Sunday, January 31, 2010

31 January 1956 “My Computer Troubles, A Challenge for February, and Technology”


I both love this technology that has allowed me to meet all of you and for we to form this wonderful community. Yet, I loathe it for some of it’s scarier elements. This past week, my computer has been acting odd and we began to suspect it had a virus. It became so slow and froze so many times, that hubby has had to spend the past two days saving all my data, images info etc, backing it all up and then wiping the hard rive. Then he had to reinstall all my programs and various data. This ‘scare’ has also included some odd emails showing information concerning my banking accounts etc.

I try to do as little online of that as possible. I pay my bills with checks in the mail, but my bank is Online, rather I want it to be or not. And, if and when I wish to buy from eBay or Esty, I have to do so online with PayPal. There is no real way to get ‘unplugged’ unless, I wanted to give up all of you, which I do not.

As I have said before, one can live a Vintage Lifestyle WITH technology, if we remember to use it as a tool and not let it use us and own our time and our lives. Yet, the real danger of all our money becoming digital information merely being ‘passed’ over the internet is something one cannot escape, unless you keep all your cash in your mattress. Even then, you might need a card (debit) to rent a car or make travel arrangements. It seems we cannot escape or unplug from technology. So, the lesson I have learned, is with my computer, I have to be, as I have learned and am learning to be with my home, VERY organized and downsize things.

If I keep all of my files, etc, in a few easily to access folders, than every few months hubby can erase and reinstall windows on my computer, so as to best protect me. He is also a Linux man. He has wanted me to switch to it for sometime, but all of my expensive programs I use for my website are on windows as well as the program I use for my blog. So, he has partitioned my computer so that I can run both Windows and Linux. I am rather pleased with the outcome, as Linux (I have Ubuntu) has so many free programs that are great for organizing. So, that has made me happy.

But, I feel as if I am behind on my “Website” to do list. I am, today, trying  to catch up. First off, I have been working on getting our page ready for the FEBRUARY VINTAGE DIET & EXERCISE CHALLENGE. I hope, any of you who do not visit the website, would do so or like to do so for this challenge. We are going to be following a rough calorie counting diet plan for the month as well as using Jack Lalane’s original 1950’s broadcast exercises. IF you want to join in, go to the WEBSITE and then on the left click the Diet and Exercise page button and you will see some info. The Jack Lalane link can be found there as well as HERE. We will be discussing and sharing our ideas and victories on the Forums page under the February Diet Challenge topic. Join in, if you like!


jan56timecover This image on the cover of the 30 January 1956 Time magazine is a scary look into our future. The brain and the pointing hand in the missile. The post war years to now have been fraught with such fears.

Even here, in 1956, the Middle East is an issue:

Gathering his experts about him, Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden got set to visit the U.S. this week. The major problem on his agenda was finding Anglo-American agreement on the Middle East where, warned Eden, "a universal explosion could easily be touched off."
(To read the whole article from the 1956 issue go HERE)


Robert Browning 1812-1889

I was thinking today how there have been other times in history when others ‘looked back’ in hopes of making a better Future. I thought of Robert Browning’s Poem today:

Home Thoughts From Abroad
OH, to be in England

Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England -- now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops--at the bent spray's edge--
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
-- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
Robert Browning

Whilst Browning was writing this, his world was changing around him. The Bucolic setting of England was fast becoming littered with factories and the air filled with the black soot of the Industrial Revolution. Certainly, he saw an idyllic England where “…the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough” was on its way to an end.

This, of course, makes me think of our own time. My own longing to an older time, even to the post war years when technology was really beginning seems almost as if seen through a fairy mist. It has a touch of Avalon about it, as it sits on the threshold of the old and new worlds of technology and consumerism.

Certainly, my own problems with the computer and subsequent scare and anger over my own dependence on technology often makes me want to turn back the clock. Yet, there is so much that cannot be changed, so we must learn to live with it in a more aware or intellectual readied state.

If we could but embrace technology with its scientific merit, but distance ourselves with our human heart, then surely we could begin to ‘use’ technology when it is truly helpful and spurn it when it exits merely for ‘its own sake’. Why do we need a new cell phone every 6 months? Why does my phone need to be a camera, video recorder, TV, etc? Is my life better plugged into music all day at the expense of those around me, in getting to see and hear them, to know them? Are we now as isolated in crowds and on busy streets as we are at home in the darkened room: alone with the eerie flash of the TV or computer upon our glazed eyes? Each of us in our own room, disconnected from those around us, connected digitally to somewhere else?

Do we not have our own will? Can we not say, ‘no thank you’ and turn away? Need there be a TV/dvd player in the seats of cars to ‘entertain’ children? How about talking and discussing? If they scream and shout, ask them why? Isn’t it better to hear their complaints then to fill their little brains with flashing images preparing them to become future consumers?

Yes, I truly become scared of the future, but not because OF technology, but because of the way we let it USE us and our need for it FOR ITS OWN SAKE? It, itself, is not bad. It is neutral, it has no heart nor soul. It can only be what WE make it. WE cannot say, “OH I hate it but, I MUST do this or that online  it is easier.”

Well, YOU then are making it in control of your life. You can say no. You can do thinks simply and use it as a tool, which is why it was first made. SO many good intentions have lead to bad results. When factories were built to weave cloth, it is true it was to make a profit for the owner, but it also made jobs and fabric easier and cheaper for more people to have access to it. But then it made nature and the countryside change for the worse, it polluted, people were hurt, children, in the machines, the prices were then affective on local markets when overseas competition could now ship into your community.  Even now, our over abundance of clothes due to cheap and easy cloth and production makes us waste more money and more time and resources cleaning them, buying them, storing them. Imagine if you and your family each had exactly five outfits for each day of the week. One ‘play/work’ clothes for Saturday and your Sunday best. Imagine how easy wash day would be! Imagine the reduction in clothing cost! Especially if you mended those rather than replace them with new. Of course we say, “No that is impossible” But, it is not. We may think, well my kids need to be fashionable and we need to have more clothes, but why? Do we want to teach ourselves and our children that what others think of us or how we are viewed THROUGH consumerism is of higher value than savings, thrift, economy and more time away from caring for THINGS and instead spent on PEOPLE?

The Industrial Revolution was not done intentionally to hurt, but it has come to hurt. If we could have stopped along the way and thought of the WHOLE picture which is not JUST profit or EASE but HUMAN CONDITION and the outcome of our world and to smaller business and communities. Think what a different world it would be if we did consider those things FIRST. Yet, we accept every new thing without question and then ask, as we sit in our piles of STUFF, ‘Why is the world the way it is? WHY can’t it be like the old days?’

Well IT CAN, but it is up to YOU! It is up to all of US to say no. EASIER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER and to think a thing through to its end possible result just makes sound human sense. Yes, my kids need cell phones because then I can know where they are all the time. But, now they are more disconnected from one another and from you. They are growing up in a world where everything is at their fingertips and yet they cannot relate to the world or one another as humans as a whole or a community.

Every action has a reaction. We must THINK and we must ACT and we must be RESPONSIBLE. WE CAN HAVE THE GOOD OF THE ODL DAYS BACK. If we don’t want the chain stores to take over STOP SHOPPING THERE! “Oh, but it is so cheap and so easy”. I should rather have lived a hard but satisfying life than to save a few pennies and some time to have more to waste in front of the TV or to merely buy more junk we do not need. Truly, our Apron Revolution can only be if WE act and if we take ACTION. I want the old days as well, how bad do you want them?

So, though technology and advancement itself is never done specifically to hurt or is something in and of itself to fear, how we use and allow it to control our lives can be the hurtful thing. We need to use our technology wisely and when it does not serve our purpose, stop using it. If we don’t want the chain store in our town then stop shopping there.

With the discussion of Browning and his own look back to a less technological age, it  is somehow eerily fitting, then, that at his funeral was played the latest technology: an Edison Wax cylinder of his own voice reading one of his poems.  It was said it was the first time that a man ‘spoke from beyond the grave”

Thursday, January 28, 2010

28 January 1956 “Elvis on TV, Ekberg on Life, Cookies and A Recipe for a Dress”

elvis56 Elvis Presley would occasionally pop up in my 1955 year, but he was still not ELVIS yet. Today, he makes his first TV appearance on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. The Dorsey Brothers were the famous Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Tommy Dorsey was very well known from the 30s-40s. From 1955-'56 the Brothers had their own show on the CBS network, "Stage Show," which gave them nationwide coverage.
 lifejan56 On the cover of Life from the 16th of this month, 1956, we see Anita Ekberg filming War and Peace. It is interesting that she is on the cover as she was not yet that famous in this film, staring Audrey Hepburn.war_and_peace  In fact, she is only billed at the bottom of the movie poster. Here is a trailer I would see for the film here in 56.
Ekberg would eventually become a cult ‘sex symbol’ appearing in playboy and participating in various ‘stunts arranged by the studios’, such as her top coming off while photographers were on hand. She is most remembered for this scene in the 1960 Fellini film La Dolce Vita.(four years away for me, how the world will begin to change)
I made this little recipe up the other day, as I wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie without the chips, but wanted to give it a chocolate flavor. I merely ‘adjusted’ a chocolate chip recipe, but did have to add more liquid in order to give it the chewy, fudge like quality I wanted. They turned out really well and the recipe for 50’s Gal’s Fudgey Chip-less Cookies are going permanently in the recipe box!
50’s Gals Fudgey Chip-less Cookies
(you can also make these delicious Mocha cookies by adding 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee to the flour/cocoa mixture.)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (or 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
coconut for topping (could use walnuts or whatever you prefer)
Beat the sugars and butter until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl blend ( I use a whisk or you could use a flour sifter) the flour, chocolate powder, and soda, salt and powder. Then gradually add to butter mixture. Spoon as you wood a chocolate chip cookie dough onto a greased or paper lined baking sheet and then sprinkle with coconut(it gets toasted in the oven, yum!) Bake about 9 minutes. If you watch these and take them out when they have spread and puffed some but still look a little underdone, that is the perfect time to take them out. This will keep them soft and fudgey.
I have not been able to find a pattern where in the bodice and sleeves are cut as two pieces. I have seen these following patterns which gave me the idea as well as seeing the look in many magazines.coatdresssimplicity patternHere you can see thet the bodice and sleeve are cut together, but there still seems to be two pieces for the top. Sometimes you can see that when it is cut as one piece, as herepattern1simplicity1714 you have a more ‘bat wing’ look. I am going to try making a pattern like this next, a more open roomy are. As you also see heresimplicity 4403And for the summer, such a top as the short sleeved version here would be such a dream to cut and sew. I actually know very little about sewing. I have never had a formal class and though my mother was an amazing seamstress, would never really show me how, as she said it was easier to ‘just do it herself’. Therefore, at university I learned how to thread a machine, sew a straight line and guessed at putting in a zipper. I still have no idea how to make a button hole on a machine and will, when needed, simply hand stitch the opening. I hope, in time, to learn more. But, with the very basics, I feel comfortable enough to make clothes for myself and have done so in 1955 year. I wanted to ‘make a pattern’ for this dress I had in my head and I did.
I also wanted to try a fitted lower waist look, as seen here.lowwaist50sdress Where the dress is fitted to you (not loose like a 1920’s style)but falls below the natural waist before it becomes full again. I also decided for wide pleats, but you could easily gather the skirt or cut the skirt as a circle or gored skirt. In making a dress, the skirt attaches to the bodice, that is it, so you can have the freedom to interpret this pattern any way you wish. It would also be lovely with a fitted pencil skirt bottom making it more of a ‘wiggle dress’ or a sheath dress.
Here is the steps I took. I did not, however, cut out a pattern to use again, as I wanted to make one up first and see how it fit, ease of sewing etc. SO, here we go:
bluedress1 Step one: I took a cardigan that fit me the way I wanted the finished bodice to fit and my main fabric and some white bleached muslin.bluedress2 Next, I determined how long I wanted the sleeves (knowing I would have the final sleeve have a fold to show the white lining).I then folded up the bottom of the cardigan to show where I wanted to hit my on the hip. You can see the curve of the cardigan and where I chose to have the fold or end of the bodice hit a little below my natural waist. I also used the buttons to denote where the centerline of the dress would be. I have the two pieces of fabric doubled on themselves so when I cut on the fold (the fold is under where the buttons are as that will be the middle of the bodice when the cut pieces are opened.) And by cutting both the outside and lining fabric at once, I am certain of their fitting together as I am not using a pattern.
What is nice about taking something that you know fits your bodice how you want the finish product to be, is perfect. And, I used my cardigan to show, you do not have to use a dress or fitted top to achieve this.
bluedress3 The cardigan obviously has some give, as it is yarn, while this dress was to be unforgiving cotton. SO, I cut about 2” around the outside as in here. Next time I will cut it a bit larger as I had forgot I would lose some inches when I sewed the two pieces (the fabric and the muslin lining) together I would lose inches when it was turned right side out.
bluedress4 So you can see how simple this bodice it. It is cut on the fold (the straight side) and cut in once with the muslin underneath. You can see the slight curve of the waist to the hit. I left the top straight as I wanted a boat neck I could iron down. But at this stage I could have cut a slope of any length or style to make a neckline.
bluedress5 Now I opened up the fabric and ended with four pieces (two of the dress fabric, two of the muslin lining). So with wrong sides facing in I pined a dress side to a muslin/lining side as show. Then, I simply sewed around the whole bodice around the neck arms all except the very bottom (which would be the waist). So that when I was done I simply flipped it right side out and had finished edges. I then pressed it flat.
bluedress7 So, now I have two identical pieces sewn to the lining and turned right side out and pressed flat. Those two pieces now get pinned to one another inside facing in. You can see here where I decided how long to make the ‘cuff’. I simply made sure I pinned to this point and then stopped sewing evenly so that the ‘cuff’ is really the two sides of the sleeve (with the finished ends) flipped out. Very easy and darling, I think. I also put it on while pinned on one side and sleeves pinned to determine how large to make the neck opening and then just pinned there. So , now just sew the arms and one side (leaving one side open for the zipper and the shoulers (don’t sew the neck shut). At this point I put it on and wanted to pin darts into it, but it was too tight, so I had to leave it as is. It looks fine and feels comfortable, but the bust would be more flattering with darts, so next time I will cut it larger to allow for this. You always are learning with sewing. (well I do, as I am NO expert at sewing that is for certain)
So that is your bodice done. Now, for the skirt you have many options. I chose to use a pleated skirt as it is very easy and looks very finished. I took the yardage of my remaining fabric (about 4 yards) and held it up to me to decide the length I wanted the skirt to be. I then pinned that and while it is still one long flat piece, I used the pattern as a guide and pre-hemmed the skirt. This, I am sure, will be a major no-no to you expert sewers out there, but I know when I was first learning (and really still am) hemming was always a bit scary. I discovered this makes a perfect hem and if you are careful when pinning the skirt to the bodice, it will not be crooked.
bluedress8 So, here you can see I found the length I wanted the skirt and then, using the pattern as a guide, pinned that straight line along the fabric. Then using the patern I sew the finished hem in while it was still a flat piece of material (later cutting the excess fabric off the inside hem).bluedress9 Here you can see up-close ( I drew a yellow line around it) how I followed the pattern as a guide to make a straight hem line that blends with the color of the fabric.
Next, even before I sew the skirt together to make a tube, I pleat it onto the bodice. bluedress10 An easier way is to gather the fabric and sew that on for a gathered skirt, I like the looks of the pleats and find it very easy to do as the skirt is not yet a skirt but on long piece of fabric pre-hemmed. Your pleat size will be determined by the amount of fabric you have. So, after that is pinned, I sewed that to the bodice. Then I take the zipper ( I used a 12”) and place it on the bodice side where it will go and see how far into the skirt it will need to be, then I pin that spot and sew the skirt together to that point. Now I know the opening is the exact size needed for the zipper.
Finally, the zipper is sewn in and then the dress pressed and you have a finished 1950’s inspired cotton dress. This is an easy dress that can be completed in one day.
bluedress6 bluedress11 The skirt still needs to be pressed and darts in the front would be more flattering especially as I am on the smaller busted side and every little bit helps. But I like the lowered waits, the pleats are comfortable. The dress will also look nice with a petticoat ( I am not wearing one now and my face was not worth keeping in this shot ladies!)This shot also doesn’t show very well how the boat neck folds down to reveal the white and I didn't flip both sleeves very well either. These will be held in place by taking vintage buttons and hand sewing them in those spots both for decorative affect as well as to hold it in place. It would be fine without, but I love those little touches. This picture had to be snapped quickly by hubby last night as he was on his way to bed.
So, I hope this helped any of you wanting to start to learn to sew or wanting to try your own pattern.Though this is hardly a masterpiece, it was a doable dress from conception to finished dress in one afternoon. With this concept, I can now veer off this main idea and make patterns of varying degree. I could add a collar. Cut the neckline differently. Cut the back and front neckline differently. I could also cut the back piece as two pieces, rather than the one, to put the zip in the back.  Though, I really prefer the look and ease of a side zip.Cut the front as two pieces and add buttons; Endless possibilities.mcalls3820This pattern here (which I do not own) has inspired me to try my idea and cut the top half as I did in this dress up to the bust line and cut it larger )To allow for the darts. and then a separate fitted piece in the center and then add the skirt. Maybe that will be February’s dress challenge.
If you can learn to thread and run a straight stitch, you could easily follow these steps and make your own ‘vintage style’ dress. I hope you will try it. I will post these instructions on the website as well, for future reference.
And, for those amazing seamstresses out there, you will forgive  my ignorance and hopefully, tell us better ways this could have been done. We all must learn form one another, don’t you think? I would love any tips to make this ‘pattern making’ easier so let’s hear from you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

25 January 1956 “Winter Olympics in Italy, and Special Moments”

56 olympic symbol The 1956 Winter Olympics, officially known as the VII Olympic Winter Games, was held starting today 26 January and to run to February 5. They were held in  Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

tony sailer This handsome fellow is Austrian Ski legend, Toni Sailer (pronounced to rhyme with miler) Here is a bit about him from an article:

At the 1956 Winter Olympics, Toni Sailer  not only became the first skier to sweep the Alpine triple crown, winning downhill, slalom and giant slalom, but did it with such domination that his margin of victory in the giant slalom has never been equalled. Sailer’s combination of grace and power was unmatched; rather than shave slalom gates he took a higher line, which meant a longer path but more speed, and demanded more control.

His talent and good looks made him a superstar in Austria, where skiing is the national sport. Then, at the peak of his career, only 23 years old, he retired. He starred in films, made 18 record albums.

I have to say he looks ‘dreamy’ to me. And I love skiing. Hubby and I really enjoy it when we get the time to go. We used to go regularly, as we had access to his grandfather’s ski place in New Hampshire, but his grandfather (not so lovingly called the ‘evil grandfather’) sporadically hates the family. So, now if we go, it is on our own dime.

We have been discussing child rearing in the Forum on the site, and I have no children and would NEVER offer advice. But, I find the discussion so interesting and the various takes on child rearing very informative. Hubby and I always said if we did have a child we would want him to learn to ski as soon as he could.
On one of our ski trips a few years ago there was a child, maybe no older than 5 or so, skiing like you wouldn’t believe. He was so small and low to the ground, he did not even use poles. He would go down the ‘hot dog’ slope doing air born moves and ride the lift quick as a wink. We were rather impressed, and being so young he had little fear and much flexibility to recover. That is the sort of trained and controlled fearlessness that could certainly help a child to grow into a child that could face life without fear but not in a foolish way, but rather a studied and practical way. But, of course, the cost of such things always talks us back out of having our own child, oh well.

We have also been discussing Vintage Beauty Rituals, such as long bathes etc. This got me thinking about how I enjoy sitting at my vanity and setting my hair. Hardly a glamorous act, yet it was a ‘moment of simple joy’ that I have.

So, then I began to contemplate those little moments of joy in my simple little life that I have found since my year in 1955.

For example, that time at my dressing table setting my hair, or just getting ready for the day, fresh from the bath, towel dried hair and about my business of rolling up little circlets of hair. The moment of being at my little table littered but organized with my special little cases and jewel boxes.

Really, it is that living in that moment that seems to me, glamorous or luxuriating. And it doesn’t have to be something as Hollywood as soaking in a bath, eating chocolates and talking on your Princess phone (though that must be lovely too.) There are even such moments in my kitchen. Certainly, there is the drudgery of doing endless dishes, or sweeping the floor for the third time that day, but there are also poignant moments. If you like cooking, as I found I have, there are moments of luxury there as well.

For instance, I was making homemade pasta last night for a ground beef casserole recipe I was trying. It was meant to be a simple quick ‘one dish’ meal, and really it was, but I like making my own pasta and it is not very hard. Even now, recalling it, I can relive  that moment as vividly and as joyously as if I was recalling my first day into the French countryside, or any other happy memory.

There you are, like an artist in her studio, hands messy, flour everywhere, your apron soiled, but I was happily singing away turning the little crank on my pasta machine and watching the dough miraculously turn from blob to lovely long panels of dough. And every time I run it through the blades that cut the dough into pasta, I smile like a kid with their toy on Christmas morning, batteries included!

I have just come to not see my life as a mad rush between entertainments, lulls of boredom, moments of panic, worry of ‘what should I be doing?” What career should I take? The modern world to me, before 1955, was one long moment of joy followed by doubt or guilt and then empty moments to fill the void. I did not even realize I was not happy, until those moments of simple happiness that opened up to me in 1955.

I think once I was focused on the project not as a project but as a real life, with me as the homemaker in my home, suddenly my life started. The simple pleasures I would get out of the frustration of first trying to do things like laundry, ironing, cooking, sewing, were unmatched to other moments in my life. I wondered, how could something so simple and so silly be so fulfilling?

Ah, but there is the rub! It wasn’t simple nor is it SIMPLE to run a home as homemaker. And ‘SILLY’ is a relative term. The modern world, modern females, had taught me to view these skills and chores as a mix of oppression and time wasters. Yet, all along, right under my nose, lurked this whole world within the walls of my own home waiting for me to discover.I felt like I had opened that wardrobe door and there stood Narnia, endless, vast and full of adventure. I was happy to step in, mind the coats and mothballs.

So my point, yes I do have one, is that rather or not you are a homemaker now or would like to become one, even if you are frazzled working person with kids to care for and meals to cook, there can be this world for any of us. We all live in a home in some manner. We all call someplace our home. Learning to live in that place in beauty and grace may take time and skill and cut into your tv and computer time, but it will be worth it in the end. In fact, rather that the ‘instant’ gratification of turning on the tv or computer, you find that the PROCESS is half the fun. The learning or the steps leading up to that roast beef dinner and homemade chocolate cake IS the fun. That is the LIVING!

I have also found ways to mirror and remake for the better, those visceral moments in our life out in the world, at home. An example being that little pleasure I had from visiting the Coffee Shop. The act of standing in line, deciding, then you have the hot coffee, and you sprinkle on the cinnamon or chocolate. Now, over there, that corner, snuggle in and read or peruse a magazine. I have found my less expensive home version of this to be 100 times better than the old version.

cinnamonshaker2 I make my 1955 version of a coffee house drink (it is really a cafe’ au lait). I pour the milk into the little pan and in goes some sugar and a touch of vanilla. Let it simmer, not boil mind. Then fill your favorite tall glass or cup half full. Now top it off with fresh brewed coffee, mine from my old percolator and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. These actions of making it and readying myself for that moment is pleasurable. And here I have not spent money on gas to go to a Starbucks, nor wasted part of my day on the trip, and all the pleasure still remains and is even increased. Even the act and finished product has enough pleasure for me to photograph it.

cinnamonshaker1Here is my little vintage shaker of cinnamon and sugar. And here, frothy and warm, the lovely elixir awaits my eager lips.coffeeupclose

Of course, I still enjoy going out and meeting friends, but now I much prefer to do that at my house or theirs rather than a coffee house. Don’t worry, I will still support the local coffee house when I do choose to go there. 

I really think if we begin to live our life, which is in fact many of the details such as food, clothing, clean house, organized closets, we will find that is more fulfilling then we were lead to believe. Of course movies and shows and computer time is also fun, but tempered with other aspects of living also improves upon their enjoyment as well, I have found. And, again, the schedule is our friend in living. It lets us decide when and where we are to be and what to do and how to do it and of course with some flexibility. Rather than let each day be dictated to us by the willy nilly randomness of the unplanned modern world, let’s take control of our lives and enjoy it along the way. Those ‘things that need to get done’ may not need be ‘got through’ but may, in fact, be your life; the living and joy of it. You never know until you try, right?

Well, I have my pot roast to prepare for tonight's dinner. I will include photos and recipe tomorrow on that one. And I also made up a new cookie recipe that is scrumptious and great when you are out of chocolate chips. Until tomorrow then, Apronites, enjoy your life and all its moments.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

24 January 1956 “Realizations, Repairs, Recipes, and Aprons”

I realized last night, as you ladies had pointed out on my last comment on my sewing blog concerning my machine breaking, that to try and fix it myself would be the VINTAGE thing to do.
I just had one of those moments where I have taken my sewing machine out, readied myself and BLAM it stopped working. It might be the tension, as you say, as it will sew a few stitches and then seize up . Then I broke the needle in my frustration. But, I have told myself I CAN fix it. Or, at least I will try. I can see where it is fastened together so if I can get to the inner workings, perhaps I can discern the problem, at least it is not my computer! And I did find out we have a vacuum and sewing machine repair shop in town! So, that can be my last resort. I just felt bad as if I was letting you down.

rosierivetor Sometimes I feel a small portion of what the 1940's woman must have felt rolling bandages, knitting mufflers, and working in munitions plants, that I am doing it  for 'all of you' as well as myself. It feels good to feel ‘responsible’ to someone outside yourself AS WELL as yourself. It makes you think before you act or reconsider your behavior and use of time. I rather like it.
The good news is a friend is going to lend me her machine for the week, so I can at least now worry that I have NOT finished my January challenge with the dress. Phew!
So, today I have been busy with my usual day, but have set aside time to edit and upload recipes for the website. There is SO much involved in the website. My hubby pointed out that professional sites would have people working on each page, researching, testing, editing, photo-shopping, and uploading content. But, all you have is little ole’ me, so I try to do as much as possible. When I think of what I have uploaded today it seems such a small thing, but it took up quite a few hours of my day (about 5 to be exact). But now the main Recipes page has to ‘sections’ and then you can link to what I worked on today which is ‘Meat Main Dishes’. I scanned and edited them . I tried to make them available to print in a 3 x 5 format. I could not succeed, however you can easily copy them by hand, or copy them to your computer and resize them. What I have decided to do for all the recipes I put on the site now, is save them in a printable 3 x 5 format and maybe, if it would be of interest to anyone, sell a cd of the images for a few dollars or something. Only if anyone cared to have it to print from.
I thought I would, in this post, show a few things I have done recently but not posted nor talked about. I made my own recipe for a Banana Maple Coffee Cake that I can share with you.
coffeecake Here is a picture of the whole cake, that is cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. Here is a slice, it was actually nice and thick and moist and so delicious, if I do say so myself (and I do).coffeecakeslice Here is the recipe
50’s Gal Banana Maple Coffee Cake
Sprinkle (for top, center and sides)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas (about)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Set oven to 350 (F). Stir the sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon and sprinkle 1/2  in and around a well greased pan. You could use a fun shaped Bundt pan, but I just used my spring form pan, both would work. I liked the spring as it seems to make it a bit more moist.
Beat butter at med speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes or so). Add eggs one at a time, Add banana, sour cream, vanilla, and syrup. Beat at low speed until blended. Sift flour and other dry ingredients  into a bowl. Fold into the butter mixture and pour 1/2 the batter into the pan. Then sprinkle the other 1/2 of the sugar/nut mixture, then continue filling pan. Bake about 45 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Now, this second recipe I cannot take credit for. I had a hankering for Oreo’s and though they are readily available in 1956, I did not want to eat the chemicals, nor spend the money. So with what was in my pantry I made the following recipe. I did not have any shortening, however, and used 1/2 cup butter in lieu of 1/4 butter, 1/4 cup shortening for the filling. It was of course yummy and probably healthier without the shortening.
oreo1 Hubby had these in his lunch today and shared them with coworkers who were amazed that his wife made her own Oreos. He loves bragging about that sort of thing. Makes a homemaker proud too! I took this photo to show the lovely look of them.oreo2 And this for fun!oreo3 I like taking pictures of the food I make. If I ever make a Cook Book, I think I would enjoy photographing it as much as writing it.
Here is the recipe I used.
  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C plus 2 T butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. Beat in the butter and the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. (I found that while the dough wasn't sticky enough to roll, I could press it flat with my hands like the recipe said and then use cookie cutters to cut perfect circles. If you just care about the taste, then there is no need for the cookie cutters. Also, remember this is a chance to get creative and use all kinds of cookie cutters.)
  4. Bake for 9 minutes at 375 F. Set on a rack to cool.
The filling
  • 1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla.
  2. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
  3. To make a cookie, pipe teaspoon-sized blobs of cream into the center of a cookie using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip. (If you don't have a pastry bag, you could easily just spread the filling with a knife or use a Ziplock with the corner cut off as a pastry bag. I had a pastry bag, but I only had a star tip. The tip doesn't matter much.)
  4. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.
Though I did not get to work on my dress today (the borrowed sewing machine is on its way!) I thought I would show an apron I made. One of our fellow Apronites mentioned to me I should make aprons, for obvious reasons (Apron Revolution!). So, I wanted to show that I actually do. I have not made them to sell before, but it could be a possibility. It is just that my plate is so full at present, I would need to have some serious scheduled readjustment. Any way, here is one of them.
apron1 apron2 I have to explain the pocket. I have an obsession with anthropomorphised items. Dancing teapots, running fruit, square dancing corn. From the 40s-50’s such images were available for embroidery or iron on from everything from linens, to aprons, to tea towels. So, this little fellow was drawn by me, inspired by one in my collection, then turned into an iron on and then I sort of ‘antique’ it so the pocket has a sort of aged look. The apron pocket is trimmed in red rick rack and their is vintage lace on the waistline. I just thought it would be fun to share it with you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

23 January 1956 “Sewing Challenge”

I am glad you enjoyed my post on list/organizing. Organizing and therefore scheduling has become, since this past year, my life preserver. If my 2008 me met the now (1956) me I would probably be amazed at 'all that I do'. But, since I have come 'along for the ride' from 2008 to 1955 then 56, I am happy with my progress but not satisfied. That is to say, I am probably the most content and calm I have ever been in my life, but I feel like I need to always keep that little 'fire in my belly' to want to do more or improve on what I do. I will always find that one drawer that I might only open sometimes to be met with 'clutter' and think, "well, there is a rainy day project". But, I don't think nor would I ever want to think I am 'perfect'. In fact, to strive for perfection without the idea of ever reaching it might be a good overall life goal. I shan’t ever be there, but what a ride anyway! It gives one a road to travel but no fear. Onward!

Today it is a small post as today is my JANUARY DRESS CHALLENGE day. I promised myself one new homemade outfit a month, so today I am starting it.

I had originally planned a mélange’ of a dress pattern I have and a repro 1950’s bolero a friend made my into a dress, but have put that off. This one is challenging enough.

butterick pattern 6156 It is  Butterick  Pattern 6151 and it might be a dilly of a pickle, with the sleeves and collars and all. You can see it is an early 1950’s dress (the hint of shoulder pads from the 1940’s as you might see in early I Love Lucy) so I will, as I would have then, ‘update’ it to 1956.

June Vogue 56 Even though this is from June 56 Vogue, you get the idea that I could see similar lines and want to ‘replicate it’. I am using this blue print fabric I had bought this yardage in 1955 to use, but had set it aside. I think it will be nice for this pattern. I might make the cuffs and collar white, but not sure as of yet.

Well, off to work. Let me know if any of you are joining me for this month’s challenge and if you are you can comment here or I have started a Topic in the Forum on the website for discussion and to upload photos to share, so let’s get to it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

22 January 1956 “Thank You Note, Scheduling, Organizing, and WISH lists.”

I want to first thank all of you for being such dears with my silliness yesterday. Normally, I try not to let things upset me too much, but by my very nature I tend to take things to heart. And, as a lady knows, sometimes we are particularly more susceptible to emotions, enough said on that point.

I felt so honored, indeed almost not worthy, of your kind words and responses yesterday. I felt rather the spoiled child who feigns a skinned knee to get a kiss from mummy. Although, in all truth, I was hurt by the comment only in that I felt I had first offended and second, lost a friend.

I smiled this morning when I got to the end of the comments of the post and found this response from our reader SallyGrace:

SallyGrace said...

I am not a follower or a rah rah commenter, but I hope you take this in the vein I mean it in.
I read the comment that makes you sad and although the poster disagrees with you I don't think they did it in a hateful or cruel way. They have their opinion and you have yours. Oh boy do you have yours - sorry I couldn't stomach reading your novella of a reply.
But as others have said - it is your blog and your right to say whay you want and how you want to. In addition you are also in control of accepting and deleting comments.
In our everyday lives we are surrounded by people with different opinions and beliefs. I don't understand why this particular anon poster made you sad - but I wouldn't worry about it. I am sure at your age you have realized that not everyone is going to agree with you.
And may I add - blogger has spell check. It is your friend. I wish you would try it out. Ex: It is discern, not descern.

My spelling is deplorable!  And don’t even get me started about grammar! I am an absolute heathen when it comes to punctuation and grammar! I fear, particularly in my response comments, I become so ‘fired up’ or ‘heated’ that I just let  letters shoot from my fingers in all directions, hoping that a few of them will land in some semblance of sentence structure. And then I fire it off with a ‘send’ without any reference to spelling. In that heated state, boy can I go on! It is true that many of my responses are novella length and probably unreadable due to my irrational spelling habits. But, so many of  you are so kind you treat me as the kind old aunt who ‘will go on’ but you love her anyway, and for that, I thank you.

There was a time when spelling was not standardized and a gentleman might be apt to spell the same word multiple ways in one letter, but I am afraid I cannot claim that distinction. My fault is in the heated action of my ways.

What I need is Hemmingway and a red pen to go at most things I write.  I am nothing , if not Long Winded! You have only to look at any of my posts to see that. Maybe Santa will bring me an editor this year, I wonder if he could fit one in my stocking?

A kind reader emailed me an Erma Bombeck quote that reads,

“If you can't make something better, you can always laugh at it!” 

And that is exactly what I am doing. Thank you all.

Now, another reader had sent me a letter asking to expand on scheduling. I had meant to address this question yesterday (before my little episode), she writes:

When you have time - would you mind writing a blog entry or stuff on your apronrevolution website on PLANNING and ACTION please? i found this interesting in your blog entry a few days ago - about learning re planning week, month year etc.
Also thank you for the entry on routines  (and any more you'll write on this I'll gladly read!). It was good to read about making hair/nails/etc a thing to put into routine as I don't do this and see self-care as important in terms of being able to run a household - but how do we fit it in??
Thanks again!

Now, I am not an expert on planning, of course, but 1955 has taught me its importance. Without planning and a schedule and lists, the very act of homemaking becomes a chore. With a schedule, list, and the ability to be elastic WITHIN that structure, keeping a home becomes not only manageable, but rewarding and yes, even sometimes, FUN!


I think the first moment I realized the difference between running about like a crazed headless chicken to ‘catch up’ with the house and the reality of the schedule came to me while making a list. I was a few months into my year 1955. Everyday I would test the boundaries, trying one more thing, adding new recipes and scrubbing under the furniture not just around it. I was sitting down with my various lists, feeling rather frazzled, when I realized, “Ah-ha! a wish list merged with a schedule” I remember I got out my little notebook ( I find if I keep one in my apron pocket through the day, little bits of inspiration are not lost, or phone numbers or ideas etc).

My hand could not keep up with my fevered brain, “I want to sew “X” amount of dresses, and bake bread, and have a dessert always available, I have to have time to draw and I want to learn embroidery. Oh, and set my hair too! Ironing sheets and starched petticoats!”

Well, you get the idea. I went on like a child contemplating Christmas. It was fun. I had sat down and wrote out all the things I would like to do and have time for while also maintaining a clean organized home.

Sat back exhausted from the exercise, the list suddenly loomed before me. If  I were in a Hitchcock film, this would be the point a spiraled disk would swirl behind me and my hair stand on end.

“How?” thought I, “Could all of the things on this piece of paper fit into one year, heck into one lifetime!” Feeling dejected, I sipped my tea and most likely pouted a bit when it hit me: Why couldn’t a make a schedule for my life month by month and week by week scheduling in all the things I wanted to do WITH the things I HAD to do. Of course I couldn’t write a symphony, a novel, paint 50 cupids on the bedroom ceiling all in one week while putting three meals on the table AND cleaning the bathrooms. But, I could prioritize. I could lay out a calendar for the year (or a twelve-month, if you were starting in March, for example, then into February of the next year).

For some reason, for me, the idea of one year seems a doable time frame. It might be different for each person, but I like the look of ONE YEAR. It has to it a sense of the tangible while still holding the far reaching mystery of the FUTURE.

I even made lists for things that would affect the budget. I knew I wanted to save “X” amount of money or spend “X” amount, but I had liked getting lattes in the modern world. In other words I had WISHED for that simple pleasure, but did not want the modern aspect of the cost of it.  So, for that wish list to working list I made a little vintage shaker of cinnamon and sugar and on my ‘scheduled moment’ of a break, I would heat up milk in a pan with a little sugar and vanilla, fill a large (vintage too!) drinking glass half full with this and the rest coffee and sprinkle that little shaker over the top. That act, similar to what I had done and would look forward to at Starbucks for the sum of five dollars, was now rather inexpensive, fit into my wish list AND my budget and still gave me the same visceral pleasure. And I could sit and read a magazine or a chapter in a book as I would in Starbucks, but in my own clean home with my dogs with me.

Now, you can take this as far as you like. You certainly do not have to be a ‘list Nazi’ marking out every breath of your day into a list. AND there are varying degrees of schedules. As I said, there is the yearly schedule, which must be elastic, and then the monthly schedule, which can be more solid, next  your weekly schedule which will become your friend and then the Daily List, which though the most set in stone can always have unchecked items move to the next day’s list. This last list, the daily list, it the one that becomes dust by the end of the day. You have either checked it off or moved unchecked items to the next day and you are done with it. Either toss it away (or keep it for posterity) but it is the ‘self-destruct’ portion of the homemaker’s schedule.

The Daily List I always write out, regardless the schedule. I have my schedule there to view on the wall of my little sitting room to refer to. And, as you get ‘into’ your base schedule certain things will become natural. You won’t think about it as much because you know Monday is wash day, so you are just prepared for it. It is a fact.

homemakerofficeThis brings me to a ‘work station’.  (You can click on this image from one of my homemakers manuals and read what they say there about this topic) Any executive worth his salt is given an office. Some have immense city views and private washrooms, that is up to you, your budget and your home. Even a made over walk in closet can become ‘Homemaking Headquarters’. But, even if it is the end of the dining room table, make sure there is at least one or two drawers where your schedules, pens, some reference books on housekeeping can live .Without giving yourself and your tools a proper real home how can you say to yourself you are serious about being organized and an executive homemaker?

Now, here is a sample list out of my old Homemakers manual.schedule You can click on it to get a larger version, even print it out if it will help you get started thinking about a schedule.

Now, here was the next phase of me for my scheduling. This was just my own plan and it might work for you.

1.) Make a WISH LIST of all you would LIKE to do (have hair done, nails done, wear nicer clothes more often etc)

2.) Make a NEEDS LIST of all that NEEDS to be done to run your house for ONE MONTH and ONE WEEK. (this can have a blurred line as well. For example you NEED to feed your family and children but you would LIKE to feed them more homemade meals. So the time spent now on the NEED might need to expand to include homemade, or more time scheduled earlier in the day to pre-prepare a meal to ‘pop in the oven’. This is what I mean by being elastic. Then as making a certain level of home made is normal, then a new list is made with that on the NEED and now you have more room to schedule the LIKE as your skills increase. It is all a learning process and as with anything practice and rote makes what was once a challenge, soon second nature.

3.) Next, break the WISH and NEED list into three groups:

A.Personal Care

B. Cooking/Baking

C. Home Care.

I think the reason it is good to initially make one list of NEEDS and one of  WANTS,  is it allows you to begin the process of really looking at your life in these two fields. It gives it an easy division. Then you can more easily prioritize the wish list with your desires and then with your YEARLY SCHEDULE. (for example I might want to have ‘do my nails’ right away, this week in my schedule, but ‘wear a dress everyday and look nice even for the grocery store’ can go next month between learning to bake bread and pie’)

To break down the WISH and NEED list more, as above if you have a WISH list for Personal care. Your Need list might read: shower daily, brush teeth, comb hair (hopefully) etc. The things you need to do. But the WISH list for personal care will include nail care, feet and elbows, time to set hair (and this is part of  the SKILL SET: learning to set hair) Which leads me to another list.


Make a SKILLS list. Here is your opportunity to both make a tally of what you would like to learn and then fit it into your schedule (learn to make bread, pastry, how to can veg and fruit) and these can then go into the YEARLY SCHEDULE (A calendar with good spaces to write on or even better a book of the year with each page given a date).

This also allows you to look down the road and think, “well ,learning to can food is best in late summer early fall when the fruit and veg is ripe and canning supplies are abundant at my local grocer.)

Now, with that list break those down into the Three.

A.  Personal Care B. Cooking/Baking C. Home Care.

This now allows you to focus on what skills you NEED and those you WISH for. You may know how to make a basic dinner and you need to do so for your family, but maybe you want the skill of making a more elaborate dish or preparing more homemade or even dusting off that old French Cooking book. So, I think you get the drift of the thing.

And, if you have children, maybe you even want a skill and wish list for them as well. Perhaps you now read to them at bed time and find this a need. But maybe you would like to share an activity with them or perhaps you have always wanted to play the piano (Personal Wish List) so put that on the Personal Skill list and you and little Johnny can take piano lessons together, thereby sharing a skill with your child and yourself and having an experience together.

I find that the more you break it all done, it actually becomes less confusing. Because, when you are done you have all these WISHES and NEEDS and SKILLS  laid out before you.  Suddenly you feel in control to move things about and plan out the year. Then it doesn’t feel impossible but approachable, as you know you get up, make a rough list for the day, check the list you have made for the week and get going: ACTION.

A trick I have just recently taught myself is the use of index cards. If you are starting out new with the above break down of lists, then you can transfer the various parts of the Lists onto these cards. Then, much like a game of solitaire with your year, you can sit down and shuffle out this want this need etc. Before you know it you will have made a fine plan for the year and all those things you wanted to try won’t seem so unreachable or something to just think about and then feel guilty about not doing. You will have scheduled it. So, doing my nails will be as easily to check off the list as clean the toilet.

I now have made a separate bulletin board for the blog/website. There, on the wall, I can tack up and rearrange my little cards for the WISH of what I would like for the site, the NEED, which is to try and add something each day and the SKILL which was learn Dreamweaver (not an easy task, but scheduled time allowed me to do it).

I recommend a bulletin board as well. (it doesn’t have to expensive. I have actually used some leftover board I had from my old studio. It was one of those 4’ x 8’ foam boards you find in building stores, I think they are used to block noise or some such, and cut it to your desired size. You can also easily cover it with any fabric you like and even if you can’t sew (YET, you CAN learn to sew, go ahead put it on the WISH and the SKILL list, you know you want to!) you just use spray adhesive on it and press over your desired fabric and then just use pushpins/tacks.

As I said earlier, if you can carve out some space as your ‘office/sitting room/headquarters’ it does much in the way of allowing you to address the schedule to have it up on the wall where you can refer to a monthly list and also move about cards with skills or needs on them.  It makes it feel more in control and you can sit back during your scheduled break, with that cup of tea and look at it.

You will be surprised how quickly all the idea of it as work changes into passion and excitement. When you want to take a ‘break from it’ you will find yourself thinking about it and going over it. You will realize, I do not have to hurry up and get it done so I can sit around but that the doing of it the ACTION is the fun bit and really LIVING your life. This happened to me. I came to see that I wasn’t scheduling some things to get done in between my time I wanted to sit around and do nothing, but that my sit around time was being scheduled less and less as I found the Doing the Fun bit!

For those of us who are SAH there is no reason we cannot do more and yet be less stressed. It is true for those of you have to work as well, you just need to adjust your schedule differently. Although I do not have a job outside of the home, per se, the Website has become like a job in that I need to now add this into my daily schedule along with the blog and my usual household work (never chores, farm hands do chores homemakers do their WORK).

It is the unplanned days that seem crazy because there is no structure to them. Somewhere along the way, having to plan or organize went out of fashion and would either be made fun of, ignored, or called ‘being anal’. Well, from someone who has lived both ways, I can say to wake up knowing I have things ‘to do’ mapped out by ME and that I can also change it around, if need be, as long as I stick to A list, is so much more exciting and rewarding then waking each day and thinking, “I wonder what is going to happen today? Oh, I have to do this and I forgot that is suppose to be done, oh, drat that is coming up tomorrow!”

Even if you think this ‘scheduling’ a bit over the top, try it for a week at least or a month and see how you respond to it. You can go as detailed as you choose and that is why it is wonderful because YOU are in charge. It is YOUR ACTION that is making  your days and your life. Why be passive TV watchers, when you can be active participants in your own reality show called: LIFE.

doubleduty closet It is images like these in my homemakers manuals that spur me on as well. Such a simple little two closet design (you can click to read it larger). Even this, in its own way, is like a schedule in 3-D as you see the top shelf of one of the closets holds ‘spot removal’. You know where to find it, it has it’s place and it is on the physical ‘list’.

storage And images such as this which show even the smallest bit of space can be used to organize and keep life easier. Much like our own lives, we can take a few minutes here and there to make little ‘storage cabinets’ in our day to hang up the skills and wishes we have and make a place for them. Think of the time we waste with tv and computer. Just take 10 even 5 minutes of the tv time and the computer and now you have that extra time for doing your nails or setting your hair. Give it a try.

It might not be for everyone, certainly we are all made differently. But, I think most of us who are drawn to the HOME as either a homemaker or just from some innate feeling, the ultimate goal is to have a clean place where you can find what you need and have what you need to get the job done, look pretty doing it and have time to yourself. Time to sit and read, soak in the top or spend 20 minutes showing your daughter the importance of having pretty clean healthy nails and hair. (I need to interject here as well, because I can see how such a statement as that could be countered with, well isn’t it more important that my daughter have a strong mind than rather she has pretty nails? To that I say, she should have BOTH a strong mind through reading and thought and education AND understand that to care for herself is important both for her own HEALTH and that to feel good and beautiful outside can only strengthen a strong mind and constitution. I don’t know why we have come to feel that one is either pretty or smart. We should all strive to be as pretty and as smart as we are able. We all have different features as we all have different mental capacities, but I feel it is our DUTY to excel in both. That’s my 2 1/2 cents!)

The old ways, the ‘old days’ may be many different things to all of us, but that sense of calm, clean, beauty of the middle class home that so many people in the 1950’s either had or those who did not were drawn to on shows such as Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, are tangible things that can be achieved. That sense of order, justice, place, beauty, rules and yes laughter and love, is an innate need we humans have. We, as an animal, want to huddle together in the warmth and share and feel protected. And the chaos of clutter, not knowing what to do next and meals whenever all to the cacophony of multiple tv and computer noises will not make a content rational person. Especially if one is raising children, schedules and order must ONLY make life easier and teach a lesson to a child that amongst the insanity of the world one can always make their home the calm refuge where you can feel safe because you know when meals are served, where your clothes hang or go when dirty, when to wash up and take time for personal grooming and how the reward of leisure time is all the sweeter when it has been earned for the day.

So, I don’t know if that is helpful. I am going to copy most of this over to the website under the ‘vintage life lessons’ under scheduling and I think I will put up some pictures of lists laid out, maybe, to make it clearer.

I am sure many of you read this and think, well of course that is what you do, but I know, for me and my generation, the idea of schedules, order and work as the reward is somewhat an alien concept. So, for any of you out there (as indeed this post was made by a request from one of you) who do want to learn to schedule and get order back into your life, I hope this helps. If not, let me know and I will try to spell it out in less words. As SallyGrace said, ‘my novella of a response’, I can go on, I know!

Tomorrow I will share some recipes, I made my own for a coffee cake last night and it is delicious!

Have a great day Apronites and remember, ACTION. We can do it and do it in style!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

21 January 1956 “Sad”

I received a comment on one of my blogs (the post from 18 January 1956) that has really saddened me. I was not quite able to make out what it is they thought I meant (you can read the comments at the end of that post if you wish)but, it has made me feel rather sad. As if I had written to specifically offend someone. However, that was never my intent. I simply have had, with my project, my eyes opened to the way the world is at present, because when I compare it with 60 years ago it is amazing to me. Even those today who say, “Oh, it was like this back then”I am finding that what they say is not always the whole story. I merely want to find out and put forth the facts that I discover.

I have NEVER chose to put the option on this blog that allows me to ‘approve’ a comment. I feel, we are civilized ladies and gentleman and we all deserve to be heard, rather or not I might agree. I think to ‘choose’ what I want you to see as comments would be wrong (for me and this blog, if you have that option do not think I am calling you wrong, see how sensitive this has made me!)Yet, for the very reason I dislike the ‘cable news channels’ who exist to have and put forward their opinion OVER fact and actual news and need to ‘invent’ news in order to fill hour after hour of broadcasting, I do want you to have and view each others opinions on what I say. They CHOOSE what they want to show you.

Certainly, I choose what I like to put into my post, but I do not censor what you can respond to it. And we have not always agreed and I would not want that. I am open to being changed of an opinion when one wants to present me with facts to the contrary. Yet, at the bottom of it all, we are all human beings and I think we should always consider each other on that level first. As it is said, “hate the sin NOT the sinner” and as we all have different ideas of sin, then we can at least see one another as friends.

I was going to do a post today about practical things, in answer to a question I received from a follower, but I might leave that until tomorrow. I am surprised how I really feel saddened by the comment. I should not be so sensitive and I usually try not to, but I hate to think that I have said something to hurt someone. So, today, I shall focus on the website and of course my usual day of chores. Tomorrow, I will make a post of practical points on scheduling, cooking, and sewing.

Until then, ladies and gentleman, have a fine day. And let us remember, we are friends first. Perhaps I have been rude in bringing in politics, but I really wanted this blog to encompass all that was going on in the world then and not just clothes and food. I think they are all a part of the whole picture and I think the modern version of the 1950s homemaker can and should be as informed in all things as possible. To make the right choices for self, home, children, and country.

I hope first and foremost to be your friend and not to offend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

20 January 1956 “Come away with me, Lucille, in my Merry Oldsmobile”

merry oldsmobile sheet music The famous song of 1905 made that first statement that the auto had arrived and was to be ingrained into the culture, the very courting procedures, of the modern man. In fact, many treatise were written against the auto, as it now allowed young courting couples the ability to leave the drawing room with auntie overseeing their ‘courting’ to who knows what. And, without the fear and need of a pair of horses, a couple ‘going out for a drive’ could certainly lead to all sorts of ‘nefarious activity’. And, indeed, the young ladies of the last centuries turn were to know a freedom of which their mother’s could never conceive, as the lyrics tell us:

Verse 1

Young Johnny Steele has an Oldsmobile
He loves his dear little girl
She is the queen of his gas machine
She has his heart in a whirl
Now when they go for a spin, you know,
She tries to learn the auto, so
He lets her steer, while he gets her ear
And whispers soft and low...

Verse 2

They love to "spark" in the dark old park
As they go flying along
She says she knows why the motor goes
The "sparker" is awfully strong
Each day they "spoon" to the engine's tune
Their honeymoon will happen soon
He'll win Lucille with his Oldsmobile
And then he'll fondly croon...


Come away with me, Lucille
In my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we'll fly
Automobubbling, you and I
To the church we'll swiftly steal
Then our wedding bells will peal
You can go as far as you like with me
In my merry Oldsmobile.

Here is some early footage from 1909 and the famous song sung by Billy Murray:

A long way away from my day, here in 1956. Watch as Bing tells us the attributes of the modern car.

In one of my 1956 copies of The American Magazine, I found this rather interesting map. It shows how over 80% of what goes into our automobiles are produced here in this country with a breakdown of every state. Click on each picture to read it full size. Interesting stuff, indeed.

automaking 1956 1auto making 1956 2

It’s an odd thing, the automobile. It is that old ‘two-edged sword’: it has given us a lot and equally cost us a lot. The ability to ship things quickly can be a boon, but did we not have the train? And, with the ‘truck farming’ of the post war years, did that not begin to lead to the eventual downfall of local farm? We didn’t NEED to rely on the farmers in our area. Yes, it made food cheaper overall, but at what cost to the majority of we the people? The cost to the environment and to the eventual misuse of the very animals we need to survive?

The speed to get one to the hospital, the ability to allow others to reach towns and schools. These seem obvious positives, and yet, with the age of the car firmly set decades past, we are probably the most physically unconnected we have ever been, though digitally we do well I suppose. And of course, as Lucille in the song knew, it gave us ample opportunity for ‘courting’.

I wonder the future of the car. I wonder at what we have given up for its convenience and of course to build up a few more ‘new moneyed’ families at the turn of the last century who, with their wealth and upgrade from their own class, only wanted to ‘buy their way into’ the old money world. The cheap affordable modet T for the common man put Ford and his heirs into the drawing rooms and families of the ‘old guard’ safely above the ‘common man’.

Imagine the world when cars did not exist, but we had the railroads. Transportation of goods and peoples was possible, yet the small towns and rural areas still depended upon their own neighbors.

I am not saying one way or the other: the car is good, the car is bad. The car, as it is, is merely an object devoid of any traits save what we have given it. But, how we have used it and where it has lead us? And in the strive for the wealth of those behind their production, the loss of jobs to our own country. Yet, even that coin has two sides. The unions in the beginning may have been asking for a ‘fair wage’ for their workers, but then in THEIR greed did they lead to so many benefits and such high wages that they helped to lead the way of overseas production? When was enough is enough for any of us. Do we, as humans, always follow the line of reason, “More more, I want and deserve more” and never, “Well, it is pretty good now, let’s maintain and grow with what we have?” I suppose, it is not human nature.

It all comes down, again, to personal responsibility and the simple act of just thinking and considering. If we can, we modern people, look about at what we do daily and the ‘tools’ we use and ask ourselves why? or Hmmm, what was it BEFORE this and what MAY COME AFTER? We might find ourselves making different choices, or in fact MAKING choices at all.

Yet, here snug in 1956 America, I can be happy for the car. I am sure after seeing this commercial, hubby would not deny me my own car for my committee meetings and such. After all, as the ad told me I was a ‘prisoner in my own home’ before.

Here in 1956 I can smile and look to the future knowing the following generations shall have it better than me. And, certainly, they shall make the right choices to allow ALL people to have a better life, right?

So, rather you are in 1956 or 2010, stop a moment during the day, and look at your ‘tools’. My Kirby vacuum, my modern electric range, my car, much faster and more comfortable than that old Model T I learned to drive in! The TV, why I can get news and have a show on in the evening to enjoy before they sign off air for the night. And look at those growing grocery stores! All that food, frozen for my convenience, and so many meals and desserts premade to give me more time for myself!

You there, in 2010, yes you! Look at the phone in your hand, the microwave at beck and call, the 2-3 cars in your drive, the TVs, computers, the iPod in your ears, entertainment for you, the machines that tell you where to drive and turn in your cars, the seats with their own video machines to keep little Johnny entertained while he is strapped in back there. Let’s all stop, just for a few minutes, and look around at our day. Are we better off? Is there a better or worse? Are we using our ‘better’ things the best way we can? And HOW will these ‘improvements’ help the future generations?

Have a lovely day, Apronites, and don’t forget to stop and think today. And remember the world before the ‘Merry Oldsmobile’.

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