April 29, 1952 - Breakfast Ponderings

As I sit here eating my egg and two pieces of bacon with a slice of toast (My normal breakfast.  Either that or a small bowl of Maypo.) I wonder.  What was life really like back then.  Not everyone was middle class.  How did the poor families of the 1950's live.  How did they stretch their food budget?  How did they keep themselves entertained if they couldn't afford movies or a television set.  I say this as I look around my house that has 3 TV sets for 3 small rooms and only one of them is vintage, not 50's but vintage.
It also makes me think about my life.  Am I doing enough to let go of the modern ideals?  I still think a lot about the entertainment of the 50's to keep myself amused.  Since I don't have a vintage newspaper every morning I pour over my favorite vintage blogs here on my 2002 Compaq.  I still spend at least two hours on the computer a day and at least 3 hours watching TV whether it be old movies or old TV shows.  I thought for the last few months that I was living vintage but no I am living semi-vintage in a modern world.  I understand that I have said this before but I really need to let go of modern conveniences.  I am going to start by limiting myself to one our of computer time three times a week.  Most of that will be used for blogging or slight bits of research.  I have a hundred books and magazines around my apartment to keep myself occupied while I have free time not to mention I have tons of dresses and accessories to make and share with all of you.  Projects that tend to get put off again and again so that I can "just look something up really quick" which turns into two hours on the computer.  It is the first thing that I do when I wake up and the last thing that I do before I go to bed.  Checking my stats, seeing if anyone else followed me.  It becomes somewhat consuming. 
If I spend more time worrying how I can make my life run more efficiently maybe I will not need to entertain myself quite so much.  I'm sorry for the self-pitying rant please forgive.
Till Later!


April 27, 1952 - My New Dress-To-Be

After some careful consideration I have decided that my next sewing adventure will be an upsized house dress.  Although I am working very hard at losing this excess weight it is coming off slowly.  This means that I need clothes that I can wear now and clothes that can just be tightened with a belt as I get smaller.  Therefore one of the patterns that has been in my stash for a little while now would be perfect.
It is McCalls 4287 from 1957 and I will be attempting view B.  The material I am using is a little on the dark side so I am hoping to get in at least one or two wears before summer hits.  Since it was 82 yesterday and is supposed to be in the 80's again today we will just have to wait and see if that is possible.
I can't make this blog too long today because I have to leave for work in about an hour and I have quite a bit that I would like to get done before I leave.  Since I am not getting home until around 5ish tonight I am going to do the prep work on my first Good Housekeeping Cookbook 1949 recipe.  I'll be making Chicken Cacciatore so I am going to dice the celery (it's supposed to be green pepper but I am allergic to bell peppers so whenever a recipe calls for them I will be substituting either celery or Zucchini) and getting the non-refrigerated ingredients out onto the counter and ready for when I get home.  I have enough chicken to make two dishes, so I will probably also be making Chicken Stew With Dumplings at the same time tonight and just package it up and freeze it for future meals when I'm not feeling quite so up to cooking.
I spent a good part of last night making a checklist of all of the recipes in my new cookbook so that I can mark them off as I complete them.  I don't want to mark in my book, it's too priceless and I would like to keep track of what I make and what is yet to be made.  This has proven to be a much more daunting task than I had thought that it would be.  There are just thousands of recipes in these pages and I'm trying to lose weight. HA!  As long as I stick to the serving sizes I should be fine and I have decided that I am going to stick with a very simple breakfast and lunch.  Both under 300 calories so that dinner is free to be up to 800.  I have also subtracted any kind of snacking in my daily life.  That has been one of the hardest changes in my lifestyle.  I am a grazer by nature.  There have been days in my past that I have not eaten an actual "meal" through the entire day.
This brings me to my next problem.  Prepackaged foods.  I have major issues with these and even more so with the ones that tout themselves as healthy.  Now I promise not to turn this into a rant about consumerism or modern laziness.  Especially since I too have been known to indulge in the TV Dinner or two in my life.  My problem is more with the meal in a bags.  Take Voila! for example now I have a recipe for garlic chicken that after some calculating I have found to be about 230 calories for 1 1/2 cups (which is a generous serving) and other than a little bit of natural sodium from the butter that you use it is very low in sodium and the fat isn't that insane.  About 4g per serving.  Theirs however is 240 for 1 cup, 940mg of sodium which is a whopping 39% of your daily intake and a not to terrible 12% of your fat for the day.  8g although 2 of those grams are saturated fat.  I can make mine with no saturated fat, and what does it take me?  An extra 10 minutes of prep time and maybe 10 extra minutes to cook.  And this is one of the healthier alternatives.  Don't even get me started on the Marie Callendar meals.
I'm going to stop now because I wanted this post to be short.  I hope everyone has a beautiful day.
Till Later!

Update:  [6:50pm]  I just got through making the Chicken Cacciatore and it is phenomenal!  The only substitution that I made is I used white wine instead of Chianti which is what it calls for.  It is honestly one of the best chicken dishes that I have ever had and I am not one for tomato sauce.


April 25, 1952 - The Cookbook Project and Some New Material

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Julia Child and how I admired the woman that cooked her way through the entire book of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I thought about doing that myself but really I wanted to be a little more 50's wife, a little more all-American.  This Easter I got my wish.  This past weekend, while I was at my grandmother-in-law-to-be's house we were sitting and talking about recipes and she asked me if I would want a cookbook from the forties.  Well of course I said yes, next thing I knew she was in the cabinet in the living room and pulled out a 1949 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.
As I said in an earlier post.  Her husband died last Monday and on the first page was an inscription from him that said:

Don't ask me why it says "or something" under the blue pen in the black ink.

 I must have asked her three or four times if she was positive that she wanted to give that to me and she insisted that she did.  She told me that it was what he gave her for their wedding.  They didn't get married until 1958 so I'm not really sure where he got it from and if you ask hubby-to-be she never cracked the binding.  It is in pristine condition and looks like it's hardly been read at all.  
This is becoming my mission.  I'm not giving myself a time limit because I think that is too much of a strain on your resources to limit yourself.  But I do want to cook my way through it.  Most of the recipes are delicious and I am absolutely sure that my 1952 self would have this book.  All of the recipes are so detailed and one of the best things about it is I think it was designed for the 'new bride' because nearly every recipe has instructions on how to cut it down to be for two people.
Also I got a very wonderful Easter present from my step-mother-in-law-to-be.  She is a crafter herself and knows how hard it is to be able to afford all of your supplies so when she finds things that she isn't going to use, she gives them to me (lucky me!).  This go around I got a huge bag filled with yarn.  I really need to learn how to follow crocheting instruction patterns.  If you remember I blogged about an authentic 1952 crocheting pattern that I got earlier this month and I would love to take this opportunity to make something from it.
On top of the yarn she gave me a huge bag full of I would say at least 15-20 yards of different kinds of fabric.  I honestly can't wait to get started on something.
The first set is to your right.  There are five different kinds of material pictured.  A purple wool and purple lining (I'm thinking of making a winter or fall jacket out of that) Some grey wool suiting and grey lining as well as some khaki material that I want to see if I have enough to make a sort of outdoorsy outfit.  I'm not really sure on all of the lengths but other then the grey suiting material which is about 2 1/2 yards I would say I have no less than 3 1/2 of the rest of them.
The second set is right here on your left and consists of a very lightweight green jersey on the bottom left then a green very soft cotton.  Not really jogging pants material but I could see someone making a robe out of it.  Next is a navy blue poly blend that is pretty small but I think I could pull off a blouse with it.  Then in the top row are the two cotton/calico prints.  The one on the right is little flowers on straight lines and the one on the left is a huge piece of material, I would say around six yards or so.  This is probably going to be my first real vintage house dress.  I'm not quite up to the standard of evening gown yet.  Not to mention that I don't think this print, although pretty, is very worthy of much past a house dress.
Last but most certainly not least is the lace.  Now I didn't get this over Easter.  In facts I've had it for probably over two years now but I have never found the perfect project for it to go on.  I wonder it my vintage inspired wedding dress will be where I begin.  There is a ton of this lace, especially the white however, I am leaning toward my wedding dress being ivory to give it a more vintage look.  I have even been recently looking into the old style fascinators.  I gave you a link because I had to look up what to call them too.
They are really adorable though and they have tons of them for sale on Etsy that are vintage, white and have veils.  Well my day off has been spent on the computer so far, so off I go to clean up around here and get something done around here.
Till Later!


April 24 ,1952 - Happy Easter!

Just a quick hello to my little community.  I hope everyone had a happy Easter and got lots of goodies and spent the day with the people that they love.  I was blessed enough to add to my collection with a few new yards of fabric and a new vintage cookbook from family but I'll get into all of that tomorrow.  Have a wonderful night.
Till Later!


April 22, 1952 - Guide to Freezing

I'm sure that my regular readers remember that on a trip that I made to the Flea Market recently I picked up this delightful instructional guide from Amana.  The original print came out in 1954 but this one does not have a date but when I looked into it the inner pages look nearly identical and the content is exactly the same, the only difference is the cover really so that is the date that I will go with for dating sake.
As I have said before I live alone and do most of my shopping once a week on Thursdays, which is the day that I get paid.  As I'm sure that most of you know it is normally cheaper to buy meat in larger packages and then divide them yourself instead of buying only one serving at a time, therefore I regularly have a full freezer.  Not as full as the ones that you would find in a refrigerator ad from the 50's but still full to the point where I can't fit much else in it.
This brings to mind all of the things besides meat that I buy.  Like tomato sauce or products.  You just cannot buy these in single servings and if you could I'm sure they would be a fortune.  I have always been curious about what you can and what you cannot freeze so this book is quite perfect for me.  I have only read a few pages so far but I am very interested to read the rest.
For example I just found out that if you are going to use them in the next month you can freeze whole tomatoes as long as they are placed without any coverings until they are completely frozen and they have to be firm tomatoes not soft ones.
There is also within it's pages a guide to blanching and freezing vegetables so that they turn out like the ones that you but in the store. Plus beef can last more than 12 months in the freezer but sliced bacon lasts no more than 2-4 months.  Another thing that I wasn't aware of is that you can freeze cheese.  I suppose I should have known this but I didn't.  I always assumed something would happen to it.
I'll let you know more as I learn more.
Till Later!


April 21, 1952 - A Sad Day In My Life

I'm sorry that I haven't written in a dew days but yesterday we buried one of my favorite people in the world.  Hubby-to-be's grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer on Monday and the funeral was yesterday.  In the five years that we have been together, his grandfather became my grandfather and he was the funniest, most caring and honest man that I have ever known.  My grandfather (my mother's father) was the only father figure that I ever knew.  I physically and mentally shut down when he died eleven years ago from liver cancer.  He was everything to me at the time.  To lose another man that I really cared about and loved is a lot for the heart to bear. So this is why I haven't written in a few days.

Rest In Peace
Grandpa Schweitzer
1937 - 2011

He was someone that very much grew up in the 50's.  He served in the Navy during the Korean war and married his wife in 1958.  They met at a movie theater in 1954 when she was 16 years old, where she went with her girlfriend and he apparently told his friend that he had seen her first and right before he died (she told me) he told her that he loved her from the moment he saw her at the theater.  He proposed 3 years later the night before he was shipped out to Hawaii for 6 months.  Looking at it in print makes it look like a real dream come true.

Back to life now I suppose.  After a few weeks of having to put it aside I finally finished the Christmas skirt.  It had to be taken apart and re-worked four times.  I wasn't happy with the waist band (it kept twisting), then I hated the zipper (there was a gap between it and the button), and then the pleating was all wrong.  All I have to do now is hem it and be done with it.  However I recently looked up a tutorial on making fabric Poinsettias and I think that I might add a white one to the hip of the skirt for Christmas Day which is when I plan on wearing it.  I think that my next project is going to me a pencil skirt that will be made from the purple wool that I have in my teeny tiny stash although I am going to have to order some purple lining.  I don't think that this skirt will work without lining.

By the way have any of you ever worked with the Lutterloh pattern system?  I was given the books for 1936, 1938, 1941, 1954, 1955 and 1969.  However, all I got were the books so I have no idea how the system really works.  I know that there are a few blogs out there that do sew alongs and the like but no one really can help me make these books work for me and when I look on E-bay for the rest of the kit I see prices from $40 for the cheapest to $110.  Being on a budget I just can't afford that.  If anyone has any suggestions or a way that I can just use a regular dress making measuring tape I would be much obliged.
Till Later!


April 18, 1952 - 20 Really Pretty Dresses

One of the things that I love the most about the 50's is the fashion.  It is probably the first thing that made me start to think about doing this project in the first place.  I wanted to be able to dress like a fifties housewife and then I started looking into what a fifties housewife really was and what she did and it just went from there.  I spent the day looking at all sorts of fashion from the 40's and 50s and was, of course as I always am, inspired to get to work on a few creations.
Here are some of those inspirational pictures:

 There were at least 2 dozen other dresses that I loved.  There is nothing more that I would love than to have this wardrobe.  I think I'm going to keep this one short and sweet today.
Till Later!


April 7, 1952 - A Discussion of Houseplants

Last night before bed I sat and was reading through the pages of one of my Better Homes books.  It was Better Homes and Gardens Garden Book to be exact.
I have dreamed of a beautiful garden for a very long time but it is just not in the works for right now.  I live in a city where, although we have parks, not very many people have a back yard.  I live six stories up so a garden is pretty out of the realm of possibility.  So the question now is what is the next best thing.  That is houseplants!
My poor family is not known for having a green thumb.  My grandfather could grow tomatoes like there is no tomorrow but couldn't grow grass to save his life.  My aunt just looks at a plant and it dies.  She must spend two hundred dollars a year trying to get her garden to look pretty but it only lasts a few days before it just dies.  I have only had maybe two plants in my care for my entire life.  One of them I was a teenager and it just died from neglect and the other was one that my mother received from someone while she was in the hospital and that was an ivy plant and honestly I have to say, it just wouldn't die.  Without any care at all, not even watering, it lived for nearly a year.  (Who wants a reminder that they were in the hospital for three months.)
I have looked through the pages of this book more than once but have never really read it.  Even last night I didn't sit there and study anything.  It was just some light looking before I nod off.  But one thing that I did notice is that not too many houseplants flower.  That is really what I want.  I want a bright bloom of flowers in my house all the time.  Really who wouldn't want to be greeted with a bright bloom on the kitchen table or in the bathroom.  I was even thinking of seasonal looking flowers on top of the television.  As far as that is concerned however I believe that I will have to go the artificial route.
One or two species of houseplant did catch my eye.  I have picture windows so there is plenty of room for light.  The first one is begonias.  However, they are a floor plant and I am not too crazy about the idea of a pot of dirt on the floor that I can knock over.  I am nothing if not clumsy.
The other is the African Violet.  I have never been a big fan of purple but there is just something about the vibrancy of it that I just can't deny.  They require light but artificial can be used in a pinch which works for me.  You also should cluster them together to make them almost look like a bush which makes for a beautiful plant in bloom.  The only big problem is that when it blooms it might not match anything else in the house.  Although I do think that I have made the decision to go with a few green houseplants and some artificial flowers that can simply be taken out and cleaned once in a while.
I guess that I have rambled about houseplants for long enough.  I suppose that everyone is getting into the planting mood since spring is just around the corner.  (Technically it's spring by date but the weather hasn't improved from winter conditions quite yet.  It's still supposed to rain nearly everyday for the next week, maybe longer.)  I have a laundry list of things to do today so I best get to it.
Till Later!


April 6, 1952 - Talk of the Sea

On the 4th I mentioned that I was probably going to be having salmon for dinner, however, I did not.  I had salmon last night and I will probably never have it again.  I work in the seafood department of the store in which I got the fish from so I know it was fresh and still it tasted terrible.
About a three months ago I had to go through a seminar at work all about different kinds of fish and where they come from.  They explained that there really are two types of people in the world.  Those with less sensitive taste buds that like the taste of stronger fish like salmon and trout, and there are those with more sensitive taste buds that can only handle the lighter white fishes like haddock, cod and flounder.  I am one of the latter.  All I could taste was mud, fish and the ingredients that I used to mask the flavor.  I tried to make a brown sugar and cracked pepper salmon which usually sells for about eight dollars a serving at work.  I think next time I will just stick to what I know I like.  One fish that many people don't know about but is very delicious to those of us that are sensitive to the fishy taste is Skatewing.  It is from the stingray family, in fact is is a ray just not the kind you would find at your local aquarium.  It's one of those foods that I can't think about what it is or I just won't eat it.  However, pan seared with a little drizzle of lemon butter.  Yummmmm.  I would recommended it to anyone that would like to try something new.
I just wanted to tell you about one thing that I found while out vintage shopping the other day that I had forgotten.  You see I have a pair of vintage 1954 pearls from my grandmother.  They were given to her by her mother as a gift on her wedding day and before she passed away she gave them to me but I must admit I have only worn them on a few occasions.  They are very fragile since they are so old.  The string that they are one is a little stretched and somewhat fraying and the last thing I want to do is be out somewhere and have my precious little pearls fall all over the floor.  I would be devastated.  Therefore, over the last month or so I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a new set.  Well while I was at our local flea market the other day I spotted what I thought to be a vintage set.  Would you believe that they even still had their tags on them from over fifty years ago. 
Since that task was accomplished I was then on to find a set of earrings to match.  I didn't really care if they were real or not as long as they were the same color as the pearls in the necklace.  This meant that they just couldn't be bleach white.  I had no luck by the way.  But . . . while out that day at the local mall, hubby to be bought me the most beautiful pair of real fresh water pearl earrings to go with my necklace.  Aren't I just the luckiest girl.
Oh and speaking of being a lucky girl.  Our wedding rings arrived in on Sunday.  Mine fits perfectly however, I am glad that we tried them on because his does not!  Their sizing was very wrong, by four sizes.  They said that he was a 10. While at the mall we had him sized again so that we can have his sent back out to be fixed and he is in fact a size 8 (10, 9 1/2, 9, 8 1/2)  four sizes over what he was said to be.  Grumble, grumble, grumble.  This means another few weeks before we are set for that part of the wedding.  Now if we could only decide where to have it.
Till Later!


April 4, 1952 - Just a Normal Day

After three very busy weeks I finally have a day to get back to what I consider a normal schedule.  Not that I've really gotten a normal schedule down yet no matter how much I would like to.
 I went out vintage shopping yesterday and found a few things of interest.  I got a wonderful deal on two vintage crocheting books both from 1952.  Not that I'm going to be having a baby this year or anything but we have talked about after we are married starting to try and some of the outfits in the Wardrobe Tricks are just too cute and in the Gallery of Crochet and Knitting there is a pattern for a dusting mitt.  Who couldn't use a dusting mitt?
On another note, to get back to my first couple of lines, today is a very normal day so I think that I am going to try to get some work done.  I have a whole pile of laundry that needs to be tackled and a brand new ironing board to break in.  After the debacle of trying to iron hubby-to-be's bleach white dress shirt on the kitchen table I will never go without an ironing board again.  I am also going to finally get that darn skirt finished.  I have been putting it off and putting it off and now I would like to put it behind me.  I will also be trying out some of the stitches that are explained in my sewing book.
Dinner is going to be probably salmon or shrimp that have been steamed with some vegetables and rice.  Lunch may even be tomato lace quiche if I get around to making it.
Till Later!


April 2, 1952 - A Full Day of Work Ahead

This is a very honest title.  I have work for most of the day.  A lot of people decided that they wanted today off for some reason and now I am stuck spending my entire Saturday at work.  Then it is home for a quick nap then out to dinner and on to the Drive-In.  It's the first weekend that the drive-in is open for the season.  As I have said before, hubby-to-be and I area huge fans of the drive-in and although it is still rather cold to be going out for it, we will take a blanket, pop some popcorn at home and go see the movies.  It's more the experience that I go for.  I know that there are not too many people that get to go to drive-ins these days and it is a fifties tradition that I am lucky enough to have two of within driving distance.
I'm sure that I mentioned this last year but, one of them even shows old horror movies on Halloween.  We went last year and it was a lot of fun.  We were seeing a drive-in movie just as they would have back then.  It was really one of those realistic moments in the project.  I must go now because both home and work-work await. 
Till Later!


April 1, 1952 - Not So Crazy About April Fools Day

I don't like April Fools Day.  I think it's terrible to play tricks on one another and then be able to get away with it because it's a special day out of the year so you won't be hearing me make anymore references to it today.
Now, I have been on a mission for the last month to lose weight to fit into all of those beautiful fifties clothes that I have been planning.  I have quite a bit more to go but I am finally have success.  In the past month I have taken off nearly fifteen pounds and lost over an inch from my waist, not too shabby for 31 days. 
One of the main things that I did was to cut out most of my desserts, not all, I still have dessert twice a week or so, but on the rest of the days I have fruit with dinner.  The other thing is that I started to limit what I ate to the actual serving size.  They may look small but when you pair it with larger amounts of vegetables and fruits, they are much easier to swallow.
Last night I started studying my Simplicity Sewing Book.  It turns out that there is a whole lot of terms that I do not know about sewing.  The first one right off the bat was the fact that they call the edge of the material the selvage.  I had heard that term before but really had no idea what it meant.  It has a lot to do with the grain of the material.  It also had a very nifty color guide that helps you pick the colors that work best for your hair/eyes combination.  It turns out pastel pinks, yellows, purples and blues are best for me.  As well as real gold tones.  I find that funny considering I probably would never really wear gold tones.  Maybe I will have to make one or two evening dresses in that color just to see how they would look.
The other graph that was in the book was which silhouette is best to hide the parts that you are looking to hide.  I would say that the part that I would like to hide the most are my wider hips and hind end.  Nothing is more unattractive than when I am making a skirt or dress and after I put in the pleats it has a bubble over my butt.
Speaking of sewing projects as of late I must admit that I have been a bit discouraged.  I have not made anything yet that has been perfect on the first shot.  I have had to rip it apart and re-do it every time.  That is very upsetting to someone that used to make most of her own clothes.  I have not done so in about thirteen years so I am VERY out of practice and my body has changed quite a bit since then by height and width.  I will just start reading up a bit more on sewing and try, try, try.  I have to go to work now and today is the first day of Phillies baseball of which as a couple we are a little obsessed.  I think I might do a post about the 52' team a little later in the season.
Till Later!