What's New For May?

May is here!  I was doing some planning on Sunday when I suddenly remembered that old school rhyme of the days of the months.  You know.  "Thirty days hath September, APRIL...."  and I realized that it was April 30th and May started the very next day!  How I did start churning my brain at that point because it's one thing to think you've two or three days to plan and another thing to realize that the month is upon you right now.

Organization:  As you know I've been following home-storage-solution 101 declutter calendars for 2016.  When I found the first calendar none were up for 2017.  Now if you've joined the site you might well be working along with the 2017 calendars.  However, I found the free pdf 2016 booklet of calendars and month by month challenges are online and ready to be used.  Just click on this link

I like that a lot of this month's work focuses on paper and documents which is not heavy work as a rule.  Perfect for a month that generally heats up to summery temperatures for us each year. I noted a few spaces to do some work, though I am okay on some areas.

One area I am working on is my stash of Grace Livingston Hill books.  I likely won't read all of them this month because (a) I own too many of them and (b) any author begins to pall after you've read a dozen of her novels, but I am working my way through the stash.  I'm setting aside those that don't thrill me and depending upon quality I'll either post for resale or donate.  I'm sure it will be an ongoing process but it IS paper and it's something I very much want to do. 

I have an entire shelf of never read books I set up in October.  And most of them still haven't been read either, so it's likely time to cull through them once more and determine if I truly am ever planning to read them.

I'm also decluttering my vintage magazines.  Some just don't have anything I value in them so I'll pass them along or throw away if they are terribly poor copies even though that pains me.  I'm trying to keep the best and make room for NEW vintage copies of magazines I haven't read twelve times or more and milked dry of inspiration.

Charm School:  Yes, I am going to charm school this month.  I will be using books from my bookshelf and a few websites and things.  I plan to do as I've done in other areas and will immerse myself all month long and put into practice those things that are suited to my life as it is.  By that, I mean I shall not worry about how to wear proper evening clothes because to date I have never in my life worn an evening dress.  But I am interested in not only proper grooming but making introductions, hostess duties, house guest duties (though I'm rarely that either), how best to present myself, etc.

I know for a fact I'll be using these resources:
The Mode in Dress and Home by Dulcie G. Donovan  The first five chapters of this book are all related to how we present ourselves, from hygiene to dress. 

Better than Beauty, A Guide to Charm by Helen Valentine and Alice Thompson  I used this book briefly last year for a boot camp session on saving money in the clothing area.  It's really a book about deportment and I thought then it would be good to return to it and study more fully.

Lessons on Loveliness by Judith Unger Scott
I've had this on my shelf for years.  It's just what it says it is: beauty, hygiene, manner: a how to be lovely guide.

A Medieval Home Companion, Housekeeping in the Fourteenth Century by Tania Bayard
The first chapter of this book actually deals with dress and deportment.  I might not have begun it for my homemaking course, but it shall certainly get used a little for this course.  Interesting to see how 14th century thought translates to charm, agreed?

Orchids On a Budget by Marjorie Hillis
I'll just be referring to chapter three in this book which is titled "Please Dress"

How to be Chic and Elegant  has a variety of posts, articles and mini courses that I plan to peruse and use to help polish up my act and my style a little further. 

Then there is this Pinterest board I found the other day.  It linked to a now defunct blog.  The author had the blog for eight years and had a feature called "Charm School Fridays" with various lessons on how to stand properly, how to sit properly, etc.  I'm going to use the blog to further my studies.

Eating On a Tight Budget: I'm on the hunt for cool, inexpensive dishes to serve over the coming hot months. Honestly?  Summer is not my favorite season to cook.  Meats that lend themselves well to summer meals are pricier and the idea of cooking when the air conditioner is chugging away non-stop is not appealing.  Let's see what I can come up with for this new challenge.

I found one such recipe this weekend in my May 1957 McCalls magazine.  It's a tuna stuffed tomato salad served on a bed of lettuce with deviled eggs and cucumber slices.  Sounds refreshing for a 90f plus day doesn't it? 

For completing the meal, I'm thinking a plate of crisp toast strips and a bowl of potato soup might be just the thing to make this a proper meal and keep things inexpensive.  And why not one of those light frozen graham 'cream' sandwiches to finish it off with a little something sweet?  That's an old Weight Watchers recipe that is very satisfying: two graham cracker sheets with a bit of fat free whipped topping in between, frozen in the freezer compartment. 

That's just a teaser menu to let you all know I'm thinking summer, inexpensive and COOL.  I'm going to try and work out a two or three week menu plan that is nothing but cool and refreshing meals and snacks.

I'm checking my cookbooks now but I expect I'll find still more ideas when I pull out my June vintage magazine issues mid-May.

Stocking Up:  Anything at all that will lend itself to cooler meals like three bean salad and canned fruits are definitely on my list for stocking up.   Pudding and gelatin mixes are always nice to have on hand as well.

While I'm not a huge fan, paper plates, disposable cups and napkins come in handy when it's just too hot to be near the kitchen or we decide for the impromptu picnic.

I also want to work on my shoe box meals.  I'd really like to have at least a week's worth and possibly two. I feel they will stand me in good stead should I be overly busy.  So I'll be on the look out for those sorts of items.

Bug sprays are not something you might think of stocking up on but it's necessary this time of year with wasps and ants and flies.  Ugh.  Loathe all of them but there they are.  Citronella candles and matches, sun screen, aloe and anti-itch stuff for bug bites are on my list, too. 

And let us not forget the horrid summer cold that sets in just as soon as it's hot as blazes and we are moving from one temperature range to another: tissues, cold medications/remedies are going to be wanted as well.

There's planning ahead for you.  I've just made out my summer stock up list.

Projects:  I'm winding down project-wise.   True there is plenty of painting and such to be done but honestly,  as the weather gets warmer and warmer and the temperature moves steadily towards 'Hot', I am less and less inclined to expend energy on anything other than necessities.  That's just fact.  I'll continue to work at filling pots for the yard and flower beds and I'll try to slip out when it's cool and do a little something extra but mostly it's about all I can stand to do the regular stuff when it starts to get hot.  Fortunately the first part of May is usually fairly temperate and allows me to finish off any bigger projects already begun.  The rest will wait until Fall.

Best Food Buys for May:   I pulled this list straight from McCalls May 1957 issue.  Let's see how it stacks up against our modern day sales sheets.  I'd say it's pretty accurate overall.

*canned foods
cherries *
dried prunes
purple plums

lima beans*
snap beans
tomato products*

beef (your cold weather cuts will usually rate the lowest price this time of year but there will be frequent sales on ground beef, steaks both lean and grill worthy, London broil, etc.)
broiler-fryer chickens
table-ready meats (deli, cold cut etc)

non-fat dry milk

soft shell crabs


Regine Karpel said...


Anonymous said...

That tuna dinner sounds wonderful for a summer meal. I jotted it down to remind me when the sweat starts to clog my brain!! I think I will add some toasted pita bread and hummus to it. Yum!

I love that you're doing Charm School!! One of my dear friends was a debutante. I know that people make fun of the snobbery & such that goes along with it. But, let me tell you this: After meeting her in college and being awed with EVERYTHING she did in the social ways, I was convinced that if I ever had a daughter, doing the deb thing was going to be a must. I have never seen my friend look anything less than perfect, even in withering heat, jeans and tshirts, or sickness. There is a grace to her that makes you just not notice, I suppose!~ Never at a loss for words in any kind of situation. My other friend and I joke that we just like to stand behind her and let her handle it!!! She's THAT good. And completely sincere. No phoniness at all. I swear that someone could tell her that they lost their husband to a man-eating ogre who came up thru' the sewers and she would know EXACTLY what to say. So, I say, "You go, girl!!!" and then come back and teach me!!! I'm the perennial foot-in-the-mouth friend!!!

Back to summer meals....one of my favorites is in the crockpot. BSCB in salsa until tender. Shred, add cream cheese, and serve over a bed of lettuce for a light taco meal. My husband eats his in warm corn tortillas, but I just like the lettuce.

Debby in KS

Lana said...

Our oldest daughter went an old south women's college and she came put of there knowing everything about charm. She often says it was finishing school. I have the most gorgeous, perfect fitting beaded black evening dress from
the aforementioned daughter's wedding that I am always on the lookout to wear again. And two more from two of our son'S weddings that are a bit less dressy. There are too few oportunites for dressing up these days.

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Great post..
Summer heat is really getting close.. Look forward to seeing what cool reicpes you find for summer.
The charm school sounds fun and interesting.. I love dresses,and in our area, very few women wear them any longer..sad
Have a great week.

Tammy said...

I think your Charm School sounds like a very fun project. It will be interesting to follow along and discover how instruction from your vintage sources compare to more current ideas.
I can't sleep, so am going to check out your links. :)

Little Penpen said...

I am excited about your charm school study. I have been following A Tray Of Bliss blog and she has some good posts too. I'm with you in cooler meals! I do plan to use my crockpot more during the hot weather. I have always used it in the kitchen, but someone mentioned using it outside to keep the heat down. I may try the garage. :-)

Anonymous said...

We are getting all excited around here because it MAY reach 80 this week. It's been in the 50's and 60's for the most part. So, I'm sure our "hot" is nothing like yours. During the middle of the summer, we may reach 100 a couple of times, some years. Still, we act like we are dying when those days come, since they are so rare. Your cool recipes sound wonderful.

I also have Grace Livingston Hill books that I've had for years. Like you, there are some I love and some that leave me cold. I did sort out quite a few when I moved, but should go through MANY boxes and bins of lots of stuff that are still stacked in the shop and reduce my pile of books and other things significantly. This house is so much smaller that, even with literally getting rid of 1/2 my things, I still have too many.

I'm hoping the summer gives me some time to do some sorting, but what I really love is working in the yard and garden. And camping. And cooking. And playing with the kids and nieces and nephew. Hmmmm. Sounds like some self-discipline is in order!

Karla Neese said...

I too have culled most of my books these days. I have a few tried and trues (non fiction) that I turn to regularly and wouldn't want to part with but I have gotten rid of nearly all! I rely on our local library system (which also does e-books and audio books) and Amazon freebies!

Thank you for the link to the Home Storage website. I signed up and did indeed receive the 2017 calendar!

I hadn't even thought of planning cool meals but it certainly is that time isn't it!?

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