Sunday, 30 September 2012

Think Pink!

I am sorry that I've left it a couple of days without posting. Again. I know. I am a bad bad blogger. But in my defense I was in absolutely no fit state to type last night. You see, out of the blue, Mr H's mother and father offered to have all three children overnight and so we had an impromptu night out! Not bad for a couple that normally only go out together one or twice every six months!

We were so taken aback that we didn't know where to go or what to do, but in the end we decided on a meal at our local Italian restaurant, where we were served by real live actual Italians! Talk about a novelty! It was wonderful, the food was divine (and apparently award winning but I couldn't tell you what award) and the staff were really fun and friendly. I even enjoyed the decor, which was to my mind rather 1950s Atomic Era but Mr H just thought it looked like an Ikea had exploded.

Well I was enjoying myself so much (and here comes the excuse) that I decided to have a little drinkypoo. I should explain at this point that, generally, I don't drink. I don't have any objection to alcohol and certainly don't object to anyone else enjoying a tipple, I just prefer not to imbibe myself. I'm not all that keen on the taste and, unless I am eating at the same time and really in the mood, I just end up feeling headachy and sick. The only time I tend to drink is to have Baileys or Babysham at Christmas (yes, I am just that classy) or the occasional half of cider at a summer barbeque, and that has the consequence that it only takes one or two drinks before I am under the table. Which I was. Last night. Very quickly. <blush>

Sadly this it NOT what I looked like last night.

Needless too say, I was a like a bear with a very sore head this morning. But I couldn't let it slow me down, after all I had lots of 1950s housewifey type things to be doing. So I set about trying to quieten the masses of insanely large hammers inside my head. 

First I tried a Virgin Mary. I heard somewhere that Bloody Marys were brilliant at curing hangovers, but nothing on God's green earth was going to make me drink vodka at 8am, so I just stuck to mixing tomato juice with Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and a celery stick. It didn't work. Not even a bit. In fact, I think I felt worse. Bleaugh.

Next I listened to my Dad's advice (which quite frankly I should do more often, that way I wouldn't get into these messes in the first place) and downed a pint of water. This did help a little, in that it didn't feel like my tongue was covered in sand anymore, but it probably would have helped more if I had drunk it before going to bed and it probably would have meant that I wouldn't have spent all morning with my stomach sounding like a washing machine.

Then I tried Mr H's solution. He cooked me a fried breakfast of black pudding, bacon and beans, and then hovered around me optimistically as I ate. I really wish he hadn't because it meant I had to eat all of it. Every last grease-laden bite. Double bleaugh.

Schiaparelli Nail Polish Advert
From 'Musings From Marilyn'

In the end, I settled for the tried and tested Think Pink technique. Which basically involves pink. Anything pink. Everything pink. I read somewhere that pink is meant to sooth fractious nerves (I really do read some crap), so when I am feeling rotten I surround myself with pink. I wore pink, painted my nails pink, drank VERY strong coffee out of my pink heart-shaped cup and saucer, bought pink iced cupcakes from the supermarket and I even dyed my hair the most fabulous shade of Schiaperelli pink.

Yeah, okay so I may have got a bit carried away with the pink hair but now I feel on top of the world. I only hope the feeling continues when I have to scrub clean my now-pink bathroom. Whoops!

Mrs H x

Friday, 28 September 2012


I am nothing if adventurous in my cooking. Often it works well. I've 'discovered' some fabulous recipes like Welsh cake cookies, Jaffa cake cupcakes, CFK (fried chicken that D named Crunchy Fried Kitten - he's a pleasant child) and McMummy's breakfasts. But not always. Mr H can testify to the vileness that was stuffed baked cabbage and D will never let me forget the exploding chocolate cake. So when I announced to the family that, for a change, we would not be having pizza for movie night but instead a retro recipe that I had found, well lets just say they weren't exactly thrilled.

The recipe I had found was this:

Campbells recipe poster
From 'Hey, My Mom Used To Make That'

And for all their grumbling when I brought it to the table, they loved it. They even complained when there wasn't enough for seconds. I was filled with housewifely pride that they liked my food so much that they wanted more. (Not exactly an everyday occurrence - see stuffed cabbage above.)

It also boosted my culinary confidence too. Perhaps I should be making more adventurous retro meals. Looking at some of the advertisements and recipes from the 1950s, man those ladies knew how to combine their flavours! Next on my list are these divine looking numbers:

All from 'Hey, My Mom Used To Make That'

I'm sure Mr H will be thrilled!

Mrs H x

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Date Night

What a day and what a night! I feel like a new woman.

I love my Mum. She's my best friend and I love spending time with her. We look incredibly alike and have a very similar, somewhat off-the-wall sense of humour. More often than not, Mum and I are howling with laughter at some half-spoken joke whilst all those around us just look on bemused. It's from my Mum that I get my love of vintage and sewing and knitting and tea, mustn't forget the tea. Well we got to do all those things today. Yey!

Mum flew over for along weekend today and, since darling Mr H offered to take the day off to look after the children, we went shopping just us two. The weather was utterly rotten, absolutely tipping it down, so we weren't sure where to go but in the end we decided to risk the rain and go to Stroud. We haven't been in ages but we are definitely going to go more often. We had forgotten how many great little vintage shops there were there.

I could have bought almost everything that I saw today. I was almost bought a 1950s 'gold' three-tray hostess trolley but I simply don't have the room at home, and there was a fabulous 1950s/60s black fox stole with the face and the legs on but it was just too expensive (especially since I'm not convinced it was an actual fox or even real fur). In the end I bought myself a mustard yellow coffee pot set that I think is housewife heaven but Mr H thinks is so truly vile he may come out in hives just from picking up a cup. Pah! Obviously he's talking about a complete different set to mine. Either way, we'll find out in the morning.

Then on the way home we stopped off at the Nature In Art art gallery for tea and cake, where I managed to pick up a 1966 cookbook called 1001 Ways To Popular Parties for just £1! It's not 1950s but for £1, who can argue? I'm simply going to have to throw dinner parties now. I mean, it would be rude not to. After all, everyone should be able to delight in piped mashed potato 'tinted to a rainbow of gay colours' with food colouring and saucers filled with flowers 'to give a lift to the room'.

But my fabulous day wasn't over just yet. For tonight was Date Night.

It's very rare that I go out socially and even rarer that I get to go out with my husband. Babysitters willing to look after three children are either as rare as unicorns or so expensive that we wouldn't have any money left to go out. So when Mum said she'd babysit, the ever indulgent Mr H leaped into action and planned the perfect 1950s housewife date. We went bowling!

The vintage advert that inspired Mr H

I haven't been bowling since I was a teenager, so I thought I would be hopeless. But not so much. I wasn't a whizz or anything but I won! All three games! Which was all the more fun because Mr H and I are really competitive with each other and normally he wins EVERYTHING. It was the perfect retro date; I wore my favourite polka dot circle dress and a ribbon in my hair, we drank a beer on the alley (I didn't know that you could do that), and did I mention that I won? After bowling we even went for a burger and a milkshake. I felt like I'd just stepped out of 1951! Fabulous! We both enjoyed the evening so much that we're going to try and make it a regular thing and see if we can gather up enough friends that we can have teams. For my part, if we do go more often, I think I might invest in a pair of bowling shoes because those loaners are revolting. (What the heck is in that spray they put in the shoes?) And of course I'll need a bowling shirt... and my own ball... Ooooo I can't wait!

Mrs H x

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Pin Curls And Pampering

Now I don't think I am a slob. I never went out unwashed or in dirty clothes but I was certainly one for the bare face and scraped back ponytail. However, I can't get away with that now. Ooh no. It is my wifely duty to be groomed and presentable for my husband's approval. And it's a bit of a shock to the system I can tell you!

Beauty Schedule For Busy Young Wives,  Today's Woman magazine 1952

The guide I'm going to use is the beauty schedule above (as well as masses of Youtube tutorials), until I find something more comprehensive. I'm going to do it, day by day throughout the week, just like the guide says but since Date Night is coming up shortly I decided to cram the whole week's grooming into one delicious evening of pampering.

Mr H, who is always keen to spoil me, took charge of the children's bedtime routine and I was free to soak in a bubble filled tub for a couple of hours. I relaxed, I read my book, I washed and set my hair in pins, I put on a facemask, I defuzzed, gave myself a manicure and I even put cucumber slices over my eyes. I don't know what that does exactly, but I see it on the telly all the time, so it must be good! I thoroughly enjoyed myself but I will say this, whilst I do like the look of my newly tamed eyebrows, OWWWWW! It hurt so much! There must be a better way of doing it than yanking out each individual hair with tweezers! I mean good grief!

Painful eyebrow plucking aside, I feel much better. I was never always convinced on the benefits of fussing with one's appearance but I am now officially a convert. I feel sharper and more confident. I also look better. My skin is clearer, my eyes look brighter and I think it will actually help me have more time in the morning because I can wear less make-up but still look polished. I wonder how well I'll sleep on these pins...

Mrs H x

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Make Do And Losing My Marbles

Sorry that it's been a couple of days since my last post. I've caught a head cold and I feel completely rotten so I've been completely slacking on the 1950s housewife front. I've been slouching around the house in chunky sweaters and no make-up, I'm behind on putting away the laundry and I've been late getting out of bed the last two mornings in a row. It's no excuse really, it's just a sniffle for crying out loud, but I'm a complete wuss when I'm ill.

I've also been very busy on the sewing front. S has a Prince and Princess ball at school on Friday but hasn't a thing to wear. I could put her in her party dress, I suppose, but I really don't fancy the idea of trying to get poster paint and party food out of silk. And if it ripped, she's be devastated. So I came up with the idea of whipping her up something out of one of my old dresses.

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Simple right? Well no. Not exactly.

I rummaged around in the attic and found one of my old, frankly hideous, ballgowns from back in the 90's made out of sheer metallic blue/grey organza and net. I then cut out the pattern for a basic straight dress and overskirt. Except it wasn't really as easy as that. The fabric was so darned slippery and static, I thought it would float out the window! It wouldn't stay still to cut and it wouldn't stay still to sew. If I hated that frock before I REALLY hate it now! But after countless amounts of swearing, threatening, bargaining and almost losing my marbles, I finished it. S now has a knee-length sleeveless dress with a large bow at one shoulder and a  removable elasticated overskirt with attached net petticoat. And actually I am really proud of myself. It looks pretty darn good.

But now it's back to bed with a cup of homemade vegetable soup. Good night all.

Mrs H x

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Big Kid With The Moustache

Me and my Pa

I am a Daddy's girl. I always have been and the older I get, the more of a Daddy's girl that I become. I adore him. He is my own personal hero. And the best bit is that all three of my children feel exactly the same way. They idolise their Granddad 'Tache.

So this morning, when he rang and asked if we wanted to meet up for lunch, I didn't so much as get a yes as a cacophony of whoops and screams. One minute they were lolling about on the sofa in their pyjamas, the next they were upstairs brushing their hair and getting dressed in their party clothes. All without a word from me. I think I need to get Dad to ring every morning!

For lunch we went to Frankie and Benny's. It's not Mr H's favourite place but it's just round the corner from Dad, the food is decent and the kids love it there. (And I could happily spend hours listening to the 50s/60s music and looking at all the old photos on the walls.) We ate ourselves silly. Mr H and I both had burgers with melted blue cheese and onion rings, whilst Dad and the kids all had pizza. Each. Even little K. I'm amazed she managed to eat as much as she did, honestly it was almost as big as her!

And, as usual, Dad spoiled the kids completely. He's like a big kid with a moustache. Between the gallons of pop, the balloon fight and the mountains of ice cream, they were squealing and laughing so loudly, I almost felt sorry for the other diners. We always have such fun with Dad, even if he is such a bad influence on the children. He's the granddad that will fill their pockets full of sweets and whisper "don't tell your mother", or let them stay up until the wee hours watching movies. He teases and tickles and tells rude jokes (not that rude obviously but any joke with the word poo in it is hilarious to a four-year-old). How can they not adore him!

They got a little upset when we had to leave but a couple of big tickly kisses from Granddad 'Tache and all was better again. They certainly went to bed easily, giving me the whole evening to myself to drink tea and eat the Welsh cakes Dad bought for me as a treat. After all, I'm still his little princess.

Mrs H x

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Feeling At Home At Home

It has only been four days granted, but I'm really enjoying dressing smart and wearing make-up. It makes a real difference to how I feel about myself and how I present myself. When I'm properly dressed I feel confident and put together. I don't slouch or talk like a slob. I make the effort to stay looking nice. I wear rubber gloves and aprons, I'm more careful when I eat and when I'm looking after the children, to avoid spills or stains. When I'm dressed, rather than in my pyjamas or scruffs, I feel ready to work regardless of how early or late it may be and no matter how the house may look or the kids may play up, I feel like I can handle it.

That being said, there are times when a pencil skirt and stockings may not be the best choice of clothing. Last night being one of those times. Trying to sit on a bean bag in said stockings and skirt, not to mention a tight belt and... um... 'supportive' undergarments, was tricky to say the least. I struggled to get down onto the floor, then once on the bag I couldn't sit without tilting to one side or the other, then when I tried to get up I had to roll in a very ungainly fashion onto my front to bring myself up into a kneeling position first. I was like an upturned turtle and I can't say I was any better curled up in the armchair. Needless to say D and S were crying with laughter. Eventually, and rather sulkily, I changed into my pyjamas and spent most of the film hoping that no-one came to the door.

But I have a solution! I have bought myself a couple of rather nifty vintage patterns, one for a jumpsuit and one for a simple shift dress. They're actually from the 1960s but they're in my size and were an absolute steal!

Bought from Melancholy Junebug Vintage Delights

I'm going to follow the indomitable Mrs Fogarty's advice and make these into my At Home outfits. According to her wife dressing guide, these outfits should be "extravagant, the over-all ensemble being one you could not possibly wear outside your own home". So I am going to make myself ones, with co-ordinating turbans, in fabulously over-the-top fabrics like chinese brocade trimmed with fur, velvet or even pink satin trimmed in marabou to wear as I float around my home and recline glamorously on the furniture. Well maybe not the floating or reclining but it certainly would add a bit of vintage glamour when I'm curled up in my favourite armchair with a cup of cocoa.

Mrs H x

Friday, 21 September 2012

Cupboard Pizza

Friday nights are Movie Nights. I love movie night. We all bicker about pick which film we want to watch, pull out the beanbags, turnout the lights and watch while we pig out on Cupboard Pizza and freshly popped popcorn. It's sheer delight.

We normally watch a Disney film and, in the spirit of the experiment, I voted for watching one of the classic movies like Cinderella or Snow White. But since they've watched them so many times even K can repeat them word for word, I got outvoted (well actually I got booed at but it meant the same thing). Instead we watched Tangled and it was a hoot. K fell in love with Maximus the horse, S loved all the hitting on the head with frying pans (a little too much if you ask me) and D, for all his complaining that "it's a girl's movie", was laughing hardest of all.

Disney's Tangled on DVD

Cupboard Pizza is a bit of a family tradition. It started when we stopped ordering in pizza, because quite frankly it gets a pricey week after week, but I had forgotten to buy any frozen pizzas from the supermarket. So I used up the last of the yeast and bread flour to make a base and set the kids loose in the cupboard to find ingredients to go on top. We put it all in our largest roasting dish and ended up with a HUGE deep pan pizza. The first time we were quite lucky. It was barbecue sauce, left over roast chicken, sliced ham, pineapple and cheese. We haven't always been so lucky. They seem to be a little obsessed with pickle and sweetcorn, and Spam. Together. I drew the line at chocolate spread and breakfast cereal.

During the 1950s, watching home movies would have been possible on a projector but commercial films certainly wouldn't. We would have had to go to the cinema. However, there will only be modern films available to watch at our local theatre and the cost would be astronomical. So after discussing it with Mr H, we have decided that as I go on through the experiment, we will keep Movie Night at home but restrict the films to those that were available before or during the 1950s. It's not a perfect solution (if the booing is anything to go by) but it's important family time that I'm not willing to give up for the sake of whimsy. Now I've just got to find some family friendly films...

Mrs H x

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Or Maybe Not

Today started off so well. I woke up early and made the effort to dress nicely in a mid-calf plaid pencil skirt, chartreuse cardigan (both gifts from my fabulous uber-stylish mother) and added a bit of 1950s flair with a wide black patent belt, matching heels and pearls. But that was about as long as it lasted.

I had decided last night that, for breakfast, I was going to make these. I mean who doesn't love bacon and pancakes, so putting the two together must be twice as good right?

Best cookbooks and recipe cards from readers vintage collections.

Well, firstly I had forgotten to put the dishwasher on overnight (did they have dishwashers in the 1950s?) and so the big frying pan was still dirty from the day before. And then whilst I was fishing it out I managed to get my sleeve covered in custard, but that was okay because as I was washing it up I managed to soak the same sleeve, removing the custard but replacing it with greasy water instead. Not that I should have bothered because it's so old and awful that everything I tried to fry in it stuck like glue, so I ended up having to make mini-pancakes in the tiny frying pan which is just big enough to fry an egg. Needless to say, I ended up waaaay behind schedule.

Of course, whilst I was struggling (and turning the air blue) in the kitchen, the children were beautifully behaved and helpful. Yeah, didn't sound likely did it. S decided that she wanted to wear her party dress to school (a beautiful handmade pink silk frock with a matching petticoat and crystal organza overlay, another beautiful gift from my mother) and threw the tantrum of all tantrums trying to get her own way. Whilst D just wouldn't get out of bed, even when threatened with a wet flannel and a water spray, and by the time I had dealt with them, I realised that K had climbed into the kitchen cupboard and was working her way through a jar of pickles. Aaaaargh!

But we got there eventually. By 8 'o'clock we were all dressed and clean and wolfing down bacon pancakes. Admittedly, I didn't have time to put any make-up on or do my hair until after I had done the school run and the kitchen (and the bedrooms, and the bathroom, and everywhere else in the darned house) was a disaster area but we got to school on time, remembered all the bookbags and lunchboxes, were dressed smartly and had a proper cooked breakfast instead of just rice crispies. So I suppose I should really class this morning as a success. I suppose. Or maybe not.

Mrs H x

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Good Start

"Wife-dressing is many things:
An art.
A science.
A labor of love.
A means of self-expression.
And, above all, a contributing factor to a happy marriage."

'Wife Dressing,The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife" 
by Anne Fogarty, 1959

This may be my first stumbling block on the path to being a 1950s housewife because, quite frankly, my wardrobe is a joke. Just recently, in a bid to be more organised, I got rid of the masses of worn out, ill-fitting, unused rags garments in my wardrobe and now all I have left are 3 dresses, 6 skirts, 2 blouses, 7 pullovers, 4 cardigans, 8 t-shirts and 3 pairs of shoes. Somewhat anaemic no?

In an ideal world I would start off my journey to vintage housewife-hood with a vast array of veiled hats, white gloves and crinoline petticoats. However it is not to be, and sadly we do not have the funds for me to go out and buy them. Well at least not all at once. But darling Mr H has jiggled our finances, so that each month I have a little something to spend on obtaining that vast array. Ain't he a doll?

Even though I am a vintage lover, I am not going to buy vintage clothes. They are rarely big enough that they fit me and those that are, are either too delicate to withstand the rigors of three rowdy children or made out of icky icky nylon or deeply unflattering for my figure. I'm not going to buy vintage shoes either but only because I have a real thing about feet and the thought of wearing second hand shoes makes my skin crawl. Instead I am going to sew my own clothes, building up my wardrobe bit by bit, by using vintage or reproduction patterns and whatever gems I can find in the local fabric market.

But in the meantime I will simply use the limited clothing I already have and make an effort to be as neatly groomed as would be expected of me in the 1950s including curling my hair, painting my nails, wearing red lipstick and wearing pearls. All of which I did today. A good start!

Mrs H x

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Time For A Change


I'm Mrs H. 

I'm writing this blog to document and share my journey from a flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants scruffbag to organised, immaculately presented, always cheerful, 1950s housewife. Or not, as the case may be.

I am an at-home wife to Mr H. We started dating in school and have been married for almost forever. He is scarily smart and endlessly reasonable. He is my perfect foil and the centre of my world. 

I am also a mother to a fabulous son, D aged 10, and two beautiful daughters, S aged 4 and K aged 2. They are loud, messy and the greatest adventure of my life. 

I spend every moment of free time I have knitting, baking and sewing. I live for the old-fashioned like drinking tea out of teacups and saucers, embroidered tablecloths, handwritten letters, brown paper parcels and vintage patterns. I wear fur but I lie when anyone asks because I don't want to be covered in red paint! I am technically overweight but Mr H loves my upholstery and, more importantly, so do I. My mother is my best friend and I'm happiest when we go out together for tea and cake and a good old gossip. 

We are a fairly traditional household, in that we have clearly defined roles. My husband is the head of our household. He is in charge of the finances, taking care of the D.I.Y and has the final word on all big family decisions. I am the heart of our household. I am in charge of the laundry, cleaning, cooking and taking care of the children. Although I must point out that Mr H is an incredibly involved hands-on father, taking every opportunity to help with homework, bath times, bed times and nappies. My children are all expected to work in and around the house, D has more 'grown up' jobs like mowing the lawn and washing the car whilst S and K have 'little girl' jobs like making the beds and hanging out the washing, and we are passionate in raising them with the ethics of hard work, humility and honesty. (Manners and modesty go a long way too in my book.)

Well that's the theory. Sounds quite quiet and calm doesn't it? The reality is far far different. It's generally bedlam. We rush around like headless chickens, always late in the mornings and flopping into bed exhausted at night. It's time for a change.

So, and this is where the blog comes in, I am going to take my love of all things 1950s to change things for the better. I giving myself a year to change the cacophonous chaos to a sunshine vision of beautifully cooked healthy meals, children with immaculate table manners, clean tidy rooms filled with cut flowers and lastly a calm and smiling housewife in pretty dresses and even prettier aprons.  

I hope you enjoy my journey as much as I will. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it!

Mrs H x