Sunday 30 December 2018

Turn Off, Tune In, Drop Out - My Internet Free Week

How time flies! After publishing my last blog post on 23rd December I switched off my PC and it stayed off until last night when I needed to amend a booking for our forthcoming trip. I achieved so much in those seven internet-free days! While Jon painted the bedroom and built a new shower cubicle, I re-potted all our houseplants, made lemon verbena bath bombs, cleaned my jewellery, tackled the mending pile, restrung a couple of beaded necklaces, painted a fireplace, sorted out the kitchen cupboards, the freezer & our bookshelves and cracked on with my travel packing. We even came up with an itinerary for our first couple of weeks in India (virtually unheard of!) With the exception of Xmas Day, I was up and exercising by 7am, there's nothing like having an imminent date with a bikini to keep you on the straight and narrow over the festive season. still fits!

I even found the time to read three books. All three are worth a read but, as an espionage novel obsessive, my favourite was Charles Cumming's Trinity Six, a gripping thriller about a hard-up academic stumbling upon the Cold War's most closely guarded secret, the undiscovered sixth member of the infamous Cambridge Spy ring. I was especially excited to read a description of one of the women central to the plot as having long black hair, blue eyes, a silver ring on each finger and being a wearer of vintage dresses and platform shoes. Hmmm, have I ever met Charles Cumming?

I'm a Xmas jumper, glitter & sequin free zone! I wore a vintage Indian silk maxi dress I bought from eBay in October on Xmas Day.

We spent a wonderful few hours in Nessa's, our local Indian restaurant. I feasted on baby aubergine stuffed with a julienne of spiced vegetables and a duo of Romano peppers stuffed with masala cauliflower, the boys had a mixed meat platter starter and curried lamb shank, accompanied by steamed basmati rice and Bombay potatoes.

The food was so delicious and plentiful that neither of us ate another morsel until Boxing Day!

I'd lost my sewing mojo of late but, with no internet to distract me, I cranked up the sewing machine and got stuck in. When I originally made the bedroom curtains I'd lined them with fabric salvaged from another pair of curtains but over the years it had perished and the windows looked terrible when viewed from the outside so I took the curtains down & unpicked the lining. I love how the light shines through them now, they remind me of stained glass windows.

I made myself a new shopping bag from a 1970s curtain Jon had found in a charity shop a fortnight ago. And no, you don't need to tell me that your nan used to have those curtains, I've heard it a million times before....

I knocked up this off-the-shoulder top from a vintage cotton sari we'd found in a charity shop back in the summer. I made a couple of these tops a few years ago from a tutorial I'd found online but, in my desire to prove that I could live without the internet, relied on my memory and it didn't let me down. Both the top and my skirt will be travelling with me next week.

I made another bag using more of the sari - this will double up as both my hold luggage and a beach bag. I've cut the reminder of the fabric into squares for future patchwork projects.

We had to take a trip to B&Q (an out-of-town DIY superstore) on Friday as Jon had run out of paint and made a quick diversion into the charity shops on the way, after all, it had been over a week since we'd last set foot in one. Finds included a fantastic 1970s bubblegum pink belted wool coat, a gents' fake fur trimmed 1960s car coat, two 1970s ladies' velvet blazers and a boxy 1980s Indonesian batik jacket (all sadly too big). I did keep this crushed velvet scarf with a marabou feather trim as it matched the knitted dress I was wearing perfectly!

I'll be unplugging again shortly as we're off to a Desi pub for a curry and a few drinks with friends this afternoon. 


Jon's wearing his Xmas Levi's. He hasn't owned any new jeans for over a decade but we were both impressed when we researched their ethical policy  and decided they were worth the investment (although I did find a 50% discount code before I ordered them, making the purchase a little less painful!) Jon's also wearing a 1960s American prison jacket, one of a dozen bought from Wayne Hemingway at August's Classic Car Boot Sale, which we dyed, changed the buttons and pimped up with vintage patches. They proved so popular that he had to grab one before they all went. The Doc Martens were from a charity shop (£3!) and the block printed scarf was bought direct from the factory in Gujarat last January.

Talking of the Classic Car Boot Sale, look who's advertising the next one in April (details HERE)...little old me!!

Today I'm wearing my Shubette of London mythical beast print maxi (bought from another trader at Walthamstow's Pop-Up Vintage Fair in October), a 1960s gilt chain belt from a jumble sale and my 1970s purple suede platforms from a charity shop.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and see you in 2019 when - hopefully- I'll have finished my India packing and we might even have the bedroom completed.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Season's Greetings From Stockholm

We're not really spending the weekend in Sweden's capital, we've just temporarily decamped into my newest Lundby doll's house to escape the Xmas madness.

This model, known as Stockholm in Europe and Dallas in the USA, was launched in the mid-1970s. Mine dates from the early 1980s and has a removable front cover and, in-keeping with the aspirational Yuppie lifestyle of the time, the master bedroom has French windows leading out on to a balcony whilst there's a stable block in the basement for the wealthy Swedish family to keep their ponies. I found it on one of those local selling sites and it came full of furniture and dolls. Much of which wasn't to my taste (modern & plastic) so I stuck them on eBay and by the time the auctions had finished the house was virtually free. 

Yesterday, whilst most of Britain was out shopping, I rewired the house (that's the Lundby one, not Stonecroft) It was one hell of a fiddle but now everything from the ceiling lights, table lamps, kitchen units, fireplaces and even the aquarium glow. It's a joy to lie in bed and look at it - and it'll be even better once the bedroom walls are painted.

Like my other doll's houses, the Stockholm is furnished entirely from vintage furniture I've picked up from eBay or in charity shops along with a few pieces I've made myself. All the original wallpaper was in near-perfect condition so I left it alone as it seemed a shame to devalue it.

We're be back in the real world tomorrow - the painting begins first thing in the morning. We'll take a break on Xmas Day for The Dead Relatives Society festive curry lunch at the Indian restaurant down the road then it's back to the decorating on Boxing Day.

Wishing everyone who reads my blog a super cool Yule! Stay sane and see you on the other side. 
Lots of love from me, Jon, Stephen Squirrel and Frank. xxx

Wednesday 19 December 2018

DIY, Makeovers and Some Secondhand Finds

Remember the DIY project we had planned for the weekend? Here it is. We bought this 1930s bentwood armchair from a jumble sale six years ago and the cats had ragged it to buggery. A few hours with the staple gun and a pair of 1960s Jonelle Marrakesh screen printed curtains (from a charity shop) and this was the end result. The only trouble is that it's putting the rest of our bedroom to shame so we'll be redecorating over the next few days which, in our opinion, is far preferable to running round Xmas shopping or slumped in front of the telly guzzling chocolate and watching mawkishly sentimental tripe.

The collage above is my plan, let's see what happens!

WEARING: 1970s Hilary Floyd maxi dress (found by a friend at a car boot sale) and Mum's Biba dragonfly pendant.

Here's the chair in the cold light of day. This was taken on Monday morning and I'm dressed and about to set off into town with Jon and meet the boys (my brother, Marcus and Tony) for our annual all-dayer in Wetherspoons. So much for my boasts about being hangover-free after an eleven hour session on my birthday, I was completely ruined on Tuesday - that'll teach me for trying to keep up with the men! I didn't get dressed until lunchtime and that's only because I had a delivery scheduled for 1.30 and I didn't want to scare the poor driver.

WEARING: Vintage Anokhi dress (eBay), 1970s suede platforms (charity shop), 1950s St Michael navy cotton tie-neck blouse (nicked from the stockroom)

Here's what I wore today (Wednesday). I was wearing another of my charity shopped berets but hated how I looked in the photos Jon had taken but he needed to go out so I chopped my head off, stuck the offending beret back in the stock room and attempted to use the self-timer on my camera instead (that's my concentrating face below).

My velvet printed patchwork maxi dress is vintage (1980s?) Anokhi. It's velvet with a bit of stretch, there's no zip and it's made up of six panels. It's so comfortable to wear and must have cost a packet back in the day, just look at how the turquoise section snakes down the first in perfect synchronicity. 

Jon found the waistcoat in a charity shop this morning but it went so well with what I was wearing I kept it on. 

Here's a fairly recent find that I haven't shared on my blog, a vintage Phool block printed quilted jacket, something I've been after for my Indian adventures for ages. We'll be starting our journey in Delhi this time and the temperature isn't dissimilar to how it is here so, with a few layers underneath, I should be warm enough. There's no way I'm wearing a fleece and a puffa jacket, I'd rather freeze.

Vintage block printed quilted jackets generally sell on eBay for around £75 and I got this for a bargainous £7.50.... although Frank's not that impressed!

Something else I've been after for my travels is a pair of lightweight boots that are both easy on the feet and quick to slip on and off when I'm visiting temples and museums. Jon spotted these vintage Kurt Geiger cowboy boots in the charity clearance shop for £3. So far, so comfortable but I shall do a couple of walking trips into Walsall and back in them just to make sure. 

What was it I said about loathing visible logos? This antiqued leather bag was in the charity clearance shop last week for £1. I'd never heard of Rowallan before but a quick Goggle revealed them to be a fairly high-end Scottish company specialising in leather goods. The sturdy clasp, numerous zip fastening compartments and super long cross body strap should accommodate my camera and our Lonely Planet guidebook safely and securely. I can always wear it backwards.

There's been a circular-shaped gap on my bathroom wall ever since I moved one of my starburst clocks into the lounge, today's find - a gilt framed vintage mirror (£3) fills that hole perfectly!

Jon thought I'd taken leave of my senses when I dived head first into a bin full of Xmas decorations in the charity shop as, I'm sure any regular visitor will know, I'm about as into Christmas as I am bubonic plague. He didn't have to call the men in white coats though, I'd spotted this hand-painted Swedish Dala horse amongst the baubles. He was 50p - an amazing bargain when you see the retail price for the same 20cm model HERE.

Talking of Xmas (which I'd rather not!) if I hear Stop The sodding Cavalry played again I may no longer be responsible for my actions. Sticking to the Swedish theme I'll leave you with the best seasonal song ever by Swedish psych rock band, Goat. 'Let it Burn' was written specifically for the climatic scene in the short movie Killing Gävle, a The Guardian produced film about the famous Gävle Goat in Sweden which every year local custodians of Gävle try to protect a giant straw goat that is built for the town every Christmas being burnt down by mischievous pagans. 

 If you're into vintage Black Sabbath then you'll love this.

See you soon.

Friday 14 December 2018

The Wardrobe Evolution - Some Charity Shop Keepers

 I'm going old school and posting today's outfit. I've had to organise myself to do this - it's dark by half past three - winter isn't conducive to taking outfit photos in the daylight!

One of the things I love about charity shopping, aside from the thrill of the hunt, is that my wardrobe is constantly evolving. Yesterday I didn't leave the house with any intention of buying an electric blue beret or a 1970s knitted midi dress but, by chance, I happened upon both, liked them and - at 99p and £2.99 respectively - gambled on them looking okay when I tried them on at home. Of course, when you sell vintage for a living it's no hardship if things don't fit, you simply stick them in the stockroom and, if you like them then it's inevitable that you'll eventually meet someone else who does, too. 

Luckily for me I was happy with both!

Although it's not particularly flamboyant I loved this dress on sight and was thrilled to discover that it fitted - knitted dresses often look deceptively shapeless on the hanger. Hidden by my scarf, the bodice fastens with three covered buttons and the sleeves are pleasingly full without being a nightmare to get a coat on over the top. Annoyingly, the maker's label has been partially cut out. Along with Doc Marten boots, a black Kangol beret was a staple part of my wardrobe in the 1980s and although I always buy them when I find them, I automatically stick them in the stockroom - I hadn't considered keeping one for myself until I discovered this one in Barry M blue.

This 1950s leather overnight bag was from a jumble sale ages ago.

How fortuitous that my nails were already painted the same colour as the beret - good old Barry M Nail Paint, obviously! The Kashmiri papier mache bangles are charity-shopped, the mirrored ones came from a village in Gujarat.

The 1970s knitted tights were deadstock (ie., with the original labels still attached) and were in the 3 for £1 basket in the local hospice charity shop. The Topshop boots were 75% off in their sale earlier this year.

Helga sent me the vintage Tyrolean belt about seven years ago.

I found this 1960s Liberty silk scarf in a 99p basket of scarves in a vintage shop. I'm not a walking advertisement so I always make sure the Liberty logo is at the back of the scarf when I wear it.

Needless to say, I wore a coat on top of my new old dress when I left the house this morning - it's hideously cold out there today! 

If I can organise myself properly I'll try and photograph some more of our recent charity shop finds and hopefully a DIY project we've got planned for the weekend should be completed in time to share next week, too.

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.