Thursday, October 22, 2009

22 October “Some News and Vintage Week Thus Far”

new yorker oct 22 1955 This is the New Yorker cover from today 22 October 1955. I think it very telling of what is coming our way. The increasing technology and impending waste. Here you can see the old Victoria, the old 30’s radio and now the mad is carrying up his out of date TV set with the tiny little screen. Flash forward and replace the attic with a landfill and welcome to our future.

time oct 55 This Time from 17 October features Ed Sullivan. A new force in tv.

Tonight in 1955 CBS would broadcast in color for the first time and did this production with Mary Martin and Noel Coward. Unfortunately I can only find the b/w version of the show, but good anyway. Here is a clip of Mary Martin and then one of Noel Coward.

churchill victory poster I thought I should report on VICTORY WEEK thus far. I have to say I am surprised by a few things this week. First off, I felt maybe the list was rather sparse, but was surprised when it cost similar to what I had been spending, but I did include prices for things that I would not buy every week. I have noticed, much to my surprise, that I have not starved nor felt slighted as of yet.

I think the biggest fear was only one dozen eggs. Obviously, however, were it 1940s wartime I would most likely have chickens and therefore have more eggs at my disposal. I, myself, have kept chickens until our move (I am building a new chicken house come spring for new chicks) so would have them. However, I bought the dozen eggs and said I will stick with it.

The first move I made to conserve these precious eggs was at breakfast. Every morning (seven days a week) I prepare a ‘full’ breakfast for hubby and I. Sometimes it is waffles or pancakes or your basic egg bacon toast. Whatever it is, there is always eggs involved. So, this week, I did what I would have done during wartime, gave up some of my own eggs. Now, my hubby most likely would have been off fighting, but had I a child or grandparent at home (the role my hubby is sort of serving for this week’s project) I would give over my rations to them. So, at breakfast with eggs, he gets his usual two eggs over easy with toast, bacon while I chose to have one toast and black coffee. The result of this is that I realize, I can eat less. I think I may actually have dropped a pound or so this week due to my choosing to just eat half of what I would normally eat at breakfast to conserve our supplies. In so doing I realized, I was not hungry at all and therefore have been overeating. No surprise there, as I do need to drop some pounds. It was a nice realization and an interesting way to gradually lower my food intake. By focusing on the project at hand and not on ‘I am on a diet’ (which techinically I wasn’t) I just have begun to show my body I am giving it less.

Next, I have noticed that even with my already reduced amount of groceries since this project (which is the opposite of what I had anticipated thinking “Oh, I will be cooking all the time and baking so I will be buying so many groceries”)I can do with even less.

For example, the meat supply. Since I bought probably half the amount I would normally get for the week for this VICTORY WEEK, I have had to conserve it. I have found that the amount of meat I would normally serve, say a chop or steak each for the two of us can be cut in half and even more so. When I take a chop that would have served one of us and cut it up and serve it with potatoes or rice mixture or bake it in a dinner pie, I don’t need as much and yet we don’t feel we are doing without! My husband has not said he is hungry at all and it seems he too has lost some weight this week (he is already thin and loses weight without effort, so unfair!) In fact, he often gets comments at work for his lunches which are leftovers or made up of leftovers. His co workers are amazed when he had a side dish of a fresh made cabbage dish, etc.

I had also imagined my reduced butter amount would be hard, but I have not made as many desserts (better for the waist) and what I do make is more precious and therefore we eat less, eat slower and savor it over a cup of coffee (also a luxury during the war, I imagine)

So, here I am again, expecting what you would think from the modern perspective, “Oh, no, cut back our food, no way. We would starve and I am not going to torture my family” When really, as Americans, I believe we eat far too large portions already. I have heard Europeans remark on our restaurant portions before in amazement at the quantity.

This week has again cemented for me the homemakers (and really anyone in any aspect of life) best tool, Imagination. They do say Necessity is the Mother of Invention and when the chips are down and you just don’t have something and you say to yourself, “No, I am not going to go out and just buy it right now” you make do.

I found that white sauce is a great extender to things. Any sort of gravies extend what meat you have and make a fun and delicious and filling meal. Here is a fun realization one of our commenter's (she was anon or I would give her name) realized.

Out of desperation one day, I made the cheese sauce and instead of macaroni, I had gotten two heads (really good price) of cauliflower, making, of course cauliflower with cheese sauce. I served it with rice. Surprise. It was good and filling as a meal, but not very colorful. (I was into monochrome that day)! With the leftovers for the next day, I thinned it with a bit of milk, and with a hand blender, pureed it. Voila! A cheese and cauliflower soup.

I think this weeks experiment is definitely going to have me readdress my usual grocery buying. It also has got me excited about shopping locally, as I now know that who cares if meat is half the price at stop and shop, if I only really need half the amount, I can spend the same at our local place. We really have been conditioned to think, “It’s cheaper therefore I can have more and ta-dah, my life is better” when really that means: too much food so overweight or unhealthy or spoilage and waste, too many things so pack it away and pile it up in your house and then toss it into the landfill, too many clothes that you don’t wear or are shoddily made and last a few months and get tossed out etc. Waste Waste WASTE! And really, I thought trying to do away with such things would mean living a dire monk-like existence of self-sacrifice, but really, it is just a matter of rethinking our life in terms of what we eat and use and then it is an easy pattern to get into and I don’t feel as if I am being deprived of anything.

I think the other main thing I have realized with this project is that we, humans, are a people of habit. Get us into a groove and we just go with it and it seems normal or as if we have always done it. So, changing the pattern to better save money and cut down on waste and help your community and give a blow to the consumer culture is not so hard. And, one you begin you will get into that human groove of habit and it will become rote. If many of us began doing this, we would really realize the power we do have over our economy and our lives.

Now, another thing I have noticed this week is my attention to waste in other areas of my home. I was using the dryer this week (as it was too rainy to hang out clothes and I have not yet, in the new house, made a place to hang indoors) and hand the lint in my hand and was about to toss it out when I realized, “Why am I throwing this away?” Here is a great soft wad of cotton and wool fibers, beautifully washed and dried, why toss it. I thought how this could be used to stuff a toy ( I know I have heard that it can be flammable, but again I think we can just be safe and wise with it with children). It made me think of all the little things I just toss out without thinking. I already have began to save glass jars from bought items to use in canning and storage. But, something like dryer lint you don’t think of, but it really is a nice soft clean wooly product. I found some interesting uses for it online and one sounds rather fun: clay. I borrowed this recipe from a random blog and hope they won’t mind my posting it.

Dryer Lint Clay

Here's recipes for making clay out of dryer lint.
  • 1 1/2 cups lint from the dryer
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 drops wintergreen mint flavoring
  • Old newspaper
  • Paint

Place the lint in a saucepan and cover it with the water. When the lint is saturated, add the flour and stir until it is smooth. Add the drops of wintergreen oil flavoring. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it forms peaks and holds together. Pour it onto newspaper to cool. Shape and model figures, or cover a form with it, such as a balloon. Allow to dry for 3 to 5 days, then paint and decorate as required.

What a fun thing to do with kids, or for me as an artist. And we had talked about Christmas decorations before, and if you don’t have family heirlooms and you do want to make a new theme each year, why not make it out of this clay and other ‘left over’ items?

I am sure there are countless other uses. I used to felt things and was wondering how it would work for that.

I met an older woman the other day who approached me to say she loved my outfit (dress, hat, vintage purse you know the usual for me). We began talking about various things and I mentioned how I was trying my VICTORY WEEK. She mentioned something they did in ‘the old days’ to conserve things. She said, of course, everyone wore stockings and when they were beyond wearing/repair they used them to stuff toys and also, I thought this really cute, as a soap minder. They would save up hand soap when it got too small to use and would just melt away to waste and collect it up in an old stocking. Then you tie it off and all the bits are held together with the stocking and you can still wet it and use up all the soap until it is gone and of course you can hang it up to dry in the bath, so the soap doesn’t deteriorate away, how clever!

Well, how has your VICTORY WEEK been going? Any of you finding you need more food? Any of you who have not tried it, are you tempted yet?

I know  I have been remiss in posting photos of me. I have had my hair cut shorter in September, into a 1950s pageboy. page boy 1950_s_pageboy It makes it easier to curl and style. I wear mine often with brushed forward straight bangs, but curl those as well, depending on the day. I will get some photos. I am going to try some more sewing today and will post some pictures of the dress I plan on making today.

Keep Homemaking and Apron Revolutionizing!


  1. I might try victory week but I'm still getting used to meal planning... I have caught my shopping going down by a huge amount!

  2. One of the things I've picked up from my WWII-era cookbook is that even when eggs (or meat) were only on the breakfast menu once or twice a week, breakfasts were filling with lots of whole grain cooked or cold cereals and fruit that contains lots of fiber, i.e. prunes, dried apricots, grapefruit, or sliced oranges. I'm enjoying reading about your experiment!

  3. loved the comments about "stretching". when we were first married and on a very tight budget, i used to stretch the meat/veg. allotment by making lots of stir fry and pasta primavera dishes(i got pretty creative!)that used rice and pastas to fill in. it was satisfying, cheap and delicious! it's amazing what different spices can do to perk up a meal, as well. noodles and potatoes also stretch meat when you make soups and casseroles, as we all know! so my family never felt deprived, and never knew we were watching the money like a hawk.
    i also got a kick out of your dryer lint revelation! :) my kids have always saved the cotton out of vitamin bottles to use for crafts, and my mother's friend insulated practically her whole basement w/dryer lint!!!
    love your new haircut as well. can't wait to see actual pictures.

  4. I love the pageboy style!

    I'm pleased for your conserving effort - that's the way weight loss should be, calm and quiet, not a tense, emotional struggle. Good for you!

  5. We have been doing well. Casseroles and dinner "pies" are filling with less meat. My husband has never noticed the difference of not getting an actual whole piece of meat. =)

    I miss having chickens as well. However, where we live now, they are not allowed. Booo

    I have stored (in my cellar) and frozen my excess vegetables from my garden too. I only wish the snows had not started so early this year so that I could have harvested more.

    Lint can also be used as a mulch in flower pots and flower beds, along with the contents of a vacuum canister! My vacuum canister is usually dust, dirt and doggie hair, so right back outside it goes! ;)


  6. lpm-that's great and good hint on the lint. I was wondering if you could spin it like wool? I mean some of it is wool fiber as well as cotton (at least in my dryer) and would be curious to see what sort of yarn/fiber it would make.

  7. Hmmm, good question! I have no clue, but I don't see why it could not.

    You probably already knew this one. I keep the bones from whatever we have eaten, throw them in the freezer. Later I make a stock or soup from them. I LOVE dried beans as an alternate protein. The stock adds a richness, meaty flavor. =D


  8. lpm-I did know that but always good to remind us or anyone who didn't know. Much of what we think of as 'garbage' really has many uses.

  9. Thanks for the lint clay recipe. That is one I will have to try with my kids. I have also read where you can use it to make paper. The did tat (I think) last year in my daughters art class at school. Had all the ids bring in lint (especially anything colorful) and made homemade paper and then crafted with it.

    I am interested in your comments about Victory Week. I guess, in a way, we are living like that all the time. I just have a different "menu" I go by. I have to stretch our budget every week to feed 6 people (4 males) on around $70.00 US. That isn't alot if you think about it. Not by "today's" standards. I have found that making casseroles are good, for they are tonights dinner and tomorrows lunch (and my hubbys late night snack). I also incorporate noodles or rice tostretch things out as well. I am thinking of making the salmon patties, but my hubby ate them alot when he was a child, so isn't crazy about them.

    I will also save bones and make stock...or purchase left over chicken from the deli case and then boil it to make chicken and dumplin's. You can get chicken quite inexpnsively that way, and make a HUGE pot of soup or dumplin's.

  10. A great way to use dryer lint is to stuff it in empty toilet paper rolls. We use these as fireplace starters. I just keep the empty rolls in the laundry room and stuff them everytime I empty the lint screen. Using two items one would normally throw out.


  11. we used the soap in a sock trick for girl scout camping trips.

  12. I have a confession to make. I got a free 60 day membership offer for BJs wholesale club in the mail so I decided to go see what all the fuss is about. I feel tainted now! I did buy a few things like a new blender (my old one just up and quit last week) and razor blades for the hubby but I certainly won't be paying for a membership. There are a few things that are cheaper than the regular store prices but I can pick those up on sale for about the same price anyway and they certainly wouldn't save me enough to justify the membership fee or the extra couple of miles I'd have to travel past my usual grocery store.

  13. rhonda-thanks for sharing, it's like a mass consumers anonymous meeting (standing up) Hi, my name is ___, and I shopped at a big box store...
    What is funny is the cheap products those stores sell probably are mostly plastic and won't last that long, for less you could probaby get a vintage one on ebay or a local swap shop that will last forever plus look really wonderful! For me, I just can't stand the feeling of the place, the peoples faces the high ceilings, it gives me the creeps. I think it is amazing that we actually live in a time when people will PAY to have the right to go to a store and spend their money on the products there? Is it really worth saving a penny here and there, when really, you could do with less, spend a little more locally? So many times it is about 'oh, I need to save money' but I bet most people actually spend more at such places than they would if they shopped locally and therefore learned to NEED less, u know what I mean?

  14. Thanks for this post 50sgal. With grocery prices increasing instead of feeling helpless (at first I did, after all my frugal efforts the 'world' seems to conspire against making progress) I determined to use/eat less of the particular product; a way of keeping the prices the same. Thanks for sharing your Victory week thus far. It inspires me to look at our consumption which as very healthy eating husband and wife only, we still eat excessively.

    Speaking of lowered consumption, making do, not buying for the sake of it, choosing our products carefully.. What goods, equipment and household items would you consider the most important, necessary, useful, loved, vital (now you've matured) to the efficient running of your home? Linda

  15. I forgot about the stockings being used to stuff toys with, my mother has a big doll that her grandmother made when she was a child and it is stuffed with old stockings, I used to like to play with it when I was a child because it was heavy and felt like a baby.
    Im starting to feel comfortable in vintage clothing but Im going a little at a time. Were you uncomfortable or nervous when you started wearing your clothes?

  16. I adore Mary's gown in the video! Feel like I should bust out my vintage "Grace Kelly" gown and see what I can do about the tear in the sleeve. Though I have not thrown myself into Victory Week, I have been going to the grocery story less often and trying *really* hard to only buy the things I need. Must remind myself constantly to stick to the outer isles. Keep up the good work, Lady!

  17. Linda-hmmmm I will have to think about that one. I know my vintage kirby is very important, but could make do with my broom. I have to admit to still enjoying my dishwasher, but know that my only cleaning products are pine sol, bleach, soda and water and of course rags ( I have now, I am proud to say,completely done away with sponges. so less throw away)My linen napkins are a must and a great saver on money and waste. A friend I hadn't seen in awhile was over for an improtu visit the other day and I said, "Oh, stay for lunch" she was surprised at my making actual food and said, "Oh, linen napkins, you don't have to" to which I replied, "Well, I always do, not to make you think you're not important, it's better for the environment, too" and she said, "Well you have to wash them and waste water" and I said, "well, I have to wash my towels no matter what and they just go in with them" and she was silent and then said, "You're right". I may need to make a post about what I think is 'crucial' to homemaking.
    M-Well, I did sometimes feel self conscious, like when I had to (which I try never to) go to say the Mall or some large store like that, but for the most part around my little town, the tea shop antique stores grocery etc, I feel so 'normal' in my clothes now that the other day I put on my dungarees to clean ( which I had not done in awhile as I have some housedresses I clean in) and felt odd. You get used to it and it seems normal. I find I like the positive responses more than care about the negative. I would rather think I affected someones life in SOME way than just blending in. Perhaps, the person who laughs or makes a comment will later think about it and wonder why can't they try it, you never know. I really need to increase my glove wardrobe though, particularly for summer. I am looking for a pattern to make some nice lightweight ones for next summer (rather next year is 1956 or not, I think my wardrobe will probably stay basically 50's with some late 40's thrown in, after a frugal homemaker would have some things saved from the war years, right?

  18. Oh my, talking about the cheap junk at those places. My son asked me for a toy car and he'd been exceptionally patient with me so I decided to let him have it as a special treat. It was a pretty pricey treat at $12 but it looked like a decent car. I opened the box and a wiper fell off. OK, I figured I'd glue it back on. Two minutes later the other wiper and a door handle fell off. After 15 minutes it lost a wheel. Now it's back in the box and I'm taking it back.

  19. 50s gal, here's a free pattern for gloves from threads magazine, however they are mostly for cold weather. Perhaps you could adapt the pattern for what you want to make.

  20. Quote from Calvin Trillin - “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."

  21. rhonda-that is a sad story, isn't it funny how there are still toys in great shape even from the 50's but the cheap plastic things of today, how long will they last in tact? The plastic will last forever though, just not in any form we want.
    Connie-Thanks! That is wonderful, I think I can interprate those into summer and winter gloves!
    Weenie Elise-I love that quote, it speaks volumes!

  22. Beth from Upstate NYOctober 23, 2009 at 5:03 AM

    Your experiment with less breakfast is interesting. I have tried many times to give up snacking in order to lose weight, but pretty soon I was having an apple, or a "few" peanuts for the protein, and before you know it I was back to toast with butter and jelly. Recently I was looking for better ways to manage my g.i. problems, and one article recommended giving up snacking in order to let the digestive system rest. I tried it and this time I've been able to give up my snacking altogether. I'm feeling healthier and, yes, I have lost a little weight. Sometimes you just need to be motivated by the right reason.

  23. Well, VICTORY Week hasn't gone so smoothly in our house. With Halloween around the corner the candy requests have been on going and hubby complained there wasn't enough meat in the cabbage soup I made. (He's such a meat lover I wasn't surprised.) Also the kids, while they're used to real meals, had a hard time giving up the snacks as they were already in the house but I haven't bought anymore, although hubby did. I had planned on getting local organic popping corn but the CSA where we get most of our food was out.

    I think the best thing to come out of the week has been the return of a real breakfast. I do this in the summer since we're not rushed to get out the door but during the school year the kids have been getting cereal themselves. The cereal isn't bad but they don't think to get some fruit to go with it. So this week it's been oatmeal, biscuits, eggs, waffles, bacon, cereal, and smoothies- but not all on the same day. I know the smoothies aren't too vintage but it gets in a dairy serving (something my kids are lacking) and an extra fruit serving.

    I don't think I'm spending any more or less than I had. We're pretty well stocked so there wasn't much non-perishable buying. I already had more than enough flour and other baking ingredients. But it has made me think more about what I call "real" food. So much of what passes for food today is just chemicals and sugar. Not that I have anything against sugar per se but the nutritional value isn't too high.

    Thanks for posting this wonderful idea. I'm glad I tried it.


  24. S-That is so great, I am glad someone with children has tried it. Do you think that the 'real breakfasts' will continue after this week? Isn't if funny how it seems hard to change, but once you do it for a few days, it just becomes normal. I think, and I am not saying the past was always better but, that our modern world does tend to make us lazier so the idea of 'doing' or ACTION seems hard and it is easier to just 'plug in and tune out' but what I find is when the ACTION is done, the 'plugging in' seems to feel more rewarding, as if I have given myself a treat ( of course I have also come to love the ACTION that I once thought would be tedium, such as cooking and food shopping) I have not noticed that great a difference for us and Hubby has said nothing, he is not a picky eater anywya, but he loves my 'experimental' vegetable dishes, so the extra cabbages I had down cellar have made a few debut's this week as side dishes. I am definitely learning what veg to plant next summer that will last longer or can or freeze better for the following autumn.

  25. It is OK that you could only find the video in black and white. Everyone probably would still have had to watch it on a black and white t.v.
    Even when I was a girl lots of my friends only had black and whites.(the early 60's) Nobody ran out to get color till the old one broke and could not be fixed.( tv had Tubes back then. You took it to a repair shop)
    Your story about eggs for breakfast makes me think of Lucy. They were on a budget and she wanted Ricky to have bacon while she had eggs so she could have bacon and eggs. (maybe little rick could have toast )lol

  26. Texas Accent In SydneyOctober 23, 2009 at 9:36 PM

    Hello, 50s gal ... new reader, have now read through April, eyes wet from Gilbert's story ... cleaning products ... you got my attention pointing out we see pictures of different home areas on the label, buy way too many "specialty" products ... checked my own cleaning area, hung my head in shame as I know better than that ... making concerted effort to use things up (can't waste, parents born in Depression) (and recycle containers) ... during Friday grocery shopping looked for and found pine oil cleaner ... at ankle level!, along with turpentine and metholated spirits ... my goal is to get back to: bleach, pine oil cleaner, dishwashing soap, silver cleaner, metho ... working hard to catch up with you, be on the same day ... Regards.

  27. Texas Accent-Welcome! I am glad you are inspired. It has been a long interesting year. At some point, I want to read through it again, but not yet. That might have to wait until Jan 1 for me. Welcome welcome.

  28. Speaking of stretching and conserving. I thought I would pass along a couple little hints first,about butter. (since you mentioned butter in this post) Here's a very inexpensive way to "stretch" your butter. (this only works with butter NOT margarine) Let one stick of butter come to room temperature. Put it in a bowl with 1/4 cup of canola oil (good for you) mix with electric mixer till the oil is incorporated in the butter. Then slowly add 1/4 cup of cold water to the butter while the continuing to mix with electric mixer. Mix until creamy and smooth. Store in the door of the fridge and it will be softer to spread then regular butter. (I do a pound of butter at a time...4 sticks of butter, 1 C. oil, 1 C. cold water = 2 lbs. butter!)

    Also, stretch a gallon of milk cheaply too. Split a gallon of milk between 2 gallon jugs. Add one can of evaporated milk to each jug and fill with water. TaDa...2 gallons of milk! Or if you are down to a half a gallon, add a can of evaporated milk and fill with now have a gallon of milk again!

  29. I know this may seem silly but I used to use my leftover nylon stockings as lint collector's when the water would drain from the washing machine into my laundry tub., it worked great and the idea came from my Grandma S. who was a housewife in the fifties........

    In fact, my mom still does this :)

    When the nylon becomes too full it just stretches down so you let it dry and replace it with another one :)

    Always love a great way to reuse things :)

    Mom in Canada

  30. Anon-these are such great tips I need to repost them in the next blog! Thanks and I am going to try both. This will also be an incentive to us to not shop the big box but the local grocer and even though the butter and milk may cost more, we can stretch it further, thanks!

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