Daily Cleaning: Housewife Ideals

No one can be dogmatic about the daily cleaning of various rooms in the house. So many things influence the amount of work that can be done–the quantity of dust or soot in the air, for example, the philosophy of first things first, the number of rooms that must be cleaned, the size of the family, the age of the children, and the help or lack of it that the homemaker has.

…[W]e set before you an ideal. How nearly you can approach this ideal, especially as to daily cleaning, we cannot know.

America’s Housekeeping Book, 1941

Me neither, AHB. Me. Neither.

Rows of upright straw brooms.
We’re going to need more brooms.

Just as it would be silly to take Martha Stewart as the prototypical homemaker of today, looking to the home management books and magazines as an “authentic” guide to what every homemaker did in the mid 20th century is a mistake. As our pal, the AHB tells us, we’re talking about ideals. The mere fact that all these manuals exist speaks to the fact that “how to housewife” was not universal knowledge.

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My Life as a 1950s Housewife

Happy Women’s History Month!

Woohoo, it’s March! The time we take to remember that women have existed for all of history.

Seriously, we’ve been here THE WHOLE TIME.

Generally, Women’s History Month focuses on the women who were remarkably ahead of their time. The Elizabeth Cady Stantons and Harriet Tubmans of the world. But here at Retrofitting Vintage, we’re leaving the luminaries to actual historians, and focusing on an everyday woman of the mid-20th century.

That’s right, we’re talking about housewives.

1940's print illustration of cartoon woman sweeping.

And how shall we do so?

Why, with an ill-advised guinea pig journalism approach, of course. That is, in fact, how I roll. That’s right, it’s 1950s Housewife Month.

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Vintage Spiced Cream Pie Recipe

A picture of a slice of spiced cream pie on a plate. Text: 1953 Recipe for Spiced Cream Pie

Are you looking for a pie recipe that is somehow both traditional and fresh this Thanksgiving? Then have I got the pie for you. This vintage pie recipe fits in nicely with fall flavors but stands out from the crowd of apple and pumpkin.

This is an old-school sour cream and raisin pie, and it’s better than it sounds. It appears in 250 Superb Pies and Pastries, a 1953 recipe booklet, but the recipe is probably much older. It has serious prairie vibes.

A worn vintage pie recipe booklet "250 Superb Pies and Pastries" with a cherry pie and two cups of coffee on the cover.
You’ve got to be confident if you put “superb” right in the title.

The flavor settles somewhere between an oatmeal raisin cookie and custard, and it’s quickly become a favorite. Try it and see!

Looking for more old-fashioned pie recipes for Thanksgiving? I’ve got you covered.

This recipe appears in my upcoming pie booklet, available for free to any and all who subscribe to my email list.

5 Unique Vintage Holiday Pies will help you establish yourself as a pie-baking expert and shine at any winter potluck. These mid-century recipes are tested and modern palate-approved, with clear instructions to make things easy as…well, pie.

It’s coming out the first week of December, and every recipe is a winner. Subscribe to get your copy as soon as it’s out.

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4 Fabulous 1940s Sweaters to Knit for Fall

The very hint of fall makes me want to dig in deep to new projects, the cozier the better. Right now I’m captivated by 1940s sweaters.

Autumn is a great time to take on more complex projects, with little needles and skinny yarn. These projects can keep you warm while you’re knitting them, as they slowly grow over your lap. Then, they keep you warm when you wear them. They’re pretty much useful from the get-go.

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Old-Fashioned Pleasures of October 11

I think everyone gets a little old-fashioned on the first real days of fall. Suddenly, everybody is heading to an apple orchard, or baking a pumpkin pie, or inspired to catch a high school football game.

We’re all drawn to flannel, and knits, and cozy blankets on chilly nights. None of these things are terribly expensive–in fact, older things are often cozier.

These are a few of the old-fashioned pleasures of my week.

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