Caring for Clothes, Clothing Care, Elegant Dressing, Elegant Dressing for Men, elegant living on a shoestring, elegant survival, Hand Washing, Household HInts, Household Tips, Housekeeping, Jeanne on how to iron a man's shirt, the original elegant living on a shoestring

Elegant Survival Household Tips

New Additions, November 29th, 2007:
Microwave Safety
Always cook with glass dishes when using a microwave oven. Even if your crockery was made after the lead-poisoning alert, it could still be produced by a manufacturer whose products have slipped past the inspections/standards process. Pyrex and Corningware are safe, as are inexpensive glass dishes and cups made by Arcoroc of France. I have one glass mug in which I reheat my coffee.
Speaking of Coffee…
I’ve found that Douwe Egberts is my favourite brand of coffee in Europe, and I am also very fond of their Senseo pods which are used in the eponymous brewing system. I liked it so well that I bought them for two of my friends. However, the pods can be punitively expensive if one wants to have five or six cups a day of Senseo coffee. In my Utopian vision of a perfect world, that is what I would do. But, I’m loath to be so self-indulgent, and only use the Senseo brewer when I have guests. For daily coffee in the U.S., I recommend Yuban. You can purchase a two-and-a quarter pound can of Yuban Original Colombian Coffee for about $5.00 US. It smells heavenly–even more so than Chock-Full-O’Nuts in New York claims to do. I like to percolate it in a stainless steel coffee pot. It tastes wonderful, for those who don’t like their coffee beans blackened beyond recognition Starbucks-style. Speaking of coffees available in the U.S.A., I subscribed to Gevalia Swedish coffees for twelve years until I sensed that their quality had gone down–that was just before I discovered the Senseo system. If you use powdered, non-dairy creamers, avoid Coffee-Mate. It contains aluminum (see my health section). Brands that don’t are offered at Sam’s and Wal*Mart; anywhere else, you only have to read the ingredients and see that your choice doesn’t include aluminates (popular flow-agents) of any kind.
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ironing a Man’s Shirt
My Swedish grandmother taught me how to iron men’s shirts. Like Scandinavians of all social strata, she adored being at the ironing board. I don’t know how other people do it, but here is our system:
Flattening and folding the yoke (found under the collar at the back of shirt) at its bottom seam, iron it. You can iron-out the resultant crease later, when ironing the whole of the back.Iron the underside of the collar, then its topside, then iron a crease at the seam where it meets the shirt.
Iron the insides and outsides of the cuffs, before doing the two sleeves. Then you are ready to execute the easy parts: the two front sides and the back.
Hint: keep a spray bottle of water nearby to mist the shirt’s stubborn wrinkles, even if you have a steam iron. Spraying with water is generally safer than using the shot-of-steam feature on your iron. If do you use steam, empty the iron, refill it, and test-run for rusty water which can be difficult to remove once it is on the shirt. Do not use the highest temperature setting: crispy brown edges are for tortes, not chemises!
Besides the great feeling of accomplishment one gets finishing each shirt, it saves money which one may have spent having a cleaning outfit doing the work. There is dignity in ironing; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
UPDATE: The very best iron that I have ever owned is this one from Panasonic. I have owned irons from Germany that cost three times as much, and each one ruined my silk clothes by dripping on them. This one is totally reliable, and costs about $30.00 US. I choose the the Japanese over the Germans here, and if given the same choice in cars, I would do the same.
Washing Your Shirts
Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Wet the grimy, sweaty and stained spots and rub them with a bar of Zote Soap (in the absence of Zote, a bar of Octagon will do). Soak them overnight in a small tub of water, then agitate and rinse by hand, preferably. Hang to dry. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. My husband has been treating his shirts this way for decades, and some of them have lasted for twenty years. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt’s fibers. You’d be surprised at how swiftly they dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, shirts are easy to iron. Sending your expensive or custom-made shirts to the cleaners may seem luxurious, but will sound an early death-knell for them. Getting up-close and personal with your shirts will ensure that they enjoy the good, long life that their maker intended.
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton; August, 2007

Because Swiffer-type cloths are expensive, and not re-usable after a certain point, I now use large microfiber cloths for dusting furniture and floors. They pick up just as much dust and hair as the aforementioned product. Large microfiber cloths are available in bulk at Sam’s Club, in blue, yellow, chartreuse and orange. At our last purchase, they were 15 USD for 25 of them. They’re soft and washable. Here is what I devised today for dusting floors and cars–it leaves those disposable electrostatic gadgets in the dust:

M-Jeanne’s Home-Made Microfiber Dust-Mop

Take three large microfiber cloths and lay them on top of each other, at varying angles. Center your stack of cloths over the end of an old broom/mop stick, and then, a couple of inches from the end of stick, strap them on with a tightly-pulled, heavy-duty plastic cinch (available at Sam’s and office-supply stores–alternatively, you may use a rubber band). Invert this and run it around your floor, under furniture, or over your car. Clean the mop by shaking it outdoors. You could even use a lint-brush on the cloth, then when you have enough dirty ones, wash them together in the machine. Repeat construction process after they are dry, using a fresh cinch (I use multipurpose ties/cinchos by Thomas Betts). Attach the Cloths to the Broomstick; Invert and Use Dust-Mop

Microfibre Dust-Mop and Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2007

Update: I have found that a microfibre rag will adhere to a sponge-mop. Tie the ends and you will be ready to clean and polish a smooth floor with very little moisture. Fill a one-litre spray bottle with water, leaving room to add a third-cup of white vinegar and one teaspoon of lavender oil. Shake it. This is my preferred cleaning fluid. Mist the floor with it, and go over it with the dry microfibre mop until it is dry and shiny. This cleaning mist can be used on sinks and fixtures, mirrors, microwave ovens, jugs, anything that needs cleaning and shining about the house. It is also a deodorant. The scent of the lavender overpowers that of the vinegar. Careful–this method of cleaning is so easy that you may be cleaning as a hobby if you don’t temper your enthusiasm!

M-J’s Miscellaneous Hints

Keep newly-polished silver free of tarnish by storing it with a piece of aluminum foil (one of the safer uses for aluminum).

Omit the fabric-softener when washing and drying towels. It leaves a coating which reduces their absorbency. I prefer a sun-dried white cotton towel, which is excellent for an invigorating rub. Lightweight cotton towels for the kitchen and bath can all be washed in a solution of detergent and a little bleach. They dry much faster than coloured velour ones, and lend a look of sparkling cleanliness. Lightweight, white cotton towels may be bought in bulk at wholesale stores like Sam’s Club in the U.S.

To keep rarely-used garlic fresh, peel it and store it in a jar in the freezer.

Use salt in your wash-water to help remove stains.

To rid old books of odors, dust the pages with talcum powder, and let them sit for a day. Brush out the powder.

To make cake rise higher, add a half-teaspoon of white vinegar to the batter.

Use old-fashioned wooden clothespins to close bread and chip-bags. They’re cute, easier to manipulate than twist-ties, and are cheaper than chip-clips.

To remove red and burgundy wines from tablecloths after dinner parties, wash them immediately afterwards in the machine, with the laundry detergent of your choice, in hot water with the addition of a half-cup of white vinegar and perhaps some table salt. This routine has always worked for me.

Conserving Candle Wax
I have noticed a jump in candle-prices. Many candles are unusable before their wax disappears. Then, you may have a considerable amount of unused candle wax which could go to waste. I save old candle wax, scented or plain, and when I have enough of it, I melt it in an old pan and pour it into a container into which I have put a standing wick. Then I have a new candle. The wicks can be purchased at crafts stores.
Keep defunct candles in a plastic bag until you have enough to melt. A plain metal pot is best, and I recommend melting wax together from similarly colored candles. Shown are stubs from beeswax tapers and a yellow pillar candle. Old wicks and metal anchors for them are not a problem; just use a metal ladle to transfer hot wax, omitting the debris. Caution: don’t melt used candles in a microwave oven–there will likely be a metal wick or anchor in it.

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fluorescent compact bulbs mercury, light bulbs, lighting

Toxins in the Home

Article in Forbes Magazine

UPDATE, January 5th: low-energy, coiled light bulbs (we use them in our house) contain a tiny bit of mercury, so take care that you don’t drop them. Be careful when disposing of these bulbs (they’re supposed to last five years, so I haven’t done that yet). I saw the news on the BBC site, and if I can retrieve the article, I shall post a link to it here.

UPDATE, January 6th 2010: Several of our low-wattage, coiled light-bulbs burnt out after only three years, and that was with very little use. What a disappointment!

Blood Type Diet, Dr. Peter D'Adamo

December Book Launch by Dr. D’Adamo: The Genotype Diet

I’ve had Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s books on the Blood-Type Diet since 2002. I find that what he says is logical, and when employing his theories, I feel better. The four diets which Dr. D’Adamo designed are specifically for each of the four human blood-types, and are designed not merely for weight-loss, but for general health.

The theories in Dr. D’Adamo’s new book, The Genotype Diet, are even more advanced ones on the same theme.

I’m going to pre-order the Genotype Diet by Dr. Peter D’Adamo on Amazon.com.

elegant living on a shoestring

The Merits of Wearing Gloves

I posted a piece on Elegant Survival about wearing gloves in December, 2006. I had worn kid gloves to an evening holiday party, and my husband wore gloves as well. A young lady commented favorably on our style. I spoke briefly about the merits of wearing gloves, expressing the hope that it would again become routine. I mentioned the scourge of staphylococcus aureus, whereupon she held up her hand with its missing finger–lost to the superbug! For years, I was regarded as an oddball simply for wearing driving gloves in Princeton. What a sad state of affairs that was, in a town known for its traditions. I also wore gloves at the supermarket to ward-off transference of germs on carts, et cetera*. I’ve read somewhere recently that glove-wearing is back in style. I hope that’s true.

~~Copyright M-Jeanne de Mesterton September 11th, 2007

*I also wash every grocery item which enters our home.

elegant survival health, Ginger

How to Stuff a Cold

Ginger_and_Ginger_Jar_Japan_by_M-J_de_Mesterton

Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2007

Courtesy of M-J de Mesterton
Elegant Dressing, elegant living on a shoestring, elegant survival, golf shorts, Knee Socks from Bermuda, Scotttish walking shorts, walking shorts

I’ve Never Stopped Wearing Knee-Socks–in Certain Venues


In Bermuda, where I stocked up on them several times, they were only available in the Men’s version. As you can see, the sock foot, though size small, is still too large. I’ve lived with it for many years, though.

Update, February 2009: Three years ago, in 2006, I mentioned on Ask Andy about Clothes (I’m the member known as “The Wife”) that knee-socks, known as long socks in Britain, were difficult to find. My topic did not go unnoticed by the fashion world. Alex Kabbaz began to stock Pantherella over-the-knee socks, and I got stocked up on them quickly. Here are ladies’ Pantherella over-the-knee-socks from England. They are best worn pulled up to the knee, with the extra inch or two elegantly folded over at the top.
Elegance, elegant cocktail dress, Elegant Dressing, elegant living on a shoestring, elegant survival, Evening wear for middle aged women, inexpensive cocktail dress, the original elegant living on a shoestring, wholesale evening gowns

Elegant Survival’s Source for Inexpensive Evening Gowns

Dress Like a Siren for a Song!
The Los Angeles company is called Buy in America. I’ll start with this cocktail dress. Please see their sizing chart. I disagree with their numbers, but after all, what matters is how the dress looks.

Almost all of the company’s dresses and gowns can be accompanied by their matching taffeta shawls–which are available at $6.00 each! Some really cute, old-fashioned evening bags and reticules are also on offer at Buy in America.

This next one is actually available in a 44-inch bust: Shimmering Cocktail Dress
Note: sometimes there are additional sizes listed a bit lower on the page.
At these prices, I can’t accuse them of driving down the “plus size” to drive up the price of the dress.

Long Evening Gowns with Matching Shawls

Good news: Buy in America takes PayPal.

Elegance, elegant cocktail dress, Evening wear for middle aged women, inexpensive cocktail dress, wholesale evening gowns

Elegant Survival’s Source for Inexpensive Evening Gowns

Dress Like a Siren for a Song!
The Los Angeles company is called Buy in America. I’ll start with this cocktail dress. Please see their sizing chart. I disagree with their numbers, but after all, what matters is how the dress looks.

Almost all of the company’s dresses and gowns can be accompanied by their matching taffeta shawls–which are available at $6.00 each! Some really cute, old-fashioned evening bags and reticules are also on offer at Buy in America.

This next one is actually available in a 44-inch bust: Shimmering Cocktail Dress
Note: sometimes there are additional sizes listed a bit lower on the page.
At these prices, I can’t accuse them of driving down the “plus size” to drive up the price of the dress.

Long Evening Gowns with Matching Shawls

Good news: Buy in America takes PayPal.

Elegance, elegant cocktail dress, Evening wear for middle aged women, inexpensive cocktail dress, wholesale evening gowns

Elegant Survival’s Source for Inexpensive Evening Gowns

Dress Like a Siren for a Song!
The Los Angeles company is called Buy in America. I’ll start with this cocktail dress. Please see their sizing chart. I disagree with their numbers, but after all, what matters is how the dress looks.

Almost all of the company’s dresses and gowns can be accompanied by their matching taffeta shawls–which are available at $6.00 each! Some really cute, old-fashioned evening bags and reticules are also on offer at Buy in America.

This next one is actually available in a 44-inch bust: Shimmering Cocktail Dress
Note: sometimes there are additional sizes listed a bit lower on the page.
At these prices, I can’t accuse them of driving down the “plus size” to drive up the price of the dress.

Long Evening Gowns with Matching Shawls

Good news: Buy in America takes PayPal.

Queen Rania of Jordan youtube ambassador

Queen Rania of Jordan Update

Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan

Queen Rania al Abdullah Launches Diplomatic YouTube Site


Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan

“Send me your stereotypes”. ~~Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan seeks to advance cross-cultural understanding and to send outdated ethnic stereotypes to the ash-heap of history. The Royal Hashemite Kingdom continues its customary tasteful goodwill and diplomacy. It’s a brave thing Her Royal Majesty is doing, given the current climate of coarseness on the internet, where all manner of unqualified and bigoted opinions are aired. Queen Rania of Jordan is opening the proverbial Pandora’s box in order to encourage cross-cultural understanding. Brava!

~~M-J de Mesterton

Queen Rania of Jordan youtube ambassador

Queen Rania of Jordan Update

Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan

Queen Rania al Abdullah Launches Diplomatic YouTube Site


Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan

“Send me your stereotypes”. ~~Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan seeks to advance cross-cultural understanding and to send outdated ethnic stereotypes to the ash-heap of history. The Royal Hashemite Kingdom continues its customary tasteful goodwill and diplomacy. It’s a brave thing Her Royal Majesty is doing, given the current climate of coarseness on the internet, where all manner of unqualified and bigoted opinions are aired. Queen Rania of Jordan is opening the proverbial Pandora’s box in order to encourage cross-cultural understanding. Brava!

~~M-J de Mesterton

Queen Rania of Jordan youtube ambassador

Queen Rania of Jordan Update

Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan

Queen Rania al Abdullah Launches Diplomatic YouTube Site


Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan

“Send me your stereotypes”. ~~Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan seeks to advance cross-cultural understanding and to send outdated ethnic stereotypes to the ash-heap of history. The Royal Hashemite Kingdom continues its customary tasteful goodwill and diplomacy. It’s a brave thing Her Royal Majesty is doing, given the current climate of coarseness on the internet, where all manner of unqualified and bigoted opinions are aired. Queen Rania of Jordan is opening the proverbial Pandora’s box in order to encourage cross-cultural understanding. Brava!

~~M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Survival: Stylish Living on a Shoestring

Welcome to Elegant Survival

M-J de Mesterton, photo copyright 2006


Welcome Message 2006:

Hello, and welcome to the blog for my website, Elegant Survival. I write about how to live elegantly on a low budget. Elegant Survival topics include cuisine, health, clothing, entertaining, and home decorating. I feature my friends, great artisans and sources of information. Elegant Survival is not a money-making web-page.
Please visit my main web-site: Elegant Survival: Stylish Living on a Shoestring, where you will find material categorized into chapters. Thanks!

All the Best,

M-J de Mesterton

P.S. the tapestry on Elegant Survival Blogspot’s mast-head is of my ancestor, Birger Jarl, founder of Stockholm and first King of Sweden

Elegant Survival: Stylish Living on a Shoestring

Welcome to Elegant Survival

M-J de Mesterton, photo copyright 2006


Welcome Message 2006:

Hello, and welcome to the blog for my website, Elegant Survival. I write about how to live elegantly on a low budget. Elegant Survival topics include cuisine, health, clothing, entertaining, and home decorating. I feature my friends, great artisans and sources of information. Elegant Survival is not a money-making web-page.
Please visit my main web-site: Elegant Survival: Stylish Living on a Shoestring, where you will find material categorized into chapters. Thanks!

All the Best,

M-J de Mesterton

P.S. the tapestry on Elegant Survival Blogspot’s mast-head is of my ancestor, Birger Jarl, founder of Stockholm and first King of Sweden