I'll apologise in advance - this promises to be quite a lengthy post but I really hope you'll stick with it and join me on my journey. I really wanted to do this task justice, for a number of reasons. It makes such a pleasant change as a blogger to be involved in something challenging and interesting, and the people at P&G couldn't have been more helpful and supportive. I also wanted it to be a learning experience for Ruby and for myself, and to bring about a greater understanding of how our grandmothers daily life would have been.
In exchange for reading this, I promise you will get so see some fairly horrendous pictures of me and my first shaky attempts at vlogging...
The first challenge began for me the night before. People didn't tend to have showers back in the 1930's so I took myself off for a soak in the bath. This coincided with Earth Hour, so I enjoyed it by candlelight. Granted, it would have been nice to have some luxurious bubbles and hair products, but I had to make do with the solid bar of plain soap - both to wash myself and my hair. Washing long hair in the bath is never easy, and after pouring many jugs of water over my head, it still didn't feel clean.
After my bath, I went downstairs where Mr 1930's kindly brushed it for me in front of the fire and I sat there until it was fairly dry. Then it was time to tackle the rollers! I'd looked on the internet to find out about thirties hair, and some of the techniques like finger waves and pin curls looked incredibly complicated, so I put the curlers in and hoped for the best!
I slapped on some cold cream, which smelt lovely and was silky soft. Sadly I hadn't read the notes properly, and used it as a moisturiser rather than to help clean my face, so I did wake up with a bit of an oil slick going on on my skin.
After a frankly shocking night's sleep on my head full of curlers, I washed my face with soap and water, and cleaned my teeth with the pink toothpaste provided. I actually quite liked the taste (I think it was Euthymol) but I did miss the familiar minty freshness.
|Hilda Ogden eat your heart out|
Next up was make-up. Unfortunately my pink ivory face powder and rouge was missing from my pack, so I improvised with my own makeup, using powder, a little black mascara and a lovely dash of scarlet lipstick. Getting dressed proved tricky. I live in jeans at home, but it was rare for a 1930's lady to wear trousers even, so I opted for a straight skirt, a blouse and some t-bar shoes.
The moment of truth...removing the rollers. Oh my god! I looked like Shirley Temple (after sticking her fingers in a socket). Nothing I could do would tame my unruly barnet. I suspect the curls were too much of a shock for it after a lifetime of straightness, so I opted for a headscarf. I did consider washing them out, but that would have meant another bath...
Ready, Steady, Cook
First challenge of the day was making a cuppa. The water was boiled on the stove in a pan, and the tea was made from proper leaves in a teapot. I really enjoyed this process throughout the day, and drank my tea from a proper cup and saucer. I'm a tea monster, and usually drink about 10 cups a day, but making tea the old fashioned way meant although I drank considerably less, I enjoyed it more.
Breakfast was a hearty bowl of porridge. Ruby conceded that it smelt nice, but wouldn't be persuaded to try some. I tried offering all kinds of '1930's alternatives' like boiled egg, bread, even cornflakes were around then, but she finally settled for some fruit.
No sooner had breakfast been consumed and cleared away, than I was thinking about starting lunch. This was a bit of a theme to the day - it was punctuated and dictated by mealtimes. The lunch menu suggested butternut squash soup, but I wanted to make bread rolls to go with it, so as soon as the clearing up was done, myself and Ruby got on with making and kneading the bread dough.
The soup tasted amazing, and both myself and Mr 1930's loved it. Interesting that I would usually have whipped out my blender to make it - I'd never have considered squishing it through a sieve!
The bread rolls came out pretty well too, although we didn't get to eat lunch until about 2pm - clearly I should have started earlier! Ruby refused the soup, so she had a roll with cheese and Mr 1930's got a jar of Branston pickle out and took delight in telling me it has been 'made from the same recipe since 1922 - Ha!'.
Again, pretty soon after the lunch was cleared away, it was time to think about preparing the dinner. We were having 'Scotch Hotpot' which took 2 hours to cook in the oven. I was fairly apprehensive about it as it had beef steak and pork sausages in - I don't think I've ever eaten a casserole with beef and pork in. The addition of tomatoes as per the recipe didn't do a lot for me either, but I think I'd call it a success - the recipe served 4 and the whole pot was consumed by myself, Mr 1930's and Ruby, along with some green beans.
I might try making this again - but maybe just with pork sausages and apple. At least as it was a slow cook recipe, it allowed me 2 hours to get on with my chores!
It was also nice to all sit down together at the table. We are guilty of not eating together as often as we should.
I don't consider that we eat a lot of convenience foods (if you don't count the odd takeaway and restaurant meal!), but it made me realise that products we don't even consider to be 'convienience' like teabags, sliced bread, instant coffee and spreadable butter can all be done without.
Much as I enjoy cooking, I never cook three meals a day from scratch - breakfast for Ruby is typically a bowl of cereal (I usually do without), lunch would be a sandwich or something-on-toast, and I will cook our evening meal. Making everything from scratch certainly takes a lot of organisation and planning - something I'm not great at.
It's worth noting, that I didn't feel hungry or snack at all throughout the day, despite probably using up far more calories that I usually do. Which makes me think I either snack through boredom, or a hearty bowl of Scottish oats really does set you up for the day.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink
All this cooking resulted in a lot of washing up. Sadly, the dishwasher was not an option, not indeed was a generous squirt of Fairy Liquid. The pots and pans had to be washed in the sink with the dubious assistance of some solid lemon soap and a metal scourer.
It really was an arduous task, and the end result was smeary, greasy dishes. Ruby liked to help, as she does with anything connected with water.
The vaguely clean dishes were left on the drainer to dry. After this challenge I've decided I wouldn't want to live without washing-up liquid (or better still, my dishwasher).
Boy was this a fag! I'll let the video tell you more, but at the end of this I nearly ran out to the outhouse and kissed my washing machine! Apologies about the over-enthusiastic director!
I only attempted a couple of bits, Lord alone knows how they coped with large items like bedsheets and towels.
How Clean is your House
I'm a bit of a lazy cleaner as it goes - a 'spray and wipe' kinda gal, so I found this challenge really interesting. I used bicarb to clean the sink and it came up sparkly and gleaming - I even did the fizzy trick with bicarb and vinegar to clean down the plug hole.
Cleaning the floors was something of a revelation. I'm ashamed to say I couldn't find my broom anywhere - I always use the hoover, even though we have hard floors throughout downstairs. So to do the kitchen floor, I was on my hands and knees with the dustpan and brush. I'd only cleaned the floor the previous morning, and was quite shocked to see the amount of debris I swept up - you don't get to see this when you vacuum so it was a bit of an eye-opener!
Then the floor was mopped in a solution of hot water, lemon juice and bicarb. I was quite dubious of this - I thought it would leave the floor sticky. But it absolutely didn't. It smelt divine and cleaned the grime a treat (bear in mind Mr 1930s had been gardening all day, hence the amount of muck, but still, as I'd only done it the day before, I was amazed at the colour of the water - yuck!)
There are certain cleaning products I wouldn't want to do without, but I'll happily continue using lemon and bicarb to clean my floors. I must also locate my broom and use that more to sweep the floors than vacuum - although I draw the line at taking my rugs outdoors and whacking them with a carpet-beater!
I ran out of time to clean the windows with vinegar and newspaper, but I'm pretty sure even a 1930's housewife didn't clean them everyday!
There was time for a little light dusting with my favourite ostrich feather duster and that was me done!
Batteries not Included
This was, without a doubt the hardest part of the day! Trying to keep a toddler entertained without the use of modern-day toys, TV or computer was a real challenge. At first I thought, no problem, we'll just go out - to the park, to feed the ducks... But in reality there wasn't enough time to do all the chores and go out with her.
The toys that were provided (wooden blocks, a teddy, a yo-yo and a book) didn't hold her imagination for long. The yo-yo was instantly swung around her head in imminent danger of smashing the window or garroting her, so that was swiftly removed! The wooden blocks were played with for all of 5 minutes, as was the teddy. These toys I'm sure would all be fine if I could have sat for hours with her.
So instead, she helped me, and we kept her busy kneading the bread dough, helping with the washing-up, mopping and dusting. We were also lucky it was a beautiful day so she was in and out of the garden helping Daddy to do the digging - I think they were digging for victory!
We did manage to find some time while the dinner was cooking to read books and play board games, but I think in all honesty she missed her dose of Cbeebies!
She did thoroughly enjoy the day, and loved doing things 'like Nanny did'. She rushed into nursery the next day and told them that she'd been in 'the olden days' and babbled quite excitedly about all the things we'd done.
All in all, it's been a great experience. I've discovered things I don't want to live without - the computer, washing machine, washing-up liquid, shampoo and showers, and things I probably could manage ok if I used less of - floor cleaner, the hoover, teabags, my electric blender...
I'd like to say a massive thank you to Procter and Gamble for the opportunity, all the materials they sent to do the challenge and the video camera.
Happy Birthday P&G!