lost domestic skills

Sal - posted on 03/12/2011 ( 34 moms have responded )

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today i made my daughters birthday cake, it was a witch, all purple and has her own broom stick the works, it got me thinking about something i heard on the radio last week (i drive a lot -over 150000km in 3 years, so i'm always listening to the radio...it is like having a real life grown up in the car) and it was saying how we are not so "handy" as we once were, a lot of men can't fix a tap, built a book shelf change the oil in the car or fix the lawn mower, all things that my dads generation could probally do, in fact i get my dad (or do it my self as i'm more handy than hubby) to do them as hubby isn't really up to the job (and i;m too impatient to wait for him to get around to it) and women don;t do mending or sewing as clothes are so cheap , we don;t make jams and pickels, darn socks i know people who throw out clothes because the hem comes down or the buttons fall off... and if somene like to sew or cook, do wood work or some other past time that was once a part of life it is now seen as a Hobby....i love to sew but really so it rarely as hand me downs and second hand and sales have clothes so cheap it is silly to make them, i am a jam snob and only buy the expensive home made type so i do make my own jams and pickels, how about you?? are the old skills being lost because they are no longer needed we can just pay someone to do them, as we are time poor and if it is a choice between a home made birthday cake and a shop one the time save is money well spent, or our skills as someone suggested so specialised we don;t reach to multiskilling in the other areas we don;t need anymore? and what skills do you have that make you feel almost you are holding onto a peice of history, and what would you like to learn from you mum or nan before you run out of time-i have almost mastered the christmas pudding,

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Jenny - posted on 03/13/2011

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We should stop thinking of them as "olden day" skills and just as skills. Nothing bad can come of knowing how to handle things on our own. It is what we should all aspire to.

Rosie - posted on 03/12/2011

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sal it's super easy.
8 cups whole milk
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup cream
1 t. kosher salt

in non reactive pan (i use stainless steel) combine all ingredients and stir occasionally over medium heat for 10 minutes. after 10 minutes DO NOT STIR anymore, and let it cook until 190 degrees farenheit. turn off heat and let it sit for an hour and a half. this will seperate the curds from the whey. scoop the curds out and place in cheesecloth. let hang for 2 hours. place in fridge overnight and remove from cloth. lasts for 3-5 days.
i wish i knew how to make mozzarella cheese, i saw videos but it looks a little complicated. :)

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I make my own jam and preserves, too. Also, apple, pear and pumpkin butter. I churn my own butter. I grind my own wheat. Bake my own bread. That doesn't mean I don't buy margarine and store bread bc I certainly do. I can everything I can at fall harvest. Sewing is such a pain in the butt, along with quilting. When I do it's for the 'fun' of it rather than necessity...since we do live in modern times lol. But it's fun to say 'I made that' about a quilt or a dress. I can change my own oil, fluids, filters and tires. I've learned through the years to depend on myself and not others. But I don't live like a pilgrim by any means. I like to consider it the best of both worlds. I'm the True Religion jeans wearing, Prada bag carrying, Kate Spade sunglasses wearing, wheat grinding, bread baking, butter churning, everything canning girl. ; ) It's all a balance.

[deleted account]

Darning is just fixing the holes in the socks. There is a "tool" that is rounded that you put into the sock to hold it in position as you sew it up.

My husband is pretty self-sufficient. He's a jack of all trades. He can do electrics, plumbing, mechanical work, garden, cook, simple carpentry, and sew a button. We'll just say that I'm learning. =)

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I believe many of us have lost skills. I can cook, bake, roast, stew anything really...i made my son's birthday cake and iced it (first time ive ever decorated a cake) it didn't look great but it tasted great and I was proud of the fact I made it!

Audrey - posted on 03/13/2011

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i think that knowing how to do all those "olden days" things will become more and more important as times get harder. i can sew but not as well as id like and i love to cook. as for things i want to learn from my mom or grandma, i want to learn to can. we live out in the country where more people know how to do these things but if more people dont start learning it, it will all become a lost art.

[deleted account]

I think it's sad that so many of those skills we as a society once had in spades are now going by the wayside. I still try to do a lot of my own cooking from scratch (I have bread in the bread machine right now - yummy!!!) and I do mend my kids' clothes of the tear is small. My MIL is teaching me how to darn socks and how to cook more complex meals without recipies (I'm great at homemade soups with noodles from scratch, veggies from my garden and farm fresh chicken!).

My hubby is super handy, but he's a contractor, so I guess he doesn't count. My dad fixes everything from the cars to the roof of my parent's house (and more). My brother, on the other hand, isn't very handy. He says he's too busy (and he is really busy with college and his ROTC responsibilities), but I still think it's sad that his generation can't (or won't) do many of the basic handy things men used to be expected to do all the time.

Jakki - posted on 03/13/2011

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I am so impressed by you lot!

I like to cook things from scratch but anything like sewing, knitting, fixing stuff... forget it!

Oh... I do make bread in the bread machine using the real ingredients, even pumpkin or zucchini bread. The kids throw themselves onto it, so I'm proud of that.

Becky - posted on 03/12/2011

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Having grown up in a 3rd world country where many of the conveniences here weren't available (we didn't even have a microwave!), we had to do a lot from scratch. So I learned to cook and bake, bake bread, make ketchup and pickles, churn ice cream with an old fashioned churn - I'd love to find one of those, actually. It's hard work but oh so fun! My mom used to can fruit and veggies and make her own jams - still does make jams and jellies. I've never done it by myself, but I have a couple of crab apple trees in my backyard now, so this fall I plan to make crab apple jelly. I can mend and sew, although I don't often. I got a sewing machine for Christmas, so want to start making some of my own stuff. I doubt I'll actually sew clothes - I made a dress once and it did not come out well! But kids stuff, like hats, blankets, carseat ponchos, that kind of thing. Maybe I can even make stuff I can sell. I refuse to buy my kids' birthday cakes from the store (maybe when they're older, if they really, really want me to). I bake and decorate them myself. I bake them from scratch, mainly because dh prefers that to cake mix cakes. I'm far from professional, but I'm not too bad and I'm getting better. I did a wedding cake for my sister last summer and it came out not too bad. I have been taught to knit, but I think I'd need to be shown how again before I could do it. Oh, I can cross-stitch, but I find it a bit tedious.

Unfortunately, I have a lazy streak, so although I can do all this stuff, I often take the easy way out and don't do it myself. :(

Now that we have a big yard, we are planning to put in a big garden this year and will be doing some canning and preserving. I am going to have an herb garden too. I want to start making my own pesto. I love pesto, and it's pricey!

Kati, I'm totally going to try that Ricotta cheese recipe! My favorite dish to make is manicotti, which needs ricotta.

Dh is very handy. He can do pretty much anything around the house. He developed the basement in our old house himself. The only thing we hired someone to do was the mudding and taping on the drywall - because he hates doing that, and laying the carpet. He did everything else. He does quite a bit of our vehicle maintenence, cooks well, is good with yard work, and is even not too bad at cake decorating! :) If only he cleaned toilets, he'd be perfect! haha I'm not very handy, but I can put together premade furniture. I put together my own entertainment unit. Took me a while, but I was so proud! Cars, I know very little about. I don't even know how to change a tire! Well, yes I do, I call AMA! :) I know how to check my oil and fill up the gas, that's about it.

Sarah - posted on 03/12/2011

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I'm rubbish at anything domesticated!

I can't cook, I can't sew, I can't bake.

My husband can do all those things though, and he can do most of the "manly" stuff too.

Maybe it's because he's a lot older than me?!

Anyway, I'm with Erin..........EPIC FAIL!

Ez - posted on 03/12/2011

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LOL I'm with April. I am no domestic goddess. I am one of those people who would replace the pair of pants rather than hem them (except that my Nana is still around and does it for me). My Nana tried teaching me to knit when I was young - no go. Hopeless!

I can bake from scratch, but don't do it often because I would just eat it lol. I rarely cook from scratch. I hate cooking, but still manage to feed my daughter a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and veggies. But definitely no canning, jamming, preserves, pickles going on in this house :-/

Oh I don't have a green thumb either lol. Epic fail.

Charlie - posted on 03/12/2011

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Well my partner can do all things " manly " LOL and most things " womanly " he sews his own rips , he cooks he also knows how to build a house , landscape a garden , build our own furniture , do our plumbing , fix electrical faults .......
I love cooking I would love to know how to use a sewing machine and mum has promised to teach me , I grow my own veggies and will make some jams once my figs are ripe !

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Julianne, I was given a free sewing machine and I was determined to use it. After a year of collecting dust, I passed it on. I'm sure you can easily find one out there for free!

[deleted account]

I can do all that typical man stuff too, like build stuff and fix cars...i choose not to though.

[deleted account]

My grandmother helped raise me. I spent most of my time with her, she taught me how to cook, bake, nit, sew, make preserves and garden. I make all my meals from scratch, make some of my clothes, fix clothes when they are broken, except socks because im not very good at it.
I'm currently sewing a quilt out of my daughters receiving blankets. One for her big girl bed :) I don't have a sewing machine so everything is done by hand. Hoping to get one so i can do things quicker, i have a whole garbage bag of stuff i need to fix right now :S

Sal - posted on 03/12/2011

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johnny we have black berries in the back paddock at the momnet, my hands are full of prickles but they are so good i don;t care, and kati (i think) i am so keen to learn cheese making that i am jealous of you and your ricotta, there is a local group doing classes and i am super keen to join them, i have also just started to make my own bread, not every loaf we need but a few a week and i am stunned how easy it is, i have tried before with poor results but must of just got the kneading right or something and it is going great, my mum done cake decorating when we were little so while i have never had formal classes i make most of our even cakes (i do usually buy the sugar flowers as they are a pain to make with little ones around) but the rest i do, christening cakes, my sisters wedding cake, our own wedding cakes, birthdays, i really love doing it, and i am getting into gardening at the moment we are picking lots of stuff and it is great at the supermarket to walk through the vegies and say don;t need zuccinis tomatos, leeks, corriander, tomatos, parsley, mushrooms, you are all a pretty useful bunck of ladies

Krista - posted on 03/12/2011

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I didn't learn very many domestic skills while I lived at home (like cooking and baking) because my mom was very particular in the kitchen and didn't want the help, and my dad was such a picky eater, he wouldn't have touched the food if he knew one of his kids helped prepare it! My mom is a great cook, though, and I've learned a lot since I moved out. My husband and I bake buns quite often, and my goal is to always have homemade birthday cakes for my kids (I have to admit, though, for my son's dinosaur birthday party in November, I ended up having to run out and buy a Dairy Queen ice cream cake with a dinosaur on it after the mini dinosaur bundt cakes I attempted fell to pieces...I did have homemade dinosaur cookies though!)

I learned to sew in school, but don't own a sewing machine. I desperately wanted to learn to knit before I had kids so I could make blankets and booties and hats, but I am incapable of learning from a book, so it never happened.

My husband is pretty handy, all self taught. He finished the basement in our first house pretty much by himself (plumbing, electrical, drywalling, mudding, painting, flooring...) so he's pretty good at maintaining the house on his own.

He's dying to grow a garden. We tried once, and he was so excited when huge tall green things started sprouting, until he found out it was all weeds that were choking out the vegetables lol...we haven't tried a garden again since then.

April - posted on 03/12/2011

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ah. i just buy new socks when the holes start to appear! at least i don't buy new clothes when it's time to do laundry, like my future brother in law does, though!

April - posted on 03/12/2011

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I don't even know what darning socks means! Is darning the same as sewing??

Jocelyn - posted on 03/12/2011

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I can sew; both by hand and with a machine (I've made drapes, and dresses, costumes, pillows etc) My hubby can fix most anything and he also knows how to sew. I can bake, but I can't cook. Hubby cooks.I makes all of my kids birthday cakes. They come from a mix, but they are always decorated by hand. I know how to make jam and bread. I can put up my own shelves, put together furniture. I know how to use power tools (including a table saw!)
I'd say our family is for the most part pretty self sufficient.
I don't know how to darn socks, but I can knit! I'm also learning how to garden.

Jenny - posted on 03/12/2011

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Between my partner and myself we can do pretty much everything. My partner is a very taltented guy and I don't doubt he could build a whole house top to bottom. He does our vehicle repairs including putting in a new motor and clutch. We have a bush play truck he has converted from an automatic to a standard all by himself. He does woodworking too and has built some of our furniture. He is a journeyman fire sprinkler fitter so all of our plumbing is taken care of too.



I make all of our meals from scratch. I rarely buy packaged anything aside from pasta noodles. I have done some canning but don't do jams as my Grandma usually sends me enough for the year. I have done some gardening but am stepping it up a notch this year. I'm graphing it out now to have it set up for growing all season long. Check out a book called Square Foot Gardening. We also hunt. We might butcher our own deer this year too, my cousin did it last year and apparently it's not that hard. I can do basic sewing repairs but have never used a machine. I do intend on learning though. I just started knitting and am 4 feet of the way through my first scarf. I can do basic crochet too, just bracelets and stuff.



Our goal is to raise our children (and ourselves) to be completely self sufficient in every way. Should any emergencies or natural disasters come I have no doubt my family will weather it just fine with our skills.

Johnny - posted on 03/12/2011

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I've learned a lot from my MIL & husband. My own family was pretty convenience based. Although my dad can fix a fair amount of stuff and my mom can sew. My dad also is a great cook, from scratch, and can bake a lot of traditional Norwegian treats. I grew up in the city. When I was little, we had a garden, but my parents took it out for a garage before I was old enough to really learn.

My MIL has taught me how to garden, can vegetables, jams, salsas and pickles. Now that I have my own garden, I can a bit of my own stuff. I live in a townhouse though, with only one fruit tree, so most of the stuff I that I can is bought from the farmer's market. And the blackberry jam is picked from behind our place.

My husband and I both love to cook. Since we started dating, cooking meals from scratch has been something we've enjoyed doing together. We make our own soups, stocks, and pasta sauces. We used to make our own pasta, and we will again once the terrible toddler won't run through the drying pasta and wreck it. The baking is a bit more my thing, and every year I try to add something new. This year it was making a linzertorte.

My husband worked in construction. He can do all the basic household plumbing and electrical and basically fix anything that breaks. The only time we would call someone is to fix or change our breaker box or for a major plumbing problem. When we moved into our place, everything from the light boxes to the taps to the doors needed to be fixed or replaced, and we did all of it ourselves. My husband and my father are installing a hardwood floor in our basement this summer.

I know how to sew, but I don't own a sewing machine. My husband knows how to sew by hand very well, so he does a lot of our mending and button sewing. He even darns socks, which I thought was really cute when I met him. Imagine a 6'4" giant bald man darning socks.

As for birthday cakes, I've made a few. But it was before I had a child. Perhaps this year, if I'm not too busy, I'll make Michaela's. But I will be back to work full-time then and it will be canning season, so I'll probably just be getting one from the bakery.

Rosie - posted on 03/12/2011

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i think they are being lost, however not so much on me, lol! i admit i can't sew to save my life, i did when i was little, but i wasn't very interested in it, so i didn't keep with it. however i do make my own jam, freeze applesauce and corn. i'm not much of a homemade pickle person, or else i would do that as well. i tried canning tomatoes last year, and it was the biggest pain in the ass, i won't do it again. i do make my own pasta sauce and freeze that. i make my own ricotta cheese as well, i refuse to buy it again it tastes so good and is so easy.

i have recently decided i was gonna try to grind wheat berries and make all of our bread. i need to perfect my skills though first, lol. i just cant' seem to get the texture right. i'm gonna get some dough enhancer see how that turns out for me.

i have a little garden, this year it's gonna be bigger. i bought fencing and am going to move the kids heavy ass swingset to the other side of the house (more sun for my garden) and make a bigger garden. i can't wait!! all of this i learned from my mother and grandma-except for the ricotta! i started that on my own.:) i hope i get my boys to take some interest in this type of thing. if my husband knew how to make jam that'd be a major turnon for me, lol!!

[deleted account]

Amie- I have some good canned salsa recipes and for canned chiles if you're interested. Also, tomato / marinara sauces.

It's fun and it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Have some gf's over and make a party of it. : )

Amie - posted on 03/12/2011

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The only thing I never got a chance to learn was to knit. My gramma tried to teach me but it never stuck. I just can't get it right. I can sew though and do as needed, do my own maintenance to our vehicles - as can my husband, we can do our own home repairs and often do - if it's a big job, we'll have friends come help, etc.

There is little we can't do ourselves. Though I am probably more handy than my husband is. My parents taught me "boy" and "girl" home handy jobs, whereas my husband was just taught "boy" handy stuff. If I hand him a needle or the sewing machine, he'd be more apt to sew his own finger with them.

I've never had a garden big enough (until this year when we bought our acreage) for it to provide enough to do jams, jellies, canning. This year I plan too though. My mom has already agreed to come out with her recipes for salsa and I have my gramma's of what she used to do too. I wish she was here to come help, she'd love that but she passed (they both did) 6 years ago now.

[deleted account]

Oh I love power tools...sexy lol. ; ) I always make b-day cakes for everyone....hate, hate, hate store bought sugary gross cakes. I took cake classes at Michael's and got pretty good at it and it's fun.

Amanda - posted on 03/12/2011

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I dont make jams, but I can sew, I am making a blanket as we speak for my mother in law. I can bake, I also installed my own flooring a few months ago. Yeap I can use any power tool as well as a male. Well in my house I can use power tools better than the hubby LOL! I taught him how to tile a bathtub, and back splash (hes slowly learning how to do his "manly" jobs thanks to me and his father forcing him to learn).

It amazes me how many mothers dont even know how to make a simple healthy meal for their children. Not because they dont have time, because the only way they were taught how to cook is with a microwave and boxed items. SAD SAD!

[deleted account]

I can fruit from our fruit trees and grape vines.

I would love to have a sewing machine and learn how to use it.

My DH can fix anything mechanical or on a house so I am blessed in that aspect. Oh and I am learning from him so that I don't always have to wait for him to do it all the time.

April - posted on 03/12/2011

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@ Lisa My MIL tried to teach me and told me that she thought she was the most patient person in the world until she tried to teach me crochet! I managed to make something, at least. That's the good part. The bad part(s) is/were A) you couldn't tell what it was and B) it was easy to pull apart. her cat did it in 3 seconds!

Jenni - posted on 03/12/2011

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Well I think we live in a society of conveince. Every new innovation is created to save time. From premade microwaveable meals to drive through car washes to automated banking. We just don't seem to have the time anymore to churn our own butter.

Our contemporary society wants to finish chores, tasks as quickly as possible so they have more leisure time. Something basically unheard of in the early 20th century.

I imagine us being more self-satisfied when we could accomplish a difficult, time-consuming task on our own. We must have had more pride in our own individual abilities and accomplishments. Our society has become so lazy in general. We're like a bunch of big spoiled children who are more preoccupied with play time and allowing others to do our work for us. Which has it's share of nasty reprocussions; from effects to our health, to cost of living, our reliancy on the system, our attitudes, co-dependency.... bah enough brainstorming...

Anyways, I am as guilty as the come for not being self-reliant and being a product of our childish, lazy society ;)

Minnie - posted on 03/12/2011

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We can do all of that. Except I don't make jam, because I hate it. Blech. What skill does my mother have that I would like to learn...she has yet to teach me crochet. I knit, so that's my next skill, lol.

April - posted on 03/12/2011

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oh god, yes. i believe every bit of it. my FIL can fix or build anything. he is not a contractor or a plumber. he's not an electrician. he is not a car mechanic. he is none of those things, but he can do it all!! his son, my husband, can barely do more than hit a nail with a hammer. it is really a shame. my FIL has SAVED thousands of dollars by doing things such as installing his own hot water heater, putting a new roof on his house, adding new outlets, and doing his own plumbing. whatever the price is of something, you can guarantee the cost is triple what he saved by doing it himself!

Similarly, I cannot pick on my husband for not being handy. I can't sew. I can barely cook...the best I can do is follow a simple recipe as long as there are not too many steps. I do not have a green thumb. I cannot change the oil in my car and actually I am not even sure I know how to check to see if it needs to be changed! It's really sad and the joke is on us. It is shocking how much money my FIL has saved in the last 35 years of his marriage. He has never paid a professional to do ANYTHING!

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