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 Here you can see the old Victoria, the old 30’s radio and now the mad is carrying up his out of date TV set with the tiny little screen.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!

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