Archive for the ‘Mrs. Child’s Wise Advice’ Category

Mrs. Child on Poverty

May 27, 2006 @ 3:36 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice

That a thorough, religious, useful education is the best security against misfortune, disgrace and poverty, is universally believed and acknowledged; and to this we add the firm conviction, that, when poverty comes (as it sometimes will) upon the prudent, the industrious, and the well-informed, a judicious education is all-powerful in enabling them to endure the evils it cannot always prevent. A mind full of piety and knowledge is always rich; it is a bank that never fails; it yields a perpetual dividend of happiness.

The American Frugal Housewife
by Lydia Maria Child

Mrs. Child on Broth

May 18, 2006 @ 3:32 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice

“Beef tea, for the sick, is made by broiling a tender steak nicely, seasoning it with pepper and salt, cutting it up, and pouring water over it, not quite boiling. Put in a little water at a time, and let it stand to soak the goodness out.”

The American Frugal Housewife
by Lydia Maria Child

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Mrs. Child on Motherhood

May 15, 2006 @ 2:39 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice

“Gentleness, patience, and love, are almost everything in education; especially to those helpless little creatures, who have just entered into a world where everything is new and strange to them. Gentleness is a sort of mild atmosphere; and it enters into a child’s soul, like the sunshine into the rose-bud, slowly but surely expanding it into beauty and vigor.”

—from The Mother’s Book
by Lydia Maria Child

Mrs. Child on Fresh Eggs

May 13, 2006 @ 2:17 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice


EGGS.—To prove whether they are good or bad, hold the large end of the egg to your tongue; if it feels warm, it is new; but if cold, it is bad. In proportion to the heat or cold, is the goodness of the egg. Another way to know is to put the egg in a pan of cold water; the fresher the egg, the sooner it will fall to the bottom; if rotten, it will swim. If you keep your eggs in ashes, salt or bran, put the small end downwards; if you turn them endways once a week, they will keep some months.

—from The American Frugal Housewife
by Lydia Maria Child

Mrs. Child on Insect Bites

May 12, 2006 @ 5:11 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice


A raw onion is an excellent remedy for the STING OF A WASP.

—from The American Frugal Housewife
by Lydia Maria Child

Mrs. Child on Dental Hygiene

May 8, 2006 @ 1:17 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice


“TEETH.—Honey mixed with pure pulverized charcoal is said to be excellent to cleanse the teeth, and make them white. Lime-water with a little Peruvian bark is very good to be occasionally used by those who have defective teeth, or an offensive breath.”

The American Frugal Housewife
by Lydia Maria Child

I assumed the honey was simply a comically counterproductive attempt to make the abrasive element, charcoal, palatable, but Jane set me straight with this quote from Jeanne Bendick’s Galen and the Gateway to Medicine:

“Honey was used on almost all wounds. It was a disinfectant and an antibiotic, although ancient doctors didn’t know those words, either. (Honey breaks down into hydrogen peroxide.) But doctors knew that honey helped healing. The Egyptians used honey in 500 of their 700 cures.”

Hydrogen peroxide! Who knew? Wikipedia elaborates:

Hydrogen peroxide in honey is activated by dilution. However, unlike medical hydrogen peroxide, commonly 3% by volume, it is present in a concentration of only 1 mmol/l in honey. Iron in honey oxidize the oxygen free radicals released by the hydrogen peroxide.

glucose + H2O+ O2 → gluconic acid + H2O2

When used topically as, for example a wound dressing, hydrogen peroxide is produced by dilution with body fluids. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is released slowly and acts as an antiseptic. Unlike 3% medical hydrogen peroxide, this slow release does not cause damage to surrounding tissue.

Nonetheless, I think I’ll stick with my Tom’s of Maine.

Mrs. Child on Economy

May 7, 2006 @ 2:45 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice

Twine_1“The other day, I heard a mechanic say, ‘I have a wife and two little children; we live in a very small house; but, to save my life, I cannot spend less than twelve hundred a year.’ Another replied, ‘You are not economical; I spend but eight hundred.’ I thought to myself,—’Neither of you pick up your twine and paper.’ A third one, who was present, was silent; but after they were gone, he said, ‘I keep house, and comfortably too, with a wife and children, for six hundred a year; but I suppose they would have thought me mean, if I had told them so.’ I did not think him mean; it merely occurred to me that his wife and children were in the habit of picking up paper and twine.”

The American Frugal Housewife
by Lydia Maria Child

This Is Going to be Fun

May 6, 2006 @ 4:20 am | Filed under: Mrs. Child's Wise Advice

091822298201_aa_scmzzzzzzz__1The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child, published in 1828, is a nuts-and-bolts how-to manual for home management. Crammed full of recipes, helpful hints, stain-removal techniques, parenting advice, herbal remedies, cures, and essays on the virtues of thriftiness, this slim volume became the housekeeping bible for legions of nineteenth-century wives. I myself have relied on Mrs. Child’s expertise (both in Frugal Housewife and her other books) for many small details in my Charlotte books.

In the days ahead it will be my pleasure to share with you some of Mrs. Child’s pearls of wisdom. We shall begin with her cure for chapped lips, which I am quite confident in declaring none of you have ever tried. And never will.

“EAR-WAX.—Nothing is better than ear-wax to prevent the painful effects resulting from a wound by a nail, skewer, &c. It should be put on as soon as possible. Those who are troubled with cracked lips have found this remedy successful when others have failed. It is one of those sorts of cures, which are very likely to be laughed at; but I know of its having produced very beneficial results.”

The American Frugal Housewife, p. 116.


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