Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to make a watering can for free

A while ago when I was browsing through Pinterest, I came across an image showing an ingenious way to make a watering can of sorts from a regular bottle with a plastic lid.

This idea intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try. Plus I figured that I could then finally retire my teapot from as my current watering can of choice. (Yes, I know…)

Here's how I did it:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

1950s Children's Fashions from East Germany Part 1

I love the fashions of the 50s, and I can see by the poll on the side of my blog that many of you do, too!

So chances are you will be as fascinated with my little east German pattern booklet showing a variety of children's clothing styles.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sundry Items

Top to Bottom:

"Weck" canning jars in the sun
...a fond summer memory

Retro-styled grocery wrapping paper going back in time

Lace on shelves
...a lovely touch

"Mein grösstes Glück, mein grösste Freud' ist meine stille Häuslichkeit"
...very sweet, but I like other things, too!

 The "Swiftsure", British Vacuum Washer Co., Islington, Liverpool

Proud peacock
...showing off for the ladies

Ephemeral forsythia
...soon to be gone

Friday, April 13, 2012

Recipe: Cocoa Plum Millet with Marzipan

Today I want to share a very special, mouthwatering recipe with you. You can cook it up in about 15 minutes, and the preparation time is minimal. In the last few years I've had several occasions to cook up a batch for guests, and every time I am overwhelmed with compliments on the taste and texture of this dish.

Since I learned to cook using imperial measurements, that's how I continue to write all my recipes down, regardless of their origin. Someone in Germany (forgot who!) taught me how to make this dish around 10 years ago. The version below is one I settled on after many trials and tweaks. You may need to change the amounts I give according to your ingredients and preferences.

Hausfrau's Cocoa Plum Millet with Marzipan

  • 1 cup millet
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 t salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup canned plums, chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 cup plum juice
  • 2 teaspoons real cocoa powder (or more, depending on type and preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I prefer the Vietnamese kind)
  • 1/3 cup marzipan, chopped into little cubes
  • apple sauce
  • cinnamon sugar

In a saucepan or small pot, add millet, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, being careful not to stir until the water starts to boil. When the water is mostly absorbed, add cocoa, cinnamon, plum juice and plum pieces. Stir gently.* Add marzipan bits. Stir gently again. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Serve with applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

*Stirring carefully ensures that the cooked millet does not disintegrate.

Makes 2 to 3 servings


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Liebster Blog Award - Sharing the Love

Attention, everyone! Charlotte from Sew Far Sew Good has flattered me by choosing the Hausfrau Journal for a Liebster Blog award for blogs with fewer than 200 followers!

Source: Bloomsbury Loft

Thank you, Charlotte, for considering my work worthy of this honor.

Both of Charlotte's blogs make fascinating reads. Sew far sew good is a journey through the world of garment creation and self-discovery, whereas My Family My Way details the joys and challenges of raising her four sons with a healthy appreciation of the world with an anthroposophical bent. She also contributes to another blog, the Refashion Co-op.

Source: Birdhouse Books

True to the intention of this award, I would like to pass on this honor to five small blogs whose authors I believe deserve recognition for their work:

The values of reducing waste and embracing vintage espoused by the author of "Reduce, Reuse, and Rummage" really resonate with me. I also find her style of writing quite charming!

Lucy Santos's blog "The Glamourologist" is bursting with fantastic posts on utterly fascinating topics relating to make-up and perfume with a horde of well-chosen pictures.

When I read Frøken Toft's blog, I feel like I'm a little fly sitting on her shoulder observing her fascinating life in Denmark.

Not fluent in Danish? Plug the text into Google Translate. Personally I don't let a foreign language stand in the way of enjoying others' blogs.

And neither should you! So hop on over to the smallest blog on my list "Dengang i 50erne", which translates to "Back in the 50s". The author of this blog (another Dane like Ms. Toft) manages to dig up the most enthralling magazine clippings and photographs from the 1950s and scans them in for the world to enjoy.

Now that you've mastered Danish, why not try a little German? Beswingtes Allerlei (how in the world should I translate that in to English???) covers a range of topics for the modern woman who loves old-fashioned things. Check out her recent post on making cherry earrings a la Carmen Miranda.

At the risk of sounding cliché, there were so many other blogs I would have loved to have nominated as well. Excellent writers with creative ideas are starting up blogs every day as blogging becomes more and more popular. Sometimes getting through that first phase where you only have a few (albeit devoted) readers can be a struggle.

Source: Dibble Dibble Dee

In that spirit, I would like to make a special mention for Incurlers, who came up with a great idea for a blog but hasn't posted for a little while. I sincerely hope she develops her idea further.

As long as you're still here, I will also openly confess my love for the Debora's pristine and utterly elegant style at the Black Pinafore.

Are you one of my five nominees? Please include the picture on your blog and thank the blogger who nominated you. Carry on the tradition by selecting five small blogs with fewer than 200 followers to receive the Liebster Blog award.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Magical millinery: an iron for hat making

Source: Frankston Weekly

To be honest, hat making has always been somewhat of a mystery of me. Being completely uninitiated in this art, I think that most millinery tools look like somebody combined a magic wand with a dental pick, and what one does with this bizarre combination is completely opaque to me!

Source: Damsel in Regress

Now, I'm not proud of my ignorance, and I plan to remedy this problem someday when I have more free time. Until then, I take full responsibility when my lack of millinery knowledge causes me to purchase items for which I have absolutely no use.

What am I talking about? Here's an example:

A couple months ago while I was browsing the nooks and crannies of a local thrift store, this bizarre gadget caught my eye:

As probably guessed, the "Original Bügelfix" mounts onto a table with the turn of a lovely heart-shaped screw. Plug the cable into the wall and the round head heats up, just like the bottom of a normal steam iron.

Honestly, I hadn't the slightest clue this was actually for hat making! I bought it on a whim since the price was incredibly low—just a few Euros—and I thought it could be used for ironing difficult articles of clothing like blouses with puff sleeves.

"Bügelfix" translates to "Fast Iron" or "Quick Iron"
(In case you are wondering, the "D.R.P." on the sticker label stands for "Deutsches Reichspatent", that is, a patent dating to before 1945, which gives us an idea of when this device was manufactured.)

An old-fashioned plug without the grounding prongs

Never make hot-headed decisions, right? Guess this was one of those impulsive buys I've always heard about.

Source: Craig Swanson

Not even an exhaustive internet search could turn up any information about this curious device, but I did discover two pictures of a model sold over eBay (the listing is now deleted) for which the power cord can be completely detached.

And here's a screen shot of an eBay listing from a year ago. Apparently someone bought an iron just like the one I have for 60 Euros, much more than I paid for it.

Right now a perfectly usable hat making rarity is just sitting on a shelf in my laundry room collecting dust!

Perhaps the time has come when my Bügelfix and I shall part ways...


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter! Frohe Ostern!

Top to Bottom:
Easter Bunny & Co.
The makings of an Easter basket
Embroidery: Birds, Blooms, and a Heart
Forsythia arrangement
Brauns-Heitmann Egg Dyes (Eierfarben)
Spring Chicks
Garden Flowers in Nachtmann Lead Crystal Vase

Happy Easter, everyone!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Red-hot kitchen accessories

Kitchen tour posts are always fun to read, and while I would be too embarrassed to show full pictures of my kitchen—trust me on this one—I do have a number of nifty collection of vintage and retro objects you might like seeing.

(Now to be fair, a number of the items I list below are not kitchen accessories per se, but seeing as they are free-standing objects in my kitchen, I'm going to stick by my title!)

The mechanical kitchen timer by Zassenhaus pictured above is, along with the toaster below, one of my favorite items because it combines design with utility. (If you're curious, I posted a review of this timer here: link to review)

1960s/1970s Tea Cups by Melitta/Schott Mainz

These tea cups with removable, tempered glass ("Jenaer glas", the original German version of Pyrex) by Melitta are ever so practical and stylish. If my husband would stop inadvertently breaking them when it's his turn to do the dishes, I would use them more often!

Glass Müsli Jar

This glas jar with plastic lid was the ultimate thrift store find: perfectly suited to my kitchen and low-priced! It now houses my morning müsli.

Vintage Ruhla Alarm Clock

Why does my kitchen have a Ruhla alarm clock in it?

It's red.

No one ever winds it up, so basically it just sits there looking pretty all the time.

1950s Red Rocket Lamp

Have you ever seen anything like this? The atomic design is so striking, so unusual that every visitor in my kitchen instantly walks over to it for a closer look. The silver coating on the top of the bulb ensures that the light reflects to the underside, with a faint halo escaping from the top.

Rosti Mepal Mixing Bowl

Although I usually swear by my glass mixing bowls, they are not practical in some cases, like when using a food mill. This large melamine bowl by Rosti Mepal not only matches my kitchen color scheme perfectly, but it also has an ergonomic, easy-to-grip shape with a silicone strip on the bottom that grips the table so my cake batter does not end up on the floor when I'm beating it frantically with a whisk.

Vintage Rowenta E 5214 Toaster with Cable

Back in January I promised some photos of the 1950s Rowenta toaster with red details my husband spontaneously bought for me on eBay. A couple months have past, but I am keeping my word! Here is the E 5214 in all its metal and Bakelite splendor:

One side of toast takes about a minute and a half to brown nicely, and when it's ready to turn, I just open the lid partway and the toast flips itself—like magic!

I posted an amateurish video in January demonstrating how this works with my original (and now defunct) black version of this Rowenta toaster.

The power cable (known in German as a "Heißgerätekabel") is separate from the toaster itself, which is why you will often find these devices without the accompanying power cord. After talking to the owner of a local thrift store, I learned that these old cables cannot legally be sold in Germany for the purposes of powering a device, but they can be sold as a "collector's item" or "decoration".

Above you can see that the plug that fits into the toaster has a ceramic fitting, probably designed to insulate the cable from the high heat conducted to the socket in the toaster through its metal fittings.

Below you will notice that the length of the cord is covered in a lovely black and white woven textile, much like the cables found on clothing irons.

Vintage Kitchen Posts Elsewhere on the Web

Someday when I have a kitchen I would be proud to show off I will post a more traditional tour, but for now why don't you take a look at some of my favorite posts on vintage kitchens:

Sassy Lassie's kitchen makes me nostalgic every time I look at it, without fail.

Kelly from Eclectically Vintage has a different style from Sassy Lassie's. Love the sink!

Solanah from Vixen Vintage stumbled across a mid-century kitchen worthy of a museum.

Antique Home Style has a gallery of 1930s kitchens. I'll take one of each.

Feel free to add to my list with your favorites by posting a comment!