Saturday 18 May 2019

40 vintage ways to cut costs

Vintage living is renowned for having a life-style based on frugality. Adapting the rules from a no-nonsense era can stretch today’s dollar and cut household costs. 
As I continue the year of living like 1939, I can hardly be anything less than a careful housekeeper. The suggestions that follow are all I have learnt so far.

1. Grow as much food as possible to lower the food bill, and freeze or can what you can’t use immediately. Even tomatoes can be frozen and used in soups and stews.

2. Save leftovers to make potato scones, soups, stews or fried vegetables.

3. Sheets can be reversed to extend their wear, putting the top border at the bottom end of the bed.

4. A sheet that’s worn in the centre can be put “sides-to-middle.” Cut it in half lengthways, seams the sides together and hem the raw edges.

5. Turn back bedding in the morning to help keep sheets to stay fresh longer. Which will cut back on frequent laundering. 

6. Cleaners should be bought in the most economical size (not always the largest) and decanted into spray bottles. Use just a squirt instead of pouring out a large amount.

7. Don’t use more laundry detergent than you need. If you don’t have a measuring cup, use a 470g jam jar (fill it halfway for a cup measure).

8. A slightly soiled wash may not need as much detergent as the manufacturer recommends.

9. Towels need watching. At the first sign of weakening along the edge, take bias tape and sew it with strong thread on both sides. 

10. A ripped towel can be cut into squares for use as washcloths.

11. Worn-out towels, cut into squares and bound together in four or five thicknesses, make good washable pot holders. Hem with binding tape and leave a piece at the end to make a little loop of tape to hang them up.

12. Wash blue towels, sheets, pillowcases with your whites to brighten up the white wash. Of course, any new coloured items should be washed separately for a few times.

13. Camouflage unremovable stains on children’s clothes with embroidery. Paint, rust spots, small rips can all be concealed with stitched flowers, a butterfly or a fish, using washable beads or old pearls for centres and eyes.

14. Soap is said to harden with keeping. Buy it six months ahead and store. unwrapped, in the linen cupboard. It smells good too.

15. Use soap holders to prevent soap being wasted.

16. If your bath oil label suggests using two capfuls, then half a cap is probably just as good.

17. You can get rid of paper table napkins, too. An inexpensive bangle for a serviette ring for everyone in the family and a hemmed square from a worn-out towel make free substitutes.

20. Scrub the dirtiest spots on clothes first to cut down on the washing time.

21. Boil only enough water for the cups of tea or coffee needed.

22. Have everything ready before the kettle comes to the boil, turning off the heat as soon as the water is boiling.

23. Use the minimum amount of water to cook vegetables. Add a tablespoon of water and a dab of butter to the vegetables, shake to coat, then cover and cook slowly.

24. A properly insulated oven retains heat. Turn it off before dishes such as casseroles are quite ready.

25. If the oven is already on, cook frozen vegetables in it. Put them in a covered casserole with a little water, butter, and salt, and cook for 39 minutes.

26. Keep your mending up-to-date, or that pair of ripped pyjama pants will sit in the mending box until it’s been out-grown. Organise a mending or sewing circle among your neighbours, for one or two afternoons a month.

27. Worn-out clothes should have zips, buttons and binding tape removed. The old binding is more suitable for mending older clothes, since new tape is stronger and causes more stress. 

28. A patchwork quilt uses up old clothes. Make a cardboard template about 20cm square, and cut squares from the better parts of old garments. Back the quilt with an old flannelette sheet and interline with an old swollen blanket. Pillow slips can be fashioned in the same way.

29. Short dresses can still be used by buying or making a wrap skirt in a complementary colour to wear over the dress.

30. Lengthen accordion-pleated skirts using a remnant of fabric lining. Unpick the waist. Make a circle from the lining by seaming together a strip 17 cm wide and hop measurement plus 5cm long. Stitch the circle tot he top of the skirt - this portion will be hidden by an overblouse or seeker - and make an elasticised waist.

31. Hand-knitted sweaters are warmer and can be unravelled when outworn or outgrown. Wind the yarn loosely around a large book, tie the skein in several place and hand-wash.

32. Sometimes there is enough fabric in a pleated skirt to make into another garment by unpicking and pressing out the pleats. The material can then be reassembled.

33. Carry a notebook with your family’s current measurements. If you see an unexpected sale, you’ll be prepared.

34. Jot down metres or wool requirements for a pattern. That way you won’t buy too much or too little.

35. Thermal cot blankets can be saved and seamed together to make a bedsize blanket when the cot is outgrown.

36. Bean sprouts are an excellent and cheap source of vitamin C. 

37. Worn-out sheets cut into handkerchief-chief size pieces are softer on the nose than tissues.

38. Conserve heating oil or gas by keeping the thermostat about 19 deg C (66 deg F) during the day and turning it down at night. Better still, turn the heat off.

39. Cook roast beef slowly to minimise shrinkage. Rub it with oil but no salt, and place on a rack in a shallow pan fat side up. Do no sear or add water. Cook, uncovered, in a preheated 150 deg C (300deg F) oven for 32 to 34 minutes per 500g (1lb) for medium.

40. A clothes dryer can use up to 100 kilowatt hours a month; drying clothes on a line is free. Clothes can be partly dried in the dryer, then hung on a line under cover.

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

Friday 10 May 2019


In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is in autumn heading into winter, and the winter chill is very much here. For the garden the newspapers of 1939 say it is time to sow beds where plants such as quick-growing annuals are needed. Popular flowers during the era for planting now, include:

* Virginia stocks (for ribbon borders)
*Dwarf nasturtiums
*Shirley poppies
Nemesia, snapdragons, and sweet peas.

Hardy annuals should be sown in boxes or seedbeds for late flowering seeds. 

Now is a good time to make speciality of bedding out pansies, violas, stocks, Iceland poppies, carnations, lobelias, linaria, English daisies and calendula. All root cutting of pelargoniums should be done now.

In the vegetable plot sow or plant cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohl-rabi, parsnips, turnips, silver beet, herbs and broad beans.

Strawberries should be planted out in proper containers or beds.


Every vegetable planted needs ample room to be able to grow into flourishing plants. Carrots, turnips, parsnips, and red beet should be planted from four to five inches apart. Seeds need to be thinned out from six to ten inches apart with a foot between rows. For general purposes onions will do well with four inches apart, with ten inches separating the rows; lettuce will need a foot apart and twenty inches will do for cabbages in rows two feet apart.

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

Friday 3 May 2019

From Kitchen Left Overs

From Kitchen Left Overs.

It’s May and Autumn is starting to appear here with plenty of foggy days, crisp mornings, and a hit of frost on the ground during early morning times. The weather has been very foggy and rainy. The rain is nice for the garden. There have been fine days too and the days are cooler in temperature but not very cold, making  most days really pleasant. The weather makes it a good time to be indoors pottering around.

During May of 1939 there's articles for dishes from ‘left overs’.  The articles all suggests it worth having patience and a love for making something from nothing to make sure not a scrap is wasted in the kitchen so that pennies can be saved. Below are just some of the tips from those articles for using your kitchen left overs.

When The Food Overflows.

It’s worth while for a cook to make use of using left overs as it helps with savings in the weekly account. Left overs can be used - not every other day, but often enough to make a savings. In the first place, it pays to get into the habit of planning meals so there isn’t really any left-overs to be had. Over time this can be managed and when scraps do appear obviously know what to keep and what not to keep. 

Hoard The Gravy and The Sauce.

Cupfuls of gravy and white sauce from dinner, can be reheated with pieces of cold meat like chicken and the sauce is easily season well and served up with crips bits of toast sprinkled with parsley makes an easily made meal.

Chicken heated in left over brown gravy: to the gravy add a little curry powder and spoon-full of chutney, and it makes for a nice breakfast dish. Boil up some rice and the left over becomes something more substantial.

Hasty Curried Eggs.

Eggs are always a good standby for any left over dish for dinner or breakfast. If there’s white sauce or gravy on hand, curried eggs are a few minutes and can be made up easily when you don’t have time. Heat the sauce or gravy, thin it if necessary, and flavour to taste with curry, a tiny pinch of sugar, and just before serving squeeze some lemon in it. Hard-boil and egg, shell them, and halve them, and smother with the prepared curry sauce. Serve with toast. A variation is simply poach an egg, serve on toast and coat with the curry gravy. The same can be done with poached egg on a bed of rice and the sauce over that.

A Spoonful of Gravy.

* Try poaching eggs boiled in brown gravy. 
* Place an egg in a small greased ramekin dish, cover with gravy, and bake until the egg is set. If you have white sauce left over you can add breadcrumbs on the surface and grated cheese, and brown as the egg sets.
* A rissole mixture can be moisten with left over gravy.
* White sauce is good for mixing in with salmon patties.
* And both gravies can enrich a stew or soup.

The Potato Goes a Long Way Here.

Everyone knows scraps of mashed potato are some-how always in the kitchen left-overs. They can be fried and made into covering fish pie. Left over mashed potato is also good for padding rissoles or fish patties. Add left over potato to a shepherds pie for a good family meal.

You can make some potato puffs as well if you have dry cheese that can be grated. Mash a cupful of potato with 2 or 4 tablespoons of cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. You can include a spoonful fo chopped parsley as well. Then add about 1 cup fo self-raising flour, and mix the whole together with two beaten eggs and a little milk if necessary. At the end it should be like a cavelike mixture that you will drop from the spoon. Fry in very hot oil until puffy and golden brown all over. Drain well. Serve with bacon and tomatoes.

Try Potato Scones.

When you are making up some sweet scones, try making up a batch of potato scones (biscuit) which can be made quickly with scraps of cold potato. Sift 2 cups flour with a good pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and then rub into it a heaped tablespoon of butter. Thoroughly mash 2 cups cold potato and blend it thoroughly with the flour. Mix to a soft, scone-line paste with a beaten egg and milk, or with the milk alone. Roll and cut in the usual way. Bake for 10 minutes in a very hot oven. You can add some grated cheese to this as well.

Cauliflower left over?

When you buy cheese in blocks there’s always unavoidable scraps and the ends are always dry. Those ends are easy to grate, and really useful to have on hand. They can be grated into macaroni cheese. If you have cauliflower, cheese blends very well with it. Place the left over cauliflower in a greased pie dish and cover it with a white sauce, well flavoured with grated cheese, pepper, and salt. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese then dot with a few bits of butter on top.  Bake until brown. 

Odds And Ends

* Rice left from curry will make a rice custard with the addition of eggs and milk. It won’t be as creamy as the usual rice custard but still tasty.
* Use ends of jam in the bottom of the basin that holds steamed pudding.
* An odd spoonful of jam goes well in a curry.
* Any old tomatoes, onions, or scraps of meat can be added to a damper.

* Think twice before throwing out dry ends of bread. Bake them instead in a slow oven until pale brown and crisp right through, or lightly toast them. Then either roll them finely with a rolling pin in a bag and store them in an airtight jar where they will keep for several weeks, and always be available for coating fried foods, and other purposes. 

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