woensdag 27 februari 2013

I Love Being Home

Some time ago I came across a blog of a lady who wrote about herself that she loves being home because there are always so many nice things to do. Strange enough, she is probably in the minority as a lot of women nowadays seem to be unable to find an occupation at home. Well, may be watching television and posting Facebook updates, but outside of it, not so much. They'd rather be anywhere but not in their own house. The Holy Scriptures, however, teach the Christian women to be the keepers at home, so I decided that it would be a good idea to share some suggestions on what actually can be done at home.

First of all, the actual housekeeping. There will be some women who'll tell you that there is nothing to do around the house. Coincidentally, they also always have very messy houses, because they actually don't really clean. The housekeeping standards have become very lax in our days. There was a time not so long ago, when you were supposed to vaccuum every day and to wash all the windows every two weeks. Though vacuuming every day may seem extreme, three times a week for an average house with kids and pets is a practically a must.

Housekeeping , of course, is not only about cleaning the house, doing laundry and washing the floors. It's also about planning, organising, saving, dealing with clutter, budgeting etc. Then there is shopping for food and cooking. If you use fresh ingredients in your cooking and try to be a little more sophisticated than the average, it will take you a lot of time. Add baking to the mix, and there is work enough around the house.

Then there are creative hobbies, such as knitting, crocheting, sewing or quilting. Some women also spin and dye and weave, though most of us probably won't go so far. Making clothes for yourself and your children is not only fun, it also helps you save money as fabric can be bought rather cheap. Embroidery is a good way to spend your free time and you are creating something of value which you can pass over to your children and grandchildren. I, for instance have some great embroidered table runners from my Granny.

There will be some people who will tell you that it's practically sinful for a homemaker to relax and enjoy herself while being at home, if she has some free time she must be working at some money-making enterprise. Some women do enjoy it, and others have to help to make both ends meets, but generally, if your husband makes a decent living and money is not the issue, why not just enjoying life? If you spend half an hour sitting in the garden and reading a book, or watching a nice film, there is nothing wrong with it.

Other creative ways to spend your free time are taking music lessons, drawing, writing stories, gardening, flower arrangement and practising hospitality. Women are social creatures and modern life isolates us in our apartments. Instead of having a thousand friends on Facebook whom you never see, why not cultivate a couple of friendships in real life? You could invite your neighbours or mothers you meet at school to drink a cup of tea with you. The point is, to have a real relationship with people, you need to invest your time into it, and time is something modern women don't have.

The Bible teaches us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Nowadays people tend to be obsessed with the financial well-being to the point of excluding anything else. If you perform a job at the minimum wage level which you don't need to do because your husband is the director of a bank, you will be called a heroine, but if you stay home and take a couple of hours to drink tea with your friends, people will look funny at you and call you names behind your back. I think that people are more important than material possessions. Originally, women were the first real community organisers and social workers because they invested in relationships with others. Let your husband make the living and make life worth living. You won't regret it.

maandag 25 februari 2013

Sarabande by G.F. Handel



George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany in 1685 and lived to be 74 years of age. It was his father's second marriage, as his first wife who had been 12 years his senior, had died 3 years before.The composer's father was 63 when his son was born and by profession he was a barber-surgeon, though he had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Unfortunately, his own father's death prevented him from getting the necessary education, but he was determined that his son would study law.

Young George Frideric, however, had other plans and finally with the help of Duke Johann Adolf I persuaded his father to allow him to take music lessons. After his father's death, Handel went to University in accordance with his late father's wishes but music finally won from law and Handel began his long and successful musical career.

He travelled to Italy where he spent some years but later moved to England and even became a naturalised British subject. Handel spent the rest of his life there. His works enjoyed great success and when he died, he got a funeral with full state honours. George Frideric was not only a composer, but a businessman who started three commercial opera companies and tried his hand at stock market speculations. He also assisted various charities and even became the governor of the Foundling Hospital. Since Handel stayed unmarried, after his death his estate went to relatives, servants, friends and charities.

Handel was always esteemed highly by his fellow composers, and Beethoven called him "the greatest composer that ever lived." If you want to know more about him, you can read it here . His most famous work is the oratorio Messiah which is still yearly performed during the Christmas season. For those interested, here is another version of Sarabande which uses the video material from the Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews.

zondag 24 februari 2013

Moral Courage

This post is a sequel to that one, which discusses what constitutes good character, according to "Fascinating Womanhood" author Helen Andelin. In the chapter 16 "A Worthy Character" she discusses several essential virtues, starting with self-control. Another virtue discussed at length in the book is moral courage and that's what I want to talk about today.

The book defines moral courage as "the courage to do what is right, at the risk of unpleasant or even painful consequences" (p218, Bantam Books, 1992). In other words, moral courage means you should always do the right thing, no matter the consequences. In the classic story "Kidnapped" by R.L. Stevenson, an innocent man is framed for murder in a political show trial, and the main character David, who is himself only 18, declares his determination to testify on his behalf, to which his lawyer friend objects pointing out that if David interferes in what essentially is a political intrigue, he may very well be hanged himself. The following dialogue ensues:

'In that case, sir...I would just have to be hanged - would I not?'
'My dear boy,' cries he, 'go in God's name, and do what you think is right...Go and do you duty; and be hanged if you must, like a gentleman. There are worse things in the world than to be hanged.' (p.219, Wordsworth Classics, 1993).

In everyday life having moral courage will likely not demand you risking your life. It can be something as simple as sticking to your convictions in the face of  peer pressure and ridicule. Peer pressure, unfortunately, is not only something which teenagers experience at school. Housewives often suffer an enormous amount of pressure to join the workforce or they have to defend their decision to stay home even to their close relatives, sometimes sisters or mothers. It takes moral courage to go against the current.

While discussing defending your convictions. Mrs Andelin gives us an example of early Christian martyrs and reminds us that "Mankind has fought and died to defend principles they believe in."  (p. 219).

Another way in which we all need moral courage is when we have done something wrong. It takes moral courage to admit your mistake, or may be even a crime. "Sometimes, consequences are serious - humiliation, disgrace, punishment, fines, or even imprisonment." (F.W., p.219). The correct thing to do, however, is to admit your wrong and to "...clear yourself before God and man." (p.219-220).

To sum it up, moral courage means doing something right despite possible negative consequences. I think it was best expressed by Mr Knightley: 'There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do, if he chuses, and that is, his duty...' Jane Austen "Emma", Penguin Books, 1994, p.112).

zaterdag 23 februari 2013

Saturday News And Some Links

It's cold outside, again. The temperature hasn't risen above the freezing point for the whole day. The weather forecast predicted snow, and our central heating system broke down:( Well, at least we still have warm water in the house, and this old gas heater in the living-room which we had to turn on. It's amazing that the thing dates back to the 1930s and still works while the boiler from the central heating was only twenty years old. They don't make them like this any more:)

As you see, we are still keeping a stiff upper lip and enjoying ourselves despite the circumstances:) There is something primeval in sitting in front of the roaring fire, even if it's burning behind the glass, and with my knitting needles in my hands I practically felt myself a Victorian. Speaking of knitting, here is a great site for all those who knit:

Knitting Pattern Central,

a huge online directory of free knitting patterns. That's where I found the pattern for the skirt I'm currently working at. For those who like crochet, there is a sister site as well:

Crochet Pattern Central

In other news, Laura Wood announces the creation of The American Traditionalist Society , The Orthosphere discusses Women Soldiers, Happy Housewife encourages childless women to stay home, and Britain loses its AAA credit rating. While browsing the links, please keep in mind the obligatory disclaimer .

I want to wish you all a blessed Lord's Day.

donderdag 21 februari 2013

Things Ma Ingalls Didn't Do

For those who don't know, Ma Ingalls is a character from a series of children's books about the life of the American pioneers and of a TV series "The Little House On The Prairie", and she is often used as an example of a housewife. I must add that as I haven't watched the TV series, I base all my knowledge about her life on the books themselves.

Why writing about Ma Ingalls? She was an average American housewife in the times when it was normal for married women to stay home even if they were childless, she worked hard and created a warm and cosy home for her family, and she is still a source of inspiration for at least some, modern women. Homemakers have even been accused of living in the fantasy world and wishing to copy the "Little House On The Prairie" lifestyle.

On the other hand, a lot of people will admit that, yes, Ma Ingalls was productively busy and her homemaking role was essential to the well-being of her family, but it was then, in those good/bad old times. Nowadays, they argue, we have a dishwasher and a vaccuum cleaner and running water, so there is no reason for the existance of a housewife.

And thus, dear reader, I decided it was a good idea to create a list of things which Ma Ingalls didn't have to do, but which are the reality in life of most modern homemakers.

For the most part of the story, Ma Ingalls and her family live in small houses, sometimes consisting of only one room. For instance in Part 3 of the series, "On The Banks Of Plum Creek", in the beginning they live in a small dugout. So Ma Ingalls didn't have to vacuum a 3 storeyed house.

Ma Ingalls didn't have indoor plumbing so there were no bathroom tiles and sanitary facilities to maintain. Ma Ingalls didn't bring her children to school or homeschool them. They walked 3 miles to town and stayed at school for lunch. She didn't have to go and fetch them, feed them lunch and then bring back to school. Ma Ingalls didn't have to do daily shopping as her husband went to town for supplies once in a while or sometimes they would go together.

She had a vegetable garden, and worked in it, but if a family have a garden, its maintenance still mostly falls to the woman, and though most people nowadays grow flowers instead of vegetables, gardening is still work and anyway, nobody stops you from growing your own (organic!) vegetables if you desire so.

It's true that Ma Ingalls made her own clothes and washed without the washing machine. It's also true, that in those times people had 1 outfit for the whole week so there was less to wash, and the children helped more than they are generally doing now. Nowadays most women I know wash every day and since the cleanliness standards rose they always have tons of washing. Also, it's still possible to make your own clothes if you wish to.

Ma Ingalls' children played outside the whole day when not at school. Often they would take their little sister with them. Ma Ingalls didn't have to watch them constantly for their safety. She didn't have to arrange playdates for them. She didn't bring them to various activities like music lessons. Ma Ingalls didn't have to visit or care for sick relatives since there were none living close to them. She didn't volunteer in the church. She didn't have to do things for the school.

Ma Ingalls didn't have to deal with the modern hideous amounts of paperwork of any sorts. She didn't clip coupons or watch out for sales. They had very little cash anyway so there was no bookeeping to be done. She didn't have to deal with repairmen or bring the car to the garage. She didn't have to bring her children to the dentist's appointments or the like. She baked her own bread, it's true, but there are still countless women who are doing the same. And oh yes, she washed the dishes without a dishwasher. Well, so do I.

I'm sure there were countless other things which Ma Ingalls didn't do which I can't remember at the moment, but I think you get a general point. Keep in mind, that I was not trying to prove that Ma Ingalls was lazy or not working hard enough. Of course she did, and the same is true for the modern housewife as well. Modern life simply is different in some aspects, but though certain chores disappeared we have the new ones in their place.

That's why an argument that a dishwasher makes the housewife obsolete is silly beyond belief.





dinsdag 19 februari 2013

Taken At The Flood

Tante is one of the ladies who lunch. So today I ate lunch at my friend's and then we spent some time visiting different shops where my friend bought a new skirt, and myself, being of a rather intellectual nature went for another Agatha Christie story. I bought it in a second-hand shop and it cost me all of the 1 euro.

When I came home I right away started reading and I regret to tell you that the book was so thrilling that it caused dereliction of duty in our household, but at 10 p.m. I finally finished it. The book is titled Taken At The Flood/There Is A Tide and it was originally published in 1948 while the events described chiefly take place in 1946.

Just like in most Agatha Christie mysteries there is one person in the story whom everybody hates - the rich young golddigger of a widow whose unexpected marriage with a much older childless widower brings his whole family into financial troubles, especially after his untimely death during an air strike, without leaving a testament.

The tension in the village where the consequent events take place grows when it becomes generally known that the first husband of the lady in question is probably not dead, which means that her second marriage was not valid and she has no right to the money at all...

 In addition to this we have also a love triangle between a pretty self-assured girl, her boring farmer fiance and a dashing stranger of a war hero. Luckily, Hercule Poirot interferes just on time to prevent a crime, solve the mystery and bring the lovers together. The justice triumphs and the murderer gets his deserved lot on the gallows.

I feel the need to warn those of you who are politically correct minded, that it has its own typically English xenophobic minor character who doesn't like Americans whether black or white and in general all the foreigners but who nevertheless, makes an astute observation that it was probably not such a good idea of the government to force women to work in the factories and leave their teeenage daughters without any supervision. In short, that was quite an amusing book in the typical Agatha Christie style and it will take its deserved place in my collection.

maandag 18 februari 2013

Taking Care Of Azalea


My dear husband never fails to remind me that the lady of the house must have two chief interests outside the normal housekeeping: taking care of plants and emroidery:) Under embroidery he understands all sorts of handwork and since one of my previous posts was about knitting, today it's the turn of the houseplants.

Azalea belongs to the genus Rhododendron but is smaller and it has been cultivated for hundreds of years. In China it was so important, that some poet dedicated his verses to it, and it is also one of the symbols of the city of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Japan, Korea and United States all have flower festivals celebrating the blooming of azalea, but with all its beauty. the plant is also highly toxic and according to Wikipedia its bouquets were used as a death threat. (Read the whole article on Azalea here ).

Azaleas prefer the room temperature about +20*C and slightly higher, however, if the room is cooler, it will bloom longer. The plant doesn't like dark rooms, but the direct sunlight and draught should be avoided. Instead of watering it, twice a week place it in a bucket of water and let it stay there for about 15 minutes.

Taking care of your azalea and other houseplants is easy to combine with listening to some nice music, such as this:


zaterdag 16 februari 2013

Cold War Fashions

To continue with the Cold War topic, below is a very funny commercial featuring Soviet fashion shows, or rather American ideas about them:



Isn't it rather sad that though nowadays there is plenty of choice on what to wear, most women prefer day in day out to adorn themselves with a garment which was originally designed as overalls and what has essentially become the Western variant of a Mao Suit:

vrijdag 15 februari 2013

Friday News And Some Pictures

Yesterday was St. Valentine's Day, so I hope that you all had nice time with your loved ones. Since it was our wedding anniversary as well, we celebrated it by going to a restaurant. The winter returned this week and we had quite a bit of snow, but today the sun is shining, the snow is chiefly gone and spring is in the air!

I finally finished knitting the front part of a skirt I started working on last year:

Long skirts seem to have been out of fashion lately, but for the old hippi like me it makes no difference:) Actually, the skirt is part of a matching set and it's supposed to look like this. It will be my third knitted skirt and I'm using acrylic yarn for it which was not expensive at all. The first skirt I ever knitted was this:

And then last year I made another one:


It was supposed to be the lower part of a dress, but the pattern was so darn difficult that I decided to change it into a skirt, and I haven't regretted it since.

It's that time of the year again, so the cat has been running wild, eating next to nothing and hanging outside with other disreputable characters. His head is covered with wounds, and the only thing he wishes is to be left alone, like this:


Well, that's about all the news I have at the moment, or at least those I want to share:) We are currently dealing with sickness in the family so I had no mental energy for any serious topic. I wish you all a nice weekend!.

woensdag 13 februari 2013

Is Socialism Effective?

How does the socialist system work? Here is the answer. Of course, they were mocking Soviet Union in the clip, but the modern bureacratic welfare state is often not much different. For instance, someone I know had to undergo a simple medical test three times, because the first time they could not get it right, or as I said to my husband, "Next time - definite!"

dinsdag 12 februari 2013

Something Sweet For Tea Time

This week I tried an interesting cake recipe, it turned out well and was easy to make. For this cake, you need yeast dough. I used the following recipe:

2pkg dry yeast
1/2c warm water
1tbsp + 1/3c sugar
1c warm milk
1/3c butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
ab. 4c flour

Dissolve yeast in water, stir in 1tbsp sugar and set apart for appr. 5 min. Then add warm milk, softened butter (I dissolved mine in milk while warming it), eggs, salt, 3c flour and the rest of sugar. Beat for about 2 min, then stir enough flour to make a soft dough (I added 1c + 2 or 3 tbsp). It must be sticky, and you don't have to knead it. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge for the night.

Next morning take it out and punch the dough down, then turn it onto a lightly floured surface and divide in two (you can cut the amount of the ingredients in the recipe in half or just use the second half for something else. I froze mine.)

Roll it out, not too thin and place onto the baking sheet, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 till 2 hours. Spread filling over it. I used the jar of strawberry jam. Then sprinkle with topping. To make the topping, I placed ab. 50g butter in the feeezer for some time, then rasped it and added appr. 4 tablespoons of flour and 1 or 2 tbsp of sugar.

I baked the cake at 200*C for 20 min, then lowered the temperature to ab. 190*C and baked 15 more minutes and it came out somewhat too dry to my taste, and the corners browned too much, so the next time I'm planning to bake it for 30 min at lower temperature, but of course, it depends on your oven.

This cake tastes good by a cup of coffee after dinner, or serve it when drinking tea with your family or friends.

maandag 11 februari 2013

The Blue Danube

Last Monday it was Johann Strauss the father, today it's the turn of Johann Strauss the son, so here it comes, The Blue Danube Waltz by the Vienna Philharmonic:

zaterdag 9 februari 2013

On The Usefulness Of Second-hand Stores

In our city we have a couple of second-hand shops, where you can buy all sorts of things, such as books, furniture, clothes and even bicycles and computers. As life gets more expensive, the amount of their customers keeps growing. Being somewhat of a miser  model housewife, I keep visiting them hunting chiefly for old books. With years, I have collected quite a library and I seldom pay more than 1 euro for a book. There is always an element of a thrill because one never knows what literary masterpiece he can come across.

Some of the furniture in our house also comes from a second-hand store, for instance, this cabinet:

It's made of  high quality solid oak, but was quite inexpensive.


I'm rather prejudiced against buying second-hand clothes, mostly due to my husband's opinion on this matter, but I will make an exception if I find some quality item. Only this week I went on a treasure hunt and dug out this cute little skirt which I was wearing today while performing my housewifely duty:


Nice clothes don't have to cost you a fortune! My relationship with the second-hand shops tends to be reciprocal as through the years I also donated some things there. Though I'm not an environmentalist, something definitely can be said in defence of re-using and recycling, if only from the point of view of saving money.

If you accumulated some unnecessary stuff such as books, DVDs, clothes, children's toys etc etc think twice before throwing them away. If there is no second-hand store nearby, you may have a friend who will be happy to get them. Nowadays people are always busy with donating to charities overseas, some of which are actually quite phony (how comes that the CEOs of those charities all earn  six-figure salaries?), but I believe that charity begins at home.

donderdag 7 februari 2013

Household Accounts

So how is a housewife supposed to manage her budget? A simple and effective way to keep track of and eventually reduce your expenses is to keep the household accounts. I'll give a suggestion on how to do it using the example of the grocery money.

Let's say that a housewife Mrs A. gets 120 euros from her husband every week for her grocery shopping. She will write down in her ledger: Week 1 of the year 2013 - 120 euros.  She then proceeds to divide the money into 6 categories.

Meat and Fish                                                                                              20 euros
Vegetables and Fruit                                                                                    20euros
Milk, butter, milk products + butter substitutes                                              20euros
MIscellaneous articles such as cookies, jam, veg. oil and fast food                 20euros
Grain products such as bread, pasta, rice                                                      20euros
Non-perishables such as toilet paper, soap or pet food                                  20 euros


Every time Mrs A. goes to the store, she will save the receipt and later write down in her ledger the amount of money spent in each category, subtracting it from the whole, like this:

Meat and Fish
      20.00
-       5.00 (steak)
                               
       15.00  etc etc.

By the end of the week, Mrs A. will look how much money was left in every category, add it together and compare with the actual amount of money in her wallet. Ideally, it must be the same.

So, let's suggest that Mrs A. has saved 10 euros during the first week of 2013. Next week, she will add this amount to the last category, Non-perishables, and will thus get 30 euros instead of 20, which will enable her to buy a pair of lace stockings or to take her child to MacDonalds, or to lunch out with a girlfriend.

I gave an example of a weekly budget because it's easier to explain, but if you want to maximise your profits from various sales, it's better to have a two- or three-weekly budget. Since you will have more money on your hands, you'll be able to stockpile on things which go on sale, such as meat or diapers or toothpaste.

It may be so, that in the country where you live, bread is cheap while vegetables and meat are expensive, so that it will make sense to halve the amount used for bread and to add a part of it to each category, getting something like this:

Meat and Fish                                                                                                         25euros
Vegetables and Fruit                                                                                                25euros
Grain products and Bread                                                                                         10euros

You can divide your grocery money into different categories if by some reason you don't like the ones above. The main secret is once you have worked out your budget, you must stick to it and not exceed the limit. It's easier to achieve if you always pay cash, like I do. Budgeting takes some work, but it's absolutely worth it, and it also enables you to compare prices of the same products in different stores. A penny saved is a penny earned.

I hope this was helpful.

dinsdag 5 februari 2013

The Wife's Budget

I noticed that though my webpage is called A Thrifty Homemaker, so far I haven't written much about money management, so here it comes - the discussion of the wife's budget.

 In many homes the wife manages all the financial issues, pays the bills, deals with mortgages and insurances etc etc. However, the more old-fashioned way to deal with the family finances is to let the husband manage the money, while providing the wife with a household budget, and that's how the things work in our family.

Here again I'd like to quote "Fascinating Womanhood": "...the man has the responsibility to provide the living. Since he is also the leader, it falls to him to manage the money...it is not the wife's responsibility to earn the living, manage the money or worry about it. She should be given a household budget..." (F.W. p146, ed. 1992 Bantam Books).

Further in the chapter, Mrs Andelin explains the meaning of the household budget in more detail. According to her, it must cover "...food, clothing, household goods, personal items, or anything in regular demand..." (p. 147) but not things like furniture or household appliances. This budget is given to the wife monthly or weekly, and should be generous enough so that something is left over, which the wife is allowed to keep and spend as she desires.

The husband then manages the rest of the money, and pays all the bills, such as electricity, or mortgage. He also deals with things like taxes and insurances. In such an arrangement, both husband and wife have their own spheres of financial responsibility. The wife is encouraged to practise thrift and to contribute to family comfort by managing her own budget wisely, and if she is successful, she gets a monetary reward and she is entitled to keep this money for herself.

The husband, on the other hand, manages overall family finances, and should he do it well and have an excess, according to Helen: "he should have the major jurisdiction and final say..." (p. 147) which will give him an incensitive "...to be diligent in his work and increase his income." (idem).

Helen warns her readers that the blurring of roles in marriage such as women contributing to earning an income, or managing overall family finances can cause many problems and increases the level of stress for the wife, which can lead to depression and even a serious illness. I can personally attest to the fact, that Helen's suggestions on separating the financial roles within a marriage work well and if as a homemaker you have to deal with all the family finances and as a result feel overwhelmed, you should probably give the traditional system a try.  Next time I'd like to talk about managing your money as in keeping household accounts. Stay tuned!



maandag 4 februari 2013

Radetzky March



Joseph Count Radetzky von Radetz was born in Bohemia and became an orphan at an early age, getting his first education from his grandfather. After the granfather's death young Joseph continued his education at the Theresa Academy  in Vienna and later joined the Austrian Army, where he quickly made a brilliant career, fighting first against Turks and later, against Napoleon. He was known for his courage and combat skills.

At the age of 39, in 1805 he was promoted to major-general and later to lieutenant field marshal, but his career was put on hold, because Radetzky wanted to reform the army and his zeal earned him a lot of enemies. He finally became  field marshal at the age of seventy and later took part in Italian campaign of 1848-1849, suppressing the insurgency against Austrian rule. The campaign was a success and the Count was made Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia.

Radetzky was considered a fair ruler and a gentleman even by his enemies. He stayed in the saddle till his death at the age of 91, due to an accident. (I seem to have read somewhere that he fell off his horse and broke his hip, but couldn't find mentioning of it in Wikipedia). If you want to know more about him, here is the link to the Wiki article.

Radetzky March was composed by Johann Strauss the father during the revolution of 1848. According to the British TV series about Strauss family, he did it to counterbalance the behaviour of his sons, one of whom joined the revolutionaries, while his eldest son Johann, also a composer, wrote music for them. Whether it's historically true, I'm not sure.

Radetzky March stays popular to this day and  is always played as the last piece of the famous New Year Concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Vienna.

zaterdag 2 februari 2013

What To Wear At Home


Dear reader, I don't presume to tell you what you should wear, as it is a matter of individual taste, I just thought it a good idea to share some suggestions from a couple of old books I own. First comes the guide on etiquette written before WWII on what to wear when and not only  it makes for an interesting read but also gives us an insight into the society of that period.

So according to my book, a well-dressed woman will differentiate between morning and afternoon clothes. In the morning she will wear a simple dress without ornaments, a skirt with a pullover, or a casual blouse. The skirt can be made of expensive fabric, if she can afford it, but it will be simple. It can be worn with a woolen cardigan and low heel shoes. Things not to wear in the morning are high heel shoes, extravagant dresses, lace blouses, silk cardigans etc.

If the lady goes out, she will wear a simple coat, or a two pice suit (a skirt and a jacket) and if it's cold she'll add to it woolen gloves and a scarf. If she goes out in the afternoon, she'll wear a long coat, a two piece suit made of silk, a more dressy frock which can be long or half-long, suede gloves and she will carry a suede bag plus she'll put on high heeled shoes.

The hostess should take effort not to look overdressed compared to her guests, especially if they are less well off.

Another book which I have gives the following advice considering clothes for housework: use a woolen skirt for winter months and a cotton one for summer and when buying clothes try to choose them in one basic colour.

The Fascinating Womanhood author Helen Andelin mentions a housedress which is a cotton dress worn with an apron for housework. Helen also advises the ladies to stress the differences between themselves and men and avoid mannish fabrics, colours and styles. "Extreme feminine styles are full skirts, ruffles, puffed sleeves, gathers and drapes. Use them when in style and appropriate. Even a plain dress is feminine, since it's not part of a man's wardrobe." F.W. p249, Bantam Books 1992).

Mrs Andelin also stresses the importance of modesty reminding the reader that despite "...the wordly emphasis on...scanty clothes, decent men don't respect women who expose too much of their bodies in public...Higher types of civilisation have traditionally been modest. It seems to go with itelligence and refinement." (p. 250).

She adds to it that wearing feminine clothes and being well groomed increases the woman's self esteem and I tend to agree. We seem to live in the times when anything goes, and one of the ways to fight entropy is to take extra care to look as well as possible at any occasion.

vrijdag 1 februari 2013

Friday News Roundup

This week I had one of my Lucy moments. Just like the guy out of the video in the previous post, my dear husband is of opinion that proper ladies should be only interested in fluffy kittens gardening and embroidery, and not worry their pretty little heads about golden standard European politics, so recently he told me to stop worrying about recession and to try and be more like Lucy (Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy, that is). Being a dutiful wife, I watched a couple of Lucy episodes in which she bought herself new dresses and travelled to Italy, and then went to town and bought myself an Italian dress:

It was on sale, for the half of the original price, so it was really a deal. The dress is sleeveless and for more formal occasions I 'm planning to wear it with a cute cardi, but as it's not that warm at our home, I wear it in the evenings with a black blouse underneath.

The cat spent the night outside as usual, came home early in the morning, tore a hole in the garbage bag, dug up the chicken bones from the yesterday dinner and chewed them up. He then installed himself on the dinner table, which is strictly prohibited, and went to sleep. When I came down later in the morning I just could see him jumping off the table. Taking a newspaper, I ran several times around the table trying to give him his just deserts, and when I finally succeeded he went and ate up the remnants of the bone before I could clean the kitchen floor. He spent the rest of the day sleeping on our bed.

I had a visitor this morning and we had a great time gossiping discussing how to make the world a better place, and after she left there was a clogged drain to fix and other housekeeping tasks which needed the homemaker's urgent attention, but I still found time to read the news and that's what I found: a study, according to which men who spend more time doing traditional feminine tasks around the house, report having less... well less intimacy with their wives:) Or in other news, science proves that the sky is blue, the water is wet and the traditional family works best . And now gentle reader, it's tea time at casa di tante so till the next time...