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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 3 (June 1, 1940)

Our Women's Section

page 57

Our Women's Section

The Handy Woman

Box Craft.

What I may call “box craft” is the art of using wooden boxes in the making of simple furniture. A grocer can usually supply suitable boxes for such articles as those illustrated.

The curtained “pedestal” is for shoes. It is made from two square boxes, each box holding two rows of shoes, held in position, under toe and instep, by an expanding curtain rod stretched tightly. The front curtain is held on the same type of rod. The top and sides may be painted after sandpapering the wood, or plain or matching material may be stretched over and lacked in position.

A slightly more ambitious effort is the low box ottoman. Two or three boxes are placed side by side and the top lightly padded with kapoc. (Or a fat squab will provide a really comfortable window seat). Furniture braid gives a professional finish to the top and also holds the skirt gathers in position. Special furniture tacks are best for fixing the braid. Use the boxes for what you will—shoes, shoe cleaners, books. Shelves can easily be added if desired. To link up ottoman and window, the side curtains can be made longer to reach the top of the ottoman.

If you have a dainty petticoat dressing-table, use a box as foundation for a matching stool. Just pad the top and make a gathered skirt.

The attractivess of this type of furniture depends on the cover material. If possible make it match something clse in the room, e.g., cushions or curtains. Don't do a rough job, or you will miss the dainty effect, no matter how charming the chintz you have chosen.

Box furniture can help to solve the furnishing problems in the family house, where the children's belongings always seem to overflow the available cupboard and drawer space. Make them (or, better still, let them help to make) box furniture for bedroom and playroom. Children are always pleased to have cupboards “of their very own,” and will be more tidy when these are provided. For the play-room, materials must be serviceable, but they should nevertheless be pleasant to the eye.

Too Tall, Too Thin.

You've met her, haven't you, the lean and lanky woman with the scraggy neck, the stooping shoulders (as if she's afraid doors won't take her 5ft. 8ins.) and the bony hands which hardly seem to belong at the ends of her thin arms.? She has an “ugly duckling” attitude towards life, and a permanently apologetic air.

Tell her to snap out of it! Her problem isn't nearly so difficult as that of her plump firned, for it's easier tto disguise lack of curves than to get rid of accentuated ones. Also, with fashions what they are at present, the thin woman should be smartest of the smart.

But before she starts on an orgy of clothes planning, tell her to take stock of herself, to study herself dispassionately in a mirror from every angle, trying to catch herself off guard. Does she notice the chin poke and the shoulder stoop? If she throws out her chest (what there is of it), holds up her head, and steps out with a swing, she'll lose that awkward unco-ordinated look, and, when she has the right clothes, she'll have line. A course of drill, or curythmics, or dancing, or even country walking, will help her tremendously—and probably improve her appetite!

How nice to be able to eat what she likes and as much as she likes, and to know that she won't get fat, But she may be able to fill out a few of the page 58 hollows, in cheeks and neck for instance, especially if she adds to good diet (dairy produce, cod liver oil, fruit and vegetables, sufficient proteins and starches) plenty of rest and avoidance of worry.

Now for clothes. For out-of-doors she should be chunky. The box coat, with padded shoulders and a comfortable high neck, is made for her, especially if it is carried out in a rough tweed. (Hairy, knobby and tufty effects should be her choice in woollens, blistered and matt surfaces in silks). All her jackets, for day or evening, should be of the same style. A slim skirt under such a jacket is very smart. So is a full flare, or pleats. Shoes, too, are chunky. So are hats—particularly must she avoid the upward line.

A rough tweed suit, with boxy jacket featuring high-neck closing, or wide lapels and a gay scarf, is made for her. An overblouse is better than a tuck-in one, for thin people so often haven't sufficient hips to manage a neat waist. Have shoulder interest on blouses and sweaters.

Because a woman is thin, she must not say, “Oh, anything fits me.” “Anything” doesn't! It hangs floppily, as on a scare-crow. The thin woman must have well-cut clothes.

For day frocks she will choose a high neckline, a full bodice and shoulder emphasis. If her hands are well-shaped, a long sleeve, fitting the fore-arm closely, is flattering.

For evening wear she is lucky again. There is no need to expose salt cellars and shoulder blades. If she is self-consious about her thin arms, she can wear long sleeves—definitely smart! Boleros, jackets, fur capes, are just right for the thin one.

Chunky accessories that the plump one covets, but avoids, are gladly collected by the thin one. Outsizes in hand-bags, she loves. She doesn't even mind shopping baskets. (I can even imagine her carrying home a cabbage without spoiling the tout ensemble!). She cuddles her hands into a fur muff-bag on cold days. She collects woolly gloves with deep gauntlets and in bright colours. She adores heavy gilt necklaces and bracelets, but wouldn't be seen dead in pendant ear-rings.

She varies her hair style to suit the occasion, but always there is a discreet bunching of hair at the sides in order to widen her face.

She's a very smart person, this thin girl of ours.

Frayed Cuffs.

Men hate frayed edges, but it is a pity to discard a good skirt because of worn cuffs. When a double cuff has started to fray, make a new buttonhole half an inch below each of the upper buttonholes. The fold will then come in a different place, and the worn part, neatly darned, will be on the inside of the cuff. Don't forget to sew up the old buttonholes, or the man of the house will get in a real muddle when inserting cuff links and won't quite appreciate what a clever wife he has.

Health Notes.
The Medicine Cupboard.

A well-planned medicine cupboard should contain reasonable quantities of the things that can normally be used for the greatest number of purposes. For instance, bicarbonate of soda can be given for vomiting, biliousness, heartburn, indigestion, etc. It also makes a good lotion—a teaspoonful dissolved in a pint of warm water—for chafed and sore conditions, and for applying to irritating rashes. If made up in a strong solution—as much as will dissolve in the quantity of water—it makes an excellent application for insect bites.

Friar's balsam should also be given a place in the medicine cupboard. It makes a good first-aid dressing for cuts and grazes. A teaspoonful added to a pint of boiling water makes a good vapour for inhaling in cases of bronchitis, feeling of rawness in the windpipe, or even for a cold in the head.

Permanganate of potash is a good third. One or two crystals dissolved in a tumblerful of warm water makes a very good antiseptic gargle or mouth-wash.

Glycerine makes an excellent dressing for cuts and grazes in children, because it does not sting as some antiseptics do. Several drops warmed (but not hot), and dropped into the ear, make an excellent remedy for earache provided that there is no discharge. It is also of value for sore throats, added to equal parts of lemon juice and honey.

Peroxide of hydrogen, tincture of iodine, and bandages, should all have a place in our ideal medicine cupboard. Add to these a bottle of aspirins and also a bottle of magnesia.

Dietetic Tips.


Onions bring sleep and are especially valuable in war-time when nerve tension is apt to disturb the habit of sound sleep. The following is a simple supper dish:—

Thickly slice a pound of onions. Put them in a saucepan with a pint of water, a pinch of salt and a little butter. Let boil gently for rather more than half an hour. Serve with toasted wholemeal bread.

Fried onions on toast, besprinkled with grated cheese, is an appetising dish.

Mix four tablespoonsful of onions with a pound of mashed potatoes, stir in one egg and a cup of wholemeal breadcrumbs, add seasoning, shape the mixture into oval cakes, roll in crumbs and fry in hot fat.

Onion Soup.

Slice three large onions and fry them slowly until delicately browned. Turn the fried onions into a saucepan and add a quart of water, salt and pepper. Let simmer for half an hour. Take a little of the cooled soup liquor and beat up the yolk of an egg in it. Off the fire, stir this into the soup. Reheat without letting the soup boil. Have crisply toasted bread with this soup, input a few cubes of very dry toast in the soup. The addition of grated cheese makes a nutritious dish.

Onions added to potatoes which are being fried, boiled or baked will please “onion-lovers.”

page 59

Onion Gruel.

One large onion; 1½ tablespoons ordinary bran; I pint milk; pinch of salt.

Simmer for fifteen hours, and take as hot as possible just before bedtime.


Vitamin Tonic.

Whip an egg in a glass of milk, add I tablespoon ground almonds, and the juice of an orange.

Olive Oil.

Beat up a teaspoon of olive oil with two tablespoons of lemon juice to a froth, then pour in half a cup of hot milk.

Peanut Butter.

Roast peanuts in the oven to a nice brown, skin and put through mincer until completely soft. Melt sufficent butter, stir in I teaspoonful of salt, and stir in Ilb, of the ground peanuts. Put in jars to cool.


Regency Pound Cake.

Six ozs. flour; ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg; 6 ozs. castor sugar; 4 eggs; pinch salt; 1½ teaspoons baking powder; 6 ozs. butter; grated rind; ½ lemon; brandy—I tablespoon—if desired.

Line a greased cake tin with greaseproof paper. Mix the flour with the baking powder, nutmeg and salt, and sift thrice. Beat the butter until soft, then beat in the sugar by degrees. Beat till fluffy. Stir in the lemon rind. Beat in the egg, adding each one separately, then gradually stir in the flour. Add the brandy. Turn into the prepared tin. Bake in a moderate oven for about 1¾ to 2 hours.

Chelsea Buns.

One lb. sifted flour; 3 well-beaten eggs; ½ pint warm milk; I oz. yeast; 3 ozs. sugar; 3 ozs. butter; I oz. currants; I oz. chopped peel.

Cream the yeast and I teaspoon of sugar and leave 15 minutes. Sift the flour into a warm basin. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast and sugar mixture. Mix to a soft dough with beaten eggs and warm milk. Leave in warm place to rise for ¾ hour. Then turn out on to floured board and knead. Roll out and flake the butter over and sprinkle with the sugar. Fold up and then roll out again and sprinkle with currants and chopped peel. Roll this time as for a jam roll. Cut with a sharp knife. Place on a hot greased tin and put to rise for 15 minutes. Bake in a hot oven. Brush with sugar and water and wrap in a tea towel.

Danish Meat Roll.

I lb. minced gravy beef; I large onion; I carrot; 2 eggs; I sprig of mint and parsley; pepper and salt to taste; 2 cupsful cold mashed potatoes.

Chop onion, carrot, mint and parsley. Mix into beef, then mix in mashed potatoes, pepper and salt, then add beaten egg. Tie into cloth like a sausage, tying at both ends and boil in pot for 2 hours.

Honey Biscuits.

Cream together ½ cup butter and I cup sugar; then rub in 2 cups of flour sifted with I teaspoon cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon of carbonate of soda. Drop in 2 eggs unbeaten and add ½ cup of hot honey. Mix well and roll out thin, cut into rounds and bake until golden brown in not too hot an oven, as the honey burns easily.


Two cups flour; ½ teaspoon salt; 7/8 cup milk; 3 teasponons baking powder.

Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add milk, mix throughly, drop into stew and cook for 15 minutes.

Ginger Creams.

Roll out foundation cream to a strip. Cover the centre with preserved ginger. Form into a long thin roll. Cut into small rounds. Leave till set.

Berry Dishes.

Wash 2 lbs, of firm green gooseberries and put them in a pan with a gill of water and ½ lb. sugar. Bring to the boil, let the fruit simmer until it is soft, then rub through a fine sieve and let it cool. Then stir in ½ pint thick cream.

Strawberries and raspberries make delicious foods, and there is no need to cook them. Simply prepare the fruit, sprinkle with sugar, let stand for a few hours, then proceed with the sieving.

National Centennial One-Act Play Competition.

The attention of our readers is drawn to an advertisement appearing in this issues announcing the organisation which has been arranged by the Centennial Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the British Drama League and the Auckland Drama Council to give effect to the decision of the Government to include in its programme of National Centennial Celebrations a festival of community drama. The festival will take the form of a competition in which play-acting groups in all parts of the Dominion should be interested.