When inviting friends to visits of a week or more, try to fix the time for the visit to begin the day after the ironing is done. The girl feels a weight off her mind, has time to cook the meals better and is a much more willing attendant upon guests.
As for vegetables, do not have spinach, pease, string-beans, or apple-sauce. All these good things take time to prepare, and can be avoided as well as not. Have baked white and sweet potatoes, macaroni, boiled rice, parsnips, sweet corn, stewed tomatoes, any canned vegetables in winter. For dessert, baked apples and cream, bread-pudding, or something easily prepared.
When removed from the person, clothing, if damp, should be dried to prevent mildew, and articles which are to be starched should be mended before placing in the clothes-basket. Monday is the washing day with all good housekeepers. The old-fashioned programme for a washing is as follows: Use good soft water if it can be had. If not, soften a barrel-full of well-water by pouring into it water in which half a peck or more of hard wood ashes have been boiled, together with the ashes themselves. When enough has been added to produce the desired effect, the water takes on a curdled appearance, and soon settles perfectly clear. If milky, more ashes and lye must be added as before, care being taken not to add more than is necessary to clear the water, or it will affect the hands unpleasantly. On the other hand, if too little is put in, the clothes will turn yellow. Gather up all clothes which are ready on Saturday night, and the rest as they are taken off; separate the fine from the coarse, and the less soiled from the dirtier. Scald all table linen and articles which have coffee, fruit, or other stains which would be "set" by hot suds, by pouring over them hot water from the tea-kettle and allowing them to stand until cool. Have the water in the tub as warm as the hand will bear, but not too hot. (Dirty clothes should never be put into very hot clear water, as it "sets " the dirt. Hot soap-suds, however, has the opposite effect, the water expanding the fiber of the fabric, while the alkali of the soap softens and removes the dirt.) Wash first one boiler full, taking the cleanest and finest through two suds, then place in a boiler of cold water, with soap enough to make a good suds. A handful of borax to about ten gallons of water helps to whiten the clothes and is used by many, especially by the Germans, who are famous for their snowy linen. 33 (521)
This saves in soap nearly half. For laces, cambrics, etc., an extra quantity of the powder is used, and for crinolines (requiring to be made stiff), a strong solution is necessary. Borax, being a neutral salt, does not in the slightest degree injure the texture of the linen. Its effect is to soften the hardest water. Another way to whiten clothes is to throw a handful of tansy into the boiler in which clothes are boiling. It will make the water green, but will whiten the clothes. Let them boil, with cover off boiler, not more than five or ten minutes, as too long boiling "yellows" the clothes. (Some advocate strongly no boiling.) Remove to a tub, pour over them cold water slightly blued, and turn all garments, pillow-slips, stockings, etc., wrong-side out. (If there are more to boil, take out part of the boiling suds, add cold water, and fill not too frill with clothes. Repeat until all are boiled. The removal of part of the suds, and filling up with cold water, prevents the suds from "yellowing" the clothes.) Wash vigorously in this water (this is called "sudsing"), wringing very dry by hand, or better with the wringer, as the clear appearance of the clothes depends largely on thorough wringing. Rinse in another tub of soft water, washing with the hands, not simply lifting them out of the water and then wringing, as is practiced by some, because all suds must be rinsed out to make them clear and white. Wring and shake out well and put into water pretty well blued, putting in one article after another until the first boilerful is all in. Stir up occasionally, as the blue sometimes settles to the bottom, and thus spots the clothes. (This time well-water may be used if soft water is difficult to obtain.) Wring out again and for the last time, placing the clothes which are to be starched in one basket, and the rest, which may be hung out immediately, in another. While the first lot of clothes is boiling, prepare the second, take out first, put second in boiler, and "suds" and rinse first. In this way the first is finished and hung out while the later lots are still under way. Have the starch (see recipes) ready as hot as the hand can bear, dip the articles and parts of articles which need to be very stiff, first "clapping" the starch well in with the hands, especially in shirt-bosoms, wristbands, and collars, and then thin the starch for other articles which require less stiffening. When starched, hang out on the line to dry, first wiping the line with a cloth to remove all dirt and stains. Shake out each article until it is free from wrinkles, and fasten securely on the line (with the old-fashioned split clothes-pins), being careful to hang sheets and table-linen so that the selvage edges will be even. The line should be stretched in the airiest place in the yard, or in winter a large attic is a better place for the purpose. (Freezing injures starch, and for that reason it is better in winter to hang clothes out unstarched until dry, then taking in, starching and drying indoors.) When dry, remove from line to clothes-basket, place clothes-pins as removed in a basket kept for the purpose, take down and roll up the line, remove basket, line, and pins to the house, and put the two latter into their proper places. The clothes-line should always be carefully put up out of the weather when not in use. Wipe it carefully with a clean cloth before hanging out clothes, and always count clothes-pins when gathering them up. Every housekeeper ought to provide a pair of mittens for banging out clothes, to be used for this purpose and no other. Cut them from clean flannel (white seems the most suitable), and line them with another thickness of flannel, or make them double, if the flannel is thin. These should be kept in a clean place ready for this particular business, and nothing else. A good and handy place to keep them is in the clothes-pin bag. Turn all garments right side out, shake out thoroughly, sprinkle (re-starching shirt-bosoms, wristbands, and collars if necessary). Shake out night-dresses and under-garments so as to free them from creases, and if they are ruffled or embroidered, dip them in thin starch, pull out smoothly, fold first, and then, beginning at the top of each garment, roll up, each by itself, in a very tight roll, and place in the basket; fold sheets without sprinkling, having first snapped and stretched them, and lay on the rest; over all spread the ironing blanket, and let them stand until next morning. Next day iron, beginning with the sheets (which, as well as table linen, must be folded neatly and carefully, so that the selvage edges will exactly come together. Or, another way to fold and iron a sheet is to bring bottom over top, then bring back bottom edge to edge of middle fold, leaving top edge; iron the upper surface, then turn the whole sheet over, fold the top edge back to the middle edge, and again iron upper surface; this leaves the sheet folded in four thicknesses; now bring the selvage edges together and iron the upper surface, and the sheet is done), and taking shirts next, cooling the iron when too hot on the coarse towels. In ironing shirts a "a bosom-board" is almost indispensable, and an "ironing-board" is a great convenience for all articles. The former is a hard wood board an inch thick, eighteen inches long, and eight wide, covered with two thicknesses of woolen blanket stuff, overlaid with two more of cottton cloth. The cloth is wrapped over the sides and ends of the board and tacked on the back side, leaving the face plain and smooth. The ironing-board is covered in the same way, but is five feet long, two feet wide at one end, and narrowed down with a rounded taper from full width at the middle to seven inches at the other end, and the corners rounded. This board may be of any well-seasoned wood which will not warp, and should be about one inch thick; on this all the clothes are conveniently ironed. Always use cotton holders for the irons. Woolen ones are hot to the hand, and if scorched, as they often are, the smell is disagreeable. In ironing a shirt or a dress, turn the sleeves on the wrong side, and leave them until the rest is done, and then turn and iron them. In this way the bosoms are less likely to become rumpled. Pull muslin and lace out carefully, iron it over once, and then pull into shape, pick out the embroidery and proceed with greater care than before. Embroideries should be ironed on the wrong side over flannel. Always have near a dish of clean cold water, so that any spot which has been imperfectly ironed may be easily wet with a soft sponge or piece of linen, and ironed over again, or any surplus bit of starch removed. As fast as articles are finished, they should be hung on the clothes-dryer until thoroughly dry, especial care being taken with those which are starched stiff, as they retain the starch much better if dried very quickly. Thorough airing is necessary, twenty-four hours being none too much.