Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 August 1956 “Steel Houses, Made Of Ticky Tacky”

I know this song is meant to be a sort stereotype of the middleclass, but in a way it sort of has a new meaning to me. Sometimes a little ‘same’ is nice and comforting. Sometimes all the ‘same’ is merely many people happy. But, I digress.
Sorry for such a late post today.  I thought I would share more photos. I just love photos like these. They come from a site about steel homes, (there are more pictures there). The site is interesting and apparently they made and still make all steel homes. I imagine the cleaning inside was easy, as it appears the walls and all are metal. It makes me think of these vintage metal doll houses,metaldollhouse metaldollhouse2 Here are the doll houses and here is this family’s real steel house: steelhouse I am not getting any kickback or anything for mentioning this company, but too bad, because as far as advertising goes, I’d be proud to be a ‘sponser’ for a wonderful old American company like this that still produces product and building in our country! They are called LUSTRON.56bdayparty How adorable are these girls at this birthday party? You can see the shiny metal walls.
BeatCLockGame1955Here a game of “Beat the Clock” is a night’s entertainment in their modern home.   Here is the gamebeattheclockgame which was based on a popular show of the time.
onthephone This photo just makes me smile. I love their modern dishes and metal cups. And I really love the little girl’s glasses. I also find it sweet how the phone was once used, especially when you compare it to 2010.cellphones1 Maybe I am an old fuddy duddy, but somehow this image makes me sad.
Anyway, it seems there are only a few thousand of these Lustron Steel homes still standing, which is sad as they seem like a rather good idea. I wonder if any of you have one in your town and not realize it. If any of you are interested  HERE is a site dedicated to preservation.
Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.

Monday, August 30, 2010

30 August 1956 “A Fun Book Making Challenge”

I discovered, hopefully not too late, a fun challenge on a site. The challenge was the questions, “Is the old saying true, Everyone has one book inside of them?” With that in mind we were asked to make up a dummy or idea of a book we would like to make.

So for the “Nuffnang August Blogger Challenge” I thought I would have a go at it. I have often thought that my year in 1955 would make a fun and interesting book. My current busy schedule of both living in the past, running my household, and also trying to create the site to become a sort of vintage community and vintage magazine for all of you takes up quite a bit of my time, not to mention Blog posts. But, I love it all and thought, why not try out this challenge.

So, here it is, my quick thrown together idea for ‘My Book’. (All images can be clicked to view and read full size)

 bookcover The cover. This could be done in so many ways, but for this challenge I thought sweet and simple was the way to go.

 bookinside A fun introduction is always good, don’t you think. It doesn’t have to be a novel, right?

 bookchapters Chapters that leave room for tips and maybe even a rant or two. There would be more than four chapters of course, this is just an ‘overview’ idea.

And, of course, I would want to include many of my food photos.threelayerfudgecakeBecause, a gal can never cook enough, learn enough new recipe nor, it seems, take enough artsy photos of her food. It, much like baking and cooking, is an addiction with me!donuts6biscuits3And, there would be images of various parties and spreads I have done with ideas for more.birthday teaparty5I would want to touch on sewing and fashion, and the general work ethic and kind and considerate manners of the past, all of which many of us would like to bring back and use in our daily life.

Well, that is my silly little post today. I need to get this off, because I just realized that Australia is a day ahead of the USA!

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

29 August 1956 “Taking today off”

womanrelaxing I am taking today off, sort of. I am using my ‘computer time’ today to work more on the total re-vamp of the site that I have been doing. I also will be busy over the next three days easing my old tenants out and letting new tenants into the house we rent out.

So, I hope all are enjoying their Sunday. Hubby, Gussie, and I are about to go for a lovely walk to the shore. I need some good calming rest before dealing with my tenants.

I shall still endeavor to post this week, daily, though. I hope all are still interested in my shorter but more frequent posting.

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

28 August 1956 “Brownies, and Chocolate and Chickens…Oh My!”

I have mentioned this before and shall, most likely, do so again in the future: Why use box or prepared when it is easier and cheaper to make your own?
I think often we modern women (well when I was a modern woman I did) think, ‘Oh, it’s just easier to use prepared’. However, every day I try another pre-packaged item home-made, I am always more pleased with myself and the product quality.
Cake mixes are fairly easy to make ahead, in fact I have blogged about it before. There are some good dry mixes from my vintage books and even modern versions such as THIS which you can store in the icebox or freezer and is easy to ‘whip up’ as it has the butter already in (hence icebox/freezer storage needed).
chocbrownie I just made some homemade brownies yesterday and they are quite easy. I did not use any homemade make ahead mix, for it is so simple to whip these up.chocbrownieupclose
Yummy Brownies
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan or round pan (I used an 8” single layer cake pan to make fun cake slice servings.)
    2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. I always ‘undercook’ brownies, because as with all foods, they continue to cook when you remove them from the oven.

Again, on the ‘homemade’ track, I often will be in my kitchen using something store bought and will think, “Hmmm, can I make this?” Which has happened with everything from Catsup to Mayonnaise. So, when I wanted some chocolate syrup the other day I thought, “Why buy it?” First of all, most syrups are corn syrup not sugar. They also have odd preservatives and a higher quality would be more expensive. Yet, if you use a good quality unsweetened powdered baking chocolate, then you have the base for homemade chocolate syrup.
I don’t know about you, but my basic pantry supplies always contain powdered unsweetened baking chocolate. It is the base for many wonderful foods and again, the more we reduce our foods to their basic ingredient components, the less we really need to buy and the better quality and healthier our food will be.
chocsyrup1I came up with this very basic chocolate syrup recipe which can easily be stored in your fridge for a month or more (maybe longer, I don’t know as I make small batches and then when I need some last minute, it is so easy to whip up, why have gallons of the stuff sitting around?)
The recipe is basically one part unsweetened chocolate powder to two parts sugar and water and vanilla or any essence to taste. You can use almond or coconut extracts. Because you boil it you can infuse it with any flavor, put some fresh picked culinary variety Lavender in there if you like.  So as an example of the recipe:
chocsyrup2 Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened powdered baking cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
flavoring to taste.
Boil, stirring constantly, until thickened ( about 2 minutes)
cool and decant.
I keep mine in little mason jars. But here is another opportunity to make use of some darling containers or saved jars and print up some of your own labels or little stickers.
Now you wouldn’t think such a simple thing could taste so good. Or else you would just think of the taste of a cheap plastic bottled syrup, it’s good, but you might not think it amazing. Well, last night when we had our friend over, I served the above brownies with a scoop of ice-cream and my chocolate sauce. She thought it was so good and I noticed, as we sat and gabbed over our coffee, that she kept dipping her finger into the leftover sauce on her plate, apologizing but she couldn’t help it. To borrow from a not so tasty fried chicken chain, ‘it’s finger lickin good’.
Now, an odd jump from homemade food to chickens, but I thought I would share some photos of how big my gals (and guys) have got. I still need to share the making of my chicken house and that entire building project I did. But, for now, here they are. I have started free ranging them in my yard. They have a covered chicken run that they can access from their house, but during the day I live the door to from the run to the yard open.
Buttons, my favorite hen, is so tame that she will sit on my lap whenever given the chance. She is the first out and the first to come running when I shout ‘chick chick chick’. I keep my kitchen door open, so my dogs can come and go as they please, and this morning I found Buttons the hen walking about bold as brass in the kitchen. When she saw me and I admonished, “Buttons, what are you doing in here” she just looked at me, clucked and casually strolled out, as if to say, “I will go now, but I will be back”.
It’s funny to think they have gone from thiseggsinincubator to thiseggpippingto thesechicks1  and now here they are and still not full grown.chickens2
I hope everyone enjoys their Saturday, I am lucky that mine is warm and sunny. I shall get a bike ride in this afternoon. Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

27 August 1956 “Just some fun pictures”

We had a friend in today so I didn’t have a moment to post. She is moving back from Austen to Maryland and is from the Cape originally. I had fun and made dinner and enjoyed our company.
Here are some fun pictures, then, to make up a last minute post for today.
speigaldresses Here are some darling dressed from a Speigal catalog from 1956 summer. Aren’t their strappy shoes adorable and fresh.speigaldresses2 These are so adorable, I love both the drop but fitted waist of the blue number and the puff sleeves of the lilac frock.
Stewardess uniform modeled by Maryanne Kowaleski When I spoke of uniforms the other day, I can’t believe I forgot the stewardess. I am sure this outfit looks as if it might be hard to work in, yet women did. And it looks smart and does a great job to represent the class and style of the airlines. I also think it would be fun to go to work in something like this, I would feel proud. This is from August 1956.
womanwithbike I liked this photo because to me it just felt very ‘normal’ not vintage. Because to me this is just another day out on the bike. My bike, which is vintage, is similar to this only teal blue and I often ride in my dress and this summer I was often in transit from the shore and home with my dress and beach things on my trusty bike. This photo is from a jims army daze.
Well, I am off to bed. Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

26 August 1956 “It Don’t Mean A Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing: Music 1956”

50sjukeboxOther than the radio and jukebox, here in 1956 our music is on vinyl. Records, we call them.
 recordstoreThis photo is a wonderful shot of a record store. It is quite large so click on it to see the details of the shop (thanks to Shorpy). Of a Saturday night, this place would probably be jumping with kids getting the latest.
Elvis, seen here himself with with records, is becoming quite popular.elvisrecords He has his first #1 hit this year with Heartbreak Hotel (the song from the same titled album)elvisheartbreakhotel It was released in January of this year and he is rocketing to stardom, quickly. In fact this year Paramount will sign Elvis to a three picture deal.
  Most likely at my age I would not hear Elvis other than on the radio. I don’t think his record would end up on my shelf.
One who would be added to my collection (and is, by the way, as I have almost all Doris Day on LP) is Doris Day.dorisdayrecord56This is her latest album here in 1956. Here is one of the songs from this album, “Hello, my lover, Goodbye”.

And so you can hear how it would sound to me, here in 1956, here is another song from that album, although played on a more modern record player. You can still hear the richness and the ‘pop’ that the album offers. Give it a listen and imagine yourself in your vintage dress, dancing with hubby after the kids are tucked in, he still wearing his shirt and tie from dinner. And maybe if you have a teenage daughter, she is quietly listening to Elvis in her room instead of getting a good night sleep, it is a school night after all.
carlperkins Carl Perkins, whom I have mentioned before, has a hit on the R&B charts with “Blue Suede Shoes”. This is the first time a country artist has made it into the R & B list.
  Many people today recall this song with Elvis. Though, this is its beginning and you can see the cross sounds of R & B and Country that Elvis used.
In the opera world, the famous Maria Callas records Verdi “Il Trovatore”. This would most likely also make it into my Record collection.
This year, in July, the Met Opera actually cancelled the 56-57 Opera Season because of a Labor dispute. However, they were able to find a common ground and on 29 October, the New York Opera season would begin.
Another fun Music movement here in the mid 50’s is Mambo music.

Many might recall Rosemary Clooney’s “Mambo Italiano”
Mambo even influenced Sit-coms, and this Honeymooners from this year (1956) Called “Mama Loves Mambo”, was called this as a play on the title of another popular Mama number, “Papa loves Mambo”.
Here is the Honeymooner episode from this year.
Do you have a favorite song from the 1950’s?
Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

25 August 1956 “Awww, nutz…NO, Doughnuts!”

donutgirl This morning I made doughnuts for hubby and my breakfast. I made the cake doughnut as opposed to the yeast-raised doughnut. Both are very good ( I am partial to a hot plate of fresh yeast-raised dredged in sugar!) but the cake is an easier and quicker doughnut to make, as there is no waiting for the dough to rise.
doughnuts This is the good advice from my Betty Crocker Cook Book and here is their recipe for Cake Doughnuts.
bestcakedonutrecipe(Click to enlarge) It is a very good recipe. Today I used this version which makes less doughnuts overall.
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3/8 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting
  1. Stir the vinegar into the milk, and let stand for a few minutes until thick.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture alternating with the vinegar and milk. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/3 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts using a donut cutter. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Fry doughnuts in the hot oil until golden, turning over once. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar while they are still warm, and serve immediately.
However, in both recipes I use either Butter or Lard never shortening. I have stopped using it awhile ago and prefer butter and lard, as they are both more natural and I think taste SO much better.
donuts1 Here they are being rolled out.donuts2 Here is a lovely close up showing the softness of the dough as it waits it’s 15 minutes before it is popped into its hot oil bath:donuts3 I thought this shot of our demolished plate of doughnuts was rather cute, as you can see the fun starburst pattern on my platter.donuts4 donuts5 And here are two close-ups showing the texture and color of these delicious little deadlies.donuts6 I use my mother’s vintage 1950’s donut cutter (which has the little removable center for the hole so I also use it for my biscuits and scones.) Not only does this give me an authentic vintage doughnut size, it is wonderful for your appetite, because two of these doughnuts are propably not as big as a modern doughnut, but you feel as if you are eating more. These are also good in the glaze made of melted butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla extract. As well as just confectioners sugar or cinnamon and sugar or even plain.
I think a cake doughnut, such as these, have a longer shelf life/taste ratio. These will be fine tomorrow and the next day kept under my cake plate, while a yeast raised tends to not taste as good the next day. The chickens love these, when there are ever any left for them (which is not often!)
This movie from the 1950’s about doughnuts is a riot. It  is funny and fun to watch, so take some time to do so. I love the tongue in cheek approach of the narrator as he discusses the ‘streamline looks and various exteriors’ available for this mass produced product. Saying such things in a great booming voice as “ A Free Man in a Free World, Free to Dunk!” And discussing the Dunking addict the “Dunkomaniac” who ‘can’t take one dunk and quit”. And of course, the Donut of Tomorrow, The “Super Absorbent Atomic Donut”! It is all quite funny, so do watch.
There are also some great images of 50’s Diners indoors and good shots of vintage dishes and vacuum pots of coffee and some cute hats.
In all seriousness, though, the chain donut shop was born, among many of our modern things, in the 1950’s. The local bakery was soon to see the stiff competition of the ‘chain restaurant’ and this included that Pure American Food: The Donut.
firstdunkindonuts In my neck of the woods, there is Dunkin Donuts: that behemoth of a donut chain that has seem to swallow up every corner in various towns here on the Cape, unfortunately. The very first Dunkin Donuts, shown in the image above, was created in 1950 in Quincy Massachusetts, by William Rosenberg.
misterdonut This year, in 1956, Mister Donut was started. It was meant to be competition for Dunkin Donuts. It later was bought out by the company and today its now owned and run in Japan and the Philippines.krispykreme50s Krispy Kreme (Which I have to admit I love much more than Dunkin Donuts but sadly have been all but run out of MA) was mainly in the south and south-eastern US. I would not have access to them in 1956 unless I were to travel that direction.
kanesdonuts Some of the small mom and pop places did survive. Here in my home state of Massachusetts, Kane’s Donuts, which was started in 1955 in Saugus, is still going today.
No matter how you eat it, dunk it, or prefer it :Plain or Coated in everything, The doughnut is definitely an American Institution.
Try making some of your own, because a hot doughnut in the morning is wonderful. And the look on faces as they head to the kitchen and get a wonderful scent of those cooking delights is worth the work.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

24 August 1956 “The invention of Ant Farms, The Demise of Real Farms, and Refrigerators Here and Abroad”

antfarm2 At a Fourth of July family picnic this year,1956, Milton Levine came up with the idea for the Ant Farm.antfarm

You can actually buy the reproduction of this ant farm today. I put it in the corner store under vintage child  HERE. I know I don’t have a child, but I might actually get one for my desk. Have any of you had an ant farm before?

farmersdaughter Now, for real farms. There is a very definite downward trend in number of actual farmers:

In 1940 18% of American labor force was farmers. By the end of the 1950’s that had dropped to 8%. However the size of the farm and the amount of irrigated acreage increased. 1940 it was Number of farms: 6,102,000; average acres: 175; irrigated acres: 17,942,968 while in 1959 Number of farms: 3,711,000; average acres: 303; irrigated acres: 33,829,000.

In 1933, American Historian Louis M. Hacker wrote an article the title of which has been much quoted: The Farmer is Doomed. He concluded that article with the following remark:

‘American commercial agriculture is doomed. No gifts of clairvoyance are required to foretell that the future of the American farmer is the characteristic one of all peasants for whom, in our present system of society, there is no hope.’

This bit from an article on agriculture I read from this year (1956) is interesting in its predictions:

CERTAINLY, the commercial family-farm group will continue to decrease. At the very moment when the Census Bureau was releasing its figures showing the depth of the drop as of 1954, the farm pundits strongly influential in federal policy were pointing out that the number of farmers in 1955 is far too great. And the bulging warehouses holding $7.5 billion in surplus farm products – in spite of the Eisenhower administration’s reduction of price levels at which it would buy these products – seemed to prove the point. It is estimated that the nation needs, instead of its present three and one-third million commercial farms, only two, or even one and one-half, million.

50sfarm However, then they did not know or even comprehend the immense amount of food grown outside the US and shipped in. Such a concept was not conceivable yet, and still they could see the ‘writing on the wall’ for the small farmer. The exodus from the farm to the city or the suburbs was on. The ‘future’ it was told was to those with college education and mental power over physical. It is interesting to note, I think, that today we see many people wanting a return to the simplicity of small local farms to try and undo what has been done by the large corporation farm and industry. Yet, I sometimes worry, that we have let the behemoth go too far on its lead and we cannot control it any longer. We are not longer in control and hopefully can look to little David and recall how he felled Goliath. We must remember this when we shop or even when we plant our flower beds, maybe opting for some tomatoes or lettuce in lieu of daisies.

Now, after we buy our garden fresh food, we need to keep it fresh. The Refrigerator, of course! In 1956 80% of American homes had refrigerators while in the UK it was only 8%!

We American’s must remember that rationing was still going on in the UK into the 1950’s. While we were dreaming or actually buying such mammoths as these56fridgeOr innovative solutions such as this56wallfridge or this56philco, Most likely the UK icebox was more than likely the small models from the 20’s and 30’s.1930sfridgefridgeoldAnd while we were learning to fill our fridges to the brimfull50sfridge Europe was happy to have enough food to fill the few shelves of their actual Ice Boxes. I wonder if these early days of Madison Avenue advertising were the beginning of our present day America of over-indulgence. Before the War we were not likely to ‘stuff our faces or our pantries’, but the fear of the war rationing and the sudden over abundance coupled with lovely ads in magazines and TV sponsors changed that.

Of course, those of you in 2010 know full well the result of this abundance and increased corporate world: The diabetic child with the shorter lifespan than those here in 1956. We must, I feel, learn moderation. We have allowed our American identity to be packaged and resold to us as we now see it, but it was not always this way. We were once frugal people who were in touch with the land and our families. Let us, again, not forget David and Goliath.davidngoliath

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