Tuesday, 31 January 2012

a room of one's own

(Click on images for links)

This week, I've been mostly buying vintage lovelies for baby Owl, painting the bathroom, and spending hours on Pinterest trying to get inspiration for finishing off the Boy's room. I really want to use recycled furniture if possible; on the list is a new large wardrobe, crates for his toys, cubes to mount on the walls for his books and games, and a few more nick nacks and prints. I also love the idea of using unconventional, retro wire baskets, like the one in the last picture (above) and am even thinking of turning an old chest into a play kitchen....

(Click on images for links)

Sorry for the super short post - bed is calling, and the Boy still has a love of early rising, no matter how much tired Mama protests!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

since we last met










One, two: Finding the best crochet blanket for pennies in a charity shop. Three, four: Visiting our favourite vintage and homewares shops. Five, six: Stuffing ourselves with homemade cakes. Nom. Seven: Receiving exciting things in the mail. Eight: Starting the pre-wear wash for teeny-person clothes. Nine, ten: crafting my socks off.

I've also been: writing, discovering that vegetable box schemes are just too pricey for us, getting kicked in the ribs, enjoying pizzas and pasta, shopping up a post-pregnancy storm (ahhh, hello vintage, my old friend), hunting out retro baby clothes, finding vintage sheets ready for chopping, having my heart melted by the Boy who talks to the baby ALL the time, and moaning. A lot. Pregnancy and me do not get on, we are not friends. I cannot wait for the littlest Owl to arrive, so I can kiss her soft cheeks and introduce her to her big brother. Nine weeks to go.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


Lately, I look a bit like this:

Actually, this was taken at twenty-eight weeks - I'm thirty now, and it's taken me that long to be able to waddle my way to the laptop to write another post. I'm currently feeling pretty huffy, thanks to a severe bout of anaemia, and a lack of anything half decent to wear - this explains my "just-hurry-up-and-take-the-picture" face above. My jeans, bless them, refuse to fasten under the strain now (they've done pretty well under the circumstances), and just leaving the top button undone isn't an option any more. I've searched high and low for vintage-esque tunics, but everything seems to be tailored to the waist - my favourite type of dress has become my nemesis. Sigh.

The Boy currently looks a bit like this:

He started pre-school a couple of weeks ago, and so far, touch wood, seems to be thoroughly enjoying it. On his first day, he ran in without a backward glance, and the only tears streaming down any cheeks were mine. Ahem. 

On a completely different note, aside from frantic baby preparations (cloth nappies: check. Vintage sheets to use in the cot: check. Bibs sewn and crocheted: check (well, almost). Buggy chosen: ask me again in a week....), I've been sticking quite well to one of my main resolutions - to craft more. The television, although still on most evenings, has been tuned to Radio 4, or Location, Location, and has mostly been background noise to the whirr of the sewing machine, or the snipping of scissors. 
Firstly, I managed to finish a patchwork wall-hanging that I started for the Boy when he was born. Three years ago. It actually only took two evenings in the end, and goes to show that procrastination really is a killer of creativity. 

It's really nothing fantastically technical, and isn't actually even quilted (once I had all the squares sewn together, I couldn't bare the thought of trying to quilt it, and the whole lot just going terribly wrong, so I completely bottled out and just stitched a back on!) - if you look closely you can see that some of the squares  don't actually match up exactly, oh dear! Still, the Boy was absolutely over the moon with it, and I managed to time it so that it went up on the same day that we took the sides off of his cot. He is now the proud owner of one 'big boy bed', complete with animal wall hanging - I do want to get some vegetable crates (or something similar - is that a cliche now? Probably, never mind!) to attach to the wall to hold his toys and books, but for now, his room is looking pretty sweet.

My second crafty achievements were related to my wonderful Mum's birthday - I'm a big fan of handmade gifts, I just think they're so much more personal and lovely. Mum and I both absolutely love hyacinths, so I bought some from a local market, re-potted them in charity-shop found earthenware pots, and decided they needed a little something extra. About a year or so ago, I bought some lovely printed scrapbook paper in Hobbycraft, purely on a whim, and had been saving it for the ideal project - which had never appeared. I considered making some miniature paper bunting, but wasn't sure how it would stand up against the attack of the watering can, so decided to do something similar but on a smaller scale...

Little paper flags! Far sturdier, and easily removed for watering, brilliant! I also crocheted her a small scented bag, filled with dried lavender from a bag she bought me when we went to a local lavender farm last year - technically, this was the Boy's present to her, and was accompanied by a framed photograph I'd taken of him amongst the fields....

There were also several bunches of flowers, a DVD and some other little bits and pieces - I'm pleased to report that she loved them all. Hurrah for handmade, and hurrah for stomping on procrastination!

Friday, 13 January 2012

ethical wonder brand: scaramanga

As much as I love a good vintage bag, mine seems to be coming to the end of its life, and for a while I've been debating on something that's a little bit more like a satchel. I've wanted one for a while now, and while they seem to be ten a penny on the high street, I decided at the end of last year that all my clothing and accessories purchases should be a) well considered and b) a little more ethical and long-lasting. I literally have had enough of cheap, man-made fibres, mass production and unethical manufacturing (the fact that I'm reading this book only cements my decisions), and am at the age where I can now afford to help make a small difference through my purchase choices. I looked at all the usual satchel companies, and while they were made in the UK, and were all incredibly beautiful (oh, wonderful red satchel, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....), we just don't have almost £90 to spend on what is essentially just a bag. The other issue, for me, was the size of them - I'm going to be carrying a newborn in a sling, while trying to keep hold of a toddler - a whopping great satchel whacking me on the backside while I run down the road after the Boy is really not a situation I ever want to be in.

After trawling the internet for what seemed like hours, and dismissing everything I came across, I was almost ready to give up and head to the charity shops. Then suddenly (there was practically a fanfare), I stumbled across eco-friendly company Scaramanga. The first thing I noticed, I have to be honest, is the styling - beautiful pictures with lovely bags, in all shapes and sizes. My interest captured, I read through the ethical policy section of the site, and it was then that I got really excited - all of the bags for sale are not only handmade, and fairly traded, but the leather is tanned using traditional methods rather than the new-fangled chemical format. Hurrah for chemical free accessories, I thought, and fired off a quick e-mail to find out a bit more.

Carl Morenikeji, the owner and founder of Scaramanga, replied the very next day, and told me all about the business and how things started out (simply bringing things home from his travels to sell on) - they launched officially in 2006, and still use all of the original suppliers to this day. Eventually things grew, and the company now stock a variety of accessories and homewares, all fairly traded and handmade (I've got my eye on the cushion covers, and if money were no object, some of those old suitcases....).

The most wonderful vintage cushion covers and bedspreads
Retro-fabric covered notebooks

Heart-shaped stamps!

Take Che shopping with you....
The bag I've chosen is the Mini Wide Leather Satchel (11 inch), and comes in at £49.50 - a bargain considering it's both guilt and chemical free, and will last me years and years. It seems almost too good to be true that it has internal pockets, and is lined in teal, one of my favourite colours - my biggest complaint about my current bag was that I could never find anything, and would spend ages standing at the front door wailing, "but where have my keys gone?" The Husband has kindly offered to buy it for me as a birthday present, so expect to see a post around the middle of February, complete with pictures of me looking incredibly pleased with my new bag!

I don't usually endorse products on my blog - the whole thing is entirely non-profit, and I haven't even considered using advertising. I chose to post about Scaramanga because I felt they were a great company, who fitted in with the theme of my ramblings, and sold beautiful, ethical things. I have received no payment, and no goods have changed hands. At least, not until the Husband orders my birthday present.....

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

lately, music and clothes

Television over Christmas was more than a little dire, (Downton Abbey, The Borrowers and the epic Great Expectations were my viewing saviours. Gillian Anderson's Miss. Havisham was nothing short of marvelous - who would have thought she would be portraying one of literatures greatest known characters back when she was covered in alien goo, investigating the Smoking Man?) so I found myself tuning in more than ever to my beloved Radio 4, and watching music videos on Youtube.

Florence and the Machine

I absolutely never tire of listening to Florence. And every time I watch her, I'm captivated by her amazing voice and consider dying my hair auburn. Oh, and she wears amazingly beautiful vintage clothes.

Emmy the Great

I discovered Emmy when some of her music appeared on our system at work - and then by happy chance, ended up contributing an illustration of her to Amelias Magazine for a review of her new album.

Au Revoir Simone

This remains one of my favourite songs, and always gets me singing, even when I'm in the depths of an almighty pregnancy-grump. I love the fact that it's a little bit electro, but not in the same way that makes you feel like you should be in a club, waving a glo-stick in the air. *shuffles off to fetch zimmer frame*


My current favourite song, also found on the system at work, hurrah. For some reason, it reminds me of when I was traveling and living in New Zealand, which is peculiar as it obviously wasn't even written then!

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

A permanent favourite, and almost never off of repeat - 'Home' makes me want to wear sundresses and go and live in the deep South. Lush.

I've also been torturing myself with the People Tree sale, and lamenting the loss of my waistline. I have a hate-hate relationship with maternity clothes (the expense, the fabrics, the sheer ugliness of them....) and keep trying to find ways of wearing my own clothes without looking like I might explode out of them at any moment. (Watch out! She's going to blow!) If I had the money (and wasn't smuggling a bowling ball) I would almost certainly buy these pretties:

Orla Kiely, how I do I love thee? Let me count the ways.....

In other news, we've decided to give cloth nappies a go this time around, and have managed to buy some very cheaply from a friend. The thing that puts most people off of using re-usable nappies, I think (apart from the, err, washing part), is the initial cost - to kit yourself out completely costs around £300, which is an awful lot of money if you consider that the whole thing might cause you incredible amounts of stress and you end up irritated and sending your husband to the nearest shop for disposables. Or something. Ahem. We've managed to get enough for next-to-no-pence to last about two days before having to wash a load (although I can't imagine leaving them in the bucket for that long....erk....) and are going to top up with eco-disposables in between until we work out if cloth really does work for us. The only thing I wouldn't compromise for an ethical choice this time around is my sanity - sorry Mother Earth, my brain cells come first.

Also, if you loathe Topshop as much as I do (loud music, young people pushing and shoving, overpriced clothes that don't last, terrible customer service), be sure to read this article - make sure you click on all the links as well.

Crafty post coming soon!
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