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Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘household hints’

Summertime Hints

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Founded in 1868 by J. R. Watkins, the Watkins Company, as evidenced in their company history, was a pioneer in natural products to cure, clean, cook with, drink, and kill insects with.

Elaine Allen, Director of Home Economics at the company, put together the 1941 book Watkins Household Hints which I perused this morning to find some random handy hints to help make the last month of your summer even better!

Vacation Hints
Know the source of your drinking water and milk. If in doubt of its purity, boil the water. Never drink water from streams or wells. For a day’s outing, carry milk and water in a thermos bottle. When touring in Mexico and South America, all drinking water should be boiled or add chlorazine tablets to purify the water.

Exhale through the nose while under water and inhale through the mouth while swimming on the surface. This will maintain a positive air pressure in the nasal cavities, protecting the nose and ears from infection. Ear plugs or soft wool may be used in the ear.

Malaria and yellow fever are carried by certain kinds of mosquitoes. Use Watkins Fly Spray or Watkins Fly and Moth Spray freely when sitting on an unscreened porch, at picnics and outdoor gatherings. Kill young mosquitoes or wrigglers in pools, rain barrels, or where water collects, with Watkins Fly Spray. Pour a little of the liquid on the surface. Use household ammonia for mosquito bites and dust with Watkins Talcum.

Heat – Summer
Observe healthful living habits – sufficient sleep, daily baths, a well-selected and moderate diet, plenty of water, regular and thorough elimination. Eat less food in extremely hot weather. Eat crisp salads, green vegetables and fruit – leave the table a little hungry. Avoid hot drinks and alcoholic beverages, because they generate heat and increase discomfort. Iced tea is excellent. Exercise heats the body and should be taken in moderation, with frequent rest periods. Use a liberal amount of salt with food, unless your doctor has advised otherwise. Do not allow your thoughts to dwell on the heat, be calm, and keep out of the sun. A cloth wrung out of cold water and lightly covered with a piece of think cheesecloth will, if placed on the forehead, back of neck and over each wrist, reduce the temperature and induce sleep. Keep cloth cold, or use an ice bag.

Blueberry Stain
1. Use Watkins Spot Remover. Follow directions.
2. Sponge stain with lukewarm water. If stain remains, use a few drops of oxalic acid.
3. Rinse thoroughly.

Marshmallows and Wieners – To Roast
A wire corn popper is excellent for roasting wieners or marshmallows over an open fire. You can roast more at a time and the meat juice is not lost because of punctured skin.

Laundry, at Home

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

hot enough to splutterI’m a bit obsessed with cleaning lately, can you tell? It might have something to do with the recent installation of a sump pump in my basement apartment. Let’s just say that jackhammers create quite a bit of dust, hence my interest in this subject. Elizabeth Craig offers this bit of advice in her 1000 Household Hints. I don’t know about you, but I am quite pleased that times have changed, at least when it comes to laundry.

1947: Laundry, at Home.

To soak. ~ Soak cotton and linen articles in lukewarm soapy water, or in cold water with borax ~ 2 tablespoons to the gallon. Soak handkerchiefs separately. Do not soak coloured or woollen articles.

To wash. ~ Wring out the clothes from the soaking water. Wash with plenty of hot soapy water made with shredded washing soap, soap flakes or jelly. Use two lots if necessary. Rub dirty clothes gently on a wash board with your hand or a nail brush. Do not rub silks, rayons, and woollens. Use only mild soap for them, and do not put them in very hot water.

To rinse. ~ Soften hard rinsing water with borax. Repeat warm rinses till the water is clear, and add a little glue to the last water for white cottons and linens.

To dry. ~ Dry out of doors when possible, but do not put silks and woollens in the sun or too near the fire. Hang white cottons and linens in the sun to bleach. Dry coloured articles in the shade, inside out.

To starch. ~ The heavier and wetter the material, the more starch you need, and if you wring with a wringer you need thicker starch than if you work by hand. Starch articles inside out, using hot starch for white things and cold tinted starch for coloured ones. Use blue to tint blue, cochineal for pink, coffee or tea for brown, and a vegetable dye for green. To mix starch ~ make a smooth paste with starch and cold water, using a wooden spoon, then add boiling water till the starch is clear.

To mangle. ~ Leave clothes till quite dry, then sprinkle them evenly. Fold and roll up, and leave them for an hour before mangling or ironing. Pull garments into shape and put them evenly between the rollers, protecting any buttons.

To iron. ~ The iron should be hot enough to splutter when touched with a wet finger, and you should iron as quickly as possible, continuing till the material is dry. To iron a garment, first go over all parts that hang off the board, then iron the centre. To bring out a pattern or monogram, iron on the wrong side over a thick pad. Have a very hot iron for starched articles and a moderate one for silks and woollens. Press damp knitted goods between Turkish towels.

To air. ~ If you have no heated linen cupboard, hang straight, folded articles on a clothes horse, and garments with sleeves on hangers to air in the sun or near the fire.

Source: Craig, Elizabeth. 1000 Household Hints. London: Collins Clear-Type Press, 1947.
~ pp. 43-44 ~

Cooking Breakfast

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

the water must be boiling madlyIn the preface to 2002 Household Helps, editor Janet D. Myers wished the book would “be called upon many times to shorten the labors of those who are responsible for the welfare of our American families.” Since I’ve mostly been cooking breakfast these days (who needs lunch or dinner, when there are so many sugared cereals to indulge in?), I thought I’d pull out some helpful tips to share. Pouring the milk over the cereal sure is laborious, and my singlular American family deserves only the best!

1942: Cooking Breakfast

CRISPING BACON ~ Try laying your thin slices of bacon in a shallow pan and putting them in the oven. They will be uniformly crist and moderately browned. When you take them out of the oven lay the pieces on oiled paper until you are ready to serve. The fat that has been cooked out can be used in frying hashed brown potatoes or chops.

MILK INSTEAD OF CREAM ~ Two quarts of milk added to one quart of heavy cream makes cream sufficient strength when serving coffee to 100 people.

SODA IN OMELET ~ A half teaspoonful of soda added to a cup of sour milk and used instead of sweet milk in preparing an omelet makes it light and fluffy.

‘NEW’ CEREAL IDEA ~ When tired of breakfast cereals try cooking two or three kinds together. They will give a new flavor to the breakfast.

BETTER COFFEE ~ Many people use too little coffee when they make the drink. Put more of it into the coffee pot and you will have a better beverage.

COOK CEREALS LONGER ~ Breakfast cereals cooked for long periods of time will have a better flavor and be more digestible than those cooked only a short time.

MAKING SAUSAGE ~ In making sausage or other things calling for ground meat, it is desirable to have the seasoning evenly mixed with meat. Cut meat in strips, lengthwise, for grinding. Weigh meat for same. Put layer of meat in pan, sprinkle seasoning over, then another layer of meat and seasoning until all is used. Then feed into grinder. The sausage will be uniform in flavor.

FRYING SAUSAGES ~ When frying pork sausages invert a colander over the frying pan and you will find that you will not be bothered with the grease spattering the stove and yourself.

JELLY OMELET ~ A dab of tart jelly is very good with the breakfast omelet.

FRYING ON OIL STOVE ~ Use an aluminum frying pan for pancakes when frying them over an oil stove.

CHOICE GRAPEFRUIT ~ Grapefruit uniform in size, with smooth thin skin and small pores, are the choice ones.

BEATING EGG WHITES ~ Never beat whites of eggs in an aluminum pan. It will always darken it and make it ugly. Use a china or porcelain bowl.

POACHING EGGS ~ Don’t try to poach an egg by putting it in lukewarm or slightly boiling water. The water must be boiling madly, so that the albumen is cooked at once, otherwise the egg spreads all through the water.

LEFTOVER TOAST ~ Dip leftover toast in egg and milk, and brown in a small amount of fat. This is French toast and may be served for breakfast with powdered sugar or syrup.

KEEPING DOUGHNUTS ~ If doughnuts are put into a covered dish while still warm they will keep fresh for some time.

BETTER TOAST ~ Bread a day old makes better toast than fresh bread.

AVOIDING LUMPY CEREALS ~ If you have trouble with cereals lumping when you are pouring them into the boiling water, stir vigorously with a wire cake spoon.

Source: Myers, Janet D. 2002 Household Helps. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1942.
~ pp. 27-45 ~

How Did We Ever Get Along Without Cellophane Tape?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

it will hold firmlyI was all set to do a meaningful commentary on taxes and budgeting, given the upcoming deadline that all of my American readers know only too well. But since I’d do anything to avoid that topic, I picked this excerpt to share with you instead. It’s from Good Housekeeping’s The Better Way: A Unique, Money-Saving Handbook for Homemakers. Perhaps it can still be useful ~ I think tax forms count as “top priority letters.”

1959: How Did We Ever Get Along Without Cellophane Tape?

How, indeed? With it, did you know that you can:

STOP CRACKED PLASTER. Next time you hammer a nail in the plaster to hang a picture, first apply a small cross patch of cellophane tape over the spot to prevent the plaster from cracking.

KEEP DUST FROM PICTURES. Don’t let dust seep into your framed pictures; seal the back of the frame to the mat with a strip of cellophane tape.

PREVENT SCRATCHES. Run a strip of tape on bottom of knickknacks to save furniture from scratches.

THUMBTACKS IN HARD-TO-GET-AT-PLACES. Wrap cellophane tape around your forefinger, sticky side out. Then stick the head of the thumbtack against the tape, and it will hold firmly while you get it into that hard-to-get-at place with just one finger.

SNAG-FREE CURTAIN ROD. One way to get freshly laundered curtains back on the rod without snagging is to run a strip of tape over the end of the rod.

EMERGENCY REPAIRS FOR TORN SHOWER CURTAINS. While you shop for new shower curtains, you can easily mend the torn ones by placing cellophane tape over the tear on the side away from the water.

TOP PRIORITY LETTERS. Double seal important and confidential letters with a strip of cellophane tape.

REINFORCE LOOSE-LEAF PAGES. Run a strip of cellophane tape down the entire length of the paper where the ring holes are punched. Repunch the holes.

OVERLOADED ENVELOPES. To seal an envelope with a heavier enclosure than usual, use cellophane tape.

LABELS. Label drawers, folders, and canned goods by writing on a slip of paper and sealing it down with cellophane tape.

MEND MONEY. Torn checks and currency can be mended with cellophane tape.

TRAIN AND HOLD VINES. Use cellophane tape to hold climbing house plants to an indoor ‘trellis.’

EXTRACT JUICE FROM FRUIT. Any time you want to extract a few drops of orange or lemon juice from the fruit, pierce skin with a sharp knife, squeeze out what you want, wipe skin dry, then seal split with tape.

NEW RECIPE. So you won’t misplace it, fasten the recipe on the inside of your cupboard door with tape and don’t remove it until you’ve tried it out.

Source: Good Housekeeping. The Better Way. New York: Popular Library, 1959.
~ pp. 14-16 ~