The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 11 (February 1, 1937)
Our Woman Section — Timely Notes and Useful Hints
February is a dead month as far as clothes are concerned. Even if your vacation occurs then, and you are going cruising or beaching, you have already had weeks of wear out of the clothes you are going to take with you—at least, you have if you are sensible. You will have discovered, too, just which clothes are most sensible for the “picnic life” most New Zealanders lead in the summer.
You have found, for instance, that “best” shoes, hats and coats are out of the picture; that canvas beach shoes are in wear all the time; on beach, in the house, garden or street; that, for most occasions, bare legs, attractively browned, need no silk covering; that a large hat for sun should be a cheap one, so that the fact of its being left on the beach anchored by a stone while you swim, or being crushed into a week-end bag, will hurt neither your peace of mind nor your purse; that beach frocks are the only wear, plus two or three “better” frocks for summer evenings. Now, too, being well browned, one has changed one's powder tint to suit the darker skin.
There is nought to worry about for this trip save the packing of one's every-day gear, not forgetting the coat for cooler evenings, the not-too-good cardigan or pullover for chillier days or fishy pastimes, and the raincoat and beret, weather like ours demands.
A good holiday to you! Meanwhile, those of us left at home will endeavour to carry on the holiday regime in the hours that remain to us after daily toil is finished.
Reflections On Grandmothers.
I don't know what sort of life my grandmother lived when she was a girl. She was not the sort of woman who reminisced interminably and presented me, gratis, with a freely touched-up picture of hen youth. Victorian childhoods, are known to me only by the reading of a few novels and plays, and, more, by a study of the outlook of those times and by a realisation of how ideas on social and individual behaviour must have influenced the development of youth.
I know she helped a great deal in the house. There seems never to have been a time when she was not capable of scrubbing, patching, dusting, preserving. She led then, an “active” life. In other words, she was continually bustling, except of an afternoon or evening when the mending basket was emptied and she sat, “tidied,” in her stiff corsets and best dress, hair neatly swept back from forehead and ears, and read (but not too often or with too catholic a taste) or sewed (often and beautifully). Crochet work of hers, lacy-fine, yards and yards of it, gives me a full feeling at the heart when I remember how her eyes, faded-blue, strained to read in her last days, or rested, lids lying quietly over them, while her hands, work-gnarled, clicked the bright knitting-needles forever busy for sons and grandsons.
I think she sometimes went for picnics with a merry crowd, all piling into a horse-drawn vehicle or two, more or less grand according to the occasion. The venue would be some shady spot by lake or river, where the girls would busy themselves with the setting out of a grand luncheon, baked in hot kitchens the day before by themselves, while the men boiled water for tea or swam.
After the clearing away, of lunch there would be desultory chat and a walk, in groups dwindling sometimes into pairs, along some well-marked path, or to the top of some neighbouring small hill to admire the view. The girls' hats were shady and swathed, in the “brake,” by veils which protected white skins from sun and dust.
There would be fun on this picnic, perhaps a little horse-play, but altogether it would be a very genteel affair. So were all my grandmother's outings—genteel affairs. She certainly was always busy, but she never knew the joy of perfect physical exertion, the glow that comes as one's body cleaves its way against the smack of small waves, the feeling of poise and “rightness” as, evening approaching, the tennis court takes on a glory wherein one dances, moving perfectly across and across, weaving curves of motion to and from the ball which plops and pings as one feels it always should.
Did grandmamma know these joys we know? Or did tight-lacing and an enforced frigidity rob her of physical happiness? She certainly seems to have been a strong woman, rearing her large family one-handed, while the other hand dealt with a large house, a garden and a husband who required a little managing. Perhaps she lived almost entirely outside herself—enviable perhaps when one considers the ups and downs of one's own personal existence, but somehow machinelike. She was adjusted to her immediate duties, but never to the self of which she was probably but rarely and dimly aware.
A fine woman, my grandmother. Despite my strivings I shall, at every age, feel immature in comparison with her.page 58
To be at odds with our immediate universe, to hug that unhappy feeling, to quicken our resentment at some small lack of consideration in others, gratifies something in us. Wilfully we assume the pose of martyrdom and in doing so increase our sense of self-importance.
Mankind is anything but rational. It is only by the exertion of considerable intellectual force that we can prevent our ego feeding upon the hurts of others. So most of us blunder on, “cutting off our noses to spite our faces,” alienating those dear to us in our blind hitting-out. Just as a baby kicks and throws its tiny arms about in the process of physical development so do we wildly use our faculties especially that of speech in the cause of some sort of personal enlargement. Yet we know in our thinking moments that such a form of development is harmful.
All, in these times of blind rational “hitting-out” are yet ready to pray for peace on earth. We only ask: “We want it; but what can we do to obtain it?” Meanwhile we are engaged in numerous small wars of our own. Of these wars, none can be brought to perpetual peace save that waged with oneself. It is only by the exertion of the reasoning faculty in times of social strain that the individual can attain concord within himself.
All this seems very “high-falutin'.” It is my attempt to put into words my idea of social life and of the quest of individual peace which I am inclined to think is a necessary prelude to world peace.
Next time I feel irritated at the behaviour of a dear friend, I want to recall this idea of mine and to realise that he (or she) is suffering a moment of stress, is temporarily at war with himself, and that it is not my part to join in and make the war triangular; that any careless remark or casual hurt is not inflicted by him rationally, but is a by-product of the process he is undergoing.
When I myself feel irrationally annoyed, ready to be unpleasant to any who come near, may I realise that I cannot conclude my war by embroiling others in it. It is a civil war in which I must invite no outside power to join. For, after all, on the friendliness of these outside powers depends my social happiness.
Postscript: I settled down to write about the “miseries” probably because I was suffering from them myself. In the eagerness of the pursuit of words, I have lost them, dumped my load. That is a marvellous thing. In pursuit of my hobby, as you no doubt find in the pursuit of yours, the mental landscape lightens considerably.
Eye Strain And Electricity.
I don't always believe what I read in the papers, but a report published in the English press of a demonstration staged by the Electric Lamp Manufacturers' Association of Great Britain put forward some sensible assertions, the principal of them being that through the electrician and the optician the eyesight could be efficiently preserved.
An interesting address dealt with the measurement of light under which we use our eyes. Just as we speak of a “degree” as the term of measurement for heat, light is measured in “foot candles.” The pertinent part of the speech, to my mind, was this: “Sunlight on the lawn in midsummer would measure 10,000 foot candles; in the shade of a tree it would be reduced to 1,000 foot candles; under a verandah it would fall to 500 foot candles, and close to a window something like 200 foot candles. But at night, after the sun had set, we drew up an easy chair and with a 60 to 100 watt lamp got no more than 5 foot candles.”
Obviously, then, the illumination in most of our homes needs to be increased. The placing of lights has improved considerably, though many people still endeavour to carry out eye-work with the aid of one central bulb in a room. For reading or sewing, you see a comfort-loving and sensible member of the household pull up a chair so that he or she can sit with the light behind and a little to one side. Unthinking younger members, or unfortunate visitors flop on any handy seat and do their best with the illumination that reaches them.
Many people hesitate to instal stronger light bulbs in their homes for fear of incurring heavier bills. If only the economical person realised the danger to the eyes of inferior illumination, she (it is usually a she) would change the bulbs immediately.
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Keep a saucer containing plate-powder in a cupboard by the sink. Any stained silver may then be rubbed up during dish-washing.page 59
Dressings for windows! Spot muslins are daintiest — and smartest. Notice the white spots, small, medium or large, in lines, in circles, in designs, all over pastel muslins; or else coloured dots parade on white or cream.
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For a colour note in a living-room, choose a tapestry stool. There will be the joy of making and the joy of using. Designs are here to suit any type of furniture—Jacobean, Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, Louis XVI—or jazz for the motley room.
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Always clean flower vases before storing them. You will then never be annoyed by stains when arranging flowers in a hurry.
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If you value your books, and yet enjoy lending them to friends, keep a notebook in which to enter the name of book lent, the date, and name of friend. You will probably lose one or two friends by this method, but save your library entire. Any librarian will tell you that among the people who would regard with indignation any accusation of dishonesty, are a few who lapse where books are concerned.
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Four ounces flour, ½oz. butter (melted), 1 tablespoon cream, 1 yoke egg, 2 whites eggs, good pinch of salt, ½ pint warm water (about).
Sieve the flour into a basin, add the salt, yoke of egg, butter and cream, and stir until smooth, adding the water gradually. Beat well, put aside for at least half an hour, then add the white of eggs, previously stiffly-whipped, and use as required.
Time.—About one hour. Average cost, 5d. to 6d.
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One fair-sized orange, 3oz. butter, 3oz. sugar, 3 yokes eggs, 1 white of egg, ½ teaspoon vanilla essence, short crust paste (or puff pastry).
Grate the rind of the orange. Cream the butter and sugar well together, beat each yoke in separately, add orange juice and rind, and essence. Whisk the white of egg stiffly, add it lightly to the rest of the ingredients, and pour the mixture into the tartlet moulds, previously lined with paste. Bake from fifteen to twenty minutes in a moderate oven, and when three-quarters baked, dredge them well with castor sugar.
Time.—Thirty to forty minutes. Average cost, 8d., exclusive of the paste. Sufficient for nine or ten tartlets.
White Mountain Icing.
Sugar, 2 cups; cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon; egg (whites), 2; baking powder, ½ teaspoon; hot water, 1½ cup; lemon juice, ½ lemon.
Mix sugar, cream of tartar and baking powder, add water and let it boil without stirring. Beat whites stiffly, add boiling syrup a spoonful at a time, beating well. Keep syrup boiling, continue until about half the syrup has been added. Add lemon juice. Boil the rest of the syrup until it forms a thread, add it all at once to the mixture and continue beating over warm water until the icing will remain in shape. Pour over cake immediately.
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Summer or Winter Beverages.—
2lbs. Blackberries, 1 pint vinegar, lib. sugar to each pint of juice. Put the b1ackberries into the vinegar and leave for 24 hours, then press out the juice, strain, and add 1lb. of sugar to every pint of juice and boil to a syrup (about three minutes). Cool and bottle. Allow about one tablespoonful of the vinegar to a tumblerful of water. Equally good for a summer or winter drink. Raspberries and black currants may be used in the same way.
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Home Made Sweets.
Ilb. sugar, 5oz. almonds, ipt. water, pinch of cream of tartar, almond essence.
Blanch and skin the almonds, cut them across in halves and dry them in the oven without browning. Dissolve sugar in the water, add cream of tartar and boil until a deep amber-coloured syrup is obtained. Remove from the fire, add the almonds, boil up again and pour on to a buttered plate.
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2lbs. golden syrup, Ilb. walnuts, I tablespoon glucose, I good pinch carbonate of soda.
Blanch the walnuts, chop them coarsely, and dissolve the carbonate of soda in a small quantity of hot water. Bring the syrup to boiling point, add the glucose and boil until ready. Remove from fire, stir in the prepared walnuts and carbonate of soda and at once pour on to a buttered plate. When sufficiently set mark into sections and when perfectly cold divide into cubes.
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3lbs. loaf sugar, ½lb. desiccated cocoanut, ½pt. water, vanilla essence, cochineal.
Line a shallow tin with grease-proof paper. Boil the sugar and water. Remove saucepan from fire, add the cocoanut and flavour to taste. Let it cool a little, then pour half into the prepared tin, and stand the vessel containing the remainder in hot water to prevent it setting. As soon as the portion in the tin is set add a few drops of cochineal to the preparation in the pan, and pour it over the ice in the tin. When cold turn out and cut in cubes.page 60