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.