Saturday, December 17, 2011

Free embroidery pattern: boy in lederhosen with satchel

I began the week with a free embroidery pattern, so I thought it would be a nice way to end the week as well. From a 1950s plastic bag I featured in a post about vintage underwear and another on vintage recycling, here is a darling depiction of a chipper young boy with a satchel proudly showing off his recycled bag.

Click on the thumbnail above to be redirected to my page of downloads where all my embroidery files are hosted.

Have a pleasant weekend, everybody!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Room for a loom


Sometimes it's hard to see the forest through the trees. All you detail-oriented folk out there know what I'm talking about: we focus on the miniscule only to loose sight of the bigger picture.

Don't be fooled into thinking this mindset is only fraught with disadvantages, though, because we are the same people that notice small treasures that others have overlooked. Take, for example, this weaving frame/hand loom from the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free embroidery pattern: 1700 Woman


Here's a treat for all of you dear readers to start the new week: a free embroidery pattern taken from the 1950s hat bag I wrote about in my last post.

This one is of a lovely lady from 1700 proudly wearing a sporty feathered hat and a men's style overcoat with cravat.

Click on the thumbnail above to go to my new "Downloads" page where I will be hosting all of my free embroidery patterns. It's more practical to have them all in one place, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, December 9, 2011

A vintage take on centuries-old styles

The other day while picking through a pile of clothing at a local thrift store, I came upon a nondescript blue hat. Even though it likely dated to the mid-century, the hat itself was not memorable, but what was nestled inside of it deserves an entire journal entry.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How tacky.

If you have ever been to a flea market in Vienna, you know that it is bound to be filled with unusual treasures.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Did you know? More advice for the Hausfrau

Source: eBay

Another batch of practical and/or entertaining advice from "Die Rechte Hand der Hausfrau" (1950), this time with hand-picked illustrations. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vintage Berlei corselet review


A short while ago I opened up my mailbox and discovered a nondescript package stuffed with soft contents and sporting a Hungarian postage stamp. What was it?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Radish contact paper: now I've seen it all.

I hereby nominate this pattern for the title of Most Charming Contact Paper for the year 2011. Yea or nay?

I snapped these photos at a local thrift shop while the other customers were staring at me. That happens a lot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Timer times two

Vintage Sicomatic Timer

How many timers does a person need? Browsing the shelves of a local thrift shop I stumbled upon this beauty, a Sicomatic-brand timer probably from the '60s or '70s made by the fine people at Silit, who continue to manufacture high-quality pressure cookers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vintage Recycling

In my post about a batch of warm, toasty vintage underwear that I picked up at a local thrift store, I mentioned that the plastic bag from one of the stockinette underdresses was covered in attractive drawings encouraging the consumer to recycle the packaging in any number of ways. Today I want to bring you a closer look at this most creative and charming bag.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Practical advice, and then some

The past two weeks I've brought you excerpts from "Die Rechte Hand der Hausfrau", a book of advice from 1950 for solving common household problems. Today I want to bring you not only some practical entries from this charming manual, but also some of the more, shall we say, strange bits of advice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A quick treat

Found this at the store yesterday: Mändelchen-Pudding, which translates to "Little Almond Pudding".  Although the brand name "Polak" might suggest it comes from Poland, the company is actually from Quakenbrück, a little town between Oldenburg and Osnabrück. Later today I'll whip up a batch to see how it tastes.

A lovely old-fashioned logo

Please tell me I'm not the only one to jump with delight when I see retro packaging in the grocery store!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Classy clips and chic chignons

A weekend treat for my dear readers: a glimpse of my two most recent acquisitions. The first item is a Lotos brand hair clip which I like to imagine gives its wearer the magical power to emulate a "come hither" look even more alluring than the one on the package. A girl can dream...

Friday, November 11, 2011

More practical advice for the Hausfrau

How useful! Postage prices from 1948

Last week I wrote about a practical guide for German housewives that I picked up for the practical price of one Euro. To add to the confusion of how to date this book (the name of the publishing house suggests it predates 1947, but the preface is dated 1950), I discovered that on the inside of the back cover the postage prices from 1948 are printed. The plot thickened when I ran into an eBay classified ad for a 1950 edition of this book showing a picture of the cover that lists a different price from mine! Here is a screen shot:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fashion brochures at the Görlitzer Warenhaus

Over the summer I had the pleasure of traveling to Görlitz, a city in far eastern Germany whose small size is disproportionate to its magnificence. Among the city's many architectural treasures is a department store building (Kaufhaus or Warenhaus) built in the German equivalent of the Art Nouveau style, known as Jugendstil.

The Görlitzer Warenhaus in the early 1950s

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tins, tins, tins!

Actually, just two tins. Two very stylish ones, if you ask me.

Kaufmanns Haut- und Kinder-Creme can still be found on the shelves of drugstores all over Germany. The cream itself has a very distinctive (and I would argue pleasant) smell that comes from a number of ingredients that are supposed to help heal chapped skin. I mostly bought it because I thought the design was attractive.

This 1925 reproduction tin came bundled with a larger Nivea tin that my husband bought for himself. Knowing how much I would enjoy its sleek design and older font, he naturally handed it immediately over to me. I have no idea if it is still on the market, but I suppose one could contact the company to find out.

Has anyone else run into interesting tins still on the market?

Friday, November 4, 2011

1123 pieces of practical advice

No, not all of them at once! But I would like to share with you over the course of a few months some excerpts from a book I picked up for a Euro at a local antique store.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A treasure trove of warm vintage underwear

Two weeks ago when the temperatures were on the chilly side, I head on over to my favorite thrift shop in town to see if I could find any stylish clothing to keep me warm. Figuring I was going to end up finding a nice winter coat or a warm sweater, I was surprised to stumble upon a bounty of warm vintage undergarments.

One of the owners of the store, a nice woman probably in her early 50s, set me up at a table next to the cash register. Despite my slight discomfort at poring over a stack of ladies' underthings with all the other customers walking by (okay, it was quite awkward!), I got to work sorting through the items for ones that would fit me.

Unfortunately the three girdles dating from the 60s, two in white, one in a pinkish/skin color, were much too large, but I did not go home empty-handed. Here is what I picked up for a grand total of nine Euros:

Schießer high waisted woolen knickers

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's time for a new timer

The other day I was shopping at Galeria Kaufhof (a German department store), browsing through the kitchen section for shiny red appliances when I came across a most curious gadget: a kitchen timer by Zassenhaus. The bright enamel housing and the clean design of the face was enough to draw me in, but what really sealed the deal for me was the fact that this timer uses no batteries at all.

The picture on the packaging is for a 60-minute timer with a slightly different face, but the innards are probably identical with the model I bought.

The way it works is you turn the polished metal ring clockwise until the red hand reaches the 55-minute mark. Then turn it back (counterclockwise) to your desired length of time. The winding action creates enough tension in an embedded spring to set off a loud metal bell for about 4 to 5 seconds once the time is up. The sound reminds me of the old-fashioned school bells I used to hear as a child whenever school was out.

Don't they look like candy?

These delightful little things come in many bright enamel colors as well as stainless steel, and their size (about a handwidth) is practical as well. You will need a metal surface such as a refrigerator door to place it on, since it only attaches with a magnet on its back.

Now the cons: you have to use both hands as the magnet is not quite strong enough to hold the body in place while you wind up the timer. Also, if you happen to be two rooms away and have the doors between you and the timer closed, you might not hear the bell, although I've personally found the length and volume to be sufficient for normal everyday use in my household. And finally, if you need a timer that can handle times above an hour, this may not be the one for you.

Overall I am absolutely delighted with this purchase and have ended up buying a half a dozen as presents for friends and family.

The manufacturer, Zassenhaus, is a German company most famous for its spice and coffee mills, which they have been producing since the mid-19th century. So far I have only found these timers on German retail sites, with the exception of one Australian company which imports kitchen accessories from Europe.

Zassenhaus product page:

From the German Amazon site:

From Chef's Greatest, an Australian kitchen products retailer:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Westmark "Safta" Juice-extractor and apple corer

I must confess something to you. I am in love with the packaging for this Westmark "SAFTA" juice extractor and apple corer. The fire-engine red combined with a deep yellow, almost mustard color...and the perfectly manicured hand preparing a tall, cool glass of lemonade. Oh, for me? Why thank you!

Can you wash paper buttons?

Take a look at this apron I found at a second hand store in my local city. The red and white gingham pattern matches the color scheme of my kitchen perfectly, so I snatched it up instantly. Don't you just love the use of blue, red, and white rick rack to decorate the borders and pockets?

What has me scratching my head is a set of buttons on the shoulder straps which I swear are made of pressed paper and embossed with a pattern.

Should I risk throwing these into my washing machine or will they turn into pulp?

Frau B. took the time to initial her work


Welcome to the Hausfrau Journal!

Herzlich Willkommen!

I am just an ordinary young Hausfrau with a passion for old things and ideas, an endless curiosity about the past, and bright hope for our future. Come with me as I share my everyday delights (often with a "German accent") in the hope that they will enlighten you and fill your heart with happiness.

While I am inspired by the many talented writers working on similar blogs, my main motivation comes from my mother's teaching that each person has something interesting to share. Since I have always loved the stories told to me by my elders, perusing antique stores, and learning about life from past eras, it is natural to want to share my enthusiasm for all things vintage with like-minded individuals.

Each of you will come away with something different from my entries, be it inspiration, nostalgia, or curiosity, so I welcome you to share your thoughts with me and all the other readers.

Bis zum nächsten Mal...