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Free Pattern: 1950s Vampy Babushka scarf knitting pattern

Friday, May 20, 2016

I am so in love with this 1957 scarf, that dramatic widow's peak is begging to be done in black and red or metallic sparkly yarn. I hope to see several of you ladies rocking these on Instagram this winter! I know I will! See my free patterns page for more vintage knitting, crochet and sewing patterns.

Friday the 13th Novelty Brooch

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, the only one we'll get this year so I'm planning to wear my DIY Friday the 13th brooch. This brooch is inspired by a spectacular vintage Bakelite brooch with several cute bad luck charms.

Fork and knife:
A crossed fork and knife in some parts of the world shows that you are not finished with your meal. In others, it's bad manners. An old superstition is that a crossed fork and knife symbolizes a cross and
represents death.
8 ball:
to be behind an 8 ball means that you're in a bad spot or experiencing bad luck
black cat:
If a black cat crosses your path, they say you'll have 7 years of bad luck
Ace of spades:
In fortune telling, the ace of spades is the Death card
match sticks:
during WWII, a superstition held that if 3 soldiers lit their cigarette from the same match, one of them would be shot or die in battle. This was known as “3 on a match” or “the unlucky 3rd light”

I've included the templates and full photo tutorial for this brooch in my e-book, Pins for Pinups: DIY Brooches for Retro Girls. This brooch uses printable templates, which are cut out of thin rolled clay, so there's very little clay working skills needed. (Trust me on this, I tried to sculpt one by hand and it was a mess!)

Pins for Pin-Ups includes 11 other step by step tutorials for vintage inspired novelty brooches, using a lot of materials from your recycling bin or things that you already have around the house. This ebook is delivered automatically via email in PDF format, so you can read it on your computer or any device with a PDF reader! 

Celebrating Vintage Mamas

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Motherhood is what ultimately turned me on to wearing vintage. I was wearing pajamas, sweat pants and ugly maternity clothes for so long, I wanted to wear something beautiful and unique and take time to fix myself up a bit. Now that Olivia is in school, I'm getting pictures drawn of us at school, me in a dress with bright red hair and bright red lipstick and sometimes she borrows my brooches for special days at school. Someday, if she likes vintage too, I'll pass on my collection to her!

With mothers day this past weekend, Daffny from A Vintage Nerd and I are celebrating some of our fellow vintage mamas.

blogger, Molly Maka shares her life as a vintage mom and some tips for us!

Molly Maka says "I'm a 1940s girl at heart and am actively seeking publication of my World War II romances.  I'm also a proud volunteer of our local Honor Flight hub, serving as one of their two Bombshells.  I'm the mommy to a three and a half year old little boy.  He's our miracle child and we are so blessed to have him in our lives."
Molly Maka and her sweet boy
Q: Do you have any struggles as a vintage mama?
"I don't get to dress vintage and 40s everyday as I would like.  But, when I do, it is a struggle because it means I have to get up even earlier than our early wake up call to ensure my hair is dry and brushed out, make-up done and look achieved all before getting The Boy (as he has come to be known on social media) up and ready for the day.  Honestly, the hardest part for me and the reason I don't take the full plunge is my hair.  It's stick straight and I have a lot of it.  It takes a long time to dry as well.  So, I need to make sure I have the time devoted to how long it takes to set my hair adding in time under the bonnet dryer in the hopes that it will be completely dry by morning.   My normal everyday style has a very retro feel to it,  so I don't feel as bad that I can't dress how I would like.

When I do doll myself up, my son already knows that we don't touch Mommy's curls and he has been known to ask me, "Mommy, are you wearing red lipstick?"  When I say yes, he responds, "You can't kiss me."  The way he says it always makes me laugh.

Q: Do you have any time saving tips for other vintage moms? 
The big ones for me are to set my hair after my son goes to bed and make sure I'm as ready as I can be before getting him up.  I also try to have everything set out to wear the night before, making sure it is comfortable to move in, especially when chasing a pre-schooler.  Worst case, I sometimes just dress the front of my hair and throw a snood on.  Or on days when I can't do my hair, I have what I call my faux-40s look.  It takes me about 2 minutes to throw up and looks okay with straight hair.

Q: What are your favorite shopping spots for vintage moms on a budget?
 I'm always looking for a deal.  I try to keep an eye on Etsy, the local vintage shops (of which there aren't many) and the Ooh La La group on Facebook.  I'll also watch for sales from some of my favorite repro/retro designers and snag things as I can.  Otherwise, I just look for retro looking items at regular stores.

Ella @uptoongirl on Instagram, shares some sweet pics of her and her with her little lady:

she says "Vintage parenting is hard but cocktails help!"

"She has been coming along to my swing dancing sessions since she was born"

"She has absorbed it all and can join in the Shim Sham at the drop of a hat"

See part two of Celebrating Vintage Mamas with more tips and peeks into the life of other vintage moms at A Vintage Nerd.  Thank you to all who sent in their photos and stories! 

A Day in the LIfe of a Vintage Housewife: Grocery Day

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Yesterday was grocery day! We usually shop on Saturday or Sunday mornings but there are few pleasures in life like grocery stores on a Monday morning. No chaotic parking lots, long lines or aisles full of people, just me and my list and all the time in the world. Pj was off work so we took advantage of the morning. In this post, I show how I spend my grocery days, not only shopping but planning menus, cutting my budget back, saving money by cooking from scratch and making the most out of a very full and busy day as a modern housewife.

7:00AM I wake up to Pj talking about giving Olivia some overnight oats that were actually made 3 nights ago and I forgot about them. I yell from bed "No! Pitch that shit, it's old and slimy! There's waffles and berries in the freezer" and with that, it's probably time to get out of bed. Today was "favorite hat day" for Olivia so I let her choose from my vintage hat collection. She picked this pink 1950s bow hat to match her pink Littlest Petshop shirt.

Since Pj is getting Olivia ready, I take a few minutes to pick out a dress and brush out my pin curls before the bus comes. I pick a simple early 50s dress and my gray ballet flats. Every morning, Olivia and I sit on the porch and talk about the mama bird building her nest on our porch or the flowers in the garden. Rhys is just inside, enjoying cartoons and breakfast, usually but today he's outside with all of us.

After she gets on the bus, Rhys wants to go for a walk. Its a beautiful morning so I put my makeup on and we go out.

My daily makeup products include:
Neutrogena oil free moisturizer for combination skin
Maybelline Baby Skin instant pore eraser
Revlon Colorstay foundation for oily/ combination skin in 150
ELF blush in Glow
Coty Airspun loose powder in translucent
Wet n Wild Geometric Highlighting Powder in Sun Ceremony
ELF brow palette in medium
Maybelline Full n Soft Waterproof mascara in Very Black
Wet n Wild Fergie Creme Eyeliner in Little Black Dress
Too Faced Matte Eye shadow palette (tufted suede, velveteen bunny and chinchilla are the ones I use daily)
Besame lipstick in Carmine

Wow, that's a lot of makeup.

After makeup, Rhys says I look "byooo-full" and we go for a walk to the river

It's the train!

We made the mistake of going for a walk before having breakfast so I'm hangry for the walk back home and Rhys is feeling it too so he hitches a ride home.

 At home, I throw together a quick breakfast of sauteed asparagus, over medium egg, feta cheese on a home made English muffin with iced coffee and a bowl of berries.

After breakfast, we hit the road to the grocery store and I make sure I have my menu and shopping list I made yesterday, grocery bags and my Aldi quarter. Both of the stores that we shop at use the Quarter cart return system so I am very protective over my Aldi quarter. It all started back when Pj's office job had soda machines with a can of soda for 25 cents so finding a quarter in this house was near impossible.

How a modern housewife earns money by saving money
As a housewife, I spend a lot of time finding new ways to save money and cut back on spending. In this modern day, many families don't have any idea how you can live on a single income. I admit, it gets hard from time to time but I think I'm always learning new ways to be smart with our money. A housewife doesn't receive a pay check but I bring money into the home in other ways. Some by blogging but mostly by saving what we do have and spending my time in the home wisely.

I'm doing a shopping challenge this month to try to cut our grocery budget down and plan weekly menus that I will rotate each month.  Like many families, we spend way too much money on food so I'm trying some different methods of cutting back. 

My grocery money saving rules:
  • I plan 2 meatless dinners and a home made soup for lunch throughout the week. Usually something easy like pasta con broccoli, stir fry, broccoli or potato soup or our favorite, fondue night!

  • We plan meals that stretch a small amount of meat like stew, beef stir fry, loaded baked potato night, kabobs or tacos. 

  • We plan one dinner at a sit-down restaurant per month and one lazy, fast food or takeout dinner per month, to use when we want to

and sauce from House of Yumm

  • I make English muffins, french bread and Greek yogurt from scratch weekly. Here's the difference:
                store bought English muffins $2.99 for 6            or               home made  .70 for 12
               french bread   $3.49 for twin baguettes                or              .60 for twin baguettes
               Greek yogurt  $3.39 for 2 cups                            or               $2.49 for 6 cups

Just making these 3 things from scratch every week saves my family 316.16 per year! With that, I can plan a weekend vacation to Lake Michigan, buy a new piece of furniture, tires for the car, pay for Christmas and birthdays or just sack it away into our savings account. Maybe next I'll start making pickles or jelly or sauerkraut or pasta. The breads and yogurt are easy too, I maybe spend 30 minutes total in the kitchen, the rest of the time is just waiting for things to rise and do their thing...and kneading bread dough is incredibly therapeutic!

The home made versions of each taste so much better than the store bought versions. My kids love to snack on the breads too, so I buy less junk like chips and fruit snacks. My kids love to help in the kitchen so this is a great way to get everyone to pitch in with the work!

At home, I make breadcrumbs and yogurt. For my breads, I set dough starters and rising dough on the rack outside my kitchen to rise and bubble on this beautiful warm day.

 The yogurt will have to sit in the kitchen overnight and be strained tomorrow.

I made some breadcrumbs from stale bread that I'll use in meatloaf later this week. My food processor made a crazy noise, which is why I made a strange face. I added some Italian herbs and these breadcrumbs smell amazing!

Guys, I was terrified of making my own yogurt. I don't drink milk because the idea of a liquid getting solid in a few hours grosses me out but I did it and holy cow, it is amazing! I can't get enough of it and the kids love it too. If you make your own yogurt, save a cup for the starter culture for your future batch (you can freeze it) and hand wash your cheese cloth to use again and again! The difference between Greek yogurt and regular is that it is strained longer. I add vanilla and sweetener to my yogurt right after I put the culture in. If you add it after it is strained, it will get thin and runny and will need to be strained again, which is hard when you're impatiently waiting for a fruit and yogurt parfait. Here are the recipes that I used:

Crusty french bread from
English muffins from The Kitchn
Greek yogurt from Mainly Homemade

Pj said I was making a weird face, so I made a weirder one.

I set my dough to rise outside and clean the kitchen

Look at that hair! I can't wait for my bangs to grow out, cutting them was not the best idea.

Planning Meals and Price Checking
Noon-ish Pj works on a You Tube video and I check our receipts for this week's grocery budget. Instead of having to plan a new menu every single week, I plan 5 weeks of meals that will rotate each month. If we get tired of something, we can always try a new recipe and switch things out seasonally but this is a huge time and money saver because I will know each week exactly how much each meal will cost and we can finally settle down into the same grocery budget every week instead of spending very little one week and going over budget the next.

First, I add items and prices from our receipts to a master list on my computer. This makes it easy to know which stores have better deals on which items regularly. Since I already shop at discount grocers, I don't bother clipping food coupons because Aldi and other discount grocers sell groceries for less than the cost of sale and couponed food elsewhere. I generally only shop at 2 stores so price comparisons are pretty easy. You wouldn't think this would make a huge difference but it absolutely does!

I shop at Aldi and Ruler Foods (which is a discount grocer owned by Kroger stores). Aldi cucmbers are 49cents. Ruler cucs are 78 cents. Black olives are 99 cents at Ruler and $1.19 at Aldi. So, when I plan my lists, I do one for each store and add the items to each list according to price. Sometimes, there are taste or quality differences too. We don't buy a ton of produce from our Ruler Foods store because things seem to go bad sooner than Aldi produce so most of our fresh produce goes to Aldi, no matter what. Ten cents isn't a big deal but if you can take a few minutes to save 10 cents here, there, here again, before you know it, that's adding up to dollars, which may amount to hundreds over the course of the year.  Here's my list this week, with washi tape to mark off what I already have:

Now I go through the receipts again and see what we bought this week that we didn't need to buy or what meals cost more than I anticipated. Last week, I planned a soup that turned out to be very expensive for a soup (it used pre-packaged tortellini, pork sausage, fresh store bought herbs) so I cut it out entirely and replaced it with ham and swiss sliders instead, which the kids prefer anyway. Last week, we shopped before eating too, so we bought a bunch of junk we didn't need and bought things that were actually much cheaper at another store. So, this week I was more conscious of that. 

I love this sign on the St. Charles Rock Road. At night she lights up and twirls her baton

I checked the Aldi sales ads this week and found some good buys like eggs for  89 cents per dozen, a whole roasting chicken for $4.74 (Which I stretch into at least 3 meals) and a bag of chicken breasts for $1 less than the usual price. We have a deep freeze in the basement so I'm always on the lookout for dairy, meat and produce that we can buy at a discount now and freeze for later use. The chicken came from Ruler foods, which puts sale meats out in the early morning, so it pays to get there early!

Even with our unanticipated sales buys, we bought 7 days of groceries for about $30 under budget, which makes me so happy!

It's almost 1:00 pm and I have an hour and a half until we have to leave home again so I work on a new wall hanging and get my bread and muffins on their second rise while we're out.

We pick up Olivia from school because we have to take Rhys to the doctor for his pre-K check up at 3:30. He is not a happy camper but Pj had a pack of Yo-Kai medals for our brave boy. While in the waiting room, I crochet a snood.

5:00 PM Back at home, I pop my breads in the oven and move my yogurt to a table where it will hang out until tomorrow morning and wind down while some potatoes bake. I cook the English muffins in the electric skillet. They were supposed to rise all night in the fridge but the last time I did that, they turned out hard and flat so this is how I do it now.  Also, my hair is a disaster by now

7:00PM After dinner and clean up, we all get into comfy lounge clothes, veg out, have bath time and get ready for bed. I've had a bit of a sinus thing lately so I curl up with some tissues and a cup of root beer. I pick out Olivia's clothes for tomorrow, make sure her library books are in her backpack and make a little to-do list for tomorrow,which will include rocking out on laundry, sewing a skirt and maybe organizing my basement craft storage.

9:00PM  At the end of the day, I feel like I didn't get much done since I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen, at the doctor's office and at the grocery store but looking back, it was a really productive awesome day!  This time next month, I can grab my pre-made grocery list and go shopping, knowing that my menu will be way under budget and I planned easy meals for the week. Little things like fresh English muffins, a few bucks in savings from my hard work and happy full bellies make me feel that my job as a housewife isn't a lazy or wasteful one but a very important job that makes me feel like my talents and time are being used very well.

I hope that you enjoyed a day in my life. If you liked this post, check out my other Day in the Life of a Vintage Housewife, just a regular kind of day at home with my kiddies! 

housework outfit and planning my next knitting project

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Yesterday was a pretty productive day, in that I finally finished tackling the laundry that I let get out of hand over spring break and got to break in my new mop! After a day of housework, Olivia and I went to her girl scout meeting and I brought my knitting along to work on while chatting with the other moms.
 plus size vintage fashion from Va-Voom Vintage

I'm finally on the finish line for my chunky green cardigan and already thinking of what my next knitting project should be. I've never knitted anything with buttons so I may do some kind of button-up cardigan but there are also some beautiful pull-over patterns out there too.I've been looking at the gorgeous collection of free vintage knitting patterns from Subversive Femme. 
Here are just a couple of favorites from Bex:

                  {here}                                          {here}                                                {here}

I think I'm leaning towards the short sleeve one right now, just because I know that by the time I'm done knitting a cardigan, it'll be very hot in St. Louis!

For my housework day, I wore a retro tee shirt and cotton skirt that I made years ago with this cute 1950s salt and pepper mill kitchen fabric. I didn't do anything with my hair today so I tied it up in a scarf turban.

plus size vintage fashion with bakelite bangles from Va-Voom Vintage

My green sweater is one of my favorites. I love the color and lacy texture. It's actually one of those modern cardigans that is supposed to me worn open with a draped fullness hanging down the front but I like to wear it folded one end over the other and tucked into my skirt as a wrap top.

I wore a stack of black and green Bakelite bangles. The rhinestone bangle is actually a transparent blue when you hold it up to the light. The patina over the decades has turned it black.

bakelite rhinestones and carved bangles from va-voom vintage

dress for laundry day

Thursday, March 31, 2016

 plus size vintage 1950s summer dress from Va Voom Vintage

I woke up early to thunder and rain slamming into our tin awnings. My favorite thing to do during an early morning storm is make a cup of tea and knit before the kids wake up. We thought for sure that my roofer husband would be off work but the storm cleared and the sun came out! Since it was such a pretty day (and I love the fresh rain smell) the kids and I went for a walk to the nearby Eco Park, which has a little gazebo and pond close to the river.

plus size vintage 1950s summer dress and bakelite from Va Voom Vintage
plus size vintage 1950s summer dress and bakelite bangle bracelets from Va Voom Vintage

 Isn't this hexagon bangle interesting? I found it recently at an antique mall for $5. I thought the plastic jewels were odd and maybe a later add on but @bakeltecrazy on Instagram said they're original and its from the 60s and was kind enough to forward some pics from her incredible collection. Pretty neat! If you're a new Bakelite hunter, check out my post on How to Identify Bakelite

On our walk, the kids collected a few cattails and special rocks while I snapped some pictures of one of my favorite 1950s dresses. I had planned on wearing a gorgeous 40s dress today but since I have to catch up on a little laundry, I thought I'd wear something more comfortable and practical for housework and climbing stairs all day.

Olivia is on spring break this week, which has been a challenge. There's something about spring break that makes perfectly wonderful siblings fight like cats and dogs. So, today while I do laundry, they're making glue and borax slime. Daily fun activities and projects seem to keep the fighting and tattling to a minimum. I'll definitely have to stock up on craft supplies before summer break!

1950s dress- warehouse sale
chartreuse cardigan-Target
assorted Bakelite bangles
acorn brooch- Luxulite
t strap shoes- Amerimark