Tag Archives: household wisdom

Taking Care of Details

My horoscope says that I must pay attention to detail today because that will get me further than being slapdash. And I must not rush. Fine by me; the ‘must not rush’ bit. I am all for the relaxed life. Besides, I am not sure where I am supposed to be going , in such a hurry, anyway, especially as  I am still in my very old house clothes. Slapdash is a little more difficult  to avoid since I have already slap-dashed the kitchen with my cake-making efforts. However, if I have followed the recipe carefully, and  in detail, all should be well. ( So, take that, horoscope!)

I have been making Canadian War Cake

Canadian War Cake

Canadian War Cake

which is a variant of Boiled Fruit Cake or Great Depression Cake;

Great Depression Cake

Great Depression Cake

that is, a cake which is usually eggless, butterless and milkless and relatively easy to make when  money or ingredients are scarce. The recipe I am using is from a reproduction copy (complete with reproduced  age-old stains)  of   “Nurse Maude’s Household Book”. The original book was published at the beginning  of the 20th Century to raise money for the our local District Nursing Association and was sold for one shilling.

Nurse Maude's Household Book

Nurse Maude’s Household Book

The reproduction copy that I own was also sold as a fundraiser (cost $10.00)P1030372 for the  Nurse Maude Organisation which  continues to provide home nursing care and hospice/palliative care for our community. Nurse Maude has provided services to our city and surrounding areas for 115 years, and it all started with one Sibylla Emily Maude ,

Nurse Maude Herself

Nurse Maude Herself

born in Christchurch 11 August 1862. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2m42/maude-sibylla-emily

“Emily Sibylla Maude was a pioneer in nursing, dedicating her life to serving the needs of the poor. Her death, in Christchurch on July 12 1935, marked the beginning of the first and most recognised, district nursing scheme in New Zealand. The eldest of 8 children, Nurse Maude was born in Christchurch in St Peter’s Parish on August 11 1862.

Her interest in nursing began as a hospital visitor and in 1889 she went to England to train at Middlesex Hospital as a paying Lady Probationer.

In November 1892 she set sail for home and started work as Matron of Christchurch Hospital, but in October of 1896, seeing the increasing need of the community, she took her nursing to the streets of Christchurch to nurse and care for the poor. Within her first year, Nurse Maude had made more than 1,000 visits on foot, firmly establishing the first district nursing service in New Zealand as an integral part of the community.”

My grandmothers were great admirers of Nurse Maude. Her funeral was a huge event and many hundreds turned up  to honour her.  I think my grandmother and my mother were amongst the hundreds  who went  to pay their respects.

I am also a  great admirer of the Nurse Maude organisation, in its modern manifestation.   In years past, I have been very grateful for their home nursing services. And, nowadays, I often buy goods from their Shops and, from time to time, their frozen meals are my life savers.  Fortunately, on this warm spring afternoon, all I really need from Nurse Maude is a slice of her War Cake; the recipe for which she guarantees is reliable.

Small details:  Nurse Maude is referred to as Sibylla Emily Maude and sometimes Emily Sibylla in the articles I have researched! Oh,and I wish she had a recipe for hayfever. The warm spring afternoon is playing havoc with my allergies 😦

© silkannthreades

In thrift gear

Every now and then, when the large figures on household bills loom larger than any figures have a right to loom, my brain shifts in to thrift gear. It determines, with complete and utter disregard for reality, that, if I save a little money by making, say, my own soap powder or fabric softener, this will magically  translate in to a less overwhelming invoice. No matter how many times my little forays in to thriftiness are squashed like a fly under a swat, the thrifty portion of my mind refuses to die quietly. Thriftiness is engrained, engraved, stamped and imprinted deep in my being; it’s inescapable and, when thrifty thoughts power forth, I find them irresistible. Such was the case yesterday.

I had barely swigged my morning coffee (yes, I swigged it,) before I was off to the garden to gather fresh thyme and sage for a room freshener and a scented drawer sachet, the inspiration for which came from ‘Household Wisdom’*  .  I dried the herbs in the microwave, crushed them between my fingertips, tossed them into some baking soda, and seasoned the mixture with a few drops of lavender oil. And there, in a trice, was a lovely fragrant powder for a dainty dish, with enough to spare for a sachet.The sweet smell of thriftinessPlease note that, whilst searching for something to use as a sachet, I realised that my brown paper package,  pink tissue paper and green ribbon from my Lizzie Rose purchase was the very something required. It was the ideal receptacle for home-made freshener. And ‘Household Wisdom’ informs me that by wrapping dried herbs in tissue paper I  will always  have scented paper on hand to enfold a special gift. How wise 🙂

But onwards with my day of inspired thriftery… (sorry,  but I was getting tired of the words thrift and thriftiness and I didn’t want to be a penny pincher, which sounds mean.) Next step was to gather up the runty and disfigured early season apples from the front yard and transform them in to stewed apple and apple cake……..Cake + Apple = Apple Cake

but, wait, that’s not all …I  then took the apple peelings and added a few  handfuls  of Chilean Guavas aka New Zealand Cranberries from the hedges by the door, Guavas or Cranberries, take your pick.

and simmered them together in a little pot of lemon flavoured water. After some minutes , the resultant slush was strained to obtain a pearly  pink base for a delicious fruit cordial ( yet to be made!)Pink Lemonade?

What next? Why a thrifty supper, of course. One of my favourites; mini meatloaf muffins. Meatball muffins

The recipe I use is related to a basic meat loaf recipe but my version includes grated carrot and zucchini and plenty of my home-grown herbs for flavouring.  I make small individual meat loaves by baking the mixture in muffin pans. Why? It’s nothing to do with being sparing.  It’s a visual thing. I prefer the look of small portions. Yes, weird, but I digress.

We ate our meat with home-grown corn, tomatoes and beans. We did not have to eat the string or herbs. There are limits to how far my thrift extends.

So, that was my day in full thrift throttle. I am sure I saved cents by the dozens. Yet, despite my best efforts and enthusiasm  those fat, fulsome figured bills remain determinedly fixed and undiminished. They haven’t shed a penny.  Might have guessed. SWAT! SPLAT!

Footnote: I started this post as an idle exploration of life fueled by thrift. However, it has raised a more serious question, and that is, no matter how thrifty and hardworking we are ( and thrift requires a great deal of hard work and dedication), saving money real enough to pay bills can only happen if we have the opportunity to earn, at the very least, a living wage. If that is not possible,  either through personal, unavoidable circumstances or because economic models prohibit full employment, how do we, as a just and moral society, ensure that  non wage earners are provided with a decent living.  I find these articles written from an Australian point of view, very thoughtful and interesting.  http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/payrise-for-dole-makes-sense-20130315-2g5oo.html and http://newmatilda.com/2013/01/30/stand-welfare-state

I don’t know what the solution is but I do know that, as it is on the road, so it is in life. To make the best of the conditions before us,  we  need to change gear from time to time or we will grind to a horrible halt.

*’ Household Wisdom’ by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

© silkannthreades