About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

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Learning about the past and....

November 18, 2022

The title of this post, "Learning from the past and changing to what makes more sense". 

Many of you have read my blog for years and some of you are new and so I am going to explain just a little here that my husband Charles, and I, love studying history.  We live somewhat the era we study, not by clothing but by skills and things that make sense to us.  There have been some clothing changes that I have made to what I feel more comfortable wearing. Some of the clothing from the past is very pretty. 

We have grown to love the old ways and old furnishings.  We are middle class American, I am retired, Charles is still working but will soon retire and that will put us into a lower income level living on retirement. We have been preparing for this.  

We have been preparing for full retirement by slowly moving back to our early years and using methods from our generations before us. We worked hard to get out of debt. The best way to do that is to stop spending. 

We do not have a desire to travel, Charles did his traveling when he was younger and I have always been one to stay close to home.  We enjoy reading and woodworking, sewing, Knitting and gardening. We also enjoy researching our family genealogy and visiting cemeteries and documenting where our ancestors are buried.  Our history studies is another entire part of our life. That is enough to keep us busy, actually keeping a house maintained is enough to keep us busy.  

Pictured above, chicken with onions, radish and turnip roots cooked in with the broth from the chicken, rice, and brussels sprouts.  

We converted a utility closet into a pantry and preserve food. We started another version of a hope chest and we call it a retirement chest where we have added replacement items that we know will wear out such as underwear, socks, sheets, towels, fabric, thread, yarn and spare parts for our tools. Each day, we continue to work towards being more sustainable.  

We do the things that have made more sense by undoing all that we can that comes with an attached fee and drains our money. That happened when we were just working and doing what everyone else was doing until we realized this was not going to work. 

We can see more clearly now how we have been prodded along to change, to spend, to keep changing.  It was time for us to stop and return to better times. 

My Grandparents on both sides were born in late 1800 and very early 1900's, my "Great" Grandparents were born in the 1860's and 1870's. Two of my Great grandparents were still living when I was born, we called them Mama and Papa, I was a teenager when Papa died. He lived the longest of all my Great Grands. 

My Grandparents were born as the Victorian era was ending, and here in the United States the new age of 1900 would be call the Gilded age or the Progressive Era.  I wish we had a more romantic name for this era but there does not seem to be one. 

Several years ago here on my blog I named my era the Vintarian era.  I made up a word for where I might fit in.  It is my name for the collection of the old history from the past and where we are now.  It is a fill in for embracing our roots.

Charles and I are a collection or library, as some of you are the same. We the generation of what is left of the stories from our generations of the past that went through the change of the century of 1900 and many years of sickness and wars and financial hardships.  Recessions, the Flu Pandemic, world war 1, another recession the roaring twenties that led to the great depression and then world war 2.  I know these were difficult times but I am amazed at how they normalized their families as much as they could during these times. 

World war 2 ended, my brother and I were born only 14 months apart, and another war caused us to lose more soldiers.  The Korean war, a war that I feel is overlooked because it followed so close after world war 2 ended.  The United states lost over 33,686 soldiers in the Korean war and there is another figure on this that adds to this count but I do not know what that number is. We had over 100,000 wounded Americans in this war.  

The next war, my brother and I were old enough to be affected, the draft into the Vietnam war.  We were both married at this time and stationed at different bases across the country. We wrote letters home to our mother and father and to each other because that is how we communicated back then. Both of us had our first child born on military bases. 

Charles and I study why and how things happen and how things are done from the past, Charles studies the wars and troubled times as well as all of the Presidents. He has books on many of the Presidents, he does not study any certain party, he is very unbias and has a growing collection. Our family gifts him a Presidential book that he does not have on special occasions. He will be reading well through his retirement. The current book Charles is reading is William Howard Taft.  Taft was a judge before becoming President and several years after his Presidency he served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 

With our history studies changing the way we look at things, we do not affiliate with any political party.  We vote on research, prayer and gut feeling each time we vote.  

I am very in awe of Charles because he lives in a way that he is truly himself and does not let others persuade him. He does what he feels is right and does not follow trends.  It took a long time for him to give up his plaid wool tie. It will probably come back in style one day. 

He is not quick to judge and looks at the whole picture. I wish others were like Charles, he has become a one of a kind.  Those he works with respect him because it is difficult to not respect someone with years of experience and makes sensible decisions like he does.  They do not want him to retire and I understand why. 

As time has gone by with our studies, Charles has become very interested in the home front study because this has required a very different way to research and we have learned so much that is not so freely talked about and found in books.  We had to find other ways and somewhat a financial investment to obtain some of this information but we feel it important to share this the best way we know how. 

Our home has become a collection of the past.  I wore aprons long ago and went back into aprons when they started making sense again. I enjoy dressing the table, creaky screen doors and rocking chairs.  Homemade meals and sitting at the table, homemade bread, pies and cakes.


I was just asked a question from Andrea, about the diary of Lena from my last diary post.  The question is, how did two people eat so many pies. 

There are several factors to consider, study the photo above, and one is the size of the pie pan. Lena's diary is 1943 and she is in her 70's.  Her pie plates most likely had been around for a long time.  The photo above I took this morning of two of my pie plates.  One on the right I have had many years but considered more modern compared to the one on the left that I have from 1930's which is most likely the size of Lena's.  Her pie plates were probably much older than the old ones I have. 

This is a 1930s juice glass.

There was a pie plate considered large pie plate which is in the MIDDLE.  The one in the middle is another of the 1930's pie plates.  Both of them are much smaller than the old pyrex I have had for a long time.  When we studied the 1930s I was curious about the size of dishes and such and I ordered these pie plates from the great depression era. 

Besides the pie plates being smaller, people ate different than we do now and serving sizes were much smaller.  Being that Lena's diary is from 1943, and was in her mid 70's, she would have been born in the late1868-1870.  Look at all of the things she had been through during her lifetime.  People knew how to use up and stretch their meat, vegetables and fruits and often these were in Pies.

Another factor is what did she use to make a pie, did she have a small pan she used to make pies for Richard and herself?

During the early 1900s they frequently had visitors and they also visited others , we do not know how many visitors Lena had or if she wrote about them other than when she was sick.  As we have figured out she is very independent, goes everywhere by walking. We do not know if she shares pie but probably does when someone comes for a visit.  My thoughts are their meals were small and so were her pies :).  We will never know the answer to this question and we all can speculate.  Anyone have thoughts about this please share and thank you Andrea for this question. 

Someone recently asked me what kind of board games we play. We enjoy Domino's which is not a board game, we like checkers, chess, backgammon, monopoly. And, I have a old post from 2016 that I did on pick up sticks and how to play the game the old way.  I will link it here.  https://gdonna.com/living-like-the-past/pick-up-sticks/

Also an older post on Pin Curls and Paper Dolls, the paper dolls for entertainment, not always just for children.  Anyone can enjoy paper dolls. 


Here is a link to the post in 2017 that I named our era simple Vintarian. https://gdonna.com/living-like-the-past/simple-vintarian/

I enjoy all of your comments, I cannot answer all of them but I do read them first and then release them to the blog.  If I am sleeping or away from my computer, which I am a lot then as soon as I read the comment I will release the comment.

***  I welcome your thoughts, and memories and questions and I hope everyone is reading the comments because we are learning so much from each other around the world and it gives us a good information about how people live today and their memories of the past.

Grandma Donna


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Comments (14)


November 28, 2022 1:59 PM
Thank you all for the information on the pies especially GDonna for showing the size of the pie plates. The 3 pie plates I have are quite older pieces and are definitely on the small size. I can still cut many pieces out of each, but when we do have company on those rare occasions they always say "That's it?" It sure explains why everyone is so much wider and combine that with a lack of exercise it's bound to happen. A game we played with neighbors many years ago uses dominoes and it's called chicken feet. Not sure how to play it anymore, but we used to in the darkest months in Oregon for fun things to not be depressed not seeing the sun.


November 24, 2022 8:38 AM
What a wonderful blog! I just this morning discovered your blog through Jennifer of Elefantz's blog. I am about your age, born between VE Day and VJ Day. I feel like the world has gotten too unfamiliar and, I would like to go back to the 1940s. Thank you for all the historical information you post. I will be reading past posts and have subscribed to your youtube channel.


November 23, 2022 6:41 PM
Enjoy your posts and following you and Charles with your modified modern/living history. I believe the Gilded Age's start can go back to the ending of the Civil War and ending at the start of WWI. I love the smaller pie plates and I think there are many things we can learn from our past that would benefit us today.

Grandma Donna

November 20, 2022 9:12 PM
Susan, thank you I printed out the instructions and we are looking forward to learning to play acey-duecey. :)
Hilogene, thank you for your comment.
Jackie, I feel we are getting addicted to having something making sound or visual stimulation. It is getting difficult to listen to the quiet.
Rhonda Oliver, very good points, Charles and I read your comment together and we started nodding our heads yes and our Grands made pies with lard and crisco and lived very long lives. It is so confusing what to know anymore. Thank you all for your comments.

Rhonda Oliver

November 20, 2022 8:26 PM
About pie, my grandparents were farmers, born in 1894 and 1900. Grandpa went out and started chores early every morning. Grandma went to the kitchen and the first thing she cooked every morning was 1 or 2 pies, then she made breakfast that was usually biscuits, gravy, small pieces of fried round steak and oatmeal. They raised 6 children and lived to be 89 and 99.
She started making pies with lard in the crust but once Crisco shortening came out, she used Crisco in her crusts and never went back to lard.
I know nutritionists would freak out about their diet, but they were healthy and certainly lived a long time.
Pie was a common food and everyday dessert in the last century, especially for people that worked hard.


November 18, 2022 5:10 PM
I love this post as always. I try not to watch or listen to the news or spend much time on social media but sometimes I find myself being sucked in and I'm usually the worse for it. We have become so used to constant noise and busy-ness, we don't feel comfortable in silence and rest. We have become so used to instant information via the web. Sometimes it's nice as in being able to Google most anything but I think it's mostly a time waster. I try to think back to the years before computers and the internet became such a major part of our lives and what did I do then? Well I had a home, husband and children to care for so there wasn't a lot of spare time. Now, I'm in my 70's, live alone in a remote area and have no family in the state. Training myself not to reach for my smart phone or tablet whenever I don't know what else to do. I feel so much better when I avoid the internet (except for your blogs and videos ????).

Also, I have collected Fire-King Blue Sapphire kitchen ware for years and have 3 pie plates like the small one you have. I have a couple of different sizes and a large one. I just love them. i hope you're having a beautiful, healthy day.

Hilogene in Az

November 18, 2022 4:51 PM
I so much enjoy your posts, thank you for sharing what you learn. I found the photos of the different size pie plates astonishing. No wonder we are getting wider ;). I have been working on getting my pantry in better shape, we eat at home 95% of the time, so the cooking and pantry skills I have learned have helped us. We retired six years ago and I have made a huge effort to learn more and spend less. As I do next year’s budget, and increase all the costs we can’t avoid, I agree that minimizing recurring costs is a huge item!

Susan Setzer from Garner, NC

November 18, 2022 4:43 PM
If you like backgammon, I would like to suggest Acey-Deucey, it's played on the same board. My mom (born 1938) loves this game and we play every chance we get. Here are the rules:

Grandma Donna

November 18, 2022 11:50 AM
Thank you Teresa for you comment. :)

Teresa Pittman

November 18, 2022 11:14 AM
In the 1943 diary I own, the writer makes cakes. I suspect the family had a British background and maybe these were for tea. I do know that cakes of the time were not as sweet as what we make today. If you ever run across one, get the Searchlight cookbook from the mid 40s. The recipes are good and use much less sugar that today's

Grandma Donna

November 18, 2022 7:19 AM
Paula, I do agree that our generations now gone would be shocked to see what we have done to the world, I do crave a life that resembles the better time I remember.
Laura, there is quite a difference in size of the pie plates and dinnerware when you can see it in person as you have and I have.
Tandi, I feel that food has become a competition, especially for tv and blogs. Just basic whole food is what is important. :) Thank you for your work as a 911 operator, you have a very important job.


November 18, 2022 6:42 AM
Dear Grandma Donna,
I really enjoyed this post as always. I've also been going back and re-reading your older post and keep learning new things. I would encourage people to read your cooking from scratch posts as there are many meal ideas. It's been my goal to go back to eating simple meals, so it doesn't take up so much time in the kitchen and in keeping with the way generations before us ate. (I'm a 911 dispatcher and we've been having to work a lot of overtime so my time is limited. But I still want to keep a home as they did in the previous decades.) Thanks so much again for all you do to show us how we can do it too.


November 18, 2022 6:12 AM
Hello Donna

I love to read about your life with Charles. I hope he gets to enjoy a long retirement when it comes. I bet his work don't want to see him retire. Thank you for sharing the pie plates. My Ex MIL has a lot of them around the size of the smallest one you showed.


Paula Alexandra Santos

November 18, 2022 3:25 AM
Hi, Grandma Donna!
Reading your posts and seing pictures of your home, always makes my heart happy and longfull for a time I didn't live in. But that is a time I always loved to read about and see in the movies, due to the way people were, dressed, cared for each other and prioritized. I know the movies aren't the real deal, but stil...
I believe that most of them would be shocked to see what we did to the world they left... :(
I was brought up in the 80's and 90's, so it was a very different era, but still I find it was much simpler (at least here, in Portugal) than the era we are living in.
Today everything is complicated, people make a big fuss out of everything... it gets tiresome, doesn't it?
Nuno and I are also turning to simpler foods, entertaining and ways of living. We have board games (Monopoly, also!), books, old tv shows...
We have a tv channel called Memória, wich means Memory and it's kind of like your TV Land. It's one of my favorite channels! We are slowly getting off of this train. It's moving way too fast and I believe that it's bound to derail one of these days.
I wish you and G. Charles a blessed weekend and I hope you received my emails. I know you two have been very busy at Myrtles!
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