Thursday, November 12, 2009

Purging, Re-arranging, and Variety!

The past couple of days have been purging days, at least for me. I have been trying to go through things here that have not been used in ages or that we don't need anymore. Believe me, it's easier said than done! Since I have been away for quite awhile, I do not have the attachments to things around here anymore like my sisters do. It is easy for me to say, "Oh, you don't need that anymore." They do not find that amusing after they hear me say that to more than half of their stuff.

Actually, they have been pretty good about getting rid of things. In fact, each of them had more bags to give to Goodwill than I thought I could get out of them. So, today we loaded all of the stuff for Goodwill into my van (which was packed to the max!), and my sister dropped it off on her way to the school. It was a beautiful, sunny day today for us to be outside accomplishing a good thing. There is now a small corner of the garage that we can move around in as we go through the rest of the garage and purge some more!

When I get on a purging kick, I sometimes carry that over into rearranging. My excuse is that I need to move furniture around to be sure that I am not missing something that could be thrown away or given away. In all honesty, I just like moving furniture. So that is what I did, as well. The new layout has proven to be a success. My family has commented on how much they like it. We are hopefully soon going to get a new couch since ours is very old and falling apart. Then I get to rearrange again! Yay!!

Now how does all of my ramblings about purging and rearranging furniture relate to the 19th century? Well, given that houses were a lot smaller than most of ours today, families during that time did not have much space to just store things they did not use regularly. As children outgrew things, they were either passed down to the next child or remade into something that could be used. If that wasn't the case, then once something couldn't be used anymore, it was gotten rid of. Another good point to make here is that children did not have all of the toys and things that children of today have. They had much fewer belongings. Again, the space issue and not a lot of money for "extra" things.

The mentality was also different during that era. Material things were not as important. The family had what it needed and maybe a little extra, but it was not consumed with stuff. As the mother of the house, she was constantly trying to keep things in their place or get rid of them so they had room to eat, sleep, learn, and spend time together. There probably wasn't much rearranging of furniture, given that they didn't have a lot of pieces nor a lot of space in their small houses. However, I bet women sometimes got an urge to just change things up a bit for variety's sake like I do. It might be in our nature. Well... at least I think so!

You know what they say - "variety is the spice of life!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ironing and Tips

Since I do not iron as much as many women do or 19th century women did for that matter, I thought I would show you what I did iron today. Not too exciting, but I am lengthening my mother's slacks. So, I had to iron a new crease in the bottom before I sew them.

This is what they looked like.

You can see the old line where the bottom crease used to be, and hopefully, you can see where I made a new crease a quarter inch above the serging. Needless to say, my ironing for the day consisted of two pant leg hems.

Here's a couple of tips on how to iron certain fabrics.

1. When ironing wool, use a thin piece of cotton fabric to lay over the wool, then spray with water to make steam. Never iron directly on wool! It will turn shiny.

2. When lengthening pants or skirts and trying to get the old crease out, make sure your iron has water in it so you can create a good amount of steam. Depending on the type of fabric (i.e. cotton, wool, or synthetic) and how long the item has been washed, ironed, and worn at that length, the crease (or line) may not completely iron out. Steam is one of the best things to try.

3. With synthetic fabric, remember not to have the heat turned up too high. The fabrics will melt!

And last but not least, here is a simple homemade starch recipe that also makes your clothes smell nice, too.

Lavender Linen Starch

Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 pint cold water. Add 6 drops of lavender essential oil (or whatever your favorite scent is). Place in a spray bottle and shake before using.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Infamous Wash Day

The dreaded wash day is upon us. After that wonderful, relaxing Sunday day of rest, it is now time to get back to the daily grind. Many people don't mind doing laundry, but to some of us it is a chore that seems to be unending. I can't even fathom how women of the 19th century dealt with all of the laundry, washing it the old fashioned way. I think it takes long enough sorting the different colors, putting one load in the washer at a time, waiting to switch it over to the dryer, all the while starting the next load. Then folding everything and putting it all away.

Now I have no reason to complain since I don't have to boil water and scrub my clothes by hand or with tough soap such as lye. Nor do I have to wait for the outside air to dry all of my clothes. Don't get me wrong, I love the smell of clothes freshly dried in the sun, but choosing to do that and having that as the only option are two different things!

Here is the before and after of my day's laundry.

- The dirty clothes pile
The clean clothes pile -
I am still folding and putting away the clean laundry. No nice, neat folded stacks of clean clothes for me. Not when I have the loving help of my 10 month old. No excuse compared to 19th cenury women. They definitely had it harder - the process, the space, the help, and so on. Since we don't have it as hard as those women did (and we don't have a specific day to do laundry on), I think it is safe to say that at least the laundry is clean and my baby is happy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Much Needed Day of Rest

Today was a good day overall. We went to church after sleeping in a little. Then went to lunch at a 50s diner called Edward's Drive-In. They have a really good Pork Tenderloin Sandwich that is huge! So, after a nice dinner with most of my family, we came home to watch my mother's favorite sport - football. It's not so bad. The Colts won!
Since having a baby, naps have become one of my favorite things, especially on a Sunday afternoon. Pioneers had it right. Resting on Sunday takes the pressure off of feeling like you have to get something productive done (at least on this particular day). Brenna and I took a nice nap together while the rest of my family watched football. Very cozy, hearing them cheer for their team in the other room while relaxing with my baby in another. It is very rare indeed to have most, if not all of my family at home at the same time.

I actually had a short break from being a mom this evening, which I'm sure didn't happen much for 19th century women. My mom wanted to take Brenna to church tonight with her, even though I was not really up to going. So, while they were gone for an hour and a half, I was able to relax and drink a cup of coffee without having to keep my precious little girl from trying to drink it or burn herself trying. Once everyone was home, we decided to do something spontaneous and fun. That translated into playing Apples to Apples. Everyone played, and it was great! It made me think of families back in the day that spent most every Sunday together as a family. I can see it now. Father reading by the fireplace, Mother handsewing in her rocking chair, and the children playing on the floor with their toys.

Well, playing a game on the living room floor is the closest my family can get to that picture right now, and I'm ok with that. We had a wonderful time together, and I'm sure we will try to do it again now that we remember what fun it is to take the time to play games together.

If you haven't tried doing something together as a family in awhile, even if it watching a good, old movie or playing a game as we did, try it!! You will love it!