Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Preparing Contact Paper

A tip on using contact paper, referred to here as "shelving with pre-gummed backing," that recommends placing the paper in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes before use. This makes the adhesive easier to work with. Vintage tip from George Mobayed, Brooklyn, NY; published in Household Help, vol 5 (more here).

Reduce Waste

Listia's blog put out this infographic on waste to inform and to inspire more folks to reduce, reuse and recycle, in part by using their site. (My review here.) But obviously, we thrifty folks know we can do this in many ways, be it the old hand-me-downs, passing things to a friend or a neighbor, or making a buck selling things at a yard sale, flea market, or online. Oh, and by reading here at Things Your Grandmother Knew too, of course *wink*

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vintage Brown Bread Recipes

Recipes for Steamed Brown Bread and Baked Brown Bread from The Photo-Method For Party Baking, by Virginia Roberts, Home Baking Institute Occident Flour, Minneapolis, Minn., copyright Russell-Miller Milling Co. 1947. (For more on The Photo Method, go here.)

Guilt Free Romantic Roses For Needlework & Crafting

One of my antique botanical scans has been featured in the Romantic Escape treasury at Etsy!

KapKaDesign featured my roses. (But I have others in my Etsy shop as well -- and more to come!)

I offer these botanical prints and other vintage and antique images as downloads for use in crafts, needlework, etc. -- so that you can use them without ruining the fragile old pieces. No guilt!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Practical & Fun Link Round-Up

A Slip Of A Girl tells you How Often You Should Wash Your Lingerie.

Back To School Get Crafty is a long list of links to projects for little kids, bigger kids, and the biggest kids of all -- adults!

The Glamorous Housewife has lunch ideas for real kids -- not the magazine kind. *wink*

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vintage Advice On Children's Games & Toys

More advice on children from Variety Fair: A Household Digest (1948); this section is on Desirable Games & Play Equipment, and it mentions some pretty basic things that are probably missing in many households which opt to give their children "the latest and greatest" in widgets and tech gadgets which are sold as toys.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tip On Storing Folding Chairs

From Household Help, vol 5 -- this tip was sent in by Mrs. A.W. Tychsen of Riverdale, NY.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The History Of My Mom's 6 Ingredient Crockpot Recipe

This post was prompted by the 108th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which was focused on food. I think it's such a fabulous idea to look at our family history in terms of food!

Food is tied to so many things, from culture to health, how we cook to the brands we use, our relationships with food and our family ties over food... So many interesting facets to consider! (You really should spend some time reading the posts at that carnival link!) Each of us has many memories of family food s which don't revolve around those consumed at holidays.

Back in the day, when my mom was a single mom raising two little girls, she went to cupboard and found that while not completely bare, it certainly left a lot to be desired... But like most mothers, the real mothers of invention when it comes to necessity, my mom took what she found, along with some ground hamburger meat, and made a dish that lives on in our family.

When I first ate it, and indeed for many years of eating it, I had no idea this was a meal born of poverty or thrift. It was just dinner. Years later, knowing the truth behind the meal has comforted me more than just filling my belly; it's proof that having to scrimp isn't always bad and (perhaps most comforting of all) the knowledge that when times and cupboards are lean the kids typically have no idea. Less guilt, hooray!

Now my kids know this meal best as the start of the football season (more on that below); but I hope when they grow up, have families of their own and they make this dish, that they'll remember we all go though hard times. At those times, you make the most of what you've got until you get through it. And we all get through it.

The name, Corny Rot, derives from mom's lament that things weren't better. For me and mine, we just love it. It's easy and inexpensive to make -- and gives you easy to reheat leftovers too. The recipe allows great fluidity in terms of recipe size and ingredient substitution, for special diets, etc. This meal is also a great alternative to chili, if you, like I, have those who complain about chili for everything from "it's too spicy" to "I don't eat beans." And, of course, knowing the tradition brings another sense of warmth to the meal for me. 

Mom's original recipe is below -- complete with the brand names that she used and that I, in tradition, prefer to use. (My notes on any adjustments will be in parenthesis, just like this comment!)

Corny Rot: Crockpot Recipe

2 cans (29 oz.) of Hunt's tomato sauce
2 cans (10 3/4 oz.) of Campbell's tomato soup
2 cans (15 oz.) of whole kernel corn
1 can (14 oz.) of Hunt's stewed tomatoes (completely optional; no one in my family will eat stewed tomatoes, so I don't bother)
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef (I now use 2 or 3 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey meat -- which totally guarantees leftovers. But, in lean times, I've also made it with as little as one pound of ground meat.)
1 pound of Creamette's elbow macaroni (I usually use half of the 3 pound box, or 1 1/2 pounds of noodles)

Open and pour the tomato sauce, soup and, if used, stewed tomatoes into a crock pot or slow-cooker. Stir. Drain the cans of corn of their packing water, then add the kernel corn to the crock pot. Cover the crock pot; turn crock pot on "high."

Brown ground meat (I use lemon pepper to season at this time). Drain browned ground meat and add it to the crock pot. Stir in. Replace cover and leave.

At least an hour later, prepare the elbow macaroni (per box directions).

When the noodles are ready, drain them. Place noodles in bowls; ladle the contents of the crockpot over the noodles.
While there's no reason not to eat this year round, this dish signals the start of the football season for my family. Brown the meat and load the crock pot in the morning, before the game starts; make the noodles at half-time. When everyone returns to the TV for the second half of the game, the meal is ready and your kitchen duties are done! Folks can get refills as often as they wish.

When everyone's done eating, add the remaining noodles to the crock pot, cover, and place in the refidgerator for a quick microwavable meal later. (I think it even tastes better the next day, when the tomato sauce etc. adds flavor to the noodles!)

I also discovered the Best Six Ingredients Or Less Dinner Recipe Contest and I realized that in telling one of my family's stories and sharing the recipe I also had a contest entry. *wink*

Vintage Wooden Toy Tractor Pattern & Instructions

Use this vintage pattern from Deltagram (Volume 22, Issue 3, May / June 1953; published by Delta Mfg. Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin) to start making those holiday toys now!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Keep A Steel Crochet Hook In The Medicine Cabinet

No, not so you can "stitch" wounds! *wink* This vintage tip suggests using a small-size steel crochet hook handy for use removing lint and hair from clogged drains. This vintage came from Mrs. Donald Leitch (of Staten Island, NY), as published in Household Help, Fifth Series of Hints & Time Savers for the Home, offered by New York's Picture Newspaper and published by News Syndicate Co., Inc., 1966.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Butterscotch Rolls Recipe

Make Butterscotch Rolls, using one-half of the basic roll dough recipe. (From the 1943 The Photo-Method For Rolls, by Virginia Roberts, Occident Home Baking Institute.)

Why We Do Laundry

Getting my kids to change and wash their bedding is such a hassle. Getting my youngest to change his underpants and socks this summer requires spot inspections. I'm certainly not trying to brag! But I suspect others may have similar problems -- if not because they have weird, lazy or even gross kids as I do *wink* but because children and even many adults do not seem to understand why we do laundry.

I think the logic of what my grandma would call the common sense behind laundry, is lost to many today because we have been so conditioned to be consumers who consume -- rapidly

For many, clothing is not a basic necessity, but rather about fashion. Clothing purchases are not a need to replace a practical functioning garment, but are now made out of desire. Ditto linens -- which are now called "home fashions." How many people even think of mending their socks, their sheets -- or, for that matter, how many people have tired of something before it would even need mending? Fabric isn't mended, repaired or even cared for anymore; as fashions textiles have become disposable to so many.

I've nothing against fashion. But I do have to wonder how such a focus on it has twisted perceptions to the point that we don't know how to mend or even why we do the laundry.

Freshly armed from (repeated) lectures to my children, here's the facts.

We launder clothing, linens, bedding, and other fabric items for four reasons:

1.) Hygiene

Along with the things which can creep and crawl into our bedding and textiles, we bring plenty of moisture to the fabrics in our lives. Moisture, whether it's humidity or drool from our mouths, sweat from our skin, or just good old drops of water, is what creates a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and microorganisms that can cause disease.

2.) Pride & Respect

More specifically, we wash our clothing and textiles because we have pride in ourselves, in the willingness to take care of ourselves, and we have respect for those we are around. We enjoy looking nice, presenting our homes as looking nice. Culturally, this signals health (including genetic prosperity) as well as being "nice" -- as humans are social animals, being nice means we are more likely to get along with and be accepted by our family members, neighbors, and communities.

Along with looking nice, we want ourselves and our homes to smell nice.

Although perspiration is practically odorless, perspiration can sometimes cause an unpleasant smell when it comes into contact with the normal bacteria on your skin. Bacteria lives on the skin and feeds on our dead skin cells and fluids, such as sweat. Some of these bacteria make chemicals that smell unpleasant, such as methane and hydrogen sulfide. Washing and using deodorants removes these for awhile, but they build up again every day.

We may not be able to smell ourselves; but others will. Since our olfactory senses are designed to detect new odors (changes alerting us to dangers), our continued exposure to our own scents "deaden" our perception of it.  (This is why there are those ladies walking around reeking of perfume and cologne; they can no longer smell it, so they keep increasing how much they put on!) When we wear clean clothes, have fresh linens, we are doing what we can to ensure that we are not offending someone else.

3.) Thrift

Washing fabric -- as directed -- is as act of preservation. It's not just a matter of stains ruining appearance, but every day soiling breaks down fibers, thinning the fabric, making holes, weakening seams, etc.. The longer such simple and often unseen (icky) things as salt crystals from our sweat remain in contact with fabric, the more damage they can do.

For example, not all the holes in socks and hosiery are caused by rubbing against toenails. Abrasions are hastened by the salt crystals, sloughed-off skin cells, good old fashioned dirt, etc. which cut away at the fabric threads. So wash your hosiery after every wearing -- the sooner the better, for as the moisture evaporates, it drys the salts into harder crystals. Or "darn it," you'll have more repairs to mend! (Or more socks and hose to buy.)

This is why tee-shirt necklines, collars, and waistbands fray. It's not just friction against skin; it's the friction combined with nearly invisible but sharp thread-eating dirt, soil, and microorganisms.This is also why phy. ed. uniforms and gym or work-out clothing seems to get so shabby so quickly. It's not just the exertion; it's the lack of washings combined with the (No more having your children only bring their gym clothes home to launder on school breaks!)

Proper laundering removes the soils and prolongs the life of the fabric, which means you have less repairs to make, less things to buy.

4.) Comfort

By now I bet you likely feel far less comfortable in what you are wearing right now! *wink*  But, seriously, we all know how uncomfortable soiled, dirty, smelly, and/or wet clothing is. Hardened or dried bits of things scratch or make us itch.  Spots and stains on our clothing or that of our children and spouses make us embarrassed; we know that people judge (it's an ingrained biological imperative).

Looking nice in clean clothing, having clean sheets on the beds, crisp clean linens on the table, is not a matter of false pride, of trying to appear wealthy or shaming others.  It's something we do for ourselves and our families because physical and emotional health as well as the family budget are at stake.  Doing the laundry just makes good sense. It makes good scents and good cents too. *wink*

Image via Vintage Linen Treasures.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Today's Quick Question

If you hang your laundry on the line to dry, do you have a clothespin bag to put your clothes pins in? (Vintage image for sale, via.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quick Thrifty Links

Whether you opt for paper or plastic, you likely have a lot of those plastic bags... Here's 18 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags. (Via Girlie Girl Army; sign up for the newsletter here.)

At 3pm, EST, on Thursday, August 11, 2011, @MomCentral is hosting a Twitter party. Topic/Focus: Talk about odor elimination, scent, and how the new Febreze set&refresh refills are designed to provide odor elimination and long-lasting freshness. ( Hashtag: #set&refresh)  And there are prizes: Six people will win $50 Amazon gift codes. Two pre-party promotion winners will also win a $50 gift code.

Cozy Up To Fruit!

This is the cutest thing I've seen recently -- and it has practical offerings too! Not only does it protect fruit and entice the family to eat more of it, but it's another way to put those crochet skills to use.

Image credits: seahorsedesigns.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hide A Hem Change

A tip on disguising a hem adjustment on skirts, from Modern Woman magazine, volume 17 number 1, 1948. (I can tell you from experience that this works for curtains too.)

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