Saturday, 30 November 2013

23 February 1901 - Home Management Month by Month


In my last letter I gave you some hints about the arrangement of the store-room, and I promised a few more ideas on the same subject, before proceeding to the management of the larder.


Firstly, then, label all the jars and canisters in which you store your groceries, such as currants, rice, etc., and place the jars on the shelves, with the small jars in front if there is room for a double row, so that all the labels may be readily seen. All brushes should be hung up. If they are allowed to lie on the floor, the bristles become flattened and dirty, the broom does not sweep as well, and wears out much more quickly.

Keep a slate hanging in the store-room with a sponge and a piece of pencil attached, in order that when you find anything running short you may make a note of it. A small dustpan and brush and also a duster should be kept in the store-room for the use of the mistress of the house. She can then keep everything tidy in the store-room.

Candles keep best if stored in tin boxes; old biscuit boxes answer the purpose very well. The same rule applies to matches. They are less likely to be affected by damp if kept in this manner.

And now I will add a short list of things which easily deteriorate in a damp place, and which, whenever possible, should be kept dry. Sugar, flour, oatmeal, baking-powder, salt, soda, botax and blue are all things easily spoilt by damp.

Housewives will find it a good plan to set aside a shelf in the store-room for empty jam-jars, and see that as soon as the jar is empty it is washed, dried and returned to the store-room. Corks from bottles of all sizes may also be stored, and often come in useful. They should first be carefully washed and dried before they are put away.


The larder now claims our attention. Let us hope that it has been built on the cool and shady side of the house, and that it has a stone or brick floor, because it can then be swilled out daily, which keeps it both cool and clean. If however, the floor and shelves are of wood, it is advisable to scrub them thoroughly with hot water and soap, and then wipe them over with a cloth dipped in cold water to which has been added a small quantity of disinfectant – Condy’s fluid, Sanitas, or carbolic, as preferred. This should be done at least twice a week.

It is a good plan during hot weather to have a jar of fresh barm standing in the larder; this sweetens the air. The barm should be renewed weekly.

Milk or vegetables should never be kept in the meat larder. Milk quickly takes up germs and becomes sour, and green vegetables soon become stale and unwholesome.

If the larder has only sash windows and no perforated zinc, it is a good plan to stretch a piece of coarse muslin over the open sash. This may be made wet from day to day either with a solution of Condy’s fluid and water or carbolic. This keeps out both flies and dust, while at the same time it allows a free passage of air through the larder.

Many larders have not been constructed to allow a current of fresh air to sweep through them. This current of fresh air is very necessary; so if there is only one window, a good plan is to cut out one of the upper panels of the door, and fill in the aperture with either wire gauze or perforated zinc.


I will now give you a few hints about hanging up meat and game. First, be careful that the hooks on which you hang the meat are scrupulously clean. As meat-hooks in the larder are often fixtures, I prefer to use the double iron hooks to hang the meat on. These double hooks can be hung on to the fixed hooks. The reason that I prefer the double hooks is that they can be more easily kept clean and disinfected. Wash the hooks thoroughly in boiling water, then dip them in a solution of Condy’s fluid before passing the hooks through the meat.

In hot or damp weather wipe the meat dry then powder it well all over with a mixture of flour and black pepper, being careful to powder well under the flaps and creases of the meat. The meat should be examined each day, and any part which may have become fly-blown cut away.

The rule for hanging meat is to pass the hook through the sinewy part, and allow the meat to hang with the heaviest part downwards. This prevents the drip of blood which would result if the hook were passed through a fleshy part of the meat. All joints should be hung in an airy part of the larder, not over a shelf or near the wall.

Winged game should be hung by a string attached to one leg. By adopting this plan you spread out the wings and legs, and also, as the feathers are reversed, it allows the air to circulate more freely round the bird. Before being hung up, the bird should be well peppered round the vent, under the wings and legs, and round any parts which may have been shot. The birds should be examined daily.

Every morning all the cold meat should be put upon clean dry dishes, and placed in the most airy part of the larder. All stocks and sauces should also be examined to see if they require boiling up. The extra boiling will prevent them from turning sour.

Soups should be boiled up each day. If they contain vegetables, in hot weather they quickly ferment.

Never allow stock or soup to remain over-night in a metal vessel. The metal is liable to corrode, and this makes the soup turn sour. Great care should be taken that every vessel in which soup or stock is kept should be scalded and dried before being put away.


Bread should be kept in an earthenware pan with a closely-fitting lid. This prevents the bread becoming dry, and also by excluding the air you render the bread more wholesome, as it is liable to absorb any gases arising from meat.

One of the most common sources of waste in a household is bread. A careful housewife should look into her breadpan every morning, and instil into her maids the desirability of using up the pieces before cutting a fresh loaf. It is sometimes difficult to gauge exactly the amount of bread which will be required in a household, and should it happen that there is too much stale bread, the following is an excellent way of rendering a stale loaf fresh. Dip the loaf for one moment in some fresh milk or milk and water, making the bread wet all over, but on no account let it soak. Place the loaf in a moderate oven for about fifteen minutes, then allow it to get cold.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

16 February 1901 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

KATHERINE:- What are now called "transformations" cost from three to five guineas, and are really wigs, but so improved in every way and lightened that they are easy to put on and manage. They should be made of naturally curly hair, and, if made for the wearer at a good hairdresser's, should be delightful wear. We know several people who use them, but they find they need two, and also a stand upon which to dress them. They should also be sent back to the hairdresser's every few months. If your hair is only getting thin at the parting, why not try a different style of hair-dressing and do away with the parting?

T.I.F.:- Dear little girl of sixteen, you are far too young to be worrying yourself about engagements and lovers. Make up your mind not to think of them before you are five and twenty, and enjoy your beautiful youth. Besides, what about school and lessons, and making yourself valuable as a woman and to be a companion to anyone? We do not think you need be in such a dreadful fuss about your young man and his "broken heart". It is wonderful how much it takes to break one, and how little to mend it, and how soon youth recovers. There is nothing so unwise as these early marriages, and, alas! they are far too common.

F.A.T.:- Your writing, if not elegant, is very legible. Of course, in the highest ranks of society writing backwards is considered vulgar, at any rate, for women. This you could alter with a little practice.

ELAINE:- The invitations are issued in the names of your parents, to the church, and afterwards to the house. Unless there are a great number present, it is best to lay out the afternoon tea on the dining-table, pushing the latter up to the wall, so as to give more room. Provide tea, coffee, or iced coffee-cakes, and ices if possible. The wedding-cake should be in the centre of the table and the bride should cut it, or at least make an incision, when the tea is ready. The bride usually goes upstairs to change her gown before the tea is over, and the married pair leave in about half an hour or an hour. WE do not think you could do it more simply than this, and the expense of the tea would not be great.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Easter Egg: an advertisement for Webb Williams & Co Ladies' Tailors c. 1900

Opened vol.22 (1900-1901) and this advertisement fell out. My copy of vol.22 once belonged to a lady by the name of Julia Gambrill, Sandwich. 


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

25 March 1899 - 'Frocks for Tomorrow' by the Lady Dressmaker

One of the special colours of the coming season is said to be yellow, but no exact shade is quoted, and so I had better warn my readers and tell them that there are yellows and yellows, and some of them are calculated to make one look – dreadful! I think a lemon yellow is, as a rule, the safest shade of all.

White gowns are in preparation, and, so far as I can see, will be quite as much worn as they were last year by everyone, and really they seem universally becoming.

Black skirts are no longer correct when worn with light coloured blouses. There should always be a repetition of the colour of the skirt in the blouse. For instance, the skirt being of blue cloth, the blouse should repeat the blue, mixed with any other hue you may select.

I do not see any sign of that disappearance of the blouse which has been so often threatened; but I see that the advent of the tight-fitting small coat may render them unnecessary, as the small coats are made in such a dressy style, with fronts of lace, and pretty decorations, so that they take the place of a bodice.

There is also a very decided advance in the popularity of the Princess dress. Indeed, so tight-fitting are the present styles, that we might really just as well adopt it, for we are wearing what is next akin. In evening gowns there is a great liking for it, and a desire to do away with the waist-band that has been worn so long; and as we must be slim and slight this year, if we are to be at all in the fashion, so we shall see that all styles will tend to help this one. What a sad thing for the extremely stout! But I think it is in reality a good thing that some women and men should never allow themselves to become so, for if we think the matter over seriously we shall soon arrive at the conclusion that it spoils our usefulness both to ourselves and to others, and makes our days a burden. So if Dame Fashion steps in to decree against it, we may hail her interposition as a blessing indeed.

The “tunic” drapery is the new note of all the spring skirts, and really so tight-fitting are all of them, that we wonder how we are going to sit down! In Paris this form of trimming has been most popular,  and there the blouse and skirt are arranged so as to look exactly like a polonaise.

The new toques are larger than those of last year, and much wider. They generally should match the colour of the gown with which they are worn. The trimmings are put on both in front and on the left side, and consist of ostrich tips, chou bows, or rosettes. It is said that gold ornaments are to take the place of paste ones in all the hats of next season; and I notice that steel buttons are more used than anything else for gowns and blouses.


The edges of so many of the new gowns are cut in scallops that this mode of decoration seems to be quite one of the fashions of the year, and a glance at the drawings for the month shows how extremely short the coats have become. That called “Four Spring Gowns” shows some of the prevailing modes with great accuracy. The figure on the extreme left wears a cloth Princess gown made up with tartan velvet yoke, sleeves, and panels. The colour of the cloth was blue, and the tartan was one of the blue and green ones, with a tiny red line. The front is decorated with embroidery. The next figure wears a velvet or cloth gown of black, with a coat scalloped and braided. The collar is of white silk embroidered with black; hat of velvet, with white silk and white feathers. The third figure wears a gown of sage green cloth, trimmed with a green silk check and bands of green velvet, front of chiffon and white silk. The seated figure wears a plain walking gown of grey cloth; the bodice is a tight-fitting one, with a very short basque; and the whole is edged with rows of machine stitching on the bodice and skirt.


There is a great liking this spring for shepherds’ plaid, and it seems likely to be used for gowns and blouses as well as capes. Our sketch shows a tailor-made gown, which is trimmed with black braid, and has one of the shaped flounces on the skirt. The collar is lined with white silk, and there is a front of tucked silk muslin, and a tie and bow of the same. The hat is of a white straw, and is trimmed with white plush, black velvet, and black and white feathers. Veil of white, with black dots.  The second figure for this illustration wears a charming costume of pale grey cloth which shows the manner in which braid is put on and mingled with embroidery. The braid in this case is of white silk; the edges of both coat and epaulettes are scalloped; and the braiding is arranged in a pointed shape on the skirt. The toque is a very pretty one of a grey shade to match the gown; and is of velvet, ornamented with a wreath of green leaves and an arrangement of white wings.


It is sometimes useful to know how to make a tea-gown for a young lady which will be useful and pretty and youthful enough in its style for the years of its wearer. The tea-gown illustrated is of black silk, and is cut very plainly. It opens over a skirt of white satin, with a vest of the same. This last is covered with white net with jet embroidery. There is a flounce of the silk on either side of the front, which is lined with white satin, and the high collar is lined with the same. The lady in out-of-door costume who stands beside her is dressed in a dark blue cashmere or cloth gown, scalloped and trimmed with white braid, a hat of fancy straw, with pink roses and quills.

I have no doubt that many people are wondering whether capes are going to be worn still, and how they will be made; so I must proceed to answer that question now. The new capes are much like the best winter ones have been, cut very round in front and scant as to fullness, rather longer too than they have been worn at the back, and with the same very wide and full flounce surrounding them. There are also some very short ones, but just now it is said to be too soon to speak of capes, or indeed is there much known about purely summer things, though I hear that thin materials will be worn over silk as much as they were last year, and some new materials which combine the thin and the thick together have been brought out; they are woven together making one material. But I do not know whether they will be popular, and most people like the silk undergown and its pleasant rustle. The effort to deprive us of them resulted in failure, and nun’s veiling and all soft linings were pronounced a failure.

Amongst other novelties, there is a new shape of Tam-o’-Shanter, which has a kind of peak added to it in front, rather after the manner of a jockey’s cap. This makes them far more becoming, as well as more serviceable in all weathers, and in every way they look more close fitting than of yore. This new Tam has been worn during the last winter at many of the country meets, accompanied by a long tight-fitting coat. A bright red, a light mauve, and a pretty stone colour have all been seen, and very well and suitable they looked. There has been a universal tendency to wear light-hued cloth this season, and nearly every shade of red and scarlet.

I suppose everyone has seen by the papers that the latest idea at weddings has been to have the wedding breakfast in the train which conveyed the bride and groom, as well as the whole wedding party, to London from the country town which had been the scene of the marriage. This fashion will of course be reserved for millionaires only, but as straws show how the wind blows, at several recent marriages the newly-wedded pair have made their escape from the door of the church and there has been no wedding reception of any kind. So perhaps even our very modified form of wedding entertainment will be reduced still further and end off at the church.

The going-away gown at all the recent smart weddings seems to have been invariably made of cloth: man-colour, petunia, light grey, turquoise blue, dark and light mauve, and heliotrope are all colours that have been seen at recent marriages in good society. The first-named was lined with a shot-blue glace silk and was made with a bodice which had a full vest of cream-coloured lace and revers of dark blue velvet. The dress of petunia cloth had a coat of petunia velvet, slashed with mauve; and as a rule gowns of pale grey are trimmed with grey velvet of a darker shade, with a hat to match. The turquoise blue was an embroidered gown with chenille and silk, and was relieved by cream-coloured lace and a collar. All of these gowns will be useful afterwards, and were none of them too grand for daily life. This is a point that many girls with a limited allowance have to think of, as the going-away gown often has to become the walking and visiting dress of the future days. So it must be chosen with deliberation and care.

I hear that in Paris the popular gown for the early spring for ordinary wear will be black serge; this is made as a coat or Directoire coat bodice, braided or not as is preferred, in fact maybe in any way that seems suitable to everyday use. The best gown as I have said is of some light-hued cloth, and for best summer wear the thin grenadines over silk are most fashi8onable as well as the most useful of dresses. So there is no doubt as to the gowns that will be wanted. The next thing to consider is what are the requirements of our own wardrobes, and what can we do without, alter or purchase for the coming season.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

3 December 1898 - 'Three Soups'



Ingredients – One oxtail, one large carrot, two onions stuck with cloves, one turnip, four sticks of celery, four mushrooms, half a parsnip, a bunch of herbs, two blades of mace, twelve black peppercorns, three ounces of butter, one dessertspoonful of red currant jelly, two quarts and a half of water, a wine-glass of sherry, three ounces of fine flour, salt.

Method – Wash the oxtail and chop it; put it in a saucepan and cover with cold water; bring to the boil and throw the water away. Fry the oxtail gently in the butter until it is a good brown; prepare the vegetables and slice them and put them in a saucepan with the oxtail, water, herbs, mace, salt and peppercorns; put on the lid and simmer gently for five hours. Strain the stock and skim off the fat; pick out the meat and put it aside to keep hot; pick out the vegetables and pound them finely, add the stock by degrees, return to the stove and reheat; melt the rest of the butter in a small frying pan and stir in the flour, fry it a good dark brown over the fire, stir in a little of the hot soup and add this thickening to the soup; add the sherry and red currant jelly and the pieces of oxtail, and serve.


Ingredients – One pound of kidney, half each of carrot, turnip, onion and parsnip, two sticks of celery, one tomato, one bay leaf, one sprig of parsley, one dessertspoonful of Harvey’s sauce, a little browning, one quart of water or stock, one ounce of butter, pepper and salt.

Method – Wash the kidney and cut away any fat; cut it in dice and fry gently in the butter; prepare the vegetables, cut them in pieces and put them in a saucepan with the kidney, bay leaf, parsley, water or stock and salt. Put on the lid and let all simmer gently for four hours; strain off the soup, pick out the pieces of kidney and put them aside to keep hot. Return the stock to the saucepan, add the Harvey’s sauce and the browning; put back the pieces of kidney, reheat and serve.


Ingredients – One large onion, one apple, one tablespoonful of good curry powder, one ounce of flour, half an ounce of grated cocoanut, a few drops of lemon juice, one dessertspoonful of red currant jelly, one dessertspoonful of chutney, salt, one quart of chicken or veal stock, three ounces of butter, one ounce and a half of cornflour, some well boiled rice.

Method – Skin the onion, slice it and pound it in a mortar; chop and pound the apple. Mix the curry powder smoothly with half a teacupful of cold water, melt the butter in a stewpan, stir in the curry powder and water and the pounded onion; cook and stir until the water cooks away and the onion browns in the butter; add the apple, cocoanut, chutney, salt and the stock (warm); put on the lid and simmer for half an hour; rub through a sieve, mix the flour with a little cold stock, re-heat the soup and when it boils stir in the flour; add the lemon juice and red currant jelly; hand well-cooked rice with this soup.