Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Better Home Management?

I've been finding I haven't enough time to fit in everything I want to do so decided to look at some of my Home Management books for some tips. I know a few months ago one of the magazines had an article about such books and I made a mental note to look at mine ...

As ever these have been picked up for pennies at the car boot - I was drawn to this one with its wonderful adverts at the beginning and end of the book. Love the way these ads set the books in their own time frame.

I remember my mum's mangle being kept in a cupboard at the bottom of the washer and being intrigued as to the way it worked - to the extent that I still carry the scar from testing it by putting my finger into it...

Not sure about this being a safe way of drying your washing!

Time to fly round the house on your broomstick?

This book gives great illustrations of how to design your rooms, buy furniture and cope with your movable gas (yes gas) washing machine which you trundle across the kitchen to the sink...

This scruffy looking edition is great fun giving lots of useful information. This must be the one which inspired the magazine title " First kill your turtle" as yes,it says that turtle soup must be made from freshly killed turtles.

Great info re bed bugs which can live for a year without food and travel great distances. It suggests using a blow lamp against them! Make your own fly papers by smearing stiff paper with treacle - no advise re the resulting influx of wasps.

This one reminded me of one of the two Fat Ladies who often said that recipes used to be called receipts. This book is proof giving recipes for delicacies such as potted head, dumb cake (for Christmas eve apparently) and roast cygnet (which I thought was illegal)


This picture shows the sort of delight you might find as you flick through - a long cherished recipe tucked into the pages which has probably been hidden for years.

Mrs Beeton was a 20p find and I intend using it as the basis of my future housekeeping. "A mistress can assist her servant in her work, and lighten it for her, without having to perform offices uncongenial and distasteful to a woman of education and refinement". Oh how I yearn not to have to perform offices uncongenial and distasteful!

Mrs B argues with herself as to the best time to start spring cleaning and urges that it should be undertaken after the last fire of winter on March 25th. But then again in "these more degenerate days" many don't begin to turn the house "out of the windows" until May (and that written a hundred years ago!). The rules were incredibly strict and each household seemed to need at least a cook and a housemaid. Mine certainly needs both. Along with a gardener and an odd job man.

So just to prick your consciences - have you cleaned your looking glass lately?

Simply sponge the surface with equal parts of gin and water, dust with powder blue and rub off with an old silk handkerchief.

Can somebody pass me the gin please?


  1. Gin? Did you say gin? If I open the gin none of the housework would get done!! Great collection of books Wend. xxxxx

  2. What a covetable collection of books........... would love to own it. "Degenerate days" made me smile.

  3. These books are priceless gems of domestic knowledge; I have a couple and I love dipping into them for advice such as .."Do not attempt at any time to entertain elaborately without the help of a maid" - advice taken!

  4. What a waste of gin! Thank goodness for Mr Sheen! I remember my Mum had a "twin tub" washing machine which had to be pulled out and attached to the water taps with hoses before you could even start! Aren't we lucky!!!

  5. Lovely books, Yikes though that picture of the drying over the heater i would have a heart attack if that was real. I love old books especially the home management books you used to get off the milkman i think every new married couple should have one there are great ideas in them, have a great weekend, dee x

  6. My mum had a drying cabinet called a Flatley - like a chest freezer with wooden slats to hang the washing on - it worked a treat. A friend decided to soak her engagement ring in gin to clean it. As she walked out of the dining room with the cup of gin, someone rang the doorbell so she went to answer it, gin in hand, to find it was someone from the Methodist church :-)
    We all need a cook and a maid, in my opinion.

  7. I am afraid I have had to perform a lot of offices uncongenial to a woman of education and refinement this morning - probably because I am such a degenerate softie that I have carried on lighting my fires way past 25 March. Oh, how I yearn for a housemaid!

    Pomona x

  8. Wend,
    I love searching out and reading books like these. It was another world and another time wasn't it? I must have a word with my 'old retainer' and find out if we're on top of our 'must do' list of jobs. I think I have missed the Spring Cleaning deadline big time and all this lovely sunshine shows the dust motes off to a T so I'd better try and catch up.... maybe... Lesley

  9. The books are just lovely but what a waste of gin!! LOL!! Cx

  10. Wendy those tips are priceless - I had a washing machine with a mangle when I first got married - not for long I hasten to say. Now am heading off to find the gin my glass is looking a little dull and where did I put my silk hankie...

  11. Great post, but I want to see your mangled finger!

  12. These books are priceless, I have a few myself. Do you think vodka will work just as well ?
    Ann x

  13. fab pics. I love the adverts in these books too. It's one of the reasons I collect vintage magazines. They show so much from the times. I was amazed to find 'control' underwear was worn in the 40s/50s when I saw an advertisement for slimming rubber underwear in one of my vintage mags. Sounds very uncomfortable x

  14. How lovely! I saw that article, and thought of my books, and haven't got them out yet, so you win! The tips about the servants remind me of Elizabeth Gaskell's books - I'm just finishing 'My Lady Ludlow' and love the way that the poorer 'genteel' women relate to their servants. Of course Lady Ludlow doesn't really know they're there at all...

  15. What a fabulous collection. I bet you wizz through your chores now! My Mum had a gas boiler, which she fixed up to where the gas poker was usually connected (This was used to light the coke in the other boiler which heated the water for baths etc). Gas laundry boiler had no paddles etc, it just heated up the water. All the cotton sheets, shirts, towels, underwear and hankies got a good boil. It was then hauled out into the sink for a blue rinse and put through the mangle. This was all in a 'modern' 1950s kitchen. Finally the hot water ws used to scrub the kitchen floor. No wonder we had a cold meat dinner!