Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Let´s talk about books! - a Q&A

 (Look, it´s a post! Can you believe it? And it only took me about 1 month to write.)

I found the questions about reading habits on lovely Jessica´s Chronically Vintage, very much enjoyed her responses and wanted to answer them myself. While I don´t find as much time for reading as I´d like to right now, there was a time when I very much prefered books over people. The number of books we (as the Mr. is a fellow bookworm), own is insane and there´s always coming more. My love for literature runs in the family, I´d even go so far to say that I come from a family of book hoarders!
 You now have the chance to learn everything about my relationship with books. I for my part learned that I can get really emotional about literature. Maybe it shows ;)

Do you snack while you read? If so, what is your favourite reading snack?
I rarely do. Not because I don´t like to, I just forget that there´s food around. But when I do it´s probably chocolate or cookies. Sometimes, in the warmer months, an apple will do.

What is your favourite drink while reading?
I´m a milkaholic, so basically milk is my favorite drink for everything! But as I can´t drink milk all day I often choose water or, in winter, a nice big cup of tea.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
For me that´s a big no-no. My parents taught little me that "you don´t draw into books!" and it stuck with me. Making light notes with a pencil was the maximum for me in school and nowadays I refuse to do any writing in books at all. I rather make notes on a separate sheet of paper. On the other hand I always find it charming when I find handwritten notes in old books. I own one in which someone made notes about the pronounciation of french names and it´s hilarious.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmarks, definately bookmarks. Most of my books look like they were never read and I always get upset when they show any signs of use. I don´t even know why, I guess I just love the perfection of a fresh out of the press book. But again, on the other hand I love old books that show their age. When the paper has become really soft, the corners are rounded and somebody accidentally left a fingerprint. 19th century and early 20th century books have a very special paper quality that feels so nice between the fingers.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
Both. Many of my favorite books are fictional stories with a historic background. The combination of entertainment and learning by reading is great and I love to dive into the life of centuries gone by. One of my biggest pet peeves on the other hand is badly researched historic fiction. It´s driving me mad. The german book market (like many others, I guess) is flooded with terrible historic novels aimed at women where the hero is ALWAYS a pretty young female and there is always some sort of love issue and she always has to be all modern and liberated and it´s all ridiculously unrealistic. Don´t get me wrong, I´m all about liberated women, there have always been some, and I don´t mind if there is some romance in a story, but it´s a pain in the butt to find something beyond the clichée because historic love drama sells like sliced bread.
Once in a while I also stumble upon an interesting biography. And of course, due to my job, I also have a little selection of books about design, art and illustration that I browse for inspiration.

Are you the kind of person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
I can stop anywhere without a problem. I´d be in big trouble if I couldn´t. Have you seen how long chapters can be sometimes??

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
Nope. I´ll just assume that the author might have had a reason and that the explanation will follow. I once wanted to burn a book throw a book across the room because I had to realize that the author had copied whole passages from a nonfiction book about life in medieval Cologne for his novel. Doing research is fantastic, but copying complete scenes? You poor little man.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Sometimes I do, but mostly I hope that the context will help me out. I´m just so lazy.

What are you currently reading?
Right now I´m reading "Sanson's memoirs" by Charles-Henri Sanson, the memories of the Sanson family who, for generations, were the hangmen of Paris. History, murder, intrigues, yes!
I´m also reading Tove Janssons Moomin adventures to little M as a bedtime story. I haven´t read it before but really enjoy it. The characters are all a bit grumpy it seems, that´s a nice change!


What is the last book you bought?
That´s a tough one. I actually have no idea. I did buy a book with bedtime stories some months ago, I remember that, and I´m pretty sure I bought something for myself after that, but what? I also downloaded some free classics to my phone - Shakespeare, Dumas, Goethe - so I´ll just take that as my answer ;)

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
At one point, as a teenager, I decided that it would be better for me to read one book at a time. I tend to mix up characters and storylines and that´s not a good thing because I sometimes had to re-read whole chapters or even the whole book. Also, if I´m reading one book and want to read another one it just motivates me to read faster.


Do you have a favourite time/place to read?
Reading in the garden or on the balcony is my favorite. That only works during the warmer months of course, but I LOVE when the sun warms my skin while I´m reading. On the other hand I also like to cuddle myself into the sofa in winter, when all the small lights of christmas decorations and candles give a cosy feeling, a warm blanket covering my legs. Mmmh, it´s nearly that time of year again.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?
It really depends on the story. Sometimes a story is told in one book and it should be left at that. Other times I finish a book and am so happy that there will be more. For example the Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud had to consist of several books to show how the characters develop over the years. I´m not sure if the prequel really was necessary but it was a fun read. And then there are those books whose characters you love, about whom you want to read so much more, but there is only that one book. Those are the sad moments of reading.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
I hardly ever get asked to recommend a book but if somebody wants to hear my opinion I pretty much always mention "All quiet on the western front" by Erich Maria Remarque. It´s a brilliant book and still so terribly relevant. One of the few books I re-read several times. We had to read it in class when I was around 15 and it was literally the only "forced" read I enjoyed. (Since then I re-read several of the classics I had to read in school and was surprised that many of them actually aren´t as bad as they felt back then.). Other recommendations would be the above mentioned Bartimaeus Sequence or anything Raymond Chandler for a relaxed read, Dumas' "The three musketeers" just because it´s my favorite book ever, Frank McCourt's "Angela's ashes", Vikram Seth's "Two lives" as well as "Baudolino" and "The name of the rose" by Umberto Eco, both amazing historic novels.


How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author's last name, etc.)  
I organize by genre. Novels and stories are also organized alphabetically by the author´s last name. It´s all rather similar to a library system and the only things as organized as my books are my vintage magazines and my CDs. I also have a special corner where I put the "what to read next"-books so I don´t have to browse through the whole collection every time I´m looking for something to read.


Do you have any book recommendations? Are you reading a book at the moment?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Getrödelt, Gefunden, Gefreut: September

Hello and welcome to a new month of thrifted-goods-sharing! (I actually started writing this post for last months GGG but little M got her first tooth and it haven´t been weeks of unicorns and rainbows!)
I have to stretch the GGG rules a bit because the vintage piece I want to show today has been in our possession for 2 years already. But the story behind it is just to good to not share. The story also includes the whole furniture for a bedroom, of which we own some pieces, too, but I want to focus on this piece of furniture for now.

In 1945 the appartment of the Mr.s great-grandmother, a professional seamstress, was bombed out. Rumor has it that she lost everything but her sewing machine that was rescued from the ruins by an american soldier (movie material!). So, basically, she had no furniture. And off to the black market she was. She got all those cupboards AND her complete bedroom furniture for, hold your hats, two cartons of cigarettes. How crazy is that? Naturally it has some flaws due to its age but also due to material weakness. Iron screws were obviously hard to get in 1945 (as was pretty much everything) so the maker went with brass screws that are rather soft and lose their shape easily. Building this thing up wasn´t easy. And as you can see in the first picture we have to replace one of the glass panels.

When I first met the Mr.s great-grandmother, a wonderful little lady (little M got her middle name from her), she was already in her mid-90s. And when I first entered her living room it was love at first sight. The rounded corner? Oh my, so cool. And the glass sliding doors reminded me of a little cupboard my grandparents had owned and that I  loved when I was a kid. When she passed away two years ago I couldn´t stand the thought of her beautiful furniture becoming firewood. At that time we were still living in a tiny appartment with absolutely no room for anything. So what should we do? We had to make a very quick decision and ended up storing everything in the cellar of somebody my in-laws know. Last year we moved and had the perfect corner for our inherited furniture. Although I have to admit that it looked better in the old ladies small, cosy, all white and pale appartment.

The best thing about it? It hides so much of our mess. And it gives us the possibility to display things without having to dust everything off every week. It´s also pretty childproof as even I have a hard time opening the doors without the keys ;) And there´s lots of room for plants.

You might want to take a look at what others have found last month.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

June in purchases

In June I got 5 Beyer knitting magazines for 2 € each, dress clips (that are missing some of the stones, which wasn´t mentioned by the seller, but I don´t complain. They are soooo pretty and shiny :)) for 9 € and old photos. Lots of old photos. I got one album in the first auction and a big lot of pictures in the second. The album is okay, nothing that makes me scream Hooray, but the box of pictures was full of little treasures that made me a veeeery happy girl. Just look at the cabinet cards! I actually didn´t know exactly what I was bidding on, both auctions had nearly no pictures. Same goes for the magazines, I´m only keeping them because they feature nice clothing for little M.
All in all I didn´t even spend 40 €, I think. In my book that´s a success.

How do you handle badly described ebay items? I didn´t rate the seller yet as I have no idea what to write.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I´m a mermaid!

I finally came around to dyeing my hair again. After all it had been more than one year as I chickened away from bleaching during pregnancy. My hair was looking horrible. "I don´t care if it´s 30 °C, I´ll wear that hat" horrible. Now at least my hair looks fabulous while the rest of my face sings the song of sleep deprivation ;)

(It´s hard to tell from the picture, the top layer is turquoise, the bottom is green. My two favorites!)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getrödelt, Gefunden, Gefreut: June 2014

As we didn´t make it to any flea market yet I want to share with you something I won on ebay last month for 8.80 € (Hey, big spender!). It´s a pattern catalogue for, again, SOGRA patterns dating from 1940. The catalogue came with a pattern sheet for 16 of the shown outfits - which of course was the main reason for me to buy it.
I have to say that I was slightly surprised by how prices for pattern magazines have developed during my absence from ebay. I had always considered them to be rather high but lately they have become just a little bit ridiculous. I think I might need a safe for my collection! (Of course they are still cheap compared to some of the american mail order patterns I see online.)

Without further words, enjoy 1940s latest fashion :)

And as always, check out what the other Trödlers have found.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fräulein M

from my own collection

Look who found a minute for blogging! Life has been busy, I can tell you. 4 days after my last post little Miss M* finally arrived around lunchtime. Until then the words "induced labour" were spoken more than once but in the end everything happened naturally. I promised not to talk about baby stuff too much, so I won´t go into detail. I just want to mention that I had a rather relaxed, luckily unmedicated birth, not even 12 hours of labour and that everything they tell you about that moment when you see your baby for the first time is absolutely true. You instantly forget that you were in horrible pain just minutes ago. And no matter what your little human being looks like, it´s the cutest thing ever. Hormones are a crazy thing!

Our first month with the little one was "challenging", to say the least. If she wasn´t sleeping she was screaming and nothing could calm her down. And after four weeks we found out that nursing just didn´t make her full. Not even a little bit. She´s now bottle-fed and a happy happy baby with the brightest, cutest smile. We call her the very hungry caterpillar.

At the moment I can´t say when I´ll be back to blogging more frequently but I´ll try to share a magazine or a DIY project once in a while. And while mentioning DIY, I had talked about that 1940s maternity dress in my last post, right? Well, I didn´t finish it. Of course. But the other day I stumbled upon a wonderful little blog called Betsy´s Baby where you can see more than just one cute maternity dress made from vintage patterns and worn by an actual expecting lady.

Until I have to offer some real content I´ll leave you with this picture of a fabulous toddler :). Read you soon, ladies!

from my own collection

*Fräulein M shares her name with that one famous german actress of the golden era. You know which one ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Killing time

Well, it´s been some time! I´ve been on maternity leave for more than 6 weeks now and for nearly 2 of them (right after my maternity wear post) I couldn´t do anything at all. Sitting, walking, standing, moving in general, everything hurt as hell due to the little ones position at that time. That was the first time I really desperately waited for the end of this pregnancy. And I´m still waiting - not as desperate anymore, though, as the pain has pretty much gone. Now I´m just impatient. Little Miss M´s due date was last friday but it seems like she´s not ready yet. We spent quite some time at the hospital over the last days to have her checked. Everything seems alright so they gave us some more days before she will get kicked out. I´m trying to keep myself entertained a little longer, hoping that she won´t need a special invitation by the doctors.
What I´ve been doing so far? Let´s see:

1. Knit a little blanket for Miss M. I had wanted to add some red crabs in duplicate stitch on the white stripe but had to realize that the back will look terribly messy if I do so. Maybe I can come up with a solution later...

2. Started knitting a summer sweater for myself. Just because. And I´m making surprisingly good progress with it, considering my snail like tempo.

3. Read. A lot. And it´s mostly short murder stories and I don´t know why. That Caravaggio novel was quite the crap, by the way.

4. Went crazy on pinterest, planning my potential summer wardrobe, DIYs for the little one and apartment decorations.

I have a pattern very similar to this. Source

5. Lived in the bath tub.

Yep, just like that. Source

6. Tried to sew that 1940s maternity dress. I´m now convinced that there´s a mistake in the instructions or the pattern pieces. It just doesnt´work. Nope, sorry.


7. Enjoyed the first days of spring. I actually went outside for this and even climbed some hills. Didn´t help getting labour started as I had hoped, though.

And that´s life right now. I really hope the little one won´t wait another 6 days as I´m afraid our couch can´t handle my butt much longer ;)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vintage maternity wear

First of all thank you ladies for your wonderful comments on my latest posts, they are much appreciated, even though I didn´t manage to answer them! Still so much to organize and so little time left. But let´s talk about clothes! 

I have to confess: I love my maternity jeans. And I love stretchy shirts, because I didn´t have to buy ridiculously expensive maternity shirts. Seriously, the prices for some of the average looking maternity wear are shocking and the styles are usually horrible. Considering that I won´t wear these clothes for more than maybe 6 or 7 months depending on my recovery I wasn´t willing to waste money on it. Over the last months, when the belly became to large to fit any of my dresses, I´ve been living in the 2 pairs of maternity jeans I bought and all kinds of shirts, tops and cardigans that were already part of my wardrobe. And not to forget that fantastic H&M retro jacket I blogged about last winter that still fits (if I don´t close the second button...) and adds at least a little touch of vintage charme to my wardrobe.

But what did women do in the days of non-elastic fabrics? The answer is quite simple: Belts, push buttons, loose stitches, high waists, fabric inserts and/or lots of fabric, all depending on the decades fashion. Not to forget the huge belly holes in skirts and pants! And while I found a number of english examples labeled as "maternity", german patterns liked to talk about "adjustable" dresses or dresses "for young women"exclusively before the 1950s. Don´t you dare talking about pregnancy!

So, let´s take a look at 5 decades of maternity fashion, shall we?

1920s. source
1936. Source
1939. Source
1939. Source
Praktische Damen- und Kindermode 10/1942
Praktische Damen- und Kindermode 12/1941
Praktische Damen- und Kindermode 12/1941
Praktische Damen- und Kindermode, 1940s
1940s. Source
1940s. Source
1940s. Source
1940s. Source
Der neue Schnitt 4/1952
Der neue Schnitt 4/1952
1950s. Source
1950s. Source
1950s. Source
Neuer Schnitt 8/1959
1961. Source
1960s. Source
1960s. Source
1960s. Source
Pramo 12/1977
Pramo 12/1977

You might have noticed that while some of these outfits are quite cute or elegant, others will make you look like a walking tent, especially in your third trimester when that belly really starts to get huge. Defining a new waistline seems to have stopped in the 20s (when it dropped below the belly) and only came back in style somewhere in the 60s. Another thing you might have noticed: Before the late '50s none of the pictures show an actual pregnant looking woman (and we can still argue whether these other women really do look pregnant). I assume that it´s because of the not so appealing tent-ness of most dresses and the fact that the first rule of pregnancy-club was "Don´t talk about pregnancy-club!"All these '30s to '50s dresses might look nice when worn in an early stage of pregnancy, but I have some serious doubts about their look when you start to smuggle medicineballs. Pictures of pregnant women of that time are rare and many of them left me with mixed feelings. Maybe, if my sewing machine decides to cooperate within the next 4 weeks (Woah, only 4 weeks left!), I will be able to give a review and pictures of a 1940s pattern all sewn up and worn. We´ll see.

What do you think? Does vintage maternity wear deserve a "Yeah!" or rather an "Ewww!"?