Wednesday, 21 March 2018

What's Cooking? My Mini Kitchen Makeover

Wanna to see my kitchen? This is my latest mini make, like my real one HERE, its furnished entirely from inherited bits and pieces, other people's junk, hand-made stuff and lucky eBay finds.

Yes, I am well and truly obsessed with decorating my doll's house. It's taken me back to being twenty-four and owning my first house, a tiny end terrace so small I could pick up a tin of paint on the way back from work from the DIY clearance centre at the bottom of my road and redecorate a room in a couple of hours whenever the fancy took me.

Friends would pop round to discover that the colour scheme had completely changed from the week before or that I'd transformed the bed's headboard, Ottoman or a chair with a piece of fabric I'd found in a charity shop and my trusty staple gun.

In those days the cupboards were bare. Back in 1990 interest rates were sky high, I was living alone and in order to afford to pay my bills & mortgage I lived on a tight budget of £25 a week. I ate at work (working in corporate hospitality wasn't all bad), cut my own hair & bought all my clothes from jumble sales - just as I'd always done - and the rest went on socialising and tins of bargain paint. My thrifty ways paid off, I was mortgage free before I was 40. 

In my mini world I still don't spend any money on food - I Google free doll's house printables and fill my cupboards for free.

In my first house I went without a fridge, I became the proud owner of a second-hand one when I reached the age of 25! In my mini house I've made one from a broken 1950s sink unit that came from my Mum's doll's house and painted it with Barry M nail varnish. Like our real one the door's adorned with Polaroids of us at Glastonbury and in India.

There's loads of these 1970s Lundby cookers on eBay. I took my time and found one for a decent price. 

When I was a child I loved buying Lundby doll's house furniture. The houses were expensive but the bits and pieces to fill them with were pocket money prices. I'd already got Mum's furniture from her childhood so I mostly bought odds and ends. The saucepans, cutlery, toaster and the loaf of bread survived years of playing. I found a photo of a Taunton Vale chopping board, sized it down, printed it off and glued it to some cardboard salvaged from the recycle bin.

These chairs were pink last week - I haven't changed. Rose wine and Ritz crackers, aren't I sophisticated?

The tea towel is made of paper but with a few folds it looks like fabric. I managed to find the matching sink to last week's kitchen unit on eBay. I made the splash back and the shelves are lollipop sticks.

I helped myself to a sample of wallpaper from Wilko's. I could have used scaled down doll's house paper like I'd used for the rest of the house but quite liked the drama of the supersized retro print.

My reading material - a copy of the NME from 1967 with The Stones on the cover.

WEARING: Green bell sleeved top (retail sale, 2017), Vintage maxi skirt with floral trim (50p sale rail, AGE UK, yesterday), 1970s wooden pendant (Free from the hospice charity shop, the lady insisted I had it!)
I need to crack on with the outside restorations for Number 62, my latest house arrived this morning and I'm itching to get cracking on the next project. Addicted? Me? Absolutely!

See you soon.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Maximum City - 48 Hours In Mumbai

I was planning to write about our weekend of vintage selling but the weather put paid to that. Saturday's fair at Walthamstow (where the above photo was taken) was pretty good considering the hideous temperatures, incessant snow showers and the Met Office severe weather warnings but yesterday's fair at Moseley had to be postponed until April after most of us got up and discovered that we were snowed in. Come on Spring!

I thought I'd share a few photos from our trip to Mumbai instead, although India's heat and humidity seem but a dim and distant memory today. The sweat dribbling down my back and my hair clinging to my shoulders like seaweed is in stark contrast as I sit here with the wood burner crackling away  & looking out on a garden swathed in a blanket of white.

We stayed at Moti International, an elegantly crumbling, ramshackle Colonial-era family mansion a stone's throw from the Gateway of India which you may remember was our base a couple of years ago. Despite being in the heart of bustling Colaba, owner Mr Raj (who occupies the top two floors with his family) is a passionate gardener and his collection of lush potted palms helped filter out most of the traffic noise. Jon & I loved helping ourselves to an ice-cold Kingfisher from the communal fridge in the hallway and sitting on the marble steps, watching the madness of Mumbai unfold before our eyes.

We took a room on the first floor because Jon loved the drama of the rickety wooden staircase.

We'd spent the previous three weeks in Goa and only had a couple of days in Mumbai before our flight home but, as always, we managed to pack loads into those 48 hours. Our flight landed at 7am and, after a quick stop for a breakfast of Parsi-style scrambled eggs (with chilli and green mango), we headed to Sassoon Docks to watch the Marathi fishermen unloading the morning's catch from the boats. The women squatted on their haunches in circles, gossiping and tossing the freshly gutted fish into straw baskets whilst well-fed cats prowled around, feasting on fish guts and mewling for more. Because the area is a port, photography wasn't allowed but we did take the picture above - all that remained of a recent arts festival in the city.

Street cats! We're always amazed at how friendly and well-fed the moggies of Mumbai are. These boys were just a few of the cats hanging around Pasta Lane in Colaba.

The lovely thing about Mumbai is that despite the general chaos there's loads of green spaces where you can sit in peace. Elderly ladies resplendent in chiffon sarees and trainers do one hour circuits of this tiny square every morning.

After a few hours of aimlessly wandering we called into Kyani, one of the many Parsi food joints dotted around downtown Mumbai. We feasted on super spicy veg patties and sweet-salt lime sodas (spending the grand total of £1.50) before continuing on our way.

We continued on to Kala Ghoda, the epicentre of Mumbai's hip and happening arts scene as well as a great place to shop. We're big fans of Cotton Cottage, a shop that specialises in hand-made, block printed, Indian cotton clothes - there's also a couple of branches in Goa. There's often a sale at this time of year so Jon stocked up on granddad shirts and I bought a couple of maxi length wrap-around skirts (we're wearing our buys in the Moti collage). New to Mumbai this year was a massive Zara although I did wonder about the logic of displaying a beige wool cape in the window when it was nudging 36° and I don't think I've ever seen an Indian woman dressed in beige.

I loved the albums covers on display at the second-hand vinyl stall. Sadly the proprietor was nowhere to be seen (probably off feeding the cats like most of the other market traders) so we left empty handed.

After a quick shower back at Moti we rushed down to the Taj with the rest of Mumbai to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Sea before beers and dinner at one of the swanky bars on Marine Drive.

We'd booked the Dharavi slum tour for the afternoon of the following day so after a breakfast of upma (a dry-roasted savoury semolina porridge) & masala chai in a tiny hole in the wall food joint on Colaba Causeway we set off to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or, as most Mumbaikers still call it, The Prince Of Wales Museum.

We queued behind this adorable group. How on earth do Indian schoolchildren always manage to look so immaculate?

Built in the Indo-Sarenic style by George Wittet in 1904 to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, the museum is set in the verdant Victoria Gardens and houses over 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from all over the world, categorised into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History.

We loved the thought-provoking displays created by local schoolchildren from waste materials.

The sheer amount of stuff on display was overwhelming. I took loads more photos - which I've shared HERE.

The antique textiles were particularly fabulous.

The image below is possibly one of the best vintage clothing labels I've ever seen!

 After lunch in Churchill's, a favourite Parsi cafe of ours on Colaba Causeway, we dashed back to Moti for a quick change before racing off to Churchgate Station in time to meet the Reality Tour guide and the other tourists. (Read more about our slum tour HERE).

 Before dinner that night we browsed the stalls thronging the pavements of Colaba Causeway as I needed to stock up on leather chappals (I ended up buying three pairs for £10 - I haggled hard) and also snaffled the dress in the photo above from a little boutique which I thought would be ideal for our next trip to India. It was a fixed price shop and cost 700 rupees (around £7.60).

When I was rummaging around a dusty tailor's shop in Goa I found the remains of a bolt of block-printed homespun cotton. The shopkeeper called it "old fashioned" and tried to get me to chose a polka dot polyester, very popular in your country. I explained that I was an old-fashioned girl and handed over the kimono-sleeve dress I wore in most of my Gujarat photos to copy. Twenty-four hours later and at a cost of £15 this dress was mine.

The uber cool Bombay Vintage was the location for our last dinner in India. The food was excellent, the beer  plentiful and a lot of the accompanying 1960s Bollywood filmi soundtrack was just our thing. 

Mumbai, we love you, we can't wait to see you again!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Charity Shopping & Mini Makes

Look! I'm finally out of the doll's house and back to full-size. Here in the real world, life continues as usual. We've been out and about vintage hunting so the washing machine is on overdrive and I'm back to mending like a maniac. In vehicle news Jon's trusty mechanic managed to weld the undercarriage back on to the van (that's the works van - Gilbert is enjoying his annual winter break) so the need to replace it isn't quite so urgent.

You'll be pleased to hear that I've been wearing clothes. Today's outfit is a '70s cotton maxi by Gerard of Paris - it's been on the rails in the stockroom for ages as no-one but me can get the zip up, I think that's a sign from the vintage selling gods telling me that I have to keep it. The maxi coat was a £2 bargain - not the greatest quality but the colour, described as freesia, makes me very happy. The brass necklace is made by a hill tribe in Orissa (another Indian state on my must-visit list) but bought in Tamil Nadu. The papier mache bangles are Kashmiri but found in Black Country chazzas. The 1950s beach bag came from a car boot sale years ago and cost me 20p.

Monday's outfit consisted of a British-made maxi dress I bought new (!) in the dregs of the winter sales for £2. As it's so low cut, I stuck an emerald green charity shopped swimsuit underneath to preserve my modesty. The Welsh wool cape last made an appearance on the blog before we went to India. 

I picked up this super funky denim jacket for £2 in the charity clearance shop on Wednesday. Labelled Marguerite Thursby, a bit of internet research revealed that she was one of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong's leading dressmakers of the 1970s, her clothes were worn by, amongst others, the then governor's wife, Lady MacLehose. I'm wearing it was my beloved slinky psych maxi I bought from eBay for 99p years ago - at £2.99 this got to be one of my cheapest outfits.

I nearly walked past it - I find the charity shops that colour co-ordinate their stock an absolute nightmare to shop in - but the zips caught my eye. Nothing says 1970s more than a big white plastic zip. 

If the weather forecast is to be believed we're in for more snow this weekend so finding this Missoni wool scarf in another clearance charity shop couldn't have come at a better time - although Jon's claiming finder's rights to it. 

Swedish Hasbeens for £1.99 in Banardos? Don't mind if I do. Roll on Summer!

I'd show you our latest finds but they're already packed for this weekend's back-to-back vintage selling extravaganza, which kicks off with Walthamstow tomorrow (details HERE) followed by Moseley on Sunday (details HERE). 

It's not often I come across 1950s dresses in such pristine condition (two are by Horrockses) so I did photograph these beauties the minute I got them home. I'll be taking them along with us at the weekend. 

Meanwhile, back in the world of miniatures, here's my new sewing space. The cupboard is made from matchboxes, dressmaking pins and beads and covered in a photo of our curtains. The Picasso is from a 1970s necklace and the patterns are photocopies of some of my stash, scaled down and printed off. The ferns came from a plastic palm tree I found in a 20p charity shop rummage box. The metal sewing machine was £1.75 from eBay.

The kitchen is coming together. I won these 1970s Lundby cupboards on eBay for £2.19. I found pictures of the original kitchen set they came from and printed off an imagine of the splash back onto glossy photo paper, glued it to heavy duty card and then attached both cupboards.

The flooring has the same black and white quarry tiles in our real-life kitchen and also, just like Stonecroft, no.62 has patchwork curtains.

I'm having so much fun playing with miniatures I've just gone and bought another doll's house! Pictures to follow shortly.

See you soon!