Monday, December 29, 2008

Are Scrubs The New Apron?

I was reading Slip's post about how fashionable scrubs are now and it got me thinking... Maybe scrubs are the new aprons.

I know you vintage lovers are groaning -- but hear me out!

Scrubs do all the same things aprons do:

Being properly clad makes one feel dedicated to, prepared for, & protected from the job.

Looking & feeling nice makes any job more enjoyable too.

Not only that, being able to change out of those work clothes helps one leave the job -- even if they don't leave the work site when they are done with their shift (as if it's ever really done!)
With scrubs as low as $9.99 a piece (or even just $7.99 each when you buy 3 or more) at Scrubs and Beyond, what could be more practical and comfortable for cleaning around the house?

Don't worry about size issues either; they have tall scrubs, petite scrubs and plus size scrubs.

I'll admit, I bought a Cherokee scrub top at a thrift store for one of our furniture refinishing jobs and wished I that I had grabbed more of them because they were the perfect lightweight clothing for heavyweight work. And so easy to care for.

You vintage living folks don't need to feel like you're abandoning your pretty aprons; you can still wear an apron over your scrubs, or simply -- and literally -- save your best aprons from the heavy work and wear them only when doing light cleaning &/or entertaining.

But, if you're seeing the merit of scrubs as a very practical & comfortable way to dress while housekeeping (and isn't that the very essence of home economics?), then you might want to consider some of the more fashionable medical scrubs designs.

The cargo style Cherokee scrub pants are stylish -- and practical too with those pockets. I might have to rethink my butt in them...

But then again, in black with the FX wide placket scrub top (also in black) by Landau medical scrubs how much more chic could I look in the kitchen? Seriously.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How To Organize Spools Of Thread

A tip sent in by a reader of the The Modern Priscilla magazine (1921) on how to organize threads with a homemade sewing room wall hanging with pockets:

Advice From Grandma: Don't Waste Your Gift Cards

Christine Frietchen of was on CBS talking about gift cards with Harry Smith. She said, among other things, that 25% of gift cards from 2007 haven't been used yet. It's a bad idea to wait so long to use gift cards -- along with the possibility of the cards expiring, approximately $100 million worth of gift card money has been lost to store closings in 2008, and with the recession, it's likely to get worse. Frietchen has other gift card tips:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tips For Cleaning Pots & Pans

In the same issue of Modern Woman magazine (Vol 14, No 5, 1945), tips on cleaning kettles and pans.

First, using an onion to clean badly burned aluminum pans. (I believe it would be the natural acid in onions which would help with the cleaning.)

Second, to rid your cookware of the onion odor (and fish odors), add a tablespoon of vinegar to hot watter.

Things To Do With Cookie Cutters #3

Also in that first issue of Good Housekeeping Needlecraft magazine (Fall-Winter, 1968-1969), clay medallions to hang on the wall. They could also be made into wind chimes.

You can use cookie cutters to make the shapes in rolled-out clay, and cut-out details such as eyes & designs. Remember to cut holes in the top to hang the finished medallions with yarn or twine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Re-gifting Down? Not For Fruitcake.

Online selling of unwanted gifts is up; so says survey paid for by eBay. But fruitcake remains re-gifted.

The most popular items adults who took the survey said they would re-gift include wine, champagne or spirits (21 percent); trinkets or collectibles (21 percent); beauty or bath products (21 percent); DVDs, CDs or books (16 percent); electronics/appliances (14 percent); and fruitcake (14 percent).

The most popular items adults resell online include personal electronics (12 percent); DVDs, CDs or books (11 percent); home technology (10 percent); event tickets (10 percent); trinkets or collectibles (8 percent); and sporting or fitness equipment (6 percent).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Use Bouilon For More Gravy

A tip on getting gravy to spread further, from Modern Woman magazine, Vol 14, No 5, 1945.

Quick Bargain/Thrift Post

You can be a lazy bookseller and let Powell's buy your used books from you online -- they'll even pay for the shipping. Note: they pay for books at wholesale price-not retail, and with store credit, not cash; but that's still something for books you no longer want cluttering up the place.

A Slip of a Girl has lots of contests this week -- go get some free stuff.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things To Do With Cookie Cutters #7 (Felt Ornaments)

I collect cookie cutters, and am always looking for ways to put them to good use -- when I'm not baking. Because most of my cookie cutters are vintage, I'm still protective of them and are not interested in altering or damaging them; yet their simple & charming shapes seem to beckon to be put to use more often then just to make sweet treats.

Because their shapes are recognizable and pleasing to children -- with styles and objects to appeal to both boys and girls -- and because they are also relatively simple shapes, I've long been thinking that cookie cutters would make great templates for simple crafts for kids.

Saturday, I put it to the test with Destiny, my 12 year old making felt ornaments.

Here's her felt rabbit made from a vintage tin rabbit cookie cutter:

The project is simple:

Trace the cookie cutter onto felt with a pen -- twice.

(Note: If using patterned felt, you'll need to cut out one piece, then flip it over and trace it onto the patterned felt; otherwise they pieces won't both be patterned on the 'outside'.)

Cut out the shapes.

Match up the shapes, then sew them together with embroidery floss using the whip stitch. Start stitching between the two layers of felt, hiding the knot; and stop before stitching all the way around, leaving an opening for the stuffing. (The whip stitch was a new stitch for Destiny -- but she picked it up really fast!)

Stuff with cotton balls (as well as felt scraps from cutting & trimming and left over bits of thread).

Finish sewing & then decorate. Children can make the eyes & other details by sewing on other bits of felt, using knots &/or other sewing stitches, or gluing on 'google eyes', pipe cleaners, and whatever other crafty bits you have around the house.

Destiny had so much fun, she kept making more of them -- for 4 hours. And she plans to continue to make more during the week for gifts for family this holiday. (Rather amazing as I had great trouble getting her to finish her latch-hook rug. I think the fact that one of these ornaments can be completed comparatively fast, giving her a sense of satisfaction quickly.)

Other ideas: These do not need to only be Christmas tree ornaments. They can be shade pulls, key rings, jacket pulls, cellphone &/or purse decorations -- and if made with just one piece of felt, glued onto magnets & used to hold up notes and more kids' art on the refrigerator.

It's inexpensive too. Felt pieces are (currently at Hobby Lobby) 5 pieces for $1 for solid colors and 2 for $1 for patterned pieces; embroidery floss runs between $1-$2. Everything else (scissors, cotton balls, needle etc.) can be found in the home.

It's a great simple and inexpensive way to keep children busy when home for the holiday vacation from school.

Heat & Moisture-Proof Table Tops

Another tip from How To Protect & Preserve America's Homes (Moore's Handy Index Book); this one one how to refinish a wooden table top so that it is heat and water proof.

(I personally get a kick out of using a brick as a buffer because hubby collects bricks.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Burnt Almonds Recipe

An old recipe for burnt almonds from The Book Of Knowledge, circa 1910.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advice From Grandma: Don't Wish Your Life Away

Grandma always used to say, "Don't wish your life away." That was her response anytime I said, "I wish Christmas was here already," or, "I wish I was 16," or some other childhood wish where I wanted to flash forward in time to some event I was anticipating with excitement. This week I've found myself not only repeating Grandma's words to my excited children, but to other women too.

Adults find the holidays far from relaxing. There's so much to do before we can find ourselves happily taking snapshots of their kids opening presents -- and eating fabulous holiday meals. But we shouldn't wish our lives away; even these busy days are blessings.

If you need a little extra help this year dealing with the stress, check out The Joy Project, a free December life coach series from Malena Lott, author and owner of the ATHENA Institute. The Joy Project includes weekly Monday blog posts and Thursday videos on how to achieve more joy, peace and love this season -- and less stress and grief.

Most of Lott's pointers are simple and you could say down-right obvious; but then we all need those little reminders to keep things simple and our lives focused on what really matters. Otherwise, we end up wishing our lives away.

High-Five Fridays (An Especially Crafty Collection)

High-Five Fridays are a way of highlighting links (posts, blogs/sites, people) that you liked during the week.

1) Myra is starting Free Pattern Friday again (where she gives away actual vintage paper patterns), so keep a look-out!

2) Speaking of free patterns, I've got the instructions for knitting a retro pair of Martians posted here.

3) Make beautiful ice wreaths -- really simple, really pretty.

4) If you're into larger projects, here are how-to videos for making clean burning, energy efficient, smokeless heating from wood and water. The maker claims he "heats two greenhouses, a large 3 car garage and a 3000+ sq ft home on about $11 a month and still doesn’t freeze his butt off." Wowza.

5) Grandma always taught me not to play with my food, but I guess this grandma found herself with more potatoes than toys...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crochet A Cape & Skirt Set

Also in that first issue of Good Housekeeping Needlecraft magazine (Fall-Winter, 1968-1969), this crocheted cape and skirt set.

What I love about this set is that it's a lovely bridge between the New Look fashions and mod swinging styles. It's classic and rather iconic vintage without looking "frumpy" or "too futuristic" -- everything a vintage fashion ensemble (and wardrobe building pieces) should be.

Below are the instructions for this pretty set, made with the afghan stitch. (As always, click the images for larger, easier-to-read scans.)

How To Flatten Bulges In Linoleum

How to repair those annoying bulges in linoleum flooring which could trip you up; found in How To Protect & Preserve America's Homes (Moore's Handy Index Book). (Please note, linoleum is not the same as vinyl flooring; judge accordingly).

Sweeter Pies From Crumbs

A tip (sent in by a reader to The Modern Priscilla magazine in 1921) on how to put cake crumbs to good use when making pies:

Lessons In Home Ec History: Affordable & Healthy Meals with Milkorno

Megan J. Elias, historian and author of Stir It Up: Home Economics in American Culture, has a cool post over at her publisher's blog titled: A Depression Era Recipe for Today's Troubled Consumer:

A century ago, a movement arose in America to give ordinary people the kind of power over their everyday lives that they now seem to have surrendered to marketing firms. Biologists and chemists joined sociologists, psychologists, and economists to look at the humdrum of family budgets, daily meals, and intergenerational relations. They sought to understand the connections between all the little things that make up the domestic sphere and the wider world.
What the author is speaking of, of course, is home economics.
Thanks to the home economics movement, rural homemakers learned to make low-cost improvements to their houses. Schoolchildren went on field trips to supermarkets to see what a dollar could buy. In government laboratories researchers worked out the "irreducibles" of the human diet. At every turn, home economists exhorted their audience to make the most out of the least. Buy cheap cuts of meat; use all your leftovers; maximize space in the house you already live in; remake last winter's coat into jackets for the kids; find entertainment and happiness at home.
That was until the 1920's, when prosperity came along. Consumer goods production increased, credit was extended, and advertising propelled citizens into buying goods and credit -- the average citizen who once may have found home economics helpful, now eschewed the need for such work. Ah, but then the Great Depression struck.

Home economists, likely with a tsk-tsk, once again took on the challenges:
They sprang into action, working through public relief agencies to teach the nearly lost arts of canning and mending and to remind families under severe stress how to work together. For the desperately poor, home economists even invented a new food, the quaintly named Milkorno, developed by food scientists at Cornell University. The "milk-os" (there were also milkwheato and milkoato) included a mix of grain flours and powdered skim milk that could provide a meal's worth of nutrients.
At this blog post there is a recipe for Milkorno Polenta with Tomato Sauce -- and you'll find more recipes at the Cornell University Library website, where they have this to say:
A research team led by Flora Rose developed Milkorno, Milkoato, and Milkwheato cereals in the early 1930s. Nutritious and also inexpensive

initially the cereal was sold exclusively to the Federal Emergency Relief Administration for distribution to Americans impoverished by the Depression. Home economists claimed that by substituting Milkorno for flour and cornmeal, a family of five could eat on less than five dollars a week.
I'm off to look for more on the "milk-os"; so expect them to appear here again. *wink*

Keep A Better Seal On The Fridge Door

Keeping a tight seal on your refrigerator door helps keep food fresher, and is more economical. Here's a tip on that from Modern Woman magazine, Vol 14, No 5, 1945.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why Have A Kid's Table At The Holidays?

I just love this post by Shawnee in which she begs us to bring back the tradition of the kids' table:

Just like the kids get to have unsupervised chocolate-milk-bubble-blowing time, adults are supposed to get their time to talk about stuff they want without kids supervising them. That’s part of the holiday tradition.

Image from The American Home for Christmas, December 1955, found at Flickr

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How To Make Old Clothes New: A Lesson In Darning, Patching And Mending

The Book Of Knowledge is a rather misleading name. It's actually a set of books, similar to encyclopedias, intended for children -- or for the education of children, with many articles appearing to have been written for children and adults to read together &/or to instruct children from. We have about 3/4 of the volumes in the antique 20 volume set.

This particular section, How To Make Old Clothes New: A Lesson In Darning, Patching And Mending, comes from Volume XI (circa 1910's).

Like most people, I've heard of darning -- even seen the old darning tools (darning eggs and darning mushrooms), but never tried it. We've all become accustomed to suffering with holes in the toes of our socks until we can't stand it anymore and then head to WalMart for another package of socks; but as I sit here with my big toe poking out, I'm beginning to think that darning it tonight while I watch television would be much cheaper (and busy hands might just keep me from smoking less too).

Plus, according to The Book Of Knowledge, it's so simple a child could do it. I must be at least as simple as a child.

A Tip For Making Fruit Butter

How to eliminate sticking -- and a lot of the stirring -- when making fruit butter:

From Modern Woman, Vol 14, No 5, 1945.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How To Deal With Cigarette Burns On Tables

Tips on how to repair wooden table tops with cigarette burns -- without refinishing the whole table from How To Protect & Preserve America's Homes (Moore's Handy Index Book)

Apparently folks used to leave their cigs just burning on the edge of tables? Before my time. But I have seen plenty of antique furniture with burn marks.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Long Red Retro Hostess Skirt To Crochet

It may be a little too late to make for this holiday season (I don't yet crochet, so I don't know), but this long hostess skirt was too cool not to show you when I found it -- and there's always Valentine's Day!

Found in my copy of the first issue of Good Housekeeping Needlecraft magazine (Fall-Winter, 1968-1969), the text (not shown in the scan) reads:

The hostess skirt of the year! An original GHN design, this long skirt is so marvelous for entertaining at home. It is quickly made in a crocheted basket stitch that falls gracefully into pleat-like folds.
Of course, you'll need to find yourself a slip for this one.

Sesame Biscuits From Jiffy Pie Crust Mix

A recipe found in the May 1978 issue of Women's Circle for sesame biscuits made with Jiffy pie crust mix. (You can't get much cheaper than Jiffy!)

I've not tried this yet, but I'm excited to. Jiffy was a staple in our house growing up -- and to this day it's still my favorite mix for corn muffins.

Friday, December 5, 2008

High-Five Friday: The Practical Edition

High-Five Fridays are a way of highlighting links (posts, blogs/sites, people) that you liked during the week.

1) Thrifty & green folks know that the correct answer to, "Paper or plastic?" is, "Neither; I brought my own re-usable bag." Here's a free (and vintage) pattern to crochet your own shopping bag.

2) Get those victory rolls in just 5 minutes. The perfect hairstyle for the busy holiday season, victory rolls are practical and festive!

3) Win a $500 Kmart gift card just for Twittering &/or posting comments. (You know I did it -- Grandma would never forgive me if I didn't at least try!)

4) Decorate cookies much? Before you eat the best one, enter it in Kmart's Cookie Decorating Contest -- the winner will be enjoying a 4-day, 3-night trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida!

5) I'll be keeping an eye on A Thrifty Mrs -- she seems rather like-minded ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How To Take Measures For Patterns (1899)

"How to Take Measures for Patterns", from the October 1899 issue of McCall's magazine; via

Remove Caster Marks From Hardwood Floors

In an old copy of How To Protect & Preserve America's Homes (Moore's Handy Index Book), tips on removing caster marks from hardwood floors:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dealing With Curled Floor Rugs

Rugs with curled edges are more than unattractive and annoying, they can be down-right dangerous. The April 1921 issue of The Modern Priscilla has a tip from a reader to help with floor rugs with curled edges:

Kits, Cats, Sacks & Wives -- All Save With Free Shipping Today

Free shipping at Zazzle today -- may I suggest an apron?

This apron has the classic I Met A Man With Seven Wives nursery rhyme on it:

The coupon code CYBERZSHIP08 must be entered during checkout to receive the offer. Shipping offer is for standard (or basic if standard is not available) shipping to U.S. addresses only. Shipping charges will apply to orders being shipped on an expedited basis or outside the U.S. Offer is valid from December 1, 2008 through December 1, 2008 at 11:59 pm (PST).

Things To Do With Cookie Cutters #12

In the May 1978 issue of Women's Circle, an article on how to batik -- suggesting the use of cookie cutters (dipped in wax) to make designs.

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