Spring into action!

As Spring is almost here, Your Vintage Life has written a new article for Vintage Life magazine. It refers to the wartime campaign of “Make Do and Mend” and “Dig For Victory”, highlighting that this ethos is as relevent today as it was 65 years ago. Filled with ideas for Easter gifts and how to bring a little bit of colour into your life this sprintime…it is all you need to motivate you to Spring Into Action!

 Spring into Action 

“Make Do and Mend” was introduced during the Second World War, encouraging women to be thrifty, making the most of their limited housekeeping money. The campaign suggested ways of recycling clothing and textiles, re-knitting woollen clothes, making blouses from pillowcases and skirts from men’s trousers. They were also given tips on how to use less and save more.

 “Dig for Victory” was another campaign encouraging people to turn gardens into allotments to provide food for the family and the community. This would save money and ultimately free up valuable space on the merchant shipping convoys for war materials. Both campaigns became a way of life until the end of rationing in the 1950s.

Both are as relevant this springtime as they were 65 years ago. Spring is a time of hopeful new beginnings, with blossom covering the trees, daffodils in full bloom and the annual contemplation of de-cluttering the cupboards. Now is the perfect time to re-introduce the old campaigns, combining the recycling of vintage with the individuality of handmade and home grown.

Bring the outside inside

Enamel kitchenware has been around since the 1700’s but it wasn’t until the 1930s that it actually became fashionable. The pre-war housewife loved it for it’s easy to clean, non porous finish as well as it’s chic new look. As it came in a variety of bright colours such as terracotta, green, blue and white, always with an alternative coloured edging, she could really start to co-ordinate her kitchen for the first time. However, it’s popularity declined in the 1950s when the even easier to clean melamine was introduced.

Why not add a real home grown feel to your kitchen window sill this spring, by planting herbs and chillies in vintage enamelware? Jugs, flour jars and deep stew pots are perfect and by mixing up the colours your kitchen will have a brightness that will compliment all the flowering bulbs outside. 1950’s children made and grew an indoor garden; planting grass lawns and rockery flowers as well as making trees and benches from plasticine. Why not have a go, using a vintage enamel deep baking tray and watering regularly. Alternatively, pick bunches of home grown tulips with a vintage basket and display them in an enamel jug.

Introduce spring florals to your home

Vintage wallpaper is a great way to add nostalgia to your home as well as giving it a fresh new feel. Finding original wallpaper is not easy, however single rolls are out there to be found. Give a tired space a burst of spring energy by hanging pastel floral designed wallpaper on a feature wall. 1950’s homes were not shy of a pattern or two, with many enjoying clashing patterned walls and curtains within the same room! Don’t waste the offcuts though: wrap your favourite hardback books to protect them or to personalise a notebook for a gift this Mother’s Day. Once you have cleaned out your cupboards, why not paste eye catching wallpapers inside to offset your vintage china. It will bring a smile to your face every time you open them, long into the winter months.

Hand paint your eggs

Traditionally every Easter, children made hand crafted bonnets and decorated eggs. This year, surprise a loved one with a hand painted boiled egg in a vintage eggcup for breakfast. Lay a tray with your favourite teacups and hide the egg in a 1930’s Heatmaster egg warmer. Designed with a lid and inner felt jacket to keep it warm, this is the best vintage eggcup you will find. Imagine the smile on their face when they lift the top off! For a retro look use the Tupperware plastic version designed in the 1960s

Tea and chocolate

Supermarkets entice you to buy Easter eggs from Boxing Day but this year why not make your own chocolate treats. Home made truffles taste fantastic and make great gifts. Have a go at making them egg shaped…..it doesn’t matter if they are not perfect! Everyone will be so impressed that you spent time creating something, rather than just throwing a shop bought egg into your trolley. Personalise them even further by placing them in carefully chosen vintage treasures; a teacup, a jelly mould or a finger bowl champagne glass are all ideal. They will need to be eaten within 3 days, but the gift will last a lifetime.

We can learn a lot from the 1940’s creative thriftiness. Simple thoughtful pleasures of mending, recycling, growing, making and spending time rather than money, were the values of the day.

“Do Mend and Make” is our reworded campaign for 2011….be inventive with your home by reusing and mending vintage pieces then give them your own handmade individual twist. Just think of it as your own personal victory!


Caddy Magic!

Since we started selling in this amazing vintage world, we cannot quite believe what the most sought after product has been. We have had so many enquiries about the 1960’s Caddymatic. Now, how many of you have actually heard of such a thing?

It is a plastic tea dispenser that hangs on the wall in your kitchen. It could also be used for coffee, sugar…anything small that you need on a day to day basis. It is sprung loaded…the tea stays in the top half and is released when the button is pressed.

I think it looks like a rocket…very 1950s inspired but was mainly produced in the 1960s.

It was made by Arthur Douglas in England. Our blue one came in it’s original box!

They mainly came in blue, red or orange but I have seen brown ones before too. Some have the original sticker on the front.

They also came in a smaller size and were called Caddymatic Junior. This was perfect for a tiny space!

They are a great piece of collectable kitchenalia and are a must have for a retro home.

They are pure caddy magic!

Berry nice!

Here at Your Vintage Life we do love a cake! Not just eating them off beautiful cake stands…we also like to bake them in our vintage kitchen!

Today we made berry muffins with our little boy, Herbie. They were a great success so I’ll take you through the recipe (and share some of our vintage kitchen treasures).

First job was to get our vintage pinnies on! This is mummy’s pinny but Herbie wanted to wear it. We, of course, washed our hands!!

Then we went down the garden to pick some juicy autumn raspberries from our fruit bed.

Next, we stopped off at the “ladies”; our 6 chickens to see if they had laid  any eggs today. Thankfully they had and we carefully brought them back to the house and into the china chicken.

We checked we had all the rest of the ingredients:

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil


So, lets start mixing.

We use a 1950s Tala measuring cone and a Green’s grip stand mixing bowl.

The cone measures everything out in cup sizes…how it used to be done before grammes and kilos! This is so much easier….except when the recipe asks for grammes and I get a little stuck. So…I revert back to the retro 70s Salter orange scales that hang on the wall.

Little hands did the pouring and the mixing. He spent most of the time eating the raw ingredients: “I love flour mummy!”

I then remembered some blackberries left over from foraging that were in the freezer. I picked these in a park at the back of the village hall having visited an antiques fair there!

Bicarbonate of soda was added using our 1960s measuring spoons! The dry mixture was given a good stir and then we moved onto the wet ingredients. Mix in the eggs, the oil and milk and then we are ready for the fruit. At this point Herbie wanted to eat the berries. “I love blackberries mummy!” was shouted as little fingers kept picking them out of the bowl.

We poured the mixture into the muffin cases and went to make the topping.

This is a mixture of 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of plain flour and 40g of butter (measured in the Salter scales). Finally we added berries to the top. We made 15 muffins in total.

We set the Smiths kitchen timer (also orange!) for 20 minutes and wished the cakes “Good Luck” before they went into the oven (200 degrees) to rise.

Last job….of course is to eat them with a lovely cup of tea! Here, served on pretty pink Royal Winton china! We have a lovely 1 tier cake stand, small tea pot and a great tennis set. This is a plate with a space for a tea cup…tea and cake in the same hand…how very useful!

Berry nice!