Saturday, March 23, 2013


Okay, today I didn't read anything out of my housewife books, but I DID learn more about life in the 1950's.  I visited the Idaho State Penitentiary, which was run from 1887-1973.  I learned a lot about life for women in the 1950's, especially female criminals.  Here are some fun facts for you:

1.  Did you know that a third of women in prison in the fifties were there for credit card fraud or for bouncing a check?   Do women still go to prison for that? I feel like people bounce checks all the time.  Note to self:  DON'T DO THAT!

2. I read some stories of the prisoners who were held at the Idaho State Penitentiary.  Many of the women  were there for adultery.  Were any men there for adultery?  Of course not, cuz it's okay if guys cheat but women can't.  What's up with that?!  Apparently that's the way laws were back then.  Women had to be pure....or else.

3. A large number of women went to prison for administering or receiving abortions.  It made me wonder - when abortion was legalized, did these women have to stay in prison?  Want to know the answer? YES, they did!  How unfair is that?!  They were serving a sentence for something that is now legal!  Rude.

3. During the late fifties, transitioning into the beginning of the sixties, the Idaho judicial system came under attack because a string of women murdered their husbands and got relatively light sentences.  Male murderers were sentenced for life, but women only got a few years.  The general consensus now is that there was lots of spousal abuse going on in the fifties, but it was legal and generally acceptable for a man to hit his wife.  In front of a jury, though, many times the judge felt bad for an abused woman and gave her a lesser sentence because he figured she was just defending herself.

4.  Women had WAY better quarters than the men.  The men had tiny little cells and almost never got to get out of them.  Women had a whole ward to themselves, fenced off from the men, and they only had to sleep in their cells.  During the day they got to garden, knit, do crafts, and write.  They even published a magazine for other female inmates across the country.  Wow - girl power!

So I learned today that I definitely never want to go to prison...but I guess it would be better to be a female criminal than a male one.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Dry Cleaning

I need to take one of my dresses to the dry-cleaners in order to clean it for my next fancy date.  I almost never go to the dry-cleaners, but I feel like when a tag says "dry-clean only," it's not messing around.  Therefore I consulted Good Housekeeping's Guide to Homemaking for what I need to do with my clothes before I take them in.  The book never lets me down!  Here's what I got:

1. Check the shoulder pads.  If they are covered with a plastic material, or if they contain sponge rubber, they should be removed.  Plastic-covered pads usually become stiff and shrink excessively, while sponge-rubber shoulder pads are seldom dry-cleaned satisfactorily. dress doesn't have shoulder pads because I bought it after 1990.  Still, what kind of shoulder pads were covered in plastic?  Would they crinkle when you walked?  Fifties fashions always look so cute in old pictures... I wonder if they weren't as comfortable as they look.

2. Remove all ornamental buttons, as they may be damaged during dry-cleaning.

Remove the buttons?  As in, cut them off and then sew them back on?  This seems like a lot of work.  What if I just be really careful not to get my clothes dirty so I don't have to take them in to the cleaners?  Dang...I guess that ship already sailed for this dress.  I don't have any buttons on the dress, so that's a moot point anyway. The book didn't say anything about zippers, so I guess I'm okay.

3. Clean out all pockets.  Certain types of matches left in pockets are particularly hazardous.  They may ignite during the deodorizing process, which follows the dry-cleaning, and start a serious fire.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!  Who keeps matches in their pockets?!  Why would you suddenly need matches?!  We are not boy scouts camping out in the wilderness; we are wives cooking barefoot in our freshly mopped kitchens.  Okay but really... I don't think I've ever kept a match in my pocket in my life.  I almost want to now, just to see what happens if I accidentally wash and then dry it.  Then again, it could send my apartment up in flames, so I guess I won't.

4. Be careful not to leave lipstick in pockets.  It can cause great damage to clothes during dry-cleaning.

Valid.  I bet  this one is still applicable.  I don't keep lipstick in my pockets, but it seems like people might actually do that.  I guess one out of four rules is still worth passing on.  So lesson of the day:  don't keep lipstick in your pockets.

Or buttons.

Or shoulder pads.

Or matches.

Enjoy your clean clothes!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shoe Modification

"Techniques and habits of good grooming are essential for the clean, fresh look that goes with attractive clothes.  Understanding of good workmanship aids in judging the quality of a ready-made garment.  Ability to make your own clothes saves money, thus rendering first aid to the family budget."  - Homemaking for Teen-Agers, page 205

The entire chapter I just read was all about the pros and cons of making your own clothes versus buying a "ready-made" garment.  I know literally no one who makes their own clothes anymore, but I guess it was pretty common back then.  I wish I could do that...  perhaps that will be a summer project.

The chapter reminded me of something I did this week that was almost like making my own clothes.  I modified existing clothes.  More specifically, I modified my shoes.  What I did was so brilliant, by the way, that you're probably going to do it too after reading this blog.  Well, unless you're a guy.  Then you're probably going to think I'm psycho.  You don't wear girl shoes, though, so you'll never truly understand.

I have been very frustrated with my flats lately.  There is no good way to wear them.  If I wear socks with them, I look like a total dork.  If I wear the socks especially made for flats, they stick awkwardly out of the sides (my feet are huge).  If I wear no socks, my feet get really sweaty and stinky and I squish around in my shoes all day.  It's disgusting.  I can't wear tennis shoes to work, though, and I can't wear high heels either because I'm on my feet all day long.  I had to make my flats work.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  One morning, I decided to put kleenexes in the bottom of my shoes in order to soak up the sweat and keep my feet from slipping.  The problem with this method was that the kleenexes got all shredded up and stuck to my feet.  I didn't like it.  I thought to myself, "This was a good idea, but I need to improve upon it.  I need something that's going to absorb the sweat but won't get all shreddy.  It needs to stick to the bottom of my shoe, but not to my feet."

At that moment, an idea hit me square in the face.  It was just like in cartoons when a lightbulb flips on over a character's head because they had a good idea.  At that moment, I knew I would never be uncomfortable in flats again. I wanted to jump for joy, but I hadn't tested out my new theory yet.

The following morning, I put my plan into action.  Rex walked into the kitchen and stared at me, stared at my new creation, and started laughing.  He was laughing because it looked funny, but he was also laughing nervously like how you might laugh around a tempermental rhinoceros.   Like, "Oh my wife has finally cracked...I should just back away slowly..."  Do you want to know why he was laughing?  He was laughing because he saw this:

Yes, friends.  That is a maxi pad in my shoe.  Have you ever heard of a more brilliant idea?!  It makes socks obsolete!  It adds extra cushion for comfy all-day wear!  It can be changed so it feels like you're wearing a new, sweat-free pair of shoes every day!  This might be my best idea ever.

I did a trial run with my new shoes at school, and they worked great.  I'm going to start doing this all the time.  Friday night I was hanging out with a bunch of teachers from school, and my friend Elle outed me to the rest of the teachers.  "Guess what Christine has in her shoes?!" Elle asked.  I couldn't believe Elle was revealing my feminine product fashion statement.  Well, I thought I was in for some huge embarrassment, but guess what happened instead?  The teachers all laughed at first but then said, "Dang...that's actually kind of a really good idea..."

Right?  Of course it is.  So you may think I'm crazy right now as you read this, but next time you're squishing around in a pair of flats you're going to think to yourself, "Maybe Christine's idea wasn't so bad after all."