Kitchen cures for what ails you — tips from the 1900s

photo of Mrs. DeWitt C. Owen

My great grandmother, “Nellie,” author and businesswoman.

My great-grandmother Ella Leighton Upton Owen published a series of miniature cookbooks from 1898 to the early 1900s. Among them was “Sick Room Necessities” that gave tips on how to cure ailments like indigestion, fevers and diarrhea — all using ingredients found in her kitchen.

Nellie, as my great-grandmother was known, was a woman ahead of her time. She self-published these books and sold them across the nation. They were popular as fundraisers for women’s church groups.

 

What was life like at the turn of the turn of the century in 1900 for a housewife? Here are a few fun facts:

Refrigerators for the home weren’t invented until 1913. Instead homes had ice boxes.

 

Ice was delivered by the “ice man” driving a cart and horse.

 

There were only 8,000 automobiles in the United States with zero west of the Mississippi River.

 

Less than two percent of the population graduated from high school.

 

Tuberculosis caused more deaths than cancer.

 

Washing machines consisted of tubs, scalding hot water, washing boards and excruciating hard labor.

 

Indoor plumbing and flush toilets were not common.

 

Bathing was generally a once a week affair because it was difficult to heat up so much water.

Yet, here was Nellie, publishing her books and selling them from her husband’s printing press in Illinois and eventually Washington state. Think of the work to set the type! Hint: it was all done by hand.

I’m currently working with a graphic artist and printer to get these gems back to life. This is an exciting project I’ve dreamed about for more than a decade! I’m finally doing it!

If you’d like to learn Nellie’s secrets on how to treat indigestion, fevers and diarrhea — please subscribe by email. I’ll send you an excerpt from “Sick Room Necessities.” You may find your cure is right inside your kitchen cupboard.

What other major things have changed in our homes in the last 121 years?

Views from COVID-19 — We’re still the same

I was looking through my posts from this past year amidst the pandemic. I was feeling frustrated in September when I wrote this post. That was before we decided to put our home of 28 years for sale. Before we decided to leave California. So much has changed in my life since September. And again, so much has not. This post could have been written by me today. When will we see a return to normal? Or will we?

sad pug on sofa

Waffles had the pandemic malaise too.

Do you ever have days where you wake up full of energy and ideas and can’t wait to get started on the day? Today was that day, and somewhere after my walk, doing laundry and sitting down to work, I lost that drive.

I struggled with what to start on, staring at my computer screen for a fresh burst of inspiration to come back at me. I have too much on my to do list — from writing to cleaning out the laundry room. I don’t know what to do first. Second, I started to worry about what this fall and winter season will bring. Will we have a second wave of the pandemic? Will I get sick? Will loved ones and friends get sick? I want to hurry to next Spring and skip the next few months.

Worrying about the uncertain future makes it hard to focus. How do you stop worrying? I also started thinking about how I miss my life before this virus hit. I think it’s going to take a toll on a lot of people emotionally and mentally — let alone physically. As human being we crave interaction with others. I miss my family, my occasional social outings and my swim friends. I don’t think it’s healthy for people to be cut off from each other.

I miss my mom. She’s in assisted living a few miles from where that first nursing home outbreak started by Seattle. If I were to visit her, I don’t know if I’d be allowed in. I’d more likely be waving to her from outside her window. I’m not going to hop on an airplane in the near future, so it’s a moot point.

On a more positive note, we had a treat this weekend with my son and his girlfriend making an impromptu visit. Since my kids live in the Bay Area and all the gyms are closed, by son has been looking for weights. Weights are one of those premium items where the prices  skyrocketed. It’s ridiculous! More than $2,000 for an Olympic bar and weights. We have a set laying around and my husband said if our son came down to pick it up, he could borrow it for as long as he wants.

It was great to see them in person and give them hugs. I’m lacking in hugs from other family and friends. Maybe someday soon?

Are you able to carry on like “before” or do you see a change in your motivation? Has your ability to focus changed?

When it rains in Palm Springs…

Our country is suffering through drastic winter storms. With Valentine’s Day quietly passing us by this weekend, I remembered two years ago when I felt I was fighting Mother Nature to save our 1930s Palm Springs home. I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as what people are suffering with right now — loss of power and extreme weather — but It was a battle for hours as the biggest rain storm in decades pounded our desert.

Desert Sun 2019 flood photo

Photo from The Desert Sun

When it rains in Palm Springs I usually welcome it. Growing up near Seattle, I’m used to rain. It smells so good and makes everything green and refreshed. But, when it rains hard in Palm Springs, it can be a nightmare. And Valentine’s Day 2019 was one of those days.

I enjoyed listening to the rain on the roof the night before. But in the morning, I heard a “drip, drip” that sounded too close for comfort. I kept waking up and checking on the house from 3 to 6 a.m. Everything was okay besides a drip in my bedroom. By 6:30 a.m. our patio and garage had flooded and the water seeped in through the bottom of the French doors. By 8 a.m. the water was puddling in our living room and making it’s way across the entire room.

I battled the flooding in the house with towels. Heavy, rain drenched towels that I wrung out in the tub and threw into the dryer. Back breaking work after several hours and the rain was winning. The floor was completely covered by an inch or two of water.

My husband left for work at 6 a.m. that morning, but as the weather got worse, he decided to head back home. He bought two sump pumps on the way and had to stand in line for them at the hardware store. What a romantic Valentine’s Day present, right?

 

The sump pumps were game changers! I took a break from fighting the flood to look online to see how other people in Palm Springs were doing. Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 1.38.11 PM

There were numerous accidents on the freeway and roads. Schools and businesses closed. We were told to hunker down at home. Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 1.37.37 PM

The worst of the rain was still to come. I know we needed the rain–but really, did it all have to come down in one day?

Here’s a youtube video near the Indian Canyons:

 

Gray Skies, Blue Mood

gray skies rain clouds

Cloudy skies above the nature preserve. 

We are on day three of gray skies, drizzle and cold weather. I’m missing my Palm Springs home. I’m feeling slightly blue missing my friends and old life. Life before COVID that is.

So what to do? I bundled up and went for a walk, the cold air blasting what was exposed of my face. My spirits lifted.

Tomorrow we’re expecting snow. Last week it was 80 degrees and sunny. I was really excited for this winter storm, but I’m already over it. I like walking four to five miles a day — and it’s too cold out — even with the wool cap, down coat and mittens to go that far. I like taking a break in my backyard, reading a book in the sun.

I am spoiled. I admit it. I’ve lived in sunshine for far too many years after leaving the gray downpours of Seattle.

javelina in the back yard

They look like the ROUS’s from the Princess Bride. But they are javelina.

Yesterday, I was startled when three strange creatures made their way along our fence. They were a family of javelinas. It looked like one youngster with mom and dad. They weren’t very photogenic, but I’ll try to get closer next time. The quail are keeping me entertained, too. They are getting fat on the bird seed I put out for them.

quail in rainy backyard

Another rainy day doesn’t detract the quail from our yard.

If you feel yourself getting blue, what can change your mood? Does weather affect your mood?

Getting down to the nitty gritty

The first few days after moving were filled with the basics — finding all our kitchen things and getting the heart of our home established. After that, we moved onto the bedroom. I was overwhelmed with wardrobe boxes and bins of clothes. Why did I have so many clothes and why did I move it all from California to Arizona? How many swim t-shirts does one need? I’ve already sewn several quilts out of them for my kids. What to do now? I found a home for some and took a bunch of clothes to the local Kiwanis market.

cat on a closet shelf

Olive Bear found a safe space inside our closet.

Now that we’ve been in our house for 18 days, I’m down to the nitty gritty. Our guest room still has unopened boxes labeled “photos,” “stuff in frames” and “photo albums.” The plan is to scan in photos I want to keep and throw the rest out.

I’ve filled the dresser in the guest room with stuff I don’t know what to do with. There’s a drawer filled with cords from HMD1 to extension cords and cords of no known use. The same dresser drawer was filled with these cords in my son’s room in California. I think today is the day to make some decisions on cords I need and can use. Or, I can just throw the whole mess out and not waste my time.

The question is why did I move a mess of stuff I have no use for, but cannot part with? And why can’t I? Maybe today is the day.

saguaro cactus

Morning walk views of saguaro.

Any suggestions on how to get rid of stuff I don’t have a place for is much appreciated.

Moving onto excitement

moonrise on mountain

The moonrise over our mountain. What a view.

The past month, I’ve been all over the place emotionally. I’ve been through shock, disbelief, sadness, regret and anxiety. But I woke up today and I’ve moved on. I’m feeling the anticipation of a new adventure. I haven’t moved since 1992 and I’m excited for a new experience.

I don’t know what happened to change my point of view. It may be that the escrows are going well and it looks like all will close this week on both ends of the move. So that takes a chunk out of the anxiety. We worked really hard the past two weeks, packing, throwing stuff out and making daily trips to Angel View — and the end is in sight.

I wish my daughter would come and help us move. But with the state in a new shut down until after Christmas, she viewed the flight home and driving one of our cars to Arizona as not “essential.” Of course, I viewed that differently. But I do understand. She doesn’t want to get us old folks sick. She doesn’t want to get her brother and significant other sick, either.

We were surprised by one of our dear Piranha Swim Team family friends who offered to help us out. They volunteered, we didn’t even have to ask. That makes me appreciate the life we’ve had here, the friendships that are so true and valuable.

We’ve been blessed and I am ready to move on, knowing those friendships will continue.

fountain with plants

Our yard all prettied up for the sale.

Day 220: Time for another shutdown?

I am looking back on this crazy year called 2020. We went through all these days of sheltering in place, yet my little resort town has been busier than ever. The grocery stores are packed. The airbnbs are all booked. I don’t see people sheltering in place as much as they are flocking to Palm Springs.

Does all the visitors to our town help during Coronavirus? It’s something I don’t understand.

Palm trees at sunsnet

A beautiful sunset view from my home.

It mostly younger people coming in small groups. I think they may be working remotely or not working at all and feel the need to get out of their cramped city spaces and spread their wings.

I feel the need to get out as well. I think being stuck at home for days on end is wearing on a lot of people’s nerves. I know my kids and many other young adults are experiencing anxiety, depression and all sorts bad thoughts from this lurch away from “normal.”

When I ask if we’re headed for another shutdown, what I mean to ask is will this one ever end?

Is anyone else feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or confined? If so, what are you doing to feel better?

Blue sky and palm trees are attracting visitors.