Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10 April 1933 “A Long Think, Changing Times 1912-2012, a New Goal, and some Rice Pudding”

I have been away from the computer for one week now. It was in some part due to out of town guests and messing about in my garden. But, mainly, it was my own little escape from it all. To contemplate and decide and consider.

Since 1955, my journey began innocently enough. I discovered fun cooking ways, learned a lifetime’s worth of homemaking and adult responsibility. And along the way the politics and history of our country and the world simply unfolded with it all. I would casually stumble upon a story or an old recording concerning things I would not have considered pertinent to the time. Only to find out that they were discussed and concerned with, but simply we were left to believe one washed over idea of what the 1950’s was. All poodle skirts, steak, butter and martinis. That Eisenhower was a hard and fast Capitalist loving flag waver. Then, as I watched his farewell speech and saw the fear and sadness in his eyes as he warned the country of the “Military Industrial Complex” I saw a glimmer of what was happening.

Now, in 1933, there is no TV nor even half the magazines and advertising available to distract one. The concept today of everyone selling apples in the street and riding out of dustbowl farms is what we are sold. The Grapes of Wrath version of the Depression. Yet, there is much going on here that today would also look odd to what we think America used to be.

Here protestors march for the rights of the increased wages they were already getting in the auto industry and growing industries with the majority of American’s behind them. The banks are seen as predators causing a crash that affects all but made a few rich. There is a solidarity of people behind the marching soldiers of WWI looking to get their promised money for fighting early to feed their children and families while a few American’s continue luxurious living in the depth of a Depression.

There is no squawking box telling us it is all fine and that unemployment is getting better. When in the 1930’s the way they counted unemployment included those who have been out of work for awhile and those only taking part time lower paying jobs. Today the numbers seem to be cooked, but we are easily distracted by the latest iPhone ap or new version of Angry Birds and the accompanying stuffed toys or key chains we have to have.

100 years ago today, 10 April 1912, many passengers boarded the HMS Titanic. The world in 1912 and before will soon become like an imagined dream when 1913 rolls in. Down with that ship, in its very representative way of the end of the age of Decadence, also went three very powerful men who opposed a new way of banking. Guggenheim, Isador Strauss, and John Jacob Astor were all three quite powerful men. They were currently opposing this new concept of the Federal Reserve Bank which had been planned since 1910. How much more symbolic, then, is it that with the sinking of that majestic ship, not only did the Golden Age die, but the hope against the changes which to this day are still affecting our economy were begun. The fates were against us then.

In 1913 we shall have the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank, which to this day prints our money and yet is simply a privately owned bank run by but a few people. And we will soon be into the Great War, the war to end all wars, and the world will never be the same again. Income Taxes, property taxes, taxes that affect the smaller business were all to begin now. Inflation of the new dollar (printed by the Federal Reserve), drafts, these were now to be ushered in. Drastic changes in Farming and buying up and destroying of the new public rail systems that made getting about cheaper and available to all. The electric car pushed out and the internal combustion engine pushed in. Oil and Gas and Greed were now to drive our New Society.

So, with all the realities and bad luck of the past weighing ever heavier on me, it has been hard to even approach the computer. The idea of writing or even the love of it was like a bad taste in my mouth.

But, one must move forward. I am but a simple little person in a vast and heavily controlled world. I needed the time to really consider my future and my own desires. I have come to see that to simply continue on in 1933 is too painful for me. It might sound rather silly, but in all honesty the more I uncover about the simple facts of history from just this year alone, the more I become disillusioned.

My joy in sticking to one year and really focusing on that has been a good project. I am forever changed because of that both good and bad. I am glad to have done it but now feel I need to focus on the good. I don’t want to seem to be ignoring the sad plight of our current world, but I also no longer have the energy to try and defend simple facts that I find. We are all going to believe what it is we need to believe, it seems, so to that I am done.

I love the past. I find much in the modern world that is hard to fathom or to even wish to embrace. So now my continued project for this year is to make as much of the past still a part of my life. And to take what is out there now, in the modern world, that is really bits and bobs of the old ways. Even in my clothing I want to see what modern ‘fashions’ really just recall the past and see that one can dress ‘modern’ in a very historical way. Cooking and keeping the home still, to me, seem easier with the old ways. And in that I shall continue but perhaps try and see the best modern ways to bring it all in. I realize not everyone has the time or facilities to find and get old antique things, so maybe trying to make a more accessible version of the old days with simple new day things will make it nicer for my readers, those that stick around of course.

And, I really miss art. I miss the joy of drawing and painting and I think the positive and good things the past has shown me can be put to use that way. And that sharing recipes, gardening, sewing and home keeping in general was always of more interest to all of you.

I suppose I want to see if I can sort of live in a timelessness with pulling towards me all the good bits from the past. I can reference the past, news as well, but from anytime to share with you. And maybe even each post will be labeled with a date to give you a nod to what I will be talking about that day.

maxidress1 Fashion today, though mainly jeans and T’s, can actually have some historical vintage reality. Things, such as the Maxi Dress, are readily available and actually rather simple to make. One can see the similarity here from 1912 to 2012.

valentino Valentino Spring 2012 holds a lovely ladylike influence of the 1912 lace gown.

jodphurs The 1890’s cycling bloomers and the 1930’s pattern for the jodhpurs are happily trotting down the Ralph Lauren runway for fall/winter 2013. The hats are also very late 20’s early 1930’s.

dior2012 There are endless examples, as well, of very 1950’s looking dresses today, including these 2012 Dior dresses. The top on the far right would be adorable in cotton over pedal pushers in summer. The outside stitching detail on the black suit top would also be an easy to make and wearable top with any simple skirt or trousers.

 I think this past week has left me thinking on 1912 and earlier. Really finding how much the modern world began after that year has left me yearning for the long dresses and sweeping majesty of fashion then. I find I want to design my own daily clothes. I am sewing my fashions, so why not take the chance to build and create my dresses how I like them to be? A 1912 length in a 1950s fabric with a 1930s hat. Why not? I do know that dressing nicely has become a part of me and even simple walks or biking still feels more important when I am dressed for it. Rather it will be a summery dress and hat, like last year, or in the cooler weather jodhpurs, wool jacket and tie, it will not be jeans and trainers/tennis shoes for me. The small things we can control in our daily lives, like what we wear, can make our lives feel special and the moment fine. Our homes, our food, our selves, these can be the vintage haven of “good ole’ days” and an escape we can take with us about our day.

ricepudding1 I love the texture and creaminess of rice pudding. It is easy to make and so good cold or served warm with warmed cream. I used the following recipe, which was similar to an older money saving version I found. ricepudding2 I added cinnamon to mine and served it with warmed cream. This packs nicely in lunches and for picnics as well.

  • 3/4 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; stir rice into boiling water. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In a clean saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg, and raisins; cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

I hope all had a lovely Easter holiday and are enjoying the coming Spring. How do any of you feel about trying on new versions of the old ways as a normal part of your daily life? If it was more accessible or easy to incorporate step by step, would you like such a change? Do you think my wanting to float through the past and to incorporate various decades into my life and blog would be interesting?


  1. This is great. I love the past, too. These days with our media, you don't know what to believe.

  2. A very thoughtful post. I think that given your way with words and charming images that whatever you do will be worth coming by to see and enjoy!

  3. I found your blog a while back and have been reading your current posts and I'm half way through your 1955 year. What you do is amazing and so thoughtful. It has given me much to ponder. Since I'm not at home most days (I wish I could be!), I was considering doing something similar to your post. Take the best of today, but consider the implications of new things/gadgets/etc before bringing them into my life. They all seem to take(waste) more time than they save. And to look to the past for skills and reference. Your blog is so helpful with that.

    You have much courage to lay out your thoughts before all of us. And you reply with such decorum and consideration of all views. I look forward to your posts on a vintage inspired life.


  4. Can you tell me where you did a lot of your research or what your starting point was? I'm going to miss this so I was hoping for some tips so I can find it on my own.

  5. I don't remember how I first came to visit your blog, but I ended up going back and reading every single post. I enjoy reading about your interests - cooking, sewing, chickens, gardening - as much as the historical information. So as far as I'm concerned, I just hope you keep posting so I can keep reading. :)


  6. I read your blog regularly but don't think I've commented too often but I want to say that I really enjoy your blog and have learned so much from it...no matter what year or decade you are posting about.

    I also enjoy the past and history especially how it applies to the home and homemaker. I love the idea of "floating" into different years and applying them to modern life. I would enjoy learning how you or others would do this so yes, please keep blogging!!

    Thank you

  7. Good for you discovering what wasn't working for you and making the change. Many years ago I started studying WWII and had to stop because I was having terrible nightmares. The eerie similarities between the time you chose and today would be a bit much for me to live in as well.

    Have fun with your new approach!

  8. I will readily admit I will miss the deep study aspect of your posts. I have learned so much and was hoping to keep this learning going for this group of years. But, ...this is not my blog but yours and what you choose to print is your own choice. Therefore I will come back to read no matter what direction you want to go. I have no doubt your posts will be thought provoking and good no matter what the subject. You need to be true to yourself and respect what you think is right for you to do. Thank you for writing as much as you did. There must have been so very many hours of research and deciding how to put it all together. I learned so much from you. If you ever decide to write a book let us all know!! :) Sarah

  9. Many people borrow what they like from the past without feeling the need to overanalyze it. It's your blog, and you don't need anyone's permission to change it. I am glad to see you leave behind the dull slogging through timelines, and not just because I frequently see holes in your scholarship, but because you've been sounding so terribly depressed lately and unhappy about what you were doing. Sometimes you've just got to walk away and do something you enjoy, especially given the housing and economic stresses of which you so often complain.

    1. I must update to say that I am happy you moved on to something/a time period/a project approach you got more joy from after the 1933 experiment. Your website is quite fun and clearly you put much work and love into it. Please excuse my "purist" scholarship remark, and I hope you do have fun with your research and writing.

  10. I love you writing and look forward to whatever you write about!

  11. I wish you would continue to blog about the federal reserve and other corrupt goings on. It's your blog of course, just making my preference known. Don't be afraid of the truth, Donna. Don't let it get you down.

  12. I love reading your posts and what information you have found. While reading in the last couple of months it came through your words that this time was hard for you. Will forward to any and all time periods and ideas you have and the designs of your clothing!

  13. i'm a longtime reader, and while i have enjoyed all of your endeavors, i am not a "purist" in the vintage arena either. i have always , due to lack of funds, inconvenience, and need for sturdiness, bought new "vintage appropriate" clothing and many household items as well. i enjoy history very much, but understand the need to step back. so all that to say, i understand, and i walk your path. you have my support.

  14. The Austrian Economics MomApril 10, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    In reading your most recent posts, I've definitely sensed this coming, as you've sounded like you were being emotionally overwhelmed and swallowed up by the reality of the time period. It's a feeling I know well, and haven't really learned to throw off without stepping back (as you did with your week of gardening, guests, and computer avoidance) and gradually letting the mental and emotional spinning stop. It's an uncomfortable and rather confusing process for me, one that definitely forces me to take a breather from the history books once in a while.

    I really enjoy reading your blog posts (from any era), and look forward to those to come...whenever it feels right to you. And I think you're on the right track with finding all the best things history has to offer, and carrying the ones you find meaningful into the present, your life can be the amalgamation of the best of multiple eras. After all, there are gems in just about every decade!

  15. Again I say – do what is best for you! You might live in the fifties, but make do and mend WWII style, and wear thirties shoes and hats (because they’re pretty and comfy). It is your choice and you should do what makes you happy. I live vintage styled, and have done so for many years without even thinking about it. But when I read vintage blogs, like yours, I can see how vintage styled my life is. I love the fifties, but not the home décor style, so I avoid that. I am frugal, I mend and repair and paint everything, which is very forties. I love thrifting and flea markets. And I love your writing, so I will follow you what ever you decide to do. And I don’t think you ought to have a “project” – you can just live your life like you want it to be.

  16. Miss Donna:
    Greetings! In my opinion you need to do as you choose. I am very grateful for the time and energy you have put into your blog and for sharing it with us. I do enjoy your 50's post and will be reading them again in your past posts sections. I would like to see more post during the 50's, but that is only my personal preferece. No matter what you do, I will continue reading and enjoying your blog. One thing I do like about your post today is that incorporating "today" with "history" you do prove that not everything modern is bad and depressing. I had commented to one lady that manners are alive and well where I live and people are kind and thoughtful still today. Not everyone is ill-mannered and rude. I think people need to be reminded of that. There are good things about this time period too.
    PS: I have gone to your diet and health section at the top of your page and it does not bring any posts up, only "error". That is the section I like most and check on that catagory from time to time to see if it works. But, alas, it seems to be unworking. Thank you again for your time.

    Have a great day!


    Mrs. B

  17. As a both a history "nerd" and someone who strives to live as simply as possible with two techno teens, I love your writing! So thought provoking. I am enjoying the trip through time and the parallels to today, but could sense you...maybe being conflicted about it as well. Do what you need to do to feel balanced in your life. I look forward to reading whatever you write in the future, and hopefully there may still be a history flare to it as well. I am going back and reading your old posts, and enjoying them too.

    There is good and bad in any time period--people are people, and that hasn't changed much over time.

  18. This was a great post! I do a lot of history research myself and often feel the same way...that time period can be difficult to read through because you do start seeing how we ended up where we are today. There is a lot of number 'cooking', etc these days, however there was much corruption in the past as well. With technology and a global economy, however, the implications of corruption are much farther reaching than before. Sometimes I find it hard to sit down and blog when there is so much I want to say but at the same time get tired of trying to explain things...Sorry to see you leave the 30's, but you need to do what's right for you!

  19. I haven't taken the time to read the posts in response to your entry. I just want to thank you for your blog. What I've read of it when I can, I really enjoy. I think it's been a fascinating exercise and I've learned a lot right along with you. I haven't read near as much as I would like...but I can feel the time passing and all the things sitting there waiting to get done and I can't afford to use my time this way for now. Plus, your posts always inspire me to get off my backside and become more inventive, creative and grateful! Thank you!

  20. Thank you so kindly for all your lovely comments. Rest assured my blog will still be heavily history based. I just felt almost defensive and sometimes as if I was not focusing enough on good as well. But, there is so much in 1933 that I felt I needed to do it all justice and then there were not enough posts to talk about cooking etc.
    I think now I will be more of a 'Time Hopper' so that each post will deal with what time I am dealing with or referencing that day. A 1955 day, a, 1890 day, a 1930 day, that sort of thing. I just need a break from the endless following of the one year. The 1950's compared to the 1930's was like a cream puff compared to a 10 course meal! In other words, it is heavy and rife with so much important political information. So, history is still the focus of my life. And vintage living still my daily life 'goal'.
    What wonderful followers I have and I appreciate you all so much, thank you again. What darlings you all are, even those of you who think me crazy but still stick around to see just 'how crazy' I might be that day.

  21. Dear 50sgal, I'm glad you have gone away from such a difficult period: when I read the first new year's post I thought "poor dear, with all times available did she choose really 1933?!" it is a very hard time to emulate, if you look to the official history; of course, if it is only a question of vintage lifestyle it is a totally different affair... However, it was not so terrible everywhere: for example I'm studying the period soon before WWII when Italy decided to produce every sort of things on its own without looking for supplies on foreign trade, and in spite of dictatorship those years were an explosion of science and creativity, and a good lesson for today. We're all looking forward to see your original joy again, so much for all that series of calamities that - thank goodness - are definitely GONE!

  22. I join my fellow posters in encouraging you to continue writing, because your blogs are so thought-provoking and have led many of us to seek out different truths for ourselves. I have gained so much from your writings and look forward to each posting. But after all, if this year is no longer "fun" for you, you mustn't feel bound to it. I am still enjoying your 50's blogs and there is so much to each one of them that I can be re-reading them for a long time and still glean much about gardening, recipes, decorating and films. Even this year's posts so far had me digging through my old housekeeping books from my grandmother. Thanks for all your hard work... it is appreciated by more people than you realize -- there are lots of us "lurkers" out here! I'll read whatever you write!

  23. I look forward to whatever years inspire your content. This blog has been one of my favorites for a few years now and I reference it often. Keep up the good work and best of luck with selling your home :)

  24. I love your posts so much and I'm looking forward to what you do! I just don't want you to quit! I loved your 50's posts, and you seemed to really be ENJOYING what you were doing. I know I "lurk" too but I would really, really hate to see the little community "go away."

    I've been reading the forum, but either I'm not looking in the right place, or have people not been posting much? I hope it's me and not the latter.

    Just know dear that you inspire a lot of us.


  25. You should do what makes you happy. That will show in your writing. I was the one who suggested the "time hopping" approach when you polled to see what era you should write about next. I still think it is an excellent idea. Each time gives us something to learn from. I would like to see more of the homemaking approach overall - homemakers have lost so many skills and we can relearn them by looking back. I like it when you feature recipes, patterns, etc. from any era in the past and it is interesting when you compare fashions from different times. I tend to lose interest in homemaking blogs that focus on just one element of homemaking, like just cooking or just sewing.

    I think it is like reading books...you can enjoy a book from another time, but the next book can be from a different time and still be excellent. Each has something to offer. Your blog can be that way, like chapters in books from different times. I don't know how to phrase that better so I hope you understand what I am trying to get at.


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