Wednesday, March 31, 2010

30 march “The Story Of Stuff”

I thought, as we seemed to enjoy the water bottle film, I would share the original film that the same person made. It is about 20 minutes long and it is very good and eye opening. It, again, has really just gone along with a lot of what I have been discovering. It really is worth a watch so if you can spare the time in your busy day, PLEASE watch it. It really puts it ALL into perspective. I am finishing up my dress today and this way I can check in for ‘breaks’ to see what some of you think about it.

I like how they mention that over 50 years ago (1950’s everyone) this level of consumerism and production wasn’t happening. Very interesting and also, it isn’t about Rep or Dem or Socialism or anything, it is about common sense reality of how we are living, making, and spending. I hope you are at least intrigued by the video. I also like how she mentions upon reading Industrial Design journals of the 1950’s that they were very open about the fact that they were building things to look good and to eventually break down to increase consumerism. It was only theory at that point, but boy oh boy is it in practice today!

Don’t worry my next blog will be my dress, dress form, recipes etc, the usual.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

30 March “Bottled Water”

Today I need to finish my March Dress challenge, so no big post today, but I thought it would be fun to watch this video and discuss.

I know this is not specifically 1956, but hubby showed me this video. We had to laugh, because it really does point out the things we have been coming to realize since our journey to living in the 1950s.

Before 1955, bottled water was just a normal part of my life. I didn’t think about it, just did it (Like most modern people). After 1955, I gave it up as it did not ‘exist’ for me. I remember after it was gone and I would see ‘modern’ people with it, my inner dialogue was always, “How funny, to buy something that you can get for free from the tap” I also noticed bubblers (drinking fountains) were beginning to disappear from public places as well, much like the public pay phone.

So, enjoy and let me know what you think:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

28 March 1956 “Technology and the Modern Time Machine”


There is something to the limited capacity of the technology of ‘old’. I have often come to consider, since 1955, what if our continued research and gains in technology were put only to science and the environment. If all the money available and brain power went into keeping us healthy, curing disease, lengthening our lives and helping to solve our dependence on oil and other negative affects on the environment, would it be so bad if we didn’t have new cell phones every 6 months?
I jokingly said to a friend a week ago, that sometime in the future all our data will probably be made to just be in our sight somehow. I said, maybe a pair of glasses or contacts. Then last night hubby showed me an article in a science magazine that showed just that: developing contacts one would wear that would put all your data and internet etc in you field of view. Then you could walk about and have advertising specifically geared towards your spending habits playing in front of you all the time. Scary thought, indeed, but it is coming.

When I see old movies like this one: no sound, a bit grainy, everyone a little jerky, it touches me. There is no confusing it with real life. HDTV wants us to see every nook and cranny of the human face, while the magazines air brush the heck out of everyone so they are thinner and smoother than could be possible in real life?

There is an almost artful quality to the old films. In their soundless movements, the discoloration leaves open an element of our own imagination to add to the movements;put a story or our own hopes into them. With sound and high tech, the more it becomes easy to record everything, does it make what is recorded less valuable, or less precious? Does the fact that we can text, talk or connect with people literally all the time anywhere make what we say less worth hearing? Once, an awaited letter contained a week or months worth of news, often put in ways much like we enjoy reading a novel or story. Today, we simply say, “uh, huh…yep…AWESOME…nope, nothing new” of course what could have happened since the 10 minutes prior you talked to one another. Does ease and constancy breed intellectual decline? Would those kids who met at summer camp and write and send photos to each other as friends be more inclined to learn the written language and improve their social skills then simply texting “i h8 u ;)” ?

On some level it is nice, I suppose, that we can communicate easier and distance have become smaller by technology and even easier travel with highways and jets. Yet, is there something loss to is as well? What if we had quick travel for emergency to save lives, but for personal travel we had to use old 1910 cars that you crank and only go about 30 mph? Would our approach to work be different? Would our visiting and shopping be changed in a way that would make us look around and become involved in our community more, because we have to stay there or it is easier to walk? Would our Need to depend on one another more increase our human bond and realtionships? Maybe even affecting our language skills and what we think of as ‘entertainment’? Could a solution  to our incessant need for oil be reduced by such measures? Possibly, but I know it would never happen. But, ponder that your car only travels 35mph top speed. You have to crank it. There are no heaters in them. Now, how does that affect where you choose to work, shop, be?

It is true the ease and speed of the modern world makes it possible for us to get places faster to find jobs that make more money outside of our area, but because of the roads and the need to ‘upgrade’ the community controlled parts of our life, we all pay more taxes into that. There is not simply living easily on a farm and having a 10 mile radius be your life, without having to pay for the pleasure of highways to ship items to stores that you have to drive further to shop and their need to ship things from China and India and your need to go further and more often to make the money to buy those things and then to pay for the roads that allow you to…Well, you get the idea.

Again, I am not bemoaning the modern world and crying out, “Oh, the good ole’ days…” but, I am wondering, do we ever question or wonder, do we need it? We seem, as a people, to blindly accept every new gadget and take it into our lives at breakneck speed. Hubby just showed me (in the same article) that they have also developed a 3-D TV that you wear special glasses that receives the TV signal at  a particular  refresh rate to each eye, so the programs (which have to be filmed that way) come out of the TV. So, we are just trying to create a more real world? We can have that world for free, walk outside or look around you are already living in a 3-d world! Yet, these things will just come along and there will be ads for them and then the box stores will have them on sale and we will all NEED them, setting aside what we just NEEDED last year, now worth nothing after spending thousands on it and it can go to the piles of other old electronics in the landfills.

Does it stop? Will it stop?

When I was marketing yesterday, I had to go to our local chain grocery to get the few things I cannot get at my local market. The place, since my change to shopping more ‘locally’ has become as alien and as abhorrent as the Mall to me. As I was wondering the endless aisles filled to the brim with product, I saw a girl, maybe 11-12, following her mother about. She held her little flip phone with full keyboard and was texting away. She was so practiced at it that I saw she could walk along, missing other shoppers, without taking her eyes off the screen. Though she was in a busy store full of people, she was living on that little grey screen filled with simple little characters. I felt so sad. I almost wished for an ill behaved child that was knocking things about, as at least they would be THERE  in the moment. Yet, the little girl, face as blank as a mask, eyes in a strange stare, and fingers moving at an almost unrealistic speed, maneuvering her way through the aisles. Is this our future? Is it bad good indifferent?

Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better leaving Pandora’s box closed and never traveling back in time. I always have felt ‘out of time’ but not until my year in 1955 have I felt so concerned for our future. Yet, I know all that I have come to be and to know is thanks to just being aware. By going back I would look forward with the ‘seer stone’ and see what was to become of the world in the past 50 years. Now, I am afraid of the next 10!

I wonder, too, is this phenomena of ‘longing for days of old’ a modern concept? I know many generations of artist at various times have looked to the past with a romantic view, but in 1950’s were there groups of people in their 20’s longing or romanticizing 1900? I just don’t think so. Yet, since my blog and now my site and forum, there are many people, even in their 20’s, who have a very real yearn and attraction to the ‘old ways’. Even if this is a romanticized view, it is an interesting development. Is it a subconscious backlash to increasing technology? Does the ease and rapid change of the modern world frighten us or repel us on some base level? Is it an almost animalistic warning? Who can know?

It is tough to strike the balance between reviving the good things from the past while remaining in the present. But, it is a challenge I think worth doing. It allows one to not be ‘lulled’ by the modern world. One doesn’t have the ‘wool pulled over one’s eyes’ so to speak. You are more aware of what is happening and changing and what is meant to just be ‘normal’ in the modern world when you can look at it from the past from time to time. It puts you more in control over your life and let’s you say, “You know, I don’t NEED that technology. I am happy with what I have or maybe I will even reduce what I do have and find myself happier with less and my need for less”.

I have been planning my kitchen redo on paper for sometime. Every time I add more here and there, changing thinking I need this and that. Yet, the more I live in our little home the more I wonder if I am not still being lured by the money need to have more. I did a little experiment last week. I took all but two pans from my kitchen. I had a sauce pan and a small fry pan. I also have a girdle built into my old stove as well. I even removed some of my extra utensils. So wooden spoons instead of rubber spatulas etc. What did I find? That after a day, I did not even miss them. I even didn’t use my old 50’s mixer and instead used my hand crank mixer and was fine. I began to look at my tiny 10’ by 10’ kitchen differently. Do I need to add on? Do I need more space a bigger pantry? I wasn’t sure. And as I began to think no, I also began to feel less stress. As if not NEEDING to enlarge the space was a relief, like someone said, ‘No, you don’t have to do that hard job for me’.

So, as my project is getting under way into its SECOND year, I am finding the opposite of the beginning of 1955. Then, in my still very modern mindset, I was on a vigilant search to buy and source as many authentic 1950’s things as possible on eBay and etc. Now, I realize that I still do want to mostly use and have old items/appliances, as they are 1)cheaper 2)built to last 3)rather stylish. But, that my need to have MORE of things is beginning to lessen. Traveling to the very root the very core of our modern consumer world, the 1950’s, maybe has made me look back another 50 years and wonder “Well, what did they have? What did they use? What did they need?”

Of course you can say, rightly so, aren’t we glad we have more freedom, better medicine, less racial hatred and more rights for women and minorities? Yes, we are glad of that, but just because we live in a time that has more ,does not mean that we have to HAVE More? We should be happy to have and take advantage of modern medicine and better freedoms, but that does not mean we have to buy into the need to have all the latest gadgets and technology that serve only to ‘entertain’ us. An entertainment that might actually be lulling us into a sort of comatose state. We don’t have to have our children mindlessly wandering the halls of malls, eyes glued to little screens, endlessly texting. We can take the good of today AND the good of the past and make our own unique wonderful future. We can enjoy the rights and medicines of today, but dress in Victorian costume and cook over a wood stove if we like! We can take TV and computers out of our life even, if we so choose. Or we can use the computer as a tool or as a ‘special’ time entertainment or as a way to have a community, as we do here, but still realize that we can do many things the ‘old way’. It is our life and we do NOT have to do what the TV and adverts tell us to do.

Often, when I begin a morning with a melancholy feeling towards the past, or a ‘Gee, I wish I could go back”, after some real thought;some real dissection of my feelings, I often end up feeling better. Because I realize we CAN relive the good of the past, even make our lives as much like the decade we might covet. We can even use this technology to realize we are not alone in these thoughts for ‘longing for the past’. Those of us who long for the old or simply have an inner desire we cannot really explain away can find one another and say, “Ah, yes…I am not alone.”

Sometimes I wonder where our passions and joy of the ‘past times’ might lead us. Maybe there will be a day when some of us will come together and ‘make a neighborhood’ stuck in 1955. Or a group of us will live in an area recapturing the pasts aspects of community from the past. Who knows? I do know that I am glad for the technology of the computer for allowing me to share what I have so far and to find and meet so many other wonderful people who also feel a little ‘out of time’. We can make the life we want. We can live in a world of our own making. We just have to get up from the tv and say, “This is what I want, This is what I would like to try” and get to it! We can make our own modern time machine and rather than travel to the past bring it forward around us. We can use the ‘technology’ of hard work, imagination, and determination. I know, though I am always tinkering with the settings on my time machine, I am glad I have ‘built’ it. And, I am glad that many of you have come along for the ride.

Who needs Wii Fit when you have your own imagination?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

24 March 1956 “Academy Award Film, Keeping Plants, Ironing, and Cupcake Bread Pudding”

 martyposter The 1956 28th Academy Awards were held on 21 March of this year. An uncharacteristic Hollywood film, Marty, won the highest honor this year.The film received international success, winning the 1955 Academy Award for Best Picture and becoming the second American film to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Marty and The Lost Weekend (1945) are the only two films to win both organizations' grand prizes.

This is a great film. You can buy it HERE (around $11). I really enjoyed it and found it’s portrayal of ‘normal’ people a very modern approach to the usual 1950’s films.

My Fair Lady opens on Broadway this month in 1956 with a young Julie Andrews. This is an interesting ‘interview’ from that same year of the production. I like the bit where the American is teaching English Julie Andrews about a Cockney accent. And of course Julie Sings. There are some wonderful actual recorded numbers from the Broadway show, so give a watch.  This would have been so wonderful to see live on Broadway!

myfairladyalbum I have a vintage album of the songs from this musical on 33 with the original Broadway cast. It is fun sewing music! You can buy a modern copy HERE.

We were having a discussion of things the other day about what we like to do to give our homes a nice feel or that extra touch. It made me think about the importance of keeping Houseplants. I really feel Houseplants are that final layer of decorating. It is the icing on the cake of a home’s interior. Their is a permanence to it. A feeling that one has been around and will be around to care for and watch them grow.

From a design point of view, I just love how the texture and variation of the foliage in similar shades makes such a statement. myplants1 Here is a grouping I keep on the piano. By keeping the majority of the containers white it ties to the white of the Bust and is offset by the deep tones of the piano. The lush green of the plants give that feeling of warmth. Not all the containers in the grouping need to have a plant, as you can see here, yet it gives you that ‘opening’ for when you find the next one you must have. I am actually on the lookout for a nice Boston Fern for the empty urn in the background. you can see, as well, that the picture (one of two) is also of a botanical image and it’s frame is in white tones. If you pictured this same grouping without the lush greenery, it might not have the same feel.

myplants2 This grouping in the same room, fills out a corner space that might otherwise be overlooked. The Peace lily sits on a Victorian twig-built Adirondack table. All of the plants I have pictured are happy with medium light and actually prefer to not be in direct sunlight too long, as in their natural environment are on forest floors shaded by larger trees. Again, this same vignette of antique table, lamp, corner would seem rather bare without the shot of green. I collect old stoneware containers, as well, and you can see how the old green bottle on the floor ties into the color tone of the plants.

myplants3 A closer view of that same corner shows how the accent of the Baby’s tears in the front and the Grape-leaf ivy in the back add a softness to the table elements, including an antique brass kerosene lamp converted to electric and a picture of my Hubby as a boy with his mother on their boat. Somehow the plants, to me, add another personal element that always looks correct with family photos.

Now, for the novice to plant keeping, you don’t have to worry. Keeping plants alive is not as complicated as some think. I imagaine what often happens is someone new to plant keeping will see the pretty flowers on miniature roses or some other flowering plant that is a little tempermental and needs alot of light. But, there are many plants that are happy to be not watered for a week and don’t need direct sunlight, including the plants I have shown you today in my home.

Here is a quick list of some easy to care for house plants:

peacelily Peace lily– The plant handles lower light levels common to apartments and when the Spathiphyllum is thirsty it tells you with wilting leaves. It usually holds its pretty white flowers for some time and can be encouraged to rebloom with cutting the dying blooms. My Peace lily is not currently in bloom, but I don’t really care. I think for anyone just starting out with plants, focus on the foliage. Use the color, texture etc as your guide and if you get blooms, wonderful, but the texture and variety of the foliage is such a good tool to ‘brighten’ a room, I think they are often overlooked. These prefer indirect light and as stated, if they begin to droop you have waited too long to water, but fear not. Give them a drink and in a few minutes they will perk back up.You can find these very easily locally or you can buy them HERE from the Corner Store.

pottedsucculents Soft succulents– These toughies require some indirect light, do well in small pots, store water like a cactus and come in a variety of sizes and colors.Technically, a succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. So, these little darlings are perfect for those who ‘forget to water’. You must still water, but they are used to being dried out so more forgiving. They do like light, but often do well with some indirect light. The Jade plant is a good example of a hardy version of this. I also like succulents in the garden and though New England is hardly a desert environment, the popular hens and chickshennchicks do rather well here and are so adorable peeking out between rock walls and pathways and winter over very well.

As a group, succulents include some of the most well-known plants, such as the aloe and agave, and many almost unknown plants. Cacti are a unique subset of the succulent group. Succulents make excellent display plants in dish gardens.Succulents should be watered generously in the summer. The potting mix should be allowed to dry between watering, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Overwatering and ensuing plant rot is the single most common cause of plant failure.

philodendron Philodendron – Most of the varieties grown for indoor use grow downward like an ivy. Lots of colors, although with lower light the colors will not be as vibrant, few pest problems and require limited quantities of water. They come in many variety of leaf color and configuration. But also grow large and shrub like in the case of the lacy tree philadendren as I have in my house.Philodendron300

aspidistra Aspidistra - Also know as the cast-iron plant. This tough as nails houseplant was a favorite in Victorian times along with the Kentia palm. Back then houses were anything but bright and airy – much like apartments! In the Southern United States you can find Aspidistra growing completely carefree as a groundcover in dense, dark shade. They come in a variety of leaf colors from solid to speckled with yellow or stiped with white or yellow. aspidistra2 These plants were favored by the Victorians and as a Victorian house was often very low light, it attested to the plants hardiness. I love this old photo of this man with the Aspidistra next to him. This is also an easy plant to find, even at your grocery store. I also have it HERE in the Corner Store.

babystears Baby’s Tears-I am not sure what it is about this plant, but I just love it. It does not like direct light, and does prefer to be moist.  Here is a close up of the top of my Baby’s Tears plant.myplants4 Doesn’t it look like a lush jungle? It is the perfect plant to make terrariums which is a great way to enjoy a plant.babystearsterriuium

My seedlings are doing nicely as well. I have an entire tray of Basil I started last week (about 72 or so little plants) that I plan on planting around my veg garden squares to both define the space and look pretty as well as provide for alot of Pesto to store this fall.

The second leaves on my Cucumbers and Tomatoes have started. The second set of leaves are always telling as they have the distinct shape of the adult plant. cukeseedling here is a tomato tomatoeseedling Have any of you started seedlings yet for your garden?

We were also talking about ironing sheets on the Forum and I thought this video was a good demonstration on how to iron a fitted sheet.

How to clean an iron:

  • If the substance stuck on the bottom of the iron is waxy, you should turn the iron onto its highest setting and run it across newspaper until the residue disappears.
  • If the substance is oily, then just wet a rag with ammonia. Next, just rinse the iron off with some water and the gunk should be gone.
  • Vinegar works as a cleaning agent for many irons. Pour some on a clean cloth, and wipe the surface of an iron throughly. If that doesn't work, combine vinegar with baking soda. With a soft cloth, scrub the surface of the iron.
  • You can get rid of any build-up in the vents of the iron by taking a cotton swab or a pipe cleaner and gently sweeping the residue out of the area. If you attempt to use something of a harsher nature, like a tool or a knife, you could scratch the base of the iron, causing future problems.
  • To clean the reservoir of your iron, pour a solution that is one part vinegar to one part water in. Turn the iron on. Allow it to steam for about four minutes. Drain the iron for an hour, and be sure to repeat the process with clean water before you iron any clothing items.
  • The other day I had made some lovely white cupcakes. As I was out of cupcake papers, I merely greased the muffin tins to make them. Unfortunately, some of them came out ‘headless’ or not in cupcake form. So, rather than be upset, I realized I could use them later for a ‘cupcake bread pudding’.

    Last night, I needed a quick dessert and rememberd I had stored the cupcake mistakes in the ice box. Though they had hardened some, I did not care as it works perfectly for bread pudding.

    Now, I did not use a recipe but just sort of made up my own. I know that bread pudding has milk/cream and butter and eggs and usually sugar (though in this case I did not use any as the cupcakes were sweet enough). So, here is my recipe for

    Cupcake Mistake Bread Pudding

    So, I broke up the cupcake mistakes into a buttered baking dish.breadpudding1 This was about 5-6 cupcakes.

    breadpudding2 So, for the amount I had, I used two eggs about 1 cup of milk with some cream mixed in and 3 TBS butter. As I learn more about cooking/baking, I often find myself just ‘making it up’ as I begin to understand how various ingredients are meant to work together. As long as your mix of butter, milk and cream fills up the dish as you see here, you are right on the money. This gives it a very ‘custard’ sort of mixture.

    Now, you can add any thing at this point that sounds good, cinnamon (which I did) and of course, I love syrup, so I poured some of that in for good measure.breadpudding3

    Then you bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes. You want to bake an egg/cream mixture like this longer and lower temp, so that it can rise properly.

    breadpudding4 It turned out beautiful and it tasted wonderful! breadpudding5 Here you can see all the lovely browned bits. I served it with warm cream to pour on top in little bowls. The rest went with hubby today for his dessert in his lunch.

    Desserts such as these and meals such as meat/veg pies and casseroles can be a homemakers best friend. They allow you to take all the leftovers and make them into a wonderful dish. There is no waste and you can get inventive.

    I have been lucky enough to get a few people to do guest blogs for the website. I will be trying to feature this more often (hopefully weekly) as time goes on. Today we have guest blogger Rue from Rue’s Peanut Butter and Jelly life, so go to the SITE and scroll down to read her ‘Guest Blog’.

    I am also putting up the very basic bones of the new INTERIORS page. It is very rough at this point, but you can see the layout and what is to come. Now I just need to ‘flush it out’ everyday.

    Until later, then, or I shall see you on the Forums page. Happy Homemaking!

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    21 March 1956 “Clotheslines: We Can Do It”

    bwclothesline Recently on the Forum began a discussion of clotheslines. Here, in 1956, clotheslines are a normal part of both urban and country life. Even the modern suburbs popping up still have their clotheslines, even though that great American invention, the clothes dryer, is yet another status symbol on the list of ‘must haves’ for any self-respecting middle class homemaker along with the latest Washing machine50swashingmachine  and Dish washerdishwasher2 .

    Today, in 2010, the return to the clothesline is no longer for the vintage lover or the Green minded. The recession has lead to many ‘vintage’ ways of doing things out of necessity. Which, surprisingly enough, was the reason they were done originally. Not to recreate a time lost or to set an atmosphere nor to make your ‘carbon-footprint’ (whatever that is-says my 1956 counterpart) smaller. You did it because you HAD to and today, with increasing cost, the need to run that energy sucking appliance, the dryer, has lead to many needing to return to this habit.

    Now, as I often believe, Form should follow function, and utility should be beauty’s bedmate. You can slap up any old line, throw some wet clothes over it, and call it a clothesline, but you can also take a very utilitarian object and make it beautiful. And, as there are different esthetics, one person’s idea of ugly is another’s beauty, so luckily there are SO many wonderful way’s to dry your clothes!

    slumlaundry This was becoming an increasing view often found only in slums in urban living in 1956. The increasing Laundromats available to the urban dweller made such hanging of clothes become more and more a ‘working class’ act. Today, however, the return to it is increasing and no longer a ‘slum act’.clothesline3Modern cities are now gaining a ‘vintage’ look due to necessity and need to pinch pennies. As they say, “what goes around comes around”.

    If you’re lucky enough to have a nice little suburban plot of land, or even acres in the country, a clothes line can be a permanent beautiful fixture, much like a trellis or arbor.clothesline2This clothes line is not only sturdy but a beautiful piece of architecture for your yard. I believe, as inside as well as out, that the main element of any design is ‘good bones’. Your yard needs some good architecture to be buitl around and to dicated where to plant and sit and relax. This type of utility combined with beauty is only increased, I believe, by the addition of the clothes. I think even a trailing vine or some lovely roses planted near by, a chair and side table and you have a chore with joy attached. And who doesn’t love the smell of fresh sundried laundry?

    rotaryclothesline2 Even the old rotary clothes line of the past is making a comeback.rotaryclotheslineI recall pre 1955 when I was an avid TV watcher, I loved watching garden design shows and it seems every other one had the designers tossing out these old reliable work horses. Again, in the time of plenty and spend spend, why not have a flower bed instead of a place to economically dry your clothes. But, as in WWII, when flower beds and lawns became Victory Gardens, so too now are the yards getting a little more utility. And, there is not reason this old stand by can’t be situated in the yard in a considered way, so that there are flowers or better yet herbs (utility) nearby. Especially a lush bed of lavender planted nearby, so the wind carries the scent onto your clothes. It is like natures dryer sheets!dahlias-washing-line This woman has proudly made a space for her dahlias and her laundry, and with a bench to enjoy both!



    This is such a simple and basic set up that can be so beautiful and can be easy for any homemaker. A post hold digger and some wooden posts, screws, drill, paint and line and you are in business. You can color it how you like, even plant a vine on one of the posts. HERE is an easy tutorial with costs and supplies list that is helpful.

    If you like this set up but don’t want to build or use wood, you can buy good metal versions of these clothesline6 retractable and stationary metal clotheslines.clothesline7 You can find these in the Corner Store HERE. There are even Sweater dryers for the line!sweaterdryer HERE.

    If you would like to construct your own , there are a few options. Here is a great TUTORIAL on building one.


     clothesline5This dreamy bucolic scene of washing can be yours. In fact, you can see how simply this homemakers line is, simply old tree branches set in the ground. It can be as grand or as simple as you need.clothesline5 This is a simple set up where one side of the line is tied to a tree and the other a post.

    pulleyclothesline A pulley system line is another option.

    Don’t let apartment dwelling get you down, however. They eve have lovely versions that can be mounted to the side of your house on a deck or simply out one window and then the other of your apartment building. clothesline1

    clotheslinepulley The pulley system is nice as well. You can, as was done here, put it right out your back door or whever it is closest to your laundry room. This means, even in winter, you would not have to worry about walking about in snow. You could even have a summer and a winter setup, one in the yard the other the winter pulley system. They also work great indoors in basements and laundry rooms. clothes line tightener For the Pulley clothes line system  HERE is a great tutorial. And you can buy the pulley, line all those things HERE. There are also simple retractable type, that you can pull out, use and then put away, if you don’t have the room for lines in the yard all the time.

    metalretractable I put a few in the Store, but I think THIS little metal one is cute for indoors or a small outdoor line. But they also have LARGER VERSIONS that work outside.

    I actually thought this was a cute modern segment on someone making an ingenious clothes line with simple things.thnoodleA great use for the extra ‘swim noodles’ that often accumulate at summer time, or buy some for this purpose, as they are not expensive. If you slit on side and insert a wooden dowel the size of the noodle hole, it is great for drying rugs, towels, things you wouldn’t want clothes pin marks on.

    I think this is a great little modern video about a woman who made her own clothesline.

    It also brought up something that was discussed on the forum and that some neighborhoods actually will NOT allow you to have a clothesline! Again, another aspect of our modern society. The look or appearance is more important the saving money, environment, or continuing a valid homemaking skill. I hope that is not the case in your neighborhood, if it is, I say march down to town hall and find out what you can do, signatures etc?

    Now, check out the new section on the CORNER STORE for any laundry ideas. And, if you have any good ideas let’s discuss them HERE on the Forum topic of clotheslines!

    And check out today’s Video of the Day on the SITE (on the bottom of the page) from 1958 about the new modern synthetic fabrics and the ease of modern laundry with electric dryers and synthetic fabrics. Interesting parallel to today’s topic, I think.

    The more we make little changes that are economical the more we find the ‘side-affects’ are often Green choices and choices that enliven or teach us skills. It might be quicker to pop that load in the dryer, but think of the extra time outside, smelling the air, hearing the birds. Even if it is a cool autumn day, what a better activity than just staring at the computer screen. I wonder, as people begin to see the benefits and tactile pleasures of hanging out one’s clothes, how long before we can get a ‘virtual laundry line’ for or computer or AP for the i-Phone?

    Well, it is a lovely day outside, so I am off to dream and plan my own laundry solutions. Tomorrow I will return with some recipes, some photos of Martha’s Vineyard in March and just a good ole’ chat. I shall see you on the Forums, and Happy Homemaking!

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    17 March 1956 “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”

    Here is a 1950’s Celebration of St. Patrick in Ireland.


    Richard J. Daley became Mayor of Chicago in April 1955.  The very next year, the city's newspapers announced he was planning "a parade" for March 17--St. Patrick's Day.

    Other American cities had a history of grand St. Patrick's Day parades.  Chicago's Irish had staged a few parades on-and-off since the 1840s, and there was a long-running event on 79th Street.  But holding a major, city-wide parade for the  feast day was not a Chicago tradition.

    3-17--early parade.jpg

    March 17 fell on a Saturday in 1956.  Led by the mayor, the City of Chicago's first official St. Patrick's Day parade stepped off from State and Kinzie at noon.  The route went south on State to Adams, then continued west on Adams to Des Plaines Street and Old St. Patrick Church. Today, Chicago goes so far as to dye their river way green!

    southboston50s This photo of two young Irish-American’s in the South End of Boston during a 1950’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is rather good, I think. South has for quite some time been a highly concentrated area of Irish Americans. What is rather sad is today, as much is the case around the country and world really, the increase in property values and need of space pushes out the poorer old neighborhood residents to make way for high-end condominiums and housing. Many places are losing their ‘local color’ and merely becoming homogenized versions of everywhere else. Much like the continuity of the big business  from one city to another, so to do we accept the ‘gentrification’ of various parts of cities.

    A few years back, hubby and I had made a trip with the intent to buy a home in Savannah GA. It was a lovely city and many of the older houses were so beautiful and being fixed up and the city really having  a rebirth. One day, with our Real estate Agent, we were being shown around the city. There was almost an exact line where you could go to one street and it was fancy fixed up houses and the next would be rather run down and a bit scary. She was showing us a darling Victorian house on such a street. It was literally the next street after a ‘fixed up’ street. I remember getting out (we three white people) and many African Americans sitting about on porches and really looking at us. I felt, for the first time in my life, frightened by that racial difference. I asked our Real Estate Agent what was going on. She said they were upset because of the gentrification. She said, ‘Don’t worry, this is the right place to buy, you can get a good price now and others will follow”. “But what happens to those who already live here” I asked naively. “I don’t know,” says she, “they’ll find somewhere to live”. That was the moment that hubby and I knew we could not make the move. The thought of having to both be the object of their anger and hatred and also to know we actually DID contribute to their need to be moved out of their neighborhood was the last straw for us. We enjoyed the rest of our trip and decided to stay New Englanders. That is not to say that is not happening all the time here, though, so don’t think I am saying it is a Southern thing. We just seem to be displacing people.

    The Irish were once on the very bottom rung of social order. After the Potato famine of the 1840’s, thousands fled to America. In one year Boston’s Irish Population jumped from 30,000 to 100,000! Many turned to servitude for employment and 70% of servants in Boston were Irish, two-thirds of which were female. Indeed, many of that time considered the Irish a ‘servant race’ in a sense.

    The established working classes in America resented the influx of the Irish, as they would work for anything. And, though many Irish were servants, Employers would place signs with NINA scrawled across the front which stood for No Irish Need Apply.

    We can look back now and be appalled by the blatant ill treatment of the Irish influx of people, yet places like the South End in Boston that had been the stronghold of the ‘undesirable’ Irish is now being taken over by development. Those, indeed many who are not Irish nor have that heritage, are moving in as they can afford the high rents and taxes, while the old families, now that their once ‘slums’ are desirable, have to move out. It is true, that if they owned their property they could make money from its sale, yet have to give up their place, home and cultural identity to that location. Such ill-treatment, then, still exists, it just has a different face and name.

    Really, our country is made up of various groups of people who came here to leave hardship behind. Once established, they seem to forget their own plight and are happy to then oppress the next influx of people. Today there is still much talk of African American and Native American unfair treatment, but we must remember that almost all the various races that were forced here underwent ill treatment. We seem, we humans, to have short memories. Perhaps, sadly, it is just human nature. Rather a grim St. Patrick’s Day post, but the Irish are such a part of Boston today, that they are hardly considered a lower social order anymore.

    Here is an old record from 1950’s about Southie town in Boston. A remembrance of pride and feeling of belonging to your neighborhood, even if it were a poorer area of town. The end makes me almost tear up when they talk about the fighting in world war II and there stands the Irish lad from Southie.

    irishsodabread Sticking with the theme of the day, here is a rather good Irish Soda Bread recipe. I am not sure how common this type of bread is throughout the country, but around here, it is fairly common to buy Irish Soda Bread, particularly in March.

    Nora's Irish Soda Bread

    Mix Dry Ingredients

    • 3½ Cups flour

    • 4 Teaspoons baking powder

    • 1/3 Cup sugar

    • ½ Teaspoon baking soda

    • 8 oz. Raisins, softened (soak in hot water, drain)

    • ½ Teaspoon salt

    • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds

    Mix Wet Ingredients

    • 2 Eggs beaten

    • 1 Cup sour cream

    • ½ Cup buttermilk

    • 3 Tablespoons melted butter

    • Combine wet and dry ingredients, knead together

    Add to greased, floured 9” pan. Cut an “X” in the top.

    Bake 55-60 minutes at 350°

    greendress Wouldn’t this be a  lovely dress to wear today, showing the green? I am going to be wearing a green cotton dress (the one I wore in the photo for the TimeWarpWives interview-though it is B&W there, it is actually a soft green cotton)

    Are any of you doing anything special for the day? Any particular way your area celebrates the day?

    Happy Homemaking and keep those Apron Strings Tied!

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    16 March “Lady Gaga, Friend or Foe? Are we truly Free?”

    After I wrote this post, I talked to a friend about  it. She came over and showed me the latest Lady Gaga Video (telephone) and, though I try to be open-minded, I was so shocked by the beginning bits, before the song actually started, that I almost cried. Watching the overt sexuality that honestly is only playing or pandering to a very low rung of male deviance (tough women wrestling) made me so sad. Here is this lovely talented girl who could really make beautiful music and yet there has to be all this ‘over the top in your face’ images. Why not just singing and music? Have we become so jaded and so bored with SO MUCH visual stimuli that we can only be shocked to sit up and take notice? Is there just so much going on all around us all the time that this is really what modern entertainment has to be? It does not make me mad or hate the person, but makes me wonder at the psychological health of our society and culture. 

    I could not watch the whole video. I don’t want to despair of our modern world, but I wonder at Feminists who call 1950’s fashion oppression and restriction and sexist and then see a girl needing to literally dance and dress as a modern stripper and wonder, how far have we come? The holding of a door by a man is bad somehow, but to portray to young girls and boys that women are sexualized objects that must be in your face and scantily clad is scarier to me. What shall we do, ladies? Is there a way to fix or make a better world? Or do we need to merely become a sub-culture of old ideals, fashion, and living? I despair for the future generations and am sad that the passion and joy of pure art, entertainment and the lovely feel of relationships being ‘special’ and not just ‘available when you want it’. The human animal has become merely an object, without feeling or value. The only value being in the sexual aspects of it, which then disregards anyone over 35 and forget about the wisdom of the old. Yet, what wisdom shall there be in the old of the future. I am so sorry to be so bleak.

    Well, here is the post I made BEFORE I saw that video. Maybe there is hope, I honestly don’t know.


    I know this is not terribly 1956, but on my last post we had a little discussion about Lady Gaga. Though, I do not think her main image and music is any different than much glam/pop type dance music out there, she, as a performer, I believe is talented. I feel her current ‘image’ is almost due to she being a product of the times in which we live. If we continue to embrace greed, Fame, commercialism and such, is it a surprise music takes on that ilk? However, Lady Gaga herself,  at least what I gleaned from various interviews I found online, is actually anti-fame, has a good voice, is rather smart, and actually does not like the FAME lifestyle of big houses and plenty of Bling.

    So, I thought, let’s listen to this version of one of her songs. The classical quality of her piano playing of her own writing and the pure joy she feels in her singing shines here. Her throaty tonal quality of her voice make me want to hear her sing 30s/40’s standards on a lavish Hollywood set. Even her hat is adorable here. We Apronite’s are not closed minded and will not make judgments until we have heard it all, at least I think that is our way.

    So, let’s watch this first (it is not racy, don’t worry ladies, no nudity or anything, ) and then get to the meat of it.

    This version of her song (though the lyrics are a little silly about getting ‘hot’) the sing song jazzy sound is rather good.

    I guess I just wonder if we did live in a different society today, would she be up there with the singers of the 40/50s? She wouldn’t need to be ‘shocking’ or ‘overtly sexual’ and could dispense of this modern nonsense of always needed to be controversial and just get on with the joy of singing and the happiness of music and entertainment. It is almost sad to me that today if there is an actual talent, they must muck about with the nonsense of Shock and Awe. Ella and Billie and Peggy hadn’t had to worry if they were ‘controversial’ enough. They could just belt it out and it was accepted and wonderful.

    Maybe, just maybe, Lady Gaga could have been doing as lovely Peggy Lee is doing here and sing and entertain and be glamorous.

    Another aspect is the bizarre but obvious fashion of Lady Gaga. Girls once had such fashion and looks to aspire to as this 39 Vogue Hat vogue39hat2 You can see how an appeal of Gaga’s fashion has a pull to the young in their sea of product printed hoodies and sea of jeans. They certainly can’t turn to their well dressed mothers in hats and darling outfits and think, “One day, I will be a prettily dressed grown up” so, such artists draw the young in merely by their extreme fashion. Even a bright blue high cut leotard or red vinyl body suit has more appeal or more ‘passion’ than the jeans, oversized tops most teens see all the time. Perhaps, just maybe, some of the appeal of such artists is due to our own style approach?

    I think I should never want us to lose sight of the value of artistic expression. When it is done as  pure joy or as a contrast to current norms, it has, in its very action, value. It says to us, “Hmm, think about things:your life, society, current concepts differently” and that can’t ever be bad. We do that here all the time as we go against the grain of modern ‘feminism’ and the modern ‘role of women’. In a way, in our petticoats smiling with a drink for our hubby, are we not as ‘in your face’ as Josephine once was shaking her banana’s? Do we not sometimes receive ill-informed judgments of our actions? :You must be trapped. You are oppressed, repressed. You are undermining women’s rights etc. Yet, we know it is not true. We must also remember that even further back than Madonna was Josephine Baker who was literally forced to move to France (where her actions were viewed as extreme as in America)  due to her ‘over the top’ dances and yet, she was not a wretch, nor  a whore not any such thing. IN fact she dedicated much of her money and love to raising countless adopted children over the years. I suppose, I don’t want us ever to judge too harshly.

    Now, in a case of say a Britney Spears, I see a person who has ‘made it’ based on the very structure that built her up as a product to sell. Her music written for her, her dances made for her, even her voice not very good it piped in for her to lip-synched at performances, and yet mothers with children will happily sing along to her latest song in the car with her children. She has shown us her ‘real self’ in various paparazzi photos of how she ‘raises’ her children etc.

    Now, in a case of a Lady Gaga, I actually see someone with both talent and artistic merit. She has skill and intelligence and actually views much of the FAME world today as ludicrous. I only wish she could use her talent and ability to make her followers feel more than just to be ‘different’ is an answer to life. To actually make and create is important. We won’t all be famous, yet the current trend for all youths seems to get rich and live FABULOUS lifestyles. But, what of the art of the kitchen, the song of the small family, the happiness of your small community and your small part in it. All of those things are valid and if only there were some way to get the Lady Gaga’s to be a wonderful talented background to that world, it could be as it once was. The songs and stars of the past often lived outside society’s norms, but their affect on the masses who chose not to live that way, was still entertainment and joy pure JOY that could be shared from grandma down to little Johnny. Lady Gaga now is Very shocking and I can understand why you would not want your daughter to listen to her, yet she is not a sudden surprise. Our world is so set up with reality tv, commercialism, over sexuality etc, we cannot be surprised. But, I can feel sad as I really feel a girl such as she in say 1940’s could have been a great entertainer. She would not have to react to nor subscribe to our current society which is all about appearence, yet without expressing ourselves in original fashion, but rather mass produced items and sameness. That is part of the sadness of the modern world for me. Someone from 1955 would laugh if you told them you paid money to wear a shirt that advertises the company from which you bought it.

    Now, back to Lady Gaga. This outdated and out moded NEED to shock has certainly run its course. Let it, like the irreverent art movements of the 80’s, fall to the wayside and let us rejoice and embrace actual talent and it’s expression in Joy or sorrow, love or pain, but enough has been said and demonstrated of Lust, Cruel want for wealth, and In your face shock. It has been said. We are angry when those famous say it and represent it in their songs and videos, yet do we not feed into that very society with many of our choices. Even choosing to merely ignore it is, in a way, only adding to it. If somehow we could, through example in our own lives, rather than just our voice, express the need to change the world in which lady Gaga is Lady Gaga and not just a great singer of songs written by a current talented song writer like Copeland. The world is made up of all of us. We may act as if we have no control over it, but the trends and actions are made my our decisions or even our decision to simply turn away from it.

    So, when I see a Lady Gaga, I feel a little saddened because I feel she is the type to have the talent and power and artistic ability to actually make an entire MOVEMENT towards expressing Joy and Life through music and art and throngs would follow her there. I feel she has so much more to say than simply, “look how shocking I am” and if she would say it, what a difference she could make. But, maybe if we all work a bit each day at improving our life outwards, the actions of True talent, Joy and happy living will begin to trump the idea of ease, money, and lazy rudeness. And, as Josephine Baker went from the young girl in The Banana dance, to this performance in 1950s, maybe the Lady Gaga of tomorrow will be different because we are being different as well.

    Maybe Gaga’s expression of society as an artist will change if we all work to change what society is. We mustn't remain happy to merely dislike or be angry with the world unless we plan to change it. Though we may simply be a little homemaker in a little town in a rural area, we can still make a difference; we can still be that tiny pebble that sends large ripples through the great pond. Take pride in our dress, and attitude. Make and create our own food and clothes. Insist we and are family are important enough to have a nice dinner at a table with real dishes. Know it is better to try and shop local even if it is not always easier and important to get out into the community and connect. Begin to know our neighbors and make entertainment that involves and does not exclude youth. And make those changes. Perhaps our children won’t need, then, to look to the tv and Fame to find passion, art, and role models and maybe, just maybe, those in Fame and power will want or need to mirror the current trend of talent, hard work and deeper expression. In a way, all that happens in our country is part of our responsibility.

    If we currently live in a society where someone both with actual talent or one who is just marketed, but both need the overt in your face approach to become mainstream, what does that say about that society? We do not merely respond to good talent for how would we? Our only connection to the world is though the tv and computer unless we live in large cities. The concept of the radio as it once was is no longer. We find and are introduced to new music through advertising, as much as we are anything else.The one positive role of the computer is it can and may put the power of the real talent and small time artist back into their hands and allow the masses access to them. Not just what large media companies feel we will respond to.

    So, it makes we realize we all really can make such differences ourselves. Even when we choose to ‘dress nicely’ all the time (it doesn't’ have to be vintage) we are making not only an artistic statement but an actual valid change in our own life that says, “I am important to myself and my community and how I look affects others as well as myself.” There would maybe not be such a need to worship such obscure fashion statements as Lady Gaga, if the average teenager had the clothes and fashions of their own. They are a sea of hoodies, advertising shirts and sports printed shirts, jeans, tennis shoes and uggs. NO WONDER they lust after such extreme fashion statements as lady Gaga has made. They don’t realize how much they could have in their own life. Gone are the days of girls happily sewing and making dresses of various styles and their designs or planning to dress and look pretty like the various grown ups in their lives. We all, really, are craving change because we live in a world of ease in some areas. Cooking, clothes, decor, all that is rather easy and for the working masses, there is nothing left to do after working but watching tv and playing on the internet. If we could but take back those things we so happily delegated to the factories (food, clothing, decor) our living WOULD become more meaningful.

    Now, I am not saying everyone. I am sure there are many of you out there that are happy just as you are, but I have found that most people who read my blog are ‘looking’ for something. There life is good, but…there is a missing element and we can often find it in the GOOD ways of yesterday. And, if we make them the NEW ways of today, we won’t feel we are only living a past life. Rather than having to isolate ourselves we will be encouraging others outside of it and their normal may become ours.

    Here are two photos just to think about.


    I am not saying either group of these two women are better than the other or the one is smarter or more repressed. What I am saying is, if you see these two images of the average woman today and then what you would see in the 50’s (not that there were not sloppily dressed then, but on the norm women in hats and gloves was normal). Could a young girl becoming  a teen want to emulate the fashion of her mother more, if it were in fact different and more grown up than her own? I am not saying yes, but just curious what you think. And how you feel or view these two images next to one another. How much attraction of a person as Lady Gaga is the youthful need to express and want to ‘dress up’ by her extreme fashions in contrast to the sameness of today?

      Now, before I publish this I am going to make some statements that might help those who are going to tell me how close minded or ill-informed I am. I am not saying ALL people must change and live as I say. I am everyday learning new things about my own modern world and the past and always adjusting my life to better suit, so I do not have an exact unchanging ‘Rule List” I wish to impose on any of you.

    Also, I merely am stating ideas as questions to you as: do you think this could be true? Is it nonsense? What is your opinion on the matter? Not, “This is how it is, now go out and do my bidding”. So that covers that. As to any other comments, which I am sure I shall get, we shall deal with them case by case, I suppose, but it does always make for good conversation, I think. I just hope that we can see that all of what happens in our modern world is affected and due to all of us, which in a way makes it good. It means if we don’t like it, we need to change it and that change can’t be asked of anyone else until we first make it for ourselves. It would hardly be fair to ask others unless we, ourselves, first try.

    Just for fun, here is a 1950’s maidenform bra admaidenformad with a hair bow like Lady Gaga’sladygaga I just thought it interesting is all.

    So, maybe one day, if we do act and want to change our current world, the young kids will want to see a lady Gaga such as this.

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