow beens. The center green teepee is my spaghetti squash. You can see that I have not had time to mulch this raised bed as of yet.

teepees in gardenHere is a side angle of the teepees, but I did have time to mulch the front bed and to mulch around the front bed and the main walkway and throw down some slate pavers. I have not decided upon the design of the gate yet.teepees in garden2 This will also be the view from the future pergola built in bench I am designing and building that will eventually be covered in grapes. Again, the importance of a comfy seat with a view of the ‘room’ where I can dream up new gardens and watch this one grow. A great spot for coffee and a short break in the morning before I begin our breakfast. snowpea closeupThis is a close up of one of my snowpeas which has begun to blossom. This means yummy peas in a week or so, so I have that to look forward to.

So, I am again thankful for all my 1955 homemaking skills and time management, as I really feel they are helping me to still run the house fairly well, get my dinners on and still have the bulk of the day being away at the other house trying to get it rented and deciding the best future for that property.

Until later, then, happy homemaking. And, I really will do some thinking upon the ‘extra income opportunities’ available for a stay at home homemaker in the 1950s. Do any of you have any stories or memories of homemakers in the 1950s have extra ‘jobs’ they did for ‘pin money’?

rosy rivetor Well, I am a strong 1955 woman, I can solve problems, organize my day, grow and cook my own food and help my family through the rough times. Onward, Apron Revolution!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

27 May" I will be back tonight I promise"

What a week I have had. I will tell the whole story and have a normal post this evening, I promise. I feel as if I haven't connected in awhile and it feels rather odd. Thank you for anyone checking back and tonight, hopefully with some time to sit, drink tea and gather my thoughts, I can have the cathartic moment that a post often provides for me. Thanks again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

26 May 1955 "I'm Ethel Murtz for a few more days"

Well, I wish I was having as much fun as Ethel as a landlady, getting into scrapes with Lucy, but alas. I have been rather busy since thursday and through the holiday weekend as a landlady. Part of our income comes from a house we own and rent out and I have had some tenent trouble lately. I have to clean up, advertise and get rented our little house by June, as our tenent suddenly decided she did not want to pay May's rent, nor the utilities and that she is moving out, so my homemaking, gardening, and blogging has had to take a back seat. Don't worry, though, I may be back in the saddle by this week. And I promise a good long blog tomorrow or thursday.

I just wanted to let everyone know I am still thinking about all of you and about things we have discussed. A blog is in the works but now I have to get back to my Ethel Murtz status. Oh, if only I had a Lucy to help me out!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

21-23 may 1955 “Oldest Driver, Cutest Diver, Gardening, Cooking, and the Blues vs. Depression”

 louis cheron Oldest man to drive in the Grand Prix (55) comes in 6th. Today, in 1955, in front of a hometown Monte Carlo crowd, a few weeks before his 56th birthday he became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula 1 race. To the applause of Prince Rainier and his many fans he guided his Lancia D50lancia d50 to a sixth place finish in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix.

zale perry cover Zale Perry on the cover of the sports illustrated for today in 1955. She was a well known diver (still alive today) and played a small part in Hollywood. She played the resident damsel in distress in the Sea Hunt series (starring another ‘star diver’ Lloyd Bridges. The series would not start until 1957, however, so I have not seen it.) Prior to this, she was a test diver for major equipment manufacturers. Zale Perry began her diving career in 1951 and is considered an authority on sport diving. She was key in the development of decompression chamber treatment for diving injuries and is now a member of the Diving Hall of Fame

 gardening in skirt

My posts have not been as regular as I like, but it is finally nice out and I cannot stay out of my garden. My time out of the home and it’s chores finds me there.

It left me to ponder how like Housework is Gardening. Or really, how being a homemaker is much like being a gardener, with some minor differences, in the house I am always taking the dirt out, while in my garden I am always hauling dirt in.

One can really see and feel the early homemakers when one is both a homemaker and a gardener. For, there was a time when what happened in the garden fed what went on in the kitchen. Your food and your cleaners, your soaps etc all came from your garden and farm. Today we have the luxury of the grocery store and certainly they did in 1955 as well. Yet, as I have mentioned before, being the age I am now in 1955, I would certainly hold fast to my Victory Garden. I would be happy for the full shelves at the grocery store, but there would be too many memories of want in me from the depression through the war to not be ‘prepared’. Today, it seems, being prepared means over buying everything you can get your hands on at BJ’s and stashing it away, but that, for me,  is too much and really I want to become more self-reliant. I don’t know how my little garden will yield this year. We shall see. I will document it in pictures, words, and drawings so I can learn from it and enjoy it later.wwII garden poster My plan is to fill some shelves this fall with canned items and to see how many jams and things I can actually make from what my little plot of land yields.

We New Englanders know we have only a small window to prepare and enjoy our warm weather. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live and garden in a warm climate year round. It must be lovely. Though, I cannot take the heat, so anything above 80 degrees and I need to sit in the shade or in a pool or  the ocean, so I guess I am a true New Englander in that. I actually like the cooler seasons. Somehow it makes spring and summer more sweet. I guess it is the ‘too much of a good thing ruins it’ adage for me.

garden book1I just ordered this 1949 Gardeners manual and will share the skills once I get it. There are all sorts of “how-tos” and hints. It will be fun and exciting to see what they offer.

Now, my own vegetable garden is still under way. As in much of my current life, I want my garden to first be practical and serve its purpose, but then to please the eye and senses. I don’t want to live in a house that is only functional, I want it to look and feel good and to make me smile. So, too, then should my veg garden when I think of the time I will spend it it. Really, I was thinking, if we look at our gardens, our yards, as our home on the outside, then certainly the vegetable garden is like our kitchen in that ‘outside home’. And, in fact, it is often called a ‘kitchen garden’ as it serves the kitchen. But, and again here we see this happening in the 1930’s on, the kitchen, now being more populated by homemakers than servants, a place to work AND to decorate. Therefore, it follows that the kitchen should be functional but pretty with a nice place to sit and relax, so should the veg garden. So, while I am getting all my veg in on time, amongst that I am trying to ‘decorate’ as well.

Here is the beginning stages of my little garden.veg garden1 Here you can see the shambles of it, but if you can believe it, it looked worse than this when I started this summer. There was no tall fence ( I put that in this spring) and the front post is in for my now fence there. The beds have not been turned nor fed with wheel barrel loads of compost, which came later. Thisveg fence1 became thisveg fence2 and is now this:veg fence3 I have not painted nor added all the finials to the top. Here you can see I weeded and mulched the areas outside of the beds. The plants planted along the fence on the inside of the garden is my ‘tea garden’. It contains lemon balm, two types of mint, Roses (for rosehips) bee balm (bergamot) and Anise. These all grow and spread wonderfully and so will be cut often and dried for my homemade teas for the future. In front of the fence facing the road are two hydrangeas (very popular on the cape as our soil has them blooming in the most amazing blue you have ever seen!) and daylilies I took from our antique house we rent out.

Here in the second veg bed I have added an old copper obelisk. veg obelisk It has a nice patina. This bed has snow peas climbing up chicken wire in the back and three rows (another row next week) of various tomatoes. The front has my kale and cabbage and onions, celery and beets. This is nicely mulched, but you can see behind it has yet to be mulched. There, however is where I am planting grapes. grape plant All along the back fence you see will be grapes except the first panel nearest the road are my zucchini which will trail up the fence as well, as it saves space from having them spread on the ground and makes nicer fruit, I feel.

Here are some shots of my roses:rose closeuprose 2queen elizabeth rose

The future plans for my veg garden involve the fence continuing around the whole garden with a built in bench at one end under an arbor which will also grow grapes. I am planting grapes along the rest of the fence around the garden and training them to the fence height. I have future plans for homemade wine and of course eating fresh and making jams. My other fruits, like blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry are being planted around my little orchard. I hope to one day have a living fence around the orchard of blackberry and raspberry bushes. Thus, beauty, protection and food for the table.

So, really, much like my home, I think it important that each ‘room’ of the garden should 1)function 2)be well maintained with regular chores 2)be pleasing to the eye and of course 4) have a comfortable place to sit for you and friends. Because, why go not sit and enjoy your labor and it allows you to dream up what you can do better in the future. And, as a homemaker, we really should in whatever way we can (depending on if we live in the city or suburbs or country) have gardening be a part of our work.  Try gardening, if you have not yet, and you will see that, like housework, it can be the most frustrating and the most rewarding sort of work.

“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. “ ~Mirabel Osler

Now, into the house and on to cooking. As I mentioned the other day, I have been relegating only three days a week to a dessert, as we are trying to watch our waistlines. One of my desserts this was was lovely apple tarts from my 1950s Boston Cooking School book (one of my favorites). Here is the recipe and the result:apple dumpling recipe Here is the recipe for the biscuit dough you would use: biscuit recipe And here is the hard sauce recipe: hard sauce recipe

Really, they were wonderfully light. I thought the biscuit dough would not cook all the way through and it would be doughy, but it was nice. Biscuit dough, as you know, is not sweet, but the baked apple inside with the nice hard sauce on top, was really lovely. I highly recommend it and would make it again.

I did a photo shoot of the process:appledumplings1 appledumplings2 appledumplings3 appledumplings4

I forgot to get a picture of it, but I made a nice lamb stew the other day. What I have learned is the best method for thickening sauces and gravies ( I am sure most of you already knew this) is to take a bowl and siphon out some of the hot broth from whatever you want to make into a sauce or gravy into the bowl. Then you add your flour to that and beat it with a hand whisk. The rule of thumb is roughly one tbs flour for each cup of broth, but I am learning to really wing it more or ‘feel’ the dishes.  Now whisking the flour and broth in the bowl separately from the dish you are making will make it smooth and you can add flour until it looks a little thicker than you would want. Now you slowly pour this into your stew or the remaining broth in your pan in which you are making gravy and whisk as you pour it in. It works every time and makes a nice smooth sauce/gravy. I remember at one of my vintage dinners someone commented on it being homemade and having no lumps ( I remember an old commercial like that!). A long cry from my old way of making gravy which was to literally just take the hot grease out and serve that as is as. I could never get the gravy to not be lumpy. I have come a long way!

I just want to address a comment I received yesterday on my post about feeling the “Blues”. I originally talked about this because a few of my regular readers asked me how I deal with them. I felt right in answering their query and also sharing with you how I deal with sadness. Yet, this comment really has hurt me in a way and made me think more about our modern concepts of ourselves. Here was the comment (which was anonymous by the way) Since starting this post, though, I have received some nice comments which seem to go along the lines of how I feel about it. Here was the comment:

Please don't make light of depression, which really is a serious mental illness, and not just a low period in your life. It's too easy to generalize--people in the 1950's managed depression vs. people today dwelling in it. In the 1950's clinical depression most definitely existed, and even more dangerously so, as it went unchecked and untreated. Like in so many other ways, medical treatment of the 1950's was very misguided (though well-intended), but the days of locking patients away still lingered.
Depression is truly a physical illness caused by improper chemical production in the brain. No putting on a happy face can cure that.

My response, of course, was that I know there is clinical depression and that my thoughts were for those of us who DO NOT suffer from clinical depression and that I hopefully never make light of any ailment.

It really got me thinking how this concept of foreboden subject is very modern. Certainly, clinical depression is very real and sad. Yet, for those of us who DO NOT suffer from it, we should not be denied the ability to discuss our own sadness and grief. Those with an accepted and clinically diagnosed disease do not own the ailments. That is to say, someone with cancer might feel certain aches and pains yet those of us who do not have cancer should still be allowed to discuss how we ourselves deal with such pain without making the cancer patient feel as if we are not sympathetic to their own burden. It is not making light or not having empathy for those with the clinical real problems.

I also find it interesting that if someone were to have clinical depression, I certainly hope that they would not come looking for answers on a blog. I am not a professional psychologist and this is merely a blog of my feelings. Perhaps, I am taking this too personally, but I tend to now take things I see in the modern world and digest it into the comparison with the old. Certainly, I am glad for those with clinical depression that they have medicine and therapy and not shock treatment in mental hospitals, but that does not diminish those of us who merely are blue from having valid discussions on ways we can ‘deal with the blues’ and sometimes ‘putting on a happy face’ does help, I know I have tried it and it HAS worked. If a simple solution does not work for someone than perhaps they could use that as a key to go and get checked to see if they DO have clinical depression. Something they may not have known had there not been discussion of it.   If it were considered not PC to discuss this, then perhaps a reader who felt they had tried that and it didn't work would not have known to go and get diagnosed for clinical depression.

So, my point is, discussing our feelings and how we deal with it IS important in such a case and is in no way offensive to those with the real depression. Yet, we also don’t want to over analyses them or ‘dwell’ in them, because this will often lead to feeding and continuing the feeling, that is if you do not have clinical depression. I really do feel, from my own experience, that dwelling or feeling the need to ‘reward yourself’ with a treat as you are feeling blue, only sets yourself up to continue to feel blue in the future. Of course we will be sad, but sometimes a Pavlovian response could happen where there is a day you might feel lazy and not want to deal with your usual routine and you suddenly feel ‘blue’ as a mechanism to get to the ‘reward’. I know sometimes that is how it worked for me. And I KNOW I used it as an excuse to be lazy. Which, in a way, could be fine, except I find my life fuller and happier being busy and doing and not being lazy. Then, when I have a day of rest, it is really appreciated and all the little things, like sitting and watching my chickens scratch in their yard, have a more poignant feel to them because it is a special moment of relaxation. Not being all the time IN your emotions or how you ‘feel’ about every little thing, really is an important boon to happiness. I honestly felt I was just not a happy person and happiness was for the mindless, but since becoming more active and really allowing the things I enjoy which I use to view as silly to have more meaning, my life, in turn, seems more meaningful.

I also have a very dear friend who is clinically depressed. He is very intelligent and is currently studying math at university. He is, in my opinion, a genius. And with his intense mind and ability to view the world in abstract mathematics, he has to deal with depression. And he does this through medication, but I can tell you there have been many times that hubby and I have had to help him ‘out of his funk’ with putting on a happy face and helping to get him active. What may work for one does not work for all, but that does not mean that no one can then discuss it. I remember, when we were sailing a lot and that summer we were literally sailing beach bums, he came along with us often and the simple act of sailing, handling the lines and sheets and trying to guide us on the water kept him out of himself and he was the least depressed I have ever seen him. Activity really does help.

I don’t want to be seen as always saying, ‘it was better then’. I know there are many things that are so much better now, but it seems with the advancement in science and technology and the move to more equality, we have also, somehow, lost some of our humanity. And what I mean by that is I think it very human to be kind and considerate. I think to put yourself second sometimes is very human. Any mammal can grab for the best piece of meat and growl at its neighbors, but a human can stop and asses and think, “Hmm, maybe in this instance, I should let the other person go first”. It is good for the survival of ourselves to think of ourselves first, but it is also human to think, sometimes, outside of yourself. I know from my own experience you can be too much in your own head and view the world always as “well, how is that going to affect me?” That is why I think it a modern moment to have someone view a talk about feeling less blue while they have depression and think, “Hey, I can’t do that, they are making fun of me”. Now, I am not picking on the anonymous commenter and I certainly am guilty of this same thing, but again, I feel it is a very modern moment.

What do you think? Have I merely somehow taken this out of proportion, or do you also feel somehow in the modern world the fear of offending leaves us to not discuss the important things but instead watch TV, and care more about Brittany Spears’ new boy toy or who is doing what on Survivor?. I don’t want to live in the modern world if I am not allowed to discuss things that I find very real with other very real people. I don’t want to exchange fear of offense for mindless prattle about movie stars and what happened on ‘desperate housewives’ last night. But, again, perhaps I will merely end up living in my world populated by only a few people, but I would rather that than a sort of watered down ‘safe’ sort of life.

I guess, rather it is good or bad, I feel more the pull to really just make my own life the way I want it to be and if that means disconnecting myself more from the ‘grid’ of the consuming media driven world, then so be it. I might be lonely, but I would rather keep busy in my garden and home and community, then spend hours talking about some reality show or how awesome it is to play a video game. I don’t think either of those things bad nor not enjoyable, but I do think having a real discussion about art and life and craft and how they fit into our world and history IS important to me. Maybe I am just becoming a ‘vintage snob’ if there is such a thing. How do any of you who love the ‘old ways’ cope and make it work in modern days? That might be a nice discussing point.

Well, I will leave you with that to ponder and then hopefully to discuss here and we shall see how we all feel on that subject.

Until later, then, happy homemaking!

Friday, May 22, 2009

22 1/2 May 1955 “In the Garden”

gardening in skirt2 I will return later tonight, when I have done my share of gardening, with a real post. Just wanted to let everyone know I am thinking of them over this holiday weekend.

Until later tonight, then, happy gardening and whatnot.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

18 May 1955” TV Tie-ins, Teddy Girls, Crepes, and dealing with the Blues”

rocky jones comic First TV tie in for kids. You can really see this is the beginning of the REAL TV generation. Being closer to 40 than 20 in 1955 I would most likely enjoy some of the TV programs and share in occasional TV nights with friends, but really the children of the 1950s (those darn baby boomers) really begin the framework to build our current state of dependency on passive entertainment. So begins the move towards the world we have today where we constantly need a toy jangled before our face or we get fussy and cry.

teddy girl I thought this girl looked rather 1980s, but this is actually a 1955 photo of an English “Teddy Girl” the counterpoint to the “Teddy Boy” of that era. The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period (1901-1910). The subculture started in London in the 1950s and rapidly spread across the UK, soon becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll music of the period. The U.S. film Blackboard jungleblackboard jungleplayed a role in this movement and when it was shown at a South London Cinema in Elephant and Castle in 1956, the teenage Teddy boy audience began to riot, tearing up seats and dancing in the aisles. At first, hearing of this subculture I thought, “hmm, here is a 20th c. example of a group looking to the past for inspiration”. But, I was disillusioned to find it was only for the fashion and that their attitude and behavior were anything BUT Edwardian.

The movie Blackboard Jungle was really felt to be a big role in showing and introducing the ‘teens’ at the time to rock and roll with Bill Haley and the Comet’s ‘Rock around the Clock’. I watched the film earlier this year, as it came out in 1955, and it was meant to show how harsh the teens in inner cities were becoming. The youth movement was explored to show how dangerous and what little respect they had. You can really see how it shows probably what most schools, even rural schools, today are like. In a way, rather than pointing out the horrid attitudes and disrespect of the youths to fix the issue, it instead glorified the attitude, fashion and music and probably had the opposite affect. I have begun to feel it was a tantamount point in Media forming the “youth is better, I hate old age, in your face” attitude that we take for granted today.

I wonder if we shall ever shake the current mindset that reveres youth, hostility, and self-obsession? Only time will tell, though with the current and continuing hold TV, movies, reality shows, and general media have over the world, I think not. It’s too bad because it does such a disservice to young people. It gives them nothing to shoot for. If they are revered and thought ‘cool’ for merely being young and rebellious, than they strive for nothing. Then, as they age, they feel useless and need to hold onto their youth never wanting to grow up. I really think being a grown up is underrated and it is too bad, as it can really be liberating and fun.

Since my hubby has started his new job two weeks ago, I have had to really scramble to make my usual routine function as it had. Thank goodness I was already IN a routine, but now it is definitely undergoing some restructuring, which is good in and of itself, as I feel it really is testing the skills I have gained thus far. While he once had a schedule of m-f at a set time, he now works all sorts of hours including weekends sometimes and days off are random. It really means I need to rethink and reshape things. That is also, really, why there have been less photos and recipes of late. Not that I have not been busy cooking, but only out of sorts and not remembering to take photos.

However, I did make some wonderful crepes yesterday morning for breakfast. crepes They were so yummy and really quite easy. I am going to be making some dinner crepes in the future. I had once, as a child, made crepes St. Gabrielle as a special treat for my parents, as I wanted to try and cook. They were rather good but really was my only foray into cooking. Here I am many years later, finding them wonderful to make and full of promise. Though there is a crepes heading in my Boston Cooking School book for crepes these were actually listed under FRENCH PANCAKES.  Here is the recipe from my Boston Cooking School book of 1951:

French pancakes are internationally famous for dessert, but they are also the basis for some very exceptional luncheon dishes and provide an epicurean way to use leftovers (I love that!)

1 cup pasty or all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

Mix Flour and salt. Add milk and stir until perfectly smooth. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Let stand at least 1/2 hour.

Heat 5 inch or other small frying pan. Grease with a few drops of oil and pour in just enough batter to cover pan with very thin layer. Tilt pan so that mixture spreads evenly. When cooked on one side, toss or turn with spatula and cook on other side. Cook pancakes one by one. Roll up or fold in quarters. Makes 18 to 24.

There are some variations of these that I will make and then share the recipes with you in the future. When I made these, I first cut up some apples and cooked them in butter and cinnamon, then placed them in the crepes, sprinkled with confectioners sugar and a fresh slice of apple and served with maple syrup and jam. They make a great breakfast or dessert. I found them fun to make and by making them individually, they cooked perfectly and the batter does not have the tendency to cook unevenly or oddly as sometimes I find pancake batter to do.

Lately, we have been talking about dealing with the blues. I know this past year and the beginning of this year for me has had some sad times. As I have briefly mentioned in previous blogs, I have had to deal with my mother’s Alzheimer's, my fathers stroke, putting a beloved pet to sleep among a myriad of other woes. Yet, this year particularly, I feel I have become better equipped to deal with it. The reason? This project has allowed me to grow up. That is not to say that grown ups do not feel sadness, but the way in which I have dealt with my own personal sadness and blues this year has been with ACTION.

I really think older generations, particularly the generation of the 1940s-1950s, after having come through the war and the Depression, had their own way of dealing. They had very real and tangible losses and sadness, yet they had to go on and continue for themselves and for others. Certainly, a woman would break down and weep at the loss of her son during the war, but she would also set aside her own grief to help others and to help the ‘war effort’. This ACTION could be a boon. It would be a salve to sadness.

I think the other element in the elixir of joy after grief is community. Again, that same woman would have lost her son, she would have had others with the same situation or others with sons still alive and fighting and for them, she would stand up and put on a ‘happy face’. There seems to be a difference between denying your emotions and feelings and really ‘trying out happiness’. Certainly, you are sad or lonely one day and you feel it, but I find the less you dwell on the actual sadness and the more you try to take ACTION, any old thing, clean out that back pantry you have been meaning to get to, scrub out the grout you never have time for, and if you can see someone for lunch or coffee, put on the face you would want them to see. Sometimes, practicing happiness will eventually bring it out in you. I think this form of not dwelling is not repression. Repression, to me, would be to deny it or act as if there is nothing wrong, I think that is different than accepting your sadness, but knowing you don’t like it. We hardly wish to be sad or unhappy, so we need to act as if we are not and take our minds off it to ‘cure the blues’.

I am sure this sounds very trite or simplistic, but, in all honestly, it is very real to me now how I deal with my sadness or a blue day. The 2008 me would often dwell on sadness or how I felt bad. I would spend hours, sometimes days, just wondering, what can I do to get over feeling this way. Maybe I will go get some coffee and magazines at the bookstore. Perhaps, I will go shopping somewhere. Or, I will talk with someone about it endlessly, the sadness. Really, all that ever did was help me to dwell and stay in the moment of sadness.

The way in which we now, modern folk, address our personal sadness and depression is actually rather new. It came out of the Freudian psychology of the 20th c. By the late 1950s early 1960’s the ‘analyst’ was the new pet. Evaluating your emotions, raging our your feelings, it was in vogue. The very fact that we now place so much importance on our mental health is due largely to that. Now, don’t get me wrong, we should be healthy mentally, but what I find odd, is many women from this time period 30s-50s) seem to have overcome enormous obstacles of death and loss and came out smiling and honestly happy, raising families and keeping active. We seem, now, to be always talking and dealing with our emotions. They have become some sort of tiger loose from its cage we are always trying to capture. There are countless books and shows and TV about how ‘we feel’. Endless talk shows to express how we feel guilt and sadness and anger, it cannot be good for us, surely, all this dwelling in sadness and anger. But, honestly, it really does go well with our passive sort of society of TV and entertainment. The ‘act’ of sitting and dwelling on our sadness and bad lot in life seems really to fit right in.

There is a similar element to this as there is to the glorification of the sexual and the rebel. Those who once were the fringe of a society became glorified in a way. It is rather odd, when you really think about it. Now the rebel youth with an ‘in your face attitude’ is the norm. The sexy teen is just part of the world. Grown woman today on television often say with pride, ‘Yeah, I am a bitch, deal with it’. We glorify rudeness, why therefore should we not exalt sadness and self-obsession?

Again, I do not want anyone to think that I am trying to simplify or to ignore anyone’s sadness, but there is a reason mothers in the 1950s would most likely tell a sad child, “Well, you have it much better than I did or think of the poor children in Africa”. It was not an evasion of the emotions, but a check to say, PERSPECTIVE. And to learn the lesson that world does not revolve around yourself. A very grownup realization that many don’t come to. Again, please don’t think I am saying it is selfish to feel sad, but in what I have found, I think it can help you to get out of the sadness.  It is true that many people have it MUCH worse than we. People who don’t know clean drinking water or basic healthcare. That doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to feel sad one day as we sit in our comfortable homes but it does mean, ‘count your blessings and put on a smile’ sometimes it really works.

Here is a case in point for me. Yesterday I had a ‘bad day at work’ which means those in the house have to suffer at that moment. I have not had many bad days, but I was just sort of out of sorts as I am adjusting to a new scattered schedule and I wanted to make homemade doughnuts yesterday to have with hubby for breakfast. I had made them before, but wanted to try a new recipe. Let’s say they did not turn out. The oil was too hot, the kitchen was suddenly a mess, Gussie came down in the midst of it and hubby too and I became upset and they received the backlash.  I was angry and upset and very ‘self-centered’ at that moment. It was true this was anger, not sadness, but believe me, had I allowed myself to only dwell in it, later in the day there could have been a pity-party. Or, perhaps if something happened like this and those around you just don’t want to deal, as we don’t have the pull together spirits often exhibited in older generations, they would have went off and I would have sulked and later in the day I could have been left to feel, “well, who cares, I work hard in the house no one appreciates me” etc. But, that is not what happened. Hubby said, why don’t you just toss it and start over as if it is a new day. Gussie said, “Yes, and here I will help clean up” and away we went. Before you know it, a new clean kitchen, eggs and bacon on the stove the, coffee percolating away, and we all sat down to a happy breakfast.

In this instance, of course, I had others to help me out of the funk; the community that is so important. But, there are many times that I am alone in the house and have felt blue. I remember early on in my project I had a very blue day, I believe I even did a post about it, that I had been very down. I had found some old home movies on YouTube from the 1950s. Watching the silent happy families smiling and living and of course, dressed as I was, I felt sort of ‘left behind’. I felt a connection more with these people than with my own world. This, however, was just self-obsession. I was truly sad, but I was still exhibiting my 2008 behavior of self-evaluation. Rather than just enjoy these movies and possibly use them as fodder for a good post about the time, I turned it inward and felt alone and sad. I was a newbie in 1955 then, now if that were to happen (though it does happen less I have noticed) I would get up, and DO something. ACTION is really a salve to such wounds. I think my sadness in that moment was also the masked sadness for my mother and her really being gone from me. In those silent laughing faces I saw my young family I never knew (as I was born late and therefore very much an only child) the young mother I never met smiling and laughing in the joy of a bygone age. I realize that now, but not from years of self-analysis or seeing a ‘shrink’ but from doing. From living out a life now that is real and tangible. I do and make things everyday that is very real and in those moments, sometimes, I feel a connection to my mother that I could never feel sitting and weeping or crying my heart out to a psychologist. Sadness is and will always be a part of our human experience and the best way to deal with it and enjoy the rest of life is to really work through it, take yourself ‘out of it’.

I think with our modern sadness we have, again, sort of thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Modern psychoanalysis teaches us to dwell on ourselves and our emotions to the point of excluding the outside world. We need to acknowledge our sadness, certainly, but we do not want to be sad so we need to set about changing it. IF we are fat we want to be thin so we try to change it. If we do not like a room we repaint it. So, if you are sad and blue one day, actively try to change it either with action or community. I know part of the sadness we have talked about is being sort of without community. WE vintage gals sometimes feel out of the modern world and would like more vintage gals around us. Hopefully we can use the computer to alleviate that a bit.

I have actually been toying with the idea of setting up a separate website that we could use to chat on and post recipes and use as a vintage forum, but I don’t want it to seem to take away from my project or to be too modern, but if it could be a sort of ‘vintage club’ for all of you that live all over the world, it might be fun. A place that would allow us to forum together and to also remind each other, okay we have had some fun here, now get off the computer and get to work! But, let me know what You think. I won’t do it if it seems a bad modern idea. I will consider it and put it into my daily tasks to find out how I would put such a think together if any of you felt it would be fun to visit and share your things there. Let me know. If you are a reader and have not commented, but would like such a place, let me know. We are, after all, a community, so I think a vote on it is only fair.

Well, I am off to do my ironing, it is Tuesday after all. I hope everyone has a fine happy day and remember, we are all here for one another.

Happy Homemaking and remember, ‘put on a happy face’

Friday, May 15, 2009

14 & 15 May 1955 “Treaties signed, Mountains climbed, Gardens Grown, and the Solitary Life”

warsaw pact signing Yesterday, May 14th 1955, Eight communist bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, signed the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was an organization of Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe. It was the counterpart to our NATO. In 1991, the Warsaw Pact will break up after most of the Communist governments fall, and the Soviet Union disintegrates. in 2005 Poland will decide to make its military archives available to the world. We will find that Poland, itself, was home to 250 nuclear missiles. It is funny how we all live so closely on such a taught thread. When I see this photo, which is from 1955 of the members signing the Warsaw Pact, I cannot help but think, what a better job, or at least a fair better job, we women might actually do running things. Strange, indeed.

The Austrian State Treaty  or Austrian Independence Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state today, May 15 1955. The treaty re-established a free, sovereign and democratic Austria. It would not have been long ago, today, that that poor country would have been taken over by the Germans. How fresh the fear and amazement of that war was in 1955, particularly to Europeans, I am sure, as they were left with the destruction and aftermath, food shortage etc of the war. When viewed that way, it is easy to see how we tried to ‘forget the horror’ and threw the baby out with the bath water. Everyone wanted things new and better so nothing like this could happen. Now, we look back on such a short time in history, the 20th century, and wonder where did our basic ‘good human qualities’ go? I know we are definitely better off today, I do not doubt it, but I think there is room in our modern fast paced life for manners, personal pride, and community.

makalu Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world on the border between Nepal and China, was first climbed successfully for the first time today, May 15, 1955 by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy of a French expedition led by Jean Franco. [I know there are many women climbers and I am not saying specifically that it is an a men’s desire, but I do feel sometimes that men needed the ACTION of bravery and show sometimes over shadows women’s bravery of being at home and quietly keeping the world going. In so many ways, particularly before women were give the right to fight or be ‘out there’ we have had to ‘keep the home fires burning’. That is why I say our ACTION does not have to be climbing mountains or jumping out windows. Even on a very basic brain level, if our bodies respond with happiness and adrenalin after a successful day of cleaning and decorating our home, we feel the same as the man standing on top of the mountain. Is one more valid than the other? I honestly don’t think so. Hurrah for the man on the mountain but Brava for the smiling homemaker in her kitchen, dishes done, dinner cooking, cake in the oven and a basket of mending on her lap. I think if we, those we feel drawn to it or wish to try it, can see the honest inherent value in homemaking in this way, we will endeavor to follow it’s path and not be ashamed to show it to our daughter or even, imagine that, offer it to them as a CAREER choice.

Yesterday I cut my finger whilst making my hubby lunch for the day. In the end, he had to buy lunch and I was left a bit slower for the remainder of the day. Every time something comes up that causes my schedule to change, I realize how elastic homemaking is, really. I am all for lists and schedules and think to run a home on the level I think we all deserve, they are a must! Yet, as we are our own boss and staff, we can, at any point, change things up. On occasions such as yesterday, that is what we do. But, while having learned the importance of the list, we use that power to restructure our day. Not unlike a great General who has been ‘outflanked’ we must rally our troops and using our keen intellect and prowess in warfare, reassemble and charge on with new strategy. So, that is what I did.

Part of yesterdays plan was to continue with my next ‘house project’ which is actually in the garden. I have been planning a new fence along the front of our property. My veg garden sits at the front of the property nearest the road, as that is the spot which receives sun all day. I want the front of the house, it’s curb appeal, to be addressed first. I feel that way I am working from the front to the back. Also, I think the view we offer to the world is very 1950’s and, I must say, it does make one feel good to know we are showing our best to the world. Of course, right now you would not know that by the condition of my yard, as it is in flux, but a gal must do things in stages.

Now, back to the fence. I have toyed with a few different designs in my sketchbook for fencing. The idea of hiring someone to do it is out as the amount of fencing, which is not really alot, would be VERY expensive. I figure, I am a homemaker and clever, I certainly can manage to design and then execute a fence. What is a fence, really? Some boards and post fastened together to either exclude or impress or a little of both. I mean, certainly I adore this classic-fence-design-gate but it would look rather silly on our small drive leading to our little cape cottage. That brings me to another thing, SCALE. It is so important, I think, to remember scale in your home. Obviously, no one would put this massive gate in front of their little home, but I have seen many things done horribly out of scale. When I used to watch design shows and a designer would create a ‘theme room’ I would shudder. Yes, you may indeed like an Italian villa, who wouldn’t, but if you live in a ranch house in Wisconsin, it is not going to fit the scale of the house and really, it won’t feel right.

So, I wanted something in scale that would look nice, express the idea of ‘private property’ but still say ‘welcome neighbor, lets have a cup of coffee.’

Now, I love the look of this type of fence rounded-corner-fence as it is very equestrian. It makes one think there might be a fine thoroughbreds head peeking over it at any moment in search of an apple. But, I also wanted a bit more ‘style’ to frame the yard. The front of my house is also where I have planted my little orchard, so both my veg garden and the orchard will be viewed from passers by, even more reason to make them more than just functional.

Here are some of the very rough sketches of plans I had from my little sketch book. fence ideas I decided to go with the simple ‘X’ pattern. It is remeniscent of a horse paddock,  or even a fence to be jumped, but decorative enough to frame a small home.  The central X makes a great spot to highlight a low growing flowering plant, of which variety I have not yet decided. Here it is in its beginning states.veg fence1 First the poles had to be sunk in. I use a post hole digger. It is one of my favorite tools, as I love fencing. It is the architecture of the garden and if you get the architecture right on your project, the rest will follow wonderfully. Without a good sound base, your home or garden could be as unflattering as an ill-fitting dress. So, I dug the holes, leveled off the posts (pressure treated garden posts quite cheap only 4 dollars a piece). Then you need to level by eyesight. There was much standing back, as I did not only trust the level, because how it looks to the eye in this case was more important to me. I am sure my neighbors, who probably already think me a little nuts, were wondering what I was up to now. So, here is the next phase veg fence2 You can see I installed the top and bottom sections and the cross pattern. I can see this garden and fence from the windows in my little sitting room  (my command central)view of new fence from sitting room 1 You can see the picket fence I installed last year. It was going to be white and may still be, but I have not yet decided. I was happy that I can see my veg garden from this room. Certainly, it does not look as nice and orderly as I will want it to be, as I envision it, but part of the homemakers skill, I believe, is to be happy in the moment. Knowing there is more to do to make this look ‘finished’ feels good to me. For, I can enjoy it as the work I have done and also the thrill of seeing my ideas come to life. But, unlike some jobs, I do not dread the future work, for I am doing what I love.

I have in my sitting room what I call a ‘thought box’. It is an antique drawer from an old cabinet that used to keep old letter type. I am sure you have seen these around. They are narrow and full of little compartments, but when you tip them up on their side, like a frame, it is a little divided world. I have one that rests on the ledge of the chair rail in my sitting room. mind box bw I sometimes haphazardly put things in the little boxes. It changes with my moods and sometimes I don’t think about it and then look back later and go, “ah,”. It can be therapeutic and also reveal a little of yourself. In it right now are some shells and sea sponges from my hubby and my time on the water in our boat. Treasures. Old family things, a calling card form a great grandmother etc. But in one of the little cubicles is a fortune from a fortune cookie, it reads : “Doing what you like is Freedom. Liking what you do is Happiness”. And, really, I think that says it all.

We can be in the midst of the chaos of our ‘making over our homes’ but if we do try and keep to a schedule to make living in the moment happy, then tomorrows work load is not a dread but a happiness. Liking what you do is Happiness.

Now, back to my fence. If you were to have such a fence designed and installed it would be very costly, but this is very economical. In fact the cross pattern is made from strapping, which is under a dollar a piece! It is not pressure treated, but it doesn’t matter, as it is getting painted white in outdoor weather sealant paint. In the old days, there was no pressure treating, you merely treated it yourself. Even the little finials, here I have only one installed, are very cheap at my local lumber yard and they simply screw into the post. I have since decided on another design finial, which you will see when the fence is done and painted. You can also see that this section sits in front of my veg garden. This, too, is in a very ‘beginning’ state. But, the important bits are in, the good soil and some of the plants, they don’t know rather or not the garden looks pretty! I will show before and after of the veg garden, however, as it progresses. I have some lovely sketches of different ideas I want for my veg garden I will show one day.

Speaking of sketchbooks, you should, as a homemaker, keep not only a journal of your schedule, but  a ‘sketchbook’. It doesn't matter if you can draw; stick figures and boxes filled in with marker and labeled with scribbles are fine and do wonders to help you plan. Things from gardens, room design, to even table layout for your party, because easier, more fun and have a more tactile ‘real job’ feel to them in this manner. It might seem silly, but later on you can look back and remember and recall how you have built up your little world from ideas to scribbles to reality. It is a very powerful tool and helps to feed your future ACTION! Then, when you recall the man at the mountains summit feeling powerful, you can look around you at the world in which you and your family live and think, “I made this”. Climbing a mountain is pretty great, but so is creating a world in which to live and feel ‘at home’. A very powerful breed are we homemakers.

As I mentioned, having cut my finger did slow down my day. I was not able to work on my fence, but I did get to my usual chores. I even had time to make a quick batch of cookies for our tea after dinner. I doubled the batch and put the rest in waxed paper. I thought it so cute, I had to snap a shot of it. cookie dough tube Now, this is about the size of what you would buy ‘ready made’ at the grocery store for around 4 –5 dollars. I made a double batch of cookies, baked up half and put the other half this way, and I think the whole thing cost me around 2.00 for both the baked cookies AND this tube of dough. This is definitely cheaper and better and I am sure many of you do this already. And, when I bake these I sprinkle a dab of coconut on the top and it gets brown as they bake. They make very yummy cookies. It is just a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe from my old Betty Crocker book. I use almond extract instead of vanilla and add the coconut. I have not made a dessert in awhile, as we are all trying to watch our waistlines around here.

I have promised more pictures of what I wear and have been very lax with the camera in that respect. I went out to lunch Wednesday and here is what I wore. bw me suit

Today, I have to go out marketing and to the shops, so here is my head scarf I definitely need to lose weight and am going to now try to really follow my 1955 diet. I have to say, though, that still being heavier than I am happy with, I feel better and more confident in my vintage clothes.

I love the head scarf and my new glasses. These are very vintage looking and are tortoise shell with little orange rhinestones in the corner. The head scarf is great if you are having an unruly hair day, or just to look pulled together last head scarf glasses

Now, I really want to touch briefly on the solitary aspect we sometimes feel as homemakers or vintage women. That aspect of feeling not quite ‘in touch’ with the world. I think it deserves its own post. But for now, really, it is the attitude and position of many artists to feel so disconnected and through our art, we try to make sense or connect in someway. And we homemakers, we are artists. We take in the world, digest it and remake  it in our homes. In a sense, we are sending out an SOS signal, “the note in the bottle”. We are waiting for the answer. Living unique and outside the norm is never easy, but most often rewarding. There are days of tears and sadness. Moments when you just look at the world and those around you and think, ‘how easy to join you to just be part of it all’ only we know, deep down inside, we wouldn’t really. We’d be imposters, masquerading about with the smiling bland faces of ‘normalcy’. Sometimes, it is better to be alone and know you are in the right place, then to be awash in the crowd having lost yourself.

I know that is little comfort when one feels alone at home. But, the modern world has given us this medium to use. The internet can connect us together and though we are not next door to one another, we can still try and connect. I really do want to, now more than ever, pursue my idea of a vintage organization and perhaps someday, we could meet in various cities, one never knows. We must think of our sisters of the past, sitting quietly bent over their needlework by the fires, the clock ticking, the cat stretches and the isolation is numbing. Yet, it is this very thing, this power in the moment of quiet contemplation, that has made we women what we are today. So, though it is often sad to be alone and we should try to find or make a way to share our vintage passion with others in our community, when we are faced with that day alone in the house and feeling blue, think of those sisters of the past. Take their power of silence and determination, and take a task to hand and sit by your own fire and create. Perhaps no one will find the bottle with the message, but at least you will have found yourself.

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