Wednesday, April 22, 2009

21 April 1955, “Lil Stockholders, Napoleons, Pork Roast, Renovations, and Fashion”

lil stockholders First Minors to Become Stockholders under New Law. New York, New York: Keith Funston, left, president of the New York Stock Exchange, is shown presenting to two children, Howell Hollis III, 6, and his sister, Mary Jane, 4, a gift from their father - 19 shares each of American Telephone & Telegraph stock. The children are the first minors in the United States to become stockholders under terms of a new law, enacted early in March by the state of Georgia, which eliminates the red tape surrounding gifts of securities to minors. At right is the father of the young stockholders, Senator Howell Hollis (Democrat) of Columbus, Georgia. The presentation ceremony took place on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. April 22, 1955.

On the cooking a baking front I found this interesting. Whenever I peruse my Boston Cooking School book from 1951, I am always amazed. I feel sometimes to have unearthed a great tome from some long forgotten wizard. It has an alchemy about it, this book, where you will innocently look something up, as I did with this recipe for Napoleons ( which I love, but have never attempted)napoleonsnapoleon pastry So, as I read the short recipe it refers me to many other pages. Again, as if trying to deciper some ancient rite or language, I thumb quickly through the pages, puff pastry, washed butter, what does it all mean? So, I have not yet attempted it, but I will. Here are the various parts of the recipe if you, too, would like to try. puff pastry 1puff pastry 2wash butterI have never heard of washed butter until this. And in finding the wash butter directions I came across this on the same page:make butterNow, it says you can make small amounts of butter with sweet or sour cream. DO you suppose it would work with modern store bought sour cream? I am going to try it and let you know. Have any of you ever done this?

 roastI made a lovely pork roast last night with potatoes. The sugar peas look frozen but are actually coated with a sort of salt and herb rub, rather good. Here it is dished up and that is my white sauce with a touch of Romano in it. It was lovely and I cooked the roast in my slow cooker as I was busy nailing paneling to my dining room walls.

  roast on plate

Speaking of the dining room, it is still in progress, but I am not too sad about the pace I am going. Here you can see that I now have the primer on the trim. wall trim primed And here you can see the corner cabinet looks more ‘built in’ now, I believe.corner cabinet corner trimed and primed (the paint on the glass will come off last with a handy razor blade SO much quicker and cleaner than trying to tape off each pane of glass.) Here it is with the doors open.corner cabinet doors open You can see the color inside is different than the walls. It matches a color in my good china. The shelves are still primed and waiting for their second coat of the blue. Here you can see the next phase of the fireplace.fireplace hutch mantle The unpainted wood attached to the bottom is the future mantle. Today I will build out the firebox below which will bet primed and trimmed out. It will not recieve it’s fire log until fall, as we will not need it for summer and I can save the money until then. So, I think I may be able to actually eat in here this Saturday, though some bits will be undone, but can be completed as we use it, such as the mural which may be an ongoing unfolding art scape that happens over the remainder of the year.

Now, in the gardening front, I have done more on my little veg garden. I will show pics of the progression from it’s being a neglected leave strewn corner of my yard to the delight I hope it will be. But, the plants cannot wait for my to put up my decorative fences or cute little hand made gate, so some things were put in the other day. I have my snow peas, cabbage, lettuce, beets in. I also put in my tomatoes even though it is really too early, but I put little hats on them to protect them and they have been fine. They will be stronger for it, I think, I am also going to try and train my zucchini to climb part of the fence, rather than take up precious room spreading out on the ground.  Here they are in their little box I just built them. That way I can control the weeds and nutrients more than directly in the soil.zucchini seedlings  Here they are planted and you can see the chicken wire where I will train them up the side of the fence.zucchini seedlings planted And here is a close up of one of the little darlings with it’s seed pod still on, like a jaunty little cap.zucchini seedling with seed

We also have some new animals in our little menagerie. Unlike the wild bunnies, though, these were planned. Six new little chicks. They are so adorable. I will show pictures in my next blog. I have four full size hens now and honestly they give me just enough eggs, I really need more, so these 6 little darlings will be joined by two more fancy chicks next week and come fall I will have a full chicken house of 12 laying hens. I am hoping to sell what I won’t use to our local store to make enough money to pay for the chicken feed, that way I get to enjoy the chickens, have fresh eggs and no cost, and I get to meet more local people as I bring in my eggs for sale. I think this is a very 1940’s thing to do that I would have held onto in the 1950’s after having gone through the war. They are adorable, and as usual, my dogs love them. Monty, my little chi, loves birds. Here he is with our parakeet Pockets. monty and pocketsThey really love each other and Pockets will groom Monty and he will sit carefully and let her nibble away. Much animal love going on around here.

I was thinking this morning about something one of my wonderful commenter's, Jeanne, said:

“I got up and did personal care make up and all. I put hose on and a nice skirt with a casual top nice shoes too. I walked taller all day and felt better about myself. I almost always cook from scratch but today I felt special while doing it. I have always kept a nice home but let myself be thought of last or not at all.”

It really made me think. It sort of cemented my ideas of the labels we use today on ourselves. It seems we, today, feel that either you are glamorous and stylish which means that you MUST forgo such trivial things as housework and cooking, or you care about cooking and cleaning and don’t have time for that fancy stuff. To care about fashion you must be a Paris Hilton who can’t open a can or won’t break a nail. Really, that might be due to the idea that fashion and style is about the designer. About it being a high priced thing only the rich can enjoy.

Somewhere along the way, the designer became more important than the clothes. I know that great designers and big design houses such as Worth were always known, but really to have style and fashion used to be more in the hand of the individual. Look at these photos from an article about  embellishing simple pieces to make your own look. tops1tops 2It doesn’t say “buy this style from this designer”. It allows fashion and style to be an accessible and personal thing. I know that Dior (whom I do love) was a known designer, but you could really copy his clothes, the designs were about making a ‘style’ and either you could afford the originals or you made your own and embellished them how you like. Now, you have to have something with a label or a recognizable pattern that you cannot produce yourself.  Here, You buy a darling top and with your own hand make it have ‘style’.

Really, the casual style of jeans did away with the personal expression of self-sewers making their own fashion statement. I know there are sewers out there, but that is not the norm. Even teens and tweens aren’t really allowed to have a cute style that has a fun innocence. mother daughterThis image is so sweet of the mother sewing and helping her tween to look adorable.patterns Could you imagine a tween or teen wearing this outfit today? I know it is not the style any longer, but I mean the sense of self-worth as portrayed through the clothes that look neat and show you are ready to be an adult. Now, adults dress like teens! Again, I don’t want to play the “it was better back than” game, but I know I enjoy dressing in pretty clothes and in a way it would be fun for young ladies to dress for themselves in fun things they like and not so much dress to ‘attract boys’ which seems to be the bare all style of today. Thank goodness I don’t have a teen daughter.

I always laugh now when I hear people say how the 1950s was when everyone had to look the same. All I have to do is go to the mall and there is the uniform. Jeans and t-shirt with an ironic saying, skin tight low rise velour sweat pants with writing on the bum. That’s pretty much it. Now, how is that not uber conformity?

Another interesting point, I was looking at the article about embellishing your new tops with Gussie and she said, “Oh, who is that model”. A perfectly valid question today when the model is celebrated for herself, but then it was a job. IF you had the right body shape you showed clothes in magazines. It was about the clothes or the article. Now,  it has to be about how wonderful a superstar the model has become. Super models. In some way, it is sort of bad. In stead of glorifying the clothes so a girl can think, “Oh I would look nice in that” it glorifies the body which is hard to have if you are not born with it. Young girls want to have the body not the darling outfits they are wearing. Those are the subtle ways I see harming women and young girls. Another layer of today peeled back through simply looking at fashion in one of my magazines.

For example, yesterday I changed out of my work dungarees to go do my errands, one of which was stopping at the lumber yard for more wood and the local grain elevator to pick up my new chicks.  I had on a nice cotton dress, petticoat, neck scarf, cardigan, gloves etc. It didn’t feel to me as if I was ‘dressed up’ but, boy did I get the service. I KNOW I can saw and build wood, so with the gentleman at the lumber yard see the ‘delicate’ lady getting some lumber, they are only pleased to help. I am not saying I was ‘playing weak’, but I did load some myself and then I was GLAD and appreciative of the help of the gentleman. Did it make me less independent or less a modern woman because I let a man help me? I don’t think so. But, clothes used a certain way do help you to feel special. And it illicit responses I find nice from others. Even if I get an odd stare or snigger about what I might be wearing, I honestly don’t care anymore. It is as if the clothes give me a confidence and power to ignore it.

Another example, after working last night again on my project and getting dinner ready and setting the table, I took 20 minutes to go upstairs and put on my nice outfit from earlier in the day and reapply my lipstick. Then, my husband gets to see me looking nice. Some would be appalled at this, thinking, “I’m not going to get dressed up for my man, if he doesn’t like me the way I am that’s his problem” but really, I did it as much for me. I take the time to make a nice dinner, set a nice table and want to sit down and feel this is MY time too. I don’t want to feel like I am the rushed servant sitting down in my tussled hair and dungarees. It is so SIMPLE to just dress for dinner, and it makes such a difference. I actually don’t even think about going out as much, because I like dressing and eating my nicely prepared meals with my husband at home, nice wine, discussions and my dogs.

Again, labels. I think a gal can be into nature, like hiking, organic farming and still wear nice dresses and take time with her appearance. I know, it seems as if it is just a matter of personal taste, but honestly you really do feel ‘good’ about yourself. We don’t mind indulging in the pleasure of tv or video games or eating junk food, but the pleasure of looking good we disdain. Even those of you who think, “Oh, it’s not my style to look pretty in a dress” you might be surprised the power of such clothes. It couldn’t hurt, right?

Now, that we have the freedom to dress as we see fit, obviously I am not saying that I want to take that away. I don’t want to be a clothes Nazi telling people what they should or should not wear. But, for those of us interested in vintage and in changing our life in a way that I think a lot of the readers of this blog do, I can tell you first hand that clothes DEFINITELY affect your well being and even, on some level, your ACTON.

To know that I wear a certain outfit, almost a uniform if you will, when I am cleaning and then change into ‘marketing attire’ means I need to budget that time. Honestly, it really isn’t as much time as you think and then when I am getting ready to switch from one task to another, instead of the old me, who may think, “Oh, well, I’ll just sit down first for a minute, or I’ll  look at the TV first” and then never do it.  When you are in that mind set that you have to go get dressed to go to the store, you are focused on it, you get your clothes on, check your hair, etc and you are ready and prepared and then you go out and do it. So, just from my own experience I really do find that ‘dressing for the occasion’ helps me to be on time and to actually DO the thing I am dressing for. Why not try, the next time you are going shopping, to put on what you think of as ‘nice clothes’.  A nice skirt and sweater or top. Nice shoes (they can be dressy flats or darling sandals) a bag, maybe a hat or scarf, put on some lipstick and fix your hair and then don’t be surprised how tall you walk and how helpful sales people are.

I guess, again, I am just finding the things I began to do BECAUSE of the project are really becoming more a part of who I want to be and who I am becoming. When it is no longer 1955, I am fairly certain my dressing will continue, as it really motivates me, makes me feel good, and helps me to organize my clothes and to have fewer, but well cared for garments. It is funny how many clothes I have from before 1955, yet so many of them are ‘casual’ clothes or so many piles of various styled tops and bottoms etc that you often feel confused about what to wear. Now, I have a determination when I open that closet door. Gardening today? Dungarees, men’s shirt tied at waist and sensible shoes. Marketing and going to town today? Nice dress or skirt and sweater set, hose, pumps gloves and hat. Dinner with my family, nice skirt clean top freshly styled hair. It almost seems that I spend less time thinking about the clothes all the time but look better and am more organized by knowing what is ‘appropriate’.

Again, I don’t want to play the “Oh, it was better then than it is now” game, I am merely stating what I am finding to be true.  I honestly believe it really can be applied to the modern world. And, in so doing, would and could really change how you feel about yourself and your life.

Well, I have many things on my plate today, so I am off.

Happy Homemaking everyone!

Oh, I almost forgot: Kay, if you are out there, I wrote you a letter today and lost your address. If you email it to me I can get your letter off to you! Thanks.

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