Sunday, 23 December 2012


Even though it's not actually Christmas yet, it feels like December has been the longest month. In my last post I mentioned that we've all been ill - recovery time has been slow, and now Daisy seems to have stepped things up in the teething department. My previously chilled out little lady has turned into a howling, frustrated, rosy-cheeked little thing, which means that blogging time is still pretty limited. Once I've got the kiddos settled in the evenings, tidied up and got comfy on the sofa, the only thing I've felt like doing is getting my craft on, and watching back-to-back episodes of Fringe (if you haven't heard of this amazing series, you HAVE to check it out) with the Husband.

While I've been limiting my internet time, I've managed to do a little bit of baking and quite a lot of crochet - I decided this year that as many presents as possible were going to be either handmade by me, or bought from other craftspeople. I made my friends boyfriend a tin of homemade biscuits, which included Nigel Slaters Christmas flapjacks - chewy, oaty, fruity little squares of heaven drizzled with chocolate. You can use pretty much any oats in a flapjack recipe, but I really rate Jordans rolled oats. I love them as a brand, as they fit in with my continuing ethical efforts (they support countryside preservation) and their amazing range of granola, breakfast cereals and cereal bars are ace. When I was pregnant, I used to get through boxes of their granola with natural yogurt and honey - it was one of the only things that didn't make me feel horrendously sick!

We've spent quite a while decorating the house this year, and as it was our first year with a proper porch and front garden, I decided I wanted to put something a little festive outside. I found two small fir trees in Wilkinsons, and after rummaging in the garden, I constructed a wreath from a ready-made base, some ivy (growing on our fence), a bit of holly (tucked under our fuschia tree) and bits of a table decoration from Asda. I've never been all that good at floristry or flower arranging, mostly because I'm too pernickety and get frustrated if things aren't exactly right, but I actually found making the wreath quite therapeutic. Weaving the ivy in and out, tucking the berries on.... that said, it might just have been a fluke!

We've been finding new (to us) decorations, and also exclaiming with joy over uncovering old ones. I try to buy a new one every year, and this year I found some in my favourite homewares shop, Flo and Stans - they do amazing vintage and kitsch bits and bobs, so I knew I'd find something ace in there. I'm loving how our little lounge looks now (apologies for the photograph quality - the light was awful!), and one of my favourite things to do in the evening is curl up on the sofa, light a festive candle and watch TV. As much as I love all of those minimalist, clean, white Scandinavian design houses, I have way too much stuff to live like that!

Banister decorations courtesy of Benjamin.

Handmade card from Ooh La Lapin

Finding old favourites - this is my one and only example of machine embroidery!

Candles, candles, candles.

Hurrah for festive mugs!

Vintage baubles from Flo and Stans.

We also went last weekend to take Benjamin to see Father Christmas at our local garden centre, and despite waiting for almost two hours, I'm so glad we did. He was absolutely thrilled, and adored seeing the donkeys and reindeer, and I always love wandering round looking at the little Christmas ornaments (although I do tend to get nervously sweaty palms - a four year old and £75 mechanical decorations do NOT mix....).

Daisy decided to be in charge of the umbrella.

Beautiful twinkly mechanical ornaments.

Apart from the mad festive preparations, I've also managed to find some great bits on eBay, dye my hair and drink loooooots of tea.....

Lovely vintage magazines, newspapers and books found for pennies on eBay.

Dying my hair red, vintage market finds, amazing knitted turbans, tea galore.

Handmade doll from Ooh La Lapin, extra goodies in my package, paper decorations, a homemade wreath.

There's a good chance I won't get to blog between now and January, so I'm going to sign off by saying a very merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. Thank you for reading, and for all your comments - and I promise to try and blog a little more frequently (or at least regularly!) in the new year. Have a wonderful time!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Jordans cereal - I wasn't paid, but they sent me a box of porridge, and some nutty bars, which were very tasty indeed.

Monday, 17 December 2012

ask her friends giveaway - the winner

It's been a long old week since I last blogged, and I wasn't planning on having such a long break but sometimes life has a habit of getting right in the way. We've all been horribly ill, with a wide selection of Winters best viruses, which meant that I either didn't have time or didn't feel like getting up and tapping away at the laptop. But (touch wood!) things seem to be looking up now, so I'm pleased to be back with the results of the lovely giveaway from AskHerFriends.

Picked courtesy of, I'm happy to announce that the winner is:

Number one - Sitting in the Kitchen Sink. Drop me an email with your details, and I'll pass them on so you can claim your prize. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

clothes for the day (well, evening)

Last Friday, for the first time in about a year, I actually left the house after dark and went Out. I've capitalised the word 'out' because since it's somewhere I go so little in the evenings, I now class it as an actual place, like London, Paris or Berlin. As most of you know, I'm on maternity leave at the moment, but still get classed as a member of staff, which meant I was invited to the annual Christmas shant, complete with memorable secret santa gifts (last year I was heavily pregnant, and received a multi-pack of crisps and a pair of 56 inch waist jeans...). So, when I got dressed up for the first time in a year, this is what I wore. Drum roll..... drrrrrr........

I wrote about my dress in the last post (a 1940's-esque bargain triumph from eBay), and the cardigan was from Paul Smith as part of my staff allowance. The fur collar was £1.50 from a charity shop (found that morning), the shoes were £4.99 from good old eBay, the bangle was from a stall at Southsea Boutique Market (which annoyingly, I now can't remember the name of - they had some lovely handmade jewellery as well), and the bag is an old one from a charity shop which was about £3.99, if I remember rightly. And to top it all off, my coat, my beeeeyoootiful coat, in all it's furry, mustard-y glory.
I did actually contemplate styling my newly dyed locks (it's actually a much redder colour than it looks here), but then I spent too much time reading Vintage Life magazine in the bath and watching crap afternoon telly, and I ran out of time. Maybe next time!

PS Our lounge is never that tidy. To the right of me, cropped out of the shot, is a pile of 'stuff' that I swept off of the top the bookcase and onto the floor. One day, I will be neat.....

Monday, 10 December 2012

nifty thrifty

A while back, I posted a picture of some shoes and whatnot on Instagram, and mentioned that I was selling off half of my wardrobe to fund lovely new buys. In the last four years I've had two babies, and two doses of anaemia, which means my weight has yo-yo'd and most of my clothes were miles too big - what better reason to buy lots of nice new (old!) ones?

Everything was, as usual, found in either charity shops or eBay, and the most expensive thing was my ace new coat, which was a teeny tiny £25.

1980's leaf print dress - eBay, £4

This red leaf print dress was a £4 bargain from eBay - it's 1980's Dorothy Perkins, but shaped like a 1940's number, and I loooove it. It's got a lovely nipped-in waist and a tulip shaped skirt - obviously I'd have preferred it to be genuine 1940's, but I'm skint and beggars can't be choosers!

Cable cardigan - The British Heart Foundation, £3.99

I love a good bit of 'Nan knitwear', like this cabled, patterned cardigan-wonder. It was £3.99 from the British Heart Foundation shop and is actually a lovely mint green colour, which is one of my favourites (after mustard and teal!).

Lovely tweed-y 1980's Dorothy Perkins jacket - Salvation Army, £5.99

Knitted sleeveless cardigan thingy - Brain Injury Charity, £3.99

Lovely green pleated dress - eBay, £4.99

The green pleated dress above was another eBay bargain - it looks pretty big, but is actually a size ten, and fits perfectly. It's sort of drop-waisted, which I don't usually bother with, but I was sold by the lovely colour and gold buttons. I'm thinking I might wear it with my faux fur coat and 1940's style shoes. As much as I love vintage, I find it hard to stick to one era - I often seem to end up mixing it up quite a lot, and then sticking on a pair of modern boots to finish it off. I'd love to spend more time in authentic outfits, but a lack of time (hair curling with two children anyone?) and money (from my research, a genuine 1940's dress usually costs around £65. I usually manage to spend about a fiver on new clothes) makes it near on impossible. One day!

1970's Tie-neck Dress - Brain Injury Charity, £4.99

1970's Floral Smock Dress - Brain Injury Charity, £3.99

The Brain Injury charity shop that opened near us was a goldmine a couple of weeks back - they'd actually created a proper vintage section (albeit a small one), which I made a serious dent in. There was also a vintage vanity case that I'm still thinking about now, which you might end up seeing in a future post....

One of my favourite finds was a dress from a New York flea market (via eBay), that was apparently from the 1940's (which I'm a leeeeetle suspicious of, but I love it regardless). There's beading, there's a fitted waistline, there's buttons and it's a beautiful jade colour. I wore it to my work Christmas party (I'm on maternity leave, but still very much a member of staff, ha!), with some shoes I found on eBay and a Paul Smith cardigan - I actually found enough time to take some pictures before I went out, so there will be an actual outfit post coming up. But for now, behold. The dress:

I've saved my absolute favourite find for last - I think everyone has one vintage item that they're constantly looking for, and stays in the back of their mind whenever they're shopping. Ever since I started buying vintage clothes (about ten years ago now, crikey), I've been desperate to find a mustard coloured coat with a big fur collar. Two weeks ago, on wonderful eBay, I finally found my long lost love for a bargain price of £25. She's a beaut, and I've worn her everywhere since - with dresses and jeans, shoes and boots, and even my old battered Converse. I love her. I think we'll be very happy together.

Look at that collar!
PS: If you haven't entered yet, I've got a giveaway going on at the moment. A £30 gift voucher, redeemable against any item on AskHerFriends. Quick, go and enter!
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