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Y’all, I am thoroughly enjoying having a roomy kitchen with a full-sized oven, a four-burner stove, and (what seems like) miles of countertops! Mind you, I managed well-enough in the RV and made enchiladas, roasted chickens, veggie casseroles, muffins and cobblers in a small microwave-convection oven.

But this is much better than I remember!

I was baking a batch of gluten-free muffins for myself a couple of days ago, and the instructions, like most instructions these days, call for putting your ingredients into the bowl of a stand-mixer. I think most people who enjoy baking probably have one, and I’m probably the last hold-out. Am I? My rationale is that I was a good baker long before these were available, so why buy one? 

Sure, it makes it easier, but doing it “old-school” involves your time, effort, and attention… and gives you a great arm workout in the process. If all you know is to throw things in the bowl, what are you going to do if/when it breaks? I’m not a Luddite; I love technology, but there are so many things we know how to do that are being lost.

And those things collectively add up to “common sense and know how.” Something that I see is in short supply these days. 

In baking, it’s knowing to bring your eggs and butter to room temperature, creaming them with the sugar as your base by using a sturdy wooden spoon and beating the dickens out of it. Add your dry ingredients, pour in the appropriate greased pan, and voila – cake or muffins! Not from a package, no artificial ingredients. Easy, when you know how.

Hemming a skirt or a pair of pants is also a lost art, but that is what we have tailors for. But most younger people have no idea how to go about sewing on a button, fixing a tear in a hem, or ironing. 

I have an iron, and honestly, it gets very little use; but I know how to use it and it does get trotted out occasionally.

I wrote about driving a stick-shift a while ago, and found most women my age know how… yet most women our children’s age do not. A few of them wrote to tell me they wished they were able to drive a standard transmission, but who would teach them, and on what?

And that’s my point: We know stuff. We’ve got skills. There could be a school in that. We can call it Old Broads Teaching Young Broads, or #OBTYB. We could have t-shirts made, start a movement. Who’s in?

XO Donna

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Donna O’Klock spent 35 years in the beauty business, talking, teaching, and learning. These days, she’d “rather write than talk. It’s better that way because I can edit.” She writes two blogs, and, and is the author of  Sick and Tired & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.

Austin, Texas, has been her home since 1978, but she and her fiancé have downsized and are traveling the country in their RV.

23 thoughts on “WE’VE GOT SKILLS”

  1. I love this article! My girlfriends and I, all 60 or older, talk about this very subject all the time. I never thought I would say it but I say it with pride” I’m getting older” but I love every minute of it. I like teaching my daughter-in-law’s old school ways and they are very receiving of the instruction. It’s a win-win if you ask me. They show me their way and I show them mine.

    • Hi Leslie, I’d love to have a daughter-in-law to learn from. That’s so cool, and I agree with you about Donna’s post. We DO have skills younger women don’t have, and we should be proud of them. Makes you wonder as time goes on, what new gadgets and ways of doing things will develop in the future. Brenda

    • Leslie – I love that. It really is a win-win, in so many ways other than just information sharing. Good for all of you!
      XO Donna

  2. I was just speaking to a friend about this exact subject. I do believe that older women are the victims of ageism, one of the least recognized forms of prejudice, and there’s no one out there beating their drums for us. But they should be, because we do have skills, and the knowledge of ages. We come from a time that will be lost to memory soon. It’s not a fascinating time, but it’s a time when we did a lot, learned a lot, and set the stage for generations of women to come, all while making our own clothes!

    • Barbara – I think the way to deal with ageism is: Not to fall victim to it, by “buying into” someone else’s (or society’s) ignorant ideas.
      And, to beat our own drum as loudly and as often as we can!
      I see a movement toward acknowledging, respecting, and admiring the knowledge and beauty of older women.
      And you are out in front, leading by example, with your Second Act!
      XO Donna

  3. In my family, this is called the Crone Guild (the term “crone” being a high compliment, for a wise woman of experience). The young sit at our feet and listen – when they’re not laughing their heads off! Seriously, we do some of that stuff, but could sure do more. On the farm, it also involves things like learning to run a chainsaw, tractor and log-splitter. Or just things like how baking soda works as well as Soft Scrub, rinses away clean and is dirt cheap…

    • Mary Katherine – I love the fact that your family honors it’s women this way, and doesn’t exclude the girls from learning how to work farm equipment! I’m pleased I learned to use tools – it gave me confidence in my abilities that many of my girlfriends don’t have.
      Ah, baking soda… it and vinegar can clean almost everything!! Great in a chocolate cake, too!
      XO Donna

    • Wow, Michele, I didn’t know they’d been around that long! I’m guessing that your Mom must have been an avid baker. Yum!
      XO Donna

  4. I’m in! As long as they pass along some computer skills I will help the young broads all day long!!

    • Okay, Donna, your t-shirt is in the mail! (only kidding) In my experience, I had great results asking the 10-13 year olds. They know everything, and are still willing to talk to us. LOL
      XO Donna

  5. We Old Broads totally could and should teach the young broads. Although there are a lot of homemaking skills I am oblivious to. I still have to look up how long to boil corn on the cob, every time.

    • Oh, Beverly – I’m noticing the same thing! I know I used to know all of this stuff, but can’t remember diddly these days. I think I need a new ‘motherboard!” But if we know where to look it up, why waste head-space?

  6. I’m in! But it’s a shame some of my everyday skills seem to be no longer needed. Dial a rotary phone? Load your film camera and insert a flashbulb? Can I teach the patience of sending off your film in the little envelope that came in the Sunday paper and waiting a week or two for it to come back? Use a typewriter? Write a letter? Bake bread without a machine? Can produce from the garden? Look things up in the encyclopedia?

    • Great, Alana, glad you’re onboard! So many of our old, now unneeded, skills have translated to newer ones… and I’m sure you’ve progressed with the times! Patience is a great skill, some would say it’s a virtue, that will always be necessary, No Matter What. You can teach anything, because there are people who don’t know how to do what you do.
      Even encyclopedias, which are online now!

  7. YES!
    YOU have made a GREAT POINT!I had an incident the other day at the GYM and I don’t think this young kid knew he was being RUDE!I stood there for awhile and when he kept chatting on the phone I walked away!MY INNER BITCH wanted to tell him when you are working with a person at the counter you say ‘JUST A MINUTE” OR SORRY…………….NOPE nothing out of his MOUTH!I decided AGAINST EXPLAINING HOW YOU WORK A FRONT DESK!!!!

    • Contessa – Mamma mia!! Good for you, my IB would have wanted to ‘splain it to him, too! Walking away was perfect… and showed fantastic RESTRAINT! (Who knows what he was dealing with?)
      But… and, here’s where my IB gets her reward: his manager might want to know how he’s treating their paying clients, and he might want to ‘splain it to him for you!

  8. I know the feeling, a big kitchen counter, full oven and four burners! It’s been six months since we moved out of the RV but still enjoying the space. I do have an old Kitchen Aid mixer, got it when my first daughter was born 42years ago! It’s seen a lot of use, made my own bread for years, couldn’t part with it now.

  9. Chris – I loved your kitchen, was so inspired by it’s openness, and your lovely painted cabinets! You’ve inspired me… negotiating painting our bathroom cabinets (first ).
    I didn’t realize those stand mixers had been around for so long, and that they were so sturdily built!!

  10. My husband bought me a stand mixer years ago, but did I ever use it? Nope, because I mix, beat, and fold with one hand and chop carrots into neat slices with the other in a skinny minute! My mother and grandmother taught me how to cook and sew, among other important things, back in the 60’s. It builds character and responsibility and self sufficiency which is invaluable even today with all the modern conveniences. Love your kitchen, so roomy!

  11. I’ve had one of the mixtures for years and never taken it out. Baking is something I stopped doing when my kids came of age. It even took me a while to really learn the best way to boil an egg! Wish my grandma was around to remind me of a few of the skills we used to have.

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