Poor and Pretty Living

Library of Congress: Baking bread using 1920 Potomac Electric Appliances

The lower my income gets, the harder I work to live on my reduced resources. It is a challenge to make home look pretty without any money. There is tremendous labor in preparing homemade food when you cannot afford the convenience or take - out version.

We can bring homemade touches to our humble homes. It is so nice to have a beautiful environment at home. It makes cooking and cleaning more pleasant.

I have a full length white curtain in one of my doorways.  It adds charm to a spot where there is no door in this old 1800's house.  When some of our shades, on a few of our windows, became unusable, we put up some panel curtains found in an old box. This was a way to give us some privacy in the evenings without spending any money.

Over the weekend, I visited one of my grown sons at his job. He works at a beautiful Vermont Inn and Restaurant. On his break, he walked the grounds with me.  He showed me beautiful varieties of roses growing by a large arbor.  They looked lovely on the Vermont landscape.  The owner suggested he cut some of the flowers for me. I was delighted.  I took home a pretty pink rose and a bright red one.  It was as if someone had given me a priceless treasure.  These now sit in a small white vase on my kitchen window sill.  It is a touch of class and beauty because of the story behind them.

I have often seen homes of the wealthy.  They have landscapers do marvelous things with their property.  There are often amazing designs and lush gardens.  I have also seen homes of the middle and lower classes who have beautiful flower gardens.  I have never had such things on my property because, frankly, I do not have the money for mulch, soil, plants or seeds.  A solution for the poor, I have found, is to enjoy wildflowers that cost nothing! (It is also possible to buy seeds for these on clearance at the end of the season for as little as a quarter. Using expired seeds the following spring often works just as well.)  This makes one's property look what is commonly called, "Shabby Chic."  The beauty is in the words and the attitude! This helps one to love what one has and to be content.

I have a few old aprons that have been worn down from years of use. I need to make a new one with some charming fabric I bought some time ago for a special occasion.  The work in making the apron provides me with a happy satisfaction.  Wearing a homemade, pretty apron is a lovely way to keep house.

With recent health trials, I have gotten out of the habit of wearing a nice necklace and doing a bit of dressing up as I do my homemaking duties.  As we face living in poverty, I want to do a better job of presenting my home with class and style using what I already have in my wardrobe. This reminds me of something I recently read about American patriotism in war time.  Many families of means did not buy new clothes even though they had plenty of money. They were told to save resources for the war effort by using what they already had or making things over with what was at home.  These mothers and girls were used to buying a new dress for every social event that came along. They would have a full season of invitations in society and had to dress the part.  How wonderful for them to take their current clothes and do a little sewing to remake them into something new without spending any money!

These days we can take the time to repair our clothes such a sewing up a little rip in a sleeve, or tightening a button on a sweater.  We can make our clothes stay pretty and nice with our own hands.  This costs nothing.

I have a lovely blue sofa in my parlour that needs recovering.  That is simply impossible. Instead, I have placed a beautiful delicate sheet, which I inherited from my mother, over it. It looks homey and sweet. This is part of living poor and pretty.

Setting an elegant table can be done by using regular place settings at the kitchen table, rather than having everyone eat at a coffee table in front of television.  If a formal style dinner can be done at least for the evening meal, it will boost morale among those families living in poverty and cheer them along.  These formal dinners can be simple foods like cornbread, fried potatoes and beans. It does not have to be fancy, but the setting of the table, and the use of dinner napkins, saying grace, and sitting all together is what makes it precious and special.

Many more people than we realize, these days, are living poor. We can make it pretty and almost fun with creativity in our days and the use of our time.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Please be one of these - A Wife Who Does Not Complain.

Have you Joined the Group? - Mother's Benevolent Society.

Happy Times - Walking the Gardens with Baby.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


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