Monthly Archives: April 2014

Easter Bonnets and other fashion traditions…

Walt EditEnd of an era…

The other night as we were having dinner and discussing Easter—which was just a few days away—my mother made some quip about the Easter bonnet. From there we got to talking about other fashion trends, such as white gloves, that used to be a must-have in a proper young lady’s wardrobe. It was something we always wore (or carried) to church.

But they just weren’t worn to church, which is illustrated by this photograph taken in 1967. That’s my sister and I with our dad on Father’s Day, and I think we were on the way to brunch, not church. Note both Lynn and I have white gloves in hand.

The necessity of gloves is mentioned in Little Women—which make me feel incredibly old when I realize I share something with the March girls that I don’t share with my daughter.

But it isn’t just gloves that went out of fashion. Go to church these days and female parishioners haven’t just abandoned gloves—they’re often wearing casual slacks—even shorts, instead of dresses.

There was also a time we dressed up when flying. I remember the first time I went to Hawaii, back in 1973, one of the outfits I bought for my trip was for traveling. When I was a girl and my parents took trips to Vegas, they dressed up. That’s just what people did back then.

Today is Easter Sunday. I’m not a church goer—yet my mother-in-law faithfully attends services at her Episcopal Church every Sunday. I will have to ask her when she gets home if the congregation dressed up today. Were there little girls in frilly new dresses and did anyone have on an Easter bonnet?

I just noticed something else about the photograph—Dad was wearing a tie. While men still wear ties, they wear them on far less occasions today.

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Easter—be it casual or formal.

Pioneer women and chocolate cake for breakfast…

cakeI have a new appreciation for my pioneer grandmother—and all the pioneer women who helped build our country. It’s all because of how I spent this past Saturday.

Yesterday morning Don and I picked up our Bountiful Basket order over at the local elementary school. Two baskets, really—one filled with fruit and the other vegetables. Then it was off to the dollar store to see what great buys they had—something that wasn’t in our Bountiful Basket order. We scored with fresh strawberries—one buck per large carton.

Then it was the grocery store. We decided to hit Albertson’s yesterday because of the meat sales. And then it was home. That’s when my work started.

I cleaned vegetables and strawberries. put together a week’s worth of salads in the jar. Made meatloaf—five batches—meat balls and portioned out the other purchased meats to freeze—rearranged the freezer to fit everything.

That took me most of the day—and then I started seven new spider plant, made dinner for Don and the moms, and then baked a homemade chocolate cake for mom’s birthday.

When it was all done I was exhausted. Totally wiped out—I could barely move. I was going to make a batch of laundry soap but decided to do that another day.

So why did this give me a new appreciation for my pioneer grandmothers? Because considering what I did yesterday—it could not compare with the daily routine of my pioneer grandmothers. My produce was purchased—I didn’t have to plant and harvest it. I have an electric dishwasher to help clean up my mess and a modern refrigerator/freezer for storing—no canning needed.

Even if I had made that laundry soap yesterday, it wouldn’t involve lye and weeks of curing as is necessary when REALLY making soap from scratch.

The photo is of the chocolate cake I baked, using my grandmother’s recipe. I made a few healthy changes—swapping apple sauce for oil and white whole wheat for white flour. Mom and I each had a piece after breakfast, because we read an article explaining how dessert after breakfast (not after dinner) can help burn the pounds.

That wasn’t something my pioneer grandmothers had to worry about—calories. They were too busy working their asses (and calories) off just surviving.

The cake recipe will be included with my upcoming recipe book, Recipe Traditions a New Generation. But here’s a sneak preview.

Chocolate Cake Recipe


2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup milk
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dice up the chocolate squares. I use my Alaskan ulu knife. Bring the water to a boil (in the microwave or on the stove). Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.

Beat together sugar, apple sauce, eggs, milk and vanilla. I use my electric mixer. Sift in the flour and baking soda. Blend well.

Pour the batter into two 9-inch round cake pans (buttered first) and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.