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Read Some of the Questions and Responses from the Retro Housewife! Here are the most recent entries!

September 16th, 2006

Dear Retro Housewife,

My son's bedroom is usually messy so I tidied it up for him but under his bed was disgusting! I do not dare to clean under the bed as I have seen spiders, month old chocolate bars and many other horrible things. What should I do?


Dear Alica,

To find an answer to your question, I consulted a panel of experts on the subject matter "harboring disgusting things under the bed". Members of this exclusive panel included my son and two friends (ages 13, 13, 14) who happened to be coming over to our house that day.

At first, the three of them suggested various combinations of punishments, incentives and rewards for cleaning under the bed (and keeping it clean). The truth came out after a few minutes when I asked them "What would make you want to clean under the bed?". Here is what they said:

  • They have to be in the right mood to clean, like when they get bored of playing video games and the mess has begun to bug them. Then they said they would decide to clean and get it done all at once.
  • All of them said they like having a neat, organized room, and it makes them happy when it is in that condition, but usually there are too many other things that they would rather be doing than cleaning their room.
  • I asked them what gets them in the mood to clean, since that mood seems to be quite rare. Answer: Something really gross.

So, here is what you have to do! Find out what your son's "something really gross" is, get some, and stick it under his bed. Don't lecture him on the mess, just calmly start sealing off your son's room with duct tape, and when he asks why you are doing that, tell him that you wanted to contain the "something gross", bugs, rats etc to his room, and if he likes, you could order some duct tape in a color of his choosing.

You could also ask a friend to come over and pose as an exterminator, whereby the two of you could discuss (within earshot of your son) the remedies for and ramifications of housing vermin under one's bed. (Make sure you say "Black Plague" at least once).

Be very matter of fact, and don't yell or nag your son. Simply pretend you have accepted the situation as such, and are merely taking measures to protect your own health! Good Luck! Here is a song about messy rooms... maybe it will make you feel better in the meantime!


August 18th, 2006

Dear Retro Housewife,

I find myself not wanting to spend for myself my husband's
money. I feel miserable. He is a very good provider but I feel so guilty about spending for myself. I don't want my in-laws to see that I spend his money for myself. Is this at all normal?


Dear Mylene,

I think the feelings you describe may be a sign of low self-esteem, and perhaps the question you should ask yourself is not whether it is normal, but is it healthy for you and your marriage? (But yes, you are certainly not the only one who feels that way).

The first thing I would address is how you regard the family income. You say "your husband's money" and this is where you are running into trouble. A marriage is a partnership of sorts, where work, responsibility and reward are shared by both partners. Assuming you are not sitting by the pool all day and are contributing to your family's well being, you are entitled to a share of the rewards.

Second: Nobody likes a martyr, at least not living with one. If you are miserable, chances are the people around you will be as well. I am not telling you to run out and buy 300 pair of shoes, but you owe it to yourself and to your husband to treat yourself kindly and with respect. The best thing for you to do is sit down with your hubby and talk it over. The two of you should decide how much each of you can spend on yourselves "guilt free". I personally feel that larger purchases should be discussed, but it is also important that both parties maintain a bit of independence.

Finally, it is none of your in-laws' business how you and your husband choose to spend your money. If they are "Buttinskies" tell them politely to "Buttoutski". Enlist your husband's support on this one and don't waver. If they ask about your finances or purchases in a nosy sort of way, remember the "Buttoutski". Mother-in-laws can be very destructive forces if they are so inclined, so a united front is important. Explain your concerns to your husband when you are calm and rational; don't accuse, blame, whine or shout. Rather convey to him how the situation makes you feel, and find out what his feelings are on the topic!

Good Luck!


August 3rd, 2006

Dear Retro Housewife,

How do I display greeting cards without cluttering up the mantel?


Dear Ronjon,

There are several ways you can display your greeting cards without cluttering up your mantel.

  1. Buy a greeting card album for your greeting cards. Greeting card albums are similar to photo albums except they are for greeting cards. This way, you can put all your cards in the album, and then display the album as a coffee table book, or even set it on the mantel.
  2. Set aside another surface of your house for the cards. If you will only be displaying the cards for a short period of time, a table, piano or bookshelf can become your temporary display case.
  3. Some friends of mine take out a big cork board and thumb tack the cards to it during the holiday season.
  4. I just found this Christmas card holder, which is a cute way to display your cards!
July 11th 2006

Dear Retro Housewife,

What foods would I serve for an afternoon ladies gathering (bridal shower)?


Dear Mary,

The two key factors in planning your menu are that 1) the bride will be the focus of the event, not the food and 2) your bridal shower will take place in the afternoon. Holding your shower in the afternoon gives you some flexibility, as you can do either a late luncheon, or opt to serve coffee and dessert. Either can be as fancy or casual as you would like your event to be. Here are some ideas that have worked well for me in the past!


Keep it light and simple! Remember, you and your guests are there to honor the bride, not admire your cooking skills. Simple can also be elegant so you don't have to resort to Doritos and dip.

Try this: Soup, Salad and either Finger Sandwiches, Quiche, Casserole, Soufflé or light Lasagna

Soups: Let the season help you choose the soup to serve. Cold soups such as Gazpacho, Taratore, Cold Melon Soup  will work well in Spring and Summer. Fall and Winter call for hot soups, Squash or Pumpkin Soup,  Leek and Potato  or even an elegant chicken soup but I would stick to the puréed or clear varieties! Pick a soup you like, then make up a big batch, fill a soup tureen (and chill or heat) and serve buffet style. (That way you won't accidentally spill a bowl on somebody while serving!)
I always serve a salad. I would go with a simple cucumber salad or my own personal favorite of "Lambs Lettuce" with finely chopped white onions and balsamic vinaigrette.
Main Course:
  Real women eat plenty of quiche, and know that the quiche is the perfect food for the emergency gourmet. We can also whip one up in our sleep! Ditto for the Casserole. Soufflés are actually quite simple except for that last little bit when it's done. By light Lasagna I mean light in color, and am thinking of a recipe from my Moosewood cookbook for "Spinach Lasagna Béchamel". It is to die for and your guests won't spill tomato sauce on themselves or your furniture! (Kind of a pain to make though...). I will dig out some nice recipes and post them as I find them! Beverages: Lemonade, Fruit Iced Tea, "Scholle", White Wine, Champagne, or Champagne Punch.

Desert and Coffee

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Yum! A cake buffet would be perfect here, with great coffee and or champagne if you feel so inclined. I am going to go put together a cake pictorial now because I just made myself hungry. Check back later if you want to see what I come up with!
June 24th, 2006

Dear Retro Housewife,

What color did the people in the 50's paint their nails?


Dear Megan,

I did a bit of research and found advertisements for nail polish from the 50's. A 1950s Avon Ad introduces 13 different shades of nail color in various shades of red. Colors had names such as "Congo Red", "Crimson Beauty", "Ripe Cherry" and "Magic Red". Women were instructed to coordinate their nail color and lipstick to harmonize with their hair color and clothes. 1950s Color Lipstick by Elizabeth Arden - Perfect Red

I checked to see if they still had any of those shades (long shot) and came up empty. Reds as worn in the 50s are not so common today, it seems. I did find this one from Elizabeth Arden that is close to the bold reds women wore back then! Lipstick and nail color should match...


June 10th, 2006

Dear Retro Housewife,

I want to have a mid to early 1950's cocktail party. Cocktails, hors d'oeurves, pastel cigarettes with gold filters, a sophisticated cocktail dress...


Dear Renee,

That sounds like a fabulous idea! I have asked my sisters to help me and we will put together some ideas and post them here on Retro Housewife!

Sources for 1950s Party Supplies:

  1. Shindigz sells Fifties Decorations with the "Bop Around the Clock" theme. You know, the fifties of Happy Days and Grease. The sock hop was the rage with the youth...i.e. teenagers of high school age. Click here for at Shindigz. Try this Shindigz coupon code: SZCJA7 to save 5% on 1950's Party Supply orders over $75.




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Soup Tureen
Pumpkin Soup Tureen
Adorable Pumpkin Shaped Soup Tureen with Ladle!

1950s Lipstick and Nailcolor by Avon
Only Avon Brings You Flattering Colors - Lipstick and Nail Polish from 1950s

Example of Congo Red - Here as Hair Color
Here is an example of the 1950s color "Congo Red" - which in the 1950s showed up as a lipstick color. Nowadays the only example of Congo Red I could find was this Bwild "Congo Red" Hair Color.

      Purple Flower


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