Thursday, June 21, 2012

That's one REALLY thrifty lady (Vintage e-book)

Project Gutenberg has a free book that all wanna-be thrifties should check out: Mary at the Farm and Book of Recipes Compiled during Her Visit Among the "Pennsylvania Germans", by Edith Thomas, published in 1915. It's available in different formats for downloading or reading online; some of the formats don't have images, so you might want to go directly to the HTML version online if you want to see them.

The book isn't a novel, although it's written in story format. It's about a young woman's stay at a Bucks County farm, early in the last century. "Aunt Sarah" gives her niece lots of cooking and homemaking advice, which is interesting; but the part I found more instructive was Chapter VIII, "Uses of an Old-Fashioned Wardrobe," a lesson on recycling clothes, mostly for household uses. Allowing for the fact that Mary's clothes probably had more fabric in them than ours do, and also for the fact that they're all wool, linen and muslin etc., there are still things we can learn from this expert on "what's in your hand." Actually one of the moms in our girls' sewing group was just showing us a crocheted rag-rug-in-progress; some things don't change.
"Aunt Sarah," ecstatically exclaimed Mary, "you are a wizard to plan so many useful things from a trunk of apparently useless rags. What a treasure Uncle has in you. I was fretting about having so little to make my home attractive, but I feel quite elated at the thought of having a carpet and rugs already planned, besides the numerous other things evolved from your fertile brain."

Aunt Sarah loved a joke. She held up an old broadcloth cape. "Here is a fine patch for Ralph Jackson's breeches, should he ever become sedentary and need one."

Mary reddened and looked almost offended and was at a loss for a reply.
(I'm not so sure about the rag rugs with swastikas on them, but maybe that's just me.)

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