2012, A Vintage Year

Here is our latest article for Vintage Life magazine.

2012: A Vintage Year

January is such a cold month, so little money to spend! Start your healthy eating resolution with large home-made casseroles made in vintage enamel saucepans. Choose a 1940s large roaster or a groovy coloured 1960s pan, mix up the winter veg and leave to cook. Invite your friends to a social dinner to share stories of New Years Eve parties. Revive the tradition of sitting round the table, serving from vintage tureens to create your perfect vintage table setting.

February is the month of romance. Buck the trend of giving chocolates and pamper your loved one instead. Give pretty glass perfume bottles and dressing table sets that can sit in her room all year round. This year pick early flowering bulbs, tie together with a bow and attach a vintage brooch for a bit of sparkle. This is the year of showing you care through actions and thought rather than huge spend.

March is the start of spring therefore the time to embark on the annual clean. This year do it in vintage style wearing a 1950s pinny. Clean your cupboards then line them with vintage wallpaper offcuts to give a blast of pattern and cheer all year round. Read old housewife books for hints and tips of traditional ways to clean saving you money and time.

April is Easter time. This year enjoy home-made traditions by starting the day with hand painted eggs served in vintage eggcups. Arrange an egg hunt for friends and family, young and old. Everyone running around in the spring sun, carrying vintage baskets and collecting chocolate will bring laughter and joy and last much longer than the sugar rush.

May brings warmth at last, now it’s time to sort out the garden and pot up planters. This year use reclaimed and vintage pots, enamel bread bins and metal buckets will add real character to your patio. Paint the garden shed in pastels instead of brown, hang home-made bunting to create your own May Day celebrations. Get the barbecue out, invite friends over to impress them with your hard work.

June is all about our Dads. This year resist the urge to buy slippers and socks by adding some retro cool into his life. Give him a magazine subscription teamed up with a 1960s magazine rack, or an album (vinyl of course) by his favourite band sitting in a record rack. He’ll appreciate the thought even though his feet may be cold!

July is picnic time so get on your bikes and meet friends for a summer picnic. Take a handmade crochet rug and vintage parasol to keep off the sun. Choose a 1950s cased picnic set with pretty china cups and saucers or go for 1970s brightly coloured plastic. Wrap sarnies up in greaseproof paper, add hardboiled egg and homemade lemonade. Play old fashioned games like rounders in teams to work off your lunch, then lie in the sun all afternoon.

August is the time to get away. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to go camping instead of flying abroad. Relive the traditions of the 1950s by going away with friends and family, camping in a line of tents or caravans! Make it a vintage trip by packing a wind breaker, folding flowery chairs and loads of brightly coloured melamine crockery.

September is back to school! Introduce vintage to your workplace by adding a desk calendar, pen pot or letter rack. Fed up of tea from a machine? Take a teapot and teacup for your perfect tea at 3. If you work from home introduce a 1960s telephone to your desk. adding colour as well as a retro feel.

October and the clocks turn back and evenings start to get darker. Add a vintage clock to every room, an alarm clock for your bedside table, a 1960s kitchen clock or starburst for your lounge and hall. These days we tend to rely on our mobiles to tell the time so turn back the clocks literally this year and return to an age of ticking gently in the background.

November is bonfire night. It’s always cold so this year wrap up in vintage faux fur and chunky knits. Don’t dress the guy in your old clothes….pull out some modern cast offs to create a spectacular fire!

December is of course Christmas. This year have a Christmas Eve cocktail party and invite all your friends and neighbours. Wear vintage glamour and drink from gold rimmed glasses. Shake a mohito in a 1950s cocktail shaker, add ice to a pineapple bucket and pick up olives with candy coloured little forks. Play your old vinyl, have an old fashioned sing along and celebrate your vintage year!


Didn’t we do well, again

We had a great Christmas here at Your Vintage Life. And now it’s the clear up after 3 days of children mayhem! Before all the pressies get put away I thought I’d share some of the vintage ones (i.e. the best ones!).

Firstly the kids. Boy did santa bring a lot of toys….and clothes..and biscuits! When Herbie was asked what his favourite present was he thought long and hard. “I love all my presents” he said. “I really liked my biscuits”. Clearly the way to a boy’s heart is through his tummy!

Herbie got a new bedroom from Santa but I will leave that to another blog! He also got a train set (modern one) but there was room for a little bit of vintage. The 1980s Polaroid camera was a real hit. You load it with plastic discs that run over a wet sponge when they fire out. Just like old Polaroids pictures….flap them about a bit until they dry and a photo appears. It’s in great condition having lasted over 30 years….Herbie managed to drop it and chip it after only 3 hours!

Kitty fared much better in the vintage stakes. She got her retro fabric tortoise I blogged about some time back (read about it here). She got heaps of Fisher Price toys….a 1970s television, 1980s roller and the best of all…the 1960s pull along snoopy dog. She loved this, and has walked around pulling it since about lunchtime of Christmas day!

Boxing day the vintage continued with dolls and a lovely 1950s pram. She didn’t seem to get a look in though as her cousins (all boys) spent the afternoon pushing it around the house!

Then there was Mr YVL. The great thing about our job is we find vintage clothes all year round so I have collected 3 polo shirts dating from 50-70s. He put the caramel one on straight away so that was a hit!

He also got a Mucha calendar. Any regular readers will know we have a few Muchas in our lounge. He was an art nouveau artist but enjoyed a resurgence in the late 60s.

Yes, a calendar is a practical present but  with all the vintage fairs next year and inevitable children’s parties it’s probably about time he knew in advance what’s happening!

His last present was a Gaudi diary. We both love his architecture…..

and so we can see more of it as I have booked a very rare weekend off for us both to go away to Barcelona. I wonder where the flea markets are there????

Then for me. I really did well! I received 2 pieces of furniture for the house, one retro, one vintage.

This G plan stool with leather seat it gorgeous and sits perfectly in our lounge. (Read all about it here).

Then this 1950s fold down table is gorgeous and in amazing condition. Not sure where this will go yet but I’m sure I will find somewhere. It reminds me of last years folding 3 tiered table he bought which we featured this time last year (Read about it here)

I am dreaming of a pantry when we get round to doing the kitchen. A small cupboard full of shallow shelves filled with glass jars and tins. I have a huge collection already but hey this pantry in my head needs more! So more I got!

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some Taunton Vale. This is the first year that I have been bought some though. It’s a chopping board to match all our storage jars, butter dish, tea towel etc etc!

Then there was 2 vintage dresses including the 10p 1950s dress I have blogged about before. This brown one is a Peggy French dress in mint condition. It has ballooned sheer sleeves, matching belt and a pussy bow neckline.

Finally the best present of all. A DRGM bracelet covered in rhinestones. We have been researching it since and all we know so far is it dates pre 1945 from Germany. It is truly stunning and ones things for sure…..I am a very lucky girl.

Now back to the cleaning and tidying……(not feeling so lucky now huh?)


Christmas is about families and friends, giving and sharing and having fun. It is also about enjoying with great food and drink. Now, as a vegetarian household we don’t have a turkey to stuff so the focus is on stuffing ourselves silly!

Well it started on Christmas Eve when our good friends brought around the best home-made ginger bread house ever! This year I have noticed an abundance of do-it-yourself kits for these yummy houses but this one is a total one off.

It arrived as a surprise for our children. Their eyes were filled with joy.

Quickly Herbie broke off the chimney which was an icing covered mini roll. I broke off the roof.

Within less than an hour it was pretty much demolished.

The next day it was almost gone! We also left some out for Santa (who also ate it all up!) He had a real vintage offering this year: port in a 60s fruit shot glass, Rudolph had water in orange 70s melamine and all on a 60s tray!

Then  for the drink. Back in October I blogged about making homemade blackberry vodka from foraged fruit. Check out Home-grown, hand-made, vintage Christmas blog for the recipe.

Last week we sieved the berries and bottled the booze.

We drank some on Christmas Day evening sitting by the fire. The drink warmed us far more than the flames!!

Christmas treasure

I blogged some time back about my Aunty Joan and her wonderful things that I now have to treasure. (Check out the blog Treasured) Well, today we re-found the best item that was given to me last year.

Before I share it with you, here’s a vintage lovely I have blogged about before.

I have picked holly and berries from the garden today for a table decoration. We are lucky enough to have 3 different types of holly bush in our new home. I have made a display in the large blue bubble vase that was hers. It sits pride of place on the Arkana table.

The real treasure is this very old metal candle holder. Light 4 candles and when the heat rises the chime bells ring and the cherubs spin. I noticed last night in Kirsty’s Homemade Christmas programme she features one at the ad break…it chimes beautifully. I am so lucky to have one and the fact that it was my Great Aunts and Uncles is even more magical.

I know nothing about them, I have infact never seen one before last year…and now Kirstie Allsop has one. If anyone else has one please let me know!

Shopping for men!

Men can be hard to buy for. So, here at Your Vintage Life, we have added some last minute mens vintage gifts to the website.  We can of course get it to you for Christmas…yes there is still time!

 We have gorgeous soft mohair warm scarves from the 1960s

Double sided…one side patterned, one side warm

We have mod style scarves from Tootal and Sammy

We have smart cravats for that party…..all from the 60s also

all available from www.yourvintagelife.co.uk

Mummy Christmas

As a little girl, every year I had a new Christmas dress. I still follow this tradition wearing a different special dress usually bright red or covered in glitter. Generally, I try and be Mummy Christmas!

Last year I wore a bright red 1950s swing dress with nipped in belted waist. My little girl, Kitty joined in.

Then a few years back I wore a gold glitter 1960s dress. (yes before you say it, Herbie looks positively unimpressed…maybe it’s his outfit!)

Even pregnant I wore a bright green floaty 1970s maxi affair. Again Herbie isnt looking too impressed!

We have some great Christmas Day dresses for sale at the moment: all red, festive or glam!


Our 1970s tree

We finally got the Christmas tree today and I couldn’t wait to get out all our vintage 1950s decorations. I love glass baubles with their bright colours, indentations and cosmic shapes.

I have this silly thing about it being the mans job to go and choose the tree and bring it back…the whole hunter gatherer thing I suppose! Well Mr YVL and our son Herbie went out and brought it back this year…it was very cute!

The children couldn’t wait for the decorations to come out either. They dived into the box all excited and my stress levels hit the roof. They grabbed my original 50s paper garlands and started pulling them tug of war style. They then found the baubles and at this point I started having heart palpitations!

So the 1950s decorations have been put away for now. We have covered the tree in slightly less precious 1970s decorations with some 50s unbreakable ones in between.

Panic over. The tree goes well with our retro lounge. I will hang the 50s glass ones from the chandeliers tomorrow!

For more vintage Christmas decoration advice and ideas see our blog: Deck the halls which is our article from this months Vintage Life magazine.

Here are some of my favourites hung on the tree today.

Herbies handmade decoration

An early plastic rabbit bell

Our 1950s fairy on the top of the tree

Deck the halls!

Gosh is it really nearly Christmas? Well, the festive issue of Vintage Life magazine has arrived with our latest article in.

For some ideas on how to decorate your home this Christmas, here is “Deck the halls“.

A vintage Christmas calls for vintage decorations. Add hand made touches with family tradition, to make it all the more special.

In the 1950s the tree was real with delicate glass baubles hanging next to candy, ribbons and candles. The 1960s brought a love affair with artificial trees, especially silver ones covered in cosmic shaped baubles. The 1970s look was anything goes…pile it all on..never mind if you can’t even see the tree!

Whatever your style, here are some ideas to recreate these looks, with a few of our own personal touches added. Why not go back to your own family traditional look or maybe start making your own traditions for your grandchildren to enjoy in years to come.

The Vintage Look

Keep precious glass baubles away from little fingers by hanging them from your vintage lights. They will look beautiful above the dinner table, catching the light as they move. Hang perfectly with clear fish wire or go for the craft look with silver ribbon.

Set the table with vintage crystal to create a sparkling Christmas dinner. A bowl of matching vintage baubles makes the perfect centre piece. Scatter crystal charms all over, add silver, candles and cake tazzas to finish the look.

Don’t forget to add the finishing touches with vintage silver napkin rings and crisp white linen. Everyone in our family had their own individual hand-picked silver napkin ring replacing the need for place names. This eclectic look will add character to your table.

Surprise the postman with bright paper garlands and bells adorning your hallway. Why not make your own by simply sewing a running stitch through lengths of coloured crepe paper.

Hand made touches

Create a soft, pretty effect by adding flowers to the tree. Silk cream and pink roses dipped in silver glitter will shimmer behind your vintage baubles.

Make your own crackers with personalised gifts inside. Or add sparkly vintage jewels to the outside to complement your table setting. Think brooches for the girls, cuff links for the boys. Maybe wrap the outside of the cracker in vintage wallpaper or fabric for a clashing patterned look.

Hand picked holly with red berries make an easy-to-make centre piece. Display in a vintage vase or jug and sit on a mantelpiece. Hang cards from vintage pegs on brown string to finish the look.

Create your new traditions.

Celebrate your childhood with your own children by displaying handmade treasures collected over the years. My handmade pink fairy from the 1970s sits alongside my children’s recent masterpieces to create that 70s eclectic look.

How many of you remember the Blue Peter coat hanger decoration made in the late 70s? This one is still going strong and greets all visitors young and old.

My grandma lovingly wrapped small gifts and hang them on the tree. Each present had a riddle describing the person the gift was for…we sat around guessing, appreciating the time and love that had been put into it. Year after year my riddle was: Who married Henry 3 times? Katherine of course!

Home-grown, Hand-made, Vintage Christmas, Vol 2

We have decided here at Your Vintage Life to share you with you some of our Christmas ideas. They are all based around home-grown, hand-made and of course vintage.

There is nothing better than receiving a gift with has had lots of thought, time and oodles of love given into the idea. So, here are is what we will be doing this year.

Volume 2

Tomato and chilli jam

Our garden is full of tomato plants bursting with red fruit. We have grown cherries, plums and beef….and together they make a wonderful flavour. Most years we have grown them in the greenhouse, but since we have moved we have lost this space. So we grew them in the beds and they have been fantastic.

I love tomato and chilli jam…with cheese at Christmas especially. In fact, I make enough to last all year as it’s great added to pasta sauces and even spread on pizza! It makes the perfect gift…added with cheese and nibbles into the perfect fruity hamper.

So the recipe: Put a glug of olive oil into pan and add 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds. Add heat until they start popping. Then add 1.5kg of fresh tomatoes, 2 onions, 2-5 chillis (be careful how hot they are..I used only 1.5 as these ones are hot, hot, hot) and 1 tablespoon of mixed spice.

Then add 2 cups (500ml) of cheap malt vinegar and 1.5 cups (330 g) of brown sugar. I always cook in cups using my Tala measuring cone!

Bring this to the boil and then simmer for about 2-3 hours. Stir throughout. Easy peasy!

Add to sterilised jars, add a label and store until December! They should last 6 months..mine last year lasted longer.

Pour the hot jam into the jars, tighten lids immediately and turn upside down for 2 mins. Then they are ready to be decorated!

Now I’m not totally into the gingham topper, so this year I’m using bits of old lace linen we have had for a while. Tie with string or ribbon…perfect!

Make a gift in a vintage basket or hamper, adding some vintage side plates. Mix and match different colours and patterns, or add a set…whatever you choose make sure there’s enough for the whole family who are receiving the gift to eat their cheese and jam from!

Or why not add to a vintage bread bin instead of a hamper…this way they get a wonderful gift as well as the yummy food! Wine is a perfect addition too.

I know a great website which sells an empty hamper or basket along with cellophane and bow if you don’t have a vintage one spare! Check out Your Gift Basket

Enjoy….and remember it’s not long til Christmas when you can open up and start eating!!! For more Christmas ideas click here!

For more bread bins, baskets and side plates just click on the picture!

We’ve got it covered

I treated myself to 12, yes 12, vintage Woman’s Own magazines last week. They date from as early as 1939 with the latest being 1957. They are great inspiration for my magazine articles for Vintage Life magazine….sometimes a tiny piece, even an advert will trigger an idea off in my mind.

For those who regularly follow Your Vintage Blog, you will know we are totally renovating our 1920s home (read Our Patterned Palace for reference)….and the conversation cropped up about pictures  for the walls.

 I love the 1950s furniture and design, Adam loves the 1960s therefore selecting  original prints that we both agree on is quite hard. Also, finding them is a challenge in itself.

The plan is to frame the covers from these magazines so I chose them wisely. These are some of my favourites.

The lady on the red telephone dates amazingly from March 1945. Anyone who has read my articles on vintage phones will know in the 40s and 50s everyone had the choice of black or black..so a bright red one is so rare. The colour matches her lippy perfectly. This will hang in our hall above the vintage telephone table and our 1950s Ericofon phone…which is…green!

Now this one is stunning with quite a lot of flesh on show for….1939! Her skin is flawless and the red/white/blue towel is patriotic.

The next one will go in our bedroom. We have just hung 1950s wallpaper (soon to be blogged) which will offset this image perfectly. A lady is being tied into her tight bodice dress in an eye-catching emerald colour.

This dates from November 1948 and totally reflects Christian Dior’s New Look range launched in 1947 with tiny waists and full skirts. I love her shocking pink gloves!

The next dates from 1954 and is a Christmas edition. The model is called Audrey Dalton and I love her tassle edged hood.

This one dates from 1954 and shows the hat of the day. This Chinese influenced style was so chic (and I bought an original one in fantastic condition last week..but thats another story!)

I chose 2 more from the 1940s which are a lot smaller than the later and earlier ones. A dapper gent with a lady playing with his bow tie dates from August 1946.

I love the Winter Wonderland feel to this one from December 1946. Her dress is edged in yellow fur with matching gloves..she looks gorgeous.

I chose this one for the headline on the front “Good Homes on a Low Budget”. Dating from 1957 this will be great for my articles….as well as the 16 page pull out Holiday Guide. The model is wearing what looks like a hooded kagoul..maybe summers back then were are wet as now!

I chose the Coronation special for inspiration for any writing next year. Our Queen looks so young here.

Lastly, “So you want to a model?” has an elegant lady on the front from 1952. Her hat is so unusual, with curved sides and netting covering the bottom half of her beautiful face. Her black eye liner is great too…need to study this well to get mine looking better!

I have already chosen old soap powder adverts from the 1950s to frame and hang in the utility room.

So for pictures for the wall and ideas for the magazine, I would say We’ve got it covered!