WOMEN and THEIR WORK

HOUSEKEEPING AND HAPPINESS

How Introducing Business Methods Into the Home Helped to Make a Small Salary Adequate

RUTH SAYRE March 15 1922
WOMEN and THEIR WORK

HOUSEKEEPING AND HAPPINESS

How Introducing Business Methods Into the Home Helped to Make a Small Salary Adequate

RUTH SAYRE March 15 1922

HOUSEKEEPING AND HAPPINESS

How Introducing Business Methods Into the Home Helped to Make a Small Salary Adequate

RUTH SAYRE

HOUSEKEEPING and happiness— the two are not incompatible. We hear a great deal, these days, of the nartyrdom of that class of girls whom we night style as “business wives,”—the iris who, previous to marriage, were possssed of happy niches in the business rorld, and who, after marriage, develop a rpetually prominent wishbone, and an nharmonious habit of harking back to the reedom of the prenuptial days.

In the first place such a girl might be eminded that she was not shanghaied into natrimony, but danced into it on two ager feet: planned for months for that vent which was to crown her life with sappiness, and incidentally launch her into hat much envied class of femininity sown as “young matrons.” We might

point out to her that she worked an extra week in order that the now despised tea and kitchen towels might be of linen, instead of the reviled union mixture—but unless a cure be prescribed such reminders are as superfluous as vinegar in soured milk.

Shortly before my marriage I called one afternoon on a girl friend who had been married for about five months, and to my amazement I found her with a shiny nose, uncurled hair, and minus the animation which had been her chief charm.

She must have noted the surprise in my face, for dropping into a chair in the pretty living room she said: “I see you’re

wondering what’s happened to me. Well I’ve stopped curling my hair, because steam from the kettle, ard the dish-pan and the food takes the curl out nyway, and Ted comes home for dinner just the same, so why bother. I’ve given up powder too—to tell the truth, Madge, I’m so sick of everything that I don’t care a hang how I look.”

Then the bag burst and all the little troubles spilled out. Ted wasn’t making enough for Marie to have a maid, and she didn’t ever seem to have any leisure. Always there was baking or mending or cleaning to be done. She just finished the dishes from one meal and it was time to turn around and prepare for the next. She was too tired to go out; greasy dishwater and furniture polish were ruining her hands. There were a heap of things she wanted for herself and her allowance wasn’t big enough, and nearly every week when Ted paid the bills he raised the devil.

“But why not pay cash instead of running bills, dear?” I asked.

“Just what Ted says, but my purse isn’t always downstairs, and then the grocer says he’d just as soon I’d pay once a week as have to send change with the boy,” defended Marie.

“But you pay more at a credit store than when you buy at a strictly cash market,” I protested, “the grocer has to have some compensation for carrying your credit—he’s assuming a certain risk. A cash store makes a quick turnover, and therefore they can afford to sell cheaper.”

“But most of the cash stores make you carry your supplies, and I don’t always want to go out every day,” insisted Marie, “mother always ran accounts.”

“But your father was a wealthy man,”

I reminded her, and that touched her to the raw.

“Do you know Ted is only making twenty-five hundred?” she announced tragically. “No wonder we can’t afford a maid, but I’m losing all my friends— no woman can keep intelligent friends and be a kitchen drudge, doing her own work,” she wailed.

“You can if you use as much intelligence in your work as you use in impressing your friends,” I said crossly, “you make me sick.”

“All right, just wait,” prophesied Ma ie, “you’ll see.”

Just then Ted came in, and after greeting me, and kissing Marie he sat down with us.

“What did you have for lunch?” asked Marie.

“Baked white-fish,” said Ted, and with that Marie burst into tears, sobbing that it was ever thus, as sure as she had fish for the evening fneal Ted had had it at noon, and he never thought to telephone her and tell her he had fish, he never thought of anything but his stomach and the office. » “Good-bye,” I said, rising, “and if I were you, Ted, I’d try the use of a shingle on that girl,” and then I went out, and made up my mind that when Don and I set up our establishment, there would be no such scenes enacted, either before friends or when we were alone.

Putting in a Budget System

DERHAPS the plans I made and carried 1 out will not appeal to others, but in case they do, here they are—and they have not been culled from books and lectures, but are my own pet systems, which, having been practised for eighteen months, have not yet failed me.

In the first place my husband and I budgeted. He was earning the “two thousand odd” which so many couples begin on, and every pay night, when he came home, we took the forty-five dollars and divided it up, each sum going into an envelope on which was typed the name of that special fund. It worked out like this: table ten dollars, gas one dollar, electric light fifty cents, taxes two dollars, insurance four, interest and principle on the house six, water rates ten cents, garage a dollar fifty, telephone 65 cents, Donald’s allowance ten dollars, mine five, which left a balance of four dollars and fifteen cents which I deposited in the bank every Saturday morning.

You see that budget allowed for everything but coal, Don getting the gasoline out of his allowance.

Then I took my ten dollars, which was our weekly table allowance, and arranged it in my own little filing cabinet in the kitchen. By the way these small-sized cabinets can be bought for a dollar and a quarter, and the cards, than which there is nothing better for your recipes, cost only fifteen cents for fifty. In this cabinet, in addition to the classified recipes I have eight envelopes, and into these the money goes, divided in this way: laundress (she comes fortnightly) a dollar and a quarter, milk one dollar, cream seventy cents, bread sixty cents, fruit seventy cents, meat three dollars, staples two dollars, extravagances seventy-five ' cents, total ten dollars.

The amount for staples may seem small, but then such supplies as tea, coffee, sugar, flour, and cooking essentials do not have to be ordered every week. Then too the meat allowance is frequently quite high, which creates a surplus. When there is a surplus of funds I salt it away until the amount has reached worth-while proportions, then I get in a large order of canned goods such as corn, peas, beets, beans, pineapple, prepared soups, (for emergency occasions) and pumpkin.

During the summer of course more is spent on greens and fruits and less on meats, but ten dollars has always been sufficient for my table allowance, unless we have indulged in a regular orgie of dinner parties or other food-demanding functions.

Planning the Meals on a System

DUT the system which has saved me more worry, and given me more leisure than any other was the planning of my meals. In the average home of young married people, there is only one big meal a day to be prepared unless the husband is fortunate enough to be able to come home for his mid-day meal, and as we are dealing with the rule, and not with the exception, we will assume that all homes are, in this respect, average.

Every Friday night (Friday is pay day)

I divide up my portion of the family wealth, and then I take a fresh card from the little file and make out my dinner menus for each night of the ensuing week, and for noon dinner on Sunday. There are two advantages in this. Each morning I do not have to ponder, “Oh what shall I have for dinner to-night?” and in the second place I can do my shopping for the entire week at one fell swoop, with the exception of meat and greens. In this way there is no last minute planning, with its inevitable discovery that I can’t have what seemed so quick and easy, because I am “out” of one of the most important ingredients necessary to make it.

There is a little pad which hangs beside the telephone, and when I find that my supply of any staple is getting low, I note it on the pad, and order it, or buy it on my next shopping day.

House-work is no excuse for a woman falling into discontentment, into slovenly ways or nagging habits. Neither can it withhold her from intelligent society, nor from enjoying more leisure than she ever knew as a business girl. But housework is made the excuse for laziness, for uncoiffed hair and unkempt hands, for the loss of friends and the waning of that interest in, and knqwledge of the outer world—for the loss of that very alertness and animation which first attracted her husband to her.

Fighting the Dishwater Waterlool

' I 'AKE dish-washing for example that * Waterloo before whicn o many women go down to mental defeat. There isn’t anything uplifting about dirty dishes, but there are ways of making the washing of them much less disagreeable than might be. ~ 7*

Begin with the’ roasting parTor'skillet, which when you lift the meat out is brown and coated with grease. Instead of pushing it to the back of the stove where you can longest ignore its call for cleanliness, sprinkle it with a liberal amount of ammonia powder, and fill it up with hot water. Then, when dinner is over, pour the greasy water (for the ammonia cuts the grease,) out, and filling your tin with boiling water, allow it to stand until the dishes are done, and you will find that a minute’s application of your pot brush will leave the tin sweet and shining, and free from the last remnant of grease.

As for the dishes themselves, there are never a great many for two people, and if a tray is used to clear them from the table, very little time is wasted. The use of a rubber plate scraper for removing fragments of food, and crumbs from the plates eliminates that nerve-fretting scraping sound, and by using a dish brush, and a rubber glove on the hand (left) which holds the dishes under the water, the need for destroying the texture of the skin by immersing the hands in greasy dishwater is removed

Ammonia powder in the dish-water, supplemented by soap used by means of a wire shaker which keeps the melted soap from sticking to the dishes, will brighten silver and glass, and keep the dishes from appearing streaky. If one is possessed of a wire sink tray, there is no need of wiping the china, for it can be drenched with cold water, and left to dry in the wire tray which drips into the sink.

I have always had a marked aversion, which I think most women share, to touching with my hands the garbage which will overflow the drainer, or ooze through its perforations into the sink. Not that I throw garbage into the sink, but sodden remnants, tea leaves, and such hits of “goo,” will drip through the drainer or container and form a disgusting island on the white porcelain of the sink. For gathering this up I use what Donald calls my sink broom. It is a broom-shaped sink brush, with which I sweep the sediment up onto a pancake turner, which deposits it on the garbage paper. By the way, it is a good habit to acquire, that of wrapping your garbage, for then the garbage tin does not become soiled or odorous.

A Simple Yet Adequate System

DON’T get the idea that these things I am telli g you go to maxe up an elaborate system, for they don’t. The equipment will not cost a great deal, for you can budget as well with a candy box as with a cabinet, if necessary, so that what you need to buy, if you have not already bought them are: three brushes, dish, pot and sink, each at a cost of fifteen cents; a pancake turner at the same price, and one soap shaker ditto; a package of envelopes and a package of cards, twenty-five cents, a tin tray, one dollar, and three rubber gloves, two lefts and a right at fifteen cents each—total cost, two dollars and forty-five cents.

The reason for the three rubber gloves is this: you need a left for the dishes, and a pair for dusting, for if you use the same left for both dusting and dishes the water, after the extreme grease of the furniture polish, will cut the glove in a very short

Scrub your vegetables clean before you peel them, and use a little lemon on your hands afterwards and the stains will be negligible. Mop your kitchen floor every third or fourth day, and it will not need a thorough scrubbing oftener than your laundress can do it for you.

Once a week is sufficient to go through the house with a corn broom and a dustless mop, which are not luxuries, but part of the essential equipment of every house, and half an hour every other day in the week will take the dust out of your rugs, (with the use of a sweeper) and off of your floors by use of a dustless mop, while a soft cloth will swab the dust from your furniture.

So I often wonder, when women whose husbands are getting as much or more than our forty-five dollars grumble and fret and drop out of the way of being happy, just how much brain they put into their house-work.

Save time and you’ll have leisure. Be efficient and you’ll be satisf:ed. Keep abreast of the times and you’ll have respect. Keep happy, and make a home happy and you’ll win the homage of your husband—his friends and your own.