Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Plastic Jungle: It Is A Jungle In There

Lured in by the promise of "instant" sale of my cards, with money deposited into my PayPal account, I just gave Plastic Jungle a try.

What an exercise in being peeved-off.

The Instant Funding option to sell your gift cards for cash is supposed to be simple: You select the store, fill in the card number and PIN, if your card has one, and click submit to get your offer.

What's supposed to happen after that? I have no idea.

After I clicked to submit my gift card information, the screen showed one of those by-now-too-familiar "spin" icons to signal the technology is working.

But, after an agonizingly long wait, nothing happened.

I checked my account in case I wasn't understanding how the process was supposed to work; after all, Plastic Jungle is short on information where you need it. But no transactions or notifications of any kind. Ditto my email inbox.

After trying to submit three times, followed by three checks of my account, with no apparent success, I clicked "help" and that's where I discovered the fine print: cards must have a value of $15 or more. My card's value was only $10.

I wouldn't have entered it had I known that. So why the hell do they bury that info? And why didn't the system tell me I had committed such a sin with a specific error message?

I then tried three other store cards -- three other cards, each from a different store, each well over the $15 minimum, each attempted submission followed-up by a check on my account, and each with the same infuriating result: Nothing.

No error message. No offer. No page change.

No transactions, no notices, no emailed notifications.

I called customer service -- during normal business hours; and was forced to leave a voice mail message (and the list of information they request from you is ridiculous to ask; upset, frustrated people are calling, not some potential date who's really into you). Plus, we all know how frustrating it is to leave a message for a company -- one that boasts how large they are on their corporate page. They are supposed to be there for us; we aren't supposed to sit idle, by the phone, waiting for a call from them who-knows-when, hoping we don't miss it and have to call and start the cycle all over again.

After 30 minutes of waiting, I used the site's contact form. I received an email "thanking me" for my contact (without a copy of what I wrote). But did not hear back.

I then tried a different browser. I'm a huge Foxfire fan, so I hate to use Internet Explorer. Here I discovered an annoying advertising widget that I couldn't close and so had to navigate around it. (As I do not use IE except in extreme circumstances like this, I have not bothered to install Adblock Plus on it as I have on Foxfire so that I can employ it on sites that are uber annoying.)

Navigating around the annoying ad, I tried one of the cards again. This time, the only difference was that after the submission-spinning, the window changed -- leaving only the page header and footer. No offer, no message, just a shorter window.


I once again checked my account page; no transactions or notices. So this apparently trying a different browser wasn't the solution either.

You might think I'm not being gracious enough in my waiting for returned phone calls &/or emails -- but this was supposed to be Instant Funding, remember?

The bottom line here: Plastic Jungle is hardly "instant" and hardly any sort of convenience; quite the opposite.

But if you love to be aggravated, frustrated, annoyed -- and not sell your gift cards -- then you'll love it.

UPDATE: More than 24 hours later, I did receive a phone call from Plastic Jungle customer service -- however, as I projected, it was an exercise in frustration. The call came from a "restricted" number, so, fearing telemarketing, I didn't admit who I was and suggested that they call back in an hour. The woman clearly didn't want to call back; "If she has any problems, she can call us back." Which would only start the process again. *sigh*

Several hours after that, I received the following email to my complaint via email contact form:

Our apologies for the overdue response. We have been overwhelmed with phone calls and emails due to the holidays and have been diligently working on resolving every issue for each customer.

We were experiencing a technical issue with our instant paypal but since has been resolved. Please let us know if you are still experiencing problems using this method.

I find this unsatisfactory.

Yes, their excuse may be probable; but then why not use the system to contact all members to let them know there was an issue and it has been fixed? Why not post a note site-wide to communicate that all is now well? Something to assure that the difficulties were temporary and reassure that during this time, our information was safe, etc.

Since that time, I listed my unwanted gift cards for sale on eBay. Each sold -- and I received my payments for them -- within hours of listing them. Still far more "instant" than any other service. No minimum gift card amounts either. The fees were low and I daresay that all-told I received what I would have from any other site buying gift cards. While eBay limits you to listing one gift card per store at a time, once one sells, you can list another rather simply.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Martha Sleeper's Original Lime Soup: A (Vintage) Meal In 30 Minutes Or Less

Martha Sleeper's Original Lime Soup as published in Fast Gourmet, by Poppy Cannon (The Lima News, April 22, 1963).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tip For Soups, Hot Cocoa, Warmed Milk, Etc.

Another tip from that vintage Hint Hunt booklet, this time on how to keep that "skin" from forming on hot beverages and soups.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How To Clean Carved Wooden Furniture Pieces

Part of this clipping, a tip on using a baby's hairbrush to clean or dust the carved parts of furniture.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Dusting Saves You Money On Your Electric Bill

This General Electric ad (found in the December 1943 issue of True Story) serves up some wartime tips on energy conservation.

vintage GE ad 1943

Thursday, December 16, 2010

War Time Soap Saving Tips

At the bottom of this "Romance Isn't Rationed" ad for Ivory Soap, tips for saving soaps. The last tip combines two tips on soap I've previously shared.

(Ad scanned from the back cover of True Story, December 1943.)

Gifts For Every Month Of The Year

From Modern Woman Magazine (Volume 15, Number 7, 1946), a two-page article by Margaret Carrick (photography by Jack Carrick) titled "A Gift From Every Month Of The Year" that discusses the lovely gift package the author received.

The gift package contained 12 items, one for every month of the year -- and each handmade. The author boasts that the total monetary cost of the gift was 10 cents as the gifts themselves were recycled items or made with scraps and other leftover items.

It may be too late for this year, but once the New Year starts, you know you'll be hibernating and want projects to work on!

You can click the images to read the larger scans, but I'll break the gift items down for you:

January -- A crispy little apron made from a bit of left-over dimity, all neatly trimmed with rick-rack braid and with a roomy pocket, too. There should be a rule against making aprons without pockets!

February -- And what could this be? Oh, yes -- as clever a little sting-holder as you could ever hope to see. A tuna can with a hole punched in the bottom holds the strong and allows it to be drawn out as you want it. The can fits into a crochet draw-strong bag. Hang it on any convenient nail and there you are. If a bit of string is as hard to find around your house as it is mine, you will say "Welcome, welcome indeed."

March -- Blustery winds blowing the washing on the line must have suggested this one -- a roomy clothespin bad made from a piece of pillow ticking fitted over a clothes hanger.

April -- A kneeling pad for working beside a flower bed. This is something I've always intended to make for myself and, of course, never did. Conjured out of a scrap of white oilcloth, sprinkled with red strawberries and bound with tape to match, it has an ivory ring sewn on one corner to make it easier to hand up when not in use.

May -- Flowers for May, and here they are in two beautiful flower prints cut from a magazine and pasted onto backings of plywood. Shellacked to make a permanent finish and provided with a taped-on ring on the back to hand them by, they will add a note of cheerful color to my breakfast room.

June -- "Where have I seen this lovely quilted satin?" I ask as I admire two stunning coat hangers with sachet bags attached, smelling of my favorite flower fragrance. But of course! They are covered with the narrow strip which was cut off to shorten the beautiful robe which my friend received last Christmas. Now that, I say, is using scraps to their very best advantage.

July -- A small box reveals two dainty handkerchiefs. One from a wisp of chiffon with a delicate lace edging and the other a bit of pastel-flowered batiste with a hand rolled hem.

August -- Unique, indeed, is this velvet pincushion. It is fitted into a filagree metal base which once held a very fancy bottle of perfume. Just the sort of thing that I'm always saving but never do anything about making into something useful.

September -- Another small piece of plywood is used here to make the backing for a memorandum pad and pencil. A small decal adds interest. The pencil has a metal ring ring taped to the top so it can hang from a little nail on the board beside the pad.

October -- Potholders! Do we ever have too many? One is crocheted, the other made from a gay print.

November -- Time now for cosy gatherings near the fire as the evenings begin to chill, so here is just what we need -- a card table cover of black cotton bound with green.

December -- "And now," says my friend, "I was beginning to run out of ideas, but I found that I had some extra asbestos stove-mats that I'd bought once at a bargain." With a family snapshot and a calendar which will be pad, one became a kitchen calendar which will be useful in its own right after the calendar has served its purpose.

Obviously some of these ideas are a bit dated... String is rarely looked for, let alone considered useful outside of the craft room, and anything with asbestos is a no-no, etc.; but these ideas sure do illustrate the power of recycling and creating things from scraps.

PS If you're wondering what the 10 cents was spent on, I'll tell you: The ball of strong to go in the string holder.

Things To Remember When Making Candy (And Vintage Fudge Recipe)

From the 1931 Pet Milk Cookbook, tips for making candy -- and if you'd like to test your skills, a vintage Pet Milk recipe for Pineapple Fudge.

Contests To Win (And The History Of Winning Them)

When I spotted this latest contest (to win a designer tote bag), I wasn't sure I should post it -- I had just posted a few contests to enter. But then I was reminded of an old article I'd read about (and a dozen or so more written by) those who virtually made their living off of winning contests. Not just free products, but cash prizes writing jingles etc.

(I can't find any of those articles just now; unfortunately I just don't have the time to sort, catalog, organize, and cross-reference even just my vintage magazines... My blogs are kind of my way of doing so -- slowly. When I run across one of my own, I'll post it. Until then, this will have to do.)

But the whole idea of winning contests as a way to support one's self or one's family reminded me of the number of people who expect their computers and Internet connections to "pay for themselves." Especially in the early days of the world wide web.

I remember when I was pregnant with my son (now 10 years old), making the most of my 's physically exhausted self's time time by planting myself in front of the PC, searching for freebies, coupons, and rebates. I'd compare all that to the store flyers for sales and maximize every dollar with my shopping list. I was quite good at it. Once I got a 36 pack of double-rolled name-brand toilet paper not just for free, but the store paid me $2.36 to take it. And I paid less than $10 for the back-to-school supplies, including the calculator.

Aside from bragging (and chastising myself for not doing more of this now), I am reminded that this bit of thrift has an old history. And so I shouldn't ignore posting contests as I find them -- and the time to do so.

To that end, I will tell you that Ascending Butterfly now has a fantastic number of contests and giveaways going on right now.

And Online Sweepstakes is an incredible resource for those who want to add winning to their thrifty ways.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homemade Fingerpaint Recipe

This ad for Argo corn starch suggests having the family fingerpaint the holiday gift wrap and other items for the season. They even give a recipe for making your own finger paints using Argo corn starch.

(Ad scanned from inside the back cover of New Ideas For Christmas, book #7, copyright 1962 Fawcett Publications.)

Link Round-Up (Including Contests!)

Contests: Enter to win a cupcake making kit from Saint Cupcake; enter to win a $50 gift certificate from Theda Bara Vintage lingerie.

Holiday gift and shopping tips: How To Get & Give Vintage For The Holidays, How To Get The Gifts You Want From The Man (Or Men) In Your Life, and Tips On Using EBay & PayPal For Holiday Shopping.

Other Links:

I found a vintage photo very inspiring and now have a new project for the bedroom to consider.

The Retro Housewife echos my sentiments on the apron.

Some tips on wrapping gifts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vintage Red & Green Gelatine Christmas Squares Recipe

Vintage Christmas treat recipe and illustration from that December 1932 issue of Woman's World magazine.

Vintage Christmas Tree Tips

Tips on helping your real or natural Christmas tree last longer, from an October, 1960 newspaper clipping.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Edible Place Cards For The Holiday Table

From the December 1932 issue of Woman's World magazine, a "new idea" to use cookies as place cards for the Christmas dinner. I'm sure Martha et al have suggested this, but that doesn't diminish a more original source; and it's still a better way to engage children in holiday baking and traditions, as well as avoid wasting paper for cards that just end up being tossed out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How To Brighten Furniture

A vintage newspaper clipping that answers the question, "How can I brighten furniture?" by suggesting a wash, a rinse, and a dry -- followed by a homemade "polish" and a final rubbing with an old piece of silk.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jackie O's Potatoes Suzette

A recipe said to be from or used by Jackie Kennedy, as published in the 1962 Dell Purse Book, The Jacqueline Touch.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How To Hang Laundry Outside To Dry - Without Freezing The Clothes In Winter

If you've been thinking of trying to save some money by hanging your clothes out to dry even in winter, and your friends think you're crazy, remind them that once upon a time, that was the only option! Then look at this tip found in Watkins Household Hints by Elaine Allen (copyright, 1941, by the J.R. Watkins Company, Winona, Minnesota).

Simple Sewing From Patterns For Children

Beginning Arts and Crafts by Renee Seville (1971) is a book assisting and encouraging arts and crafts in the classroom. This selection is on sewing, specifically clothing for dolls. While this section is short on actual patterns, I found the cardboard folders with envelope pockets for patterns and printed instructions rather cool, in an old school kind of way.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Better Grip For Non-Slip Glasses & Baby Bottles

Both these tips come from that 1940s Hint Hunt booklet. The first is on making glass baby bottles less slippery; the second on making drinking glasses with a better grip for small children (and, I dare say, for older folks too!).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaching Your Children To Sew

You readers know that I'm shocked by the lack of sewing instruction in schools -- and at home. While I've forgotten so much from my official home ec classes, I know how to do simple repairs -- but not many do.

Since I've been talking with artisan-crafter behind both I Sew Cute and As Luck Would Have It, I thought I'd ask her what she thought about it...

I realize as a crafter, you might want to sell finished product, but since you do sell those nifty patterns, I thought perhaps you could comment on this situation.

I grew up learning about sewing and knitting from my mom and Nana. My other grandma who didn't sew at all -- but she always encouraged me in my creativity. It was a good combination of watching and learning as well as being supported and encouraged. I was lucky to have that.

Since you have children, I'd also like to discuss crafting with children. Do you have an advice for teaching sewing at home? Any products, kits, etc., you'd recommend? For any/all ages.

To start kids off learning how to sew, I'd start them on lacing cards to get the hand coordination down as preschoolers.

Stringing beads is also a fine motor skill to prepare them for future sewing.

After lacing cards, I'd then move on to teaching them how to sew a button onto a piece of fabric, or sewing 2 pieces of fabric together by hand to make a simple pillow.

I don't believe sewing is just for girls either. My father and grandfather worked in leather and had heavy duty machines for sewing it. If my boy wants to sew, I'd encourage it!

What are the ages of your children? How many do you have?

I have a six year old boy and a four year old girl.

Aside from keeping them busy with creative activities (as opposed to passive entertainment like TV and video games), what other benefits do you see for children who make crafts and sew?

I know my kids are going to grow up to be happier people because of their love of working with their hands. The real benefits are they will never be bored, will have an outlet for expressing themselves, and will have satisfaction for contributing something to the world by using their creative voices, whatever they may be.

I think all children are naturally creative and it's up to us as parents to nurture that.

Not to mention, those kids will grow up able to sew their own buttons back on their shirts, mend a seam, or even hem a pair of jeans. And be able to teach their own children to do the same. *wink*

I'd like to thank June for spending so much time with me -- including sharing her vintage children's spoon collection!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vintage Coffee Percolator Tip

Another tip from that Hint Hunt booklet; this one about avoiding grounds in your coffee using a thimble:

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Week's Vintage Home Ec Links

Over at Past Life, Miss CherryBubbles experiments to create a recipe for Apple Cider Pancakes.

The Retro Housewife has tips on apples.

At 50s Times, 50sGal shares vintage advice on planning, shopping, and budgeting meals.

And a very special "Thank you!" to Vixen Vintage for her lovely comments about this blog in her Learning From The Past post!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Living The Viva Vintage?, Or Just Plain Loco?

Hubby sent me this link to Jen But Never Jenn's 50s Housewife Experiment; he found it via this post at MetaFilter, which was anything but kind.

This made me think about addressing an underlying question about this blog: Do I live a vintage lifestyle?

The simple answer is, "No, I do not." (And if you've read any of my other blogs, especially Kitsch Slapped, you'd probably know that lol) But the more in-depth answer is that I pick and choose what tips and practices of the past fit the needs of my family and myself.

My reasoning, is two-fold.

One, that I'm too well-aware of the unrealistic expectations of that time, for both genders, to pretend otherwise. As Jen mentioned, and I'm pretty sure I myself have written somewhere, is that the past is far too easily romanticized; we tend to recall and pine for the powerful love story of Casablanca, but forget the realities such as the actual pain of unrequited love and living with someone we are beholden to, but do not love -- let alone recall the wounds of war!

Two, I'm too busy to summarily reject out-of-hand modern conveniences which actually do the work more efficiently and even more cost effectively than if done the way our grandmothers did it.

While I'm too old to just pretend and play house, my age (an astonishingly old -- especially on the Internet! -- 46) and experience does provide me an interesting perspective...

It's true that some of us have overly romanticized the 1950s (or any era, really); but some of us have demonized the past as well. In the process, we've thrown the baby of helpful household tips out with the bathwater of modernism and/or feminism. This "either or" or "all or nothing" thinking has diminished the value of housewives and housework, and, in my opinion, many of the so-called conveniences are anything but -- they've only raised other economic, environmental and health problems, for individuals and our country as a whole.

I'm in the middle of reading a great book about the history of home economics which addresses much of this and, as I'll be reviewing it here, I'll wax on then.

For now I'll just summarize that there's a lot we can learn from the past, practical and otherwise, and I use this blog to help remind us all of it; it's up to each individual to decide what, if anything, is helpful enough for them to reclaim.

Image Credits: Housewife Marjorie McWeeney with Broom Amidst Display of Week's Housework at Bloomingdale's Store, photo by Nina Leen for LIFE magazine.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vintage Recipe For Corning Liquid & Irish Corned Beef And Cabbage

The following recipes for making up to six gallons of corning liquids and Authentic Irish Corned Beef & Cabbage comes from the amazing Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter. (I may be sharing more from this book -- but not all will be at this blog because much of the text is far too unlikely to be practical. So please keep an eye on my other blogs, &/or follow me on Twitter!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Use An Old Card Table As A Frame For Hooking Rugs

Also in that Hint Hunt booklet, an impressive tip that addresses recycling an old card table and ease in crafting!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Forget The Spoonful Of Sugar - Try This For Giving Medicine To The Kids

The following tip for improving the ease of giving liquid medication comes from a vintage Hint Hunt booklet, circa 1940s. Hint Hunt was an old Armour Radio show broadcast on CBS and this booklet contains "367 prize winning household hints" -- although, some pass the test of time better than others. *wink*

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vintage Consumer's Pledge

This scan of Make and Mend For Victory (The Spool Cotton Company, 1942) isn't from my own collection (but now that I've seen it, I'm going to get one!), but I love the text of the Consumer's Victory Pledge:

As a consumer, in the total defense of democracy, I will do my part to make my home, my community, my county ready, efficient, strong.

I will buy carefully - and I will not buy anything above the ceiling price, no matter how much I may want it.

I will take good care of the things I have - and I will not buy anything made from vital war materials which I can get along without.

I will waste nothing - and I will take care to salvage everything needed to win the war.

Office of Price Administration

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Handy Gift Sewing Kits

This vintage tip was found in a 1956 issue of The Work Basket. What I like about it is that as far as gifts go, it's one thing most people could actually use -- too many folks do not even have a sewing kit. The other things I like about it is that it's neither too expensive nor too difficult to make -- yet those who receive it, those who do not have a sewing kit or know the basics of sewing, likely will have their minds blown that you made it. *wink*

PS Sorry for the long gap in posting; we moved this summer -- and along with moving into a smaller space, we had to make room for all the vintage magazines & publications (the Things Your Grandmother Knew!) and collectibles. And the kids still insisted on having their rooms filled with their own stuff; go figure!

Monday, May 24, 2010

How To Dry Chenille Bedspreads

A tip for drying chenille bedspreads -- which I imagine is equally good for robes, etc. -- that's not only green, but probably safer to do with your vintage chenille collectibles that you're afraid to put in the dryer. And, yes, this is a way to keep the chenille fluffy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Angel Food Cake Tip

A vintage baking tip about letting the angel cakes and sponge cakes cool before turning them upside down on the cake rack.

Easy Homemade Upholstry Cleaner

Another use for soap jelly, this time whipped-up with an egg beater to make a cleaner for upholstered furniture. This is tip #475 in 1003 Household Hints & Work Savers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sew, Whatever Happened To Learning How To Use A Needle & Thread?

One of my daughters starts high school next year. She tried to select a beginner's sewing class as one of her electives, but, since only four other students registered for the class, it was canceled. You'd think that with the popularity of Project Runway, etc., a full class would be possible; but no. This disturbs me for several reasons.

One, my brother in law cannot sew a button on his shirt. I know this because he was given a shirt as a gift and the pocket seam was undone -- it just needed a few stitches to tack it in place on one side -- but he couldn't do it. I told him, "If you can sew a button on, you can tack that back down." He said he couldn't do that. And that he didn't bother to learn because the dry cleaners always did that for him. Now, I love my brother in law, but I don't want my kids that helpless.

Two, if I want my children to have sewing lessons (and at least the girls want them; they are interested in costume design as well as crafty things), I'll have to pay for them. I'd prefer that the public school I fund with my taxes would provide the education on such basics. And beyond.

Yes, I could teach my kids to sew -- at least what I know, remember and teach myself (see my Stitches In (My) Time post).

But you moms out there know how well that goes with teenage girls... Getting them to sit with me to learn basic sewing and repairs does not go over as well as teaching them "more fun" needlework and craft projects.

Like teaching my kids math etc., it works best when the school provides the core curriculum and I add onto it myself.

As long as we still wear clothes made of fabric, sewing should not be a lost art.

The good news may be that I'll find sewing lessons for all three of us girls... If I can afford that. (Hint hint, if you're in Fargo or know an inexpensive resource here!)

Image credits: Needlework Before Housework by Radical Cross Stitch (E-Pattern from Radical Cross Stitch aka Radical Rags at Etsy).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Soap Jelly

A wartime tip on the benefits of saving soap scraps in a jar of hot water, aka "soap jelly."

More info on soap jelly here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Is It Time To Return To Canning At Home?

The 1942 "Victory Recipe Edition" of Modern Homemaker (published by American Homemaker, Inc., which, based on the ads and content, could have been a Kerr Glass publication), is a WWII home front "Food For Victory" call for planting a Victory Garden.

Included is part of an address from then Secretary of Agriculture, Claude R. Wickard, which likely appeals today to farmers and gardeners alike:

It is our job NOW to prepare to meet the demand, not tomorrow or the next day, but right now. There is only one time to plant, and if you are not ready at the right time you have lost a year's production forever. There is no way to make it up.
And Mrs. Alexander H. Kerr, President of the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation, added her own strenuous message:
No great undertaking was ever won by the half-hearted efforts of a few. TO WIN THIS WAR it will take the united efforts of every red-blooded American man, woman and child TO PLANT VICTORY GARDENS... TO CAN THE SURPLUS... TO FEED OUR FAMILIES AT HOME AND OUR BOYS AND ALLIES ABROAD.
I find the urgency of these messages a sad reminder of how disconnected most of us are from the current wars we fight -- and how many of us would find these old messages from World War II more akin to the plight of our current economy, to the threatened and vulnerable way we feel here on the home front. Whichever way these messages on the thrift and necessity of gardening and canning speak to you, I'm sharing the following information with you in the spirit of helpfulness. (As always, click the images for large scans.)

On page 6, information on the "careful study" which should be given to the kinds of fruits and vegetables to be planted. They direct you, whether planting on your own land or in a community garden, to see your County Agricultural Agent (which I suppose today, would be part of or akin to your local university &/or county extension offices) in terms of soil analysis, varieties best suited to your area, etc.

Other interesting notes from this page:
When a family produces its own vegetables it will eat more than if they came from the store and have to be paid for in cold cash. That of course tends to improve the family's health and enables members to work harder and longer. Producing vegetables at home puts the food right where it is to be used; it doesn't take any freight cars or trucks to move the food to those families. Still another advantage of home vegetable gardens is that they release more of the commercial vegetable production for other uses...
On page 7, "Your 3 Step Victory Program" discusses your canning budget, complete with a chart for calculating how much to can for your family based on the "30 non-productive weeks of the year" (which obviously varies by your local as well). For each vegetable, fruit, meat, jams, etc., the number of weekly servings is translated into an amount for one person, which you then multiply by the number of people in your family to ascertain your canning needs.

Now I've never canned food before; most of us have not. Not only the ease of refrigeration, freezing, commercial canning, and commercial freezing, but the low cost, has rendered canning a thing of the past (hence the plethora of cheap glass canning jars at rummage sales, thrift shops, etc.). Aside from the proper supplies for sealing the jars, an increase in water and energy usage, the seeds etc. involved in gardening-- and the time spent in labor -- I'm not sure what else is involved... So I cannot speak for the costs (or ease) of canning. And I'm not even sure if canned food is better than commercially frozen, etc.

But when you figure in the environmental costs (as mentioned above) of buying groceries from the store and the positive benefits of you and your family working together side-by-side, both in the garden and the kitchen, the equation becomes a matter not simply of the amount of money spent today, but of the potential costs of tomorrow.

Trade Your Junk Drawer For Some Easy Organization

Convert a shoe bag into a catch-all for the kitchen -- or any room, really.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning Issues Grandma Probably Never Dreamt Of

Even with advancements in curbside recycling programs, there are plenty of products such as batteries, cell phones, computers, packing peanuts and other items that you can't leave for pick-up -- leaving many to (however illegal or un-green) store them for dumping curbside during a city designated spring clean-up time. While such days mean you avoid the hassles and fees for taking problematic items to the dump, the items still end up in a landfill or worse.

If you want to recycle, check out Earth911.com. Their hotline, 1-800 CLEANUP, has recently been upgraded to simplify the ease of accessing information on recycling locations in your area and offering bilingual help for Spanish speaking folks. They also offer a free iPhone app, iRecycle.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green For St. Patrick's Day & Beyond

EBay's newest ad campaign (as seen in the April 2010 issue of Marie Claire magazine) promotes buying and using vintage as the ultimate "green" purchasing activity" "The greenest product is the one that already exists."

Most thrifty shoppers and vintage living folks know this, but it's great to see eBay promoting it.

Near the end of the magazine, promotion of the Recycle For Rewards program, a rewards and loyalty program that motivates people to recycle and to engage in environmentally virtuous activities with points redeemable for shopping, magazine subscriptions, etc.

The first 100,000 who pledge to recycle their magazines between April 1 and May 15, 2010, will get 15 RecycleBank Points using reward code "RECYCLEYOURMAGS."

And if you sign up for the eBay Green Team, you'll get another 50 points (currently, it's a box to toggle when you register at RecycleBank).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tips For Tenderizing Tough Meat

From a vintage issue of Modern Woman (circa 1945; I didn't put the scan in a proper folder, so I don't remember which issue), a tip for dealing with tough and/or cheap cuts of meat.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wall Washing Tips

This tip comes from a 1977 almanac -- the J. Gruber's Hagers-Town, Town and Country, Almanack. Frankly, this tip fascinates me... Logically, it seems starting at the top would make more sense, avoiding streaks on previously cleaned sections of the wall; but I'll be darned if trying it this way wasn't better. (I'd always wondered why I still has those streaks!)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Caring For Your Boston Fern

This tip about dealing with fern scale infestation comes from a vintage issue of The WorkBasket (likely the 1950's -- for some reason, the scan didn't make it into the right folder for issue number and date; sorry about that.)

How To Keep Cake From Sticking To Plate

Though some of us certainly don't mind picking up the pieces of cake stuck to a plate as a quick kitchen snack, this tip (from Good Ideas: An Interesting Collection Made By Eddy's) does help the serving and appearance of dessert.

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