Saturday, 30 April 2011

save the children super-sale, recent thrifty finds and an eco-friendly dinner

A couple of weekends ago (I am SERIOUSLY behind on my blog posts - I've got an exhibition review from about two weeks ago waiting to be written up as well... sigh...), I had decided that a good place to start with my new cleaner-greener-living would be the way we buy our food each week. Living outside of London, and in a small South Coast town quite a way away from any services of any ecological value, means that popping down to the whole-food shop on the corner isn't an option - because there simply isn't one. I thought about going to the local farm shop, but although we're technically in farm country down here in Hampshire, we're still a good forty minute drive from any farm shops - which then leads to the question of whether it's counter-productive to use a shed-load of petrol and bump up our carbon footprint just to get to some vegetables that are grown locally. In the end, we decided to go to our closest farmers market (Petersfield - about fifteen minutes away by car), as a happy compromise, where we would buy anything grown locally, and then get the rest from Asda (I know, boo hiss, but eco-living is all about compromise, and doing your best to make a difference....). As we drove into Petersfield (after passing the most amazing looking field of rapeseed), strapped to the roundabout was a humungous sign informing us that the Festival Hall was hosting a Save the Children half price sale for three days only - I was so excited, I practically grabbed the steering wheel and drove us there myself.

I am a complete charity shop addict, and very rarely buy any new clothes, and am also building a collection to start a vintage and pre-loved online shop (more details coming soon, procrastination is another hobby...), so this was like a designer-addict seeing a sign for a Chanel sample sale. Entry was free, and walking into the main room was like walking into the biggest charity shop you can ever imagine. Rows and rows of rails, separated first into sex, and then into garment style and size - I felt like a child in a sweet shop, spoilt for choice and not really sure where to begin.I came away with the cream of the crop, or so I thought - a couple of dresses, a shirt for the Husband, some shorts, a blouse with the most wonderful cutout lace collar, and probably the most amazing hat I have ever, ever seen...

I haven't got the foggiest how to date vintage items (which is why I've decided to sell on eBay rather than Etsy to begin with - I'm pretty sure everything I buy to sell is more than twenty years old, but I wouldn't like to make claims that I can't prove), but I know this is a felt opera hat, because it was written on the label - the same label that told me it was £4, meaning that it was actually £2 that day. £2 for the greatest hat I have ever, ever seen. Happy days indeed. 

The thrifting Gods have been pretty kind to me lately - I've now got so many clothes that we've had to attach a curtain pole to the wall in our bedroom so I have somewhere to keep the overflow. I suggested a couple of freestanding clothes rails in the lounge, but the Husband didn't seem too keen on the idea, so our bedroom now looks like some sort of explosion in a charity shop. The other day, while trying to battle his way through four dresses, two blouses and a pair of shorts just to find the handle of the door they were all hanging on, the Husband swore loudly and declared that it was 'like living in a boutique'. I haven't got round to photographing all of my latest finds, but here are a few of them to feast your eyes on....

The scarves, belt and floral maxi skirt are all vintage, and all not for sale - the shirt with the embroidery will end up in the shop, however, probably around the £7.00 mark. The floral peter-pan collar tunic is from eBay, and is originally from River Island - I'm not one of those people who 'only wears vintage' - my main aim is to reduce the need for new clothes to be manufactured, and to show people how they can make the best of what has already been produced. That's the other main reason why I can't sell on Etsy - many things will be simply 'pre-loved', rather than vintage.

After a pretty long detour, we did actually make it to the farmers market - and I got some locally grown potatoes (with the mud still on them - wonderful!) and carrots, and a couple of sweet potatoes. We then bought some courgettes, peppers and mushrooms from our local greengrocer (I had completely forgotten about it until I wandered past on my way to yet another charity shop!), and some brocolli, baby corn and beans from Asda (booooo). The greengrocer also had a special offer on raspberries and strawberries (British grown), so we snapped some of those up too. The best dinner of the week was a vegetable curry cooked in the slow-cooker (nothing fancy - two jars of Sharwoods, some stock mixed with curry powder, a tin of tomatoes and a ton of vegetables), followed my strawberries and raspberries with ice cream.

The best thing about the fruit (other than the taste, of course) was that it came packed in recyclable plastic tubs - not quite guilt free, but better than the supermarket packaging with plastic film lids.

PS - If you have any good veggie curry recipes, do leave one in the comment section - I don't always see myself using jars of ready-made sauce!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

sneaky peek

The Owl and the Accordion coming soon to an Etsy near you..... expect vintage treasures, handmade beauties and lovely prints. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

j'adore ma maman

My Mum is the stuff legends are made of - I could write an entire post on all of the wonderful things she does for us and the Boy, but that would be a) not very interesting for you and b) an incredible time consumer, so you'll just have to take my word for it that she's pure gold.

The latest example of her magnificence came about a couple of weeks ago, when we were doing the rounds of the charity shops (I'm collecting vintage and retro clothes and homewares to sell in a coming-soon shop), and I laid eyes on the most amazing dining table and chairs that I've ever seen. Solid wood, made in Romania, intricately carved wondrous-ness, for £50 in our local Barnardos furniture shop. I stroked it, and sighed over it, and sat on the chairs for a bit, then admitted defeat (we didn't have £50 for my dental check-up, let alone a new table and chairs) and got up to leave. My Mum looked at me and said, "do you want it?" I just stared at her for a bit and she laughed and said, "it can be your Easter present. Your other one is in a terrible state!" (We got our horrible, Argos-generic pine table and chairs from a friend for £20 when we moved in together years ago - the table was wobbly and the legs on the chairs tended to pop out randomly, meaning you're just as likely to end up on your arse on the floor as you are on the chair when you sit down.) I gawped at her for a bit, then did a little dance and ran off to pay. This post is dedicated to my lovely, lovely Mum and my beautiful new table and chairs.


Saturday, 23 April 2011

balcony time

What better way to spend the glorious sunny days than on the balcony with a coffee, a good book, one Boy, a homemade tent and a few seeds and bags of compost?

I've had my seeds for this year sitting on the side in the kitchen for a few weeks now, and have been waiting for some really good weather (and some free time) to spend a morning sowing and watering - in a previous post I talked about last years sad attempts to grow a ridiculous amount of vegetables in a teeny tiny, barely lit space. The whole thing was a massive Fail, with a capital F, so this year I'm concentrating on a few herbs and some lovely flowers, and not a lot else. Maybe some tomatoes. Maybe. I love that the Boy is now old enough to help with the planting without a) eating the compost and b) throwing the seeds around haphazardly. He's not quite old enough to understand the whole growing process, but I'm hoping that by the time he's watered, and monitored, and picked and thinned with me, he'll have some sort of realisation of what exactly is going on. And if he doesn't, we will have had a rather marvelous time in the sunshine together - what better way to spend an afternoon or two?
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