Sparkling Vintage Fiction. Among other things.

Housekeeping

If I had a hammer . . .

feminine tool kitOn this snowy Saturday morning, I’ve been enjoying an old (1909) copy of a ladies’ magazine. In particular, I’m noticing how often the writers encourage homemakers to create something, do-it-yourself style, instead of encouraging them to go out and buy something.

For example, one tip says, “Floor cleaning is made much easier if one will take a piece of a two-inch board about twelve inches square or large enough to set a pail on; bore holes about one and one-half inches from each corner and insert casters. The pail may then be pushed from place to place with the foot, and saves much lifting. Such a device may also be used for many purposes, such as moving heavy jars of meat and barrels of apples in the cellar or kitchen.”

Today, the advice would certainly be to purchase a brand-new rolling bucket or cart.

Another hint says, “For a cheap and serviceable wash-stand in the kitchen, take two orange or lemon boxes with partitions and nail them together lengthwise. A curtain of dark silkoline [fabric] and a piece of oilcloth on top complete it. In this way, one has four handy little shelves in which to keep small articles necessary in the kitchen.”

What? No enticement to go out and purchase a new piece of furniture?

To be sure, the magazine does contain ads for many products. But I found it interesting how the editors also kept in mind the homemaker on a budget, and also assumed she possessed some degree of skill with a tool kit. Refreshing! And makes me think I should start brushing up on my own next-to-nonexistent carpentry skills.

Fall Housecleaning (31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 2)

cleaning mirrorYou thought spring cleaning was over? Welcome to fall cleaning! According to Mrs. Dunwoody’s Excellent Instructions for Housekeeping by Miriam Lukken, here’s what the diligent housekeeper takes care of in the fall:

Clean and clear out cellar and attic.
Wash all blankets and sun the heavy quilts.Clean, mend, and put by furs, thick clothes, winter hats, and winter bedding.
Replace summer curtains with winter drapes.
Remove, clean, and store summer slipcovers.
Wax the furniture.
Clean lamps and shades.
Hang carpets for a good beating and then sun them for a day.
Sun and air mattresses and pillows.
Turn mattresses.

Cheryl Mendelson, in her housekeeping tome Home Comforts, adds these tasks:

Wash mirrors.
Clean the oven.
Wax floors.
Wash or wax woodwork.
Organize used drawers, cabinets, closets.
Dust blinds and shades, door tops, and other hard-to-reach areas where dust may collect.
Wash windows, storm windows, and screens.
Clean blades of ceiling fans.
Remove out-of-season clothing from closet, clean and store it, replace with seasonal clothing.
Clean and polish gems, jewelry, silver, brass, copper.
Have the piano tuned.
Vacuum books.
Move and clean underneath heavy appliances and furniture.

Mendelson writes, “Fall cleaning is an excellent way to usher in the holiday season with its extra entertaining. You can do a fall cleaning instead of or in addition to a spring cleaning. Or you can do an additional fall cleaning in some years and not in others. . . . Fall cleaning should be done . . . typically in September and, at least in the cooler climates, no later than mid-October.” She adds that, during a full seasonal cleaning, “you should plan on having no guests and doing only light cooking.”

 

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