Sunday, 20 May 2018

You say tomato - 1939

In 1939 an Australian woman’s magazine recommend tomatoes have a place on every Australian table. The article cited the high vitamin contents of tomatoes as one of the reasons to keep serving tomatoes. And, as they were easily prepared or quickly cooked the busy housewife, it said, would appreciate serving tomatoes for a meal.

Tomato soup is perhaps one of the easiest to prepare. Very ripe tomatoes, or a can of peeled tomatoes, can be use. I used a can of peeled tomatoes because that was already in the pantry.

If you don't want the skin on the tomatoes cut a cross in the top of them and in a dish pour boiling hot water over them, this will split the skin and it will peel away easily.

Tomato Soup - A can of tomatoes, 1 large onion, 1 garlic clove, bunch of parsley, pinch of thyme and sliced basil leaves for garnish. 

Melt butter, add in garlic clove, lightly cook onion until transparent. Add in the can of tomatoes, chop them down in the pan. Add in herbs and bring to boil. I used a whisked and whisked the soup you can also use a stick blender to break it down. At this point you can add tablespoon of flour and bring to boil, add a cup of milk, then boil again. I didn’t do this but I added grated cheese through the soup and used cheese to garnish. 

I saved up with grated cheese garnished basil and homemade Damper bread.

Serve hot. 

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Friday, 11 May 2018

With Fond Regards - 1939

It's 1939 and I'm looking at greeting cards. Christmas greeting cards were perhaps the most popular. During this time there were a lot of massed produced cards available and often sold in boxed sets. However, a lot of articles were still written in publications describing how to make your own greeting cards.

In this day and age we take electronic-mail for granted but exhibits back in 1939 was also sending voice mail too.

Today, it's easy to reproduce a photo and have it printed on a card and it may seem a modern idea, but  there were articles to show you helpful guidelines to prepare your photos for greeting cards.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Bay Leaf

Bay Leaf
(Laurus nobilis)

Sweet bay

Parts Used:

Aromatic, Culinary flavouring.

The sweet bay is the true laurel of ancient Greece. Its leaves were used to make crowns for triumphant heroes, distinguished poets and victors of the Pythian games at Delphi. The title, Poet Laureate, comes from this use.

In Greek myth, Apollo was pursuing a mountain nymph named Daphne. The gods changed her into a laurel tree to escape him. Apollo consoled himself by weaving a garland from ‘her’ branches and, after this, the tree was held sacred by Apollo.

Cultivating: The Laurus nobilis needs special care in frost areas. It is not a hardy plant for the out-of-doors, but it adds a great deal of charm to an herb garden and will grow well as a tub plant if great care is given it.

The potting mixture must be prepared with 2 parts loam, 2 parts sand, 2 parts peat moss and fertiliser, preferably cow manure.

It prefers a sunny spot and the soil should be kept moist at all times. When frost threatens, the plant should be placed in a protected area.

Harvesting: Like most herbs, bay leaves should be picked in the early morning when they are clean and still fresh from the morning dew but not wet. Place leaves to dry gradually in warm shady spot. When dry but not brittle, arrange the leaves and weight them to flatten them so they do not curl. When completely dried and pressed, pack carefully in tightly covered opaque containers until needed. 

Uses Of The Herb:
Use bay leaves as part of a bouquet garni for soups, stews, and sauces. Add to stocks, marinades and stews, curry, and poached fish. Remove leaves before serving. Place in rice jar to flavour rice. Heat in milk to flavour custards and puddings. Use to flavour vinegar.

Use an infusion of the leaves as a digestive stimulant. Apply infusion to scalp to relieve dandruff. Essential oil is good for massaging sprains and rheumatic pains. Make sure the oil is diluted by mixing it with a ‘carrier oil; such as sweet almond beforehand.

Add a decoction of bay to bath water to tone the skin and relieve aches.

Clipped and trains day trees in tubs are an elegant and traditional decoration for doorways and walls. Use branches in full leaf for wreaths.


Crumble dried leaves into potpourri. Hang branches up to freshen the air.

To make spiced scented coasters:

Bay leaves  
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise

Crush six bay leaves, a couple of cinnamon sticks, some cloves, and star anise with pestle and mortar.
This scented spice mix then can be placed between squares of fabric and sewn in.  The aroma of the crushed spices is released when a warm tea cup or coffee mug is placed on the coasters.

A larger mat can also be made to rest a tea pot on or a hot pan.

(Disclaimer: As always be careful about using herbs. Consult your doctor before use. Never use on small children or pregnant women)

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The Worker Housewife: 1939

In a 1939 Australian newspaper article I found some helpful hints and recipes for the 'Worker Housewife'. It wasn't uncommon for women to be in the workforce at the time. When money was hard to come buy because of the Great Depression, women, were doing what they could to help with the house hold budget. Of course, when 1940 came and the war started, women were a needed force in the workplace. 

It's interesting to note how this recipe uses a lot of eggs and heavy with margarine. 
I don't think many today would think of an omelette meal as a dinner meal or to 'serve friends' when they drop by, but it's a good meal to keep in mind.

I didn't have any kidney meat, but I had some left over chicken. I used the chicken instead and also added in a handful of cheese as well as chopped up tomato. I fried up left over bread starting to go stale to go with the omelette so as not to waste. 
I've had kidney before but not sure about doing it in an omelette. Something I'll try next time when the shopping order is due and I'll add kidney to the meat list.

I hope everyone is having  a good day or evening where ever you are.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Make Vaseline Your Friend - 1939

Vaseline was a favourite for use on the skin during 1939. It had previously been used as late as 1876 and afterwards when it reached popularity the product began to be used for a variety of uses. One useful hint in an article from 1918 suggested: Mildew on leather may be removed by rubbing the affected part with vaseline. 

By 1939, vaseline became part of cosmetic use and for medicinal uses in the same way we use Aloe Vera for burns, scratches, and blemishes. 

What would home be without vaseline? And yet, how many users of vaseline know anything about it’s origin?

On Saturday 8 August, 1934; the inventor of vaseline, Robert Chesebrough, died at the ripe age of ninety six. He was born in London, and spent many years experimenting with the by-product of petroleum before he hit upon the jelly for which he was sure there was a world-wide need for it’s use. Vaseline is a product of Petroleum, from which it is obtained by a system of filtration. It has no taste or smell and has a softness and smoothness making it ideal for using on the skin.

However, neither the public nor the medical professions were convinced they needed any enthusiasm to use the new product. Chesebrough had to fight hard to bring the product into daily use and the turning point came in 1876, when a famous medical journal drew attention to the medicinal value of the jelly, the article suggested it should be given a careful trial. Chesebrough was also a pioneer in the field of advertising, and during electioneering campaigns in the old days he brought up space on election posters, which brought the merits of vaseline before the eyes of thousands of families who never opened a paper. Vaseline became widely accepted and he died a millionaire and one of New Yorks’ largest landowners. Robert Chesebrough, believe in his product so much he ate a spoonful of it every day until his death at the age of 96.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Cottage Journal - 1939

And we are off - Vintage living 1939

I’m heading off to 1939 and a return to ‘vintage living’. I’ve decided to start in this timeline as it is just before the war was announced by Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert G. Menzies in his wartime broadcast and while the Great Depression of the 1930’s was still in effect. Many believe the advent of World War II ended the Great Depression, or at least accelerated the recovery. Still, the era was a time of living where a lot of people were ‘making do’ with what they had and would continue that kind of lifestyle when war with Germany was announced on September 3rd, in the next year of 1940.

Rations were not in effect yet, but items were hard to come by because of the Great Depression.  The value of saving every penny was at the forethought of the Australian homemaker. 

There were still luxuries to be brought. Movie theatres were a popular past time, embroidery, knitting, crochet, and quilting were all in favour as a pastime hobby. 

My mums older sister born in the 40's

Cosmetics was often sold, items such as face powder and lipstick being the most popular; followed by nail polish. Perfumes and soaps were still available and Yardley was advertised in many popular women’s magazines at the time. Lavender was a favourite scent. 

In the kitchen, homemakers were buying luxury cut meats, before the war meant rations to buy cheaper cuts. Vegetables were a main part of the meal. Here too, the homemaker was making sure to save what they could on rising costs and availability. Homes in Australia at this time had the veggie garden out the back and the chook pen to cut down expenditure on the household budget.

The home of 1939 was modern in appearance and there was electricity, fridges, washing machines, fans, and radios in use at the time. Many brought into the ‘buy now, pay later’ plans available. A lot of homes in Australia had the wood stove in the kitchen as well. Not all homes had these items and often women still used the old copper in the laundry before the new washing machines came into use.

My return to the year of 1939 will be a start looking at how the homemaker lived and what they did in their leisure time. It’s a vintage life for me but then I’ve been doing it all along. The garden posts will continue so will the home scents of potpourri and such.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Cross stitch- finding a centre

It may surprise some to know I didn't discover a love of needlecraft until the early 2000's. I was looking for something to take my mind off troubles I was having and painting then, at the time, wasn't doing it. I wandered into the news agency looking at the hobby magazines and discovered an English cross stitch magazine called Needlecraft. It was a new issue so I thought I'd give it a go because at the time the magazine was very cheap and had a free cover kit. I brought it. The cover kit was a card with ducks. The kit had everything in it to get started so I stitched away after reading the instructions briefly and ended up with a row of ducks. But the kit had linen fabric not aida. Linen is sort of open weave where as aida fabric has blocks. I missed the part in the instructions where it said to cross stitch over two linen threads. I stitched over one. Yes, I ended up with a row of ducks ...but they were tiny! Still I was hooked on cross stitch and have been going back and forth with cross stitching stitching over the years. My favourite designs are samplers.

Cross stitching is really quite simple once you grasp the idea you are making crosses and the crosses of colour match the symbols on your chart. It doesn't get any more difficult than that. However, some books and magazines in the early times didn't show the centre of your design on their charts. When you cross stitch you have to start in the centre of your fabric and you find the centre by folding the fabric in half length ways and then width ways. This will make a crease in the fabric and the middle of the crease matches the centre on your chart. When you find you haven't got arrows marking the centre of your paper chart this is what you do:

Finding the centre for cross stitching.

Unfortunately math is used but it's easily done with or without a calculator. 

Step one: Find where your chart begins and ends both across the top and down.  Mark only where symbols appear.

Step two: When you've marked where the chart starts and ends - at the top, the width, count the number of squares across. Divide this number by 2 (half for mathematically challenged folks) and count the half number. Mark an arrow where that half number is. If the number falls between a square and not on a line, it's in the middle of that square.

Step two: Count the number of squares down to where your chart design finishes. Divide this number by two and count  across until you reach the half number. This half number is the centre mark for length of the chart.

Step three: to find the centre find the top arrow and run your pencil down until it is in line with the length arrow; mark a cross where these two join. This is your centre of your chart. Begin stitching here. 

Tips for cross stitching: 

Read all instructions carefully.

Make sure all your crosses lean the same way. Unless the design instructions says other wise.

If the chart uses whole cross stitches only you can match each of the stitches to a bead to make beaded needlework. You can also use the same pattern to make a needlepoint work and cover in the background with stitches. 

Linen is very useful to use when you want to cross stitch on fabric that isn't even weave. Tack the linen in place. Stitch the design. Then pull away the linen thread. ( I've done this for the heart below on my crazy quilt).

 I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Corned Beef: White Sauce variations

I don't think corned beef really needs a recipe. You just put everything into a pot and let it boil. The meat is cooked first with carrot, onion, parsley. You can also add peppercorns, cloves, thyme, and bay leaves as well. Then towards the end add in the potatoes, then the pumpkin. The cabbage should be done seperate in a little of the water from the pot after every thing else is done. 

This is two variations for the white sauce.

Variation one: Plain white sauce

45 grams of butter
1/4 cup of plain flour
400 ML of milk

To make the rue: Melt butter and add flour. Give it a good stir and cook off the flour, stirring as you go. Add a little of the milk at first, stir. Then change over to a whisk, whisk in a little more milk when it thickens. Then when it becomes a littler thicker add in the remainder of the milk, whisking all the time. Turn up to a high heat and constantly whisk until it thickens more. When it is bubbling and thickens add a ladle full of the stock water from the pot you cooked the meat and vegetables in.

(you can add in chopped onions into this plain white sauce. Cook up the onions until they are just clear and add in butter and flour.)

Variation two: Parsley white sauce
Pinch of salt (not much!)
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tbs Seeded mustard 
lot of finely chopped parsley 

To make the sauce use the same method as above, then add in the extras.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018



Botanical names: Anthemis nobilis. Matricaria Recutita.
(Roman/English Chamomile)

Plant/part: Herb/dried flower.

Country of origin: Indigenous to Britain and cultivated in Germany, France and Morocco.

Chamomile can be recognised by its feathery grey-green leaves and daisy-like white flowers with distinctive dome-shaped yellow centres. German chamomile is more erect than the related Roman Chamomile.


An upright annual shrub to 50cm tall, preferring well drained, fertile soil. Likes partial shade but can be grown in full sun. Propagated by seed.


Collect flowers as they open and the petals start to bend back.


Chamomile is used to soothe gastric irritation, flatulence and colic. It works in two ways: It helps to relax an overactive stomach while, at the same time, relaxing the nervous system, soothing anxiety and stress. A medical herbalist may also use Chamomile for painful periods, to calm an over-active child or in allergic asthmas.


Dried chamomile flowers can be added to potpourri and the flowers can also be placed in a muslin bag and used to scent the bath water. 

Some simple ways to use Chamomile:

To relax and aid sleep drink Chamomile tea before retiring to bed.

As a conditioner rinse fair hair in an infusion of chamomile.

To alleviate the symptoms of a cold add 2-3 drops of Chamomile essential oil to 1 litre (2 pints/5 cups) of boiling water and use as an inhalation - breathe in steam.

In the language of flowers Chamomile means: Joys to come.

Disclaimer: As always be cautious when using herbs.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Cottage Journal : Sweet life

Autumn in Australia begins on March 1st, I don't think we've had much of an Autumn for now, it feels a bit like late Spring. This time, in March, there's an annual church market I go to, just around the corner from us. I always bring a little treat home; this year I brought home date loaf and these chocolate chip biscuits (cookies).

I have a small collection of thrift store brought pillow cases which do not have mates to them. I'm embroidering some vintage embroidery patterns onto them and I'll use these mismatch pillow cases to sit in front of the main ones as a bit of decoration. This pillow case still has the label on the inside and it says it's's very soft. I'm using crayon tinting technique for this pillow case. I have a tutorial for crayon tinting technique Here .

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Cottage Journal - Simple pleasures

I don't know about anyone else but a box of $2 crayons always makes me happy.

The sachets were shop brought but homemade decorations were added. I used colouring pencils and brushed over the top with fabric medium to help set the coloured pencils.

I've always enjoyed creating cards, it's such a simple activity or it can be as complicated as you like with scraps of paper and such. I made some watercolour cards with inspiring quotes and a touch of ribbon. I think I'd like to make some more eventually.

We've had on and off rain. Good weather for curried apricot chicken. And working on my crazy quilt. I ended up re-patching this section, cutting out long strips of fabric and adding in smaller pieces.  I hand appliqu├ęd the smaller pieces in.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Winter Sachet

Sachet (Sa Sha - A small bag containing perfumed herbs used to scent clothes) Using a sachet is the most fragrant way to perfume clothes, linens and note papers. Victorian ladies sewed little sachets into every thing in the house from arm chairs to sewing baskets. Sachets can be placed in envelopes of personal mail, hang bags in clothes closets, lay little pouches with your lingerie, and pretty embroidered envelopes find a place in gifts of handkerchiefs.

Bags for sachet are sewn from bits of silk. More elaborate designs use a less tightly woven fabric over the silk but the silk or an equally tight weave cloth must hold the sachet as it tends to powder and contents escape from the looser weaved fabrics such as lace.

Depending on the use, sachets range in size and shape from tiny, plump pillows of two inches square to envelope size. If you like needlework, they are delightful stitched in all manner of elaborate flights of fancy.

To make a sachet you dry the ingredients as you would for dry potpourri. All petals and leaves must be quite crisp otherwise they may mildew.


This is the best recipe for wool and clothes which have to be stored.

One 1 cup of dried rosemary, add the same of mint leaves, 1/2 cup thyme, and two tablespoons of crushed cloves. Mix this well and age it, then make lager sachets to scent your summer storage. No moth will go near it.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.