Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 November 1956 “Home-Made not Ready-Made Christmas”

I thought I would keep interjecting the next week or so with  some of the home-made decorating, gift making, table setting ideas from my vintage magazines.
To get us started I thought this home movie of a family enjoying their town’s Christmas decorations would give us a good spirit. As you can see, many of these wonderful outdoor decorations are obviously hand-made. And, I must say, say much more about the industrious spirit and innate artistic talents we, as a people, once displayed. No going to the big store and buying the giant ‘fan filled plastic blow up’ Christmas decorations. These were cut by hand from wood, or fastened with other materials, painted and constructed with our thoughts and hopes. Anyone can go and buy something and, as our towns now show, the homogeneousness of towns with all the same stores seems to be true to our Christmas. Any town in any state in the USA may have the same things in their yard all bought at the big box store. Why even bother? Why not make something original that will have meaning to those who have them in the future.
“Remember when Father cut and made this Santa out of wood?” is much nicer than, “Remember how we bought these for a few bucks and everyone had one?” Not that they will last long enough to be handed down.
Any way, enjoy this:
ballerinatree This darling little tree decorated with ballerina’s would delight any little girl’s room. The little figures could also become anything: Little toy soldiers, Christmas Carolers you name it!
ribbontree This tree could be made with all sorts of fun ribbon as well as the paper they used. A great way to use ribbon from previous Christmas. Try and save and reuse old paper, ribbon and cards. Why fill the landfill when you can fill your brain with ideas and your wallet with more money you DON’T spend on new paper and ribbons and decorations?!
yarntree This wonderful little tree could do well in a modern or antique setting depending on the colors and striped patterns used by you. It is made with yarn and left over or extra yarn is easy to come by. Why not even take an old moth eaten sweater that can’t be used for patching sweater elbows, making pot holders, or dolls, and unwind it and make a darling little tree. Father’s old sweater, rich with pipe smoke, that you recalled him wearing and reading the times is now a Christmas tree! That is what good memories, with no expense, are built upon. I think old ribbon and even garden twine would lend itself to this design, don’t you?
xmasdecinstructions1 xmasdecinstructions2 Here are the easy to follow instructions. Let me know if you make these and what other ideas with these plans you can think of. Home-made Christmas, here we come!
Happy Homemaking.

Monday, November 29, 2010

29 November 1956 “Sorry to be AWOL”

worriedwoman3 I am sorry to be ‘offline’ for the past two days. Our internet has been completely out and after hours on hold, found out much of New England was having trouble.

Nothing rockets me back to the frustration of modern life more than dealing with automated phone menus, pressing random buttons, being hung up on by a computerized voice, and hours of ‘Musack’. I am happy for many things in our modern world, our computer is a wonderful tool to know all of you and to allow me to express myself, but when things go wrong, boy do they eat up your day! I know I should be thankful for all we have in the modern world but sometimes I wonder if the time it took to do things the old way was not better spent than the rush rush of modern life and the sudden screaming stand-still stop that arrives when ‘things’ go wrong. And ‘things’ are always the computer. In a store, the registers are down, its the computer. Heaven forbid we just press in buttons and hand back cash, but no everything is SO complicated and mixed up with computers that if we ever DO have a nation wide brown out, what a horror that would be! Let us hope that does not happen.

Well, I shall return later this evening with a proper post. I have a bit of Christmas shopping to do with a friend. I need to fill some Brittle orders today (my pin money maker is doing rather well for the Holidays) and we are getting our Christmas tree today.

I hope all have a lovely day and I shall see you later today.

Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

27 November 1956 “Christmas is Coming”

I am sorry I didn’t make a post yesterday. We had such a lovely Thanksgiving and so much fun and food. However, yesterday I had a bit of a 24 hour cold. I am feeling a bit better today and so this shall be a short post as well. I hope all enjoyed their holiday.
christmasad2Seeing as yesterday was ‘Black Friday’ here in the USA (Crazy shopping day) I thought I’d share a couple Christmas ads. This first one is fun because it shows the style and graphics of what one would see in Christmas wrapping paper available from Hallmark in 1956. Fun bright colors and geometric shapes.
christmasadviewmaster For the young one on the list this year, these View Master toys were probably scrawled in childish hand-writing to Santa. 
christmasad1For the lady of the house, these higher end products would be a welcome surprise under the tree. $20 dollars in today's money would be $140.00 dollars. I am sure one could find an electric blanket very cheap today, but we must remember this probably lasted forever (in fact they are probably still around and working today) and were most likely manufactured in our country. Thus providing jobs and money for the holidays. I actually have that pink radio clock as it was my Mother in Laws and she let me have it. It was just stored away in the attic. She remembered having it as a teen in her room.
I hope all are avoiding the busy early Christmas shopping rush and getting into the Holiday spirit. I think we need, this coming month, to try and foster as much Christmas spirit as we can without too much emphasis on the consumer aspect. Maybe talk about and share homemade gift ideas. Home made ornaments and cookies and treats. Share stories and tales to tell around the fire in lieu of being to rushed about and stressed from spending money we haven’t got only to worry over the bills come January. Who is in with me to try and make this a less ‘Buying’ Christmas and a more Celebrating Christmas? And, when buying, local made or good reliable vintage!
Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

25 November 1956 “Happy Thanksgiving”

thanksgivingdayparade Here some families enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC in the 1950’s. I love the children’s winter suits. You will notice that, even were the picture in color, the over all look would be calm and pleasing colors. No loud neon and an over abundance of Corporate Logos and printed Thomas the Tank engine and Sponge Bob everywhere.
Now, they did have fun programs for kid’s in the 1950’s and Rootie Kazootie was one of them in the early 50’s.
rootiebook Rootie Kazootie was a popular early 1950’s children’s program. It incorporated puppets as well as live actors. The show first aired locally as “The Rootie Tootie Club” on New York’s  NBC affiliate WNBT on October 14, 1950.The show aired on NBC until November 1952, and was seen on ABC beginning in December. The last telecast was May 7, 1954.
So, today here is the Rootie Kazootie Thanksgiving special in its entirety even with advertising. So, if you are busy set the kids down in front of this fun show and see if they enjoy it. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

24 November 1956 “Thanksgiving Eve”

vintageturkeydayI think I may have shared this video last year, but it is fun to watch. A 1950’s family prepares for Thanksgiving. You will notice how the turkey is obviously Before we genetically made and then hormonally increased Turkey production. By today’s standards it seems almost a ‘weakling turkey’. We need to get back to that for our own health, I think.
Isn’t it lovely how the gentleman help the ladies to their seats. I like that they also point out how to use your soup spoon properly. This was always a pet peeve of mine, not sure why. I guess its the sound of people slurping up great bucketfuls of soup like they are eating their Cap’n Crunch in a vast bowl in front of the TV. This family seems to use the ‘American Method’ of eating with their fork in their right hand. It seems a mixed bag here in the states, but mostly my family eats with the fork in the left hand (that’s why it is placed on the left by the way).Although, later in this video the little boy uses his left hand with his fork (incorrectly I might add). They seem to switch back and forth, I wonder why that is? Who of you uses the left hand fork method vs. the left to cut, right to eat fork method? I wonder why we have that combination in this country. It would be interesting to find out.
I love that mother has her holiday corsage. And interesting that they have their holiday pudding now (or Christmas pudding). At least that is what I think she has lit for dessert set on the holly leaves.
I see they wished on the wishbone right after dinner. We always save ours to dry for the first week of Christmas and then wish upon it, not sure why.
I have made ahead some of my things. I made my Brown Bread yesterday. It steams for about three hours and is very easy to make. I made my cranberry sauce from local Sandwich grown cranberries. The cape and this area is a very large cranberry growing area. They are lovely before they harvest, when they flood the fields and the men in their big waders are out rounding up the floating bright red berries.
I have designed and made a dinner favor/place card and also printed up our menu. Sometimes when I do a longer sit down dinner now, I like to have the menu in front of each plate just to see what is being served and as a fun take home for my guests. Many people scrap book and these are fun ways to have keepsakes. You can write on the back or stick a photo of the day there, whatever you like. I will show how they looked after the table is set, but here is the image before it is printed.
  thanksgivingcard For the Favor/place card I scanned an old Post card and then changed it in Photoshop. I was going to handwrite each person’s name, but I actually liked how the font I used really looked cute for the persons name. Again, a fun thing to save for a scrapbook. (Just as an aside, we call our house 6-A House, because we are the historic King’s Highway, also known as 6A. I don’t know when this started, but we have called it that for years.)
thanksgivingmenu Here is the Menu. I wanted to make a homemade version of the green bean/onion casserole that many people have on Thanksgiving. I have never served it myself and have only ever had the ‘original’ version once. It is made with a can of soup, can of beans and packaged fried onions. I found it rather salty and ‘fake’ tasting. But, I wanted to make my own homemade version. So, yesterday I made some mushroom cream soup with shitake mushrooms and real cream. I also pan fried onions very thin and just lightly coated in flour. I will mix these with fresh beans tomorrow to make the casserole. Since I did so much work, I decided to name the dish in French. So, Green Bean Casserole with Shitake mushrooms became Cocotte de Haricot verte avec les champignons shitake. Some how in French it sounded better and though it seems a bit ‘overdone’ for this big holiday, I think it will be fun. And of course I can watch my guests read it, do their French in their head and then laugh.
Oh, I thought I would share a good site for napkin folding. There are many ways to do it. I prefer the rosebud, as it is simple and I can also insert my Thanksgiving favor in the front, like a little pocket. HERE is the site.
Well, back to work for me. I hope all of you here in the States have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And Happy Homemaking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

22 November 1956 “More Thanksgiving”

Just a quick post today, as I am off to a friends and I have some Thanksgiving things to prepare.
boyandfatherturkey I love this image of the son watching his father check the turkey. And what a bird!
With more information for any of you new Thanksgiving chef’s, here is a good turkey roasting time-table I thought I would share.
roastingtimetable I am not sure if I am going to try these myself. I will at some point, not sure if I will for Thanksgiving. But, they are so much fun I had to share, in case any of you were looking for a fun way to serve up those sweet potatoes this year! What a lovely vintage way to do so and a marshmallow in the center of each little treat, what fun.sweetpotatopuffssweetpotatopuffs2
Happy Homemaking.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

21 November 1956 “Q & A Sunday: Cooking With Lard”

Today’s Q & A is concerning our old friend lard. I had a recent question in a c0mment from one of you concerning this. I have also received various letters on the subject, so let’s look at that much misunderstood cooking fat: Lard.
Now, to start with, the question I received most recently was concerning a ‘meaty taste’ to a pastry while using lard. There are two possible reasons for that result. The first, and most likely the case, is the quality of the lard. Lard is made from Pig. Any part of the pig that contains fat (lard is rendered fat) can be used in lard production. However, there are ‘better’ parts of the pig for the lard which is better suited for pastry.
The second reason could simply be that maybe one should halve the fat of a pastry recipe between butter and lard, to see if they notice a difference. Perhaps the taste is so new it became more apparent to you. I, however, think it might be the quality of lard, as I have never had my lard pastry taste of ‘meat’.
Here are three levels of Lard: “The highest grade of lard, known as leaf lard, is obtained from the "flare" visceral fat deposit surrounding the kidneys and inside the loin. Leaf lard has little pork flavor, making it ideal for use in baked goods, where it is valued for its ability to produce flaky, moist pie crusts. The next highest grade of lard is obtained from fatback, the hard subcutaneous fat between the back skin and muscle of the pig. The lowest grade (for purposes of rendering into lard) is obtained from the soft caul fat surrounding digestive organs, such as small intestines, though caul fat is often used directly as a wrapping for roasting lean meats or in the manufacture of pâtés.”
lard Now, I would love to try various types of lard, but so far have only had experience with the simple store bought version by Armour. I am still uncertain if this is Hydrogenated. If so, it might add saturated fat. The good news for lard is that it  has Less saturated fat (the bad kind) and more unsaturated fat (the good kind) and LESS cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight.
Lards use in the 19th century was often due to cost. Butter was much more expensive than lard (I imagine the process by which you make butter including the smaller about derived from it as opposed to the large quantity of lard obtained from rendering a pig is vast.)
lard2 As I am uncertain about the lard I use, I found this product which will end up next on my monthly pantry list HERE.
The more research I have done, I have begun to think that I may, when not ordering the lard mentioned above, try my had at rendering my own. It seems simple enough and I am sure I can get it easily enough from a butcher I know of in Plymouth.
This tutorial on CHICKENS IN THE YARD blog is a very good step by step to lard making. Have any of you ever tried making your own?
So, I would say, if you are new to lard use 1/2 butter 1/2 lard. You will find, however, that lard is wonderful for pastry. If any are concerned of the product itself, ask yourself that while you are eating processed chips/Doritos, fast food, any pre-packaged box food in which all kinds of bad ingredients exist. Then ask yourself, ‘Can homemade things with lard, made so you know what is going into it and eaten in moderation be really bad for you?” Also consider the ‘bad press’ lard and even butter and eggs got by our ‘good friends’ the FDA when you consider who is pushing the cheaper made mass produced products of shortening and margarine and spreads.
Now, finally, I thought with Thanksgiving on its way I would show you the carving tutorial in one of my magazines. I hope it will be helpful.carvingturkey
Happy Homemaking.

Friday, November 19, 2010

19 November 1956 “How to Bring Back the Good Ole’ Days”

fatherknowsbest I was thinking the other day about that general statement : “We had it better back then”. In some cases many people say it was horrible back then, restrictive oppressive, nothing to do. And the converse being that we often decry the modern day and say how much lovelier it was back when.
My last two years have been riding this sew saw of truths and myths. I have come to understand more about not only the past, but our present. Things I thought were Hollywood-ized, often were. Yet, things I didn’t even consider appeared and myths turned out to be truths and truths myths. Let’s just say it has been a roller coaster of a year, but a good one. A roller coaster one chose to ride again and again (though I hate heights and would never actually ride a real roller coaster, buy you get the idea).
I have come to many realizations during these past two years. As a matter of course, when one approaches each day as a new set of tasks to undertake, lessons to learn and realities to discover or dispel as myths, one is certain to have little epiphani (I am assuming that is the plural of epiphany). In other words, I have many ‘ah-ha!’ or ‘Oh…’ moments. Today this moment came to me in the realization that Yes we did have it Better back then as far as Middle Class compared to today. Yet, I am beginning to see that much of it is not due to any specific things changing in our environment so much as how we live and perceive that environment.
In the 1950’s houses cost less. It is very much a fact that many of the bad decisions and rampant freedom the Government/corporation (You try to separate the two, I can’t seem to) lead to our over inflated real estate bubble. Yet, 1950’s houses also cost less because they were SMALLER. I know we have talked about this before, but it really hit me today that this is just one thing on a list of things that have changed that could easily be changed back. Obviously, we cannot alter the property values of our area, but we can move to a less expensive area and/or downsize the size of our house/apartment. It was not uncommon for a family of 5 or 6 to live in a 2-3 bedroom home with one bathroom. This was the middle class.
The amount of money spent on food is often higher today despite the fact that food WAS MORE EXPENSIVE in the 1950’s. Many people often like to say things such as ‘Oh, back this food item only cost such and such’. As an example eggs cost around .80 cents a dozen. Well, adjusted for inflation that is over $6.00 today. Things such as entertainment was less expensive though, such as movies and even the cost of paperbacks are equal to about 1-2 dollars in today’s money, while today they cost over $7.00.
I think the revelation is that what we considered the “good life” back then, may be more in keeping in what is considered below par today. Such as less bathrooms, only one car to a family, most meals at home, treats usually homemade or only an occasional candy from your allowance. Even the constant drinking of soda today, though it can be had cheap, still eats up the budget not only in food money spent, but dentist bills and also medical as well.
Think of the latest gadgets today. There isn’t a day or week that something ‘new’ isn’t coming out. Video game machines have a life of about 2 years and each game is over $50.00. Add to that the increase in electricity to run all the computers in our homes, charge cell phones, run multiple TV’s. The cost of gas is also greater as is its consumption for the average middle class family.
While children, for the most part, had to entertain themselves this cost was usually quite low. A once a week trip to the movies was not unheard of for the kids, but these were much less expensive. Yet, we have the option to watch endless movies today online for free, but these are often accompanied by endless adverts, which of course encourage more spending.
So, really, to live a 1950’s middle class life, a family today could actually do it quite easily. If one were able to get hold of the highest expense, that being housing and healthcare, then the rest could also fall into place. Even if one wanted to shop at places like Wal-Mart for cheap clothes and food, it could be EVEN CHEAPER, as you would remember, you would have LESS clothing. There would be ‘play clothes’ that you put on after school to save your nice clothes longer. You would have a few nice clothes a good suit for Sunday and other events and that was really it. Shoes, most likely nice dress shoes for school/church/functions and sneakers/trainers for play. But, they would be inexpensive converse shoes that you would wear out. Not endless new designed large white monstrosity’s covered in names and gadgets that cost $100.
It just really dawned on me how far we have come from then. Really the current form of consummerism was born in the 1950’s but that adult generation did not grow up with endless print and TV advertising. There was no pressure to be ‘cool’ or ‘understood’ by your parents. Young people were taught to aim towards adulthood. Teenagers were merely young adults preparing for their own families. Today, it seems, we are never shown or given examples of adulthood. Things like savings, citizenship, practicing for job interviews, home and building skills, repair skills, all things relevant to a middle class life in any home are either not given or simply scoffed at as old fashioned. Thus, teams of unprepared children go out into the world, are handed their credit cards at the college door and away they go, buy buy buy.
I know I have talked a lot about consumerism this year, but it has only been lately that I am beginning to see how much we could get back that old 1950’s family life of savings and responsibility. Most families would be met with hostility from their teens based on their friends cell phones, games, cars, clothes and over all lifestyle. But, are they happier? Teens today are expectant mothers more, depressed more, have less aims and goals that are realistic or tangible and often end up back at home after college with mounting debt. Meanwhile the parents themselves are also under considerable debt and really a misunderstanding of how to run a household budget or get happiness out of life WITHOUT buying it.
I guess in a way my message isn’t new, but it  is hopeful. With some work and honest to goodness thinking and planning, we can recreate the ‘glory days’ of the 1950’s today. It goes against the over all spending consumerism we have come to accept as ‘normal’ but you can’t make a cake without breaking a few eggs, as they say.
I think when we really start listing and realizing the things we love about the past and how we would like to improve our lives, we can make a change. The Vintage life does not have to be about Marilyn Monroe poster, vintage dresses and Elvis records. Frugal living, more hands on living and enjoying the plastic life we can make with what is already created is part of that. We need to realize to be ‘green or frugal’ doesn’t mean we have to wear hemp shirts, not shave, and go barefoot (unless that is what you are looking for) It is just as green to wear a vintage dress and petticoat be impeccably groomed when one has made or re-used clothes from the past. A wonderful local meal can also be 1950’s themed and colorfully fun, its all about where you source your ingredients and making more yourself. Flour, butter, milk, eggs, and sugar make a plethora of items, you’d be surprised as you begin to break down what you eat into its component parts, especially when you begin removing the chemicals. Even the concept of needing to buy an expensive coffee everyday or even lunch or a muffin, we don’t realize how this adds up. This also is almost an act of rote as opposed to a fun or special event. We become numb to things that were once ‘treats’ when they are simply repeated. Therefore we end up with less money and are overall less happy about it. We might say things like “Oh, God, I need my Starbucks everyday” well, then, good. I hope you also need less money in your account, enjoy more time working and are prepared to work way past retirement age. An age, it now seems, that will be pushed even further away than at present.
Today I made myself a caramel ‘latte’ that was wonderful. The caramel sauce was homemade. I made it last week and it is in a mason jar in my ice box. The latte was a cup of home brewed coffee and half a drinking glass filled with milk steamed in a pan on the stove. It was better than I get at Starbucks. In fact, now whenever I eat anything out (which is not very often) I can quite literally taste the preservatives. It is odd how your palette begins to recognize it. Even the caramel sauce, when it is store bought, I can literally taste the preservative.
Let’s look at what was considered a ‘good working family’ of the time.
I also truly wonder if a modern family DID take on the ‘normal’ expectations of the 1950’s middle class, could the wife cease working? If housing was made cheaper (if it is too expensive where you love, move. I know it sounds drastic, but you have to live somewhere for the rest of your life, ask yourself WHY you live in the area you live?) Less spending overall on food, entertainment, toys/electronics. One computer for the family. One or No TV only used in the evenings for 1-2 hours. One phone for the family. Not everyone had phones back then and we all seemed to do okay. It really would be a good experiment to see the difference.
What do you think, as a modern person, you do that was not done by your counterpart in 1950s. This means even if you are a single working woman, how do you live differently from your 1950’s counterpart? I think it would be interesting to find out what you may think after you do some thinking and list making of your own life.
It isn’t for everyone, but I get letters all the time from people who wish they could ‘change their life’ or ‘bring back the old days’. Well, I think we could bring back a considerable portion of the good of it, only it takes some work and family meetings. But, as a family, you are a team. Though we often are separated in different rooms, looking at our own computer screens, cell phones, i-pads, if we come together and help one another out, the overall quality of life can improve.
So, let’s share, come one tell me how you think you are different or the same to your 50’s counterpart and do YOU think we can ‘bring back the good ole’ days’?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

18 November 1956 “The End of Bus Segregation in the South and Colorful 1950’s Design”

On the 13th of this month, 1956, The supreme court ruled it unconstitutional for Alabama and Montgomery Alabama to enforce bus segregation. Thus by the 20th the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began last year in December of 1955 with Miss Parks, has ended.
Here is an interview from April of this year (1956) from Miss Parks
colvin Last year (1955) before Parks refusal, a 15 year old girl, Claudette Colvin,  also refused to give up her seat to a white person. This combined with Parks lead to the Boycott. As most of the drivers and a large percentage of the patrons of the buses were black, this was a great economic hardship on the bus lines.
On June 4th of this year (1956) the pressure across the country in support of the ban on this segregation lead to the Federal District Court proclaiming the Alabama laws unconstitutional. But, an appeal kept the segregation in place until November, when the U.S. Supreme court declared such segregation unconstitutional.
It seems we don’t actually learn from our own history. Whenever we are prone to deny rights to fellow citizens, it leads to a raucous for awhile and really only more hatred and misplaced anger. And, in the end, the law is then often made right and the injured parties, once slaves, once women, then Blacks, win in the end. This is true today for other American’s whose civil liberties are brought into question. Understanding and kindness is so much a prettier place to be. Even when one does not agree with those being prejudiced against, one MUST agree that every individual DOES or should get the same liberties and freedom as all. I am not sure why this always is the case with we American’s, but it does seem to be a pattern.
I hope that kindness and charity will win out over personal opinion. But, alas, we have so many MORE ways to fan the fires today with endless ‘News’ programs, talk shows, radio shows, internet this and that. It’s a wonder the muck racking isn’t worse, though I suppose it is rather bad. We are constantly shown lines drawn in the sand and told to ‘choose a side’. We have all been on the other side of misunderstanding, so we should use that experience to put ourselves in the place of others. And that is all I have to say on that.
Just for fun, some colorful 1950’s items. armstrongad This bright ‘flagstone’ floor gets installed one ‘flagstone’ at a time. I say this room (most likely a basement room) has really committed to its theme. It has gusto, I will say that for it.
And speaking of Gusto, look at these lampshades. They are not wall flowers nor do they accompany a room, they become pieces of modern art, I would say.lampshadead
Happy Homemaking.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

17 November 1956 “Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations”

newyorker49 It seems the tradition of football and Thanksgiving has been around a bit, as this 1949 New Yorker attests. We don’t, in my family at least, partake in this tradition. Which, honestly is fine with me. My hubby knows football likes he knows how to cook a turkey…nil. But, for many American families the sound of the game is a part of the day. When I was younger and had to be at various family members, sometimes this was a part of the day.
Now what Thanksgiving prep would be complete without Butter? it really is a great way to roast a turkey, as is shown in this little video. One can also lift the skin a bit at the back and neck and put butter under, careful to lay it back down again. Olive oil also works nice for this and adds a different flavor.
Let us hope no one in the 1950’s or even today for that matter, found this sad little meal on their table.
Last year I roasted my Turkey for the first hour with only butter on, to seal in the juices, then the rest of the time with the lid on. I only took the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so, to nicely brown the skin. This seemed to really make it juicy.
Here are roasting instructions from one of my vintage magazines. I shall share more of it with you this week. This is the roasting. There is carving as well.
roastingaturkey1 roastingaturkey2
Here are some stuffing recipes. The first is for a roast duck, an alternative offered in this issue for Thanksgiving. But, I think it would be lovely in a turkey as well.appleraisinstuffing 
I am making oyster stuffing this year and might try this recipe:oysterstuffing Oyster stuffing is often a tradition here in New England. Last year I made a cornbread maple syrup stuffing, that was so lovely. Though, I don’t necessarily follow recipes to a tee, any longer. I know the gist of stuffing, as I make it more often than just at Thanksgiving, so it will most likely be a pinch of this a dash of that. Sometimes make your bread into an almost crouton is a good way to do it as well. The day before or even two days before, cut up your bread into cubes and season as you like then lightly bake to harden. Then you can taste the seasoning before you make it into a stuffing. It is rather like a homemade version of ‘box stuffing’.
For my American readers, are you doing anything special this year for Thanksgiving? Or any good recipes to share?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

16 November 1956 “Dreaming of Christmas”

I have been in the “Christmas Mood” of late, so just a few fun Christmas videos.
Toys for the young ones:
Christmas images:
Maybe mother will get a new “Frigidaire” under the tree this year. ( I like how they mention that now mother can shop only once a week!)
This last video is from here in Massachusetts, in Quincy at the Christmas Parade. It is fun to see the young girls getting ready (some in their dungarees). The ladies in their head scarves watching the parade. The school of Nursing, so proud in their lovely white uniforms, navy capes and nurses caps.
Get that Christmas Spirit going and Happy Homemaking.

Monday, November 15, 2010

15 November 1956 “Pin Money Weekend and War Time Mentality”

 workingwoman This weekend I felt a bit of a ‘Working Woman’. My friend and I made up some batches of jams, cookies and candies and participated in a local craft sale.
stefatsale Here is my partner in crime with our booty for sale. We even took the time to print up labels and made aprons to wear with our ‘logo’. We wanted to make it seem more professional. I think it did help as we almost sold out of everything. goodiegalslogoHere is the little logo we had ironed on our bib aprons. We used a similar one for our tags to label our jam and candies.goodiegalslabel I found, this past week, a new joy in candy making. It was my first time trying it and loved it. The science of it was rather fun. Here are two pans of my brittle waiting to set.brittlebrittlecloseupA fun closeup ‘landscape’ of the stuff.brittlepackagedAnd a little bag all prepared for the sale. I made quite a few fun varieties and the recipe I made from trying a few different versions and tweaking it until I liked the taste. My little sample dishes sold the product for everyone who popped in a taste immediately bought one.
What I discovered, this weekend, quite by chance was the temptation and lure of working outside the home. Quite without any forethought, I had actually thrust myself into a little mini-experiment. I took a contented 50’s homemaker (me) and suddenly placed her in a business setting where I received money for my work.
My hubby and I consider the money he earns to be ‘our money’ as I work just as hard (harder according to him) at home, so therefore I am earning that money as well. I also consider my work here, on my blog and site, as ‘unpaid’ work in that I enjoy it and I do it for others as well as myself. It is my ‘ladies' club work’ similar to committee and voluntary work a middle class homemaker would have fit into her schedule. Of course, this would have been unpaid work, as it is for me.
So, having been so long removed from that ‘work world’ where where does a specific task and then is given money, it was odd, really. Here, at the end of it, I find myself thinking of our 1940’s sisters. And, in fact, my own marriage would have happened during the war and so I most likely would have found myself in the working world while hubby was off defending the country. To many women, this was a much appreciated freedom. Yet to some, like me I think, it would be an unexpected one.
I love my homemaking. I find I have been my most fulfilled in this career and I have had many before this, so I do feel I have some form of comparison. Yet, having been ‘at home’ for the past two years, it suddenly felt quite real, as if I was an old time homemaker suddenly in a working environment. The comradery of the other women, for it was mostly women at this craft fair, the gossip and coffee in between sales. The chatting to complete strangers about your day and your wares and then receiving money from them and letting it stack up in your little envelope. It was, rather, thrilling really.
Now, here is what I found in my mini-experiment of two days: At first I rather thought, ‘hmmm, I could surely do this a bit more. The extra money would be lovely for sure.” Yet, by the end of yesterday I had found myself already planning out spending this as of yet un-earned money. Then hubby and I sat down and also figured out how much he had spent.
You see, though normally I am prepared with things ahead of time, the rush of candy making mixed with logo design, apron making and decals, preparing for the sale, it ate into my homemaking time. In two days of hubby having to get his own lunch at work and one breakfast out he spent half of his weekly cash allowance. I also ‘splurged’ and bought myself lunch as well, because I was too busy to bother once I got home and had to prepare for the next day.
You could see, how easily our modern lives get into that cycle. We must both work, so there is no specific chore set for anyone, so much of homemaking is left on the wayside. Both are tired and yet delusional that thinking two incomes are better than one, so both spend more on eating food bought and car fare and ‘treats’. I saw how easily, were I to take a job outside the home, I would need to really sit down and re-adjust my schedule so I could both do my homemaking and my outside work.
This lead to my next realization: Why did I instantly think it was my job to do both? I think many working women today find themselves more the homemaker than their hubby yet they make work just as much or even more than their hobby's outside the home? Why is this? Surely, after so many centuries of being the homemaker, when women were suddenly thrust into the work place during WWI and then WWII again, when the peace time came and some women continued to work, it just sort of happened. What is interesting to me is many women today write to me and tell me they are working women and they still do more than 90 % of the home and child care. In a way, what a raw deal for we ladies. Surely, we should be able to work in any thing we choose, I don’t want to give up women’s freedom, but have we taken on a new shackle of servitude by simply thinking, “Oh well, I guess I do the house things and work” without wondering why?
I still wonder, too, if many women who currently work could actually become a one income family (obviously one needs a partner for this of course). I recall one follower telling me she and her hubby lived a year with her working but not using any of her income for anything but savings to see if they could manage with just his salary. A very sound plan and a good way to ease one into a single salary lifestyle.
Now, back to our wartime sisters. Here they are, the little dears, content little homemakers, very little contact with the outside world save the grocers and shop keepers and other stay at home ladies. Suddenly they are thrust into an environment that really is much out of their control. I don’t care what anyone says about the cage or oppression of a Homemaker, we have almost total control over our days. WE decide when and how things get done. We might be the worker, but we are also the boss. So, to suddenly have an actual boss, and most likely a strange older man, telling us when and where to be and how to do something must have felt strange and odd. Also, the rush out of the house in the morning and the return in the evening exhausted.
I felt last night, after only two days out, how lovely it would have been to come home to my own homemaker, a warm meal, a smile and nice conversation. A clean home and no worries of the dishes. I certainly appreciated what I do EVEN more after just this weekend of working out and coming home to have to only ‘catch back up’.
Those women, then, with their new freedom of work and comradery amongst other ladies and men who were not their husbands or relatives, what an odd change it must have all been. To many, it was as freedom they were happy to keep. Some, I am sure, were unhappy to give it up after the war, but the men did deserve their jobs back, as they had literally risked their lives while away. But, I think there must have been some ladies who enjoyed their time out in the working world, but found their being at home again even more wonderful. The joy of again having control over one’s own day, the quiet and simple comforts of the home. And, really, the less chaotic home life as time spent with family was fun and not ‘rushing about to catch up all the time’. Certainly, one cannot argue that vanishing of a stay at home mother has really made home life completely different from once it once was. Many people may complain that their children won’t or couldn’t enjoy more time at home or more ‘family time’ but really, why should they? They have never really had it as they were growing up. Day care, school at earlier ages, play groups, sports and outside ‘classes’. All of these things make them busy little people who do need their own palm pilot to keep their schedules in order. To suddenly expect such busy little child ‘executives’ to be happy at home of a Sunday evening playing snakes and ladders after a crazy week of day care, video games at friends, trips and classes and I don’t know what, is probably not realistic.
Now, I am not saying this is good or bad. It is simply different. The very nature of the nuclear family has changed greatly since the 1950’s. Yet, even that was a new thing at the time. Before the War, many families still lived in the ‘old way’ in which extended family, such as grandparents, married couples and their children and unmarried aunt’s, uncles, or cousins would often make up a household had suddenly stopped. The new increase in money and building allowed the nuclear family we associate with the mid century to be born. Yet, it seemed short lived. Now, we have the same make up of parents and children, but much more time is spent outside the home. We moved further and further from the supportive concept of relatives to just  a parent group and now even that parent group is outdated and children are often more raised by others and machines. What is the next step, I wonder?
I think what is sad about the loss of the old pre 1950’s system was how much more economical and good it was all round. Surely relatives got on one another’s nerves all living together, but Grandma and Grandpa felt needed and helped raised the grandchildren (no day care costs and no wonder as to how the children are being raised) This also was nice for the elderly as opposed to simply living in old people facilities we have today. We just, for whatever reason, have become more and more separated from one another since the post WWII days. It is rather sad, really.
So, I found myself tempted by the outside ‘working world’. I began tallying up my ‘earnings’ before I received them and soon was planning away my days further away from my hubby and my home. It happens so quickly and so easily. Yet, back at home, catching back up from this weekend, putting my home to rights and sitting here in my little sitting room, makes me realize for me at least, Home is where my heart AND my work is. While I may still do a craft fair here and there to sell some candy and take orders, it will be pin-money only work. I will squirrel it away for a rainy day and be happy for it. But, I don’t think I could go back to the old rhythms of my life. The flow and structure of homemaking these past two years have become far too interesting and rewarding to me to find myself on the rocks lulled by the Siren song of the workplace. I gladly put on my apron and return to the kitchen, for to me it is a choice and one I cherish and am thankful for having the choice to make.
I do recommend, though, to any of you who could try it or would like to have a go at it with some ‘talking into’ with your hubby, it is worth a go. You may, at least, find yourself even happier to work outside the home again, not wanting to be a drudge at home. Or, you might find yourself blossoming and finding all theses skills and abilities you’d never thought you had appearing like buds in a Spring garden.
Well, back to my own home and have a lovely day. Happy Homemaking.

Friday, November 12, 2010

12 November 1956 “Busy Gal”

womanwdishes You simply can’t imagine the number of dishes and kitchen to-doing there is when one is knee deep in peanut brittle, toffee, Jams, and sticker making. Well, most likely you can, especially you mother’s who are probably constantly at war with dishes and mess piling up. But, even an organized (well more so than two years ago) 50’s gal can get a little behind.

I have been busily making candies and jam for a sale this weekend I am doing with a friend. It is hardly an excuse to not do a proper blog post, but there it is. Wish me luck on my sale and have a good Saturday, I shall return Sunday Evening with a Q & A or maybe just a good gossip about the sale.

Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

11 November 1956 “I Want Candy”

S101858 Candy in the 1950’s, and earlier, was often a treat to a child. The level to which sugar is available to children today was only just beginning in the mid 1950’s.
After war-time rationing of sugar, candy (with many other products) had a boom. And a new market: The child themselves. While mummy and Granny may recall tootsie rolls and penny candytootsierollad  amid jars of candy sticks and penny candy, it was a sometimes treat. By 1950’s this same treat was made much more appealing to its target audience.
The bright shiny plastic world of children's candy really started in this decade.
santapexbox  pezrobot Here are the first pez, introduced in 1955. They featured a full bodied robot or Santa.santapez
And not only were candies more exciting and placed for children’s reach in stores, they also began to be specifically marketed to them. From 1949 –1952 Snickers was the sponsor of the Howdy Doody show. Other candy was also advertised at this time. What is interesting is how commercials once began in the late 40’s early 50’s, as part of the programming rather than a separate commercial break, is what many advertisers are now going back to. Here is Howdy and friends extolling the wonderment of the Three musketeers bar
Soon sugar, er that is, Candy began sprining up in all sorts of places. Sure, one could have a coke, but they could be expensive, but if you wanted that sugar rush in a glass, why not get mummy to buy Fizzies!fizzies These would be introduced next year, 1957. Made by the bromo company, that used to offer ‘upset stomach relief’ now they were a kids treat.
And, to be more adult, one had candy cigarettes.candycigarettes Even I recall these as a child in the late 70’s. I remember there were both candy and gum cigarettes. We always preferred the gum variety, as they were coated in powdered sugar under the paper wrapper, and one could blow out and it was like a puff of smoke. Of course, the gum’s flavor suffered for its sugar loss, but we didn’t care. It was fun to play ‘movie star’ and be glamorous. This, however, never made me want to smoke in real life. I have, on occasion, smoked filter less cigarettes for fun, but never more than possibly three individual cigarettes in one month, so I think I could safely say I was not addicted.
Candy even influenced our music. Candy Floss by British Terry Dene. Though somewhat lost on US audiences, as we call it “Cotton Candy”, at least we did in the 1950’s.
And the lovely Chordettes with Lollipop
Now, while searching for the Chordettes version of Lollipop, I found this modern version of a song called lollipop by Lil Wayne. I just put the link as you can decide if you want to watch it. HERE IT IS. I suggest, if you watch it, be cautious of your children in the room. It isn’t as racy as some, but what is amazing to me is the blatant objectification of women. What really burns me is how so many will go on and on about how women were ‘so oppressed’ in the 1950’s and yet feel fine that their teenage sons and daughters watch a rapper as he shows his great wealth. Why look at all he owns, many diamonds (which always surprises me when you consider the amount of young African children who literally die to mine them) big cars and, of course, tons of women, just for him. What a great message for our daughters, you value is in your looks, the amount of possessions you can get from your man. I would put Gentleman Prefer Blondes up against this any day, at least that has a cute moral ending. 
I honestly feel for the current and coming generations. I wish they could have the innocence and the beauty of the old days. Some may think having a door held for one is oppression, I think it good manners. And having a date feel the need to dress up and take you dancing, dancing where you can talk and where beautiful gowns,not bumping and grinding in a loud club that is so boring one needs overt amounts of alcohol and drugs to deal with it.
It might not seem cool now, but I know a girl would love to be treated like that. Why do you think the Disney Princess and the Vampire novels where the young man has ‘old fashioned ways’ and can’t actually do anything to you are so popular? Girls miss romance, but don’t realize it because there is no romance left in the world. They can’t really see it but somehow feel it missing. And the ‘romance’ of modern ‘chick flicks’ are often false tales of some ‘bad boy’ or someone who just happens to ‘turn himself around’. When, really, there are plenty of actual gentlemen in the world that girls could consider right off, but they may not be ‘cool’.
With good manners and consideration, women have lost their place of courteousness in men’s eyes. It is good that we can be seen to be equal in the work place, let’s not go away with that, but this subtle woman as object or something to be conquered attitude that silently permeates our society is rather scary, I think. I don’t know how I would feel if I had a teenage daughter, rather worried I would think.
I promised myself to try and stop the comparison of then and now and continue to focus on only the good of the old days, but in a way, its the good I find that makes the bad today seem so wretched. And somehow it all seems so propagated by a few simply to make money and keep us wanting more. But, I digress…
My point to mention candy today was to do a two or three part post in which I talk about candy making. Something I am now doing, to sell at a local fair with a friend. So, all of that to get to some fun candy recipes tomorrow. My mind does go off on tangents!
Well, tomorrow I will share some recipes and fun images of candy making. Get your candy thermometers out ladies and gents…
Happy Homemaking.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

9 November 1956 “Early American and Realizations”

earlyamericanglass I came across this advertisement for Big Top Peanut butter and thought it fun to share. As you can see it comes in a reusable glass. Such promotions as these were becoming common in the 1950’s as it would encourage you to buy their brand, as you intended to collect up the glasses. I rather liked it because it describes the Sherbets and Goblets in the ‘Early American’ design.
I have spoken of this little known movement before. While many think 1950’s was all Eames chairs and wall to wall carpeting, the movement and look towards ‘Early America’ or Colonial was happening. Though, in true 1950’s fashion, they were not trying to fool you into thinking they had actual antiques, but rather pieces inspired by the early days.
earlyamericanimage3This dining room set is an example of this. It is certainly Early American, even by the definition of the description in the magazine. Yet, the piece is obviously modern and look at the clever ‘pass through’ from the kitchen that appears to be part of the hutch. Those chairs, many people propbably recall, as they lasted well into 1970’s design.
I have been becoming increasingly partial to this mid-century movement, as my own house, which is in fact actual Early American, that is built in the American Colonial Days, is quite happy with these pieces.
earlyamericanimage5This is a great shot of a lovely hall in Colonial/Early American. Here they show the wallpaper is meant to appear antique and certainly the grandfather clock is old. Yet the little hall piece with the ivy could be Drexel Heritage. The wood floors and rag rug show that it wasn’t all orange shag carpet and plastic floors back then.
 earlyamericanimage4Though even in a more modern kitchen such as this you see the Early American influence. This wallpaper, which is quite bold and graphic, is Early American in its scene. The old wood cook stove and the vignette of the ‘early days’ becomes modern in its use of color, scale, and how it is placed on the feature wall in this bright modern kitchen.
I love that about the movement: that is didn’t take itself too seriously. I think in modern design there can be a bit too much seriousness. I mean, we are meant to live in and enjoy our homes. I like a formal/colonial style, but I will have an old bust on my mantle wearing one of my vintage hats or a strand of old shell bead necklaces that were once in a keepsake box of an old relative. I think the introduction of the personal with style and humor is really important. I think that is also important in life as well.
I think in some aspects I was beginning to lose that this past year. My realization as time went on to how our country has changed and in what way it has changed has hardened me in a way. It sort of took my humor and made me a bit dour and sad. I couldn’t really help it, as I felt almost lied to by our country from what we once had and could have made into what sad state of affairs we have got. Yet, I am one little sad voice in a sea of much more powerful voices, so I think I have sort of come from those ashes, phoenix style, ready to just be happy again.
I cannot change the world. I have only just, in the past two years, learned how to change myself for the better. So, I had better stick to that and be happy in it. Be content in my little house, puttering about my garden and messing about with my chickens. Enjoying my further research and study into the past. Sometimes we need a break from our ideas before they become so heavy we can move for them.
I hope you enjoy the Early American style. I do have a Flickr Group dedicated to trying to gather these images together if you would like a look or to join. I shall add these images to it as well.
I hope all are having a lovely day and Happy Homemaking. Now, I am off to make candy. I have promised a friend to do a craft/food fair with her this weekend and there is brittle and toffee to be made. I will share recipes and pictures after it has happened.
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